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? 


Building spring/ summer/ fall complements, the sandal edition

Sorry for all the posts, Fab Friends. Guess what? Spring did not happen here, and summer has arrived with a vengeance. That means new footwear. Usually I buy sandals in March but this year I didn't. And it turns out that I had to retire a lot of summer footwear. I retired 6 pair of sandals for reasons of wear or comfort. Actually 8, if you count the two that I got rid of straight away at the end of last summer. 

That left me with two pairs...a semi-dressy Ralph Lauren gladiator, and a taupe cage sandal with a high heel that I rarely wear except for going out, even though the comfort is surprisingly good. 

I replaced an ill-fitting Camper silver casual sandal with the Eileen Fisher Sport in silver. This will be very versatile for me. I've already worn it more than I wore the Campers last year! 

I am also replacing my Fitflops (which I wear to walk in constantly in summer) with a silver pair. These are my most casual footwear. Together with my silver sneakers and silver pumps, I think I am covered for silver summer footwear. Which is not to say I wouldn't look at another pair. :)  

Silver bookends my hair. I have a silver belt (though it needs upgrading), and I always wear silver jewellery. Complement sorted. I don't have a silver bag, but I am on the lookout for one sometime during the next few seasons. 

A white sandal was a HEWI and I found one that works! Yay for Wittner. 

In summer I wear a lot of white. It somewhat bookends my hair, and I have a white bag and a white belt as well as large white earrings and pearls. I like these somewhat dressy yet easy to wear sandals. Complement sorted

I am also interested in a bright sandal, red to be exact (or one with red in it.) I've ordered the one below to try. We'll see. This would be an easy complement for me. I don't yet have a red bag but they are easy to find and I should be able to find one on sale. I don't have a red belt, but  I have big red earrings, a red scarf, several clothing items that include red. Red works really well with my whites and blues. Complement sorted. (Assuming these sandals work.) 

My favourite belt is cognac. It's mixed leather with snake effect and a silver buckle. I love it as a warm contrast with my summer whites, blues, light greys, black. Unlike all my other belts, which don't work with higher rise jeans, it fits with all my jeans, whatever the rise. Cognac and leopard were both easier for me to wear when I was a blonde, but I haven't gotten over my love for them it seems, and in the last few years I found a pair of low heeled cognac sandals by Seychelles (in Finds) a real boon in the closet. (To the point where I plan to add cognac footwear for fall next year also.) 

Well, today I went in search of something similar (having failed to find anything in Vancouver, Toronto, or even online in Canada!!) and came home with this higher heeled ankle strap! Which was not what I was after.

The thing is, it is SO comfortable I can't believe it! It's made by Vionic and their shoes usually don't work for me, but this one does. 

But is it a sensible purchase? Trying some potential summer to early fall transitional outfits below so you can see. I wouldn't wear it for doing errands or walking 5 miles or heading to the beach but I'd wear it for city trips, going out for a meal with hubs, out with girlfriends. 

They do make it in black, so I could get it in that. (I don't own a black sandal.) But it's lower contrast in the tan/cognac against my skin, and I think it looks better with the wood heel, too. 

I guess what I'm saying is, I want one colour or the other, regardless, because it feels that good! 

Photo 1 -- my all time favourite "got for a song, still going strong" shirt! With my all time favourite cognac complement. 

I could add a pair of big cognac earrings and maybe some clothing items (scarf, another top) with those tones in a pattern as well. 


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Boden dresses: my turn and K/R

While away I availed myself of the sale and made my first-ever Boden order. Boden comes from the UK to Canada. There was free shipping and no hidden costs, but of course the CAD prices are higher than the US prices. And I will have to pay for returns, though if I want to exchange, they will send the new item free again.  

Overall, I'm impressed with the quality of these dresses. They are old-fashioned in all the best and (depending on one's style descriptors) some of the worst senses of that word. They are ladylike, with whimsical patterns and retro cuts that remind me of dresses my mother sewed and wore in the 60s and 70s. They are also beautifully and thoughtfully constructed of lovely fabrics. Some are cotton and lined in cotton -- imagine that! 

I found them more or less TTS. For reference I am 5.4" (standing tall!). I usually wear a 0 or 2 or XS in BR, J. Crew, Ann Taylor, etc. S in Zara. And a 2 to 4 in higher end or designer stuff. At the moment I'm about 10 pounds up from my preferred weight so depending on cut and brand, I sometimes go with the larger size mentioned here; at my lower weight, I'd go with the lower. My bone structure is slightly more substantial than Angie's, but still on the small/ narrow side, and I'm a small busted hourglass/rectangle. 

