Wednesday, 31 December 2014


No review of the past year, no new year resolutions, let's just keep on being fabulous.


Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Afternoon Tea at Reid's Palace


Madeira on Christmas Day... 

I seldom spend Christmas at home. And think I haven't spent Christmas in Finland for ages, not since my mother died (on Christmas Day 18 years ago...). So, white Christmas has very little nostalgia value for me (I get enough of the white stuff in January and February, thank you very much). And as I'm not in the least bit religious, Christmas has always been more about Santa Claus and food for me. And therefore it is quite fitting to spend Christmas Day having afternoon tea in Reid's Palace.

Reid's Palace Madeira

Reid's Palace is a historic luxury hotel in Funchal, dating back to the late 19th century. It used to be a meeting point for the Edwardian high society, and a must-see attraction for passengers on ocean liners on their way from Europe to New York. The renovated interior of the hotel still reflects this era of opulence and glamour:

Reid's Palace Madeira

The hotel is perched on a cliff overlooking Funchal Bay, so the view from the Tea Terrace is quite spectacular:

Reid's Palace Madeira

The other end of the terrace offers an equally beautiful view of the sub-tropical garden.


And then there's the dress code... Yes, the dress code for afternoon tea is 'smart casual'. This proved to be a bit of a challenge for me. I may be a snob, but I'm a very low-maintenance snob: my holiday wardrobe tends to be more casual than smart. But I did my best, using the limited wardrobe I had packed to come up with a rather conservative look, except for the totally uncharacteristic pattern mixing.

This experience got me thinking that 'smart casual' is definitely a concept I should explore a bit more. So, I put together another outfit, based on the same jacket (as that was the only jacket I had packed) and bag. I look forward to showing it to you...

And of course I have a couple of posts on Madeira coming up in the next few weeks, with some pictures and travel tips.

What's your opinion on dress codes?



Sunday, 28 December 2014

Travel Essentials

easy travel wardrobe

I'm a low maintenance girl...

Therefore, I like to keep my life simple. Correction: I'm constantly trying to simplify my life (and usually failing), but at least I can make my wardrobe fuss-free, especially when I travel.

I have no packing system; I just toss into a suitcase (yes, a suitcase, not cabin luggage) whatever I think I might need plus something for unexpected circumstances, such as unusually cold weather or rain. Be prepared for (almost) anything, that's my motto. I know, I'm a bit neurotic. But I'm also old enough to say 'so what': I decided to give up trying to 'improve' myself and instead embrace my neuroses a long time ago. A few more decades and I'll be able to pass them off as adorable eccentricities...

low-maintenance travel wardrobe
wrap: Marja Kurki / sunglasses: Miu Miu / bag: Michael Kors
But I'm digressing here.
So, I do pack a sort of a capsule wardrobe, i.e. I may pack clothes in a certain colour scheme, so that they can be mixed and matched, but I don't plan any outfits in advance (it would be totally pointless: whenever I do plan an entire outfit in advance, I end up changing my mind at the last minute...). There are lots of basics (trousers, t-shirts, maybe a dress or two), 2-3 pairs of shoes, a couple of bags and at least 2-3 pairs of sunglasses, several big scarves and tons of jewellery (I need some variety). My accessories always take up most of the space in the suitcase. Seriously, if it wasn't for accessories, I could fit everything in cabin luggage. Perhaps I could pack just one bag, one pair of sunglasses etc? No, I don't think that would work...

how to wear a poncho
top: Banana Republic (old) / trousers: Marks and Spencer (old)  / shoes: Clarks (spring 2014)
This is a typical holiday outfit: trousers and a t-shirt / long-sleeved top (for cooler days), a small cross-body bag for essentials (= credit cards, phone, lipstick, camera) and a wool wrap / poncho that I can throw over whatever I'm wearing when it gets colder. These pictures were taken in Funchal, Madeira, where it was around 16ºC / 68.8 ºF, so the wrap was actually quite useful because it was a bit chilly, especially in the mornings and evenings.

travel in style

If this outfit looks familiar, that's probably because the wrap has been featured on the blog before, in red and in white... Yes, I did it again (sorry for quoting Britney, totally accidental...): I bought the same wrap in yet another colour, but how could I resist such a lovely shade of blue?


