Killing the blues...(or, I need a fashion intervention)

Yes, I'm Queen Blue. I wear blue the way many women wear black. Blue is my best neutral and my best colour. Blue lends authority and calm. Blue can be reserved and private or electric and vivid. Blue is as deep as the oceans, as soft as mountain mists, as crisp as the north wind, as bright as a summer sky, as mysterious as the heavens when twilight nears full darkness. 

My blue and predominantly blue items across all seasons, below in Finds. There are a lot of them. This doesn't count a few unphotographed items, e.g. a RL sleeveless cotton knit shift dress -- older and rarely worn but comes into play a couple of times a year. Or things that wore out last summer and got donated, e.g. some blue shorts. Or gear. Or stuff like house shoes or slippers. Or black coats that look almost blue. 

You get the idea. 

Now, don't get me wrong. I like blue. It's my signature and my speciality and I don't intend to purge it from my closet. Au contraire! It will always be the foundation of my wardrobe. 

But LaPed's recent thread on colour complements, along with TorontoGirl's, set me to making "capsules" of my other colours and made me realize that, um,  maybe I have too much of a muchness. And if I added a bit more colour variety, my well functioning wardrobe might work even better and make me feel as if I had more options. 

At the moment, across all seasons, I have 12 red items. 3 plum/purple/ lilac. Only a few berries/ fuchsias/ magentas (another of my best colour variants). A few burgundies. And a bunch of grey and white. A decent silver/pewter accessory/ accent complement. You can view them here: https://youlookfab.com/finds/c.....usanolding

It is time to broaden my range!! 

Of course, I decide to do this just when earth tones (which typically don't flatter me) begin to trend. Sigh....

Nevertheless, here is my commitment. For the next year, I am not going to purchase any more blue!!!  Instead I will look for items in my reds (fire engine to cranberry with a bit of true red sprinkled in) berries, cool fuchsia and magenta, and purples/plums/lilacs. 

Exceptions allowed: 

  • Blue jeans (I can purchase these in trendy styles or classic as needed). 
  • Basics (bras, undies, gear, tights, etc.If I see these in blue and want them in blue, okay.) 
  • A fantastic waterproof blue raincoat, and/or a perfect navy or ink trench coat OR (in autumn) a perfect pea coat and/or long military coat with silver hardware or blue/black or pewter—if such appears. (HEWI) 
  • Blue is allowed in a print item but only if it is not the predominant colour. 
  • Possibly a blue sandal or sneaker or bag, but only if I can't find a red one I like. 

What think you? Does this make sense? Can you help me find items in my other key colours as the year goes along? Can you suggest a way to approach this, i.e. a small capsule (what items??) or complement? Or a combo capsule/complement, e.g. footwear & scarf or bag plus a top and or bottom? 

Meanwhile, I am desperately tempted to make one last blue purchase of a suit from BR, just because I adore wearing my black watch one from there so very much....

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My essentials

My wardrobe has always been essentials heavy. I find them the easiest items to buy and to identify. It interests me that so many people have trouble with this concept and I wonder why. I suspect it comes more easily for those with a style that leans heavily classic? It might be more difficult if you are an eclectic dresser. 

Anyway, here is my list for 2019 in the hope it might help someone else.
One way I think of this is -- it is a very rare outfit that does not include at least one of these elements.  The ones I pull into play most frequently vary with the seasons --- the white sneakers are a summer essential; the  navy booties, a winter essential, and so on. But if you look back over your WIWs, which items or elements get repeated again and again in different outfit combinations? Which items do you miss when they are in the laundry? Which do you reach for in those "ugh! What shall I wear??" moments? That should offer clues. 

1. Navy crewneck or turtleneck knitwear (for different seasons). (High five, Angie!)

2. Blue and white striped knitwear, or white and blue (for various seasons). (Ditto!)

3. Navy blazer

4. Slim high waisted jeans in blue and in white. (I have and enjoy other jeans but these are the essentials).

5. Long grey cardigan.

6. Denim jackets (esp. in summer — not really in winter at all.)

7. Classic navy blue outerwear. (High five, again, Angie!!) Oh, and I desperately want a military coat like yours. On my list of HEWIs. As well as an upgrade of the consignment pea coat, which is working really well for now but is not "the one." 

8. Silver or soft grey footwear across all seasons. Must have a dressy bootie, a casual bootie, a sneaker, a sandal.

9. White footwear (summer); navy or ink footwear (winter).

10. Silver watch and earrings. Belt with silver hardware.

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Suz's annual footwear flip out

Since we're on the subject of climate, this seems like a good moment for my annual footwear flip-out! 

