Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Contrasting views

It all seemed very straightforward: I knew my body shape (rectangular or H), my face shape (oblong), my features (a combination of round and angular) and I was waiting for my colour swatch to arrive so my colours could be sorted. I understood what shapes suit my rectangular body, how to create a column of colour to make me look taller (always a bonus!) and what necklines flatter me. Once I had my colour swatch, I would be ready to shop.  Imogen's 7 Steps to Style course had taught me so much and soon I would be as stylish as all the other bloggers out there!

I was feeling very confident - perhaps a little over confident? - until the words "value contrast" and "colour contrast" came into the equation.  What did this mean?  As Imogen had promised to write a blog post on the subject and was looking for volunteers, I sent her a photo as soon as I read the request.  Here it is:

I was delighted when I saw that I had been included as I knew this would help me progress even more. Imogen said that I am high value contrast but low colour contrast. I have dark hair and eyes, however my skin is fair making the value contrast high. On the other hand there is no obvious colour in my face as my hair, eyes and skin are all neutral, which is why my colour contrast is low.

If you click on this link you can look at the other volunteers, who have different levels of value contrast and colour contrast, plus outfits that Imogen has suggested would suit us all. I think Imogen explains the concept very well and I agree with how she defines my contrast levels.  Now comes the tricky bit! When I'm putting together an outfit and I know that the colours and designs all suit me, I also need to take value and colour contrasts into consideration. In my case I will look my best if I wear either a monochromatic colour scheme or dress head to toe in neutrals, both in a high value contrast. I will also look my best if I wear more dark colours than light ones, just using small amounts of light colours to add the contrast.

This is the outfit that Imogen suggested for me:

I love that outfit, however I won't be making any purchases until I receive my colour swatch and have confirmed that the colours suit me. In the meantime, I am using my current wardrobe to try and work out suitable combinations. I may treat myself to some new additions once I have identified which colours work best for me, but the looks below will have to do for now!

This was yesterday's outfit. The trousers are a bit too loose though the colour seemed right.  Once I have the swatch, if the trousers look good with it, I'll be taking them to be tailored so they fit better. When I went out I wore a much lighter blue scarf, which provided a better contrast than the necklace I'm wearing in the above photo.

Today's outfit seemed to meet the criteria a lot better. The colour of my top blended well with the colour card and I think the white stripes help with the value contrast, so this is a definite keeper. I posted this photo on the "7 Steps to Style" facebook page and it met with general approval, so I'm confident that I'm going in the right direction.

It is often said that the most stylish women make it all look effortless, but trust me behind the scenes there's a lot of hard work involved.  Having said that, it's also great fun. For all you over 60 women out there, I hope that you will start creating new and more flattering outfits with your own clothes. With Christmas coming up, what better time to add some style and colour to your wardrobe?

Monday, 10 November 2014

Style - the whole package

I enjoyed taking part in the different challenges during Imogen's Evolve Your Style 31 day style challenge and in particular I enjoyed being a member of the closed group on facebook. I was inspired by the other participants, many of whom were incredibly stylish and creative, and I appreciated their positive feedback on some of my more successful outfits! It was interesting to find out which of my outfits worked, which needed a bit more working on and which were destined for the recycling bins.

I then took the big decision to enrol on another of Imogen's programmes: 7 Steps to Style. For any of you who have always wanted a colour and style consultation but don't have any image consultants living near you, this is a very good alternative. If your budget won't stretch that far (and I do think it's incredibly good value for the amount of advice Imogen gives you) then I would suggest going through the different categories on her blog: Inside Out StyleShe helps you to identify your face shape, body shape, colouring, personality and the many other aspects of developing your overall style personality. Imogen also gives lots of good examples of clothes and colours to suit your body shape, colouring etc.

As I've mentioned before, there are inevitably a few limitations to how you can express your style personality. If you are rebellious but happen to work in a very traditional working environment, you may have to rein in your rebellious streak until you get home. I'm short, so I know that dramatic clothes will tend to overwhelm me, but I also know that I can add a few dramatic touches via my accessories. 

I'm still working through the 7 steps to style and at the moment I'm stuck on colour. What's interesting is that when I did my colour analysis last year I was definitely cool rather than warm i.e. a jewel winter.  However at the moment there seems to be uncertainty within the group about whether my colouring is cool or warm so Imogen is sending me a set of colour cards that we're hoping will make it clear. Watch this space!

