Thursday, 28 July 2016

Image: the main secrets

In any area of image, we need to know exactly what it is that we want. If it is how we look...then, exactly how do we want to look, realistically. If it is our weight, it could be about wanting to look good in a swimsuit, or be a particular size. For our health, we might, for example, want to be able to walk, run, bike, swim, etc, a certain distance. Or, we might look messy, & want to look tidier. Or to be more organised. There are many possibilities.

The next step is: what are we willing to do on a daily or regular basis, to be, have, achieve, our goal? It helps to make a list. Obviously, if we want to get to our goal quite easily, we shall have to start somewhere. Sometimes I think that we forget that there is always a start point, & an achieved point. Then that is followed by maintaining the achieved point.

If the start point is A, & the end point is B....what are we prepared to do, what can we actually do in our life, to get to that point B? Whatever it is, & it can be a few, or many, things, these are what we can do, are prepared to do, & they are the very things that keep us on our course towards point B. And when we veer off the path, as one does (!), our "things" that we were doing, are what we can return to, to resume our journey to point B.

It doesn't matter what it is we are working towards, this will work for us all.

And we can work out little sign-posts along the way from A to B. For example, looking good in a swimsuit might entail some food changes & some exercise. The exercise could be walking & light weights. So for a food list, what about starting with: drink 2 litres of water each day; each slowly & enjoy your food; eat at regular times. Then more can be added as the first suggestions become established in your life. We could start walking for 10 -15 minutes a time, & adding 5 minutes each week, until we are walking for the length of time that we have available. 2 -3 x a week we could do what was in the previous post, starting with maybe 8 repetitions of each exercise, adding a few more repetitions each week until we can do 2 lots of 10 repetitions. The next step would be to add some baked bean cans as weights, or water bottles.

A sign post in this case would be, for example, walking 20 minutes, then 25, then 30. Another sign post could be going down a clothing size. Choose the sign posts that matter to you, that mean something, that tell you that you are getting towards your goal.

Make everything do-able, that is truly one of the secrets. One of the biggest, yet seemingly most trivial things that I've ever done to reduce stress & be more organised, is to get my clothes ready the night before. Yes, so trite, but what a difference it has made to my mornings. I swear that it takes less than a minute the night before....but it took way longer in the mornings. I am a double libran, & having to make choices like "what to wear?" in the mornings as I headed off to work, etc, it was overwhelming & stressful. At night I am too tired to be so libran, & I just get it done.

So, today we are looking at knowing exactly what we want to do, in any area. That we need a realistic start point A, a finish point B. What to do that is do-able in our life, to get there. What would be our sign posts to let us know that we are progressing? This simple system has worked for me with many things, from business to gardening to health. Many years ago I went to Weight Watchers, & they had a little booklet where you put star stickers each time you achieved a sign post. I didn't understand it at the time, which may have been one of the reasons that I was a serial failure at WW.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Image: exercise

I was talking to a friend last night who was undergoing an image overhaul. And I just thought that it would be colours, clothes styles, that sort of thing. But no. It was more. Listening to my friend tell me one or two things that she had to start with, I thought that it would be fun to do it too. Basically we are looking at our life, so it's not just one's appearance.

The first thing to do is, do some exercise everyday. So here, we can be looking at anything from going to the gym everyday, to going for a walk, doing some yoga or callisthenics. The list of possibilities is actually quite big!

I worked in gyms for years, teaching yoga, & I certainly learnt a lot from the people (nearly all ladies) who came to the classes. Now I do know that you need time & space to do a lot of exercise, & many of these women either didn't "work" (ie have an official job) or were retired. So going to the gym each day was easier for them. However, one of the most inspirational ladies, ever, whom I taught, was 80. I asked her about her fitness, & she replied that she didn't do much anymore. She was going to a ladies only gym everyday except sunday, for a fitness class, & of course the classes varied from yoga to pilates to bootcamp to keep fit. She had a 30 minute walk on the treadmill  beforehand. Not much!!! My goodness, it was heaps. She looked amazing, & could do more difficult poses than many of the others in the class. And her diet was just as "regulated" & automatic. Prior to all this, she had run everyday, for years, & done callisthenics. Whenever I feel lazy...which can be often...I think of this woman. She honestly had kept her figure after childbirth decades prior, & maintained it.

One of my friends had kids, a job, a home, her own garden, so had very little free time. She is a gardener by trade, so is very strong & fit. Each evening she was doing elbow planks & side elbow planks for her abdominals & some yoga salute to the sun.  Yes, I know. Massive guilt reading this.

I met an older woman who was trying a fitted jeans in the most trendy of jeans shops. She got 1 skin tight pair to wear around her husband (very cute idea!) & another, less tight one, for the weekend. She walked every single morning for about 40 minutes. And had for years.

I had always only ever done yoga, ever since my mid 20s, & it wasn't the full-on stretch & hold for a long time, type. Nor was it strenuous. It had always been adequate until my mid forties. I didn't need to do much walking or anything else. But the time had come where I knew that I needed something extra for body tone. Joanne came to stay. She had a totally killer body. Of course, I wanted to know how she got it: 10 minutes, 1st thing every morning, using cans of baked beans, or even no weights, body tone exercise. Each exercise was done 20 x, so to fit it all into 10 minutes, she would have been moving fast. Totally the opposite to yoga. I had to work this out in my head, I was so unused to anything like this. Plies with toes turned out & squats, for legs & buttocks. There was a side leg lift for outer thighs but this is not an area that I need to worry about so I skipped that. Crunches combining bust exercise: have your arms by the sides of your chest & as you crunch up you bring your arms up & cross them at the wrist. Triceps kickbacks & pushups. I mean, really, how hard is all that? I can tell you that it really works, & I only ever did each exercise 10 x, & probably slower than Joanne.

Then there is a woman whom I taught in a gym, for years. She came once a week for an hour yoga class. It was her easy workout each week. Every other day, 1st thing, she would walk, run, swim, lift weights, she varied it, & had a routine with her husband whereby one would be getting kids ready for school whilst the other exercised, then they would swop over so that the other could then do their fitness routine.

