Archive | November 2011

Catalogue Gripes

 I love catalogues because I love seeing what new fashions they are offering. Today I have two short gripes.

On the cover of a recent catalogue is a beautiful dress – unusual (a touch of the dramatic) and in a lovely bright colour. In the shop, the colour is very different – dull and almost menopausal pink. It was a turnoff and I bet it will be a slow seller. Please retailers, get the colour right.

In another catalogue was a summer dress from a brand aimed at mature women. It was simple and in a colour that suited everyone. In the store the material felt and looked like very cheap cotton. I wasn’t the only one who looked and walked away. Please retailers, choose catalogue clothes carefully.

Now is the season for light, cool summer dresses and skirts in Australia.

I believe that women are not spending because it is harder to find something nice to buy. The brands and retailers that will succeed into the future will be those that provide smart, attractive and good value clothes for women as they age. Second-best is not good enough for today’s mature women.

(This article was sent to readers of ‘The Fashion Translator’ eZine on 2 December 2011. Click here to sign up for the eZine .)


The Secret Lives of Our Clothes

With tears streaming down my face, a bundle under my arm and a box of matches in my pocket, I headed towards our backyard incinerator hoping mum wouldn’t see me. I didn’t want to be asked what I was doing.

Clothes are more than pieces of fabric hanging in our wardrobes! They all with stories! Stand before your open wardrobe and you could tell each item’s story – love, hate, embarrassment, shame or indifference.

Last Sunday, 27 November 2011, in the ‘Body & Soul’ magazine of the Sunday Mail was an article on ‘How Clothes Can Boost Your Mood’. This article talked about the things we women demand from out clothes. It also resonated with me as I have written in my ‘Wardrobe Full, Nothing to Wear’ program about how hard it is to get rid of some clothes that bring up strong emotions in us.

Here’s my short guide to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the secret lives of our clothes.

The Good

These are often favourites in our wardrobe because every time we put them on we feel good about ourselves. They may be clothes or accessories and we wear them often. It might be the colour, the style, the fit, that it reflects our true personality or even all of these. Sometimes when these clothes start to fade or get a little worn, we still keep them. We are reluctant to throw out the memories of compliments and scared that we will never find anything like it again.

The good can even include a major revamp of clothes. I can remember when I left teaching and took the scissors to all my long skirts. I wanted the feeling of freedom for a new stage in my life. So I cut them shorter or threw them out. It felt good to change these clothes.

In a perfect world we would only have feel-good clothes in our wardrobe.

The Bad

Life is not perfect. It is messy and fluid. Bad clothes hang beside our favourites.

These are the clothes you bought on a day when you just had to have something new. ‘This will do’ you said and it doesn’t. Months have passed and it is still unworn. You live in hope that you will soon find the perfect thing to wear it with. You hope that bad will turn to good one day!

Then there are the items that you thought looked good on you. It was a fragile feeling and it only took a few words to pull you down. ‘You look ridiculous! What is that! Where are you going in that? Why are you wearing your good clothes?’ are some of the words I have experienced. If your confidence is low that day, the clothes are relegated to either being hidden away or only worn when you feel it is really safe to wear them.

The Ugly

That bundle under my arm at the start of this article was a dress. I was much younger and I’d just had a big argument with my current boyfriend. Harsh words were said. I was taking the drastic action of burning the dress I was wearing at the time. Yes, you could burn things in the backyard then. I loved the dress but it was the sacrifice.

Our clothing and accessories are not inanimate objects. They are indicators of our current emotions and stories of our life and growth.

If it is time to move the good, the bad or the ugly on, there is a simple and gentle process in my ‘Wardrobe Full, Nothing to Wear’ Action program which is available from my website.

(This article was sent to readers of ‘The Fashion Translator’ eZine on 2 December 2011. Click here to sign up for the eZine .)

Fashion Over Comfort – 3 Signs You are Getting Older

As we get older, it is a shock when we discover that we prefer comfort over fashion. Are you becoming your mother?

