Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Do you like chocolate?

I've been inspired by a recent post on the Looking Stylish website: How to wear chocolate brown - colour combinations for you to try.  First of all I ate a piece of dark chocolate (it's supposed to be good for you!) and then I looked into my wardrobe to see how many chocolate items of clothing I have. Here's what I found to begin with.

There are several different shades here, just as chocolate varies from white chocolate to milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Too much chocolate though can be bad for you, so I decided to have some fruit.  Do you like oranges and peaches?

Or how about lemons and limes?

What about some vegetables - pumpkins, avocados or tomatoes? Enough of this nonsense!

The point I'm making here is that when you start with a neutral colour, you will have a wide range of accent colours that you can wear with it.  Remember though that if it's a warm neutral, you should choose warm accents. I chose these accent colours to go with my brown basics, but they will also look good with my other neutral of camel.

If your colouring is cooler than mine, you may have black, navy or grey as your neutral colour and your accent colours will obviously be cooler. However you could choose chocolate too. In her blog post, Maria of Looking Stylish shows combinations using cooler colours such as blue and pink. 

So, back to my original question: do you like chocolate?

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Holiday outfits

I checked the weather forecast before packing for my birthday holiday. We were going to Calpe for a couple of days as John's daughter and her family had booked a villa there, after which we headed to Jerez and Cádiz in southern Spain via Madrid. It wasn't going to be a beach holiday, even though we knew the weather was going to be hot, as we're more interested in walking and sight-seeing when we go on holiday. I packed one tankini as we were staying in a Spa hotel in Jerez, plus there was a roof-top hot tub in the hotel we had booked for the last night of our holiday. Apart from that, my clothes were mainly tops and bottoms that would be comfortable for sight.seeing with a couple of dresses for wearing when dining out in the evenings.

These are the clothes that I packed for this holiday: we were travelling by train so we weren't restricted by airline weight limits, though I didn't want to take too many clothes as I still had to lift my case on and off the trains!

I thought it might be interesting to post photos of some of the outfits that I wore on our holiday. Please take note of the hat in many of the photos - I'm not really a hat person but I knew we would be doing a lot of walking and at times we might have to walk in the sun rather than in the shade.




I had packed a couple of cardigans. We watch the weather on Spanish TV and had seen that it was very windy in Cádiz so I thought I might need to wear them when we went out in the evening. It was still very warm at night though and the winds had died down so I didn't need them, however they are light and don't take up much room, so next time I would still include at least one cardigan.

I have two Longchamp Le Pliage bags, which are ideal for travelling. I carry one of them and the other one folds up neatly, taking up very little space in my case. The bilberry one goes well with my brighter outfits, while the red one provides the splash of colour that I love with my neutral outfits.

The shoes I took were all chosen for comfort: a pair of Decathlon ballerina pumps and some lightweight trainers for days when we were going to be walking for several hours, plus a pair of gold sandals that are smart enough for going out in the evening, but still comfortable. I also had a pair of flip flops for when we visited the spa and the roof-top hot tub.

We were away for 10 days, however I haven't any photos of the outfits I wore for travelling or for going out at night. I must try to remedy that on our next holiday - you can tell that I'm not a professional blogger!

Saturday, 20 August 2016

From Travel Wardrobe to Whatever's Clean

In my previous post, I showed you what the brilliant Janice from The Vivienne Files included in her travel six-pack and I then showed my own version. The actual number of items of clothing was nine, with six pieces packed plus a travel outfit.  

If you follow the above link, you can see how Janice then expanded this to create a Whatever's Clean wardrobe of just 13 pieces. The idea is that everything should mix with everything else in your capsule, so you don't end having to wear a couple of clean pieces that clash horribly. (I've experienced this myself when on holiday, partly due to the number of colourful pieces I had packed!) In reality most of us will have more than 13 items of clothing in our wardrobe, but creating your own Whatever's Clean capsule is still a useful exercise and definitely comes in handy when travelling. 

You can see the 13 pieces Janice that included in her version of Whatever's Clean in the following pictures. To start with there are three "toppers", then six tops including a couple of patterned pieces, and finally four bottoms including one skirt.  In her blog post she explains the thought process behind expanding her travel wardrobe.

I followed a similar thought process myself. I added a camel cardigan to make three toppers, then chose two more tops, making six tops in total. Finally, I added a pair of cropped white trousers and my Whatever's Clean was complete.

Like Janice's version, my capsule can be combined to create numerous different outfits. Obviously some combinations will look better than others, but it's still a versatile wardrobe. If, like me, you enjoy wearing lots of different colours, you might find this a useful exercise to see how versatile your own wardrobe is and perhaps to identify any gaps. If you're taking part in Project 333 (where you select a total of 33 items of clothing to wear for the next 3 months) you could create a second Whatever's Clean capsule using a different colour scheme - and you would still have seven items to spare!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

My colourful "six-pack" travel wardrobe

I've been a fan of The Vivienne Files for a long time, and Janice has been the inspiration behind many of the posts on my blog. I was very excited by her latest series of posts, using beige, bright blue and orange, as I have similar colours in my own wardrobe. As I have a holiday coming up at the end of the month, I thought I would see how much of her six-pack travel capsule I could use to create my own travel wardrobe.  Below you can see Janice's version and the link to her post is above.

