Help me choose a few summer statements/ wild cards/ refreshers

Hello, partners in style! Thanks for all your help with the casual sandals last week. I don’t know which pair I will keep but I think I have two good options on their way to me. Yay!

(This has become a long missive, so if you want to cut to the chase, my request is at the bottom. Thanks!) 

Did I mention that apart from some long underwear and a pair of grey skimmer jeans on super sale -- and my ill fated butt-vest -- I did not shop at all between November and mid-March? Well, it's the truth. 

When I finally broke my shopping fast it was to purchase footwear for Israel, and then a pair of booties in Israel as my souvenir of the trip. (Thank you, Shevia!)

Now it’s time to consider the summer closet more seriously. I finally did the great closet switch out on the weekend, so I have a better idea of what I’m working with. And not.

On the positive side: I did so much shopping last year that my essentials are in pretty great shape. I mostly just need some updates and refreshers.  You can see most of last year's (extensive) summer purchases in this collection.  And this one.  Of course I have a few more items in my closet including bags, denim jackets, etc.  

On the negative side, my budget this year is more limited. And I am looking to add that “oomph” factor — a bit of originality. I don’t want to say “edge” since I think “edge” is probably the wrong word for what I aspire to. At any rate, I don’t want hard edge.

Texstyle commented the other day that Angie's graphic tee post was a lightbulb post for her, giving her permission to dress for her real life. 

It was a lightbulb post for me, also -- partly for that reason, but also for another. For me, it highlighted the concept of juxtaposition in a useful way. I suspect that this is what I am really trying to create in more of my outfits. 

In my fantasy life, I'd like to dress a bit dressier overall. But the reality of my lifestyle is largely casual. The easiest way to finesse this and to add a bit of "cool" factor is to juxtapose. Combinations that work super well for me:

  • Jeans with a silky shirt and jacket and sharp footwear.
  • Casual skirt or dress with a denim jacket and great footwear.

These are my FFB favourites. But they're not that practical for high summer in my climate. 

How can I inject more of that into high summer looks? Maybe with a bit of jewellery? I am a bit more open to this now that I am wearing specs less often. In fact, Mr. Suz just bought me a gorgeous necklace for our 25th anniversary. (I'll try to snap some pics soon). 

In terms of summer shopping so far, I've ordered some tee shirts. These are replacements/ upgrades. 

I am not much of a tee shirt woman as a rule. Generally I like a top with a bit more structure. But I have truly enjoyed the linen versions from J. Crew in the past few years. I am still lamenting my destroyed Hummingbird tee” — in fact, I’m still wearing it even though it has been dyed lilac, but I don’t like it as well. (Should I order it from Ebay where I found it? About the same price as I paid originally for it. But a size up.)

There is a good chance I will be spending two weeks this summer in an exceptionally hot climate in a very casual environment. This is why I think a few new tees will not go amiss. I also like a boat, envelope, crew,  jewel or high vee neckline and enjoy the opportunity to wear it in the warmer months. (In winter I am covered by turtlenecks and scarves all the time for practicality and flattery). The more open neckline changes proportions a bit and that is fun for me. 

I also added a Zara backpack. I gave my black one to my stepdaughter at Christmas. Then, after hunting for months for a similar leather one, I came up empty handed -- and realized how much I missed the one I'd had. So I ordered the navy. I actually like its texture much better than the black, so it's win/win. 

Phew! This got very long. My apologies. 

My request: 

Show me some great "statement" type items or "so 2015 items" that won't break the bank and could work with my style, climate, and wardrobe to refresh and upgrade my summer style. 

Some ideas: 

Casual skirt or dress


Interesting lightweight topper (because toppers don't get much wear in high summer here)

Footwear (I am almost set but could add one pair) 

Thank you so much in advance for your ideas! 

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.


  • donnat replied 5 years ago

    I will be watching this post closely.

  • jackiec replied 5 years ago

    Hi Suz,

    I can't believe you didn't shop all winter!?! I knew that was the plan, but how great that it happened. I will be watching this closely. My summer tops are few and far between, and I'm on the hunt for soft and softly coloured.

    I don't have any revelations or finds for you at this time. I'll pop back if I see something. I'm sure there will be lots of great advice.

    I also had a lightbulb moment with Texstyle's post but I think I missed replying. It's been hectic around here so I've missed a lot on the forum.

    Great missive, btw. Great analysis and plan moving forward ;)

  • torontogirl replied 5 years ago

    Hi Suz, I don't have any great suggestions as I am the last person to catch on to a trend ;) however will watch with interest ... you always look great, so I'm sure whatever you land on will be fab!

  • Inge replied 5 years ago

    Fun! And isn't it brilliant that you can start from a closet that is already in excellent shape.
    I'm having fun looking around for you, so apologies beforehand if I start an avalanche of Finds...
    You could probably guess that I would start the search on the Massimo Dutti site:-)

  • texstyle replied 5 years ago

    Hey Suz - I ordered a sleeveless version of the jcrew metallic tee  design in white with navy/metallic accents and I really do like it a lot. It's a bit dressier (for me) than a regular tee and it worked in my normal size (not sized up).

  • Rambling Ann replied 5 years ago

    Vests? I tried to find the lightest weight ones out there. The Paper Crane one is if you want to let your inner boho child out for a music festival. The EF one isn't inexpensive, just for inspiration.

  • Rambling Ann replied 5 years ago

    And I love the safari vest that Inge picked (for me too, but I'm done shopping for now). 

  • texstyle replied 5 years ago

    I tried the KUT linen vest - it fit me larger than I expected. I considered ordering a smaller size but I just wasn't completely sure and the side pockets do stick out quite a lot.

  • Inge replied 5 years ago

    Round 2 :-)

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    Suz, just so that I understand correctly, the t-shirts you want to get are essentials - not statement pieces. Is that right? 

    (I'm not sure the tees are the way to go when your budget is limited. They lack the oomph you're looking for - especially without a topper). 

    I believe you need to find tops that are more dramatic and can be worn on their own. A lot of Inge's suggestions are on the right track. 

  • Elizabeth P replied 5 years ago

    Inge's having fun :)

    I look for such different necklines than you do Suz, I haven't really noticed anything that would be good for you,but I'll certainly start keeping my eyes open.  I love that J. Crew tropical frond tee. 

    I think a vest is a great idea for a summer topper... they add a bit of warmth, but will give you that third piece.  Have you considered a denim one?  Given both your favourite combos contained denim? 

    If you think the sized up hummingbird tee will fit you, get it.  That is such an awesome top for you, and you obviously miss it. 

    I also think a couple of patterned tees would be a great idea - esp given how unexpectedly useful the Banff one turned out to be for you. 

  • Elle replied 5 years ago

    I think that shoes and bags can make the biggest difference to a wardrobe.  For you, I think an additional pair of bright shoes or sandals would give you the biggest bang for your buck (maybe the bright pink ones you showed in a previous post).   While jewelry can really amp up your look, it's awfully hard to wear in hot weather (although maybe you spend a lot of times in A/C).

  • Inge replied 5 years ago

    LOL @ Elizabeth :-))

    Oh, before I forget, we've been rounding up Summer dresses in natural fibres on Dee's thread, so maybe that's worth a look too:

    and round 3.

  • texstyle replied 5 years ago

    Angie - I think the jcrew metallic tee is somewhat statement worthy for a tee.  The other plain linen tees do seem more essential, though I love the idea of the trapeze one for hot summer days.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Thanks so much, everyone! Inge, I am having a collection-fest!  :) THANK YOU!! Those look like wonderful items. I'm in love with a lot of them. The Massimo Duttis in particular.

    I actually have some credit at Loft and Ann Taylor, too! But it can be difficult for me to shop from there because they're only in Toronto and ordering online from them is prohibitively expensive -- and they carry so few of the online items in our small stores. But I might get lucky. I could also call the stores -- they will ship from store for a small cost if they have the item. 

    Angie, the tees are essentials and replacement/ upgrade items. They are needed for high summer and especially for my possible trip to a hot hot climate in July. I didn't intend them as the "statement" items I'm also looking for. They are just to show what I have already ordered. 

    Elle, you are so right about jewellery being hard to wear in heat. And I don't have air conditioning. Good point. I also like the idea of a bright shoe or sandal. It is a missing element. I have a dark neutral sandal, a light neutral heeled sandal, a light neutral casual sandal, and a pair of black and white ankle strap shoes. But no bright. 

    I LOVE the idea of a vest. I actually ordered a long gilet from Zara but I sent it back. It's absolutely gorgeous and looked good on me (or would, with an alteration in the length to make it proportional) but the weight is not practical for my climate. Too warm for summer (without air con) and not warm enough for other seasons. I will still consider it if any are left at sale prices later but for now must conserve resources. It would only have a month to 6 week wear window in my life but I would love it for those weeks. Sometimes it's worth a splurge on something like that. 

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    AH. Now I understand. Makes sense, Suz. 

  • tulle replied 5 years ago

    Suz, Textstyle's post about graphic tees got me thinking, too. I'm still hunting for the perfect black & white photo-print t-shirt, but at Gap I found a 100% cotton crew-neck short-sleeved tee that will do well in the meantime. The front is a soft print suggesting a landscape at dawn:  pale pink, blue-gray, and pure gray, but the sleeves & neckband are white, giving it a more structured look than the usual crewneck tee.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find a picture online--I bought it in the store to wear with my gray Gap Resolution jeans, and I love the combo.  Also bought a cream and gray brush-striped Amadi cotton gauze top (maybe from Outnet? Sorry, I can't remember!) that is the airiest, coolest thing ever.  I do think that  graphics make more sense than jewelry in the hottest weather, when the touch of any weight on my skin drives me mad.  Oh--also snapped up 2 striped tees at Ann Taylor, one pale pink, one aquamarine, cut like a baby's undershirt, with little metal buttons on both shoulders--very pretty, and petite-sized!  Good luck on your hunt.

