Outfit Formula: Light Neutral Monochrome

Make a statement with glorious solids. This week’s outfit formula is about wearing light neutrals from head to toe, or almost head to toe. It’s the flip side to last week’s Dark Neutral Monochrome outfit formula. Sub the dark neutrals with light neutrals and Bob’s your uncle. On to some looks, and I’ll take the first two outfits please. 

1. Vanilla Milkshake

Combine luxurious Winter white items from neck to foot for what I think is an absolutely stunning look. Not too practical, so be careful. This is not an everyday outfit! Here, a shimmery midi skirt is paired with a tucked pullover. Tall slouchy dressy boots and a short fuzzy coat are the finishing touches. The short length of the coat, the diagonal hem of the skirt, and the slim fit of the pullover create structure. The column of cream elongates the outfit, and so do the heels. The whites are almost the same, but not exactly, which does work. What works particularly well is that the fabrics of the items are equally luxurious.

Harley Asymmetric Satin Skirt

2. Creamy Panna Cotta

This Sporty Luxe combination is my favourite, and I’ve worn a similar outfit with cream boots. Combine a cream top with cream pants and a cream topper. Finish off the look with white sneakers or cream boots, and a cream bag. The pants needn’t be cropped. Again, the creams and oatmeals do not need to be an exact match. The fabrics of the clothing are equally luxe, which help pull together this look.

Scarletta Wool Blend Teddy Coat

3. Cappuccino and Hazelnut Wafer

Here, most of the outfit is cream and oatmeal, but things deepen a little with the addition of taupe, and darken a lot with hazelnut. A hazelnut bag that complements the boots and belt could be nice. The high contrast of the brown items remixed with the creams might be more your cup of tea, rather than keeping the entire outfit light. The darker browns do add warmth and depth. The tall boots keep you insulated in cropped pants, and the aviator style shearling topper is a trendy flashback to the ‘90s. The pleated high-waist pants are fably ‘80s.

Solene Shearling Jacket with Quilted Panels

4. Toffee, Caramel and Chocolate Delight

Last, this neutral combination is light compared to dark neutrals, but dark relative to the three predominantly white outfits above. I threw it in for those who prefer their earthy light neutrals as dark as toffee, caramel and milk chocolate. These colours are tonal despite their differences, and work really well. The olive footwear is an unexpected touch. Any shade of brown or cream boot could work too. They’ve shown a dressy version, but a casual version is just as fab. Make this a dress or skirt look if that’s more your thing. Add jewellery, watch, eyewear and headgear as desired.

Sabel Wool Blend Overcoat

Link Love: Holiday Party Inspiration

Popsugar rounds up 25 of Banana Republic’s best jewellery pieces for all your holiday parties.

From an an iridescent disco-ball eyelid to golden inner corner highlights, here are 28 ideas to go to town with your holiday make-up this year.

Still looking for a holiday outfit or an interesting accessory to jazz things up? Have a look at Atlantic Pacific’s festive line for Nordstrom.

Fab Links from Our Members

Suz thought this was an amusing and provoking discussion of our current passion for higher waisted jeans.

Chris 987 wanted to share this article on how to choose workout gear by a personal trainer who is a friend of hers.

Rent the Runway is expanding its partnership with department store Nordstrom. kkards has mixed feelings about this: “I kind of understand using Nordstrom as a drop-off spot, but co-designing and inner mixing of Nordstom’s inventory, I don’t really see what Nordstrom gets from this.”

Vildy thoroughly enjoyed novelist Zadie Smith’s experience of what’s typical of New York style versus London style

Slim cat found this intriguing: a dress for the future that doesn’t exist.

Shevia found this article a bit annoying, but she supposes it marks some sort of progress.

Fashintern found this article about costuming reenactors in ways that highlight the individuality of slaves a couple of centuries ago interesting.

Joy enjoyed this discussion of the quandary of short or long hair for older women

This blog post about why Instagram is hiding skin conditions appalled and incensed nuancedream: “On the other hand, brava to Lex for speaking up and ultimately forcing Instagram to change their guidelines! No one’s appearance should ever be described by the adjectives ‘undesirable’ or ‘idealized’.”

