Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Artisan Made Outer Wear

Closet Content Analysis: Clothing Art/Closet Gems

Choices: Winter Coats & Jackets


Insofar as winter outer wear goes, after you have had the long camel coat, the black wool pea jacket, the down-filled parka or the shearling jacket, it’s time to purchase something unique. Shopping at arts and crafts shows, artist-owned co-operatives or museum and art gallery shops, even for winter outer wear can be rewarding. First you are supporting a craftsperson, local or international, and second you are getting a piece never seen in a department store.

The coats here are examples of work by master artisans in Canada and Eastern Europe.

Sometimes it feels like it hurts when you make a big purchase, so I really beleive that the more expensive things should be gems that you keep in your closet, not trends. 
- Amber Valletta

Artisan-made coat purchased at Galerie d'Art, Quebec City, October, 2004
Carolyn, Toronto-born and raised and now living in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, bought her "festive holiday coat" in Quebec City. The artisan's shop was just inside the wall of the old city and was filled with Quebec-made knit, woven and sewn crafts and clothing. When Carolyn saw the coat she just had to have it and when she put it on, she visualized herself in a horse drawn sleigh. In fact, she did take a horse-drawn carriage ride after buying the coat. She only wears the coat two or three times a year, however, like a precious gem, it doesn't get "old" and it still makes her feel special.

The coat is reversible: red velvet "patchwork" on one side and blue wool on the other. It is stitched with multi-coloured crocheting and beading details. It features a hood and scarf which are also reversible.

Savelia decided to bring old world craftsmanship to Canada after meeting a master seamstress in Ukraine who made beautiful coats with the centuries-old tradition of appliqués. She brought them to Canada and sold them to friends, family and acquaintances as well as through artisans' shows and her self-sponsored fashion shows. Recently, unfortunately, the artisan in Ukraine is at a standstill since she is now becoming too old to maintain a steady stream of articles for a retail trade and must find an apprentice or apprentices to learn her craft. That puts Savelia with only two or three coats left in her inventory (the one in the photograph is the one long coat left) with an undetermined timeline for replacements.

I received what was called an "Eskimo" parka as a Christmas gift when I was a teenager in Manitoba. In Canada, the term "Inuit" now replaces all former references to "Eskimo". It was a beige wool parka, similar to felted wool, with Inuit inspired designs on the lower park of the three-quarter length jacket. It had a fur-trimmed hood and a dark brown waterproof overlay with matching Inuit designs. When the two-piece parka and shell was no longer a fad, it became a "gem" because of the timeless quality. These jackets are now being sold online as "vintage Eskimo parkas".

There's never a new fashion but it's old.
- Geoffrey Chaucer

Monday, 10 December 2012

Recurring Trends

Closet Content Analysis: Trends

Choices: Doing It Again?

NICE                   NO THANKS         NOTE-WORTHY            NEED           NEW

It was the seventies and platforms were all the rage. 

Platforms, 1973.

These were my "dress" shoes - platforms to go with navy and white polka dot "hot pants" - OMG! I remember the shop on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, long gone now. I knew no one else would have a pair like these in Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada where I went to high school. Years later, my husband, when he was teaching Sociology, took them to a class to use as a motivational set. I still have them and they are still in wearable condition.

My objective for this post is to address the question that when you reach a particular age, and you have lived through a trend decades ago, is it ok to wear the trend when it recurs? I read somewhere, that if you have lived through a trend once, never try to wear it again.

NO THANKS;  Maybe NOTE-WORTHY: When I see peplums, considered a major trend in the winter of 2012, my immediate reaction is that I don't want or need anything with a peplum. I had several in the 80s and that was enough. Although I write this, if I was shopping for a suit or more formal attire and a peplum was one of the choices, I would not dismiss it entirely. I would not buy it for trend's sake but if it looked good, it would be considered.

NO THANKS: When I see retro-polka dots, that too is part of my past that I don't wish to revisit or reinvent. This is a definite NO THANKS.

NO THANKS: When I see colour blocking of contrasting colours side by side, I recall an oversized top from the early 90s that only evokes clownish memories and I am glad I have forgotten it (until this moment anyway).

NO THANKS: When I see short shorts as an alternative to a skirt, I remember "hot pants"; therefore, short shorts other than at the beach, will never again be part of my wardrobe. I know, never say never but I am of a particular age, when I can truly say "never" again to short shorts, no matter what the trendsetters call them.

NOTE-WORTHY & NEW: However, when I saw these platforms, I didn't mind and I bought a pair. So I broke the "never again" rule with a pair of platforms I purchased while I was in Romans-Sur-Isere in the south-east of France in September, 2012. This time they are black with no embellishments at all. I have worn them several times and have felt quite good in them. One of my friends exclaimed that these were the most practical sensible shoes she's ever seen on me. 

