Dressing for the Life We Lead...Update: Success!

Apologies for double posting today. But on the theme of dressing for the life we really lead...here's my weather forecast today: 

Kingston, ON

That is - 29, people. For those of you who think in Fahrenheit, about -20 F. 

Lucky me. Today is the day I finally found my new parka! After 3 years of ordering and returning, I think I've got a winner to add to my puffer capsule. My trusty Lole has been a winner in every possible way, but face it, I'm tired of this coat after 7 years of very hard wear. It is not truly worn out but it is starting to show its age (a few worn spots on inner collar, a few feathers coming out now and again). I won't retire it, but I will be happy to have a cousin for it in the closet. 

This coat is the Fermont parka by Quartz. I had tried other styles of theirs, and admired the quality, but sadly, I was between sizes. This one is a snugger fit so I could order my larger possible size and it works perfectly. It comes to about an inch above my knee, a length I like for my walks in the cold. I can layer a jacket under it comfortably (as well as knits). The company is Canadian and sources ethically. The coat can be worn in a variety of ways (it has an inner core liner that you can zip or not, show or not and the fur is removable). It is washable and waterproof. The colour is a soft, greyed navy that will work with my charcoal mitts and boots and will also look great with red accessories if I can find some. DH really likes it. I got it for 25% off the regular price. 

Guess what? I think I will keep it! 

Sorry the colour of the photos is off -- it's due to my lighting, alas. But I assure you, it's a nice soft yet dark navy. 

ETA: selfies in the wild! Wore it outdoors for 75 minute walk. Total success. No frozen parts. ;) 


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2017 Style Review

I just loved Angie's summary of her 2017 style today and all the others that have been popping up on the forum. My turn! 

Looking back on my reflections for 2016, I see I set myself a few goals. Did I meet them? Well...yes...and no. :) 

What I did well

1.  In shopping and creating outfits, I kept my style adjectives in mind

  • Modern
  • Precise
  • Playful
  • Bright
  • Bold

These adjectives still feel aspirational and useful. 

2.  I added fire engine/ true red items to my closet. It was a good year for doing so, since red was trending. I am now developing quite a healthy "red" capsule across several seasons. (Not pictured: a cranberry red wool coat and a few other items in cranberry and burgundy tones that can work in a tonal capsule with true red.)

Admission: I still have not removed the tags from those red Halogen crops. Hmmm. I wonder if those are a shamefully late return in the making, or if I should put them on, already? They were not a big expense but somehow feel harder to wear than I expected! How can I style these babies? 

3. I added a bit of drama via colour (ummm, red, anyone?) and also cut and pattern. Drama scaled to my small size, that is. :) I bought a statement ring which I wear almost daily. I purchased an asymmetrical sweater and a pair of leopard cords, both of which inject a bit of oomph.  With my newly grey hair, silver is my metal. Daily I wear a chunky silver watch, a modern silver bracelet, silver earrings, a silver ring, and either a silver belt buckle or a necklace. 

4. I wore the heck out of dresses and skirts (and crops) in warm weather

5. I aimed for balance between practicality and the dressiness level I prefer. How? Well....

a). In terms of footwear purchases...I stepped away from the pretty but useless booties this fall and put my money into two expensive but practical and attractive boots. (Aren't you proud of me?) I also added a second pair of fashion sneakers in the spring, in silver, which turned out to be versatile and useful.  

b). I added a HEWI -- a casual, sleeved, winter dress. Yes, it's casual, but it's still a dress, and a dress I can wear without feeling overly "precious" even if I am working from home. (Plus, DH loves it -- I think it looks better on me in person than in the pics. It has a very subtle pattern like stars in a night sky...)

c). I added several slim to skinny trousers that I can wear instead of jeans. They're equally comfortable -- yet they instantly increase the dressiness level of outfits. 

d). I increased my jacket capsule. This year I bought two military style jackets (navy and red), one tartan blazer, and one tweed jacket. While I enjoy and wear my 3 longer cardigans, at heart I will always be a jacket girl. There's nothing that makes me feel more like myself than a great- fitting blazer. The jackets I added are easy for me to wear to school, travelling, etc. They are non restrictive and non-wrinkling. 

What didn't work as well

My goal to purchase less was a massive fail. It turns out that I both bought and retired/ donated/ wore out roughly same number of items as last year: 50. (Not the same items, thankfully!!) This represents a turnover of about 1/3 of my wardrobe. It seems like a lot of churn. But is it? I honestly don't know. 

About 20 of these items were replacements for worn-out essentials. 
That's useful information for me. I'm talking truly worn-out, too -- the kind of worn out that can't be mended, cobbled, etc. What that tells me is that I've named my essentials accurately, and they get a lot of wear! 

