Sunday, 29 November 2015

HOW TO CREATE AN OUTFIT AROUND A BAG

styling a tote bag

As far as accessories go, I like bags...

Couldn't care less about shoes. And yes, I often plan an entire outfit around a bag. You see, I usually have a favourite bag: either 'the love of my life' (my Chanel) or the 'flavour of the month'  (= the bag I'm currently infatuated with, and thus want to carry it all the time). 

But the last couple of years I have been trying to limit the number of bags I buy, both for financial and logistical reasons. Finances aside, I need to find space to store the bags I buy, which can be tricky in a small flat. And as I keep commuting between two homes in two countries, my life is just simpler if I have one bag (or two) that goes with anything. So, less is more, that's the idea...

However, in spite of my best intentions, I still manage to buy at least one bag every year, mainly because love at first sight makes it impossible for me to resist a nice bag... That just goes to show how successful this plan was to begin with...

But, it has been quite a while since I last bought a bag specifically for work. That is, a bag big enough for all the paper the average teacher carries around every day (that is a lot of paper, trust me). So, while I'm not one of those women who carry half of their possessions with them all the time, my work bag needs to accommodate several A4 size files, an occasional book (for work only) and an umbrella. However, as I need to carry the bag around the whole day, I prefer something small(ish) and simple. Not too many compartments, as they take away valuable space (needed for those A4 files and paper), but a few so that I can still find my keys / bus card / phone without having to dump the contents of the bag onto the street.

And I'm happy to report (after carrying it for a couple of months) that this pale pink Furla bag seems to tick all the boxes. Yes, my dear reader, it's official: I'm in love...

So, now that we know that the bag is functional (always the first concern in a work bag), I just have to make sure I have the wardrobe to match. And that's what I've been doing these past couple of months: finding everything in my wardrobe that goes with the new bag.

As you can see, the bag complements my coats:
(original posts: left / right)

tote bag

It seems to like my favourite wrap dresses:
(original posts: left / right)

wrapdress

It can do smart casual:
(original posts: left / right)

Furla tote

But it also works with casual outfits:
(original posts: left / right)

all-purpose bag

Do you ever create an outfit around a bag (or shoes)?

Tiina
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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Stress Management

stress management

I'm stressed...

Too much on my plate at the moment, nothing new there. We all have busy periods at work, and we get through them well enough, give or take a few sleepless nights, wrecked diets, and an occasional temper tantrum. But, should we wish to manage our stress levels better, there's no shortage of helpful advice, in the form of numerous magazine articles, self-help books and blog posts. And they all more or less sum up stress management as eating and sleeping well + physical exercise + mindfulness. And doing less and doing better, of course, or something to that effect. So let's stop wasting time and get down to the business of managing stress, i.e. me telling you how I plan to get through the busy, stressful period without losing my mind. It's all about being more efficient, in less time, of course, and trying to avoid temper tantrums in spite of numerous sleepless nights.

OK, first things first: physical well-being.

So, eating well, sure: there's nothing like a healthy, home-cooked meal to boost the immune system. Only the purest of ingredients, no processed food or sugary treats. Except chocolate, of course. Chocolate is nature's own Prozac, after all. And it contains protein. And flavonoids, or something... Or maybe that was red wine? Well, I guess I should have both, just to be sure, but only after I'm done with the marking, otherwise it gets a bit too Bad Teacher...

OK, what next? Oh yes, I need to relax... People always rave about meditation, maybe I should try that? How does it work, exactly? You just sort of stare straight ahead and repeat a mantra? I can do that. OK, here goes...

Oh boy, that bookshelf needs dusting!

I should just get the... OK, focus! Right, I'm back: let's do this. Yes, meditating now...

What was that? Hey, someone just sent me a cute cat video! Aww, I wish I could get a kitten... Oh no, back to business, no distractions... OK, meditating... How hard can it be, just 10 minutes, for heaven's sake!?

Wait, I need a mantra, right? What the hell's a mantra, anyway? Is it supposed to mean something?

No! No, thinking! Just go with the flow, relax... the mantra will come to you if you just let it... now, empty your mind, focus... focus... chocolate.... chocolate...

I think I still have a chocolate bar in the fridge... WTF??? Who ate my chocolate??!! Oh, wait, I think I had it for breakfast...

Right, no meditation, then... at least till I have an off switch installed in my brain...

Physical activity! That's what I need! Nothing to quiet the mind like a good old workout. Now, let's see... the gym takes too long... But I really should go, I haven't been there for at least a week.  But I'd need to get dressed and walk there, and that would take at least 5 minutes... And I have a million things to do at home, and it's cold, and... Is it snowing?!?

