NOT LETTING AGE DEFINE MY LIFE OR STYLE

London Diary December & Links à la Mode

December will soon be upon and the capital is gearing up for a Santa filled sack of festivities.  Here are some events that may tickle your fancy, if you're looking for alternatives to the usual fare of ice rinks and Winter Wonderlands.

Magic Lantern Festival, Chiswick House
Tall Brown Fox and I did this last year and is a lovely evening event.  It's now open until 1st January and as it's popular make sure you book in good time.  Last year's theme was The Silk Road and the installations were truly stunning and intricately designed.

Wear wellies or walking boots, as some parts of the trail were very muddy by the time we got there.  And taking a torch with you is good idea too.


Christmas at Kew Gardens
It you want to see Kew Gardens in a totally different setting to its daytime one, then you'll be in for a treat with a nightime visit to Christmas At Kew.  A light trail winds its way through the gardens taking you on a wonderful outdoor journey through and past beautiful light installations.  And at the famous Palm House, you are treated to an incredible lazer light show. There are food stalls, a few vintage fairground rides and you can sip mulled wine to keep you warm on your way round.  

Book as soon as you can as it sells out.  Tip - book an early evening slot to get the maximum time there.  Last year, we could only book a late evening slot.  We still had time to enjoy the evening but an extra hour there would have been even better.  

As with the Magic Lantern Festival, wellies and torch are advisable especially if it's recently been raining.

Here I am last year, being totally dwarfed by two towering trees of light at the start of the trail!


Hampton Court Food Festival, 8th-10th Dec
A good start to your Seasonal Feasting would be to visit the BBC's Good Food Festive Feast in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace.  Mulled wine and mince pies here we come.

Unusual Afternoon Teas
So you've done your Christmas shopping and before heading home you fancy a cuppa tea in town but you want to eschew the usual chain of coffee shops for something a tad different.  Nowadays, you don't have to go to the North Pole to taste some Nordic cuisine. How about indulging in  twist on a British classic - a Nordic Afternoon Tea at Aquavit Restaurant.  

You can find lots of other Usual Afternoon Teas in town from a Choco-lat Tea to a Mad Hatter's Tea Party!

The Magic Circle Christmas Show, 19th-29th Dec
If Christmas is to you a magical time of the year, then why not combine it with some real magic at The Magic Circle Christmas Show?

Wildlife Photographer of the Year
And if you need a detox from anything remotely Christmassy, I can highly recommend the The Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017, held annually at the Natural History Museum.  Tall Brown Fox and I go every year, as we shall next month and the stunning photography never fails to disappoint.  It's running through until 28th May 2018.  

And Finally... Links à la Mode

With only just getting back into a blogging rhythm again after a long time away,  I decided to dip my toe in and submit a post to the weekly round up feature on Independent Fashion Bloggers.  I've been full of cold this week - thank you so much Tall Brown Fox for sharing your cold with me (!) so it was a welcomed boost to find out that my Playing with Proportions  post was chosen.

Thanks to Tarah-Lynn for including my post in the weekly round up Links à la Mode.  All the links are listed below.  Swing by some of them for interesting reads.


On to the links...

I particularly liked Cubicle Chic's post on why the change to Instagram's algorithm holds no fear for her.

Machu Picchu is on my bucket list and if you have the travel bug, then Have Clothes, Will Travel's post on visiting this extraordinary place is worth book marking.  

All the links are below, so why not dive in and discover some new blogs.  
Happy reading!

Tarah Lynn writes: So many ideas, so little time! Time to dig deep into this week's fashions posts and in-depth thought pieces dealing with feeling stuck in the blogger-sphere and Instagram algorithm mind games. You ready?
Links à la Mode, November 16th
SPONSOR: Shopbop Coach 1941, T by Alexander Wang Tops, Salvatore Ferragamo Flats, Caterina Bertini, Barton Perreira, Winston White, Joggers, Leather Jackets, Beanies, Men's Hogarth

Playing with Proportions | Cropped Plaid Shirt over a Denim Dungarees Dress

Does every petite woman long to be a tall, willowy lass?

Do petite women see themselves as vertically challenged?

Is it really necessary for petite women to dress as if they are creating the illusion of being taller than they actually are?

My, my, so many questions to kick off a post with.

As a bone fide, authenticated member of the petite club, this petite woman answers; No! No! and No!

Playing with Proportions; Cropped Plaid Shirt and Denim Dungarees Dress | Petite Silver Vixen

Playing with Proportions; Cropped Plaid Shirt and Denim Dungarees Dress | Petite Silver Vixen

It's no secret that the height gene passed me by.  I think it was on holiday at the time of my conception.  No matter.  I got extra helpings of other useful genes!

Apart from my first decade and a half, I've happily lived with my 5'1" height all my life.  I've no idea what it would be like to be tall and willowy.  It might actually be a pain in the butt.  The grass ain't always greener somewhere else.

And I've never seen myself as vertically challenged - god, what an awful phrase that is.  I'm just shorter than most people - end of.  Learning to play chess is challenging.  Trying to explain the Theory of Relativity is challenging.  Not being able to reach the top shelves in the supermarket is merely an annoyance but that's why I married a tall man.  See - I got extra smart genes!

And as for creating the illusion of being taller than I actually am - well, all I can say is I don't go to sleep at night worrying about that.

You see, stick me next to my 6'4", Tall Brown Fox and no amount of illusion, sartorial or otherwise is going to make me look anything other than short next to him. 

Stand me on a box and I'll be short.
Put me on a couple of steps higher than him and I'll still be short!

