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Author Archive for Ann Morrison

Accepting a compliment

Do you find it easy to give compliments to others?

Oh, I like your hair! What a pretty dress! That lipstick looks great on you! Yes, they roll off the tongue quite easily.

How do you feel about accepting compliments?

What, this old thing? Oh, I’ve had this for ages. Yes, but I’m having a bad hair day.

Why do we try to downplay the nice things that people say to us? Why do we feel obliged to point out the things others have obviously overlooked – the bags under our eyes, our scuffed shoes, the coat in need of a wash, etc.

NOT accepting a compliment insults both you and the person complimenting you. It can make that person feel worse than if they’d said nothing at all. My friend Judy who works as a cashier at a Home Improvement store said she makes a point of being friendly and complimenting most every person that comes through her till. She says its surprising how many people do not know how to accept a compliment.

What should you do?

1. Say thank you! End of story. You don’t need to provide the place you bought  your purse, how much it cost you on sale, or anything else. Just say thank you.

2. Try a compliment back. Say, “Funny, I was just admiring YOUR shoes!” It could be a great conversation starter.

3. Say something nice like, “Oh, you are so kind/sweet/lovely!” You may not agree with their compliment, but at least you haven’t insulted the person.

4. Smile! It may not be necessary to say anything at all.

Last summer I headed out to do a little shopping. It was a beautiful day, and I decided to take it up a notch and put on a T-shirt dress with a matching cardigan. When I got out of the car, a woman in the parking lot yelled out at me – “YOU LOOK VERY NICE!”. Even though I felt slightly embarrassed, it was a good feeling. I had tried a little harder with my appearance and someone had noticed. I can still remember how the compliment made me fee leven though this  happened months ago. Say something nice to someone today!

 

“Everybody likes a compliment”

~Abraham Lincoln

 

 

The perfect Christmas Gift

There’s no denying it now people … its a slippery slope ’til Christmas, only one month to go!

Last Christmas I received I gift that blew me away! I’m no Martha Stewart, but I’m a fairly “crafty” person myself and have made, sewed, knitted and baked my fair share of Christmas gifts over the years. But this one takes the cake!

My brother John and his wife Tina are the owners of Morr-McNaughton Stables in Caistorville and they breed Canadian Horses. In addition to their herd, they keep other animals on their farm including some sheep. The sheep are fun to have around but serve a purpose too. These Shetlands are from Flock One – the first Shetland sheep brought to North America. Each year they have their wool shorn and it is taken away to be spun into knitting yarn – pure, organic, hand spun – you get it!  The colour of  each skein is dependent on which sheep it came from. John and Tina have four different sheep, so there are four different colours.

Tina (who also teaches skating and has a day job)  likes to knit and crochet in her spare (!) time. For Christmas last year she whipped up some delightful headbands for some of the girls in our family. Mine is a cream colour (Lindsay provided my wool) and looks great with my Quartz Nature red parka. To complete her creation and hold the headband together all Tina needed was a button.

When you live in the country and you don’t have a button you improvise!

John was charged with finding a button. On their property were many fallen trees and branches from the ice storm we experienced just before Christmas in 2013. John got a brilliant idea,  took a saw to one of the branches, cut some slices, drilled two holes and voila! Buttons!

 

Clockwise from top left Jackie, Mary,Bo and Lindsay

 

 

Thanks Lindsay , bottom left for my wool!

 

 

Needless to say, it was a beautiful gift and the wooden button was the finishing touch, n’est ce pas? I’d love some mittens this year … hint, hint!

For more information on John and Tina’s farm or to buy a horse visit www.morrmcnaughtonstables.com.

 

 

 

 

“Winter is coming.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Remember last winter? We experienced record breaking snowfalls and far too many days of below freezing temperatures. Last year I invested heavily in some winter clothing pieces I’ve never owned before. (These are the types of items I’d take “up north” if I was on a winter getaway ). This year when I do my fall changeover to winter I’ll be bringing out the following:

Parka. My nice red Quartz Nature 80% down/20% feather made in Canada parka. It has beautiful raccoon trim on the hood and fleece inside the collar and pockets. Its washable but waterproof, warm, with a two way zipper – in short – perfection! I found it at SAIL in Burlington.

Snow pants! Yes, I feel a little bit like a child wearing these but on the coldest days I’m so glad to have them. They look great with my parka and are the best thing to wear when shoveling snow. I even wear them hiking and in the car when its feeling minus 35 with the windchill.

