Sunday, 29 June 2014

Greetings from Seoul

travel wardrobe over 40

I got back to rainy Britain and Homebase 2 this afternoon, after a week in South Korea. I think I was suffering from a major case of jet-lag for most of the week, waking up at odd hours, feeling sleepy all day... and I suppose I can look forward to more of the same this coming week. Oh well, I'm on holiday, it's not like I have to seem coherent and intelligent and make sense...

This was again one of our 'business + pleasure' trips: Professor M had a meeting and a conference to attend, I was supposed to 'do the touristy thing' (and we all know how bad I am at that: there's a reason why I call myself a Bad Tourist...), and then we had a couple of days to explore Seoul on our own.

dress: Boden / bag: DVF / necklace: Kenneth Jay Lane / shoes: Clarks / sun umbrella: James Smith & Sons / sunglasses: Tom Ford
There was also that hurried work lunch and a campus tour when I was expected to put on my best 'Professor's Wife' act... This sort of thing doesn't happen very often as we're both very determined to keep our private relationship separate from work, but this time it couldn't be avoided. And I'm sure my husband finds it just as stressful as I do. Not least because I'm a bit of a loose cannon in the sense that I suffer no fools gladly and tend to express my opinions in a rather straightforward way (but only when I'm not working; my work persona is the paragon of politeness, endlessly supportive and oh-so-charming... anything I'm not in real life...)
But rest assured, I was on my best behaviour and asked all the right questions and made witty comments to keep the conversation going (which is a tall order for a Finn: we're not exactly known for our conversational skills... So, basically I was 'cheating' and reverted back to my professional role...).

Oh, and notice that I'm a bit tanned in these photos? Yes, I know, you have this irresistible urge to burst out laughing now, but given that my skin is normally the shade of a blank sheet of paper, this is about as 'tanned' as I get...


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Thursday, 26 June 2014

Flashback: Cotton Sundresses

vintage fashion

The sundress was what women used to wear in summer. It was light and unlined, made of cotton, washable and low maintenance (well, it had to be ironed, so maybe it wasn't so low-maintenance after all...). This picture was taken in the late 50s. My mother is wearing a dress she made herself. The other young girl in the picture is her identical twin sister. 

When did we stop wearing these dresses? And why? When was the last time you saw a woman wearing a light and easy cotton sundress?

These photos were taken in the early 1960s, and my mother  is wearing another sundress she made herself.
But there are plenty of pretty summer dresses in shops, aren't there? Sure, but those dresses are an entirely different species altogether: they have polyester lining and need to be dry cleaned.

Dry cleaning a sundress?!!?? That's probably the craziest idea ever.

A sundress is the definition of easy, carefree clothing. A bit like jeans, but prettier, and for warm weather (I don't believe in high-maintenance designer jeans, either). A sundress is something you put on and forget about because you're on holiday and have more important things to do than worry about your clothes, like enjoying the summer sunhine.

retro sundresses
left: early 1980s / right: the early 1990s version is a jumpsuit
Yet, I don't remember the last time I wore a cotton sundress. Probably because they're so hard to find these days, or because I don't have a separate holiday wardrobe: what I wear to work is pretty much what I wear anywhere (no formal wear required in my job...)

But I used to wear sundresses a lot when I was younger. And my sundresses were definitely influenced by what my mother used to wear:

retro sundress

Yep, that's me, copying her... The dress on the right in particular deserves some attention here: I made it myself. That was when I had just finished a 2-year course in dressmaking in preparation for a fabulous career in fashion design (whatever happened to that plan?), I had moved to a small town near Paris and was attending a fashion school.

Oh, you want to talk about the hair... can't really blame you, it's horrible. Long story short: this is what happens when hair dye doesn't turn out as you expected. So, you get a nice pixie haircut to fix it... but you forgot that you have a naturally curly hair that refuses to lie flat and stands to attention never mind what you do... let's just say that it was a very long summer, and since then my hair has never been shorter than shoulder length.

Maybe it's time to give the cotton sundress another chance? 
How would you wear it today?

Wishing you a sunny summer,



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

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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Brighton Graffiti

Some of the most amazing graffiti I've ever seen was in Brighton. Or perhaps 'graffiti' is not the correct term here. We're not talking about tags: these huge murals often cover the whole wall, or the entire building in some cases.

The street art is just amazing: the colours, the details... Sometimes you feel as if you're walking in the middle of a giant comic book, with angry smurfs and crazy scientists, space aliens and robots...

Brighton graffiti
Brighton graffiti
Brighton graffiti
Brighton graffiti
Brighton graffiti

What do you think, are they impressive or not?


Linking up with

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Monday, 23 June 2014

Jetlagged in Seoul

I arrived in Seoul early this morning...

