Friday, 22 May 2015

The Perfect Fit

Last year while in France I gained 6 kg in 6 months. Mon dieu - OMG - but when I returned to Canada, I embarked upon a previous regime that served me well and while in Canada for five months, I lost it. Now I'm back in France for 9 months this time. I will not do that again. I can not do that again. 

One of the first things we did this time was join a gym. It proved to be a bit of a shock. We paid more for two people for 6 months than both our memberships cost for an entire year in Canada. And the gym in Ste. Foy La Grande is adequate but comparatively speaking, mediocre. It's not open civic holidays or Sundays and closes at two in the afternoon on Saturdays. With North American gyms open from early morning to late at night or 24/7, it took some rethinking on our part to accept these very French hours of operation.

It's not so much that I want to lose any weight at this time but I certainly don't want to gain and I want to eat foie gras, rillettes de canard and creme everything! I want to have apero and enjoy the white wine and the red wine and the rosé. I also want to eat baguette and cheese after I have already had two courses . . . and then there's dessert. But of course, there's pain au chocolate for breakfast; how could I forget? So you see, the gym membership is worth every penny. There's also a scale there and I can weigh myself once a week so that I can keep on top of it. Last year I just kept eating and squeezing into my clothing claiming that if I could get a particular item on, then I was OK. Wrong! I did not account for the stretch factor nor did I pay attention to how tight everything became. I could still zip it up or pull it on, even though I feared that seams would burst while I was shopping for camembert made from lait cru (raw milk).

That's the ticket - the fit. When something fits perfectly, you look good and feel good. Even at 6 kilos later, I was able to zip up my pants, but I did have waistband imprints for the rest of the day after half an hour of wearing them. But you see, I could still zip them up so I rationalized saying, "well of course, a pound or two will do that". No! Ten pounds or so will do that!

Very often I have heard women say that "nothing fits right" when they are out shopping for new clothing. The problem is, of course, that these women are trying on clothing that is simply too small. It probably was the size they last bought, and instead of going into a larger size, they just give up and say that nothing is fitting properly. Forget the numbers is probably the best advice to follow. So if you were a six and now a ten, suck it up (maybe don't suck it up, I tried that) and wear clothing that fits at the size ten that you actually are. In that way you will feel beautiful and comfortable and not like a stuffed sausage. You will look better, feel better and enjoy everything you do rather than looking as if you squeezed yourself into a size or two smaller, are barely able to bend over, and thereby feeling every bit of the excess weight. 

It is quite remarkable how much better you feel and look if your clothing fits properly. In the meantime, I don't plan to go shopping for awhile, instead I will remain in my easy-to-put-on clothing and maintain the comfort of the size in my present closet. 

Friday, 15 May 2015

Preparing for an Itinerary of Tasting in Spain

There are always space limitations when you travel and that applies to other transport vehicles besides planes. We will be taking a rental car of moderate size to the Rioja area of Spain at the end of May. There are two significant factors to consider: there will be four of us therefore space for luggage is limited and the intent of the trip is to buy wine. Since we will be in France, this time for 9 months, we will be buying in cases not in single bottle designations. Less luggage, ergo more room for wine.

The weather should be wonderful during our time there so the focus of the research as we get closer to the date, will be the morning and evening temperatures. The general weather conditions up until May 25th is forecasted to be cloudy and rainy. A break is expected on the 25th. How opportune! We are leaving the south-west of France on the 25th and even though month long forecasts are not as reliable, the suggestion is that it will be in the mid-20s with partial cloud the following week. 

Sounds like perfect weather for wine tasting. Too hot and that activity becomes, if not impossible, downright dangerous. The chemistry that takes place in our bodies creates accelerated dehydration even if we drink water to compensate. Add extreme heat temperatures and you become even more dehydrated. There's also this to consider - peripheral blood vessels near your skin dilate and that means more blood and heat flows to these vessels. (This is why you see inebriated blokes prancing about in shirt-sleeves in minus 0 weather.) Add accelerated heat flow to the dehydration and the heat that you are absorbing from the environment and you have the conditions for heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. Calculate your weight into this formula, the less you weigh, the less alcohol it can take to dehydrate. My solution or at least my attempt at keeping hydrated is to drink a glass of water before drinking alcohol, alternate water and alcohol and then a glass of water with electrolytes, to replace sodium and potassium, before going to bed. This is all well and good if you remain relatively alert and conscientious. But the purpose of this blog is to assist in deciding what clothing to take rather than how much alcohol to consume.

