Link Love: Pandemic Style Trends

The Guardian reports that power shoulders are back thanks to seated video meetings in which “waist-up dressing has become the solution to meetings moving from face-to-face to video platforms like Zoom.”

If working from home means you are working from your bed, The Guardian also has some, tongue-in-cheek, tips for bed-based video-call dressing.

Many of us are apparently craving colour to cheer us up: “How lockdown unleashed a thriving online market for colourful clothes“:

“As winter has taken hold, it has been the velvet shirts, blazers and boiler suits in saturated shades of blues, pinks and red that, as Jo puts it, ‘have gone off like a rocket’. ‘We were concerned that if no one was going anywhere they wouldn’t be sure about velvet, but that idea of sitting on your sofa wearing something nice and being comfortable has been popular,’ she says. ‘The lovely jewel colours just make you feel better when you put them on.'”

Fab Links from Our Members

It appears Vogue magazine has some deeper problems than the less than satisfactory Kamala Harris cover photo. Nuancedream hopes the cover photo backlash is the catalyst for some meaningful changes.

Brexit is officially a fact. Minaminu directs us to this article explaining the current teething problems for any type of purchases, fashion included.

Suntiger recommends Debbie Roes’ blog post on feeling good enough, including reflections on wardrobe size and appearance.

The Ear Cuff: Yay or Nay

An ear cuff is an earring that travels up and down the ear. It’s designed to hug the curve of the outside edge of ear so there is no need to have pierced ears. That said, some cuffs are attached to earrings that require pierced ears. 

Ear cuffs come in all shapes, metals, sizes and vibes. Some are simple, and others bejewelled and ornate. They can be extremely dainty, or more chunky. You can wear more than one of them in a single ear. You can wear them on their own, or with other earrings. You can stick to one metal, or you can remix metals and stones. You can keep the look symmetrical or asymmetrical. Generally, anything goes.

Here are some visual examples.

The point of the ear cuff is to showcase the extra ear adornment. That means short hair, hair that is tied back, or longer hair that is tucked back behind the ear in some way. I have never tried an ear cuff so I’m not sure how comfortable they are, but my friends and clients who wear them don’t seem to complain about their fussiness. I guess the simple, small and more streamlined styles are the most comfortable, much like stud earrings that you can’t feel in your ears.

Lots of people wear ear cuffs in my neck of the woods, and in all sorts of combinations. They are worn with every kind of dress code ranging from athletic gear and casual wear, to smart casual, corporate attire, and formal wear. Some wear one and leave it at that. Others create an ear cuff cocktail

I don’t wear earrings of any kind but I’m a YAY for ear cuffs on others. I like how dainty, dressy and pretty they can look, especially when they’re refined and simple. To my eye, the right ear cuffs can look polished and professional too. I like them in multiples and worn on their own. How about you?

VRAI Round Brilliant Diamond Ear Cuff

Weekly Roundup: Assorted Items

Here are some items that have recently been winners on my clients, worked for me, or simply have good reviews online. With many people working from home, interesting tops have become all important for digital meetings, as have extra comfy bottoms. Some of the items are on sale. 

