Red is Best

Although I enjoyed dressing to a theme last spring, before my life got interrupted by my accident, I felt stymied in coming up with a new theme for the autumn—mainly because I was dealing with so much on so many fronts, I didn't have time to think a whole lot about fashion. But  I'm returning to the idea now, for the holidays, because why not?

My theme for December is "Laid Back Luminous Garçonne Paints the Town Red."     :) 

Okay, so this is a bit aspirational. I have very few holiday events to attend this year. Just a few small parties and dinners with friends. All casual. But despite the surprising paucity of red at retail, I've collected a range of items in various reds over the years, and have added in particular to the "cranberry" capsule this season. 

See Finds, below. I'm going to be wearing these items on repeat all December, together with silvery items, whites, and of course my blues. I started on Dec. 1, dressing down my daytime outfit with my cranberry utility pants and red plaid boots for a rainy night reading/ book launch. 

Apologies for the kitty box! Since the light is better in the laundry I may just take photos there in future. 

Meanwhile, any Canadians remember Kathy Stinson's little book? I have always felt like the protagonist of that story. 


Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →


Echoing Ecco Love

As I mentioned in the blog post today, I'm a huge Ecco fan and have done well with many of their boots, sandals, and sneakers. My current Eccos in Finds. The flip-flop isn't perfect -- the footbed on it is not quite right -- but I use it only as an at home summer shoe. The other sandal and the Biom sneaker are gear, but gear that crosses over to casual day wear. The Soft 7s and LX 35s are fashion -- but practical fashion, if that makes sense. I think that's what appeals to me most about their footwear. These are comfort shoes, but look good and go the distance. 


Velvet Colettes

Hi, all -- 

I retired my old J. Crew plaid pants, a holiday staple. They are a straight-verging-on-skinny and I'm not enjoying that silhouette now. (I didn't donate them, though; they are such a great pant I think there's a chance I"ll come back to them later.) 

Meanwhile, I've been wanting a velvet pant, wanting to add more red to my closet, and wanting to try the Colette wide legs for quite some time. 

Voila, the Colette in red velvet comes to the rescue, along with a plaid shirt from J. Crew to make up for the lost plaid pants, and Ecco booties as featured in Angie's Fab Finds for this week, except in the limestone. 

I love these booties. They are ingenious. They come with two sets of insoles so you can adjust the fit for different socks/ stockings. They are very stable because of the rubber sole. The leather is very soft. On my leg, there is not a lot of flower-pot effect. The toe is called "round" but I would call it a wider almond. Not truly round. Anyway, I love them so much I just ordered the black patent at the super sale price. 

Love the Colettes, too! They are fun and cozy! 

And the shirt conforms to Angie's description exactly: 

Red Tartan Christmas Fabness. The red is less bright in person, and the fabric is a spectacular crisp and sharp cotton. Gorgeous quality. Size down one size. Layers well under roomy sweatshirts and sweaters.

Please forgive the photo quality. You can have dark plus over-exposed in my study, or brighter, with kitty litter box and a dirty mirror in my laundry room! 


Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →


Belated "persona + theme" report

Hi, all! I've had a difficult autumn with health, family health, work, and other challenges, and haven't been able to post much in a while. But I did want to report on my experience with the "persona plus theme" experiment I tried in the spring. You may remember that, taking inspiration from Brooklyn and Tanya, who over the past few years have concentrated on a specific theme each season in their dressing, I decided to do the same, with the twist (which I think Tanya also employs) of thinking also in terms of my fashion persona and some current trends I want to incorporate. The "this character does that" idea. 

Mine for the spring/ summer was "Laid-back luminous garçonne does off-kilter ultility pretty."

My accident in late spring put a bit of a dent in this plan, so to speak, in the sense that I didn't really go out much or even leave the couch for a few weeks. Apart from a short trip to San Francisco in late summer, and a very casual working retreat in July, I didn't get out much. 

But I did enjoy playing with the theme and thinking in those terms did help me compose outfits that made me happy. The photos are all poor quality but maybe you can get the idea. 

A few notes: Winner workhorse items in this capsule proved to be the Zara asymmetrical skirt, the Scotch & Soda denim jacket, the Dries van Noten thrifted plaid pants, the Sandwich spotted/ striped modal top (alas -- it is toast!! -- ripped beyond repair after so many wears), the Cole Haan oxfords. The linen utility skirt didn't get many outings. I liked it -- just didn't wear it a lot. 

