Friday, 22 August 2014

Mirror Mirror

As I face the task of packing tonight for two weeks in Sicily I thought I'd do a roundup of my Spanish holiday wardrobe.  Here's where the outfit of the day selfie can actually come in handy for some outfit planning and packing for the next holiday!

The flat we usually rent in Spain is in a large traditional casa de vecinos and in the passageway leading to the flat hangs a beautiful, large, gilt framed, full length antique mirror.  I used it whilst we were there to take a selfie a day to record what I was wearing, the main aim being to avoid outfit repeating.  It was also to have a record for the next holiday of what worked, what didn't and what got worn so I can take some different things and outfit ideas for the next holiday.

I posted on rediscovering the versatility of this floral striped skirt here - it worked well with both white tops I packed and both a high wedge white espadrille and a flat dusky rose lace espadrille.

Although I do love these silky Hermione de Paula printed pyjama pants for the elaborate print of fishes and coral and for the fact that they are super duper comfortable, they do make my hips look unduly large.  I tried them with flats for the beach but even switching up to wedge heels for an  evening at the feria with a cropped jacket and some bold jewellery didn't seem to get the relaxed flowing boho look I was hoping for with these trousers. I'm wondering what I could do to style them better.  Suggestions welcome!

This silk floral printed trouser suit also by Hermione de Paula is a definite holiday success and always get thrown into the suitcase en route to a hot destination. I've worn it before on holiday and I'll certainly be wearing it again.  If anything is likely to come with me on the next holiday and be exempt from the no outfit repeating rule it is this outfit.

These were the other three feria oufits worn here, here and here and I was generally happy with each.  Who would have thought a white corset top would turn out to be such a versatile piece? But it made it into three separate outfits and is probably going to end up going back in the bag the next time I go on holiday.

Whilst in Spain I also got a couple of new flamenco costumes made. This is a picture of the fitting with the tailor who has had made most of my costumes. The fabric is a sheer devoré fabric in a deep brown velvet with highlights of rose, pink and olive, and is overlaid over a nude lining.  The finished costume is still waiting for me to collect over in Spain as it wasn't ready before I left.

And this is the pièce de résistance! A new bata de cola with black openwork lace overlaid over a coffee coloured lining.  Both fabrics for the costumes were picked out by the tailor with whom I went fabric shopping in the local stores.  At first I just wanted a plain black bata but the tailor convinced me to go with this combination instead and I have to say I'm very pleased with the end result.  Can't wait to do a show with this beauty!

So what to pack for Sicily? Home of Dolce & Gabbana and their Sicilian widow aesthetic.  It's so tempting just to throw lots of black lace and pencil skirts in the suitcase and revel in dressing the part, except that it is going to be quite hot weather while we're there.  Ah decisions, decisions!  At any rate will be sharing snaps of our trip on our return and catching up with you all then.

Monday, 18 August 2014

The Last Night of Feria


I know I keep going on about my last holiday but it's the only time I get to wear anything interesting and zany - like these silk print palazzo trousers I wore on the last night of feria.  They're not the most flattering choice as the ultra loose fit tends to make my hips look big.  But they are cool and comfortable on a hot summer's night in Spain, as well as forgiving on the waistline after a week of eating fried fish and drinking sherry!  And nobody's summer wardrobe is complete without a pair of zany trousers.  I also love that they have coral, seaweed and tropical fish in the colourful print.

