Thursday, 28 July 2016

Discovering your best looks

If you've followed my blog for a while, you'll know that I'm always looking for ways to look chic, to find out which colours flatter me the most and to generally become a more stylish over-60 woman. A tall order you may think, considering I'm just over 5' tall and not as slim as I was - not to mention the wrinkles!

Once we're over 60, assuming we want to look our best while avoiding the "mutton dressed a lamb" tag, most of us need to re-evaluate our wardrobes. The trigger is often when we've retired and realise that we have a wardrobe full of outfits suitable for working, but not what we'd choose to wear on a daily basis now that we're not bound by office rules.

My own wardrobe has gradually changed since we moved to Spain eight years ago: for a start, I need a lot more summer clothes than I did when we lived in London! As well as following the 7 Steps to Style system and joining the Looking Stylish Style Club, I have gleaned lots of helpful information from other bloggers. On a personal level, I really value the comments on my own blog, which help me to understand what outfits look good on me and which ones are a bit blah! During the 30 Chic Days challenge, these were the outfits that received favourable comments.

Coral definitely suits me
Slimming lines with navy

A deep warm red
A neutral look

Another neutral look - for evening
In the past, I've posted photos of myself wearing warm colours and cool colours, asking my readers which they thought suited me the best. From their feedback, I would say that warm looks better than cool on me, however I'm ok in some cooler shades. I now have to avoid too bright colours, which tend to wear me (though when I was in my 30s and even in my 40s I could get away with them). Icy shades are a definite no-no too as are paler colours. I have learnt that as an over-60 year old I look better in warm, soft and deep colours. Remember that as we age our colouring tends to change, so don't assume that what suited you in your 40s will still flatter you.

All of these outfits consist of straight or slim leg trousers plus tops. I posted a photo of myself in culottes, which was given a definite thumbs down! If you're taller and slimmer than me, though, you probably look fabulous in culottes.

I love colour, however I'm best in neutrals or with just one colour in my outfit as I'm low colour contrast, though I'm also high value contrast so can wear both light and dark shades of the same colour. In my evening look, although the outfit is mainly neutral, I'm wearing an orange camisole (which you can just see) with matching earrings. In the first three looks, I'm wearing a pendant to draw the eyes down and (hopefully!) make me look slimmer. Once I've decided what clothes to wear, I've learnt to evaluate an outfit and see what accessories will finish it off, whether it's a splash of colour, a long pendant or a scarf in a flattering shade.

What about you? You may prefer wearing dresses, or might look better in brighter, cooler colours. Taking photos is helpful if you want to discover your best looks - you can see things that you don't spot when you look in a mirror. Take note when friends compliment you (like I take note of favourable comments on my blog), especially when they mention how well you look or how a colour suits you. If they say "I love that dress", it may just be because it's a colour or style that would suit them, so be wary.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

30 Chic Days - last days and review

Days 29 & 30 (Saturday and Sunday)

Outfit - day 29
Outfit - day 30
Above, you can see the last two outfits from my 30 Chic Days challenge. Click on the link if you want more information about being chic and to read Fiona's great posts. You can also check out Juhli's blog to see how she got on during her 30 Chic Days.

Fiona's goal is to live a more chic, healthy and elegant life, which was the raison d'être behind me deciding to try my own 30 Chic Days. I gave a bit more thought to the outfits I wore each day, trying to look as chic and elegant as possible rather than grabbing the first clothes that came to hand. I'm not saying that I succeeded in looking as chic as the average Frenchwoman, however I think I raised my game a bit. I was looking for flattering colours, combining tops and bottoms to create better outfits, plus the addition of accessories to complete my look,

The healthy part of my 30 days consisted of becoming more aware of what I was eating and how I was moving. One of the most important lessons that I learnt from reading Fiona's blog was to think about portion size rather than going on a restrictive diet. We are lucky enough to be able to buy fresh fruit and vegetables that are grown locally, as well as fresh fish caught in the Mediterranean, extra virgin olive oil produced in the town where we live, plus the red wine for which Jumilla is renowned. Mediterranean diet anyone? When we decide occasionally to eat ready meals, we go for healthier choices, however my aim is to find more recipes for meals that can be prepared in a flash, apart from omelettes or tortillas!

We live on the edge of a small Spanish town and don't have a car, so we walk a lot. Even so, trying to reach my target of 10,000 steps a day wasn't always easy, especially at weekends when we didn't go shopping or on days when we didn't meet friends for coffee. We have a dog Lisa (photobombing me in the photo on day 30) who is taken for walks several times a day, but in the hot weather she isn't so keen on long walks. It was helpful to keep an eye on my number of steps to make sure I reached my target and, if necessary, take Lisa for an extra walk. My daily average over the last week was 10,971 steps.

The BBC website has an interesting article about getting rid of belly fat. You can read it here. The reason I am linking to this is because the most successful dieters didn't make many changes to their diets: they just watched their portion sizes, cut out snacks between meals and tried to make healthy choices.

