Friday, 23 November 2012

A little knowledge.....!

I was inspired to write this post as a result of advice given to my friend Lesley.

Lesley has been in a lot of pain over the last six months, which may be caused by rheumatoid arthritis or polymyalgia rheumatica.  She had an appointment with a rheumatologist today, who has authorised several tests including x-rays and blood tests and who will see Lesley again in four weeks´time.  I am confident that he will find out what her specific problem is (he suspects polymyalgia) and help her deal with it in the most appropriate way.

Lesley has been going to a massage therapist for a while and the massage has certainly helped relieve her symptoms short-term, which is good news.  However she has also been trying to lose weight and her massage therapist advised her to go on the Blood Group Diet.  This is what has caused me concern.

The advice for people with Lesley's blood group O is to eat a high-protein meat-based diet.  However I have read elsewhere on the internet (including an article written by a rheumatologist) that patients with polymyalgia rheumatica should be on a low fat/low red meat diet.    This contradicts the advice given to Lesley that she should be following the diet for blood group O.  I'm not saying that you should believe everything that you read on the internet, but who is more likely to know about the correct diet for someone with Lesley's symptoms? A massage therapist - who may or may not have nutritional  knowledge - or a medical specialist?

As a qualified complementary therapist, I was taught never to give advice outside my areas of expertise.  I wouldn't have advised someone like Lesley to follow a particular diet, apart from saying in general terms to avoid processed foods and to eat a healthy, natural, varied diet.  Obviously people with specific medical problems like diabetics and coeliacs need to avoid particular foods, but they should seek advice from suitably qualified people and not, say, a reflexologist whose only qualification is in reflexology.

I am not on a mission to knock fellow complementary therapists or this particular diet, even though my research has revealed that most medical and nutrition experts state that the theory behind it is nonsense.  It's not the only fashionable diet out there that isn't based on sound nutritional guidelines.

My point here is that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.  Most diets will help someone lose weight, if only because the individual is more aware of how much food they are eating.  Most diets won't harm a healthy person who follows the diet for a short period of time.    My concern is that so-called professionals may persuade someone to follow an eating regime that is unsuitable, in the misguided belief that they are helping them.  Of even more concern is the fact that sensible, intelligent people like my friend Lesley may be persuaded by an "expert" that their advice is good for them when it may in fact have the opposite effect.

My final point, aimed particularly at women of a "certain age" who have been brought up not to complain but just get on with it, is please go to see your doctor if you have symptoms that don't clear up quickly.  Pain isn't normal, so don't grin and bear it.  Pester your doctor until he or she sends you for whatever tests are necessary to get a diagnosis.  The rheumatologist was impressed by how brave Lesley had been, but amazed that her doctor had let her go for six months in pain without resolving her problems.  We all have the right to good health, or the best health possible for us as individuals, so let's fight for it!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Dare I broach the subject of brooches?

When I was younger I didn't wear brooches.  I think I looked upon them as an accessory for grannies, great aunts and other elderly ladies.  No doubt my husband would comment that the reason I now enjoy wearing brooches is because I am an elderly lady myself!  As sixty is the new forty, I still consider myself to be verging on middle age and definitely nowhere near being elderly. I just happen to appreciate brooches as I have become more discerning and stylish!

The selection above is used to brighten up and add interest to my coats and jackets.  My favourite brooch is the one on the top right-hand side, which was a Christmas present from my daughter Kate, and which is almost permanently attached to my winter coat.

My latest acquisition is still in the post, as I ordered it recently from the Royal British Legion's on line shop.
It is, of course, a poppy brooch: ideal to wear on a dull winter's day! I must say that I was rather taken with the poppy ring and pendant too - maybe next year?

I mentioned recently that hubby John had bought me a beautiful tin in Paris that I planned to fill with my jewellery.  He had chosen it for me as he knew I would love the picture and it was a bonus when the shopkeeper pointed out that it contained yummy chocolate biscuits!

