Outfit Lab: shirt & shell. ETA changed!

We are enjoying unusually warm temperatures here so I thought today might be a good day to experiment with the roomy shirt and shell combo. 

But I don't think it is working particularly well here. 

For reference, I'm wearing an older cotton cable knit shell from Winner's. It's not exactly "boxy" but it is not super fitted, either. I'd call it relatively fluid fit. 

Underneath I am trying my Pleione mixed media top (one of my NAS shopping mistakes, but we will get to that in another post). On me, this is a very roomy top. But it is fluid so it drapes. 

I'm also wearing my Ann Taylor leopard print pants, which I pulled out of the donate bin. These pants (bought, stupidly, in petite) are an extremely annoying neither here-nor-there length. I had them let down to the last possible fraction of a cm. but they are still too short for regular length. And now they're not real "ankle" pants, either. I keep wanting to get rid of them but I absolutely love them at this time of year for comfort and the fun pattern. So I end up wearing them each fall and then putting them away. 

Note: the outfit is not uncomfortable at all. I'm not tugging, pulling, or otherwise feeling fussy about it; it's more the proportions and visual look I wonder about. 

Onwards to the analysis. 

First with the vest at regular length. 

Next with vest cropped a bit -- this I achieved simply by rolling the welt under. 

Next with pants rolled a bit. 

Next with pointed bronze Donald Pliner booties instead of the almond toe Munros. I could also use my black booties or my ink blue Zaras (though those ones need a trip to the cobbler). 

Next with oxfords. 

I dunno. Scratching my head about this one. Does my eye just need to adjust or do I have to do something different here? Is the vest not boxy enough? 

ETA: So, now it's warming up even more and for comfort, I'm actually wearing #6!  May add my Kenneth Cole cardigan (AKA my other NAS mistake) later this evening when it cools down. But for now, sleeveless is fine...) 

It interests me how I revert to my uniform of the semi tuck and pants whenever in doubt...

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.


  • Sara L. replied 6 years ago

    I like these looks - both with the vest long and at the cropped length.  I'm not sure what's wrong with the pants either since the length looks fine to me with the booties.  I really like the color of that top on you.  I like the boots looks better than the oxfords, but oxfords aren't my favorite shoe so that could just be me.

  • Golden replied 6 years ago

    I think they all look good, although I prefer either of the boots over the oxfords. I might like the oxfords better if they were solid in color instead of two toned.

  • Elizabeth P replied 6 years ago

    Hey Suz...
    I'd love to know why this top is a mistake for you.  I ordered two of them, and they both went back... I even tried to pawn them off on a couple of friends here, but neither of them were takers either (despite liking them on the Nordstrom site).  We all found it kind of "blah" on us... something just "off" with the cut of them.  Which is funny considering I have two of the short sleeved ones and love them.  But I digress...

    I think with this outfit, I prefer the cropped version, as obviously do you, as you  only did one "full length" version.  I also think it would look nice if the vest were a couple of inches longer.  As is isn't quite right.  But to my eye  I think the overall look is a bit off because there is nothing happening at the neck.  You need either a lower vest neckline so the blouse shows a bit, or maybe a necklace or a scarf, to add some interest here.  ??

  • lyn67 replied 6 years ago

    Great outfit lab post:-), see what others will have to say.

    My faves are nr 3 and 5. Shirt is OK all around, but I crave more structure(or bookending some skin?) with it, so I think a deeper neckline on the shell would provide that even further, as the gap on the ankle or bookending lighter color hair with the white spot in the oxfords are crucial to my eyes, for this one, I cannot put my finger on, why?

  • replied 6 years ago

    Suz - I'm not seeing any issue with the pant length here at all!  The photos are a tad dark, so maybe the detail is not clear, but I like them!  And - as far as the vest goes - I prefer it longer.  Not sure I can give any more of an explanation than just an instinctive preference for that length.    I like it best with the booties - either pair (can't really see the Pliners well for colour in the photo).   I quite like this outfit - and maybe if the top was a mistake, this is the way you can still get some wear out of it?  

