Top Up: Something old and something new

In the 2016? NAS, I got this gorgeous Vince silk shirtdress, chiffon overlayer and sleeve, in a really nice cut. I love a collarless shirt! I wore it a bunch in its first two years, but honestly, it was a bit short for my preferences even then, and more so, now. I tried wearing it as a tunic over leggings or skinnies but while I adore long-over-lean on others, the silhouette doesn't flatter me and I'm never happy wearing it. I kept intending to donate the dress, but I had happy associations with it (trip to London with Mr. Suz...) so I kept hanging on to it despite my best judgement. 

Finally it dawned on me -- have it made into a blouse! Why not? So here it is, with my new Liverpool pants. 

Next up, a new top from Aritzia, also final sale (and cheap as chips). Made from modal and lyocell or tencel (not sure which) with a long 70s collar -- it reminds me completely of that era. I think the colour works well with the suit and it is easy to wear. Wore it yesterday layered under an old cashmere tee from J. Crew. 

Warning: if you are considering it, this top is not for the large busted or broad shouldered -- it fits narrow. Lots of stretch but it almost gaps on me (30DD, wearing S, which is what was recommended.) 

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Parachute stylings

Ok. Trying a few of the suggested stylings: 

1. With white boots and all white oversize top as per Angie. 
2. With a higher neckline, as per Brooklyn
3. With more refined footwear, as per Jaime. 

I have several white or white dominant tops that I could use if I want to wear these with the white boots. 

I liked Brooklyn's examples with high neckline, sleeveless tops. I have similar tops, but I would not be super likely to wear with this particular pant because it is a heavier weight cotton -- more for fall/ winter. If I find a linen or cotton-linen blend version of these pants I will absolutely try that suggestion! 

My "refined" booties are 4 pairs of identical but for colour pointed toe, and one pair of navy square toe. Trying a few versions. 

Note: these are not "complete" styled outfits -- I'm just trying out the proportions and colours of boot, and seeing the overall effect. Which I know makes it difficult to judge. But would love your thoughts on the footwear options in particular. 

Realistically, this particular pair won't get a lot of use with sandals because of its weight. It might get some wear with sneakers and I don't think either of my current ones are ideal, but that is fine because I'm due for a sneaker update and can look for styles that work. Kyle sent me some great options. 

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Parachuting in! Styling ideas?

So...I think I finally found my parachute pants! 

These are Aritzia's TNA "Supply" cargo, and it's a good thing they fit because they were final sale. 

Trying them here a few ways. First (1,2) with new top -- more on that in another post. 

Styling attempts. Suggestions more than welcome! 

#3 Trying with a blazer...not sure? 
#4 With a cashmere hoodie. 
#5 Just the striped tee & sneakers
#6/ 7 with denim jacket
#8/ 9/10 leather jacket
#11 Rails shirt -- double plaid with footwear.  :) 
#12 with white denim
#13 trying with a more substantial sneaker (only ones I have -- coral) and top with coral to tie in. I don't think I like the pants with these shoes. 

Footwear: 

1. Are the white boots too clownish with this or are they okay? 
2. I think I prefer the plaid combat boots to anything else I have. Should I look for another pair of combat boots in navy or. a different colour? These are an item that would get real wear, so I don't have to fret on that score.  
3. White sneakers -- these feel too insubstantial somehow. But maybe my eye will adjust? Maybe a platform sneaker for spring? 
4. I tried with my black Blundstones, too  in #10 -- they are okay, I think, but maybe not the best. 

I didn't try with sandals yet because those are still packed away. 

I hope the consensus is positive here because, well, final sale, but more because I'm totally in love. These are a very substantial and soft cotton. They have pockets up the yin yang. They are advertised as having a slight "sheen." I don't see that, but they do drape nicely and feel good on. 

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Doing the math

I just measured a bunch of my own rises. As a shorter person who is short-waisted but has a long rise and slightly shorter legs (oh, the variables, right???) I was curious to see what's low and high on this body. 

And honestly, doing the math makes me wonder how any of us ever find pants to fit! 

Today I'm wearing my Liverpool ponte pants. They have a 9" rise, which on me, is verging on a lower rise...it hits at my hipbones. I can hike it up a bit with a belt if desired, but that's where it falls if I just let it be. Well below my navel, in other words, let alone my actual waistline. A little lower than the fit on the (presumably much taller) model. 

Considering I'm only 5' 4" (on a tall day) that might be surprising to some and explains why, in the past, I could rarely buy "petite" pants -- back in the old days, they were made proportionately with shorter rises. (Less so now, I fear, for my truly petite sisters.) Sometimes I could finesse this by sizing up in petites, which would drop the waist and crotch. But not often.

