Friday, 2 September 2016

Fall Dressing in Summer Weather

With children returning to school this week, it is natural to think of fall wardrobes. Yet the temperatures are soaring above 30 degrees centigrade during the day and thoughts of fall wardrobes just seem wrong. 

White is starting to feel inappropriate and yet the base colour of my summer clothing is white. I have noticed French women wearing black more and more over the past week. Mind, black, like white, is a basic. 

My Italian standby has come into use more than once for dinners and even shopping. The cool linen weave in beige has proven to be the perfect transitional outfit for the hot September days. Friend, Patrick, from Bordeaux complimented the look at a recent dinner party. Funny, the outfit doesn't look much more complicated in construction than pyjamas, yet it works.

Loose-weave linen top and drawstring wide leg pants purchased in Sorrento, Italy. Photo by JoyD.

I tend to wear turquoise with this outfit because it just feels right. The night of the dinner party I also wore shoes with turquoise in them. It didn't feel overdone, not too match-matchy yet enough to make it look like I took care to get dressed.

Summer wedge heels purchased in Romans-Sur-Isere at Marque Avenue. Photo by JoyD.

My choices for the September heat wave will be all the beige I can retrieve from my closet along with splashes of colour. I am my mother's daughter, white just doesn't feel right anymore even though it is only the beginning of September.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Sale Shopping While on Vacation

Closet Content Analysis: Lucky Finds


Two pairs of shoes, 1 dress, 1 pair of cropped jeans, 1 striped sleeveless blouse, 4 waffle weave cotton dressing gowns/bath robes (for me, my husband and 2 for the guest room), 1 Amor-Luxe pullover, 1 very cheap blue t-shirt and a royal blue Lancel purse will be making their way into my closet on Rue Onesime Reclus. Blue, white and denim appeared to be my theme for the summer sales. Even though I do buy in colour blocks, this was unplanned, which proves that habit plays a role in the purchases we make. The purchases began in Bratislava, took a stopover in Germany and ended in Romans-sur-Isere.

Collage created using

It is now the end of July and officially the end of the July sales however shops still have residuals left that may be clearing out at 70% or more off. I keep looking but nothing strikes my fancy and I really don't need to add anything to my closet.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

It's a Good Day: A Rainy Day in Paris Turns Sunny and I Got Lucky with Sandro

Closet Content Analysis: Unexpected Find #3


Sunday and Monday: It's not like Paris needs more rain. We arrived in Wissous, an outlying city/suburb of Paris where our friends live, on Sunday evening. The traffic was notable with people returning to Paris after being in the country for the weekend. The rain made it treacherous and slow moving. There had been an accident which held things up as well. When taking our exit to Wissous, we faced a car that was going the wrong direction. How in the world he got there I don't know. We arrived safely but thirsty and just in time for apero. 

What a difference a week makes. Last week a friend was sent home early because of the danger of the Seine flooding. About the same time, the motorway by which we arrived had also been re-routing traffic owing to the floods.Traffic jams abounded and I can only express my gratitude that our trip was relatively normal. 

The rain makes it easy to enjoy the intimacy of our friends' home on our first day here. Since it's Monday I don't mind because many museums and restaurants I would like to visit are closed on Monday. Tuesday, the weather will be the same but it is our only opportunity to visit Paris before we leave on Wednesday. 

Tuesday: My one day Paris visit included a visit to the Marais (the 3rd and 4th arrondissements) where we had lunch at Pizza Momo. Alain, a cab driver introduced us to the quartre fromages pizza several years ago and each time we are in Paris, we make a pilgrimage there. In fact we told the waiter our story and he told us that we just missed Alain. Domage. After we were well satiated with pizza and wine, we visited the Musée Carnavalet (16 rue des Francs Bourgeois) which depicts the history of Paris. And then, we went shopping.

