Colour conundrum solved?

Hi, all! (Please ignore if colour talk is not of interest -- I blather on a bit here!) 

As many of you know, before I joined YLF, I had my colours analyzed according to the seasonal method. The verdict was true or cool summer, with some head scratching by the analyst, who switched out certain colours for some of bright spring's, and took away some of summer's softer hues. 

I wasn’t too worried about that. I’d gone into it without many expectations. I saw it as a staring point. A basis for some general guidelines as I rebuilt my wardrobe. Because I already knew, essentially, what worked for me and what didn’t.

I’d always looked my best in anything in the blue and fuchsia family, up to and including a true red. The analysis confirmed it. Fab!

Still, it was a puzzle.

Back then, my hair was (highlighted) dark blonde with some ashy or charcoal undertones. Eventually, my hair turned grey, and I was even lighter toned, all over. Sometimes I wondered if I might be a “light summer” who’d been mis-typed.

But I look like dishwater in most washed out pastels.

In fact, with silver hair, I look better in brighter versions of “my” colours. Also in pure white. And — a first — neon yellow. YES!! I’ve decided I actually look surprisingly good in the silly high-vis safety vest I wear to bike in!!

What to make of all this?

After Sal’s recent analysis, and during my recent illness, I started down the internet rabbit hole with this question, and quite by chance I came upon a colour analysis system that does not depend on seasons, is much simpler than many, and makes better intuitive sense to me.

The person who seems to have devised it is less poetic (and also less rigid) than some of the other colour analysts out there, but she is charmingly authentic, and more inclusive than many. She looks at real women, not celebrities. She analyses women of all races and various skin tones..She looks at women of different ages. And especially if you have grey hair, I think you might find her discussion interesting and possibly helpful.

She works using colour theory alone — looking at 3 key elements — a person’s chroma (bright vs soft), their contrast, and whether or not they are warm or cool. By her system, I type myself as “bright, cool, light” — and this makes SO much sense to me! “Light” here would mean mid-tone (for the most part) as opposed to pastels. “Bright” does not equal “winter’s” extreme brights, again, for the most part — but does include brighter, clearer versions of “summer’s” typical colours. And cool is self-explanatory — undertones should be on the cool to neutral side, not warm.

Is it going to change anything? No. I have already (mostly) been buying and wearing my best colours, though there are some I don't like as well and others I seldom see at retail in items that otherwise fit my style, so I don't tend to wear, which must be true of us all. But this gives me a clearer explanation of why some things work and some don’t. And it’s also encouraged me to continue to experiment with brights that I may not have tried.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about your own colour conundrums and solutions! 

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Mini-meetup!

As some of you know,  the beautiful Janet's been on Vancouver Island for a photography trip, and having met her once in Boston a decade ago, I couldn't give up the chance of meeting her again. But it almost didn't happen, because I've been sick with some dread virus since we came home from the UK. Today, her last day in the area, is the first day I felt confident I wouldn't be contagious. So we got together for a lovely breakfast and a fast catch-up! 

Of course, we were both wearing our blues. :)  Please forgive my helmet hair (came on the bike) and shirt in disarray and wonky background. It wasn't the most selfie-friendly spot but it was a great place to sit and talk. 

Janet, thanks for making the time and safe travels home. I can't wait to see your photos! 

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Trip Report: On the streets and in the shops

This trip I was very much focused on spendiing meaningful time with Mr. Suz, so shopping was not a priority. I didn't buy anything for myself. But I did enjoy window shopping and people-watching! I didn't photograph anybody on the street, but I did take snaps in stores and of shop windows. First, here's my impression of what people were wearing: 

