For years now I’ve been searching for a cute little summer dress. Something breezy that falls gently and forgivingly over my floppy bits. I don’t like to show cleavage or too much skin and I prefer cap sleeves to spaghetti straps. If I still had a waistline, I would have a few more options, but that ship has sailed. I’m not crazy about solid colours, other than black which tends to be more forgiving but not the best colour choice for a summer dress. Also, solid colours can be transparent and often a bit too honest in the fit. The above-the-knee girly looks are definitely out for this aging boomer so, my choices are somewhat limited.
As you can imagine and no doubt understand, my search has been a huge challenge. Shopping in Toronto and Florida has yielded nothing. I’ve seen some nice styles online but after I ordered one that came from halfway around the world, I’m wary about doing that again. The fit was bad, the fabric cheap and it was a waste of time and money. What sounds like a reasonable request has proven to be like searching for the holy grail. Basically, I want a colourful sack in a funky, artistic pattern that hits just above the ankle. I’m only 5’3″ tall (I used to be 5’4″) so it’s challenging to find something that doesn’t make me look frumpy and dumpy.
Back in my working days, I wore the classic corporate uniform—smart, tailored suits and dresses or edgy blazers with pants or skirts. Now I’m in the market for a funkier look. I prefer colour but I’m very cautious about patterns or prints as I get tired of them quickly. I prefer to bring patterns in with scarfs or accessories.
As boomers age, we’ve discovered our bodies change shape (ugh!) and styles that used to work for us once upon a time are no longer flattering. We’ve tossed our stilettos and tight jeans long ago in favour of more comfortable clothing but we still want to be fashionable, stylish, and edgy.
The other day I found myself drooling over a new clothing line I found online from Australia called Banana Blue on a boutique site in Melbourne called Havana Blue. It’s reminiscent of the Canadian Kaliyana line which I like but find too overwhelming and a bit too pricey. Kaliyana’s sizes are ginormous so you have to be tall and thin (which I’m definitely not) to wear them properly. In the B.C. (before COVID) world I’d be figuring out how long it would take to get something shipped here all the way from Australia and how much would it cost. How much is the Australian dollar against the Canadian dollar? Unfortunately, the extra five pounds I’ve put on this summer (thanks to Kawartha Dairy ice cream) means I also now have to lose fifteen pounds, not just the stubborn ten I’ve been carrying around and complaining about for years. It’s all just too depressing. I really needed a pick-me-up.
For every fashion problem there is a solution
So I emailed the Havana Blue boutique in Australia who referred me to Banana Blue (isn’t the internet amazing!!) to enquire if they had any retailers in Canada, specifically in the Toronto area. I love the fashion Havana Blue carries, but I needed to be able to try on their clothing and appraise the fit and quality before buying. Australia’s seasons are the opposite to ours, so their winter fashions are on display during Canadian summer. Thankfully, they got back to me immediately and provided the names of several Canadian retailers who carry their line, including a shop called Cora’s at 2236 Bloor Street in Bloor West Village in Toronto, just west of Runnymede subway station. Cora’s also has shops in Stratford and Collingwood, Ontario.
Before you could say ‘Start the car, start the car’, I jumped into my little Escape and blasted off to her shop. She had very few Banana Blue summer pieces left as she’s awaiting fall merchandise but I knew I had arrived at my clothing heaven. The shop also carries other imported lines that favour the architecturally designed, draping styles I prefer as well as funky jewelry to set off the fashions.
I spent a long time in Cora’s going through her inventory. The day I was there, the shop was clearing out summer merchandise, including a lot of black and white which, as it happens, I’m trying to get away from. I did finally manage to find a cotton summer dress, however, in a funky pattern made in Croatia of all places. It was exactly what I was looking for and I absolutely fell in love with it. Adding to my joy, it was on sale. And the dress came with a separate liner which I may replace with a proper slip if such things are still available.
I was meeting my honey and some friends for lunch that day, so I had the sales lady parcel up my boring pants and white blouse that I wore into the shop and walked out to go to lunch wearing the new dress, a new bracelet, and a new geometrically-styled necklace that I’d bought. To add even more to the thrill of my purchases, I remembered I had a pair of yellow suede French Arche shoes at home that I bought more than twenty years ago at the Kaliyana store in Ottawa, which would go perfectly with my new dress. I felt magnificent. I soared. I was invincible.
When I got home and took the dress off to deconstruct what it was about this dress that I loved so much, I realized, the pattern is really very simple. Forty years ago I used to sew a lot of my clothes. Could I make a pattern of this dress and whip up a copy? This dress represents me better than anything I’ve bought in years. I figure two and half or three yards/meters of material (the last time I bought fabric, it was still in ‘yards’), and some sewing notions could relaunch me into the person I always knew I could be. I could make a pattern from my new dress, then head to the fabric shops. Let’s just hope it turns out better than some of my questionable 1970s sewing creations. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Or, maybe I should set up a Go-Fund-Me account (joking!) and book a flight to Melbourne, Australia to visit the Havana Blue boutique in person when travel bans are lifted. I might never leave. Desperate times call for desperate measures. This could be the start of an entirely new Lynda. Do you have a special dress, outfit, or accessory that makes you feel invincible? Tell us about it.