Mistakes Were Made (I Think): Help!

Apparently, I am a slow learner.

In the flush of my new decision to try out items that seem more "avant-garde" (and without a very clearly defined idea of exactly what I mean by that) I did something very dumb.

I went shopping.

Oh - and I hadn't been shopping for ages. And things were on SALE. And I have sale-buying itch, which I usually try to scratch with thrift or consignment shopping (figuring that my mistakes or risks cost me less overall that way, it satisfies the itch -- and sometimes I come out with a real winner.)

Oh boy.

Let's just say that I HOPE this can be a positive learning experience.

I bought two items. The good news is that this "experiment" (if I can dignify it with that name) did not cost me TOO much. And I can always consign the items right away if necessary...or use them on my upcoming trip to China. At least they will not wrinkle.

The damage:

Item #1 - Made in Paris, no less! Ooo la la! And of a very wicking fabric so great for travel - can be washed in zee sink, Madame, and will dry overnight! Can also be layered with a top under and/or leggings.

Husband says: "That makes you look pregnant. I don't like that one."
Daughter says: "That dress is weird. So what if it has pockets if it looks weird on you?"
Mother says: "That dress makes you look fat."

Item #2 Made of a lovely drapey jersey. Great colour. I am influenced by both of these factors, and the saleswoman's decision to knock down the already half-price item by an additional $30.

Daughter says: "What IS it??"

Mother and husband have not seen it. Because I feel so downright weird in it I can't imagine wearing it, inside or out!

So. This is the thing. Much as I was hankering after "avant-garde" drape and shape, when I actually have it, I feel OFF in a major way. Not like myself.

Is it a question of simply needing to push a bit at my style boundaries? Or am I right that this type of item just really isn't "me" in some important way -- doesn't express what I want, or even if it does, doesn't work for me, personally?

I keep feeling as if I need some crisp lines, some angles. After trying these on, I have a great hankering for tailored, fitted jackets. I tried on two at Zara yesterday that I quite liked. You can see them here: http://www.zara.com/webapp/wcs.....TAL%20CORD

and here: http://www.zara.com/webapp/wcs.....D%20BLAZER

I loved the back detail on both and the black one was shot through with gold that sort of picked up my hair and a teal and copper thread as well. But I did not buy, because I felt guilty about wanting more jackets. I already have a lot of nice jackets....and anyway. I can't wear jackets all the time.

Help me, YLF friends. If THIS is not the way for me to go about it (and I am pretty convinced it is not) how CAN I add...I won't say "edge" because Angie is tutoring us on the proper use of that word....but perhaps I will say an "urban attitude" to my style...short of dressing ALL in black and charcoal grey, I mean.

Is a suit the way to go? What next?

And should these items go into the consignment bag or out the door to some YLF friends?

BONUS: two new pairs of shoes that I think were a greater success. Clark's sandals - SUPER comfy (I walked about ten miles carrying heavy bags in them yesterday) and simple black flats that actually stay on and were also on sale).

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74 Comments

  • replied 8 years ago

    I like the dress in 1!

    2 though makes me think you could use the sling part to pick apples or something :)

  • DeclawedJaguar replied 8 years ago

    Call me crazy, Suz, but I love both of those dresses on you. The neckline on the black one is very flattering, and the draping in the front looks intentional, not fattening. The blue one is very fun and flattering, in both fit and color. I really hope you'll warm up to them yourself!

    ETA: You will never look pregnant or fat, whatever you wear. Sometimes family members' opinions can be clouded by their own tastes and preferences, and are not to be taken at face value.

  • Diana replied 8 years ago

    Um, I would wear both of these. I think the draping is really flattering and interesting. The only thing I'm not crazy about is how the blue one looks a bit shiny - not sure if that's just the photo though. I do agree that it would be great to pair them with something more structured and architectural. A jacket, or maybe some edgy shoes.

  • morethanbeige replied 8 years ago

    I actually really like both of these, Suz. They are a stretch from your usual style and interesting. Love the blue color of the second one. They read fun and unusual to me.

  • Transcona Shannon replied 8 years ago

    I've now read your post three times and looked at the pictures over and over again. Yes, these are both different than your more crisp and classic pieces/outfits, and I know how much you love your jackets (hey...I'm on team blazer too!). I suspect that different "feel" against your body is part of what's throwing you off. There's nothing crisp or close fitting so it feels different. And your family is also used to seeing you in a particular style so may be slightly confused by this difference.

    That having been said, I actually TRULY love both of these on you! I think both are interesting, flattering (just not in the way most people think of) and appear comfortable. Both of these could work for you quite well. I'm unsure of what would be considered avant-garde so will have to leave that to others.

    I guess two questions are: 1) will you wear these? 2) will you feel comfortable wearing these?

  • cinnamon fern replied 8 years ago

    The black dress looks great to me. I can't see what your husband, daughter, and mother think is so weird about it - in the photo it looks like a basic black jersey dress with a bit of draping at the front of the skirt. If you decide to get rid of it, send it to me!

    I am not loving the blue dress for you. I think of you as wearing simpler/more clean lined clothes than this. My impression was that you were looking for avant-garde but also sleek and effortless - this does not look sleek or effortless to me.

    Now I am wondering if 'effortless' really just means 'works', because it occurred to me that this draping might look effortless on Diana.

    Anyway, my sympathies! I have terrible in-store judgment, which is why I've instituted a policy of absolutely no final sale items.

  • Ingunn replied 8 years ago

    Suz, I think you look great in both garments! I particularly like #2. The drape is very flattering, and the color too. Shannon articulates very well what I think is going on - a step out of your comfort zone. I also agree on that you never can look pregnant nor fat, no matter what!

