Fashion bloggers over 40

Blogger’s Wardrobe is A Colourful Canvas

Colour is something that many women shy away from, especially over 40, but not Sue …

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This 54-year-old blogger from Vancouver, Canada, has a wardrobe that’s bright, cheery, colorful, and wonderfully whimsical. And the most interesting part is she sews a lot of it herself!

Here’s a look at the creative force behind the popular style blog, A Colourful Canvas. Enjoy my interview with this cute redhead and Fabulous after 40 Styleblazer!

Deborah Boland miniDeb: When visitors come to your blog, they can’t help but smile because of all the bright colors and the fun ways you mix them. Where did your love of color come from, and why is the color so important to you?

 Sue: While I don’t know where my love for color came from, I know that it has long been an important part of my life. I was the kid with the mega-sized boxes of crayons, pencil crayons, and felt markers. In fact, I still have a pretty impressive collection.

With age came a broader range of artistic interests, including my current medium of choice….textiles.  As a visual person, I tend to respond deeply to color. My color palette resonates with me and makes me happy; it’s as simple as that.

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Deb: Besides being a lover of color, how else would you describe your style?

Sue: I describe my personal style as classic with a twist. It may not be immediately apparent, but most of my garments are classic silhouettes.  The twist is often my liberal use of color and pattern.  I’m drawn to whimsy, and I enjoy wearing fun, often unexpected, patterns.

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Deb: You are unique because you sew your clothes. How long have you been sewing? Why do you sew in a day and age when there’s so much store-bought clothing for sale in every style and price?

Sue: I started my sewing journey when I was a young girl. I sewed most of my clothing while in my twenties. Although my sewing machine has always been in use, there came a significant period when I rarely sewed garments.  I had fun shopping at thrift and consignment stores; it was instant gratification after all. I began to question the cost, the time, and the potential disappointment of sewing my own clothes.  When I joined the blogging community, my perception shifted. The creativity of others so inspired me.  What was once considered an economical and time drain; became my unique voice? It’s no longer about cost or time spent. It’s an advantageous form of creative self-expression! 

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Deb: How do you choose specific patterns, fabric for your creations (prints, colors, etc.?)

Sue: Try as I might. There is never an orderly chain of events when it comes to my makes. Sometimes I will have a particular idea of what I want to sew; perhaps a coat to go with a dress…I might choose a pattern quickly but then find the search for the perfect fabric daunting. While the hunt is on, I inevitably come across beautiful fabric that is completely unsuitable for the coat, but the fabric that I must-have nonetheless. I may not know exactly what I want to make, so it gets added to my stash pile. Sometimes, I’ve been inspired by something I’ve seen, and it reminds me of fabric in my stash, yet I find myself spending hours mulling over patterns. I’ve concluded there is no right or wrong method. I just follow my creative muse. When it comes to pattern mixing, I start with my main fabric and then start layering with other fabrics, adding and taking away until it feels right.

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Deb: Where do you find the inspiration for your creations? 

Sue: I find inspiration from so many different sources. Pinterest {my personal rabbit hole}, style/sewing/art blogs, movies, art installations, people, nature….

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Deb: What percentage of your wardrobe is hand-sewn, and what percentage is purchased? 

Sue: Although almost half my wardrobe is hand-sewn, I still wear RTW clothing regularly. I haven’t completely given up the thrill of the thrift store hunt. If I stumble across a garment that fits my aesthetic, and the price is right, I might buy it, but I am more judicious than in the past.  I shop at retail clothing stores pretty infrequently…I might check out the end-of-season sales at Joe Fresh, but that’s about it.  Honestly, if I’m shopping retail, you’re most likely to find me in the shoe department.

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Deb: You wear a lot of dresses. Why are you attracted to dresses, and do you have a favorite style?

Sue: My dres’ obsession is relatively recent.  I love that they are easy to sew and quick to style. When I shopped RTW, I rarely looked at dresses. They were often unlined and almost always poorly fitting. I’m only 5’2,” and it was challenging to find dresses that fit well in the bodice, waist, and length. When I started sewing dresses, I could perfect the fit and add the coveted lining. My favorite style of dress is the classic fit and flare!

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Deb: I sense some passion for retro and vintage. Tell us about that.

Sue: There is definitely a small element of retro/vintage in my wardrobe. Audrey Hepburn, Jean Seberg, Grace Kelly…all inimitable style icons. I like both the simplicity of vintage style and contrarily the attention to detail that seems so evident in many retro silhouettes.    

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Deb: What is your favorite creation to date?

Sue: My favorite creation is often my most recent. If it’s new, I immediately A-List it. Having said that, there are a few makes that are truly favorites. My pink paisley coat is one. The silhouette, the fit, the fun fabric; it feels special every time I wear it! And my favorite dress? I think I have to go in My Midnight in Paris dress. It was fun attempting to replicate the dress from the same name’s film, and I secretly feel akin to Marion Cotillard when I wear it.

