Dressing up and dressing down

LogoWhen my grandmother died, she left behind a drawer full of brand new towels and linens that she’d received as gifts. They were too nice to use, she’d always told us. My mother had a lovely set of china that seldom came out of the cabinet. Instead, she used her everyday dishes every single day. Many of us are like that with clothes. We have lovely things hanging in our closets waiting for special occasions that hardly ever happen. Why do we do that?

I grew up in an era when girls wore dresses to school and changed into play clothes when we got home. Perhaps that’s what taught us that certain clothes should be saved for good. As a result, we end up wearing the same things day in, day out and rarely, if ever, do we wear our nicer pieces. Maybe it’s time to change that! What are we waiting for?

Perhaps the middle of a stay-at-home pandemic isn’t the best time to suggest this, or maybe it actually is. Are you beginning to feel cooped up? Do you need a pick me up? I’m not suggesting that we clean house in our best clothes, but why not make a special dinner, chill a bottle of wine, light some candles, and dress up! And while you’re in your closet planning what to wear for your no special occasion, at home celebration, take a look and think about how some of your dress up clothes might be dressed down and worn more casually.

Here’s an example using photos from a couple of previous posts (here and here).

The same dress looks quite different worn with a jean jacket and sneakers.

Now let’s take a look at another example. This is the black lace Display Top from cabi’s Fall 2018 Collection. I wore it to one or two Christmas events that year and I think I’ve worn it to church a couple of times, but for the most part it’s simply been hanging in my closet.

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To me, lace says fancy, but it doesn’t have to be.

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I this photo, I’ve styled the top with the grey skinny jeans that you saw in last Friday’s post and a charcoal Bianca Nygard jacket that I picked up at our local thrift store several years ago. The silver threads running through the jacket fabric and its big sparkly buttons give it a dressy look, so this outfit is one that I might wear to a movie with hubby or lunch with my girlfriends. I’ve finished the look with a simple lariat necklace and one of my favourite pairs of flats.

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Dressing it down a bit more, I’ve paired the top with the same jeans, a grey blazer that’s been in my closet since my teaching days, and a pair of black ankle boots that were also thrifted. My Tudor Cross necklace from cabi finishes the look.

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For a truly casual look, I’m wearing the lace top and grey jeans with a classic jean jacket and sneakers.

So, do you have clothes that you only wear for dressy events? What could you do to style them more casually? Would you wear a dress with sneakers and a jean jacket or casual cardigan? Perhaps you have a sparkly sweater that you could wear with a pair of dark wash jeans or dress pants that you could wear with a t-shirt and sneakers.

Let’s not leave all our best clothes hiding in our closets!

What to wear while working from home

LogoIt may seem frivolous to be writing or even thinking about fashion in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, but I believe that maintaining some sense of normalcy in these trying times is wise and helps alleviate stress. For many of you, your new normal includes working from home, perhaps for the first time. While it might be tempting to let your appearance go, I’d like to suggest that you’ll probably be more productive and feel better about yourself and your current situation if you don’t.

If your workplace has a strict dress code, this might be a time to enjoy a more relaxed look, but that doesn’t mean lounging around in pyjamas. Instead, perhaps think of every day as casual Friday.

As a retiree, except when I go to a student’s home to tutor, which obviously isn’t happening right now, I “work” from home all the time. Once I retired, I didn’t need a career wardrobe anymore, but I still wanted to look like I mattered; like I cared about myself. Now I try for a classy casual look even on days when I have no plans to leave the house and I’ll continue to do that through these days of sheltering in place.

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This week, my “job” has included doing reams of paperwork related to the settling of my father’s estate and my temporary office has been the kitchen table. The animal print top and cardigan that I’m wearing here have both appeared on the blog before. They’re comfortable workhorses in my day to day wardrobe. Though you can’t see them in the photos, I’m also wearing dark wash jeans.