I got lucky with Sandro; in fact I have often gotten lucky with Sandro. We were walking along without any particular destination when I saw a Sandro outlet store (26 rue de Savigné) in the 4th arrondissement. Déja vue - this reminds me of my recent Max Mara experience in Bordeaux. I am presently on the lookout for a navy blazer however I chose a black one that has an interesting loose weave which should be cool to wear in the summer. My good fortune was that I received 30% off the outlet price. This is basically their pre-sale sale, partial markdowns before they slash prices even further in July. Thing is, I won't be in Paris in July. As well, considering the number of people and purchases happening today, this blazer in my size could easily be gone by July. I will be in Romans-sur-Isere where Marque Avenue has a Sandro outlet but will this blazer be there? In this case I follow my travel rule: when you see it and want it; buy it; and don't lament a cheaper price later. The actual fact is that it will be unlikely that you will find again whatever it was that caught your attention. I have had several friends contact me after arriving back in Canada asking me to check a particular item in a local French shop. Domage.

My husband who was looking for a more "European" look in a dress pant also got lucky; no, not at Sandro. Just two stores away, we stopped to check out the display windows of "Loft design by" . I encouraged him to go in and again, he was able to purchase a pair of black cotton skinny leg pants that will take him to dinner on the river cruise. 

There was a sprinkle of rain at about 5:00/17:00 and we ducked into Féria Café for a "petite blanc".

With 70% predictions of rain we got lucky twice in the 30% range - the weather was pleasant with only a sprinkle of rain and I got a 30% discount. Nice.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Max Mara - what an opportunity!

Closet Content Analysis: Unexpected Find #2


Max Mara Camel Hair Trousers
Photo Source: Lyst
The liquidation sale of the Max Mara store on Cours de L'Attendance in Bordeaux began April 20th and will continue to June 20th, 2016. I had no idea about the liquidation but needed to go to Bordeaux to buy coffee at the Nespresso store. I had to walk past Max Mara and there it was, a "liquidation" storefront. Unfortunate that the location is going out of business but I got lucky. Max Mara makes a particular camel hair pair of pants that are classic. As my friend Aiden Joelle can attest, I have been trying to replace a pair of camel trousers for the past three years. I have told her that if she sees them in my particular size, just buy them and I will gladly reimburse with interest. It never happened.

The key was to think "winter" even though it was May. It was obvious that the store was liquidating last year's stock from summer, fall and winter. What luck! I found the trousers that have eluded me for the past three years.

There is advantage to having a "replacement clothing" list and being prepared to buy off-season. I can now check off the camel trousers. My next "discount" shopping trip will be to Romans-sur-Isere where I hope to cross off more "classics" on my list - navy blazer, royal blue Lancel purse, white shirt. Marques Avenue is not as good as liquidation but it is a darn sight better than designer storefront retail.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Wardrobe Basics for a Month Away & a One-Week River Cruise

Our 7-day river cruise is turning out to be an entire month of travelling. There are friends in Paris, Macon and Lyon to visit before we continue on to Germany. We leave from Passau and travel down the Danube on my first river cruise. I'm not fond of the big ships and many have told me that they have enjoyed the river cruises more so than the ocean cruises. I will see. 

My first advantage is that I will be visiting friends and so laundry will not be a problem. As well, in Germany, if needed, I will be able to leave some clothing behind at a friend's home before the river cruise. Having strategic placement of friends through France and Germany will make packing an easy job.

This year black, white and beige will be the base of the travel wardrobe. It's two weeks before we are off but it has been difficult to plan for sunshine when our "Port" has been overcast and rainy for the past two days.

My husband's bone of contention is the "jacket" requirement for the captain's dinner on the river cruise. However, I am hoping that he will have opportunity to wear it more often than that. 

For him it's shorts and t-shirts, a pair of blue jeans, his North Face jacket and this time, a "suit" or whatever combo he puts together for a more formal dinner. Shoes will simply be his black leather sandals but now he has to consider taking a pair of loafers.

For me, it's a little more complicated . . . 

Wardrobe basics for a Month Away

2 pairs linen pants: one black, one white. I'm leaving behind the camel coloured linen trousers and taking one pair of beige shorts instead.

Three pairs of linen pants in the necessary colours. Photo by JoyD.

