Thursday, 29 October 2015

A Cashmere Cardi is Forever

Brora cashmere

Cashmere is forever...

If you take good care of it. I have cashmere sweaters that I've had for almost ten years, and they still look as good as new. And since my cashmere sweaters and cardigans are in classic styles, I can keep wearing them forever.

Which is good, given that buying cashmere is a bit of an investment. But it is an investment worth every penny, and in the long run a lot cheaper than buying half a dozen poor quality sweaters that end up in a landfill after just a few weeks or months. Still, with a limited budget, I can only indulge on one new cashmere sweater or cardigan per year. So, I need to pick garments I can wear over and over again without getting tired of them.

Yes, all my cold weather knitwear is cashmere. That's because I only buy knitwear that actually keeps me warm. There are lot of trendy big, bulky cardigans in shops now, but a lot of them are at least 50% acrylic. And acrylic is the biggest rip off ever. Not only will it start pilling like crazy after the first wash (or even before), it will do nothing to keep you warm. Think about it: you're wearing this enormous knitted coat or a blanket scarf, and you're shivering with cold. Something is wrong with this picture...

Cashmere, on the other hand, never fails. A thin cardi or sweater is all you need. But wool (or mohair or angora) works just as well,you say. Yes, it does. But I can't wear it. For the same reason I can't have a cat or cuddle a dog: allergies. Never mind how soft the wool is, it still makes me itch. And an angora sweater... Well, I could just as well rub a kitten all over my face, the result is the same (swollen eyes, blotchy skin, sneezing and wheezing...). Of course, I could layer a t-shirt under a wool sweater. Except that I can't stand that much layering, it makes me feel I'm suffocating. So, nothing comes between me and my cashmere...


I'm wearing:
cardigan: Brora (seen before HERE and HERE) / trousers: Marks and Spencer /
sleeveless top: Sand / bag: Furla / shoes: Clarks / scarf: Marja Kurki / sunglasses: Coach


Sunday, 25 October 2015

Minimum Effort, Maximum Effect

40+ wrapdress

Minimum effort, maximum effect

that's what I'm after today. I've been having the worst flu ever for the past few weeks, and I'm still feeling a bit worn out and don't have the energy to put together outfits. Yet, I still I want to wear something pretty, and I need some colour to lift my mood. But I can't be bothered to dress up properly, so maybe something simple and easy...

styling a wrap dress

I wanted to have this dress photographed a couple of weeks ago, in the gorgeous late autumn sunshine... As it turned out, I was camping on the sofa all weekend, feeling utterly miserable, popping flu medication and overdosing on bad TV. It probably didn't help that I stubbornly went to work, even though I had lost my voice. I didn't want to cancel lessons just before autumn break, so I just decided to grin and bear it. Or mime my way through the day, rather...

So, these pictures were finally taken last week, as I was enjoying my autumn break / recovering in England. If a flu is no reason to cancel lessons, it is certainly not a reason to postpone travel plans... Besides, I was almost completely recovered... Sure, landing was slightly uncomfortable... And then there were engineering works on the Tube, and getting across London to St Pancras in time for the train was quickly turning into one of those epic journeys from Hell.... But I made it, had a somewhat relaxing week in England, and we even managed to finally take these pictures.

how to accessorize a wrap dress

I'm wearing:
dress: Baukjen (seen before HERE) / sunglasses: Dolce & Gabbana / 
necklace : Askew London via Hirst Antiques / bag: Furla / shoes: Clarks


Thursday, 22 October 2015

Ties, part 2

This is the 2nd installment of my husband's ties (see part 1 HERE)... He's still partial to stripes in his outfits, but he's experimenting with patterns a bit more.

By the way, I took these photos over the course of several weeks, usually in the morningwhen hubby was leaving for work, so the collection you see here was not planned in any way.

pattern mixing menswear
silk tie

Looking at these pictures now it is obvious that he has a) a lot more clothes than I do and b) much more variety in his choice of clothes than I do...


PS: Have you seen the latest DILETTANTE ARTIST post? I went a bit crazy with Photoshop again...

