Thursday, 30 May 2013

Shoes for Traveling Europe

Closet Content Analysis: Comfortable Shoes

Choices: What do you usually wear? 


Shoes are one of the clothing items that identify North American men and women in Europe.

Tourist sneakers behind Italian men's shoes at the Spanish Steps in Rome.
Photo by JoyD.

Geox loafers: metallic and beige. Photo by: JoyD
Nice: S.K., Canadian lawyer who spent some time in the south of France, suggests a pair of comfortable yet "fashionable" shoes to wear day-to-day when exploring. 

My (JoyD's) preference here is a pair of muted metallic Geox loafers with a sand upper band.  I quite like metallic against a tan in the summer, no matter how conservative the shoe is. These loafers have been relegated to garden wear now but they comfortably took me to France, Italy, Spain, & Germany. I wore them with knee-length shorts, trousers and my favourite denim pencil skirt. They were more comfortable than any of my ballet flats and I could manage long days of walking in them.

Black Geox Loafers. Photo by JoyD.
Since them, I have gone through a black patent Geox pair as well. They too were comfortable and did allow me a bit of fashionable leeway in the style department rather than my New Balance running shoes.

MellyO's Traveling Boots. Photo by JoyD
Boots are another NICE addition to shoes and sandals. MellyO from Winnipeg brought two pairs of footwear while traveling Great Britain, France and Spain in April and May of 2013 - a pair of boots and a pair of sandals. Unfortunately because of the weather, she had to wear them more than she wore her sandals. Boots are definitely a NICE spring traveling choice.

Think about buying shoes while in Spain. The Spanish love shoes and the variety and range of prices in Spain will fit any budget.

NO THANKS S.K.'s experience with running or hiking shoes has been a general NO THANKS - unless you are wearing them to actually run or hike, or want to look like a tourist! 

This French woman from Lyons, in the photo, who was hiking in the Pyrénées with her family would only wear the shorts, tank top and running shoes while walking/hiking in a country setting. Trust me, other than this environment, you would not see her dressed in this way. We have known each other for twenty years and this is the only time I have seen her dressed in shorts and a tank top, other than when she was in Canada at a lake setting. Yet we see North American tourists (of all ages) in European cities dressed exactly in the same way. 

In the photo to the left, what do you see? French walking/hiking club or North American tourists? The answer: a French walking club - the walking sticks give it away but change the environment to a city street without the walking sticks and it could very well be a North American tour group in Europe. 

If you are hiking in the Pyrénées - NECESSARY; sightseeing in Rome, Paris, Lyons, Bordeaux or Barcelona - NO THANKS!

The locals know we're tourists, let them at least think that we are well-dressed tourists. When Cathy, a friend from France, was visiting Canada, she spied a shop called the "Running Room" and wanted to see what they had in store. After trying on a pair or two of "running shoes" she exclaimed that maybe she would wear them while in Canada, but she would never wear them in France. So unless you are actually involved in the sport of running or hiking in the woods or mountainside, do not consider them for your walking tours in the city. As well, add "flip flops" in the cities to the NO THANKS list. Bring them along or plan to buy them if you end up at the beach.

Other posts on this blog regarding traveling:
Traveling Europe: Clothing Observations

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Traveling Europe: Clothing Observations in France, Italy & Spain

Closet Content Analysis: Comfortable in your own Clothes

Choices: What do you usually wear? 


Keeping in mind your own comfort level should be the foundation for packing your suitcase for trips anywhere any time. It is, of course, good to know certain tendencies - such as, cities require more stylish apparel than the countryside, and that is a general rule, no matter where in the world you are. Determine how much time you will be spending in cities, at resorts, or beaches and in the countryside and pack accordingly.

Canadian lawyer S.K. lived in the south of France, while her husband attended to techno-medical research. During her stay, she noted and concluded that generally, "The women dress a lot better than we do in North America!" That is a refrain that many of us have heard as we travel through Europe. Here are some general guidelines that may help you get through France, Spain and Italy this summer.

