Packing...for Iceland!

I travel so much that I am usually quite calm about it all...but I am packing for Iceland and am in a bit of a tizzy. I leave tomorrow and will be gone for 12 days. The problems are threefold: 

  • Need to fit it all in carry on, plus day pack.
  • Varied activities -- from retreat/ hiking in 7C temps in the far north, to conference in fashionable Reykjavik, with temps probably closer to 12C.
  • Followed by...several days in (probably much warmer -- even up to 25C and humid) Toronto.
  • No laundry. 

I know the trick will be layers...but which ones is the question! For footwear, I have hiking boots, silver sneakers, rainproof booties (for city) and maybe Fitflops for hot springs and Toronto if killer hot while there. I don't know if that is right but it will probably have to do. 

I have one pair jeans, one pair leggings (for hiking only, since I don't wear them regularly), one pair dress pants, one pair rain pants, and several pairs of base layers in wool and poly. 

I have a rain shell. Rain pants. Hat, gloves. I'm also bringing my cashmere shawl. (Not that it coordinates with my rain coat, but whatever.) Question is what level of fleece (not sure I have what would be right -- can make a quick shopping trip this afternoon) -- and/ or should I bring my thin Northface puffer. Or a puffer vest. And/or my dressy lightweight raincoat for laying over a blazer or leather jacket in the city. Maybe I don't need a fleece at all if I take the right woollen sweater to layer under my rain jacket. I typically don't wear fleece because I tend to move from puffer coat straight to raincoat where I live -- we don't tend to need that in between stuff. 

Also trying to figure out how many and what weight of knit tops. I have a lighterweight cotton that can be worn as a heavier top under a jacket, a slightly warmer cotton that can be layered over merino layer, a thin merino that can go over and under other items, and am wondering what else I might need. 

Ack! Sorry for incoherence. Off to do some more planning/ adjusting. Here are a few of the items I'm considering or taking for sure. 

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Apple red? in Montreal

Hello, Lovelies!

I post from sunny Montreal where DH and I have landed for his birthday weekend. :)  That is the good news. That, plus the sunshine, after weeks of cold and heavy rain where I live. 

There is no bad news, or not exactly. It's just that my slight hourglass/ rectangle shape seems to be verging on apple these days, or at least that is how I am beginning to feel as I play with the new proportions. Maybe I'm just coming face to face with my short-waistedness, which lower waists used to disguise. Anyway, I bought this new skirt from Aritzia. Love the colours (red and fuchsia with bits of yellow, white, and blue/black). I can't get a full length photo, unfortunately -- we are in my stepson's place and no full length mirror. But I will put some other elements of the outfit in Finds -- imagine it with the library stamp Out of Print tee (no Find) and my cropped distressed denim jacket (no Find). 

Anyway, I got the skirt to replace my J. Crew A-line which somehow did not make me happy. I wanted a change up from summer tube skirts. It could be that pleats all the way up to the waist are not the best idea. But the fit is nice and it is comfortable and the pleats stay in -- no wrinkles, either, after a day of travel in the car. I am not sure what other tops to wear with it. I did a bit of experimentation in the closet and came up unhappy, but I was very tired during try-on sessions. 

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Spring flowers to welcome Angie home

At the sight of all the lovely Dutch brights from your trip I couldn't resist showing you what I'm wearing today. My mum's tulip twinset with burgundy and bright red.

In reality I had to switch footwear because it started to pour. But rain also grows spring flowers, right?

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Tweed and graphic tee to eat where our PM ate

I had all day teaching sessions twice this week in Prince Edward County. And our weather is insane! On Monday it was really cold so I was wearing booties, wool culottes, leather jacket. Yesterday it was in the high 20s (80s F) and today it was back to 15C, so I tried out Angie's tweed and graphic tee. My shirt is from Out of Print and it is library card stamps -- the students in my writing workshop loved it. 

ETA: I almost forgot!!! I wore the tweedy outfit out to lunch afterward my teaching and it was the place our PM ate at a few days ago! A really great little spot called Agrarian. The server told us that he and Sophie were incredibly warm and gracious and loved the food and the other customers (yes, they kept the place open!) were extremely polite and left them alone, except for two men who went over and introduced themselves. 

