Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Knock-About Style

Today, a very popular blog that I follow was featuring a weekend look that consisted of a pair of 5-inch platform heels and an Hermès bag, among other things.  It was lovely…spectacular, even…but knocking-about-town, weekend casual? Maybe somewhere, but not here.

I came up with this casual look by literally just thinking about my surroundings and grabbing pieces from the closet just to see what would come together. I like the overall tone of the look; causal enough for knocking-about town, but not OTT. However, I think I could have pushed it a wee bit more. It reads a bit Boden catalog the way it is. I think I would have liked to have added a big scarf in a contrasting print or colour, or maybe a felt hat. If only I had a felt hat. I thought about tights, but I'm not really ready for tights yet. In the autumn in this part of the world, black leggings or tights with boots are as common as oxygen molecules, and I kind of feel like I've been there, done that. Eventually, the weather will force my hand, but until then, I'm happy to show a little knee. Scandalous, yes? I know. What a hussy.

LaRedoute long sleeve tee (old), Crew clothing skirt (past season). Merino shrug, hand-knit by my sister, David Tate equestrian boots (old)

Now make it happen.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Election Day! The Kaleidoscope Complete the Look Competition

Election day is here! A team of razor-sharp, highly-skilled fashion pundits have now sorted through the entries for the Kaleidoscope Complete the Look Competition, and the four frontrunners have been selected. Remember, if more than one person chose a look that was selected as one of the final four, the first person to have posted that look in the comments was the selected finalist. The winner of the competition will receive the entire look from Kaleidoscope! To see the look-completing item in greater detail, simply click on the photo, and you will be taken to the Kaleidoscope website where you can take a closer look. After you have decided, cast your vote for which item you think best completes the overall look by leaving your choice in the comments section. This part of the competition will be open for two weeks. The voting closes on Saturday, November 10th, and winner of the entire look will be announced shortly thereafter! Happy voting everyone!

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Friday, October 25, 2013

A Tousled Do Meets Gray Hair. Casual Chic or Crazy Cat Lady?

In the many how-to articles, beauty guides, and YouTube styling videos I have subjected myself to over the past few years, there is a consistent theme when it comes to styling textured and/or graying hair (and I am the proud owner of both); it is an entity to be controlled.  In theory, I suppose I agree with this rather heavy-handed sentiment. Silver does have a tendency to make you look a bit wild and unkempt if it is neglected. But therein lies the issue: I am not a girl who likes to spend a lot of time doing hair things. I'm not claiming to be a wash and go girl…no…more of a wash, add product, maybe hastily dry, and on the rare occasion heat style kind of a girl who never leaves enough time to finish any of these steps with any degree of proficiency.

Therefore, with my own utter follicular laziness in mind, I have become an absolute sucker for anything with the words anti-frizz, moisturizing, or smoothing printed on it. I cling to the shreds of hope that some day, I will be one of those women who can jump out of the shower with wet hair and thirty minutes later emerge with a glossy head of salt and pepper that retains its natural wave yet is devoid of that layer of fuzz that even though you've just washed your hair, is reminiscent of the antibiotic-producing skin of old cheese.

Behold the experiment. I have had some long layers put back into my hair after a few years of wearing it all one length. My natural wave wants desperately to be free, but like a petulant teen, it needs craves direction.Tired of ironing my poor locks with a flatiron,  I want something in between Real Housewife beachy waves (am I the only one who is so over that look?) and the full-on Courtney Love circa 1997.  It's definitely a difficult balance to achieve, but is it even advisable? Should I be keeping this monster on a tighter leash?


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

40 is the New 40: David from Grey Fox

This week it is my distinct pleasure to have David on the blog, who is the very classy gentleman behind the wonderful blog Grey Fox. Launched in 2011, David's blog is, in his own words,  his response to the increasingly difficult question of what to wear and how to dress over forty.  I asked him the same four questions I always ask.

What is your take on "age appropriate" dressing after forty, and does it differ for men and women?

I think for both men and women it’s important to find your own style – both sexes probably take a similar approach. For most, this will be a classical approach to dressing; although our age gives us the confidence to explore and experiment to our hearts’ content. However, I would draw the line at doing anything that we think will make us look younger – it won’t. Celebrate your age – for me there’s nothing more attractive (OK, I mean sexier) than an older woman allowing her hair to go grey and wearing good quality classic clothes that enhance her personality and maturity – and I hope that women would find attractive a man who takes a similar approach. Good quality and fit are essential in our clothes.

