Autumnal Evocations

The turn of the Season is coming, and the Autumn/Winter stock for 2014 is starting to appear on the racks.  This brings a special kind of excitement for me.  I love winter.  I love the clothes, the fashion, the coolness of the air and trips to even chillier Melbourne to visit family.  Where I live, in the Gold Coast Hinterland in South East Queensland, we don’t really have a ‘winter’ as such.  It is more 3 months of mild weather where the sun shines, the temperature stabilises at a pleasant 21-24 celsius during the day, and plummets to a mild 10-15c at night time.  On really cold nights, it may even get down to 8 or 9c.  We still manage to light our beautiful wood fire, which is a feature in our living area during those months, as although we have a mild winter, we still feel the chill, particularly in the woodland valley we live in.

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Brandy the Boxer enjoying the first fire of Winter 2012

Here is a picture of the first lighting of the fire in June 2012 when our beloved Boxer Dog, Brandy, was still with us.  He loved winter as much as I did.  His favourite spot was always right by the fire, bless him.  (After being a faithful and true companion to our family for over 12 years, Brandy went to explore more heavenly pastures in February 2012.  He was a Prince among Dogs and is still missed)

I digress.

This post is about the styles that are coming into store.  A couple of my picks include a staple denim jacket by Sussan.  I bought the same version of this jacket in white last September and have had so much use out of it, I wondered why I’d never bought the denim one, so it is currently on lay-by, waiting for the temps to drop a little before I get it.  Word is that ‘denim is hot’ for AW in Aus 2014….

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Denim jacket from sussan.com.au

The other staple for the wardrobe is the classic chino pant.  I have always preferred chinos to jeans, for the simple reason that they are my preference for comfort.  I have a girlfriend who has a different shaped body, with gorgeous long legs, and her staple is blue denim with her signature man-style shirt, and it looks awesome.  But for me, I think I overdid the (acid-wash) denim in the ’80s and now prefer the ‘middle path’.  These are delightful, again by Sussan.  They are a more casual fabric than some of the others on offer, and they have a very narrow ankle, which suits my shape.  They are stretchy and look terrific paired with the denim jacket.

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Chino pant from sussan.com.au

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Striped T with bling

Being a perpetual sucker for  the classic striped breton T-shirt, I also signed up for this gorgeous little number, which comes complete with it’s own bling.

If I lived in colder climes, this adorable winter parka by Country Road would be my go-to jacket of choice.  Love the navy colour and the faux fur around the hood.

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Faux Fur Trim Parka Navy from country road.com.au

And finally, I love this look which is in the new Country Road Catalogue for AWW14.  Just my style:  a cheeky stripe breton, a moto or denim jacket, a pair of slim pants/chinos and chunky soled shoe.  I’m a sucker for anything ‘mannish’ in women’s fashion. (Again with the stripes…)

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Just My Style!

Have you started planning your Autumn/Winter wardrobe yet?  Which pieces are you coveting?

Carpe Diem

Tracey

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A Lucky Find

It’s been a few weeks since I shared anything with you all.  This is mainly because I was such a busy little elf (working) over Christmas, that it has taken me a little while to recover my energies and passion for writing.

My son graduated high school last November, and he has been enjoying a new found freedom.  The week after graduation, he also obtained his drivers license and a car.  For him, the summer has been one long holiday of spending time with (ex) school-chums at the beach and the hinterland swimming creeks, bowling alleys, camping and  music festivals.  He has worn through more than one pair of shorts, ripped the bum out of his (expensive) board shorts and lost a pair of jeans.  This left his diminishing  wardrobe quite wanting, with regular cries of ‘I haven’t got anything to wear’ and ‘have you done the washing today?’.  The problems were as follows: 1.  He won’t go out and buy clothes.  He is too busy out socialising and has developed a pathological hatred of shopping.  2. At the rate he was a ruining them and wearing them out/losing them, I was reluctant to spend up to $70 per pair of shorts.  What to do?