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Closet Requirements Relative to Lifestyle

Closet Content Analysis: Striving for a Minimalist Wardrobe

Choices: Lifestyle Requirements

NICE                   NO THANKS         NOTE-WORTHY            NEED

There are women in my closet, hanging on the hangers, a different woman for each suit, each dress, each pair of shoes . . . 
- Marya Hornbacher

Once again, I am contemplating reducing the items in my closet therefore I need to asses what it is exactly that I NEED.

Since I returned to Canada, I have only been bringing to my bedroom closet what I need from my storage closet. Two revelations have come to me. First I certainly don't NEED everything that I have and second, even within my limited range, I have certain favourite go to outfits, which would be considered my NICE.

Even though I am contemplating a minimalist wardrobe; I recognize that my lifestyle is erratic and I NEED different clothes at different times. If I am in my "workshop" or writing, then . . .

NICE: I can live in blue jeans, t-shirts, workout wear and for the most part, barefeet, flats and runners. I have used this quote before but it rings so true for me at the moment:

I'm like every other woman: a closet full of clothes, but nothing to wear; so I wear jeans.
- Cameron Diaz

Presently I'm in my "workshop" constructing jewellery for the Christmas sale on the 7th, 8th and 9th of December. My yoga pants and a t-shirt with barefeet is as elaborate as I get. I leave the house to pick up a few things, where a merino light wool black pullover or v-neck camel cashmere pullover with skinny jeans and high boots are as elaborate as I want for my shopping treks. When I'm off to the gym, I wear my gym strip and don't even bother changing at the gym since it's there and back with no stops in between.

NOTE-WORTHY 1: However, at the jewellery show and sale, I have to look like I wear what I make! My LBD of course and any other classic apparel works but not jeans since they still look a smidge too casual for the type of sale I'm at.

So at certain times my jeans are both my NICE and my NO THANKS.

NOTE-WORTHY 2: With the holiday season here, I NEED formal/semi-formal attire. The LBD gets a lot of wear but I do have a range of simple LBD to lace overlay to bling enhanced. My LBD and a variety of statement necklaces can pull me through for the most part but even within the invitations there is a range of requirements.

NOTE-WORTHY 3: Then I have yet another life, where I occasionally take on teaching contracts so in January I'm off to the University of Alberta for five weeks in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. A more business-appropriate wardrobe is required in this situation because it is a professional college and I feel more comfortable in business wear than in casual clothing. Therefore, I keep my blazers and re-work or update them as need arises.

Given all my NOTE-WORTHIES, how am I to minimize my Canadian wardrobe? I do have a minimalist wardrobe in France since my life there is simpler. My visa states that I cannot work and so I have no professional obligations. I have everything I NEED there and don't seem to be bothered by the fact that I have worn the same dress out to dinner many times. Most of my summer wear is now there and I probably will need to look at reducing the numbers in that closet as well.

It appears that this closet analysis has put me right back where I started. I NEED most everything I have in my closet even though it is only NOTE-WORTHY and not required everyday.  Should I feel guilty?

Guilty feelings about clothes are totally unnecessary. A lot of people earn their living by making clothes, so you should never feel bad.
- Karl Lagerfeld

So what are your favourite NICE go-to clothes in your closet?
In what ways might you minimize your wardrobe?
Or are you too caught in a lifestyle where very different clothing is required relative to the NEED of the moment?

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Jewellery Trends Winter 2012-13

As presented on my blog "pages" you see that I make jewellery. Whenever I am preparing for a big sale, I spend a lot of time searching for the jewellery trends of the time. I then stare at my stash of "stuff" and allow creativity to flow.

For this post, I summarized the features from what I have seen online, in fashion magazines and in the stores while in France in October and in Canada presently. Keeping these features in mind, I design, assemble, take apart, put back together, ponder about and eventually design pieces with which I am happy.

Here's a summary of what I see as components in jewellery trends for the winter 2012-13:

Length: It appears as if lengths range from the "choker" to the long "flapper-style" and everything in between. Whether on the catwalk or on the DIY videos, every length is represented. In the business of preparing for a sale, I now feel that I have to have a representation of each.

Colour:  As in all winters previous and all winters to come, deeper colours appear on the forefront. Emeralds and deep greens are popular this particular season. I've seen a lot of sapphire blue and red along with tones in turquoise and coral/orange. Of the metals, gold seems to predominate. But in fact, I would suggest that you choose the metal tone that feels and looks good against your skin.

