Monday, 30 December 2013

Ballet Flat Favourites - 13 Pairs in 2013

JoyD: How many pairs of ballet flats do you need? 
Brian Davis: One more pair than I have now . . . 
my favorite pair is my next pair. (September 16, 2012)


In celebration of another year gone and in appreciation to the commenters on this blog, I am dedicating this post to the topic which has instigated the greatest number of comments in 2013. The "ballerina flats" posts on this blog, for the most part, have featured men wearing flats and for that I thank Brian Davis, who has become my official advisor on the topic. The comments in response to these posts have been inspiring, some anonymously written and some with names, and so from those posts and comments, I have compiled 13 favourite ballet flats in 2013. 

NICE: When you go shopping in 2014, whether you are male or female, use this list as a guide:

Photo Source: Brian Davis
1) Tory Burch Flats. If you have been reading this blog, you will know that Brian's favourite ballet flats are Tory Burch . . . I was a huge fan of higher end flats like Michael Kors and Puma flats. Puma actually makes some amazing flats.  But my true favourites are my Tory Burch flats . . . Her classic Reva flats with the gold or silver medallion are a must have.  (Brian Davis, April 20, 2013)

Photo Source: Brian Davis
2) Maria Sharapova by Cole Haan 'Air Bacara' Flat - "super comfortable and unisex, unfortunately out of my budget" (Ivan, May 12, 2013). These come in at around $200.00 retail full price. PinkPanther222 also likes Maria Sharapova - "I absolutely love my Maria Sharapova Air Bacaras. They cushion the heel with Nike technology, the design helps out a guy with high arches, and they just make me look good. They are elegant, simple and sophisticated. I wear them with jeans and shorts. They are incredibly comfortable and versatile." (May 6, 2013 comments) That's Brian in his yellow Revas with a friend in the blue Maria Sharapova Air Bacaras.

Photo Source: Amazon
3) Merrel Wonder Glove Mary Jane ballet flats - "I am proudly wearing them everyday", writes PinkPanther222 who also suggests these, for which he has written a review for Merrel, Amazing Shoes for Males, As Well, which is copied here:
I just purchased a pair of Wonder Gloves (Aluminum) . . . they are so comfortable, flexible and light on your feet . . . as a male I was looking for an attractive "barefoot style" shoe . . . hard to find in the men's section . . . Thank you Merrel! I wear them with my jeans on a regular basis . . . I have alreay received compliments from a few women and my wife.

Photo Source: Rubinos Shoes
4) Nine West model - Fascinate - "I honestly recommend them to all the girls & guys who love to wear flats . . . they are super comfortable and look great with any outfit ($100. Cdn). (Ivan, May 12, 2013)

Photo Source: Banana Republic
5) Banana Republic Ashley ballet flats - "very cute and better than home slippers, I own 2 pairs in black and cognac and I love them ($99. Cdn)" (Ivan, May 12, 2013) Just thought I would feature the red pair to entice you in 2014. I was a tad surprised that Ivan would like the bow but it proves that this too is an inappropriate preconceived notion of what men should like. It seems that if you are adding to a basic wardrobe of black and beige flats, red could be your next choice. 

Photo Source: This Next
6) Michael Kors flats - "very comfortable and elegant flats". (Ivan, May 12, 2013) These are Michael Kors Halo flats which truly do look extremely elegant, perfect for a black tie affair. These look like a fabulous alternative to high heels for the women reading this.

Photo Source: Lindsay Phillips
7) Lindsay Phillips Liz ballet flats - black patent quilted. (Ivan, May 12, 2013). Lindsay Phillips also has something they call "snap shoes", basically ballet flats with interchangeable decorative "shoe ornaments".