A few more were for HEWIs that became instant workhorse items. 

What about the other half? Well...is it reasonable to add 25 items per year to evolve one's style? (Assuming the budget to do so, of course).

There are no easy answers.

What I will say in my defence is that I donated/ gifted ethically and the clothes I passed along will get a new and happy life. Most of my retired but still wearable items go to my impecunious step-daughter, who greatly appreciates them. The only ones that don't go to her are the wool/ silk/ leather items (she is a vegan). Last night I gave a leather jacket that I no longer wear due to gold hardware to my hairdresser. :)

Did I shop more ethically? Well, it's debatable. I did buy a few carefully chosen items from local designers and artisans (such as my Icelandic ring and a fab summer dress from Comrags.) But -- as usual --most of my purchases came from Nordstrom, Banana, J. Crew., Club Monaco. Uncharacteristically, I didn't pick up a thing at Zara. 

That's my roundup for the year. Looking forward to formulating some goals for 2018 after a thorough review of the closet! 


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2018 Fashion mantra: Accept Yourself (Long and navel-gazing)

On Lisa's recent year end review, Angie said: "Sometimes, our idea of style and wardrobe perfection isn’t suited to who we are - which makes it an unnatural fit and hard to achieve."

Truer words were never spoken! In fact, sometimes I think the only fashion lesson any of us really needs to learn -- and, alas, the hardest -- is to accept ourselves!

Oh, how we fight that!! In all areas of life. We want to be what we aren't. Or we want our conditions to be what they aren't. Or we want both -- a different self and different conditions. (Here we pause so the author can slink off in blushing embarrassment. Guilty as charged!!)   ;) 

This thought arose in connection with Lisa's comments about a certain pair of navy velvet metallic booties, one of her best purchases of 2017. The minute she wrote about them, I wanted those booties!! 

And, on the face of it, they seem like a reasonable purchase. After all, there's a big wardrobe hole in my closet for a navy bootie. I wore my last navy booties to the ground! Had them re-heeled, and wore them to the ground again. Only passed them along because the insides were starting to fail me. (Editorial note: Those Zara booties put the lie to the idea that Fast Fashion has to be cheap, poorly made or, indeed, "fast." They were one of the hardest wearing pieces in my closet for 4 years.) 

Yet, these booties look more delicate and fragile than the ones they would replace. And after my rash of "fun" and delicate bootie-buying last year (red suede, and silver, and white) -- I'm feeling a bit sheepish. Because despite their comfort, and the fact that they complete my outfits visually like nobody's business, I haven't worn any of those pretty but fragile booties more than a dozen times—apart from YLF selfies! So I am not sure how I could justify this purchase of a similar pair.

The reality is, I'm a person who spends long hours indoors in winter. I don't wear outdoor footwear when I am indoors at home; there, warm, comfortable, and supportive slippers rule. When I go out, I go tromping around in the snow. This is not a garage-to-car-to-mall or shop life that I lead; it is a 10,000 steps a day in all weather conditions walking lifestyle. When I do go out, I tend to go to places where there is no option to remove outdoor footwear and put on indoor footwear, i.e. restaurants, classrooms (where I do not have an office or even a coat rack), meetings in small inadequate spaces rented by nonprofits, etc. So when, exactly, can I wear my booties? I wore the red ones to a party recently, where I was the only person so shod (everyone else was in socks and slippers), and nobody saw them because I was seated at a table most of the time. 

I have to admit, the more I listen to who I really am and where and how I really live, the fewer my wardrobe "fails." The ulta-expensive La Canadienne boots that might seem like a crazy indulgence to some are already up past 60 wears in 2.5 months. Even so, it will take some time to bring their CPW down to the cost of my frivolous fun booties (which were, after all, purchased on sale and did not take a huge chunk out of my budget.) But it's clear where my priorities should lie. 

Still, it's never easy. I really, really want to wear those pretty shoes! (Jeepers, you'd think I could just turn myself into a "bag lady" instead, right? But no...footwear is always where I want to splurge!)

How about you? Do you struggle to accept some aspect of your lifestyle   and how does it affect your style? Do you have advice?

P.S. My boxing day splurge? A new parka. After 7 years, I am bored beyond words with my grey puffer, which I wear day in, day out for months on end. At least it's justified by my conditions. ;) 


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The Bold

I loved the vibrant colours in Angie's ensemble! I didn't measure up to that voltage today, but here's my boldest outfit, in terms of colour, in the past year. Red boots, burgundy jeans, multicoloured (cream, black, purple, orange, red, citron) sweater set, red scarf. Cognac belt. 

