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Style is not a body type.

Link Love: The Outtakes

by Inge

While browsing the internet for Link Love each week I come across so many well-written and interesting articles, but of course, I can only use a few at a time. Some of the “leftovers”, however, are just too good not to share. So today I’d like to do exactly that. Here’s my selection of eleven “extras” that I’ve very much enjoyed reading.

Fab Links from Our Members

Janet reports that Barbell Denim is making jeans for athletic builds, and adds “As a runner, swimmer, cyclist, and the owner of a sturdy set of legs, the idea intrigues me, although I’m always skeptical about whether the style quotient will be there in these efforts.”

Fashion designer Emma Berg created a collection of one-of-a-kind prom dresses for a group of Minneapolis high school seniors who subsequently modelled the unique creations during a fashion show. Laurinda is especially impressed by her attitude and spirit: What she cares about is that the girls feel cool, confident and unique.

Angie liked the tips in Corporette’s post on how to wear heels when you’re used to wearing flats.

Imogen’s post on The Yin and Yang of Clothing helped Vildy to clarify how she wants to dress. Vildy decided she is “thoroughly yang in personality” and the post “enabled her to see why she can’t wear blended and muted prints even though she finds them visually appealing. She feels papered over in them, and they end up being purged.”

The Best and Worst of Spring 2014

by Angie

We are halfway through the season, and truly, it’s been one of the best Spring retail seasons I’ve seen. A large variety of wearable clothing and footwear silhouettes across different colours and lifestyles means that there is something for everyone. My clients, both dressy and casual, are extremely happy with their purchases. And I’m having the best Spring shopping season ever. 

The Best

Let’s start with the positives.

  • An Abundance of Spring Knitwear & Toppers: Retailers have finally taken into account that it’s cold in the Spring. Spring knitwear has been brilliant in cashmere, wool and cotton blends. The variety of toppers — from long Spring coats to short leather motos, blazers and boxy jackets — has been equally good. Fashion has kept us warm and covered for longer instead of heading straight to flimsy naked clothing at the beginning of February. Hallelujah. 
  • Large Colour Assortment: There’s just about every colour available at the moment. Pastels, brights, jewel tones, neon, earth tones, mid-tones, and muted mid-tones are pretty easy to find. There’s also a huge assortment of neutrals, especially in shades of white. 
  • Ink Blue: It’s great to see this dark shade of blue make a trendy comeback. Many people resort to black and grey because that’s all there is. Now we have ink blue as the softer and, for some, more flattering option. That’s how it should be. 
  • More Tops with Sleeves: Retailers have heard our pleas. A greater proportion of tops this season have sleeves, and different style sleeves at that. A few years ago, a larger portion of tops were sleeveless, which wasn’t a good idea at all. 
  • Longer Length Skirts: At last, there’s a larger assortment of knee-covering skirts thanks to the midi trend. 
  • Forgiving Silhouettes: Fashionable fits are fluid and oversized. Oversized fits can be hard to get right, but I’m thrilled with the abundance of fluid fits. It’s been so much easier to shop for tops and bottoms with clients now that there is life after body con fits. 
  • Lower Heel Heights: Although flats and heels over three inches are still the most popular fashionable shoe, availability of heels in the one to two inch range has improved. Long may it last. 
  • Fabulous Non-Premium Denim: Non-premium denim has never looked as good. More of my clients are shopping cost-saving non-premium denim these days because the fits can be better, the sizes more consistent, and the quality just as good. 

The Worst

Of course, no retail season is without its shortcomings.

  • Bad Dress Season: Retail is still full of dresses that are too short, too casual and too juvenile to wear to work. And please give us something other than a sleeveless sheath dress. Mini and maxi dresses to wear to the beach or in extremely casual settings are aplenty. But finding a slightly more sophisticated frock in a sturdy fabrication with sleeves is a tall order. Especially in solid woven fabrics. 
  • Lack of Tailored Pieces: Items that are more fitted than fluid, but not as fitted as body con, have become a rarity. This is problematic because most people like to wear tailored fits. They are conventionally flattering and always in style. We need more tailored top options. 
  • Premium Denim Sizing: Sizing is all over the place, and in most cases one to two sizes smaller than it used to run. Many of my clients are sizing up when purchasing new premium denim, while their measurements have stayed the same. This means that people who wear the larger premium denim sizes are being sized out. It also means that people who were sized out on the smaller side of the size curve can wear premium denim. So it’s a plus for the super small framed lady. 
  • Cropped Pants Overload: It’s hard to find trousers that are full length at the moment because the market is saturated with cropped pants for the third season in a row. Hopefully this will not continue into Autumn and Winter. 

I haven’t noticed Radiant Orchid, which Pantone named the colour for 2014, gain momentum at all. That’s a pity because it’s a colour that works well across a variety of complexions. Perhaps it will surface over the next few months. 

Finally, the biggest gap in the market is the size between Regular and Plus size departments. Size US14 and 16 gals often find that the largest size in Missy is too small, but the smallest size in Plus is too large. Intuitively, you’d expect that the smallest size in Plus would be cut a size up from the largest size in Missy. But it’s actually cut wider and larger everywhere, and is not just an even size up. So things don’t end up fitting at all. The retail world needs to either cut one size smaller in Plus, or adjust their size specifications for sizes 14 and 16 in Missy. 

