Building a Lifestyle Change Wardrobe~

When I worked as a professional woman, I easily indulged my passion for fashion on a daily basis. Career wear was my number one, and most favorite, fashion investment. I had two closets teeming with dresses, suits, shoes and bags of the finest quality I could afford. I thrived on changing up jewelry and scarves, and mixing and matching, and my style spoke to my career almost as much as my actual work did. I loved career fashion as much as business administration. I was in my element.

 
Then came ‘The Change’. After a long and devastating illness, and years in an environment riddled with harassment, Mr. LucyLoves and I made the decision that I would walk away. I would have to put myself first if I was going to live life to the fullest. That meant not only the loss of identity associated with years of a stellar career serving sweaters yes.jpgothers, but also the loss of my fashion identity. I didn’t realize at the time that I’d be losing more of myself than expected on my journey to a better life. Obviously the first and most important obstacles were to heal and recover, in body, mind and spirit. Then I had to figure out a new budget and how to live with a lot less money while conserving my resources. Fashion was the least of my worries. Or so I thought.

 
It is my earnest belief that a true fashionista is born, not made. Yes, you can develop your own personal style and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I wish more people today would do it. But to truly be in love with types and plies of fabric, with the drape of various cuts, with the flow that different patterns give to the figure is an art form that we are born with. Like the painter or potter who finds love in texture and shape, the fashionista is a born artist. And losing the ability to engage in making our art on a daily basis leaves us at a loss. What to do?

 
simple dresses.jpgI was not used to this ‘casual’ life that I now lead. I didn’t know how to be happy in jeans and a tee shirt, roaming around the house and barn. I missed deciding which shoes to wear on any given day. My blood supply was being strangled and I didn’t know where to go for a transfusion.

 
After a long year of health recovery, I finally decided to face the studio that were my closets. I opened the doors to the A-lines and silks that had been hanging on racks without a wear for months. And I started to purge. I went through every piece, enjoyed the colors, the textures and the memories. And then I started the piles. I organized by type of clothing and by size, and set aside specific piles for special people, whom I knew would at least appreciate them. When I got to my shoe racks, I hesitated and I left several more pairs behind than I should have, but a girl has to draw the line somewhere. Once I had finished, I put out a call to family, friends and associates looking for women in my size range who might be in need or want of professional attire. And then I said ‘goodbye’. Those few things I couldn’t rehome on my own went to a local charity where I’m sure they eventually found a new body. I closed the doors on two closets and had maintained what I would wear for months to come in less than one. It left me with mixed emotions but I let the joy overcome the loss, knowing that there was new life for my old art. I just had to find it.

 
lux layers yes.jpgAfter nearly three years of figuring out what a casual lifestyle would mean for me, I am finally enjoying shopping and wearing clothing again. Not the clothing I spent a career indulging in, but in new clothing that suits me, in the here and now. It was hard at first to find joy, let alone elation, in putting together a style that included more jeans and button downs than skirts and gabardine jackets. I was like an oil painter finding herself in watercolor class. The form was still beautiful but I had to figure out the medium.

 
The first challenge was getting used to casual styles for the activities that I now engage in. For the most part, I still spend most of my days at home, unless I’m temping or volunteering for someone. My ‘dress up’ activities usually include museum or concert events with hubby, or lunch dates with friends and the occasional girl’s weekend. I want to look polished, include the things I love in my appearance, like favorite pieces of jewelry, but still blend in with the vibe of the event. Getting used to dressing in a ‘casual’ fashion as a new art form was indeed a new medium for me.

 

Once I found clothing ideas I liked, the next challenge was finding new stores and departments to shop in. Some of the old standby’s still offered options, like J Crew and Nordstrom’s of course. Madewell still puts up the occasional silk blouse and lovely soft sweaters that work as well with jeans as with dress pants and heels. I can still indulge in boots but now prefer low heals over high and my favorite riding boot company makes just the perfect pair.

 
After I found locations to shop, I started going more regularly again and just looking at what they had to offer without necessarily buying anything. I started putting together pictures in my mind of how certain items I already had would mesh with new things that simple resort.jpgI was beginning to like. Staples remain the same, such as layering tees and socks but I now find myself naturally gravitating to more prints and less structured knits than when I was suiting up for professional career demands.

