Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Holiday capsule using my Earth Element scarf

At this time of the year, many of us are planning our summer holidays and, in particular, wondering what clothes to pack. One of my favourite bloggers is Janice of The Vivienne Files, who often bases her travel capsules around a scarf or a piece of art. I always receive compliments when I'm wearing my Colour Elements scarf, shown below, so I decided to base my holiday capsule around these colours à la Vivienne.
Earth Element colours

The beauty of creating a capsule using your favourite scarf is that all the colours will go together and you know that you will look good in them. We will be away for almost three weeks as this is going to be a special birthday trip, so I will need to take more clothes than usual. It's important that everything will mix and match to create lots of different outfits. However we are staying in an apartment in Paris for three nights after visiting London, so I can do some hand washing there if need be. We will be taking larger cases than normal as most of our travelling will be by train, with just one flight at the end of our holiday, where we are paying for cases in the hold. I did say that this was a special birthday trip!

Autumn in summer by sue-walker on Polyvore featuring Gap, Lacoste, Warehouse, Lucien Pellat-Finet, River Island, Eileen Fisher, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Madewell and M&Co

The capsule above is based on colours that suit me, however you can use the same principle to build your own holiday capsule: if you look better in softer, cooler or brighter colours, then you might use a scarf like one of the three shown below.


Janice often uses Hermès scarves, which I suspect are beyond the budgets of most over 60 women, however you can still use one for inspiration. You may have noticed that there aren't any swimsuits or beach wraps in my travel capsule, as we will be visiting cities rather than beaches. You can include them in your own holiday wardrobe, using the same principles to ensure that everything coordinates and will definitely be worn on your holiday.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

April Challenge: hiding your belly

First of all, to my regular followers, apologies for the lack of posting. I hope to make up for it over the next month or so before I go off on my birthday holiday! More of that later, in another post.

I know it's June, however I wanted to show you some of the outfits I wore during April for the Hide Your Belly challenge, which was one of the 40+ Styleclub challenges.

Outfits 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

The above outfits are the ones that I felt worked the best for me, for several reasons.

Starting from the left,with outfit 1: the colours blend in well, so there's not an obvious line, plus the top is patterned and also slightly ruched. Those two factors combined help to hide my tummy.

Outfit 2 has more contrast, however the dark green cardigan and trousers create a column of colour, which draws the eyes down and makes me look taller and slimmer (yay!). The scarf has a similar effect and draws the attention upwards to my portrait area.

Outfit 3 has a long cardigan, which helps to draw the eyes down and avoids anyone looking at the danger zone! If I'd worn a darker top to match the trousers, the slimming effect would have been even greater.

Outfits 4 and 5 are actually going against the "rules" as they have horizontal stripes (or hoops, according to my OH!). Both tops skim the body, so no obvious belly, however horizontal stripes can make you look broader. I think they work though as I am wearing a scarf in outfit 4, which helps to elongate, plus the long pendant in outfit 2 has a similar effect.

Some of the tips that Sylvia gave us were to choose a flattering top, including asymmetrical tops, ones with vertical stripes (no comment!), printed and draped tops.  Layering - in particular using cardigans and jackets - also helps, especially if you create a column of colour. Sylvia suggested adding shape and structure within an outfit, combining wide with more fitted, and the use of accessories to add structure, as well as using scarves to highlight your portrait area.

As you can see, I've followed Sylvia's guidelines in most of these outfits; even when I bent the rules, I think it worked. I'm sure that I'm not the only over 60 woman with a bit of a tummy, so please feel free to share any other tips that you may have.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Beauty blogger take 2

It's easy to think that if you spend enough money you will have perfect skin. When I tested Avon's Anew Platinum range for over 60s, which is comparatively cheap, I was pleased by the way my skin reacted and felt there were slight improvements over the 25 days. I wasn't expecting much and, to be honest, I wouldn't have expected any more if I had been trying top of the range products (with prices to match!) Good skin isn't created overnight.