I have no doubt that there are petite women who may feel differently to me and who do desire to be taller or look taller, especially if they feel their lack of height affects them negatively.  And if they do, I understand.  I've had people make inane remarks about my height or be patronising towards me simply because I'm little and that can knock your confidence.  But rather than worry or dwell on it, it's up to me to call people out on that kind of behaviour.  I let them know that being little in height doesn't make me 'a little woman'.   I also choose to focus on presenting to the world, the best version of myself that I can. 

So why write a post titled 'Playing with Proportions' then, you may very well ask?  A perfectly sensible question.  The answer is that whilst I have no desire to make myself look taller - cos frankly that's a fruitless exercise in my book, at the same time, I have no desire to make myself look shorter than I am. 

Are there 'rules' for dressing as a petite?  

There are a few pointers I bear in mind when dressing my frame but I don't consider them to be exclusive to being a petite.  Whether you're petite, regular, plus or tall, I personally think the criteria is the same.

Does the garment fit you well?

Does the cut flatter you?
Does it suit your style personality?

If yes to all three, then you're well on your way!

I do think it's true that certain garments look better on certain body shapes.  You'd think as a petite that a crop top or cropped shirt would be a garment I would make a beeline for because proportionally it would work in my favour.  You know, that two-thirds-one-third rule, that is the most visually flattering for the body.

Wrong!  

It all depends on your shape.  My body ration is long legs, short torso, slightly bigger than average bust size.  I have to be careful that a crop doesn't end up making my legs look even longer and my torso even shorter, thereby throwing my proportions off even more!  I'd end up resembling an alien creature created by an illustrator for their forthcoming graphic novel; one half of their body overly elasticated and the other, perilously compressed, with two large mounds on their front!

However, all is not lost on the cropped top front.  As with my post from a couple of years ago Styling a Crop Top with Tailored Trousers, you just have to get the proportions right.  The denim top I'm wearing below is a crop but a slightly longer length one, so my short-waist is de-emphasized.  The result is that I've kept to the flattering two-thirds-one-third proportion.

Crop Top and Tailored Trousers | Petite Silver Vixen

Mixing it up with a plaid cropped shirt

I bought this cropped shirt last year on a whim, not really thinking at the time what I would do with it, despite knowing the potential proportional pitfalls that styling a crop top can present.  Yes, rash, I know.  But I live on the sartorial edge.  It's good for the soul to break out of usual habits and try different styles every now and then.  Heaven knows I have a plethora of regular length plaid shirts to keep me happy through to Spring and beyond; a cropped shirt was a fresh take on an old favourite.

It quickly became apparent that I could deftly circumvent the potential problem of making myself look shorter.

The casual nature of the shirt meant that an obvious styling would be with jeans.  Plaid and denim are one of those print and fabric pairings that are as simple yet sublime as jelly and ice cream.  But even jelly and ice cream can dull your appetite for them, if the same flavours are always put on the table.  Avoid the obvious, plaid shirt and jeans combo.

A delicious alternative is to pair your plaid shirt with a denim dress.

The continuous block of colour of the denim dress gives me length.
I can then wear the crop shirt over the dress, without cutting myself in half or throwing my body proportions awry.
Playing with the proportions this way works to my advantage; not to make me look taller but simply to flatter my particular body ratio in the best way.
And to combat the falling temperatures as we venture deeper into Autumn, a fluted, turtle neck top is the perfect layering piece for under my dungarees dress.

Denim with a Difference

Denim is one of those oh so easy to wear fabrics.  Its beauty lies in its versatility; you can either dress it up, dress it down or simply stay slap bang in the middle with a smart casual outfit that gets you through the day in maximum comfort with a dose of creativity.  

I love a great pair of jeans but there are times when I want an alternative.  A dungarees dress gives me that denim fix on days when jeans just don't quite cut the mustard.  

Playing with Proportions; Cropped Plaid Shirt and Denim Dungarees Dress | Petite Silver Vixen

Playing with Proportions; Cropped Plaid Shirt and Denim Dungarees Dress | Petite Silver Vixen

Playing with Proportions; Cropped Plaid Shirt and Denim Dungarees Dress | Petite Silver Vixen

Playing with Proportions; Cropped Plaid Shirt and Denim Dungarees Dress | Petite Silver Vixen

Warehouse Denim Dungarees Dress SS16 
Boo hoo Petite Cropped plaid shirt AW16
New Look Fluted Polo Neck

Playing with Proportions Footnote

I don't really hold much truck with any so called 'rules' for dressing as a petite.   Most are generalised to the point that they neglect to take into account that petites come in all kinds of body types; a 'rule' that might work on one petite, might be an absolute no-no on another.  

The key is to give equal consideration to height AND body shape.  Play around with the fit, cut and length of clothes to gain the best look proportionally for you.  Never be afraid to ignore mainstream advice.

Dressing up Skinny Jeans | Pattern Mixing Striped Bomber Jacket | Floral Statement Sleeves | High Tops

Your skinny jeans 'just wanna have fun', as the song goes.  

Trust me, they really do.  

When you grab your skinnies at the weekend, wanting to be casual, because, well it's the weekend, right... and comfort is quite rightly high on the list of priorities, avoid them fretting about you dropping down the casual scale to slouchy, by choosing snazzy stripes paired with a pretty print and funky high tops.

