Monday, September 26, 2016

New book FINANCIALLY CHIC now available!

Available now on Amazon Kindle!
Dear chic friend,

I am so happy to let you know that my latest book 'Financially Chic: Live a luxurious life on a budget, learn to love managing money, and grow your wealth' is out now on Amazon Kindle!

In this book I share all my favourite tips on living 'rich' on a small budget, as well as how to make managing your finances fun and exciting (yes, it is possible!)  Whether you have had a disastrous relationship with money in the past or consider yourself to be pretty savvy when it comes to your financial life, I believe you will find many nuggets in 'Financially Chic'.

Money touches every part of our life, so it's a great idea to become best friends, instead of being frenemies (I know that's cheesy, sorry!)

The print copy is currently being formatted, and will be released very, very soon, but in the meantime 'Financially Chic' is available for instant download on Amazon Kindle.

I do hope you will pop on over to Amazon and introduce yourself to the newest member of my book family!


Friday, September 23, 2016

Creating your own style of chic outfits


I get a few requests from my readers on creating chic outfits, and I haven’t written a blog post yet because I don’t really know what to say.  Even though I do like to look good and like I’ve made an effort, I’m not so much into fashion.  I’m inspired more by an old photo of Coco Chanel than I am by the latest Vogue.  I really don’t know if I am the best person to advise on style!

With one of my core values being ‘simplicity’, I love applying this to all aspects of my dress:

Simplicity of line (the cut) in my chosen clothing items
Simplicity in colour palette
Simplicity in my closet with not too many pieces
Simplicity in that most of my pieces are a solid or marle/melange colour and a few stripes; only one or two items have a print

Even with accessories I don’t like to have too many.  My box of scarves was too much for me so I took a few out for the season and stored the rest.  I haven’t quite decluttered them yet because I know I go through phases of wearing scarves more.

I think the most important thing in creating your own ‘brand’ of chic, is deciding what you love first and building on that.  I’ve always been drawn to the classics.  I admire Diane Keaton’s unique style of dress but wouldn’t necessarily wear it verbatim.  I tend to the more casual side of dress.

If I did want to change, I think I’d like to sophisticate it up a little bit.  And I do already have a few pieces that are more sophisticated such as a satin top instead of a more casual fabric.  At this time of year with it almost the change of season, I’m feeling a little bored with my winter uniform, so it will be nice to transition into my ‘new’ season clothes.

Pinterest is a great way of seeing your style without consciously thinking about it.  If you ‘pin’ outfits as you see them and they appeal, looking over your Pinterest board you will see a theme emerging.  Seeing great images also inspires me to utilise the wardrobe I already have, for example, seeing a woman in a blazer over a Breton top and jeans reminds me that I have a couple of great blazers that I never wear (from sheer laziness)!

If I’ve found myself in a style slump (which may or may not be end-of-season malaise), there are a few ways I can become excited about dressing myself again:

Scrolling through Pinterest for a short time, with such searches as ‘chic classic style’, ‘soft summer clothing’ (soft summer is my colour palette) or ‘coco chanel’.  In no time I am excited to put together outfits in a different way and recreate outfits from items I already own.

Reading one of the style books I have at home.  Even though it’s older (published in 2004), I adore Ultimate Style by Bettina Zilkha.  I’d borrowed it so many times from our public library that I eventually bought my own copy inexpensively second-hand (it’s out of print).

Having a session in my closet where I play around and make up new outfits (best done when I’m at home for the day, not when I have five minutes to get dressed for work).

Watching all or part of a fashion movie/documentary.  I was quite entranced with Karl Lagerfeld in his documentary and then of course there is The September Issue.  I read fashion magazines for a few months after watching that one!

I’ve written a few other posts on creating your own personal style here too.

One big bonus of getting more involved in creating my own personal style, is that I tend to snack less.  When I’m researching Chanel or an elegant and classical way of dressing for example, nibbling junk foods seems less attractive.  A crisp glass of Perrier or a steaming hot tea or coffee is much more civilised between meals.  I’m sure Coco did not bolt down low-quality chocolate just because she was bored…

Are you a fashion girl or a style girl?  Both?  When you take more notice of what you’re wearing, do you notice benefits like I do with snacking?  Please share in the comments below.


