Wednesday, 24 June 2015

PRIDE "Ballet Flats" Tribute

Thank you Brian for giving a Ballet Flats Tribute to PRIDE or GAY PRIDE month celebrating sexual preferences and gender variations for th LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bi-Sexual Transgender Queer) community. June is PRIDE month in Canada. Whether our preferences are personally or sociologically significant or simply superficial (as in clothing variations) it is important to acknowledge and salute those differences wherever they lie on the contimuum. And so . . . let's take pride in all our preferences and variations as we strive for non-judgemental attitudes! What better way on a clothing blog than with shoes . . . thanks again Brian!

June PRIDE "Ballet Flats" Tribute. Photo Source: Brian Davis
Take a look at the other posts Brian and I have collaborated on about ballet flats:

Ballet Flats: Genderless
In a Man's Closet: Ballet Flats
Ballet Flats Favourites: 13 Pairs in 2013
For Love of Reva and Eddie

Tuesday, 23 June 2015


Closet Content Analysis: Summer Shoes

Nice Choices: Sandals - Light and Airy

Tory Burch Sandals purchased in Scottsdale. Photo Source: Brian Davis
Last month Brian Davis sent me a photo of a new pair of Tory Burch sandals that he bought in Scottsdale, Arizona. He's my go-to guy when it comes to any questions I have about ballet flats or Tory Burch. These are close to what I am looking for but a tad too heavy of a cross strap on the instep. I may have to buy online since I don't know where to go for Tory Burch anywhere near to where I am in France. I'm off to Bordeaux for an appointment at the immigration office this week and will do some shopping while there.

I love shopping, but not necessarily online. For those who are tactile and love to touch and view from a variety of angles and enjoy the experience of trying on before buying, online shopping just doesn't cut it. Call me old school, chastise me for not being "with it", and admonish my old fashioned ways but shopping is not shopping unless you are physically in a retail space surrounded by options that are able to be touched and tried on. How else will you learn the feel of silk . . . of good quality linen . . . of crisp cotton? I suppose you can put your faith in the marketing descriptors but until you feel it and see how it sits or drapes upon your body, you just don't know. If anything, online shopping is delusional - a potential buyer views articles of clothing on one-dimensional figures and the imagination plays its part with skewed results. So this post is supposed to be about sandals . . . I digressed.

We all have our favourite and least favourite pairs of sandals - bien sur. 

Photo by JoyD taken in the Ste. Foy La Grande market
No Thanks: While in the Saturday market in Ste. Foy La Grande in Gironde, I took some photos of what sandals are being wornI am not a fan of sandals that rise up to the ankle. When you have legs that are thick, as hers appear, this particular look is not the best choice. She would have been much better off with an open instep with a crisscross of two or three straps just above the toes. The proportion that you see accentuates the heaviness and that's not what sandals are about.

Photo by JoyD.
Nice and Need: These are a friend's feet under a table at a restaurant in Langon (Gironde), France. The photo was taken about three years ago but these are exactly the sandals I want. The straps are not as thick as the Tory Burch pair and lightness is what I like in a summer sandal. I'm sure I will find something in Galleries Lafayette or one of the shoe shops in Bordeaux.

Sandals that have served me well. Photo by JoyD.
Note-Worthy: These specimens are showing the wear and tear of too many marvellous summers here in the south-west of France. The beige pair on the top rung made their way to the trash bin last summer. The pair that you see below are the pair I bought to replace them. They felt fine for the first month or two but now the leather straps have stretched so that they feel sloppy. 

Photo by JoyD.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Clips for Zenka Frames

Colour Clips for Zenka Frames. Photo by JoyD, June, 2015.
It was the beginning of July, 2014, when I bought my Zenka frames  and I told you then that I would take a few photos of the clips that I ordered. I never did update that post; so it's about time that I show you the clips that I have purchased over the past year. I now have  ten of them in three shades of blue, two shades of purple, and one each in white, red, black, grey and pale pink. 

In the same way that some women buy a pair of earrings, shoes or a scarf to match or to update an outfit, I am now in the habit of ordering a new coloured clip for my eyeglass frames.

Anthony, who owns Opticiens Martin in Ste. Foy La Grande (Gironde), is a true gentleman and it is easy to leave my money in his shop. 

He has a relative, either a brother or cousin (I'm not sure), who is the founder and designer of Parasite frames. I still look at the Parasite brand displayed in Anthony's store and wish that I had more disposable income and was a tad more eccentric - with those two attributes, I know I would be wearing them.

Photo Source: Parasite

For now, the Zenka frames offer me as much eccentricity as I can handle and are more economic than buying a whole new set of lenses and frames. 