Last year, and every year before that, it was a rant. And there was a reason for that. See photos 1-6 below. All highly typical of Kingston's weather conditions from December to April. Also typical is the mix of grey to sun. Sun is beautiful when it comes...but we get far more grey skies in winter there than sunny days. And, it's on one of the Great Lakes, so it is also windy and damp. Brrrrrrr. 

With the help of YLF friends like Annagybe, Angie, and others, I found some excellent additions for my late winter footwear wardrobe and managed to inject a bit more variety last year. (Thank you!). 

And this year? SPOILED FOR CHOICE

People, I am here to tell you...Vancouver, true, is often wet, and usually grey in winter...(pics 7-11 show my neighbourhood) but unlike in Kingston, a woman can wear ALL THE FABULOUS SHOES most of the time!!! (Okay, not the sandals, but you get the idea.) 

I am so excited!!! I don't have to start with the snow boots! In fact, I now own so many pairs of waterproof or water resistant shoes that I can actually pick between booties, mid-calf, and knee highs, black, taupe, or sapphire, dressy or casual -- no matter what the weather.

And on drier days I have silver, red, cream, and dressier shoes as well!

The weather is absolutely key to this. I have the utmost respect for those on the forum battling the conditions that I battled for so many years. You are fashionistas par excellence! You have my sympathies. 

Another component of the improvement is the fact that I'm in a larger city with more and better sidewalks, and the environmental norm, while very casual, is at least a little less casual than in Kingston. 

Oh the joys. I can't tell you how much easier it is to get dressed! 

#12 shows the water resistant and waterproof "stompier" boots for inclement weather. Can be worn in all kinds of situations, from the sidewalk to the woods. 

#13 shows the waterproof boots and booties (most a bit dressier though photo includes one boot from #12. To add: my taupe Blondos, which I didn't own when I took the photo.

#14 shows all "dressier" booties, which includes one waterproof pair. 

What's the biggest cramp to your own style that weather presents? And what has been your biggest success or revelation if you moved? 

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New house shoes

We don't wear outdoor shoes in our house and the place we are renting has very hard tile floors throughout the kitchen and family room. My previous slippers had worn out so I didn't bring them and my poor feet have been sore and sometimes cold in just socks. So I ordered a couple of Fitflops, the Uberknit slip on sneaker and a Snugg slipper.

Fitflops tend to fit large and wide but there are a few styles that work for me and I wear the adjustable sandal in summer for long walks because it helped enormously with my plantar fasciitis. I was able to get a half size in the sneaker so the fit is much better. Plus, it's the rare slip on that stays on me, due to its style and construction, which is kind of nice.  Meanwhile, the lining of the slipper keeps it snug enough for me (ha ha). And insanely warm!! Too warm for today. (Our temperature is about 11C). 

Not a major "fashion" purchase but for those who need the cushioning, these seem like a good deal at the moment. They come in many colours. 

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2019 Fashion Goals (Long)

Hello YLF friends! Having done my review for 2018, I'm ready to set some goals for the new year. 

First, a review of the 2018 goals:

To do a thorough closet review and edit. Check

2. To wear outfits that are:

  • Modern
  • Crisp
  • Retro
  • Vivid
  • Practical

At the time, Angie observed that retro was a new word for me. It turned out, it wasn't quite me, either, though I did purchase a few markedly retro items (Snow Queen coat, pink tartan jacket).  On the whole, outfits were Modern, Classic, Vivid, Practical, and Playful.

3. To look for statement or luxury items (e.g. jewellery or bags or jackets) from local designers, special vintage shops, etc. 

Check. Two statement purchases bought on consignment.

4. Continue to increase representation of red in the closet!

Check

5. Continue my search for key HEWIs — a white sandal, for example. A bright sandal.

Found white sandal and bright sandal but will be on the lookout for another bright one this summer because last year’s didn’t work out.

Next, in the photos, see some of my favourite outfits. 

The first part of 2018 was incredibly difficult for me in personal terms so none of my outfits date from that time. Starting in around June, life started improving. 

Looking over these outfits, what I see (or what I liked about them): 

Comfortable — no tight waistbands, fussy parts.

Practical — suited the day’s activities and weather, allowed me to walk.

Classic — each outfit has at least one classic or even iconic element, whether it be a denim jacket or a blazer.

Modern — all outfits show the influence of trends, some of them absolutely of the moment and some a few years old but not dated. Plaid, floral print, long cardigans, stripes, oversized scarf, crushed velour, backpack, Fair Isle (sort of), western belt, wide legs, crops, slim high waist jeans.

