Héléne Bouffant’s Valentine’s Fashion Advice

Bonjour, my little pin cushions! It is February – the month of amour! I hope you all have someone to love or tolerate for the sake of the children during this month of passion.

For this month’s column, I wanted to share with you a little bit about Héléne Bouffant’s experience with love. Yes, I have been tangled in it’s snarled branches many a time before. But I wanted to write a tribute to my first love…well, my first love is fashion, of course, but my first human love was Fred Gandy – or, as you may know, him, Gopher from TV’s The Love Boat.

gopher 2
God, how I loved this man.

Our affair began during the height of his fame. Everyone wanted a piece of Gopher, back then. But he chose me, a slender, beautiful, and elegant beyond my years wardrobe assistant. Yes, that was my first fashion job – finding flattering cruise wear in the 1980s. It was hell, but the first time I measured Fred’s inseam we were drawn to each other like Gwyneth Paltrow to Chia seeds.

Oh, Fred! Now that you have retired from Congress I can finally tell the world of our passionate nights nestled among Gavin MacLeod’s captain’s uniforms at the back of the wardrobe trailer. You taught me about love, life, and seamanship. And though you broke my heart (he claimed that Héléne Bouffant could never be a politician’s wife, what my triple citizenship with France, the United States, and Pakistan), I want to dedicate this column to you.

How does a fashion column combine fashion, love, and the Gopher? Don’t be an idiot. I shall commemorate my love for the yeoman’s purser with nautical romantic fashion – just in time for Valentine’s Day. Here are some items to consider for a Valentine’s date with your seaman!


Nautical Bib Necklace at Henri Bendle
For a romantic ride in a rowboat, why not make a statement with this bib necklace by Peter Som? It says, “I thought about this date and all of its relevant themes, and I accessorized accordingly.” Your date will be touched by your attention to detail. Caution: Do be sure to bring some vaseline for your neck to prevent chafing.


nautical mod cloth 1
For a stroll along the beach, hand in hand with your loved one, why not throw on this adorable pair of ocean debris heels from Mod Cloth.com? Blue like the sea, polka-dotted like a fish with an infection, and 4-inch heels that will sink sensuously into the sand as you walk. These shoes will also provide an excellent excuse to bend over in front of your intended as you repeatedly shake the sand from your shoes.



nautical ralph lauren cruise
Did you know that many high fashion designers offer collections specifically for vacations? They do! When common folk such as yourselves go on vacation, they just bring a clean pair of jeans and the nearest Mickey Mouse t-shirt. But when the wealthy vacation, they dress in “cruise wear” or “resort wear.” Should you be planning on a romantic cruise, I suggest you step it up a notch with this ensemble from Ralph Lauren’s cruise line. It says “color,” “vacation,” and “high expectations for fun!”



nautical crochet vest patchington
If Ralph Lauren is a tad out of reach, I suggest you get a second job. If that is not possible, then perhaps this look from Patchington.com will be more suitable. Nothing says “the kids are in the cruise day care and Mommy is ready to party” like a crocheted vest!



nautical dior
If neither of those options are quite your speed for your trip on the love boat, then perhaps this look from Dior’s cruise line will be more appropriate. Because sometimes, Mommy has a headache.



nautical dior 3
But if you are ready to splurge and make this Valentine’s Day adventure at sea truly special, then I must recommend this white finn raccoon and icy blue ostrich feather coat, also from Dior’s cruise line. Imagine the look on your beloved’s face when you meet him or her on the lido deck in this little number! I can just imagine what Fred would have said had he seen me in this.

“Héléne,” he would say, “what is this thing you’re wearing? Is that some kind of bird?”
“Why, no, Freddie,” I would reply, batting my lashes. “It’s 100% GOPHER.”

What can I say? I was quite saucy back in my day. And e-mail Funny Not Slutty with complaints about animal cruelty. It’s made out of raccoon, for god’s sake. Raccoons eat garbage. And ostriches become sexually mature at the age of two. They are equally disgusting…but they do make a gorgeous coat.



Let’s end with look a look at the world of fantasy – a formal gown that says, “love and romance are but my whores, and I have come to collect my money!” This gown, found on Wise Geek.com and suggested specifically for a formal evening on a ship, is frothy and light — like sputum from a bloody lung. It sets just the right tone for an evening of love at sea. And that tone is, “I am a pretty princess! I am worthy of tiers of chiffon! You broke my heart but you will never break my spirit, you goddamned Gopher!”

Happy Valentine’s Day, ma petit chochon!

Meredith Bland

Meredith Bland is a freelance writer and mother of twins from Seattle. She blogs at Pile of Babies: Take a Knee, I Have Nonsense to Spew (http://www.pileofbabies.com).



  1. Oh Gopher, rock my world, baby! Haha! Is is wrong, I love the black outfit. I always go for black. Wish I were tall and skinny enough to rock the flowered pants though. Those are Gopherlicious.

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