Gleener Review: ETA Update following Marilyn's report

Several people mentioned a gadget called the Gleener on Angie's recent knitwear post. Having tried and failed with a battery operated shaver (made nicks and holes) and brushes (smoothed but failed to de-pill) and pumice stones (wore holes in some stuff) I decided it was worth an attempt. 

Here's my review. 

The good: 

  • Inexpensive (under $20)
  • No batteries or electricity required. 
  • Comes with several heads for different types of garment. 
  • Easy to use.
  • And...most important...seems to work ...

(cough cough) at least sometimes

The bad:

  • Takes patience to use effectively. 
  • Doesn't really work on poor quality knits and that brings us right back to our basic problem -- we can't tell from the name or the reputation of the maker or even sometimes from the feel, what the quality is like. 

I tried it on four of my sweaters. I used the same medium attachment for all. 

First, on a new-this-year BR cardigan, supposedly merino, but more of a "shetland" type knit, to my mind. It has pilled under the arms and where my crossbody bag goes. It's hard to see the pills on the light grey. But the Gleener did take them off, with a bit of pressure. For the most part. ;) 

Second, an older J. Crew Collection cashmere tee. I think I got this in 2012 or 2013. It is quite high quality and does not pill a whole lot -- mostly just under the arms. I was able to remove a lot of the pills on this one quite easily and it looked better after Gleening.

Note -- this sweater has also become softer/ nicer to wear with washing -- a characteristic I note in higher quality cashmere but not necessarily in the cheaper stuff. That's one reason I've kept it so long. 

Third, my most frustrating sweater ever. You wouldn't have believed how lovely and soft and also interesting (because of the knit's texture) it looked at first. Gorgeous. But....it pilled in the first MINUTE of wearing and is basically nothing but pills. And why does this frustrate me so much? Because it happens to be a hugely useful item for me and I can't get rid of it! (Normally it is active/ loungewear for me now, but I wore it on my recent Spain trip, for instance, even though it is a mess, because it is just that versatile, lightweight, and warm.) Anyway. I don't think you can see much difference between the befores and afters here and Gleening, while it collected a lot of fuzz and pills, made no appreciable difference to the look of the thing. Not worth the effort and bother. 

Fourth, my older Pure Amici cardigan. It is well loved and much worn. It's very soft cashmere and has pilled a fair bit over the years. The Gleener worked quite well on this one, too. 

I'm not sure what to deduce from all of this. The J. Crew Collection and the Pure Amici were both higher priced items to begin with, and they do seem easier to maintain in decent shape. But is that always the case? Probably not. 

The first sweater is 80% wool/ 20% nylon. 

The second is 100% cashmere. 

The third is a wool/ cashmere blend. 

The fourth is 100% cashmere. 

Is the Gleener worth it? A resounding maybe. :)   I will keep it and use it...but I won't bother with it on the truly incorrigible knitwear fails. 

ETA: Tried a more robust attachment on my "problem" sweater and although you can't really see it here -- it helped a lot! Looks much better!!

With this update, I would say TRY it if you wear a lot of knits and want to keep them looking nice. It's not a perfect tool but if you experiment with the heads you might be happily surprised. 

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Another comfy casual boot...and some winter footwear observations

Nobody would accuse me of having too few shoes...

My first puchase this year was yet another pair. I saw these Sorels on a fitness classmate and fell in love. They were on sale. And wow, what a terrific little boot! Waterproof, lightweight, warm! Good for a medium volume foot or a narrower foot (I suspect) -- won't work on a very wide or super high volume foot. I do have narrow heels -- one boot shifts a bit (this, however, is story of my life!) but I don't think I'll get a blister; the other foot is fine (a near-miracle). 

These are admittedly on the "athleisure side" but I intend them for coming back and forth to fitness class and running errands; maybe also for daily walks, depending where I'm walking. They come in 3 colourways. 

I just threw them on coming home from gym, which is basically how I will wear them, so....excuse the mess! :) 

Some further winter footwear observations.

