Fashion humour

LogoI’m quite surprised at how easy it’s been to keep Fashion Friday going for over five years without running out of new topics to write about, but lately the well of ideas seems to be running dry. I think it’s more than writer’s block though. I’m sure it’s partly due to the fact that I’m bored with the clothes in my closet and I’ve hardly bought any new ones in the past 14 months, but I think it also has a lot to do with the state of the world we’re living in. Writing about fashion seems pretty frivolous when you’re living in the province with the highest rate of active Covid cases in Canada and the United States and the situation is getting worse every day.

After wracking my brain for something meaningful to write about this week and coming up empty, I decided that maybe what we actually need is a bit of fashion humour to lighten the mood. We don’t have to look any further than the runway fashion shows where designers display their latest creations to find a few laughs and ask, “What were they thinking?”

Perhaps it would be best if designers didn’t let their creative juices flow when they’re hungry!

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I’ve always said that a mother should grow a new arm with each new child. Perhaps that’s what this designer had in mind, but that would be one big family!

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There’s a lot going on in this Easter bunny inspired outfit, but look at the sleeves. They’d be perfect for a mom whose arms are tired or perhaps for someone who’s broken both arms. The mask is also a nice touch during these pandemic days.

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Then, of course, there are the styles with no arms at all!

Cozy is nice, but this is a bit much, don’t you think?

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This one would certainly keep you warm on a cold winter day.

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Layering for warmth is a better idea, but it would appear that this designer didn’t quite grasp that concept.

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Some outfits are creepy…

and others are just too weird for words!

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A few the outfits shown above are clearly unisex, but today I also have two special designs for any men in the audience who like to show off their underwear!

Though I can’t actually imagine anyone wearing any of these creations except on the runway, I do have to admit that some of them are walking works of art. In some cases, very weird art, but art nevertheless. In my opinion, this one from China is both artistic and quite beautiful.

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Though I’m obvously struggling with it a bit at this point, I do want to keep Fashion Friday going, so if you have any suggestions for topics you’d like me to write about, I’d love to hear them! Please feel free to leave your ideas in the comment section.

Do-it-yourself pedicure

LogoDepending on where you live, it may be that time of year when winter feet begin to emerge from socks and shoes and you want them to look good in sandals. Covid restrictions may also make it difficult or impossible to go for a professional pedicure. Never fear! It’s really not that hard to do yourself and a bit of self-pampering might be just what you need right now.

Here’s an easy step-by-step guide:

Step 1:  Prep your nails

Remove any old polish with nail polish remover. If you’re like me, you can skip this step at this time of the year. The only time I apply polish to my toenails in the winter is when we take a vacation to somewhere warm and, for obvious reasons, that didn’t happen this year. Otherwise, my feet are hidden all winter long and I don’t see any point in polish that no one is going to see.

Step 2:  Soak your feet

This is the step that I like best! If you have a foot bath, now is the time to put it to use. Otherwise, a regular basin will do or you can put enough water in the bathtub to cover your feet and ankles and sit on the edge. I usually sit on the bathroom counter and soak my feet in the sink, but you might not find that very comfortable. Regardless of what you use, add some bath salts (or epsom salts) and perhaps a few drops of a favourite essential oil and submerge your feet. Let them soak for 5 to 10 minutes or longer if you wish. 

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Step 3:  Cuticle care

Do not trim your cuticles. Both the Mayo Clinic and the American Academy of Dermatology advise against this practice. Cuticles protect both your nails and the skin surrounding them from infection. Simply use an orange stick or a cuticle pusher to gently push them back. You may want to use a cuticle oil or cream first, but the foot soak should soften them enough to make this unnecessary. 

Step 4:  Exfoliate

Use a foot file or a pumice stone to remove dry, dead skin cells. Focus on the balls of your feet and your heels as well as any other rough or calloused spots. Be firm, but be careful not to overdo it. You may be able to skip this step if you do what I do which is apply moisturizer to your feet every night before bed. It doesn’t have to be a foot cream. Any body lotion will do. Keep it on your bedside table and apply it liberally just before you slide your feet under the covers. I’ve been doing this for years and at 68 years old, my feet are soft and callous free. 

Step 5:  Trim your nails

Cut straight across to avoid painful ingrown toenails. Be careful not to cut too short as this is also a common cause of ingrown nails. Use toenail clippers, which are wider than fingernail clippers, and don’t worry about getting a perfectly straight line because next you’ll use a nail file or an emery board to even out the edges and soften any sharp corners. If, like me, you’re prone to ingrown toenails, cut a tiny V in the centre of the nail. I learned this trick from a podiatrist over 50 years ago and I’ve been doing it ever since. Apparently, it encourages the nail to grow toward the centre. I only do this with the big toes as none of the others have ever ingrown. 

