Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Lazy Dresser...

40+ style

We all have those days...

You know what I mean: when we we feel uninspired, overwhelmed, exhausted. Maybe it's work getting a bit too hectic, or we just need to take a break from the never-ending thinking, planning and organising that every-day life demands. And on those days dressing up just seems like another chore, and we just can't be bothered.

Enter the safe bet: 

the outfit you can pull out of the closet and put on without thinking about it, and trust that you look presentable enough to hide the fact you'd rather be slouching on the sofa watching telly...

jersey dress
dress: L.K. Bennett (old) / cardigan: Brora (old) / sunglasses: Prada (old) / shoes: Clarks
Well, this is my safe bet: a cashmere cardigan and an old jersey dress (yes, I have a lot of those: I hate ironing and they travel well). I've worn this outfit to work on many occasions, usually when I need all my energy just to get out of bed because of an early morning start. When these pictures were taken I was on my way to a casual lunch, feeling a bit under the weather, uninspired and running my endless to-do list in my head. Well, as I said, we all have those days...

What's your dressing up strategy for days when you feel uninspired?


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, Passion4Fashion, Friday's Fab Favorites, Fun Fashion Friday

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Pattern Mixing for Beginners

40+ winter style

I'm trying something new here...

I usually prefer my outfits quite simple: clean lines, 2-3 colours max, mainly solids, occasionally stripes, and if I'm being really flamboyant, maybe even prints.
So, pattern mixing is quite daring... applause, please...

winter pattern mixing

Well, wearing Breton stripes is practically the same as wearing neutrals, isn't it? And I sometimes wear leopard print and stripes together, sort of... (HERE and HERE) if we count tortoise shell sunglasses as leopard print, that is. So, why not try mixing stripes with another type of print?

I've had these boots forever; I have no idea where I got them, or when...
However, to keep the outfit from getting too loud, I thought it best to keep the clashing prints within the same colour scheme: match navy and white stripes to a blue and black skirt, add a black  coat and accessories. And then top it all off with a big, colourful scarf to take the attention away from my little pattern mixing experiment...

40+ winter style
 bag: Chanel / scarf: Fraas / sunglasses: Tiffany & Co / gloves: Fancy Fanny
This should keep the overall look harmonious and streamlined enough to fit within my personal style parameters...

What about you, do you like pattern mixing? Or do you prefer solids, like me?


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...


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Madeira: Eira do Serrado

Eira do Serrado

On top of the world...

I love the sea, my husband likes the mountains (something about his childhood holidays in the Alps...), and Madeira has both.
Bus number 81 takes you from Funchal to Eira do Serrado, a mountaintop viewpoint overlooking Nuns' Valley.

Eira do Serrado

The hotel, Estalagem Eira do Serrado, has 25 rooms (all with balconies overlooking the valley), and it is the only thing up there. So, unless you're a serious hiker, this may not be the best place for a holiday. Don't get me wrong, the hotel is very nice, with excellent facilities (spa, gym, the works), but there really isn't much else to do but go hiking. A day-trip might be a better option, especially if you're a city girl like me...

That being said, the hotel restaurant is definitely worth the visit. However, you might want to get any hiking you plan to do out of the way before lunch, as you won't be able to do much after lunch. The portions are quite generous: the chestnut soup appetizer is a meal in itself. Which brings me to my tip of the day: fish / meat with chestnuts, the local speciality, is the reason to come here. Just remember to order either an appetizer or a main course, not both...

Madeira mountains

The view is of course the main reason to come here:

Eira do Serrado

There is a footpath leading from the hotel down to Curral das Freiras (Nuns' Valley). It takes about an hour, even for an inexperienced hiker. I know this because I did that hike once, years ago. The walk itself seemed easy enough, but for days afterwards I had aching muscles I didn't even know existed...

Eira do Serrado

And what's so special about the valley, then? In a word: chestnuts. Forget roasted chestnuts; we're talking about chestnut cake, chestnut liqueur, they even have a chestnut festival...

Eira do Serrado

I hope you enjoyed the view as much as I did.


Linking up with Travel Tuesday

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Don't leave home without it

how to wear a scarf

I love scarves...

I wear a scarf almost every day, except in summer if it's really hot. And if I'm not wearing one, I have one in my bag, just in case. After all, no outfit is complete without a scarf with an interesting print or eye-catching colour. Wearing a scarf is such an easy way to add colour and texture to an otherwise very simple outfit. But that's not the reason why I wear one.

