Outfit Formula: Summer Brights

There are countless ways to wear Summer brights. If you’re on Team Brights, figure out how you like to wear them in hot weather and run with it. You might prefer them in solids or patterns, or wear both. You might combine two to four solid brights in one outfit, or stick to one or two and ground them with neutrals. Wear brights on the top or bottom, or both. Wear them as a dress, suit, jumpsuit or romper. Or wear neutrals with bright footwear and bags. Do your own thing, and wear brights your way.

Here are four ways to wear Summer brights, and I’ll take a version of each, thank you very much. I wear brights all year round, and feel calm and energized by them. Note that jewel tones can be your brights.

1. Party Pants

Combine a pair of lightweight patterned Summer cropped pants with a top that picks up a colour in the pattern. Choose a neutral or non-neutral. You can tuck, semi-tuck, or leave the top untucked. This version is dressy but feel free to create a more casual vibe. Add shoes that work with the outfit, and earrings that pick up a colour in the pattern. Here, I like the way the neutral shoes match the top, and how the red earrings match the pants. Feel free to sub pants for a skirt if that’s more to your taste.

Party Pants

2. Bright Dress

Choose a bright solid or patterned dress. Add shoes and bag in a neutral or non-neutral, and Bob’s your uncle. It’s that easy! Here, the black slides bookend the model’s hair, and match the bag and the buttons of the dress. The matching creates a pulled together effect.

Bright Dress

3. Billowing and Beachy

Combine a solid or patterned billowing and breezy soft blouse or knitted top with a pair of shorts. The shorts can be blue denim, white, or another colour. Add Summery shoes like slides, sandals, huaraches, fashion sneakers, espadrilles or mules. Sunnies, bag, and a smile complete the look.

Billowing and Beachy

4. Summer Suit

A bright Summer suit in a lightweight cotton or linen might not make sense to you, but it does to those who work in an air-conditioned office or retail space. Working in air-conditioned stores all day, I’d be very comfortable in this outfit and welcome the coverage. Make sure you like the outfit without the topper too. That way when you remove the jacket, you feel just as fab. Pristine white sneakers match the white layering top, and create a fun Sporty Luxe vibe. By all means add dressier shoes instead. Add jewellery, watch and bag as desired.

Summer Suit

Who else bats for Team Summer Brights?

Team Pattern or Team Solid

There has been a large variety of pattern in retail over the last few years. From bold and bright, to quiet and subtle, and everything in between. Dots, stripes, checks, plaids, florals, paisley, animal print, novelty prints, conversational prints, ombré, geometric designs, swirls, galaxy designs, botanicals, bohemian, tie-dye, abstract designs. You name it, and it’s there. So it’s time for a poll.

You bat for Team Pattern if you incorporate a lot of patterns into your outfits. You bat for Team Solid if you wear patterns sparingly, if at all. Note that false plains and very narrow pinstripes count as patterns.

My style swings from being more solid or more patterned depending on the mood of the current leg of my style journey. For the last few years, I’ve added a lot more pattern to my wardrobe and I’m really enjoying it. I frequently wear patterns, and I pattern mix my outfits a lot too. I seldom wear a completely solid outfit, although I tend to keep my shoes and bags solid. I like subtle and bold patterns in neutrals and non-neutrals. I’m quite set in my ways with patterns, and keep them fairly classic, although the odd novelty pattern can pull at my heart strings. I like stripes, polka dots, checks, plaids, some florals and simple geometrics, and that’s about it.

I love a good clean and crisp solid, but for this poll I’m batting for Team Pattern because I’ve been VERY attracted to them over the last few years. I have to stop myself from buying them for a while, and focus on solids, or there will be chaos in my wardrobe.

Here are the patterned items in my wardrobe.

