Festive blues

Angie's happy colour is tomato red. (Well, one of her happy colours, anyway). 

And everybody knows that (one of) mine is blue. 

So here's what I wore yesterday for a walk to campus and a long day of meetings with students. It also fits Angie's light blue and dark red ensemble. 

  • J. Crew cashmere oversized sweater (also not pilling yet after a year -- yay, J. Crew) 
  • Gap velvet "leggings" 
  • Burgundy plaid scarf
  • Aquatalia boots
  • Sparkly brooch that you can't really see
  • Ruby studs & brighter lippie.

Outwear was my Vince Camuto colour block mixed media pea coat (still going strong 3 years in), hat, gloves, and the cranberry red muffler. 

Why did it feel festive? Soft, luxe textures (cashmere, velvet). A bit of red (scarf, earrings, lips). The muffler has big sentimental associations - made by my deceased sister-in-law for me more than a decade ago and makes me remember her in a happier time. 

As for the "leggings" -- they're actually almost identical to the BR side-zip pants, with a similar fit.  (High five, Una, Greyscale, and Merwoman -- I think you said they were more like pants, too, and recommended them to me.) As with the BR side zip pants, I had to size up from my usual GAP/ BR size,  but I will wear them more like ponte pants since that is how they feel to me. They are stretchy but definitely structured. 

I got both blue and burgundy. The burgundy ones creep down on me a bit more than the blue. But both pair work much better on me than typical leggings. 


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K/R/Hem: Have I found my winter-worthy culottes?

I've been interested in trying culottes ever since they first appeared, but didn't have a lot of luck in finding any. Either the fabrication or the colour was wrong or something about the cut didn't work. Admittedly, my search has been more desultory than focused; I haven't ordered from places where returns would cost me money and I've only been able to try a few in bricks and mortar shops. 

Recently I ordered a couple of pairs from Zara. The second pair in Finds (with my new sweater) I didn't care for -- the material feels cheap and the fit was awful on me. 

But these high waisted houndstooth ones might be possibilities. 

Note: these are sized very generously for Zara. Even in the XS they are technically "too big" for me around the waist area but I don't think I would need to alter; it sort of depends how/ where on me I wear them. (If I push them down a bit they fit better; they are still high-waisted, just not quite as high.) But trying them on reminded me of all the fit problems I used to have with higher waist pants back in the 80s. It seems more important than ever to find the right rise (not easy for me), the pants can be badly fitting in more places (waist and stomach as well as hip, bum, and thighs) and in general, it's tough to get things perfect! 

Having said that -- these feel like they fit acceptably well for the (extremely reasonable) price, and the fabric is terrific -- excellent quality, nice drape and heft, and warm. These would work in winter for me with tights, long undies, or hose underneath for extra insulation if required. 

They are a nice fine houndstooth. (I LOVE houndstooth pattern; total sugar eye for that.) 

But...are they the right cut/ shape? The summer culottes Shevia sent me are more flowy and loose -- like a skirt. These are more cropped pant-like, more tailored. 

Please note, I haven't styled these at all. I'm just showing them with a few different cropped sweater options and different footwear. In pics 1 and 2, I have the burgundy boots; in pics 3 and 4 I'm showing an old pair of round-square-toed Franco Sarto knee high boots and my Zara ink booties; in pics 5-6 I have on my La Canadienne tall black boots (I don't care for these with the pants) and my tall grey boots (maybe better?) 

Also, I believe I would need to alter if I keep. The question is, how much to hem?  I have them rolled up to different levels -- more or less one roll and more or less two rolls. Which do you like better? 

Or should I just return them and keep trying? 



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"Poncho" and vest

I had been wanting to try this ensemble ever since Angie featured it a month ago.

But I didn't have cords. And I didn't have a poncho.

I like the look of ponchos on others but they aren't very practical for my climate or my lifestyle, alas. Yet when I saw this oversize, cropped, sleeved turtleneck at Zara, it reminded me somewhat of the poncho shape. 

Also, I wondered if its curving drape might help me wear the cropped sweater-over-a-shirt look a little more successfully. Some of you might remember that I tried that look quite a few times last season with a straight-across-the-bottom sweater and really didn't care for it much on myself (I think I succeeded with a look I genuinely liked maybe once?)

Anyway, it turns out that I do like the curved lines on this sweater -- it seems to flatter in a similar way to the semi-tuck, or is that just my imagination? In any case, it's really comfortable to wear layered because it is so loose on the bottom. Yet because it is fitted at the neckline and on the sleeve it doesn't overwhelm me. 

