Ensemble: Spring & Summer Black-Out

Black-out means wearing black from head to toe, or almost wearing black from head to toe. I have some clients who like to dress this way in the Spring and Summer because they simply LOVE to wear black. In the Summer months, you can showcase skin wearing black-out, which reduces the expanse of black clothing on the body. You can also add dark grey, navy, black lace, shiny textures, flouncy silhouettes and metallics to the outfit to soften and brighten the vibe. 

The outfit on the left is warm weather black-out with a touch of grey. The outfit on the right is Summer black-out all the way. Personally, I’d have preferred the outfit on the right with metallic sandals and clutch. I’d have added white pearls to the outfit on the left to brighten things up.

ALEXANDER MCQUEEN Cropped Checked Silk and Wool-blend Flared PantsCHLOÉ Plissé Georgette Pants

There are countless ways to wear Spring and Summer black-out. To my eye, black-out looks best when there’s a range of textures and some movement in the outfit. That way the black looks less flat and more alive. Or even better, when you add hints of metallic and/or dark blue. Here are three ensembles to get the creative juices flowing. Note: each of the ensembles can be remixed with any of the pairs of shoes and either bag. The textured topper can be worn across all three looks. 

Wide Crops & Silk Top

Combine a pair of black wide cropped pants, culottes or jeans with a silky black top to create textural interest in the outfit. The shine of the black top makes a big difference. A silky cami layered over a black tee is a fun way to go. Finish off the look with metallic, navy or black footwear and bag. It’s by no means essential, but matching the bag with the footwear is an easy way to pull together your look. 

Dress & Textured Topper

Combine a black knitted or woven dress with a textured or patterned black and charcoal grey or navy topper. Finish off the look with metallic, navy or black footwear and bag. By all means wear flats with a dress. WHY NOT?

Flared Crops & Flouncy Lace

Combine a pair of trendy bottoms like black flared crops with a flouncy black top that has lace detailing. The flounces add movement to the outfit, which prevents the all-black vibe from looking lifeless. The lace adds textural interest. Finish off the look with metallic, navy or black footwear and bag. Navy nail polish is fun with the look. Tying a neckerchief to your bag is another way to go. Add jewellery, eyewear and watch as desired.

Ensemble: Spring & Summer Black-Out

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Link Love: Focus on Fabrics

A new trend in fashion are brands that are building their entire identities around the materials they use. Racked has put together a list of labels that are putting their fabrics front and centre.

An interesting look at the design choices and philosophy of Marimekko, the famous Finnish brand.

From animal print to denim: why hotels are upping their bathrobe game.

Meet Mia Vespers, the 25-year-old designer turning vintage tapestries into modern outerwear.

According to The Guardian, tulle is getting a fashion makeover for 2017.

Fab Links from Our Members

This article caught Kerry’s attention after reading forum member Jenn’s #30Wears thread.

As most of us dress casually at least some of the time (and some do so practically all the time), but still want to look good, The Cat thought Brenda Kinsel’s post may be of interest.

Minimalist is loving Erica Bunker’s blog and outfits.

Jenni NZ is currently looking into the Kibbe types, and discovered interesting historical info going all the way back to the 1930s here.

After the “Clear Knee Mom Jeans”, Topshop is now selling “Moto Clear Plastic Straight Leg Jeans”. Suz is baffled, and wonders if these are the new sweatpant?

A Non-Neutral Shoe-Bag-Scarf Complement

A pair of non-neutral shoes with matching bag made my must haves list for Spring and Summer 2017 because we haven’t seen non-neutral shoes make a fashion statement in a while. They look so fresh at the moment. I was in the mood for red shoes a few months ago and promptly added a pair of bright red loafers to my Spring and Summer footwear capsule. Coincidentally, they match a chain-strap crossbody bag I bought in Amsterdam a few years ago. The new loafers and bag also match a new floral scarf that I bought at J.Crew. Here are the items in a collection.

