Stuck between the seasons

Logo by SamWhen we arrived home from our recent trip to the coast, I thought that I would be doing my seasonal closet switch right away. I expected spring to have arrived while we were gone. I looked forward to putting away my winter wardrobe and bringing out my spring/summer clothes. I anticipated trying things on and making a shopping list as I know that there are some gaps that need to be filled and pieces that need to be replaced. None of that has happened! Instead, we seem to be stuck between the seasons! One minute it looks and feels like spring; but the next thing we know, the wind is howling and it’s snowing again! I know I’m not the only one who’s had enough of this!

I think the transition is going to have to be a gradual one this year. So far, I’ve put my winter coat, my boots, and my heaviest sweaters into storage and I brought out two pairs of chinos that are warmer than shorts or capris, but cooler than jeans. Today, I think I’ll go through the rest of my winter wardrobe and weed out those things that need to go. This requires discipline as I tend to hang onto things longer than I should!

The first thing I’ll do is check the hangers. Every time I put a new season’s clothes into the closet, I turn all the hangers around. Then, when I wear an item, I turn it’s hanger back the right way. At the end of the season, if an item is still hanging backwards, it’s a clear signal that I need to consider whether or not to keep it.

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Unlike those who advise getting rid of anything that hasn’t been worn during the current season or in the past year, I sometimes keep items that are excellent quality or that I love even if I haven’t worn them for quite awhile. Eventually, I enjoy resurrecting some of those pieces and wearing them again. There are some, however, that simply need to go. If they no longer fit well or I don’t actually enjoy wearing them, they’re destined for the second-hand store or an online buy and sell group.

It was snowing when I started writing this, but sunny and bright when I finished! The weather forecast is promising even better things for the next week or so. Maybe we’re finally becoming unstuck and I’ll be able to do the remainder of my seasonal wardrobe switch before next Friday. Maybe. I sure hope so!

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Transitioning to fall

LogoHow do you dress for this golden shoulder season known as autumn? I saw a headline this week that read, “It’s wear a sweater in the morning and regret it in the afternoon weather!” That pretty much sums up fall in my part of the world. When we get up in the morning, the temperature is generally hovering just above 0°C (32°F) and there might be frost on the ground, but by afternoon it has warmed up to anywhere between 18° and 25°C (64° and 77°F).

While running errands early one afternoon this week, I decided to take note of what other people were wearing. A man, sitting in front of the post office reading his mail, was wearing shorts, sandals, and a heavy fleece vest over his t-shirt! That kind of incongruous outfit isn’t as unusual as you might think. I also saw one woman wearing a quilted coat and a toque while another was working in her yard in shorts and a t-shirt!

In spite of this confusion, I decided that it was time to begin my seasonal wardrobe switch this week. Since I found myself reaching for the warmer items in my closet every morning and the true hot weather pieces were no longer seeing the light of day, I knew it was time to put most of those away and bring out my fall/winter pieces.

If you live where the weather is more uniform year round, you probably don’t have to go through this twice a year ritual, and I guess if I had a bigger closet I might not have to either. As it is, however, it’s much easier to have only one season’s clothes to choose from every morning and these seasonal switchovers are an excellent time to evaluate and decide what to keep and what to get rid of.

So, how do I go about doing that? Unlike some who advise getting rid of anything that hasn’t been worn during the current season or in the past year, I sometimes hang onto items that are excellent quality or that I love even if I haven’t worn them for quite awhile. Over the years, I’ve occasionally enjoyed resurrecting some of those items and have even shared a few of them here on the blog. This time, however, I knew that there were things in my summer closet that simply had to go. This required discipline because some were pieces that I really liked, but they were too worn out to keep or to pass on to anyone else. Others that don’t fit well or that I no longer enjoy wearing are destined for the second-hand store.

As I put the new season’s clothes into the closet, I turn all the hangers around. Then, when I wear an item, I turn it’s hanger back the right way. At the end of the season, if an item is still hanging backwards, it’s a clear signal that I need to consider whether or not to keep it.