There are actually nine items of clothing shown, however three pieces will be worn when travelling while the other six will be packed into the travel bag. If I was flying hand luggage only, this would work well for a week's holiday or even two weeks if I did some hand washing. I'm travelling by train though, and we'll be away for ten days, so my travel capsule will contain a few extra items.

I have shown nine items of clothing in the above pictures, giving me a travel outfit and six-pack like Janice's, however I am lucky enough not to be limited by hand luggage restrictions on size and weight for this trip, so I will add the following items.

My final selection consists of a white short-sleeved lace top, an orange tank top, a green and yellow dress (which I admit doesn't fit in with my colour scheme!) and a loose navy top.  I will be checking the weather forecast just before I actually pack my case. If it's going to be hot in southern Spain, I will probably leave the blue jacket behind and just take the orange cardigan. My accessories will be chosen to fit in with this capsule: I have a couple of blue scarves, a beige bag and shoes, plus coral and gold earrings.

I will be celebrating my birthday while we're away, so I may very well treat myself to something new in orange or blue to fit in with this colour scheme! In my next post I will be talking about expanding this capsule to create a "whatever's clean" wardrobe so I can identify any potential gaps.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Discovering your best looks

If you've followed my blog for a while, you'll know that I'm always looking for ways to look chic, to find out which colours flatter me the most and to generally become a more stylish over-60 woman. A tall order you may think, considering I'm just over 5' tall and not as slim as I was - not to mention the wrinkles!

Once we're over 60, assuming we want to look our best while avoiding the "mutton dressed a lamb" tag, most of us need to re-evaluate our wardrobes. The trigger is often when we've retired and realise that we have a wardrobe full of outfits suitable for working, but not what we'd choose to wear on a daily basis now that we're not bound by office rules.

My own wardrobe has gradually changed since we moved to Spain eight years ago: for a start, I need a lot more summer clothes than I did when we lived in London! As well as following the 7 Steps to Style system and joining the Looking Stylish Style Club, I have gleaned lots of helpful information from other bloggers. On a personal level, I really value the comments on my own blog, which help me to understand what outfits look good on me and which ones are a bit blah! During the 30 Chic Days challenge, these were the outfits that received favourable comments.

Coral definitely suits me
Slimming lines with navy

A deep warm red
A neutral look

Another neutral look - for evening
In the past, I've posted photos of myself wearing warm colours and cool colours, asking my readers which they thought suited me the best. From their feedback, I would say that warm looks better than cool on me, however I'm ok in some cooler shades. I now have to avoid too bright colours, which tend to wear me (though when I was in my 30s and even in my 40s I could get away with them). Icy shades are a definite no-no too as are paler colours. I have learnt that as an over-60 year old I look better in warm, soft and deep colours. Remember that as we age our colouring tends to change, so don't assume that what suited you in your 40s will still flatter you.

All of these outfits consist of straight or slim leg trousers plus tops. I posted a photo of myself in culottes, which was given a definite thumbs down! If you're taller and slimmer than me, though, you probably look fabulous in culottes.

I love colour, however I'm best in neutrals or with just one colour in my outfit as I'm low colour contrast, though I'm also high value contrast so can wear both light and dark shades of the same colour. In my evening look, although the outfit is mainly neutral, I'm wearing an orange camisole (which you can just see) with matching earrings. In the first three looks, I'm wearing a pendant to draw the eyes down and (hopefully!) make me look slimmer. Once I've decided what clothes to wear, I've learnt to evaluate an outfit and see what accessories will finish it off, whether it's a splash of colour, a long pendant or a scarf in a flattering shade.

What about you? You may prefer wearing dresses, or might look better in brighter, cooler colours. Taking photos is helpful if you want to discover your best looks - you can see things that you don't spot when you look in a mirror. Take note when friends compliment you (like I take note of favourable comments on my blog), especially when they mention how well you look or how a colour suits you. If they say "I love that dress", it may just be because it's a colour or style that would suit them, so be wary.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

30 Chic Days - last days and review

Days 29 & 30 (Saturday and Sunday)

Outfit - day 29
Outfit - day 30
Above, you can see the last two outfits from my 30 Chic Days challenge. Click on the link if you want more information about being chic and to read Fiona's great posts. You can also check out Juhli's blog to see how she got on during her 30 Chic Days.

