Staying in is the new going out. Everyone says so. But what to cook? (Seafood, probably.) Can you serve a shop-brought cheesecake for pudding? (No.) And, most importantly for our purposes, HWTA TO WEAR? Well… If you can’t see yourself whipping up mac’n’cheese half-starkers as RiRi did for her recent Esquire cover, Stephanie Conley is a more approachable muse — and a refreshingly wholesome one, too.

“I’ve got this Doris Day obsession,” laughs the fashion-designer-turned-entertaining-blogger. “I know it sounds regressive—she is not the modern woman—but there’s something about the idea of Doris all dressed up to cook, with her hair done and a beautiful dress on, that makes me smile.”

As a kid growing up in Sydney, Conley watched a lot of Day’s old 1950’s movies on TV, and the fashion message sank in. “Cooking in earrings and lipstick,” she advises, “but forget the heels—they’re just silly in the kitchen. Go barefoot or flats.”

Conley has entertaining cred—she took classes at Le Cordon Bleu (mais oui!) and is legendary thrower of excellent parties. They always end up with dancing—her sister is DJ Annie Conley. Her latest incarnation as The Hostess (thehostess.com.au) is a gingham-dipped affair. It’s an “online recipe book” inspired by a stint living in Italy and a big dollop of Day-style homemaking (Conley is married these days and mum to a toddler).

What will she be cooking this Christmas? “Lobster thermidor—it’s a bit of a classic.” It should go down a treat, but how will she now for sure? “You know you’ve pulled off a success when no one wants to leave. But kick them out when you’ve had enough! You’re well within your rights.”



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