2017 Style goals...and a wrinkle

Grab a cuppa if you have time for another reflective post! Herewith, some further reflections on my style in 2016 and goals for the year ahead. 

What did I do well?

  • Got a hair update that adds instant drama.
  • Purchased a few key statement items (gilet, bag, watch, ring) that will have wardrobe longevity.
  • Kept footwear up to date. I spend a big proportion of my budget on footwear and it’s worth it…at least in my mind. (More on that later.)
  • Edited assertively and replenished where needed. A third of my wardrobe was refreshed this year. Purchased and retired/ donated/ gifted approximately 50 items.


What did I wear that made me feel great?

  • Skirts and dresses in warm months.
  • Cropped jeans and trousers in temperate months.
  • New denim silhouette (culottes) and new dress trouser silhouette (culottes).
  • Brighter and/or more saturated colour.
  • Black, ink, silver, white, grey, and patterns incorporating black and white or silver and white. Slam dunk with my new hair.


5 Adjectives to describe my aspirational style:

  • Modern
  • Precise
  • Playful
  • Bright
  • Bold


Goals for 2017

  1. Purchase mindfully. I want to continue to have fun with fashion but want to do it in a way that does not cause suffering for others or our planet. Each of us makes our own accommodations in this regard, but I want to purchase more locally made, more ethically made fashion. Also, I'd like to reduce my purchasing while at the same time honouring my deep pleasure in embracing trends. This is not an easy balance to strike but it is one I want to work towards.
  2. Add more colour (especially red). Brighter or more intense versions of my old favourites seem to be best now. Clearer colours are better than muddier. This will be an ongoing process.
  3. Aim for drama. I need to think about a variety of ways to incorporate this. Cut, style, colour, scale. 
  4. Wear the heck out of my dresses, skirts, crops, culottes etc. in warmer weather when I can. 
  5. Continue to dress practically for my climate and lifestyle but to push the edge towards “dressier” where and when I can. 

Goal 5 is the problematic one.  I already tend to wear wool coats vs. puffers when I can, jackets vs. cardigans when I can, silk shirt vs. t-shirt, when I can (and so on) but, of necessity, I also dress from the ground up. So, practically, "getting dressier" means wearing my dressier footwear vs. my more rugged and practical footwear. Angie suggested I just do it and accept that the footwear will become worn out faster. 

This is a great idea in theory, but people -- see below!! These are my sidewalks on a good day in winter! I cannot bring myself to wear a selection of my precious booties out there (see Finds).  Instead, I'm wearing clumpy snow boots, or at best, weather proof darker boots or motos, which in turn means a more casual outfit overall. And I feel a whole lot less fab. Ugh. :(  If I worked in an office, I would simply take my shoes to the office and wear my boots outdoors. But I work from home, so I wear slippers. Lately I have been wearing some of my booties occasionally indoors, just so they get worn at all. Oh, and I bought another pair of snow boots with good ice grips. Because I need them. Grrrr.....

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"Style is character:" Discuss (Long)

Yes, I've been reading Joan Didion. ;) 

But I've also been thinking about style personae and descriptors, partly for selfish reasons (I was feeling I'd outgrown the "urban prince" moniker) and partly because it's that time of year when we assess other forum members have also been talking about them. 

Angie's current descriptor is "Urban Pretty." At first that might seem like a contradiction. But "urban" does not have to mean gritty and RATE. Here, it encapsulates the sophistication, modernity, and graphic crispness and quickness that is her style; "pretty" describes the softness, femininity, lightness, brightness, and freshness that is an equal part of the overall impression she creates. 

And then there is Staysfit, whose descriptor is "Genuine Composed." "Genuine" speaks to the practical, comfortable, and approachable aspects of her look; "composed" refers to her organization, coherence, and thoughtfulness. 

Here's the thing -- these labels are pretty darned good descriptions of their characters as well as the "surface." I haven't met Staysfit in person but I have enough evidence from her forum participation that she is extremely thoughtful. She is open without being an over-sharer, highly organized, and she labours against sometimes considerable personal odds, yet maintains an enviable serenity, and yes, composure. 

Angie, meanwhile, is vivid, curious, no-nonsense, and exceptionally smart, yet also warm, light, (i.e. not somber), youthfully energetic, and fresh as a spring flower. 

