Who I Am and Why I Love Classic Things


(ABOVE) Me, June 2016.  In this post, I tell why I decided to start a blog and YouTube channel.


Thank you so much for visiting my blog, and welcome.

I am a 56-year-old, Corpus Christie, Texas-born girly-girl who now lives in Southwest Florida.  I arrived via The Hague, Holland; London, England;  Houston, Texas; La Jolla, California; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Los Angeles, California.

With my mother at our home in La Jolla, California, 1969. When I wasn’t at the beach or swimming in our pool, I would sit on our fence or in a tree and stare out at the ocean. I still love water today, whether it’s a tiny fish pond, a lake, or the sea.

I also am a wife (my husband and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary in 2017), a former co-host of a Southwest Florida visitor’s television channel, and a former editor of and writer for several upscale South Florida lifestyle magazines.  I am passionate about all things classic–and living a holistic, healthful lifestyle.

I hope you will stay awhile and have a look, and if you enjoy this blog please come back and visit again.  I post new features one or more times a week.

Warmest Regards,

Janis Lyn Johnson

P.S. For additional information about me, my personal style, and why I created this blog…

Standing at the entry courtyard to our Pittsburgh home (1928 Brandon Smith tudor). There was a fireplace in my bedroom and French doors that opened to a wrought-iron Juliet balcony. I loved everything about this classic house--even the bats in the third-story attic.
Here I am in 1972, standing in the entry courtyard of our Pittsburgh home.  My bedroom in this 1928 Brandon Smith tudor had a gas-lit fireplace and French doors that opened to a wrought-iron Juliet balcony. I loved everything about this house–even the bats in the third-story attic.  (More photographs of this home here.)

The Meaning of “Classic”

Q: Does classic mean “class” or “classy”?

JLJ: If for you “class” or “classy” mean pleasing, understated and timeless, then yes, classic means class or classy.  For me, something is classic when a) it stands the test of time; (b) it appears to not try too hard and gives a feeling of ease and effortlessness; (c) it isn’t garish or off-putting, and shows restraint and appropriateness; and (d) it elicits, at best, delight and appreciation, and at worst it isn’t even noticed.  Classic never shocks.

Beginning the Blog

Q: Why a lifestyle blog?

JLJ: I started this blog because I couldn’t find anything in contemporary media that reflected my tastes and lifestyle–who I am and the sort of things I want to know more about.  I knew there had to be plenty of other women in the world who were just like me, so I decided if I couldn’t find it, I would create it.

In the cobblestone courtyard of our home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, autumn 1976.  I had so much fun cheerleading at SSA (Shady Side Academy), but I’m afraid I wasn’t very good at it.  I could smile, yell, and do cartwheels, and that was about all.

About Me

Q: How would I describe myself?

JLJ: I suppose you could say I’m what a friend once described as “a Charlotte” (and I’m not sure she considered it a compliment).  My friend was referring to Charlotte York, the traditionalist romantic on the 1998-2004 U.S. television series “Sex In The City” (which also became two feature films).  Played by Kristen Davis, Charlotte was and still is one of my favorite fictional characters (along with Mary Crawley on the television series  “Downton Abbey”. I miss that program so much!).

Charlotte also was the one at whom the other girls often rolled their eyes, because they thought she was so naive. I loved Charlotte’s hopeful, cheerful, conservative wholesomeness.  I loved how kind and polite she always tried to be (I wish I could be so gracious).  I loved Charlotte’s understated and natural, fresh-scrubbed look, the classic way she dressed, styled her hair, and decorated her apartment on Park Avenue in New York City.  Charlotte inspired me to be perfectly comfortable with not being so-called “cool”.

Actress Kristen Davis (2nd from left), as Charlotte York on “Sex in The City.”  (Photo: officialkristendavis.com)

But there are few Charlottes in the media today, because edgy, cynical, and irreverent are vogue.  And that makes me feel so…well…frustrated, sad, baffled (and several other emotions that I can’t quite put my finger on).  Add to that the fact that I turn 56 this year (2016), and the media would have me and anyone like me believe that I am an old, ugly, irrelevant anachronism–especially since I stopped trying to camouflage my graying hair in 2012, and I don’t want to have a face lift, botox, or fillers.

By all means, I wholly support and respect any person who does believe in doing these things—of course–but they just aren’t for me.

My hope is, by putting my un-edgy, sentimental, over-50, un-cool, always-a-little-disheveled, classic-bent self into a blog for the world to see, I might be of some support to other women who also just want to be their classic selves.