It can feel a little jarring to wear a pair of non-neutral shoes in an outfit, especially when they make a bold statement. That’s why pairing them with a bag or/and a scarf that picks up the colour of the shoes is an effective styling strategy. The repetition of the colour pulls the outfit together to create a cohesive whole. Pairing my red loafers with either the matching bag or scarf creates sufficient outfit harmony for me, although sometimes I combine all three items just for fun. 

Remember to create a “shoe-bag-scarf” complement when you’re having trouble incorporating bright footwear into an outfit. Or choose either a bag or a scarf to pair with the shoes. Of course, you can absolutely throw a pair of non-neutral shoes into an outfit without repeating the colour elsewhere in your look if you don’t find it jarring. But if your bright shoes are orphaned, creating a complement for them will probably do the trick.

Roundups

Replenishing my Basics

I’ve been replenishing wardrobe basics recently, and these are the items that work well for me.

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Spring Jackets

Swap out your Winter coat for a jacket as we move into a lovely mild Spring.

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Affordable Tops

An assortment of tops that won’t break the bank.

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Shoes in Wide & Narrow Widths

Comfortable and current footwear that’s available in wide, regular and narrow widths.

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Quality Pieces

These dressier and modern classic quality pieces are well worth a look.

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Comfy Office Shoes

An assortment of lovely office footwear that will be kind to your feet.

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Outstanding Outfit Bloggers

Elegant Eclectic in Washington

Full-time fashion and lifestyle blogger Sylvia (48) lives in Washington D.C. and documents her outfits over at Simply Sylvia. She spent most of her adult life in Paris, and admires the way Parisian women “either abide by or ignore fashion rules.” Sylvia chooses her clothes based on what she thinks will look good on her, and her style is quite eclectic. From dressy to sporty casual, preppy to edgy and Modern Classic, she wears it all with equal aplomb.

“My style has adapted to fit my current lifestyle. I used to work full-time in a law firm, so my day-to-day outfits were pencil skirts and fitted dresses, or pants and blouses, and heels. Now that I am a stay-at-home mom, I dress more casually (but hopefully no less stylishly). I would describe my style as effortless, edgy chic.”

Sylvia - 1

For a trip to London, Sylvia wanted lightweight clothes that allow for easy layering and comfortable shoes for all the city walking. This polished casual outfit fits the bill perfectly. Sylvia casualizes a dressy gold metallic midi skirt with a graphic tee and denim jacket. Tucking the T-shirt lengthens the leg line, especially when you wear flats, and showcases the fab pleated skirt. The white sneakers complement the T-shirt and fun oversized sunnies. So does the eye-catching colour blocked bag, which adds extra polish and outfit interest.

Sylvia - 2

Red and black accents give this on trend jeans and sweater look lots of extra punch. Our blogger is sporting cropped frayed hem jeans with a cream texture-rich cable-knit sweater. The side vents and red and black detailing create playful visual interest and give the look a subtle sporty vibe. Layering the sweater over a tee provides coverage and adds warmth. The stars of the show are Sylvia’s bright red boots and black and white chevron patterned bag. Vibrant graphic fabness!

Sylvia-  3

Sylvia pairs two statement pieces found at Zara to create a bold, feminine look. She’s tucked a gingham blouse into a form-fitting navy midi skirt that hugs her curves. The interesting silhouette of the crisp blue and white gingham blouse with its on trend bell sleeves, high neckline, and bright red embroidery is a statement in itself. Combining the blouse with the elegant frilled skirt and black suede lace-up pumps amps up the style factor even more, and gives the outfit a flamenco dancer vibe. Sylvia’s shoulder bag with the cream, red and blue ribbon further plays up that festive feeling.

