A Christmas shopping suggestion

LogoIt’s December 1st and the Christmas season is upon us! I like to get my Christmas shopping done early before the mad rush begins, but if you’re still trying to figure out what to buy for some of the people on your list, perhaps I can help.

Kiva is an international nonprofit with a mission to alleviate poverty through micro loans. By lending as little as $25, anyone can help a Kiva borrower start or grow a business, attend school, or improve their living conditions. I’ve written several posts about Kiva in the past, but what I haven’t written about is the Kiva Store, a partnership between Kiva and its partner NOVICA, a mission-driven company that works with artisans around the world. By purchasing some of your Christmas gifts at the Kiva online store, where you’ll find unique and high-quality products (jewelry, fashion, and home decor) at very reasonable prices, you can help support the efforts of artisan producers and strengthen the fair trade movement.

Here are just a few of the over 1400 fashion items currently available through the Kiva Store.

The Kiva Store isn’t only for women though. There are many suitable gifts for men as well. Here’s one of my favourites.

If jewelry would suit someone on your Christmas list, the Kiva store has a vast array of necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, pins, and even anklets. Personally, I think this sterling silver cuff with amethysts and pearls is exquisite

and I could certainly see myself wearing these earrings! That’s the only problem with doing your Christmas shopping at the Kiva Store. You might end up ordering for yourself too!

Kiva ships to over 100 countries worldwide making it a truly global marketplace for both artisans and customers, but don’t wait too long to order. Christmas is just around the corner and you want your gifts to arrive on time.

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One classic piece – endless looks

LogoWe all need a few versatile items in our closet that can be worn year-round and dressed up or down. With a timeless piece like this season’s soft, flowy Silk Blouse from cabi, the possibilities are endless. Its straight silhouette, classic shirt shape and Henley placket, will likely make it a staple in my wardrobe for a very long time.

Silk blouse

Cabi calls the warm neutral colour Dove, but one of my friends dubbed it “greige”, somewhere between grey and beige.

Worn loose over leggings or jeans, the delicate silk fabric adds a touch of class to a comfortable, casual look.

Rolling the sleeves and a little tuck quickly changed the look.

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The blouse also looks good peeking out from under a sweater, in this case the Regiment Pullover, also from cabi.

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For a dressier look, perhaps an evening out with hubby, I dressed it up with skinny black pants and a sparkly jacket that I picked up at our local thrift store a couple of years ago.

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One of my fashion goals this winter is to try new looks with old pieces, so I dug deep into my closet and pulled out this tunic/jumper from several years ago. Though I haven’t worn it for quite awhile, it was once a favourite and I couldn’t bear to part with it. I tried wearing it unbuttoned over the silk blouse and black leggings.

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For a dressier occasion, I might wear it this way.

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Lastly, though I’m happily retired, the silk shirt would also work well as office attire. Is there anything that says business better than a pencil skirt and pearls?

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With a classic piece like this one, the possibilities are endless! Which look did you prefer?

 

Favourite fashion quotes

LogoFor as long as I can remember, I’ve been a collector of words, jotting down quotations that appeal to me whenever I run across them. Most of my favourite fashion quotes were coined by people in the fashion industry, but the first one listed here was spoken by a Greek philosopher in the 1st century AD. It still rings true today.

“Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.”  Epictetus

The others are more current.

“To me, clothing is a form of self-expression – there are hints about who you are in what you wear.”  Marc Jacobs

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.”  Rachel Zoe

“Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way you live.”  Gianni Versace

“Fashion is not necessarily about labels. It’s not about brands. It’s about something else that comes from within you.”  Ralph Lauren

“To me, style is all about expressing your individuality freely and courageously.”   Timothy John Byford

“Real style is never right or wrong. It’s a matter of being yourself on purpose.”  G. Bruce Boyer

As I read through these, I realize that they’re all saying the same thing. I like them because they express my philosophy of style. What we wear is, or should be, an expression of who we are and shouldn’t be dictated by the current trends, the world of advertising, or by what everyone else around us is wearing.

My cabi stylist, Linda Kreamer, once put it this way, “Fashion is fashion, but style is your own.” (I’m sure she didn’t realize that I grabbed my notebook and pen and jotted that down when she said it!)

Our style is what makes us unique. While it’s great to take inspiration from what others are wearing, we each need to put our own stamp on a look. I’ve shared where some of my fashion inspiration comes from here.