YOGA! I can do some yoga! No need to go out, and it's relaxing, right? And fast, because I can just do it while waiting for the pizza to be delivered. That's what I call multitasking! Now, where did I put that Yoga DVD? Oh shit, it's 45 minutes! No problem, I can do it in 20, if I fast-forward all the boring bits. Or in 10, who needs all those repetitions, anyway? Good! Why waste time when you can just be more efficient, right?

Oh blimey! Downton Abbey's on in 10 minutes! AND WE'RE OUT OF CHOCOLATE!! Quick, if I run I can still make it to the shop and back... Sorry, no time to chat, catch you later!


Tiina
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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Yes, I'm a Trench Coat Addict...

40+ wool coat

Hello, my name is Tiina and I'm addicted to trench coats...

Yes, I have a short, blue one, and a longer one in black leather, and even a classic Burberry trench... And now I have a trench made of wool, for autumn and winter. Well, depends on your definition of winter, of course... As a Finn, I'm no stranger to heavy-duty winter wear, and this coat is about as far from it as possible. But I'm sure I'll get a lot of wear out of it, nevertheless.

Anyway, I'd been stalking this coat online for a while, and then I saw that it had sold out... Except for the Covent Garden Hobbs, which seemed to be the only shop in London that still had it. So, that was my first stop last Saturday. I call that 'grab-and-go' shopping: know where you're going, get the coat, and get the hell out of there as soon as possible.

Hobbs trench

Would it surprise you if I said that I actually hate shopping?

And by shopping I mean wasting hours looking for something that does not seem to exist, and trying on dozens of ill-fitting / poorly constructed / oddly-shaped garments that seem to serve no practical purpose whatsoever. I hate crowded places, and I can't stand over-eager shop assistants pestering me when I just want to look around and hiding from me when I have a question to ask...

Why not shop online, then?

It's a good question, and I have an even better answer. In the U.K, we've had too many parcels getting lost, or delivered to 'a neighbour' (without a name and address, just try tracking them down...) and in Finland I have been told more than once to go to a 'depot ' in the middle of nowhere to get the parcel I paid to have delivered (that's just not going to happen, I don't have a car; besides, if I paid for a delivery, then I expect to get the delivery, even if it requires me yelling at someone on the phone)... So, no, I will only shop online if I can get the parcel delivered to my local post office, thank you very much.

Given what I just told you it's a miracle that I manage to buy any new clothes at all. Well, I hate shopping (i.e. looking for something specific), but I don't mind browsing (i.e. just killing time in a shop, checking if they have anything interesting). And I saw this coat about a month a go. Why I didn't get it then and there is beyond me. Probably I was on my way somewhere, had a lot of stuff to carry or was experiencing a momentary cash flow problem (= feeling guilty for spending too much already). Never mind, I got the coat in the end, and now I have yet another trench coat. I'm sure I will wear it a lot.

leopard print sunglasses
how to accessorise a trench

I'm wearing;
coat: Hobbs / jeans: Next / shoes: Clarks (old) / bag; Chanel / 
sunglasses: Dolce and Gabbana / Scarf : Shanghai Tang

Do you love or hate shopping? Let me know in the comments, and be honest...

Tiina
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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Let it rain...

40+ winter wear

48 hours in London...

On Friday I woke up at 5 am (45 minutes before the alarm was supposed to go off, must be stress), worked the whole day, got back home to pick up my luggage and took the evening flight to London. Nothing unusual about that; I do it often enough. Of course, this time as soon as I landed I I saw the news about Paris...

Yes, I'm as shocked as everybody else. Surprised? Well, this isn't the first time something like this happens, and I fear it might not be the last time, either. And like all Europeans, I want my sense of security back. A colleague asked me this week whether I'm ever scared, given that both I and my husband fly a lot, and my husband also has to travel for work... Yes, I worry. Do I want to talk about it? Absolutely not. You see, I'm a bit of a Negative Nelly: the glass is always half empty, there's always a disaster waiting to happen just around the corner, and the whole universe is out to get me... So, if I give in to worrying, there's no limit to the horrible scenarios I can picture, and frankly I don't need the stress. Besides, I've been working very hard to adopt a more shallow attitude to life (yes, I know how silly that sounds...), so enough of that.

So, about this 48 hours in London...

As I was due to fly back to Finland on Sunday evening already, hubby and I decided to spend the weekend in London instead of me rushing to catch the last train and then spending half the Sunday getting to the airport again.

umbrella

This meant that I actually had to pack for a couple of days... 

