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
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,
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

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!