A guide to style and good tailoring

Hi welcome to my own unique perspective on what constitutes style and individualism. The vast majority of the photos are taken using a mobile phone camera and I have no make up on.......

I'm in my late 30's and I'm also a widow which probably explains why I look so god damn hot in black, well that and being an ivory skinned pale red head! It also documents my wardrobe, so many people seem fascinated by my clothes and compliment me for how I look wearing them.

It is one woman's campaign against Jeans, Tracksuits and Ugg Boots!

More importantly it's about altering your view on life and trying to do the right thing even though it isn't always the easiest.

This blog is a story in taking pride in yourself and not letting yourself go, or settling for second best because you know what girls? No one really is better than someone if they don't treat you like a Queen................

Friday, 24 May 2013

In the waiting room of life you best hope the magazines have some decent recipes

We spend most of life in a proverbial waiting room, waiting for decisions, outcomes, to hear from people, for parcels, phone calls, text message. For people to finish what they are doing, for the lights to change, for our turn. It is as though some days are spent waiting for that eponymous "microwave minute" which is a lifetime compared to an "internet minute".

We laugh as a nation at our ability to form orderly queues and wait patiently and in good humour. Indeed I find the scene in The Hitch Hikers Guide side splitting but we really do under estimate it as a life skill. I guess this explains why the same people keep popping back into our lives, they must be on the same appointment schedule. Here's hoping there are decent recipes in the magazines whilst we are all waiting!

A reflective day.

I choose my black peplum dress today because it is a simple design that has striking shoulders. The gold beading is pretty and adds a reflective quality to the dress. 

Dress: Stop Staring!
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Adventures in predictive text

Every now and again I wish that money was able to buy me something useful like more meaningful conversation with a person.

You see my Mum is to all intents and purposes deaf and my sister is deaf in one ear, I sometimes think I did particularly well to be just tone deaf. Now I have some fantastic conversations with both of them, just as they do with me. The tragedy is that on sometimes we just aren't having the same conversation! LOL

I was chatting with a former colleague yesterday, about the perils of predictive text and abbreviations. He told me a good story about a text from a family member, as I wistful thought. I'll see you and raise you 10.

No one beats my sister when it comes to the perils of predictive text.

It started so innocently. A text that simply read "Can you pick Mike up on the way home?". Sure I think no problem, no idea who Mike is but he obviously needs a hand so I reply. "Sure, where from?". Response "The shop"............. "Which shop?"..........reply........."Any"..............so I have a moment "Look Caz, I am buggered if I am walking into random shops shouting Mike in the hope of acquiring the right one".

The response was classic.

"Who's Mike?".............sighs thinks pulling teeth must be less painful........ "The person you asked me to pickup on the way home." .........................."OOps milk".

What people say, what people mean, what people hear and what they understand are four quite radically different things it seems to me. The crossed wires of life are something that we should try to see the funny side of. A checked dress with lots of crossed lines seems to go well today. The basic design of this dress is called Ashley but with a lovely fawn, tan and beige check print. It has copper thread running through it which brings the material to life though it doesn't photograph well. The pleats at the neckline are beautifully done and draw attention to your face, the classic pencil dress and matching belt make this an easy to wear dress for most occasions. 

Dress: Ashley in check by Stop Staring
Shoes: Aldo

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

You want to change something? Put some stress on it

I am always hearing people talk about changing the world, or about changing other people but rarely do we talk of changing ourselves.

Change and managing it is something I find interesting personally and professionally. It comes in two flavours and I'm not talking chocolate or vanilla. Change is either planned or forced. The difference between the two is simple our choice - we choose planned change and bought into it, forced change is as the name implies forced upon us and we have no choice but to chew down on the sandwich of change and pretend that we like the flavour.

Our reactions to change are interesting. I must confess that when it comes to forced change I tend to like the "let's sweep the pieces of the chess board approach", my logic being you will remember where the important things were and keep them.

The thing is if you want something to change you have to apply some stress or force so that you change and adapt, it is just like exercise, you increase the weight and stress your body it gets stronger. And over time you start to realise you are capable of things you weren't before.

Most people talk about stress like it is a bad thing, the reality is most of us have no problem what so ever with stress. It is anxiety that is the killer. So stress yourself out in the right way, make a change a positive one. A change that is going to have you queuing at the front of that door waiting for it to open.Or maybe the change you want to make is shutting a door and leaving what was.

