Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Happy, Healthy Traveller

You'll remember last week when I, your Auntie Fashionista, had a heart-to-heart with you about your sexual health. This is the companion piece to that post; the second in a series of two, if you will. As you may remember, I have a colleague whose company, Dr. Felix, provides at-home sexual health testing services available to the general public, delivered quickly and discreetly to your doorstep. But that is not the only service that the company offers.

Dr. Felix also offers solutions to a few common travel-related health conundrums such as motion sickness and traveller's diarrhoea (that's the British spelling of diarrhea, my American brothers and sisters. Looks weird, doesn't it?). They even provide anti-malaria tablets for those who may be planning a trip to certain parts of the world where malaria is endemic. For women planning an important trip like their honeymoon or even a lengthy athletic event like an endurance race, they provide the period-delay tablet norethisterone; ensuring that you can get on with your activity free of the burden of your monthly visitor. While you may still need to visit your GP to receive any booster vaccines you may need before travelling, the Dr. Felix online pharmacy and consultation service can help you plan for your upcoming travels in a time frame that is convenient for you. Simply visit the Dr. Felix website (UK and EU residents only I'm afraid) and fill-out one of their short consultation forms, which will be forwarded to a GMC-registered British doctor to review your case. That's it. Pretty simple, right? No cancelled appointments, and no sitting in the waiting room for 45 minutes listening to you guy sitting 3 feet from you coughing up a lung - it allows you to concentrate on your holiday, and the things that really matter.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bring Back The Cat

Four years ago, when I first started needing glasses for reading (yes, as it turns out your eyes really do fall out of your head when you turn 40), I decided that the oversized, nerd-chic, mannish heavy dark glasses that you see so much of (think Bobbi Brown) were for me. However, lately, I've changed my tune. I'm finding myself more and more drawn to cat-eye glasses.

I think that my inspiration for this is photographs of family members, mainly my grandmothers on either side of the family, wearing them in photos taken either before my time, or right around the time I was born. To me, cat-eye glasses look sort of unapologetically feminine, but strong; an ethos we can all get on board with.

However, it is tragically difficult to find cat-eye glasses that fit the bill for me. There are a lot of styles out there that are suggestive of a cat-eye, but very few designers seem to have the cojones to really go full-cat these days. As many choices as there are out there, I find it really difficult to find something that looks different from everything else on the shelf; to find something that has made the commitment to really own the design to the point of seeming intentional. Add to that I have a massively huge head with widely-spaced eyes, and these frames, which are manufactured pretty much exclusively for women, are often too small for me. That is one of my pet peeves in life really, that things made for women, from glasses to golf clubs, need to be smaller, lighter, and overall less substantial than those made for men. Oh, yes, and pink. Like those stupid razors that they overcharge us for in the drugstore.

This is one of those indispensable items that when I find a pair that works, I instantly shell out for them and wear them to the death. The death of the frames that is... not my own. Although I suppose you can't ever entirely rule-out that possibility either.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Drama Queen's Halloween

The Drama Queen is back, taking fashion and beauty mayhem with her everywhere she goes!

Episode 2 is a special Halloween tribute episode.  If want to see more of The Drama Queen, don't forget to like and share the videos with ten thousand of your closest friends.  You can find The Drama Queen on both my Vimeo and YouTube channels.

Linked up with: Brilliant Blog Posts from HonestMum

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Shamesuit Effect

It's sometimes weird trying to navigate a casually-dressed society when you want to look like a fun-loving grownup; I always find that there's a risk of looking more starched that I'd like if I dial-back the sartorial joy too much. You know...color, prints, ripped denim…whatever.  I love all of my classic pieces like this cashmere sweater, these baroque black pearls (beautifully imperfect, more on that in a minute), and these prim, vintage Ferragamo Vara pumps that I found on consignment. However, when mixed all together, they make me look a little too bland for my liking. Not that there is anything wrong with a conservative look, it's just not my particular fashion identity. I need to wreck the perfection a bit; add some joy, irreverence, or whimsy. So I chose my short, tiered wool skirt from Tibi, a thrifted denim jacket (5 bucks at Goodwill in the USA), and left the tights in the drawer.

As many times as I've written about my penchant for imperfection and balance on this blog, I've never really explored the reasons why I feel this need to keep everything just a bit undone - apart from that ever-elusive fashion coolness factor that lives in all of us who love to dress.

