Sunday, September 29, 2013

Camo And Cashmere

If I had stayed in the U.S. Air Force, that's probably what I would have named this blog, even though I'm pretty sure there's probably already one with that name floating around out there somewhere. But you have to admit, Camo and Cashmere has a nice ring to it.  

These trousers were on that sale rack at the Gap; you know, the one in the middle of the store where nearly everything is £20 or under.  I loved them when I tried them on, which is odd considering I used to have to wear BDU's, the battle dress uniform of fatigues, in the exact same pattern. Never mind, there are cuter, and they fit really well, so it was insta-love. When I got to the checkout, I asked the guy to scan them, as all of the otter trousers had a red sale tag, yet these didn't. He sheepishly said that these were still full price, and that it was all of the other camo pants that were on sale, but would I consider buying them for 50% off if I joined the email mailing list? 

Gap... you sleekit wee devils. You know exactly what you are doing. Not only did you get my ex-Air Force arse into a pair of camo trousers, you nearly did so at full price. That never happens. I am seriously considering adding a "hoodwinked" tag to the blog's index, to slot in right alongside "bargains" and "thrifting". 

But awesome pants though. Not sorry. 

The Stuff

Friday, September 27, 2013


This outfit was sort of built around the blouse, which I recently found on sale at Forever 21 for £10. The blouse is sort of an all in one look with the black and white motif and prim collar, and I feel like I have to resist the urge to just pair it with a white skirt or trousers and call it a day. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it's just that a shirt like this can read very buttoned-down. I would probably normally wear this with a pair of distressed boyfriend jeans to keep myself from looking like Mrs Hughes, the spinster head housekeeper on Downton Abbey, or maybe Winona Ryder circa Mermaids, but you've seen me do this a million times, and I do not wish to bore you to death.

In retrospect, I don't think that having this shirt tucked-in gives my boxy, athletic frame enough of a waistline, and I would probably let it hang loose and flowy (it hangs just to the hip) and put an unexpected pair of chunky, 90's-inspired loafers with it (think Alexander Wang shoes). That would probably modernise it somewhat. But this is what I came up with in the moment. A simple look with a few unexpected textures thrown in for good measure. It would work for the office…if only I worked in an office.

The Stuff

Shoes SM New York (old), similar for a steal

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Five Easy Pieces

The blogosphere is all atwitter with talk of the shows and fall transition dressing. As much as those of us who get weak in the knees for fashion would love to purchase a whole new wardrobe at the start of each new season, unless your surname is Rockefeller (the real Rockefeller, not like that guy who fooled everyone out in the Hamptons), purchasing a whole new wardrobe each season is not exactly an attainable strategy.

The good news is, you don't have to completely revamp everything at the start of a new season to give  your wardrobe an infusion of freshness. Sometimes, just a few key pieces are all you need to keep things looking current.  Here are five wardrobe items that I plan on adding to my own cache to keep things lively this fall.


A Modern Sweatshirt


Statement Flats: The Shoe of the Season


The New Coats


The Trapezoidal Tote


Stackable Rings: More is More

Make it Happen

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Anti-Tux

I have finally gotten over my fear of white jackets. Anyone who has ever worked a job where there are a lot of lab coats involved likely has suffered from a similar aversion. Now that we are no longer wearing lab coats at work, I have finally started feeling some faint white jacket longing pains that have grown slowly over time.  I found this particular specimen stuffed at the back of a rack in a Minneapolis consignment store. Presumably hidden by someone. As if. Silly person…there is simply no hiding from me when it comes to thrifting. I knew this jacket was in the store long before I saw it. Let's just say I felt a disturbance in the force. I have a third eye you see…sort of like that Sauron thing in Lord of the Rings, only with slightly less fire on most days. 

I like this look, the casual deconstructed jacket with a tee look, for days when you don't need to be Dressed, but still feel like being dressed. I like the juxtaposition of the tux jacket with more casual, tougher pieces. The tee and distressed jeans keep things casual, the shoes make sure everyone knows you can still kick ass. This particular tee you may remember as my commemorative whale tee, purchased from Etsy after a sperm whale swam into the waters in front of our house. He was there for a few days, and found his way out of the sound again and back out to sea. Here's to you, whale. Represent. 

