Thursday, 19 July 2018

Not quite minimalist, but trying hard in Mel Nation

Having fun in the summer sun, although that day I had to wear this houndstooth Pepe Jeans London jacket to keep off the morning chill. I got it at Talize thrift store in Delta, BC, during a blogger meetup in early June. See my post HERE. I liked this outfit so much, I defied gravity. It was uncanny.
Oh behave!! WHAP! Hm, I seem to be enjoying that action a bit too much. 


Who, me? I am the model of robotic poetry.


I was wearing this and that. The floaty blouse and runners, which I farked, are originally from My Sister's Closet eco thrift boutique, proceeds to Battered Women's Shelter Services in Vancouver.

The parasol has become a summer staple. I have two, both from Lily-Lark, to suit every mood. No more skulking in shadows, except my own. That would make me a self-skulker. 

The jumpsuit below is vintage '70s I'm guessing, and I sold it. What was I thinking?! I opened an Etsy shop called Mel Nation and this was the first listing - my only listing. Mel Nation is ultra, ultra exclusiff; it has nothing to do with me being lazy or decision avoidance, no, nothing whatsoever.

If you want to see my empty storefront, it's here. So exciting. When I replenish my entire inventory, I shall invite you to become citizens of Mel Nation as well. No borders, just fruity drinks with umbrellas by the poolside and a secret handshake, which I'm currently choreographing.



With the brown belt above, with no belt below. This piece is on its way to Oslo. If you hear maniacal laughter coming from the sky above, wave, as it's the jumpsuit flying overhead. 


With this massive sell-off, life here is so calm, so KonMarie, in reference to Marie Kondo's bestselling book, "The life-changing magic of tidying up." Sigh. Ohmmmm.
HaHaHaHAHAHA!!!!!
I made these sketches in 2015 - on the same day. Clearly, they are as relevant now as they were three years ago in Mel Nation, which, come to think of it, sounds almost like damnation. How weird is that? They were originally posted on July 1, 2015, "Let your clothes choose your profession, and Hat Attack." 

Below, obviously these are white wolves at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Vancouver.


You can see the brolly bag below. Slung over my shoulder it reminds me of Asian weaponry. Whap! 


And red.


With Turniphead. Because.


I know I'm late, but in case you missed it, Sherry of Petite Over 40 made an awesome video of our June meetup. I laugh every time I see it. Her post is Blogger Meet-Up Proves Vancouver's Got Talent. Suzanne's meetup posts are Strike a Pose Blogger Style - Blogger Meet Up 2018 and Breakfast at Tiffany's Prom Do Over.

VIDEO by Sherry, Petite Over 40

That's all from here. I'm going to link up to Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday, and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for #iwillwearwhatilike.

I hope you are all well. Big hugs to all. Thank you so much for dropping by!!


Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Safety wear for the stylish woman

We were walking in tandem, me on one side of the fence, the construction guy on the other. He looked over and said, "That could be a safety vest."

I replied, "Yes, it is!"


Well, technically it's a life jacket so I get double the protection of a mere vest.


This paillette jacket protects me from psychic debris. Whew. There is so much of it around!

With my construction gear I'm wearing my rockstar pants, which are thrifted low-riders that I upcycled with Sharpie markers and acrylic paint, featured several times on Bag'n'B. They were noticed by Paul Stanley of the band KISS the first time I wore them. I was in a shoe store and oblivious to his presence, but my friend Sandra of standard.deviations clued me in later. I'm bummed that I didn't get the chance to ask him for pointers on how to wear platform boots with aplomb and his favourite makeup remover. I love that guy!


And I'm wearing my upcycled T-shirt, "I am my own brand," which I would change to "I am NOT a brand" if I were to do it again. Those are my super-duper discounted Topshop platform sandals.

Below I'm raising my arms to the universe. I was in the concrete studio but I digitally edited myself into a photo I took of the beach the other day.


Schlep schlep schelp schelp seems to be the little cartoon sound of my feet as they release from the hard reality suction of the concrete sidewalk. Each step schlep. How tiresome. This is also why safety gear is a top priority. One must never get sucked in by hardness!

