Saturday, 30 May 2015

Statement Necklaces

how to wear a statement necklace

I love necklaces...

The bigger the better. Well, most of the time, anyway. I do have a few delicate pieces, too, and I do wear them. What I wear depends on the mood I'm in. And most often I want something that is not afraid of being seen... Hm, I wonder if that says something about my personality?

floral necklace

But even my statement necklaces must abide by certain rules. 

First, they must be solid enough to last. I've had enough of necklaces that break after you've worn them a few times. There are a couple of those featured in this post, too...

statement necklace
Fenwick (original post)

And I can't stand multiple strands or dangly bits. They look nice, but just drive me crazy. Anything that needs constant adjusting drives me crazy...

Kenneth Jay Lane necklace
Kenneth Jay Lane (original post)

And yet, I've always wanted multi-strand pearls... You know, Coco Chanel style... But it would probably not work.

statement necklace
Fenwick (original post)

How to wear a statement necklace?

Well, to make the most of a statement necklace, you need to wear something simple. Something that doesn't mind fading into the background and letting the necklace take the centre stage. A statement necklace is a bit of a diva, after all.

statement necklace
Zara (original post)

Or, you can match the necklace to your outfit and let it blend in as part of the outfit. But not just any outfit: if it has to sing in the chorus, the statement necklace wants a bit of glitz and glamour around it. Prints, silk, brocade... A statement necklace likes to hang out with equally glam friends.

And then there are necklaces that are a bit badass, cool... they need to be matched with something really cool to make them happy.

pearl necklace
Snö of Sweden (original post)

How do you wear your statement necklaces?




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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Going Green... Sort of

colourful trench

Blue and Green...

I don't know why but spring always makes me want to wear something green. Green is so fresh, especially when worn with blue: it's my favourite colour combo for summer...

over 40 style

It doesn't look like summer...

Sure, the sun is shining, I just wish the temperature would catch up soon... But it's only late May, it's still spring...

In case you're wondering, summer in Finland starts in June and ends in late August, and this has nothing to do with weather. After all, summer weather may not always conform to seasonal expectations (I can remember a few late spring snow storms...). So, if the increasing number of daylight hours is not enough to convince you that it is indeed summer (never mind the temperature), the Finnish word for summer, kesä, is sort of incorporated into the word for June (= kesäkuu), whereas September could be translated as 'autumn month' (= syyskuu). I guess this is practical, just in case...

Boden skirt

But enough with semantics... let's get back to style

When I saw this pencil skirt I thought it had a sort of 70's vibe. The print looks like the kitchen curtains we had back then... But I just loved it. I thought it was a bit crazy, but in a good way. And it looks great with my blue trench, don't you think?


I don't usually write about the locations for my photo shoots 

In fact, I usually look for sort of nondescript locations that could be anywhere. So, I don't know if you can tell whether a certain outfit was shot in Finland or in the U.K., or if you even care...

My photographer (a.k.a Professor M, my lovely and very patient husband) is only available at weekends, so the location depends on which one of us travels that particular weekend. At the moment I'm quite busy at work, and so, except for our long weekend in Prague, he has been commuting to Finland.

Anyway, these photos were shot in one of my favourite areas in Helsinki, with lots of Art Nouveau and Art Deco buildings that make a wonderful background (not that you can see much of them here...). No, we don't live anywhere near... I wish...

trench and skirt

I'm wearing:
trench: Hobbs / pencil skirt: Boden / t-shirt: Ann Taylor (old) / shoes: Clarks (old) / bag: Diane von Furstenberg (old) / scarf: Lola Casademunt (old) / sunglasses: Miu Miu (old)

When does summer start for you?


Sunday, 24 May 2015

A Lazy Girl's Travel Capsule Wardrobe

capsule wardrobe

I don't plan my holidays and I don't plan my travel wardrobe

I just pack a suitcase and go. I'm telling you this as a warning, in case you expected some sort of detailed graph showing how to make multiple outfits out of a few pieces. I'm not that girl, and I have neither time nor patience for trying on clothes and putting together outfits in advance.

