A review of my shopping guidelines for 2013

posted on: January 21, 2014

A review of my shopping guidelines for 2013 | lostinaspotlessmind.com

It’s time to look at my shopping guidelines from 2013, and to see how I can use them to create new ones for 2014.

1. As a general rule, I won’t buy any clothes or accessories from ordinary stores, only vintage/second-hand shops.

In general, I visited second-hand/vintage shops more often than «regular» ones. If I was looking for something specific, I’d visit those shops before «regular» ones. Still, as the year progressed, there were some things I realized would make my wardrobe better, and some of them I ended up buying from «regular» places. It felt like a good general rule, though, and I’m pretty pleased with how I handled it.

How successful: 7.

2. No new nail polish purchases, except if I need to replace my base coat or fast-drying topcoat. A thinner is also allowed, so the polishes I own won’t get so thick I can’t use them.

I didn’t get that polish thinner, actually, and apart from one (rather giant) exception, I didn’t buy any nail polish in 2013. I got some as gifts; I think my dear friends noticed how much I desired a few polishes, and made sure to remember them for gift opportunities – thank you! I also needed a new top coat in the early autumn.

How successful: 7 – because I bought SIX polishes at once one time, and that was… well, not part of the plan.

3. When it comes to makeup, I’m only allowed to buy two new lipsticks this year. Excluding those, no new makeup unless I need to repurchase something of which I’ve run out.

I managed to stick with two, one super bright pink one and a matte, classic red. As with nail polish, though, I got some fantastic lip colours as birthday and Christmas presents, so it’s not like I’ve been as limited on this as one might think.

How successful: 10 – I followed this guideline completely, so I think a full 10 is in order here.

4. When it comes to shoes, I know I’ll need new everyday shoes for spring/summer, so that’s allowed. But I can’t buy ballerina flats from H&M, they need to be of good quality and take good care of my feet.

I bought three pairs of shoes this year: my leather brogues, black glittery brogues, and a pair of white lace-ups in the late summer. Both brogues are exactly what I wanted, but it took me all spring/summer to realize that I absolutely need to wear them with ankle socks, otherwise the blisters become unbearable – hence those lace-ups. They were actually not bad, white with deep green soles and pretty comfortable. I got them for 199,- NOK on sale, though, and they fell apart in the end.

How successful: 9 – because I didn’t buy any shoes I didn’t wear a lot, none of them were just «fun» shoes, and I’ll wear two of the pairs once spring/summer comes around again. One point off for buying those low-quality lace-ups that had to be thrown away, and because none of the brogues were right for the warmest parts of the summer.

5. No more bags, just to get my favourite one fixed so I can use it again (the shoulder strap broke last summer).

Got the bag fixed, yay, and didn’t buy any other bags either. I did spend a lot of time on etsy.com LOOKING at bags, or more specifically, backpacks. I have two at the moment, and I’m very fond of them, but none of them are just right, so I’m considering making my own this year.

How successful: 10.

6. As for magazines, ELLE Collections is allowed, but nothing more, as I can read it all at work or online anyway.

Got ELLE Collections, but also a few others during the year; ELLE Denmark being a new favourite. Although we get most Norwegian (and some international) fashion magazines delivered to work, I don’t really have time to peruse them, as I don’t have any «office time» when I’m there. Not reading any magazines for such a long time made me feel very out of touch with my profession, which wasn’t a good feeling. And although I did spend some time on their websites, I’m sad to say that their digital material has a long way to go before it can compare to the print version.

How successful: 6.

7. Replacing knickers/tights/socks is okay, and I plan to invest in some new bras that actually fit me.

This worked out well, though I think I was a bit too strict with myself on this one. A few more knickers and tights would have helped, because as my «stock» dwindled during the year, I had to do laundry more and more frequently, which isn’t always possible when there’s no energy for such things. 2013 was the «Level 1: understanding how a decent bra works» year for bras, though, and I think 2014 might be the year for «Level 2: buying bras online». All in all, I didn’t purchase anything I didn’t need, or just because it was pretty, so I think I did my guideline justice.