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Step 6:  Moisturize and massage

Massage a dollop of moisturizer into each foot. Before moving on to the next step, use a cotton pad to remove any oily residue from your nails. 

Step 7:  Polish

You may want to go the whole nine yards and use a base coat and a top coat, but for the past several years, I’ve been using Sally Hansen Insta-Dri polish which is a 3 in 1 formula. On my toes, two coats will last for several weeks. Be careful to let the polish dry completely between each coat. An orange stick or a Q-tip is a handy thing to have on hand for a quick clean up if you accidentally paint outside the lines. 

And there you have it, a complete and easy do-it-yourself pedicure that didn’t even cost a cent! 

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I can’t remember when the tradition started, but I’ve been painting my summertime toes with gold polish for many, many years. The colour I’m wearing here is called Go For Gold. Now, with my pedicure done and my trademark gold toes ready to shine, I’m ready for summer to finally get here! 

 

15 fashion stats

LogoTomorrow is the 8th anniversary of the collapse of the eight-storey Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh that housed five garment factories. More than 1,100 workers lost their lives that day and thousands more were injured. It was, to date, the worst industrial incident to hit the garment industry. The disaster drew attention to the human cost behind the clothes we wear and also inspired more people to start thinking about the broader topic of sustainability in the fashion industry.

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Here, in no particular order, are 15 statistics about the fashion industry.

  • 97% of the clothing sold in America is made overseas.
  • Garment workers are often forced to work 14 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week in buildings with no ventilation.
  • 75% to 85% of the world’s garment workers are women and they are amongst the lowest paid workers in the world.
  • American women aged 35 to 44 spend an average of $960 on clothes each year, the highest among all age groups.
  • On average, an article of clothing in a woman’s closet is worn only seven times before being discarded.
  • The average American throws away approximately 81.5 pounds of clothing every year.
  • Approximately 10 million tons of clothes are sent to landfills every year.
  • Less than 11% of fashion brands have implemented recycling strategies for their products.
  • The fashion industry is responsible for 8% to 10% of carbon emissions globally, more than those emitted by all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
  • Solvents and dyes used in the manufacturing of clothing are responsible for 20% of the world’s industrial water pollution.
  • About 1,800 gallons of water are needed to produce the cotton in one pair jeans, and 400 gallons to produce the cotton in a shirt.
  • 23% of all chemicals produced in the world are used in the textile industry.
  • Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make polyester fibre which is the most commonly used fibre in our clothing.
  • Polyester fibre takes more than 200 years to decompose.
  • Today, 400% more clothing is produced than 20 years ago.

I think that you’ll agree that many of these facts are disturbing. We all wear clothes, so in a sense, we’re all responsible. The hard question is what are we going to do about it? Do we care enough to do anything at all?

Thankfully, there is some good news on this front. A recent survey of 2,000 respondents from the US and the UK revealed that more than half want the fashion industry to be more sustainable and many are willing to pay more for sustainable clothing. Younger consumers in particular are seriously concerned with social and environmental causes. As they increasingly back up their beliefs with their shopping habits, countless brands are responding by doing their bit to transform the fashion industry for the better. We can also do our part by buying fewer, better quality items and wearing them longer. They may cost more to purchase, but their extended life will make them a more affordable option in the long run.

The third piece

LogoIn last week’s post, I mentioned wearing my new denim shirt as a third piece. Today I thought we’d talk a bit more about that. In the fashion industry, there’s what is referred to as the “third piece rule” but I tend to cringe at the word rule when it comes to fashion.

No rules

Essentially, a third piece is anything, with the exception of shoes, that goes above and beyond the basic pants and top or skirt and top look. On the old TV show, What Not to Wear, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly referred to it as the “completer piece” because it really helps to complete an outfit. Though some consider scarves, hats, or even statement jewelry as third pieces, the term is more often used to refer to an extra layer such as a jacket, a cardigan, or a vest.

Fashion retailers such as Nordstrom, Madewell, and Banana Republic know the power of the third piece. Their associates are encouraged to wear three piece outfits because the third piece helps them look pulled together and more knowledgeable about fashion.

For those of us who live in cooler climates, adding that third piece might seem like a no-brainer except in the height of summer. I was certainly dressing this way long before I knew there was a rule.

