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Overalls?

Say NO to these baggy
unisex overalls

A reader from British Columbia writes -

Dear RealStyle:

Is it wrong to want overalls?

~Jennifer, student age 21

RealStyle responded -

Dear Jennifer,

No, its not wrong to want them. Just hard to find a flattering pair!

Well, I’ve been educated by a student! There are plenty of cute, fitted and even sexy overalls out there that look comfortable and easy to wear. And there are some to flatter any body type. In “my day” overalls were baggy, unisex or actually borrowed from the boys. The overalls I’m seeing in the Spring issues look nothing like those!

Just like jumpsuits, overalls have undergone a makeover and are back and better than ever. With a variety of washes, colours and leg styles, overalls are just like jeans only better! Underneath, sport a navel skimming crop top, a plaid shirt or a tank. For a night out add heels, a jacket and a clutch. No one will mistake you for a farm worker wearing the new overalls!

Wear this combo
to the club at night!

Try this during
the day at school

Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott – Book Review

by Jennifer L. Scott

Yes, another book review! The long winter was good for getting my reading up to date. Interestingly, I chose another book that reinforced what I learned from Overdressed. In Lessons from Madame Chic Jennifer Scott shares in this very readable book twenty secrets she learned while in Paris studying abroad from her native California. Jennifer covers insight she gleaned about various aspects of living while spending time with several Parisian families. She also shows how she incorporates these ideas into her life today as a young mother.

Ms. Scott wryly observes some of the differences between the French and American lifestyles – the French walk, Americans drive. The French take their meals a table, Americans eat in front of the TV. The French live in apartments without elevators, Americans work out at the gym, etc. But one of the author’s biggest surprises was that the French as a rule have very small wardrobes and no qualms about “outfit repeating”. Jennifer lugged suitcases stuffed with clothes to last her six months only to find out that a tiny free standing wardrobe was provided to store them in. Her host family (Monsieur, Madame and adult son Chic) had only a skeletal amount of clothing (roughly 12 pieces each) that they washed and wore over and over again. Their clothing all worked well together – all tops colour-coordinated with all bottoms so there was much versatility from few items. The capsule wardrobe of a dozen pieces changed with the seasons and did not include clothing for specific wear only. For instance – formal wear, exercise clothes, undergarments, layering pieces and accessories did not count toward the 12 pieces. The items were of high quality so stood up to repeated washings and wearings.

 

Sample Capsule Wardrobe
courtesy of Lucky Magazine

What nicely tied these two books together for me was that both authors encouraged the reader to buy (or make) fewer clothes but to choose items of higher quality. This makes good sense economically and practically and is greener for the planet, easier on the self (fewer choices to make) and more enjoyable (who doesn’t like higher quality?)

I’m a CCW (constant closet weeder) and found that I already subscribed to a capsule wardrobe. I have hanging in my closet (or ideally on a rolling rack) only items that I will be choosing my daily outfit from. I don’t  like to to see clothes that are  the wrong size, out of season or that no longer express my identity. On my last visit to Anthropologie I was pleased to see multiple copies of Ms. Scott’s book stacked high amongst their clothing. In fact, I’m planning to add this book to my own library. Jennifer has lots of other good lessons on how to live mindfully.

Keeping me busy now is planning my capsule wardrobe for Spring from my existing clothes. I’ve got a great denim jacket, some camo/flower skinny jeans with ankle zippers, tops in nautical stripes, a few items in a blushy pink and some new black moto boots. I can’t wait to put it all together! I think Jennifer and Madame Chic would approve.

 

 

Help! I’m sick of my winter clothes!

The inspiration for today’s post comes from a reader in the Ottawa, ON area.

Dear RealStyle:

Help! I’ve been wearing the same things since November and I’m sick of my winter clothes.

Can you suggest some updates for spring using my winter wardrobe?

~Heather F. Still Inside, Cold,  Kanata

Dear Heather aka SICK:

I share your pain! Speaking  for all Canadian women this year – we are sick of our winter clothes. And with today’s weather i.e. Freak Late Winter Snowstorm, even more so! Try these updates for spring without sacrificing warmth.