There are, of course, some items that stay in my closet year round including sleeveless tops that can be worn alone in summer or under sweaters and jackets when the weather is cooler. This time, I also left a couple of pairs of favourite capri pants for those 25° afternoons. They won’t stay there all winter, but for now, we’re still transitioning!

Clothing that endures

LogoThis week, I finally had to admit that fall is here (actually, it has been for awhile) and that it was time to do my seasonal closet switch. As I put away my spring/summer wardrobe and brought out fall/winter, I thought about the fact that some of the pieces have been with me for a very long time while others have come and gone. 

What makes an item an enduring one? I think there are several factors. I’m going to use some photos from previous Fashion Friday posts to explain. The date below each picture is a link to the original post that it appeared in. 

Believe it or not, everything that you see in this photo is still in my wardrobe, but it’s the grey and white Breton striped t-shirt that I want to focus on today. Purchased at Reitmans, it wasn’t new four and a half years ago when this photo was taken, but it continues to be a workhorse in my wardrobe for two important reasons. First, it’s a classic piece, not a trend that looks dated after a season or two. Second, it’s good quality. It’s been worn countless times and has stood up to many, many washings. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it was expensive. In fact, it wasn’t. I have t-shirts that are much newer than this one and that cost significantly more that are starting to sag around the neckline. I know that this well-loved piece won’t last forever though, so I’m already watching for something similar to replace it with when it finally wears out.

Animal prints are amongst those things that never seem to go out of style. They’re like neutrals with a bolder twist. Another reason that some items, including this one, stay in my wardrobe for many years is fit. I have the good fortune to have maintained a fairly steady weight throughout my adult life, so changing size hasn’t been an issue for me, but like most post-menopausal women, there’s a little more me around the middle than there used to be. This t-shirt’s body skimming fit doesn’t cling and disclose those bulges. 

Here’s another animal print that has passed the test of time. I have no idea how long I’ve had it, but I’m sure that it’s more than 20 years old! It spent several of those years in storage before I decided to resurrect it a couple of years ago. I try to adhere to the wisdom of getting rid of things that I haven’t worn in the past year or two, but once in awhile a well-loved piece takes up long term residence on the hanging rack at the back end of our storage room and waits for a day when it might brought back into circulation.

The popularity of plaid seems to wax and wane a bit from season to season, but like stripes, animal prints, florals, and polka dots, it’s a timeless pattern. The fact that this shirt is very well made is another reason to keep it in my closet year after year. Look how perfectly the pattern lines up across the front. That’s always a sign of good construction. In addition, there’s a hidden button at the bust line that completely eliminates the possibility of gaping. Again, quality doesn’t have to be expensive. I got this one for $3 at the thrift store! 

This simple lace overlay dress has been in my closet year round for about six years. It’s my little black dress that isn’t black. It’s an excellent traveller and can easily be dressed up or down. In fact, here it is dressed down with sneakers and another classic piece that I’ve had for years, a basic jean jacket. 

So, again, what makes an item an enduring one? Timeless pattern and style, good quality, good fit, versatility, and perhaps most important of all, it has to be something that you love and that you don’t grow tired of!

Do you have anything that’s been in your closet for a very long time? Do you still wear it? Please tell us about it in the comments section.   

Scarves, scarves, scarves!

LogoFall is a beautiful season, but bittersweet because it means that our long, cold winter is just around the corner. At this time of year, I’m always reluctant to put my summer clothes away because I keep hoping that there will be a few more truly warm days and that I’ll still need them. Realistically, however, the days are getting shorter and cooler and I’m wearing mostly transitional pieces. While I haven’t switched my closet from spring/summer to fall/winter yet, I have started making some small moves in that direction. A few summer clothes that weren’t used at all this year have already been dropped off at the thrift store and this week, in preparation for fall, I decided to take a serious look at my scarf collection. 