Spain: In the spring, when North Americans are in shorts and flip flops in their cities, the Spanish are dressed in layers and remain covered up. It is not summer after all. The Spanish are extremely stylish so if you are visiting the cities, do it up. On hot Spanish summer days, choose dresses over shorts. Skirts and tops will give you a range of flexibility as you dress the skirts up or down. Short shorts and skimpy tops will bring unwanted stares and comments. Reserve shorts and such to the beaches and resorts. City tours may take you to cathedrals and the Spanish are conservative so keep modesty in mind while dressing for cathedral and museum sight-seeing. Take a peak at this pinterest site for helpful hints of what to wear in Spain.

NO THANKS Tops: Canadian food writer, Amy was in Italy last summer and her advice for the steamy summer heat, is silk tank tops; however do keep in mind her experience. Amy packed several solid colour silk tank tops. She wrote, "I thought they were perfect because: a) they wash and dry quickly; b) they would mix and match with all my bottoms; c) they can be dressy or not; d) they take up very little room. Bad move. The solid colour turns dark when damp, er, sweaty. Dark patches under arms and down my back. Now, I still pack silk tank tops, but in patterned fabric, which doesn't show the perspiration."

Italy: Basically, follow the same advice for Italy as Spain. France, Spain and Italy are all stylish but there are differences. In my observation, Italians appear to wear brighter colours and higher heels than even the Spanish. I don't seem to remember many "blue" jeans generally but certainly skinny jeans in all colours and stilettos to match. 

In Italy you will see older women wearing black from head to toe since much of this traditional style is based on mourning family members. When you reach a certain status/older age, there are more deaths in the family, hence more obligation to wear black. I am not aware of the same observance in France; but perhaps this is the same in Spain. 

The LBD in Paris at lunch in September, 2012.
Photo by the waiter serving JoyD.
France: The French are stylish in a more reserved way. Remember I am making generalizations - mais oui, but of course, there are exceptions and style factions. For an understanding of the French sense of style peruse the blog, A Woman's Paris. Again, think city vrs. country. Jeans are fine everywhere except if you are doing it up; then a little black dress will fill any of those requirements. Black and white, so popular in 2013, is also a style staple colour combination for summer. Careful when colour blocking bright colours; in France, you could end up feeling "clownish".

Then there are shoes, but I'll save that for the next post.

Nice for France: A black blazer can be a better alternative than a cardigan when traveling France in the summer. You can wear it to a  market on a cool day and put it over the little black dress in the evening. If you dare to take a pair of white jeans (usually a NO THANKS travel item) then it would look terrific with a colourful silk tank top.

Amy has created a new category for this blog, NECESSARY!

NECESSARY: Amy added that, "A MUST for me, and this is not really a garment, but I do wear it: my money belt. I don't leave home without it. Little silk tank tops come in handy as a layer between my skin and the money belt (with another loose top overtop)."

That loose top could be a "button-down" shirt that can be  taken off in the summer sun or slipped on when visiting a cathedral.

JoyD Travel Reminder: Keep the most important documents closest to you and with you at all times. Even though my husband and I live in France for 6 months, we are in the habit of taking our passports with us even when we go to the market. We are foreigners after all, and this is the document NECESSARY to have with you at all times.

One more NECESSARY . . .

Burberry vintage all weather coat on a cool spring day in Turkey.
Photo by JoyD's husband
Spring NECESSARY: Gortex or water-resistant three-quarter length jacket/coat. Last year and 2013 have been particularly rainy springs in France.

Other posts on this blog regarding traveling:
What to Wear When Flying for 2 Days
Packing for a Two Week Visit in Europe
Business & Tourist Travel Wardrobes

Next blog post: Shoes for Travel to Europe

Friday, 17 May 2013

For the Love of Reva & Eddie

Closet Content Analysis: "Brand" Flats 

Choices: Tory Burch Ballet Flats
Photo Source: Tory Burch website

It was in 2005 that Tory Burch launched and then in 2006 that she added shoes for the first time as part of her fall collection. (Retrieved on April 23, 2013 from It was in that year that the Reva flat was born. It has become one of her best-sellers. (Retrieved April 23, 2013 from But there are more Tory Burch ballet flats than just the Revas. Interestingly enough, the other preferred Tory Burch flat are called, Eddies - a male name, no less.

