Edit/ review/ refresh

I've identified a wardrobe hole. 

I need a couple of sleeveless tops, maybe lace, maybe patterned, something that is okay on its own but is also going to look great layered under a blazer or other jacket in transitional weather. Similar to what Viva wore in her recent presentation, but that's just one example of a style that might work. 

Three times in the past few weeks I reached in vain for such a thing. Why have I never noticed how much I needed it? Probably because we have so little transitional weather and maybe because I wasn't wearing my blazers quite as often for a few years?  Also, I had to retire a cream silk shell that used to serve this purpose due to staining. 

I have a couple of Everlane silk summer shells that theoretically could serve this purpose but the colours aren't quite right, I guess. 

I have this structured peplum knit from J. Crew and it is useful at times but the peplum falls in the wrong way for some jackets, plus the cream is not my best colour. 

Anyone have any suggestions? Best if I can order online in Canada since I'm unlikely to be able to shop in store any time soon. Unfortunately, that rules out WHBM because I don't think they deliver here. Otherwise the top below might work -- not that I know how this brand fits....

11 comments

Statements I'm Not Wearing: For Angie

On Helena's thread about breaking a bad editing cycle, I mentioned that I haven't been wearing a number of statement items I purchased last year. Actually, I've barely worn the ones I purchased this year, either. Angie kindly asked to see them so here are some of my Finds with explanations. 

1. Halogen red pants. Only managed to wear twice, at home, not on the street. They feel too...bold. Also, it turns out that I don't really like this kick crop style on me, even in black. I *do* still wear my black pair, though. In fact, I wore them last night. The fabric is the perfect winter weight. And they are good for travel. So even though I prefer a tapered pant to one with this little bottom-of-calf flare on my own legs, and even though I prefer navy or grey to black, I wear those black Halogen crops. But red? What was I thinking? 

2. Sequinned culotte. Okay, so this is special occasion wear and the occasion has not arisen. I will give myself a pass on that. These cost me all of  $25 and I adore them. I think they have closet longevity. Next! 

3. Vince dress. Purchased several years ago. Arguably not a statement but came with a statement price tag, even on sale. It really only works for me in early autumn, and again, I didn't have an occasion. It's also "special occasion wear" for me. If I liked it over trousers or jeans it might be easier, but I still can't get used to that look (on me) and whenever I try it, I end up peeling it off and putting on something that feels more "me." It was a lot of money for something I wear so seldom. I like it a lot. But it makes me feel guilty to see it unworn in the closet. 

4. J. Crew jacket. I *did* wear this several times in the autumn as a matter of fact, and I will probably wear it again in early spring. But "several times" does not feel like enough for an item this pricey. Yes, I still need to change out the gold buttons. Haven't found any I like yet. I'm sure that affects number of wears. It's just so much easier for me to wear my navy blazer or my new plaid one. (And I *do* wear those -- but they are not statements!) 

5. BR stand collar jacket. I've only had this a few months and I *have* in fact worn it (outside the house, too!) 3 times. It's a great little jacket...but it feels a bit "costumey" in a way my blue knit military jacket does not. Of course, this is precisely what might make it work for public appearances and such. And that is the reason I bought it. But is it *too* costumey? I think it might be. I think I want to get my drama in other ways. (See gilet, below). 

6. Moto. This is arguably not a "statement" and not a new purchase either, but I barely wore it last spring. And didn't wear at all last fall. What is going on? 

7. Blue cropped sweater. I love this. Why am I not wearing it? I need high waisted pants for it, like the J. Crew culottes. But I haven't worn the culottes. Just not feeling them and plus, we have so much snow here! Yes, I have underlayers for them but I hate the bunching. 

8. Bell sleeve top. It feels boring. And I don't like the sleeves. They get in the way of everything. 

9. J. Crew Culottes: see above. Love the drape of these but sometimes feel a bit "plump" in them, probably because I have to layer so darn much to make them work! 

10. Gilet. Well, what can I say? I'm still not sorry I bought this. This is the thing that represents my aspirational style in as complete a way as possible. I adore this. Adore it!! It makes me feel like a million dollars. I just never find a place or time to wear it! Partly because of the coat issue. I don't have a coat that works over top and I need it in my climate. 

11. Leopard corduroy skinny. Again, I've worn these about 4 or 5 times since purchasing in November. They're not as comfy as I had hoped at the waistline, which is part of it. But also, the pattern...the pattern...sometimes it just feels like too much! 

