Outfit Lab: Help me style my Wild Card

I broke the cardinal rule of shopping. I bought something with no real idea of how I might wear it. 

After saying no to the earth tone trend...it is an earth tone. Albeit a cooler toned "earth." But earthier than anything else in my cool toned closet. 

How it happened: I ended up in another consignment shop. (This seems to be my late Friday afternoon entertainment.) The jacket is by Pink Tartan -- it is a taupe wool herringbone with an overlaid textural pattern in a sort of old-rose-pink. It has gently belled sleeves (another no no for me as a rule -- but I love these ones!) and the fit is superb. It cost me all of $40, tax included. Originally probably over $500. It was one of those items that everyone in the store started ooohing over when I put it on. So, yeah. It came home with me. 

To me it reads sort of like a femme hacking jacket. 

First showing in the cold fluorescent light of the store. Ugh! But even so, it seemed to have some potential. Weirdly, it looks more "yellowish" in these shots than IRL. 

(By the way, those are high rise button fly Gap straight crops from the summer.) 

The overall effect of the thing is a sort of pinkish taupe. It seems to look good with burgundies and pinks. But maybe the original owner passed it on because she couldn't find anything to wear with it! 

It's a good thing I have a high tolerance for pattern mixing because I have almost no plain items that could even conceivably work with it. So here I'm trying it out with whatever I could pull from my closet that might work. I like some of these better than others. 

5-7 J. Crew patterned blouse in burgundy/ berry and burgundy jeans. 

8-11  Vince dress worn untucked and tucked like a blouse. Why not? 

12.  blush leopard?

13. floral surprise? 

14-15. with basic white

16 - 17 How about true red? I thought the style might work with culottes and high waisted wide leg crops. I think so? 

18 -- more pattern mixing...

19-20. -- extreme pattern mixing! 

So. I have two problems. 

1. I think it needs a berry-toned top of some kind. I don't want to spend a ton of money -- any suggestions? Coolish berry tones are great with my complexion and would make an excellent addition to my closet since they'd work well with all my blues and greys. Plus, I really enjoy them. Plum tones could also work really well. I just don't happen to have any. A lightweight knit top would probably make sense. This is a warm jacket, being 95% wool, a genuine high quality tweed. 

2. I don't really have the right footwear for it. I think I need some taupe or some burgundy booties. I'm willing to buy a relatively inexpensive pair to make it work since either could be useful overall. Suggestions welcome! 

I could also see layering it over a skirt or dress in a berry or plum tone. Again, suggestions welcome! 

ETA: forgot my old J. Crew berry cashmere T -- it will work with that in winter. 


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The workhorse you weren't expecting...

We've talked endlessly the wardrobe workhorse. In theory, these should be easy to spot, but sometimes an item surprises us. Who doesn't love a Wild Card Workhorse? It's the fun thing that moves our style forward in an unexpected direction. Like a scarf in a new colour or something in a new silhouette. 

Then there's the supposed wardrobe essential that we put a lot of time and thought into purchasing, in the firm conviction that it's going to be a foundational piece for us. It may even be a HEWI. Flash forward, and for all our planning and forethought, we end up hardly wearing the thing. (Tall heeled boots, I'm looking at you.) 

Apart from the Snow Queen consignment coat and a couple of gear items, I've made 4 purchases since arriving in Vancouver. All were spontaneous and unpremeditated.

Yes, I needed a belt, but I wasn't considering a western style belt. True, I wanted a new bag, but in fact I wanted a structured blue or red bag, not a pale grey knapsack.

Meanwhile, I had no intention of buying black waterproof booties! I have tall waterproof black boots (2 pair, one flat and one heeled), a mid-height waterproof black boot -- and no great love of black footwear! I thought I could do very well without a pair of black booties, thank you very much. 

As for the jeans, yes, I'd been considering the purchase of a pair of black jeans for about a year. But had a flash sale not coincided with a gift card burning a hole in my wallet, I never would have tried these particular ones. 

Well, guess what? The western belt that I didn't think I wanted because I didn't care for the western trend is a workhorse. The pale grey unstructured bag that is nothing like the bag I thought I wanted has not been off my shoulder since I bought it -- it works with everything and has turned out to be extremely practical for my needs and easy to use.

The waterproof black booties are fantastic for all day wear and have been my footwear of choice since I bought them. The black jeans are super comfortable and I've worn them twice a week. 

I'm coming to think that it's the intuitively driven purchase that marks a workhorse more than anything for me. The item seems to call you somehow. 

I saw the bag and the booties and examined them in store...did not buy but kept thinking...two days later was back in the store to purchase. 

Have you had experiences like that? Maybe this is Angie's "organized emotional shopping"? 


Phoenix and Grand Canyon, early November: What to wear?

I'll be in Phoenix for work purposes for a few days in early November. I have to give two panel presentations there and will also be visiting a friend of Mr. Suz. 

Then we're taking a few days to visit the Grand Canyon. 

I have been checking weather and it looks like we might face a range of temps. and conditions. 

Any advice as to wardrobe? I have never been to that part of the world before. 


Climate, location, and your style

Our spectacular weather continues. It's truly amazing. A week or so of outfits, several illustrating the "casual long cardigan" formula, several repeats of the suit and sneakers formula, one black and white with red boots formula, and one white boots outfit. 