One of the exercises is to define your style personality and I discovered that I was a mixture of several styles, though my main personality traits are relaxed. I do like many elements from the other styles, such as dramatic colours, creative jewellery and elegant chic textures. The style statement that I eventually decided upon, with the help of others in the group (especially Juhli!), is: Casual Chic with a dash of Colour and Drama.

Does this outfit tie in with my style statement?
The outfit shown above is definitely casual and I'd like to think it is chic as well. The bright pink colour adds a touch of drama as well as colour to my outfit. Although they're not very clear in the photo, my toe nails are dark blue to match my necklace and bag.  The length of the top and trousers aren't ideal as they split my figure in half, however the white sandals help to compensate for that as they draw the eyes down. This may not be a particularly stylish outfit in the eyes of the fashion world, but this is me wearing clothes that I feel comfortable in and that I feel express my personality.

When I went for a style consultation earlier in the year, Fiona and I agreed that I was a Natural Gamine. I have created a board on Pinterest reflecting this, however I now feel that there are other elements to add in as a result of embarking on the 7 Steps to Style. So far as my personal style is concerned, I believe that I now have the whole package. Once I have finished this new journey in style, I will post an update on here.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Fashion, Style and Elegance in Women Over 60

If you think that this sounds like a good name for a book, then you're quite right.  I've just read the e-book with that title, written by Patrizia Molechino, and found it refreshingly different. Unlike many style books it doesn't give you just one way to dress stylishly: you know, that list of 10 or 12 essential items including the infamous LBD, which to be honest is too harsh a look for many older women. Instead Patrizia encourages you to express your own individuality.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm not exactly elegant or indeed fashionable, though I do have my own style that can loosely be described as casual chic - with the emphasis on the word casual! I am a woman over 60 though, so I decided to take a look at Patrizia´s book in the interests of research for my blog.  Patrizia's aim is to give more exposure to a large selection of the female population that has been somewhat neglected by fashion and the media in general: yep, that's you and me.

To begin with, the purpose of this book is not to make you look younger (hurrah!) but to help you make the best of yourself. Women with a strong sense of style have never cared about a few wrinkles anyway and have first and foremost always been themselves - think of Diana Vreeland, Anna Piaggi and the amazing ladies of "Advanced Style". However, much as I admire them, my goal isn't to look as fabulous as they do, turning heads whenever I go out. I would just like to be a more stylish and elegant version of myself.

Most of the women in this book aren't famous, which is fine as most of us aren't famous either. They are portrayed as an example of how to achieve looks and styles suited to your own personality. One of the women in the book is tall, slim and blonde - stunningly classy - and as I am short, not-so-slim with dark hair, clearly she isn't the obvious role model for me! I liked the photo of Carlotta with her poodles (the dogs look as elegant as she does) but C├ęcile and her dog both looked more casual, so obviously I identified more with her style.

Pages from the book
What image do you want to present? As you look through this book, you should consider the different looks as guidelines to inspire you to be yourself, though hopefully a far more stylish version. There are even suggestions on clothes that you can wear to achieve a certain look, with links if you decide to purchase any items - not that I want to encourage you to add to your wardrobe! As an aside, the challenges in Evolve Your Style suggest shopping your own wardrobe rather than rushing out to buy new clothes, so if you have been doing EYS you should have a good idea of how to make the most of your existing wardrobe.

Patrizia is planning to update this book with more examples of over 60 women who have developed their own style. Keep it quiet for the moment, but I may be making an appearance in the next edition! Why don't you submit your own photo and biography and join me there?

Take a look at Patrizia's blog for more details about her book: Patrizia Molechino.360° Fashion. I'm sure this guide to the style and elegance of women in their later years will inspire you just as much as it inspired me. As I state in the side-bar, we may be over 60 but we're definitely not past it!  Even if you are under 60 - and I know some of my readers are - I think you would enjoy reading Patrizia's book and seeing how women of a certain age enjoy expressing their individuality through what they wear.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Evolve Your Style - final part

Have any of you joined in the Evolve Your Style challenge, either by joining the facebook group or by following via my blog? I've just finished and will miss the daily challenges, although Imogen has given us a sheet of additional ones to complete in our own time. I will certainly do them, if only to make getting dressed in the morning a bit more interesting!

