Monday, July 30, 2012

She Wears The Pants. And The Shirt.

This week, it is still all about the pants here at Highland Fashionista HQ. Some of you will have read last week's post about how I have transcended my former insecurities about wearing an interesting, if not outright loud pant. Lately, I have come to the realisation that I have been neglecting pants altogether, even though I wear them pretty much every day.  Like so many of us do, I have just been reaching for the same old pair of skinny jeans, day after day....okay, maybe with the occasional boot cut thrown in, and pairing it with an interesting top. When I shop, it is almost always the top half of my body that gets all the love, and the bottom stays clad in that same old pair of skinny jeans. So this past week has been a bit of a revolution here at HQ, and I feel like my closet has been expanded tenfold with just a change of mindset. Liberation!

I have had these pants for some months now. I got them on sale, as I really liked the rock and roll look that they give off, without the discomfort, price tag, or giggle-inducing reference of a leather pant.  Remember that Loverboy album called "Get Lucky" from the 80's? The red leather pants? Yeah. Me too. Somehow that seared itself into my mind at a young age, and I find myself thinking of that every time I am confronted by a pair of leather pants. So I like the fact that these are cotton.

Coated black jeans from LaRedoute
They're shiny cotton denim!

But something so edgy really needs something feminine to pair with it for balance, as to not look like you are channelling Ozzy just to go out for drinks and canap├ęs with some friends (unless that's your thing).  But this is where I fall down a bit. I am not much of a frilly, hyper-feminine gal. I prefer my feminine touches in the form of fabrics (silk) or texture (beads or other bohemian embellishments) rather than the full-on Little Bo Peep. So I have not given these pants their play-time as I should, because I have been at a loss...thinking I needed something so very delicate and frilly to go with it, but yet something that would not look too dressy. Today, when I was putting away the laundry, I realised that the answer was right there in front of me, in amongst my husband's freshly-ironed shirts. How easy is that!?

My husband's short sleeved Marks and Spencer cotton dress shirt. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olympic Threads

Look, I know that by now we have all seen at least some incarnation of the Olympic national outfits. There are some clear winners in the fabulousity department, as well as some that will…well….how shall I put this….will surely keep the polyester industry from going under this quarter.

The opening ceremonies are underway in the background as I write this. Personally, I find the whole ceremonial concept a bit heavy-handed this time around. Kenneth Branagh in mutton chops and a top hat (!?), James Bond giving the Queen a lift to the games (cool, if not a bit superfluous), those chimneys, that….wait….are those sheep!?

I appreciate the challenges Danny Boyle must have faced in his effort to capture something as broad as the history of the UK, and portray it in his trademark high-concept way. Yet it all seems just a bit disjointed and off-message to me. Assuming of course, that the message is that athletes from widely varying backgrounds and circumstances will unite on UK soil, bound-together by a common love of sport and hosted by a nation with a rich history. Of course, I may have just assumed that wrongly. Perhaps this year the message is that Great Britain corners the market on dapper tailoring, livestock, and period dramas, in which case I support the effort in its entirety, as the message is spot-on. Although the Italians might have something to say about the tailoring bit.

So. Speaking of tailoring, lets look at some of the national outfits for the athletes, shall we?

Ten Notable Olympic National Outfits from the London Summer Games Opening Ceremony, Class of 2012, In No Particular Order
photos courtesy of Yahoo

1. Best Example of Understated Chic Minimalism  - Denmark

Designed by Bestseller, a Danish retailer that I will surely be visiting in the future.

2. Most Likely to be Mistaken For An Elderly Member of a Bus Tour Group

This one was a close race, resulting in a tie between....

Windbreakers. Not pictured: the orthopaedic shoes and the Kleenex tissues stuffed up the sleeves.
Designed by Bogner

and New Zealand
Boxy jackets, frumpy dresses, a dreary print in a morose palette...but they have nice smiles.
Designed by Rodd and Gunn's Irena Prikryl

Friday, July 27, 2012

An Invitation To The Pants Party

As usual, I’m late to the party. To be exact, I’m late to the “pants party” (to quote Steve Carrell’s character from the epic American masterpiece Anchorman). Admittedly, I have been standing outside the pants party, staring longingly in through the window for quite some time now.  And today, I finally made my entrance. I went and scored me some hot pink pants.

Colourful Skinny Jeans fron New Look
and only 16.99 GBP - about what you want to pay for a pair of hot pink pants!

