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When Did ‘Comfortable’ Make the Top of my Fashion List?

27 Aug comfy


“Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.”
Coco Chanel

I grew up loving fashion. The bolder, the flashier, the better. I used to have at least three dozen pairs of candy colored heels in every height and toe shape. You wouldn’t find me in anything but heels. The fussier, the more high fashion, the better. The only flat shoes I owned were running shoes and rubber boots and you’d only find me in those at the gym and during a rainstorm.

So why now, at the age of 40, do I only want to buy oversized sweaters, jersey everything and the flattest of flat shoes and sandals possible?

I blame my Mother. When we’d go shopping together while I was growing up, she would pick me out clothing in a size or two bigger than I wanted to buy. I wanted things to fit snug and striking. She warned me that I would be uncomfortable. I didn’t care. Stuff that fit a bit loosely looked sloppy to me. I wanted to look like I just stepped out of a Vogue editorial. She once told me, “Someday you’ll prioritize comfort. You are the only one that you should be pleasing with your fashion choices.”

And she was right.

It took a few decades, but slowly the uber fitted clothing stopped feeling natural to me. I enjoyed being able to move and lounge in my clothes. It no longer felt sloppy to wear something that was loosely fitted. It felt good. The clothes I bought that were high-style would hang in my closet while I wore the comfy outfits over and over again.

And the closet full of high heels I loved? Slowly they went to consignment and the Salvation Army and were replaced with Tom’s and loafers and the flattest of flat sandals I wear religiously. Sure, I still look longingly at those strappy, sexy stilettos, but as soon as I think of wearing them, my feet ache. I still have a few pair of dress heels, but they only come out occasionally and I always carry a backup pair of ballet flats.

I name my heeled shoes by their time-wearing tolerance. I have 2-hour and 4-hour heels. I bought a stunning pair of white platform heels a few months back. They were a work of art. Completely architectural and sexy. When I put them on in the store, I temporarily forgot my penchant for comfort. Plus, they were on sale. So I bought them and dressed up that evening to hit the town with a girlfriend.

These once-worn works of art just got tossed into the Salvation Army pile. I call them Shredders for what they did to my feet for that 2 hours I wore them that night.

As I type this, I’m happily donning a jersey striped knee-length shift dress. I could wear this dress every single day. It stretches with me and I never have to tug at it or adjust it or loosen it. And I certainly don’t feel the instant need to rip it off when I get home. Sure, it’s a bit ‘dowdy’ compared with my younger standards, but I don’t have to think about it. In fact, my favorite outfits are the ones that I don’t have to think about at all. I don’t feel zippers or scratchy fabrics or linings that have shifted or hems that are climbing. I just wear them and feel…comfortable.

I guess that’s part of the ‘getting wiser with age’ bit. What my Mom was trying to tell me was that wearing something uncomfortable doesn’t make me a more interesting person. I make me a more interesting person and as long as I’m wearing something I feel comfortable with, I can focus on the good stuff I offer. When I’m not thinking about what I’m wearing, I free up my mind to think about being the best me I can be.

Thanks Mom. And in the timeless words of my favorite fashionista:

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”
Coco Chanel

My First Haul Video

17 Mar

I’ve been consuming haul videos for a while now…they are an interesting phenomenon: incredibly popular accounts of a shopping spree done on video. Usually by a 20 something or a teen and quite often they cover a trip to the mall.

My haul is a bit different. I definitely didn’t spend hours on my hair and makeup (maybe I should have?) and I’m pushing 40 instead of in my early 20′s. But I was compelled to make it because of the surprisingly great finds I bought from Simons*.

I had fun making it and I think I’ll have even more fun wearing my new finds. It isn’t very often these days that I get to go on a spree.  :)

* Full disclosure, Simons sent me a gift certificate, but they didn’t ask me to follow up with a video or a post or anything. In fact, I get stuff like this all of the time and rarely feel compelled (I’m on some sort of Canadian fashion influencers list…which is funny, but awesome).

Stuff I’m Fed Up With: Boys will be Boys

30 Jan

The other night, I was cruising through the Netflix tv series catalogue, trying to find something to watch. We just finished all of the seasons of Breaking Bad and had started watching season 2 of Californication, but the thought of those shows and other shows were just making me grumpy. I turned to my boyfriend and said:

“Frankly, I’m sick to death of watching irresponsible men as the central plot. Why don’t women get to get away with being irresponsible?”