How has your style evolved since your 40th year? 

My 40th year is lost in the mists of time, and I only started my blog two years ago, at the age of 56. Until then, I’m afraid it was walking shoes, cargo trousers and fleeces. Now, as far as possible, it’s fewer but better quality clothes that fit well, are classics but with a twist and are made to last. I’ve had my first good suit made, have a blazer on order and am spending more on fewer clothes. If I buy anything that doesn’t fit well I’ll ask my tailor to adjust it to fit. Style depends on good taste and fit.

What are some style items that you will never live without, no matter what age you might be?

A good pair of British-made brogues, a tweed jacket, a fisherman’s sweater, a Prince of Wales check suit and several pairs of raw denim jeans (naturally distressed through wear, not artificially ).

Describe your personal style

Classic British with a twist – tweedy country meets Savile Row mixed with jeans/sweaters casual.

Visit David at Grey Fox blog
Twitter: @GreyFoxBlog

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Zebra Takes it!

Here is the answer to Saturday's spellbinding quiz poll, Which of These Items Made It into My Closet? Taa-Daa! You guessed correctly, dear readers. I am officially a foregone conclusion.

This is a navy and white linen zebra print top from H&M. I liked the fluidity of the linen fabric: there is a softness to it that is a good balance against the strong print. I also like that this zebra print is in navy instead of black. It's just a small touch, but it looks somehow richer, and works really well with jeans. This is a great layering piece, which I will go ahead and do right now by putting my jacket back on, as it is far too cold here in the West Highlands to be parading around outside in nothing but a loose linen tee.

I chose minimal accessories for this look, as the print is such a strong statement in itself. A contrasting belt adds some waist definition and also adds just a pop of colour. With a large-scale print like this in a graphic colour, I like to keep the makeup simple. Just a swipe of black liquid liner and a bright red-orange lip. Done.

H&M tee (current season), Thrifted Forever 21 JacketNew Look jeans (past season), Dune booties (past season), H&M belt (past season)

Make it Happen.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Which One Will It Be?

I have another round of group-participation in store for you today. I did a little sale shopping last week. Am I that much of a foregone conclusion that you can all guess which of the following three pieces came home with me? You can vote at the bottom of the page, then stay tuned for Monday's post for the answer!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fashion Week at a Glance

This fun info graphic was created by UK & international retailer New Look. I thought it provided a fun comparison of the various fashion weeks held around the globe. Enjoy. 


Monday, October 14, 2013

Print Mix: Hold the Accessories

Fall is definitely in the air (and in the shops), but we had one last push of mild weather last week that inspired me to make one last run at some print-mixing. I am normally not a big floral girl, but I found myself really drawn to this high-necked orange floral blouse. I love the Asian-inspired vibe to it, and it is a really easy piece to wear with just about anything. Orange and blue, as you have already seen here,  is one of my favourite colour combinations, and works well in any season.

As for accessories…who needs them? Print-mixing is an accessory unto itself. In my opinion, the past few seasons have been about generously (if not over) accessorising. This trend of over-accessorising reminds me of the iconic Suzy Menkes, and how she rather acerbically questioned the validity of the street style squad her now famous article for the NY Times (titled The Circus of Fashion), calling into question popular street-style bloggers' validity as journalists and observers; referring to them as a bunch of "over-accessorised poseurs."  Menkes may see poseurs, but I see a bunch of people who love fashion (and attention, yes) and are simply getting together and having fun with it. Sponsorships and invites to events may motivate some, but obviously that is the direction the industry has turned, and I could care less. Inspiration is inspiration, and I don't waste a lot of energy worrying about the "legitimacy" of it. Any time someone writes a "back in the good old days" argument to some change in an industry, any industry,  I can't help but feel that there is an element of romantic, if not revisionist, historicism at work.

Having said all that, I'm still not wearing any accessories today.  Nope.