  • Sneakers. Sneakers. Sneakers. No surprise there. I did see some sandals on the hot days -- mostly Birkenstock type or other flatforms. I think I only saw a couple of pairs of heels, and those were boots. Even in the financial district, quite a few people wore fashion sneakers with their suits. 
  • Raincoats. Again, no surprise. This was London, after all! And it's been an unusually wet year. Mostly I noticed trenches, but anoraks and utility coats were popular as well.
  • Light wash wide leg full-length denim. Mostly on younger women. 
  • The skirt of the year -- mid-axi or maxi denim skirts with slits. Also mostly on younger women. 
  • Slouchy looks in jackets -- some blazers, some bombers. Quite oversized. 
  • On the hot days -- maxi dresses in white, off-white, or large-scale florals. Again, on the younger women. Some dresses were off the shoulder.  Some were dragging on the ground and I worried they'd get caught in the escalators at the tube! But I remember doing  many silly things for fashion in my own youth. :) 

In the shops -- most stores were exhibiting high summer wear: lightweight linens and floral dresses. I wasn't really tempted by anything because it is quite easy for me to get this sort of thing in North America.
 
# 1. Window of a shop I would have liked to have gone into. Interesting sculptural shapes to the clothes. Heavy linens. Small boutique I think near Covent Garden. 

# 2-3. In the National Portrait Gallery -- Vivian Westwood. The first photo is a portrait in her garden; the second shows her surrounded by a new generation of artists, designers, and rebels. 

#4 I went into Selfridges to browse. Such a beautiful store. This display of cashmere wowed me with the quality and the prices, which I won't even begin to quote. 

#5. I loved this Erdem suit. But again, look at the price! Even on sale....https://erdem.com/products/sin....._r1j7_muwc

#6 The orange suit and the beautiful floral skirt also caught my eye. https://erdem.com/collections/.....s-trousers

#7 And the gorgeous party dresses! 

#8. Snapped a selfie while in one of the in-store shops. Curve jeans. 

#9. I loved the Alexander McQueen display -- right up my alley. 

#10 The fab orange suit made me think of Angie -- Stella McCartney.

# 11 Issey Miyake. I saw lots and lots of green in evidence, along with orange, in almost all the shops. 

#12 The jumpsuit also made me think of Angie. It would look terrific on her, no? 

#13  The majestic entrance to the store. 

#14-15. Moving on to John Lewis. Scottie bags for JAileen.  :) 

#16-17.  Colourful hat display. 

#18.  I kind of loved this colour blocked dress. Any of those hats might have worked with it! 

#19.  A book that some of us might enjoy. I know I'm going to hunt down a copy! As an undergrad I wrote an essay about Virginia Woolf's attitudes toward clothes. 

#20-22 Mr. Suz examining the beautiful wares at Japan House in Kensington, and some more of their displays. 

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Back to the Future: New/old hair

Well, I got fed up with the hair, which I loved but also, hated. The long sideswept bit was becoming much too bossy. It actually wanted to be styled!  So did the side pieces. Altogether it was frustrating me. So I decided to go back to a shorter pixie. This one is a lot like the very first haircut my stylist gave me in 2018. It's very short at the back (hard to get a good pic) and feels like a pelt. A little longer in front and piecey. I enjoy wearing it like this in the summers, especially. 

#1 is the new cut. 
#2 in the salon awaiting the chop. 
#3-4 two more not terribly good shots. 
#5-6 the earlier iteration (s) -- one from September 2018 and one from December, I believe. 

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Style reflections 2020 oops 2021

Well, friends, I’m due for a style renewal, and I hope I can get some suggestions from you wise people. But more on that in a looking forward post.

As for looking back — it seems I didn’t even set a goal last year! No wonder I feel the need of some focus on my closet. I was just too depleted and uncertain of what the future might hold to set goals.

My purchases mainly fell into the essentials replacement category. I did buy a few statement items, however, and those were my “happy” pieces.  I bought 30 items (apart from socks.) (Purchases in Finds). I retired about the same number. 

My MVPs from this bunch were the patterned linen shirt from M&S, the taffeta skirt, the hibiscus sneakers and sandals, the V-neck leopard print merino bought on super sale, and the pewter RM backpack, which unfortunately is already looking awfully worn out. Sigh. 