1. Like Angie, I bought the Converse flatform, and like her, I can tolerate it...but barely. It is a bit too heavy for long wear. And it's also a bit too flat for me, but not roomy enough for my PF inserts. Which means I don't feel fully supported in it. I have two pairs (mustard and red) and I do wear them a lot (it's a perfect option for my climate) but I've also learned that I do not care for this chunky style with my BF or slim jeans. I only like it with wide legs or flares. It just feels too "boyish" on me. I prefer my BF jeans with a pointed toe or almond toe -- something more refined. Interesting info for future reference. 

2. The Paul Greens are total workhorses. I did have an awful few days of break-in with them due to my narrow heel. But once they softened up -- pure bliss. Lightweight and fabulous. Not waterproof, though, so I baby them a bit. Also, the heel is going to wear down really quickly. I know from experience that I can get a lift put on this type of sole...but then the boot will be considerably heavier. I did it with my La Canadiennes last year and while I've worn those for another season, they are not as comfortable any more. I am really hard on footwear. A shoe I wear regularly is likely to wear out in a season. ;( 

3. For a heel, the EF pump is shockingly comfy. I ended up walking a mile and a half the other night in these when the bus didn't come, and wow -- they were great! This makes me think I really should consider EF shoes more often. They are very pricey but the quality is fab! I forgot to mention these in my comment on the "black footwear" post. I'd love these even better in blue, but am very glad to have them at all. I only own a couple of truly dressy shoes. How lovely when they're actually wearable! :) 

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Essentials revisited: a few discoveries

Angie, thank you so much for breaking your essentials down by category. This was really instructive for me. I've always thought I had a pretty good grasp of my essentials (at least for the past four years or so) but breaking it down this way led to further insights and an actual shopping list!

Here's my post from last year and you will see that many of the categories and specific items remain exactly the same. 

But this year, I've made a few changes and updates.  

First, the usual -- navy tops for a variety of seasons.   I feel pretty well set for these. I include versions from the uber-casual to the more refined, because they provide the "glue" for outfits at various levels of dressiness. (ETA -- I took out the denim because on reflection they don't serve exactly the same function. They might need their own category, though -- because if not "essentials" they are certainly "workhorses.) 

Next, white tops for various seasons. You will see there is a patterned top mixed in here -- that is because I wear it as a white top, pattern mixing at will, and wear it a LOT.  This makes me realize that a plain silk shirt in white would be useful to me. Currently, I don't own one. 

Blue outerwear. Surprise, surprise -- I need more of this! It's my goal to own a capsule more similar to Angie's. I really want a navy trenchcoat, a long navy military style coat, and a better pea coat. (The one I own is boiled wool, from consignment and while I love it and find it perfect for my climate, it does show its age a bit.) 

Highly current jeans: Like Angie, I feel best in slightly "trendy" denim (assuming I like the trend). Here, again, I can see holes. I need a pair of higher rise white wide legs for this spring/ summer, and maybe another pair of white. I still have a couple of older pair of mid-rise white jeans hanging around for use in a pinch, but it's time to start shopping seriously for white jeans that will work. I will also be on the lookout for another pair of higher rise looser straight blue jeans. These are a bit of a HEWI for me due to my leg shape (straights often fit me more snugly than ideal) but I will look. A higher rise BF style might be a better bet for me -- I just bought the Emerson's to see if they will work. 

Blue striped tops: no surprises here. I could use a lighter weight version for summer wear. 

Silver, grey, and white footwear: I don't own as much of this as a person might expect. It turns out that I often let my footwear make the statement, and prefer things that way. Some would even consider silver a de facto statement, but because it bookends my hair, for me it is less "flashy" -- or so I tell myself. :)  Anyway -- the blue striped sandals feel more "statement-like" even though they are blue. My EF sandals will be on their third season and are looking the worse for wear and quite worn down at the heel, so I am on the lookout for a suitable replacement. I will also keep eyes open for navy sneakers or sandals and white sandals. As well as for silver sneakers. 