As for the ball, I need some time to consider, but if I had to whip an outfit together on the spot out of my Finds, here's what I'd wear! What I like about this outfit -- it's extremely elegant, yet economical, and right in my comfort zone. I'll bet I would feel perfectly relaxed and happy, wearing this. No fuss, no bother. 


Let's dress up! Update -- the outfit

Don't you just love it when people dress up? I've really been enjoying the festive holiday outfit posts on the forum. Your fabulous outfits (too many to name!) have encouraged me to choose more carefully, even on casual days. After having fallen into a bit of a fashion rut this summer and fall due to some personal issues, I'm enjoying this renewed attention to dressing well! 

And what a joy it is to meet someone who bucks the ultra-casual environmental norm! Yesterday I went to see a new specialist, not an appointment I was much looking forward to. Lo and behold, she was smart, helpful, *and* a delight to look at! A true "princess of darkness" as gryffin would say, she was head to toe in black, but not just any black. Hers incorporated texture (in the form of sheer sleeves on a blouse, with raised fuzzy polka dots), shine in her silver accessories and patent pumps, and even some subtle tone-on-tone pattern in a skirt. She'd obviously taken some care with this outfit and looked extremely elegant. Almost as great-looking as a few of the medical doctors on this forum! :)   

I'm really encouraged when I see people making an effort like this and admire them for it. On the darkest day (or longest night) of the year, I am planning to get dressed up tonight for supper at home with Mr. Suz, for no special reason at all except to welcome the solstice. Anybody with me on this? 

ETA: Lighting is terrible but you get the idea. Dangling earrings and necklace are too much, and I'm not wearing the sweater in the Find but a similar vintage cashmere with portrait neckline. 


Season of Bricks & Mortar, Part 2

Part 2, Toronto. I was in the city twice this fall and both times popped into a few shops. My time was short, alas, but the Finds were good. Once again, all these items went into immediate rotation. 

At Club Monaco I got this fun red merino sweater with Edwardian sleeves, an Angie pick. (But I found it before that, she boasted immodestly, ha ha). 

Also, in the "never say never" department -- these leopard print corduroy jeans! I am usually not one for ultra stretchy jeans (I prefer denim with a very low stretch quotient, mostly cotton), nor am I one for calf-sucking skinnies, nor am I one for corduroy -- but I could not resist! I do feel they are more like "leggings" than jeans and even though they are high waisted I feel better with a longer top, perhaps because it breaks up the expanse of, ahem, leopard. But these are cozy, warm, comfy, and super fun.

I also got the pom pom hat on that shopping trip. 

Then, at Banana Republic, the fabulous Black Watch pants, already shown. On an even bigger impulse (because I could not resist and everything was 50% off) I threw in the matching jacket. Note, they call this "Long and Lean" in the description but it is actually the shorter Classic style that hits high hip and can be worn with some dresses. Many would consider this too short to wear with trousers but I am okay with this length on me. It makes a suit! Or can be mixed and matched, of course. In photo 5 I'm wearing with plain blue Sloans tucked into tall boots on a slushy day. With a brooch for some retro silliness -- lunch with an old friend. 

On that outing I also got the fab red military jacket. 

And finally, the Kit and Ace side zip pants (shown with the red sweater). These are replacements for an older pair in black. They are sleek, easy to wear, and terrific for travel. 

I apologize for the lighting in the photos. I do my best to adjust but it has to do with the angle of the natural light -- it works better when I set up the DSLR but that has not been available to me as DD is using. 

Thanks for looking and happy to offer recommendations or advice on any of these items, all of which (I think) are still available except those Sloan pants, which were so fantastic they sold out instantly. 


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Season of Bricks and Mortar: Part 1, Montreal

I'm an online shopper. I live in a small city without many retail options and the few boutiques we have rarely stock my size in the items that interest me. From YLF I've learned to use my occasional big city trips as opportunities to check things out rather than to purchase, because even in the big chains, my size is seldom available in the colour I want, or not available at all in store. So I try things on and (as a rule) go home to order the proper size/ colour.

Well, never say never. This has been my season for bricks-and-mortar and impulse purchases. Aside from a few considered items that I picked up at NAS back in July, I've bought everything in store, in person, during the course of 3 big city trips when I had no intention of shopping at all! And everything I've bought has become an instant workhorse. 

I'll break it up into a few posts. First, in Montreal, at Sandwich (a Dutch chain but a stand-alone boutique here), I bought a HEWI --  a long sleeved casual dress. This is literally a sweatshirt but that is precisely what I need -- something so casual I could wear it to school if I want. I like the drop waist. It has great texture and pockets and in person an ultra subtle print like a starry night. Works with all my longer sweaters and with tall boots or booties.

