Wednesday, 30 April 2014

My Style Icon - My Mother

My mother was the most infuriating kind of woman there is. You know the type of woman I'm talking about: she always looks absolutely impeccable. With each hair in place, minimal make-up, she always manages to look effortlessly elegant in that I-just-threw-something-on kind of way... It used to drive me mad, but it also intrigued me.

Some women seem to have an innate sense of style: they know exactly what suits them and are not tempted by passing trends. And, more importantly, they know how to make quite ordinary clothes look classy and fabulous. The most annoying, and amazing, thing is that they make it all look so easy.
vintage moodboard

There were no designer clothes, no bag / shoe collections, no fashion spending sprees. My mother had a very small wardrobe and few accessories. I remember her buying a new outfit maybe once or twice a year, then styling it in new ways, again and again, year after year.

She also had a sewing machine, and used it to make the type of clothes she couldn't find in shops (the 70s evening dresses, hostess dresses etc.)

Oh, and she also knew how to pose. But then again, she used to be a model, for a very brief time in the early 60s... Still, I have never seen even one photograph of her looking anything but perfect. It's just infuriating... if there is one thing I wish I'd inherited from her it's that: looking good in photos. And her innate sense of effortless elegance, of course.

vintage style
left: late 1960s; right: early 1980s

Her style was always very classic, with a nod to trends. She liked her clothes simple, low-maintenance and comfortable. There was never anything contrived or fussy or try-too-hard about them. It was wash-and-wear clothing that was just as easy and effortlessly elegant as it looked like.

mother daughter style

I gravitate towards her style sensibilities, more so as I get older. I find I can learn from her mix of classic and trendy and adapt it into my own, more quirky, style. I don't know, is effortless elegance something one can learn? All I know is it's something worth studying, so I hope you look forward to seeing more posts on her style...

Who is your style icon, and how have they influenced your style?

Elegantly yours, 



For more posts in this series, go to Style Icon
DEDICATION: in loving memory of Ritva L (1 Jan 1942 - 25 Dec 1996)

Sunday, 27 April 2014


I have been to Barcelona many times over the years, but never during Easter. So it was a new experience in a way. The weather was perfect, around +18°C (64.4 °F), which in my opinion is the perfect temperature anyway: not too hot nor too cold. 

Tiina in Barcelona

I'm not good at sightseeing, but I love looking for interesting details, such as these:

Barcelona holiday

Although I'm still wondering what the sign above means... If you figure it out, please let me know.

There are small chocolate and ice cream shops everywhere... (Read my previous post on pastry and chocolate in Barcelona here.) And Easter specialities take centre stage in shop windows:

Barcelona chocolate

The locals are very friendly and welcoming:

Sara and Lorena
Well, these two old ladies were not very talkative...

Tiina L personal style

A word of warning: notice that my clutch bag has a strap? When thinking about what type of a bag to take with you, here's a simple rule: if it doesn't wrap around your body one way or another, leave it home. There are not only pickpockets but also bag snatchers in Barcelona, so be warned...

I hope you look forward to hearing more about Barcelona. Next time we will go shopping...

Bad Tourist

Thursday, 24 April 2014

LONDON - Between Oxford St and Piccadilly

Today I thought I'd take you on a little stroll around London. Well, not around exactly, as there's so much to see and do in London. But we could take a little walk, explore a few interesting 'sights' between Oxford Street and Piccadilly.

First stop: Bond Street. Ah... if only we had more cash to splash we could really do some serious damage here. But we don't, so we'll just have to avert our eyes passing luxury shops...

Bond Street London
Bond Street
There are a few places we could stop by, though:

High-end leather goods in beautiful colours... Who says luxury can't be practical? A personalised iPad case may be a bit pricey, but I think it's worth every penny. Just think about it: your own initials in gold lettering... You can also bring your old Smythson products here and have them personalised.