IMG_1449I have a few warm, wooly scarves for outdoor wear in the depths of winter, but for this exercise, I was addressing only what I’d call my fashion scarves. I started by gathering them all together in one place. There were infinity scarves, rectangular scarves, square scarves, and even a few very tiny scarves. There were animal prints, polka dots, stripes, and a variety of other patterns. As you can see, there were lots of earth tones, some blues, greens, and greys, and a few pops of other colours. For a woman who doesn’t wear scarves very often, I seem to have a lot of them! A couple were gifts and a couple belonged to my mother-in-law before she passed away, but I picked up the vast majority of them at the local thrift stores over the past few years. Some I’ve never actually worn! It was time to decide which ones to keep and which ones to move along. A scarf doesn’t take up much space, but getting dressed is so much easier when your wardrobe is pared down to only those items that will actually be worn.  

I decided to start by separating my scarf collection into three piles… ones I’ve worn regularly in the past, ones I don’t wear and probably never will, and ones I’d like to wear but haven’t figured out how yet. This method can actually work well for everything in your closet, but for now I was focusing only on scarves. The don’t wear pile was set aside for my next trip to the thrift store. Hopefully someone else will enjoy those ones. Next, I went through the favourites pile and took a closer look at each of them. One of them was badly worn with lots of little catches in the fabric. It was time to let that one go too. The rest of that group went into my closet on handy scarf hangers purchased at the dollar store. 

Over the next while as I do the rest of my seasonal closet switch, I’ll play around with the final few; the scarves that I like but haven’t quite figured out how to wear with my existing wardrobe. Hopefully they’ll result in some new looks for fall. 

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And finally, here’s my newest scarf. Infinity scarves are so easy to wear and when I saw this one in the thrift store last week, I knew immediately that it would look great with a jean jacket, in this case a basic one from Gap that’s been in my closet for several years. Perfect for an early fall day! 

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Look what I found!

LogoEvery spring and fall when I do my seasonal closet switch, there are decisions to be made about what to put away for the following year and what to get rid of. At the beginning of each season, I turn all the hangers in my closet around. If the hanger is still turned at the end of the season, I know that that item was never worn and that I should think about shipping it off to the second-hand store. This year is a little different though. We had such a non-summer here in Alberta that there are more unturned hangers than usual. There simply weren’t enough truly warm days to wear all my summer clothes!

Sometimes there are items in my closet that I haven’t worn for a long time that I can’t bear to part with. Those go into storage and sometimes they remain there for several years. Eventually some of them come back into circulation. I’ve shared a few of those on the blog before and today I’m going to show you one that’s coming out of hibernation this fall.

In a recent post about wearing black and brown with confidence, Pam Lutrell of Over 50 Feeling 40, shared this outfit.

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The Eileen Fisher jacket, which had apparently been in her closet for a long time, immediately brought to mind a similar one that I used to wear. I knew that it would look great over my new zebra top, but did I still have it? I couldn’t remember for sure! It was a much loved piece, gifted to me by my very generous sister-in-law. Surely, I wouldn’t have gotten rid of it. I went looking and sure enough, there it was, just waiting to be resurrected!

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I used to wear a lot of brown. So much so that I eventually tired of it. Now that brown is so on-trend again and I’ve had a nice long break from it, I’m definitely ready to put this piece back into circulation.

Though the jacket is old, you may have noticed something brand new in my photo… my haircut, fresh from the hairdresser! Now that summer is pretty much over and I don’t need to be able to put it in a ponytail to golf, it was time for a shorter do.

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How do you decide which garments to keep and which to get rid of?

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!

Preparing for seasonal transition with a new neutral

LogoIf you’re like me, you probably find it easy to reach into your closet and pull out the same combinations over and over again, but once in awhile I like to put things together in new and different ways. That’s what I’ve done today.