How successful: 10.

8. Buying fabric to sew things myself is okay, but only if I have a specific creation in mind and know I have time to sew it within a month. I’m investing in a quality sewing machine, which means if there’s a hole in my wardrobe I can (hopefully!) fill it by making something myself. In that way it will fit my requirements perfectly, and I won’t have to settle for something that isn’t right for me. This will also enable me to make adjustments to clothes I already own.

I did get a fantastic sewing machine, so well done there, but ah, fabric. You and I have a way to go, still, don’t we? In 2013 I bought my first commercial dress/top pattern, and started adjusting it so I would have my own perfect top pattern. Tops with the right fit for me are pretty much my holy grail, as they’re SO HARD to find, so I figured creating/adjusting a perfect pattern would do the trick. Turns out, though, it’s almost impossible to do a top fitting by yourself, as every time you try to pin an adjustment, the garment shifts and tugs and messes everything up. It wasn’t until a few days into 2014 I finally got this taken care of (merci, Cindy), which means the couple of pieces of lovely fabric I bought in 2013 are finally ready to be made into actual garments.

How successful: 7.

So, what did I learn from 2013?

Well, although I stated that my general rule was to buy second-hand rather than new, I suspect what I truly felt was the goal was to buy nothing, all year. This might in fact have something to do with the Norwegian language and society, because we have two words that can mean «shopping»: «kjøpe» which means to simply purchase something, and «shoppe», which usually makes people think of «going on shopping (for fun)». Also, there was a lot of talk in the media about people having a complete buying/purchasing/shopping ban in 2013, so whenever I explained my own rules to anyone, some people looked like I wasn’t doing «it» the right way, because I had exceptions and guidelines rather than a complete ban. Hence, guilt and a sense of failure, which, though understandable in a way, was also silly, because «NOT BUYING ANYTHING EVER» was never part of the original plan.

I also learnt that if you’re going to do a ban, or have very strict shopping guidelines, you need to prepare. I did feel prepared mentally; I was sick of the whole world, me included, buying heaps of things and throwing them away a few months later, and was ready to make a change. My wardrobe, however, was not well prepared, especially when summer came and I didn’t own a decent T-shirt or pair of shorts. So my intentions were good, but I did set myself up to fail. I also failed to acknowledge that my understanding of clothing, fit and style would grow within a year. I really started to consider the fit of clothes in 2013, and with that came dissatisfaction with much of what I owned; I could see why the garments didn’t hang right on my body, but couldn’t alter them without more knowledge of sewing and patterns (and also some energy to spare for such projects).

My weak spots definitely became more obvious to me this past year, too. I now know I tend to panic when I have a big work thing coming up (usually a party/exhibition), because the pressure to look «trendy» suddenly feels heavier than usual. I know summer is my least favourite sartorial time of year, because I have thighs that rub together, I have to wear a bra every day, typical spring/summer colours (hello pastels and coral!) don’t flatter me, and polyester feels like cling film on my skin. All this combined means I struggle much more to find great summer clothes, and as I haven’t found them yet, I keep looking, desperate, each summer. I also realize I will probably always desire nail polish and lipsticks, but there are worse things to be addicted to in this world.

When it comes to gifts, I often felt I was “cheating” if I told someone I wished for so-and-so for my birthday, for instance. I was afraid they’d feel I was merely handing them a very specific shopping list to make sure I got things I wanted, particularly if I wasn’t “allowed” to buy the things myself. I know that when I’m giving a present, I like taking time to find something they might like, but also something I want to give them. Otherwise, couldn’t we all just give each other money as presents, or even stop giving gifts altogether? At the end of the year, though, I think I found a way I’m comfortable with. I try as much as possible to wish for a “category” rather than a specific item (such as: “a silver nail polish” rather than “The Silver Nail Polish” from That Brand). Also, when asked, I try to mention more than just one item, so the giver doesn’t feel like she has to get me exactly that one thing, or I won’t be happy. If there is, say, a specific shade of lipstick I’m desperate for (like “Captive” from MAC), I’ll mention it, and then simply be super-happy if I get it. Cookie got me that lipstick from MAC for Christmas, and it has become one of my top three colours. Finally, gifts can be hard to find. I’m always thankful when my sisters mention something they’d love to get, because I struggle so much with finding something for them on my own. So wish lists can be a way to make both the giver and the recipient happy, and they also prevent us from gathering lots of things we don’t really want/like/have need for. Everybody wins, the environment included!