For more about my personal style…

With my parents and oldest brother, after my high school graduation, 1978.  Back then for graduation day at SSA, all the girls were required to wear a navy blue blazer and white blouse and skirt. It is such a great classic outfit, I would still wear the combination today (with a pencil skirt).

Why Follow My Style

Q: I’m not a celebrity and I’m not in the fashion industry, so why would anyone want to know about my style?

JLJ: I think, because my taste is classic and it isn’t dictated by design trends, my style is relatable to women of all ages.  I am a real person who gets dressed in the morning for a real life–not for New York Fashion Week, reality TV, or paparazzi.  Truly, how many of us look like one of the women on any of the “The Real Housewives”  television shows (which I love, by the way).  These women go shopping in five-inch-high heels, which looks amazing and is definitely admirable.  But my poor feet would pay the price and I probably would break my neck.

What I love about classic style is that it makes good sense.  Not only does it flatter any body type and at any age, but it’s intrinsically appropriate to the occasion and doesn’t sacrifice comfort or health for beauty.  If a classic woman plans to do a lot of walking, like shopping at a mall, she wears a cute, lower-heeled shoe or sandal.  She may not be the peacock who attracts photographers, but a classic woman is okay with that.  And if you are a woman who’s a peacock, I think that’s fantastic, too.  I enjoy admiring you and all your lovely feathers.

Touring China with my mother in the summer of 1980. I swear we did not purposely plan to match. But oh how I wish I’d kept that classic, pleated-front, floral shift dress.

Developing Personal Style By Observation

Q: I’m not an expert, so how can I help you navigate the do’s and don’ts, and more, of classic fashion or home decorating?

JLJ: All I can do is share what I like and have learned up to this point.  The fashion and lifestyle bloggers who inspire me most are regular women just like me, not experts, who are not afraid to feature themselves—even on days when they may not look their best.  To me, because our hair or makeup or outfit is not always perfect—or we obviously did not get enough sleep–it makes our blogs more relatable and interesting.  I think it’s inspiring when others are not afraid to try and maybe fail but put it out there nonetheless.  There are enough wins, in my opinion, to keep readers interested.

Pablo Picasso once said, “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn to do it.”  I think creating fashion and home decorating are similar.  I continually develop my own style by observing what others do, and trying it out for myself—with my own twist added in.

My youngest brother and I take our mother out for her 82nd birthday, 2009. Although I’ve had the Ann Taylor cable-knit sweater and Talbots embroidered split-neck tunic for years, their classic style still looks current today.

Expensive Taste, Frugal Budgeting

Q: What do I mean when I say my taste is expensive but my mentality, Depression-era?

JLJ: My brothers and I are products of parents who were children during the Great Depression.  Neither of their families had money, so they learned at a young age the importance of fiscal prudence.  By the time I was in middle school, my father had become an executive vice president for a large company.  Our family lived in a Pittsburgh suburb on 12 acres, in a 1928 brick tudor with seven fireplaces, eight bedrooms, a ballroom and wood-paneled study in the main house and a two-bedroom apartment above a three-car garage.  Yet, still, our go-to stores were Sears and K-Mart. Being frugal is in my DNA.

To see a video featuring excerpts from my YouTube channel and this blog, click here.

To learn about my heal-your-body eating plan (I have had some health issues, but because of my change in diet, I am finally experiencing the disappearance of most symptoms), click here.

32 comments on Who I Am and Why I Love Classic Things

  1. sandy davis
    August 11, 2015 at 2:51 pm (2 years ago)

    I just read your blog and it was like spending the afternoon with you. Loved it and you.

    • JLJ
      August 11, 2015 at 9:39 pm (2 years ago)

      Sandy, thank you for that. What a wonderful thing to say!

  2. Catherine S. Vodrey
    August 11, 2015 at 6:15 pm (2 years ago)

    Love the site, and am in total agreement that there are hardly any resources out there for us classic women. Please put me on your email list!

    • JLJ
      August 11, 2015 at 9:37 pm (2 years ago)

      Another classic lady. Yay! And I’m so glad you like it, Catherine! I will put you on the list.

  3. Carol Haberer
    August 24, 2015 at 11:25 am (2 years ago)

    Janis, so pleased I receive this and would love to see more. The Carmel house is Gorgeous! Haven’t seen you in many years, but you look gorgeous, too!!

    • JLJ
      August 24, 2015 at 5:30 pm (2 years ago)

      Carol, it is so nice to connect with you–and thank you!!

