Friday, 29 August 2014

Packing light for France?

We're starting our holiday tomorrow morning.  We will be spending one night in Alicante before boarding a train to Barcelona, where we will have time for a leisurely lunch before catching the train from Barcelona to Toulouse. The good news is that we are travelling by train so we don't have to worry about the weight of our cases or put all our liquids into a small clear airline-approved bag. There isn't any bad news, except for the fact that the apartment we are renting in Toulouse is on the second floor and there isn't a lift!  Still, weight training is supposed to be good for women of a certain age.

This is my capsule wardrobe for our holiday in France.


As we aren't having to travel with hand luggage only, I decided to indulge myself and so I've included a top for every day of our holiday.  You may have spotted my new patterned trousers, pink short-sleeved shirt and blue camisole, which I will wear for going out in Alicante on our first night. At the top on the right I have shown a striped dress, with a red belt, which I wore in Paris for my 65th birthday. I always feel chic when I wear this dress, so I'm taking it to wear for dinner on my 67th birthday in Toulouse.  I am packing the white pair of trousers and will be wearing the black pair for travelling, with one of the tops and possibly the cascade cardigan.

I am hoping that I won't need to wear the Mango jacket, however it will be colder in the evenings in France, so it's being packed "just in case". Next to the jacket is my navy cascade cardigan, which is lightweight and ideal for slightly cooler days. The white wedge-heeled sandals are comfortable for walking but smart enough for evenings, whereas the grey pair of Decathlon shoes are ideal for walking around town in the day-time when we're doing a lot of sight-seeing. I'm also taking a pair of navy ballet flats and the navy shoulder bag.

As well as the above items I will be packing underwear, nightwear, toiletries, jewellery and other essentials like my tablet and camera.  Plus - don't tell my husband John! - there is still room for any purchases that I may make in France. I have noticed that there is a Monoprix in Toulouse as well as a branch of Longchamp!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Visible Monday - warm-weather layers

I've just spotted an interesting post on Not Dead Yet Style (don't you love the name of her blog?) regarding warm weather layers. I must admit that, during the summer months here in Spain, the idea of wearing layers isn't very tempting, especially during the day-time with temperatures at over 30 degrees centigrade.

However the other evening we were going to be sitting outside one of our favourite restaurants watching the Cabalgata Tradicional (traditional wine procession) in Jumilla, so I decided to wear layers in case it became cooler at midnight! This was my outfit - the photo was taken after we returned home at 00.38.


The top layer was a short-sleeved pink shirt from the Ines de la Fressange collection in Uniqlo, which I spotted on my trip to London in July. Underneath it I am wearing a blue camisole top and the patterned trousers that I bought recently from Kettlewell Colours, ready for my holiday to France next week. You may spot the dark grey wrap tied to my bag, which would have been an additional layer apart from the fact that it wasn't needed. I loved wearing this shirt as it skims over any wobbly bits and, though the angle of the photo doesn't do it justice, I think this is a flattering look for women of a certain age.  This outfit is definitely going to be packed for our trip!

Why not click on the link and have a look at Not Dead Yet Style?  I love Patti's outfit and I also love "Une Femme's", which is where I discovered the link for Visible Monday.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Creating your wardrobe: time to expand

The summer sales are in full swing here in Spain, and I know from the countless emails in my inbox that there are sales in most on-line shops, so no doubt there are sales in your area too.  Before giving into temptation and buying everything that catches your fancy, look at your wardrobe and identify pieces that will go with your neutral and accent colours and add to its versatility.

I've already ordered a couple of pieces from Kettlewell Colours to take on holiday. Kettlewell sell colours for all seasons (I'm a Jewel Winter), so I am confident that any new purchases will go with my existing wardrobe. I've decided to embrace the printed trouser trend (I know, I'm a bit late!) as I'm sure it will put me into the holiday mood.

Assuming that you have a basic wardrobe in your most flattering neutrals with some accent colours, this is a good opportunity to expand it.  Please note that I am not telling you that you have to go on a spending spree, just advising you that,when you buy any new clothes, you should make sure that they help to fill in any gaps.


You can see the individual items shown above in more detail on Polyvore: just click on this link. As you may have noticed, I've added some more accent pieces, including a blue dress and a top that combines the accent colours. Bearing in mind that this wardrobe is intended to cover the whole year, I have included some linen tops, linen trousers and a pair of sandals for the summer months, plus a pair of shorts and trainers/sneakers that are ideal for holidays and weekends. To start with our neutrals were navy and white, but another neutral makes the expanded wardrobe more interesting as well as more versatile, so I have added some grey pieces including a navy and silver striped knit.

Depending on your climate and your individual taste, you might want to add in a winter coat, get rid of the dresses and skirt or replace most of the jackets and cardigans with cotton blouses. What I'm hoping to do is inspire you to look at your own wardrobe more objectively and design one to suit both your personality and your lifestyle. Bearing this in mind, here is my version of an expanded wardrobe for those of you who look better in warmer colours.


