How many is too many?

LogoI’m a little later than usual posting my weekly fashion piece today as I spent yesterday afternoon driving an hour each way to see my dentist instead of working on it. Thankfully, the tenderness and lump on my gum didn’t turn out to be an abscess as I feared it might and I won’t require extensive dental work! I’m also thankful that I don’t have to drive anywhere today. After listening to the wind howl all night we woke up to another dump of fresh snow. If you’re wondering why I’ve been complaining so much about this never ending winter, here’s a visual…

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March 20, 2017

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This morning… March 23, 2018

We’ve been golfing as early as April 8th, but this year I think we’ll still be snowshoeing! Hoping that spring will eventually come, I dug into the back of our entryway closet this week and took a look at my collection of warm weather jackets. I knew there were quite a few back there, but even I was surprised to find 23 of them! 23! Who needs 23 spring and summer jackets? Some are dressy, some are casual, and some are worn only for camping, but still, 23? At the very most, I can wear them for about 6 months of the year and I would hope that at least half that time I won’t need a jacket at all, so 23? That’s ridiculous! Obviously, this is the year to pare down that collection.

So, let’s take a closer look. What was in that closet?

  • 3 blue jean jackets
  • 1 grey denim with ruffles
  • 3 other cotton twill jackets (1 dark brown, 1 white, 1 patterned)
  • 4 leather jackets (1 black, 1 dark brown, 1 red, 1 white)
  • 1 faux leather 
  • 2 windbreakers
  • 1 fleece lined windbreaker
  • 2 quilted jackets (1 pale yellow, 1 olive green)
  • 1 anorak (so old that it’s back in style again!)
  • 3 hoodies (1 pink, 1 blue, 1 black)
  • 1 navy polar fleece
  • 1 trench coat

Just so you know that I’m not as big a spender as this makes me sound, all but 4 of these were either thrifted or gifted.

My question for today is how, when faced with a collection like this, will I decide what to keep and what to get rid of? Let’s begin by looking at trends. What do I have that fits with this season’s top looks? Three trends that I didn’t mention in last week’s post are anoraks, trench coats, and ruffles. Though I’ve had my light beige anorak for many years and I’ve worn it a lot, it’s still in very good condition and I still like it, so it will definitely stay. Though there are many versions of the classic trench coat available this season, they tend to be knee length or longer and quite roomy. Mine is shorter, almost a long jacket, and close fitting. It’s a bit snug on me and its one of those things that I actually think looks better on the hanger than it does on me. Trend or not, it will probably go. I had been thinking about getting rid of the grey denim jacket, but when I realized how trendy ruffles are this season, I decided to hang onto it for at least one more year.

Another important consideration is fit. When I featured my blue jean jackets a couple of weeks ago, I realized that one of them doesn’t fit as well as the other two. Since no woman really needs 3 blue jean jackets, that one will go.

Perhaps the best question to ask myself is which of these jackets do I love? Which ones will I actually wear often enough to make it worth keeping them? Brown used to be a staple in my wardrobe, but over the past few years, my love affair with brown has waned. Now I gravitate toward other neutrals instead. That means that the 2 dark brown jackets can probably go. One of the windbreakers hasn’t been worn for ages, so it should go too.

So far, that eliminates 5 jackets from the list, but 18 remain. In my mind, 18 is still way too many! What do you think? How many is too many and how do you suggest I choose a few more to get rid of?

 

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Spring trends for 2018

LogoI’ve complained a lot lately about how long winter seems to be lasting here on the Canadian prairie, but the days are gradually warming up and some of you live where spring has already arrived, so let’s take a look at a few fashion trends for spring and summer 2018.