 
At last, after nearly three years sans work life, I am enjoying shopping, and dressing, once again. In fact, I now have a hard time walking away from something I like, which I frequently have to do because I just don’t need that many items of clothing anymore. I can’t possibly wear all of the things I have bought this past year on a regular basis to get my money’s worth and I don’t want to spend too much on clothing that will end up spending most of its life on a hanger. Scaling back on the number of items I purchase is my current bane. If I like it, I like it. What can I say? But quality over quantity is still my motto and buying something only to leave it to hang in a closet is of no use to me. Or to my checkbook.

 
Finally, I am enjoying indulging in fashion again. I look forward to my lunch dates and my museum trips, my holiday events and weekends away. And yes, vacations! Traveling is one of the best parts of this retirement life. And with the new stash in my closet, I can pack for any get-away and love every minute of it. tops yes.jpg

 
Whatever you wear, wherever you go, live a beautiful life.

Advertisements

PACIFICA NAIL ENAMEL~

Now that I live the life of a retiree, I usually wear my nails bare or manicured in a neutral shade. But the holidays call for special treatment and this Pacifica Nail Enamel in Red Velvet served me well over the Christmas season and again on my Valentine’s Day date. I’ll no doubt enjoy it for those pending summer pedicures as well.

 
nails 3.jpgWhen I do indulge in a colorful manicure these days, I tend to be lulled by the shimmery variety and Red Velvet has the perfect touch of glimmer for a dress up occasion. My Pacifica polishes glide on smooth and streak-free and two coats is perfect. As long wearing as more expensive brands, Pacifica is both affordable and cruelty-free which, as always, is a must in my makeup book.

 
If you haven’t given Pacific nail enamel a try, check one out when you are in the market for a new color.

 
As always, live a beautiful life.nail color.jpg

SURVIVING FASHION’S FALL~

It looks like fashion is dead. At least, it seems it’s dying in the year 2018. As someone who has spent a life loving fashion, the industry has left me and many others, sadly disappointed. OK, so fashion is not one of the key ingredients necessary for life. We don’t need silk dresses or cashmere coats to survive. A variety of choices in our closet may not fulfill our basic human needs, but fashion certainly brought joy and happiness to those lady-walking-with-shopping-bag-1633923of us who loved the art for art’s sake. Searching through the departments at Nordstrom or Saks, feeling the fineness of the fabrics, exploring the craftsmanship of detailed seaming or manually soled shoes was equivalent to spending a day in a museum exploring the gifts of the world’s greatest painters and sculptors. Fashion was art in our daily lives. So, what has happened to it?

 
Fashion has told the story of each generation for hundreds of years. It has spoken for the generations through famine and war, and prosperity and growth. Fashion adapted itself to the times and people of all walks of life could indulge in fashion not only as a means of clothing oneself for public display, but as a way to reveal and express a bit about their shopping-1625988own personality. You could read a lot about a person who wears a minimal wardrobe of all black and the person who fills their closet with vibrant designs in an array of patterns and hues. Fashion has been an art form for individuals to speak without saying a word. To tell the world his or her story. To indulge in a fluid art that we adapted each day, for every occasion. Alas, it seems we have entered a period in time when fashion is no longer a valuable means of expression.

 
Until the current age of electronic media that has all but pillaged print media, fashion aficionados would flock to newsstands every month to pick up the latest issue of the all-important fashion bible, Vogue. Then we’d pile on Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, and maybe a Lord & Taylor catalogue. Half the fun of living a fashionable life was pouring over the glossy ads, coated in the latest fragrance insert, imagining all we could do with our fashion-3-1412440favorite picks of the season. We’d budget and save and maybe even go into debt for our coveted ‘must have’ pieces. Getting dressed in the morning, especially on a day we debuted a new sought-after addition to our wardrobe, was a joyful event. Looking at the outfits our fashion mania friends and coworkers indulged in made us just as happy. Fashion was a way of life for us. And now it’s 2018.

