My essentials

My wardrobe has always been essentials heavy. I find them the easiest items to buy and to identify. It interests me that so many people have trouble with this concept and I wonder why. I suspect it comes more easily for those with a style that leans heavily classic? It might be more difficult if you are an eclectic dresser. 

Anyway, here is my list for 2019 in the hope it might help someone else.
One way I think of this is -- it is a very rare outfit that does not include at least one of these elements.  The ones I pull into play most frequently vary with the seasons --- the white sneakers are a summer essential; the  navy booties, a winter essential, and so on. But if you look back over your WIWs, which items or elements get repeated again and again in different outfit combinations? Which items do you miss when they are in the laundry? Which do you reach for in those "ugh! What shall I wear??" moments? That should offer clues. 

1. Navy crewneck or turtleneck knitwear (for different seasons). (High five, Angie!)

2. Blue and white striped knitwear, or white and blue (for various seasons). (Ditto!)

3. Navy blazer

4. Slim high waisted jeans in blue and in white. (I have and enjoy other jeans but these are the essentials).

5. Long grey cardigan.

6. Denim jackets (esp. in summer — not really in winter at all.)

7. Classic navy blue outerwear. (High five, again, Angie!!) Oh, and I desperately want a military coat like yours. On my list of HEWIs. As well as an upgrade of the consignment pea coat, which is working really well for now but is not "the one." 

8. Silver or soft grey footwear across all seasons. Must have a dressy bootie, a casual bootie, a sneaker, a sandal.

9. White footwear (summer); navy or ink footwear (winter).

10. Silver watch and earrings. Belt with silver hardware.


Gear update and review: MPG (mostly)

One of my goals for 2019 was to update my gear which was a mishmash of stuff, mostly bought at Winner's, and mostly bought years ago. Gear tends to wear like iron but even so, I had some items that had lost their shape/ elasticity, and a few Old Navy leggings that I was forever having to fuss with or they'd fall down—not a fun experience in the gym. 

Lisa P has mentioned MPG to us a number of times and they were having a big sale so I thought I'd try some items out. The sale prices were Old Navy but the quality for many of these items is near LuLu Lemon, although of course I can't predict how well they will wear yet. For Canadian fabbers, especially, they might be a good gear option. 

I also got the purple funnel neck from Old Navy -- it's soft and lighter weight than the MPG one, so they will complement each other. I now have a little "purple/mauve" workout capsule, and a navy one, with just a few black and grey pieces to mix with either -- which is nice because I like purple and lilac but don't really have any in my regular wardrobe. So it feels a bit "special." 


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Suz's annual footwear flip out

Since we're on the subject of climate, this seems like a good moment for my annual footwear flip-out! 

Last year, and every year before that, it was a rant. And there was a reason for that. See photos 1-6 below. All highly typical of Kingston's weather conditions from December to April. Also typical is the mix of grey to sun. Sun is beautiful when it comes...but we get far more grey skies in winter there than sunny days. And, it's on one of the Great Lakes, so it is also windy and damp. Brrrrrrr. 

With the help of YLF friends like Annagybe, Angie, and others, I found some excellent additions for my late winter footwear wardrobe and managed to inject a bit more variety last year. (Thank you!). 


People, I am here to tell you...Vancouver, true, is often wet, and usually grey in winter...(pics 7-11 show my neighbourhood) but unlike in Kingston, a woman can wear ALL THE FABULOUS SHOES most of the time!!! (Okay, not the sandals, but you get the idea.) 

I am so excited!!! I don't have to start with the snow boots! In fact, I now own so many pairs of waterproof or water resistant shoes that I can actually pick between booties, mid-calf, and knee highs, black, taupe, or sapphire, dressy or casual -- no matter what the weather.

And on drier days I have silver, red, cream, and dressier shoes as well!

The weather is absolutely key to this. I have the utmost respect for those on the forum battling the conditions that I battled for so many years. You are fashionistas par excellence! You have my sympathies. 

Another component of the improvement is the fact that I'm in a larger city with more and better sidewalks, and the environmental norm, while very casual, is at least a little less casual than in Kingston. 

Oh the joys. I can't tell you how much easier it is to get dressed! 

#12 shows the water resistant and waterproof "stompier" boots for inclement weather. Can be worn in all kinds of situations, from the sidewalk to the woods. 

#13 shows the waterproof boots and booties (most a bit dressier though photo includes one boot from #12. To add: my taupe Blondos, which I didn't own when I took the photo.

#14 shows all "dressier" booties, which includes one waterproof pair. 

What's the biggest cramp to your own style that weather presents? And what has been your biggest success or revelation if you moved? 


