Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Why you should learn to love scarves....

I have always loved scarves. Even when it was not particularly fashionable to love them, and I was a young career girl, I loved them. Maybe it's my European heritage, but scarves just seem to add class and elegance to an outfit, be they slung casually around the shoulders, swathed around the neck and fastened with a knot or a scarf ring, or knotted to the handles of a bag.
Of course, if you love scarves, then you have to love the ultimate scarf, the Hermes. Oh, how I wish my budget allowed me to indulge in more than one of these gorgeous things every once in a while.
This one at the top of my post, is one of my Hermes-like purchases. Once you get to know which Hermes designs you like, and which colourways, you can scout for similar ones in department stores and thrift stores. The real deal would have set me back over $400. My lookalike, was just $7.50.

Real (and real expensive) Hermes above...
...copycat and inexpensive, below...

..worn here with a nautical striped Summer shift, Hermes-a-like scarf ring (more on that in a moment), and (real) Baroque pearl earrings...
This shift without the scarf, just looks blah. Frumpy and dowdy. However the scarf alters the very ordinary high and round neckline, giving the illusion of a more flattering V, the light colour brings attention to the face, especially paired with the pearl earrings, and the long tails give a long and lean look, that negates the widening effect of the nautical stripe. Worn with the scarf, pearl earrings, and some wedge heels, it's a nice look for shopping locally.
This scarf below was my first Hermes. I studied hard, so I knew what to look for in a genuine Hermes scarf, because gosh, there's some charlatans out there.
A few tips if you want to invest in an Hermes scarf for yourself...
Hermes of course swear that the ONLY way to be certain you're buying a genuine Hermes, is to buy from them. That's okay if you can afford it. I cannot, or at least I cannot afford Hermes and all of the other pretty things I love...hehehe! I guess one day I might be able to prioritise a collection of Hermes scarves above all else.
My four Hermes purchases have all been online, and I've been successful in securing some gorgeous scarves for about one third of their retail value. This might be due to the colourway not being currently popular, or the design not appealing for whatever reason. Fortunately for me, I have eclectic tastes so I know when I am onto  a winner.
Hermes scarves have a hand rolled and hand stitched edge, folding towards the front.
Hermes scarves have a care label that says Made in Paris.
Hermes scarves always have an accent over the second e. So not HERMES printed like that. It's always with that little tick over the e between M and S.
It will always have a ©Hermes symbol on it, and will not say Hermes-Paris.
They will usually (post 1980s apparently) carry the artists signature somewhere in the design.
This one is titled Pierres d'Orient et d'Occident.
I love this one. It's so versatile and goes with just about any other colour in my wardrobe. I love the ornate nature of the design, and it's tigers eye looking border. Quite often the border is what stands out due to the way you fold them, so make sure the borders of your scarves are eye catching, Hermes or not.
The next one I purchased was this one called Farandole Butterflies. I love the buttery main colour and the pretty pastel details in this one. A gorgeous scarf for Spring.

 Having admired the look of this gorgeous (Hermes)  scarf and tassel pendant combo, I was then inspired to go searching for other luxury versions of The Designer Scarf.
I found Emma Shipley, who if you want my humble opinion, gives Hermes a run for their money...
This Beauty and the Beast version by Emma Shipley will set you back $270AUD. But don't you just LOVE it?
Somehow, the $19.99 version just doesn't stack up.
I guess if Beauty and the Beast is your thing, not luxury scarves, the $19.99 model might suit you perfectly! It's available here.
Here's another by Emma Shipley titled Sirens...swoon...$459AUD though...swooning is all I'll be doing, folks. But as art...wowsers...
Looking at those two though, I start to see a commonality emerging. I'm liking the graphic feel, the dark outlines, filled with a minimum of colour in these designs. It's almost a hand tinted Sepia look, isn't it? So now I know what to keep an eye out for in Scarf Buying Land, be it online, retail or thrifting. That's a good strategy.
Grace Kelly, after whom Hermes named a bag, for goodness sakes, was a scarf wearing Diva...

She even used an Hermes as a sling for her injured arm...
You can also wear them like this...almost like a cowl necked shirt...cheaper than buying lots of different shirts, and far more versatile. And you don't get too fat for scarves...hahahaha!
I like this idea too. How sweet..and you'd only need a $10 cami for this look.

I made this one from a remnant for under $10. I pair it with a vintage cocktail ring purchased for $6. You don't have to spend hundreds to have lovely scarves...

Recently enamoured with the idea of scarf rings, I found this Chanel look-a-like languishing at the bottom of a bowl of junk at my local thrift store...

The real deal looks like this one below...close enough for me, thankyou...