602361_108426922656770_1617505073_nI visited my local Red Cross Op Shop.  They have just opened a new store in our village. ( And it doesn’t have that ‘op-shop smell’ that I find quite off-putting.)

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Try and wear the backside out of these, Dear

Rummaging through the men’s shorts, I gathered up anything in a 32-34 inch waist that they had.  I even grabbed a couple of the lairiest, brightest Hawaiian-style shirts, as these seem to be der rigeur for his group of friends at the moment.  I built a veritable pile of clothes on the counter.  I had the volunteer ladies frothing at the mouth as they tried to keep up with folding and sorting the vast collection  amassing in front of them.  Ralph Lauren, Gant, Super Dry, J Crew, Asos and RM Williams.  All brand-name stuff.  I was deep into ‘The Zone”.

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The ugly shirt. Nothing further needs to be said. He loved it.

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A real find: Current Retail $129.95 – Op-shop bargain $15.00

I wasn’t finished yet.  With my keen eagle eyes, I spotted a little pair of sandals on the shoe table.  Size 38.  Could it be true? I quickly slipped my sandals off to try these, with an expectation they had been surrendered due to a fault which would become apparent upon trying them on.  No fault was visible and they fitted perfectly.  They even had the box.  How much were they?  $15.  What was the retail price?  $129.95.  I had seen these sandals  in store.  In fact, I had looked at them with a client, but we decided against them, as the footbed had no support and we deemed them uncomfortable and not practical. But for a fraction of the price, I felt these anomalies could easily be overlooked.

Back to the counter where the action had calmed and the tallying began.  It turned out that ‘menswear’ was actually HALF PRICE that day.  The collection for Master L came to a grand total of $31.50.  My sandals cost $15.00.  I have worn those sandals everywhere since, they are totally adorable and add a touch of bling to a summer dress.  They aren’t even too uncomfortable either.  I’d like to sing out a big thank you to whoever the lovely lady was that donated these beauties, who had the thought that someone else might find them and appreciate them.  I did, and I do.

And how did the findings go down with Master L?  He loved everything and for the most part, it all fitted.  He now has four pairs of board shorts, 5 pairs of chino shorts, 2 Hawaiian shirts and I even got a pair of shorts and shirt for his best-friend.  No more screams about nothing to wear, and he can go all week without needing to launder.

Do you ever ‘op-shop’?  It is a revelation to me now!  And I have already donated a few bags of things from around the home that no-one uses/fits into or wants anymore, to pay back what I took.  And the lovely ladies at the Red Cross know me by name.

Carpe Diem

Tracey

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Why I Hate New Year’s Resolutions or The Long Walk From “What will people think” to “I am Enough”

I hate New Year’s Resolutions.

As the Shop assistant finished my sale and bid me fair well, she wished me a Happy New Year.  Then she said “one more day to be bad before we begin our resolve to be good for 2014”.  What a load of poppycock.  What could she be doing in her life that is so bad that she has to stop it on January 1 2014?

We all have things in our lives that we do that we know aren’t good for us or that we could do better.  But let me tell you that there is not one shred of empirical evidence out there in psychology-land that proves that feeling ‘bad’ about something ever made a difference to long term change.  Why?  Because feeling ‘bad’ is either one or both of two things: Guilt and/or Shame.  Say you make a ‘resolve’ based out of guilt/shame, and you can’t stick to it, where does that leave you? Feeling even more guilt and shame.  Great cycle of self-destruction there.  Let me tell you, that if either of those badboys were effective in changing behaviour, I’d be a Saint and weigh five kilos less.  Literally.  We all would.  Instead, let’s love ourselves and our families enough to decide we want to be the best version of ourselves that we can, and that we might be open to seeing ways or possibilities to do that.