12. All. The. Pretty. Booties. We all know why I am not wearing these. If more explanation is needed, see attached photos of what is happening in my world today. 

This is really interesting. I am not sure what to take from it, though. Suggestions welcome! 

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89 comments

Essentially speaking...

I love the annual essentials review. Maybe that's because, like EmilyK and a few others here, a large proportion of my wardrobe is comprised of essentials! And left to my own foolish ways, I might never buy anything else. (This is why YLF is good for me. Breaks me out of my rut.)

Like Angie, I'm going to break mine down into categories and compare to past preferences.

Jeans: I've been trying to wear jeans less often and I'm wearing trousers and even skirts and dresses much more this year, which has been a lovely change. But jeans are an absolute staple of my style and I don't know what I would do without them. White and denim blues are essential in a skinny/ slim and slim BF type style. Others, like burgundy BFs, are workhorses but probably not an absolute essential.

Navy blazer: I love jackets of all kinds and have a number of statement items. But a fantastic navy jacket is absolutely crucial for my style. If I find the *right* houndstooth jacket it will join the navy in my pantheon of rock solid dependable loves. Even though it will straddle the line between essential and statement. :)

Navy knitwear for all seasons. Unlike Angie and a few others, I do wear t-shirts and quite like them if I can get the neckline and sleeves right for my frame. Graphic tees are brilliant when I'm aiming for outfit juxtaposition. But as a calm base layer for a column of colour (with denim), nothing beats navy knitwear with a crew neck, jewel neck, slash or envelope neck, or turtleneck (depending on temperatures.) I like to have tops like the J. Crew Jackie in light cotton or the linen 3/4 length sleeve tee for summer, and merino and cashmere "tee" like sweaters and turtlenecks for layering over in cold weather.

Stripes: This is hands down my favourite pattern and favourite pattern to pattern mix with! I wear stripes more often in spring and summer but I'm thrilled with my stripey winter items too. Mostly knits.

L(Blue)Dress: I have a number of these in different levels of formality for different seasons. I wear the casual versions much more often, of course, but the dressy versions make me feel like a million trillion dollars and it's so great to know you have something to wear when an occasion arises!

Silver and grey footwear: This bookends with my silvery hair and blends well with denim yet gives a kick (especially metallic). I will continue to collect silver, pewter, and grey footwear. I also love white and navy/ ink for footwear. Navy could become an essential if I found the right pieces.

Silver watch, earrings, bracelet, and statement ring. I don't have Finds yet for all of these but they are signature style items and I always wear them.

Belts: I really should invest a few dollars in belts because I love them. I'm still wearing an old Canadian Tire leopard belt (no Find). I need to prioritize purchase of these this year.

A beautiful and capacious bag. Can't be tiny. I love structured bags but they often overwhelm me if big enough for my needs, so I tend to carry a soft hobo nowadays.

Denim shirt and navy woven tops. I wear denim shirts often with white jeans or with black or navy trousers or with pretty dressy skirts. It dresses down these items just enough for me. I wear the woven tops less often in winter but really all year. 

Navy coat for various seasons and levels of formality. (My puffer is similar but not the same brand. No Find.) Still in search of my perfect pea/ military coat. And my perfect navy trench. 

I would like to add "patterned silky blouse or shirt" and "bright knit top" but that would take me over into statement territory, I think? What say you, Angie? Have I identified essentials correctly?  This is my "uniform" I would say. 

24 comments

What's your surprising summer MVP?

I know that summer has just begun for most of us, but this subject is on my mind because recently, we had a hot day and I pulled out my own surprising most valuable player -- which is 3 years old and still going strong. 

What makes it a "surprising" MVP? 

  • It comes from the Loft -- who'd have thought it would still be going strong after 3 years? I literally put this thing into my cart because it was on sale and I had a credit from some t-shirts that had developed holes on their first wear. I had ZERO expectations. Loft, you proved me wrong. 
  • Made of thin cotton voile -- not exactly the most durable fabric, in theory. 
  • Bought on a whim for a specific purpose (trip to hot, hot China in July). Never imagined it would become a workhorse later. 

What makes it a most valuable player? Well, it goes with everything! 

Something about this style (bat sleeves, curved hem, a bit shorter than many tops) makes it highly versatile -- I wear it tucked and untucked, with medium and high rises. It works with a tube skirt, skinny jeans, culottes, wide crops, shorts -- really, pretty much every bottom.

