WIMW: Balloon jeans and linen

I ordered these M&S balloon jeans weeks ago and they finally arrived, along with a linen shirt. 

Tried them on quickly to see if they will work. 

The verdict: yes! I like the fabrication -- and the olive is a nice change for me from blue. The length is perfect. The waist is a bit snug but I think it will give and I am also up a few pounds on account of being laid up with an injury all winter. 

The linen shirt is wrinkled from the bag, but it's quite lovely. The background is ink, not black. The fit is nice and neat without being too close. 

I'm actually tempted to order these in the grey if they still have them in my size. I got the "short" and they work in my usual UK size (ordering in Canada). 

My apologies for the awful backlit photos -- now that I have a mirror, I see it is in precisely the wrong place for taking decent pics! All the light comes from the windows behind. I'll have to come up with another option...

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42 comments

Red plaid pants and some more purchases and possibles

As mentioned in another post, most of my clothing purchases this year have been gear. 

But I have bought a few "fashion" items, mostly to fill new needs (indoor footwear for long days in the house, replacement white denim, updated sneakers for fall walking, a nylon backpack, the ripskirt). 

In other words, almost all my purchases have been of the extremely practical kind. 

I guess that's why I went a little nuts at a recent J. Crew sale with free delivery. Ooops!  

This is all potential holiday wear. We'll be at home, just the three of us and the cat, not doing any entertaining or going to any parties. I know many people have enjoyed Zoom dinner parties and cocktail hours etc. during the pandemic but those are not for me. I don't mind a one-to-one Zoom tea or wine date, but I really don't do well with  Zoom dining. 

Anyway...point being, I could wear my sweatpants but I would rather wear real clothes and I'd like to treat myself to something new to add to the feeling of "festive." 

First, the Cameron high rise plaid pants. These are great! Exceptional quality. They are beautiful wool, fully lined, they include an extra self-fabric front button (in case of overindulgence in holiday meals, I guess!) and the plaid lines up! At least on the pair I got. 

I found them TTS or possibly even a bit generous, and they have some give so will stretch a bit. Warning -- they will not work if you have a short rise. I happen to have a very long rise, so they are fine for me. If your rise is short, I would go for the mid-rise Cameron instead. On 5' 4" me, the "cropped" length is a true ankle pant (hits right above ankle bone). I like this "Laura Petrie" style pant -- it is slim up top and gently glides over calves -- not calf-sucking. I'm inclined to keep them. 

I also ordered a scarf to give myself a red outdoor accessory complement -- this one works with red, burgundy, blue, lilac, etc. (That is, with all my coats) and I can wear blue and burgundy hats with it as well. It's a bit scratchy but that doesn't matter so much to me with an outdoor scarf. And I suspect it will soften a bit if I put it in the wash and air dry. 

Onto the tops! 

First up, a lace shirt. I've wanted something in lace ever since I joined YLF (thanks, Angie!) but somehow, I never found my perfect item. This shirt comes with its own matching camisole and has a bit of stretch. It does not feel scratchy against the skin as some laces do. They call it "Baroque blue" but I'd say it's royal/ cobalt and since I also wanted to add more in this colour to my closet, The price was exceptional. I thought I'd give it a whirl. Inclined to keep. 

The Margot sweater is just a titch towards orange-red, so not my absolute best (I do better with anything from true red through cranberry to cool burgundy). But again, red is something I definitely want more of and this fits a need for now. So I'm wavering on it. Price was reasonable. 

The velvet shirt is another something I've wanted for years and never found. This one is soft, like a smooth hug, and feels very cozy, but I don't agree with the reviewers who crowed about its quality. It's fine, not at all bad, but I would not have wanted to pay full price for it and I'm debating a return (if it's returnable -- I need to check). 

Note: I find the two shirts to be on the small side. In the past, I often ordered a size down from the one I've ordered here at J. Crew and was fine -- these are on the just-barely-okay side for me in the shoulders and if I were ordering again, I might have ordered up. The sleeves are ridiculously short, i.e. they are on the short side for me and I don't have long arms. It doesn't matter to me since I always scrunch sleeves, but I thought I would report on it. 

Apologies for the length of the post and for the terrible photos. My full length mirror is supposed to go up tomorrow at last!! 

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45 comments

Cold weather cycling gear?

Hello, all! I hope everyone is hanging in with this COVID madness. I am still here. I even made an actual fashion purchase recently -- but the goodies have not arrived so I can't show them off yet. Assuming they work.

