Thursday, 9 October 2014

I Left the Shop

Have you ever left a shop when you wanted to buy? What motivated you to leave the shop and leave the purchase behind? Here's my story . . .

Today, I was in Brantome (Dordogne, France) and saw a luxe three-quarter length cape/jacket. I would have purchased it immediately; however this is what happened.

I walked into the shop and there were two people, one man and one woman, sitting in comfortable armchairs. I said, "Bonjour" and the man responded. I told him the store was "magnifique"; he acknowledged. The woman sat there without any acknowledgement. There was a "fall" jacket/cape that I wanted to try on but it was in an awkward position. I struggled for a moment or two, trying to retrieve the jacket to try it on. The man advised me that he could send the piece by post if needed (he obviously deduced that I was a foreigner and made an assumption), the woman talked about accessories that would go well with the piece. Neither person acknowledged my struggle or anticipated that I wanted to try it on before I would buy. I left without trying it on and hence, without buying.

How many sales are jeopardized by what sales associates say or do? In the case described, these were probably the owners, all that had to be done was for one of them to take the jacket off the rack from their angle and once I had it on, I know I would have purchased it. Neither had the foresight to do that.

In another situation, this time in Canada, I loved the dress. I knew it looked it good. What's not to look good, it was a sheath dress in a size 4 (I now wear a larger size). The sales associate said, "I don't like blue". OK, I thought . . . it doesn't matter what you like. After I changed to try on something else, she took the dress away, out of my sight - mistake #1. I tried on the second dress, a print. She then began telling me how great the print looked on me and how awful the blue was - mistake #2. I liked the blue. I did not like the print. I left without buying the one I liked or the one I didn't like.

I have been a sales associate in a high end women's apparel shop. We were trained to mimic the shoppers' responses to whatever they tried on without talking too much. It worked. As a sales person I stood in the mirror with the customer; she touched the neckline, I touched my neckline; she motioned toward the hem and made a comment, I motioned toward my hem; she shrugged and then affirmed with a nod, I shrugged and then nodded. Voila. A sale was made. I probably did not say more than 10 words through the whole process and none opposed what the customer said herself. But then again, none were over the top compliments. I recognize the strategy when sales associates use it on me and I am impressed if they use it at all. It smacks of neuro-linguistic programming. Whether it is or not, I do not know, but it is a strategy of some sort and it worked for the most part.

Have you ever left a shop without buying? It would be interesting to read about your positive and negative sales experiences . . .

Monday, 6 October 2014

ITSO - In the Style Of . . .

Fashion you can buy, but style you possess.
The key to style is learning who you are, which takes years.
There's no how-to roadmap to style.
It's about self-expression and, above all, attitude.
- Iris Apfel

Photo Credit: via Celebrity Gossip
According to Styleblazer, Kim Kardashian's signature style is a blazer and skirt or long bottom combo. Styleblazer writes, "her daywear pretty much consists of a blazer, blouse, and pants or leggings". I never knew. And in the same Styleblazer post, Eva Longoria is allegedly associated with the sheath dress as her signature style. Now I know. I have something in common with Kim Kardashian and Eva Longoria. Well let's not stop there, Ciara loves black and white. Gosh, darn, what a coincidence, so do I.

Now, the same website accuses Kardashian of stealing looks but that indicates that if you are a celebrity (albeit reality tv status), you can be accused of "stealing a look" just by wearing a similar piece of clothing after another celebrity has worn that clothing item first? Hmmm? But that isn't the beginning. Perhaps Kim, Eva and Ciara, along with many other celebrities, were influenced by Jackie Kennedy Onassis or Audrey Hepburn or ________________ (put in your own style icon from the past).

Photo Source: eonline; Retrieved October 6, 2014
Recently married (to George Clooney), Amal Alamuddin is featured comparatively, photo to photo with Jackie O, as a woman who has adopted the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis look. Which comes first, the similarities to celebrities/style icons or the innate predisposition of what one likes and feels comfortable in? Mind, the photos comparing Alamuddin to Onassis illustrate colour and style similarities which might be criticized as stretching the concept just a tad. Just because Alamuddin wore black and white, she is compared to Onassis who favoured black and white - OK? When I wear black and white I seldom think of Jackie Onassis. Back to Alamuddin, the wedding gown was interestingly similar in style to Jackie Kennedy's, if not in fabric. Check out eonline photos for the style comparisons.