The Stuff

Thrifted jacket, originally Forever21

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Guest Post: Styling your Jewellery with Your Eveningwear

When Tariq, who represents a silver jewellery retailer, contacted me and asked to do a guest posting, I was more than happy to have an opportunity to get the male of the species' perspective on all things accessory-related. Here is what he had to say. 

You can get away with a lot when it comes to accessorising your favourite pieces during the day. You can be as quirky as you like; big and bold against your most casual outfits, or perhaps mix and match colour to your heart's content. For eveningwear however, when you want to look your best and most coordinated, you need to think a little bit more.

Outfit Colour
The most basic feature you need to take into account when accessorising is the colour of your outfit. The more striking the colours you wear, the more important it becomes to think about which part of your outfit you want to emphasise most. If you’re wearing a striking colour such as electric blue, do you want large or multiple pieces of jewellery to balance out the colour, or would you prefer simple, small pieces to accent the outfit, making your dress the centre-piece?

You also need to think about whether the colour of your metal jewellery compliments the tones of your outfit. Some general (but not always true!) guidelines are below. Depending on the style of the outfit I believe that black and white can go either way.

Generally gold jewellery suits colours such as:
Orange | Bright Yellow | Brown | Bright Pink | Vibrant Dark Greens | Vibrant Dark Blues | White | Cream | Orange-Based Reds

Generally silver jewellery suits colours such as:
Black | Light & Jewelled Blues | Light Rosy and Jewelled Pinks | Teal and Crisp Greens | Grey | Blue-Based (Blood) Reds | Soft Lemon Yellows | Purples 

Also be aware of the effect of stones on metal jewellery. Silver jewellery comes with a wide variety of inlays, and silver with warm ambers and rubies may suit an outfit normally suited to gold. To bring more colour to a monochrome or neutral outfit, look to the stones in your jewellery pieces. Black dress and warm skin? Silver with red or yellow stones will work. Purple dress with cool skin? Why not try a silver or gold piece with a nice contrasting emerald stone?

Outfit style
You also need to think about how your jewellery fits the style of your outfit. I’m a believer in a set style, so if you decide on pants or leggings stick to chunky pieces of jewellery such as rings and bracelets. Earrings and necklaces are best kept simple; maybe try some statement hoops, big oval studs with enamel inlay or a necklace of silver and polished stones.

Shorts are a grey area for evening jewellery. Either sway to chunky pieces for an edgy look, or go for sleek chains around your neck and wrists and choose some decorative hanging earrings to frame your face.

For women thinking of a dress or skirt you can choose more detailed accessories. How low the neckline is and the cut and length of the skirt can affect your accessory choices.

A bare neck is always a good choice, but if you want to wear a necklace or chain, different styles have very different effects. To draw attention away from a low busted dress chose a necklace with a pendant on a short chain that fits to the neck. Conversely, to emphasise this area (regardless of neckline), go for a long rounded or dangling necklace with stones or dangling details.

Long, fitted, or body-con skirts look best with dangling pieces to put your shape in proportion. Long necklaces, hoops or dangling earrings and loose bracelets are best for this style. An A-line or bell-shape skirt works well with more detailed and creatively crafted pieces. Here you can use less. Maybe a small chain and pendant fitted to the neck or to the décolletage, small creative hanging earrings or studs, and a ring or two does well here. For a very short skirt go for decorative, dangling pieces on the arms and around the neck to give the impression that more skin is covered.

A last word on pattern; If your dress is full of pattern and colour (such as an Aztec or polkadot print) go for heavier, more noticeable and classic cut jewellery. If your pattern is merely a trimming or you go for lace, choose less; these pieces are best smaller and more design-focused.

This post was written by Tariq on behalf of henryka jewellery. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Links à la Mode Rides Again

I'm pleased as punch to have been selected once again to be featured in this week's Independent Fashion Bloggers' weekly roundup. This is truly one of the best ways to get to get to know some different and emerging voices in the blogosphere, and once again a heartfelt thank you to the people at IFB! 