When I asked for suggestions for a new style moniker for myself, I was extremely flattered when Angie offered up "Relaxed Radiance," but at first I wasn't sure it fit. Partly that's because these style descriptors or statements seem more static to me than the style personae, which are characters, who can act, if you see what I am saying...it's the difference between an adjective (e.g. "pretty")  and a noun (e.g. " princess"). I still find that is true. It's easier to ask oneself, in a store, "Is this what an urban prince would wear?"  and then visualize it, than it is to ask "Is this what an urban pretty would wear?" What's "an" urban pretty? It doesn't make sense. 

At the same time, the more I thought about this, the more I thought that the statement or descriptor may get at something even deeper. 

Am I "relaxed" in real life? Um...no. I definitely get stressed out! But Mr. Suz has often told me that the world would never know that --  it's not that I deliberately try to hide it, but it rarely shows on the outside. And I am fortunate that even though I have experienced serious bouts of anxiety in my life, it is not a constant companion for me, as I know it is for many others.

Anyway, as far as style is concerned, "relaxed" could refer to the generally casual nature of my clothes. This arises from real life circumstance. I work from home and live in a small, student-oriented city. But believe it or not, I am usually more "dressed up" than the people around me. The thing is, I'm okay with that. I'm the kind of person who will get down on the floor with the kids even if I'm wearing a dress; I'll wear a silk blouse and tailored jacket, but hop up on and sit on a desktop to give my lecture if I'm teaching just as easily as if I were wearing a hoodie.  This in itself speaks to a certain level of relaxation that goes beyond casual clothing, I think. Maybe it's about being okay with who I am. The grey hair is another indicator. I am who I am. I don't stand on ceremony. I like to dress up, but I'm not stuck up. 

As for "radiance" -- that is of course an extremely flattering descriptor and I'm less able to judge it in relation to myself. I know I'm blessed with a big smile, though, and I also have metallic hair (and often, metallic shod feet) so there's always an element of shine. I am not sure I can parse out the deeper implications of this. 

Moving on from me, me, me  ;)  all of  these style statements or descriptors involve an inherent tension or hint of juxtaposition. "Urban" and "Pretty" don't immediately seem like comfortable companions -- but it's in the disjunct that the style emerges. Ditto for "Genuine" and "Composed," which if you think of it is almost an oxymoron. (Genuine being "natural" and composed being a quality of art.) "Relaxed" and "Radiant" are perhaps less obviously in tension but I think it's still there...relaxed seems to imply a softness? or calm? and radiance is vivid and energetic. 

Anyway. This has become long. If you read this far, thank you for indulging me! And I would love to know your own renewed style descriptors or your style personae, if you have them! And I'd love to know if you think these give you insight into who you are as a person as well as how you dress. 

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New Year in Blue

Happy New Year to all. 

Last night Mr. Suz and I stayed in, cooked ourselves a nice supper, and watched Netflix. But staying home is no reason not to dress up, right? Right. 

It was one of those nights where you try on 6 outfits and nothing feels right. Either the fit was off or the colour felt wrong or the shoes didn't feel right, or who knows what? Even though I wasn't going out and nobody but Mr. Suz and the cat would see me, I was grumpy. 

So, back to the FFB blue sheath. This dress never lets me down. Thank you, David Meister. 

I admit I put on loungewear for the movie. ;) 

ETA: New Year's Resolution -- get the DSLR back from DD and take pictures with that instead of my phone! 

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2016 My Year in Style

I love this time of year for the opportunity it offers us to reflect and to consider where we want to go in the year ahead. Thanks to Angie and others who have started posting your thoughts about this. Your thoughts spur my thoughts and that is a gift. :) 

Here are some of my favourite outfits of 2016 and my reasons for picking them. I apologize in advance for the photo quality of some and also for the length. 

#1 is a spring outfit showcasing my new blue moto jacket, a long sought item that has become a workhorse. It's very soft and pliable, which makes it a good jacket for indoors and out. 

#2 Most of my photos date from after my hair transition. Switching to a silver pixie was the best and most important style decision of my year. As Angie often says, everything follows the hair. I like this outfit because I adore the feel of the dress against my skin (silk) and also the cut.

#3 As with #2, I love how the hair brought new life to an older item. I learned that black and white patterns are now my friend as long as the scale is right. 