What colour is next? I suppose it depends on the next scarf or the shoes that I buy. For now I have an adequate supply.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

The Quasi-Academic Debate: Comfortable Casual or Business Attire at Work

Closet Content Analysis: Casual or Business


The summer inspires us to be more casual in all that we do and most transparently in what we choose to wear. This can create conflict for employees and employers especially when the business calls for a certain degree of formality. I think of banking, insurance, government agencies, medicine/pharmacy and any corporate enterprise that deals with either my well-being or my financial situation. In other words if you are selling me health insurance, you had better not be in flip flops and shorts, even on "casual Friday". I could say, "but that's just me"; however, if I am saying it, there must be others who feel the same way.

In debate protocol, we must start with defining or at least having a basic understanding of what it is we are debating - that is comfortable casual vrs. business attire.

Business is easier to define and so I shall start there. Business for men and women suggests the "suit" although a broader perspective includes blazers and trousers or skirts. Ties for men might be optional but then that crosses the line to "business casual" in the same way as a t-shirt with a blazer rather than a button down shirt would be considered "business casual" but still there remains, the blazer or jacket. Shoes then range from Oxfords to loafers for men and a variety of heel-heights for women. Flats for women are always considered more casual but one's height and activity at work usually determine a woman's choice of footwear.

Comfortable casual is less than business casual. In some cases very much less. It is all relative. In fact an anthropological term, cultural relativism might fit this analysis. In this case, basically what you wear is determined by the values of the culture in which you are wearing it. Therefore if it is normally worn and accepted within a particular culture then it is what it is and should not be considered good or bad by those outside of the particular culture. Sigh. This can get complicated because we are not talking about a particular ethnic or national group but rather sub-cultures/sub-groups within a "business" culture that transcends nationality. 

We need a different analytical term. What comes to mind immediately is appropriateness so therefore "cultural appropriateness" sounds like it might work in analysis. How about, "sub-cultural dress appropriateness in an economic setting"? This then indicates that we are concerned about the acceptability, that which will not offend either administration, co-workers or clients, of clothing worn by members of a particular sub-culture; and sub-culture indicates the group within a larger culture that is specifically economically driven. Another sigh.

Now that the term covers what we want to study, we can get back to debating what is appropriate. "Appropriate" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "right or suited for some purpose or situation". Now, what is "right" and there is where "cultural relativism" comes to bite us again. If it is considered "right" within the group, it may not be considered "right" by those outside the group. So if bank employees all vote, thereby considering it "right" within the group, to wear short shorts, flip flops and bikini tops or muscle shirts on Wednesdays, then our opinion as clients doesn't matter. Ah, but this is where economics comes in. If I choose not to bank at that particular institution then it does affect the economic drive of the company. It is a conundrum but there are social scientists and anthropologists out there who have spent more time studying such things. 

From this blogger's point of view, the best strategy is to look at what the administration is wearing and follow "suit". As an employee you can probably tone it down to more casual attire if the head person is wearing formal business wear; but only a tad. So now, I should define "tad" - never mind. This advice means nothing if the boss comes in blue jeans and a t-shirt but because his or her employees are on the front line, he/she expects more business attire from the staff.

Follow your heart and if all else fails, just ask your boss what the summer standard for sub-cultural dress appropriateness in your particular economic setting is. That'll do it!

Check out what I have written before on this topic:
Summer Office Wear - What is Too Casual?
What is "Comfortable Casual"?
Knee-Length Shorts at Work and Play
Defining Casual Clothing
What Kind of Comfortable?

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Re-Using or is it Re-cycling Clothing?


The "recycleterie" in Pessac (department Gironde, France) has reorganized their product sales areas. At one time, clothing was placed in an alcove off the main go-round of the floorspace that included recyclable possibilities from housewares to furniture and a lot of garden and outdoor stuff. Initially I imagine the commune looked at everything people were throwing out and decided that with the help of volunteers, they could make a few dollars. Over the years the "recycleterie" has become more popular and now I imagine it is bringing in a tidy sum. After all, inventory costs them nothing.  

Electronics once attracted those who first walked through the main doors but that is getting to be a tricky business. The reorganization suggests that clothing manifests a good turnover. As soon as you walk in through the main doors you have the opportunity to browse through the men's, women's and children's clothing. Most items are pretty shabby but this is no ordinary "recycleterie" any more. Now there is a rack that indicates "marques" and so you do not have to sift through the nondescript articles to find the treasures. Levis are no longer grouped with all the no-name-of-consequence jeans selling for two Euros a pair; they are now in the designated area of "marques" and being sold for considerably more.

I also noted that there were a number of "supermarket-brand" t-shirts, all brand new with the original markdown prices that obviously even the store could not get. You would think that the "recycleterie" would have priced them at that amount or less, but in fact, they priced them for more than the supermarket's last sale price. I suppose it must be a matter of what the market will bear.

