Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Resolutions for Fitness & Fashion


I like New Year's resolutions. They allow me to asses what is working in my life and what I could do well enough to dispense with. But I don't only make resolutions on New Year's Day. If you have visited this blog before you know that I have made a Buy Nothing Day resolution on what we know here as Black Friday, that post American Thanksgiving Day sale, which it seems the entire world is now adopting. That one is going well and my only transgression was buying some Salt Spring Island goat cheese for a salad I was making for a dinner party on one Saturday out of four so far. Not bad. Since New Year's often brings wishes of prosperity, I shall retain this resolution and attempt to maintain it for 2015.

Walking with my husband in France. Photo by JoyD.
Yet another resolution that many make is one to do with fitness. This one is evident by the number of gym memberships purchased the first week in January. I start out relatively well and then I move to France and lose complete control of my fitness schedule. Being in France for six months is not an excuse at all but somehow my routine there doesn't include fitness in the same way. I walk, maybe stroll is a better word; but there is no gym membership, and I certainly don't walk enough to make a difference. I now carry four extra kilos that proves my point. Of course, you know where I am going with this . . . 

A fit healthy body - that is the best fashion statement. 
- Jess C. Scott

That statement along with, "nothing tastes as good as losing 5 kilos feels" will complement my fitness goals in 2015.

It takes me a good week to think through and commit to any New Year's resolutions. I wish you well with yours and you might consider commenting, resolving, and coming back to this post to remind yourself of any you might make for this year.

Wishing you happiness, prosperity and fulfilment of your goals in 2015.

Friday, 26 December 2014

It Just Doesn't Stop . . .

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, Pre-Holiday Sales, Boxing Day, Boxing Week Reductions, Post-Holiday Sales . . . it just doesn't stop . . . what is the "real" price of anything?

I never really paid attention to the inundation of targeted sales propaganda but now with my Buy Nothing Day resolution I seem more aware of all these commercial entities telling me that they are offering me the best prices ever. My electronic devices deliver "buy something" messages constantly: Monday - spend $25.00, get 10% off; Tuesday - buy 4, get one free; Wednesday - buy 3 get 3 free (the lowest priced 3 that is); Thursday - if I spend any amount I get a free gift; Friday - buy 1 and get a something or buy 2 and get something bigger; Saturday and Sunday - up to 65% off but only this weekend; and if you didn't take advantage of the sales last week, you can this week with 50% off selected items in the store and so the weeks rotate with some such variety of shallow promises enticing me to buy, buy, buy.

Reclaim control of your consumer life, of your wants and needs. Buy what you need and do not be fooled into the false satisfaction that you got something for nothing. 

I have written about buying less before. Check your closets and your pantry before you buy another thing!

Monday, 22 December 2014

A Gift to One's Self

Part of the Stash. Photo by JoyD.
A former jewellery maker and client called me last week and asked if I had anything left in my pre-Christmas inventory of jewellery. But of course - Bien sur! When I sell, I am motivated to create more and so I always have a stash. When she arrived I asked what she needed. "A gift for myself", she responded. 

The beauty of buying from an artisan like me is that you can say, I'd like that chain with this pendant or I would prefer a shorter/longer chain with larger/smaller links and so it goes. She chose the piece with the oversize silver heart that you see in the photo. Because she knows the production process, she asked that I replace the black links with a medium size silver chain link. My sense of balance was slightly nudged but the customer knows what he or she likes. She chose another large black enamel heart but only wanted the pendant and I was able to accommodate there as well. 

This year will not be as profitable as last when I had two major sales before Christmas. Arriving from France the first week in December this year created a void for me. The shows I usually participate in were over and the timing was such that I was unable to organize a gathering of my own. However I am still creating to round out my inventory; I have a commission; and I am planning a March sale. As well the former jewellery maker offered to host a show at her home in the new year.

I enjoy the home environment for shows since I can accommodate many different requests. I bring my tools and extra findings and am able to work as guests are browsing. As well guests have often brought old pieces that they have grown tired of and would like reworked and updated. I receive the most satisfaction from recreating something that has lain dormant in their closets, making it more wearable as a reconstructed piece.

"Junk" jewellery is a challenge. Many people have unwearable bric-a-brac that they pick up as souvenirs, especially when done so on the beach during a warm weather vacation. A woman in Edmonton once brought a bag of wooden souvenir baubles - those inexpensive wooden and shell trinkets that you kick yourself for buying when you get home but still accumulate on every vacation. I combined and recreated them into one statement necklace. She could identify pieces from her mother's Cuban vacation, her sister's gift from Mexico and her own purchases while in Spain along with other warm weather spots. Hers was the reaction I remember the most and from which I received the greatest satisfaction. She told me that she could not believe that the trinkets she was thinking about discarding (and feeling guilty doing so) were so beautiful and meaningful in the combined product. I never did take a photograph of that piece. Too bad.