PS.  I'd love you to enter my first ever giveaway where you can win a signed copy of my book Thirty Chic Days: Practical inspiration for a beautiful life.  I'll post it to you anywhere in the world.  You can enter here!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

'Thirty Chic Days' book giveaway - ends 30th September!

I am excited to announce my first ever giveaway!

One lucky winner will receive a signed copy of Thirty Chic Days to be posted anywhere in the world.  If you haven't read Thirty Chic Days yet, I am happy for you to be able to read it; if you already have it on Kindle you can enjoy the print copy (it's really pretty with cream-coloured pages and a soft pink cover), and if you already have a print copy maybe you can give it to a dear friend once you win?

The competition closes at midnight New Zealand time 30th of September 2016.

Here is what readers have said about Thirty Chic Days:

Jennifer L. Scott, author of 'Lessons from Madame Chic' said:
Such good fun and very inspiring.  Fiona Ferris has created a fun, motivational book for women on how to live a more joyful and chic life. Just by reading one or two chapters you will feel compelled to get up and start making changes and implementing her unique tips. Fans of her blog, How To Be Chic, will not be disappointed in this rich volume, full of chic words of wisdom.

Shannon Ables, of The Simply Luxurious Life said:
A treat to indulge in.  Fiona's book is a delightful read to serve as a reminder that it is the everyday approaches to living that make a grand difference in our overall happiness. With a devoted appreciation and love for the French culture, she shares ideas that anyone can incorporate into their daily routine. With thirty chapters, readers can go at a leisurely pace indulging in one chapter an evening before drifting off to blissful slumber or devour in a day as it is easy to want to do.

Leslie, Hostess of the Humble Bungalow blog said:
Fiona Ferris's new book is wonderful!  The book is well written focusing on specific areas in which we can improve our quality of life and there are tips on how to implement change.  I particularly like the French Femme theme that runs throughout the book...J'adore Paris and like Fiona I can imagine myself back in Paris sipping a cafe creme at a sidewalk cafe, scarf tied around my neck wearing red lipstick and perfume...there is a luxury and richness in her attitude towards bringing and embracing some quintessentially chic French habits.  There are simple ideas for home keeping and her thoughts on taking charge of the clutter and mess really work to reduce unnecessary stress.  Thirty Chic Days is a wonderful guide for living life with elegance, serenity and cultivating joy.

Adrienne Shubin, The Rich Life in Wine Country blog said:
Fiona's book will inspire you to live your best life! I have been a longtime fan of Fiona's blog, How to be Chic, and am so excited that she has created this wonderful guide to living well. Her book has inspired me to be the best person I can be and her gentle tone makes me want to read her chapters again and again. Her tips are smart, practical and motivational. She has me taking more walks and I even picked out a charity I want to focus on raising money for. Thank you, Fiona, for sharing your wonderful advice for chic, contented living!

Amazon Customer said:
Elegant, inspirational and a calming conversation with a best friend.  Buy this book. It is simple, elegant, motivating, calming, inspiring and quietly refined. Fiona has an eloquent way with words, the book feels like a conversation with a close girlfriend who you secretly want to emulate, an older sister that has a life you want to covet- and she gives you the skills to do just that. Perfect with a coffee, snuggled with a blanket, Read the book, let your mind wander. Take notes and put things into practice- Fiona references a "secret garden"- this book is mine.


You can earn extra entries for promoting my giveaway, via the Rafflecopter widget below.  Please note that all entries will automatically be subscribed to my weekly email.  You can always unsubscribe, but I hope you will stick around.

Good luck in this competition, and I can't wait to see which country I get to send the prize to - exciting!

PS.  You can download the eBook instantly for US$8.99 here, if you can't wait to start reading :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 16, 2016

The capsule wardrobe challenge

What is it about the term ‘capsule wardrobe’ that captures our attention?  I think it holds such appeal because it’s like a magical feeling of ‘once you’ve got that sorted, you’ve got life sorted’.  I may be overstating it, but it certainly feels that way.

I’m on Courtney Carver’s ‘Be More with Less’ (I almost typed in ‘Be Less with More’ which really is the same thing isn’t it?) mailing list and she sent out an email about the next round of Project 333 which starts on the 1st of October.

Project 333 is a capsule wardrobe idea where you choose 33 items to wear for the next three months (October to December).  It’s quarterly/seasonal so that you change out as the weather changes.  I’ve dabbled in Project 333 before, but never followed it properly.