And when you do, you'll attract all kinds of locals, inextricably drawn to the sartorial good vibes you are giving off.
See?  I rest my case.
Peacocks Floral Statement Sleeve Top | Asos Petite Striped Bomber Jacket | Geox High Tops |Petite Silver Vixen

Peacocks Floral Statement Sleeve Top | Asos Petite Striped Bomber Jacket | Geox High Tops |Petite Silver Vixen

Now don't fall into the trap of thinking that by writing 'dressing up' I mean going full on glamour.  No, no, no. That's for when the sun has set and you fancy sipping a cocktail.  

The kind of 'dressing up' I mean here is creating a relaxed look that side steps the more obvious weekend choices of jeans and breton or graphic tee and plaid shirt, as fun as those combos are.  You can take obvious pairs but find neat twists along the way and you'll stand out a little more.

Stripes and florals take little effort to 

pattern mix and are perfect partners.

Ok, so now the photobombing cat is out the way, and you've all gone, aw.... dat's just so darn sweeeet! ... I can get back to posing and pontificating on the subject of pattern mixing.

A breton striped top is in a class all of its own and I certainly love a breton stripe but sometimes you need to branch out with your stripes.  I have a plethora of striped tops, which is why when I saw this petite, striped bomber jacket in the softest denim go in the ASOS sale back in the Spring, I knew it would be a great addition to my stripe family.  It's a show pony garment that since its purchase has become a much loved hero piece in my wardrobe. It goes with so many outfits, not just jeans.

And this was despite my reservations about short-waisted, hourglasses wearing bomber jackets as per my Bomber Jacket & Rolled-up Jeans post from last year.  Who wants to look like a rotound security guard?

Quite, me neither.

The denim is light enough to be a contrast to the dark wash skinnies and matches in colour tone to the floral top.  And because both patterns evenly repeat, they work in harmony with each other rather than clash.

And here endeth the pontification on pattern mixing, because it really is that simple.

Quantum physics is hard, pattern mixing ain't.  

If you're aiming for a winning pattern mixing formula, or simply just beginning to explore the delights of pattern mixing, then you'd be undeniably off to a solid start with stripe and floral combinations.

Peacocks Floral Statement Sleeve Top | Asos Petite Striped Bomber Jacket | Geox High Tops |Petite Silver Vixen

Peacocks Floral Statement Sleeve Top | Asos Petite Striped Bomber Jacket | Geox High Tops |Petite Silver Vixen

But it's not just pattern mixing or even double denim, that's going on here.  Yes, I even slipped in double denim.  Oh no.  There's a wee secret that I'm hiding.

For under my jacket are statement sleeves that make my skinny jeans smile with joy!

The past few seasons, statement sleeves have taken on a life of their own, bagging the spotlight shamelessly.  Who knew the humble sleeve could rise to the dizzy heights it has.  And I have to say I've loved the aesthetic of many of the statement sleeves I've seen.  We've had the eye-boggling permutations of

bells
cascading bells, 
riotous ruffles, 
uber long and oversized cuffs, 
balloon, cocoon 
and fluted sleeves that have been more akin to sails than sleeves.

I've certainly admired them and many a time I've absolutely raised a quizzical eyebrow at them.  For as much as a pretty picture they doth make, they're an utter nightmare in real life.  

A day's work wearing some of the more outrageous ones I've seen?  Yeah right.
Washing hands?  Cooking?  Eating.  Normal life.  Yes, let's burst a few fantasy fashion bubbles shall we?

Now when I spotted this top a few weeks ago - and yes, it's still available here, at a bargain busting £10 - I didn't even notice the gentle bell of the sleeve until I tried it on in the changing room.  That was truly a delightful surprise.  When I saw it on the rail, I was more taken with how the print had a William Morris feel about it.

'And,' says small voice of reason, 'the excellent price'.  Ever an eye on the budget, has that small voice of reason.

So despite my occasional scoffing of statement sleeves in terms of their practicality, I've managed to find ones that are playful without being completely impractical.  I've seriously road tested this top!  As these bell sleeves are sleeker than many, it makes it possible to wear a jacket over them, without having to laboriously wrestle the sleeves to sit flat under the jacket once you've slipped it on.  Plus the day I wore this, we went out for a leisurely family lunch with the in-laws and the sleeves survived soup, scallops and loo trips, unscathed!  

And if you're a petite, there's an extra bonus - it's the perfect length.  Always a joy to find tops that don't drown my frame or required altering.

Peacocks Floral Statement Sleeve Top | Asos Petite Striped Bomber Jacket | Geox High Tops |Petite Silver Vixen

Peacocks Floral Statement Sleeve Top | Asos Petite Striped Bomber Jacket | Geox High Tops |Petite Silver Vixen

Peacocks Floral Statement Sleeve Top | Asos Petite Striped Bomber Jacket | Geox High Tops |Petite Silver Vixen

And shall we take a closer look at the high tops?  A dash of purple and reptile effect panels and side zips, up the ante for the skinny jeans.  They were seriously swooning, I can tell you.

I've always liked high tops but I'm not a huge label wearer and have tended to avoid buying the usual suspects such as Vans or Converse.  My Geox ones, snaffled on a recce in T k Maxx awhile ago are uber comfortable, are unusual enough to tickle my taste buds and ideal if you're wanting a more sporty or laid back look than ankle boots would give.

I rather like these Geox Myria Burgundy High Tops, currently on offer.  

Geox High Tops |Petite Silver Vixen

And if you're wondering that surely skinny jeans have had their day now, then think again.

Skinny jeans have purportedly been having a slow death for at least two years now with everyone under the fashion sun stating we must lay them to rest.  This time last year, ElleUK was proclaiming The Skinny Jean Is Dead and that we should all be embracing softer silhouettes and vintage styles.

