Monday, 16 September 2019

My travel capsule

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

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

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


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

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




Thursday, 29 August 2019

Over here - then over there!

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

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

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

One of the many floats, waiting to set off.

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


Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Seasonal colours



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

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

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


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


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


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

Monday, 3 June 2019

21 Steps to a More Stylish You: conclusion

This has been a long journey and, to be quite honest with you, it's not really over yet. The course was very intense and, even though I completed it last month, I feel that I need to revisit a couple of the many steps as there was so much information to absorb. I have to smile when I remember the days when we thought that the only secret to style was learning which colours suited us. Apart from the fact that we've moved on from 4 seasons to 18 colour groups (at the last time of looking), we also consider body shape, colour and value contrast, lifestyle, style personality and many other factors. Putting all this into practice isn't easy. If you'd like to find out more, take a look at Sylvia's blog 40+ Style by clicking on this link.

Since my last post, I've had a trip to Paris and London, where I was able to trial some of the spring outfits in my travel capsule. My aim is to gradually introduce more neutrals, while still indulging in my love of colour. This was the capsule for my trip.

Beige trousers and shoes
Navy trousers, jeans and accessories
As you can see above, I chose neutral trousers and accessories as the basis for my capsule, but you will spot that I also added splashes of colour, including red shoes and a bag that smartened up my outfits in the evening.

Below are the other tops that I packed in my case. Originally I had planned to take just lightweight short-sleeved tops, but a quick check of the weather forecast the day before my holiday meant that I decided to swap some of them for heavier long-sleeved tops. 


Layering also helps when you're travelling and the weather is changeable. Of course I packed my trusty umbrella plus I wore a long cardigan and carried my copper trench-coat onto the plane, as I had decided not to take a large suitcase. Trust me, I was grateful for that trench-coat in Paris as it rained on several days. The best day weather-wise was when my friend Sandra and I visited Versailles, but I still decided to wear it and the umbrella was in my bag!

Enjoying the sunshine in Versailles
You may have noticed the scarf I'm wearing in the above photo, which I purchased in the Marché Vernaison flea market in Paris. I had taken a couple of scarves plus some jewellery, which luckily could be tucked inside the bag that I packed, however I thought this one went really well with my outfit so I couldn't resist it.

As stated above I took a smaller case, plus a rucksack, even though I was away for two weeks. I just didn't fancy trying to negotiate all the steps in the Metro stations with a large case! I used packing cubes, and rolled my clothes before fitting them into the cubes, which really helped me pack more. I now have to confess that I had deliberately only packed 11 tops for my 14 day holiday: I was wearing one for travelling of course, but I also bought two new ones while I was in Paris!

Since I returned from my trip I've been sorting out my summer wardrobe, which is still in progress. Some of the tops shown above will be included, plus my latest purchases. All will be revealed in my next post, but it's definitely going to include a lot of colour!


Friday, 12 April 2019

21 Steps to a More Stylish You

Regular readers will know how much I enjoy doing style courses in the hope that one day I will become super stylish! My latest attempt has been the most intensive yet, as it contains 21 steps. At the time of writing I'm on step 15: prints and texture.

The topics covered so far include style personality, lifestyle and age, colour, levels of refinement, style goals, the golden ratio and the ideal silhouette. The on-line course is being run by Sylvia of 40+ Style along with Ruth, who is a UK based stylist. If you click on the link you will find many helpful articles as well as information about joining the Style Club.

Most of us know about colour analysis and have some idea whether we have warm or cool, soft or bright and deep or light colouring. Or do we? Having been told in the past that I was a Winter, more recently the consensus has been that I have warm colouring! I won't mention the make-up consultation that I had on a recent trip to London though, where I was told that I have cool colouring....! Putting that on one side (I'm guessing that I'm a border-line case) my lifestyle is clear, as is my age and body shape. My style personality when I did a style analysis was Natural Gamine, and my own interpretation is colourful casual chic. I think the photo below sums me up well: definitely colourful, obviously casual and hopefully chic.


