Packing for London

We fly out tomorrow and the weather looks...unpredictable! 

Highs will be between 18-20 and lows around 11, but for the rest it looks like thunderstorms, sun, cloud, showers, and everything in between -- on all the days we will be visiting! 

We're no strangers to variable weather, but it does make packing and dressing for a day/ evening out a bit of a challenge! 

I am checking a bag. I have several dressy evenings, several urban-casual days, several slightly dressier urban days, one day-into-evening that has to be both casual and more dressy, with no opportunity to go back and change between times, and, as I mentioned, I am going to need clothes for different weather eventualities. 

Below is my tentative packing list: 

Footwear: blue flatform oxford, white oxford, silver slingback, silver eneaker. (I had wanted to take the red Mary Janes but in all honesty don't think I would choose them for a long day of walking). ALL shoes waterproofed. If it really does rain a lot, I'm likely to wear the navy oxfords and the silver sneakers the most. 

Toppers: Packable raincoat, denim jacket, Paul Smith linen/wool blazer, jersey military jacket.

Gilet: Burgundy Theory (part of co-ord set, but also works as a sleeveless top with the pants and/or coordinates with jeans and Dries pants). 

Knitwear: Cotton t-neck, silk/cotton leopard cardigan, cotton mariner tee. 

Shirts/ blouses, LS: Denim shirt, striped cotton shirt, blue silk popover, silk cat print shirt,. 

Tops for layering or warmer than expected weather: Ecru Everlane, navy BR sleeveless. 
Evening/ dressy tops: Vince l/s silk popover burgundy blouse (not a dress, as in Finds photo). Blue peplum top. Silver sleeveless top. 

Bottoms: Navy wide legs, Curve jeans, burgundy Theory pants (part of co-ord set, navy skirt, Dries cotton/linen pants (good for warmer weather). 

Bags: Silver Pom Pom London, Burgundy hobo. 

2 scarves
Packable umbrella/ rainhat

Am I neglecting anything, missing anything? 

Here are a few try-ons mostly without any bags, jewellery, etc -- so partly but not wholly styled, if you get my meaning. I did not try everything with everything but it pretty much coordinates in a wide variety of combinations. 

QUESTIONS: Should I bring merino pullover as well?

Anything missing? 


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Blue basque skirt stylings. K/R

Hi, all! I promised to style up the blue basque skirt and see how it works for me. Here are some semi-styled options. I say semi-styled because I didn't really deal with hose, accessories beyond footwear, etc. 

Dee hit the nail on the head when she said this skirt seemed a bit outside my usual style persona. That is true -- the fullness makes it come across as more feminine. But of course, even a garçonne wants to look like a girl sometimes. :) For dressy events, say. 

1-3 First I'm trying it with my very old J. Crew peplum jacquard top. I love this top and it forms a key element of my dressy capsule. I think this works as a two piece dress. Different footwear options available. 

4. Tried it with my oversized denim jacket. 

5. A tucked in shirt. Could do with a plain white shirt for a more classic look. 

6. With my slim cropped denim jacket. 

7-8  With oxfords and my new Everlane shirt. It feels very 20s! 

9-10 With knotted tee and denim. 

11-12  Could be an at home winter holiday look. 

13 - 16.  With my Sandwich knit military jacket.

17. With a sequin camisole under denim. 

Bonus photo bomber at the end....

I have plenty of other footwear options -- tall boots, stompy boots, sneakers, sandals of various kinds. 

You can probably see in the close ups that the fabric is rather like taffeta. It has a stiffness and heft to it. I would not wear it casually in summer at all, though I might in cooler months. 

I was inclined to send it back before trying it on these ways, but I'm inclined to keep it now. It is very comfortable. It is cross-seasonal (spring, fall, winter, with possible evening summer wear). It can be worn at various levels of dressiness. It will not wrinkle (so it could travel, though it's a bit bulky and heavy.) It works with many things in the closet. 

What think you? Keep or Return? 

NOTE: If I keep, I am going to retire two older skirts. 


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New Trench, or Old?

Hi, all. I need some help with making a decision.

Mr. Suz is celebrating a significant birthday this year and we are going on our first longer trip since 2019! We will be travelling to London (UK) for 10 days mid-to-end of May. I'm starting to put together a capsule of items I might (might!) bring, incomplete of course and in flux at this point. I will be watching weather and thinking about our specific activities and adding/ subtracting items as seems fit. So far, plans include museums, theatre, lots and lots and lots of walking, and of course lots of eating! We may or may not take a day trip or two. 