Well ya boo shucks to that I say.  I love my skinnies.  I won't be giving them up anytime soon. Of course you don't want to be a sartorial stick-in-the-mud and I'm all for wearing different styles to stave off boredom.  Where trousers are concerned, my wardrobe overflows with culottes and joggers, so it's not as if I'm a one hit trouser wonder!  However, there is also much to be said for knowing what suits you and what feels comfortable on you.  And skinnies do both for me.  I struggle to find boyfriend jeans that look good on me.  I did boot cut way back in my early 30s and crop kick flare leaves me cold to be honest.  Vintage, frayed hem ones make me look like poor Annie orphan.

Indeed, I really don't see skinnies as being on the way out.  Maybe they've been demoted in some fashion eyes.  If so, then Gap surely haven't got the memo. If you're a skinny lover, head on over to their website and you'll be in True Skinny heaven.

They even have skinny cords - oh my!

Corduroy is this year's fashion comeback kid according to Refinery29 who reported only on Friday that the Corduroy trend is big for A/W2017.   And hurrah I say.  I never mind a spot of corduroy so my burgundy corduroy jacket I've had for circa 20 years has come right back en vogue!

Dressing Up Your Skinnies Footnote

Dressing up your skinnies doesn't have to mean pulling out all the stops with heels and sequins and other malarky.  Weekend dressing should be relaxed and relaxing to wear.  The trick is to find a couple of pieces that encompass a stand out element.  My floral top is elevated by the bell sleeves, the bomber by the stripes.  

Ginger moggie is optional.

Peacocks Floral Statement Sleeve Top | Asos Petite Striped Bomber Jacket | Geox High Tops |Petite Silver Vixen

How do you like to dress up your skinny jeans?  Do you like your sleeves to make statements, loud or otherwise?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

How to Look Stylish on a Budget | Patterned Jumper, Coated Jeans, Snakeskin Boots | Burgundy, Tan, & Black

Are you a savvy shopper, or do you let your heart lead your wallet astray?

I'm very much in the former camp with the occasional dalliance in the latter one!  I love a good bargain - I mean, who doesn't, right?  And my wardrobe is stuffed to the gills with bargains I've scored over the years, and the outfit I'm wearing completely reflects that from top to toe.  Literally from the top of my head to the tips of my toes!

Everything I'm wearing I either bought in the sales or on discount.

'cough, cough', smatters small voice of reason in the corner.

Ok, ok. Correction.  Not ABSOLUTELY everything I'm wearing.  I mean, I'm obviously excluding all me undergarments in this, plus my everyday jewellery and my bag.  BUT, everything else, from my boots up to my beret was either bought as a sale bargain or bought on discount.

Stylish Look on a Budget; Faux Leather Jacket, Burgundy Coated Biker Jeans, Snakeskin Boots, beret | Petite Silver Vixen, over 40 style

I'm fortunate that I have some money to play with for my clothes budget; mostly because my work clothes cost very little, leaving more for the fun items.  I maybe buy a pair of leggings once every 6 months and never pay more than £20 per pair.  However, that doesn't mean I flash the cash around with gay abandonment.  Heavens no.  For years, during my 20's and 30's, I wasn't exactly hunting for coins down the back of the sofa, but I did have to count every penny.  I became expert at sniffing out bargains, a skill I'm still honing at 50!

Now everyone's version of what constitutes 'looking stylish on a budget' will vary hugely.  For some it will be limited to thrifting, to others having a set amount to use each month.  It may involve buying a few high end pieces every year to pair with items bought from high street chains.

You see, the tricky thing about doing this kind of post is that one person's idea of a sensible budget is another's profligacy.  It's all open to interpretation.  

There are many bloggers who dress very stylishly by only buying thrifted clothes which I find hugely admirable.  However, some people don't like thrifting.  They just don't feel comfortable at the thought of wearing someone else's clothes and I respect that.  Personally, I've never had a problem with it and over the years I have managed to buy some amazing bargains via charity shops or second hand sites.  Building a wardrobe entirely on thrifted clothes can be challenging if you're at either end of the size spectrum and as a petite, I would find it difficult.  And I'm not going to denial that I enjoy that frisson when buying new season clothes or even better, end of season clothes at rock bottom prices!

The key to this post though is showing that you can successfully build a wardrobe that reflects your style personality, without having to buy new clothes at full price.

In some ways, I'm probably a brand's worse nightmare as I rarely buy clothes full price.  I tried to think what ratio of full price to sale price it would be.

20% full price to 80% sales?     10% / 90%?

But I tired quickly, as the thought of percentages made my head hurt.  I was never very good at percentages at school.  Suffice to say the ratio is definitely a low % full price figure to a high % sale price!

And the outfit I'm wearing couldn't better reflect that if I tried!  Let's work our way up from bottom to top.

- The boots were nearly 70% off the Recommended Retail Price at a discount store.
- The coated jeans were half price in the sale.
- The gloves were bought on a 20% off promotion.
- The jumper was half price in the sale.
- The jacket was bought during a 30% off promotion.
- The scarf was bought for 5 euros from a market stall on a promotion.
- The beret was bought in the sale, can't remember for how much.
- And finally, the necklace, ring and bracelet I'm wearing were all sale items, under half price!

Not bad, huh?
Stylish Look on a Budget; Faux Leather Jacket, Burgundy Coated Biker Jeans, Snakeskin Boots, beret | Petite Silver Vixen, over 40 style

The bag is the odd one out as that was bought full price but boy has it given me a fantastic return on my investment as you've seen it worn with Tweed and Pearls and a Bomber Jacket & Leopard Print Doc Martens amongst others.