Neutral AND colourful — my wardrobe is very neutral heavy but I really love a pop of colour.

Playful — from whimsical patterns to wild card statements to sneakers, there is often an element of fun.

Juxtaposition — usually a dressed down element with a dressed up element (jeans with cashmere or silk or velvet, a denim jacket with culottes, suit with tee and sneakers.)

What to make of this?


Angie calls my style “trendy classic” and I guess, if the shoe fits... The question now is do I want to continue in this direction or evolve in a new one? That remains to be seen.

I often flirt with the idea of a strong signature style a la Gryffin and often think I want to move in that direction. And yet, I also don’t, because I playing with trends is part of what I find fun about fashion. Are the two impulses mutually exclusive? I don’t know. Gryffin mentioned “still” as a keyword for her own style, which makes so much sense! But for me, I think the word “movement” would need to take the place of still. I need a dynamic element. I guess that is the mark of a gamine style. 

I have really loved reading Brooklyn’s recent planning posts where she considers a whole mood or theme that she wants to develop. I have never really thought about this — I tend to go with the flow of what appears at retail. That is partly just a lack of imagination, I suspect. And it derives from my need when I joined YLF to build a wardrobe from nothing - I had to do a fair amount of buying at once.

Could I come up with a theme for the year and develop it? That might require developing a new fashion moniker. "Trendy classic" could describe my style, all right, but it's a pair of adjectives, not a moniker (to me). So, what's the moniker. Not urban prince any longer. Hmmm...I wlll need to ponder. 

In the meantime, Goals for 2019:

1. Continue to wear outfits that are: Modern, Classic, Vivid, Practical, and Playful.

2. Spend time reflecting on how I can reconcile my “trendy” style persona with my ethical aspirations. Shopping for statement items (and even some essentials) via consignment is one way; patronizing local and/or ethically conscious designers for essentials is another. But what about wardrobe churn? I plan to set aside a weekend just to research, and another weekend to reflect on it and make some plans.

In the meantime, I will continue my more-or-less intuitive style of shopping — editing out what’s worn or doesn’t fit or doesn’t please me and adding as I see fit, just observing my patterns without judgement.

3. Revisit the idea of a work-from-home “uniform” that does not include jeans-- given my recent worn out pair! Looking at these Everlane pants (in Finds) - anyone know them?

4. Revamp/upgrade my gear. I got out of the habit of regular workouts for most of the year and want to inspire myself to get. back into them. 

6. Have fun with fashion!! Continue to check out Vancouver's fab consignment stores. Play with colour (esp. RED) and generally have a good time. 

Thank you for reading and I am all ears if you have suggestions or observations that I may have missed. 

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2018 in Review (Long)

Reflections on my year in fashion and style. Very long -- please don't read if it is not your cup of tea! 

By the numbers: 

Bought — 52 items. Here's the entire collection. 

Retired — 62 and also put a dozen or more (if you count bags and scarves and parkas and boots) in holding zone

So I ended up with a slightly leaner but still substantial wardrobe.

I didn’t keep strict track of the age of items I retired but I did track reasons for retirement

I had very few “failed” buys this year, but I did retire a few failed buys from previous years. I wore those items for at least a season and they didn’t go completely to waste, but in wearing them I decided I didn’t like them. (Crop flared trousers, bell sleeved blouse, leopard print jeans, I am looking at you).

Half of what I retired was either worn out (irreparably stained, out of shape, pilled, ripped, worn down, etc.) or didn’t fit properly (in some cases due to weight gain and in some cases for obscure reasons that only became clear on wear — mostly footwear.) I also retired a lot of jeans this year due to low waists that felt dated for my style. I tried to update with mixed results — but that is info for another post.

What the numbers mean: 

After several years of review and tracking, I notice that I have bought and retired approximately the same number of items each year. I guess, then, it is fair to say that given the resources and opportunity, I naturally gravitate toward what Angie classifies as a moderate sized wardrobe. (Currently 130 items including bags, coats, dresses, skirts, trousers, denim, shirts/ blouses, knit tops, knitwear, toppers and all non-gear footwear but not scarves and jewellery or gear.) Also, I apparently like to replace about one third of the wardrobe every year.

This makes a certain amount of sense for someone who lives in a true four season climate, who holds multiple roles, some in the public eye and some very casual, who, ahem, likes clothes and wears the heck out of them, and whose style has been dubbed “trendy classic” by Angie. The classic items last longer in my closet — up to 10 years. But the trendier items get moved along within a 3 year span.

My wardrobe sounds large compared with Jenn’s lean and hard-working closet (117 items, including scarves and gear) and probably small compared to other forum members’ wardrobes.

