Thursday, April 27, 2017

Accessorizing in a chic way

When it comes to accessorizing, I am a less is more kind of person. I like to wear not that much otherwise I feel overdone. I have very few blingy pieces too. Everyone’s different in how they accessorize; what I think is important is to take note of how you feel in different types and styles of accessories.

Sometimes it’s not the item itself, but making subtle updates. A few years back, I realized that when I wore scarves I felt frumpy and old-fashioned. Then I took a look at the scarves I had – they were variations on the square, and often of silky fabric. Having them knotted around my neck did not feel modern. I observed the newer more casual scarves of looser weave fabric that you could knot two corners together to make into an infinity scarf and I occasionally wear one of those. I also wrote about this here.

Other than scarves, I accessorize with jewellery, shoes and bags. Most of what I have I’ve had for a long time. I don’t know if this is boring or classic, take your pick. Most of what I wear gets equal billing, so my clothes are as important as my shoes are as important as my hair/makeup/jewellery.

I am pretty lucky to have had good contacts in the past to be able to purchase nice handbags at an excellent price. I worked for Christian Dior in the New Zealand head office for five years from 2000, and during that time was invited to two or three staff sales where we were able to purchase bags and scarves for 75%-90% off. Yes, off! I remember that the fur-front bag (it is rabbit) was $2,950 and I bought it for $295. It is a huge discount, but even spending that was a lot for me. In the past if a handbag was over $150 it was probably above my budget.

I love and have looked after all my Dior bags (the only one I did not buy was the pink one, it was a gift when I left there) so although at the time I was having palpitations even at the discounted prices, I am glad I took the opportunities when I did because I’ll likely never have that chance again.

Then, when we owned our shoe store for twelve years, one of the footwear brands we stocked was Diesel. Because of that, my husband and I were able to purchase Diesel clothing and accessories at a discount. I have several pairs of Diesel jeans and two Diesel handbags (the big beige leather one and the black fabric one). I feel very fortunate that we had that opportunity too.

Actually the only two handbags I purchased outside of these opportunities are my tan leather Michael Kors bag bought when we had our belated honeymoon in Hawaii three years ago. I bought the tan leather wallet too. I love Michael’s style and love the way tan leather brings out navy, denim or black without being a ‘colour’. I also bought the white leather bag from Oroton and I sometimes wear this casually, and sometimes with a dressy red dress that I wear to weddings or out to a special dinner.

I used to use the Michael Kors bag going to the shop every day, but now that I lead a more casual work-from-home life and don’t need to lug so much stuff around with me, I mostly use the denim and gold Dior bag or black Diesel bag.

As you can see, I keep things for a long time, with most of my bags from the early 2000s and my ‘newest’ one from 2014.

With my jewellery, these are my most loved pieces and what I wear most of the time. I mostly wear stud earrings with a necklace, or one of my hoop earrings with no necklace. Hoop earrings with a necklace would be too much for me!

I have had my watch since 2000, when I bought it for my own 30th birthday, newly single and feeling a little rebellious. It’s not like I got tons of money from the divorce, just the tiny amount we’d saved up, but I decided to blow some of it on a nice watch. Yes, a little bit crazy at the time but it felt good to do and I’m confident that I will enjoy wearing it until I am a little old lady.

My wedding set is white gold with a solitaire diamond, and the gold rings, which I wear on my right hand – one is a family piece that my nana gave me, from an aunt way back, and one is my engagement ring from my first marriage. It was a cluster which I had remade into a ‘straight’ style so I could wear it with my nana’s ring. After it had been remodelled I renamed it my independence ring. I do feel a bit Joan Collins with all my diamonds but they’re not that fancy and what are you going to do? You get nothing for jewellery if you sell it, so I may as well enjoy them.

So, that’s me in all my accessorizing splendour. Are you a maximalist or minimalist accessory girl? What are your key pieces or what you think people would most associate with you?

And, what one piece, whether it’s a bag, pair of shoes, scarf or item of jewellery would you love to own if money was no object? For me, I think it would be a classic black leather Chanel 2.55 bag. That would be just divine. Maybe one day!