So, reading all this, I do know that it can seem quite daunting. But I really just wanted to give some inspiring examples. And it can take trial & error to find out what suits you & your life. So, today, let's all think about ways to add a bit of exercise each day. And do it. If it's not right for you, do something else tomorrow. But try to get some in everyday day, even if it's just a short walk. Or a couple of 10 minute walks, at a pinch. Try some pushups against a bench. Do some plies when you have 30 seconds. Some crunches before bed. If we make things easy...then we can do it. I shall add these suggestions: 2 x 10 minute walks, pushups, plies & crunches, all 20 x each, to my day. I already do 10 minutes of easy yoga sun salutes most mornings. Some sun salutes are hard. I've learnt that for myself..if it's hard, it becomes too much & I stop doing them. And I'd rather just do them than make it too daunting.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

continuing with chic: other aspects of chic

                                     Image result for la vie parisienne

Being Chic Is An Attitude

I do know that there is more to being chic than how we look! It also seems to be an expression of personality, &, a joie de vivre. An interest in others. How we live both in society, whether it's work, friends, or just generally mixing with people. Wherever. A generosity of spirit.

And generosity itself is also chic. Taking a cake to someone, giving a gardener some cuttings, giving a friend who is a bit down, some of your time. What little gestures of generosity are you?

As for being interested in others: I am a shy person, I had to learn how to chat with others. I usually ask a person what they do in their life, & that always leads to an interesting tete-a-tete. If there are children, I ask about them. There is always something about another person that is interesting! It is tres chic to be interested in other people. It denotes a warmth, an affection.

We all need people in our lives. Loneliness is not chic! So, if your life needs more people in it, this can be done through groups, hobbies, study, sports, getting out & about meeting people. Once you get into the habit of it, you won't be so lonely anymore. Actually, if I was lonely, I would volunteer my services here & there, to give to people: old folks homes, doing some things for neighbours in need, like shopping, childminding, lawnmowing: the list is endless! When we realise that there are those whose lives are worse than our own....our own life doesn't feel so bad anymore! If you are lonely....what could you do to meet people? Especially people with similar interests?  If money is tight: what can you do that is free, to meet people, or even just to be where others are? Like a village market, the library.

And it is chic to be cheerful. A great way to feel happier about oneself & one's life, is to practice gratitude. I silently say: "thank you Universe" when something nice happens, & I aim to find many things to say thank you for, each day. What can you find to be grateful for? I currently am very grateful to be living where I can have a vegie garden, see the stars at night, watch the dawn come up, listen to the birds, & also that I have family & friends.

Our Homes Can Be Chic, Too

And in our homes, too, is where we also express our chic-ness. That personal touch that is just us. When we have a family, or are flatting, of course that is harder to do, but....I do know someone who actually does do it, in a most unobtrusive way, whilst sharing a house with others.

We can look at our living situation to see how, even if only in a minute way, we can express our flair. Whether we live with others, or alone, we can make things more attractive. Attractive is the main way to look good, & that applies to our living spaces. The first way to do that is with cleanliness & tidiness. Not perfection, but looking nice. Put things away, clean the kitchen & bathroom. Not rocket science, & it is very chic to have a nice living space.

I personally adore the shabby chic look. And I love antiques. I don't have room for many nice bits & pieces, so I have a couple of original vintage pieces of furniture, & few wee pieces of antique crockery. I have yoga "stuff" in my home, too (I teach yoga): wee statuettes, "Om" signs, a meditation yantra (containing geometric forms which symbolise something esoteric). Not too much of anything, but enough to make me happy, with a bit of the type of things that I love.

So what is unique about you that can be echoed in your living space, whether it be your bedroom, flat, home, garden....what do you love that makes a statement about you? What would you love to have in your home? It can even be something as simple as having flowers on a coffee table. Remember, we are expressing our chic here.

So, were some things to ponder, about our chicness.

Friday, 15 July 2016

30 chic days: day 30: are kiwis chic?

The final day in Fiona Ferris's 30 chic days, to celebrate the release of her bestseller: 30 Chic Days. If you would like to read, or listen to, the 1st 3 chapters, here is the link to Fiona's lovely blog: Going through Fiona's site to get to see the book, is actually more supportive for her. Her facebook site is:

For my last day in this chic series, I have done some sleuthing to see if we kiwis ladies are chic. I kept a lookout wherever I went. But I felt that I needed something to compare it with, so I sneakily talked to french women. I figured that french restaurants, bakeries & delicatessens were easy places to do my research in, & I actually only talked about the food on sale (french food places are very busy!). I also have known french women, so I remembered aspects about them too.

They talk quite fast, are very expressive with their face, body, & hands & I think that it's because the french language is very expressive. They are friendly. They do have beautiful complexions, some wear make-up, some do not. Many have slightly messy hair, which I like. I really disliked the fad for straightening hair & trying to make it look perfect, that was prevalent in nz for so long. And even when french ladies are wearing jeans & very casual clothes...they do look different, & it's hard to say why.

I saw a french woman who had pitch black hair in a messy high bun, with a straight fringe, make-up, red lipstick, wearing very modern & very casual black, & grey, clothes, with jewellery made from real silver vintage cutlery. She looked amazing. Actually she was the real french chic inspiration, for me. I realised that chic was about simplicity, unique-ness, & imperfection.

I do think that there is nz chic, & more than one type of chic look, but I don't think that everyone has it. I know arty people who personify chic yet are not Parisian chic. There is also the casual chic, of jeans & a top or 2, sneakers, Converse, ballerinas, or ankle boots, with slightly messy but artfully cut, or coloured, hair. Le non make-up look provided by mineral powder, lip balm, mascara. Very nice. My youngest grand daughter (13 years old) was recently wearing fitted light blue denim jeans, a navy & white, sailor-striped tee, & tan mock suede flat ankle boots. Her long hair was in a pony: she looked chic! (I asked where all the gear was from. Grand daughters are a great source of current fashion & beauty info).

I was in a clothes shop recently, & one of the salesgirls was so chic! I had to sneakily peek at her, so as not to be a staring weirdo. Very current clothes; long hair; le non make-up look; her baggy silky type tee was slightly tucked into her elegant black harem-type pants, just at the middle of her waist, no where else; ankle boots; loose, long, cardi top, all very casual, a bit untidy, all so chic.

