Essentials revisited: a few discoveries

Angie, thank you so much for breaking your essentials down by category. This was really instructive for me. I've always thought I had a pretty good grasp of my essentials (at least for the past four years or so) but breaking it down this way led to further insights and an actual shopping list!

Here's my post from last year and you will see that many of the categories and specific items remain exactly the same. 

But this year, I've made a few changes and updates.  

First, the usual -- navy tops for a variety of seasons.   I feel pretty well set for these. I include versions from the uber-casual to the more refined, because they provide the "glue" for outfits at various levels of dressiness. (ETA -- I took out the denim because on reflection they don't serve exactly the same function. They might need their own category, though -- because if not "essentials" they are certainly "workhorses.) 

Next, white tops for various seasons. You will see there is a patterned top mixed in here -- that is because I wear it as a white top, pattern mixing at will, and wear it a LOT.  This makes me realize that a plain silk shirt in white would be useful to me. Currently, I don't own one. 

Blue outerwear. Surprise, surprise -- I need more of this! It's my goal to own a capsule more similar to Angie's. I really want a navy trenchcoat, a long navy military style coat, and a better pea coat. (The one I own is boiled wool, from consignment and while I love it and find it perfect for my climate, it does show its age a bit.) 

Highly current jeans: Like Angie, I feel best in slightly "trendy" denim (assuming I like the trend). Here, again, I can see holes. I need a pair of higher rise white wide legs for this spring/ summer, and maybe another pair of white. I still have a couple of older pair of mid-rise white jeans hanging around for use in a pinch, but it's time to start shopping seriously for white jeans that will work. I will also be on the lookout for another pair of higher rise looser straight blue jeans. These are a bit of a HEWI for me due to my leg shape (straights often fit me more snugly than ideal) but I will look. A higher rise BF style might be a better bet for me -- I just bought the Emerson's to see if they will work. 

Blue striped tops: no surprises here. I could use a lighter weight version for summer wear. 

Silver, grey, and white footwear: I don't own as much of this as a person might expect. It turns out that I often let my footwear make the statement, and prefer things that way. Some would even consider silver a de facto statement, but because it bookends my hair, for me it is less "flashy" -- or so I tell myself. :)  Anyway -- the blue striped sandals feel more "statement-like" even though they are blue. My EF sandals will be on their third season and are looking the worse for wear and quite worn down at the heel, so I am on the lookout for a suitable replacement. I will also keep eyes open for navy sneakers or sandals and white sandals. As well as for silver sneakers. 

Here is a surprise category, for me: SHORT seasonally appropriate toppers, blue or white predominating.  In the past, I'd have said "blue blazer" and left it at that. But my beloved blue blazer happens to be a longer jacket, and with the higher waists now current, I reach more often for a shorter jacket. My blazers are actually patterned, not plain -- but I wear them as faux plains. The denim jackets are great for about 6 months a year in my temperate climate and I still prefer the cropped versions (even though Angie tried to get me to go for an oversized one in Seattle -- I wasn't ready.) 

Silver watch and jewellery are another essential and signature category, but I don't have most of those items in Finds. 

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Coats and toppers FTW

I loved today's post so much it inspired me to take a look at my own golden-oldies. Very little in my closet (besides jewellery) is over 10 years because 2010 is when I lost weight and had to start my wardrobe from ground zero. These items are therefore 8-9 years old...but getting close to a decade and no plans to pass them on yet. 

And, guess what? Coats and toppers. :) 

I also have a lot more items that are 6/7 years old, because I did more of my buying in that period, and many items are still in play. But we are celebrating decades here, so...

1. Hilary Radley cranberry coat -- one of my first YLF purchases. Knee length, dramatic foldover collar, mixed wool/alpaca. This is such a lovely coat, I will probably never pass it on. :) 

2. Theory short trench -- gift of another forum member and I still love and wear this coat. Packs like a dream. 

3. Lole Katie puffer. I have worn this coat SO MUCH. I got thoroughly sick of it so it hasn't seen wear the past two years but I am keeping it because it is in great shape and fulfills a job. 

4. Vintage Biba kimono. Really fun piece to wear with sheaths or jeans as a summer topper. 

5. Classic London Fog trench. I wish it were navy, but until the "right" navy one comes along, this is a standby. 

6. Cropped denim jacket from The Bay. Distressed a bit but not too much and nice fading -- I love this jacket. It works really well with skirts/ dresses and higher waist pants/ culottes. 

 

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Then and Now

Carla started a trend! :)  Thanks for the brilliant idea, Carla. 

A few from my archives. 

