Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Traxx: Amazing Shoe Store in Saskatoon Saskatchewan

Closet Content Analysis: Unexpected Find

NEW and NICE


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:

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



Friday, 26 February 2016

Reconfiguring Your Stash into the Industrial and Bold Jewellery Trends for 2016



Harpers Bazaar illustrates the jewellery trends for 2016 in an 84 pic inspiring slide show. Industrial, bold, and asymmetrical demonstrating a slight variation on a five year theme is my assessment of what you will see for the spring of 2016.

Scarlett Johansson at the Oscars. Photo Credit: JCKonline
Here are four ways to take what you already own in your stash and reconfigure it into the 2016 spring trend.


1. Choose the biggest earrings you own and find another pair in a complementary colour. Take one from each pair to produce an asymmetrical pairing and you are on the edge of the 2016 wedge. Take a second look at the earrings Scarlett Johansson wore at the the Oscars. Do the same with the biggest crystal sparkly ones you own and wear a smaller sparkly version or stud on one ear.

2. Statement necklaces are never out of style because they are a "statement of your style". If you bought one in the past five years, whether it sits at the collar or is long, wear it with confidence in 2016. If you want, do the same as suggested with the wrist - add a heavy rectangular chain link.

Christian Dior.
Photo Credit: Harpers Bazaar Slideshow No. 22
3. Re-configure a brooch into a choker. Wrap a scarf around your neck and pin it in place with a large gemstone brooch. If you saved a broken chain from another piece of jewellery, attach it to the brooch pin, on both sides, and let it hang as it will atop the scarf. Or take a gemstone necklace and adjust it to the choker length sitting on top of the scarf.

4. Add a heavy link chain bracelet to a bright colour bangle and you have 2016 on your wrist.

Take a look at the Featured Posts to see some of the similarities over the past five years.


Saturday, 20 February 2016

Attitude: A Choice


In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.
— Coco Chanel

That quote from Chanel and the next one are dedicated to all the males who wear ballet flats and who have visited this website.
Attitude is everything.
— Diane von Furstenberg


When my ballet flats expert, Brian Davis, sends me a photo of his latest purchase, my response is always the same, "there's a post there". However, even in an El Nino winter, he won't be going far in those flats.



Gold Ballet Flats. Photo Credit: Brain Davis

The boots will serve him better in the snow. 


Tory Burch boots. Photo Credit: Brian Davis

Attitude is everything and no matter what one wears, it is inspiring to see choices that exude one's individuality. For me, appropriateness is the main factor in decision making, then comes that which I feel good in. As a result I usually feel comfortable in whatever situation I am in, even if I am a little over- or under-dressed. 

Accessories, shoes particularly, are the best way to express individuality. And so I salute Brian for his individuality and his footwear choices!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

ITSO . . . In the Style of . . . Inès de la Frassange

Having few but good things. Mixing old and new, luxurious and cheap, day and evening. Remembering clothes are there to help you look and feel good, not to show off. We are not hangers.
- Inès de la Frassange in an Elle interview
The NICEST: comfortable casual

Inès de la Frassange is one of the authors of Parisian Chic, a guide to Paris style and she represents that style, that chic-ness. Yes, Inès de la Fressange does it well. Hers is the ultimate in the most elegant "comfortable casual" style.

When you search for photos of de la Fressange online, the majority of images feature her in pants, cropped or full length and a blazer, jacket or cardigan. She has almost a "tomboy" quality when she is wearing a formal gown or even a shirt dress. Her "look", in pants, top and "jacket" is definitely one that appeals to me at this time in my life. Yes, I think she looks even more elegant in this casual style than she does when wearing a dress.


Photo Source: Elle
Cropped Pants: Those cropped pants show up on de la Fressange all the time; which simply proves that one can adopt an article of clothing or accessory and make it his or her own. Black, white, beige; she's in them all the time.

Jacket, Blazer or Cardigan: If the pants are cropped or not, she is often in a blazer. She also chooses blazers to wear over a skirt or dress.