Wearing with old DL1961 ultra-skinnies that I hadn't been using much. They have a fairly high rise so I decided to crop them, to see if I would wear them more often. I like them this way. (These are my first "designer" jeans and one of my earliest YLF purchases! They're not exactly what's in the Finds but they are similar.)

I also tried a vest outfit with the Gap cropped Sloans. This was also fun to wear.

Thanks for the inspiration, Angie! 


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More puffers

From Danier.

Also tried the white one again.

Interestingly (to me, at least, ha!) Mr. Suz LOVED the white one in person. He hadn't liked it at all in the photos.

The red one is lighter weight despite being longer. It is sportier in person and not as flattering but definitely not bad. All salespeople agreed the white one was best on me. 

But...those leather sleeves. Having said that, believe it or not, the SA says she washes her coats with leather on them and simply treats the leather afterwards with a Danier product. HUNH????


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Puffer Updates

I've been to our local gear store (the place where I got my current parka 5 years ago) and have a progress report. 

First, be proud of me, friends. I tried on a LOT of parkas! 

Here are a few of the things I learned. 

Canada Goose isn't really cut to fit me. I tried a few styles. Their XS felt too small in most parkas but the S was too large. The best one was the Kensington, but even it felt on the loose side up top. Meanwhile, the hood in both sizes was super tight (not long enough in the neck). Plus, the coats felt quite heavy to me. I think I can cross C. Goose off my list. (Sorry, no photo). 

North Face: the coats I tried were also a poor fit. Granted, this store did not have many suitable styles available. But all those I tried felt too large in the top/ back/ armhole area and just generally bulky on me. I didn't get pictures. Not worth it. 

(Having said that...in the past, I have tried raincoats from them that fit quite well, so it may be I just didn't get the right parkas to try. The store had a number of short jackets in this line but not very many coat options.)

Arc-teryx. Super expensive but looks like value for money if in the budget. The coats are unbelievably lightweight and warm. (850 down and very high quality.) The problem is, the company only makes a few styles each year, and my local store doesn't even carry them all. I tried the Patera parka. (1-3) It is waterproof and windproof as well as down lined. (I'm sorry but I couldn't find a site that would allow me to include Finds.) An amazing coat in its way...but while the fit was considerably better than most I tried, it felt a bit large up top in the armhole/ back area, although that doesn't show in the photos, and the hood is Just. Plain. WEIRD. (As in, I felt like an alien.)  The "ash" or white colour looked like death on me. The dark purplish colour was a lot better. But, you know...dark. And somehow this felt like a "commuter" coat to me. I guess it is the smooth Goretex shell. 

Sorry for the photo quality; the lights in the store were hideous!! 

I also tried a similar Patagonia coat, recommended to me in my last thread. Apologies to those who adore it, but in comparison to the Arc'teryx, it was downright laughable. Nowhere NEAR the quality, and also it weighed a lot more. Worse, it fit me poorly, with bizarre pockets on the hips that stuck out in an unflattering way (and I'm not very "hippy"). And the colour is not as good (for me) in real life as that stock photo might lead one to  believe. 

I didn't bother with pictures of the Patagonia. 

Onwards! A new discovery was "Quartz Nature."  (4) These are in competition with Canada Goose. In comparison to the Arc'tyrx they felt very heavy, and once again I had hood fitting issues, but overall the fit on this red one was better than most of the other coats I tried. It's not my ideal red (a bit too bright and "true" for me; cranberry would be better...) but it's not a definite no. Unlike C. Goose, these coats are actually waterproof, and important factor in an El Nino year in my city where freezing rain will be frequent if the forecasters are to be believed. 

Finally I tried on a Lole Faith jacket. (5-6) This is made by the company that made my first parka. Their fit model is much closer to my body type, evidently. The coats fit me really well. But I'm not crazy about the sportiness of this style and it is not as warm a coat as I am looking for. Plus, this red was too "faded" IRL and not all that flattering I thought. 


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Puffer shopping: Suggestions welcome

I'm in the market for another puffer coat. My Lole puffer (shown in Finds -- though mine has faux fur, not real fur trim) was one of my earliest YLF purchases and it will be going into its 5th season. (Hard to believe!) It is in excellent condition and I have no "need" of a new coat in the sense that this coat is still functional, not too dated, and it keeps me warm. It has sporty features that add to its functionality. I don't tend to wear it for outdoor sports activities.  I could probably use something for that purpose in addition...hence I am trying on shorter coats as well as longer ones. But my primary desire is another everyday walking coat. 