  • texstyle replied 8 years ago

    The black dress looks great from the front. It's the side view that made me pause. I guess the side view on both made me pause.

    Although both of these could likely be changed up with some styling, I think maybe you are trying to hard to find your style. Do you shop online much? When I shop online I am SO much more careful, picky and cautious. I spend a lot of time considering an item. Sometimes the items still go back. Often they go back. But at least I rarely impulse buy this way.

    Did you really want two dressier items when you headed out to shop? Did you have your list in hand?

    What if you stuck to just essentials for a couple of weeks and ONLY used accessories to make an outfit yours? What accessories would you wear? What essentials would you wear? Did you by chance read over some YLFers essentials on the blog post by Angie or the follow up post by Diana?

    You said you didn't need more jackets - so what do you need? Dresses? Tops? Skirts? What are you really missing?

  • Transcona Shannon replied 8 years ago

    I'm popping back in Suz to ask the question I always ask now when I go shopping in thrift or consignment stores. It's so easy to convince ourselves that something can work based on the lower price point.

    "Would you have paid full price for this"?

  • Jonesy replied 8 years ago

    Hmmm. Well, first thing: Family members can be startled and react kookily if they see you doing anything slightly different. They should be firmly disregarded :).

    Maybe I'm not seeing the details, but the first dress looks like a jersey dress you would find at Athleta or somewhere like that. It seems like a somewhat sporty basic (the cap sleeves, to me, seem sporty not avant garde).

    I think the blue dress has potential, but not styles with the cropped leggings and flats. Those elements mitigate the avant garde aspects, IMHO. I would wear it with black tights or leggings and tall black boots or booties.

    Your reaction as you're wearing the clothes is very interesting and probably should get sorted out before you buy more stuff :). It can be tricky to navigate "moving out of one's comfort zone" vs. "buying something too different and creating an orphan."

  • Gaylene replied 8 years ago

    The question is, Suz, do YOU like how you feel in either of these two garments? If the answer is YES!, then you are on the right track. If the answer is "not, really", then you know they are probably not taking you where you want to go. That doesn't mean you can't wear them, just that you probably don't want more like them in your closet. Finally, the difficult "well, I kind of like them, but maybe not?" that sends you off to ask others what they think.

    Personally, I like both of these, but that doesn't mean that they are necessarily how you want to expand your wardrobe. When I'm faced with this kind of decision, I ask myself two questions-- the first which I've used in another thread--"Would I have bought it at full price?". My second question is "Did I buy this because I was bored, influenced by the salesperson, or trying to imitate someone else?" Those two questions usually help me get at the root of why something that I'm not sure of followed me home.

    If you can stand the negative comments from your family, why not try wearing the items around home for a bit to see how you feel about them after a couple of days. Maybe try wearing them outside (if the thought of others seeing you in it makes you recoil, then you have your answer). Sometimes a period of adjustment can lead to a re-assessment or, at least, an understanding of WHY you were drawn to the item in question so then the garment becomes a learning experience.

    And, maybe, consider one of the jackets. Pick the one that makes you happiest. Then take a good long look at it. Maybe your style journey is in that jacket, not interpreting adjectives like "edgy" or "urban" or whatever. That's how I figured out how I wanted to move forward with my closet.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    This is so interesting and instructive. Thank you all.

    Cinnamon Fern, I will gladly send the black your way if I get rid of it! I do think it will be useful for my trip, so I'm keeping it for that at minimum. But after that, I'm still unsure!

    I think you are completely right that "effortless" just means that it "works" for the person. And the teal tunic would look effortless on Diana. (I was, in fact, thinking of her when I bought it!) <Waves to Diana!!!>

    (By the way, Diana, if the blue one would fit you, I'd be happy to send it along...I think the shine was from the camera flash. It does "glow" a tiny bit but nothing like in the pics.)

    But of course Diana's style is much more romantic than mine could ever be. I was admiring what works on her and looks fantastic and wanting some of that....but I'm not sure this is the right direction to go.

    Shannon, thank you for your opinions. This is helpful. I will bear what you have said in mind. It's possible that I just haven't given them a chance. I did wear the black one and felt a bit odd in it but "okay." Still not myself, exactly, though - not the way I feel in a jacket, a crisp shirt (or even a layering T) and denim or a pencil skirt.

    MTB, Declawed...thank you for your valuable thoughts.

    Ceit - LOL! That is exactly what I thought about the blue one in the light of my home mirror!!!

  • Transcona Shannon replied 8 years ago

    Me again - sorry, I keep having more thoughts.

    I like Jonesy's idea of the blue dress (yes, I think it's a dress) with black tights/leggings and your Doc Marcies.

  • K. Period. replied 8 years ago

    I really like both, but the structure of both of them is exactly in line with my tastes, so...

    I would say this, choosing something avant-garde inherently means that not everyone will get it. I keep thinking of Denise/CocoLion's absolutely awesome outfit she wore out to....deafening silence all around her. And a compliment given to the girl wearing purple faux-Uggs in line behind her. We all know that Denise is amazing and that her outfit was fabulously cutting edge. However, getting folks to be open to clothing as something closer to art is really challenging. So that's my 2 cents worth. Don't be depressed because you are the porchini in the world of white button. If you love these, make them work for you.

    ALSO, desperate plea here, that first Zara jacket is one that April suggested to me for an avant-garde topper. I love the look, but was unsure of the sizing. How did you find the sizing on it?

    Oh, and I'd wear a chuncky chainy long necklace with the blue top. Something along the lines of this: http://shop.graylingjewelry.co.....ce-in-gold. I have this necklace and it is an amazing travel piece.