Flats: De la Fressange's model height doesn't need enhancement. In fact, there are red carpet photos of her in an evening gown and flats. She does wear heels but on the street, it is more often flats. 


Friday, 29 January 2016

ITSO . . . In the Style of . . . Bianca Jagger

Bianca Jagger in White during the 70s.
Composite Photo Source: 360Nobs
I remember reading about Bianca Jagger buying t-shirts and underwear in Paris in the 1970's, one in every colour: matching. I was in elementary school at the time and Bianca Jagger was the "it girl" during the 70s and 80s. Now as I look back at what she wore, I wonder if it wasn't her beauty first that garnered all the attention. She has an exotic look that I find ravishing. As well, she was married to Mick Jagger. So she was exotically beautiful and married to a rock star: of course, everything she wore would have been considered iconic. See Harper's Bazaar slideshow of her style development from 1971 to 1978.





Bianca Jagger with daughter, Jade.
Photo Source: Dave Benett Evening Standard
When one mentions Bianca Jagger, my first recollection is the white suit. She did the white suit more than once and it always looked fabulous, particularly in the 80s when over-emphasized shoulder pads were the rage. Somehow she didn't have that top heavy look.

On May 7, 2015 she celebrated her 70th birthday. She's still wearing that white suit, well - maybe not that particular white suit but generically, the white suit is still a significant element in her wardrobe choices. See the last three photos of the Dianab series of Bianca Jagger in 2014. She wore white well in the 70s and she is wearing it well now that she is 70. Of course, she wore black and she wore red exceptionally well with her exotic looks but when I think of Bianca Jagger, I still think of her in white.


Photo Source: Vogue. 
There are others who have worn white well . . . think of Angelina Jolie, another woman with a dark exotic look. In a way, she reminds me of a young Bianca Jagger, if in no other way, but those exotic looks.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Considering the Dollar during Sales in France . . .

The United States has Black Friday, Canada is loyal to Boxing Day but it is the July and January sales in France that are the most awaited. The January sales, which officially are not allowed to start until after January 5th, certainly can't compete with the hype that Black Friday and Boxing Day have. In fact, on December 26th, I saw employees in a large department store removing Christmas decor and never saw any of it on sale in January. Do they store it? Really?

The French may be visiting outlet stores, local malls, and even independently owned shops in the villages now because of the January sales but seldom do they offer anything more than 30 to 50% off. Not only are the reductions never as enormous as they are in North America, but the sale selection is not as varied. That makes me wonder . . . Are mark-ups for regularly priced goods lower in France? Or are North American mark-ups so high that 70% off still allows the merchant to make an acceptable profit?


NO THANKS

The Canadian dollar is the most pathetic I have ever seen it. The last time it was bad, but not this bad, was in 2009. As a result, I am certainly not buying as much as I did last year. I was looking at a "bouti", basically a quilted bedspread, that was priced at 160Euro. By the time I figured out the dollars I would need to spend (multiply by a humiliating 1.6), I began to walk away. The shopkeepers in small town South-West France are feeling the consequences of high unemployment, the loss of the the summer tourist trade, and the reticence of retired local Brits who are not buying much either even though their sterling is considerably well-positioned next to the Euro. The vendor offered a discount of about 20% on what she claimed were not sale goods and "free" matching pillow covers. Yes, well . . . I shook my head, did my best to express myself emitting that pouty puff of air (a French gesture of non-compliance) and shrug. She shrugged back and I said, "merci, mais non" and walked away. It is a matter of need. And I certainly don't need a "bouti" at the present exchange rate.

Now of course, I am reminiscing about a set of bedding that I saw at a previous July 2015 sale . . . sigh . . . would have, could have and should have . . . I'll be back and maybe the July sale in 2016 will once again have what I want at an exchange rate that is a tad more gentle on my wallet. I'm glad we bought our car in May.

While in Canada, a dollar is a dollar is a dollar to me since I get paid at that exchange; however when I am in France, it is quite a different thing.

