Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Best Dressed Lists - No Thanks

For the most part, best dressed lists do not mean much to me. Who makes those "best dressed" lists? It doesn't seem to have anything to do with being well-dressed but rather who you are and where you go and where you are seen.

Recently I perused Calgary's Avenue magazine featuring their best dressed choices. The clothing and accessories ranged from a blouse from Urban Outfitters, a dress bought from a consignment online store,, shoes purchased at Aldo and Chanel, items from Holt Renfrew and the Bay to earrings bought at the Women in Need Society Thrift Store. The NICE in this list was the variety and range of clothing. High-end designers were visible but not on everyone represented. The ages ranged from 20/30 somethings to 50+somethings. There were four men and seven women, and one couple which actually made it the 11 Best Dressed in Calgary for 2017. Although I appreciated the variety and neutrality of clothing bought at Urban Outfitters and the Bay, I didn't see the "best" in this list. If this is the "best", the eccentric meets "the best" criteria as well as the mediocre. I do commend those who mix the likes of H&M and designer choices in one ensemble.

Harper's Bazaar has a weekly best dressed list. Weekly? This weekly best dressed list again smacks of mediocrity and only focuses on celebrities that need the media attention. I suppose Harper's plays the role but really identifying people who they claim to be best dressed when they are simply dressed has lessened my opinion this endeavour. With that, the weekly Harper's best dressed list has gotten old for me. Like I said, it's a dressed list but not necessarily a "best" dressed list. It is just like any other posting of what a particular celebrity is wearing in a particular week.

The judgement required to value someone as best dressed is so subjective it can not be worth anything to anyone. It may have some entertainment value but in my opinion that is all. Perhaps, if there was a rationale by the adjudicator of what and why he or she considered the clothing the best or why the person who is wearing the clothing should be so designated. 

My mother's words come back to haunt me - If you are going to be critical, be prepared to provide a better "widget", idea or plan of action.

OK mom, I now have no other choice but to start working on this blog's 2017 Best Dressed List or perhaps a Well Dressed List. Yes that's it, A Well Dressed List.

Best dressed lists - still a NO THANKS - but now maybe a Well-Dressed List can replace the "best".

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Marketing Clothing Sales Alternatives

NO THANKS: If I know that a company is Multi-level marketing, I seldom buy. Prices have to be inflated to compensate for the tiered payout system in place. Recently a friend was invited to a CAbi home sales party and she asked my opinion. Just knowing that it is MLM was enough for me to say, NO THANKS. She went online to do some research and came to the conclusion that perhaps when the company was first started by Carol Anderson, the quality was there but now the company has been sold and the new management is milking the old model with new cutbacks, which essentially means the quality is jeopardized. How many Tupperware purchases have been made just so that you don't offend the hostess? Whenever one feels coerced there is a problem and that can be the greatest reason not to go to a "party".

NOTE-WORTHY: Online buying can be likened to the "olden days" of catalogue buying. Two important differences are choice and speed of response. In Canada, the old Eaton's and Simpon's Sears companies offered catalogue shopping as a convenience in much the same way as online shopping offers that type of convenience now. Catalogues are still produced albeit more as promotional "lookbooks" to help make purchase choices. Both methods are plagued with difficulties in "return policies" and no matter how "easy" the ability to return is, a return is still a pain.

Online buying is perfect if you know your product, your size and your style preferences. How do you know all those things? Probably by having purchased the brand before. You know the sizing peculiarities, you love the style and you're satisfied with the quality of the product. The other way, of course, is by visiting a storefront and doing your shopping there and your buying online. This seems very unfair to the storefront which had to put money on the line for stock, rent and sales associates to cater to your whims. 

Radius dress by Judith and Charles.
Photo Source: Judith and Charles
The best case scenario is when you buy from the designer online store after you have seen it at the storefront. Joelle Aidan did that after she visited the Judith and Charles store in Calgary and then found a great dress for sale at their online store. Click here to see the sales section for some classic pieces that will be in your closet for a good while.