1. Coloured tights – Use these to break up a dark coloured outfit. Joe Fresh always has colourful tights in stock, or try some in bamboo or cotton.

2. Scarf – Tie a brightly coloured scarf around your neck or shoulders for instant relief from winter.

3. Shoes or booties – If the weather still has you wearing your winter boots to work, please take them off when you get there! Swap them for suede or leather pumps in a vivid colour, sweet ballet flats or open toed booties with coloured tights (see #1).

4. Sunglasses – Add instant allure and glamour with a pair of oversized sunnies. Tortoise shell is seasonless or go Gwen Stefani bold with red frames. Pretend you’re driving the Capri coast instead of the 400 series highways.

5. Brights/pastels you already own - Shop your closet for a pastel coloured sweater or a bright silk shirt. Use it as starting point for your outfit. Echo the colour with a bag or clutch in a similar tone.

6. Spring mani – Rescue your winter hands and embrace the Brazil Collection by OPI. Toucan If YouTry, I Just Can’t Cope-acabana, and Red Hot Rio are some vibrant nail colours that will lift your spirits.

7. A coral lip – From drugstore cheap to designer priced – there are lip pencils that work like crayons in all shades of pink, orange and coral. Get colouring!

8. Blue or pink eye liner – If you like to experiment with makeup – try an eyeliner in a pastel colour. Give your makeup a lift with a new pencil in a bold hue.

9. New undies – Never forget that what’s under your clothes can affect how you feel. Splurge on a matching bra and panties in colourful lace. You can still feel “springy” under your winter woolies!

10. Plan a spa day – If you like to DIY, plan an hour at home for a facial mask, bath and foot scrub. Or visit your favourite spa for a body scrub and polish away that winter skin.

Spring (or the Vernal Equinox) arrives March 20 at 12:57 pm EDT – a mere eight days from now! Meanwhile, stay warm.

~Fashionably yours,

Ann @RealStyle.ca

p.s.  Heather receives an OPI nail polish of her choice from RealStyle for her question.

Post or send me your fashion questions!

 

 

 

 

Overdressed by Elizabeth L. Cline – Book Review

 

This book will change the way
you think about clothes!

I was looking for Alexa Chung’s new book, It. The public library didn’t have it. The next best bet was Indigo. They had It, but as I thumbed through the book I quickly realized I would not be buying it.  Browsing the stalls in the fashion section one book title did jump out at me – OVERDRESSED the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion. I picked it up and a quick flip-through revealed not a picture in sight. A fashion book with no pictures? Hhhmm, this must be something more serious. The front cover boasts a quote by Katha Pollitt “OVERDRESSED does for T-shirts and leggings what FAST FOOD NATIONS did for burgers and fries.”  That’s quite a statement! Intrigued, I dropped a few hints and received the book as a Christmas gift.

When I finally sat down with it, I devoured the book! It was fascinating reading right from the first page, and were it not for a night’s sleep, I would have finished it in one sitting. Elizabeth Cline has done her research and knows her facts. From shamelessly opening her own closet to visiting clothing factories in China, she brings into question our values as a nation with her insights into our shopping habits.  Today’s society has been brought up to clothing shop for entertainment, purchase clothes they don’t need or wear and to amass wardrobes with hundreds if not thousands of pieces. Cline discusses the  impact that today’s disposable clothing has on the environment, how it virtually eliminated the garment industry in North America and how it is affecting the global economy.

Normally a book about economics would not interest me but I found this book easy to read and accurate in the conclusion it draws. Clothing (unlike some consumable items) has gone down drastically in price over the last hundred years. So has its perceived value. Consumers are now accustomed to buying clothes at the grocery store (thanks Joe Mimran) and seeing stores change their entire line-up of clothing every 4-6 weeks (thanks Gap). Clothing is manufactured cheaply in countries such as China, India and Bangladesh. Consumers refuse to pay higher prices for items of higher quality, content instead to purchase shoddily made clothing of inferior fibres that languish in closets unworn. Interestingly, with the ready availability of cheaply priced clothing, the price of hand made/couture/designer  or non mass-produced clothing has gone up. This has also driven up the price of vintage clothing.