 

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I’m not quite ready to put away my summer wardrobe and bring out my fall and winter wear, but the days are definitely getting cooler. Now’s the time for transitional pieces. Instead of capris and shorts, I’m back in jeans most days. These ones are the Brick Dust Skinny from cabi’s Spring 2018 collection. I’ve been trying to add more colour to my wardrobe and these have definitely done that. The wonderful thing about this pinkish orange colour is that it actually works like a neutral pairing well with lots of other colours and looking good on everyone. I look forward to building lots of different outfits with these pants as my base.

Today I’m wearing the Brick Dust Skinny with a basic black t-shirt from Uniqlo and an old, very well-loved cotton shirt that I bought in Japan many years ago. The colour has faded a little over time, but I love the soft muted olive. Another neutral, olive is particularly flattering to those with warm undertones and it also teams well with many other colours.

Accessories always finish an outfit and I love the way the colours in my bracelet pull this look together. I’m wearing white sneakers for a casual vibe, but I could easily dress the outfit up a bit with a different pair of shoes.

Unfortunately, cabi’s Brick Dust Skinny is no longer available, but this season’s High Skinny in a lovely grey called Smoked Pearl is essentially the same pant. I may have to add it to my closet! If you’re dying for a pair in the Brick Dust colour, Uniqlo has something similar here.  They call the colour Brown, but it looks pretty close to me.

How many is too many?

LogoI’m a little later than usual posting my weekly fashion piece today as I spent yesterday afternoon driving an hour each way to see my dentist instead of working on it. Thankfully, the tenderness and lump on my gum didn’t turn out to be an abscess as I feared it might and I won’t require extensive dental work! I’m also thankful that I don’t have to drive anywhere today. After listening to the wind howl all night we woke up to another dump of fresh snow. If you’re wondering why I’ve been complaining so much about this never ending winter, here’s a visual…

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March 20, 2017

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This morning… March 23, 2018

We’ve been golfing as early as April 8th, but this year I think we’ll still be snowshoeing! Hoping that spring will eventually come, I dug into the back of our entryway closet this week and took a look at my collection of warm weather jackets. I knew there were quite a few back there, but even I was surprised to find 23 of them! 23! Who needs 23 spring and summer jackets? Some are dressy, some are casual, and some are worn only for camping, but still, 23? At the very most, I can wear them for about 6 months of the year and I would hope that at least half that time I won’t need a jacket at all, so 23? That’s ridiculous! Obviously, this is the year to pare down that collection.

So, let’s take a closer look. What was in that closet?

  • 3 blue jean jackets
  • 1 grey denim with ruffles
  • 3 other cotton twill jackets (1 dark brown, 1 white, 1 patterned)
  • 4 leather jackets (1 black, 1 dark brown, 1 red, 1 white)
  • 1 faux leather 
  • 2 windbreakers
  • 1 fleece lined windbreaker
  • 2 quilted jackets (1 pale yellow, 1 olive green)
  • 1 anorak (so old that it’s back in style again!)
  • 3 hoodies (1 pink, 1 blue, 1 black)
  • 1 navy polar fleece
  • 1 trench coat

Just so you know that I’m not as big a spender as this makes me sound, all but 4 of these were either thrifted or gifted.

My question for today is how, when faced with a collection like this, will I decide what to keep and what to get rid of? Let’s begin by looking at trends. What do I have that fits with this season’s top looks? Three trends that I didn’t mention in last week’s post are anoraks, trench coats, and ruffles. Though I’ve had my light beige anorak for many years and I’ve worn it a lot, it’s still in very good condition and I still like it, so it will definitely stay. Though there are many versions of the classic trench coat available this season, they tend to be knee length or longer and quite roomy. Mine is shorter, almost a long jacket, and close fitting. It’s a bit snug on me and its one of those things that I actually think looks better on the hanger than it does on me. Trend or not, it will probably go. I had been thinking about getting rid of the grey denim jacket, but when I realized how trendy ruffles are this season, I decided to hang onto it for at least one more year.

Another important consideration is fit. When I featured my blue jean jackets a couple of weeks ago, I realized that one of them doesn’t fit as well as the other two. Since no woman really needs 3 blue jean jackets, that one will go.