Tea and Scones

There are only two reasons to go to Fenwick: tea and accessories. Forget the clothes: designer stuff that is beyond our budget and needs to be dry-cleaned, for the most part. Focus on the fabulous accessories on the ground floor: cashmere pashminas, silk scarves, colourful jewellery.
And after we're all shopped out and need a little break, we can head to the second floor restaurant, BOND & BROOK, and have fashionista-sized high tea while browsing their extensive library of fashion and style books. 

Regent Street London
Regent Street
Ready for some bargain shopping? Just a few blocks from Fenwick we find one of London's best-kept secrets: 
This modest-looking shop is where you can pick up discounted designer labels (last season's fashions) for men and women. The men's department in particular is very good, and they have an in-house alterations service available. 
(13-14 Hanover Street. It's just off Regent Street.)

The legendary London department store is just across Regent Street, and well worth a visit. The ground floor has a staggering selection of jewellery and scarves, and the vintage and fabric departments are full of temptations. And there is a wonderful chocolate shop that we should definitely stop by on our way to the Carnaby Street exit...

Nordic Bakery London
Nordic Bakery (Golden Square, Soho)
Heading towards Piccadilly Circus (along Carnaby Street, it's a less crowded shortcut), we come across a little slice of home right there in Soho in the form of this little coffee shop:

Cinnamon buns, rye bread, strong coffee... anything we might need for a quick cure to acute homesickness. Nordic design (well, Finnish, mostly) is prominent in the simple, no-fuss decor that accompanies similarly no-fuss food. (14 a Golden Square)

So, that was it, our little stroll around this part of London. 
See you next time, somewhere else in this wonderful city!

Bad Tourist

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Barcelona Street Art

I've often wondered why I find Barcelona so inspiring. It must be the vibrant energy and creativity that I crave, a chance to recharge my own creativity and challenge my notions of the limits of artistic expression.

Art and design are very much part and parcel of Barcelona, but not necessarily, or only, in ways that you would expect. Instead, artistic expression is constantly changing, reinventing itself, taking on new and unexpected forms in the most ordinary locations and situations, such as for example this window display of an ordinary coffee shop:

Barcelona food

Art is very much part of everyday life, and about everyday life, like these murals:

Barcelona street art
Barcelona street art

Creativity and artistic expression are also filtered into design, and as a result even the most mundane everyday objects look incredibly cool and sophisticated, as well as both classic and very modern at the same time:


And when shops and restaurants close, they become billboards advertising the shop and its wares to passersby, or canvases for modern urban street art.

Barcelona street art

Yes, that's why I need my annual pilgrimage to Barcelona: it is a living, breathing work of art, but one that is both complete and still a work-in-progress.

Create the life you want, 

Tiina L,
Bad Tourist


Sunday, 20 April 2014


I'm on holiday... well, sort of. As a freelancer, I can schedule in some 'no work' time and 'jet off to my holiday pad', i.e. take a few days to relax in Homebase 2. Which is not really that different from staying in Homebase 1, except that I don't have to think about work for 10 days. At least that's the plan.

Anyway, Professor M and I are going on an actual 'holiday' together. By 'holiday' I mean that we can actually both take a few days off from work at the same time, which doesn't happen too often. And now we are going to Barcelona for 3 nights...

So, as soon as I arrived in Homebase 2, I went on a little pre-holiday shopping spree: a dress and three pairs of shoes...

I don't really have 'a holiday wardrobe' or 'work wear'. In fact, I prefer to have  fewer pieces in general, in order to simplify my life. So, I need my clothes to adapt to both work and holiday, as well as to anything else life might throw my way.

I hope to get a lot of wear out of this dress, but time will tell...

By the way, with the exception of one, these items are already in my wardrobe and will come to Barcelona with me...
one dress for work or holiday
white leather jacket: Karen Millen; silver bracelet: "Ceres" by Björn Weckström for Lapponia; clutch: Minna Parikka, old; purple shoes: Clarks, dress: Phase Eight; blue cardigan: L.K. Bennett; blue bag: Decadent Copenhagen; navy shoes: Clarks
     Enjoy the spring sunshine and stay elegant,

Amateur Fashionista

Linking up to: Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style

Friday, 18 April 2014

WANTED: The Perfect Dress

"A 40+, busy professional woman is looking for the PERFECT DRESS to accompany her to work and take her out to dinner.

