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Archive for Wardrobe and Fashion – Page 2

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?

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…

 

Who is your best friend?

While some may answer that question with  ”my spouse”, “my mother” or a friend’s name – if you’re a Fashionista you need to be best friends with a tailor or seamstress. If you are fortunate enough to shop in very nice stores they will provide alterations for you (usually included in the price). Those talented with a needle and thread may wish to attempt hemming and small adjustments themselves. The rest of use must choose from malls that have  a shop or two that offer alterations. Those stores may be hit and miss – or may be fine for sewing buttons and replacing a zipper – but you really need a seamstress or tailor when you want your clothes to fit “just so”. Experiment cautiously, one garment at time or ask your friends or a shop owner for recommendations until you find someone who does a great job and you trust.

Red threads by Gutermann

In the olden days people’s clothes were bespoke (my new favourite word) or made to fit them. There weren’t stores with pre-determined sizes that you had to fit into – clothes were custom made to your body. It was only in the last 100 years or so that pre-made clothing was even available. Today, finding a garment that fits you off the rack is practically an accomplishment and something to be celebrated! Most of us need things tweaked to get the perfect fit – a waist nipped in – sleeves shortened – the bust darts let out, etc. Those small fixes are the things that can make a garment go from fitting you okay (good)  - to looking like it was made for you (preferable).

I knew I had found a great seamstress in Ranka Dabic, owner of Fine Threads in Jackson Square 905-667-1113 (near the Sheraton entrance) when she had me try everything on, mark both sides of the garment (we humans are lopsided) and was able to alter both mens and ladies wear expertly. This was confirmed for me when Oprah was in Hamilton for a speaking engagement earlier this year – and her team asked Ranka to alter Oprah’s dress!  Quite an honour and Ranka says they were a very nice group of people to work with!

Shop around until you find someone good and your clothes will never fit you better. A good shoe repair shop is another gem, and perhaps another blog topic!

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 Women

OK Ladies, summer (such as it is) is here!  You didn’t think I’d only pick on the men did you? Here are a few of my suggestions for looking  your best while staying cool this summer.

DON’TS

1. Wear low cut tops, especially at work. No-one appreciates seeing “the girls” in a business setting – they are highly distracting. Pay attention if you serve the public, you may be bending over a desk or counter and giving customers an eyeful. If the top or dress you have is low cut in front, invest in a camisole or wear a thin sleeveless T underneath. Or button a sweater or jacket over top. One of my pet peeves is showing bra straps. I don’t like them, enough said. Thank you.

2. Wear clunky white running shoes with business attire. I can’t believe I have to say this, but I saw it again last week (within an hour of the black over-the-knee-boots spotting, read on). OK, we get it – you commute to work and your tired tootsies can’t handle the uncomfortable shoes you wear during the day, but there are so many other cooler options than socks and shoes: ballet flats, non-athletic sneakers, deck shoes, moccasins, low heeled sandals, espadrilles. You can walk in comfort and be stylishly cool at the same time.

3. Wear pyjamas in public. Again, I can’t believe I still see this everywhere. Hamilton where is your shame? From north to south and east to west, there are Hamiltonians wearing their pyjamas in public. They may be taking the dog out for a quick walk – or picking up a fast coffee at Timmies – or dashing into the corner store. But if you have opened your front door and walked out it, you aren’t in your living room any more! Please wear underwear and clothes if you are in public and save your adorable PJ’s for your next pillow fight or sleepover.

DO’s

1. Check the mirror before you leave the house: That flowy light coloured sundress (a definite DO and I’ve seen so many of you wearing dresses lately!) could be see-through and no-one wants to see your undies as cute as they may be. Wear a slip if necessary, or nude skin toned panties.

2. Adjust your makeup: If your makeup routine is the same day after day, season after season, its time to  adjust! Since we usually get a little sun-kissed despite daily SPF usage, try peachy pink or coral shades for lips and cheeks. Ditch the heavy lipstick colours and slick on a gloss or my favourite, a tinted lipbalm with SPF from Burt’s Bees. Waterproof mascara is great for hot days – it has good staying power and lasts through unexpected floods, crying at weddings and general sweating.

3. Dress seasonally. Gone are the days when white was only donned between Victoria Day and Labour Day. Whites and creams can be worn all year round, it is the material that determines the season, not the colour. Again, stick to natural fibres for the coolest clothes – cotton, linen or hemp. (Silk, although natural, tends to be a bit warm for summer.) Conversely, black can be worn in the summer – but please, not in the form of over-the-knee-boots which I saw last week! If you like to keep it dark, get some black sandals or a black pedi.

Thanks Ladies, for letting me have my say – have a stylish summer wherever you are – and remember, looking good is the best revenge if you happen to need it!

 

 

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!

 

Why I love Dresses!

Dress by Desigual

I am a new convert to dresses and I’d like to win you over too! Until recently I’d always been a separates girl. When I had an office job I always wore a skirt or pants and a jacket. Dresses were something from the fifties to me – something my mother wore, kind of formal, something you couldn’t move in, something I avoided. Granted, dresses can be tricky - especially if your upper half and bottom half are very different in size. I think dresses have had a resurgence in popularity, partly due to the popularity of the Mad Men series. Banana Republic has done several collections inspired by the costumes worn by the ladies on the show. Vintage dresses were in abundance at the Vintage Marketplace at the Hamilton Convention Centre in April. And White Elephant on James St. North just featured a special collection of vintage dresses brought in for a Trunk show in May. Some of my favourite dresses are from Desigual and preloved.
Here’s why you should give dresses a try!
1. A LBD is your best friend. You can wear it to both formal and sombre occasions. Choose something knee length, not too low cut with not too many details. You will look appropriate and will not stand out in a bad way. The same little black dress can take you from weddings to funerals with the right shoes, jewellery and accessories.
2. A LPD or LWD (little pink or little white) can be your second best friend. Again, the accessories are key to creating the look you want – be it business like or for sipping lemonade in the back yard.
3. Dresses are slimming. Why? Because they form a clean visual line and generally don’t chop you across the middle like some separates can.
4. Dresses don’t need to match anything. In fact – a really great dress often looks greater with shoes or a bag that don’t exactly match. Think same colour family – or opposite the colour wheel for a real pop!
5. Dresses are cool. In warm weather I don’t think anything is cooler than a long cotton maxi dress and sandals. Don’t forget the sunhat, sunscreen and sunglasses.
6. Dresses are feminine. In our North American culture you will never be mistaken for a male if you wear a dress. Even if you are not a “girly girl” a dress can make you feel more feminine, which in turn makes “him” feel more masculine.
7. Dresses are comfortable. No tops coming untucked, belts to unbuckle, pants that are too tight, tops to match to bottoms, etc. Just put it on and do it up and you’re practically ready to go!
8. Dresses are forgiving. They can hint at a silhouette and show a woman’s shape without being skin tight. Dresses can glide over areas that aren’t your favourites.
9. Dresses show your legs. You can control how much, but a woman’s lower leg is a pretty safe way to show a little skin.
10. A jacket over a dress looks business like and conveys a sense of authority.
Oh, and one last reason – they swoosh! Yeah, they move a little when you walk!