There is no one more unique in the fashion world than Iris Apfel. I have a whole collection of quotes just from her, but this one fits well with today’s message.

“When you don’t dress like everybody else, you don’t have to think like everybody else.”  Iris Apfel

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Iris Apfel

Another of my favourite fashion quotes comes from a fictional character.

“You’re never fully dressed without a smile.”  Little Orphan Annie

And then, just for laughs, I can’t resist ending with these two somewhat irreverent fashion quotations.

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”  Mark Twain

“Girls do not dress for boys. They dress for themselves and, of course, each other. If girls dressed for boys they’d just walk around naked at all times.”  Betsy Johnson

 

Transitions

LogoI live on the Canadian prairie where we have very distinct seasons. As a result, I have two distinct wardrobes, summer and winter. Sadly, it will soon be time to pack away my shorts, capris, and all my other warm weather gear and prepare for the cold months ahead, but tucked in between summer and winter are the shoulder seasons, spring and fall. Times of transition. What do you wear when it’s 5ºC (41ºF) first thing in the morning and 30ºC (86ºF) that same afternoon? That’s the kind of weather we’ve been having this week and that’s why there are some pieces that stay in my closet year round.

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My new Graph Blouse from Cabi will be one of them. Though it’s from the Fall 2017 Collection, it’s floaty layers make it a perfect stand alone item for summer days and warm autumn afternoons.

To ward off the morning chill, I’ll simply add one of the lightweight cardigans that spend the summer at the back of my closet. As long as my shoulders and upper body are warm, I’m comfortable.

When winter arrives (I hate to think of it!), the Graph Blouse, tucked in or worn loose as shown here, will continue to serve me well under warmer sweaters and jackets.

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Stepping out of your fashion comfort zone

LogoDo you ever feel like you’re stuck in a fashion rut? Are you tired of looking in the closet and seeing the same old, same old? Are you unhappy with what you see in the mirror? Perhaps you’d really like to try something new, but you have no idea where to begin. Maybe it’s time to step outside your fashion comfort zone!

Most of us get stuck in a fashion rut from time to time. I know I certainly have. There was a time when almost everything in my wardrobe was some shade of blue or brown! How boring is that?

Stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be scary. Take it slow. Experimenting can be fun, but this doesn’t mean that you should try to change everything at once. Small changes can make a big difference.

The first step might be to look for ideas and inspiration. Though magazines can be a good source, I like to read fashion blogs written by real women just like you and I. You can find several of my favourites here. If you do a bit of searching, you’ll find others that may be more your style, especially if you’re significantly younger than I am.

People watching is another fun way to gather ideas. Try sitting in a mall for a little while and really looking at what the women who pass by are wearing, especially the ones who seem to exude confidence. You won’t like everything you see, but you might pick up some ideas that you’d be willing to try. Don’t make the mistake of trying to copy exactly what you see someone else wearing though. You want to put your own stamp on an outfit and allow your unique personality to shine through.

The easiest way to step out of your comfort zone and switch up your style is to try wearing a colour that you typically wouldn’t wear. If red isn’t part of your present wardrobe, that would be a great place to start since it’s a popular colour this season and there will be lots to choose from in the stores. For advice on how to choose the right red for your complexion, see my post from last Friday.

Accessories are a great, budget friendly way to update your look. Adding jewelry or shoes in a style that you haven’t worn before will instantly take your outfit to a new level. Be adventurous! I remember reading of one woman who admired hats on other gals. Eventually she bought herself one. She told of sitting in her car outside the mall, hat on head, terrified to get out and be seen because this was such a new look for her. I don’t remember if she ever wore her new chapeau into the mall or if it stayed behind in the car. I really hope she wore it!

Sometimes a wardrobe update is as simple as embracing a new, on-trend version of your favourite fashion item. I spend a great deal of my life in jeans and I admit that I’m not always quick to adopt the newest cuts. It took me awhile to accept the low rise variety and now that I’m accustomed to them, waistlines are rising again!

Stepping out of your fashion comfort zone doesn’t have to involve shopping for something new. Sometimes it can be as simple as combining items that you already have in new and different ways. Again, be adventurous! You might find several new looks right there in your own closet!

