Sunday, 19 October 2014

Autumn 33

It's autumn (aka fall!) and for most of us in the northern hemisphere it's time to put away our summer clothes and bring out our cold weather items. Two years ago I decided to start doing Project 333 while I was sorting out my clothes for the colder weather, and it has proved eye-opening in many ways. I learnt to discard clothes that didn't fit me, didn't look good on me or were unsuitable for my lifestyle now that I have retired. I ended up with just 33 items of clothing to last me for the next 3 months and have to confess that at first it seemed very daunting.

After my first attempt I decided to bend the rules and exclude shoes, handbags and accessories, but the beauty of Project 333 is that even if you don't stick strictly to the guidelines you will still be learning to live with less.

So, better late than never, here is my Autumn 33. Most people started their Autumn 33 on October 1st, however it was still warm enough in Spain for me to continue wearing items from my summer 33, although I did bring out some autumn clothes for my trips to the UK. Now it is definitely autumnal, so I've cleared out the wardrobe for my Autumn 33.

Autumn outerwear
I haven't included a winter coat as, hopefully, it won't be needed until winter arrives. Anyway the navy trench-coat should be enough over a jacket or cardigan if it does turn very chilly.

Jeans and trousers
I know the bright pink jeans are - to be frank -  a bit bright, but they cheer me up when the weather is particularly dismal. Since I have introduced more neutrals into my wardrobe, I do have a few more tops that I can wear with them. The navy jeans, grey trousers and black trousers are of course a lot more versatile.
Skirts for autumn - will I wear them?

I have decided to include three skirts even though I wear trousers most of the time. This is because I have had several compliments about my legs, so I bought two pairs of Wolford tights when I was in London (I dare not tell you what they cost!) and I plan to wear skirts far more over the next few months.

Dresses for going out and parties at home
I don't wear dresses very often, but I've already worn the first dress when I went out for dinner in London and we are going out for dinner on Sunday so I plan to wear it again. If it's a bit warmer I may wear the polka dot dress instead, which I also plan to wear for any parties at home. My reasoning is that, by including three dresses in my Autumn 33, I will have to find occasions to wear them!  I'm hoping that we will have several events over the Christmas holidays but, if I find that I'm not wearing all of these dresses, I may replace one of them with another pair of trousers.

A dozen tops, with seven different bottoms, gives lots of possibilities. Admittedly not every top will go with the bright pink jeans and the cranberry skirt, however if you multiply the twelve tops by five, that still gives me at least sixty different outfits. I've shown two short-sleeved tops in case we have the occasional sunny day - they can also be worn with one of the seven cardigans shown below or either of the two jackets. No doubt you have cottoned on to the fact that the cardigans give me even more permutations, so if I want to I'll be able to wear a different outfit every day over the next three months.

I know that when I first started doing Project 333 I wondered if I would become bored with a more limited wardrobe, but I'm finding it becomes easier each season, possibly because I am making sure that any new purchases will work with my existing clothes. Removing clothes that I am no longer wearing, and storing out of season clothes, is also a great help. I can now see what's actually hanging up in my wardrobe!

Updated on Sunday 19 October

I wrote this post on Wednesday, when I planned to remove my summer clothes and hang the clothes shown above in my wardrobe. These clothes are still lying on the bed in our spare room as it has been very warm over the last couple of days.  Today I am wearing a short-sleeved top and cropped linen trousers - so I'll post this now in the hope that it will turn a bit cooler and I can start the changeover!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Evolve Your Style - part 2

Two recent trips to the UK - one planned and one unexpected - have meant that I'm a bit behind in the Evolve Your Style challenge.  If you've decided to join me in it, apologies for the delay. Here are the next 10 challenges, with a few photos of my own outfits to inspire you (or not!)

Day 15: Wear a hat.  Day 16: Wear an everyday outfit
Day 17: Wear complementary colours.  Day 18: Wear new eyeshadow colours or lipstick shade

Wear a hat

Wear an everyday outfit

I have to confess that the two photos above were cheating, as they weren't taken on the actual days that I did the challenge. The photo of my hat was taken in Madrid and the everyday outfit was from the final day of our holiday last month, The lack of photos was due to a technical problem (I'd left my camera in a friend's car!) however I made sure that I wore these outfits on the relevant days.

Day 19: Wear red.  Day 20: Stack on the rings.
Day 21: Jeans and a jacket.  Day 22; Wear flowers.

Jeans and a jacket
Wear flowers

Day 23: Style a skirt.  Day 24: Wear a feature belt.

Style a skirt

Wear a feature belt
I've had some very constructive criticism from the Evolve Your Style facebook group. One person commented that the skirt would have looked better if the top had been a bit shorter and I have to agree with her. Not everyone liked the pearls, especially with the belt I was wearing: some people thought they would look good with a plain belt whereas others liked the belt but thought a metallic necklace would have been better with it. This was the outfit I wore in London for a family night out, though I wore a gold watch instead of the black one, plus higher heels. Also I had to leave one accessory - the lovely Lisa - behind with my husband.