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I’ve always been a minimalist when it comes to makeup, but even on stay at home days I use mascara and a bit of blush. I also wear accessories. Layering necklaces is a thing right now, so I’ve been experimenting.

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Both these necklaces have special significance to me and lately I’ve been enjoying wearing them together. The string of pearls was a gift from my grandmother when I was just a girl and I was given the pendant necklace by a very close friend who died of breast cancer in 2006.

During my teaching days, I had a small home office in the basement, but when I retired it became a playroom for the grandchildren when they come to visit. Nowadays, when I’m not working at the kitchen table, one end of the living room couch is my “office”. This is where the blog happens and here’s what I was wearing as I finished up this post.

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Again, everything I’m wearing has been seen on the blog before, in this case skinny grey jeans and a favourite sweater both from past seasons of cabi. I could be working in pyjamas or sweats, but it only takes a few minutes to dress for the day and even if no one but hubby sees me, I feel better about myself and I like what I see when I pass by a mirror!

If you have school age children, you’ve probably had a second job thrust upon you in these unusual times; that of teacher or learning coach. As important as maintaining routine and some sense of normalcy is for adults, it’s even more important for children and getting dressed for school is part of that. Here’s what’s happening at my daughter’s house.

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photo: Melaina Graham

These three love to lounge around the house in their pjs, but right now they’re up and dressed for school each day in their new “classroom”. Mom and Dad are both working from home and each has a separate workspace in this same room.

How are you faring in these unusual days and what are you wearing?

Wear it 3 ways

LogoI don’t know about you, but I seldom shop for clothes online. I know I’m old school, but I like to touch and feel the fabric, examine the workmanship, and try things on before I buy. In these uncertain days when we should all be staying home as much as possible, many retailers are temporarily closing their doors and going to online shopping only. Rather than shopping for anything new, I’ll be playing with the things that are already in my closet. This is not a bad thing. In fact, it fits perfectly with one of my fashion goals for 2020… “I will strive to buy less and experiment with new ways to wear what I already have.”

One of the things that I like to ask myself when I’m considering adding something to my wardrobe is can I wear this at least three different ways with items that I already have in my closet? If so, it will probably be a good purchase. This won’t always work for something like a special occasion dress, but it’s a good rule of thumb for most other wardrobe purchases.

For today’s post, let’s look at three different ways to style an item from my closet. I randomly chose the Garden Blouse from the cabi Fall 2018 collection.

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Here’s a colourful, casual look suitable for daytime outings and lunch with friends. I’ve paired the Garden Blouse with my Brick Dust Skinny pants, also from cabi. They were part of the Spring 2018 Collection, but one of the things that I like about cabi is that the company is intentional about ensuring that new releases coordinate with items from previous collections so that over time a customer can build a cohesive wardrobe. I’ve finished the look with a cute pair of flats in a floral pattern similar to the top.

Now let’s glam it up a bit for an evening out with my hubby.

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I’ve tucked the top into a pair of dressy black pants, added the little jacket that has appeared on the blog numerous times before, and changed the accessories. Black isn’t the best colour on me, particularly close to my face, and I’ll be adding less of it to my wardrobe in the future, but for now I’ll be wearing what I have.

Though it was part of a fall collection, the blouse is very lightweight and the sheer sleeves and overlay are right on trend for spring 2020, so let’s look at a spring/summer look featuring the same top. I had to dig into storage for this one as I won’t be transitioning to my warm season wardrobe for awhile yet. We still have lots of snow on the ground here in Alberta, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

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As with many pieces in my closet, I can easily dress the Garden Blouse up or down and I can wear it with many other things that I already own. This makes it very versatile and greatly reduces it’s cost per wear. 

And yes, if you’ve been wondering, I do have a new hairdo. I actually had it cut a month ago, but I haven’t posted any pictures of myself on the blog since then. It looks a bit wild and crazy sometimes, but after fighting with my natural curls for much of my life, I’m embracing them!

Would you wear them?

