3Cs… classy, confident, and comfortable

LogoIn one of her most recent posts, Pam Lutrell of Over 50 Feeling 40, one of my favourite fashion blogs, presented her readers with a lengthy list of adjectives and asked us to choose the top three that we would like our wardrobes to say about us. I chose classyconfident, and comfortable.

In my mind, the first two go hand in hand. When I know I look good, I feel like I can conquer the world and to me looking good means dressing with class.

As I mentioned in last Friday’s post, now that I’m retired, I want my wardrobe to be what I would call classy casual.

Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 3.45.05 PM

So what makes an outfit classy? There are no one size fits all rules, but here are a few tips to help:

Learn how to dress your body type  –  What looks good on some of my curvy girlfriends might do nothing at all for my boyish figure and vice versa. Look for garments that highlight your best features and don’t draw attention to the ones that you’d rather conceal.

Fit  –  In the words of Stacy London and Clinton Kelly of What Not to Wear fame, “If you don’t have fit, you don’t have style.” The key is to try things on and look in the fitting-room mirror with a critical eye. Do shoulder seams lie in the right place? Are armholes sufficiently high without cutting into your armpits? Does the garment pull across your shoulder blades? Is the length appropriate? Is there puckering or wrinkling anywhere? If you’re unsure about fit, try on another size for comparison. Then, if you’re seriously considering buying an item, leave the dressing room and head for the three-way mirror! Don’t buy anything without first checking the fit from behind!

Know which colours look best with your complexion  –  Wearing the right colours can make your hair look radiant, your eyes pop, and your skin glow. On the other hand, the wrong colours, especially worn close to your face, will make you look tired or washed out.

Modesty  –  I’m not talking about hiding under a nun’s habit or a burqa here, but there’s nothing classy about overexposure! Unless you’re at the beach or beside the pool, keep your cleavage and your belly button covered. Underwear is meant to be worn under what you’re wearing, so keep your bra straps out of sight too and please, please remember that leggings are not pants! Make sure your butt and your crotch are covered. ‘Nuff said!

Accessorize, but don’t overdo it  –  Jewelry is meant to enhance an outfit, not overpower it. In my opinion, understated is better than garish or overly ostentatious. Scarves are a great way to add colour and visual interest to an outfit and don’t forget that your shoes are also an accessory. There’s nothing like a cute shoe to add a little class!

When it comes to classy, confident dressing, learn to trust your instincts. Wear what makes you feel like your best self. Think about the outfits that you feel happiest wearing and the ones that you receive the most compliments on. Chances are, they make you look classy. And don’t forget that dressing classy doesn’t have to cost a lot. Yes, you could spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on designer clothes, but you can also find comparable looks at reasonable prices, and if you’re like me, you might even find some wonderful buys in your local thrift stores! Check here for 18 tips to help you!

Comfortable is my final C word and to me, that’s a no brainer! Regardless of how well a garment fits and whether or not the colour suits you, if you don’t find it comfortable or you don’t like the texture of the fabric, you won’t enjoy wearing it.

What words would you choose to describe what you would like your wardrobe to say about you?

 

Advertisements

What do you wear at home?

LogoWhat do you wear when you’re home alone or when only family is there to see? Have you ever been embarrassed by your appearance when someone came to the door unexpectedly?

At 65, I grew up in an era when we had separate clothes for school and play. The very first thing we did when we got home was to change into play clothes. Throughout my teaching career, I continued to have a work wardrobe and at-home clothes which usually consisted of blue jeans and a t-shirt or a sweatshirt. I really didn’t pay much attention to my appearance when I was at home. 

Once I retired, however, I realized that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life looking sloppy. I didn’t need a work wardrobe anymore, but I still wanted to look like I mattered; like I cared about myself. I began to read a few fashion blogs for older women to try to figure out what I wanted my new everyday style to be. Now I try for a classy casual look even on those days when I have no plans to leave the house.