Fanny packs

That’s right! 1980s looks are back and with them come the fanny pack, or as it’s called in some places, the bum bag. The popularity of this simple zippered pouch worn around the waist like a belt was short-lived in the late 80s and who would have thought that it would make a reappearance thirty years later? It doesn’t do much for the silhouette, but when you think about it, the fanny pack is very functional. It allows for hands free shopping and is great for bikers, hikers and travellers. In our family, the fanny pack’s popularity in the 1980s was literally a life saver. Our oldest son was severely asthmatic and had to carry his inhalers with him everywhere he went. Now his asthmatic niece and nephew carry theirs in fanny packs just like he did. Fanny packs are available in a wide variety of colours and materials.

Head to toe denim

Dark wash denim seems to be making a resurgence this season and it’s being worn from head to toe. Ignore what I said in last week’s post about making sure the washes are different! This season denim is all about a monochromatic and slightly tailored look.

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Sheer top layers

This trend allows us to show off as much or as little skin as we like depending on what we wear underneath. I can see a top like this one, worn over a simple camisole, looking good on a woman of any age.

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As the weather gets hot, I’m afraid that this transparent look could be a style that goes very wrong! Hopefully modesty prevails and everyone remembers that some looks are meant only for the beach or the bedroom!

Fringe

Full-on fringe was a big look on the runways of New York, Paris and Milan, but there are simpler versions of the trend, like this poncho inspired blouse, that might appeal more to the majority of us.

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Adding a fringed or tasselled accessory, such as a handbag or even earrings, is also a good way to bring this trend into your wardrobe in a smaller way.

Pastels and paintbox colours

Soft pastels are a classic spring staple and they’re especially big this year. If you shy away from these “ice cream colours” try pairing them with your darker neutrals. Yes, you can wear black in the spring and summer, but add a pop of something pastel to lighten up the look.

Bright saturated colours are also on trend this season. Think Crayola crayons in primary colours or the paintbox that you probably had in grade school.

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If you invested in a trendy pink piece last year, you’re in luck. Pink is still on trend for spring and summer this year and it’s being seen in every shade imaginable from the palest blush to neon. Yellow is also popular, especially in dresses.

So now that I know what some of the latest trends are, it’s time to take a look at my spring and summer wardrobe and see what I already have that will work again this year. Believe it or not, I have a black leather fanny pack from the 80s hidden away somewhere! I also have a fringed top and some tasselled earrings as well as a summer tote with tassels. I have golf shirts in bold primary colours and here’s a very casual head to toe denim look. The photo was taken almost a year ago, but my dark wash jeans and waterfront shirt from cabi’s Fall 2016 collection will definitely work again this year!

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Sometimes it’s hard to be humble

One of the characteristics of grace listed in yesterday’s post was “acts with humility, not pride.” As I pondered my One Word for 2018 and asked myself how I’m doing at becoming a woman of grace, I was also challenged to examine myself and wonder how I measure up in the area of humility.

The Bible has plenty to say about being humble. The book of Proverbs contains many warnings for those who refuse to put others before themselves and both the Old and New Testaments tell of blessings for those who do. Colossians 3:12 has become my life guide. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

There’s an old country and western song that says, “Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way!” I’ve also heard it said that if you think you’re humble, you probably aren’t. So how can we know if we’re humble or not?

After much reading and pondering, I came up with the following 20 characteristics of a humble person. I’m sure it’s not exhaustive, but I think it’s a reasonably good checklist.

A humble person…

  1. is not boastful
  2. is able to set aside personal preferences for the sake of others
  3. treats others with respect
  4. is not easily offended
  5. is grateful for what they have
  6. is able to rejoice with others
  7. is not wise in their own eyes
  8. is teachable
  9. is able to seek advice or ask for help
  10. willingly serves other people without drawing attention to themselves
  11. accepts their own limitations
  12. accepts correction without becoming defensive
  13. takes responsibility for their actions and apologizes when wrong
  14. is merciful, forgiving quickly and not holding grudges
  15. doesn’t get frustrated with the weaknesses of others
  16. is self-controlled
  17. listens to others and doesn’t feel the need to speak their mind in every situation
  18. is comfortable allowing others to have centre stage
  19. doesn’t always have to be right
  20. doesn’t insist on their own way

In a “me first” world, it isn’t always easy to be humble and there are many misconceptions about what it means. In the same way that being gracious is not the same as being wishy-washy or weak-kneed, humility is not a sign of weakness. Being humble is not belittling or undervaluing oneself, nor is it an indication of poor self-esteem. Like grace, humility is actually a strength.