I spend my working weeks having to look elegant and serious all the time, and I don't often feel inspired to post my work outfits as I find it boring to do so.  On holiday I like to relax and have fun in boho gear which tends to be more me regardless if boho happens to be in or out.  Anyone else suffer from this work/leisure split in fashion personality?  Anyhow been posting so long about Spain that I am now already on the eve of my next holiday.  Planning what to pack this week for two weeks in Sicily! Can't wait!
Silk printed trousers: Hermione de Paula; Broderie anglaise top: old Warehouse; Broderie anglaise Jacket: old Kate Moss for Topshop; Bag: gift from Mum; Espadrilles: bought in Spain; Necklace and earrings: Bijoux Brigette

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Flamingo Pink Ballet Dress


When I was younger I did a lot of ballet.  I once got a pair of hand made and personally fitted pointe shoes from an old Russian pointe shoe maker who had ended up, of all places, in Perth Western Australia.  The idea being that shoes made to fit your own foot measurements would make the agony of pointe work less painful than off the shelf pointe shoes. I was a bit of a late comer to pointe work as a dancer and an old sprain injury in my right ankle made pointe work doubly difficult for me to master.  So I thought an investment in personally fitted shoes would help.

I must have looked a bit crestfallen after my fitting with him, perhaps having brought all my struggles of getting en pointe to weigh down on me as I watched each foot being traced around with a pencil on pieces of paper.  When I came to leave the shop he tilted my chin up and pressed my shoulders back gently and said with a kind smile "Once a dancer, always a dancer!".

It's a phrase I never since forgotten, especially when I find myself lacking in confidence and my chest caves in and my shoulders start to droop.  I find myself tilting my chin up and pressing my shoulders back with his heavily accented English goading me along in the back of my mind. It's not just in those nerve wrecking moments before a performance when I start to doubt myself but even after shows or classes where I feel I haven't performed as well as I could have. It helps to just pull yourself up to move on and face the next challenge.  It even helps me to think of it when I am at my day job and not feeling confident.  What the performing arts teaches you which can be applied in other areas of your life is that sometimes it helps to fake confidence.

Although I gave up ballet years ago for flamenco it played a big part in my life and I still love the aesthetic.  This pink full skirted dress is a ballet dancer's dream and I bought it to wear on my birthday earlier this year and wore it again recently to a restaurant with friends.  You can take the girl from ballet...

It was called the flamingo feather print dress - don't you love that name?  I love the reference to flamingo feathers too.  Funnily enough often when I tell people I do flamenco dance they pipe up with "oh I love flamingo dancing!" Why? Why?

Actually the combination of flamenco, flamingos and feathers reminds me of one time I was coming back to visit the UK whilst living out in Spain studying flamenco.  I was asked by the big burly and very jovial London gentleman at border control at the airport, in his thick cockney accent as to what my business was visiting the UK and what was I currently doing out in Spain.

When I replied I was studying flamenco in Spain he blurted "oh I love all that flamingo dancing!"  I gently tried to correct his pronunciation and point out that the flamingo was a species of bird.  "Is that so? Well whatever darling, I love all them feathers you use, just beautiful!"

I gave up at that point and just smiled, nodded and went on my way, completely bewildered as to what kind of vision of flamenco he had in his head!

Linking up to Patti's Visible Monday over at Not Yet Dead Style and Share in Style at Mis Papelicos!

Flamingo Feather Pink Dress: Whistles Limited Edition; Shoes: Miu Miu; Knit Ballet Wrap: old Max Mara; Gold brooch on wrap; Vintage via Ebay

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Cadiz Seafront

One of my favourite places to visit when I'm in the South of Spain is Cadiz. My parents were staying for a few days in the City in a beautiful old converted convent, so Mr V and I went down a couple of times to meet up with them in the evenings. We took the opportunity to spend the afternoon sunbathing on the city beach before heading into the city centre to meet my parents by the seafront.

The seafront along Cadiz is postcard picture pretty with old wrought iron lamps and palm trees flanking the city walls and sparkling blue waters beyond.  On a clear day you can see right the way across to the neighbouring port town, Puerto de Santa Maria.  In fact a nice thing to do as a tourist is catch the local ferry that goes between Puerto de Santa Maria and Cadiz as you get a wonderful view of Cadiz city and its golden domed cathedral from the sea.