Do you like wearing brooches?  If so, please tell us about your favourite brooch.  Go to Une Femme to see more lovely brooches.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Seasonal colour analysis vs Dressing your Truth

Do you remember the 80s?  If you answered "yes", the chances are that at some stage during that decade you decided to go for a colour analysis.  I certainly did - after being encouraged by the transformation of a work colleague - and I was told that I was a "winter". This meant that I could wear black, lots of icy colours and many bright colours as well.  According to the colour analyst, that is! In reality, when I went shopping clutching my colour swatches, many of the colours just didn't suit me.  I ended up with a wardrobe full of clothes in the most flattering of winter's colours and was reasonably happy with the way I looked, but I knew that the system was far from perfect.
Winter colours - most of them were too harsh or dark on me.
Then we entered the 90s and colour analysis had become a bit more sophisticated, with the basic four seasons being subdivided and new categories emerging such as light or deep, soft or clear, cool or warm.  It made more sense than dividing millions of women into just four groups.  I was made redundant during this decade and offered a free colour analysis as part of my redundancy package. So what type of "winter" was I now that there were additional categories?  Actually, none of them!  This colour analyst told me I wasn't "winter" after all: I was a " bright spring". Confused?  I certainly was. This time I didn't bother buying a swatch of colours, after all some of my winter colours had suited me and others hadn't, so would this be any different?  I did buy a pretty scarf though in bright spring colours, which I still enjoy wearing.

Seasonal colour analysis is based on the colour of your hair, skin and eyes but, as I discovered, it doesn't suit everybody.  It started out with four groups, then expanded into twelve groups and, at the last time of checking, it was now sixteen groups.  Why is this?  Can any colour system, no matter how many groups there are, really be defined in such a way that all women can find their perfect colours within that system?

Spring colours suited me more, being slightly lighter as well as bright.
A new century and a new system to help women find their most flattering looks, but this time we are talking about more than just colour.  "Dressing your truth" returns to the idea that there are just four types of women, but they aren't using your colouring here: this system is based on your energy and recognising your true nature. The four types are bright and animated (T1); soft and subtle (T2); rich and dynamic (T3); bold and striking (T4).  When you are dressing your truth, you don't just dress in certain colours, you also take into account the design line, texture, fabrication and pattern. Colour or chroma is just one of five elements, and it's amazing how much difference combining all five elements can make when choosing new clothes.

I received a colour card with a difference.  When using colour analysis I tried to match the colours in my swatch exactly, but with Dressing your Truth the secret is choosing colours that are in harmony with your card and that "pop" when the card is held up against them..

I was surprised to find that the colours shown for type 1 all suited me.  How could this be?  My actual colouring wasn't part of the equation, and when I looked at their website: Dressing your Truth,  I realised that within each type there were many different women, from blondes to brunettes, short and tall, slim and not-so-slim, representing all age groups.  You have to admit that the before and after photos on their website are inspiring and seem to prove that this system works.

Once you know your dominant type, you can start thinking about your secondary type, though it doesn't change the colours that you should be wearing.  I realised that many of the elements for my type 1 are elements that I am naturally drawn to: rounded or V-necklines; textures that feel crisp rather than chunky: light to medium-weight fabrics, that feel light and fresh on the body: animated patterns.  And of course I do love bright jewellery!

Wearing some type 1 colours!
This system simplifies shopping.  It's not just a case of rejecting clothes that are the wrong colour for you, but if the colour is right and the style or pattern are wrong, it is also a "No. No".  You soon learn to pick out the right clothes and discard the rest.  I have loved wearing the clothes that suit my type and received many compliments too. I feel good about myself and more confident as I learn to recognise my true type.

If you are intrigued by the concept as much as I am, why not try the free Dressing your Truth course?  Then leave your comments here so we can see what you think about it!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

A fashion icon? Moi?

Sadly the answer is "Non"!  I was inspired by a recent post on "Not dressed as lamb" to show how my sense of style has evolved through the decades.  Catherine was a bit harsh on herself, I thought, when she said "It ain't pretty".  She is a lot more stylish now, but there are still some great photos on her blog, so do take a look. Below is my own selection, which in my case spans over 60 years!

I can't blame my mother for this outfit: Mum said that even when I was a toddler I only wore what I wanted to!

Photos in the sixties were still mainly black and white.  This is one of my favourite photos as I'm with my lovely brother Steve.  The dress was given to me by my Auntie Elizabeth: I always enjoyed visiting her as she was only 12 years older than me and passed on clothes that she was bored with!

Colour at last!  I loved this yellow trouser suit almost as much as I loved my shocking pink top and purple mini-skirt.  Sadly I don't have photos of the top and skirt to share with you. I was 19 or 20 in this photo, which was taken in Northern Ireland.

It's hard to be fashionable when you're expecting your second child, but kaftans and baggy dresses were fashionable in the early 70s, so not all of my clothes had to be bought in Mothercare!

Oh dear!  Was this outfit actually fashionable in the 80s?  Even if it was, it's not a good look on me. The colours are too stark and the baggy blouse and skirt aren't saved by the fact that I belted the top. I was in my thirties here and still didn't how to look stylish. Next!

Gold balloons, gold dress - yes, you've guessed it! - this was at my 50th birthday party in London.

With my sadly missed friend Beryl, enjoying ourselves at my 60th birthday party.  The theme was "bring on the bling", which hopefully explains the excessive jewellery!

My final photo was taken just before my 65th birthday this year and shows the outfit I wore in Paris on my birthday.  I'm not as slim as I was in my thirties and forties, but I think I have learnt to dress in more flattering outfits.  Do you feel that you look better as you get older?

Monday, 12 November 2012

My jewellery - NOT included in project 333!

I have noticed that the theme for today on several other fashion blogs is jewellery. It seems the ideal moment to confess to how many pieces of jewellery I possess that I deliberately excluded from my 33 items of clothing to wear over the next 3 months as part of Project 333.  I like to ring the changes with my jewellery so would have found it difficult to limit myself to just a couple of pieces.  I would probably have been ok if it had been 333 items for 3 months instead of only 33!

Most of my jewellery is costume jewellery and many items were presents from friends and family, who have noticed my tendency to wear several pieces of jewellery every day.  As I don't have pierced ears I don't wear earrings on a regular basis, but I have lots of different coloured necklaces, bracelets and rings to brighten up my wardrobe, with a few coloured watches as well.

If you have downsized your wardrobe as I am trying to do, having a good selection of jewellery helps you to create different looks and stops you being bored with your limited clothes.  It is also a good way to follow fashion trends and look up to date without spending too much money or risking looking like a fashion victim.

17 bracelets

8 rings and 8 watches

I make that a total of 25 necklaces
6 pairs of earrings and 6 brooches
Well there you have it - more than 33 items of jewellery, so how could I select just a couple of pieces?!  What would you choose if you were limited to one item in each category?  I haven't quite finished, as I live in Spain - so during the summer months there is one essential accessory that all señoras and señoritas need to carry...!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

My 333 revisited

It may only be autumn, but winter seems to have well and truly arrived in our corner of Spain!  Lots of rain recently and a biting cold wind has meant that my short sleeved tops have now been banished - unless I have a cosy cashmere cardigan over them!  I recently visited London to see my family and friends, which also meant new additions to my wardrobe, as I took advantage of the opportunity to buy petite sizes there.

It is a month since I started Project 333 and the idea of having 33 items of clothing to wear over 3 months still seems like a good idea, as it means it is a lot quicker deciding what to wear in the morning!  I have now added my new purchases to the original 33 - which obviously means removing some older clothes - and thought I would share this with you.  What do you think?



As you can see, I am now wearing my autumn!winter wardrobe in earnest! I have added in my winter coat and new navy trench coat, plus a pair of grey winter boots.  Please note too the new green satchel for when I go to my Spanish classes, which also adds a bright touch to the navy trench coat.

I admit that I probably do not need four bags however, apart from my new purchase, I have an everyday grey bag that goes with nearly everything, but I prefer a smaller bag for evenings out, and I also like a rucksack for those occasions when we go on long walks.  Similarly I need boots for when the weather is particularly bad but prefer shoes for everyday wear and my ballerina flats are so comfortable indoors that they had to be included.

I have kept one short sleeved top and sleeveless top for layering under a cardigan or jacket. Observant readers (and those able to count) will say there are only 32 items above, and will wonder if I am counting my trouser suit as two items to make up my 33.  The answer is no, because I have one more addition below.  I will explain more about that in another post!

Friday, 9 November 2012

My personal shopper experience - part 2

My first personal shopper experience was a tranquil and structured one, based in one shop (Banana Republic).  My second personal shopper experience was more hectic, involving dashing around several department stores on Oxford Street in London.  A lot of fun though, and I knew what to expect, as it was with my youngest daughter Kate.

Kate is a talented artist and has an eye for what styles and colours suit other people, as well as being very creative when dressing herself.  She wasn't very excited when I told her the purpose of this expedition was to buy a replacement trench coat, but she brightened up a bit when I said I would also like a cardigan to replace the old ones I had thrown away during Project 333, plus a gold necklace.  Did I mention that I have just received a tax rebate?  It was a good excuse to go shopping!

Our first stop was Muji.  I would never have considered shopping at Muji but Kate said that, as they are a Japanese company, their clothes are designed for shorter people and that my other daughter Vicky, who is also a petite (though slimmer than me!) sometimes shops there.