In this spirit, how about this for a challenge, not a resolution, for 2014:

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Comparison kills creativity*, self esteem and joy.  And while we’re at it, let’s include not just images on the Net, but Facebook, magazines, movies and tv too.  There is not one image in a magazine that has not been digitally reenhanced.  Not one.  What you are looking at is not a real person.  Not a real person.  How can we ever live up to something that isn’t even real?  So stop kidding yourself.  You are a real person.  And if reading Facebook, blogs and magazines just ends up making you feel not-good-enough, unworthy or left out, then stop doing it.  Because you are comparing your life to someone else’s.  Live your own life.  This is a challenge our grandmother’s never had to face, but we have to.  And we need to do it for our daughter’s and our sons too.  Because they are seeing and feeling the result of our comparison.  Ever wondered why there are so many cases of juvenile anorexia appearing these days, or why little girls grow up too fast and want to look ‘sexy’?  Stop contributing to it.  Now.

If however, you use these images to inspire you or to learn to do things better, then go for it.  Some days for me it is a fine line between comparing myself and my life to what I see around me or using it as an inspiration.  On those days when I notice the balance is a little off, I close the computer (magazine etc) and get back into my own life, my own reality.  Because I only have one. One reality, one life, and it is mine, no-one else’s, and as I am learning, I am enough.  You may like to become aware of this in your own life.  I did not start this blog to hold myself up as an oracle on how to live life, I started writing it to inspire women, and there’s a big difference in that intention.  Same with hair, makeup and fashion.  It is there to enhance, for enjoyment.  When it stops being that, then it’s time to put it away for a while.  These ‘accessories’ to life are here for our enjoyment, not to make us feel shabby.

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Brene Brown

And while we are on the topic of guilt and shame, let’s add the antidote, vulnerability.  Yuck.  Who wants to talk about that one?  Well, this lady does, and she’s doing a pretty good job of it.  Go on, do yourself a favour for 5 minutes and watch this.  Personally, I have found it life changing.  And I’m not joking.  I’m being totally vulnerable here, so please don’t laugh.

http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

Happy New Year everyone,

go out, live your life,  you only have the one, and you ARE ENOUGH

Carpe Diem

Tracey

*Brene Brown said it first, not me.  Check out her other works on her website

Post Xmas Sales Booty or Rewarding Myself for Working Through Xmas

I’m a shopaholic.  I know.  I’m terrible.  Ok, I promise I’m going to speak to my therapist about it this year.  Truly I am.  But in the meantime, here are some gorgeous little pieces I picked up in the sales at such ridiculous prices that any self-respecting shopaholic would not – could not – pass up.  Plus I had a little help from some loyalty gifts from my favourite brands ($30 giftcard from Sportscraft and a $30 gift card from Country Road) who were also offering 20 and 25% discounts to VIP members.  If I haven’t told you gals already, it really pays to join up and carry the card for these places.  They offer some really good member discounts throughout the year, even if you don’t spend enough to earn gift cards.

Item 1:  The Mimco Jurassic Hip Bag in Seafoam.  Saw this colour and it rang bells for me as a fresh take on Summer comes through.  Less than half price, I paid $119.

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Mimco Jurassic Hip Bag

Item 2: The matching Witchery Tribal scarf in Seafoam.  Gorgeous colour.  Had to have it.  $34.95, normally $50.00

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Witchery Tribal Scarf

Item 3: My first pair of Prada sunnies.  And my biggest saving on these babies.  Normally $420, I paid just $126.  Yes.  70% off. They speak for themselves.  So cheeky.

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Prada Sunglasses

Item 4: Ralph Shield Sunglasses by Ralph Lauren.  Massive saving, these cost only $50.60.  That’s right, a pair of Ralph Lauren Sunglasses for just $50.60.  That’s kiddie’s pocket money prices.

