Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Parisian Chic

Before going to Paris last year to celebrate my 65th birthday, I did a bit of research so that I could make the most of my stay in the French capital.  I contacted a blogger who lives in France and she recommended buying Parisian Chic written by the French model and fashion icon Inès de la Fressange.  It's a charming book, and there are lots of insider tips if you are planning a visit to Paris, as well as giving you the secrets of obtaining Parisian Chic.

Many of us yearn to have that je ne sais quoi that Frenchwomen seem to possess. You can find numerous popular fashion blogs based on this premise: there are links to two of my favourites on the right. Bearing this in mind,. I thought it would be interesting to look at what Inès considers are essential items in any chic woman's wardrobe.

Before we begin, here is my own version of "Parisian Chic", taken in Paris last year.

One of the most important lessons that I learnt from this book was: split your budget into two. Spend half on quality basics and the other half on fun purchases to brighten up your wardrobe, which means you can follow the trends without spending too much.  If leopard-skin prints are in fashion, don't dress in it from head to toe (you don't want to look like a fashion victim) but perhaps use the fun side of your budget to buy a scarf or bag in leopard-skin .

Here is Inés' list of 7 essentials:

1.  The blazer.

You can wear a blazer with a casual outfit or dress it up.  Choose a style and colour that suits you and that will fit in with the rest of your wardrobe. I was looking for a classic black blazer, but soon realised that black was too harsh for me and that structured styles were unflattering too.  I eventually bought the jacket in the photo above, which suits my colouring and which has proved more versatile than the other styles that I was considering.

2. The trench.

Another basic piece that can be worn with many different outfits from casual to smart. I bought a navy trench-coat when I was in London last year, which has become an essential part of my wardrobe.  However if you live in a colder climate, you may prefer to buy a winter coat that is equally versatile.

3.  The navy cashmere sweater.

I don't own one - yet!  I do have a green cashmere cardigan that I love and so this item is now on my list of future purchases. It doesn't have to be cashmere, though if you can find one in the sales it would be a good investment. It doesn't have to be navy either, though obviously navy is a colour that won't date and that will go with most other colours, even with black.

4.  The tank

Inès suggests buying several good quality tank tops in basic colours like white, navy, khaki, grey or black. Obviously choose colours that suit your colouring and that won't date.  Basic tanks can be worn underneath your jacket, trench or sweater as well as with jeans, shorts or a skirt.

5.  The little black dress

Aha! This one can be found on every fashionista's list of wardrobe essentials, but it won't be on mine. Why? Because black isn't a good colour for most over 60s, that's why! However the principle is fine: a simple, elegant dress that won't date is what we all really want. Just find the shape and colour that is right for YOU. I haven't found mine yet, so when I find it I may very well buy two.

6.  The perfect jeans

I have them and I'm wearing them now. The only problem is that they won't last for ever, so I am looking for a replacement. The most classic shape is straight-leg jeans, but choose the shape that suits your body best. Navy never goes out of fashion, but I treated myself to a pair of bright pink jeans that I love almost as much as the navy pair that I'm wearing. For younger readers, who may have read "no jeans after 40 or 50", I'm 65 and I intend wearing jeans until the day I die!  There should be no age limit on wearing jeans if you love them and so long as they love you.

7.  The leather jacket

This is an interesting choice for the last of Inès' seven essentials.  Some of us may refuse to wear a leather jacket because of our principles, others may feel that it's not a look that suits them.  I had a real leather jacket that I bought second-hand in a French market (where else!).  I loved it and it went with everything, however one day I left it in an Italian airport and, when I realised my mistake and went back, sadly it had disappeared. I now have an imitation leather jacket that looks a bit like the one I lost and that is proving to be equally versatile. If leather jackets aren't something you would wear, why not find a casual jacket that is just as versatile and that works well for you?

So there you have it.  The seven key items that Parisians would wear to look stylish.  Do you agree? If not, what would your seven essential items consist of?

Monday, 29 April 2013

The Uncommon Wardrobe Revisited

It's six months since I blogged about my "Uncommon Wardrobe", and my wardrobe has had a major shake-up over the last six months, so I thought it was time to revisit the topic.

I based the idea on the amazing Janice's many posts about her "Common Wardrobe" in The Vivienne Files.  Janice created a basic wardrobe of twelve pieces of clothing in neutral colours and then added four signature pieces (red in the example that I've linked to) plus accessories. In my first attempt, prior to banishing black from my wardrobe and choosing more flattering colours, I did have several black items, however there are none in the new version.

The colours here are navy (light and dark), grey, dark brown and stone.  Obviously the navy and grey will look better together as will the dark brown and stone. I probably need to decide in the future which group of neutrals suits me best and phase out the other group as I have done with black, but at the moment all these colours are proving versatile.  Many of my favourite colours go well with my "uncommon" wardrobe - how about a touch of green?

Or some sunshine yellow - especially as we've had a lot of rain recently here in Spain!

The beauty of creating a common wardrobe is that with the right neutral pieces you can create lots of different outfits with a fairly small wardrobe. With the four tops and four bottoms shown for example, I can create twelve oufits not just four. Mix and match the jackets or add the green and yellow tops to change the look and add even more variety.

If you are feeling a bit bored with your current wardrobe - same old, same old - why not introduce a few touches of colour and see how that changes your look? Remember that you can update your wardrobe easily by adding a few accessories: a bright scarf, colourful necklace or a few sparkly bracelets can make all the difference.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

What price cheap fashion?

I have already posted about Fairtrade, but the recent tragedy in Dhaka has highlighted the issue again.  I've been as guilty as anyone, buying cheap clothes to give my wardrobe (and me!) a lift.  It's very tempting, which is why when I started doing Project 333 (having 33 items of clothing to last 3 months) and looked at my wardrobe critically, I realised how many clothes I had that didn't fit me any more, no longer suited me, and were already looking faded and worn.  Cheap clothes aren't made to last, and yet so many of us buy even more cheap clothes to replace them.

Janice of The Vivienne Files has already written about this emotive topic, and I was interested in one of the comments made by someone called Anonymous:

"This 'they wouldn't have any jobs' argument is so colonial, looking down on people."

I beg to differ.  My belief is that those of us who have bought cheap clothing in the past have indirectly contributed to this terrible tragedy, so we have a responsibility to try and improve the situation by buying wisely in future.  However if we just boycott companies like Primark and Joe Fresh, who are we helping?  We should be lobbying these companies to face up to their responsibilities and say that we won't buy their clothes until they do so. 

