Sunday, 22 March 2020

We will survive!

I've been planning a new blog post about capsule wardrobes, however in the crazy world that we're living in at the moment it seemed a bit frivolous. I know that I have readers from various parts of the world, so I wanted to send you all a message telling you to be strong and to be safe. I found Gloria Gaynor's song very inspiring when I was going through a difficult time after my husband John died, so that's going to be my theme song. One of the teachers at the Pilates and dance studio I belong to used to play a Spanish version of "I will survive" and I always found it uplifting. Click on this link if you want to listen to Gloria now.

I live in Spain, where John and I retired nearly 12 years ago. When we moved into our own home, after renting for almost a year, John and I decided to adopt a small dog from the local animal refuge, who was called Lisa by the neighbours, presumably after Lisa in the Simpsons! I'm so grateful to have Lisa since Spain's government declared an "estado de alarma", which has meant a lock down for all of us. This means staying at home except for trips to the supermarkets or chemists for essentials.

Having Lisa as my companion means that I'm not alone in the house, so she is helping me survive. She isn't used to having so many people around our building during the daytime so keeps growling and barking to warn me! I am allowed to take Lisa out for short walks, where I usually see fellow dog walkers to say "Hola" to, which stops me feeling too isolated. I learnt today that this situation will continue for another 15 days. If the number of cases continues to rise, I'm expecting the Spanish government to extend this period even further, so I have to be prepared for the long haul.

I was feeling a bit sad that my daughters, who were planning to visit me for the UK Mother's Day, were no longer able to travel here from London. I mentioned this to my Spanish neighbour, who had asked me if they were still coming. A couple of days later my doorbell rang and when I opened it she was standing there with her 5 year old daughter, who handed this bunch of wild flowers to me saying it was a present for Mother's Day. How lovely was that?

My Mother's Day present from my Spanish neighbours
Thanks to modern technology I was able to see and speak to my three children on Skype today, even though we all live in different locations, so that really lifted my spirits. Now that we've created our family group on Skype we plan to have a chat together on a regular basis, though I'm hoping that it won't be too long until we can do it in person.

The next few weeks won't be easy for any of us, but if we stay strong and think of others not just ourselves (as my neighbours have just done) and if we all pull together, I'm sure we will get by.
Tonight at 8pm I went onto my balcony and joined my neighbours in applauding those dedicated key workers who are helping us all survive, an act which we have been doing every night since lock down began. Someone then played this song Resistiré (you can hear it by clicking on the link.) so we continued clapping - as well as a bit of dancing in my case. I believe that this positive attitude will also help us survive.

What have I been doing, apart from the occasional trip to the supermarket and my dog walking? A bit of housework of course (not my favourite pastime!), trying out new recipes, and playing DVDs so I can continue with my Zumba and dance sessions. I am also planning to get back to blogging and no doubt will write about my capsule wardrobe soon, as writing is something that I find therapeutic. It's probably good to be positive and look forward to returning to whatever our normal life is. However I suspect that all our lives will be a bit different once we have survived this world crisis. I'm hoping that we will all appreciate our friends and family more, be grateful for everything that we have and that this community spirit that is so uplifting will continue.

Take care. Stay safe.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Fashion Feng Shui

Water Wood Fire Earth Metal

Over the years that I've been writing this blog, I've tried different colour analysis and style workshops, had my colours "done" (with several different results!) and experimented with various fashion looks. You'd think that by now, as an over-60 year old woman, I'd know what really flatters me, but it's not that straightforward. I'll try colours and styles that other people claim look good on me, but somehow they don't feel right. They're not really me. Step forward Fashion Feng Shui!

Simply put, dressing the Fashion Feng Shui way means dressing not only to reflect the way you look, as colour and style analysis aims to do, but also dressing for your essence (who you are) and your intention (what you desire). Within Fashion Feng Shui there are five elements of water, wood, fire, earth and metal. Most of us have a dominant element as well as supporting ones, but the element that reflects the way we look may not necessarily be the element that expresses who we are deep inside.

In my case, Wood is my dominant element for many reasons. My body is rectangular, I like comfortable, sporty clothes and I enjoy being active. The colours that flatter me include green and blue, which are Wood colours. However my hair and eyes are dark, which is more typical of a Water element and I love creative writing, which is also Water, so that is another key element for me.  What about my pale skin? That is typical of Metal, although I am far from being perfect, which is one of Metal's key traits!