In general, you should
  • be low-maintenance: I do not iron or dry-clean
  • be easy to slip into: we are always in a hurry, especially in the mornings
  • work well with flats: we have to walk a lot
  • travel well

And at work you should also
  • feel comfortable being stared at by a lot of people all day
  • make me look good and professional in all situations
  • not upstage me as the centre of attention or deflect attention from what I am saying
  • never let me down or embarrass me by revealing too much (seriously, this is a deal-breaker) 

In return, I can offer a long-term, non-exclusive partnership which includes but is not limited to restyling you in as many ways as you want.

If interested, please contact Amateur Fashionista"

perfect wrap-dress x 2
LEFT: dress Boden , blue bag: Decadent Copenhagen; navy flats: Clarks; blue sunglasses: Gucci; gold-tone chain: FOREVER21 
RIGHT: pink dress: Baukjen; bag: Decadent Copenhagen; flat shoes: Clarks; sunglasses: Tom Ford; pearl necklace: Honora 

I may have found my true match... What do you think?

Amateur Fashionista

Linking up to: Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


Photoshop is a wonderful tool: you can create really cool, artsy images quite easily, or just play with it and be creative. But you don't have to be an artist or an illustrator or even a very advanced Photoshop user to come up with something like this:

photomanipulation elements 10

(see the original blog post here)

I used Photoshop Elements 10, and this is what I did:

STEP 1: the source image (yes, that's me, a picture I took myself, posing in front of the mirror...). This is your first layer in the layers panel. Duplicate it, and switch off the original. You will be working on the copy you just made.

STEP 2: first, you can prepare the 'base', just add some glow and smoothen the picture a bit (you can just go to Guided Mode- Perfect Portrait, just follow the steps. You can also skip a step if it is not necessary) 

Now we must play with contrast a bit: Enhance - Adjust Lighting - Levels. To put it simply, make the darker areas of the image darker (but not too dark) and the lighter ones lighter. You may need to repeat this a few times to get the base you need for the next step. 
Now, duplicate the layer, you will be working on the copy you just made next. You will also need your ORIGINAL STEP 2 layer later on.

photomanipulation elements 10

STEP 3: now you will be making some drastic alterations, so make sure you are working on the copy of the layer you just made (and the ORIGINAL STEP 2 layer remains unaltered, you will need it later).
Go to Filter - Adjustments - Threshold, adjust the levels until you are happy with the result.
Now, duplicate the layer (you won't need your ORIGINAL STEP 3 layer anymore, but it is always good to have the original, in case you want to go back to it and try something else)

STEP 4: now you are working on the layer you just created (or a copy of it), your STEP 3 layer. 
Go to Filter - Pixelate - Color Halftone

STEP 5: this is the final stage, and you need 3 layers stacked, starting from the bottom, like this:

LAYER 1: the bottom layer is the one you created in STEP 2, blending mode Normal, Opacity 100%
LAYER 2: a Color Fill layer (I used colour cc66cc), blending mode Luminosity, Opacity 86%.
LAYER 3: the layer you created in STEP 4, blending mode Overlay, Opacity 44%

And there you have it, photomanipulation made easy.

Happy photoshopping, 

Dilettante Artist

Monday, 14 April 2014

Sweet Treats in Barcelona

Cakes, pastries and ice cream  tempt you wherever you go in Barcelona. The mesmerising pastry selection in little coffee shops makes your head spin, and after a while you're convinced that the sweet treats that seem to  stalk you everywhere are whispering their siren song into your ear: 'diets are for wimps'.

Barcelona chocolate

Now, it would be quite mean of me to say that I couldn't care less about cakes and pastry, but that happens to be true. You see, I seem to lack the sweet tooth completely. Well, almost completely... let's just say that unless it's chocolate, I'm not interested. And that's just it: while I can't be tempted by a creamy cake, I've yet to encounter a chocolate treat I wouldn't manage to gobble up in about, oh, 5 seconds or so.