In general, I’ve realized my shopping/purchasing habits aren’t really horrible at all. I’m very picky when I consider a purchase, do lots of research, and never buy so many or so expensive things that I get in trouble economically. We’ve all been told that you can’t buy happiness, but, truth be told, some things actually DO make me happier, like a beautiful vintage dress or something sparkly on my fingers. It’s not the act of buying that makes me happiest (although I won’t deny my triumph when I’ve managed to hunt down the perfect vintage something). Most of my pleasure in things comes from how they make me feel in everyday life, like how that winter coat immediately transform me to a Russian princess. That red lipstick brightens my face so much that I don’t feel like a depressed, washed-out thing when I need to go grocery shopping while sick. Doc Martens boots are practical and warm, while telling the world that I’m steady on my feet, and possibly a bit badass if necessary.

To sum it all up, I’m pleased with my guidelines for 2013. They taught me a whole bunch, and they’ll be very helpful when I write new ones for 2014 – which I’ll share in a later post, of course.

Style reflection 2013

posted on: January 1, 2014

Style reflection 2013 | from lostinaspotlessmind.com

Background image: “fabrics” by Tinou Bao, under a 2.0 license

Although I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions, when I read Anuschka’s blog post about setting style goals for 2014, I knew I had to reflect over her questions in a blog post of my own. I never could resist a good questionnaire, after all, and anything resembling a list makes me happy as a bunny. Thank you so much for the inspiration, Anuschka!

Before I start, let’s keep in mind that 2013 was the year I had rather strict shopping guidelines. You can read all of them here, but in short, the goal was to buy vintage/second hand all year, with a few allowed exceptions. I’m working on a blog post about that whole experience, but for now I just wanted to remind you of it, as those guidelines definitely impacted my sartorial year.

1. On a scale of one to ten, how happy were you on average with your style and your wardrobe in 2013?

I’d say around 5-6. On one hand, I defined my style quite a bit this year, and felt more and more certain of what I want to wear on a daily basis – the trouble is finding those garments. I think I did well in finding the right type of clothes (say, a soft cardigan or high-waisted jeans), but getting the fit right seems almost impossible because of my exaggerated hourglass shape.

2. What was the biggest style- and wardrobe-related improvement you made in 2013?

My shopping guidelines for the year. It had both positive and negative aspects to it, but all in all I learned a lot. Also, 2013 was the year I seriously started thinking about quality. I invested in good shoes and a winter coat, and those items have turned out to be a whole new level of oh yes!

3.What aspect of wardrobe building and refining your style do you enjoy the most and why?

How clothes can create a persona/character has always fascinated me. I love how I feel so differently depending on what I’m wearing, which again affects pretty much everything, from how I walk to how I handle different situations. It’s not about becoming a completely different person, but simply acknowledging that I have many different aspects to my personality that I can choose to highlight or tone down as I wish.

4. How well do your outfits express your own unique personal style? What factor(s) are preventing you from dressing 100% according to your style? Money, confidence or an undefined style concept?

I’m probably 60-70% there. What remains is to find solutions to get the fit and silhouettes I want, as they differ so radically from what I can find in clothing stores nowadays. Money is a factor as well, especially as I’m on partial sick leave (thanks probably-CFS, depression and anxiety). I suspect energy is one of my biggest hindrances, though. Unlike many, I have enough time, it’s just that most of it is spent on the couch, waiting for those brief periods of time when my body feels almost normal. I’ve worked out some strategies to deal with illness and still wanting to be stylish (let me know if you’d like to read about them!), but I still have some thinking to do on this.