Linking up with: 

Sunday, 18 October 2015

How to layer when you hate layering?

down jacket

A light-weight down jacket

is just the perfect layering piece now the weather is getting a little colder. It's not cold yet, really, just a bit chilly. and there might be frost on the ground in the morning. And it's certainly a bit too early for cashmere sweaters and winter boots. However, a trench coat is not enough to keep me warm, either. Oh, and I hate layering...

Layering is not my thing.

Unless we consider adding a scarf as adding layers, of course. Or wearing a cardigan with a sleeveless top or a dress.

Well, it's layering, of course, but in a rather minimalist sense. In a way, my idea of layering is very simple: two layers max, or I start feeling restricted by my clothes.

Beaumont jacket

But adding layers is an easy way to keep warm, isn't it?

And you can add interest to your outfit by adding layers, and it makes packing simpler as your clothes can multitask...

It sounds very good, and even looks fantastic on other people. But for some reason even the idea of layering a sweater under a coat and a long-sleeved t-shirt under the sweater makes me feel like I'm suffocating...

So, two layers max...

My approach to dropping temperatures is to reach for a warmer coat while keeping the rest of the outfit more or less the same as before: a light-weight top with either trousers or a skirt. The colder the weather, the bigger the coat. And in December I swap my shirts / Breton tops / long-sleeved t-shirts for cashmere sweaters, but the same principle of two layers max still applies.

But doesn't that mean I need quite a few coats to accommodate the changing weather and four seasons? Yes, but I need a quite a few coats anyway. I share my time between Finland and the U.K. Neither country is not exactly known for good weather...

And a light-weight down coat is something that has been missing in my wardrobe. So, I bought one. And I love it: it's the perfect piece to replace the early autumn trench coat as the outer layer when it starts getting a bit colder.

40+ down jacket

I'm wearing:
down jacket: Beaumont / trousers: Marks and Spencer / shoes: Clarks / bag: Furla /sunglasses: Coach 

How do you feel about layering?


PS: There's a new DILETTANTE ARTIST post, a fabulous autumn landscape.

Linking up with: 

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Consistency and Style

40+ sweater and skirt

Simplicity and consistency...

That's what I want from my clothes. And multitasking, of course. And they have to be low-maintenance. And versatile... I know, I know: I'm demanding. But why shouldn't I be? After all, I spend my hard-earned money on clothes, and I want to get my money's worth.

So, why do I keep buying the same thing over and over again?

Really, it's almost as if I'm wearing a uniform: I keep repeating the same colours and the same shapes...

For example, when it comes to this outfit, it really is the same old, same old. You've seen the coat so many times that you've probably lost count. And I've worn the skirt a few times, too: in winter (both in Finland and in the U.K.), and in spring. The only new items here are the (very basic) cotton sweater and the scarf. And even the sweater looks very familiar: I have a cashmere sweater in almost the same colour...

And that's what simplicity is for me: I know it works. Every time. More importantly, I know I like it.

There's nothing wrong with experimenting. Or using style to express your personality. In a way this is exactly what I do: my clothes are an outward expression of my personality. And that's why consistency in style is so important for me: I know who I am, and I want the world to see it, too.

Of course, people change over time, and outfits should reflect that change. But people don't change drastically: the core of my personality remains the same even though certain personality traits might be more pronounced at a given time while others are 'dormant'. In the same way, my outfits change slightly to reflect my current circumstances, but the essence of my style remains the same.

40+ skirt style

But what about playing, having fun with fashion?

Why not have fun with fashion? I could be a hippie chick one day and a headbanger the next. Or a pirate princess and an earth mother, and... Isn't it fun to explore the concept of identity while having fun with fashion? Of course it is, but I have neither the patience nor the permanent closet space for multiple sartorial personalities...

Sure, I used to play dress-up all the time when I was little girl. You know, wearing my mother's clothes, tons of jewellery and a crown... Yes, I  always dressed up as a princess. Never a pirate or a farmer or a race car driver. A princess. I guess we could say that I had a very firm idea of identity even back then, but I leave it to you to analyse it further...

