Tuesday, 26 March 2013

My Spring 33: Project 333

Spring has officially arrived, though temperatures here in Spain have been a bit up and down.  On Saturday we went to the Semana Santa wine fair with friends: I only needed a light jacket, even though we were outside for several hours.  On Sunday I was wearing a winter coat, gloves and scarf for a brisk walk round town. No matter what the weather is doing, it is time to think of my 33 items of clothing for the next 3 months, which is almost impossible when you live in Spain.  I am still wearing jeans, long-sleeved tops and a coat or jacket, however I know that over the next couple of months it will become too hot to wear them.

For any new readers, the idea of Project 333 is that you cut down your wardrobe to just 33 items of clothing that you will wear over 3 months.  This should include bags, shoes and accessories, but that would be a step too far for me at the moment, so I have bent the rules slightly!  You don't have to include exercise clothes (if you only wear them for work outs), underwear, lounge wear or sleep wear. I may keep some of my winter 33 items to begin with, however by the time June arrives they will be consigned to the boxes under my bed, and the rest of my summer clothes will be hanging up in my wardrobe.

I have included two dresses, as I will be going to my niece's wedding at the beginning of June, plus a couple of evening events later in the month, and hopefully more invitations will be forthcoming.  The dresses will replace the winter coat and thick jacket that will remain in my wardrobe until temperatures start rising!  The long-sleeved tops, cardigans and other warm items will hopefully have been put away by the end of May and replaced by summer clothes.

For those of you who may think I won't have enough variety with just 33 items, I have worked out that my 18 tops will go with at least 4 different bottoms, creating a minimum of 72 different outfits.  If you add the two long-sleeved cardigans, one short-sleeved cardigan and the waistcoat into the equation (and I haven't even mentioned the dresses, trouser suit and two jackets), it is clear that I will be able to wear a different outfit every day over the next three months. As I have craftily excluded accessories, I will be able to add other touches to make each outfit unique.

The black in my wardrobe has now been replaced by navy, grey and dark brown, which are more flattering neutrals for most of us who are over 60 - supermodels excepted!  I have been trying to create a more structured wardrobe, with no more than six accent colours.  If you look at my selection above you will see that, apart from my neutrals, the colours are coral, green, blue, yellow, deep pink and red.  I think I'm slowly getting there!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Are you an odd size?

All that I wanted to do was to buy some new trousers that fit me properly.  Is that too much to ask for?  Ideally they would be dark brown, to fit in with my existing wardrobe, and even more ideally the length would be just right (have I mentioned that I'm only 5' 1"?) However I was willing to compromise: I would settle for a lighter shade of brown if necessary, or maybe navy, though I didn't want any more black.  I have already posted my findings that on-line shopping websites stock mainly black petite trousers, which is very frustrating when you want a different colour.  I had decided that I would even accept a pair that was too long if they were otherwise a good fit. After all I could have them turned up, so long as the style allowed it i.e. they were straight leg and not boot cut trousers.

I have accepted that buying petite trousers in Spain is almost impossible.  I had tried a couple of pairs in El Corte Ingles, but as well as being too long, they weren't a good fit . However I did some research on the internet prior to my recent visit to London and had drawn up a short list of shops and brands to try out.  I was pretty confident that my search would soon be over, as I had bought numerous pairs of petite trousers in London when I lived there.

First stop was John Lewis on Oxford Street. I had spotted a pair of CC Petite trousers on their website that I liked the look of, so I  headed eagerly to the Women's section to look for them, but in vain. Where were they?  I eventually tracked down a helpful shop assistant, who told me that the trousers were only available on-line: honestly, you couldn't make it up!

Perfect for me - apart from the length!
Next stop was House of Fraser, who also had shown CC Petite trousers on their website, but again I couldn't find any. This time a shop assistant said she thought the "CC" was actually Country Casuals, which they didn't stock - apart from on-line, presumably!  She suggested that I try Debenhams.

No sign of the elusive CC Petite trousers in Debenhams, which didn't surprise me as there weren't any on their website, though I did try on a couple of pairs of brown trousers from other brands, all of which were deeply unflattering as well as being over-priced.

My last two stops were Banana Republic and good old Marks and Spencer.  This time I had my personal shopper with me, aka my daughter Kate.  Being artistic, Kate can immediately spot the right colours and styles, so is an ideal shopping partner.