Then there was the very expensively upmarket chic look of black, red & white, with slightly messy hair, & very expensive accessories, that I saw on a woman in a very expensive Auckland suburb. And then the older women with their short hair, cut casual & modern; black top & pants which honestly can be from any decade, any price. With a large, plain, unusual necklace, or a long untied scarf. It looks fantastic. So age is no barrier to chic-ness.

Today I saw a young woman in a cafe. actually it was her black quilted, chanel-look, gold-chained Guess bag that I really saw first. I was mesmerised by it..... & she wore a plain black long sleeved tee, with black leggings that did not look expensive, & little ankle boots. She looked good. Looking at her, I really could see how you mix different priced gear, even mixing dressy with casual, to create a chic look.

Then there is The Big Night Out such as engagement parties: I went to one a few months ago. All very chic, there was a definite look, even though everyone was dressed differently. Le smoky eye & artfully slightly messy hair are definitely part of the general evening out look.

And in the CBD, tailored black chic is still de rigeur for the businesswoman. No matter what is said about "classic" clothes, they actually do undergo subtle fashion changes. And for those who love vintage, or le hippie look, mixing it with modern sooo chic.

Chic seems to me to be an attitude, a personal style, & yes, I have seen many examples of kiwi chic. For those who have it, the way that they personify it, is their "look", with casual being toned down, as an ease of dressing, le non make-up look but secretly wearing some, whilst evening & dressy glam is full make-up, & nonstructured hairdos, but the clothes do seem to have a simplicity, whether casual or dressy.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

30 chic days: day 29: what I learnt from joining in with

I have almost finished blogging my 1st ever 30 chic days, as part of a general, international, invite from blogger Fiona Ferris & her internationally successful How To Be Chic blog site, to do 30 chic days with her. Fiona is on facebook also. Fiona's new book 30 Chic Days is a bestseller on Amazon - way to go Fiona!! & the 30 chic days that I have been doing is to support that. Fiona is also a fellow kiwi, so that was an extra impetus.

I also spent a whole night binge reading her 30 chic days series, of which she has done 4. The best type of bingeing, in my opinion. I must be honest, being chic is a wee bit new to me. I was once, when I worked with a swiss-italian woman who inspired a friend & myself to copy her. I loved doing that. But that was back in the day, & life then took over. There was no time for chicness, or so I thought.

Chic-ness is to do with skill, accomplishment & denotes a certain flair, a certain je ne sais quoi. Fiona certainly looks chic, although I do notice that she has emphasised more, one's inner qualities. Such as serenity, gratitude, organisation, thrift, & she not only works on these things, but periodically also reviews them, for herself. Which in itself, is quite chic, I feel.

So that is a really important hint: learn to be skilled in an area of quality, & revisit it from time to time. Fiona has also made her home life rather chic, & it has inspired me.  She had little routines & little arrangements in her home. I have been updating my routines over this 30 days, so that is a big plus. And, as a visual person, I tend to need whatever I am involved in, to be within sight, but I am being more dedicated with my diary lists instead, rather than have clutter, & putting my wee "doing" stack away. Which of course, is chic.

Fiona also has many posts on her blogs about clothes, dressing, elegance, & beauty. The main lesson in maintaining your complexion, according to Fiona, is regularity. I agree. I have been more methodical in this. She changed her life to include little routines. For  example, extra hand, nail & chest care. It inspired me & over this 30 days, I have been massaging my hands & chest each evening before bed.

I also notice that Fiona dresses tres chic-ly, & is very up to date in an elegant way. I have been secretly watching where-ever I go, to see who is chic. My understanding of chic dressing has changed, & I like it. This will be an ongoing project for me: moving into appearance chic.

I realised quite quickly into the 30 chic days, that I really did not enjoy writing so much about myself! And my diet was not that interesting. Fiona has some lovely food posts & recipes. A while ago, I was going to post my recipe for red lentil soup, & something made me look to see of Fiona had also done so. She had! It was a bit different, but I was quite tickled by this. (I didn't post my recipe!)

But I was ok with posting each day, & it was a happy priority. I only missed a day, when the internet was not working in my area. I have lived & practised awareness for most of my life, but over these 30 chic days, I needed to have a different sort of awareness: was I dressing chic? was I behaving chic-ly? was I speaking chic-ly? was I eating chic-ly?....etc. This was new. And enjoyable. The whole 30 days has also been fun. So, thank you Fiona.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

30 chic days: day 28: what I learnt from vintage chic

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My Vintage Chic Inspiration

Look Like a Million, written in 1978 by Leslie Field, is the book that I have been reviewing as vintage chic. Leslie had been a journalist all her adult life, including as a Fashion Editor for top magazines like Glamour, Ingenue; feature journalist for The Sunday Times, Daily Mail, & Daily Express, they are all British newspapers; & at the time of writing book, she was the editor of Tatler.  She had also started a radio programme called The Passionate Shopper, reported on 2 other top radio shows, on fashion & beauty. It was from this background that her own style emerged. And also from years of earning very little money. And especially from caring about how she spent that money.

Over the years, I have followed much of her advice. I am often told that I look years younger than what I am....although I'm not so sure.....If I do look younger than my age, then a lot of this was due to Leslie's advice. I have read a lot of these types of books, like Leslie's one, & honestly, this was the best for me, always. I have also loved 2 Lipsticks & a Lover by Helena Frith Powell, & Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange. Fiona Ferris's Chic books are lovely. The Chic & Slim series by Anne Barone are good too. I am reading an american one at present, & I just keep thinking..."whaaat?" as I read it. It's not chic.

How It Affected How I Dress

I've never worked in the corporate world, so some of Leslie's dressier suggestions I have never followed. My life has always been more casual, but I still followed the basic principles that she suggested: I wear separates, I layer clothes in winter, black is my "neutral". I always have black pants, & now black jeans, plain black shoes, black converse type boots, & I have had a black jacket since I found this book, not always the same one, even if I seldom use one anymore.