Falling for Fall
Fashion Week, September Issues, Back to School (or just back to work) Shopping... Nothing is hotter than September for fashion. Even though fashion week's clothes don't hit the stores until next year, seeing the trends on both the runways and on the fashion elite gives us inspiration for what to wear now. Luckily we have amazing links to the fall finds we'll be falling for. 

Links à la Mode: The IFB Weekly Roundup

  SPONSOR: Eastdane United Nude, Prism Bags, M Nii, Levi's Vintage, Evleo, JW Hulme, Gareth Pugh, Diemme, IIIbeca, Stone Island, & Men's Brands

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cafe Latte Simplicity

Today's post was supposed to be my contribution to the venerable Spy Girl's 52 Pick-Me-Up Coffee Clatch Tea Party linkup, but because I live overseas and had a temporary problem with counting, I missed the deadline. Whatever, I decided to post it anyway…give credit where credit is due. In this week's challenge, we were instructed to fill our favourite coffee mugs with our favourite brew, then dress to coordinate.  That is just the sort of off-the-wall thing that appeals to me, and I couldn't resist.

You'll notice I greedily drank all of the coffee. You'll also notice that my mug is pretty boring; a minimalistic white ceramic, standard-issue Ikea-type arrangement. To dress in a cohesive way, it would have been easy to just slap-on all white and be done with it, but I thought that wasn't being true to what the mug really looks like. See how I spilled down the side? That's pretty much what it looks like all the time. I'm kinda messy with the espresso machine, smoothies….pretty much everything I put in there.

I felt that this mug called for a minimalistic look in spilled-latte-like tones. Something like Céline would produce; something that is all smooth, structured shapes and neutral tones. Only in my case, something that does not come with the Céline price tag.  I wanted pieces that were easy, and that you would therefore reach for day after day without even thinking about it. Just like my mug.

The Stuff

Cropped cotton roll-hem sweater (thrifted)
Ralph Lauren wool skirt (via Ebay)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Weather Antidote Dressing

Oh maaaaan….it's starting. The official Scottish Rainy Season (or 3/4 of the year, if you prefer to think of it that way) appears to be underway. One minute a girl is out on the tennis court wearing SPF 30, the next…well.

But never mind. It may be cold, raining horizontally (although mercifully I had a four minute window to take these quick snaps), and blown' a hoolie out there, but the entire landscape doesn't have to be gray. I like to do my part. Nowhere does it say that to be pragmatic is to be devoid of colour.

The Stuff

J. Crew cashmere v-neck (via Ebay), similar
Calvin Klein skinny coloured jeans (last season), similar for a steal!
Unlisted ruched shoes (old), similar in black
Forever21 necklaces (old), similar AWESOME look from Dannijo
Topaz and gold flower ring (my own), similar

Friday, September 13, 2013

Shop Like a Teenager

 Navigating Mainstream Retail Stores Like a 17 Year-Old When You Are So…Like…OMG, Not 17. 

I have designer Ken, of Project Runway fame, to thank for the inspiration for this post, having struck a chord in me when he recently uttered the comment "I don't design for 40 year-old women" in front of millions of viewers. The producers must have been delighted with that little controversial sound byte, even if the designer himself will one day (if he hasn't already) come to the realisation that he has just crossed every fashion editor, let alone every woman with a long-standing professional job (and therefore money to buy designer clothes) off of his client list. What's that Iman? You want to walk in my runway show? Nope. Sorry, you're over forty. Lauren Hutton, you want to wear one of my tailored menswear-inspired pieces? I think not.  

Though we have certainly seen this type of ageism before from the designers on Project Runway, I am happy to report that in the real world, things are a whole lot better, whether we realise it or not. I hear people all the time saying that they can't, or won't shop at some of the major fashion retailers because they feel they are over the age threshold. In my opinion, this is unfortunate, and I would encourage anyone who has ever felt that they had a "Ken" moment while shopping to not let that put you off. The people who really, truly think like that are fewer than the marketing campaigns would have you believe.  Sure, you get your odd character like the (being polite here) unfortunate Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch, who is constantly sticking his foot in it regarding everything from plus-sizing to the attractiveness of his staff, but the resulting bad press, not to mention the vertical stock plunges, speak for themselves and act as a type of fashion poetic justice. 

