Sunday, January 17, 2016

Fashion Splash - Looks for Travel and Business Casual

Over the years I've had a lot of people compliment me on my fashion sense which is always super flattering to hear. And it's something I come by naturally because style seems to be embedded in our family DNA. From my earliest memory, I can remember my grandmother making comments like "You can't go uptown dressed like that," and I realize now what a gift that was, as it's given me an inner knowing of what to wear - and where to wear it.

This knowing came from both sides of the family. My grandfather, Harry Moody, was a man who knew what looked good on women and made his opinions very clear:

1. Be very careful about patterns (I will be talking about this in future blogs)
2. Always wear good shoes.
3. Always wear clothes that fit.

Interestingly, I've gone to a few psychics over the years for fun, and twice now my grandfather has shown up and given me fashion advice from beyond. No lie. One time he wanted me to know my hair was too short, and the next, he had a comment about the shoes I was wearing. He wanted me to know I had made a good choice. The cool thing is just that morning I had debated between two pairs in front of my mirror.

So I know I'll have my grandfather's blessing as I embark on the odd blog about fashion - with today's topic being business casual and travel.  This because I'm getting ready to go on another work related trip and in my line of work as a trainer/facilitator/educator, the dress code is almost always business casual.

But what do I mean by business casual? My work takes me into a lot of schools and/or small communities where a business suit or dressier outfit is just not quite the right fit. Business casual is a professional look that's little more relaxed - but although it's casual, that doesn't mean anything goes.

So how to know what goes and what doesn't? Well, first of all, I think Pinterest is a great place to go for inspiration. I love to put "Women's fashions" into the search box and then scroll through. I have a board devoted specifically to fashion styles and ideas (just click the link to visit and follow) and whenever I see a look or an idea I like, I save it there for future reference.

And then a great practice to get into is to put together outfits based on what you'll be doing either at the start of a week, or before a trip. I do this every Sunday. I sit down and think about what I'm going to be doing in the week ahead and then I put together an outfit for each day, including shoes, accessories, and jewelry. They hang in chronological order in my closet and make for less stressful mornings. As a bonus, they also give me a boost of inner confidence that comes with knowing I've put something I feel fabulous in for that day.

So I thought I'd share some of the looks I've put together for this week's trip, along with some of my thoughts on how I put together business casual and travel outfits.

Look #1 - Travel

The thing about travel is you want to be well put together but you also want to be comfortable, and in my case, because I'm traveling to a small town, jeans and boots are completely acceptable.

I wanted something warm and cozy, because we'll be on a ferry for part of the trip and those boats get chilly, but also something flattering - so I put my look together inspired by outfits I've loved by Ralph Lauren.

When putting together your casual closet, there a few must haves (in my humble opinion) and one of those is a denim shirt because it will take you anywhere and never goes out of style. The same applies for white button down shirts, and well made tees with both long and short sleeves. Save your yoga pants and track jackets for the gym and invest in some comfortable jeans with a little stretch, a denim shirt, button down or a tee, and then pair it up with a great jacket, or sweater. A scarf, cute flats, or boots and you'll be good to go.

For my trip, I've chosen this soft, comfy fringed cardigan with skinny jeans and boots. Not only will the outfit be perfect for a long day of travel, I feel good in it - and as Billy Crystal so famously said "When you look mahvelous, you feel mahvelous."

The fringe cardie is longer in the back than the front and creates a lengthening silhouette. And the fringe itself, adds a Ralph Lauren Country look without the Ralph Lauren Country price.

Finishing the whole thing off is minimal jewelry that makes a statement: A fabulous, clunky men's style watch, and a simple silver ring (that I see needs polishing). 

Look #2 - Business Casual

The next two looks I've put together are for the days I'll spend facilitating my workshop - and there are always things to keep in mind, like temperature. I tend to dress in layers, that way I stay warm if the room is on the cooler side, but can remove a jacket or sweater if it gets too warm. 

But first, some ideas from me about business casual (and please keep in mind, these are the fashion rules I live by - if they aren't yours, that's okay too. Fashion is always individual).