This gold one is a genuine Hermes scarf ring...
I found a more fun one that had similar etchings for $3 in the same bowl..
It looks like this with my genuine Hermes scarf. I know. The irony.

I loved this Hermes scarf ring with chevron like enamel...but not the price. A few hundred more dollars friends. I do not think so.
Instead I invested a further $3 (yes from the same bowl of tackiness), for this one here...
I think it's close enough for this suburban Mama...

 Here's that Hermes with the vintage cocktail ring and olive green linen dress...

It's a corker I tell you. Worth every single hard earned dollar of my, it was a gift.
I have two new scarves coming in the mail. One a vintage Hermes, and one an Hermes look-a-like. I'll share pics of those when they arrive.
In closing, here's ten good reasons to love scarves...
1. Dollar for dollar, they are better quality than a wardrobe full of dresses, skirts and other wardrobe staples. Three quality dresses and three shirts to wear with skirts and pants, and 15 scarves will give you at least 135 outfit combinations. 135 dresses may well set you back at least $13,500 at just $100 each. You could have a whole wardrobe of Hermes scarves and pair them with department store dresses in solid colours and look a million bucks every day of your life.
2. Scarves will always fit you.
3. You're never too old or too young to wear scarves.
4. You're never too fat or too thin to wear scarves.
5. You're never too poor to buy a nice scarf. One of my favourites cost me -50c.
6. Scarves come in every variety of fabric, colour, pattern and design. There's a scarf out there for everyone, including you!
7. Scarves are always in style.
8. Vintage scarves are a great way to get your scarf collection started for very little money.
9. Even the most expensive scarf, can potentially be a wardrobe staple for 60 years of your life, and become an heirloom, increasing in value, in the process.
10. They are a minimalists dream, taking up one drawer in your closet if you're lucky. Two at most.
Have I convinced you?

Monday, November 6, 2017

A New You... Wear all the pretty dresses....

Here above is the first pretty frock I've bought in over 20 years. I would not have looked twice at this frock a year ago. It's only by educating myself on my body shape and proportions, that I realise I truly can wear pretty frocks, and not just tunics and leggings!

Ahhh....but not only should you know your body shape and how best to dress for that shape, you also need to have some knowledge on how best to accessorise so that you can look as long and lean as possible, minimising any faults. A trim shaped jacket, a nude shoe with a low vamp, and a bit of confidence go a long way.
Flush with success on my lemony print frock above, I went looking for more pretty dresses with which to zhoosh up my neighbourhood.
I found this one below, at Navabi. Navabi, along with The French Chic Academy, have changed the way I dress forever. If like me, you're on the cuddly side of the fence as far as size goes, you could do worse than check out their range. Absolutely beautiful. No they're not paying me to say that.
You can see this shift dress here. The brand is Samya, and I'm quickly learning that this designer works well for my Apple shape.
When this one arrived, I was not enamoured with it's round neckline and thought I might have a major alteration task on my hands. But instead, I found that when I stitched the odd little neckline pleats flat, turning them into pintucks (a job a child could perform), that it made the neckline slightly wider and more scooped, thus negating any tweaking.
 Thinking 'long and lean' for my Apple shape as I do these days, I added this double neck chain, echoing the rounded neckline, and the colourways of the print. One chain is silver, one is dark pewter. I think this works to lengthen my torso.
I styled it here with my denim jacket, which you can read about here. I love this jacket for it's flattering shape and colour, and it's relatively minimal embellishments. I like how it follows the neckline of this dress almost perfectly, and picks up the darker colours in the print.
I then tried styling this shift (and no way did I think I'd be wearing shifts this time last year!), with my new orange jacket, and what a difference it makes! Again, when wearing a print, keep everything else simple. So no lapels, pockets or other detail on the jacket, and a good long and slender look is achieved with the column of colour centre front.
Well now I was getting confident. In one fell swoop, I ordered this Wiggle dress from Pretty Kitty in the UK for an upcoming event (I'll be sharing styling shots for this one in the next day or two). I love how the wider shoulder, scooped neckline and narrowing towards the hemline, slim the torso, and the draping across the tummy helps disguise a chunky mid section. Shoes with a low vamp and peeptoes also lengthen the leg. A great flattering look for we Apple shaped girls. I do think this one needs some serious shapewear, so I'll be looking at that too.
 In a great flurry of dress buying, I purchased this one (also a Samya and also from Navabi)...
See it here.
This one... 
 ...this pretty little thing by Lovedrobe with it's diagonal looking print...another great trick for Apples...
This one by Studio 8, absolutely at the top end of my budget, but which I'll wear for several special occasions in the next twelve months. This must be a colour for just about anyone...
 This one by Velvet Pop, which has the most adorable print, flattering V neckline, and knife pleats all the way around the skirt...
 This Mad Men inspired design by Want That Trend, which I love for it's keyhole neckline and flirty skirt...
 ...and this one by Apart, which just has Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn or even Sophia Loren written all over it's polka dot loveliness...
Now Navabi were having a fantastic sale with additional discounts for existing customers, so I did go a bit beserk, but thanks to knowing my shape, and learning that styling a dress correctly can make all the difference, I feel utterly confident in my $400 splurge (for the last five dresses!!), and it's ability to transform my up-till-now dull wardrobe.
I can't choose a favourite. I think I already love them all.
And this from a lady who up until 3 months ago, hadn't worn a dress in over 25 years. I kid you not.
Honestly. Know thyself. Know your body shape. Know what colours flatter you. Get to know how to style your outfits rather than just tossing them on in the morning. It really does give you an edge, and a great feeling of walking out the door, looking your absolute best.
I can't wait to style these and share some pics with you. Which one is your favourite?