8) Juicy Couture scrounge flats (Sergio, May 15, 2013)

Photo Source: Skechers
9) Skechers Bikers Mary-Janes (Brenn, December 28, 2013)

10) Le Chateau (Canadian retailer) has some comfortable flats (articles 276019 and 302807) - "I have the first one (276019) and they are very soft and comfy and easy to match with all my dressy pants and jeans, the uppers are made of leather so no blisters in your heels or toes; price range between $29. to $69. (Cdn)" (Ivan, May 12, 2013)

Photo Source:
Jessica Simpson Leve Shopping.Yahoo
11) Jessica Simpson Leve ballet flats. (Anonymous, June 9, 2013) Another bow on a pair suggested by a male. I personally don't care for bows on shoes therefore I can only conclude that stereotyping ends now!

Photo Source: ShopStyle
12) Lanvin ballet flats. Joelle Aidan was quite smitten by a muted Kelly green pair of Lanvins. I have recently broken the bank and purchased a pair of Lanvin ballet flats and the comfort level has set a new standard. Further, the Lanvin shoes (as simple as they are) are just beautiful to look at. (May 17, 2013) I don't know if these are exactly Joelle's Lanvins but from the description, I found many lovely pairs that were a pleasure to look at and finally chose this particular pair.

13) Sam Edelman Baxton (Ivan, May 12, 2013) Scroll down to the lower part of the Neiman Marcus Last Call page to see a variety of Sam Edelman Baxton ballet flats.

Ivan brought up the issue of cost in his comments and makes some suggestions for shopping for ballet flats. A good option for modest budgets like mine is Winners: Me too NY flats are very comfortable and its price is $40., if you check carefully Winners brings good brands such as Rocket Dog, Sam Edelman and other good brands at good prices. If you need flats in bigger sizes than women size US 11, Payless is a great option - very cute comfy flats and not expensive, and you can try them without asking the sales ladies for their help . . . (Ivan, May 12, 2013)

An Anonymous commenter sums this post up well . . . I wear the ballet flats because they are comfortable and I can slip them on and off easily. They are light on my feet and due to the lower cut of the vamp, are cooler in the summer. This commenters' flats collection come from the Gap, JCrew and Steve Madden. (June 9, 2013)

And with that recommendation . . . different flats for different folks . . . 

NO THANKS . . . 

1) the Steve Madden Heaven - "these flats looks really nice but they always cause me blisters in the toes and sweaty feet cause the insoles are made of synthetic". (Ivan, May 12, 2013)

2) Bloch ballerinas - they are really cute but the toe area is very narrow. I usually wear women's shoe size US 9 or 9.5 and with this brand I had to go up to 10.5 to have some comfort in the toe area, price is high ($225). (Ivan, May 12, 2013)


1) Within the Tory Burch line, comes this observation from Joelle Aidan: I have to say that I prefer the Tory Burch Eddie ballet flat to the Reva. (May 17, 2013)

Your experiences with ballet flats have an important place for this post's informative value and so I invite you to link to my blog (thanks Brian & Brenn and others I don't know about), add your comments here and become a follower.

Wishing you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2014 

Ballet Flats Posts on this Blog . . . 

Friday, 27 December 2013

Shoes: To Fix or Not

These Choos are NOT made for walking: The designer shoes that look old and tatty after one day's wear.
- Joanne Hegarty,  Mail Online, August 15, 2011

I certainly did NOT experience the extent of the problems that Joanne Hegarty and friends did in the article about the delicate nature of designer shoes but after an afternoon reception I did come away with damage that I personally did not even realize happened. 