But, lucky for me, Barcelona is full of chocolate shops, too...

Every time I go to Barcelona, I make a little pilgrimage to Xocoa at number 10 Carrer de la Princesa to stock up on their fantastic orange chocolate. My reasoning goes like this: I love this chocolate, so I should get a few more bars, maybe give some to my friends... well, I've been going to Barcelona every year for the past 10 years and my friends have never seen a piece of chocolate that I brought back...

Now you must be thinking that surely there must be something else to do in a place like Barcelona than just stuffing your face. What about culture? Isn't there one museum I've visited in those ten years of going to this wonderful city???

Barcelona chocolate

Indeed there is, and it's the one museum that deserves a second look: the Chocolate Museum. As you would expect, there's all sort of information about the history of chocolate etc, but more importantly, they have sculptures made out of... yeah, you guessed it, chocolate! Of course, they are encased in glass display cabinets, so don't get any ideas.

And after this mandatory cultural portion of your visit, you can relax in the museum shop-café enjoying some of their famous hot chocolate. And it is not just any regular cup of hot chocolate: it's thick and dark and delicious. Very conveniently, the Barcelona Pastry school is adjacent to the museum, so there is always fresh pastry to dip into your hot chocolate, too.

Barcelona eat

So,  this concludes our Sweet Barcelona tour, and I would like to leave you with the top tips straight out of the Bad Tourist secret address book:

1. La Colmena pastry / confectionery shop, Plaça de l'Àngel, 12, 08002 Barcelona  /Pastisseria-La-Colmena facebook
Tradional pastry and confectionery (opposite Jaume I underground station), note: the staff do not speak English

2. Museu de XocolataCarrer Comerç, 36
, 08003 Barcelona

3. Xocoa (several locations)

4. Caelum, Carrer de la Palla 8, 08002 Barcelona
    a fantastic coffee shop / tea room / pastry shop in Barri Gótic.

Sweet Dreams,

Tiina L,
Bad Tourist

Friday, 11 April 2014

The Logistics Of Travelling Light

My husband and I live in different countries. Or, more accurately, we both live in two countries, part-time. This means that we 'commute' between Homebases 1 and 2 (in Finland and in  the U.K., respectively) every week. It is not as complicated as it sounds, and it is not a temporary solution; we have been shuttling between two countries for almost 19 years.  So, I guess we can say that it works for us. Of course, there are some challenges, such as for example:

It's not that I wasn't organised (because I am), or that I didn't have enough shoes (I have more than I wear, even though I'm not into shoes). No, the problem is logistics.

Let me explain: I have a very nice, spacious dressing room in Homebase 2. Unfortunately, most of my clothes are in Homebase 1 (where I work). Also, to simplify my life, in late autumn I often leave seasonal bulky items such as shoes and coats in Homebase 2 (to avoid storing them in Homebase 1). This is also practical, as my autumn / spring coats and shoes pass for 'winter' wear in Homebase 2, thus I don't need to carry them back and forth throughout winter.

The problem arises if spring arrives early in Homebase 1, like it did in March this year (that time last year we were still knee-deep in snow), and all my spring clothes are in the wrong country.

Professor M, who is doing most of the weekend-only-commuting anyway (whereas I tend to spend longer stretches of time in each Homebase and thus 'commute' only once a month or once every two months), can bring me whatever I need, of course, within days. But that means he will need to take a suitcase with him, which means more hassle at the airport, and in general goes against our 'travelling light' philosophy. Not really worth it for a pair of shoes, right?

I can of course go and buy another pair of shoes / a new coat / whatever, but in the long-run that doesn't really make sense, either. I mean, as I already have perfectly good shoes / coats for all sorts of weather, I don't really see the point of getting more stuff just to solve a logistic problem (I am a bit of a minimalist at heart... or maybe it's my life-long obsession of fitting my entire life into one suitcase that makes me reluctant to accumulate things... But that's another story).