Along this stretch are lovely mosaic tiled pathways and bordering gardens housing pools and fountains.  In the summer families escape the heat of their flats by coming down here and relaxing by the sea, sometimes staying until the early hours of the morning even with the kids running around!

Many years ago Mr V and I were stuck in Cadiz overnight with no accommodation after staying late at an open air flamenco festival near here and missing the late train.  We came to these gardens wondering what to do with ourselves but were pleasantly surprised that we had the company of not just a few, but many local families.  In fact the area was buzzing with activity until dawn when we were able to get our first train back to Jerez.

Here are Mum and I taking respite from the hot sun on one of the beautiful old tiled stone benches in the gardens.

At the end of the seafront walk is a large topiary where tall coniferous trees are manicured into unusual shapes and it is another large city garden where people come to relax and while away the time.

I do love the crazy things they do with the trees.  Just beyond the topiary and bordering the sea is an old open air amphitheatre where we used to come and see flamenco concerts that would start at ten and run into the early hours of the morning.  Some years ago when we visited we were dismayed to see it had been closed and was in a state of decay and disrepair, the lines of plastic seats all faded and cracked from the sun, the stage in pieces and the aisles overrun with weeds.  This year we saw that efforts were being made to repair it so hopefully it will be restored and reused again soon.

Here is Mr V sporting his neon yellow holiday shorts which he bought in Spain last year. Andalusian men don't shy away from wearing bright colours and as Mr V likes a bit of zing in his wardrobe he often heads to a local Pull and Bear when we're in Spain to get some bright clothes. Last year there was good selection of coloured denim shorts and their denim jeans selection works well for his body shape.

Have a great week all!

Navy lace shorts: Whistles; White tee shirts: Cos; Cardigan: Aikabara; Diamante flip flops: Betts and Betts
Mr V: yellow shorts: Pull and Bear; Cancer crab tee-shirt: Supermaggie

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Ladies Day at Feria: Part 2

One of the nicest things about the feria is that everyone of all ages is welcome to come join in the fun from children to the elderly.  Even on Ladies Day the fun of dressing up is not restricted to just the young women.  The older women all get dressed up too and there is none of the hangups you get about whether someone of a certain age should be wearing this, that or the other.  They're all enjoying themselves alongside the young ones embracing the same frivolous frills, flounces and flowers as their younger counterparts without a care in the world and I for one think they look fabulous.

None of this hiding away home and not going out dancing because it would be unseemly and undignified at your age. They're all out dressed to the nines and hitting the dance floor at all hours of the feria!

This jaunty, shorter style of feria dress was probably first made popular in the fifties and is as a popular choice with older women as the younger girls. Very elderly women often add a pair of cheeky knickbockers underneath as the lady in the following photo demonstrates.

This lady in a shorter yellow and purple number was quite a character and put on quite a show for a circle of enthused onlookers.  Traditionally in Jerez during festivities a group will form a ring and clap a flamenco rythym, one person will sing while another enters and does a little solo dance called bulerias in the centre of the ring with shouts of encouragement from everybody.

You couldn't stop this woman dancing one cheeky and entertaining bulerias after another and at one point she did a dance move where she dropped to her knees!  She's photographed here waiting to go in the ring yet again while the young girls give her palmas (clap the rythym for her) and the lady in black and white sings for her.  You'll see the frills of her knickbockers peeking through under her yellow skirt and it's quite common for older ladies to purposely flash them at the audience when they're dancing as a kind of crude joke.

I also love to see some of the alternative feria outfits worn instead of the traje de gitana. I thought this woman's heavily embroidered shift dress was wonderful because although the shape of the dress was thoroughly modern, the pattern of embroidered flowers was reminiscent of the traditional embroidered shawls worn at weddings and used by flamenco dancers.

I spotted this lady dancing in one of the casetas. I thought she looked so elegant that even though my photos of her are not great it is still worth showing what she wore because she stood out in the crowd in this shift dress of coral guipure lace.