#4  This outfit combines new with old (something I love) and showed me that with my natural hair colour I can do higher contrast than I used to find flattering. It was super comfortable in sticky heat. 

#5 I owe LisaP thanks for finding this fun top at the Bay. It was such a hit for me this summer. The over-layer was its own "3rd piece." 

#6  I adore CoH jeans and these are no exception. Silver has become a core neutral in my closet. Grey is very flattering, of course, but I find I need to combine it with white or ink, or else I feel "lowered" in it -- however kind it is to my skin tone. I need some contrast or brightness to feel like myself. Silver amps up the "bright" in grey. 

#7  How could I not feature the controversial denim culottes? They're actually a bit more like a wide leg flare than a culotte, I think. Anyway, I enjoy them. I have successfully worn them with tall boots in the cold as well. Score! 

#8 This may not be high fashion but it is so, so me, and pretty representative of my "at home" or casual travel style. Super comfy CoH jeans (cropped), super comfy Ecco sneakers (walked 10 miles in them that day), older LL Bean Mariner sweater, great bag. Love. 

#9 Hard to see, but I'm wearing a silk shirt (again, the feel against the skin!), burgundy Dres (fit is sublime!), great bag, great booties. Silver belt. Simple but a bit luxe. I had a Theory trench to top it. The day was rainy. 

#10 Aforementioned CoH white crops and Ecco sneakers and a denim shirt in dark blue -- much more flattering now than muddy chambray. 

#11 This was an Annie Lennox inspired outfit that I wore to a WritersFest event -- so much fun. With my grey hair, black has earned a new place in my closet. I still plan to keep it quite minimal, but I won't be shying away from it as much. 

#12 How could I neglect the famous gilet? Love this piece so much, although I have to confess it has not yet had many wearings. Our climate and my casual lifestyle are largely to blame. I'm not worried, since it will have long wardrobe longevity. Wore it with a fave pair of jeans and a silk shirt here. 

#13 This outfit showcases my love of new trends. Finally found a pair of wool culottes that work well. Also combined with older pieces and great new red booties. 

#14 Here's what I wore on Christmas Day -- glammed up denim, as per Angie's ensemble. With my grey hair I find I can wear a wider range of reds, from burgundy through to cranberry (my old favourite), true red and even bright tomato. This one is a bit on the blue side but close to true. 

 Overall...short grey hair adds a bit of drama/ boldness, which seems to call for greater drama/ boldness in kind — either via contrast, depth/ brightness of colour, or cut. So my favourite outfits usually showcased one or more of those elements.

I feel like I need a new style moniker but I haven’t had much luck developing one yet. “Urban prince” seems a bit tomboy for this leg of my style evolution. I considered “glam gamine” (Viva’s) but it seems off, too. I’m more 60s mod than 70s glam. I do love me a great flare jean and a midi skirt, but the old romance of the boho dance has never really been mine.

I'm still tweaking the hair a bit. I haven't quite found the exact style I want for it. A bit longer than its first iteration, and a bit shorter, maybe, than I've been wearing it of late. The most recent cut is close, but not quite right. Suggestions gladly taken. :) 

Thanks for reading and looking! I'd love to hear your thoughts. :) And I look forward to reading about others' style journeys. 

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Happy Holidays!

We celebrate Hannukah in our house as well as Christmas. So this is what I am wearing to wish everyone who celebrates during this season joy and laughter and the return of light. Have a wonderful break!

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How I wear a plaid shirt

Chris's question gave me today's outfit. 

In fact I just took this shirt out of storage. I usually only wear it in true winter because it's pretty warm. But today is one of those warm fall days where layered over a cami it might work on its own with a topper when I go outdoors. We'll see. 

What I might wear, sometime -- with the gilet (too dressy for today's activities) and/or (just for Approprio) with the pink jacket (once I deal with the buttons.) 

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Solution to Churn?

In El Cee's wardrobe challenge, Sterling identified wardrobe churn as a current concern and I know a number of others of us also wish to think about that, especially in light of continued scandals in the garment industry and environmental impacts of manufacturing. It can be hard to reconcile a love of fashion with the aspiration to do less harm. 

Shedev, in her "5 piece" wardrobe may offer a kind of solution, at least for some. 

As I understand it, you break your wardrobe into two main categories: what they call "basics" or Angie would call "essentials" and others might call "core" items.  And "statement" or "impact" or "trend" items. 