The Stuff

Next floral top (last season), similar
H&M pants (last season), similar for a steal!
Kelsi Dagger booties (old), similar (£$), for a steal!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Almost Famous

Three cheers for forty-plus bloggers. A quartet of us are featured in the November issue of Essentials, a UK style and lifestyle magazine. Page 29, check us out. I'm third from the top. You will recognise some of the others as well: That's Not My Age and The Online Stylist also make an appearance.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Kaleidoscope Complete the Look Competition

I'm really pleased to be working with UK retailer Kaleidoscope on my first-ever competition giveaway. Kaleidoscope is a retailer that specialises in providing a unique edit of key fashion looks from the season for the mature, style-conscious woman. The lucky winner of this competition is going to win this entire everyday luxe look from Kaleidoscope!  To be eligible to win, you have to have a valid UK shipping address, as Kaleidoscope currently only ships within the UK. So if you are reading this from outside the UK, as I know many of you are, it may be time to get friendly with great aunt Myrtle in Cornwall.  Okay? Good. Here's how it works.

The competition will take place in two stages. In stage one, you, my highly-valued readers, will have a look at the above everyday luxe style board that I have curated from items from the Kaleidoscope website.  You'll notice there is one piece missing. Your job is to go to the Kaleidoscope website, and choose what you think the perfect piece would be to complete this look. Once you've made your selection, leave a comment in the comments section of the blog with your choice clearly stated (or a link, if you prefer).  This part of the competition will stay open for two weeks.

In stage two, after two weeks, the four best items that complete the everyday luxe look will be selected,  and will then be put to a vote. If more than one of you choose the same piece to complete the look, the first eligible person who posted that selection will be the chosen reader. The voting will again stay open for two weeks. After two weeks, the votes will be tallied, and the reader who completed the look with the most votes will win the entire look. I know, right!?

The overall budget for this look is £200. If we subtract the existing pieces from that total, that leaves you with £59 to spend on whatever you want; a bag, a jacket, a spare pair of flats...whatever! The choice is yours! So get shopping!

4. ???

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Color of Spring 2014

Research for a freelance project recently led me to the Pantone Color Institute website. I was already familiar with the Pantone Institute to a certain extent; they are after all, the leading world authority on colour that not only provides continuity of colour for graphic art and media everywhere, it also predicts (or dictates, even) which colours will be featured in future fashion collections. However, upon visiting their website, I sort of felt like how one might feel if she opened her closet and found a smiling George Clooney riding atop a unicorn in a tux with two glasses of champagne in one hand an a plus-one ticket to the Met Ball in the other. In other words, it's surprising and awesome.

The idea of an organisation that does nothing but eat, sleep, breathe, and think about colour likely seems frivolous to someone who is not inclined to think artistically, as if there were a giant, silver-bearded colour deity reigning from on high, directing us to decorate our kitchens in avocado green and harvest gold and wear cobalt booties with a black skinny pant.  The reality is that colour is a highly influential medium, and can be employed strategically in everything from marketing to emotional manipulation. Ever visited a day spa that had neon pink walls or a hospital with red rooms? No? Exactly.

What impressed me most about my wee visit to Pantone's website was this Spring 2014 Color Report by the very eloquent Leatrice Eiseman, the Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute. Her love and enthusiasm for colour is hard to ignore, and you can't help but get excited about colour right along with her.

The artsy-fartsy part of me loves that there is an entire industry based around colour and our perceptions of it. I plan on joining the ranks of the Pantone Color Army, using this information to inspire my style as we head into (and then back out of) the fall/winter season and into spring. Celosia Orange, here I come!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New Today!

It's that time of the year again….the weather has turned into an apocalyptic mix of wind and rain, the temperatures are plummeting (at least here in Scotland they are), and the knitting frenzy has officially begun. Fight back with colour! Here is the newest addition to my Etsy shop.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Sweatshirt Thing

I am digging the sweatshirts with skirts trend that is all over the place right now. It is a completely serviceable trend for those of us who live in casual environments, and a good way to ease oneself into the looser, more voluminous silhouettes that are coming into their own right now.

I searched far and wide for this one, which I liked because of the slightly oversized, boxy-yet-rounded shape and the material, which is a proper French terry material (you would not believe how difficult it is to find a sweatshirt made from proper sweatshirt material these days). Also the price was right. No matter how trendy, I am not paying £100 or more for a sweatshirt; there are several options out there right now that are at that price point, if not higher. That is ludicrous.

This is a look I intend to keep, and I daresay you will be seeing a lot of it. It has also now been added to the top of my thrift-hunting wish list.

The Stuff

H&M sweatshirt (sold out), similar

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Change is Good. Unless It's Bad.