It's rare in the PNW to get such a long string of sunny days. I know what I'm experiencing is not typical and any observations I make about how the climate affects my style may soon be put to the test. But so far, a few things I have noticed: 

Specific items that were difficult to wear in my former home are easy winners in this climate and location. Examples:

  • The famous Rag and Bone gilet -- after languishing in my closet for several years, it has become a workhorse item. I may not have been able to wear it when it was trendy but at least it's a "true love" item with longevity so I can enjoy it now!
  • Dressier booties -- you all know my story about those! Getting wear from them all now. Phew! 
  • Any footwear that is closed toe but reveals the ankle. 

What felt "seasonally confused" in Ontario makes a lot of sense here (i.e. a scarf with bare ankles (at times); camisole under a blouse. 

You can see that certain items work overtime in my closet and that I never worry about repeats. 


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"Max Mara" coat, or, a funny thing happened while I was waiting for the bus...

The bus was late. There was a consignment store by the stop and I nipped in. 

There I found this frankly fake, dressy "Max Mara" coat. It has nothing in common with a real Max Mara. More like "Zax Zara" in terms of quality: although the composition is good and the lining is nice and the sewing isn't too bad, the buttons are cheap. Anyway, I put it on. And it was one of those moments when reason flies out the window.

This is a crazy wild card purchase, completely impractical for my Ontario existence but possibly wearable here on the coast. Lightweight wool, poly, with bracelet length sleeves and real, removable fur cuffs. 

I have thrown it on over a few things here -- a slightly dressy outfit, and irregular outfit juxtaposition. It works well with the red boots, of course. 

So...foolish or crazy like a fox? 


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B&W + red boots

I would have preferred a version of this with a houndstooth blazer -- something I've been hunting for, for some time and have recently ordered to try...but for now, gingham shirt, black jacket, denim, new belt, red boots. Wearing to a daytime session at festival. 


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Softened with grey, night and day.

This week is the Vancouver Writers' Festival and that means I'm busy day and night with a wide variety of engagements. I'm not presenting, thank goodness, but I have meetings (with friends and colleagues), cocktail parties and receptions, readings, panel events to attend. I'm on the go from noon until late at night some days this week, and travelling by bus to and from the island where events are held. 

Our weather is absolutely stunningly glorious -- but that means warm days (and warm indoor receptions) along with cold crisp nights. I need to be prepared! 

Today I took inspiration from Angie's outfit formula and softened it a bit with silver and grey in deference to my own softer colouring. For daytime/ indoor reception, I'm going to be in silver foil tee, grey maxi cardigan, new high rise black denim, new booties, new belt, new bag. 

When it cools down, I'll pull this black ribbed cotton turtleneck (hand-me-down from a friend) and my leopard scarf out of my bag. One day, two outfits! 


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Two outfits, 4 days

Example 1, worn 2 days in a row -- once for the whole day (with different footwear for part of the day) and once out for supper the next night. (Only one photo, though.) 

Example 2: worn within the same week. Once for lunch with Mr. Suz, once for a haircut. New hair. I asked for something a bit edgier. Most of the length is gone except in front. Very short on back but a few wisps echoing the wisps at sides and fringe on the hairline. Textured. Still getting used to it. The stylist said "No more mushroom head!" and I burst out laughing. It was terribly outgrown since it had been a while since the last cut!  


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Pattern mixed and tailored

My version today with tartan and stripes. Will add Finds as I can. Internet down now.


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K/R new jeans, CoH reviews

I've had a big credit note at Aritzia for ages but have found it difficult to use. On the weekend they had a sale so I am trying a few items (in Finds). 

One, the off-white sweater, is a straight return. Didn't take pics. Too small in shoulders. (Their fits are often off for me). 

Other items are the CoH Olivia black slim jean, the Babaton cropped sweater, and the CoH Charlotte. 

Olivia is a 99% cotton, 1% stretch as per usual CoH jeans. It's billed as "slim" not a true skinny and I would say that's accurate. It skims the calf rather than gripping it. The fabric feels a lot like the Rag and Bone burgundy Dres from 2 years ago NAS -- soft but not too soft. It's a true dark black with just the tiniest bit of fading on the thighs. It's billed as an ankle jean. Of course on me it is full length, but easily rolled to show a bit of ankle. It has a button fly. The waist is a true high rise -- comes right up to my navel. I ordered in my usual size and the fit feels good. I could go up a size, perhaps, but I suspect they'd then bag out more than I would like. I think these are keepers, no?

The little top is a great colour and...stripes! :) It's also a nice layering weight. But it is very cropped. You can see a bit of skin on the side view. I'd probably only wear with a cami underneath and a topper. But still...not sure I feel okay with it. 

The Charlotte jeans are straight legs. High waisted, also with button fly. 100% cotton. I sized up because there's no stretch, and these fit well. They are very long on me and at full length almost look like baby boot cuts. I would have to have the hems altered. I am not sure I know of anyone who can do it so the detailing remains and of course that would be an extra cost. So I'm not sure these are "the ones."

I really want a pair of high waisted, 100% cotton slim jeans -- either straight or slightly tapered. I am kicking myself now for not getting the Drees, in the spring, which were more of a "mom" jean than a straight, which tends to look better on me -- a little looser in the thigh and a bit tapered toward the bottom. (All gone now, alas). However, these are a really good fit (apart from length) and do feel good. CoH jeans tend to fit me better and have greater closet longevity than any other brand apart from Rag and Bone, and I'm pretty loyal to them as a result. So...I'm open to discussion. ;) 


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