This trip being to the UK, I think a trench coat is in order. I own 3 trenches. One, a short Theory in black (gift of a lovely fabber many years ago!) is not in consideration. My other two trenches are a very old black London Fog (one of my first YLF purchases) and a newer cobalt trench from Hobbs. 

Both are very classic. They are approximately the same just-below-knee length on me. The Hobbs is more fitted under the arm than the London Fog. It is also a more substantial fabric. The London Fog is roomier in the skirt portion also, with a slightly wider vent in the back. Both are water resistant, not waterproof. 

I am showing them both layered over the thickest sweater I would probably bring (which is itself layered over a shirt). I also tried the Hobbs over a tweed jacket, and it works, but isn't ideally comfortable. 

My first question is, which one of these do you think I would do best to bring? 

My second question is: should I consider the purchase of a more current type of trench to bring instead, i.e. a slightly oversized one that would layer more easily? I think at my size/ height  I need to be careful with oversized coats, but I would love some extra dramatic length, and I have long wanted a lighter coloured trench coat. I have been looking for less expensive versions -- one very well reviewed at Oak & Fort (but it is polyester, hmmm), and one from Mango. I might be able to wear the stone colours (rather than yellow beige). 

I would also consider a new navy trench if I found the right one.  My hesitation is that although trench coats are a slam dunk for my style and I adore them, I tend not to wear them much! This is due to my suburban lifestyle. When I lived in a more urban setting, I wore them all the time. Having said that, I would happily donate the black trench in favour of a new navy or lighter coloured one. It is very old but still looks pristine and it has served me well. It would serve another person who wears black better for many years more. 

I'm showing in #1 just the sweaater/ pants and then some jackets I also tried to layer. 

#4-10 show the blue layered with various items, but mostly the thick sweater. 

#11-14 show the black London Fog. 

I would love to hear any thoughts you might have. And if anyone has seen a fantastic slightly oversized trench in a lighter cool tone or navy, let me know! 

Ah, wait, final option would be a more casual type of coat to replace/ upgrade my beloved J. Crew long utility coat which I adore but which is really showing its age. 


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No repeat challenge Week 1

You've seen a few of these already. I had fun with this for exactly the reason SarahDB said she had fun -- I liked anticipating my next day's outfit. 

I definitely repeated my red velvet crops..This is their season so I am milking it. In another month or so I won't want to wear them as often. 

Monday features Fair Isle socks and loafers! Waving at SarahDB again (and thanks for the inspiration, Sarah.) It's a good challenge to beat winter doldrums.  

All outfits include a mix of old and new items. On Monday I decided to add that to the challenge -- no repeated outfits (repeated items ok), and all outfits need to mix old and newer items. 

I didn't show outerwear for every outfit but I've added other coats worn, in Finds. 


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Duped by dupes? Or dedicated to them?

We have had this conversation on the forum before but Irina's recent observations about duplication in her goals thread, and the very interesting responses made me think it might be time to revisit the subject. 

I was about to respond on her thread that I "never" duplicate, or almost never. And you know...8 months ago if I had said it, it would have been entirely true. Except for socks, undies, bras, PJs, a pair of sneakers I have repeated a bunch of times, and some Blondo booties, I had pretty much nothing in my closet that was an exact duplicate or a dupe in different colour from anything else. 

Then I thought of my more recent shopping. ;)  What is going on here? I have just purchased a ton of dupes! 

Let's start with the white oxfords. I loved them so much I bought a second pair to save for when the first pair bites the dust. They are sitting in their box in my closet. But that wasn't enough. I also bought a near dupe in a different colour. (Not quite as great, but still frequently worn.) 

There is the J. Crew cotton sweater -- same sweater in white and in navy. Both frequently worn in their season, the blue worn perhaps slightly more, but definitely not to the exclusion of the white. 

The J. Crew garçonne shirt, which I now have in 3 colourways, 2 of them striped! Also all worn, though I tend to wear them in different seasons despite the fabric being the same. 

Wit and Wisdom in charcoal plaid and one in navy. Both in constant rotation. I wear each pair at least once per week, and usually wear one pair twice a week. 

Ecco booties in cream and black patent. Again, both are in constant rotation. I do not seem to be favouring one over the other in this season, although I suspect in the long run I will wear the cream more because I'll like cream in spring/ fall/ winter and the black is mostly a winter thing for me. 

Pom Pom London bags in red and silver -- identical bag. I also got a bunch of guitar straps -- same strap, different colourway, interchangeable on these bags and my Furla satchel and my Coach bag. I haven't really had time to use the bags much yet because they were my Christmas gift to myself, but given my previous experience with two older, soon to be retired backpacks (see below) I expect both will go into heavy rotation. 

