Packing fail?

LogoWe’re home from Vancouver and I just unpacked a dress, two pairs of capris, a pair of cropped pants, and four tops that never came out of the suitcase during the sixteen days that we were away from home! Considering how much time we spend living out of a suitcase, that definitely felt like a packing failure, but was it?

Why did it happen? Spring and fall are easily the most difficult times of year to pack efficiently for in this part of the world. Weather can vary widely and one needs to be prepared for almost any eventuality. It was 30ºC (86ºF) when I was packing. but I knew it wouldn’t be that hot in Vancouver. I packed for a variety of weather conditions, but I definitely wasn’t prepared for the month that Vancouverites are referring to as Junuary! I expected cool days, but also some warmer ones, but day after day it was cool and damp with temperatures in the mid teens. I only wore my sandals and the third pair of capris in the suitcase once. Thankfully, the day that we played tourist was the nicest one of our stay.

Two of the tops were definitely a packing fail. I actually considered wearing them, but in spite of careful folding, they came out of the suitcase looking creased and crumpled. When I shop for clothing, packability is one of the factors that I consider, but these two were hand-me-downs from my sister-in-law. I hadn’t traveled with them before and I learned that I’ll be able take them with me in the trailer where I can hang them up, but not when I’m traveling with a suitcase.

So how did I manage when my choices of what to wear were severely limited? Three factors saved the day:

  1. The morning we left home was a cool one prompting me to add one more pair of jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt to the suitcase at the last moment. I was very thankful for those two extra pieces!
  2. The majority of what I packed was neutral in colour allowing me to mix and match, creating a variety of different looks with a limited number of pieces.
  3. I packed plenty of layering pieces including two camis for added warmth under lightweight tops, a jean jacket, a lightweight cardigan, and my cabi waterfront shirt from several seasons ago.

Regardless of season or destination, the latter two are always keys to successful packing. So, while this wasn’t the best packing job I’ve ever done, it wasn’t a total fail!

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Introducing Knix… realism in advertising

LogoWhen my children were small, I told them that Mommy didn’t have a belly button! I was that self conscious about my stomach which was marred by stretch marks and a surgical scar. Now older, and I hope somewhat wiser, I realize that these aren’t ugly. They’re simply emblems of life and survival.

I was beyond impressed when I saw this ad on Facebook recently.

Knixwear ad

I was intrigued by a company that would choose to use real women with “imperfect” bodies as models and wanted to know more. After checking out the Knixwear website and discovering Canadian designed products at affordable prices, I reached out to Knixwear and learned more about the company.

Following a successful crowd-funding campaign, CEO and founder Joanna Griffiths launched her brand in 2013 to fill a very specific void in the intimate apparel industry. After learning that one in three women experience Light Bladder Leakage (LBL) and that there were no leakproof underwear options available to them, she decided to fill that gap and introduced the first Knixwear product, high-performance underwear with an ultra-thin panty liner that absorbs up to 2 tampons (3tsp) of liquid. Featuring a moisture-wicking, anti-odor, and antimicrobial cotton top layer that keep the wearer feeling fresh, dry, and confident, Knix Leakproof are suitable for both light period days and minor bladder leakage.

The company quickly expanded into workout underwear. The first Knixwear bra was introduced in 2015 and today a variety of underwear, bras, tanks, t-shirts, sleepwear, and workout accessories are available. The new kid on the Knix block is Knixteen, products designed specifically for teenage girls.

I haven’t worn Knix yet, so I can’t personally vouch for the products, but the reviews are fantastic. Andrea, writer of Mommy Gearest and an avid wearer of Knix, wrote an in-depth review here.

Knix

As a woman of considerable age, I appreciate the trend toward using older models in advertising and now I applaud Knix for using “real” women; women with stretch marks and cellulite. Women like me who have long had difficulty accepting or embracing our physical flaws because the world of advertising told us that we ought to look like airbrushed models. Women like Bree who is wearing the V-Neck Evolution Bra and the Athletic Bikini in the first of these photos and the Athletic Thong in the second one.

Knix

Knix

In addition to honesty in advertising, Knixwear is committed to ethical sourcing. All products are designed in Canada and manufactured in socially and environmentally responsible factories in China and South Korea that comply with the standards set out by WRAP, SA8000, and Okeo-tex.

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Disclaimer:  This is not a paid endorsement. Information and images were provided by Knix, but the words are my own.

Building confidence from the outside in

LogoWhile it’s true that what we wear only enhances the beauty that comes from within, for most of us there is a direct correlation between how we look and how we feel about ourselves.