Other protective construction pieces I wore recently.


That outfit features a vintage dress with a tulip hem. It's a fairly substantial brocade fabric, fully lined, too big and heavy for a dress, so I snipped it up the front and turned it into a coat. The sparkly owl pendant is from Patti of Not Dead Yet Style.

And I almost always go out with one of my parasols from Lily-Lark.


Below are my "safety" glasses, which I got from Vint & York in New York. They make me feel like a psychiatrist with panache and a love of the arts. Don't ask me why. Sandra, standard.deviations, thrifted that Maison Martin Margiela for H&M wool darted jacket. Sweeeet. Ever grateful to her.


And of course, I also wore this:


And then when I get home I unwind with Kitty.


Those are the highlights of my week, my friends. Remember: Always suit up. Always protect yourself from those harmful rays of negativity.

I'm linking up to Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for #iwillwearwhatilike.

What do you use for safety gear?!


Monday, 18 June 2018

I'm still HERE!

They came. We saw. We conquered.

Who? Suzanne, Sue, Sherry, Patti, and me.
Where? Vancouver, BC.
When? June 1 to 3.

And conquered what exactly? Limitations, I suppose.

It was a rare weekend of connection, a time to join with like-minded women, all of us eager to lift ourselves above the quotidian, to dream big, dig deep, reach high.

Of course there was good food, great shopping, laughter - lots and lots of laughter - but I think it was the talking, really getting to the heart of things that matter to each of us, that will stay with me most. I can definitely say that the feeling of empowerment I got from the weekend has come in handy in the days since then.

This is a rather sober summing-up so far, so I have included the following arty video I put together with clips from our time together.


We have photos, photos, and photos! And instead of duplicating them here, pop over to Suzanne's blog where she has done two stellar wrap-up posts: Strike a Pose Blogger Style - Blogger Meet Up 2018 and Breakfast at Tiffany's Prom Do Over. [Edit: Sherry of Petite Over 40 also made a stellar post, HERE, "Blogger Meet-Up Proves Vancouver's Got Talent." You have to check out the video she made too!]

It wasn't until after our meetup that I realized we had played like champion 12-year-olds. Vamp in alleys? Sure. Mock wedding in Talize thrift store in Delta? Why not? Recreate prom and Breakfast at Tiffany in the streets and fancy hotel lobbies? Yep. March together in purple sequin band uniforms at House of Vintage thrift store? Oh, definitely. Sigh.

I like to think that if I had had a daughter, she would have said, "Whoa, Mum, can you organize my next pyjama party?" Hahaha.

So all this happened in early June.

Below are some outfits I have worn since then.


The above vest-y jacket is from Suzanne.

What else?

On April 27, I was in the Irish Examiner newspaper, which I forgot to mention before. The article, "Over 50s slaying it on Instagram," is HERE. I love the photo they used. Heh.

I had a post all planned out long before this one but then that GDPR thing hit the web. The penalties for non-compliance are formidable: 1) Up to €10 million or 2% annual global turnover – whichever is higher. Okay, I can only dream that 2% of my annual global turnover is more than €10 million. The whole exercise made me feel irrelevant. And oh so tired. So I ended up taking an unplanned blogger holiday. Plus I needed a break anyway.

I'm more rested now. But about GDPR, I have a privacy policy almost ready. But please know that if you want to unsubscribe to my email posts, just click the link at the bottom of the email from Bag and a Beret.

One last thing. I was interviewed by Margaret Manning of Sixty and Me a couple of days ago. We did four little episodes. The first two are open.

Fashion After 50 *SHOCKER*! Should We Borrow From Men's Style?

It was fun. It was a lot of work too because I like show-and-tell style, but, as usual, I wasn't organized enough to show you 70 percent of what I had ready. Hahaha.

That's it for now. Big hugs to all of you. If you have come back to read this, thank you! And thanks for your patience.

I'll link up to Patti at Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for #iwillwearwhatilike.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Pinky tea with a parasol

Oh dear, I think it's time for pinky tea at the country estate again. It's on my mind on account of the Royal Wedding. Did you watch it? One of the major thoughts I had when flicking through footage the next day was, that woman, the now-Duchess of Sussex, will never have to vacuum again, which is a good thing because her new digs are ENORMOUS, a perfect venue for pinky teas.