And the London weather being famously unpredictable, the only thing I could be sure of was that I'd definitely need an umbrella. So, I packed the smallest umbrella I have: the one I bought at The Umbrella Shop in Vancouver last summer. By the way, this is the first time I've featured it on the blog.

It was a coincidence that it matches the down jacket I'm wearing. You see, I was wearing this jacket on Friday evening because it's a bit colder in Finland at the moment, and I didn't want to be cold on my way to and from the airport. As the jacket weighs nothing and packs really well, I thought I could just toss it into my trolley once I get to London and wear the leather jacket I'd brought with me on Saturday...

Well, as it turns out, I found it too cold for the leather jacket, which then hitched a ride to our British home in hubby's suitcase on Sunday (I won't need it in Finland until April for sure, and I have more closet space to store out-of-season clothes in our house in Britain). And the down jacket was just what I needed on Saturday. I wish I could say this was evidence of my packing genius...

No, the point of this long story is: don't expect packing advice from me. Sure, I travel between two countries all the time, but I also have wardrobes in both homes. When I actually have to pack for a few days, I usually get it wrong. And then I go shopping...

Yes, there was some shopping, of course, but not because of a wardrobe emergency. It was what I like to call 'grab-and-go' shopping: the winter coat I'd been stalking online had sold out everywhere, except one shop in Covent Garden... Yes, I got it, and you'll see it on the blog in due course.

down jacket

I'm wearing:
down jacket: Beaumont / jeans: Next / top: Banana republic (old) / shoes: Clarks (old) /bag: Chanel

Are you good at packing?

Tiina
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Sunday, 15 November 2015

Matching Accessories

I'm Getting Matchy-Matchy... 

When it comes to accessories, that is. I like my accessories to go together, sort of tell the same story.
And now it's November, and everything is getting a bit grey and grim and bland... Winter is just around the corner, and I need to brace myself. I need accessories that are tough and look like they mean business...

how to accessorise a Chanel bag

Actually, I just matched the shoes and the gloves to the bag...

This is my favourite off-duty bag for this time of the year, so it makes sense to have shoes and gloves that complement the bag. And by complement I mean black leather and details with padding, or metal, or both, just like the bag.


Yes, I tend to get a bit more rock-chick as we approach winter; it's my armour against the cold, and the darkness. And it goes with the general bland colour scheme of November, too...


I'm wearing:
coat: Marks and Spencer (a/w 2014) / leather skirt: Karen Millen (old) / top: jigsaw / ankle boots: Clarks / bag and sunglasses: Chanel / gloves: Pia Rossini (old) / cashmere scarf (old)

Does your style change with the seasons?

Tiina
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Thursday, 12 November 2015

On Beauty

style icon

Is beauty power?

Ally of Shybiker asked this question in a blog post a while ago. She was talking about beautiful people getting preferential treatment, and taking it for granted. It got me thinking about beauty, and what it means to me. Unlike Ally, I've never really thought about what it means to be a woman, or feminine, or what role beauty plays in my life.

I was always a girly girl, a little princess who played with her mother's jewellery and clothes and collected dolls and liked pretty dresses. I was also always told that I was pretty. And my mother of course was a really beautiful and elegant woman. And she had a twin sister who was a very beautiful and elegant woman. So, feeling beautiful was perfectly normal for me when I was a little girl. As in something I never thought about, worked at, or agonised over. It was as normal as having two legs, or learning to read. You see, it wasn't just my mother and my aunt who were beautiful: in my world every woman was beautiful. Both my mother and my aunt were hairdressers, and for as long as I can remember I saw stylish and trendy women coming and going all the time. As a result, beauty was so normal that it was ordinary.

But beauty was never a reason for preferential treatment

For starters, my mother may have been beautiful, but she certainly didn't know how to use her looks to get ahead in life (unless we count her very brief stint as a model). She was extremely shy, and suffered from poor self-esteem. She also believed that men who complimented her looks always had an ulterior motive, and taught me that there is no such thing as a free lunch. And I totally agree with her on this. To this day I have trouble taking compliments, and I always think people only compliment me because they want something from me...

So, in my mother's book, beauty was not necessarily an asset: it got you the wrong kind of attention from men and elicited envy from women. All of this never prevented her from pulling out all the stops when dressing up, of course... What can I say, the woman was full of contradictions and mixed messages...

I've never thought of myself as a beautiful woman

As I said, my mother was a very beautiful woman, in the conventional sense (symmetrical features etc), and a former small town beauty queen. This was less fun when I was 14: my classmates would say they saw me with my 'big sister', and commented on how pretty she was... which of course made me feel like the ugly duckling: the skinny 'little sister' with crazy hair, thick glasses and braces...

