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.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Veshoevius Now on Instagram

When it comes to tech I have to say I'm pretty damn slow on the uptake.  However there is hope for me yet.  I recently joined the twenty first century and got myself a smart phone, a Samsung Galaxy.  Not that I know how to use the darn thing properly yet but I'm learning bit by bit.  It has meant I've finally been able to set up an Instagram account, something I've wanted to do for a while, and I'm finding it a lot of fun to use.

So far I've been experimenting with some snaps around my local neighbourhood and have been so pleased with the photos taken on the phone that I've usually shunned using the inbuilt Instagram filters. I'm also excited about the new ability to blog on the run! (As soon as I work out how that works that is!) If you're on Instagram too let me know in the comments. Or you can find me at veshoevius.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Travel Outfit for a City Break

Something seems to happen to people when they become tourists. You know the sort, the ones you see dressed like they are going hiking or mountaineering or walking in the Lake District when actually they are just taking in the sights around a large European city. I often see tourists wearing the sort of gear that would be more appropriate to scale Mt Kilimanjaro rather than take a hop on hop off bus around a chic modern city like say, Barcelona or London or Paris. Did they stop off at the Amazon rain forests or the Congo en route? If not why the hiking sandals and trekking gear?

Don't get me wrong, I fully appreciate the value of being comfortable whilst travelling but do we have to revert to horrible reef sandals, bum bags and a wardrobe exclusively from the North Face or Kathmandu to do so?  My parents are a case in point.  On our recent trip to Spain with them I found that the bulk of their suitcases was dedicated to brand new hiking shoes, fleecy pullovers and track pants and technical outdoor gear.  In short stuff they would never normally wear at home but somehow thought would be necessary purchases for a trip to Europe in which they were hotel hopping in relative comfort rather than roughing it camping - and my parents never go camping!

I think being relaxed and comfortable while travelling doesn't mean having to compromise on your own personal style.  Here are a few pics taken out and about in Barcelona.  While I'm certainly not going to be running around in high heels and a cocktail dress, I don't dress like I'm going to the beach or on safari either, in fact you would find this is a regular off duty look for me in London.

When I get dressed whilst on a holiday in another city I take into account what we are going to be doing and what the weather is going to be like, but I also aim for a look that, although casual and relaxed, will still allow me to feel at ease walking into a church or other place of worship, or a chic restaurant, bar or cafe for a break between tourist stops without feeling like I'd be lowering the tone.

For city breaks I rely on a pair of slouchy silk drawstring trousers I bought from Whistles a couple of years ago which can be easily dressed up or down depending what you wear with them. To cope with variable weather I layer up on fine knit soft cotton tees in different colours from Cos, I pack a lightweight knit cardigan and scarf in my handbag and carry a leather jacket or for when the wind picks up or when it gets cooler in the evening. Strictly no fleece or Gore-tex in my suitcase unless I'm going skiing.

Footwear is a contentious issue.  Nobody wants to suffer sore feet on holiday or be the one who spoils the touring party by complaining they can't walk any further because their shoes are hurting them.  But I just can't wear my horrid old trainers all the time or bring myself to wear the types of comfortable walking footwear I see on a lot of tourists feet.  For footwear I find a pair of low wedge espadrilles is comfortable enough to do a lot of walking in and can cope perfectly fine with cobbled surfaces you find in old European cities.  And while the word Ecco makes my fashion fussy feet recoil in horror I will do a Fit-flop when some extra comfort is required.  For really long periods of walking in the heat I bring a pair of sequined Fit-flops which gives my legs an extra work out at the same time and I'm about to buy a bejewelled pair for my next holiday.

I also never really understand security belt bags or the need to carry a back pack around with enough locks on it to confuse Houdini either.  My own father does this and it drives me mad waiting for him to unlock and re-lock his bag if he so much as wants to get a map or guide book out!  Believe it or not Europe is actually a remarkable civilised place but looking like a paranoid tourist is more likely to make you a target for thieves then if you just blend in.

I've always carried my normal handbag around with me everywhere and never had a problem.  As long as you are a bit streetwise and sensible there is no need to advertise you are carrying anything more expensive in your bags than the locals.  A good sized shoulder bag like this one is enough to fit a map, guide book, a bottle of water, camera, wallet and a light scarf and jumper.  If I'm really concerned about valuables then I leave them in a safe at our accommodation, or I have a small flat pocket bag on a thin shoulder strap which I can wear cross body and separately to my handbag in which to put cash, cards, passport and mobile.

As we visited in late Spring the weather could flip between very hot to quite cool so it made sense to carry an extra layer in the form of a cardigan or jumper in my bag. This time my knit of choice was a lavender cashmere sweater from Uniqlo which squashes up nicely in the bag.

