Let your beauty shine through

LogoAfter having our ceilings stripped and new stipple applied, then painting the living room, this week has been one of major house cleaning. If you had seen me in my painting duds or wearing old jeans and t-shirt while I applied furniture polish to practically every wood surface in the house, you would not have taken me for a fashion blogger. In fact, I’m quite sure I looked more like a fashion failure!

As these things tend to do, the work has taken longer and gone in different directions than we originally planned and while I try to post something on the blog at least twice a week, that hasn’t been happening. Suddenly it’s Friday again and I don’t have a new outfit or tidbit of fashion wisdom ready to share with you.

I have, however, been musing about something as I’ve applied oil to wood and polished it to a shine. The oil enhances the natural beauty of the wood. Similarly, what we wear only enhances the beauty that comes from within.

Stephanie Lahart, inspirational author of Overcoming Life’s Obstacles, puts it this way:

“Her outer beauty is just a bonus, but it is her inner beauty that’s most captivating. She’s loving, caring, kindhearted, empathetic, and genuine. She’s comfortable in her own skin, therefore, she’s able to compliment, celebrate, and build up others around her. She’s a quality woman with a strong sense of self! She doesn’t need the spotlight, because she is the light wherever she goes. Smart, confident, ambitious, and fearless… Beautifully created from the inside out.”

A woman like that can be dressed in rags (or painting clothes) and still be beautiful!

Scripture tells us:

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”           1 Peter 3:3-4

So, whatever you’re wearing today… pay someone a compliment, do something kind for someone else, put a smile on your face and let the beautiful woman you are shine through.

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I’ll be in the city for another cancer treatment and some scans next week, so I should have an update on that front, and I promise a more traditional fashion post next Friday.

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Sleeping beauty

LogoTaking an interest in fashion is usually about wanting to look our best. The clothes we wear are definitely an important part of that, but so is taking care of the body that we put those clothes on.

I’m reminded of the repainting that I’m doing in our living room right now. If I simply put fresh paint on the wall without first mending the nicks and scrapes and the holes from the old drapery rod that we just took down, the result would not look good at all. In the same way, without eating well, being physically active, and getting adequate sleep, we can put the loveliest clothes on our bodies and not end up looking very good.

Getting sufficient sleep can be a significant problem for many women. When we’re young, the demands of motherhood or a busy work life can make it difficult to settle in and get a good night’s rest and as we age there is often a decrease in the deep-sleep stage and an increase in periods of wakefulness during the night, not to mention more frequent trips to the bathroom.

I generally get plenty of sleep, but not at this time of year. I’m not an early riser, but at this time of year, the sun is! It rose at 5:36 this morning and will continue shining in my window earlier each morning for another month and a half. Every year at this time, I think about getting darker blinds for the bedroom, but after awhile I get used to the early morning light and the need for new window coverings is forgotten. This year, I came up with a new idea. A sleep mask!

A sleep mask is essentially a comfortable blindfold that blocks light and thus helps the wearer reach a deep and restful sleep even in situations like mine where there is a lack of darkness. There are a variety of different types of sleep masks available. In addition to the standard mask, there are pillow masks, or eye pillows, which are thicker and softer than a regular sleep mask. There are cooling masks, magnetic masks, and compression masks. There are even sleep masks designed specifically for aromatherapy. Masks come in a variety of materials with silk, cotton, and satin being the most common. Some masks use a combination of materials and some even have gel or foam inside to give the mask more structure. Some are made with raised eye cavities that allow you to open your eyes while wearing them.

I wasn’t at all sure how well I would adjust to sleeping with a mask, so I was hesitant to spend much on one until I’d given the idea a try. Imagine my delight when I found this satin beauty with a soft velvety lining at Dollarama for $1.25! There were a wide variety of colours available as well as a choice of witty sayings. It fits comfortably; not too tight, but snug enough to stay in place. I’ve only worn it two nights, so it might be a bit too soon to say for sure, but instead of waking up with the sun I’ve been able to sleep until 7:00 or later. IMG_5776

What about you? Do you have difficulty getting your beauty sleep? Have you tried wearing a mask?

 

Cultural appropriation… what do you think?

Utah teen, Keziah Daum, has been harshly criticized online and in the media for herLogo recent choice of a dress for prom. Hoping to find something unique, Keziah decided to browse a vintage store in downtown Salt Lake City. There she found a beautiful red cheongsam; a high-collared, form-fitting traditional Chinese dress.

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The problem is that Keziah Daum is not Chinese. The dress “gave me a sense of appreciation and admiration for other cultures and their beauty,” she said, but she has been accused of cultural appropriation.

What is cultural appropriation and how is it different from cultural appreciation?

Cultural appropriation deals with the adoption of elements of a minority culture or a marginalized group by members of a dominant culture without permission and usually with little respect for or knowledge about the original culture. In true cases of cultural appropriation, elements that may have deep meaning to members of the original culture are sometimes reduced to exotic curiosities by those adopting them. For example, decorating your home with a Buddha statue when you are not, in fact, Buddhist would seem to me to be culturally inappropriate. If you are white North American and you include items that are representative of First Nations culture in your Halloween costume, that too is clearly cultural appropriation and may also help perpetuate harmful stereotypes. I question, however, whether using the same items or garments in the ways that they were originally intended is harmful to anyone at all.