Since I only have one pair of ballet flats, brand name Espace, I am certainly not "qualified" to write this post. In keeping with the Reva/Eddie (female/male), I have asked Brian Davis and Joelle Aidan to help by offering their NICE, NOTE-WORTHY, NO THANKS, NEED and NEW for this post. And so I am pleased to introduce a Calgarian woman and her TB flats to a Calgarian man and his TB flats. 

Photo Source: Brian Davis
Brian Davis Nice: Ask any women what they think of when they hear "Tory Burch flats"? Undoubtedly they will say the Tory Burch Reva.  The ones with the big gold or silver medallion on the toe.  These classic black leather Reva flats with the shiny medallion were "must have" flats for me.  I have two pairs of them, one with the gold medallion and one with the silver. I don't think I could pick a favourite between the two pairs. The gold ones were bought in person at the Tory Burch boutique and the silver one were bought at Holt Renfrew.  Even with some discomfort and foot pain breaking them in they are my NICE flats.

Joelle Aidan Nice: I own 2 pairs of Revas – the classic black leather with a gold “T” emblem and a pair of light purple suede, again with a gold “T” emblem. I first saw the purple suede when on vacation in San Francisco and failed to follow “the rule” of "see it, like it, buy it" because I thought we would be returning to that part of downtown and never did on that trip. As luck would have it, about a month later my husband and I were on a 4 day weekend getaway with another couple in Portland, Oregon and I saw the suede pair at the Nordstrom’s store. I took that as a sign of fate (or shoe gods) intervening and thought it completely prudent to purchase not only the purple suede pair but the black pair as well.  My rationale was that the suede pair could be “indoor” shoes (living in western Canada the weather it not always conducive to wearing suede shoes outdoors) and the black pair would be the practical, everyday running around shoes.

Photo Source: Brian Davis
BD No Thanks: It's hard to believe that the very first of Tory Burch flats are my NO THANKS flats. They are black patent and although I love the look of the black patent, they have never moulded to my foot like my other Reva flats; therefore they are not very comfortable. I do still love them since they bring back great memories. This was the first time I ever entered a high end boutique to buy flats for myself and it was a great experience.

JA No Thanks: I can't say that I have a NO THANKS. However, as much as I love my Revas, I have to say that they were not the most comfortable the first time I wore them. The “shoe test drive” was when we were hosting a dinner party and I had the ability to change them as the night wore on. The Revas became definitely more comfortable at about the third wearing.  

Photo Source: Brian Davis
BD Note-Worthy: All of my 14 pairs of Tory Burch flats have  some NOTE-WORTHY component to them. I was having a hard time deciding, then I had an idea. I let the public pick - the pair that received the most positive attention and comments on my Flicker account would be my most NOTE-WORTHY pair. I'm pleased to present my violet/purple Tory Burch Eddies. These look like black patent until the right light hits the. Then the deep rich purple patent leather reveals it's magical colour. They were bought at at half price during the "friends and family" sale.

Photo Source: JoyD.

JA Note-Worthy: In terms of the whole ballet flat shoe category, I have to say that I prefer the Tory Burch Eddie ballet flat to the Reva. As well, the absence of a decal does make it somewhat more discreet.

BD Need: After buying five pairs of Tory Burch Reva flats I started to branch out and try other Tory Burch styles.  The Eddie flats took over as my favourites but my next "must have" pair of Tory flats are the Tory Burch Revas in the colour blue Nile.  I've seen these in person and the blue leather is so rich and soft.  And of course the gold medallion adds the "pop" look to them.