  • Janet replied 6 years ago

    I also kind of wondered what was going on at the neckline -- the pic is a little dark on my screen, so I'm not sure, but I either want to see the collar, or not see it at all, so I think either pulling the collar out or a lower neckline on the shell would help. I like the outfit though. I prefer the versions with boots rather than oxfords, and I like the shell/vest at full length as well as the cropped version. I think the length of the pants looks fine with the higher-topped booties, but I totally understand what you mean -- this is how most pants fit me, and why tall booties are my friends. :-)

  • jackiec replied 6 years ago

    Hmmm. I don't know. Personally, my preference is for your first rendition. Sometimes our first gut instinct is the best ;). However, other fabbers have good points. It's not bad to my eye. The vest/top skews very conservative but I like it paired with the print and booties. I do like the matchiness about it too. Why don't you like the top? I bought the black & white a year ago and wore them a ton last year. Having said that, I passed on the short sleeved ones when I tried them on in person (mind you the only colour available at the time sucked the life right out of me)....

  • Deb replied 6 years ago

    In my humble opinion the first look is by far the best. The unrolled sweater and unrolled pants look way better than the rolled versions and the burgundy boots work better than both the black shoes and the oxfords with these pants. I think #1 looks good on you and worthy of wearing out.

  • Zibbets replied 6 years ago

    Cute! I like the shell longer when your ankles are covered and shorter when they're exposed, so #1 and #3. I like the way the boot and shirt color are close but not an exact match.

    I think you should hang onto the pants. They definitely work with this.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Thanks, all. 

    I know the pants probably look okay in the pics....they are just barely at full length but only because I kind of scrunch them down for the photos.... the fabrication is very soft and light (largely rayon) and they tend to creep up, particularly since there is no weight at the hem (with all the allowance being let down). They were originally ankle pants but not quite the right length and they kept getting caught in my booties and shoes and also need to be "shrugged" down after sitting -- you know the deal. Just an annoyance. Meanwhile, they are super comfortable in every other way! So it's a tradeoff. I'm considering making them deliberately shorter again. Maybe Angie can advise. 

    Lisa, the Pliners are a sort of dull bronze. Probably not the perfect colour but they do blend pretty well IRL with the plum-grey of the pants. Different hue, same tonal range. 

    Lyn, Elizabeth, you might be right about the neckline. In the past I've worn this vest with a collared shirt only. 

    Elizabeth, I'll make another post about the top. I bought two of these also! SOOO hoping they would work because I had an inferior Vince Camuto one last year that I loved, but the quality just wasn't there and I passed it on. Anyway...this one is just too voluminous for me.  I gave my daughter (size medium) my XS white (the second one I bought) and it actually works on her...so when I say mine is too big, you know what I am saying. I  don't have the real estate to fill it out. But I do plan to keep this one. The colour is lovely. 
    Mr. Suz likes it on me when I semi-tuck. 

    Golden, Sara, I hear you on the oxfords. I also wondered if rolling the pants with the oxfords and trying a lighter top would make it work with those. 

    Thanks for the feedback so far. I'm wearing it around the house today so I will continue to check in for your thoughts! (Before I go anywhere, LOL.) 

  • JamC replied 6 years ago

    I also like #1 the best of these. I think the lengths of the top and vest might not work together. A shorter top or longer shell might be better.

  • Neel replied 6 years ago

    Do you have grey boots? The shoes are throwing me off. I love the unrolled pants and vest the best.

  • MuseumGal replied 6 years ago

    Those pants and booties are fab fab.
    I think an issue here is the purple band right at your belly.  Now you are quite slim and while it doesn't make you look heavier, it does draw the eye right to your midsection, instead of your face (or even your great booties).  Maybe try with a less contrasting color underneath??

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    I looked at #1 and thought - needs dark booties. Then you gave it to me in #4. Wooohooo, Suz. Very fashionable.

    Love #4 as is. Would probably look more conventionally flattering and balanced with a cream blouse, but it totally works like this nonetheless. 