In a recent post, Sue Burpee who writes High Heels in the Wilderness, said that fashion blogging has given her greater self-confidence. Once very self-conscious about having her picture taken because she considered herself unphotogenic, blogging has given Sue a reason to accumulate and curate a collection of photos of herself that she’s very pleased with. Like anyone else, she can still have a confidence shattering moment when she walks by a mirror-like panel of tinted windows and catches her own reflection, but she has learned that it’s possible to build confidence from the outside in.

I have found the same thing. Sometimes posting multiple photos of myself and writing about what I wear can seem a bit narcissistic, but taking a greater interest in fashion and in my own appearance has definitely been a confidence booster.

Understanding how wearing the right clothing and accessories can contribute to our confidence, raise our self-esteem, and help us find greater success in the workplace has become big business. Image consultants and personal stylists assist everyone from celebrities to ordinary mortals rethink their wardrobes and make choices that enhance their appearance and boost their confidence.

Dressing for confidence doesn’t require wearing the latest fashion trends or spending a fortune on your wardrobe. Far from it. It’s simply a matter of knowing what looks best on you and what makes you feel good about yourself. Here are several things to keep in mind.

Learn to dress your body. What looks good on your friend may not suit you and vice versa. Though there are many different ways to describe body type, you can find a simple calculator here to help you determine which one of these 4 basic types best describes you. A quick search of “how to dress ____ body type” will lead you to many helpful tips and suggestions.

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I’m a banana! What are you?

Know which colours flatter you. Colours that suit your skin tone have the power to take your look from blah to radiant.

Consider the occasion. Whether you’re going to a business meeting, lunch with a friend, shopping, church or a gala event, what you wear should be tailored to the occasion. Your goal shouldn’t necessarily be to blend in, but you will feel much more confident if your outfit suits the occasion.

Consider your comfort zone. While I urge women to step outside their fashion comfort zone and try new looks, change can be intimidating. A complete makeover might be a confidence booster for some, but others of us need to take baby steps. Small changes can make a big difference.

Embrace your favourite features and downplay the ones you don’t want people to notice. You can find some good tips on how to flaunt your favourite features here.

Finally, think about a time when you felt great in what you wore. Think about the times when people complimented you on what you were wearing or how you looked. Chances are those occasions built your confidence from the outside in. What was it about those outfits that drew positive attention from others or made you feel so good? Was it a flattering neckline, the length of your skirt, the fabric, the colour, or maybe the shoes you wore? Perhaps you can implement something of those looks into what you wear for other occasions.

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Royal wedding favourites

LogoUnlike some of my friends, I did not stay up until the wee hours last Saturday morning or get up before the sun to watch the royal wedding. It just wasn’t that important to me. I was saddened, however, in the days that followed to see women making unkind comments online about what some of the invited guests chose to wear. Why is it that women feel the need to criticize and put one another down? Does it make them feel better about themselves? Is it the voice of jealousy speaking? How very sad!

We all have different taste in clothing; different personal styles. In fact, it would be a very boring world if we all dressed the same. After reading some of the catty comments, I decided to take a look at the photos and find out for myself what they were referring to. I saw some outfits that I liked better than others, of course, but mostly what I saw we’re happy looking people celebrating a joyous occasion. I loved the vast array of colours and styles. There was clearly no one trend or colour that dominated.

After careful consideration, I’ve chosen a few of my favourite looks to feature here.

Kat Middleton - royal wedding

Always classy, Kate Middleton wore a figure-flattering silk coat dress by Alexander McQueen. The nasties complained that she wore white, considered a major wedding faux pas. Although it does appear almost white in the sunshine on the church steps following the ceremony, it was in fact cream and apparently looked much yellower in the dimmer lighting inside the church. What I love most about it, though, is the fact that this is a dress that Kate has worn several times before. We first saw it at her daughter’s christening in 2015. It’s obviously a favourite of hers and unlike a lot of women, she doesn’t feel the need to wear something brand new to every occasion.

Another favourite of mine is Jessica Mulroney’s royal blue tea-length dress with cap sleeves by Montreal based designer Di Carlo Couture.

Jessica Mulroney - royal wedding

Lady Kitty Spencer, 27-year-old daughter of Princess Diana’s brother, the Earl of Spencer, looked elegant in a green floral Dolce & Gabbana dress. Internet chatter focused not on what she wore, but instead on her uncanny resemblance to her famous aunt.

Kitty Spencer - royal wedding

There’s something about American actress Troian Bellisario’s cream coloured gown by Temperley London that caught my fancy. I particularly like the embellishment at the shoulders of its long sleeves.