  • replied 5 years ago

    Just wanted to chime in and say I'm following with interest.....

  • Greyscale replied 5 years ago

    What about sleeveless button-down shirts? They are a really key piece for me. I have a lot in silk, but cotton poplin would also work well for warmer weather. Not statement pieces, but I like their crispness compared to T-shirts.

    Do you have a banana republic nearby? I have been impressed by their recent collections although much of it leans a bit more hard edge then you want.

  • replied 5 years ago

    I'm not sure what you can get in Canada, but  I have this skirt and love it:

    I haven't decided if I'm going to wear it with this year's floral tee or not from Eddie Bauer, but I have one from a few years ago that looks nice (I only like these tees in white):

    I have this skirt from a few years back, but am having a hard time with the length...I think I might need a petite:

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    This is my item short list for YOU:

    • Floral cropped pants
    • Boho-LITE tops
    • Vest
    • Culottes
    • Cocoon dress
  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    I do too many things at once. *sigh*. Fixed my typo. 

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Fabulous, Angie - thank you!

    I am totally on board with floral crops if I can find a pair I like. It will have to be a lightweight fabric. 

    I had already collected these culottes from Zara to try. (In Finds)

    Not sure about a Boho lite top. That blue print tee from J. Crew might be as boho as I can go. Silk is good, though....

    Vest -- definitely on the hunt for the right one. 

    Cocoon dress. Interesting. I have not seen examples....I like the concept. I also really like that Massimo Dutti dress that Inge linked to. 

    Mtgirl, thank you for those links! 
    Greyscale -- I can order online from BR and return if it doesn't work. I do like a lot of their recent stuff. I have only ordered a tee so far but might go further...

    Tulle, love the sounds of your GAP tee -- I like what you say about the white framing adding structure. What a smart observation. I agree with you on that. 

    Also, look at these tops I found at Aritzia. They might have some potential...

  • Elizabeth P replied 5 years ago

    Aritzia is coming to the Halifax Shopping Center this summer :) :) :)

  • carter replied 5 years ago

    Some great options so far! If I were shopping for you, you would be getting the first two finds below for sure. The 3rd find may be a bit outside your comfort zone, but I think the color would be beautiful on you. They're 40% off right now. No idea if The Limited ships to and/or is in Canada, but if not, I'm happy to help.

  • texstyle replied 5 years ago

    I have the shorts in that navy with marble print from the Gap that Inge posted the dress and henly top above. The fabric is very nice - has a good drape and the shorts are very comfortable. I bought them for lounge wear but would wear them out.

    Suz - I understand your hesitation on boho styled items. I have a few and  though I do wear them, for some reason I am usually leaning away from them.  Maybe it's because they are on trend and I am always late to the trends. Ha!  I do wear the two in my Finds quite a lot.

    Looking at all the vests, with so many having a safari or utility vibe, and most of them definitely over sized,  I'm second guessing my opinion on the KUT linen vest. I haven't returned it yet. If I get time later this week maybe I'll try to post a pic. For me, linen is the only fabric that I could tolerate in a summer vest.

    Oh, and I love the sleeveless silk blouses from Everlane if you're interested in that style.

  • Thistle replied 5 years ago

    Culottes. I just bought a pair for myself, and they are surprisingly comfortable and easy in the heat. Can be dressed up or dressed down, and would fit into your urban prince wardrobe.

  • Gaylene replied 5 years ago

    Suz, My suggestion would be to take a look at Club Monaco's site. I really liked the look of a lot of their items when I stopped by their store a few weeks ago. The see-through foil sweater came home with me and has had a lot of wear since then because it is so light and breezy to pull on over a cami, tank, or T. It adds the interest of a third-layer without adding any warmth.

    I could have done serious damage to my credit card that day because I loved the fabrics and the soft structure of so many of the styles. The culottes were really nice because the drape was super flattering on my IT/rectangle shape. The Finds feature doesn't work on the Canadian site and some of these pieces are gone from the U.S. site, so I've just attached a few pictures to give you some idea of what attracted me.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    OOH, Gaylene, those are great. I often forget about Club Monaco. Thank you! I really love the foil sweater. Off to check the site. 

  • Marilyn replied 5 years ago

    I second Club Monaco.  It's my go to place for interesting pieces.  My current wish list is ridiculous.