A scarf is simply a necessity in colder climates: an additional layer to protect your neck from the cold weather and help you avoid catching a cold. But that doesn't mean it couldn't be pretty.

original post: Autumn Classics
Small silk scarves can be very practical in summer or in early autumn. For starters, silk is the perfect material: it's cool against your skin when the weather is hot and keeps you warm when the weather gets cooler. And then there are all those lovely prints to choose from...
But silk scarves have one huge problem: they must be dry-cleaned. And this is the reason I stopped collecting them: I refuse to dry-clean items that are worn every day, it just makes no sense.

original post: Accessories Make the Outfit
And most of the time I prefer my scarves big, anyway. And by 'big' I mean huge: more pashminas than scarves, actually: 

original post: Summer and Sunshine
A light-weight wool/ silk blend or cashmere pashmina can be worn year round: in summer over a dress when it gets a bit cooler in the evening, and in winter around your neck to keep warm. You can also wear it as an extra layer to wrap around you if it gets drafty. Which is why it's the one item I never travel without: it's like having my own (light-weight) travel blanket.

original post: Casual Friday,
the same scarf also featured in: The Blue Dress, The Amazing Travelling Tartan Coat, Moto-Jacket x 3
And when it comes to materials, I'm partial to cashmere for three reasons. First, it's very warm (and this really matters in winter). Second, it's gentle on sensitive skin whereas wool can be a bit itchy. And third, cashmere is low-maintenance: it can be handwashed and it dries fast. 

original posts: Is It Winter Yet?, I Can Do Pastels!
The same scarf also featured in: Grim, Dark November
If you're worried about the cost, think of the cost-per-wear. Which makes more sense, buying lots of acrylic scarves that start pilling the moment you put them on or a few quality cashmere scarves you can wash and wear forever? 
I'm a rather sensible shopper (read: with limited funds and closet space), so I rather buy fewer items but better quality, something that will last. And let's not forget that I'm also a self-confessed snob, so anything cheap and cheerful makes me break out in hives... 

Do you wear scarves? 
Does the material of your winter scarves matter to 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

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

How to Wear Bright Colour

disco style

This is another post in the series examining the roots of my sense of style, and the effect my very stylish mother had on me.

This time I chose some old pictures from the very late 70's-early 80's, which show a rarely seen, uncharacteristically flamboyant side of my usually very modest mother.

80's fashion

My mother wasn't exactly a fan of bright colours. What I mean is that she preferred neutrals or more muted, calm colours, especially blue. Unlike her more eccentric daughter, she didn't like anything loud or attention grabbing. However, on the rare occasions she wore a bright colour, she always maximised its effect by pairing it with neutral accessories that let the colour be the centre of attention.


It was this old picture of me, on the right, that made me  realise how much her sense of style has influenced mine in this respect. I've always liked bright colours, but I think they look best and very classy when worn with something more neutral that doesn't compete for attention.

wear hot pink

And this outfit was influenced by what you see my mother wearing in the first picture. I didn't want to copy her look, or even modernise it; I wanted to recreate my own version of it. Therefore, this outfit is much more studied and planned than most of my outfits: I wanted to see if I could get the same effect by pairing hot pink with neutrals, but true to myself I chose white instead of grey or beige (see the original post HERE).

How do you wear bright colours?



For more Style Lessons, go to Style Icon

DEDICATION: in loving memory of Ritva L (1 January 1942 - 25 December 1996)

Linking up with Happiness at Mid-Life for Throwback Thursday

Sunday, 11 January 2015

I can do pastels!

pastel colors over 40

I have avoided pastels my entire life...

Not because I didn't like them, but because I always thought they would make me look pale and sickly or make me blend into the wall. And they're sort of cute, too, and I don't do cute.

winter coat
coat: Marks and Spencer / bag: Chanel / sunglasses: Tiffany & Co (old)

But then I saw this coat... 

and I needed to try it on. So, I ordered it online and had it delivered to my local Marks and Spencer near Homebase 2, picked it up and... It was one of those things that could go either horribly wrong or be spot on.

I was a bit uncertain at first: I've never had a coat in such a pale shade before. Or anything so... pastelly. Thus, the coat hung unworn in my wardrobe for a couple of days while I was making up my mind whether to keep it or not.

Brooch : Viaminnet
I finally decided to have some photos taken to see (more objectively) how it looked on me. And I thought it needed some accessories to come alive: something to toughen it up a bit, make it less pastelly sweet. And to avoid the dreaded sickly-pale-blend-into-the-wall effect, I reverted to the same strategy I use whenever I have to wear black: put some colour between my face and the coat...

over 40 blogger

You know what? I really, really like the colour... Strange, isn't it?

But I'm actually glad I do like it as I've been looking for a lightweight, sort-of-winterish coat for my British wardrobe.

Yes, I've finally decided to stop carrying bulky coats between the homebases. And winter weather is so different in Finland from what it is in Britain (dry and very cold versus humid and sort-of-cold, respectively) that I really need to have outerwear appropriate for each climate.

At least my suitcase will be a bit lighter in the future...

What do you think? Not too cute?


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 and Style Sessions


Wednesday, 7 January 2015



Madeira has something for everyone

And Professor M and I like it, too. After all, this wasn't our first time here.
Now, if we were athletic outdoor people, Madeira would have a lot to offer: hiking, levadas, whale watching, deep sea fishing...
But we are two very busy and stressed urbanites, and one of us usually has a cold / flu whenever we go on holiday (especially around Christmas), so we like to take it easy. This means minimum amount of sightseeing, lots of good restaurants and leisurely walks in parks. In other words, we need a place fit for a Bad Tourist...