The conclusion, of course is that, I don't have any motivation for a shopping spree, especially for clothing, before I return to Canada. This is a good thing for my 2016 clothing resolutions. I'll be back in Canada in less than two weeks and happy to spend my dollars there.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Considering Gifts from France

Closet Content Analysis: Scarves


Choices: Never a Bad One

Money doesn't buy elegance. You can take an inexpensive sheath, add a pretty scarf, gray shoes and a wonderful bag, and it will always be elegant.
— Carolina Herrera

NICE: For those of you who are visiting France and are committed to gifting friends and family, the best gift to buy is a scarf for either men or women. Everyone . . .  yes, everyone wears them. All the time. 

If you are buying in France, there will be scarves made in France and scarves made in other places in the world . . . India, China and so on. I try to buy those made in France but others will be bought because they are "perfect" for the recipients or "something I have always been looking for".

The reasons a scarf makes the perfect gift when travelling France are that:
1) Absolutely representative of the French look
2) Light-weight - what with airline luggage restrictions . . . 
3) Takes up very little space - more luggage restrictions . . . 
4) Packs easily and you can even use them to cushion fragile purchases which I don't encourage you buying. 
5) Scarves don't break.
6) Suitable for everyone, both male and female.
7) Whatever you don't give away as gifts, you can keep for yourself. 

Brilliant!

Factors to consider when buying a scarf for someone else should, in the best case scenario, be specific to the person for whom you are buying. However, that will provoke you into shopping for others all the time without any consideration of yourself and worrying needlessly that you didn't pick something up for so and so.

My suggestion is to simply buy what you like when you see it and only buy scarves. Don't worry about the fabric. There are beautiful selections in cotton, acrylic, silk and cashmere at many different price points. I have purchased 100% cotton for 3Euro, acrylic for 20Euro and 100% silk for 45Euro so you can maintain your budget. Each one was beautiful in its own light. You can overbuy but don't overspend.

If possible, ask the sales associate to demonstrate how to tie the scarf. Learn it and share it. That too embellishes the gift. There are several great videos and websites demonstrating scarf tying. I like this one in particular.

One visit to Galleries Lafayette or Printemps may be sufficient to fill the entire gift order. Or you can leave it up to chance and hope that you will find artist-made unique specimens in the places you visit. Make sure you keep a journal describing the place where you bought it, whether a market,a department store, or from a crafter. The story, in fact, becomes part of the gift. This suggestion comes from an experience that I was able to laugh about later. 

That experience was with chocolate. We were in Zurich and of course, I went to a Lindt shop to buy gifts. I picked up what I thought were unique to Europe - miniature milk cans, representative of the old way of storing milk, filled with Lindt chocolates. Perfect. The chocolate was encased so that it wouldn't squish and there were no luggage restrictions at that time so I did not even consider the space. I would simply buy another suitcase if needed. I returned to Canada and within the first couple of days, without thinking about chocolates, I went to the local Shoppers Drug Mart. Wouldn't you know it? There in the chocolate section were my Lindt milk cans! I carried them through Switzerland and Italy and there they were 2 km away from my home in Canada. The story embellished the gift and everyone included laughed along with me.

NO THANKS: My only "do not do" regarding scarves is that you stay away from designer knock-offs. First, although they are readily available, especially if you are in Paris, it still is illegal (perhaps not always enforced) and if you are returning to Canada with 20 fakes you may end up having to spend time explaining your motives and intentions. The possibilities are not pleasant even though the likelihood may be remote.

NOTE-WORTHY: This can be a birthday or Christmas gift buying resolution for the year, not only when you are travelling. Choose an accessory - scarves, gloves, earrings, cuffs, socks . . .  whatever and be on the lookout for items in your chosen category to buy as gifts. It certainly simplifies the process. One year, I bought books, another year mittens or gloves and so on. You won't be financially overburdened when you have five birthday gifts to buy in one month or at Christmas.