I can layer a cami under it for greater warmth or modesty. (It is quite sheer, but the pattern hides a nude bra enough for me.) I can also layer a sweater or jacket over it for warmth. 

The blue and white is my signature, gingham is a favourite pattern of mine, and the pattern seems a good scale for me. 

It often does not require ironing -- the wrinkles fall out when I hang it up straight out of the wash. It dries really quickly if I have to hand wash. 

It packs up into nothing. 

What's your surprising MVP, if you have one, and why? And, pray tell, how the heck can we learn to identify these items before wasting our money on other, less worthy contenders! 

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49 comments

Apple red? in Montreal

Hello, Lovelies!

I post from sunny Montreal where DH and I have landed for his birthday weekend. :)  That is the good news. That, plus the sunshine, after weeks of cold and heavy rain where I live. 

There is no bad news, or not exactly. It's just that my slight hourglass/ rectangle shape seems to be verging on apple these days, or at least that is how I am beginning to feel as I play with the new proportions. Maybe I'm just coming face to face with my short-waistedness, which lower waists used to disguise. Anyway, I bought this new skirt from Aritzia. Love the colours (red and fuchsia with bits of yellow, white, and blue/black). I can't get a full length photo, unfortunately -- we are in my stepson's place and no full length mirror. But I will put some other elements of the outfit in Finds -- imagine it with the library stamp Out of Print tee (no Find) and my cropped distressed denim jacket (no Find). 

Anyway, I got the skirt to replace my J. Crew A-line which somehow did not make me happy. I wanted a change up from summer tube skirts. It could be that pleats all the way up to the waist are not the best idea. But the fit is nice and it is comfortable and the pleats stay in -- no wrinkles, either, after a day of travel in the car. I am not sure what other tops to wear with it. I did a bit of experimentation in the closet and came up unhappy, but I was very tired during try-on sessions. 

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35 comments

Signature...or rut?

So...it's not quite time for my annual closet switch out, but I’m easing into things by washing and putting away the cashmere sweaters and weeding out the items that are worn out or too rarely worn and no longer loved.

I have not bought clothes since December, and December's purchase was pair of snow boots, one heavy sweater to replace a worn-out version, and a necklace. So in truth, I haven’t made any significant clothing purchases since September. I've barely browsed the online stores, haven't looked much in at B&M stores, and don't even glance at the sale notices that file into my junk folder. 

I didn’t need anything, and I didn’t miss shopping. Instead, I got busy with my life (which has been quite stressful) and I wore the heck out of my clothes.

Actually, to be more accurate, I wore the heck out of my at-home uniform. Increasingly, since I started wearing my hair grey, I seem to gravitate to navy/ ink denim and sweaters/ shirts, with a good belt and chunky silver/ pewter accessories. Add fab booties/ boots and coat for when I go out, and a fab bag. (Actual items in Finds)

Yes, I have a striped sweater, a patterned sweater, pink pullover, a pale blue pullover, a grey cardigan, a burgundy cardigan (see Finds)— and I wore each and every one of these multiple times this winter. And yes, there were days when I was glad to be putting on something a bit out of the ordinary. 

But honestly? My navy/ ink stuff is what I reach for 8 times out of 10 for my at-home work wear — and even for my “going out” wear, although in that case it will be supplemented by a 3rd piece like a statement jacket or (gasp)  a navy blazer and more jewellery or a scarf.

My navy/ ink stuff is what I do not tire of. I always feel capable, confident, smart, professional, dramatic, and easy in ink/navy. 

In summer, add white to that, and I’d be fine if I had nothing else — as long as I had a super fun bright or metallic bag and footwear.

What does this mean? I think I’m just in a phase of uniform dressing and that is okay. I still respond to colour but love it especially in bags, footwear, coats, scarves, and jackets. I still like (and get) variety via the cut of my jeans. It is vital for me to have an updated denim capsule. I still like fun statement pieces for special events. And, I still need them. I’m not going to toss anything that I still enjoy, even if I only wear it a couple of times a year.

But this does make me think I might consider investing more in my “uniform” of ink/ navy (with some grey, and with lashings of white in summer) and make it more deliberate, the way Jenn has done.

I am also considering the "French 5" now that I have my essentials more or less in place. 5 fabulous higher quality items per season (I will do four seasons). 

I am trying to think about spring purchases. I definitely want: 

A silver/ pewter sneaker
A new and interesting belt
A new bag

Not sure what else should be on my 5. I need to investigate the state of my spring knits. I do have a few spring weight sweaters but I think I am due for more. 

