Friday, 27 November 2015

Buy Nothing Day 2015 Resolution

I re-visited the post, It Just Doesn't Stop, with the intent to re-establish my "buy nothing day" resolution for 2015. Sometime during the past year, I lost the momentum and eventually forgot all about it until the Black Friday advertisements once again began. While several fashion blogs are giving you strategies to attack your shopping today, I will join others in not buying anything. 

When I hear the media proclaim that American Thanksgiving means two things: football and Black Friday, I shudder to think that it has fallen to that. Within the same broadcast, a reporter then tells us that "two out of five Canadians have too much month at the end of the money". Our Thanksgiving holiday is long gone but we piggyback off American culture owing to our dependence upon American television. However, we, as consumers, need some stern advice and I'm ready to give it: "Just stop it!"

Ok, so . . . if one takes the admirable position of not falling into the consumer trap, one has to replace it with something else. If you don't, you might end up like a friend of mine, who paced, watched too much TV, played too many online games and fretted that she might not have anything to eat for dinner because Friday was her usual grocery shopping day. 

Consider it a challenge. Here are two pieces of advice for overriding the "buy nothing day" feelings of remission or omission.

1) Take time. All of us lament the following, "I never have any time to . . . (fill in the blank) . . . do a craft, paint (either your nails or a masterpiece), write, take a bath, bake, make soup from scratch, clean out a closet, listen to music, dance, transplant the philodendron . . . twiddle my thumbs. Here's your opportunity to take the time to do so.

2) Put aside thoughts of guilt. "It's Friday, that means it's pizza night or Chinese food or whatever indulgence you afford yourself and your family." There's nothing wrong with shaking it up a bit and the kids will only stay annoyed for awhile. Think of another way (bake cookies) to indulge yourself or them.

Good luck and I hope you are successful in attempting a buy nothing day instead of overindulging.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

A Comparison of Fall and Winter Outerwear: France & Canada

One of the big clothing differences between Canada and France is how we dress relative to the seasons and the weather. In Canada, fall and winter temperatures demand heavier clothing, winter jackets and even fur. Fur can be considered a necessity in minus twenty temperatures. Here in France, fall and winter fashions dictate the heavier clothing, more so I believe than the weather. Mais oui, the temperatures are cooler and when the rain and fog settles in during the winter here in the south-west of France, there is a humid cold that will chill you to the bones. I may have to update this post in January. However, with November day temperatures reaching 12 to 16 degrees celsius, seeing fur trimmed jackets and capes seems a tad premature - overkill even, by Canadian standards. In Canada many would be pulling out their flip flops on a sunny 16 degree fall day. Unfortunately, as I write, there is snow on the ground on the Canadian prairies.

Although, I must say, the fur jackets I have seen here seem flimsier, much more "fashionable" than "functional". Canadian outerwear, in general, is definitely heavier, and relative to the weather, more appropriate. It is the same with gloves or mittens and scarves. When I inspect the fibres or the workmanship in what is available here in France, I use the Canadian winter standard to judge them. And reasonably, for the most part, none would stand up to the minus 20 temperatures to which Canadians are accustomed. Simply, they don't have to.

Fashion, not only in clothing but in decoration, is curious because here too we see snowmen decorating city streets when in fact snow is seldom seen. Snowflakes and artificial snow even decorate Christmas inspired windows in places where snow never falls. (November 24th update: While in Arcachon today, I watched the city crews decorating the traffic roundabouts/circles with . . . evergreens bearing "snowy" branches.)

Conclusion - winter and Christmas beg for snow, no matter where in the world you are.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Not a Closet and No Clothing Within: Essential Oils in a Wine Box

My apologies for a topic that is totally off-blog-focus; however, I have written about essential oils before.

Although this blog's title refers to "closets" and the clothing within, in particular, I can't help writing about other storage units including cupboards and drawers and medicine cabinets and . . .  so you see, I want to tell you about something else in another storage unit. I have taken a wine box and converted it into storage for my essential oils. After all, if you are not healthy, how can you feel beautiful - and sorry, clothes alone won't do it. 

Before moving to France I was aware of essential oils but not totally convinced. I hate to admit it, but the exorbitant prices of essential oils in North America made me reticent to use them. Here, in France, they are affordable (even the expensive ones).