I live in Spain, where unemployment is very high and many families are struggling to survive. This is mainly the result of the recession and the collapse of the building trade, leading to the loss of many jobs. If people in Bangladesh need these jobs, the solution is to improve their working conditions, pay them a decent wage and not complain about the resulting increased prices in our shops. I hope that I'm not being colonial if I say that I don't want job losses in Bangladesh that will mean families there are having to struggle too.

More than 360 people are known to have died here
I buy most of my clothes on-line from Lands End and Marks & Spencer, mainly because of their petite ranges.  I have already sent emails to both companies stating that I am a concerned customer, and to their credit they replied promptly. Here are their responses.

Marks and Spencer

Dear Ms Walker

Thanks for taking the time to contact us after the tragedy in Dhaka. I would like to reassure you that the quality of life for anyone producing M&S products is very important to us.

We set the same standards for quality and working conditions regardless of where our products are made.

All of our suppliers are expected to meet our Global Sourcing Principles, and to encourage their own suppliers to implement them. This requires our suppliers to comply with national laws and to work towards the international labour laws contained in the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code.

Our Global Sourcing Principles promote the right to freedom of association, requiring that workers are free to join lawful trade unions or workers’ associations, and the payment of national minimum wage. Any new suppliers who we conduct business with have to pass our audits on key issues such as underage labour, pay, working hours and health and safety.

If you would like to view the full details of our Global Sourcing Principles, or to see the results of our supplier audits in our annual How We Do Business report, they can be found on our website: www.marksandspencer.com.

I hope this information has reassured you that as a company we are committed to the highest standards of ethical trading for our workers and suppliers both in the UK and abroad.

Lands End

Dear Ms Walker

Thank you for your enquiry.

We take special care in selecting partners who share our concern for the environment and adhere to their local and national laws regarding the protection and preservation of the environment.
We also require that all of our products be manufactured in environments that are safe and comply with all local rules and regulations.

Our commitments to Social Responsibility can be found on our website (www.landsend.co.uk) and by clicking on 'Social Responsibility' at the bottom of the homepage.

If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

I hope that you will follow my example and contact the retailers where you buy your clothes from. Also don't assume that the mid-cost fashion retailers aren't guilty in this respect: ask them the same questions.

I would be interested in any other ideas that you may have to ensure that cheap fashion no longer comes at such a cost.

April Style Challenge - never mind the weather!

Have you ever packed for a holiday optimistically, with lots of lightweight bottoms, short-sleeved tops and just one cardigan, only to have the rain teem down nearly every day? That's what this week's capsule wardrobe for the April Style Challenge has felt like. My blue linen trousers are in the wash as I've spilt something on them, but I wouldn't have wanted to wear them today anyway. It's definitely jeans, top and green cashmere cardigan weather! When I venture outside later I will be wearing the navy trench-coat with a warm scarf and boots - and suspect that I may even wear gloves. I had allowed for it becoming a bit cooler this weekend, but the weather is even worse than forecast.

This has given me food for thought about our trip to Scotland in June. I've just looked at the average June temperatures for Eastern Scotland, and the highs are equivalent to the lows in Murcia, Spain. I think two pairs of jeans, two cardigans and a couple of long-sleeved tops may be going into my suitcase, as well as more summery clothes.  Plus an umbrella!

The best option is to take plenty of layers, which I can mix and match both to suit the weather and to change my look, so I don't become bored. A couple of scarves, it goes without saying, will be tucked into the lid of my case. However for anyone planning to travel to Spain in June for a holiday, you should be pretty safe with summer clothes!

PS Does anyone know where I can buy another pair of short petite jeans?  This pair has seen better days!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

April Style Challenge - nearly there!

I'm getting near the end of my week working with a capsule wardrobe of 10 items, and I plan to extend it until the end of April. I anticipate that my green cardigan and navy trench-coat will figure a lot in my outfits over the next few days, judging by the weather outside and the miserable forecast. 

Fellow blogger Jacqui mentioned in a comment that she changes when she gets home from work, so she wears the same work clothes twice before washing them, but she mixes them up so people don't notice. That is a good tip for anyone planning to work with a small capsule wardrobe too.

Look 1
Look 2
I have deliberately put these two outfits side by side to make a couple of points.  Although the top is fairly bright, if I wore a cardigan or jacket over it, the looks would be different enough for people not to notice, especially if my outer garment was a similar colour to my bottoms.

The other point is to do with contrast in your colouring. I have dark hair, dark eyes and warm freckled skin and I have been told that I have light to medium contrast in my colouring. This being the case, someone commented when they saw look 2 that they thought the yellow top would look better worn with lighter bottoms as in look 1, which is today's outfit.  What do you think? Do you prefer Look 1 or Look 2 on me?

Friday, 26 April 2013

Are we too obsessed with being clean?

First of all a disclaimer: I am not talking about my house here, as any friends reading this who have visited our house know that I don't clean it every day! I need to clean regularly of course - particularly the kitchen and bathroom, for obvious reasons of hygiene - but I don't dust and sweep on a daily basis, unlike the local Spanish señoras that we spot every morning, throwing bucketfuls of dirty water onto the streets. I hope that I haven't shocked you too much!

Personal hygiene is important and I have a bath or take a shower at least once a day. This means that when I get dressed in the morning I am putting my clothes onto a clean body, and I am putting clean clothes on too. Yes, I've come to the point at last, which has been highlighted by my current capsule wardrobe experience. Do we need to wear different clothes every day? Underwear maybe, but I put on a clean top every morning, though I will wear the bottoms several times so long as they look clean. As I have limited myself to five tops, which I will be wearing over a nine day period, I have already hand washed a couple of them, but was this really necessary?

I wore this outfit on Monday, but with different accessories. The purple top wasn't dirty and neither were the trousers, in spite of getting wet, but I still washed the top without even thinking about it. This meant I was using water, which is a precious resource in Spain, when I didn't need to. Whenever the laundry basket is full the washing machine goes on, which is using electricity as well as water.  If I wore my tops a couple of times instead of just once, the washing machine wouldn't need to be used as frequently. If I wasn't as clean, the environment would definitely benefit.

