Monday, 15 May 2017

Office Wear for the Summer: Informal but Pulled Together

Summer Work Style: Casual Choices

Closet Content Analysis: Casual Separates for Easy-Going Office Wear

NICE, NO THANKS, NOTE-WORTHY, NEED & NECESSARY

NICE: "Informal but pulled together" or "casual elegant" are probably the best style profiles one can choose for the summer. A t-shirt under a jacket or blazer with a skirt, pants or knee-length shorts can be the outfit of choice for any office job.

NO THANKS: Especially in the summer, many will dress too informally and then be caught embarrassingly underdressed when an unplanned meeting with an important client arises. I do know of some young execs who wear jeans and a tank top to the office during the summer and dress up if they have a meeting. In fact one young corporate type claims to keep a "suit" at the office specifically for such occasions. Comme vous voulez (as you want).

NOTE-WORTHYIf you work in a professional office you need to be well-groomed and well put together. Designer head to toe is not recommended unless you are in the fashion industry. Bank employees, depending on who their clients are, need to be particularly mindful. If you are serving a couple worried about mortgage payments, you will dress differently than if your clients are corporate entities with nose-bleed high assets.

Anne Fontaine Levana shirt
Photo Source: Anne Fontaine
NEED: Everyone needs a relatively simple blouse/shirt. In the summer, the tailored shirt can be replaced with a good quality dense cotton t-shirt. The fabric weight is important since you do not want a see-through gauzy fabric unless of course, you wear a simple camisole under it. But that just adds to the bulk, so go for an opaque finish and you will feel cooler. You can finish dressing in record time and you look more professional in a tailored shirt or blouse and pants, skirts or knee-length walking shorts. Even if it is casual Fridays, you need to look professional and a pencil skirt instead of pants or walking shorts accomplishes that.




Striped Smythe Blazer. Photo Source: Lyst

NECESSARY: A blazer is necessary. Everyone has a simple blouse/shirt and skirt, pants or walking shorts. You can finish the look and crossover to professional with the simple addition of a blazer. This Smythe blue-striped Duchess blazer would be perfect for the summer. It's on my wish list.












Check out what I have written before on the topic of "casual clothing":
Comfortable Casual or Business Attire
Summer Office Wear - What is Too Casual?
What is "Comfortable Casual"?
Knee-Length Shorts at Work and Play
Defining Casual Clothing
What Kind of Comfortable?












Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Bridesmaids' Dresses from the Past: Thoughts to Consider

It may be spring but brides who are getting married in the fall and winter are choosing the dresses for their attendants. Although styles are certainly different, each of these stories may give the 2017 bride something to think about when considering bridesmaids' dresses. One needs to consider  many factors including body type, even personality, when choosing a dress for someone else.

Bridesmaids Dresses: Flattering or Fattening Choices

Closet Content Analysis: Post-Wedding Possibilities

NICE & NO THANKS


NICE: It was the late 80s and the wedding was held over the Christmas holiday season. The bride chose a Victorian theme for the maids' attire. She bought dark green velvet for the skirts, told us to have a skirt sewn in whatever style was becoming to our figures (the length had to be mid-calf) and then she took us to a shop that sold Victorian style blouses. We bought what we wanted, each blouse being different but still in that Victorian style. Thematically we were the same but we all had different skirt styles and blouse details. We carried holly and white magnolias (albeit artificial). Insofar as dress goes, it was the most beautiful bridal party I ever was part of. I wore that blouse many times after (with jeans and to work under a blazer) and although velvet is not my favourite fabric, I did wear the skirt to my mother's house during the holiday season a few times and once out for a New Year's party.

I still think that dresses or an outfit in the same fabrics and colours, with a theme that ties them together, but in styles that complement each maids' figures is more beautiful than choosing one dress style that everyone has issues with.

I'm your friend. Why are you doing this to me?

