We’re all dying on the inside

article-2281413-17BC00A2000005DC-517_634x432I have dyed my hair since I was in my early 20s. I’ve had yellow hair, black hair, red hair and accidental purple hair. I’ve used off the shelf store dye, I’ve used henna, and I’ve paid salon prices. I don’t even really remember what colour my hair is naturally.

My hair is self expression. I dye it to express myself. I have no ulterior motive. So the other day when making small talk with a store clerk about needing to get into my stylist I was shocked that she assumed I had grey to cover.

tumblr_inline_mmjdxp3hsl1qz4rgpGrey hair. To cover. Like an old lady.

Perhaps as response to my confused look she cheerfully and without any remorse quipped, “I assume that’s the case when women get to a certain age.”

I apparently am a “certain age”. That realization was a bit of a downer. I hadn’t really considered myself old in spite of the fact that I currently have three children in post secondary education. Or in spite of the fact that I recently broke down and got bifocal  glasses. Or in spite of the fact that a person born the year I graduated high school is right now having an existential crisis on the eve of a 30th birthday.

Meryl-Streep-in-The-Devil-014I drove home from what would otherwise have been a wonderful shopping adventure wondering if I had gone grey. Had I inadvertently been covering up a wonderful head of silver hair? Because I know that if I were to be grey, I would be fabulously grey. 

Now I have to know. I have to let my hair colour lapse. I don’t know how I am going to break the news to my stylist.

 

 

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My fashion is blowin’ in the wind

There are times I think – fashion be damned, I should gain 5lbs just for my own safety.
poppinsFor instance, on windy days.

In my home town you could knock me over with the weather on just about any day. Goodness knows the situation changes often enough that I can never feel safe letting my guard down or leaving my cardigan at home.

But the other day was the worst! I left the office at lunch for my usual Wednesday casual shopping. My work location is idyllic because the building sits on Jasper Avenue, close to shopping. I enjoy a weekly fashion filled 45 minute spree, and then I head back to the office.

From the boutiques my return route is west. West up Jasper avenue. Which, on the day in question, was against the wind.

into the windWalking into the wind was like wading through silly putty. I struggled my way up the street, walking forward with my entire tiny frame at a 45 degree angle to the pavement. I can’t say for certain if I was saved by the heft of my packages or the forgotten american coins in my purse but had I been 5 lbs lighter I would have had to hunker behind a bus shelter and ride the gale out.

Being small is hazardous. The risk of being overcome by the elements is tremendous, but it’s just one of the burdens of my petite stature I have to come to accept.

I count my blessings that I made it back to the office alive. I’m sure it isn’t the first time that my impulse shopping instincts have saved me. Next time, if I don’t find a perfect pair of shoes or a jacket to die for, I may not be so lucky.

blustery day

 

 

 

A shibboleth in red

redhead what have i doneLord help me, I am accidentally a redhead. It must be punishment from god for my vanity.

I was doing OK, letting my natural colour see daylight for the first time in two and a half decades. But then I spotted a grey hair and my world came crashing down around me. My stylist, my fabulous stylist…I though she could rescue me. But she has only been my stylist for 10 years. I learned 20 years ago that my hair is greedy for red. She did not know my hair 20 years ago. How could she know? Why did I not remember?

redhead youthI used to go red in my youth. It looked good then, I had the flawless ivory skin and the blue-green eyes that actually look good with red hair.

But now I’m 47 and I have rosacea, my skin is less ivory and more white, I have some fine lines, and my jaw line is starting to sag a bit. I look like a trope. You know that trope… the middle aged woman who goes flaming red in an attempt to convince the world and herself that she is still vibrantly alive.

old vivienne fashionistaTo pull off red hair after 45 you either have to actually be a redhead or be Vivienne Westwood – cos Vivienne don’t give a rats ass about aging. Vivienne Westwood is a redhead with chutzpah and redheadedness is her badge of non-conformity.

I, on the other hand, am the shibboleth of the aging western woman, pursuing youth at all costs, oblivious to her privileged place in the world. Ugh. I am not Vivienne Westwood. In fact, in a particularly ironic blow to my sense of self, my favourite Vivienne Westwood dress is pink, and one simply cannot wear pink as a redhead.

My darling, devoted husband is standing by me through this. He really is a gem. Our love can overcome this set back. Specifically, our love must overcome this set back before Feb 25th, which is when I fly to meet him at a convention in Las Vegas. Let’s be honest, going to Vegas in itself is a sad enough trope, and the cliche would only be compounded by showing up there looking like a redheaded cougar wannabe. I might as well just throw up my hands in resignation, buy some dresses with sequins, and play the slots until all the doctors come fetch their wives from the casino for dinner.

redhead pretenderSure, I could bravely take the opportunity of the Las Vegas age-postponing catch-phrase to pretend that I am still young, but it would most certainly come back to haunt me later.

redhead 20 yrs laterNo, I have to make this right. It has been two days and I have washed my hair seven times. If I can fade this colour to auburn then I can be a (possibly the only) dignified trophy wife in Las Vegas. I’m going to put on my favourite beret and head out to buy more shampoo now. Wish me luck. Otherwise I will be forced to spend the whole trip to Vegas in my hotel room. There’s no way my husband would enjoy that.