In pic 4 you see my very old J. Crew 2 piece dress. I had the hem let down as much as I possibly could because I was finding the dress as it was felt too short for my current tastes. It's still a bit shorter than I'd like, but the extra inch in length made me like it much more, and as usual it was a workhorse. 

In Finds I've included other much worn items not pictured. 

Overall, I'd say this was a valuable experiment and I would like to try it again. I wore skirts/ dresses at more opportunities, remixed older items with new in different ways, made a few new brand discoveries, and had fun composing outfits. 


Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →


Classic/ on trend classic

It seems the classic dressers amongst us have the most trouble distinguishing what I'll call "deep classic" from what might be called "on trend version of classic" or "classic with a twist." So I'm going to try this with my own closet. Anyone want to join? The first set of Finds will be the ones in my wardrobe I identify as true classics. By virtue of cut and colour. 

The second set will be "on trend classics" or "classics with a twist." 

This will not include my purely on trend or avant garde or otherwise "different" items. 

My first set: 

1. Cole Haan oxfords. These are a "maybe" because in a knit fabric, and white. But the shape is classic. 

2. J. Crew straight pants. 

3. Club Monaco merino mock-neck

4. Talbot's white bermudas. 

5. Boden white tee. 

6. BR slim straight wool pants. (Maybe with a twist, since ankle length.) 

7. Armour Luxe Breton tee

8. Bernardo midi coat, princess lines. 

9. J. Crew navy merino sweater. 

10. J. Crew red merino sweater. 

11. J. Crew plaid scarf. 

12. Armour Luxe Mariner tee

13. Lord & Taylor charcoal t-neck

14. Boden navy t-neck

15. BR silk/ cashmere crew neck

16. J. Crew denim western shirt

17. Aquatalia riding boot

18. London Fog black trench (why couldn't it be navy??? waaaaaaa)

19. Le Pliage tote

20. Salt cashmere toque

21. J. Crew cabled cashmere crewneck sweater, navy. 

22. Navy moto jacket (navy may make it less classic, but cut is classic)

STYLE OBSERVATIONS:  very little footwear, very few bottoms here. Mostly tops, and most of those tops are knitwear for winter/ cooler temps. Some outerwear, but not a lot. 

This confirms what Angie has told me about my style—that I'm "trendy on the bottom." Also what I knew -- that my footwear tends to be on trend (to a degree at least). Also, my jackets and outerwear tend to be "with a twist." Not truly trendy but also not purely classic. 


Trends I want to buy into, trends that may or may not work for me

So, in addition to the trends I can enjoy more or less for free with what I already own, there are some I really want to jump on and will have to make some purchases to fully enjoy. 

Red: I love red! In many of its shades and tones. And yes, I do have a bit of red and burgundy in the closet. But some of what I own is not quite the right tone of red for me (a bit too orange/ coral) and some is just very old. I would like to add to my reds while the option is available and refresh this capsule. 

Magenta, orchid, cobalt -- what I said about red. These are excellent colours in my closet and I already own some items in these colours, but I feel I could update/ refresh to good effect. 

Dark Romance -- this is a maybe for me. "Dark" so often means black. And dark romance can veer into goth -- which is too hard edged for my look. Having said that, I love a floral on a navy background. I love the textural elements -- velvet, sheers, shine. So I'm not against playing around with it. I can even do it from my closet in a Vivienne Westwood kind of way with tall black boots, tulle skirt, sequin cami, military style jacket. 

How about you? Which trends will you need to make purchases for if you want to participate? 


Seasonal workhorses (and their opposite)

We're coming to the end of summer n the northern hemisphere and I'm guessing winter is on its way out for those of you on the opposite side. 

Time to evaluate how things went. 

My workhorses included the following: 

1. Cole Haan knit Original Grand oxford. New. Wow, what a comfortable shoe! And washable! It was an MVP all summer long. This was a new brand to me. I worried about the purchase at first because even on sale they were pricey, but they more than paid for themselves and made up for the lack of a white sneaker (see below).I promptly ordered more styles from this company when they went on sale to have them to use in the fall and on reserve for next summer. I bought a platform version, a similar shoe in grey, and a loafer for strictly indoor wear. 

