Style for 2023

Last year, I began a thorough closet edit, which is ongoing. I also replaced my worn undies at the NAS as well as some key essentials like white shorts, jeans, and a sleeveless summer top. As always, I replaced worn footwear. 

Feeling that I was in a bit of a style rut, I started the process of renewing my style by revisiting my moniker. I came up with a new one: laid-back luminous garçonne, which is not so far from my old one (urban prince), but which nods to the more casual reality of my current living situation while also reminding me to shine. :) 

My goals for the year ahead are few and simple. The first is all business (my practical side); the second is conceptual. the third gives me a destination to pursue those ideas. 

  1. Continue major edit of closet. I've now retired 46 items, a substantial number, but when I revisit the spring items in storage, I know I'll be sending a few more out to pasture. 
  2.  Tell a fashion story.  I'm much inspired by Brooklyn's approach here and the consideration she gives to the mood she hopes to establish for each season. To this end, I may adopt Bijou's wise suggestion to modify my moniker by season. For example, I like to wear dresses and skirts in summer. Does a garçonne wear dresses? Well, yes, in fact (think of those flappers) but for the sake of cohesion and clarity, it might help to establish the feeling I want my clothes to convey, which might differ to a degree, season to season. Looking at some of the spring collections might offer inspiration here, and I might adjust my moniker to remind myself of the specific mood I want to embody. 
  3. Visit local consignment shops in search of statement items that reinforce my style persona. In Vancouver I found good statements and replacement essentials on consignment. But I haven't explored these shops in Victoria. It should be a fun adventure. 


In this thread, I came up with a shopping list. I started working on it right away and have met with some success -- Finds below. 

  1. Belt. 
  2. Indoor loafers. (Might even get a second pair if I can find some on sale!)
  3. Oversized pullover. (Got one oversized sweater, sent several back because they went too far in that direction.) 
  4. Knit (?) suit or knit jacket. (Liverpool).
  5. White shirt, slightly oversized or interesting structure. (Boden).

Other shopping goals, including HEWIs

  • Bottoms in interesting shapes — wide leg or barrel leg.  (Got one pair). 
  • A dressy midi coat (to wear with and longer skirts)
  • New sleeved "dressy" dress to replace several that I've retired.
  • Structured bag, probably crossbody. 
  • Puffer jacket packable (this is a need if my current one can't be fixed -- needs new zipper).
  • Interesting chunky yet refined silver jewellery

I feel like the outfit I wore yesterday is a good representation of where I want to be -- the pants are loose and current, so is the top, which has some texture, and the belt and boots add interest and shine. At the same time it's not precious -- all these items are completely washable and waterproof and I actually went on a 7 km walk wearing this exact outfit except I switched out the boots for my more casual white ones for the walk. 

Thanks for reading if you got this far and if you have additional ideas, I am all ears! 


More items for review: Club Monaco

So...I shopped up a storm, apparently, in the last two months of the year! 

I sent all the M&S order back. 

Re the Boden: I changed my mind and am sending back everything except the plain t-shirt and the skirt, but I have also ordered the skirt in a different size to compare. I decided the sweater is just a bit too oversized and too warm for my purposes, and the sweatshirt feels a bit too "cute" for my style. 

The skirt is borderline too large so I want to compare the size down. 

Next up, 2 items from Club Monaco. I love them both and intend to keep so my question is about the length of the pants. 

They are meant to be cropped but on me are almost but not quite full length. There is a huge seam allowance so they could potentially be let down but I think I'd wear them more cropped as intended. Thoughts? 

1-5 at the current length with various footwear. My sense is that they are not quite right at this length. 
 6-8 shortened a little. 
9 sweater and skirt with taupe booties as per Angie's suggestion.
10 detailing on sweater. It's not pure white -- more like an ivory, but I think it works. 

Reviews: the sweater is gorgeous soft merino. When I said that M&S merino was thin, I meant it was a bit scratchy, almost see-through. Recent J. Crew merino is one step up from that, but still not as good as it used to be -- and after three seasons it looks very tired. (Admittedly, I wear my merino tops hard all winter.) None of that nonsense here -- this is a lovely quality knit. 

The pants are a light, all season wool blend. In this colourway they are not lined but they do not require a lining. There is a tiny bit of stretch. Nice pockets. Wide, but not overly wide. The check is very faint -- it is white or cream and also a very faint green or aqua -- I am thinking I might look for a shirt with that colour in the pattern for spring. They work with white, ivory, almost all my greys, some navies, reds. I really like the quality. 

Thanks in advance for thoughts! 


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Boden Order: 3 keeps, 2 maybes.

My Boden order arrived much more expeditiously than the M&S one. I will also have to pay for returns for this order, but took a chance anyway because I really love the quality of their knits and several that I was interested in went on substantial sale. 

My 3 keeps: 

Pics 1-3 Striped oversized merino sweater. I had to order the smallest size here and it is still very oversized, but not in the shoulder area or sleeves, which is key. It is a thick, substantial knit but because it is merino, it drapes. I can semi-tuck it, which makes the proportion better with the baggier jeans. This is a kind of no-brainer item for me -- I will likely wear it for years in different ways and even once the oversized trend is over, I will enjoy it at home. The quality is superb. 

Pic 4: Cropped sweatshirt: Such a soft cotton and a fun paisley pattern in colours that brighten my winter days. Is this an illustration of Kibbe's theory that "no amount of detail" is too much for a gamine type? Maybe, though he'd recommend geometric patterns over organic swirls. But I like paisley, so there! 

I'm also keeping a plain white tee with a nice neckline. This is for layering. I did not have one, and this one is substantial and a nice cut. 

My maybes: Pics 5-7 -- a knit dress for summer. This was on substantial discount, so the price was very reasonable. On (wise) reviewers' advice, I sized down. But I'm not sure. This is a type of dress I desperately want/ need. Easy wash/ wear, throw on and go. You may recall my forays this past summer with one from Barbour that unfortunately had a logo splashed above the boob. Anyway...this one needs a racerback bra style (fine with me). It's too long, but could be shortened (I have shown it in the last pic roughly paperclipped up in front.) However, I feel the gathering at the waistline area is just a bit too much. I am getting a mutton dressed as lamb vibe. So I'm unsure. 

Crepe pleated skirt, Pics 8-15.  Pros: I love the pattern on this. I don't own such a skirt. It is basically all season in my climate, with tights beneath and boots in winter and bare legged in warmer weather. 

Cons: the colours are mostly warm. The background is navy (not black) and there is a lot of white in it. But the pinks are warmer than described in some of the reviews (one reviewer claimed there was lilac in the pattern -- I would call it salmon pink). And the red is really a rust..

So the question is, do I have anything to wear it with besides navy or white? I am trying it here with various options -- a fire engine red jacket, darker red sweater, red sweater, the lilac M&S sweater I'm returning, a pink cashmere sweater, and a magenta sweater. It is surprisingly chameleon, at least in the photos, but I'm just not sure. Quality is lovely. It is a bit loose on me -- I ordered up because people complained about the snug waist and I can't stand that. I think I'd have been fine in my usual size but this gives an added measure of insurance in case of layering and it doesn't twist around. 

Another potential "con" is simply the question of whether I'd wear it at all. Sometimes I still buy for my imaginary lifestyle. Am I imagining occasions to wear this? I don't know. 

I hope these reviews may help someone else and I would appreciate any thoughts on the "maybe" items. Thank you! 


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A few reviews...and probable returns

Hi, all --

Over a month ago I placed an order with M&S. Yesterday that order finally arrived. I can't really blame the merchant. It came from the UK. They have had strikes there. And we have had outrageous weather events all over the country. But this was actually stuck in Burlington, Ontario, for weeks before the bad weather. So I do blame the carrier, and I do think M&S could make it more clear how to contact the carrier in case of trouble. (There was no phone number or email/ text option on the carrier's tracking page and when I contacted M&S, their first response was "contact the carrier." To their credit, they eventually contacted them and got back to me.) 

Is it frustration about the delay that is making me want to send it all back? I'm not sure. 

First up: checked drawstring wide legs. These were intended as "work from home" pants in a silhouette new to me -- wide leg, at the new full length. 

The positives: they are a cozy, substantial knit, quite warm. They have a nice drape. The quality is high for the price. (Esp. the sale price.) Would be a winter pant here. They fit well. 

The negatives (for me). I think perhaps they are just a bit too short. I wouldn't want them dragging, but at this length (I ordered the short) they seem just shy of where they should be and that definitely contributes to their widening effect. Having said that, in order ever to go outside in these, where I live, I could not actually wear them any longer. There's too much muck on the ground in winter here -- it's just not possible to wear dragging pants. Would I go outside in them, though? OTOH, do I want to have to change just to dash out? Hmmm. If I consider them as lounge pants, fine (and they'd work as such -- basically sweat pants). But I was hoping for a bit of crossover, I guess. 

Also, I don't care for the ties in front. I know you can remove them, but then you have two holes on the waistband. I really don't understand why they left these here because the waist is nicely finished. 

Wearing them first with a crossover gear top (1/4 zip Smartwool) which is how I'd honestly wear them at home, then with an old red BR military style jacket I can't seem to let go of despite some waffling, then with my other bright blue sweater, then trying volume on volume with the white top. 

In short, I am undecided about these and welcome thoughts. Thanks! 

Next: lilac merino crewneck. I am on a lilac hunt because the grey in the Liverpool suit pants (yes, they still have tags on...not yet shortened...) has a slight lilac cast that I want to play up. M&S merino is thin (as I already knew). And this sweater is definitely a size large for me. However, because it is thin, it drapes and possibly looks intentionally oversized?  Verdict: undecided.

Third: sparkly top.  An Angie top pick. First, this is a lovely top. The sparkly knit does not itch (as sometimes happens) I like the diagonal stripe, I had wanted to try a gentle puff sleeve (I don't have any) and I  like the long cuff detail on the bottom here -- like a modified mutton leg sleeve. And I wanted to try the welted front. The fit is excellent.

However, what I should have realized before ordering is that this top really needs a flat fronted bottom to work. I do not like it with a bottom that has a front zip. (Pic 9)  It's not short enough to be cropped on me and ends in an awkward spot. It works with a skirt but I don't have one that matches. It could work with a flat front pant but I only have one of those, an older near-skinny from Kit & Ace.

Anyway, here I am, trying it a few ways....first with the Liverpool pant, next with Kit&Ace. Note how differently the outfit comes across with silver boots and pants worn longer. Far less contemporary, to my eye -- I wouldn't wear it this way, though it's definitely leg lengthening. 

I can return any or all of these items. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that I will pay $22.95 CAD for the privilege of doing so, so at what point does that become worthwhile? If I plan to return them all, it's worth it. If I plan to return only one sweater, maybe not so much. Hmmm. 

Anyway, I welcome your thoughts and observations! 


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Recent Returns: Some Reviews

I have been making up for lost shopping time in the past few months and have ordered up so many things! I have returned most -- but some of what I returned might work for others and is mostly on sale, so a few capsule reviews: 

Old Navy Sweatsuit: LisaP got me onto this; she has it in a rich brown. It's a terrific quality for the price but fits large; the jacket was too oversized in the bust/ shoulder area for my frame. And the  "greyed" colour, which promised to suit me, alas was a bit too "dirty" to work on me, after all. This could be a fantastic purchase for someone else. 

Nordstrom Signature cashmere V neck: I'm sad to send this back -- it's a gorgeous quality and beautiful and interesting knit,.and the colour is beautiful, but the fit is wrong on me. Sleeves far too long (as you can see even on the model) and the dropped shoulder was too loose on me. Could work great on someone with a true IT frame. 

Modern American Jeans: I wanted burgundy but these are a brown-burgundy, not red. Fit is TTS but I do not like the stretch in the fabric. 

Gap full zip hoodie -- too big and bulky for me.

Gap Velour sweat suit -- loved the colour but not the quality of the velour. 

Gap slim cord jeans -- these felt and looked like skinnies on me, not like slim straights, and that was not the look I wanted. Nice otherwise, though. 

As you can see, I'm trying to build up my burgundy/ lilac/ current capsule. Partly because that colour looks great with the new suit. But also partly because I miss my burgundy jeans, long worn out. 

Oh well -- onwards we go! 


Relaxed merino top and pants, BR, review. Bonus WIW and cat.

