Celebrating in style

LogoThe Christmas season is upon us and with it comes a calendar full of festive events. I wanted something new to wear to some of them; something a little bit dressy, but not too formal. I found what I was looking for in this sweater from Cleo, one of my favourite Canadian fashion retailers.

 
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I like the fact that the trendy shark bite hem and the flattering pattern give the illusion of a more girlish figure than I’m actually blessed with. The shimmering metallic gold sections are subtle enough that I don’t look like a Christmas tree ornament and the sweater isn’t limited to the holiday season.

For the first of our Christmas events, a performance by our local theatre group (I was in the audience this time instead of on stage), I styled the sweater with skinny black pants and a favourite pair of booties.  It would also work well over leggings.

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A Christmas shopping suggestion

LogoIt’s December 1st and the Christmas season is upon us! I like to get my Christmas shopping done early before the mad rush begins, but if you’re still trying to figure out what to buy for some of the people on your list, perhaps I can help.

Kiva is an international nonprofit with a mission to alleviate poverty through micro loans. By lending as little as $25, anyone can help a Kiva borrower start or grow a business, attend school, or improve their living conditions. I’ve written several posts about Kiva in the past, but what I haven’t written about is the Kiva Store, a partnership between Kiva and its partner NOVICA, a mission-driven company that works with artisans around the world. By purchasing some of your Christmas gifts at the Kiva online store, where you’ll find unique and high-quality products (jewelry, fashion, and home decor) at very reasonable prices, you can help support the efforts of artisan producers and strengthen the fair trade movement.

Here are just a few of the over 1400 fashion items currently available through the Kiva Store.

The Kiva Store isn’t only for women though. There are many suitable gifts for men as well. Here’s one of my favourites.

If jewelry would suit someone on your Christmas list, the Kiva store has a vast array of necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, pins, and even anklets. Personally, I think this sterling silver cuff with amethysts and pearls is exquisite

and I could certainly see myself wearing these earrings! That’s the only problem with doing your Christmas shopping at the Kiva Store. You might end up ordering for yourself too!

Kiva ships to over 100 countries worldwide making it a truly global marketplace for both artisans and customers, but don’t wait too long to order. Christmas is just around the corner and you want your gifts to arrive on time.

One classic piece – endless looks

LogoWe all need a few versatile items in our closet that can be worn year-round and dressed up or down. With a timeless piece like this season’s soft, flowy Silk Blouse from cabi, the possibilities are endless. Its straight silhouette, classic shirt shape and Henley placket, will likely make it a staple in my wardrobe for a very long time.

Silk blouse

Cabi calls the warm neutral colour Dove, but one of my friends dubbed it “greige”, somewhere between grey and beige.

Worn loose over leggings or jeans, the delicate silk fabric adds a touch of class to a comfortable, casual look.

Rolling the sleeves and a little tuck quickly changed the look.

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The blouse also looks good peeking out from under a sweater, in this case the Regiment Pullover, also from cabi.

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For a dressier look, perhaps an evening out with hubby, I dressed it up with skinny black pants and a sparkly jacket that I picked up at our local thrift store a couple of years ago.

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One of my fashion goals this winter is to try new looks with old pieces, so I dug deep into my closet and pulled out this tunic/jumper from several years ago. Though I haven’t worn it for quite awhile, it was once a favourite and I couldn’t bear to part with it. I tried wearing it unbuttoned over the silk blouse and black leggings.

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For a dressier occasion, I might wear it this way.

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Lastly, though I’m happily retired, the silk shirt would also work well as office attire. Is there anything that says business better than a pencil skirt and pearls?

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With a classic piece like this one, the possibilities are endless! Which look did you prefer?

 

Shopping in style

LogoLately I’ve spent a few evenings helping sort donated items at our local thrift store. Last time, feeling a bit chilly, I took a sweater off one of the racks to wear while I worked. By the end of the evening I knew it had to come home with me!

This 100% acrylic hooded Vero Moda cardigan is lightweight yet cozy and warm; perfect for a day of Christmas shopping in chilly Alberta. Even at -8°C (17°F), I found that I could leave my winter coat in the car and dash from the vehicle to the store or mall, saving me the effort of hauling a bulky coat around with me. Like most of my thrift store purchases, the sweater is practically brand new.

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In the photo, you’ll also notice that I’m wearing a cross body bag. After writing a recent post about different kinds of purses, I decided to give one a try and I can only wonder why it took me so long! I found it much easier on my neck and shoulder, and I loved having my hands completely free. I’m definitely a cross body convert for long days of shopping!

Favourite fashion quotes

LogoFor as long as I can remember, I’ve been a collector of words, jotting down quotations that appeal to me whenever I run across them. Most of my favourite fashion quotes were coined by people in the fashion industry, but the first one listed here was spoken by a Greek philosopher in the 1st century AD. It still rings true today.

“Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.”  Epictetus

The others are more current.

“To me, clothing is a form of self-expression – there are hints about who you are in what you wear.”  Marc Jacobs

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.”  Rachel Zoe

“Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way you live.”  Gianni Versace

“Fashion is not necessarily about labels. It’s not about brands. It’s about something else that comes from within you.”  Ralph Lauren

“To me, style is all about expressing your individuality freely and courageously.”   Timothy John Byford

“Real style is never right or wrong. It’s a matter of being yourself on purpose.”  G. Bruce Boyer

As I read through these, I realize that they’re all saying the same thing. I like them because they express my philosophy of style. What we wear is, or should be, an expression of who we are and shouldn’t be dictated by the current trends, the world of advertising, or by what everyone else around us is wearing.

