Roundup: Playful Fall Pieces

Shopping for Fall has been very interesting. Most of my clients are after pieces that are different from what we’ve seen in stores over the last three years — silhouettes with a playful touch and unique styling details. Here are some of the pieces that have been winners. Be sure to browse through all the colour options. 

  • Topshop 'Powerful' Patchwork Ankle Boot (Women): A moderately comfortable high shaft bootie if you can manage the heel height. Might run a little small. Fun '70s patchwork detailing and great with dresses or cropped pants.
  • Zara Jacquard Top: A super cute textured knitted top with a fabulous curved high-low hemline and flouncy tulip sleeves. Runs very small. EXCELLENT on petites with a larger bust and short waist. Good paired with skirts too. Does not cling. Comes in three colours.
  • ASTR Tie Neck Button Front Blouse: A neck-tie blouse in a moody floral. It's hemline is shaped so that you can wear it out without feeling blocky. Runs big. Great price.
  • Topshop 'Mistic' Ankle Boot (Women): Comfortable booties thanks to soft leather. Wide toe box and fit is good for higher volume feet and bunions. The photo does not do the gorgeous heel justice. It's burnt orange and marbled, and more dramatic in person. Great on narrow ankles too.
  • Zara Long Asymmetric Shirt: A fun cocoon shirt that works well on petites. Boxy, but sufficiently structured due to short front hem and tapered hip fit. Runs large.
  • HD In Paris Dotted Lace Top: Graphic Lace Fabness. Love the back detailing.
  • Tylho Lakin Tunic: A peplum blouse with a twirly back. Soft, pretty and on trend. Available in petites and regular sizes.
  • Moth Rona Turtleneck: This looks like a simple charcoal turtleneck, but the back sings playfully with a pleated pattern. Swingy and fun to wear.
  • Troubador Felted Floral Pullover: The flocked abstract design on this pullover is genius. If wool could look like watercolour - this would be it.
  • Moth Oblique Pullover: Diagonal striped cognac, teal and blush screams Retro Fabness. Neckline is good for a short neck or larger bust. Drapey, fluid and comfortable.
  • Vince Camuto Tie Neck Ruffle Hem Blouse: I love this blouse over a pair of black bootcut trousers for business casual. Great over skinnies and straight legs too. No need to add pizzazz with a jacket. The dropped peplum is unique and interesting. They've cleverly curved the hemline for structure. Runs big.
  • Kristen Blake Wool & Alpaca Blend Notch Collar Coat: The best throw-over-and-go coat of the season - the photo does not do it justice. Well made and great texture. Modern Retro at its best. Its cocoon shape allows you to wear it over all sorts of chunky layers, but it has just enough shape. I love the back pleat detailing. Works on an assortment of body type and all heights.
  • White House Black Market Striped Split-Back Top: Fitted Striped Flounce. Fun back detailing. Better in person.
  • Ted Baker London 'Traze' Floral Print Cotton Sweater: A fitted Winter floral pullover in a soft lightweight wool. Graphically romantic. Great with black or white bottoms.
  • Tory Burch Bias Cut Stripe A-Line Midi Skirt: A comfortable knitted skirt which drapes with the best of them. Good on both a straight and curvy hip. Straighter hips might need to size down.
  • Halogen Double Breasted Raglan Sleeve Jacket (Regular & Petite): Retro Fabness. A trapeze shape jacket looks ultra fresh. Can be worn indoors. Nice unbuttoned too. Also available in a cream and black check. Might run a little big.
  • Banana Republic Fringe Pullover: A fringed pullover can be worn in a crisp and graphic way, just like in the photo. Good on a small bust and narrow shoulder line.
  • Banana Republic Fringe Sweater Jacket: A fringed and hooded cardigan for Team Casual. It's a dramatic piece that can look overwhelming so consider yourself warmed. Great on taller gals.
  • BERNARDO FOOTWEAR 'Lacey' Short Waterproof Rain Boot (Women): A remarkably comfortable and lightweight rain bootie that's good for high volume feet. Good for rain but not for snow. The tie is decorative. Size up if you are in-between sizes. Comes in three colours.
  • Karen Kane Long Sleeve Handkerchief Hem Top: A fitted handkerchief hem tunic for Team Curvy. Substantial fabric and great drape. Nice V-neck too.
  • CeCe By Cynthia Steffe CeCe by Cynthia Steffe 'Aleah' Tie Neck Crêpe de Chine Shirtdress: A romantic, soft, bowed trapeze dress for petites and Team Legs. It's short. Looked fabulous on one of my petite clients with sheer hose and high shaft booties or mary janes. Can work as a tunic too.
  • Foxes Infinity Scarf: A scarf with foxes. Charming.
  • Halogen Tie Neck Shift Dress (Regular & Petite): A flirty dress with both a '60s and '70s vibe. I love the dropped waist and gentle front inverted pleat. Great drape. Works surprisingly well on both curvy and straighter body types if you're prepared to surrender the waist.