What is the one colour that I particularly love wearing and that gives me confidence? It's red, which is (not surprisingly)  Fire. I am wearing a red top and also a red lipstick in the photo below. As an Autumn (according to my latest colour analysis) earth tones of brown and yellow should also suit me. They do, and my wardrobe contains several pieces of clothing and a few accessories in earth tones, however Earth isn't an element that resonates with me. I'm not practical or traditional and I'm not exactly a homebody either. As I enjoy red so much, I guess that Fire is one of my influencing elements and therefore I must be a bit of a drama queen underneath!

Fire element - red
As an over-60 woman who has retired, I don't have to worry about having appropriate work wear and I can wear what I want. My lifestyle is casual so I'm able to wear the blues and greens that suit me as a Wood and my everyday attire is mainly casual, if not sporty clothing. To express my creative side I will wear abstract and ethnic patterns, sometimes in a scarf, or an unusual piece of jewellery. If I want to be noticed, or fancy some drama - you've guessed it! - I will wear something red

The following summary will give you some idea of which element you belong to in a physical sense, but if you want to become more creative, show off your fun side or are a bit of a perfectionist you will see how to express that side of you too.

The first element, Water, is also known as the Philosopher. Philosophers tend to have very dark hair, eyes or skin and their body is a soft triangle shape. Philosophers are free spirits, valuing freedom and personal expression. They are deep thinkers, introspective, sensitive and will think before they answer you. They need solitude and quiet time on their own to recharge. They enjoy wearing clothes that are dark, abstract, with flowing lines. One word to describe Philosophers: creative.

Wood is known as the Pioneer. Pioneers tend to be competitive, they move at speed, have several projects on the go and are always moving onto new things. They like nature, enjoy books and get involved in humanitarian causes. They avoid fussy, overly constructed clothes and usually look fresh, natural and casual. Physically, Pioneers are rectangles, they have blue/green based hair and eyes or olive skin. As a Wood I do wear blues and greens a lot, my outfits are often casual, comfortable and made of natural fabrics. Patterns, especially stripes, feature in my wardrobe. One word to describe Pioneers: sporty.

Fire is also known as the Pleasure seeker. Pleasure seekers are fun-loving and attract attention. They are charismatic, charming and enthusiastic. Pleasure seekers are social butterflies, talk quickly and smile a lot. They will have reddish hair, skin or eyes and their bodies are inverted triangles. They wear bright, bold and body-conscious outfits. They love reds and purples, and clothes in shiny, clingy fabrics. They are definitely not shrinking violets! One word to describe Pleasure seekers: dramatic.

Earth is known as the Peacemaker. They are homebodies, don't like change and love routine. They will put others' needs before their own.  Peacemakers like classic and comfortable clothes. They have golden or brown hair, eyes and skin. Their body is either square or rounded. Their clothes will be basic, in neutral colours and textured fabrics, often in plaids or checks. The word to describe Peacemakers is traditional.

Finally we have Metal, also known as Perfectionists. They like quality, refinement, and aspire to perfection. They love beautiful things and always look expensive. They have tidy homes - they definitely can't live in a messy house - so it's clear that I'm not a Metal! Perfectionists have very light hair, eyes and skin and hourglass figures. Their favourite colours are pastels, white and metallics. They like polished textures, round patterns and luxurious fabrics. Perfectionists, not surprisingly, can be described as elegant.

So there you have it. Do you recognise yourself in any of the descriptions above? Do you aspire to be more like one of the elements in particular? If you would like to find out more about Fashion Feng Shui, click on this link to buy the Kindle version of Fashion Feng Shui Shopping Wisdoms. (In case you're wondering, I don't get any commission if you decide to buy it!)

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

New Year. New Decade. New Me!

Happy New Year to all my readers!

The new year tends to be a time for resolutions: going on diets, starting a new fitness regime, giving up alcohol and so on. I've done this in the past, with varying degrees of success, but as an over 60 woman I now think that the only resolution worth making is to enjoy every day and appreciate everything that I have in my life, especially my wonderful friends and family.

The flowers in the photo above are one of my new guilty pleasures. Looking at them makes me happy, so now I buy fresh flowers nearly every week. I also have plants in the house and on my balcony, though I don't have green fingers so occasionally I need to replace them!

I have a fitness regime which isn't difficult to stick to, as I go to dance exercise classes, Zumba and Pilates, all of which I enjoy so it's no hardship. I also have a small Spanish dog who needs regular walks, so that helps keep me fit too.