NO THANKS 1: to Little Bo Beep bridesmaids' dresses. A friend relayed this 1970s' bridesmaid's story. She was asked to be a "maid of honour" for a friend in southern Ontario. The bride came from old money and so my friend, the maid of honour, believed the dresses would be more elegant than the Bo Peep bridal suggestions that were popular at the time. She told the bride that she would be "honoured" but "mind the Bo Peep style". You know how the story ends. The maids' dresses honoured no one but Little Bo Peep.

NO THANKS 2: On the other end of the continuum is the over the top sexy dress. It was the 90s and the bridesmaids were asked to wear slits up to there showing cleavage down to there. What was the bride thinking? Two of us said no because of the dress. I guess you could accuse us of not being true friends. But at the same time, what kind of friend would expect you to wear something that was not only uncomfortable but also embarrassing?

NO THANKS 3: Another bridesmaids' story from three decades ago concludes in the same way as NO THANKS 1. I was asked to be a "maid of honour" for an "older" bride and I too believed that because she was "older" the dresses would be more elegant, not so cutesy. I too said I would be honoured but I didn't want a bow on my butt. This story ends the same way. My size 4 backend was magnified with a gathered drop waist  and a huge bow on the behind. The shiny stiff satin fabric in teal didn't help either. Each of us wore a different colour - a turquoise-y teal, fuchsia and a deep green. "Garish" is a good word. I'll let you imagine what the young woman who was a size 12 said about the dress.

None of the NO THANKS dresses ever saw the light of day again. What a waste! 

Hit the ___Comments to tell us about the NICE and NO THANKS bridesmaids' dresses from your past - whether you were wearing them or just an innocent bystander.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Spring Choices: Sandals or Flats

Flip Flops and Flats: Summery Choices

Closet Content Analysis: the Best Shoes for a Carefree Summer

NEW

Brian Davis is ready for spring and summer. If you do not know, he is my resident male ballet flats expert and he not only knows Tory Burch flats, he owns more than I can keep track of. But there are three new acquisitions in Brian's flats closet and he is definitely ready to strut.


Tory Burch Sandals and matching Polish. Photo Source: Brian Davis
First on the list for spring footwear is not so much the footwear as the foot. Get a pedicure or give yourself a pedicure. Of course it is much nicer if you book a relaxing pedicure, at least the first one of the season. I had one a couple of weeks ago and I am usually happy but this time, the little details were just off. It cost me $99.00 + taxes (the sale price for a $130.00 Thai pedicure) and I was not so impressed with this salon's interpretation of the procedure or with the technician. My goal this summer may be to experience the perfect pedicure.

Brian did the same but he was much more adventuresome than me. Sometimes, Brian does what I only think about doing - in this case, lime green polish would have been a passing thought for me. Good on you, Brian.

Of course Brian's sandal choices come from the Tory Burch collection and I have lusted after these particular sandals but had a hard time getting over the price. To me, no matter the designer, sandals should not cost that much. Brian is a diehard for Tory Burch so the price of the flip flops doesn't seem to be an issue for him. In fact he bought two pairs, red and green.

Red Tory Burch sandals. Photo Source: Brian Davis, 2017
But there is another pair of ballet flats in my favourite colours for the summer, blue and white, that Brian bought this spring.


Tory Burch blue and white logo ballet flats. Photo Source: Brian Davis, 2017
Now these would be perfect for me and I wouldn't even mind paying full retail price. 







Thursday, 27 April 2017

It's All About the Fit: 5 Reveals to Know When it Doesn't

A Fitting Choice

Closet Content Analysis: Underwear, Shoulder Seams and Waistline

 NO THANKS  - MAKE IT NICE

I've written about "fit" before but it seems to be a recurring theme when writing a clothing blog.

Most people associate comfort with oversized clothing yet when it comes to style, comfort and look, it is all about the fit. If t-shirts should not be tight, then they should be loose, but how loose? Fitted loose. Fitted loose? What in the world is fitted loose? 