I have tried to come up with various solutions to this problem over the years. Let's review some of them:

Problem: Transporting bulky items (shoes, bags, coats) requires a suitcase, which is pointless on weekend trips.
Solution: Bags need to be assigned a permanent Homebase, (done that: I mainly need large work bags in Homebase 1, anyway, so most of my smaller bags can stay in Homebase 2), and have two pairs of the same shoes, one pair in each Homebase.
Outcome: Somehow both  pairs of shoes end up in Homebase 2 during winter...

Problem: Whichever item of clothing I want to wear on any given day is... yeah, you guessed it: in the wrong country.
Solution 1: Have a really basic, minimalistic capsule wardrobe with multi-purpose items and neutral colours, and have multiples of staples such as white T-shirts and well-cut trousers.
Outcome: I hate neutral colours as they wash me out completely, and at some point of the year I always realise that I have half a dozen white T-shirts in one Homebase and none in the other...

Solution 2: Plan more carefully what you want to wear during your stay in Homebase 2, think ahead what type of activities you might engage in, the events you might attend, what the weather is going to be like etc.
Outcome: I'm not going on a holiday, I'm just going to my other home, and I will do whatever I usually do at home, which could be anything. And the weather... the whole thing would probably be a lot easier if there was a bigger difference in climate, but with the exception of winter (Homebase 1: cold, snow, sleet; Homebase 2: not nearly as cold but very rainy), the weather is more or less as unpredictable in both Homebases .

Solution 3: Have two different sets of wardrobes, one in Homebase 1 and the other in Homebase 2, no need to transport anything.
Outcome: To some extent I have already done this: I have underwear, sleepwear, exercise gear, T-shirts etc. in both Homebases. However, I tend to have style crushes: there is always the dress-of-the-moment, not to mention accessories and jewellery... and what if the jacket in Homebase1 just aches to be matched to the dress in Homebase 2 (which usually hangs out with the 'other' jacket, the one that lives in Homebase 2)? And what if I find just the perfect dress in Homebase 1 but want to wear it in Homebase 2? Am I giving you  a headache yet?

So, is there a solution to this oh-so-trivial logistic problem, or am I just making my life more complicated than it needs to be?

It is not perfect, but this is my current strategy for travelling light:
  1. Toss whatever you feel like wearing / whatever is clean into a holdall (for a weekend visit) or a suitcase (for anything longer than a week), and do NOT spend more than 30 minutes packing. 
  2. Just accept that whatever you packed will turn out to be the wrong thing, and whatever you decided to leave out at the last minute is just what you will wish you had packed. Just deal with it, and get on with your life.
Travel Light, 
Tiina L,
Lifestyle Commuter

PS: this post was inspired by Sheila's fabulous dressing room ( Ephemera) 
and Patti's post on minimalism (Not Dead Yet Style


Thursday, 10 April 2014

MAKE A STATEMENT: Blue and Green

I love statement necklaces. I often build an entire outfit around a necklace, and I have to admit that on more than one occasion I have actually changed my clothes, or at least the top, to match the necklace. I've even missed the train and been late for work looking for a top to go with a particular necklace I wanted to wear...

I use accessories to express  my creative, flamboyant side. I like to experiment and try out new trends with my jewellery rather than with my clothes. And why not? Jewellery serves no purpose other than to have fun with.

However, my mantra is, and always has been, 'less is more', so wearing an attention-grabbing necklace means the rest of the outfit must be kept simple and streamlined. I mean, what'st the point of wearing a really fabulous necklace if it gets lost in layers of fabric and pattern? Lucky for me, simple and streamlined tends to work for me as I'm quite short and hourglass-shaped, and loose layers would just swamp me and make me look bulky. A fitted dress, on the other hand, gives me just enough va-va-voom, and a fab necklace adds some style and glamour.

At the moment I'm looking for a green (sea-green or any blueish shade) bead necklace to go with my old summer dresses and T-shirts. I think that blue and green is just the perfect colour combination for summer, suggesting the sea and the sky, so fresh and uplifting. It doesn't hurt that it works with my colouring, too: tones down the pink tones in my skin and brings out the red tones in brown hair.