So, in one way you might say I'm at it again, that is, falling back on the fallback that tends to lead to feeling like I'm in a wardrobe rut, that is, prioritizing neutral essentials over more "fun" items. 

In my defence, I know I will wear such items to the ground. And I also felt these styles had potential to both relax and "dress up" my work-from-home capsule. Honestly, if they came in more exciting colours that worked on me, I'd be on board for duplicating. Especially at the sale prices. 

Also, on another note -- I added more lights!! I think it helps....

What I got: 

A light grey merino V-neck in a slightly oversize style. It is very lightweight but not see through and not at all scratchy. As others love puff sleeves, I love a batwing effect. This has slightly dropped shoulders but slim arms and a snug cuff (all-important for structure). I can easily tuck it. Or semi tuck. The back is slightly longer than the front. 

A pair of slim straight navy ankle pants in wool with a bit of stretch. Love these! They are not a duplicate of my older Kit & Ace pant because these are more generously cut -- still qualifying as a slim straight but with much more ease all round. They zip up the front (not the side, like the Kit & Ace pant) and they are a darker, truer navy, not a greyed navy. Super comfortable and easy to wear. 

Bonus WIW today -- red plaid ankle pants and turtleneck. It's cold out there! 


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Eccos and Blundstones

Just putting a good word in for the Ecco and Blundstone boots Angie featured this morning. Last year I bought the Ecco Modtray Chelsea. They were terrific boots, comfortable, orthotic friendly, with surprisingly durable soles, and very waterproof -- until, all of a sudden, they weren't! (Ooops! But honestly, the downpour in which I wore them for over an hour was extreme). 

Alas, I wore them out -- the insides were broken down after the year's hard wear and they had become too loose on the top so stones were forever sneaking inside -- not comfortable! 

To get a fit, I had to use a Superfeet sole to take up some of the width in the boot. I do not have narrow feet but I like a snug fit in the midfoot and I need to be mindful of heel cushioning. 

This year, I opted for the new Blundstone lug sole. I already owned the women's heeled style. It is the best fitting Blundstone (for me) I've ever found and is super comfortable and a good "all round" bootie for urban trips where I can only take one shoe. Not dressy, but it passes when necessary and yet is also tough.

I wanted/ needed a versatile, durable boot for casual walks on the trails and sidewalk-less streets of my neighbourhood-- to replace the Ecco. The lug sole was my solution and so far, I like it a lot. I sized up for length in this boot and then had to add TWO insoles and a heel cushion to get a decent fit -- they are quite wide and roomy. But I do like the width in the toe area and this boot is working well for the purpose. I've now taken it on several serious hikes with a lot of climbing and the soles have held up! 

Anyway -- reviews for those who might find them valuable! 


Liverpool Suit UPDATE -- new size for comparison

UPDATE: I now have the XS for comparison. Photos 11 on. 

in my mind, there is no comparison; although we're dealing with even worse light today (sigh) the fit is much better. 

However, there is one tiny wrinkle, which may not be obvious: the dickey is inserted in this one, there is a slight "pull" at the front. This is not because it is too small or snug; it has to do with the way the dickie is attached in relation to the pockets on the smaller size --  they don't have as much room to play with so the jacket wants to stand out rather than lie flat. It may relax some with wear, though, or perhaps when I re-attach it I will do a better job. 

In a way, it doesn't matter, because the jacket fits better without the dickie and also fits perfectly well with my own hoodie underneath and is comfortable. This is my bulkiest hoodie and I'm wearing a fairly thick tee beneath that. 

I'm inclined to keep this in the new size; it's really comfortable and feels super easy to wear and work into my closet. 

Back in 2017 I bought a Black Watch suit from Banana Republic that I loved for its versatility -- it was very easy to dress down because the pants were ponte and the jacket had a spunky shorter cut (despite what it says in the Finds -- this was actually a short jacket). The pants gave up the ghost, alas, and  anyway, I had tired of the skinny silhouette, and the jacket is still functional but looking the worse for wear. So I've been hunting for a replacement. 

Several people suggested I search out a knit jacket during my recent thread about style adjectives, style persona, and the challenges of my work-from-home wardrobe. This Liverpool suit includes a knit jacket with a dickey (a poor woman's Veronica Beard) and slim straight pants. 