  4. Amy Anthony
    September 2, 2015 at 11:10 am (2 years ago)

    Could I be added to your email distribution list? I’m dear friends with Julie Adams and she is always forwarding your stuff to me. Much thanks. Amy Anthony

    • JLJ
      September 2, 2015 at 6:14 pm (2 years ago)

      Definitely–and thank you for leaving a comment about it. You are officially on the list now!

  5. Hope
    September 19, 2015 at 10:02 pm (2 years ago)

    Janis, I finally made the time this evening to meander thru your JLJ site and truly enjoyed everything I saw and read. I have always appreciated and admired your style and believe that the attraction of a classic syle in clothing is that people of any height, weight or shape can pull it off. My mother always told me to buy the “basics” and then I could mix and match. Over the years I found that I bought clothing with that thought in mind but also learned to invite some classic styles, prints, textures and even a little bling (not nessarily a classic staple), without it being too over the top. To me, being “classic”, whether referring to clothing, jewelry, home decor, appropriate manners or the way we carry ourselves speaks volumes. Understated, polished but noticeable and as my grandmother said, “never goes out of style”. For me it was learning the art of balance and that less was more. I smiled as I read of your love for Charlotte York and Audra Barclay….we have much in common! Thank you for putting the time into JLJ Back to Classic. Very enjoyable! Hope

    • JLJ
      September 20, 2015 at 12:16 pm (2 years ago)

      Hope, my goodness, what a beautiful comment. “Understated, polished but noticeable” is such a great way to describe classic. And I am with you on the “little bling”–it’s so fun. As for Charlotte York, I so miss her! Thank you for taking the time to stop by here and leave such a kind and eloquently stated opinion!

  6. Jean Dotts
    November 29, 2015 at 1:40 am (2 years ago)

    Just discovered your blog and am very excited to explore your inspirational words. I live in Corpus Christi. I was born and raised in Houston but have been here since 1975. I have a vintage clothing shop on Etsy called Bop and Awe. I do all the purchasing and modeling. I am 66 and still going strong or at least trying to. Thanks for your insights. I feel we are connected through Corpus. My husband has an advertising agency here. Please check out my shop if you think it might be of interest. I like to think that my inventory is classic and refined.

    • JLJ
      November 29, 2015 at 2:34 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you, Jean–a fellow Texan (and from both cities in which I, too, once lived)! I look forward to visiting your “classic and refined” (yay!) Etsy shop–I appreciate you letting me know about it! So glad to meet another over-40 woman who is still going strong.

  7. Andrea Walduck
    April 28, 2016 at 5:26 am (1 year ago)

    Thank you for such inspiration. I have been trying to identify my style personality, as I believe it is now called, and feel as though I have become lost along the way. Whilst I knew that I liked to be feminine,and liked things traditional in the home, I now recognise who I am – Classic Feminine. Family and friends have tried to encourage me to be more trendy but I never feel comfortable in myself. Seeing your pops of colour in accessories, I feel that I have learnt so much. Thank you. My best wishes. Andrea

    • JLJ
      May 2, 2016 at 10:29 pm (1 year ago)

      Andrea, I’m so happy that you are now comfortable with your classic, feminine style. That’s wonderful! Thank you for watching my videos and for commenting. Cheers to you! ~Janis

  8. mila
    May 12, 2016 at 5:41 am (1 year ago)

    I’m so glad I found your YouTube channel. You really are what I have been looking for without finding anyone. It’s like Classic is the last thing anyone wants to be these days.

    • JLJ
      May 12, 2016 at 10:20 am (1 year ago)

      Thank you, Mila! I’m thrilled you love classic, too. I know exactly how you feel!! Thank you for your comment! ~Janis

  9. Joan
    June 3, 2016 at 8:29 pm (1 year ago)

    I just found you today on youtube and decided to visit your blog also.I hope you keep on blogging and doing your videos because us classical women need you and your lovely style. I live in Texarkana, TX and don’t get to travel much anymore so I really enjoy that you take us along with you when you go shopping. Anything about Naples, Fl I like. I was only able to visit there once and so enjoyed everything about the place. Enjoy yourself, take care, and keep on blogging. I love it!

    • JLJ
      June 7, 2016 at 10:19 am (1 year ago)

      Thank you, Texan Joan! I am thrilled you enjoy my vlogs. I appreciate your support and encouragement so much! Cheers ~Janis

  10. Linda Jean Stevens
    June 12, 2016 at 3:59 am (1 year ago)

    Hello. I recently connected with your Blog Janis and I am thrilled. It’s so enjoyable, the YouTube videos too. Your style is so me and it’s lovely to read and watch. Looking forward to a whole lot more. Linda, Derbyshire UK.

