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.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bug’s end

I’m a gardener. It’s so zen. Just watching the grounds keeping crew mow and weed and water melts away my stress. I particularly like to experience my gardening from my deck under the delicate shade of the leaves of my large potted citrus and fig trees, with an americano in one hand and a charcuterie plate next to me.

I am fortunate to maintain some of that zen feeling into winter by moving those wonderful potted plants indoors to my art room/office. The zen though, it doesn’t extend to every part of the indoor gardening experience.

fixed garden spiderLike the other day I reached over to my mouse pad and touched a spider. He scuttled across the table to safety. Which I suppose is better than me getting spider squish on my palms. It was traumatising.

I joked it off though… posted some very witty comments about whether the arachnid invader now knows all my passwords.

It’s what I do. I try to turn lemons into lemonade, to turn tragedy into life experience.

One time tragedy averted is comedy gold. Two times it is harder to spin it as my life’s comedic relief.

Just now a crane fly darted across my screen, briefly alighting on it then flitting away. Have you ever seen a  crane fly? They are freaking terrifying.

I know this happens because I bring in my outdoor potted trees to overwinter in my art room. These creatures stow away. garden office

I bring nature indoors because it enhances my quality of life. A bug here and there is part of the outdoor-in trade off.

For instance; that ladybug hanging out on the lemon tree? She can stay on that lemon tree.ladybug

The little white garden spider that came in on the fuschia? He can continue to hang out on the fuschia. He does not, however, get open run of the house, and my mouse pad is definitely off limits.

CraneFlySidingonNaturalCrooksDotComI draw the line at the crane fly. The crane fly just needs to die. Sorry, I know that seems harsh. But insects that fly around like out of control drunk weird alien life forms bouncing off my computer screen then grazing my hair are my limit.

 

 

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.

 

All arts and no plan make me a dull girl

It’s a mixed blessing to live in an urban environment with a strong arts and cultural scene.

I have my laptop in front of me and my calendar open in one tab, with 27 another tabs open to potential arts experiences.

Even worse, I know as the arts season progresses I will be adding movies (I am especially fond of art house and classic films) and seasonal special events.

In a 29th tab, I have the Avenue Magazine list of Edmonton’s best restaurants open.

Now the real work begins. I have to match events with restaurants.

I have to consider locations – can we get from restaurant to event in a reasonable amount of time? I don’t want to rush a good meal.

I have to consider complimentariness – some concerts beg for beer, symphonies require champagne. Some theatre is enhanced by a good scotch, other events are strictly a soda play.

This is not easy.

It must be so much easier to be a flannel wearing, bud loving, fire pit sitting, TV watching regular person. But simple tastes are not my fate, I have to accept my sophistication as my cross to bear.

Tchaikovsky and Bistro Praha

 

What would you say is a good wine pairing with a musical about the British expulsion of the Acadians? Pinot Noir?

 

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

 

 

 

The cost of contentment

I recently had to go shopping for a dress for my middle son’s high school graduation. Usually shopping is easy for me. I am a pro after all.

So, I cheerfully headed to the mall. I said a chipper hello to the shopgirls in my favourite store. (Naively as it turns out) I picked out a few frocks and skipped back to the fitting room.

Burberry, as the conservative choice.

burberry

Nanette Lepore as the traditionally feminine possibility.

lepore

 Vivienne Westwood because… well, because Vivienne Westwood.

v westwood

Victoria Beckham for a more modern option.

beckham

And Marni because I think I should wear Marni.

marni

Imagine my shock when I got into the fitting room with my size 40 dress and discovered I couldn’t do the zipper up. My sales girl cheerfully brought me a size 42 but didn’t seem to fully grasp why I was not thrilled at the stroke of luck that they indeed had a larger size in the back room, and were able to accommodate my bulk.

OMG

Size 42?

How has this happened?

I bought the dress. Porky or not, I still needed a dress. Next I had to make a pit stop at the lingerie shop for some spanx. SPANX. I bought spanx. Needless to say, I was a touch forlorn when I arrived home to my doting husband.

To make it even worse, he got his hopes up when he saw the lingerie bag.

When, later that same evening, I was able to speak about the ordeal – standing next to our bed wrapped in my robe attempting to discreetly slip my Rubenesque figure under the covers without showing any bloated fleshy bits – my husband just laughed it off. He pulled me close and wrapped his arms around my rolly polly waist and declared he knew this would happen. “A happy woman always gains a few pounds,” he said, “I take your dress size as a compliment.” He called it the happiness premium.

rubens body type

What is that? What happiness? What, the joy at now being the proud owner of shapewear? Shamewear. I used to have my own shape, now I have to squeeze myself into a shape shifting device, put on a brave face and pretend my figure is my own.

I feel betrayed by my contentment.

 

 

I am a woman with two problems …

Darcysfirstworldproblems

This spring has been a busy time for crafting first impressions and I have had to overcome a significant hurdle to my ability to do so with elegance, expediency and efficiency.

First, I was transferred to a new office at the beginning of May. In my last office I set a high bar. As testament to my success one particularly astute colleague took to referring to me as an elegant bag lady. Amazing how some people just get me right away.

Being keenly aware of how important is to maintain my fashionista momentum, I spent the long weekend before my first day going through the closet and pulling together outfits.

  • Skirt-top-cardi-mules-necklace
  • Dress-cardi-kitten heels-earrings
  • Slacks-blouse-cardi-pumps-earrings…

Skirt-top-cardi-mules-necklace Dress-cardi-kitten heels-earrings Slacks-blouse-cardi-pumps-earrings

It was a fabulous way to spend a spring afternoon. I got 8 unique and fashionable outfits put together – then I had to stop.

Second, Alberta called an election. To show solidarity with my political party of choice I laboured to put together a string of stunning orange outfits. I had a lot to work with because, well, because I just have a lot of clothes to work with:

  • 6 orange dresses
  • 5 five orange tops and summer sweaters
  • 4 orange cardigans
  • 3 pairs of orange shoes
  • 2 orange skirts
  • and 1 orange scarf

orange wave

I started putting them together with accessories in affiliated colours. I didn’t even get past the dresses before I had to halt political panolpoly progress.

Why stop you ask? I was enjoying myself. I was getting organized. I was expressing my feelings and using my creative skills. Why stop? Because I had no place to hang my outfits. I literally RAN OUT OF ROOM to pull myself together. It was terribly sad.

This is a recurring theme in my life. Just when I hit my stride and feel able to express myself as a creative human being, the limits and parameters imposed on me by chance and circumstance appear. My closet was clearly designed by a person who envisioned nothing more than hanging 6 of the same white permanent press shirts and 6 pairs of pants in shades of charcoal.

Currently my clothes are packed together in a closets with no air, no freedom to move on the rod and no where to meet their true match. Every morning I face the daunting task of pulling together an outfit in a rush and sans caffeine.

But SOON this will be no more! Last night I went online and ordered a beautiful armoire for my bedroom.

armoire

I hope when it arrives all my fashionable problems with be over.