People today have 3 – 10 times as many clothes as their grandparents did (just look in the closets of an 80 year old home). I find it hard to believe that my grandparents both hung their clothing on one one rail in one tiny closet. (That was before the days of California Closets!)

I am so glad that I read this book. It has made me realize that I should no longer settle for cheap clothing. Clothing is something that should be loved, worn and valued. When our wardrobes consist of cheap polyester items from H & M or Forever 21, we are not making wise and mindful choices. Armed with Ms. Cline’s knowledge I am more determined than ever to have fewer pieces of higher quality clothing. For more information buy or read the book or check out the website at www.overdressedthebook.com.

 

 

Its February!

Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope …Always stylish in white!

 

OK great, its February. What is so good about that you ask? We only have about 6 weeks left of winter, the days are getting sunnier and longer, but the best thing might be that the March issues are out! Which means we can start looking at spring fashion. Which means – spring is around the corner (which corner exactly??)!

I’ve been holed up inside, scanning as many magazines as I could to see what the designers are showing for more temperate weather. It will be so nice to lose the layers, coats and boots. Put on a sweater, snuggle up under a blanket and think warm thoughts of spring and summer.

These may not exactly be new -- but they are what’s trending now

 

The top 10 for Spring 2014  … 

  1. Flatforms – these flat but high shoes give height without heels and are easy to walk in
  2. Crop tops – dare to bare a slice of skin or layer it over something longer
  3. Mesh panels – see through, sexy, sporty, perforated leather
  4. Pastels – (yawn) this happens every spring and really only looks good on the fair skinned!
  5. Boyish footwear – oxfords, no laces, metallic, saddle shoes, especially worn with girly pieces
  6. Colour blocking (still going strong) – blues and oranges are nice together
  7. Varsity jackets – worn with ladylike accessories, structured bags and statement necklaces
  8. Florals and painterly brushstrokes –  especially nice on a dress
  9. Anything white – thank Olivia Pope from Scandal
  10. Rose gold – my personal favourite and a more flattering gold for some skin tones

Hanna Flatforms at Topshop

 

10 Crosby Derek Lam crop top
A favourite of the Lucky Magazine staff

 What are

you eager

to try out this Spring?

Secretly wondering if you should be on “Hoarders” ?

Hoarding shows on television have  become quite popular and have helped raise public awareness of Organizing as a profession. These programs show the worst case scenario of what can happen when you lose control of your possessions. Sadly, in real life, many people who have a problem with hoarding have experienced a trauma or life-changing event. Perhaps being organized wasn’t second nature to them, but they managed to get along in life okay. After a trauma or life-changing event this becomes much harder and/or impossible. When children are involved it becomes even more serious.

Please get professional help if you find yourself in this situation.

If you think you might be a hoarder there are quizzes you can try and a clutter scale to help you recognize where you are. Once a room or item can no longer be used for its intended purpose you know you’re getting into trouble. For example, you can no longer find a place to sit in the living room, so you sit on your bed. Or, the dining room table is piled so high with papers you eat standing over the sink. Or, you have duplicated your possessions because you can not find the originals.

 

Digging out (in some cases literally) from clutter can take hours, weeks and sometimes months before the desired outcome is reached. Besides, it didn’t get that way overnight. Burnout is high, decision making can be emotional and progress slow. If you have someone helping you it will be much easier and quicker. There are multiple health risks when one lives in a hoarding situation, safety being  just one of them.  Hire a Professional Organizer who has had experience with hoarding.  Don’t worry, they have seen this before and that is why they are in business.

Please don’t get discouraged.

It is darkest before the dawn, and coldest too. If you and your Organizer are working well together, you are going to get results and you will feel better. You’ll find things you forgot you had, often money and gift cards! Your sleep will be more refreshing, you will have more time in the day and performance will increase at work when you are organized and clutter free at home.

