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Archive for the ‘Fashion’ Category

Make room for multicolor fashions in your closet and your life!

As you already know I’m not that kind of girl. Well most of the time. I’m also not one of those people given to self-aggrandizement when I’m right about something. The phrase I told you so never escapes my lips. I hate hearing it, so I never say it?  Having just heard me say “never,” you know what is about to come next. And I ask you to indulge me just this once, and in return I promise I’ll never say it again.

On my flight from Paris to Istanbul to attend the Paints Istanbul trade show, I picked up a copy of the International Herald Tribune. After slogging through numerous articles about the European monetary crisis and the US election, you can imagine my joy and relief when I got to a Fashion New York Special Report from the New York Times. In it, reporter Suzy Menkes gave her overview on the continuing color revolution that will brighten our closets and make us look and feel good for summer 2013. At last, I thought, something to look forward to.

This color trend actually hit the runway and our wardrobes back in 2010 with the introduction of color blocking – the pairing of two bold colors side by side. Now, according to the Times article, the new trend is a “combination of bright palettes, livid shades and digital patterns.”

Menkes focused on 12 fashion designers, some of them better known than others, and described how they were blending color, fabric and cultures into colorful creations for the catwalk. The photos alone were enough to brighten anyone’s day.

Black will, of course, continue to be a staple of most wardrobes, but at best it will play a supporting role, as will other neutrals such as taupe, beige and of course all those shades of grey.

Which brings me back to the point of my post and how well it ties into not only the title of my book, Any Color but Beige but my own personal philosophy of living life in color. I told you so!

photo: © istockphoto.com/tillisphotography

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Temptation is on every street corner in Paris.

The smell of freshly baked, buttery croissants greets me every morning as I walk past the boulangerie on my way to early morning meetings. Aaah, you can’t start the day without breakfast, I think. And where better to have croissants than in …

The colorful macaroons of the patisserie catch my eye after lunch. Oooh, but they’re small, I think. Maybe…

The temptation to order a glass of wine with lunch. Everyone drinks wine in …

In Paris, it’s very easy for the pounds to sneak up on you if you’re not careful. But I forego all of this and not because of my extraordinary willpower. It’s because in the midst of all of this sweet seduction lives an even sweeter one – a lingerie boutique called Etam.

For some women, it’s shoes. For others, it’s chocolate or the latest fashions hot off the runway. For me, it’s always been two things: lingerie and hats. It seems I can’t pass a boutique without buying a little something of one or the other. And if it’s lingerie, it’s always a “little” something.

And so, the incentive to be careful with calories is built into just about every trip. It’s a lot easier with hats though – especially berets – they look good on everyone, and it doesn’t matter what size your head is.

Skimpy underthings, even if I’m the only one who sees them, still have to look good. And believe me, when it comes to things that look good on me, I’m not a perfectionist. It just has to look good enough to make me feel good.

What does good enough constitute? The right cut, the right color and the right fit. Et voila!

Real women have curves, and I happen to like my curves, even if they’re sometimes a bit rebellious. I’ve made peace with my pooch years ago.

Today, I purchased a navy blue body-hugging nightie with a lace panel bra. Not only was the dark color slimming, it was also very flattering. Navy is a color that most people can wear well. It’s neutral and gives you a break from all that black.

The cut and the lycra of this one made it cling in all of the right places. When I put it on, it felt clingy but oh so comfortable.

A lace bra and panty set in the same navy color and with the same relaxed fit, made me feel so sexy that I bought it and another one in hot pink. Color can enhance as well as distract. It’s the overall picture, the sum of my parts that I see and not little defects. And I just feel pretty in pink.

Slip into something comfortable

Today’s purchases made me remember my friend Angela. She said that whenever she had an important meeting with big clients she always wore her “power underwear,” which consisted of a red bra and panties. Only Angela knew she was wearing them. Together they constituted a secret weapon that made her feel powerful.

Thinking of her makes me think of all of my female friends who keep their sexy lingerie in a drawer, tucked away waiting for some special occasion, usually linked to the nascent days of a new relationship, until cold winters and habit sets in. In the end, they forget their treasure troves of satin and lace trimmings that could make them feel good underneath it all, whether with some one or alone.

I think of them and catch a glimpse of myself and my new lingerie in the mirror, and I think. “Not bad. Not bad at all.”

And that’s why I do it. That’s why we should all do it.