Photo Source: Tory Burch website
JA Need: Tory Burch does have a couple of styles that are embellished and I think these would be more than appropriate over the holiday season to wear either as the host or the guest – when it is winter outside you can be assured that the shoes have not been worn outdoors. My shoe edit is that you can never have too many shoes, so if I were to expand my collection, it would include a pewter/silver pair of Reva’s, the classic Reva with a silver decal,

BD New: This is always an exciting category. For me NEW is the result of NEED or impulse buying. Most people will agree that sometimes when you aren't looking for anything in particular you find the best things. You may not NEED it but have to have it - impulse buying. My latest NEW pair of flats came from my NEED list.  Last Spring Tory Burch introduced the Water Snakeskin Eddies in a colour called ultramarine blue. A dark navy blue with the water snakeskin pattern. I wanted them but never got them. When I finally decided to get a pair they were sold out. They became my NEED pair of flats. They were so high on my NEED list I even asked my contact sales girl at the Tory Burch boutique in Arizona to watch for a pair for me. I still remember getting her email telling me they had them but in a slightly lighter colour blue called ocean breeze and what size should she put on hold till I could come to Arizona to try them on. Just recently they went from NEED to NEW.  These are my new ocean breeze Tory Burch Eddie flats. It doesn't matter how the NEW ones get to you it's just great when they get there.

JA New: Unfortunately my newest are not TB flats. 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. They are the most beautiful shade of pale green - if you can imagine, muted Kelly green. 

JoyD's "shoe sales" summary: Even though we live in an electronic purchasing world where we can buy anything we want whenever we want and often at discounted prices, we still crave service. Although Brian obviously loves the product, he adores the friendly service from the "amazing" sales associates at the Tory Burch boutiques. As one of the best male Tory Burch customers, Brian concludes that although he really loves the product,  it is the sales person who finalizes the sale in the customer's decision-making process. "I love friendly service and I'm sure this is why most guys are afraid to buy flats for themselves.  If they received the service I do they wouldn't think twice about buying trying them and buy them in a store."

Saturday, 11 May 2013

What to Wear to the Saturday Morning Market

Closet Content Analysis: Casual Yet Stylish

Choices: layered cool weather options 

What to wear to the market on a cool, about to be rainy and probably windy Saturday morning?

It was cool, but not windy and not yet raining, when we left the house in Port Ste. Foy and headed across the bridge to the market at Ste. Foy La Grande in Gironde. I was told it is one of the top 100 markets in France. I imagine one of the factors that makes it so is the large number of British tourists and retirees. There are still several empty vendor spaces,  but those are probably the seasonal vendors who have bric-a-brac for the tourist season or they are the ones who have taken advantage of the "bridge" days for the French civic holiday that fell on May 8th.

The weather was such that people did not know what to wear. There were those in shorts and flip flops and others in down-filled jackets and boots. I chose skinny jeans, my black Anne Fontaine shirt, a black blazer and black patent "oxford-style" tie-ups. My "everyday" small silver hoops and a silver and black bangle were my jewellery choices but I lamented that I didn't have a scarf. I took a black all-weather NorthFace jacket and umbrella, just in case it rained.

As we meandered through the streets and picked up our favourites - six grain bread from the man across from the vendor selling ladies underwear, cornue des andes tomatoes from the woman near the "bar du sport" and white asparagus from the vendor next to the fish monger - the clouds were rolling in. We made it to the bar du sport, for a coffee, just before it began raining and it continued so that I needed my jacket and the umbrella to walk back across the bridge and home.

NEED: Scarves. Women of all ages wear scarves and they wear them with panache. I need to buy some scarves.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Working Uniformly

Closet Content Analysis: Uniforms for Work

Choices: Not much choice but the fit is important

Uniformed employees can either look polished or like they're wearing someone else's clothes, which I suppose they are. The idea of wearing a "monkey suit", a derogatory name my generation used for the uniform, was not in keeping with the notion of individuality. However, whether a work situation or a sport event, uniforms identify the wearer to the world and so the world knows what one is representing or for what one is responsible.

Flight attendants have the look of "business smart", which is necessary for their position. With the exception of police officers and other "power" uniforms, not all uniformed employees look polished and smart. Short of "scrubs" in a hospital or "overalls", uniforms need to fit. And the reason uniformed employees may not look so put together is more often because of the fit of the uniform than the uniform itself. 