So, let’s take a look at some third pieces from my closet. There’s nothing here, except maybe the necklace, that hasn’t appeared on the blog before. I’m wearing the same striped t-shirt and jeans in every photo to show how easy it is to dress a basic pants and top up or down with a third piece.

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Third piece: Uniqlo ultra light down vest

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Third piece: 3/4 sleeve shirt

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Third piece: Deco Cardigan from cabi Fall 2019 Collection

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Third piece: basic jean jacket

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Third piece: grey blazer left over from my teaching days

Whether we want to call it a rule or not, it’s easy to see how the third piece provides us with an easy formula for getting dressed and looking put together. Pants, top, third piece, then add a bit of fun with shoes and accessories and we’re ready to go!

What was in the bag?

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In last week’s post, I promised to share my purchases with you at a later date. There were actually three items in my bag, all from Uniqlo. One of them, an active wear bra with crossover straps that I purchased specifically for kayaking, won’t be appearing on the blog. Today’s post will feature one of the other two pieces, a basic denim shirt. 

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I had a similar Levi’s shirt several years ago that I wore until it was practically a rag. I’m really not sure why it took me so long to replace it as it was such a workhorse in my wardrobe. The 100% cotton denim in this one is so soft that it already feels like an old friend. 

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This particular shirt was on a sales rack and doesn’t appear on the Uniqlo website any longer, but similar shirts are available this spring in a variety of places including Gap, Eddie Bauer, and Old Navy

I’m wearing a medium in a slim fit. I might have been able to wear a small, but for a comfy, casual shirt like this one, I like a slightly oversized ‘boyfriend’ feel. In the first two photos, I’m wearing it with a pair of earrings that I bought at our local thrift shop for 25 cents! 

Although the shirt works just fine on it’s own, I especially love to wear it as a third piece. While it would look great over a plain t-shirt, I’ve elevated the look just a bit here by wearing it over a sleeveless cabi blouse from several seasons ago. 

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I can see this quickly becoming a go to piece in my wardrobe, one that I’ll be able to wear year round. It fits especially well into the comfy, casual wear-around-home life that we’re restricted to these days.

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Hubby and I had our first Covid vaccines this week, but with case numbers rising drastically in our province, I don’t see that coming to an end anytime soon. 

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Dressing for the in-between season

What do you wear for a day away from home in this in-between season when the weather is so unpredictable? That’s what I had to decide on Wednesday. On Monday, we had a blizzard with howling winds gusting to 90km/h (56mph), but on Wednesday the forecast was calling for sunny skies and a high of 10ºC (50ºF).

Hubby had two medical appointments in the city several hours apart. I’d be spending quite a bit of time sitting in waiting rooms, but I also planned to do some shopping. Yes, shopping! For the first time in several months, I’d be walking the malls. I wanted to be warm, but not too hot. As always, I wanted what I wore to say classy, confident, and comfortable. I wanted to be able to try things on easily, and comfortable walking shoes were definitely a must. Here’s what I decided to wear. If you’ve been following the blog for very long, you’ve seen all the pieces before.

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I’m a little self-conscious about having my photo taken in public places with people around, but hubby is always willing to act as my photographer and we snapped this one just outside the mall. My Checkmate Jacket from cabi’s Fall 2019 Collection feels like a cozy sweater, but it’s a bit dressier looking. I wore it over a plain black t-shirt from Uniqlo and a pair of dark wash jeans from Old Navy. A necklace would have dressed the look up a bit more, but it would have been in the way while trying on clothes, so I went without one. The white sneakers that insisted on being mine have turned out to be an excellent purchase. They’re so comfortable that I’d be able to walk for hours in them and they added a casual vibe to the outfit. Apparently stylish French women are wearing white sneakers with everything from jeans and blazers to dresses or suits, so I guess I’m in good company! 

The temperature was hovering around 0ºC (32ºF) when we left home in the morning, so I added a lightweight anorak over my outfit. I left it in the vehicle once we reached the city where the temperature climbed to a balmy 14ºC (57ºF) by mid-afternoon. 

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When we spotted this giant flower-covered shoe in the mall, we had to stop for another photo! I slipped my mandatory mask off for a moment and hubby snapped a quick one. I’ll share the contents of the bag with you in a future post! 

More about flats

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What a strange language English is! Take the word flat, for example. In Britain, a flat is what we in North America would call an apartment. Flat can mean smooth and even, without bumps and indentations. It can be a musical note or a piece of stage scenery. We can be flat broke, lie flat on our backs, or turn someone down flat. Today is Fashion Friday, however, so once again we’re talking about shoes, ballet flats in particular. 