My question today concerns gear. Specifically, biking gear for cool to cold weather.

A few weeks ago, I tore my medial meniscus on a run. Then, like a fool, I kept moving around on it, thinking it was a muscle pull and would just "get better." Reader, it did not. :(

Finally, I went to physio and was told in no uncertain terms to get off that leg! 

Well, you know me and my walking. This is not an easy order for me to follow. Especially during pandemic lockdown when going for a walk is not only a great form of exercise but the only allowable way to socialize! Yikes!!

Luckily, the physio also prescribed bike rides. So I've been out there every day for about an hour or so. But for now, I can't go for any kind of "power" ride -- I'm limited to low resistance and that means slower speeds.

Temperatures here have been hovering between 6 and 10 C...and oopsie! I have just figured out that I do not have proper cold weather biking gear.

What in heaven's name should I wear? So far, I've been layering merino base and second layer with my short puffer (not completely windproof and often too warm -- I get all sweaty even in supposedly breathable merino). My legs are in fleece tights (also not windproof, so my legs eventually get cold). My feet FREEZE even in double layers of wool socks. And my hands mostly freeze, too.

The only part of me that feels right is the head. The head is good. For the head I have a little merino cap that goes under the helmet and seems to do the trick.

I've ordered a few options to try. A reflective windproof waterproof jacket. A thermal jersey to wear over a merino layer. Thermal tights. And lots and lots of merino layers (but that's another post!) Deliveries here tend to take a long time, so who knows when they might arrive.

If anyone has ideas, I'm listening.

27 comments

Another handbag/ backpack question -- gear knowledge welcome

As I've mentioned on a few recent threads, the past few months have seen me devolve to carrying my Patagonia backpack all the time. 

Apart from rare forays to the grocery store and post office, when I go out, I am typically hiking in the woods and/or on suburban paths. I'm carrying keys, water bottle, jacket/ hoodie/ windbreaker, phone, mask, sanitizer, earphones, wallet, card case (sometimes alternating), sunglasses, sunscreen/ lipgloss etc, tissues. 

But then other times -- evening walks --  it's just phone, earphones, card case, keys. So the backpack really feels like too much then. 

A dressy purse -- even my leather backpack -- just feels like too much in these environs. (A few pics below). Leather's also heavy. 

The Patagonia is actually a bit too large for my needs but it is nylon and lightweight. 

So. I am thinking of what might work instead. 

I've considered a nylon Minkoff Julian and might get one if I could find in a colour I liked -- but right now the options at the Bay or Nordstrom's Canada don't make me smile. (I'd go for red or silver, but not black.)

But what I really think I need is, essentially, good looking gear. The kind of stuff that works like gear but won't completely clash with an outfit if we are ever released from our isolation and can move around out in the world a bit more. 

I could also very much use something that I can pop into my bicycle panniers easily that holds all my essentials!!! 

Two options I'm considering -- a Bellroy backpack and a Bellroy mini-sling. I own a few Bellroy products and LOVE them. I got them on Jenn's recommendation. 

I own a folio wallet (smallest sleekest wallet of this type I've ever owned and fits my phone if I want to put it inside...); mini-pocket (card pocket); a classic pouch, a pencil case (I use it as my makeup bag), a A4 tech folio (for my ipad mini and notebook). I truly love the product line -- they are brilliantly designed. 

Does anyone know anything about the backpack or mini-sling? Thoughts on something else that might work for me as well? Or better? 

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22 comments

Nordstom.ca is here

Hi, all -- 

I'm admiring all the work-from-home wardrobes and work-arounds! Confession: my own style has devolved very much into a lower level than usual. I'm in workout gear a lot of the day. Partly because I crave comfort, partly because I don't have very many clothes in the new house. (The family is in Victoria but most of our clothing remains in Vancouver until whenever we can get it.) And I'm not posting outfits because I don't have a full length mirror yet, and I guess it will be some time before I get one! 

But —Canadians—it looks as if Nordstrom.ca is open for business. The selection is of course considerably smaller than the American version, but we do have some options, along with free delivery and returns. I doubt if I will be placing orders for the next little while, but it's fun to browse and think about something other than the pandemic from time to time. 

Hang in there, everybody! 