Day 25: wear a gift (one you don't wear much).  Day 26: wear green.
Day 27: wear a print (not your favourite one though!)  Day 28: wear feature earrings.

Wearing green
I like the cardigan and the green top on me, however the Evolve Your Style group felt that the cardigan didn't look quite right over this particular top. They suggested either a navy cardigan or a different top under the grey cardigan.

Wearing a gift
This combination wasn't quite right either and some people thought the shirt wore me. Suggestions included wearing the shirt without the cardigan, using it over a plain tank-top as a jacket, wearing a more structured jacket or vest over the shirt. I'll have to try these out to see whether they work!

Day 29: wear a hero piece.  Day 30: wear two parts of a triad.
Day 31: wear neutrals.  Bonus day: wear something old and something new.

Wearing my hero piece - the jacket
Wearing two parts of a triad (purple and green)

Wear neutrals
I received some very positive comments on the last three outfits. The neutral outfit surprised me as I thought it lacked a touch of colour, but it was voted a winner just as it is. Maybe adding more neutrals to my wardrobe isn't such a bad idea after all!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Autumn 33

It's autumn (aka fall!) and for most of us in the northern hemisphere it's time to put away our summer clothes and bring out our cold weather items. Two years ago I decided to start doing Project 333 while I was sorting out my clothes for the colder weather, and it has proved eye-opening in many ways. I learnt to discard clothes that didn't fit me, didn't look good on me or were unsuitable for my lifestyle now that I have retired. I ended up with just 33 items of clothing to last me for the next 3 months and have to confess that at first it seemed very daunting.

After my first attempt I decided to bend the rules and exclude shoes, handbags and accessories, but the beauty of Project 333 is that even if you don't stick strictly to the guidelines you will still be learning to live with less.

So, better late than never, here is my Autumn 33. Most people started their Autumn 33 on October 1st, however it was still warm enough in Spain for me to continue wearing items from my summer 33, although I did bring out some autumn clothes for my trips to the UK. Now it is definitely autumnal, so I've cleared out the wardrobe for my Autumn 33.

Autumn outerwear
I haven't included a winter coat as, hopefully, it won't be needed until winter arrives. Anyway the navy trench-coat should be enough over a jacket or cardigan if it does turn very chilly.

Jeans and trousers
I know the bright pink jeans are - to be frank -  a bit bright, but they cheer me up when the weather is particularly dismal. Since I have introduced more neutrals into my wardrobe, I do have a few more tops that I can wear with them. The navy jeans, grey trousers and black trousers are of course a lot more versatile.
Skirts for autumn - will I wear them?

I have decided to include three skirts even though I wear trousers most of the time. This is because I have had several compliments about my legs, so I bought two pairs of Wolford tights when I was in London (I dare not tell you what they cost!) and I plan to wear skirts far more over the next few months.

Dresses for going out and parties at home
I don't wear dresses very often, but I've already worn the first dress when I went out for dinner in London and we are going out for dinner on Sunday so I plan to wear it again. If it's a bit warmer I may wear the polka dot dress instead, which I also plan to wear for any parties at home. My reasoning is that, by including three dresses in my Autumn 33, I will have to find occasions to wear them!  I'm hoping that we will have several events over the Christmas holidays but, if I find that I'm not wearing all of these dresses, I may replace one of them with another pair of trousers.

A dozen tops, with seven different bottoms, gives lots of possibilities. Admittedly not every top will go with the bright pink jeans and the cranberry skirt, however if you multiply the twelve tops by five, that still gives me at least sixty different outfits. I've shown two short-sleeved tops in case we have the occasional sunny day - they can also be worn with one of the seven cardigans shown below or either of the two jackets. No doubt you have cottoned on to the fact that the cardigans give me even more permutations, so if I want to I'll be able to wear a different outfit every day over the next three months.

I know that when I first started doing Project 333 I wondered if I would become bored with a more limited wardrobe, but I'm finding it becomes easier each season, possibly because I am making sure that any new purchases will work with my existing clothes. Removing clothes that I am no longer wearing, and storing out of season clothes, is also a great help. I can now see what's actually hanging up in my wardrobe!