Let’s face it. While it’s nice to dress or undress for a man, they really don’t care what you have on as long as it’s easy to take it off. Many is the time that I’ve barely made an entrance in a stunning something before it’s in a puddle of satin folds on the floor. “But my…” I stammer in amazed confusion. To which he responds in words made famous by Joe Cocker, “Baby, you can leave your hat on.

Hat be damned!

*Original illustration by Helen Samson for Cafe Girl Books. http://www.samson-design.ca

 

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Last week I was the guest speaker at the Montreal Chroma-Zone meeting of the Color Marketing Group. My topic was how to create a personal color palette. I noted, and rightly so, that as color marketing professionals we’re so busy adding color to other peoples’ lives we sometimes forget to add color to our own. A short survey of the room proved me right.

My talk focused on the metaphorical use of color in your life or, to put it another way, how to decorate your soul. The best way to do this is to get out of your comfort zone, to shift out of your safe neutral, “beige” existence and take some chances.

Of course if you give a speech like this, you have to show your audience that you practice what you preach. And, so, I told them about three things I did this summer.

The first thing I did was to get my “glam” on. I treated myself to a photography session to experience the glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Era when stars like Hayworth, Gardner, Garbo and Dietrich ruled the red carpet.

Get your glam on…

It’s amazing what good lighting and a little makeup can do for a girl. I did this for me but I am happy to share a photo with you. Notice the purple gown and the red lips.  This is one combination I would never have put together myself, but it has become one of my favorite go-to color combinations for special occasions. Now, whenever I need a little pick me up, I look at one of the pictures and then get dressed, i.e., get my glam on and go out with the girls. It works wonders.

My next colorful summer adventure was in the kitchen. I treated a friend to a lesson at a wonderful little cooking school in Old Montreal called Ateliers et Saveurs. Check out this colorful salad composé of corn, red pepper and cucumber dressed with a spicy Tabasco dressing. The only thing more colorful than the salad is my dress – a lively mixed pattern of salmon, rose, red and black swirls. Both the dish and me were hot stuff.

I rounded out my tales of my summer color by confessing to a dalliance with a much younger man which, while it was all too brief, was rendered unforgettable with a melody he composed just for me. One friend who heard the melody said that it captured me perfectly. Whenever I listen to it, I see the pastel colors of a Parisian sunset, all soft and pretty. And I wonder if that was how he saw me? And if, when he wrote it, he was thinking about last spring and Paris and our long walks by the Seine. I wonder if that melody colors his memories the way it colors mine.

Katja’s (Cat’s) Melody

And now we’re coming into one of the most colorful seasons of all – at least in my neck of the woods – fall.  For those of you lucky enough to experience a change of seasons, now would be the perfect time to kick back with a cup of coffee and contemplate the colors you can add to your own personal palette. And for those of you located in a more consistent climate, remember you don’t need a change of seasons to inspire your own personal color palette. All you need is a change of mind. It doesn’t matter whether your personal palette is bright and bold, or pastel and pretty, because color is a choice. And if you don’t like it, you can always change it.

In the meantime, own it, wear it, live it!

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Color is often used to describe changes in our physical and emotional well-being. A ruddy complexion means you might be burning up

Lady in Red

with fever but it could also mean you are flushed with excitement or anger. If your face goes white you could be about to pass out or experiencing an emotional shock or intense fear. You can be green with envy or just a bit queasy; yellow can mean jaundice or cowardliness. Feeling “in the pink” is good while Holly Golightly’s “the mean reds” in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is bad!

Color can also change our physiological and emotional states and that’s the very reason that changing color in our wardrobe or our personal space can give us a much-needed lift, emotionally and physically.  Blue induces a sense of calm and tranquility while orange encourages us to be more social. Need a dash of courage, try wearing red. Teal is a universal color that looks good on everyone. And when we look good we feel good.

So what does color say about you? First, look in your closet. If you notice a preponderance of one color, what does that – let’s call it your color intuition – tell you about yourself? Which colors feel right when you put them on? Is there one color that has been languishing in your closet for months? That’s your color orphan. Give it away!

Next expand your vision to your personal space. How many of your favorite colors, or versions of, have migrated over to and found their way into the most comfortable rooms of your home? This is another sign of color intuition at work.

Not sure you have a color preference or what you might be attracted to? Try this exercise. Visit the home furnishings department of your favorite retail store. Look at the kitchen and bath linens and accessories. These are usually grouped by color. Which color group are you drawn to? Which do you avoid?

Whether you’re a color maven or a newbie let’s take a quick look at what color says about you.

