Thursday, April 30, 2015

Packing for a Cruise? I Can Help

Today's post is a collaboration with the good people over at Saga Travel, who are gearing-up to begin the breathtakingly beautiful Baltic cruise season. As an ex cruise ship employee and frequent traveller (and cruiser) myself, I remember cruising the Baltic as one of the most fun contracts I ever had on board a ship, and can't help but fancy myself a bit of an expert on the subject of packing for a cruise holiday. One of the most fortunate by-products of my time on board the cruise lines is that I have developed what I consider to be a bulletproof strategy for packing for a cruise.

Cruising is a multi-faceted holiday, and requires a slightly broader stroke of the fashion brush than other types of holidays. But that's not to say that you need to cram your entire wardrobe into your suitcase. Airline restrictions and the overall feasibility of lugging ten tons of baggage around with you is simply a no-go these days, so it's in your best interest to take a considered, well thought-out approach to your cruise holiday wardrobe. While I could definitely write an encyclopedia full of tips and tricks on packing for a cruise, I've identified three major strategies that I use every time I set about the business of planning the sartorial aspect of my journey. Hopefully, they will help you on your next seagoing adventure as they have helped me over the years.

Check the Weather
Yes, I know it sounds ridiculously simplistic, but you would be surprised at the number of passengers I encountered during my time at sea who were so excited about the idea of going on a cruise, they actually didn't stop to think about the seasonal temperatures for the region they were planning to visit! Add to that the temperatures at sea can be quite a bit cooler than what they may be on land, and you may find that you have to expand your repertoire a bit. Using a Baltic cruise as an example, temperatures are generally cool at night (even in summer), and pleasantly warm during the height of summer, with the months of July and August being the warmest (and as a result, the busiest time to travel). Average temperature guides are helpful tools, but make sure to check the coming forecast a week before you set out. If it looks like you are going to get an unlucky stretch of rain in St. Petersburg or an exceptionally hot burst of sunshine in Copenhagen, you'll need to pack accordingly.

As a general rule, just like your mother probably told you when you were young, layering is the best strategy in dealing with a variable temperature range. A cardigan or two, a light jacket, a packable floppy hat, and a lightweight scarf are all useful items to have on hand, and can be layered over everything from sleeveless sun dresses to t-shirts and jeans.

Count the Days
Cruises pose a unique packing challenge in that they require clothing that runs the gamut from beachwear to black tie. In an effort to be prepared for every eventuality, most people have a tendency to massively overpack, adding unnecessary weight to their baggage and hassle to their holiday before they've even left the house. I've found that one of the best ways to avoid excessive packing is to bring the exact number of looks for the exact number of days you will be on board.

Have a look at your cruise itinerary. How many port days are there? How many nights on board will you be in the dining room, and how many of those nights (if any) will be black tie? Do you anticipate using the pool or going to the beach? Try to select the minimal amount of clothing for these activities. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to choose pieces that all work well with each other, enabling you to have more outfit choices with less garments.

My personal strategy is to start off by choosing a dress to wear every night while on board; one for each night. Dresses are lightweight (with the exception of some black tie attire), they always look good, and they generally pack really easily into a suitcase. Once you've gotten your night looks out of the way, you can concentrate on creating your capsule wardrobe for your daytime activities. Whatever you do, don't get carried away here. You'll want that extra space for souvenirs!

Curb Your Shoe Habit
This is probably the most important aspect of packing for a cruise, and if you love fashion, also the area where the most discipline is required.  Shoes take up a lot of space and weigh a lot in a suitcase, so it's important to pack only what you really need.

For dressier evenings, think about the looks you have chosen from counting your days on board. Instead of trying to match your shoes to every look, try to choose a neutral shoe that goes with everything. While you can't go wrong with black, a nude or burnished metallic shoe is elegant and leg lengthening, and can be worn with a multitude of different looks.