Friday, October 27, 2017

A New You & the Petite Plus Apple...Casual Days...

We all have days where we just need to be a little more relaxed in the way we dress. I know some might argue the point, but we can't be Glamour Girls every single day now, can we?
I'm grocery shopping today. For me that means a trip to Aldi, wrestling groceries in and out of a trolley, back in again into bags, into the car, then home to wrangle them out again and into pantry and refrigerator. Sigh. A dirty job, but someone's got to do it, right?
But hang on. That's no reason to walk out the door wearing a tent. I know. It's hard. Retailers want to sell us tents as Fashion, don't they. It can be darned difficult to find anything that's not either a tent camouflaging as a dress, or a size 6 dress ballooned out to a size 16 with no consideration for whether that's flattering for we older, curvy ladies. Shame on you Retailers, shame, shame, shame.

 Here is what I am wearing to go grocery shopping today. It's not exciting really, but can I share, that I put just as much thought and effort into this outfit, as any other I've shown you.
Firstly, the purchase. This style of shirt goes against the grain for me these days. In fact it is a bit of a 'tent', isn't it.
But here are it's redeeming features:

It's gingham, a timeless and fresh print
It's neutral, so not too shouty
A print will often draw attention to our better features (for me, arms and wrists, hands and nails, and neckline)
It finishes at hip length, which is ideal for Petite Plus Apples
It's comfortable for the task at hand without having to resort to t-shirts and tent dresses
It can be teamed successfully with dark wash bootcut jeans, a black pencil skirt or white pants for hot weather, so it's versatile
It has sleeve details that draw attention to dainty wrists and hands
Here is how I styled it to give it a French Chic look. These are all tips I've learned from Marie-Anne Lecouer at The French Chic Academy:
1. It has a fussy neckline, so keep hair up and away for a sleek look
2. Similarly, keep earrings neat and small. I'm wearing pearl studs
3. Wear a long necklace for a elongating effect to the silhouette
4. Don't wear matching earrings and necklace...too much
5. Keep pants dark wash, boot cut, and full length (no Capris!) for a long and lean look

6. Manicured fingernails and toenails to say 'I care'
6. Wear nude shoes to lengthen the leg. Even here, where I am sporting my uber comfy Gizeh Birkis, they are in a nude shade. This gives the illusion of longer legs, even in flats. Frankly, much as I love the Birkis for comfort, they are not a shoe worth making a feature of!
I think I scrub up okay for an old girl heading off to Aldi.
What do you wear grocery shopping?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A New You....Get Fussy!

If I've learned nothing else this year from The French Chic Academy, I've learned to be Fussy. To be Particular. To CARE.
All of the elements of French Chic, like dressing for your shape, using optical illusion to trick the eye into seeing you more slender, taller, healthier and so on, are really just about being fussy, particular and above all CARING about your appearance.
For many long years, perhaps ever since I embraced full time Motherhood and child rearing, some 20 years ago (which I've truly loved and valued), I've been putting myself second. That's what Mums do, right? That's certainly what my Mum did, and hats off to the New Age Mums who don't see why that should be the case now. I embraced that idea with enthusiasm.
The children still at home, my disabled son, and my only daughter, took the lions share of my time, energy, and effort, and it was only when we secured independent living accommodation and funding for my son to live an Adult life like his brothers do, that things started to change. That was 7 1/2 years ago, and suddenly my days no longer consisted of endless carer tasks necessary for a totally physically dependent family member. Suddenly I could paint my nails knowing that a manicure would last longer than a day, I could wear nicer clothes, knowing I wouldn't be hoisting my son into or out of his wheelchair. I could show off my pretty jewellery without having to worry whether it would scratch him in sensitive places or accidentally fall down the loo when I was toileting him. A whole new world, right?
Not. Quite.
The habit of wearing flowing shirts and leggings or capri pants for ease of movement as a Primary Carer, was hard to break.
Mostly I dressed like these two pictures. A standard oversized denim jacket being my concession to fashion, when needs arose.

