Casual summer look

LogoLike many of you, we’ve been experiencing a heat wave lately. Summer clothes that literally never saw the light of day during last year’s non-summer have finally come out to play again! I’ve been wearing shorts and sleeveless tops almost every day.

When I culled my summer closet during my wardrobe funk back in June, I didn’t identify sleeveless tops as something I needed more of. In fact, I have quite a few of them. Some stay in my closet year round and are worn under sweaters and jackets in the cooler seasons.

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No, I didn’t really need another sleeveless top, but I spotted this one in the local thrift store earlier this week and it came home with me. I was actually there to look for books because I’ve been reading more than ever this summer and I was running out. The fitting rooms are still closed, but I was able to try the top on over the one I was wearing. I knew it fit but there was no mirror anywhere. I had no idea how it looked on me, but I decided to take a chance. At just $3.00, with all it’s original tags still on and an original price of $75.00, what did I have to lose? Besides, I wanted something new to share with you today!

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The greige (is it grey or is it beige?) colour, the soft, breathable fabric, the mother-of-pearl buttons, and the lacy inlays give the top a romantic, vintage look.

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I’ve styled it with an old pair of light cotton capris for a cool, casual look on a hot summer day. A thrifted necklace that I’ve had for several years, a pair of gold flip flops, and a hat finish off the look.

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How are you faring in the summer heat? Or is it winter where you are?

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Rubbish!

LogoAs a Canadian, I admit that I know nothing about Australian politics, but I do know that being a politician in any country isn’t easy. They can’t please everyone and their personal lives are constantly under scrutiny. I also know that being a female politician is even harder and I greatly admire South Australian MP Nicolle Flint for the way that she stood up to a journalist’s comments about her clothes this week.

Before we look at that, let’s take a look at how she dresses for her role. In my opinion, she looks classy, professional, and approachable. This is her Facebook profile picture.

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And here’s a montage of photos, also from her Facebook page. She most often chooses a basic column of black with a brightly coloured jacket.

In his Sunday newspaper column, radio host Peter Goers wrote, “Nicolle wears pearl earrings and a pearly smile. She favours a vast wardrobe of blazers, coats and tight, black, ankle-freezing trousers and stiletto heels. She presents herself in her own newsletter 23 times as a fashion plate. She has blazers and coats in black, blue, pink, red, beige, green, white, cream, floral and two in grey.” Would he have made similar comments about a male politician’s shirt colour, the width of his tie, or the shoes he wore? I think not. Though not as extreme as having her office vandalized with the word “prostitute”, being called a “skank”, or dealing with a male stalker, all part of Flint’s experience since entering politics, Goers’ comments are clearly sexist and inappropriate.

A politician needs to be thick-skinned, but no one should have to put up with this kind of disrespect simply because she’s a woman. By all means, comment on how well she does or doesn’t represent her constituents. Criticize her performance as a politician and her policies, but unless she dresses completely inappropriately or immodestly, not her wardrobe!

A video of a Flint wearing a garbage bag to protest what she refers to as “rubbish” comments on her clothes has gone viral and drawn support from across the political spectrum. If you haven’t already seen it, watch it here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

I wish I looked that good in a garbage bag!

Finding trends in my closet

LogoAs most of you already know, I don’t shop for clothes online and I’ve mostly been staying away from brick and mortar stores since the onset of Covid-19. That leaves shopping my closet and trying to create new looks with old clothes.

When I researched fashion trends for spring and summer 2020 for an earlier post, one of the looks that appealed to me and that I could see myself wearing was the suit with Bermuda shorts.

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Had I still been teaching instead of happily retired, I could definitely have seen myself investing in one of these menswear inspired suits. They’re a nice take on business casual and if the trend doesn’t last, the pieces could still be worn separately. I didn’t realize at the time that I could create a similar look using pieces from my own wardrobe!

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I wear capris more often than shorts as I don’t think that my knees are amongst my more attractive features, but I do have several pairs of shorts including these black ones from Nike Golf. The top is cabi and the little black jacket is from Canadian fashion retailer, Reitmans. All three pieces have been in my wardrobe for several seasons.

I’m not really going anywhere these days that requires even this level of dressy, but I did have some business to take care of at the bank yesterday and even though it wasn’t necessary, it felt nice to dress up just a bit.

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HOOFING IT Across Canada update:

I’ve now walked 51.37 km since the beginning of the challenge. With over 6 weeks left, I should have no problem surpassing my personal goal of 100 km. Donations have slowed down a bit, but thanks to many generous donors, I’ve raised $1095 which is 73% of my $1500 goal. As the Canadian neuroendocrine cancer community, however, we have a long way to go to raise the $100,000 needed to continue funding much needed research. At present, we’ve raised just over $31,600.

