Monday, 29 September 2014

Autumn Classics

Burberry Trench

My year doesn't start on 1 January but in autumn, in September. 
No, I wasn't born in autumn (I was born in early summer), it's just how I categorise time: autumn always marks the beginning of a new cycle after a period of rest. Everything is new: new projects, new people, new schedule... It's time to get back to work, and I'm full of energy and very busy: working long hours, socialising with friends, making plans.

Burberry Trench
trench and bag: Burberry (old) / shoes: Gabor / trousers: Marks and Spencer
And it's so easy to look elegant in autumn... the weather is perfect: not too hot (as in summer) or cold (as in winter). With no heat wave or snow storm cramping my style I feel more comfortable, put-together and sophisticated. Even when I'm wearing my old trench coat. Yes, this coat must be at least 5 or 6 years old, and I still love it.

Burberry Trench
scarf: Henri Bendel / ring: Lapponia
I had wanted to have a classic Burberry coat for a long time, even though I hate beige... well, I might wear beige trousers, but something beige next to my face... I don't think so. So, when I found this trench it was as if I'd just hit the jackpot. It's the perfect coat to rival autumn colours...

Burberry Trench
sunglasses: Prada (old)
If it was up to me, it could be autumn all the time, I wouldn't mind skipping winter altogether... And I feel so lucky that I can sort of make autumn last a bit longer: when it starts getting colder in Finland it's still autumn in Britain, and as I have Mondays off from work I can commute between the Homebases a bit more often again...

What's your favourite autumn outfit?


PS: for more personal style posts, go to Style Files

                   Linking up with SacramentoRosy and Peggy Sue  for Share-in-Style

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Camden Market

Camden Market

The first impression of Camden Market is that it is huge. And it is actually several markets side by side, so that it looks as if the market stretches out forever. You see the first market stalls getting out Camden Town Tube station, and pass several distinct market areas on your way to Camden Lock.

Compared to Portobello Road Market, Camden markets are touristy, selling mostly cheap souvenirs and t-shirts, or clothing and jewellery appealing to customers interested in alternative or fetish styles rather than mainstream fashion. That is not to say that you couldn't find any bargains there: you just have to look a lot harder to find unique items or hidden treasures.


What  do you find there, then?

Art, prints, paintings... 
some of them are unique, a lot are reprints, with no regard to copyright...

Camden Market

And, if you're looking for a t-shirt packed with attitude, Camden Market is the place to go...

Camden Market

Unique fashion:

Some young designers and artisans also have stalls there, so it is not uncommon to find very cute dresses right next to a shop selling goth inspired clothes or kinky boots... 

Camden Market

There are lots of talented artisans and artists selling their unique designs, so it is worth taking some time to go through some of the stalls and small galleries in the Camden Lock Market.

Camden Market

I just loved these upcycled old suitcases and trunks with pictures from old magazines:

Camden Market
Camden Market

There are lots of vintage shops:

Camden Market
Camden Market

But I'm not sure what to make of this display of scarves... I assume they are scarves, sarongs or something...
Camden market

The main attraction of Camden Market is not what you can buy there, though, but the gritty atmosphere that is absolutely unique to Camden Town.


Linking up with BonnieCamilaAmy and Jessi for

Travel Tuesday

PS: for more travel posts, go to Bad Tourist, and for posts on London, go to London Calling

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Thinking about winter coats...

I have been looking for a winter coat... 
In fact, I have been looking for one for years... It's not as if I didn't have a coat, I have several. But since it's been 3 years since I last bought a winter coat, I'm a bit tired of the coats I have (and most of them are much older than 3 years...), and some of them are starting to show some wear and tear...

So what do I look for in a winter coat?
I share my time between two countries: Finland and the U.K. The climate in the U.K is quite similar to Finland most of the year, except in winter. So, it is obvious that I need more than one winter coat. in fact, I think I need no less than 4:

the right coat for the temperature
1: Brora Tweed Coat / Creenstone Parka 2: Max Mara Weekend Parka 3: Joutsen down coat
Winter in the U.K is mild, so not very cold 
(my British readers may feel like protesting now, but please hear me out: my definition of cold is based on personal experience of a climate much, much colder...) However, it rains a lot. So, a rain-proof coat with a hood is a must (and this type of coat  is the current number one on my wish list). But I'm not too fond of parkas, and would prefer something a bit less sporty and more chic. A tall order...