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Growing in grace

With a thick blanket of snow still on the ground, it’s hard to believe that it’s the middle of March already. We’re two and a half months into a new year and an incident this week reminded me of my One Word for 2018.

Grace.

How am I doing? My initial response indicated to me that I still have some growing to do in order to become the woman of grace that I would like to be.  It also prompted me to think about what that woman would look like. How would she respond in challenging situations where it’s sometimes difficult to show grace?

Almost three years ago, Christian author, speaker, and Bible teacher, Kathy Howard, penned this list of 15 characteristics of grace (compiled from passages in Ephesians and 1 Corinthians) on her blog.

A person of grace…

  1. Doesn’t insist on being right, but seeks to make things right
  2. Is willing to be inconvenienced
  3. Seeks the welfare of the other person
  4. Speaks words that build up, not tear down
  5. Doesn’t demand to be heard, but strives to listen
  6. Focuses on others needs instead of their own
  7. Acts with humility, not pride
  8. Doesn’t keep score
  9. Looks for ways to help and encourage others
  10. Freely forgives
  11. Seeks to understand
  12. Doesn’t expect a return
  13. Focuses on the important over the urgent
  14. Doesn’t pick and choose whom to show grace
  15. Doesn’t overlook sin, but encourages holiness

I would also add…

16. Doesn’t always have to have the last word

After this week’s incident, I think perhaps I need to focus on #4. I consider myself quite gifted with words, but it’s a gift that can be used positively or negatively. I can speak life or condemnation. It’s pretty easy for me to write a scathing response to something that irritates or upsets me, but as a person of grace I would choose to use gentler words.

Does this mean that a gracious person is wishy-washy? Absolutely not! It’s entirely possible to be strong, even assertive, and yet still be gracious. Jesus was a perfect example.

That thought brings me to #7, another area for self-examination. Humility. But that will be the topic of another post.

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The always stylish denim jacket

LogoIn the world of fashion there are trends like the bell sleeves that I wrote about last week, that are often short-lived, and then there are timeless fashions that never go out of style. I’ve been thinking a lot about one of those lately. Perhaps it’s the fact that winter seems to be going on forever this year, but I’m getting very tired of my winter wardrobe and I’ve been dreaming of the day when I can begin wearing my denim jackets again.

The jean jacket is a classic fashion staple that’s comfortable, casual, and easy to wear. Created in the United States in about 1880 by Levi Strauss, it was originally designed as a durable, heavy-duty jacket to be worn by cowboys, miners, and railroad workers. Over time, however, it has become a wardrobe staple for men and women alike.

I don’t suppose any woman really needs three blue jean jackets, but all of mine are thrifted (I spent a total of less than $10 on them) and each one is different. For the purpose of these photos, I’m wearing each of them with my grey striped Breton tee and dark wash jeans. Yes, you can wear denim-on-denim! Just make sure the washes are different.

My favourite is a traditional jean jacket from Gap.

The second one, from Jones New York, is made of very lightweight denim. It has snaps instead of buttons and the pockets give it a slightly dressier look. It also has a bit of elastic at the sides for a closer fit.

The third, from Fylo, is a fitted blazer style. Its brass buttons set it apart from the others, but the faded denim keeps it looking casual.

Not all denim jackets are blue, of course. Here’s one that comes in a wide variety of colours and it’s on sale right now. I love the Monticello Peach! This cute one in a floral print is also on sale.

My black denim jacket (also thrifted) from Bianca Nygard has appeared on the blog a couple of times in the past. With its silver sparkle and big blingy buttons it is super easy to dress up, but it can still be worn casually as shown here.