Now before anyone says 'oh bore off with ya bargains, woman', I'm not blowing 
my own trumpet and saying 'oooooh look at me and all my great buys', 
like some teenage vlogger gloating over their haul on youtube!  

Nothing could be further from the truth.  I wore this outfit two weekends ago when Tall Brown Fox and I went out to Sunday lunch and then a mooch around the little gem of a museum in East London called the Geffrye Museum.  As I was deciding what to wear for our jaunt to Hoxton, I began to realise that everything I'd picked to wear were either savvy sale triumphs or discerning discount delights, from the key pieces to the accessories.

And so the seed for a post of 'how to look stylish on a budget', was planted.

And I didn't just wear my accessories to show off my bargain buying skills but because they were necessities to wear that day!  It was one of those glorious early Spring days when ...

the light is so crisp,
the air so fresh,
the sun is so bright
but it's not quite warmed up enough to dispense with gloves or scarf!
Stylish Look on a Budget; Faux Leather Jacket, Burgundy Coated Biker Jeans, Snakeskin Boots, beret, teal gloves | Petite Silver Vixen, over 40 style
Stylish Look on a Budget; Faux Leather Jacket, Burgundy Coated Biker Jeans, Snakeskin Boots, beret | Petite Silver Vixen, over 40 style
Stylish Look on a Budget; Faux Leather Jacket, Burgundy Coated Biker Jeans, Snakeskin Boots, beret | Petite Silver Vixen, over 40 style

How to be savvy when shopping for a bargain.

Isn't it easy to get carried away just because something is in the sale?  I think we've all been there, done that, got the t-shirt!

Not all of us have salaries that after covering bills have enough stretch left in them for endless clothes buying.  Bloggers will get given free items of clothing but to date I've chosen not to do any collaborations but that will happen when the time is right.  Everything you see has been bought with my own hard moolah, so I have to make smart choices to get the most bang for my buck!

The trick is knowing what has worked for you in the past, in case you want to buy similar items, what you already have in your wardrobe so you avoid too many duplications and knowing what gaps are in your wardrobe that could be filled. 

This outfit is the perfect example of buying clothes you 

a) specifically want
b) are in the market for if you happen to see them
c) you're not necessarily needing but are at a price that's too good to pass up.

Take the jeans.
I already own a black pair of coated jeans.  I love wearing them so I was purposely looking for a second pair but in another colour.  I veritably lusted after these waxed, petite, Brighton biker skinny jeans from Boden in this rich burgundy colour.  When they went into the sale, I gleefully swooped to buy a pair.
Stylish Look on a Budget; Warehouse Patterned Jumper, Burgundy Coated Biker Jeans, Snakeskin Boots, beret | Petite Silver Vixen, over 40 style
Stylish Look on a Budget; Warehouse Patterned Jumper, Burgundy Coated Biker Jeans, Snakeskin Boots, beret | Petite Silver Vixen, over 40 style
Stylish Look on a Budget; Warehouse Patterned Jumper, Burgundy Coated Biker Jeans, Snakeskin Boots, beret | Petite Silver Vixen, over 40 style
Take the jumper.
I've been slowly upgrading my knitwear and have been keeping my eyes peeled for a light weight jumper that would transition from Winter to Spring AND be ideal for Autumn and this little number from Warehouse ticked the box.  It was in their recent Winter end of season sale and when they did an extra 20% off, bringing it down to exactly half price, I didn't hang around.

The contemporary design is so striking - almost like a modern art painting - yet it's a design that won't date. It's the kind of piece that not only works for casual wear but will look fantastic with a leather skirt, for a feminine yet sophisticated look.

And the best bit apart from the price?  The pattern is ALL over the jumper, not just on the front.  I can't tell you how irked I get when I find a jumper I like but discover the pattern is just on the front!

Stylish Look on a Budget; Warehouse Patterned Jumper, Burgundy Coated Biker Jeans, Snakeskin Boots, beret | Petite Silver Vixen, over 40 style

Take the boots.
Keen readers of my blog may remember I already own a pair of snakeskin boots.  These booties I've worn many times on the blog but which look particularly fetching from a post almost a year ago to the day: Transitioning to Spring

Transitioning to Spring: Pink Coat, Brown Jeans, Snakeskin Boots, Metallic Bag | Petite Silver Vixen, over 40 style

So I was hardly gagging to buy another pair!  The issue of owning duplicates that I mentioned earlier.

But sometimes you have to strike when you see.  These are from Ecco, a well established Danish brand whose ankle boots can retail for 3 figures.  I spotted them in tkmaxx where the price label said RRP £135.00 but the store price was actually £49.99!

50 quid for a top notch pair of uber comfortable, leather boots!!!  

I would've been daft as Daffy Duck not to have bought them.

Stylish Look on a Budget; Warehouse Patterned Jumper, Burgundy Coated Biker Jeans, Snakeskin Boots, beret | Petite Silver Vixen, over 40 style

Take the jewellery.
My amber ring was a present from Tall Brown Fox but the arrow ring and bracelet I bought in the sale for £3 and £5 respectively, proving fun accessories don't have to cost the earth.

A little bit of bling can go a long way!