And so I thought I’d try out Weeds. This seemed promising. Drug pushing suburban mom. But no…she was pretty sensible for a drug dealer. How about Nurse Jackie? Oddly enough, the drug addicted, philandering nurse is doing some pretty awesome work. It seems that even women who behave badly are, at base, incredibly solid. The only exception to this rule I can think of are my favorite duo: Patsy and Edina as AbFab. Drunken, irresponsible, shallow, selfish…everything most women aren’t portrayed as in mainstream movies and tv.

But I’ve always been miffed by the way the male population is pretty much given a free pass on bad behavior from the time they are young. “Boys will be boys,” is the lame excuse I heard muttered time and again from mothers. Blew up the garage? Haha. Boys will be boys. Got in a fist fight? Oh my. Boys will be boys. The same behavior from a young woman is still not tolerated in the same way.

And it continues through life. I often hear stuff like “a man needs his man cave” and other eye rollers for grown men. People excuse the inability for a man to be able to find laundry soap in his own cupboards because his wife or girlfriend takes care of that stuff. Meanwhile, women are taking on the same responsibilities outside the home while we remain stewards of the home. Breaking Bad was a series that started out promising and slowly turned me into a Walter-hater. I cheered a little each time Skyler, who is brilliant and badass herself but wasn’t given near enough of a role in the show, acted out. Still, she held everything together at the end of the day.

One particular scene I could watch over and over (sorry for any spoilers) was in Season 4 when Walter decides to buy their teenage son a sports car and Skyler tells him to bring it back because it would draw too much attention. Her words echoed my frustration at that very moment:

“Once again, he’ll blame his bitch mother for taking away what his loving father gave to him. Thanks for that. But you know what, Walt? Someone has to protect this family from the man who protects this family.”

I think it was the only time in the whole series I cheered out loud. A quick check online shows that Skyler’s character is highly UNpopular for many of the fans of the show. I know why. She keeps stopping the fun. That’s the big rub in all of this. Not only are the women expected to clean up the mess left behind from their irresponsible, reckless men, but they also get labeled buzzkills and bitches when they complain about it.

I’ve listened to the stereotype of the man who ‘settles down’ and is both taken care of by a woman and ‘whipped’ by a woman all of my life. Why is growing up a bad thing? Why do men get to rest on some sort of biological imperative to act out while women who act out are characterized as out of control wrecks (see Lindsay Lohan, Tara Reid, etc)? It’s not super natural for me to be the responsible one, but I’m judged more harshly when that truth comes out. A bad father is a bad father. A bad mother is a bad person.

This deserves more than a post, but I wanted to rant it out a bit before too long. If there is any reason that women get angry at men, I think this may be at the root of it.

I’m fortunate to have a man in my life who doesn’t see responsibility as something that is against his nature. I think we’d both agree that he is the more responsible one of the two of us. At times, he gets resentful about my lack of attention to the home and living and I need to step up and contribute. He has every right to resent my blase attitude towards the basics. It puts more pressure on him to take care of things. We need to share responsibility. That is the only way that both of us will be able to thrive. Boys will NOT be boys. Girls will NOT be girls. We all have needs and one gender isn’t more deserving than the other.

Let’s not be irresponsible at the cost of the people who love us.

What are YOU Looking For? (survey)

21 Oct

With the Fall here, Halloween in a few weeks and the holidays right around the corner, what is on YOUR list of stuff you are looking for? For example, I’m looking for a new black handbag and would love help. We want to get a sense of what types of things people are searching for right now. You never know…we may even be able to help you! (give some details)

I’ve invited you to fill out the form What are YOU looking for?. To fill it out, visit:

Being Stylish on a(n ACTUAL) Budget

20 Oct

I always love those fashion blogs that claim they are written for the ‘budget conscious’ girl. Sure, if your budget is about $1000/month for clothes! My budget is NOT $1000/month. Hell, it’s probably more like $150/month (if that). I’m a startup co-founder. Which means I’m lucky if I make $20,000 a year working 100 hour weeks right now (I’m banking on a big exit someday that will pay off… ;)).

But I also like to be on top of fashion trends. And I don’t have time to sift through Goodwill and second hand stores. I do subscribe to A LOT of flash sales and daily deals, but sometimes I have something specific in mind and when I do, I never seem to get the flash sales to satisfy the urge.

With this in mind, I just posted my Top 5 Must-Haves for this season. And guess what? I can probably get every one of them with my shopping sense. What the heck? Fur? Leather? Capes? Hats? Red boots? How?! Let me tell you how:

I never spend on a trend.

Which means that I will never spend over a certain amount of money on something that is a must-have for a season that I won’t wear past a season. I also don’t want to buy crap that is made in a country that exploits women’s labor. So how do I do this?