Here's my definition of fitted loose: shoulder seams sit on the shoulders, and sleeves and body are wide enough to allow for breathing space but not baggy. You should not have the sensation of fabric clinging to your skin. Yet, t-shirts should not drape unless of course the design is such that it is made to do so. They also should not be so tight as to see every roll or every muscle, as the case may be. Although I can understand why, if you had abdominal muscles that were that pronounced, you would want to wear a tight t-shirt.

Make it NICE

It seems rather simplistic to have to explain when clothing is too tight or too baggy or just misplaced, but just in case, you want a quick check list, change your clothing into something that fits  . . . 


Photo Source: Office Glam
NO THANKS: 1. if underwear or the lack thereof is producing lumps and bumps that shouldn't be there; or perhaps I could say, over-emphasizing what in fact is there. It seems to be a worldwide problem as articulated by Aclyne Njiraini from Kenya in the post, Undercover Operation on her blog, Office Glam. Clothing should fall or lay smoothly on the body even if your underwear doesn't. Mind you, good fitting underwear is the best starting point. By the way, the front can be as revealing as the rear.
2. if shoulder seams are laying halfway down your arm. It's too big and therefore it's sloppy. Shoulder seams should be where your shoulders are. A raglan sleeve is different but even that sleeve has a fit to it. Of course, you can sleep in your boyfriend's t-shirt but don't venture out in it. 
3. if you have forgotten where your waist is - a waist is a waist irrespective of its girth. Healthfully for women it should not be more than 31 inches or 80 cm around and for men 37 inches or 94 cm is the guideline. When fitting pants or skirts, do not rise too much above it or go too far below it. Low rise jeans have had their day and anyone who wears their trousers midway down their buttocks, near to their chests or under their bellies are all in need of "waistband re-analysis".
4. if you are tugging some piece of clothing down, up or across. Obviously that item is too short, too plunging or too something. If you are tugging at it when looking in the mirror, then you will unconsciously be tugging at it when you are out. Adjusting your clothing from sitting to standing is acceptable but adjusting because of self-consciousness is not.
5. if the buttons on your shirt are straining and puckering the cloth across your chest from the pull. Physics is at work here and the shirt is just too tight. There is nothing to advise but find another shirt that fits, meaning the buttons lay flat and there are no extra puckers or ripples.
Don't get hung up on numbers (sizes), just wear what fits well.

Even the most inexpensive outfit will look good if the fit is perfect and the most expensive designer clothing will look shabby if it doesn't fit. 

Focus on fit for the next while and you will discover a sophistication you might not have thought you had in addition to just feeling comfortable in your clothes (as well as your skin).


Monday, 24 April 2017

The Economics of Dressing Well: 5 Rules to Consider when Shopping

How many designer handbags does someone need?

How many pairs of shoes will you wear in the next 3 years?

How many bracelets, pairs of earrings, dresses, blue jeans, t-shirts . . .you fill in the blank . . . will be enough?

When it comes to creating a useful wardrobe most of us take a down-to-earth attitude. It really does not matter what your price point entry happens to be. There are those who will spend $10,000.00 on a new spring wardrobe and those who will spend less than $200.00 to round out what they might already own. To be well dressed requires detailed planning, culling and replacing with thought. You do not have to spend a huge amount, you just have to spend wisely.


5 Shopping Rules for Dressing Well:

Cobalt Smythe "Duchess" blazer
Photo Source: ShopSmythe
1. Select new clothing that will have a long shelf life. Imagine yourself wearing your chosen item in 5 years. Will you be able to do it? The last piece of clothing I purchased was a Smythe blazer in cobalt. I like shades of blue, I love blazers and Smythe is a great brand. Will I be wearing it in five years? As long as I don't gain 20 pounds I believe I will.