Fiona's goal is to live a more chic, healthy and elegant life, which was the raison d'être behind me deciding to try my own 30 Chic Days. I gave a bit more thought to the outfits I wore each day, trying to look as chic and elegant as possible rather than grabbing the first clothes that came to hand. I'm not saying that I succeeded in looking as chic as the average Frenchwoman, however I think I raised my game a bit. I was looking for flattering colours, combining tops and bottoms to create better outfits, plus the addition of accessories to complete my look,

The healthy part of my 30 days consisted of becoming more aware of what I was eating and how I was moving. One of the most important lessons that I learnt from reading Fiona's blog was to think about portion size rather than going on a restrictive diet. We are lucky enough to be able to buy fresh fruit and vegetables that are grown locally, as well as fresh fish caught in the Mediterranean, extra virgin olive oil produced in the town where we live, plus the red wine for which Jumilla is renowned. Mediterranean diet anyone? When we decide occasionally to eat ready meals, we go for healthier choices, however my aim is to find more recipes for meals that can be prepared in a flash, apart from omelettes or tortillas!

We live on the edge of a small Spanish town and don't have a car, so we walk a lot. Even so, trying to reach my target of 10,000 steps a day wasn't always easy, especially at weekends when we didn't go shopping or on days when we didn't meet friends for coffee. We have a dog Lisa (photobombing me in the photo on day 30) who is taken for walks several times a day, but in the hot weather she isn't so keen on long walks. It was helpful to keep an eye on my number of steps to make sure I reached my target and, if necessary, take Lisa for an extra walk. My daily average over the last week was 10,971 steps.

The BBC website has an interesting article about getting rid of belly fat. You can read it here. The reason I am linking to this is because the most successful dieters didn't make many changes to their diets: they just watched their portion sizes, cut out snacks between meals and tried to make healthy choices.

They also kept active, but without doing sit-ups or fad exercises. Does this sound familiar? Many blogs and books written about how Frenchwomen keep slim mention that they seldom go to the gym but they walk a lot, including having to use the stairs, as many Parisian apartment blocks don't have lifts. I must stick to my resolve to keep using the stairs unless I have heavy shopping or luggage.

I didn't do as much reading as I had planned, spending too much time on blogging or reading other blogs. I now have a pile of books, magazine and newspapers to read for the rest of the month as my aim is to spend less time on my computer.

Finally, it definitely helps to have a focus, which in my case was to eat more healthily while cutting down my portion sizes. Although I wasn't dieting I did lose 1.7 kilos (3.7 lbs) without even trying. The secret being, as already mentioned, a combination of eating in a healthy, mindful way as well as gentle, regular exercise.

I also focused on creating a more cohesive wardrobe using my 33 items of clothing. Looking critically at the outfits I wore over the 30 days, there were a few that didn't really flatter me. Wearing a light top with dark bottoms, cutting me in half at my widest point, isn't a good look. Culottes on short women? Don't go there!

My final words should come from Fiona, who told me 30 Chic Days is meant to be fun and enjoyable, not stressful. I definitely enjoyed the experience and learnt a lot from taking part. Why not join me the next time I give it a go?

Sunday, 10 July 2016

30 Chic Days - days 26, 27 and 28

Fiona has already finished her 30 Chic Days and Juhli is almost there, so I need to get a move on!

Day 26 (Wednesday)

Outfit - day 26

Day 27 (Thursday)
Outfit - day 27

Day 28 (Friday)
Outfit - day 28
If you've read the post about my Summer capsule of 33 items of clothing, you may remember that I only have seven pairs of trousers and eighteen tops, plus two skirts, two dresses and a couple of cardigans. As my "uniform" consists of trousers and tops, inevitably that means that over the course of thirty days I will be wearing my trousers many times and wearing most tops on several occasions.As you can see above, I wore the same trousers on Wednesday and Friday this week, but with different tops.

I don't know how some women manage with a ten item wardrobe, especially in the heat. The good news about living in Spain is that I can hand wash clothes in the afternoon, put them outside, and bring them in dry at the end of the day! However I do like some variety in my outfits, and I don't want to be washing clothes every day, so I'm going to stick with my thirty three items wardrobe.

Talking about variety, it's been helpful to be aware of what I'm eating over the 30 days and to think about trying different meals. Lunch was pitta with hummus on a couple of days, but with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon in between. I made sure that dinner was different every day: salade niçoise on Wednesday, bulgar wheat with roasted vegetables on Thursday and fish (what else?) on Friday. Healthy eating is my main aim, which is fairly easy to achieve with the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables grown locally, however I also think it's good to try out new recipes to add some variety to our diet.

Movement over the course of the day is important, which is why I am using my fitbit to monitor my steps. I am also getting into the habit of using the stairs rather than the lift when going up to our second floor apartment. I'm not sure how impressed our dog Lisa is with the new routine!

In my final post I will include some of the lessons learnt over the course of my 30 Chic Days challenge. I'd also be interested in hearing your thoughts about how useful this series has been.