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Playful Pencil with kitties

Proportions look odd in the photo but it seems to look better IRL. I am in desperate need of a haircut and this is what I'll wear! Comfy and easy for a long bus ride. 

I'm aiming for look #2 here. 

ETA also with sheers. Better. Just like Angie said. 


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New house shoes

We don't wear outdoor shoes in our house and the place we are renting has very hard tile floors throughout the kitchen and family room. My previous slippers had worn out so I didn't bring them and my poor feet have been sore and sometimes cold in just socks. So I ordered a couple of Fitflops, the Uberknit slip on sneaker and a Snugg slipper.

Fitflops tend to fit large and wide but there are a few styles that work for me and I wear the adjustable sandal in summer for long walks because it helped enormously with my plantar fasciitis. I was able to get a half size in the sneaker so the fit is much better. Plus, it's the rare slip on that stays on me, due to its style and construction, which is kind of nice.  Meanwhile, the lining of the slipper keeps it snug enough for me (ha ha). And insanely warm!! Too warm for today. (Our temperature is about 11C). 

Not a major "fashion" purchase but for those who need the cushioning, these seem like a good deal at the moment. They come in many colours. 


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2019 Fashion Goals (Long)

Hello YLF friends! Having done my review for 2018, I'm ready to set some goals for the new year. 

First, a review of the 2018 goals:

To do a thorough closet review and edit. Check

2. To wear outfits that are:

  • Modern
  • Crisp
  • Retro
  • Vivid
  • Practical

At the time, Angie observed that retro was a new word for me. It turned out, it wasn't quite me, either, though I did purchase a few markedly retro items (Snow Queen coat, pink tartan jacket).  On the whole, outfits were Modern, Classic, Vivid, Practical, and Playful.

3. To look for statement or luxury items (e.g. jewellery or bags or jackets) from local designers, special vintage shops, etc. 

Check. Two statement purchases bought on consignment.

4. Continue to increase representation of red in the closet!


5. Continue my search for key HEWIs — a white sandal, for example. A bright sandal.

Found white sandal and bright sandal but will be on the lookout for another bright one this summer because last year’s didn’t work out.

Next, in the photos, see some of my favourite outfits. 

The first part of 2018 was incredibly difficult for me in personal terms so none of my outfits date from that time. Starting in around June, life started improving. 

Looking over these outfits, what I see (or what I liked about them): 

Comfortable — no tight waistbands, fussy parts.

Practical — suited the day’s activities and weather, allowed me to walk.

Classic — each outfit has at least one classic or even iconic element, whether it be a denim jacket or a blazer.

Modern — all outfits show the influence of trends, some of them absolutely of the moment and some a few years old but not dated. Plaid, floral print, long cardigans, stripes, oversized scarf, crushed velour, backpack, Fair Isle (sort of), western belt, wide legs, crops, slim high waist jeans.

Neutral AND colourful — my wardrobe is very neutral heavy but I really love a pop of colour.

Playful — from whimsical patterns to wild card statements to sneakers, there is often an element of fun.

Juxtaposition — usually a dressed down element with a dressed up element (jeans with cashmere or silk or velvet, a denim jacket with culottes, suit with tee and sneakers.)

What to make of this?

Angie calls my style “trendy classic” and I guess, if the shoe fits... The question now is do I want to continue in this direction or evolve in a new one? That remains to be seen.

I often flirt with the idea of a strong signature style a la Gryffin and often think I want to move in that direction. And yet, I also don’t, because I playing with trends is part of what I find fun about fashion. Are the two impulses mutually exclusive? I don’t know. Gryffin mentioned “still” as a keyword for her own style, which makes so much sense! But for me, I think the word “movement” would need to take the place of still. I need a dynamic element. I guess that is the mark of a gamine style. 

I have really loved reading Brooklyn’s recent planning posts where she considers a whole mood or theme that she wants to develop. I have never really thought about this — I tend to go with the flow of what appears at retail. That is partly just a lack of imagination, I suspect. And it derives from my need when I joined YLF to build a wardrobe from nothing - I had to do a fair amount of buying at once.

Could I come up with a theme for the year and develop it? That might require developing a new fashion moniker. "Trendy classic" could describe my style, all right, but it's a pair of adjectives, not a moniker (to me). So, what's the moniker. Not urban prince any longer. Hmmm...I wlll need to ponder. 

In the meantime, Goals for 2019:

1. Continue to wear outfits that are: Modern, Classic, Vivid, Practical, and Playful.

2. 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.

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.

3. Revisit the idea of a work-from-home “uniform” that does not include jeans-- given my recent worn out pair! Looking at these Everlane pants (in Finds) - anyone know them?

