Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Black is a Canvas

One Choice: Black

Closet Content Analysis: An Eternal LBD


Jessica Quirk wrote in a post on her blog, What I Wore, "I am a firm believer that nothing is the new black. Black is the only black . . . " I agree with her 100%. To call any colour the "new black" is wishful thinking at most, particularly when colours like orange or lime green are professed to be this "new black". Black is the perpetual "basic". So to say that orange is the "new black" is ludicrous. Everyone can wear black; not everyone can wear orange or lime green or would want to.

Black is a canvas, a base - with a solid base, you can put anything on it.
- JoyD Gulas

Insofar as basics go, I have tried to move toward navy and camel in the summer or pastels and grey or khaki and brown but I always return to a combination of black, white and beige accessorized with the colour of the day. This comfortable, easy combination got me through traveling between continents at any time of the year, summer weddings in Canada and abroad, and just day to day living in Canada and in France.

Photo by JoyD.

Black is a canvas, a base - with a solid base, 
you can put anything on it.
- JoyD Gulas
Note-Worthy: I can only guessimate how old this LBD is. It was the one item I kept when I was too big to wear anything in my closet. I have been wearing it again for three years now, add that to the three years it sat in my closet and the two or more I had it before then, the dress has to be at least 8 to 10 years old. I still feel good in it and sheath styles similar are still being sold. It also acts as a measure when it is becoming a tad tight . . . of course, you know what has to be done then.

I have had other LBDs but this one has been eternal and I don't have any intentions of buying a new one.

Here are the ways I have worn this LBD:

1. For work - with a blazer style jacket, from floral to plaids including melanges of colour and solids.

2. For evening and more formal events - with a statement necklace or stacked bracelets and cuffs and the highest heels I can manage.

3. For casual lunches, brunches or other events - with a cardigan, scarf, black tights and flats, ballet or oxford style.

As you see, my LBD is a canvas and I create as need arises . . . 

I have written about my LBD in previous posts . . . here they are:

How does black function in your closet, or rather on your body?

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Sport Influencing Fashion . . . or Not

With the "Tour de France", Maubourguet Pays du Val d'Adour to Bergerac (Stage 19) on Friday, July 25th and Stage 20, moving from Bergerac to Périgueux on Saturday, July 26th, (Bergerac is just 18 km away from where I live and the course to Périgueux is 54 km), there are two factions of spectators represented by my neighbours: those who want to be right there for the twenty-second (?) ride-by, or the Bergerac finish or the start-up; and then those who will be watching it on television.

Photo Source: Voler
Those on the highways and biways with their bikes at any other time are acknowledged as serious cyclists by the clothing they are wearing. In France, cycling apparel is professional and brand loyal from the top of your aero-cycling-helmet-clad head to your carbon-pro-race-cycling shoes. Teams and clubs are identifiable by their colours as in any other sport. Sport apparel seldom, if ever, crosses over to street wear in France. If you do see someone wearing sport specific clothing on the street, without actually participating in the sport, then it's probably a tourist.

It may not be what the cyclists are wearing that influences fashion around the Tour de France but rather what the fashionable are wearing when involved with the Tour de France. Kate Middleton chose green to start the wheels rolling on July 5th, 2014 . . . and you can find loads of sites featuring the Duchess of Cambridge wearing her "Allie" coat from Erdem's pre-fall 2013 collection. Erdem Moralioglu is the designer and the name behind the mark established in 2005 (retrieved July 23, 2014). She wore the same Erdem coat in April, 2014 while on tour in New Zealand. There's a reassuring quality in the "wear it once" world of fashion when Kate Middleton chooses to wear the same coat to two separate public events.

Be that as it may . . . back to the Tour de France . . . as with many sporting events, I think I'll choose to watch it on TV, as I have been, no matter how close it comes to me.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

2014 Style Resolution #2 Fulfilled

Planned Choices

Closet Content Analysis: Big vrs. Small


It is July and I decided to check out the style resolutions that I made back in January for 2014. Resolution #2 was a significant change since I have carried an oversized bag for most of my career as well as in my social life. You see, even when I'm not carrying my work with me, I'm diabetic and I always have what I need and more to accommodate any situation. The 2014 resolution read: "Carry a smaller bag. . . . Holts (Holt Renfrew) suggests this orange cross body Rebecca Minkoff bag. I probably won't do a rusty orange but this particular bag comes in a variety of colours in addition to the basics." (from 2014 Style Resolutions) I did in fact buy a Rebecca Minkoff bag.