Updated on Sunday 19 October

I wrote this post on Wednesday, when I planned to remove my summer clothes and hang the clothes shown above in my wardrobe. These clothes are still lying on the bed in our spare room as it has been very warm over the last couple of days.  Today I am wearing a short-sleeved top and cropped linen trousers - so I'll post this now in the hope that it will turn a bit cooler and I can start the changeover!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Evolve Your Style - part 2

Two recent trips to the UK - one planned and one unexpected - have meant that I'm a bit behind in the Evolve Your Style challenge.  If you've decided to join me in it, apologies for the delay. Here are the next 10 challenges, with a few photos of my own outfits to inspire you (or not!)

Day 15: Wear a hat.  Day 16: Wear an everyday outfit
Day 17: Wear complementary colours.  Day 18: Wear new eyeshadow colours or lipstick shade

Wear a hat

Wear an everyday outfit

I have to confess that the two photos above were cheating, as they weren't taken on the actual days that I did the challenge. The photo of my hat was taken in Madrid and the everyday outfit was from the final day of our holiday last month, The lack of photos was due to a technical problem (I'd left my camera in a friend's car!) however I made sure that I wore these outfits on the relevant days.

Day 19: Wear red.  Day 20: Stack on the rings.
Day 21: Jeans and a jacket.  Day 22; Wear flowers.

Jeans and a jacket
Wear flowers

Day 23: Style a skirt.  Day 24: Wear a feature belt.

Style a skirt

Wear a feature belt
I've had some very constructive criticism from the Evolve Your Style facebook group. One person commented that the skirt would have looked better if the top had been a bit shorter and I have to agree with her. Not everyone liked the pearls, especially with the belt I was wearing: some people thought they would look good with a plain belt whereas others liked the belt but thought a metallic necklace would have been better with it. This was the outfit I wore in London for a family night out, though I wore a gold watch instead of the black one, plus higher heels. Also I had to leave one accessory - the lovely Lisa - behind with my husband.

Now it's your turn for some constructive criticism on the above outfits!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Packing for autumn in London

The plan for this trip was to travel hand luggage only on the flight to London, but put my case in the hold on the flight back. This was so I could add items of make-up that I planned to buy, plus presents of some skin-care products from my daughter, which obviously wouldn't be allowed in hand luggage. Did I also mention that I was planning to buy a couple of items of clothing, so I had a canvas bag for my hand luggage on the return flight to accommodate the extra items?

These were the clothes that I packed for my trip.

I wore the patterned trousers, a blue top and some casual black shoes for travelling from Spain, where it is still quite warm, and I carried a navy trench-coat to wear on arrival in London. The jacket was useful as an extra layer under my trench-coat on cooler days, though there were a couple of days when I ended up carrying the trench-coat as it was unseasonally warm (I'm not complaining!)

On the right of the above picture you can see four other tops plus a camisole and on the left there is a pair of grey trousers and my black jeans as well as the patterned trousers I wore to travel in.

Not shown in the photo above is the dress and pair of heels that I wore for a family night out: dining in Brasserie Zedel followed by a show in The Crazy Coqs starring the amazing Marilyn Maye. I also packed underwear, socks and nightwear, plus jewellery, a couple of scarves and black walking shoes. Needless to say an umbrella had also been packed, which was required on a couple of days.

These are my new purchases, which worked well with the clothes I took with me and which will also fit into my autumn/winter wardrobe. Those of you who have been following my blog for a while will know that I am gradually building a more cohesive, versatile wardrobe - especially when compared with the rainbow-hued assortment of clothes from two years ago. Next week I hope to work out my Autumn 33, which will involve me selecting 33 items of clothing to wear over the next 3 months, as part of Project 333.  I will have to be tough with myself and throw out at least four items to make way for my new purchases!



I had a bit of a scare on my return to Alicante airport: when I spotted my case on the conveyor belt, it was unzipped! I usually pack the smaller items - such as my camera, toiletries, underwear, shoes and scarves - in the bottom of the case and put my clothes in plastic carrier bags above them. I knew I had a bag containing trousers, another one with my dress in and two with the tops that I had worn. A quick glance confirmed that everything seemed to be there, but I still sat in the car worrying all the way home. Two days later and I am pretty confident that nothing went missing, but it does make me determined to fly hand luggage only in future!