1 pair skinny jeans
2 pairs knee-length shorts: one black, one beige
5 t-shirts: 2 white, 2 black, one colour (Pantone 2016 Spring Colours: this year for me - peach echo)
2 cotton shirts: 1 black, 1 white
1 black blazer
3 dresses: 1 LBD, 1 geometric print (black & white), 1 floral print (pinks with turquoise)
1 black sport jacket
1 tan all-weather "car coat"
1 shawl (camel cashmere heavier weight)

Cashmere Shawl (heavy weight) purchased at Holt Renfrew in Vancouver. Photo by JoyD.

Square Equestrian Motif Scarf.
Photo by JoyD.
3 scarves (1 square white, red & black; 1 patterned colourful with peach, pink & turquoise; 1 rectangular, red, blues, & black). I intend to buy more on the trip.

Pyjama set including t-shirt and capris with bed jacket (functional and modest as a houseguest)

5 pairs of Shoes: my black and white Semler sneakers, beige Jimmy Choos, beige loafers (walking shoes), black loafers, beige sandals and these don't count - rubber flip flops for in-house wear. I will be buying shoes along the way - that is a given. 

The loafers with the tassels will be the ones I am taking since the centre ones are now delegated to the garden and the ones on the right are in Canada.

Three Pairs of Beige Loafers. Photo by JoyD.

Underwear for 7 days - there will be time and opportunity to wash along the way. Panti-liners also help stretch the wearability. My husband's trick for underwear is to take all that should be thrown away and he does just that - wears it, throws it away and then buys new as he needs.

This is my basic start for packing, I'll let you know what I actually took (with a "wearing" analysis) and what I bought along the way.

Linen loose top and draw string pants purchased in Italy ages ago. Photo by JoyD.
I'm already thinking of adding my "Italian linen combo" to the basic plan . . . and then there's my jewellery favourites, although that's another "buy along the way" that's necessary when you don't take any with you. The hat is in Canada. Thank goodness.

And of course, I must take at least 2 Armor-Luxe striped tops, this one which is white and black and another that is black and white.
Armor-Luxe, white with black stripe pullover. Photo by JoyD.

The packing has already begun . . . 

Packing my Armor-Luxe striped pullover with my wide leg black linen pants. Photo by JoyD.

Purple Lug bag. Photo by JoyD.

I forgot to talk about other bags . . . and maybe these loafers would be better? What did I say about adding to my basic list?

Lancel Shopping bag. Photo by JoyD.

I do need a small bag for dinner . . . 

Lancel mini bag purchased at the Lancel factory outlet store in Romans-sur-Isere. Photo by JoyD.

I have the jeans, do I really need a skirt?

Blue jean skirt. Photo by JoyD.
. . . . . .

Saturday, 21 May 2016

ITSO . . . In the Style of . . . Judith Richardson


Teenflo top under Lida Baday suit, 2011.
Shoes: Jimmy Choo. Necklace: JoyD.
Charles Le Pierrès and Judith Richardson first started their design life for women's wear twenty years ago under the brand Teenflo but have since morphed into Judith & Charles. Of course, I am enamoured because theirs is a Canadian brand with an international reputation. The name change was necessary since the word "teen" is not what one is looking for when one is in "classic" buying mode. However, a young sales associate at Holt Renfrew in Calgary brought me a top that was perfect with the suit I purchased. It's the cowl neck off-white top in the photo with the Lida Baday suit. It carried the name, Teenflo, in 2011. Even then I found the classic styling and the name incongruous. By the time the Spring Collection for 2012 was ready, the company was rebranded into Judith and Charles. Smart move.

Judith Richardson and Charles LaPierres of Judith & Charles.
Photo Source: Vancouver Sun
The clothing they produce reflects the style of Judith Richardson because every piece I see on a model, I also envision on Judith Richardson.

