Friday, 29 March 2013

Good Casual Friday

This is the last day of the fab 5 Days 5 Ways challenge.  I was a little conflicted about posting casual outfits today because this particular Friday is the least "casual" of all Fridays of the year, but I don't want to get all Jesus-jukey and I do want to finish up this awesome challenge!  So here's what I wore below for Good Friday church service then an Easter get together with the in-laws at the farm:
Calvin Klein dress $50 from Winners, Italian scarf and
blue sweater from my Splurge Sorority clothing exchange last night!

I am not sure how to define casual.  Naturally, denim is casual and I've blogged plenty of VV Boutique pieces paired with denim or my fave cargos.  However, I think casual is on a spectrum!  Sometimes, a comfy stretchy dress is casual (without being frumpy)!  Here are some other ways I've styled this dress...
Deux and Trois

Thanks again to Franish and Whitney for this link-up - I will be referring back to these links for plenty of inspiration!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

5 Days 5 Ways Dress Edition

I thought this whole style blogging adventure would just be about thrifting and clothes.  As it turns out, I am learning so much - about myself, about style, about knots, about community and about technology!  Every day I discover another fabulous blogger, and I'm constantly trying to figure out the most efficient way to stay up-to-date with as many as possible.  I finally got me a "Bloglovin" button and now I need to "claim my blog."  People, I have no idea what that means but if it enables me to read more with ease, I will do it. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Another thing I have discovered since starting my thrifting project is a love for dresses.  I have a few from VV Boutique and I love that paying less means better cost-per-wear and more freedom to wear them for the ordinary day rather than "saving" them for a special occasion.  I find dresses easier to wear than shorts and crop pants, and if I can wear them gracefully with three little kids and working with preschoolers, anyone can.  For the "Five Days Five Ways" challenge, I'm sharing the dress that taught me that thrift stores could provide current trendy pieces in great condition: my mustard high-low dress:

Just like with my orange pants, I didn't even have to try to find six different styles for this dress!  I have worn it more than I've blogged it and I can think of several more styling possibilities just sitting here.  If I wasn't in my jammies with dirty hair and yesterday's mascara, I would try them and snap some photos.  You're welcome.  You know what it would look awesome with?  My small square scarf.  I'm going to have to get my diva on and change my clothes three times a day!   

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

How to Wear a Small Square Scarf

I am loving the "5 Days 5 Ways" series hosted by Franish and Whitney!  The idea is to show 5 (or more) ways to style a piece, each day of the week.  Monday was tops, Tuesday was pants and today is accessories.  From what I've seen so far, I am so impressed!  I figured it would be all scarves but there are hats, shoes, scarves, statement necklaces and bags!  This is a great place to browse through links for some everyday style inspiration!

I had it in my mind that I would style my fave VV Boutique necklace but then I remembered something extra awesome...My fab friend brought this small square scarf back from Rome for moi:
  My cosmopolitan quotient just increased exponentially.

I love long bulky scarves, but I'm getting weary of them; well, maybe not them specifically but the weather that necessitates them.  In any case, this pretty Roman scarf is a welcome change of pace.  Except, er, I don't have much experience with small square scarves.  Fortunately the #5D5W challenge inspired me to, er, fool around (!) and here's what I came up with...
 1 - traditional square knot off-set
2 - secured by a complimentary brooch
3 - as a hair accessory
4 - in a flower knot

I have to pause here for dramatic effect.  Because that rosette knot is the bomb.  So easy and so chic.  Go grab your nearest small square scarf that you never knew how to wear, click here for Maitai's simple instructions and get ready to impress everyone tomorrow.  I can't wait to read through her archives for more chic scarf education. 
 It's hard to follow that act, but someone's gotta do it.
5 - layered with a necklace
6 - wrapped as a bracelet
 7 - to embellish a bag

A note about this bag: I've had it for a long time.  It was $10 from VV Boutique and I'm pretty sure it's vintage.  It is in perfect condition and has such interesting details!  I love the mini "doctor" bag style, the long strap option, but most of all, I love the round handles that nest down when not in use.  My chic Roman scarf was meant to be with this bag.  And I'm pretty sure I'm meant to take them on a fieldtrip back to Rome one day.  ;)

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Orange is the New Mint (5D5W)

I ignored my children took time this morning to look through the links for the "5 Days 5 Ways" Monday tops edition and was so impressed and inspired!  Lotsa ladies are finding lotsa ways to get value from their wardrobes, and there's nothing mundane about it!  AND many are using thrifted pieces in the mix!  Thrift on, sisters!