LogoThe ballet flat, a timeless, polished, and quietly chic style of footwear, was inspired by the dance slippers worn by ballerinas in France in the mid-18th century. It was French film actress, Brigitte Bardot, who would ultimately transform the ballet slipper into it’s present day form. Once trained as a ballet dancer, Bardot asked French footwear designer, Rose Repetto, to design a pair of flats for her that were as flexible as ballet slippers, but softer and more comfortable. Bardot wore the now-iconic style in her 1956 film, And God Created Woman. 

Fashion trends come and go, but the ballet flat has remained a wardrobe staple for women for nearly 70 years. Other famous fans of the tried-and-true style have included Audrey Hepburn, Rita Hayworth, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Princess Diana, Michelle Obama, and Meghan Markle. 

As I mentioned in last week’s post, with spring comes lighter footwear including the ubiquitous ballet flat. Though these lightweight, flexible, and comfortable shoes are traditionally rounded at the toe, square-toed and pointy pairs can also be found. Apart from highly formal, black tie events, ballet flats are suited to almost any occasion from the office to a party. They are, of course, perfect as part of an everyday casual outfit. I would not, however, suggest wearing them when you plan to do a lot of walking as they don’t provide adequate support for that.

And now for a few styling tips: 

  • Avoid tights and socks. Ballet flats look best over bare feet. 
  • Show some skin. Ballet flats look most flattering when your ankles or lower legs are showing. They look great with dresses, skirts (especially loose, flowy styles), and cropped pants. 
  • Simple ballet flats also look great with skinny jeans or leggings. 
  • If you want to create the illusion of longer legs, choose a simple nude pair. 

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Wearing my blue suede shoes!

Why wear flats?

LogoWell known Christian speaker, author, and Bible teacher extraordinaire, Beth Moore, recently cut ties with the Southern Baptist Convention saying that she no longer feels at home in the denomination that once saved her life. Moore, who has long endured criticism in conservative evangelical circles because of their belief that only men should be allowed to preach, felt that she could no longer identify with or be part of what she saw as a toxic mix of misogyny, nationalism, and partisan politics in the denomination. That, however, is a topic for another day.

On the topic of fashion, I was absolutely incensed when I read that within the Southern Baptist Convention, Beth Moore was expected to show deference to male leaders by wearing flats instead of heels when she served alongside a man who was shorter than she was! What? What century are we living in? How insecure must a man be to feel that his manhood is threatened by a woman who is taller than he is?

At 5’8″, I’m more than two inches taller than my husband. When we lived in Japan, where I towered over most of the women and many of the men, we were introduced to nomi no fufu, a phrase used to describe a couple like us. Nomi no fufu literally means ‘flea couple’ and is used because of the scientific fact that female fleas are bigger than males!

My husband couldn’t care less if I wear heels. He’s not even slightly intimidated by my height, nor should he be. Why, then, do I choose to wear flats most of the time? Why were they already my shoe of choice long before I met my “little flea”? I can answer that in one simple word!

Comfort!

There are actually many good reasons to choose flats over heels. Studies have shown that by limiting the natural motion of the foot during walking, high heels can cause increased stress on the knees and may even contribute to osteoarthritis later in life. Similarly, if high heels are worn constantly, the spine’s ability to absorb shock can result in continued back pain. The vertebrae of the lower back may be compressed and back muscles over stressed. Wearing high heels too frequently can also cause the calf muscle to stiffen and the Achilles tendon to shorten which can actually make wearing flatter shoes uncomfortable. By putting a great deal of pressure on the ball of the foot and forcing the toes into a small toe box, high heels can cause or worsen many foot problems including corns, hammertoe, bunions, Morton’s neuroma and plantar fasciitis. This graphic from the Florida Hospital Medical Group Spine Health Institute helps explain. 

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Does this mean that women should never wear high heels? Not at all! Worn in moderation, not everyday, they’re unlikely to cause any long-term physical health problems.

Now that spring seems to be here and the snow is almost entirely gone, I’m excited to be able to start wearing my sneakers and ballet flats again! That’s because they’re comfortable, not because I might intimidate some wussy man by standing next to him in heels!

My choice of shoes is most definitely not a religious or spiritual matter!

When is a bargain not a bargain?