Photo Source: JoyD
New: I happened to be in Calgary in April and found a Rebecca Minkoff bag, in off-white with a black trim, that would take me through the summer. However, now that I have my smaller sized cross body bag, I find that I seldom carry it. Of course, the problem is - it's too small. I suppose I partially fulfilled Resolution #2. 

Did you make any 2014 style resolutions and did you fulfill them?

Saturday, 12 July 2014

The Perfect Match

Matching Choices

Closet Content Analysis: Shades and Tones are Important

NECESSARY               NEED                  NOTE-WORTHY               NEW

How do French men and women find the perfect match? 

I have been thinking about this for a good while, with intentions to write about the "matching factor" in French clothing armoires. A variety of incidences occurred around these thoughts; one of which inspired this post. Deborah, a woman I met in France in 1997, came from Bordeaux for a visit. She changed for dinner and then decided not to wear her jacket. When I asked why, she informed me that the turquoise of her jacket was a different tone than the turquoise of her shoes and that it just wouldn't do. I rationalized that she could still wear the jacket since her feet will be under the table for most of the night and the lights will be lower than the pure radiance of daylight. She wasn't convinced - she would know that they didn't match and that would bother her during the meal. Hmmm? She wore the shoes but decided that her little black dress would be better teamed with a black sweater rather than the mismatched tones of turquoises between the blazer and shoes. Obviously the French have a very specific protocol when it comes to matching. And although Deborah is from the United States, she married French and has lived here long enough to be "French clothing conscious".

NECESSARY: There must be a perfect match between jacket and shoes or pants and shoes or shoes and top or whatever items you choose to match. Yet you would never match everything. The choice of what is to be matched is based on balance and understated planning.

Once again I ask the question: how is it that the French find the perfect colour match in shoes to the pants they are wearing or the perfect shade of colour in the jacket with the perfect tone of colour in the shoe? It seems to me to be simply a stroke of luck. Apparently different shades in the same tone are allowed but different tones of the same colour are not. And all of this still must appear effortless (sigh).

Photo Source: JoyD, July, 2014, France
NEED:  Something new for me is a red pair of pants. I didn't spend very much on them because they were definitely an "out of character" purchase. Now that I am in France, I need to find a pair of shoes to match the red of the pants. If the colour is off, you just can't wear them together. Recall the rules of shades and tones or was it tones and shades (another deep sigh)? So in order to do this, do I have to take my red pants with me whenever I go shopping just in case? I'll answer my own question . . . it appears so . . . In the meantime I shall wear a black t-shirt and blazer and team up a pair of black shoes or sandals. Black is easy to match.

Photo Source: Zenka, France, July, 2014
NOTE-WORTHY:  Anthony, my optician at Optique Martin in France, told me about one of his clients who has a pair of Zenka frames (the ones I ordered and told you about in my last post), which feature a variety of coloured and decorative clips. Apparently when she buys a new scarf she comes in to buy a new pair of matching clips. I can't remember how many he said she has but I do recall that it's in the 20 or 30 range. Even Zenka marketing is geared toward the "match". 

July, 2014

NOTE-WORTHY 2: The idea begins young . . .

Photo Source: Brian Davis, Calgary.

NEW: For someone like me, who tries intentionally not to match, this is very new!

In the meantime I'll be either carrying around my red pants or wearing them every time I go shopping.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Frames for Glasses 2014

Everyday Choices

Closet Content Analysis: Spending More for Daily Wear

NICE                  NOTE-WORTHY               NEED

Photo by JoyD from a previous post on glasses.
NICE: I am still wearing my J.F.Rey (made in France) red frames that are about five years old; but not for long. I have always been rather conservative about my glasses and since the cost of my lenses are astronomical, around 600 Euro or 900 Canadian, I think I need to be. Since being introduced to the Parasite frames in 2012, I have dreamt of splurging on a pair. 