But I don't just throw random things into a suitcase, either. So, I guess we could say there is a system... A system that takes me about 30 minutes to pack and seems to work well enough.

But first, let's define 'travel': I'm now talking about a holiday (vacation for my American readers) involving a stay at a hotel, whether for a weekend or a week or longer, as opposed to 'commuting' between Finland and the U.K. (i.e. travelling between 'homebases', when there is no need to pack toiletries, sleepwear, gym wear, laptop etc since I have all of this in both homes...)

capsule wardrobe

For starters, I usually take a suitcase with me 

It's just easier: I often take my gym wear with me, and I might do some shopping (OK, lots of shopping...). So, it doesn't matter if the suitcase is half-empty. It might be stuffed to the brim on the way back...

For my recent trip to Prague I packed gym shoes and exercise wear for both myself and hubby, so taking a suitcase was the only choice.

Aren't I worried about my suitcase getting lost? Well, no. As I am a frequent traveller, my suitcase is often tagged as 'priority' and thus taken very good care of. Of course, my luggage can still be 'misplaced' during transit, which is exactly what an unnamed airline did last year as I was changing planes in Lisbon... And this is why I also have a little gizmo called Trakdot, which can tell me where my suitcase is, in case it gets left behind.

travel wardrobe

How do I decide what to pack?

As I said, I don't plan my holiday in advance. Life is stressful enough as it is, a holiday should be an opportunity to relax a bit, with no plans, no obligations, and some room for surprise. However, this means I can't decide what to take with me based on activities because I don't know what I'll be doing...

That being said, it is very unlikely I'd be doing something totally out of character, so I just need a good selection of my seasonally appropriate everyday clothes that I can then mix and match as I see fit.

Weather is an important factor 

when deciding what to pack, of course. However, experience has though me not to pay too much attention to weather forecasts. A weather forecast is a starting point, for sure, but I like to be prepared for the unexpected, too. So, if the temperature is supposed to be around 15 °C / 59°F, I pack clothes that are also appropriate for slightly colder and slighly warmer weather: 10-20 °C / 50-68°F. This would include something with long sleeves (a t-shirt or a cardican), some socks and a light coat.

travel wardrobe over 40

I always start with a coat and shoes 

The coat determines the colour palette; it has to go with everything else. And I need good walking shoes for the inevitable sightseeing / shopping / just-wandering-around-aimlessly. Obviously, the coat and the shoes should go together.

And what about another pair of shoes, for going out? Sure, why not. I never wear heels, so my going-out shoes is just a slightly more polished version of the walking shoes, or maybe sandals (though not on this trip). The coat should be warm enough, in case the weather suddenly turns colder, but light-weight, so I can carry it folded over my arm without looking like I'm carrying a winter coat.

breton top

The rest is easy:

Now I just add a couple of t-shirts and trousers / skirts, all within the same colour palette so they can be mixed and matched, and a big scarf. I might throw a jacket into the mix, and two pairs of sunglasses. Finally, I add some jewellery: a statement necklace is always good as it dresses up a simple t-shirt.

And then all I need is 2 bags

One to use as cabin luggage: so, with enough room for a bottle of water, magazines and whatever electronics I plan to take with me (e.g. a camera, iPad etc.). And another, smaller bag for sightseeing and shopping. Ideally, this bag should be as small and light as possible, and preferably cross-body (to keep my valuables out of reach of pickpockets).

Hobbs trench

So, do I ever forget to pack something? 

Or pack the wrong clothes? Of course I do, all the time. And that's why the first thing I do when I arrive in a new place is find a good department store or a shopping centre. Whatever I forgot (shampoo, allergy medication, a cardigan, you name it) can be replaced, and shopping centres in particular save a lot of time as you can find everything under the same roof.

But these days I make it a rule to always take with me both short-sleeved and long-sleeved t-shirts, extra underwear and an umbrella. Why? Because if I don't, then that's what I will need for sure...

Do I ever overpack?

