Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Luxury Found in an Organized Closet


Luxury is anything you don't need, right? I mean, you need food, water, clothing, shelter . . . but good wine, good food, beautiful interiors, nice clothes; those aren't necessities, they are luxuries - it's all luxury.
- Marc Jacobs

We need to surround ourselves with beautiful things to appreciate and nurture the beauty in the world. If your closets are a mess and you are annoyed because you can't find what you want without rifling through the entire length of your closet, your annoyance affects your mood and ultimately your attitude to life; at least life for that day. When you do finally find what you were looking for, you discover a stain or a missing button or a hem that has ravelled. Now, you are not only annoyed, you are angry. Your mood affects everything you continue doing and consequently everyone you meet. "I'm having a bad day," you proclaim, in hopes that you will be pardoned for any bad behaviour. 

There's something to be said about stopping and smelling the roses and straightening out your closet. Roses are beautiful, a luxury. Buy some and put them in full view on the first day that you decide to attack the closet and take time to go and take a whiff.

The first thing you should not do is take out everything in your closet and throw it on the bed. Please, do not do that. Approach the closet in tiny steps. Make organizing your closet, a week-long, or even a month-long project. If it's been a mess for awhile, what's another few days?

Here are some general recommendations that you can interpret in a way that makes you comfortable and productive.

1. Categorize. Pants together, sweaters, tops, dresses, shirts, skirts - don't worry about sub-categories yet, just get everything that is the same together. Once that is done, then you can separate into colours within the clothing type. 

2. Get rid of wire hangers. Buy several packages of hangers that are all the same. For some reason, the same white, blue or beige plastic or decorator hangers bring a cohesive backdrop to the closet.

3. Sort by Function & NeedNow that you have everything looking organized, it's time to sort into another sub-category - function. If you have not worn something for over a year, put it aside. One more set of sub-categories for the stuff you haven't worn - garbage, give away, re-sale via consignment or Kijiji. 

4. Clean & Fix. The last thing to do is - clean, iron and mend. Those clothes that you have set aside for re-sale need this attention before you truck them to the consignment shop or post them online. Again this is something that could take you the next month or have someone else do it. Drycleaners and seamstresses need your business too.

For those of you who have perfectly organized closets - bravo! However, for the others, depending on whether you assign an hour a day or an hour a week to this project, it will feel good just to get started. You'll get it done - one small step at a time. And the result is pure luxury translated into time and temperament. You definitely will appreciate the luxury a well-organized closet affords and smelling the roses becomes more of a pleasure.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Prepping for Spring Sales: Asymmetrical Pairs

I have been preparing for my spring jewellery sales and have been enamoured by asymmetrical pairs of earrings. I have always had a few in my collections for the artists who buy from me; however this year the popular trends in jewellery have included the slightly offbeat askew look. Check out the asymmetrical look at Bazaar.

I love it and I love the idea of balancing the imbalance. My favourite pair at the moment is made from a vintage brooch and matching earring set. As with many items I collect, there is always something missing. In this case one earring and a brooch were all I found in a bag of abandoned treasures. Re-creating the asymmetrical look with a foundling earring is not really challenging, just a matter of luck. Here are my first three pairs:

Vintage 50s Re-Purposed Brooch and Earrings
Asymmetrical Earrings, Spring, 2015
Photo by JoyD, January, 2015

Psychedelic 60s Geometric Singleton Earring
matched with new colour coordinated beads.
Asymmetrical Earrings, Spring, 2015
Photo by JoyD, January, 2015

New Pendants Re-Purposed Earrings
Asymmetrical Earrings, Spring, 2015
Photo by JoyD, January, 2015

Of course, you may contact me to arrange purchase for any of my work. I do not have my pieces for sale anywhere else online. It is only through personal contact that I make my pieces available.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Navy with Brown and Navy with Black

NICE: Brown and Navy

Navy double breasted blazer with thin brown stripe purchased
 at Holt Renfrew, Calgary.
Photo by JoyD.
Placing these two colour combinations together is not a typical choice but a good while back I had the good fortune to buy a navy blazer that had a subtle brownish vertical stripe. In the photograph, that brown stripe is barely noticeable but when I complemented it with a brown cowl-neck top, it seemed perfect. (Speaking of photographs, the wall is supposed to be the white on the left. Photography is all about capturing the light and PhotoShop.) I have avoided buying brown for a very long time. As a brunette I never felt it did much for me; however this particular combination proved me wrong. I still would not buy a complete brown ensemble but there is room in my closet for brown boots, brown shoes, a brown skirt and my brown cowl neck top to be worn with navy of course or black.