My lifestyle is very casual as I'm retired, plus I spend a lot of time walking my dog Lisa, going to exercise classes and sitting at my PC writing blog posts, as well as reading other blogs. I do go to the theatre sometimes, as well as dining out with friends, so occasionally I dress up a bit more. I found the step on levels of refinement very helpful, as it described the types of clothes that fit into the five levels. Most of my wardrobe is level two (very casual or sports clothing) and level three (casual or smart casual), with a smattering of level four (very smart daywear or evening wear). 

Another helpful topic was the golden ratio, which is particularly relevant to those of us who are vertically challenged! Even when I buy petite tops, I have to take care that they don't cut me in half, giving me a 50-50 ratio, which can make me look wider and shorter. I often resort to wearing long cardigans or waistcoats (vests) to give me a more flattering silhouette.

Image may contain: Sue Walker, smiling, standing, shoes and indoor

The above photo highlights the use of a longer cardigan, plus a column of colour, to create a more flattering shape. I am also using a touch of my favourite red in the scarf plus my bag.

I am in the process of going through my spring and summer wardrobe and already it has become apparent that I have lots of colourful tops and mainly neutral trousers. Not exactly a surprise to those who know me. At the same time, I will be going back to step 13 (closet edit) and step 14 (what's missing?).  All of this has to be completed over the next few weeks, ready for a trip to Paris and London at the beginning of May, with the aim of blending in with all those super stylish Parisians and Londoners!

Monday, 21 January 2019

Blue Monday? No way!

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and water

I've been considering writing a post about my Word of the Year, however I have been distracted by all the on-line comments about Blue Monday! Apparently today is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year, however I for one have had an enjoyable day. What about you? Do you have anything to be seriously depressed about? Me neither.

Today has admittedly been very cold, but I am lucky enough to live in a modern apartment and, although I don't have central heating, I have electric fires that heat my home very efficiently. I also have plenty of food in the fridge so I won't go hungry and enough money to go shopping when supplies get low. This morning I took my dog Lisa to one of my local cafés for coffee and a croissant, which only cost me 2 euros, and we were able to sit outside in the sun (and sheltered from the cold wind.)

I am fortunate that I don't have any health problems at the moment - I do hope that I'm not tempting fate! - so I am able to enjoy a fairly active lifestyle. This morning I went to a dance exercise class near my house and this evening I enjoyed a Flamenco style class at a different dance studio. Apart from going for a coffee this morning with Lisa, I have obviously had to walk her several times over the course of the day. Each time I was well wrapped up, particularly for the early and late walks of the day. I am lucky to have her company in the house, which stops me feeling lonely. I am fortunate in having many good friends too, both here in Spain and also in the UK and other parts of the world.

Regular readers of this blog know that my 2018 wasn't the best of years (in fact you could say it was my annus horribilis), however there were many good moments too, including a very special wedding in Florence, birthday celebrations with my family in London and a lovely holiday with my daughters in Ljubljana.

I am determined that 2019 will be my annus mirabilis, which is why I wasn't going to allow a Blue Monday to spoil it. I'm a great believer in positive thinking and take the view that if you have negative thoughts you are more likely to have negative experiences in life. Think positive and the chances are that you will have a more positive life.

So what is my Word of the Year going to be? If you haven't already guessed, it is Positive. I have already outlined above some of the many reasons I have for being positive. My next trip to the UK will be in March, when I will be attending a friend's 75th birthday party as well as being spoilt by my three children on Mother's Day (in the UK it will be on Sunday March 31st). I also have another exciting holiday planned: I will be meeting a friend, who now lives in Australia, in Paris in early May. I can't wait! The picture above is from a trip to Paris in 2012, just to whet my appetite.

I'm hoping that as 2019 unfolds there will be other positive experiences, and my wish is for all of you to have a positive year as well. In case you are wondering about New Year's resolutions by the way, I have only made one: to stay positive throughout the year.