Progress not Perfection

No, you are never going to be as organized as your Professional Organizer. And he or she know that! What you are both striving  for is improvement and progress in the right direction – not perfection. Your Organizer will do what is right for you in your situation. Every individual is unique and solutions are custom.

Happy Organizing!

 

 

 

 

Getting organized for the holidays

Holiday season is just beginning, but the sooner you start, the easier it will be! I’m a firm believer in breaking big tasks down into smaller pieces. You can use these 12 strategies at Christmas to make it a little easier for yourself.

  1. Mark all family member’s social events on your paper or electronic calendar.
  2. Make note of the events you that require you to bring food. Plan your grocery shopping and baking in advance.
  3. Plan your wardrobe choices around your social events and try on outfits in advance.
  4. Make a list of all the people you need to shop for. As you get ideas, fill in the list. Then you will never be at the mall wondering what to get. Its much easier when you know what you’re after.
  5. Buy Christmas stamps now at the post office before they run out.
  6. If you didn’t get them on sale last year, try to purchase Christmas cards, wrapping paper and napkins on sale. You can always tuck them away for next  year.
  7. Schedule beauty and hair appointments if you didn’t already do so in September!
  8. Keep your regular schedule of gym and exercise. Its a great stress reliever.
  9. Volunteer, donate or help others – that’s what this season is about!
  10. Delegate – ask family members to help with decorating, card writing, cookie baking and enjoy some time together.
  11. Indulge in moderation – you deserve to enjoy yourself too.
  12. Revel in imperfection – sometimes the burnt turkey, mismatched slippers and forgotten presents are the best part!

Its early, but let me be the first to wish you a Merry Christmas!

 

 

Who’s wearing the pants?

jeggings-are-not-pants

Ladies, this one is for you! Today’s blog addresses one of my pet peeves and a clothing item most men find perplexing  … jeggings! Love ‘em or hate ‘em and call them what you will – leggings, jeggings, pleather, stretchy pants or stirrups – these are the ultimate comfort item for your bottom half. However many women seem to forget - jeggings are not pants - you must wear a top that covers your behind! Try a long sweater, oversized shirt, tunic, or even a dress. Otherwise it simply looks like you forgot to put pants on. Daily I see this Fashion Faux Pas being repeated. These pants are already sexy enough as they follow your form closely – you need a top that covers your rear to balance the look. Besides – as my mother would have said – why give a free show? Jeggings – are they for you?

Jegging  +Pluses

Comfortable

Forgiving

Slimming

Often black or denim blue so go with anything

 

Jegging  -Minuses

Shows every ripple, bulge and sag and your underwear

Needs to be washed to return to shape

Collects dust and fluff particles easily, no pockets

Prone to “camel toe” in front

 

If you’re not sure if what you’re wearing qualifies as pants or jeggings, just for fun you can try this quiz I found on Google images.

 

Even though I own several jeggings myself, I always make sure to wear a long top, shirt, tunic or sweater. Pass it on!

 

 

Mirror Mirror!

Everyone remembers those famous lines from Brothers Grimm’s Snow White “Mirror, Mirror on the wall – Who’s the fairest one of all?” Snow White’s stepmother, The Queen liked looking at herself in the mirror (mainly for confirmation – I think she was insecure!). Narcissus was another character from Greek mythology who liked his own reflection so much that he wasted away. Decorators love them! They capture light, visually expand spaces and reflect beauty. A huge, heavy framed mirror leaning against the wall is a classic and beautiful way to enhance your home’s surroundings. Ah – the mirror – who can resist them?

Courtesy of mirrorlot.com

Who can avoid them? Many of you, it seems! I consider myself fortunate that people trust me to come into their homes. I see their possessions, lives and values all around me. For that reason, most of what I see is confidential. But a common thread among the homes I’ve been in no matter what degree of organizing they need – is a lack of mirrors. I discussed this with a client and she said very insightfully, that people living without a full length mirror are not living in their bodies. It follows that an organized home (i.e. organic) should contain several mirrors at varying heights. Feng shui consultants can advise you on mirror placement in home or business for best results.