By the time we reach our 60s we can expect our skin to be a bit set in its ways and we should know how to look after it. My skin is mixed, with some areas that can become dry if I'm haphazard in my beauty routine. I always cleanse my skin at night, however late I go to bed and however tired I am. I always use products with a minimum of SPF25 on my face, even in winter. I also keep my face well moisturised to avoid it becoming dry. Those are the positives to my skincare routine. I've already confessed to not exfoliating so I have decided to buy a gentle refiner to use twice a week to see if this makes a difference to my skin. I will also try using a moisturising face mask on a regular basis. Only then can I dare to call myself a beauty blogger!

Let's go back to my first sentence. In my view, good skin doesn't necessarily come from spending money. Of course expensive face creams are likely to have some effect, but I believe that other factors are just as important and that fundamentally beauty comes from inside as well as outside.

A healthy balanced diet is very important: too much sugar and too many greasy meals are likely to show in our faces. How many of us, when suffering with spots as teenagers, were told by our mothers to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and to stop wasting our pocket money on sweets and chips? Now that we're a lot older - and hopefully a bit wiser too! - we can see that their words made sense. We should also make sure that we drink enough water by quenching our thirst with water rather than sweet fizzy drinks. I've noticed when eating out in France that carafes of water are put out on the tables, even when you've ordered a bottle of wine. It's a good idea to drink a glass of water for every glass of wine that you drink - though I don't necessarily recommend having eight glasses of wine as well as the requisite eight glasses of water a day!

I'm a great believer in daily exercise too, whether you run, cycle, go to the gym or just walk on a regular basis. Something to raise your heart rate a bit, get the blood flowing through your veins and maybe even break into a sweat! If you can exercise outdoors in the fresh air even better, though city dwellers might want to avoid breathing in too much polluted city air. A dog is the perfect accessory, though our dog Lisa tends to amble along so no chance of breaking into a sweat when we walk her!

I've mentioned the importance of using SPF25+ whenever you're outdoors, even in winter and on cloudy days. I have pale, freckled skin so I am extra careful. I've never been one for sitting in the sun, which may be one reason why I'm fortunate enough to have good skin. When walking outdoors, I'll walk in the shade rather than on the sunny side of the street. Obviously I've already applied plenty of sun cream before leaving the house and will apply more if I'm out for a while. Of course looks aren't everything, but I'm amazed by how many women of a similar age that I see, especially living on the coast, who have a deep tan matched by deep wrinkles. It's not just the fact that it's ageing them that concerns me, but the increased risk of skin cancer.

One of my earliest blog posts, written over four years ago, was about the importance of smiling. In fact I said that it was my best anti-ageing tip ever. If we're going to get lines on our face, I'd rather they were laughter lines than frown lines. I also am a strong believer that the way we are feeling inside is reflected on our faces. How often are we drawn to people who are lovely, caring people, even when they're not conventionally beautiful? On the other hand, I tend to be put off people who are superficially good-looking but who are also self-centred and selfish.

What about you? Have you tried any expensive beauty creams that you can recommend? Do you have any beauty tips to share with us?

La Prairie Platinum cream isn't cheap!
Disclaimer: I have never tried La Prairie Platinum cream as I can't imagine spending hundreds of pounds on my face. It's possible that it will make me look at least 10 years younger, so if I am sent a free sample I'd be happy to give it a go!

Monday, 17 April 2017

Becoming a beauty blogger

I was very excited when I was asked to write a beauty blog for Avon - after all, I'm hardly Twiggy, Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren or any other glamorous star who is over 60. However I could understand the reasoning, as I'm sure many of you react like me when you see famous faces promoting beauty products: "she's obviously had work done"; "bet she's been photo-shopped" or "it's alright for her, she's always been beautiful!" tend to be my usual reactions. You too? Would you be more convinced by an ordinary woman praising a particular face cream?

I was sent four products from the Anew Platinum range, which is aimed at over 60s. I was asked to keep a skin diary and also to take some photos over the next 25 days.