  • Banana Republic Funnel-Neck Sweatshirt: This simple solid "hoodie" caught my eye because of the awfully cute funnel neckline and shorter length sweatshirt silhouette. It's NOT a hoodie. It's very good for my long neck, and insulating too. Crisp and architectural. Looks like a COS item. It has a good bit of structure despite the straight and boxy body. Lovely tapered sleeves and welt. It's super soft, and works well with casual items, or one that you can remix with dressier pieces. I have it in white to wear with my dressy maxi skirts, dressy Spring pants, and white sneakers for a Sporty Luxe vibe. Comes in more neutrals. Not good on shorter necks.
  • Anne Klein Ozella Pointed Toe Flat: A comfortable dressy flat with a sporty touch if you don't need much arch support. Comes in solid neutrals.
  • Hobbs Meadow Floral Wrap Blouse: A very pretty blouse if you like to showcase the waist. Comes in solid teal. A lovely quality polyester for those who wear the fibre.
  • Hobbs Pussy Bow Top: This is a knitted blouse that works on an assortment of body types, and can be dressed up and down. It's gently fluid so that it doesn't cling, and you don't need to tie the ties into a bow.
  • Hobbs Saskia Trench: Hobbs has been offering the Saskia trench coat for years, and I can't rave enough about it. The fit and quality are absolutely SUBLIME if you like to wear belted double-breasted silhouettes, and enjoy a sharp and crisp appearance. I have one in navy with white stitching, and it's more beautifully made than my navy Burberry peacoat. It's also more robust and chic. I wish it came in a larger assortment of sizes. Browse the site for colour options.
  • Banana Republic Satin Cargo Jogger: This is a satin jogger for milder weather that is partly made of recycled polyester and comes in four neutrals. Those who are curvier and wider in the seat and thighs might need to size up for a roomy fit.
  • Boden Berkshire Coatigan: A fun long polka dot cardigan that works really well on a larger bust, shorter neck and broad shoulders. Vey pretty blouson sleeves. Comes in navy. No closure, so consider yourself warned.
  • Nike Sportswear Quilted Midi Skirt: If you enjoy wearing comfortable quirky items with an athletic touch, try this skirt. It has fab side vent snap detailing, and would look super cute with a casual or dressy hoodie/sweatshirt and sneakers or hi-tops.
  • COLDESINA Jenny Convertible Top: This style of top works well on an apple-shaped body type with a larger bust. Fluid but with structure in all the right places. It can also be worn with one bare shoulder, which accentuates its asymmetrical cut. Comes in black and snakeskin.
  • LIVERPOOL LOS ANGELES Liverpool Cotton Blend Moto Jacket: An eggplant cotton moto jacket is a rare find, and this one might run a little big.
  • REFINERY29 Print Jogger Pants: Soft and silky joggers made of rayon can be dead right for a warm and very casual day. Gorgeous with a simple fluid black blouse. This one is shorter in the rise.
  • Gallery Faux Fur Swing Coat: A dramatic black faux fur coat with chocolate trim and architectural hood. For Team Old Hollywood Glam. Runs a little big.
  • Gallery Water Repellent Hooded Raincoat: A raincoat looks awfully pretty in white, and this is a great quality brand that runs a little big. The back drawstring detailing creates a nice bit of structure. Comes in olive.
  • SWEATY BETTY Power Pocket Workout Leggings: These leggings come highly recommended by a curvy petite friend because of an extra fab fit. I'm a regular height straighter hourglass, and they fit me well too. Comes in lots of patterns. I got a bright fuchsia print for yoga.
  • Zella Space Dye Seamless T-Shirt: I got this in pink and seafoam for at-home yoga practice, and it's great. Very thick, polished and substantial, but not overly tight (especially on the arms). Impeccable quality. Some of the reviewers complained that the fabric was too thick and hot, but I like it. There are effective mesh side panels that keep things ventilated. It's warmer than a tee, but not as warm as a sweatshirt, so consider yourself warned.
  • Halogen Halogen V-Neck Top: An excellent shape blouse for a shorter neck and/or larger bust. Very flattering neckline. The slippery fabric works well layered under a cardigan or jacket. Comes in quieter patterns. Might run a little roomy.
  • M&S Collection Jersey Beach Dress: This is the type of swimming costume cover-up or roomy breezy dress you look for on a hot and humid August day, but can seldom find. So here it is, and in a natural fibre too. It's 100% viscose which gives me pause, but because I tend to trust M&S quality, I'm suggesting it.
  • WRANGLER Graphic Crop Sweatshirt: Who remembers and wore Wrangler back in the day? My hand is up, and I LOVE horses. I added this boxy and roomy sweatshirt to my at-home yoga capsule, and adore it. Soft, comfy, and sentimental. It double duties as a lounging top too. It's oversized, but the cropped length gives it some structure. I wish it was blue, but the white horses sealed the deal despite the black background.

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


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

Summer Sale Items

Here are some top pick sale items for hot days at home, working from home, or socially distancing out and about.

Read More

Assorted Sale Items

An assortment of accessories and bottoms.

Read More

Summery Items

This week’s top picks are Summery, versatile and fun.

