A few reviews: Blondo and BR silk-cashmere

Hi, all --

My computer is finally working again! (And yay for warranty -- they had to replace everything except the motherboard. Would have cost me $1500 but instead was free.)

I have been popping in here as able but hoping to catch up with you all soon. 

In the meantime, a couple of reviews/recommendations. 

First, the Blondo Elvina. I bought this "western light" boot in black about six weeks ago and have already worn it 30 times or more. So when it came time to look for a taupe bootie to work with my new consignment Pink Tartan jacket (and other things) I was delighted to learn that Elvira comes in dark taupe. 

For me, this is almost an ur-bootie. It has the perfect 2 inch heel height and slope in the footbed for personal comfort. (It actually feels lower than 2 inches to me so those who like a 1.5 inch might try it in case.) The heel is exceptionally stable. The width in the front is perfect for my foot shape. The shoe has a grippy bottom to prevent slips. It is waterproof. (Take that, PNW rain!) It is also lined in warm fabric. (This unfortunately means it would likely be too warm for a very hot climate but of course it is perfect for mine.) I love the pointed toe. It doesn't show in the stock photos well but you can see it in my own pictures. I can walk 20,000 city steps in these with no discomfort. 

Some reviewers say that the ankle is too snug. As you can see, it is actually quite loose on me. But no "flower pot" effect because the loose areas are front and back rather than side to side. This also means no rubbing on that part of my calf. Instant comfort. It also looks quite nice with a skirt or dress with toned hose -- the pointed toe makes it work. If you are in the market for a stylish but not extremely trendy, practical, smart-casual, waterproof bootie, I would highly recommend. 

Next up, the BR silk-cashmere pullover. This is also part of my "Pink Tartan" complement. It is a lightweight knit, tailored at the shoulders and sleeves and bust in my regular size but very fluid below. However, since it's thin, it can be tucked easily or semi-tucked. It's quite long on the body but again, not bulky. It comes in a wide range of colours and makes a terrific simple "base layer" under a blazer because it is not bulky yet it is warm. 

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"Max Mara" coat, or, a funny thing happened while I was waiting for the bus...

The bus was late. There was a consignment store by the stop and I nipped in. 

There I found this frankly fake, dressy "Max Mara" coat. It has nothing in common with a real Max Mara. More like "Zax Zara" in terms of quality: although the composition is good and the lining is nice and the sewing isn't too bad, the buttons are cheap. Anyway, I put it on. And it was one of those moments when reason flies out the window.

This is a crazy wild card purchase, completely impractical for my Ontario existence but possibly wearable here on the coast. Lightweight wool, poly, with bracelet length sleeves and real, removable fur cuffs. 

I have thrown it on over a few things here -- a slightly dressy outfit, and irregular outfit juxtaposition. It works well with the red boots, of course. 

So...foolish or crazy like a fox? 

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K/R new jeans, CoH reviews

I've had a big credit note at Aritzia for ages but have found it difficult to use. On the weekend they had a sale so I am trying a few items (in Finds). 

One, the off-white sweater, is a straight return. Didn't take pics. Too small in shoulders. (Their fits are often off for me). 

Other items are the CoH Olivia black slim jean, the Babaton cropped sweater, and the CoH Charlotte. 

Olivia is a 99% cotton, 1% stretch as per usual CoH jeans. It's billed as "slim" not a true skinny and I would say that's accurate. It skims the calf rather than gripping it. The fabric feels a lot like the Rag and Bone burgundy Dres from 2 years ago NAS -- soft but not too soft. It's a true dark black with just the tiniest bit of fading on the thighs. It's billed as an ankle jean. Of course on me it is full length, but easily rolled to show a bit of ankle. It has a button fly. The waist is a true high rise -- comes right up to my navel. I ordered in my usual size and the fit feels good. I could go up a size, perhaps, but I suspect they'd then bag out more than I would like. I think these are keepers, no?

The little top is a great colour and...stripes! :) It's also a nice layering weight. But it is very cropped. You can see a bit of skin on the side view. I'd probably only wear with a cami underneath and a topper. But still...not sure I feel okay with it. 

The Charlotte jeans are straight legs. High waisted, also with button fly. 100% cotton. I sized up because there's no stretch, and these fit well. They are very long on me and at full length almost look like baby boot cuts. I would have to have the hems altered. I am not sure I know of anyone who can do it so the detailing remains and of course that would be an extra cost. So I'm not sure these are "the ones."

I really want a pair of high waisted, 100% cotton slim jeans -- either straight or slightly tapered. I am kicking myself now for not getting the Drees, in the spring, which were more of a "mom" jean than a straight, which tends to look better on me -- a little looser in the thigh and a bit tapered toward the bottom. (All gone now, alas). However, these are a really good fit (apart from length) and do feel good. CoH jeans tend to fit me better and have greater closet longevity than any other brand apart from Rag and Bone, and I'm pretty loyal to them as a result. So...I'm open to discussion. ;) 

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Responsive Boden service

Many of you may recall that I ordered a lot of Boden dresses this summer and then sent half of them back. By the time I got around to making the return it was early July. I expected several weeks for delivery and processing -- possibly up to 2 months. But when I checked my Visa bill this month and realized I still hadn't received credit for those items I got a bit concerned. Canada Post had told me I did not need tracking because air to UK is so very reliable, and I'd taken them at their word because we pay for returns from Canada, and it would have cost me about $50 more to send with tracking. But that meant I had no record. 

