Thursday, 30 October 2014

Age Appropriate?

I don't like it when people say, "You're 45, so you should be wearing X and never Y". For me, dressing is about attitude, not age.
- Twiggy 

OK Twiggy, I'm over 45 and I do think that there are times that I should be "wearing X and never Y". I will agree that attitude plays a part but sometimes one's attitude can influence them to make inappropriate choices. As a teacher once told me, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should".

For the most part, people are kind and will not criticize what you have chosen to wear. But what about the times when you or maybe someone else wants to say something, but doubt arises for a variety of reasons and so nothing is said? My mother used to voice the saying, "When in doubt, don't!" 

Here are some of the things that others have suggested people at a particular age should not wear.


Closet Choice: NICE OR NO THANKS?

Your Choice . . .

When and with what do we stop?


1. Skinny jeans/pants. I'm still wearing mine and I love them. I know more women who are 45+ wearing them than not. I don't see a problem. Should I? They are becoming a classic, a basic in the closet.

2. Short shorts or short skirts. I've given them up but there are others who haven't. Is this unreasonable?

My Favourite Jimmy Choos. Photo by JoyD's husband.
3. Heels. I have a pair of Jimmy Choo's. I love them. I wear them and I will wear them as long as I can; yet there are those who say high heels should be given up when you reach a particular age. My feet are in good shape - no fallen arches, no bunions and I have decent legs. I won't give up my heels until my feet tell me to.

4. Denim. Now I think this is ridiculous but someone somewhere put doubt in my mind. Where did I hear that after a particular age one should not wear denim? To me, this one is not debatable. In fact, I began watching for denim and it appears that is is the fabric of choice amongst the 50+ age group. Does this mean they are all wrong? Mind, there are a few questionable choices made by some, but for the most part denim is worn well by all those I see on the street. This too is an evolution of what is considered a classic.

5. Cleavage revealing tops. What is too old for those women who have great skin and beautiful cleavage and the attitude to pull it off?

OK Twiggy, I will defer to you . . . attitude does seem to be the discerning factor.



Sunday, 26 October 2014

Canadians Wore Red on Friday, October 24th, 2014

The tradition of showing support by wearing colours, to demonstrate that we are united in mourning is a universal action that gives some measure of strength to those left behind. And so it was on Friday, October 24th when Canadians chose to wear red to show their respect to the soldier who died as he stood guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Previously in the week another soldier, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, in Quebec was also killed. The assailants allegedly worked alone.

I am a Canadian in France and was touched by the expressions of sorrow that came from my French acquaintances, friends and neighbours. The butcher expressed his condolences to my husband and me, a neighbour came by to do the same . . . I was deeply touched. I felt the shock with the news release and, with being away, also felt helpless, almost isolated. It was the French who helped enhance my Canadian sentiments.

No matter where we are in the world, the lyrics in our national anthem, "we stand on guard for thee" were made even more poignant. Rest in Peace, Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent

Saturday, 25 October 2014

What would happen if . . .

I recall a creative thinking exercise at a workshop I attended many years ago. The question posed to us was, "What would happen if all the cars in the world were painted yellow?" The consequences ranged from outright revolution to personal individualization. My response was that individualization would take place by adopting accessories for the cars that would likely reflect the extreme, bizarre and eccentric depending upon the personality type of the car owner.

And so it is with fashion. I can imagine the same exercise being presented in design classes. We all wear clothing and if we were all mandated to wear black, you can imagine the accessories that would develop.

What would happen if everyone was mandated to wear black ?

Given that there would be variations with the clothes themselves but since all is black, accessories would become more important to illustrate one's individuality (think of Fred Butler designs.) . . .

the belt . . . belts would probably evolve much differently than what we see now. They might extend upward and downward in such a way that would not only embellish the torso but extend into decorative trains and wings.