LogoWith a friend who just flew home from Europe self-isolating and our own travel plans nixed for the foreseeable future, we are as aware as anyone else of the seriousness of the rapidly spreading and sometimes deadly COVID-19 virus. The outbreak in a North Vancouver care centre is just 1 km (0.6 mile) from our oldest son’s home and there’s now a confirmed case in Vegreville, the town 106 km (66 miles) northwest of here where my sister lives. All around us, events are being cancelled to help prevent further spread of the disease.

Clearly, this pandemic is no laughing matter, but I can’t help shaking my head in bewilderment over people stockpiling toilet paper! Toilet paper, of all things! I can understand the wisdom in having a reasonable supply of essential items on hand in case of any emergency, including the need to self-isolate, but panic buying of case upon case of toilet paper is absolutely ludicrous!

So, what does all this have to do with fashion? Not very much, actually, but in light of the present situation I have to ask, would you wear this?

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T-shirt available here.

If not, perhaps you’d prefer something slightly more unobtrusive.

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Earrings available here.

Would you wear them?

What’s in the suitcase this time?

LogoI didn’t actually think that there was going to be a Fashion Friday post this week. Life threw us an unexpected curve a few days ago when we learned that my very frail 96-year-old father had taken a turn for the worse. He isn’t expected to live and we’re once again on our way to Vancouver.

There were a lot of details that we had to take care of at home in order to clear our calendars and get on our way. Very little thought or planning went into what’s in our suitcase. Thankfully, we travel a lot and packing has become second nature to me. When I looked at the clothes laying on the bed in our guest room, which doubles as my packing room, I realized that I’d automatically chosen mostly neutrals and that everything coordinated so that I could put together many outfits with just a few items. The latter is a very important key to packing well.

We spent many hours on the road yesterday and at one point I found myself thinking about what was in the suitcase. I came to the realization that, for the most part, I’d packed what might best referred to as comfort clothes. Comfortable, yes, but also comforting. Clothes like my grey and white Breton t-shirt and my tan cords that feel like old friends. I may not be a shining fashionista in the things that I packed, but in these challenging days, I’ll be dressed in clothes that bring me comfort.

What about you? Do you have clothes that you instinctively reach for on days when you need comforting?

DIY winter moisturizing masks

LogoCold, dry winters here on the Canadian prairie are terribly harsh on skin. Awhile ago, my face was beginning to look and feel like parchment! My regular skin care routine simply wasn’t cutting it. I needed more moisture than my daytime lotion and night creme were providing. Being a frugal fashionista (and living where there isn’t a wide array of products to choose from) I looked no further than my kitchen for help!

That’s right! All you need for a do-it-yourself winter moisturizing mask is probably right there in your pantry.

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Unpasteurized honey has been used as a beauty treatment since ancient times, but what makes it such a great skincare ingredient? First of all, honey is a humectant, which means that it attracts and retains moisture. It also contains a number of vitamins and minerals, it’s a potent source of antioxidants, and it’s anti-bacterial.

Mediterranean women have also used olive oil as a moisturizer for centuries. Like honey, it’s loaded with nutrients, is a natural humectant, and is rich in antioxidants.

Cleopatra was renowned throughout history for her radiant skin and stunning beauty. Early records show that she added honey to her milk baths to keep her skin smooth and firm. Olive oil and honey facials were also part of her beauty regime. If these things were good enough for Cleopatra, I thought they must be worth a try!

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While either unpasteurized honey or extra virgin olive oil can be used alone, why not try one of these simple recipes for smoother, softer, well hydrated skin?

Exfoliating Mask

When I used this one, my face looked like a glazed doughnut, but it felt wonderful!

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • a few drops of olive oil

Mix ingredients together and apply to clean, wet skin in a circular motion. Avoid eye area. Leave on for about 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and follow up with your favourite moisturizer.

Salt has been used as a healing agent for centuries. It tightens, preserves, and acts as an exfoliant, removing stubborn dead skin cells and allowing new and healthy skin to emerge, but be very gentle with this mask as it is quite abrasive.

