Don’t worry. There will be no fantasy prose filled strained erotic metaphors today. Just a few ensembles that are literally shades of gray. Gray is my go-to neutral. I’m almost always looking to inject some sort of colour into my outfits. And while black can be a fantastic option, sometimes it feels very stark in contrast to the bold hues I tend to wear.

Grey has the same drama and versatility as black, but it’s a softer option. It’s also more forgiving if you spill something on yourself. That’s an important consideration for me.

Dress: Two (thrifted). Earrings: Forever 21. Purse: Vintage. Shoes: Aerosoles

I nabbed this mini-frock from a local thrift store at 50% off. Between this and the dress I bought at the vintage show, I’m having a full-fledged fling with pleated hemlines this fall!

Jacket: Jacob. Sweater and Jeans: Old Navy. Boots: Miz Mooz

I used to be afraid of mixing patterns. But that’s silly. The worst possible outcomes are clashing and possibly ugliness. And the best-case scenario might result in a get-up I really like. That was certainly the case here. Houndstooth and argyle: two of my favourite patterns are even better as a pair.  From now on, I’m saving my fear for real threats, like the zombie apocalypse.

 

Tunic: Jedzebel. Earrings: Zahara. Belt: Forever 21. Shoes: John Fluevog

Once again I’m wearing a tunic as a dress. As a dress it’s pretty short, short enough that I might not feel comfortable wearing it with bare legs. But my friend Amanda, who is wise in the way of fashion, reminded me that tights will ground a super-high hemline.

And speaking of Amanda, she’s wearing a dress every day this month to raise money for Save the Children and The Ottawa Snowsuit Fund. Check out her style here!

The Man of Mans went to China and all he got me was this BITCHIN’ T-SHIRT!!

I *Heart* BJ. Officially the “BJ” refers to the Bejing, the t-shirt’s city of origin. But having never been myself, I can’t really say if I heart it or not. So BJ must stand for something I else I love…

Perhaps it’s a nod to the Blue Jays! I’m a Toronto-born gal. My allegiance for the hometown team is eternal and unwavering.

Or maybe BJ represents another passion of mine. Something I cannot wait to get into my mouth when I’m hot. I’m speaking of course about Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream!

My favourite flavour is Key Lime Pie.

 

 The MoMs has just informed me that this was NOT intended to be a baseball OR an ice cream shirt.

Was it was meant to signify my affinity for blueberry juice…or blue jeans…or Billy Joel?

Dang it, I’m shafted. Trying to figure out the meaning of this gift has got me licked. That sure does suck! ;-)

 

 

My apologies for the lack of fashion last Friday. As you may recall my in-house photographer, The Man of Mans was carousing ’round China last week, so I wasn’t able to document anything. I assumed no one would notice my absence. Then last Friday afternoon I received a concerned voicemail from my mom, who thought something bad might have  happened to me.

Breathe easy, Mom. I’m fine and Fashion Friday is a go.

 

This past Sunday, I went to the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show.  I’ve got a decent  handle on thrift shopping, so I figured this was the next level.

Holy. Balls. Peeps, I was not prepared. It was a full-frontal sartorial onslaught from the moment I walked in!

The clothes! The sheer, overwhelming quantity of beautiful, unusual, one-of-a kind clothes! And that was just the beginning. There were spectacular hats, aisles and aisles of jewelry, magnificent shoes and the funkiest old accessories. The inventory, combined with the crush of people totally scrambled my circuits. It took about an hour or so of awestruck wandering before I got down to the business of actual shopping.

I was still a bit shell-shocked so I decided to ease into it.  I began by buying several silk head scarves for just a few bucks a piece. Here are three of my favourites:

 

Later, I landed another  budget score. This purse:

I spotted it almost immediately when I arrived at the show.  It was priced at 50 dollars and although I loved it, I decided it wasn’t wise to impulse spend  money when I was punch-drunk from all the prettiness. Later I went back for a second, sober-headed look. Still with the love, but I held off as I was still hoping to find a vintage dress.

As the show was winding down, I returned again and wouldn’t you know the purse was still there  and marked down to 30 dollars! I scooped up, ready to make me purchase when the seller said to me,  ”I’ll let you have it for ten dollars if you take it right now.”