Welcome constructive criticism, look at how your life might improve if you take the feedback in positive light."This is right." "This is wrong." We make such distinctions all the time. We hardly think twice about them, how often do we say 'This is wrong at the moment but if only I were to do this, or that, it would all be right!' 

For some strange reason, too many of us equate creativity with speculation. If a leap of imagination is called for, or a change to the status quo is so much as considered, we suspect that we are dabbling in the realms of dangerous risk. Yet if you don't, what will ever change? What wonderful things are you missing out? The people, the places and the experiences.

People who are you friends say things for a reason, their motivation is not to cause you pain, upset or berate you (we are all only human), instead maybe they said it because they want you to grow as a person and be the very best that you can possibly be.

So you want to change something? Put some stress on it!

Now when it comes to change then this dress is one of the biggest I have made, I would have never worn circle skirts if it wasn't for Marv. I trust her when it comes to telling me the truth about what looks good, because your friends want you to look and be your best. Anyway when Marv said wear the orange belt (orange is a funny colour if you have red hair) I knew to trust her. Friends make us move outside our comfort zones and they do it for your benefit not theirs, the trick is knowing who has your best interests at heart; and sometimes the answer to that question can be surprising.

Dress: Netti in Tiki Print by Pinup Girl Clothing
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Grey Matter

Cogito ergo sum, or in English, "I think therefore I am" is a philosophical proposition put forwards by Rene Descartes. I have always thought it amusing that there is an extra tacit premise - one that is unstated which is essentially "Whatever has the property of thinking, exists". However the proper logical flaw of the argument is that existence is already assumed or presupposed in order for thinking to occur, not that existence is concluded from that thinking.

When we are on top of our game, we find it easy to summon the emotional reserve and intellectual depths required to tackle problems that face us, then at other times we are flat as a pancake. We have run out of the proverbial steam it is as though we just don't know where we are going, where we have been or where we are going to go next. At times like this it seems as though we can't make choices, either it doesn't make sense or it doesn't feel as though it fits with any picture about where we would like to see our next phase in life going. Sometimes when we can't see the future, we aren't quite sure of what we can see in the present and this in turn raises questions about our past.

We can't always be sure we can make the choices and be sure to get the results that we want, when this happens we can get disillusioned with our ability to make choices. Still though because life is a learning curve, there comes a point where we can make choices, we can make a commitment and see it through, or we can open a door and allow something to come through it, or even better we can walk through that door ourselves and allow ourselves to climb into a world outside our normal sphere of experience. That invitation to embark on an adventure, that chance to recognise more of your own self worth, to explore a new opportunity and explore more of life is already there you just have to be able to see it.

When it comes to "the grey matter" then I think this beautiful 1940s style stop staring number has it all. Classy and sophisticated with beautiful attention to detail. A dress to think thoughts and dream dreams whilst wearing.

Dress: Stop Staring
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Silver screen Sunday's with Ava

I have been saving The Dambusters all week, and I am going to indulge today. I love that film, there is one line that makes it for me. Some lesser spotted RAF person is extolling the rarities of the Wellington bomber and that how did Barnes Wallace think he was going to convince anyone to lend him one for this project..............He simply replied "Tell them I designed it".

Sometimes it is cool to be the geek :) It's fair to say we dropped on when it came to geeks in WW2, Turing, Wallace, Whittle and Fleming. Necessity is after all the mother of invention. 

Someone has to add the Geek Chic, it's not all socks, sandals and pipes you know. Ava in Green is a beautiful and comfortable dress and great for a little silver screen indulgence. I love the satin sheen and the rouching. I'm still having fun breaking those fashion rules :)

Dress: Ava in Green by Pinup girl clothing
Shoes: Aldo

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Courageous creations, can you refuse the muse?

Beethoven’s symphonies were courageous creations. So, too, were Picasso’s paintings, Byron’s poems, Einstein's theories. What if any of these great artists and scientists had decided to refuse the muse. All were human. All had doubts about their own ability - or the ’worth’ of their contribution. All of them too, had bills to pay, chores to perform, social and domestic commitments to honor. They didn't have to be develop their talents. They were not obliged to believe in themselves. Are you any less special? 

Well then... what SHOULD you be doing now? This is a time for developing your talent and using your imagination. Beyond the mountains of reality lie oceans of ideas. 