Jimmy Choo heel tip. Photo by JoyD
Jimmy Choo heel tip. Photo by JoyD
The Jimmy Choos I bought in 2011 have served me well until I went to an outdoor wedding reception in Germany last summer. The heel tip was gone and I was walking on the metal "nail". The leather was pulled back on the heel and lifting from worse to slight almost halfway up the heel. I couldn't wear them and so I began searching to see if I could get them fixed. I emailed Jimmy Choo customer service and a person responded quickly and efficiently with a shoe repair reference in New York state. I was in France at the time and was returning to Canada. With that information, the Choo advisor suggested I take them back to where I bought them. When I came back to Canada, I explored both alternatives but needed some time to ponder whether the cost and effort would be worth it for a pair of shoes, already over two years old. With the information I collected, I came to the reality that I probably would just buy a new pair rather than pay return shipping and repair and heel replacement fees. At the very least my research revealed that they were fixable. I was talking about my dilemma to my friend Sharon over lunch and she suggested that I try a new local shoe repair service whose work is "fabulous"! 

This new "shoemaker" was from Romania and performed a small miracle for no more than the cost of a new pair of heel tips, less than $15.00 (Cdn). I was relieved, appreciative and certainly confident that she could repair just about anything I would take to her. 

Shoe Advice: 

No matter the brand name, the more delicate the shoe (such as a strappy sandal with a thin leather sole), the more necessary to have them re-soled before you actually wear them. You are not so much getting them re-soled but reinforcing the delicate leather sole with another leather sole. If you wait until after the original sole has worn, you may not be happy with a complete "re-soling" which may change the look in a more pronounced way than if you had them reinforced originally.

Black marks on light coloured patent can be removed with petroleum jelly and a little rubbing or if that doesn't work, non-acetone nail polish remover will remove the black marks if they are superficial and not "embedded".

Always use a protection spray on shoes and boots if there is the slightest chance that you will encounter moisture on leather soles. And when I write "moisture" I don't only mean a torrential downpour, I mean the dampness of a grassy lawn - those heels will sink and after a couple of hours of contact, the leather on the heel could very well lift and the heel tip compromised. Think of those heels soaking in wet soil for two hours. Walk on concrete steps after and the heel could encounter significant damage. Be careful and think twice before spending a lot of time on that lawn in heels - gardeners wear rubber clogs for a reason.

Going out for dinner is different than dancing all evening so choose different pairs for different purposes.

When encountering problems with designer shoes, return to the store where you bought them for advice, you will receive more specific pertinent information from the local retail outlet than the designer's website. For this reason, I will never buy designer shoes online but of course, that is a very personal choice.

Explore alternatives before throwing away a pair of shoes. You'd be surprised what a good cobbler can do!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Pajama Day


December 25th was pajama day when I was growing up. As a kid I remember going to my parents' bedroom door, peeking around the door frame and waiting to be invited in. My younger brother and I would then jump onto my parents' bed and beg them to get up so that we could each open a gift from Santa Claus. You see, my family celebrated Christmas according to the Julian calendar, on January 7th and it was January 6th when we opened Christmas presents from the family and had visiting relatives come for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners.

NEED: a new pair of pajamas

When we were introduced to Santa at school, Santa Claus, coming with one gift for each of us, was added to my family's Christmas celebrations and he of course left those presents to be opened on the 25th. Because we didn't celebrate the 25th with a big meal or with any visitors, staying in our pajamas all day was easy and soon became our tradition. In fact, in subsequent years my mother began giving us a pair of pajamas as my parents' December 25th Christmas gift to us. Now we officially celebrated two Christmases! This year I may have to resurrect this custom but I didn't think to buy myself a new pair of pajamas. 

Looking to the past for a new tradition is necessary since my husband's parents are now both gone and my parents too. Without parents, to whom Christmas obligations were an annual necessity, and without children, my husband and I are on our own to create and develop new traditions.

In 2013 I will wear a black pair of monogrammed pajamas, an old pair with drawstring pants and a button down shirt, at least until I need to dress for dinner. Soft from multiple washings and worn around the edges, this pair will soon need to be replaced. Maybe next year.

Have a blessed, fun-filled and restful Christmas and stay in your pajamas just a little longer today.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

It's Frigid on the Prairies!


It has been cold on the Canadian prairies. Brutally cold! Men and women I know who have not worn fur for a variety of reasons have succumbed and have resurrected their fur coats. No matter what one has to say, fur and shearling make up the warmest outerwear humans have adopted and adapted. 