Sold!  !t was random luck but I felt like the baddest, deal-makin’, big shot of all time!

As for that vintage dress, I tried on several eras worth. Everything was lovely…just not on me. The fit was wrong or the colour was off or there was an annoying pokey bit that I couldn’t live with.

Then, while pawing through hodge-podgy rack of random duds, I saw something that peaked my interest. It was very 1960s mod – short, graphic and colourful. Totally my style!  It fit my budget, so I crossed my fingers, hoping it would also fit my body.   When it comes to clothes I always want comfort, good fit and because I’m lazy, simple maintenance.  When I put on a garment that’s truly special, I know because I’ll start to dance.

The dress was non-pokey, fit like a glove and the label said machine washable. I saw myself in the change area mirror and I the urge to shimmy was irresistible. “Okay,” I told the dress, “you can come home with me.”

And it did:

 

 

Prepare yourselves, peeps! . It’s about to get all sexy up in here!

In many ways, my relationship with The Man of Mans is a classic case of opposites attract. He’s an empiricist, I’m artistic. I’m impulsive, he’s cautious. He’s an introvert, I’m a balls-out extrovert.

I am a costume-loving, fancy-pants wearing, any excuse to get in a get-up kind of gal. And The MoMs? He has a thing for ladies in PJ pants.

And not just PJ pants. The MoMs loves seeing a lady looking casual in comfy old t-shirts, leggings, yoga pants or any other type of loose untailored clothing. He’s appreciates simple hair and little-to-no makeup.

“That’s not sexy,” I told him once” That’s a sick day.”

Bare naked face!

The MoMs took my judge-iness in stride and proceed to break it down for me, thusly.

Casual clothes are a sign of intimacy. It’s what people wear when they’re relaxed, unguarded and being themselves. It’s honest and it’s vulnerable. “Plus PJ pants make women’s butts look really good,” he added.

I had to admit he had a point.

So this week’s outfit is dedicate to The MoMs. Because I love him. And because sometimes it’s good for this clothes horse to reign it in and take a casual Friday.

I warned you about the sexy ;-)

Tommorow’s birthday celebrations probably don’t qualify as a bash, but there will be drinks, food, fun and friends. That’s good enough reason to put on a party frock and celebrate one more year of being alive!

Now the only question becomes which dress to I wear as I ring in my new year? I’ve narrowed the choices down to a final three. Feel free to check them out and let me know in the comments which one you think makes the best birthday outfit.

Option One

Dress: Ralph Lauren. Necklace: Forever 21. Shoes: Locale.

This feels to me like the most “adult” of my options. Which may be a fitting choice given that I’m now officially in my late thirties. Besides, I’m a fan of adult movies, books and toys. An adult dress sound like good times to me.

 

Option 2

Dress: White House Black Market. Belt: Forever 21. Earrings: Thrifted. Shoes: Ambiance

Conversely this feels like the most youthful of the three options. On second thought, “youthful” isn’t the right word. Perhaps sweet is a more accurate description. I love this dress so much (check the pockets!) and I always have fun in these shoes. Also the belt is elastic and stretchy which gives me lots of room for cake.

Option 3

Dress: H&M. Earrings and Bracelets: Forever 21. Shoes: Seychelles.

This final dress is comfy, cute and shows a lot of boob. After all, it is their birthday too!

 

I’m still working my way through Sally McGraw’s book, Already Pretty;  thinking about the clothes I wear and their collective contribution to my overall style.

An early part of the process involves answering a long(ish) series of questions about my sartorial likes and dislikes. I won’t subject you to unabridged list of answers  (no one needs to read my mini-essay on jersey knit)  but here are a few select replies to the questions I enjoyed most.

What is your go to outfit?

A dress and heels.

Alternatively, a bathrobe.

 

What styles do you wish you could wear?

Side note:  I think anyone can wear any style they want. My interpretation of this question is “Are there styles/types of clothes that attract you in general yet make you feel less than stellar when you put them on?”

Bohemian chic. I see these people dressed like updated versions of San Francisco flower children. They seem so effortlessly beautiful, comfortable and fresh. Yet whenever I’ve tried to emulate that style, I immediately feel self-conscious and fake – like an actor who’s been miscast.

I’ll continue to admire pastels and pale, floral prints on others but it isn’t a style that works for me.