Never forget that creativity contains a precious truth all of its own. The Experiences, the sights, the sensations and the people that inspire us to create are a reflection of our inner selves.

The most precious thing that any of us has is ourselves (not your house, car or money - but plain old you). When we are inspired to dance, to write stories or to compose poetry, write code or experiments we show and share a part of ourselves. A treasured token and this is the greatest gift any of us can ever give, part of ourselves.

Being creative is also about breaking the rules, and sometimes you have to be your own muse. I decided to inspire myself by breaking some fashion rules :) I'll let you guess which ones!

Shorts: tailored red sateen high waisted shorts by pinup girl clothing
Top: Black halterneck by pin up girl clothing
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Friday, 17 May 2013

Gazing into the crystal ball and not even realising it

We are all fortune-tellers. We all make predictions about what we think will happen next. We do this best when we draw on experience. When we draw conclusions based on processes we have observed and patterns that we have witnessed repeating themselves many times before, we are most likely to be right.

Sometimes we don't want to acknowledge the patterns preferring instead to remain ignorant to the truth and this is the one of the reasons why so many people struggle to recognise when they’re being used. A person is using you when they avail themselves of something or someone as a means of accomplishing their chief aim. They exploit what they perceive as a vulnerability in order to gain an advantage.

While there are instances when it’s quite obvious that you’re being used, like when somebody suddenly starts spending a lot of time around you and then asks you for something and then once they’ve got it, they are nowhere to be seen.

Being used is like the boiled frog syndrome (if you were to drop a frog into boiling water, they notice and hop out, but put them in a cool pan and turn the heat up slowly). It is similar to abuse, it can creep up on you and catch you unawares. When you recognise it, you may doubt yourself, and put it down to you imagining things especially if you tend to "see the best in people", or maybe you are like me, with too much honour inside you to ever conceive of dishonor in anyone you would care for and call friend.

Most users when accused of this behaviour, won’t hold their hands up to it simply because it’s not how they want to be perceived, this is not a side of their personality they want to face or even think about. They see their actions in a more benevolent light as if to say that they’re doing you some favour, giving you an excursion away from your humdrum life or giving you a dose of their magical charm that for some reason they think you should be thrilled to get.

They rationalise their behaviour and justify it to themselves by kidding themselves into believing that you’re getting something out of it, even if what it is, isn’t much, or not what you wanted, or isn’t on mutual terms and has been "given" in a manner that allows them to "profit" from you even though you’ll feel increasingly drained. 

They overvalue what they think that they’re "giving" you, but it’s not "giving"; it’s a hidden agenda. It’s also exceedingly patronising.

If you challenge them they say that they "aren't that bad" or they try to reset the relationship to different rules. It's all got to be on their terms. They aren't someone who responds to real life, if you go for an interview they don't ask how it went, if you were a good Samaritan they don't recognise it and all the other joys of life's trials and tribulations. You have to realise it has nothing to do with you as a person it is just quite literally that life is "all about them". This is because from their perspective your life exists solely to provide whatever it is they want. You are not a real person to them, just an object to be used for their self gratification.

You’re being taken for a ride, possibly literally…

Users are distinguished from people who maybe did start out with "good intentions" and have screwed up royally. These people recognise they got it wrong and seek to make amends or at the very least stop the behaviour.

The user will veer between seeking to get their needs, wishes and expectations met aggressively (by force), possibly with a smile on their face telling you how you’ll both benefit, or passive aggressively, through obstruction and basically saying one thing, doing another. They will not care about the impact on you because they will continue using until they’ve got what they want or you cut off their supply.

If you feel like you’re being used, you’re very likely being used – friendship or a relationship feels and looks like friendship or a relationship. Using, looks and feels like using. 

Every relationship has some hope in it but not all relationships have reality in them. Choose to enter into and copilot one that has both.

Once you suspect or know that you’re being taken for a ride it is time to, stop, look, listen and step back and adjust your boundaries.

When it comes to boundaries it makes me think of every Englishman's home is castle. So what better way to remind myself of the value and importance of boundaries than to wear my beautiful country cottage print dress by Bernie Dexter. I love these printed dresses, I have the winter one they are just so much fun I can't help but smile when I wear it. It is a happy dress.

Dress: Janice in Country Cottage print by Bernie Dexter
Shoes: Aldo 

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Is that an elephant skeleton in your closet?

We all have skeletons in our closets. 