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More cropped wide leg questions -- help requested!

So, I am on the hunt for wide leg crops. I'd like a pair in dark wash denim and/ or a pair in linen or some other summery fabric, maybe chambray. Here's my dilemma. Because I'm short legged and crops can be challenging for me to wear without careful styling -- plus, wide-legs can be a bit overwhelming to my frame -- ideally I'd like a higher rise, but I'm worried that is going to prove impossible.

Here's why: I'm long in the rise for my height/ size.

High waisted jeans often give me a "wedgie". I'm having flashbacks!! This was my constant frustration back in the 80s and now that the higher rises are coming back it looks to be happening again. A mid rise seems more "adjustable" somehow, or at any rate, I've never had this problem with any mid or low rise pant. (A low rise can occasionally be too low, and was also "leg shortening" to my body type, but that is a different issue.

I ordered these great GAP high rise wide legs in my regular size and a size up (even though people said they fit large). Guess what? Not on me. The problem is, you guessed it, the rise, which isn't quite long enough in either size. If I size up any more, they will be too big all over.

To describe the fit problem more specifically -- they fit in the waist/ hip. They fit in the bum (from side to side, if that makes sense). It is from the waist to the crotch point that they feel "grabby" and uncomfortable. They look (and generally feel) okay in the front. You would never know there was a problem, looking straight on. But the back rise feels awful.  I have very bad memories of wearing pants like this all the time in the 80s -- now I remember why I wore skirts all the time back then when I could!!

So, does this mean I should simply stick to a mid-rise? J. Crew has a cute chambray mid-rise version I could try, for instance. Or I could order the ones LisaP found (though I'd rather not have black).

Another possibility -- more voluminous ones might work...I used to get a better fit sometimes with pleated trousers back in the 80s or ones that had more drape, or maybe some elastic in the waist for adjustability up and down on the body -- I don't need it for the width but for where the pant sits on me vertically. 

Anybody have thoughts? If you are also long in the rise have you had success with this style yet?

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Shopping report

I had an entire 3 hours of shopping time in the big city today and yesterday, whoo-hoo!!! 

Except it didn't turn out to be quite the spend-a-thon I might have hoped for. :)  I went to Bloor Street for about an hour on Wednesday evening and the Eaton Centre from 10 until noon today. 

Friends, I am learning why I shop online!

In all seriousness, it was lovely to have the time on my own to wander. It was great to be there in the morning today, when everything was quiet and serene. I got great service and had lots of space around me. It was fun to finger things and see colours in real life. 

But apart from my fun new jacket, I found nothing worth bringing home with me. :( 

I had ordered a few things from J. Crew but nothing worked except for a pair of shorts and a metallic tee. Either the size was off or the cut wasn't right or something. I will probably re-order the popover in a different size. It was not available in store. Nor were the Rayner jeans in my size. In fact, almost nothing was available in my size. 

I went to BR in two locations, in hope of finding those fun linen pants LisaP discovered -- no luck. Did not find anything else I liked, either. 

Went into both Zaras (Bloor and Eaton) and liked a few things in both stores, a least in theory -- but they did not have my size. 

Went into Massimo Dutti and saw gorgeous orchid coloured sweaters, etc., but do not need. 

Went to the new M0851 and enjoyed looking but was not crazy about unlined bags. 

Went into Club Monaco and was not tempted by anything. 

Went into Ann Taylor and did not fall in love with anything; went into Loft and tried the toile blazer but I needed a size down (or was between sizes) and they did not have it. It didn't look as good on me as the tweed jacket I ended up buying. 

Went into about 8 shoe stores and could not find bright shoes apart from a few total flats or sky high heels. Lots of lovely neutral shoes but I want a bright colour. 

So, what think you? Was this a fluke, or what? I'm going to get busy with some serious online shopping this weekend!!   :) 

Meanwhile, you see below the sum total of my spring/ summer refresh so far! 

What I want: 

  • Wide leg crop jeans/ pants (either, or more likely, both -- for pants, linen would be great or light cotton).
  • A few short boxy tops to wear with them. 
  • A bright red or fuchsia shoe or sandal, not a flat, not a loafer, but not a high heel. 
  • A red or fuchsia or yellow bag (should be easier to find)
  • A top with interesting sleeve detail
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Booties at last!