There is a fur lobby and I acknowledge and respect their sentiments but for the ones who are extreme, it seems that their motivations disregard two important factors - the extreme cold of the North and the economies of the Indigenous Nations of the North. When I hear of animal rights activists bringing forth animal suffering I think of the hunters and trappers I know, the men and women who have a great respect for the wild animals and are humane in their methods. Nature deals with over population but humans have interfered and now imbalances can be blamed on human decision makers in a commercial market. 

I also question the "warm weather all year long" resident who admonishes those who wear fur in frigid temperatures. Has he or she experienced minus 40 with a wind chill factor? I question the actors and actresses who call "exploitation" when referring to the fur industry? Movies? Exploitation? In fact, from a critical standpoint, what "business" has not been accused of exploitation?

I had a fur coat and have chosen not to wear it anymore but I do have a shearling jacket which is an animal product. It's the luxurious nature, the expense and criticism of the procurement methods that have made wearing fur unpopular.

NICE: Fur and Shearling is the best when it comes to minus 40 weather and don't forget the wind chill!

NO THANKS: To wearing fur in warm climates for "show" only.

NOTE-WORTHY: To those who are cognizant of the Indigenous people of Canada and other northern countries who trap wild animals with respect and a respect for the environment.

NEW: Actually not so much new but the idea of re-furbishing, re-designing and re-making old fur coats rather than buying new ones.

NECESSARY: Awareness of varying viewpoints with respect and tolerance for those who choose or choose not to wear fur.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Pre-Christmas Artisans' Show & Sale

Last Sunday I participated in a pre-Christmas Sale with three other jewellery makers, an artist and a paper origami crafter. It was held in the artist's studio and her pieces provided a most luxurious and beautiful backdrop for our wares. The jewellery makers' products were distinctly different from each other and so with options from varying styles, there was something for everyone.

By the time this picture was taken my display was fatigued from purchases made and products gone, and from two hours of trying on, holding up against and being moved around and about. But having the freedom to try things on, ask opinions and walk around with one designer's piece in hand while looking at others is what makes this by-invitation-only sale so special. 

Joanne (in the blue glasses) enjoying the show and sale with me.
Photo source:
My work tends to be big, bold, sometimes asymmetric and comprised of mixed media. I combine acrylic with wood and stone, crystals and natural stones, glass beads with metal and plastic, ceramic beads, yarn covered beads with crystals and stone nuggets . . . I buy many of those component parts when I live in France for part of the year and also repurpose vintage pieces. I stare at beads in the same colour tones, then contrasting colours and finally mix them with different metals. I assemble and take apart. Sometimes I just look at the "mess" of components and come up with "something". A sense of "knowing" comes over me when the piece is ready.

Many of the buyers come to jewellery sales such as this one because they are looking for something unique, for something that they won't find at the department stores. My philosophy is that since I am eliminating the vendor, I can pass on better value to my patrons. I can only make so many items and can only attend so many sales and so I suppose I could charge what the market can handle but cash flow is important and presently my goal is to sustain my habit of design and creating and progressively purchase better quality raw materials.

The following photos were taken by Elizabeth, who owns and creates in her studio at 2nd Avenue Lofts. 

Cosmic Fishnet 5 from a Series by Elizabeth Babyn.
Photo source:

Lorissa, Yvonne and MaryT, the other designers, at the the sale at Babyn's 2nd Avenue Studio.

Inspecting, trying on and deciding went on the entire afternoon. It was then necessary to get cards and boxes from Carolyn when gifts were purchased.