PS. I have just added excerpts of all my books (including my newest one, Thirty Slim Days: Create your slender and healthy life in a fun and enjoyable way, as freebies when you join my email list.  In addition, you will receive my exclusive mp3 recording and pdf written version of 21 ways to be chic.

I send out my blog posts by email each week. If you would like these freebies, you can join up here.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Inspiration to be your best self

October 1985 on our big family trip to California - I'd just turned 15

I had the best time this week, and it was all from a visit down memory lane.  I was trying to fit more photos into an album that had less slots.  These (printed, old-style on paper) photos were from my childhood, teen years, some of my husband’s before I knew him and then ones of us together.  The span was from early 1970s up until the 2000s!

I don’t like to be swamped with tons of photos, and would rather prune out the unflattering, boring, similar and strange ones to be left with the cream of the crop.  That way I have one photo album that is fun and light to look through, instead of multiple albums that have every photo I have ever taken along with reminders of what colours and hairstyles look terrible on me...  With electronic photos I don’t print them out, so this album is a fun blast from the past to view every so often.

I thinned them out by taking every single photo out and putting them into groups of era for a start.  I then put them into the album starting with the earliest ones, after going through each pile and seeing which photos I really wanted to keep.  The criteria was that I had to have happy and/or nostalgic thoughts when I saw them.

There were a few photos which were fine to look at, but I remembered weirdness from that day or the story behind it that wasn’t so good (nothing terrible), so I let them go.   Thankfully my husband was amenable to doing a few piles himself, discarding unflattering or dull photos.  Such fun, he probably thought – not!

Jessica helping me sort photos

It was a fantastic feeling having all the ‘keep’ photos put away, with pages to spare might I add, and do you know what the cool thing about selecting only the brightest and best photos is?  Seeing them en masse is very motivating and inspiring to keep going, keep doing better, don’t settle for mediocrity and a dull life!  It’s like an edited highlights reel that shows you that Life Is indeed Good.

And having that gratitude and good feeling has continued on and I still feel it right now.  Partly that good feeling is decluttering and partly it is seeing that I don’t have to keep the not-quite-good-enough stuff, whether it is photos, old habits, feelings or possessions.

Over the past few weeks we have been having a big sort of our home as we prepare it for sale.  We’ve been here 5.5 years, which is a short-ish time to be in a home, and considering I am constantly editing my belongings (and my husband isn’t a clutter-magnet like I am, so he doesn’t have to), we still got rid of quite a bit of stuff.

Then, we had our home photographed this week by a professional photographer for our real estate listing so we got to see how she staged it with our belongings, moving things around and showing us how much better something looked with a little tweak.  Some of it was for the photos too, certain ways of doing things make for a good photo.  She also brought a few cushions and throw rugs in bright colours and they really made our neutral home zing, so that was a fun exercise too.

I would highly recommend selling your home to get motivated to make it look like a show-home (which is one of my home goals, call me sad!).  Our garden has never looked better either, thanks to a day-long team effort of my husband and I to tidy it up.  Not just normal-tidy, but every-nook-and-cranny tidy.  I can’t wait to share the photos when we see them.

I love seeing home tours on blogs, but I never got organised to have every room looking perfect at once but now I will be able to have a home tour, just as we are leaving!

So, have I encouraged you to go through your photos yet?  To create your own source of nostalgic fun and inspiration?  It doesn’t matter if you were skinnier, younger, and better looking back then, you can still be your best self now and sometimes it all starts with a motivating photo.

A few of those for me made me think “Yes, I am still her, I am still that girl inside” and I added them to my mental bank of inspiration for can’t-be-bothered days or eat-everything days.  There’s nothing like creating your own ray of sunshine to keep in your pocket and carry around with you :)

Have a wonderful week everyone and let me know if you’re going to dig out all your photos this weekend!


PS.  Look, just look what arrived yesterday!  A big box of my books all the way from the US to New Zealand.  So exciting!  I have all my paperbacks in stock now, so if you live in New Zealand or Australia, I can send you a signed copy of any of my books.  I’ll get some postage rates organised and put a page up on my blog, but in the meantime if you are interested, please email me:  fiona at howtobechic dot com and let me know which title(s) you would like and your postal address, and I’ll let you know how much it will be.