 

Playing pretend – fantasy backyard book party

LogoAs a child, I loved playing pretend. You probably did too, but as we got older, real life pressed in and the world of make-believe was all but forgotten. Apparently, not so for retired high school English teacher, Sue Burpee, who has hosted two virtual parties for the readers of her blog, High Heels in the Wilderness, since the Covid-19 shutdown began.

In her blog, Sue writes about fashion, travel, books, and life in general. I’ve been following her for several years and had the privilege of “attending” both her parties. The first, in early April, was an afternoon tea at the historic Chateau Laurier in Ottawa and the second, this past Saturday, a book party at her home overlooking Ontario’s Rideau River. And what a party it was!

Since we came from across Canada and around the world, it was an overnight affair complete with an old-fashioned, down-east lobster and corn boil at supper time and houseboats on the river to accommodate us for the night! You can read all about it here.

The invitation told us to dress casual, cool, and comfortable and to be sure to bring a hat. After contemplating my closet and considering several different options, here’s what I chose.

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The white crop pants are a basic piece that have been in my wardrobe for several years and the light, airy Scallop Top from cabi’s Fall 2019 collection was perfect for the heat wave that the Ottawa area has been experiencing lately. My Summit Breeze crushable hat was easy to pack and provided great protection from the sun. Of course, I also wore lots of sunscreen! I knew I’d want to stroll around Sue’s lovely property, so I wore a comfortable pair of Naturalizer sandals that I’ve had for several years.

Since this was a book party, Sue also asked each of us to bring a book that had had a significant impact on us to share with the other guests. Again, how to choose? There have been so many! Probably the book that has had the most profound impact on me, other than the Bible, is Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, but I don’t actually have a copy of it right now. Instead, I chose one of the memoirs that I’ve been reading during Covid-19. A Good Wife: Escaping the Life I Never Chose, by human rights activist Samra Zafar, is the inspiring story of a courageous and determined woman who walks away from a harrowing past and builds a new life for herself and her two daughters. An arranged marriage in her native Pakistan at age 17 and a subsequent move to Canada with her new husband promised to be the fulfillment of her dreams, but instead turned into an abusive nightmare. I was impressed by her grit and determination and reminded that many women, especially amongst our immigrant population, live lives shaped by cultures that we have little understanding of.

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Yes, a virtual party during these most unusual days was just what I needed! I feel like I’ve had the opportunity to connect with a whole group of like-minded women from around the world and I’ve added several new books to my ‘must read’ list.

Many thanks, Sue!

Back in business, but without a fitting room

LogoOur local thrift store reopened on Tuesday. My main reason for going in that afternoon was to drop off a load of things that I’d sorted out of my closet, the storage room, and the kitchen cupboards over the past few months. I also wanted to see if I could find some more  books to read because I’d finished most of the ones I picked up prior to Covid-19. Of course, I couldn’t be in the store for the first time in over four months and not take at least a quick look at the clothes too!

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Almost immediately, I spied a cute pair of Simon Chang capri pants. They looked like they might be the right size, but as I’ve mentioned before, I have a hard time finding pants that fit my boyish figure. If they fit at the waist, they often bag at the hips. If the hips fit properly, they’re too tight at the waist. Like many stores, however, there were some restrictions in place due to the pandemic and the fitting room was closed. Should I buy the pants anyway? At just $3, what did I have to lose? There are no refunds, but if they didn’t fit I could simply donate them back.

OR… I could try them on anyway! That’s right. Savvy thrift store shoppers know that not every second-hand store has a fitting room, though most of them do. As I mentioned in a post entitled 18 Tips for Successful Thrift Store Shopping, if you have to try things on in the aisles, you want to be able to do it easily and modestly, so it’s a good idea to dress with that in mind. Even if there is a dressing room available, wearing leggings, a cami, and slip on shoes makes trying things on a breeze, but on Tuesday I hadn’t come prepared. I was wearing pants, not leggings. How could I try on those cute capris?

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I wouldn’t do this in a regular retail store, but I simply took those pants over to the circular rack of skirts and dresses which is up against one wall of the store and found a long skirt with an elastic waist. Standing where I was largely out of view, I slipped it on over my pants, and you guessed it… I discretely removed my pants from beneath the skirt and pulled on the capris! There weren’t many shoppers in the store at the time and I don’t think anyone even noticed. Sometimes unusual times call for unusual measures!

The pull-on capris are made of a very comfortable stretch fabric with a nice wide waistband, but it was the tiny polka dots that attracted my attention. Polka dots are very much on trend this season and I’ve been wanting to add some to my wardrobe.

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I’m wearing my new pants with one of my brightly coloured golf shirts, my Nordgreen watch with it’s navy leather band, and a pair of Naturalizer sandals that I’ve had for years.

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HOOFING IT Across Canada update:

I’ve walked 22.99 kilometres since starting the challenge on July 1st and thanks to many generous donors, I’m slightly over half way to my fundraising goal of $1500 for neuroendocrine cancer research.