NICE: Storefront shopping requires the most effort on the parts of both the vendor and the buyer. Yet it can be the most rewarding for the consumer. Brian, the ballet flats guy known on this blog, has developed satisfying relationships with sales associates at Tory Burch; and Joelle Aidan is recognized by several at Holt Renfrew in Calgary. They both have purchased online but always return to the storefront. 

Monday, 3 April 2017

The Blazer: Winter to Spring Transition

Spring allows you to get the last bit of wear out of winter pieces when you match them up with last year's summer wear or splurge on a new trend.

Although cardigans are supposed to be a 2017 spring trend, I still prefer blazers.

A lightweight fine-weave wool blazer that you wore in winter can continue through the spring worn with walking shorts, jeans, a pencil skirt or a sheath dress, depending on your needs.

A blazer will:
bump up casual to business casual with whatever you choose to wear to work 
keep you warm in the evening over a lightweight dress. That look can take you through summer evenings as well.  
add an element of sophistication to jeans and a t-shirt

A cardigan just doesn't do it in the same way.

The Smythe Duchess Blazer. Photo Source: KateMiddletonStyle
When it comes to blazers, Smythe is the way to go. A friend in Calgary  introduced them to me and both of us find the tailoring impeccable. The brand is definitely an investment purchase. And, just to let you know, if you buy yourself a Smythe Les Vestes blazer now, you will be wearing it for as long as Kate Middleton has worn hers, probably longer. 

Middleton has been wearing Smythe blazers for the past six years at least. She has worn both the navy and green one-button blazer in 2011 in Canada, and the navy in 2012 in London and 2014 in Glasgow. If Middleton can do that, so can you.

Buy it in a basic colour such as black, cobalt, chambray, navy, army or camel and it will never go out of style. They renamed the one button blazer, the "duchess blazer" after Middleton wore the Toronto brand during her trip to Canada in 2011. 

NICE for Smythe, Middleton and anyone who owns one!

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

3 Spring Must Haves: the Dress, the Shoes, the Bag

NEED for Spring 2017

a silky or slinky dress  

matching flats or heels

the cinch bag

Photo Source: Lucian Matis
A dress in a floral pattern can be the basis for you to indulge in your love of shoes. Buy a dress like this design by Lucian Matis and choose one of the colours for your shoes to complement the dress. The patterned shoes in the photo just don't do it. 

Focus on the pinks, reddish-oranges, yellows and greens and search your shoe stash or buy some new ones in each of those colours. The pantone colours for spring are not pastel and not the neon brights. They seem to be earthier, subdued; what you might find in Victorian chintz.

Photo Source: Pantone

Photo Source: DailyMail
With Pantone identifying "flame", an orangey-red, as one of the top 10 colours for Spring, 2017, it would be fun to have a silky dress in that colour. Your ensemble for casual summer weddings would be taken care of with a matched combination like that. Like Pippa Middletone, you could even go shopping in New York or out for lunch in that matched set and not feel overdressed.

Whether floral or solid, the dress and the shoes are the focus. The bag is strictly functional and would look great in either hazelnut, niagra or kale. 

There must be something in your closet in the 2017 spring colour tones. Resurrect it and add something new to update it and voila, you are aware of the trends without looking overtly trendy.

My personal taste is more subdued and so I would likely choose "island paradise", "pale dogwood" or "niagra" if I were to search for a a dress-shoes match.

Photo Source: Nordstrom
Bags for the spring are interesting. They range from gigantic oversized to credit card tiny. The bag in the middle is the cinch bag, which is reinstated every three or four years. Nordstrom is already sold out of this one, which looks like it could pass for the colour, "hazelnut". Several luxury houses such as Lancel always have a cinch bag available albeit in materials and finishes that eventually date it. My Lancel "flirt bag" is leather with a stamped finish and that is what dates it. I still love my Lancel "flirt" but there you have it, no matter what, we are victims of the trend and colour of the moment. 