Dresses and Skirts
  1. Skirts and dresses are okay as long as the hem falls just above the knees and no higher. You want the hemline to flatter, not detract from your professional look. If you're opting to wear a skirt or dress, a pair of black tights with a black skirt and boots is a great look that's flattering on just about everyone. 
  2. Avoid low-cut dresses or those with high slits.
  3. Avoid dresses (especially) and skirts that are too tight. Always wear clothes that fit because clothes that fit flatter. 
  1. Go for pants that fit and feel comfortable. I can't think of anything worse than having to go through a day in tight pants, so do yourself a favour and donate anything you own that doesn't fit. If you achieve that magical goal weight you're keeping the jeans for, you'll want to get a brand new pair to celebrate anyway. In fashion and in life, let go of the past. Be fabulous just as you are today. 
  2. If jeans are okay for your business casual look (they are for me when I'm working in schools) make sure to wear dressy jeans in a darker hue that aren't faded. Keep those for traveling, clubbing, and the weekend,
  3. Neutral colors are best.
  4. Tights are not pants. Save them for yoga class.
Blouses and Tops
  1. Blouses, plain shirts, cotton shirts, sweaters, turtlenecks, vests, and sleeveless shirts are all good choices, just be careful that what you wear isn't too revealing.
  2. Blouses and shirts can be tucked-in or untucked depending on the shirt.
  3. Unusual patterns are okay, as long as they're not wild. In most cases, though, I subscribe to my grandfather's aversion. This is because your clothes should enhance beautiful you, and patterns tend to take the focus away from the person. 

In my line of work, I'm on my feet constantly and so it becomes incumbent to wear good shoes. In fact, I would go so far as to say, the most important investment you can make in your wardrobe is shoes that fit right (and bras that do the same). When choosing shoes:
  1. Try footwear such as leather shoes, flat trouser shoes, wedge heels, high heels (that you can walk in). Avoid flip flops, sandals and sneakers.
  2. Always opt for neutral colours (black, brown, grey, tan, khaki, wine, navy) and pay attention to the condition your shoes are in. 
So with all those good pointers in mind, here are my two business casual looks for this trip:

I am absolutely crazy about this burgundy "Grandpa" cardie. It's warm and cozy and looks great with these plaid slacks. You can't see it in the picture, but there's a very faint burgundy line that runs through the plaid on the pants. Not too much to be distracting but just right. Team the look up with a neutral tee and a fun scarf to finish.

The shoes are Italian leather in a boot style with a slight heel to add height. I've paired the outfit with a comfortable cotton long sleeved shirt that says "Pop the champagne" to add a little fun, and then finished it with my favourite silver watch, a thick silver ring, and diamond stud earrings.

The second look is also warm, and comfortable. A soft black and grey flecked cardie, teams with an aubergine blouse, black slacks, black wedges, my signature man style watch with a Pandora done in all hues of pink and purple, and a ring with a deep purple stone.

And when you come in from the cold, remove the scarf and you'll be all set to take on the world!

So that's it. Some ideas from me on how to put together fabulous business casual looks of which I'm more than certain my grandfather would approve. Which brings me to today's reminder...

"Don't be into trends. Don't make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live." —Gianni Versace

Thursday, January 14, 2016


Today was a good day. Interestingly enough, though, it didn't start that way. Nope. Quite the opposite because my day began with one of those bad dreams we have just before waking. In my dream my son Matthew was a little boy and for some reason, Vaughan and I had sent him to live with another family because we were both too busy to look after him. In the dream, he had come home for a visit and I discovered that he'd started calling the woman looking after him Mom.

I woke up crying.

I have no idea what the dream meant, other than to say that I must have regrets about time I didn't spend with him growing up; and so it was with that feeling that I woke up. And it wasn't a pleasant awakening either. It was one of those mornings I hit snooze on my phone about 10 times and when I finally rolled out of bed and into the shower, I opted for the highest octane coffee I had.

And then it continued. I got to work and realized I'd left my glasses at home. Along with my make up bag, chap stick, and Ibuprofen (for the head ache that was beginning to take shape as I entered the office). But despite all that, I had a presentation to do at a local elementary school at 10:30 and knew I had to put my best game face on because presentations are always better when the people doing them are in a good mood.

So that's what I did. And it's an interesting thing that happens when we decide, that despite all stormy weather, we're going to have a good day anyway and approach everything that comes our way with a smile and a positive spirit. When we do this a surprising thing happens: suddenly a bad day has the potential of becoming the best day.

At least, that's how it was for me.

The presentation went amazing and the children clung to our words and the message we were there to share which is: YOU ARE IMPORTANT.

Afterward, several kids approached me to talk and as I sat with each of them, listening and being there as they shared the worries on their minds and their hearts, I was gifted with the realization that maybe I wasn't such a bad mother after all. Although I got a lot of things wrong, I was always there, I always listened, and I think I conveyed the message that YOU ARE IMPORTANT, and I LOVE YOU beyond all measure in everything I did.

At least I hope so.

That's the kicker with regrets. As we grow older we grow wiser and from the vantage point of age and experience there are so many things we'd do differently but we can't. So I guess our best choice is to accept everything and to remember that even our mistakes are gifts for other people because nobody learns with an absence of struggle and perhaps in the universal scheme of things, the greatest gifts we give our children are the things they need to find the strength to overcome.