Anyway, as most of my life is somewhat restless (working as a freelancer, living in two countries...), I tend to crave some consistency. Or maybe it's just a way to exert some control over my life and my circumstances. I mean, we may all be at the mercy of the economic climate, but consistency in style is entirely up to me. Thus, consistency it's also reassuring: life may be uncertain, but some things never change (too much, anyway).

Of course, every now and then I expand my need for consistency onto other areas of my life: I may make a half-hearted attempt at home decoration, or think of getting a permanent job... And then I remember that even after 15 years I still see my flat as a temporary home, and I don't really want to work on Mondays, or in the mornings...

sweater and skirt

I'm wearing:
skirt: Jigsaw (old, seen before HERE, HERE and HERE) / top: KappAhl / scarf: Global /
 shoes: Clarks (old) / bag: Furla / sunglasses: Coach / trench: Hobbs

Is having a signature style important for you?




Sunday, 11 October 2015

How to jazz up a boring outfit

classic trench over 40

Chinos,  a Breton T, a trenchcoat...

This is pretty much what I wear when I don't make an effort to dress up. You know, when I have some errands to run, groceries to buy etc. and don't really have the time to put together an inspiring outfit and think about make up...

I have this rule about how far I'll venture from home wearing just gym pants and no make up: it's OK to walk to the corner shop or take the trash out. But any errands requiring me to take the train / bus or walk for longer than 5 minutes means putting on at least some lipstick and an outfit that looks presentable. Enter the no-brain-power-required, easy-peasy Breton T-shirt, chinos and a trench coat combo.

But it's a boring outfit, even with this fab old berry-coloured trench (this trench is at least 6 or 7 years old but I still think it's quite a showstopper).

So, let's add some accessories: funky sunglasses, a pretty bag and multi-tone brogues.

Furla tote bag

I usually like my shoes neutral

I could even say plain and boring. And this is on purpose: I avoid statement shoes like the plague.
It's not that I don't like statement shoes; in fact, I could use a few pairs of a bit more extravagant shoes to spice up my wardrobe. Yet, when I go shoe shopping, I usually come home with something sensible in a neutral colour.

I'm a pragmatist: shoes are for walking, and I don't have the closet space (or money) to store shoes I don't wear. And I only wear shoes I can walk in.

multi colour brogues

Sure, but I could still find sensible shoes that are a bit less plain, right? 

Well, it really boils down to this: it's a lot easier to pack 5 t-shirts and one pair of shoes than several pairs of shoes... As I live out of a suitcase, commuting between two homes, all my clothes and accessories have to multitask and mix and match. And shoes in neutral colours and with few details go with anything.

So, this pair of shoes is quite a departure from my usual style. Yet, I think I can make it work: these shoes can be matched with anything blue, green, or fuchsia, which more or less covers the colours I have in my wardrobe...

Burberry trench

I'm wearing:
trench coat: Burberry (old, seen before HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE) /
top: Jigsaw / trousers: Marks and Spencer / shoes: Clarks /
sunglasses: Dolce & Gabbana / bag: Furla

How do you feel about statement shoes?


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Smart Casual vs Weekend Casual

Smart Casual:

Something you wear to work if you work in a field with a fairly relaxed dress code. It's formal enough to make you look like you mean business, but relaxed enough that you don't look like you're trying too hard. What you need is just the right mix of authority and approachable. Something like this: 

40+ smart casual

Weekend Casual:

Uncomplicated, relaxed, stress-free dressing, that's what we want from our weekend outfits, right? But we still want to look presentable, even when wearing something casual. Well, I do...

When it comes to casual, there's casual-staying-at-home and then there's casual presentable. You will never see the first one on this blog. This is in your own, and my, best interest: I think the secret to any good relationship is that some things should remain a mystery (i.e. what I wear when I'm just lounging in front of the telly at home...)

40+ weekend casual

So, weekend casual is not quite the same as smart casual 

Or it's the more casual end of smart casual... something you can wear when running errands, going shopping, maybe to a relaxed lunch with friends. But you wouldn't necessarily wear it to work (depends on where you work, of course) whereas smart casual would be perfectly fine in an office or a classroom. I could wear this outfit to work, but I work in a rather casual setting, in a country that has an extremely casual dress code. 

gloria ortiz bag
smart casual over 40

BTW, these two looks were also shot in two different countries: Finland (smart casual) and the U.K. (weekend casual). So, I suppose this post might also provide an answer to the question whether my style changes when I commute between countries. Well, see for yourself...