On a sunny day a wool coat is the perfect choice. Which is great as I love lightweight wool coats, and wouldn't mind getting a new one. It should be long enough to wear over dresses but not too bulky. And it should travel well, i.e. it should emerge from the airplane overhead locker looking pristine.

And then there's Finland, where I spend most of my time. 
The above-mentioned coats would be perfect, but only for late autumn or early spring. Winter is a different matter altogether. Let me give you an example of a typical work day: there I am, standing on the platform waiting for the train / at the bus stop cursing at the bus that I just missed, it's snowing, it's freezing cold and I just want to get home. Or move to Australia (if it's February and I'm fed up with the cold weather and the snow and just feel like burning all my winter clothes...). Or it's zero degrees celsius, sleet everywhere and I just slipped on ice...
A lightweight, water-proof down coat is the only sensible choice for 0°C / 32°F. And if it doesn't have a hood, forget it. You need something to cover your head when you have something wet that barely resembles snow raining on you from all directions...
And then there's the mid-winter freeze... a few days or weeks, maybe a month, when it gets really, really cold: from -10°C / 14°F to -20°C / -4°F. Some of my readers live in warm countries and may find it difficult to imagine how cold that is. Let me put it this way: the temperature inside your fridge is only about +6°C / 42.8°F... and yes, we do go out, the trains are on time, and everyone is expected to get to work on time... So, I need a heavy-duty (but lightweight), super warm down coat, with  a hood.

So, now I just have to decide which type of coat to get 
as I can't afford to replace all 4 types of coats at the same time. As I said, I was hoping to find something for the rainy British weather, but so far I haven't seen anything I like. And I'm a bit tired of my old cold-weather down coat, too, as it must be at least 7 years old... but then again, if you wear something every single day for weeks on end, you're bound to want to burn it by April, anyway...
And I have to confess: I have been ogling wool coats... I know, I probably won't get much use out of it, except on my weekend visits to Homebase 2, if it turns out to be a nice, mild winter in Britain, that is...
So, I haven't quite decided yet which type of a coat to get, but I'll keep you posted...

Any suggestions?


Linking up with  Rachel and Lena B for Passion for Fashion


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Autumn Favourites Revisited

how to wear a poncho over 40

Autumn weekend basics:

Straight-cut trousers in a neutral colour, a simple long-sleeved top, a wool wrap. A bit of a déjà vu, huh? Yes, I have a habit of repeating myself, but only when it comes to outfits. And I don't think it's boring at all, quite the contrary. Having a 'uniform' or a formula for dressing makes life simpler and saves time: I know what flatters my body type, all I have to do is stick with the plan and I will always look stylish and elegant... 

how to wear Breton stripes over 40
trousers: Marks and Spencer / Breton top: Banana Republic / poncho: Marja Kurki /bag: Longchamp / shoes: Clarks
Seriously, fashion may change drastically from season to season, but I'm not going to suddenly grow taller, and my proportions are not going to change to accommodate every passing trend. Yes, in my fantasies I may be a tall amazon with perfect hair, but deep down I'm a realist: whether I like it or not, I'm short and curvy, and whatever I wear will need to work with that.  


And if you think I'm beginning to repeat myself when it comes to locations for my photo shoots, too, you might be right. Professor M and I have been checking out some summer restaurants (= only open between May and late September) before they close for the winter. 


There are quite a few of these restaurants on some of the small islands just a very short boat trip away from the 'mainland'... What, aren't there any bridges? Well, most of these islands are really small, and there is often nothing else but the restaurant and a marina there...


The summer restaurants will all close by the end of September, and the islands will be inaccessible again. Autumn always brings a certain sense of urgency: you have to make the most of the sunshine and the scenery while you can. After all, in a month or so the weather will turn nasty, the sea will get stormy, and people will get morose and uncommunicative in anticipation of the grim, grey November...

how to wear Breton stripes

But now the sun is still shining, the sky is blue, the sea is calm, all's well in the world...
Autumn is my favourite season, and I want it to last just a bit longer...

