Thursday, January 31, 2013

Musings on JC and other retailers new releases

Thank you all so much for your advice yesterday - it was awesome (and more on that below!)

Yesterday was the beginning of J Crew's spring arrivals.

While I was not thrilled at all by the lookbook, I did see some things that I liked and that might be nice additions to my spring wardrobe.  However - major caveat - I am not ordering ANYTHING until a) I see things in person in NYC or b) on a lovely JCA who takes the plunge for us all and c) is on some kind of promo!  I am sitting on a $100 gift card that just does not seem to want to be spent!

Merino sweater in inky floral print

The Merino Sweater in inky dot print.  I think this would go with my navys, is a good price and I could put my navy blouses underneath.  See - I am thinking of how to mix with what I have!

Collection featherweight cashmere cardigan in microcheck
The Featherweight cashmere cardigan in microcheck.  Again, would match with what I have and I do like the featherweight.  However, this is CRAZY expensive!!  A hundred dollars more than its solid cousins!  $310!  Not worth it for that!

I also like the Sera top in medallion paisley (as well as the matching cotton pencil skirt)

Sera top in medallion paisley

However, this is too much like the nightshade set I bought last year and did not wear much (maybe more this year - we will see...)

I think however, if I buy anything in this print, it might be the Rosie dress in the same print.  Can't wait to see some fellow bloggers review it!

Rosie dress in medallion paisley

I also liked the gilded brocade top below, which I think could look nice with my ivory linen trousers, jeans (and other things if I wanted to do the work) but which I am afraid is kind of aspirational dressing (unless I plan a trip and then I am all over it!)

Gilded brocade top

One thing I am waiting for and will pounce as soon as it is released: The peony tshirt below.  I may even call my VPS about this one as the peony is my favourite flower!  You can see it online here.

Pre-order Collection pencil skirt in floral sequins

That is it for me!  Not much huh?  My one horror:

The pixilated houndstooth skirt.  When I saw it in the lookbook, I liked the quirkiness of it. It would match with the valentina slingbacks I bought last summer.  I thought it would look fun with my pale lavender sweater.  I have a lovely apricot cardigan that it would look sweet with.  I thought "that could be my cheeky spring skirt"  Of course, we need to ask ourselves, does Wendy really need a cheeky spring skirt?  Well maybe not... However, when I saw that the fabric was poly acrylic it was a no go. Sigh... J Crew...

Pixilated houndstooth skirt

An addendum!  I visited Dani's blog yesterday and a collection tuxedo pencil skirt that I had dismissed turns out not only to be a wool/silk blend, but lined in silk!!!!!  This is shocking news!  It is also pretty and might look nice with my peony tshirt!

Collection tuxedo pencil skirt

ButI am also looking around... I visited the Garnet Hill website last night and saw a few things to like:

The Eileen Fisher Organic Cotton Ballet-Neck Dress.  I could see this belted and under cardis and jackets. 

Eileen Fisher Organic Cotton Ballet-Neck Dress

The Brora Liberty VNeck Jersey Dress:

Liberty V Neck Jersey Dress

The constant in all my choices?  For spring, it will be only silk or cotton.  I don't need much and whatever I do buy will have to be both comfortable fit-wise and in how it feels!  And it must breathe!

How about you?  Are you seeing anything in the new J Crew or other retailer's spring offerings that are caching your fancy?

Yesterday's discussion on identifying gaps was really interesting for me!  Some of you have it down pat, others, like me, are learning to identify gaps.  On Tuesday, I wore an outfit that made me uncomfortable all day.  It will not be repeated.

Today, I dug out a dress that I bought for $30 euros in monoprix in Paris (and have only worn twice!), and paired it with Michael Kors booties and my navy tippi.  I read recently that when you want to hide a multitude of sins that a fun way to wear a cardigan, besides simply leaving it open or belting it is to only button the top button and leave it to swing and be a little A line.  I tried it and quite liked it.  Most importantly, it was comfortable!  I think this dress is about to see heavy rotation in my wardrobe!

