I’d like your help

LogoEarlier this month, I had the opportunity to shop my sister-in-law’s closet again. Though I’m a little taller, Sue and I are very similar in size and can usually wear one another’s clothes without alteration. Before we arrived for our annual February visit, she had done another major closet clean out and had several large bags of clothing waiting for me to go through.

Today I want your opinion on 4 tops that now hang in my closet. Please be honest about whether or not you think I should keep them and tell me why.

#1

I actually like everything about this one from Cleo, one of my favourite Canadian fashion retailers. It fits perfectly and the soft polyester knit with a hint of spandex is oh so comfortable. Teal is one of the colours that suits every skin tone and the pattern doesn’t overwhelm me. The shirttail hem with ties at the sides takes it one notch up from a simple t-shirt.

#2

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Sue tends to wear dramatic colours and patterns while I favour neutrals. This one, also from Cleo, combines the two. Though fuchsia is also a colour that most women can wear, I like having the beige and grey tones closer to my face. I love three quarter length sleeves and this top is long enough that I can wear it over leggings. Though I love the look of the wide trim on the sleeves and the bottom edge, it does tend to catch on things.

#3

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I love the length and the fit of this button down tunic from Northern Reflections, another Canadian retailer. The lightweight polyester drapes beautifully, but I wonder if the pattern is a bit too intense for me. Perhaps it looks better under my denim waterfall shirt from cabi. What do you think?

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#4

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This silky blouson style top, also from Cleo, is actually a petite. It’s shorter than I usually wear, but other than that it fits well and the sleeves are long enough. It’s very lightweight and would make a good transition piece for spring (if it ever gets here!), but again, I wonder if it looks better under a sweater like my shirttail cardigan from cabi.

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Now that I’ve shopped Sue’s closet, please help me curate mine. Let me know your thoughts about these 4 tops in the comment section below.

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The right to bare arms

LogoKim Campbell was Prime Minister of Canada for a little over four months in late 1993. She was was the first, and to date, the only female prime minister of this country. In addition to being a politician, she’s been a diplomat, a lawyer, a university lecturer and a writer, but when it comes to fashion, I think she’s a little out of touch!

Kim Campbell

Campbell created a furor this week when she posted this on Twitter.

Kim Campbell Twitter post

Bare arms undermine credibility and gravitas and are demeaning to women? Really? How ridiculous and archaic!

Campbell is hardly a prude, nor is this the first time she’s created a hullabaloo over bare arms. The first time, however, they were her own. In 1990, the then Minister of Justice posed for a bare shouldered photo while holding her judicial robes in front of her.

Kim Campbell

Some considered it quite scandalous, but I think the photo is rather artistic and I like what it was meant to symbolize. Ms. Campbell recently tweeted that it represented “the juxtaposition of bare shoulders (femininity) and legal robes (male dominated power structure).” Apparently it was also intended to symbolize the law as protection for women.

I’m having a hard time reconciling a woman who championed those values with one who thinks that bare arms are degrading to women! As I said, perhaps she’s just a little out of touch.

Personally, in my younger years, I was self-conscious about showing off my arms because I felt that they were too skinny. It wasn’t until I was almost 40 and started to work out with weights that I felt comfortable going sleeveless. Now it’s my favourite look for summer. In fact, I can hardly wait for our long Canadian winter to come to an end so I can begin wearing them again.

What about you? Do you go sleeveless? Do you think that sleeveless dresses are unprofessional or demeaning to women? I’d love to know your opinion.

 

 

Do you really want to be FIERCE?

LogoIt seems that my recent fashion posts have been as much about words as they have been about fashion! First, I wrote about my present style being classy casual and what I meant by that. Then there was a post about the 3Cs… classy, confident, and comfortable. I hope you’ll bear with me today as we consider one more word that is taking a place of prominence in the world of fashion.

When I wrote F is for fashion, one of my earliest Fashion Friday posts, fierce was not one of the six F words that I focused on. In fact, it didn’t even cross my mind. There is, however, a movement started by 56 year old fashion blogger, Catherine Grace O’Connell, known as Forever Fierce that is quickly catching momentum on Facebook and she has now declared February 19 Forever Fierce Day.

“Forever Fierce Day is a celebration of the vitality, power, and wisdom of the Midlife Woman. Why? Because empowered women at Midlife are cool!” writes Catherine. “Midlife isn’t an age. It’s an experience. It’s a time when a woman begins to experience her true power while the world begins to treat her as not relevant or invisible. This is why women begin to rise and rise fiercely at Midlife.”

While I agree with her sentiment, I’m not sure I want to be known as fierce. In fact, I wasn’t sure how to respond when one woman complimented me on this top by telling me that it was fierce!

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I didn’t know her well or I might have asked her what she really meant by that. I’m guessing that fierce has just become a popular catchword and that few people really think about what they mean when they use it.

I’m a self professed word nerd, so naturally I began to wonder about the word fierce, especially as it pertains to fashion. In it’s original usage, the dictionary says that it’s an adjective meaning “having or displaying an intense or ferocious aggressiveness.” Yikes! I don’t think ferocious aggressiveness fits very well with my desire to be known as a woman of grace!