They also kept active, but without doing sit-ups or fad exercises. Does this sound familiar? Many blogs and books written about how Frenchwomen keep slim mention that they seldom go to the gym but they walk a lot, including having to use the stairs, as many Parisian apartment blocks don't have lifts. I must stick to my resolve to keep using the stairs unless I have heavy shopping or luggage.

I didn't do as much reading as I had planned, spending too much time on blogging or reading other blogs. I now have a pile of books, magazine and newspapers to read for the rest of the month as my aim is to spend less time on my computer.

Finally, it definitely helps to have a focus, which in my case was to eat more healthily while cutting down my portion sizes. Although I wasn't dieting I did lose 1.7 kilos (3.7 lbs) without even trying. The secret being, as already mentioned, a combination of eating in a healthy, mindful way as well as gentle, regular exercise.

I also focused on creating a more cohesive wardrobe using my 33 items of clothing. Looking critically at the outfits I wore over the 30 days, there were a few that didn't really flatter me. Wearing a light top with dark bottoms, cutting me in half at my widest point, isn't a good look. Culottes on short women? Don't go there!

My final words should come from Fiona, who told me 30 Chic Days is meant to be fun and enjoyable, not stressful. I definitely enjoyed the experience and learnt a lot from taking part. Why not join me the next time I give it a go?

Sunday, 10 July 2016

30 Chic Days - days 26, 27 and 28

Fiona has already finished her 30 Chic Days and Juhli is almost there, so I need to get a move on!

Day 26 (Wednesday)

Outfit - day 26

Day 27 (Thursday)
Outfit - day 27

Day 28 (Friday)
Outfit - day 28
If you've read the post about my Summer capsule of 33 items of clothing, you may remember that I only have seven pairs of trousers and eighteen tops, plus two skirts, two dresses and a couple of cardigans. As my "uniform" consists of trousers and tops, inevitably that means that over the course of thirty days I will be wearing my trousers many times and wearing most tops on several occasions.As you can see above, I wore the same trousers on Wednesday and Friday this week, but with different tops.

I don't know how some women manage with a ten item wardrobe, especially in the heat. The good news about living in Spain is that I can hand wash clothes in the afternoon, put them outside, and bring them in dry at the end of the day! However I do like some variety in my outfits, and I don't want to be washing clothes every day, so I'm going to stick with my thirty three items wardrobe.

Talking about variety, it's been helpful to be aware of what I'm eating over the 30 days and to think about trying different meals. Lunch was pitta with hummus on a couple of days, but with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon in between. I made sure that dinner was different every day: salade niçoise on Wednesday, bulgar wheat with roasted vegetables on Thursday and fish (what else?) on Friday. Healthy eating is my main aim, which is fairly easy to achieve with the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables grown locally, however I also think it's good to try out new recipes to add some variety to our diet.

Movement over the course of the day is important, which is why I am using my fitbit to monitor my steps. I am also getting into the habit of using the stairs rather than the lift when going up to our second floor apartment. I'm not sure how impressed our dog Lisa is with the new routine!

In my final post I will include some of the lessons learnt over the course of my 30 Chic Days challenge. I'd also be interested in hearing your thoughts about how useful this series has been.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

30 Chic Days - days 22 to 25

I'm lagging behind Fiona, who has just posted Day 30 of her 30 Chic Days, and overlapping with Juhli, who has managed to post days 20-24 already, as well as working hard decorating her home to make it as chic as possible. They definitely put me to shame when it comes to the 30 Chic Days challenge! My only excuses are the hot weather in Spain that slows me down somewhat and too many social activities.

Day 22 (Saturday)

Outfit day 22 (daytime)
Outfit day 22 (evening)

On Saturday morning we met our Spanish friend Juana and her daughter Marta for coffee. We were helping Marta with her English pronunciation, as she had a presentation to give in English this week. Lunch was omelette with smoked salmon, followed by fresh apricots, which we had a bit later than usual, as we weren't sure when we'd be eating in the evening.

Our Saturday night dinner was tapas and wine in our nearest bodega. During the summer months there are concerts in many of the local wineries, so we had bought tickets for the concert in Bodegas San Isidro, which is literally just down the road from our house. We have tickets for two more events, later in the month. I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday evening than a concert in a bodega, with good wine, tasty food and great company.

Day 23 (Sunday)

Outfit - day 23
We met our friend Charlie for coffee, which extended into having tapas with a glass of wine as so often happens in Spain. Dinner was baked hake with roasted vegetables. In between all the food and drink we managed to take our dog Lisa for a longish walk. We try to keep in the shade as much as possible, partly because Lisa prefers to walk in the shade and partly because I avoid the sun too, being fair-skinned and freckled.

