Saturday, 26 September 2020

My face mask protects YOU!

This is not a political blog, however it is directed towards women of a certain age (though younger readers are always welcome!) and we're living in worrying times, where older women can be particularly vulnerable. Last month I visited my family in London, although most of my Covid-19 experiences have been here in Spain, where I retired over 12 years ago. I had to go into quarantine for 14 days when I arrived in the UK, however it was worth it to be able to see my family, and in particular my new granddaughter, for the first time this year. In both countries the majority of people were wearing face masks in shops and on public transport, plus they were socially distancing wherever possible and were being encouraged to wash their hands frequently and/or use hand sanitiser.

The question of whether we should wear face masks or not is a particularly emotive one. I decided from the start that I would wear one, partly because I didn't want to have to pay a 100 euros fine for not doing so (they've been strict here in Spain), but also because I would hate to be the person spreading the virus to other people who might be more vulnerable than me. Yes, that is the important point to remember: my face mask is protecting you as much as, if not more than, it protects me. 

It seems as if many younger people don't appreciate that fact, so they don't bother wearing a face mask as they feel confident the coronavirus won't affect them. What if they get the virus? Don't they realise that they might pass it on to their parents or grandparents, who might then die because of them? I think more should be done to make the younger generation aware of that fact, as all the youngsters I know are lovely, caring people who would not want to harm others, particularly older family members.

Another issue is how to wear your face mask! I think I have gone slightly overboard in the above photo in ensuring that my nose and mouth are covered, but it still amazes me how many people I see with noses uncovered or, even worse, with their masks under their chins leaving their mouth and nose totally exposed and able to spread germs. Don't even mention the smokers.....!

I am also very aware that there are people who are unable to wear a face mask for medical reasons. I have questioned people who aren't wearing one, but never in an aggressive manner in case they have a very good reason. As an example, when I was sitting on the tube in London I noticed a young woman sitting almost directly opposite me who wasn't wearing one. I also noticed that she was wearing a "Baby on Board" badge, so mentioned this when questioning her. Her response was that she had actually passed out when she'd been wearing a face mask for a while, which was a very scary experience, though she was lucky that people nearby looked after her, and so she had spoken to her doctor about it. She had been advised to carry a face mask with her but not to wear it in case the same thing happened again, especially as she was pregnant so she had her baby to think about as well. She also told me that a few people had been very nasty and confrontational towards her, which I find just as unacceptable (if not more so) as not wearing a face mask in the first place. So please don't be judgmental if you too decide to question other people.

There are several phrases that I could use to finish this post: "Masks save lives.." Wear a mask. Save a life." "Stay alert. Control the virus. Save lives." However the words that really sum up the message I'm trying to send you all are: "Let's be kind and considerate towards each other. After all, life's too short."

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Why Black Lives Matter

I hesitated initially. Was it appropriate to publish this post when my blog is basically about fashion, beauty and lifestyle for women of a certain age? However I am a writer. I use words to express my feelings and this is an issue that is very important to me and, I'm sure, many other women of a certain age. We care about what is happening in the world, even if it doesn't directly affect us.

People who know me are aware that I'm anything but a royalist, however I was inspired by the words of the Duchess of Sussex (Meghan Markle): "I wanted to say the right thing. I realized the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing." Click on the link to hear what she had to say.

As a woman I have experienced discrimination from an early age, although there have been laws over the decades to help us in our fight for equality. Things aren't perfect, but they are better than they were. However what I've experienced is nothing compared to the discrimination black women have known over the years.

Similarly, there has been legislation to improve things for people of colour, but clearly not enough has been done. The problem lies in people's in-built prejudices, so we need education as well as legislation.

As a white woman who is British - even though nowadays I live in Spain - I grew up trusting the police and believed that they were there to protect me. Sadly, black people have not enjoyed the same confidence and there have been too many tragic incidents to allow them to trust the police in the way that I did. This is true not only in the USA but also in the UK and many other countries around the world. We need change. We need to stand up and declare that we are anti-racist and fight for that change. We need to say that for all of us Black Lives do Matter.

If you would like to take action, as action speaks louder than mere words, please click on this link: It's nice that. You will find petitions to sign, funds and charities to donate to and resources for educating yourself and those around you. Thank you.

Friday, 29 May 2020

Rainbow outfits

During lockdown keeping in touch with family and friends becomes particularly important, especially if you are living on your own. I'm lucky enough to have my little Spanish dog Lisa for company, but I've still been missing chatting with other humans on a regular basis. Thank goodness for social media and video calls with family and friends!

One friend in a Facebook group suggested that we had a rainbow challenge. Each day of the week we wore an outfit in a different colour, including pink (not my best colour!) It was a fun exercise and helped to alleviate any feelings of lockdown boredom that we might have been suffering from. 

