Ensemble: Stripe, Stripe & Colour Block

This ensemble was inspired by an extremely polished executive client who I went shopping with last week to refresh her wardrobe for Spring and Summer. Her preferences are for neutral, tonal and modern classic pieces in luxurious fabrics that look very sharp and professional. 

We paired an ink blue pinstripe sheath dress with a short fitted Spring jacket in a bolder navy and cream stripe. We finished off the look with cement-toned colour blocked pumps, a bag to match, and bangles and watch in gold. Apart from the bag, the exact items are shown in the collection. 

The subtle match of the stripes felt adequately professional for my client, who liked the freshness of the combination. Minimally Maximal. The best part was matching the combination with LIGHT footwear and bag, making it look more “Spring” than “dead of Winter.” 

I’ve put together similar combinations in this post. Choose any colour palette, although dark neutrals are probably the easiest to pull together for the look. Here are the components:

Pinstripe Dress: Choose a pinstripe dress. Try a pinstripe skirt and solid top if you don’t have a striped frock. I threw in a floral in the same palette, just for fun. Stripes look fab with florals. 

Striped Jacket: Layer a striped jacket over the dress or skirt and top combination. The stripes can work together in a subtle or bold way. By all means pair dark blue with grey and black. A shorter jacket usually works best layered over a dress or skirt, but a longer fitted style can work just as well to create traditionally flattering proportions. 

Footwear: Add colour blocked footwear that works with the outfit. I’ve chosen professional pumps and sandals, but feel free to add flats, loafers, oxfords, peep-toe booties, and even fashion sneakers. 

Accessories: A light-coloured bag brightens a dark outfit. Choosing a bag that matches the footwear is an easy way to pull together a pattern-mixed look. Add jewellery, eyewear and watch as desired.

Think of other ways to combine two sets of stripes and a colour blocked item if you don’t have the components for this ensemble. A colour blocked bag, dress or jacket could be a fun substitute. And a chevron-patterned piece works as a stripe or colour blocked piece.

Ensemble: Stripe, Stripe & Colourblock

Favourite Lipsticks

I love lipstick. I apply it several times a day because I enjoy the visual polish of well-applied make-up. I also enjoy that it deepens the colour of my lips, accentuates their shape, and keeps them moisturized. 

I’ve been a fan of Laura Mercier’s Stickgloss for years because it’s waxy, very moisturizing, shiny, doesn’t stain my lips, and lasts a little longer than other lipsticks. My favourite colour “Patchouli” is about to be discontinued, which is annoying. I also wear “Brown Sugar” and “Baked Earth”, but don’t like those colours quite as much. 

So I asked one of my clients who’s a make-up whizz to suggest her favourite lipstick brands. She mentioned lipsticks by Bobbi Brown, Urban Decay and Yves Saint Laurent. We walked past the YSL counter while shopping at Nordstrom, and I found a colour and texture that was very close to Laura Mercier’s “Patchouli” that’s been discontinued. Lucky! It is YSL’s Rouge Volupté Shine Oil-in-Stick Lipstick in shade “03”. The concept is the same. It’s a very waxy lipstick that feels like a mixture of lippie and gloss. Moisturizing, non-staining, and lasts quite a while. It has a slight scent to it, which I like, but might put you off.

I used to be a MAC lipstick fan, but after a while found their formulas drying. I’m open to more moisturizing lipstick suggestions if you have them. Or simply share your favourite lipstick brands in the comments section. Today is a lippie day.

Nordstrom Roundup: Comfy Office Shoes

I’ve been doing a fair bit of career wear shoe shopping with clients lately, and their feelings are unanimous. Comfort is key, modern classics rule, and there is little tolerance for trendy footwear that is unkind to their feet. Many seemed to have bought footwear last year that looked fashionable and ultra gorgeous, but didn’t go the distance. NO MORE. 

I very much understand the need for extra comfortable shoes because I too battle to find dressier styles that I can walk in for miles. You can’t wear sneakers and casual sandals when your dress code is business formal, business casual or smart casual, so you might have to compromise a little on “trendy aesthetics” to get happy feet. 

Here’s a selection of comfortable office footwear across a range of price points. Most styles have been tried and tested on clients. Some of the styles are repeats from last year, they are that good. Of course some styles are more comfortable than others. Some styles are less dressy because I’ve included footwear for “Casual Fridays”. There are colour options for each style so make sure you browse the links. Grab those fabulous low block heels while you can. 

You can see my descriptions alongside the items on the collection page.

Roundups

Comfy Office Shoes

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

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Easy Tops

A selection of easy-to-launder tops with interesting design details.

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More Hints of Spring

A selection of wardrobe items to kick-start your Spring wardrobe refresh.

Read More

Comfy Fashion Sneakers

Sneakers can be worn with most outfits these days, and here’s a fun roundup.

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Embroidery & Floral

A selection of maximal items to kick-start your seasonal refresh.

Read More

Hints of Spring

Feast your eyes on fab new stuff as the first of Spring 2017 hits retail stores.

Read More

Refreshing My Jeans Capsule for Spring and Summer

I wear jeans a lot because they suit my lifestyle and are easy to launder. They are also versatile, robust and comfortable. When styled in a particular way, a great pair of jeans can take you almost anywhere these days, which is part of the appeal. Dress them up or down and feel fabulous. As a proud Gen X-er, jeans are an extremely important part of my wardrobe, which is why my capsule gets lots of attention each season. 