You know my saga about the unworn booties sitting in my closet. I  bought five pair this year [cough, blush, count them]. Yes, five. In my defence, these were replacements for older worn ones. 

Two of these proved rugged enough for at least occasional street wear in late fall/ winter on my horrid slushy icy snowy streets (at least on plowed days when I was not walking far). 

But three pair were simply unwearable except indoors. And I did not get a chance to wear the white ones even once -- despite a super high comfort factor on these. 

Well, people, I am here to tell you, it is spring!! Still grey, still no green, still chilly -- but no slush, snow, or sleet in sight. I wore these today to the dentist of all places and already got three compliments! 

Nothing special about the outfit except fun footwear!! Yay!!! 

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Signature...or rut?

So...it's not quite time for my annual closet switch out, but I’m easing into things by washing and putting away the cashmere sweaters and weeding out the items that are worn out or too rarely worn and no longer loved.

I have not bought clothes since December, and December's purchase was pair of snow boots, one heavy sweater to replace a worn-out version, and a necklace. So in truth, I haven’t made any significant clothing purchases since September. I've barely browsed the online stores, haven't looked much in at B&M stores, and don't even glance at the sale notices that file into my junk folder. 

I didn’t need anything, and I didn’t miss shopping. Instead, I got busy with my life (which has been quite stressful) and I wore the heck out of my clothes.

Actually, to be more accurate, I wore the heck out of my at-home uniform. Increasingly, since I started wearing my hair grey, I seem to gravitate to navy/ ink denim and sweaters/ shirts, with a good belt and chunky silver/ pewter accessories. Add fab booties/ boots and coat for when I go out, and a fab bag. (Actual items in Finds)

Yes, I have a striped sweater, a patterned sweater, pink pullover, a pale blue pullover, a grey cardigan, a burgundy cardigan (see Finds)— and I wore each and every one of these multiple times this winter. And yes, there were days when I was glad to be putting on something a bit out of the ordinary. 

But honestly? My navy/ ink stuff is what I reach for 8 times out of 10 for my at-home work wear — and even for my “going out” wear, although in that case it will be supplemented by a 3rd piece like a statement jacket or (gasp)  a navy blazer and more jewellery or a scarf.

My navy/ ink stuff is what I do not tire of. I always feel capable, confident, smart, professional, dramatic, and easy in ink/navy. 

In summer, add white to that, and I’d be fine if I had nothing else — as long as I had a super fun bright or metallic bag and footwear.

What does this mean? I think I’m just in a phase of uniform dressing and that is okay. I still respond to colour but love it especially in bags, footwear, coats, scarves, and jackets. I still like (and get) variety via the cut of my jeans. It is vital for me to have an updated denim capsule. I still like fun statement pieces for special events. And, I still need them. I’m not going to toss anything that I still enjoy, even if I only wear it a couple of times a year.

But this does make me think I might consider investing more in my “uniform” of ink/ navy (with some grey, and with lashings of white in summer) and make it more deliberate, the way Jenn has done.

I am also considering the "French 5" now that I have my essentials more or less in place. 5 fabulous higher quality items per season (I will do four seasons). 

I am trying to think about spring purchases. I definitely want: 

A silver/ pewter sneaker
A new and interesting belt
A new bag

Not sure what else should be on my 5. I need to investigate the state of my spring knits. I do have a few spring weight sweaters but I think I am due for more. 

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Essentials vs. statements -- why bother categorizing?

In Rachy's what is a statement thread, catty asked: 

"At the risk of being provocative, what are people hoping to achieve from this exercise? It seems like there's a lot of confusion and even angst around putting a label on the clothes that are already in our closets. So you decide your khakis are essentials and your scarves are statements, then what?"

It's a great question. One reason I can see for spending some time thinking about this is that (in my case, at least) it helped me conceptualize my closet across varied seasons. Knowing your essentials can help you hone in on a signature style, if that is something that matters to you.