Photo Source: Gamma Rapho, 1969 via
Jackie O's style definitely affected my mother and I recall a pale blue sheath dress, which my mother wore, that had the look that Jackie O exemplified. I found a photograph of the dress posted by another blogger, Retrogran, who wrote a series of 7 posts summarizing Jackie O's style. Somewhere along the line of living and working and dressing I have clothing combinations that can be compared to Jackie O as can Kim Kardashian and Eva Longoria. Who knew? Certain items have been staples in my wardrobe forever and I suppose I can call black and white, blazer and trousers and sheath dresses elements of my signature style, which essentially probably originated with my mother's passion for the Jackie look.

There you have it . . . ITSO Jackie O.

What is your style, how did it develop and how is it developing? Does it take years as Iris Apfel alleges?

Here are 3 elements that eventually evolve into whatever your style is:

1. Comfort . . . Not so much what is comfortable, but what do you feel comfortable wearing? In other words, stilettos may not be comfortable physically speaking, but if you are a stiletto kind of gal, you may be even less comfortable, psychologically, not wearing them.

2. The Look . . . As Dolly Parton quipped, "It costs a lot of money to look this cheap." What is the look that you love? Is it bold colours and big jewellery ITSO (In The Style Of) Iris Apfel; cowgirl punk ITSO recent Vanessa Hudgens; lady chic ITSO Audrey Hepburn; goth ITSO black clothes and heavy eyeliner . . .

3. Attitude . . . when you wear a particular outfit, how does it make you feel? If you feel frumpy, dowdy and like a shlep when wearing something, don't adopt it as your style. Choose the clothing that makes you feel self-confident, strong and ready to take on the world.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Women at Grocery Store Wardrobe

When l review the search engine words that bring you to this blog, I am sometimes amazed at the words and phrases that actually get you here. Over the past week, one of the phrases intrigued me and that was "women at grocery store wardrobe". 

How was it that this particular phrase brought someone to my blog? And what exactly was this person looking for?

Was he or she looking for examples of what women wear when they are grocery shopping? Or was it someone curious about people who buy most of their clothing at grocery stores, such as Joe Fresh at Superstore in Canada or Tissaia at E.Leclerc or Tex at Carrefour in France? What exactly was the person wanting to find with the search phrase, "grocery store wardrobe"?

It did make me think and it did motivate me to write this post.

Interpretation 1: What are women wearing when they go to the grocery store? Insofar as grocery stores go, I can't imagine that this particular destination inspires women to wear a particular style of clothing. The grocery store is a destination only because of necessity and does not have specific wardrobe requirements. On the way home from work, dashing out to pick something up, or making a weekly replenishment of supplies hardly deserves a specific wardrobe. However, thinking about my past, I do remember my mother getting "dressed" to go shopping. That was the sixties and seventies and as a "housewife" her weekly shopping trip was in fact an occasion of sorts. In fact my mother did "dress" for this shopping trip, which included the grocery store in addition to other shopping. Now, what did she wear? I don't recall but I do know she never just dashed out to pick up a few things and so sweat pants, t-shirt and runners never would have been something she wore to go "shopping".

I have previously written about Sarah Turnbull's experience in her book Almost French (2004) when her husband suggested that she not go to the bakery dressed in her "gymnastic pantaloons". If the expectation for me as a consumer is to dress to show respect for the vendor, then of course, I would expect particular dress from the vendors. It does seem the way in France, but even that is changing with more casual dress for all concerned, especially in the country.

Interpretation 2: Or was the search phrase aimed at styles that could be chosen from the grocery store aisles? I have been known to pick up Joe Fresh t-shirts at Superstore in Canada and linen or cotton shorts and t-shirts at Leclerc in France but that would be about all. Perhaps there are women and men who choose to buy their entire wardrobes from the grocery store. Is it possible? I suppose it might be depending upon your lifestyle.