    Personally, I would probably roll the hems a little with the Pliners or wear dark booties with a taller shaft. (Me and ankle pants have a very complicated relationship). Ankle pants are not my poison eye - but I am sensitive to what I think works to my eye. 

    Love both lengths of the crop top. The shorter one lengthens the leg line even further. 

    Lots of hugs. Will miss you at the SSIF. xo

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Janet, the top doesn't have a collar, so that's the issue. There is some of the colour showing on top IRL and it doesn't look quite as bad as I had feared before I put it on (I was wondering about this issue) but it's not ideal. 

    Jackie, DEB, thanks. I think maybe #1 is best, too. 

    Zibbets, that's a good point, too -- ankle skin with crop, long pants without. Thank you. 

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    We posted at the same time. xo

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Angie, thank you for weighing in! Yes, I think you have nailed the issue. I didn't really like the Munros with it, either. I could use my taller shaft Zaras and try that with the pants rolled a bit. The Pliners are "shooties" so I am not sure how a roll would look with them. 

    I will miss you, too!! So sweet of you to pop in. 

    I'm loving the variety of responses here, by the way -- it's really instructive and shows me that I'm not crazy to think this was a little tricky to get just right. 

    JamC, I wondered about the lengths, too. Still not convinced this is right. 

    Neel, alas, no grey booties in my arsenal. YET..    :) 

    MG, I can try with less contrast. I'm not too sensitive about attention to the midsection but I think maybe the width of the band is a bit much. Something. 

  • annagybe replied 6 years ago

    My favorites are #2 and #5. Cropping the vest makes it look more current.

  • Mona replied 6 years ago

    I like it in #4 and 6. The blouse is such a lovely colour on you and I am so glad that you are keeping it.
    If pants are comfortable everywhere else, why not have them shortened or just wear them rolled like you have done in #3.
    Isn't this cardi a replacement for the other (black) one? I thought you were happy with this. What changed?

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Mona, this cardi was bought at the same time. The red J. Crew one replaced the ink blue cashmere one. 

    The problem with this one is....uh....I just don't feel like "me" and don't think it flatters. I love the fabrication (very soft). I love the weight (great for this time of year or the spring.) I love the colour (light blue grey -- really a beautiful tone). And I love the whole idea of it, with the zippers. I also love the way the back fits. It's nicely ribbed to rein in the volume. 

    But.. but...but...it's just too softly drapey for me to feel good in it. Doesn't flatter, somehow. In the pictures it might be okay, but IRL it feels "off." 

    Thanks, Anna - I agree about the cropped vest. 

  • N-Marie replied 6 years ago

    I like #1 and #4. Others have a bit too much contrast for me when added on top of the vest layering. Love the pants and glad you pulled them from the donate pile! And you look very chic in #6!

  • Suzanne (ambergreen) replied 6 years ago

    Love #6, and #4 is also sleek. I think N-Marie has a good point here--the lower-contrast versions seem to work best to my eye, but I think I have sugar eye for lower contrast looks generally. :)

  • krishnidoux replied 6 years ago

    Suz, what...?
    You look fantastic.
    But seriously, WTF? I mean:
    Not-exactly-it Winner's piece + NAS mistake + Donate bin item = ???
    And you expect this formula will render something you love? Where would that happen?
    I know, I know, it's sunny and exceptionally nice out right now. Maybe it would happen there, under the sunshine.
    But it won't make up for less-than-perfect pieces. 
    I say this to you the way I would say it to myself, because I recognize so much of my own behavior in what you describe above. 

    This said, I call these pieces "less-than-perfect" because that's how you present them; in the pics, they look really nice. But we all know there is a world of difference between standing for the camera and moving in day-to-day actions. 

    Let's start with the winner cable knit: looks ok, but the rolling attempt in 2 tells me you long for structure, and would be happier with a more fitted piece. Why not have that sleeveless cardi altered: cinched and cropped? I'm sure it wouldn't be as much work as it seems and would end up more useful to you. You are petite with a petite frame, and structure loves you.