    • JLJ
      June 14, 2016 at 9:41 am (1 year ago)

      Hi, Linda Jean from Derbyshire, UK! I am so happy you found and like my blog and YouTube channel. It’s exciting to think you are way over there and able to see what I am doing here in Florida. Isn’t the Internet amazing and wonderful! Wonderful meeting you. ~Janis

  11. Kathie
    June 14, 2016 at 1:28 pm (1 year ago)

    I absolutely LOVE your blog and you tube show. I too, love the classic style. I’ve also let my hair gray (after I shaved it to get the color completely out to start over). I like that you wear makeup, too. Too many women think the classic style is ‘frumpy’ and it’s not. Applied correctly, every lady looks better with a little bit of makeup.

    • JLJ
      June 14, 2016 at 1:39 pm (1 year ago)

      Kathie, hi! I’m so happy you found my blog and channel! You know, I enjoy the freedom of going without makeup occasionally, but I would miss it so much if I stopped wearing it all together. It’s just so fun and girly. I’m currently experimenting with different eyeshadow colors and having loads of fun with it. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. ~Janis

  12. Emmy
    July 22, 2016 at 12:53 pm (11 months ago)

    You are such a natural beauty! Would you mind sharing your secrets on how you get such beautiful long eyelashes?

    • JLJ
      July 28, 2016 at 12:20 pm (11 months ago)

      Hi, Emmy! Thank you! Sure, I always wear the same one these days. I discovered it about 9 months ago and am hooked, because it thickens and lengthens well. It’s an all natural/organic formula. Here’s the link:http://amzn.to/1LpSMKU
      Thank you so much for taking the time to visit, to read this section about me, and for commenting!! Cheers ~Janis

  13. Sharon
    August 6, 2016 at 6:11 pm (11 months ago)

    Please add me to your list. I enjoy your blog and videos very much.

  14. Louise Crimmel Myrvik
    August 10, 2016 at 9:45 am (11 months ago)

    Found your blog via Susan – “50, Not Frumpy. Live in Florida (one year) and adjusting to the heat and humidity. Saw you used to live in my hometown, La Jolla.

    • JLJ
      August 24, 2016 at 10:02 am (10 months ago)

      Hi, Louise! That’s wonderful! How is it you found me through Susan at 50 Not Frumpy? I’d love to know, so I can thank here very much!! Yes, we lived in La Jolla when I was 9 — in 1969 — and we used to go to Black Beach all the time. It was a family beach back then, for our neighborhood, which was above it. It was the first place we lived that I was sad to leave. I loved it there. The heat and humidity here do take adjusting to! It can be like being in a bathroom with the shower turned onto high hot! Very steamy. I spend most of the time in air-conditioning all summer, to be honest — unless I’m taking a walk or gardening. Hope you are enjoying it more and more. Thank you for visiting my blog! ~Janis

  15. Betty Dondle
    January 14, 2017 at 9:20 pm (5 months ago)

    Hello JLJ,

    Even though we were raised it seems to me worlds apart, I absolutely agree that simple everyday manners, politeness, appropriateness, earnestness, and kindness are sorely missing in today’s society as a whole. A life fill with or even visited by classics and / or
    being classy is so needed; but so misunderstood.

    • JLJ
      January 15, 2017 at 10:47 am (5 months ago)

      Hi, Betty! Oh my goodness, you eloquently describe my feelings – especially your comment about classic being so misunderstood. I remember talking to a man in the retail fashion business about 20 years ago. We were discussing style, and when I brought up classic style, he said it was stodgy and boring. He just couldn’t see what I see… Thank you so much for visiting my blog and leaving your comment. We are two peas in a pod! Cheers ~ Janis

  16. Adele Trimble
    March 14, 2017 at 8:48 pm (3 months ago)

    I’ve spent the day sick in bed and found your YouTube channel. What a pleasant way to spend a suck day! I enjoy your style and personality, as well as healthy living. I also recognized some of those shopping areas in Naples! You’ve got a new subscriber from Michigan.

    • Adele Trimble
      March 14, 2017 at 8:49 pm (3 months ago)

      I meant “sick day”… 😬

    • JLJ
      March 26, 2017 at 11:51 am (3 months ago)

      Hi, Adele! I’m so happy you found me, but I’m sorry you had to be sick! I hope you are all better now. Thank you so much for subscribing and for taking the time to leave me your comment! Be well ~ Janis


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