But while my rise is long, my upper torso is short (short in objective terms, since I am short, and short in relative terms, on my own body)..so there's not a lot of real estate to play with, folks! Here is how it looks. 

The Emerson BF jeans (my favourite jeans, really) have a 10 inch rise, which is sort of a high mid-rise on me. It hits more or less just below my navel. These jeans do have a longer back rise, which can be very helpful in terms of overall fit -- as suntiger pointed out, the front rise measurement alone often won't tell you enough, depending on figure variables. 

My ON baggy jeans have a 10.5  inch rise which is high on me! Half an inch to go from high-mid- to high! If I'm wearing a belt, I have to tighten it a full notch or two if I'm wearing these pants. 

The pants that hit just below or on my actual waist (i.e true high rise) have 11 to 11.5 inch rises (depends on waist band construction etc.) My J Crew plaid pants and my CM pants fall into that category. 

In the past, I've gone as low as an 8 inch rise  (with a belt, and much tugging of pants to stay up on my relatively narrow hips). I could conceivably go as high as a 12" inch rise (with some gasping for air because this would hit at my rib cage and compress my late middle aged middle, especially when sitting.) 

But honestly? I'm looking for pants mostly between 9 and 11 inches and one is low and one is high on me! 

For this reason, I am ALL for variety in rises -- let them proliferate at every level so everyone will be able to find something that works for her! 

Have you done the math on yourself? What are your personal sweet spots? 

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2022 Review Part 2: Mistakes and Workhorses

In Part 2 of my review, I want to look more closely at retirements and purchases. Including my mistakes. 

Here are the items I've retired so far this year. 

Retired footwear, whatever its age, was all worn out. This is typical for me. I wear my shoes hard. Footwear will always be one of my largest expenses and that’s okay. 

25 retired clothing items were more than 5 years old and each had many, many wears. All but the “occasion” dresses were worn out. Those are not worn out but are shorter than I now prefer.

1 retired item was a jacket bought at consignment that lived 4 happy seasons in my closet and can now find love from someone new.

However....

5 items were recent purchases that I would classify as “mistakes” — and two were near-mistakes— which is a fairly high number for me. What went wrong? 

Kit and Ace top — great colour for me but too loosey goosey. Did not enjoy wearing even as loungewear. I did, however, wear it quite a lot in the year I had it, gritting my teeth every time.

Red cardigan— meant to replace an older worn-out one. I wore it, but didn’t enjoy wearing it. The shoulder fit felt off, the pockets were not well placed, it just did not hang the way I wanted. Off it goes. I will need a similar item in spring, though. I really love a bright red, lightweight topper. 

Kimono — loosey-goosey (do you detect a theme here?). The colours are nice, it should, theoretically, have fit into the closet. But I did not wear it. I bought this with store credit and was really quite desperately searching for something I could tolerate there — alas. Someone else will love it, I’m sure.

BR Jeans — not a good fit and didn’t like the whiskering. Desperation purchase.

Linen shirt — scratchy and weird fit to it. I wore it a number of times but did not like it.

Pink shirt — I did wear this in my garden over two seasons (so it wasn't a total flop) but as flattering as this mid-pink is on me, I detest wearing it. I do not feel like myself in it. 

Balloon jeans -- I really love the fabric of these jeans. I have worn them for two seasons, though not a lot. Mainly because of the colour. I wanted to branch out into greens but this is too yellow an olive to work well with my closet. I don't have stuff to wear with them, and don't want to purchase. So...onwards. 

This is more shopping mistakes than I've made for many a year. Have I learned what I need to learn from these errors? Well...what I seem to have discovered is that I tend to make the most mistakes in seasons when I am flailing around, aiming for a style reset but not really knowing how or where to begin. I also make errors when trying to expand my colour range, but I think that's fairly common and forgiveable, particularly since we've been confined so much to online shopping. 

As LJP noted on another thread and others have also commented, this year, the major changes in silhouette that have been underway for a number of seasons finally seemed to coalesce and become real and vital to deal with, in some way. Maybe these were the cuts available at retail across more price points and regions, maybe it was because more of us were venturing out more often and found we needed replacement items...I really don't know for sure. 

Onto my successful purchases: 

Successful spring/ summer purchases that became workhorses include a summer sleeveless top and a linen jacket with stretch sleeves. White shorts to replace worn out ones. Also, casual gear-crossover sandals and sneakers. (Duh)

My surprise workhorse NAS purchase was the loafers. I love these so much as my at home shoes! Game changers.

Other F/W workhorse purchases include my new, baggier all-cotton jeans, Blundstones, and new white booties! 

I have to admit that I probably needed to make these purchases in order to freshen up. There’s a bit of guilt here because my wardrobe has expanded over the years and despite my recent retirements, I have a closet full of “perfectly good” clothes, all of which I genuinely love, and some of which I don’t wear as often as I might like. So what the heck am I buying new stuff for? Right?

