The Annual Get Real with Myself Footwear Rant

It's a YLF tradition!! I do it every year! And I am still struggling to learn the obvious! 

What what what is wrong with me? 

I know what is wrong with me. Constitutionally, I am a shoe lady. Mr. Suz refers to me as Imelda. I want all the pretty shoes! 

But here, my friends, for my own accountability and your amusement, is my reality...and -- should any be needed -- further evidence that for all my sensible talk of practicality, on some level I am still insisting on buying for my fantasy life and refusing to face facts! 

Here is the pattern of my days this year: 

Once a week: Walk 2 miles to work. Teach all morning. No office, no locker. No place to leave my coat, even, except the back of my chair. Walk back. Sometimes meet a friend for lunch on my way back. Sometimes go to another meeting on my way back.

2 or 3 additional days a week: Walk to library for research. Walk to campus (as student). Either for class or meetings. Again-- no office, no locker.

3 to 6 days a week: Go into town for errands or to meet friends, on foot. Walk in and out of stores, banks, restaurants, etc. on slushy, snowy, or wet streets. Coat stays on unless I am out for lunch or supper or a show; footwear stays on.

3 to 4 days a week: walk to gym. Coat / boots go in locker during gym. 

Every day: spend several hours to most of day working at home. 

Once every 6 weeks or so: Go to big city for day trip or overnight(s). Tend to dress less casually but footwear will need to be walkable. 

So...this is my reality.

From early-to-mid December (in a typical year) to the end of March or even mid-April (approximately 16 weeks) the weather is wet, icy, snowy, slushy, and often very cold:

I need functional but somewhat attractive, flat or block heeled waterproof insulated boots, with lug or at least rubber/ grippy soles. And slippers for indoors.

  • True snow boots like Uggs are too casual looking and too warm. (Though I own those boots and wear them for my regular walks and outdoor stuff and on truly stormy days.)
  • Non leather rain boots would make me sweat.
  • Most booties are not warm or protective enough and would get ruined.
How many of the right kind of boots do I currently own? 

  • 1 short pair
  • 2 knee high pair (one with a block heel, one flat). 

ALL BLACK (not a dominant neutral for me). So that is 3 pairs of footwear for approximately 112 days or almost 1/3 of the year. 

How many slippers? 

1 frustrating pair (because inside lining always gets bunched up.) 

From April to May (approximately 8 weeks), I need:

  • Booties.
  • Sneakers.
  • (very occasionally) a dressier pump.
Often, waterproof is best, because weather can be wet. A bootie that is weather proof will get the most wear, even if I own and love others.

How many booties and sneakers of this type do I own? 

2 (blue snakeskin, grey Aquatalia).
2 sneakers. 
1 dressier pump. 

From early-to-mid June until mid-to-late-September (approximately 14 to 16 weeks) I need, primarily:

  • Sandals or open heel or toe styles, or
  • (occasionally) sneakers, or
  • (even more occasionally) dressier pump style.
How many sandals of this type do I own? 

(Currently) 4, though 2 are on their way out due to wear/ comfort issues. 
2 sneakers. 
2 dressier pumps. 

From mid to late September until the mid-to-end of November or early December (approximately 10 weeks), I need:

  • Booties (mostly weatherproof because it can be rainy).
  • Flat casual boots without insulation.
  • (occasionally) a dressy closed pump.
How many of this type do I own? 

2 booties (see above)
0 flat casual boots without insulation.
1 dressier pump (see above). 

This adds up to about 14 pair of truly practical and usable shoes for all seasons, all 52 weeks --- not counting gear. 

How many other fancier, more delicate, dressier booties and shoes -- that is, virtually unwearable footwear -- do I own? 

  • At least 10. Probably more. I don't even want to look right now. 

Argh. More and more I think I need to buy stock in La Canadienne and Aquatalia. And just refuse to look at anything else. 

It's true that my summer season (sandal) is almost as long as my winter season. The "shoulder" seasons are (together) approximately the same length. But because they are rainy, even though in theory they would allow more delicate booties, in fact, with my lifestyle, those booties are rarely worn. 

Well, that's my observation for the day. Thanks for reading if you got this far. 

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GREAT customer service at Sandwich

A good news report! Remember my little Sandwich military knit jacket that lost its buttons?

I wrote to them and they sent -- all the way from the Netherlands!! --
a full package of replacement buttons, a sweet card, and as a bonus, a fab nylon shopping bag in fire engine red! How great is that?

All of this arrived yesterday. It ties right in with Angie's tip #8! 

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Dressing for the Life We Lead...Update: Success!

Apologies for double posting today. But on the theme of dressing for the life we really lead...here's my weather forecast today: 

Kingston, ON


That is - 29, people. For those of you who think in Fahrenheit, about -20 F. 

Lucky me. Today is the day I finally found my new parka! After 3 years of ordering and returning, I think I've got a winner to add to my puffer capsule. My trusty Lole has been a winner in every possible way, but face it, I'm tired of this coat after 7 years of very hard wear. It is not truly worn out but it is starting to show its age (a few worn spots on inner collar, a few feathers coming out now and again). I won't retire it, but I will be happy to have a cousin for it in the closet. 

This coat is the Fermont parka by Quartz. I had tried other styles of theirs, and admired the quality, but sadly, I was between sizes. This one is a snugger fit so I could order my larger possible size and it works perfectly. It comes to about an inch above my knee, a length I like for my walks in the cold. I can layer a jacket under it comfortably (as well as knits). The company is Canadian and sources ethically. The coat can be worn in a variety of ways (it has an inner core liner that you can zip or not, show or not and the fur is removable). It is washable and waterproof. The colour is a soft, greyed navy that will work with my charcoal mitts and boots and will also look great with red accessories if I can find some. DH really likes it. I got it for 25% off the regular price. 

Guess what? I think I will keep it! 

Sorry the colour of the photos is off -- it's due to my lighting, alas. But I assure you, it's a nice soft yet dark navy. 

ETA: selfies in the wild! Wore it outdoors for 75 minute walk. Total success. No frozen parts. ;) 

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Season of Bricks & Mortar, Part 2

Part 2, Toronto. I was in the city twice this fall and both times popped into a few shops. My time was short, alas, but the Finds were good. Once again, all these items went into immediate rotation. 

At Club Monaco I got this fun red merino sweater with Edwardian sleeves, an Angie pick. (But I found it before that, she boasted immodestly, ha ha). 

Also, in the "never say never" department -- these leopard print corduroy jeans! I am usually not one for ultra stretchy jeans (I prefer denim with a very low stretch quotient, mostly cotton), nor am I one for calf-sucking skinnies, nor am I one for corduroy -- but I could not resist! I do feel they are more like "leggings" than jeans and even though they are high waisted I feel better with a longer top, perhaps because it breaks up the expanse of, ahem, leopard. But these are cozy, warm, comfy, and super fun.

I also got the pom pom hat on that shopping trip. 

Then, at Banana Republic, the fabulous Black Watch pants, already shown. On an even bigger impulse (because I could not resist and everything was 50% off) I threw in the matching jacket. Note, they call this "Long and Lean" in the description but it is actually the shorter Classic style that hits high hip and can be worn with some dresses. Many would consider this too short to wear with trousers but I am okay with this length on me. It makes a suit! Or can be mixed and matched, of course. In photo 5 I'm wearing with plain blue Sloans tucked into tall boots on a slushy day. With a brooch for some retro silliness -- lunch with an old friend. 

On that outing I also got the fab red military jacket. 

And finally, the Kit and Ace side zip pants (shown with the red sweater). These are replacements for an older pair in black. They are sleek, easy to wear, and terrific for travel. 

I apologize for the lighting in the photos. I do my best to adjust but it has to do with the angle of the natural light -- it works better when I set up the DSLR but that has not been available to me as DD is using. 

Thanks for looking and happy to offer recommendations or advice on any of these items, all of which (I think) are still available except those Sloan pants, which were so fantastic they sold out instantly. 

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Season of Bricks and Mortar: Part 1, Montreal

I'm an online shopper. I live in a small city without many retail options and the few boutiques we have rarely stock my size in the items that interest me. From YLF I've learned to use my occasional big city trips as opportunities to check things out rather than to purchase, because even in the big chains, my size is seldom available in the colour I want, or not available at all in store. So I try things on and (as a rule) go home to order the proper size/ colour.

Well, never say never. This has been my season for bricks-and-mortar and impulse purchases. Aside from a few considered items that I picked up at NAS back in July, I've bought everything in store, in person, during the course of 3 big city trips when I had no intention of shopping at all! And everything I've bought has become an instant workhorse. 

I'll break it up into a few posts. First, in Montreal, at Sandwich (a Dutch chain but a stand-alone boutique here), I bought a HEWI --  a long sleeved casual dress. This is literally a sweatshirt but that is precisely what I need -- something so casual I could wear it to school if I want. I like the drop waist. It has great texture and pockets and in person an ultra subtle print like a starry night. Works with all my longer sweaters and with tall boots or booties.

I also bought this adorable knit military jacket/ sweater. Superb for travel, easy to wear. It has a slight peplum at the back. The only problem is, it's losing its buttons!! I've contacted them to see if I can get replacements; if not, I'll have to find substitutes. 

I also got two gorgeous scarves -- one blue/ grey, and one red/ blue.