I'm not sure when this habit began.  When I went to school we wore a school uniform, and I cannot remember having more than a couple of blouses and skirts.  I joined the Women's Royal Navy and wore a uniform - again, I didn't have enough items to change them everyday, and I only did the washing at the weekend.  Perhaps it was after I had children?  Children do get dirty and sometimes have to wear more than one outfit a day, plus mothers find it difficult not to get messy too, so the washing machine was on almost constantly. I think I will have to blame it on the children!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

April Style Challenge - more challenges!

I am using a capsule wardrobe of 10 items of clothing this week, as part of the April Style Challenge. I followed Imogen's advice and checked the weather forecast, but even so I am realising that the linen trousers  and light tops that I have been wearing happily for the last couple of weeks were optimistic choices.  Yes, I included one pair of jeans, a cashmere cardigan and my trench-coat, and luckily I can add warm scarves as accessories weren't included, but I was expecting to only need these for the weekend and I am already wearing them today. Perhaps I can wear thick tights under my linen trousers tomorrow?

I suspect that I will be wearing my cardigan until the end of this challenge, so I must take great care not to spill anything on it!

I am now scanning the fashion blogs for some ideas on packing light for my holiday in June: I may very well be packing two cardigans though based on this week's experiences.  One blogger that I highly recommend for inspiring capsule collections and packing ideas is Janice of The Vivienne Files.  Click on the link to the right under Recommended Blogs - and enjoy!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

April Style Challenge - using my capsule wardrobe

It's April, it was windy this morning and the clouds looked a bit dark, so after my last experience of getting soaked I decided to wear my trench-coat.  I think this capsule wardrobe could very well form the basis of my holiday wardrobe too: after all, cold winds and rain aren't exactly unknown in the UK even in June!

I took advantage of some sunshine to wash a couple of tops, because I only have five tops to last me for over a week and I don't want to cheat unless I have to. You have already seen the bottoms, but I can assure you that they are still clean - especially since I only wore them for part of the day after I got them soaked - so I wore them again.

My navy trench-coat is ideal for a minimalist wardrobe as you can wear it with so many different colours and change the look entirely. I do like a pop of colour though, so if I hadn't been carrying my bright green bag I would have worn a brighter coloured scarf with it.

The coral top will go with the other pairs of trousers too, so if I had to wash this pair it wouldn't have been a problem. Looking at my project 333 wardrobe, I could also have worn them with a pair of brown trousers or a grey skirt from my Spring 33.  The bright pink jeans wouldn't have been a good match though, and I can see that buying those jeans wasn't the best of ideas!  However I love them, and I have enough different tops that I can wear with them, so they will stay in my 33 in spite of being less versatile than my navy jeans.

Any picky, pedantic readers may want to point out that the navy trench-coat wasn't shown in my Spring 33!  However, if you read the small print, I said that the two dresses pictured would be kept in reserve until the weather improves and in the meantime I planned to keep a thicker jacket and my winter coat from the previous 33.  The coat isn't necessary if I wear a cardigan on cooler days, so I decided to keep the trench-coat instead.

Do you have any particularly versatile clothes that you can wear for most of the year? I suspect that it is easier for those of you who love black and have a wardrobe full of black separates, however black is now banned from my wardrobe because I no longer look good in it.  I do have some basic colours like navy and brown, but I am seriously addicted to colour now, as the right colours look great on over 60s. I just need to buy wisely and choose colours that will work well with my existing wardrobe.

To make it easier for me, I have printed out a copy of my Spring 33, so if I am tempted to shop I ask myself three questions:

1. Which item will it replace?  I need to ensure that it is a good choice and that I will discard something else if I buy it.

2. Will the item go with most, if not all, of my existing clothes?

3. Do I really need it? Note that I have saved the most crucial question till last!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

My capsule wardrobe proves challenging!

Day 1 of  this week's April Style Challenge: using a capsule wardrobe of ten items of clothing.  I got off to a good start by deciding to wear my purple long-sleeved top with blue linen trousers and adding one of my favourite scarves.  I wish I had asked my husband to take a photo this morning though, as I am now wearing a different outfit, so it doesn't count!
Today's outfit - part 1!
On Monday evenings we go to our Spanish lesson and when we set off it was dry though a bit cool. Luckily I had put my umbrella in my bag at the last minute as, while we were sitting in the classroom, it started raining heavily and soon we were watching lightning flashes and listening to thunder. As our Spanish teacher put it: "Madre mía"! The rain had eased a bit when we started walking home, but there were rivers running down the streets so by the time we got home my feet and trouser bottoms were soaking wet.

I am now wearing the same top and scarf but with my jeans. I have also changed my slip-on shoes for socks and trainers. Luckily shoes and accessories didn't have to be included, and the jeans are part of my capsule wardrobe, so I'm not cheating (yet!)
Today's outfit - part 2!
Spot the difference!

It does prove the importance though of having versatile clothes, and especially when you are going on holiday. At home it wouldn't matter so much, as I do have more than ten articles in my wardrobe to choose from, even though I am trying to limit myself to using just ten of them this week. If I had been on holiday, I would have been relieved that I could change into different bottoms without needing to change my top.  How versatile is YOUR wardrobe? Why not try this capsule wardrobe challenge yourself, and see how successful you are!

Monday, 22 April 2013

April Style Challenge - Capsule Wardrobe Week

This week's Style Challenge was to create a capsule wardrobe of 10 items of clothing to wear over the next week.  If you click on the link above you can see Imogen's wardrobe and her suggestions that the 10 items consist of 5 tops (which could include dresses), 2 bottoms and 3 cardigans/jackets.  She also suggested looking at the weather forecast before deciding on your capsule!

My initial thoughts were to have 7 tops, 2 bottoms and 1 jacket - as the weather has been warm recently -  until I followed Imogen's tip and looked at the forecast.  Temperatures are due to drop by the weekend!  Back to the drawing board and my final decision was to have 5 tops, 3 bottoms and 2 cardigan/jackets.  The  original two bottoms that I had picked were linen trousers, so I have added my faithful jeans to them. I have decided on some lightweight tops that can be rinsed out if necessary, and I have included a cardigan for wearing indoors and my navy trench-coat for wearing over it on cooler days.

This is my capsule wardrobe.  Luckily shoes and accessories didn't have to be included, so that will be a bonus if the weather does become chilly.


Looking at the tops and bottoms above, I can create 14 different outfits, leaving aside the accessories that obviously could be used to create even more looks. Factor in the cardigan, that hopefully I won't need to wear, and the possible combinations increase. I have realised that this would be a good basis for a holiday wardrobe too.