    Second, the shirt. You say it's a mistake, but I have yet to see why. Anyway, it looks like a fantastic shirt. No collar? Have you tried wearing it open, with a tee underneath, as a topper? The shade is right on trend.

    (Oops! I realize the shirt might not actually button all the way down... then I understand your woe... so here is another solution: roll a lightweight scarf around your neck, to balance out the shirt's parachute/A-line shape... or even a chunky piece of jewelry would do)

    Third: the pants: I agree, length is funny. And I find it doesn't roll well (not tight enough around the calf). I looooooove the pattern on them: demure, chic, and out there. It would look good full length, but I really think you could sport an even skinnier style and look very good in it, you know. You HAVE the figure for it.  
    (This said, mind you, your pic 6 rendition is really really cute!).

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Oh, Krish, thank you for that blast of hilarious honesty! You NAILED it!! So funny and so very true. 

    You're absolutely right -- the pieces themselves are not fab for me -- how the heck can I expect to feel great! 

    Oh well. Live and learn, right? 

    I cling to these silly pants because of the wonderful print. I just love it. I like the vest with other tops. The top, I don't love....but heck, it works okay over a tank and semi-tucked so I will keep it for the variety it affords me. 

    And I will think harder next time before I try to make a fab outfit from unfab pieces!! In English we say: "Can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear." 

    You got it. 

  • catgirl replied 6 years ago

    HAHAHA!  Krish's response is so perfect. 

    And yet, your struggles are my dreams!  Should I look fab THIS way or THIS way? Sheesh... 

    Keep the pants for tucking with tall boots, at least.  And the shell is adorable on you both lengths IMHO.

  • Caro in Oz replied 6 years ago

    Thanks Suz & krishnidoux. I will remember this thread every time I get dressed. I will remember this thread every time I get dressed. I will remember this thread every time I get dressed :) :)

    Suz could the pants be let down enough with a false hem? It isn't a difficult alteration :)

  • Beth Ann replied 6 years ago

    This is what I'd call "making 8 out of 7s."  That is, making an outfit that's better than it's parts.  We all have items like this in our wardrobes.  I have far too many, but I'm working on it!  I think you are doing well at being the boss of your clothes and love 1, 4 and 7.  Love you in a sleeveless high neck top!

    As much as I need to be pickier (and left the mall empty handed this afternoon, liking what I was already wearing far better), I watch out for "Gollum" dressing.  You know, "most precioussssssss......."   I try to think of only buying "fab" items that fit in my wardrobe, and passing on "good" things, or even "fab" things that won't work with what I've got.

  • Aida replied 6 years ago

    I quite like #4, and would turn up just the inner hem for a wee peek of skin (assuming it stays put with the light hem). Or perhaps just hem them to proper ankle length? You'd be able to wear them with booties for transitional weather and then with taller boots in the winter. Much prefer the sweater at the shorter more cropped length.

  • catgirl replied 6 years ago

    Look, Aida - you are doing the boot half-tuck I mentioned in another thread! 

    And Suz, have you ever done the tuck-under hem?  I sometimes do that with skinnies to temporarily shorten them - just tuck the hem under to the right length.

  • Firecracker replied 6 years ago

    Ah, an interesting lab post!
    I like the outfit with the Pliners. (I'm a bit biased, though, I imagine! ha ha) And the one you wore in the afternoon, without and with the cardi. I prefer the pants rolled and would wear them rolled with the Pliners, too.
    I thought the proportions on the tops was fine in #1. What I am not crazy about in the outfits with the Munros is the red-gray-red-gray pattern, looking up and down. It's like matchy gone wild or something. I think the pants are keepers--so cute on you. I would just accept that they are cropped, and wear them rolled or tucked into boots.

  • Aida replied 6 years ago

    Hehe Una, yes! I do it the way I showed, and will also sometimes do the opposite: tucking the inside half inside the boot and leaving the outside out.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Wow, so many great observations and suggestions. Thanks! 