Stringing Materials: A"new" recurring feature in the forefront this season is the ropey silk cords, waxed cotton, leather lacing and other woven cording. Of course, there are always pendants strung on cords every season but this winter, there appear to be more. In some cases, thick cording and the knotting is as much the feature as the pendant or charms. And yes, there are chains in multiples as well. There usually isn't just one style of chain holding the beads but rather many thicknesses of many chains looped in varying lengths. Then there are those pieces with the combination of cord and metal. It seems that metal hoops and fabric loops are being featured alone or in combination.

Beads, Charms, Pendants, Tassels and Other Decorative Embellishments: Stones such as turquoise, onyx, different colours of quartz and really just about any kind of stone appear in the collections and reflect that sought after "tribal" quality. Art deco and tassels, reminiscent of the "flapper style" balance the natural and fabric cording materials. Crosses, in decorative Gothic style, as well as in matching colours are yet another prominent feature. But then again you can find what you are partial to, whether it be hearts or skulls. 

Size: Big! Pendants are big, tassels are long and small elements are gathered to evoke "bigness".

Turquoise with multi-media. Created by JoyD. Winter 2012/13
Materials + Features = Product: Put it all together and you get the statement necklace which tops the lists as the predominant trend seen online and in print for the winter of 2012-13. Oversized earrings, with chandelier styles still in vogue, and multiple bracelets, beaded or cuffed, recur featuring the components listed.

So what have I missed? 
What's the trend in your part of the world for the winter of 2012-13?

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Purchase Less, Look Great

We have all seen the phrase, "spend less, look great" but added to that we should probably also be purchasing less. As we get closer to Christmas, many vow to spend less and then they break that vow by allowing themselves to get caught up in the commercialism of it all. And so how can we spend less on our wardrobes as we prepare for Christmas gatherings and festivities?

Of course, "less" is relative to your income, and for the most part, unless you are independently wealthy or have "sheikh" status, spending "less" is  an underlying thought when most of us go shopping. But in fact it really doesn't matter how much you spend (as stated, some have greater expendable income than others) we really should be purchasing less, quantity wise, and looking great with less choice. 

And so I propose three holiday season challenges for you and your closet:

1 Challenge yourself to choose what you have in your closet instead of claiming you have nothing to wear and heading out to the shopping mall. Essentially go "shopping" in your closet. For formal and semi-formal Christmas parties, bring out that little black dress or the trousers and possible tops along with all the accessories and shoes that you can add that will dress up the basics or dress them down to accommodate the variety of events during the holidays. By pre-planning and playing with ideas, you will surprise yourself with all the combinations. Going shopping under the stress of getting something new for a particular event is the worst way to go shopping. You end up buying something you don't really need and it just may end up never being worn again.

Because of what's going on with the economy, I think women are realizing that maybe they don't need a closet full of clothes. They just need the right clothes. 
- Michael Kors

2 Challenge yourself to see the potential in a thrift store item or in a single piece that can complement what you already have. If you do feel that you must buy something new for the holiday season, take the advice of the the North American television show, Diva on a Dime. The hosts choose a runway outfit and then proceed to duplicate the look for the client. It is always fascinating to watch. The hosts scour thrift stores, vintage accessory shops, fabric stores, and sample designer trunk sales to find the "look" without the extravagant price tags. 

Buy what you don't have yet or what you really want, which can be mixed with what you already own. Buy only because something excites you, not just for the simple act of shopping.

- Karl Lagerfeld 

3 Challenge yourself to spend only a certain amount of money. Decide on that amount before you leave your home and do not go over that pre-determined number.

The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one.
- Erma Bombeck 

Men don't seem to have the problem that women have when getting "dressed up" but Diva on a Dime also inspires me to ask, are there television shows like this for men? I would think that there must be an audience of men who are looking to look good for less. In fact, thinking about my brother who has a limited "formal" wardrobe, a show of this kind would be perfect for him when he has special occasions to attend. Whether he would actually watch or act upon the suggestions is quite another thing. 

Consider yourself challenged and let me know what you found in your closet and how you re-invented it.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Seasonal Closet Analysis: Usefulness

Closet Content Analysis: A Strategy to Determine Usefulness

Choices: Colour Assigned Hangers as an Organizational Tool


Now that I'm back in my Canadian home, I need to organize my clothing for winter. I have attempted the subject of closet organization before in a pre-sale closet analysis post but this time I need to analyse my closet relative to season change. 

"Begin at the beginning", the King said gravely, "and go till you come to the end; then stop."  

- Lewis Carroll (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland)

Depending on your personality type the following three steps may seem ridiculous or miraculous. If organizing your closet is a pain, this strategy just might work this time.