In 2014, Michele Marko in the Vancouver Sun, summarized Charles LaPierrès' description of the clothes they make in the following way: 

La Pierrès describes their collections as chic modern or modern sophisticated, an esthetic that fits their working woman and stylish urbanite clientele. He’d rather not use the word classic which for him evokes stodginess.
“The pieces are very subtle. They keep evolving. They’re very fresh,” he says. But he acknowledges there is also a timeless quality to them. 
(Retrieved April 12, 2016 from the Vancouver Sun)
His description of the line sounds pretty "classic" but for me the last thing classic connotes is "stodgy". I also see the clothing as "adaptable" which doesn't sound very appealing either. I can see a 20, 35 or 60 year old wearing many of their pieces. So, yes, it is definitely "modern sophisticated" or "chic modern" or any one of those three . . . modern, chic and sophisticated. And that top I bought in 2011 can still be worn in 2016 with the feelings of modern, chic and sophisticated.

Photo Source: Judith & Charles 
This collage was made using

Thursday, 19 May 2016

In the Garden: First Week Back

It has been a week since I have arrived in France and the only clothing I have worn for 80% of the time are my gardening clothes. It's a jungle in my garden. Our neighbour mows the grass areas while we are away and we pruned before we left. However the warm winter allowed the weeds and other unknown plants to take root amongst my irises, daisies, roses and peonies. We had a tree cut down in February and that has left a bit of a mess even though the tree cutters did a fabulous job at cutting wood for our fireplace and mulching the twigs for ground cover. We left the stump waist height to be the centre of a future garden "bar".

I have no special "garden work" attire. What becomes my garden clothes are rejects: things that have a tear beyond repair, a mistake with bleach, frayed ends, pilled polyesters and stuff I wouldn't dare being seen in public. 

Speaking of daring to be seen in public . . . on the first Saturday of the month in May, there are those who choose to celebrate World Naked Gardening Day. No not me. And yes they weed, plant and trim in the buff. Yikes! It's a scary proposition with all the creepy crawlies one disturbs when pulling weeds, snipping, digging up the soil, and transplanting. Not to mention all that buzzes and bites, albeit only occasionally. There are places I prefer not to be bitten and places I prefer to keep covered if not for modesty for health reasons. I suppose one does not have to worry about  the gardener's tan lines after the fact. 

The only true gardening clothing item I own is a pair of rose gardening gloves. With their rubberized palms and fingers, they are meant to protect the hands from thorns but in fact I find them the perfect all-round-work-in-the-garden glove. For actually working with the roses I hope to purchase the gauntlet style that protects up to the elbows.
Photo Source: Manufactum

One trip to the hypermarché and dinner at my neighbour's forced me to wear my usual comfortable casual look in France - linen cropped pants, a striped Armor-Luxe "pull" and my new Semler sneakers. I'll definitely be packing these for my vacation to the east of France, Germany, Austria, Hungary and my river cruise on the Danube. But that's another post. 

Packing my Armor-Lux "pull" and black linen pants.
Photo by JoyD.

Semler sneakers purchased at Traxx
Photo Source: Traxx.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Traveling in Unsettled Times: Attitudes and Decisions

I will be returning to France next week and every casual conversation with acquaintances has included a question something like this: "Aren't you concerned about traveling in Europe and living in France specifically?" I usually respond with a Canadian example of how I feel about where I live in France. I make reference to the FLQ crises in Quebec during the 1970s when European relatives called our home, or so my parents have told me, and asked if we were OK? My family lived in Manitoba. I live in small town France and Paris is six hours away by motorway. As for traveling the rest of Europe, as I will in June, of course I have thought about it but it hasn't stopped me from making plans. I then tell the "story" of some unknown fellow who dreamt that he would die the next day as a result of his work in a mine, so he called in sick. I don't remember the details of the "story" but he died at home and so with an air of indifference, I make the comment  "when your number's up". That being said, we never put ourselves in any known or anticipated risk. Voila. Life is what it is and I will not live in fear or restrict my rational choices.

From another perspective, we have friends who have chosen not to come to visit us in France this summer. I am sure there are many who have decided that they could spend their vacation dollars in a place that would be less stressful in their minds. That's rational for them. I wonder how I would feel if I did not own a home there?

I am looking forward to going back and really I don't think about the whole terrorism thing very much. In fact security is at its peak and when you have nothing to hide, it is as safe as any other time. In fact there are those who claim it is the best time to travel. There are bullies at all levels of society and I hope that their motivations will change over the years to accommodate a pluralistic world society including religious, cultural, psychological and physiological variations.