 
Today when I go to do my grocery shopping, I am far more likely to see folks walking about in flannel pajama bottoms and suede slipper loafers than in the latest skirt or shirt from the runway. Even when I visit a venue where one would expect the public to make a bit of an effort, such as a museum or the theatre, it is far more common to see the same old jeans and Ugg boots on everyone who walks by than a unique silk dress or even a neck tie. The day of people taking pride in their appearance, regardless of their penchant for the current fashion, seems to have died. Young people have no interest in indulging in finely crafted leather goods when they can spend that money on the latest smart phone or gadget. When it was once ‘cool’ to sport the latest star-athlete endorsed running shoe on campus, it is now far more ‘in’ to show off the latest laptop or video console. Appearance is no longer a sign of wealth or even respect for oneself. Designer labels 136852754seem to be lost on everyone under the age of 40. Those young folks who do take an interest in ‘trends’ are more intrigued by the fast fashion rubbish endorsed by the latest reality star than in the fine craftsmanship and design of a creatively, professionally trained designer. While our grandmothers fought for the freedom for women to wear pants without a negative connotation attached to them, today’s young women seem to have shunned that article of clothing altogether in favor of the gawd-awful legging found everywhere from outlet malls to discount stores. Because apparently, real pants with a button and zipper are too hard to put on. While pajamas were once a staple of the cozy evening at home, they are now considered by many to be ‘casual’ day wear. And those of us who worship the art of fashion are sickened.

 
shopping-1428081Today I no longer have a professional career and I long ago donated the majority of my career wardrobe to family and friends. I am free to spend my days in easy, comfortable clothing but I still respect the art of dressing and the impact it has on how I am viewed. I love myself and I find fashion is still a big part of the impression I make on others, despite not going out nearly as often. While I am now more likely to be found in a pair of cords or jeans wearing a cotton shirt or cashmere pullover, there is still love in what I wrap my body in. Finding beautiful casual clothing however, even on a more minimally purchased schedule, is not as easy as it used to be, thanks to the onslaught of online, fast-fashion shoppers who apparently don’t give a thought as to how they appear to others.

 
The middle-class meccas of Nordstrom and Sak’s Fifth Avenue, as well as more moderately priced Macy’s and J.C. Penney’s, are struggling to survive despite repeated efforts to compete with online and fast fashion shopping venues such as Amazon and H&M. Why spend $75.00 on a pair of name-brand pajamas at an after-Christmas sale to wear to Wal-Mart when you can order them in bulk from Amazon and have pull-on pants to last for a week? Why invest $150.00 in a pair of Stuart Weitzman loafers when one can buy a pair of knock offs for a fraction of the price at a local outlet mall? The girl-1429099younger generations in particular seem to have no allegiance to fine quality and long-life investments in their closet. Who loses? Everyone does. The designers, manufacturer’s and retail stores are making less money as the consumer repeatedly purchases cheaper products both in terms of quality and price, from fewer providers who are consuming the majority of the profits. That leaves minimal options for those of us who love fashion as an investment in art to enrich our daily personal lives. Quality is harder to find and more expensive when we do.

 
Those of us who love fashion as art, who appreciate the effort put into enjoying the beauty and the quality of real fashion, are sadly disappointed in modern society’s waning interest in maintaining a truly fashionable lifestyle. But as our society becomes less interested in growing, prospering achieving and preserving the American dream, and more content to ‘settle’ with a life of mediocrity, fashion will remain stagnate and have much less to offer those of us of fashionably discerning taste. And what a shame for future generations to come. Indeed, we are on the verge of losing a truly beautiful art form.158889253

 

Images courtesy freeimages.com

 

A CASUAL HOLIDAY OUTFIT~jjill

Finding casual outfits that are comfortable and chic can be a challenge but I was lucky to stumble upon this pretty ensemble while strolling through one of my favorite shopping meccas this fall. It’s perfect for low key holiday occasions and well beyond, as the season turns to the long winter.