  • unfrumped replied 5 years ago

    I thought you looked really good in the "long shorts" awhile back, so you might want to try the culotte thing. Maybe yours would be just below knee and not the long ones, and maybe a straighter style, so not too voluminous. I think you could rock a sort of cropped top with it--just at high hip. That style is often available in more structured fabrics. Or, use a drapey T with semi-tuck or full tuck. And you could use a graphic T with dressier footwear, or more dressy top with sneakers.

    I like the look of interesting jewelry with dressy T's.  The "statement" necklaces overwhelm me and I don't like huge collar ones, or bling, so I tend to look for artisanal or ethnic items, interesting pendant, stones, shells, that sort of thing.  Would you do a T and a funky wristwatch or cuff? Bracelets slide around and annoy me but I would wear a colored or chunky watch still, and that is a way to add something to short-sleeved or sleeveless looks.

    Also, some kinds of linen-blend pants instead of jeans, that you can roll. Or rayon-blend joggers, if they are not "out" already. I still like the gray linen pants from BR I copied from Sveta last year and they will be my main summer not-BF jean casual pants.

    Lastly, summer is actually more vest-friendly than winter, because they aren't warm enough for winter. Is there a kind of vest-over-T look that works for you? Would it be denim, or utility vest, or more avant-garde?

    I'm hearing a kind of sporty-luxe look in the combinations of casual, but juxtaposed, hot-weather items.

  • Style Fan replied 5 years ago

    I was very impressed with Banana Republic when I was in Toronto last week.  There were lots of pieces I would have bought if I needed more clothes.  I don't think I have ever bought anything from BR before.  Well once a cashmere sweater that pilled so badly after one wear I got rid of it.  Lots of cropped tops and jackets.  Also some nice pants.

    I think a vest would be great for our climate.  I  am searching for one myself but have not found one.  Denim would be too hot come July. 

  • Caro in Oz replied 5 years ago

    Cullottes, great shoes & a cuff are my suggestions - oh & something on top too :) :)

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Ha, ha, Caro! That's hilarious.... 

    I like the idea of a new cuff. I do have a couple and wear them constantly. One silver, one multicoloured. 

    Style Fan, I agree -- a denim vest would be good for now and for June but in July gets too warm. A linen one is probably the best bet. 

    unfrumped, thank you -- I do want to try some culottes. I already own the linen pants that I can roll. Love them. 

  • Cococat replied 5 years ago

    There are some amazing suggestions in the pics! (I have no idea how to post pics from online sites myself...ugh, will have to do some investigating).

    I love the idea of jewelry to dress things up or change the look of an outfit... even a simple tee. Jewelry is always an important consideration for me and it doesn't need to be expensive. In fact, some of my fave pieces cost just a few dollars.

  • shevia replied 5 years ago

    Squee, so fun and so many great suggestions already. I think you should try the striped Zara culottes, they pack a punch. (I saw them in the store but didn't try them on as I am trying to practice culotte restraint.) Apart from that I generally like shoes (duh) and bags for most impact in one piece, because you can wear them more often. Apart from the new backpack, maybe a bag. I am also eyeballing big earrings a lot lately. Let's see the anniversary necklace! (And Happy Anniversary!)

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Thanks, Shevia! I'm going to order those culottes to try them. 

    I was wondering about the big earrings from the blogger that Inge featured. Viva got a pair. I'm strongly considering those as well. 

  • Sveta replied 5 years ago

    No time to read all and provide some help now (I am away on business and SUPPOSED to be working right now :-( ) but I will be watching this with much interest. My summer wardrobe is in much worse state than he winter and I need all help I can get! :-)
    This one top from BR is not a wild card and not a game changer but it is silk and it is YOUR color so maybe worth checking out? I have not seen this color in the store but I tried on the green one and it is very nice. I may be stalking both of them if they go on sale!

  • Beth Ann replied 5 years ago

    I understand how important the style refresher is to the wardrobe.  I've also learned that it can be important to wait for just the right options.  Because of budget, time, and sizing constraints, I feel I have a lot of good, but not great, items in my closet right now.  On the plus side, they all work together to create a sum that's a bit greater than the parts.

    I love the Massimo Dutti links, and the culottes you've ordered are perfect for looks that are casual, but special.  Can't wait to see them!

    As for tees, may I suggest looking at sources meant for, um, more mature ladies?  Chicos, Talbots, Lands End, etc.  I find the knits are a bit heavier, with reasonable amounts of stretch and more real cotton.  I have a couple of 3/4 length sleeve boatnecks I purchased from Kohls in this category.  Their cut is structured in the shoulder, but a bit boxy in the torso --- unintentionally, this combo creates a modern silhouette on me that doesn't cling in the heat.  "Newer" knits with massive amounts of stretch aren't actually "cooler" in the end.  For your possible trip, I'd also consider linen tees.

    I'm not shopping much as the moment, but I'll keep my eyes open!

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