Often, many pieces that people want reworked are family keepsakes. One woman handed me a green seed bead flower brooch that truly was questionable, insofar as spending the money to reconstruct. She sensed my hesitation and then explained, "I know it's kind of ugly but it has a special meaning to me". I added some metal leaf elements, mounted it asymmetrically on an oval metal disc, added a complementary chain and remade it into a necklace. She now claims that she feels more comfortable wearing it and it no longer languishes in a box under her bed.

Women hang on to the the strangest things - a single earring, a broken necklace, a tangled chain, unwearable, oddball, yet beautiful pieces that sit and wait to be thrown out but somehow never do. We keep them for their beauty and maybe more so, for the memories they evoke. Those were exactly the items I found in a box when going through my mother's estate. I dismantled the lot and reworked them as bracelets that I gave to the granddaughters and even one to a grandson. Now rather than being tossed, they can be worn to bring forth memories of the original owner and perhaps even become heirlooms in their own right.

So now you have an option - instead of discarding, have the pieces remade as a gift to yourself (or someone else) at any time of the year. 

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Buy Nothing Saturday #3

This is the third Saturday before Christmas where I promised to buy nothing and all is well. We invited friends for dinner so the day was spent preparing the table and preparing the food. When your mind is occupied with a definite goal, it is easier. As well, I decided to do without something I thought I must have for the dinner. I forgot to buy it yesterday and my husband, who was prepping the veggies and meat, offered to go and pick it up. I declined, saying it was not necessary. How many things do we go out and buy that are truly not necessary? At the very least, this Buy Nothing Day has made me stop and think, do I really need it?

I believe I can manage to maintain this and carry it over to the new year. However in France, I may have to change the day since Saturday is the weekly Ste. Foy La Grande market and much of our grocery shopping takes place there. I suppose I can make food exempt from my Buy Nothing Day because there are many things that tempt a person at the market and that would be a good exercise in self-control, so perhaps my resolution will be to Buy Only Food at the Saturday Market (when I am in France later in 2015). Yes, in fact, that would test my self-control when it comes to buying frivolously.

Those in France who are thinking of a Buy Nothing Day should not include Monday since most independently owned commercial enterprises are closed Monday anyway. Those kind of days do not exist in North America where some stores and malls are open 24/7. Amazing . . . that there are enough people buying to warrant being open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Incroyable!

Are you prepared to include a Buy Nothing Day commitment as part of your New Year's resolutions? Where in the world are you? Let me know.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Dressing Up During the Holiday Season

Nice for Women and Men

Holiday celebrations have been going on since the end of November in my life and each year it seems that they start earlier and continue longer. I said no to an invitation for a large event this year because it coincided with my return from France. Part of my jet lag condition is lethargy and the first couple of days include going to bed at 8:00 PM and rising at 5:00 AM. This schedule does nothing for holiday reverie! However, if I had had the stamina to attend, I would have chosen my little black dress. Besides the holiday season and New Year's, there will be other opportunities to get dressed up since the season extends into February and March with gala fundraisers, at least here in Canada.

Photo Source: Wendy's LookBook
Of course, you probably can predict what I am about to write - for women, the LBD is the best alternative for holiday dressing. The jewellery or scarves you choose will determine whether it is a casual or more formal look. Formal indicates to me long gowns and a bit more elegance than the LBD can provide but for now . . .

Casual LBDComplement your LBD with a pair of oversize hoop earrings or an asymmetrical choice with an armful of bangles and cuffs.

The Not-Quite-Formal LBDJust add bling. Choose a statement piece - earrings, necklace or bracelets, and then keep anything else you choose to add to the feature piece toned down. Nice is just one of the above. Say No Thanks to an overwhelming combination of blinged-out chandelier earrings, a statement necklace and an armload of bangles and bracelets. 

For men, the suit can be the answer to all your holiday needs in the same way the LBD is for women. You can make it casual or more formal as well.

Casual SuitWear a dark suit with a t-shirt so that you take the jacket off if for some reason you feel overdressed or wear the jacket with a pair of blue jeans and a t-shirt to show that you took a little effort to get dressed.

Photo Source: Bonobos
Formal SuitMany men wear dark business suits with a shirt and tie to formal functions; however there is the tuxedo as a truly formal alternative. Not many consider buying a tuxedo but now an American company has made that choice contemporary and real for a new generation. I've written about Bonobos before. Launched as an e-commerce business selling better fitting pants in 2007, it now is selling a full range of suits, including tuxedos, at Nordstrom's and in other select storefronts in the United States. Visit Bonobos here. This is not your father's suit or tuxedo. Even if you cannot order from them because of your location, it's a good site to visit to see contemporary North American styles in suits.

The question of being under- or over-dressed is a question for another post . . .

Monday, 15 December 2014

Buy Nothing Saturday #2

Accomplished without incident!

However what was a restriction in one part of my life became an over-indulgence in another. We were invited out for both lunch and dinner on Saturday, the 13th. The family gathering at lunch had me exerting more control than I have in a good while when it came to food. Then there was dinner where again I had to temper my appetite - I repeated the mantra - Nothing tastes as good as losing 10 pounds feels. You see I gained 8 pounds in 6 months while in France.