1 Get Your Tools Ready. 
Have available three different colours of hangers: one for NICE (clothing you love and always wear), one for NOTE-WORTHY (those that you occasionally wear but can't bear to part with or belong to another season), and one for NO THANKS. For your NO THANKS choices, buy a package or two of red hangers or any colour that is significantly different than the hanger colours being used for your NICE and NOTE-WORTHY choices.

2 Start Sorting. Ask yourself the following when, what, how, where, and why questions as you analyse each item of clothing hanging in your closet.

When do I wear it? (Seasons, months, weeks, days; how often)
If something is only to be worn in another season than which you are in, place it on a NOTE-WORTHY hanger. So if it's winter and you have the luxury of another closet, put the summer NICE/NOTE-WORTHY pieces aside. Place those items which receive seldom or never responses and hang them on your NO THANKS coloured hangers.

What items in your closet are your favourites?
You will probably be able to answer this question without thinking twice and of course, it is related to the "when" question. Your favourites are in an "easy to get to" spot in your closet and you choose them often and wear them comfortably. Put them on your NICE hangers.

How does it fit? (perfectly, too tight, too big)
There is a special category here and it is - tight, but since I'm on Weight Watchers/or any other weight loss program, I'll be able to wear it comfortably in two months, put it on your NOTE-WORTHY hangers. Or "too loose" but I love wearing it around the house. The NO THANKS hangers get the stuff that not only doesn't fit but no longer suits your lifestyle.

Where do I wear it?
By the time you ask yourself this question, your NO THANKS choices are already on their assigned hangers. If the answer is work or "going out" put it on your NICE hangers; if the answer is "at home only" put it on your NOTE-WORTHY hangers or fold them and put them in a drawer rather than taking up space in your closet.

Why do I wear it? (feelings, comfort, need/work requirements)
Clothing for work and your favourite "going out" clothing go on your NICE and NOTE-WORTHY hangers. Maybe you don't wear them often but they are your "formal fancy dress" clothes - those are NOTE-WORTHY.

By the time you have answered all these questions, you will have analysed and sorted out the stuff that is just taking up space in your closet. However, I'm not suggesting you throw or give the NO THANKS things away yet.

3 Dealing with the NO THANKS Lot. Put the NO THANKS clothing in another closet or in another part of your closet. Now they will be on hold for two months. If you retrieve any of your NO THANKS items during the two month period, change them to a NOTE-WORTHY coloured hanger. If you do not seek out or wear any of these items for the two months, it's time to determine what you want to do with them. Your choices are: consignment shop but only if the items are in exceptional quality; a charity depot; "put to other uses" bin (craft & painting clothes, craft bin for re-using fabrics or rag bin); 100% natural fibres to a fabric recycler; or the trash.

Order is the shape upon which beauty depends.
- Pearl S. Buck 

Now you have another task to add to your list for a cold and snowy or rainy winter day!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Clothing Memories

 Choices: What do you remember from closets past?

Closet Content Analysis: The clothing we remember

Elegance is not standing out, it's being remembered.
- Georgio Armani

I can not remember what I wore yesterday and so I can safely deduce that I cannot describe in detail the day-to-day clothing others or I have worn. 

For the most part, I remember clothing that was associated with significant events. Emotional connections to clothing were immortalized in the 2008 play, Love, Loss, and What I Wore, by Nora and Delia Ephron, which they based on the 1995 book of the same name written by Ilene Beckerman.  And so it is that I do not recall what I wore when I went out for dinner with my neighbours last week in France but I can tell you what I wore to my convocation, my godson Mark's wedding, and to my brother's funeral in Canada.  

My mother who obviously influenced what I wear is also in my clothing memories. I can describe what she wore when my younger brother was baptized (I was six), what she wore as mother of the bride and I remember what my mother wore as she lay in her coffin. The first was a light blue brocade sheath dress in a classic Jacqueline Kennedy style and the latter was a blue-grey silk suit of mine that she always admired. When she died I thought it appropriate. 

Plaid dress, 1947.
When I asked my mother-in-law, whose own mother sewed all her clothes when she was growing up, if she remembered her first store-bought dress. She shared that it was a dress that she bought for the day-before-the-wedding festivities when she was getting married. It was a plaid red, black and green dress with black trim around the collar and sleeves that she wore in August, 1947.

Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.
- Kevin Arnold

If our own clothing memories are associated with significant life events, it seems that memories of other people's clothing may be more generalized. One of those generalized memories is as much of the woman as was her clothing. She was a colleague, whom I admired not only for the way she dressed but also for her professional demeanor and expertise. She has recently been one of the recipients of the 2012 Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence in Canada. She was well-dressed, elegant and professional. Her suits, her shoes, the way she put them together, were impeccable and I imagine still are; although it must be twenty years or more since I last saw her.