NICE: Black and Navy

Sandro black tuxedo blazer with navy and black
geometric patterned body. Purchased at Sandro,
outlet mall in Romans-sur-Isere, France.
Photo by JoyD.
Before I left France, I was at a Sandro store where I purchased a navy and black blazer. Over the holiday season I probably wore it more often than perhaps I should have. It just seems to fit so many different situations, from lunch to dinner out to meeting a friend. The tuxedo styling allows dressing it up with a little black dress or a little navy dress. I have done both. The double breasted blazer in brown and navy is much more work style than going out style. However, topping skinny blue jeans with either blazer is an option for a less formal situation. 

The whole idea of wearing a base colour, either black, brown or navy, which are all neutrals, still is a strong part of our thinking when we plan our closets, especially for business wear. What is important is that now we can wear them together. Black and brown, black and navy, brown and navy are all allowed. Add grey and camel, another two neutrals, and all can be combined. But here I resurrect an old fashion rule - only two together at a time. I find that putting a bright primary colour with two of the neutrals is quite enough. But of course, there are always exceptions. 

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Pajama Day on a Frigid Sunday

"granny" shawl knitted
by ShirleyB
Photo by JoyD
What better way to spend a Sunday, particularly a Sunday that is -37 degrees Celsius with a windchill making it -50, than in your pajamas all day long. Usually Christmas Day is my annual-must-have pajama day; however with guests and dinner, it didn't happen on the 25th. Today is perfect. Added to the pajamas are knitted socks and what I call a "granny shawl" as I sit and read, write or play online games. Just to make the day a tad productive, I have a pot of beans on and checking it every once in awhile makes it a perfect day. My husband decided to bake bread and so all is well with the world even at -50.

I usually use my camel coloured cashmere shawl as my "granny shawl", a shawl worn while sitting indoors, in an armchair, in a sunroom or on a veranda - I'm sure you can picture the scene. But this year, a friend who knits gifted me with an honest to goodness "granny shawl". I need to start referring to this new item in my closet as a "bed shawl" or a "pajama day shawl" (the word "granny" can wait for a few years), reminiscent of the bed jackets that were popular from the 1930s to the 50s.

Google Image retrieved from Retro Revival, 4/1/15.
A vintage bed jacket is another possibility if you are into pajama days. Cindy, who writes a blog named Retro Revival, informs us that bed jackets were worn when you had breakfast in bed or received guests while still in bed. These are definitely not occurrences in my lifestyle. As for receiving guests, this would be a fine addition even now if you happen to be in the hospital. That's the only place I imagine I would ever receive meals or guests while in bed. And of course it would be infinitely better than the "johnny gown" (see number 9 in my post about Illness and Dressing).

A vintage bed jacket may just become a NEED on my 2015 closet list.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Resolutions for Fitness & Fashion


I like New Year's resolutions. They allow me to asses what is working in my life and what I could do well enough to dispense with. But I don't only make resolutions on New Year's Day. If you have visited this blog before you know that I have made a Buy Nothing Day resolution on what we know here as Black Friday, that post American Thanksgiving Day sale, which it seems the entire world is now adopting. That one is going well and my only transgression was buying some Salt Spring Island goat cheese for a salad I was making for a dinner party on one Saturday out of four so far. Not bad. Since New Year's often brings wishes of prosperity, I shall retain this resolution and attempt to maintain it for 2015.

Walking with my husband in France. Photo by JoyD.
Yet another resolution that many make is one to do with fitness. This one is evident by the number of gym memberships purchased the first week in January. I start out relatively well and then I move to France and lose complete control of my fitness schedule. Being in France for six months is not an excuse at all but somehow my routine there doesn't include fitness in the same way. I walk, maybe stroll is a better word; but there is no gym membership, and I certainly don't walk enough to make a difference. I now carry four extra kilos that proves my point. Of course, you know where I am going with this . . . 

A fit healthy body - that is the best fashion statement. 
- Jess C. Scott

That statement along with, "nothing tastes as good as losing 5 kilos feels" will complement my fitness goals in 2015.

It takes me a good week to think through and commit to any New Year's resolutions. I wish you well with yours and you might consider commenting, resolving, and coming back to this post to remind yourself of any you might make for this year.

Wishing you happiness, prosperity and fulfilment of your goals in 2015.

Friday, 26 December 2014

It Just Doesn't Stop . . .

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, Pre-Holiday Sales, Boxing Day, Boxing Week Reductions, Post-Holiday Sales . . . it just doesn't stop . . . what is the "real" price of anything?