My fails were the pink Gap shirt (seriously, when will I learn that however flattering a pale or mid-pink is, I'll only wear it in a pattern and much prefer a vivid fuchsia?). The cream wrap top from Gap. Too "dirty" for my colouring. The balloon jeans, which look great and are lovely and Mr. Suz loves, but they just didn't cut it for me (and did cut into my waist when I sat...). And the BR jeans, which turned out to be such a pain in length and I don't like the whiskering. That was desperation buying. Never mind. Onwards!! 

My happy fashion season was the autumn when I was teaching outside the home and on campus three days a week. Out came the jackets, the wool trousers, the silk blouses, and varied footwear options. I also got to wear my new taffeta skirt a bunch, and that was fun

Other than that, this was a “treading water” kind of fashion year for me — wearing things that had gone unworn in a while due to the pandemic and not really thinking about my style much at all. 

Time to switch that up!  I think I'm due for a major edit and a style re-think. Onwards! 

Happy holidays to all and stay safe out there! 

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Style BVP

I'm awfully late to this discussion, but I've enjoyed reading the responses! It's been fun getting to know how you see yourselves in relation to your clothing, and quite revealing -- I'm sure these conversations will help improve future outfit labs and the like!

Beliefs:

  • Clothes can express who we are and who we want to be in the world.
  • Style is for everybody. It’s not limited by a person’s age, size, income bracket, race, ethnicity, gender, body type, nationality, etc. Stylish people come in all kinds.
  • Style can be learned and developed over time. You don’t have to be born with it.
  • Clothing can be a source of aesthetic pleasure, and aesthetic pleasure is a good in the world. It brings us joy.

Values

  • Practicality: Clothes have got to work for the wearer. (Or at least this wearer).
  • Beauty: fabrics that drape well or hold their shape, well-cut designs, rich colours, interesting textures—these enrich our lives and are worth seeking out.
  • Fun: Girls just wanna have it. And for me, fashion’s a place I can play. Learning is also part of that fun, which is one reason YLF is such a great gathering spot--so much to learn from Angie and all of you! 
  • Sustainability, which for me means maintaining a moderate sized wardrobe that includes a mix of older and newer pieces, buying consignment/ vintage at times and at other times seeking out locally designed or mindfully sourced fabrics, continuing to learn about the impact of the industry on the planet, and donating my gently used items so that they get a second life.
  • Coherence: Meaning, significance, making or revealing connections. I'm not sure this will make sense to some, but it's about a felt need to make sense, to make, period, and to communicate. 

Personality:

If you look in my closet, you’ll see a whole lot of blue! Alas, it’s true, I have a melancholic streak…but I like to think I’m also lucid and reflective. Often, I appear calm, but you know what they say — still waters run deep! (Gah…to think this woman calls herself a writer, right? ;)  Okay, okay…)

Also…see those flashes of red and berry and magenta and fuchsia? Yep, I have a fiery side, and I’m warm and energetic, too. I need to move, and I need to spend time outdoors….hence, the importance of practical clothing.

There’s a fair amount of white — for clarity. And grey, because I’m the farthest thing from a black-and-white thinker — in fact, my friends and family tease me that one of my favourite phrases is: “It’s complicated.” Ambiguities intrigue me. 

Look at all those stripes and tartans and patterns —even on the footwear!— and all that silver and pewter—there’s the spunk and fun coming out. I’ll mix them in, mix them up, and happily wear them every which way. In other words, I don't mind standing out a bit, don't mind drawing attention to myself. Sometimes. And unexpected associations delight me. As does the slight friction of juxtaposition. 

In shorthand, I’m an INFJ-(maybe A? if you believe those subtypes..or any of them, frankly), like Staysfit, and maybe Jenn. And probably half a dozen others here. While I need my alone time to process, in person, I’m talkative and social and sometimes quite assertive, especially on behalf of others. I love to connect with people and help them (there’s a reason I teach), I love love love to learn, and I need to make meaning of my experience with words. 