Strictly speaking, the 33 items should cover everything you wear including accessories and footwear, however it’s not meant to be a torturous test, in fact it’s meant to liberate you.  So I’m going to go for 33 items of clothing.

Why I’m telling you this before I do it is because I want public accountability that I’m going to actually do it properly this time.  Not chicken out and just keep wearing the same old things in my closet (which is probably less than 33 items rotated if I counted).

I think I will actually have increased variety in my outfits by doing this challenge, because it will make me think more about what I wear, because the truth is I’m pretty lazy and can happily have a handful of outfits that I wear each day

When I’ve sorted out my 33 items – by the 1st of October – I’ll share my choices with you.  It’s spring here in New Zealand so I will be bringing out my warmer weather clothes, but it still won’t be hot until after Christmas probably, so it’s my shoulder-season/trans-seasonal wardrobe.

Here are all the benefits I am looking forward to with having a capsule wardrobe:

Ease of getting ready in the morning

Feeling like I’m all organised, not just getting dressed, but in life!

A roadmap for the season ahead – no surprises

Seeing straight away if I have a full wardrobe for the season or if I need to fill some gaps

Feeling like I am that chic and elegant woman who plans her wardrobe out

Having a colour-coordinated mix-and-match selection

Checking that everything is comfortable and in good order so I can focus on other
things such as my writing instead of wardrobe mishaps

Being more creative in my choices and actually wearing some of my lovely pieces that I often pass over because they’re ‘too good/delicate/fancy’

Yay, I think I’ve really talked myself into it this time!

Are you a capsule wardrobe convert, or do you prefer to wing it?  Please share, and also I’d love any tips on how to make it easier.  I want this to be a fun and enjoyable exercise!

Friday, September 9, 2016

How to feel younger


I love to see ladies (and men) quite a bit older than me who seem youthful and vibrant.  A friend’s mother comes to mind – she’s not that old, probably in her sixties or nearing seventy, and she is always a fun lady to bump into.  She never complains about anything, she talks up everyone she knows and if she doesn’t agree with something it’s said in a jokey and nice way.

Because my husband and I run a shoe store, I have seen her feet, and she has the most misshapen big toes I have ever seen – they actually bend in middle -  yet she laughs about them and says it’s from years of wearing stiletto heels in the 1960s.  If her toes hurt, you’d never know.  They probably wouldn’t dare actually.

This lady and others like her inspire me to age well, to get more positive as I get older and get on with the important job of enjoying life.

A seventy-year-old who is healthy, vibrant and happy will be more attractive than a younger woman with a sour and pinched outlook on life who doesn't take care of herself. Of course you can tell the seventy-year-old is older but that is going to be the case no matter what.  She will still be more attractive than younger Miss Sour and Pinched.

I believe you will be most content if you accept your age, and focus on making the most off your health, looks and happiness with every advancing year.

How much nicer would it be to think of yourself that you get 'better with every year - healthier, happier, more hobbies, friends, books read' rather than 'another year older, look how old I look, don’t get old it’s horrible' and basically counting down until the day you die.  Which sounds more fun to you?

I know there are health issues to face and possible bereavements and other difficulties, however these are not the exclusive preserve of older people; there are many youngsters who face all of these things.  And it seems to be a medical fact that stress can make you ill, so by stressing about all the bad aspects of aging you could be making things worse.  That’s a downward spiral I wouldn’t mind avoiding.

Conversely, focusing on all the good parts of getting older you could be doing yourself (and your loved ones, for they have to live with you) a huge favour.  I can see there are tons of items on the ‘positives of aging’ list, such as:

Getting richer over time, simply because you’ve been earning for longer
Having more wisdom from your experiences
More free time to do what you love – hobbies and activities
Less concern for what others think of you
More likely to do exactly what you want – others can’t talk you into things
You’ve worked out your personal style, what colours suit you

Watching the two Marigold Hotel movies and others of their type always helps me feel more positive about getting older.  I love to see retirees behaving badly – my nana Valarie was a great one for doing exactly what she wanted to.   She wore stylish and elegant clothing right through – no old lady dresses or frumpy weight gain for her.  She thumbed her nose at the authorities and drove her Mini even when she no longer had a license (she didn’t go far, don’t worry) and the hilarious thing about that is that she wore a giant sombrero so they wouldn’t see it was her.  As if a hat like that was going to help her go incognito through the streets of the small town she lived in!