Why don't you challenge yourself to select 10 items from your wardrobe to wear for one or even two weeks?  Let me know how successful you are!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Style Statement - part 2

Recently I acquired a fascinating book entitled "Style Statement".  The purpose of the book is to find two words that describe your authentic self, which you can then use in all aspects of your life such as the clothes you wear, the interior of your house, your relationships and the direction in which you are going in your career. The first word describes your foundation: the 80%, and the second word describes your creative edge, what motivates you: your 20%.  Taking part in Imogen's April Style Challenge was an added incentive for me to explore this book in greater depth. I had decided, with the help of some comments from friends and other fashion bloggers, that my style is essentially relaxed, comfortable and colourful.  How could I use this to come up with my Style Statement?

Working through the Style Statement book, I noticed a few key things that reflected not only my surroundings, but also the clothes that I feel comfortable in.  In my home I like plenty of light, comfort is a priority and I also enjoy touches of colour.  When I buy new clothes, they need to feel light and comfortable on my body and I am also drawn to bright colours. You can see the common theme.

So what two words did I end up with?  The ones that I was considering for my first word (80%) were Cherish, Cosmopolitan, Genuine, Harmony, Natural, Timeless.  The words that felt right for me for my second word (20%) were Casual, Colourful, Cosmopolitan, Fun, Light, Original, Playful, Style, Unique,Vibrancy and Warm.

This was the outfit that I wore today when we visited friends, which I think sums up my style.  It is comfortable, in basic colours of light navy and white, but with a dash of colour as seen in my coral necklace.  I also had a matching coral cardigan with me, which I didn't need to wear as it was a lovely warm Spring day: the joys of living in Spain!

Looking at the words above and the outfit that I was wearing, which two words do you think best describe my style?

Reading through the words again, and reflecting on my answers to the questions in the book, I decided that Harmony and Natural were the closest words to the real me.

Checking out the 20% list I noticed that I had written down Cosmopolitan, which had also featured in my 80% list.  Was that telling me something?

My final decision was that Harmonious Cosmopolitan is the best description of who I am and also who I want to be.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Second-hand Rose - post no 100!

When I realised that this post was going to be my 100th, it was obvious that I needed to choose the subject very carefully.  My 100th post couldn't just be about me and my outfit of the day, it needed to be about something a bit less trivial. I have already written about considering Fairtrade when buying new clothes, but do we really need new clothes? If we decide that we have to buy a new dress, maybe because our favourite dress is past its best, does it have to be brand-new or could we buy second-hand?

When I was younger there was a certain stigma associated with buying second-hand clothes, but then vintage clothing became fashionable, and we grew aware of environmental issues, so nowadays most people are quite happy to shop in charity shops - or thrift shops as they are sometimes called outside the UK.

As the mother of three growing children, I didn't have much money to spend on myself when they were young.  I was working full-time, so when I needed a "new" suit for the office I would pop down to my local Oxfam shop. People would sometimes comment: "Is that new? I haven't seen it before."  I didn't mind admitting that it wasn't new, as I was pleased to have found a bargain.

One of the advantages of buying vintage and second-hand clothing, apart from saving money, is that you are less likely to see someone wearing an identical item of clothing than if you buy the latest look from your nearest fashion store. That's one thing that I miss about no longer living in London, which is a shoppers' paradise if you like second-hand or vintage clothes.  Where we live in Spain there aren't any second-hand shops, and buying on-line can be a bit hit and miss, so I will have to wait until my next trip to visit my family in London and trawl around the second-hand shops there.

I found the dress above on the Oxfam website: it is a Vintage 80s dress by Innovators. It's in my size, and I love the bright colours, but if I buy it will I look young and vibrant (the look aimed for) or will I just look frumpy? It's a fine line for those of us who are over 60.

For inspiration to dress more sustainably, why not look at The Citizen Rosebud, written by young Bella Q (she's a mere child, as she's only 40+)?  Another inspiring blog, with the emphasis on both vintage and hats, is the Style Crone. I'd tell you how old she is, but you wouldn't believe me! Both of them prove the point that style doesn't have a "best by date" and that you don't have to buy new clothes if you want to create a new and different look. Next time you get the urge to shop, why not become a second-hand Rose and buy yourself some second-hand clothes?

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Style Statement - part 1

Generous, warm-hearted, adventurous, independent, creative, compassionate: these are the words a dear friend used to describe me when I was trying to define what type I was for Dressing Your Truth.  I am now trying to establish my individual style within the DYT guidelines, and part of the April Style Challenge is to find your personal style statement, so this seemed like an opportune moment to do so. 

The words for type 1s in DYT include: light, animated, buoyant, crisp, fresh and fun.  From these words, I think the ones that best express the way I like to approach fashion are light, crisp and fun. Looking at my friend's list, the words that I would hope to convey through the way I dress are warm-hearted, independent and creative. Imogen from Inside Out Style described my style as colourfully, comfortably relaxed.  

Colourfully, comfortably relaxed?
Is there a common theme here?  As Imogen is the style expert, I will look at her words first. "Colourful" probably relates to the light, fun part of me that uses colour to brighten up my outfits and I hope that this makes me seem more approachable and warm-hearted too.  The "comfortable" aspect is light again, and crisp, as I don't like to wear anything that feels heavy or drapes too much. "Relaxed" ties in with the comfort factor too.  I hope that I am expressing my independent side by not slavishly following fashion, but using the latest styles if they happen to suit my lifestyle. I like to think that some of my looks are creative, but the main criteria when I wear a particular style is "does it feel good?" and any creative touches are secondary to that. So, not surprisingly, I think that Imogen was spot on - she is the style expert, after all!

I think that "colourfully relaxed" is a good starting point for me, as it also represents the way I like my home to be.  At the moment I am working my way through "The Style Statement" book so I plan another post on this topic, in which I will reveal the two words that are my personal Style Statement.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Take one scarf

I have a lovely collection of scarves, in case you hadn't noticed. I have realised how they can add a touch of colour to an otherwise plain outfit, as well as bringing together different colours so that my outfit looks more "put together" rather than "thrown together"! They are now an important part of my wardrobe, so I thought it would be fun to show how one scarf can be used with several different outfits.