Because I do healing, am a yoga teacher, & have a casual life, I almost always wear pants. I also always have a plain black cardigan, & a lighter coloured, bulky one for winter. I have a couple of plain merino jumpers, in muted turquoise, & another in muted dark blue. But it seems that I am still a bit overdressed, which is just me. even though I aim to dress simply, so I am looking to be more casual, & therefore, appropriate, with jeans & such.

I keep my accessories. I have even kept a gilt-type floral make-up bag to use as an evening clutch, & I have a very old, tiny black evening bag with a silver chain handle. I have used flax bags as summer New Zealand. For years I used a tote bag to go to & from work on the bus, & am on the lookout for another. So useful. I have used shawls as evening cover-ups ever since reading this book, sometimes using one of my meditation wraps. I also have both a wee fold-up umbrella & a bigger one, as Leslie suggested. I had a fantastic black "straw" hat from Amazon for years, then my sister decided to make it look nice with tons of bright flowers glued onto it, a couple of years ago. I still haven't been able to find another one.

...... And Upkeep

I mend clothes, clean my shoes, hang up clothes, aim to look nice, have my own "look", although I am slowly working towards changing it. I have for many years, bought a pair of simple, black cloth shoes from department, for each summer.  I make sure that I have short sleeved tees for summer, & long sleeved ones for winter. Some black, some in a nice colour. And I have a couple of things for gardening in, now. Old clothes.

I make sure that my hair looks shiny & healthy. I am not really the person to do nail polishes, but maybe one day....My make-up is lighter & rosier in summer, with deeper, richer lipstick & eye make-up in winter. I have learnt how to use less make-up, & blush very subtly to do an uplift look. I can't do an uplifting thing with my hair because it always falls flat, no matter what. Camellia taught me a more modern way to line my eyes, & how to use bronzer to make me have a better jawline. I have basic make-up & skin care routines, even if my skin products might not be the norm.

Plus Decoration

From time to time, I have had trademark jewellery. When I was a young mum, it was large thin gold hoop earrings, a medium embossed gold bracelet & a New Zealand jade & gold ring, all gifts from my mother. Then it was a beautiful silver marcasite watch from my (ex) husband, & a couple of expensive, long silver-chained pendants from mum. Next were crystal pendants & dangling earrings, followed by malas (meditation beads) worn as necklaces & bracelets, with small necklaces of Indian Goddesses. I am definitely mistress of overkill! One of my grandchildren sorted out my jewellery & I had a mass junk biff-out. In recent years, I have not been wearing  much jewellery, but I do know that can change.

The easy Way To Make Changes

I have been updating my look in small increments, & this is a good way to stay current. The great french perfumes such as Chanel Number 5, are always popular because they are always updated, a wee bit here & there. So we can do it too! I recently had my make-up changed, & it makes me look better.

Inspired by rereading Look Like A Million, I am going to give Leslie's diet a try-out, with a few wee changes to make it more suited for me, & have changed my exercise to include more daily walking, plus about 10 -20 minutes of yoga & body sculpting exercise, morning & night.

Reading this, I can see that I learnt a lot from Leslie's book, I'm always glad that I found it years ago, & I hope that somewhere in these blog posts I've written, that you found some good tips for yourself, too.

Monday, 11 July 2016

30 chic days: day 27: do-it-yourself-make-over

                                        Image result for vintage french dressing up  drawings
                                                                (circa 1975)

When 'Make-Overs" First Began
Leslie Field, vintage chic author, had been a Fashion Editor for Glamour magazine when she was younger. Glamour was the 1st magazine to do make-overs, way back when. So it is no wonder that Leslie used this phrase, &, she had been lucky enough to have been one of the people who had a make-over with Glamour.

What Is A Make-Over?

A make-over is about giving yourself a new look. A new figure, a new face, & new self confidence. Leslie said that the fabulous thing about the human body is that every effort you make shows up for the world to see: dieting can make a difference in a week or two; exercise can start to change your shape at the end of the 1st month. Giving up drink, drugs & cigarettes will start showing in 7 days; & a new hair-do or make-up scheme is evident in hours. She said that if you really want a new you: what are you waiting for? Start now, & 3 months from now, your best friend will have trouble recognising you.

Make-over At Different Periods In Your Life

She also felt that different ages are time for re-assessment: when children go to school, or leave the nest; when you reach 30, 40, etc, & that the most important thing is to be yourself, not start a wild search for lost youth. To always remember that the fastest way to grow stale is to stand still, & that clothes that are too young paradoxically make their wearer look older. There may be a time when fashion is exactly suited to your face & figure, the rest of the time you have to find out what can be adapted to you.

How Not To Date Yourself

One of the things about fashion, is that fashion reveals only 1 section of our body at a time. Over 15 years ago, bare abs were IT, (thanks, Britney Spears), but a few years on, young people were screaming "gross" at older women still showing their middle. In the 1960s, it was legs, in the late 1970s, long flowery, mid calf dresses were the rage. In the 1980s, women wore those awful shoulder pads. Followed by massively billowing clothes (no comment!!) Showing the wrong body part, & even emphasising the wrong part, is an instant ager. Honestly.

And Leslie said that fashions in make-up change a great deal more than fashions in clothes, so it pays to update your make-up too. A few years ago, for example, we were all bronzing our faces, now if we do, it is very subtle. Decades ago, women wore powder, now it would be a very light mineral powder, brushed on. Instead of foundation, we moved onto tinted moisturiser, now it's BB or CC creams. 12 years ago, women were wearing lip gloss. Now a pile of gloss on your lips looks....old fashioned.

Make A Flexible Plan For Your Daily Habits

Although Leslie followed a diet plan, she often "cheated" & allowed for that, sometimes skipped her exercise class, & similarly in her beauty plan, she felt that she cheated nearly as often as she kept to her plan. She advised not to expect perfection, & not to waste time punishing yourself. She advised that it was never too late to start good beauty habits, & to daydream about what you want to look like more than anything in the world, & keep that picture in the back of your mind. Because you'll never get anywhere if you don't know where it is that you want to go.

Leslie recommended recording things, especially a daily weigh, & your measurements of height; bust; waist; stomach, about 2 centimetres below your waist; hips across your navel; each thigh & calf at their widest part. Remeasure yourself each 4 weeks. Probably for weight loss, it would also pay to record food, drink & exercise. And digestive problems: this would show up if you not only record what you eat & drink, but also how you felt in the hours after.

