Evolving my style, Part 2

First of all, thank you so much for your helpful comments and questions on yesterday's thread. I will definitely come back with some answers after I have thought things over a bit more. But in the meantime, Deborah's post about her "essential 8" raised for me, one of the key issues that I have been struggling with: REAL vs. ASPIRATIONAL style. 

Deb's esential 8 -- now, don't they make sense for her? And don't they, together, create some very cool and interesting looking outfits? Well, I think they do, anyway. 

As for me, my REAL "Top 10" for winter is nothing like that at all, and, quite frankly, couldn't be, given my lifestyle. 

My list: 

Puffer coat (please also include scarf, mitts, hats as part of this item since they always accompany one another and can't really be viewed as "accessories.")

Wears so far: 40

Snow boots: 30

Weather-ready moto boots: 30

Wool or cashmere turtleneck: (I actually have these in several key neutrals, so divide my wears, but overall have worn 28 times since September). 

Oversized or extra fluid pullover: Again, I have several of these. The one that gets the most wear is not available in Finds. I got it last year -- it's in the photos. I don't show it often on the forum. Hectically oversized, it got mixed reviews when I debuted it here. But I knew I would wear it a lot, and boy, was I right. I wear this the way some people wear loungewear. It has had 36 wearsso far since September. 

Overall, the oversized/ extra fluid fit pullovers have been worn 67 times. 

Skinny jean: In this category, I have a lot. But, in my defence, I wear a lot. My CoH Racers alone have seen 25 wears so far since late September. Overall, my various pairs of skinny jeans have had 90 wears since late September. This is why one or two pair are really not enough for me. 

A warm shirt: Again, I have a couple. They've been worn about 20 times together. 

A cardigan: Another "loungewear" staple for at home. I have 3 oversized ones that together have seen 55 wears. 

Upscale trackpant: Mine again are "loungewear" and very useful. I never had a pair before but I enjoy them. They rarely get worn out, although they do fit well enough to be dressed up should the day require it. They've had 21 wears since October. 

Now. Ask me which of these pieces would be in my ASPIRATIONALwardrobe. That's a whole other question. 

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • jackiec replied 5 years ago

    Aha. Good point. But really, isn't the key here making the best of your real life. Listing the key pieces for your real life? And you've done exactly that. You've found fantastic, stylish,very "you" things that make the absolute most of your real life situation. I have to come back to Deb's thread. At first glance it made me smile too - wouldn't it be fun to stock my closet with an awesome blazer, amazing black dress, etc? But it wouldn't fit my lifestyle. I'm not sure if that's what my aspirational style would look like anyways. Nonetheless, you've reconciled your style with your lifestyle and it looks outstanding to me. What more do you aspire to? Inquiring minds.....waiting for part 3 ;)

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Jackie, good point -- my aspirational style wouldn't be exactly like Deb's either because that wouldn't work on my body type, face shape, etc. BUT...the point is, I think it would be as dressy as hers -- at least. And my real life just...well...isn't.   :( 

    I do feel good that I can look as good as I do under the actual circumstances and feel I've made a pretty good job of what is not exactly an ideal fashion situation (small city with next to no shopping and no good consignment/ thrifting; Canada -- so fewer online options; casual lifestyle; climate of extremes. Add to that I've only had money to spend on clothes for about 3 years and now that money is gone gone gone.) But at the same time, I'd like to step things up somehow at home and really struggle with a way to do that. 

  • Tanya replied 5 years ago

    My winter essential 8 would be almost the same as your Suz (substitute your track pants with skinny ponte pants and that is about it).  This makes sense, considering I live in a climate that has winter (although nothing like yours) and even though I work outside of the house, I lead a very casual lifestyle with casual dress code for work.  I dare say that almost anyone who spends winter in a cold climate and can dress casually would have it fairly similar. It is just dressing for you real life and being practical.
    I guess you could take this into two directions.  One would be trying to create cool outfits within these confines by investing in some amazing distinctive casual pieces, which would be various statement sweaters and perhaps skinnies.  The other would be leaving this as is and going for some special pieces that are worn out of the house, knowing that it would be much less often and then trying to create such occasions as much as possible.  For example, more often than not, in warm weather I tend to wear pretty fashion forward/somewhat dressy outfits to do grocery shopping or other mundane tasks.  That way I get some wear out of my nice skirts and casual dresses that are not appropriate for work.

  • texstyle replied 5 years ago

    Suz - your at home wear seems so nice already so I also struggle with suggestions on how to "step it up." You could decide to wear thick ponte pants or other washable warm pants instead of skinny jeans on a more regular basis. You could wear silk leggings under them if it's too cold on their own. I only suggest different pants because I know jeans may just feel more casual for you no matter what you pair them with. You already have cashmere sweaters so I'm not sure you can trump that except for maybe more dynamic cuts of sweaters - I saw an asymmetrical bottom  hem turtleneck I think online at Bloomingdales the other day and thought of you for example. 

    And not that you need to, but you could also do something more extreme with your hair, makeup and/or jewelry if you want more of an everyday kind of style change.

  • replied 5 years ago

    Suz, I feel exactly the same... My essential 8 wouldn't be very dressy at all :(

    (Will you join me for a commiserating virtual glass of wine?)

    But... you are right, you do an excellent job with your wardrobe as it is right now. I do get that you want a little 'more' though.

