Monday, 13 July 2015

Sub-Categories of Comfortable Casual

Closet Content Analysis: What kind of comfortable casual?

Choices: Fitness to Business

This business of categorization is a work in progress. Over the next while, I'll be refining, adapting, substituting, combining and rearranging the organization of these categories, but here's the beginning of my attempt at creating the Comfortable Casual sub-categories. 

If you are a Comfortable Casual dresser, which one of the labels suits your closet?  

Photo Source: Aliexpress
Finess Casual: It started innocently enough, you didn't change after going to the gym one day and now you don't bother dressing differently for most of your social or even work activities. You probably don't have any pants other than the yoga variety except for a couple of pairs of blue jeans. Your mother or mother-in-law wants to say to you, "Cropped leggings are not pants". All the tops you own have been purchased in a sports running store or for your more formal outfits at Lululemon. If you do buy any clothing in a regular clothing store, you mix and match within the category of "Athleisure", a term used in Europe, to describe a mix of fitness and regular clothes. Even when you have to buy a dress or skirt you opt for various weights of "sweatshirt" fabric or something synthetic that washes up and doesn't need ironing.

For the guys: Muscle shirts and baggy sports shorts, those that belong primarily in the gym, have become your summer choices. "Sweats" make up your winter wardrobe. You have a couple of pairs of Dockers, for dress-up, and of course, jeans.

Photo Source: MailOnline
Sport (Team) Casual: If Rihanna is doing it . . . Your look includes hooded sweatshirts, brand-insignia t-shirts, and university gift shop sweatpants but when you want to get dressed up, you wear blue jeans. For the most part everything is oversized in the "tops" category of clothing. The shoulder seams hang halfway down your arm. You've stopped buying t-shirts in the women's department and are buying men's large even though you're probably a women's medium. You probably have also collected oversize workout wear, sports gear and jerseys from ex-boyfriends or male family members who were all tall and broad and you are trim and under 5' 3". Colour choices range in those of your favourite sports team or university town. Green and orange are not always the most becoming colours. And you truly believe those little football or baseball bat earrings are adorable.

For the guys: The only t-shirts you own, other than your favourite sports team jerseys, are promotional t-shirts primarily from beer companies.

Fitness Chic/Active Chic/Sporty Chic: You don't work out, for the most part, but you buy high end Stella McCartney for Adidas articles that will never see the gym. You wear these clothes to the office as well since most things you own are more upscale than fitness casual. This category reminds me of a poster I saw that read, "none of my yoga pants have ever been to yoga". When the trend dictates, spangles, sequins and embroidery embellishes what would be ordinary workout wear. You have a variety of "gym-style" shoes that never get worn out because you don't actually run or workout in them. You wear North Face proudly and well you should even though the only side of a mountain you have ever seen is from your hotel window.

For the guys: You don't golf, but you can compete with the pros when it comes to your perfectly poised golf attire. In the summer it's shorts and golf shirts, in the winter its long pants and golf shirts.

Photo Source: WhoWhatWear
Business Casual: You don't dress much differently for work or play but everything fits perfectly. Cotton, silk and linen are your choices. You cringe at anything polyester. Put a blazer on with your jeans and t-shirt and you are "dressed up" for the evening. Put a blazer on with a pair of pants and a t-shirt and you can go to work without feeling underdressed. The blazer, unstructured or fitted, is your go-to item of clothing and keeps you within bounds when the occasion is a tad more upscale or lets you remove it when everyone else is in shorts and t-shirts. The choice of footwear is what takes your outfits to the next level.

For the guys: A t-shirt with a suit or blue jeans, a t-shirt and a blazer is the basic formula for business casual. It's always a crew neck or v-neck t-shirt. Everything fits impeccably.

Casual Chic: Even though there isn't a blazer in your closet, you always look good in the well fitted casual clothing you have collected. Everything fits well in the shoulders and on the hips but most of your clothes are built to hang loosely over the body. Ellen Tracy represents most of what you choose to wear. 

Here's the problem with the all inclusive category of Comfortable Casual generally - it allows us to get sloppy and that's when it just isn't comfortable. It's all about the fit, no matter what kind of casual you are. 

Check out what I have written before on this topic:
Comfortable Casual or Business Attire
Summer Office Wear - What is Too Casual?
What is "Comfortable Casual"?
Knee-Length Shorts at Work and Play
Defining Casual Clothing
What Kind of Comfortable?

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

London Bombing Miss

On the morning of Thursday, 7 July 2005, four male Islamists separately detonated three bombs in quick succession aboard London Underground trains across the city and later, a fourth on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square. Fifty-two civilians were killed and over 700 more were injured . . . wikipedia

What a difference two hours made ten years ago. My husband and I arrived at Heathrow, on the overnight flight from Canada, and proceeded through London on our way to Wales on the morning of July 7th, 2005. We were in the underground on the Piccadilly line between Kings Cross and Russel Square, one of the three bombing locations, prior to the 8:50 A.M. detonations. 

I had wanted to stay at the airport and shower, have breakfast and take my time getting to Wales. My husband, on the other hand, wanted to get to Bridgend before lunch and he insisted we go directly to the trains and make our way through London. We did. Two hours later we were in Wales and heard about the bombings. The details about the one at Russel Square were particularly poignant for us.

The images we saw on television that evening while we sat with our friend Pat in her home in Bridgend were surreal. "We were there," we kept repeating to ourselves as if somehow we needed to affirm that we were safe and alive.

I can only shrug and affirm that "my number" was not yet up. 