Do you have a 'formula for dressing'?


PS: for more PERSONAL STYLE posts, go to Style Files

Linking up with Patti for  Visible Monday

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Style vs Fashion

60s fashion

Does fashion help you refine your personal style? Or does it get in the way?

As someone who frequently feels let down by fashion designers and clothing manufacturers, I'm inclined to think that when it comes to creative expression, personal style (as seen in style blogs for instance) is far more interesting than Fashion Week. For starters, personal style is always a mix of compromise and ingenuity: very few of us have perfect bodies (whatever that means) or limitless funds; we may have other projects requiring our time and energy; and whatever we choose to wear must pass the ultimate test of real life.

In fact, I'm tempted to say that many fashion designers are a bit clueless about what is required of the elements that should be the building blocks of personal style. Why? Judging by what they send down the catwalk, they have no idea what a real woman actually looks like and needs in her daily life... And should a real woman try on one of their designs, she would probably burst out in uncontrollable laughter (if she is blessed with some sense of humour) or cry her eyes out...

Of course, fashion is not the same thing as style, and following trends too closely can actually be detrimental to developing your personal sense of style. If you start thinking that you - your lifestyle, personality and your body - have to fit the style of the outfit and not the other way around, you're in deep shit. Cue all sorts of haphazard outfits that make you look more like Edina from Absolutely Fabulous than the vision of elegance you had in your mind...

So, when it comes to balancing fashion and style, 

I rely on my late mother's unerring instincts on the matter and trust that the lessons I learned observing her will help me refine my own unique sense of aesthetics and style.

You see, my mother was not a particularly fashionable woman, but she was always a very stylish one. She didn't really read fashion magazines, yet she was quick to point out anything that looked outdated. And in her book, looking out-of-date was just as bad as looking age-inappropriate. So, she spent a lot of time tweaking and polishing her outfits to get the balance just right, and she always nailed it. To this day, the first thing anyone who ever met her says about her is "she was always so elegant"...

The pictures you see here (the late 60's and the late 70's) show my mother both at her most fashion-forward and at her most classic. And looking at these examples, it is evident that she adapted the trends of the moment to suit her personal style. Always more ladylike than hippie, she would never go for the counterculture poster girl look, but she had some fun with the late 60's styles, certainly enough to give Megan Draper a run for her money...

vintage fashion

I think the key to her impeccable elegance was that she knew the difference between fashion and style. A little nod to trends was enough to make her look up-to-date; no need to go on trend overload. And yes, she would roll her eyes at some of my wildest fashion victim moments (a 1980s pink faux fur coat and a lime green chiffon top come to mind... and no, there are no pictures...) She didn't need to experiment with looks she knew would not work for her, as the essence of her style was always understated, classic and chic.

vintage fashion

Even more importantly, she knew that she didn't need a whole new wardrobe every year to be the best-dressed woman in the room: her old summer dress would do just fine, especially if she paired it with an even older straw hat she had at the back of the closet. Add an understated handbag and some wedge heels, and she would look like one of the Charlie's Angels, without spending a penny.

She made it work because she knew what suited her personality and her body type, and stuck with that. Instead of chasing the latest trends, she cherry-picked a few elements that she could adapt to update her personal style.

And that is the skill that I hope to master one day: to reinvent my existing pieces, to trust that simplicity works better for me than contrived and gimmicky, and to say no to trends that won't make me the most elegant woman in the room.

Where do you stand on the style vs fashion debate?



PS: for more posts on my mother's style, go to Style Icon

Linking up with  Rachel and Lena B for Passion for Fashion

Monday, 15 September 2014

Transitional Dressing: Trousers and Wraps

transitional dressing over 40

Summer is over, but it's not quite autumn yet... 

The sun is shining but there is a chill in the air, especially in the morning and in the evening. It's too cold for bare legs, but not cold enough for tights and dresses...