I took this photo after I had opened the parcel with great excitement. The packaging was good, as you can see above, and didn't scream "cheap product", so there was no need to hide the jars from any visitors. I was given an Instant Definition Treatment, Eye and Lip Cream, Day Cream and Night Cream. I was pleased to see that the Day Cream had SPF25 as I live in Spain so need that as a minimum. Having said that, I tend to avoid direct sunlight as I have fair, freckled skin.

Day one photo
This is the photo of me on day 1 - no make-up and not smiling, so pretty scary, yes? It was soooo tempting to photo-shop this photo in an attempt to look ten years younger, but I managed to resist. This is what a real make-up-free woman over 60 looks like, folks!

I won't show you the photos that I took over the following three weeks, as they were no better than the one above. I usually smile in my photos, as I believe that a smile is better than a face-lift (as well as being cheaper!) and so in my view all the photos were highly unflattering. The reason I decided not to smile was that I thought it would be easier to spot any changes if the photos appeared similar.

To be honest, I couldn't see any miraculous changes to my skin. I think the wrinkles might have lessened a bit, my jaw might have tightened a fraction and my skin definitely had a healthy glow. After only 25 days I hadn't expected much,so this was very promising. I think it's definitely worth continuing to use this range of beauty creams. However I'll post the final photo and let you be the judges!

Final day photo
Would I recommend using these products? I certainly felt that they compared well to much more expensive brands. I was slightly concerned by tiny flakes on my skin when I first started using the products, but put that down to dead cells (I have to confess to not exfoliating my skin!). Also, I wasn't using an Avon cleanser, so I then made sure to wait a while after cleansing in case the products were reacting to each other, and this seemed to do the trick. I thought the day and night creams might be too rich, however they absorbed easily and my skin certainly felt lovely and soft after using them. I flew to London and back during the twenty five days and was pleased that my skin didn't dry out.  I was particularly pleased when a consultant at one of the beauty counters in John Lewis commented that I had very good skin!

So, what is your verdict? Can you see the difference? If you're over 60, would you be persuaded to use these beauty products too?

NB. I was gifted the four products, which is why I have decided to let you be the final judges. They do say that pictures speak louder than words anyway!

Monday, 10 April 2017

My Spring 33 capsule wardrobe

These are the 33 items of clothing that form my Spring capsule wardrobe and that I will be wearing over the next three months. I first discovered Project 333 a couple of years ago. The idea is, as you may have guessed, to have a wardrobe of 33 items of clothing that will last you for the following three months. If you choose wisely, you should be able to mix and match these items to create plenty of outfits and you won't find this capsule limiting. If you follow the above link you will realise that I cheat a bit by not including accessories and shoes in my capsule!

There are a dozen tops here, most of which are warm shades, as I am gradually building up a wardrobe in my most flattering colours. Obviously I need to ensure that my trousers will go well with these tops.

I haven't included any skirts in my capsule, though I might replace one of the pairs of trousers in the first photo with a skirt when it becomes warmer, as there are two pairs of jeans and two pairs of wool trousers. With eight pairs of trousers and twelve tops, it's mathematically possible to create enough outfits to cover three months without repeating any of them, though some combinations will look better than others. That's not the end of the story though, as during the next three months there will be days when I need an outer layer.

I have included three cardigans and one merino jumper as shown above, which will go well with the warmer colours in my capsule. I also need to choose some outer layers to go with the navy, grey and blue items in my wardrobe.

Finally, I have added a few dressier tops for when we go out in the evening or for a special occasion, plus a dress -  in the hope that we might have some warm weather towards the end of the three months!

