Sunday, 21 September 2014

French dressing

Like many bloggers, I do love a good pun, so what does French dressing mean to you? Something you put on your salads - or the way that French people dress? After my recent birthday holiday in France, I guess that this post could refer to either.

First of all salads, preferably with home-made French dressing rather than shop-bought mayonnaise, can be delicious if you use your imagination when creating them. Don't worry, I haven't suddenly turned into a cookery blogger. I'm just saying. One of the important things I noticed in France though was that, as well as seeing lots of interesting, tempting salads on the menus, the portion sizes were quite small. Is this the reason why French women don't get fat? Having read several books about this phenomenon, including the best-seller by Mireille Guiliano, I've realised that the common factor does seem to be portion control. You can drink wine and eats lots of delicious cheeses and even chocolate, but moderation is the key.

Back to fashion and my observations on the way that French women dressed in Toulouse and Bordeaux, assuming of course that the majority of the women I saw were French! I was a bit surprised at the lack of colour in French women's (and men's) outfits.  Yes I was visiting cities rather than coastal resorts but, although this was towards the end of summer, we had lots of sunshine and warm weather and we are after all talking about the south of France, not the northern city of Paris. Neutrals obviously rule in France - unless anyone has experiences elsewhere in France to say differently?

I can't recollect seeing any fat French women, although they weren't all skinny by any means. No doubt that was down to healthy eating and portion control, as mentioned earlier. I suspect that the dark neutrals helped a bit in this respect too.

Fashion-wise, I noticed lots of women including "femmes d'un certain âge" wearing skinny jeans plus stylish flats that looked really chic on them. As well as not wearing bright colours, most women seemed to wear a maximum of two different colours.  They also wore few accessories, although the scarf was omnipresent and I regretted not packing one. I felt slightly naked in comparison! The look of the French women that I saw walking about could best be summed up as "chic plus simplicity". The fact that I saw so many French women who were walking everywhere could of course be another clue to why they don't get fat!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Evolve Your Style

I just love a challenge, so when I read about Imogen's latest style challenge, Evolve Your Style,  I didn't hesitate to sign up for it. It costs $5US to take part and you will receive a daily email from Imogen, plus you can join a closed facebook group where you can post photos of your daily outfit for comments and advice from the other participants. They're a lovely, helpful bunch, I can assure you!

I'm not quite half-way (I've received 14 emails so far) and already there are people who are way ahead of me plus a few that have only just started.It's fine to go at your own pace.

These are the challenges so far, with a few of the outfits that I have worn.

Day 1: wear a Statement necklace.  Day 2: wear something you've had for a long time
Day 3: wear a scarf all day.  Day 4: wear something pink.

Wear a scarf all day
Wear something pink

Day 5: wear a dress.  Day 6: sparkle today
Day 7: mix textures.  Day 8: double up on necklaces
Day 9: wear a bold lipstick.  Day 10: wear 2 prints or patterns
Day 11: wear arm candy.  Day 12: change your hair

Double up on necklaces
Day 13: Be blue.  Day 14: wear coloured shoes.

I'll post more of the challenges plus some of the outfits I wore on particular days in a future post.  In the meantime, even if you don't officially join the Evolve your Style group, why not try a few of the challenges yourself?

Monday, 15 September 2014

Share in Style: Skirts or Pants?

I spotted this question on Une Femme's blog and couldn't resist joining in.  I'm sure that any regular readers will know my answer to the question: skirts or trousers? Pants is the American version of trousers by the way, and I used it above to make the title a bit snappier! Yes, my choice is definitely pants, trousers, jeans etc rather than skirts. I occasionally wear a dress and I do have a few skirts in my wardrobe but most times when I open my wardrobe I automatically reach for a pair of trousers.

There are several reasons why I opt for trousers. My style is natural gamine, so I tend to look more like me when I wear pants and jeans. My lifestyle is pretty casual, which again makes them the obvious choice. I am short and I think that wearing trousers gives me a longer leaner line than if I wore a skirt, which is why I will opt for a dress rather than a skirt on smarter occasions, as it has a similar effect.

I took a look at the photos that I've posted on here and, not surprisingly, there were very few of me wearing a skirt, so here's one hot off the press as it was only taken yesterday.

Featuring the lovely Lisa
Here's one that was taken over a year ago, showing how often skirts feature in my daily outfits!