I wear jeans in shades of blue and in a crisp optical white. I have a pair of pearl grey jeans which are more like a bone because they’re very light. I don’t feel great in black jeans, but do wear dressy black trousers. I’d be in the market for a coloured pair of jeans if the silhouette was not body-con skinnies. 

I can and do wear jeans year round, which is another good reason to refresh with regularity and forethought. You can see my current jeans assortment in this collection.

Wardrobe Essentials

Given the frequency that I wear jeans, a large part of the capsule are Wardrobe Essentials. It’s the component of my style where I enjoy injecting a trendy integrity, so even the essentials have to be TRENDY. The silhouette evolves over time to align with current trends. For the last few seasons, cropped straight and flared jeans have been my essential jeans. Before that they were boyfriend jeans, and before that they were straight and skinny jeans. And way before that they were bootcut jeans. I’m still wearing one pair of white boyfriend jeans. The exact essentials from my wardrobe are represented in this collection. 

Statement Pieces

A smaller subsection of my jeans are statement pieces: Two pairs of bell-bottoms, which are wider at the hem and more dramatic in person (they are not bootcuts), a pair of embellished wide crops, and moto jeans. 

Although statement pieces can become wardrobe workhorses, these jeans are not workhorses for me. I LOVE the bell-bottoms, but need to wear them with heels and in dry weather. I keep them for short client meetings and going out at night. I LOVE the wide crops, but still want to keep them a bit special so I don’t wear them as often. The moto jeans are body-con, so I have to be “in the mood” to wear very tight jeans.

Here is my collection of statement jeans. 

Spring & Summer Refresh 

I passed on two pairs of statement jeans this year: a gold pair that had faded and was no longer gold, and my infamous jodhpur jeans that have worn through at the knees. I refreshed my capsule with statements and non-essentials, since I felt light on statement jeans and have plenty of essentials. 

I added a high-rise cropped flared pair with jagged hem and exposed button fly. A cropped flared pair with high-contrast embroidery, and a pair of dark wash culottes.  The first two pairs became instant statement workhorses because they are easy to pair with very comfortable footwear, are “rain-friendly”, and a comfy streamlined fit. The dark culottes are fussier and wider, and also stretch after a few hours of wear. I like the way they look at the start of the day, but don’t like how they bag out later. Rotten luck. Here are the exact jeans represented in a collection. 

Going forward, I am set with essential jeans. I might add another statement style if it comes my way, but I’m also not forgetting one of 2017 style goals: “To wear dressy trousers more frequently, despite the dry-cleaning bill, because I feel great in trousers”. And that means wearing jeans less frequently!

The Resistance to Cropped Wide Pants

Cropped wide pants, or narrow culottes, have slowly been gaining momentum for five seasons. One of the most popular silhouettes on the catwalks at fashion week, yet not a trend that has gone mainstream at retail. They are a fringe trend at best, and judging by the way my clients feel, for good reason. 

Here are examples of cropped wide trousers and jeans for visual reference. They’re wide from the hips down, instead of being fitted on the leg with straight or flared hems. 

Ann Taylor
Marina Pants
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There’s definitely an aversion to the cropped wide pant silhouette in denim or other fabrics. From my experience dressing clients, they are off-putting for six reasons:

  1. The silhouette makes the bottom half look wider than it really is.
  2. The waistband detailing accentuates the midsection, which might be an area of the body that you prefer to conceal. 
  3. The style can look best with heels to prevent the “dumpy” and “short-legged” feeling, especially when you’re petite.
  4. It’s a harder silhouette to pair with untucked tops when you’re opposed to the full or semi-tucked effect that’s a slam dunk combination with the style.  
  5. Many of the versions are high rise, which is problematic for those short in the rise and waist. Mid-rise versions are harder to find. 
  6. The extra fabric flapping around the legs feels fussy. 

The most important ways to troubleshoot these challenges is to get the length and width right. No less than two to three inches above the ankle bone, and by all means shorter. I’ve seen the silhouette look fabulous a good six to ten inches above the ankle bone too. Next, choose a narrower width on the leg when you’re petite, and opt for a mid-length rise. Add heels if you feel short-legged in the style, OR lengthen the leg line from the hips upward by showcasing some or the entire waistband when you prefer to wear flats. And last, pair the pants with a low-contrast top to accentuate the vertical integrity of the outfit. 

McQ-Alexander-McQueen-Fluid-Cropped-Pants

I have two pairs of wide cropped denim bottoms, and they do make me look and feel wider than cropped straight or flared pants and jeans because they aren’t as streamlined on the leg. That said, I think wide cropped pants and jeans can look elegant, fun, fashionable, and above all fresh. My own outfit proportions do look better with heels, but as long as I lengthen the leg line from the hips upward by showcasing the waistband of the pants, I happily wear them with flats. 

RED Valentino Stone Washed Scallop Hem Jeans

Slowly but surely, a few more of my clients are wearing wide cropped pants and jeans when we get the length, width, footwear and top right. Black pants and blue jeans in mid and light washes have been the most popular so far. YES, I know it sounds like a lot of effort to make the silhouette work, but that can be part of the fashion fun! 

Over to you. Have you come around to wearing cropped wide pants or jeans, or are you still averse to the silhouette?

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