Boden
Linen Shirt
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16
Boden
Eldon Crop Cardigan
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12
Boden
Print Scarf
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7
Boden
Rosie Jersey Top
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17
Boden
Helen Sparkle Dress
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10
Boden
Blackwell Mac
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11
Boden
Modern Classic Shirt
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5
Boden
Clarissa Midi Dress
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10
Boden
Modern Classic Shirt
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12
Boden
Holywell Tote Bag
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21
Boden
Modern Classic Shirt
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11
Boden
Silk Shirt
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21
Boden
Bella Cashmere Hoodie
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27
Boden
Muriel Sweater
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25
Zara
Geometric Jacquard Top
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9
Club Monaco
Weylyn Shirt
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21
Boden
Kristie Broderie Top
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13
Boden
Velvet Emilia Blazer
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23
J.Crew
Vintage floral scarf
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24
Hobbs
Annie Pant
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5
Boden
Malden Tweed Pants
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17

Over to you. Do you bat for Team Pattern or Team Solid? Tell us why, and no batting for both teams. If you can’t pick a side, I’m serving grilled cilantro, lime and mint chicken drumsticks with a green salad and delicious green sauce to match at the bench. Mangos or chocolate for dessert.

Checking In: Style Goals for 2021

We are halfway through the year and fifteen months into the global pandemic. I can barely believe how time has flown by. In the US, life is slowly but surely normalizing. But in some ways, the world has changed forever. We’re adapting to new normals. I try to remember that each day brings us the power to be positive and hopeful amidst the stress, anxiety, loss, and uncertainty that we’ve experienced.

Today I’m reflecting back on the annual style goals I set back in January. Overall, things are going better than I expected.

1. Be true to my style aspirations that are Modern, Crisp, Retro, Soft and Dressy. Check! Although I’ve only just started working with clients in person, I continue to dress up in my usual way while working from home, doing errands on foot, and to walk our Yorkies Sam and Jo.

I’ve made some permanent changes to my style that were brought on by the pandemic. I’m wearing polished fashion sneakers, both low tops and hi tops, most of the time. I am seeing some clients wearing them too. Wearing fashion sneakers with clients is a HUGE change for me, and not my ideal choice. I’d rather be working with clients in dressier shoes because it feels and looks more professional. But because I walk almost everywhere and have fussy feet, I have to keep them happy and comfortable. It’s a healthy necessity at this point. I wear dressier shoes when I’m working with clients for a shorter amount of time.

I’m also leaving off the tinted moisturizer, wearing lip balm instead of lipstick, and keeping my short hair in a super easy wash-and-go pixie. For now, I’m enjoying my simpler beauty and grooming routine. I might be in the mood for a more complex routine next year.

2. Prioritize Quality. Check. My commitment to wearing beautifully constructed and finished items made of gorgeous fabrics that launder well, and LAST, is going gangbusters. Good quality has little to do with the price of the item these days, so it’s up to us to build our own set of quality check boxes and be as discerning as we can.

3. Make manageable sustainable and ethical wardrobe decisions. Check. I remain committed to making the most sustainable and ethical wardrobe decisions that I can manage. They aren’t perfect decisions, but I improve on them every year while keeping my wardrobe in a happy place. I de-pill garments and launder very carefully so that I can hold onto them for longer. I alter clothing more than I used to so that I can purchase from brands that produce sustainable and ethically. I pass on items to Dress for Success and to people who will happily continue wearing items that no longer work for me but work well for them. I cannot entirely avoid polyester and man-made fibres, but am wearing less of them. And I continue to be thoughtful and mindful with my wardrobe edits and additions to minimize waste.

4. Express my style through colour and my favourite patterns. Check. My style is more colourful, maximal, and pattern-rich than ever, because it positively affects my mood. For patterns, I’m sticking to the classics like stripes, dots, plaids, and some florals and geometrics because I don’t tire of them. For colours, I’m sticking with sour brights, whites, dark blue, light blue, gold, and blush. I find that I am VERY attracted to patterns on this leg of my style journey, and have to remember not to ignore solids. Here are some of my newer patterned acquisitions.

5. Continue exploring the world of fun and practical dressy pants. Check. I LOVE wearing fun dressier pants, and especially in the plaids and checks that are signature to my style. They are a great alternative to jeans, and always on my radar. So far, I’ve added navy gingham pants, and checked turquoise and orange wide leg pants.