On my recent trip to Europe, an Air Canada employee at Pierre Elliot Trudeau airport in Montreal looked as if her pants were three sizes too big for her. They were cinched at the waist and her vest covered the bulging excess fabric. It appeared as if she had lost a lot of weight but hadn't had time to get a new uniform; although the vest did fit her well. Obviously there were no trousers in the cache that fit her.

Servers in restaurants will often wear black and white which should look good on everyone. Here we go again - it is the fit that counts and not necessarily the "uniform" itself. If you are wearing your own clothes, of course, they should fit properly. Restaurants will often allow "individuality" in jewellery; however even that may be mandated. Some chain restaurants will tell servers and hosts/hostesses how they must accessorize - some say they may wear silver jewellery but not gold, or gold jewellery but not silver. It is to be uniform after all.

There was a time when health care professionals had to wear a specific uniform. Now, particularly in places such as personal care homes and "old age" homes, employees are encouraged to wear "regular" clothing to make the residents feel "at home". It is true, I suppose, but visitors and residents themselves may become confused. When visiting my mother one time, a resident asked me to do something. I responded by telling her that I was not an employee, that I was visiting my mother. Well . . . the commotion that set about at that time was embarrassing for all concerned. In the big picture though, I am sure it is a better idea than having starched whites. 

I have never had to wear a uniform; although one might argue that the "business suit" is a uniform of sorts. All I can conclude is: make sure the "monkey suit" fits!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

What to Wear When Flying for 2 Days

Closet Content Analysis: Casual Airborne Clothing

Choices: Comfortable Casual or Business Casual


The choice for lengthy flights or in transit periods over 24 hours, needs to be somewhere between comfortable casual and business casual.

NICE for Flying Functionality: My clothing choices for air travel on May 2nd and 3rd, 2013 was a white v-neck t-shirt, black linen drawstring pants, boots (just because they were easier to wear than pack), a black cardigan and two jackets, a leather jacket under a 3/4 length trench (again, easier to pile on top of each other, wear and carry rather than pack).

Photo taken by JoyD of her carry-on - a purple Lug bag
NO THANKS for FLYING FORBEARANCE: My carry-ons are two Lug bags, a smaller black one that is carrying my medication and diabetic supplies for 6 months and a larger purple one, with shoes, a handbag, a journal and Paris restaurant guide, and a change of clothing and underwear, along with basics in skincare and make-up. I always leave room at the top so that it is "squishable" in order to fit in the size frames for carry-ons in the airports. It is always a good idea to err on the side of smaller; although I did not do that at all this time. I usually don't have a problem but I always worry about it when I am traveling overseas. There are differences between airlines and even regional differences within the same airline. I may have to check in the purple Lug when we leave Air Canada and take the Air France connector.

NOTE-WORTHY: I have only one relatively small check-in piece (in a trio of medium, large and extra large, it would be a medium to large size). In it are my must have skinny pants and complimentary tops, with which I will probably return to Canada. Six of the eight pairs of shoes will be left in France. I'll return to Canada in my boots and bring back two pairs of my favourite heels. I will leave enough in France so that I can accommodate a few items after shopping in Paris.

NO THANKS for FOREVER FLYING: While in the Montreal Pierre Elliot Trudeau airport, I told a woman that she looked fabulous but I can't imagine wearing what she was wearing for long flights. This would be a definite NICE for short business jaunts but a NO THANKS for trips that require up to 48 hours in transit. She was wearing a waist-length pale green leather jacket with a pencil skirt that had mottled-not-quite-tweed horizontal variegated stripes in navy, beige and the same green as her jacket, and the look was completed with navy pumps. She was pulling a red patent "boxy" bag. She was of a particular age and she looked streamlined and gorgeous. She said that I had made her day because she had just looked in the mirror and was annoyed with her wrinkles, further exasperated by airplane dryness. I told her that dressing well distracted from the wrinkles; we laughed.

When I see people who obviously made an effort to look good, I can't help but tell them. Usually they are taken aback but most often they go on to tell me that I made his or her day. 

I may have to re-think what I am wearing for these long hauls.

One and one-half hours until boarding for the overnight trip to Paris, I probably have time to write another post.