 
While I am not at all a fan of leggings, these looser fitting, slim leg, heavy-weight knit slacks from jjill are just the ticket for casual comfort and style. You will stay cozy and look far more put together than any pair of leggings could ever make you appear. Top it off with a festive cotton sweater in a holiday color, add a few jeweled baubles and you are set for a day of gift giving and family games or a quiet dinner date by the fire at your favorite pub.

insert.jpg
The pretty spruce green can serve as a neutral to pair with other colors as well, and either piece can be easily adapted into other outfits with different separates you no doubt own. I’ve shopped at jjill on a few occasions over the past couple of years and have found a couple of clothing items I have enjoyed. Their niche is casual clothing in primarily solid colors, that mix and match as well as travel well. While pants are always a very difficult find for me, this particular pair of knit pull-ons fits better than most. Paired with a pretty sweater or a silk blouse, they are dressier than jeans or cords but not so formal as to feel ‘too dressy’. The cotton sweater is a mid-weight yarn with a bit of a loose cut that would allow you slip on a lightweight tee underneath if you need a bit of added warmth.
Regardless of what you wear for your holiday festivities, live a beautiful life!

 

PANTS THAT F.I.T.~l.l.bean

I abhor stretch denim. You know, those ‘jeans’ that contain lycra, that stick to you like…well…paste? They are hot in the summer and provide no warmth in the winter. Midway through the day, they are sagging in all the wrong places. When you stand up, your pants don’t stand with you. Yep. Stretch denim. Ugh. Yet, we are nearly forced into wearing them. Over the past six or so years, I found one all-cotton, Wrangler jean on the market that I pay top dollar for, in order to have ‘barn jeans’ and as of two years ago, they were redesigned with a ‘stretch’ waistband. And they still don’t fit. What ever happened to old-fashioned Levi’s made of 100% denim? Jeans that got softer and more naturally faded as the years wore on? Those beloved jeans that stayed in our closet for years on end? It’s no wonder the women of the world have resorted to leggings as ‘pants’. pants cover.jpg

Yesterday, Mr. LucyLoves and I went to one of our favorite shopping meccas on the quest for pants—any style pants—for yours truly. Now, pants have always been a challenge because while I have a slim figure, I have always carried what weight I do have in my hips and derriere. This means to get pants to fit in the ‘bottom’, the legs and waist always ran a bit loose. Easy enough to deal with—wear a belt. But today it seems pants are made in one width, from top to bottom. Not only do I have a ‘little’ extra room in the waist but I could fit an entire second body into the waistband with me! Even those hard to find ‘drawstring’ summer linen trousers I long for to take on vacations are no slimmer in the waistline than anything else on the rack. What’s with that? Why on earth do clothing manufacturers think we are all one width, from head to toe? Despite knowing a few ladies with a little extra around the middle, very few of us have a belly the width of our arse. I’m sure it’s exasperating for the majority of us. Thus, the fascination with the absolutely horrendous leggings. In my humble opinion, leggings are not pants. And yes, that is my opinion. Leggings do nothing to accentuate the positives of a gal’s figure and go above and beyond at showing every aspect that one would probably be better off to conceal after about the age of 27.

pants inset 2.jpgAfter five hours of searching and trying on every pair of pants in 11 different stores, we went to lunch. While we waited twenty minutes for our table, we decided to look at what other women were wearing. Of the 24 ladies in all age groups who passed by, all but three were wearing leggings. THREE! One very elderly woman was in sweat pants and another senior aged lady was in a pair of nylon slacks that she has probably owned since the ‘70’s. The third gal, middle aged, was rather tomboyish, dressed in a hoodie and what looked like a pair of her husband’s jeans. Probably because she can’t find any gal’s jeans to fit. Admittedly, a handful of those legging clad dames looked great. The teens with their stylish ponchos and Hunter boots. The two-middle aged, made-up, ladies who obviously lunch in their tasteful Eileen Fischer tunics. I get that. I can even see the point of the pregnant mom chasing her two toddlers in leggings and an oversized parka. Understood. But everyone else? Let’s just say I have seen better looking attire on sweat-laden women at the gym. And much less of some things I didn’t care to see.     

