Monday, 28 November 2016

Family Dynamics... Fictional or Otherwise

I come from a big family. Well, big enough. A brother, two sisters, and a step-brother, with whom I grew up. And a half brother with whom I didn't. Three sets of grandparents. Lots of uncles and aunts. And cousins. Numerous great aunts and uncles, in Mum's family, whose names I could never get straight, or whether they were Grammy's brother or sister, or Grampy's. Funnily enough, I seem to remember all the greats, not as individuals, but as pairs. Aunt Laversa and Uncle Sam. Aunt Ada and Uncle Ernest. Aunt Lenora and Uncle Ben. Then there were Grammy's two brothers who married sisters, making all their children what we called "double cousins." Yep. That's a pretty big family. And pretty complex, I'd say. So even though Hubby and I don't have kids, family, and family dynamics, has always been important to me. Important, enriching, infuriating, always fascinating, and the subject of endless analysis and story-telling. I could write a book. We all could. Which is where I'm going with all this. Books about family dynamics.

Hen's nesting box with three eggs.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Keeping Winter Real ... In Fashion Blogger Land

Sometimes I think that maybe I'm too immersed in fashion-blogger-land for my own good. That maybe I subscribe to far too many fashion websites, e-mail updates from fashion brands, fashion blogs, Pinterest and Instagram accounts exclusively about fashion, yadda, yadda... you name it. All this in the name of staying current with what's going on out there in fashion-land. Which frequently, I have to say, has little or nothing to do with what's going on in my own small closet... or in the closets of anyone I know. Even more so during the winter... especially during a Canadian winter.

Ottawa commuters waiting for their bus during a winter storm that hit Ottawa in February 2013. CTV photo.
Massive snowstorm hits Ottawa in February 2013  source
Take for instance, the "cold shoulder" sweater. Now, I'm not much of a fan of the "cold shoulder" look; you know, those tee shirts and blouses with the cut-out shoulders which were all the rage last summer. But I could at least see the sense of them in the summer. When colder shoulders might be desirable. But when I saw this Nordstrom ad for a "cold shoulder" chunky knit sweater, I had to laugh. Really? Does that make sense to you? 

Nordstrom chunky cold shoulder sweater in charcoal.

Which made me think of the off the shoulder look below from Balenciaga. As Morwenna Ferrier asks in her article in The Guardian: is it a jacket or is it a stole? According to Ferrier's article, Top Shop's creative director Kate Phelan is embracing off the shoulder puffer jackets (can't quite believe I'm even writing that) in a big way. Saying they represent a "new sense of heightened reality happening in fashion...." Ok-ay. And, Ferrier goes on to say that, while the Balenciaga version is only 'styled' off the shoulder, the Top Shop version, which she dubs "winter's answer to the Bardot top," is designed to fit like a stole. The "ready-off-shoulder" coat, as Ferrier puts it, requires perhaps more "commitment" than the Balenciaga version. Unlike the Balenciaga coat, there is no way to pull the Top Shop coat up over one's shoulders when one is, inevitably, freezing one's butt off. Or one's shoulders. Ha. 

Red Balenciaga puffer coat with the off the shoulder look, winter 2016
Balenciaga's "cold shoulder" down jacket. source
And since fashion is known for going from one extreme to the other, I present what Disney Roller Girl calls the "duvet coat." Love that term. And I actually love the colour of this Marques Almeida coat. And it certainly would be toasty warm in a Canadian winter. Nevertheless, I think this might be just a teensy bit too much coat for me. That collar would certainly be a driving hazard. Still, if the early snow we've had this year, which doesn't seem prepared to go anywhere, is a harbinger of the winter to come... wearing too much coat might be preferable to wearing not enough coat.

