Wet coast style observations

Hi, all. I've been in my new Vancouver residence for 9 days now and so far, so good! We had gorgeous weather the first week but the rains have now arrived in earnest. Luckily, I've lived here before so am up for that particular fashion challenge. 

So far, my wardrobe has not been much on my mind because I'm dealing with house set up. But yesterday I was downtown and made some mental notes about Vancouver style. 

  • Sneakers reign supreme on all ages. Fashion sneakers or regular. The occasional Blundstone or hiking boot offers a hint of variety. 
  • Athleisure retains its hold here. Also, lots of gear and technical fabrics. 
  • Black, black and white, and denim are the dominant colours. 
  • Lots of Kate Spade and MK bags on the younger women. 
  • Those who don't follow this pattern truly stand out. Yesterday a man dressed entirely in pale blush pink walked past in the rain. Pink Converse, pale pink jeans, pink shirt, pink jacket, pink umbrella. Definitely captured the attention! 
Bonus pics: John Fluevog's witty response to the NY Times. And, my cat has adopted an Elizabethan ruff to prevent him from catching the plentiful birds in our garden. 

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2018 Style Goals (Also in blog)

I know Angie wanted comments in the blog but it's also good tp place these here for easier reference and review. Just keeping myself accountable. 

My computer's broken right now so I can't post photos. I'm going to come back to this when I get my machine back and add a few photos of favourite outfits. I'm sad that my photo-taking capacities have been so limited of late and that does affect my perception of past outfits (i.e. makes it harder to judge) but I hope I can remember well enough how I felt in them to do an evaluation. 

Meanwhile...2018 Goals

1. To do a thorough closet review and edit, capsule by capsule. What’s working, what’s not? Why not? (I already do this season by season, but I think I need a slightly more stringent version this year, letting go of some items that I like but just don’t reach for any more and asking myself tough questions about why.) Review essentials and ensure all are in good repair and all bases are covered. Navy/ ink, white (in summer), grey.

2. To wear outfits that are:

Modern
Crisp
Retro
Vivid
Practical

Angie  observed that "retro" is a new descriptor for me. I'm still not sure it's right, even though I do enjoy (have always enjoyed) a retro element in my style. I'm not yet sure it is the best word for what I am after here. I like to hearken to 60s mod and some 70s influences and also the occasional vintage inspired piece. But maybe more to inject a bit of "playfulness" which is the word that I had in this place last year. So...still debating. 


3. To look for statement or luxury items (e.g. jewellery or bags or jackets) from local designers, special vintage shops, etc. I know my taste and needs really well now; if I see an amazing vintage or newly designed jacket or dress, I can be pretty darned sure it will work for me long term and have longevity. Most of my clothes come from the big chain stores. I feel I can inject more individuality into my style without going all “docent lady” by following this path.

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. 

23 comments

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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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. 

38 comments

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? 

51 comments

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. 

31 comments

2017 Style goals...and a wrinkle

Grab a cuppa if you have time for another reflective post! Herewith, some further reflections on my style in 2016 and goals for the year ahead. 

What did I do well?

  • Got a hair update that adds instant drama.
  • Purchased a few key statement items (gilet, bag, watch, ring) that will have wardrobe longevity.
  • Kept footwear up to date. I spend a big proportion of my budget on footwear and it’s worth it…at least in my mind. (More on that later.)
  • Edited assertively and replenished where needed. A third of my wardrobe was refreshed this year. Purchased and retired/ donated/ gifted approximately 50 items.


What did I wear that made me feel great?

  • Skirts and dresses in warm months.
  • Cropped jeans and trousers in temperate months.
  • New denim silhouette (culottes) and new dress trouser silhouette (culottes).
  • Brighter and/or more saturated colour.
  • Black, ink, silver, white, grey, and patterns incorporating black and white or silver and white. Slam dunk with my new hair.


5 Adjectives to describe my aspirational style:

  • Modern
  • Precise
  • Playful
  • Bright
  • Bold


Goals for 2017

  1. Purchase mindfully. I want to continue to have fun with fashion but want to do it in a way that does not cause suffering for others or our planet. Each of us makes our own accommodations in this regard, but I want to purchase more locally made, more ethically made fashion. Also, I'd like to reduce my purchasing while at the same time honouring my deep pleasure in embracing trends. This is not an easy balance to strike but it is one I want to work towards.
  2. Add more colour (especially red). Brighter or more intense versions of my old favourites seem to be best now. Clearer colours are better than muddier. This will be an ongoing process.
  3. Aim for drama. I need to think about a variety of ways to incorporate this. Cut, style, colour, scale. 
  4. Wear the heck out of my dresses, skirts, crops, culottes etc. in warmer weather when I can. 
  5. Continue to dress practically for my climate and lifestyle but to push the edge towards “dressier” where and when I can. 

Goal 5 is the problematic one.  I already tend to wear wool coats vs. puffers when I can, jackets vs. cardigans when I can, silk shirt vs. t-shirt, when I can (and so on) but, of necessity, I also dress from the ground up. So, practically, "getting dressier" means wearing my dressier footwear vs. my more rugged and practical footwear. Angie suggested I just do it and accept that the footwear will become worn out faster. 

This is a great idea in theory, but people -- see below!! These are my sidewalks on a good day in winter! I cannot bring myself to wear a selection of my precious booties out there (see Finds).  Instead, I'm wearing clumpy snow boots, or at best, weather proof darker boots or motos, which in turn means a more casual outfit overall. And I feel a whole lot less fab. Ugh. :(  If I worked in an office, I would simply take my shoes to the office and wear my boots outdoors. But I work from home, so I wear slippers. Lately I have been wearing some of my booties occasionally indoors, just so they get worn at all. Oh, and I bought another pair of snow boots with good ice grips. Because I need them. Grrrr.....

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Mini-Meetup: Sveta & Suz

Finally, after almost two years of failed attempts!!! It's a miracle. I got to see and visit with the beautiful Sveta and her lovely mother as they stopped by our home on their way back from a holiday. Such a treat! We don't see Sveta as much on the forum these days but she is as stylish and fabulous as ever and we had so much news to catch up on. 

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Share Your Thoroughbreds

Yes...the ideal may be to have a closet full of workhorses. But all work and no fun makes for a dull closet. 

Which items do you own that are NOT workhorses but more than make up for it in their Joy per Wear, or the "Happiness Factor"? 

A few of mine: 

  • Nicole Miller linen sheath dress -- special occasion. 
  • CM silk dress -- special occasion
  • Halogen striped skirt.
  • Long and Lean flared jeans. (Weather prevents frequent wear).
  • Imelda cream pointy toed booties bought in Israel with Shevia. (Again -- a weather issue, plus, the heel is a bit low for me.) 
  • Elie Tahari suit bought at the YLF meetup in Boston. (I wear the jacket a lot, but as a suit far less often). 
A few newer items that will probably (but not necessarily)  join their ranks: 

  • R&B gilet
  • BR sequinned culottes
In all cases, these items are dressier than my regular lifestyle allows -- and yet I do have occasions to wear them, and therefore, there was a need. I also make occasions to wear them, even at home -- often Mr. Suz and I will have Saturday supper on our own at home (sans kids), and I try to "dress up" for those evenings instead of just wearing my casual daytime clothes. (After cooking, that is!) 

57 comments