Wearing Burberry in Turkey, Spring. Photo by JoyD.
It is still spring and although the day temperatures are summer-like, the morning and evening temperatures may require long sleeves and even a jacket. My lightweight North Face Summit Series jacket, which rolls up to a very small size, my black blazer and my cashmere shawl should keep me from any chill that is in the morning or evening air. An all weather jacket or coat such as my old Burberry 3/4 length coat should be taken as well (if rain is in the forecast) - not much for style but great functionality.

Purple Lug Bag for Weekend Travel. Photo by JoyD.
I'm not going to bother packing shorts at all since we are in a city setting and will be tasting wine at bodegas. If anything I will take a skirt but two pairs of pants should service this trip well enough. My LBD is questionable. It will depend on whether we will be formally dining or just grazing on "pinchos" AKA "tapas" in the evening. I'll need at least four or five tops along with the other need-not-mentionables, and a couple of pairs of shoes (a pair of flats and a pair of dressier sandals). Since the four of us are renting an apartment together, I do need something that is acceptable and comfortable to wear in front of others. My cotton "shirt and pants" pyjamas along with a short (jacket length) light cotton robe will be appropriate. All will fit into my Lug bag and I'm good to go.

It's not hard to decide what to take when the itinerary includes eating and tasting and not much else. 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Retro . . . No Thanks . . .

Closet Content Analysis: Two 1970s Trends  

Choices: Won't Do It Again!


Several publicity emails have arrived celebrating the retro looks of the 70s which are apparently the trend for the spring and summer of 2015. I once read or heard an expression that if you have lived through and embraced one particular trend, do not wear it the second time around. I agree completely. I don't think I could bring myself to wear bell bottoms again. I have written about re-doing trends before, when I re-visited platform shoes

Tom Ford Bell Bottoms, 2015. Photo Source: Holt Renfrew
Check out Holts Muse for more Retro Looks. Can you believe we ever wore bell bottoms? And can you believe they, whomever they is, want us to wear them again? Sigh . . . I do not know what it is, from a strictly analytical point of view, but I just don't like the design. I must have been 11 or 12 when bell bottoms first became popular and I pestered my mother until she acquiesced. Now that I am older than my mother was at that time, I can understand her hesitation completely. Yet I cannot tell you exactly what it is about them that I do not like.

Photo Source: Michael Kors
Then there's the crocheted dress. Another "no thanks" for me. I never liked them in the 70's and they didn't come back much better. However, as with most trends there are those who love how Michael Kors has brought back the crocheted dress. Of course, it would be cute on a teenage body - I'll give it that and I suppose it is for those whom the trends are meant.  If you love the crocheted dress, it's best you visit another site like the Independent with their 10 best crocheted dresses post.

My husband suggested that I might want to stop writing at this moment because all these thoughts may insidiously lead to macramé and tie-dying.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

My Favourite Accessories to Pack & Duty Considerations

NICE: The following five accessories are with me on most trips abroad. In this post, I have provided some Canadian duty questions to consider, particularly on "designer" items.

1. In my April 26th post, I identified my favourite clothing to pack when traveling and in that list I included the two pairs of shoes I feel I must always take - my ballet flats and my Jimmy Choo heels. I wish I had kept my Jimmy Choo receipt from Holt Renfrew (you'll see my concern when you read #3); however, they are worn and do not look "brand new" anymore so I doubt I will ever have any customs official ask me about them.

Holt Renfrew Cashmere shawl. Photo by JoyD.
2. My Holt Renfrew cashmere shawl which serves as blanket on planes, a coverup for a cool spring or summer evening or a head covering and scarf in the winter. It's always in my carry-on no matter where in the world I go or what season it happens to be. It's old enough and worn looking enough that I do not worry about any customs agent asking me about this item either. I know I couldn't produce the receipt but I do know that I bought it in Vancouver in 2012 or was it 2013? The HR logo also establishes that it was made for Holt Renfrew for sale in Canada and most likely purchased in Canada.