18 comments

Colour trend: Blue (and new hair)

Spring blues, Fab Friends. Ironically, after posting my winter photos I had just decided I needed more red and white and who-knows-what else -- something light and bright and not blue in my closet. But these blues are so tempting, I just know I am going to going for some. You can't fight your signature colour, I guess. :) 

1-3: Veronica Beard. Blues from denim to soft powder...
4-7: Vince. Soft sky blues, dusty periwinkle blues. 
8-9: Eileen Fisher: Royal blues, teals, a few dusty periwinkles.
10: Helmut Lang!! (Yes -- even Helmut Lang is doing blue this year!!) Robin's egg, royal, and other things in between.

I went "window" shopping after my haircut. No purchasing, just scouting. You can't really tell but the style is a bit different -- longer front fringe and a very short back on nape but a bit of volume higher up. Will try to get better pics later. I can wear it sideswept or straight down or tousled or maybe flat ironed (didn't try). Colour is growing out...I'm also in blue, by the way, although it looks black. 

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Another comfy casual boot...and some winter footwear observations

Nobody would accuse me of having too few shoes...

My first puchase this year was yet another pair. I saw these Sorels on a fitness classmate and fell in love. They were on sale. And wow, what a terrific little boot! Waterproof, lightweight, warm! Good for a medium volume foot or a narrower foot (I suspect) -- won't work on a very wide or super high volume foot. I do have narrow heels -- one boot shifts a bit (this, however, is story of my life!) but I don't think I'll get a blister; the other foot is fine (a near-miracle). 

These are admittedly on the "athleisure side" but I intend them for coming back and forth to fitness class and running errands; maybe also for daily walks, depending where I'm walking. They come in 3 colourways. 

I just threw them on coming home from gym, which is basically how I will wear them, so....excuse the mess! :) 

Some further winter footwear observations.

1. Like Angie, I bought the Converse flatform, and like her, I can tolerate it...but barely. It is a bit too heavy for long wear. And it's also a bit too flat for me, but not roomy enough for my PF inserts. Which means I don't feel fully supported in it. I have two pairs (mustard and red) and I do wear them a lot (it's a perfect option for my climate) but I've also learned that I do not care for this chunky style with my BF or slim jeans. I only like it with wide legs or flares. It just feels too "boyish" on me. I prefer my BF jeans with a pointed toe or almond toe -- something more refined. Interesting info for future reference. 

2. The Paul Greens are total workhorses. I did have an awful few days of break-in with them due to my narrow heel. But once they softened up -- pure bliss. Lightweight and fabulous. Not waterproof, though, so I baby them a bit. Also, the heel is going to wear down really quickly. I know from experience that I can get a lift put on this type of sole...but then the boot will be considerably heavier. I did it with my La Canadiennes last year and while I've worn those for another season, they are not as comfortable any more. I am really hard on footwear. A shoe I wear regularly is likely to wear out in a season. ;( 

3. For a heel, the EF pump is shockingly comfy. I ended up walking a mile and a half the other night in these when the bus didn't come, and wow -- they were great! This makes me think I really should consider EF shoes more often. They are very pricey but the quality is fab! I forgot to mention these in my comment on the "black footwear" post. I'd love these even better in blue, but am very glad to have them at all. I only own a couple of truly dressy shoes. How lovely when they're actually wearable! :) 

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32 comments

Question for SYC participants

Hi, everyone! I have a question for those of you who joined the SYC challenge. 

How is it different from usual for you? 

Do you typically buy an item or two every month? Or does "looking"(i.e. online or in-store browsing without purchasing) also count as shopping, and you want to reduce that behaviour, as well? (And if so, why?)  

I'm curious because as a seasonal shopper, I regularly go months at a time without purchasing, just as a matter of course. I do continue to look at things online (mainly in the Finds here) but generally I do so in a mood of pleasant abstraction, without any strong desire to buy the things... even if I like them a lot. I sometimes file away ideas to my list of items I might want later in the year. 

My main shopping months, it seems, are May-June (for spring/ summer). This is late in the season -- I know Angie shops in February/ March -- but so far, I have found I don't really know my needs for spring/ summer things until closer to the time when temps really rise.  I shop again in July (NAS, which for me includes Basics) and September-October for fall/winter. I sometimes refresh knits or gear in January at the post-holiday sales. And that's pretty much it, except if I have a gift card or I need to travel to a place where my existing clothing won't really work. 

I might go into a store and try things on...and if I find a HEWI I might make a purchase between seasons. But it's relatively rare. Even if I do find something I've been longing for, I tend to wait on it if I find it outside my usual shopping window. For example, although I really want a long military style navy coat and loved the Mackage I tried on in November or December (not sure the timing any more) -- I didn't buy it. I might still buy it next year. Wait and see. 

Please know, this is not meant in any way to judge any one or to suggest that seasonal shopping is the only way to go. For one thing, if you're primarily a thrifter, it's important to hit the stores frequently, and in most cases, if you find something great at thrift, you're not going to want to hit "pause."  (My pattern of seasonal shopping might explain why I only have limited success at thrift and consignment, in fact!)

Also, my typical pattern means I tend to buy a lot in a short period of time. (Because, ahem, as you know, I don't exactly have a minimalist wardrobe!) For some, that might feel overwhelming or be impossible to manage financially.

And then there are the people who experience a lifestyle change or significant weight change between seasons and need to get clothing to work in their new environment or for the body they have. 

I've enjoyed reading the posts of all who participated and I see some interesting benefits (depending on reasons for joining in.) Some people took a really good stock of what they had, some figured out new ways to use what they had, some felt good about the financial savings or reduced environmental impact, etc. All of that seems great. 

Anyway, would love to hear from you about your usual shopping habits and how it is different to SYC. 

48 comments

2 piece dress for winter -- instant workhorse

Happy New Year, everyone! 

As we've discussed, it can be difficult to predict our workhorses. But now and again, we get lucky and can identify our winners ahead of time. Here's my latest -- a two piece dress.

Purchased with a gift card and on substantial sale, it's from Canadian company Comrags, known for their timeless and original styles and their excellent working conditions for employees. 

I could predict this would be a workhorse for a couple of reasons:

First, a two piece dress! My summer two piece Liberty print dress from J. Crew gets constant wear in the season. I love that I can mix and match the items. Here is one with long sleeves (yay!!) and a midi length skirt (yay again). 

Second, it's blue on blue (ink on navy) and navy is my core neutral, so it works seamlessly into the closet. 

Third, it is easy to wear yet has some interesting design details. Made of a tech fabric, it won't wrinkle and will pack like a dream. The skirt is gored so that it flips out a bit, trumpet style. The top has a keyhole neckline that can be worn open or shut in a variety of ways. It is not binding or constrictive in any way -- as comfy as pajamas! 

Fourth, I own a few more items from Comrags and they never go out of style and rarely wear out -- even with frequent wear. 

Showing it with the new earrings as well. I'm going to wear it out to dinner with friends and theatre. 

Trying it with my longer navy blazer, a moto, a shorter tartan blazer (subtle pattern mix) and grey sweater. Just playing around with what is in the closet. 

Yesterday I wore the skirt more casually, with a turtleneck and opaque tights. It was snowing then raining like mad so I needed coverage. Anyway, it gives an idea of other options. 

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40 comments

Double breasted and cutaway

Sorry to be a forum hog today. 

While I was impulse shopping for silver boots,  I decided to go whole hog and try on some coats while I was at it. As I mentioned in the blog yesterday, I adore and have always adored double breasted coats and jackets and military styling in general. 

I have also been searching for "my" long (midi length) coat for ages. It's been a lot more difficult to find than I expected. 

Somehow, without fully intending to, today I found myself trying on the pricey-for-me Mackage Elodie. 

Ooops!!! 

No, Fab Friends, I did not purchase it. It's very maxi length on me and doesn't look at all the way it does in the stock photos.

I don't know if it overwhelms me in scale. It was hard for me to judge because I was so in love with it. ;)

Quality, and fit (apart from length) surprisingly great, and I don't even mind the length, TBH. It's very tailored, nipped at the waist, and cutaway with a back vent, so when you sit, it's not all uncomfortable, unlike many long coats. It is navy, by the way, not black. 

I am wearing it here over jeans, the forum fave sweater (BR ribbed merino) and a not-too-thick blazer. 

I couldn't get perfect photos and I didn't try it with the doubled over collar (as pictured in the stock photo) but did try the collar in a Revere style and also pushed up at the neck (a common thing I do). 

I don't know if this coat will go on sale at all. Hard to say. Temperature wise, it wouldn't really work in Montreal -- too open in the front. But for Vancouver/ Victoria/ Seattle and even Toronto/ New York -- it's good with the right outfit. 

Thoughts? 

I can probably justify it financially if I take on another contract. AND if it is the kind of thing I'll keep in the closet for years. 

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59 comments