Today's reminder:

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


As an only child, it's my nature to do things by myself and to trust the things I create. I never had the advantage of brothers and sisters, and the knowing that comes with siblings. So I never really understood that the sum of all parts could be greater than what I could ever do on my own.

You see, I'm one of those people who "gets things done" - and I find that when I include others in what I'm about, it gets too messy - especially when the thoughts and opinions of others differ from my own.

But I realize now that there is no one vision; and that, my friends, has changed everything. 

I am a person who tends to live in absolutes. If we're working with my vision then that vision is the right one - so that if we begin to work with yours and it's different than mine, I will automatically switch tracks and focus on yours. But I realize this evening that the most incredible projects are born when several voices are given opportunity to share their opinions so that all ideas can be discussed, broken apart, and turned into something new.

Today's reminder: 


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Playing in the Mud - Today's Reminder

I'm back to the reality of a full time job that's far more to me than just a place to work and so I invest much more of myself into it than I ever intend to; not to mention my weekly Kitchen Witch cooking video/recipe/blog, and life in general. I share this because this evening I realized I'm already one blog behind on the commitment I made to myself at the start of the year to write something of significance *to me* every day - as a reminder of the path I'm on and the things I'm working toward.

This morning over coffee and candle light, I performed my morning ritual of prayer, grounding, and a card reading from my Osho Zen deck, and I was reminded (for the third day in a row no less) that I stretch myself too thin and that I need to be taking more time to do nothing. To say nothing, to write nothing, to think nothing, and to do nothing, and, instead, just Be.

I never fully understood how difficult this is for me; to just be still and not be doing. But I also rely on and believe in the wisdom of spirit when it speaks to me, and I'm hearing, loud and clear, that my soul needs some time in nature. Tree wisdom, rain on my face. Time by the ocean to sit with the waves, and time in pajamas with a good book.

The other thing my soul needs, I believe, is time with my mother. We children can be tough task masters when it comes to our parents - especially when they don't live up to or meet the incredibly strident expectations we've set up for them in this life. But our parents are merely human themselves. Though at one time, they were everything in the world to us, our champions, the people with all the answers, it becomes incumbent on us as adults (or at least on me) to let go of the adolescent disappointment; that mocking stab in the heart we felt the day we realized the illusion of our parents was false.

The day we looked toward the supposed perfection of other families and saw within their bounty, everything ours lacked.

I completely realize I'm talking to myself right now - and that's okay. The whole purpose of this blog is to figure things out for myself - and what I'm figuring out is that I need to let go of the bone. I need to forgive my mother, and appreciate my mother, and love my mother for exactly who she is.

And then I need to spend more time with her.

Our relationship will never be perfect. She will still trigger me. And I her. But when I can get about the business of understanding that every feeling. Every. Single. Feeling. is a treasure and this entire soup we're in called life is a one shot deal in this incarnation (I only ever get one chance at being Lyndsay to my mom's Glenda), maybe I can get my head out of my own ass and stop wasting time.

And that's today's reminder:

Sunday, January 10, 2016


Tonight, on the 10th day of July, 2016...

I have no words to say other than that I know how blessed I am.

To friendship. And may each person who reads this find one that is real. 


Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Whole Enchildada

Today I created a new recipe; lentil soup with sweet Italian sausage and apple, and as the flavours melded - fresh thyme, sweet onions, the crunch of celery, carrots, and new potatoes - I was struck by the magic that happens when the right ingredients come together. In soup or in life, this is an important reality.

So many of us complicate our lives by mixing the wrong ingredients. The person we know isn't right for us, the job that doesn't spark our passion, or the relationship that lasts long past its natural expiry date. We stir, and we hope, and we add salt trying to convince ourselves that the lack of flavour is a product of our imaginations.

Macaroni and cheese. Shake and bake chicken. Fish sticks and Wonder Bread - on this, the 9th day of January, 2016, my reminder is to continue searching for flavour and to give yourself permission to leave any buffet that doesn't dazzle your soul or your taste buds.

Friday, January 8, 2016

When Did We Stop being Happy for Each Other?

It's Friday night and I'm enjoying a lazy evening in pajamas watching TV. Normally I would watch a movie, but this evening a guilty pleasure is on that I couldn't resist: Master Chef Junior, and I love this show for two reasons: 1. because the level these kids are cooking at blows me away - not to mention the pressure of being part of a major cooking competition like this, and 2. because when the kids get up before the judges with their food, they seem genuinely happy for each other when they do well.

Tonight's reminder is going to be short and sweet because I'm tired and want to keep mindlessly watching the show but I believe we could learn a lot from children - not the least of which, being happy for the successes of other people instead of being threatened by them.

And that's pretty much it...