Friday, 25 December 2015

I'm Growing A Beard Downstairs For Christmas

One of my concerns about living in an age where pubic hair is apparently passé is that post-mastectomy, being hair-free can look child-like. That's not an appearance I want to cultivate, so I was very amused when Kate Miller-Heidke released a single in support of Decembeard, a fund raising effort by Bowel Cancer Australia. You can watch it on YouTube, but there is also a "Donate for Download" option below, if you are partial to the comedy Christmas song or would like to support a great cause. For those who feel like that is entirely too much information, I give you pictures of my Christmas dress for 2015!
                                                     Dress: ScanlanTheodore
                                                     Bangle:Mimco (gift from a friend)
You may recall that a new dress is a childhood Christmas tradition for me, and I try to choose something dressy enough for seasonal parties. I wear mostly neutrals, but I fell in love with the colours and print of this dress. I worked for a number of years in rural Australia and this print reminds me of the beauty of the Australian bush.
It is made of silk, and is very soft and light and cool, perfect for summer parties. I also love the way it drapes: it does not cling to my chest and the gathers at the waist are just the thing for disguising the effects of holiday indulgence!
I also wanted to show you my Christmas present from my lovely husband: some beautiful, delicate leaf-shaped earrings. I think they echo the print of the dress beautifully.
I wore this dress on Christmas day and had a wonderful time with my boys, their girl-friends and members of our extended family. I now have a week to relax, read and have some down-time before work starts again. I hope you all had a very happy Christmas surrounded by people you love. xx

I'm Growing A Beard Downstairs For Christmas by Kate Miller-Heidke and The Beards

Decembeard Donate for Download

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Santa Baby

I am lucky enough to work with some truly fabulous women and feel fortunate to be able to count them as friends as well as colleagues. As the year comes to an end, we have begun to exchange gifts. I was given this top last week, and I thought I would show you because it illustrates a few really good principles to bear in mind if you want to wear a fitted top rather than something more voluminous.
Top:Seed (Christmas gift)
Belt:Veronika Maine
Bag:Oroton(Christmas gift)
Ok, so here are my thoughts about rules for wearing fitted tops. Your mileage may vary, but I have found these ideas helpful in choosing clothes.

1. Silhouette is king. I like to think about the overall shape of the entire outfit. I tried this top with a fitted skirt and found that creating a lot of shape on my lower half just emphasised the lack of shape at the top! I feel much more comfortable with the overall triangular, 1920's style of a full skirt or wide-leg pants when wearing a fitted top.

2. Texture is your friend. This is a thick, Milano knit fabric with a lot of weight and body. Whilst it is fitted, it is not clingy and it sits slightly away from my chest. One of the most valuable lessons I have learned this year has been the importance of fabric.
3. Dark is good. The light does not bounce off any unevenness over my chest or create unflattering shadows in the way that lighter colours do when I wear fitted tops. (Lycra gym wear, I'm looking at you!)
4. Detail allows you to choose where you want the focus to be. I love the asymmetrical hemline on this top, as it draws the eye down. I have reinforced the effect by adding a decorative belt. Jewellery and accessories can fill the role for plain tops, but I find that I am drawn to pieces that have some kind of built-in design interest.
5. Yeah, the side view is never gonna be great with a fitted top. You need to be at peace with that if you want to wear them. This style is definitely about looking good without breasts rather than looking like you might have breasts. I find that I reserve fitted tops for days when I am feeling particularly confident and fabulous for this very reason!

I think my friend did a great job in choosing this top for me! I really love it. Do you receive any fashion-related gifts at Christmas? How do you feel about others choosing clothes for you?

Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Living In The 70's

Hello! The weeks seem to be passing so quickly at the moment, and the weekend is over before I have had time to think about an outfit to show you! I will try and be a little more consistent now university has ended for the year and the days are getting longer.

A huge trend that has hit all the shops here this Spring has been the 70's look. I am not a big fan of boho style - it is generally too unstructured to really make my heart sing. However, this resurgence of 70's style has brought with it the return of the flare and the bootcut. I really like the freshness of the new silhouette, but I was concerned that it was not a look I would be able to wear. It seemed to me that the extra width on the bottom would require a fitted top to balance it and I usually prefer some volume over my chest, especially in the warmer months when I am not wearing a jacket or cardigan.
The solution I have found has been the tunic top.