46 comments

Red is Best

Last week I was sick and so I limited my El Cee Fall Challenge to getting my culottes hemmed. Well, they are back from the seamstress and I had a teaching day today. It was a glorious sunny 16 degrees. PERFECT weather for culottes and trying out the new outfit proportions. 

And these Topshop booties, which I could not resist when I saw they had gone on sale at the Bay. Angie mentioned them recently in a post as well. I've always been a sucker for red shoes but have not owned a pair for years. These are winners.  (I added the Nordstrom's Find, too, for those in the US. They look quite different in the pics but are the same bootie. 

Please excuse the wrinkles. Long day of mostly sitting. 

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52 comments

A few J. Crew reviews

I've picked up a few J. Crew items in the past few weeks and since most are still available I thought I'd offer some reviews. 

The perfect shirt I already posted and CrazyOne has also reviewed it. Lightweight cotton in gorgeous colours -- it is brighter lighter than pictured and flattering to different skin tones as it works for C1 and for me. 

The long downtown field jacket: I was in need of a very casual yet not "gear" coat for warmer weather. This is unlined waxed cotton that is good for light rain but not a complete downpour. It fits TTS; I have the XS and can layer under it. Lots of great pockets. The zipper is a bit hard to work (even with graphite applied) simply due to its being a two-way -- you know how those can be tricky to get going? Anyway, I'm getting better at it with practice. The green is gorgeous but I didn't want the gold hardware so went for the navy. The corduroy collar is really nice. 

The striped cashmere tee. I'm a big fan of these J. Crew tees; I own a Collection version in a pink from several years ago (pictured also but sadly no longer available) which is slightly softer, but even the regular ones are pretty good with a cami underneath. This is my version of a tee shirt in winter since it layers nicely under a jacket or coat and can be topped with a scarf. The grey stripe is fun. I loved the green/ blue, too but decided the grey would be easier for me to pattern mix. 

I'm also keeping the jacket, by the way. I think I can make it work and now I am on the hunt for buttons to replace the gold. If anyone has a good source (Etsy?) please let me know! 

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32 comments

The cashmere wrap

I could not agree more with Angie's recommendation of a cashmere wrap (for those of us who live in cooler climates.) I broke down and bought one at NAS and now wish I got two. Wearing one as I type on retreat now! 

Comments were still closed on the blog when I peeked -- :)

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Silhouette or Colour...or both? How do you get your variety?

Over on Elizabeth P's beautiful travel capsule thread I mentioned that I suspect she gets her sense of variety more from changing up her silhouette than her colours. Traci chimed in saying she has narrowed her colours as she has expanded her range of silhouettes. 

I don't think it is an either/ or proposition. Many people (Angie, Aida, and Tanya being three who pop instantly to mind) get a sense of variety from switching up both colour and silhouette -- and why not? :)

For myself, I adore colour. I do stick to cool tones within a fairly tight range of what flatters, but that still leaves me with plenty of options, and colour is a huge, huge mood booster for me! So I will never eliminate it. (Having said that, I do tend toward mostly neutral outfits with one or two blocks of vivid colour or white and my favourite places for colour are scarves, coats, and jackets. Oh, and bags and shoes).   ;)

But even though I love colour, switching my colour palette alone does not give me a sense of true variety. To feel I've worn something truly "different" I have to vary the silhouette. 

Sticking with one silhouette takes away the fashion fun.

That's why I'll never be a true wardrobe minimalist, and why I do like to incorporate trends, especially the big ones like the major silhouette shift we are undergoing now towards wider bottoms.

It's also why I love summer dressing. In my climate and with my lifestyle, it's super hard to vary the winter silhouette. In summer I have far more choice. 

This is inconvenient in some ways; it does lead to greater expense. And it sometimes means my closet lacks full mix-and-matchability. Even though the colours all work together really well, the proportions don't.

Often, I end up with a few favourite outfits (vs a whole range) that incorporate the new silhouette in some way -- and possibly not many other options for tops, say, to go with that cool new bottom. But, oddly, I don't care. I am happy if I have one or two great outfits in the new silhouette -- that will get me through an entire season. (Until I gear up for the next silhouette adjustment). 

I suppose some people get their dose of variety via texture or pattern, as well. 

How about you? What gives you the sense of variety you crave? Or are you just as happy without any variety? 

57 comments