  • Angie replied 8 years ago

    I have to run but had to quickly chime in, Suz! (Haven't read the comments).

    The blue has potential. The colour is SUBLIME on you. It needs black tights (or black skinnies), heels and a scarf worn infinity style to bookend the black (maybe). Or a necklace. Or lots of bangles.

    I vote return the black dress if you can. The neckline and sleeve length are off straight off the bat.

    Still mesmerized by you in this colour blue. WOW!!!

    Okay! Got to run! Will run through Zara with you later. I'm thinking of Suz in peplums....

  • Transcona Shannon replied 8 years ago

    Looks like The Boss has spoken!

  • MsMary replied 8 years ago

    I am no help at all because I think these are both just fab on you!

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Oooh! More helpful thoughts and ideas. You are all the best!! I am going to get sorted thanks to your help and my own analysis, and will move forward with better direction!

    Ingunn, thank you. I am glad for your input!

    Texstyle - I DO shop online...but it is difficult in Canada; we don't have so many options. And while I love online shopping for what I'll call the "consideration" factor (lots of time to make up one's mind in front of one's own mirror - a good thing!) if I were to shop only online I would seriously limit my options. Especially since I really need to try on - my body has changed a lot from the way it was a couple of years ago and I can't judge sizing or cuts very easily sometimes.

    However, I did NOT have my list in hand. (Caught red-handed, so to speak. LOL!!)

    And that is because I don't HAVE a list for this type of thing. In my own defence, how can one have a list of "needs" when moving in a new style direction is a "want."

    And having said that, I did know that I needed more tops and more season-spanning dresses. And I DID need items that would travel well - and these two items definitely fit that bill. They don't feel dressy to me at all, as a matter of fact - they are very casual (although possible to dress up). So they work for my lifestyle and for my immediate, travel capsule needs - and I was hoping they would ALSO work for me for the fall, to move me in the style direction I want to go....but I don't feel they do.

    Jonesy - great thoughts and styling ideas. The details are tough to see on the first dress. It is by a company called Sunlight. The cap sleeves are actually sort of rushed, and the dress has pockets and ruching in the front area. It IS a bit sporty, yes....but not as much as it may seem in the photo. I agree 100% that I need to sort out my reaction to these items before I go shopping again!

    Gaylene, Shannon - I DID ask myself if I would buy at full price. And no, I wouldn't - but that isn't necessarily ALWAYS a reason not to buy if you are trying to develop your style forward in a somewhat unfamiliar direction. Especially if you are already a risk-averse person.

    Now, if this were a cool jacket, I would be 100% certain and would be happy to invest. But a different cut, a different style, a different type of garment (I NEVER wear tunics) - this is something I need to approach with caution.

    Gaylene, you speak with wisdom. I have tried them, and my answer (so far at least) is "not really." It is the same feeling I got with the steampunk skirt I bought in the winter (and never wore out of the house). I love the look on others (say, Diana) but on me it just feels "off."

    Re the style journey being in the jacket - maybe...but jackets are a no-brainer for me. Easy. These jackets are just more fun and current, is all. I love them, but I have yet to meet a jacket I didn't at least LIKE! So I'm not sure I'm getting any new information there. Then again, maybe the old information is the right information. Maybe I just need to figure out my summer equivalent of jackets so I don't spend all my Augusts dying for some architectural integrity!

  • Zapotee replied 8 years ago

    I think #2 is a super cool DRESS:) I think it would look great with boots, under a cropped denim or leather jacket, with patterned tights and booties and the list goes on.

    I cannot make the details out on #1 so I'm withholding comment.

    About the Zara blazers, I loved the dark tweed one so much, I just made a call to my local Zara to have it on hold. So yes, I definitely like that one for you!!!

  • Isabel replied 8 years ago

    I think that both are fab also. That blue one is DIVINE !!!!!!!!

  • tarzy replied 8 years ago

    Oh Suz, I just want to give you a big hug. Big props for pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. If you never try, you never know, right?

    I have no opinion to offer, other than I kind of feel that asking for advice on edgy looks defeats the purpose, in a way. To me, edgy pushes boundaries, which makes people uncomfortable, and you have to be comfortable with that, if that makes any sense. Asking for approval from family or even from YLF seems to contradict the spirit of edgy, if you know what I mean. Edgy is a funny thing. Sometimes just wearing pink feels edgy for me, after years in black! Pink isn't "strong." Pink isn't "urban." Pink is "young." But pink also happens to make my skin look good! For me, pink is the new edgy!

    Do YOU like these outfits? Do YOU feel comfortable? I know you're struggling with this questions, and I'm not saying it's easy. You look fabulous no matter what, so it's all up to you! (I'm a big help, right? Sorry!)

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Shannon - I thought of the Marcies, too, with tights - for both of these.

    K can shop: I will PM you as well in case you don't come back here. I do not know how Zara compares to other places, but I suspect some people might say it is on the small side? Small fit me perfectly. Thank you for the link!

    Angie, THANK you. The styling ideas for the blue are great. That was more or less what I had in mind for fall. I still think I will feel off in it, however...but yeah, the colour really attracted me.

    MaryK - you are so sweet!

  • Gaylene replied 8 years ago

    Ahh, I get the architectural thing that's is so easy with a jacket and so hard when the temperature hits 30+.

    My own solution this year has been a couple of tops with asymmetrical hemlines worn with knee-length cotton skirts. I also found my blue, ikat-print skirt useful because it allowed me to focus on using color on top to create a strong, color-blocking effect by wearing solid orange, turquoise, or purple tops. I kept the shoulder line of all my tops quite clean by choosing boat-necks and sleeves that hit a bit lower on my upper arms. I also bought a turquoise cross-body bag to introduce a third color on some outfits. These looks, which I also translated to cropped pants and clams, kept the architectural style that I like. I am SO not a girly-boho dresser.