Blue and Green
blue dress: Damsel in a Dress, print dress: Collection by John Lewis
necklaces from top left: Kluster, Alexis Bittar
middle row: Kenneth Jay Lane, Accessorize
bottom left: Jane Stone /, Kenneth Jay Lane

Don't you just love the Alexis Bittar necklace? 
Unfortunately, it is out of my prize range, but one can always dream...

Elegantly yours, 

Tiina L
Amateur Fashionista


Saturday, 5 April 2014

SIZE MATTERS - Bigger is Better...

...when it comes to sunglasses, that is.


I'm still looking for the One. The one that would protect me and make me feel like I'm the most elegant woman in the world. The one that would go with all my outfits, in all situations... But I'm smart enough to know that no one pair of sunglasses is that perfect. And even if it was, I'm not: I have  a roving eye. Yes, I admit: I'm not the loyal type (when it comes to accessories, that is). I need change, I always fall for something new and different, even trendy at times. Or I just fall out of love with my current favourite and resume my search for the One.

My search started about 5 years ago, when I had my eyes lasered. For the first time ever I was not restricted to a limited range of smallish frames that could hold prescription lenses. It was like a whole new, very stylish world was suddenly within my reach, and I dove right in. After all, I had all those years of ugly prescription sunglasses to make up for. I was hungry for some real style...

My longest-running love affair has been with this pair (Chanel)
Photo by professor M

Yes, I like them big and bold. What's the use of having sunglasses if you still need to squint your eyes? So, the bigger, the better. I may be a diva but I'm a practical one.

Size is not enough, of course; in my book, sunglasses are the ultimate luxury item (and much more affordable than shoes or bags, too). Think about it: what other item makes you look instantly cool, and allows you to hide any signs of late nights to boot? So, I won't go for just any pair of oversized sunnies; there has to be a little something extra, maybe with more than a hint of old- school movie star glamour. But no bling - I won't touch it if there is even a hint of Essex Girl... I'm a self-proclaimed snob, so I'm not ashamed to admit that when it comes to sunglasses I want something that reeks of class and looks expensive... Which is probably why I have managed to accumulate quite a collection of designer sunglasses. We won't be having a family portrait of them here, though, as quite a few of them are currently unavailable (as in, tucked away in Homebase  2 whereas I'm typing this in Homebase 1).

Old Flames: left Prada, right Chanel
However, I do feel a bit uneasy, almost guilty, looking longingly at a new pair while killing time at the airport  (there are at least two shops to avoid at Gatwick South if I intend to stay loyal to my current favourite pair of sunglasses...).  I am trying to talk myself out of it, of course: nobody needs that many sunglasses, not really. And as much fun as it might be to play dress up and match sunglasses to outfits, it's not very practical. Not when you live in two countries, and at least half of your wardrobe is always in the wrong country ( = the one you're not in) at any given time. It just gets too complicated. After all, my goal is to travel light, so having just the one, perfect pair of sunglasses to go with anything would really be ideal.

Yes, perhaps the One is still out there, just waiting for me to find it...

My current favourite (Tom Ford)



from top left: 
Linda Farrow , Tom FordTed Baker,
Oscar de la RentaLinda Farrow Diane von Furstenberg ,
BulgariAlexander McQueenTom Ford

I'm currently having a serious style crush on the Bulgari embellished sunglasses (see above, the first one bottom left), even though I don't usually go for that much bling. But I guess there's a time for everything...

What do you think, does size matter?

Elegantly yours, 
Tiina L
a.k.a. Amateur Fashionista

Linking up to: Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

LOGO DESIGN Using Photoshop Filters

This is an easy way to make a logo, using an old photograph as the source image. All you need is Photoshop Elements 10 and about one hour. I am simplifying the process here a bit, but you get the idea and can adapt it to your purposes. What you do (which filters to use, how many layers etc) really depends on the source image, and there is no one-size-fits-all process, and you need to experiment a bit to get the best results.

This is the finalised logo:

photomanipulation elements 10
SOURCE IMAGE: my mother in 1962

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