Marques Almeida down coat, winter 2016
Marques Almeida AW 2016 source
The other coat that seems really big (no pun intended) this winter is the faux fur. I love faux fur coats. I have ever since I didn't get one for Christmas when I was nine or ten. You see, one night a few weeks before Christmas when I was nine (or ten), my mum brought home a lovely, cream, fake-fur coat (much like the one on the right below) for me to try on, saying that our neighbour, Penny, was wanting to buy it for her niece who was my age and size. In fact, the coat was for me, but Mum was reluctant to spend her money if the coat didn't suit. So of course, it fit perfectly, and I inwardly swooned. But when Mum asked if I would like a coat like that, I demurred. In my nine-year-old head I thought I knew that Mum could never afford such a coat, and so to avoid getting my own hopes up, I tried to be grown-up and practical, and said that it wasn't for me, and, anyway, it would probably get dirty too easily. So Mum returned it. Gad. She really wanted me to have it, and I really wanted it... and we were like those two characters in that O. Henry story "The Gift of the Magi." I learned my lesson that year. Always tell the truth, people, especially about presents which come disguised as gifts for other little girls. 

Faux fur coats from Marni, Top Shop, and Made to Measure
Marni Shearling coatTop Shop pink faux fur, Made to Measure faux fur coat
Unlike the off-the-shoulder puffer coat, faux fur coats make a lot of sense to me. They're warm, and they look great, and they don't cost the earth. But I did have to laugh when I read this post on the blog Le fashion, about "teddy bear coats." Reminded me of the time, years ago, when a student of mine came into my class wearing a vividly spotted, faux fur coat. Seriously, that coat looked like it was made from the sabre-toothed tiger on the Flintstones cartoon. "Allison," I admonished, in my best, stern teacher voice, "how many stuffed animals had to die to make that coat?" She stopped, looked quizzical, then rolled her eyes, "Ha ha. Good one Ms. B."  So yea. I like faux fur. I just have a hard time with the coats that look like they might have had a previous life as some little kid's stuffed animal. But if you like that look, and I'll admit that it's starting to grow on me (a little), there are a few pretty ones here

Faux fur coats aside, I'm not fond of the cartoon sabre-toothed tiger look. Especially in boots. Especially those with four inch platform soles. Like these Maison Margiela boots which were featured in Elle magazine's 10 Most Wearable Winter Trends for 2016. Most wearable, eh? Oh my. These boots made me chuckle. Winter. Cold. Ice. I spy a broken ankle just waiting to happen. 

Maison Margiela faux fur, platform boots from winter 2016
Martin Margiela boots source
So, yep, there are a few trends in fashion-land which have me scratching my head. But that doesn't mean there aren't lots of examples of chic, comfortable, realistic winter looks out there. Outfits that won't look ridiculous on me now that I'm a woman of a certain age. That won't have me freezing my butt off, nor looking like a walking example of fashion victim-hood. Outfits like these ones.

Two winter looks from
From Sandra

Green scarf and sweater and grey coat on
From Le
  Gorgeous, lovely, layered outfits, that keep fashion real, and are warm enough for a Canadian winter. With great boots, luxurious scarves, and fierce coats combined with panache and enough elan (love that word) to inspire me, and reaffirm my belief in fashion. And make me want to get dressed even on the coldest, snowiest days.

So yea, I probably do pay too much attention to all the fashion palaver on the web and in magazines. And sometimes it exasperates me. But I'm never put off for long. That's because, to me, fashion is like that crazy, lovable, wonderful, embarrassing at times, but always interesting aunt or cousin. Sure sometimes they're weird, and silly, but they're always fascinating, and so entertaining, and you love them to death. 

So while I'm here keeping winter fashion real... or trying to... what have you been up to, folks? 

Fashion-wise or otherwise?

Linking up this week with: Visible Monday#IwillwearwhatIlikeWhat I WoreStyle Me WednesdayThursday Favourite ThingsFun Fashion Friday, and Saturday Share Link-Up.

Monday, 21 November 2016

As Long As You're Dressed For It

Winter has come, folks. Mother nature threw us a curve ball yesterday, and suddenly our predicted flurries turned into fifteen cm of snow. And high winds. And, as of 5 o'clock this afternoon, it's still snowing. Why, it's so miserable even the geese are leaving. This November is turning out so very different from last year. Remember last year, with its sunny days? And its sunny ways ... but let's not go there.

Geese leaving the Rideau River during the first big snowfall of the season
Our resident flock of Canada geese...going, going, almost gone. 