  • Jyoti replied 8 years ago

    I agree with the general consensus in that I like the blue one and would style with tights and ankle boots or cage heels.

    One thing to try while exploring avant-garde or very different silhouettes from what you're used to is to maybe just go to the mall with the intent of not buying anything at all. Just go into a ton of different stores and try on strange and intriguing pieces. Don't worry about trying to find something cutting edge, or thinking that you really need a top and not a skirt or anything like that. I do this to explore different silhouettes and styles that I'm not sure about; there's no harm in trying stuff on right? And try on ANYTHING that catches your eye or you think is interesting. Even if it looks silly on you, that's between you and the fitting room mirror. (:

    I think this might help you explore different styles and silhouettes, and also you can see how you feel in a bunch of different things. It may be you're not used to the above dresses or you just don't like them. By trying on strange things, you can get used to seeing yourself in different things without spending any money or anything! Then if its just an adjustment issue, you can figure that out. xD

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Zap - if YOU like that black jacket, that makes me feel great. You have great style. I guess you are right that the blue thing is a dress...but it feels like a tunic because I wouldn't wear it without tights, know what I mean? Too short in front there. So it's sort of limited in that way.

    Isabel, thank you, my dear. You are always kind.

    And Tara, thank you for the virtual hug! You're so right - moving out of the comfort zone feels weird. I think perhaps I've moved off in the wrong direction here, but we'll see. Maybe these items will at least get a bit of wear and I will learn something valuable.

  • deb replied 8 years ago

    I love #2. It is si cute on you.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Gaylene - THAT'S IT!!! That is what I need to do. I know it in my very bones. That is SO much more "me" than this.

    Okay. So where do I get these asymmetrical hemmed items. And coloured items. I need to go shopping with you!

    Jyoti - great suggestion as well. I should make it a mission to go shopping with no money or credit card in hand! Trouble is, I live in very small city without many options...that is another reason I mess up sometimes. I feel pressured by low availability and few opportunities. When I DO get to the big city, I'm often overwhelmed by too much choice!

  • Diana replied 8 years ago

    Ooh, Suz, what did you think of Ceit's top in her WIW today? I could see you in something like that.

  • replied 8 years ago

    Suz, do check out the etsy store -- they have some interesting asymmetrical tunic tops in various fabrics!

  • Vicki replied 8 years ago

    First off, Suz, turn down the volume on the reviewers in close proximity to you. You are exploring at the moment and need to be gentle with yourself. In fact, I saw a great quote on the bottom of an Honest Tea bottle cap which said: "Always listened; followed my own directions."

    I immediately loved the color and drape of the second top. It's a lovely, vibrant blue and Jonesy and the others gave you excellent advice. Your Doc Marcies would be great with this or knee-high boots. Or, wearing cigarette pants and some interesting caged heels.

    The black dress didn't give me any avant-garde feelings as much as your second item.

    As for the Zara jackets, my preference is for the lighter one with the metal trim. I could see that working with a column of black, any of your whites, your Report Marks booties. It's just a great jacket with such an interesting color. Is it oyster or silver?

    Just sharing my two cents as I find my way to the edge, as well. ;)

  • rachylou replied 8 years ago

    Uh, you can shoot me for bad manners or something, but I think the first dress is kinda... ordinary. Nice, but ordinary. The sewing doesn't seem up to your usual quality, but that may be the darkness of the dress and my screen interacting.

    As for the second: Hon, that is OUTSTANDING.

    ETA: I think you've found avant garde with these dresses, judging by the total lack of consensus. LOL.

  • Zapotee replied 8 years ago

    Suz, you can always layer a knit skirt or light dress underneath the blue "thing" to make up for the lack of coverage resulting from the asymmetrical hem. The "thing" allows for lots of experimentation. Please keep!!!!

    Yes, I love the blazer!!! Thank you so much for the compliment!

  • Antje replied 8 years ago

    Suz, I LOVE that first dress on you! It's beautiful and I think you can wear it many ways. Personally, I'd try to funk it up with bright shoes or something. But in any case, it's perfection I think.
    I'm not personally a huge fan of the blue dress because I'm just not that into all that draping, but I don't think it looks bad on you. Really a matter of personal taste, not of fit, I think.

  • catgirl replied 8 years ago

    Suz, I haven't read the comments yet so hope I'm not totally out there!

    I see the appeal in both of these dresses and I think they look very nice on you. My issue with these kinds of pieces is that they can easily be mistaken for ordinary, though they are not. It's like the gorgeous Native baskets woven here - I always want to get them for wedding presents, but I'm afraid that if I don't leave the price tag on, people who don't know better will mistake them for something I picked up for 50 cents in Tijuana.

    My take is that you are looking for something more structured/architectural. These are strong, simple and asymmetrical but they are "soft" in fabric and look. Is that what you want? How do you FEEL in these outfits? What attracted you to them? I think you need pieces with more structured fabric yet interesting angles. Again, my MMK jacket from the NAS is that type of item. Or my Theory jacket.

    Sorry if that's not helpful - I could be completely off track.

  • Scarlet replied 8 years ago

    OH MY GOSH, GO BACK AND GET THAT BLACK ZARA JACKET!!!! The cut is so cute and the way you describe the weave sounds perfect. I don't think the dresses are that bad, but I also wouldn't keep either. The blue color is striking with your eyes though. I stepped into COS quickly the other day. Such a shame that they aren't in Canada. You would really be able to experiment with a different look there. They have such cute dresses at the moment.