I ordered 3 dresses in UK 8 (US 4). Two in L length, and one in regular. And one dress in UK 6 P. Partly I went with what was available and partly I based my choices on descriptions in the reviews and the cut of the specific item relative to my body type. 

First, Phoebe in cotton jersey. (#1) I got this is UK 8 regular. The fit is perfect.  It's a very casual yet presentable throw on and go dress, which is an extremely useful item for my lifestyle. Mr. Suz loved it right away, so it's a keeper. It comes to just past the top of my knee in the regular length. 

Next, the linen notch neck dress. (#2-5) I adore the 100% soft linen fabric, the cut, and the style of this. It has a size zip for easy on/off. I ordered long partly because it's what they had in my size and partly to see if I would like the extra length. This is a K/R, however, because although the fit is great, I'm not sure about the colour, which reads coral. Not my best. And the pattern feels a bit girlish to me. I would absolutely love this dress in a different colourway/ pattern, but wonder about it in this not-quite red. Thoughts? Keep and leave as is? Return? Keep and hem? 

Then we have Penny in 8 long. (#6-8) Penny is the longer sleeved version of Phoebe -- it's just cotton knit. But I thought it would be a great transitional fall dress for me in Vancouver. Easy to dress down or up. In this case I definitely like the extra length. In cooler weather I would wear with hose/ tights. K/R?

Finally, Jade. (#9-13) Jade I ordered in UK 6 P. The fit in the bodice/ bust/ waist is perfect. The length is to mid-knee rather than below knee, but still a decent length. The clear colours are fresh and pretty -- this is a beautifully made dress, as Christina pointed out! I found a way to do the sash so that it doesn't feel so "girly." But I still think the pattern may be too girly for a woman with hair as grey as mine. Perhaps I should exchange it for the plain navy, as a more sophisticated option? I do like the style, even though in itself it's more girly than my usual. I haven't had a true sundress in years and there's something lovely about that. 

FWIW, Mr. Suz thought this one was a definite keeper. He didn't much like Penny (but I do) and he quite liked the linen and thinks it works. 

Note also another new purchase, the Wittner Dafina white sandals. Super comfy soft leather and a good heel height for me. Sorry, no Find yet.


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WIB, rise comparison, and K/R J. Crew edition

Hello, YLF friends. I am back from my extended work related trip. While away, I did a bit of online shopping and a bit of bricks and mortar shopping. The latter was somewhat disappointing. As Angie often reminds us, the good stuff tends to be available early in the season. And Vancouver turns out not to have the options that Toronto (a much bigger city) has. Ha, who'd have thunk it? ;)  However, I did pick up a few items in person while away. And I also received a few orders on my return.

Before going away, I availed myself of new white jeans and shorts from the Gap. All are stretchier fabrication than I prefer, but not sausage casing, and not see through.

This set of photos shows a comparison...Pic #1 is my older CoH Elsas (which I love, but which have a lowish mid rise on me); #2 is the higher rise button front Gap jeans; #3 is the Best GF Gap jeans -- their rise is somewhere between the other 2.  Since we're on the topic of rise measurements, I have longish décolletage, shortish (1.5 hands) waist and long rise. Do you have a preference of rise style for me? For comfort, I am gravitating to a higher rise these days more and more.

The shorts are a bit longer on me than on the model. They can also be rolled up. 

An in-store purchase was the Eileen Fisher Sport sandal in silver. I have had my eye on these for a few years but had never had an opportunity to try on. I used to own a knock off by Ecco but it never fit me properly and I had to pass it along after a season -- it did not give enough support. These do, and are very comfortable, although I admit I got blisters on the bottom of my feet from wearing them for an 8 mile walk on a hot day the first wearing! ;) These will replace my silver Camper sandals from last year which refuse to stay on my feet -- the curse of a narrow heel.

Another purchase was the HEWI soft grey cardigan to replace an old pilly one. It's nothing fancy but has a soft hand, a good length, and a pretty heathered tone of grey. (Sorry, no Find yet). 

The K/R portion: All J. Crew, all on sale

1. Silk striped top. In summer I have a need for breezy easy tops and prefer them in natural fibers. B&W stripe may be too bold for my relatively low contrast levels, however. 