The 2017 spring trends don't seem outlandish or out of the typical closet colour spectrum and so with a little ingenuity, you may be able to reuse, reassemble and make it look so Spring 2017.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Spring Thoughts on Shoes for a Comfortable Casual Look


I received an email from Stewart Weitzman Canada and was enamoured with the variety of flats.

Photo Source: Stewart Weitzman Canada
I loved the colour of these blue ballerina style flats and I can see myself wearing them with my casual summer wardrobe that includes a lot of blue, white and beige. However my No Thanks on this pair is that they are suede. I do have several pairs of suede shoes although I opt for dark colours such as black, purple . . . a darker blue. The beige ones I have, I tend not to wear often or have restricted them to "inside" shoes just because of the difficulty of cleaning suede. Stewart Weitzman has them in black but I have also made a Note-Worthy resolution and that is not to buy another pair of black shoes in 2017. These do say that spring is in the air.

Photo Source: Stewart Weitzman Canada
My other passion are metallic flats and they too are often restricted to indoor shoes. This habit has evolved after the first pair of Geox metallic flats I owned. The metallic finish wore out quickly and I do not believe that I was harder on them than any other pair of shoes. These loafers come in an embossed leather that appears to be a mottled grey and beige. That might be Nice. 

Besides sandals these flats seem to be the only styles I wear.  Ballerinas and loafers are my preferred comfortable casual shoe to finish of that particular look. 

Metro in High Shine.
Photo Soource: Stewart Weitzman Canada
No Thanks for me but Nice for others. When it comes to shoes, the chunkiest I get is a wedge heel in the summer. I don't do the sport luxe look often but if you do, these Metro in High Shine tie-ups are very cool. I defer to proportion and I just can't handle a chunky shoe owing to my height and size. If I could I would be looking seriously at these. 

Just like the fall when my "back to school mentality" kicks in, I experience "new shoes for Easter" thoughts and this year there may be more than one pair in the plan. Thank you Stewart Weitzman for the email. 

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

A Victim of Malware - No Thanks

I haven't posted in awhile because of an internet curiosity. Of course, we are all exposed to malware and I was the victim of a malware episode last week. As I recount what I did, I want to hit myself on the head and call myself stupid; however, what is done is done and because I own a MAC, I believe that I was not "infected" as such. Although I do understand that malware can use multiple techniques to conceal itself and that still enters my thoughts. At least, after talking to the techie at the MAC store, I do not believe that my computer has been violated as such; however . . . 

Here's what happened: After receiving an email (regarding my writing and payment) and "doing" what the "person" instructed me to do (?click fraud? - stylewe was the site assigned by the email) I received a warning message about malware. Of course it told me to call or contact a particular body with phone number given and to do it immediately. I didn't. I called the MAC store instead and although the techie was probably shaking his head as he listened to what I did, he did say that I did not do the most important thing and that was to follow the contact information to get rid of the malware. I am led to believe, that you have to actively go through a process to essentially install the malware on a MAC. And I am assuming that would be the advice I would get if I had followed the malware message on my screen. Thankfully I did not contact them to allegedly get rid of the malware or rather install the malware. Instead the MAC guy told me to shut off the computer and then to simply turn it on again. I did. No malware message and my computer seems to be working perfectly since then, without any messages to help me get rid of anything. Yet, my thoughts go back to the idea of concealment.

Knowing that the prime objective is to steal personal and financial information, I did change my passwords for my own peace of mind. I do very little financial business online; however it's not how much you do, you just have to have done it. That concerns me. I do learn from my mistakes.

You won't be reading anything from me in awhile. I have decided to take my computer in for a "checkup" just in case.  I have to remember a line from a Steven Seagal movie, "Assumption is the mother of all fuck ups."

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

ITSO. . . In the Style of Kellyanne Conway. . .