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Deb: Is there anything you have sewn that you look back at and ask yourself, “What was I thinking?”

Sue: HA…Yes, and more often than you might think.  I am getting better at discernment, but I still make mistakes. The biggest challenge is choosing the right pattern. I have to look past the willowy 6’ model on the pattern jacket and imagine how it will look on me. A ‘What was I thinking?’ moment is usually a combination of poor pattern choice, inappropriate fabric, and questionable fit.  One of my first dresses on my blog turned out to be a WWIT. The floral pattern was really too big, the pattern placement laughable, and it was a questionable fabrication for the pattern. That dress has since been donated.

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Deb: What’s your style challenge, and how do you get around it?

Sue: I perceive my height as my style challenge. I’m short. I have a tiny window when it comes to flattering hem lengths. I have to be mindful of scale and volume or risk looking frumpy. I absolutely do not always get it right, but I keep trying.    

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Deb: What’s the best compliment you have ever received?

Sue: Any, and every, a compliment is greatly appreciated. I can’t think of the best compliment, but when my husband is enthusiastic about making and compliments me on it, it really does mean the world to me.

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Deb: Your confidence comes through in your blog. Best advice for women 40+ trying to find a style that works for them and makes them feel confident?

Sue: One bit of advice would be not to try too hard. When I began to let go of fashion rules and started to think of my clothing as a blank canvas for creative self-expression, my personal style started to evolve organically. It became less about trying to get it right and more about having fun and enjoying the process.  I also think it’s relevant to mention that part of my personal style journey has included reading a book titled It’s Just My Nature By Carol Tuttle, with a subsequent online course on dressing to better support one’s unique energy profile. The information was of value to me, helping me navigate the overwhelming choices that I routinely encounter in a fabric store.

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Deb: Anything else you’d like to add?

Sue: Thank you ever so much, Deborah, for inviting me to Fabulous After 40 and for asking such great questions. If there were to be one thing I might add, it would be to encourage those who desire to sew to give it a go. There are lots of resources out there for newbie sewers, and you never know…it just might become your passion too.

Deb:  Thanks so much, Sue, for sharing your creative and colorful sense of fashion with us. You are Fabulous!! Ladies, be sure to visit Susan at her beautiful blog, A Colourful Canvas.

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9 thoughts on “Blogger’s Wardrobe is A Colourful Canvas

  1. Sue is an amazingly creative and colourful individual who I have known personally and been proud to call a dear friend for over 50 years. The colour in her creations is most indicative of her character as well. I am amazed each time I see her with what new outfit or accessory she sports!! Following her blog is well worthy of your efforts. The inspiration you will gain will surely change your life ❤

  2. Thank you all for such lovely comments! Deborah…thank you so much for inviting me to Fabulous After 40 and the Styleblazer series!

    Sherry, what a wonderful work environment! You can do classic and colour. Have fun exploring the possibilities!

    Jeannette and B…it’s never too late to get back into sewing!

    Leslie, winter is my biggest challenge. Fortunately, we have relatively mild winters in Vancouver, but I still wear an off-white puffy jacket much of the time. I am slowly building a winter wardrobe, but the majority of winter weight fabrics available in fabric stores are in dark colours.

    Glenda and Kirsten, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

    1. Sue, It’s a pleasure having you here at Fabulous After 40. I love color and I’ve enjoyed seeing the way you combine different hues. Just lovely! Cheers, Deborah

  3. Oh dear Sue, I adore you and your fabulous outfits, with all these colours you are exactly up my alley. Congrats on the feature. Much love, Kirsten xx

  4. Thank you for showing this fabulous woman and her beautiful wardrobe! I am an over 50 woman who works in a Special Needs Preschool. Children love colors and patterns, so I am always trying to combine those colors and patterns with my more classic style, but without looking like “an old lady” or a clown…Sue is a great example of how to do this!!!!!!!

  5. What a beautiful, talented and creative woman! Love her colorful wardrobe and interesting point of views. Reading her interview reminded me of my younger years when I used to sew and I now regret giving it up. Sue is definitively an inspiration and I will definitively check out her blog. Thanks for having her Deborah. Take care! XOXO, Jeannette

  6. Wow, Sue is so very talented! I really like the pink paisley jacket. She seems to have a knack for finding just the right colors and silhouettes most of the time. I have seen some advice that says to take photos of yourself in your favorite outfits, to see if you really like them on yourself, because the camera doesn’t lie. I am feeling the urge to start sewing again, after a hiatus of about 30 years…

  7. This is one of the best guest profiles you have posted. What a breath of fresh air she is! I’d love to see how she handles her love of color in the dreary cold months…

  8. You are so correct in saying Sue’s blog makes you smile. Her infectious personality leaps through the computer, and her fashions make a true representation of Sue.