Nothing succeeds like excess


Since the holidays are just around the corner, we thought we'd check in with that lavish package of holiday cheer known as the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog. Here are the bare basics of what you need to know about this year's version:

Most expensive gift: A $12 million-plus Bombardier Learjet 60 (above) complete with standing room luxury cabin for eight. Give it to your mom.

Least expensive gift: A silver-plated calendar paperweight at $15. Give it to your boss.

Gift you'd want to return but can't because it's custom: A $10,000 mermaid suit (right), crafted just for the wearer out of gold urethane and complete with a faux-pearl-accented shell top. Sure it comes with swim training, but would you ever wear it to the pool, you big chicken of the sea? We didn't think so. Give it to your former best friend.

Gift we find ourselves wanting, even though we know better: A $50,000 set of the first black Monogram Multicolor Louis Vuitton luggage ever created, and made just for Neiman Marcus. Give it to yourself.

Gift we might actually buy someone: Burberry plaid cotton PJs. $285 for men's. Give them to your dad.

Order the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book for $15 by calling 800-NEIMANS or surf the items on their Web site:

The scent of a preppy

Pink and green grosgrain ribbon belts. Lilly Pulitzer corduroy skirts. Fair isle sweaters.

We all know what preppy looks like. But what does preppy smell like? According to Lacoste -- aka those alligator-shirt people credited with starting the whole preppy revolution -- a preppy woman smells fun-loving and enthusiastic. Its new fragrance, Lacoste Pour Femme, which made its debut last month, is a fusion of white heliotrope flower, jasmine and hibiscus with a dash of sandalwood and cedar. The scent is exotic and aromatic and focuses on rich natural ingredients.

The bottle, like a picture-perfect prep, is slim, elegant and minimalist. And yes, of course, it bears an alligator.

Lacoste Pour Femme costs $20 for shower gel to $60 for 3 ounces of eau de parfum spray. It is available at Hecht's and Lord & Taylor stores.

Helping out by glamming up

Since 1994, M.A.C.'s Viva Glam lipsticks have offered a way to look chic and help fight a deadly disease. One hundred percent of the purchase price of any of the company's $14 Viva Glam lipsticks benefit the M.A.C. AIDS Fund, which helps provide support to people living with HIV and AIDS.

For a limited time, M.A.C. is offering all four Viva Glam lipsticks in one sleek compact. We're talking $28: That gets you the deep-red Viva Glam, the pinky-mauve Viva Glam II, the brown-plum Viva Glam III, and Viva Glam IV, rose charged with gold.

The M.A.C. Viva Glam Quad is available at and at all M.A.C. stores in Annapolis, Bethesda, Columbia and Towson.

Fun frocks for the holidays

You've got to love a holiday dress that's fun, retro and affordable. That being said, our vote for some of the cutest dresses around for the young and young at heart goes to the holiday line from the junior line Speechless. We like the tulle overlay on the strapless party dress a la Grace Kelly(below), the sweet halter top on the shimmery polka-dotted number a la Betty Boop (above) and the teasing layer of red tulle peeking out from the hem of a black tank dress. Prices start at $49.

Speechless dresses are available at Hecht's, Kohl's, Macy's, Sears and other stores.

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