Building a cohesive wardrobe

LogoI’ve written before about my 3Cs of fashion… classy, confident, and comfortable, but today I want to look at another C… cohesive. Cohesion could be the difference between a wardrobe that works and one that doesn’t, so what does this C word mean?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, cohesive means “united and working together effectively” and the Collins English Dictionary says that something that is cohesive “consists of parts that fit together well and form a united whole”. That sounds like a workable wardrobe to me!

So what makes a wardrobe cohesive? I would suggest two things… most of the tops work with most of the bottoms and the majority of the garments are versatile enough to be dressed up or down for a variety of venues and occasions.

How then do we build that cohesive wardrobe? Obviously, few of us can scrap our entire closet full of clothes and start from scratch, but begin by evaluating what you already have and then work toward making purchases that add cohesion.

  • If you haven’t already, define your personal style. I’ve written about how to use Pinterest to help you do that here.
  • Choose a colour palette. Build your basic wardrobe around a few colours that suit your complexion, that you feel drawn to, and that coordinate well with one another. This doesn’t have to be boring. Scarves and accessories are a great way to add pops of other colours. Pattern and texture also add variety.
  • Only buy pieces that will go with what you already own. Ask yourself, can I wear this at least three different ways with items that I already have in my closet? If so, it will probably be a good purchase. This may not work for something like a special occasion dress, but it’s a good rule of thumb for most other wardrobe purchases.

If you follow these simple suggestions, you’ll end up with a cohesive wardrobe that will make getting dressed in the morning easy and enjoyable. No more staring at a closet full of mismatched clothes and moaning about having nothing to wear!

Nothing to wear

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I’ve been thinking a lot about cohesiveness lately for two reasons. First of all, spring is finally coming to the Canadian prairie and I’ll soon be doing my seasonal wardrobe switch. As I bring out my spring/summer wardrobe, I’ll be looking at it with a critical eye and deciding where the gaps are and what I need to fill them with. Secondly, it’s less than two weeks until I’ll be packing that teeny tiny suitcase and flying off to Europe for three and a half weeks. This will be our first attempt at traveling with carry-on luggage only, so whatever goes into that one little suitcase is going to have to work well together!

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Choosing the shoes

LogoOne of my favourite fashion bloggers, Susan B of une femme d’un certain âge, frequently suggests that when you’re planning what to pack for a trip, you should start with the shoes. That hasn’t been my usual practice, but for our upcoming trip to Europe I thought perhaps I should follow her advice.

I firmly believe that the best way to see a city is on foot. We’re going to be visiting several cities and I expect that we’ll be doing a LOT of walking. Some of it will even be on cobblestone streets! Comfortable shoes are an absolute must. In fact, they’re probably the most important things we’ll take with us, so from the moment we started planning I’ve been thinking about which ones should go with me.

I have several pairs of trendy fashion sneakers, but they’re more about looks than long distance walking. I thought about taking my trusty Merrell hiking shoes, but they’re all about comfort on the trail and not very attractive to look at. No, I wanted something that was comfortable and supportive for all the walking we’ll be doing, but also nice looking. Nothing in my shoe collection seemed to fit the bill.

Then I wandered into a Payless closing out sale to see what was left on the shelves and there they were! A pair of Airwalk Speed Vitesse sneakers in rose gold!

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I was pretty sure I’d found my new travelling companions and it didn’t hurt that they were on sale for 30% off. Since buying them, I’ve worn them on two long walks and now I know for certain that I’ll be walking the streets of Europe in them. They definitely tick all the boxes for me! Comfortable, casual, and classy looking!

I’m hoping that there’s room for one or two other pairs of shoes in my teeny tiny carry-on suitcase, but if I had to go with only one pair, these ones would do the job.

Which Diane are you?

LogoBefore I begin, I want to give credit where credit is due. As I sat in doctor’s waiting room earlier this week, I came across the idea for this post in a recent issue of Zoomer magazine. “It’s time to embrace your inner Diane,” suggested veteran stylist, Susie Sheffman in an article written by Karen von Hahn. “There’s a Diane for every one of us, and all of them are inspiring.”

She was referring to Diane Keaton, Diane Sawyer, and Diane von Fürstenberg, all in their early 70s and all style icons in their own right. I’ve written before about choosing your own style icon, someone whose style you admire or whose outfits you love. So, is there a Diane for you?

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Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton is known for her quirky, androgynous style. She wears her menswear inspired suits with panache. Her signature style made its debut over 40 years ago with her starring role in “Annie Hall” but apparently the bowler hat that she wore in the movie came from her own closet. To this day she is often seen wearing a similar one.

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Diane Sawyer

American television journalist, Diane Sawyer, on the other hand, epitomizes classic, sophisticated style. Her tailored outfits are both figure-flattering and professional looking.

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Diane Von Fürstenberg

Flamboyant is the word that comes to mind when I think of Belgian fashion designer Diane Von Fürstenberg. Her taste is eclectic and colourful. Once married to a German prince, she could now be rightly called the queen of boho!

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So which Diane are you? Do you see yourself in any of them or is your style completely different? If I had to choose, I’d say that my style is closest to Diane Keaton’s but somewhat less extreme. I could see myself dressed as she is in this final photo and I love her hats, but I tend toward a more feminine look than she does.