This is one of my favourite scarves, which I have owned for several years.  I can fold it several ways so that different colours are revealed, depending on what colours I am wearing.


I don't own any tops in that shade of pink (perhaps I should look for one?), but I have a pink bracelet that I can add or even a pair of pink gloves. 

Why not try choosing an outfit to wear with your favourite scarf or, if you don't have many scarves, why not buy one to go with your favourite outfit?

If you would like some more ideas about matching clothes to scarves, take a look at The Vivienne Files, which is a constant source of inspiration for me.  Click on the link above to see one of Janice's most recent posts about scarves.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Do you belong to a fashion tribe?

A few days ago I received an email from Motilo, inviting me to find out which fashion tribe I belonged to. How could I resist?!

There were five tribes to choose from and I really, really wanted to belong to the Super-Chic Tribe, however I knew as soon as I saw the words "well dressed" and "sophistication" that I didn't have what it takes.  Sadly, I couldn't see myself meeting the high standards of the other tribes either: Magpie Tribe (a possibility,  but I don't think I would suit braided flaxen hair); Club Kids ( I suspect I may be waaaay too old...); Practicool Tribe (I think I would find them a teeny bit boring) and The Avant Garde (apart from writing a blog, I don't meet any of the criteria). Take a look and see if you belong to any of the tribes.

Super-Chic? Not even close!
This started me thinking about my own family, friends and neighbours.  How many of them would fit into the above fashion tribes? A mere handful (I'm not naming names!). Maybe it is time to think up some fashion tribes of my own?

1. Harassed Mums Mob

You can spot them by the fact that it looks as if they grabbed the first clothes that came to hand. They did. They are far too busy sorting out one or more kids for school, loading the washing machine, doing the dishes, writing out a shopping list (or ordering from Tesco on-line), to be able to think about what they are going to wear.  They are just grateful to find clean clothes hanging up in their wardrobe and even more so if they remembered to iron them at the weekend.

2. Frumpy Women United

They've never really been into clothes and have no intention of starting now.  You may think that they look frumpy, but most of them are happy the way they are. If one of them happens to be your best friend, you may be tempted to "take her in hand" and make her look more stylish. Don't. Unless they ask for your advice, let them enjoy wearing clothes that they feel comfortable in. They are happy in their own skins, and isn't that the most important thing?

3.  Office Uniform Club

Many of us have been members of this tribe.  When we go out to work, we often end up wearing clothes that are "suitable" for the place that we work in.  Black anyone? If you're lucky your work clothes may fit your sense of style, but some of us find the office uniform a bit boring and can't wait to get home and change. Once I retired, I realised that I didn't want to wear most of my old work clothes, so I resigned.

4. Trying Hard to Look Cool Gang

Their members can be any age. For many of them, Kate Moss is their idol.  She's the epitome of cool. (Younger readers - please let me know if this is no longer true!)  The problem with "cool" is that the more you try, the more "uncool" you end up looking.  Politicians are particularly prone to this - William Hague's baseball cap comes to mind! Remember that if you have children (even if they are adults), parents trying to look cool are extremely embarrassing.

5.  Fashion Victims Tribe

This is a group that you don't want to join, but if you're not careful you may become a member of it without realising.  It is closely related to the Trying Hard to Look Cool Gang as its members are all keen to try the latest "looks" from their favourite magazine or website, especially if Kate Moss is wearing it . You may want to consider becoming an associate member by wearing some of the latest fashions, but only if they suit you.  Trust me, it's far better than taking out full membership.

Monday, 15 April 2013

April Style Challenge - Colour in nature

I really enjoyed planning this particular challenge, which was to find a picture that represents "nature" and choose an outfit based on those colours. I was tempted by the idea of a sunset, as the background colours on this blog are from a photo that I took of a sunset on the Costa Blanca.  I found several photos that I liked,  including parrots, rain forests and sunsets, but this is the one that seemed the best match for the range of colours  hanging up in my wardrobe.  I think most of my sunset colours were in the laundry basket!

Here is the outfit that I created using nature as a source of inspiration.

Have you ever tried to create an outfit using colours from your favourite painting or a photo? If you had to create an outfit based on nature like I did, what colours would you choose and what would they represent?  

Sunday, 14 April 2013

April Style Challenge - Triadic Colours

This was probably one of the most interesting colour combinations in the Style Challenge, as it involved wearing three colours from the Colour Wheel that are selected by placing a triangle over it.  I could have chosen red, yellow and blue but I went for purple, orange and green instead, as I thought that would be a particularly interesting combination. I liked Imogen's triadic outfit, which was a tunic with red, blue and yellow dots, however I don't have anything like it in my wardrobe.  To be honest with you, I would never have thought of wearing orange and purple together if it hadn't been for this challenge, but I rather liked this look and I may very well repeat it!

Being self-critical, I'm not sure that these were the best trousers to wear with my outfit as they are light coloured and fairly wide, which has the effect of making me look broader and by definition shorter. A darker shade would have been more flattering.

I quite fancy combining red, yellow and blue too.  If I start with navy blue jeans or blue linen trousers, then adding a red or yellow top, with yellow or red accessories to complete the triadic colour scheme, should be simple enough. Have you ever tried these colour combinations?  If so, please share with us how you put your outfit together.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

April Style Challenge - Coloured Accessories

After showing restraint yesterday and sticking to monochromatic colours, today I allowed myself a little treat.   I decided to use coloured accessories with my outfit of the day.  I recommend reading Imogen's post on this subject: Using Accessories in Colour to Create Interest. I love the way she shows four different outfits and matches them with different coloured accessories to create a new look.

I thought it would be interesting to use similar colours to the ones I wore yesterday - different shades of blue - but this time brighten them up with red. Yesterday's outfit was calming, being mainly blue. Today's outfit felt livelier because of the touches of red. Are you affected by the colours you wear?  I know when I was working in a particularly tricky job, I would wear red if I had a difficult situation to deal with.  My colleagues would comment: "Take care, Sue's wearing red today!"

I don't wear belts very often, partly because my waist has seen better days and partly because I am short and belts have the effect of cutting me in half and making me look even shorter. However fashion isn't just about making you look slimmer/younger/more chic.  It's also about enjoying what you are wearing and I enjoyed wearing this outfit today.  Enough said!

I have worn this top with turquoise accessories before however I think I might try it with yellow accessories as a change or with coral (another favourite colour of mine). Next time you wear an outfit that you have worn many times in the past, why not try using different accessories to create a new look?