Enter the impending finalising of my youngest child, and only daughters schooling in just 11 short days, and the realisation late last year, that I now had time to get my act together and start behaving like the glam girl I once was. Oh the joy...and the fear!
Letting go of the me that I was comfortable with, was daunting. I didn't know where to start. I floundered around for a while, trying to work out whether I should go Arty Farty Nanna, or Glam Gran, not really knowing what either of those would entail. Then I found my Angel, Marie-Anne Lecouer. Her advice didn't come cheap, but then many things worth having shouldn't be measured only in financial terms. I bit the bullet and leapt in to The French Chic Academy with both feet, soaking up the knowledge like a sponge, and reinventing myself.
I went from this last December... this just this week, 10 months later...
... and there's no turning back!
I still have a way to go. I've lost 5kgs (12lbs) and several centimetres from my petite 163cm (5'3") frame, and I still want to lose at least another 5kgs. But I have made huge leaps and bounds, even weight loss aside.
The sheer thrill of wearing a dress that sits above the knee, heels, and a flattering hairstyle, is motivation enough to edge me ever closer to my goal weight.
But note that Marie-Anne Lecouers advice was NOT to lose weight to look like a French woman. Her advice, plain and simple is to know your body shape and dress accordingly. In short, Get Fussy!
One of the things that had to go, was my beloved denim jacket. Sturdiness and versatility aside, it just wasn't flattering on my newly discovered Petite Plus Apple shape. Too boxy. The wrong colour. Too masculine. I needed the versatility of a traditional Jeans Jacket, with a more feminine edge.
So, this is the bit where, for perhaps the 150th time this year, I Got Fussy.
Here are the details I was searching for in my new Denim (Jeans) Jacket:
Dark colour as dark colours help to minimise body faults
Minimal detailing to assist in a streamlined look
No collar to echo a more Chanel style jacket
Three quarter sleeves to show off dainty wrists
Hip length to elongate a petite frame
Nipped in shape to avoid a boxy look
You'd think that would be easy, right?
I found this one, but it had too much going on. In fact upon closer inspection, I don't think it's even a denim jacket. It looks like velvet. And I don't have the figure of a 20 year old Asian woman, more's the pity.

This one showed up in an eBay search and was almost right...collarless, minimal detailing, dark wash, and I was tempted. But I chose to Be Fussy, and noted the boxy shape, and the full length sleeves. Also it just looked cheap, which is definitely a look to avoid!

 This one was close. But still no cigar, as the saying goes. Too boxy. Be Fussy, remember!
These two ticked all the boxes, but although hip length on these sweet young things, were more likely to be up around the armpit on me. Be Fussy, be careful, be choosy.
This one looked like a winner, but it was the wrong colour. I wanted dark wash, remember. Be Fussy.

This one looked great, until I realised it had long sleeves. Yes I could roll them up, but that's not a streamlined look either. I wanted a neat streamlined appearance. Be Fussy.
I gave up looking online. I looked in my wardrobe instead. I had this mad idea that I could refashion the Jeans Jacket I already had, into what I actually wanted.
Lo and behold, hiding in the depths of what I laughingly call the Winter Section of my wardrobe, I found this little gem...
Well I'll be. I purchased this in the end of season sales a few years ago, and had worn it no more than a handful of times. Why? Because I didn't know how to style it! I was wearing it with jeans and feeling a bit like a remnant of the 60s Hippie movement (yes I lived through that era, albeit as a child). I should have been wearing it with pencil skirts, and fit and flare frocks and heels! Dang...who knew, right? There's something to having a bit of knowledge, I tell you!
Here it is, with my new lemon print Fit and Flare dress and heels...
So there it was. And for a measly ten bucks, a few years ago. Hiding at the back of my own closet, unworn, and unloved. A wardrobe staple, which you can be certain I'll now make good use of.
All because I was Being Fussy.
When I shop now, whether for a Jeans Jacket, or a pair of Nude Heels, I have a list of the details I want. And I stick to my list. Close enough is NOT good enough. Not any more. I've been around long enough to know that if I just exercise some patience, the right thing will come to me. Or it will magically appear in the back of my wardrobe.
Hmmmm...maybe I wasn't all clueless after all. Maybe I just needed a push in the right direction.
What about you? Have I inspired you to Get Fussy?