Organized closet dressing room with mirror.
Courtesy of Pottery Barn

 

MIRROR LOCATIONS 

1. Front hall – near the door – to check your hair, teeth and makeup. Smile as you go!

2. Bathroom – this room is usually small. A mirror can make it feel bigger and brighter. Mirror as much as you dare. A lit mirror with magnifier is a nice additional touch for facial closeups and shaving.

3. Bedroom or dressing room – two at least! A mirror to check your top half (accessories and hair) and VERY IMPORTANT – a full length mirror. 

4. Front hall (again!) – a full length mirror.

5. Other exit doors/additional bathrooms – a mirror please.

6. Garden – some people enjoy the addition of a mirror to a garden or patio area.

7. Anywhere – a starburst or sunburst mirror is always classic.

8. Over the mantle – antique or vintage – bevelled is nice.

9. In your purse – for a salad check after lunch.

10. Your car, locker, desk or workspace – another good place to stash a small mirror for checkups.

Why two full length mirrors? The first is so you can check your outfit as you get dressed. Its much easier to see if your top goes with your bottom if you can see the whole picture. The second one in the hall where you leave is so you can check your coat and footwear with your outfit.

Personally, I have a very hard time leaving the house if I can’t check my full reflection. I need to know there’s  no toilet paper, that my slip isn’t showing and that those pants don’t make my butt look big!

Please take care hanging your mirrors. Make sure you anchor them to the wall and use strong enough nails and wire. Enjoy the reflection!

 

Denim, s’il vous plait!

How’s your French? Did you know that the word “denim” comes from the French “serge de Nimes”? Serge is a tough double woven fabric originally made in Nimes, a port town in France. This tough indigo-dyed fabric was used to make pants for sailors long before it became the current rage. Levi Strauss added rivets for miner’s pocket and the rest, as they say, is history. Is there anything now that isn’t made of denim? Car upholstery, jackets, coats, suits, bags, shoes, wallets, placemats, furniture, trousers, dresses, skirts – you name it. Nowadays we shred it, sand it, distress it, over dye it, wax it, tie dye it, acid wash it and bleach it.

Levi Strauss … a sartorial legend

I remember my first pair, bought with money saved from babysitting at 50 cents/hour. Plotting against my mother who would not buy me a pair, I crept to K-Mart in secret and bought my first pair of Wranglers. In the 70’s there were plenty of bell bottoms to choose from, but mine were more of a straight leg and a size too big. When my mother discovered them, she of course freaked out and swore which was most uncharacteristic of her. “Those are for shovelling sh*t”, she said.  Jeans in her day were worn by work men to do farming and field work. “No lady would be caught wearing them in this house”.

Well, times have changed, and my mom has denim capris with a matching denim jacket,  and embellished jeans that look great on her. From designer to grocery store jeans there are all kinds of brands, washes,  colours and styles  - jeggings, skinnies, boyfriend, “mom”, bootcut, overalls, hip huggers, skinny kicks, flares and so on …  They make jeans for babies, kids, your dog and your grandpa.

Is there anything that isn’t made of denim?

How much denim to wear at one time is a frequent question. Canada leads the way for denim overkill with our infamous Canadian Tuxedo – the jean jacket worn with jeans. Fashionistas commonly agreed that if you do choose to wear head- to- toe denim, you should change your colours up a bit – mixing light with dark, or mixing fabric weights – chambray with a heavier jean. Colour blocking and denim patchwork are all over the stores for fall. It is hard to say that denim is “NEW”, but it is constantly being re-invented. With the addition of spandex denim has become more comfortable. Talented tailors can re-attach original hems preserving details and novelty stitching. There pretty much is a style for every body shape.

Some denim purists say you should not wash your denim … but I’m not really a member of that school of thought. I do turn my jeans inside out and take care which ones I put in the dryer. Usually I fluff them in the dryer first for a few minutes and then hang to fully dry.

I occasionally miss those days of my youth, sitting in the bathtub with a new pair of Levi’s trying to get the stiffness out, fade them somewhat and have them mould to my body while the water turned dark, dark blue…