#1. Go to ETSY!!!

I heart with every fibre of my being. Sure, there is a lot of stuff on there that is way expensive. It should be. People are making a living and putting a LOT of work into their creations. But there are also quite a few newer designers that are trying to get themselves established. Those are the Etsy stores I go to. I bought this amazing Cowl Neck Pocket Tunic Dress from Emily Ryan‘s store last year for $30 less than she is selling it for now. With a designer label on it, she could sell it for 5x this price. It’s an amazing dress. Flattering. comfortable. Versatile. Great to pack. I’ll have this one for a while.

$124 is not chump change, but it is better than department store prices and you get to support a small business in North America.

#2. Shop Last Season Stores

In Canada, we have Winners. In the US, it’s TJ Maxx. In Europe, it’s  TK Maxx. There are other chains and stores that do something similar. There are 10 fashion ‘drops’ per year where the designers try to sell out their lines into retailers/distributors. Winners, TJ Maxx, TK Maxx and all of those awesome flash sale sites you subscribe to get the leftovers! That means it isn’t really last season’s clothes. It’s just a few months or even weeks behind what the department stores would get.

The only caveat here is that going through a Winners is a LOT like having to go through a second hand store. It takes serious time. And you don’t get the planetary benefits of buying used. However, you DO get the fashion benefits of potentially finding that amazing faux fur handbag for $40 instead of $400 when the faux fur handbags are still hot to wear.

#3. Be Patient

This is my hardest lesson. I’ll find that perfect something that is WAY out of my price range and feel that I need it right now, so I spend my entire year’s budget on it only to find it’s exact replica popping up at H&M a month later for $20. Many of these stores: H&M, Forever 21, Zara, BEDO, etc. are in the business of knocking off really great fashion quickly. Now…I don’t want to spend all of my money at these stores because I’m afraid the way they are able to sell stuff to me so cheaply is because they use bad labor practices, but the occasional Leather Dress or other piece that would otherwise break my bank can’t hurt…right?

#4. Spend More on Staples That Last

So no matter what we say about ‘classic’ clothing, nothing really looks good forever. We either wear it out, or it looks outdated (even jeans or blazers) after about 5 years. But think about pieces you can mix and match as something you can stretch out quite far. A black v-neck sweater, a turtle neck, skinny jeans (even if they go out of style, good ones can be worn under long sweaters), a good pair of winter boots, leather gloves, scarves, strappy sandals, shift dress…all of these pieces can last for a decade. And my tailor is my best bud. Hemline too long? Baggy? Waistline too high? Take it to your tailor. He or she will update it for $20-30.

#5. Make a List

What ‘MUST YOU HAVE’ versus, “OMG…that is SO cute!”?

That’s why I make a list of the season’s staples. I don’t buy anything else unless it is a killer deal. I think about what I already have and how I want to put together my wardrobe for the next 4 months and I whittle it down to 5-8 items that I feel will present me as up-to-date fashionable while fitting in with last year’s pieces as much as possible. And then I set a budget for each that I stick within.

Then I take my time, use my patience and shop around to find the best deal for the best quality on each item. So far, I’ve found my leather leggings (Club Monaco $129 – my budget was $125), my fedora (street vendor $5 – my budget was $25) and my cape/sweater (Winners – big, floppy sweater $29.99 – my budget was $75). I am combining 3 months of clothing budget into 1 because I’m buying for the season.

Overall budget: $450

1. Colorful boots – $150
2. Fun handbag – $50
3. Leather leggings – $125 – actual – $130
4. Fedora – $25 – actual – $5
5. Cape – $100 – actual – $30

…because I bought myself a bonus (the leather dress at Bedo) for $120, but I’ve saved $85 on the other items, I may want to skip the fun handbag or look harder for a better deal on the colorful boots (though I really love the Tsubo’s that are a bit out of my budget). Or, I could give myself a break and, because I had NO money last season to do any shopping, I could let that leather dress slip and say I can spring for the Tsubo’s.😉 But in my case, as well as many others right now, it’s not as light hearted as ‘oh well’. Going over budget means I take it out of basic living. Which means a pair of red boots can signify I don’t go to any restaurants, movies or events all month.:/

So I remind myself that the world won’t end without getting everything on my list. Nor will anyone notice but me.

At the end of the day, even though I love fashion, it is a luxury not a necessity. And though I love shopping, sometimes the pursuit is more satisfying than the purchase. Or at least that is what I’m telling myself while I’m on a budget.

So…how do you keep yourself reigned in? Do you stick to a budget? Or go wild until your credit cards are declined?


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