NO THANKS . . . an opinion

There are features in this woman's style which are examples of how not to present yourself. Katharine Hepburn told Jane Fonda that it is ". . . not just what you have on and how you look, but your presentation as a human being in all levels was important." (Retrieved from a People interview with Fonda)
Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.
- Coco Chanel

And what is happening is slightly disconcerting to many of us. One can conclude that she is simply presenting the style, the mannerisms, the way of being that represents the man she is working for and essentially all those who voted for him. She supports him and has never wavered in that support. That is commendable. However, there were many through history who supported dictators and imbeciles who managed to be in or lead in government office. Enough of that rant . . . 

Five No Thanks Features in Kellyanne Conway's style . . . 

Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us. 
– Virginia Woolf

Photo Source: A Reuters photo
retrieved on February 28, 2017 from 
MarketWatch (posted January 20, 2017)
1. No Thanks to dressing in a costume-look when attending an event other than a costume party. There are ways it could have been made to look less costume-y; however the best advice is to stay away from any hint of a costume look.

According to a MarketWatch  summary, Kellyanne Conway reportedly called her Gucci-designed red, white and blue coat, which she wore to the presidential inauguration, “revolutionary wear". Alrighty then . . .
To me, clothing is a form of self-expression – there are hints about who you are in what you wear. 
– Marc Jacobs

Photo Source: Retrieved  February 28, 2017
from DailyMail (posted January 7, 2017)
2. Jackets with frou frou are trendy and therefore become dated quickly making for a clownish appearance rather than a classic one. In this case, what appears to be a gold lamé jacket seems "off" when going for lunch.  She is often seen in red and it suits her. The clothing elements completing this beige base does not look "stylish", or "put together" properly. 

Maybe it looked ok in the mirror when she finished dressing but it certainly did not photograph well. This is something with which most of us do not have to concern ourselves. However, in an age when it seems the greatest selling feature of a phone is the quality of the pictures it takes, more of us are finding ourselves in photographs we wish never would have been taken. We all want to look our best in photographs so you would think, those in the public eye would be more careful.

Notice that this particular jacket offends at two levels: inappropriate for a noon luncheon (especially at the White House) and it doesn't appear to fit.

Photo Source:
Retrieved February 28, 2017 from the
DailyMail (posted July 5, 2016)
3. Kellyanne Conway has a fit figure and looks good in much of what she wears; however, there are many photographs that show her wearing something that appears to fit too small. When it comes to style, "fit" is everything. 

A non-clothing style feature in this photo is the importance of posture. But is it her posture or is it an under-clothing thing? Perhaps she just needed a better bra. Whichever it is, she should have worn a jacket over this dress. I am partial to jackets and I believe, just as men wear suits and jackets in business and formal situations, women are wise to borrow the look. Of course, wear a dress or skirt and shirt under the jacket but wear a jacket. Not only is it more formal, it also camouflages particular features. But be careful when choosing a jacket . . . 

Photo Source: Reuters Photo
Retrieved  February 28, 2017 from NYPost 
(Posted November 13, 2016)
Does this jacket not fit properly? It's hard to tell with this particular style. When it is worn open as it is here, it looks like the fit is too small and so the wearer hopes that it will be passable if it is left undone. No Thanks. It was better done up as in the photograph on style point #2.

Clothing can be expensive but if it doesn't fit well, it will look cheap.  Cheap clothing that fits well is truly more stylish.

The only real elegance is in the mind; if you’ve got that, the rest really comes from it.
– Diana Vreeland

Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.
 – Rachel Zoe

Photo Source: Retrieved February 28, 2017 from DailyMail
4. There are many famous quotes about style that go beyond what one is wearing. Kellyanne Conway appears to be wearing an appropriate dress for a meeting but maybe a jacket would have added an element of formality to match the gathering (but not the jacket she chose to wear in the previous two photos). In this example, her choice of clothing is less important than what she is doing. Why was she going through unflattering contortions to take a photo? Her physical position on the couch seems incongruous to her professional position and as others have noted, disrespectful to the visitors. Simply, she should be attending to the business happening in the oval office, not to the photo op. Someone took the photo of her; perhaps she should have left the official photographer to do his or her work. No Thanks to her lack of proper behaviour in a formal setting.