2. Judiciously splurge! Smart choices are not the cheapest choices. A "Duchess" Smythe blazer will cost you $600.00 (Cdn) at full price retail. If you wear it three times a month for the next 5 years, it will have cost you $3.33 per wear. When you first buy it, you will be wearing it more often and the older it gets, the less you will wear it so three times a month is an estimated average over five years. 

3. Watch for sales and be prepared to buy the classics. I bought my "Duchess" Smythe blazer on sale and with taxes it cost me $320.00. Essentially my cost per wear just went down to about $1.76 per wear at 3 times a month for the next 5 years. A designer dress that seems to be a "steal" for $200.00 is not a bargain if you only wear it once over the next five years.


"Flirt" Lancel Handbag purchased June, 2011
Photo by JoyD.
4. Set limits. Be a wardrobe strategist and set limits on your buying. You know what you can afford. Spend the most you can afford on the best in that price range. When I am in Europe, I have a 250 Euro limit on handbags. The last time I paid full price for a designer Lancel bag was when I bought my Lancel flirt and that was in 2011. Over the past six years that bag has cost me 16.60 Euro per month. Now I have two more Lancel bags that I intersperse with the "flirt" but they both were purchased at the Lancel outlet store in Romans-sur-Isere, France on sale to lessen even the original discounted price, The cost per wear index is considerably better now that I have set a limit to how much I spend and I am still carrying Lancel bags.


Blue Lancel Handbag purchased Summer 2016.
Photo by JoyD.
5. Know your style and what role an item of clothing will play in your lifestyle. Knowing your style is the key to smart clothing economics. If you have a clear sense of what works for you and you know that you will wear an item often, you will make savvy clothing investments.

And remember what Vivienne Westwood said, "Buy less, choose well."







Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Best Dressed Lists - No Thanks

For the most part, best dressed lists do not mean much to me. Who makes those "best dressed" lists? It doesn't seem to have anything to do with being well-dressed but rather who you are and where you go and where you are seen.

Recently I perused Calgary's Avenue magazine featuring their best dressed choices. The clothing and accessories ranged from a blouse from Urban Outfitters, a dress bought from a consignment online store, the-upside.ca, shoes purchased at Aldo and Chanel, items from Holt Renfrew and the Bay to earrings bought at the Women in Need Society Thrift Store. The NICE in this list was the variety and range of clothing. High-end designers were visible but not on everyone illustrated. The ages ranged from 20/30 somethings to 50+somethings. There were four men and seven women, and one couple which actually made it the 11 Best Dressed in Calgary for 2017. Although I appreciated the variety and neutrality of clothing bought at Urban Outfitters and the Bay, I didn't see the "best" in this list. If this is the "best", the eccentric meets "the best" criteria as well as the mediocre. I do commend those who mix the likes of H&M and designer choices in one ensemble.

Harper's Bazaar has a weekly best dressed list. Weekly? This weekly best dressed list again smacks of mediocrity and only focuses on celebrities that need the media attention. I suppose Harper's plays the role but really identifying people who they claim to be best dressed when they are simply dressed has lessened my opinion this endeavour. With that, the weekly Harper's best dressed list has gotten old for me. Like I said, it's a dressed list but not necessarily a "best" dressed list. It is just like any other posting of what a particular celebrity is wearing in a particular week.

The judgement required to value someone as best dressed is so subjective it can not be worth anything to anyone. It may have some entertainment value but in my opinion that is all. Perhaps, if there was a rationale by the adjudicator of what and why he or she considered the clothing the best or why the person who is wearing the clothing should be so designated. 

My mother's words come back to haunt me - If you are going to be critical, be prepared to provide a better "widget", idea or plan of action.

OK mom, I now have no other choice but to start working on this blog's 2017 Best Dressed List or perhaps a Well Dressed List. Yes that's it, A Well Dressed List.

Best dressed lists - still a NO THANKS - but now maybe a Well-Dressed List can replace the "best".