There are six new pieces in this capsule of thirty three items of clothing, all of which have been chosen because they will go well with existing pieces and will prove versatile. I'm aiming to gradually replace older clothes that aren't in my best colours. Of course I also have a collection of accessories that will add individuality to my outfits and ensure that I don't become bored with them. If I was going on holiday before the end of June, I would just select tops and bottoms in the warmer colours and avoid the navy, grey and blue items. I realise that I should build up my wardrobe around neutrals, however regular readers will know how much I love a dash of colour! That's where accessories are so useful in creating outfits that reflect your personality.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Style and Colour Event

Last week I attended a Style and Colour Event, organised by Maria of Looking Stylish. It was a fun-filled and very informative day, with lots of activities to help us become more stylish, great company and yummy food: what more could you want?

Maria covered so many topics that I'd need to write a book to tell you about them all! She identified six characteristics of colouring; light, deep, warm, cool, bright and soft. I'm warm with a secondary of soft. She showed us some universal colours that everyone can wear - taupe, navy (rather than black), pewter, camel and brown. Having said that, as a warm/soft, I need to look for warmer shades of taupe, navy, etc. When wearing neutrals, we should try adding two or three pieces in one of our accent colours  Maria also suggested adding three finishing touches to our outfits to make them more stylish, such as jewellery, scarves, handbags, shoes, sunglasses and make-up. Other topics covered included how to dress to suit our body shape, make-up and dressing to suit our personalities.

One session that I particularly enjoyed was when Maria showed us her travel capsule, which she had packed into the following carry-on bag.

Nearly everything came in threes or multiples of three: three pairs of trousers, three pairs of leggings, three dresses, six tops, three cover-ups, three scarves and three necklaces. The clothes were rolled up in sets of three, and didn't have any creases, as Maria demonstrated when she pulled them out of the bag and then hung them up.

I loved the two pairs of shoes plus one pair of sandals that she had packed. Perfect holiday footwear!

Finally Maria had tucked two smaller bags inside a stylish tote.

Maria has warm colouring so used neutrals of brown and cream, with salmon, teal and turquoise accents. She had included a few patterned pieces to add interest and also to pull different colours together. Her scarves and necklaces were also used to make the outfits look coordinated and stylish.

For many of us, the most revealing moment was when Maria selected a scarf for several participants in their most flattering colours. Our reaction was a collective "Wow!"

Friday, 17 March 2017

Capsule wardrobe challenges; body types

I always enjoy taking part in style challenges, partly because it encourages me to be more creative when putting together outfits, however mainly because of the great feedback from other participants. I thought it might be fun to share some of my outfits from the 40+ Style Club challenges that gained the approval of others taking part.

The first challenge was called the Body Type Challenge: the idea was to try to flatter our varying body types as well as meeting the criteria of the daily challenges. We did this over a period of two weeks. I'm a rectangle (shoulders and hips are a similar width and so is my waist), verging on an apple because of my tummy! I thought it might be interesting to show you the six outfits (out of ten) that gained the most favourable comments and what everyone liked about them.

Outfit 1
Outfit 2
Outfit One was commended by one person because the circles in the necklace picked up the polka dots in my top. Comments were also made about the contrast between the polka dot top and the tweed jacket.

Outfit Two was liked for a night out and in particular for the necklace (which is the same necklace as in outfit one).

Outfit 3

Outfit 4 
Outfit Three. Many people commented that they liked the pendant, as well as the colour of the cardigan.

Outfit Four.  The mix of stripes was a great hit, plus the pop of red. One person loved the jacket, which happens to be one of my favourites as it's from the Principles petite range so fits me well.

Outfit 5

Outfit 6
Outfit Five. Everyone liked the pop of orange showing under the tunic, as well as commenting that the tunic had a lovely light look.

Outfit Six proved very popular, with people loving the colours on me, plus the contrast between the tweed jacket and the top.

Some of these outfits I've worn before, however the two outfits with the tweed jacket and the mixed stripes look were new ones that I tried out because of the challenge. Which of these outfits do you like the best?