Angie's blog post itself offers another excellent reason: 

  • They are fabulous items to duplicate in the same or different colours.
This is important for those people who tend to duplicate a lot and find themselves confused about why sometimes this strategy has worked for them and sometimes the second item has languished in the closet. Ink and navy merino and cashmere crew neck and boat neck tops (in winter) and linen tees (in summer) are essentials for me. It makes a lot of sense for me to duplicate ink and navy tops in my closet and to get them in fabric weights, because I will wear a navy top as an essential in all seasons. Note -- not just any navy/ ink tops. Only those with certain necklines make the grade. This is important. 

In other words, to be effective defining your essentials requires a broad overview of the closet as well as a kind of granular analysis. If I ignored the neckline issue I might find myself with a lot of barely worn U-neck navy tops, and a feeling of frustration about my lack of ability to create satisfying outfits.  

Still another reason? People's closets tend to be off kilter in one of two ways. Either they tend to over-purchase essentials so that everything is a bit dull...or they tend to over-purchase statements and nothing works together and they wonder why the heck that is. If the first crowd could identify their statement items and within that class, which ones they truly wear and love, they might make smarter purchases of new statements (with less guilt about it). If the second group could identify their essentials, they might buy a few and bring their wardrobes into working order. 

Also, for some people, the analysis is just plain fun. Not an occasion for angst but an absorbing puzzle. 

I'm sure there are other reasons I haven't thought of -- can anyone offer some? 

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Cross-seasonal essentials in 4 season climate

I really loved Angie's blog post on essentials yesterday. For years I have been thinking about this on a season by season basis -- because I have four (or maybe 6) distinct seasons and honestly, what's absolutely crucial in the sense of keeping me alive in one season (the puffer coat) is blessedly forgotten in another!! So I had struggled a bit with the concept. 

Angie's post yesterday was a lightbulb for me because her list struck me as quite different from most I've seen, which are either too granular or irrelevant to my lifestyle or climate. I liked that she included categories of item (this makes sense to me) but also specified a bit within categories. So -- trendy jeans, but not all trendy jeans, some being more statement-like.

And I liked that she identified her essential footwear by colour vs. style. This was a lightbulb moment for me. It's impossible for me to go by style because, well, in my climate I need so many different styles! But I can identify the colour of footwear that is a necessity in my closet. Bingo! 

The idea of categories helped me to see what it is I wear and need to make outfits work across all seasons. I still have a few questions, though, which I'll append at the bottom. 

My list looks similar i some ways to Angie's, no surprise there. It includes:

Accessories:

  • Silver watch
  • Wedding ring/ chunky ring
  • Silver stud earrings 
  • Belt (for wearing with denim)

(Sorry, don't have Finds for all of these, but you get the idea.) 

Pewter/ silver/ grey footwear with about a 2 inch heel (or lower).

Whether sandal or bootie or shoe, a must-have in any season as it bookends hair and blends well with blue denim.  

Ink/ navy blazer

I don’t wear it every day or even every week, but it's absolutely crucial in my closet. 

Trendy jeans

My jeans capsule is really important. I like to incorporate trendy styles. My statement versions right now are flares, culottes, and plaid ones. 

My essentials at the moment are slim straight crops and slim BF crops. 

Ink/ navy turtleneck/ slashneck/ crew tops, in all seasons.

White or light crewneck or slashneck tops, in all seasons.

These come into their own more in summer for me. I don't wear white as often in winter. 

So, a few questions: 

Here are items I considered but did not put into my list of essentials, even though they are backbone items. 

Striped Mariner sweater/ top. I wear one of these several times a week in spring/ summer/ early fall. But never in winter. Then, I tend to revert to a brightly coloured cashmere tee, which serves a similar purpose. Not "statement" exactly -- but "interest" in an outfit. So is it essential, or not? 

Denim jacket -- falls into same category as above. Essential in spring/ summer but not other times. 

White footwear: This is becoming an absolute need in warmer weather. LOVE my white sneakers. But I haven't worn my gorgeous white booties. Weather forbids it, honestly. So...Not an essential, right? 

Silk blouse/ shirt: I don't wear one every week, but without a silk top I am utterly at a loss at certain times -- it is a fallback feel great item that makes me feel more dressed up in denim and that I use in every season. Essential, or not? 

Sheath dress: this is a "special occasion" essential. 

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