And if you live outside of Australasia, I am still happy to send out signed copies, it's just that the postage could get a little expensive.  Again, email me with where you live and what you title(s) you are interested in if this appeals, and I can put a price together for you. Basically it would be the normal cost of the book, and whatever NZ Post quotes me for postage.


If you'd like to see details of each book and read inside, you can view them at Amazon here.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Chic inspiration from NYC

My friend, Babette

One of the unexpected bonuses of going on a wine tour to the Barossa Valley with my husband on our recent trip to Australia was meeting a lovely couple from New York City.  Babette, a retired schoolteacher, and her husband were on an eight-week trip which encompassed Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.

I got to chat with Babette at various points throughout the day.  She was vivacious and bubbly, and I couldn’t get enough of her genuine New York accent (born and bred!).  Thankfully, Babette gave me her card so we could keep in touch.  I was so impressed when she handed me a professionally printed card with her contact details.  I have got to get one of those made!  It is so much more elegant than scribbling down my email address on a scrap of paper.

So, via email I got to follow along on the rest of their trip and heard how Babette went scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and paddle boarding, sailing and snorkelling in Fiji.  I am so lazy on holiday, and realise now I will really need to up my game hearing about all the great activities she participated in.

From my glowing description of Babette on my previous blog post here, I heard from readers who wanted her to share her secrets on being slim and vivacious.  Superstar celebrity Babette!  I emailed and asked if she might expand a bit on how she approaches food, eating and life in general; basically,

Babette's golden rules for being fabulous throughout life

Here is what she shared:

  • She tries to walk 2-3 miles a day
  • She exercises as much as possible (more for her head than body!)
  • She drinks lots of water (and good red wine!!)
  • She laughs a lot
  • She surrounds herself with positive people (get rid of negative forces!)
  • She keeps both her mind and body busy and enriches them constantly (since retirement she has taken foreign language courses and edit college courses.  It keeps her mind sharp!)
  • Her #1 eating rule is NO fried food
  • She also avoids white flour
  • She eats very few sweets (though dark chocolate is healthy and she finds a little piece of good chocolate is very satisfying)


Many of these things I do myself, such as walking most days and keeping active.  I also drink a lot of water (not so much of the red wine for me!) and like to find opportunities to laugh – being silly with my husband, watching funny movies and reading books such as Sophie Kinsella’s madcap titles (she is one of the only authors that I actually laugh out loud when reading her books).  I also find my cats excellent for humour therapy.

I can’t say I avoid fried foods, but I don’t eat them often.  I don’t eat white flour either and I ‘mostly’ don’t eat sweet foods.  If I eat one, I’ll eat a hundred, so I try not to take that first bite of sugary foods.  I don’t count natural foodstuffs such as fruit in that.

From how I viewed Babette on our day trip and what she has shared in emails – all the way from NYC, that still gives me a thrill :) – she has built and maintained healthy lifestyle habits that have helped her enjoy an enviable retirement experience.  Meeting and getting to know Babette a little bit encourages me further to make every year better than the last when it comes to health and fitness, and to not give up and sink into a sedentary, nibbling lifestyle that I know could come so easily for me.

I am also keen to be more of an action girl on holiday.  We haven’t been on many holidays, since my husband and I have owned a retail store for the past twelve years that required at least one of us to be there at all times (except for ten days each Christmas when we would close up).  Now that we have sold that business (as at the end of last year), we are looking forward to being able to travel more.

I’ve never been that sporty and have actually been very lazy when it comes to activities and exercise, but now that I know how good your body feels when you shake it around regularly, I am keen to be that sporty and fabulous girl on vacation.

Babette, thank you so much for sharing your lifestyle secrets, and for being a good sport about answering my questions.  I hope you enjoy your time as a celebrity :)

Chic readers, if you had to say what your top three tips for being fabulous are, what would they be?  They can be real-life things that you already do, or imaginary-idealised-how-you-would-love-to-be tips, you choose!


PS. If you have read Thirty Slim Days or any of my other books, I would be so grateful if you could take a minute to leave an honest review on Amazon.  Reviews are so important for authors; they give a reader an idea what to expect or even just help them trust that they will enjoy (or not!) the book.  I welcome all reviews because even the not-so-great ones give me valuable feedback for future books.  You can write a review here, or on your local Amazon if you prefer.
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