For those who might be considering it -- Angie featured the trousers (in a different colour) here, and for good reason. The quality of the fabric is quite nice -- it drapes well and feels soft but substantial to the touch, stretchy but not too stretchy.  It is not as warm as the BR ponte pants but that might be a good thing -- those trousers did not work in transitional seasons all that well. The sizing is very generous. I sized down. I would need to hem these (of course) to make them ankle length -- such are the everyday realities of being short.  I have turned them up here. These are a mid rise on me -- just below my belly button. Keep in mind, I have a very long rise. 

The jacket is also fun. I'm showing it with and without the dickey. By the size chart, this should fit, and it does fit the shoulders (at least with the dickey inserted) but it is actually quite wide through the body and looks a. touch wide in the shoulder without the dickey, so I have ordered a size down to compare. 

I would almost never wear the sleeves at full length; guaranteed I would scrunch, and the nice thing about a knit is that you can. 

It's a bit weird, in a way, to make a knit jacket dickey style. The whole thing about the dickey is that you don't have to have the full layer underneath because for some people that would feel constricting. However, a knit is stretchy so the constriction issue is much less. I honestly don't know how often I would wear the dickey thing -- I'd probably rather have my own hoodie to wear underneath! The zippers are a bit fiddly and annoying. But it's nicely constructed for the price. 

I've tried to show the plaid, which is a very quiet navy, charcoal, grey that will work well with most of my tops. I think it would look nice with fuchsia, magenta, burgundy, and red, too. Obviously, I would mix and match these pieces, wearing the jacket with jeans and the pants with different jackets. 

What think you? I'm tempted to keep if the XS jacket fits. Despite the dickey issue. There's another I might try from Simon's to compare, though. (In Finds). The problems with that one are the plaid is black, predominantly, and the jacket, I think, is longer. 

Comparison photo of the old Black Watch. That jacket was a bit shorter (I like a short jacket for myself!) but this one is not too long. 


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Some recent returns (and some gear keeps)

I've been quietly ordering a few items. My 12 year old bathing suit gave up the ghost so I ordered some sale pieces from Athleta -- am keeping these. Also got some tights and a few tanks in navies. It feels good to have workout gear in my main neutral instead of the ubiquitous black.

At the same time, I ordered the space age silver jacket that I'd been coveting for a while, on super sale. However, I'm sending it back. The fabric feels too crinkly and I don't think it will be warm enough for me. Nice style, though, if you are looking for a very casual non-down lightweight puffer.

I also ordered this fab oversized cotton sweater from Gap. I really love the loose cut and the slouchy look of it -- also the cotton knit. Alas. the off white is too cream for me and the stripes too bold -- it wears me, rather than me wearing it, so I am sending it back with some regret. 

I share in case anyone else is considering either of those items. 



Consignment fun

A few weeks ago I took a short trip to Vancouver for some meetings and appointments and visits with friends. While there I popped into my favourite consignment shop. I walked away with two unexpected purchases -- unworn, still with their original tags, cheap as chips. 

The Club Monaco lace pencil skirt is a bit of a fashion throwback -- definitely not on trend! (Though I think I've seen more pencil skirts sneaking back in...). Anyway -- I've wanted a lace skirt for ages. It's not something I can wear much around the house because of my cat, but overall, I've been aiming to add more texture to my closet and this fits the bill. 

I'd like this better if it were midi-length, but this at-the-knee length is good with sneakers and flats, and maybe it counts as my version of a mini, ha! It has a slightly stretchy liner and a back vent so it is comfortable. The zipper is in the back and is in pewter, which juxtaposes nicely with the lace. The fit is great. And the lace is substantial. I figure it will work for me dressed down with denim. And maybe dressed up sometime, too -- who knows. 

The sweater is a Diane von Furstenburg animal print in my trusty blue and white -- a silk blend. Years ago I got a DVF blush sweater in a similar print and fabric at the wonderful NAS I travelled to with Svetlana. I almost never wear this style of classic cardigan,  but I can wear it buttoned up as a top. And it will work with jeans, of course. Or as a topper for my navy shirtdress. 

I'm sure I'll wear the sweater enough to justify the price. The skirt, I'm not as certain of—but I thought it was worth a try. 


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