If you are retired, I’d love to hear all the wonderful and fantastic things about being so, and if you are younger, please tell us what you are most looking forward to as you get older.

For me, it’s having more time to sew, knit, read and travel.  Yippee!

Friday, September 2, 2016

An intentional life – and our changes coming up

On my recent interview with Shannon Ables of The Simply Luxurious Life, I mentioned in our conversation that my husband and I were in the process of changing our lifestyle quite radically.  I’ve had a few questions for more details so I thought I’d do a post on our lifestyle changes.

About eighteen months ago my husband and I started talking about where we live and what we do, and the outcome of these talks is that we have decided to leave our city life and move to the small town where I grew up, selling our business and doing something completely different when we shift there.

Currently we live in Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand with a population of near 1.4 million people; however I’ve always dreamed about moving to the country or a small town (or both) to live a quiet and simple life.  Luckily my husband shares this desire.

We do actually live a quiet and simple ‘small-town’ life in the city, but I know it will be so much more relaxing to live in a smaller place without traffic congestion issues and with less people overall.  I always love going back ‘home’ when I visit, for the quiet streets, wide-open sky and calming country feel.

Many years ago my dad made a very wise statement when he pointed to a map of somewhere big (I can’t remember where, it was a city like London or New York) and said ‘concentration of people is the problem’ and we still laugh about that because he loves his slow life in the country, but now, I’m just the same!  I know our cats will love it too; it's quite a built-up-cat neighbourhood where we live.

The place where I grew up - Havelock North, Hawke’s Bay - is on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand.  It was a pretty sleepy place in the 1970s and 1980s when I was growing up, but in the mid-80s people started planting grape vines after realising the dry climate with hot days and cool nights was ideal for wine production.  Now, Hawke’s Bay is an attractive destination for both visitors and those wanting to escape the 'rat race' permanently (funnily enough I have heard people talk about being ‘Auckland refugees’ or ‘traffic refugees’ who have moved there).

We are both so excited about ‘moving into’ our dream life and it’s only a matter of time now.  We’re ticking things off on our big to-do list and we're planning that within six months we will be there.  It will be quite novel for us to have time off together too, because for the past twelve years we’ve run a seven-day business with mostly just us two as staff.  And we’ve only known each other thirteen years in total!

My husband worked out how many extra days off per year he'd have (adding together weekends, public holidays and paid leave) going into a normal job and it’s more than being self-employed.  We’re very grateful to our business though, and have received many blessings from the experience, in spite of having worked a lot.  As well as earning money, it actually saved us money since we never had time off to browse the shops together or have Sunday brunch out, plus we’ve learned a lot from running a small business.  And there's nothing like working in a shop all day to cure you of shopping for leisure so it's quite good for keeping clutter at bay too.

Just a change of pace and change of scenery will be wonderful.  I’m so grateful to be in a position to not have to get a full-time job; I could work part-time or even work from home with my writing.  That would be my dream.  And because we have a low-cost lifestyle it will be achievable for us.

We’ve had fun looking at real estate online and thinking about what kind of house we’d like to live in and how much land we want.  I feel really grateful that we are able to do this, and really, it’s just a decision.

As I also mentioned to Shannon on our interview, in my mid-forties I now realise I’m in the second half of my life.  Do I want to save all the good stuff for when I’m retired?  Why not enjoy life now?  Sometimes I feel like we keep on doing the same thing because we've always done the same thing.  That's the only reason I can think of to explain why I have been doing the same old thing for almost thirty years now without putting my head up and looking around to see what else there is.

I’ve mentioned Brian Tracy’s ‘zero-based thinking’ before, and that’s what we used to come to the decision we made.  We talked a lot about Would we open a retail business now if we didn't already have one?  Would we live in this city if we were choosing where we wanted to live?  Where would we live if not here? Overseas?  Somewhere else in New Zealand?

We talked about whether we wanted to live overseas, but I think we’ll stay in New Zealand for now.  We both love living here, love how New Zealand is so far away from everything and love being close to our families.  It’s cool to think about all the possibilities though.

What about you?  If you could start over, what would be your ideal scenario?  Would it be where you live and what you are doing right now?  If not, then what?
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