The Tuesday #5D5W item is pants.  Now, some of those fab bloggers must've been lotsa more organized than I am because they had their pants posts up before I even had the chance to read their top posts!  Well done.  As for me, well, it's after 10pm.  The advantage of late linking is that I can peek and see that no one has featured the pants I have in mind...
 Orange H&M chinos $3 VV Boutique
Worn here to illustrate Styles Per Cost.
Worn here after swimming for a big par-tay
with fuchsia gingham and belt, and floral scarf, all VV Boutique.
Style 5 is me being a big copycat, and 6 is me sticking to grade-school complimentary colours.

So there are six styles that I have blogged about, six without even trying!  Er, I actually intended on trying.  I had grand plans to try a few new ways to wear them and be all prepared in advance with smashing photos.  Then I spilled on them and the day went sideways.  The end.

(Not really the end.)  I love colour and am not afraid to wear it on the top, bottom, wherever.  I even want pink hair but think that might be pushing it.  I have yellow pants, cobalt pants, green pants and purple pants.  I want raspberry, red, oxblood, teal, mint and mustard.  In fact, I can't wait to click through the #5D5W links for more inspiration!  The evidence is quite convincing that any colour of pant can work and that styling them is fairly straightforward: act like they're denim.  That being said, I don't see many orange pants around, so either I'm out to lunch or just lucky to have stumbled on these beauties at VV Boutique!  I'm going with lucky!  While everyone is sporting their chic mint pants, I will (finally) be rolling my orange faves and enjoying being unique!

Monday, 25 March 2013

5 Ways to Wear a Sequins Tank In Canada

I like projects.  Especially projects that help me be a better steward of my stuff and inspire creativity and fit in my real life.  So, naturally, when I saw Franish's plan to do a series "5 Days 5 Ways," I started plotting.  And bribing my kids to take photos.  The idea is to take one piece each day and show five ways to wear it.  LOVE it!  We do this, right?  We real women with real wardrobes wear our clothes over and over.  Sometimes you reach for familiar combos and sometimes you try and shake it up a bit.  It's all about getting good value out of your wardrobe, good cost per wear or styles per cost

Monday's #5D5W piece is "tops" so I reached for something I've been wanting to wear but haven't because, well, the snow is deeper than my thighs.  All the better the challenge!  Meet my sequins tank ($3 VV Boutique):
Mixed with J Brand denim, and VV pieces - chambray and vintage velvet blazer.
This first look is inspired by Lilly of Lilly's style who is way ahead of the fashion game 
considering she posted her fab outfit more than a year ago!
Mixed with yellow pants, ballet flats from my closet and cream cardi from VV Boutique.
 Breaking up monochromatic pieces, Gap sweater from my closet and crop cords from VV.
Keeping it neutral but mixing up the textures with my London Fog eyelet lace blazer and cargos from VV.
Mixed with my high-low dress, black pointy flats and cardi to add some colour and pattern mix.  All from VV Boutique.
 And because I couldn't stop (or maybe count?), a bonus probable look as an under layer with a patterned top.

My mission was to find ways to wear this sequins top NOW without freezing or looking weird.  Yeah yeah yeah, I know I have bare legs and feet.  Just ignore that and picture some tights.  Note that I kept the accessories the same - could change it up but that's already a lot of sparkle and I thought a simple necklace avoided too much catty competition.  Hate it when my clothes and accessories bicker.

So, what's your fave?

Saturday, 23 March 2013

"Spring" Layering

Style bloggers everywhere are anxious for spring, going barefoot and wearing pastels.  I would too if not for:
My actual back yard on the actual first day of "spring."