Sylvia - 4

This is a wonderful example of Angie’s Easy & Pretty Spring Tweed ensemble. Our 5’4’’ blogger is wearing high-waisted cropped jeans with raw-edge panels. The distressed detailing juxtaposes perfectly with the ladylike Chanel-esque topper. Sylvia has left the pretty confetti coloured tweed jacket open to pattern mix with a nautical blue and white striped marinière tee. Tucking the fluid fit tee showcases a black belt that echoes the tips of the two-toned low-heeled slingback pumps. Her tousled waves and oversized sunnies add just the right amount of nonchalance. Sylvia’s beloved shoulder bag makes its third appearance, and works splendidly with the colours of the jacket. Here’s to remixing favourite pieces!

Sylvia - 5

For this stunning and dramatic tonal look in dove grey Sylvia once again brings together two statement pieces. The wool sleeveless dress with its asymmetrical pleated design, tailored waist and full skirt is a little work of art. The architectural lines of this unique dress contrast beautifully with the gauzy fabric of the billowy blouse. The transparent material and oversized bow provide soft, romantic contrast. Refined pointy-toe patent pumps and a black patent bag with gunmetal chain strap are the ladylike finishing touches.

Sylvia - 6

More gingham fun, this time in a smart casual Modern Classic outfit that remixes several fab pieces featured in the previous looks. Sylvia dresses up her distressed, irregular hem jeans with a girly gingham blouse and refined accessories. Tucking the blouse into the jeans tempers the volume of the pouffy bell sleeves. The elbow-length sleeves show the forearms which also creates structure. Popping the collar adds a preppy touch. Our blogger’s black and white chevron Gucci bag and two-toned slingbacks don’t match but go together brilliantly. Large sunnies and soft pink lipstick finish off the look.

What do you think of Sylvia’s elegant and varied style? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out the rest of her outfits on her blog, Simply Sylvia.

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Fab Tie-Front Tops

Tie-front tops are shirts, blouses and knitted tops with self-fabric belts or contrast belts that tie at the natural waist. Some retailers refer to them as tie tops, belted tops or wrap tops. Before the addition of a belt, fits are tailored, fluid or oversized. Regardless of the fit, once the belt is tied around the smallest part of the waist, a fabulous amount of structure is created. 

Tie-front tops are made of woven or knitted fabrics across all sorts of weights. Some tie-front tops are as sheer and delicate as a silk scarf, whereas others feel as substantial as a lightweight jacket. Lengths vary from hip length to tunics. Some are a little shorter than hip length, making them ideal to wear with skirts. The collection below showcases both dressy and casual tie-front tops for visual reference. 

Ann Taylor
Side Tie Top
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Top Pick
7
Zara
Striped Blouse Details
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Top Pick
2

Tie-front tops are a nice way to update a business casual or business formal wardrobe. They’re also fab with jeans for a smart casual vibe. The self-colour belt does a marvelous job of elongating AND defining the waist by accentuating vertical integrity. It also does wonders to shorten a long waist. 

The tie-front top is naturally suited to a taller, curvier figure with a defined and regular or long waist. I’ve also seen it work on short waists and petites with a smaller bust when the proportions and drape are dead right. If you’re apple shaped or carry a little extra on the midsection, you’ll find that some of the fluid styles with wider belts effectively conceal muffin top providing a relaxed tailored look. The silhouette can also add curvature to a rectangular figure or inverted triangle body type with a straight waist and hip. A short waist with a large bust on the other hand, is trickier to fit with a tie-front top because it creates “a block” or “a shelf” on the torso despite the cinching in at the waist. In this case a wide or V-neckline can break up the block and create a more streamlined silhouette. 

I’m welcoming the tie-front top with open arms because we desperately need a break from the slouch — or at least some alternatives to it. You know that retail has gone overboard with sloppy oversized fits when tailored items look fresh and new. I vote bring back the tailoring and amp up the polish. I want to give these tops a whirl, but prefer them sans topper so they’ll be high Summer items for me. How about you?

ESTNATION Belted Wrap Blouse

PROTAGONIST Cotton-poplin Tunic

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