Function over fashion?

LogoMy friend, Kari, left an excellent comment on last Friday’s post that immediately triggered an idea for this week. She wrote, “When I choose clothes to go out these days I more often choose for comfort and function over fashion, but what makes my clothing functional has changed. I now think about things like if I can take a layer off to remove a layer of contamination after opening doors with my hip, elbow or touching a public surface. Will the sleeves be in the way for frequent hand washing? Will my hairstyle or headband keep my hair from getting in my face so I don’t have to touch my face to sweep it away?” All very valid considerations during the unusual days that we find ourselves in.

Apart from the Covid-19 pandemic, however, there are other times when it makes sense to consider function over fashion. Function was certainly a primary consideration in January when I bought new running shoes for walking on the treadmill.

Every now and then, a trend comes along that really doesn’t make sense functionally. Take the bell sleeves that were so popular a couple of years ago. The look was definitely fashionable, but not very functional. Unless the sleeves were short or three-quarter length, those bells were terribly impractical. I avoided the look for quite awhile because I didn’t want my sleeves dragging in my dinner and I certainly didn’t want to set them on fire when I was cooking! I eventually broke down and bought this top which is still hanging in my closet.

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I love the colour and the print and when I bought it I thought that once the trend had passed, I could remove the bells and be left with much more practical 3/4 length sleeves. Come to think of it, that might be a simple project to tackle while I continue sheltering at home.

Then there was the very popular cold shoulder look.

I never did buy one of those. For me, they’re a perfect example of fashion taking precedence over function. In my opinion, the purpose of a long sleeved top or sweater is to keep the wearer warm. I tend to feel chilly even when other people don’t, so why in the world would I want to leave my bare shoulders out in the cold? I’d be so uncomfortable!

With Covid-19, a new fashion item has entered the scene. Face masks started out as purely functional and very plain in appearance, but as people started making their own, they quickly became the latest in urban chic. This one was made by the mother of a friend of mine. Definitely not my best look, but very functional!

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Who would have thought that this is what we’d be wearing in spring 2020!

Who do we dress for?

LogoIn a comment thread on another fashion blog that I read recently, several women objected to the idea of dressing to work from home during the pandemic. They felt that they were just as productive in their sweats or pjs. One reader brought up an interesting question, however. “Who are we dressing for – ourselves or others?” she asked. “If we wear nice things outside the house, but not inside, do we do that to be complimented, to impress, to influence, or perhaps to display wealth?”

I think women, especially younger women, often dress to impress or attract men. I wish I could tell them not to bother! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to look attractive, but if a man is only interested in you for your looks, he’s not worth it!

More often, though they may not realize it or want to admit it, women dress to impress other women. Looking good in the eyes of other women often makes us feel better about ourselves.

To me, one of the best things about growing older has been reaching the point of not caring so much about what other people think. I choose to dress the same at home as I do to leave the house because I’m dressing for me. Wherever I am, I want to look like I matter, like I care about myself, and I want to have fun with how I dress. Of course, I also want to be comfortable and appropriately dressed for whatever I’m doing, so I’ll probably change if I’m going out to dig in the garden or wash the car!

I don’t suppose I’ll ever dress like Iris Apfel, but I definitely agree with her philosophy!

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Who do you dress for?

Inspired again

LogoTwo weeks ago, I showed you an easy jean outfit that was inspired by Brenda Kinsel, one of my favourite fashion bloggers. This week, Susan Street featured an outfit on her blog, Susanafter60.com, that immediately caught my attention because I knew that  I had similar pieces in my closet that I’d never worn together.

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Since spring has finally arrived here on the Canadian prairie, I did my seasonal wardrobe switch last week putting my winter clothes into storage and bringing out warm weather wear. As a result, my DIY white frayed hem jeans are back in rotation and were ready to become part of my Susan inspired outfit. The black and white striped tee and little black jacket, both from Montreal based Reitmans, stay in my closet year round.

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After deciding that I quite liked the look, I switched out the white jeans for the bright red ones that I found at our local thrift store two or three years ago and the grey flats for the brand new white sneakers that I showed you last week. And voila! Another outfit that I look forward to wearing when we finally have somewhere to go!

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They wanted to be mine!

LogoNever would I have imagined that a virus like Covid-19 would help me meet my fashion goals for 2020, but one of those goals stated that “I will strive to buy less and experiment with new ways to wear what I already have” and that is most certainly what has been happening! Unlike many women, I don’t like shopping for clothes online. I like to touch and feel the fabric, look at the workmanship, and try things on before I buy. Consequently, until this week, it had been over two months since I last bought a fashion item of any kind.

The last time we were out and about before we started sheltering in place, my husband wanted to check out a sale on men’s jeans at a Mark’s. Originally called Mark’s Work Wearhouse, Mark’s is a popular Canadian workwear and casual clothing retailer. Knowing that it would take hubby awhile to try on jeans and decide what to buy, I headed for the women’s section to browse. There, I spotted a pair of shoes that were part of a display and I immediately heard them called my name!