So, I continue to hold onto my lightweight VV Boutique pieces patiently waiting to share them here.  Until then, I continue to be inspired by other bloggers, like Amber of Real Girl Glam.  I thought I had a good handle on layering, but her recent post gave great tips!  I followed her advice yesterday and came up with:
 I expect you all to be impressed with this collage.  
Because all this techno stuff is challenging to my near-40-year-old brain.

I have been wanting to wear this cardi/vest combo since playing dress up and it just so happens that all those layers were nice and cozy.  It was a gray day but somehow my neutrals made me feel "chic gray" or at least "interesting blah" (my oxymoron skills amaze).  I had neutrals on the brain after reading about Sarah's Real Life neutrals.  I love colour but sometimes a good neutral palette suits the day.
With a smoothing tank and scarf, I actually wore 5 layers.

This ensemble features a scarf, charcoal cardi and cargos from VV Boutique and Gap striped tee, vest and accessories from my closet.

Thanks Amber for upping my layering game, thanks Franish for upping my photo game and thanks Sarah for upping my neutral game!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Whole 30 the 2nd

Since doing Whole 30ish last September, I've been wanting to do it again, this time for 30 whole days.  I considered January but was still in festive mode when the 1st rolled around.... and the 2nd... and the 3rd...  Then, February drew near and I knew that wouldn't work.  It has 28 days and I'm a fussy-pants particular about such things.  Finally, I decided to use the period of Lent beginning February 13 to do a whole round of Whole 30 - not for Lent but during Lent.  I'll start with the ending: my litmus jeans:
  Nice to fit you again, Litmus Jeans!
Worn with my ambiguous animal tee and Sperry's from VV Boutique,
Belt, black cardi and accessories from my closet.

Like last time, I was pleased to slip these on with ease at the end of 30 days.  Like last time, my post-partum muffin top did not miraculously disappear but I felt great and I am happy with my body.  But watch out if they ever have a Canada's Top Model Almost 40 Had Three Babies editionFor the 2nd round however, I had a presenting complaint and I started with the hypothesis that Whole 30 might reduce that complaint.  You see, I was having some niggling back and hip pain - enough that I've been seeing physio and modifying my movements. In other words, I'm feeling my age!
Here's what I ate most of the time: I made a yummy cashew and date butter and had that with fruit for breakfast.  For lunch I ate eggs, avocado and veggies of some sort or a tuna/veggie salad.  After extensive searching, I found balsamic vinegar without sulfates and had that with olive oil for dressing.  For supper I ate meat and veggies of some kind (sounds boring but really there are endless variations).  And for snacks I had nuts, dates (natures gummy candy, I told myself) and dried fruit.  Now, I know Whole 30 recommends limited dried fruit but seriously, I followed the plan without fail.  Don't deny me my dates.

I had no troubles feeding my family and accommodating my whole foods; I subbed out their pasta and had spinach, or just had a huge helping of everything else.  Insert big smiley.  Whole foods are more expensive, but not eating out for a month evened out the budget.
Two things saved my life this time: unsweetened almond milk in my coffee (at the suggestion of Grit and Glamour, my Whole 30 mentor) and Stash Licorice Spice tea.  That became my nightly ritual - no sugar, no caffeine and it doesn't taste like flowers. 
Now you're going to want to sit down for the next piece of information.  I started something else during Whole 30; I started exercising.  My hip felt a bit better, maybe, but I couldn't deny that what I really need to do is get stronger.  I need to be able to move this body with ease for the next few decades and that won't happen unless I, well, move this body.