PS: This is my 100th post, can you believe it?

Linking up with Visible Monday

Dilettante Artist has her own blog now, The Dilettante Artist's Gallery,  where I will be posting (very infrequently) random pictures: illustration, photomanipulation, that sort of thing. And there is a pretty, new widget on the sidebar to take you there...


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Madeira: Moments


Now that I still have a couple of days left in Madeira, I would like to share some of my fleeting impressions of this beautiful place.

There are Christmas decorations everywhere:


The street art is very inspiring:


And the locals...
well, the lizard was too busy to pose for a picture, and the cat just told me to get lost...


Funchal is very pretty:


The mountain scenery is impressive:

Eira do Serrado

And of course I will be posting more pictures later...



Monday, 22 December 2014

Merry Christmas

Madeira winter

I'm dreaming of a warm Christmas... 

A week in Madeira: relaxing, resting, having fun... Did I mention relaxing? No work,  no stress... just relaxing. Sounds perfect.
But this is me we're talking about. I have an uncanny talent to get stressed about, well, how to avoid getting stressed... But I'm trying, that should count for something, right?
And really, a week in such a beautiful place, what could possibly go wrong?

So, let's stop worrying and let's look at the outfits:

OUTFIT 1: the classic "the-airline-lost-my-luggage" look

Two suitcases, one for me and one for Professor M... both got mysteriously stuck at Lisbon airport as we were changing planes. That's understandable, these things happen, especially when you're in a hurry to catch your connecting flight. And we only had about 4 hours...
The luggage did finally arrive, of course, about 20 hours after us. So, our first day in Funchal was spent wearing whatever we had in the cabin luggage. A rather casual outfit for a wedding anniversary...

BTW: I would like to introduce this little gizmo to you. The idea is simple: you put Trakdot into your luggage, and it tells you where your suitcase is. So, when your suitcase ends up on the other side of the world, at least you get regular text messages from this friendly little device...

I've used this a few times, with varying levels of success (it seems South Korea is unknown territory to Trakdot...), and this time I was really, really happy to have it. It was oddly comforting to be able to see my suitcase on the Trakdot app map, moving around Lisbon airport, even though I had no idea when it would be delivered to me... That's a bit sick, even for a sarcastic control freak. Maybe I should have my head examined...

OUTFIT 2: the avant-garde

"I-have-nothing-to-wear-even-though-I-packed-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink" look

Christmas 2014 Madeira
Christmas 2014 Madeira

OUTFIT 3: the timeless and chic "but-it-wasn't-this-cold-here-two-years-ago" look

+40 casual winter look

 I hope you're enjoying the countdown to Christmas 
and have a chance to relax over the holidays.


Linking up with Sacramento and Rosy for 


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Sales? Err, no thanks...

Sales... massive bargains, fabulous finds and happy shoppers, right?
Err... I'll pass.
The truth is, I hate sales. And I do almost anything to avoid them, or to avoid going anywhere near shops this time of the year. The frenzied shoppers tossing clothes around, elbowing each other out of the way... No, I don't need that.

And yet, there I was, in London, on Oxford Street, last Friday, armed with a shopping list and uncharacteristic determination to push and shove my way through the hordes of crazy bargain hunters...

No, I haven't gone mad (always been that...), just going on holiday (vacation for my American readers). And I needed a swimsuit as the hotel I'm going to has a spa with steam rooms, whirlpools etc that I'd like to try. I know this because we went to the same hotel two years ago, and my husband tried the spa and loved it, and I was so annoyed I didn't have a swimsuit so I could join him.