2. Zara asymmetric skirt. New. Wore it several times a week except in the hottest days of summer. Loved it! 

3. Dries van Noten cotten linen plaid pant. New to me (but from the 2013 season! thanks to Jaime  and LJP and others for finding their provenance -- bought on consignment). Best summer travel pant ever. Dresses up and down, looks fun and interesting. Got compliments on them in San Francisco and elsewhere. 

4. Gap crop wide leg. New. Easy summer jean in fun silhouette and wash. 

5. J. Crew two piece dress. Old. Always in frequent use but this summer saw even more wear because I let the skirt down by as much as I could and I prefer it at the longer midi length. 

My duds were: 

1. The white EOS sneakers which promised so much -- KILLED my feet no matter what I did to mitigate. I have to get rid of them. 

2. Sandwich knit top -- not truly a dud, but a workhorse that worked so hard it fell apart! After our San Francisco trip I found it had multiple holes, presumably from the delicate wash! I am not sure it is reparable, though I will try, because I wore it multiple times a week all summer and adored it. 

Lessons:  try new brands, shoes can feel great in the store and awful in the wild, keep being trendy on the bottom, and expect a bit of wear and tear. 

How about you? 

What were your seasonal workhorses? Were they new items or older? Any surprises? Any lessons to be derived from your successes (or failures)?


Trip report: ETA I wore the puffer after all

My plane's delayed so while I wait, I'll offer up the trip report. 

My packing proved excellent, so thank you for the advice! There were only a few items in Finds that I did not wear: the puffer (totally unnecessary), the blue and white silk blouse, and the DVF cardigan. I wore everything else, multiple times in most cases, and it all worked in different combinations well. 

Big winners included my Cole Haan oxfords -- more comfortable than either pair of sneakers even for a substantial hike in the Presidio and a walk down to Marshall's beach! (I washed them out afterwards, too, and now they are sparkling white again). 

The silver slingbacks worked! No slipping off and the comfort is great! They also pack well because they have such a low profile and they are lightweight. I only wore them twice, but was really glad to have them. 

The Dries van Noten pants were fantastic additions to this capsule. I got compliments on them and found them the perfect weight for the temperature several of the days and evenings. Wore them 3 times. 

The wool pants were too warm for most days but I did wear them once on a day that began cooler and foggy. I was really glad to have my Zara sarong shorts with me -- I wore those 3 times, too, because it was warmer than we'd anticipated most days. 

Denim jacket and sweaters were useful in the evenings and for sporadic layering in daytime. 

Judging from our short visit, San Francisco's climate is unlike any I've ever known and it might take some getting used to! Layers are key, as everyone advised. But I'm used to dressing in layers. This was a bit different because the changes can be so swift and also so temporary! If I lived here I'd definitely need a wardrobe of backpacks to carry around all my stuff all day! 

We had a terrific time checking out different neighbourhoods. We figured out the transit system and enjoyed getting around by MUNI and BART. We happened upon a gallery opening in Chinatown -- an African-American artist who does amazing work with resins and masks (https://jessicasilvermangaller.....lhouettes/) and got to mingle with the invited guests, which was fun. We stumbled on some lovely little community gardens. We explored lots of different neighbourhoods and did most of the typical tourist stuff as well. And we ate a lot of good food!

People were unfailingly helpful and kind. 

ETA: I wore the puffer after all. When our flight out of SF was delayed by about 4 hours, we missed our connection to Vancouver Island and it was the last flght. No hotel rooms to be found, so we ended up sitting in the airport all night. The puffer came in handy around 3 am in that pre-dawn chill! 


Puffer in the bag: San Francisco, here I come. . .

Well, I was supposed to make this trip in June, but then I got hit by a car. I'm finally taking off for my first ever visit to San Francisco tomorrow at the crack of dawn. 

Complicating my packing: We're in the midst of a major heat wave, here in the Pacific Northwest. The idea that I might actually feel cold is a bit hard to imagine at this moment. But the forecast is for temps at least 10 degrees C  lower than here (or 20 degrees F lower). 

I'll be there for 6 days. Weather with highs in the low 20s (70s F) and lows in the high teens C. Sun and cloud. No rain. 