Day 24 (Monday)

Dinner was stir fried prawns, adding the rest of the vegetables from Sunday's meal. Being more aware of what I'm eating, including the size of the portions, has meant I'm less likely to serve myself a second helping just to finish things off. There's nothing wrong with left overs is there? It's certainly better than over eating. Lunch on Monday and Tuesday was hummus with pitta bread, followed by kiwi fruit. Breakfast has been the same every day so far: a mix of yoghurt, oats, nuts, lemon juice and honey, Click on the following link if you want to read Fiona's post about French Girl Portion Sizes.

Day 25 (Tuesday)

Dinner was tuna burger with a mixture of fresh vegetables. I know I've been saying that we should avoid ready meals, but the fish burgers and beef burgers from the local shop are tasty and fairly healthy, so I think once a week is acceptable until I find some easy recipes to replace fast foods. I think it has been helpful to focus on my food choices and I will definitely be looking for some healthier (but still tasty!) recipes over the next few months.

Thinking about how I move has also been useful. I have enrolled for the Tai Chi classes that will be starting again in September, as I'm aware of the need to improve my balance. I have added some daily balance exercises to my routine, as well as using a fitbit to log my steps. The latest weekly total was 78,338, giving a daily average of 11,191 steps. 

Using a fitbit has proved a good incentive for me to keep fit. I can check the daily total and, if it's a bit 
low, our dog gets a bonus walk!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Summer capsule wardrobe for Project 333

I have neglected posting about Project 333 in recent months so - without further ado - here is my summer capsule wardrobe of 33 items of clothing to last me for the next 3 months. For anyone new to Project 333, you can find out more details by clicking on this link. Strictly speaking, the 33 items should include shoes and accessories, but I bend the rules and allow myself 33 items of clothing instead.

I'll do some of the maths for you. In the photos above there are seven pairs of trousers, two skirts plus eighteen short sleeved tops to create outfits for the day-time. Two pairs of trousers and one skirt are patterned, which means they can't be combined with every top, but if you multiply the six neutral bottoms by eighteen tops that still gives 108 different outfits, which is more than enough to wear over the next few months. I have included two long sleeved tops and two cardigans, which are for evenings only, as it is now very hot during the daytime.

Finally the two dresses: I have worn the first one for lunch with friends recently, and will wear it for dining out over the next few months, however the second one won't be worn until the last day of summer,  I have an important wedding on 30th September and the dress is being saved for that!

Monday, 4 July 2016

30 Chic Days - days 18, 19, 20 and 21.

I took up the challenge to be as chic as possible over 30 days, plus trying to eat healthily and being aware of how much I moved. My reading has tended to be posts by other bloggers (especially Fiona and Juhli who are also doing this challenge) and the BBC website, where I can read the latest news and catch up on sport. I particularly enjoyed a recent post where Fiona spoke about browsing folders on her computer where she has saved some of her favourite articles and blog posts. If the news is too depressing, which sadly is often the case nowadays, I think I'll do the same

Day 18 (Tuesday)

Outfit - day 18

Day 19 (Wednesday)

Outfit - day 19

Day 20 (Thursday)

Outfit - day 20

Day 21 (Friday)
Outfit - day 21
The reason I look a bit lop-sided in the above photos, and especially the one of day 21's outfit, is that I had software problems.  For some strange reason, every time I tried to straighten then crop the photos, I chopped off either my head or my feet! Some people may think the photos would look better without my head (lol), however it's easier to judge the overall effect of an outfit when you can see the whole picture. To be honest, day 21's outfit isn't the most flattering, but what it lacks in style it makes up for in being comfortable. I'm sure there are a few over 60 women out there who also have comfort near the top of their list when deciding what to wear!

This is probably a good time to talk about the difference between fashion and style. Culottes are fashionable at the moment, and many women also look stylish in them, however are they chic on shorter women like me? Women who love to wear the latest fashions have to take care not to look like a fashion victim and culottes are a good example of this. Stylish women will only wear culottes if they suit their body shape and their personal style. Similarly, if the colour of the year is tangerine and they look better in softer, cooler colours, chic women might carry a tangerine clutch but their clothes will be in more flattering shades. I found doing the 7 Steps to Style course helpful in showing me which colours, shapes and styles suit me best as well as learning about other aspects such as contrast -  but I still get it wrong sometimes!

As my focus during this challenge has been on trying to eat more healthily, my main meals have been salads, omelettes (ideal when I've been short of time) and vegetarian main courses like couscous. My husband eats meat, though I only eat fish nowadays, so occasionally he will add some chicken or other meat to his meal if it's a vegetarian dish. We both enjoy a glass of wine with our dinner, especially as we live in a Spanish town that is renowned for its red wine: after all, we're supporting a local industry!

My best day for steps was Tuesday, as I walked to my hairdresser's, which is on the other side of town and the daily total was over 14,000. I was just under my target on Thursday, however the average over the four days was well over my 10,000 steps target.

Finally, I'd like to wish all my American readers a very happy 4th July!