Psychologically I am setting myself up for failure. Apparently if one imposes too many restrictions upon oneself, it is easier to lapse into old habits. Buy Nothing Saturday is working for me now but I can see myself changing it to another day when I take on another teaching contract. My Black Friday resolution to have a weekly Buy Nothing Day will be easy to maintain I am sure!

My second resolution was to be more analytical with the contents of my closet and donate clothing whenever I want to buy something new. I can see this as being more difficult. In fact I was looking to buy something and changed my mind because I realized that I had not perused my closet nor did I make a decision of what I would put in the donation bin. As well the articles I was looking at did not comply with my third resolution. 

The third resolution was to not buy anything "Made in China" or other countries with questionable labour practices. This may be the most difficult! I need to look at this with a more analytical eye and take a survey of what percentage of the clothing that I look at is actually made offshore. Almost all I would bet! But that's another post.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Buy Nothing Saturdays During December

For those who might accuse me of being a "Scrooge" during the holiday season because of my Buy Nothing Saturdays proposal, in fact, I think I will be better prepared for the holiday season with Saturdays off from shopping.

December 6, 2014 was my first Buy Nothing Saturday in the month of December. What did I do, what was or was not accomplished and will I be able to maintain this through the month?

What did I do?

1. I had a long and leisurely breakfast. After all I had nowhere that I had to go or anyplace that I had to be.

2. I had gone grocery shopping on Friday and planned to make chicken soup from scratch. After breakfast I prepped the chicken and ingredients for the broth and let time and a slow simmer do its magic. By noon I had a delicious chicken vegetable soup that was not only healthy but also low fat.

3. I read.

4. I watched tv.

5. I read.

What was not accomplished?

I wanted to organize my winter closet. My plan was to take out items that needed mending, cleaning and put them in respective bins. I also wanted to pull out all clothing that might qualify for "holiday" dressing.

What were the consequences?

I revelled in the luxury of not having to be anywhere at any particular time. Surprisingly, I did not feel any pressure or sense of remorse that I did not get to "save" any money on the "only today" sales. With a more relaxed day, I now feel more organized for any holiday buying I need to do during the next couple of weeks.

Friday, 5 December 2014

A Weekly Buy Nothing Day

To commemorate my November 2014 "Black Friday" alternative to shopping, I decided to make non-buying resolutions. I need to add some detail to my promises. The first resolution I made was to . . . have a weekly Buy Nothing Day. But what day should that day be? When a person works, Friday, Saturday and Sunday tend to be the "shopping" days and therefore the most difficult days to assign as Buy Nothing Days. Insofar as Monday to Thursday, if you assign a Buy Nothing Day to a day that you usually buy nothing anyway, what's the point? 

Now the question arises, does food count? After all it is a necessity. But then if you say food is exempt, then it may be easier to rationalize restaurant meals. OK food is exempt from Buy Nothing Days but then how would restaurant meals be defined? As a luxury or as a necessity . . . you see, it does get difficult to determine what is necessity and what is not. If we define Buy Nothing, it means "buy nothing". So what part of "buy nothing" is there not to understand?

I guess Friday can't be my assigned day since we arrived back in Canada last night and have to replenish the fridge and food cupboards today and today happens to be Friday.

I am thinking that I should make Saturday my Buy Nothing Day. It would be difficult but it would also force me to do other things, like downsize my closets. OK, Saturday it is - at least for this week.

As soon as I finished writing that last paragraph, an email came in from a vendor telling me about a further 20% off all purchases (sales items included) tomorrow only. Sigh. I have a feeling this is going to be more difficult than I thought . . . I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

"Sale" Induced Over-Buying

There's something about hotel rooms that make me want to write. And so as I waited for a reasonable hour to go to sleep while at the Merignac/Bordeaux airport enroute to Canada, I began thinking about spending money on things I don't need - in this case clothing in particular.

With my "Buy Nothing Day" resolutions, my own unfortunate "sale" experiences, and while contemplating the "Black Friday" mentality, I came up with the notion of "sale induced over-buying". With discount retailers inundating the market, you would think that this would not be a problem. After all, on any day of the year, you are likely to find a "deal" albeit requiring some "shopping around". Perhaps the difference lies in the fact that on "Black Friday" the consumer believes that the best possible price is given no matter where one ends up shopping. Or is it the idea of "lost leaders", those items possibly marked below cost of production minimums that bring you to the store or website but once you are in, you end up buying many other items besides the lost leader? After all, the shopper can rationalize that since the lost leader cost almost nothing, he or she can afford to buy more. And that is how my thinking progressed and my idea of "sale-induced over-buying" began.

I then researched a smattering of both economic and psychological literature, where the following topics recurred: "buyers' remorse", the "paradox of choice", "addictive/compulsive buying behaviour" aka shopaholic along with some Marketing 101 terminology. I think there's a post in each of these.