Colourful denim, while a very large trend right now, is certainly not a new trend. Up until today I had been trying to sort out exactly how I feel about colourful denim. Sure, I have owned the odd pair of Nantucket reds here and there, maybe some white jeans for summer. That’s the easy stuff.  No, what I’m talking about here are the colours that are serious about their commitment to fun: fuchsia, teal, yellow, mint. Those colours.  The colours of our childhoods, and oddly, the colours that strike paralytic fear into the neutral-loving hearts of most adults.

Now, I am not an anxious person, nor am I particularly self-conscious (clearly). I don’t fear my age, I don’t hate my body, and I stand firmly behind my philosophy of wearing what suits you, not what you (or others) think is “age appropriate.”  But for some reason, until today, the thought of putting on a pair of bright fuchsia pants made me start to break out in a sweat and scan the room for the nearest fire escape. Can I actually wear a pair of hot pink pants at forty and not look like a complete nutjob?


Okay. Just kidding….were you scared? Me neither. And that is pretty much how this whole thing got started. I went to the store and simply put the pants on…..and nothing happened. Then I walked around a little bit….still nothing. I went outside the dressing rooms and even talked to some people I knew. All good. So, to answer my previous question, can I wear hot pink pants at forty and not look like a nutjob; I am happy to report that the answer seems to be yes. Yes, I can wear them, that is. Not yes, I am a nutjob. That is a different post, for a different day

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chuckin' It Doon....

I know I shouldn't complain. By and large, we have had a wonderful summer here in Scotland. But today, on my day off, no less,  I am contemplating building an arc. It is seriously raining. Chuckin' it doon' as they say over here.

A while back I had written about my having purchased a bright, chartreuse cashmere sweater for days just like this.  This one, remember?

Equipment cashmere sweater
photo Moda Operandi

Well, that sweater arrived, and it was my intention to feature it in a post today, showcasing how easy it is to bring a little sunshine into one's life with just a burst of colour.

But I can't even get outside long enough to take a decent bloomin' photograph.

My burst of colour and me waiting for the rain....not so patiently.....
Equipment cashmere sweater, Seven For All Mankind jeans, Zara heels.

And I have come to the conclusion that it is not going to stop. Possibly ever. So I ran outside to try to get it all in the shot, rather haphazardly I'm afraid, for fear of drowning in my own front garden.


And of course, the shoes (as above)

What I will say for this sweater is that it is like a security blanket. Warm, soft, and cozy. The cashmere is a lovely quality, and it feels amazing against the skin. Yes, this is a rather simple way of dressing, an oversized, slouchy sweater and some skinny crops underneath, but this is about comfort dressing, and simplicity is exactly what one needs when contemplating her own demise by the gradual watery immersion of the island on which she lives.  Seeing as though I live in Scotland, I imagine you'll be seeing this sweater quite a lot.

I am also thinking about styling this sweater thusly.

Clockwise from bottom left: Equipment sweater, some black and white loafers like these Marc Jacobs loafers,
a fitted white shirt like this Hawes & Curtis shirt,  and some dress shorts like these Ted Baker shorts.

And while the rest of you are undoubtedly still sweltering in the July heat, I would maintain that it is never too early to add a bright piece of cashmere to your cache. Though I realise that not everybody has to deal with apocalyptic weather conditions in July as we do here in Scotland,  I suppose there is always the looming threat of over-zealous air conditioning to consider.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A (Very) Brief Ode To A Lobster

I absolutely love the fashion house Tibi. Their clean, modern cuts combine beautifully with prints that make you go woo-hoo, and always with a reference or two to the natural world.  So it should come as no surprise that I went completely berserkatroid-nutso when this crossed my path early last week.

Lobster Easy Dress by Tibi, resort 2013 collection
currently at Moda Operandi

I love this. Absolutely love it. And that is precisely why I am not going to talk about it for very long. I suspect a lot of people love this dress too. Fashion lovers being the wiley and intuitive bunch that they are will already have in their heads what I am about to put to paper. Or screen, as it were.

The lobster is not only known as a clasically preppy icon of easy childhood summers in New England aboard one's yacht (as one does when one grows-up landlocked in the middle of Wisconsin). Nay, it is not only a motif to be worn on a plastic bib or embroidered upon a seersucker pantleg. It is also a motif that has a long and glorious history, perhaps best remembered in this incarnation.

