Tuesday, 1 January 2019

A New Year - Continued Health, Happiness, Prosperity and Friendships - and a Rejuvenated Closet

There are those who don't care to make resolutions but I love to, if not making new ones, at least revisiting former ones. Some of mine are not so much resolutions, but affirmations for renewed energy and motivation to do all that I believe needs to be done.

1. My first includes my closets - again, still and forever. A new year confirms my thoughts of something new in, something old out. I have been negligent with this one but once again, I reaffirm that this is a good strategy. Why I cannot seem to let go is a work in progress, which leads me to my second resolution . . . 

2. Don't think, don't worry, just ________ (do it). For me this translates as Don't think, don't worry, just write. Don't think, don't worry, just throw it out or give it away. Don't think, don't worry, just meditate. That may be the most important of all.

3. My "box a day" rule for organizing the stuff in my life needs a motivating kick in the inspirational butt. On New Year's Eve, a friend told me how effective the "box a day" has been for her over this past year. I did not admit to her that I hardly gave it a thought in 2017. Thoughts change. No matter the size of the box, a drawer, a closet, your purse, whatever container you can manage in 30 minutes or less, a "box a day" will lead to a wonderfully organized life.

4. Re-establish routines that make me healthier, wiser and well, more abundant. This is once again a version of the, "Don't think, don't worry, just do it" sentiment. Just how to do it is the challenge.

5. Eliminate or at least reduce those things that are robbing you of your time and energy. Sorry gamers, both addicts and occasional imbibers. Unless you are "making your living" from this activity, too much of it is just plain wasteful. I know a woman who tells me that her games, all word related games, make her mind active and will result in less chance of eventual dementia. Unfortunately too much of her good thing may end up giving her high blood pressure. I don't know that for sure but "balance" in all we do seems to be a better strategy.

6. Back to the stuff in our lives - use what you have, be grateful you have it and don't be wasteful by buying more stuff that you really do not need. Re-assess buying habits and start giving stuff away or selling it. I think I am repeating myself. Seems that resolution #2 covers all that.

Therefore at the risk of saying the same thing over and over again, I now leave you with wishes for a prosperous, healthy and happy 2019! As the French say, "bon courage" in all that you resolve to do this year.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Christmas-Themed Clothing and Accessories - No Thanks

Call me what you want - kill-joy, stick-in-the-mud, party-pooper, wet-blanket, fuddy-duddy, spoil-sport, fossil, old fogey - I am unlikely to change my mind about this. 

Novelty clothing and accessories are For Children Only

No Thanks - For Adults

For anyone who is old enough to vote or to legally imbibe, novelty clothing items and accessories, including sweaters, t-shirts, leggings, socks and headgear, no matter the holiday, are a waste of yarn, fabric, thread, labour, energy and money. 

A visit to my doctor's office requires me to check-in with the receptionists before I make my way to the waiting room. Approaching a middle-aged woman with an oversized sequinned bow in red, green and silver, fastened onto a headband makes her look ridiculous and does not bring a smile to my face, just a sense of pity. Before attending to my request for a copy of my blood test results, she excused herself to right the headband gone awry. As she stood up, her leggings were reminiscent of children's pyjamas fully illustrated with Santa Claus and a red-nosed reindeer. A woman, no matter what the age should not be wearing form-fitting leggings with a smiling Santa on one cheek, saluting, a reindeer on the other cheek. The other receptionist limited her holiday accessories to a pair of snowman earrings. As I waited for the receptionist to align her headband and pull up her leggings, I felt an overwhelming sense of sympathy for those who believe they are adding to someone else's happiness by allegedly being cheerfully dressed. For this woman, save the get-up for your family. Don't worry about my happiness.

One could debate that the novelty clothing worn during designated holidays make for a more relaxed environment in the more intense places of business or service. I really do understand this choice in hospitals, particularly children's wards. But for me there is something slightly disconcerting when someone with a reindeer antler headband is smiling inanely while taking someone's blood pressure.

My doctor's assistant was dressed in nurse's garb that was Christmas themed but not obtrusive or offending. Her classic top was made from a print fabric with tiny blue and white Christmas ball ornaments. The print was muted and could have been flowers or birds or hearts or whatever . . . it was acceptable and for a novelty top, in good taste.

I don't have to post any photos or guide you online to the multitude of novelty clothing and accessory items, in both acceptable and unacceptable forms, since Mr. Google will help you if you want to have a look-see.