Read More

My Style Goals for 2021

Style goals serve as a helpful frame of reference as you edit and review your closet, shop for new items, shop your closet, create outfits, and evolve your look. Anything that relates to your style can go on the list. Style goals can be general or specific, seasonal or annual, abstract or quantified, and simple or complicated. Remember that they can be changed at any time, so don’t overthink the process. You can set as few as one goal, and try to stick to it.

For some, setting style goals is an intuitive and incremental process of fine-tuning the sartorial fabness that they accomplished the previous year, which means that they are in a good place with their style. For others, it requires time, patience, some soul searching, and an in-depth analysis of the internal and external factors that affect their style because they are in a style rut, re-thinking their priories, or they’ve experienced dramatic changes in their life.

I make a point of revisiting my style goals every January. It crystalizes my thoughts and keeps me accountable to attaining the goals. It’s handy when I want to check in on my goals and assess progress throughout the year, make the necessary changes, and share them with others.

Despite the upheaval, 2020 was a satisfying year for my style. I managed to achieve all of my general goals, and a few of the specific ones too. I had planned to have even more fun with fashion because I was turning 50, and to be more adventurous and fearless with my style in some way. Those goals hit the wrong note during the pandemic, and we are still in the thick of things in the US. But I look forward to prioritizing them in the future when life returns to a new normal.

I’m keeping “Urban Polish” as my style moniker. Although I live in a grungy, outdoorsy, hipster and very casual city, it’s important to me to create daily outfits that are refined, pretty, bold, structured, polished, comfortable, somewhat dressy, and more colourful than the norm, because that feels authentic to my style. And when your style feels authentic to you, it’s easy to manage, maintain and enjoy.

My approach is working for me right now, so there’s no need to fix anything specific. I LOVE my wardrobe and I’m grateful for daily outfits that spark joy, energize, and keep me optimistic. So this year is about continuation, fine-tuning my style strategies, and focussing on some specific purchases.

General Goals

Be true to my style aspirations. I want to wear outfits that are Modern, Crisp, Retro, Playful and Dressy. Four of these adjectives have been the same for five years. I’ve changed one from Soft to Playful because it seems more accurate. These words describe my ideal style and serve as a benchmark for assessing outfits and purchases on this leg of my style journey. There is no need to achieve all five adjectives for every outfit. Three or four are close enough.

  • Modern, because I enjoy injecting a few carefully chosen hot-off-the-press trends into my seasonal look. That’s part of why fashion is fun, keeps things fresh, and it works well with my line of work.
  • Crisp, because I love wearing shades of white and clear brights, and have a strong need to create a polished, fresh, professional and tidy appearance.
  • Retro, because of my fondness for fashion from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, but remixing retro sensibilities with a good dose of current.
  • Playful, because it’s become important to me to wear outfits that are or have light-hearted, soft, amusing and fun elements. It also reminds me to not take the fashion and style world too seriously, and to do my own thing.
  • Dressy, because super casual does not make me happy.

Prioritize quality. My commitment to wearing beautifully constructed and finished items made of gorgeous fabrics that launder well is higher than ever. I am old school in this regard, and do not want to rent my wardrobe. I believe in buying fewer well-made things, wearing them frequently, and looking after them. That’s why I have thirteen-year-old wool coats and jackets that look new. I did a good job of achieving this last year and want to maintain the momentum.

Make manageable sustainable and ethical wardrobe decisions. I am committed to making the most sustainable and ethical wardrobe decisions that I can manage. There are compromises, but wardrobe items have to be right to work over time, which is a sustainability goal in itself. As far as possible, I will continue to refresh my style from designers and retailers that are committed to sustainable and ethical practices, and my intention is to keep wardrobe items for as long as I can.

Express my style through colour and my favourite patterns. My style was more colourful and pattern-rich than ever in 2020. I could barely wear a head-to-toe neutral outfit without adding back in the colour to boost my mood. I want to continue wearing my signature sour brights, blush pink, my shades of blue, and some earth tones. I also want to continue remixing the colours in my wardrobe in bold, new and tonal combinations. For patterns I’m sticking to the classics like stripes, dots, plaids, checks, and some florals because I don’t tire of them. I have said goodbye to animal print for now.