Diane Keaton out and about, London, UK - 16 Jun 2016

We’re each one unique. It’s fun to get ideas and inspiration from other women, but in the end, love who you are and don’t try to be anyone else!

1000 posts!

When I launched Following Augustine in early December 2007, I didn’t expect the blog to still be going more than 11 years later and I certainly didn’t expect that I would ever write 1000 posts! According to WordPress, however, which keeps track of all sorts of interesting stats for me, this is it; my 1000th post!

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As many of you are aware, I started the blog to share the year that we spent teaching English in Japan with friends and family back home. Writing has always been a passion of mine and when that year was over I couldn’t simply let the blog die. In the ensuing years, Following Augustine has chronicled our travels to other parts of Asia including a full semester in China,  as well as trips across  Canada, to the USA, Israel, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Saipan. Soon it will be off to Europe!

When I started Following Augustine, I never dreamt that it would someday include a weekly fashion feature. In fact, I probably would have laughed out loud if someone had predicted that. I certainly didn’t visualize it recording a cancer journey either, but life takes unexpected twists and turns and the blog has faithfully followed mine through many ups and downs.

The blog is older than all five of my grandchildren. It has become so much a part of me that I can’t imagine life without it, but a blog is nothing without its readers and so today, hats off to those of you who have been with me since the beginning and also to those who have joined me along the way! I couldn’t have done it without you.

Photo of a woman silhouette taking off a hat. Taken in Riga, Latvia.

Onstage again!

Over my many years of involvement in community theatre one of the greatest joys for me has been sharing the stage with former students. Some of them even got their first taste of acting in my junior high drama classes. Never did I imagine, however, that I would someday act in a play written by one of them!

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❤  This photo absolutely warms my heart. On my right, is my former student Kelly Berg, author of Silent Jim, in his lead role of Marshall Henry Jackson. Standing on my left, in the role of Jesse Longstrand, the blacksmith, is a young man I’ve known since he was a preschooler. I taught him Sunday School back in those days!

Silent Jim is a western murder mystery with a mix of intensely serious moments and hilariously funny ones. Thursday evening was opening night. We performed again on Friday and have two more shows next weekend. Our cast of 23 ranges from preteen actors trying out the stage for the very first time to seasoned veterans like myself.

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Cast photo: Brenda Grove

I have a very small onstage role this year. In fact, I only have nine lines to deliver! Silent Jim is set in the small fictional town of Buffalo Skull in the American west in the late 1870s. In the original version, my character was a judge but, like any western, the play has a lot of roles for male actors and far fewer for females. We had to do a bit of adjusting. There were no female judges in the US in the 1870s, but the first female lawyer, Arabella Mansfield, was called to the Iowa bar in 1869. We could change our judge’s role to that of a lawyer and remain authentic to the time we were portraying. Our lady lawyer needed a name, however, and that’s an interesting side story.

One of the aspects of theatre that I absolutely love is the costuming, especially when we’re doing a period play. What would a lady lawyer have worn in the 1870s, I wondered. I turned to the internet in search of photos and as so often happens when I’m online, I ended up going down a variety of interesting and unrelated rabbit trails. One of them led me to an amazing find; my grandmother’s 1909 graduation photo from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia! 

Gran - Eliza Clara Walker - BA Dalhousie University 1909

Though the photo is apparently signed “Lizzie Walker. Dal. 09.” I know that Gran’s full maiden name was Eliza Clara Walker and that later in life she chose to use her middle name. Though hers wasn’t a law degree, there weren’t a lot of university educated women in her day and I thought it would be a wonderful idea to honour her memory by naming my character after her. My fellow thespians agreed and so I became Clara Walker, Esquire!

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In addition to my small onstage role, I also act as prompter for the first three quarters of the play. I was surprised to discover that I really enjoy that position as I’m fully involved in every moment of the show.

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Curtain call photo: Caity Moore, Clouded Creations

 

Spring jacket

LogoOne spring, many years ago, while shopping for something completely unrelated, I fell in love with a classic anorak in a light beige colour. At the time, I didn’t really need a new spring coat and I did my best to talk myself out of buying it. “I don’t need it,” I told myself. “It will show every speck of dirt,” I continued. My arguments were futile. The jacket insisted on coming home with me and I’m ever so glad it did. I’ve literally worn it until the collar and the cuffs are threadbare. It’s been through the washer innumerable times and always came out looking good.

As much as I still love that old jacket, by the end of last season I had to admit that it was time to begin thinking about a replacement. Then, about a month ago, I was sitting on a bench at the entrance to the fitting rooms in a Reitmans store in Red Deer waiting for my sister-in-law to try on a blouse when I glanced across the store and there it was!

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A classic anorak is a lightweight jacket, long enough to cover the hips and typically with a hood, that protects the wearer against wind and rain; perfect for spring and fall in our part of the world. With a drawstring at the waist, it’s roomy enough to wear over a sweater on chillier days, but can be snugged in for a more fitted look if desired.

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My jacket came in navy and this lovely olive green, both colours that are very much on trend this spring. I don’t know if it will last as long as its predecessor did, but I’m certainly enjoying wearing it now that our weather is finally warming up and the last bits of snow are quickly disappearing!

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