A woman who doesn't own a swimsuit, what's up with that, you might ask... I suppose it's a legitimate question. I haven't had a swimsuit for a long time because a) I cant't swim (and I'm well aware of the irony, being a Finn...) and b) I don't sunbathe. Ever. So, why would I need a swimsuit? Except when I'm going on holiday to a nice hotel with a fantastic spa...

Which brings us back to my expedition... Normally I would avoid Oxford Street, but now I wanted to go to John Lewis (for my American readers: it's a bit like Macy's, something for everyone...), to get the swimsuit fast and with as little hassle as possible.

So, trying on swimsuits, how could I describe that? Not much choice, no nice colours, horrible prints, made me feel like a sausage. Enough said.

And the sales... Well, like any fashionista, I know that this is the perfect occasion to find some good basics at the fraction of the cost, provided I do my research and plan ahead. Done and done: I said I had a list didn't I? I wanted to get (besides the swimsuit, that is) a couple of T-shirts, a pair of trousers, a scarf, a top with long sleeves. I had planned my route in advance: take the Tube to Oxford Circus, first stop Banana Republic, then the House of Hanover on the way to Fenwick (both great places to find scarves), then Zadig and Voltaire and Zara on the way to Oxford Street and John Lewis...

And did I get what wanted? Well, as you can see:

wellies: Jigsaw / swimsuit: John Lewis / pashmina: Beck Söndergaard / T-shirt: Zadig & Voltaire / necklace: Fenwick
I bought a pair of wellies (rubber boots for my American readers), a pashmina, a necklace, a T-shirt and a swimsuit. Only the T-shirt was on sale...

So, I guess we could say that my sales shopping skills are far from perfect... OK, fine, I suck at sales.

On the other hand, I'm quite good at shopping, i.e. I seldom buy anything that I don't wear; and whatever I buy usually goes perfectly with my existing wardrobe. But still, do I need another pashmina? Probably not. Will I wear with? Absolutely. And the wellies... I guess we could call that impulsive shopping. Although this time last year the British winter certainly made me wish I'd had a pair, and I know for a fact that they will come in handy, sooner or later.

As for sales... I think I'll wait for the new season clothes.

If I wanted to share any shopping advice, it would be this: when you see something you like, and it fits and looks great, buy it. Now. Because when you come back for it later, expecting to find it in the sales, it will be gone (at least in your size and preferred colour). And the worst part? Some smug fashionista somewhere just bagged your dream dress / shoes / bag, only because she didn't wait for the sales...

Do you shop at sales?


Photo credit: the mini-fashionista is me, on a family trip to Stockholm, so many years ago...

PS: Dilettante Artist has her own blog now, The Dilettante Artist's Gallery,  where I will be posting (very infrequently) random pictures: illustration, photomanipulation, that sort of thing. And there is a pretty, new widget on the sidebar to take you there...

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Let's get festive...

how to style a wrapdress

Dressing for the December party season... or not

This time of the year most magazines and personal style blogs are full of ideas on how to dress for the inevitable holiday parties. So, I'm going to let you down big time now and say that I hardly ever attend any parties, let alone dress in festive outfits. Of course, there are lunches / dinners with friends, but these tend to be rather casual affairs, and everybody dresses for comfort more than for anything else. Therefore, I don't own a single piece that I would characterise as 'festive' or 'evening wear'...

40+ wrap dress
Dress: Baukjen (old, similar), necklace: Hirst Antiques
On the other hand, I like to make a bit more effort on an ordinary day: add a bit of sparkle, a nice bag, a scarf... which is also perfect for a semi-casual dinner after work or at the weekend.
Take this outfit, for example: I wore this to an Independence Day (6 December) lunch at a restaurant.  Independence Day is sort of a big deal in Finland, and people often invite friends and family over or book a table in a fancy restaurant. And this is one of the few occasions when most men still wear a suit. And women... black dresses / trouser suits are always the most popular option. But, as I find black both boring and unflattering for my own colouring, I decided to go with colour instead.

clutch bag

I have a bad habit of buying some of my favourite items in several colours: I showed you this dress a few weeks ago, in fuchsia (and the bag has made an appearance here before, too...). Maybe I'm a lazy dresser, but I think that if something looks good that's good enough a reason to get multiples. It also saves time on those early mornings when you have to get dressed in a hurry and you have no time to wait for your poor night owl brain to wake up and get creative...