The white Ecco sneaker is a repeat style -- I update it every two years. I also duplicated in silver at a sale price and put it away for next spring. 

The Blondo booties are two remaining from an original 4 pair! (The black and taupe were worn out.) These ones do not get as much wear because they are more distinctive so they are in great shape. They date from 2018/19. I don't wear them a ton any more but I do still wear them. 

My question: What the heck is going on!?!?!?!?! 

Have I become a secret (or not so secret) uniform dresser? Have I figured out a good formula? Have I lost all originality or even my senses?  This represents a large proportion of my year's shopping (plus a few older items.) 

In all seriousness, I'm not too worried about it because I'm wearing and loving all these items, which has not always been the case for me with past duplications -- I absolutely hear Irina and others of you who have mentioned that you tend not to duplicate in another colour because one will inevitably get worn more often, etc. That was always my past experience, too! 


2023 Year End Review (Long)

I've already mentioned my top 5 acquisitions and my 5 fails. Here's a more general summary of where I've been in terms of style this year. I'll add another post with plans/ ideas for 2024. 

I bought a lot this year!  Twice my usual amount. (Collection in Finds.) Between last year and this year, I also retired many more items. So in the end, my closet remains more or less the same size. But much of what's in it is new.   

I didn't plan on this. It just kind of . . . happened. Surprise surprise, a lot of what I bought is blue. Which works with my word of the year for 2023 (flow) and my colour (indigo). Yay for that!

The previous three years, I'd found it quite difficult to source things that worked for me. But this year, I enjoyed a couple of extremely successful in-person shopping expeditions.

A major refresh made sense for me at this point, too. It's been a full decade since I built my wardrobe from scratch, and many of my essentials dated from that period. (I've been on YLF for more than 12 years!) Even after multiple edits, I still own a lot of items from my early years on YLF! But  I was seriously due for some switch ups in silhouette particularly in bottoms (especially in light of Angie's fashion diagnosis -- "trendy on the bottom"). And I'm glad to say that apart from the five items I mentioned earlier, and a few dressier things that I haven't had occasion to wear yet, i have been wearing and loving my new clothes.

Fortunately, I came into extra freelance work to help fund my purchases.  35 items were on sale, and 2 were via consignment, which helped keep costs more manageable. Note that in most cases they *happened* to be on sale when I was in the store, which definitely made it easier to take a risk. But I wasn't seeking out a sale. So apart from an online mistake, there were few sales goggles purchases. 

My current moniker is "laid back luminous garçonne," which is not so far from my old one (urban prince). I'm still and forever the somewhat polished, slightly prep, slightly punk-inflected gamine. However much I admire minimalism and avant garde looks (and I do!); however much I would love to dress like Irina or Greyscale, I always seem to gravitate back to my plaids and stripes and colours and blues and pattern mixes. Admittedly, this is not a sophisticated look for a person in her mid-60s. But it's vibrant, dynamic, and a little bit dramatic. Which seems to be what I crave at the end of the day. But who knows how things will develop in the year or two to come? I definitely feel myself influenced by the 20s (the ones 100 years ago) and by the 60s and 80s. Will that continue? Hard to say. 

I do notice some shifts in the past year: 

1. I'm wearing more dress pants during the week for work at home and in general. My Wit and Wisdom pants are on repeat and also a pair from J. Crew and one from Club Monaco.  

2. I'm wearing jeans less often.  This is a big shift for me. I still adore denim and do wear it -- but more when I'm going out!

3. I'm wearing wide legs (full length and cropped) almost exclusively. Still have a few BF jeans. Also, I wear my red velvet wide leg crops a lot and my burgundy cargo pants.

4. I'm favouring short jackets and a long coat. 

5. I'm wearing scarves again, or rather, leaning into the fact that I never really stopped. I like having some pattern near my face. 

6. Footwear comfort is becoming more important than ever. I can still wear a small heel (up to 2.5 inches) and I also like a flatform or a sneaker with cushioning/ insoles but a true flat (like a Converse sneaker) is torture for me. The toe shape, adjustability with insoles, and stability is crucial. 

Some favourite outfits from the past year. I'm low on summer outfits because I was laid up for a month following my accident. 

If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and I hope my reflections may spur some of your own. 


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Mistakes were made...

I bought a lot this year. About double my usual. I also edited out a significant number of items that were around a decade old in some cases. This makes sense. It has been a full decade since I built my wardrobe from scratch ...and I was due for a real style refresh. 