My belief is that at the "over 50%" discount, consumers begin thinking, "at this price I should buy two or three or twenty", whether it be toilet paper or cashmere sweaters. A University of Southern California paper tells us that for regular mark-downs, "a large segment of the population . . . respond(s) to negligible discounts (as little as half of 1%)" and that the words "everyday low price" increases sales of the product exhibiting that sign. It may be the standard price for that particular store and it doesn't mean it has been marked down. So if consumers respond that significantly to insignificant reductions or no reduction at all, at what percentage will they overbuy? 

The way we think about retail pricing determines what we might overbuy at sale prices. If I am introduced to a product at a low price, it will be difficult for me to pay a higher price whereas if I only know a product at a high price, I won't mind paying it and anything lower will lead me to believe that I am getting a deal. This is what Introductory Marketing calls "internal reference prices" or the prices a consumer is willing to pay based on experience. Then comes the discount, which I suspect would have to be significant and range between 60% and 80% off before a rational person becomes irrational about the number of items he or she buys. As I write those numbers I have to remember that consumers also respond to negligible discounts of less than 1%. So the question still remains, what discount percentages provoke overbuying?

What should you do so that you do not become a victim of sale-induced over-buying?

Buy what you can use and not more . . .

1. Lost Leaders. Only buy the lost leader and only buy as many as you can use. If you want to give them as gifts, this is of course a good time to buy.

2. Never say, "this is such a good deal, I'm going to buy three (or however many) more". Buy what you can use. If you buy with storage in mind, consider the hoarding mentality, and ask yourself if it is really necessary.

3. Go to the storefront, auctions or online with a plan and stick to it. I have heard of those who go to auctions and get so caught up in the excitement of the moment that they come home with way more than what they originally set out to buy.

Or is it personality type that factors into overbuying? . . . a discounted price, a perceived need, a spendthrift mentality and there arises the circumstance to buy more than one really needs. I have never seen this idea clinically analyzed but maybe someone somewhere has already done this. Let me know if you have seen this literature or have done research of this kind. 

In the meantime, be careful about how many cashmere sweaters you buy!


Scherhorn, Gerhard. The addictive trait in buying behaviour. Journal of Consumer Policy, 1990. Retrieved November, 30, 2014 from

Bigne, Enrique, Ruiz, Carla, and Sanz, Silvia. The impact of internet user shopping patterns and demographics on consumer mobile buying behaviour. Journal of Electronic Commerce Research, 2005. Retrieved on November 30, 2014 from

Lars Perner, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Clinical Marketing. Department of Marketing, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California. Introduction to Marketing: Pricing. Retrieved on November 30, 2014 from

Sunday, 30 November 2014

It's Frigid on the Prairies - the 2014 Version

Four more days in France with plus mid-teen Celcius temperatures and sunny skies with a smattering of rain and then it's back to the congélateur - the freezer, as my Port Ste. Foy neighbour has nicknamed what I call "home". November, 2014 has been frigid on the Canadian prairies with below normal temperatures, and an early snowfall that has been supplemented with yet more snow. Both the northern US and Canada are receiving record snowfalls and city administrators are claiming that snow removal budgets are already becoming depleted. Sigh. But I see the long range forecast promises me a mild minus 8 on our return. 

For the moment, what type of coat or jacket to wear when it is . . . 

-20 or more Degrees Celcius

Nice: Something that . . . holds in and maintains body heat, wicks away perspiration and is naturally water resistant, can be fashionably designed, and lasts for decades.

Reversible Shearling for Frigid Temperatures. Photo by JoyD.
In my mind, if it is minus 20, shearling is a natural choice that can keep you comfortably warm. See my post from December, 2013. My shearling has to be at least 20 years old now and I still love it in frigid temperatures. I am fond of the boxiness, the choice given by its reversibility and the length; yet there are those who would criticize it saying it has no style. To me, its functionality overrides the "style" factor and in fact, its plain lines are what has made it stylish every winter for the past twenty. It is heavy but there is a comfort in that heaviness. Now it is showing signs of wear and therefore . . .

Helmut Lang Shearling Jacket. Photo Source: Stylebop

Need: I will have to break down and buy another but I have been looking, online and otherwise, for the past two winters. This Helmut Lang shearling has possibility, although the designer price is a tad much for me at the moment. It might be spring before I save enough sheckles to buy it and by then, I will rationalize my procrastination for another year.

Necessary A functional, safe and warm pair of winter boots . . . but that's another post. I'll wait until I am back in Canada for that one.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Buy Nothing Day - November 28, 2014


Buy Nothing Day is a Canadian-born day of protest and occurs the Friday following the US Thanksgiving holiday. Internationally it is acknowledged either on that day or on the Saturday following. It has been promoted by Adbusters magazine and I am happy to be observing the sentiment while in France. 

My tradition is to make economic resolutions in my spending life. My "Buy Nothing Day" resolutions for this year are:

1. To have a weekly "Buy Nothing Day".
2. To be more analytical with the contents of my closet and donate clothing whenever I want to buy something new.
3. To not buy anything "Made in China" or other countries with questionable labour practices.