  1. You try on a new top or dress and discover it has an empire line that comes not under your breast but somewhere closer to your nipple. When did your bust go south? Just pretend it’s meant to be that way.
  2. You discover that you have lots of elastic-waisted clothes in your wardrobe. How did that happen? Of course! It was after someone saw your zip not zipped to the top or your waist button undone.
  3. You look in your wardrobe and it’s full of clothes or accessories in one or two colours only. Who sold you all these? It is taking ‘wearing your signature colour’ to extremes.

We all need a little comfort in our lives.

Descend into 80% comfort and 20% modern and you will feel old and dowdy.

Go for 20% comfort and 80% modern (I will help you) and you will be ‘young at heart’ and happy.
Click here to sign up for your weekly ‘Baby Boomer Personal Style’ ezine.)

More Fashion Notes from Europe

‘How long does it take you to buy a scarf?’ said my impatient husband as he waited for me outside the shop in AnaCapri.

Men are not patient shoppers. It’s a long time as they wait for you and a short time as you wait for them while they browse in the high-tech shop. Ah! The delights of relationships!

Scarves interest me and I love finding new, modern ways of wearing them. Although it was the end of summer going into autumn in the northern hemisphere, I noticed two simple ways British and French women were wearing their scarves. Their styles can be translated to any time of the year. It is just the material that will change and a slight adaption for age and weather.

Here are my three scarf translations. Two are simple and the third one is a new Italian translation.

The Simple V Scarf

The young like life simple and casual. When they wear scarves, they are simple, casual and chic. Take an oblong scarf (or one that can be folded into an oblong shape) and fold it in half lengthwise. Put it around your neck and thread the two loose ends through the folded part. Leave it a bit loose not tight round your neck. Drape it to your left or your right side (your choice). Done.

To get the ‘casual chic’ look, make the loose ends a little uneven as your fold it in half. This looks less formal. If necessary, pin the scarf in place with a small safety pin from the inside of your top, dress or jumper.

It also works if you have a left-over piece of light-weight material that is oblong (ie longer than wider). Use the same folding technique above.

The U Shape Scarf

This is not new. It is Gen Y’s favourite way to wear a scarf as it is a very simple technique that looks good. For this you also need an oblong scarf or one that can be folded into an oblong shape. Start with the centre point in front of your neck. Throw the ends over your shoulders and back around to hang down the front of you. Simple.

Here’s how to get the best out of this style ie age-smart casual chic. Make sure it is not tight on your neck. Pull it down a bit at the front so your face shines. Adjust the scarf so the ends are a little unequal. This avoids the formal ‘everything must be equal’ look of our younger days. If you are wearing a square scarf folded into an oblong shape, pull the front out to make a V shape down your chest. Then make the end finish shorter than the bottom of the V.

The Scarf cum Belt

This is the scarf I had to have and the reason for my husband’s impatience. The shop owner was showing me how I could swap scarves and use the technique for any scarf. It also took time to choose the perfect scarf colour. I went for classic brown tones.

The scarf is simple a gold buckle and ring. You fold up your scarf into an oblong shape and tie the ends on to buckle and ring part. What makes it unusual is that a stretchy style beaded bracelet is folded round and round over the ring end.

Worn as a scarf, you can place the buckle and beaded part on your right or left. Worn as a soft hip or waist belt, it gently defines your shape.

There you  have it – Europe’s favourite scarf techniques to translate to an Australian summer or any season in any country of the world.

(Article sent to readers of ‘The Fashion Translator’ ezine on 16 November 2011. Click here to sign up for the ezine.)

A Photo for Shoe Lovers

Shoe lovers unite.

Here’s a picture from my recent European holiday.

In the window of the Hermes shop in Cannes, France were fashion items created with cotton reels.

I just had to take a photo of this gladiator-style shoe.


(Photo sent to readers of ‘The Fashion Translator’ ezine on 2 November 2011. Click here to sign up for the ezine.)