Here is a surprise category, for me: SHORT seasonally appropriate toppers, blue or white predominating.  In the past, I'd have said "blue blazer" and left it at that. But my beloved blue blazer happens to be a longer jacket, and with the higher waists now current, I reach more often for a shorter jacket. My blazers are actually patterned, not plain -- but I wear them as faux plains. The denim jackets are great for about 6 months a year in my temperate climate and I still prefer the cropped versions (even though Angie tried to get me to go for an oversized one in Seattle -- I wasn't ready.) 

Silver watch and jewellery are another essential and signature category, but I don't have most of those items in Finds. 

24 comments

Question for SYC participants

Hi, everyone! I have a question for those of you who joined the SYC challenge. 

How is it different from usual for you? 

Do you typically buy an item or two every month? Or does "looking"(i.e. online or in-store browsing without purchasing) also count as shopping, and you want to reduce that behaviour, as well? (And if so, why?)  

I'm curious because as a seasonal shopper, I regularly go months at a time without purchasing, just as a matter of course. I do continue to look at things online (mainly in the Finds here) but generally I do so in a mood of pleasant abstraction, without any strong desire to buy the things... even if I like them a lot. I sometimes file away ideas to my list of items I might want later in the year. 

My main shopping months, it seems, are May-June (for spring/ summer). This is late in the season -- I know Angie shops in February/ March -- but so far, I have found I don't really know my needs for spring/ summer things until closer to the time when temps really rise.  I shop again in July (NAS, which for me includes Basics) and September-October for fall/winter. I sometimes refresh knits or gear in January at the post-holiday sales. And that's pretty much it, except if I have a gift card or I need to travel to a place where my existing clothing won't really work. 

I might go into a store and try things on...and if I find a HEWI I might make a purchase between seasons. But it's relatively rare. Even if I do find something I've been longing for, I tend to wait on it if I find it outside my usual shopping window. For example, although I really want a long military style navy coat and loved the Mackage I tried on in November or December (not sure the timing any more) -- I didn't buy it. I might still buy it next year. Wait and see. 

Please know, this is not meant in any way to judge any one or to suggest that seasonal shopping is the only way to go. For one thing, if you're primarily a thrifter, it's important to hit the stores frequently, and in most cases, if you find something great at thrift, you're not going to want to hit "pause."  (My pattern of seasonal shopping might explain why I only have limited success at thrift and consignment, in fact!)

Also, my typical pattern means I tend to buy a lot in a short period of time. (Because, ahem, as you know, I don't exactly have a minimalist wardrobe!) For some, that might feel overwhelming or be impossible to manage financially.

And then there are the people who experience a lifestyle change or significant weight change between seasons and need to get clothing to work in their new environment or for the body they have. 

I've enjoyed reading the posts of all who participated and I see some interesting benefits (depending on reasons for joining in.) Some people took a really good stock of what they had, some figured out new ways to use what they had, some felt good about the financial savings or reduced environmental impact, etc. All of that seems great. 

Anyway, would love to hear from you about your usual shopping habits and how it is different to SYC. 

48 comments

Coats and toppers FTW

I loved today's post so much it inspired me to take a look at my own golden-oldies. Very little in my closet (besides jewellery) is over 10 years because 2010 is when I lost weight and had to start my wardrobe from ground zero. These items are therefore 8-9 years old...but getting close to a decade and no plans to pass them on yet. 

And, guess what? Coats and toppers. :) 

I also have a lot more items that are 6/7 years old, because I did more of my buying in that period, and many items are still in play. But we are celebrating decades here, so...

1. Hilary Radley cranberry coat -- one of my first YLF purchases. Knee length, dramatic foldover collar, mixed wool/alpaca. This is such a lovely coat, I will probably never pass it on. :) 

2. Theory short trench -- gift of another forum member and I still love and wear this coat. Packs like a dream. 

3. Lole Katie puffer. I have worn this coat SO MUCH. I got thoroughly sick of it so it hasn't seen wear the past two years but I am keeping it because it is in great shape and fulfills a job. 