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Ralph Lauren Shield Sunglasses

Item 5: The little black Embroidered Dress from Country Road.  With loyalty discounts and birthday loyalty voucher, I paid just shy of half price.  Normally $129, I paid $66.00

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Country Road Embroidered Dress

Item 6:  The classic DKNY Tote.  This was not on sale, but it was my birthday present from the Hubster (chosen by myself, of course).  It has classic lines, is structurally sound, and impeccably made of hard wearing Saffiano leather, which seems to be virtually indestructible.  I had to feature it here because it just looks so damn good, either dressed up or down.

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DKNY Tote

Other things I am currently dreaming about buying but trying to resist (I am trying very hard to resist):

The Mimco Clutch.  Currently on sale for less than half price at $119.  Such a classic piece, and large enough to make a statement and carry all one’s necessities.

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Mimco Clutch: Classic

The Witchery Sandals.  Currrently on sale for $69.

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Witchery Sandals

Now let’s see it all put together in one beautiful collage of gorgeousness:

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This is what I’ll be wearing to my regular hairdressing visit today.  My only dilemma: which bag?

Happy sale shopping gals!

Carpe Diem

Tracey

Deck the Halls

Teddy & Lindor BoulesDeck the Halls with Balls of Lindor

Fa la la la laa la la la la

UnknownFeel the smoothness of the chocolate

Fa la la la la la la la laaa

imagesGobble them with gay abandon

Fa la la la laa la la la la

images-1Wash them down with lots of bubbly

Fa la la la la la la la laaah

ViewImage.aspxThen in January we’ll buy waist expanderrs

Fa la la la laa la la laa laaaaa…ohhhh

Merry Christmas to my dear Readers and Fellow Bloggers,

thank you for tuning in to my thoughts on love, life, style and stuff and making me feel welcome in the blogosphere.  There’ll be more interesting and poignant posts for your digital consumption next year.

In the mean time,

Have Yourselves a Merry Little Christmas

Stay safe and appreciate the ones you love

And eat lots of chocolate

Carpe Diem

Tracey and Pip (the amazing adopted wonder dog)

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The Happiest Day (and a correction)

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Humble Retail Assistant

A few days ago, I wrote lamenting on how sometimes we, the humble retail assistant, can feel taken for granted by their employer and at this time of year, even unappreciated.

Yesterday was my birthday.  I was at work.  The National Operations Manager was doing his regular rounds.  Somehow he found out it was my birthday.  Next thing I knew, there he was, on the floor – cake and candles lit, rousing my colleagues in a hearty rendition of “Happy Birthday”, to which, all the customers stopped and joined in.  I was a little speechless (only a little, it takes a LOT to make me completely speechless.  Consider this a challenge).  It was great fun.  And right now, I don’t feel taken for granted.  Just wanted to let you all know.  My National Operations Manager has restored my faith that there is a skeric of humanity left in retail after all.  Here is a chap who is working around the clock to manage a national retail chain, travelling between stores, not afraid of serving a customer or 10, yet still made the time to run out to the bakery at the end of the mall to buy me a cake.  What more can I say?  It would be a little peevish not to respond with a post to let you all know that it may be crazy out there, but we are all still human beings. With hearts.

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And some people felt sad for me, having to work on my birthday.  In truth, I was with the girls I love, my ‘work family’, who over the years, have been there through sadness, loss, happiness, graduations and all the seasons that pass through a life.  They may not be my ‘chosen’ friends, but they were chosen for me, by the Universe, to be with right now.  And I love them.  I do.  At times, they drive me nuts, at times, they bitch, at times, they whinge.  At times, I’m glad we keep the sharp knives in a locked cabinet.  But that is exactly how families behave too.  I can tell you that through some very difficult times over the last couple of years, work has been a haven of sorts, a solace.  It has been a familiar place to go, where I put on my professional face, and put aside whatever is happening in my private life for a few hours and focus on other things.  A kind of ‘diversional therapy’ if you will.

So, being at work for my birthday?  Just being with my girls.  And a cake and a song from the Big Guy and the customers?  Priceless.  Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

And, what did I get for my birthday?  A small piece of style.

