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. 


My Brooklyn Summer Bust

From the moment Brooklyn began posting about her last year's summer formula of skirt with (special) tee or other top, I decided this was going to be my summer formula, moving forward, as well. If she could manage it with her active dog-walking lifestyle, so could I. Casual, breezy, comfortable, yet dressier and more grown-up than shorts. It really is the perfect solution! If you get the right style of skirt, it will even work on a bike. 

Well, guess what. My Brooklyn-inspired summer is a total bust. 

1. There is no summer. 
2. I cannot find the right skirts. 

Whereas last year we were roasting under a heat dome, this has been the coldest, cloudiest, and wettest spring on record in my part of the world. We haven't even finished setting up our deck furniture and I haven't got all my planters filled. I had to wear a puffer jacket to go on a walk the other night. 

As for the skirts, I am out of luck. 

Exhibit A is a skirt I tried from Zara. A terrific cotton/ linen blend -- it looks fine (at least I think so) but it was a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen -- there was absolutely not enough fabric to prevent it from blowing open at the first breeze. 

As for Exhibit B, the Madewell skirt, it was cut more generously but the fabric felt flimsy and cheap and I did not like it against the skin. 

I really prefer a natural fabric, especially a linen cotton blend of some kind, because most polyesters feel sticky and uncomfortable to me in the heat. I'm also trying to avoid ditsy florals (although I would go ditsy-adjacent) and too much black. So that ruled out a lot of potential options. I really, really, really love Brooklyn's asymmetrical skirts the best—they create such a gorgeous line—so that is what I would prefer. But a simple A-line or a gored skirt would be fine if I could get one that works well. 

At this point, I have pretty much given up the search. I own a couple of older skirts that will fill the need this summer, given how few days of warm sunshine we are likely to get, so I think I will stick with those, plus shorts. 


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Travel Capsule

Here's my tentative travel capsule. Weather is all over the place -- it might be 30C and humid, might be 18 and raining, or 23 and breezy. 

I'll be 4 days in the Toronto area visiting my brother and a friend there -- so some city stuff -- meals out -- but mostly just walking and talking. 

The rest of the time (8 days) in the Kingston area, visiting friends, again, mostly casual. I also have to attend a memorial service while I am there. I don't really have the right footwear for that, but what I have will have to do. 

I will add an umbrella, PJs, rain jacket, more jewellery to this. I *think* it's enough (esp. considering I can layer many of these items), but hope I'm not missing anything crucial. 

I got a new pair of the Eileen Fisher sport sandals. I wore my old ones to bits and did not have a pair last year. I would have tried something different this year – I was particularly interested in a fisherman's sandal – but was not able to find anything of that type, in the end, and knew that these sandals in silver are quite versatile and bookending to my hair, so I went ahead and re-purchased. They are versatile, if not the most current, and maybe the little platform makes them a bit more current anyway. 

The paint splash sleeveless top is new from Sandwich. I ordered a few items from them on sale and was quite pleased, especially with this little summer top. 

OMG I need a haircut. Coming tomorrow!! 


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...or shorter ones

Today's post was relevant to me because on Thursday, I head to Ontario for the first time since Covid restrictions came into effect. I'm still working on the travel capsule, but I think I have my flight outfit organized. I don't run quite as cold as Angie so I don't need as many layers, but I do follow the same principles, albeit in a more casual, slightly less polished key -- practical footwear, pants with ease or stretch, layered knit tops, toppers that are easy to stash. 

Here's my planned outfit, minus watch and earrings and mask, of course! 

The sweater is a replacement for my old Halogen red duster, which after four (or five?) years was pilled and faded. This one is of similar (low-ish) quality and low price point. The fabric is actually nicer than the Halogen, and the pockets are slash-style (more usable than the Halogen's patch pockets), but it has dropped shoulders, which are not as good on me. However, it's fire engine red and it's the right length, so it will do. 