Clothing is one small element to consider in cultural understanding and I admit that I do have trouble with clothing that obliterates and masks who and what you are. That being said, I have had wonderful opportunities to enjoy the company of those who are celebrating, albeit perhaps celebrating in what technically would be called a "mask", their clothing, hiding their maleness or femaleness. That which I have "trouble" with is more the total coverage of the body by women and men too (if they did it) for whatever reason. Yes, I can understand, at least academically, why they cover themselves from head to foot but . . . to cover up one's face in a time of necessary transparency seems ominous. If you want to cover your face from strangers, particularly men in the mall while shopping, fine, but to insist on it with government immigrant officials, police officers or airport security may suggest you are hiding more than your modesty (at least that might be what someone raised in a democratic and tolerant place might think). 

Understanding has to be reciprocal and so I hope others are as patient with us as they expect us to be with them. My Libra-ness is coming forth, needing balance and other such things, because I recognize the point of view by some that Canada has a "pushover" disposition and is a haven for those with sinister thought - I suppose that side develops because it is considered a peaceful and respectful place to live and visit. 

I could debate with myself longer; however a clothing blog should not be the place to vent about politics or religion or those things that are basically out of our control - other people's thoughts and philosophies particularly . . . I promise the next post with return to a more frivolous topic and one that I have complete control over. 

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Traxx: Amazing Shoe Store in Saskatoon Saskatchewan

Closet Content Analysis: Unexpected Find #1


I've driven and walked by the Traxx shoe store many times and have never ventured in. I had the impression that all they carried were hiking boots and "comfortable" shoes. It was conversation at a dinner party last weekend that inspired me to visit the store. Yesterday for the first time, I walked into Traxx and left with a pair of "comfortable" Semler sneakers but found much more. I believe the family run business's original goal was to provide hardy and comfortable footwear for all reasons and seasons but it has certainly evolved. Now they carry it all, from very fashionable funky $400.00 stilettos to $400.00 hiking boots. Who knows, perhaps those stilettos are more comfortable than over the top designer brands. I recognized some of the brand names but not of the stilettos.

The Traxx online presence is as successful as their storefront. The left hand sidebar on the website's home page lists the brand names of the shoes they carry. This is most convenient when you have fallen in love with a particular shoe and know what you want.

I am still a face-to-face shopper and I don't believe that I would have ever bought the Semler sneakers from the pictures I saw online. I had no idea about the German-made Semlers and only bought them because they were 60% off from the original $305.00 - all leather, including lining, and obviously excellent craftsmanship.

Photo Source: Traxx, Saskatoon, SK Canada

Photo Source: Traxx, Saskatoon, SK Canada
Loving my new Semlers!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Maintaining Momentum

Maintaining momentum is important for all of us no matter how mundane the task. This post carries a "self-help" theme and a "get off your butt" reprimand for myself. Of course, I have excuses but none of them matter in the final analysis. There is a sports shoe company that has the motto, "just do it" and this post is a consequence and a personal response to that.

It is spring and the "official" time to clean your home and get rid of excess, junk you don't use and to cleanse and detoxify your body.

Since the clothing in closets is the main focus, it is the place I shall start . . . 

Analysis: Today I am envying those who have kept the momentum of purging their closets of clothing that has no function in their lives. I am still in the "but I might still need it" mindset when I look at the range of suits, blazers and skirts that have sat without seeing the light of day for the past year. 

The reality is I have not worked in an office setting for the past two years and will not be working full time in that situation for at least the next six months. There may be a few of those items that are classic and timeless enough to be held but in reality there are many that I cannot see myself wanting to wear again.

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.

— Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784) author, poet, moralist, literary critic and editor


Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.

— Benjamin Disraeli (1804 – 1881), parliamentarian, literary figure and twice British prime minister

Today I begin by sorting my clothing into the categories that will help purge the lot: Keep, Donate, Consignment, Throw Away, Repair or Re-Construct, Take to France (I live there for 6 months).

And so the momentum begins . . . 

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.

— Mark Twain (1835 – 1910), American author, lecturer and humorist