After giving it some thought, I've come to realise that my goal of always striving for a bit of imperfection is probably my reaction to what was once (and still is in many ways) engrained deep within the social matrix of how we perceive the way women dress. There is still a pervading sense that we should be more serious about our fashion at 40-plus. Not long ago, I went into a shop aimed at my age demographic looking for a swimsuit, and it was the most depressing exercise ever. There was absolutely no joy in any of the designs in the store. None. Not even a flash of yellow or metallic.  The designs were all these heavy, dark, skirted, thick, padded, control-everything-about-your-body shamesuits that gave me a serious education about the message we are sending to women about how they should feel about their middle-aged bodies. They were grim. Even the printed ones made you think of a dusty plastic-covered couch in a care home. I wanted to yell over to the clerk "where do you keep the swimsuits for people who don't hate themselves?"

These shamesuits, staring at me at point-blank range, told a tale about how designers see my body, my demographic, and of course you can extrapolate that to how society sees us as well. You're either a frumpy soccer mom or a try-hard Real Housewife, is that it? And I had just so happened to walk into a shop aimed at the former instead of the latter. Had I not been so preoccupied with worry about these poor women getting tangled in those big, heavy shamesuits and plunging to their watery deaths at the bottom of the sea, I might have written the company an angry letter about it. I may still.

Tibi skirt (old), somewhat similar / Charter Club (Macys) cashmere sweater / baroque black pearl necklace (gift) similar / vintage Ferragamo pumps, similar / black pearl stud earrings (old), similar / thrifted denim jacket, similar / Ray Ban Jackie Ohh II sunglasses

Linking up with:  Not Dead Yet Style, Let it Shine, Elegantly Dressed and Stylish, Not Dressed As Lamb, Style Elixir, The Pleated Poppy

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sex Talk With Auntie Fashionista

Come here dears, and sit next to me on the Davenport. Your Auntie Fashionista wants to talk to you about sex. Well, not sex per se, but rather your sexual health. I realise that this is not an area that we are accustomed to talking about here - I usually try to stick to the fashion and accessories realms, but when a colleague asked me if I would help him spread the word about an upstart company called Dr. Felix that provides sexual health testing kits, doctor consultations, and even some treatment options online, I thought it sounded like a very good idea indeed.

You would think that after all of the corset-eschewing, bra-burning, sexual revolution-having mayhem that has been the last handful of decades, we humans would have mastered the task of looking after our sexual health with a degree of proficiency. You would think that as a health care professional in 2015, you would go your entire career and nary see a case of tertiary syphilis, let alone two.  Here in the UK, budgets for sexual health services are being slashed every year, kicking our already gasping sexual health programmes in the ribs when they are already up against the ropes, begging for mercy. There is still a strong abstinence movement in both my home country and my adopted one, even though all evidence points to the fact that abstinence works slightly less well than a chocolate teapot. Last year, the Herald reported on an alarming statistic that in Scotland alone, 400 children a year, some as young as twelve….twelve... are diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections. And those of course, were just the ones that were actually reported.

What your Auntie is trying to say here is that we have a problem. And it's not just a problem that other people have. Sexual health issues affect everybody, and we…The Royal We…must educate ourselves, educate our children, and take the appropriate measures to protect ourselves, and that includes getting tested.  You can order sexually transmitted infection kits right to your doorstep after consulting with a doctor, and send it off to the lab for testing. It's convenient, discreet, and could very well save your bacon. So if you're the type who simply cannot face the thought of walking into a sexual health clinic, there's no longer any need to die of embarrassment. And I mean that literally.

And now, your Auntie doesn't want to leave you feeling uncomfortable, so for your amusement, here is a series of photos of her practicing her "stern and matronly" face for the camera. Good day to you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Louis Moinet: A True Original

Louis Moinet is an independent, high-end watch brand that is based in Saint-Blaise, Switzerland. When they asked me if I wanted to participate in the launch campaign of their latest creation, the Memoris chronograph (for which I hasten to add I am not being paid), I jumped at the chance. You see, I have a bit of a thing about watches. Okay, full disclosure; it's more than a thing. It's actually more like a full-blown obsession, and Swiss-made timepieces are really and truly at the top of the timepiece food chain.

Case in point; every year, my husband and I usually find ourselves in Switzerland for a few days whilst in transit during the ski season. The very second you get off of a plane in Geneva, you are met with movie poster-size, gorgeous and glossy adverts for some of the most beautiful timepieces on the planet, all boasting exotic materials like chunks of meteorite, pieces of of dinosaur bone, or shavings of space shuttle. I simply cannot get enough of these beautiful works of art, and have been known to come to a dead stop, carry-on luggage in hand, in front of every single poster along the corridor, closely inspecting the timepieces pictured. This is a practice that usually ends with my husband dragging me away towards the baggage claim, still looking wistfully over my shoulder at the beautiful watches I covet.

For me, it's the inherent elegance of the marriage between something artistic and something pragmatic that really draws me to these timepieces. In the case of Louis Moinet, there's yet another ingredient that makes their pieces even more compelling; they have history on their side.