Team Navy, Reporting for Duty (with a Side of Cobalt)

Carla's thread about her navy purchases this year got me thinking about how dominant navy is in my wardrobe. I posted Finds on her thread and then realized I'd missed a bunch of items. This is just my navy/ ink or navy predominant items, mind you. I also have a lot of items with a white or grey dominant background and smatterings of navy in the pattern. And I've left my dark denim out of this collection, too, even though it more or less counts. I just edited out a few navy items, also, or this collection would have been even larger! 

The first six items were purchased this year -- the rest go back to 2014. Navy has longevity in my closet and I often look for a replacement item before the current navy essential wears out. 

I'm also a huge royal or cobalt fan, too, but it's more an accent. 

Navy's my dark neutral and almost all my essentials are in navy (and denim). I have almost no black in my closet apart from footwear and a couple of tops and coats. 

Who else has navy as their dark neutral? 


K/R summer dress Barbour vs. Babar -- update: returning after all.

Like Janet and a few others, I've been on the hunt for an easy summer dress to replace a couple I've retired due to wear. What I want is an easy, casual dress to wear around the house (or out, if the spirit moves) and it can't be short or overly bare. 

Today I got this dress from Barbour. 


  • Gorgeous cotton jersey, nice hand and weight -- 1000 times nicer than most dresses of this kind. 
  • Navy stripe reads as faux solid grey -- works easily for me due to my colouring. 
  • Easy fit. 
  • Pockets.
  • Nice length. Can wear with sneakers, sandals, stompy boots in early fall. 
  • Works with my denim jackets. 
  • Affordable (I got it on sale). 


  • Why oh why did they embroider Barbour on the boob??????? (Note -- this is not visible in the product photo — artfully disguised by the model's hair. Nor is it mentioned in a single review!!!) 

I'm frustrated. I think this little nameplate is a deal breaker for me and it's so unfortunate because the dress is otherwise great. Admittedly, the gathering initially made me wonder if it reads as too young or twee for me, but I could overlook that for the sheer comfort factor, TBH. 

Would love your thoughts, though. Maybe I can accept this for mostly at-home wear...

ETA: Possible solution downthread, thanks to NancyW

So....on reflection, I've decided to return this dress after all. I love a lot about it, but even though at a sale price, it's more than I want to spend on something that's going to bug me whenever I wear it. Now, on the lookout for a similar thing. Sigh....


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Brand Loyalty and Brand New

The second part of my birthday treat to myself was a red jacket to replace my BR military style red jacket. That is a fun piece but the red was too orange for my complexion and increasingly I felt uncomfortable wearing the style. I like how military themed items look on me. Not camo. I mean double breasted, buttoned, high collar or pop-able collar, epaulets, etc. -- these elements tend to suit me. It is a rare item in this style that doesn't light me right up!

But I'm uncomfortable with some of the associations. And particularly in bright red, the combination of these elements seemed to make a statement I didn't want to make. I still have my short navy military style jacket and own several trenches, and I wouldn't be against adding more! But there was something about that jacket...I'd reach for it, put it on, and then take it off and put the blue on on instead. Anyway. I haven't donated it ... yet...but it's now in a holding zone while I deliberate further.

A short red jacket seemed like a good alternative, so I ordered the Hackness (which Angie also owns) from Hobbs. 

Hobbs is a new-to-me brand (although I did own a pre-loved Hobbs jacket years ago). I almost sent this back because it is a bit snug across the shoulders. But the next size up would be too large, and sending back to the UK would be a huge pain. So I wore it around the house and it seemed to relax some. Also, comparing it to other jackets I realized it was not that much different -- I'm just unused to wearing jackets! 

Other elements here are J. Crew. (tee and wool culottes). J. Crew didn't get much love from most people on Carla's thread, but a huge proportion of my wardrobe comes from there. That's probably about to end, since there are no stores in Canada now so returns will be much trickier and pricier. For now, though, I'm grateful for the many long-lasting pieces I have from them in my closet. These culottes are gorgeous quality, were quite fashion forward when I bought them in 2014 or 2015 (?) and still don't feel dated to me, and are in terrific shape. 

Nothing fancy or special, just a  double plaid stripes and red teaching day. Oh, I wore my red mask instead of my N94 and the students loved the matchy matchy. Also, we had a great submission in class about second-hand shopping. :) 


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Coat column

I wasn't sure whether to link this post to this header, to today's sale items, or to the coat column blog post. This item ticks all the boxes. 