The first thing I noticed was that I appeared slimmer in the more recent photo, in spite of over indulging with delicious food and wine on my recent holiday in France. I think that's because the top is more flattering on me.  I love stripes but vertical stripes (or hoops as my OH insists on calling them!) make me look broader rather than taller, plus I think the contrast between the pale top and darker skirt cuts me in half.

Here I am wearing a bright pink top with black linen trousers  - I'm not sure why my arms are like that! - which I think makes me look taller and slimmer than in the photo above it. Yes, there is still a contrast, but between two darker colours this time.

Finally, in the photo below I'm showing off my recent purchase, the patterned trousers, and trying to look slim with the help of a long scarf. I think I need a professional photographer though, or perhaps I should take more care with my posture, as my top half looks a lot bigger than my bottom half. However in my view this is the most flattering outfit.  I wonder if you will agree!

 What is your verdict? Skirts or trousers?

Monday, 8 September 2014

Time to shop or time to stop?

No doubt you've heard the expression: don't do as I do, do as I SAY! I try to give you good advice on this blog, but that doesn't mean that I'm perfect myself - far from it. The message I hope to get across is that you don't need to constantly buy new clothes, however that doesn't stop me from spending money on my wardrobe, though nowadays I always consider how any new purchases will fit in with my existing items of clothing. Believe me, that is a huge improvement!

Most of the summer sales are over now, so did you manage to resist temptation? I have to confess to a few additions to my wardrobe, but some of them were birthday presents, so they don't count do they? Being petite, I have problems finding clothes that fit me well. I know that I can turn up trouser legs and shorten sleeves, but that doesn't mean that the clothes look as good on me as if I buy from petite ranges, where the proportions are right for shorter women.

We were in Alicante on the first day of our holiday and it was two days' before my birthday, so John persuaded me to look in El Corte Ingles department store, as they stock Jones New York Petite and Zendra Petite ranges. It was the last day of their summer sales and he had no idea what I wanted for my birthday, so it was a desperate ploy! John bought me a striped top (I know I have several already, but not in this colour) and a pair of navy trousers, so he was relieved (especially at sale prices) and I was happy.

Here I am, wearing the new top with black linen trousers, when we went out walking on my birthday.

While walking around Toulouse city centre I spotted Jacqueline Riu, one of my favourite French stores, so we popped in for a quick look (OK, I dragged John in!)  I still wear a red sleeveless top that I bought in one of their Paris stores around 10 years ago, so I know that their clothes are well made and good value.  I found a black and white cropped cardigan, which John insisted on buying as an extra present, because the top and trousers had been such good bargains. The photo below is from their website, but as I'm petite and not a tall, slender model it doesn't look so cropped when I'm wearing it. I must admit that it's very convenient having a birthday just after the summer sales.....!

We also visited Monoprix where I made my final purchases: a blue long-sleeved top (similar to the blues in the Pantone palette below) and a blue and black patterned scarf.

If you didn't buy anything in the sales, are you being tempted by the new clothes arriving in your local shops for autumn and winter? Don't worry - I'm not going to tell you not to shop, however I'm going to advise you to look carefully at your existing wardrobe before making any purchases.

If you have warm deep colouring, autumnal colours in general will flatter you so it's a good time to make additions to your wardrobe. However I have been looking at Pantone's Autumn palette and it appears that those of us who suit cooler shades may find some of the new season's colours are suitable for us, though there are warmer shades there too and even a couple of lighter colours.

So to answer my original question: is it time to shop or time to stop? You are the only one who can answer that question. I've been trying to encourage you to build a capsule wardrobe and only to buy clothes and accessories that fit in with your current wardrobe and that also suit your personality and lifestyle. If any of the new arrivals in your local shops meet those guidelines, then who am I to tell you not to shop?

Friday, 29 August 2014

Packing light for France?

We're starting our holiday tomorrow morning.  We will be spending one night in Alicante before boarding a train to Barcelona, where we will have time for a leisurely lunch before catching the train from Barcelona to Toulouse. The good news is that we are travelling by train so we don't have to worry about the weight of our cases or put all our liquids into a small clear airline-approved bag. There isn't any bad news, except for the fact that the apartment we are renting in Toulouse is on the second floor and there isn't a lift!  Still, weight training is supposed to be good for women of a certain age.

This is my capsule wardrobe for our holiday in France.