And this is the view from the hotel bathroom window. Yes, bathroom. On the 28th floor. The hotel suite is probably bigger than most flats I've lived in.

And in due course I will write coherent and witty posts about this 7-day trip to Korea, with photos taken on a real camera (instead of the iPad, like the photo above), carefully selected, edited and photoshopped.

But for now, this is my first impression. There won't be much sightseeing today; my goal is to stay somewhat awake most of the day, maybe venture out to check out the nearby shopping centre. Not very adventurous or ambitious but quite understandable as right now I'm so jetlagged that I can just about remember my name...

So, be patient, I will do my best to give you the Bad Tourist's view on Korea in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I have a few intriguing posts scheduled for this week...


Saturday, 21 June 2014

Pink and Gold

Which do you prefer, gold or silver?

I refuse to pick one, I like both, and I match my jewellery to the colours I'm wearing on a particular day. So, if I'm wearing blue or green, it's usually gold-tone jewellery, and silver with pink, fuchsia or purple.
However, today I wanted to try something different, and decided to wear gold-tone jewellery with this hot pink dress.

I've worn this dress only twice: first for my wedding reception (which was held at an airport VIP room on a very cold December day), and then a few days later for Christmas dinner in Madeira. What it needs, though, is a coat: something a bit ornamental, maybe brocade opera coat -style... something very early 60s Mad Men...

dress L.K.Bennett (old) /shoes Clarks (old) / bag DKNY / sunglasses Miu Miu

I like this type of a dress; in fact, I have a wardrobe full of them, in various colours. I just haven't worn any of them for a while. I think it's mainly because I think this type of a dress is perfect for winter: with a little cashmere cardigan on top, and the Spanx it requires is really not something I want to wear on a hot day... And  constant travelling has made me lazy: I seem to favour wash-and-wear jersey dresses that can be tossed into a suitcase and always emerge wrinkle-free...

brooch Nina Ricci via Hirst Antiques /gold bangles my mother's /
antique gold watch my grandmother's / ring custom-made

What do you think, do pink and gold go together?

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


Friday, 20 June 2014

Happy Midsummer

Nuuksio National Park, Espoo, Finland



Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Brighton Rocks

Brighton travel

What do you think of when you think of  Brighton?

  • Language schools and teenagers from all over Europe "learning English" (read: partying like there's no tomorrow...)?
  • The spiritual home of anything over-the-top and unapologetically camp or "alternative"? After all, Brighton is the British version of San Francisco, in many ways (minus the Chinatown)...
  • The endless supply of organic food markets, vegan restaurants, yoga schools, tarot card readers and Reiki healers? 

Yes, Brighton is all of that, and much more. It's bohemian and a bit crazy, but in a good way. A bit like that eccentric aunt or uncle who makes every boring family gathering just a bit more interesting because you never know what they're up to...

I mean, in Brighton it's perfectly normal to see people walking around wearing puffa jackets and flip flops... in January. Or go to your local shop in your pyjamas... Not that I used to do that very often, maybe once or twice...

Yes, Professor M and I used to live in Brighton, on several occasions, on and off, until a year ago. And I admit, there are things I miss about Brighton:



The Brighton Pier rides, the seafront shops and restaurants...  I don't sunbathe, so I don't care about the beach, really. Just so you know: it's not sand but pebble. And make sure you choose the beach on the right side of the Pier (the other side is a naturist beach...)


The bustling North Laine area is full of quirky shops selling fashion, vintage furniture, jewellery and  books. There are also restaurants, pubs, delis, bakeries and food shops. One of my all-time favourite bookshops, PS Brighton (34 Kensington Gardens) is also here. This little shop is a treasure trove of affordable books on illustration, fashion, photography, architecture, cooking...

PS Brighton bookshop, North Laine


You could eat in a different restaurant every day of the month and there would still be plenty of places to try... And even though we lived in Brighton for over 15 years, on and off, there are plenty of (very good and highly recommended) restaurants I've never tried. But that's only because I'm very loyal to my old favourites...

Food For Friends: a vegetarian restaurant even meat-eaters will love.
Sabai Thai Gastrobar: the Som Tum (papaya salad) is a must: not too spicy but just perfect. There are also lots of vegetarian and vegan options available (well, that actually goes for most restaurants in Brighton...)

If you are new in town and looking for an area with lots of restaurants, go to Preston Street, it has something for everyone.


Brighton Lanes is full of independent little shops, and it is a must-see destination for anyone interested in antique jewellery.


Well, that's just an average day in Brighton... How about these:

Choccywoccydoodah: Chocolate. The reality TV show.  Enough said. Just go see it.

If you cannot see the video, click here

The Zombie Walk:

                                            If you cannot see the video, click here

Yes, I do miss Brighton...


Linking up with

Travel Tuesday


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Almost there...