    Aida, that is a fun way to wear the pants! These ones wouldn't do it, because they are so soft that they'd just collapse down. Una, I think that would be their fate if I tucked under, too. I do use that trick with my regular jeans sometimes if I want to adjust the length. But the fabric of these ones makes it tricky. They're not denim but this soft rayon stuff. 

    Sharan, LOL on the Pliner bias. Not to mention matchy-matchy gone wild. You are so right. I have to watch myself because I definitely have that tendency. I agree the more neutral footwear worked better. I think I get all excited about putting on the Munros since they are as comfy as slippers. 

    Caro, what the heck is a false hem and how do you make one? 

  • shevia replied 6 years ago

    My first choice was #4. Interested to see with the hem a little higher with all the options, although I don't know if that works in your climate. 

  • Elly replied 6 years ago

    I think that the shirt needs to either have more collar showing or no collar showing for this to work, I otherwise like the look, although the blouse could be a bit shorter for this look. You look great in the grey sweater and the pleione blouse. Are you happy with the quality and how they wash? Does the blouse wrinkle awfully? The color is gorgeous on you.

  • Caro in Oz replied 6 years ago


    You can let the pants down by the amount of the hem (the turn up on the wrong side) less what you need to attach the new fabric to the pants. It's best to use fabric of a similar weight to the garment not bias binding or similar as they don't wash as well.

  • CocoLion replied 6 years ago

    I love what you ended up wearing -- the shell, the neutral footwear, the rolled pants.

    As for the outfit lab -- I think it looks good actually.  I am craving seeing it with a higher heeled shoe or bootie for some reason, or maybe I'm just curious to see what that would look like.  

    Have you tried this shell with a shorter top underneath?

    ETA - And I think the pants look good too.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Sorry -- I couldn't get back to this right away -- and thank you for the insights and thoughts! 

    Denise, I think you're right that a higher heel might have helped the proportions of the outfit lab outfits. Not that I have any, except those cage sandals I ended up wearing, LOL. 

    Caro - thank you! Alas, it won't work -- the pants are already let down to literally a cm. hem. Attaching some fabric to that might help "weight" things a bit (which would be good) but it won't make them longer. I suspect the solution is just to hem to ankle length or roll -- or make up my mind that I've had three years' good wear out of them already and they've served their time. :) 

    Elly, the quality of the Pleione blouse is just fine I think. It does wrinkle a bit but the wrinkles fall out pretty easily, too. I iron it after hanging to dry. Agree that it might be a touch too long here -- I probably should have gone for a petite. 

    Shevia, yes, I could roll the pants a bit -- it's staying really warm so far. And until the temperatures change, I am keen to wear warm-weather looks! 

  • Day Vies replied 6 years ago

    I'm a little late adding my 2 cents, but I think the fit and proportion are perfect here. I even love the mix of textures and prints from the blouse to the sweater to the pants. I think the reason why you may not love it is the low contrast between the sweater and the blouse.

    I've realized that dark red/burgundy/maroon paired with black is a very moody combination and needs another lighter color (cream, white, or a metal among other possible pairings)  to make the combination pop. I'd play around with another shell/blouse color combination.

    Also you have FABULOUS arms. WOW!

  • unfrumped replied 6 years ago

    I like the pants and see why you pulled them from the dustbin.
    I like the vest at either length because I'm not sold on super-cropped.
    The Pliners are fab. Not sure why, the oxfords look off proportion-wise even though they can bookend your hair--look large somehow?
    I combine burgundy and black, too and agree sometimes I'm looking for something to lighten it up. White might not be moody enough, but a pale taupey blush if it didn't clash with the tones in the pants, might be fun and add the burgundy back via  the booties.
    Does the pullover feel fluid enough? I've just gone bonkers over how so many of my knits feel too tailored or fitted even ones I thought were sized up last year. Though, for the shell top look, the less-boxy style works to provide structure over a fluid shirt.

  • Caro in Oz replied 6 years ago

    Sounds like you are sorted - no false hem this time :)

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