Funchal Madeira

So, this was the third time my husband and I had a holiday (vacation for my American readers) in Madeira, and the second time we spent Christmas there. It was also the second time we stayed at The Vine Hotel in Funchal. And yes, the next time we go back to Madeira, this is where we'll be staying. Why? It has wonderful breakfast, a lovely spa, a small rooftop pool, and the location is perfect (= in the centre, and far away from the tourist resort), not least because it's adjacent to Dolce Vita shopping centre. I know, it sounds horrible, but can be extremely handy when the airline loses your luggage...

Funchal Madeira

Did I mention the hotel has a spa? I really liked the steamroom and jacuzzi: very relaxing, and I didn't have to pretend I was swimming. Professor M also talked me into having a massage. That's supposed to be relaxing, but I think I  lack the gene that makes most women like this sort of 'pampering'. Having a massage or a facial just makes me more stressed, and I can't stand being touched by strangers, however nice and gentle they are.


I wanted to include this picture in my post, even though this time around we didn't take the cable car ride to the botanical garden.However, I loved it two years ago (and Professor M hated it, which probably explains why we skipped it this time around...) and I would recommend it to anyone visiting Funchal for the first time.

Funchal Madeira

What about food?

There are of course excellent restaurants, and we sort of became regulars at this little tea room. They have so many different types of tea... and wonderful salads, and the chocolate cake is to die for.
And another restaurant I would like to mention here is Londres: a popular fish restaurant with quite generous portions (you can order a half-portion or share). The food is uncomplicated and good: fish or meat with potatoes and vegetables, with a portion of the delicious local garlic bread, bolo do caco.

bolo do caco

And this is Vicentes Photographic museum, and every time I pass it, it's closed... Oh well, maybe next time...

Funchal Madeira

Yes, I'm sure Madeira and Funchal have a few surprises in store, and I look forward to going back. Maybe next year.
In the meantime, as soon as I get my photos sorted, I plan to take you on a little sightseeing tour outside Funchal...

PS: Check out my new glamorous self-portrait in  The Dilettante Artist's Gallery. There is a pretty, new widget on the sidebar to take you there...

Linking up with  A Compass Rose for Travel Tuesday

Sunday, 4 January 2015

What exactly is smart casual?

holiday style

Limiting options makes life easier

I have quite a small wardrobe, and it's distributed between two homes in two different countries. As a result, whenever I'm looking for a particular item, it's usually in the wrong place, i.e. not available. And I end up improvising, using whatever I have at my disposal. As it turns out, I'm rather good at improvising...

smart casual

Having a small wardrobe and distributing it between two countries is a choice, of course, but one that comes very naturally. I think I've always had quite a minimal wardrobe. Not because I'm a minimalist at heart (I am), but because I spent my childhood shuttling between my divorced parents, and my youth constantly moving, staying abroad, refusing to put down roots. Thus, living out of a suitcase became natural, and I wanted to be able to fit my possessions in one suitcase that I could easily carry myself. And to this day, this is still my mental state. Having 'too much stuff' makes me uneasy: I feel overwhelmed, as if I'm losing control. So, I try not to accumulate too much. Easier said than done when you live with a pack rat...

smart casual
scarf: Alexander McQueen / bag: Chanel
And I get so attached to my clothes and accessories... There is always the favourite pair of sunglasses / bag (of the moment) that I want to wear all the time, and plan an entire outfit around...
Then it helps to have some 'classic', multifunctional pieces that go with anything. These pieces are like chameleons; they take on a different personality depending on what they're paired with.
Take this jacket, for instance: I've had it forever. I may not wear it for a long time, then find it again and love it. Seriously, this has been on my 'list of items that need to be replaced' for years, but as I have yet to find the perfect replacement, I keep going back to it.
What I like about the jacket is the fabric, and the cut. Tweed looks so timeless, and the biker style is a bit edgy, so the jacket is both classic and modern at the same time.

accessorizing with a necklace
necklaces: Andiata / L.K.Bennett, both old

From casual to smart: the power of accessories

On my recent trip to Madeira I had to challenge myself to come up with 'smart casual' outfits using the limited wardrobe of mainly very casual clothes I had packed. I had to first identify the 'smart' elements of the look and highlight them, while playing down the more 'casual' elements.
The 'classic but edgy' jacket was my starting point. I added a few 'classic' elements, such as my new Chanel bag and the black and white necklace. Then I added the leather and chain necklace for some edginess. 

smart casual
jacket: Zara (old) / T-shirt: Whistles / sunglasses: Tom Ford
And this is my tried and tested formula for smart casual: take the casual base (a t-hirt and trousers) and add a smart jacket (no denim), shoes and a nice handbag. Top off with some jewellery and glamorous sunglasses. Make sure you have more or less equal amount of casual and smart: you don't want to look like you're trying too hard.

How do you define 'smart casual'?


PS: Go check out my new glamorous self-portrait in  The Dilettante Artist's Gallery. There is a pretty, new widget on the sidebar to take you there...

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

location: Madeira

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