Taking Calculated Risks with Knitwear

Keeping knitwear pristine, the desired shape, and pill-free is extremely challenging. In fact, pilling gets my award for most frustrating quality challenge these days because there is zero guarantee that knitwear won’t pill. The best I can do when I’m recommending knitwear is road-test the item and hope for the best when it comes to long-term longevity. 

I wear a lot of knitwear and ideally I want the items to last in a pristine state for at least three years. After that, it should look good enough to pass on to Dress for Success. So last year I came up with a knitwear purchasing strategy with four parts.

  1. No more pricey designer knitwear.
  2. No more cheap cashmere.
  3. Purchase 100% cotton knitwear from a range of brands because the likelihood of it pilling is far lower.
  4. Purchase wool and wool-rich knitwear from a shortlist of brands who haven’t let me down in the past.

So far my strategy is working because I’m far less frustrated with quality issues, and can continue to enjoy my knitwear.

Banana Republic was not on my shortlist of knitwear retailers because in the past, their knitwear has pilled and stretched out terribly. This recently changed with the Washable Merino Wool Sweater that comes in ten colours, regular and petite, and sizes XXS to XXL. I was drawn to the citron right away. I tried it on and loved the gently fluid yet structured fit, lightweight gauge, polished appearance, and interesting stitch interest. Prepared to give Banana Republic knitwear another chance, the citron pullover followed me home.

I put the citron sweater through its paces. I wore it three times, with no pilling or stretching out. I laundered it in the machine in a gauze bag with cold water on the delicates cycle. I dried it on a clothes rack, and was fully prepared to press it back into shape. But it didn’t need a press since the shape had not been altered. I wore it again, and it looked as great! So I went back for the blue, repeating the same road-testing process. Wore it a few times, and no pilling. Laundered it and got the same stellar results. Excellent.

At this stage I was confident about the quality of the item, so I went back for the red, pink and white because the essential filled quite a pressing wardrobe hole. I needed an assortment of simple, tailored, fine gauge, high-necked, professional, NOT cashmere, and better-than-basic pullovers that I can tuck or semi-tuck into my large capsule of high-rise pants and jeans, and wear under blazers and jackets. This was the perfect item and available in exactly my colours. So I bought five with a 60% discount. I can also wear them well into Spring because Spring in Seattle can feel like Winter.

I will continue to be extremely careful with knitwear that is not on my shortlist of tried-and-tested brands because I’ve been frustrated and disappointed with pilling knitwear a little too often. It does though feel really good to share something positive about chain-store knitwear for a change, and I’m thrilled I gave the item a chance. A win for me, and for Banana Republic. It gives me hope that things are moving back to the quality levels we were used to many years ago.


Fabulous Fabrics

The tops picks this week showcase great fabric, and there’s a fun roundup of shoes too.

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Assorted Items

A few fab items that worked well on clients and forum members.

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Dog Days of Summer

An assortment of casual and dressy top picks for warm weather.

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High and Low

This week’s top picks range greatly in price point and quality.

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Comfy White Sandals

My Summer top picks for white footwear.

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Cute, Casual and Comfy

This week's top picks in tops, toppers, bottoms, dresses and shoes.

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Adding a Retinol Cream to My Skincare Routine

I have never been able to add retinol cream to my beauty regimen because anything with Retin-A or alpha-hydroxy acids in it burned and scratched my skin, making it look awful and feel even worse. No thank you. 

I stumbled across LilyAna Naturals Retinol Cream a couple of months ago while searching for something else on Amazon. With 5,800 glowing reviews and no parabens, I thought what the heck. I’m giving this a bash.

I’ve been applying it twice a day for two months, and it’s amazing. No burning, scratching, flaking, peeling, rash or irritation at all. It has absolutely smoothed and brightened my dry skin, and brought back some natural rosy cheek. My skin feels extra clean and groomed, and I like it.