I still wear jeans. In fact, they’re an absolute staple in my wardrobe. I even wear them to church sometimes. I wear t-shirts too, but there are t-shirts and then there are t-shirts. I’ll wear one like this

cabi ernest tee

or this

IMG_5332 - Version 2

but very rarely one like this.

cnets canada

I consider the first two classy, but the third one, not so much! The only reason it’s in my wardrobe at all is because it bears a very important message.

I don’t wear sweatshirts at all anymore except when I’m camping. A nice sweater is just as comfortable and it looks so much better.

One of the things that I’ve been trying to do lately has been to bring some of my dressier items into my everyday wear instead of saving them for special occasions. It hasn’t been an easy transition though. Old habits die hard. The idea of having dual wardrobes, one for going out and one for at home, is deeply ingrained!  

Obviously, I don’t wear sequins and sparkles to do the housework or to sit at my computer. Those are still saved for truly dressy occasions, but most of my wardrobe is now comprised of classy casual items that I’m comfortable wearing everyday at home or away.

I also make sure my earrings are in, I’m wearing at least a touch of make up, and my hair is done early in the day. I’m worth it and, if my husband is the only person who sees me that day, he’s worth it too! And, I’m never embarrassed to answer the door!

What do you wear at home?

Silver and gold!

LogoWhen I was young I wore only gold jewelry. I instinctively knew that it looked better on me than silver did. Sure enough, when I had my colours done in the 1980s, the analyst draped me in a gold metallic cloth and I glowed. Not so with silver. My skin had warm undertones and I was a Spring.

With the passage of time, however, I began to notice a change. As silver streaks began to appear in my hair, I realized that I could wear colours that I hadn’t been able to before, particularly black and white. I also began to add silver jewelry to my collection.

I particularly like pieces that combine both metals. I have several pairs of earrings and a favourite necklace that are part gold and part silver. I’ve always been especially thankful that the watch I received as a retirement gift from my employer is also both gold and silver as I wear it almost all the time.

IMG_5405

Until this Christmas, I wore three rings that I never take off (except when I’m undergoing medical scans that require me to remove all metal).  My engagement ring, my wedding ring, and my family ring are all gold. I’ve always thought that adding a silver ring would look odd, but my Christmas gift from my husband solved that problem! It’s both silver and gold!

 

IMG_5415

There’s a long story behind this beautiful and very unique ring. Last summer, we were wandering the shops in Jasper, Alberta with our oldest son and his family when I spotted a ring very similar to this one in Our Native Land, a gallery featuring authentic arts and crafts by Canada’s aboriginal artists. I fell in love with the concept; a wide band of sterling silver overlaid with a narrower band of 14kt yellow gold hand carved with a Northwest Coast motif. If you read my post about The Hazeltons last summer, you might remember how much I love the art and culture of the native peoples of the Pacific Northwest.

When our summer vacation was over, I couldn’t get that ring out of my mind. I began to do some research which soon led me to the website for Vancouver’s Douglas Reynolds Gallery. There I found a wide selection of wonderful rings including a couple of the style I had in mind. The website also referred to a book entitled Understanding Northwest Coast Art by Cheryl Shearar which is a detailed guide to the crests, beings and symbols used in Northwest Coast art. I had my local library bring it in and read it from cover to cover to help me decide what motif I wanted on my ring.

A Hummingbird Ring by Haisla artist, Hollie Bear Bartlett, was one of the ones that had caught my eye on the gallery website. The Haisla Nation are a subgroup of the Kwaguilth people, the group that I had focused on during my first anthropology course many years ago at the University of Calgary. According to Shearar’s book, the hummingbird isn’t traditionally a major motif in their art, but “it’s popularity today indicates that it has become a very important symbol of love and beauty.” Perfect!

I told Richard that this was what I wanted for Christmas, but the ring that was advertised wasn’t my size. He contacted the gallery to find out if it was available in other sizes and was told that they could have the artist make one in my size in time for Christmas. Even better! A ring made especially for me by the artist! Richard arranged to pick it up at the gallery on Dec. 23, the day after we planned to arrive in Vancouver for Christmas. By the time we arrived at the gallery, I was as excited as a little child waiting for Santa! After I tried it on, however, it went back in the box to be wrapped and placed under the tree at our son’s house until Christmas morn.