Troian Bellisario - royal wedding

And then there were the hats and the fascinators! Oh how I’d love to attend an event where the women wore such gorgeous headpieces! Yes, there were some that I wouldn’t have chosen, but again, why knock another woman’s choice? Here are a few of my favourites.

 

The sleeves on American actress Sarah Rafferty’s frock took a current trend to its outer limit, but her hat was just darling! Former Spice Girl, Victoria Beckham’s was similar.
Victoria Beckham - royal wedding

 

The groom’s aunt, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, looked so very chic!

Sarah Ferguson - royal wedding

 

Looking at these three, one might get the impression that I favour small navy blue headpieces with veils. While I do adore them, I was just as impressed by Amal Clooney’s (British-Lebanese barrister and wife of actor, George Clooney) broad brimmed bright yellow hat.

Amal Clooney - royal wedding
Regardless of which outfits I like best and whether or not you agree with my choices, the point here is that we have nothing to gain from putting other women down for what they choose to wear. Let’s be kind to one another!

Let your beauty shine through

LogoAfter having our ceilings stripped and new stipple applied, then painting the living room, this week has been one of major house cleaning. If you had seen me in my painting duds or wearing old jeans and t-shirt while I applied furniture polish to practically every wood surface in the house, you would not have taken me for a fashion blogger. In fact, I’m quite sure I looked more like a fashion failure!

As these things tend to do, the work has taken longer and gone in different directions than we originally planned and while I try to post something on the blog at least twice a week, that hasn’t been happening. Suddenly it’s Friday again and I don’t have a new outfit or tidbit of fashion wisdom ready to share with you.

I have, however, been musing about something as I’ve applied oil to wood and polished it to a shine. The oil enhances the natural beauty of the wood. Similarly, what we wear only enhances the beauty that comes from within.

Stephanie Lahart, inspirational author of Overcoming Life’s Obstacles, puts it this way:

“Her outer beauty is just a bonus, but it is her inner beauty that’s most captivating. She’s loving, caring, kindhearted, empathetic, and genuine. She’s comfortable in her own skin, therefore, she’s able to compliment, celebrate, and build up others around her. She’s a quality woman with a strong sense of self! She doesn’t need the spotlight, because she is the light wherever she goes. Smart, confident, ambitious, and fearless… Beautifully created from the inside out.”

A woman like that can be dressed in rags (or painting clothes) and still be beautiful!

Scripture tells us:

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”           1 Peter 3:3-4

So, whatever you’re wearing today… pay someone a compliment, do something kind for someone else, put a smile on your face and let the beautiful woman you are shine through.

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I’ll be in the city for another cancer treatment and some scans next week, so I should have an update on that front, and I promise a more traditional fashion post next Friday.

Sleeping beauty

LogoTaking an interest in fashion is usually about wanting to look our best. The clothes we wear are definitely an important part of that, but so is taking care of the body that we put those clothes on.

I’m reminded of the repainting that I’m doing in our living room right now. If I simply put fresh paint on the wall without first mending the nicks and scrapes and the holes from the old drapery rod that we just took down, the result would not look good at all. In the same way, without eating well, being physically active, and getting adequate sleep, we can put the loveliest clothes on our bodies and not end up looking very good.

Getting sufficient sleep can be a significant problem for many women. When we’re young, the demands of motherhood or a busy work life can make it difficult to settle in and get a good night’s rest and as we age there is often a decrease in the deep-sleep stage and an increase in periods of wakefulness during the night, not to mention more frequent trips to the bathroom.

I generally get plenty of sleep, but not at this time of year. I’m not an early riser, but at this time of year, the sun is! It rose at 5:36 this morning and will continue shining in my window earlier each morning for another month and a half. Every year at this time, I think about getting darker blinds for the bedroom, but after awhile I get used to the early morning light and the need for new window coverings is forgotten. This year, I came up with a new idea. A sleep mask!

A sleep mask is essentially a comfortable blindfold that blocks light and thus helps the wearer reach a deep and restful sleep even in situations like mine where there is a lack of darkness. There are a variety of different types of sleep masks available. In addition to the standard mask, there are pillow masks, or eye pillows, which are thicker and softer than a regular sleep mask. There are cooling masks, magnetic masks, and compression masks. There are even sleep masks designed specifically for aromatherapy. Masks come in a variety of materials with silk, cotton, and satin being the most common. Some masks use a combination of materials and some even have gel or foam inside to give the mask more structure. Some are made with raised eye cavities that allow you to open your eyes while wearing them.

