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. 

 

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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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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! 

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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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Double breasted and cutaway

Sorry to be a forum hog today. 

While I was impulse shopping for silver boots,  I decided to go whole hog and try on some coats while I was at it. As I mentioned in the blog yesterday, I adore and have always adored double breasted coats and jackets and military styling in general. 

I have also been searching for "my" long (midi length) coat for ages. It's been a lot more difficult to find than I expected. 

Somehow, without fully intending to, today I found myself trying on the pricey-for-me Mackage Elodie. 

Ooops!!! 

No, Fab Friends, I did not purchase it. It's very maxi length on me and doesn't look at all the way it does in the stock photos.

I don't know if it overwhelms me in scale. It was hard for me to judge because I was so in love with it. ;)

Quality, and fit (apart from length) surprisingly great, and I don't even mind the length, TBH. It's very tailored, nipped at the waist, and cutaway with a back vent, so when you sit, it's not all uncomfortable, unlike many long coats. It is navy, by the way, not black. 

I am wearing it here over jeans, the forum fave sweater (BR ribbed merino) and a not-too-thick blazer. 

I couldn't get perfect photos and I didn't try it with the doubled over collar (as pictured in the stock photo) but did try the collar in a Revere style and also pushed up at the neck (a common thing I do). 

I don't know if this coat will go on sale at all. Hard to say. Temperature wise, it wouldn't really work in Montreal -- too open in the front. But for Vancouver/ Victoria/ Seattle and even Toronto/ New York -- it's good with the right outfit. 

Thoughts? 

I can probably justify it financially if I take on another contract. AND if it is the kind of thing I'll keep in the closet for years. 

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Sock it to me: 1177 Review

(Sorry, bad pun). 

Janet recently started a great thread about socks.

Her timing was brilliant for me because I had just been fretting about my paucity of knee highs. As many of us have noted, these are a new necessity with the wider leg trousers if you live in a cold or even cool climate.

My favourite gear and more-than-gear store (Altitude) always has a Black Friday week sale, so I decided to try out a new-to-me brand of trouser socks. The sale was substantial so I ordered a bunch. They arrived today and I put one pair through its paces (ha ha again...my 10,000 steps in disgusting weather).  I have to say I am very impressed!!

The brand is 1177.

https://www.1177.store/en/

I'm usually an Icebreaker or Smartwool wearer but their knee high selection leaves a lot to be desired, at least in the thinner trouser sock department.

I was skeptical about these, because they are not wool but some man-made fabric.

But...wonder of wonders...what they claim on that website is totally true! Your feet don't sweat or get cold. Or at least mine did not. (These styles would not be warm enough for -20C but that is not what I am talking about.) It was a cold and extremely rainy 6 or 7C in Vancouver today -- felt much colder, to me -- and I wore these with my waterproof Cons. Those shoes have Goretex lining so they sometimes become uncomfortably warm indoors, even with breathable wool socks. Today, though, I felt perfectly comfortable inside and out.

Meanwhile, the fit of these socks is spectacular! There is a right and a left foot! The heel is constructed so that it stays on your own heel (even if narrow, like mine -- and you know, I have SERIOUS sock slippage with most brands). The leg portion does not slip down but it does not feel in the least constricting and it doesn't leave a big red mark on my leg where the top elastic is. The sock is thin enough for dress shoes. And it comes in a ton of patterns and a few plains.

Of course I can't vouch for how well or how long they will wear, but I am extremely pleased so far and would recommend them. I ordered size small for my 6.5 / 37/ 7 foot.

ETA: Thanks for other recommendations, all. A little update -- they are not completely perspiration free -- I guess you can't have a synthetic sock that doesn't sometimes create that problem. And they are not the warmest. But they do fit, stay up, and are washing well. And comfort level higher than some other synthetics I have tried, for sure.

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Style Moniker: For Column

On another thread of mine, Column wrote: 

"Question: If you were to describe a style moniker based on just the sleeveless version of this outfit (no layering) in isolation, what would it be? To Carla`s request for updating YLF profiles: I really don`t know how to describe my style. In images, this one is it! I tend toward Duchess Kate in color, fit, and the best quality that I can afford (not hers, of course), but even she is sometimes too staid for my taste (crew necklines, long sleeves, skinny jeans). I like Jackie O, Audrey Hepburn, and some Bacall—but I can`t wear the latter as well as Carla. And I like to add liberal doses of color and currency to all of these." 

First, thanks for the compliments, Column. 

I put the outfit below for reference. 

Honestly, I don't have a special name for it...I'd say it's Modern Classic. Or maybe "Trendy Modern Classic." Which is sort of a double oxymoron, maybe, but sort of not? 

It's classic, in that it's a simple blue outfit, nothing fancy -- sleeveless top, jeans, booties. 

It's modern in that the classic elements are in modern cuts/ styles -- the peplum top, the cropped jean, the sock bootie. 

It's a bit trendy in that the jeans are the newer wide legs and high waisted. 

My overall goal is to create outfits that are: 

Modern, Classic, Vivid, Practical, and Playful.

My moniker used to be "urban prince" and the name still fits to a degree...but sometimes I veer more feminine than that. Really I think I have a modern classic gamine style, if that makes sense. Purely classic is too staid for me; I need a bit of drama or everything falls flat. Drama usually comes through cut, colour, pattern, or especially, irregular outfit juxtaposition. 

Of the names you mention -- Audrey and Jackie O (to some extent) might be considered gamine (though Kibbe called Jackie O a dramatic classic.) Kate would be classic or dramatic classic. Bacall would be dramatic, probably...

Drama is necessary to Dramatics (duh), to Dramatic Classics, and to Gamines, but expressed in slightly different ways. I know I'll never feel fully myself without a dose of drama -- a long earring adds some of that in a very simple outfit. So does the shawl and the coat and even, to an extent, the column of dark colour. 

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Pantone 2020 the Festive Way

Pantone's classic blue may be a "safe" choice after the radiant orchids, emeralds, and corals of recent years. But for me, it's still "true blue." Yesterday I met a friend for a glass of wine and then we went on to a publisher's party. Blue to the rescue, along with some festive red and my consignment dressy coat. 

Temps were uncertain so I brought a sweater just in case, but ended up keeping it in my bag and simply wearing the scarf as a shawl. The scarf is sparkly -- it was a Secret Santa gift from a YLF friend years ago and remains my fave holiday accessory. I get compliments every time I wear it! (No Find). 

First festive outfit of the season. I like how it came together out of the odds and ends of my closet. Nothing new this year except the jeans. 

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