IMG_5410

The ring wasn’t the only piece of jewelry that I received for Christmas. Santa left this silver bangle in my stocking. I think he probably had some help from my daughter-in-law though! After all, she’s the wise young mom who tied a “courage bracelet” around her timid young son’s wrist to remind him that he could be brave and face whatever challenges come his way. My bracelet says “She believed she could, so she did” and I love it!

Please note: The individual ring photos are from the Douglas Reynolds Gallery website. The other photos are my own.

 

One word for 2018

A year ago, as part of a ministry that I was involved in, I was asked to choose one word to inspire or guide me in the coming year and to choose a scripture verse to go along with it. As a lover of words, this was a perfect assignment for me! I have since learned that there’s a whole #OneWord365 movement on the internet urging members to choose just one word to focus on every day, all year long; a word that sums up who they want to be or how they want to live.

Last year, my one word was still and the Bible verse I chose to accompany it was Psalm 46:10. “Be still and know that I am God.”

This year, I decided to repeat the exercise with a new word for 2018. After much consideration, I chose the word grace. I would like to be known and remembered as a woman of grace. The scripture passage that has become my life guide in recent times is Colossians 3:12. Though it doesn’t actually use the word, I think it epitomizes grace. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

There are, of course, many Bible verses that do include the word grace. One that comes quickly to mind, especially so close on the heels of the Christmas season, is John 1:14. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Christ was full of grace! I want this to be a year when I become a little more like Him; a little more compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient. This year, I want to be intentional (that’s another word I considered as my one word for 2018) about offering grace to other people in practical ways.

In order to do that, I also need to look at what grace is not. Grace is not simply being nice. It’s not a peace at all costs, everything’s okay, and who am I to judge mentality. Sometimes grace includes confronting difficult issues and not shying away from controversial subjects. Sometimes it means talking honestly about the ugly, painful, and sordid struggles in our lives. It is honouring the dignity of others even when I don’t agree with them or their choices. Thankfully, offering this kind of grace is not something that I have to figure out how to do on my own.

When C.S. Lewis was asked to identify the one thing about Christianity that sets it apart from all other religions, he responded, ″Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.″ Biblical grace is the unmerited favour of God bestowed freely on all who choose to access it by accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. This year and every year, I can rest in God’s gentle, extravagant, audacious grace, knowing that He is God Almighty and I am His beloved daughter. It is He who enables me to offer grace to others.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  Hebrews 4:16

One Word 2018

What about you? Can you think of one word to inspire or guide you in this new year?

Hello Uniqlo!

LogoI was first introduced to Uniqlo, Japan’s hugely popular casual apparel giant, when we visited our son and daughter-in-law in Japan in 2005. At over six feet tall, it was the one place where Matt was able to find clothing that fit. When we lived in Japan in 2008-2009, I would often jump on my bicycle and ride over to the nearby Uniqlo store (pronounced you-nee-klo) to see what was on sale. I really missed it when we returned to Canada, so I was delighted to find a Uniqlo store an easy bus ride away from our apartment in Dalian, China when we lived there in 2013. I was able to add several basic items to the rather minimalist wardrobe that I’d brought with me. Until this week, the last time I was inside a Uniqlo store was in July of that year!

Uniqlo finally came to Canada in September 2016 with the opening of an outlet in Toronto’s Eaton Centre and I was sure it would only be a matter of time until a store would open in Greater Vancouver. On October 6th of this year, that prediction came to pass with the opening of western Canada’s first Uniqlo in Metropolis at Metrotown. That’s still a two day drive from home for me, but I knew then that I’d be checking it out during our Christmas visit!

I’ve significantly revamped my winter wardrobe over the past couple of years, however, and I’ve decided to declare a moratorium on purchasing new items for awhile, so I wasn’t really looking to buy anything. In spite of my good intentions, I did come away with one item, a pair of light grey fleece-lined wind pants that I’m hoping will work well for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and other outdoor pursuits. At almost 70% off their regular price, I simply couldn’t resist! If they aren’t warm enough on their own, they’ll fit comfortably over a pair of leggings.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a picture on the Uniqlo website and my photographer has gone to bed! By the time this posts early tomorrow morning, we’ll be up and ready to begin our long drive through the mountains back to Alberta.

