Nana Macdonald

My blog’s first guest post is by Donna M. Macdonald.  She offers this remembrance of her paternal grandmother, who lived most of her life in Watertown, Massachusetts.  Donna is the beauty and style writer for and lives in Wickford, Rhode Island. She also blogs at

MacDonaldRecently my brother shared some old family slides and as a beauty/fashion writer, the images of my grandmother, Anne Macdonald (1904-1987), were particularly interesting to me. However nonchalant she may have been about it, she had great panache. She never read Vogue or other fashion magazines, and was raised as any good first generation Italian girl – she learned cooking, sewing, and knitting at home out of necessity. Delightfully, I discovered her classic style measures up today in many ways even though at the time, I only saw her as an older person. She was never “young” to me because our lives overlapped only 30 years.

In this photograph she is sitting beside my grandfather at about age 72, in a polyester blend dress I remember as her 1970’s dress up outfit.  I love the peach chiffon scarf wrapped about her neck and I think it was a great choice with the grey and taupe paisley stripes on her dress.

She is also wearing her signature silver cuff that a beloved brother brought her from India, after WWII. The bracelet had 40 silver beads which jangled enchantingly, and she wore it every time she got dressed up. As well, the small screw on pearl earrings, and her classic platinum pave diamond ring, barely seen.

My grandmother sewed most of her own dresses as she felt anything bought in the shops was usually inferior. She also knit her own sweaters. I can see her in a Liberty print shift made on her black enamel Singer, along with a pastel mohair cardigan tossed chicly across her shoulders. The sweaters almost always had mother-of-pearl buttons, and she always carried a beautiful leather satchel style handbag. Her Ray-Bans and raspberry lipstick completed her look.

I love recalling her Barbizon nightgowns with matching robes, as bed clothes were just as important to her as day clothes. She always bought the best things she could afford on my grandfather’s furniture salesman salary, and was very frugal and discerning.

As for beauty, my grandmother’s routine was partly learned from her mother’s old country ways, such as tar soap for hair washing and olive oil for moisturizing. But she also loved Pacquins hand cream, and kept a pretty bottle of Lily of the Valley scent on her dresser.

She had an approach to style – self-created and perhaps unawares, but it was simple and timeless and she always looked wonderful.

This entry was posted in 1970s and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Nana Macdonald

  1. Lizzie says:

    Lovely! It’s great how your memories and the photos match up – that she’s wearing the items you associate with her style.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *