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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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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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? 

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Selfie culottes

For those who wondered about camera angle affecting the look -- warning, these are no more "true" images than the others were. But they are more consistent with the photos we tend to see on the forum.  Sorry about the awful light. It is raining  at last so I can't complain. 

Anyway, if mentally mix yesterday's photos and these you sort of get a truer impression.  :)

Tags are OFF!! 

:)  

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Styling the controversial culottes. Long and pic heavy.

Yesterday I posted a few more items from NAS.

The Chelsea 28 denim culottes were a controversial item. Thank you so much for your honest responses. I saw what many of you saw, looking at those photos. Her thighs are bigger than her waist, my mum once said of me. And stubby legs., too. But hey, if you've got it, flaunt it, right?  ;)

In all seriousness, I am highly motivated to see if these can work, for these reasons:

  • Angie particularly encouraged me to try them after seeing them on several clients. 
  • I have a casual lifestyle and wear denim almost every day, so refreshing my denim capsule is the easiest and most practical way for me to refresh my style each autumn. 
  • They are surprisingly comfortable!! I am usually against stretch in jeans but in these, I actually like it. 
  • Plus, it's a hassle to return.   :) 

Greater love hath no woman for her wardrobe than to try on clothes on a stinking hot day. I apologize for the lighting. I did my best and over exposed a bunch, which does tend to make the distressing look more obvious. 

Herewith a few potential ways I might wear these if I keep. 

1/2  I bought this Land's End pullover for my late mother. I loved seeing it on her (she looked spectacular in it) and so I saved it after she died. (I have the cardigan, too, so it's a twinset.)  It's petite, so too short to wear with lower rise pants. I thought it might work here. 

3. Thrift store 60s brocade shell with the same Okalas.

4. Club Monaco split back tank and different Okalas. I tried to get a photo of the rear but it went all blurry; I guess I moved. 

5. Zara batwing silk/cotton sweater and Topshop Jolenes. 

6. For a cozy at-home day -- Zara slipper booties and J. Crew toile sweatshirt. 

7. Sailor style outfit for late spring -- J. Crew tee and Topshop sandals. 

8. With the gilet? Maybe too many things going on here. Not sure. Anyway, underneath is a slim fitting layering t-neck -- that type of top works easily with the culottes. 

9. Semi-tucked blouse and darker booties for fall. 

10. Trying with my Reiss jacket. 

11. Deep winter -- super heavy Theory woollen asymmetrical cropped sweater. You can't really get a sense of the asymmetry here, alas, but it's angled to one side. 

12. Pinned up about 1. 5 inches (to the end of the let down hem) with booties. This makes them much less wearable in my climate as a year round item. 

13. With the Jolenes, pinned. 

Are your opinions the same or different now that you have seen them styled? 

Also -- if I get these (and like them) I might also seek out a plainer dark wash wide leg pair of crops similar to the ones Angie sported today, or a pair of J. Crew Teddies, which seem to work extremely well on many body types. 

Thank you for reading and looking! 

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Pattern & Contrast: Silver Transition Part 4

Thank you all for being so tolerant of my forum bombing today. I'm getting this done now so we can all focus on NAS!! 

So -- to begin: Imogen Lamport has a really interesting series on her blog about value and colour contrast. This "real life examples" post lays it all out in very explicit terms.   

There's much to learn here and I encourage you to read if you are interested. There are several more posts in the series and whether you agree with her analysis or not, it's incredibly educational to read it. 

Anyway, I linked specifically to a woman whose colouring is rather similar to my new reality-- grey hair, blue eyes, neutral skin. 

Pre-transition, with dark blonde hair and fair skin and dark blue eyes, I was medium to light value contrast -- and medium colour contrast -- because my hair was less a neutral than a colour (yellowish). 

Now I take myself to be medium value contrast, and low colour contrast. Theoretically I should look best in medium contrast outfits that combine my best (medium to light) neutrals with one colour - probably a medium value colour. 

In reality, I think I now look good in higher contrast outfits. By which I mean outfits that are high contrast in themselves, and outfits that are high contrast to my mostly lighter colouring (e.g. "ink out" or navy). I think I also look pretty good in all light outfits esp. if they incorporate shine, and I look good in a light neutral or dark neutral paired with a medium toned neutral or colour. .