I wear my puffer for months at a time. Between mid to late December until mid-to-late-March I am pretty much limited to this type of outerwear except for special occasions. I walk almost everywhere and wool coats are not warm enough, plus any coat I wear is likely to get covered in slush from passing cars and require cleaning. A puffer can go into the wash (unless it has leather trim, as many of the ones in my Finds do...).

My current puffer is grey.  A lovely slate-blue-grey, but grey nonetheless. Now, I live in a city built from grey limestone, where the winter skies are often grey and the lake and roads are equally grey and the green and gold are gone from all the trees for 6 months of the year. I need some light or colour in my winter life!

I am not sure if I require a full length coat. Maybe, maybe not. I do know that I would like one in a colour or in winter white. I tried on a few the other day at the local mall. These were the best I found. 

The first two are Calvin Klein jackets. Jacket 1 is not down but poly. I don't think it would be warm enough. Jacket 2 is down but too short and sort of stupid for my climate, to be honest. I've ruled it out for sure. 

Then there is the Danier white coat, currently on sale. It is very impractical because of the leather sleeves. Nice quality. Fits very small for Danier -- I had to size up two sizes from my regular Danier size. 

And I've added in Finds some more possibilities available online from Danier or The Bay or other available-to-me-online sources. I would love to hear your thoughts on these and any other suggestions you might have. My problem: No more brick and mortar options, really -- except for sporty coats which might be available at our local Trailhead (that is where I purchased the Lole coat). So I will need to order and try on and probably return.

There is no huge rush for this purchase, so of course I can simply wait and watch and see what becomes available or what goes on sale. I'm not going to freeze in the meantime!  

Notes: there are more Syo & Kyo and Mackage options available on their websites if I am willing to pay for shipping/ returns. Ideally I would like to know the fit before ordering any of those; I can be assured of quality there I think. Price tags to match of course. But if I find something I truly love, then I am willing. 

Canada Goose gets very mixed reviews. People seem to love or hate them. Some are saying the Kensington isn't warm enough at all. They are ubiquitous around here and I'm not crazy about most of the available colours (too bright for me) but could be persuaded. Mr. Suz has one and loves it. And he runs very cold. But he also spends much less time outdoors than I do. I will be able to try on at least some of their styles locally or order in from Sportcheck and return if no good. So those can be options. 



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Trying the trends and copying my YLF friends

Whoo hoo!!! 

Well, judging from today, folks, all I really needed was some retail therapy. I've been way too overloaded with work, travel, and crazy household chaos for the past 3 months to shop. But I had to go to the dentist today and on the way home I stopped at the mall. You know what happened there, ha! 

So, there will be more posts to come with stuff I tried on and am considering and would love your input about. 

These are just the fast fashion copycat items I returned with. Angie's blouse from today's blog post (and it seems there are others of us who have it too). And, Lisa P and Janet's older H&M blouse, which looked so great on me I couldn't leave it on the rack. Plus, I got a scarf to match. 

In all seriousness, it is probably past the "autumn" window for these colours but I know I'll wear it next year as well and it is toss in the washer and go. I had been dying to try the mustard and blue ensemble but couldn't because I had no mustard. Now I do! 

The pants, by the way, are the BR Sloan ankle pants. Love these, too. 

No Find any more for the exact top, but this pattern was very popular there for fall; Celia also has a dress in the pattern! 


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New Fall Proportions (my way)

Hello, lovelies! My apologies for spotty participation here over the last months. Alas, it has been a really tough season for me and my entire family. And I have to confess that I have also been in a bit of a fashion slump.

Why? Well, I've changed my routines a bit. I still mostly work from home (and travel, travel, travel) but I'm also out of the house more often (as a student and teacher, often on the same day). I need super practical casual clothes for the student days because my classes can involve crawling around on dirty floors. (Literally). Meanwhile, we've had unusual weather -- on the whole it has been beautiful, but it's been tough to figure out the appropriate layers some days. Also, I'm a few pounds up from my regular weight. A few of my trusted knits and pants need mending or even replacement. And I think I'm wanting to evolve my style a bit away from "urban prince" to something as yet unknown. Loved Viva's "glam gamine" moniker but I'm not even sure that's my direction. Hard to say. 