Photo Source: Zenka, July, 2014.
The day came. I went to the opticien, Optique Martin on Rue République in Ste. Foy La Grande in the Gironde, picked out my frames and then was introduced to another brand. Zenka are also made in France and allow me to add colour "clips" to change the look of the frames so that my glasses become an accessory rather than a functional medical requirement. So now what do I do? The Parasite nags the artistic, almost eccentric, side of me; while the Zenka are basic and practical with the option of being artistic and eccentric. Zenka may win out . . . 24 hours later, I was back to see Anthony at Optique Martin to order the Zenka frames, in a tan base, with two clips, a white "netted" openwork style and a thin black outline. A blue clip will be my next choice; however there are acid green, fuschia, violet, red, grey and a variety of blue and turquoise tones to contend with. Oh . . . la . la . la la . . . 

NOTE-WORTHY:  Interesting tax consideration in France. Whereas in other European countries, the 20% VAT is only on the frames with a lesser tax amount on the lenses, wouldn't you know it, in France it's 20% on both frames and lenses. So what's a Canadian girl to do but ask if she can get a tax back form? Anthony was very accommodating and so my frames and lenses will come to me at 20% less (but not without a customs check and official stamps at the airport when I leave in December). Wah-ooo!

You will have to check back in a week or so for an update to this post, when I have photos taken of my new Zenka frames. In the meantime you can visit the Zenka site to see what they have to offer.

NEED: I still need a pair of Parasite frames; perhaps next year as sunglasses . . . 

Friday, 4 July 2014


Functional Choices

Closet Content Analysis: Spending More for Less

NECESSARY              NICE           NO THANKS          NEED

I have spent a few dollars on hats and I have also spent a great deal more; yet the ones I have spent the most on, I have worn least and the ones I have spent the least on, I have worn most. 

Two Hats. Photo taken by JoyD, Port Ste. Foy, France, 2014
NECESSARY: I have two hats in France. Neither cost more than 10 Euros and both are functional for sunny days when I forget to wear sunscreen. 

I purchased the white hat in 2010 in Bergerac and the wide-brimmed hat at the market in 2013 in Duras, Gironde, France. The wide brimmed hat was purchased on a very hot Monday in July out of necessity since we were going to be out for the whole day. One "hat" vendor had some beautiful Italian made hats starting at 40 Euro. I was not in the frame of mind to spend that amount on a hat that was to function as sunscreen and that I may never wear again. I'm glad I didn't. As I walked away, my husband lingered and the price for the next woman was 25 Euro. Needless to say, I was a tad annoyed and so there was no way I was going to buy from that particular vendor. I can't say that the shopper after me was younger or beautiful; but I can say that she was French and I'm a foreigner. My French language skills are not good enough to start a discussion about the vendor's tactics and then to try to continue to the barter stage. I found another vendor selling hats - very obviously the quality was poorer but at 10 Euros I was willing to give her the full asking price even though the hat was made in China and made of 100% paper. I know these hats and they can be purchased for anywhere from 75 cents to $1.50 (American dollars) but you have to do a wholesale order for at least 100. So no matter what this vendor paid for them, selling them for 10 Euros probably results in a better profit margin than the first vendor who was selling Italian made hats. Although that too is debatable. I read an article about a Chinese company named, you guessed it . . . "Made in Italy". Needless to say the Italians are livid and are attempting to stop this type of fraudulent marketing from happening. But I digress . . .

For the most part, I am spontaneous when it comes to buying hats, especially those summery "straw" hats. However, I have planned hat purchases, particularly for special occasions. 

NO THANKS: The last time I bought a hat for a special occasion was when I was invited to a winter wedding in France and that was in 2007. That hat is in a hatbox in Canada and has not seen the light of day since the wedding.

Photograph provided by Melanie, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 2013.
NICE: I don't know if this was a planned hat purchase but it certainly will serve the wearer well. I am pleased to post this photo of my niece who purchased this lovely summer hat made by a Canadian designer out of Montreal at the Haberdashery in Winnipeg. 

NEED: I could use a hat like that . . .