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Carpe Diem

Tracey

Santa Baby

There’s a new man in my life, and the Hubster isn’t happy.  I can’t help it, I’m such a sucker for a smooth voice and charming ways  (not mention class) and I just fall.  Deeply.  Plus, I love a Christmas tune.  I’m a tragic Christmas caroller.

You guessed it.  This is my new fella of the moment:

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And really, are there any of you out there that can blame me?

Swoon.

A gal can dream can’t she?

And you thought it was all about Jesus

Apart from being a personal stylist and makeup artist, I have another job.  I work in retail at a prestige homewares store.

I am a veteran of many retail Christmases.

shop-assistant-scanning_~x16776052During the year, I love my job, I love helping people, I love being out and about in the slipstream of life, and my part time retail job affords me to enjoy little luxuries that I wouldn’t otherwise indulge in (like a DKNY handbag..).

But this time of year really tests my determination to stay in my job, along with my ability to stay sane, which apparently, hangs on tenuously at the best of times.

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“No, I just wear this uniform because it feels good, Ma’am”

images-7Retail assistants have to work longer hours at this time of year.  This is an expectation, not an option.  We are processing  more than double the amount of customers than usual, we are unpacking double the amount of new stock, we are trying to keep our shelves filled so it doesn’t look like the bakery from Sarajevo (pictured), training new casual staff  AND we are TRYING to be nice to customers and give what we hope is a level of service that is considered to be excellent.  Everyday, without fail.

images-8When everything is said and done, at the end of the wash up, Christmas is about you, the Customer.  Without you, we wouldn’t have jobs, without you, we wouldn’t sell the stock that comes in to store, without you there’d be no presents, no economy, no Christmas.  And you thought it was all about Jesus right?  Actually, Christmas is about retailing.

I’ve outlined what Christmas would be like without you, the Customer.  Have you ever given a thought about what Christmas would be like without us, the humble Retail Assistant?

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Humble Retail Assistant

Firstly, the store would not open at 9am sharp.  If it did, there’d be no-one to show you where the yellow polka-dotted spatulas are kept, or wrap your glassware, take your money or suggest a ‘suitable gift for Aunt Mary the spinster who doesn’t cook’ that is within your budget and in keeping with her colour scheme.

There’d be no Christmas music playing, there’d be no-one to wish you “Merry Christmas”.  Yet, it often feels that we are the most under appreciated people at this time of year.  I say ‘feels’ because that is my perspective, and it may not be yours. Have you ever thought that we have families that we’d like to be spending time with, shopping and lunching, just as you are doing?  Have you ever thought that the online purchase you just made may be contributing to the closure of real life shopping centres with shiny floors and bright lights, because you can get that item $10 cheaper online than from the store just down the road from you? Have you ever thought that the loud conversation you are having on your mobile phone is happening in my workplace where I have to function everyday?  Have you ever thought that when you are rude to me because you are disappointed or frustrated that it may hurt what is left of my feelings and affect how I view humanity in general?

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Well, this is part and parcel of being a retail assistant.  We are often overworked and under appreciated, not just by customers but sadly by our own employers, who often take our labour and good will for granted and expect us to be on time, pleasant, efficient, make sales and give our customers good if not great service, and yet give little in return, knowing that if one of us were to leave, there’d be 100 willing people ready to take our place the next day.

imagesWhile you’re out and about this Christmas Season, shopping and crossing off your list, spare a thought for the person behind the counter.  Whatever you may think about the service they are giving you, they are most likely doing their best in trying times.  And remember, Christmas starts in your heart, just as charity begins at home.

Be nice.  Smile back. Be patient.  Be kind.

Merry Christmas one and all

Tracey

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Why I’m a Bad Christmas Shopper

UnknownNo ‘Secret’ Santa’s Here

I can’t keep secrets.  I’m a last minute shopper. I love Christmas,  I live and work in the retail sector, I see bargains come and go throughout the year, yet my Christmas list remains unchecked til the last week before December 25.