4. Vintage Biba kimono. Really fun piece to wear with sheaths or jeans as a summer topper. 

5. Classic London Fog trench. I wish it were navy, but until the "right" navy one comes along, this is a standby. 

6. Cropped denim jacket from The Bay. Distressed a bit but not too much and nice fading -- I love this jacket. It works really well with skirts/ dresses and higher waist pants/ culottes. 

 

17 comments

Or...True style blends fashion and practicality.

I was going to wear my new 2 piece dress with sheer hose and my silver booties the other night. 

But I was walking and then taking the bus. And it was cold and very windy. So....outfit formula to the rescue. Luckily the venue was quite casual. 

I layered a sweater over the 2 piece and under it, Heatech leggings and wool socks. Stompy boots. Wool coat and hat and gloves. And off I went. Luckily, the venue was quite casual. 

I felt a little bit early 30s in this. 

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2 piece dress for winter -- instant workhorse

Happy New Year, everyone! 

As we've discussed, it can be difficult to predict our workhorses. But now and again, we get lucky and can identify our winners ahead of time. Here's my latest -- a two piece dress.

Purchased with a gift card and on substantial sale, it's from Canadian company Comrags, known for their timeless and original styles and their excellent working conditions for employees. 

I could predict this would be a workhorse for a couple of reasons:

First, a two piece dress! My summer two piece Liberty print dress from J. Crew gets constant wear in the season. I love that I can mix and match the items. Here is one with long sleeves (yay!!) and a midi length skirt (yay again). 

Second, it's blue on blue (ink on navy) and navy is my core neutral, so it works seamlessly into the closet. 

Third, it is easy to wear yet has some interesting design details. Made of a tech fabric, it won't wrinkle and will pack like a dream. The skirt is gored so that it flips out a bit, trumpet style. The top has a keyhole neckline that can be worn open or shut in a variety of ways. It is not binding or constrictive in any way -- as comfy as pajamas! 

Fourth, I own a few more items from Comrags and they never go out of style and rarely wear out -- even with frequent wear. 

Showing it with the new earrings as well. I'm going to wear it out to dinner with friends and theatre. 

Trying it with my longer navy blazer, a moto, a shorter tartan blazer (subtle pattern mix) and grey sweater. Just playing around with what is in the closet. 

Yesterday I wore the skirt more casually, with a turtleneck and opaque tights. It was snowing then raining like mad so I needed coverage. Anyway, it gives an idea of other options. 

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40 comments

Fashion Forward, 2020

Happy New Year, Fab Friends! It's time for a little planning for the fashion year ahead. 

The good news: I more or less achieved my main fashion goals for 2019.  I bought less, shopped intuitively, and updated my gear

(Takes a bow. Now it is time to actually USE the gear, but that is another story, for this year, ha!) 

I also shopped consignment/ thrift. But I wasn't as successful making purchases that way. In retrospect, it's no surprise -- of the items I purchased, 7 were wear-next-to-my-body knits and summer tops (not something I feel comfortable thrifting, by and large, although of course there are exceptions; and 7 were footwear (ditto). That adds up to nearly half the items I purchased. 

I didn't manage to buy much from local designers until the very end of the year when I took advantage of a Boxing Day sale plus a gift card to buy some Comrags items that have yet to arrive. These, I know from experience, will be very long wearing in my closet. The earrings are designed and made by an Indigenous artist whom I'm delighted to support. See Finds 1, 2, 3. The gored skirt and keyhole top (or 2 piece dress) are blue on blue. Available up to XL, about a 16 in US sizes. 

As per my 2019 goal, I definitely wore outfits that were: Modern, Classic, Vivid, Practical, and Playful. I added a bit more playful this year with bright sneakers, plaid boots, a yellow bag, my fuchsia jacket.