                                                     Top/dress: Cue
                                                     Pants: Cue
I had several in my closet from last summer, and I have bought another one this season to get the "white-out" look. A few of these are dresses which are a little too short to be work-appropriate. They are now going to do double duty as  both at-home summer wear as a dress and over pants as a tunic for work.

I think the trick with this type of pairing is to choose a tunic with a triangular shape.That way, the top flares out in a way that echoes the pants. The shape also draws the eye down, and the narrow, fitted shape on the shoulder and chest becomes a part of the overall silhouette rather than the focus of the outfit. Wearing all one colour also helps create a long vertical shape that de-emphasises my chest. This is essentially a longer version of the trapeze top silhouette that I wore a lot last summer but with the fun addition of flared pants.

One of the things I love about fashion is the excitement of the new, and the clever reinterpretation of the old. How do you feel about the return of the flare?

Living in the 70's by Skyhooks

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Underneath Your Clothes

The warmer weather is here, to my infinite relief and I have been sorting through my clothes from last season. I still really like almost all of them, so one of the challenges I have set myself is to find new ways to wear them. You may remember this top from last summer - I loved the strappy style, but struggled with the fear of scar exposure. I ultimately found a work-around with fashion tape. This season I have found another solution, and one that I feel really happy with.
                                                   Tunic: Nicola Waite
                                                   Shorts: Country Road
I bought this sheer tunic as a layering piece to wear over shorts. I figured it would minimise skin exposure whilst still giving me the coolness and airflow of exposing my legs. Happily, I discovered that it also works for strappy tops. The high neck and close fit means I can be confident that I am not showing the world my chest, whilst the light style still looks summer-y and cool and feels comfortable to wear.

 Sheer and lacey garments seem to be trending at the moment - I am seeing a lot of sheer skirts with opaque linings that end above the knee, so I am happy to have found another way to make this look work for me.

Have you restyled any of your garments from last season?

Underneath Your Clothes by Shakira

Monday, 19 October 2015

Happy Birthday, Helen

How cool would it be to have a song written for you to celebrate your birthday? I always enjoy the little insight into relationships that songs written for a specific person gives. Yesterday was my 48th birthday and whilst I did not have a song written for me, my lovely boys did work together to make a delicious meal that we all shared. Eating and talking and laughing with my husband, my sons and their beautiful girlfriends is one of my greatest joys.
                                           Tunic:Nicola Waite
                                           Gilet: ScanlanTheodore
                                            Shorts: Country Road
                                            Shoes: Wittner
This was what I wore to dinner with my Uni girlfriends on Friday night. The 70's look is really big in stores at the moment and this gilet is one of many I have seen around.  I really like the way the fastening gives some emphasis at the waist but allows the gilet to open out at the top and bottom, creating an hourglass shape. I think simple, long lines like this are very flattering on a straight figure and I have tried to keep the look as cohesive as possible by wearing a long, sheer tunic underneath.

The advantage of a piece that goes over the top of other clothes is that it skims the body and gives just a hint of shape rather than clinging. It also dresses up more casual clothes: I am wearing shorts under the sheer tunic, which is not something I would not usually choose when going to a nice restaurant. I think this gilet is going to be my go-to piece for smart casual occasions over summer.

Have any of the 70's looks caught your eye recently?

Happy Birthday Helen by Things of Stone and Wood

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Day By Day

You may have noticed last week that I now have an Instagram icon on my blog. Last summer, I attempted to define both my warm weather style and the items of clothing that I wore more frequently and felt best in. The single most valuable tool in that quest was the month of daily outfit photos that I took at that time. They allowed me to see at a glance what I was ACTUALLY wearing, what felt good in and which combinations worked for me aesthetically. I decided that I would repeat this for winter and so have started taking daily outfit photos. I am posting them on Instagram in case anyone has an interest in how the individual pieces I show on this blog translate into real life.
At the beginning of winter, I had a shopping list that included some winter tops that I could wear without layers or scarves. I ended up buying three, two of which I have shown you already. This is the last. I especially like it because my husband urged me to buy it when he saw me try it on, and it remains a favourite of his. It is felted wool, so it is warm and has a soft, sculptural appearance. The pleat at the front not only gives me some texture across my chest but also give me a hint of waist definition, which I always enjoy.
I have reached a point now of feeling really happy with my winter wardrobe. I feel confident when I choose my outfit in the morning that I have items that will go together well and that I will feel good wearing. I am so happy to have reached this point and it has been fun for me to take photos every morning and see how everything works together day by day. How are you feeling about your wardrobe as you approach the end of the season? Have you had any unexpected hits of misses?