Always, and on purpose. I'm rather impulsive when it comes to getting dressed. I may plan an outfit the night before, then change my mind at the last minute and wear something completely different. So, it's good to have a few options. And I take the suitcase, remember? A couple of extra t-shirts don't take up that much space in a suitcase, and even if I fail to wear them, so what? And I know from past experience that if I don't 'overpack', I end up needing whatever it is that I left out...

So, there is no big secret to my travel capsule wardrobe: I'm afraid I'm just lazy or too busy to care. Or maybe I have learned that less really is more, at least when you have to drag your belongings with you all the time...

Do you plan your travel wardrobe?


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Thursday, 21 May 2015

How to survive watching Eurovision Song Contest


It's that time of the year again...

The all-European camp-fest known as Eurovision Song Contest is here again... And isn't it just the perfect way to waste a Saturday evening (or, Sunday morning in Australia). How else could you overdose on cheesy music and crazy costumes?

Euro what???

As I have a lot readers outside Europe, let me briefly explain what it is all about. This annual TV-show brings together the corniest, tackiest, and just weird performances from all over Europe. It's not that this is the intention; in fact, Eurovision Song Contest used to feature really good music (in the 60's and 70's mostly), and more than one superstar can trace their breakthrough to it (remember ABBA?). But these days it's a different story. And that's what makes it such compelling viewing.

Anyway, there are two semi-finals (on Tuesday and Thursday) and the Grand Final on Saturday. The show takes hours. Yes, hours of mostly really bad music... and then there's the results, which also takes ages, and is totally predictable.

Who in their right mind would watch crap like this?

Well, everyone...

Of course, a lot of people are way too cool to get excited about it. At least in Finland... I mean, there's nothing less cool than cheesy pop music... which is why nobody would admit to actually watching Eurovision. Oddly enough, on Sunday everyone knows not only which country won but also which performers had the tackiest costumes and cheesiest lyrics...

Yes, I know, sour grapes... Finland doesn't exactly have a stellar record when it comes to success in this contest... This year's entry (a 90-second punk rock rant by a band consisting of middle-aged men with learning disabilities or down syndrome) did not qualify for the final, either. However, Finland did win the contest in 2006 (yes, that's the only time...), with this. I know, it's a weird performance, even by Eurovision standards, mostly because it's not ironic (there are two things you should never mock in Finland: ice hockey and heavy metal; we take our national obsessions very seriously...). Yes, it's a real band. And no, nobody has ever seen what they look like under those masks...

Anyway, Eurovision Song Contest has always been, at its best, a true festival of tolerance (e.g. last year's winner), not to mention a unique chance to see totally weird performances by artists nobody has ever heard of. And this year there is a very special new contestant.

Hello Australia!!!

This year the powers-that-be have got their geography a bit mixed up and decided that Australia is part of Europe, at least for the duration of the contest. But since Australian TV audience is new to this fine tradition, I thought I should provide a beginner's survival guide to help them endure hours of mind-numbing lyrics and excruciatingly bad performances (and my other non-European readers: the Eurovision Song Contest website features all the entries, including the songs that never got past the semi-finals, so you can share the fun...)

You need a survival guide... 

There is only so much bad music you can stand, without your head exploding, not to mention the voting results, which takes ages... So, you must be prepared. This is what you need:

  • a group of like-minded friends, a good sense of humour is a must
  • a map or Europe (to help you understand the results and play the game)
  • some food; nothing fancy, and nothing that requires you to step away from the telly
  • lots of booze, preferably wine or beer (you may want to avoid anything with high alcohol content as you'll be hammered by the time the contest ends)

Now, in order to make the most of this event, you're going to play a little game. It's really simple: you have a drink every time you see

  • people dressed in funny costumes, or as a giant chicken
  • too much cleavage (don't worry; you'll know it when you see it. But you can also watch this entry from last year to give you an idea...)
  • an Eastern European singer shaking her booty in an overtly sexy, way too short, skimpy dress
  • lots of fireworks or a light show as part of the act
  • ethnic costumes
  • a violin
  • someone singing about peace / tolerance / equality / fairness (a double shot if two of these are mentioned in the same song)
  • anything shamelessly appealing to your sense of social justice
  • long hair or the trail of a long dress blown by wind machines 
And, if you're still standing when the results are in, you continue the game and have a drink every time
  • countries give top points to their immediate neighbours (this is where the map comes in handy)
  • the person reading a country's results gives a long speech or flirts with the presenters

If all goes according to tradition (and why wouldn't it), you'll be drunk as a skunk long before the results are in and don't give a shit if you favourite act gets zero points...