As we aren't having to travel with hand luggage only, I decided to indulge myself and so I've included a top for every day of our holiday.  You may have spotted my new patterned trousers, pink short-sleeved shirt and blue camisole, which I will wear for going out in Alicante on our first night. At the top on the right I have shown a striped dress, with a red belt, which I wore in Paris for my 65th birthday. I always feel chic when I wear this dress, so I'm taking it to wear for dinner on my 67th birthday in Toulouse.  I am packing the white pair of trousers and will be wearing the black pair for travelling, with one of the tops and possibly the cascade cardigan.

I am hoping that I won't need to wear the Mango jacket, however it will be colder in the evenings in France, so it's being packed "just in case". Next to the jacket is my navy cascade cardigan, which is lightweight and ideal for slightly cooler days. The white wedge-heeled sandals are comfortable for walking but smart enough for evenings, whereas the grey pair of Decathlon shoes are ideal for walking around town in the day-time when we're doing a lot of sight-seeing. I'm also taking a pair of navy ballet flats and the navy shoulder bag.

As well as the above items I will be packing underwear, nightwear, toiletries, jewellery and other essentials like my tablet and camera.  Plus - don't tell my husband John! - there is still room for any purchases that I may make in France. I have noticed that there is a Monoprix in Toulouse as well as a branch of Longchamp!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Visible Monday - warm-weather layers

I've just spotted an interesting post on Not Dead Yet Style (don't you love the name of her blog?) regarding warm weather layers. I must admit that, during the summer months here in Spain, the idea of wearing layers isn't very tempting, especially during the day-time with temperatures at over 30 degrees centigrade.

However the other evening we were going to be sitting outside one of our favourite restaurants watching the Cabalgata Tradicional (traditional wine procession) in Jumilla, so I decided to wear layers in case it became cooler at midnight! This was my outfit - the photo was taken after we returned home at 00.38.

The top layer was a short-sleeved pink shirt from the Ines de la Fressange collection in Uniqlo, which I spotted on my trip to London in July. Underneath it I am wearing a blue camisole top and the patterned trousers that I bought recently from Kettlewell Colours, ready for my holiday to France next week. You may spot the dark grey wrap tied to my bag, which would have been an additional layer apart from the fact that it wasn't needed. I loved wearing this shirt as it skims over any wobbly bits and, though the angle of the photo doesn't do it justice, I think this is a flattering look for women of a certain age.  This outfit is definitely going to be packed for our trip!

Why not click on the link and have a look at Not Dead Yet Style?  I love Patti's outfit and I also love "Une Femme's", which is where I discovered the link for Visible Monday.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Creating your wardrobe: time to expand

The summer sales are in full swing here in Spain, and I know from the countless emails in my inbox that there are sales in most on-line shops, so no doubt there are sales in your area too.  Before giving into temptation and buying everything that catches your fancy, look at your wardrobe and identify pieces that will go with your neutral and accent colours and add to its versatility.

I've already ordered a couple of pieces from Kettlewell Colours to take on holiday. Kettlewell sell colours for all seasons (I'm a Jewel Winter), so I am confident that any new purchases will go with my existing wardrobe. I've decided to embrace the printed trouser trend (I know, I'm a bit late!) as I'm sure it will put me into the holiday mood.

Assuming that you have a basic wardrobe in your most flattering neutrals with some accent colours, this is a good opportunity to expand it.  Please note that I am not telling you that you have to go on a spending spree, just advising you that,when you buy any new clothes, you should make sure that they help to fill in any gaps.

You can see the individual items shown above in more detail on Polyvore: just click on this link. As you may have noticed, I've added some more accent pieces, including a blue dress and a top that combines the accent colours. Bearing in mind that this wardrobe is intended to cover the whole year, I have included some linen tops, linen trousers and a pair of sandals for the summer months, plus a pair of shorts and trainers/sneakers that are ideal for holidays and weekends. To start with our neutrals were navy and white, but another neutral makes the expanded wardrobe more interesting as well as more versatile, so I have added some grey pieces including a navy and silver striped knit.

Depending on your climate and your individual taste, you might want to add in a winter coat, get rid of the dresses and skirt or replace most of the jackets and cardigans with cotton blouses. What I'm hoping to do is inspire you to look at your own wardrobe more objectively and design one to suit both your personality and your lifestyle. Bearing this in mind, here is my version of an expanded wardrobe for those of you who look better in warmer colours.

Here is the link if you want to see these items in more detail on Polyvore: link. You can even buy some of these clothes on-line, but don't tell anyone that I told you!