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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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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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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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? 

57 comments

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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