Kids these days!

I wasn’t actually planning to write a Fashion Friday post today, but this young lad showed up at our dining table this evening and I was inspired!

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So, where does a ten year old boy acquire a suit like that? What do you think it cost? Well, perhaps you’re in for a surprise! This is my grandson, Nate, who like me, is a frugal fashionista!

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The suit didn’t cost him a cent! During the current pandemic, a number of Facebook Buy Nothing groups have sprung up, so when he decided that he wanted a suit, his mom posted an “ask” to her neighbourhood group. Within a couple of days, his wish was fulfilled! The top hat was his gift from Santa last Christmas and he’s had fun with it ever since.

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Not only did Nate inspire this short post, he and his brother, Sam, helped me write it! Thank you, gentlemen!

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One woman’s cast-off is another woman’s treasure

LogoIf you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you’re already fully aware of the fact that I love thrift store shopping. Although I often come up empty-handed, every visit to one of our local second-hand stores is like a treasure hunt. 

After doing the seasonal wardrobe switch that I wrote about last week, there were things to drop off and as always, I also had to look around. I figure that as long as I come home with less than I take, I’m doing well! Sure enough, I found two items that I’m in love with!

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The tunic/dress is soft and cozy with just the right amount of stretch. It’s perfect for relaxing at home on a cool autumn day, but dressy enough to go out for lunch, pick up groceries, or stop by the library. I love the pockets and the 3/4 length sleeves and it was even made in Canada!

Then there are the booties! Here’s a closer look. 

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Aren’t they cute? They’re not something I’d walk a long way in, but they sure dress up an outfit. They were made in France and look almost new. The bare ankle with bootie look won’t work for very long in our climate. In mid winter it would mean almost instant frostbite, but it’s a fun look for fall. 

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While we were busy taking photos, our beautiful next door kitty came over to see what we were doing and had to get in on the action! Sophie considers us some of her people and is always curious about what we’re up to. The photo gives you another close-up of the booties as well as a look at the colourful beaded bracelet that I wore with the outfit. 

We live in a small rural community and often when I wear something from one of our local thrift stores, I wonder if the original owner will notice and what they’ll think of how I style their cast-off. Interestingly though, in spite of the number of things that I’ve donated over the years, I’ve never seen anyone wearing one of them. I hope whoever wears my cast-offs next are as happy with them as I am with my new treasures. 

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Transitioning to fall

LogoHow do you dress for this golden shoulder season known as autumn? I saw a headline this week that read, “It’s wear a sweater in the morning and regret it in the afternoon weather!” That pretty much sums up fall in my part of the world. When we get up in the morning, the temperature is generally hovering just above 0°C (32°F) and there might be frost on the ground, but by afternoon it has warmed up to anywhere between 18° and 25°C (64° and 77°F).

While running errands early one afternoon this week, I decided to take note of what other people were wearing. A man, sitting in front of the post office reading his mail, was wearing shorts, sandals, and a heavy fleece vest over his t-shirt! That kind of incongruous outfit isn’t as unusual as you might think. I also saw one woman wearing a quilted coat and a toque while another was working in her yard in shorts and a t-shirt!

In spite of this confusion, I decided that it was time to begin my seasonal wardrobe switch this week. Since I found myself reaching for the warmer items in my closet every morning and the true hot weather pieces were no longer seeing the light of day, I knew it was time to put most of those away and bring out my fall/winter pieces.

If you live where the weather is more uniform year round, you probably don’t have to go through this twice a year ritual, and I guess if I had a bigger closet I might not have to either. As it is, however, it’s much easier to have only one season’s clothes to choose from every morning and these seasonal switchovers are an excellent time to evaluate and decide what to keep and what to get rid of.

So, how do I go about doing that? Unlike some who advise getting rid of anything that hasn’t been worn during the current season or in the past year, I sometimes hang onto items that are excellent quality or that I love even if I haven’t worn them for quite awhile. Over the years, I’ve occasionally enjoyed resurrecting some of those items and have even shared a few of them here on the blog. This time, however, I knew that there were things in my summer closet that simply had to go. This required discipline because some were pieces that I really liked, but they were too worn out to keep or to pass on to anyone else. Others that don’t fit well or that I no longer enjoy wearing are destined for the second-hand store.