5. If you had to sum up your look of 2013 in one outfit, what would it be?

My Doc Martens, black tights, a full, navy midi skirt, a soft top with 3/4 sleeves, my M-necklace, red lipstick, and a trench coat.

6. What is your main motivation for wanting to refine your personal style? Do you use fashion as a creative outlet or an expression of your values/personality? Does dressing well give you confidence? Are you motivated by the practical benefits of a refined wardrobe, e.g. to simplify your daily routine?

First and foremost for the creative aspect of it, and because it allows me to silently communicate with the world. Not only can I let people know a lot about me, but I can also use it to create the Maria I want or need on a particular day.

7. How happy are you with your overall shopping strategy? Does your budget tend to get eaten up by impulse buys and bargains? What is your spending philosophy for 2014?

My shopping strategy for 2013 had promise, so I intend to refine and tweak it for 2014. Impulse shopping isn’t my problem, but rather that I can hardly ever find what I want. When I do stumble across something that actually fits me well, however, I tend to get so… thankful, I guess, that I sometimes feel like it would be stupid not to buy it. 2014 will probably be the year I try out having clothes tailored for me; I’ve always avoided it because it felt like such an extravagant luxury, but I’m starting to realize this might be a necessity with my proportions.

8. To what extent do you rely on make up and clothes to give you confidence? Is a lack of confidence preventing you from fully expressing your style concept or trying out new things?

I’m finally at the point where I don’t need to wear this or that to feel confident. It’s more a question of feeling comfortable. Not in the “everything-needs-to-be-as-comfortable-to-wear-as-sweatpants”, but merely that I need to feel comfortable with how I look. As long as my hair isn’t desperately in need of a wash, or I’m not wearing a proper bra when leaving the house (which is physically uncomfortable), for instance, I think I can deal with not looking impeccably groomed and styled 24/7. That being said, there are a few tricks I always know will make me feel better: bright lipstick, my dramatic new winter coat, a scarf with a flattering colour.

9. On a scale of one to ten, how expressive, coherent and defined is your style concept?

Probably around 8. I can usually tell within five seconds whether an item is “me” or not, which makes shopping in general much easier. What my current style is lacking, though, is a bit more drama, a bit more pizzazz.

10. On a scale of one to ten, how well-structured, versatile and functional is your wardrobe?

Around 6-7. Most of the items I have work well, but (sorry for repeating myself) there is something lacking in the fit department. Looks like 2014 will be my year searching for the perfect fit, don’t you think? I also could use one or two dresses that are more dressed up, for special occasions.

11. On a scale of one to ten, how good are you at creating outfits that express your style concept and maximizing your wardrobe’s potential?

6-7 again. I think I can express my style well enough, but I do wish more of my items could be combined. The reason they often can’t usually has to do with fit (you know, “this top only goes with that skirt because when I tuck in the blouse my waist looks right”). Getting tops taken in around the waist would enable me to wear them with several types of bottoms, for instance.

12. Top three: Which three components of your style and your wardrobe are you the most confident about and which three components need the most work?

Most confident about: my understanding of which colours suit me, which shapes work, and my ability to find little treasures in second hand shops.

Need the most work: getting the fit right (either by having them tailored, or by doing it myself on my sewing machine), finding loungewear that doesn’t make me feel like a slob, and understanding accessories better. Accessories are my Achilles’ heel and my kryptonite when it comes to style and fashion. Somehow, I feel like it’s way too much for me if I’m wearing both rings and a necklace, for instance. Which is crazy, I know. I’m working on it.

13. Out of the three that need work, which component, when improved, would have the biggest positive impact on your wardrobe and your style?

Actually, I think they’re all rather important. The good thing is that some are easer and quicker to fix (such as finding better loungewear), whereas others may take more time, but also give me more in return (being able to adjust a sewing pattern to fit my body, for instance). And being almost afraid of accessories is just silly.

14. Express your five most important goals in a short, motivating sentence each and then start sketching out how you want to achieve or implement them.

– get a better fit: by testing out getting things tailored, by trying to make alterations myself, searching for brands/shops that are especially hourglass-friendly, creating a basic dress pattern that I can use to sew simple tops, dresses and skirts.