Saturday, 11 March 2017

My travel capsule wardrobe

Each season I create a capsule wardrobe of 33 items of clothing, as part of Project 333. In my winter capsule I have nineteen long-sleeved tops, three jackets, three long cardigans, three pairs of trousers and one skirt. I also have a wool coat and trench coat for outer layers and a couple of dresses (not shown) for parties. This gives me plenty of variety over the winter months, however I am now planning to go on holiday and I can't fit everything into my suitcase! How do I decide which clothes I'm taking on our trip to Portugal?

I plan to take one of these long cardigans and possibly the brown tweed jacket.

I will be away for nine days so obviously don't need all twelve tops shown above! I'm definitely going to pack the lace top for going out in the evenings and will be selecting other tops that will go with the long cardigan and also the bottoms that I'm taking.

Do I take the winter coat or the trench coat? Or both? That will depend on the weather forecast! I won't be taking either of the jackets as, if I feel I need one, my brown tweed jacket will be the best option.

The blouse in the first picture above will go with the rest of my travel wardrobe, so it's a possibility.

These are all warm tops so I may pack either the green or cream one if the weather is going to be cold. 

Finally, the red skirt will be packed for when we go out to dinner. If it's cold I'll make sure we find a restaurant close to our hotel! I'll definitely be taking the chocolate brown and camel trousers. The jeans may be included if there's room in my case as I will be travelling in one pair of trousers and packing the other pair.

I intend to take two pairs of casual shoes, one of which will be trainers as I expect to do a lot of walking, plus a smarter pair for the evenings. Similarly I will have a tote bag for daytime and a smaller bag for going out at night. Apart from enough underwear for nine days, and nightwear, that will be all my clothes. Anyone who knows me will take it for granted that I will have a selection of scarves and jewellery to make my outfits more colourful.

In the photo above you can see the final selection of tops and bottoms that were packed for my holiday. I have realised that two of the items shown weren't in my winter capsule, so I'm guilty of cheating a bit! My excuse is that I have been exchanging a couple of items as I plan my Spring capsule, and realised that they would be useful for my travel capsule as I could add layers if need be. You can see a lime green long-sleeved top, which has replaced my cream warm top, and a leopard print tunic, which I took as an extra top for evenings. The camisoles are allowed as extra layers under the leopard print top, so I'm not cheating with them! This travel capsule proved to be perfect for our holiday, as the weather was changeable.

I have now returned from our holiday (we had a brilliant time, though the weather could have been better!) and am concentrating on my Spring capsule wardrobe. I do have a visit to London to see my children soon, so I will definitely need to keep a few winter items out for that. 

Saturday, 18 February 2017

My word for 2017: Celebration

Celebration. What do I have to celebrate? What do you have to celebrate? Let's start with me - after all, this is my blog!

I know that I'm a bit late with revealing my word for 2017, but life has been getting in the way of blogging recently. There's another reason, however it's too early to tell you, so that will have to be added to the comments at the right time. (I do love a mystery, don't you?) I will tell you though that it's to do with money, however I have realised that there are so many other things in my life to celebrate that are nothing to do with money - and which are far more important than money - some of which I describe below.

First of all, I have to celebrate my family and my friends. I have three children whom I am immensely proud of and who are all lovely people: a real cause for celebration. I am lucky enough to have many good friends, some of whom I have known for many years, and others who became my friends after we moved to Spain nearly nine years ago. I should also add that I count my extended family amongst my friends. Last, but definitely not least, is my second husband John. I have known him for twenty five years (we met through Serpentine running club) and we married almost eight years ago surrounded by both our families and close friends. Since we met we have been lucky enough to go on some amazing holidays together, visiting Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the USA as well as many countries in Europe. Having said that, it's still good to return to the UK to visit our families and meet up with many of our friends there.

Next I have to celebrate the fact that I am fit and healthy. I know many people aren't as fortunate as I am, so I appreciate the fact that I am able to go to dance exercise classes three mornings a week. I have also started to learn Sevillanos and Flamenco for one hour on Tuesday evenings, which is great fun. As we don't have a car we walk everywhere, plus we go on walks in the countryside of between 9k and 10k with our local Day Centre.  John and I follow a healthy diet, apart from the occasional pizza - after all, both chocolate and red wine have health benefits, don't they? In my case I haven't eaten meat for over 30 years, though I do occasionally eat fish.

I also celebrate the fact that I have a roof over my head and that we have running water and electricity. Many other people in the world don't have these luxuries that most of us take for granted. Having said that, we have experienced the occasional power cut since moving to Spain, usually because there is a fiesta in town with extra lights and musical acts using lots of electric power!

Another cause of celebration is the way we have been accepted by our Spanish neighbours in Jumilla and how patient they are when we try to speak to them in Spanish. Sadly, nowadays, residents in many other countries are not so welcoming towards immigrants. We have been accepted as part of the local community and are referred to as "Jumillanos".

As I said before, I have so many other things to celebrate in my life, however the final one that I would like to mention is my blog and the new friends that I have made through blogging: yes you, my readers.

Now it's your turn: what do you have to celebrate in your life?

Sunday, 15 January 2017

New Year - New You - New Me

I know! It's way past New Year's Day and all the other bloggers out there wished you a Happy New Year at the beginning of the month, not half way through it. Did they inspire you? Were you really enthusiastic as you made your New Year's resolutions, and are you still sticking to them? I have a confession to make: I haven't even thought about New Year's resolutions and I've had fourteen days to do so, which means I'm unlikely to make any now  I hope you're not too shocked!

I'd like to be healthier, happier and more stylish in 2017, and I would like to wish the same for you. I doubt if I'll achieve that by making any traditional resolutions though. I think I'm more likely to succeed if I take small steps; poco a poco, as my Spanish friends would say. Little by little.

This approach worked quite well in 2016. Having been told I had arthritis in my jaw, I decided to follow an anti-inflammatory diet and take supplements such as Co-enzyme Q10 and Omega 3. Interestingly, I was fine until I went on holiday, didn't think so much about what I was eating and didn't take the supplements while I was away. On my return I had neck pain that I put down to arthritis. It could just be coincidence, but since resuming my regime I've had no further pain.

As an Over 60 woman, I believe it is important to keep fit as you get older. I actually met John, my second husband, through a running club in London. We don't run much now that we've retired to Spain (too hot most of the time), but we walk everywhere, partly because we don't own a car, and partly because we enjoy it and have a dog to exercise. In December I joined a local dance school, where I go three times a week for a Bailoterapia class. I suspect that I'm twice the age of some of my classmates, who are mostly young Mums enjoying the class while their children are at school. I will definitely keep on going to my dance exercise classes this year as we have so much fun as well as becoming fitter.

Being more stylish is my final aim. Note that I haven't said that I want to become more fashionable, which in some respects would be the easier option. I could just buy a few fashion magazines every month and purchase the clothes that I see inside their pages. Stylish isn't as straightforward. Take a look at Elle's Best Dressed List: apart from the fact that I didn't spot any over 60s, I could only see myself wearing a handful of the outfits shown. However what becomes clear is that each woman shown there has developed her own style, and that is the key. Not to copy what stylish women wear, although maybe you can be inspired by some of them whose style is similar to your own, but to dress to express your own individuality.

Over the last two weeks I carried out an interesting experiment. I took a photo of my outfit each day, then looked at them all to see which ones were my favourites and which ones I think flattered me the most. These were my top three (in no particular order!)


Apart from the fact that my outfit was very colourful in the first photo (regular readers will know how much I love colour), I can see a common theme. I'm wearing a long pendant or scarf with each outfit, which helps to draw the eyes down and give the illusion that I'm slimmer and taller than in real life! In the second two photos I'm wearing neutral outfits, but there is some contrast to lighten the look.

You of course may be thinking that you don't find these outfits particularly stylish, which obviously is your prerogative, but the secret is that I felt stylish wearing them so they made me feel good. Isn't that the most important thing? Wearing clothes that we love and that we enjoy wearing should be our main aim. If we also look stylish, that's a bonus.