The most convincing rationalization for me happened when I was advised by my dentist to have a root canal. I would have continued with his advice but I was on my way to Europe the next day and promised him that I would seek a French dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime he prescribed antibiotics and I continued on my trip. When I arrived in France, I had to wait another two weeks before I could see the recommended dentist. I finished my antibiotics and went to the pharmacy to ask about interim care. The pharmacist suggested that I use oil of oregano with a carrier oil such as coconut oil and swish my mouth for a few minutes every morning. He implied that it may hold off the infection and keep me stable until I saw the dentist. He did not offer it as a cure. I did just that and continued to research online. From my online research, I found that those who used oil of oregano for dental crises were satisfied with the results. To make a long story short, six months later I have not had the root canal and the French dentist simply advised me to come back when I was infected and in pain from the abscess. So far, so good. Hooray for oil of oregano!

Then, there was my husband . . . who suffers from a hereditary case of varicose veins. Again a Canadian doctor told him that he will have to have them operated on and the dark discolouration on his shins will simply be there . . . forever. There was nothing that could be done for it. After my success with oil of oregano, I went to the pharmacist again and asked about varicose veins. He suggested some supplements for circulation and then offered the idea of using essential oils, namely cypress and helichrism. My husband took the attitude that "it wouldn't hurt" and so he began a daily evening routine of massaging his legs (with upward strokes toward the heart) with the essential oils mixed in jojoba oil. After six months of online research, experimenting with other oils, varying the combinations, and religiously applying the oils every evening, his legs are amazingly changed. Last year at this time, his legs were so dark, and swollen, I was thinking awful consequences. This year after approximately 6 months of "oil therapy" the colour of his legs is, dare I say, normal. The varicose veins have reduced in size and intensity and his legs are starting to look healthy, if not totally normal. We will continue with his essential oil therapy and if surgery can be avoided, all the better. Hooray for helichrism and cypress oil!

My digression from clothing in one's closet can be rationalized for health sake and so . . . do what it takes. Take care of yourself so that you can enjoy the clothing, the shoes, the bags, the jewellery, the accessories . . . and look great in them.


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The Poppy


There are many things I take for granted and make universal assumptions about. For me as a Canadian, wearing a poppy on Remembrance Day, November 11th, is something that I assumed every allied country from World War 1 would have as a tradition. I also assumed that everyone would know the poem by John McCrae, In Flanders Fields. Here in France, the French do not wear a poppy but rather the blue cornflower is their symbol for Armistice Day. In fact, it is the Americans, British and Canadians who have fully adopted the poppy tradition. I understand the New Zealanders and Australians have access to buy the poppy but only a small percentage of the population have incorporated it.

For the French the cornflower represents peace; however for the Americans, Canadians and those from the British Isles there are controversial explanations for the wearing of the poppy.

I have never bought into the controversy - to me wearing the poppy is a symbol of remembrance and a promise to strive for a peaceful world. When I hear about one group or another believing that it represents war: all soldiers, all wars and only that, I don't care to argue with them. I do not believe the symbolism to be that single minded. Then there are those who want a white poppy and others a purple. Interestingly the poppy comes in all colours.

It is what it is for you and you alone. If someone wants to know why I wear a red poppy, my answer has already been stated. With that, I will not bother to try to convince anyone - follow your heart when it comes to wearing a symbol or not . . . but only remember and do not forget that others died fighting for their country's ideas of freedom and many of us have benefitted from these losses.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

My Body has Changed

Photo by JoyD.
If you read the last post, you know that I wore my beige sheath style dress to a wedding. However I must tell you that it was difficult to zip up.

I haven't gained any weight. 

Let me explain. I wore this dress at the beginning of the summer (June) and it fit perfectly. Truly, I am now exactly the same weight. However . . . when I put it on, it's now the middle of October, it was very tight across the shoulders and chest. Did I tell you I have been working out? I have been enjoying the feeling of how much weight I can pull down and press in my back and chest exercises; and so I believe the exercises have changed my width across my back - I don't think I will continue those wide grip pull-downs. However, I may change my routine to include, more reps and less weight.

Photo by JoyD.

Now the very fact that it was difficult to zip up caused me some problems. I hate, absolutely hate, when someone wears something so tight that it causes those pulled creases across the back. And yes, I had those. So what's a girl to do but find a blazer that will cover all the offending pulls and creases?

I decided to wear my red blazer. I wouldn't wear a black one because it was a wedding. The blazer hid everything I wanted it to hide.  

Unfortunately I had purchased a new scarf at Notti in Ste. Foy La Grande, with not a hint of red in it. 

Pink, orange and browns in my new scarf.
Photo by JoyD.
Now, I couldn't wear the new scarf because of the blazer; I needed to find a scarf in my stash. I didn't mind wearing the red blazer but I began to regret that I purchased this new silk scarf, especially since it definitely did not match. 

There will be another time for it.

