WSJ OFF DUTY Summer Solstice Celebration


To swing into summer, we’ve again asked several accomplished women we admire to come up with 10 suggestions for a sweet season. Returning this year is one of our favorites, Deborah Needleman, editor-in-chief of  T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and the author of  The Perfectly Imperfect Home. —Ed.




Favorite Summer Destination: The Indiana dunes. My husband’s mother has a house on Lake Michigan where my family spends the end of each summer. The dunes and the beach are beautiful, and there is nothing to do but spend time with one another. It is a blissful prelude to the madness of September.

Indiana DunesImage from Flickr via

Current Summer Reading: I was in Istanbul the day before the protests began in Taksim Square. Before going, I read three books by Orhan Pamuk, including his memoir Istanbul and the novel The Museum of Innocence, which are almost like companion volumes on the melancholy and loss that pervade the city. The place and its history are so rich and tragic and beautiful, and the people are unbelievably generous. Now I’m eager to read anything I can find on Turkish and Ottoman culture.

Today I started the The Flamethrowers, by Rachel Kushner, which my husband loved and downloaded onto my iPad. And I have a stack of recommended reading from my friend Nicky Haslam—The Hare with Amber Eyes and several books by Janet Flanner.

Needleman Books Summer 2103


What to Wear to a Summer Party: Carolina Herrera’s printed dresses are so chic, a little playful, and very flattering.

Carolina Herrera[3]


Favorite Summer Fragrance: When the weather warms up, I find myself returning to Jo Malone’s citrusy Verbenas of Provence. I love the scent of lemon and orange flowers. I keep Meyer lemon trees, and the fragrance of the blossoms in the winter is transporting.


Necessary Summer Indulgence: RODIN body oil. Because I use so much and it is expensive, I use Avon Skin So Soft oil in the tub because I can use it recklessly without guilt. The fragrance is quite good.

Rodin Body Oil[4]

Preferred Seasonal Spa Fix: I’m heading to the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California, in July, where I look forward to massages and long walks in the woods. Taking better care of my body and my health is really the spa fix I need.

Post Ranch Inn

Favorite House Gift for a Summer Weekend Invitation: I’m rarely a guest and often a host, and I don’t really expect or want gifts from my friends. I like when they bring cheeses or something good to drink, though. And jewels are always welcome, but rarely proffered.


Favorite Summer Entertaining Tip: I believe in repetition: When you find a good way of doing something, of entertaining, a recipe you like, just repeat yourself. It’s so much easier. Being calm and happy are by far the most important attributes of a host. Being organized helps with that.


Preferred Summer Accessories: Lately I’ve been very routine-driven in the dressing department. Goldsign jeans from J.Crew (pictured below) are my new favorite, worn with Vans or Rafael de Cárdenas’ Rivieras, the classic French slip-on. And if I need to dress it up a bit, a Stella McCartney blazer (pictured below) and a Louboutin heel takes it up a notch. 

Deborah Needleman Summer


Current Film on Your List to See This Summer: My 14-year-old daughter and I have watched every rom-com on Apple TV, so now I’m working my way through every basketball movie with my son. I recently re-watched Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides. I’m ready to see Lost in Translation again.

Sophia Coppola

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  • quintessence August 2, 2013 at 10:05 am

    I adore everything Deborah Needleman does – The Journal is not the same without her but T magazine is looking fab. And all her picks here are spot on!

  • Diane Dettmann June 22, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Loved Post Ranch, celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary there in 1997. I still remember the Pacific views and watching the sunset over the ocean. My loving husband, John, died on June 30, 2000. Thank you Deborah for triggering wonderful memories of Post Ranch with its awesome views, relaxing massages and the rejuvenation of the spirit.

  • roz warren June 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    The Indiana dunes! Yes! Haven’t been back since my Michigan childhood but I have great memories of climbing up — and rolling down!

  • B. Elliott June 21, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Love your choices. Can’t wait to try the Jo Malone verbena Provence!