The psychology of fashion

LogoConsidering all that’s been going on in the world lately, I must admit that I felt a little guilty complaining about my wardrobe in last Friday’s post. After all, that’s such a first world problem. In fact, sometimes writing about fashion at all seems terribly trivial.

On the other hand, I’ve been reading about something called enclothed cognition, a term that relates to the effect that clothing has on the way a person thinks, feels, and functions. There’s nothing new about the idea that how we dress influences the way others perceive and respond to us. That’s why we dress differently for a job interview than we do for a day at the beach. Recent studies show, however, that what we wear also directly affects our behaviour, attitudes, personality, mood, confidence, and even the way we interact with others. If that’s the case, then perhaps taking an interest in what we wear isn’t as shallow and self-centred as it might seem!

An interesting question to ask yourself is not only what messages do you want your clothing to tell others about you, but also how do you want to feel when you wear them? I’m reminded of how I instinctively packed what might best be referred to as comfort clothes when I got the call that my father was dying. In this case, I was using clothes to help reduce anxiety and foster calm. If clothing actually has a therapeutic impact, maybe it really does matter that I’m not entirely satisfied with what I see hanging in my closet! After all, self care is an important aspect of mental health.

In a wardrobe funk

LogoLiving as I do in a location that has very distinct seasons, I have two almost entirely different wardrobes. There are, of course, some pieces that stay in my closet year round, but I do a seasonal wardrobe switch twice a year. Our bedroom closet isn’t very big, so the off-season clothes go into storage in the basement. Before that happens, I usually do a good sort and try to get rid of things that are taking up space and not likely to be worn again. I say “try to” because I’m not always good at letting go of things. That’s definitely part of what has led to my present wardrobe funk. It’s barely past the middle of June and I’m already feeling fed up with my summer wardrobe! There were things that I fully intended to get rid of at the end of last summer, but when it came time to do that, I wasn’t disciplined enough. Instead, they went into storage and when I hung them back in the closet this spring, I was immediately discouraged by what I saw. That’s definitely not a good way to start a new season!

And what a season it’s been! The monotony of the Covid-19 quarantine has definitely added to my present feeling of discouragement with my wardrobe. Though I firmly believe in getting dressed every morning and not hanging around the house in pyjamas or sweats, the shutdown has seriously limited where we’ve been able to go and consequently what I’ve worn. There are a number of dressier items languishing in my closet simply because I’ve had nowhere to wear them.

Then there’s the weather. Last year we basically didn’t have summer. It was the coldest, wettest summer that I can ever remember. Though we’ve had a few really nice days this year, it isn’t starting out a lot warmer. I still enjoy wearing shorts and sleeveless tops on hot days, but with temperatures barely creeping above 20ºC (68ºF) most days and some not even that warm, I need things that are suitable for cooler days. That’s where the choices in my closet are most limited; another reason for my present wardrobe woe.

A poorly curated closet + a pandemic + gloomy weather = a serious wardrobe funk! 

So, what am I going to do about it? This year, I’m not going to wait until the end of summer to weed out the items in my closet that should no longer be there. I already have a collection of clothing and other things to drop off at our local thrift store as soon as it reopens and I’m going to start adding to it right now! Although the Covid restrictions are starting to loosen, it’s probably going to be awhile before I go shopping for anything new, but once I’ve pared down the closet to those things that I actually want to wear again, I’ll take a close look at where the gaps are and make a wish list. That way, when I finally do go shopping, I’ll be prepared! In the meantime, I’m also going to work even harder than I already have been at putting together new and different combinations from the items that are already in my closet. Who knows, maybe I’ll even find some interesting ones to share with you in future posts.

Now, how are you doing? Have you found yourself in a funk lately… wardrobe or otherwise?

Fast fashion, ethical shopping, and Covid-19

LogoJustine Leconte is a French fashion and jewelry designer who lives and works in Berlin. On her YouTube channel, Justine Leconte officiel, she shares her creative process as well as fashion tips about how to create and enjoy your own wardrobe. Her weekly videos often include information on how to shop for good quality, dress for your body shape, create a capsule wardrobe, or choose colours that work for you.

Sometimes, however, Justine Leconte deals with more serious fashion related topics. She is strongly opposed to fast fashion. When she designs a piece of clothing or jewelry, it is produced in Europe using materials that are sourced within Europe. She oversees the process and checks production samples herself. She refuses to work with factories that don’t pay their workers a fair wage. Clearly, she practices what she preaches!

Unfortunately, fast fashion brands have been taking advantage of the present Covid-19 pandemic in ways that are seriously disturbing. In one of her most recent videos, Justine addresses this topic and tells us how we, as consumers, can make a difference. If you are even the least bit concerned with being an ethical fashion shopper, I urge you to take thirteen minutes to watch this video!

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?