Such a nice way to shop!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Difficulty When Talking About Funerals

Most of us don't talk about funerals easily. About a month ago while I was visiting my mother-in-law, she told me that she would like to be buried in her beige suit that she wore to her granddaughter's wedding. It was easier to tell me than it was to tell her daughters I'm sure. I told her I would tell the girls. I have. And now that she is in palliative care and the time is close, I contemplate that her frail small frame will be overwhelmed in a suit that is probably three sizes too big on her. I suppose we will worry about that when the time comes. For some it may be easy to disregard wishes made by those who are deceased but for me, her wishes are important.

It seems trivial and I feel guilty when I begin thinking about what I should wear when I attend a funeral or memorial service yet when someone is close to you it is important to dress for them as a sign of respect. Whenever I wore a suit, my mother-in-law always complimented me and told me she liked suits on women. I'm going to wear a suit. She loved seeing her sons in suits and so of course, they will dress for their mom. And so it's not about you, when you decide on what to wear; it's all about the person you are honouring.

So is black the answer? Dark colours do seem to be the most acceptable particularly in European cultures but depending on your family ancestry and history, black may not be the choice. In my family, wearing black came with a set of rules depending on the relationship to you of the person who died. When my grandmother died, I was about eight and my aunt chastised my mother for allowing me to wear a red winter coat. As far as I remember, it was probably the only winter coat I had. I don't remember what my mother actually wore, but I do remember the black kerchiefs and scarves covering all the heads of the women in the church. For one year after the funeral, my mother wore black generally and she also wore a black armband on her coat or jacket to demonstrate that she was in mourning for her mother. After one of my brothers died, it was a very long time before she began wearing colour and it was only because, her other children began supplementing her wardrobe on birthdays and Christmas. In Canada, with so many different cultures living together there seems to be no need to be as demonstrative in mourning. In fact among my friends and family, if this custom ever was a consideration, it now has essentially disappeared. I wore beige to my eldest brother's memorial service in 2012.

Short of sleazy, I don't think it matters much what the mourners wear although we need to also be respectful of our surroundings. Like I said before, what we wear shows respect to the one we are honouring.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Question of Chic

Personal Style and Chic-Ness

So has the concept of chic changed so much that I don't recognize it anymore? Are my ideas of chic that outdated? I have to ask myself, exactly what makes up "chic"? But then, it is only chic in my mind.
Living in Paris was a crash course in chic. - Rebecca Romijn
Really? Each time I visit Paris I look for men and women exemplifying that Parisian "chic" but it seems fewer "on the street" possess it. Or perhaps my idea of "it" is a notion developed too long ago to be relevant today. I read other bloggers posts about how fabulous everyone in Paris looks, which leaves the impression that everyone on the street is perfectly turned out. 
It amuses me when I'm described as chic. - Vanessa Paradis
If you are in certain arrondisements/districts, you may still encounter that "chic-ness", which I submit is stereotypic when one talks of Parisian chic. I have been visiting Paris since 1992, if not twice a year, at least annually; and it appears that "chic" is fading. The young seem obsessed with "American" fads and those still sporting "chic" appear to be the rich or at least those who are buying at the luxury boutiques. On a particular Saturday at the end of October, I saw more "running" shoes than I ever have in Paris. Bien sur, it was the weekend and some were very unique but they were still running shoes. So it now is no longer just the tourists. 
Uggs can be as chic as heels for women. - Andre Leon Talley
 . . . I think that both France and Britain are known for their distinctive styles and everyone says that France is so chic and elegant but I think . . . French women are renowned for dressing in what suits them. - Alexa Chung
Can you still be chic in running shoes? I suppose, but now it is not the clothing or the shoes or the bag, it is the person, the posture, the demeanor, the self-awareness and the self-esteem. That in the end is chic, not the clothing anyone is wearing or the accessories anyone is sporting. Who's definition of chic are you aspiring to? Hopefully your response reflects your own sense of style, albeit influenced. And so I leave you now to contemplate your own sense of "chic"-ness with a few quotes on personal style . . .
My style is ghetto chic. I love tacky jewelry, mega heels, high waisted shorts, catsuits. - Jessie J 
My style icons would be people like Brigette Bardot and old Hollywood actresses who always look so stunning, cool and chic. I like classic and timeless looks. - Jessica Brown Findlay
I'm not chic, I could never be chic. - Sid Vicious
I admire anyone with their own sense of personal style. - Nicole Ritchie