I never really paid attention to the inundation of targeted sales propaganda but now with my Buy Nothing Day resolution I seem more aware of all these commercial entities telling me that they are offering me the best prices ever. My electronic devices deliver "buy something" messages constantly: Monday - spend $25.00, get 10% off; Tuesday - buy 4, get one free; Wednesday - buy 3 get 3 free (the lowest priced 3 that is); Thursday - if I spend any amount I get a free gift; Friday - buy 1 and get a something or buy 2 and get something bigger; Saturday and Sunday - up to 65% off but only this weekend; and if you didn't take advantage of the sales last week, you can this week with 50% off selected items in the store and so the weeks rotate with some such variety of shallow promises enticing me to buy, buy, buy.

Reclaim control of your consumer life, of your wants and needs. Buy what you need and do not be fooled into the false satisfaction that you got something for nothing. 

I have written about buying less before. Check your closets and your pantry before you buy another thing!

Monday, 22 December 2014

A Gift to One's Self

Part of the Stash. Photo by JoyD.
A former jewellery maker and client called me last week and asked if I had anything left in my pre-Christmas inventory of jewellery. But of course - Bien sur! When I sell, I am motivated to create more and so I always have a stash. When she arrived I asked what she needed. "A gift for myself", she responded. 

The beauty of buying from an artisan like me is that you can say, I'd like that chain with this pendant or I would prefer a shorter/longer chain with larger/smaller links and so it goes. She chose the piece with the oversize silver heart that you see in the photo. Because she knows the production process, she asked that I replace the black links with a medium size silver chain link. My sense of balance was slightly nudged but the customer knows what he or she likes. She chose another large black enamel heart but only wanted the pendant and I was able to accommodate there as well. 

This year will not be as profitable as last when I had two major sales before Christmas. Arriving from France the first week in December this year created a void for me. The shows I usually participate in were over and the timing was such that I was unable to organize a gathering of my own. However I am still creating to round out my inventory; I have a commission; and I am planning a March sale. As well the former jewellery maker offered to host a show at her home in the new year.

I enjoy the home environment for shows since I can accommodate many different requests. I bring my tools and extra findings and am able to work as guests are browsing. As well guests have often brought old pieces that they have grown tired of and would like reworked and updated. I receive the most satisfaction from recreating something that has lain dormant in their closets, making it more wearable as a reconstructed piece.

"Junk" jewellery is a challenge. Many people have unwearable bric-a-brac that they pick up as souvenirs, especially when done so on the beach during a warm weather vacation. A woman in Edmonton once brought a bag of wooden souvenir baubles - those inexpensive wooden and shell trinkets that you kick yourself for buying when you get home but still accumulate on every vacation. I combined and recreated them into one statement necklace. She could identify pieces from her mother's Cuban vacation, her sister's gift from Mexico and her own purchases while in Spain along with other warm weather spots. Hers was the reaction I remember the most and from which I received the greatest satisfaction. She told me that she could not believe that the trinkets she was thinking about discarding (and feeling guilty doing so) were so beautiful and meaningful in the combined product. I never did take a photograph of that piece. Too bad.

Often, many pieces that people want reworked are family keepsakes. One woman handed me a green seed bead flower brooch that truly was questionable, insofar as spending the money to reconstruct. She sensed my hesitation and then explained, "I know it's kind of ugly but it has a special meaning to me". I added some metal leaf elements, mounted it asymmetrically on an oval metal disc, added a complementary chain and remade it into a necklace. She now claims that she feels more comfortable wearing it and it no longer languishes in a box under her bed.

Women hang on to the the strangest things - a single earring, a broken necklace, a tangled chain, unwearable, oddball, yet beautiful pieces that sit and wait to be thrown out but somehow never do. We keep them for their beauty and maybe more so, for the memories they evoke. Those were exactly the items I found in a box when going through my mother's estate. I dismantled the lot and reworked them as bracelets that I gave to the granddaughters and even one to a grandson. Now rather than being tossed, they can be worn to bring forth memories of the original owner and perhaps even become heirlooms in their own right.

So now you have an option - instead of discarding, have the pieces remade as a gift to yourself (or someone else) at any time of the year. 

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Buy Nothing Saturday #3

This is the third Saturday before Christmas where I promised to buy nothing and all is well. We invited friends for dinner so the day was spent preparing the table and preparing the food. When your mind is occupied with a definite goal, it is easier. As well, I decided to do without something I thought I must have for the dinner. I forgot to buy it yesterday and my husband, who was prepping the veggies and meat, offered to go and pick it up. I declined, saying it was not necessary. How many things do we go out and buy that are truly not necessary? At the very least, this Buy Nothing Day has made me stop and think, do I really need it?