 

What are you favourite patterns

Stripes. Polka-dots. HOUNDSTOOTH!

 

What styles do you think look horrendous on you?

High-heeled stilettos.

First of all, they distort my walk in a way I don’t enjoy.

Contrary to what one might assume, skinny heels that are higher than about three inches actually make my legs seem shorter. Although the shoe creates a longer overall line, the part that is my actual leg becomes proportionately smaller as the heels get higher. Which wouldn’t be a problem if I wanted my legs to look shorter than they are. But I don’t.

 

Is there an era of fashion you absolutely adore?

Mid-sixties mod. Geometrics and high hemlines FOR THE WIN!

 

What about you? Do you have a go-to outfit or a fashion era that makes you squee? Are they’re types of clothing that you hate or avoid wearing?

I’ve been losing weight.

Not deliberately and it hasn’t been much but I am a petite gal. It only takes a few pounds to make a noticeable difference. My clothes are starting to get baggy and a bit sloppy feeling, which is bothersome. Like many women, I’m susceptible to getting overly focused on my body. Not to mention all the nonsense about weight and self-worth. Ideally I’d like to let my body do her thing, accept the changes and get on with my life. But it’s hard not to feel self-conscious when I’m constantly aware of my clothes not fitting.

If my body decides to settle around this size, I’ll invest in some alternations. Meanwhile, I’ve found that tunic tops are a comfortable option while my figure is in flux. A garment that’s designed to be loose and flowing, feels much sexier than a body-hugging garment that’s gaping all over.

Tunic: Calvin Klein. Earrings and necklace: Forever 21. Jacket: Old Navy. Leggings: Lululemon. Shoes: Chinese Laundry

As always, vivid colours are a guaranteed cure for any body blues I might be experiencing. I am so smitten with this jacket and the vivid cobalt of the tunic is such a powerful, happy blue, I can’t help but feel happy when I’m wearing it!

 

Tunic: Smart Set. Earrings and Necklace: Forever 21. Leggings: Dynamite. Shoes: Payless

Another pro for tunics is that they emphasize the lower half.  So do leggings. So this outfit is works well for me since a) I quite like showing off my legs and b) my leggings still fit.

 

Tunic: Jedzebel Hat: San Diego Hat Co. Bracelet: Agora Jewelry. Boots: Dr. Scholls.

Oof…sorry about the blur.

Another great feature of tunics is that the longer ones can be belted and converted into mini-dresses. Hats are also a nice stable aspect of my wardrobe. My head size has remained consistent through all of my weight fluctuations…and several concussions!

Are there pieces in your wardrobe that help you dress through body changes? Is there a colour, pattern or style that makes you feel fabulous no matter what? How many concussions have you had? I always love reading your perspective, so feel free to chat away in the comments!

I’ve raved about Sally McGraw before…and I’ll do it again, damnit! Sally’s philosophies about style and body image are eminently worthy of repeat praise. And thanks to social media Sally has become one of my new Internet pals!*

Sally’s blog, Already Pretty is a daily favourite of mine. When I learned she’d written a book of the same name, you best believe I got my order in right quick.

The book!

Sally’s philosophy is all about self-acceptance and celebrating the body you have exactly the way it is. Her book helps the reader identify and craft a style all their own. I’m not looking to do a complete wardrobe overhaul – though the book would be tremendously helpful if I were – but I do feel due for a style tune-up. I’m also in for some fun. The Already Pretty process means thinking about my clothes, writing about my clothes, talking photos of my clothes, dressing up and playing with my clothes!  It may not sound like fun to some of you but for me that’s a balls-out barrel of monkeys!

The first phase of the process is about defining my current style. It involves activities such as assembling photos of recent outfits and pondering questions about which clothing brands I favour  and what motivates me to shop.

Fashion Friday: A retrospective in collage.

I also had to come up with a list of at  least ten words to describing my style. I went into this task all hubris-like. Hel-LO?! I’m a writer!  Plus I own Schoolhouse Rock on DVD and I’ve seen the one about adjectives about a million times now. I was gonna rock this out!

Immediately I wrote “colourful”, followed by “feminine”. Next was…um….

Um….

The whole assignment ground to a near-halt as I tried to convince myself that “houndstoothy” IS TOO AN ADJECTIVE and that surely there’s a word describing “clothes that aren’t slacks”.**

What I lack in ability I make up for in FONTS!