    I must say that you have some great pieces in your list :)

  • replied 5 years ago

    Suz, what I'm hearing is that you've tackled, wrestled to the ground, and now scored a well-planned, cohesive closet that works for your current lifestyle. You did it. You succeeded. And better than that, you did it so beautifully it looks effortless. Now, you are looking for a new challenge, or a new project.  You want to develop a new layer to your look - not just keep on adding more of the same. Amiright?    So the question is:  what is that new challenge going to be?Is it really a sartorial challenge though , or is it something more meaningful and "bigger" than that?  

    Or have I missed the boat entirely ?  Always possible - lol.   

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    One thing I feel good about, I should add, is the number of wears my core pieces are getting. I am certainly not neglecting them! 

    Tanya, Diane -- like you, I tend to "dress up" a bit for the smallest outings -- a visit to the dentist, a meeting with a friend. It does help. But today, for instance -- I am meeting a friend this afternoon. She lives a few blocks away. She enjoys wearing dresses, so if I show up dressed a little more formally, it certainly won't bother her. BUT...it is driving snow outside. And I am walking. And even though it is only a few blocks away...well. You get the picture. 

    Anyway -- thank you for your thoughts so far. Tanya, Tex -- I tend to think I might like to do a combination of the things you said. Look for slightly more dramatic at-home pieces, AND purchase a few statement items for outside the home wear, in the knowledge they may not get out much, but will make me happy when they do.  

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    No, Lisa, you are right! It is time for all kinds of creative projects to launch! :) 

    But in terms of the closet specifically, that is it -- I want to go beyond cohesive, practical, and suitable to a bit more dramatic. 

  • replied 5 years ago

    I get it :)  My at-home wardrobe is anything but cohesive, and I actually like it that way !  

  • replied 5 years ago

    That didn't makes sense, never mind :)  I know what I meant, but it didnt' quite translate.  

  • Meredith replied 5 years ago

    Suz, I'm enjoying this series of posts. So warmth stands out to me as essential to your essentials. Of the pieces you show which do you think would be easiest to replace with an equally warm but more dramatic version?

  • celia replied 5 years ago

    It is always a pleasure to read your insights about wardrobe.
    I am also wondering if the aspirational could be much more different than the real.I mean, although you would like to have a more dramatic flare your wardrobe and outfits are very good.
    Also Canada puts this constrains on people but most of them come from within. At the same building I work there is me that comes to work in sensible winter boots, mostly pants and down coat and some ladies that I see crossing the same parking lot with very high and very thin heeled boots, skirts and hose that are not more than 40Danier, and wool coats.

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    The heart of your style itch Suz is common - and we have covered it before - your lifestyle is not suited to your aspirational style. Working in an office in California would probably be ideal. (Away from home in a mild climate). And it would also be inauthentic for you to be impractical about your style. So that's no solution either. 

    I echo what Jackie and Lisa said. You've done extremely well given the constraints, and from what I've gathered - enjoyed your style and the journey up till now. But you are yearning for something different - so at least for the moment - no more of the same until we figure out what that is. 

    How distinctive do you want to be - and from whom do you want to look distinctively different? You've mentioned that you are already dressier than those around you (do correct me if I'm wrong about that). How much further do you want to challenge your environmental norm? Another thing to think about, Suz. 

  • Marilyn replied 5 years ago

    This list looks pretty much like my real life winter wardrobe.   Your moto boots are my chelseas, my upscale trackpant is a pair of Lululemon Straight to Class Pants in a black pinstripe.  All of MY items are being worn to death because they are warm, cozy and practical.  I'm in to interesting, modern jewellery so I wear a cool ring or pendant or whatever even if I'm hanging at home.

    I really don't know if there is a way to achieve your/my aspirational winter wardrobe while living in this climate.  If someone knows the secret I'd love to hear about it.  It will become much easier again as spring approaches and keeping warm and dry isn't the priority.  Perhaps winter is getting you down as it tends to do.  I've already had enough and we still have a couple months to go.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Really good points, Angie. You're absolutely right -- to act impractically wouldn't be authentic, so I need to do what actually works in my environment. 

    I think when I say "distinctive" I may mean that I want a clear signature style. Almost a uniform, perhaps. 

    It's not so much that I want to look different from others around me, as that I want to look uniquely myself. If that makes sense. 

    This might be even more important for the work-at-home capsule. I find it much easier to bring dynamism, distinctiveness, or at least a bit of drama to my "out of the house" looks. I also find it easier to wear the structured pieces that give my outfits the bit of "sharpness" I seem to like best. 

    As for challenging environmental norms, I'm okay with that. I tend to be dressier and far more modern classic than everyone around me. My friends either do not care about fashion at all, or have a rocker/ vintage or "arty" style. And that's okay. They do not judge! :) As for Mr. Suz, he is a bit of a preppy/ academic dresser himself, but he is open to lots of styles on me.

    Here is what I'm thinking now: The real challenge is not so much about environmental norms as it is finding pieces that are: 

    • Structured and comfortable/ practical for at home wear (much harder than it seems and one reason I wear a lot of jeans, I think.)
    • Dramatic without relying on avant garde draping or strong colour contrast for their impact (since neither is particularly flattering to me)
    • Dramatic but also practical.

    Anyway -- I agree. No more of "the same." I need to branch out from my "usual suspect" stores (at least the preppier ones, much as I love the look). Maybe Zara is this year's prime shopping destination. 