Outfits that were all medium toned and higher colour contrast used to look really great on me. Now, not so much. Medium to light toned blues used to be among my best colours -- now they are "okay" but not spectacular. A richer, brighter or deeper colour seems to look better most of the time. 

Also, the kinds of patterns that work has changed. 

I think the scale and shapes of my best patterns probably remains similar. 

But remember I said I prefer patterns with white or grey in them now? That's because they pick up the tones in my hair. If the pattern is navy and white or grey and white with one colour (esp. blue), it's picking up on all my own dominant tones, so it is going to feel harmonious on me. 

Meanwhile, patterns that are all colour (some that I used to love) suddenly feel like "too much" going on as well as too attention grabbing with my variegated hair colour that is pretty much neutral. 

I'm not sure this is making any sense, but here are two tops that I put in the holding zone after I went grey. 

I've brought them out again, and feel more accepting of them now that I have had some time to get used to the new colour. But I think I will probably pass them on after this year. Sad, because they were fabulous silk summer tops! 

Thank you so much for indulging me in this long series. I hope at least something here will prove useful to some of the rest of you. And anyone who has specific questions, feel free to ask. 

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Mo Better Blues: Silver style shift, part 3

As many of you know, I’m Queen Blue. A peek into my closet would reveal  blue, blue, blue and more blue. Traditionally, blue has been my colour and my neutral, my daywear and my nightwear. If there was one colour I could count on — and wear in any shade or tone — blue was it. 

Well, now that I have nearly blue hair, guess what? It’s not so simple.

Turns out I’m going to have to get pickier about which blues I invite home with me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not discarding anything that I currently own. But…well… some blues are better than others, it seems to me. Whereas before, they all seemed pretty great. 

I apologize for the quality of some of these “after” shots, which somehow blurred. I think you still get a sense of things, though. There is no styling going on with the shirt photos — I’m just showing the colours. 

Pics 1/2: A tale of two denims. 

3/4: Verging on violet...

5/6: A multitude of blues

7/8: Chambray

9/10: In the navy

11/12: Kitty print

13/14: Preppy stripe

I’d love to hear your favourites and thoughts.

My final instalment will be a short one on colour and pattern. Stay tuned! I might post today in advance of NAS frenzy.  (What? You have better things to do than analyze my colours? No way!) 

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Style shift silver Part 2: Forum members' tips

Hi, all! 

Yesterday I reported on Angie's top tips for those who go grey, along with how or why I'm incorporating them. Today it's your turn. In this post I'll respond to some additional tips generously offered by forum members who've already made the transition. I'm not mentioning names here because the list is long and several people offered the same suggestions. But you know who you are, and I'm so grateful for the wealth of your experience.  :) 

Beginning with one of the most often-mentioned suggestions:

(1) Get a sharp haircut —well, I took care of that one, didn't I?  ;) 

In all seriousness, my goal now that the dye is gone is to grow my hair very slightly into a softer (but still very short) pixie. The fringe will still be piecey and the sides also, but just a bit softer. This will take about 2 or 3 months, I guess.

(2) Go bold (jewellery)

You will notice I’ve been wearing a lot more statement earrings and cuffs. I’ve also just ordered a silver statement watch, which if I keep it, will be my first watch in years. 

(3) Choose prints that incorporate white/ grey  

You have seen some mixed grey/ white prints in yesterday's thread, and you can also see before/ afters in black and white prints in one of my first "going grey" threads.  I'll have more to say in another post about prints and colours, but it's clear to me that for now I feel my best in prints that include white, silver, or grey.  This is a shift that will have more impact on my fall/winter closet. My summer closet always included a lot of white, but I may need to do some re-jigging of my tops and scarves for the cooler months. 

Pics 1 and 2.

(4) Choose grey footwear and bright footwear

I am really lacking in bright footwear but would like to add some. Silver footwear in summer is fab, as some of the photos attest — and luckily, I have many pairs to choose from.  Black and white patterned footwear is also great. That makes summery weather a breeze, but how I'll deal with it in winter, I don't know. Grey footwear can be so tricky, I find -- it's easily the "wrong" grey. And that is darned frustrating. 

(5) Wear high contrast

I am not a high contrast person. I have fair eyebrows (soon to be rectified, I hope), light hair, light skin. True, my eyes are darker blue. But people with my general colouring are not "supposed" to look good in high contrast. 