I'm featuring my new parasol this week wearing three different outfits on different days. There is something elegant, almost regal, about a parasol. It works hard in tough conditions but always maintains its composure, whether it's with man-pyjamas, above in Outfit 1, or a Moschino suit, later. 

I call this black shirt-dress man-pyjamas because I found this piece at Talize thrift store in the men's nightwear section. (Never overlook other sections in the thrift store.) And of course I'm wearing my magic loupe that O made for me. You can buy one too at his Etsy store, OSK Micro-Art Studio

Outfit 2 below features everything upcycled: my Marni for H&M pants with added side stripes, from Vancouver high-end consignment store Mine and Yours, chest-cooler T-shirt, graphic vintage handbag, and scribbled-on sneakers. And my magic loupe.


I seldom wear hats on account of my tower hair, and my pores choke when I put on lotion, so this parasol is perfect: it maintains the do, protects my skin, and keeps me cool. A special coating on the fabric blocks 98% of UV rays.

I almost bought a paper parasol last summer thinking a parasol would meet my needs. Glad I didn't because Lily-Lark asked if I'd like one of their designs. Wow, yeaaah!

Finely crafted in Chiang Mai, Thailand, from bamboo and wood, with ultra-soft, durable fabric in divine arty patterns. It's lightweight and comes with its own carry case. See how it's made HERE.

It's like a mega-brimmed hat but better because I control the roll, pitch, and yaw with a flick of my wrist.

Below I'm standing next to Elizabeth Zvonar, an artist friend, with the parasol closed.


I'm also wearing very cool tights that Zohara "Art on Tights" sent me. They are super soft and opaque at 120 denier, just the way I like them. Vancouver can be cool in the spring and summer, so I'll get to wear these tights year-round. I have more pairs I'll show you later.

Lily-Lark parasols come in large and small. This is a small - I thought it would be perfect for navigating busy city sidewalks. It is.


The pattern and drama of the parasol inspired me to make a short video on a whim. That day, I was wearing Outfit 3, my Moschino plaid suit, which features men's ties on the jacket and skirt. I bought it last year at the West Vancouver United Church Flea Market on a tip from friend Yvonne.

With the suit I'm wearing my cat/dog sticking-out-its-tongue T-shirt tucked in. But you can see the eyes when I don't wear the jacket. I got it on a tip from friend Sandra.


All that parasoling, I'm tuckered out. It's an Olympic sport now, did you know?
Then it's nap time on the concrete steps. Aaaah.


Give a lady a little privacy, would ya!?!
So many uses.


And that's the carry bag you can wear over your shoulder, which I do. It's almost like a samurai sword. Almost. Always at the ready for solar emergencies.


You wouldn't believe all the conversations I have with interesting people when I carry this parasol. Several men have commented on the quality - I'm not making this up. I'd love to see men carrying parasols - that would make my day!

Note to Lily-Lark: how about some canopies with monster trucks and stems that look like steel rods? Our skin is important and some guys can't stand lotions either, let alone large-brimmed hats. Good luck with that, hahaha! But why not?

I didn't remove the tags right away because I was always getting asked the brand. Now I won't forget. This design is called Taco.


Before, on sunny days I'd have to skulk awkwardly from light standard to light standard, like Inspector Clouseau of the Pink Panther, very undercover. But now, porting my own shade, I can walk wherever I like - what a concept! It's very liberating to choose my own path.

I met another woman today who also has a parasol - her skin is sensitive to lotions too. Are sun parasols a new trend? Rather, the revival of an old trend? Would you carry one?

That's all for this week, friends. I'll link up to Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for her Visible Monday and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for her #iwillwearwhatilike.

Groove on!



Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Me, Turniphead, and Rock-on Retrospective


It's possible you saw these little Turnipheads in a post I recently updated which came to your email in-box. I didn't know it would notify you. Auck. You may recognize some of Turniphead's outfits; she wears what I wear and usually hangs out with Kitty.