Still, looking at the numbers, I feel as if I bought an awful lot, perhaps more than I’d ideally like, going forward. I want to reflect on that. 

In context — I was a chronic underbuyer for two decades or more, so really had almost nothing for years. Sometimes I think I’m making up for lost fashion fun now! My wardrobe and dressing is my hobby and a source of genuine pleasure. At the same time, I care about working conditions in the industry and care about our environment and want to think more seriously about how I can honour those values while still indulging my love of fashion and style.  

Further reflections:

Of my 52 purchases, 44 were bought on sale and 4 bought on consignment or second hand. In other words, in 2018, I paid full price for only 4 items! That was not by plan or design — it’s just how things worked out. I’m not sure what to make of it, but obviously buying on sale allowed me to fit more purchases in my (rather flexible) budget. (I say flexible because I set a nominal figure and then if I get a yen to buy more stuff I usually take on an extra contract to pay for it.)

Most frequently worn items (see Finds): CoH Rockets (worn out now!); Gap white GF jeans, Summit pewter chelsea boot, EF silver sport sandal, Plenty grey sweater, western belt, RM backpack in light grey. 

I won’t do “least worn” because many  items were purchased so recently that I don’t know how much I’ll wear them. None of my purchases this year were “mistakes.” I think that's the first time I can honestly say that -- which presumably means I am getting better at buying for my real life and aspirational style and at integrating the two. 

My biggest disappointment was the Franco Sarto sandal. The insole keeps coming unstuck, even though I have tried to repair it. I think I’m going to have to pass that sandal on. The J. Crew tees are just so-so; bought with sales goggles and free delivery in mind but might demote to PJs this coming summer. I haven’t worn the sparkly camisole but it was so inexpensive at $12 or so, I thought it worth the purchase — it’s part of the occasion wear capsule to wear under a jacket and because the straps are adjustable it can be pulled up high enough on the chest to be less exposing than some -- relevant to small chested moi. 

Best summer switch up: Dresses! (In Pics) How I loved switching from shorts to casual dresses and skirts this past summer. I almost never feel “put together” in shorts but always feel presentable in a dress. Thank you, Boden, for high quality dresses and knits!

Best statement purchases (in Finds): J. Crew liberty print 2 piece dress. Versatile, happy, fabulous fabric, fun, pretty, fresh. I adore this outfit. It feels every bit as much “me” as my beloved t-necks, booties, jeans, and jacket formula. Western belt — bowing to Gryffin, who’d been urging this on me (correctly!!) for years.

Best wildcards: Two of my consignment purchases - the Pink Tartan jacket, and the "Max Mara" Snow Queen coat. 

Instant workhorse items (in Finds): Blondo Elvira booties, western belt, Phoebe dress, Plenty cardigan, Judith and Charles pea coat, RM backpack.

There you have it. That's my roundup for now. I'll be back in a few days with goals and intentions for the year ahead. Thank you for reading if you got this far and I'd love to hear your thoughts and observations. 

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White jeans in winter & Boden Tilly

Those of you who live in the Pacific Northwest know that yesterday must have set some kind of record for dark and rain. Today, there is actually some sun behind the cloud. 

Wear ye white jeans while ye may, I always say. 

I took inspiration from the fourth outfit with the plaid jacket. Navy instead of black, a t-neck instead of a v-neck, a navy plaid rather than black and white, and voila. Tried it with pearls and without.

The pearls feel a bit unnatural on me with this outfit -- I think it's the wrong type of strand -- a simpler one might feel better. (I do like wearing these with other outfits. But I have to be careful because they are on the warm side now for my colouring. As a blonde it was easier to wear pearls.)

Love the Tilly. Soft, warm, not itchy (because it's cotton). An absolute essential for me and I'd been missing a ribbed navy t-neck for the last year. 

Also, how many times can I say I love you to these Aquatalias bought last winter at the Rack for -- actually, $0, because I had a Nordstrom note? Oh my goodness, these are amazing. I adore them. Work with dresses and pants, always look sleek and polished. Waterproof and warm. 

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Yes, Virginia, jeans do wear out.

We've been comparing wear-out statistics in our end of year roundups and reflections and on a couple of threads some of us mentioned that our jeans wear out while others say theirs never do. 

Several of us who wear our denim out also wear it a lot more, I suspect—either because we have fewer pairs in our collection (NOT me, ha!) or because we wear jeans more often and for longer periods and possibly in rougher situations. 

Last night I sat down to supper and felt an unmistakable riiiiiiiip. Oh no, there they go. My fave high waisted CoH jeans. 

