Jennifer Boles has a knack for showing how classic style can be thoroughly modern, as readers of her blog, The Peak of Chic, discover daily. “Things become tried-and-true for a reason. We just have to tweak here and there to keep things relevant,” she says. The design history aficionado is particularly drawn to the period between the World Wars: “I love the way chic hostesses in New York and London entertained in the ’30s, when cocktails really became popular, and there was such a ritual about it.” It’s no surprise that Boles carries on that tradition when she entertains at home.

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JENNIFER’S M– USES:

The hostess looks to a few of her style icons for entertaining inspiration.

ALBERT HADLEY was a modernist who was firmly rooted in tradition—I love his style. Friends who were fortunate to be invited for drinks at his apartment say he would have a tray in the kitchen, you’d fix your own cocktail, and he might put out a bowl of chips or Triscuits. That’s basic, but everyone would have a wonderful time in a beautiful setting, with interesting people and great conversation. I always think about that—not to make things too elaborate just for the sake of doing so.

Jennifer Boles gravitates toward traditional design elements—chinoiserie, animal prints, and beautifully stitched monograms to name a few.

Jennifer Boles gravitates toward traditional design elements—chinoiserie, animal prints, and beautifully stitched monograms to name a few.

DOROTHY DRAPER believed, “A delighted hostess is a delightful hostess.” The way I can be a delightful hostess is to have people for cocktails rather than dinner, because it’s less stressful for me. Draper’s book Entertaining is Fun! instills so much confidence

For entertaining inspiration, Boles turns to vintage books such as Vogue Cocktails, where she found a festive drink called Wallis Blue. At cocktail parties the hostess provides full-size plates and dinner napkins, “in the event my guests want to make a meal out of it.”

For entertaining inspiration, Boles turns to vintage books such as Vogue Cocktails, where she found a festive drink called Wallis Blue. At cocktail parties the hostess provides full-size plates and dinner napkins, “in the event my guests want to make a meal out of it.”

ELSIE DE WOLFE wrote, “Simplicity is the mark of a master-hand” in her cookbook Recipes for Successful Dining. That’s so spot-on and reminds me to keep it simple, but keep it elegant. The book is an interesting peek into her entertaining perspective. I don’t often cook from it, however, as our palates have changed since then—I’m not sure if I could convince guests to try Boiled Tongue a la Ritz or Creamed Haddock.

“I always provide a bite of something sweet such as meringues or macarons. They’re usually storebought because I think that’s easy to do with dessert,” says Boles

“I always provide a bite of something sweet such as meringues or macarons. They’re usually storebought because I think that’s easy to do with dessert,” says Boles

CONSTANCE SPRY loosened things up with her floral designs, and encouraged people to feel comfortable using humble materials. A natural and sculptural arrangement can be a very dramatic moment on the table.

When it comes to setting up the bar, she follows Dorothy Draper’s maxim, “Good liquor is not cheap. Cheap liquor is not good.”

When it comes to setting up the bar, she follows Dorothy Draper’s maxim, “Good liquor is not cheap. Cheap liquor is not good.”

WALLIS SIMPSON helped usher in the cocktail’s popularity in 1930s London, and it was rumored her husband Edward, the Duke of Windsor, created a drink called the Wallis Blue to mimic the color of her eyes. I serve this version from Vogue Cocktails: 1 1/2 oz. gin, 1 oz. blue Curaçao, juice of 1 lime. Shake all the ingredients with ice, and pour into a martini glass rimmed with lime pulp.