My bag is carry on size for international but I am checking it anyway, and I feel like I am taking WAY TOO MUCH. But I'm likely to be making decisions on the fly and needing to carry weather appropriate and day-to-night outfits in my backpack, because we are staying off the beaten track and won't always get back to our place to change after a day of galleries and hikes, for dinner. 

Activities: Hikes, galleries, restaurants, some shopping (maybe). General sightseeing, since I have never been to SF. 

What I am thinking of taking (in Finds). A lot of it is about layering. 

Note: the Vince "dress" is actually a blouse -- I had it shortened. It is nice with the Dries van Noten pants. 

If weather is warm (ish), I have;

 Dries van Noten cotton/ linen pants
Sarong shorts
Boden skirt
Sleeveless/short sleeved tops
Silk blouses (for evening) 
Paul Smith jacket (lightweight wool/ linen)
Denim jacket

If the weather is cool (ish), I have: 

Wide leg full length jeans
BR lightweight wool pants
Skirt (in a pinch -- if in Uber/ taxi) 
Silk blouses (layered under knits/ jackets for eve)
Foil sweater (for evening) 
Other toppers, with knits underneath

Footwear is all comfortable for walking at least short distances -- the slingbacks are not for actual hike, obviously, but evenings. 

Some possible combos I tried this morning -- please excuse no makeup, messy hair, etc. These are decidedly not fully styled -- I didn't add belts, jewellery, or anything like that. Rushing to get ready! 

The last two pics are my travel outfit -- wide legs, sneakers, sleeveless Sandwich top, Paul Smith jacket, scarf if needed. 

If you can see anything I can cut out, let me know, and if you know what the weather is really going to feel like, let me know that, also! 

Thanks for bearing with me here! 


Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →


In the navy now...and not nearing retirement.

I'd be seriously remiss if I didn't report to duty for today's post. In fact, I'd probably get demoted. ;)

Like Angie, navy is my dark neutral and my closet is packed full of it for all seasons. Unlike her, I also wear sprinklings of charcoal and occasionally a bit of black -- but black for me is a colour or an accent, not a neutral, and truth be told, I will likely get rid of it all within the next 3 years or so, as things wear out. 

I was fascinated to read about the specifics of Angie's choices, though—the way she picks and chooses what items she prefers in navy. The pattern that emerges for me -- in relation to her own style -- is that she avoids navy or navy combos (like a strict navy suit) that might seem "corporate," "uniform-like," "stuffy," or that would drag the playfulness of her overall ensemble down. Given her other preferences, the items and combinations she mentions as "not her" might do that to her outfits. Whereas they might work fine, for another person. Even one with a playful style. For example -- I'm the delighted inheritor of a navy bag she passed along!  :)  

Interestingly, though — I tend to wear that bag with my lilac coat. Not navy. 

When it comes to solids, I tend to look my best in a bright, lighter navy, like the J. Crew cotton rollneck sweater  and the Bernardo coat, below. In prints (especially with white) any navy works well. But I wear them all, from darkest ink right on through. I wear navy in patterns (especially stripes with white or off-white) and in plains. In fact, it is a challenge to find a wardrobe item I do *not* own in navy. I even have navy undies! 

While sometimes, for presentations, I have created a navy "suit" with my blue tuxedo blazer and a slightly different navy trouser, it's rare for me to do this, because it feels a bit too strict for my style unless I can lighten it up with a playful, fun top. I'd be much more inclined to wear a navy patterned suit. I do wear navy pea coats, and raincoats, and overcoats. Navy footwear, accessories, and bags (when I can find them). 

The challenge, for me, over the past few years, in fact, has been to find wardrobe items in colours other than navy. That's because with earth tones trending for so long, navy was often the only cooler colour on offer or the only one that had any hope of suiting me. I'm still working on building up a red/cranberry/ burgundy capsule, and a lilac/lavendar capsule; I've been at this for years and never seem to get very far because no sooner do I find one good upgrade/ update than I have to retire two older items that have worn out or no longer work for me. 

That doesn't mean I'm done with navy, though! Always on the lookout for great pieces in my favourite dark neutral. 

Also, I will say -- if you build a closet primarily around a dark neutral, whether that be navy, black, charcoal, brown -- it becomes very easy to mix and match. Within a given season, almost anything in the closet has the potential to work with almost anything else. Jenn's closet is a great example of that, using black. 


Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →