Monday, December 26, 2011

50 Classics For Your Closet - Part 1 Footwear

The checklist 50 Classics for Your Closet, found at, has been repinned (including by me!) endlessly on Pinterest, and is one of those "items you have to have" lists that I don't really like as a whole, but often follow loosely. Just like the 10 classic items in Parisian Style that I am working on collecting!

So I thought I would take a really good look at the list of 50 Classics, and see what I already had, how often I wear said piece, what pieces I don't have, and whether I would like to get these missing pieces. Today, I will look at their Footwear selection:


  1. Ballet Flats
  2. Loafers
  3. Sneakers
  4. Sandals
  5. Black Pumps
  6. Tall Boots
I have to say, I really like this list of "must have" footwear, and I do indeed have all of these. Plus, I think if you have at least one of each of these shoes, you will be set for almost any occasion. The only shoe I would add to this list is a heeled bootie. Not necessarily a classic, but definitely a great way of keeping your shoe wardrobe nice and current.

I am in love with ballet flats - they are great for mums who are running around, but they are still nice and feminine. When buying ballet flats, make sure they have some arch support. A lot have perfectly flat insoles, and after a few hours, your feet will be killing you! I love the Emma ballet flats from Lands' End; they are reasonably priced (and are on sale now!), super comfortable and come in a range of colours and styles. I have pairs in classic black, denim and tan and these three colours go with almost my whole wardrobe. I would love to add a pair of leopard print ones, though!

Loafers absolutely fall into the classic category, and I think for a lot of people, they may be too classic. However, I love them! I have two pairs of driving shoes (rather than true loafers), one in black and one in espresso brown, and these two colours work with almost all the colours in my wardrobe. Like ballet flats, they are great for running around in. My one bit of advice regarding  loafers is to mainly wear them with pants (even crops); I think they can look a bit frumpy with skirts. My current faves are pictured above, from Australian brand Louenhide. They are also on sale at the moment!

I think most people have a love/hate relationship with sneakers, especially when they think of the white athletic type. I want to state from the outset - white athletic sneakers are not shoes, they are sports equipment, and therefore should only be worn when engaging in sport/exercise. However, there are literally thousands of "fashion" sneakers that are a great addition to a casual wardrobe. Paired with casual pants, like jeans or cords, sneakers are a great option, especially for mums that are constantly running after young toddlers! I am not against white sneakers, but I generally prefer either black sneakers, or brightly coloured ones. Mine are from Ecco, but Puma, Adidas and numerous other brands also make some great ones. I also like the old-school tennis shoe type, like the ones by Bensimmon or Superga.

What would summer be without sandals? I really believe you need two types of sandals - one for day and one for night, or at least one that can cross between both, like the metallic wedge above from Talbots. In my opinion, go cheaper with your day sandals. If you are like me, you tend to wear them at the beach, at the park, as well as your general day-to-day business, and so, they get grotty and worn out much sooner than other shoes on this list. My current day sandals are from Talbots, a simple white leather T-strap sandal with a super-summery cork insole.

For evenings out, I like either a heeled sandal, or a jewel-embellished flat. I had a jewel-embellished flat from Talbots, exactly the same style as my white ones but in a champagne metallic with bronzy gems on them, but unfortunately the gems started falling off almost immediately, so they were returned. The pic above is the ones I am currently wearing. They are a bit day-time for me (and I wear them a lot in the day time), but for now, they will do. I do like the nude colour, as they go with almost everything and make my legs look like they go on forever!

Black pumps make their appearance on almost every "must have" list, and there is a good reason why. A true classic, they really do go with almost everything, and if you pick a very classic piece (mid-heel, plain leather, little embellishment and almond shape toe) they will last you a long time if you look after them. Mine were a serious investment from Salvatore Ferragamo (like the ones above, but regular leather, not patent) but are still going on strong 4 years after I bought them.  Shoes like this can be bought at every price point - follow the tips above, and buy the best you can afford. I wear mine with everything from casual outfits with jeans, through to skirts, and on evenings out.

A love me a pair of tall boots, but out of the six shoes listed, these are the ones I wear the least. I think this is because they are so season specific, and here in Western Australia, our winters are just not very long. Despite that, I still have two pairs, a black flat pair, and a brown suede heeled pair. I love wearing them over the top of skinny jeans or with knee-length skirts. I also think they would look amazing with this season's mid-length skirt, too.

So there is my round-up of Matchbook's footwear selection in the 50 Classics For Your Closet, and so far, so good. Not only do I have all of them, I wear all of them as well. Stay tuned for the second part when I will go through their accessories selection!

Linking to:

Momma Go Round
Monday Mingle @ Glamamom

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Monday, December 19, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday: My Parisian Style Haircut

 pleated poppy

No pics again, but I do have my new hair cut to share, and that's kind of what I wore? Right? Work with me here, gals!

I was so inspired by the images in the book Parisian Style by Ines de la Fressange (see my review of it here) that I actually took the book into my hairdresser and told her that I wanted hair similar to Nine's hair throughout the book. And here is the result:

So far, I am in love! It is just long enough to tie back when needed, it's truly wash and wear, and it feels so light and springy. And in a "it's such a small world" co-incidence, as I was getting my hair done, the owner of the salon came up to me, and goes "I know you..."  It honestly took me more than a few seconds to realise that he was a really good friend in primary (elementary) school, and one of my high school BFFs dancing partner. We have not seen each other for at least a decade - it was so weird to just run into someone from the past like that.

Anyway, back to the hair - what do you all think? Friends and family have mixed opinions so far - some are loving it, my teenage nephew hates it (thinks it's a "mum" cut); but I love it, and that's what counts!!

Also linking to: Monday Mingle @ Glamamom

Momma Go Round

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Four Ways with Blueberries

Summer is my least favourite season, but one thing I do love about it is the abundance of berries. There is just something so summery about tucking into a bowl of refreshing blueberries, blackberries or cherries! But just in case you are sick of eating them plain (can you ever be sick of that?!), then here are four more ways you can enjoy them.

4 Ways with Blueberries

  1. Mash and fold into spreadable cream cheese and top bagels or English Muffins with the mix for fun and fruity "purple" bagels.
  2. Toss with washed baby spinach, chopped chicken breast, crumbled goats cheese or feta and raspberry vinaigrette for a quick and easy lunch full of antioxidants.
  3. Add to any muffin or quick bread recipe. Blueberries are great with banana bread or muffins.
  4. Make a quick blueberry sauce: simmer 1 cup blueberries with 3 tbs water, 1/4 cup honey and a squeeze of lemon juice for 10 minutes. Stir in another cup of blueberries and simmer for 5 more minutes. Perfect with icecream or waffles (or both!)

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Book Review: Parisian Style: A Style Guide


I read Parisian Style: A Style Guide months ago (pretty much as soon as it came out) but I have only just realised that I never posted a review. I love reading style and fashion books (not necessarily the same thing!) and have quite a growing collection of the ones I think are keepers. A greater collection, on the other hand, have been given away since they are, to put it plainly, a waste of my space. I am glad to say, that Parisian Style has staked out a space on my bookshelf!

Parisian Style is by the legendary French ex- Chanel model and Karl Lagerfeld muse, Ines De La Fressange, who was also selected to represent Mariane, the symbol of the French Republic. As we all know, the French, and the Parisienne in particular, holds an almost magical place in the imaginations of most women. There are countless books on how to look like the French, dress like the French, diet (or not) like the French, and many of them are also sitting in my bookcase. But this this probably one of the first books written by a true "insider"; a Parisienne who is recognized throughout the world as a style icon in her own right.

This book is beautifully packaged in a charming red leather-like cover embossed with gold lettering that for some reason reminds me of the classic Moleskin journals, especially with the ribbon bookmark.  The information inside is just as charming. There are plenty of pretty illustrations done by Ines herself, and numerous photos (of Ines' daughter, Nine) to demonstrate the principles Ines is laying out. The book is basically divided into two parts. The first part is what most people would call the style guide, including how to build a wardrobe from 7 key pieces.

  1. a man's blazer
  2. the trench
  3. the navy sweater
  4. the tank
  5. the LBD
  6. the perfect jeans
  7. the leather jacket
I don't usually like lists of "must-have" items; yes, I think a trench coat is a wonderfully classic item, on some people. However, on a short-waisted, plus-sized, full-busted gal like me, a trench coat is never going to be a great choice. However, trench coat not-withstanding, I have to say that I have almost completed acquiring the list, and they (especially in winter, not so much in our humid, hot summer) made my daily wardrobe dilemma much easier! 

What I loved most about the list of 7 must haves was Ines' further suggestions for each item, including how these pieces can meld into anyone's closet, fashion faux pas, celebrity style and examples of the perfect "hall of fame" item, such as Eric Bompard's classic navy cashmere sweater.

There is even a quick 10-point lesson on how to master that je ne sais quois, the off beat, effortless look we all aspire to. Some, I think are achievable: wearing jeans with gem-encrusted sandals rather than sneakers, for example, or a sequined sweater with men's trousers and not a skirt. Others, like toting a straw handbag with an evening dress rather than a clutch, probably need more French-style self confidence than I can muster!  Ines also includes a small, but informative section on home decor and entertaining, as well as beauty, so this gem of a book not only encompasses "fashion" style, but Parisian style overall.

The second part is a guide to Ines' favourite stores, museums and hotels in Paris. While it was interesting and often inspirational, I didn't find it as useful as the first part. If I was off to Paris in the near future, though, I would definitely pay closer attention to this section!

Overall, the book is a simple guide to looking effortlessly chic. It is squarely aimed at the more classic dresser (which I am), rather than the more eccentric Left Bank style that I have seen many Parisiennes sporting. While there is not a lot of new information in this book, the info coupled with the presentation has earned it a spot in my home.

For further French style inspiration, I can also recommend two other books - A Year of Style by Frederick Fekkai, which is more serious, and Entre Nous by Debra Olliver which is more light-hearted, both of which I re-read on a regular basis.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Product Review: Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet Lipstick

While I have mostly moved my makeup to more natural options, every now and then I want to experiment with a vibrant colour of the season that just isn't available from a natural brand. For this summer, I really wanted to find a super hot pink matte shade, and I found it in the Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet lipstick in 37, L'Exuberante.

Here is the lipstick on me, about an hour after I first applied it, without an lipliner. Chanel describes the lipstick as luminous matte lipcolour, "elevating matte to a new elegance, this next generation, non-drying matte lipstick glides on lips with intensely rich color and a sumptuously soft velvet matte finish." I have to agree that the lipstick is intensely rich in colour, the finish is gorgeous. It feels lush going on, and while it appears creamy initially, within a minute or so it has dried to a finish that can truly be described as velvet matte. However, while it didn't feel dry on the lips like other matte lipsticks I have worn, it did dry my lips out. I don't know if this would happen to everyone (I have chronically dry lips!) but it was really noticeable that after a few days of wearing it, my lips were drier than usual. Since I love the colour and the look of the lipstick so much, I am still wearing it, but alternating it with days of lipbalm wearing!

A lot of reviews I have read mentioned how long lasting this lipstick was. It was definitely longer lasting than my regular lipsticks, but I only got a few hours out of each application. However, not once has the colour bled into the fine lines around my lips, often a problem for me with bright/dark colours if I don't wear lipliner.  As for the colour, I love it! It is a true hot pink, and it looks amazing with my tanned skin. But I could also see it on just about every skintone, from pale right through to dark. It is really that universally flattering. It is also the type of colour that I can see myself wearing now in the middle of summer with my patterns and brights, and then later in winter to add a pop of colour to my greys and blacks.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Teacher's Gifts

It is the last week of school and I can't believe that day is here already. Stephen has finished his first year of formal schooling, and Irini will be starting hers next year. How did we get here so fast? It's a cliche, but it really did feel like just yesterday that they were both just little babies. But lets stop worrying about time flying; I have more pressing concerns, like teacher gifts!

This is the second year I've needed teacher gifts, and like last year, I wanted to make something home made. I found a great recipe for hot chocolate on a stick at GiversLog (which is a great resource for handmade gifts of all sorts) and adapted it to suit. Instead of putting it on a stick, I used some great Santa icecube molds, and I used a mix of milk and dark chocolate. After they set, I packed them into some cellophane in some Santa mugs. Tucked into some cute gift bags, and I had the eight (yes, you read that right!) gifts for Stephen and Irini's teachers, and all in less than half an hour's active work and for less than $4 each.


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Friday, December 9, 2011

Real Food Meal Plans from The Fresh 20 on sale!

I have mentioned the free meal plans over at 100 Days Of Real Food before (Lisa has another one available now, for email subscribers) and how wonderful they are, but if the four plans are not enough for you, then she now has an exclusive offer of 50% off an annual gift subscription to the meal plans from The Fresh 20. I just bought one (since you can "gift" them to yourselves!), and at $24.50 for the whole year, you can't really go wrong. Even better, especially for those of us in the southern hemisphere, when you have an annual subscription, you gain access to the archives as well, meaning you can utilise plans more in tune with the current season. So if you are interested in having someone else do the meal planning for you, then head over to 100 Days of Real Food's Exclusive Offer for more info (but don't take too long; offer ends on Monday!)

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PS: there are no affiliate links or compensation here - I just thought you gals might be interested!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday

pleated poppy

I have been super slack taking pictures, and that coupled with a bout of illness and Stephen's birthday has resulted in this post showing a few pics taken over the last few weeks. But, overall, I have been pretty happy with these outfits. Summer is well and truly here, and that is making my outfit choices much harder - keep an eye out next week to see how I handled a week of plus 35 C (95F) temps.

These are in no particular order, mostly since I can't remember when each pic was taken!

This top is quite unusual for me, because I don't usually like blouson style tops. However, in person, I think this top camouflages my tummy quite nicely without making me look bigger all over like a lot of other blouson tops I have tried. It is a semi-sheer fabric with a subtle grey, black and white print. Paired with my regular Ann Taylor skinny jeans. No shoes! So I either stayed home all day (most likely) or I put on my fave Nine West flats later.

This dress is a recent buy from Leona Edminston's dedicated plus-sized range. I generally love the look of Leona Edminston dresses in her regular higher priced range (I've never bought any, even  though she often does up to size 18) but I have to admit that I have been disappointed in the plus-sized range. Most of the dresses I have tried have been very frumpy and dowdy and not at all flattering. But this dress, I adore! And it is not just me; whenever I wear it, I get an amazing amount of compliments.
I paired the dress with these two bangles, picked up a long time ago. The colours look absolutely perfect with the dress.
Another new dress, this time from Perri Cutten. It is also jersey, which makes it so easy to wear, and even easier to launder - oh, how I love clothes you don't have to iron.
This outfit felt better in real life than the pic, but they do say pictures don't lie, so I will think twice before wearing it again! Black ruffle top from Basque Woman, with Ann Taylor skinny jeans, and cage heels from Urban Soul.

Also linking up to :

Momma Go Round

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Stephen's Lightning McQueen Cake

It was Stephen's birthday a couple of weeks ago, and (in a bad, bad move!) we have created a tradition of having homemade birthday cakes for both the kids. Mostly, the kids pick from our favourite Women's Weekly Birthday Cake cookbook, which come with pics, instructions, and templates. This year however, Stephen was adamant that he wanted a Lightning McQueen cake, and, in his words, "a proper Lightning McQueen, NOT a picture of him on top of a cake." Wonderful!

After getting myself massively stressed out, having two of my cake batches fail miserably and having to run to the supermarket at 8.30 on a Friday night to buy more ingredients to make another batch, Mum and I finally managed to knock out our version of Lightning McQueen that looked good enough that even Stephen was impressed!

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Guest Post: Tips for Staying Chic During Pregnancy

Today I have a guest post for you on staying chic while you are pregnant from Isabella Woods. Enjoy!

There was a time when if you fell pregnant it would mean dressing for the next nine months either like a car mechanic in some hideous pair of dungarees or like an ageing aunt in a horrible floral maternity dress. Thankfully, the world of maternity wear has moved on dramatically, and expectant mothers can now look just as elegant and chic as before. However, it’s not easy, as not only does is each new mum to be different, with some blowing up like a balloon the first few months, while other don’t start to show until the third trimester, but also the extra weight and changes your body is going through, sometimes means sacrificing style for comfort. There are, however, lots you can do to stay as chic as possible during your pregnancy and still remain as comfortable as possible:

Keep snug - Just buying larger sizes of your usual brands won’t at all be flattering, as the shoulders will look saggy, as will other parts of your body. Also, avoid trapeze shapes and too many layers, which will automatically make you look far bigger than you are. The truth is, pregnant women look far better in clothes that fit snugly. This is where all those old style maternity dresses went wrong, making women look like they had a tent wrapped around them. The secret to comfort and chicness with modern, maternity wear is the stretch. Clothes that stretch are perfect as they fit snugly but don’t make you feel too constricted. Maternity jeans are fantastic and perhaps essential for any mum-to-be. They are best if cut below the tummy so they won’t itch as you get larger unlike the waistbands that go over you bump. These days, maternity jeans come in a wide variety of cuts and colors so you can remain just as chic in them as you did before you became pregnant, while remaining comfortable as you relax on sectional sofas or armchairs.

Keep sexy -  as mentioned, baggy clothes do little for a pregnant woman’s chicness, but by accentuating your additional curves and the parts of your body that haven’t changed, such as the curve of your spine or beneath your bust, you can still look sexy and elegant. On a night out, consider a long, flowing bohemian dress cut tight beneath your bosom to highlight your best bits, which will also make you feel just as sexy as you did before becoming pregnant. Another great way to accentuate your bust is to wear a necklace, which helps draw the eye. Also, don’t hide away in dowdy colors. While black may be slimming, it’s also dull. Don’t shy away from patterns and bright colors, which can help your feel brighter too. Maternity underwear has also come along way and can make you feel quite sexy, so shop around.

Don’t overshop - while it’s tempting to get a whole new wardrobe, you have to remember pregnancy only lasts nine months. And while parts of you will go through dramatic changes, not all of your body changes so all that money will end up wasted (it’s not as if you’ll wear any of it once the baby is born). Choose half a dozen or so key items such as a stretch jersey, jeans, leggings and an evening gown cut below the bust. As many of your regular clothes may still fit, even during later stages of pregnancy, mix and match and see what works. Many tops, especially those that stretch, can still be worn during pregnancy, as can skirts. Okay, you may struggle a little during the last month or so, but for such a brief amount of time it isn’t really worth spending all that money on clothes that will possibly be never worn again.

Look after your feet - many pregnant women end up going up a shoe size, so you’ll probably need new shoes (yippee). Of course, your feet take most of the burden during pregnancy and heels or platforms that are too high will not only hurt your feet but also aggravate backache. Have two new pairs, both made of soft fabrics that will not constrict you if your feet happen to swell a little, which is common because of hormonal changes; perhaps something special and with small heels for nights out, and a pair of flat soles, such as trainers for relaxing at home.

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