And would you check out those super elegant D'Orsay heels in a matching colour!  I would have guessed this lady was around her mid sixties and she was tearing up the floorboards dancing in these with as much enthusiasm as much younger women around her.  And I bet her legs are in that fantastic condition because she didn't let anyone dictate to her that she should stop dancing in high heels as she got older!

I hope I have even half as much lust for life as any of these ladies when I get to their age.  We all tend to get so many messages about what we should and shouldn't be wearing or doing as we get older that it tends to get depressing when you consider what the years ahead hold.  So I love seeing how women that come from other cultures which are a lot less self conscious than ours often don't give two hoots for such rules.  We could learn a lot from them, not just with their take on what they wear but for their joie de vivre.  So it's decided then - when I grow up I want to be Andalusian!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Ladies Day At Feria: Part 1

I've been promising to post some photos of La Dia de Las Mujeres, or Ladies Day at Feria in Jerez.  When I went through my photos again I was reminded what a photographer's dream the occasion is.  There are just too many wonderful images to share in just one post so warning, this is a picture heavy post and this is only part one!

I was struck when trying to make a selection just how other worldly some of the images are and how you can really feel like you've stepped back in time to when it was all happening in a previous century.

The dress of choice on Ladies Day is a traditional flamenco style dress with frills called the traje de gitana, usually accessorised with large long colourful earrings, large bright flowers (usually roses) pinned into an elaborate hairdo and the highest pair of espadrilles one can manage.  There are some daredevils who wear high heels (see my previous post on the topic of footwear at feria here).  However despite the continuing tradition, fashion and changing tastes do influence the interpretation of the traje de gitana.

In previous decades the style was a much fuller skirt with starched stiff frills that started closer to the waist, much like the souvenir dolls still sold in tacky tourist shops.  They were much more of a puffed up fussy affair which made the wearer look like a walking meringue.  In the last ten years or so a sleeker and more elegant silhouette has emerged cut very close to the body and the frills don't start until below the thighs.  More reminiscent of an Edwardian style of dress, I think it is far more flattering to most women than the old style.

This year the fashion trend at feria was the addition of a small fringed shoulder shawl draped around the neckline of the dress and draping seductively down the back to show some bare skin.  Sometimes it was a shawl proper, in either a matching or contrasting fabric to the main dress, or sometimes just a length of braided fringing.  As many girls get their dresses tailor made to fit the fashion can also change in terms of the types of fabrics, colours and prints used.  Although traditional polka dots and bright colours are very popular there is a huge range of dresses on display in a rainbow of hues every year.  This year cotton eyelet or broderie anglaise seemed to be a popular choice of fabric.

Pretty florals and jaunty polka dots are still a popular choice for many as is a true fiery Andalusian red.

And no expense is spared when kitting out the kids in feria gear.  Isn't this little girl adorable?

I clearly wasn't the only one who thought so!

Having a ride around the fairground on horseback or in a traditional horse and carriage is a popular thing to do during the day.  It's not cheap but it's quite a romantic thing to do and it's a form of promenading around the fairground to be seen.  And when you look this gorgeous all dressed up why wouldn't you want to be seen?

Another popular trend I noticed this year that added a more modern touch to the traje de gitana was a heavily embellished band around the legs just where the body of the dress meets the frills, like the black dress on the blonde lady below.

And here you can see the dresses in action. These are what these dresses are made for - dancing!

The feria has traditionally been a horse trading fair so even the horses get dressed up for the day with elaborate decorations on their reins and their manes groomed immaculately. The riders and coach drivers get dressed up in traditional gear complete with three piece riding suits, traditional hats and knee high riding boots despite the temperatures sometimes exceeding the high thirties. Now that is commitment!

I particularly liked this image of a horse rider in traditional gear on her mobile phone!

And in case you missed it this is what I wore on Ladies Day posted here.  I'll be back with Part Two soon, which will be more of a focus on what older ladies wear on Ladies Day.


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