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

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Dressing in Portugal


We are planning a trip to Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Gibraltar and so in the last post I suggested several possibilities as far as what to wear and what to buy in Spain. This post centres on Portugal.

As in Spain, Italy, France and generally speaking all European cities, men and women are very well dressed. Some youth copy American fashion but for the most part I am not writing for adolescents. And so the more mature, especially in Portuguese cities, will not be wearing jeans or shorts and sneakers. One more generalization - as you go into the countryside or to the resort beach areas, dress is more casual but still not many jeans, no sweat pants and over-sized t-shirts. If you see oversized t-shirts and baggy sweatpants, the wearer is probably North American. Dark colours are a good choice for travel anyway but in Portugal, it seems only proper, especially if you are over the age of 30. When Canadians, Australians or Americans come back from visiting Portugal, they often say, "We saw black everywhere, even in the summer". You will see black a lot but that is probably more tradition than style. Wearing black is associated with the deaths of those close to you and there are certain time and kinship requirements that many still adhere too; especially those of a particular age. The older you are, the more likely you would be required to wear black for this reason.

Embroidered products and lace are essentially traditional crafts that tourists often buy. But I truly cannot think of any particular contemporary piece of clothing that you would look for in Portugal. One can say, scarves are the thing in France and so there is a lot of variety - buy scarves. One may advise - the Spanish love shoes - so buy shoes in Spain. But truly I cannot think of what to suggest for Portugal. Although, leather handbags and shoes are of decent quality and you might get lucky.

Modesty is revered in Portugal so forget dressing in an ostentatious way. Name brands won't impress anyone - essentially the Portuguese could care less. "Respectful" seems to be the best word to describe how to dress. Men in shirts with collars and pants; women in skirts and modest tops and dresses. The Portuguese seem to be more nonchalant, more relaxed and less enthused by "what to wear ". The translation for "nonchalant" is "not being concerned" and so it is with the Portuguese.

Photo Source: Dutched Pinay Travels
Of course, Oporto's main shopping street, Rua de Santa Caterina, has upscale boutiques and other shops, particularly shoes, that cater to all budgets. Thank you to Dutched Pinay Travels who gave me permission to use this photo and who has a great post about shopping on Rua de Santa Caterina. Basically you can find anything that you are looking for here. No matter what European city you are in, I think it best to seek out the local artisans and designers to pick up something unique.

Here are 3 packing guidelines that will serve you well in Portugal:

1) In Lisbon, the walking can be challenging (there are seven hills and they are steep) and cobblestone streets and walks are the norm. Take your most comfortable walking shoes, no matter what they look like.

2) If travelling in Spain, Portugal or Italy during the summer, you would be better off taking cotton and linen dresses rather than shorts and t-shirts. When in Spain, it doesn't matter how hot it is, you won't be allowed into religious sites in shorts (men included) or sleeveless tank tops (men included). I have read that Portuguese rules regarding sleeveless tops and shorts are not as restrictive as Spain and Italy. I would err on the side of caution though.

3) Spring, even summer, can be windy and bring an Atlantic chill to the air so a windbreaker would be necessary, such as one from North Face's Summit Series.

Just click on the titles below to read some other posts I wrote about travel and packing:
Business and Tourist Travel Wardrobes
Packing for a Two Week Visit to Europe
In a Man's Suitcase: Vacation in Europe
Shoes for Traveling Europe
Curiosities in Your Travels
The Bag and Packing for the Weekend or Longer

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Curiosities in your Travels

Closet Content Analysis: Note-Worthy but Not in My Closet 

In my last post I suggested analyzing what people are wearing on the street of any particular city to determine what would be accessible and representative of the clothing style of the place. So that in Spain, you will be sure to find fabulous shoes, classic gold jewellery and status-seeking watches. However, there are also the products made by artisans that are curious and note-worthy - we wonder about the creativity behind the piece and we wonder if we should buy it!

Last summer I was in St. Émilion, France with my friend ShirleyB and found the most curious piece at an exhibition. For the most part the reason one visits St. Émilion is for the wine but in fact, because of the number of tourists "pouring" through, there are great exhibitions of local artists, artisans and craftspeople happening alongside the wine trade.

The most curious items I found at a St. Émilion exhibition were purses made of inner tire tubes marked "Made in Canada" and created by Céline Tonnelier of Friandise Créations of France. At 164 Euros I was not that smitten but it certainly was a curiosity and I had to take a photograph.

Purse made from re-purposed rubber inner tubes by Céline Tonnelier of Friandise Créations, France. Photo by JoyD.