6. Continue adding elegant-to-me touches to my style. Check. I do my hair and make-up, apply a scent, sport pretty clothes, maintain a high level of outfit neatness, and wear my pearls, EVERY day. No exceptions. This goes a long way to making me feel elegant, good about my appearance, and ready for whatever the day throws at me. I’m also wearing midi skirts, pants, jeans, tops and dresses that move in a way that looks elegant to my eye. Nothing too short, tight, or oversized. Lots of tailored fluidity, swoosh, and romantic flounce. Good posture makes me feel elegant too, and regular yoga practices help with that. I miss my refined non-fashion sneaker shoes and hope to wear them more frequently soon.

7. Sport my signature style, despite the trends. Check. That means edgy short blonde hair, equal parts classic and trendy, an emphasis on the “soft and pretty,” statement eyewear and handbag, natural make-up, modest coverage, white pearls, white footwear, white jeans, fluidly tailored outfits, lots of colour, classic patterns, pattern mixing, hectic colour combinations, light neutrals, dark blue, flat footwear, fashion sneakers, and no nail polish.

8. Refresh my at-home yoga capsule. Check, and here are the completed results.

9. Refresh my capsule of white tops for Spring and Summer. Check. I managed to get two white tops. A warmer hoodie for Spring which I’ve worn a lot, and a shirt for Summer. They are great and I adore them.

10. Refresh my white jeans capsule with wider silhouettes. Check. I found two great roomy white jeans styles. One is a high-rise boyfriend, and the other a very relaxed high-rise straight. I had the G-Stars significantly altered with stellar results. The Frame jeans are ripped and torn in the stock photo, but are not in real life.

11. Add more citron to my wardrobe, starting with a new dressy satchel. Check. I found a lovely lemony cardigan that I wear buttoned up like a top as a welcome change to pullovers. I also added a dressy chain-strap satchel. The bag is not a clear-cut replacement for my battered citron Furla, but it will share the wear because citron bags are workhorses for my style.

12. Add more flowing and fun skirts to my skirt capsule. Unfortunately nothing yet, but we have six months to go. That said, I don’t wear skirts in chilly and cold weather so this might have to wait till next year when I once again refresh my wardrobe for Spring and Summer.

13. Try a pair of G-Star jeans. Check. I got a great pair of G-Star white jeans, a sublime A-line denim skirt, and a classically tailored dark wash denim jacket. All work horses, and sustainably and ethically produced.

14. Add a blush pink wool coat to my coat collection. Nothing yet, but I hope to find a beautiful blush pink wool coat at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale preselections next month. It has to be sufficiently warm, long, fluidly tailored, and just the right shade of saturated blush. It’s a tall order, but you never know. I am in no rush, and eventually the right light pink coat will find me!

I’ve finished my refresher shop for Spring and Summer. All that’s left to do is wear the heck out of my stuff and repeat my favourite outfits. I hope we have a lovely hot Seattle Summer so that I can wear the heck out of my dresses and skirts. I’ll be thinking about Fall and Winter fashion soon when the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale comes around. In the meantime, over to you. Have you managed to achieve some of your style goals?

Roundups

Hints of Spring

Some tried-and-tested winning items to refresh your style for Spring.

Read More

Dressier Items

An assortment of dressier top picks might be just what the doctor ordered.

Read More

Quiet Items

A range of items for Team Quiet Wardrobe Items.

Read More

Items for Cooler Weather

A few top picks for Fall as we head into cooler weather.

Read More

Hints of Fall

A list of top-pick sneakers, knitwear and toppers.

Read More

Fab Finds: Shorts, Bags and Tops

Macy’s deserves a shout-out because they’ve upped their game. I’ve ordered online from them recently, and their service has been stellar. Fast, efficient, accurate, and reliable. They’ve updated their site so that it’s easier to use, and there are lots of fun new brands if you take the time to browse. The brand selection is quite different to Nordstrom, which increases the variety for all. There are lots of size-inclusive options, affordable prices, and you will almost always get a discount. It’s nice to share that this often overwhelming and understaffed retailer is weathering the storm of the pandemic and giving us better service and merchandise. Long may it last.

On to this week’s top picks.

1. Old Navy Shorts

Our forum members and some of my clients are having an excellent run with simple, casual and affordable Summer shorts from Old Navy. Here are the winners, and many with great reviews. There are structured and elastic waists, technical fabrics and natural fibres, lots of sizes, and lots of colours. So far, no post-laundry complaints either.