I’m planning to be in Vancouver again in the spring or early summer, so I look forward to seeing what Uniqlo has to offer then, but I’m also hoping that one of these days the chain will open a store closer to home in West Edmonton Mall!

I resolved…

I quit making New Years resolutions many years ago because I found that by doing so I was simply setting myself up for failure. Last year, however, I resolved to read at least two books every month because I knew that I was wasting too much time online. I felt that reading, which I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed, would be a valuable and measurable alternative.

So, how did I do?

In order to monitor my success, I kept a month by month list of all the books I read in 2017. While I marginally exceeded my goal for the year by reading 26 books in all, there were some months when I read more than two and others where I finished none or only one.

More importantly, did reading cut down on my online time?  

I’m really not sure. I use the internet for a wide variety of purposes including reading the news, communicating with friends and family around the world, editing, and of course, writing my blog. I consider all of those to be valuable ways to use my time, but it’s the time that I was spending repeatedly checking my email accounts, Facebook and my blog stats that I wanted to cut down on. Unfortunately, that’s difficult to measure and I still find myself doing it more often than I feel I ought to.

What am I going to do about it?

Once again, I resolve to read a minimum of two books EVERY month in 2018. I’m also going to try some new authors and different genres. Any suggestions? What do you enjoy reading?

I read a good mix of novels, non-fiction, and autobiographical books in 2017 and I would like to do that again. Australian novelist, Kate Morton, is the only author that I read more than one book by (The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper, and The Lake House). I’ve always enjoyed memoirs and autobiographies. Over the past year, I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Foundling by Tom H. Mackenzie and My Secret Sister by Helen Edwards and Jenny Lee Smith, but the one that surprised me most was Changing My Mind by Margaret Trudeau. I clearly remember the day in March 1971 when she surprised the world by marrying our popular prime minister, Pierre Ellliott Trudeau, who was 29 years her senior, and the years of turmoil that followed. The book is an honest and courageous telling of her lifelong battle with mental illness and gave me a greater understanding of bipolar disorder.

Have you read any good books lately?

Snowshoe adventures

Until this week, the one and only time that I was ever on snowshoes was 43 years ago. While back home in Yellowknife, NWT for my Christmas vacation from university I joined a group of friends for an outing on Pontoon Lake, 34 km from town. The traditional wood-framed snowshoes that we wore that day were much more cumbersome than the sleeker, lightweight versions that are popular today.

wooden snowshoes

The outing was fun and I was glad I went, but it didn’t convince me that snowshoes were something I wanted to invest in and it wasn’t something I ever pursued doing again.

Then came this Christmas and a very special gift from our son, daughter-in-law, and two young grandsons here in Vancouver, an after dark Boxing Day chocolate fondue snowshoe tour on Mount Seymour! With 8 other people and our guide, we set off down moonlit trails through the quiet forest. The night was still, without the slightest breath of wind.  After awhile, we came to an enchanting hand-carved snow lounge in a clearing. Strings of lights twinkled in the trees above as we seated ourselves on the circular snow bench around the round snow table. Our guide provided “butt pads” to keep our rear ends from freezing as we indulged in delicious chocolate fondue featuring a variety of fresh-cut fruit. It was truly a magical experience!

This time, it didn’t take long for me to realize that snowshoeing was definitely something I’d want to do again, so yesterday Matt borrowed a couple of pairs of snowshoes for Richard and I to use and the six of us headed back up Mount Seymour where we snowshoed the First Lake Trail, an easy 2 hour loop. What a delight it was to be sharing a winter trail adventure with the same grandsons that we hiked with in Jasper in July. After a couple of days of heavy rain in the city below, the sun shining through the snow laden trees was absolutely gorgeous!

Snowshoes have now been added to our shopping list!