Visit the collection page to see the items alongside my descriptions.

Jacquard Top
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Top Pick
Long Asymmetric Shirt
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Top Pick

Outstanding Outfit Bloggers

Gamine in Dallas and Nashville

Nashville and Dallas-based Cathy Williamson (55) writes about fashion, lifestyle and surviving triple negative breast cancer over at the Middle Page. Cathy likes simple silhouettes, white bottoms, and has a knack for finding tops and jewellery with interesting details. Her boyish and ultra slim figure really suit her Gamine Deluxe style. She does elegant and feminine casual chic well, and our blogger’s gorgeous hair and winning smile amp up the style quotient of her outfits.

“I think my style has stayed pretty much the same as it has for the last five years, in that I am a pretty casual girl. I love nothing more than wearing my jeans and a tee. If I need to dress it up a bit more, I will wear denim with a great top or with a fun jacket and heels. So in that way, it’s stayed the same. The way it has changed, is that I am more aware of things I can’t or shouldn’t wear. I don’t wear really short skirts or dresses without a tight. I also won’t wear shorts out (unless I am at the beach). My style would be described as Casual with an Edge.”

Cathy Williamson - 1

Cathy has tucked a fitted lace top into white skinny jeans to create a long lean line. She breaks up the column of colour with a collarless blazer that nips in at the waist for extra structure. Her skin peeking through the lace adds subtle allure, while the blush looks pretty with the crisp white and our blogger’s gorgeous strawberry blonde hair. Cognac triple strap sandals with gold pyramid studs add soft edge. The deep purple drusy quartz necklace intensifies the colour of the blush topper. Great touch!

Cathy Williamson - 2

Cathy Williamson - 2

Our blogger dresses up a pair of destroyed dark wash skinny jeans with lots of feminine sparkle. The blush bejewelled top is a statement piece that works beautifully with Cathy’s skintone. The cosy cheetah print teddy swing coat creates a delicious retro vibe. Sass deluxe. Shiny bronze block-heeled pumps with square toe add glitz and bookend the topper. Soft pink lippie complements the blush top, while a delicate tiara adds girly charm. On trend pearl double ball stud earrings finish off this retro look.

Cathy Williamson - 3

Cathy Williamson - 3

The untucked shirt tails and buttoned-up collar on this two-in-one sweater are a fun way to add boyish charm to an elegant skirt look. The relaxed fit sweater is just tailored enough to work with the knee-length faux leather flouncy skirt. The pleats together with the black and white marled top provide tons of visual interest, while the black patent pumps add shine. Cathy has a great knack for finding interesting accessories. Here, the lava rock tassel necklace and black clutch with “embroidered” inlay create even more textural interest. Soft pink lipstick and our blogger’s polished chin-length ‘do are the polished finishing touches.

Cathy Williamson - 4

‘70s Fabness with the J Brand Love Story flared jeans. Sporting beautiful blues from head to toe creates a visually cohesive look. The dramatically flared jeans, at perfect pant length, create a dressy boho vibe that is further emphasized by the geometric print top. Semi-tucking the soft blouse creates a long leg line. Cap sleeves and the open neckline make it a breezy option for warm temps. As always, Cathy’s accessories game is on point. The cobalt blue crossbody bucket bag, quirky pom pom necklace and big sunnies finish off this casual Summer look to perfection.

When asked which Fall/Winter 2015 trends she is looking forward to the most, Cathy said:

“The two trends I am looking forward to the most, are flare jeans and chunky heels. I plan on wearing flare jeans with boots or wedges and with some folkloric and feminine tops. I’m so excited for chunky heels. I love a stiletto, but feel a lot more stable with a thicker heel (especially after a glass of wine!). I will wear those with skinny jeans, skirts or dresses.”

Cathy Williamson - 5

Sporty Luxe meets Soft Edge. The silk and leather make for great textural interest and give this outfit a luxurious feel. The high-necked sleeveless top is fitted on the shoulders and gently flares out over the pant waistband for a flattering silhouette. The leather paired with the cargo pockets on the fluid fit silky track pants create soft edge, which is further emphasized by the eye-catching black chain link pendant. A black pebbled clutch and pointy toe leopard print pumps add more pattern and texture. Cathy’s shorter hair fits the gamine vibe brilliantly.