Gentle Exfoliating Mask

  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • a few drops of olive oil

Mix and use as above.

Moisturizing Mask

This one is my favourite! It’s so simple and soothing.

  • 1 to 1.5 teaspoons honey
  • 1 to 1.5 teaspoons olive oil

Mix ingredients. Apply to clean, damp skin. Leave on for 15 to 20 minutes then rinse thoroughly.

There are many more DIY recipes online that include other ingredients from your kitchen such as oatmeal, egg yolk, yogurt, and cinnamon but all you really need for an effective and inexpensive beauty treatment is olive oil and honey. You can use any of these masks weekly as needed. I used the Exfoliating Mask first and followed it with the Moisturizing Mask a week later. That was a couple of weeks ago and my skin is still thanking me!

Fashion trends for spring 2020

LogoIt’s still winter here on the Canadian prairie and will be for a couple more months, but when February rolls around I always begin to think about spring. Today, let’s take a look at 11 fashion trends for the season that lies ahead. I must be getting old as I’ve seen many of them come and go before. In fact, this season looks very much like a 1970s rerun!

1.  Crochet  

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Definitely not your Grandma’s doilies, but crochet is being seen in dresses, suits, tops, and evening wear. Runway looks are usually a little over the top for most of us, but I have fond memories of a crocheted vest in my high school years and I could certainly see myself wearing something like this.

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2.  Hot Pants  For those of you who weren’t around in the 70s and may not yet be familiar with the term, hot pants are teeny, tiny, ultra short shorts worn not as beach wear, but for much dressier occasions. Back in the day, I thought I was quite something in my black velveteen hot pants, but looking back I suspect that they weren’t particularly flattering with my toothpick legs. This is one trend I definitely won’t be revisiting!

3.  Neon Colours  You’ll never see me in head to toe fluorescents, but it would be easy to add a touch of this trend to your spring wardrobe by opting for a neon accessory. Perhaps a pair of sneakers, a purse, a scarf, or even a simple bracelet.

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4.  Bras  We’re not talking under garments or exercise wear here, but bras worn under blazers or alone with high waisted pants and skirts. Again, not something I’ll be wearing!

5. Suits With Shorts  If I was still teaching instead of happily retired, I could definitely see myself investing in one of these menswear inspired suits with Bermuda shorts. It’s a nice take on business casual and if the trend doesn’t last, the pieces could still be worn separately.

6.  Vests  Here’s another masculine inspired trend. Vests are being worn as part of three piece suits, mismatched with a blazer, or alone. I’m kicking myself for getting rid of the ones I wore back in the 80s or 90s. If I still had them, I’d definitely wear them again.

7.  Psychedelic Prints  Think 1960s wallpaper!

8.  Leather  Once reserved for fall and winter, leather is having a moment this spring. Brightly coloured and buttery soft, leather is appearing as skirts, pants, jackets, and coats. I’ll definitely be getting out my leather jackets as soon as the weather warms up a bit.

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9.  Polka Dots  Big dots, little dots, colourful dots, dots on dresses, dots on pants, dots on shoes… polka dots are everywhere! This is a trend that’s been around for awhile and shows no signs of fading. It’s one that I haven’t fully embraced yet, but I actually like both these looks. It’s also a trend that’s easy to introduce in smaller amounts with polka dotted accessories.

10.  See-through Sheer  Chiffon and tulle create airy looks that no woman in her right mind is going to wear as shown on the runway, but I’m sure we’ll see this trend translated into looks that will be very wearable. I’m thinking of sheer sleeves and overlays.

11.  Trench Coats  Nothing says spring like a practical, dependable trench coat. This is another trend that isn’t going anywhere. This year we’re seeing classic beige as well as some lovely feminine colours.

Clearly mine is still in style and I look forward to wearing it again!

Will you be wearing any of these trends this spring? If so, which ones? Do tell!