As our search continued, Mr. LucyLoves wanted to go into L. L. Bean to search for a new winter jacket and he suggested I head to the ladies’ section to look for, what else, pants. I snickered, thinking they couldn’t possibly have anything that anyone else didn’t have but off I went, to waste some time while he shopped in coats. When what did appear before my wandering eyes but…could it be…COTTON jeans? Well, no, they were the usual stretch denim variety that everyone else pedals. But hanging next to them were casually styled corduroy pants. No, they couldn’t possibly fit any better than jeans and I was exhausted from changing in and out of my clothes already. Sigh. I had time to spend so I grabbed a few pair in three different sizes and headed for the changing room. OK, no luck. Then I saw another pair on the way out of the changing room that I hadn’t pants inset 6.jpgpreviously noticed so I went to take a look. Sigh again. An elastic backed waistband. “Well”, I said to myself, “how much worse can that be than leggings?” So off I went again to the changing room, armed with yet more corduroy, ‘relaxed fit jean’ style pants. When I zipped up the first pair, I nearly fainted! I was sure I grabbed on to the handle bar on the wall! Fit? Fit. FIT! The angels broke out in a rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ that was so loud, I feared I would be ejected from the store!

I did not walk, I ran to the nearest sales associate to ask if they had these pants in other colors. “Only two I’m afraid, but I do have more in different styles,” she replied. “No, I want THESE” and she broke out laughing, then informing me that they were one of their best sellers. I told her that while I was not a fan of the elastic backed waist I would take as many colors as were available and that’s when she told me she wished she’d had more because they were flying out of the store. It seems there are a multitude of women in all age groups looking for pants that actually fit, without the Lycra assistance. This lovely young thing also reassured me that the elastic waistband, while looking rather ‘dowdy’ was not deterring even younger gals from their phenomenal cut and, as people are used to complete elastic waist leggings, no one seems to care as they are covered by a top anyway. Best of all, no belt required!

I asked about other pants for those of us gals with a bigger behind and a tiny waste and she pointed me to L.L.Bean’s version of the straight-leg fitting winter legging—a heavy knit pant that can double as a casual date night trouser or slacks with a blazer for a more professional look. I had my doubts but she assured me I would not be disappointed. Bring on the second near faint. Not only did they fit my body, but they curved in to hug my waist and the length was long enough for a mid-heal boot but not too long for a low winter shoe. I don’t think I have ever been so overjoyed by a shopping find in my entire life. Even a new designer handbag purchase that I had saved for months to buy wasn’t as thrilling. I felt an elation like no other.

pants inset 4.jpgI no sooner dressed, bundled up my find and headed out of the dressing room when Mr. LucyLoves came wandering over. He asked me if I had any luck and I handed him four pair of pants. I kid you not, his jaw hit the cold tile floor. “They fit? They really fit?”
“Yes, babe, they really fit”.
“She’ll take one in every color.”

pants inset 3.jpg

Live a beautiful life!

 

 

A WARDROBE UPDATE~my purchases from Germany

Three weeks in Germany gave me the opportunity to pop into a few stores and shops that we don’t find here in the US. While I avoided beauty stores, knowing full well that we all have access to the same brands and products, the same cannot be said for fashion. And while I didn’t spend an extra ordinate amount of time shopping, I did make an effort to pick up these finds that I knew I wouldn’t have access to at home, as well as to treat my family to a few goodies.

My first and most expensive gift to myself was this Joop! satchel. I was walking the streets of Munich and IMG_20170809_113108happened upon this little handbag store that sold German as well as high end international brands when I saw this lovely little bag in the window. I liked the size, color and cheerful butterflies adorning the front of the bag. Little did I know that the B&B we stayed in the following week would have a room decorated in pretty yellow butterflies and it was my favorite of all our accommodations. Now I will always think of our stay there every time I carry this bag.

A few times I walked passed a Hallhuber store and admired a flower print on several pieces on display.  On my third trip past a store, I finally ducked inside. I immediately spotted this floral and bird print silky tee shirt which reminded me oIMG_20170809_112857.jpgf the vibrant gardens we visited on a couple of our walking tours. The array of vivid colors will make this a very versatile piece to have in my closet.