 

What do I do with a woolen blazer

woolen blazer

Winter is for wool. I love wool. Wool keeps me warm and looks great. I have wool scarves, wool socks, wool pants, wool hats and wool jackets. Why would I not love wool? Wool is both fashionable and practical at the same wonderful time. I can’t say a bad word about wool, really…

I don’t know if I’m trying to convince you or myself…

WHEN  WILL WINTER END? *sob*

I don’t know what to do anymore. Every January/February it’s the same desperate headlong collision between my fashionable better instincts and our inhospitable climate.

You won’t believe what I’m wearing right now (No, no that is not a multiple choice question):

Some tights, leggings, yoga pants, and track pants.  A camisole, t-shirt, hoodie, and a cardigan.  Some trouser socks, sweat socks, wool socks, and slippers.

cable-knit-leggings-2  flex-leggings-cyan-thumbnail   yoga pants track pants cami tshirt  hoodie  cardi trouser sock sweat sock wool sock slippers

I wish that this was a list of items in my online shopping cart. Sadly, the truth is I am wearing four layers in a  desperate bid to keep warm. I have a full dozen reasons to avoid being seen in public. It’s not funny and it’s not pretty.

I console myself by not leaving the house, but Monday morning I have a meeting. Outside the house. With other human beings. And I find myself staring at my closet trying to reconcile my desire to avoid frostbite with the desire to avoid a fashion faux pas. I need to look professional, but the extended weeks of dressing to cope have dulled my dressing for success instinct. I need to fall somewhere on the spectrum between ‘casual winter chic’ and ‘spring is never coming’.

So tell me, does this work?

whatcani dowithawoolenblazer

Because if it doesn’t work I only have three other blazers, six other skirts, five other pairs of tights in winter weight, and two other pairs of boots that I can mix and match with. The permutations of warmth are both daunting and depressing, and I don’t know when the thaw will finally come to save me.

Mid life crisis resolution

fashion hat pic

Happy first, first world problem post of 2016. I have high hopes for this new year, and an equally high credit card limit. I have resolved to begin the new year on a high note and in high fashion.

Which got me thinking, fashion is like any other of the journeys we take through life. It changes with us, and we can either choose the road less taken or be boring.

I look terrible in boring.

Nope. This is the time for the road less traveled. I am on the verge of beginning the dawn of a brand new day. I just have to embrace it and let go of my youth.

old fashionAge can be a blessing. When I was young I didn’t have the money or the confidence necessary to properly express myself through fashion. I blended. I played it safe. But I am older now. I have both money and confidence, in surplus.

VIvienne-Westwood-old fashionistaLet my husband buy the mid-life crisis sports car, I am going shoe shopping.

I am tearing a page out of the Vivienne Westwood book of fashion. I am going full throttle into dressing for success, no stopping, no slowing down, no fitting in with the background.

I started last month. I snagged these babies before they sold out:

wedge doc

This purchase is half reliving my youth, half living my future and a 100% heads up to my kids.

This may be my first of my mid life crisis fashion purchases, but it won’t be my last.

You’ve been warned.

old is the new black

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life’s little ups and downs

scarlett corset picAs I near the half century mark, I find that I have to work harder and call upon a formerly untapped reserve of discipline in order to weather life’s little ups and downs.

Before you say anything, I know it happens to us all. In fact, I am contently resigned to being a middle aged, happily married size 4.
After a certain age, we are all one blueberry scone
away from a new dress size.

blueberry sconeMy determination to flatten out the weight fluxuations is not a result of my body image. It’s more pragmatic than that.

I have a small (size 2-4) fortune invested in my clothes. My personal wardrobe; clothing, shoes and accessories; constitutes a significant investment. It also represents years of my life invested in honing my personal style.

IMG_20151101_015715  4 blog  3 blog  2 blog1 blog  IMG_20151103_174233  IMG_20151104_125042 IMG_20151031_202602 crop aaIMG_20151103_141929 IMG_20151102_235324 aaIMG_20151103_140844 IMG_20151101_010544 done5

Just 10 pounds could negate all that hard work and reduce the value of that investment to next to nothing. Ten pounds is dress size. If I gained weight I would have to replace all those clothes. Watching my weight is really the same as being frugal and responsible with my money.

I have a vision. A vision of myself in the fashion future. It requires discipline. So, while I make the lifestyle choice to skip that second cookie, I do so only to enable me to have the choice future lifestyle I deserve.