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Marilyn, I might have to turn to jewellery, which is something I am totally ignorant about and since it has never really been part of my style. But I'm not averse to trying a bit. 

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Oh, and Angie, you are so right about California and I have told Ms. Mary that I am coming to live with her.  :) 

  • Marilyn replied 5 years ago

    Suz.....My style is fairly minimal but a piece of funky jewellery is kind of my signature thing I guess.  I always get comments about my rings and such.  It's an easy way to add a bit of pizzazz to an otherwise basic look.  I look for things that are modern and unique.
    I buy most of my pieces on Etsy.  A favourite is Bluehour Designs.

  • Vildy replied 5 years ago

    What aspect of "dressy" would satisfy you?  I can't ever pick out my core items but I do strive for certain elements in my clothing that communicate what I want - even though I don't work outside the home, don't have that many places to go and purely hate weather. :D  One thing: having a car or a ride ups the game tremendously.

    An example for me is a pair of pants I probably got in a perpetual clothing swap I belong to. They are polyester, with elastic waist, if they don't have a stitched down front crease then they ought to have :D. They're from Blair or Haband. I don't shop there. Never owned anything from them before. Cannot imagine anyone having such a pair of pants on their wishlist. Yet, they fit me perfectly in a way that - not slouchy nor wide, not skinny - suggests my body.
    I feel sinuous in them and I have a travel knit top in the same shade of warm chocolate brown because I like a column of color. Not for slimming aspects, I just like the uninterruptedness, the emphaticness of it.  I want to feel sinuous in all my clothes. A touch feline.

    How do you want to make your way in the world?

  • UmmLila replied 5 years ago

    Maybe you just need the world's most glamorous puffer coat. And the pink streak in your hair to get you out of the doldrums.

  • rachylou replied 5 years ago

    It occurs to me, mulling your essentials list and my own, that I could come up with two essentials lists - functional essentials and style essentials... To protect me from the elements, I need: thermals top and bottom, sweaters, puffers, warm socks, head wear to keep my ears warm. These are my functional essentials that my style MUST accommodate.

    My style essentials, the things that I just like to wear a lot: jeggings, short boots, aprons, fit and flare sleeveless dresses, A-line skirts, plain wedges, sneakers, tunic-y tops.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Exactly, Rachylou. You understand perfectly. I am going to produce a list of my winter "style" essentials. I have to pop out now but will be back. 

  • Vicki replied 5 years ago

    I guess I should check in more often, because I'm attempting to fill in the blanks and must search nofollow and Deb's and Deborah's threads to help me. From what Jackiec said, I can see you've done your homework, Suz, and living in your carefully-chosen items with real zeal. Love the known count and this is something I've never done.

    Yes, I will await the aspirational chapter, as well, with great excitement.

    I like to dress up when I can, even if it's to do errands, because it makes me feel good. Yet, today, I'm simply going to a film and had a spontaneous breakfast by myself at a local bistro and I'm wearing medium-wash jeans, a brighter blue cashmere pullover layered over a white tee and my Sam Edelman boots over argyle socks. I also have a taupe and fuchsia scarf in case it gets cold in the theatre. This is my more casual look.

    You've raised so many interesting thoughts and perhaps you want to nudge the functional boundary into the aspirational one a wee bit. Yes?

  • AM replied 5 years ago

    Oh, Suz. I don't know you but I feel like I know you.

    Work from homer here too. Wardbrobe needs to function but desire for individuality (signature style, uniform) -- and to be out in the world with some subtle yet striking ensembles.

    And you're getting such smart feedback. And I'm soaking it in.

    I'm coming to the conclusion that it is all about finding those hard to find pieces. "dramatic and practical". Taking your essential list and really taking your time to find that right balance in every piece.

    The practical pieces: Identify them and ask yourself how to push the drama. 

    The statement pieces: Do the same.

    I'm finding that identifying the piece helps: Like a gorgeous menswear inspired gray blazer. A striking long/duster jacket. A dramatic black streamline poncho.

    So well put in finding "the most glamorous puffer coat."

    Following this with great anticipation -- feeling like we have much more in common than just our moto boots!

  • Jen W replied 5 years ago

    When I looked at the favorite outfits that you posted yesterday I noticed that your use of line is what creates energy and drama to my eye. The vertical lines in the tuxedo shirt, the horizontal lines in a few of your skirts, the diagonal lines created by a scarf and a few asymmetrical tops. All of these created a dynamic look without betraying your lifestyle. I'm not suggesting that stripes become your signature, because the way you've used line is much more nuanced and elegant. There is a crispness to the strong use of line though that may be transferable to your at home clothing. When I read your list today I notice the lack of crispness and a strong line, and wondered if perhaps that is what is missing from a winter wardrobe that is by necessity grounded in puffers and oversized pullovers. Denim has a crispness to it simply as a part of the integrity of the fabric. Perhaps there are other fabrications or silhouettes that could work as well for your tops and layers? I haven't found a knit button down that works for me yet, but I'm thinking something along those lines where the item combines cozy comfort with something more structured. However you resolve the dilemma, I'm excited to see what you come up with!

  • Gaylene replied 5 years ago

    I'm going to slightly disagree with RachyLou--something I never thought possible as long as the earth still rotated on its axis. ;)

    I think style and functional essentials shouldn't be separate because functional is what gets worn on a daily basis, while style stays in the closet waiting for the right conditions to happen.