Cathy Williamson - 6

This denim on denim look is trademark Cathy for sure. She’s paired a light-wash chambray shirt with darker deconstructed frayed hem skinny jeans. The short-sleeved shirt has a trapeze shape that billows in the breeze. The skinnies add structure. The ankle length showcases our blogger’s minimalist flat sandals that suit the nonchalant vibe of this look. The leopard print straps add subtle pattern to the mix. Cathy’s cobalt bucket bag and beautiful ‘do look fab with the denim blues. Aviator sunnies, a thin watch and gold bracelet are the accessories of choice.

Let us know what you think of Cathy’s Gamine Deluxe style. Then hop on over to the Middle Page to check out the rest of her fab outfits, or find out what inspires her on Pinterest.

Six Travelling Tips for Footwear

After much trial and error, I feel that I’ve mastered the footwear portion of my travel capsule. This is especially important for our walking-intensive holidays. If I hurt my feet due to poor footwear choices, I’ll put an awful damper on our holiday. 

Here are six tips that I swear by. 

Take Broken-In Footwear

Resist the urge to take unworn footwear on a trip. Footwear can be new — you may have bought the shoes especially for the trip — but they must be road tested and broken-in first, thereby ensuring that they pass the comfort test. 

Pack Multiple Pairs of Footwear

Don’t rely on one pair of shoes to get you through a trip no matter how short it is. Shoes can break, get wet, become uncomfortable or unwearable in some way and then you’re stuck. Pack plenty of backup. Don’t rely on purchasing spare shoes at your destination because then you’ll be wearing brand new shoes. 

Travel in the Bulkiest Pair of Shoes

If you’re travelling by plane, travel in the heaviest pair of shoes you’re taking on the trip to save suitcase space. It doesn’t really matter if it takes a little longer to take them off and put them back on at airport security. It’s a couple of extra minutes of your life and SO worth taking those shoes. 

All that said, if you do have some extra space, wear the shoes that are most comfortable for travel and the most convenient in the security line.

Build Your Travel Capsule from the Footwear Up

I’ve learned to create my travel outfits from the footwear up so that I don’t compromise on comfort and outfit styling. I’ve found that if I build my travel outfits from the top down, I end up wearing footwear that doesn’t go the distance, or work all that well with my outfits. 

Take the Dressy Shoes for the Dressy Outfit

Don’t compromise the footwear for important outfits. If you’re packing a dressy outfit, pack the exact dressy footwear that works with the look. Whenever I have left the perfect footwear for a dressy outfit at home to save space in the suitcase, I have regretted that decision. Feeling fab in the right footwear is totally worth the extra space.

Use Body Glide

I can’t stress this one enough: USE BODY GLIDE. The anti-chafing balm works wonders on your feet. I rub it quite liberally on the areas of my feet that are blister prone and pop on my shoes as usual. It doesn’t feel sticky at all. In fact, I can barely feel the balm on my skin.

Feel free to add to my list in the comments section.


Swimsuits & Accessories

A selection of one and two-piece swimsuits, and swimwear accessories

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Boho-Lite Items

Update your casual wardrobe with a few boho pieces for Spring and Summer.

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Mint Items

A selection of mint tops, bottoms, bags and footwear.

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Soft White Tops

A selection of soft white tops that work well as layering pieces, or worn on their own.

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A selection of dresses for a range of body types.

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Black, White & Pink

A selection of soft and comfortable pieces for dressy and casual occasions.

Read More

Four Fab Pairs of Jeans

These jeans silhouettes have been winners on those of my clients who needed to change things up from their regular jeans wearing style. All four styles work on both curvy and straighter body types

I just purchased the Citizens of Humanity Rocket High Rise Crop Jeans and LOVE them. I’ve already worn them three times with higher shaft booties — last season’s cognac Prada equestrian booties to be exact — because they’re comfortable, flattering, trendy, NOT sausage-casing, and refresh my smart casual style. I didn’t think that I would enjoy wearing high-rise, cropped dark jeans, but I was wrong. The high rise is comfortable and elongates the leg line when worn with a semi-tucked top. The cropped length feels new, and the dark denim is dressy. Why not!

  • White House Black Market Saint Honore Mid-Rise Culotte Jeans: These streamlined culottes look really good. Not too voluminous and great drape. They fit a curvy waist to hip silhouette extremely well. Soft denim. Faded yet quite luxurious. No rips and tears. Excellent on petites.
  • Express Dark Blue Faded Mid Rise Wide Leg Flare Jean: A great pair of dramatic retro flares at an affordable price. Comfortable, long and flattering.
  • Citizens of Humanity 'Rocket' High Rise Crop Jeans: Soft, flattering, high in the rise, and NOT sausage casing. They are soft and comfortably snug. Fabric is very substantial. Absolutely no bagging out after multiple wears, and the blue dye doesn't bleed onto your clothes either. Great on curvier figures too. THIS is how I expect premium denim to fit and feel, and it did not dissappoint. They run true to size, unlike most premium denim which has been running small for several seasons.
  • AG 'Contour 360 - The Farrah' High Rise Skinny Jeans (Hideout): These skinnies look like they're awfully body con, but they aren't. They mould to your body in a flattering way. They are extremely soft and quite high in the rise. Jet black, and dressy. Look like pants - not jeans.