I’m also an Upholder with a questioning side.

And also, a lucky parent, because my kid just cooked me supper! 

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2020 Review

Time for my year-end roundup! 

My colour of the year was red, and my word of the year was move.

Ironically, I write this wearing blue, and benched due to an injury! But I did move this year — moved cities and houses, and also moved a whole lot on the trails, on foot and by bike, as well as in a regular kettlebells class.  

My main goal was to wear outfits that are Modern, Classic, Vivid, and Practical with a stronger element of “signature” — a little less on the “playful” side and more towards a bit of drama. That goal isn’t really reflected in my purchases, which still reflect the playful element of my style more than arty drama. 

I need to ponder that. Several times over the years, I've said that I want more arty drama, but I always end up buying preppy playful. Maybe my unconscious is smarter than my conscious mind. That is, maybe the gamine in me knows that playful and dynamic is who I really am. And maybe I should just go with it? Hmmm. 

Then again, this year, I barely shopped and barely wore “outfits” at all!

Instead,  as I said in an earlier post, this was the Year of Gear.  And that does relate to one of my other goals — to identify specific capsules in need of upgrading/ building and work on those. I had pre-identified gardening and biking as new capsules for me, and in fact, my gear purchases took care of my needs in those areas, as well as adding to my hiking capsule, which also needed bumping up.

Another goal was to shop in person especially via thrift or consignment. Well, I couldn’t do that in a pandemic, so I’m not going to beat myself up about ordering online.

Purchases for the year were (surprisingly) about steady with last year’s — but this does not count gear.  All but two of these purchases qualify as "instant workhorse" items. Many have already paid for themselves in wears (and several are almost worn out -- Sorel sneaker boots, I'm looking at you.) The only two that didn't get a huge amount of wear are the BR linen top and the gingham scarf. I'm sure they'll prove valuable next year, so I'm not too worried. Both were sale items. 

I haven't actually checked, but I'm pretty sure my retirements are about the same, so my wardrobe numbers are holding steady (though I have yet to do a new count to see exactly where I'm at), with a larger gear capsule on the side. 

I didn't take many photos this year at all, alas...but a few outfits that feel representative or made me happy....

Will follow up with goals for next year in another post. 

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New house, new closet

I know. Who moves in the middle of an order to "shelter in place." But what are you going to do? "Move" was my word of the year, after all. Ironic, or what? ;) 

We have been in our new house now for just over 3 weeks and finally we have all our stuff. So I spent yesterday organizing my closet. What a great feeling it is to be in control of something! I can't wait to get to work on our bathroom cupboards next, although I'm going to need to purchase a few storage containers for those. 

I have most of our relatively spacious bedroom closet for my clothes. Mr. Suz is going to store his "off season" trousers in this closet, and we have our iron and supplies here, but he is keeping the bulk of his clothing in the guest room because he likes the layout of that closet better. Did I luck out, or what? 

The rental house in Vancouver had a HUGE closet, so this one, while generous by most standards, actually feels "just right" for my stuff. Fortunately, the house as a whole has a massive amount of storage, so even if we have to keep things a little differently than we did in the past, there is still going to be plenty of space for everything. 

First, Photos 1-7 are the "dresser" (actually an antique cabinet -- some of you might remember this from my house in Kingston -- I haven't had it for 2 years!) 

Outside looking in -- baskets are useful! The top drawers contain bras and camis and sports bras. The baskets have workout tops and cotton sweaters, Kondo style. The bottom shelf is for jeans. 

Next, the closet, photos 8-15. Jackets on lower rack, blouses/ shirts on top. My bags are hung in the back of the closet on a scarf hanger (!) with a small Ikea container for smaller bags/ clutches, etc. 