– continue being selective when making new purchases: this is especially important for me when the fit is about right, but the style or colour isn’t. Also, in times before unusual events I tend to get slightly panicked, and thus less discerning.

– develop strategies to feel put-together even when I’m ill: better loungewear, dyeing my brows regularly (it makes me feel more comfortable without any makeup on), creating a laundry routine so I’ll always have something comfortable available.

– work more patterns into my wardrobe: I do like patterns, but not often the ones I find in shops (especially if the fit and shape also has to be right), so if I can sew my own dresses, for instance, I’ll have many more patterns to choose from.

– get better with accessories: studying fashion editorials, blogs and street style images to pick up new ideas and inspirations. Then forcing myself to try them out, even if it feels like I’m weighed down with bling.

Finally, I’ve been thinking about this blog and how I want it to be the next year. I truly wish to be able to blog more often, for instance. I know many of you want more frequent posts, and I really miss blogging when I haven’t done it in a while. My body and mind aren’t always cooperative, though, and everyday tasks like buying groceries and working have to be a priority, naturally. My plan for the blog for 2014 is therefore:

– not stressing about it if I can’t blog for a while.

– focusing on writing useful, thorough posts that might not come as often, instead of writing more wishy-washy posts just because ”I need to blog something“.

– continuing answering e-mails and comments, though at my own pace and as my health allows.

– taking more outfit pictures once the days get lighter again.

– creating more illustrations. I love doing them, even if they do require a lot of time and energy.

Here’s to a stylish and wonderful 2014, darlings!

Holiday body issues, and how to overcome them

posted on: December 13, 2013

Holiday body issues and how to overcome them | from lostinaspotlessmind.com

Happy feel-bad-about-your-appearance-holiday! Whether it’s Christmas, New Years or the summer holidays approaching, they all come bearing gifts of body issues. There are the obvious things, like magazines and “newspapers” and blogs and instagram accounts and commercials and advertising posters, constantly reminding you that the most important thing in this world is to be a beautiful little fool. You will never see any body or face that truly looks like yours in this photoshopped territory, which reminds you that your kind of looks don’t deserve to be seen, to be visible. In some ways, though indisputably a tough enemy to face, this is one of the easier ones, because they are easy to label as just that, an enemy. We are all aware that advertisements of any kind were not created to make us feel happy or satisfied.

Then there are enemies that aren’t really enemies at all. Food, for instance. As the holidays approaches, I always notice how the words used to talk about food become saturated by guilt, as though food is something we shouldn’t really allow ourselves, and we are only doing it because we are too weak to resist. People talk about “guilty pleasures”, “being bad”, “allowing themselves” this and that. No meal exists on its own, because we have to make sure we have the correct amount of “good” to outweigh the “bad”. A bar of chocolate isn’t merely a bar of chocolate, it’s “decadent” (“characterized by or reflecting a state of moral or cultural decline”), “luxurious” (“giving self-indulgent or sensual pleasure”) or “extravagant” (“exceeding what is reasonable or appropriate; excessive or elaborate”).

Holidays also bring more festive occasions, whether they are glittering nights or sun-soaked afternoons. How you look will become of more importance. It will matter more how beautiful you are in party makeup, or no makeup at all; how your body looks in strapless dresses, or oversized, shapeless t-shirts. You might become obsessed with some new “flaw” of yours that you weren’t aware of before, such as your suddenly inexplicably obtrusive upper lip hair, or a crisscross of purple, or red, or silvery stretch marks. You will limit yourself because of these “flaws”, or you will make ever effort to “improve” the situation. That’s our mission in life, isn’t it, to always improve? Fortunately, improvements are easy to keep track of, because we have numbers. Numbers for weight, circumference, good and bad things in food, alcohol units, exercise reps, speed, length, fat, muscles, clothing sizes, age – the list never ends, does it?