I personally would have felt awkward and self conscious walking around Barcelona in trekking gear and certainly not very good about myself when shouldering up for coffee at the bar next to the chic Barcelona residents on their way to work.  So I prefer to just dress like myself.  Here I am at the end of a morning's sightseeing recharging in a lovely cafe in an upmarket area of Barcelona.  I don't feel uncomfortable and out of place, or even any less sensible than the other Gore-tex clad tourists swarming the city.  Quite the opposite in fact, comfortable and at ease because I'm still dressed like me and that to me is a much nicer way to feel on holiday!

How do you dress as a tourist?  Do you change what you normally wear?

Linking up to Patti's Visible Monday over at Not Yet Dead Style, DC in Style and Monday Link Up at Bon Bon Rose Girls this week!

Silk trousers: Whistles; White tee-shirts: Cos; Pink leather biker: Joseph; Espadrilles; bought in Spain; Bag: Michael by Michael Kors; Cashmere jumper: Uniqlo

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

White Out

Come every summer and eventually the fashion chit chat will turn to the topic of how to wear white this season. White is almost always guaranteed to come down the runway in Spring/Summer collections in some guise or other.

When it comes to summer whites, I have to say I've always been more of the floaty white dress or skirt sort of gal.  But all white in a sharp suit with a masculine edge is another way I'm loving wearing white this season.

Too matchy matchy and I might start feeling like a John Travolta aka Saturday Night Fever wannabe.  So I thought I'd mix things up a bit and wear a white jacket and tee with some off white trousers to play around with shades of white together.  And of course all tones of white go really well together with gold, hence the shoes.

Pretty much all of it is from the flamenco and bullfighter inspired H&M Conscious Exclusive Collection which I loved so much I thought I'd just pile it on altogether for dramatic effect to attend a friend's wedding anniversary celebrations a couple of weeks ago.  Actually when the collection came out in April I managed to snaffle the matador jacket (worn here) and these amazing embroidered shoes.  Everything else had sold out online within the first half hour.  When I visited the Regent Street store in London later that day it had been similarly ransacked.  I was quite peeved because I had wanted to get these matador inspired trousers.

Interestingly most of the styles turned up on Ebay the same day or just after at shockingly inflated prices.  These trousers retailed on the UK site for £69.99.  Ebay sellers were listing it at sometimes twice that!  This particular and rather parasitical species of Ebay seller annoys me even more than the ones who misrepresent or overprice vintage clothing.

I personally refuse to hand over any money for that kind of profiteering racket.  High Street collections are supposed to be about delivering a little more luxury and design at high street prices.  It is fashion at its most democratic and inclusive.  Having a self interested third party wade into the process and make things unnecessarily more expensive defeats the whole purpose of the exercise.

There is absolutely no added value to you or me as consumers to someone simply getting there first and then ratcheting up the price purely for their own benefit and I'm staggered anyone is desperate enough for H&M clothing to cough up twice it's retail value, but believe it or not, I saw some of this stuff getting bids despite the blatant rip off prices the sellers were asking.  So please people, step away from the "Buy It Now" and "Place Bid" buttons.  Do not reward someone slapping on a hefty markup on goods that are already marked up for the benefit of H&M's profit and loss figures.

In such matters the value of patience can pay off.  I checked back regularly online and sure enough, items in my size turned up as more stock was released or returns were processed.  I even managed to order these trousers in a couple of sizes to check which size offered the best fit.  Handy as I can never make it into a store.  Did I attempt to ebay the spare pair at twice the price?  Of course not!  I returned it so it could be enjoyed by someone else without paying over retail because that is the right thing to do!

So take that evil Ebay people! My hope is that all the stuff coming back online went to other patient shoppers like myself rather than the Ebay black market and that it made your black market items twice as difficult to sell!

Linking up to Sacramento's Share in Style at Mis Papelicos where the theme is White and to Sheila's Shoe Shine over at Ephemera.

Also linking up to How I Wear My White over at Everything Just So and The Rich Life on a Budget.

Jacket, trousers and shoes: H&M Conscious Exclusive; T-shirt with bow neckline: Moises de la Renta for Mango

Monday, 14 July 2014

The First Night of Feria

Back to posting more holiday photos from Spain.  I've previously posted on how Spanish women get dressed up in traditional flamenco style dresses for "Women's Day" during the annual feria.  Apart from that one special day the event is as casual or as dressed up as you like.  Some of the women wear frilly flamenco dresses for the whole week but there are no hard and fast rules.  This year we managed to get to feria on four nights out of the week it was running so it meant four excuses for dressing up!  On the first night of feria, as an alternative to the normal overdose of frills and fringing, I chose to mix my white cotton corset and a jaunty floral print skirt as a more modern nod in the direction of Spanish style.