And of course, I couldn’t leave without something that was reminiscent of the beautiful rose print dress I kept admiring on the mannequin but didn’t think I would make enough use of to purchase for myself, considering the price. Instead I picked up the scarf from the same collection which I will no doubt wear a great deal. I also browsed their sale area and found this lovely navy-blue silk print scarf that matched the skirt and top I happened to be wearing that day.IMG_20170809_112545

Mr. LucyLoves and I are both admirers of pretty minerals so we made a special trip to visit a few stores specializing in mineral artworks and jewelry. In one of them I purchased this pair of lovely green stone drop earrings for myself, as well as a similar pair for my sister. The color reminds me of the rich greens of the wine regions we traveled and myIMG_20170809_112647 sister’s pair will look stunning next to her red hair.

Because my oldest niece is enamored with purple, I browsed the jewelry store windows in search of a purple stone for her and in so doing I stumbled across this pair of smoky quartz drop earrings that I fell in love with. I like smoky quartz for the simple reason that the color reminds me of the pretty brown coat on my horse’s body and this pair will keep him near and dear every time I wear them.

And that was the extend of my personal shopping while in Germany and more than enough to update my personal style for quite a while considering I no longer work and enjoy a life of lush leisure. The other items Mr. LucyLoves and I purchased for ourselves were books, tapestry pillows and souvenir tea towels. We IMG_20170809_112118were far too busy enjoying ourselves to think about shopping for any specific items but we are quite pleased with the few purchases we did make, all of which will remind of us our trip of a lifetime.

IMG_20170809_112203I hope you are enjoying your own travel experiences this summer and finding your own little gems to brighten your daily fashion life. I’d love to see what you have added to your own wardrobe during this travel season. As always, live a beautiful life.

 

Fab Winter Fashion Finds+1!

As my birthday falls in January, and we just celebrated Valentine’s Day, I was blnew hat 1.jpgessed with a few particularly nice winter fashion treats that I am really enjoying these last several weeks.  Despite the unseasonably warm weather, I still love winter fashions and enjoy dressing to go out in the winter months.

My first find is this Barbour faux fur, water repellent hat that hubby and I discovered in a sporting goods shop in one of our favorite local village communities.  Warm and snugly soft, this hat keeps me nice and cozy while being timelessly fashionable as well.  I have wanted a hat like this for ages and it seems this was my lucky year.  While the top of the hat is a dark green water repellent wax cloth, so little is visible that it is just as easy to wear with a dress coat as with a casual jacket.

Another ‘keep warm’ staple that I added to my winter wardrobe this year are my practical snow boots by Sorel.  Snow can pile up here in Northeast Ohio very quickly and while dress boots arereceived_778331269001558.png nice, keeping my feet warm and dry take priority over fashion when heading out with Mr. LucyLoves or the girls for a snowy day outing.  I wear these water-tight, above ankle boots with jeans to walk the dog, go to lunch and even dinner on weekends during the blustery months.  Sorel makes a variety of stylish yet practical winter boots in different colors and heights to suit snowy and rainy weather needs.

This also seems to be the year for earrings for me.  Hubby and I found stone earrings studs.jpgthis pair of hand crafted, Druzy stone stud earrings set in 14k gold at a gift and home shop in the same local village where we found the Barbour hat.  Depending on the light, these sparkly gems appear light to medium gray, gray blue and even lavender toned.  These are sure to be a staple in my now casual wardrobe for years to come.

For Valentine’s Day, Mr. LucyLoves gave me these Kendra Scott fire opalfire opal earrings.jpg earrings.   I had spotted them near the New Year on a visit to Nordstrom’s and had been eyeing them since.  This is my first jewelry item from this American brand and if these beauties are any indication of the quality of the KS jewelry line, I am sure these will not be my last.  Pretty with a simple t-shirt or a cocktail dress, this pair is a stunning addition to my jewelry collection.

As usual, in addition to scouting out winter fashions, I am voraciously reading this winter, mostly to complete my mission of finishing the Deborah Crombie mystery series featuring Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Dunkin Kincaid.  But I am also reading some other fiction and non-fiction finds, including A Dog’s Purpose by WOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA. Bruce Cameron.   I am midway through and have been enjoying every minute.