My 30 days of whole foods wrapped up last Thursday just before leaving for my retreat and rest.  I tried to take it easy on the sugar and grains for the sake of my roomies, and found it a little easier than last time.  In fact, I found the whole thing easier than last time and I suspect that this is the trend: the more often you do it, the easier it gets

Since Thursday, I've thought to myself: "I will just do Whole 30 days when I can, blah blah blah."  That's not happening.  I will be more successful if I make one decision to do Whole 30 than if I face a decision at every meal and snack whether to eat whole foods.  My abstainer personality means that I just have to do the whole Whole 30 when I do it and make the best choices possible when I'm not.  I will never again just eat grains and dairy willy nilly; I will always have increased awareness of what makes me feel best.  Today I ate some KD then fell into a coma; I made cookies for a kind neighbour and felt heavy in my gut like I ate some bricks for a snack.  I simply feel better on whole foods.  But.  I do not have the discipline to maintain that diet without fail on an everyday basis.  So.   
I'm going to do my best, and that will be enough.  

I am thinking how to work in working out in my real life.  I am thinking that I will honour the organic flow of my life and resist planning when to do Whole 30 again and just trust that the right time will come.  This is no longer about getting back into clothes, this is about going forward and staying forward.  Just like my VV Boutique adventure, this is about being a good steward of my blessings, going forth with a good attitude.

I was so busy thinking, that I almost missed it.  That hip pain?  Haven't felt it the past few days...

Monday, 18 March 2013

R & R (Retreat and Rest)

This Monday felt like a hundred Mondays all bundled into one.  And my youngest is still awake, so it ain't over yet.  Maybe this is inevitable following a fabulous weekend ladies' retreat full of relaxation, reading, laughter, making new friends, getting to know old friends even better, singing, hot tubbing, sleeping, good food and good learning.  Can't get much better than that!  One minor detail: I neglected to snap a single photo.  My bad.  I will attempt to recreate my ensembles, so get your imagination ready to go!

all VV Boutique

Saturday morning was memorable.  I had just sat down by the cozy fire for some coffee and books when the friendly gal next to me complimented me on my scarf.  Well.  Turns out Deb and her sis-in-law Erika are avid thrifters AND Deb is a seamstress to boot!  They were both styling some comfy but not frumpy VV Boutique pieces, and enjoy the whole process as much as I do!  If you're reading ladies, we WILL meet up one day at VV!  Kindred spirits flock together!

this colourful floral scarf from VV Boutique for some pattern mixing and pizazz!

First thing Sunday morning while I was pouring my coffee, this ensemble got a compliment!  Great way to start your day!  I might mention that these kind words came from a stylin granny!  In fact, on the tail of the fight the frump series, I wondered if the ladies would let it all go in the name of relaxation or find that balance between comfort an style, annnnnddd........ I was pleasantly surprised!  Though they were definitely chillaxin, I could see special touches and individual style.  But what really blew me away were the, how do I say this delicately, "older" ladies - including our amazing keynote speaker.  They looked incredible!  Vibrant, stylish, comfortable - the things I aspire to!  Plus, chatting with one of my real-life finding-your-style mentors, I discovered a mutual love of thrifting and was reminded of some of the basics...more on that another day.  For now, despite a crazy Monday, and photo-free weekend, I did retreat and rest and I am grateful! 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

From Frump to Fashion

This morning, I came across a great post by Sheila Gregoire of " Love, Honor and Vacuum," a blog dedicated to all things marriage (including sex!) from a Christian perspective.  Many of Sheila's posts resonate for me, and this series seems to have hit a note with a whole lotta women: Fight the Frump.   I'm finding myself inspired and affirmed and heartbroken reading through all the comments.  One thing is for sure, we women have a lot to say about our bodies and our style.

Naturally, it got me thinking about frumpy.  I have long been determined not to be a frumpy mommy, to put some effort into myself.  I don't consider this selfish in the least - I believe it is being a good steward of what God gave me.  Of course, there is a line and the line varies for different people.  For me, if "taking care of myself" started to infringe on my marriage, my family or my budget, that would be a good indication that things are crossing into selfish territory!  Otherwise, I have learned the hard way to have proper priorities - and "me" is right up there!  Without a happy healthy me, it is sure hard to have a happy healthy marriage, family, job, friendships, and everything else.  Put on YOUR oxygen mask first, they say.  We women tend to put our kids first, our church roles first, our husbands first, and culture seems to glorify that; a motherly sacrifice.  But IMHO, it may be a self-sacrifice but it isn't anything to brag about.  I'm much more interested in how women balance their roles and responsibilities and still maintain proper priorities... and of course I'm interested in personal style!