Friday, 29 November 2013

Layering Necklaces or Layered Necklaces

Multiple Choices

A Closet Content Analysis: Layering or Layered Necklaces

I get really excited about jewelry.
- Jenna Fischer

You have read about stacking bracelets, bangles and cuffs but have you layered and stacked your necklaces? Do it because jewellery designers and craftspeople are deliberately designing layered necklaces this season.

For the spring of 2013 I designed several necklaces using the same green stone with similar elements for the purpose of layering. However as it turned out, no one bought three or four separate necklaces to layer, they were buying the single necklace design that looked like several necklaces but with only one clasp. Even though the look is heavy, many do not want that heaviness in reality and so I am incorporating a multi-media approach to some of the layered necklaces and also some creative placement. 

For the fall, longer layered necklace along with "chokers" are being made and manufactured by both crafters and high end designers. Some of what I hear when customers are commenting is that if there is too much surrounding the neck, some people have feelings similar to claustrophobia. I wonder if this is one of the reasons more cowl neck sweaters are sold than turtleneck sweaters, but that's another post. 

For the fall and winter 2013-14, pull out all your necklaces and start playing, mixing them up to create a look that will take you through the holiday season. You may surprise yourself with the look you can create with what you already have. The choker may be more difficult to recreate but that's one you can buy to add to your collection.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Winter Jackets and Coats 2013-14


NEED: Just in case you need a winter jacket or coat this winter, think oversized, slouchy and big as being shown by leading fashion designers.

MaxMara Oversized Coat. Photo Source: MillionLooks
On the left, former model turned editor and now global fashion director for Harper's Bazaar, Carine Roitfeld, is wearing one of Max Mara's 2013 oversized coats.

If you decide to go with this oversize look and you are not model tall and thin, it might be best to stick to a 3/4 length jacket instead of a coat. Keep accessories to a minimum - forget the bulky knit scarf or snood when wearing a jacket with that much bulk in the body and shoulders. You can balance the look with skinny pants and sleek knee-high leather boots - wearing chunky heels or grunge lace-ups just won't do it. As far as your bag goes, it too should be slim rather than bulky and forget a shoulder strap. It just won't go over the bulk and sit that well. Either carry a clutch or a stylized slim case with a short handle.

NICE: The Celine over-sized pink coat.

NOTE-WORTHY: Oversized, slouchy, and big are fine attributes when you have to layer bulky knit sweaters underneath. That's the kind of layering we are most used to; however, this year layering shorter jackets over coats is also being shown. 

Photo Source: Alturzarra
It was Joseph Altuzarra who featured a waist-length leather jacket over a slim fitting winter wool coat. Altuzarra is a Parisian born designer who launched his first independent collection in New York in 2008. His "top" coat layering was an interesting twist shown against the oversize jackets and coats shown by other designers. Perhaps . . . if I was 20 years younger.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Winter Accessory 4: Hats & Toques

Closet Content Analysis: Upgrade Basic Winter Outerwear 

Noteworthy Choices: Hats & Toques


I don't often wear a hat, knitted cap or toque in the winter since much of my outside excursions are between car and building therefore I can manage the coldness without a hat. But truthfully, it's the hair. I prefer not to wear a knitted hat particularly since between the flattening effect and the static electricity it's easier not to wear one. I have no idea if the fact that the majority of body heat is lost through the head is true or not. When I'm out for a lengthy time, walking, cross-country skiing or at a sporting event, a toque is necessary but for the most part I abstain. 