Going on diets and giving up alcohol aren't on my list of things to do in January. I do try to eat healthily, but do so by choosing food that I find tasty so I enjoy what I'm eating. I gave up meat many years ago, and for a long while I was a vegetarian, although I now occasionally eat fish again. Living in Spain is ideal for me, as I like eating a wide variety of foods in small quantities aka tapas! I also enjoy drinking wine with my main meal and another regular treat for me is a glass of cava in the evening, although I try to have "dry" days too.

Music is another love of mine. When I was in London for Christmas and New Year, my youngest daughter treated me to a concert in the Barbican Hall: The Four Seasons by Candlelight. What an amazing experience that was! Now I'm back home I plan to go to many concerts in my local theatre, but I will also take advantage of Youtube and listen to my favourite music while writing blog posts.

That brings me to another favourite thing - writing. I admit that I've not written many posts over the last couple of years, but we've not only entered a new year but also we've started a new decade. Time I think for at least one resolution: make the 2020s a new era for my writing and blog on a more regular basis.

Finally, I read a post on Facebook today (I know - such a sad person!😍) that said at 8.20 and 20 seconds tonight, it will be 20.20:20 2020, so I'm about to publish this post at that exact time!

Friday, 8 November 2019

My Autumn 33 piece capsule wardrobe

At long last temperatures are dropping, especially early in the morning and late at night when I'm out walking my dog Lisa, so it's now time to pack away my summer clothes and bring back my warmer autumn pieces. I have taken the opportunity to recycle some clothes that were past their best and I've purchased a couple of new tops, making sure that they will work with existing items of clothing. As in previous years, I have followed the guidelines of Project 333 though I don't include shoes and accessories in my 33 pieces. The idea behind Project 333 is to select 33 items to cover the next 3 months and ideally your shoes and accessories should be included, however I bend the rules slightly!



Since I first started blogging about Project 333 my wardrobe has seen a few changes, mainly influenced by my search for the colours and styles that suit me best as I become older. Navy has now replaced black as my dark neutral and I have added warmer neutrals such as brown and camel, which are more flattering for my warm colouring. I do love colourful accents though, as you no doubt will have realised, looking at the photos above! I usually wear trousers during the day time, as that suits my casual lifestyle, but I have included the lovely patterned skirt that I bought in Paris in May for any special occasions.

The cardigans and jackets shown above are also neutral and will help to create a column of colour with the trousers and jeans. The good thing about creating a column of colour, for someone who is vertically challenged and not as slim as she used to be (that is me!) is it gives the illusion that you are taller and slimmer. Finally, I have two trench-coats to wear during the autumn months: my favourite short red trench-coat and a longer copper one. Don't be deceived by my photos, the red trench is definitely shorter than the copper one!

These are the pieces that I will mix and match to create various outfits and, if my maths is correct, it should be possible to wear something different every day over the next 3 months. If, like me, you are someone who tends to always wear the same combinations, Project 333 challenges you to create new outfits. I know that some of you have joined me in the past and I hope that more of you will feel inspired to join me this autumn. Please let us know in the comments below if you're going to participate and, if so, how you are getting on.

Monday, 16 September 2019

My travel capsule

The photos below show the travel capsule for my recent trip to see family and friends in the UK. I was away from home for nearly two weeks, however I didn't want to carry a large suitcase as I find it tricky travelling into central London from Gatwick airport with heavy luggage. I ended up with three bags: a small cabin-sized case, a foldable canvas bag (which fits neatly on top of the case) and a rucksack. 

On the way to London there were two bottles of my local Jumilla wine in my case to share with my hosts, while on the way back I had some purchases from a shopping expedition in central London to fill the gap in my case. Well, that's my excuse!

The first two photos show what I packed for my trip. My neutrals were beige and navy with accents of red, orange, olive and turquoise. These colours will be the basis of my autumn capsule wardrobe.

I wore navy trousers, my favourite blue Desigual top and a comfortable pair of navy trainers for travelling, and carried my short red trenchcoat in case it was cold when I arrived. My new purchases, which are for my Autumn capsule, were a striped top (no surprise there!), a pair of copper slim leg cotton trousers and a pair of ballerina shoes to replace a pair that have seen better days. 