Ikea containers hold knit tops/ tees, and other items. Accessories/ scarves on middle shelf, rolled. The top stores most of my winter items that won't be in use now -- heavier knits, warmer trousers, etc. I have winter footwear in the basement for now. And we also have a separate place for coats. 

I definitely need a shoe rack but don't have one at the moment, so dressy shoes are in plastic bins up top and just a few pairs that I'll be wearing regularly on the ground. It's not perfect, but at least I have my things and know where they are. 

Thanks for looking! 

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Gleener Review: ETA Update following Marilyn's report

Several people mentioned a gadget called the Gleener on Angie's recent knitwear post. Having tried and failed with a battery operated shaver (made nicks and holes) and brushes (smoothed but failed to de-pill) and pumice stones (wore holes in some stuff) I decided it was worth an attempt. 

Here's my review. 

The good: 

  • Inexpensive (under $20)
  • No batteries or electricity required. 
  • Comes with several heads for different types of garment. 
  • Easy to use.
  • And...most important...seems to work ...

(cough cough) at least sometimes

The bad:

  • Takes patience to use effectively. 
  • Doesn't really work on poor quality knits and that brings us right back to our basic problem -- we can't tell from the name or the reputation of the maker or even sometimes from the feel, what the quality is like. 

I tried it on four of my sweaters. I used the same medium attachment for all. 

First, on a new-this-year BR cardigan, supposedly merino, but more of a "shetland" type knit, to my mind. It has pilled under the arms and where my crossbody bag goes. It's hard to see the pills on the light grey. But the Gleener did take them off, with a bit of pressure. For the most part. ;) 

Second, an older J. Crew Collection cashmere tee. I think I got this in 2012 or 2013. It is quite high quality and does not pill a whole lot -- mostly just under the arms. I was able to remove a lot of the pills on this one quite easily and it looked better after Gleening.

Note -- this sweater has also become softer/ nicer to wear with washing -- a characteristic I note in higher quality cashmere but not necessarily in the cheaper stuff. That's one reason I've kept it so long. 

Third, my most frustrating sweater ever. You wouldn't have believed how lovely and soft and also interesting (because of the knit's texture) it looked at first. Gorgeous. But....it pilled in the first MINUTE of wearing and is basically nothing but pills. And why does this frustrate me so much? Because it happens to be a hugely useful item for me and I can't get rid of it! (Normally it is active/ loungewear for me now, but I wore it on my recent Spain trip, for instance, even though it is a mess, because it is just that versatile, lightweight, and warm.) Anyway. I don't think you can see much difference between the befores and afters here and Gleening, while it collected a lot of fuzz and pills, made no appreciable difference to the look of the thing. Not worth the effort and bother. 

Fourth, my older Pure Amici cardigan. It is well loved and much worn. It's very soft cashmere and has pilled a fair bit over the years. The Gleener worked quite well on this one, too. 

I'm not sure what to deduce from all of this. The J. Crew Collection and the Pure Amici were both higher priced items to begin with, and they do seem easier to maintain in decent shape. But is that always the case? Probably not. 

The first sweater is 80% wool/ 20% nylon. 

The second is 100% cashmere. 

The third is a wool/ cashmere blend. 

The fourth is 100% cashmere. 

Is the Gleener worth it? A resounding maybe. :)   I will keep it and use it...but I won't bother with it on the truly incorrigible knitwear fails. 

ETA: Tried a more robust attachment on my "problem" sweater and although you can't really see it here -- it helped a lot! Looks much better!!

With this update, I would say TRY it if you wear a lot of knits and want to keep them looking nice. It's not a perfect tool but if you experiment with the heads you might be happily surprised. 

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Fashion Forward, 2020

Happy New Year, Fab Friends! It's time for a little planning for the fashion year ahead. 

The good news: I more or less achieved my main fashion goals for 2019.  I bought less, shopped intuitively, and updated my gear

(Takes a bow. Now it is time to actually USE the gear, but that is another story, for this year, ha!) 