4. Revamp/upgrade my gear. I got out of the habit of regular workouts for most of the year and want to inspire myself to get. back into them. 

6. Have fun with fashion!! Continue to check out Vancouver's fab consignment stores. Play with colour (esp. RED) and generally have a good time. 

Thank you for reading and I am all ears if you have suggestions or observations that I may have missed. 


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Guo Pei: Photo heavy

Wow oh wow. If you live anywhere near Vancouver or are visiting in the next few weeks, or if this show is going to your city, you must try to see it! 

I went with two friends today and we were just beside ourselves at the intricate artistry of this high couturier fashion. Most items (and especially the platform shoes!) appeared utterly unwearable, but all were inarguably magnificent. I've never seen anything like this. 

Guo Pei was born to Communist Party members during the Cultural Revolution. Which reminded me of Newton's law: to every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. You're going to surround me with drab blue tunic suits and flat cotton shoes for my entire childhood? Well, then, back to the Qing Dynasty  (and 16th century Spain, and the Renaissance church) I will go for my inspiration! 

I was interested to see that she has almost singlehandedly revived the art of hand-embroidery in China. She found a few craftswomen who still practiced it and had them train others and now she employs thousands and continues to advance the craft with instruction and opportunities for practice. The fabrics are almost exclusively silks. Some are heavily beaded with crystals or pearls or copper wire and gold leaf -- it's extraordinary. 

#13 was worn by Rihanna. 

Many photos, I know -- I just couldn't stop! 


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2018 in Review (Long)

Reflections on my year in fashion and style. Very long -- please don't read if it is not your cup of tea! 

By the numbers: 

Bought — 52 items. Here's the entire collection. 

Retired — 62 and also put a dozen or more (if you count bags and scarves and parkas and boots) in holding zone

So I ended up with a slightly leaner but still substantial wardrobe.

I didn’t keep strict track of the age of items I retired but I did track reasons for retirement

I had very few “failed” buys this year, but I did retire a few failed buys from previous years. I wore those items for at least a season and they didn’t go completely to waste, but in wearing them I decided I didn’t like them. (Crop flared trousers, bell sleeved blouse, leopard print jeans, I am looking at you).

Half of what I retired was either worn out (irreparably stained, out of shape, pilled, ripped, worn down, etc.) or didn’t fit properly (in some cases due to weight gain and in some cases for obscure reasons that only became clear on wear — mostly footwear.) I also retired a lot of jeans this year due to low waists that felt dated for my style. I tried to update with mixed results — but that is info for another post.

What the numbers mean: 

After several years of review and tracking, I notice that I have bought and retired approximately the same number of items each year. I guess, then, it is fair to say that given the resources and opportunity, I naturally gravitate toward what Angie classifies as a moderate sized wardrobe. (Currently 130 items including bags, coats, dresses, skirts, trousers, denim, shirts/ blouses, knit tops, knitwear, toppers and all non-gear footwear but not scarves and jewellery or gear.) Also, I apparently like to replace about one third of the wardrobe every year.

This makes a certain amount of sense for someone who lives in a true four season climate, who holds multiple roles, some in the public eye and some very casual, who, ahem, likes clothes and wears the heck out of them, and whose style has been dubbed “trendy classic” by Angie. The classic items last longer in my closet — up to 10 years. But the trendier items get moved along within a 3 year span.

My wardrobe sounds large compared with Jenn’s lean and hard-working closet (117 items, including scarves and gear) and probably small compared to other forum members’ wardrobes.

Still, looking at the numbers, I feel as if I bought an awful lot, perhaps more than I’d ideally like, going forward. I want to reflect on that. 

In context — I was a chronic underbuyer for two decades or more, so really had almost nothing for years. Sometimes I think I’m making up for lost fashion fun now! My wardrobe and dressing is my hobby and a source of genuine pleasure. At the same time, I care about working conditions in the industry and care about our environment and want to think more seriously about how I can honour those values while still indulging my love of fashion and style.  

Further reflections:

Of my 52 purchases, 44 were bought on sale and 4 bought on consignment or second hand. In other words, in 2018, I paid full price for only 4 items! That was not by plan or design — it’s just how things worked out. I’m not sure what to make of it, but obviously buying on sale allowed me to fit more purchases in my (rather flexible) budget. (I say flexible because I set a nominal figure and then if I get a yen to buy more stuff I usually take on an extra contract to pay for it.)

Most frequently worn items (see Finds): CoH Rockets (worn out now!); Gap white GF jeans, Summit pewter chelsea boot, EF silver sport sandal, Plenty grey sweater, western belt, RM backpack in light grey. 