It's surprising how much of memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.
- Barbara Kingsolver
What elements come forth in your clothing memories?

Friday, 26 October 2012

The Moccassin/Loafer Upper on a Heel

Photo Source: Elle France
Photo Source: Elle France
"Le Mocassin a Talon" has been featured in many Fall 2012 fashion magazines in France. In Elle France, September 2012 and in Elle Canada, October 2012, the tasseled loafer upper sits on three different heels - thick, narrow and wedge. This shoe is touted as number one in the top four ways to get the "neo-preppy" look (France) or the "city-prep" look (Canada); if in fact, you want the "preppy" look - neo or city notwithstanding.

The first shoe, from Lalil at 165 Euros, features a wedge heel but Elle is astute enough to offer another option from a lower price range - a 3 Suisses shoe with a lighter more feminine heel for 69.99 Euros. In Canada, the least expensive pair at $30. (Cdn) come from Old Navy and the most expensive pair featured are $219. (Cdn) from Miss Sixty.

When I saw this shoe, I thought of a pair of Stuart Weitzman brown suede pumps I bought in 2007. This second style has been around before and is classic enough that it probably can be considered a standard in a working woman's wardrobe. I'm going to have to look for those brown suede pumps with the tassels. 

NO THANKS: Marie-Claire France has a full-page Prada advertisement featuring a Bordeaux/Burgundy coloured tassel fringed loafer upper with a side buckle on thick high heels - "talons". These same shoes appear in an ad in Madame, a women's magazine produced for Air France. However, the price is probably eight times what the Lalil pair are and at the moment, I'm afraid the Prada choice is not for my closet. 

Price aside, it's also because I have this "loafer-upper style" in so many pairs of flats, the heeled version is not something I desire to add to my shoe closet. 

Monday, 22 October 2012

Le Sweat Chic? Please - NO!

Sweaty Choices 

 Closet Content Analysis: "Sweat" Chic
No Thanks 
I have addressed the subject of "chic" before (What is it to be Chic?; The Way We Dress: What is Chic?; A Style Philosophy) and although I have not really come to any definitive conclusions, I know one thing, by my definition - Le Sweat - Il n'y a pas chic - bien sur!

Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.
- Karl Lagerfeld

So when I read the title, "Le Sweat, C'est Chic", in the October, 2012 (No.103, page 43) French edition of Glamour, my usual balanced Libra nature abandoned me. In the Glamour photographs of Kirsten Dunst, Drew Barrymore, Rihanna and Fearne Cotton, Dunst and Cotton appeared as if (except for the footwear) that they were ready to begin cleaning their houses (not that they do that sort of thing). Barrymore and Rihanna, who obviously have style, pulled off the "sweat" chic, for what it could be.

Style is an expression of individualism mixed with charisma. Fashion is something that comes after style.
- John Fairchild

In that same issue of Glamour, there is a "Glam/Pas Glam" page subtitled as "Les tendances hot et les idées flop" - the "hot trends and the ideas that flop" - which features "Le Total Look Jogging". The looks considered "pas glam" are baggy sweatpants with an over-sized hoodie, and an over-sized sweatshirt and cropped sweatpants that look too pyjama-ish according to the evaluator, Alice Augustin. The looks that are featured as the "glam" look of the month (September, 2012) were stylish outfits made of jogging fleece but were not the typical "sweats". Ah well, September, 2012 is over; perhaps this "tendance" is over too. 

But what a turnaround! For generations the world has been looking to France for chic and now, a French edition of a magazine based and founded in the United States is telling us that sweats are chic. I prefer not to believe the French editors on this one, even though Alice Augustin does her best to maintain balance.

This is where the subject turns to "chic-ness", which has nothing to do with trends, but with the style with which one wears an item of clothing.

. . . Today everybody can look chic in inexpensive clothes (the rich buy them too). There is good clothing design on every level today. You can be the chicest thing in the world in a T-shirt and jeans. It's up to you.

- Karl Lagerfeld

This motivates me to repeat some fashion advice from a forgotten source, something about being chic does not require a person to follow trends; however we unfortunately rely on celebrities and fashion magazines to be our guides. This is how I hope this blog intervenes - facilitating the process through which women formulate and develop their own "chic-ness". It's an evolution.
In my nature as a Libra, with the scales/balance guiding me, I leave you with the words of American etiquette specialist, Elizabeth L. Post:
The woman who is chic adapts fashion to her own personality.

. . . but (I return to where I began several posts ago about "chic-ness"). . . the woman has to know what chic is!