Long johns. Yes, I feel a little bit like a grandpa wearing these but they are essential under pants and jeans if you have to be outside. I found some that sit around the hip at Mark’s Work Wearhouse. I pair those with some waffle weave long sleeved v-neck T’s as my first layer and then get dressed!

Bamboo tights. My usual look in winter is a dress with tights and over-the-knee boots. Last winter changed all that. I was forced to buy some heavier tights made from bamboo which actually breathe. When nylon tights won’t keep you warm, reach for the bamboo.

Wool socks. My favourite brands are SmartWool and DarnTough (made in Vermont). These are high wool content, sized and geared to specific activities. The socks are much warmer than basic cotton/polyester ones and come in various thicknesses and colourful patterns. Under winter boots I prefer the slightly thicker ones.

Leg Warmers. No, I’m not going for the Flashdance revival look, but my gorgeous colour blocked leg warmers from preloved have kept me warm inside and out and on my way to and from the gym.

Cashmere accessories. Everyone loves a cashmere sweater, but gloves, scarves and lounge pants are equally luxurious. I found some beautiful red cashmere gloves on closeout last February at Winners. I loved my Hudson’s Bay Olympic mitts, but they were made from acrylic and not warm enough for frigid weather. Hello cashmere.

Wool sweaters. Its harder than ever to find 100% wool. Wool is more often being mixed with polyester, nylon, acrylic or some other man made fibre. As much as possible I’m wearing all wool or wool rich knits. They breathe better, keep heat in and pill less than synthetics.

Burts Bees for lips. Slightly tinted, slightly scented and easy to apply without a mirror. Keeps me from licking my lips and getting more chapped. I keep a few tubes stashed around.

Here’s hoping I do not need all of these deep winter items again this year … I’m not much of a snow bunny. I prefer sun and beaches. But they are all coming out of my winter bin, within ready reach should Old Man Winter unleash his blast.

  “A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”
― Carl Reiner

 

 

The best summer shoes

 

Love the navy/coral combo!
These are the ones I ordered.

What’s not to love about summer – warmer temperatures, sunshine, lighter clothing, sandals, barbecues – I could go on and on! But ask me what my favourite footwear is and these beauties will be at or near the top of my list. Espadrilles!

Classic, old fashioned, and hand sewn from cotton canvas, jute and rubber these timeless shoes have been made in the Pyrenees in Spain since the fourteenth century. If you are lucky enough to be in Barcelona this summer, please be smarter than I was and buy several pairs in all of your favourite colours! I found the perfect espadrilles there and bought one pair! Lesson learned. If you can’t make it to Barcelona – you can order your own espadrilles online from The Espadrille shop in Montreal. They feature different heel heights, colours and lacing options as well as slip ons, men’s and children’s shoes. If you sign up for email alerts, they regularly have free shipping – or pop into their well organized store at 4518 rue Saint-Denis next time you are in Montreal and say bonjour to Diego and his staff.

Espadrilles look great with a sundress, maxi dress, mini skirt, cut offs, jeans, cropped pants – or just about anything you can think of for summer. They are comfortable, breathable and can be gently washed if necessary. Wedge heel versions are great for a casual summer wedding and with their closed toe are good for hiding an overdue pedicure.  Espadrilles are easy to walk in and pack flat for a carry on. Get some for the whole family!

Beauty Sleep

Are you getting enough rest? Is sleep a priority in your life? Do you consider sufficient sleep to be a primary beauty ingredient?

Ahh sleep … or asleep? –  many of us do not get the required seven to eight hours of recommended shut-eye per night. We may try to get to bed at a decent time during the week, but often blow the schedule by staying up late on weekends and sleeping in. Our bodies require the same amount of sleep per day, so catching up or being sleep-deprived should be avoided.

We all know we look our best when we are well rested. Our skin is plumper, rosier and softer. Our HGH (human growth hormones) have been doing their repair jobs while we slept. If you have slept well there is little need for elaborate makeup in the morning. Certainly the euphemistic term for having had some work done is “she looks well rested!”. If you’ve been burning the midnight oil, everything seems to suffer. Your hair is limp or unruly, wrinkles or lines more prounced, skin dull. (That’s when dry shampoo, tinted moistuizers and cream blush come in handy!). Continuous sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, memory problems, inattention, accidents, impaired judgement and more.

How do we ensure a good night’s sleep?