It was the quilted side panels and the little bit of bling that caught my eye and it was definitely love at first sight!

Changing direction, I made my way to the shoe department to try them on. They had my size. They fit perfectly. I walked around the store and they were comfortable, but then I reminded myself that I really didn’t need another pair of sneakers. Feeling quite virtuous, I bid them a fond farewell and left the store without them.

A few days later, a Mark’s flyer arrived in the mail and there were the shoes in a photograph on the very front page! I eagerly poured through the pages only to discover that they weren’t actually included in the sale. I even looked them up online to be sure. That was, perhaps, my fatal error! We all know what happens once you look something up on the internet. Every time I went online, there were those shoes calling out to me from side panels and advertising banners. They simply wouldn’t leave me alone! Scrolling on Facebook? There were the shoes. Reading the news? Those shoes again! Checking blogs? You guessed it. The shoes were there too! I couldn’t escape them. They really wanted to be mine, but I continued to resist. I didn’t need more sneakers.

Screen Shot 2020-04-29 at 2.32.40 PMThen one day it happened. They were there again, but this time, this is what I saw! Believe it or not, I continued to resist. I mentioned the shoes that wouldn’t leave me alone to hubby and he told me that I ought to order them. Finally, after days of arguing with myself and reminding myself that I really didn’t need another pair of sneakers, the shoes won out and I placed the order!

I was very impressed with the service I received. Not only has Mark’s done away with shipping fees for the duration of the pandemic store closures, but I ordered on Friday evening and the shoes were delivered to my door in a small rural community on Tuesday morning! On the other hand, I was less than impressed to discover that the price of the shoes has dropped even more in the few days since I bought them! Oh well, they really wanted to be mine and now they are! I’m sure we’ll enjoy a long and happy relationship!

Inspiration for an easy jean outfit

LogoAs you no doubt know by now, I read several fashion bloggers for “women of a certain age” on a regular basis. I’ve posted links to their blogs here. Every now and then, one of them posts an outfit that inspires me to try to create something similar from what I have in my own closet. I like to think of this as being inspired rather than copying!

This is exactly what happened about a week ago when Brenda Kinsel published a post entitled Easiest jean outfit recipe for the COVID season and beyond.

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The key ingredient in her outfit is her beautiful Dressori kimono jacket. I don’t have anything like that in my closet, but its denim colour brought to mind something that I do have, my cabi waterfront shirt from several seasons ago.

Though it can be worn as a button-up shirt, I much prefer to wear it open over another top.

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Here I’m wearing it with a pair of medium wash Gap jeans and a plain white t-shirt from Uniqlo. While Brenda fashioned her outfit to meet a friend for coffee at an award winning hotel and spa, mine is much more a relax at home during the COVID-19 pandemic sort of outfit. Even at home, however, I like to finish my outfits with appropriate accessories.

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I tried a long necklace first, but it didn’t play well with the ties on the waterfront shirt, so I decided to wear my black pearl heritage necklace from cabi instead. I added some simple silver earrings and my Nordgreen watch with its navy leather band. Since I was staying home, I also wore the SoftMoc slippers that I featured in last Friday’s post.

After reading that post, one of my friends told me that she thought I should get a commission because she decided to order a pair. Many fashion bloggers actually do monetize their blogs by advertising for various brands and receiving a small commission when one of their readers places an order. Some also receive free product in return for featuring it on their blog. Though the idea of free clothing does have appeal, I consciously decided not to try to go this route with my blog. When I mention a brand, such as cabi, Nordgreen, or SoftMoc, there’s nothing in it for me. I blog simply because I love writing and I love the connection that it gives me with you, my readers. Monetizing would make it feel like a job and possibly take some of the fun out of it. If I wanted to go that route, I suspect that I might also have to start a second completely separate blog so that I could continue to share opinion pieces that might not meet the approval of companies I chose to be affiliated with.

Slippers

LogoAfter a week during which I published a couple of fairly heavy posts about the fallout from Covid-19, let’s finish off with some fashion fluff! During this time when most of us are spending more time at home than usual, what are you wearing on your feet?

When I was growing up on the coast of British Columbia, we usually wore our shoes in the house. If I remember correctly, that was common in that time and place. Here on the prairie, however, almost everyone takes their shoes off at the door and when I settled here, that quickly became my habit too. Though I live in town, this is farming country and I suspect that taking your shoes off simply developed as a way to keep from tracking barnyard dirt into the house. It was a habit that served us well when we moved to Japan where homes traditionally had tatami mats on the floors and shoes are always taken off at the entrance.