Day By Day from Godspell

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Ne Me Quitte Pas

A few weekends ago, we attended the Brisbane French Festival. I particularly wanted to go because, along with the great food stalls and the wonderful atmosphere that comes from having all the people around you conversing in French, the Festival had invited  Parisian designers Jerome L'Huillier and Mette Pedersen to create a fashion show and answer questions. The fashion was lovely - lots of bright prints, which my husband loved!- but the most interesting part for me was the Q&A afterwards.

A young designer in the audience asked Jerome for tips about building a successful business and competing with big fashion houses with their enormous marketing budgets. His reply contained two ideas that I found interesting: firstly he believed that whilst, when he started out, talent and hard work was enough to ensure success, he no longer thought that was sufficient. Secondly, unless the public are prepared to support local designers and pay a fair price for their work, the market will contract and the only two options will be either fast, cheap fashion like H&M or the very expensive, high-end design houses like Dior.
                                                       T-shirt: Sportscraft
                                                       Shoes: Wittner
The talk really made me think about the value I place on my clothes and the necessity of being willing to support things that are important to me. And I do believe that fashion is important. Over the last few weeks, I have been exploring Australian designers and last week I bought this dress from the new-to-me Melbourne designer Alpha60.
I think this may be the perfect dress for a flat chest. It has an overlay that covers the chest and long pieces that can be either tied to emphasise the waistline or allowed to fall free and create flattering vertical lines. It is a wool blend and so will give me some much needed warmth - even though I live in a warm part of the world, I feel the cold and I anticipate this will be worn until the beginning of Summer. I am quite thrilled to have found another possibility for my clothing choices and I hope that Australian designers continue to receive support in their quest to provide us with interesting and unique fashion options.
Do you have any local designers that you especially enjoy and like to support?

Ne Me Quitte Pas by Nina Simone

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Winter Winds

An unexpected (although in retrospect, logical and predictable) consequence of scheduling in social time with my friends has been that I now go out in the evening during the winter months more frequently than I have before. Usually, I spend my winter evenings ensconced on the lounge in my pyjamas, but a night out with the girls calls for more glamorous attire. I find that creating outfits with some glamour in winter is much more difficult that in summer. In warm weather I can wear bright colours and light fabrics that create a fun and carefree feel, but in winter the heavy fabrics and dark colours feel more serious and sombre.
                                                                     Knit: Veronika Maine
I bought this knit to give me a dressy option to wear in the evenings. The lacy look is delicate and pretty and allows me to show a little skin, whilst the long sleeves are surprisingly warm. It is slightly loose fitting, and whilst it does not give me any volume over my chest, I think the textural effect of the top and it's combination with a statement style of bottom, ensures that the focus of the outfit is elsewhere.
                                                           Jeans: Country Road
                                                           Boots: Wittner
                                                           Coat: Veronika Maine
I have worn my new knit twice this week. The first time was to meet some friends for a casual dinner after work and I wore a plain T-shirt underneath, both for warmth and to showcase the lace pattern of the top. I paired it with my silver jeans to add a touch of shine and provide a dressy edge to the practicality of flat boots and a simple silhouette.
Skirt:Veronika Maine

The second outfit was for a long overdue catch-up at a more formal location. This time I wore a simple camisole under the top so as to expose a hint of skin and paired it with the full skirt I wore to my niece's wedding last year. The skirt is definitely a statement piece and I like the idea of wearing a top with a fairly straight shape when it is paired with this much volume on the bottom. And of course, a pair of killer heels always helps when you are heading out for a night on the town with the girls. I took these photos before the sun went down, so I had not done my hair or make-up and I swapped out the tights for sheer pantyhose before I left, but you get the general idea!

How do you dress up in winter?

Winter Winds by Mumford and Sons

Friday, 17 July 2015


Years ago, when we were watching our young children play, another parent commented that my youngest son was very "in his body". At the time, I thought it was quite an odd comment. I couldn't really see what other option he had, but I think I now understand what she was talking about. She was referring to the joy he experienced in movement and his ownership of his physicality.