Do you prefer from-desk-to-dinner looks or special occasion dresses?


PS: Dilettante Artist has her own blog now, The Dilettante Artist's Gallery,  where I will be posting (very infrequently) random pictures: illustration, photomanipulation, that sort of thing. And there is a pretty, new widget on the sidebar to take you there...

Linking up with Visible Monday

Monday, 8 December 2014

Is it winter yet?

classic winter style over 40

How do you define winter?

When does winter start, in your opinion? In November? In December? Or is it more a question of weather? The cold breeze? Snow? And how cold is cold enough so that we can call it winter instead of autumn?

over 40 winter style

For me December is definitely winter, with or without snow. But I find it odd to call anything around  10°C / 50°F  cold, let alone winter...

I was born in Finland, so I'm no stranger to winter, snow or cold weather. That doesn't mean that I like it, though; quite the contrary. In fact, I wouldn't mind extending autumn till spring. And I could definitely do without snow or ice. So, you probably guessed that I'm not looking forward to the cold season...

leopard print 40+

This is sort of a transitional outfit: now it's cold enough for a cashmere jumper, but mild enough for a wool coat, a skirt must be paired with not just tights but also boots, and scarves are getting bigger and bigger. And I'm accessorising with the fabulous birthday present my wonderful husband gave me, in advance... a lot in advance (FYI: my birthday is in six months...): 

how to style a Chanel bag

It was about 1°C / 33.8 °F when these photos were taken, so not exactly a cold winter day (by my standards; I realise that what we call cold depends on what we are used to), and warm enough for all the snow we had to thaw. Which is fine by me; I'm sure there will be more than enough snow in a month or so, there always is.

But I'm not ready for a full-on winter yet... So, I'm off to warmer climates, in search of the gentler, autumnal weather, hoping to ditch the boots, at least for a while...

classic style 40+

Outfit details:
coat: Reiss  / leather skirt: Karen Millen / cashmere jumper: Repeat /
 necklace: Andiata / bag:Chanel/ Christmas tree brooch: Hirst Antiques /
 ear rings: Thomas Sabo

When does winter start for you?


PS: Dilettante Artist has her own blog now, The Dilettante Artist's Gallery,  where I will be posting (very infrequently) random pictures: illustration, photomanipulation, that sort of thing. And there is a pretty, new widget on the sidebar to take you there...

Linking up with Sacramento and Rosy for Share-in-Style

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Amazing Travelling Tartan Coat

wool coat

I recently rediscovered this old coat in my wardrobe...

For a while now I have been looking for a lightweight wool coat that travels well and goes with anything. And it seems it was right under my nose all this time.

coat: Manuela Conti / shoes: Clarks / sunglasses: Tom Ford

I haven't worn this old coat for years, I didn't even remember I had it. 

It happens: you get tired of your old clothes and push them to the back of the wardrobe and forget about them. And then one day when you're having one of those I-have-nothing-to-wear moments, pulling out old things to toss them, there it is: the old coat that suddenly looks like the perfect solution to the current wardrobe crisis.

purple bag
bag: Gloria Ortiz / gloves: Sauso

And the current wardrobe crisis would be...?

Most wool coats are bulky, and take up a lot of space in the suitcase. And given the changeable weather, I would always need at least two coats for winter /autumn (i.e. a wool coat for sunny days and something more appropriate for rain). I also hate having to squash my coat to make it fit into the aircraft overhead locker. That is precisely the problem I have with the blue coat I showed you a few weeks ago, which makes it less than ideal when I commute between the Homebases.

wool coat

Could this humble old coat solve the problem?