Now it's your turn for some constructive criticism on the above outfits!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Packing for autumn in London

The plan for this trip was to travel hand luggage only on the flight to London, but put my case in the hold on the flight back. This was so I could add items of make-up that I planned to buy, plus presents of some skin-care products from my daughter, which obviously wouldn't be allowed in hand luggage. Did I also mention that I was planning to buy a couple of items of clothing, so I had a canvas bag for my hand luggage on the return flight to accommodate the extra items?

These were the clothes that I packed for my trip.

I wore the patterned trousers, a blue top and some casual black shoes for travelling from Spain, where it is still quite warm, and I carried a navy trench-coat to wear on arrival in London. The jacket was useful as an extra layer under my trench-coat on cooler days, though there were a couple of days when I ended up carrying the trench-coat as it was unseasonally warm (I'm not complaining!)

On the right of the above picture you can see four other tops plus a camisole and on the left there is a pair of grey trousers and my black jeans as well as the patterned trousers I wore to travel in.

Not shown in the photo above is the dress and pair of heels that I wore for a family night out: dining in Brasserie Zedel followed by a show in The Crazy Coqs starring the amazing Marilyn Maye. I also packed underwear, socks and nightwear, plus jewellery, a couple of scarves and black walking shoes. Needless to say an umbrella had also been packed, which was required on a couple of days.

These are my new purchases, which worked well with the clothes I took with me and which will also fit into my autumn/winter wardrobe. Those of you who have been following my blog for a while will know that I am gradually building a more cohesive, versatile wardrobe - especially when compared with the rainbow-hued assortment of clothes from two years ago. Next week I hope to work out my Autumn 33, which will involve me selecting 33 items of clothing to wear over the next 3 months, as part of Project 333.  I will have to be tough with myself and throw out at least four items to make way for my new purchases!



I had a bit of a scare on my return to Alicante airport: when I spotted my case on the conveyor belt, it was unzipped! I usually pack the smaller items - such as my camera, toiletries, underwear, shoes and scarves - in the bottom of the case and put my clothes in plastic carrier bags above them. I knew I had a bag containing trousers, another one with my dress in and two with the tops that I had worn. A quick glance confirmed that everything seemed to be there, but I still sat in the car worrying all the way home. Two days later and I am pretty confident that nothing went missing, but it does make me determined to fly hand luggage only in future!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

French dressing

Like many bloggers, I do love a good pun, so what does French dressing mean to you? Something you put on your salads - or the way that French people dress? After my recent birthday holiday in France, I guess that this post could refer to either.

First of all salads, preferably with home-made French dressing rather than shop-bought mayonnaise, can be delicious if you use your imagination when creating them. Don't worry, I haven't suddenly turned into a cookery blogger. I'm just saying. One of the important things I noticed in France though was that, as well as seeing lots of interesting, tempting salads on the menus, the portion sizes were quite small. Is this the reason why French women don't get fat? Having read several books about this phenomenon, including the best-seller by Mireille Guiliano, I've realised that the common factor does seem to be portion control. You can drink wine and eats lots of delicious cheeses and even chocolate, but moderation is the key.

Back to fashion and my observations on the way that French women dressed in Toulouse and Bordeaux, assuming of course that the majority of the women I saw were French! I was a bit surprised at the lack of colour in French women's (and men's) outfits.  Yes I was visiting cities rather than coastal resorts but, although this was towards the end of summer, we had lots of sunshine and warm weather and we are after all talking about the south of France, not the northern city of Paris. Neutrals obviously rule in France - unless anyone has experiences elsewhere in France to say differently?

I can't recollect seeing any fat French women, although they weren't all skinny by any means. No doubt that was down to healthy eating and portion control, as mentioned earlier. I suspect that the dark neutrals helped a bit in this respect too.

Fashion-wise, I noticed lots of women including "femmes d'un certain âge" wearing skinny jeans plus stylish flats that looked really chic on them. As well as not wearing bright colours, most women seemed to wear a maximum of two different colours.  They also wore few accessories, although the scarf was omnipresent and I regretted not packing one. I felt slightly naked in comparison! The look of the French women that I saw walking about could best be summed up as "chic plus simplicity". The fact that I saw so many French women who were walking everywhere could of course be another clue to why they don't get fat!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Evolve Your Style

I just love a challenge, so when I read about Imogen's latest style challenge, Evolve Your Style,  I didn't hesitate to sign up for it. It costs $5US to take part and you will receive a daily email from Imogen, plus you can join a closed facebook group where you can post photos of your daily outfit for comments and advice from the other participants. They're a lovely, helpful bunch, I can assure you!

I'm not quite half-way (I've received 14 emails so far) and already there are people who are way ahead of me plus a few that have only just started.It's fine to go at your own pace.

These are the challenges so far, with a few of the outfits that I have worn.

Day 1: wear a Statement necklace.  Day 2: wear something you've had for a long time
Day 3: wear a scarf all day.  Day 4: wear something pink.

Wear a scarf all day
Wear something pink

Day 5: wear a dress.  Day 6: sparkle today
Day 7: mix textures.  Day 8: double up on necklaces
Day 9: wear a bold lipstick.  Day 10: wear 2 prints or patterns
Day 11: wear arm candy.  Day 12: change your hair

Double up on necklaces
Day 13: Be blue.  Day 14: wear coloured shoes.