I also bought this adorable knit military jacket/ sweater. Superb for travel, easy to wear. It has a slight peplum at the back. The only problem is, it's losing its buttons!! I've contacted them to see if I can get replacements; if not, I'll have to find substitutes. 

I also got two gorgeous scarves -- one blue/ grey, and one red/ blue.

Not only that, but I picked up some fantastic new sunglasses, and a pair of La Canadienne boots for everyday casual wear and my walks. I can only get the Find in leather, but mine are black suede and more refined looking than in the stock photo, while still having enough heft for our snowy weather.  (Penultimate photo -- casual Sunday with the boots). 

Oh, and because I can't resist, Mr. Suz with Leonard. They could be cousins, n'est ce pas? 


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Double plaid, side zip pants, & bling

On my way to a casual-festive event and decided to use Angie's inspiration. Double plaid, green and red (seasonal colours -- oh my! -- this is a tiny bit out of my comfort zone, I admit....) and bling again to bring in the shine. 

BrieN's thread on side zip pants was a great one for me; Marilyn directed me to the Best. Pants. Ever. I was sooooooo lucky to snap these up. They were literally the last pair in my size pretty much anywhere (in Canada, at least..). There were none online and none in the Toronto stores or anywhere in the area in my size. The first SA told me they only had them in a 14. Miraculously, I discovered a pair in another part of the store, hiding under some other items, and in my own size. They told me these pants just flew off the shelves, and I can see why. I have Sloans (and even side zip Sloans) from other seasons but none are as nice as this. A really decent weight for my cold weather, nice but not excessive stretch, a smooth side zip, perfect full length on me (they are cropped on the model, of course). I bought them on Sunday and have already worn them 4 times. They're that great. I will keep my eye open for more Sloan side zips this winter in hopes they do a similar fabric in a different pattern. 

The only reason I found myself in the store was Mr. Suz had his eye on the little military jacket that LisaP brought to our attention. (ha!) He thought (correctly) that it would make a long-lasting piece to use for presentations and such -- I like the idea of a bright near my face sometimes and this will travel well because it's a kind of ponte. I could not resist. Everything was 50% off, soo...

Plaid shirt and boots and bling from previous years. Thanks for inspiration, Angie!

ETA, you can't really see much of the shirt here, alas, but I may take off the jacket when I arrive. It is really cold here today and I need layers for now! But my hostess's house may be warmer. (Obviously I will be wearing a massive puffer, etc. for my trip there!) 


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Colour, pattern, texture, shine

Those of you who remember Transcona Shannon will recall that Colour/ pattern/ texture/ shine was one of her mantras. How I miss her!! And her fab outfits. 

I managed to snap a few more pictures this weekend in my travels that just happen to illustrate the principles! :) 

Texture! in the form of a fringe scarf, pom pom on hat (and the hat is cable knit.) Imagine fuzzy gloves, too -- I just couldn't wear them to take the photo. :) Suede booties, but a smooth wool melton coat, smooth stretch wool pants, lightly pebbled but mostly smooth leather bag (with incorporated shine.) Colour in the coat! Subtle pattern in the scarf -- it has white flecks running through it that aren't so visible in the photo. Oh -- and patterned socks!! That actually showed a bit because the pants are cropped. Can't find an online photo, alas...

Pattern/ colour/ texture/ shine in what's underneath...dark cranberry cashmere cardigan, denim shirt with silver and mother of pearl buttons, silk butterfly patterned scarf with tassels, silver accessories. Not visible much here is a cognac belt with snake print sections and silver buckle. 

Wow, two posts in a week! It was easier for me to take photos on the fly than it has been lately at home! 


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True blue and bling

Quick fly by. Sorry I can't be here more these days -- I miss you all! 

Do you have an item in your closet that never lets you down? My David Meister sheath is that item. I know for some it would seem too corporate for dressy wear, but somehow I don't feel that way about it -- the neckline does it, I think. Plus a great fit combined with comfort, so that I never "fuss" in it. I got lots of compliments on this last night from the wait staff and my date and even from a stranger on the subway (commenting on the coat). 

Out for a city dinner with Mr. Suz last night. Had my cashmere sweater with me in case of chill but did not need it in the place. I also wore a great fringed blanket scarf from Ms. Mary!!!. Oh, and sheer grey hose. 

Every item here except the hat is from previous seasons. Didn't matter a bit. 

Sorry for the quick and incomplete bathroom pics! It's that or nothing these days. Wishing you all happy holidays! 


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