And in order to read all that fine print, my aging vision requires a little magnifying so there are always reading glasses around our house, in our cars, in my handbags and totes, you name it.  I picked up this pretty pair in purple and green check plaid, reminding me of the colors of a spring garden, at a kiosk in my favorite shopping mall.  Unfortunately, I could find no name brand listed inside but I will look for them again when I visit this particular shopping location.  For $16.00 these are a great buy, made of durable plastic with spring hinged temples that rival the quality of the plastic eye wear sold at my glasses.jpgoptometrist’s office.

As winter winds down and wet, dreary early spring weather is not far away, I will continue to appreciate my cold winter finds in the weeks to come.  I would love to hear what fun fashion forward finds you have come across this winter season that you are loving as well.

GOOD VIBES!

It is hard to stay positive with all the negativity we are exposed to everyday, which is compounded by 24 hour news coverage and multiple social media outlets.  Many of us are just plain tired of the constant barrage of ugly political ads, reports of terrorism overseas and at home and the unbelievable gun violence we experience routinely in this nation.  But I for one refuse to allow these vile people and events to have one moment of my joy.  I will continue to shine a beautiful light and share what I can with you, while enjoying the happiness in your life that you share with me.  And here are a few of the lovely goods I have been enjoying the past couple of weeks…

Yes to Tomatoes Facial Scrub

yes-to-tomatoesAs a middle age woman who experiences those wonderful hormonal changes on a regular basis, I still occasionally wake up to one of those pesky little spots on my chin or forehead that always seem to appear just before the weekend or a big event.  I find a daily shot of salicylic acid in combination with my nightly retinol is usually enough to show these little annoyances just who the boss of this body is and Yes to Tomatoes just does the trick, without being over drying.  Cruelty free and American made, I am hooked.

Merona cotton T shirts from Targett-shirts

These soft and tag free t-shirts in a variety of prints and colors are perfect for casual days or career wear layering.  Short or long sleeved, we can all afford at least a few of these lovelies to toss on with jeans or under a suit jacket for a chic and flattering look.  I love to snuggle in these softies and enjoy adding a new color or two to my drawer every season.

Holiday Craft Fairs

While I hate to rush the holidays and much prefer to enjoy one event at a time, craft fairs are popping up all around our nation in anticipation of Christmas although we have yet to celebrate our Thanksgiving feast.  Nonetheless, these events are wonderful venues for local artisans to share their works and offer great finds for holiday decorating and gift giving.  I use craft fairs as a venue to sell jewelry and my sister sells handmade handbags and beautiful painted furnishings.  This gives us the opportunity to show off and share our talents, earn a little extra money and pick up delightfully handcrafted pieces to share with others.  From holiday ornaments to handmade soaps to locally sourced honey and syrup, craft fairs are a fun way to spend a day and support your local culture.

What could be better on a cold fall day than to put your best face forward snuggled in a comfy outfit while shopping for unique treasures with a friend or sibling?  Give it a try and see if you discover a great find to brighten your own day and keep your spirits high.  And as always, shine on!

 

 

 

SIGNATURE JEWELRY!

Everyone needs a statement piece of jewelry, that one piece that you are known for.  For engagement ring.jpgme, it has been the fifteen stone sapphire and diamond engagement ring that has graced my finger for nearly 30 years.  But alas, years of riding horses and typing at the keyboard have left me with a few swollen and disjointed knuckles making it impossible for me to wear more than one ring at a time.  So I alternate between those in my collection and enjoy other favorite pieces as often as I can.

Earrings

You absoluteearrings.jpgly cannot go wrong with a pair of diamond stud earrings.  Appropriate for any occasion, they are a must have in my jewelry wardrobe.  But a great pair of birthstone or other favorite gemstone stud earrings can be just as versatile and attention grabbing.

Necklacessecretariat.jpg

I also love necklaces, my favorite being the shorter variety. Last year when we vacationed in Kentucky to attend the 2015 Breeder’s Cup, hubby treated me to the sterling silver Jane Heart Secretariat toggle necklace.  This is a weighty, substantial piece that draws attention and attracts compliments every time I wear it.

Bracelets

I am not a bracelet gal, primarily because finding bracelets small enough to fit my very small wrist is quite the challenge.  But I found this glass bead art deco style bracelet while visiting one of my favorite community Main Streets last summer.  It is perfect on my small wrist and stands out in the crowd.