As I put the new season’s clothes into the closet, I turn all the hangers around. Then, when I wear an item, I turn it’s hanger back the right way. At the end of the season, if an item is still hanging backwards, it’s a clear signal that I need to consider whether or not to keep it.

There are, of course, some items that stay in my closet year round including sleeveless tops that can be worn alone in summer or under sweaters and jackets when the weather is cooler. This time, I also left a couple of pairs of favourite capri pants for those 25° afternoons. They won’t stay there all winter, but for now, we’re still transitioning!

Utility jacket for fall

LogoWhen I saw this post from Tania Stephens on her blog, 50 is not Old, several weeks ago, I thought how easy it would be for me to replicate her look with the Cabela’s utility jacket that I picked up at a garage sale last spring! As always though, the idea is to take inspiration from how another woman dresses, not to copy her exactly.

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Tania Stephens

Now let’s take a look at my take on Tania’s outfit.

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Both our outfits involve three simple items; a black t-shirt, an olive utility jacket, and a pair of blue jeans. Shopping Tania’s look in my closet, however, I started by choosing a darker wash jean than she did. I like her V-neck t-shirt, but since the only black t-shirt in my closet happens to be a crew neck, that’s what I’m wearing. Our jackets, though similar, are also quite different.

So, before we go any further, what exactly is a utility jacket? In a nutshell, it’s a practical piece that is commonly made from denim or cotton twill. They’re usually fairly boxy, with a collar and a button down front. Mine also has a zipper. Four pockets are most common, but as you can see, Tania’s has only two which gives it a slightly dressier look. Though originally a workwear item worn mostly by factory workers and farmhands, the utility jacket has been adopted as an enduring fashion trend and can be found in a wide range of colours and styles.

The main reason that I only own one black t-shirt is that black tends to wash me out, especially when I wear it close to my face. I can get away with it when I wear it under something like the olive jacket, but after creating my version of Tania’s look, I changed the t-shirt out for a cream coloured blouse with an abstract pattern of warm fall colours.

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Personally, I think that this is a better look on me.

I usually wear a medium, but my jacket is a large. After all, you don’t get a choice of sizes when you shop at a garage sale! It fits a bit loosely, but that’s actually one of the things that I liked about it. Layering is essential in our Canadian autumn. In fact, here I am wearing it over a lightweight hoodie and my ultra light down vest from Uniqlo on a chilly morning walk on our latest camping trip.

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When is an accessory not just an accessory?

LogoAccessories are the finishing touches that can take an outfit from drab to dramatic. They also add versatility to your wardrobe enabling you to create many different looks with the same basic outfit. Accessories are also an opportunity to express your personal style, taste, and preferences, but sometimes they are even more than that. Sometimes an accessory has special meaning or significance to the person who wears it. That’s definitely the case with my new hand-crafted zebra pendant!

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As many of you are already aware, the zebra is a symbol of neuroendocrine cancer (NETS), the cancer that I’ve been living with for the past eight years. In medical school, doctors are taught “when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras”. NETS was previously considered rare and therefore, a zebra. However, with increasing awareness and quicker diagnosis, neuroendocrine cancers are proving not to be as rare as once thought. Another reason that the Canadian Neuroendocrine Tumour Society (CNETS) chose and continues to use the zebra as their mascot is the fact that every zebra has its own pattern of stripes. Just as each patient and their needs are unique, no two zebras are exactly alike.

Committed to improving the quality of life and the survival rate for NETS cancer patients across Canada, every year CNETS funds research initiatives that will have a direct and meaningful impact on their lives. As a little-known cancer, it falls upon patients to raise much of the money for this ongoing work.