    Reading your list sounds eerily familiar because what you've presented is a every-day, mostly at-home uniform that many of us default to during the winter months. It's easy to find the pieces in stores and online, it's practical, it comes in different colors and patterns so there is the illusion of variety, and, by the end of January, it is mind-numbing. At that point, we run to the shops only to end up with duplicate items in dubious colors from the sales rack to "refresh" our wardrobe. Or, in a fit, chop off our hair and dye it neon blue just to get rid of the doldrums. Sort of a modern day version of the "cabin fever" that led to men stripping off all their clothes and running off, naked, into the wicked cold of a Northern night just for a change of scene.

    I don't have a cure, but I did some thinking about why those doldrums haven't been as bad these past few winters and I think it's because I started de-constructing my essentials to come up with stylish re-inventions. De-constructed, a puffer is just a windproof outer shell with a down liner, so, when I saw a purple, down sweater/jacket with an asymmetrical zip last January, I figured that it could sub for a puffer if worn under a wool coat or windproof anorak. Much to my amazement that jacket became a real workhorse from February on into May because it added a structured element to an outfit and worked well as a casual indoor jacket or sweater. I think the key was the color and style put that piece in the fashion, instead of gear, category.


    This idea of de-constructing a functional piece and re-inventing it in a more fashionable form is really what designers do, isn't it? So why shouldn't we mere mortals be able to think of our turtleneck sweaters as neck wrappings, sleeves, and a body. Which, in turn, makes me wonder about that super cropped, off-white, funnel-necked sweater on the 80% markdown rack at Club Monaco. If I think of it as a neck wrapping and sleeves, and my EF tunic with the asymmetrical hem as the body, maybe I have a turtleneck alternative to wear around the house?

    I know this kind of thinking is probably second nature to most people on the forum, but for me it was a eye-opener.

  • replied 5 years ago

    Gaylene, you are amazing. Love it! I need to soak all this information in and apply it myself. Once again, Suz, one of your threads encourages us all to think out of the box and to analyse ourselves too. Great fun and very educational.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Gaylene, you have an excellent, excellent point. 

    I think until now I may not have been in the right position to do what you're suggesting. Because until now I didn't really know my needs. That sounds crazy, but it's true. Now that I do, it may be possible to analyze the elements and re-imagine the kinds of pieces I could use to fulfill the functions.  It still may take a fair bit of work to "reconstruct" -- but it's an interesting and perhaps viable path for me. Thank you!
    (Thanks, also, Diane, for being such a great companion in this work from home quest!).

    Jen, I think you're very much onto something as well. I've consciously tried to use line and the patterns I prefer all involve lines and angles.  I like the idea of a knit button down. I actually owned one a while ago and enjoyed it, but it wore out. I haven't found a good replacement.  I do think that I am missing some "crispness" or "sharpness" in the at -home looks. 

    AM -- you are likely right -- finding those key pieces is the struggle. Even if I had some idea of which designers or lines to focus on, that would help. I have tried for a more "arty" look -- but it's not me. I like it on others but it generally has too much going on, or relies too much on draping, which doesn't work with my body. 

    Vicki, your breakfast looks delicious!! And those booties and socks are adorable! Yum!!! 

  • texstyle replied 5 years ago

    Jen W and Gaylene - both of you had such great comments! Lots to learn from those type of insights.

  • E replied 5 years ago

    Suz, why couldn't you wear a dressier outfit to meet your friend and throw the puffer over top for the walk? You have those great La Canadiennes for a less clunky but still weatherproof winter boot option, yes? Or is there something else I'm missing? Other than footwear and coats and slimmer trouser legs on some days, the winter weather doesn't seem to require other formality compromises: lots of dressy clothes come in suiting wool, so you'd still have insulation. Aren't your beautiful blazers wool? And cashmere is a dressy fiber too!

    Of course I lean rate and towards the artsy end of the scale, so winter in this climate is easier for me to dress for. Feel free to disregard me. And I'm sending lots of sympathy your way!

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    E...in theory you are totally right. But in practice...in practice it's a different matter. 

    Wearing a blazer isn't all that comfortable or practical while at home -- doing dishes, cleaning up, scrunching on the couch. And even visiting my friend, I was...scrunching on the couch. Plus, my dressy Aquatalias are heeled, and it is snowing like mad out today. And very slippy and slushy. Just not a good day for heeled boots. I ended up wearing the puffer, the snowboots, hat, scarf, mitts, and my plaid skinnies, a white shirt, my blue cashmere sweater. It was practical, and looked nice enough -- the white shirt made it a step up from my usual. But still the basic silhouette was the same as ever. 

    It's not just a question of looking dressier. It's a question of wanting that bit of drama in the look. And this is hard to do. 

  • E replied 5 years ago

    That makes sense Suz! I agree that blazers aren't the best for at home wear; I imagined you were meeting your friend at a cafe. :) And I forgot your dressy boots have heels! Definitely not suitable for a snow day.

    I hope you figure out how to add more drama. That is tricky to do without veering into artsy. I remember you tried a couple avant garde looks, but that wasn't quite right either, correct? I love you sparkly asymmetric sweater tunic: is that the kind of drama you want? I imagine those pieces are elusive and pricier too.

  • rachylou replied 5 years ago

    What! Disagree with me, Gaylene?! Preposterous! :)

    No, I think you're right: a piece tends to sit in the closet if it can't meet the needs of both form and function. That, or the knees do a lot of whingeing about the cold. The two lists tho, for some reason, are distinct in my mind. It's as if I have to take an item and run it through one list and then the other.