I wasn’t at all sure how well I would adjust to sleeping with a mask, so I was hesitant to spend much on one until I’d given the idea a try. Imagine my delight when I found this satin beauty with a soft velvety lining at Dollarama for $1.25! There were a wide variety of colours available as well as a choice of witty sayings. It fits comfortably; not too tight, but snug enough to stay in place. I’ve only worn it two nights, so it might be a bit too soon to say for sure, but instead of waking up with the sun I’ve been able to sleep until 7:00 or later. IMG_5776

What about you? Do you have difficulty getting your beauty sleep? Have you tried wearing a mask?

 

Cultural appropriation… what do you think?

Utah teen, Keziah Daum, has been harshly criticized online and in the media for herLogo recent choice of a dress for prom. Hoping to find something unique, Keziah decided to browse a vintage store in downtown Salt Lake City. There she found a beautiful red cheongsam; a high-collared, form-fitting traditional Chinese dress.

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photo – Twitter

The problem is that Keziah Daum is not Chinese. The dress “gave me a sense of appreciation and admiration for other cultures and their beauty,” she said, but she has been accused of cultural appropriation.

What is cultural appropriation and how is it different from cultural appreciation?

Cultural appropriation deals with the adoption of elements of a minority culture or a marginalized group by members of a dominant culture without permission and usually with little respect for or knowledge about the original culture. In true cases of cultural appropriation, elements that may have deep meaning to members of the original culture are sometimes reduced to exotic curiosities by those adopting them. For example, decorating your home with a Buddha statue when you are not, in fact, Buddhist would seem to me to be culturally inappropriate. If you are white North American and you include items that are representative of First Nations culture in your Halloween costume, that too is clearly cultural appropriation and may also help perpetuate harmful stereotypes. I question, however, whether using the same items or garments in the ways that they were originally intended is harmful to anyone at all.

The problem, in many cases, is that there is often no agreement amongst members of a supposedly offended cultural group about what is or is not acceptable to them. While Keziah Daum’s choice of prom dress elicited plenty of criticism from both Chinese and non Chinese, scores of other people also identifying as Asian Americans, defended her choice, saying that they did not consider it offensive. One of them tweeted, “I am a Chinese woman. I support you. You rocked that dress!!”

I have a Japanese yukata (summer kimono) that I purchased in Tokyo. The shopkeeper had no problem selling it to me and showing me how to wear it properly even though I was clearly a gaijin (foreigner). In fact, I believe that many of their customers are visitors to the country looking for a special piece of Japanese culture to take home with them. I also have a traditional Vietnamese ao dai, a two piece silk outfit comprised of a long tunic and pants that was made to measure in a tiny tailoring shop in Hoi An. When I traveled to  Vietnam I had no intention of buying an ao dai, but when I visited a few of the 200+ tailoring shops in Hoi An and admired the beautiful garments, the seamstresses were all anxious to make one for me and I couldn’t resist. I also have a Chinese silk jacket from Hong Kong as well as a beautiful silk abaya from the Middle East, both gifts from friends. I have worn all of these on special occasions and meant absolutely no disrespect to the cultures they came from. In fact, like Keziah Daum, I consider it a special privilege to be able to wear such gorgeous and meaningful pieces.

I also wear a beautiful ring made to order by Haisla artist, Hollie Bear Bartlett. A Christmas gift from my husband, it’s hummingbird motif in traditional Northwest Coast style is symbolic of love and beauty. I am originally a coastal girl of European descent. I do not think that my wearing a ring bearing the art of a different group of coastal people is inappropriate or disrespectful. I also have Northwest Coast and Inuit art in my home, as do many other Canadians.

On the other hand, I do think that our Canadian Prime Minister made an absolute ass of himself, roving around India recently on a highly publicized trip with his family, all of them wearing brightly coloured Indian garb. Their insensitive overuse of and excessive photo-ops wearing Indian clothing drew criticism from their host country with prominent Indian personalities referring to the outfit choices as “tacky” or “fake and annoying.”

Allegations of cultural appropriation have grown increasingly common in recent times with critics casting doubt on the legitimacy of everything from team logos to burrito shops. We in North America are privileged to live in multicultural countries where we can share in the rich heritage and traditions of our neighbours. It behooves us to be sensitive in how we do so, but I think that condemning a young girl for her choice of prom dress goes way overboard.

I realize that this is a controversial topic and that there are people with strong feelings on both sides of the issue. I welcome all opinions as long as they are offered respectfully. I am particularly interested in knowing how my readers from other parts of the world feel about this topic.