For your face, hair & body, be objective: work out the best parts & emphasise them. The "bad" points: some you can change by diet, exercise, make-up or hairdo skills. Then there are the others that you can't change. Leslie recommends to camouflage them & forget them. I thought that it was funny how we both listed: shiny hair, small hands, small feet, high arches, in our pluses, with baby fine hair, left ear sticks out, splotchy complexion (mine are from sun damage), nails that break easily, protuberant tum, in our minuses. all made me feel a bit chic!

I hope that you enjoyed vintage chic, a la Leslie Field, from 1978. I always have, & I have so enjoyed blogging about it. I hope that you enjoyed the read, & that you found some advice, or an impetus, to do your own make-over, which may be trial & error, or not. There is youtube now, with tons of make-up advice, according to your age. For example: teens, early 20s....& the rest of us. Have fun, enjoy your journey.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

30 chic days: day 26: vintage chic travelling

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Travel In Style

Continuing Look Like A Million with Leslie Field: vintage chic, circa 1978.  Leslie felt that travel luggage was definitely a cheap & cheerful area of expense. She felt that if you want to be chic with a label bag like Gucci or Louis Vuitton, you were better off getting a big shoulder strap bag or a tote bag that you would get use of, when still on the ground.

As a journalist, there was an early period where Leslie had spent as much time travelling as she did on dry land. She got herself a carpet bag satchel, & a plastic dress bag (do they still exist?), so that she could take them on the plane herself to save hours waiting around for her suitcase to appear at the other end of a flight. Whatever could fit in those 2 bags came with her. No snob, Leslie suggested brightly coloured, lightweight canvas cases from department stores, & if you have to travel light: get a duffel bag, with everything packed inside sailor fashion: rolled up & stuffed tightly. She also felt that it was easier to take 2 smaller bags than 1 big one, if you take a lot with you.

For weekends away, she had a small blue denim case which was fine 1/2 full, but also expanded amazingly when needed. She would take a skirt or jeans, about 6 different tops (which I'm assuming included layers when needed, & she always took a heavy cardigan). She liked to play tennis & her jeans & sneakers were fine for that. Her dressing gown was also used as a pool cover up in summer, a pair of sandals (I've always taken jandals after reading this years ago) for around the pool & padding off to the bathroom. She often took gumboots too, lots of books & a toilet bag.

Organise For Travel

For overseas trips that were either 1 week or 2 weeks...she felt that the organisation was the same as for a weekend away. Leslie had quickly learnt that you didn't need to take a lot of clothes: a skirt & coat (or suit - it was 1978!) with lots of different shirts; 2 nice dresses for dinner out every night; & on longer trips she took 1 more dressy outfit, just in case something big came up. & her toilet bag had the same things, but in a larger quantity in it as for weekends away. She didn't take much footwear either on these trips: boots (if needed); walking shoes, or sandals; flat heeled black silk pumps; & a small evening handbag, plus of course bathing suit & tees if the destination warranted it.

Leslie didn't do special clothes for different countries: she dressed for either a hot country or a cold one. Everything that she packed was in perfect condition, mended, etc, everything was packed tightly, & her toilet bag & make up bag were kept with her at all times whilst travelling. And she always popped on the socks that the airlines provide, rather than wear shoes/boots.

I've Often Traveled In Minimalist Style

I've travelled overseas a few times, plus had many weekends & a week here & there, away. I truly took Leslie's advice to heart. I once went to India with a child's backpack schoolbag that I could wear, a money bag tied under my clothes, a small cheap bag which I could carry with a sleeping bag inside. It was so easy to carry my gear. I watched people dragging big cases around & having to find porters as we travelled. My sleeping bag is a cheap one that has travelled overseas & around New Zealand, by 2 people, more times than I can remember. It is so old that we can't remember when we bought it. And my small, cheap, travel bag is equally old.

A Tale From India

I was shocked at the amount of clothes & "stuff" that people took, as those India journeys were about going to ashrams, where fancy clothes are definitely out of place. I knew that I could wash clothes & hang them out, so I had enough for 3 days, plus a couple of sleeping things. It was all so easy. My wee torch was from KMart rather than Kathmandu, my clock was a few rupees from an Indian market. At one railway station, the train doors were about a metre higher that the station, & there was quite an unexpected gap between the train & the station platform. We were ordered to throw our baggage onto the platform, & I heard things break as my gear landed. I was so pleased that there was nothing expensive there! We then had to take a flying leap (for us shorties it was just that!) out of the train.

It's Easy To Travel Light To Bali

A month long trip to Bali was so easy: a few changes of very light clothes, swimsuit, jandals, toiletries, towels, small hair dryer (which I didn't need to use). Weekends & weeks away are equally stressless for me, I never take more than 4 changes of clothing, including what I'm travelling in.  But I always include something to keep me warm. These days, my fantastic Nikes come too, for walks & such. I've taken many weekend seminars, & attended a few others. There are never tons of bathrooms so I learnt, quickly, to only take essentials, & to be quick.

Another Tale From My India Travels

On ashram trips & seminars, I would always check out the showers, toilets, & any laundry facilities, asap. One trip in India, at an ashram, a friend discovered a "secret" unused toilet building. What a treat, no more queuing for the loo! We kept silent about it for a while. Then I told a lovely Slovakian lady, & said not to spread it around. The next time I went to use it, it was full of Slovakian women puffing frantically & silently on their ciggies. (no smoking for the punters in an ashram). I had to rejoin the queue for the other toilet.

Friday, 8 July 2016

30 chic days: day 24: Looking After Your Looks

                                               Image result for vintage french woman  pampering face drawings

Take Care Of Your Face

According to Leslie, vintage chic author, flawless skin is hereditary, but for the rest of us, good skin is largely self-discipline; nothing will work if you only do it now & then. Whatever you have to do for a clear skin, you have to do all the time. And although our skin type may not change: for example dry, normal, oily, sensitive, combination....but what can change is the condition: wrinkles, texture, & sunspots being some.