    Before Uniqlo opened a store here, I had more categories of shirts on my shelves - thermals, tees, long sleeved tissue tees, tissue turtle necks, heavy turtlenecks... Their heattech stuff has also made the stuff I like to wear... actually everything... that much more wearable. My knees particularly thank heattech tights.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Rachy, I am really looking forward to Uniglo opening up in Canada!! 

    And this is just it -- form and function at once are not easy to meet. 

    E, thanks for commiserating, and the asymmetrical sweater is exactly the kind of thing I have in mind....sharp without being uncomfortable or overly "arty" for me. 

  • Caro in Oz replied 5 years ago

    Agreeing 100% with Gaylene (as usual). You need to find practical yet unusual pieces that express more of "you".

    I think you are right that until we know what we need/wear it's difficult to fork out the money for the unusual. As E said they are usually more elusive & pricier.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    That is why tracking actual wears this year has been really helpful, Caro -- thanks to you. 

    I see that a really unusual/ luxe puffer would not be a mistaken purchase. Snow boots are pretty much snow boots, but I clearly need some more "interesting" versions of my standards. I don't think I will purchase anything this year, but for next winter that is what I'll be looking for. 

  • Jeanie replied 5 years ago

    I feel the same way but feel that I need to change my job to one that gets me out of the house more because I want to be dressed and be with other people.  If you are happy with the work at home then I think there is the right designer out there for you it just may take some work.  Maybe someone who does some heavyweight jersey in dramatic modern cuts that would be crisp and soft enough.  I can't think of who that would be.  I often want to take the silhouette of a certain designer outfit and have it made in crisp heavy wash and wear jersey that could be worn around the house.  If not, you may have to design your own signature line!  Good luck on your new journey!

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Thanks, Jeanie. That may in fact be a solution, LOL. Find an office! :) 

    Some of EF's pieces would really work for me...IF they fit and if I could combine them with more structured pieces, a la Transcona Shannon.  For my at home capsule. But I'm often sized out. 

  • Deborah replied 5 years ago

    Suz I have been looking forward to this part 2!  I have skimmed through some responses but not all in detail yet.  I am not sure what the solution is for you but I can share that generally my lifestyle is not all that conducive to dressing up either, but I just do it lol. For example, I dress 'up' more than my colleagues and in fact I dress more professionally than my our CEO. Many people in our organisation wear jeans to work - it is very very casual.

    Some time ago I accepted that I prefer a more dressy aesthetic.  I would always prefer to be dressed up than dress down  Casual dressing has perhaps been my biggest challenge.  Significant realisations for me were that comfort was a priority as was the desire for my clothing to be able to go almost anywhere.  I think has been part of the catalyst for

    • my fabric selection (a lot of jersey & stretch fabrics)
    • solid colours
    • limited colour palette
    • structured items in knit fabrics

    So what this means for me is say I am working at home, I might wear my harem pants and a draped oversized top - I always wear makeup and accessorise.  If I go into the office, I can wear the same harem pants with a draped top semi tucked and a knit blazer and ankle boots.  Casual to dressy but still meeting my need to feel and look a certain way in both versions.  Does that make sense?

    I know your weather contributes to your wardrobe choices in a way ours doesn't, so I get that.

    I was going to suggest EF and not it has been mentioned above.  Metalicus works for me like EF seems to work for Shannon.  It is so versatile and dresses up and down so beautifully (without really looking dressed 'down').

    And for the record, I think you have dressing for your real life perfected.  I also think you know well what works for you and I would say that you have quite a strong signature style already.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Deborah, thank you for that thoughtful and detailed response. I have no problem being "dressier" than others but have much more problem with knits and drape -- they don't work for my body type even though they do work for my lifestyle. So that is my challenge. To find a way to combine the structure/ angularity/ sharpness/ crispness I require with the comfort I need. 

    I think I need a trip to Australia to visit Metalicus!! I have been saying this for quite some time...

  • Caro in Oz replied 5 years ago

    It's thanks to Mo I started tracking. The sharing here is another reason to love YLF - not that I need more reasons :) :)

    I've been thinking about your posts & how you can physically express your energy/essence more through your outfits. My thoughts so far are, colour for your winter clothes, I see you cocooned in a beautiful raspberry cashmere knit that is mid-thigh length & kept close to your body (to give it structure) with a soft navy or taupe belt. Slim pants & ugg type slippers for the house & long boots & puffer for outside. 

    I'd love to see more movement in your hair too - this could add some more of that dynamic quality. I'm not attached to these notions they are just ideas for you to play with :)

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    I'll add that the Sharpness that you are after in your outfits Suz, is created by the fabric, angular drape and structure. That's why things feel off when you go the avant-garde and arty route. 

    Take the pieces that you love: shirts, t-necks, crew-neck knitwear, jeans, booties, sandals, pencil skirts, puffers, long shorts, sweatshirts, fitted jackets - and find versions that look different to what you already have. 

  • Runcarla replied 5 years ago

    You are head and shoulders beyond where I am in my style quest, so I am enjoying your discovery threads...though some of it is hard for me to follow.

    My question to you, is how much do you consider your body in your style? Your aspirational style seems to be all angles and lines (defination rather than hardness if I understand correctly), but you have a curvy body to dress! Though not busty, you have an hourglass frame, and your legs are shapely with neat ankles and small knees.