Thursday, 13 April 2017

Marketing Clothing Sales Alternatives

NO THANKS: If I know that a company is Multi-level marketing, I seldom buy. Prices have to be inflated to compensate for the tiered payout system in place. Recently a friend was invited to a CAbi home sales party and she asked my opinion. Just knowing that it is MLM was enough for me to say, NO THANKS. She went online to do some research and came to the conclusion that perhaps when the company was first started by Carol Anderson, the quality was there but now the company has been sold and the new management is milking the old model with new cutbacks, which essentially means the quality is jeopardized. How many Tupperware purchases have been made just so that you don't offend the hostess? Whenever one feels coerced there is a problem and that can be the greatest reason not to go to a "party".

NOTE-WORTHY: Online buying can be likened to the "olden days" of catalogue buying. Two important differences are choice and speed of response. In Canada, the old Eaton's and Simpon's Sears companies offered catalogue shopping as a convenience in much the same way as online shopping offers that type of convenience now. Catalogues are still produced albeit more as promotional "lookbooks" to help make purchase choices. Both methods are plagued with difficulties in "return policies" and no matter how "easy" the ability to return is, a return is still a pain.

Online buying is perfect if you know your product, your size and your style preferences. How do you know all those things? Probably by having purchased the brand before. You know the sizing peculiarities, you love the style and you're satisfied with the quality of the product. The other way, of course, is by visiting a storefront and doing your shopping there and your buying online. This seems very unfair to the storefront which had to put money on the line for stock, rent and sales associates to cater to your whims. 

Radius dress by Judith and Charles.
Photo Source: Judith and Charles
The best case scenario is when you buy from the designer online store after you have seen it at the storefront. Joelle Aidan did that after she visited the Judith and Charles store in Calgary and then found a great dress for sale at their online store. Click here to see the sales section for some classic pieces that will be in your closet for a good while.

NICE: Storefront shopping requires the most effort on the parts of both the vendor and the buyer. Yet it can be the most rewarding for the consumer. Brian, the ballet flats guy known on this blog, has developed satisfying relationships with sales associates at Tory Burch; and Joelle Aidan is recognized by several at Holt Renfrew in Calgary. They both have purchased online but always return to the storefront. 

Monday, 3 April 2017

The Blazer: Winter to Spring Transition

Spring allows you to get the last bit of wear out of winter pieces when you match them up with last year's summer wear or splurge on a new trend.

Although cardigans are supposed to be a 2017 spring trend, I still prefer blazers.

A lightweight fine-weave wool blazer that you wore in winter can continue through the spring worn with walking shorts, jeans, a pencil skirt or a sheath dress, depending on your needs.

A blazer will:
bump up casual to business casual with whatever you choose to wear to work 
keep you warm in the evening over a lightweight dress. That look can take you through summer evenings as well.  
add an element of sophistication to jeans and a t-shirt

A cardigan just doesn't do it in the same way.


The Smythe Duchess Blazer. Photo Source: KateMiddletonStyle
When it comes to blazers, Smythe is the way to go. A friend in Calgary  introduced them to me and both of us find the tailoring impeccable. The brand is definitely an investment purchase. And, just to let you know, if you buy yourself a Smythe Les Vestes blazer now, you will be wearing it for as long as Kate Middleton has worn hers, probably longer. 

Middleton has been wearing Smythe blazers for the past six years at least. She has worn both the navy and green one-button blazer in 2011 in Canada, and the navy in 2012 in London and 2014 in Glasgow. If Middleton can do that, so can you.

Buy it in a basic colour such as black, cobalt, chambray, navy, army or camel and it will never go out of style. They renamed the one button blazer, the "duchess blazer" after Middleton wore the Toronto brand during her trip to Canada in 2011. 


NICE for Smythe, Middleton and anyone who owns one!