Photo Source: Swarovski
3.  My Swarovski slake bracelet which does have the receipt indicating where and when I bought it. After having travelled to many places with several accessories bought in foreign locations, I now make sure I enclose my receipts with my "designer" pieces. I have never been questioned in this way but have heard that others have had experiences similar to the following. A friend's dad, from Calgary, was returning to Canada from the United States. He was wearing a designer brand cashmere pullover. The customs agent questioned him and asked if he had a receipt for it. The answer was that it was a sweater bought previously in Europe and not on this particular trip. Again the agent asked for a receipt. He didn't have one and so, taking all the factors into consideration, he took the sweater off and threw it in the garbage. It was old enough that it didn't owe him anything and damned if he was going to pay more taxes on an item that was previously purchased elsewhere. Now I'm not exactly sure (at least at the time of this writing) but if an item is more than six months old, you do not have to pay duty on it, even if it was purchased in the country from which you are travelling. In other words, anything I buy right now in France and return to Canada with in February will not require me to pay duty . . . but I have to prove it with a receipt. In the case of my friend's father, how many people keep receipts on older items? Not many, that is before they have read this story. Of course, the agent could have kept the sweater, his dad may have found the receipt at home and then sent it to Customs and the sweater would have been returned. Having the receipt is the clincher.

Lancel Flirt Bag and Wallet purchased in 2011. Photo by JoyD.
4.  My Lancel bag and wallet, which are dated and don't look brand new. are probably two pieces which should have the receipt enclosed since they are higher ticket items. However, I only understood the importance of keeping receipts for previously purchased items after I found out about my friend's dad's experience. If an agent would ever ask me about this bag and wallet, I could identify where and when I bought it without hesitation. Hopefully, along with the wear and tear on the items, that would be adequate and since I did pay duty on these two items in 2011, I imagine that would be on file. At least I hope it would be on file.

Turquoise and large link necklace. Made by JoyD.
5.  My handmade (made by me) turquoise and chain necklace could be another questionable customs issue if it was newly made while I was in France. This one is an oldie but a goodie and so I have no worries. However the following is a new piece of information that certainly is interesting. As far as I understand, again from a friend's experience, if an article of clothing or perhaps a piece of fashion jewellery, does not have a designation of where it was made, Canadian duty is not to be collected on it. The case of my friend was that he had several linen shirts custom made for him while in Thailand. The shirts identified the tailor on the tag but not where they were made. As a result he did not have to pay duty on these items even though they were purchased on this particular trip. My jewellery has no trademark or identifying "made in . . . " reference therefore it should be duty free even if I made it in France during my stay here.

But of course it's all open to interpretation and the last person I want to oppose is a Canadian customs agent unless of course I have proof and know that I am right. I travel too much and want to continue travelling without any grief and so I will be more diligent in keeping my receipts. 

I'm curious . . . if you have any "customs" stories, no matter where in the world you live, please comment; I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Comfort for the Long Haul

Being the spring in Canada, I should not be surprised to see hooded sweatshirts and blue jeans, along with some sort of clunky sandal as the traveling uniform for both male and female bodies in the Calgary airport. Changing location to the Chinook Lounge did not produce much of an improvement. 

After the eight hour flight to Amsterdam and a two hour reprieve in the Lounge at D25 the attire significantly improved. The generalization that Europeans tend to dress better than North Americans is once again evident, irrespective of whether you are milling about the public areas of an airport or in the private lounges.

It seems that the North American obsession with comfort renders us incapable of dressing smartly. Yet when clothing fits well, whether it be a blazer or a hoodie, it should feel comfortable. I have concluded that for the most part, the reason people feel uncomfortable in a blazer is that it simply doesn't fit. We tend to have "good" wear and "comfortable" wear. Because we wear the good stuff less often, we end up wearing certain pieces that we have outgrown. Even a cotton hooded sweatshirt will be uncomfortable if it does not fit well. We buy these items more often and so the fit will always be better. The point is definitely moot.