Eventually, I found ten, non-made up adjectives…but it took some doing. The last word I came up with was unfocused. This exercise made me realize while I definitely know what I like, I don’t always understand the why. My style isn’t entirely cohesive, which is fine but I’m curious to see what common elements emerge as I continue Sally’s process.

All this pondering and adjectifying*** is being documented in my style journal/iPad.  I got myself a simple notebook app and bam! I can type, handwrite, sketch and paste photos into one neat, tidy, paperless place. Plus it will be super easy to take with my when I go shopping.

And I will be shopping….

Duly noted!

 

You can read Already Pretty, the blog, here.! You can buy Already Pretty, the book here!

 

 

*In real life friendship pending. Alls I need’s airfare to Minneapolis, yo!

** There may be but the word is definitely not “skirty”. I know because I looked it up.

*** Just let me have that one, okay?

It’s Fall! Woo! Or to put it more accurately: It’s fall. Woo?

As a lifelong sun worshipper, I’ve always had issues with autumn. September means that summer is over and deep-freeze of winter is looming. It’s the longest possible time before the scorching weather I love returns so I’ve spent most of my life having a shitty attitude towards the whole season.

This year, I’m trying to change my outlook. Fall may never be my favourite season, it’s still got it’s good points. Fall means beautiful folliage and tea-drinking weather. The mosquitos are gone and the morning light no longer wakes me up before 6 a.m.  Thanksgiving, Hallowe’en and my birthday are all on deck.  Not too shabby.

Fall’s cool temps also mean the return of fun wardrobe staples. Sweaters. Tights. Boots. And Jackets. Blazers and jean jackets are a great option for days that begin as cool crisp mornings and develop into bright, mild afternoons.

Jacket: True Meaning. T-shirt and Jeans: Old Navy. Boots: Dr. Scholl’s. Bag: Bentley

The blazer yet another eBay score, snagged just a couple of weeks ago. It’s reminiscent of my beloved Banana Republic Coat; however the orthogonal tweed pattern is subtle enough that it kind of reads as a solid. I wore this to yesterday’s Consent workshop. I hoped that the structure of the jacket would imply competence and the marshmallow peep yellow would signal fun…or barring that, tastiness.

Jacket: Old Navy. Dress: Target. Necklace: Forever 21. Shoes: Chinese Laundry.

Just because I’m trying to improve my attitude about fall, that doesn’t mean I can’t also be in denial about the end of summer. It’s not over until it’s over. And while the calendar says it’s over today for me the season ends when I flip my wardrobe. Jean jackets like this one let me extend the use of my warm weather frocks until the last possible moment.

 

Jacket: RW & Co. Dress: Zara. Boots: Dr. Scholls. Custom Necklace: Silver Hand Jewelry

The other day, I came home from a long day of work and rehearsals and The Man of Mans handed me a box. Inside was the nameplate necklace pictured above – a beautiful piece of custom work by our friend Chris Manning! I guess technically it isn’t a nameplate, per se. That’s okay. If I’m ever forced to join a witness protection program  or enroll in spy school, I won’t be Nadine anymore. But no matter where I go or what I do, I’ll always be adorkable.

In other news, the family were in Fredericton for Rosh Hashanah this week. We stayed with The MoMs’ sister and her family and on our second day there, my brother-in-law brought us all out to one of his favourite camping spots by the water to cook-out, canoe…and fish.

I might become a fall-lover yet!

Shopping bagged!

This past Friday I spent a delightful afternoon shopping with Jes and Natalie Joy.  Fun times with fun women made all the better when Jes explained that she is transitioning into a career as a professional style/shopping consultant and was hoping that Nat and I would volunteer as test clients.  Having the advice of a style professional has been a fantasy of mine ever since What Not To Wear hit the North American airwaves.  I eagerly agreed to submit to Jes’ expertise

Getting dressed is not rocket science.  My three-year-old can do it.  Styling, on the other hand, requires some skill.  I’m an outfit gal. I like for my clothes to fit in a specific way. I try to combine items of clothing into pleasing ensembles. Once I have the clothes, I can usually put them together all right.  When it comes to acquiring clothes…I’m a bit of a loose canon.  My standard approach to shopping is time consuming.  Basically, I take half the store’s inventory into a change room, try everything on and whittle the choices dow to 3 or 4 pieces that I really love.