  • rachylou replied 8 years ago

    Oh, and I'll take the blue dress if you refuse to wear it. LOL. I don't even care what size it is. LOL.

    And I'm serious.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    LOL, Scarlet!! Maybe I should order the jacket from Zara. I think I can shop online here....not sure. I am sad about COS, too. Are they available in England? If so, I might have some luck in the spring.

    Una, not only are you not wrong, you are dead right. I do not want drape and softness. Or rather, I might *want* it in theory, and like it on others...but I don't think, ultimately, that it works well on me. I need the kinds of pieces you are talking about. But what, other than jackets, ARE those pieces? That is the question.

    Antje, thank you - it is nice to hear that dress get a bit of love. I don't think I was completely off my head when I bought it! I can really see you in this item and think it would suit you better than me.

    Zap - that is very smart thinking. I even have a midi made of the same fabric that I could try under this dress for a different look. And other jersey skirts as well to try. Great thoughts.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Rachylou - it's a deal. If I don't keep and wear that blue, it's yours.

    Vicki - thank you for your comments - very helpful! The lighter Zara jacket is a very light silvery grey. I was worried that it washed me out a bit, which is one reason I didn't snap it right up. But it was the end of a long few days and I was burdened with suitcases and not wearing the right bottoms for trying things on....so I wasn't entirely sure.

  • texstyle replied 8 years ago

    This turned into a really educational thread - thanks Suz! I wouldnl't be quick to ditch either of my purchases if I were you. Sometimes once we absorb the newness of something we figure out how we will take advantage of it.

  • catgirl replied 8 years ago

    Oh, Suz - I can shop for you all day! (If my clients would just stop calling...) I can see you in pants like Angie's slim slouchy ones, or a funky woven shirt like Ceit's asymmetrical shirt. Or a cool chopped-up vest. Lots of these items are going to be black, because that's the color of the avant-garde, yes? But I'm sure there ARE options.

    Let's play "price is no object" for a moment. This skirt:

    http://www.dkny.com/women/shop.....ered-skirt

    Or this one:

    http://www.ssense.com/women/pr.....gn=generic

    Love this despite the ruffles:

    http://www.theoutnet.com/produ.....2g_XZZnG9w

    Maybe too short?

    http://www.theoutnet.com/produ.....uyh73jBP1g

    Any of those look appealing?

  • catgirl replied 8 years ago

    Blazers:

    http://elizabeth-charles.com/b10.html

    http://www.shopbop.com/smoking.....rg-2178999

    http://www.intermixonline.com/.....038;cid=LS

    http://www1.macys.com/shop/pro.....lTo4iidCUQ

    Again, Bill Gates is funding your wardrobe, so price is no object. :)

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    I am so glad Bill is with me! I love the Helmut Lang....not sure about the others. Would have to try them on. I think I need to go to a place that carries such clothes. Where IS such a place? Does it even exist in Canada?

    Texstyle - I always find other people's mistakes so enlightening! So I figured this was worth posting, and it has been VERY educational for me. I have learned that draping is really not my direction - but I can probably save these pieces for now and enjoy them.

    I have learned to look more for asymmetry with structure. Or for structure, period...I can take a bit of flounce or drape if the structure is there.

  • catgirl replied 8 years ago

    Wow, not much cheaper than Helmut Lang:

    http://www.theory.com/womens-j.....lt,sc.html

  • Marley replied 8 years ago

    I just skimmed through your post and then came to the bottom to comment because I don't have time to read through everyone else's comments - but, just wanted to say that I think the blue has real potential - the color, the draping - just perfect! I would not however, wear it with the cropped black leggings and black flat shoes. I'd try it out with black skinnies and boots - you know, sharpen it up a bit!
    As far as the black one goes - I can't see the details of the front, but to me it just looks like a regular sporty dress - nothing really avant garde about it? - unless I'm missing something? I like it OK - but it doesn't seem like anything special. Also, your footwear in the pic - are those the new sandals? - pretty sporty looking - if you're going for avant garde sometimes all it takes is a pair of shoes/boots with that element and then the entire outfit is more avant garde-ish!
    One last thing - never, never go by what family members tell you about your clothes when you are trying out new looks - they just don't get it and probably aren't going to be real enthused about your attempts to change things up! Its that old "family systems" theory - family members are going to rally around to keep things status quo, no matter what! :-)

  • merwoman replied 8 years ago

    Who can notice the clothes - your mega-watt smile is blinding me to everything else!
    Love you in dress #2 - the blue is so radiant on you. I don't dislike dress#1 - I think there are better footware options.
    You could wear a sack (ok - a blue sack)- and still look fantastic - but you have to feel comfortable. I think this has been a fantastic exercise for you (and all of us) to better appreciate what we are looking for in a garment.

  • lyn* replied 8 years ago

    I quite like #1 ... after all, it was made in ze Paris ;) But I think your family members are more used to seeing things like pencil skirts? This seems more poof than that :)

    I am not fond of #2 though ... maybe you could use the sling to carry things?

    Yay on the shoes!

  • Vicki replied 8 years ago

    Una, you can shop for me any time! Wow! Do I love that DKNY skirt link and then the smoking jacket, too! Suz, may I go shopping with you and Bill, now that she has given you this amazing list?

    Once I saw what Una said and posted, the direction of our style goals all seemed to make sense. What a group we have here. Enlightened!

