Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sunday at the Art Gallery With Linda

This past Sunday, these two women met for brunch, and then went off to Museum London to see a presentation by Little Ray's Reptile Zoo, a privately funded zoo and animal rescue that has a travelling reptile show.   Linda and I find snakes, lizards and other scaley critters rather fascinating so we thought it would be an interesting way to spend an hour.

When we arrived a few minutes after the show had started, we found ourselves at the back of a large crowd of children and adults.  The man in the hat in the upper left of the photo was holding, and talking about a particular salamander that is on the endangered species list.  Unfortunately, the noise level in the room was so loud that you could barely hear what he was saying, even though he was almost yelling.  At one point, a man standing near me put up his hand and asked if the presenter could speak louder, and without thinking, I said out loud, to no one in particular, "maybe if everyone shut up, we could hear him".   In that moment, I officially became a crochety old lady.   I recalled that if I was ever taken to a show or exhibit when I was a kid, there was a conversation beforehand about the behaviour that was expected of me - pay attention and be quiet.  Apparently that talk isn't had by many parents and children anymore.  When we realized we were never going to be able to hear what the poor reptile guy was saying, we decided to explore the rest of the gallery.

We crossed into the large main gallery and saw this, prompting us to both exclaim "DRESSES!"

The dresses were part of an exhibit titled "In Full Flower", featuring women's dresses, decorative objects, and paintings with a floral motif from the Museum's collection.  Flowers have been used extensively throughout history as a decorative motif by artists, fashion designers, and crafters and have held a variety of symbolic meanings.  They are usually associated with femininity, and thus are a popular choice for fabrics for women's clothing, hence the dresses on display.  Unfortunately, the paintings that were chosen for the exhibit were mostly dark and featured rather droopy flowers (notice the two on the wall behind the dress) which made them not worth documenting.  The silk dress in the photo from around 1915 was owned by Marjorie Stevenson Morphy, and is an example of a very fashionable outfit of the time period.

This late 1920's chiffon dress was one of my favourites for the colour combination and the shape

A very welcome, and quite fascinating addition to the exhibit was the display cards below each dress that not only described the dress and how it was made, but also gave some information about the  woman who had owned it.  The cards in the photo above are for the chiffon dress in the previous photo.  I love the name Eloise!

Details of some of the dresses on display (clockwise from top left):  Lace detail on the collar and pocket of a 1940's cotton dress donated by Western's Brescia College; waist detail of Arnold Scaasi silk dress purchased by Judith Roger in 1964 for her wedding trousseau. Judith's daughter Milisa Burns then wore the dress as a going away outfit after her own 1991 wedding; vibrant floral pattern and draped bodice and waist of a 1980's dress owned by Isabel Wilson Roger; ruffled capped sleeves on a 1930's georgette dress worn by Bertha "Mabel" Riether when she was in her 50's.

The 1960's were represented by the polyester dress on the left, which was purchased in Toronto in 1969, and the PVC dress on the right designed by Canadian-born Karen Moller

Linda and I were intrigued by the description for these two dresses, both owned by Sophie Skaith.  Skaith made the mini dress on the left in 1970 and according to the information card, she wore it a lot because "it just made me feel so good and I just loved to wear it".  We were surprised to see that the rather dumpy Laura Ashley dress with the lace collar was also owned by Skaith, and it was noted that it was one of her favourites.   Linda and I were very tempted to try to contact Ms. Skaith, who is still alive, and find out how the same woman that made the bold flowered minidress on the left could also be so enamoured with the drab, shapeless dress on the right.

In Full Flower:  Handpicked From the Collection 
is on view at Museum London until April 19th

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Awkward Years

At the end of January,  Buzzfeed posted a list of the "15 Amazing Senior Style Instagrammers You Should Follow Right Now" featuring a number of women I know, and the majority of whom I was already following on IG.  If you haven't seen the list, check it out - you'll find some of the bloggers we've always known were cool like Judith, The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas, Ariane, and Desiree.  I was thrilled that the women (do stylish older men not have IG accounts?) are receiving the recognition they deserve although I was rather puzzled as to what criteria was used to determine who qualified as a "senior" - the ages of the women ranged from late 40's to 80.   It reminded me of when I met blogger Ari Cohen on a trip to New York when I turned 50, which at the time felt old to me, only to be told that I was too young to be on his blog, Advanced Style

Shortly thereafter, Sylvia, the author of 40+Style posted a list of The 40 Most Stylish Midlife Women on Instagram You Should Follow Right Now  (on which I am honoured to be included).  I believe "midlife" is a term to describe those of us not old enough to be considered senior (which according to Buzzfeed I'll be in two years).    

It's a weird stage of life, your 50's.  You can't fool yourself (or anyone else) that you are "young" anymore, realistically, you're not middle-aged, as few of us will live into our 100's.   Technically, you're not a senior (no pension, and no senior's discounts), even though some days it may feel like it.  I'm nowhere near being able to retire, yet I am bombarded by messages from the media (and our HR department at work) reminding me that I have to think about it, NOW!

During a conversation with Melanie,  she coined the term Middle-Aged Tween, or MAT for short, and I'd have to say that's pretty much how it feels.   Your hormones are wonky, your body is changing, and suddenly it's like you're 12 all over again.  You're too old for some things, and not old enough for others, and you're not really sure where you fit in anymore.   The majority of my close friends are either a decade younger than I, or a decade older.  I'm the 53 year old in the middle, without children or grandchildren to worry about, no house to renovate, and still working full-time for many years to come.

I never had any specific ideas of what I would wear when I was in my 50's.  Growing up, the only women I knew personally who were in their 50's were my mother and her friends,  I knew I would dress very different from them when I was their age....and sure enough, I do.