Although I acknowledge the other side and even empathize, I'm still sticking with my bah-humbug attitude when it comes to novelty apparel.

This might be a good place to share if you have examples of the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to novelty clothing and accessories.


Thursday, 22 November 2018

Re-Think Your Next Online Purchase

I just watched and listened to a TedTalk that motivated this post: Where do your online returns go?

You may already know that I am not an online shopper. My history goes back, from the time I was born to about five, to being a child growing up in a small town and my parents the proprietors of a general store. I sat on the counter with my mom behind the till and was cute. I'm sure I was not part of my mom's marketing plan but I did spend a lot of time with her in the store and provided some entertainment for those who came in to buy their groceries or sundries. I have always had an allegiance to independent retailers and I am now much older than my mother was when she was running the store.

The idea, or at least my parents' idea, of returning items to a store was always based on the premise that the customer was always right. In the case of online shopping and returns, this has changed. In fact Aparna Mehta who gives the TedTalk, Where do our online returns go?, reveals that her online buying habits contributed to this problem. The customer in this case is most definitely wrong.

I don't know how many people think like me, but I cannot imagine doing what she admitted to. She would buy the same item in different sizes and different colours and then return all that she would not use because, after all, the companies offered "free shipping" and "free returns". There is no such thing as a "free lunch". The free return policies of online marketers has contributed to billions of kilograms of clothing filling our landfills. But my first thoughts consider how this wasteful process escalates the cost of things and continues to exploit people because of the need for low production costs.

Tomorrow is Black Friday. Make it your Don't Buy Anything Day or at the very least, Buy Only What I Really NEED Because it is a Good Deal Day.

Have a look of some of the posts I have written in the past about related subjects:
Buy Nothing Day Re-Commitment
Buy Nothing Day - November 28, 2014
Buy Nothing Day 2015 Resolution
Sale Induced Overbuying
It Just Doesn't Stop
Buy Nothing Saturdays During December

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Re-Constructing from Previously Worn Clothing

In keeping with my perpetual clothing resolution to "remake" I decided to start easy . . . or at least I thought it was going to be easy.

I have always been impressed with shawls and scarves that have been re-made. I have seen a few examples at artisan markets in France and so I decided to design a shawl using fabrics from no longer serviceable clothing items. Essentially this is a form of patchwork.

Skills: sewing a relatively straight line
Tools and Sundries: scissors, iron, thread, and sewing machine

Like with most things, I started by searching scarf re-construction online and found All Free Sewing.

1. Find items in the same colour tones or in contrasting tones that work together. I ended up with:
• a pale beige cashmere shawl whose fibres had caused splits in the length of the fabric
• a striped white and beige linen shirt that my husband has always hated and assures me he will never wear - now that I have it, he is right
• a beige linen shirt that was splitting at the seams and was impossible to fix
• an ancient white jacquard linen napkin whose fibres were also splitting
• a dark taupe pair of linen pants that my husband promises he will never get big enough to wear again - he hasn't yet
• a meter length of beige and white trim that I bought at a vides greniers (household sale) for a euro.

Photo Source: JoyD in France


2. Wash the items, iron and then cut out the largest salvageable pieces that you can.

3. Lay them on a work surface and stare at them. (Or put them in a large box that you can hide after you have stared at them and not come up with any ideas. Bring out the box when you feel inspired.)

In my jewellery design, I have never been a sketcher. I put my materials on a working surface and stare at it for long periods of time, walk away, return, stare at it some more, try an idea or two, take it apart and stare at it some more. Seems like a waste of time. I wish I could take a sketchbook and draw what I will make but it just doesn't happen that way for me. So . . .

4. Decide if you want finished edges or raw edges on your finished product.

5. Plan the approximate size of your square or triangle.

6. Start putting the pieces together in an agreeable pattern. Don't concern yourself with getting your size dimensions perfect right now. Just pin it together until you have a bit more than what the finished product will be.

7. Now you can start sewing the pieces together.

8. Trim the edges and hem your rectangular or square piece.

So far my shawl is hovering between stage 3 and 6 of the process, and presently in a box without inspiration. It will happen, I'm just not sure when.



Wednesday, 31 October 2018

A Few of My Favourite Things



Travelling to and from France every six months has got me to thinking about going back and forth with just a carry-on. The problem is my favourite things take up more space than a carry-on allows and having two of everything might be economically challenging.

NICE: Here goes an analysis of what I should actually be doing with those favourite things.