Visit the collection page to see the items alongside my descriptions.

How to Wear Ponchos with Jeans

Ponchos are typically available in one of two silhouettes: those with neck openings and those with front openings. The former has a hole for your head and drapes over clothing without a centre front opening. It stays put once you style the direction of the drape. The latter opens down the centre front and looks more like a wrap. One of the front panels can be thrown over the opposite shoulder to create some extra drama. The open-front styles can be a little fussy, slipping around as you move. But they’re fine if you’re not having an active day with lots of arm movement. 

Ponchos in either silhouette can be solid or patterned, heavy or lightweight, fringed and bordered, long or short, and in any colour. Their fabrications vary from the breeziest cotton, cotton blends and silk, to the warmest of wools and wool blends. Their hemlines are asymmetrical by design to add structure to the voluminous silhouette. 

PLEASE don’t think that you have be slim, tall and willowy to wear a poncho. You don’t. I’m helping petite clients across all sizes style their ponchos and it’s going well. Choose a poncho that is a little shorter to start off with and wear the shorter portion in front so that the hem is straight or asymmetrical. Choose a style in a soft knitted fabric that drapes back onto the body as opposed to a rigid woven fabric that creates boxy folds on the body. Solids work best, but if you’re after a pattern, choose a subtle one.

Ponchos can be worn in all sorts of ways, but pairing them with jeans is the easiest of all. Here’s how to create some casual and smart casual combinations.

1. With Full-Length Skinnies

Combine a pair of skinny jeans with a layering top, poncho and boots. Add a bag and voilà, you’re out the door. The fitted silhouette of the skinnies offsets the volume of the poncho. Think long sleeved T-shirt, turtleneck, blouse, or button-down shirt as the layering top.

The poncho becomes more of a top than a jacket when it covers the top underneath. This is often the case with a shell top underneath.

Ponchos can also be very lightweight, and when they are the outfit can be finished off with sandals. 

The examples below show a high contrast between the jeans and poncho. Create a low contrast between the two items if you’re after an outfit with more vertical integrity.

525 America Patchwork PonchoKaren Zambos Vintage Couture Pocket WrapLauren Ralph Lauren Striped Knit Poncho

2. With Cropped Skinnies

Cropped skinnies are a trendy alternative to full-length skinnies. Wear them with the same types of layering tops, but wear footwear that is higher on the leg, like booties with higher shafts, or open shoes with high ankle straps. Cropped kick flares will also work, but won’t be quite as flattering.

Create a column of colour if you’re after more vertical outfit integrity, which might be the case for the version with cropped kick flares. 

Pair shorter ponchos with denim culottes — another variation on the cropped pants silhouette — and add heeled footwear.

MADELEINE THOMPSON Color-block Cashmere WrapTALITHA Sasha Fringed Embroidered Silk Poncho

3. With Flared Jeans 

A poncho with flared jeans is the most ‘70s and retro combination. Keep the flares fitted on the thighs to compensate for the oversized fit of the poncho. Wear the poncho a little shorter — like in example 2 below — for extra structure. Although these examples have been completed with sandals, feel free to wear boots, sneakers, pumps, loafers or oxfords.   

THE ELDER STATESMAN Ziggy Reversible Cashmere PonchoMISSONI Crochet-knit Wool-blend Poncho

Casual ponchos worn with fringe, faded flares and platforms create a boho chic vibe. Dressy ponchos worn in a crisp, hard-edged, graphic or minimal way look more avant-garde. Both looks are fun and fab, making the poncho a piece that transcends the trends

Although I’ve focussed on pairing ponchos with jeans, feel free to substitute the jeans for trousers in the same silhouette for business casual. Or wear ponchos over sheath dresses and pencil skirts. 

My clients either love or loathe the poncho. Those who enjoy drape, boho vibes, avant-garde silhouettes, or have very casual lifestyles, love it. Others find the item fussy, unflattering, overly casual, too blanket-esque, and above all far too unstructured. Personally, I’m not into wearing ponchos because I’m a big jacket and coat gal. But I love the look on others and I’m having a ball helping clients pull together their poncho outfits. What’s your take on the poncho, and do you wear it with jeans?