1980's sweater - May Court Shop
Leather and Fabric pants - Danier 
Dress - Talize
fur collar - The Sentimentalist

(left) Melanie and (right) Ariane (images from their blogs)
Thank goodness I have these two 50-something dames in my life as style inspirations.

 Tilda Swinton (source)
This woman, also in her early 50's, will always be a style inspiration for me, whether as a blonde, brunette or redhead, full makeup or none, dressed as a man or a woman. 

 My hair is certainly unlike that of any woman I knew when I was growing up, but that is mostly due to the time period.  Women did not shave their heads and colour their hair orange and pink in the 1970's.    Most of them don't do it now, at least not women my age.  I've asked myself more than once if I colour my hair like this for the visibility factor - after all, my friends are able to pick me out of a crowd with no difficulty - but there's more to it than that.  My natural hair colour is mousy brown, and I've been colouring it most of my adult life to reflect a personality that is anything but mousy brown.  My hair has kind of become my thing - and is often seen more as an art installation on my head instead of hair.  I think if it wasn't a vibrant colour and styled like this, I wouldn't feel like me.

And then there's the attitude, which I have been told is definitely not that of most 50-something women, which I'll take as a compliment.  I take the things in my life that are important to me seriously, but myself, not so much.

Most amazing googly-eye shirt - made by the most amazing Melanie
jacket and skirt - thrifted

The back of the shirt, featuring this patch with a wonderful cartoon rendition of yours truly (wearing my favourite Docs).  I think Melanie has captured the 50-something me perfectly.

Monday, February 9, 2015

They Grow Up So Fast

This is not the post I was hoping to put up tonight, but I'm still working on that one, so in the meantime, let's catch up with Ginger and Ruby, shall we?

Remember these little babies?

Ruby and Ginger in December, at 8 weeks of age

Like all babies, they keep getting bigger and bigger

At almost 4 months old, they are close to twice the size they were when I brought them home.  Ginger (left) is smaller than Ruby, but she is braver, and is often the first to try new things. 

Just look at those chompers on Ginger!  She has not been smoking - a healthy rat's teeth are supposed to be yellow.

They climb onto the bars of the cage to greet me in the morning, and when I arrive home at night.  They want to be out of their cage and with me all the time, and my couch has turned into a rat playground for hide-and-go-seek, wrestling, and the dispensing of treats.  I supervise them when they're out, but they are quick, curious little creatures, who love to chew on stuff...

...and on the weekend I discovered this:

This is one of the three large cushions that line the back of my couch, which was the first piece of new furniture I ever purchased, about 20 years ago.  With no kids or animals in my apartment, it has stayed in very good condition, until now.   I found Ginger hiding inside the cushion on Saturday night after searching for her for over a half an hour.  I have no idea how long she had been working on that hole (which was on the side of the cushion against the couch).   There was no point in getting angry with her, as she was just doing what rats do, and you can't discipline them like you would a dog.  I allowed myself to be upset for a while, and realized that when one has a pet (unless it's a fish), you have to be prepared that something is going to get scratched, chewed, or peed on.  I'm just glad it wasn't a pair of my favourite shoes.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Girls Just Want to Have Fun (and Cupcakes)

It was another busy weekend here; I am in the midst of purging stuff, and Saturdays are taken up with trips to drop of donations to thrift stores, consignment stores, and throwing things out.   I made a quick stop at The Boombox Bakeshop to get myself a treat....

Behold, a lavender lemon cupcake!  It was such a perfect cupcake -  marvelous mix of flavours,  moist center with a bit of a crispy outside,  just the right amount of icing -   I had to do it justice with a photo collage.  It did strike me at some point when I was taking these photos that I might be a little desperate for blog photos these days.

After a full day of errands,  I was looking forward to attending a "Ladies Night" at Renegade, where noted Sexologist Dr. Carlen Costa was going to be speaking.  Alas, I arrived too late, and missed Carlen's talk on self-pleasure and orgasms, which I gathered was thoroughly enjoyed by the women in the audience.  I've seen Dr. Carlen speak at another event, and she is delightful - extremely knowledgeable, charming and has a great sense of humour.   This was the second party at the store that I had been invited to since it opened back in August, and Christine has also hosted a games night.  Renegade is acquiring a reputation not only a place to find attractive plus-size clothing, but also a place where women can get together and have fun in a supportive, nonjudgemental environment.  All shapes and sizes welcome!

Another thing I like about the parties at Renegade is that the women who attend make a real effort to dress up.  The women in the photos above are wearing outfits they had purchased at the store.   The curved line of buttons on the skirt of the dress on the right emphasizes the curve of her hips, and you can see the saucy bow at the back reflected in the mirror.

The redhead on the left wore the dress she is wearing in a mini-fashion show during the evening.    The sassy dame on the right found her funky dress at Penningtons, of all places.  Their clothing used to be very stuffy and conservative (I know because I worked there when I was going to university) so I was surprised to see they now more stylish and fun plus-sized clothing.

There were more cupcakes from The Boombox Bakeshop (it was a two cupcake day for me!)

Kayla and I went rack to rack (so to speak) in our black and gold dresses,  After the party, the two of us went to a Motown Party at a local club - it was Saturday night, and I was still awake after 10 pm so I thought I'd better take advantage of it.  It was a lot of fun, and I danced more than I had in years, although I had definitely worn the wrong outfit for dancing - the dress was soaked with sweat by the time I got home.

I'm including this photo so I can get in on The Stylecrone's Hat Attack this month (#19, can you believe it??).  Even though it's a bathroom selfie shot with my phone, I really like the photo - it shows off the hat perfectly and my skin looks pretty awesome, which is something to celebrate these days.