Checkmate!

CheckmateMy husband is a very generous man who loves to surprise me with unexpected gifts. Last Friday was my birthday and he definitely outdid himself! When cabi’s Fall 2019 Collection was released, I fell in love with the cozy Checkmate Jacket, but I balked at the price and decided not to buy it. Apparently, although I don’t remember the conversation, Richard overheard me telling our daughter about it. Engaging the help of my cabi stylist friend and another friend who was hosting a cabi party, he arranged to buy it for my birthday!

He’s definitely a winner! Checkmate!

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The jacket’s roomy, double-breasted style, shoulder pads, and faux horn buttons give it a slightly retro vibe and the soft polyester blend feels like I’m wearing a hug! Panels of stretch fabric on the inner sides of the sleeves reduce bulk and add to the comfort.

I wore it to the city on Tuesday. After seeing my doctor, hearing the good news that there’s been no significant change to my thyroid cancer, and making the decision to simply continue monitoring it, we headed over to West Edmonton Mall to check out the brand new Uniqlo store. I wasn’t really planning to buy anything, but one of the first things I spotted was this lovely orange blouse on sale for a very reasonable price.

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It was immediately obvious that it would coordinate beautifully with the jacket, so I snapped it up. I especially like the 3/4 sleeves and the shirttail hem that’s longer at the back, but I wouldn’t have bought it if I hadn’t known that I could also wear it with several other things in my closet.

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If the jacket looks familiar to you, perhaps you saw it in the August 16, 2019 issue of Family Circle magazine!

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Dressing for an autumn hike

Dressing for a hike is all about comfort, not style. I don’t want to look terrible when I’m on the trail, but I’m much more concerned about wearing clothes that are comfortable and well suited to the conditions. When we set out last Saturday morning, the sky was overcast and the temperature was 17ºC (about 63ºF). We knew that it was likely going to get warmer as the morning went by, so as always, layering was the key.

I started with a long sleeved grey and white striped Breton tee and a comfortable pair of jeans that used to be black, but are now faded to a dark charcoal grey. (Any tips for keeping black jeans from fading would be much appreciated.) Both items are several years old. Next, I added a lightweight athletic jacket that I bought at our local thrift store back in January. It was like new and was definitely one of the best $3 investments I’ve ever made! It’s been to Mexico and Europe with me and I’m sure its cost per wear is already just a few cents. The final layer was my Uniqlo ultra light down vest.

I wear a ball cap to shade my face. There’s a good reason for that. I have no depth vision. I never have had so I don’t know what I’m missing. My brain has other ways of compensating, but wearing sunglasses removes whatever sense of depth I have and makes walking on uneven ground treacherous. As a result, I never wear them when I’m hiking.

Being surefooted on the trail is important, so good sturdy footwear is vital. My Merrell hiking shoes may not be particularly glamorous, but they’re comfortable and provide excellent support.

One thing I’m not wearing is makeup. Why would I? I admit that I look a little washed out in the photos, but I was hiking! I did wear sunscreen though. Even when it’s overcast, I want to protect my skin.

As the morning progressed, the sky cleared and the temperature rose. Layers came off and by the end of our hike the jacket was tied around my waist, the vest was tucked into it’s little sack and tied to one of my belt loops, and my sleeves were pushed up.

Uniqlo is coming to Edmonton!

LogoFor those of you who might be wondering, I still haven’t found my fabric swatches! The plus side to this is the fact that I’ve now cleaned out and reorganized all twelve of my bedroom drawers. That’s right… 12! I didn’t even realize that I had that many drawers! I also went through my sewing and craft supplies. I didn’t think they’d be there, but since they weren’t where I thought they’d be, I figured it was worth checking. I even looked through a trunk full of odds and sods and keepsakes from the past in our basement storage room. When the little packet of swatches wasn’t there either, I came to the conclusion that I might have thrown it out some time in the past. I sure hope not!

On a completely different note, however, I want to share some exciting news for those of us who live in my part of the world. Popular Japanese fashion retailer, Uniqlo, is opening a store in West Edmonton Mall on Friday, September 27 at 10:00 AM! The first 200 people in line will receive a special edition tote bag and there will be other branded giveaways for the first 500 people to enter the store on opening day. When we lived in Japan, I could hop on my bike and ride over to the nearest Uniqlo store, but we live 190 km from the mall and don’t have any other reason to go to Edmonton that day, so I likely won’t be in that line up. I do have a doctor’s appointment in the city on October 8th though and I’ll definitely be checking out the new store that day!

Uniqlo (pronounced you-nee-klo) currently has 11 stores in Canada with 7 in the Greater Toronto area and four in and around Vancouver. The chain is known for innovative yet functional apparel and simple, modern designs as well as high-quality, reasonably priced, easy-to-wear basics for men, women, children and babies. Like its over 1500 stores around the world, Uniqlo’s Edmonton store will carry business attire, leisurewear, intimate apparel, and some accessories. The store will also feature a recycling initiative where customers can drop off gently used Uniqlo clothing to be passed on to those in need.