  • Mo replied 8 years ago

    I'm late to this, and haven't read any responses yet, but I agree #1 is off somehow. Perhaps it's too much volume too low for your height and body type. I love #2! You're right, the color is fantastic and unlike #1 the proportions don't look 'off' to me.
    But perhaps you do want to just dip your toe in instead of jump headlong into the avant garde pool. Start with an interesting top, or a jacket that is tailored, like you are longing for, but in an interesting shape or with funky lapels or shoulders.
    Don't give up! This look could be fab for you!

  • Marlene1 replied 8 years ago

    That black Zara jacket - I didn't think I liked boyfriend jeans until I looked at your Zara link and saw the outfit with the black jacket. That's how to do boyfriend jeans - please consider that jacket!

  • Gaylene replied 8 years ago

    That Helmut Lang jacket is gorgeous. Even if I can't afford it now, looking at items like that help me set the direction for my style evolution.

    And, Suz, why not play around with those two items to see what it would take to make them yours. Somehow I could see the blue dress looking quite striking if worn with tall boots and tights to a event, like a writer's conference, where you were introducing a speaker.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Una, you're an excellent shopper. Now, to make the money to buy the items!

    Mo - I suspect you are right. That's what's wrong with the black dress. Alas....

    Marley - the details of the black dress are a bit difficult to see. It has some complicated draping at the front and an uneven hem. But you're right - it probably ISN'T anything special on me. I was swayed on this one by a number of factors, not least that I saw someone else try it on and she looked (I thought) FABULOUS in it. Dumb, dumb, dumb. You're right about the footwear, though - I had imagined wearing it with my Doc Marcies in cooler weather but it was just too hot today to put them on. And I had also hoped I could wear it like this in summery weather.

    Lyn, interesting how people's responses are so different. A few people have loved the black and hated the blue; more have seen potential in the blue and felt MEH about the black.

    Vicki, you're so right - YLF is the best!

    Marlene - yeah, that jacket is enough to convert anyone to la BF! I agree it is a great look, and hey, I already have the jeans!!

    Gaylene, I"ll definitely play around and see if I can make these work for a season. Even if I ultimately decide they aren't "me" at least I can get some use from them and maybe enjoy them. And I agree - the blue one has some potential as a presentation outfit with the right accessories. Maybe I can wear it to the WritersFest events I have in late September.

  • Deborah replied 8 years ago

    Suz, rushing to take Master 9 to school but very briefly...Stop! Pack them both up and send them to me! Lol. I love them both. These styles are popular here. The draping, oddly placed pockets, unusual silhouettes. Give your family time, they are just not used to these looks on you. Will pop back later xx

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Ceit, did you post that Etsy link? I can't find it in my foolishness....

    Thanks!

  • replied 8 years ago

    Oh! Search idea2lifestyle --- I am drooling over a few new things they have like the Immortelle tunic!

    http://www.etsy.com/listing/10.....blouse-and

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Thank you!! Off to peruse!

  • Aida replied 8 years ago

    Great thread, Suz :D I think #1 is too sporty for you, and not really workable for the direction you want. However that blue dress is gorgeous!! I'm with Angie and Jonesy on that one: it needs black tights/skinnies and heels/boots. I do think this piece is worth experimenting further with. Also agree with Una that you are after architectural arty, but not soft/romantic arty. Do you have any hi-low hem tops? They are everywhere, and could be an easy way to add just a little of this.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    I do have one hi-low T, Aida - just a simple cheap summer piece. I like it quite a lot. I also used to wear trapeze tops back in the early 90s when those were "in" and loved them. They worked for me despite being on the short side, possibly because I am small busted. So I can see the right hi-low top working. The issue is finding the RIGHT ones. I wasn't so keen on that hemline for skirts/dresses for some reason.

    I'm glad you think the blue one has some potential. I have the black tights/skinnies/ and three different boots/booties to try, so maybe I will do some styling with the blue one. Thanks!!

  • Aida replied 8 years ago

    Suz I wasn't keen on them for skirts/dresses either, but then I found the right one :} A handkerchief hem for skirts, dresses, and tops might also appeal to you.

  • Krista replied 8 years ago

    Okay - I copied and pasted the quote below from you because it got my spidey senses going and I read through all of the comments to see if anyone addressed it:

    "Still not myself, exactly, though - not the way I feel in a jacket, a crisp shirt (or even a layering T) and denim or a pencil skirt."

    I am just wondering if there's a part of you that believes/thinks that the only way to look "put-together" is the formula you mention above, and not the dresses or tunics you've purchased. This formula is also the norm for many others out there, so is it possible you're just uncomfortable with deviating from the norm? Is there a part of you that feels like unstructured and avant-garde looks sloppy? Just questions for thoughts!

    I love both of these items on you, but I can see how they are so different from other things you wear. Trying out the styling ideas suggested by others may help you see how these items can look totally awesome and may challenge some of the beliefs about avant-garde/edgy/unstructured dressing that you weren't aware that you had.

    I apologize if this is too deep! It's been a long day.... :)

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Those are all great on you, Aida. I think one thing that makes each of them work is the geometric pattern, which contrasts nicely with the softness. Even on the light floaty one, that adds a touch of edge. I know the peacock feathers top isn't, strictly speaking geometric (quite the reverse!) but from a distance the spines of the feathers read as lines and also black with your hair is brilliant. I like the length of that hem a lot (both front and back) and think it works really well. And of course you know I love you in the striped dress.

    Thank you, again!

  • jen replied 8 years ago

    Love #2 add a little confidence and you're good to go :)

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Jen - thank you!

    Krista - very interesting thoughts. It is possible that I have some underlying doubts about my stated style goals! Very Freudian....

    Seriously, though - I think it is more a question of preferring FOR MYSELF more angles vs. drape and "round" loopy shapes. More structure vs. floaty stuff.