They call this "tonal" dressing and it is supposed to make you look thinner.  And apparently, you can do this with shades of any colour!  So hang on, I will be "tonal-ing" all over the place!!!  My one complaint in this pucture is I could use a little colour on my lips.  Ah well.  What do you think??

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Style Question Wednesday: Mind The Gap

Well, I have a question and it revolves around seasonal shopping.  And identifying wardrobe gaps.

A few days ago, I mentioned Fabulous Florida Mommy's seminal posts on Planning Your Fall Purchases.  It is such an amazing series of posts and was very helpful to me last fall.  Except, as I said previously, I made a list but did not stop at the list. If you want to read my optimistic list and feel my pain by all means stop in here.  You can feel the enthusiasm and certainty in my writing....

In reality, ALMOST every lovely new thing that caught my eye came home with me (actually, worse still it came in the mail to me, until the UPS man and I were accused of having a tawdry affair!).  Some of them went back.  Some of them have stayed.  Some have already gone to the JCA exchange or to the consignment shop.  We will not discuss this egregious lack of judgement on my part. is the thing...I wasn't sure what a "gap" was in my wardrobe!  And thus today's topic/question:

Oh sure - there are some obvious gaps.  Don't have a winter coat and live in Canada?  Yes, you ought to get one.  Jeans no longer fit?  Ditto.  But was the yellow skirt/grey skirt/apricot sweater/whatever I bought a gap in my wardrobe or was it just because I didn't have a yellow skirt/grey skirt/apricot sweater or whatever?

When I look at my fall list, I see that I never did find a white/ivory blouse that I loved.

I did find a new dressy coat, which I got as a Christmas present, but of course it has been so cold, I haven't worn it much yet.  It will have its day!

I wanted a pea coat (I got two!) which I really loved. 

I got a nice day dress that could go into night.  Except it never did.  Someday it will though, so I can live with that!

 I found a long sleeve party frock.

The colourful shoes I bought fell apart in November (cheap is as cheap does - my new mantra!):


I got my green bag,

 I got nice boots, but not quite what I was looking for. 

So in general, I did well with the list.  But I got caught up in the bright shiny objects and sales.  And I still believe I have too much in my closet.  I know that in comparison with others, I have a middling-sized wardrobe at best.  But for someone who struggles to make it all work, it still feels like WAY too much.

And what did I wear a lot of?  My two cheap Joe Fresh dresses bought for a song, my Paige premium stretchy black jodphur pants, my black ca va de soie pullover, my tweed JC cafe capris.  My JC polka dot blouses.  My jeans.  My Nougat London knit/silk dress with the pattern and my tippi cardis.  My new Brora cardi is already in heavy rotation.  Anything blue...What did I wear a lot of: clothes that I felt COMFORTABLE in.  Okay, I am starting to see a trend...

So today's question is relatively simple: how do you determine what your gaps are?  Please don't tell me you just realize you need a new suit; THAT I understand fully.  Perhaps I am mixing gaps with trends or just sheer greediness?  Some of you amazing ladies with wardrobes and style to die for - how do you identify what your wardrobe needs to pep itself up or what your gaps are?

If left to my own devices I would think that my gaps for Spring would be the following:

1) a really comfortable dress that I could dress up or down and wear anywhere - I am actually looking at Eileen Fisher at Garnet Hill
2) a nice new pair of in-style shoes that are VERY comfortable
3) a light pair of jeans

I can't think of anything else my wardrobe REALLY needs besides losing 10 pounds!  So I throw it out to you all: how do you identify your gaps?  How do you decide what trends you will participate in or NOT?

One thing, I know for sure: I will NOT be partaking in all of the JCrew trends in 2013. 

This doesn't mean I won't pick up a few things along the way.  But I will be much choosier.  Almost everything that I chose that was a) beautifully photographed and which I really desired but which I either could not really pull off or did not have the lifestyle for or b) just plain trendy, did not serve me well.  I returned so many things these past few months that I realized that I could no longer keep up with it all.  It wasn't a financial issue; it was a fashion fatigue issue.  Or maybe simply a J Crew issue?  Who knows?  Regardless, I have resolved to be pickier about quality and what will work on my own body, even if it does look divine on someone with the figure of say our beloved Dani or A Bigger Closet.

But I really need your advice on wardrobe gaps.  What do YOU think?

As always, I love your advice and wish you the happiest of Wednesdays!  Stay Safe out there!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

High Heel Horror Story

My mother-in-law tells me that in the mid 1950s, students in her home economics class were taught to walk in heels.  While this seems very old-fashioned, it is also kind of sweet.

But these were kinder times and the heels that these girls were taught to walk in were 2 or 3 inches high. 

And then the 1970s came, and many women put away the heels. I came of age in the 70s and no one was wearing heels that I hung out with - we were reading MS magazine and wearing sensible shoes.  Oh sure, the disco era came and went but I wore little chinese shiny slippers, never learning to walk in high heels and always thinking I looked stupid trying to do so.  And so, I never went above 3" heels (and 3" was considered high by me!)

And then a few years ago, I saw heels get higher and higher and higher...

It started innocently enough - what would have been a mid-heel, topped up with a little platform:

Even schmucks like me could do it...

But then they went higher, so high that the wearer actually needed an oxygen mask:


Now don't think I am simply a whiner because I cannot wear these myself.

But here's the rub: every stylist in Hollywood is putting every actress into these shoes.  But they have forgotten one crucial thing: they have forgotten that many of these poor women are like me: they can't do the high heels.  Or even worse: they can wear the heels, but they have no idea how to walk gracefully in them.

Since it is Hollywood Award season, I have gotten plenty of opportunity to see this in action - A list actresses struggling to walk the red carpet, unable to walk up little stairs. 

A couple of weeks back, I saw the spunky Lea Dunham, she of the much bellyhooed show, Girls, all gussied up for the Golden Globes.

Now this girl is sweet.  And exuberant.  I haven't seen her show, but when I saw her unbridled excitement when she won, I couldn't help but like her!  But when I saw her get up and walk across the room I was horrified.  She did not know how to walk in heels and even worse, her stylist had completely ignored that fact and put her in shoes that were not possible for her to walk in.  She lurched across the room.  She lurched up the stairs to receive her award.  She lurched acoss the stage afterwards.

So I ask:  whatever happened to the kitten heel?  What ever happened to the mid-heel?  Where is Sofia Coppola in her ballet flats?  Must every stylist in Hollywood torture these actresses by placing them in 6" heels?

I say: stop the madness!  These are long dresses.  If fitted well and hemmed properly, a smaller heel can be worn without anyone being any the wiser.  If you are 5'2", is it not exciting enough to be 5'4"?  Must you be 5'8"?

What do you think?  Do you think these heels are getting over the top, too or am I just a cranky old 50 year old with flat feet?  Okay - wait - I am the latter regardless, so don't answer that question!!

 So happy Tuesday!  And for you lovely ladies who can wear these high heels: I salute you!!

Have a happy day and stay safe out there!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday, Monday: SAG Dresses and Style Advice to Tame a Peacock

Happy Monday All!

T.S. Eliot famously wrote that "April is the cruellest month", while

Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers

But here's the thing: I am pretty sure T.S. Eliot never lived in Canada in the winter.  It has been -20 to -35 with the winchill for over a week straight and when I woke up to -15 this am, I thought about breaking out the flipflops. I am well and truly sick of my long black down coat, which husband has taken to calling my "cloak of darkness". 

So last night, I revelled in watching the arrivals of the stars to the Screen Actors Guild Awards, if only to see something that was not covered in down!

My favourites?

I was quite crazy about Amanda Seyfried's dress - so becoming and the colour was lovely!

I also really liked what Julianne Moore wore (which is pretty typical for me):

Jennifer Lawrence also wore navy to great effect:

But the poor thing ripped her dress on the way to receive the award (but was totally cool on stage!)

Actress Jennifer Lawrence's wardrobe malfunctions as she collected her award for Best Female Actor in Film

Claire Danes continue to impress me, last night she was wearing Givenchy, which artfully takes care of the 6 week postpartum body (not that she needs it - I think I am carrying her baby weight!)


But my favourite?  Marion Cotillard in what else?  Christian Dior!

The one thing about award season - it takes my mind off my Cloak of Darkness!

On another somewhat related topic, I am still on my self-imposed and disciplined shopping ban.  Since I am not working right now, I am not even really wearing my dress clothes, though I do try and dress somewhat nicely each day!  If you recall - I week or so ago I ordered the british kakhi minnies and metallic blue ballets with some paypal funds I had, but had no idea if they were going to arrive since the order was so odd.  Well they came late Friday afternoon and all is well.  I will take a picture of the shoes later today and share.

So I am shopping my closet and trying to wear things that I have not worn much this winter to see if I can justify their existence in my closet.  One of these items is my Basler peacock blazer.  In June of last year, I HAD to have it when I saw it on the rack at my local boutique.  But it is a lot of jacket, if you know what I mean, and I have only worn it once or twice.  But it was EXPENSIVE, so I am trying to find one outfit a week to pair it with to get my cost-per-wear down!

Saturday night, we went to a dinner party.  It was -25 so no dress or skirt for me, and it was basically a casual dinner anyway.  So out came the peacock jacket, which I paired with a simple Michael Kors navy pullover and jeans and loafers.

This is a unique jacket which I love on the one hand, but loathe on the other.  Because I seem to lack sartorial imagination, it easily creeps into Golden Girls territory if not treated carefully!  All outfit ideas are gratefully accepted.  Given the stupid price I paid for this, I need to wear it till  am 70!

Well that's it!  How were your weekends?  Any big plans for the week?  Stay safe out there!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A love letter to Pride and Prejudice

It was 1980.  I was 17 years old and I had just watched episode 1 of the BBC's adaptation of Pride and Prejudice on Masterpiece Theatre. 

Elizabeth Bennet played by Elizabeth Garvie in Pride and Prejudice (1980)

I was enthralled.  I could not wait until the next Sunday (a whole 7 days away!) to find out what happened next!  So immediately after school the next day I went to the library and checked out the book.  By Thursday I was done.  And thus began my love affair with Jane Austen.  Over the course of the next two months I read every one of her books, and then re-read them. 


Tomorrow marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of this most beloved of books.  I must admit - until reading about the anniversary in yesterday's Globe and Mail, I had quite forgotten that Pride and Prejudice was also a January baby.

I won't add to the literary analysis of why these books have stood the test of time - I am certainly incapable of adding much there!  But for me, this book spoke to me at the time and still does today because it was witty, and her characters were like people I knew, even though they were from a completely different time and place.  And though her portrayal of characters was laser-like and at times lethal - Jane Austen obviously did not suffer fools gladly and was cynical - there was also a great romanticism at odds with that cynicism.  All of the things that so appeal to a young woman (and in fact Jane was only 21 when she finished writing it, though it was revised and published when she was much older).

And when I read about Jane's life at the time she was writing the book, it seemed about as far away as mine at 17.  No boys I dated or wanted to date could provide the romantic repartee of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.

I have yet to meet a man who has read Jane's books, though most men I know seem to really like the movies.  My husband was quite besotted with the 1995 miniseries with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth.

odd that I chose this picture...
In addition to movies and ministeries based on her works, so many other movies have adapted the plots of her books either subtly or blatantly (my favourites? Clueless and Bridget Jones's Diary) or been a love letter to one of her books (You've Got Mail) that Jane and her work continues to thrive.  I also really loved the movie, Becoming Jane with Anne Hatheway, a movie purported to be based on Jane's early life.

This is a book that I would take in my crate of books to a desert island.  And one of my fantasies is to go to England and tour various Austen sites (along with various Virginia Woolf and Bronte sister sites) and walk in her shoes, if only for a moment.

For those of you who are interested, the Jane Austen Centre in Bath has all kinds of nifty things on their website and great information here.

While it may be common, I must admit that Pride and Prejudice remains my favourite of her books.  So tomorrow I will raise a glass to the book and to Jane.  I may even see if I can find mutton somewhere in the city - since to me mutton seems quintessentially regency period - and put on a nice frock for dinner.  I will probably dig out my DVD box set of the 1995 miniseries and for sure, I will take a moment and skim some of the book (I doubt I will get through it all in one or two days as I did 33 years ago!) and reread my favourite quote (which is so cheeky!):

"Will you tell me how long you have loved him?"
"It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley."

Here's to you Jane Austen and to your Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy (whose first name we will never know!): thank you for 200 years! 

Happy Sunday all and stay safe out there!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday Musings

Hello All and Happy Saturday!  Saturdays are very odd for me now that I am not working - every day feels like Saturday - sort of!

We have a relaxing day in store - working around the house, reading and then going to a friend's house for dinner.  All good!

Yesterday was a quiet day - I repotted plants that badly needed repotting, Barry made wild mushroom risotto and I started thinking about Spring.  Again.  I do not think I have ever thought this much about Spring before - I believe it is the combination of having time enough to see the world around me and the bloody cold weather!

Musing 1: British Vogue

I read the February issue of British Vogue yesterday.  While I do not read British Vogue with any regularity, I find it very interesting, as the aesthetic and tone is so different from Vogue US. 

It appears that British Vogue is really trying to bring back the supermodel.  For many years, as we all know, fashion magazines have only featured movie or TV stars on their covers.  I personally miss the days of Christy, Linda, Naomi, Cindy and Heidi.  I think Kim Alexis was on every issue of Glamour I ever read as a teen.  I always loved seeing how differently the models would be styled.  And they were so beautiful!

I do not know if this is a british actress on the cover, but i don't think so - i am sure someone knows - I googled and could not find it out and I only have the issue on my Ipad and couldn't find it.  There is a whole spread in the magazine about 4 British "it" models and "ittest" of all is Cara  Delevigne, who was voted Britain's Model of the Year for 2012 (I know all this because I googled it - my son is certainly aware of her and filled in the rest!).  She is found everywhere I read these days and she certainly racked up the most frequest walker miles at the Paris fashion shows.  It feels as if they want Miss Cara to be the next Kate Moss, so I will interested to see.

That's not model behaviour: The 20-year-old model of the moment couldn't have looked further away from the fashion jet-set as she touched down in the French capital
It turns out if you are really beautiful, you can wear anything and still look good...
 There was also an article in the magazine about Frugality.  It appears that very high end fashionistas are being forced to shop their closets and choose only one $2000 or $3000 item per season due to the poor economy.  Who knew we had so much in common?

There was also a lovely article about Damian Lewis from Homeland and his lovely wife, Helen McCrory.  I have quite a crush on him.  The most interesting thing to me is that when I was googling to get a nice picture of them to insert here, at least 80% of their pictures have them turned in or touching each other.  I would say this is a couple that actually love each other very much! (Now I say that and suddenly they divorce next week - sure hope not...)

Musing 2: Spring Wardrobes

I have been reading with interest that some of my favourite bloggers are making their spring fashion lists.  Do you recall Fabulous Florida Mommy's wonderful series on planning for a new season's purchases?  If you missed it, by all means go here.  The other parts can be found here and here.

Oh I made a fall list all right.  But as I joked a couple of weeks ago, I needed to not only make my list, but have FFM hold the money for it so I wouldn't keep going and buy more than I needed to buy.  Which I did, sadly.  I am pretty sure I bought 3 times as many things as were on the list.  But just like those Jennifer Hudson Weight Watcher commericals, we fall down and get back up again!  This year I am on a budget and I am sticking to it.  I have also decided that this time of year is too early for me personally to make a list or buy anything, at least until I get a good lay of the Spring 2013 fashion land.  I think last year I bought early and then I just kept buying as cute and pretty things kept rolling out. 

One thing I came across yesterday that I LOVE are these Chie Mihara shoes.  I know many of you swear by this brand.  I have never had them on my feet.  These have a 2.5 " heel and there is something about them...I am afraid however they might be too trendy?  They are very expensive, $410 CDN, so I would not go near them until they went on sale, but would love your opinion?  Oh wait - you say I should look at all my spring and summer clothes from last year before I even consider buying them?  Yes - you are right.  But I can already imagine several things that would go with them divinely....What do you think of them?  We can't go near sandals around here until early June, but these could be worn beginning in April...


Chie Mihara's OSHARE shoes can be bought here.  I have re-christened them OSHAREWITHWENDY! (GF - that one was for you!)

Musing 3: Flowers

Tulips have started showing up in our grocery store and I am buying a bunch every week.  This time of year, when the weather is so wretched and the light is so poor, I find that having flowers constantly on my table makes me happy.  Since my own tulips won't bloom till late May, these give me a taste of things to come!

How about you?  What are you doing this fine Saturday?  Any deep (!) thoughts on supermodels, frugality, spring wardrobes or tulips?

Have a safe and happy day out there!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Miller Time Friday - A Little Whiskey and some Flowers

Despite my seemingly tough-as-nails exterior (that was a joke - just want to make sure you all know that was a joke - look up softy in the dictionary and you will see me, wearing some god-awful outfit!) I am drawn to ANYTHING floral. 

My ultimate fantasy trip?  An all-expense-paid trip to the Chelsea Flower Show!

The description of one of the gardens at last year's show:

The M&G Garden designed by Andy SturgeonInspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, the ‘New English’ design celebrates traditional craftsmanship, the beauty of natural materials and country garden planting. The focal point is the ‘energy wave’ sculpture, made from copper rings, weaving through the garden.

Doesn't that sound divine?  This year's show runs from May 15 to May 21 and alas, i will not get to visit it, I fear. 

But when I do get to go, you will find me tripping through gardens such as the one below

And perhaps keeping my eye out for HER...

Fortunately for me, until my dream trip or until I can get out into my own garden, spring fashion always gives me plenty of florals to ooh and ahh over:

How about the Liberty toothpick jean in Emma and Georgina floral from J Crew?  While i have not seen this pattern in real life, it looks very pretty online.

Liberty toothpick jean in Emma and Georgina floral

Or a sweet shoe to wear with your jeans or summer capris?  Then the Collection Cece Liberty floral ballet flats could be for you.

Collection Cece Liberty floral ballet flats

Anthropologie can always be counted on for a lovely floral or two, and if tiny flowers are not your thing and you will have a lovely tan this summer, this little Heian Shift  might work for you:

Heian Sheath

Maybe you would like a simple black pump with a wee flower at the end, like this one from Talbots, The Brina?

Brina Flower Patent Leather Square-Toe Pump

Now, if money was no object, I would add the following item to my Spring wardrobe:

Oscar de la Renta Embroidered silk-organza dress

The Oscar de la Renta Embroidered silk-organza dress.  For approximately $6500, this could be yours.  It would be perfect for all of the Canada Day Garden Parties I get invited to each July 1st.

Why all the flowers today?  Well, with the windchill this morning, it is -35!  One needs a diversion!

However, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge this most holy of days for Scots around the world:

Robbie Burns Day!

Dani, tonight's Miller Time will toast Mr. Burns and all our scottish ancestors (and current Scottish friends!) with some good whiskey.  I'll bring the following bottle from my liquor shelf, which has been waiting for an opportune time to be drunk!  I am assuming Tabs will bring Haggis...

The Balvenie 12 Year Doublewood Bottle

I thought I would end with my favourite Robbie Burns poem, which I have not read for awhile, but which is a good reminder for me and is certainly reminiscent of the themes we have been discussing in this little corner of the world this week:

Here's a bottle and an honest friend

Here's, a bottle and an honest friend!
What wad ye wish for mair, man?
Wha kens, before his life may end,
What his share may be of care, man.

Then catch the moments as they fly,
And use them as ye ought, man:
Believe me, happiness is shy,
And comes not ay when sought, man.
Ah Robbie Burns, you are so right!

Happy Friday!  Stay safe and warm out there! xoxo