Friday, 12 April 2019

21 Steps to a More Stylish You

Regular readers will know how much I enjoy doing style courses in the hope that one day I will become super stylish! My latest attempt has been the most intensive yet, as it contains 21 steps. At the time of writing I'm on step 15: prints and texture.

The topics covered so far include style personality, lifestyle and age, colour, levels of refinement, style goals, the golden ratio and the ideal silhouette. The on-line course is being run by Sylvia of 40+ Style along with Ruth, who is a UK based stylist. If you click on the link you will find many helpful articles as well as information about joining the Style Club.

Most of us know about colour analysis and have some idea whether we have warm or cool, soft or bright and deep or light colouring. Or do we? Having been told in the past that I was a Winter, more recently the consensus has been that I have warm colouring! I won't mention the make-up consultation that I had on a recent trip to London though, where I was told that I have cool colouring....! Putting that on one side (I'm guessing that I'm a border-line case) my lifestyle is clear, as is my age and body shape. My style personality when I did a style analysis was Natural Gamine, and my own interpretation is colourful casual chic. I think the photo below sums me up well: definitely colourful, obviously casual and hopefully chic.

My lifestyle is very casual as I'm retired, plus I spend a lot of time walking my dog Lisa, going to exercise classes and sitting at my PC writing blog posts, as well as reading other blogs. I do go to the theatre sometimes, as well as dining out with friends, so occasionally I dress up a bit more. I found the step on levels of refinement very helpful, as it described the types of clothes that fit into the five levels. Most of my wardrobe is level two (very casual or sports clothing) and level three (casual or smart casual), with a smattering of level four (very smart daywear or evening wear). 

Another helpful topic was the golden ratio, which is particularly relevant to those of us who are vertically challenged! Even when I buy petite tops, I have to take care that they don't cut me in half, giving me a 50-50 ratio, which can make me look wider and shorter. I often resort to wearing long cardigans or waistcoats (vests) to give me a more flattering silhouette.

Image may contain: Sue Walker, smiling, standing, shoes and indoor

The above photo highlights the use of a longer cardigan, plus a column of colour, to create a more flattering shape. I am also using a touch of my favourite red in the scarf plus my bag.

I am in the process of going through my spring and summer wardrobe and already it has become apparent that I have lots of colourful tops and mainly neutral trousers. Not exactly a surprise to those who know me. At the same time, I will be going back to step 13 (closet edit) and step 14 (what's missing?).  All of this has to be completed over the next few weeks, ready for a trip to Paris and London at the beginning of May, with the aim of blending in with all those super stylish Parisians and Londoners!

Monday, 21 January 2019

Blue Monday? No way!

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and water

I've been considering writing a post about my Word of the Year, however I have been distracted by all the on-line comments about Blue Monday! Apparently today is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year, however I for one have had an enjoyable day. What about you? Do you have anything to be seriously depressed about? Me neither.

Today has admittedly been very cold, but I am lucky enough to live in a modern apartment and, although I don't have central heating, I have electric fires that heat my home very efficiently. I also have plenty of food in the fridge so I won't go hungry and enough money to go shopping when supplies get low. This morning I took my dog Lisa to one of my local cafés for coffee and a croissant, which only cost me 2 euros, and we were able to sit outside in the sun (and sheltered from the cold wind.)

I am fortunate that I don't have any health problems at the moment - I do hope that I'm not tempting fate! - so I am able to enjoy a fairly active lifestyle. This morning I went to a dance exercise class near my house and this evening I enjoyed a Flamenco style class at a different dance studio. Apart from going for a coffee this morning with Lisa, I have obviously had to walk her several times over the course of the day. Each time I was well wrapped up, particularly for the early and late walks of the day. I am lucky to have her company in the house, which stops me feeling lonely. I am fortunate in having many good friends too, both here in Spain and also in the UK and other parts of the world.

Regular readers of this blog know that my 2018 wasn't the best of years (in fact you could say it was my annus horribilis), however there were many good moments too, including a very special wedding in Florence, birthday celebrations with my family in London and a lovely holiday with my daughters in Ljubljana.

I am determined that 2019 will be my annus mirabilis, which is why I wasn't going to allow a Blue Monday to spoil it. I'm a great believer in positive thinking and take the view that if you have negative thoughts you are more likely to have negative experiences in life. Think positive and the chances are that you will have a more positive life.

So what is my Word of the Year going to be? If you haven't already guessed, it is Positive. I have already outlined above some of the many reasons I have for being positive. My next trip to the UK will be in March, when I will be attending a friend's 75th birthday party as well as being spoilt by my three children on Mother's Day (in the UK it will be on Sunday March 31st). I also have another exciting holiday planned: I will be meeting a friend, who now lives in Australia, in Paris in early May. I can't wait! The picture above is from a trip to Paris in 2012, just to whet my appetite.