Stylish Look on a Budget; Glittery Bracelet, Arrow Ring | Petite Silver Vixen, over 40 style

Wallis Petite Faux Leather Jacket A/W15.  This seasons Petite Grey Faux Leather Jacket or Tan Biker Jacket
Warehouse Firefly Jumper is now sold out but Warehouse Poppy Print Jumper is currently on offer
Boden Biker Skinny Jeans a few sizes left
Wallis Bracelet (old) Wallis Fabric Sparkle Bracelet
Gloves last seasons from Marks & Spencer.  Marks & Spencer Leather Gloves

Looking Stylish Footnote

Savvy buying and exerting a little patience can pay dividends and allows you to build a wardrobe that really works for your lifestyle and purse.  You don't have to buy at the start of a season, unless you really want a special item.  Take a deep breath, hold out for a while and then you are often rewarded with some great finds at half the price.  And the jacket, jumper and jeans will all be worn long past their original season is over without dating.

And all these pieces I've collected that make up this particular outfit - some new, some old - all fit seamlessly into my existing wardrobe and can be mixed and matched with other pieces.

A small budget doesn't have to be limiting.  And neither does looking stylish when you're over 50!

Stylish Look on a Budget; Warehouse Patterned Jumper, Burgundy Coated Biker Jeans, Snakeskin Boots, beret | Petite Silver Vixen, over 40 style

Linking with  Not Dressed As Lamb /  Trendy And Tidy / ClaireJustine  / Confident Twosday / Garay Treasures /  Turning Head's Tuesday  / Style Splash  /  Style Me Wednesday / ColorandGrace /  JerseyGirlTexanHeart  / Living In Colour / High Latitude Style  / Eleganceandmommyhood  / A Labour of Life /   Curly Crafty Mom  / Fashion Should Be Fun /  A Pocketful Of Polkadots / Jeans And A Teacup / Nancy's Fashion Style / Fine Whatever /

We've Had A Blog Make-over | Future Plans for the Blog

Welcome to my new blog design!


Spring is decidedly here now.  It officially started last Monday and I, for one, am cock-a-hoop about it.

Why?

Because Spring is my favourite season.

It heralds new beginnings, awakenings, the rebirth of nature; so much promise on the horizon and the glorious prospect of longer days and warmer weather ahead of us.  We're all shaking off the sloth of Winter and for me, on a personal level, as some of you may know, I'm wanting to slowly emerge from the dark time of losing my Mum at the end of October, last year.  This Winter gone was certainly bleaker than any that had been before.  Of course, I'm still grieving and will be for some time.  Grief doesn't suddenly vanish with the appearance of the daffodils, however cheering their bright yellow blooms may be.  I miss Mum terribly, especially as yesterday was Mother's Day in the UK.

This Season more than the other three I feel, gives us a chance to reassess, reorganise and hopefully look forward with renewed energy.

If you've been a visitor here before, you may notice we look a little different!  We've done a Spring clean at Petite Silver Vixen.

We've a brand spanking new website design!

It's something I've wanted to do for a good few months now; since last Autumn in fact.  But with everything going on with my Dad's cancer diagnosis and then losing Mum, anything blog related was the last thing on my mind.

However, Spring seemed the perfect time for a blog make-over.  There are still a few tweaks to iron out here and there with the design, but in the main, I'm absolutely chuffed to bits with it.

How did I choose it?

Choosing a new design can be a daunting process.  I had to get it right first time because you don't really want to be chopping and changing your design.  I did quite abit a research before settling on a design from Pipdig.  I know of several bloggers who've used their designs and they have always given them the thumbs up.  My blogging pal Laurie, from Vanity and Me Style, has her template from them and said how helpful they'd been with her design.  Laurie, by her own admission is not the most tech savvy of people and I would say that I'm only slightly further up the tech ladder than her.  If Laurie was happy with them, then that was an excellent recommendation in my eyes.

They have a very varied selection of templates for both blogger and wordpress but the one design I kept coming back to was Equinox.  It's one of their most expensive templates but even at £49.00 it doesn't break the bank.  It comes with lots of features, more than some of the other designs they offer and I liked the cleanness of the design, both the screen version and the mobile version.


Thank you that man!

I can't extol the virtues of the design without also extolling the virtues of the service from Pipdig. Phil was extremely helpful and, more importantly very patient.  It can't be easy dealing with a self confessed techno-idiot and partial techno-phobe like myself but he answered every query in ways that the layman could understand.

A hearty round of applause to Phil.

Defining my Blog Personality

Along with the new template, it was also pertinent to update my colours and tag line.  Even with only 18 months of blogging under my belt, my blogging personality has evolved and sharpened just as my wardrobe has.  They needed to be brought more into sync with each other.

The header on my old design was in my favourite colour - blue.  Given half the chance, everything in my life would be blue.  But how boring would that be, living just in a world of blue!

Time for a change.  But what colour?

It was so obvious what it should be.  I mean it had been staring me in the face for quite a while, that it was about to slap me round the face with a wet fish!  In my avatar and profile photo, I'm wearing one of my favourite coloured berets; a gorgeously rich raspberry, burgundy one.  As my berets are something of a signature for me, when I looked at the photo again, it wasn't just like a light bulb going off but a ruddy great big EXPLOSION!

That's it!  There!  That's the colour!  BINGO!

In order to get the right colour - or certainly near enough to the beret in the photo - I used imagecolorpicker.com.  It's so ridiculously easy to use, even I, the techno-idiot that I am, didn't need to ask Tall Brown Fox for any help!

'And that's saying something.' says small voice of reason, taking a sly swig of vodka in the corner.

You upload the image, hover the cursor over the area you want to get your colour match and you get the HTML colour code for that pixel!

My font colours match my beret.  How brilliant is that?