Elsa Schiaparelli's famous 1937 collaboration with Salvador Dali created the Lobster Dress

So there it is then. I will press the issue no more. It's back. And I'm in the mood for shellfish. The end.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Discover Boutine

A while back, I was contacted by the people at, an e-commerce website that showcases the pieces of emerging designers via social networking. Me being me, I ignored their initial email, thinking it another product for post type of thing, and went about my business. Although I am fairly new to the blogosphere, I am quite protective over what type of content I put on my wee blog, lest every post read like an advert for this, that, and the other thing. You know what I mean. We've all seen it, and lets face it...nobody likes a sellout.

So. I am happy to report that my initial impression was dead wrong,  and despite popular opinion, the Highland Fashionista is not opposed to being wrong once in a while. Not only is Boutine a lovely forum for emerging designers to exhibit their wares, but it is one heck of a lot of fun.  Using the Boutine software on the site, you can put together collections of the items the designers have for sale, post them to your profile, and via social media, share them with your friends, readers, or whomever you choose.  It is really interesting to see what other people put together, and you get to meet and network with other bloggers, stylists, and various and sundry other fashion-obsessed members of the population.

Here, have a look at what you can do. I'm telling you, its fun!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Steal Some Fashion Mojo

My favourite moments of fashion inspiration are the ones that drive you towards things that are already there. This week, during one of my many daily browses of the internet, I found some inspiration that was waiting for me, lurking in the tall grasses of the Austrailian designer Dion Lee's Resort 2013 collection. 

Dion Lee Resort 2013
photos courtesy Moda Operandi

When something fashion-related makes me pause and pay attention for a minute, as this did, I know that I have found something that is essentially me, and I set about deconstructing it. Granted, this particular look is not exactly statement dressing, but then sometimes the statement that you wish to make is that you want to look quietly chic, and nothing more.

There is something about the simplicity of the lines and the modern mix of navy and black that struck a chord with me. It struck me to the point where I decided to try to suck out its very essence and claim it for my own. To steal its mojo, as Austin Powers would say.  With apologies to Dion Lee, I admit that I did not buy the complete looks. Or any part of them, actually. If I‘m lucky, I may secure a few well thought-out, keep-forever runway pieces in a year, but for the most part, my ingrained pragmatic nature will simply not let me spend $300 on a t-shirt. So like any budget-minded gal, I decided I would simply steal the essence of the look with the help of some things that I already have in my own closet.

Seven for all Mankind pants, H&M tank, All Saints sandals

As above with Gap jacket

Monday, July 16, 2012

In Or Out: 10 Things I Will Always Love, No Matter What

I realised yesterday, after making a lighthearted  Revenge of the Nerds reference at work, that I have become that person in the room who makes pop culture references that are completely lost on the twenty-somethings. This is not a sudden realisation mind you. When this first started happening, I put it down to cultural separation from my American vernacular combined with my current geographical location. No, I now realize that it has less to do with a lack of British appreciation for iconic American pop culture masterpieces such as Revenge of the Nerds, and everything to do with the fact that I’m just freakin’ forty.

But seriously, It’s Revenge of the Nerds people…. come ON! It’s a classic! The masking tape between the glasses? Where does everyone think that came form? Anyone?......Anyone?  (sigh)

But instead of resigning myself to the beginning of the end of my reign of hipness, skulking around and waving my stick, shouting to anyone within earshot about how in the 90’s we had rock stars who wore flannel and had real angst, not pre-pubescent 13 year-old boys with more money than sense….instead of doing that, I will simply gather myself and do what I do best. I will be defiant. But still chic too....naturally,  of course.  Defiantly chic.

Turning my thoughts to defiance in fashion,  I wonder if  my "inness" or "outness" also has an expiration date similar to my pop culture references. Will my fashion tastes become irrelevant in the eyes of the "it" generation? Just about every fashion rag out there has a running piece that addresses this; Do’s and Don’t’s, Keep, Wear, or Toss…a moveable fashion barometer of personal hipness that is in place to supposedly guide us through the constantly-changing seasons. Can I still wear my skinny jeans with stilettos, or is it brogues now? What about flares? Do I really have to wear white-framed sunglasses (again)?!

All in all, asking myself these questions made me less self-conscious about the social relevance of my sartorial choices, and more aware of the things that are essentially me.  Therefore...

The Highland Fashionista’s Top Ten Fashion Items That She Will Always Keep On Hand, No Matter What.