I'll let you know how I've managed . . . 

and if you are interested, I have attempted to do this before (albeit less so) . . . 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

What to Wear While Drinking Gluehwein

. . . that which keeps you warm at +5 Degrees Celcius

I was in Austria and Germany last week, visiting the Christmas markets. Traditional Christmas wares are for sale but more important is the food and beverages that people relish while standing near the food kiosks in the market. After experiencing the Salzburg market in Austria and the Augsburg market in Germany, the German rendition appears to be the more festive, insofar as food and drink is concerned! In Salzburg on a Sunday afternoon, I had a "bosna", two skinny sausages on a bun with onions and hot spices. Mulled wine is not a favourite of mine so I didn't have any "gluehwein" - pronounced "glue-vine". In Augsburg, I decided to do a comparative taste test of the bosna - for my taste, the German rendition won. But I'm supposed to be writing about what was being worn while browsing and carousing at the KristKindlMarkt.

Relative to a Canadian point of view the temperatures were mild, around the plus 5 Celcius (about 41 Fahrenheit) range during the day. Whenever in a situation where there is a mix of tourists and locals, the clothing choices will range from chic to ordinary. 

So what were people wearing at the Christmas market in Salzburg? 

Nothing special - just what would keep you warm anywhere in the world where the temperature was 5 degrees Celcius.

Salzburg Christmas Market, Sunday, November 23, 2014. Photo by JoyD.

Salzburg Christmas Market, Sunday, November 23, 2014. Photo by JoyD.

Salzburg Christmas Market, Sunday, November 23, 2014. Photo by JoyD.

We went to the market in Augsburg the evening of Monday, November 24th for the opening ceremonies and it seemed that all of Augsburg turned out for it. In fact there was even a Japanese film crew recording the event. I have no photos from the this market, which confirms that I was having too good a time and forgot about taking photographs.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Team Sport Apparel - "Naive" Perhaps, but still Inappropriate

No Thanks

While in France, I try to keep current with what is happening in Canada and I am surprised and slightly shocked that a Junior hockey team has resurrected a former mascot for nostalgia sake it seems. See the story in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

What we wear is open for interpretation by whoever meets us, without knowing who we are and without knowing what our philosophies are. Mascots, since they are emblazoned on sports team clothing, represent the wearers in some way, even though it may be frivolous.

In this case, the team decision makers have associated a questionable mascot with success and popularity from their past. This character suggests a male of Middle Eastern heritage wielding a hockey stick associated with the Raiders team name. In the 90s, the team had replaced him with a pirate, but now the former mascot has been returned. In recent times, North American sport team mascots have become more neutral with those having names associated with aboriginal peoples changed so that no offence is taken by any particular person of native ancestry.

How important is a mascot to the community and to the players? Presently any one of the players on the Raiders team is only old enough to know the pirate logo from direct experience. The community has a significant percentage of First Nations and a new, albeit small percentage of Middle Eastern descent. Who were the decision makers? . . . my speculation suggests it was those who are 50+ and not members with an association to an ethnic minority.

I imagine that the number of fans who will choose to wear this logo on their chests have not analyzed it completely. They may rationalize by saying, "Get a life, it's just a mascot, it's just a sport." That may be, but you can't discount the perceptions of others. The numbers in the stands will represent to the world whether naive nostalgia is more important than presenting a positive image. 

Rightly or wrongly so . . . here are a few quotes that reflect clothing, personality and philosophy . . . in this case, it is more the mascot than the clothes . . .
A man cannot dress, but his ideas get cloath'd at the same time. (Laurence Sterne) 
What a strange power there is in clothing. (Isaac Bashevis Singer) 
Every uniform corrupts one's character. (Max Frisch) 
Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly. (Epictetus) 
Carelessness in dressing is moral suicide. (Honoré de Balzac) 
Clothes can suggest, persuade, connote, insinuate, or indeed lie, and apply subtle pressure while their wearer is speaking frankly and straightforwardly of other matters. (Anne Hollander)
Clothes are never a frivolity:  they always mean something. (James Laver)
But then again, perhaps it is not the wearer but the viewer who perceives. . . 
Any affectation whatsoever in dress implies, in my mind, a flaw in the understanding. (Philip Dormer Stanhope)
Choice, a difficult attribute, . . .
Be careless in your dress if you will, but keep a tidy soul. (Mark Twain)
(Quotes retrieved November 19, 2014 from Quote Garden.)

. . . and then maybe it's just a marketing ploy . . . even negative reaction plays into marketing statistics . . .

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Fashion Design Copies

I have often wondered how it is that designers can survive financially, considering all the copying that happens in their industry. In fact, it is because of the ability to copy that the fashion industry is as successful as it actually is. I only realized this after listening to Johanna Blakely's Ted Talk, Lessons from Fashion's Free Culture. It also gave me a new appreciation for designers who emblazon designer logos on their products. I have criticized logo-laden products in a previous post without knowing the point of view of the designer label. In a nutshell, designers have copyright protection for their logo but not for their designs. The basic reason for no design protection is that clothing is considered a necessary utilitarian commodity and therefore needs to be exempt from limitations so that manufacturers can produce clothing for the masses. After all, a shirt is a shirt and a pullover sweater is simply that.