Of course, I had my share of male attention when I was a young woman: I don't think I had ever trouble attracting attention. But I was extremely uncomfortable with any attention that focused on my physical attributes. I particularly resented comments about my 'beautiful eyes' or being told how 'cute' I was. It's not that I didn't believe these comments, I just found them lacking in originality and an insult to my intellect. You see, I always knew I was smart, I didn't need anyone to tell me that. And it annoyed me that it wasn't immediately visible to everyone else... So, men who commented on my looks made me feel as if they tried to reduce me to just another pretty face whose opinions didn't matter.

old photos

Lucky for me, I was witty 

And I shamelessly used my verbal skills to put down any poor man who dared approach me with anything as banal as 'you're cute'. And I got very good at verbally castrating those annoying wannabe chauvinists who treated me like a piece of meat. Treat me like an airhead at your peril, that's the idea...

Maybe it's because I was so focused on being credited for my skills and talents that I never learned to use my looks to get ahead. It never even occurred to me that I could use my femininity to get preferential treatment. Sure, I've been offered a few free drinks here and there, and I've always declined. In my experience, they usually come with strings attached...

So, when it comes to using my looks to manipulate people, I wouldn't know where to begin... I mean, how does it work, exactly? Will people do things for you just because they think you're beautiful? Surely people, or men for that matter, are not stupid enough to be manipulated so easily? Or are they??? Have I missed my chance to make the most of my assets?

Well, probably not... If I tried to pull crap like that, surely people would find it pathetic? Or laughable? In any case, I don't think I could pull it off without feeling utterly ridiculous. Besides, what I really want is respect.

Yes, looks matter, but respect matters more. 

If people only see you as a pretty face, they're not really interested in your thoughts or ideas. They just want to project their own fantasies onto you. Or they treat you as a toy to play with as they please and then discard you when they lose interest.

But if people respect you, for whatever reason, then you matter. And people who matter are not discarded as last year's toy. You just don't overlook the people you respect, there would be consequences.

However, commanding respect does not mean you couldn't have charm or charisma to attract people. And neither charm nor charisma have anything to do with beauty. After all, the world is full of very beautiful people who are neither charming nor charismatic; just watch any reality show...

Anyway, I may not know how to use my femininity or looks to get ahead, but I am (slowly) learning how to be charming when it serves my purposes, but at the same time use my charm sparingly to command respect. Take work, for example: working in adult education, I try my best to charm my students by being nice (no, it doesn't come naturally; I'm really a mean bitch, not a nice girl, just ask my husband). After all, I want them to feel at ease and find the lessons pleasant. But I also want them to find me just a little bit scary: they have to respect me as an authority figure. Besides, if they find me scary, they won't be asking for special treatment and just do what they're told. And that saves everyone's time. Well, OK, mine.

beauty

Still, I want to feel beautiful (don't really know why, but it doesn't really matter), in addition to being respected. However, as far as other people's opinions on my looks go, I don't want to think about it. Of course it's nice to be considered attractive, but I don't think it does anyone any good to worry about whether they match someone else's idea of beauty or not. After all, beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, and you simply cannot please everyone. But everyone can still respect you, whether they think you're beautiful, or even like you, or not.

Photo Credits: my mother, Ritva L, in the early 60's. All photos from my mother's old photo album, I have no idea who the photographer is.

What do you think, which one gives you power, beauty or respect? Or both?

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Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Softer Side of Work Wear?

Gerry Weber skirt

Business wear, conservative work wear, whatever you call it...

It's not what I wear to work. I work in a rather casual environment, in a country with an extremely relaxed dress code. I can wear jeans and a t-shirt to work; I could probably wear a jogging suit to work and nobody would bat an eyelid. But I don't, of course. I like to dress up a bit. But just a bit. Depending on the weather, of course (read: 'if there's a snowstorm, I'll wear whatever keeps me warm, who cares what it looks like').

plaid skirt

Anyway, I could wear this outfit to work (and I actually did), except for the bag (I need a much bigger bag for work). However, these pictures were taken on a Saturday, and I was on my way to a restaurant for a late lunch with hubby.

The point is, this outfit looks like something a lot of people would wear to work, even in a rather formal setting. This is certainly one of the most conservative (or 'business like') outfits I've worn on the blog...

Can you call a cashmere cardigan and a pencil skirt 'conservative'? Well, I do.