LogoIn anticipation of spring (I saw my first robin earlier this week!) I’ve been looking through my winter closet and thinking about which items to keep for another season and which to get rid of. In the process, I’ve stopped to ponder a few pieces that I’ve rarely ever worn. Why did I buy them in the first place, I’ve asked myself, and why don’t I wear them? That led to the topic for today’s post. When is a bargain not a bargain?

As a frugal fashionista, I’m always drawn to the sales racks and I love thrift store shopping. Much of my wardrobe was purchased at a fraction of it’s original price. I’ve learned, however, that a bargain isn’t a bargain unless it’s something you’re actually going to wear!

When considering whether a bargain is actually a bargain, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

Does it fit properly? Shop for the body you have right now, not the one you wish you had or the one you hope to have someday in the future. If you can’t wear it today, put it back on the rack unless you intend to have it altered. If you do, unless you have the ability to do it yourself, you also need to factor in the cost of tailoring.

Does it fit your lifestyle? Do you actually have somewhere to wear it?

Does the colour flatter your complexion? This is especially important to consider if it’s something that will be worn close to your face.

Does it work with your existing wardrobe?  Know what’s already in your closet and where the gaps are. If you have to buy several other items to make something work, it’s no longer a bargain.

Does it say what you want it to say? Choose 3 to 5 adjectives that describe what you want your wardrobe to say about you and keep them in mind when you’re shopping. When I look in the mirror I want my outfit to say classy, confident, and comfortable. I also look for pieces that might add a bit of creative flair.

Do you love it? My shopping mantra has become “If you don’t love it, don’t buy it!”

When deciding whether or not something will be a bargain, another factor to consider is cost per wear. Let’s look at a couple of examples from my closet. One of the first pieces of cabi that I bought was the Shirttail Cardigan from the Fall 2016 Collection. I still love it and I wear it frequently during the winter months. The original price was $149 CAD, but as a party hostess, I was able to purchase it at 50% off. I have no idea how often I’ve worn it, but I’m guessing maybe 100 times. If we do the math ($74.50 ÷ 100) that works out to 75¢ per wear. The following year, I bought the cabi Silk Blouse, also at 50% off. It originally sold for $159 CAD, but I paid $79.50. I’ve probably worn it half a dozen times. That works out to $13.25 per wear! It’s easy to see which of these items was a bargain and which wasn’t! That doesn’t mean that the blouse wouldn’t have been a bargain for someone else, just not for me.

I’m sure I’ll still make some shopping mistakes, but I’m hoping that there will be less of them in the future!

Dressing for a fantasy pub night

LogoOver the past year, while Covid has left most of us missing the opportunity to socialize safely, Sue Burpee, writer of the blog High Heels in the Wilderness, has hosted four fantasy get-togethers for her readers. The first, in early April, was an afternoon tea party at the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. In mid July, Sue invited us to her home overlooking Ontario’s Rideau River for a backyard book party and in early December, we spent a weekend in Paris! Then, most recently, we crossed a magical bridge in the falling snow and gathered for a fantasy pub night in the small village of Ashton, Ontario. 

A retired high school English teacher, Sue is a fashion, lifestyle, and travel blogger, but she’s also a delightful storyteller! A couple of weeks before each fantasy event, without giving away too many details, Sue issues an invitation on her blog. She tells us the basics of what we’ll be doing or where we’ll be going and gives us some suggestions about what might be appropriate attire for the occasion. Then she asks us to send her photographs of what we would wear. By the time we’ve read the resulting blog post and enjoyed the photos, we feel like we’ve been on a wonderful adventure and enjoyed the company of a group of likeminded women! 

Sue’s invitation to the recent pub night suggested that we choose an outfit that would be “dressy enough to make you feel good, and casual enough to wear to a pub.” The pub would probably be a bit drafty, she advised, so we should try to come up with some winter layering ideas. Here in Alberta, we were in the midst of an extreme cold snap at that time, so I was dressed warmly even in the house. In fact, I looked at what I had on that morning and realized that I was almost ready to go! I was wearing dark wash jeans, a favourite animal print t-shirt, a cozy sweater jacket that feels like I’m wrapped in a blanket on a chilly day, and a pair of silver earrings. 

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All I needed to add was a pair of black ankle boots and a bright blue pashmina scarf for a pop of colour. I purchased the pashmina in a market in Cambodia several years ago. If I got too warm, I could easily remove the sweater and drape the pashmina over my shoulders.

How’s that for a good reason to get dressed in the middle of a pandemic shutdown instead of spending the day in your pjs? You never know when you might be invited to a fantasy pub night! 

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