10. Vampy Nail Polish

photo courtesy detroit mommies

It doesn't have to be the Chanel Vamp varnish that set the 90's on fire, goodness knows that there are plenty of good permutations out there, but there is just something about that red/black shade that manages to be both edgy and sophisticated at the same time. A little more dangerous than your standard-operating red, and really amazing on your toes (I tend to save the fingers for special nights out). Some budget-friendly options include Orly nail polish in Mind's Eye (#40422)SinfulColors nail polish in Burgundy Apple, and my personal favourite,  Revlon nail enamel in Vixen.  

9. A Good Jeans Jacket

Michael Kors cropped Denim Jacket, J Crew skirt, New Look tank, honora pearls.

They go in, they go out. But this will always be a staple in my closet. We are currently seeing them trending again, although perhaps not quite as heavily as last season. In a classic cut and fitted style, they will always be around. I love it as a warm-weather holiday jacket, as they always look cute over a sundress or shorts and a tee with pearls, taking care to avoid the Texas Tuxedo look. Here are some lovely options from Esprit and Fornarina .

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Smoky Eye + Gray Hair...Doable?

The smoky eye has always been my standby eye makeup artillery for those occasions when you need to churn out the Big Serious Glamour. Mostly black-tie stuff, evening know, fancy-schmancy stuff.  But as more and more of my natural silver hair grows-in, I find that overall, less is more in the makeup department.  So it follows that when Elle UK did a piece on the easy, 3-step smoky eye in their August issue, I panicked a little. Where do I stand in my relationship with the smoky eye? Am I going to have to give it up? (unlikely) It has been a while since I pulled-out the whole evening smoky eye arsenal, and I must say I was ready for an opportunity to see if I could still rock it.

So for those of you who, like me, are wondering if  the smoky eye is still a viable option for you, or are perhaps wanting to try it on for the first time,  this instalment is for you.  The Highland Fashionista will be road-testing the Elle 3-step "Headline" smoky eye, so that you don't have to. For science, of course.

Any of you who are subscribers to Elle UK and wish to follow-along,  you may turn to page 77 in your beauty hymnals now.

The first step was to gather the materials I would need. Because I don't own any grey cream eyeshadow, I settled on using a champagne cream highlighter by MAC as a base, and using my charcoal powder over the top.

CQ  eyeshadow in Charcoal (discontinued), MAC Paint Pot in Bare Study

Black Expressions Kajal Eyeliner Pencil by Maybelline

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Casual Pearls: Rocking The Single Strand

I absolutely love pearls. Ultimately, I suppose I'm drawn to the idea that they are a natural occurrence that results in something so unique and beautiful.  Wikipedia defines the creation of a pearl as the oyster's defense mechanism against irritating invaders and parasites. Don't you wish the rest of us were so lucky? Can you imagine how great it would be for us pearl lovers to have a wee pearl or two pop out of your ear every time you were irritated by an irritating invader or a parasite? Wouldn't that be freakin' amazing?!  Some days, I imagine I would be raining pearls nonstop. People would be falling all over the place, and it would be awesome. But I digress.

The thing of it is, that despite my love for this most classic of classics, I find myself struggling with how to wear my beloved single-strands. Sure, it seems like a no-brainer, but every time I get dressed for an occasion, fully intending on finishing my look with just a single strand, I buckle. When I am dressed in say, a cocktail dress or even dressed for a wedding, I always feel that wearing a single strand with my dress seems a bit too prim to be truly me. So I usually take it off again and go with a pair of 9mm pearl or gemstone studs and maybe a cocktail ring or bracelet instead. I guess I feel that this way I am still minimalistic with my accessories (which I like), but not feeling like such a foregone conclusion.

As a result, I have taken to wearing my single strands casually. And I'm not talking business casual or even "elegantly casual" (as they say on the cruise ships), I mean cas-u-al. Like, flip-flop casual. I love my pearl strands with a t-shirt, an informal button-down, or a tank. I like the juxtaposition of high-low, and to be honest, if you find yourself in a "social pinch", all you really need to do is add a jacket or cardi and change your shoes (maybe) and you could be camera-ready, more or less.

Honora rondel-pearl necklace. See a similar one here.

Cotton t-shirt LaRedoute. See a similar one here. Diamond studs my own.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Quick Turnaround: One Skirt, Two Ways

I wanted to create a casual sort of look for those summer days when there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day; something that could go from running around town to dinner with friends in one fell swoop, eliminating the last minute getting ready frenzy that often culminates in not having enough time to dry your hair, put on a fresh coat of makeup, or (forgive me) brush and floss.