I guess I can't blame them. Re-sellers were coming through, buying for pennies and then selling at the brocantes and "vides greniers" for 300+% markups. That had to be disconcerting for the staff and so I can imagine that they were thinking, "if re-sellers can buy here and make money, we can sell for a higher price and cut out the middle man". The "recycleterie" reminds me a little of the North American reality show, Storage Wars. In fact, Storage Wars is on TV here in France. I propose a reality tv show situated in France featuring re-sellers who scavenge the vides greniers, brocantes and recyclerteries finding treasures that they sell for a profit.

The foreigners who have retired, settled or perhaps just summered here, like anyone else, love a bargain and there will always be the stack of plates for a Euro or two. It is the perfect place to outfit a summer kitchen if not yourself. 
You could buy a set of dishes for what the paper version would cost. I can imagine someone buying at the "recycleterie" and then donating everything back at the end of the summer. Now that is truly a "recycleterie".

NO THANKS: If you do decide to buy clothing at any "recycleterie", keep the following in mind . . .

. . . Check for odd smells and don't buy if there is any "old" or mildewy odor; it will be almost impossible to get out. Actually this is also good advice for any cloth, wooden or rattan items or furniture. There are many suggestions for removing odors from natural fibers but they seldom work well. It becomes a constant and never-ending battle.

. . . Check for stains and marks. Stained clothing is another "no-no"! You have no idea what it could be or how the original wearer may have tried to remove it. It may be embedded and there is nothing that will remove it. Better not to buy if something is stained.

. . . Check for tiny rips or holes and do not buy. 

. . . Check again and walk away. 

NOTE-WORTHY: However consider the buttons on something that you may reject. You never know, the buttons may be unique and salvageable and you may be able to re-use them on something else. A woman told me about her greatest second-hand-treasure, a Chanel jacket that was moth-eaten and beyond repair but the buttons were still beautiful - definitely a recyclable lotto win.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

What I Actually Packed for 4 Days in Spain

Closet Content Analysis: Items for a 4-Day Trip  

Choices: Things I Didn't Need

NICE          NECESSARY          NEED

We left Spain on Friday, after four days of Rioja wine tours, tastings, long lunches and pinchos/tapas for dinner. It was cooler than we had hoped for. Checking the weather is very important for short trips and limited baggage space.

I wrote about my planning and packing in a previous post. This is what I actually packed and the "bullets" suggest that I either didn't wear it or it could have been optional for this particular trip:

travel clothes to Spain: skinny blue jeans, white cotton sweater, black loafers 
black North Face "Summit Series" hooded jacket 
black skinny jeans
• black knee-length walking shorts
• beige/camel linen wide leg pants 
black v-neck short-sleeved t-shirt
white v-neck short-sleeved t-shirt
• 2 striped Armor-Lux tops 
black blazer
• black sleeveless sheath dress 
cashmere shawl
• cotton jacket-length bathrobe
black loafers
• black sandals
beige loafers
return travel clothes: black shorts, striped Armor-Lux top, black loafers

I didn't wear the black sleeveless sheath dress because we never went to any upscale restaurants. Perhaps if it was warmer I could have worn it when we went for "pinchos" (AKA tapas) one night but that might have been considered overdressed. I didn't need the two striped tops, even though I did wear them both, one would have been fine. I did wear but really it wasn't necessary to have my shorts, but that was because there was definitely a spring coolness to the breeze when the sun went behind the clouds. I never did wear my sandals. I only wore the beige pants once because after the first wearing the olive oil couldn't be camouflaged and so I probably won't bother with them for such a short trip.

NICE: I was glad I took a blazer, it made me feel comfortable in the higher end bodegas. However I would take a patterned or coloured blazer next time because I had too many black pieces.

Photo Source: North Face
NECESSARY: I definitely needed my North Face jacket and my shawl. Mine is in classic black and I wear it in the spring, summer and fall and layered in the winter. This is one of the best purchases I have ever made.

NEED: Because I had so much black, I definitely needed some scarves for colour. Next time . . . 

Packing and Wearing Travel Tips:  

1. If you take white or beige pants, plan to wear them on the last days of your stay. I wore mine the first day and for our pinchos tasting in the evening. By the time I arrived back at the apartment, I had two moderate splotches of olive oil on both knees. Obviously the tiny paper wipes (you can't even call them serviettes) did not serve me well while eating pinchos.

2. For those who are a tad squeamish, wear closed in shoes when you go for pinchos in the evening. The slips of paper wipes end up on the floor around the area where people are standing, eating and drinking (that's right - no containers for garbage). As I noted the debris up against the bar, I did think of an acquaintance who probably would not have been very comfortable with the prospect of a stranger's serviette being tossed upon her manicured toes. Everybody's "grunge tolerance" is different.

3. If you are traveling by car or train between places, choose dark clothing that is easy to wash as your travel clothes and use them only for that purpose. It depends on your number-of-wears-comfort-zone but at least this way you will know that you will have a set of relatively clean clothes for your travel days.

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.

Take a look at what I eventually packed by clicking here, "What I Actually Did Pack for Four Days in Spain". 

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.