Friday, 12 April 2013

April Style Challenge - Monochromatic

To be honest with you, the idea of wearing monochromatic colours all day seemed a teeny bit monotonous - and also rather challenging personally, but that is the idea of this Style Challenge.  To try out new outfits and different combinations of colour, instead of the "same old, same old". I was relieved to know that I didn't have to wear the exact same colour head to toe, just dark and light shades of the same colour, but even so I was sure that I would find my outfit rather boring.

I had to resist the temptation to wear a bright red scarf or shoes, just to add a pop of colour: they were saved for another day's challenge. However I couldn't resist adding a simple gold necklace and bracelet to give a bit of glitter to my look!

I wore this look for a trip to the city of Murcia, to collect my camera from the photographic department of El Corte Ingles. The weather forecast was for sunshine and a high of 28C, so I wanted a comfortable and cool outfit for the bus trip followed by walking the city streets. My verdict was that the outfit worked well, I think the colours were flattering, however I am still likely to add a touch of red the next time that I wear this!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

April Style Challenge - Complementary Colours

My wardrobe is pretty colourful, so I had a good choice of complementary colours to choose from for this outfit.  To clarify what I mean by complementary colours: it's not those colours that, when you wear them, people give you compliments about i.e. "You look great in that green top!" Complementary colours are colours that are opposite each other on the Colour Wheel.  In my case I used pink and green, but I could also have chosen blue and orange or purple and yellow, for example.

I apologise for the quality of the photo, which was taken by my DH using the phone on my camera.  I quite like the soft focus face (who needs Photoshop!) but I think he held the phone at the wrong angle as my legs and feet look tiny!

I haven't worn this top and jeans together before, as I usually wear neutral tops with my bright jeans. I rather like the look, and the green is flattering against my mature skin, however it's not necessarily a good combination for petites. Wearing the two bright colours together chops me in half, and the best look for those of us who are vertically challenged is to create a long, lean line. If I had worn a cardigan or jacket in the same pink, it would have made me look taller. Or a top that matched the jeans, worn with my green cardigan, would have had a similar effect. Unfortunately I don't have such items in my wardrobe.

Still one of the joys of getting older is that you don't worry so much about what other people think. What if this outfit is a bit bright? What if it makes me look shorter and fatter? I like it, so I'll wear it again!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Fair enough

When you buy new clothes, what are you looking for? What are your priorities?

In my case, I am looking for: good quality at a good price; colours that suit me and that will fit in with my existing wardrobe; clothes that fit me well, which in my case usually means having to buy petite sizes (but not the smallest petite sizes unfortunately!)  No doubt you have similar priorities.  However there is an even more important issue that we should all be taking into account when we go clothes shopping: fair trade.

We've all heard the horror stories of the sweat shops in third world countries (which, even worse, may include child labour) that exist to feed our obsession with cheap fashion. The simple solution is to only buy clothes made in your own country , but that doesn't help to solve the problem of poor working conditions and poverty in developing countries. The other solution is to look for Fairtrade Clothing whenever you shop.
Some of the well-known companies where you can buy Fairtrade Cotton at reasonable prices are Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Sainsburys, Top Shop and Monsoon. Remember that this may not include every item in their range, so look for the Fairtrade label.

The pioneers of Sustainable and Fair Trade Fashion in the UK are People Tree, who just happen to have a sale on at the moment.  I've noticed that they do international delivery too.  Excuse me while I pop over to their website to have a look - http://www.peopletree.co.uk/ . I am seriously tempted by this dress, and they have it in my size!

Living in Spain, I am lucky enough to be able to buy good quality, reasonably priced shoes and bags that have been made locally, though of course some of the cheaper items are made abroad so I have to check the labels.  There is a lot of unemployment here, so I like to think that I am supporting local people whenever I buy a new pair of shoes or another handbag with the "Made in Spain" label.

Do you have any favourite Fair Trade shops that you can share with us?

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Playing with colour

This week's April Style Challenge is all to do with colour, hence the colour wheel above.  Imogen explains the different combinations and gives some examples in her helpful post.  If you're anything like me, you probably combine a basic shade (navy denim jeans, anyone?) with one or maybe two other colours, and you may have a tendency to wear the same pair of jeans with particular tops. This week, why not look at other colour combinations? Go on, I dare you!

Today's outfit is all about analogous colours i.e. colours beside each other in the colour wheel.  I decided to wear a yellow top, with green shoes and a green ring, plus my dark blue jeans.  When I went out earlier I wore one of my favourite scarves, which has green, blue and yellow (plus orange, pink and white!) flowers, and is ideal for pulling different colours together.

If you decide to try a new colour combination, please let me know what colours you used and whether it is a combination that you would wear again.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Would you - should I - Photoshop?

It's a tempting thought, especially after reading Tish's thought-provoking article: What's Age got to do with it?. Tish talks about a recent edition of the French Elle featuring women of a certain age, in this case over 60. All the women featured, from Charlotte Rampling, 67, to the Academy Award nominee Emannuelle Riva, 86, are stunning and don't hide their ages. However some of them may have had a few tweaks (Jane Fonda?) and Tish says "It's possible too that Photoshop did the tweaking".

So what has brought on these thoughts about Photoshop?  The return of my mobile phone today, and the photo that I have just uploaded.  I mentioned the purple top that I was wearing and now I can show you that top, however when I looked at the photo my double chin was very much in evidence.  Unlike the stars in Elle magazine, I'm showing my age a bit.  What if I bought Photoshop and brushed away these signs of age?

As you can see, I decided against this strategy for several reasons.

1. Any friends looking at my blog would immediately think "Sue doesn't look that good, even on her good days!"

2.  I checked the cost of Photoshop and the cheapest version seemed to be over £100.  For £100 I could buy myself a new summer dress and a bright lipstick, that would make me feel far better than trying to deceive you all

3. My own self-esteem.  I'm a great believer in making the most of yourself, no matter what age you are, but touching up a photo to make myself look better is deception.  I wouldn't feel good about deliberately trying to hide my age.

So here I am, wrinkles and all, proudly on display!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

The Coveted Liebster Award

To be perfectly honest with you, I had never heard of the Liebster Award until I was nominated for it, but once I knew what it was all about, I definitely coveted it!  It's an award for new bloggers with under 200 followers, and I was very proud to receive the nomination from Sue of A Colourful Canvas. Make sure you pop by to say hello to her!