And skin care was the only thing that she spent money on as a matter of course. After much trial & error, she settled on Clinique, using just a few products. It took 3 minutes each time, using them in rotating upwards motions. For your interest, she used Clinique cleansing oil, their soap with a BufPuf, tonic, moisturiser, & 3 days a week she used their 7th day scrub. When she was feeling flush, she used a Clinique eye make-up remover, & when money was tight she used baby oil. She never had facials. She had regular habits, & hadn't varied her routine for 5 years. And, when the products that she used were on special...she would stock up on them.

More Leslie-isms: use moisturiser on slightly damp skin to help it be more easily absorbed. In summer, drink more water & use moisturiser more often (moisture gets washed away by sweat). When flying put on extra moisturiser before you take off, wash your face & apply more moisturiser before landing.

Look After Your Body skin

For her body, she was equally prudent & methodical. She confessed to being frugal with body lotion, & generally used Vaseline Intensive care. And Leslie used baths, rather than showers, using nice bath oils (use baby oil if you can't afford them), but when Leslie was feeling poor, she would buy borax powder at the chemists, & toss a couple of tablespoons into the water instead. She would hang a lavender bag from the tap as the water ran, to make the bathroom smell nice & relax her, &  she scrubbed herself with her Buf Puf, & used soap & pumice on her soles & heels.

Other Hints

Although many women shave their legs & such, Leslie waxed her legs, underarms & arms, & had electrolysis for other areas; she was heavily into good grooming. For treating cellulite, she advised lots of raw fruit & vegies, lots of water. She advised standing tall, & recommended learning how to walk gracefully, because pride shows in the way you walk & hold yourself.

All commonplace today....but not so in 1978.

Leslie felt that having a tan made her feel sexy, skinny & healthy. Bur she didn't want to destroy the elasticity of her skin by tanning, so she used Clinique sunblock which stopped sunburn, & took heed of avoiding the sun between 10.30am & 3pm. So far ahead of the times. Her hints for sunburn: soak in a bath with 1/3 cup of baking soda stirred in. For face: strong, cool tea....when it dries on the face, rinse face with cool water.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

30 chic days: day 23: more smelling nice: body & home

                                           Image result for vintage french woman  fragrance drawings
More Perfume Hints

Another tip for our body is to layer our scent. And this can be done very easily by having an unscented body lotion & just popping a squiz of perfume into it. Then use the scent, & top your scent up later in the day. There is also the option of "training" friends & family to give you lotiions, & soap, etc, in your favourite scent for xmas & birthdays.

Some other tips from moi: you don't have to go all matchy with scents, just make sure that your soap is unscented & your deodorant has just a tint of a smell. Then it's easy to have everything blend in. Of course, you can get very decently priced body washes & lotions in the same "scent" just from the supermarket.

Essential Oils For Delicious Smells

If you do have a nice essential oil, like lavender, geranium, or ylang ylang, you can pop some into grapeseed oil for your body lotion, or into your unscented lotion. Inexpensive & delicious smelling. And, just 1 drop of lavender or geranium, if you have either, is magical in your night moisturiser.

And In The Home

What about in the home? You can wipe down many surfaces with lavender oil, & you can put it in a wee spray bottle with water to "refresh" your rooms. You can also spray your ironing board with it, pop a few drops in with your washing powder when you do your washing. Put a dab on the corner of your pillow just before you go to bed for a great night's sleep. Lavender is a very calming oil.

I love to open up doors & windows each day for a fresh smelling house. One of my kids used to ask: why is there wind blowing through the house? But we can use nice smelling stuff as well. There are scented candles, oil burners & incense, which for me are more night time things.

And I love to pop "things" in my clothes drawers: empty soap wrappers & incense packets, this morning I put an empty tiny box that had held a perfumed oil, in with my socks. I've also used empty perfume bottles, & I like to put my perfumes in as well. If you're cash-strapped, you can get a squirt of a very expensive perfume on some blotting paper in department stores to stash in with your wee undies. There are also bath salts in little cubes that you could use. And I like to put wrappers etc in my cupboards with towels & sheets, too.

Pot Pourri 

The vintage chic book that I've been reviewing, had a most charming recipe for pot pourris: the author Leslie mixed any flowers that came her way as gifts, such as roses, geraniums, lavender. Lay all the flowers to dry in a single layer on a tray, in any warm place, & turn them over until they are crumbly. The flowers are completely dry when the petals fall off the stalks as you shake them; rose petals hold their shape so you can leave the flower whole. Heap the mixture in pretty bowls, ones with wide necks give out a stronger scent. Add a teaspoon of orris root powder to each container & mix through. This helps preserve the scent & the colour. When Leslie was feeling extravagant she would add the ends of bottles of scent or bath oil to the mixtures & give them a new lease of life. A good stirring revives it magically. Experiment with flower colours & scents until you find the one that pleases you. Pot pourris can be placed nicely around the home, or in cupboards, for lovely smells.

She also made small fabric sachets by cutting out 2 pieces of fabric, 7&1/2 centimetres by 12&1/2 centimetres, or thereabouts; sew them together along 2 long & 1 short side, inside out. Turn right side out, fill them with pot pourri mix & tie up the top with a scrap of ribbon. You can also buy similar bags from $2 shops, & fill them. Leslie put these sachets in every drawer. When the smell began to be faint, she just poured scent on them & put them back, making sure the damp side doesn't touch any clothing, or it will leave a stain.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

30 chic days: day 22: smelling nice

                                                Related image   
Fragrance Is Important
This, I feel, is such an important part of being chic. And Leslie Field, author of vintage chic book: Look Like A Million, thought so, too. Anyone can smell nice with an expensive perfume, but not everyone uses perfume. Scents...nice smells...make us feel good. And there is such an emotive factor to do with smells.

Leslie had some good advice re scents. She suggested not choosing one that is so expensive that you have to use it sparingly. She felt that we should spray it, splash it, use it lavishly...or what's the point in it? She suggested wearing a lighter scent during the day, & something heavier & more exotic at night.