Digging deeper, I discovered that fierce was a term that was commonly used by gay men in the late 1990s and early 2000s to describe anything that was of exceptional quality. In fashion, it seems to have become a positive term used to mean cool, sexy, or awesome. Even so, I’m not sure that I’m ready to jump on the Forever Fierce bandwagon. It seems to me that perhaps a woman who has to declare herself fierce is trying just a bit too hard.

I’d love to know what you think. Do you want to be known as fierce?

Not ditching my denims!

LogoAccording to a recent and obviously very controversial study, I should have stopped wearing jeans 12 years ago!

British courier service, CollectPlus, put together a survey that revealed that by age 53, people should stop wearing their denims. Even Catherine Woolfe, Marketing Director at CollectPlus, was startled by the results. “It’s surprising to see our research reveals that many people think jeans are the reserve of the younger generation,” she said.

My initial response to the news was astonishment! Jeans are an absolute staple of my wardrobe and I can’t ever imagine the day coming when I would stop wearing them.

I’m definitely not the only one! Here’s Susan Street from Susanafter60 in hers,

Susan Street, Susanover60

Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Life wearing hers,

Jennifer Connolly, A Well Styled Life

and Alyson Walsh of That’s Not My Age wearing her jeans.

Alyson Walsh, That's Not My Age

All three fashion bloggers are over the age of 53 and I think they look darn good!

So why does CollectPlus suggest that we should stop wearing jeans at 53? Apparently, the stress that people experience while shopping for jeans becomes too intense for us by that age! Really? That’s the best they could come up with? What does a parcel delivery service know about fashion anyway? Or about conducting valid research?

What do you think? Are jeans one of your wardrobe essentials? At what age would you stop wearing them?

3Cs… classy, confident, and comfortable

LogoIn one of her most recent posts, Pam Lutrell of Over 50 Feeling 40, one of my favourite fashion blogs, presented her readers with a lengthy list of adjectives and asked us to choose the top three that we would like our wardrobes to say about us. I chose classyconfident, and comfortable.

In my mind, the first two go hand in hand. When I know I look good, I feel like I can conquer the world and to me looking good means dressing with class.

As I mentioned in last Friday’s post, now that I’m retired, I want my wardrobe to be what I would call classy casual.

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So what makes an outfit classy? There are no one size fits all rules, but here are a few tips to help:

Learn how to dress your body type  –  What looks good on some of my curvy girlfriends might do nothing at all for my boyish figure and vice versa. Look for garments that highlight your best features and don’t draw attention to the ones that you’d rather conceal.

Fit  –  In the words of Stacy London and Clinton Kelly of What Not to Wear fame, “If you don’t have fit, you don’t have style.” The key is to try things on and look in the fitting-room mirror with a critical eye. Do shoulder seams lie in the right place? Are armholes sufficiently high without cutting into your armpits? Does the garment pull across your shoulder blades? Is the length appropriate? Is there puckering or wrinkling anywhere? If you’re unsure about fit, try on another size for comparison. Then, if you’re seriously considering buying an item, leave the dressing room and head for the three-way mirror! Don’t buy anything without first checking the fit from behind!

Know which colours look best with your complexion  –  Wearing the right colours can make your hair look radiant, your eyes pop, and your skin glow. On the other hand, the wrong colours, especially worn close to your face, will make you look tired or washed out.

Modesty  –  I’m not talking about hiding under a nun’s habit or a burqa here, but there’s nothing classy about overexposure! Unless you’re at the beach or beside the pool, keep your cleavage and your belly button covered. Underwear is meant to be worn under what you’re wearing, so keep your bra straps out of sight too and please, please remember that leggings are not pants! Make sure your butt and your crotch are covered. ‘Nuff said!

Accessorize, but don’t overdo it  –  Jewelry is meant to enhance an outfit, not overpower it. In my opinion, understated is better than garish or overly ostentatious. Scarves are a great way to add colour and visual interest to an outfit and don’t forget that your shoes are also an accessory. There’s nothing like a cute shoe to add a little class!

When it comes to classy, confident dressing, learn to trust your instincts. Wear what makes you feel like your best self. Think about the outfits that you feel happiest wearing and the ones that you receive the most compliments on. Chances are, they make you look classy. And don’t forget that dressing classy doesn’t have to cost a lot. Yes, you could spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on designer clothes, but you can also find comparable looks at reasonable prices, and if you’re like me, you might even find some wonderful buys in your local thrift stores! Check here for 18 tips to help you!

Comfortable is my final C word and to me, that’s a no brainer! Regardless of how well a garment fits and whether or not the colour suits you, if you don’t find it comfortable or you don’t like the texture of the fabric, you won’t enjoy wearing it.

What words would you choose to describe what you would like your wardrobe to say about you?

 

What do you wear at home?

LogoWhat do you wear when you’re home alone or when only family is there to see? Have you ever been embarrassed by your appearance when someone came to the door unexpectedly?