In my experience there are two kinds, there are those skeletons have been there so long that they resemble the models that teachers wheel out for anatomy class and they have been hanging around long enough to have developed a clean, clinical, appearance.

The skeletal elephant on the other hand dwells in the territory of "what you may have to regret" or in the area of "what someone else now needs to own up to and make amends for" and all those other question that very obviously stand, but for the convenience of one or other party is ignored.

We don't ask these questions because we are scared that we will be 'ruined' by the answer, so we think we would rather live life not knowing so we keep skeletons and elephant skeletons in our closet.

The space they fill stops us accepting new things into our lives. New things come in when there are empty spaces or gap, if it is full of skeletons then there is no room for the new things. Worse still we don't try thing for fear of failure or rejection, we shy away from the difficult conversations and fail to reply or listen. 

Liberating ourselves from the elephant skeletons is something we should all try more often. Plus you have to admit they take up precious space better occupied by dresses!

Part of me wanted to wear one of my outrageous print dresses, or something bright and noticeable but instead I want to wear something that is subtle and hidden.

This is a beautiful 1940s style suit and I love the feel of the material it is so silky and the subtle pattern in the weave makes it really beautiful, the buttons at the neck add interest and draw attention to your face.

Suit: Stop Staring
Shoes: Aldo

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Trials, Planetary Laws and a Lawyer's unexpected patent

This morning in 1536, Anne Boleyn woke up in the Tower of London and went to face her trial. She knew she would be sentenced to death, but there was still her daughter to preserve. She was charged with treason, adultery and incest.

In 1618 Johannes Kepler confirmed his previously rejected discovery of the third law of planetary motion. It was ground breaking as it moved away from the idea of perfect circles, and well he was outrageous, he actually used physics in astronomy! The establishment didn't like that. Without these discoveries there would have been no foundation for Newton's work on gravity.

In 1718, James Puckle and London Lawyer patented the first machine gun, it fired 9 shots per minute and was called the "Defense gun"  though it is best known as the puckle gun. As with many ideas and inventions the design was ahead of it's time and so never achieved mass production because the components were too complex to be manufactured accurately by the gunsmiths of time. Indeed it was said that the gun "only wounded those who hold shares therein".

Each of these events shaped the world we live in today, Anne Boleyn's daughter defeated a superpower and set us on the road to empire. Kepler's law gave us space travel, satellites, mobile phones, communication and well you can see how James Puckle changed the world on the news every day. It is the ripples of history on the pond of time.

Today it had to be a dress with stripes because the way the bands follow are like the peak and troughs of the waves in the pond, it makes sense that it is blue too.

Dress: Pinup Girl Clothing
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Just look into your heart my friend

A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you today just the way you are.

It takes a big personality to do that, to be real which probably explains why all my friends are different and a long way from so called "normal" which equates in my book to average. Who wants to be or know mediocre people? I have enough mind numbingly dull people to deal with in every day life without inviting them into my personal life. I like to know people who are unforgettable, definitely different people who life has shaped whilst they have shaped their lives. The people with real strength of character.

It is a rag tag band of people who do unusual things and don't think quite like other people do, some people say we are "random" but we aren't, we're  just two standard deviations away from the mean.

We try to see the best in people and bring it out in them whilst knowing we sometimes fail to give ourselves this gift. So we are great friends to other people, but at times horrendous friends to ourselves. In fact if a person treated one of our friends the way we treat ourselves, no doubt words would be had, or at least an eye brow raised.

There are those times when you want to say to your friends - If you want, then start to laugh, If you must, then start to cry but be yourself in that moment don't hide. If you are going to be accepted or rejected then make sure it is for the real you and in those moments when you doubt yourself just look into your heart, that is your true self. If that fails borrow "Merv's Special Specs" and take a look at how I see you. I inherited the special mathematics tinted glasses from my Dad - now with added code monkey software upgrades :)

Peoples lives intersect and you can never tell the impact or influence that you have had on a person; you might have only met them once, you might see them every day or you might never have met. It doesn't matter the only distance between friends is a thought, and as some of you know when you have a monkey for a friend, we are for life not just for Christmas. Plus life is much more fun and interesting when you have a monkey in it.

If I could take the pain I would, if I can lighten the load I will but above all I'll just be there when you need me most, whether you're in intensive care in a foreign country, your big ends just gone on the motorway, when you need a hug from super long monkey arms or when you just need a cheerful emails with questionable jokes because you are along way from home.