1. Have a bed time – even as an adult. Figure out when you need to get up. Go back eight hours. Bedtime!

2. Have a bedtime routine – face, teeth, jammies, book, sex

3. Reserve your bedroom for sleep and intimacy – ditch the clutter, dirty laundry and flatscreen

4. Make sure it smells nice – candles, incense, flowers

5. Regulate the temperature and light – cool & dark is preferrable with  layered bedding

6. Invest in good sheets – high thread count cotton or bamboo

7. Your refuge from the world – leave others, work and our worries at the door

8. Exercise during the day – save the sleeping pills for rare occasions

9. Have a good bed – get the bed mattress, foundation and frame you can afford

10. Keep a pen & paper beside the bed – jot down any last minute worries that pop up so you can let them go safely

11. Close your eyes – you can’t force sleep, but you can try to attract it

12. Zzzzz

 

 

 

 

 

Born in the USA

It was introduced “with great fanfare” in 1936 at the Pittsburg China and Glass Show in five colours and was an immediate hit!  After 37 years of production it was retired in 1972. In 1986 it was resurrected by Bloomingdale’s and made tougher, lead free and better than ever. Chances are your mother or grandmother collected it. It is still a top choice among brides today and a leading brand in casual dinnerware. What am I referring to? Why, FIESTA, of course!

Manufactured as always by the Homer Laughlin China Company of West Virginia, this American company has produced over one half billion pieces of dinnerware since its inception 78 years ago during the Great Depression. As the leading producer of restaurant china,  Homer Laughlin uses the same ceramic glazes and durable materials for their domestic housewares as they do for the restaurant trade. In fact, the dishes are guaranteed chip-proof for five years and have proven to be reliably durable for families. You will see them in diners and restaurants or in the movies. Currently available in 16 colours, the sets of dishes are designed to be mixed and matched. And that is where the fun is! Some people like to collect one place setting of each colour for a rainbow effect. Others like to mix 3 or 4  or more colours. It is enjoyable to combine different colours according to holiday, occasion or mood.

Finally it was time for me to purchase some new dishes. The last complete set of dishes I had was from Eaton’s and they’ve been gone now for fifteen years! After some online research I ordered eight sets of Fiesta from Macy’s. Macy’s was featuring a buy one, get one free sale, with an additional 15%off. Even with duty, taxes & shipping I was pleased with the price. The eight sets arrived (only one plate broken) and I’m having a blast combining the dishes with each other and with my linens.

I chose scarlet, marigold and cobalt (the three primary colours) as my base colours. I’m collecting additional pieces in colours that coordinate with these. So far I have pieces in white, flamingo, periwinkle and sea mist. Vintage Fiesta can also be mixed with modern pieces as the sizes are consistent. Homer Laughlin has pledged to introduce one new colour each year and to retire colours. Flamingo is currently being retired and poppy is the newest addition.

When I invited my mother to see my new dishes, she laughed when she saw them! During her engagement, she collected Fiesta from the local grocery store. If you spent a certain amount on groceries you earned a stamp. Collect enough stamps and you could  trade it for dinnerware. My parents used it during the early years of their marriage.  I don’t  I probably ate off them as a baby, but don’t have a memory of them. Thanks to my friend Cindy for giving me my first FIESTA  pieces – two vintage sea mist bread and butter plates.

By the way, Lemongrass is the colour of the month!

Author’s note: Thanks to the Homer Laughlin China Company official website and Bruce Springsteen.

Why hire a Wardrobe Consultant?

Yes, indeed! Why should you hire me or one or my colleagues? I can think of a few good reasons:

  • A Wardrobe Consultant will gently steer you to items, colours and styles that suit you.
  • She or he has no particular interest in selling you clothing – just in making you look your best.
  • Personal Shoppers/Overly Attentive Salespersons will be rewarded financially for your purchases one way or another.
  • Your mom, sister or best friend already loves you and may think you look fine no matter what you wear.
  • Your boss told you to get some wardrobe help. (Yes, this happens. A male client of mine was told that his resume and interviewing skills were great – his clothes – NOT SO MUCH!)
  • The money you spend on a stylist is far less than the money you will waste on clothing you don’t wear because it doesn’t suit you.
  • You have no idea what styles or colours look good on you.
  • You have a Special Event you have to look just right for.
  • You have too many clothes and too much difficulty getting dressed.
  • You may find clothing or accessories hiding in your closet that have resale value.
  •  You are smart enough to know that your lack of fashion knowledge is holding you back personally or professionally.