If I sound judgemental, I apologize. Don't get me wrong, you should feel comfortable on an eight hour flight so do what it takes.

NICE: I often take a "pyjama" outfit with me - a t-shirt and drawstring linen pants/yoga pants/cotton sweats or some such combination and change for part of the long haul. Psychologically you feel as if you have had a night's sleep even if it was only three or four hours or interrupted. For those who say they can't be bothered, there isn't that much to do but sit so why not trick yourself into believing you will have a restful voyage and wake up refreshed.

NECESSARY: An eye mask, ear plugs and socks. Even though I believe my cashmere shawl is a necessity and I had it with me, I didn't use it this time. The airplane temperature was comfortable and I found the airline blanket adequate.

NO THANKS: Anything tight or stiff that feels like it is sticking to you so no thanks to skinny jeans and synthetics in flight.

Bon voyage!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

My Favourite Clothing to Pack

Here it is the spring and I am packing winter clothing in my one check-in bag for Europe. What's wrong with this picture? Absolutely nothing since my summer closet is adequate in Ste. Foy but I will need more cold weather clothes since I am staying until February. However, I like my husband's attitude. He reminds me every time he sees me pondering over my suitcase,"All you really need to pack is your credit card". 

In fact, it's more a matter of packing some of my favourite things that I keep toting back and forth between Canada and France. 


My LBD. Photo by JoyD.
1. My LBD: Perhaps it's time to buy one in France and leave this one in Canada but it has been a staple in my closet for years. It fits perfectly. The length is proportional for my height. The lines are classic and adaptable to any season. There's nothing more I can ask of it. It owes me nothing.

2. My skinny jeans: Again it's a matter of fit. My blue and black jeans have served me well over the past year and I want them with me in France. 

3. My black, white and navy v-neck short-sleeve t-shirts. Of course I can buy t-shirts in France but again it's the fit, the length and the quality of cotton that makes me buy and pack these over and over again. Believe it or not, they are the $8.00 Joe Fresh t-shirts that I have written about before.

My Jimmy Choo heels. Photo by JoyD.
4. My dark taupe ballet flats and my beige Jimmy Choo heels. I keep carting these back and forth only because they are the only ballet flats I own. As for the Jimmy Choos, they serve me better than my black heels.

5. My black blazer and my black and white patterned blazer. I usually wear the black blazer on the plane. Like the LBD, the black blazer is a staple that probably needs to soon be replaced but until then I shall take it back and forth.

NEW: Last week, Louise K. gifted me with a woollen snood that she knit. I'll be taking that to France and leaving it there to help take away the January chill.

NEED: In addition, for the purposes of this trip, I have included several wool and cashmere sweaters since I'll be there during the rainy winter. I'm re-thinking the underwear - again I'll take only a few of my favourite pieces since there's no better country in the world to buy lingerie than France. And that's it. Whatever I need can be accommodated with my credit card!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

"Another Blog" Thoughts

We have been blessed with the privilege of living in two locations: France and Canada. Several readers as well as other friends have suggested that I write more about my French life. Since this blog's focus is clothing, I am in the decision making process to begin yet another blog and so I visited Dear Blogger and read the post on The Best Places to Start a Blog. Perhaps I am not quite ready since I only half read through the long list of possibilities? 

Blogger has served me well enough for my needs and even though Dear Blogger tells me that this venue is rather simplistic, I know that money can fix that problem. So now the question is do I want to spend the money to produce a fabulous backdrop for my writing? It's all in the packaging I am informed. Perhaps I am not quite ready for that either since my eyes glaze over when I read about slick modern eye candy for my blog?

At the same time I write those sentiments, I realize that I advise putting your best foot forward in the clothing that you choose to wear. Perhaps I should practise what I preach?

I also need to assess exactly what I want from yet another blog being added to the hundreds of thousands out there already. This blog has fulfilled several of my personal goals and I am grateful for each of the visitors and particularly for those part of Closet Fashion Content Analysis loyal readership. Perhaps I don't need to begin yet another blog, just re-construct and add more lifestyle topics to CFCA?

