Although I bat for Team Pretty, I also enjoy the challenge of softening hard-edge looks. This particular outfit takes the masculine, hard edge a little outside my comfort zone, but it’s fun to wear. It is the polar opposite to the soft and pretty outfit that kicked off the year. The combination of lots of black, lots of leather, severe shoes, a very angular clutch, and awfully masculine trousers is what makes it atypical for my style — more typical would be wearing one of these pieces in a softer ensemble. But there was “just enough softness” to prevent the outfit from bossing me around. 

I’m having a negative reaction to the extra tight and cropped skinnies that are dominating the retail landscape. I like skinnies, but prefer older silhouettes that are longer and looser. As a result, I’ve been filling up my wardrobe with roomy straight legs, baggy boyfriend jeans, slouchy pants, and dressy bootcut trousers. Any trouser and jeans style that is more voluminous than “sausage-casing-skinnies” has my attention, which is why I bought True Religion’s Overdye Cameron Boyfriend Jeans. I love the denim version, so thought that a cotton style in a light colour would also be fab. 

Hard Chinos Coat - Full

Hard Chinos Coat - Side

Hard Chinos - Wooden Bridge

These boyfriend jeans are essentially baggy stone chinos and a very different look for me. Although I adore clothing with an androgynous integrity, I have never gravitated towards chinos. I usually find the stone versions cold, overly casual, a little too “combat-inspired”, and slightly frumpy. They would have been a completely different animal in bright white, and would have looked a whole lot prettier to my eye. But I kept the stone pair because I love the way they fit, both back and front, and enjoy the challenge of making them feel like they belong to my style.

Hard Chinos - Gravel Path

Hard Chinos - Back Pockets

I like chinos best with a black or white support act, although I will have a go at matching these pants with pastels and sour brights too. Fitted black turtlenecks are one of my wardrobe essentials and a true modern classic. All classic pieces need a bit of an update from time to time, so I added a fluid black turtleneck to my essentials capsule to refresh the silhouette. I found this one at Zara, loved it, and duplicated it in navy. It has a welt, but is too long and sloppy-looking to faux-tuck. So I fully tuck the top for a more polished effect. 

Hard Chinos - Jumper Close

These pants need a heel to prevent them from looking dumpy. To bookend the top, I matched them with new pointy toe black booties by Fidji, which are tailored and refined in fit, but still pretty severe. The Alexander Wang clutch is a recent purchase from the Rack, and also hard-edged. I loved the simplicity of the style and crisp detailing, so it earned a spot amongst my other wardrobe pets. If I do want to create a softer look with a black clutch, I’ll use my little Chanel. 

The soft components of the outfit that make it completely wearable for me, are the additions of the Burberry belt, my new apple green specs, and nude lipstick. A black belt, black specs, and dark lipstick would have sent me over the edge, and I wouldn’t have felt right in the combination at all. Too harsh and not my look. Small details however, make all the difference. 

Hard Chinos - Jumper Closer

I topped off the outfit with Rudsak’s Raven Asymmetrical Mixed Media coat, which I bought as last year’s Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Despite being a hard-edged and tough piece, this coat was love at first sight because of its clean lines and impeccable crisp quality. I fell in love with the fit and length of the sleeves, which are fashionably long and narrow. This length of sleeve is a rare treat for my gorilla arms so I’m as happy as a clam. The coat reminds me of something Greg would actually wear in a more masculine version, and it reminds us both of Carrie-Anne Moss in “The Matrix”. So we call it my Matrix coat. 

Hard Chinos - Coat Close

Hard Chinos - Pants Full

Although I’m very happy with this outfit, I’m even happier when I incorporate more soft elements. In one variation of the outfit I swapped out the chinos for a pair of cream and black micro-checked straight legs and replaced the fluid black turtleneck with a very fitted one. The checks are pretty and the body hugging turtleneck a dash more feminine. In another I swapped the chinos for white boyfriend jeans. White is prettier than stone, and popped me back into my comfort zone. 

It’s fun to wear outfits that challenge us from time to time. It keeps our style fresh, our fashion feet moving, and the creative juices flowing. There is a sense of accomplishment in working through the style challenge, and it can help us to pinpoint the components that increase the happiness factor of an outfit. 

Hard Chinos - Stone Bridge