Fortunately, I have a fool-proof, easy-peasy formula for transitional dressing: light-weight trousers, a t-shirt / sweater with 3/4 length or long sleeves and a wool wrap. 
transitional dressing 40+
trousers: Marks and Spencer 7 poncho: Marja Kurki / tote: Coach /shoes: Clarks

It can be a bit challenging to find trousers that fit, though... 

Fashion designers seem to think their average customer looks something like a rake-thin supermodel, so most trousers are just way too long for me (about half a metre...) and there's no hope in hell I could squeeze my, err, somewhat sizable behind into them...

The problem is not so much that I have hips, but that my waist is significantly smaller (about 30 cm) than my hips. So, even if I manage to find trousers that can accommodate my hips, then the waist needs to be taken in, which means that I'd have to have the whole garment taken apart, totally restructured and put together again by a tailor... way too complicated for my liking.

But, lucky for me, Marks & Spencer understand that women have curves, and that some of us do not have long, lean legs. So, their trousers come in three lengths, and I seem to be just the match for the 'regular'...

top: Vivienne Westwood Anglomania / poncho: Marja Kurki / sunglasses: Tom Ford / ear rings: Thomas Sabo

I like my trousers simple, plain and neutral. 

No wild patterns or colours, no 'boyfriend' anything, or other so-called 'interesting' cuts... a narrow (but never skinny) straight cut, wide leg or boot leg, and nothing else. I prefer to draw as little attention to the widest part of my body as possible. In other words, I need trousers that are the perfect neutral backdrop for more colourful or striking pieces.

over 40 blogger

This poncho adds just enough drama to a simple outfit. 

I like this wrap so much that I have it in 3 colours: off-white, and two shades of red. A bit extravagant, I know. I have this bad habit of buying multiples of my favourite clothes. I considered showing you also the red wrap(s), but maybe I leave that for another post...

What's your transitional dressing strategy?


Linking up with SacramentoRosy and Peggy Sue  for Share-in-Style

Friday, 12 September 2014

Camden Shopfronts


Camden is one of my favourite places in London. It's not a place I would like to live in, I don't go shopping there, and I only visit it maybe once a year these days. I used to go there more often when I lived nearby, a few years ago, usually for dinner in one of the many restaurants.


So, why do I call it one of my favourite places, then?

I think Camden epitomises the spirit of London: the heady mix of old and new, refined and eccentric... well maybe more eccentric than refined in this particular case. Camden is in-your-face, unapologetic and gritty; yet no other area in London captures that unique tolerance that welcomes everyone - whoever they are - quite as well.


And then there are the absolutely wacky 3D shop facades on Camden High Street, of course... Yes, Punk is very much alive and well, at least in Camden Town...

I hope you enjoyed our brief 'walk'


Linking up with BonnieCamilaAmy and Jessi for

Travel Tuesday

Thursday, 11 September 2014


"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
Edmund Burke

late September, 2001
"In any society, fanatics who hate don't hate only me - they hate you, too. 
They hate everybody."
Elie Wiesel

"But there's one thing we must all be clear about: terrorism is not the pursuit of legitimate goals by some sort of illegitimate means. Whatever the murderers may be trying to achieve, creating a better world certainly isn't one of their goals. Instead they are out to murder innocent people."
Salman Rushdie

"Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred."
Jacques Barzun

13 years on, and it's a very scary world we live in. This is what I think:

when language is twisted in the name of political correctness, it is a form of psychological warfare that we willingly use against ourselves. Thus, if we use terminology coined by terrorists to brand themselves, we unwittingly lend them legitimacy. We should never underestimate the number of people who are not very media-literate and tend to see the world in rather black and white terms and take words at face value.

extremism is not a problem for just any one country: it is as much a European problem that requires all EU countries to agree to a plan to fight it as it is an American problem that can only be solved working together with the EU, Australia, Russia, and the the Middle Eastern countries...; and it is a global problem that requires all nations to abide by the same rules and respect each other as equal partners.

social media sites should stop being such hypocrites and introduce as strict rules concerning hate speech and content that depicts or incites violence as they have for content depicting nudity and whatever they consider obscene

it is time for the 'good men', (and women) in communities targeted by terrorist recruiters to step up and say 'enough'. It is them, after all, who are losing their young people, their future, to violence...