Problematically for this theory, I've always loved wearing high contrast, and I've always worn some versions of high contrast surprisingly well. 

Now...well....what do you think? A few high contrast outfits to compare. in pics 3 and 4. Pic 1 also shows a high contrast print, of course.

I'm also wearing lighter, more monochrome outfits in some of the other pics and that offers a basis for comparison as well. My prediction? Some people will prefer higher contrast, and some the softer look of the light neutrals.   

(6) Black comes back — but not for all

As you can see, black never left my wardrobe. I love black -- especially with skin showing or with hits of white. My main "problem" with black, if you can call it that, is not so much aesthetic as psychological. I struggle with the depressing and "heavy" qualities of all black in our grey, grey, grey winter landscape. 

Going forward, I expect to continue to wear black. Navy and ink and grey will remain my preferred dark neutrals, but I can see myself adding more black in a judicious way.  (Pics 5/6 offer comparison)

(7) Get rid of brown.

Brown in my closet pretty much takes three forms: cognac accessories, leopard print, and taupe. I won't get rid of cognac; I like it with grey. Leopard is "iffier" and I might need to balance it in outfits. 

As for taupe, I'm not so sure I need to get rid of it. My suit is a really soft mauvish taupe, which still flatters. (Sorry, no pic yet). This top (my only other real taupe item) is a much yellower taupe, but even this still works, I think?  (Pics 7/8

Having said that, I think I'll transition the taupe out, and include more blue-greys as I move forward. 

(8)   Add white, shine, silver.

You bet!! Here are a few outfits incorporating this idea. 

The white shirtdress was one I picked up at Winner's and ended up keeping -- a bit hospital gown like but super comfortable in the heat. The scarf has sentimental associations...I found it among my mother's things. I had given it to her as a gift years ago. (Pics 9, 10, 11

(9) Add softer colours or brighter colours.

Consistent with point 5, softer colours (other than white) are a bit of a bust so far. More on that in a Part 3 of my series, coming up tomorrow. Overall, my choice is going to be brighter instead. In the fall I hope to add more.

Stay tuned for my analysis of blues and more developed thoughts on patterns with my grey!

Again, thanks for reading if you got this far, and thanks also for your thoughts. 

I really hope this might be helpful to others making the transition in the future. 

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Silver style shift, Part 1: Angie's Top Tips

A few weeks ago, I canvassed the forum for your tips about style shifts on transitioning to grey hair. I’ve had some time to digest your ideas now, and wanted to share my own thoughts. Because I have a lot to say and lots of pictures to share, I will break it down into parts. Today, Angie’s top tips. (Yay, I have my camera back!) 

Here's what Angie said: 

“FWIW, my clients who transition to grey hair seem to: change their make-up routine, re-address their brow definition, add more grey to their wardrobes, and wear more colour.”

(1) Makeup & brows — As you will see from O’s recent thread, makeup is a bit of a mystery to me. I wear it, but rarely change it up much. My new trick, thanks to Angie and the forum — tightlining. I learned how to do this on the weekend. I still need a better pencil but I actually find it quite easy to manage even with the less-than-perfect one I have.

In the next few months, I also plan to (1)  visit a good makeup counter for some suggestions about possible new products to try (any suggestions for who or where, in Toronto?) and (2) go and get the microblading done on my brows.

(2) Add more grey: Grey was already a major neutral in my wardrobe and will remain so. Below you can see some "before and after" outfit photos of my summer greys. Some of the befores are taken with flash and the afters are taken without, so the colour values are not identical, but you get the idea.

Grey has always been a good neutral for me. My challenge? To ensure it doesn’t depress me. In winter, especially, I live in a very grey city. Grey limestone, grey sky, grey water, grey pavement (when it isn’t snowy). I need colour to bring me joy.

Which is a nice segue to Angie’s final suggestion: (3) Wear more colour. I don't have a whole lot of vivid colour in my closet right now, but I may have to rectify that. Here are a few outfits involving colour, one in which you can compare to the way the same shirt looked when I was blonde.

Next up: Top tips from forum members, and how I see those working in my style. 

My main observation is that my ultra-short silver crop both provides added boldness, and demands added boldness. 

More to come and thanks for reading and any thoughts or observations you might have! 

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