    Your skinnies, and your skirts/tights/booties accentuate these figure qualities providing the gamine and the feminine, despite the urban Prince/tomboy. So, despite the 'edge' of asymetrical design, or other design elements, there is still a certain 'softness', without being super flowy or a total EF devotee!

    I wonder if the trend towards 'tailored' items that Angie mentioned in her blog post about spring trends, might provide you more of the definition you seek, since tailored items have more structure (and well thought out and fabricated ones can be comfortable.).

    FWIW, I see your style as sufficiently distinctive be be 'Suz', it is just that it is subtle, and doesn't shout out.

    As usual with these philosophical types of musings, it is sometimes hard to converse...

  • AM replied 5 years ago

    You (and all the fabbers) probably saw this but I thought this puffer was striking. Felt practical but "distinctive." And this overall look has some nice interest. Conceptually, could you provide some examples of what you feel is closer to your next style iteration?

  • Firecracker replied 5 years ago

    Suz, this discussion is very illuminating. It's really interesting to read everyone's thoughts on the challenge you've posed. I don't think I have any ideas. But I can commiserate, in a way: it's when I'm cold that I feel my least stylish. That's when I'm just trying to bundle up enough to stay comfortable, and not all of my cold-weather clothes offer much in the way of stylish remixing. So I am in awe of your winter style, which to me looks very put-together--your casual style included. I feel that I rely on footwear to put the fabulous feel into my outfits, and if I were choosing footwear to walk through snow, I would find it hard. I would want a snow-boot wardrobe, for sure.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    That IS a lovely puffer, AM. I haven't seen it. What is it? 

    Carla, yes, I do have some curves, it is true, and those combined with my smile, eyes, etc. do provide some softness or at least femininity quite naturally. I could wear the most boyish outfit in the world and I would still look like a girl. Also, I could never look truly RATE. 

    But actually, I am considering my body type quite a lot in these deliberations. My body type is the main reason I can't wear the arty drape. I am quite simply too angular for it, especially up top, but even below -- i don't have the hips to fill out the draping. Thighs, yes (more than enough there). But the clothes look wrong without the hip real estate. And my face shape is quite angular, too. So too much "roundness" fights with it. 

    I agree that the new tailoring will be my STYLE friend. Will it be my COMFORT friend remains to be seen! :)

    Angie, that's right -- it's "sharpness" I am after. That feels exactly right. That is why I get so annoyed when I have to wear scarves these days (almost always), and why I can never feel fab in an all knit outfit,  and why I like angles and stripes. 

    Caro, you are one step ahead of me as usual. I do have some thoughts about colour that I'll share tomorrow. In the meantime, I love the image of that raspberry cashmere!! 

    Also, can you explain what you mean by more movement in the hair? More texture? Longer? I hesitate to go much longer, to be honest -- it stops feeling like "me" and also becomes hard to manage. (Similar to Shannon's dilemma, i think.) 

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Sharan, thank you, and I think you are seriously onto something with the snow boot wardrobe, too. Next year I am going to add another style. 

  • Deborah replied 5 years ago

    Suz, thanks for responding and apologies for not reading everything fully.  I think I get it now.  More Drama (I love drama) and "To find a way to combine the structure/ angularity/ sharpness/ crispness I require with the comfort I need".

    What does drama look like to you?  Can you provide visual examples?  Is that element something you desire or is it part of your personality?

    I like Caro's suggestion.

    I am still thinking fabrics could be a big player in this for you.

    Another thought!  Does practicality in fact require you to go in a different direction?  Save the drama for your other capsules and embrace the opportunity for a more casual but luxe look when working at home?  I am thinking again of EF and even James Pearse.  Casual stylings but beautiful, extravagant fabrications. 

    Ok so just for fun, and even though I should be working!!  Suz's at home working wardrobe c/- Me and Metalicus (and Loft): BTW the items would be in your colours, these are the best I could find.

    • The Dress
      Metalicus Wrap Long Sleeve Dress.  For working at home wear alone with tights and the Ugg Cambridge boot.

    • The Pants
      Metalicus Port Pant.  Soft and drapey, Comfy for lounging around or working in your home office. 
    • The Long Cardigan
      Metalicus Pollock Long Sleeve Cardigan.  Delicious merino wool long cardigan in Cobblestone. Wear with your Port Pant and get set for some high drama as the cardigan drapes and flows as you walk... around the house.
    • The Shirt
      The White Knit Button Down shirt from Loft. Soft and fluid but still has that lovely fresh crisp look of a classic white shirt.
    • The Vest
      The Temple Long Vest in Mosaic Blue is a must for the work at home gal.  Wear over the your Port Pant and a soft yet crisp white shirt. Perfect relaxing fabulously while proofing copy in your home office.
    • The Skirt
      The fabulous Ziggy Skirt from Metalcus.  Fun monochrome pattern that makes a statement, even it you are the only one home to see it.

    Anyway Suz, forgive my pathetic attempts here at humour, and I have tried hard not to project my preferences.  I did think the sleeveless vest could be a great way to add structure to your work at home pieces.  Not so much the one I post in #5 but more along the lines of something tied or belted.  It's a jacket but it's not if you know what I mean and I often find a more tailored vest can really pull together an outfit of more relaxed pieces.