Given that my friends are for the best part bonkers just like me, I thought I would wear my stop staring! Mad men dress (hehe). It is a bold beautiful check pattern that illustrates wonderfully how friends intersect your life.

I think this dress is charming  I love the offset neckline with the fold over and the button, I like the paneled high waist as it accentuates your curves. It is a pretty and practical work dress.

Dress: Stop Staring
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

What I want for my friends

I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow
And each road leads you where you want to go
And if you're faced with the choice and you have to choose
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you

And if one door opens to another door closed
I hope you keep on walkin' ‘til you find the window
If it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile
But more than anything, more than anything

My wish for you
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold

And while you're out there gettin' where you're gettin' to
I hope you know somebody loves you
And wants the same things too
Yeah, this is my wish

I hope you never look back but you never forget
All the ones who love you and the place you left
I hope you always forgive and you never regret
And you help somebody every chance you get

Oh, you'd find God's grace in every mistake
And always give more than you take
But more than anything, yeah more than anything

My wish for you
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold

And while you're out there gettin' where you're gettin' to
I hope you know somebody loves you
And wants the same things too
Yeah, this is my wish, yeah yeah

My wish for you
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold

Monday, 13 May 2013

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat

On this day in 1940 Winston Churchill gave his first speech to the House after having been offered the King's commission as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the first year of World War II.

I would say to the House as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.

You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs — Victory in spite of all terror — Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.

I admire Churchill, people thought he was wrong about Hitler, when he constantly warned people about Germany rearming. In fact in his memoirs he refers to this time as the "wilderness years". People actually thought he was crazy, I think this happens to people who can see things for what they, who can cut through the smoke and mirrors and say it like it is.

So let's see how good you are at seeing beyond the propaganda and new speak that people generate about one another:

It is time to elect the world leader, and your vote counts. Here are the facts about the three leading candidates:

Which of these candidates would be your choice?

Candidate A associates with crooked politicians, and consults with astrologists. He's had two mistresses. He also chain smokes and drinks 8 to 10 martinis a day. 

Candidate B was kicked out of office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in college and drinks a half bottle of whisky every evening.

Candidate C is a decorated war hero. He's a vegetarian, doesn't smoke, drinks an occasional beer and hasn't had any extramarital affairs and gets up at 6am taking in a morning walk. 

The chances are you just voted for Candidate C - well done!

You just voted a genocidal Maniac into power :) I am sure your parents and HR are proud. You choose Hitler!

Now don't get me wrong I have worked with and met lots of people who are capable of having the wool well and truly pulled over there eyes, and it is a shame. It is a shame because they are the good people who stand by and do nothing, they are the "I'm alright Jack" crowd. The people who care about power and title not people and jobs and real lives. 

In case you are interested A is Roosevelt and B is Churchill.

So food for thought, how many judge on propaganda or what they hear whilst ignoring what there eyes can see? If you do that, then bare in mind you're the kind of person people like Hitler needs to get into power. You are the good people who stand by and do nothing, for that is all you need to do for evil to succeed.

People are always telling me I wear my heart on my sleeve so for a change today I am wearing it on my pockets :) I love the simple sweet home made feel of this skirt. The navy with the small white polka dots in a circle skirt with the contrasting heart pockets with little bows. The halterneck is sweet too, but the outfit is made by the pockets.

Skirt: Circle skirt with pockets Vivien of Holloway
Top: Halterneck in white by Vivien of Holloway
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Character contributes to beauty

Character contributes to beauty. It fortifies a woman as her youth fades. A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude, and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful.

A Woman's beauty

Her pretty face first attracts a person who wants to flirt,
Her kind heart is what attracts a lover, 
Her strength of character now that, that is what attracts a man.

I am always telling people, care more for your character than for your reputation. Your character is what you think of yourself, your reputation is merely what other people think of you.

The reason that your character is so important is simple. That's the person who stares back at you in the mirror. I think the reason that judgemental people irritate me so much is because they aren't the people looking into the other persons mirror! I mean how arrogant are you to think that what is appropriate for you is appropriate for everyone, not to mention incredibly narrow minded.

So there is wisdom in the tale of Snow White, the fairest of them all, are the people who see the beauty of their true self, their character. Vain people, see only what people think of them and can't face themselves.

Dress: Grace by Pinup Girl Clothing
Shoes: Aldo