Cobalt Smythe "Duchess" blazer
Photo Source: ShopSmythe
Cobalt Blue Smythe Duchess Blazer: Having two is economically prohibitive at this time. I wear it as my travel outfit. Problem: it looks best with jeans and I like a more comfortable pair of pants, which necessitate my black blazer. This in itself is ironic because I have more than one black blazer but my lightweight single-button Sandro blazer (purchased in 2016) travels best. So now I'm taking back two blazers.



LBD Photo by JoyD.
Little Black Dress: I cannot tell you when I bought this because it is so long ago now, I have forgotten but it still is my favourite LBD. I have purchased others but they have not stood the test of the fickle time of fashion. This one has. And I still fit into it. It still gets me through the most basic luncheon to a gala event. I can't leave home without it.

Little Navy Dress: I should leave one of these two dresses behind. Last year I didn't bring my navy one back to Canada and I did go looking for it a few times before recalling that it was in France. It's a MaxMara dress I bought ages ago in a consignment store in Calgary. Perhaps this year I should take it back and leave the LBD in France. It's a thought.

Dark Blue Denim Jeans: Like my LBD, my dark blue denim jeans take me everywhere and look great with my Duchess cobalt blazer. They come back and forth between France and Canada and accompany me on every vacation, whether a weekend or two weeks. The pants I'm wearing are more flexible, black and white check, stretch that travels well.

Linen matching top and trousers: My latest purchase when I visited Arcachon at the end of September was a linen matching top and trousers. Funny . . .  the label says Orto Botanico Italia yet I have not found the clothing company online. Perhaps I have not tweaked in on the word/tag that needs to be used to get me to their site. I see this outfit as a "lounging" or "hostess" outfit as my mother called them - simply comfortable clothing that looks elegant yet casual.

What do I leave in France? It would seem from my analysis that the little navy dress or the LBD should stay behind. The linen top and trousers are a possibility as well since I will be in Canada for the winter and a linen outfit in the winter seems incompatible.

NO THANKS: Well, after having written all of that, I have decided to leave the little navy dress in France.

One more thing to add: I need my denim jacket!

Photo by JoyD.
Yet another thing to add: A white Burberry shirt. Two or three years ago I tried to return a Burberry shirt because the metal appliqués were falling off. I called the location in London and the person I spoke with told me to send the shirt to their address in London with an explanation of what I wanted done. I did that. The package was returned to France - return to sender - without ever being opened. I was annoyed but not enough to pursue it and so I am taking my Burberry shirt back to Canada to see if I can get the collar replaced by a wonderful seamstress I discovered a couple of years back. The story is too long and I only get frustrated when retelling it and so here is a photo of the collar I need replaced. I probably would never have tried to return it if it was a cheaper shirt but it was a Burberry shirt and well, I don't need to relate the price because it is after all a Burberry shirt. I'm not so fond of Burberry anymore.

Photo Source: Lyst (Retrieved Oct. 31/17)
I will be taking my Harris Wilson camel coat back to Canada with me. I left it in France last year when I bought it because I had a coat to wear and did not want to take two. As it turned out the weather was wonderful during October in France this year and I never did wear it this year. I will have better use of it in Canada.

NOTE-WORTHY: And then there are four scarves and my pyjamas. 

I'm good to go!


Sunday, 21 October 2018

ITSO . . . In the Syle of . . . Amal Clooney

"[Amal] clearly seized the moment, and could very well be on her way to becoming one of the great style icons of our day," Bergdorf Goodman fashion director Linda Fargo wrote (via Vanity Fair), "And not just because of what she chooses to wear, but because underneath the clothes, we admire her intelligence, activism, globalism, and her clear confidence in her own skin." (Retrieved March 13, 2018 from http://www.thelist.com/33496/stunning-transformation-amal-clooney/s/she-nails-every-look/)
Amal Clooney's best looks come when she is in her professional wardrobe. No, I'm not referring to the legal robes.

Photo Source: express.co.uk
Retrieved October 21, 2018
Wearing white or cream would make you stand out in a room full of dark suits. Whereas men might feel that it would be impossible to wear anything but a dark suit, women can use the stark opposite of white or cream to make a statement. Compare this suit to the centre one of the three InStyle photos below. The longer pencil skirt has a much better "look" than the flared shorter version.

On the InStyle website the following three images depict Clooney in professional garb. My favourite is on the far left. As I have already indicated, I don't care for the flared skirt with the short jacket in the middle photograph. There's something about knees, the longer pencil skirt just looks better or perhaps it's the photographic angle that is to blame. The dress on the right appears more as something she would wear to a "summer lunch" while in Italy. 