But it does make a difference. The slight changes in silhouette, the greater ease, and the pure fun of playing with a new-to-me shape or colour does invigorate me. I don’t want to be unmindful of the effects the fashion industry has on our environment, but at the same time, I want to continue to have some fun with my clothes. It's tricky! 

Thanks for reading this far, if you have, and I hope this may be useful to some. 

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2022 Style Review, Part 1

I'm going to review my year in parts. 

First -- did I meet my goals? 

My aims for the year were a thorough closet edit and a style reset. As part of that I hoped to find some more current-feeling and comfortable WFH outfits.

I did do a closet edit, although I am not sure how “thorough” it was. So far, I retired 37 items, which is definitely on the high side for me. More typical would be somewhere between 20-30 retirements and 20-30 purchases). I think I could stand to let go of even more. About half my wardrobe consists of items that are older than 5 years, some of which I wear regularly and still love, and some of which I keep but rarely wear. Time to reflect on that. 

I was slow to get started with the style reset or the new WFH options. Partly that’s because I ended up working mostly outside the home until the end of April. And then it was summer.

Despite my slow start, I purchased 30 items, not including undies, jewellery, or gear (though some of the shoes are crossover). (Most are in Finds; more info to come.) That’s a bit higher than my typical range. I have a few more things on order, but they haven’t arrived yet and won’t be here until the new year.

I’m feeling really happy with my new “laid-back luminous garcon” style moniker; the minute I hit on it, a few things came together for me (at least in my head, LOL) and I’ve started making some edits and purchases with this persona in mind.

 I know some of you felt I didn’t really need all three words— but for me, the adjectives create a bit of productive tension. Too much “laid back” and I feel too masculine, too classic, too preppy, or too dull; not enough “laid -back”, and my clothing won’t be practical enough for my very casual work-from-home existence. Too much “luminous” and I will feel overdone and impractical for my real world; not enough and the energy won’t be high enough. The “garcon” is self-explanatory, and not really much of a shift for me — I’ve always had a slightly androgynous gamine style. Regardless, this moniker seems useful for my decision-making. I feel less stymied and better able to freshen up my style in an authentic way.

Angie also kindly suggested "graceful gamine." 

I had trouble getting good photos; nevertheless, a few of my favourite outfits.  Almost all from recent months because I have felt in a real style rut until a few weeks ago! 

Thanks for looking, and I’ll be back with a review of workhorses and mistakes!

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Style Personality Match or Mismatch

We've been talking about about how different fabric textures or styles can be a match or mismatch for our style personality. LisaP made some interesting comments on my tulle skirt thread. 

Not to send anyone down the Kibbe rabbit hole again, because honestly, the man is impossible to understand -- he may as well be writing in some other language -- but his emphasis on line and energy is important, I think, and gets at something that some of the other systems out there neglect. 

A personal example: I always used to wonder why or how I can wear high contrast stripes. I'm not a high contrast person, never have been. If you went by my colouring alone, I "should" avoid high contrast at all cost. I should stick to mid-tones or maybe even pastels. But in real life, pastels with few exception look horrible on me. Mid tones are indeed flattering, but also somehow lacking somehow, on their own. And stripes -- not in black and white but in blue and white -- are some of my best friends! 

Meanwhile, if I were dressing to disguise my shorter stature, I "should" wear monochrome outfits. Make myself look taller! But most monochrome outfits look rather dull and flat on me unless there is something else there to spice it up (e.g. a patterned scarf and footwear). I tend to look better in separates with shorter jackets and slightly shorter (ankle baring) pants. I can wear high contrast between top and bottom well. I can colour block well. I look great in high contrast piping or collar/ cuffs — that sort of thing. 

And I look good in vibrant colour. Not as saturated as what a true "winter" would wear, but much more saturated than you might expect. When I had my colours "done" the woman kept pulling the brights from a few neighbouring colour types and giving me those, while subtracting many of the softer tones from my original wallet. I do wear grey and heathered tones quite well, but I definitely need something else to lend emphasis if I am wearing those softer tones. 

If you recognize that my style essence or personality or body type (or whatever you want to call it) is some kind of gamine, all of that makes sense. I need a certain amount of dynamism in my outfits, irrespective of my colouring. And while I'm not tall, dressing to look taller does me no favours. 

There are certain styles that I adore, but that look really terrible on me. I love the look of a long jacket-- for example -- on other people -- but really don't look great in long jackets, unless they are more "coat" like and fitted. This makes only a minor amount of sense from a "body type" perspective; yes, my legs are maybe a tiny bit on the short side, but we're not talking a major disproportion here -- nothing a little heel wouldn't adjust for. Lots of people with my body shape look great in long jackets. So it's not about that. 

