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Style is not an age.

Weekly Roundup: Spring and Summer Tops

by Angie

Most of these tops are blouses and there is a variety of silhouettes. They are one way to refresh your business casual wardrobes for Spring and Summer. Be sure to look through all the colour options. 

Most tops can be dressed down with either jeans or a denim jacket, so although they might seem a little dressy for a casual lifestyle, they are more versatile than you think. Plus, fluid and oversized fits are more casual straight off the bat.

Vince Camuto Pleated V-Neck TopParker Althea Top

BCBGMAXAZRIA Ayanna Oversized Scarf ShirtVince Camuto Yacht Stripe Boat Neck Blouse

Outstanding Outfit Bloggers

Relaxed Urban Casual in Antwerp

by Inge

Twenty-two year old Paulien Riemis combines a modelling career with studying hard to obtain a degree in literature and languages. She is quite the mixture of polished and RATE (rough around the edges), and is a neutrals gal at heart. She loves slouch as much as skinnies, adores sneakers, and is a pro at remixing classic pieces into her casual outfits. 

“My style has evolved from very girly and chaotic (more was definitely more!) to something more minimalistic and sometimes even boyish. I would describe it as fun, elegant and casual!”

While browsing her blog, Polienne, I was delighted to discover that Paulien also lives in Antwerp, so I jumped at the chance to get together with her. Last Saturday we plopped ourselves down at an outdoor café in the city centre where I quickly discovered Paulien is a spontaneous, down-to-earth and easy-to-get-along-with lass. We chatted (in Dutch) about how we are both night owls, her favourite fashion haunts (Zara, H&M and Massimo Dutti), slow-going reading assignments (Dickens and Eliot), blogging in 2014, shopping at the international food market, and investment pieces. Paulien is hesitant to invest in expensive footwear because “shoes will get dirty immediately anyway, and they wear out so quickly”. She prefers to save up for a fab investment bag “that you’ll have for years and years and will develop a nice patina as time goes by”. Paulien, it was lovely to get to know you a little better, and I’m sure we’ll run into each other again soon.

Paulien Riemis - 1

The knee-length man coat with fun loop detail is the star of the show. The slightly wider lapels, low stance, tailored fit on the shoulders and scrunched sleeves give it just the right amount of unstructured structure. Opting for a light colour like this pale grey is a great way to start celebrating Spring when it’s still cold enough outside to need a wool topper. The relaxed fit striped pullover with white background further lightens up the look. The bright pink beanie is a gorgeous colour contrast and youthfully playful. What really sold me on the look though is how Paulien folded over her black skinnies to just hit the top of her patent pointy toe ankle boots. It’s a nonchalant rockers touch for which I’ve always had a soft spot. Choose the same colour footwear and bottoms if you want to lengthen the leg line. A black leather tote, roomy enough to hold her books, finishes off the look.

Paulien Riemis - 2

Paulien’s skater girl look makes me smile. It’s such a great example of her tomboy side, and features two pieces that are very much part of our blogger’s casual wear uniform: skinny boyfriend jeans and fun sneakers. Oversized fits are all the rage these days, and trend-savvy Paulien was already sporting this very voluminous cardigan with big balloon sleeves early last year. The cheerful pink plaid pattern gives it a girly touch, as does the fluffy pink sweater that provides textural interest to boot. The cardi’s volume is offset by the slim-fitting BFs with rolled-up hems. Showing a bit of bare ankle also adds structure to the look. And notice how she, just like Angie, neatly tucked away the laces of her customized Puma sneakers. 

Paulien Riemis - 3

Paulien has a real knack for remixing classic pieces into her outfits. Here she is sporting one of her favourite coats, a wool camel Massimo Dutti number that goes with practically everything in her closet. I love how she’s paired it with another super versatile player — the simple striped tee — and then added an unexpected third layer: a leopard print coat. Subtle, but very effective pattern mixing. Black skinny jeans tucked into black motorcycle ankle boots again lengthen the leg line. With their slouchy fit and buckle detail they’re a fab juxtaposition against the dressy coat. That tougher vibe is continued with Paulien’s oversized black Balenciaga bag, an investment item she can see herself carrying for years to come.