Photo Source: InStyle Retrieved October 21, 2018


Photo Source: Huffington Post
If not white, then red. Once again, no need to wear a dark suit and blend in with everyone else. There's that longer pencil skirt again. In ibtimes.com.au, Mary Alice Stephenson, fashion expert and founder of Glam4Good, was quoted, referring to how Amal Clooney has the same attitude about clothing, as Princess Diana had, “She understands how clothes can draw attention and make a statement.”  

Amal Clooney appears very comfortable in her skin in skirted suits even if she is drawing attention and making a statement.




Wednesday, 4 July 2018

ITSO . . . In the Style of . . . Queen Letizia



Closet Content Analysis: Repeat Basics for a New Ensemble



NICE

A recent anonymous comment motivated me to do a little research on Queen Letizia of Spain. In my 30 second assessment it appears as if she and Duchess Kate share a similar "look".

Photo Source: Getty Images NurPhoto
from queenletizastyle
The most recent audiences as reported and illustrated by www.queenletiziastyle.com. shows the queen in skirts and tops and dresses. I enjoy the website because it will comment and have photographs of outfits or pieces she has worn before. Another similarity to Kate Middleton. There is something endearing about the fact that they are comfortable enough to wear repeat outfits in a world assessing them every time they walk out their doors. The recent post shows a white tweed dress she has worn on three occasions in 2017 and 2018. Check out queen letiziastyle.

Another more casual style I found on the website and one fitting for a summer evening is an ensemble that is easy to duplicate. The website also shows Queen Letiza Looks for Less - love it. The pin-tuck shirt style is tailored with long-sleeves and a standup collar.  You can easily find something similar if you check out the Gap or Banana Republic retail websites. But make sure you look for fitted shirts and not those one-size-fits-all varieties that pin-tuck is often used on. I had a fitted pin-tuck front shirt in white with a "man's shirt collar" more years ago than my closet reveals for it is no longer there and I have long forgotten about it until I saw the Queen Letizia photograph. It's items like that, one wishes to have kept . . . maybe not. 


Photo Source: Romwe.com
The trousers have more detail but if you are going to spend more money on something, a pair of pants like this would be your choice over the shirt. The QL style website links us to Romwe.com where a similar look is being sold for $9.00 US. I have bought linen pants from a grocery store in France for about that price but the furthest I venture out with them is to the market. They don't fit well and the seams are sewn with long stitches that save thread. Romwe is selling a polyester version and my first thoughts are No Thanks to the polyester but Note-Worthy to the style. 

Queen Letizia was wearing smooth leather camel pumps with block heels. Nice. Hers are from a season past but the  Hugo Boss website has a pair of black velvet pumps that are similar. 


Photo Source:
Queen Letizia Style
March, 2017
Photo Source:
Queen Letizia Style
December, 2016
Photo Source:
Queen Letizia Style
November, 2016
Queen Letizia's style befits a contemporary queen and we can also learn a thing or two from her. The QL style blog does a nice job of cataloguing three looks with one clothing item and it's worth repeating here. Change the shoes, the skirt, and the pants -  the look stays elegant and the style says this woman has her priorities in the right place. 






Sunday, 17 June 2018

Garage Sale for Clothing - Good, Bad & Funny

With garage sale season in full force in Canada I thought to share some of the commentary I have encountered while trying to get rid of some of my closet content. 

I decided to try and get rid of the loads of clothes in my extra closets that I haven't worn in years. My life changed after leaving an administrative style job where I was teaching and consulting. It is going on now seven years since I no longer do that or want to do that. I dabbled in those seven years and that was reason enough to hang on to my "professional wardrobe". I did a couple of stints at a Polytechnic and a university and then decided I don't want to jump those hoops anymore. I reintroduced myself to freelancing as a writer and am called upon by a local lifestyle print magazine which suits me just fine. I can work in my pyjamas and I am happy.

I thought that a garage sale would be the quickest way to get rid of many things without any hassle. Here are some of the comments and questions that I encountered . . . for the most part they are amusing at best and slightly annoying at worst.

"Do you have this in a larger size?" This is a garage sale not a boutique. What you see is what there is. I suppose if I had the same item through several periods of weight loss, perhaps it could be a valid question.

"This is not my style. Do you have anything more "bohemian"? Again, the person selling has a particular style and that is what you will see for the most part.