    I LOVE those shapes on others (hence my attraction to them), but don't feel comfortable or flattered, somehow, myself.

    Feel like I'm in a costume.

    Put me in something simpler yet asymmetrical and no matter how dramatic, it still feels like "me."

    I do think this blue "dress" or "tunic" or whatever it is has some possibilities, despite my dislike of the shape. I can probably make it work for me with a bit of ingenuity and YLF styling ideas. I have the tights, the skinnies, and a black super slim midi to try underneath it. So I'll give it a go.

  • shevia replied 8 years ago

    Wow, another great thread full of ideas. Well I only skimmed and I hope you aren't tired of reading responses but I will add mine and read the whole thing more carefully later. I like both pieces. The black one is something very typical around here, except for the sleeves (can they be removed - sleeveless would be better I think). Israeli design is all about drape. The blue one is more interesting to me and I think it has a lot of potential. I love the black Zara jacket for you. My only hesitation is some (but not all) Zara jackets have quality issues in my experience. Meaning that they sometimes look less good in person or don't fit quite right. But in principle that jacket is fantastic.

    Finally, please take your family's reaction with a grain of salt. That is what I try to do - their eyes just aren't trained the way yours are at this point. And they like you so much how you are they don't want to see any changes.

  • Krista replied 8 years ago

    Suz,
    I think the thread is really helping you identify what you're attracted to about asymmetrical items. I wouldn't give yourself too hard a time about buying these items - would you be willing to see the blue shirt as the one item you "practice" with to determine whether or not it's you? If you at least determine what your future style path is, I would say the shirt was worth the money! :)

    Notice I'm out of my Freudian place now..... :)

  • sarah replied 8 years ago

    suz, I love this thread - there are so many great ideas here. I am very much interested in the term architectural in describing the style direction that you may be headed - to me it implies a bit more structure than arty, and I wonder if that's what you're after. BTW, I am trying out Zara jackets, too this fall. Not sure I'm succeeding, though.

  • Joy replied 8 years ago

    For you:
    "Ninety per cent [of women] are afraid of being conspicuous and of what people will say. So they buy a grey suit. They should dare to be different. Although I am very shy...I have never been shy of appearing in public in the most fantastic and personal get up. --Schiaparelli

    I had to take a photo of this quotation at the fabulous exhibition "Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations" at the New York Metropolitian Museum of Art when we were there. You would have thought you'd died and gone to heaven to see the gorgeous pieces by these two designers. I thought of you immediately when I saw all the gorgeous Schiaparelli jackets. They were paired with Prada skirts for the show.

  • Deborah replied 8 years ago

    This is such an interesting thread Suz. I'm not sure if I can add anything useful. I have already said I like both dresses, particularly the blue one. I don't find either piece avant garde but I do find the blue dress modern and fashion forward. If it was me, I would wear the blue dress with black tights, heeled booties and Una's Theory? Jacket. The jacket adds the structure and the individual pieces create a semi? crisp, unique and fashion forward look (IMHO). I wonder sometimes if the labels don't help us, a look can read avant garde on one person but tragic on another...it's all about what works for the individual.

  • Deborah replied 8 years ago

    Suz, a quote from Valentino for you;

    Only wear clothes that make you feel alive.

  • krishnidoux replied 8 years ago

    Suz, I agree that the black dress is cute, but not striking because of how the collar-sleeves are shaped - although you have a fantastic bod. Somehow you look very "French" in it. (in a good way). From the side though, it looks like fabric was surrendered in order to allow a tummy to relax. It's a particular look I have seen on some garments, some love it while others think it's weird. Personally, I think it suits curvier women best (with larger hips and behinds to pull the sides). I have tried it myself and bought items like that but have found the extra fabric bothered me more than anything else. On my body, with no hips, the fabric gathers too much in the front creating a little pouch. It doesn't seem to do this on you but it does look like more fabric than needed in the front.

    On to the blue dress: it is stunning. It's very curved but in just the nicest way and the fitted top balances it out. I agree with Angie to wear heels + skinnies with it. Although it is extremely cute in the picture as well. It's true that the top calls for some accessory.
    I understand and agree with Angie's advice to include circles on the top, such as bangs and infinity, to add extra interest and avoid putting too much straight lines on the top. Go for large ring earrings! (that's what I would do, leaving the beautiful simple collar free).

    Jackets: I love the first one (white) for you! I can imagine it suits you very well and that it will be very useful because of its unique yet classic design. I am not a fan of the second one, too Channel in my mind, but that is a very personal taste. I don't like the ruffle-like trims.

    Big hugs to you Suz, and kudos to have tried new things. In my experience, it is often what happens ESPECIALLY in times of sales. One miss, one win. So now I always go for two or three items instead of just one when it's a sale, so that I know at least one will work. This summer I bought some things on sale which I kind of regret now. Two pairs of patented sandals from Beautifeel for $100 each (normal price $250 each). I am so bummed out to have suffered tons of blisters from both pairs, just from walking around, when they are supposed to be the most comfortable brand. And I can't return them.
    I have also bought a couple of polo style tops which have remained folded in my drawer for most of the summer. Too hot for the heat wave, then, not appealing. Oh well. I tried a preppier style but I guess this is just not the best direction for me.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Krish, thank you for your wisdom, styling advice and commiseration. About the black dress, you have expressed it perfectly. The extra fabric in the front just seems to hang there on me and bunch, whereas on the larger woman I saw trying it, the whole effect was quite enchanting. Alas! And lesson learned....

    I will also try your styling advice for #2. It will be usable this year, and then I will probably retire it.