A Wardrobe Consultant will  not tell you to throw out all your clothes. (Sorry Stacy & Clinton!). A Wardrobe Consultant is a knowledgeable professional whose unbiased opinion you can trust. They will help you work with existing pieces that are right for you and suggest purchases to fill gaps in your wardrobe. A Wardrobe Consultant will scout stores for pieces for you and notify you of sales.

If your clothes aren’t saying what you want them to say about you consider hiring a Wardrobe Consultant.

A three hour session with me is $149, tax included.

If you’re just unsure about an item or an outfit, text me or email me your photo and I’ll respond with an honest opinion. Send an email to ac.elytslaernull@ofni.

 

You won’t have to throw out
all your clothes and we’ll leave you like this!

 

Not so mellow yellow

It is the colour of daffodils, dandelions, bananas and fall leaves. The colour of sunflowers, lemons and black-eyed Susans. From grapefruit to raincoats, and from butter to sunshine this gorgeous colour is everywhere, especially in spring. HELLO YELLOW!

A sure sign of spring!

Situated between orange and green on the colour wheel, yellow is one of the primary colours. Its complimentary colour is violet (google Pantone Violet Shade of the Year). From the palest straw to the deepest ochre, this colour is often associated with happiness (remember the smiley face?) and with wealth & prestige (think gold coins and the Oscar statuette). It is a popular an accent colour and seems to be almost everywhere when you look for it.

My new boots by Dirty Laundry

Yellow first caught my eye this spring when I needed some new rain boots. My relatively new 2 year old rain boots had suddenly spring leaks in both feet (very disappointing) and with the soggy weather upon us I needed something quick. Underwhelmed by the selection at Marshalls, it was short yellow boots with black piping by Dirty Laundry or fork over $150 for very tall Hunter boots at the Bay (no thanks).  Feeling about five years old, I brought the yellow boots home for a trial. I was surprised to find that the boots seemed to go with everything I tried them on with – blue jeans, black jeans, grey leggings, purple down jacket and midnight blue trench coat! They were cheery and fun as well as functional and comfortable enough to walk in. I kept them.

Another item I have that had been getting lots of wear lately was a yellow & grey wool sweater from Banana Republic. It too, seemed to “go” with lots of things. In reality yellow works as a neutral. You can pair yellow with brown, navy, grey, white, green, blue, tan and even black (no, you don’t look like a bee!) Try some of these combinations:

Red + yellow = fun, youthful                                                       White + yellow = summery, minimalistic

Pink+ yellow = girly, feminine                                                     Green + yellow = relaxed, cool

Navy + yellow = preppy, nautical                                              Tan + yellow = businesslike with a twist

Grey + yellow = sporty, boyish                                                   Orange + yellow = enticing, romantic

 

Inspired to mark the start of the season, I stopped in at Kabuki Spa on Locke Street South for a spring mani. Of course they had the latest colours from OPI and I picked a beautiful, sunshiny yellow hue called “I Just Can’t Cope-acabana” from the Brazil Collection. I loved it so much on my hands, I bought a bottle of my own and it is now on my toes! Alexis Fletcher, owner of Kabuki also loves the yellow coloured polish and has been wearing it herself. The wear ability of yellow extends into other makeup as well. “Yellow eyeshadow is universally flattering. Black, white and yellow skin tones all look great in yellow shadow” says Alexis. Or try a yellow pencil for a pop of colour and fun.  Don’t be afraid to give this vibrant energetic colour a try this season. Why let the kids have all the fun?

Its in the details!

I have trouble with this!

His books were common bathroom reading material years ago – but Richard Carlson’s Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff used to kill me. When you’re a detail oriented person like me, the details are the only thing that matter. Let me show you how details can affect your first impression.

I recently attended a networking event within walking distance of my home. It still being early spring, I didn’t want to wear black leather boots, so settled for some comfortable caramel leather short ones. Anticipating puddles and melting snow banks, these weren’t admittedly my best boots, but they were clean and nicely polished. (Lots of details about my boots).