Red – is passionate, dangerous and sexy. It gives off one of two messages: Watch me! or Watch out!

Pink – is all sugar and spice and everything nice. It’s feminine and romantic.

Yellow – is the color of sunshine. Just as sunny days always lift our spirits, a dash of yellow induces cheerfulness and generates warmth and spontaneity.

Orange – is a color that combines the energy of red with the joy and sunny attitude of yellow. Frank Sinatra once called it the happiest color. When you wear orange you can say, “I did it my way.”

Green – is the most restful color for the human eye and is said to have a healing power. It symbolizes growth and freshness and creativity – it’s no wonder most traditional cures come from nature.

Blue – is associated with calm, tranquility and stability. Ever spent time contemplating the ocean or the sky and felt totally at peace? It also symbolizes trust, loyalty, faith and stability. And while it’s typically the favorite color of most men, women like it too. Light blue indicates softness while dark blue represents knowledge and dependability.

Purple – is a magical color. Leonard di Vinci posited that sitting in a purple light enhanced his meditative abilities ten-fold. I suppose that’s why we find a lot of purple in stained glass windows. It’s also a royal color full of wisdom and dignity. If you want to feel like “Queen for a Day” – array yourself  in purple.

Brown –is a masculine color. It’s also a classic neutral, as dependable as your morning cuppa joe. Various shades of brown, from espresso to latte, will give you a sense of stability.

White –symbolizes purity, cleanliness and simplicity. If you’re into classics and perfection – or “nights in white satin” – white is your color.

Black – says style, grace and elegance (and also lops off a few pounds without any effort). It is the color of the quintessential must-have dress for every woman. Want to make an entrance? Wear black with a dash of red, and watch heads turn.

photo: © istockphoto.com/anneleven

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shoesSmallMy first stop on my trip was to the Tango shoe store, Comme Il Faut (loosely translated, it means as is necessary) to purchase a pair of dancing shoes.   And we all know how necessary shoes are to women. And if sexy shoes are necessary to women in general, the right Tango shoes are essential to women who dance.

The store, which is a combination of small showroom and stockroom, was full of women that afternoon.  Shoes of every color, texture, pattern and design were scattered all over the floor.  It reminded me of the shoe department of Nordstrom’s on a Saturday afternoon. The women didn’t know where to look first.

No sooner had one tried on and modeled a pair of two-tone gold and silver Greek style shoes then her attention was quickly diverted to her neighbour’s newly arrived boxes.  The sounds coming from that showroom were nothing short of orgasmic.

I heard one loud woman complain to the young sales assistant that she “wasn’t being shown shoes like those,” and she pointed to the woman across the room who was trying on a polka dotted 1940s style model.  Good grief, I thought we’re going to have to write an 11th commandment, “Thou shall not covet they neighbours shoes.”  The sales assistant patiently explained that there were more models available in smaller sizes than her large size 8. Good for you, honey! I thought. The loud woman said no more.

I opened my first box of shoes, a combination of suede green open toe and black backed shoes that closed with a black satin ribbon across the ankle. They were exquisite. And then I took one look at the four-inch stiletto heel, a shiny patent leather green, and I said to the sales assistant, “You’ve got to be kidding!  You expect me to dance in these?”

Dance? I couldn’t stand up in them let alone imagine myself dancing Tango.  I  said a silent prayer of thanks that I had remembered to pack my much more sensible salsa shoes with the two-and-a-half-inch square heel.  At the very least I could fall back on those well-worn dance shoes.

The sales assistant gave me an amused  “but of course” look and a little nod of encouragement.  “Probar” she said, which I think means try.  Oh what the heck, I thought. I had come this far and I at least owed to myself to try them on.  They weren’t uncomfortable so much as they were unfamiliar.  Hmm maybe, just maybe I could do this.

After an hour of trial and retrial of about two dozen different styles (too much choice confuses me) , I settled on a smart pair of black and red leather shoes in a three-and-a-half-inch heel.  I went for the “smaller” size. They didn’t look at that much smaller but psychologically speaking it helped get over the height hurdle in my head.

Later that afternoon when I wore them to a practise session I was surprised at how comfortable they were.  The height and the angle of the shoe positioned me on my toes, metatarsals to be exact, which are exactly where you are supposed to be when you dance tango.  I could feel an improvement in my posture and movement.  In my head I heard music, not tango music, but the words to a song I had loved as a teenager, Leo Sayer´s, “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.”And they did.

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/Fitzer

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