2. Blue sack dress. Like LisaP, I adore unfitted dresses, especially in summer. This one has fantastic reviews and a nice drape. But it's viscose. Bad idea or okay? 

3. Striped sweatshirt with funnel neck. Boxy cut, cotton, easy to throw on over a dress or skirt as well as pants/ shorts, but I do have similar options without a funnel neck. 

Sorry for the photo quality -- I do my best with the poor lighting. 


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More boots! Elodie Summit Review ETA Verdict at End.

As I continue to add to my BOOTS vs. booties capsule (duh, I think I finally understand the difference!) I was pleased to receive today for review the Elodie Summit in pewter. 

Apologies for the abysmal light and photos -- such is winter. 

However, I can tell you verbally that they are a delightful boot! 

Not styled -- I put on my burgundy Dres because they are cropped, allowing you to see a bit more. 

They are a roomy 37 -- I have plenty of space for my plantar fasciitis insert in these. There is some space around my ankle (it is easy to get on and off, contra some reviews); yet despite this, it looks quite streamlined on the foot and ankle, for a boot. 

(My feet and ankles, by the way, are what I would call "medium" volume. I have a high arch and instep but my foot is not at all broad or fleshy; my heels are very narrow and my forefoot is a regular B width.)  

They are extremely lightweight (important to someone who walks a lot) and "cushy" because of the platform. It raises me up off the ground (and the snow) quite nicely. There are treads (not lugs) so it is not great for true snow or ice, but should handle other disgusting weather very well. The addition of my PF insert increases the cushioning effect. There is also a lightly padded footbed -- not a lot of padding but more than a Blundstone. 

They have a chisel toe, so they are more refined in person that I imagined from the stock photo. 

The pewter is darker in person than in the stock photo, more a metallic charcoal tone. But still noticeably metallic. 

They are comfortable, albeit a bit on the loose side for me. I might need a thicker sock. 

They are not waterproof (although the sole is). I sprayed them. They'll be fine in light rain and in low puddles but not in a true downpour or deep water. 

They cost me an arm and a leg so I hope I enjoy them. I got them on a great sale...but the duty/ taxes amounted to $61!!! Sheesh!!! 

Still, if they work as I suspect they will work, they are going to be worth it. A fantastic Blundstone substitute/ upgrade for me. Not good for true snow, obviously -- but excellent in other kinds of yucky conditions, good to walk in, yet interesting enough to feel like part of an outfit rather than pure gear. 

Yay Angie for her metallic boot purchase that put me on the hunt!

PS my magpie gene is not completely satisfied and I still have space for more silver footwear. :) 


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Crave Report: Taos, that is.

Yay for Annagybe

She found me a new pair of boots to help ban winter boredom. 

The Taos Crave arrived. I apologize for the light; you can't really tell too much about how they look here, but I can tell you a little more to fill in the details. 

First, they are a true ink blue or dark navy, with silver hardware, and IRL they do not look black. This is a huge plus for me. I love many of the other colours also. But wasn't as sure I'd wear them regularly. 

I prefer a more refined style (which is how I get into trouble, since my lifestyle and climate are far from refined!). But for a rounded toe boot, once they're on the foot, I don't think they look too clunky. They have a lug sole, but it is surprisingly lightweight. Comfortable right out of the box, even on the calf, because the top is suede. 

I'm usually an EU 37 and that is what I ordered. They fit perfectly in length. They are too wide in the heels, but that is normal for me; I'll put a plantar fasciitis insert in there and that should hold me more stable. The fronts are also roomy, but not too wide on my foot. There's room for a thicker sock if I wish. The laces are long (for me -- when I adjust these for my leg without pants tucked, the top eyelet holes almost meet) -- but I used Angie's trick of tucking the laces in so I don't have to have a floppy bow, and it's nice to have that adjustability. For a woman with a thicker calf, there would be plenty of room. Plus, you can get the laces sorted and leave them if you want, because the boots zip on and off. 

I can tuck skinnies or slim pants into them or wear them out (one leg is showing one, one the other, not that you can really tell) and they also work (I think?) with a casual skirt. I didn't style them up -- just showed with what I'd been wearing and then threw on what was to hand. 

I've sprayed them with waterproofing -- they are not completely weatherproof, but given the sole, they should do me pretty well as long as we don't have true snow going on. And while they'r not my typical style, they will offer me a terrific change. I really like the stable, 2 inch heel -- it's my perfect heel height and makes a big difference to comfort. 

Thank you, Anna! 


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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. 


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'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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