Check out the Fall 2012 street style "sweat" look in Paris during fashion week. It's number 24 of the 72 looks given on the Harper's Bazaar site

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

How did I get to this site?

Closet Content Analysis: Visitors to this Blog

There are times when I wonder, "how in the world did you get to this site"? And so in an analytical state I began to do a little research on my own blog and here's what I found, using my Mac, between October 13th and October 15, 2012. I give the dates because it seems that on any given day, results can differ.

I retrieved the keywords and statistics, over a three day period, on several of my popular posts, three of which happen to be on ballet flats, clothing psychology and short shorts, and used Google and Bing to see where I would find my blog in the searched page sequence.

ballet flats for men
Google via Safari, page 5
Google via Firefox, page 7
Bing via Firefox, no listing in the first 30 pages

unisex ballet flats
Google via Safari, page 2
Google via Firefox, page 2
Bing via Firefox, no listing in the first 30 pages

short shorts 
women wearing short shorts
short shorts women
Google via Firefox, no listing in the first 30 pages
Google via Safari, no listing in the first 35 pages
Bing via Firefox, no listing in the first 30 pages 
In the name of research, I began searching with these keywords, which brought over 700 hits to my sight, and after scanning 30 pages of lists with those keywords, I gave up because I could not find my blog. How in the world did over 700 people get to my post on Questionable Attire: Short Shorts when I who wrote the post could not find it? Either I'm not reading the statistics accurately or I don't fully understand search engines - obviously both. (Sigh.)

comfortable casual
Google via Safari and Firefox, page 1 
Bing via Firefox, no listing in the first 30 pages 
This one is obvious as to why I have had a good number of hits. On the very first page of the search using comfortable casual, my blog was within the first five listed when I searched on October 13, 2012. Now, that in my untrained estimation is good positioning.

clothing psychology
Google via Firefox, page 5
Google via Safari, no listing in the first 30 pages
I didn't find my blog with Safari but I did find many "academic" results regarding clothing and socio-psychological implications that need to be investigated further.

Then there are those search phrases that you cannot predict; for example: did jackie o wear black pantyhose. When I tried the same search words, Google through Firefox, I found my blog on the second page; not only one listing but two, back to back. One never knows how the searches will deconstruct the search phrase and place a site

Technorati and StumblUpon and other such add-ons/sites provide social network bookmarking through links, which fundamentally require blogger relationships, something I haven't really taken the time to do and visitor preferences, which I have no control over. One could be online all day writing, responding, commenting, visiting, and linking in order to gain more strategic positions within various search engines. I'm grateful for this blog's results irrespective of how it has been linked. 

Now seems like a good time to thank you for visiting and commenting. Of course, I encourage you to become followers and commenters since both give me an indication of how many of my hits are returnees and how many are simply happenstance. All is very much appreciated.

So tell me, how in the world did you get to this site?

Friday, 12 October 2012

Clothing Psychology: Wardrobe Malfunctions

Choices: Why is that in your closet?

Closet Content Analysis: Underlying Psychology of Wardrobe Choices
"What you wear reveals more about your inner turmoil than you think, says Jennifer Baumgartner, a psychologist whose Washington, D.C., practice involves making house calls to analyze wardrobes." (The Clothes Psychologist is In by Julia McKinnell, Monday, April 30, 2012; Retrieved October 8, 2012 from Macleans.ca)
I once read about a psychologist who claimed he could determine one's personality type by analyzing how that person prepared an orange for eating and then how he or she ate it. This pop psychology is entertaining at the most; but because it comes to us in simplistic terms and watered-down analysis, it can mislead. Is Baumgartner reverting to "pop" psychology in her closet analysis or can our closets be used accurately for psychoanalysis? In Baumgartner's examples, as revealed in McKinnell's article, various manifestations occur: ". . . closet dysmorphia (oversized clothing on small bodies) . . . women who dress like teenagers . . .  swap(ped) maternal roles for friendship roles with their daughters . . . (and a) wardrobe stuck in adolescence because (of) . . . adolescent trauma issues". As a psychologist, she clarifies that, 
". . . my psychological practice and treatment is separate from my wardrobe consultations. My wardrobe consultations are informed by psychology, but I only work with the internal as it relates to shopping, dressing, and organizing/storing behaviors when acting as a consultant." (Retrieved October 9, 2012 from Comments to The Clothes Psychologist is In, Macleans.ca
Even though she claims that her psychological practice and treatment is separate from (her) wardrobe consultation, her assessment about women who dress like teenagers and unresolved trauma issues sounds like psychoanalysis.

On that note, you can attempt a little closet-analysis to "discover yourself" and attempt a bit of self-analysis for fun.