Smart Casual:
rench: Hobbs / top: Mistral / trousers: Marks & Spencer (old) / shoes: Clarks (s/s2014) /
 bag: DKNY / sunglasses: Miu Miu (old) /scarf: Shanghai Tang

Weekend Casual:
trench: Hobbs / top: Mistral / jeans: Levi's Bold Curve (old) / shoes: Clarks (s/s2014) / 
bag: Gloria Ortiz for El corte Ingles (old) / sunglasses: Chanel (old) / scarf: Global Accessories (old) 

Does your weekend look differ from your work look?


Sunday, 4 October 2015

Casual Wear and the City

40+ weekend casual

I prefer chinos to jeans

These days most jeans seem to be of the skinny variety, and I don't think that's for me. I prefer my clothes a bit less constricting and body-con. So, chinos it is.

It's quite easy to put together a casual yet polished outfit around chinos. A plaid shirt instead of a t-shirt makes the look seem a bit more put-together and sophisticated, which is what I want for a more urban look. And then all I need is a pair of shoes. Flats, of course: loafers, brogues, ballerina flats... as long as it's shoes not originally meant to be worn in the gym. And as you can see, my new pink bag is not just for work wear but can do casual, too...

plaid shirt over 40

A poncho is both casual and elegant

Besides, I don't do hoodies, except (maybe) in the gym. But I understand the concept of a relaxed, light-weight cover-up to keep warm in the slightly cooler autumn weather.

Enter the wool poncho: whether you wear it it open or wrap it around you, it makes a statement in a way that a hoodie simply can't.


I'm wearing:
poncho: Marja Kurki (similar, the blue poncho seen before HERE) / shirt: KappAhl /
trousers: Pure / shoes: Clarks / sunglasses: Chanel / bag: Furla

What's your idea of casual wear?


PS: Have you seen the new DILETTANTE ARTIST post yet?

Linking up with: 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Biker Chic

40+ leather jacket

As a teenager my 'uniform' was a black, studded leather jacket

That was in the early 80's, when leather jackets still had a bit of a rebellious feel to them; before we started wearing them with pretty dresses and heels... So, I wore mine with tight, distressed jeans and a t-shirt. My mother hated it: she thought it was ugly, and not 'girly' enough... Which made me love my studded leather jacket even more, of course...

In retrospect, I wasn't exactly a rebel, unless you count rebelling against the perfectly coordinated pretty little dresses I had been living in my entire childhood. You see, I was always the ultimate girly girl, a real little princess, complete with curls and bows and frilly dresses... So, it would sort of make sense that when I hit puberty I would be sulking in the corner wearing my studded leather jacket, reading an encyclopedia. Yeah, I admit: that last bit doesn't quite fit in...

Anyway, we were all into Punk and New Wave then, and maybe there was a little bit of Sandy from Grease thrown in, too...

And the encyclopedia? Yes, I read it. All of it. And half the city library, too. I may have been wearing a biker jacket but that doesn't mean I would actually be into bikes, or boys on bikes, or drinking or smoking or any of the 'rebellious' bad habits teenagers got up to those days. I thought of myself as some sort of an intellectual, and walked around quoting Shakespeare... Yeah, people thought I was weird; it was before it became trendy to walk around in a black leather jacket, pondering the meaning of life...

I don't wear a black leather jacket very often these days (or read encyclopedias, or quote Shakespeare, for that matter). But it does appeal to some aspects of my personality. Maybe there is a little rebel still in me, somewhere. But she prefers her leather jacket a bit more chic these days, so no distressed jeans...

chic leather jacket

I'm wearing:
leather jacket: Karen Millen (old, seen before HERE and HERE) / top: Esprit / trousers: Marks and Spencer / shoes: Clarks / bag and sunglasses: Chanel / necklace: Andiata (old) 

How do you wear your leather jacket?

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