There are some treasures to be found in fast fashion, to be sure. There are a whole lot of stinkers as well, more stinkers than treasures really, but the treasures are out there, you just have to be patient and enjoy the hunt.

How to Navigate The Mainstream Retailers Like Your 17 Year-Old Self, Only Smarter

1. Shopper, Know Thyself
If you are a member of the 40+ brigade (and even if you're not), you probably already have a very keen sense of what size you are, having had 40-odd years to familiarise yourself with it. Know your measurements, know what fits you. You can quite often tell just by looking at something if it will fit or not based on the cut, the shape of the waistband, whatever your thing is. 

2. Try It On
One of the wonderful things about the large retailers is the large, anonymous dressing rooms. No pressure, oftentimes no waiting either. Try everything on, even if it is just a t-shirt. I am always surprised by how something either disappoints or surprises me once it is on my body. 

3. Feel Everything Up
Okay, maybe not everything (you don't want to get arrested), but definitely feel the fabrications of the garments. I very often will be drawn to something from across the store, and when I get up close, once I have felt the fabric, walk away without even bothering. Cheap fabric has been the undoing of mass retail, so tread carefully. I avoid overly viscose-y things, anything being marketed as "burnout", things that look flaccid on the hanger, and those sheer flimsy polyester blousettes that are so prevalent. 

4. Do Not Fear the Teenage Sizing
Sure, if you are plus sized, or even what they call a transitional size (US sizes 8, 10 and 12), or have a tall inseam (I am two of those three things) you may struggle with limitations in certain stores (Forever 21,  Zara), while others yet will perplex you with their overly-generous sizing (Gap, Old Navy).  By and large, humans are getting bigger every year at every point of the age spectrum, and retail is following suit. I always grab a size bigger and a size smaller that I think I need before going into the dressing room. 

5. Beware the Knitwear
If you've been following, you will already know that I have a real beef with the nosedive in quality that knitwear has suffered in recent times. I tend to avoid mass market retail knitwear altogether, but I do make some exceptions. Look for material that has a good hand feel to it; something that holds its shape and has some weight to it. Cotton is always a safe bet. I tend to disregard acrylics altogether, though I do profess to having one in my cache that I could not live without (I hasten to add it passes the fabric hand and weight tests with flying colours).  With knitwear, hanger appeal tells you a lot. If it looks terrible in the shop, leave it there. 

6. Exercise Free Reign With Accessories; Bags and Shoes, Not So Much
Mass retail accessories are where the fun is at. There are all sorts of cool collaborations out there and a wide variety to choose from, and it is virtually guilt-free spending. That navy blue enamel Old Navy bracelet in the collage above was purchased for $1. Yep. 

Shoes are a little more tricky. Cheap plastic shoes can be very conspicuous. They make your feet stink, and have a certain sound quality on the pavement that you can identify from a mile away. That, and they hurt like hell. Some of the major retailers like Topshop and River Island are foraying into some nicer footwear (that is, with better materials), but you still have to search. I will occasionally pop for a cheap pair of little fabric ballet flats, but for anything else, I feel you are better off investing in something more substantial.  Bags are all so different, you have to take each individually. Some mass marketed cloth and synthetic bags are quite lovely, while others give me the heebie-jeebies. My rule of thumb is that if I can smell that plastic-rubber-toxic smell coming off of it (you know the one), it stays where it is.  Rightly so. 

Happy Shopping!

Featured Players

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Jailbird Skirt

Of all the many things I have thrifted over the years, this may be one of my absolute favourites. I found this at a thrift / consignment store in Minneapolis when I was home last week. I call it my jailbird skirt. It is originally from Banana Republic, fits beautifully, and….drum roll please…..has pockets.  Like so many of you, I lurve a skirt or dress with pockets. It makes one wonder why designers don't make more of them, doesn't it?

When the weather cools some more (like, probably tomorrow), I will wear this with a chambray shirt or a cashmere turtleneck. But for now, this is perfect.

The Stuff

Thrifted black and white stripe skirt, similar style in brown
Dune booties (old), similar (lace-up), similar (bargain)