At 65, I grew up in an era when we had separate clothes for school and play. The very first thing we did when we got home was to change into play clothes. Throughout my teaching career, I continued to have a work wardrobe and at-home clothes which usually consisted of blue jeans and a t-shirt or a sweatshirt. I really didn’t pay much attention to my appearance when I was at home. 

Once I retired, however, I realized that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life looking sloppy. I didn’t need a work wardrobe anymore, but I still wanted to look like I mattered; like I cared about myself. I began to read a few fashion blogs for older women to try to figure out what I wanted my new everyday style to be. Now I try for a classy casual look even on those days when I have no plans to leave the house.

I still wear jeans. In fact, they’re an absolute staple in my wardrobe. I even wear them to church sometimes. I wear t-shirts too, but there are t-shirts and then there are t-shirts. I’ll wear one like this

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or this

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but very rarely one like this.

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I consider the first two classy, but the third one, not so much! The only reason it’s in my wardrobe at all is because it bears a very important message.

I don’t wear sweatshirts at all anymore except when I’m camping. A nice sweater is just as comfortable and it looks so much better.

One of the things that I’ve been trying to do lately has been to bring some of my dressier items into my everyday wear instead of saving them for special occasions. It hasn’t been an easy transition though. Old habits die hard. The idea of having dual wardrobes, one for going out and one for at home, is deeply ingrained!  

Obviously, I don’t wear sequins and sparkles to do the housework or to sit at my computer. Those are still saved for truly dressy occasions, but most of my wardrobe is now comprised of classy casual items that I’m comfortable wearing everyday at home or away.

I also make sure my earrings are in, I’m wearing at least a touch of make up, and my hair is done early in the day. I’m worth it and, if my husband is the only person who sees me that day, he’s worth it too! And, I’m never embarrassed to answer the door!

What do you wear at home?

Silver and gold!

LogoWhen I was young I wore only gold jewelry. I instinctively knew that it looked better on me than silver did. Sure enough, when I had my colours done in the 1980s, the analyst draped me in a gold metallic cloth and I glowed. Not so with silver. My skin had warm undertones and I was a Spring.

With the passage of time, however, I began to notice a change. As silver streaks began to appear in my hair, I realized that I could wear colours that I hadn’t been able to before, particularly black and white. I also began to add silver jewelry to my collection.

I particularly like pieces that combine both metals. I have several pairs of earrings and a favourite necklace that are part gold and part silver. I’ve always been especially thankful that the watch I received as a retirement gift from my employer is also both gold and silver as I wear it almost all the time.

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Until this Christmas, I wore three rings that I never take off (except when I’m undergoing medical scans that require me to remove all metal).  My engagement ring, my wedding ring, and my family ring are all gold. I’ve always thought that adding a silver ring would look odd, but my Christmas gift from my husband solved that problem! It’s both silver and gold!

 

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There’s a long story behind this beautiful and very unique ring. Last summer, we were wandering the shops in Jasper, Alberta with our oldest son and his family when I spotted a ring very similar to this one in Our Native Land, a gallery featuring authentic arts and crafts by Canada’s aboriginal artists. I fell in love with the concept; a wide band of sterling silver overlaid with a narrower band of 14kt yellow gold hand carved with a Northwest Coast motif. If you read my post about The Hazeltons last summer, you might remember how much I love the art and culture of the native peoples of the Pacific Northwest.

When our summer vacation was over, I couldn’t get that ring out of my mind. I began to do some research which soon led me to the website for Vancouver’s Douglas Reynolds Gallery. There I found a wide selection of wonderful rings including a couple of the style I had in mind. The website also referred to a book entitled Understanding Northwest Coast Art by Cheryl Shearar which is a detailed guide to the crests, beings and symbols used in Northwest Coast art. I had my local library bring it in and read it from cover to cover to help me decide what motif I wanted on my ring.

A Hummingbird Ring by Haisla artist, Hollie Bear Bartlett, was one of the ones that had caught my eye on the gallery website. The Haisla Nation are a subgroup of the Kwaguilth people, the group that I had focused on during my first anthropology course many years ago at the University of Calgary. According to Shearar’s book, the hummingbird isn’t traditionally a major motif in their art, but “it’s popularity today indicates that it has become a very important symbol of love and beauty.” Perfect!

I told Richard that this was what I wanted for Christmas, but the ring that was advertised wasn’t my size. He contacted the gallery to find out if it was available in other sizes and was told that they could have the artist make one in my size in time for Christmas. Even better! A ring made especially for me by the artist! Richard arranged to pick it up at the gallery on Dec. 23, the day after we planned to arrive in Vancouver for Christmas. By the time we arrived at the gallery, I was as excited as a little child waiting for Santa! After I tried it on, however, it went back in the box to be wrapped and placed under the tree at our son’s house until Christmas morn.

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The ring wasn’t the only piece of jewelry that I received for Christmas. Santa left this silver bangle in my stocking. I think he probably had some help from my daughter-in-law though! After all, she’s the wise young mom who tied a “courage bracelet” around her timid young son’s wrist to remind him that he could be brave and face whatever challenges come his way. My bracelet says “She believed she could, so she did” and I love it!

Please note: The individual ring photos are from the Douglas Reynolds Gallery website. The other photos are my own.