Read more on History.

Sandals - the Gladiator Style - Masculine or Feminine?

Closet Content Analysis: Sandals

Choices: Gladiator Battles

Isabeli Fontana. Photo Source: Patrick Demarchelier, Vogue, September, 2008.
What varieties of footwear are referred to as "gladiator"? For me, it is a simple sandal that essentially laces or buckles up the leg to the knee. That describes the ones that gods, goddesses and gladiators wear in the movies or the likes of Isabeli Fontana wear for fashion shoots.

Vogue writer Laird Borrelli-Persson outlined a short history of the gladiator sandal in her 2015 spring trend piece

My question is: Is the "caged" sandal that reaches the ankle and stops there, also referred to as gladiator? "Google images" confirms that all sandals, whether ending at the ankle or knee are known as "gladiator" sandals.

BrianD relates what happened in 2007 when he saw a post online about gladiator sandals. 

Photo Source: Brian Davis
"Oddly enough it was from a guy and he was sharing pictures of his Nine West Jobilyn gladiator sandals . . . I'm sure it's no surprise to you that I started seeking a pair for myself. The funny thing is I went to the same Nine West store where I bought my first pair of Nine West flats and it was the same sales girl that sold me this pair of gladiator sandals. Unlike regular sandals, gladiator sandals have that "caged" feeling because they are buckled up around your ankles . . . I was soooo excited when I bought those Nine West Jobilyn gladiator sandals.  They were really "in fashion" for women. Although they were pretty feminine they still had a unisex feel to them. I guess you could say I was happy how they looked on me.  The double buckle strap ensured they didn't slip off my feet (and) . . . gave them a nice look but was somewhat difficult to buckle and unbuckle . . . A lot of years had passed between getting my first pair of Glads and my first pair of Tory sandals . . . I didn't buy another pair of women's sandals till April last year. YUP, you guessed it, my Tory Burch Millers . . . Now that I am a complete Tory diehard customer I'd have to say I like my Tory sandals better than my Nine West gladiators. First, the soles are rubber or rubber like material and they have great traction and they are very thin and therefore don't look so "clunky" like most men's sandals. They are easy to slip on and off. I have the TB Millers in lots of fun colours. And lastly they have the iconic Tory logo over the top of your foot. So while the gladiators look more masculine or unisex, it is the TB Miller (or any TB sandals) that I now prefer.

Photo by Brian Davis
 When Brian wrote, "I didn't buy another pair of women's sandals till April last year", I have always thought the gladiator sandals were gender-less. I tended to avoid them because they look too bulky to be worn on my feet. As Brian has shared, he likes the thinner sole on women's shoes. Men's sandals do not need to have a heavy sole for most purposes either so the Nine West Jobilyn gladiator sandals look as "uni-sex" as any shoe I have ever studied and as far as gladiators go, these are a winner. Similar to Brian, I do prefer the TB Miller's insofar as sandals go.

Over the past year or two I have taken photos of sandals and shoes at the markets I have visited here in the south-west. This collage demonstrates a smattering of gladiators and you can decide who wins or loses the battle. They are definitely unisex since we cannot discern which are female or male feet and that is the biggest plus for the gladiator sandal.

Photos by JoyD. This collage was made using

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Dressing for the Weather

Closet Content Analysis: Weather Appropriate

Choices: Hot Weather Nice

My French friends and neighbours always ask me what I wear when it is minus 40 on the Canadian prairies. My husband and I have gotten into this odd routine of returning to Canada in the winter. I first attempt to deflate the amount of time it is actually minus 40 and then describe our outerwear and the concept of layering. First, they just don't have the minus-double-digit type of outerwear that we do in Canada. However, the tables have turned as we move into a week of plus 38 here in the South-West of France. What do you wear when it's plus 40?

Our neighbours, Danielle and Abel came over to gift us with some wine from a "fete" we were unable to attend. Of course, we invited them in for "apero". I then told her that we would be staying inside because of the heat. I attempted, in my limited French to explain that when it is minus 40 in Canada we stay warm as we hide in our house and when it is plus 40 in the south-west of France we stay cool as we hide in our house. Some things truly are universal.

We can layer and dress appropriately for the weather in a cold climate but what in fact do you wear when it is this hot? The first thing to do is analyze what is worn in climates that experience this type of heat on a consistent basis . . .

Fibre Content: linen, cotton, silk - never ever polyesters. Think of wrapping yourself in plastic - this does not need explanation.

Design and Structure: Loose fitting, draping rather than clinging to the body, draw-string (no elastic waist bands or heavy zippers), protection from the sun's rays - meaning long pants and long sleeves; believe it or not.

Colour: white, beige, pale blues or other pale colours

Accessories: Hats, sandal style footwear.

The tendency in western countries is to put on a polyester bathing suit and sit in the sun or water whereupon sunburn and heat stroke take their toll. Yes, I understand the breeze across the water might add a bit of coolness but if you are dashing in and out of the water and sitting in the hot sun to dry off, the only thing you accomplish is burning your skin because of the reflection off the water.

Nice: This is my absolute favourite hot weather outfit.

Linen Pants and Top Purchased in Sorrento.
Photo by JoyD.
I bought this linen top and pants in Sorrento, Italy. It's a loose-weave fabric with shell buttons and the pants have a draw-string. I have had it for years and it has weathered many trips to Europe. When it finally wears out, I will have another made exactly like it. Of all the clothes I own, this outfit has served me well in plus 30 heat.

Hot Weather Favourites. This collage created by JoyD with