  • shevia replied 5 years ago

    That was a fascinating read first thing in the morning. So in my attempt to get the picture I am hearing that you want a more dramatic signature style - one that announces (without screaming) Suz style to everyone not just those of us that follow you closely here. Yet still make sense in the cold of winter. Yes, some experiments at Zara may be in order. And other distant stores with inventive designers. Speaking of places with warm climates and a lot of drama ;-)!

    ETA I like what Deborah just posted, although I am not sure I see all those pieces on you. I could definitely see a furry vest though! But I think I need to dig around my closet and post some pictures too!

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    I was JUST coming back to chime in about hair, and saw Caro's comment. (YLF has been offline all day - and it's still hectic. Greg has had to hook me up to his iPad's server - so I'm skimming the responses - all to unsuccessfully I might add). 

    YES. Movement. That means a little more length to create it. A little controlled messy polish. Hope that makes sense. 

    I'm also smiling at Deb's generous and very sweet effort to help out - and can see her in every one of those pieces. 

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Why yes, Jaime. I have a feeling my summer shopping is all going to happen in one great (and hopefully not TOO dramatic) place this year! :) 

    Deborah, those are brilliant ideas and I really love the pieces. If I knew the fabrications would be warm enough for our climate and would work I would be seriously tempted to try a few of those. Maybe I should peruse the Metalicus website. 

    I have actually been after a sleeveless vest for some time -- I tried several summer versions but they did not work out for me. (They were actually laughable -- this is the type of item it is hard for me to "fill out" unfortunately, unless it is quite tailored). I haven't found a winter one, either, but I am a huge fan of them and would really like to find the right one. 

    I also love the merino sweater and the angled long sleeve dress. 

    I will try to post some visuals of the drama or sharpness I am after tomorrow. I'm actually having a tough time finding images, believe it or not. But I do feel that I am getting closer and am convinced that I'm moving in the right direction. 

    Thank you all so much for your help. Off to look at Australian fashion!  :) 

  • AM replied 5 years ago

    Suz - It is vince shawl collar puffer coat. I haven't really been able to get it off my mind since I saw it.

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    And it was a top pick. 

  • Deborah replied 5 years ago

    Suz, you are gracious!  Just having some fun but did think some visuals might prompt you.  I find they help me a lot.  I could so see you in the wrap knit dress!! 

  • AM replied 5 years ago

    I have a newbie question. I've been seeing the term "modern classic" thrown around a bit on this forum - does this in any way describe the "distinctive" and "sharp" style that you are honing in on? 

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    AM, I'll let Angie explain what "modern classic" is -- she talks a bit about it here, as well as other places on the blog. Basically, it means updated classics in current cuts and fabrications. 

    The core of my style is modern classic, I'd say. And I doubt that will ever change. I think at this point I'm seeking to refine my style a bit more and create some "signature" looks that work for me practically as well as in terms of style. I'll still be modern classic at my core (for all I know, that will be even more obvious!)  but the look will be even more distilled, if that makes sense.

    Angie, that coat was a top pick? Well then. I am going back to take a look at it! It probably wasn't on my radar earlier because I wasn't looking for a puffer. But I may not have permitted myself to look since Vince is costly and probably not the best puffer for a Canadian. (What do they know of puffers in California -- Rachylou notwithstanding?!) 

  • Beth Ann replied 5 years ago

    Having trouble with the site today -- so I'm really late to the party.

    I'm so excited to see what comes of all of this fancy cogitating!  I find myself often feeling the same way:  My aspirational style is dramatic and dressy, but I'm in an environment that is quite subdued, casual, and conservative.  Curiously, my body provides challenges that are almost polar opposites to yours.

    II like the idea of Zara for you, and maybe Cos for inspiration, at least.  I also think that fabrication is huge when it comes to comfort, practicality and sharpness.  A fabulous Ponte di Roma in a jacket with more dramatic, less preppy, styling would be a fabulous addition.  Jerseys that are just a tad heavier would "fall" on your body, rather than "drape it.  At home, color and texture can bring a lot of drama to the party.

  • Caro in Oz replied 5 years ago

    Controlled, messy, polish as Angie said. I had a quick look for a photo but nothing yet - I'll have more of a look later.

  • Caro in Oz replied 5 years ago

    My fantasy haircut for you is not matched by the reality of the world wide web - darn. This is as close as I could get. I think it could be fantastic -  you could play with sleek or messy depending on the occasion & your mood :)

    Just an aside, why does nearly every haircut for light coloured, short hair involve having hair in your eyes? It's okay, it's a rhetorical question........

  • Staysfit replied 5 years ago

    Wow Suz! I go out of town for a few days and I miss so much! Well, I don't see dissonance between what you wear at home and the rest of your wardrobe unless you are feeling unhappy with it? (I didn't read everyone else's responses yet, I'm rushing around this morning). I suppose you could update your puffer and get one that is completely in line with your style. They have so many great options available that it's easy to be warm and practical at the same time. The same goes for your oversized cardigans, etc. However, you live in a cold, snowy, location. That doesn't change, so your wardrobe has to adapt.

    Oh, I meant to say that from what I have seen, you do a lot of work from home, so having different capsules within your wardrobe that represent slightly different aspects of your style seems to make sense. To me this doesn't seem dissonant, it seems practical, and a way to be comfortable while working, etc.

  • shipskitty replied 5 years ago

    Wow...I dipped in and out a bit during my day but there was a lot to catch up on there. This has been a fascinating thread Suz. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

    So if I understand correctly the distillation of all that is that Suz will probably be seeking to add more drama to her outfits in the coming year:

    •  by seeking out more interesting statement versions of her favourite types of clothing items
    • by seeking out new ways to 'reconstruct' those clothing items from different components.