Next up; my tagline

My old one was,

'Rediscovering the 80% of my wardrobe, I wore less than 20% of the time, pre blog.'

Somewhat wordy but certainly very true at the time I started blogging.  Since turning 50 last June, I had wanted a punchier tagline.  One that was short and sweet and in a sentence defined my long held attitude to life and style.  After much brain storming and running ideas past Tall Brown Fox for his opinion I chose,
'Not letting age define my life or style'

because it doesn't and it won't!

I now feel my blog is truly reflective of not just my style but my personality.

Future Blog Plans

With my new design in place, I can stride confidently forward with blog plans that have been brewing in my blog cauldron for quite a while, minus eye of newt and toe of frog!

- I'll be resuming The Seasonal Skinny Style Challenge.  I have unfinished business with this as it unfortunately got abandoned half way through the Spring Season last year.  I dislike loose threads so come April, I'll be taking up my weekly styling again to get to the finish line at the end of August.

- From April, I'll be hosting a monthly style link-up.  But it will be a link-up with a twist!  In the next week or so, I'll be announcing details of what it will be.  As a hint, there'll be a chance to participate in the link-up way beyond just linking various outfits from the previous month.

- I've a 5 part blog series planned on the Menopause.  I'm right in the throes of this currently and it's been a turbulent time to say the least.  In a series of posts, I'll explain how I'm approaching and dealing with this life-changing experience.  Sharing tips that hopefully other menopausal women will be able to use.

- New categories will be added.  In particular, look out for them under Style Ideas and Categories.  All designed to make it easier to find previous posts on specific style features or lifestyle topics.

Make-over Footnote

The whole blog make-over has been a far less stressful process than I imagined and absolutely worth every second I've spent on planning it.  And thank you for your patience as I ease myself back into the land of blogging after what has been rather a traumatic previous 5 months.

I hope you like the new layout and design.  Let me know your thoughts and comments below.

Linking with:

Practical Winter Layering vs Faux Winter Styling | Slouchy Knit, Coated Jeans, Metallic Brogues | Caramel, Black & Bronze

How do you dress or layer to cope with Winter weather?


Although we're past the shortest day thank goodness, mid Winter has wrapped its icy grip well and truly around us now.  Snow fell in London last week - the first snowflakes this Winter.  I woke up on Thursday morning and our car was a delicate white, instead of its normal blue colour!

And even in France, on our New Year break it wasn't exactly warm!

Layers, layers, layers, duck down, wool, cashmere, beret, gloves and scarf; all kept me warm on a day out.



The drop in temperature these past few weeks has definitely been a challenge to find ways to do Winter layering that is realistic and contemporary whilst staying true to my style personality that likes to have fun.  Cue trawling blogs and fashion sites for outfit inspiration.

Now not everyone experiences Winter in the same way.  Winter in California sure ain't the same as Winter in Copenhagen. However, living in the UK where Winters can be very cold, I do want to see realistic winter styling that I can relate to.

I love the sage green coat over the slouchy knit.  This stylish lady looks like she can take on some snow with ease.

@wheresmydriver/instagram

Or how about a double turtleneck?  Slip a thick wool turtle over a thin striped one for a simple yet interesting look under a winter coat.  Even if you overheat once inside, you can easily take off the jumper and the striped turtle will still look stylish.


However, not all the styling I've seen has been practical or even realistic.  Lots of emails from bloglovin' have been dropping into my inbox lately with catchy titles such as

'7 Cosy outfits to stay warm this Winter'

or

'15 Layered looks to beat the Chills'

And only this afternoon another one landed exclaiming 5 Stylish Looks to Combat the Snow.

I had to chuckle as only the first photo features snow.  In the second photo the lady has bare ankles and sneakers which wouldn't combat the snow at all, none are wearing hats or gloves and three are wearing boots that would seriously slip on actual snow and ice.  And I'm not alone is thinking how silly that title is in relation to the outfits shown.  At least half the comments echo my thoughts exactly,

I've clicked through all these emails and the pages of uber fashionista bloggers and street style sites with initial excitement at the prospect of gaining inspiration and yet... and yet that initial excitement quickly, sadly turns into frustration, as all too often I'm presented with what I call 'faux winter styling'.  There are a few gems amongst them but so many of the outfits wouldn't past muster if worn in climes where Winter is experienced with a capital W!

If I see one more example of supposed winter styling of unstructured coat, shirt, distressed jeans, bare ankles and pumps I will scream more loudly and ear piercingly than a banshee!

I can't tell you how over I am at seeing faux winter styling.


Why, why, why would you wear socks with heeled summer sandals in Winter???  Someone please explain.

I dig the vinyl trousers but WTF with the sandals???


Or bare ankles in New York when there's snow on the ground?

Yes, it can still be Winter in March in New York (when this was posted) as I can very well testify. I've battled my way down 5th Avenue when the wind has been so howlingly cold in March, it's penetrated my bones and turned them to ice!

Bare ankles in minus temperatures?  No thank you.  I'll keep frostbite to polar explorers.  Wet soggy toes when it rains.  I'd rather not.  Yet both photos were recently included in round up posts showcasing Winter styles.


And here we have the classic '2 seasons in 1' outfit.

Autumn/Winter top half.  Summer bottom half.


Don't get me wrong.  I love all 3 outfits in the main.  Take the last one.  Top half is ticking all the boxes.  I love the grey cable knit sweater with the brown biker jacket and the plaid scarf tones beautifully with both.