The problem, in many cases, is that there is often no agreement amongst members of a supposedly offended cultural group about what is or is not acceptable to them. While Keziah Daum’s choice of prom dress elicited plenty of criticism from both Chinese and non Chinese, scores of other people also identifying as Asian Americans, defended her choice, saying that they did not consider it offensive. One of them tweeted, “I am a Chinese woman. I support you. You rocked that dress!!”

I have a Japanese yukata (summer kimono) that I purchased in Tokyo. The shopkeeper had no problem selling it to me and showing me how to wear it properly even though I was clearly a gaijin (foreigner). In fact, I believe that many of their customers are visitors to the country looking for a special piece of Japanese culture to take home with them. I also have a traditional Vietnamese ao dai, a two piece silk outfit comprised of a long tunic and pants that was made to measure in a tiny tailoring shop in Hoi An. When I traveled to  Vietnam I had no intention of buying an ao dai, but when I visited a few of the 200+ tailoring shops in Hoi An and admired the beautiful garments, the seamstresses were all anxious to make one for me and I couldn’t resist. I also have a Chinese silk jacket from Hong Kong as well as a beautiful silk abaya from the Middle East, both gifts from friends. I have worn all of these on special occasions and meant absolutely no disrespect to the cultures they came from. In fact, like Keziah Daum, I consider it a special privilege to be able to wear such gorgeous and meaningful pieces.

I also wear a beautiful ring made to order by Haisla artist, Hollie Bear Bartlett. A Christmas gift from my husband, it’s hummingbird motif in traditional Northwest Coast style is symbolic of love and beauty. I am originally a coastal girl of European descent. I do not think that my wearing a ring bearing the art of a different group of coastal people is inappropriate or disrespectful. I also have Northwest Coast and Inuit art in my home, as do many other Canadians.

On the other hand, I do think that our Canadian Prime Minister made an absolute ass of himself, roving around India recently on a highly publicized trip with his family, all of them wearing brightly coloured Indian garb. Their insensitive overuse of and excessive photo-ops wearing Indian clothing drew criticism from their host country with prominent Indian personalities referring to the outfit choices as “tacky” or “fake and annoying.”

Allegations of cultural appropriation have grown increasingly common in recent times with critics casting doubt on the legitimacy of everything from team logos to burrito shops. We in North America are privileged to live in multicultural countries where we can share in the rich heritage and traditions of our neighbours. It behooves us to be sensitive in how we do so, but I think that condemning a young girl for her choice of prom dress goes way overboard.

I realize that this is a controversial topic and that there are people with strong feelings on both sides of the issue. I welcome all opinions as long as they are offered respectfully. I am particularly interested in knowing how my readers from other parts of the world feel about this topic.

The classic trench coat

LogoSpring has finally arrived and with it comes the opportunity to put away my winter coats and start wearing the classic beige trench coat that I picked up for $4.00 at one of our local thrift stores a while back.

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The trench coat first appeared in the 1850s and by the turn of the 20th century, it had become an enduring fashion trend. During WWI, the coat shielded military officers from the unrelenting weather and the mud of the trenches; hence its name. Loved by the officers for its weatherproof qualities and its functional design which included large pockets that kept maps dry and strategically placed flaps that offered ventilation, the coat became popular with both male and female civilians after the war came to an end. Brigitte Bardot wore one, as did Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Onassis and Audrey Hepburn.

In Hollywood, the trench coat became associated with detectives. Humphrey Bogart wore one as detective, Sam Spade, in The Maltese Falcon in 1941 and later as private eye, Philip Marlowe, in The Big Sleep in 1946. Peter Sellers wore one as Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther in 1963, as did Gene Hackman as a private investigator in The Conversation in 1974. Even Inspector Gadget, a 1980s cartoon detective wore a trench coat!

A perfect go to for spring and fall, the trench coat is amazingly versatile. It can be styled with almost anything from blue jeans and sneakers to a dress and heels. Here I’m wearing a lightweight pair of dark wash jeans that have been part of my warm weather wardrobe for the past few years, my favourite Breton tee, and my new Sam Edelman sneakers that I’ve also been saving for spring. Though the photos make them look like they’re the same colour as the coat, they’re actually a lovely taupe rose.

There’s an unspoken fashion rule that says that even when the belt of a trench coat has a buckle, it should be tied, not buckled. In fact, the “buckle” on mine doesn’t actually  buckle at all. Google “how to tie a trench coat” and you’ll find numerous videos and tutorials showing a myriad ways to knot a trench coat belt. If you really want to use the buckle or you think it looks silly hanging there at the end of a tied belt, it is acceptable to buckle and tie as I’ve shown in the second photo above.

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Choosing your Grandma name

When this hilarious video showed up on my Facebook newsfeed this morning, I couldn’t help laughing out loud! Those of us who have grandchildren have all faced the question… What will your grandchildren call you?