Over to you. What’s your take on the best and the worst of Spring 2014 fashion?

Weekly Roundup: Sandals

by Angie

This is the first of many sandal roundups I’ll be doing this season, because although I don’t wear sandals, they are popular with my clients and our forum members. Here’s an assortment of casual and dressy styles across a variety of heel heights. 

  • Charles David Bailey Pointy Toe Flat: Technically not a sandal because of the closed toe, but still pretty open and breezy. Delicious with the trendy ankle strap. It works well on higher volume feet — as most sandals do — and is buttery soft and quite elegant. The small heel is more supportive than a completely flat heel. I found that the top edge of the vamp cut into my foot, but that’s because the toe box was too wide. It’s working well on a few of my clients. 
  • Vince Camuto Marleen Sandal: Dressy and ladylike. Best on high volume feet with shorter toes. Read the rave reviews. Also available in metallic
  • Fly London Yala Sandal: A fashion forward, chunky flatform that is buttery soft and extremely comfortable. More rave reviews. 
  • Pedro Garcia Vania Flat Sandal: Also very comfy and super soft. Great with a pair of black ankle pants. 
  • Earth Petal Wedge Sandal: A wedge sandal with arch support. Lovely soft colours and nice laser cut-out detailing. 
  • Birkenstock Arizona Soft Footbed Leather Sandal: An on trend comfort shoe that needs no introduction. It’s fun in sci-fi metallics, although I personally prefer the look in a graphic black or white patent
  • Eric Michael Cody: If the Arizona Birkenstock is a touch flat, try a similar look with a wedge heel. Good for high volume feet and very comfortable. 
  • Sam Edelman Trina: A repeat style that’s still a goodie. Read the rave reviews. 
  • Vince Camuto Eliana Bootie: Another repeat style that is still going strong because it’s a very comfy on trend cage sandal despite a three inch heel. It’s an excellent mixture of casual and dressy and can be worn with just about anything these days. It’s also pretty covered, which makes it work in most office settings. Surprisingly, the style works well for both low and high volume feet. Here’s a similar style knock-off from DSW. I haven’t tried this one, so I can’t comment on its comfort level compared to the Eliana. But it might be worth a try.
  • Vince Camuto Effel Sandal: Another version with rave reviews. Personally, I found the Eliana more comfortable. 
  • Jeffrey Campbell Deetz Flats: A strappy sandal with a hard edge and lots of buckles. Great heel height and pointy toe. I like this look with black ankle pants. 
  • Børn Yana Toe Sandal: A cushioning toe sandal that’s great on high volume feet. A super easy casual slip-on-and-go. I like this sandal with skinnies. Also available in lighter colours
  • Lemare Leather Cuff Bootie: A modern sandal that I haven’t seen in person but looks stunning if you can manage the heel height. 

Bonus Booties

Two great pairs of booties I tried on recently:

  • Nine West Waterloo: A fun cut-out bootie in a light colour. It’s cushioning, soft and comfortable. Still too chunky for my own style preferences and low volume feet, but it might suit you to a tee. 
  • Matisse Coconuts Future: A very strappy Summer bootie that’s like the new gladiator. I found the Nine West Waterloo Bootie more comfortable, but I do have very fussy feet. 

Who’s enjoying stepping into sandals?

Charles David Bailey Pointy Toe FlatVince Camuto Marleen SandalFly London Yala SandalEric Michael CodyBørn Yana SandalJeffrey Campbell Deetz Flat

Roundups

Spring and Summer Tops

Dressier with business separates or dressed down with jeans.

Read More >

Crisp Jackets

Fabulous with trousers for business, or with jeans for smart casual.

Read More >

Fluid Tops

Roomy, fluid fits for Spring across a variety of styles.

Read More >

Not So Basic Tees

A little extra design detail means stylish sans topper.

Read More >

Boyfriend Jeans

Here are my top picks of boyfriend jeans from Nordstrom.

Read More >

How to Wear Floral Patterns in Subtle Ways

by Angie

I’ve found that floral patterns evoke a myriad of emotions with my clientele. Some wear them frequently as the focal point of an outfit. Others won’t wear them at all because they’re too twee, precious or frivolous. Some will wear them casually over the weekend, but not to work. And many will wear a very specific floral pattern in a more subtle way. It’s the subtle ways that I’m going to run through here because they might tickle your fancy for Spring and Summer dressing.  

1. Use Florals As a Layering Piece

The floral top on the left is layered under a topper on the right, so that a small portion of the pattern peeks through the open moto jacket in the front of the outfit. This style of jacket covers most of the pattern, but that’s not your only option. A blazer, cardigan or vest allows a little more of the pattern to peek through.

1.State Floral Print Tee

2. Wear Floral Footwear

If you don’t like to wear floral patterns close to your face, sport them on shoes. Floral footwear can be dressy like the slingback pumps on the left, or casual like the flat loafers on the right. I’ve chosen brights, but floral patterns in muted colour palettes are just as lovely. 