It's been a busy couple of weeks... But I guess it's normal to be a bit tired this time of the year: I'm about to start the last week of work before a long summer break. There are a lot of loose ends to tie, reports to write, papers to mark etc. before I can pack my suitcase and jet off to Homebase 2 later this week... And then to Korea... And then back to Homebase 2... and a few days in Homebase 1, then Homebase 2 again for a while, and then...

Now that I think about it, it looks as if I'm going to be just as busy on holiday as when I'm working, running from one place to another... Maybe I should have my head examined...

Kimono: Mango (old) / Necklace: Snö of Sweden (old) /
Black Resin Bangle: Jessica Kagan Cushman / Sunglasses: Prada (old)
Anyway, Professor M and I managed to find time for our customary Saturday dinner at a nice restaurant, and a quick photo shoot on a windy street.

I've had this silk kimono (or whatever it is) for years, and I typically only wear it when I have one of my "I have nothing to wear" moments, or when everything I would like to wear is in the laundry... I can't quite decide if I like it or not, but looking at the pictures it doesn't look too bad. Maybe I can wear it to work this week...

BTW, if you're wondering why you never see me in work clothes, there's a simple explanation: when I started this blog I made a decision that I would not blog about anything work-related, as the blog is supposed to be an outlet for more creative pursuits. And then there's the fact that my photographer (a.k.a husband / Professor M) is only around at weekends...
The text on the bangle is: "Truly fabulous people never get dressed before lunchtime." (you can find it here). As busy as I am, I still somehow manage to live by that...

Are you looking forward to some time off from work?


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Friday, 13 June 2014

I don't do polyester...

What's the first thing you look at when you spot a pretty dress in a shop? 

The price tag? Size?

I look for the washing instructions and the material composition. This is the type of information I need to have before deciding if the dress is worth my time. And if I see the words "dry clean only" or "polyester", there's no way I would even bother taking the dress into the fitting room.

I know I have confused quite a few well-meaning shop assistants by picking up a garment and immediately turning it inside out in my search for this vital piece of information. And I make no effort to hide my contempt if the shop assistant then advises me that "silk is so nice for summer" when the label says polyamide... In my opinion, a person working in  a fashion shop should know the difference between silk and polyester, or viscose and cupro... And fashion designers should have more respect for the consumer and stop forcing synthetic fibres on us.

polyester dresses
Beautiful dresses, but I won't be buying any of them.
from right: Phase Eight, Esprit, MICHAEL Michael KorsVivienne Westwood Anglomania
I know I'm not exactly the average consumer: I have some training in both dress making and fashion design. Which means that I know my fabrics and materials, and I won't settle for cheap tat, even if it comes with a designer label attached. However, this makes clothes shopping hell... ignorance really is bliss: if you have no knowledge of the differences between materials, you buy clothes because you like the style or the colour, and then think it's normal that your clothes makes you sweaty and uncomfortable.

There are so many beautiful dresses made out of materials I won't touch... it is getting increasingly difficult to find something that is both wearable and washable (because anything made of silk is invariably dry clean only...).

Is there a wearable and washable alternative to polyester (or polyamide), then?

I would go for viscose. Although a man-made fibre (it is made from cellulose, i.e. the same stuff as paper), it is organic. This means that in many ways it is like cotton, e.g. breathable. It also drapes well, which makes it ideal for jersey dresses. Better yet if you can find a garment made of viscose-polyester blend. Yes, a small amount of polyester is fine: it makes the garment more durable and wrinkle resistant. I would say that 2-5 percent of polyester (or elastane for stretch) is fine. Better yet if you can find a silk-polyester / elastane blend (95-98% silk), as long as it's washable... And if you do find this rare gem, please let me know.

Let's go for class, not brass,


Linking up with Passion for Fashion at Rachel the Hat

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Portobello Road Market

Notting Hill

One of my favourite places in London is Notting Hill, especially Portobello Road. I like the little antique shops amid the more touristy novelty shops. And this is a place where you can still find all sorts of odd things you never knew you needed... Of course, old signs may add something to your home decor, especially if you're into that quirky British style. Door knobs, on the other hand, might be more practical. Chloe Alberry sells the most amazing door handles and cabinet fittings. Whenever I pass the shop I always wish I had some sort of an old chest of drawers to make over... But I'm not a crafty person, and I think it's important to know my limitations. 

portobello road
Portobello Road market

The Portobello Antiques Market on Saturdays is a treasure trove for anyone interested in old posters, books, porcelain, glassware, silver, or jewellery, or perhaps just interesting items or bric-a-brac. 

Portobello Road market
flea market

Trading starts quite early, around 9 am the latest, and the early bird catches the best bargains... However, prices tend go down a bit as traders prepare to leave late in the afternoon. Even if you're not planning to buy anything, it is easy to spend hours just browsing the various market stalls. But I doubt you leave empty handed... I certainly never seem to manage that.