All of these worked well with the clothes that I had packed for my trip, so I am confident that they will fit into my existing wardrobe. As summer seems to be on its way out here in Spain, where they've had horrendous weather while I've been enjoying the sunshine in London, I will soon be organising my Autumn capsule. As in previous years, this will be inspired by Project 333 and will consist of 33 items of clothing that I will wear for the next 3 months. 

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Over here - then over there!

Where did July go? August too is fast disappearing and September is almost here. Living in a Spanish town that is renowned for its wines, there have been plenty of celebrations during the summer months. It started with "Música entre Vinos", a series of concerts held in different local wineries, and then continued with the "Feria and Fiestas of the Vendimia" with lots of wine-related happenings as well as Moors and Christians events and the National Folklore festival. Time definitely flies when you're having fun! My two daughters visited me separately: Vicky came in July and enjoyed one of the "Música entre Vinos" concerts with me; Kate was here in August and witnessed the handing over of the keys of Jumilla Castle during the "Noche de las Antorchas" as well as going to a great evening concert in nearby Pinoso.

Sitting on the edge of the Wine Fountain
I didn't have time to feel lonely once my visitors had left me, as there was so much going on in Jumilla, and I'm also lucky to have lots of Spanish and British friends. There is a great sense of community here and my Spanish neighbours are very patient with me as I attempt to speak their language. I think it helps that I have a little Spanish dog called Lisa, who seems to be friends with everybody in our neighbourhood.

In the above photo I am sitting on the edge of the "Fuente del Vino", though the wine in my glass was from one of the many stands offering tastings in the "Miniferia del Vino". Another favourite event of mine is the "Cabalgata Tradicional", where a procession of floats winds its way around town, offering wine, sangria and snacks to the appreciative onlookers. The party atmosphere is amazing and there is literally dancing in the street as the floats, accompanied by musicians, go past.

One of the many floats, waiting to set off.

After all these festivities life is a bit quieter now, so it is an ideal time for me to go over "there".  There, of course, is London where my three children live. I will be staying with my son Mark and his wife Kate on this occasion, though I will also be making a flying visit to Lincoln to see my brother. Although I'm really looking forward to seeing family and friends, at the moment my main concern is what to pack! It's been as hot - if not hotter - in London as in Spain, however that is likely to change before my trip. I have numerous clothes spread out on a bed in the spare room, but I plan to travel with carry-on size luggage so cannot take them all. I have a long list of things to do over the next three days, however I hope to post my final travel wardrobe here, assuming that I can make a decision before Monday!

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Seasonal colours

Have you been inundated with emails offering you sales discounts from 10% to 80% like I have? Have you been tempted? If you're not tempted first time round, you may even get another email offering you a last chance special discount! Of course if you have any gaps in your wardrobe or are looking for something new to pack for your holiday, it may make sense to look at these summer sales. Just make sure that any purchases will either fill a gap in your existing wardrobe or will fit into your holiday capsule and work with your other clothes.

I have been a fan of Kettlewell colours for a long while, so I often take advantage of their sales. They allow you to shop by seasonal colours, plus they show tonal directions too if you feel you don't quite fit into the seasonal slots. Alternatively, just look for your favourite colours! You can read about their policies and practices on the Kettlewell website: about us. I am trying to avoid fast fashion and shop more ethically, so feel this is an important point. If you know of any other on-line retailers who are both ethical and have a good range of colours, please add a comment below.

As I live in Spain, I tend to wear a lot of bright colours during the summer months, with red and orange featuring strongly in my wardrobe. Come to think of it, red and orange feature strongly in my winter wardrobe too! Although I did buy the orange and pebble stripe top shown below (50% off, so how could I resist?) I decided that a different accent colour would liven up my wardrobe, starting with the linen top in the first picture, which I am wearing today.

I always read the reviews on the Kettlewell website before I make a final decision, which proved fortuitous. One reviewer of the sea blue spotty top mentioned the matching skirt, saying that together they make a really pretty dress, so I decided to try it for myself as you can see below. What do you think? I'll probably wear it with a dressier shoe rather than the chunky sandals shown.

Of course I realise that the striped top and spotty skirt don't go together, however I have several pairs of lightweight neutral trousers, including those shown here, so I have plenty of options. I wore the spotty top with white trousers when I went out with friends for lunch yesterday.

Do you wear lighter and brighter colours in the summer months then change your colour palette when Autumn arrives? I 've heard that some Americans will wear white clother throughout the summer, then put them away after Labor Day. However I suspect that most modern day women (including those who are over 60) totally disregard this old-fashioned rule!