And I made another compilation video of some of my outfits from October 2016 to now-ish, Part 2 after Part 1, October '15 to '16. I uploaded a version, took it down, and then replaced it with this one. It's all so complex!

Have a look if you have a minute. Seriously, it's exactly 1 minute long.


Don't forget that I'm doing Style Boost Coaching now if you'd like help building up the courage to wear what makes you happy and live with attitude. See HERE.

Now, getting serious with playtime below.


This may look suspiciously like Vancouver Art Gallery, but really I'm in Italy! Yes, definitely, kind of! I stopped to whip around my dress and lean on marble columns on my way to a little trattorria, where I shall dine on pasta and drink red wine and wreck my dress, but I won't mind because, hey, I'm in friggin' Italy. 

Perhaps I shall need to rinse my dress in Trevi Fountain. The thought of laundry has never be so romantic. I should have brought all my dirty clothes with me!


Meet me at the Piazza di Spagna. See how great that sounds? Look for the woman with eyes like spinning saucers - that will be me, amazed that I am in friggin' ITALY!! 

I like the novels of Patricia Highsmith and loved the movie adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley with Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Jude Law, and Matt Damon. In particular, I loved seeing Italy of the late '50s through director Minghella's eye. The clothes - sigh. Below, a montage of scenes with the characters Meredith Logue and Tom Ripley.


Okay, so I haven't been to Italy - YET. But the Art Gallery's plaza is just several million steps removed. And the light was amazing that day, very, uh, Italian. 

I'm wearing my light corduroy strapless dress with my Calvin & Hobbs suspenders from Bella, Citizen Rosebud, and black tights and my man shoes, which I often wear to toughen up a feminine piece.


Mavis did a spectacular job! My remote control used to be named Dick, but Mavis is so much better. She works twice as hard for twice the pay. She always anticipates my needs.

Below, a closeup of the cool suspenders. I have them on backwards which is rightwards for me, a bit like a halter top. The white "blouse" is a light, soft cotton nightgown, thigh length, with all the pretty eyelet lace trim removed. It's not only long but also very oversized and bunchy, which poufs out the skirt quite satisfactorily. And it spills out the top aided by my heaving cleavage. Heh.


I couldn't have done a better job at sports photography if I had tried. 


I am going to link up with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style, Visible Monday, and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb, #iwillwearwhatilike

Have your clothes transported you anywhere this week? Do tell!! Any romantic laundry happenings you care to share? Okay, maybe don't answer that...


Sunday, 6 May 2018

Courage to be who you are


I love the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland. In particular, I like to sing "If I Were King of the Forest" as sung by the Cowardly Lion played by Bert Lahr. It's a sonic adventure duplicating his vibrato and little doggie woof sounds. In the movie, through a series of adventures, the Cowardly Lion eventually finds his courage. He is a role model.

I've had my share of scary adventures since I started Bag and a Beret in early 2012 - auditioning, schmoozing, modeling, using my tripod in public - and each time I do something new, I feel empowered and ask, What's next!? 

But getting to Bag and a Beret was a step-by-step process. Even though I dressed in things I loved, I loathed having my picture taken, and I didn't really understand how/why other women did it.

First, I launched a street style blog, Culture Serf, which focused on other people. A partial photo of me is featured in the masthead and just that freaked me out.


Then I opened a "blog" called Social Hangover, which was really a website that I updated manually, where I put stories, cartoons, and some art. My archives of that are on a USB stick somewhere "safe" (meaning, I can't find it). No photos of me, no way.

And then I opened a blog called Queen of Canada, where I did the same but added sketches of my outfits, pre-Turniphead days, taking me one step closer to actual outfit photos, although I would have denied it at the time. 


I made the initial drawings in pen, then coloured them in with pencil crayons, then scanned them, and then did touch-ups with a digital airbrush. My beret figured prominently. Again, no face.


That's a cartoon from Queen of Canada below. No disrespect intended, I just find it weird that Canada has a queen and I can't work in England even as a Commonwealth-er. I don't see much "common," or wealth for that matter, heh. 

