La Bella Figura Revisited & Ended

October 19th, 2012 7 comments

I honestly don’t know if a single soul still reads this blog. At one point, I had so many lovely readers, a few of whom I have been lucky enough to meet in person  (I’m talking to you, Phyllis) and count as real friends. Lately, my thoughts have been turning to style again so I thought I would end this blog with a final post.

You see, I recently realized that I have a style. I like it. I am satisfied with it.

I realized this when I recently brainstormed on how to raise some money needed for my writing. I realized that I am so utterly completely satisfied with my style that I don’t even think about it anymore. I just reach into my closet and pull out something and it all matches and it all makes me FEEL great.

I have finally realized it is how I FEEL in something that matters. As I mentioned, this big realization came when I started looking at selling some of the more (ridiculously) expensive items in my wardrobe to raise money for my writing project.

I realized that I outgrew the designer items, which I had coveted, saved and scrimped for, and now had. Specifically, my Givenchy Nightingale handbag, which is absurdly expensive in my book. I had an ephiphany: while I loved the way others looked carrying the bag, I didn’t like myself carrying it. It didn’t suit me. At all. Up for sale. Even though I am endlessly complimented on this bag, it just doesn’t SUIT ME. It will be terrific for someone else.

Then, I took a hard look at my Fiorentini + Baker eternity boots. Again, numerous compliments on these silly expensive boots. They make me feel like an action figure when I wear them, like I could kick ass any second. However, they are not that flattering to my style or my figure. In fact, for some reason when I have a choice of what boots to wear I inevitably pull on my much cheaper, but awesome Frye boots. Those SUIT me. Eternity boots – up for sale!

See, what I came to realize is that I LOVED the IDEA of those two items. They are exquisitely crafted, gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, as art items. Not suited for my style. The handbag is the softest most gorgeous leather ever. Fine craftmanship. A work of art. Same with the boots. I could sit and look at them all day long. They are gorgeous. But they don’t suit me.

Gone. Both of them.

Instead, I feel like I have found a new, effortless chic style. One that screams nonchalance. One that always feels JUST right. One that feels complete even though it only hangs on 23 hangers.

Finally. I’ve achieved that feeling of effortless chic I’ve sought for so long. I finally am comfortable in my skin, as the French say (in French, however the heck you say that — I’m not going to bother looking it up right now.) This feeling has completely stripped me of the desire to shop or buy anything new. It is such a feeling of freedom. So, that’s where I am at and why I stopped blogging here. I think I will end this blog with these thoughts and some photos that have inspired me and my style, which summed up is all about jeans, straight leg or skinny, deep-cut tees, blazers, boots and large scarves. I also am crazy about bracelets and cuffs, long, messy hair and smudgy black eye makeup.

WINNER

May 6th, 2011 8 comments

A from My French Corner won the drawing for a bracelet from Art Leather.
I can’t wait to hear if she loves it as much as I love mine.
I have a deep brown and a red leather one and I wear one of them every day. My sole piece of jewelry. I love them.

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Art Leather GIVEAWAY!!!!

April 29th, 2011 6 comments

I am excited to announce that Andrea from Art Leather wants to give away one of her awesome bracelets.

If you leave a comment between now and next Friday, I will pick a name out of a hat and you can go to Andrea’s etsy store, pick out the bracelet of your choice and she will mail it to you from Belgium. Be sure to leave an email with your comment so I can contact the winner. I believe she will be adding even more colors to choose from next week.

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Yet another argument for Quality over Quantity

March 13th, 2011 15 comments

i am shamelessly reposting this from Dead Fluerette this morning because it resounded so strongly for me.
The original article ran in the Vancouver Sun.
I hope it’s not TOO annoying, but I bolded the parts that spoke to me and reflect my philosophies.

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The same way we’ve forgotten how to save our pennies, we’ve forgotten how to invest in our wardrobes. For the past decade and more, we’ve been on a reckless spend-o-rama, maxing out our credit cards with cheap, chic, disposable fast fashion.

But now — with rising concerns about the economy, the environment and worker exploitation in developing countries, not to mention a season of temptingly timeless modern classics — investment dressing is chic again.

Good thing, too. All those cheap Prada knock-offs were not only clogging up the landfills, they were overflowing the closets in our tiny condos, too.

The investment dressing trend is major news all over, according to everyone from the editors of fashion magazines to tastemakers like Holt Renfrew fashion director Barbara Atkin, to the designers themselves and right on up to politicians.

Just last week, England’s House of Lords’ Science and Technology Committee released a report that condemned cheap and chic insta-fashion, calling it “costly and socially unacceptable.”