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Old Favourites

I love a statement necklace,  and often plan an entire outfit around it... 
I've worn this blue and green necklace quite often recently, and I'm trying to come up with new outfits to wear it with.

Most of the time, I'm quite happy wearing basics: trousers and a t-shirt are the easy option for a long day, and you can get dressed fast. Somehow I always seem to be in a hurry leaving for work, and must get dressed in 5 minutes... even on days when I only work in the afternoons!

I know, should get started earlier... I spend about half an hour doing my make up (= a little bit of powder, blush and lots of lipstick) and my hair. OK, lets's revise that: 5 minutes for make-up and the rest of the time is for blowdrying my hair into submission... So, given all that time and effort, why is it that I always have the same messy 'do' in all the pictures? You should see my hair when I wake up... Let's just say that having curly hair is a curse...

This silk coat is one of my late summer / early autumn work wear favourites: lightweight, dressy, eye-catching and fun... I bought it in San Francisco 3 years ago, in a shop called Asian Trends in Chinatown. I usually avoid tourist traps and souvenir shops, but this little shop had the most amazing silk clothing and accessories. And it looks so great with the necklace, don't you think?

Do you have work wear favourites? 


                                               Linking up with Patti for Visible Monday

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Casual Friday

weekend style over 40

What should I wear to a Friday night after work dinner... 

I'm a very pragmatic person and a big fan of dressing for both the weather and the occasion. So, a day with intermittent sunshine and heavy showers calls for sunglasses and a light-weight, rainproof coat or a jacket. And if I'm supposed to get on a boat, I need appropriate shoes.

casual style
Harakan laituri

restaurant in an 18th century fort located on a small island sounds like a rather casual affair, and as the island also has a yacht club and a marina, I'm hoping this outfit will help me blend in...

how to wear a parka over 40

OK, it was just a five-minute boat trip...

40+ blogger
casual parka over 40

Outfit details:
parka: Ril's / Breton top: Banana Republic / trousers: marks and Spencer /
shoes: Nike / silver necklace :Shaun Leane / sunglasses: Chanel /
bag: Gloria Ortiz / scarf: Fraas

And I just had to photograph  the dramatic view of the neighbour island at sunset...


Where do you stand on casual wear and dressing for the weather? 



Monday, 1 September 2014

Blue and White

how to accessorise blue and white

Blue and white, a classic combination... 

It's so classic it's almost a cliché, at least in Finland... For any Finn, this is the ultimate colour combo, year round: from casual summer outfits to ballgowns, the blue and white combo is a safe bet that always gets top billing...

Blue and white are of course the colours of the national flag. Thus, anyone wearing this particular colour combo must be, by definition, an upstanding citizen wearing their national pride on their sleeve - as any smart politician knows all too well.
And a Finnish woman wearing blue and white is...

40+ blogger

... a walking, talking cliché...

Don't get me wrong: I love blue and white together. In fact, it's one of my favourite colour combinations, and I think it works really well with my natural colouring.

classic autumn style over 40

And I have such an array of clothes in blue that I had some trouble choosing what to wear for SacramentoRosy and Elena's sailor-themed share-in-style link-up... But I decided against blue and white stripes. Not because I wouldn't like them; I love them, so much that I've had to stop buying blue and white stripy T-shirts for a while... But now I wanted to try something different.

blue and white

 However, this turned out to be sort of an improvised outfit, put together in a hurry. You see, I had asked my husband (and photographer), Professor M, to bring me a certain pair of sunglasses and a raincoat from Homebase 2. He did bring me a pair of sunglasses, and a coat, just not the ones I had asked for... Oh, life can get so complicated when you have wardrobes in two countries!

This photo was taken on my 8th birthday.

And then it was raining all day when we wanted to do our little photoshoot... Fortunately, the sun came out, finally, so we managed to catch the evening light just before sunset...

Actually, I think I quite like this outfit, it may even become a favourite for work...

What do you think?


Linking up with SacramentoRosy and Elena  for Share-in-Style
and with Paige for Stylish Tuesday

Blogger Template Created by pipdig