Photo Source: Makings of Shanna Tice on Etsy
The closest I get to a head covering is a snood, which I find more adaptable to the weather. I found this snood on Makings of Shanna Tice on Etsy and I prefer the way the "hood" falls into a cowl neckline. It's an efficient piece since you can pull it up when you need or leave it as a scarf encircling your neck. She has other snoods and scarves (on her Etsy display) with the designers' touch of large wooden buttons. The snood is pulled up from the back, therefore there is less disruption to the hair.

Photo Source: Hair on the Brain
NICE: Apparently the secret to wearing a knitted hat is to place it on the head from the back and up, not from the front. You must leave a fringe of hair to frame your face, not pull it all under the hat. It then allegedly just pulls off from the back as well without too much muss or fuss. If you want to see and read more about how to wear a winter knitted hat visit hair on the brain, a blog written by Valerie and dedicated to hair products.

NOTE-WORTHY & NICE: Matching was discussed in the previous post about gloves and mittens. The photograph from hair on the brain is a perfect example of inexact matching. The cable knitted hat is a different texture but the same colour as one of the colours in the scarf. I find this type of complementary combining much more chic than the exact matching of similar knitted items in exact colour matches.

NEED: I probably need a knitted hat but I won't be out shopping for one until the season is over and I can get it on sale. That is unless I see one that I absolutely must have immediately. It's on my list.

NECESSARY: For walking, cross-country skiing and other wintersports and sporting events, the fleece toque or ski mask is necessary. Depending upon how cold it is, I prefer a fleece headband. Just don't get goofy with them - ears and noses on hats are for pre-schoolers.

Photo Source: Winter Syle
NO THANKS: My least favourite winter hats are those with pom poms and strings - too much like my childhood. I chose not to wear them when I was eight and I still prefer not to. The only reason this one looks attractive is because of the model and not the hat.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Winter Accessory 3: Mittens & Gloves

Closet Content Analysis: Upgrade Basic Winter Outerwear 

Necessary Choices: Mittens & Gloves


To match or not to match is the question. There are those who love the matched sets - snood and mittens, scarf and gloves, toques and mittens in the same colour, colour combinations and knits. I don't usually buy matched sets of these items and prefer to wear leather gloves although they are not the best choice for really cold weather. My favourite "matched set" is my Burberry check scarf (see the previous post) with red leather gloves - black and tan are nice too. 

NICE: If you need to protect your hands from the moderate cold, or you simply want to look fashionable, whatever the motivation, leather gloves fill the requirements. Leather gloves can be expensive and very expensive but if you care for them and don't lose them then your investment comes back tenfold. Consider a cost per wear on gloves that some of us have to wear everyday over a six month period - at the worst of times.

The nicest gloves I ever owned were purchased in Italy - cashmere lined, longer than wrist length but shorter than elbow length, red in colour and the most fashionable gloves I have ever put on my hands. Unfortunately I have no idea where they are - I don't know if I lost them or simply packed them away when I left for my 6 month stint in Europe and now cannot find them. I always have a black pair in every pocket and never seem to lose my black gloves.

NEED TO FIND or BUY: These gloves provide me with the criteria when searching for a new pair. They may have been "gauntlet" length which is about 11 inches but I thought they were a little longer than that. Of course, I never thought to measure them when I bought them. The best way to describe the length would be to compare them to rubber gloves that are sold for household use - longer for dipping hands into sinks of water.

NECESSARY: If it's frigid, mittens are a better choice. The warmth of your body is a greater insulator than the fabric encircling your fingers and so mittens "outwarm" gloves. My favourite mittens are either angora or mohair - I love fuzzy yarn for mittens. My husband once bought me a pair of blue and grey angora mittens at the farmers' market but I don't know where those are either. Although I have never owned a pair, the warmest are apparently "felted" wool mittens. They cost more because the mittens are knitted to be gigantic and then they are washed in hot water, shrinking the wool and thereby "felted".