The report pointed out that clothes from retailers like Britain’s uber-popular Primark and Top Shop are so cheap that there is no incentive to repair them, or even to hand them down or recycle them. And that, they say, is just wasteful.

Of course, the Brits aren’t the only ones who have been revelling in a frenzy of cut-price poly blends. International chains like Spain’s Zara and Sweden’s H&M have conquered the retail world by not only knocking off designer duds minutes after they appear on the runway, but completely restocking their stores with brand new fashions every two weeks or so.

That’s right: Where once there were two fashion cycles a year (spring and fall), now there are two a month. When clothes are this cheap, why not?

The thing is, when a dress costs only $20 or a pair of jeans is a mere $15, someone is paying full price for it, even if it isn’t you.

That someone is typically a garment worker in a developing country like, say, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka. There, millions of people — most of them women and children — work brutally long hours sewing clothes in squalid situations for less than $10 a week, which may be the legal minimum wage, but it’s not exactly a livable one. That’s all manufacturers can afford to pay, though, if they want to keep prices as low as customers demand.

The other way clothing companies keep costs down is to use cheap fabrics, typically energy-wasteful cotton or non-biodegradable synthetics. Producing these fabrics can create massive amounts of pollution — especially in regions with lax environmental standards.

Admittedly, it can be easy to forget about conditions half a world away when you’re looking at an adorable blouse that costs little more than your morning latte. To bring the harsh reality home, consider this: A closet crammed with cheap, disposable clothes is more expensive than a wardrobe of well-made, long-wearing classics.

It comes down to the cost-per-wear formula. Take the cost of your garment, divide it by the number of times you wear it and that’s what its actual value is.

For instance, a $20 top you wear once has a $20 cost per wear. A $500 jacket you wear every week for a year has a $10 cost per wear. The better value? The $500 jacket. Besides, those inexpensive garments just don’t last — which is why, back in the day, fashion guidebooks always used to say that women on a budget can’t afford to buy cheap clothes. That’s definitely something to consider given the current economic meltdown.

Something else worth considering: One of the reasons we all fell for fast fashion in the first place was to express our personalities through our clothes. Ironically, all we’ve managed to accomplish is looking like everyone else out there.

We’ve also devalued the very designers and labels we’ve been ripping off.

Given all that, it should come as no surprise that there has been a backlash against all this gross over-consumption of clothing. Just as fast food inspired the slow food movement, so has fast fashion inspired a new “slow fashion” movement that encourages shoppers to buy locally produced, ethically made, high-quality clothing that will last more than one season.

In fact, that’s how the world’s most stylish women have always shopped.

French and Italian women don’t buy a lot of fast fashion; instead, they are famous for having a few well-made basics that they update with well-chosen accessories. They look inside North American women’s closets and wonder how on earth we manage to dress ourselves with so much junk. Men don’t typically buy a lot of fast fashion either. Instead, they often expect to get a decade’s wear out of a coat or suit, so it has to be top quality — and that’s why menswear stores offer expensive, beautifully made clothes and complimentary tailoring.

Meanwhile, we women have been dressing ourselves in nasty, flimsy, scratchy, badly made and ill-fitting clothes, all for the sake of being on top of a trend that lasts about two minutes.

Sure, we want to have fun with fashion, and fast fashion can definitely be fun. And it’s great for teens, who are still trying on new styles to learn what suits them best and have small allowances to pay for it in any case. But for the rest of us, shouldn’t we know better by now? Shouldn’t fashion be a bit more luxurious than this? Shouldn’t it make us feel good? Shouldn’t it be, well, nicer?

Luckily for all of us, this fall is all about beautiful, modern, updated classics, the kind of clothes you’ll want to wear for a good, long time. Atkin calls it “stealth wealth,” clothing that is elegant and carefully crafted, but doesn’t shout its pedigree with all-over logos and bling.

And yes, it can be expensive, but maybe it’s time to bring back another outmoded concept: the idea of actually saving up to buy something special instead of racking up more debt on a whim.

This is a great season to begin investing in your wardrobe again. It’s a great season to invest in the building blocks of a timeless wardrobe, in luxurious fabrics, beautiful colours and flattering fits. It’s a great season to invest in creating your own unique style, and not following the same trends everyone else is.

It is, in short, a great season to invest in you.

(Credit: http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/arts/story.html?id=0f2af413-2e6f-4df0-80d8-aa2be4d704cd)

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Art Leather – my latest obsession

March 9th, 2011 8 comments

I’m in love. This leather jewelry from the gorgeous and talented Andrea Renee Terhaar is my latest lust. I was at the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis this past weekend and fell head over heels with this artist’s leather jewelry. Andrea’s business is Art Leather. She’s local to the Twin Cities, but moving to Belgium soon, lucky girl. So you can buy her fabulous jewelry at her etsy shop, which is on hiatus and should be up and running again in a few weeks. Her Etsy shop ships international so be sure to bookmark it and check back later.

