Refined Retro Drape

These outfits are comprised almost entirely of golden oldies, which feels good after sporting lots of new items this Spring and Summer. Apart from our rainy weekend, we continue to have record-breaking extraordinary Summer weather which means that I can wear sheer and flimsy separates with open-heeled shoes and no topper. Glorious! 

Creating outfits with a soft, pretty, refined and ladylike integrity is one of my style goals, which makes Retro Futurism the style persona I aspire to on this leg of my journey. This means wearing updated Retro pieces with a big dose of Modern. In both of these outfits the tops are Retro and their support acts are Modern. I love the delicate fabrication of the tops and their intricate design details. They make the outfits feel more refined and soft, which is just what I’m after. 

Black Blouse - Full

Black Blouse - Close

I seldom pair two black separates to create an outfit because I find the combination too severe for my style. And it just doesn’t make me happy. But in this instance, there are several factors that soften the pairing. My skin peeking through the black lace breaks up the expanse of black. Green specs, gold clutch and pony footwear break up the black a little further, and the cropped length of the pants and the short sleeves of the top showcase less black and more skin. 

Black Blouse - Full with Bag

Black Blouse - Full

Black Blouse - Back

My silk harem pants are six years old, and my cropped lace blouse is three years old. Both pieces are still going strong and have a high longevity factor. The blouse is too retro to date, while the pants are too avant-garde to be affected by trends. The pieces work well together because the pants look best with a cropped top that showcases its high waist and very poufy and pleated silhouette. I wore the outfit with sheer black hose, gold ankle strap pumps, and radio clutch to a cocktail party last year. This year I updated the dressy combination with animal print ankle strap pumps and a gold clutch. No need for jewellery other than my watch and wedding ring. It’s the most comfortable cocktail outfit of all time. 

Cream Blouse - Full

The A.L.C Clay print silk top is a recent NAS purchase, which I adored from the moment I saw it because of its glam retro appeal. I bought it to wear with my black fit-and-flared Valentino skirt and these harem pants. Although both bottoms look best with shorter tops, the welt of this blouse makes it sit higher on the hip which creates interesting proportions that are just flattering enough. It also gives the roomy front pleated drape of the pants some structure. 

Cream Blouse - Full with Bag

Cream Blouse - Side

I’m generally not into wearing this much drape in one outfit. But the fabrics are woven, keeping them crisp and dressy, and the lengths of the pieces are short, minimizing the potential for arty drape to overwhelm my frame. The pony pumps mimic the pattern of the blouse for a bit of matchy-matchy fun. Why not! I’ve worn this combination out to lunch with a friend and to shop with a client and felt fab on both occasions. 

Cream Blouse - Close

These outfits make me smile for reasons that go beyond my love for the actual silhouettes. First, harem pants were my “poison eye” until we visited Tel Aviv and saw women sport them with verve and panache. I was greatly inspired and bought these soon after that trip. They remind me of how important it is to keep an open fashion mind. Second, the lace top was a birthday gift from my sweet Papa which makes it extra special. Third, I keep on wearing these pony Okala ankle strap pumps because they kick things up a notch. That’s a good reminder to wear the HECK out of the pieces you love.

Cream Blouse - Back

And last, my very feminine and ladylike late Mum would have turned 74 today. She loved wearing black and white, making these outfits dead right to post on her special day.

Booties For Narrow Ankles

It’s hard to find booties for narrow ankles. Naturally, a bootie in a smaller size will fit more closely on the ankle. Things get tricky when you wear a larger foot size and have narrow ankles, because the fit around the ankle increases as the shoe size increases. 

If this is the case for you, then these styles might fit the bill. Be sure to browse through all the colour options. 

  • MATISSE Nugent: These are very comfortable, and there is room for an orthotic or cushioning insole. I love the way they dip in front and lengthen the leg line when worn with bare legs. I've had the cheetah print for years and am considering these in the speckled white too. Works for a low and regular volume foot. Runs half a size small.
  • Corso Como 'Dynamite' Ankle Bootie (Women): Technically more of a shootie and oxford hybrid, but comfy and refined nonetheless. Elegantly menswear-inspired and gorgeously gold. The pointy toe is quite dramatic so consider yourself warned.
  • Topshop 'Mary' Chelsea Boot (Women): A patent rust-coloured bootie with a higher shaft is a rare find. Moderately comfortable and equestrian-inspired.
  • Topshop 'Midnight' Pointy Toe Boot (Women): A sleek pointy toe bootie with a stable thick heel. Moderately comfortable. Great snug ankle fit.
  • H By Hudson H by Hudson Azi Off White Leather Ankle Boots: I haven't seen these in person yet, but the distressed leather in a pretty shade of cream is fun. Casually Elegant. The double zipper detailing is sleek, and the cognac trim is unique.

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

August Recap: Wardrobe Management

During August I thought and wrote a lot about closet editing and wardrobe management, so that’s our theme for the monthly newsletter. Also this month: four ensembles, two outstanding outfit bloggers and other must-reads.

If you subscribe to the newsletter, then it’s probably already in your inbox. If not, please consider signing up. For those who aren’t signed up, here is the online version.

August Recap 


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.

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The Skirt Purchasing Guideline

The most common orphaned items in my clients’ wardrobes are skirts. And the most common silhouette of orphaned skirt is a fit-and-flared style, especially when the client is short waisted. Tucking a top into a high waistband is tricky on a short waist, and finding a top that is sufficiently fitted and cropped to wear untucked is a tall order. 

That’s why I’m reminding you about what I used to call the skirt rule. But since there is only ONE rule on YLF — which is to have fun with fashion — I’m now calling it the skirt purchasing guideline: 

Don’t purchase a skirt unless you purchase the accompanying top at the same time, or you already have a top that will work in your closet.

The first part of the guideline is easy because you’re pulling together a complete outfit right away. No orphans. The second part requires a little more discipline because wardrobe items that we think will work together in our head don’t always do so in reality. Try on the skirt with the tops you had in mind to make sure that they DO work. If they don’t, return the skirt. 

You could hang on to the skirt and hope that in time you find a top or two to work with it. But this takes even more discipline, and can lead right back to the orphaned skirt phenomenon that we’re trying to prevent. A skirt that stays in your wardrobe for more than a season without a support act to wear with it is dead weight. Be strict from the start if you know you’ll battle to find a top to go with that skirt.

Fashion News Roundup: Week 35, 2015

A T-shirt that will last 30 years, Donna Karan’s memoir, the first-ever Stuart Weitzman TV commercial and other style news that caught our attention this week.

Quote for the Day

I like this down-to-earth quote by Stella McCartney on why she doesn’t subscribe to fast fashion because it also touches on the fact that budgetting is an integral part of the process as sustainable clothing often costs more:

“When I design, it’s about designing pieces that are stand-out, staple, long-term commitments in your life. They’re made beautifully in the finest places in the world and should be cared for, loved, and handed down to the next generation. So for me, it’s not about ‘wear now, buy now’ or whatever. It’s about buy[ing] whenever you can buy it, whenever works for you, and wear[ing] it forever.”