Perhaps, at least it packs well (tried and tested now), takes significantly less space in the overhead locker and as a result emerges looking tidier.

wool coat

And it looks quite nice, too, especially when jazzed up with some colour-pop accessories. What do you think?


PS: Dilettante Artist has her own blog now, The Dilettante Artist's Gallery,  where I will be posting (very infrequently) random pictures: illustration, photomanipulation, that sort of thing. And there is a pretty, new widget on the sidebar to take you there...

Linking up with: Throw Back Thursday, Passion 4 Fashion
Linking up with Sacramento and Rosy for Share-in-Style

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Just FUNtastic Pictures...

I thought I'd share with you some of the holiday snaps I've taken this year. These are some of the weirdest and funniest signs I've come across, here and there. And I really cannot explain most of them, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves... 

Old Thatch Teashop, Shanklin, Isle of Wight
Ventnor, Isle of Wight

PS: Dilettante Artist has her own blog now, The Dilettante Artist's Gallery,  where I will be posting (very infrequently) random pictures: illustration, photomanipulation, that sort of thing. And there is a pretty, new widget on the sidebar to take you there...

Thursday, 27 November 2014

A Grey Coat Needs Cool Accessories

winter coat
I've had this grey (gray for my American readers) coat for ever...
Certainly long enough, and I've been trying to replace it for... longer than I can remember. But, as you can see, I haven't had much luck.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Grim, Dark November...

puffa jacket
It's that time of the year again: 
one day it snows, the next day the snow (well, sleet, actually) is all gone but it's freezing cold (as in, around 0°C / 32°F)... then it gets (a bit) warmer again, even the sun comes out to play for a few precious hours.
This is when we Nordics turn all Nordic Noir, retreat to our homes and huddle up in front of the SAD light, browsing travel agency websites for a last minute escape somewhere sunny...

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Moto Jacket x 3

leather jacket over 40

Coats and jackets take up quite a bit of space in the suitcase, so I always try to find the one perfect cover-up that would work with anything and in every situation. So, on a recent 3-day trip to London, I set myself a little challenge: to create 3 different looks based on my old, black Karen Millen leather jacket (you may remember it from a few weeks ago, when I wore it with a leopard print dress).

40+ biker jacket
jacket: Karen Millen (old) / top: Banana republic / shoes: Clarks /  bag: Micheal Kors
LOOK 1: a Casual Dinner / Night Out
A sophisticated wrap top and a statement necklace, straight-cut brown trousers and shoes, and a small bag. A pink pashmina adds a pop of colour.

40+ moto jacket
bag: Armani Exchange (old) / pashmina: Balmuir / T-shirt: Custo Barcelona
LOOK 2: Travel outfit
This is my travel outfit: a long sleeved T-shirt and the same trousers as above (this time in grey) and shoes (in black), a medium-sized bag.

40+ biker
top: Banana Republic / sunglasses: Chanel (old)
LOOK 3: Weekend Casual
Breton stripes and  modern jewellery equals urban chic

pendant: "Space Apple" by  Björn Weckström for Lapponia / ring: Femme d'Esprit
The silver and acrylic pendant was a gift from my husband. It is a limited edition piece (designed in 1975) from the Björn Weckström 50th anniversary collection showcasing the designer's space inspired pieces for Lapponia Jewelry.

smart casual leather jacket

So, which one is your favourite look?


Linking up with Throw Back ThursdayPassion 4 Fashion, Visible Monday

PS: Dilettante Artist has her own blog now, The Dilettante Artist's Gallery,  where I will be posting (very infrequently) random pictures: illustration, photomanipulation, that sort of thing. And there is a pretty new widget on the sidebar to take you there...
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