I wish you a pleasant evening watching the camp-fest of all times, and would love to hear how you survived it.



Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Bad Tourist in Prague

Bad Tourist

3 days in Prague...

There is so much to see: castles, bridges, museums... but I'm a Bad Tourist, and I always find an excuse to ditch sightseeing for something else (and if you've been following me on Instagram, this should be no surprise...). So, if you want to see pictures of Charles bridge or the Prague Castle, buy a guidebook. They have beautiful photos by much better photographers than me. Besides, 3 days is way too short a time to try and see everything, and that would leave no time (or energy) to do what I do best: walk around aimlessly, taking photos of anything not even remotely worthy of a serious tourist's time...

Of course, there was some low-intensity sightseeing: Professor M and I had a nice dinner cruise on Vltava river. Lots of food, some wine, beautiful scenery. So, let's get the touristy snaps out of the way:

river view

Wait... Yellow penguins????

Just making sure you're paying attention... No, seriously, they were there. I have the photo to prove it. How smart of me: otherwise I might have put it down to too much wine...

Bad Tourist

I may not like big museums, but do love small ones. And Alphonse Mucha museum was certainly worth a visit. As one of the artists / illustrators defining the Art Nouveau style, his more commercial work is probably familiar to most people, but he was also an accomplished, serious painter and a nationalist.

Prague Mucha museum

Speaking of art... One of the reasons why I don't want to plan ahead what to see is that there should always be room for surprises. Such as taking the wrong underground exit and getting lost... only to find something really interesting, such as a small museum above a bar, exhibiting the work of a famous Czech comics illustrator and artist:


While the style and themes of Saudek's work are very similar to his western contemporaries, they were quite controversial  in a country that was still under the communist regime, and as a result suffered from censorship.

However, it is possible to look at his work from the purely aesthetic or cultural point of view, especially if you are interested in 1960's and 70's illustration.


And our knowledgeable museum guide told us that one of Saudek's influences was none other than Alphonse Mucha... Serendipity indeed, to see two such masters. What do you think, can you see the Mucha (left) influence in the pop art painting by Saudek (right)?


Yes, Prague is an interesting place, and there is a lot I didn't get a chance to see. But at this point my only regret is that we never got to the Chocolate Museum... I guess that means that we'll have to go back, one day.

I hope you enjoyed the highlights of my very superficial and short visit to Prague.
I will, of course, prepare a post on my travel wardrobe a bit later...


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Sunday, 17 May 2015

Uninspired Simplicity...

Burberry trench

It sure looks sunny

It is sunny... and windy, and sort of cold. The temperature stays obstinately at around 10 °C / 50 °F, with intermittent rain and wind. Typical Finnish spring, in other words.

But that means I don't have anything to wear... 

I know.... I'm probably not the first woman to utter that immortal sentence... but I really mean it. 

I have lots of clothes appropriate for winter, or summer, even autumn. But spring... It's as if I think we're just going to jump right from winter into a summer heatwave. At least that's the impression you get, looking at my wardrobe. 

Burberry trench

So, I probably need to go shopping. But then again, summer is just around the corner, wouldn't it make more sense to get something nice for warmer weather? After all, how much longer can the unpredictable spring weather last? A week, two maybe... And with limited funds to spend on clothes, it just seems to make more sense to get some summer clothes...

See, this is how my reasoning goes. And now you know why you're seeing this bottom-of-the-barrel outfit I dug up from the back of my wardrobe instead of something more inspiring.

Everything I'm wearing is old,old old...
top: Custo Barcelona / trench: Burberry / trousers: Marks and Spencer / shoes: Clarks / scarf: Zara / sunglasses: Tom Ford / bag: Chanel

But hey, summer is just around the corner, right?