The original Louis Moinet was a visionary. Born in 1768 in Bourges, France, he began his early career as an artist and Professor of Fine Arts at the Musée de Louvre before finally indulging his long-held passion for horology. After 1800, Moinet was dedicating his time exclusively to horology and the making of timepieces. His commissions were impressive, and included clocks for the likes of Napoleon Bonaparte, King George IV of England, and Thomas Jefferson.

There is however, one particular invention of Moinet's that has forever changed the watchmaking world. He called it the "compte-tierce", which literally translates to "thirds counter". In Moinet's day, a third was how they referred to a sixtieth of a second. Moinet created his compte-tierce with the hopes that it would enhance another of his interests, his astronomical observations. Like so many great visionaries who exist in that beautiful place where art and science dance flirtatiously with mathematics, Moinet created something beautiful, pragmatic, and whose presence would change the face (pun intended) of watchmaking forever. He had invented what we now refer to as the chronograph.

It is this groundbreaking invention that the present day Louis Moinet company is honouring with the launch of the Memoris chronograph watch. The launch comes just in time for their tenth anniversary, which also happens to mark the bi-centenary of the invention of the chronograph.

While no one would argue that the chronograph is an area of watchmaking that has been left unexplored, the Louis Moinet company has taken this classic complication and given it pride of place by placing it front and center on the Memoris, the first-ever placement of its kind, and an action that seems fitting for a timepiece celebrating the invention of the chronograph.

After doing quite a lot of reading about the life and career of the original Louis Moinet, I was genuinely struck by just how on-point this timepiece really is. Moinet was a man whose natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge led him to be a master craftsman, an artist, a student of architecture, astronomy, a great sharer of ideas, and a great many other things as well. Moinet the company has managed to somehow blend all of these facets of Moinet the man into one seriously beautiful and well-appointed timepiece. To look upon the face of the Memoris, you can't help but feel a bit like you're looking deep into the inner-workings of the mind of the man himself.

The historical significance of this timepiece does not preclude it from having some very luxurious and modern finishes that secure its status as coming from one of the most prestigious watch-making ateliers in the business. In case like me, you are still in a bit of a daze from looking at these gorgeous photographs, I've broken down just a few of the particulars for you.

  • 46mm 
  • available in rose or white 18K gold
  • limited edition - just 60 pieces of each color available
  • 302 components; automatic, bi-directional "Energie Plus" winding system
  • 48 hour power reserve
  • 34 jewels
  • 52-piece case with two-part bezel and six screws
  • case back engraved with individual number and 7 screws
  • alligator leather strap with 18K gold folding clasp

The Louis Moinet Memoris has been nominated for the Grand Prix d'Horologie of Geneva for 2015.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fall Colours

This is just something that I wore to a meeting at work today. It wasn't meant to be an outfit of the day post, because quite frankly, it's not all that interesting, but sometimes you actually need something that isn't very interesting. When I'm not in scrubs at work, we tend to be a pretty low-key environment, so sitting in a quick meeting about blood gas sampling machines wearing a full "look" is more effort (not to mention garners more attention) than the situation probably warrants.

It was when I walked outside that I realised that I matched the landscape really, really well. That's certainly something that doesn't happen when you wear black all the time. Unless you live in Mordor  - in which case you should grab a few belongings and flee immediately.

French Connection merino sweater (old), similar / Gerard Darel trousers (old), similar / Missoni scarf (old), similar / thrifted bangle, similar

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Trend Testing With Sammy Dress

With fall now upon us, I've found myself thinking about more Southwestern-inspired pieces like little fringed booties, Native American jewellery, ponchos, and shearling. This is probably inspired by the colder weather, my recent guest post that my friend Susan did on her Native American turquoise that I cannot for the life of me get out of my head, and goodness knows what else. Karma. Let's just call it karma…although it's probably more like impressionable susceptibility, but never mind.

Because of my impressionable susceptibility karma, I had been wanting to try one of these faux shearling draped vests, but hadn't found exactly the right one, didn't want to spend too much…you know. All of the things that keep you from trying something that you may have seen and liked. Lucky for me, the good people at Sammy Dress agreed to send me this faux shearling sleeveless Turn-Down Collar Waistcoat.

I wasn't sure whether or not a piece like this would work on me, and as it turns out, Sammy Dress is a perfect way to find an answer to that question. They have one of the largest online catalogs of trend-inspired items anywhere on the net, and they make their products available to the customer at wholesale prices, making it the perfect place to get your feet wet with a trend that you want to try, without the heartbreak of investing a lot of money if you decide it's not for you.

