I visit my Dad in the Netherlands three to four times a year, and I always do some shopping with dear friend Inge when I’m there. That way I can refresh my wardrobe with items that are different to what I find in the US. It’s also fun to shop with Inge.

Dutch retail was full of new Spring collections and looked fabulous. Bright red, emerald green, yellow, pale pink, sea foam green, peach, white, cream, tan, and every shade of blue reigned supreme. Earth tones like cinnamon, olive, khaki and mustard were there too. Black and grey took a backseat, but there was lots of dark blue. Lilac was absent, although well represented in homeware.

Silhouettes were maximal with lots of flounces, embellishments, pleats, and as patterned as can be. Botanical, polka dot, stripe, floral and foliage patterns were ubiquitous. Solids were not the norm and neither were simple silhouettes. Tops and bottoms were both hard and soft, wide and narrow, and long and short creating a melting pot of variety.

Footwear was not the sneaker and oxford fest I saw this time last year, although the styles were well represented. The most popular footwear looks for Spring 2018 were loafers, mules and ballet flats — all with heels up to an inch high. Next were slingback pumps with block heels, sneakers, oxfords and suede booties with lower shafts. Western boots were coming through too. Footwear was colourful, patterned and not black. Red, taupe, blush, navy and white shoes were everywhere. Patterned and embroidered shoes made quite the statement. Heels higher than two inches were very hard to find.

On my most recent trip I brought back some Spring and Summer wardrobe items. The exact items are represented in the collection below. It’s been a very tomato red year, and I’m not complaining because red makes me happy.

  • Botanical Silk Front Pullover
  • Safari Jacket
  • Graphic Botanical Scarf
  • Chunky Spring Pullover
  • Blanket Scarf
  • Ballet Flats

I can’t return the items that I purchase when I travel so I have to be very sure about them. Here’s some of the thinking behind the purchases:

  • I don’t have a rigid shopping list, nor do I buy items that I have in abundance (I make exceptions for handbags). I’m careful with my purchases because I want to keep my wardrobe moderately sized and wear the heck out of my clothes.
  • I amp up the shopping at the start of the new retail season when it’s fresh to my eye and has the best assortments.
  • I like to get items that are harder to find in Seattle.
  • I was NOT allowed to buy jeans unless they were red because I recently refreshed my Spring and Summer jeans capsule and feel sorted with blue, white and patterns.
  • I was NOT allowed to buy another Spring and Summer dress because I recently found five dresses that do the trick.
  • I was NOT allowed to buy booties unless they were tailored bright white or tomato red darlings that went the distance.
  • I had tops on my list since I buy those last and never seem to have enough. I was instantly drawn to the silk front botanical pullover because it’s casual in a dressy way, pretty, my colour, and uniquely pattern mixed. I can layer it under jackets AND it makes a statement on its own. Versatile.
  • I was NOT allowed to buy a Spring coat unless it was turquoise.
  • The solid chunky COS cotton pullover was a no-brainer because it’s a repeat style in my colour. I bought the light blue and white last year and wore them a lot in Spring. They semi-tuck well into high-waisted jeans and are warm, yet crisp on cold Spring days.
  • I was open to a warm-weather jacket but only if it was very different to what I have. I saw the tan safari jacket, knew Greg would love it, tried it on and loved it too. The tan works well with my hair, the tomato piping gives it a kick, and I can wear it open or fastened at the waist. Great fluid and structured versatility. It’s sueded and unexpectedly soft.
  • I enjoy wearing scarves and the Netherlands has an excellent selection because EVERYONE wears them. Since I love the retro matchy-matchy vibe, I had to get the cotton square scarf that matched the botanical pullover. I can wear it with either the patterned or solid top, and it looks good with the safari jacket. I learned a new-to-me way to tie the square scarf from the sales assistant.
  • I saw what I thought was a regular scarf in my shade of red at COS and had to try it on. I tried to tie it my way, which did not work. I asked the sales assistant if it was a scarf? He replied, “No, it’s a blanket….or a floor mat.” We laughed, and then he showed me how to drape it like a scarf. It’s a different look for me, and I was game to give it a bash. I can also pin my special Yorkie brooch onto the blanket scarf to keep the drape in place.
  • I had a pair of ballet flats on my list because they look fresh, Euro, dainty, and pretty. I found a few maximal pairs and couldn’t decide between the red or blush. I eventually chose blush because they’re more refined and Greg preferred them. They have a fun patterned heel and draped bow making them look different from the norm.

My 2018 Spring and Summer refresh is almost complete, and I’m finishing up early this year (I usually complete my seasonal refresh by May). I have an effective, cohesive wardrobe of items that are in good condition, fit well, fulfill my needs, and make me happy. As a result, I seldom have glaring wardrobe holes. Most of my purchases are about adding that next layer of newness so that I keep my fashion feet moving and don’t get bored with my style. If I can find a few more Summer tops in white, blush, navy or citron, that would be fabulous.