I'm hoping that as 2019 unfolds there will be other positive experiences, and my wish is for all of you to have a positive year as well. In case you are wondering about New Year's resolutions by the way, I have only made one: to stay positive throughout the year.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

31 Days of Gifts

Whether the build up to Christmas makes you slightly stressed or you count down the days joyfully, you might still enjoy having an Advent Calendar, with the fun of opening a box every day that contains a small gift. Today I'd like to introduce you to an Advent Calendar with a difference, one that doesn't cost you a small fortune: it's the 31 Days of Gifts You so Deserve, which is an Advent Calendar for your Inbox. It will certainly make a welcome change from your Inbox overflowing with dozens of emails about Black Friday and Cyber Monday! If you click on the link above you can find out more.

I've taken part in previous years and have loved the recipes, playlists, inspiration and other themes for each day. If you decide to sign up for it, I'm sure you will enjoy the gifts as much as I have. Courtney Carver, who is the creator of 31 Days of Gifts, is also the inspiration behind Project 333. Don't worry if you don't sign up until after December 1st, as Courtney will make sure you don't miss out. At the end of each email there will be links to the previous gifts.

Decléor Advent Calendar

I should now confess that I've also treated myself to the Decléor Advent Calendar as shown above! I know that I will use all the products that it contains and the smaller sizes are ideal when travelling with hand luggage only. In previous years I have bought Beauty Advent Calendars and discovered that many of the products weren't ones that I would use.  I'm now wary of spending lots of money to buy products that in theory would cost a lot more, giving me great savings, but in practice aren't ones that I would normally buy. It means that I'm wasting my money rather than saving it. This time at least I know that I will be getting value for my money.

However I still suspect that I will get as much pleasure from my daily gifts from Courtney as from the more expensive Decleor products. If you decide to sign up for the 31 Days of Gifts too, I hope that you will enjoy them. Please let me know in the comments below what you think of this or any other Advent Calendar that you decide to purchase.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Black Friday - in the red Monday?


It's oh so tempting, isn't it? All these incredible offers that are causing our inboxes to overflow and popping up on Facebook to lure us onto their websites. Even if you manage to resist them, no doubt your local shops have huge signs in their windows that you can't avoid seeing when you go out.

 Yes, even in Spain I'm being inundated with exclusive offers!

If you haven't already succumbed, I would suggest taking a look in your wardrobe before maxing on your credit card to see if you really need anything new. If your winter coat is looking a bit shabby and you've been thinking of replacing it, maybe this would be a good opportunity to do so - unless of course you already have six other winter coats that are still looking good! Will this new jumper that you're about to purchase go with at least three other items in your wardrobe, or will you need a new skirt and pair of shoes to go with it? That dress is definitely in one of this season's on-trend colours, but will that colour actually suit you?

If I haven't managed to put you off making some impulsive purchases, I have a final suggestion. Make a list of what you need first, then please consider making your purchases from an ethical company like People Tree, who are having a Fair Friday instead of a Black Friday. Click on the following link to find out more: People Tree.

Monday, 19 November 2018

My Autumn 33 piece wardrobe

I know that we're well into autumn, and winter is fast approaching, but isn't the old saying "Better late than never"? This is my Autumn 33 piece capsule wardrobe, which is in the spirit of Project 333, though I confess that I don't follow it to the letter. The idea behind Project 333 is to have a capsule wardrobe of 33 items or less to last you for 3 months. Many people include accessories, however I restrict myself to items of clothing. You may recognise the first 8 items, as they are the pieces that I chose for the 10 x 10 challenge.

My regular readers know how much I love colour, though I am trying to include more neutrals in my wardrobe as I know that will make it more versatile. As well as the brown trousers and navy jeans shown above, I have included bottoms in camel, dark grey, burgundy and another navy pair. There's a navy cardigan, a bronze belted cardigan, a brown tweed jacket plus a navy and grey striped jacket. My outerwear consists of a short burgundy jacket, a longer beige puffer jacket and a navy wool coat. I do hope that you're suitably impressed!

Did somebody mention that there's a red skirt shown below with a matching top? Well spotted! In my defence, we are approaching the party season, so I have added those two pieces as they can be worn together or separately and are ideal for Christmas time.

My accents colours are shades of red, orange, green and blue. If my outfit of the day is one of the navy striped tops with the navy cardigan and bottoms, I'll probably add my red bag or other red accessories to brighten it up.

I am also trying to include as many of my Autumn palette colours as possible, although I'm not going to throw out every piece of clothing that I possess that is in a "wrong" colour!