Perhaps the best question to ask myself is which of these jackets do I love? Which ones will I actually wear often enough to make it worth keeping them? Brown used to be a staple in my wardrobe, but over the past few years, my love affair with brown has waned. Now I gravitate toward other neutrals instead. That means that the 2 dark brown jackets can probably go. One of the windbreakers hasn’t been worn for ages, so it should go too.

So far, that eliminates 5 jackets from the list, but 18 remain. In my mind, 18 is still way too many! What do you think? How many is too many and how do you suggest I choose a few more to get rid of?

 

Transitions

LogoI live on the Canadian prairie where we have very distinct seasons. As a result, I have two distinct wardrobes, summer and winter. Sadly, it will soon be time to pack away my shorts, capris, and all my other warm weather gear and prepare for the cold months ahead, but tucked in between summer and winter are the shoulder seasons, spring and fall. Times of transition. What do you wear when it’s 5ºC (41ºF) first thing in the morning and 30ºC (86ºF) that same afternoon? That’s the kind of weather we’ve been having this week and that’s why there are some pieces that stay in my closet year round.

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My new Graph Blouse from Cabi will be one of them. Though it’s from the Fall 2017 Collection, it’s floaty layers make it a perfect stand alone item for summer days and warm autumn afternoons.

To ward off the morning chill, I’ll simply add one of the lightweight cardigans that spend the summer at the back of my closet. As long as my shoulders and upper body are warm, I’m comfortable.

When winter arrives (I hate to think of it!), the Graph Blouse, tucked in or worn loose as shown here, will continue to serve me well under warmer sweaters and jackets.

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Spring is in the air!

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 11.07.24 PM 3Spring is coming to the Canadian prairie. The geese are back, the gophers have come out of hibernation and there are tiny sprouts appearing in my flower beds. Soon it will be time to put away our winter wardrobes and bring out spring and summer clothing. This is also a good time to take a look at what to keep for another season and what to dispose of, but how do we decide?

One suggestion that has worked well for me is to turn every hanger in your closet backwards at the beginning of each new season. Then, as you wear each item, turn it’s hanger back the right way. At season’s end, it’s easy to see which items, if any, have not been worn at all. Those should, of course, be the first to go. If you happen to live in a part of the world that doesn’t experience seasonal change, you could simply do this once every six months or even just once a year.

The next question is what to do with the items that you’ll no longer be wearing. Unless they are too worn to be of use to someone else, they can be sold or given away. Gently used, quality clothing and designer fashions can be sold through consignment stores that keep a percentage of the sale price in return for their services. In addition, there are many online buy and sell sites available. You can most likely find one or more of these in your local area. There are also thrift stores, women’s shelters and other charities that are happy to accept clean used clothing.

Before you get rid of a piece of clothing that you haven’t worn recently, you might want to consider whether or not it’s a classic item; one that won’t quickly go out of style that you might want to reintroduce into your wardrobe at some point in the future. The single breasted grey blazer pictured below is such an item. Until recently, it hadn’t been out of my closet since I retired from teaching several years ago. Now, it’s almost like having something new again!

The end of the season, before clothing is put away, is also a good time to check for minor repairs that might be needed. Are there any loose buttons that need to be secured or hems that are coming down? Make sure everything is clean before putting it away. This is a good time to have dry cleaning done so that everything is ready to wear when you take it out of storage again.

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My dark wash Old Navy jeans are new, but the blouse, originally from Reitmans, and the belt were purchased at the Good As New, our small town thrift store.

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At 5 foot 8 inches, I’m about 2 inches taller than my husband. Although he says he doesn’t mind me wearing heels, I feel more comfortable in flats. This pair was purchased at Payless last October using my birthday discount.

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I like the versatility of wearing something more than one way. My question for you today is, do you prefer these looks belted or not?

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 It snowed again after these photos were taken, so it’s a good thing that I haven’t put my winter clothes away yet. It won’t be long though. Spring is in the air!