What’s not to love about a denim jacket? It’s stylish and amazingly versatile. You can wear it with almost anything, so don’t save yours only for casual wear. Here, the second jacket shown above adds an effortless, casual vibe to a much dressier outfit. I’m wearing it with the Treasure Dress from cabi’s Fall 2017 collection. I seldom wear heels, but I thought these ones, passed down to me by my very generous sister-in-law, added to the dressy summer look that I was going for here.

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Now, if spring would only get here!

International Women’s Day 2018

Tomorrow, March 8, is International Women’s Day 2018. This year’s theme is #PressForProgress with an emphasis on pressing for progress on gender parity. The International Women’s Day website presents a strong call-to-action and gives many specific suggestions. Here are some that caught my attention:

  • question assumptions about women
  • challenge statements that limit women
  • always use inclusive language
  • work to remove barriers to women’s progress
  • buy from retailers who position women in positive ways
  • assume women want opportunities until declined
  • select women as spokespeople and leaders
  • support visible women
  • supportively call-out inappropriate behaviour
  • be a role model for equality
  • ensure credit is given for women’s contributions
  • celebrate women role models and their journeys
  • support awards showcasing women’s success

While these are all well and good, I question whether or not the “international” in International Women’s Day is being forgotten. I question whether these actions will make much difference to our sisters in parts of the world where girls are still forced to undergo female genital mutilation. Will they help the estimated 21 million unwanted girls in India, who often get less nourishment and schooling than their brothers? Will they help the 29 women recently arrested in Iran for protesting the obligatory Muslim headscarf by taking theirs off in public? Will they help the thousands of girls and women in Africa and Asia who walk an average of 6 kilometres a day to collect clean water for their households? Will they do anything for those who are the victims of human trafficking?

I’m not saying that life is perfect for women in the first world. The #MeToo movement has made it abundantly clear that we need to confront the widespread issue of sexual assault and harassment and there is no doubt that we need to continue addressing the issue of equal pay for equal work, but compared to women in much of the world, most of us have it pretty easy.

What, then, can we do to press for progress for women whose lives are so much more difficult than ours? First of all, we need to educate ourselves, to look beyond our comfortable lives and become aware of what the issues are and which reputable organizations are working to change them. If you’re serious about wanting to have an impact on the lives of women around the world, I would suggest that you begin by reading Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Pulitzer Prize winning journalists Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Kristof and WuDunn are upfront and clear; they hope to recruit their readers to get involved, to become a part of a movement to emancipate and empower women by helping provide the economic resources that can help transform brothel slaves into businesswomen. All too often, money in the hands of men goes to alcohol and prostitution but in the hands of women, it nurtures children, feeds families and promotes education. Half the Sky not only inspires the reader to get involved, it gives many suggestions how.

It was after reading Half the Sky that I began making micro loans to women in third world countries through Kiva, the world’s first online micro-lending platform. Kiva is a non-profit organization that allows a person to lend as little as $25 to a specific low-income entrepreneur in one of 83 countries around the world. When a loan is repaid, the money can be withdrawn or used to fund a new loan. Since making my first loan eight years ago, I have made a total of 44 loans to women in 19 different countries. To watch Kiva’s 59 second video marking International Women’s Day, click here.

What will you do to press for progress this International Women’s Day?

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Winter fun!

Today was supposed to be a weight lifting day, but when snowshoes are delivered to your door in the morning, it’s the first day without any wind in absolutely ages, and this is waiting just down the street, plans just have to change!

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Ever since our snowshoe adventures over the Christmas holiday, snowshoes have been on our shopping list and we finally ordered these ones from Costco. They’re Canadian made and we especially like the bindings with their easy-to-use ratchet buckles. They come as a kit with a carry bag and telescoping poles that can also be used as trekking poles in the summer.

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This winter seems to be lasting forever, but now that we have our snowshoes, I’m much less anxious to see spring arrive! Hopefully we have a few more opportunities to get out and enjoy the snow before it melts away. On the other hand, that is the golf course we’re snowshoeing on!