Some Smells Stay Favourite

Of course, a fragrance changes from woman to woman, & that is worth remembering. The smell of Karma Sutra is almost offensive to me, yet I have friends who love it & it smells good on them. I know someone who adores Angel....but it smells like an ant colony to me! That same person rolls their eyes when I get ecstatic about perfumes like Shalimar, Poison, Tabu...really heavy, exotic perfumes that I love. They don't! Years ago, I had a silent meltdown when one of my little girls was given a bottle of Shalimar.....I couldn't charm nor guilt it off her! I did consider stealing it, (actually I neurotically plotted doing this, a lot!!) but finally couldn't bring myself to. She let a grand daughter fill it up with water. (Another mum-type silent meltdown!) Ironically, when I ended up with too many perfumes a few years ago, I gave all of my strong perfumes to the same grand daughter.

Leslie used a citrusy scent in summer, or a man's cologne. Both Elle Macpherson & Ines de la Fressange like men's scents, too. I know that I keep saying it, but Leslie was way ahead of her time! She said to use eau de cologne, toilet water, or perfume, on damp skin, & make sure that it doesn't get on your face or hair, & that many scents have Oil of Bergamot which can cause brown skin blotches from the sun. If she had tiny samples, she would carry one in her handbag, for a touch-up.

Other Ways To Get Fragrances

If you have very dry skin, use a perfume oil instead...& for years I did this, & used it as perfume. There are other ways to have scents, if you're cash strapped:  if you ever see any samples going for free, no matter how small: take them! I once managed to get heaps of tiny Avon vials of perfume which I later handed around to friends & family. I was working at an expo where they had a stall with freebies, & for some reason...I just had to keep walking past it.....You can stash these wee vials in your knicker & bra drawer.

Years ago a friend & I used the oils that the Hare Krishna's sold....when I bought some of these, years later...I gagged, I hated them! Sometimes at markets, you can get "musk" oil (it's not really musk), or "vanilla" oil, & either of these are nice. I love, love, love, the smell of vanilla. I put vanilla essence into porridge, banana smoothies, sometimes into tea or coffee chai. I do have a vanilla scent from the body shop, & wear it a lot. It smells delicious to me. If I was going to light scented candles, it would have to be vanilla.

You can also get divine sandalwood soap from Indian shops, & if you hunt around, & sandalwood is your fave...try Indian shops too, either clothes or food shops, for wee vials of the oil. If I was doing the sandalwood thing, I would also get incense, & make it like a trademark. It would be so original, & so much cheaper than buying expensive perfume. It is incredibly chic to have trademarks & be different.

To make scent last on your body, dab a bit of petroleum jelly over where you've applied it. An oldie but goodie tip.

30 chic days: day 21: looking after & organising your fashion & beauty life

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Some People Are So Organised

some of this I have already covered in my previous posts. I did see a fantastic example of it yesterday, at my dear schooldays friend's house yesterday. Yes, we have kept in touch, it is such a wonderful friendship for us! I find my friend to be somewhat chic. In each of her 2 main bedrooms, were large built-in wardrobes. One was across a whole wall, floor to ceiling, with shelves, drawers, space for footwear, & rods for hanging clothes. I have never, ever, had anything remotely like this, to me to have this space for organisation, is so chic.

It's Easier When There Is Space

Looking after & organising one's fashion & beauty life, does indeed require some space. It's easier to be chic if everything is looked after, clean & repaired, as well as everything having a place. Leslie turned her tiny 2nd bedroom in her London flat, into a dressing room, by getting one whole wall fitted out as a 3 door wardrobe.  She had drawers there, 2 different levels of rods for hanging clothes, & shelves above the drawers. So that her clothes could be hung up, folded away, & shoes tidily lined up. Everything was hung up, folded, or lined up, first according to colour, then type. Plus a place for accessories & bags. She also hung ribbon between 2 hooks on a wall, to create somewhere to hang necklaces so that they wouldn't get jumbled, & I have copied this, on occasion. Leslie rolled up her belts & lined them up, but they could also be hung. And used racks for her shoes, with a rolled up magazine inside each boot to keep it standing upright. Shoe racks are not expensive: I was walking past a $2 shop today & saw one. This was also her sewing & ironing room. I know that sewing is becoming a dying art, sadly, & many of us might only iron a garment once a year, as there are so many wash & wear clothes around.

Making Things Nice

She renovated her old tiny bathroom to make it nice, with a piece of carpet...London would have been cold in winter in 1978! before all homes had radiators. Leslie only kept bath stuff there, like shampoo, lotions, skin care, teeth stuff, razors, etc, all nicely stored in the cupboards she had made for under the basin. She used her old-fashioned dressing table, in her bedroom, to store most of her cosmetics, especially the ones that she used often. Everything was in little open boxes, to save time. What a lovely idea. And it was here that she applied her make-up. A wonderful fantasy for most of us....sitting in good light, making ourselves look nice.

So, a good recommendation for the chic life, is to organise everything, according to when & how we are using things. Making it easy to be chic. A place for everything & everything in it's place. I now live in a weeny cottage. I've been given all sorts of great advice about storing things, like hanging a cloth strip with pockets in, over a doorway. All great suggestions, but seeing all that "stuff" would just be so stressful for me. It's better for me just to have less.

The Original Wardrobe Declutterer

And years before we were being told how to sort out our wardrobes by going through our clothes, sorting out "keep" clothes, "mend or alter" clothes, & biff clothes, Leslie was happily telling everyone how to do it. Keep clothes which are perfectly, purely, terrific. In the mend pile you also put clothes which you experiment with - how to use different accessories, change hem or buttons. And she always gave her nice biffouts, including bags, to her friends. She then stored clothes which were for summer, but now it's winter, for example, in a large, see-through, plastic dress bag that held about 24 garments.

Leslie was chic years before it was "in" to be so, & it does seem that her determination to be clean, organised, careful with money, & practical, was a big part of it.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

30 chic days: day 20: how does vintage chic compare to modern French chic?

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Then And Now

For vintage chic I have been using the book that I have been reviewing...or is it downloading? And I am using Frenchwoman Ines de la Fressange who is believed to be the chicest person, ever. She epitomises modern French & Parisian chic.

In vintage chic, one did tend to be a bit matchy in one's clothes. Ines broke the mould many years ago by wearing a Chanel jacket from a suit, with a pair of jeans. In 1978 a Chanel suit was IT for wealthy chicness, & although Leslie recommended choosing a chanel or chanel-type suit, if you were going to own a suit....she never actually suggested that you did get one. These days madame chic might not even own a suit, or, if she might be a trouser suit. In 1978, a suit would have been worn with stocking type tights....does anyone even wear these or stockings anymore?