Thursday, 14 May 2015

How to wear colour: part 3/3

how to wear colour

A true diva shares the spotlight with nobody...

And a diva colour does not want to share the attention, either. There can be only one star, maybe a few supporting actors, or even just extras to blend into the background.

You think I'm talking about red, right? Well, not necessarily. Many colours can be divas, just as they can be very happy team players on another occasion.

But even though a diva colour is not a team player, it doesn't mean that that there is no team to back it up. Quite the contrary: it takes a dedicated and competent team to make any diva shine. Somebody has to set the stage, after all...

Now, look at these two outfits. Yes, the hot pink is definitely a diva colour, but so is the light blue-green / aqua on the left. It is the attention grabbing element in the outfit, even though the colour is only used in accessories.

strong colour contrast

What really makes a colour the focus of attention are the other colours in these outfits: on the left the dark blue provides a neutral background that makes the aqua seem more vibrant (original post). On the right the beige bag does not compete with the colour of the dress but sort of fades into the background (original post). And in both, the contrast between the diva colour and the supporting colour is high.

So, we're back to contrast, then...  

To some extent, high contrast is important. However, it is not the only thing that elevates a colour to diva status.

I'm wearing the same hot pink top in both of these photos. In both pictures the contrast between colours is high. Yet, hot pink makes a bigger impact when it's paired with white. (original posts: left / right)

color combinations

The coat on the right is dark grey, not black. Yet, like black, it makes hot pink seem just a little bit muted. At least if we compare it to the picture on the right...

Of course, a lot of people accessorise neutral outfits with colourful accessories: it's an easy way to inject colour into a wardrobe in predominantly neutral tones. It also creates a strong visual impact.

hot pink

I do wear neutrals, too, and would certainly accessorise with bold colours. But that's mainly because most neutrals do not exactly flatter my natural colouring...

So, instead of a completely neutral outfit, I add a bit of colour somewhere near my face. I want my diva colour where it makes the biggest impact: (original post)

Yes, I know: the coat is pale blue, hardly a neutral colour...
That's my point: you can wear diva colours with other colours besides neutrals, as long as they are happy to play second fiddle...

Here's an other example. Well, navy and white are neutrals, of course, but stripes make a strong visual impact. Yet, here the navy and white stripes became supporting actors to the red poncho (original post). And the beige trousers, beige and brown two-tone shoes and the brown bag completely fade into the background, without calling any attention to themselves. And this, of course, is one of those tricks I learned from my very elegant mother, and I've talked about this in a blog post before (HERE).

how to wear red

So, this concludes this 3-part series on colour (part 1: YOUR BEST COLOURS, part 2: COMBINING COLOURS). 

I hope it doesn't ruin the magic, now that I've revealed my bag of tricks when it comes to combining colours with maximum impact while flattering my natural colouring... Anyway, these are by no means 'rules' or even guidelines, just my way of making the most of my rather small wardrobe and put together outfits that make me feel good and get positive attention.

Do you wear diva colours?


PS: Sylvia of 40+Style interviewed me for her Style Interview series (HERE)


Tuesday, 12 May 2015

This old dress...

statement necklace

Do you ever get tired of your old clothes?

I'm having a bit of a 'I'm fed up with this dress' moment. And it's not even that old... Well, a year old. In my book that's not old. I have clothes I've had for a lot longer and still wear...

Well, that's a bit beside the point.

The point being, I'm a bit fed up with this dress...

jersey dress

On one hand, I love the print and the colours... On the other hand, the cut makes me crazy. Mainly because the neckline is a bit deep... way too deep for my liking. Even with the vintage pin to keep it from exposing too much... I feel I have to keep adjusting it all the time, and it makes me very self-conscious.

So, I'm trying to distract you here with a new statement necklace... But it might just make the whole thing worse. I mean, yeah, sure, let's draw attention over here, so we won't miss a thing if the pin gives out and I start spilling out of the dress...

I said it makes me feel self-conscious. And I'm sort of an 'always expect the worst' kind of girl to begin with...

That's probably why I haven't worn this dress as much as I though I would. I like my clothes not just low-maintenance but easy to wear: get dressed, move on to more important things, that sort of thing.