Paulien Riemis - 4

Our blogger is a neutrals gal at heart, and here she’s sporting one of my favourite colour combinations: crisp white with different shades of grey. This soft colour palette always feels fresh, plus Paulien makes it extra interesting by going for maximum textural interest. The light grey tee has a marled effect, her delicate necklace consists of two-toned light and dark silver metal, and the rips and tears in her destroyed jeans create even more outfit depth. Ripped jeans are a RATE (rough around the edges) look, but the crisp white counterbalances that effect. Because of the longer, calf length and relaxed fit, the cosy maxi cardigan adds volume to the outfit, but it’s kept in check by the skinny jeans and wider scoop neckline of the T-shirt. Iconic white Converse and a simple cream and black colour blocked tote complement this effortless casual look.

Paulien Riemis - 5

Paulien Riemis - 5

I’m dubbing this sporty urban nonchalance. By now you’ve surely noticed that the Breton stripe — just like skinny jeans and sneakers — plays an essential role in Paulien’s casual closet. For this fashion forward volume-on-volume look she is wearing the roomy sweater version over baggy pleather pants that have a nice drape to them. There’s a bit of scrunch going on at the calves and ankles, which adds back in structure. So do the 3/4 tab sleeves on the army green trench coat. It’s a unique piece that really makes this outfit for me. It’s almost like a mix between a military jacket and a French workman’s jacket à la Bill Cunningham. Fab! Paulien throws on her camel coat and on trend bulky scarf to stay warm. Worn-in black sneakers, big Balenciaga bag and sweet cat necklace are the accessories of choice.

Paulien Riemis - 6

Paulien Riemis - 6

Denim on denim, almond toe pumps and flares, they’re all big this season, and once again, our blogger was ahead of the curve and sporting these trends last Spring. It works fantastically well thanks to the mix of two shades of faded denim with cream and white. Soft casual and feminine at the same time. The longer length biker jacket has little detailing and an uncomplicated vibe that really appeals to me. In fact, the entire outfit exudes a minimal simplicity that’s close to my heart. The nubby texture on the sweater adds subtle textural interest. It’s the same length as the jacket which helps to achieve a clean line. The collarless white shirt gives the look a polished touch that is dressed down by the big scarf. The stunning Celine bag brings beautiful architectural lines into the look. The cream suede pumps are perfect with the dramatic drape of the flared jeans, and provide attractive colour repetition with Paulien’s shirt and sweater.

Between the pleather pants outfit, beautiful light grey coat look and the feminine flares, I’m having a hard time picking a favourite, but I am going with the flares because the silhouette feels fresh to me and the elegant simplicity is right up my alley. Let us know in the comments what you think of Paulien’s neutrals-inspired mix of polished and RATE style. Then hop on over to her blog for more outfit inspiration, or check out her pinboards to find out what inspires her.

Inge and Paulien

Inge and Paulien

Inge-and-Paulien-2

For our meetup, Paulien was sporting her trusted camel coat layered over that fab army green trench, fun graphic tee, relaxed skinnies, Nike sneakers and her beloved Balenciaga bag that is just starting to develop the worn-in patina Paulien is after. And don’t you just love her sassy shorter ‘do!

Warming Up to Spring with Six Fab Finds

by Angie

There are three machine washable cotton dresses with a bit of length in this lineup, which is pretty rare. Be sure to look through all the colour options. 