    As for the jackets, I didn't buy, so at the moment it is all theoretical!

    Deborah and Joy, your beautiful quotations brought tears to my eyes.

    I feel as if this has been a very powerful learning experience, worth the money that it cost me. First of all, you have helped me to rescue these two pieces for at least one season's wear. They may not be my best look but they will fill a travel and appearances hole for the immediate moment.

    Meanwhile, they have taught me that I really do need more angles, simplicity (vs. curves) and now I know exactly what I will be looking for. SOME draping is okay. But it needs to be quite restrained.

    I keep going back to those David Kibbe categories (http://colorconnection.yuku.co.....ECtkkIZd-A) and also to the Dressing your Truth mini-course (http://dressingyourtruth.com) that I did. BOTH of these systems suggested that angles and asymmetry
    were my friends. In the Kibbe system I am a Classic Dramatic. In Carol Tuttle's system I came out a 3.

    On that 12 Blueprints site (http://12blueprints.com/the-dramatic-true-summer/) I saw an acknowledgement of what is particularly difficult and what makes my shopping extremely frustrating. I'm a cool summer in colouring. This means I shouldn't be wearing the stark black and white or the autumn tones that clothes in the SHAPES that are right for me are typically made!

    Perhaps the reason that I "get away with" black at times is simply because it is in a SHAPE I need.

    Wouldn't it be great to find the shapes I need in the colours I need -- cranberry, orchid, raspberry, purple, smokey blue-grey, charcoal, ink blue, navy, taupe, denim.

    Maybe I need to learn to sew. Maybe I need to get some of my clothes made.

    I think it also explains the appeal of a suit to me. A suit is often a sharply angled, structured piece with a jacket (one of my KEY wardrobe items, as per Kibbe) in a blue or a grey.

    Hmmm. Off to ponder some more. Thank you, again, everyone.

  • Vix replied 8 years ago

    Caller # 4,931 weighing in on your purchases...

    If I were doing a graphic of the responses, woo-eee there would be lines and wiggles and poles-apart basecamps. Lots of stuff for you to sort through and evaluate against your inner voice!

    I'm pretty aligned with Krista (and others who said similar):

    >I love both of these items on you, but I can see how they are so different from other things you wear. Trying out the styling ideas suggested by others may help you see how these items can look totally awesome and may challenge some of the beliefs about avant-garde/edgy/unstructured dressing that you weren't aware that you had.

    Single-layer dressing -- no jackets, ma'am -- is always going to be a bit of a challenge for you and your evolving style goals, I think. Collared, linear shirts/dresses tend to skew more classic or run the risk of swamping your small frame in blouse-y artistic severity.

    Kibbe (who gives me a headache) and DYT aside, I think there may be some forest/trees things going on here. Yes, these 2 items have some draping. But overall the silhouettes are *quite* angled and graphic -- especially the blue, but also the black*.

    My .02, of course you have to feel like "you" in these items.

    That said: No, I don't love the black color on you -- but you're doing what's rec'd, which is to keep an open (but not terribly so) neckline. Find that spiky silver-toned metal statement necklace or an alternative if it's too open for you.

    [* Re the black dress: As another hip-impaired person, I'd explore reigning in that side view a bit with a tailor...a few stitches and you may be streamlined. Front/back views look fine at this point to me. If you can post a clearer shot of what the folds are doing and ask our sewists for advice you'd be armed with more knowledge.]

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Thanks, Vix! As always, your thoughts are helpful.

    My overall assessment is this. The black dress was a bit of an error (not worth the cost to alter it) BUT it IS in a super travel-worthy fabric and is great to pop over a swimsuit, even, were I to travel to someplace hot. Therefore...not a complete mistake. I'll keep it for travel and those specific uses.

    The blue is salvageable for appearances this fall. I will put it up with some styling and show it. I think I can make it work and since the colour is so great, it will be a nice addition.

  • RunnerChick replied 8 years ago

    Suz, this is such a fascinating thread! The discussion is about SO much more than the two outfits that you bought and posted on. I have to run now, but I'm planning to return to it, so I can read all the comments. I'm not going to be much help to you on this avant-garde style journey, but Im here supporting you (and taking notes).

    ETA: FWIW, I think what you're doing is really cool. And they do say that the journey is more important than the destination...

  • mrseccentric replied 8 years ago

    Epic Thread - i love it!!! so much good info. A couple of thots before i'm off to do errands.

    Suz, i think you mite benefit from studying some people or designers who do the type of avant-garde looks you like (as Una said, price no object). Focus in on asymmetry and structure and pay attention to what type of pieces they use, how they put them together, fabrications, etc. 'avant-garde' is a pretty broad category and i'm thinking you're floundering because you don't have much direction. The citizen Rosebud and Style Odyssey are both very out there, but their styles could not be more different!

    " Maybe I just need to figure out my summer equivalent of jackets so I don't spend all my Augusts dying for some architectural integrity! "

    yep. i'm all about jackets too and have found that structured blouses are a lifesaver. Recently i was looking at Brooks Brother's site, their sale prices for shirts are very reasonable (as low as $40 US). Don't know about Canada, etc. but maybe someone could work a buy and ship? A couple could be very useful for tossing over a fun skirt on hot days.

    "Maybe I need to learn to sew. Maybe I need to get some of my clothes made."

    Maybe. I know i'd be in terrible shape if i didn't make so much of my own. Even sewing a few simple pieces, like hanky hem skirts or knit tunics, can really help to beef up the wardrobe. Many etsy sellers are open to making custom pieces, you could get a black piece made up in burgundy for example.

    Best of luck and HTH!!! Happy Day, steph

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