And it just so happens I have been watching a lot of tennis lately (recurring theme alert).  I love the classic, preppy inspiration of the tennis court and the influence it has had on fashion over the years.

As is often the case, I had some stuff in my closet already that enabled me to put together the kind of look I was envisioning. Go figure.  Apparently I should do this more often.

So.  A classic, preppy, runnin' around doin' stuff summer look for day.

Lacoste sleeveless polo, Limited poplin skirt (old), H&M belt, LaRedoute leather sandals

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Genetically Enhanced Shopping: The Thrift Store Gene

The women in my family all have been born with a gene that codes for thrift store shopping. This gene, in addition to being a budget-friendly gal's best friend, expresses pure hunting and gathering adrenaline, supplying us with an endless amount of stamina when it comes to rifling through racks at consignment and charity shops, in search of the elusive great white whale of bargains. We all do it. It's in us.  I was out and about the other day, and without even intending to do so found this cropped houndstooth jacket and pair of open-toed wedges. These two items cost me about twelve pounds.

Cotton and wool houndstooth jacket by Next (4.99 GBP),  brand- new leather
"Wonder" lace-up wedge shoes by Urban Outfitters (6.99 GBP), H&M shorts and tank.

As with any genetically-inherited gift, to really be able to make the most of it, it must be cultivated. To assume that the DNA does all of the work is to deny the genetically-enhanced shopper her due. In our family, this set of hunting skills was passed-down by our mother,  who would lead her cubs out into the Salvation Army Serengeti to demonstrate how it was done. We watched, we tried our hand, often fought with each other, sometimes got bored, but eventually, we were ready.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It's July, Time To Make The Mittens

First of all, a heartfelt happy 4th of July to all of my fellow Americans out there,  no matter where you may be. If you, like me, live here in the UK, your day will be likely absent of the numerous opportunities for fireworks, potato salad, and bottles of beer that dominate the 4th of July atmosphere back home. Needless to say, the celebration of American independence from British rule is not a widely-celebrated holiday over here in the UK. Go figure.  We've got the beer thing down though, thankfully.

But while the rest of you are basking in the warm glow of summer, taking in a barbecue or perhaps just sitting in your sun-lounger with a Long Island iced tea in your hand (sigh), the Highland Fashionista is busy focusing on another of her recreational summer activities. Today, I finished knitting some wooly mittens.

The Sharapova mitts - more on the name in a minute

I realise that most of you are likely sweltering away in 100-degree July heat, and that my very mention of something wooly has just given you cause to look skyward fan yourselves even harder than you already were doing when you starting reading this post.  But if you have been following Wimbledon this year, where windy conditions prevail and play has been stopped and matches suspended repeatedly for rain, you will know what I am talking about.  It is because of this that I make an effort to inject some sunshine and colour into my otherwise bleak day, and I knit. Because nothing says summer in Scotland like a pair of bright fuchsia mitts.  Look, even people who were lucky enough to go to Wimbledon were inspired by the crapola weather enough to want to knit something wooly.

Knitting during the Murray-Baghdatis match
Photo courtesy BBC & The Daily Mail

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Under The Knife: Building A Better Bag

A while back, my husband gave me this bag (which I love) from Ness of Scotland.

Ness tweed and leather "Missy" mini bag. They make them in a variety of colours. 

 I love this bag, love the colour, but find myself not using it. The strap falls at an "in-between" place, kind of like when you are growing out your hair and can't to a thing with it.  It seems to always be in the way, but yet you can't bear to part with it.  It is perhaps a strap length that is reminiscent of the 90's, when mini bags were everywhere and the Fendi Baguette Bag reigned supreme.

So today, I have finally decided to so something about it. I am taking pro-active action against my awkward bag strap once and for all.  My Ness bag is going under the knife.

So.  I started in my husband's tool shed, braved the bird droppings and the threat of stepping on something that my cat has recently dispached, and armed myself with some tools to complete the procedure.

Needle-nosed pliers (all rusted...and they used to be mine...I must remember to talk to him about that...), epoxy glue to take care of any wayward ends, and a small scissors from my knitting bag ( I don't usually need a childproof scissors,  I think they were airplane friendly or something), and lastly, a Chanel-esque belt that I got at New Look for about five pounds.  Not pictured: cafe latte. For me.