With winter approaching, Canadians might be particularly interested in the brand’s HeatTech line made of innovative fabric that absorbs body heat and stores it in air pockets deep within the fibres to keep the wearer warm. I’ve also been so impressed with my Ultra Light Down vest that I’m seriously considering buying one of the jackets as well. For additional winter comfort, the brand offers cashmere sweaters and extra fine merino garments suitable for our cold climate.

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Uniqlo has recently collaborated with UK-born fashion designer, Hana Tajima, to create the 2019 Fall/Winter HANA TAJIMA FOR UNIQLO collection. I’ve had my eye on this simple V-neck tunic since I spotted it on the website. I seldom buy clothing online, but if it’s in the store on October 8th, I’ll definitely be trying it on.

Hana Tajima for Uniqlo tunic

Welcome to Alberta, Uniqlo!

Uniqlo ultra light down vest

LogoI’ve been busy lately planning an upcoming trip. I’m not going to give away any details about our destination just yet, but in addition to going where we’ve never gone before, we’re going to be doing it with carry-on luggage only. I’ve always been pretty good at packing light. I proved that in early 2008 when we left for a full year in Japan with less than what was, at that time, the allowable limit on a plane. This trip, however, is going to take packing light to a whole new level. Three and a half weeks with one teeny, tiny suitcase each!

Though we don’t depart for almost two months, I’m already thinking about what will go into those suitcases. Traveling in the spring, we need to be prepared for varying weather conditions. One of the keys to packing light and yet being prepared for changeable weather has always been layers. Richard, in particular, likes to wear a fleece vest when he’s feeling chilly, but they’re very bulky to pack. The answer? An ultra light down vest from Uniqlo for each of us.

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I don’t really like ordering clothing online. I prefer to see, touch, and try on before I buy, but the closest Uniqlo store is 1300 km away in Vancouver, BC. Since we won’t be there before our big trip, ordering online was our only option. The process was simple and efficient with the package arriving in the mail just eight days after I placed the order.  Unfortunately, however, in spite of the fact that we tried to make sense of the online size charts, Richard’s vest was too small and will need to be returned. While shipping was free and Uniqlo provided a prepaid shipping label for returns, they will deduct a substantial shipping charge from our refund. Uniqlo Canada doesn’t currently offer exchanges for online purchases, so I’ll have to reorder. Unfortunately, the vests were on sale when I initially ordered them, but aren’t any longer. I love Uniqlo clothing, but I do think that their customer service (at least in Canada) could use some improvement.

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In spite of the frustration and extra expense of securing the right size, I think the vests will serve us well. Thin and incredibly lightweight, each comes with it’s own little stuff-sack made of the same water-repellent material as the outer shell. Once in the sack it’s about the size of a 1-litre water bottle and is by no means fully compressed when stored this way. It will easily pop into a day pack or fit amongst the other items in our luggage and add almost nothing to the weight. There’s even a little loop inside the front of the vest to attach the carrying pouch to so it doesn’t get lost.

The vest has zippered pockets in front as well as two inner pockets. There are a vast array of colours to choose from for both men and women. I chose navy, while Richard’s will be dark grey, both neutrals that will coordinate well with most of what we carry in those tiny suitcases. Do remember if you decide to order one that they fit a bit small.

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Stay tuned for more about our upcoming trip and more packing tips in the weeks ahead!

More about Uniqlo

LogoIn response to my last Fashion Friday post, one of my Facebook readers inquired about Uniqlo wondering if the company is Canadian or American. Uniqlo (pronounced YOU-nee-klo) is, in fact, a major Japanese casual apparel retailer. We fell in love with Uniqlo on our first visit to Japan in 2005. When we lived in Funabashi in 2008-09, it was a short bike ride from our apartment to the closest Uniqlo store and later, in 2013, when we spent a semester in Dalian, China we were delighted to find Uniqlo a short bus ride from home!

From one store in Hiroshima in 1984, the chain has spread across Asia and around the world. In addition to Japan and China, Uniqlo now sells inexpensive high quality fashion merchandise in stores in Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, France, Russia, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The first Uniqlo store in North America opened in Soho, New York City in 2006. Ten years later, in September 2016, Uniqlo entered the Canadian market with a store in the CF Toronto Eaton Centre. The company now operates two stores in Toronto and three in the Vancouver area with three more in the Toronto area and one in Vancouver’s eastern suburbs slated to open this fall. Once brand awareness has been well established in those two areas, the company is expected to branch out into secondary markets including Edmonton, Calgary, and Ottawa with the possibility of eventually having as many as 100 stores across the country.

For those of us in Canada who already love Uniqlo, but who live far from Toronto and Vancouver, the good news is that the company launched online sales in Canada early last month. Now you can order clothing from their mobile-only online store or app and have it delivered anywhere in Canada. As for me, I’ll be back in Vancouver next month, so I’ll shop in person.

On my last visit in June, all I was really looking for was the basic black tee that appeared in last week’s post, but before I even walked into the store, I fell in love with the dark olive sleeveless blouse on the mannequin at the entrance so it came home with me. It comes in 5 other colours and I see that it’s on sale right now.

