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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!

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.

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.

 

 

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

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.

 

 

Big Bamboo!

Why Big? This miracle grass is sustainable, regrows without replanting and is the fastest growing woody plant on earth. It can be grown without pesticides and herbicides, so its organic. It is strong, durable, soft and smooth. It both dyes and drapes well. It can be eaten (bamboo shoots), drank (beer, tea, wine) and used to make furniture and flooring. You can use bamboo to make toilet tissue, coffee filters and even biofuel. It has insulating properties, so will keep you cool in summer, warm in winter. The two Pandas at the Toronto Zoo eat bamboo as the mainstay of their diet, going through approximately 10-15 kilos daily of the 50 that is offered to them. The bamboo incidentally, is air shipped by Fed Ex in a refrigerated container from Memphis, Tennessee!

( Pandas love bamboo and eat large amounts daily

So what’s new, Bamboo? Its BREATHABLE! This may be more of interest to my female readers who experience sweaty nights, but bamboo sleepwear is becoming more popular and easier to find. Nationwide one of the first retailers I knew of to carry bamboo sleepwear was Soma (in the Chico’s family of stores).  I recently bought some beautiful soft mint green bamboo pyjamas at Ecomystic  (136 James Street South) in Hamilton made by Yala.  The store has a nice selection of bamboo and organic cotton items. I slept very restfully and the pj’s breathed nicely!  I’ve also purchased bamboo footless tights, a bra top and V-neck T shirts (that are great for working out) made by C’est Moi at Dakota Mae in Westdale.  There are lots of other items in the C’est Moi collection. The bra top came in very handy when I need to get an MRI (your own clothing can be worn as long as there is no metal in it). Of course, now that there are bamboo pyjamas and clothing, sheets can’t be far behind! Yes, I’ve seen a few sets on my travels and I’m eager to try them.

In Asian countries bamboo grows easily and it has been used to make houses, bridges, hats and musical instruments for centuries. Bamboo’s long life makes it a Chinese symbol of longevity; in India it is a symbol of friendship while in Vietnam “bamboo is my brother” – according to a proverb. Around the globe certain varieties of bamboo are being planted in North America.  Maybe someday you’ll be bathing in a bamboo bathtub, pedalling a bamboo bicycle or buying your grandchildren a bamboo skateboard. Meanwhile, enjoy all the things this new/old plant has been providing to earthlings for thousands of years.

Summer do’s and don’ts for Men

Men, this column is for you! Summer arrives on Friday and although the season is short, it can be filled with fashion challenges. You may have a vacation to pack for, a wedding or Stag & Doe to attend, BBQ’s with friends, a romantic date with your girl … and you still need to look fresh for work when its 35C degrees in the shade. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

DO’s

1. Bust out the summer clothes – lighter colours and fabrics will keep you cooler and help your skin breathe. Look for linen, cotton, hemp, bamboo or a combination of these fibres. Avoid polyester blends – they tend to keep the heat in. If your office dress code calls for suiting – there are nice options available in lightweight wool. Complete your look with a crisp white shirt or some nautical stripes and a skinnier tie. Seersucker and pinstripes are timeless classics. The Bay has many great options for men and some excellent sales.

2. Wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen - hats are cool! And they keep you cool! And protect your precious head from sunburn. Sunglasses protect your eyes and prevent squint wrinkles. The right frames for your face can make you instantly cooler. Use plenty of sunscreen and re-apply after swimming or two hours sun exposure. If you do not like to use sunscreen (some do not like the chemicals they contain), wear long sleeves and pants and seek shade. A sunburn is dangerous and never attractive.

3. Cover the tats. Pretty or not, most tattoos do not have a place at work.  Wear long sleeves – your co-workers will think you are such a fashion piece!

DONT’s

1. Wear the same thing over and over – have  some fun with your clothes.  Summer colours are brighter, styles are somewhat more relaxed. Swap your winter “uniform” for something  that says summer. Capris and shorts are OK. Lose the socks. And never wear socks with sandals.

2. Let it all hang out - sorry guys, but we ladies don’t like gnarly, dry feet, excess hair of any kind or the shirtless! There is no crime in having a pedicure to prepare your feet for summer – yes, someone is prepared to offer this service. Get thee to a spa! If you are the hirsute type – the same said spa probably provides waxing. And really, we don’t want to see  you shirtless unless you are in reasonably good shape and we are all at the beach..

3. Wear Flip Flops – unless you are at the beach, in the backyard or on vacation. Its my personal pet peeve, but I don’t like men in flip flops. I think it looks sloppy and unprofessional. There are so many sexier summer options to flip flops – try deck shoes, canvas or leather non-athletic sneakers or some espadrilles.

If you need some advice with an outfit, or someone to help you shop, I’m available. Send me a photo and I’ll offer you some free on-the-spot advice. Text your message or photo to 289-244-8774. Have a fashionable summer!

 

Sheets! by Ann Morrison Tufts

Coventry Toile by Decor Mfg. Co, Toronto.

As a former Chambermaid (in my teens) I know a thing or two about sheets. Back when I was snapping sheets in Banff, we usually changed the sheets every night, like most hotels did. It always seemed to be a big waste of money, not to mention a lot of work to do daily, in hotels all around the world. Thank goodness that has changed!

January is the time of year when most ”White Sales” are held. After Christmas many people are busy re-feathering their nests, re-arranging their home interiors, staying warm and supposedly buying sheets! After you’ve rid your linen closet of any pilled, mismatched, ripped or stained sheets you may decide a new set is just what you need. A few things to consider:

1. Buy cotton! I prefer 100% cotton, the higher thread count the better. Cotton mixed with polyester does give additional durability/wash-ability, but I like the feel of cotton next to my face. Look for Egyptian cottons with the highest thread count you can find, linen/cotton blends, cotton flannel, or even 100% silk if you don’t mind a bit of sliding around!. Other good words to look for on the package are combed cotton or sateen. I currently have a set of gold Egyptian 800 count sheets. They are so plush and heavy, I can hardly lift them when they are wet! They ensure a cosy night’s sleep.

2. Beware micro fibre sheets! That is just another way of saying they are made from 100% polyester. They won’t breathe, get static electricity and wash poorly. Take a pass.

3. Change  ‘em! No, its not your imagination – you do have a better sleep on clean sheets. Some of the scents used in laundry detergents, especially anything with lavender help promote sleep. Be your own chambermaid and change sheets weekly. Hang to dry outside if you can, for even more freshness. Iron if you dare!

We spend approximately 1/3 of our lives in bed – get some great sheets!

~Ann