Not only that, but I picked up some fantastic new sunglasses, and a pair of La Canadienne boots for everyday casual wear and my walks. I can only get the Find in leather, but mine are black suede and more refined looking than in the stock photo, while still having enough heft for our snowy weather.  (Penultimate photo -- casual Sunday with the boots). 

Oh, and because I can't resist, Mr. Suz with Leonard. They could be cousins, n'est ce pas? 

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Updating the fall closet

Now that September is upon us, I'm starting to think seriously about wardrobe holes/ needs for the season. My NAS was fairly light and basics-heavy (i.e. undies/ bras). I am happy with my purchases. The lightweight red sweater became an instant workhorse. I've already worn it 15 times (or more). I probably won't wear it much in winter (too lightweight) but for late summer/ early fall/ spring it  turns out to have been exactly what I didn't know I needed! :)  

For the first year in a while, I was not happy dressing for summer. I missed my usual dressy opportunities. (Mr. Suz and I did not get away this year for our usual theatre jaunt, and I was not able to attend WritersFest summer events.) So I sadly did not get to wear my occasion wear. Our weather was wet, wet, wet, and chilly most of the time. I had to do a lot of car travel so fell back on older pieces (tube skirts) that work well for that felt a bit dated, or in any event, didn't make me feel fab. I did take a short trip to the Maritimes where we enjoyed gorgeous weather the entire time, but that was strictly casual. 

For fall, my activities will be once again be mostly casual. I'm back to school, and taking a class which will involve lots of walking and outdoor excursions. I'm still working from home. I do have one evening presentation to give onstage in early November, and I will be attending a few dressier events in late September. I'm also hoping for a trip to Montreal with Mr. Suz in late October, where I will dress up in the evenings. 

My shopping list so far looks includes the following: 

  • A soft grey cardigan, long (to replace a worn out one).
  • Patterned pants or jeans? 
  • More casual chelsea or moto boots, weatherproof — for walking. Needs good arch support -- to replace Blundstones which aggravate my plantar fasciitis. I need to get on this requirement SOON as my Aquatalia Sweeties are now past renewal. 
  • 3 basic fitted turtlenecks, preferably merino — navy, black, grey.

Holdovers from last year that I could still use more of: 

  • Bright colour (red, royal, fuchsia, etc.) in tops or scarves. 
  • A few more cropped tops/ sweaters. 
  • An asymmetrical or other dramatic sweater. 
  • A few interesting belts.

Peacoat — not a short jacket but a mid-thigh coat (this is a MAYBE, not an immediate need). 

I'm still considering the EF asymmetrical sweater...it's on sale again and I am wondering if it is worth ordering. I am worried it will feel too long for me, even in petite? 

Also wondering what else I might consider for the fall/ winter, to round out my closet. Of course that will become clearer when I do the switchover (probably this weekend) to a more transitional closet. 

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More cropped wide leg questions -- help requested!

So, I am on the hunt for wide leg crops. I'd like a pair in dark wash denim and/ or a pair in linen or some other summery fabric, maybe chambray. Here's my dilemma. Because I'm short legged and crops can be challenging for me to wear without careful styling -- plus, wide-legs can be a bit overwhelming to my frame -- ideally I'd like a higher rise, but I'm worried that is going to prove impossible.

Here's why: I'm long in the rise for my height/ size.

High waisted jeans often give me a "wedgie". I'm having flashbacks!! This was my constant frustration back in the 80s and now that the higher rises are coming back it looks to be happening again. A mid rise seems more "adjustable" somehow, or at any rate, I've never had this problem with any mid or low rise pant. (A low rise can occasionally be too low, and was also "leg shortening" to my body type, but that is a different issue.

I ordered these great GAP high rise wide legs in my regular size and a size up (even though people said they fit large). Guess what? Not on me. The problem is, you guessed it, the rise, which isn't quite long enough in either size. If I size up any more, they will be too big all over.

To describe the fit problem more specifically -- they fit in the waist/ hip. They fit in the bum (from side to side, if that makes sense). It is from the waist to the crotch point that they feel "grabby" and uncomfortable. They look (and generally feel) okay in the front. You would never know there was a problem, looking straight on. But the back rise feels awful.  I have very bad memories of wearing pants like this all the time in the 80s -- now I remember why I wore skirts all the time back then when I could!!

So, does this mean I should simply stick to a mid-rise? J. Crew has a cute chambray mid-rise version I could try, for instance. Or I could order the ones LisaP found (though I'd rather not have black).

Another possibility -- more voluminous ones might work...I used to get a better fit sometimes with pleated trousers back in the 80s or ones that had more drape, or maybe some elastic in the waist for adjustability up and down on the body -- I don't need it for the width but for where the pant sits on me vertically. 

Anybody have thoughts? If you are also long in the rise have you had success with this style yet?

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Shopping report

I had an entire 3 hours of shopping time in the big city today and yesterday, whoo-hoo!!! 

Except it didn't turn out to be quite the spend-a-thon I might have hoped for. :)  I went to Bloor Street for about an hour on Wednesday evening and the Eaton Centre from 10 until noon today. 

Friends, I am learning why I shop online!

In all seriousness, it was lovely to have the time on my own to wander. It was great to be there in the morning today, when everything was quiet and serene. I got great service and had lots of space around me. It was fun to finger things and see colours in real life. 

But apart from my fun new jacket, I found nothing worth bringing home with me. :( 

I had ordered a few things from J. Crew but nothing worked except for a pair of shorts and a metallic tee. Either the size was off or the cut wasn't right or something. I will probably re-order the popover in a different size. It was not available in store. Nor were the Rayner jeans in my size. In fact, almost nothing was available in my size. 

I went to BR in two locations, in hope of finding those fun linen pants LisaP discovered -- no luck. Did not find anything else I liked, either. 

Went into both Zaras (Bloor and Eaton) and liked a few things in both stores, a least in theory -- but they did not have my size. 

Went into Massimo Dutti and saw gorgeous orchid coloured sweaters, etc., but do not need. 

Went to the new M0851 and enjoyed looking but was not crazy about unlined bags. 

Went into Club Monaco and was not tempted by anything. 

Went into Ann Taylor and did not fall in love with anything; went into Loft and tried the toile blazer but I needed a size down (or was between sizes) and they did not have it. It didn't look as good on me as the tweed jacket I ended up buying. 

Went into about 8 shoe stores and could not find bright shoes apart from a few total flats or sky high heels. Lots of lovely neutral shoes but I want a bright colour. 

So, what think you? Was this a fluke, or what? I'm going to get busy with some serious online shopping this weekend!!   :) 

Meanwhile, you see below the sum total of my spring/ summer refresh so far! 

What I want: 

  • Wide leg crop jeans/ pants (either, or more likely, both -- for pants, linen would be great or light cotton).
  • A few short boxy tops to wear with them. 
  • A bright red or fuchsia shoe or sandal, not a flat, not a loafer, but not a high heel. 
  • A red or fuchsia or yellow bag (should be easier to find)
  • A top with interesting sleeve detail
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Solution to Churn?

In El Cee's wardrobe challenge, Sterling identified wardrobe churn as a current concern and I know a number of others of us also wish to think about that, especially in light of continued scandals in the garment industry and environmental impacts of manufacturing. It can be hard to reconcile a love of fashion with the aspiration to do less harm. 

Shedev, in her "5 piece" wardrobe may offer a kind of solution, at least for some. 

As I understand it, you break your wardrobe into two main categories: what they call "basics" or Angie would call "essentials" and others might call "core" items.  And "statement" or "impact" or "trend" items. 

Core essentials -- you replace or upgrade these as needed -- throughout the year, whenever your budget allows. 

For each main season you choose up to FIVE new "statement" items or trend items to add to the closet.

How you define "core essentials" or "season" or "statement" is probably up to you -- Shedev outlined how the originators of this technique conceived of them but she has made small adjustments to suit her own lifestyle and needs and I would probably do the same.

For example -- for most people in my climate some kind of bootie would be an essential -- but is only one "essential"? Or do I say that one light coloured neutral, one dark coloured neutral, and one bright are "essential." Do I say one casual and one dressy? Or 3 casual and one dressy? That is up to me, I think. This allows us some flexibility with wardrobe size and permits a certain amount of variety in the closet, which could otherwise become quite boring. 

I think it's pretty clear for me also that sweaters of some kind are "essentials" -- but how many would I call "essential"? 

I don't think there are any right or wrong answers here -- but I do think that perhaps thinking in these terms could help some of us establish baseline numbers for a wardrobe (which we could then test out as practical or impractical over a year or two by tracking wears and happiness factor.) 

Tracking wears shows us if an item is truly getting worn. And tracking "happiness factor" may show us that even if worn infrequently, the item has deep value in our closet. I own several items like this and they are not all statement or trend items. Some of my dresses fall into this category. I don't get to wear them often because of my casual lifestyle, yet they are still core essentials because I could not get dressed for certain occasions without them -- and they offer high happiness factor, which also contributes to their worth in my closet. 

Some people might need to add 10 statement items per season. Others, only 2. There might be years where statement items themselves had all worn out and you would need to replace more. But again, it gives one pathway. 

Does anyone else have thoughts on this? As Shedev pointed out, this system can only work for those who already have a working closet with all the essentials (or most of them) covered -- and can probably only work for those whose style is fairly well defined. 

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Think Pink? J. Crew jacket

Check the second thread -- sorry -- found a way to get the pics bigger. 

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