Usually it's hot all through the night so the main considerations when getting dressed for feria are keeping cool and wearing something that allows you to move easily so you can dance endless rounds of Sevillanas with your friends all night.   Choice of footwear is paramount!  When in the feria in Spain do as the Spanish women do, which is to eschew your fancy heels and befriend the humble espadrille or flats.  Not only will you be able to cope with dancing Sevillanas until the sun starts to rise, but you will save yourself the heartbreak of ruining your good shoes.  The entire site is covered in fine yellow sand which quickly covers your footwear in yellow dust and should it rain (believe it or not it does happen!) it quickly turns into yellow mud!  Expect to be dodging horse manure regularly throughout the day too.  It is after all, still a regional horse fair!

I have to admit that I learnt the hard way during a couple of ferias that the terrain was not heel friendly.  The ground is uneven and sandy and by three or four o'clock in the morning after dancing all night in heels and traipsing around from one caseta to the next I found that my feet were completely shredded.  So these days it's flats or an espadrille with a slightly raised wedge heel.  My big tip for going to feria is to get a pair of espadrilles.  Apart from being very comfortable and chic, fabric espadrilles can be found for as little as ten euros in local shoe shops and markets and come in every colour under the sun and in a variety of styles.  If they end up completely ruined after a week of feria at least you won't be lamenting your choice of footwear for financial reasons.

In my last post on the feria I didn't show you the feria lights illuminated at night which is one of the prettiest sights of the festival.  On the first night of feria everyone gathers at the grounds for a display of fireworks that light up the night sky.   When the last of the fireworks have finally faded away the lights are switched on to the cheers of the crowd, revealing a multitude of colourful Moorish arcs lining the grand avenues of the feria and announcing that the festivities are now officially underway.

My final tip for feria is to bring a little light jacket or shawl with you for the walk home as in the early hours of the morning the temperature does tend to drop quite quickly.  You don't want to catch a chill on the first night of feria when there is a whole week of feria fun lying ahead!

Linking up with Patti's Visible Monday at Not Yet Dead Style.

Cotton corset: Chine; Floral Print Skirt: Vivienne Westwood Anglomania; Broderie Anglaise Jacket: old Kate Moss for Topshop; Flip flops: Betts & Betts; Bag: a present from my Mum; Earrings: bought in Spain

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Picnic Outfit


Today I'm joining Jill of Everything Just So and Adrienne of The Rich Life on a Budget for their series "How I Wear My...." and this month's theme is a Summertime Picnic Look.  I usually only get to go on picnics when I'm on holiday in warmer climes.  When we go Spain we often take a picnic lunch to the beach.  We make up some sandwiches with sticks of Spanish bread which soft and white on the inside and crunchy on the outside.  We drizzle them with olive oil, stuff them generously with slices of jamon serrano, ripe tomatoes and some lettuce.  We also pack some fruit and a packet of local biscuits called torta de aceite which are thin rounds of flaky pastry dusted with cumin seeds and sugar.  We also freeze a bottle of water and a refreshing drink (lemon flavoured Fanta is our favourite) the night before to stick it in the bag with the food to keep everything cool in the hot weather.

When it comes to my holiday wardrobe I've always tended to rely on a few favourite bits and pieces every time I go away.  The last few times however, I've made more of an effort to change things up a bit and replace something I rely on too much with something I either haven't worn at all or for a long time. I've had this pastel striped skirt adorned with pale pink flowers in my wardrobe for years and years and it had always been a summer favourite back in the day. 

I realised when I came to pack this time that I hadn't worn it in a few summers.  So it became my beach skirt this holiday and in doing so I rediscovered why I loved it so much.  Not only does the combination of stripes and florals tick the print mixing box in a way that is palatable to me, but the tiny rows of frills with raw unfinished hems is a very pretty and feminine touch.

This is definitely a "girlfriend" skirt, in that my gal pals always go oooh and aaah over it when I'm wearing it, whereas I recall Mr V expressing reservations about it being too girly when I was trying it on it the shop deciding whether to buy.  I bought it anyway!

On this trip I wore it with romantic white summer tops and my choice of holiday footwear was either diamante flip flops, white wedge espadrilles or these very pretty flat espadrilles in a dusky rose lace I found in a local shop.  Very Lanvin I thought, but without the Lanvin price tag!

Head over to Jill's and Adrienne's to check out the other summertime picnic looks!
Floral and striped cotton skirt: very old Jigsaw; Corset top: Chine; Embroidered Bag: gift from Mum; Mother of pearl drop earrings: Brigette Bijoux; Lace Espadrilles: bought in Spain.


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