Brian D in black patent Tory Burch Revas.
Johanna Blakely made me appreciate two things. First, I now understand why it is that designers strategically place their logos on their products. I have a new appreciation for Tory Burch's Reva flats and I take back any criticism I have ever made about overtly placed designer logos. The second is that it is the freedom to copy which drives those who create and ultimately make money.

Toward the end of the TedTalk, she illustrates the monetary statistics of those industries who are bound by copyright and those who are not.

Yet I appreciate the concept of copyright, particularly in the business of writing and particularly when my authorship is acknowledged.  

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Seasonal Confusion

Irises blooming in November. Photo by JoyD.
It is November and I am accustomed to the snow and minus temperatures beginning about now and lasting well into April when I am in Canada. Being in the South-West of France for the month of November with temperatures in the mid-teens during the day, I am confused. And so are irises in my garden. I found two blooming near the composted soil in the back region of my garden in Port Ste. Foy on November 10th. It is not only the irises. My husband was pruning the lilac today (he was in shorts) and he found a few buds bursting with colour.

Choosing what to wear is a tad difficult since I do not have many transitional clothes here. I see people in boots and fur-trimmed hooded jackets, but to me, it is not nearly cold enough for that. As far as I am concerned, perhaps January or February warrants that type of clothing but at present I am still wearing transitional fall clothing. In fact, generally speaking, so far, the afternoon temperatures are a mild 10 to 15 degrees Celcius - those temperatures do not invite scarves and boots, at least in my mind; therefore I am confused about what to wear and what is considered acceptable winter apparel.

I began wondering what would constitute a transitional winter closet when the weather is coolish but not freezing. These points could also help you pack your suitcase if you are planning a fall/winter trip to Europe.

1. Socks and closed in shoes (no sandals)! Even though Canadians might think the afternoon temperatures here in France are warm enough to wear sandals or flats with no socks, everyone I see is wearing socks and closed in shoes. Boots are very popular!

2. Lightweight merino wool sweaters replace cotton t-shirts. I find cotton too light and fleece too warm.

3. It's time to pack away the linen pants. Think lightweight wool for trousers as well. Heavier weight stretch skinny pants can almost be too hot right now but they would be great as the temperatures get colder.

4. A wool or cashmere cape, jacket or coat or a lined all-weather coat. All-weather coats, with a zip-in lining, may be the answer. I do know that my leather jacket is not warm enough, especially in the coolness of the mornings.

5. Scarves - as many as you can afford! 

And always, think of layering as you plan your winter closet or suitcase.

Monday, 10 November 2014

5 Winter 2014/15 Trends That Could Cost You Nothing

1. Unbalanced Earrings: Now you know what you can do with the single earring you kept after losing the other! The 2014 winter single big earring trend has morphed into two unrelated earrings for spring 2015. I still believe you need something that brings an element of similarity between the two and you can achieve it asymmetrically. As you scroll through the photos on the Harper's Bazaar post, you will see that several designers featured a related-ness albeit in an unbalanced fashion. I too have suggested the asymmetrical look back in a post about jewellery trends for the winter of 2014. In the photo on the previous post I specifically designed the asymmetrical "Keys to My Heart" earrings and in the photo on this post, I recreated one of the vintage clip earrings into a long dangle for a friend in Victoria, B.C. You can easily pull off this look with what you find in your stash of earrings, doubles or singles. 

Vintage earrings reworked by JoyD
to create an asymmetrical pair. Photo by JoyD.

2. Multiple Ring Trend: A ring on every finger or multiple rings on one finger can be a no cost trend this winter. Collect all that you have and then play at mixing and matching. If you have several rings in the same colour tone, all the better. Even the ones that no longer fit can be worn below the finger joint or on the thumb. I've never worn rings as a fashion accessory so therefore this one would cost me.

Photo Source: Vogue

3. Hair Trends: Clicking through the photos on the UK Glamour site hair appears to be pulled back and off the face, whether parted down the middle or sides or pulled straight back . . . the better to show off your asymmetrical earrings. Of course there are foreheads covered with swooped strands and messy tendrils front, side and back but the most of the looks are flat and slicked back.

4. Alpine/Nordic Sweaters: Sweaters are often "keepers" in our closets. Almost everyone I know in Canada has one of these sweaters packed away somewhere. We can't bear to get rid of them and luckily they can be considered classics or at the very least they come back as focused trends every few winters. Elle tells us that this is one of those winters. If you did donate yours to Goodwill, you just might have to buy another one and stash it (or wear regardless) in the off years.

5. Ponchos, Capes, Blanket Wraps, Shawls: Like the Nordic sweater, somewhere in your closet or closets you probably have something akin in this category. The Vogue "Under Wraps" post  illustrates a range of looks that you probably can mimic with something you already have, if not in your closet, perhaps on your couch.

Oversized Camel Cashmere Shawl.
Photo taken by ShirleyB while
in Bergerac, France.

(It is November 10th and this photo still reflects the weather in France. For my Canadian friends, I will be joining you soon in the snowy minus temperatures.)