I do plan to take my new scarf to Optique Martin so that I can match up a new pair of clips for my Zenka glasses to my new scarf. Funny, Anthony (the owner of Optique Martin) told me about a woman who came into his shop to buy a new pair of clips every time she bought a new "foulard". I have become his second client to do so.

Photo by JoyD.
My red, blue and beige scarf from my closet was the best choice since the red in the scarf was a perfect match to the red of the blazer. In addition, there were three shades of beige that tied the dress to the shoes. I was happy with the combination of beige dress, red blazer and this scarf. It fit the season and was appropriate for the wedding. I wore my beige Jimmy Choo heels and felt quite festive for the occasion.

Photos by JoyD. Collage created using PhotoCollage.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

What to Wear to a Fall Wedding


Friends in France are getting married this week and the day temperatures are scheduled to be perfect. She is Chinese and so I imagine she will probably wear red and he is French and I expect him to be fairly traditional although he is rather avant garde. It is a second marriage for him, a first for her. Everything will be beautiful, bien sur.

The big question for me is what to wear. There is a certain informality since it is an afternoon wedding and the reception will be at the groom's house, a modern renovation of a nineteenth century girls' boarding school. I don't want to wear my LBD - no matter what the circumstances or how I interpret things; black just doesn't feel right for a wedding. Other than that, my dresses tend to be sheath style and that's fine but for the most part summery. I have a beige sheath dress that could be dressed up with a scarf or jewellery. That may be the best alternative.

Beige Sheath Dress, circa 2001.
Photo by JoyD.
This dress is pretty nondescript, simple, sheath, nothing to date it, that's a certainty. In fact, I wore this dress in 2001 at a 25th wedding anniversary I attended while I was in France. Go figure, it's 2015, and I am thinking that maybe I can wear it to this particular fall wedding.

NEED: I know I will need a scarf in more festive colours and preferably in a lightweight silk.

The question is, can I bear to wear this dress, knowing how old it is. Some things may be timeless, but when is it time to just say "no; I need a new dress"? At the same time, knowing my personality type, I'd probably come home with something similar after the shopping trip.


Sunday, 18 October 2015

Essential Oils in my Closet

NICE in response to a NO THANKS

Essential Oil Diffuser
in my closet (Photo by JoyD)
It's just part of the housekeeping strategy, here in the south-west of France, to keep the lavender, both in sachets and on diffusers, fresh and regenerated. I keep sachets of lavender hanging in my closet with my clothing and in the armoire that houses my bed and bath linens. Beds that are not used regularly have sachets of lavender tucked into pillows and duvets. I also add a drop or two of lavender to the clay essential oil diffusers that are in my closet and in my armoires.

Lavender Sachet and Oil Diffuser in my Linen Armoire
Photo by JoyD
Lavender is my oil of choice because it deters insects and the aroma is perfect for bed linens but peppermint was added over the summer when several different types of spiders made their way into the house. Now I know spiders are good since they trap and dispose of insects in a very natural way; however my bedroom is my space and I prefer that they keep to the outside or at the very least the periphery. I would do a spider sweep of corners with peppermint essential oil on the duster and that made them keep their distance.

Now that it is fall their numbers have dwindled but I still do my peppermint spider sweep and keep the lavender refreshed.

Another successful use of peppermint against insects was when I found a few of the tiniest ants in a cupboard this summer. It appears there was a tart tin that was not cleaned properly and the wee smudge of grease was enough to attract the little beasts. I was happy I found them few in number and was able to halt any further progress. Essentially I discombobulated them with peppermint oil. I washed the pans and entire area with a few drops added to the soapy wash water and then left a clay diffuser with peppermint oil in the cupboard. I kept on checking and if I saw any who were following their comrades' paths, I stifled them with more peppermint on a paper towel. After attending to the cupboard diligently for three days, I eradicated the little pests and have not seen any since. Mind you I do look into this seldom used cupboard to see if there are any who are exploring. No food, no greasy smudges, everything spotless clean and the aroma of peppermint has kept them from re-attending. 

I love the idea of keeping everything fresh with essential oils.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Crossing the Stupid Line


For the most part, you, who have been following this blog, know that I have a reputation for writing about dress appropriateness at work. As a result, I often get emails about "work" attire; but really, I think we (women in general) are doing alright as far as choosing appropriate attire for our work situations. There will always be 3% of the population who doesn't see the harm in cleavage, sheer garments or short skirts or whatever. However, sometimes those who complain about particular dress or dress malfunctions just "need a life".

And so I believe you may agree with me when I write, "Are you kidding me?" in response to a correspondence I received about nipples.