Here are some wardrobe malfunctions and possible strategies to deal with them. I won't even begin to try to suggest any psychological underpinnings.

No Thanks: 5 Wardrobe Malfunctions 

Wardrobe Malfunction 1: The majority of your clothing is black and you do not profess to being a "goth".
Solution: Cheap colourful t-shirts. Introduce yourself and your wardrobe to colour. I bought a 3.90Euro cobalt blue t-shirt last week at LeClerc (a grocery/department store in France) to see if I liked the colour well enough on me to warrant buying something more expensive in that colour. With that in mind, if you are shy of colours, this is a perfect way to introduce it into your wardrobe. You can always cover it up with a black cardigan and just show tiny hints of it until you are confident enough to wear a vibrant block of colour! Why you're not wearing vibrant colours in the first place, is your business. Remember, I promised not to do any amateur psychoanalysis.

Wardrobe Malfunction 2: There are three different sizes in your closet. (I believe I've admitted to this in a past post.)
Solution: Give away, take to the consignment store or pack away any clothing that does not fit. Choose what fits you - not too tight, not too short, not so baggy; all that is too tight, too short and too baggy should be out of sight, out of mind. The small clothes will depress you, reminding you to lose 20 pounds/7 kilos/whatever - and the big clothes will frustrate you, reminding you of all that money spent and now they're too big. Living in the moment is healthy for your mind-full-ness.

Wardrobe Malfunction
3: Novelty clothing or the clothing in your closet is "too young" for you. I want to clarify that "youthful" is acceptable but some stuff is just "too young" and probably outdated too. Novelty t-shirts should only be worn for those "special occasions" when they make sense. The pink rhinestone-studded "this is the bride" t-shirt was fine at the bachelorette party but it's done and should be passed on to another bride-to-be.
Solution: If you are reading this post, you are probably old enough to give away or throw away any t-shirt with princess references, "cute" rhinestone-studded sayings or what you think are clever quips, that are positioned strategically on your buttocks or upon your chest.

Wardrobe Malfunction 4: Cheap sexy. Your closet is overwrought with "cheap sexy" - midriff skimming tops, plunging necklines, too short skirts with too long slits, see-through fabrics.
Solution: Keep "sexy" but only to one item per wear and for evening. Keep the plunging neckline but wear it with a pair of pants. Wear a modest top with a long skirt that has a sexy slit. It's overdone when you have the plunging neckline and the slit up to there. Do the bend over test for your short skirts - remember the "bow-wow" rule - if you bow and everyone behind you says, "wow"", the skirt is too short. Sit, stand, bend over, walk - to make sure that you will not be tugging down on your skirt with every move. Keep the "sexy" that accentuates your best feature but remember appropriateness. You'll feel more confident flaunting your best feature; whereas you'll probably be uncomfortable managing all the "sexy" going on when you overdo it.

Wardrobe Malfunction 5: Clothing in need of repair. The clothing in your closet is missing buttons, has sagging hemlines, seams have come undone and you have resorted to pinning your pants up with safety pins.
Solution: Throw anything shabby away - Goodwill doesn't want it either. Find a tailor or do it yourself but assign a time on your calendar to "fix up" those "fixable" items in your wardrobe.

Well, have you figured out the psychological underlying factors to your wardrobe malfunctions?

Julia McKinnell concludes her piece on Baumgardner's work by writing that . . . "identifying internal reasons for clothing choices helps improve your wardrobe and can change your life". (Retrieved October 9, 2012 from Macleans.ca

Hmm? Interesting; perhaps; perhaps not.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Brogue/Oxford/Derby: The Flat for Fall 2012

Shoe sculpture in Roman-sur-Isere, France, September, 2011.
When I walked into a shoe store in Romans-sur-Isere and asked for "brogues" for women, the sales associate had no idea what I was talking about. I then tried the word, "oxford"; that did not work either. Finally after showing her a pair of men's shoes, she said, "Ah oui, vous voulez Derby!". D'accord! Call it what you want, the Brogue/Oxford/Derby appears to be the flat for the Fall of 2012. (Even though this may be the "tendance" - the "trend"; ballerina flats are also everywhere, and so I believe, like loafers, all these flats will always be there from which to choose.) However, as "tendance" goes -what is popular for the moment - it seems that brogues outweigh ballet flats this fall. But it isn't just "brogues" that are popular but rather any "man-style" tie-up or buckled shoe. The French Elle, September 2012, identified "derbys" as the flat for the season.

A brogue can be an oxford but an oxford is not necessarily a brogue. What's the difference? And what is a "derby" anyway?