Clothes aren’t going to change the world, the women who wear them will.
– Anne Klein 

5. In her role of White House advisor, I expect more . . . more decorum, more thoughtful expression, more intelligent responses, more respect, more of what one aspires to be and not of what one is embarrassed to watch.

To have style definitely has less to do with what you wear. It is how you speak, how you carry yourself, how you behave and how you treat other people. So here's a big No Thanks to Kellyanne Conway's style from one Canadian's perspective.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

ITSO . . . In the Style Of . . . Katharine Hepburn

Dressing up is a bore. At a certain age, you decorate yourself to attract the opposite sex, and at a certain age, I did that. But I'm past that age. 
- Katharine Hepburn

Yet in a People interview with Jane Fonda on Katharine Hepburn, Fonda recalls many comments about perception, mainly other peoples' perceptions. Hepburn said to Fonda, when the two worked together in the movie, On Golden Pond, "You never could’ve made it back then,". It must have taken Fonda aback; however Fonda did not demonstrate any annoyance . . . 

She taught me that self-conscious isn't necessarily bad, that it's important to be aware of how you present [yourself.], . . . Not just in what you have on and how you look, but your presentation as a human being in all levels was important. 
- Jane Fonda 

My chosen quote by Hepburn represents two different ways of thinking and time frames, whereas, Fonda's recollection comes directly from a Hollywood setting. One can conclude that the realistic Hepburn in Hollywood was aware of perception, even though she seemed to be rather rebellious when it came to adopting man-style shirts and pants into her wardrobe in 1940.

There are many who have been inspired by Katharine Hepburn's style. GlamAmorin a 2012 post, does a beautiful pictorial overview of Hepburn's Cinema Collection and her influence on the adaptation of menswear for women's styles.  If you would like to refine the look for yourself in 2017, make sure you include the following top 6 ways to adopt and adapt the style of Katharine Hepburn in your closet . . . 


Photo Source: GlamAmor
1.  Collared button down shirts in white particularly, and in pastel pale stripes such as blue, beige, yellow, pink and white on white.

2. Blazers, whether fitted or oversize proportioned to your size, are in basic dark colours. "Oversize proportioned to your size" means that shoulder seams, sleeve length and body length are in proportion to your height and size, albeit with a loose body cut.

3. Flats, classic loafers, in every colour, whether suede, smooth or textured leathers.

4. Trousers, not just pants, but classically cut trousers, that are loose-fitting. They should be fitted at the waist, wide through the leg (but not too wide), and have pockets. In the 1940s she chose the classic colours primarily found in the men's department such as shades of camel, brown, grey and black.

5. Simple Jewellery was her choice since the pants provided the statement during a time when allegedly fashionable women chose dresses and skirts. Diamond stud earrings and a single strand of pearls seem to be all she wanted or needed.

. . . 6. As she got older, the turtleneck was worn under or replaced the button-down shirt.

How are you adapting the Katharine Hepburn style?

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Six Ways to Achieve the Sport Luxe Look

Sport Luxe has been defined as "fusion between fashion and fitness" (Retrieved on February 20, 2017 from Jasmine Howell's blog, RebelInsider, post dated May 13, 2016). Comfortable casual has embraced elements of sport luxe, but sport luxe is more specific than comfortable casual. Therefore sport luxe can be part of comfortable casual but comfortable casual does not have to include sport luxe. Perhaps categorizing clothing is not a necessary function for one's closet. 

However if you want to incorporate sport luxe into your closet, you may need to consider these factors.


How to achieve the "sport luxe" look:

1) Fitness - You have to be fit to pull it off. Yoga leggings and contoured body-hugging t-shirts show off every muscle, along with any lumps and bumps. Camouflage may be necessary. If you have the body or the self-confidence to wear leggings outside of the gym, make sure they are thick enough to obscure the colour of your underwear. It's an unfair category; you look better in this item of sport luxe clothing when you are in great shape.