I wrote to Boden on Friday with my order numbers and the items -- and woke up this morning to find my account has been fully credited. They didn't explain what the mix-up was, but dealt with it instantly and efficiently. 

I will definitely be shopping with them some more. In Canada, we don't have the convenience and ease of free returns, so it feels a bit risky. But we do get extremely fast delivery from the UK (a matter of days, seriously!), and all duty, taxes etc. are rolled into the price in CAD so that there are no surprises in the purchase. 

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Cool toned leopard topper?

It's October, and I'm in fall shopping mode! :) 

I'll report next week on some purchases. In the meantime, here's something I tried but didn't buy. What do we think of this faux fur cool toned leopard topper by Jones New York? Too over-the-top (ha ha) or just right? 

The price is reasonable, especially if I buy this weekend on sale. An item like this is not on my shopping list. But I couldn't resist trying it on. 

ETA, it may be *slightly* large but does not come in a smaller size. It's a duster shape and meant to be loose but the shoulder fit is just off my own shoulder. Sleeves surprisingly okay however. 

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Milking it. 2 piece "dress" and other stylings.

I neglected to tell you all yesterday my real reason for ordering from J. Crew: this Liberty Print skirt came back into stock in my size and on sale. I've now worn the matching top several times and absolutely adore the print and the fabric -- it's incredibly light and cool, a lovely quality of cotton. So when the skirt popped into my bag, I couldn't resist giving it a try. 

This is a definite keeper. Fully lined. With pockets!! The waist is a bit large for me in my usual size but wearable now -- if I lose weight it would be an easy alteration. 

I can wear both pieces together as a "dress." I can also wear the skirt with almost all the tops in my closet, and most of the footwear. Various versions displayed -- of course I like some more than others. Very easy to dress up or down. Can be worn day or night. To the beach or out to dinner. I don't know if it is a style departure or not -- it is indeed a bit more feminine than my usual -- but it feels very natural to me and easy to wear. I hope you approve! 

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More dresses: Return and K/R

I ordered a couple more dresses to try from J. Crew. The first is going back. It's the cotton poplin version of a viscose dress I already returned (also in Finds). It's fine -- nice enough fabric, and it would be cool -- but I'm not in love with it and don't need it since my gingham Boden Eleanor will serve a similar purpose. 

The second is a dress I think from last year's line that popped up in my size on the site - it's silk, drop waist but with a tie that allows you to create a waisted effect if you want (an unusual feature) and tiered. A different style than I'd typically choose. In the mirror I liked the silky tiers and the sort of "flapper" effect but did not care for the ruffled shoulder detail. In the photos the shoulder detail doesn't bother me so much. It could possibly be removed to make a simple sleeveless look. 

I got it for a really good price so I'm debating this one. What think you?

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Returns: CM Quynh dress and others

I thought you might like my review of the beautiful CM Quynh dress Angie mentioned in this morning's blog. Roxanna wears the black and white version brilliantly.

Here's the floral version on me. Lovely pattern. Nice fabric. And I got it at an excellent price. But the fit is off. It's slightly snug in the hip area in my usual size, and a bit shorter than I'd like on the short side. I could size up, but I'm not enamoured of the colour/ pattern on me and it feels quite similar to another CM dress I own (and adore -- the Norra -- in Finds and also in last photo). If they happen to have a size up in store when I return, I may give it a try but my inclination is no, much as I like the idea.

I also tried a knit top with interesting origami sleeves. I am returning this, too. I like it but don't really need it. I ordered it to get free shipping.

Then (excuse the bra straps) an extremely inexpensive  ON top I got simply to round out my cognac capsule. I don't think I'll keep because it's not really a need and of course the quality is not great. Even for $11.

Finally, a tie-belt midi skirt from Gap. It's cotton-linen, lined with cotton. In the image it seemed more A-line but IRL it is more dirndl. I thought you might like to see it anyway. It's nicely made, but unless you are a wasp waisted pear or hourglass you would probably want to size up. I sized up 2 sizes but also went down to petite. In other words, this could be a great item for a tall pear who likes this shape of skirt!

Apologies as ever for photo quality. I need to set up the DSLR again. 

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More Boden Dresses: The Good, the (too) bad, and the ugly

Before sending back my Jade and Notch-neck linen dresses (visible here), I put in a new order at Boden. The dress that Angie suggested I try months ago came back into stock in my size, so I snapped it up, and predictably, because Angie's word is golden, this one's a slam dunk. Made with a lovely mid-weight cotton-linen, Eleanor is a perfect casual summer day dress for me. I put it on and Mr. Suz said, that is a keeper. Thank you, Angie! 