Here is the link if you want to see these items in more detail on Polyvore: link. You can even buy some of these clothes on-line, but don't tell anyone that I told you!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Creating your wardrobe: introduce your accent pieces

Remember that this is supposed to be your wardrobe that you're creating, so it may bear no resemblance to mine. Although I have gradually introduced more neutrals into my own wardrobe, I still love bright colours so my accent pieces, not surprisingly, are bright blue and purple. If you're more of a neutral sort of girl, you may prefer adding lighter neutrals to contrast with the dark neutrals and maybe wear a colourful necklace or pair of ear-rings for a slight touch of colour.
You can see the first few pieces with the white top and shirt in the middle of the picture. I have added in a pair of dark wash denims, two tops in my accent colours, a couple of scarves, a navy cross-body bag and some jewellery. The jeans make this capsule a bit more casual, however you might prefer a skirt, especially if your style personality is romantic or your Feng Shui type is the Pleasure Seeker or Perfectionist.

With two bottoms and four tops, plus a jacket or cardigan, the capsule would make a good starting point for a weekend away or even a week's holiday, maybe adding a pair of heeled shoes or boots and a dressy top for going out to dinner.

The above capsule wardrobe is looking good for me, however I haven't forgotten those of you who look better in warmer colours.
This time I have added a skirt and bag in the same dark neutral, with yellow and orange accents to brighten it up. If you're not really a scarf person, you might want to try tying a scarf to the handle of your bag to add a touch of colour.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Creating your wardrobe: the first few pieces

If you have been following this series of posts on creating a wardrobe from scratch, hopefully you will have discovered your most flattering colours and best styles. You should also know what your style personality is and all you have to do now is start building a personalised wardrobe using these guidelines.

Wait though before you hit the shops with your credit card or start browsing on the internet, as you may already possess some key pieces in your existing wardrobe. Be ruthless as you go through your clothes, rejecting anything that doesn't fit you properly, doesn't flatter you, is past its best or that you don't really love. Hopefully you will still be left with some great items to form the basis of your wardrobe.

Based on Janice's inspiring series "Starting from Scratch" on The Vivienne Files blog, these are the first few essential pieces. If you don't already own them, you have my permission to add them to your shopping list!

1. A pair of trousers that fits you properly and flatters your shape.

Although this would be top of my list as my personal style is slanted towards casual chic, I would suggest that if you aren't keen on trousers you should make your first item a skirt that fits you properly especially if that works better for your lifestyle and style personality. Your trousers (or skirt) should be in your main neutral colour and the best quality that you can afford. Please note that it doesn't have to be black, grey or navy if warm colours look better on you. Many lists of "must haves" specify a pair of black tailored trousers, a white button-down shirt and little black dress. If you look great in chocolate brown and cream rather than black and white, those should be the colours you buy rather than the prescribed colours.

2.  A good pair of comfortable shoes.

I deliberately added in the word "comfortable" to dissuade you from buying that gorgeous pair of high heels that you've had your eye on for a while, which will cripple you as soon as you try to walk down the road. Again, the idea is to buy the best shoes that you can afford in a style that won't date, in the same neutral as your trousers or skirt.

3. A cardigan or jacket and a shirt.

Gone are the days where you would automatically buy a matching jacket and skirt or trousers for work - otherwise known as a suit! I still own a skirt suit and a trouser suit, but I never wear them now that I have retired. (Maybe it's time that I retired them too!) These are also going to be in your neutral colours, which may be perfect for many of you, though if you're like me you are probably impatiently waiting for some accent colours. Choose either a cardigan or jacket in the same neutral as your trousers or skirt, plus a contrasting shirt or top. You now have  one complete outfit.




The first outfit, using neutrals of navy and white, is based on similar items in my own wardrobe and the navy striped jacket in the photo is the same as the one that I own.  The jacket makes the outfit slightly dressier, and when I used to work in a casual office this would have been perfect for work as well as suiting my personal style.

When I decided to use Polyvore to create a different outfit for those of you with warmer colouring, I discovered something interesting. Most of the brown jackets shown on the website were made from leather and most of the brown pairs of trousers were very casual, so the second outfit might not be suitable for all working environments. If you wore the jacket with a skirt and pair of low heels it would probably look more professional than the basics I have shown. Unless you have a strict dress code at work or have to wear a uniform, I still think that it is advisable to stick to the colours and styles that look best on you. What do you think? Of course those of us over 60s who have retired don't have the same problems when choosing what to wear on a daily basis, though we may still have the occasional dressy events to attend.

My next post will introduce some accent colours  - just for me! - and we will be building on these basic items. to create a more versatile wardrobe.





Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Creating your wardrobe: step by step

Before you even think about creating your new wardrobe you should decide on your best neutral and accent colours and whether you look better in cool or warm shades.  This isn't necessarily straightforward. When I've posted photos of myself in both warm and cool shades on this blog, readers haven't always agreed on which colours flatter me the most! Maybe I'm a borderline case, but for the moment I'm going to stick to the Jewel Winter colours that I've been wearing since my colour analysis last year. Luckily I already had several items in my existing wardrobe such as the blue top below.



The next question you should be considering is what shapes and styles suit you best.  As an example, I am short (5' and a bit) and rectangle-shaped (i.e. no real waist) so I know that beautiful floaty long skirts and figure-hugging curvy tops aren't my best looks, even though they can look stunning on other women. Trousers usually suit me and I like jackets and tops that gently curve giving the illusion that I have a waist, so you will find these in my wardrobe.

Finally, what is your style personality? I have written several posts looking at this subject from different perspectives and recently started a series of "Creating from scratch" using Feng Shui Fashion.

Within Feng Shui, there are five different Feng Shui Fashion types:  the creative Philosophers (Water); the sporty Pioneer (Wood element); the dramatic Pleasure Seekers (Fire); classic, traditional Peacemakers (Earth types) and finally the elegant Perfectionists, whose element is Metal. You may want to read my first post on the 5 Feng Shui types if you haven't already done so.

Another post that you might like to reference is my guide to your DIY Personal Style Analysis written after several people commented that they would love to have a personal style analysis but there wasn't anybody in their area. Style icons for gamines include Audrey Hepburn and Audrey Tatou or maybe you're a dramatic like Joan Collins and Iris Apfel. If you're not so flamboyant, you could have a classic style personality similar to Michelle Obama and Gwyneth Paltrow or perhaps you are a natural like Cameron Diaz or Jennifer Aniston. If you're small but delicate and feminine rather than boyish, you are probably an ingĂ©nue like Goldie Hawn and Charlene Tinton. Finally we have the romantics, with Sophia Loren and Catherine Zeta Jones being their celebrity style icons.


This outfit illustrates my personal style, which is natural gamine. Don't worry if you feel that none of the above categories fits you though - just create your own personal style and call it whatever you want.

Now that you have decided on your best colours, shapes and styles you can start thinking about creating a wardrobe that will be perfect for you. I have shown several examples of capsule wardrobes - and maybe one of them resonated with you - but at the end of the day you are looking for clothes that suit you, that are appropriate for your lifestyle and above all that you love.

In my next post, I will show you how to gradually build up your capsule wardrobe. In the meantime, I suggest that you pull all your clothes and accessories out of your wardrobe and select those that fit the above criteria to form the basis of your wardrobe.


Friday, 25 July 2014

Project 333. Summer 33

I'm afraid I've been rather distracted recently, writing several posts about creating a wardrobe from scratch, plus a few more about Fashion Feng Shui, so this is a long overdue article about my Summer 33.

For anyone new to Project 333, the basic idea is to create a wardrobe of 33 items of clothing to cover the next three months. Strictly speaking your 33 items should include accessories, shoes and outer clothing as well as your basic items of clothing, however I still bend the rules and exclude all my scarves, jewellery, handbags and shoes, though as I gradually cut down on my clothes I may add in other categories.


I used Polyvore to create the picture above, so not all of these items are exactly the same as the ones in my wardrobe. The first jacket clearly is as it's an actual photo of my Mango jacket, but most of the other items are the closest I could find on the Polyvore website. The skirt, top and cardigan in the following picture are also identical to mine as I downloaded the photos from the Kettlewell website where I'd purchased them.

I probably won't wear the jackets until September, when I am planning to visit my family in London, as it is now very hot here in Spain. Even the navy cardigan shown in the top picture and the light grey cascade cardigan below are only being worn when we're out late at night and there's a bit of a breeze.


Most days I wear one of the five pairs of trousers that I have included, as they are ideal for summer: four pairs are linen and the other pair is made of cotton. With a dozen lightweight tops, most of which can be worn with any of the bottoms, I can ring the changes over the next three months and not become bored with my choices. The skirts and dress are mainly worn for dressier occasions such as lunch out with friends or meetings in the town hall (don't ask!). As a Natural Gamine, my personal style is very casual.

After I created my summer 33, I realised that my main accent colours were pink and blue, with a couple of red tops and one green one. My neutrals are mainly navy and grey, with one black top and pair of trousers, a black and white striped top, white cropped trousers and a stone linen pair that is lighter than the pair shown.

You may have spotted that I have only shown 27 items of clothing. I also have a pair of smart navy trousers and two dresses in the wardrobe for evenings out, though they aren't pictured here. As this is a total of just 30, it allows me to include the three shoulder bags that I have been using on a regular basis in my summer 33, so I am gradually improving. Aren't you impressed?!