Screen Shot 2021-09-15 at 2.45.32 PMAl Gillis is a neuroendocrine cancer patient who came up with a unique idea for both increasing awareness and raising funds; a beautiful one-of-a-kind pewter pendant/keyfob featuring the CNETS zebra logo. Made entirely of donated materials and using only volunteer labour, the first distribution sold out in less one day! I was fortunate to nab one of those. Now, a second batch is in stock and going fast. If you’re interested in purchasing one and supporting this important endeavour click here, but don’t hesitate too long or you’ll be waiting for Al and his crew to make more!

You might also be interested in watching this video in which Al demonstrates and explains how the pendants (which can also be used as keyfobs) are made. I found it quite fascinating.

Do you have any accessories that are especially meaningful to you? Please tell us about one or more of them in the comments section below. 

 

The ancient art of henna

LogoThough I have nothing against them, I’ve never had any desire to have a permanent tattoo. For quite some time, however, I’ve wanted to try the ancient art of henna and I finally had the opportunity when I came across Dinkal Patel‘s booth at a recent community event.

While the use of henna is most often associated with India and Pakistan, it’s origin is difficult to pinpoint. It’s earliest use appears to date back to the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Cleopatra, the last reigning queen of that early civilization, is said to have used it to adorn her body and beautify herself.

In modern times, until fairly recently, intricately designed henna tattoos, or mehndi, were predominantly used as part of traditional Indian wedding celebrations. Designs symbolizing good luck, wealth and health are applied to the hands and feet of the bride the night before her wedding. It is believed that the henna will cool the body’s nerve endings and help keep her calm throughout her big day. This custom holds great cultural significance in Hinduism and the symbols that are used are considered sacred.

These days, however, henna tattoos have found their way into western culture where they act as a form of body jewelry. Though Dinkal does do bridal henna, the designs that she offered at her booth were more generic. After looking at some of the examples on display, I chose to have a floral design applied to the back of my right hand. I was astonished at how quickly she applied the henna paste. Working completely freehand, she was done in no more than ten minutes and charged only $15!

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Dinkal told me to leave the dried paste in place for 2 to 3 hours before removing it. I left it a little longer than that until it began to crumble and fall off. When I removed the remainder, because I didn’t know how henna dye worked, I was hugely disappointed. Most of the design was indistinct and looked like I’d simply spilled something orange on my hand or as hubby said, like I’d scraped my hand on the concrete!

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Dinkal had also told me to try to keep the design dry until the next day, so even though it didn’t look like the henna was going to amount to much, I followed her instructions. That’s a little tricky to do when it’s on your right hand, but hubby took over supper making for the day and I kept it out of water. As the evening progressed, I thought perhaps it was beginning to darken, but I chalked that up to wishful thinking or an overactive imagination. Imagine my surprise and delight when I woke up the next morning and this is what I saw!

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The design continued to darken until it looked like this at the end of the following day. I was delighted!

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Over the next week or so, had numerous comments and compliments, even from total strangers! The most frequently asked questions were where I’d had it done and how long it would last. Though I’d read that henna tattoos can last from 1 to 4 weeks, Dinkal told me to expect about a week and a half and it appears that she was correct. Here’s how it looked at the end of day 8. Gradually disappearing, but not yet unattractive.

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By yesterday morning, almost two weeks after the henna was applied, only the darkest bits remained. There was no design left on the back of my hand, just a smattering of brown dots. I did some research into how to remove faded henna tattoos and found several different suggestions. The most common ones involved baking soda and lemon juice. Another suggestion that sounded like it would be kinder to my skin involved using either baby oil or coconut oil. I didn’t have either of those on hand, so I decided to try olive oil which, like henna, has been used on skin since ancient times. It’s loaded with nutrients, is a natural humectant, and is rich in antioxidants. I applied it to the back of my hand, left it for 10 minutes, then gently scrubbed it off using a facecloth and hand soap. It worked like a charm! The designs at the ends of my fingers, though faded, still looked okay, so I left them for now.

Next time… and yes, I’m pretty sure there will be a next time… I’d like to try a henna tattoo on my shoulder or forearm. Since my hands are in and out of water constantly, I thinking that perhaps it would last a little longer in one of those locations.

Happy 100th Birthday, Iris Apfel!

American fashion icon, Iris Apfel, famous for her colourful eclectic style and her oversized glasses, will celebrate her 100th birthday on Sunday!