As part of my life’s philosophy of Living in the Moment, known by some as Mindfulness, my motto is Carpe Diem, Seize the Day.  This means that I (try to) value, love and enjoy every day of my life as though it were my last.  Even the bad, sad or crappy ones.

I have this philosophy for a couple of very important reasons. One of them is inspired by my mother, whose life was cut short by a terminal and debilitating illness at the age of 56, and the other was seeing my step-father succumb to the same fate.  These people spent twenty years of their lives in reclining lounges and wheel chairs.  They didn’t get out much.  They couldn’t travel.  Shopping remained one of my mother’s few joys up until about the last 5 years of her life.

By contrast, I am healthy.  I am well.  I am active.  I have all my faculties working (my kids may dispute this fact but they’re not writing this piece, I am).  It makes me grateful.  Grateful to have choices.  Grateful for each ache or pain that tells me I’m overdoing work or that I’ve spent too long weeding the garden.  I’m grateful that at the moment I have a massive cut on my finger from manoeuvring a knife the wrong way and it hurts.  Because it’s a reminder to me that I got that cut by being out and active and in the slipstream of Life.

Buddhists say that ‘life is suffering’.  I figure that if the worst thing I have to suffer is the occasional back ache, sore finger or concern about money (and who doesn’t), then my life isn’t too bad in the ‘suffering stakes’.  I’ve seen real suffering and it’s not here.

imagesSo, getting back to Christmas.  I’m hopeless at buying gifts halfway through the year.  I can’t keep a gift from a loved one.  If I see them now, I want them to have it NOW.  Next week, next month, in six months, might be too late.  I’m a last minute shopper because I’ve already given people my gifts of myself and love and affection and things I think they’d like throughout the year, for no particular reason other than I want them to know I love them,  and I want them to enjoy my gift NOW.

It’s hard to come up with new and exciting gifts for December 25 when you live like this.  The whole gift giving thing on one day of the year is kind of against my philosophy, it doesn’t sit easy with me. The Hubster is no better.  Birthdays when our children were young was murder for us.  We were as bad as each other.  We’d take turns saying “Go on, give it to him now”.. One of us had to be strong, so we’d take turns at that too.  Somehow we got through it!

Is there a gift under your tree for someone special?  Ever considered breaking with tradition and giving it early? To me,  Christmas is every day of the year (especially when my Strawberry Net order arrives).  Now I’d better get down to making that list…

images-2Carpe Diem and Merry Christmas!

Tracey xxx

ps, some eco-friendly advice:

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Crazy for: new Scensibilities

Mr Armani: Why oh why?

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The inimitable Cate

Have you seen the new scent by Giorgio Armani?  It is called Si.  It is being marketed using that beautiful and unworldly creature Cate Blanchette.

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Flower Bomb by Viktor & Rolfe

I’ve been a fan of Viktor & Rolfe’s universally gorgeous and uplifting Flower Bomb for 3 years now.  This new fragrance Si, has some very similar notes, but it is also subtly different.  In a good way.  It has some deeper, darker muskier after tones that linger and last so elegantly.

I change my fragrance with the season, the day, my mood, my hormones, the occasion. A veritable ‘wardrobe’ of fragrances. (oh what luxury!)

Our body is basically a sack of chemicals and our skin is the largest excretory organ of the body.  So the chemical reaction of the fragrances we wear will vary depending on what that chemical cocktail is affected by, and the ambient temperature in which we live.

For winter, I go for mossy greens such as Chanel  or woody amber warms like Bottega Veneta which, when used on the cleavage, is like giving yourself a big warm bosomy hug from a mother.  It keeps you warm.

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DKNY Pure with a hint of Vanilla

For summer, it has to be fresh: florals, citrus, a hint of vanilla but not too much.

And then sometimes, out of the blue, a new aroma will hit you and you will know.  You will know, you MUST have it.  Si?  Yes please, Mr Armani, yes please.

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