The next time you peruse a fashion trend blog, think about . . ."In what ways can I adopt the look so that it costs me nothing?"

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Rings Enhanced

Closet Choices: Rings


NICE: Rings on all fingers is the tendance/trend for jewellery in 2015 and Djula Joaillerie, Paris does it well. Of course they design earrings, bracelets and necklaces but the beauty of decorating the hands and fingers is taken to innovative, sophisticated levels. Triple rings joined by delicate chains extending through the length of the finger or crossing horizontally from the index finger with a centre crown for the middle finger attached to the ring finger with black diamonds or covering the finger tips with thimble adaptations or gold flames rising upwards from the base of the fingers toward the back of the hand - all bring a whole new perspective to the word "ring".

Djula 2014 Ad Campaign. Photo Source:

NOTE-WORTHY 1: I remember seeing a ring for two fingers in a magazine in the fall of 2013. As with most trends, a teaser is sent out seasons before to determine what will fly and what doesn't.

NOTE-WORTHY 2: The designs to me are exquisite yet I probably will never own anything significant from Djula owing to the prices. There are small pieces that I could imagine indulging myself with but of course, the expensive pieces are what attract my eye.

NO THANKS: Although I love the look of hand chains, where the ring is attached to the bracelet with a chain crossing the back of the hand, it is a "no thanks" for me. I can't even give any good reasons why but I just wouldn't wear it. At the same time as I claim it to be a "no thanks", I adore the sunburst design of the hand chain in the Djula advertisement.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Remove those Security Tags

Situation #1: A young woman and her friends were shopping and upon leaving the store, the security alarm sounded - the subsequent interaction was embarrassing for all concerned. After many questions posed to her by the store manager, the answers to the following two questions revealed the problem: 
"Are you wearing anything that you bought recently?" Her look was blank at first followed by a red-faced positive response (she was wearing a new bra she had recently purchased at LaSenza in Canada). She was in another store at the time the alarm went off. "Did you remove the security tag from the article of clothing?" 
"What security tag?" she asked.
"There is a security tag sewn into a seam somewhere on something you are wearing and it must be removed because you may set off alarms as you did today."
Situation #2: My husband was wearing a new cashmere sweater and he visited the same shop wearing his sweater a day later. He set off the alarm. He was questioned but not searched and the security guard let him leave without too many questions since they recognized him from the day before. My husband related the experience and of course, I told him about the "bra" story. One happened in Canada; the other in France. Obviously there was no mention of security tags to either one of these people when they made their purchases.

Security Clothing Tag. Photo by JoyD.
Many people are setting off security alarms owing to the crime of not removing a security tag now being sewn into the seams of clothing. Of course the tag reads, "Please remove before wearing"; however, it is easy to not bother if you have never been in the habit of removing tags. You would think that these tags, when being de-magnetized as you are buying would stay de-magnetized. I don't know much about the intricacies of this technology but knowing human nature there will be many security alarms being set off until we become accustomed to removing these tags.

There are some sales personnel and clerks who are telling their customers about this and others of course who have not. Now you know!

So if you find yourself setting off security alarms when you go shopping, think about whether any article of clothing you are wearing and bought recently might have a security tag.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Fall Transition with a Shawl and a Blazer

Transitional Choices

Closet Content Analysis: a Shawl and a Blazer

NICE             NOTE-WORTHY

In Canada, the transition between seasons can be abrupt with shorts and sandal weather morphing into parka and boot weather without much warning. This year, however, the seasonal transition has been lovely with a great fall to ease us into winter and so it has also been here in France. It is the beginning of November and of course there is a crispness to the morning air but the sun shines and shirtsleeve choices can still be made. A denim jacket or a blazer is all I need for covering and if I stay in the sun for a bit, I am taking that off.

Camel shawl over
B&W print blazer
Photo by ShirleyB.
The two transitional clothing items for me in this moderate climate in the south-west of France are my:

NICE: Holt Renfrew cashmere shawl and . . .

NOTE-WORTHY: a blazer.

The shawl has served me well: on the plane, in an overly air-conditioned environment, on a cool summer evening, as a jacket in the fall and to cozy up indoors on a rainy or snowy winter night. The blazer functions in a variety of seasons: with a short-sleeve t-shirt on a coolish summer day or with a long-sleeve silk or cashmere top on a fall to winter day or with a crisp white shirt and wide leg linen pants or skinny jeans. The blazer immediately upgrades the look and the shawl gives an element of individuality.

My friend ShirleyB from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan took the photo as we were walking back to the car after having lunch at La Flambée in Bergerac.

Black and white floral blazer. Photo by JoyD.
Update (Nov.6, 2014): I received a couple of emails asking about the blazer. Here is a more detailed shot of the blazer I was wearing in the photo above. I was also wearing a wide leg linen pair of pants, a white v-neck t-shirt and a pair of black loafers.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Age Appropriate?

I don't like it when people say, "You're 45, so you should be wearing X and never Y". For me, dressing is about attitude, not age.
- Twiggy 

OK Twiggy, I'm over 45 and I do think that there are times that I should be "wearing X and never Y". I will agree that attitude plays a part but sometimes one's attitude can influence them to make inappropriate choices. As a teacher once told me, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should".