Now that brings yet another thought . . . what could I call it? CFCA was a misplaced descriptor that became it's name when I was creating this blog. I never bothered changing it and so here I sit with a title that is a tad cumbersome (and that's being kind). I'm not quite a luddite - on the continuum, I'm at the lower end of technological experience although I am aware. A name change would definitely be required with a re-construction of this location. Perhaps it would be easier to start fresh with a new topic and a new backdrop and a new name? 

As you can see, my decision making process is presently in a bit of a jumbled state. Perhaps when I arrive in France on April 29th, my thoughts will be clearer?

But I digress . . . I promise my next post will return to more clothing and closet-related content.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Bolder Scarves for Spring & Summer

NICE: Wear two scarves together or tie two scarves together. 

Photo Source: Anne Touraine
Try this when you tie two scarves together. Wrap it in a cowl effect, but have the two ends hanging longer in the front. Choose the scarf colours to match the separate blocks of colour you might be wearing. 

Photo Source: City Girl on Etsy
If you are wearing basic blues, navies and white with a pair of jeans, add a patterned or tie-dyed scarf encompassing all the shades of blue that you are wearing. Check out Etsy for some handmade the-dyed creations and if you are a handy kind of girl or guy, try making your own creation.

NICER: I'm thinking that the shades of blue tie-dyed scarf would be perfect for Edisa Shahini.

Photo Source: Bianca on disicouture

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Embolden Accessories for Spring 2015

Colour Advice for Spring 2015: Pantone tells us . . . This season there is an emphasis on the cooler and softer side of the colour spectrum, with bold colour taking a more supportive role as an accent.

1) The Bold Blazer. If you are wearing head to toe beige, grey or white, choose a deeper tone or bright coloured blazer.

Photo Source: Cover Magazine, UK
Photo Source: Tahari at Macy's

2) The Bolder Bag. Resurrect your beige, black and whites. If you are wearing a beige pant, white top, and black and white jacket, upstage the look with a different textured purse in black and white. For example, wear a black and white striped bag with a black and white floral jacket. The purse you see here comes from a previous season by Michael Kors (photo source: Lyst).

Photo by JoyD.

3) The Boldest Bag - a handbag of the same intensity in colour. Choose a bag that has the same colour tones as the dress or top you are wearing. Use your sense of balance. 

In following that trend it's probably best to tone down the bold pattern of the top with the bag, instead of accentuating it.

Photo Source: JoyD

Choose a bag that has the same colour tones and but an even bolder print. The floral pattern does not have to be exactly the same, just the tones of the colours.

Photo Source: Aliexpress
Dolce & Gabbana Floral Print Round Cross Body Bag
Photo Source: Neiman Marcus

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Personalizing the Bag

Call it purse ornamentation, bag baubles, handbag jewellery, bag ornaments or whatever but it's essentially a personalization of your handbag, sports duffle, backpack, briefcase or any other such container you carry. Spring of 2015 requires that we personalize our carry-alls with some sort of unique ornamentation. 

For awhile I was making oversize "keychains" as bag ornaments but for the most part the pieces I made were not hardy enough to withstand the abuse. I must start making them again with sturdier materials. This spring, it appears that we will be seeing more ornamentation to personalize carry-all containers. Tassels abound and those made of leather, horse hair (do not worry, no horses were harmed in any way) or other such hardy materials seem to be the rage.

I remember high school where leather fringed First Nations beadwork decorated backpacks and purses. About the same time, Hello Kitty made her mark; although it was primarily marketed for pre-adolescent females. I never really understood how teenagers, never mind adults could see fit to decorate their duffle bags or briefcases with a white cat sporting a red bow on its head. However back in about '02 high school students, both male and female, from Asian countries were sporting Hello Kitty paraphernalia on school tuck sacks and athletic bags while doing their mandatory stints in North American high schools. I wasn't in that demographic at the time but I could imagine the interaction between the 14 year old male who put a Hello Kitty DooDad on his backpack and the class bully. 

Photo Source: Fashionisto
Thank goodness the look for 2015 is a tad more sophisticated than the Hello Kitty trend.

This is definitely a duo-gender trend and I can see either wearing beaded baubles and scarves decorating whatever either gender happens to be carrying.

It's 2015, leave the stuffed animals and Hello Kitty stuff to the pre-adolescents.