Personal FASHION Highlight of the Year (and of the DECADE): Shopping with Angie at the Nordstrom’s flagship. I got some terrific workhorse items but more than that, I had so much fun! It was wonderful to meet other forum members (hi, Annagybe!) and clients (however briefly) and I felt thoroughly spoiled and taken care of.



For 2020: 

I’d like to continue wearing outfits that are Modern, Classic, Vivid, and Practical. But I'd like to move from "playful" to individual or signature and "arty." 

I'd also like to keep my purchases as low as this year's or reduce them — while still leaving myself with plenty of room for play/ experimentation/ freshening up. Focusing on capsules most in need of improvement might be one way to do that, so my first sub-goal will be to identify any capsule in special need of updating. Last year I was well aware that my gear was very old and needed an upgrade; this year, I suspect my occasion wear will need a refresh. 

In view of the environmental impacts of fast fashion (and my own desire for individuality and "arty" outfits) in 2020, I am planning to thrift/ consign as a first resort for certain types of item -- jackets, some coats, skirts, some dresses (esp. occasion wear), and bags. I do believe the future of fashion is circular and I want to reduce my consumption.

Having said that, if I can't find what I need at consignment, or can't stomach wearing used (this holds true -- for me -- for underwear, socks, gear, summer tops, and knits worn next to body as well as most though not all footwear and denim) I won't let that stop me from purchasing at regular retail if the item is a genuine need, but I'll keep in mind the 30 wears guideline before I buy. Fortunately, these "base layer" basics and essentials almost always get far, far more wear in my closet than the arbitrary 30. 

Meanwhile, I will also have 2 capsules to create (perhaps from scratch). 

First will be a small gardening capsule. I'm moving again in the late spring or summer and my new home has a big garden! I am on a steep learning curve with this one and may need to reach out for help. My previous gardens have been in an entirely different climate, and a lot smaller. My time and energy, and frankly, interest are quite limited, but I’ll do my best to be a good steward of the land and try to preserve and protect the native plants here. I am thinking for clothing, those gear trekking pants/ shorts plus tees, hoodies (for cooler temps) and a hat might work in my temperate climate. These won’t count toward my fashion purchases because there won’t be crossover except with gear. I am very open to suggestions from gardeners. 

Second will be bike-ready clothing. One of the downsides of my new location is that it is more suburban than I'd like, so for commuting I'll be getting an e-bike. For adventures, my gear will be fine (with a few additions) but for city driving I might need a few pointers from bike-riding friends! 

Something that concerns me — returns. One reason I was able to keep my purchases lower this past year was that I did return most everything that didn’t feel perfect. But if it only ends up in landfill, who is that helping? This is so disturbing to me. Because I have the luxury of returning in-store, I think I can be fairly confident that didn’t happen with most items I took back. But I would like to shop even more in person…so returns are less frequent. This may be a challenge since I am moving to a smaller city, but I will do my level best. 

Thanks for reading this long post and wishing you all the best in fashion and in everything else for 2020! 

36 comments

Then and Now

Carla started a trend! :)  Thanks for the brilliant idea, Carla. 

A few from my archives. 

1. Very first WIW photo.  June 2011. So...all items except the cardigan and shoes, thrifted. Wearing my worst colour (orange) as an experiment. The outfit was not a success. Even so...some constants: 

  • Cropped pants (I was wearing them even before Angie would tolerate them, LOL!)
  • 3 pieces. 
  • Daytime sparkle! (The top has sparkly threads). 
  • Ecco shoes. (Those slides were soooooo dated at the time. Did I know? Nope. ;) 

2. The updated version: May, 2019. New hair, cooler colours, more flattering neckline, longer cardigan. The top, though, like the first one, was a dud. Wore it only a handful of times -- it kept stretching out and just didn't make me happy. 

3. March, 2012. Mustard bag with blues and cool tones!

4. October, 2012: Fuchsia jacket. This was the "gateway drug" -- cheap as chips from H&M (literally -- $10) as an experiment. I learned that I adored wearing a bright jacket. 