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On August 19th, her Instagram post read..

10 days left of 99… Then comes 100, it feels divine!!!

In 2005, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City said this about Apfel and it still holds true today, “An American original in the truest sense, Iris Apfel is one of the most vivacious personalities in the worlds of fashion, textiles, and interior design, and over the past 40 years, she has cultivated a personal style that is both witty and exuberantly idiosyncratic. Her originality is typically revealed in her mixing of high and low fashions – Dior haute couture with flea market finds, 19th-century ecclesiastical vestments with Dolce & Gabbana lizard trousers.”

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On the eve of her 100th birthday, Apfel continues to work because she wants to. “I want to stay alive,” she said in a recent interview. “If I stopped working, I’d be gone.” This year alone, she curated a line of home products for Lowe’s (long before she became a fashion icon, she was an interior designer), teamed up with Etsy to offer “Iris Apfel’s Fashion Favorites” on the online marketplace, and is designing eyewear collections for Zenni Optical as part of a four-year-deal with the company.

While I don’t aspire to dress like Iris Apfel, I do like how she thinks. Here are a few of my favourite Iris quotes… 

“You have to look in the mirror and see yourself. If it feels good, then I know it’s for me. I don’t dress to be stared at, I dress for myself.”

“When you don’t dress like everybody else, you don’t have to think like everybody else.” 

“Fashion you can buy, but style you possess. The key to style is learning who you are, which takes years. There’s no how-to road map to style. It’s about self expression and, above all, attitude.”

I also like what she says about age…

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Sunday is also my beautiful daughter’s birthday, so Happy Birthday, Iris Apfel and Happy Birthday, Melaina!

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Dream jeans

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When I spotted these yellow capri length jeans in one of our local thrift stores, I immediately recalled a message that I received from my daughter a few months ago.

I had a ridiculous dream that you were in last night. We went shopping together and you tried on this pair of bright yellow skinny jeans. They looked fantastic on you, but you weren’t sure you wanted bright yellow jeans. So I thought I’d just carry them while we looked around this HUGE store more, and then forgot I had them. You left before I did and then after I’d left the store I realized I was still carrying, and had accidentally shoplifted, these jeans! So the rest of the dream was me trying to sneak them back into the store without getting caught! But then I wandered the store for a long time, still with the jeans, trying to decide if I should just buy them for you! hahahaha!

I’m not a great believer in dreams, but this one seemed to be telling me something! I’ve never worn yellow pants before, but I had to at least try them on! They fit perfectly and at $2.50 they were pretty much a steal, so now they’re mine.

Of course, once I got them home, the challenge was to style them with pieces that were already in my closet. I was surprised to find out how many tops I had that looked good with yellow! In these photos I’ve styled the pants with a sleeveless top that was also thrifted. Though black and white tend to look too harsh on me, the overall geometric pattern gives the appearance of a softer grey which is much more flattering to my complexion.

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I had hoped to show you one or two other combinations as well, but we had a very difficult time getting quality photos for this post. At the time when these were taken, the air was full of smoke from distant wildfires which affected the lighting quite drastically. These were the best we got, so I decided to go with them in spite of the fact that the pants are actually a bit brighter than they appear here. Poor hubby, who had hardly ever had a camera in his hands until I added Fashion Friday to my blog, is my willing and patient accomplice, but I can only ask so much of him!

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Sex or sport?

LogoI’m not really a sports fan, but one thing that has caught my attention recently is the controversy over uniforms. I know that this is a much talked about topic on social media this week, but I decided to add my two cents’ worth here.

The Norwegian women’s beach handball team garnered support from scores of fans when they protested the European Handball Federation’s misogynist rules by wearing shorts instead of the required bikini bottoms during a championship game against Spain at the European Beach Handball Championships in Bulgaria last week.

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The shorts that the women wore were deemed “improper” and the team was fined €1500! The second photo shows the approved uniform.