Your focus will shift. Instead of simply being happy you are spending time with your best friend, you’ll make comparisons. Who looks better in red/a bikini/winged liner/pajamas/a santa beard? You believe the gazes of strangers give you the answers. This constant stream of comparison feels even worse because part of you thinks it’s completely irrational and immature, which makes you feel shallow and petty, which again makes you snappish and grumpy. Once we are caught in this whirlwind of negativity and confusion, more things “get to us”, too, which creates a downward spiral that can take a long time to recover from. Probably just in time for the next holiday to come around.

So, in generous holiday spirit, I thought I’d share with you some tips on how I “protect” myself during times like these. The general rule is: do I feel worse about myself after reading/watching/listening to this? If the answer is yes, then it has to go.

 

My guidelines for overcoming holiday body issues:

knowing what my starting point is. It has taken years of thinking and reading and feeling, but I know now that I think one can be healthy at every size, that our value as people does not lie in appearance, that I do appreciate beauty, and I think it comes in a multitude of forms. I know that because I am ill (hello depression, hello probably-CFS, hello anxiety), I need to be extra careful. This especially applies to the topic of exercise, because I am simply not able to exercise in my condition. Workout articles/blogs/pinterest boards/conversations make me feel guilty and sad in a way I don’t think non-ill people can truly understand, both because having CFS is a world of are-you-sure-you-aren’t-just-imagining-things, and because it reminds me of all the things I miss. In short, your own starting point can work as a sort of center, to give all those external influences some context.

– anything that contains numbers about bodies is a no-go. The number might describe weight, percentage of body fat, number of times an exercise is done, body measurements or other similar things – if I encounter these, I immediately stop reading, even if it’s in one of my favourite blogs. I think it’s because numbers are so concrete, and therefore tend to stick in my head for a long time. They become something against which to measure yourself, which, at least for me, only leads to trouble.

– finding positive angles to tricky topics. For instance, when I noticed my thoughts on food started to go awry, I decided to watch more cooking shows (I’m in love with British Nigel Slater), read cooking blogs and books, and teach myself how to make even more food from scratch. Please notice that all these things focus on the simple pleasure of making and eating food, not any kinds of diets. I think that nowadays, many people find food becoming increasingly difficult, and so they turn to diets for guidance. If you adhere to a single type of diet, there will usually be clear rules for what is right and wrong, which, in a way, makes things easier. For me, though, diets and how they often focus on losing weight, is simply out of the question. Instead, I seek out positive influences on food.

– seeking out “alternative” images of bodies and appearance. With “alternative”, I mean people that aren’t photoshopped to death, wearing three layers of shapewear, or styled and groomed for five hours each morning. This can be reading blogs with a similar photoshop policy to mine (no liquify tool, for instance), or just watching normal people in a café or public transportation. I think it’s frighteningly easy to forget that nobody actually looks like the photoshopped images we see everywhere. And nobody looks perfectly styled and stylish without (what is to us, invisible) hours of preparations. I also read blogs like Eat the Damn Cake, Growing Out My Bush (NSFW) and Dances With Fat, just to get many different perspectives on things. Perspective is good, as is remembering what reality looks like.

no body-snarking talk of any kind. I don’t mean those actual conversations about how we feel or how we look, but those “I look so ugly today”-rants or “I need to drop ten kilos as soon as possible”-deals. The Norwegian culture isn’t as full of this as for instance the American seems to be, and fortunately, most of my friends don’t do it much, but sometimes it pops up nonetheless. When it does, I usually do one of two things: I either change the subject completely (and people tend to get the hint; if they don’t, I’ll do it again in a way that makes them get it), or I talk about the issue properly. Not in a hey-I’m-now-going-to-lecture-you-about-body-issues-way, hopefully, but just to let a friend know that I truly care about her/him, and how mean thoughts like that aren’t doing them any good. It’s what I want someone to tell me when the situation is reversed, at least.

focusing on something else. Who has the capacity to worry about thighs that rub together if one is busy doing a silly dance on the living room floor with a sister, reading an amazing book, humming over Benedict Cumberbatch-interviews, cooking a gluten-free AND lactose-free lasagna from scratch, sleeping till noon, re-writing that French grammar rule book you created in high school, trying to keep those bloody house plants alive, watching the fog make everything outside your window disappear, flirting with the bus driver, or surviving a trip to IKEA on a Saturday?