Next Tuesday I will have been a grandmother for ten whole years. That’s right! Our Drew is hitting the double digits! I can’t believe how quickly that decade has flown by. It seems like only yesterday that I was thinking about what I would want him to call me.

Growing up, I had a Gran and a Nana. I only have one clear memory of my Gran who passed away when I was five. Though she was younger than I am now, she had a serious heart condition and all I remember is a frail little lady who needed help from the car to the house when she and Grandad came for a visit. Tiny and frail wasn’t the kind of grandmother I hoped to be, so that name didn’t resonate with me. My Nana was robust and a woman known for speaking her mind. I think I must have inherited that trait from her! She was very much a part of my childhood and lived to see my first two children. The only reason I didn’t want to be called Nana was that some of my childhood friends didn’t know what a Nana was. I wanted a name that clearly identified me as a grandmother, but like the lady in the video, I wanted one that sounded younger and hipper than Granny.

I didn’t want to be called Grandma because Drew’s other grandmother already had three grandchildren who called her Grandma or Tiny Grandma because of her small stature. I wanted to choose a name that was different from hers and I most certainly didn’t want to end up being Big Grandma!

After considering many possibilities, I settled on just plain Gram. It’s simple and easy to pronounce, or so I thought. I was thrilled when Drew, at the age of 15 months, began to call me Am. Of course, we didn’t realize then that that was a symptom of a severe phonological disorder that caused him to drop the initial sounds off almost every word. As he began speech therapy and he and his Mom worked diligently at home, we began to see a marked improvement in his speech and finally the wonderful day came when he called me Gram! Thankfully, you wouldn’t know today that there had ever been a problem with his speech.

Now there are five children who call me Gram. Distance prevents us from all getting together very often so the photo is over a year old, but these are my treasures. That’s Drew in the top left hand corner with his siblings in front of him and their cousins to the right.

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Do you have grandchildren? What do they call you? How did you choose your Grandma name? If you don’t have grandchildren yet, but hope to, have you thought about what you would like them to call you?

Thankful for a root canal?

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:8 is a scripture passage that can be very easily misunderstood. There are many things in life that I am not thankful for. Fortunately, I’m not told to be thankful for every situation, but rather in every situation. In even the most difficult circumstances of life, we can find things to be thankful for, whether it be the resources to handle the crisis or the support of family and friends through it.

That being said, I am actually thankful that early Monday morning I’m going to be having a root canal! How can that be? Thankful for a root canal? Am I crazy?

No, I would rather not have to have a root canal, but considering the other possibilities that crossed my mind after I discovered a lump on my gum a few weeks ago, I’m quite delighted that the problem is only an abscessed tooth and that the solution is as common as a root canal. You see, this is something that happens to ordinary mortals, not just cancer patients!

So, yes, as crazy as it sounds, I’m thankful for a root canal!

It isn’t going to be a simple procedure which is why it’s being done by an endodontist, a root canal specialist. The roots of this particular tooth are fused together. Apparently that’s not terribly uncommon, but it can make the procedure more complicated and it’s something my own dentist didn’t feel comfortable tackling. In spite of that, I’m still feeling

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Have you ever been thankful for something as crazy as a root canal?

Fashion is art

LogoIn a recent post, fellow fashion blogger, Pam Lutrell of Over 50 Feeling 40, wrote that “all fashion is art”. Her statement resonated with me because I also believe that fashion provides an opportunity for each of us to be creative and to express who we are through what we wear. 

My involvement in the arts is largely in the area of community theatre which actually intersects with my passion for fashion in an interesting way… costuming. I’m especially fond of period drama because it involves researching the fashions of a particular time in history and doing our best to recreate them onstage. As a small town theatre guild, we don’t have a large budget to work with. We have an incredibly talented costume mistress who can create amazing and elaborate costumes when they’re needed, but much of what we wear onstage comes from our own wardrobes or from the group’s substantial collection of clothing that has mostly been donated or purchased at thrift stores.

Our recent play was set between 1928 and 1946. I played the role of a household servant and was dressed accordingly. That’s me in front holding the serving tray.

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For one very short scene, however, I wore a dressier outfit that included a little velvet jacket from our costume collection that I absolutely fell in love with. It’s always bittersweet when a production comes to an end. After entertaining four dinner theatre audiences and having so much fun doing it, the time came to strike the set and put the costumes and props away, but I couldn’t part with the little velvet jacket. In my mind, I could imagine myself dressing it down with a pair of jeans. I just had to give it a try, so with permission, of course, it came home with me. It will eventually go back and be hidden away in the giant bin labelled “jackets” until it’s needed onstage again, but for a little while I plan to have some fun with it.

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First, I tried it with a simple black camisole and then over my white Indulgence Tank from cabi’s Spring 2017 collection. Since I’ve been told that a woman should be able to style every piece in her closet at least different three ways, I also tried the jacket over a column of colour, in this case my camel coloured cords and camisole. I loved all three of these looks!

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With the gold embroidery design on the jacket, I decided to keep the jewelry at my neck simple or nonexistent, but I did try it with my antique gold-finished Flapper Earrings from cabi’s Fall 2017 collection, reminiscent of the 1920s.

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Do you agree that fashion is art? Please tell me what you think in the comment section below.