Coral, silver & black statement necklace by JoyD.
Photo by JoyD.
the jewellery . . . fashion costume jewellery would abound and I suspect choices, such as the ones Iris Apfel makes, would be the norm. More facial (for example: nose rings, eyebrow decoration) and more elaborate and unconventional ear jewellery would also evolve.



the bag . . . purses would probably not be much different since their function is the same and does not necessarily have a direct impact on the clothing worn.



footwear . . . similar to bags, shoes would also not develop differently than they are now, except our choices would probably lean toward what would be considered more eccentric and most certainly there would be more colour. There is no shortage of bizarre footwear presently.


Photo Source: Parasite 
frames for eye-glasses . . . designs like Parasite would be the norm and glasses would be viewed in the same way jewellery is by everybody who needed to wear corrective lenses. 


Photo Source: Just Posh Masks



In fact, decorative eye masks (See Just Posh Masks) would probably develop for special occasions.


hats and hair accessories . . . once again creative extensions of what exists today but bolder and bigger.



gloves . . . the long and short of it; obviously more colourful and certainly more decorative.


Chica Blue Shawl handmade by C. Murphy.
Photo by JoyD. 
the scarf, shawls, capes . . . colourful combinations would predominate with large and larger sizes coupled with ingenious ways of tying them.

tattoos . . . definitely more people would have tattoos that would be larger, more colourful and probably in more conspicuous places.

I have never taught in a design school but I'm thinking that this exercise would elicit curious and creative results.

I just may use an adaptation of this exercise for my own design purposes: what would happen if . . . 





Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Fashion Week Street Style Possibilities

Closet Content Analysis: Street Style 


Choices: Eccentric, Fashionable, Trendy or Stylish? 

The end of October is near and the hype of the Fashion Weeks, essentially September, over the world is now a memory, albeit in anticipation for the next season. For me, I have barely gotten over Summer 2014 and the fall fashion shows have shown Summer 2015 styles. The schedules for the 2015 fall and winter shows, which come in early 2015, are already posted. It's hard to know what you should be wearing when. That being said, this post is more about "street style" rather than the new designs. 

I have looked at a vast variety of "fashion week street style" photographs from New York to London to Milan to Paris and have concluded that there are five categories of people being photographed:

but of course . . . 
- the rich or famous socialites
-  show business types; 
- those who work in the fashion industry;
- media types including fashion bloggers, editors and cohorts of fashion magazines; 
- the anonymous fashionistas who hope to be photographed
This is not such an astute summation.

There certainly are some "creative" combinations.  I know, I know . . . the point is to get noticed and perhaps even be credited with starting a "trend". The looks range from the bizarre, which are destined to be adopted by adolescents or eccentrics, to the classic and tailored, which can be worn by anyone any age anywhere.

Since the photographs all require permission owing to copyright, I do not have any photos on this post, but I have linked to several websites that illustrate my take on NO THANKS and NICE. So whether eccentric, trendy, stylish or fashionable, you' can determine what you believe is a NICE or a NO THANKS.

NO THANKS: To me, Anna Della Russo is a prime example of eccentric. Perhaps I will eventually work toward eccentric; then again maybe not. One street style photograph shows her choice of long sleeved red top, turquoise blue appliquéd skirt and baby blue platform heels. One more photographic reference to prove that you have to be rich and work in the industry to get away with this sort of thing. Mind, in the photographs I have seen of her, it is very obvious that I simply do not like her chosen style.


NO THANKS 2: Susie Bubble in Milan, to me has an almost clownish effect with her oversize yellow and grey knit, covering a pink top and print skirt, and lime green runners. Entering this world as Susanna Lau, she is now the successful fashion blogger of Style Bubble, from the UK, and is better known as Susie Bubble.

NICE: Nicole Warne, on the other hand, looks beautiful in classic styling in the photograph shown on the Harpers Bazaar website. But I am partial to black, white and beige. Again, Nicole Warne, this time in white, grey and black. A woman after my own heart - a blogger with classic fashion sense who did well.

NICE 2: Then there was Leila Yavari, Stylebop's fashion director, on the Vogue site in Milan: very nice!


I love the variety, the eccentric and even the mundane that we choose to wear and I am grateful to all the photographers who have taken to the streets to illustrate what a wild and wonderful world fashion is.








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: Wenn.com 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

NICE

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

NO THANKS

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.