My preference has always been to go barefoot, but since we live in a climate that isn’t conducive to that except for a few months of the year, I usually wear slippers in the house. Until fairly recently, my slipper of choice was a mule; comfortable and easy to slip on and off. Last winter, however, I took part in a falls prevention program put on by our local health authority. One of the topics that was covered was footwear. It was then that I really began to notice that my slippers weren’t very secure on the stairs which I usually go up and down several times a day. Since they were beginning to show signs of wear anyway, I decided to replace them with these.

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The moccasin style is warm and comfortable as well as much more secure on my feet and the rubber sole provides good grip when it’s needed. They’re available in eleven different colours and I notice that they’re even on sale right now.

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Whatever you’re wearing on your feet, I hope you’re staying home, staying safe, and coping well in spite of all the restrictions brought on by the pandemic!

Fashion and cosmetic brands join the war against Covid-19

LogoFashion may seem frivolous, especially in times such as these, but many in the industry have shown their true colours and joined the fight against Covid-19 in some very practical ways.

Take fashion designer, Christian Siriano, for example. Siriano, who has dressed the likes of Michelle Obama, Taylor Swift and Whoopi Goldberg, initially closed his studio due to the pandemic. After receiving special permission from New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, to reopen as an “essential” business, however, he gathered his team together and set up an assembly line to produce surgical masks. Working six feet apart, of course, they turned out almost 2000 masks in the first week of production.

Balenciaga, Prada, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, H&M, Zara, Hanes, and Uniqlo are amongst many other brands, both luxury and fast fashion, who have made the switch to producing masks. In addition, Prada has been financing the ICUs in three new hospitals in Milan and Gucci committed to producing 55 000 medical coveralls as well as more than one million masks. American department store chain, Nordstrom, has teamed up with Kaas Tailored to have their alterations teams in several US states sew more than 100 000 masks.

Joanna Griffiths, founder and CEO of Canadian intimate apparel brand, Knix, while exploring whether or not that company’s leakproof nursing bras could be transformed into masks, discovered that two of Knix’s main product vendors also own factories that produced PPE (Personal Protective Equipment such as masks and gowns). Deciding that the best way Knix could help would be to purchase finished PPE rather than reinventing their own product, Griffiths launched a GoFundMe campaign that surpassed its original goal of $50 000 in just 48 hours. Should you wish to contribute, the campaign continues and you can find it here.

Canadian winter coat manufacturer, Canada Goose, has pressed its factories in Winnipeg and Toronto into service producing patient gowns and scrubs for frontline healthcare workers. Jockey has been providing healthcare workers with Tier 3 isolation gowns and others using their resources to produce gowns, scrubs, and masks include Nieman Marcus working in conjunction with JOANN fabric and craft stores, and Gap Inc. which includes  the Gap, Old Navy, Athleta, Banana Republic, Intermix, Hill City, and Janie and Jack brands. Ralph Lauren is also producing masks and gowns  and the charitable arm of that company, the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation, is donating $10 million toward the global Covid-19 response.

You’ve probably heard about breweries producing antibacterial hand sanitizers, but they aren’t alone in that endeavour. Many cosmetic and fragrance brands have also turned their factories into production facilities for hand sanitizer. These include Estée Lauder, Guerlain, Parfums Christian Dior, LVMH, Givenchy, Coty, L’Oreal, and the Orly nail brand. Estée Lauder has also given a $2 million grant to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières to support relief efforts in countries that lack the resources to combat the virus on their own.

Shoe companies are also getting involved. Crocs is donating a free pair of shoes (including shipping) to frontline health care workers. If you’re a healthcare professional, simply visit their website to request a pair. Allbirds began by donating $500 000 worth of shoes to healthcare workers and others on the frontlines. Now they’ve launched a “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” campaign which allows customers who buy a pair of shoes for themselves to automatically provide a pair to a medical worker. If you aren’t interested in purchasing for yourself, you can simply donate a pair through the program. Find the information on this campaign here.

Numerous other fashion and cosmetic brands are finding unique ways to contribute to the worldwide fight against Covid-19. Fashion label, Michael Kors, pledged $1 million to New York based relief efforts with the designer himself personally pledging an additional $1 million. Saks Fifth Avenue is donating $600 000 to support patient care  and to address mental health needs in response to the pandemic. Kenneth Cole is donating 20% of sales to the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Response Fund. Body Shop is donating 30 000 units of cleansing products to shelters and senior centres across the United States and Canada. Finally, MAC Cosmetics is donating $10 million to 250 organizations worldwide that are committed to fighting Covid-19 as well as donating 100% of Viva Glam lipstick sales to vulnerable communities that have been impacted by the virus.

I’m certain that my research hasn’t turned up every fashion and cosmetic brand that is contributing in a meaningful way to the Covid-19 response. If you’re aware of others, please include them in the comment section and let’s all do our part by supporting these businesses both now and in the days to come!

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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!