I bought these about a year ago on style exchange from forum member Sarah. (Thanks, Sarah!)

Sarah hadn't worn them much so they were in good condition. I would say I wore them an average of 2 days a week -- much less in summer, and more in winter, spring, fall. It would average at about 100 wears. 

For reference, they were skinnies but not overly tight. I have large thighs for my size, but my legs don't rub when I walk (or at least I'm never aware of any friction there and don't need slip shorts or similar in summers). Still, I often strain the fabric in the inner thigh area because I tend to sit cross-legged or with knees curled up. Also, when I wear them, I wear them all day as a rule -- not just for a few hours after work. 

It's possible that if these jeans were stretchier and softer, I wouldn't strain them as much. I tend to prefer my denim structured with only a bit of stretch and a real denim feel. That means there is less "give." On the other hand, if they were stretchier they might have bagged out or faded too much in the same amount of time. 

I could, of course, patch them, but experience tells me this is not a comfortable location for a patch. Luckily, I have a near replacement.

Anyway. Joining Cindy in offering thanks. Thanks dear CoH Rockets, you served me well! 

And congratulating those of you who manage to keep your clothes in working order for longer than I do! 

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How I Wear Grey

What a gorgeous model in today's blog post! Inspiring to those of us with grey, silver, salt and pepper, and white hair. Thank you, Angie!

I'm extremely cool toned, so cool toned greys from charcoal to slate to pearl grey have always worked well on me, even when my hair was blonde. Now that my hair is grey, I choose grey as a neutral more and more. But, as I mentioned in the blog comments, I would feel dull and washed out in an outfit that was all grey, even the most flattering shade. I need to enliven grey with red or fuchsia or white or silver or blues (or some combination of those) to feel like myself.

And I am wary of buying grey coats. I actually own three (one mixed media with black leather sleeves; one slate grey puffer, one "Snow Queen" dressy coat) but for the same reasons Angie describes, I get very depressed by wearing them too much and have to alternate with other coats and/or wear with bright accessories or I feel miserable! 

A couple of recent outfits featuring greys...

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NAS Hits, Maybes, and Misses (?)

I loved Angie's analysis this morning and decided to do one of my own. 

My NAS strategy, if you can call it that, is:

  • Replenish worn out basics. (Hard to find bra size makes this a really smart plan -- NAS always has the Natori Feathers, which works for me, and occasionally something else I can wear.) 
  • Prioritize higher end waterproof footwear that I probably couldn't find/ afford at full price.
  • Look for higher end items such as bags, coats, etc. when needed. (Didn't get anything like that this year.) 
  • Read Angie's recommendations, esp. if she personally recommends something. 
  • Try a wild card. 

I don't always achieve all of these. This year I didn't really get a wild card, for example. 

Below, you can see this year's purchases. As for the results? 

So far, the basics are clear winners. CPW already very low. :) 
The Zella hoodie is another win -- with a caveat. I love wearing this soft and textured item. It even turned into a surprise wild card in the sense that I bought it purposely oversized and as such, it is the first true tunic I've enjoyed wearing! But it is already starting to pill. :( So I don't think it will last too many seasons. 

The Kut ponte pants are another clear winner. I don't usually like stretchy skinnies, but these are so comfy and easy to wear. Great for tucking into tall boots on rainy days. 

I wear the scarf pretty much weekly -- so it is another key player this fall. 

Meanwhile, I have not worn the Carie booties as much as I anticipated. That's partly because I have a wealth of other booties to choose from! But also, the ankle slips down on me/ slouches a bit with movement. So I don't get a nice smooth fit with them. I couldn't have known this on purchase -- they seemed fine at home. They are otherwise comfortable, so we'll see how I do with them as the season progresses. I'm really spoiled with footwear now -- so many choices! It may be these come into play a little later in the season. 

My 3 less worn items, predictably, are the dressier ones. The floral dress I have worn three times. I agree with everything Angie says about it. Super comfy and easy to wear. I just don't wear it for work at home days. For me, it's for dates and special outings. 

The shirt dress: Have not worn yet. I got it too late in the season and then was in the midst of a move. I am sure I'll wear it come spring, so I'm unconcerned. 

The EF pumps. So far, unworn. I'm not sorry I bought them (yet) because at some point I'm going to need a dressy shoe, and I didn't have one in the closet. But I need to make an excuse to put them on! 

The lesson I can draw from this so far is that I need to remember at sale time that my real life is casual, as opposed to my fantasy life. I wear dresses as casual wear all summer, but find it harder to wear them in cool temps when I need to wear tights/ hose (that my cat might put runs in.) 

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