Preparing for seasonal transition with a new neutral

LogoIf you’re like me, you probably find it easy to reach into your closet and pull out the same combinations over and over again, but once in awhile I like to put things together in new and different ways. That’s what I’ve done today.

 

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I’m not quite ready to put away my summer wardrobe and bring out my fall and winter wear, but the days are definitely getting cooler. Now’s the time for transitional pieces. Instead of capris and shorts, I’m back in jeans most days. These ones are the Brick Dust Skinny from cabi’s Spring 2018 collection. I’ve been trying to add more colour to my wardrobe and these have definitely done that. The wonderful thing about this pinkish orange colour is that it actually works like a neutral pairing well with lots of other colours and looking good on everyone. I look forward to building lots of different outfits with these pants as my base.

Today I’m wearing the Brick Dust Skinny with a basic black t-shirt from Uniqlo and an old, very well-loved cotton shirt that I bought in Japan many years ago. The colour has faded a little over time, but I love the soft muted olive. Another neutral, olive is particularly flattering to those with warm undertones and it also teams well with many other colours.

Accessories always finish an outfit and I love the way the colours in my bracelet pull this look together. I’m wearing white sneakers for a casual vibe, but I could easily dress the outfit up a bit with a different pair of shoes.

Unfortunately, cabi’s Brick Dust Skinny is no longer available, but this season’s High Skinny in a lovely grey called Smoked Pearl is essentially the same pant. I may have to add it to my closet! If you’re dying for a pair in the Brick Dust colour, Uniqlo has something similar here.  They call the colour Brown, but it looks pretty close to me.

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!

New looks

logoHave you ever noticed that adding a new basic to your wardrobe can breathe fresh life into older pieces?

I’ve only purchased one item from this season’s cabi collection, the Indulgence Tank. With it’s wide ponte waistband and two floaty layers of lightweight polyester creating a beautiful blouson effect, this pure white sleeveless top will go with practically everything.

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Here I’m wearing it with a short navy cardigan that hadn’t been out of my closet all winter. Purchased at Uniqlo shortly after my arrival in China in early 2013, it was once a wardrobe staple, but I’d grown somewhat tired of it. When I paired it with the Indulgence Tank, however, it felt almost new again.

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In these photos, you’re seeing me with more hair than usual. I normally have my hair cut every six weeks, but it’s now been almost nine weeks since I last visited my hairdresser. That’s because I’m trying to decide whether or not it’s time for a longer style. Some days, like the one pictured here, I’ve been playing around with its natural curl instead of straightening it. Regardless of what I decide, I know that it needs a good trim to give it shape, but what do you think? Cut it short again or let it grow? I really want your opinion!

Welcome to Canada, Uniqlo!

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 11.07.24 PM 3One of the things that I loved about living in Japan was Uniqlo, that country’s popular casual apparel giant. When we spent a semester in China, I was delighted to discover that Uniqlo was there too and I was able to add several basic items to the rather minimalist wardrobe that I’d brought with me.

I’ve long been hoping that Uniqlo (pronounced you-nee-klo) would come to Canada and today my wish comes true with the opening of it’s first Canadian outlet in CF Toronto Eaton Centre! A second store will open in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre, also in Toronto, on October 20. The only problem for me is that Toronto is over 3000 km away, a bit too far for a shopping trip!

The world’s fourth-largest specialty apparel company behind Zara, H&M and Gap, Uniqlo is taking a slow, cautious approach to expansion in Canada. The company eventually wants to open stores in all major cities across the country, but it hasn’t yet set a timeline for future openings.

Though not yet well-known in Canada, Uniqlo has stores in 17 other countries and is recognized for its innovative yet functional apparel and simple, modern designs as well as its high-quality, reasonably priced, easy-to-wear basics for men, women, children and babies.

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With winter approaching, Canadians might be particularly interested in the brand’s Ultra Light Down jackets and vests which fold into their own tiny carrying bags. Also of interest would be Uniqlo’s HeatTech line made of innovative fabric that absorbs body heat and stores it in air pockets deep within the fibres to keep the wearer warm. The brand also offers cashmere sweaters and extra fine merino garments suitable for our cold climate.

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Here are a just few of my favourite items from Uniqlo’s American website. Uniqlo doesn’t yet have online shopping in Canada, but items can be ordered from the US.

Biker jackets are everywhere this fall. This faux suede offering is available in black, brown and tan:

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The cotton 3/4 sleeve crew neck t-shirt is available in a wide variety of colours:

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This 2way stole comes in single colours as well as combinations like this one:

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And, of course, I love the comfy looking loungewear:

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There are also sweaters, shirts, blouses, dresses, skirts, pants, jeans, leggings, activewear, intimates, socks, slippers and numerous accessories to choose from.

Yes, welcome to Canada, Uniqlo! I can hardly wait for you to come to the west!

*Please note: This is not a paid endorsement. All photos are from either uniqlo.com/ca or uniqlo.com/us.