5. October, 2019: Fuchsia jacket and mustard bag! 

6. April, 2012: Stripes, red, and denim jacket. The denim jacket is still in my closet all these years later. It was one of my first YLF purchases and has stood the test of time. 

7. Here it is in July 2019.

8. July 2013: the power of a black jacket, something sparkly, denim, and statement boots. 

9 and 10. Dec. 2019. Ditto!  

11. Jean jacket again, this time with Zara shorts  -- 2014...

12. ...and 2016...

13....and 2019....

I could go on and on and on..I didn't even get to the "big collar coat" photos or the "military detailing coat" photos -- there are a series of those, too.

The constants are clear to me, though. Blue (duh!). White. Brights as accents (mostly red and fuchsia.) Love of a 3rd piece (mostly jackets but cardigans in a pinch). Stripes and some florals. 

Jenni has broken down the number of items still in her wardrobe from pre-YLF days and early YLF days. I don't have any from pre-YLF days since I changed size significantly. But I do have a handful from early YLF days (denim jacket included) and, as you see, many items last for 5 years or more in the closet and get worn either in new ways or the same way....

Thanks all of you for patiently helping me to refine my style and special thanks to Angie for starting me off with a haircut and supporting all my experiments! 

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2019 Style Review: Numbers and Reflections

It's getting to be that time, right? :) 

Here's the Suz review for 2019. 

Purchases 34.

This includes coats, footwear, bags, dressy items, and even scarves. 

It does not include gear, PJs and purely functional items like gloves and hats for outdoors. (Although there is one "outdoor" scarf in my Purchases collection because it is so pretty I might try to wear it inside  if not too hot.) 

2 items are missing because they wore out and I had to retire them within their season. Thank you very much Zara. OTOH, I did get a great deal of wear from them even in that one season, so it wasn't a total waste. I just hate to think of the landfill. 

I made 35 retirements.   

I may be missing one or two items here that I've been waffling about and are in holding but will actually be going out the door soon. In any case, the numbers are more or less equal, which is pretty typical for me. 

Analysis

Of the purchases, one was on consignment. Everything else was purchased on substantial sale, either at NAS, the Rack, or a storewide sale.

10 items (or about 1/3) were replacements/ upgrades for things I was retiring due to wear and/or datedness, often direct replacements. (E.g. silver bootie for silver bootie, higher waist jeans for lower waist jeans.)

I’d class at least 10 of the items as essentials to my style. The rest are statements or completers.

This was the year of fun AND practical footwear for me. Almost all my new footwear makes a big statement. I love it that way and love how footwear can work to update a look. I bought 2 statement booties, 1 statement boot, and 2 statement sneakers! 

My goals for 2019 were:

1. Spend time reflecting on how I can reconcile my “trendy” style persona with my ethical aspirations. Shopping for statement items (and even some essentials) via consignment is one way; patronizing local and/or ethically conscious designers for essentials is another. But what about wardrobe churn? I plan to set aside a weekend just to research, and another weekend to reflect on it and make some plans.

I did this reflection. I resolved to purchase less and try to buy more on consignment. I did well on the first sub-goal— I made 20 fewer purchases last year than the previous year — almost cut my purchasing in half! But I didn't do so well on the second goal. I shopped consignment but only found one item I wanted. That is the nature of it. 

Retired items were either well and truly worn out, or they went to good homes, some to my step-daughter, who values them. 

"In the meantime, I will continue my more-or-less intuitive style of shopping — editing out what’s worn or doesn’t fit or doesn’t please me and adding as I see fit, just observing my patterns without judgement."

Success! And the result was really positive — I think just setting the intention to purchase more mindfully seemed to help.

2. Continue to wear outfits that are: Modern, Classic, Vivid, Practical, and Playful.

I think I achieved that.

3. "Revisit the idea of a work-from-home “uniform” that does not include jeans."

Did not really do this. It didn’t seem necessary in the end.

4. "Revamp/upgrade my gear."

Did that last January and am very happy I did. 

A few favourite outfits from the year. I didn't take a lot of photos, so it is what it is! 

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