Personally, I like to balance my looks by pairing a darker, heavier, or patterned dress with a lighter shoe; maybe a nude heel or gold metallic sandal. If I'm wearing a lighter color or floaty feminine fabric, I'll opt for a stronger shoe; perhaps a black sandal or patent pump. Whatever I choose, I usually only bring two choices for evening, and those will see me through the entirety of the cruise.

For day, it is imperative that whatever shoes you choose, they're comfortable and you can walk in them. Your long-awaited holiday is not the time to road-test a brand-new pair of shoes, no matter how confident you are that they will fit well. Even if you aren't planning on doing a lot of walking while ashore, you will be on your feet and in transit a lot of the time, and having sore feet can really take the fun out of your day.

A final note on shoes; exercise enthusiasts need to remember to leave room for athletic shoes, another major space-eater in the suitcase!

This year, whether you're planning on booking a Baltic Cruise, an Arctic Circle adventure, or even a late season run over to the Canadian coastline to take in some fall color, between your newfound  packing strategy and the expertise available to you from Saga Travel, you should be in good hands indeed!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Witness My Hypocrisy

I said I wouldn't. Actually, I think I've even said I would never.  And yet, here I stand before you, in full sun and in the middle of the road for all to see, wearing a pair of culottes. About three years ago, when the blog was in its infancy, I wrote a piece about the current trends that were coming around, and referred to culottes in my most withering of tones. You can even read the piece here.

And yet here I am.

It goes to show you how truly fickle fashion really is, although I think even at the time I wrote that piece, I did include a look that I sort of liked, and lo and behold, It looks almost identical to the one I'm wearing today. This was a complete and utter sartorial coincidence, although after having this culotte epiphany, I'm not so sure I even believe in sartorial coincidences any more. Because guess what? I like these. They're so comfy, have an ease about them, and the nearly sister-wife length and volume tickles my funny bone, although admittedly it begs to be styled with slightly edgier and more casual pieces. Personally, I think these were made to go with platform wedges.

Lucky for me, I'm not the kind of person who once she makes a very public declaration of affinity for something (or lack thereof), feels like she can't go back on what she said, even if it was three years ago. I feel no need to plaster a scarlet "H" to my breast and parade around the town. Things change, styles change, and certainly when you write a fashion blog, you get more adventurous in what you wear...if you want to call culottes adventurous...that's probably a bit of a stretch. So yep. I'm wearing culottes now. And I'm not even sorry.

Highland Fashionista's List of Things She's Said She Would Never, Ever in a Million Years Wear

skinny jeans
printed trousers
anything by Lilly Pulitzer
green eyeshadow
a thong
a Louis Vuitton bag
leopard print
zebra print
pink pants
faux fur
fake eyelashes

Mango culottes (on sale!), similar / H&M blouse (old), similar / thrifted denim jacket, similar / thrifted shoes (from here), similar / 14k rose gold bangle (old), similar (splurge), similar (steal) / 14k rose gold and smoky quartz ring (old), similar / 14 k rose gold oval hoop earrings (old), similar (amazing deal!), similar (steal) / Ray Ban Jackie Ohh II sunglasses

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Inspiration: The Vertical Garden

This is my new vertical garden. It's rare that I fan-out into decor endeavours here on the blog, but I'm so stoked about my plants I thought I'd share. I have had an obsession for a while with orchids and living wall gardens, and I thought that this would make a slightly easier, more climate-friendly option than trying to maintain a living wall. In other words, I can remove the pots from the trellis and stage an emergency evacuation of all of the orchids from the conservatory when the temperatures unexpectedly plummet from the Scottish weather. This can happen at any time. One must be vigilant.

Turns out, this is a huge trend right now, and a real space saver. I love nice clean surfaces in the house...not a lot of clutter sitting about, and this is a great way to still have all of my plants on display while utilising some unused wall space. I took the easy way, with a simple trellis (it's actually gridwall from a retail display outlet) and some pot hooks, but there is a whole vertical world out there, just waiting to be discovered. I'm still looking to add a few more plants to the display. Perhaps some of my bigger plants and a few more air plants for balance. The best part is sitting underneath all of my "chids" while I write; I get to enjoy them in a different way. This has been such a fun and effortless addition to the house that it sort of made me start wanting to nail everything I own to a wall.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Other Thing

Last week I had written about my shopping attack, in which I brought home two amazing deals. I have already shown you one of them, and now I am showing you the other. Ta-daa!