I was also intrigued by Emory so I decided to give it a try. I love the neckline. The fabric is cotton-modal and the bodice is lined in a light poly, but it doesn't feel the least bit hot. Again, this is a great throw-on-and-go dress for days when I have to head to town for errands but don't want to fuss. I like the more elegant length. 

I ordered UK 8 regular in both these dresses. Eleanor is quite roomy on me overall but fits neatly in the shoulder. Emory fits just right. 

Next, meet Josephine. She's last year's model and was on considerable sale. I thought she might be a substitute for Jade. All cotton, lined in cotton. Gorgeous, gorgeous fabric, beautiful workmanship! 

In this type of fit and flare style at Boden I seem to take the 6 UK. I'd ordered Jade in the petite version and the bodice was a good fit -- but I felt the overall length was too short and would have preferred the regular for that.  

Josephine doesn't come in petite. This makes her a bit long waisted for me. It is awfully hard to show in the photos, but if I hitch her up at the shoulders by about an inch and a half, I don't have extra material at the back, the neckline falls in a better place, and the fit is overall nicer.

Another issue that reviewers mention is that she's a button front style with a placket. People complain about gaping. I don't have it when I stand still, but if I bend at the waist the dress gapes a bit at my tummy, and I would have to have at least one snap added to prevent this if I were to keep.

Mr. Suz says the poor fit is obvious IRL and because of this, he was not in love with the dress (recall, he loves Jade). But he agreed it works much better if it is pulled up at the shoulders. I could have these alterations done -- they're not major. Thoughts? Keep and alter, or hold out for a different dress in a similar style? If so, suggestions? I could always wait and see what they come up with next year. There's no huge rush for this. This style feels dressier to me and I already have a few dresses that fill that niche. And am awfully tempted by one at Club Monaco for not much more $$. 

Now for the fun part. Valencia! Honestly. What got into me? I guess I was indulging fantasies of that beach vacation I have never gone on. Pure white linen was seducing me. 

But this romance was not to be. Valencia is cut for a very different person than me! She's snug in the hips (at least her lining is) but she's enormous up top along the sides (a frequent problem for me) and she looks like a hospital gown! Gorgeous fabric! Beautifully lined. But completely awful. Oh well. Live and learn, right? 

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Building complements: How to do it?

A couple of comments on my post about building summer complements from footwear seemed worthy of follow up and exploration: 

Jessikims said: I’m curious about other people’s complement collections. How many should a person have? You have silver cognac, one bright color, one white, it sounds like. I have blush, white/black patterned, rose gold.... but I certainly don’t have every color in the rainbow (or even in my palette). I guess they just evolve naturally... you find a new olive belt and you remember your olive sneakers and you think “complement!”

And SarahDB noted that she is not a bag person and does not wear belts so the elements of her complements might differ. 

I don't think there is any "should" about it -- have as many complements as you like or can afford! And base them on bags, scarves, footwear -- whatever you like!

I do think they sometimes evolve naturally -- and sometimes on purpose. My silver one has grown quite naturally with the switch to silver hair (since silver and grey bookend well) although it started even before that with a pair of pewter sandals and a silvery belt, back when I was still blonde. I loved the pewter sandals so much I started looking at pewter and silver footwear more regularly.

 The cognac complement also  evolved naturally in the first place (I had the vintage belt already and then picked up sandals on sale on a whim.) Meanwhile, I'm trying to create a red one on purpose because I adore red footwear and think a bright adds zip to a summer closet composed almost entirely of blue and white. ;) 

In terms of my thought process, metallic and white are both reliable neutrals for me in summer, easily worked into both casual and dressier outfits. Silver gives a bit of "dressiness" to casual looks. Cognac is also a neutral; it's a bit more unexpected for my closet since I wear almost exclusively cool colours, but it's "grounding" as others have said, and adds warmth to blue, white, grey, and black. Red is a bright well represented in my closet already and I love it, so it's a natural to build on. I'm actually starting that complement with clothing items vs. footwear or bag. 

If I could, I'd have other summer complements also -- maybe fuchsia, or mustard, or blush, or lilac or purple -- something unexpected. Accessories are so much more important in high summer when we don't have the luxury of layering toppers! Footwear can make or break an outfit. But I have 3 to 4 months of summer weather where I live and can only justify so many sandals. ;)  So I'm trying to contain myself for now. Next year in my more temperate climate I may add some complements based on dressier closed footwear. 

My winter complements are sadly lacking and that is an area I intend to build on this coming fall/ winter. I have some scarf/ clothing item complements and that is truly about it! Partly this is due to the constant need for snow worthy boots in my winter climate and their sober colours. I'm starting to plan ahead for building in new colours next year. 

How about you? How have you built complements? Have they evolved or have to set about it purposively? Do you think there's an ideal number? Should they be neutrals, or colours? 

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