2. Radley London Handbags

Radley London makes extremely nice handbags and wallets. The quality is gorgeous, and if you’re into terriers like I am, their emblem is a Scottie. There are lots of colours and silhouettes to choose from. Most are structured and on the dressier side, although casual totes and playful doggy designs are there too. Hardware can be silver or gold, and the linings are made of recycled polyester. If you purchase the bag at Macy’s you will probably get a discount. I have a light blue Radley satchel that I got in London, and a red Radley wallet that I got at Macy’s. They are old and in pristine condition.

3. Good Casual Tops

Some of these tops have worked well on my clients, and others have good reviews. Most are fluid and very fluid, but some fitted and with waist definition. Many are made of natural fibres, some of blends, and some polyester too. It’s definitely a season for patterns, with fewer solid tops it seems. Fab for Team Pattern.

Loft
Gingham Wrap Blouse
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2
Loft
Clip Smocked Blouse
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4
Loft
Ribbed Racerback Tank
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4
Loft
Ribbed Racerback Tank
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8
Loft
Ribbed Racerback Tank
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5
Loft
Flutter Tee
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5
Boden
Jasmine Sweatshirt
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5
Boden
Laurie Linen Top
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7
Boden
Elizabeth Top
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4
Loft
Ribbed Henley Tee
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3
Athleta
Gap Urbanite Tank
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1

4. Alfani Petite V-Neck Sleeveless Blouse

These blouses come in petites and regular sizes and are amazingly versatile, and a good colour vehicle. Layer them under cardigans and jackets, or wear them on their own. The neckline and armholes aren’t too deep. They have worked well on a range of straighter and curvier clients with smaller and larger bust sizes. Affordable, easy to wear and pack, fluidly tailored, forgiving on the midsection, and wear like iron. You might need to size down.

5. Ecco Corksphere Thong Sandal

These thong sandals look more polished than regular rubber flip-flops. They are very comfortable, and provide some support. A fab client of mine who lives by the beach in Florida started out with a white pair that she matched with a white tote to create a complement. The white complement instantly became a frequent addition to outfits because it made her feel more pulled together. Because fancy-flip flops are a wardrobe essential for her style, she’s added a pair in black and metallic. She has the casual bags to match too. Easy!

Zappos
Ecco ECCO
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5
Zappos
Ecco ECCO
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1
Zappos
Ecco ECCO
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1
Zappos
Ecco ECCO
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2

Paisley: Yay or Nay

I mentioned in my trends analysis earlier this year that paisley patterns are having a fashion moment. Of course, paisley is always in style and defies the trends, but it’s nice to see it get a little extra love now and then.  

Paisley is an ornamental textile design of Persian origin that uses a teardrop-shaped motif with a curved upper end. Although the teardrop shaped motif is of Persian origin, and the textile designs that cram many of them into a rich pattern are originally Indian, the English name for the pattern derives from the town of Paisley. That’s in the west of Scotland, where paisley designs were first produced.

You can find paisley on any wardrobe item, but the pattern is most popular in tops and dresses. It’s next most popular in skirts, pants, scarves and ties. The colours and scale of paisley patterns runs the gamut. Some patterns are spaced, and others tightly packed. Paisley can be combined with patterns like florals and geometric designs too. Paisley can create a quiet or loud visual effect, and can be worn year round in seasonally appropriate fabric. Paisley can be tonal, monochromatic, or multi-coloured.

Here are some examples.

Nordstrom
Madewell Bandana
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2
Nordstrom
Floral Lapel Pin
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2

I don’t wear paisley often, but like it and vote yay. It reminds me of the psychedelic patterns of the ‘60s, and of Prince in the ‘80s, which are amongst my favourite fashion eras. I don’t have paisley items in my wardrobe at the moment, but have happily worn them in the past. I like paisley best in the form of a patterned dress or pants, although I’m not opposed to a paisley top, scarf or skirt. I like the large scale spaced paisley patterns best, and across neutrals and non-neutrals. I like quiet and loud versions, as long as the colours are a match with my sartorial preferences.

Over to you. Do you like and wear paisley?

AVENUE Brookline Print Dress Berry Paisley

Tahari ASL Paisley Print Tie Neck Blouse