First I have to answer the 11 questions that Sue set for me, then add 11 random facts about myself and finally I have to make my own nominations, setting 11 different questions for my nominees.

Sue's 11 Questions for me:
  1.  Katharine Hepburn or Audrey Hepburn?  A tricky one for me as they are both actresses that I admire and they have starred in some of my favourite films.  As I have always been a bit of a tomboy, Katharine Hepburn's style is probably closest to mine, though sadly I don't have her tall, slender elegance and at times she seems a bit intimidating.  When I was younger, I wanted to be like Audrey Hepburn as she appeared in films such as Breakfast at Tiffany's and Sabrina, and she seems more fun - so I guess Audrey has the edge.
  2.  Summer at the beach or winter on the slopes?  Neither, as I would prefer winter at the beach or summer in the mountains although I have a slight preference for the mountains.  My answer therefore has to be summer on the slopes.
  3.  If you could be any character from a Disney movie, who would you be? Snow White, as it would be great to have seven men running around after me - plus the opportunity to look tall in comparison!
  4.  What is your perfect Sunday afternoon?  A walk in the countryside with my husband John and our dog Lisa on a sunny, but not too hot, afternoon.
  5.  Chocolate or Lemon?  Another tricky one as I love both flavours - can I choose dark chocolates with lemon centres? Or lemon mousse with dark chocolate grated on top?
  6.  Are you content to sit in traffic, or do you feel compelled to find a jam-free route? I don't drive, however I don't like being stuck in traffic so I would ask whoever was driving me to find a jam-free route. Quickly.
  7.  Would you rather read a book or watch a movie?  I would rather read a book, though I do enjoy watching films.  I like the fact that I can pick up a book when I want and put it down again to finish at another time, though if it's a really good story I often read it in one go.
  8.  If you could travel back in time, what era would you choose? Yhe Regency period, as I have always enjoyed reading books about that period so it would be interesting to see how accurate they were. I think I would choose Brighton as the place to visit and enjoy seeing it in its hey-day.
  9.  What did you have for lunch today?  As it was Easter Sunday (when I wrote this), we met some friends in a local bar for lunch. We had a selection of cold and hot tapas including gambas, calamares, sepia and mushrooms, followed by different main courses, in my case swordfish with grilled vegetables, and I had a coffee flan for dessert. All washed down with an excellent local red wine.  Today (the day I am publishing this) I had green pepper tortilla, washed down with herbal tea, followed by a banana.
  10.  What is your idea of a perfect picnic?  Food choices and location please?  Somewhere in France, maybe on the bank of the river Seine. I would have a goat's cheese salad, grilled prawns and vegetables, crème brulée, fresh strawberries and champagne. With dark chocolate truffles to finish.
  11.  If you went on a trip and had to utilize three different methods of transportation, which three  would you choose? A boat along a river (so it's not too rough, as I'm a fair weather sailor!), a horse (as I loved horse riding when I was a child, though it's a long while since I've ridden one) and a train, preferably the Orient Express.  

11 Random Facts about me

1.  I lived in Canada for three years as a child, them moved back to the UK when I was almost five.  I joined the WRNS when I left school as I wanted to travel. I was stationed in Northern Ireland and Gibraltar, where I first visited Spain and loved it. It's hardly surprising therefore that I decided to move to Spain when I retired.

2. Talking of travel, I have flown around the world twice, visiting Los Angeles, Hawaii, Auckland, Brisbane, Dunedin, Queenstown and Christchurch on my first trip.  Second time round we stopped in Singapore, then Auckland and Brisbane again, after which we visited Sydney, Wellington, Nelson, Cook Islands and San Francisco.

3.  I don't like tomatoes.  This made life a bit tricky when I was a vegetarian as it's hard enough finding vegetarian meals when you eat out, but almost impossible to find one without tomatoes.

4.  I have completed two marathons: the London Marathon and the Seven Sisters Marathon, which is mainly off-road with lots of hills.  After that, I decided to give up running marathons and concentrate on shorter distances including 100m and 200m sprints.  I last competed in track and field events 5 years ago at the age of 60, running 200m as well as throwing the hammer and doing the long jump.

5.  I am a complementary therapist with qualifications in Reflexology, Indian Head Massage, On-site Massage and the Bowen Technique.

6.  I enjoy dancing, though when they were younger my children described my style of dancing as embarrassing.  I am now learning Sevillanas with my friend Juana María.  Sometimes we do more laughing than dancing!

7.  I learnt French at school, as did my husband John, however we decided to move to Spain in spite of our limited knowledge of Spanish.

8.  I like challenges (see 7. above) so I am currently taking part in a Blog Challenge as well as the April Style Challenge.

9.  My scariest moment was when I was working in Gibraltar and I went to Morocco for the weekend in a small converted fishing vessel.  On the way back, the engine cut out and the ship-shore radio also failed, so there we were at the mercy of the sea, getting soaked as huge waves crashed over the bow of the boat. Eventually,  much to my relief, the sailors fixed the engine enough to get us safely back to dry land.

10.  Neither of us drives, as living in London we didn't need to drive. Obviously it would be useful now, but we live on the edge of town so we can walk to the shops and the bus station.  Anyway, we both enjoy travelling by train and the local bus takes us to Murcia where we can catch the train.

11.  Although I had several articles and short stories published when I was younger, I was very excited when I had my first book published, at the age of 61. It is called "Retiring the Olé Way", so you can guess what it is about!
My Nominees:

1.  Jacqui was a contributor to my book and is a keen blogger.  We haven't met yet, but I think of her as a friend and, who knows, maybe one day we'll meet! So why don't you make yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy having a chat with her?  http://acoffeeandachat.blogspot.com/

2.  I am honoured to say that Callie is a good friend of mine and one of the most inspiring women I know.  She invites you to have a cup of tea, while you enjoy her blog at  http://createavity.com/.
(I think I should add another question: 12. Coffee or tea?)