This is a Kenzo sun dress that I got for £24. I know, right!? It's an interesting kind of heavy cotton brocade fabric, and didn't really have a lot of hangar appeal (similar to the other thing I found), but I tried it on just for the heck of it, and was surprised at just how well it fit me. Sure, it's short, but I don't mind short, and the heaviness and sheer amount of fabric (there's a lot of fabric in those pleats) in the skirt seems to be enough to prevent a wardrobe malfunction even on the windiest of days. I styled it with some less girly accessories, for balance. On me, a flippy skirt, plus super-girly shoes and full makeup and full hair is simply out of the question. I need balance. I need shoes with some teeth. Quite literally in this case. These have pointy metal teeth. For kickin' ass and takin' names and whatnot.

I'm a really big Kenzo fan. Their clothes are modern, young (but not junior young...forget I said that, maybe I mean unique), easy to wear casually, and a bit..well, weird. The offbeat colors, textures, and patterns are things I love, and I am quite happy to now have my first piece from them.  It's a great, durable sundress with a bit of a twist, and there's a wee surprise in the back as well.

Kenzo dress via TK Maxx / topshop shoes (last season) / Sterling necklace (old), similar / silver bracelets (old), similar, similar, similar

Discover the wacky and wonderful world of Kenzo!

Monday, April 20, 2015


Tall girls of the universe...our time has arrived! Palazzo pants are officially back in style and in a store near you!

I am so very happy to see these fuller, higher-waisted pants coming back around a second time. Actually, this season is a mix of a few of my favourite decades; there's a heavy 90's bent with empire waists, spaghetti straps, full legged trousers, and crop tops (meh). The 70's are having a moment too: high waisted jeans, flares, tunics (yay!), and platform sandals are baaaack, baby!

But back to the palazzo. Incidentally, all I can think of when I type "palazzo"is the scene from The Naked Gun where Leslie Nielson (may he rest in peace) poses as famed opera star Enrico Pallazzo and murders the National Anthem at a baseball game. Hilarious. That movie still makes me laugh, O.J. Simpson notwithstanding.

So these pants. They're the best. They feel great, they look awesome, and they're perfect for travel. I like them to be long enough to completely cover my shoes. They can even drag on the ground a little, but you need to stop short of trampling all over the hem. That just looks sloppy. Because these are such a bold statement, I've just added a plain white blouse, some flat metallic sandals, and a few hints of gold jewellery. That's really all you need.

Zara palazzo pants / thrifted blouse, similar / Sam Edelman for Target sandals (old), similar / 14 K textured oval hoops (old), similar / gold plated coin ring (old), similar

This post has been happily shared with Not Dead Yet Style's Visible Monday & the Elegantly Dressed and Stylish Turning Heads Tuesday Linkup

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

It's In The Details

When you take it at face value, this look is a bit of a snooze-fest. Not that I don't like it...I do, or I wouldn't have shown it to you. It's just that there are some days where you feel like wearing something totally outrageous (gold sequinned hotpants anyone?), and there are other days where you just want something clean and unfussy. This look falls into the latter category.

This type of look is something that I have quite a lot of in my wardrobe; a sort of clean-cut, American Prep vibe that while may not be the most creative sartorial statement, always looks clean and pulled-together. It's perfect for warm weather vacations where you are limited with how much you can take, and you'd be surprised at the wide range of dressing situations it can actually see you through.

This blouse is a Lilly Pulitzer that I found for a great bargain (you know how I love a bargain) on Ebay. The things I love about it are twofold: it fits like a dream, and has some really great detailing to it that you have to get up close to see. The collar and cuffs are lined in zebra (nice), and the ruffle and deep-v styling at and around the placket (that's the middle bit where the buttons go, in case you're not a tailoring nerd like me) gives it a bit of a feminine edge that I like. The shoes, earrings, and heavy-framed glasses I chose to give the heavy contrast of the collar and cuffs some balance. Basically, any excuse to wear something with an animal printed on it and I'm there.