An email related a "situation" about this "point"  or would that be "points" at a workplace? Apparently, at a workshop for the department, someone's nipples were protruding and another someone decided that this was inappropriate and decided to inform her that there are "bandages" that would help rectify this problem. "Excuse me . . . "

Sometimes it's cold in buildings and yes, the female body responds to cold in a way that a male's body might; except there would be differential in direction. One must acknowledge that a woman could be wearing a proper bra and a cotton shirt and find herself in this predicament. I need to ask, who is it who is so attentive as to notice this as a problem?

At any rate, there are some work attire considerations that we as women have control over and others that we do not. In this case, I have to wonder about the professionalism of the person who was paying more attention to the breasts of the women in the group than on the speaker at the professional development seminar.

So, NO THANKS, to band-aids or plasters or pasties for nipples. Sometimes it's just cold where one has to work and there are physiological repercussions.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Back from Sunny London

NECESSARY          NICE          NO THANKS  

Disregard the "rainy" in my What to Pack for a Rainy Long Weekend in London. It wasn't! 

NO THANKSLondoners were enthused that the weather was more summer-like than fall and I found that I did not need my North Face jacket and could have easily left my Burberry 3/4 length jacket at home. My husband lamented that he took a heavy jacket (heavier than his North Face jacket).

Travel Advice - forget about what you think you know about a region's climate and login to the weather channel of the city or town, particularly if you are only going for three or four days. My personality type would still take the extra jacket, but perhaps not two.

NICE:  What did I pack? Because of the weather, my cashmere shawl was all I needed in the evening. Instead of two pairs of skinny jeans, I took a pair of black linen classic trousers and a pair of purple skinny jeans and was happy for that. As well, besides my black blazer, I took a jean jacket and in all likelihood could have managed well enough without the blazer. I took two colourful scarves and was glad for that also. 

I wore one scarf with the linen pants and jean jacket one afternoon of eating at Barrafina on Firth Street in Soho and shopping. The two scarves I did take were worn when out for dinner, with my LBD. We enjoyed Barrafina so much we ate at the Drury Lane location in Covent Garden a second time. I suppose the only negative was that there are no reservations at Barrafina and time spent cueing is at the least, a tad annoying. Londoners themselves are becoming a bit peeved at standing in line in what seems to be a trend of no reservations restaurants, whether it be breakfast or burgers. Amy Grier wrote an entertaining piece, End of the Line, on cueing in Stylist magazine and reveals how Londoners really feel.

NECESSARY I definitely needed to take another pair of good walking shoes. After wearing the only pair of loafers I took, the first day and walking 14 km, I needed a change into a different pair of flats the next day. Never anticipate that you will not walk that much because when you are visiting and the tram lines are closed or delayed, other than cabs or Uber, there's not much choice but to walk.

Speaking of (writing of) Uber, it seems that London is looking to tighten its rules with Uber. Search "uber" in the Financial Times. My experiences, after taking both cabs and Uber in London, leads me to support the Uber initiative.

It was a great four days in sunny London.

Monday, 21 September 2015

What to Pack for a Rainy Long Weekend in London

Closet Content Analysis: Items for a 4-Day Trip  

Choices: Absolute Necessities

NECESSARY          NICE          NO THANKS          

I'm leaving rainy France to visit rainy London. I know, there is something inherently wrong with that picture. However it is a weekend that has been a long planned and awaited event. A good friend from Calgary, Canada will turn 50 and her spouse has planned a rendez-vous (with another couple as well) in London (England that is, not Ontario, Canada). They are "épicurienes", in the same way we are and so of course this weekend will be filled with celebrating, eating, drinking some fine wines to accompany the eating and a little shopping on the side. No sightseeing as such - been there, done that.

Now . . . what to pack? All I have is a carry-on and so I shall only take what is . . . 

NECESSARY: I always pack my North Face jacket and my camel cashmere shawl. Heels and my LBD are also necessary for this trip. One pair of flats to be sure, one pair of jeans, four t-shirts/tops/shirts, a blazer, a rainy-wear 3/4 length coat (to wear with either a dress or pants) and underwear of course. My insulin and paraphernalia, my journal, my passport . . . I'm done. I won't forget the umbrella. As well, I will take absolutely the minimum for toiletries and no electronics - seriously. 

NO THANKS: I'm unconcerned about not having a phone or computer, my real concern is . . . will I be able to manage with one pair of  jeans? 

NICE (Rationalization): I feel I need to take a second pair. The best rationalization is that I shall wear one pair and pack the second pair. So officially I am only taking one pair, albeit one extra pair.

I re-visited my post on what I wore during my four day visit to Spain in the spring and need to add some colour with a scarf or two. Two pairs of jeans, one in black and another in a colour - probably purple, is now very probable after review of my Spain trip.

What are your absolute must have items for a weekend away?