Here's my birthday gift to myself (or part of it -- more to come): A fabulous unplanned wardrobe purchase of the Hobbs Saskia trench in royal blue, bought on sale, worn as a "coat column" of blue. 

The trench is a sort of HEWI -- for years I have wanted a light or bright trench to supplement my two black trenches, acquired a decade ago and still going strong -- but not my favourite coats because they are black. This trench won't replace either of those -- it is a different creature. Heavier weight than either of my others and extremely well made, it's a six-month (or more) coat a year in this climate and will probably last me forever since it's such a classic style. 

It's a perfect tailored fit. I can layer a heavier sweater under it but it's less comfortable that way through the shoulders. I think it would work with a blouse and spring jacket, though (vs. a mid weight knit, which I am wearing here). 

As usual, our weather is grey, so it is hard to get accurate representations of the colour. (Why do you think I need a bright coat, LOL?)  But this gives the idea -- it's somewhere between royal and cobalt. 


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Looking forward: Style reset? (Long)

As I mentioned in my year-end review, I'm feeling bored and a bit disenchanted with my wardrobe and my style. Time to shake things up! 


A lot of my clothes are quite old. I edit regularly twice per year, but with a moderately large wardrobe and careful laundering/ drying, most things last for a long time — except footwear, jeans, underwear and some gear. This is even more true during COVID, when I barely wore my jackets for an entire year.

I still like a lot of these older items. Some are “icons” in Brooklyn’s sense. (Love that term and her new shopping strategy!) The silk blouse with the pattern that harmonizes perfectly with eyes and hair (See pic 10), the silk blouse with the Siamese cat print, the long gilet. With my casual lifestyle, I rarely wear these items at the best of times, and even less during the pandemic. But I’m loathe to let them go.

Some are essentials that have not worn out. They are serviceable. It seems wasteful to get rid of them simply because I’m tired of looking at them! Plus, I wear them. But some of them are probably less than a 10 in terms of fit or condition.

Then there are the items that I don’t let go because I don’t have adequate replacements. My black watch suit (pic 5). (I love a pantsuit I can casualize). Some of my jeans. (Don’t love them any more but it’s a need, so…). Most of these aren’t true “essentials” (well, jeans are, but…). You get the idea. 

Onwards to goals:

  1. A thorough closet edit. I already edit regularly but this time I need to be more selective than usual and say goodbye to some old favourites that just are not cutting it any more, either due to fit, function, or disfavour.
  2. Attempt a style reset. Periodically I make claims that I want to add some avant-garde “edge” to my style…and then fail to follow through. Often, this is because such pieces tend to be made in black, and I rarely wear black. And anyway, in the few instances when I have managed to source something that seems to fall into this category, I rarely wear it because it feels inauthentic or too difficult to style. (Probably I lack the complements I would need.) I know COS could be a potential source…but I have not had luck there so far with fit or even in finding the items in store that I might like to try.
  3. It looks like I will be teaching online in January and possibly for the rest of the term. So I want to come up with WFH outfits that comfortable and practical but also satisfying to wear.

I'll get to the more aspirational part of the analysis later -- (word and colour of the year). This is already long enough. 

For now, some so-called "outfits" from last year -- not favourites, note -- just times when I put actual clothes on! :)  Most were taken in the fall when I was working outside the home for a change and had some public facing engagements. 


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



Well, not quite. I don't have a photo of me in the outfit yet but I have long days out of the house today and tomorrow and don't think I will get a chance to take a pic in time. So, for now...

This was for a real party -- my first "in person" book event, held at a friend's home last weekend. We had readings, and music, and (gasp!) dancing. I should note, this was all within guidelines --  we had a strictly limited guest list, all guests were double vaxxed and known to hosts, and the event was outdoors, though there was a roof over parts (and thank goodness since it poured.

I'd call it "creative cocktail" I guess. Sneakers, because -- outside! 

BTW, I LOVED wearing the new skirt and I got a ton of compliments on it. 

When I get a chance, I'll take a photo of the outfit.