My cabi stylist, Linda Kreamer, once put it this way, “Fashion is fashion, but style is your own.” (I’m sure she didn’t realize that I grabbed my notebook and pen and jotted that down when she said it!)

Our style is what makes us unique. While it’s great to take inspiration from what others are wearing, we each need to put our own stamp on a look. I’ve shared where some of my fashion inspiration comes from here.

There is no one more unique in the fashion world than Iris Apfel. I have a whole collection of quotes just from her, but this one fits well with today’s message.

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

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Iris Apfel

Another of my favourite fashion quotes comes from a fictional character.

“You’re never fully dressed without a smile.”  Little Orphan Annie

And then, just for laughs, I can’t resist ending with these two somewhat irreverent fashion quotations.

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”  Mark Twain

“Girls do not dress for boys. They dress for themselves and, of course, each other. If girls dressed for boys they’d just walk around naked at all times.”  Betsy Johnson

 

Luscious lips

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LogoDid you know that lip colour fades with age? I didn’t either.

I was in my teens when I first tried wearing lipstick and I hated it. It felt waxy and it dried out my lips. That was when I decided that I really didn’t need it anyway as I was blessed with plenty of natural pigment in my lips. A bit of gloss was all that was needed to dress them up.

Not so anymore. I’ve started to notice that without lipstick, I often look a bit washed out. At first, I attributed it to the fact that my wardrobe is largely neutral in colour, but then I learned that as we mature, we experience natural loss of lip pigment. We also lose lip volume with age which accentuates the loss of colour.

So, lipstick it is, but how to choose from the myriad of options that are available?

Lipstick composition hasn’t changed much over the years, but I find that the moisturizing formula of Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick works well for me so I’m sticking to that brand. If you have trouble with lipstick drying out your lips, I’d recommend giving it a try.

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Once you find a brand that you’re comfortable with, there’s still the question of colour. So many choices! Here are a few tips that might help.

Choose colours that enhance your skin tone. If your skin has warm undertones, experiment with shades of coral, peach, copper, or bronze. If your skin has cool undertones, try mauve, mocha, cranberry, or wine colours.

Every woman can wear red, but we shouldn’t all wear the same red. As with clothing, especially anything worn close to your face, skin with warm undertones looks best with an orange-based red while skin with cool undertones looks better with a blue-based shade.

Unless you shop at a high end cosmetic counter that provides alcohol to clean the tester as well as sterile brushes or cotton swabs to apply the sample colours, you won’t want to apply the tester lipstick to your mouth. Rather than testing the lipstick on your wrist or the side of your hand, test it on the pads of your fingertips which are much closer to your lip colour.

For a subtle everyday look, choose a colour that’s just a bit darker or brighter than your natural lip colour. For dressier occasions, go for dramatic lips or eyes, but not both.

Don’t try to match your lip colour too closely to your clothing. For example, if you’re wearing a bright red dress, a lipstick in the same colour will be overwhelming. Perhaps try a darker shade.

Don’t forget that you can create your own lipstick colours by blending more than one. If one of my darker colours seems a bit too bold, I simply add a light coat of my more subtle everyday colour to tone it down a bit.

Most important of all, remember that these are just guidelines. Rules are meant to be broken. First and foremost, wear what makes you feel confident and happy and don’t forget, once you’ve coloured those lips, add a smile!

Please note: This is not a sponsored post.

What kind of purse do you carry?

When my husband and I were walking through the mall last week doing a bit of early Christmas shopping, I couldn’t help noticing how many women were wearing cross-body bags.

LogoDoes a woman wear her purse? If it’s a cross-body bag, I guess she does. That’s one of its main advantages. In addition to being a deterrent to purse thieves, a cross-body bag is a functional fashion accessory that offers easy access to its contents while allowing hands-free shopping. It definitely makes me wonder why I’ve never carried one!

Though there are many, many handbag styles, most of them would fall into one of four categories: cross-body, shoulder, satchel, or clutch.

Cross-body

Shoulder

Perfect for everyday use, a shoulder bag has a strap long enough to hang from your shoulder. Like a cross-body bag, it also leaves your hands free. Some shoulder bags have an adjustable strap so that it can be carried higher or lower on the body depending on your preference and height. Shoulder bags have always been my purse of choice.

Some shoulder bags, like the one shown here, have straps that are long enough to also be worn cross-body, making them very versatile. I actually have one of these in my purse collection. Perhaps on my next shopping trip, I’ll wear instead of carry!

Satchel

With one or two top handles short enough to be held in your hand or on the crook of your arm, satchels have a ladylike look, but I find them uncomfortable and impractical for shopping. Many come with a detachable shoulder strap which would help, but I would likely leave it on most of the time which would make the top handles redundant. I might as well buy a shoulder bag in the first place.

Clutch

Except for the occasional dressy evening out, I find a clutch, often with no handle at all and virtually no space to carry anything, the most impractical bag of all!

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What about you? What kind of purse do you prefer? Cross-body, shoulder, satchel, or clutch? Please leave a one word answer in the comments section, or if you prefer, explain your choice.