Core essentials -- you replace or upgrade these as needed -- throughout the year, whenever your budget allows. 

For each main season you choose up to FIVE new "statement" items or trend items to add to the closet.

How you define "core essentials" or "season" or "statement" is probably up to you -- Shedev outlined how the originators of this technique conceived of them but she has made small adjustments to suit her own lifestyle and needs and I would probably do the same.

For example -- for most people in my climate some kind of bootie would be an essential -- but is only one "essential"? Or do I say that one light coloured neutral, one dark coloured neutral, and one bright are "essential." Do I say one casual and one dressy? Or 3 casual and one dressy? That is up to me, I think. This allows us some flexibility with wardrobe size and permits a certain amount of variety in the closet, which could otherwise become quite boring. 

I think it's pretty clear for me also that sweaters of some kind are "essentials" -- but how many would I call "essential"? 

I don't think there are any right or wrong answers here -- but I do think that perhaps thinking in these terms could help some of us establish baseline numbers for a wardrobe (which we could then test out as practical or impractical over a year or two by tracking wears and happiness factor.) 

Tracking wears shows us if an item is truly getting worn. And tracking "happiness factor" may show us that even if worn infrequently, the item has deep value in our closet. I own several items like this and they are not all statement or trend items. Some of my dresses fall into this category. I don't get to wear them often because of my casual lifestyle, yet they are still core essentials because I could not get dressed for certain occasions without them -- and they offer high happiness factor, which also contributes to their worth in my closet. 

Some people might need to add 10 statement items per season. Others, only 2. There might be years where statement items themselves had all worn out and you would need to replace more. But again, it gives one pathway. 

Does anyone else have thoughts on this? As Shedev pointed out, this system can only work for those who already have a working closet with all the essentials (or most of them) covered -- and can probably only work for those whose style is fairly well defined. 

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Red is Best

Last week I was sick and so I limited my El Cee Fall Challenge to getting my culottes hemmed. Well, they are back from the seamstress and I had a teaching day today. It was a glorious sunny 16 degrees. PERFECT weather for culottes and trying out the new outfit proportions. 

And these Topshop booties, which I could not resist when I saw they had gone on sale at the Bay. Angie mentioned them recently in a post as well. I've always been a sucker for red shoes but have not owned a pair for years. These are winners.  (I added the Nordstrom's Find, too, for those in the US. They look quite different in the pics but are the same bootie. 

Please excuse the wrinkles. Long day of mostly sitting. 

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A few J. Crew reviews

I've picked up a few J. Crew items in the past few weeks and since most are still available I thought I'd offer some reviews. 

The perfect shirt I already posted and CrazyOne has also reviewed it. Lightweight cotton in gorgeous colours -- it is brighter lighter than pictured and flattering to different skin tones as it works for C1 and for me. 

The long downtown field jacket: I was in need of a very casual yet not "gear" coat for warmer weather. This is unlined waxed cotton that is good for light rain but not a complete downpour. It fits TTS; I have the XS and can layer under it. Lots of great pockets. The zipper is a bit hard to work (even with graphite applied) simply due to its being a two-way -- you know how those can be tricky to get going? Anyway, I'm getting better at it with practice. The green is gorgeous but I didn't want the gold hardware so went for the navy. The corduroy collar is really nice. 

The striped cashmere tee. I'm a big fan of these J. Crew tees; I own a Collection version in a pink from several years ago (pictured also but sadly no longer available) which is slightly softer, but even the regular ones are pretty good with a cami underneath. This is my version of a tee shirt in winter since it layers nicely under a jacket or coat and can be topped with a scarf. The grey stripe is fun. I loved the green/ blue, too but decided the grey would be easier for me to pattern mix. 

I'm also keeping the jacket, by the way. I think I can make it work and now I am on the hunt for buttons to replace the gold. If anyone has a good source (Etsy?) please let me know! 

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WIW on our first snowy day

So, the temperature is 16C today -- and rain -- but two days ago it was insanely cold and snowy. I took a tip from Angie and wore the leopard statement ensemble. With my fantastic, fantastic, FANTASTIC Aquatalia Taylors (how do I love those? Let me count the ways), an old BB no-iron shirt, CoH crops, an old BR grey sweater, a BR bag, and my Danier coat. 

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