Feeling blue!
Contrasting lime and khaki greens

Oranges, but no lemons
My zigzag bag lifted the purple outfit

Stripes and red - 2 of my favourites
Mellow yellow

This hot pink suits me more than cool pinks
The final challenge was to create a rainbow outfit, with as many different colours as possible. My hero cardigan and this colourful spider-bag helped me rise to this challenge.

What I found interesting was the reaction of my friends to the colours that I was wearing. They all loved me in purple, which to be honest isn't a colour that I wear very often, and also turquoise, which definitely is one of my favourites. Coral and orange also had several mentions, whereas red only had one vote! I think the proportions of my red outfit weren't particularly flattering, which may have influenced the lack of votes. What do you think are my best colours? Why not try this challenge yourself while you are under lockdown - it definitely will help to brighten your day!

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Capsule wardrobe - spring and summer

I planned my spring capsule a long while ago, when I was taking part in a capsule wardrobe challenge. At the time my thinking was that I could try it out at home, with the idea that I would then use it as a travel capsule if it proved to be versatile. As you know, the idea of travelling anywhere at the moment is just a dream. I have flights to London booked for August, but sadly it seems highly unlikely that I will be going then, especially if the UK is still making people go into quarantine for 14 days! However many of the pieces shown below will be in my lockdown wardrobe for the next few months, although I'm hoping that I won't need to wear my favourite red trench-coat.

The idea behind this capsule was to build it around some neutrals such as navy and beige, with an accent colour that, not surprisingly, I decided would be red. I have lots of red accessories in my wardrobe as well as individual items of clothing like the red blouse in the second photo. Yellow was the accent colour suggested for the challenge and so I included the printed top and skirt, which I am wearing together as a "dress" in the photo below, although I can wear them separately as well. I have a yellow handbag as you can see, plus a couple of printed scarves with yellow in them.

After several unusually wet and chilly weeks here in Spain, it looks as if the sun has returned to brighten up our days. My navy jeans and other heavyweight bottoms will be going into storage for several months. as will all of my jumpers and most of my cardigans. I will be expanding the capsule to provide me with plenty of options for summer as well as spring, though I plan to stick to the principles of Project 333 (33 items for the next 3 months).  Click on the link I've given you if you wish to find out more.

What else have I been up to recently? I took part in a mini-challenge with some friends in a Facebook group. I'll show you the results in my next post, coming soon!

Friday, 17 April 2020

Colours to help us

The symbol of hope
I'm still working on my Spring capsule wardrobe, not helped by the dismal un-Spring-like weather here in Spain at the moment! Trying to choose my accent colours has made me think about how colour can help us all when we need cheering up. Not just by wearing the colours that make us feel good, but also by surrounding ourselves with cheerful colours.

Sunshine in my home
Yellow makes me feel more confident, positive and optimistic. My daughter Kate painted two walls in the living room this lovely golden yellow shade, which is definitely helping me stay positive in this difficult world we are facing at the moment. I don't have much yellow in my wardrobe, apart from some yellow accessories, so maybe I need to add a couple of items?

Red is my favourite accent
Now red definitely features strongly in my wardrobe - not just as accessories. I have many red pieces of clothing including my red trench coat shown in the above photo. Red gives me energy and makes me feel confident. In the good old days when I was working full-time, my colleagues often commented when I was wearing red:"Watch out! Sue's in red today...!"

Orange is another favourite of mine
I wear orange a lot too, particularly in social situations. Obviously at the moment these are extremely limited, unless you count Skype, Zoom and Facetime! Orange makes me feel optimistic and creative, which are traits that help me on a daily basis.

What other colours could I choose to add to my wardrobe that would be helpful to me under lockdown? Green is very calming and helps bring balance and harmony into our lives so is very relevant at the moment. Blue is many people's favourite colour - in my case, I love turquoise. Lighter shades of blue are also associated with calm and serenity. Pink is a nurturing colour and expresses a caring and empathetic love. It will allow us to feel self-love and to forgive others. Purple is the colour for contemplation and is linked with spiritual awareness and reflection. Brown makes us feel supported and safe. It is a cosy and warm colour, especially in the home. I think that is a good enough excuse for enjoying a small piece of dark chocolate in the evenings! Be aware that all colours can have a positive as well as a negative effect on you. Colours that work well for me may have the opposite effect on you, so choose carefully.

Of course we need to choose the right shades of whatever colours we feel will help us. I look best in warm colours, but you may shine in cooler shades. I always find Kettlewell Colours a good resource for choosing your most flattering colours, whether you identify with a particular season or prefer tonal systems. For anyone who would like to delve deeper into mindful dressing and how different colours have the ability to help us, I would recommend reading The Essential Guide to Mindful Dressing by Jules Standish.

What are your favourite colours and does wearing them help you cope during this world crisis? Do you have any other tips to share with us?

To all of my readers, take care and stay safe.

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 ResistirĂ© (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!)