The thing is, I don't have a blazer. Unless we count the linen jacket I wear maybe once or twice every summer... I have short jackets, of course: a pink tweed jacket, another tweed jacket in biker style, and a stripy (biker) jacket that I wear as outerwear in summer (but would never, ever wear under a coat: that's just too much layering for me). But the typical navy blazer that most women have in their wardrobes, I've never even considered buying it.

Instead, I wear  cardigans. They're softer and much more comfortable. So, my preference for cardigans over jackets has nothing to do with what they look like (I actually like that crisp, sharp look of a blazer...) and everything to do with how they feel on my skin: soft and comfortable, and they don't restrict my movements the way jackets do.

Gerry Weber skirt

Oh, and the skirt is new. Every autumn I get this idea that I need something in plaid. Somehow plaid means autumn / winter for me, don't really know why...

I liked this skirt because when I saw it, I immediately thought that I could wear it with at least 3 or 4 of my cropped cashmere cardigans (yes, I have the exact same cardi in 4 colours, how sick is that?) and with several of my winter coats. I guess this means you'll be seeing more of the skirt in the months to come...

Annoushka earrings

And I just have to include this picture showcasing the pearl earrings...

The earrings I got myself as a birthday present last summer have become sort of a signature piece: I've worn them almost non-stop for months. Well, that was the idea, of course: I wanted to treat myself to a piece of jewellery I would never get tired of wearing (it was a big birthday), and pearl earrings seemed like a good choice.

And, these earrings are actually quite clever in the way they can be modified, For starters, there are two pieces; a hoop and a (pearl) drop. Just keep the hoop and wear a different drop every day if you like. Now, that's my kind of an earring... You see, I have a pretty bad nickel allergy, so I can't wear earrings made of  anything but gold or white gold. Which of course limits my choices quite a bit. But now I can just dangle any drop from the hoop without risking an allergic reaction. So far I've stuck with pearl drops (which I have in two sizes now that hubby treated me to these bigger pearl drops... isn't he the greatest?) because, well, I love pearls...

I'm wearing:
skirt: Gerry Weber / cardigan: Brora (old) / sleeveless top: KappAhl (old) / 
shoes: Clarks (old) / bag: Chanel /sunglasses: Coach

So, what do you think, do I look like I mean business?

Tiina
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PS: Have you seen the latest DILETTANTE ARTIST post? A rose by any name...

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Thursday, 5 November 2015

Dressing against body type

Wide-leg trousers...

Is that a look I can pull off? With a big, chunky cardi?

Well, according to fashion mags, this is the look that supposedly makes you look taller and slimmer, elongating your legs (especially if you wear heels).

cashmere cardigan

Sure it does. If you're tall and slim to begin with. 

But what if you're short and stumpy? Is this really the miracle outfit that makes a curvy girl with a big booty and short legs look like a supermodel?

Of course not: no outfit will do that. But if I find a pair of trousers that can accommodate my big booty and my thunder thighs and fit around my waist, I will buy it. You see, most trousers that fit around my hips have a gap big enough to fit two or three of me around the waist...

Chanel bag

But I'm not fooling myself: wide-leg trousers were not designed for a body like mine, and therefore it's not the most flattering outfit I could wear (If I wanted to dress with a wow effect, I'd wear a pencil skirt). But on a cold day I want something warmer, so trousers it is. I'll make it work.


I'm wearing:
cashmere cardigan: Brora (old) / trousers: Marks and Spencer / t-shirt: Mango jeans (old) / 
shoes: Clarks (old) / sunglasses: Dolce & Gabbana / bag: Chanel

Do you ever dress against body type?

Tiina
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PS: Have you seen the latest DILETTANTE ARTIST post? A rose by any name...

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Sunday, 1 November 2015

Going Retro: That 70's Vibe...

40+ denim skirt

This outfit has a bit of the 70's vibe

The A-line skirt, a plaid shirt tucked in... for some reason that reminds me of the 70's. Maybe because my mother used to wear a lot of A-line skirts back then. And I think I had more than one or two plaid shirts, too...

A-line skirt

As far as retro influences go, the 70's is probably not my preferred decade. First of all, having actually lived through it, there's always the danger of looking stuck in the past rather than referencing fashions past. And then of course, the 70's fashions are not the obvious choice for someone with an hourglass figure... But here we are, with a little nod to the 70's most subtle trends: denim, the A-line skirt and plaid.

denim skirt over 40

I'm wearing:
shirt: KappAhl / skirt: Cubus / trench: Burberry / shoes: Clarks / bag: Furla / sunglasses: Coach

How do you wear the 70's styles?

Tiina
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