I headed to the changing rooms at Banana Republic with two very promising pairs of trousers in different styles. As I have grown older, my waistline has also grown.  I was a UK size 8 in my twenties, gradually increasing to size 10.  In more recent years size 12 has fitted me perfectly, but Kate's critical eye and my own honesty told me that size 12 was now a fraction too tight. Reluctantly I asked her to bring me size 14, but those trousers were far too baggy.

It was the same story in Marks and Spencer.  I tried on several pairs of trousers, but in most cases the problem was the style.  Leggings and jeggings cling too much and show every bump. Slim styles were equally unflattering when I tried on size 12, but size 14 were slightly baggy.  I soon realised that what I really need is a size 13, but all I had to choose from were sizes 12 and 14. Shoe manufacturers make half sizes (my perfect fit is usually 4½) so why can't clothing manufacturers work on a similar system?

I have come to the reluctant conclusion that the majority of clothes on the high street are made for younger women, and particularly trousers and jeans. Most of them are low-rise or mid-rise, which means that any excess fat rolls over the top, which is not a good look. If you find some that sit on the waist they are usually designed for women of a certain age and the style is slightly baggy, old-fashioned and unflattering.  I know that I am over 60, but I still like to wear clothes that are stylish and modern and not "old lady" clothes. After all, not every younger woman is tall and slim, so if it's frustrating for me, it must be even more frustrating for them. Just because you aren't the perfect size 10, it doesn't mean that you don't want to wear fashionable clothes.

Do you have the same problems finding trousers that fit you properly?  Any brands that you can recommend for those of us who are over 60 (or not as slim as we were!) but would like a stylish, modern look?

Sunday, 3 March 2013

FABruary Style Challenge Wrap

Thanks to Imogen of Inside Out Style for issuing her Style Challenge.  It made February a fabulous, fun month, although it proved extra challenging for me because of several reasons: I have reduced my wardrobe considerably since doing Project 333; I am also doing Colours and Numbers, which involves wearing specific colours on each day; I was on holiday for a week during February, which limited the clothes I had to choose from!

Imogen has done a summary of the challenge, asking the participants several questions, which I have decided to answer below.

What I want to know now is what did you discover?

I discovered that it is fun to try out different combinations and that just because I am over 60, it doesn't mean that I can't try out new trends.

Will you be wearing outfits that you created during the FABruary challenge that you've otherwise not worn before?
I have had many positive comments about the different outfits, and will definitely  be wearing many of them again.
How much of your wardrobe did you use?  How much still didn't get a look in (seasonal items excepted)?
I would say about 80 - 90% of my winter wardrobe, bearing in mind how I've cut back on my winter clothes.
Did it make it easier or harder for you to get dressed each day having a ‘plan’ of sorts?
It wasn't difficult - apart from having to pack for a holiday during February and balance doing the challenge with choosing suitable clothes for my holiday.
How did the people around you react to your style challenge outfits?
I did receive several compliments, and my poor husband occasionally complained about having to be the official photographer every day!
Which was your favourite day?
Day 27 - Sheer.  I had thrown out my few sheer tops when I started Project 333, on the basis that they were the wrong colours for me and didn't look good on an Over 60. My plan was to wear sheer tights on this day, but I went into a shop with my husband the day before and I couldn't resist buying this new top!

Did you enjoy seeing other people’s outfits?
Yes, because it gave me lots of new ideas plus it was fascinating to see how other people interpreted the challenge each day.
The good news is that Imogen plans another challenge for us all in a couple of months' time.  In the meantime, I will continue with Colours and Numbers.  My next task though is to pack for a long weekend in the UK, as I am visiting my family in London for Mother's Day. I think I will be taking my warmest clothes! 

Friday, 1 March 2013

FABruary Style Challenge - Shades of Grey

To be honest, I don't have a lot of grey in my wardrobe, which regular readers will already be aware of, having spotted all colours of the rainbow in the various outfits on my blog.  The last Style Challenge though was Shades of Grey and I had to participate.  There's no point in doing 27 days and failing on the last day is there?

I could have packed my favourite thick grey cardigan, but it would have taken up a lot of room in my suitcase and I was hoping it wouldn't be cold enough to need it.  I also have a grey tweed jacket, but it didn't really go with the rest of my holiday clothes.  What I ended up wearing was a white and grey t-shirt, which does have several shades of grey in it, and a pair of blue and grey trainers for when we went out walking. I also wore grey eye   shadow, in keeping with the theme.

If you look at the sky you will also see several shades of grey, but we can't really complain after five days of sunshine.  My husband, who failed to capture the blue and grey trainers, kindly pointed out that there are some grey hairs too!