Interpretation 3: Or was the person looking for something akin to the site featuring the bizarre dress of shoppers at a particular American department store (Walmart). Goodness knows, I have never seen anyone wearing anything near what is posted on that particular site. Where in the world of Walmarts are the photographers getting these shots? Mind, the last time I was in a Walmart in Canada, it was because I heard that they stocked Bonne Maman jam.

I still am perplexed and certainly curious about exactly what that person was searching for.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

2014 Style Resolutions Review

Now that it is the end of September, I thought it a good idea to review my 2014 style resolutions. I did in fact do one post demonstrating one particular resolution that was essentially only partially filled and that was my #2 wear a smaller handbag resolution. My objective then is to analyze my resolution status in this post.

Stacked cuff, bracelet, bangle, watch and medic alert bracelet -
my signature. Photo by JoyD.
Number 1 was to wear more statement jewellery. I wore statement necklaces for awhile, and that "while" was during the time I was working at the Polytechnic in Canada. It was easier to do then, than it is now, when I am not employed outside the home. As well, here in France, my jewellery cache is not as extensive as the one in Canada. Therefore, because I have less to choose from, I am wearing fewer items. That pretty much goes for my entire wardrobe. However, I am wearing my stacked cuffs, bangles and bracelets and it is here where I may have developed this fashion signature.

My number 2 resolution has already been recorded and so I shall let you read about it by clicking here for the post.

Number 3 was to dress up more. This takes more analysis than I care to give it at this moment because there are so many factors to consider. First, "dress up more" has to be defined and described. Essentially I was dressing up more, until the end of May, because I was working in a professional environment. Now "dressing up" could mean wearing long pants instead of shorts, putting on a blazer over a t-shirt and jeans, wearing loafers instead of sandals . . . so you see, this resolution too can be considered only partially fulfilled. But then again, even my casual summer clothing here is more "dressed up" than when I am in Canada, so this resolution may have been fulfilled "relatively speaking".

Resolution 4 was to review my clothing and see what could be re-created and updated. I wrote of a loose mermaid-style skirt that hits below the knees that I thought I would have re-made into a pencil skirt. The more I think about it, the more I think not. So far I haven't attacked the skirt because I am considering that it was made in a particular style so let it be. Re-making it could cost more than I want to pay and it might not turn out well. This resolution is pretty much on hold because most of the clothing this resolution applies to is in Canada.

My fifth and last style resolution was to create a clothing budget. Now why would I have even entertained that thought? I am not an out-of-control shopper nor do I have the motivation (work) to shop often. I do tend to spend a tad more on clothing because of my "trademark" preferences but . . . here I go rationalizing, which is probably the reason I made a budget resolution in the first place. As of September 27th, I haven't made a budget and so I anticipate that this resolution probably will not be fulfilled.

I'll keep making resolutions since they keep me on track, whether I actually keep them or not.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The LBD: Season-less Style

Closet Fashion Analysis: Dresses that are Black

Clothing Choices: Little and Black and a Dress


One is never over-dressed or under-dressed with a little black dress. 
—  Karl Lagerfeld
Lunch in a LBD in Paris, 2012.
Photo by the waiter serving JoyD and her husband.
When many of us think of the LBD, we think of cocktail hour or evening wear. The LBD can be worn morning, noon and night - to work or to entertain or to be entertained. 

When a little black dress is right, there is nothing else to wear in its place.
- Edith Piaf

What is the little black dress?

• a must-have - a wardrobe essential
• constant, reliable and always appropriate
• easy to wear
• available in every style imaginable
• season-less

Purple shoes to colour block with a little black dress.
Photo by JoyD.
• a canvas to colour-block accessories or display a special statement necklace, but that's more an evening thing 
• a medium to portray the woman you are 

This woman was in the Bordeaux airport, mid-afternoon, at arrivals last fall. Excuse the quality of the photo but I was trying to be discrete! I don't know who she was or who she was waiting for but the person landing in Bordeaux should have been impressed with this reception.

Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.
- Coco Chanel

Other Closet Fashion Content Analysis posts featuring the LBD:
Black is a Canvas (July, 2014)
The Dress - the Sheath - the LBD (April, 2012)

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Clothing Rules . . .

Clothing Choices: Set by the Rules


It is the middle of September and I am in the South-West of France. If you couldn't pick out the tourists in July and August, you can now. There is something askew about what tourists are choosing to wear. The locals have synchronized their clothing with the seasons but the tourists are hanging on to every summer-like temperature-relative day, symbolized by their clothing.

This last Sunday, it was most obvious. A woman I met at the brocante/vides grenier was wearing a swimsuit cover-up . . . too short and too skimpy, even though she has the body that can pull it off. Even in July and August, she should only be wearing this "outfit" at the beach and at the most, for lunch at a beachside café. I don't think she realized how out-of-place she looked and if she did, of course, it is her prerogative. 

I felt as if I was wearing winter clothing in comparison. My skinny jeans and a t-shirt topped with a blazer, albeit I chose to wear sandals, seemed overdone but somehow in sync with the season and the crowd. I did end up taking my blazer off when I sat down for a coffee but for the most part, I did feel "more French" somehow. Anyone in beachwear or a "tanktop", in this particular location, was not French to be sure.

My French neighbours think I am a wimpy Canadian I am sure. They cannot understand how a woman who has seen and felt minus 40 is shivering when it is plus 24. It's the humidity I explain; Canadian winters are a dry cold. That, my friends is another post.

But what is it in my personality type that makes me want to blend in and not be designated as "tourist"? For the most part, it is the negativity with which this type of dress is regarded. One of my neighbours exemplified this by saying in a rather condescending tone, "Ah yes, but she isn't French". So you see, it is not so much a criticism but a fact, and so because she isn't French, she can be forgiven. Now I'm not French and as soon as I open my mouth, everyone knows for certain that I am not French. So why should I care? But I do.

It's all about clothing choices and of course, because I am my mother's daughter. My culture and socialization set the foundational clothing rules, which are affecting my clothing choices . . . don't wear white after Labour Day; only closed-in shoes from October to April; no tank tops, sleeveless shirts, short skirts, jeans or shorts in a church; wear beachwear on the street and you are sure to be designated as either "on holiday" or immature; don't wear more than three colours in an ensemble; don't wear joggers unless you are jogging; no black at weddings, no red at funerals . . . no this or that . . . make sure you wear . . . sigh . . .

Now, hey you, Mister can't you read? 
You got to have a shirt and tie to get a seat.
You can't even watch. No you can't eat.
You ain't supposed to be here.
Lyrics: Signs (1971)
Five Man Electrical Band (Canadian)

It's easy to say that one should live by his or her own rules; it's quite different to actually do it. I'll try my hardest to wear white linen today.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Jewellery Trends Fall 2014

Closet Content Analysis: Beads, Baubles & Links

Choices: All the Big Stuff

10 Observations of What's Happening with Jewellery for the Fall of 2014 

1. Jewellery is still big! It's been that way for a good while now - at the very least, 5 years and going on 7 since I've been keeping track.

Photo Source:
2. For the fall of 2014, chains are still big! In the designer collections, Michael Kors has big links, no not big, but giant links in his accessory collection for fall, 2014. Even at Chanel the pearls were still there, albeit with hanging tassels, but the chains were dominant. Even Swarovski is showing big links.

3. Over the past few seasons, we have layered bracelets and necklaces in multiples, but fall 2014 has us wearing rings in multiples - one for every finger! Pick a colour and then quadruple the same coloured stone on each of your fingers. This was the "tendance" at Dior.

4. Balman is still showing chandelier earrings which makes me think that, if you like it, wear it and never mind the trends. Ralph Lauren is also showing them, not much different, but he's calling them pendant earrings.

5. Pendants on necklaces and bracelets - aka - charms and anything dangling are still going strong. This has been a favourite way for women to create a "signature" for themselves. I know a woman who loves keys as her pendant of choice, another hearts, a third has chosen the butterfly and so it goes. If you're  interested in making that kind of a statement this could be the year to do it.