I know it’s harsh, but not everything worthwhile is easy.

fitted-dress-cookies

I don’t even know what is in or out of my closet anymore

Ugh. Being fashionable is so hard.

Just when I hit my groove and feel free and comfortable in my summer clothes suddenly the days grow dark and the air gets cold. In the blink of an eye the leaves fall and I have to venture back into my closet to reassess who I am.

trees no leavesI can feel like, with the death of the leaves, all colour drains and purpose from my life. But the truth is, it is just a trading of colours. Some changes are really only trade-offs.

For instance, I know that the only pretty pinks and pastels I will see for a while will be in the early sunset. Autumn brings the warmth of the earth tones, punctuated with a bright red, orange or dark green or blue. Autumn requires wool and corduroy, knits and layers. I like these colours. I have those clothes. They scream me, just me without catching a chill.

This would be all well and good if our autumns were more decisive and less prone to contradiction. The problem is that a crisp fall morning may call for boots, tights, corduroy skirts and an irish sweater, but then that same afternoon is better suited to bare legs, sandals and a breezy silk sheath dress.

Half the time I don’t know what in and what’s out of the closet, and where I stand as far as fashion goes. It makes it difficult to hold on to fashion inspiration.

I ransacked the closet and tried to pull together a few outfits, and began to get horribly depressed at how drab they were. Warm, fashionable of course, but lacking that Je ne sais pas.

outfit 2  outfit 5  outfit 6  outfit 7

I needed to insert a little flair, a little more warmth with my extra warm clothes.

outfit 1  outfit 4  outfit 3

I still didn’t feel that I was making a statement appropriate to me. I felt that the tans, greens, rusts and hints of blue were still too understated. I have never been accused of being understated. Then I remembered…!

blog giff

Thank goodness for red is all I can say. I can come back out of the closet again.

 

First world suitcase blues

I should be excited but I am an anxiety ridden mess.

We are about to embark on a two week long family vacation that will take us first to Iceland, then to London, England.

And I don’t know how I am supposed to pack for that.

On the first of the leg of the journey I have one extreme. Reykjavik tops out at about 15 degrees Celsius, and is not particularly urban. I will need to keep warm and be prepared for hiking. I can do that fairly fashionably with some leggings under a tunic, some luxurious sweaters, a beret,  lovely scarves and a pair of good ankle boots. Done and done.

On the second leg, I have super urbanity to deal with. London in August is ten or more degrees warmer than Reykjavík, and the heat will be on to get my look just right. Urban chic is my forte – this is not my fashion challenge.

I need to pack to accommodate both hiking along a desolate coast line and fitting in on the fashionable London streets. And knit caps don’t double as derby hats, you know?

Somehow I have to do it all without packing two separate suitcases. I have been very strictly informed that I actually do have a one bag limit. No negotiating for more space, no sneaking items into the boys’ bags. Ugh.

I’ll let you all know how it goes.

I’ll also report back on how strict the one suitcase policy is on the return, because I’m going to Harrods. After all, everyone knows that a princess is as a princess does and Harrods is the place for a princess.

Harrods, Knightsbridge

 

 

 

Election Budget Blues (and fashion budget orange)

The writ has been dropped, Canada. Which is great, I am a huge fan of democracy, but the timing is so inconvenient. This is going to be the longest election campaign in Canadian history. Seventy-seven full days of electioneering, baby kissing, hair and beard dissing, and definition of risk duelling.

When I saw the flurry of political tweets come in this morning I gasped. How am I going to deal with this many of days of politics? Do I have what I need to get me through to the bitter end or will I need to stretch my resources and deal with the constant fear that my closet will be empty before the race is over? I would hate the success or failure of my election fashion to be determined by budget constraints. After All, here in Alberta orange is trending. I feel it is my patriotic responsibility to see that trend expand across the country.

So, as the journalists and pundits struggled to foretell Canada’s future in 140 characters, I leapt out of bed and threw open my (new) armoire.

Never fear! I am fully fashion covered for entire the election cycle.

21 15 6 beckham 32 1822

I have several weeks worth of dresses from which to choose,

134 135 136 150 163 165 166

and will easily maintain my office fashion leadership.

47 56 58 66 69 75 76

I can switch it up and keep my image fresh as the situation evolves.

p1 p2 p3 sw1 sw2 sw3b11

I can mix and match and play up or down my strengths and weaknesses to make just the right impression.

t3  t8 t9 t10 t14 t15 t16

I am even all set for heading out into the cool fall weather, with outerwear:

a5 a11 a13 a16 a17 a18 a19

and cool weather accessories:

h1 h10 b11 b12 b13 b15 b16

I can even properly accessorize depending on what crowd I find myself in.

b2 b3 b4 b6 b8 b9 sun

And I will stand tall; footwear…check.

sh2 sh3 sh4 sh6 sh7 sh8 sh10

I am so relieved.

Crisis averted, I will not suffer the election BLUES.