I won’t do “least worn” because many  items were purchased so recently that I don’t know how much I’ll wear them. None of my purchases this year were “mistakes.” I think that's the first time I can honestly say that -- which presumably means I am getting better at buying for my real life and aspirational style and at integrating the two. 

My biggest disappointment was the Franco Sarto sandal. The insole keeps coming unstuck, even though I have tried to repair it. I think I’m going to have to pass that sandal on. The J. Crew tees are just so-so; bought with sales goggles and free delivery in mind but might demote to PJs this coming summer. I haven’t worn the sparkly camisole but it was so inexpensive at $12 or so, I thought it worth the purchase — it’s part of the occasion wear capsule to wear under a jacket and because the straps are adjustable it can be pulled up high enough on the chest to be less exposing than some -- relevant to small chested moi. 

Best summer switch up: Dresses! (In Pics) How I loved switching from shorts to casual dresses and skirts this past summer. I almost never feel “put together” in shorts but always feel presentable in a dress. Thank you, Boden, for high quality dresses and knits!

Best statement purchases (in Finds): J. Crew liberty print 2 piece dress. Versatile, happy, fabulous fabric, fun, pretty, fresh. I adore this outfit. It feels every bit as much “me” as my beloved t-necks, booties, jeans, and jacket formula. Western belt — bowing to Gryffin, who’d been urging this on me (correctly!!) for years.

Best wildcards: Two of my consignment purchases - the Pink Tartan jacket, and the "Max Mara" Snow Queen coat. 

Instant workhorse items (in Finds): Blondo Elvira booties, western belt, Phoebe dress, Plenty cardigan, Judith and Charles pea coat, RM backpack.

There you have it. That's my roundup for now. I'll be back in a few days with goals and intentions for the year ahead. Thank you for reading if you got this far and I'd love to hear your thoughts and observations. 


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White jeans in winter & Boden Tilly

Those of you who live in the Pacific Northwest know that yesterday must have set some kind of record for dark and rain. Today, there is actually some sun behind the cloud. 

Wear ye white jeans while ye may, I always say. 

I took inspiration from the fourth outfit with the plaid jacket. Navy instead of black, a t-neck instead of a v-neck, a navy plaid rather than black and white, and voila. Tried it with pearls and without.

The pearls feel a bit unnatural on me with this outfit -- I think it's the wrong type of strand -- a simpler one might feel better. (I do like wearing these with other outfits. But I have to be careful because they are on the warm side now for my colouring. As a blonde it was easier to wear pearls.)

Love the Tilly. Soft, warm, not itchy (because it's cotton). An absolute essential for me and I'd been missing a ribbed navy t-neck for the last year. 

Also, how many times can I say I love you to these Aquatalias bought last winter at the Rack for -- actually, $0, because I had a Nordstrom note? Oh my goodness, these are amazing. I adore them. Work with dresses and pants, always look sleek and polished. Waterproof and warm. 


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Yes, Virginia, jeans do wear out.

We've been comparing wear-out statistics in our end of year roundups and reflections and on a couple of threads some of us mentioned that our jeans wear out while others say theirs never do. 

Several of us who wear our denim out also wear it a lot more, I suspect—either because we have fewer pairs in our collection (NOT me, ha!) or because we wear jeans more often and for longer periods and possibly in rougher situations. 

Last night I sat down to supper and felt an unmistakable riiiiiiiip. Oh no, there they go. My fave high waisted CoH jeans. 

I bought these about a year ago on style exchange from forum member Sarah. (Thanks, Sarah!)

Sarah hadn't worn them much so they were in good condition. I would say I wore them an average of 2 days a week -- much less in summer, and more in winter, spring, fall. It would average at about 100 wears. 

For reference, they were skinnies but not overly tight. I have large thighs for my size, but my legs don't rub when I walk (or at least I'm never aware of any friction there and don't need slip shorts or similar in summers). Still, I often strain the fabric in the inner thigh area because I tend to sit cross-legged or with knees curled up. Also, when I wear them, I wear them all day as a rule -- not just for a few hours after work. 

It's possible that if these jeans were stretchier and softer, I wouldn't strain them as much. I tend to prefer my denim structured with only a bit of stretch and a real denim feel. That means there is less "give." On the other hand, if they were stretchier they might have bagged out or faded too much in the same amount of time. 

I could, of course, patch them, but experience tells me this is not a comfortable location for a patch. Luckily, I have a near replacement.

Anyway. Joining Cindy in offering thanks. Thanks dear CoH Rockets, you served me well! 

And congratulating those of you who manage to keep your clothes in working order for longer than I do! 


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