NOTEWORTHY: If it's fashion not frigidity that you are trying to master unlined leather gloves are less expensive and mold to your hand in a way that lined gloves do not.

Photo Source: Leather Gloves Online
NEED: This is not so much "need" as desire - a pair of gloves in each and every colour - now that's a collection I wouldn't mind beginning.

NEED to Know when Buying Gloves: Snug is best. Leather stretches and if the glove has room to spare and long in the fingers when purchased they will become sloppy after a short period of pulling on and off and wearing. At the same time I write that, I am thinking about a friend whose personal preference is to have more room in the fingers for what he calls "insulation value". 

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Winter Accessory 2: the Scarf

Closet Content Analysis:

Upgrade Basic Winter Outerwear

NECESSARY Choice: the Scarf

NECESSITY: When the wind is howling, it finds its way under, down, and through you. A scarf simply crossed over at the neck makes a world of difference and when the thermometer goes below minus 10, a scarf at the neck is even more important. 

Burberry Scarf Look Alike
Photo: JoyD
Burberry Check Company Trademark
NICE: For me, make that a soft merino wool, cashmere or a wool/cashmere/silk blend. I can't explain to you honestly or scientifically that the natural yarn is warmer than acrylic but I do prefer the natural fibres. My favourite scarf is cashmere, basically a copy of the "Burberry check" which was developed in the 1920s and originally used as lining in the luxury brand's trench coats. I bought my scarf in Scotland at a shop selling cashmere items but it is not the official Burberry brand - a knock off I guess.

Regional tartan of Canada: 
Cornwall's National Tartan (England)
These two particular tartans, one from Canada, and the other from England are similar to the Burberry check.

Photo Source: The Knatty Knitter
NO THANKS: My scarf needs to be lightweight, smooth and wrappable, not bulky. And so I say "no thanks" to a long thick bulky knit scarf but in fact, it all depends on the proportion of the bulk. So although quite beautiful, as this one posted on The Knatty Knitter, I prefer a less bulky yarn. I do love the colour and a pair of bulky knit mittens in that colour would be perfect with my Burberry look alike scarf. But that's the next post . . . 

NOTE-WORTHY: Although I say "no thanks" to a bulky knit scarf, I don't mind the bulky knit snood. It must be the wrapping process and what to do with the two ends of the scarf that add extra bulk that befuddle me.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Winter Accessory 1: the Snood

Closet Content Analysis:

Upgrade Basic Winter Outerwear

NICE Choice: the Snood

The next few posts will be dedicated to frigid winters (with apologies to those who do not experience the winters that this Canadian writer does). Since it is uneconomical to buy a new coat/jacket/parka every winter, the best strategy is to accessorize. 

I'll start with my favourite winter accessory: the snood - think scarf joined at the ends to form a circle, which is pulled over the head, in the most simplistic short version or if a little longer, to go twice around.

The more elaborate styles incorporate enough fabric for a "hood" that is pulled up from the back and then falls into a beautiful cowl neckline. I have seen them in faux and real fur, knitted or in woolen fabrics. Visit for some beautiful hand-knitted snoods.

Photo Source: Swakdesigns
Photo Source: Swakdesigns

Photo Source: Burberry snood from The Telegraph
Burberry has shown the snood perennially for men and women in both solid colour cable knit and the classic Burberry plaid. This photograph is from 2009 however as stated they are a perennial winter fashion statement. Men and women are both comfortable wearing snoods and there's just something about the way they crumple into a cowl around the neck that makes for a chic look.

Photo Source: Brorablog
When choosing a snood, you need to consider proportion relative to the coat or jacket, style (long, short, simple, "hooded"), function ("hooded" or not) and of course, colour. I have accessorized my basic grey, brown and black coats and jackets with red but the baby blue as seen on the Brorablog is quite lovely and much more subtle than the red I chose.

You can do exactly what this photograph demonstrates and that is to pick one of the more subtle colours in a tweed or plaid and match your winter accessories to it.