"I saw you have a sewing machine for sale. Can you alter this for me?" Excuse me . . . You can buy the sewing machine and alter it yourself.

"I never find anything I want at garage sales." Ok then why are you wasting your time going to garage sales?

"This sweater has a button missing." It's a wool sweater in the 50¢ bin, you may have to buy a button.

I shall donate the rest of the clothing.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

ITSO . . . In the Style Of Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham's style is one of my favourites to research. Even with her, there are some No Thanks looks that make one wonder, "what were you thinking?"

NOTE-WORTHY  

Wide Leg Trousers. It is interesting that Victoria Beckham often wears either skinny skinny jeans or loose over-sized wide leg pants. I like them, even though you do not see them often on the streets. I personally am not fond of turtlenecks on myself but I love the casual look and the warmth portrayed. Although when you notice the snow on the street, what the guy behind her is wearing and that it was February, you want to say, "It's not that warm, Victoria."

Victoria Beckham, New York City, 2017
Photo Source: StyleBistro
Victoria Beckham, New York City, 2016
Photo Source: StyleBistro

NICE


Photo copied from: designerzcentral.com
Pencil Skirt and Over-sized Sunglasses. This photo keeps recurring when I search for pencil skirt - Victoria Beckham. I don't know the original source of the photo nor the year it was taken but it demonstrates to me, the Victoria Beckham look I love. 

The oversize sunglasses are another signature look that some might consider overdone. If she is in an airport, one does wonder why in the world she would be wearing them.

Designerzcentral.com called this look classic simple and that is my constant and never-ending goal for the look I want to portray. Compare it to the two "No Thanks" looks. There is no contest; the leaner slimmer look of the pencil skirt makes her appear in control, self-confident and successful. The other skirts illustrated here under the "no thanks" heading, seem disproportionate for her figure, the pink is too cutesy and the aqua just looks wrong.

NO THANKS

The Chunky Wedge and Matchy Matchy. Not my favourite look for Beckham. For a woman who can pull off the strappy stilletto sandal as a normal walking shoe and has made it a signature look, this shoe just doesn't live up to what Victoria Beckham should be wearing.

The second "No Thanks" look is the masculine big shirt with a skirt made of a fabric that looks like something from a tacky 1980s bridesmaid gown. Even her signature strappy sandals cannot save this look.

Victoria Beckham, New York City, 2015
Photo Source: StyleBistro


Victoria Beckham, New York City, 2016
Photo Source: StyleBistro



Friday, 8 December 2017

Style for Children

NICE

With Christmas preparations on our minds, I have been reminiscing about holidays past. I remember getting a special dress for the festivities when I was somewhere between five and seven. Those were the days of velvet and lace, certainly not the most practical fabrics for children opening gifts and eating cookies. I remember having a dark green velvet dress with a lace collar. It would have been a child's A-line, not as fitted as the adult version. I would classify this dress as the starting point of my passion for sheath dresses.

Carmin Girl Dress
Photo Source: La Coqueta Kids
This dress is similar to the style of the one in my memories except that mine had 3/4 length sleeves. Europeans still dress their children like children. This particular dress could have been around for the past 75 years. The company La Coqueta Kids was developed by an English woman in Spain.

In October of 2017 we visited Logrono, Spain; and more interesting than women's clothing was the way children were dressed. Take a look at LaCoquetaKids for an overview of what I mean. This clothing is designed for children, unlike what I sometimes see in Canada or the United States. It seems that in North America, children are being dressed in miniature versions of provocative teen or adult clothing and that just is wrong. There is a good article in Psychology Today on trashy dressing and why our daughters are choosing to dress this way. It's one thing for teenagers to go through this type of dressing and quite another when mothers are choosing trashy clothing for six year olds.

Indigo Girl Dress
Photo Source: La Coqueta Kids
On a civic holiday in Logrono, I saw a toddler and a six year old dressed in matching skirts and pullover sweaters. They were adorable. I wanted to take a photo but felt that it was too intrusive on the family and did not even want to ask. I did not take the photo. This was the look except the skirts were denim and the pullovers were that amber gold colour with blues woven in to the upper quarter of the sweater. I remember the shoes being a similar colour as the ones in the photo but there was a dark blue edge running along the upper above the lacing. I already wrote that they were adorable but there is no better word to describe their dress and disposition.

When shopping for a Christmas outfit or any outfit for your little ones, forget the tulle and itchy fabrics with satin ribbons and rosebud appliqués or trashy neon mini-skirts. Instead go for classic styling just like you might for yourself.