Wednesday, 29 March 2017

3 Spring Must Haves: the Dress, the Shoes, the Bag

NEED for Spring 2017


a silky or slinky dress  


matching flats or heels


the cinch bag


Photo Source: Lucian Matis
A dress in a floral pattern can be the basis for you to indulge in your love of shoes. Buy a dress like this design by Lucian Matis and choose one of the colours for your shoes to complement the dress. The patterned shoes in the photo just don't do it. 

Focus on the pinks, reddish-oranges, yellows and greens and search your shoe stash or buy some new ones in each of those colours. The pantone colours for spring are not pastel and not the neon brights. They seem to be earthier, subdued; what you might find in Victorian chintz.


Photo Source: Pantone


Photo Source: DailyMail
With Pantone identifying "flame", an orangey-red, as one of the top 10 colours for Spring, 2017, it would be fun to have a silky dress in that colour. Your ensemble for casual summer weddings would be taken care of with a matched combination like that. Like Pippa Middletone, you could even go shopping in New York or out for lunch in that matched set and not feel overdressed.

Whether floral or solid, the dress and the shoes are the focus. The bag is strictly functional and would look great in either hazelnut, niagra or kale. 

There must be something in your closet in the 2017 spring colour tones. Resurrect it and add something new to update it and voila, you are aware of the trends without looking overtly trendy.

My personal taste is more subdued and so I would likely choose "island paradise", "pale dogwood" or "niagra" if I were to search for a a dress-shoes match.


Photo Source: Nordstrom
Bags for the spring are interesting. They range from gigantic oversized to credit card tiny. The bag in the middle is the cinch bag, which is reinstated every three or four years. Nordstrom is already sold out of this one, which looks like it could pass for the colour, "hazelnut". Several luxury houses such as Lancel always have a cinch bag available albeit in materials and finishes that eventually date it. My Lancel "flirt bag" is leather with a stamped finish and that is what dates it. I still love my Lancel "flirt" but there you have it, no matter what, we are victims of the trend and colour of the moment. 

The 2017 spring trends don't seem outlandish or out of the typical closet colour spectrum and so with a little ingenuity, you may be able to reuse, reassemble and make it look so Spring 2017.






Friday, 17 March 2017

Spring Thoughts on Shoes for a Comfortable Casual Look

NICE     NOTE-WORTHY     NO THANKS

I received an email from Stewart Weitzman Canada and was enamoured with the variety of flats.


Photo Source: Stewart Weitzman Canada
I loved the colour of these blue ballerina style flats and I can see myself wearing them with my casual summer wardrobe that includes a lot of blue, white and beige. However my No Thanks on this pair is that they are suede. I do have several pairs of suede shoes although I opt for dark colours such as black, purple . . . a darker blue. The beige ones I have, I tend not to wear often or have restricted them to "inside" shoes just because of the difficulty of cleaning suede. Stewart Weitzman has them in black but I have also made a Note-Worthy resolution and that is not to buy another pair of black shoes in 2017. These do say that spring is in the air.


Photo Source: Stewart Weitzman Canada
My other passion are metallic flats and they too are often restricted to indoor shoes. This habit has evolved after the first pair of Geox metallic flats I owned. The metallic finish wore out quickly and I do not believe that I was harder on them than any other pair of shoes. These loafers come in an embossed leather that appears to be a mottled grey and beige. That might be Nice. 

Besides sandals these flats seem to be the only styles I wear.  Ballerinas and loafers are my preferred comfortable casual shoe to finish of that particular look. 


Metro in High Shine.
Photo Soource: Stewart Weitzman Canada
No Thanks for me but Nice for others. When it comes to shoes, the chunkiest I get is a wedge heel in the summer. I don't do the sport luxe look often but if you do, these Metro in High Shine tie-ups are very cool. I defer to proportion and I just can't handle a chunky shoe owing to my height and size. If I could I would be looking seriously at these. 

Just like the fall when my "back to school mentality" kicks in, I experience "new shoes for Easter" thoughts and this year there may be more than one pair in the plan. Thank you Stewart Weitzman for the email.