Shopping with Jes was far more efficient.  She easily identified  items she thought would work well for me.  Seeing a flaccid garment on a hanger and being able to envision it accurately on a body requires good understanding of form, shape and colour. Natalie Joy and I have different body types and very different skin tones and Jes was equally successful with both of us.  Jes was thoughtful when it came to textile, taking into consideration movement, breathability, laundering – all important factors for working parents like Nat and I.

We each of us came away with a cohesive set of clothes.  The ten or so pieces I bought can be combined to create dozens of outfits.  It’s a standard rule of economical shopping, but one I’ve always had trouble executing.

I’ve been thinking lately that I’d like to write a script that centers around clothing.   I’ve no sense of the form I might use to tell this story.  Nor do I know exactly what I want to say.   Like my closet, there’s a LOT of material.  Clothing, style and fashion are sometimes dismissed as vapid or inconsequential. I love getting dolled up, playing in my closet and sussing out new duds.  But my love affair with clothes is challenging sometimes.  I get self-conscious about my sartorial lust. As a feminist identified woman, I sometimes fall victim to the misconception that traditionally feminine pursuits are a betrayal of my personal politics. I can usually talk myself down from that ledge,  however; I do have more legitimate shame/ guilt about being a privileged, consumerist clothes horse.  The Post-Fab Princess, writes a fabulously-smart fashion-focused [ETA: now defunct] blog. She says it thusly:

I have an utterly unwholesome obsession with fashion – AND OMG J. CREW – frequently at odds with my anti-consumerist sympathies. What’s a fabulous feminist to do?

I derive tremendous pleasure from dressing myself.  When I choose an outfit, it’s like working through an equation; taking into account variables such as my mood, the weather, the demands of my day and the contents of my wardrobe to arrive at an ideal ensemble.  Dressing is my self-care.   It’s a way I’ve found of being kind to my spirit and nice to my body, which doesn’t always come naturally for me.

My love of clothes and shopping comes from my father.  Growing up, I noticed that he took great care in cultivating his wardrobe, buying the finest pieces he could afford.  He was also a bit of a label junkie, seduced by cachet of Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss and Ralph Lauren.  We often went shopping together on Saturday mornings in downtown Toronto. He would buy me spiffy little kid duds and treat himself to a  new pair of shoes or one of his signature trilby hats.

My mother rarely shopped for herself.  Hers was a make-do wardrobe, as she doggedly tended to my needs, those of my father and our home.   She didn’t make time to do much for herself.  She made due with the clothes year in and year out.  She didn’t like what she wore. I know that because she would mention it, letting out a frustrated sigh at not having bought new clothes in years.

As an adult, I really sympathize with my mother.  She truly believed that it was her duty to give everything she had to our family.  But at the time, her self-sacrifice made me sad and it made my angry.  I understood but lacked the adult’s vocabulary to tell my mom that I neither wanted nor needed her to care for me to the exclusion of caring for herself.

When I grew up and after my parents split, my mother slowly but surely started investing in herself, inwardly and outwardly.   Now she wears clothes that reflect her personality.  It was a delight to discover that she is also a bit of a fashionista.  And it turns our clothing aesthetics are quite similar.   We share the same love of vivid colour and bold pattern.  Though she is far, far better at accessorizing than I am.  She has so many fun shoes.   She wears chunky, textured necklaces and metal bracelets.  When those bracelets clang together to me the sound is my mother, as much as her voice.

Clothes aren’t important to everyone and that’s okay. I believe that who a person is is more important than what they wear.  But I express who I through the clothes I wear. Dressing my body brings me joy and that joy affects my heart and soul.  Just as I’m intrigued by art, music and other sensory experiences, I’m drawn to the costumes people put on.  A man sitting on the street on a hot summer’s day has a story behind his worn winter coat.  The woman at the party in the look-at-me red dress is intriguing to me.  The person sitting next to me rocking a crisp man’s shirt and frilly pink skirt chose that outfit for reason. What could it be?  There is so much I love and think and wonder about clothes.

So…what are you wearing?

Poseur!

Orignally posted June 7th, 2010