Almost all my purchases, I'm pleased to say, have been hugely successful. I'm wearing all the things and enjoying them! Thanks to Angie and the forum for helping me refine my style to the point where I make fewer errors and even my "experiments" tend to work out well. 

Having said that...there were mistakes! 

1. The EOS sneakers. I am not beating myself up about this. They were so comfy in the store! I spent a good 20 minutes walking around in them to be sure. But IRL, they were torture, and no amount of playing around with insoles, socks, bandages, or moleskins would help. Sigh. 

2. Aritzia shell, bought on consignment. I have an identical top in ecru (no pattern) that I have worn a lot. So you would think this would be a no-brainer, right? Umm. Not so much. The cut under the arms is ever so slightly different (just enough to bother me because it shows many of my bras) and every time I reached for it, I reached for something else instead. Not an expensive fail or one that is so bad for the climate, since it was second hand. But still. 

3. Cole Haan Zero grand penny loafer. This was a case of jumping on board too far, too fast and wearing sales goggles. I loved the Cole Haan stitchlight oxfords so much and I loved my last year's Sarto at-home loafers so much that I thought -- hello, this on-sale loafer could be the perfect at home shoe this winter! But no. It is nowhere near as comfy as the oxford, to start, it slides off my foot (as most loafers do), it looks cheap (as the oxfords do. not) and I feel unstylish when I wear it. Passing it on. 

4. BR cotton top. This was not a complete fail. I wore it at least 10 times during the summer. But although it looks good on me (I think) I just didn't enjoy it as much as I had anticipated. LisaP commented on her own version of this that it just didn't feel like "her" in the end. It doesn't feel not me, if that makes sense, but neither does it fill me with joy. I think -- maybe -- it's the thickness of the stripes and the stripes going in different directions on the same piece and the piece being quite short and square. But I'm not 100% sure. Anyway, it's in good condition but I'm passing it along. 

5. Sandwich top. This was actually a massive success -- to the point that it failed. I wore it so much, I literally wore holes in it! don't think these holes can be easily or invisibly repaired since it is a modal knit. I'm going to try, though. This was on repeat all summer -- I must have worn it at least 3 times a week for 4 months. And I purchased it for $30. So it worked out to more than 30 wears in one summer and less than $1 per wear. But I'll be sad to dispose of it, since it was so incredibly useful. 

I'm not sure I have any smart takeaways from this except don't purchase just because you're making another purchase or you want free shipping. The Aritzia top purchase was made at the same time I bought the Dries van Noten pants. Why not just the pants? There was no reason to add to the bag with something that might have seemed more "practical." And I bought the loafers to get free shipping on another pair of shoes (that worked out much better.) The shipping costs would have been much cheaper than the shoes! 


Top Five...and a few reflections

I've enjoyed all the summaries popping up about favourite purchases. I bought so much this year that it's hard to restrain myself to five top picks, but here's my attempt along with some reflections. 

1. The Cole Haan knit oxford. These immediately took the place of the white sneakers that decidedly did not work out. (sigh) And a more comfortable flat I have never owned. Lucky for me, they wash up beautifully in the washing machine (!) and are still in great shape after a summer's worth of heavy wear. They look great with almost everything. They are lightweight for travel, they work on my bike. They don't have the flatform/ platform I actually wanted so I could wear my full length wide legs with them, but that's ok; I have other footwear for that purpose. I love them so much that I duplicated at a sale price so I have a pair in reserve. 

2. The Zara asymmetrical knit skirt. Easy to wear, adds a bit of interest to what is, for me, an essential. 

3. Dries van Noten plaid trousers. Bought on consignment. They may come from a collection that's a decade old, but for me, they are new and fun! They were an instant summer workhorse, could be dressed up or down, did not show wrinkles. I always get compliments when I wear them. 

4. Bernardo coat. A HEWI for me, and I got it at a steal price. 

5. Paige wide leg A line jeans. Full length on me and I love the drama.

Adding another item -- the Furla satchel -- an extremely generous gift.  :)  I gave up on my quest to find bags with silver hardware. It just became impossible. But beginning with this beauty, I seem to be adapting to the gold hardware as long as it is restrained. 

Of course, all of these except the shoes are blue! And the picks are "bottoms" dominant. That makes sense in light of Angie's pronouncement about my style being "trendy on the bottom." I was way overdue for a significant reset in this area and it has paid off in wardrobe satisfaction, big time. More on that in another post. 


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. 


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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.