This is an experience that has come fairly late in life to me. About 6 months before my diagnosis I had begun a program with Precision Nutrition and had changed my diet, lost weight and was exercising daily. I loved the way I felt with those positive changes and have continued to use the tools I learned in the program, but I must confess to never really understanding the exhortation to "find an exercise that you enjoy". I saw exercise as a means to an end and whilst I greatly enjoyed the wellbeing and sense of achievement that it brought, I never thought of it as fun.
 Well, that has changed recently, after I enrolled in a course at Vulcana Women's Circus. I have completed a Circus Essentials course and am now doing an Aerials course and although the lessons involve working quite hard, I enjoy every minute of it and look forward to the class all week.  So I guess the message is that if you haven't found an exercise you love-KEEP LOOKING!! The two things that have given me the greatest sense of ownership and pride in my body since my surgery have been exercise and fashion. They are the things that allow me to be "in my body", to inhabit my physicality and feel good about the way I appear in the world. What are yours?

                                                       Jeans: Jag
This is what I am wearing today for a quiet day at home. I really like shawl and draped collars on jackets, as they give nice volume over my chest, but this one does remind me a bit of my dressing gown, which is a similar colour! It's one of those pieces that I appreciate for it's practicality and comfort, but feel a little ambivalent about.
I have noticed that my style has evolved quite a bit as I adjust to what works with my body now, and I am finding myself drawn to straighter, simpler silhouettes. I suspect that drapey pieces may look better on curvier figures, but in the middle of a Brisbane winter I am quite grateful for the cosy, dressing-gown-like qualities of this cardigan and will continue to wear it for the remainder of the season.
Do you have clothes that you wear because they are too easy and practical to let go of?

Everybody by Backstreet Boys

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Sign Your Name

Well, I need to start with an apology for my long absence. I struggle with winter. A lot. The cold weather and grey skies seem to sap all my enthusiasm and creativity and I spend my time dreaming of summer and wishing I could hibernate. I will attempt to fight the urge to spend the next two months wrapped in a blanket in front of the TV, because I actually feel really excited and happy about my winter clothes this year.

Do you have a colour that you wear as part of most of your outfits? Along with the idea of uniforms, I have also been fascinated by the concept of a "signature colour". Angie at YouLookFab often mentions her love of bright, sour colours. Deborah at Stylish Murmurs corners the market in black and Janice at The Vivienne Files uses the idea of a signature colour in many of her capsules. My own approach has always been a bit haphazard, but planning and building a winter wardrobe has allowed me to step back a bit and realise that I love to incorporate a bit of tan into my outfits. I like the muted richness that the shade brings to the mostly neutral outfits that I wear. I love the way it plays with navy, my new favourite dark neutral base. And I enjoy the way it allows me to repeat my hair colour in my outfit.
                                                        Pants:Country Road (with Uniqlo leggings underneath!)
I bought this top at the beginning of winter, and have only just managed to get a picture. It is definitely a straight style, which I have mostly avoided in other tops as they feel too masculine. Surprisingly, I have found that I really enjoy the slightly boyish look this top imparts when I wear it with bottoms that have more volume. Paired with slouchy pants or an A-line skirt, the straightness of the top is offset by the curviness at the bottom, so it still feels playful and feminine. Isn't it interesting how often things come back to proportions, and how we feel in our clothes?

The bag was a birthday gift from my husband about 5 years ago, and I still love it and carry it every day. It is the perfect shade of tan. I also have a belt and a scarf in the same shade. I'm not sure if I can commit to one colour as my signature, but if I decide that I will, I think tan will be it!

 Do you have a signature colour? How did you arrive at it?

Sign Your Name by Terence Trent D'Arby

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Graduation Day

Last week, Megan commented that one of her "life hacks" was to stop fighting the things she needed to do, and just get them done. This idea really resonated with me as I often procrastinate about things I know I won't enjoy, but need to do. This week I watched Redesign My Brain with Todd Sampson, a series about using brain neuro-plasticity to improve your life. (Free to watch on iview if your are interested) This episode, he demonstrated that many physical limits were really just our brains giving up, something that apparently occurs long before our bodies reach their true limit. He showed that learning to accept and tolerate pain in the service of a goal will allow us to achieve far more than we think.  So I am going to start practicing acceptance of the discomfort or boredom or pain that comes with some of my tasks and start focussing instead on the achievements that come from just getting on with it.
                                             Knit: ScanlonThodore
                                             Jeans: Esprit
                                             Boots: Wittner

These thoughts were especially at the top of my mind when we went out last night to celebrate my sister-in-law's completion of her Master's degree. We all recognise the sacrifice and effort that it took for her to get this done and also the great sense of achievement that comes from finishing it. This is a variation of what I wore for the evening. The temperature is down to under 10 degrees in the evenings now, so I dressed with warmth as my primary consideration and I actually wore the cardigan I showed you last month over the top of the knit. I have recently discovered that turtlenecks, which always looked awful on me when I had breasts, actually look quite good with a flat chest and the bonus is that it keeps my neck really cosy! This knit is fine but warm and I think the loose shape and asymmetric hemline are quite flattering as they draw the eye downward.