Lilly Pulitzer shirt via Ebay, similar / Jag skinny jeans (old), similar / Aerosoles wedges (ancient), similar / Bailybelle earrings / frames

Monday, April 13, 2015

I'm So Fancy

Just like the song says. This is it, my fancy jacket. This is one of the things I brought back from my shopping attack last week. It's an Alberta Ferretti jacket, marked down so much I nearly had a coronary right there in the shop. Seriously, have you ever found something in the sale pile and just wanted to yell, "do you people know what this is!?", before making a mad Gollum-scamper to the cash register, my precious in hand.  Although to be fair, I can see why this probably didn't sell. The color and cut can skew a little bit old lady, and seeing it on the hangar, it's hard to envision what it would look like when styled.

These things generally do not prevent me from taking advantage of something with great bones, and there is nothing better than a well-appointed piece of tailoring with great bones. I love a bracelet sleeve on a garment (I'm constantly pushing my sleeves up), and the embellishment on the front makes a neutral color that I would normally never think of putting next to my face wearable and glowy. Plus, there are plenty of ways to wear just about any color if you play your hand right. With a neutral like this taupe (something I would call a "weak" color), I like to pair it with something stronger, in this case an acid green top. It just gives it some depth and takes the seriousness out of it.

This jacket is finished really elegantly and feels great on, as one would expect from a high-end Italian designer. I see myself pairing this with things like distressed jeans (as above) and shorts and whatnot, as to keep it from looking too Madame, as Michael Kors would say. Anyway, I'm thrilled to death with this thing - it's a forever piece, without the forever price tag.

Alberta Ferretti jacket via TK Maxx / Rag and Bone jeans / Aerosoles shoes (old), similar / Nicky Butler ring (old), similar / Gap tank (old), similar

This post was happily shared with the Elegantly Dressed and Stylish Turning Heads Tuesday Linkup

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Shopping Attack

I suffered a shopping attack last week. I was in the city with no intention whatsoever to look at clothes. However,  there were so many cute 70s-inspired pieces and some seriously good deals to be had. I'm talking black belt, DEFCON 5-level shopping here. I guess I kind of lost my sartorial shizzle for a minute and just sort of went nuts. But can you blame me? Look at these deals I got! These are the kinds of deals where you look at the tag, then sort of look over your shoulder around the store just to see if anyone else is watching, because this can't possibly be the price, and surely I must be getting away with something here...

Tune in later for the big reveal!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Nautical Peplum & "The Sun"

First off, for those of you who like me, are in Scotland today, don't panic. They tell me that this big ball of fire that just sort of showed up in our sky is a thing called "The Sun", and is not in fact some kind of extraterrestrial attack, so you can go ahead and take off your tin foil helmets. Apparently this "Sun" makes an appearance once in a while, helping things to photosynthesise and whatnot, or so the legend goes. I'm told that in some parts of the world, this kind of thing is even considered normal. Pthhht. Sounds like a potboiler to me. I'm keeping the tin foil in my handbag until it's over, just in case.

I guess if the aliens are going to land their pod in the Sound of Kerrera and paddle over here to probe my brains (joke's on them in that case), I suppose I should at least give a good sartorial account of myself, so I'm choosing this outfit. I found this little peplum top in H&M last weekend. I love a peplum, and this one is definitely going to get a lot of mileage this year. I like that it blends the crispness of a nautical stripe with the flouncy feminine flair of a peplum. Basically, you don't really have to do anything, which is good because I definitely did not do a lot of styling today. After all, "The Sun" could come for me at any moment.

H&M peplum top, similar / Seven for All Mankind jeans (old), similar / Aerosoles shoes (old), similar / costume bracelets (old), similar, similar / 14K Roman coin earrings (old), similar

This post has been happily shared with Sydney Fashion Hunter's Link-Up!