Muddy shoes fail to impress

There’s always an awkward part at networking events where each individual is put on the spot to pitch their”elevator speech”. Although I was feeling somewhat self-conscious about my boots, it was a relief that no one could see the others’ feet. I looked down as the young woman next to me stood for her turn to speak. My well loved, but highly polished booties positively gleamed next to her dull, mud-covered granny laceup shooties. The young lady was dressed alright otherwise (and I missed my chance when the event ended to compliment her beautifully thick ungroomed eyebrows), but the shoes ruined her look. I also loved her distinctive designer sportwatch – totally awesome – but not for the Law Office she represented. Her outfit was okay, but the details wrecked it.

I also chatted to a Fashionista Banker at the same networking event who arrived in a pink coat. Vibrant and interesting coats had become her style trademark. She laughed when I told her that I work as a Wardrobe Consultant and said I could make a fortune in that room alone! Great, I said, you hand out my business cards to whoever needs them! In a sea of dark coloured coats this woman found that her way to stand out was with colour. She echoed the colour of the coat in other details in her outfit, such as scarves, handbags or gloves.

In Fashion, details are one of the things that set apart mass manufactured goods from quality, bespoke pieces. Details such as decorative stitching, buttons, visible or invisible zippers, bound buttonholes, piping, embroidery, trims, lace, etc. are what can really make a piece of clothing. Details make an item stand out and can make you stand out. Choose pieces that have something special about them, not just because they’ll “do”.

Don’t be afraid to spend money, time and attention on the details of your outfit. Sometimes I plan an outfit around an accessory like a statement necklace or a favourite shoe. Get a good haircut and colour if necessary. Keep your shoes polished and in good repair. Take care of your hands and nails. Take good care of your skin. Others do notice these things and as they always say – there’s only one chance to make a good first impression!

Neutral groomed nails
Always a Do!

Text me or email me your outfit photo and I’ll respond with an honest opinion.

Send an email to ac.elytslaernull@ofni and I’ll provide you with outfit suggestions.

 

 

I never dress up!

Today’s blog addresses one of the most common things I hear from people … I never dress up!

As my mom would ask – Are you bragging or complaining? Maybe its just a statement, but this was a familiar refrain I heard at Modella’s March Fashion Show in Westdale early this spring. Modella showed lots of nice separates in black & white with chartreuse accents, many with asymmetrical silhouettes.

Its true people dress up less, according to Fran and Toni Iduciano, owners of Second Chance Consignment Shop on Hamilton’s Locke Street South, that I also chatted with recently. The workforce is ageing and along with Casual Fridays, Business Casual Dressing, working from home and today’s more relaxed approach to doing business, people  just don’t dress smartly as much as they used to. The sisters see this reflected in the falling sales of categories such as dress pants and matched suits. As Boomers retire from the workplace their lifestyles change and they are no longer required to dress up daily.

Today’s Boomer appears to not enjoy dressing up for events, preferring instead the comfort of leggings, knits, jeans and sportswear. Dress clothing usually involves zippers, buttons, collars, tucking in, dry cleaning, polishing, laces  and the like. Many people are simply tired of the effort  required to wear these types of clothes.  This is no reason not to dress up! Dressing up conveys respect and effort. Remember, its always better to be overdressed than under dressed. If we raise the bar on dressing up, others can rise to it.

Anyway, back to the Fashion Show. After the show I met Denise, a pretty middle aged woman with caramel highlighted longish brown hair, browsing the sale rack. She had spied a cute peplum jacket – black with brown piping which coordinated nicely with the black jeans and tall boots she wore to the Event. She spun and twirled and was clearly in love with the jacket but not quite committed to the purchase. “Oh come on,” I said, “you know you look great in it.  It would also be nice over a dress.” ” Or with a pencil skirt and a leopard print blouse underneath!”, chimed in another fashion show attender.  ”It looks great with what you have on for a date”, I  continued. Denise laughed and exclaimed “A date? I don’t go out on dates, I’m married!”

Then it was my turn to laugh! “Well,” I said,  ”if you looked that good your husband couldn’t help but take you out for dinner and a movie!” The jacket in question was fitted close to the body, not tight,  in a swishy material with a face framing collar which formed a V. The back was longer and could be worn to cover the rear view with leggings. It buttoned nicely under her bust and “the girls” were  ”locked and loaded”. It could also be layered under a coat and at $365 and 60% off, was a good buy. I’m pretty sure Denise bought the jacket from Modella’s, and her husband is now being required to take her on a date! Have fun dressing up Denise!

Longer back peplum fitted jacket
Great for dates!

Thanks to Stacy and Clinton for the “locked and loaded”  phrase.