Then we get to the lower half and the leather skinnies and I'm still going, yes, fabulous, rock that pose with the half tilt of the head and those to die for sunglasses BUT then it's

Open toed sandals???  Again?

Call me pedantic if you will, but my logic says that if it's cold enough to wear a shirt, a sweater, a leather jacket AND a scarf

it sure as heck AIN'T warm enough to be wearing open toed sandals!!!

With so much choice of funky footwear to wear with such a cool outfit, I mean let's for a second muse on how awesome some snakeskin ankle boots would've been with this ...

... Have you mused? ... Wouldn't they, right?    ... then I don't understand the sandals.

Faux winter styling.


Now before anyone says I shouldn't be bashing other bloggers, we're all in the sisterhood together, yadda yadda yadda, I get it, I really do.  However, the flip side to that is, I see nothing wrong in pointing out the faintly ridiculous or the totally unrealistic.  

I don't care that the big players have budgets waaaaay bigger than mine or that they are given an endless supply of clothes to wear on their blogs by brands beating a path to their door.  I really don't. Of course I know they're upping the ante to display a certain high fashion magazine aesthetic.  It's all about creating so called aspirational looks.  However, I do want to see outfits that I can at least relate too, that are based in some reality of the season and the urban environment I inhabit.

I live on a commuter line and when I travel into London, I don't see women on the trains sporting bare ankles, or parading tulle skirts worn with oversized jumpers that make the wearer look like a 3 year old playing dress up.

Below I'm wearing a very similar outfit to Atlantic Pacific.  And I wore this outfit last Winter, funnily enough also when visiting France in January and funnily enough also with the same pendant I'm wearing in my current outfit!  Ok, so my skinnies are coloured rather than leather but it's still a shirt, a knit, a leather jacket and a scarf; polished off with purple suede ankle boots and some snazzy polka dot gloves.

Real, practical yet stylish winter layering.



So where does all this leave my original outfit?  Had you forgotten about that whilst I went on a rant?  
Well, it came about because I WAS inspired by a practical yet stylish outfit I'd seen on a blog.
Hurrah!


In early December I read this post on High Heels in the Wilderness, by Susan, a Canadian blogger I can highly recommend, which had included this photo below.  And my eyes lit up!  

And why wouldn't they be?  This is the kind of winter layering I was after.  Cosy knit, leather trousers, shirt just peeping out below the jumper, sturdy boots.  Easy, effortless and importantly, warm looking.  


And Susan, the said Canadian blogger I can recommend, had clearly had her eyes lit up by it too.  Lit up to the extent that she styled a version of Camilla's look, using existing pieces in her wardrobe.

I love Susan's interpretation, using a silky turtleneck underneath which looks just as good as a shirt. Simple, understated, yet very stylish.


It set off a train of thought.  Just as Susan had done on seeing Camilla's outfit, I too could shop my wardrobe and put together a similar styling to wear for my Winter holiday in France later that month. No shirt underneath mine, as I didn't pack a suitable one in my suitcase - boring luggage allowances - and my jumper is more caramel in colour, and my hair isn't quite long enough to put it up in a messy bun, à la Camilla's!  You'll just have to put up with my messy, curly locks.  

My styling has my own personal twists, obviously.  This is, after all, interpretation, homage, rather than copy-catting.  I wore my labradorite pendant you saw above and instead of boots, it was the perfect opportunity to showcase a fairly recent purchase - my metallic bronze brogues.  All the better to conquer the cobbled stones of ancient hilltop villages and keep feet warm.

And then I got rather carried away and played around with slipping my faux fur gilet over the jumper that I was originally wearing as a fun, textured layer over my down jacket earlier in the day.






And I'm totally in love with my new Winter shoes.  I couldn't resist the dark burnt metallic bronze coupled with the sturdy soles to carry me forth through Winter weather.

And I've a wee wry smile on my face every time I wear them as this is the 3rd pair of brogues I now own.  I have a dapper white pair for Summer and you can read about how I bridged my brogues aversion here with my Autumnal pair.  Roll on Spring to buy another colour and I'll have a full house - one for each season!


Tu Rollneck Slouchy knit (old) seen on the blog in my Rollneck & Riding Boots post.
Wallis Petite Coated Jeans (old) ASOS Coated Jeans
New Look Teens Section Faux Fur Gilet (sold out) but similar here
Down Jacket from TKMaxx.  Similar here
xti brogues currently reduced.  Or how about these ASOS Embellished Metallic Brogues

Winter Wrapping Up Warm Footnote

Now you might say, pah, copying someone else's outfit isn't exactly original is it?  

But that would be missing the point.  I'm not trying (and neither is Susan) to copy the outfit exactly. It was a starting point. We were both tantalised enough by the original blogger's look to see if we could create something akin to it with what we already own, without making it a carbon copy.  One blogger's practical yet stylish look inspired two other bloggers. And that's what I love about blogging.

But the real beauty of this is that despite two bloggers taking a leaf out of another blogger's style book, each of our outfits still showcase our own style personalities.  Yes, the basics maybe the same - cosy knit, leather trousers/coated jeans - but even with each of us using those two basic pieces, both looks have a distinct styling.


What winter looks have inspired you?  And are you bored with seeing unrealistic, non practical, faux winter styling?

And lastly, a thank you

I wanted to thank everyone who's sent me messages, emails, and/or written comments on my previous post about my blogging break due to my Mum dying last year.  It's not even been 3 months yet.  I miss her terribly each day yet your kinds words have helped me through what continues to be a difficult time.  It's baby steps back towards blogging.  I know she would want me to continue doing activities that bring me joy.



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