I think frumpy is less about clothes and more about attitude.  Some people wear sweats and a tee and look chic.  Some people wear business casual and look uncomfortable.  This much I know: it has nothing to do with size and nothing to do with budget, but time does play a role.  For example, I have friends of all shapes and sizes that have found awesome pieces at VV Boutique, but you need time to look around and try on.  Even if you can't find an item of clothing on every trip, you can often find finishing pieces like bags, scarves and accessories that make the outfit!  Repeat after me: it is okay to take time to shop for yourself.  This is necessary step in preparing yourself to fight the frump, and is exactly why What Not to Wear takes women away for a week!  You need to invest some time in order for it to flow smoothly on an ordinary day.

Since it's my day off, I had time to bribe ask my kids to snap some shots of my personal frumpy look...  For me, frumpy = yoga-type pants, plain tee, hoody and running shoes.  Note that I have no accessories, no make-up and my hair is pulled into a plain pony.  
Can't quite believe I'm sharing this.
 Hmmm, actually it isn't as bad as I thought it would be.

I said "personal frumpy look" because for some people, this outfit might make them feel great and that makes all the difference.  However, it doesn't do that for me!  I don't even relax at home looking like this; maybe when camping but even then I wear cuter shoes and comfy slouchy rolled jeans.  And accessories.  And mascara.  I liked how Sheila timed how long it took her to put together her looks, so I did the same!  It took me 1min 30 seconds to dress frumpy (including pulling my clothes out of the closet, tying up my shoes) plus 30 seconds to comb my hair and pull it in a pony.  Total: 2 minutes.

Here is how I fought the frump, using the same elements from the outfit above: comfy pants, comfy top, outer layer, comfy shoes:
Calvin Klein striped dress $50 from Winners last year, Oxmo leggings $40
Teal Cleo cardi $4.90 and Sperry Top-Siders $9.90 from VV Boutique
Necklace was an extra awesome gift and earrings are from my closet  

This outfit took 1min 50 seconds to put on including changing my mind about my cardi and accessorizing with earrings and a necklace.  These shoes have awesome tread and slip on and off hands-free!  Much more convenient than runners!
 My make-up and hair took 4min 35 seconds.  I should note that I don't wash my hair every day and usually take extra time to blow dry, straighten or curl it when I do wash it, and then I can get 3 or 4 more days mileage out of it!  In my "fashion" look, it's still a pony tail, but is styled much more polished.  Total time: 6min 25 seconds.  I think the difference is well worth four and a half minutes.  For anyone familiar with Fly Lady, you know the importance of "dressing to shoes" - for yourself, everyday.  It makes a difference in how your approach your home and your life.

I have an organized closet so could easily pull what I wanted - this is part of the prep that is an investment for your everyday life!  I figure, you either need a small wardrobe with quality pieces that you know will fit well and work together OR an ample wardrobe that allows some experimentation without being overwhelming and hard to navigate.  Same goes for accessories, bags and shoes.

I didn't have anything special planned today.  Other than the people I saw at school drop-off and pick-up, I didn't see anyone besides my kids, and my husband won't be home in time to see me in these clothes.  Because I'll be in jammies!!!  This is not a "special" dress and dresses by nature do not need to be reserved for special occasions.  In fact, the more you incorporate them into your everyday wardrobe, the better Styles per Cost or cost per wear you will get.  I found this look more comfortable than the stretch pants and tee which do nothing for my mid-section!  There's some discussion in Sheila's comments about aprons; well, girls, I have been wearing aprons since before I had kids, when I had a giant slobbery dog to content with.  Now, I slip one on as I prepare meals and pack lunches.  No need to change into something frumpy comfy!

Thank you Sheila for inspiring such a great conversation amongst women!  I look forward to reading more on the Fight the Frump series and seeing women reap the fruit in their real lives!