– if all else fails, I imagine myself as Leonardo DiCaprio in a Baz Luhrman movie, covered in sweat and dirt and blood, staring wildly up at the sky, half-crying and half-laughing, screaming “IS THAT ALL YOU’VE GOT?!“, at the top of my lungs. I might be sad, or scared, or angry, but I’m still alive, and still fighting, and my inner Leo can survive anything.

What are your ways to handle the holiday body pressure? Do share, as the more tips and stories we can gather, the less alone we’ll be!

Downton Abbey hair tutorial – Lady Sybil (again)

posted on: November 19, 2013

Downton_Abbey-hair-tutorial-sybil

We’re in the middle of season four of Downton Abbey here in Norway, and the show still manages to inspire me in many ways. I haven’t written about it in a while now, but some of you might remember my Downton Abbey-inspired outfit, or the previous hair tutorial (blog post // YouTube video) I made? Well, I actually filmed two tutorials at the same time, I just haven’t gotten around to finishing the second one before now. I used my younger sisters as models, and if they seem like, well, the same girl, it’s because they’re twins.

Downton_Abbey-hair-tutorial-sybil-inspiration

The inspiration for the blog post comes from the show’s early days. I didn’t aim for an exact replica of any particular of Lady Sybil’s hairstyles, but was more inspired by the shape and lines we often see her wear. In this instance, I wanted something that was swept up and away from the face, but was still swirly and voluminous around the crown and neck area. My interpretation is a bit messy, with lots of easy backcombing involved, because I want to make it seem less intimidating to do. This is not supposed to be perfectly coiffed and smooth, it is more about the different sections of hair and how they create a whole.

Downton_Abbey-hair-tutorial-sybil-2

The song is a live recording from one of my music exams, back in 2009 when I still did that sort of thing. I always find it difficult to pick music for YouTube-videos like this, as the music shouldn’t steal all the attention, but still be, well, worth listening to. I hope you like it (both the music and the tutorial) – and remember that it looks its best in high quality and full screen view mode.

 

Bra comparisons – what a difference a bra makes!

posted on: November 7, 2013

Bra-comparison-profile2

For weeks now I’ve been frustrated with my tops and dresses, because nothing seemed to fit right. Finally it clicked: I needed a new bra. Books and magazines are always stressing the importance of proper undergarments, but it’s not always easy to put the concept into practice. Underwear is something usually only seen by ourselves and our loved ones, so it’s more tempting to spend money on items that’ll see the light of day. Also, bra sizes vary enormously from brand to brand and bra style to bra style, so even if you can actually manage to find the right size (and how do you know it’s the right size anyway?), you’ll still probably have to go through the process all over again next time you’re bra shopping. The bra selection mirrors the same problems we often find with other garments; it’s either synthetics and shabby quality all over, or it becomes shockingly expensive. And if you aren’t lucky enough to fit the (very limited) size selection in most stores, well, then it’s really hopeless. Right?

Yes, there are many difficulties with finding the right bra. But I still think we should make the effort, instead of settling for some ill-fitting ol’ thing, because the difference it makes to the silhouette is pretty astonishing, as you can see from my little diagram above. I’m rather busty, and simply cannot go braless and still be comfortable. Finding the right bra(s) is therefore not just a visual matter, but also to prevent aching shoulders, poor posture and feeling annoyed with a very prominent part of my body. Of course, these are relevant factors no matter the size of your bust, they are just harder to ignore if you’re endowed more like Marilyn (supposedly a 36D) than like Audrey (a rumored 34A).

I’m planning a separate blog post dedicated to bra shopping (because otherwise this post would be way too long even for my liking), but I thought we’d start with studying different kinds of bras, and the effect they have on our figure. Let’s take a closer look.

