Sunday, 16 September 2012

Being a non-standard size abroad

I was going to call this post "Being a petite size abroad", however I guess that my problem is shared by many other women who aren't a standard size.  You go out to buy a pair of trousers and fail miserably in your quest to find a pair that fits you.  You may be too short, too tall or just the wrong shape.  

My local shops are either aimed at the young and slender - so even if I can squeeze into the trousers the design isn't right for me - or at the more mature women (I know, that includes me!) where the trousers usually drown me and are deeply unflattering.  I have already bemoaned the lack of jackets to suit me - and let's not start on the dresses!

Do you have those in short? I thought not!
When I lived in London this wasn't such a problem, as many of the department stores have petite ranges, as well as chains such as Marks and Spencer.  When I first moved to Spain I ordered clothes from the Wallis on-line store, who made me very happy until they suddenly decided to change the length of their trousers!  My existing pairs of jeans measure 69/70 cm, but when I checked their website the shortest pair was now 73cm and some even measured 76cm.  What is going on?

Marks and Spencer also offer petite sizes and deliver to Spain, but I am reluctant to order from them until I try on their clothes when I next visit the UK.  The last time I tried on M & S trousers, the "waistline" was closer to a "hip-line", which I'm not keen on.  Being small that makes my legs look even shorter, which is not the look I am aiming for!

I have recently tried Lands End, and I must say that so far I have been very happy with my purchases, especially as I know that I can return them if they don't fit.  The best thing about Lands End is that I can specify my leg length: they start at 26" and go up by ¼" or you can buy them unfinished. Perfect!  I have also discovered their empire-line dresses, which are very flattering.

This was a perfect fit for me.
What I find strange is the fact that many Spanish women are as short as me, if not shorter. However the only petite ranges I have come across here are in El Corte Ingles: Jones New York Petite and Zendra Petite.  This may explain why I see so many young Spanish women wearing trousers that are clearly too long for them - they are OK in summer though as they can wear miniscule shorts and skirts, which sadly is no longer an option for me! It must also be hard for young Spanish women who aren't sylph-like, as many fashion shops only seem to stock small and medium sizes.

I have booked my flight back to the UK in October, and am seriously thinking of flying there with an empty suitcase and lots of cash!  Does anybody else have this problem?  Can you recommend any specialist websites that deliver abroad?


Friday, 14 September 2012

The Uncommon Wardrobe

Janice, of "The Vivienne Files" fame, has been blogging recently about what she calls "A Common Wardrobe".  Her idea is very simple but also good fun: she has taken the same basic wardrobe items and dressed them up in many different ways using themes such as romance, hot pink, blue eyes, amber etc.  I love the way a few well-chosen and colourful accessories can brighten up the basics.

If you feel that your own wardrobe needs revitalising but you can't afford to spend a small fortune on new clothes, then why not look at how you combine your existing clothes and especially what accessories you wear with them?  I find that I tend to wear the same tops with the same trousers or skirts and use the same accessories with them each time. It stops me having to think too much about what I wear, but it does get a bit monotonous.  No wonder I get bored with my clothes and am tempted to buy new ones!

I don't own all of the items that Janice shows in her common wardrobe - I'm not keen on polo necks and only have a couple of shirts - but you can see my own versions of her basics below.  The accessories that I have shown are all in red, mainly because Janice seems to have avoided that colour in her collections!




For other colour themes, I suggest that you click on the link to "The Common Wardrobe" to see the many great ideas Janice has for livening up your wardrobe.  My favourite is the amber theme - I'm sure it will go well with all my basics too.  Now which on-line shopping website shall I look at first?!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Are Parisians really that chic?

Are Parisians chic?  I had hoped to say a definite YES after my recent trip to Paris to celebrate my 65th birthday, but I think I may have to sit on the fence on this one.  In their favour, the percentage of elegant women (and men) in Paris was probably higher than in most cities.  It was low-key chic in most instances, with stylish touches like a casually tied scarf or a classy bag rather than the edgy fashion that you see in London for example.  Staff in hotels, restaurants and shops seemed more smartly dressed than in other cities and I would like to dispel one myth about Parisians: the vast majority were very friendly and helpful.

I managed to restrain myself in the Parisian shops - though I could easily have spent a small fortune! - helped by the fact that I received some lovely birthday presents from my family.  I had deliberately brought an expandable suitcase, but I managed to fit in the two short-sleeved tops I bought from J. Riu and the long-sleeved matelot top that I bought from Monoprix without needing to expand the case.

There were plenty of fashion horrors to be seen on the streets of Paris, mostly worn by English-speaking tourists I'm afraid: the British and Americans were equally guilty in this respect.  However John spotted a man wearing a casual jacket with brown shorts and long brown socks who was clearly French, as the British equivalent would have been wearing white socks.  I also spotted a Frenchwoman in a floaty white dress that would have looked far better on someone thirty years younger.  The words "mouton" and "agneau" sprang to mind.  Many younger Parisians would have looked equally at home wandering around London rather than Paris, though they still had that "je ne sais quoi".  I also saw some incredibly chic women on the Metro and in the shops, which is fairly rare in London: I only wish that I had been cheeky enough to take photos of them to post on here!

I tried not to stand out as a tourist by wearing what I hoped were suitably restrained outfits, though I'm sure any self-respecting Parisian femme wouldn't have been deceived!  Below, I'm sitting in the sunshine in a Parisian park, trying not to look too much like a tourist.

Me, trying to look like a Parisian!