I found this piece surprisingly cosy, and while I usually get driven mad by things with no front closure that constantly flap in the breeze, I felt that it actually draped pretty well against the body. The only caveat? It is a One Size item, and would definitely not work on someone much larger than I am. I am about a US 8-10 (UK 12), 5'10" so "one size" while close, is probably not the most accurate characterisation of the size of this garment. However, they have other similar varieties of this piece in their online catalog that come in different sizes, so all is not lost if you are a transitional or plus size and want to give this one a try.

I paired my waistcoat with some substantial jewellery that kind of gives off that Southwestern vibe, and boot cut jeans and flat chukka boots. I wanted to do something different from my usual uniform of skinny jeans, exposed ankles and booties, and I think I managed to achieve that. I'm actually quite fond of this silhouette, so you will probably be seeing it again in various permutations. Watch this space.

Waistcoat (as above) / Zara jeans / Clarks booties (old), similar / turquoise ring (old), similar / Nicky Butler for HSN gemstone ring (old), similar / turquoise bead necklace (old), similar / ruby zoisite necklace (old), similar

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fairy Tails

This is one of those cheap finds that on any other day, I probably would have walked right past. I found this asymmetric, long-tail top in the clothes portion of the local supermarket. I never even go into the clothes section of the supermarket, but for whatever reason, I was compelled to make my first (and to date, my only) visit on that day. I typically avoid these asymmetric tops that go over the hips. They are always designed to "give coverage" or "minimise" a common "problem area" of the body (something I have absolutely no interest in doing), but all they really end up doing is drawing attention to the very thing that the wearer is trying to downplay. However, this specimen seems to work, probably because from the front, it hits just at the waistband. Kind of like when you do a half-tuck with your shirt to give yourself more of a waistline.

I was drawn to this because I thought it would be a great layering piece, and I often struggle with what to wear under jackets. I'm finding that with age, t-shirts aren't always cutting it any more. While I initially lamented the rather insipid, beigey-pinkish-ivory color of the top, I have now made peace with it, and concede that actually it will probably work under a lot of different things. I found that it also looks really great with rose gold. So while I still think that as a color, it is a bit what the Scots would call peelie-wallie, I'm giving it a go.

This top was on the sale rack for £7, along with all other manner of spring and summer flotsam and jetsam. You know the stuff. The racks upon racks of pink, mint, and lavender floral prints, lacey tops, little camisoles in pale shades of salmon that simply should not exist…spring and summer always seem to make high street designers loose the plot a little bit and make all of these attempts at ethereal, polyester-based fairy princess clothes in ice cream colors. While I do not begrudge any woman wanting to feel like a princess, I draw the line at dressing like one. Unless I can be that princess who rides up on her horse in full armour, removes her helmet, and allows her steely locks to cascade down over the dragon family insignia on her breastplate. The kind of princess who likes to look pretty, but is going to seriously kick your ass if you step out of line.

Hence the shoes.

F&F (Tesco) top, similar / Seven for all Mankind jeans / Sam Edelman shoes (old) / thrifted Forever 21 jacket, similar / 14k rose gold bangle (old), similar / 14k rose gold and smoky quartz ring (old), similar / rose gold plated necklace (old), similar

This post has been shared with: Sydney Fashion Hunter, Not Dead Yet StyleStyle Nudge, Elegantly Dressed & Stylish

Friday, October 2, 2015

Eternal Glow

Welcome back to Jewellery Week here on the blog. I am happy to once again be collaborating with Eternal Collection, who have provided the beautiful Capri Murano Glass Necklace you see above.

While it's true that I am always banging-on about trying to get away from wearing black all the time (especially at this time of year), I concede that there are times when your hand is sort of forced. Often, when I'm planning a capsule wardrobe for a trip where I have a limited amount of stuff I can bring, I go there too.

However. I think it's important to retain a little bit of life and color in any look, especially when you are in head-to-toe neutral shades. That's where a piece like this Murano glass necklace comes in. It adds just a hint of deep red color; enough to light up your face a bit, but not so much that you won't be able to pair it with a million-bazillion different things in your wardrobe. I love red and black together, but it can be quite a formal-looking combination, so I chose to pair this necklace with a black wool blazer and tee and offset that formality with a pair of ripped-up boyfriend jeans and some tough gal wedge booties. It's an easy look to put together and pull-off, and the glow from the necklace guarantees that your face will likely remain the focal point of your look, instead of the latte that you may have spilled down the front of your shirt during the in-flight movie.

Eternal Collection necklace (as above) / Red Jasper and sterling ring (old), similar / Giorgio Armani blazer (old), similar / H&M tee / Calvin Klein jeans (old), similar / Kelsi Dagger booties (old), similar