Are you waiting to lose a few pounds or to get in shape before you try to climb out of your fashion rut? Please don’t! Instead, begin by dressing the body you have. Again, look at the women around you. Not one of us has a perfect body, but by stepping out of our fashion comfort zones we can begin to feel better about ourselves just the way we are and maybe by doing so, we’ll be challenged to take the necessary steps to make those dietary changes or to join that gym.

What changes will you make this fall? You’re worth it!

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Fashion trends for fall 2107

LogoAs one who loves summer, I’m hoping that I don’t have to make my seasonal wardrobe switch to fall and winter wear for awhile yet, but it’s time to start thinking about it. Although I’ve been retired from teaching school for ten years, my many years in the classroom still have an impact. When the end of August and the beginning of a new school year approach, my mind automatically goes to fall. Of course, the stores have already been gearing up for the new season for some time.

So, what are the trends that we should be watching for this fall? Let’s take a quick peek.

Sofa Print Florals

Floral patterns never seem to go out of style, but this season I’m seeing a lot of the large floral prints that the fashion industry often refers to as “sofa print” or “couch” florals. Deep, rich colours and dark backgrounds seem to be particularly popular this year.

Red

Pink was the popular colour for summer this year, but its big sister, red, is taking over for fall and winter. Everything from shoes and boots to overcoats are being seen in red, but if you’re not sure that it’s the colour for you, try it in small doses first. Consider adding a pop of colour with red accessories.

If you plan to wear larger expanses of red, especially near your face, it’s important to choose a shade that compliments your complexion. If your skin has warm undertones, you’ll look best in an orange-based red, while those of us who have cooler, fair complexions will look better in reds with blue undertones.

Plaid 

One of the most popular looks on the runways for this season was grey plaid suiting, but brighter plaids (remember the 70s) are also popular. This plaid shirt from Cabi is on my wish list.

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Velvet

Velvet is back in many different hues and not just for formal wear. Skirts, pants, blazers, even hoodies, shoes, and booties are being seen in velvet this year!

Shoulder pads

Shoulder pads are one returning trend that I’m not sure I’m ready for! I can handle something small to give a garment structure, but no football player shoulders for me, please!

Midi skirts

Below the knee, but above the ankle, mid-calf length skirts seem to be the most popular for the upcoming season. Silhouettes vary from pencil skirts to those with more volume, but this can be a tricky length to get just right. When it comes to midi, there’s a thin line between flattering and frumpy. A skirt that hits the widest part of your calf will visually shorten your legs, so instead, you want the hemline to hit the narrower spot just below your calf muscles.

Do any of these trends appeal to you? Which ones will you consider adding to your wardrobe this fall?

We aren’t what we wear

logoI recently had an interesting conversation with two young women that I tutor. Members of the Old Colony Mennonites who have been relocating to Canada from Mexico in recent years, they wear traditional dresses and kerchiefs. I’ve been teaching them to read, a skill they didn’t have the opportunity to learn as children. One of their many reasons for wanting to learn to read  is so that they can read the Bible, so we’ve been using a children’s Bible story book as one of our texts.

“Do we have different Bibles or do we just understand it differently?” M asked me after one of our recent sessions. “Our Bible says that we should wear dresses and cover our heads,” she continued. She was clearly referring to the fact that I don’t dress that way.

So what does the Bible actually say?

“A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.” Deuteronomy 22:5

We talked about what that might mean and M was quick to point out that though we might both wear blue jeans, her husband would never wear a top like I was wearing. No one would confuse me with a man because of the way I was dressed!

There was a time, not too long ago, when regardless of what they wore during the week, everyone dressed up to go to church on Sunday morning. Heaven forbid that a woman should wear pants or a man show up without shirt and tie! Thankfully, for many of us, that has changed.

Several years ago, before it became commonplace, I made the very intentional decision to begin wearing blue jeans to church. I don’t wear them every Sunday, but I do make a habit of wearing them quite often.

Why?

There were several young families in our church at the time who were struggling to get their teens to come to church on Sunday mornings. One of the issues of contention was what they wore. The kids rebelled at the idea of having to dress up. It always boggled my mind that anyone would consider one fabric (blue denim) less holy than another and rebel that I am, I felt that if I, sometimes considered a leader in the church, wore jeans, the younger parents might feel more comfortable allowing their kids to do the same.

Who knows? Maybe someday my young Mennonite friends might feel comfortable dressing more casually too. In the meantime, they wear their dresses and I wear my jeans and we have a wonderful time together! After all,

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7