Also, I have to be really, really careful with oversized items -- if they collapse against my body, show the structure of my arms, and the shoulder fit is not too exaggeratedly large, they can work...like the Zella top or my new bat wing sweater. But if they just hang all over or drape too much, they look and feel completely "off" on me. Especially if they lack pattern or textural interest. Alas, I love drapey looks on others and repeatedly make mistakes about this in my shopping. Almost all my shopping errors this past year involve such mistakes. I will have more to say about that in my year end review. 

How about you? Whether or not you follow Kibbe, have you ever noticed that some of the more traditional style rules don't seem to apply to you, and do you wonder why? Have you found an explanation that connects to your style personality? 

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Greyed and grey

OK, first things first -- I'm experimenting with some new lighting. Does it help? I can probably do even better with a bit of adjustment...I found a few LED clamp lights I can fix in various spots. 

Being one of our resident silvers, and cool complected, I'm raising my hand for greyed colours. But they have to be the right greyed...blue greys or winter whites added to soften or "heather" the colour slightly more than "dirty" it. It's the rare true "dirty" colour I can wear well. 

But the mauve tones in the sleeves of this ancient Equipment sweater might qualify? I think so. Angie used to own this 2014 NAS beauty, too, but I'm sure she passed it on ages ago, not being a lover of grey. I kept mine and although I don't wear cashmere much in Victoria, today it is SNOWING, so it's a perfect occasion for it. This sweater is lovely quality. There is some minor under-the-arms pilling but that's the extent -- it otherwise looks and feels brand new. 

The pants -- also ancient-- (2017) are a greyed navy that I love. These are Kit & Ace back when they used to use all season wool with stretch -- a fabulous fabric, in my opinion. Great for work from home! 

A few more of my grey or "greyed" or "heathered" wardrobe items in the Finds, below. I wear a lot of them! 

Note: the green shorts are too sour to work -- perhaps too "dirtied" vs. "greyed," which would lead to a more sage-y olive. Alas! I find it difficult to partner them with other things in the closet. 

So a Fab Friend has lightened and brightened and cropped the photos further...

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When the reviews are wrong

With my perennial preppy gene, I've always been attracted to loafers but I more or less swore off them years ago because they are one of the hardest styles for me to fit. Flats are hard on (and for) my feet, period. And slip on styles are by far the worst.  I mean, I put orthotics in my sneakers to make them wearable and to prevent myself from another case of plantar fasciitis. Even then, sneakers, like any true flat, are less comfortable for me than shoes that have a slight lift or heel (about 3/4 of an inch to 2 inches); I'm most comfortable in boots or sandals as a rule.  And most loafers, I find, are too wide in the mid foot and the heel if they fit me in the forefoot. My feet are not wide (just average) but my mid foot is a bit narrow, my arch quite high, and my heel shaped in such a way that flats without straps almost always flip off, leading to awful toe cramps if I try to wear them. 

Still, I really loved the look of the Franco Sarto platform loafer and it is BLUE, which is a key neutral in my closet. Blue footwear can be hard to source, so a transitional blue shoe was HEWI for me. 

I read the reviews, which are mixed, at best, and many complain explicitly about the fit problem that plagues me most. This was a case where if Nordstrom's did not have such generous return policies I might not have ordered.

And yet these shoes are working for me! 

Admittedly, they required careful breaking in, but I can now wear with and without socks. I would not try to walk barefoot in them for long in hot weather (that would definitely lead to blisters) but with careful monitoring they are super comfortable and easy for me to wear.  

I think it is the platform/ lug sole and extra interior padding that make them wearable for me. Like others, I can't wear this shoe in cold like we are having today here -- so from this point on, they will be my "indoor" loafer until spring. (I only wore them briefly outdoors and the bottoms are all clean.) I'm delighted to have a shoe that makes me feel more fab than slippers but is just as easy on and off. 

How do you know when or whether to trust the reviews? I usually pay close attention to them and they have, in the past, helped me to rule in (or out) various items. But this time, I simply would not have ordered if I hadn't known I could return them for free after an in-home try out period. 

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Patterned summer brights

I'll try to get an actual outfit photo a little later if the sun comes round the corner, but for now, I thought it would be fun to show my versions of the look. 

1. Patterned dress. 
2. "Jacket" -- a new kimono. It looks darker in the photo -- it's actually a near-royal blue with pattern of white, grey, pink etc. 
3. Skirt. It also serves as "dress" with the matching top. 

I don't have a patterned bright suit for summer unless you count the 2 piece dress. :) But I do have several other items in bright patterns. A pattern in summer can keep the interest level up when you are confined to one piece or two piece dressing, unable to layer due to heat. 

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