Personally, I am very sceptical of the so-called benefits of retinol cream in terms of preventing and minimizing wrinkles, and fading dark spots and hyperpigmentation. If you want to prevent wrinkles, you have to stop time. If you want to minimize wrinkles, you need to be vigilant about sun protection all the time. If you want to have healthy looking skin, you need to eat and drink properly, work out, cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize.

The reason I stayed interested in retinol cream is for its excellent exfoliating properties that make skin feel smooth, and look bright and shiny like an apple. This retinol cream has done just that. I’m enjoying the luxury of having well-groomed, fresh feeling skin.

Fab Finds: Cosy Stuff

For those of us in the Northern hemisphere, temperatures are cooling or plummeting, which means it’s time for cosies. This week’s top picks worked well on clients and in my own wardrobe. It’s great to see a range of colour options and extended sizes. 

1. Camper Wabi Slipper

This is a repeat top pick that is worth a second mention. I wear slippers at home and am very fussy about them. They need to be soft like a slipper but with a good rubber sole and fairly supportive. I’ve been wearing the Wabi’s for years, and replenish annually because they are the best combination of soft and comfortable support. Granted, they are not as supportive as Birkenstocks. I have recently switched to the pretty light blue. They look neat and polished on your feet too. Hubs Greg has the same slippers in men’s sizes. My feet are narrow and Greg’s are wide and the slippers fit us equally well.

CAMPER CamperWabi
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CAMPER CamperWabi
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2. Good American Jeans

Try Good American jeans if you have a curvy figure. Sizes usually run from a US0 to a US24. Sometimes the smaller sizes run a little large. This season, both pairs of flared jeans get my top pick. They have worked on petites with a hacked hem, while adequately retaining their flared integrity.

3. ECCO Hi-Tops

Unlike Converse, both pairs of ECCO hi-tops here have side zippers so that you don’t need to tie and untie laces. Both styles have worked well for higher volume feet, and can accommodate orthotics. But if you don’t wear orthotics and have short toes, you might need to size down. The cap on the white Flexure style is more grey than white. Both styles are unfortunately too wide for me.

4. Uniqlo Puffers and Parkas

Most people have a Uniqlo puffer coat or jacket of sorts these days, or at least someone in the family does. And with good reason because they are very well made, affordable, look great, offer current styling, and are available in a deep assortment of colours and silhouettes. You can also pick your level of warmth and length. I found their puffer styles to run a little big, but ideal for multiple under layers.

5. Athleta Gap Transit Crew Sweater and Beanie

If you’re into a sporty or athletic looks, these sweaters with matching beanie are quite yummy. It was the neon that attracted me to them, so I had a closer look. Lightweight, soft, fluid, and very casual. Fun for post workout relaxing too.

6. Rebecca Minkoff Janica Sweater

A forum member paired this graphic and biker-inspired darling with bootcut jeans and looked like a million bucks. A trendy short but not too short length unless you are long in the waist. The fluid but not too fluid silhouette can work well on a larger bust and curvy figure.

7. Banana Republic Cashmere Stripe Sweater

The quality of knitwear is extremely inconsistent across all price points these days, and there isn’t that much we can do about it. As a result, I’m very careful about which brands I purchase knitwear from, and I’m down to three or four retailers. Banana Republic was not one of them, so I’m taking a chance with these cashmere stripe pullovers because they remind me of Boden stripes and quality. The cashmere price point is reasonable, but not dirt cheap either. Stay away from dirt cheap cashmere! I committed to the pink and red stripe, and so far so good. Let’s hope the quality continues its good wicket.

8. Boden Kemble Coat

A super cute and cuddly teddy bear sherpa topper with glowing reviews. Thick but streamlined and not overly bulky. Semi-structured, forgiving, playful, Modern Retro, and accommodates layers. The blue is a little more green in person. Works well with dresses and skirts too.

Kemble Coat
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Kemble Coat
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Kemble Coat
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9. Ann Taylor Plaid Faux Fur Jacket

This rich and yummy faux fur jacket looks better in person and is quite unique. Patterned, dark but not black, and very rich. It’s a little more tailored at the waist than the norm, which gives it a more chic and polished appearance. Excellent on those with shorter necks. Good side entry pockets, and wear it over just about anything.