Let's finish with the mathematics. In my Autumn 33 piece wardrobe there are seven bottoms if you include the skirt, though it will probably only be worn for parties. I have seventeen tops and I may very well wear the red top shown beside the skirt with a pair of  trousers in the daytime. If I multiply 7 by 17 it will give me a total of 119 possible combinations, which is more than enough to give me a different outfit each day during the next three months. 

However some of the combinations won't really look that good, so I worked out how many of them were outfits I would actually wear and the figure was eighty, which I think is still pretty impressive. I haven't even mentioned adding one of the two jackets or two cardigans. Let's not forget the outerwear, which I'm already wearing now that it's becoming colder in Spain and will definitely need when I'm in the UK.

Talking about mathematics, I do know that I'm only showing 32 pieces of clothing here and it is proof that you don't need a huge wardrobe to create lots of different outfits, but I reserve the right to add a final piece when I go to London next month to spend Christmas with my family! 

Of the pieces shown above, only six items have been added since last year, and they have replaced clothing that has been taken to the recycling bins. "Be more with less" is the name of Courtney's website where you'll find out about Project 333. I think it's a motto that we should all adopt. What do you think? 

PS Exciting news: I am taking part in the UK Blog Awards for the first time! If you'd like to vote for me (pretty please!) click on the following link. I'm under the category Fashion, and I'd love it if you clicked on my heart! 

Friday, 9 November 2018

10 x 10 challenge - part two

The second part of the challenge was (dare I say it?) a bit more challenging, as on days seven to ten I had to wear tops that I had already worn, but ensure that the outfits were completely different. I made sure that I wore different bottoms with each top, but also used accessories to change my look.

On day six I wore my new cardigan (which can be belted or worn loose as in the photo below), which is already proving its worth now that temperatures are dropping.

Day 6 outfit

Day 7 outfit
Day 8 outfit
For the second half of the challenge I pulled out a few scarves from my collection and wore those rather than necklaces to change the look of my outfits. I also swapped my red bag for a bright blue one, which I carried on the days I wore my navy jeans. If you're creating a capsule wardrobe for a holiday, these are good ways to add more variety to your looks without paying excess baggage fees!

Day 9 outfit
Day 10 outfit
Having survived the 10 x 10 challenge, limiting myself to ten items of clothing over the last ten days, I'm now looking forward to Project 333 and expanding my Autumn wardrobe to thirty three pieces! Did any of you take part in this challenge, or are you all waiting for Project 333?

Friday, 2 November 2018

Are you a conscious shopper?

Those of you who live in the UK, or have access to the BBC's iPlayer, may have seen a programme in the series "Stacey Dooley Investigates", where she uncovered some of  Fashion's Dirty Secrets. If not, you might like to look at this clip, where Stacey took to the street to talk to shoppers and to demonstrate to them how much water goes into producing just one cotton item. The actual documentary upset me, especially when Stacey travelled to the Aran Sea and showed the shocking environmental impact caused by the fashion industry, but even worse was the detrimental effect of the polluted rivers on local children's health.

I know that I've been as guilty as many other shoppers when hunting for a bargain to add to my ever-increasing wardrobe. Taking part in challenges such as Project 333 and my current 10 x 10 challenge is helping me realise that I really don't need that many clothes, however we have to be realistic. I go through my wardrobe at the start of each new season, discarding anything that is past its best (nowadays I take them to the recycling bins) and this does create gaps. However I have resolved to shop more consciously in future and look at the ethical policies of any on-line companies that I am considering purchasing from. My latest purchases were from Mint Velvet, a company that is based in the UK although they deliver internationally. Click on the link above to read their ethical policy.

Mint Velvet top
This new red top instantly became my latest favourite, partly because red is one of my best colours, but also because of the gold stripes down each arm. Even better, it was in the sales!

One of my favourite online companies is Kettlewell, as they specialise in producing clothes and accessories in seasonal colours. You can read about their production and ethics here and I also recommend reading their blog. Other British companies that I have used are People Tree, the fairtrade fashion pioneer, and FatFace, who issued a '360' sustainability policy in 2016. Friends of mine have also recommended Thought and Seasalt. Although these are UK companies, they do deliver internationally. Do you have any ethical companies that you can recommend? If so please leave a comment below with details.

You might also like to read this blog post of mine that I wrote five and a half years ago. Have things improved since then? It doesn't look like it, so it is up to all of us to shop more consciously and spread the message. What I do know, having worked for a while in the retail industry, is that the big companies are interested in profits. If we become conscious shoppers and it hits their profits, they are more likely to do something about it - sad but true!