But the dress does look pretty with my new blue trench...

I'm wearing:
dress: Phase Eight (s/s 2014, seen previously HERE and HERE) / bolero: Debenhams (old) / necklace: Coast / vintage flower brooch from Portobello Road markettrench: Hobbs  / sunglasses: Prada (old) / bag: Chanel / Shoes: Clarks (old)

Do you have clothes that makes you feel self-conscious?


PS: A new post at Dilettante Artist...
And, Sylvia of 40+Style interviewed me for her Style Interview series!! 
You can read the interview HERE

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Friday, 8 May 2015

This is how I want to remember my mother

style icon

The second Sunday in May is Mother's Day in Finland

and I decided to celebrate it with another Style Icon post, showcasing the unique style of my very elegant mother.

This is also the only way I can celebrate Mother's day, as my mother, and my two grandmothers, are no longer with us. My mother passed away after a long illness almost 19 years ago, on Christmas Day, one week before her 55th birthday.

Yes, that makes Christmas a rather sad holiday for me, and yes, it's tragic when someone dies so young (which is becoming more and more poignant with every passing year, and especially now that I'm just a few weeks away from my own 50th birthday...)

But I don't want to dwell on the sadness of losing my mother here. I want to celebrate what she gave me: her sense of style.

vintage style

Style is probably the one and only area of life where we connected. What I mean is that my mother and me, we were very different people... as if we were living on different planets, that different. Really, if there wasn't the obvious family resemblance, I would have thought I had been switched at birth... (in case you're wondering, I never felt much closer to my father, either.) But this is not about my dysfunctional family and childhood neuroses, so let's get back to business.

The photo above is from the mid-70's, and she's wearing a dress she made herself. She was quite gifted at sewing her own clothes (unlike me, even though I even studied dressmaking), and would often just source the material and make whatever she wanted to wear when she couldn't find it in the shops. I wish that skill had been passed on to me...

70s fashion

And no, you're not seeing double here, and this is no photomanipulation. 

The woman on the left is my mother's identical twin sister (who is alive and well still today), and my mother (on the right) is again wearing a dress she had made herself. This photo was taken in my aunt's living room as the two sisters were getting ready to go out with their husbands (this is part of a series of photos, some of which also include the said husbands...) I assume the photo is from the early 70's, but I couldn't give you the exact year (obviously, I was quite young then... but, as by 1973 both sisters were divorced, that should give us some sort of a timeframe...)

80s fashion

And the 1980's...

In retrospect, my mother always managed to avoid the worst fashion faux-pas of the decade, yet look completely current and trendy... Whereas I did it all: the shoulder pads, the ra-ra skirts, the tube tops... no trend was too ridiculous to experiment with, I was a total fashion-victim... No, there are no photos (thank god!); I was a bit camera shy back then.

Anyway, the blue dress above is from 1981, and the black and white jacket and skirt combo below from 1986.

vintage fashion

But even the most elegant woman has her dressed-down moments and days when she can't be bothered with clothes and make up:

äiti ja tytär

Has your mother influenced your sense of style?


DEDICATION: in loving memory of Ritva L (1 Jan 1942 - 25 Dec 1996)
For more posts on my mother's style, go to Style Icon

PS: A new post at Dilettante Artist...



Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Faking It: Black and White

moto jacket

I don't do black and  white...

It is a classic, striking combo, of course, but it really doesn't do much for me. It's not that I don't like black and white, I do, it just looks a bit blah on me. And that's why I don't do black and white. Except when I'm faking it.

leather jacket

How do you fake black and white?

It's easy: replace one of the black items with something in grey, and sneak in a little bit of colour somewhere, e.g. the pink leopard print scarf here. As long as the bit of colour is in muted tones, the overall impression is that you're wearing black and white...

I'm wearing:
leather jacket: Karen Millen (old, previously featured HERE and HERE) / trousers: Marks and Spencer / t-shirt:  PBO / bag and sunglasses: Chanel /shoes: Clarks / scarf: old

What do you think, did I manage to fake black and white convincingly here?

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