Friday, 18 November 2016

Seasonal Musings: Late Afternoon Walks, Good Books, and Black Friday et al

'Tis the season, folks. The clocks have been turned back. The sun sets an hour earlier now. Some days Hubby and I are pressed to get our walk in before dark. It used to be a tradition for us on Sundays, in the late fall, to pop dinner in the oven and then go for our walk. Returning to the lovely smell of roasting chicken... or roasting something. Ironically, now that we don't have to wait for Sunday, we don't very often do the big roast chicken, mashed potato, and gravy thing any more. Still we love the late afternoon walks. And when we time it right... we are treated to views like this as we turn and head for home. 

November sunset, near Rideauview Golf Course, Manotick Ontario
Our sunset walk along the edge of Rideauview Golf Course, near Manotick

Monday, 14 November 2016

The Wearing of the (Prada) Green

Ah, it's a grand day in the neighbourhood, so it is. All blue sky and sunshiney. The man is off playing golf. And I'm after having a wee fashion show, so I am. With my new, green Prada jumper. And whatever I can find in my closet that goes best with it. 

Like this khaki, suede biker jacket that I won last spring on Alyson Walsh's blog That's Not My Age. The khaki suede looks lovely, I think, with my new green sweater. Please note: I have dropped the annoying faux Irish accent... bet you're relieved. Anyhoo... I'm also wearing a Theory white shirt, and Citizens of Humanity cropped jeans. This is a good outfit for a day like today. Crisp, and a bit breezy, but with warm sunshine. No need for a scarf or gloves. Well, you might want gloves if you're raking leaves. Which I'm not.       

Friday, 11 November 2016

Coping Mechanisms

Phew. It's been a helluva week, hasn't it? 

On Monday when I was writing my last post I was "prepping" for a routine colonoscopy for which I was scheduled the next day. And may I say "prepping" is the nicest possible way to describe that nasty, day-long, 4 litres of gunk to swallow process. If my post on vintage fashion sounded a bit herky-jerky, it's because I wrote it in snippets, in between excusing myself to... well... never mind. Then, since I don't cope well physically with not eating, I had a raging headache, and once the "purging" began, the chills and then the shakes. Finally by bedtime I was so swaddled in robes and shawls that I'm sure I resembled my Irish great-great-great grandmother as she huddled in front of her turf fire during the long, cold winter in County Kerry. The test on Tuesday went well, however, and Hubby and I returned home in sunshine and warm temperatures. Perfect for a late afternoon walk. 

Sunny fall day on the Osgoode Trail, near Osgoode, Ontario.
Osgoode Trail, Tuesday afternoon.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Vintage: The Best Way to Do Slow Fashion?

It's November and in Ottawa that means frosty nights. Remembrance Day, of course. Some gorgeous sunsets on the river. And for vintage clothing lovers, the annual Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show

Vintage hat, Max Mara tweed blazer
Vintage hat I bought last year at the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Miracle on 34th Street ... Finding My Perfect Fall Coat

I've been fall coat shopping. For a while now. I needed a coat for those fall days when it's a bit too cold for a blazer, and not yet cold enough to haul out the winter coat. I want to delay that  event as long as possible. Because once the winter coats are out of storage....they tend to stay out for months... and months. 

A good coat has long been part of my wardrobe philosophy. Years ago, before I started teaching, when I was working as a pharmaceutical sales rep, I realized that if I had a great coat I didn't have to worry much about what I wore underneath it. Because it rarely ever came all the way off. I'd perch on the edge of a chair in doctors' offices talking quickly and wielding my fancy, colourful, statistical charts, squeezing my sales pitch into the three or four minutes before the doctor had to get back to work and pitched me out the door, metaphorically speaking. There was definitely no time to take off my coat. I learned to wear good boots, a black skirt, a blouse, often with a tie at the neck to make a scarf unnecessary... under a smart looking coat. Good coats aside... I hated that job. The most important thing I took away from that experience was not to be seduced by the offer of a shiny company car ever again. How much crap doctors have to listen to from sales reps in order to get the drug samples that they can then hand out free to patients who many times can ill afford to pay for them. And the importance of a good coat in looking pulled together and, in this case, professional.