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Something is very wrong with this picture! According to the International Handball Federation regulations, “The beach handball female player’s uniform consists of tops and bikini bottoms…the women’s tops (a midriff design) must be close fitting…with deep cutaway armholes on the back. Female athletes must wear bikini bottoms…with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg. The side width must be a maximum of 10 centimetres.” On the other hand, the rules state that male players are to wear shorts, 10cm above the knee, that are not “too baggy”.

Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky, but I’m so tired of living in a world where there are different standards for men than for women; where women are admired first for their sex appeal and not for what they’re capable of doing.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Shortly after the news broke, American singer and songwriter, Pink, took to Twitter to voice her support for the Norwegian women and promising to pay the fine on their behalf. While the European Handball Federation hasn’t backtracked and withdrawn the fine in response to the negative press, they have acknowledged the position taken by the players and announced that the fine will be donated to the Norwegian Handball Federation. They did not, however, state that fines wouldn’t be issued in the future.

The Norwegian gals aren’t the only ones to reject the sexualization of sport. Germany’s women’s gymnastics team is wearing full-body unitards at the Tokyo Olympics instead of the high-cut leotards worn by other teams. They first donned this new look in April at the European championships in Basel, Switzerland. At that time, the German Gymnastics Federation released a statement saying, “The aim is to present themselves aesthetically without feeling uncomfortable.” Perhaps the European Handball Federation needs to listen up! Gymnastics attire with full or half sleeves and leg coverings are allowed in competition, as long as the colour matches the leotard.

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The question is whether or not other elite athletes will follow suit (pun intended)? Change will only happen if the women themselves say “no more” to sexism in sport.

Are you high maintenance?

LogoWhen we travelled to Europe two years ago I learned that I could easily fit everything I needed for three and a half weeks away from home in a teeny, tiny carry-on, but when we take the vehicle, moderation or minimalism go out the window! After all, there’s a lot of space in a large SUV! On the way home from our recent trip to Jasper, we spent the weekend in Edmonton with our son and his family. I took some good-natured teasing from both hubby and son when they discovered that I’d packed six pairs of shoes for one week away! I was laughingly told that I’m high maintenance.

That led me to wonder… what makes a woman high maintenance? One definition I found online says that a high maintenance woman “places a strong emphasis on her own image, wants, needs, and desires. Her feelings are her highest priority, and she expects everyone around her to conform to her self-created worldview and value.” Ouch! That’s certainly not the kind of woman I want to be!

As often happens, the idea for this post took me down several online rabbit trails looking for information about what people really mean when they refer to a woman as high maintenance. I found lists that included traits such as needy and controlling, self-obsessed, hard to please, always plays the victim, wants you to be her personal chauffeur, makes you feel like her errand boy. Interestingly, most of these were written by men. I can’t help wondering how many of them were coming out of a bad relationship when they wrote these things!

I also found several “How high maintenance are you?” quizzes that assign points to traits such as wears high heels every day, owns 20+ pairs of shoes, wears makeup daily, takes 15+ minutes to apply makeup, buys high end makeup, has painted nails, wears acrylic nails, has nails done professionally, has a regular pedicure, gets a massage regularly, wears a lot of jewelry, carries a designer purse, etc. According to those, I am definitely NOT high maintenance!

Clearly, there are women (and men) who excel at self-indulgence and others who take absolutely no interest or pleasure in their own appearance. Then there are the rest of us who fall somewhere in the middle. Not only do we not really know for sure if we’re high maintenance, we probably don’t even care! Instead of worrying about whether or not I’m high maintenance, I prefer to focus on what kind of person I am. Am I a person of integrity? Am I kind, compassionate, and self-controlled? Do I exhibit patience and humility in dealing with others?

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And now, about the six pairs of shoes! I took my hiking shoes, my walking shoes, my white leather sneakers, a pair of casual flats, and two pairs of sandals. I wore all of them except the dressy sandals which I would have worn to church except that it was cool and rainy that morning. Instead, I wore the flats. Come to think of it, I actually had my water shoes with me too and wore them when we went kayaking. And my rubber boots were in the back of the vehicle! They stay there all summer in case they’re needed when we’re camping.

Don’t anyone tell my husband or my son that I actually had eight pairs of footwear with me! 🤣