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Le leather

February 25th, 2011 30 comments

I’m not sure what has gotten into me where I have resumed outfit posts (two days in a row after six months without nary a one?)
I had leather pants 10 years ago that I wore faithfully and adored and then tossed after I had kids thinking I was too old for them now. Then I went for a drink with the lovely Aesthetic Alterations and she had on gorgeous leather pants. She is younger than me, but it made me wonder if I could pull them off at my age. What sealed the deal on the frigidly cold day we met was when she told me they were probably the warmest thing in her wardrobe. Bingo.

PS In case you are wondering, these were on super secret clearance at the thrift store … love my local thrift store! They are butter soft and don’t appear as if they were ever worn.

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bella casa

February 9th, 2011 7 comments
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Blue Velvet

January 18th, 2011 10 comments

The incomparable Isabella

Do any of you have a color and a fabric that sums you up?

I do.

It has always been, and it will always be, Blue Velvet.

I have owned some version of a navy blue velvet blazer for the past 25 years.

I love the movie Blue Velvet and definitely went through a David Lynch phase. But that’s not why blue velvet speaks to me so poignantly.To me, blue velvet says Paris in the 20s. It says Greenwich Village in the 30s. It says pernod and absinthe. It says Henry and June Miller. It speaks of dimly lit dance halls and bustling cafes filled with artists and writers.  It evokes romance, sensuality and mystery to me.

What fabric and color speaks to you?

Similar to my New Year's Eve Dress

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Sofia Coppola

January 15th, 2011 6 comments

 

It’s been a few months since I mentioned the incomparable Sofia, so in honor of gearing up to go see her new movie, Somewhere, here ya go:

“You`re considered superficial and silly if you are interested in fashion, but I think you can be substantial and still be interested in frivolity.” – Sofia Coppola

 

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Just Kids

December 29th, 2010 2 comments

I started this book last night and am blown away.

It is beatifully written and I am becoming obsessed with Robert Mapplethorpe. How did I live this long on earth without truly appreciating this artist?

www.mapplethorpe.org

www.mapplethorpe.org

www.mapplethorpe.org

www.mapplethorpe.org

www.mapplethorpe.org

www.mapplethorpe.org

www.mapplethorpe.org

www.mapplethorpe.org

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What is it about those Italian women? You know the ones I’m talking about: beautiful, sexy, dressed to the nines just to take the kids to the park. They have a certain something that is indefinable. It is in the way they dress, the way they prepare their meals, the way they spend their leisure time.

It is because they know the importance of la bella figura. Roughly translated from Italian, it means putting you best foot forward in everything you do. It means cutting a beautiful figura. The opposite of la bella figura is la brutta figura, which is what someone might say about the falling down drunken guy at the party or the super tackily dressed woman at church. It means ugly figure.

La bella figura is much more than your appearance. It goes much deeper than that. It is about how you act. It is about how you treat others. It is about how you care for yourself, your home and your family. Living a life in line with la bella figura doesn’t take money. In fact, it is more about how to have class without a lot of money.

Someone who exudes la bella figura will have clean, pressed clothes and be well groomed. They will not be rude or sloppy. Their fingernails will be impeccably groomed. Their hair shiny and clean and their shoes will be polished. They will not have stray threads hanging from their suit hems. They will not be driving a car in need of the car wash.

La bella figura means driving that 15 year old car and meticulously cleaning it and caring for it. It means keeping your belongings in good repair. It means taking time to clean your house and not cluttering it up with meaningless objects.

When you focus all your spare energy, time and money on the things that bring you the most amount of pleasure, then you are truly living a life in line with la bella figura. The best part about it is that you don’t have to be Italian to do so. You just have to think like an Italian.

Italian children are raised to present la bella figura in whatever they do. From the time they are small and are groomed perfectly to attend church or school, they know that appearances count. They count because it is the first thing people judge about you. That first impression does matter. Appearances are also important because when you take the time to look nice, you are showing that you care about yourself. When you care enough to look good, it shows you have good healthy self esteem. Nothing is more attractive than self confidence.

In addition, dressing nice also shows respect for others. If you invite people over for dinner and greet them in flip flops, baggy sweats and a stained shirt, it is really disrespectful to them. The same if you dress sloppy to go to church or even to the market. By dressing nicely and being well groomed, you show respect for everyone in your world.

Having la bella figura means presenting yourself in the best light possible in all your interactions.