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Winter preparations

posted on: October 24, 2013

Winter-preparations-wardrobe-skin_care

It snowed for the very first time in Oslo this week. To tell the truth, there aren’t many aspects of winter I’m looking forwards to; winters in Oslo are, ironically, even colder than the ones I’m used to from my home town in the north. Although I do consider myself a city girl, even I have to admit winter does look better when draped over naked trees and bare seaside cliffs, than over a dirty city with hundreds of stressed people hurrying around. With this in mind, I do whatever I can to make winter preparations as pleasant as possible, and thought I’d share some of my favourite ways with you.

Getting the wardrobe ready

With the soundtrack of (the first) Narnia movie playing, I carefully pack away the too-thin jackets and coats, scarves and shoes. Everything gets checked for stains, rips and other things that need to be fixed, because once a stain has been allowed to set for a winter, removing it becomes pretty much impossible. I condition all things leather. Packing everything gently means my favourite coat won’t be horribly wrinkled that first spring morning when all I want to do is run outside, not iron all my outerwear. Now is also the time to locate all those wool camisoles and sweaters, and to make sure I have enough 120 denier tights.

Updating the skin care regimen

All my facial skin care products are still from Paula’s Choice, and I know that my system works pretty much all year round for me. I don’t pack away my moisturizer with SPF (I use SPF30 all year round), but I’ve added a moisturizing mask since I’ve switched to a slightly lighter daily moisturizer. My beloved Chanel no5 is also being used daily; perfume is definitely an autumn/winter thing for me.

Battling dryness

Although my face is surprisingly well-behaved as the seasons change, my scalp and my cuticles tend to completely panic. So, I keep a mini jar of shea butter and a pair of wool gloves in my everyday bag; my way to work starts with a ten minute walk, which gives me plenty of time to rub some shea on my fingertips, then put on gloves to let it soak in for the rest of the journey. I’ve also done some research for that unhappy scalp of mine, and decided to start CO-washing. “CO” stands for “conditioner only”, which means that no, I don’t use shampoo on a daily basis anymore. Instead I use a cheap kind of conditioner in the same way I would shampoo, massaging it thoroughly into the scalp and through my hair, then rinsing it out even more thoroughly. As long as I avoid styling products with silicone, the conditioner is absolutely able to clean my hair, and my scalp appears to approve. You can read more about CO-washing here and here if you’re curious!

Adding colour

Every time the weather gets cooler, people seem to withdraw into cocoons of black and grey. The rebel in me actually prefers blacks and whites in the summer, and bright colours for winter, so I make sure to wear colours as much as possible when autumn comes around again. This year my favourites are my bright blue coat, a red home-knitted slouchy hat, my raspberry pink scarf, and fuchsia wool gloves. And let’s not forget lipstick and nail polish, which always adds some zing.

Pleasurable food

I’ve become something of a cooking enthusiast the past few years, and autumn/winter is my favourite food season. There’s just something about savory, spiced dinners, and desserts with apples and cinnamon and vanilla, that really ticks all my boxes. I also make a pretty incredible (lactose free) hot chocolate, with melted dark chocolate, quality cacao powder, vanilla, cinnamon, chili and a pinch of salt.

Setting the mood

Nowadays I listen to Agnes Obel’s new record Aventine, Katie Gray’s Love Like Fire, Familial by Philip Selway, and both records by The Civil Wars. The soundtracks from W.E., Chocolat, and The Man Who Cried are also excellent for this time of year. I watch the movies themselves, and others like Last Night, Cracks, Jane Eyre, Sucker Punch and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower – not always for the story, but for the costumes, the light, the personalities and the overall mood.

Cozy surroundings

More blankets, a heavier duvet, thick curtains, fresh flowers, candles, turning up the floor heating in the bathroom, switching to my heavy silk velvet dressing robe – it just makes for a more cozy, comfy home, doesn’t it? Oh, and as you’ve probably noticed, I changed my blog design completely. The new one is called Mellifluous from Blogmilk, and it feels so much more me than the old one. It still needs some tweaking and a few Maria-like touches here and there, but overeall, I think it’s rather beautiful; in fact, I woke up today feeling inspired to blog, which hasn’t happened since spring. What do you think, do you like the new look?