I'll post more of the challenges plus some of the outfits I wore on particular days in a future post.  In the meantime, even if you don't officially join the Evolve your Style group, why not try a few of the challenges yourself?

Monday, 15 September 2014

Share in Style: Skirts or Pants?

I spotted this question on Une Femme's blog and couldn't resist joining in.  I'm sure that any regular readers will know my answer to the question: skirts or trousers? Pants is the American version of trousers by the way, and I used it above to make the title a bit snappier! Yes, my choice is definitely pants, trousers, jeans etc rather than skirts. I occasionally wear a dress and I do have a few skirts in my wardrobe but most times when I open my wardrobe I automatically reach for a pair of trousers.

There are several reasons why I opt for trousers. My style is natural gamine, so I tend to look more like me when I wear pants and jeans. My lifestyle is pretty casual, which again makes them the obvious choice. I am short and I think that wearing trousers gives me a longer leaner line than if I wore a skirt, which is why I will opt for a dress rather than a skirt on smarter occasions, as it has a similar effect.

I took a look at the photos that I've posted on here and, not surprisingly, there were very few of me wearing a skirt, so here's one hot off the press as it was only taken yesterday.

Featuring the lovely Lisa
Here's one that was taken over a year ago, showing how often skirts feature in my daily outfits!

The first thing I noticed was that I appeared slimmer in the more recent photo, in spite of over indulging with delicious food and wine on my recent holiday in France. I think that's because the top is more flattering on me.  I love stripes but vertical stripes (or hoops as my OH insists on calling them!) make me look broader rather than taller, plus I think the contrast between the pale top and darker skirt cuts me in half.

Here I am wearing a bright pink top with black linen trousers  - I'm not sure why my arms are like that! - which I think makes me look taller and slimmer than in the photo above it. Yes, there is still a contrast, but between two darker colours this time.

Finally, in the photo below I'm showing off my recent purchase, the patterned trousers, and trying to look slim with the help of a long scarf. I think I need a professional photographer though, or perhaps I should take more care with my posture, as my top half looks a lot bigger than my bottom half. However in my view this is the most flattering outfit.  I wonder if you will agree!

 What is your verdict? Skirts or trousers?

Monday, 8 September 2014

Time to shop or time to stop?

No doubt you've heard the expression: don't do as I do, do as I SAY! I try to give you good advice on this blog, but that doesn't mean that I'm perfect myself - far from it. The message I hope to get across is that you don't need to constantly buy new clothes, however that doesn't stop me from spending money on my wardrobe, though nowadays I always consider how any new purchases will fit in with my existing items of clothing. Believe me, that is a huge improvement!

Most of the summer sales are over now, so did you manage to resist temptation? I have to confess to a few additions to my wardrobe, but some of them were birthday presents, so they don't count do they? Being petite, I have problems finding clothes that fit me well. I know that I can turn up trouser legs and shorten sleeves, but that doesn't mean that the clothes look as good on me as if I buy from petite ranges, where the proportions are right for shorter women.

We were in Alicante on the first day of our holiday and it was two days' before my birthday, so John persuaded me to look in El Corte Ingles department store, as they stock Jones New York Petite and Zendra Petite ranges. It was the last day of their summer sales and he had no idea what I wanted for my birthday, so it was a desperate ploy! John bought me a striped top (I know I have several already, but not in this colour) and a pair of navy trousers, so he was relieved (especially at sale prices) and I was happy.

Here I am, wearing the new top with black linen trousers, when we went out walking on my birthday.

While walking around Toulouse city centre I spotted Jacqueline Riu, one of my favourite French stores, so we popped in for a quick look (OK, I dragged John in!)  I still wear a red sleeveless top that I bought in one of their Paris stores around 10 years ago, so I know that their clothes are well made and good value.  I found a black and white cropped cardigan, which John insisted on buying as an extra present, because the top and trousers had been such good bargains. The photo below is from their website, but as I'm petite and not a tall, slender model it doesn't look so cropped when I'm wearing it. I must admit that it's very convenient having a birthday just after the summer sales.....!

We also visited Monoprix where I made my final purchases: a blue long-sleeved top (similar to the blues in the Pantone palette below) and a blue and black patterned scarf.

If you didn't buy anything in the sales, are you being tempted by the new clothes arriving in your local shops for autumn and winter? Don't worry - I'm not going to tell you not to shop, however I'm going to advise you to look carefully at your existing wardrobe before making any purchases.

If you have warm deep colouring, autumnal colours in general will flatter you so it's a good time to make additions to your wardrobe. However I have been looking at Pantone's Autumn palette and it appears that those of us who suit cooler shades may find some of the new season's colours are suitable for us, though there are warmer shades there too and even a couple of lighter colours.

So to answer my original question: is it time to shop or time to stop? You are the only one who can answer that question. I've been trying to encourage you to build a capsule wardrobe and only to buy clothes and accessories that fit in with your current wardrobe and that also suit your personality and lifestyle. If any of the new arrivals in your local shops meet those guidelines, then who am I to tell you not to shop?