I believe I can manage to maintain this and carry it over to the new year. However in France, I may have to change the day since Saturday is the weekly Ste. Foy La Grande market and much of our grocery shopping takes place there. I suppose I can make food exempt from my Buy Nothing Day because there are many things that tempt a person at the market and that would be a good exercise in self-control, so perhaps my resolution will be to Buy Only Food at the Saturday Market (when I am in France later in 2015). Yes, in fact, that would test my self-control when it comes to buying frivolously.

Those in France who are thinking of a Buy Nothing Day should not include Monday since most independently owned commercial enterprises are closed Monday anyway. Those kind of days do not exist in North America where some stores and malls are open 24/7. Amazing . . . that there are enough people buying to warrant being open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Incroyable!

Are you prepared to include a Buy Nothing Day commitment as part of your New Year's resolutions? Where in the world are you? Let me know.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Dressing Up During the Holiday Season

Nice for Women and Men

Holiday celebrations have been going on since the end of November in my life and each year it seems that they start earlier and continue longer. I said no to an invitation for a large event this year because it coincided with my return from France. Part of my jet lag condition is lethargy and the first couple of days include going to bed at 8:00 PM and rising at 5:00 AM. This schedule does nothing for holiday reverie! However, if I had had the stamina to attend, I would have chosen my little black dress. Besides the holiday season and New Year's, there will be other opportunities to get dressed up since the season extends into February and March with gala fundraisers, at least here in Canada.

Photo Source: Wendy's LookBook
Of course, you probably can predict what I am about to write - for women, the LBD is the best alternative for holiday dressing. The jewellery or scarves you choose will determine whether it is a casual or more formal look. Formal indicates to me long gowns and a bit more elegance than the LBD can provide but for now . . .

Casual LBDComplement your LBD with a pair of oversize hoop earrings or an asymmetrical choice with an armful of bangles and cuffs.

The Not-Quite-Formal LBDJust add bling. Choose a statement piece - earrings, necklace or bracelets, and then keep anything else you choose to add to the feature piece toned down. Nice is just one of the above. Say No Thanks to an overwhelming combination of blinged-out chandelier earrings, a statement necklace and an armload of bangles and bracelets. 

For men, the suit can be the answer to all your holiday needs in the same way the LBD is for women. You can make it casual or more formal as well.

Casual SuitWear a dark suit with a t-shirt so that you take the jacket off if for some reason you feel overdressed or wear the jacket with a pair of blue jeans and a t-shirt to show that you took a little effort to get dressed.

Photo Source: Bonobos
Formal SuitMany men wear dark business suits with a shirt and tie to formal functions; however there is the tuxedo as a truly formal alternative. Not many consider buying a tuxedo but now an American company has made that choice contemporary and real for a new generation. I've written about Bonobos before. Launched as an e-commerce business selling better fitting pants in 2007, it now is selling a full range of suits, including tuxedos, at Nordstrom's and in other select storefronts in the United States. Visit Bonobos here. This is not your father's suit or tuxedo. Even if you cannot order from them because of your location, it's a good site to visit to see contemporary North American styles in suits.

The question of being under- or over-dressed is a question for another post . . .

Monday, 15 December 2014

Buy Nothing Saturday #2

Accomplished without incident!

However what was a restriction in one part of my life became an over-indulgence in another. We were invited out for both lunch and dinner on Saturday, the 13th. The family gathering at lunch had me exerting more control than I have in a good while when it came to food. Then there was dinner where again I had to temper my appetite - I repeated the mantra - Nothing tastes as good as losing 10 pounds feels. You see I gained 8 pounds in 6 months while in France.

Psychologically I am setting myself up for failure. Apparently if one imposes too many restrictions upon oneself, it is easier to lapse into old habits. Buy Nothing Saturday is working for me now but I can see myself changing it to another day when I take on another teaching contract. My Black Friday resolution to have a weekly Buy Nothing Day will be easy to maintain I am sure!

My second resolution was to be more analytical with the contents of my closet and donate clothing whenever I want to buy something new. I can see this as being more difficult. In fact I was looking to buy something and changed my mind because I realized that I had not perused my closet nor did I make a decision of what I would put in the donation bin. As well the articles I was looking at did not comply with my third resolution. 

The third resolution was to not buy anything "Made in China" or other countries with questionable labour practices. This may be the most difficult! I need to look at this with a more analytical eye and take a survey of what percentage of the clothing that I look at is actually made offshore. Almost all I would bet! But that's another post.