  • Boden Sabrina Skirt: Knitted, breezy, easy to launder and midi length. Super for pear shaped ladies. Wear with a soft linen or cotton welted sweater. Boden’s silk linen sweater is a good match and as lightweight as a T-shirt. Size up a size.
  • Vince Camuto Colorblock Stretch Cotton Jacket: Here’s an affordable way to sport the fringe round shoulder trend. The photo does not do the style justice. It’s well cut and looks like a designer silhouette. 
  • Boden Knot Detail Dress: A breezy and easy to launder casual cotton dress. It’s pretty good on a large bust with a Second Base camisole. Equally good on pear and apple shaped bodies. Runs small. 
  • Boden Casual Jersey Dress: This style is even more casual and just as easy to launder. It’s best on a small to regular size bust. Runs small. 
  • Eileen Fisher Reversible Sleeveless Dress: You can wear this machine washable dress back to front, which is why it’s a reversible style. It’s longer at the sides, which makes this concept work quite well. Dress it up or down, and read the rave reviews. 
  • Ann Taylor Awning Stripe Dress: The knitted fabric of this chevron stripe frock is thick and luxurious. Excellent for pear shaped ladies with a small bust and long neck. Brilliant drape. Runs big. 
  • Ann Taylor Fluid Linen Ankle Pants: These pants are divine rolled at the hem, and an excellent alternative to jeans. Extremely comfy, and quite flattering. Super soft drape. Excellent on pear shape ladies too. Runs large. 

Most of the US is warming up, which means that we can finally enjoy our Spring clothes. I was excited to debut a few of my own new Spring pieces last week in our mild sunny weather. For the first time EVER, I’m enjoying Spring fashion more than Fall fashion.

Boden Knot Detail DressBoden Casual Jersey Dress

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Pedal Pushers: Yay or Nay

by Angie

Pedal pushers are slim-fitting bottoms that finish on or just over the knee. They are shorter than calf length. I’ve referred to pedal pushers as clamdiggers in the past, while retailers in the US call them capris or cropped pants. This is not a new silhouette, but it has taken a back seat in a fashion world that is currently besotted with ankle pants. 

Pedal pushers are structured, and made of dressy fabrics like wool and cotton blends, or casual fabrics like denim, in both solids and patterns. They frequently have a slit on the hem of the knee to increase the comfort level as you stride. Pedal pushers are especially good for larger calves because they are short and don’t cling. The hems of casual styles can be rolled to the knee, which is an especially good idea when you hack off the length of an old pair of skinnies to create a pair.

I love pedal pushers, or clamdiggers as I call them. I used to wear them a lot four years ago, but stopped when baggy and slouchy boyfriend jeans took their place. I did cut a pair of old flared jeans to this length last year, but their fit is looser than pedal pushers. I’m in the mood for dressy pedal pushers like the ones here from Ann Taylor. Pedal pushers are more comfy than pencil skirts and look boyish in a polished way, which appeals to me. I’m a yay. 

Over to you. What’s your take on both dressy and casual pedal pushers? Would you wear them? And do you think that dressy pedal pushers, like the Ann Taylor styles below, are work appropriate?

Alexander McQueen Zip Detail Pedal Pusher PantsAlexander McQueen Blouse and Pants

Ann Taylor Petite Pindot Pedal PushersAnn Taylor Cotton Pedal Pushers

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Business Casual Spring Capsule: Ink Blue & White

by Angie

It’s been especially fun helping clients pull together their business casual wardrobes this season because Spring 2014 is full of new, work appropriate silhouettes. Lightening up the colours of a workwear wardrobe is key to refreshing your style at this time of year. Matching ink blue with shades of white has been particularly popular because it’s neutral, versatile, flattering, and über fresh after a Winter of wearing lots of black and grey. 

I recently went shopping with a corporate client who is extremely polished and prefers better-end professional pieces. She favours neutrals, subtle patterns, and is a true Modern Classic with a tall hourglass figure. She’s bored with wearing impeccable business formal wool suits with silk tops, so we focused on putting together business casual separates instead. We also threw in trendier pieces to change things up even more. 

We built several capsules together, of which the ink blue and white is a favourite. It was a huge change for my client to wear white trousers and ink blue instead of black and grey – and she loves the change. The palette also worked particularly well with her new, light blue geek chic specs and her brunette complexion.

Apart from the tote, the items below are the exact items that were purchased for the new capsule. All the tops can be worn with either of the bottoms. They can be worn tucked, partially tucked or untucked. Both jackets work over all four tops, can be matched with the skirt or trousers, and can be worn with either pair of shoes. Both jackets work over the dress. Of course, my client prefers some combinations over others, but when things bottleneck in the laundry, she knows she has options. She can choose any of these combinations and feel fabulous. 