Broaches

pegasus pin.jpgI have always loved a broach or pin and when I was engaged in my professional career, I wore one almost daily.  I also like to wear a bold broach on the collars of my winter coats and I adore the antique sterling horse broach hubby found in an antique cabinet in a local gift shop.  Although my equine buddy seems to have had one leg amputated, no one else seems any the wiser and he still makes for a great conversation starter.

Jewelry is something I love because it can be worn with any outfit, at any time.  And it need not be expensive to look pretty.  You can wear the simplest dress to a formal occasion and make it look like a million bucks by incorporating some jewelry into the mix.  A casual affair need not be so dull when you toss on a piece that makes you smile.  And jewelry is a great way to keep memories close when you look down at that bracelet or touch your ear and remember where you were when you received that particular piece.  Jewelry incorporates art into your everyday life and it gives others something pretty to look at, too.  So share your bits and baubles and shine on!

EMBRACING A CASUAL LIFE!

This week I did my fall closet clean out.  But it was not just any clean out.  I consolidated two closets into one and boy, do I feel accomplished!  After leaving behind a professional career over a year ago, I tired of opening my closet doors to pull out the few items I actually wear these days, while my suits and career wear stared out at me from their hangers:  jackets and dresses, skirts and shirts, which I have not put on in over a year.  Yes, a year.

Now that I have settled into a part-time grunt work life and am spending more time doing things I love, I no longer need the beloved silk suits and wool dresses of my past life.  As much as I adored those things, they no longer serve a purpose for me.  They were going to waste.  And so I decided to do something about it.

full-closet

I spent several hours one day just pulling everything out of my closets.  I looked over each item, decided if I could make use of it now, and set the rest aside.  Those lovely dresses and blazers still have so much life and some woman out there can really benefit from them in a way that I no longer do.  There were items that do fit my current lifestyle, I just needed to think about them in a different light and put them with the other casual pieces that have become my mid-life uniform.  Most days I am in a t-shirt and capris or jeans and a hoodie.  I wear walking shoes most often as opposed to heals and I have not worn a two piece suit since the day I walked out on my old office.  But I can dress up a pair of my favorite jeans with my navy wool blazer and one of my much loved silk scarfs for dinner out with my hubby.  And I still may want to pop on a dress now and again for church on Sunday or Christmas Eve dinner.  But I certainly do not need the wardrobe I had spent years acquiring to work in a professional business environment that is no longer part of my life. So, out it went.

messy-white-closet

Over two days I de-cluttered.  I set aside all those things that do not lend themselves to this casual rural life and then I gently set them aside into three large piles. Much of it will go to my sister-in-law who is still engaged in a professional career and the rest will then be delivered to a local charity.  From there, I began to reorganize the pieces that will work with my new life and I assembled them into a workable order in one closet.  A half dozen silk and cotton shirts that will pair well with jeans; three easy-to-wear, skirts for days on the town; five favorite dresses that can be jazzed up or toned down.  I have two pair of pants and two pair of jeans, five pair of casual capris and about a dozen t-shirts, both long and short sleeves left in my stash.  A dozen sweaters remain as well as my scarf collection.  Shoes and handbags were the hardest things to consider parting with because I have always had a special love for them, so I decided to just leave them be for now.  I will see how I might incorporate them into a casual life as I really begin to live differently moving forward.  I will make a conscientious effort to incorporate all of them into my new life wardrobe and we will see how I feel about them come spring time clean out.  Sometimes it takes baby steps.

clean white closet.jpg

I know, I can hear the hoarders now…”What happens if you go back to an office environment” or, “What if you decide you really want to wear that vertical check dress you loved so much again”?  What if I do?  If I ever decide to return to a somewhat professional work environment it will be easy enough to dress up what I have for an appropriate look.  And I can still add to my wardrobe any time just as I did for the last thirty years of my adult life.  I refuse to hold on to the old just because I invested in it and loved it in years gone by.  I am in a new year now and I am a new me.  And now I have an entire empty closet in which to try something brand new.  I am thinking perhaps a new vanity station.  Hmmmm…