Boden Chelsea SlingbacksSwear Charlotte Floral Shoe

3. Sport a Floral Bag

The concept is similar to floral footwear. Wear a floral accessory away from your face and in smaller doses if you don’t like them enough to wear as a clothing piece. Like footwear, floral bags can be dressy or casual and are available in an assortment of colours.

Kate Spade New York Small Haven Canvas HoboBrahmin Vivian Satchel

4. Choose an Abstract Design

Instead of choosing a floral pattern that looks like a Spring garden, choose a design that’s barely floral. In other words the flowers are less recognizable and a lot more abstract like the dress and top shown below. The pattern mixed version on the left tones down the floral aspect of the design even further.

Raquel Allegra Pullover DressFaith Connexion Floral Print Tee

5. Choose A Monochromatic Pattern 

Monochromatic floral patterns that are made up of one colour and a neutral like white are what I call “floral-lite”. Versions with less contrast than these examples are even more subtle, like a black and dark grey floral, or blush pink and white floral.

MARC JACOBS Contrast Back Floral TopRachel Zoe Magnolia Lace Up Print Silk Tunic

I don’t wear florals frequently, but when I do, they don’t need to be subtle at all. I enjoy wearing bold florals in happy colours in warmer weather because they look fresh and put me in a good mood. They also feel fresh after a Winter of not wearing florals at all. Over to you. Do you wear floral patterns in subtle ways, or are you a bold floral wearer?

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A Striped Midi for Spring

by Angie

This outfit is almost an exact replica of the modern midi ensemble. I’ve worn it twice in the last few weeks: once on a mild Seattle Spring day while out shopping with a client, and once to host a dinner party in our home (leaving off the jacket). The happiness factor here is very high because I LOVE to wear midi skirts that move. There’s something about the way they swoosh from side to side as you stride that puts me in a jolly good mood. And they remind me of my late Mum. Comfortable, ladylike and graphic. 

I saw the black and cream Halogen striped skirt back in February and it was love at first sight. The stiff crisp fabric, dressy integrity, knee-covering length, stitched down pleats, and fun bold stripe instantly pulled at my heart strings. It is not a slimming silhouette at all. Bold horizontal stripes across your hips in a voluminous shape that covers half your body clearly has a widening visual affect. But I love it! If I wanted to wear a slimming silhouette, I’d wear a pencil skirt or sheath dress. But that’s not nearly as fun because straight skirts don’t swoosh when you walk, or pouf out when you sit down. With this skirt, it’s more about having fun with fashion than creating a slender silhouette. 

Skirt, Jacket & Bag

Skirt, Jacket and Bag

Tucking a tailored button-down shirt into a full skirt is a great way to slim down the silhouette. But that combination doesn’t feel quite as modern for 2014. That’s why I prefer to wear the skirt with an untucked welted fluid pullover — the same sparkly ink blue one that I recently paired with flared jeans. The refined gauge of the knit drapes back onto the body which creates some structure, as do the slim-fitting sleeves, tailored neckline and welt on the waist. I also like the softer effect of the dark blue against the harsh black and cream rugby stripe. I scrunch the sleeves for further structure. 

Up Close

Without Bag

I like this outfit best sans topper, but it’s too cold to go without. I like my two-toned denim jacket with the combination because it’s boxy, which feels the most on trend. My two tailored denim jackets don’t feel as current right now, so they’re hibernating a little longer. This denim jacket, with its waxed black sleeves, provides a relaxed element to the dressy outfit, and a tiny touch of tomboy. 

Skirt & Bag

This style of skirt screams to be paired with refined girly footwear, which amps up the ladylike and retro integrity of the outfit. I chose pointy toe ankle strap Okala pumps because ankle straps are trending and I love the style. I chose them in a cheetah print because I like cheetah matched with stripes. The black ankle strap, although horizontally cutting and leg shortening, somehow complements the black stripe in the skirt. 

I finished off the outfit with sporty neon clutch, apple green specs, a gold watch and my wedding ring. No additional jewellery required. I’m hooked on the watermelon lippie that brings out the colour of my bright specs, so I wear that shade of lipstick when sporting black and white, or ink and white outfits. Otherwise, I stick to nude lipstick. 

Skirt from the Side

Skirt from the Front

This outfit would have looked more conventionally flattering with a fitted and tucked shirt that showcases the waistline and lengthens the leg line. An untucked top tends to lengthen the torso thereby shortening the leg line. A fitted jacket would provide more structure. And ankle straps in a low-contrasting colour, or nude pumps sans ankle straps would have further elongated the leg line. But less conventionally flattering proportions feels fresher to me, and more 2014. Go Team Just Flattering Enough. 

Path

These photos were taken by the water in Leschi where the cherry blossoms are extra gorgeous. On the way back home from the photo shoot, we saw our neighbour Danny enjoying the sunny weather with his two Schnauzers, Brady and Buster. Brady is seven years old, and Buster is seven weeks old. Both doggies are as enchanting and adorable as can be. Of course, we couldn’t go home before snuggling with them.

Angie & Buster

Brandy & Buster

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