This business casual mix-and-match capsule consisted of: two bottoms, four tops, two jackets, a dress, two pairs of shoes, and a bag. Normally, we’d put together five tops, but the dress takes the place of one of the tops in this case. Here are the components:

Two Bottoms

My client likes to wear trousers to work, but desperately wanted to wear a different vibe to bootcuts. So we opted for a trendy pair of cream ankle pants which she wears at a flattering length. The pants aren’t skintight so tucking tops and adding a belt works just fine. We decided on a cream pencil skirt because it’s a familiar silhouette for my client. Choosing it in white and in a textured knit made the style feel fresh and new. 

Nordstrom Collection Stretch Ankle PantsClassiques Entier Brigitte Cloque Detail Ponte Knit Skirt

Four Tops

We chose a variety of top styles across patterns and solids. Some are classic and some trendy. An ink gingham shirt for a preppy vibe. A lightweight metallic V-neck pullover in a shade of oyster for a little daytime sparkle. A sleeveless silk shell top in a fluid fit for ultra simplicity. And a patterned blouse with a high-low hemline for a dose of trendy. 

Banana Republic Fitted Non-Iron Gingham ShirtJ.Crew Metallic V-Neck SweaterVince Sleeveless V-Neck TopVince Camuto Reflections Sleeveless Shirttail Blouse

Two Jackets

We chose two fashionable jackets in different silhouettes and colours. The white blazer, although pretty classic, is a longer length and looks particularly fresh with trousers. The boxy navy Spring tweed jacket is modern with its inset white leather trim and bracelet length sleeves. My client will wear both jackets open, which is how the styles look best. 

Rachel Roy Fitted One Button BlazerRachel Roy Faux Leather Trim Tweed Jacket

Sleeveless tops sans topper are not an option for business meetings, so the jackets have to be light enough to wear indoors. But my client is comfortable taking off her jacket at her desk when she feels like a breezy break. Plus we have sleeved top options, so it’s all sorted. 

One Dress

We had to include the ink pencil sheath dress because my client loves dresses. And it has sleeves, which is a rarity. It can be worn on its own sans topper or with either jacket. It can also be worn in Winter with hose, booties, scarf and coat. It’s an extremely easy and versatile piece that is practical to take along on business trips.

Vince Three Quarter Sleeve Pencil Sheath DressVince Three Quarter Sleeve Pencil Sheath Dress

Two Pairs of Shoes

It’s ladylike and refined pumps all the way for my corporate client, but we chose styles that were a little less classic this time round. A leg lengthening light pair with trendy ankle straps, and a dark high vamped d’Orsay style with a lower heel. Both styles are very comfortable and equally great for business travel. 

Sam Edelman OkalaVince Aurelian Pump

Accessories

My client prefers to use one handbag for the warm weather season, so I suggested she keep it light in colour so that it looks more Summery with all her outfits. She’s going to purchase a white and taupe bag that’s similar to the Witney tote, which is sufficiently large for her needs. The white belt will be worn when tops are fully or partially tucked. 

BCBGMAXAZRIA Witney ToteJ.Crew Golden Trim Leather Belt

The items in this capsule can also be used in capsules with different colour palettes. For example, the white jacket, trousers and skirt work well with the black and white patterned tops my client already has in her wardrobe. The navy tweed jacket works well over a burnt orange sheath dress and with denim boyfriend jeans. The white blazer looks smashing with black straight leg trousers, ink bootcuts, black and white houndstooth pants, and a burnt orange tweed pencil skirt. And the white bottoms are beautiful with the swingy blush Lloyd jacket my client added to her jacket capsule last week. 

Remember that this is just the starting point for one business capsule across one colour palette. Having several mix-and-match capsules in your closet allows you to pick and choose your outfits daily from different capsules, thereby ensuring ongoing variety.

Business Casual Spring Capsule: Ink Blue & White

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