In 1978, status symbols like Louis Vuitton bags were highly prized, but Ines says that  the average Parisian is not so much into status products such as this. Leslie, our vintage inspirer, & Ines, both recommend to spend money sparingly & carefully, mixing expensive & cheaper clothes. Ines has a thing for vintage gear but Leslie was not into it.

Some Chic Never Changes

Both Leslie & Ines live effortless style. Both prefer elegant, simply styled shoes, signature accessories, but not too many at once, belts, plain tote bags, a great jacket, less is more, stick with what works (for you), be timeless. Both suggest looking at boys & teens stores for clothes, both said to buy your tees from a really cheap place. I am thinking that Leslie was way ahead of her time, in regards to chic fashion.

Ines really has broken all rules to be the ultimate chic woman. Leslie taught how to be chic in a different time, but I do feel that all of Leslie's advice is still relevant to today. Ines often wears loafers similar to the older famous Gucci style, which Leslie loved. I found that really interesting. And Ines wears ballet flats, a lot. They weren't so prevalent in 1978! If you wanted ballet slippers, you had to buy the authentic ballet slippers that ballerinas used. Quite a difference.

Both love simple little jumpers, in neutral tones. Leslie often wore old shirts under her jumpers, as cuffs & collar. To this day, I really dislike tops which have this look in 1 garment, as I feel that it restricts our individuality.  She also wore her jumpers under shirts. Ines likes her beautiful, plain, vee neck jumpers to be worn alone, about 2 sizes bigger than she would normally use, with the sleeves pushed up....& it does look nice.

Leslie wore a lot of black, as does Ines, Ines wears a lot of navy too, & she will wear her navy with white & a splash of chic. And both suggest a small wardrobe of signature separates, with a few classic pieces mixed with other clothes, worn with accessories, to produce what Leslie called "throwaway chic". Which is an effect.....carefully composed, yet appearing to be nonchalant. I love that Ines said to wear one's pearls with jeans, or a tank tee. So now, so chic.

1978 chic was, I feel, way ahead of it's time. But chic, these days, is less structured, freer, there are less rules. Leslie said to try out things that others were doing, & if you liked it...steal it, make it your own. I truly feel that we can still do that. Especially when we study Ines, with her effortless style, beauty & charisma.

Friday, 1 July 2016

30 chic days: day 19: it's not about the money

                                       link to 1979 magazine precis on this book

Actually, it really isn't about the money

"I am writing this book for women like me who have too little time & too little money, but an overwhelming desire to look their best. This is all about giving yourself a new look - a new figure, a new face, new confidence to face the world": Leslie Field: Look Like a Million, 1978.  More Leslie details:

How she did things with not much money

Leslie's code of living was to simplify everything, to err on the side of understatement. Simplicity doesn't mean poverty, less is more. It took her a long time to understand just how few clothes most elegant women have.

Leslie took a wealthy woman's advice to heart

She once interviewed a great beauty & socialite called Gloria Guinness, who was wearing a black shirt, black skirt, a & black cardi draped over her shoulders (plus a luminous, expensive rope of pearls!). Gloria gave 3 pieces of advice which Leslie had followed ever since: if you can only wear 1 colour, make it black & no-one will ever know if it's couture or chain store; always put your money into shoes & handbags. Leather never lies, & it has to be good.

People look 1st at your face, & then at your feet; buy clothes that you love, & wear them over & over again. Overwhelm with the simplicity of your appearance. Black goes anywhere, anytime. For the day, a black shirt & skirt, at night a simple black dress, should form the basis of any wardrobe."

She did mix her expensive things, like boots, with cheaper stuff

Leslie encouraged people to have timeless clothes, clothes that they loved, but if you do invest money in clothes, shoes, jewellery, etc, they should continue to give you pleasure for a long time. However she also recommended looking in, for example, teens sections of stores if you're petite, boys & men's area for outdoor gear including tees, shirts, jackets, jeans. In other words, she had an open mind about what & where she bought.

And she had her own trick for making her clothes look, different

Leslie pulled her own wardrobe of mostly separates together with an assortment of belts & vests.

She looked after her belongings

She mended, washed, (& hand washed quite a few things!) & ironed her clothes (always iron inside out) so that they were ready to wear. She polished her shoes & bags with neutral polish to keep them looking good. In other words, she looked after what she had. Which of course, is tres chic.

She used a dressmaker to make any alterations on new clothes, or to modify existing clothes. And, I love this, it's something that I have always done, she kept a button box, where she stored any buttons from clothes which had had their day. She often changed the buttons on chain store clothes, which made them look less cheap. Leslie learnt how to do sewing repairs, she found it relaxing, & had a wee sewing kit. I got mine from a $2 shop some years ago, & then inherited a friend's as well.

She used everything, for years

Her shoes & bags lasted her for years. She wore the same jewellery everyday. She even recommended buying a knock-off version of her Cartier watch, with a black leather strap. She felt that jewellery should be personal, & suggested to either buy costume, or save up your money to buy a few things to last for ever. At the time of writing her book , she was still wearing a shirt that was 17 years old, about 5 times a year, some of her skirts were 5 years old, & she had kept a small pouchette purse from when she was 13, & still used it.

When she was younger, & poor, she dyed all her clothes black, which she later felt had been a gloomy look. (Sophia Loren had done this too in her young, very poor days) A friend & I used to have an annual dye session of turquoise & purple clothes to keep their colour, & for many years I would dye my "blacks" in the washing machine to refresh them. Leslie also recommended dyeing all your whites with dylon white when their colour wasn't looking too good. You can't dye all fabrics, that's for sure, but sometimes a bit of dye can really perk things up.

It worked for all budgets

The point is, you could read a book like this & follow all the suggestions with expensive belongings, or you skip those, follow the advice but you could be prudent with your money, and go the cheaper way. Either way, you would still look great, & have style.

Warm weather food

Yes! The warmer weather has arrived. And with it, a few changes in le regime (my diet, aka what I eat). I really get miserable eating salads...