Whereas in past years we saw key pendants with no locks, now the locks abound, especially at Chanel. As the Fall 2014 Chanel fashion show progressed the locks and links became bigger.

6. Tribal necklaces are still appearing and I believe will be a perpetual occurrence.

7. Crystal necklaces in the same tone as the clothing you are wearing.

Asymmetrical heart and keys earrings created by JoyD.
Photo by JoyD.
8. Here we go again - "grunge revisited" and punk nail earrings - ear nails - accompany Versace on the runway. Also showing in this genre was a single big earring on one ear. If that's too radical, I can see an asymmetrical look happening for those a little less adventuresome but still daring.

Statement Turquoise Necklace created by JoyD.
Photo by JoyD.

9. Oscar de La Renta is touting big turquoise pieces - turquoise too can become a fashion signature.

Multiple bracelets camouflage my watch and medic-alert bracelet.
Photo by JoyD.

10. Oversized cuffs - been there, done that, still doing it and will do it as long as I am able. Speaking of fashion signatures, I think this has become mine. 

Check out another one of my posts on Making a Statement with Jewellery.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Nothing to Wear

Closet Choices: Nothing

Closet Content Analysis: Everything


"I have nothing to wear" - how many times have I said that as I stare into my overflowing closets? 

More than I care to admit. I now have two closets, one in France and one in Canada and I still have nothing to wear. This is proven by the fact that I only wear five or six things repeatedly but have loads more in the closets.

Technically most of us have more than one closet for clothing - there's the storage closets for winter clothing and perhaps yet another storage space for that which we don't wear often. How many closets does any one person need?

You know you have too much in your closets when:
1. You are truly surprised when you re-discover something you had forgotten you had. 
2. You can't remember the last time you wore a particular piece. 
3. You remember that you had something but can't find it when you want it. 
4. You find items you have only worn once and don't ever want to wear again. 
5. You are layering on your hangers.  
6. You have multiple pairs of black pants, blue jeans, coloured jeans, white pants, beige, navy and you only ever wear one of the pairs in any one colour category. 
7. You don't want to take the time to look through your clothing, because it will take to long, to find what you thought you had.  
8. You can't find something you know you "just" wore.  
9. You have an overflow area for things you wear often and can't fit into your regular closet.  
10. You're sure you don't have something and go out and buy it, only to discover one month later that you already have two or even three.
With that, perhaps when we feel like going shopping we should adopt what Sara Blakely, founder, owner and president of Spanx, has described as her shopping karma . . .
I have this system where if I buy three or four new things, I give away three or four things. Sometimes, it's a very painful system, but shopping is even better when you know that someone else who needs it will be getting. Keep the clothing karma going, I say.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

"Armoire" Content Analysis

Closet Choices: Armoires

Closet Content Analysis: Bed Linens


Armoire. Dordogne, France.
Photo by JoyD.
I'm still thinking about better use of my "closet" space. It is not so much closets in homes in France but armoires. I don't have enough and so I have had to make do as you have seen in my August post. The two armoires I do have in my home are not filled with clothing fashion but rather with the linens I need for my baths and bedrooms.

For the most part, this armoire does not house many of our clothes. It is the only significant piece of furniture in the master bedroom and the bed linens for this room are in this armoire along with all the other small personal stuff one needs in their bedroom.

Armoire. Dordogne, France.
Photo by JoyD.
The second armoire is in the second guest bedroom and in it are all the bed and bath linens for guests and the rest of the house as well as storage for the winter duvets which need loads of room.

This armoire should actually be on the second floor foyer/landing; however it is extremely heavy and one of the back legs is broken so it would be a precarious undertaking to move it. 

NEED: an armoire for the premiere étage landing (2nd floor in North America).