Almost straight away we spotted a navy trench coat that Kate thought would suit me.  She was, of course, quite right!  It fitted well, apart from the sleeves being a fraction long, and it felt lovely and light when I put it on. On my own I probably would have bought it straight away, however Kate told me that we would still look in the department stores but now we had something to compare them with. Anything else that I tried on would have to be even better - if not we would return to buy the Muji trench coat.

Kate has longer legs than me, but luckily I can walk pretty fast so I just about managed to keep up with her as she strode through the fashion departments, pausing only when she spotted a possible purchase.  I have to say that I agreed with all her suggestions and eagerly tried on the various items. Without Kate, I would probably have chosen the same trench coats and cardigans, but it would have taken me a lot longer to find them.

It was good to have a reference point and the only coat that I was tempted to buy was a beautiful green suede trench coat in House of Fraser.  I resisted on the basis that it wouldn't be as practical as the navy trench coat, that it cost twice as much, and I would need to spend a small fortune every time it needed cleaning!  I returned to Muji at the end of the shopping expedition to buy the first trench coat that I had seen, confident that it was the right choice.

Again, Kate proved her worth when it came to buying a cardigan.  She dismissed many of them on the basis that I might be over 60 but I didn't want to look frumpy!  I didn't want anything too chunky, but many of the lightweight cardigans that I tried on didn't look good unless they were buttoned up. Then she spotted this - a gorgeous cashmere cardigan.  I loved the colour plus I loved both the way it looked and the way it felt when I tried it on.

My final purchase was a simple gold necklace, similar to the one below though more of a choker.  It is suitable for both day and night so will be a versatile addition to my wardrobe.

Mission accomplished!  After a successful morning's shopping, we were ready to head towards Kings Cross to have lunch with my son Mark - and Kate's brother - at a new-to-me restaurant called Caravan.  Kings Cross has been transformed since my last visit to London and is now dangerously close to being trendy!

Friday, 2 November 2012

My personal shopper experience - part 1

Having looked on-line at various petite ranges prior to my recent trip to London, I decided to book an appointment with a personal shopper at Banana Republic.  I hadn't come across their shop when I lived in London, as I always shopped at my old favourites Wallis and Principles, with an occasional look at the Marks & Spencer petite range.

Since moving to Spain I have been shopping on-line at Wallis, as I know their size 12 fits me perfectly, until suddenly they decided that their short trousers should be longer.  Why?  How many short women suddenly grow by three centimetres? My legs have stayed the same, but Wallis have now lengthened their petite trousers.  Great!  It is difficult to find petite clothes in Spain, even though most Spanish women are about my height, so I needed to find an alternative range of flattering petite clothing.

My shopping advisor Despo had emailed me, prior to my visit to the Banana Republic Regent Street store, so she had an idea of what I was looking for. I'm pleased to report that she was very well prepared.  As soon as I arrived she explained that she had selected a range of clothes  in my size that she thought would suit me and she had made some good choices, guided by a look at this blog to see some of my existing clothes.

If you aren't keen on shopping, a personal shopper is a good option.  Despo did all the hard work for me.  All I had to do was try on all the clothes that I liked out of her selection and, if I wasn't keen on a particular colour, I just asked her to bring me the same style in other colours.  She even topped up my glass of water at regular intervals - though I would have preferred champagne!

Despo had brought me some navy trousers that I really liked, but I had to breathe in to fasten them up, which usually isn't a good sign.  I went out to see her and said I probably needed the next size up.  She made me turn round and pronounced that they were a perfect fit and that the next size would be too big on me. "They've got a lot of stretch", she said.  I decided on the ultimate test and sat down in them. Did I mention that there were comfortable chairs in the personal shopping suite?  Another bonus for the weary shopper.

Despo was quite right - the trousers fitted well and still felt comfortable when I sat down.  On my own I would have probably bought size 14 instead of 12, which wouldn't have looked so good on me.  A personal stylist doesn't just save you time, she encourages you to try on different styles and colours and, even more importantly, gives you good impartial advice.

These were my eventual choices - including the navy trousers of course!

   Shawl collar wrap topwomens striped tee green-emma striped tee

Sloan fit slim ankle pant

Banana Republic Ashley Bow Ballet Flat - Banana Republic Canada

All in all I would say it was a very positive experience, though it does help to know what you want and not get side-tracked.  Despo brought me some lovely dresses and jackets, but I was after a good pair of trousers plus some tops to go with them and other items in my wardrobe, so I didn't give in to temptation.  The fact that I was flying back to Spain with hand luggage only was an added incentive!  If you're a petite size wanting to buy clothes that won't date too quickly, Banana Republic are definitely worth looking at.