I’d like your help

LogoEarlier this month, I had the opportunity to shop my sister-in-law’s closet again. Though I’m a little taller, Sue and I are very similar in size and can usually wear one another’s clothes without alteration. Before we arrived for our annual February visit, she had done another major closet clean out and had several large bags of clothing waiting for me to go through.

Today I want your opinion on 4 tops that now hang in my closet. Please be honest about whether or not you think I should keep them and tell me why.

#1

I actually like everything about this one from Cleo, one of my favourite Canadian fashion retailers. It fits perfectly and the soft polyester knit with a hint of spandex is oh so comfortable. Teal is one of the colours that suits every skin tone and the pattern doesn’t overwhelm me. The shirttail hem with ties at the sides takes it one notch up from a simple t-shirt.

#2

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Sue tends to wear dramatic colours and patterns while I favour neutrals. This one, also from Cleo, combines the two. Though fuchsia is also a colour that most women can wear, I like having the beige and grey tones closer to my face. I love three quarter length sleeves and this top is long enough that I can wear it over leggings. Though I love the look of the wide trim on the sleeves and the bottom edge, it does tend to catch on things.

#3

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I love the length and the fit of this button down tunic from Northern Reflections, another Canadian retailer. The lightweight polyester drapes beautifully, but I wonder if the pattern is a bit too intense for me. Perhaps it looks better under my denim waterfall shirt from cabi. What do you think?

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#4

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This silky blouson style top, also from Cleo, is actually a petite. It’s shorter than I usually wear, but other than that it fits well and the sleeves are long enough. It’s very lightweight and would make a good transition piece for spring (if it ever gets here!), but again, I wonder if it looks better under a sweater like my shirttail cardigan from cabi.

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Now that I’ve shopped Sue’s closet, please help me curate mine. Let me know your thoughts about these 4 tops in the comment section below.

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Do you really want to be FIERCE?

LogoIt seems that my recent fashion posts have been as much about words as they have been about fashion! First, I wrote about my present style being classy casual and what I meant by that. Then there was a post about the 3Cs… classy, confident, and comfortable. I hope you’ll bear with me today as we consider one more word that is taking a place of prominence in the world of fashion.

When I wrote F is for fashion, one of my earliest Fashion Friday posts, fierce was not one of the six F words that I focused on. In fact, it didn’t even cross my mind. There is, however, a movement started by 56 year old fashion blogger, Catherine Grace O’Connell, known as Forever Fierce that is quickly catching momentum on Facebook and she has now declared February 19 Forever Fierce Day.

“Forever Fierce Day is a celebration of the vitality, power, and wisdom of the Midlife Woman. Why? Because empowered women at Midlife are cool!” writes Catherine. “Midlife isn’t an age. It’s an experience. It’s a time when a woman begins to experience her true power while the world begins to treat her as not relevant or invisible. This is why women begin to rise and rise fiercely at Midlife.”

While I agree with her sentiment, I’m not sure I want to be known as fierce. In fact, I wasn’t sure how to respond when one woman complimented me on this top by telling me that it was fierce!

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I didn’t know her well or I might have asked her what she really meant by that. I’m guessing that fierce has just become a popular catchword and that few people really think about what they mean when they use it.

I’m a self professed word nerd, so naturally I began to wonder about the word fierce, especially as it pertains to fashion. In it’s original usage, the dictionary says that it’s an adjective meaning “having or displaying an intense or ferocious aggressiveness.” Yikes! I don’t think ferocious aggressiveness fits very well with my desire to be known as a woman of grace!

Digging deeper, I discovered that fierce was a term that was commonly used by gay men in the late 1990s and early 2000s to describe anything that was of exceptional quality. In fashion, it seems to have become a positive term used to mean cool, sexy, or awesome. Even so, I’m not sure that I’m ready to jump on the Forever Fierce bandwagon. It seems to me that perhaps a woman who has to declare herself fierce is trying just a bit too hard.

I’d love to know what you think. Do you want to be known as fierce?

Not ditching my denims!

LogoAccording to a recent and obviously very controversial study, I should have stopped wearing jeans 12 years ago!

British courier service, CollectPlus, put together a survey that revealed that by age 53, people should stop wearing their denims. Even Catherine Woolfe, Marketing Director at CollectPlus, was startled by the results. “It’s surprising to see our research reveals that many people think jeans are the reserve of the younger generation,” she said.

My initial response to the news was astonishment! Jeans are an absolute staple of my wardrobe and I can’t ever imagine the day coming when I would stop wearing them.

I’m definitely not the only one! Here’s Susan Street from Susanafter60 in hers,

Susan Street, Susanover60

Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Life wearing hers,

Jennifer Connolly, A Well Styled Life

and Alyson Walsh of That’s Not My Age wearing her jeans.

Alyson Walsh, That's Not My Age

All three fashion bloggers are over the age of 53 and I think they look darn good!

So why does CollectPlus suggest that we should stop wearing jeans at 53? Apparently, the stress that people experience while shopping for jeans becomes too intense for us by that age! Really? That’s the best they could come up with? What does a parcel delivery service know about fashion anyway? Or about conducting valid research?

What do you think? Are jeans one of your wardrobe essentials? At what age would you stop wearing them?

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.

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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?

 

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

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or this

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but very rarely one like this.

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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?

Extrovert, introvert or ambivert?

LogoI recently did one of those goofy quizzes that show up on Facebook with annoying regularity. Although most of them seem completely ridiculous, this one actually intrigued me. Pick some outfits and we’ll guess if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, it promised. After choosing the items that I would most likely wear from a series of photos, the results showed that I’m neither one. Apparently, I’m an ambivert!

As a self proclaimed word nerd, or lover of words, I was amazed that I was being assigned a label that I’d never heard of before! Doing an immediate search to find out if it was actually a real word, I discovered that an ambivert is “a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features.”

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The Facebook quiz went on to tell me “You need to have a regular hangout with friends as much as you need time to yourself. You don’t overdo it on both ends and strike the perfect balance.” It described me to a tee! I believe that I’m a natural born introvert, but that over time and with a significant amount of effort, I’ve moved toward the centre of the spectrum.

Can we really tell whether a person is an introvert or an extrovert by looking at how they dress? Should we jump to conclusions about someone’s personality based on what they’re wearing?

In my case, I think there’s truth to the idea. When I was younger, I tended to dress very conservatively. I distinctly remember that when I was in high school in the late 1960s, the “in” girls were wearing faux leather skirts and vests. I decided to spend a significant portion of my clothing allowance on an outfit like theirs, but instead of feeling great when I wore it, I felt extremely self-conscious. Anything that made me stand out, even in a good way, scared me. In my late teens and very early twenties, I went through a rebellious stage. In those days, I tended toward more extreme fashions, but even then I knew that my “who cares what anyone thinks?” attitude and clothing weren’t the real me. By the time I began my teaching career, I was back in my fashion comfort zone dressing much more conservatively. Only in recent years, as I’ve become more of an ambivert, have I also become more adventurous in what I wear, but I’ll never be someone whose clothing screams “Look at me!”

What about you? Are you an extrovert, an introvert or an ambivert? Do your fashion choices match your personality style?

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.