Linking up with

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Saturday, 7 June 2014

Summer and Sunshine...

Marimekko scarf

I'm back in Homebase 1 after 10 days in Britain. The flight was delayed by 3 hours, so we got back home quite late. Or rather early, at 3 am, just on time to watch the sun rise...

This is why I'm a bit tired today, and rather than bore you with an incoherent story I think I just let the pictures do the talking this time.

Marimekko scarf
Marimekko Satsuma Scarf

I am wearing: Marks and Spencer linen blend cropped trousers , Jigsaw T-shirt , Clarks Sandals (old), Marimekko  Satsuma scarf, Prada sunglasses (old).
All photos by (the equally tired) Professor M.

I am happy to link up with the always fabulous Sacramento at MIS PAPELICOS. Go check out all the fabulous bloggers dressed to the nines... or in something inspired by fruit.

Also linking up with Stylish Tuesday at Life's a Party, Dress Like It.


Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Style Lessons: Details

leopard print

This picture of my mother was taken in 1964, the day after her wedding to my father. This dress is the only leopard print piece she ever wore. I think it looks fantastic.

As far as prints were concerned, she was more likely to go for simple Breton stripes, or small flowers. Leopard print was something she considered 'tacky', or 'cheap'. And yet, here it is: the proof that she once wore it, too.

I must admit that for the most part I share her opinion on leopard print, at least as far as my own outfits are concerned. However, I think it can be quite elegant on the right person with the right attitude, like her in this picture.

60's fashion

What is it, then, that makes these leopard print accents classy and elegant? I think it must be because the rest of the outfit is pared-down, almost severe, and accessories are kept to the  minimum. This minimalist approach lets the leopard print be the centre of attention; it doesn't have to compete with anything else.

60s fashion

I think this is the key to accessorising, especially with something eye-catching: let the accent / accessory steal the show, and the rest of the outfit is just the simple, plain background to show it off to maximum effect.

retro sunglasses

Any item of clothing or accessory with a 'diva attitude' - animal prints, cat's eye sunglasses, statement necklaces - looks best when paired with something plain, simple, modest. Something that lets's the diva take centre stage.

My mother knew this instinctively. And although I would never describe her as a diva (she was far too shy and modest for that; I've always been the one to claim the limelight...), she sure knew how to stand out in the crowd...



For more posts in this series, go to Style Icon

DEDICATION: in loving memory of Ritva L (1 Jan 1942 - 25 Dec 1996)


Monday, 2 June 2014

Celebrating in London

top: Jigsaw / trousers: Marks and Spencer / shoes: Clarks
The best part about being a freelancer is that I can set my own schedule. For example, I've never had to work on my birthday, and this is the case this year, too.

Unfortunately, Professor M will have to work on my actual birthday (which is later this week), so he took me on a weekend trip to London to celebrate, a few days in advance.

We checked into Paddington Hilton for a relaxing weekend of shopping, dining and sunbathing on the terrace...

OK, fine, my "sunbathing" took about as along as it took to take a few photos... I'm Nordic, I'm pale, I burn in the sun, give me a break...

This is the view from "our terrace"
Oh yes, the shopping... There was the Banana Republic Marimekko Collection I wanted to check out... Of course, I have numerous Marimekko items (towels, bathrobes, place mats, bags...), but I've never been a fan of their clothing line (just not my style). I did not expect the Banana Republic version to be any closer to my personal taste; I was just curious to see their interpretation of this Finnish Icon.

Hmm... Very different from the original, but is it better? Maybe more suited to a younger customer (the hot pants etc... well, it is also significantly more affordable than Marimekko).

Of course, even without buying anything at Banana Republic, there was plenty of shopping for me to do... Fortunately, I'm blessed with the most patient husband who is happy to read his book over coffee while I try on the umpteenth pair of trousers and curse my big bum...
See the fabulous necklace I'm wearing? I got it at Forever 21. What a horrible place: ten times messier than H & M, and full of frenzied bargain hunters... But lots of affordable bling.

Then there was the fantasy shopping, of course:

No trip would be complete without a walk in Notting Hill, and a visit to Hirst Antiques (more about that in an upcoming post in a few weeks...) where Professor M surprised me with this gorgeous Trifari brooch that I have been eyeing for ages.... The man has a talent for finding the perfect birthday present. Well, he's also had a lot of practice...

Before heading back to Homebase 2 we had a quick stopover at Hilton Metropole so that Professor M could have his favourite drink, Earl Grey Martini (yes, really... It's the Hilton Metropole signature drink, quite good).

All in all, a very nice weekend. Now I'm all shopped out and happy to enjoy a week off from work.

Sunshine and kisses, 


                                    Linking up to Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style
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