I also shopped consignment/ thrift. But I wasn't as successful making purchases that way. In retrospect, it's no surprise -- of the items I purchased, 7 were wear-next-to-my-body knits and summer tops (not something I feel comfortable thrifting, by and large, although of course there are exceptions; and 7 were footwear (ditto). That adds up to nearly half the items I purchased. 

I didn't manage to buy much from local designers until the very end of the year when I took advantage of a Boxing Day sale plus a gift card to buy some Comrags items that have yet to arrive. These, I know from experience, will be very long wearing in my closet. The earrings are designed and made by an Indigenous artist whom I'm delighted to support. See Finds 1, 2, 3. The gored skirt and keyhole top (or 2 piece dress) are blue on blue. Available up to XL, about a 16 in US sizes. 

As per my 2019 goal, I definitely wore outfits that were: Modern, Classic, Vivid, Practical, and Playful. I added a bit more playful this year with bright sneakers, plaid boots, a yellow bag, my fuchsia jacket.

Personal FASHION Highlight of the Year (and of the DECADE): Shopping with Angie at the Nordstrom’s flagship. I got some terrific workhorse items but more than that, I had so much fun! It was wonderful to meet other forum members (hi, Annagybe!) and clients (however briefly) and I felt thoroughly spoiled and taken care of.



For 2020: 

I’d like to continue wearing outfits that are Modern, Classic, Vivid, and Practical. But I'd like to move from "playful" to individual or signature and "arty." 

I'd also like to keep my purchases as low as this year's or reduce them — while still leaving myself with plenty of room for play/ experimentation/ freshening up. Focusing on capsules most in need of improvement might be one way to do that, so my first sub-goal will be to identify any capsule in special need of updating. Last year I was well aware that my gear was very old and needed an upgrade; this year, I suspect my occasion wear will need a refresh. 

In view of the environmental impacts of fast fashion (and my own desire for individuality and "arty" outfits) in 2020, I am planning to thrift/ consign as a first resort for certain types of item -- jackets, some coats, skirts, some dresses (esp. occasion wear), and bags. I do believe the future of fashion is circular and I want to reduce my consumption.

Having said that, if I can't find what I need at consignment, or can't stomach wearing used (this holds true -- for me -- for underwear, socks, gear, summer tops, and knits worn next to body as well as most though not all footwear and denim) I won't let that stop me from purchasing at regular retail if the item is a genuine need, but I'll keep in mind the 30 wears guideline before I buy. Fortunately, these "base layer" basics and essentials almost always get far, far more wear in my closet than the arbitrary 30. 

Meanwhile, I will also have 2 capsules to create (perhaps from scratch). 

First will be a small gardening capsule. I'm moving again in the late spring or summer and my new home has a big garden! I am on a steep learning curve with this one and may need to reach out for help. My previous gardens have been in an entirely different climate, and a lot smaller. My time and energy, and frankly, interest are quite limited, but I’ll do my best to be a good steward of the land and try to preserve and protect the native plants here. I am thinking for clothing, those gear trekking pants/ shorts plus tees, hoodies (for cooler temps) and a hat might work in my temperate climate. These won’t count toward my fashion purchases because there won’t be crossover except with gear. I am very open to suggestions from gardeners. 

Second will be bike-ready clothing. One of the downsides of my new location is that it is more suburban than I'd like, so for commuting I'll be getting an e-bike. For adventures, my gear will be fine (with a few additions) but for city driving I might need a few pointers from bike-riding friends! 

Something that concerns me — returns. One reason I was able to keep my purchases lower this past year was that I did return most everything that didn’t feel perfect. But if it only ends up in landfill, who is that helping? This is so disturbing to me. Because I have the luxury of returning in-store, I think I can be fairly confident that didn’t happen with most items I took back. But I would like to shop even more in person…so returns are less frequent. This may be a challenge since I am moving to a smaller city, but I will do my level best. 

Thanks for reading this long post and wishing you all the best in fashion and in everything else for 2020! 

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