We had a yummy Vietnamese meal, then went to Cloudland where I had another lesson in tolerating pain. I felt simultaneously underdressed and overdressed amongst all the beautiful young things in their short, shiny, backless, low-cut cocktail dresses. Bling and skin were definitely the order of the evening. I'm not quite sure how they managed to avoid feeling uncomfortably cold, but maybe they are prepared to tolerate pain in the service of looking fabulous!
Are you willing to suffer for beauty?

Graduation Day by Chris Isaak

Sunday, 24 May 2015


Today, I want to share an idea that has had a big impact on my happiness and quality of life. I've seen this concept mentioned by others many times in the context of exercise or time management or work/life balance, and it is probably not new to you, but it's value has only become apparent to me since I started implementing it. Here it is: You need to schedule the things that are important to you into your life, just like you do with work. Exercise: put it in your diary. Time with the family: put it in your diary. Friendships: yep, write it down. I have started doing this and it has made me so happy. I now have dinner with my kids and their partners once a month. I meet my BFF every fortnight. I catch up with my Uni girlfriends monthly. All those relationships are important to me, but it was not until I started scheduling time for them that they got the space in my life that truly reflected their value.
                                                            Coat:Veronika Maine
                                                            Jeans: Jag
                                                            Boots: Wittner
This week, I went out for dinner at Bourbon Street with my Uni posse. I have always wanted to visit New Orleans so it was fun to have a little taste of it and try things like beignets, which I had only ever  read about, especially since there was also a live jazz band playing. The only thing I didn't enjoy was the temperature: it was cold and windy and I realised that I needed to move "winter coat" to the top of my shopping list.

This is what I ended up with. I had originally been keen to get a colourful coat, but the shape of this is so beautiful that I decided I would go with black and use a scarf to add colour. I have realised that scarf collars and wide lapels are the perfect shape over a flat chest. They provide volume and warmth as well as some visual interest, and they prevent the rest of the coat from looking too straight. I have seen this in moto-style leather jackets too,  and although that look is a bit too casual and hard-edge for my style, I do admire the look on others. I also like the way that the asymmetrical closure allows the coat to be zipped right up to my chin. That will come in very handy in August, when the cold winds really bite.

The other coat I contemplated was an A-line swing-style coat. That also worked well on a straight body, but in the the end the wide lapels, extra length and multiple styling options of this coat won me over. I am having a dinner date with my husband tonight, so I am looking forward to being toasty warm as I enjoy spending time with him.
Do you have any life hacks that have made you much happier?

Happy by Pharrell Williams

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Mother and Child Reunion

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers who read this! My mother lives interstate, so we were not able to spend the day together. However, I did get to spend time with my own children. My sons are a source of great joy and pride for me and I always enjoy the time we have together immensely. They have both grown into such interesting, thoughtful and funny men, and I am so pleased to see them happy, settled in relationships with beautiful young women and making their own way in their lives. We have a meal together every month. The boys bring their girlfriends and my husband and I get to catch up on all the news and plans and happenings. This weekend we went to Moga, a Japanese restaurant and had a wonderful meal and a fun time catching up.
                                                             T-shirt:Veronika Maine
                                                             Jeans:Country Road
                                                             Boots: Wittner
This is what I wore to our lunch. None of these items are new, but I have not worn them together before. The jeans and long-sleeved T are both items I had in my closet before my surgery and you have seen the crop before in my summer outfits from this year. I find myself almost always wearing neutrals these days, so wearing a combination of three different colours was quite a departure but one that I felt good in!

As you can see, this is really a variation of the uniform I posted last week, but with a crop in place of a blazer. I love the bright pop of colour the crop provides: I struggle with the cold and dark of winter and wearing a warm and happy colour helps me feel a bit better about the season. I'm hoping that a bit of bright colour and some lipstick will be enough to carry me through the dark months. That, and my lovely boys!
How did you celebrate Mother's Day?

Mother and Child Reunion by Paul Simon