This is the October issue of In Style UK.  I'm sure you'll recognise the talented Naomi Watts on the cover. Ms. Watts is fresh off of her role as Princess Diana, and has been out and about doing the press junket. Like most successful leading ladies, Naomi has a very ethereal beauty, delicate, but with a burning intensity beneath the surface. She has a wonderful look that enables her to look very editorial.

Or conversely, her look lends itself well to a modern version of old Hollywood glamour.

I get in theory what the people at In Style were going for putting her in this Flintstonesque outfit for their latest cover; an attempt to completely switch gears and try something different on an actress who is always flawlessly put-together, while channelling the punk trend. But this does not work for me. At. All.  I do not believe that it lends itself in any way to what the Daily Mail is calling a "punk princess makeover."

The platinum quiff, the awkward print-mixing, the shiny skirt (looks cheap, and I'm sure it's not), the pink-nude lip with the impotent smoky eye that is not quite up to the job of balancing said nude lip…gah! Everything just seems out of balance here. While I am used to seeing Naomi looking sophisticated and chic, here she just looks she is channeling a teenager who has yet to learn how to be sexy without looking skanky. Punk princess? Nooooot quite.

Is it me?


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Two Days. Two Looks. One Bag.

The art of the overnighter. A casual weekend overnighter to the city for some shopping should be the easiest kind of trip to pack for, yet the temptation to bring waaaay too much stuff looms large. I get around this by sharing a tote bag with my husband, and only packing two looks. Period. No choice, no fussing. They have to be relatively easy to get on and off for fitting room ease, and should be something that you feel sufficiently comfortable having a casual dinner and drinks in. I like to pick simple pieces in bold prints and colours, and a change of shoes to either elevate the look or make it more streetwise.

Then you shop. Whee!

The Stuff

Look One
H&M snake print trousers (last season), similar
Mossimo (Target…I mean, Targeé) tank
J. Crew merino cardigan (old), similar
Topshop Niagara sandals

Look Two
H&M trousers as above
Equipment "Sandy" v-neck sweater
Sofft "Boone" chukka boots

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

40 Is The New 40: Not Dressed As Lamb's Catherine Summers

It is my distinct privilege to have the inimitable Catherine Summers, she of Not Dressed As Lamb fame, featured today as a part of the 40 Is The New 40 series. As many of you will already know, Catherine has an extraordinary sense of personal style, and is a wonderful ambassador for us fashionistas of the forty-plus variety. I asked her the same four questions I always ask.

What is your take on "age appropriate" dressing for women over 40?

What I consider so much more preferable and practical than age appropriate is occasion appropriate. Why should age dictate what we wear? If you're the kind of person who wants to wear clothes that are deemed "too young" for you but the occasion is appropriate, then I say go for it. Dressing age-appropriately is nonsense, if you ask me. Personally, if you’re unsure about what to wear, no matter what your age you should ask yourself:

1. Do I like it? (If you can't say yes to that you need to question why it's in your wardrobe)
2. Does it flatter me and draw attention to my best features?
3. Is it occasion appropriate? Following those three guidelines should help with throwing the age appropriate notion out the window. It allows women to be classic, trendy, edgy, outrageous - whatever they want to be!
How has your style evolved since your 40th year?

I think my style has properly evolved since I turned 39, but that’s because that was when I started the blog and was forced to look at pictures of myself in different outfits all the time. You soon get to see what does and doesn’t suit you, and therefore your style improves and becomes your own. So I’ve been weaning myself off black for the last 10-12 years after I made a conscious decision to wear brighter colours, and I’ve become bolder and more daring in my choices since following fashion blogs. I’ve had my eyes opened to pattern mixing, layering, colour blocking, double denim - I’ve tried them all! Plus I’ve learned about the power of accessorising - I can happily wear the same basic outfit more than once, but I’ll change my hair, put on a hat and statement necklace and switch from heels to flats… they will totally transform your look.

What are some style items that you will never live without, no matter what age you may be?

Those accessories I mentioned! Basically this girl can’t have too much jewellery or too many hats or shoes, and I can’t see that changing any time. Plus I hope I will always favour bright colours. I don’t feel myself if I’m wearing black and neutrals when dressing down, hence the bright colours on a dressed-down day.

Describe your personal style.

I’d describe my style as eclectic, but erring on the side of “Preppy with a Twist”, and nearly always colourful. Sometimes I wish I were more edgy - I often don’t feel crazily-dressed enough!

Catherine Summers

Not Dressed As Lamb style blog:
Twitter @notlamb
Google+ Catherine Summers