Brogues get their name from "broguing" or perforations along the seams of the multiple pieces used to construct this flat shoe. There are also a variety of toe cap references, primarily wing-tip, so named because of the W shaped toe cap, a design resembling a bird's wingspread. 

An Oxford can be a Brogue, but isn't always - remember it's the perforations that make a brogue a brogue. The shoelace eyelet tabs are hidden under the vamp whereas in the Derby, you see the tab on top of the vamp. Yet the "Derby" by Danish-based Emma Go listed at 160 Euros on page 104 of the French Elle September 2012 issue has no tabs, no broguing and could be called an Oxford, although it looks to me like a flat men's inspired look with buckles, no shoelaces.

Traditionally, it is the shoelace eyelet tabs, sewn on top of a single piece vamp, that differentiates the Derby from the Oxford.

NEW: I have always preferred delicate shoes so when I found a pair of patent leather tie-ups without a heavy looking sole, nor with the broguing or perforations, I immediately felt that they were perfect to get me through this year's fall "tendance". By definition, I suppose they would best be called an "oxford". I bought them in Romans-sur-Isere. I can't remember the shop's name, although it doesn't really matter,  because the sales associate from the store I entered went to another location in the shoe mall to help me find what I wanted. It seemed as if the sales associates were all friends and helped each other out or that all the stores were owned by the same company so it didn't matter - a sale was a sale.

NOTE-WORTHY: What to wear with a brogue/oxford/derby? The "tendance" is to roll up your skinny jeans or have your jeans come to that point well below the calf muscle with a "fashionable" width between ankle and calf. This is perhaps not the most flattering look for shorter women and the look with flats is difficult to wear. As always, I think heels look better and although the magazines are showing this pant length with heels, the weekend casual look for fall 2012 in Paris happens to be brogues/oxfords/derbys, at least for the moment.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Shopping in Factory Outlet Stores

Factory outlet stores are not my favourite vendors. If you know the product well, you know that outlet stores provide limited editions - essentially stuff that does not sell well in the regular retail shops and department stores. In fact, some say that factory outlets have criteria for specific clothing and products made for this venue. I won't deny that I have found some fabulous buys but you can walk away disappointed as well. As well, Brian Davis from Calgary reminded me of a NO THANKS for outlets: "quite often there are no returns, all sales final". Very often when you are travelling, you do make a point of buying without thinking to return; however, it is a factor to consider when you live in the area and shop at factory outlet stores frequently.

Marques Avenue in Romans-Sur-Isere, France (September, 2012)

Because I'm in France for six months of the year and because I have friends in Romans-Sur-Isere, I make my way to the Marques Avenue Factory Outlet mall, which has become one of my favourite because Lancel and Armor-Lux both have stores here. However I also visit the LeCreuset (French enamel cookware) store for seconds with superficial topical flaws that do not affect the product, and another store for Yves Delorme bedding and linen. 

Closet Content Analysis: Outlet Store Purchases
NEED          NEW

NEED: A small bag - not an evening bag - but one small enough for evening wear but big enough for my insulin and testing equipment.

Small Lancel taupe bag purchased at Marques Avenue, Sept/12
NEW - Lancel: The small bag with a shoulder-strap that I bought in September, 2012 at the Marque Avenue Lancel store was the same "stamped" croc leather and the same colour as my Premier Flirt that I had purchased in Paris at Galleries Lafayette in September, 2011. The price of the small bag was affordable for me at this time.
The difference between buying at the outlet store and the boutiques is product choice and packaging. When my husband bought my Lancel bag and wallet in Paris, a beautifully wrapped bag came from "behind" the store's walls by another lovely sales associate. The woman who was serving me did not leave my side until the package was handed to me by the second associate. At the outlet store, the bag I chose from the display was the bag packaged for me by the sales associate at the cash register, just like any other store. The piece did not look to be outmoded or a design dud so I don't really know what was "irregular" about it.

NEED: An unembellished Armor-Lux light blue or beige and white striped top.

Grey & White Armor-Lux mariniere purchased Sept/12
NEW - Armor-Lux: Even though the outlet store had winter season selections, sizes were limited and it appeared as if there were many single items, such as one would find in a sample sale. Classics were not always available and it felt as if there was a hodge-podge of items. The only mariniere I found was pale grey and white. I bought it for 35 Euros. The price cannot be challenged. One of the reasons this classic was in the outlet store was probably because the tag said "pink and white" for the colour. Someone's mistake becomes a shopping advantage! I am pleased but I still NEED a light blue or beige and white striped mariniere.

That's it! That's all that is NEW in my closet from the Marques Avenue outlet stores. 

Leave a comment if you want or email me about your experiences of factory outlet shopping and where in the world the best outlets are!