I also did a series of paintings of the Queen living in the Canadian wilds, as a wandering pioneer, guarding her Corgis from wolves (so sorry to hear that her final Corgi passed recently), rinsing her gown outside her cabin.


At last I included my head but with a blurred face. Rarely would I include my face face. And I rarely wore any makeup at that time - didn't want it/didn't feel I need it - but that might be lipstick in the right photo. And I carried my camera at all times for the street style blog. These were in the sketches.


Social Hangover and Queen of Canada each lasted less than a year. During that time I got a better handle on my camera and tripod photographing my art. But what I was really doing was working up to join Patti's Visible Monday at her blog Not Dead Yet Style and all the other fabulous over-40 women who were having fun with style. 

And then, in early 2012, I was ready. I would soon hit 50 and that whole invisibility thing was really, REALLY PISSING ME OFF! I opened Bag and a Beret.

So here I am. Gimme an audience!! I'll woof, and I'll woof, and I'll roar. 


I've always been a creator/maker and bold in thought and style, but putting myself out in the virtual world required a shift. I mean, once you're out there, you're out there. I'm over it now. Besides, it's too late anyway.

And it's interesting that my current email is actlikeadiva, which, I noticed just now, is clearly an extension of the queen theme. As Cowardly Lion sang, "My regal robes of the forest, would be satin, not cotton, not chintz." Ah, Bert Lahr, he was a brilliant performer.

And next came Instagram. The following video is a fast-forward look at my outfits from my first year there, October 2015/16. I have to thank Sylvia of 40-plus Style and Suzanne Carillo for their encouragement to join. Now Instagram is my most popular social media platform.



So that's my story, my path so far. The key for me these days is unlearning many of the stifling unnecessary rules out there to reduce the clutter on my way forward and translating the scary things into power.

Which leads me to my next point. I have started doing what I call Style Boost Coaching.

Style Boost Coaching

One of the best things to come out of my style blogging has been hearing from a diversity of women about how I have helped them in their own style adventures, not in dressing like me, but adapting some of my ideas into their own style or giving them the courage to make a complete style change. Really, it's the best feeling.

Whether you need a little boost or a big, huge style change, I can give you tips and energy for change learned through my own journeys. It's up to you. But we definitely need to talk in a one-on-one Skype coaching session. Until now I've only done style consulting in real life, sample HERE, but this is a new thing. Come join me. It'll be fun. It may even change your life...?

Click HERE to read more.
And below is my outfit of the week, an orange top $4, Billabong jeans $6 that were custom-dyed by Annie, and a reversible heavy quilted coat/robe $9, all amazing deals from the West Vancouver United Church Spring Flea Market. Again, my personal shopper Yvonne, who found me a cool Moschino suit last time, picked out an Armani dress $18 this time. So good. Can't wait to show you.


AND...
Margaret Manning of Sixty & Me also posted more transcripts of my Skype interviews with her in Sept. about how to boost your style over 50. So far:
  1. Vintage Clothing is Back for Women Over 50: Embrace the Past and Create Amazing Style 
  2. Fashion Over 50: Forget What Others Think and Express Your Eccentricities!
  3. Fashion After 50: The Art of Walking Like a Movie Star 
  4. I Love Floral Tights! Why Fashion After 60 is About Wearing What Makes You Happy
Feel free to comment! You can watch the videos at these links too. These were my very first Skype interviews, so scary but oh so fun too. Thank you again, Margaret! My original post from September is HERE.

And one final thing - I went to the Murakami exhibition at Vancouver Art Gallery as the guest of friends blogger Judith and her partner Handsome, whose joyful "May the Fourth Be With You" outfits stopped people in their tracks! You'll know why if you check out the pics on Judith's Instagram, fancified.ca.

That's all for this time. I'll be linking to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style (thanks for the inspiration all these years) and Catherine's #iwillwearwhatilike at Not Dressed as Lamb when the time is right. See you there.

Have a great week!!!

This post is long - well done on making it to the end. When I only post once a week, I feel like I have to cram it all in. So question: Do you prefer shorter but more frequent posts or longer less frequent posts? I'd appreciate your thoughts on that.



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