    Plus there was some discussion of experimenting with accessories and a slight mod to the 'do...

  • kkards replied 5 years ago

    i've had a busy couple of days, so i haven't had time to read thru part 2 until this morning, and i'm going to have to go back and read more in detail. but i just wanted to say that i would think that many of us have a wardrobe that fits our style but doesn't fit our aspirational style. real life has a way of intruding. it   always struck me that the best way to change this is to figure out how to get my aspirational life, (but i think that's an off topic post) 

  • Destri replied 5 years ago

    Suz, I'm reading this thread with interest.  I can completely identify with your issue (if I am interpreting it correctly).  It seems similar to my #1 issue which is: what can I put on that is a step up from my cute (Angie inspired) lounge capsule (American Eagle hoodie and sweatpants or flannels) that is comfortable and warm and practical for working at home or errands?

    In this situation, I am not going to put on jewelry.  I'll only where shoes if going out of the house.  I don't like wearing scarves to add interest to the outfit--I have bunches of scarves but am tiring of them and they seem too fussy to wear at home.  But, I run cold and need coverage (not necessarily a turtleneck but at least crew neck height).  I don't want air hitting my ankles (so the cute look of boyfriends rolled up showing a bit of skin at the ankle is out!  I'm also not likely going to put on a crisp blouse/button down. 

    So, what, what, what might add interest and maybe the word is complexity (?) to this comfy at home capsule?  One thing that has helped me a bit is to try to achieve a bit of unmatchy or unexpected.  For example, mixing patterns like wearing my plaid flannel shirts over striped tees.  Another option is that I just purchased an Athleta solstice tee dress (with lots of draping) to wear with sweater tights and casual toppers.  Another "go to" outfit for this situation is that I wear several of the Cudl Dud hoodies that Angie featured last winter that are heavenly against the skin (and majorly warm with jeans, ponte pants or even my black ponte skirt with various causual toppers (jean jacket, cardis or even Angie inspired blazer).  I wish I had more tunic sweaters to wear over leggings because this look works for me as well.

    So to summarize . . . unmatchy and unexpected might be a direction to explore and continuing to explore different silhouettes might be another (which I know that you have been doing).  Easier said than done though, I know!

    Good luck, I will stay tuned!

  • Windchime replied 5 years ago

    I've read your first two posts on this subject with much interest, Suz, because I think you have a wonderful sense of your style. I have read some but not all of the replies so may be repeating what others have said....someone mentioned that it makes all kinds of sense for you to invest in fab renditions of your essentials, such as your puffer coat. I thought immediately of the wonderful mixed media coat you bought for this season, and how much pleasure it gives you every time you wear it-- and us, every time you post it! That seems a perfect example of making the ordinary extraordinary.

    A friend and I walk outdoors several times a week, so sturdy, waterproof, warm snowboots are a necessity for me. Until now, I just bought utilitarian boots which met the four criteria above. This year for the first time, I added the word "fun" to the list and bought silvery-grey boots which make I enjoy every time I put them on. I will keep this experience in mind as it comes time to replace other of my essentials.

  • approprio replied 5 years ago

    Late to this thread. I'm not sure if I've read correctly that a large part of this is about dressing nicely when you're under several inches of snow for several months of the year. 

    If that's the case then I guess to some extent I feel your pain. Our climate is somewhat kinder but our weather is still horrible, so dressing for it is a reality for me too.

    I think cold weather is something contemporary fashion does really badly, because solutions seem to have defaulted to derivations of performance wear and ski gear, and the mainstream got stuck somewhere with down jackets and snow boots. Nature's solutions to this are still the best, but it's very hard to buy a good thick wool coat these days and it's considered unethical to wear fur.

    I've been embracing the frump and layering up. Fleeces and down vests under men's coats and thick tights or leggings under skirts. And I really don't think you can beat a fine cashmere or merino base layer topped with a classic thick, woolly jumper. The Scots and the Scandinavians still make the best ones. 

  • Karie replied 5 years ago

    Ok, admittedly I didn't get very far in reading the comments (those pesky students will be knocking at my door with their books again soon!) so just a few observations for now -

    You want a signature style and a uniform? Huh? Suz, you are not boring and that sounds boring. You are someone that I've always seen as having fun with fashion.

    I think real vs. aspirational fashion is very difficult to do this time of year. We HAVE to dress for the real deal because of our wildly cold and snowy climate.

    Lunch is over and I'll be back later! (So would teaching the kiddos how to read by using the threads on YLF be wildly inappropriate?)  

  • unfrumped replied 5 years ago

    Hmm, this is a great thread!
    Agree that at some point you both separate function from style, but get back to, your style includes a lot of function because of who you are and what you do with your time.

  • Lisa replied 5 years ago

    An interesting thread.  I adore what is stereotypical American interpretation of French/Parisian style (basic colors, simple style, flat footwear, scarves, etc).  But it's taken me forever to realize that some elements of this style do not work for my lifestyle (dress, skirts, who am I kidding I'm a jeans gal through and through).  I realized what attracted me so much to the aspirational style, was the ease of dressing that is portrayed within the label of French style.  And that I can translate into my real life style.  Perhaps the same will work for you?  Maybe an element of your aspirational style CAN fit into your real life style?

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