Brain's Keds Photo Source: Brian Davis
2) Flats or "flat fats" are all generated from a variety of sports, from jogging to skateboarding. Save your expensive joggers for jogging but do wear lighter weight sneakers, such as Keds. They give you the "sport luxe" look without the functional chunkiness, although there are those who like that fat shoe look. Think about proportion relative to what you are wearing and your size when you want to wear a clunkier shoe.

Photo Source: Unknown
3) In the sport luxe category, clothing items are both functional and fashionable in and out of the gym. This does require some self-judgement. Of course it is ok to wear what you are comfortable in at the gym. If you like lifting weights in a t-shirt blotched with bleach stains and oversize torn sweats; fine; but that is not the look that functions outside the gym. Sloppy and slovenly is not sport luxe.

Photo Source: ZAPYLE
8 Cool Ways to Wear a Sports Jersey
4) Balance your look. There's oversize and there's balanced oversize. Thinking you can wear your boyfriend's or husband's XXL rugby shirt when you are a size small or medium will not pull off the "luxe" part of sport luxe. An XXL football jersey with XXL sweatpants will just make you look dowdy at the least, and a puff ball at worst, in addition to being really clumsy and awkward to wear. Make sure you choose something oversized that is proportional to your size. If you are choosing a large full top, balance it with those opaque leggings or a pencil skirt. 

5) Head to toe sport-oriented clothing is overkill on the street. Minimalism is a criteria that applies to the number of sport theme items of clothing you wear at any one time. This is why you see heels with track pants or sneakers with a cotton t-shirt style dress. Take another look at the Zapyle photo - that is sport luxe minimalism.

Stacked bracelets and cuffs add luxe to comfortable casual or sport luxe looks.
Photo Source: JoyD
6) For extra luxe, add cuffs, bangles or Swarovski sparkle on your wrist while wearing sneakers and a sport brand t-shirt. Earrings are great, especially if they are big, but never those cutesy little soccer balls or sport shoes or hockey sticks - that's just "kitsch". Necklaces can be iffy so keep it simple. It is the sport-oriented item of clothing that is your statement, so don't have a big statement necklace compete with your sport luxe look.

Sport luxe is very different from wearing your team's colours and insignia on play day. Think minimalism and balance, both males and females, and you will never lose no matter what the look.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

A Max Mara Experience: What a Gift!

I have a friend with whom I love shopping. It seems that we gravitate to similar brands, even similar colours and we enjoy each other's commentary about design, price points and service. Unfortunately she lives about a six hour drive from me and so we do not have regular shopping dates, but rather, if we are lucky, an annual excursion. 

Years ago I remember a visit to a consignment store with her, where there was a Max Mara dress and long jacket ensemble. This was a time when I was teaching in a public school and she was working on her Masters with plans of establishing herself with a financial institution. We were the same size although she is taller than I. The navy Max Mara dress was perfect for either one of us, however, she thought it might be a bit short for her. She deferred to me and I bought it. It was the perfect length for me. I still have it. I still wear it. 

I do love Max Mara and look for the brand in consignment shops, on sale while at Holt Renfrew and in factory outlet stores when I am in Europe. My friend also loves Max Mara and shops in upscale and designer storefronts wherever she is in the world. Life is good.

Max Mara Plum Jacket Photo Source: JoyD Creations
Last week she came to visit and to make a long story a tad shorter, she gifted me with a Max Mara jacket. She bought it for herself but it spent more time in her closet than on her and so she decided to offer it to me. It happened to be a bit too short for her. Our shopping history may have some repetitive features. It turns out it's the perfect length for me. It does have a belt however I find with the belt, the proportion is not right. The fabric is rather thick and it bunches at the waist where I prefer not to have fabric bunching. There is an ever so slight swing action happening and I do love that style.

At first, I found myself hesitating; calculating how much it cost her; how much she might get at a consignment shop; and should I offer her compensation and how much; or would I offend her if I offered too little . . . I finally just said "thank you and I love it".