All in all, I haven't been feeling fashionably fab. 

Angie's words to the rescue. I could hear her so clearly in my head, warm, decisive, and practical: "Psst, Suz. Time to refresh your denim capsule!!" 

Well, okay, I knew this, and for months I had really wanted a pair of the kick crops. But. I am short, so regular length ones would have been wasted on me. Meanwhile, petite sizes are often a no-go for me due to my longer rise. 

Crackers and BR to the rescue. She mentioned the BR crop flares on somebody's post and when I found them on super sale I decided to give them a try. I went with the petite version (for the bottom length) and because I was doing so, I also went against her advice and sized UP rather than down. Reviews mentioned low stretch and snug thighs on these jeans, and with a "final sale" price I didn't want to be stuck with jeans I couldn't pull on. :(

Well, I am very glad I did size up because I couldn't have managed a smaller size on my substantial thighs. The rise here is more than long enough and they work for my 5'4" height. 

It's not the most flattering look on short-legged me, but with the heel on the boot, the "column of colour" and the longer topper, I think it is JFE? 

I report my process here in the hope it will help somebody else. I have become a very canny online shopper after years on YLF and have pretty good success on the whole. It really helps to read reviews and consider the advice of Fabbers. 

Thanks to LisaP for the Hibou boot recommendation -- very comfy and practical. 

Also new is the BR merino tee; I love merino and it's smart for my climate. Got this on sale as well and it will be a total workhorse. 

Rust doesn't love me, so I am wearing the burgundy/ navy version of Angie's fantastic outfit. 


Lagging in the Leggings dept.

 Remember the great leggings vs. tights debate? 

I came down firmly on the side of tights. For reasons heretofore not entirely understood, traditionally I have found leggings: uncomfortable, fussy (always need to tug them up), too unstructured for my style, and often just plain unflattering (on me). I have tried and failed with the Lysee leggings (constantly crept down and felt too soft for me). Tried Hue. Tried other brands. Nothing worked. 

So, big deal, right? Just forget leggings, already! Problem: I love the look on others, think they'd be super practical and they'd also offer me some variety in my loooooong winter worn with longer tunics—because I don't care for wearing untucked tops with fly front pants.  

Hence, the ill-fated butt-vest.

Let us not return there unless absolutely necessary. :(

And yet, I am nothing if not optimistic and persistent! In making a purchase of a lovely dress from Club Monaco this summer I was perusing some of their sale offerings in order to bump up my order and qualify for free shipping. (Yes, folks, I succumbed to girl math.) On super duper sale I found these Amya leggings (in Finds) and on a whim I tried them. 

Reader, I've kept them. Below are two quick "try on" outfits with NAS items bought around the same time. A few weeks ago, I actually wore the outfit with the purple EF top, but in hopes of extending the leg line, I chose black booties and rolled the leggings to show a tiny bit of skin (as per Angie's blog post). I think it worked reasonably well. 

I like these leggings better than any I have ever had. Why? 

  • They are SIZED, like actual pants. This means they are more proportioned and fit better overall. 
  • High waisted, with a wide waistband, so they are more likely to stay up. (However, they still slip down a bit -- I will explain below). 
  • Fabrication is more "ponte" like and structured. They even have pockets in front. The faux leather strips also make them feel more "pant" like. So I can wear a knit top with them and still feel "pulled together." 

Having said that, they still required some adjusting over the course of the evening. So leggings remain a problem for me, and I think I know why. It has to do with my particular combination of body type modifiers. 

  • I am on the small/ short side -- so overall, I need to take a small size. 
  • I have relatively slim hips but large thighs for my size; they "grip" the fabric and tug it as I walk. 
  • This wouldn't matter so much except I also have a larger bum and a rather long rise. This means that leggings in my size can be a bit short in the rise for me.
  • The thigh gripping combined with the short rise means they are always falling down. 
  • If I buy a larger size they are far too big elsewhere, so that doesn't work. 
  • You can't really alter leggings (except in length) -- unlike pants.

A somewhat better solution to the leggings dilemma for me has been the BR side zip pants in Finds below. They fit small, though, so if you're considering them, be warned. Eep. if you have muscular thighs. That is where they are snug on me. 

Do you have a brand of leggings you love? Anybody else here struggle with bigger thighs/ long rise? Can any one advise on the Danier leather ones? I would love to try those...if they would work...  sigh....  


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