3.  Meagan is someone I "met" through the Dressing Your Truth community.  She is an American blogger who is very creative: I loved the posts she wrote about the four different types within DYT and the way she interpreted them. Do have a look at her blog: radiantandrandom.blogspot.com

4. Madelaine is another member of the DYT community, who lives in Australia. I love reading about her DIY projects and refashioning ideas - if only I was more creative! http://bitsquareblog.blogspot.com.au/

5. Anne Friston is a blogger, though she has only been blogging since March. She also has M.E.  Are these two facts connected?  Well she mentions the M.E. on her blog but, like my dear friend Callie, she has a positive attitude.  I am enjoying her posts and I like her light, natural style.  I'm sure you will too!  http://annefriston.wordpress.com/

6.  Are you addicted to self-help books like me?  Then you will enjoy Maureen's enlightening blog: http://theyearofme.me/.  Follow her journey starting in January this year and ending, presumably, in December.

7. I  have taken the liberty of adding Juhli who, like me, is an "Early Boomer".  I know she is off-line at the moment so I can't ask her permission, however it's worth having a look at her blog if only to read her "Suggestions for Aging Well" and her 13 "Happiness Commandments". Hope you don't mind, Juhli! http://boomergirlsguide.blogspot.com.es/

11 Questions for my Nominees:

1.  What has been the proudest moment in your life so far?

2.  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose to live and why?

3. Who is your inspiration?

4.  Classical music or rock 'n' roll?

5.  What is your favourite meal?

6.  What is the first thing that you do in the morning?

7.  If you could be somebody else, who would you like to be?

8.  What do you do to keep fit?

9.  If you had a magic lamp, what would you wish for?

10. Is there one thing about yourself that you would like to change or are you totally comfortable with the way you are?

11. What is your favourite colour, and why?

Please visit the blogs of the nominees and leave a comment. I'm sure that you will enjoy reading their blogs as much as I do!

April Style Challenge - Senior Moment!

There's only one problem with being an over 60 blogger: sometimes we suffer from Senior Moments! It's been challenging enough having to take photos with my mobile phone, due to my camera having been sent off for the lens to be fixed.  But then we met friends for a Spanish-British intercambio on Saturday and somehow (don't ask me!) I left my mobile phone behind.  With photos of me - complete with my accessories  - ready to upload for this post. Doh!

One accessory I have already shown before on this blog, and that is my gold bracelet:

Looking again at this outfit, there were a lot of different accessories, apart from the bracelet.  You can see a necklace, which matches the coral cardigan, plus a green ring and (though not shown here) I also had a green watch. Isn't there a saying that less is more?  In my case, more was more - I think I got slightly carried away here!

In the photo that I can't show you: I wore the bracelet with a purple top this time and a simple gold necklace that didn't distract attention from the bracelet.  I like to think it was a more elegant look, but unfortunately I can't post it for you to agree. I just hope that you have a vivid imagination!

I mentioned my green watch above.  I like watches as they can add a subtle touch of colour to any outfit. I also wore a pale lilac watch with the purple top - though I can't remember whether it can be seen in the photo (short-term memory problems!). Most of my watches are inexpensive.  I recently bought a Spanish magazine for 4.95€, which included a white watch and a perfume sample.  The lilac watch was even cheaper, as it came with a different Spanish magazine that cost me the princely sum of 2€!  I like having a selection of coloured watches to brighten up my basic outfits.

So if you are getting slightly bored with some of your outfits, it doesn't cost a lot to rejuvenate them with accessories. Whether you choose scarves, necklaces, bracelets, watches, bags or shoes is up to personal preference. What is your favourite accessory - and why?

PS If the photo looks ok when uploaded, I will add it to the end of this post and republish.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Spring and Summer Fashion Trends

I thought this was an appropriate time to look at Spring and Summer fashion trends.  After all it's Spring, isn't it? Last weekend we put our clocks forward for Summer Time both here in Spain and also in the UK. I will pause for a moment to look out of the window at the black rain clouds and no doubt UK readers who have been enjoying/complaining about the recent snow will give a hollow laugh.  Still, it's good to look forward to the forthcoming lovely Spring and Summer weather.

Here are some of the Spring-Summer 2013 fashion trends that I have noticed in fashion magazines and also on the internet.  I won't be embracing them all because, frankly, many of them are inadvisable for those of us who are over 60. Also - to be totally honest - many over 50s and even over 40s should take care!

1.  Monochrome

Black and white checks, the bigger and bolder the better, are the first trend.  I will be giving this a miss as it will be too harsh for me and, being petite, big and bold isn't a good look either.  However for larger ladies who look good in black (please be honest with yourself as most women of a certain age don't look good in black), this is a trend that you may want to embrace.
Topshop trousers, as seen on the Telegraph website

2.  60s look

OK.  The general rule is that, if you remember the trend from the first time, then you should ignore it the second time round, as frankly you are too old to carry it off. I am a believer that rules are there to be broken, but short shift dresses are definitely better left for the young. The young in heart and slim over 60 woman may get away with a nod to the trend, but remember that mini skirts and dresses are designed with younger women in mind.

3.  Bomber jackets

Many of us can get away with wearing bomber jackets, so long as they suit our figures.  Be honest with yourself when you try one one. If the jacket ends at your widest point, you might be wise to put it back. It's a good casual look though and if you choose flattering colours it can work for over 60s.  I like the look of this jacket, which is ideal for Spring:

4.  White (especially oversized white shirts and tuxedo jackets)

Please don't wear an oversized white shirt with loose bermudas (another trend apparently), but if you look good in white, and your lifestyle means you won't get it grubby too quickly, then this trend may be a good one for you.  White is far more flattering than black for mature skins. If you want a trendy colour, choose white rather than on-trend neons. I have a white jacket that I love, and I will probably wear it on cooler days, possibly with my striped dress. Which leads me neatly to another trend:

5.  Stripes.

I don't think stripes ever go out of fashion, but stripes were very much in evidence on the catwalks this time.  Horizontal stripes, vertical stripes and diagonal stripes: take your pick, but choose the stripes that flatter you the most.
White jacket - tick.  Stripes - tick.

6.  Lady-like handbags and low-heeled shoes

The fashion gods were obviously smiling down on women of a certain age when these trends were dreamt up!  Search in your wardrobe and you are bound to have at least one handbag that could fit this trend, but take care.  At our age it is only too easy to look old-fashioned rather than trendy: I don't think we are talking Margaret Thatcher bags here.  If you have the money you could buy a bag like this one, but at £1295 it would use up all of my clothing budget for many years!
Anya Hindmarsh bag
Low-heeled shoes - did I imagine this one? Are we really going to be able to buy fashionable but comfortable shoes, instead of having to choose between ridiculously high heels and boring flats?  I think I must be dreaming!