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.