1. Very first WIW photo.  June 2011. So...all items except the cardigan and shoes, thrifted. Wearing my worst colour (orange) as an experiment. The outfit was not a success. Even so...some constants: 

  • Cropped pants (I was wearing them even before Angie would tolerate them, LOL!)
  • 3 pieces. 
  • Daytime sparkle! (The top has sparkly threads). 
  • Ecco shoes. (Those slides were soooooo dated at the time. Did I know? Nope. ;) 

2. The updated version: May, 2019. New hair, cooler colours, more flattering neckline, longer cardigan. The top, though, like the first one, was a dud. Wore it only a handful of times -- it kept stretching out and just didn't make me happy. 

3. March, 2012. Mustard bag with blues and cool tones!

4. October, 2012: Fuchsia jacket. This was the "gateway drug" -- cheap as chips from H&M (literally -- $10) as an experiment. I learned that I adored wearing a bright jacket. 

5. October, 2019: Fuchsia jacket and mustard bag! 

6. April, 2012: Stripes, red, and denim jacket. The denim jacket is still in my closet all these years later. It was one of my first YLF purchases and has stood the test of time. 

7. Here it is in July 2019.

8. July 2013: the power of a black jacket, something sparkly, denim, and statement boots. 

9 and 10. Dec. 2019. Ditto!  

11. Jean jacket again, this time with Zara shorts  -- 2014...

12. ...and 2016...

13....and 2019....

I could go on and on and on..I didn't even get to the "big collar coat" photos or the "military detailing coat" photos -- there are a series of those, too.

The constants are clear to me, though. Blue (duh!). White. Brights as accents (mostly red and fuchsia.) Love of a 3rd piece (mostly jackets but cardigans in a pinch). Stripes and some florals. 

Jenni has broken down the number of items still in her wardrobe from pre-YLF days and early YLF days. I don't have any from pre-YLF days since I changed size significantly. But I do have a handful from early YLF days (denim jacket included) and, as you see, many items last for 5 years or more in the closet and get worn either in new ways or the same way....

Thanks all of you for patiently helping me to refine my style and special thanks to Angie for starting me off with a haircut and supporting all my experiments! 

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Travel capsule: Spain

I'm off to Spain today! I have never been there! Going to visit my stepdaughter in Granada, and also to Madrid and Barcelona. 

Temperatures are forecast to be mostly around 18-20 C but cooler at night (8-10) with a few rainy/cloudy cooler days (around 14). We'll be walking (a lot!), museum visiting, tapas-eating, wine drinking, attending flamenco performances, and who knows what else. 

We will be gone for 13 days and I'm taking a checked bag because we won't have laundry and these mid-range weather conditions sometimes require layers. Plus, our activities will be varied enough that I'll want some dressier options for evening, and some more casual options for the day. 

I realize for many this would seem a lot of shoes. What can I say? I need to vary my footwear. 

Here's what I'm taking. Plus PJs and undies, of course. Undies include some camisoles to be layered under linen tees and shirts if desired. The navy tube skirt (that I just can't seem to retire!) goes with the blue jacquard top to make a faux "dress" and the leopard skirt is also a dressy look with the peplum top. But both skirts can also easily be worn as casual bottoms with the linen or other tees. 

Travel outfit below. I wear this suit and sneakers look to travel a lot. These pants have nice stretch and some warmth (in case plane is chilly.) Scarf adds warmth if needed on plane. Jacket can be on or off, depending. 

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WIWW: Plaid on plaid on plaid

It never rains but it pours, right? No posts for ages and then I'm all over the forum. 

I just got these Angie recommended check pants and couldn't resist. These are the petites because it was the only size available. I didn't have high hopes, but I think they work okay! They are comfy, anyway. 

Dare I wear plaid on plaid on plaid? 

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Colour Capsules: Some Questions

Angie's and Bijou's and Opaline’s recent posts on building colour capsules have reinvigorated my desire to do the same. It is easy for me to dress in neutrals. I pick up items in blue and grey (and white) almost effortlessly (collections are visible in the links) and they always work easily for me.

But colour makes my heart sing. 

A few years ago I started building a red capsule. Red is my happy colour. I like all shades, from true and fire engine red through burgundy, although burgundy works better for me in accessories than in clothing. At any rate, I find most reds blend well together. This capsule includes patterned items that will "pick up" red in other pieces. 

The red capsule is coming along quite well, with a mix of tops, footwear, scarves, and bags. I do lack bottoms in red. I have something on order to try, although I must admit I'm doubtful. My last pair of red pants languished almost unworn. So we'll see. I might do better with a patterned bottom that incorporates red. In the meantime, I do have enough items here to use them in an easy "pop of colour" way with my mostly blue or grey outfits, and can also see what I need to add. I recently retired a few tops -- a plaid red shirt and a red sweater. A new red pullover and/or a shirt/ blouse in red or a pattern incorporating red would be useful. 


I would also like to build a few more capsules and those are slower to take shape. I'd like a fuchsia/ pink/ berry capsule; a purple/ lilac capsule; and a mustard capsule. In the links, you can see what I've got so far for each. 

Mustard is just beginning and will be confined mostly to accessories and patterned items that include a mustard tone. 

That's because mustard is one of my least flattering colours! But I happen to adore it. And it works great with blue and grey. This year, I am open to a scarf or a top with a mustard pattern, or a pair of mustard pants. Suggestions welcome! :) 

Purple, as several people have mentioned, is a super-flattering colour for me. It also reminds me of my mother, who wore it with the best. Bonus: it works with mustard. So I'd like to build a better capsule here. What items should I look for to round things out a bit and make it wearable? 

Ditto for the fuchsia/ pinks capsule. I seem to blend these pinks and berries quite easily (as with reds) and I can in fact put a few different outfits together with these items, but it still feels as if it is lacking a backbone (if that makes sense). 

Thanks for your thoughts! 

ETA: Items currently on order that might add to the picture....

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Baggy knees on pants

No, not mine. (Well, let's not go there. If Nora Ephron feels bad about her neck, I feel bad about my knees!) 

Anyway, I'm talking about the knees of jeans and trousers. 

I was raised to do a little "hitch" to my trousers while sitting down to prevent bagged-out knees. So I tend to do it pretty consistently. 

But as the higher waist wider styles become more prevalent in my closet, I'm finding some of them get baggy in the knee no matter what! I would have thought it would be a bigger problem with slim jeans/ pants, but it seems to be happening more with the wide legs. And, if I'm honest, more with the wide jeans than the pants/ culottes. 

The Madewell high waist button fly jean is a good example -- I find I need to wash it more often (and air dry) just to deal with the bagging. 

What's up with that? 

I wondered if it might be due to fabric composition. These particular jeans have much less stretch than some others. 

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Dress Challenge: 2 new ones

I ordered from the Rack. I almost never do because returns are a pain where I live, but I thought I'd give a few items a try. 

Here are the dresses. What do you think? 

First up, Angie's (and Jane's) Free People dress, marked down considerably so a real steal. I like it a lot! (She says that like she's surprised when it was an Angie recommendation. Duh!!) It needs a good steam out of the bag but I think the fit is right and It seems easy to wear. Do you like? 

Next, a Lafayette dress in linen and cotton. This one was on major mark-down. A more expensive dress to begin with, so more expensive than the Free People on sale as well, but we are talking quality. 

Is it too "ticking stripe" do you think? I actually like ticking stripe, but you know what I am saying. The quality and fit are gorgeous, I have to say. Beautiful fabric and finishing. 

It's quite long on me, though, so really needs a bit of a heel. And maybe too "work-like" for someone who works from home? 

(I make it sound as if I don't like this dress, but actually, I really do.) 

If I keep, these will replace a Topshop dress and one of my worn out Boden dresses. 

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Dress Challenge: Better Late than Not at All

Hi, all -- I was at a work related conference all weekend and didn't have time to post. But I did wear one dress (well, actually, skirt) outfit. And I'm also wearing a dress today. 

I have loved seeing all the beautiful dresses and skirts on the forum. Brava for spring and summer wardrobes! 

Bonus shots of the roses in the UBC garden, really in their glory now. 

Why do I love wearing dresses? For all the reasons many of you have stated. Casual dresses are the best for summer at home days. Cool, easy to throw on, yet I feel presentable if I have to run a sudden errand. Fewer decisions. 

Dressy dresses make me feel feminine and ready for fun, or perfectly protected (as the occasion demands.)

I wore #5 (tube skirt, again, will I ever let you go? NO!) with the sweater against the frigid AC. You can't see it, but on #6 I am actually swinging on a beautiful swing slung on an old oak on campus.  

#7 is at home today. Yay for the tablecloth dress. Waving to my many forum dress twins and cousins. 

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Eating my words

Dear YLF, 

Remember a few months ago where I said I needed a style intervention to stop me from continually buying everything, and I mean everything, in blue?   

Well. It's all your fault. Because I haven't stopped. 

Oh, I had good intentions. My first few purchases of the year were GEAR and I bought them in plums/lilacs/purples (as well as blues). For a bit of variety in my exercise capsule, at least. (See Finds). 

And I managed to purchase an orchid silk blouse and a red top, too. Oh, and a pair of grey jogger pants. 

But those blue Earth sandals must have been some kind of gateway drug. Look what I've also purchased...and what I just ordered!! 

And what I wore the other day in slightly cooler temps than we've been getting, of late -- the famed "Juneuary" of the Pacific Northwest. 

Well, if I can't beat my own habit, I might as well enjoy it, right? 

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