For the most part, people are kind and will not criticize what you have chosen to wear. But what about the times when you or maybe someone else wants to say something, but doubt arises for a variety of reasons and so nothing is said? My mother used to voice the saying, "When in doubt, don't!" 

Here are some of the things that others have suggested people at a particular age should not wear.

Closet Choice: NICE OR NO THANKS?

Your Choice . . .

When and with what do we stop?

1. Skinny jeans/pants. I'm still wearing mine and I love them. I know more women who are 45+ wearing them than not. I don't see a problem. Should I? They are becoming a classic, a basic in the closet.

2. Short shorts or short skirts. I've given them up but there are others who haven't. Is this unreasonable?

My Favourite Jimmy Choos. Photo by JoyD's husband.
3. Heels. I have a pair of Jimmy Choo's. I love them. I wear them and I will wear them as long as I can; yet there are those who say high heels should be given up when you reach a particular age. My feet are in good shape - no fallen arches, no bunions and I have decent legs. I won't give up my heels until my feet tell me to.

4. Denim. Now I think this is ridiculous but someone somewhere put doubt in my mind. Where did I hear that after a particular age one should not wear denim? To me, this one is not debatable. In fact, I began watching for denim and it appears that is is the fabric of choice amongst the 50+ age group. Does this mean they are all wrong? Mind, there are a few questionable choices made by some, but for the most part denim is worn well by all those I see on the street. This too is an evolution of what is considered a classic.

5. Cleavage revealing tops. What is too old for those women who have great skin and beautiful cleavage and the attitude to pull it off?

OK Twiggy, I will defer to you . . . attitude does seem to be the discerning factor.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Canadians Wore Red on Friday, October 24th, 2014

The tradition of showing support by wearing colours, to demonstrate that we are united in mourning is a universal action that gives some measure of strength to those left behind. And so it was on Friday, October 24th when Canadians chose to wear red to show their respect to the soldier who died as he stood guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Previously in the week another soldier, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, in Quebec was also killed. The assailants allegedly worked alone.

I am a Canadian in France and was touched by the expressions of sorrow that came from my French acquaintances, friends and neighbours. The butcher expressed his condolences to my husband and me, a neighbour came by to do the same . . . I was deeply touched. I felt the shock with the news release and, with being away, also felt helpless, almost isolated. It was the French who helped enhance my Canadian sentiments.

No matter where we are in the world, the lyrics in our national anthem, "we stand on guard for thee" were made even more poignant. Rest in Peace, Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent

Saturday, 25 October 2014

What would happen if . . .

I recall a creative thinking exercise at a workshop I attended many years ago. The question posed to us was, "What would happen if all the cars in the world were painted yellow?" The consequences ranged from outright revolution to personal individualization. My response was that individualization would take place by adopting accessories for the cars that would likely reflect the extreme, bizarre and eccentric depending upon the personality type of the car owner.

And so it is with fashion. I can imagine the same exercise being presented in design classes. We all wear clothing and if we were all mandated to wear black, you can imagine the accessories that would develop.

What would happen if everyone was mandated to wear black ?

Given that there would be variations with the clothes themselves but since all is black, accessories would become more important to illustrate one's individuality (think of Fred Butler designs.) . . .

the belt . . . belts would probably evolve much differently than what we see now. They might extend upward and downward in such a way that would not only embellish the torso but extend into decorative trains and wings.

Coral, silver & black statement necklace by JoyD.
Photo by JoyD.
the jewellery . . . fashion costume jewellery would abound and I suspect choices, such as the ones Iris Apfel makes, would be the norm. More facial (for example: nose rings, eyebrow decoration) and more elaborate and unconventional ear jewellery would also evolve.

the bag . . . purses would probably not be much different since their function is the same and does not necessarily have a direct impact on the clothing worn.

footwear . . . similar to bags, shoes would also not develop differently than they are now, except our choices would probably lean toward what would be considered more eccentric and most certainly there would be more colour. There is no shortage of bizarre footwear presently.

Photo Source: Parasite 
frames for eye-glasses . . . designs like Parasite would be the norm and glasses would be viewed in the same way jewellery is by everybody who needed to wear corrective lenses. 

Photo Source: Just Posh Masks

In fact, decorative eye masks (See Just Posh Masks) would probably develop for special occasions.

hats and hair accessories . . . once again creative extensions of what exists today but bolder and bigger.

gloves . . . the long and short of it; obviously more colourful and certainly more decorative.

Chica Blue Shawl handmade by C. Murphy.
Photo by JoyD. 
the scarf, shawls, capes . . . colourful combinations would predominate with large and larger sizes coupled with ingenious ways of tying them.

tattoos . . . definitely more people would have tattoos that would be larger, more colourful and probably in more conspicuous places.

I have never taught in a design school but I'm thinking that this exercise would elicit curious and creative results.

I just may use an adaptation of this exercise for my own design purposes: what would happen if . . .