Vintage monogrammed French linen topsheet.
Photo by JoyD.
NICE: Whereas many French love colour and new fashionable bedsheets, it seems that the foreigners who live here prefer the old linens. The vintage bedding requires work - there are not many who "enjoy" ironing so much so that they take the time to iron sheets. A friend of mine who lives near Lyons told me of a woman who was cleaning out her mother's house and put all the old linens in the recycle bin. It makes me shudder. I have had the good fortune to buy several vintage embroidered sheets. I am thrilled to be sleeping under pure linen sheets embroidered by someone in the past. What pride they must have taken in their creations. Mind, I do love my contemporary Yves Delorme bed sets and I have taken to mixing and matching old and new.

What I have done for my bedrooms, or am in the course of doing, is decorate in the colour scheme of sea, sand and sky - essentially blue, beige and white. It has made shopping easy so that if I find a bargain at the vides greniers, brocantes or something on sale at the Yves Delorme store I know I will be able to interchange old and new if I stay within my "sea, sand and sky" colour palette. That being said, there is a great variation in blues and beiges. 

Insofar as monograms go, I am becoming more particular. When I first began buying ancient linens, I did not care what monogram was on the sheets and so I have ER, SM, BD, LB, CG and others but not much in my or my husband's "initial" combinations. Now that I have a reasonable stash of linens, I have begun looking for specific monograms illustrating friends' and families' initials. This has become a challenge.

As one who learned to embroider from my mother, I cannot imagine doing what was accomplished on these vintage linens. I learned because my mother taught me, not because I necessarily wanted to. Mind you, through my experiences, I realize the amount of dedication, persistence and talent it takes to do something like this top bedsheet. What is special here is that it is also pure linen.

Distressed white on blue headboard from an old shutter.
Photo by JoyD. September, 2014.
We have guests from Canada coming in October and one is taking the transatlantic voyage via the Queen Elizabeth II. My husband suggested that we use the blue embroidered ER sheets for him and his wife. I just may do that.

The original motivation for taking this photo was to show my "distressed" shutter that was repurposed into a headboard for a 160 cm mattress in our guest room. A little sanding and a little paint coupled with a husband who can use a drill and voila, a headboard. 

The blue guest room with vintage French linen topsheet.
Photo by JoyD. October, 2014.
I love the armoires and linens in France. In these two household necessities, there is a "something" that I cannot achieve in my home in Canada.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Men in Suits

Closet Content Analysis: How many suits are in your closet?


I love the look of men in suits! I'd like to see more men in suits. I'd like to see my husband in more suits. It may happen this year since it appears that there is an increased interest in dress formality in the workplace for men. Clothing trends come and go and I'm glad to see that there will be more men in more suits this fall.

Perhaps what I like even more than the formal business appearance of tie and shirt is the casualness of a t-shirt or turtleneck with the suit. A suit teamed with a t-shirt and sandals in the summer is a statement that any man can make. Come fall the transition may be loafers, no socks and then well, winter temperatures will dictate what you pair with your suit.

Photo Source: Bonobos Fall Suit Collection 2014
There is a fall crispness to our mornings and there's a "back to work/school" mentality that affects how we buy. Therefore if you are in a situation where suits are the norm or perhaps were the norm or maybe are not the norm and you want to start a new tradition in your workplace, it's time to go shopping.

I envy men for the ease they have in buying online. A North American woman's size 6 rarely fits the same between brand names and between countries, it is nightmarish since it is a 10 in the UK, 38 in France, 42 in Italy and 36 in Germany. For men, pant size is standard relative to waist size and inseam, although that's not the only requisite when it comes to fit. 

Fit is an issue and it means the difference between dowdy and chic. In fact, a couple of Stanford Business School college mates began an online men's apparel company motivated by providing a signature line of better fitting pants. That was in 2007 and by 2011 their company, Bonobos, began providing f2f service in Bonobos Guideshops in major centers across the U.S. In 2012 Bonobos began showing in Nordstroms and select stores. 

Of course they have suits that obviously fit well - standard, slim, short, regular, tall - well-tailored suits in Italian wool as well as other fabrics.

Although they are the largest apparel brand ever built on the web in the United States, they are presently only shipping to the following countries: Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and Australia. According to the Bonobos website, they're in the process of increasing their international destinations.

How many suits are there in your closet? Maybe there will be one more than there was last fall and perhaps it will be a Bonobos suit from their 
men's suit collection