Continue exploring the world of fun and practical dressy pants. Dressier pants, and especially those in checks and plaids, have become signature to my style. I reach for them more than jeans and I’m enjoying the change.

Continue adding elegant-to-me touches to my style. My custom-made pearl jewellery makes me feel more elegant and polished, as does wearing midi dresses, midi skirts, dressy pants, structured handbags, structured silhouettes with ease and movement, refined footwear (even when they’re fashion sneakers!), pointy-toe ballet flats, well-groomed hands and feet, maintaining healthy skin, and doing my hair and make-up each day. Surprisingly, my current super short wavy COVID pixie makes me feel more elegant than its longer version. Being able to practice yoga after recovering from a back injury a year ago also makes me feel more elegant because it improves my posture, flexibility and agility. Sometimes, elegance is as much a state of mind as it is a visual appearance.

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

Specific Goals

  • Refresh my yoga capsule (already in progress)
  • Refresh my capsule of white tops for Spring and Summer
  • Refresh my white jeans capsule with wider silhouettes
  • Add more citron to my wardrobe, starting with a new dressy satchel
  • Add more flowing and fun skirts to my skirt capsule
  • Try a pair of G-Star jeans
  • Add a blush pink wool coat to my coat collection

Over to you. Have you thought about your style goals for 2021? Many of the YLF forum members have thought about theirs, and their posts have been a pleasure to read over the last few weeks. Please share your style goals in the comments section, even if you’ve already shared them on the forum. Begin with just two goals if that’s easier, and take it from there. Or simply jot down some rough thoughts about your current and aspirational style direction.

Spotlight: Universal Standard

I sang the praises of Universal Standard back in 2017, but they deserve another spotlight because they are now the world’s most size-inclusive fashion brand. Since my first spotlight they’ve added more sizes to their clothing assortment, and opened a showroom in Seattle which is a five minute walk from our loft. I’ve taken clients there and we always come back smiling after a delightful experience.

Universal Standard believes that style should be the only filter when you shop. As a result, they offer elevated wardrobe essentials, wardrobe basics, workwear, and workout wear in good quality fabrics from US sizes 00 to 40. You’ll also find petite and pregnancy clothing. The brand hopes to empower the rest of the industry to embrace the same inclusion.

Universal Standard

Their website has the most model diversity that I’ve seen, and I encourage you to follow their instagram account for an even more size-inclusive representation of the brand. The integrity of the clothing is solid, simple, comfortable, current, and well-engineered with an emphasis on good fit. Items are usually structured and fluid in all the right places. At times the design details are quite architectural and playful. Colours are generally neutral and earthy, but every so often you’ll see a splash of colour that is awfully energizing, like tomato red, purple, turquoise, and cobalt blue.

Universal Standard Parker Leather Jacket

Universal Standard Louise Long Sleeve Satin Blouse

Universal Standard Canna Hi-Low Shirt

The brand is committed to offering a quality product. Cotton is sourced from Peru, merino wool from Italy, and satin-back crepe from France. I’m not sure about the company’s sustainable and ethical goals in terms of manufacturing, but they started a “reset, recycle, refresh” programe, which is wonderful. You can order a pre-labeled recycling bag for $4.50, fill it up with up to four pieces of your old clothing, and send it to Marimole. Instead of ending up in a landfill, your old clothes will become yarn used for manufacturing new pieces, or turned into pellets used for manufacturing plastic household goods.

Universal Standard believes in what they call “Fit Liberty”, which is unparalleled in my experience. It allows you to buy for the size you are right now to create an optimum fit — after all, you should always dress the body you have now — but if your size changes over time, the brand will replace your clothes and send your new size for free. This gives you the freedom to change sizes without fear, anxiety, or added expense. Impressive!

The brand is available online, and sometimes at department stores like Nordstrom. If you live in NYC, Seattle, Houston, Portland or Chicago, you can visit their showrooms and have an effective, caring and comforting experience. The Seattle showroom is a beautiful space in an old brick building, and the service impeccable. Our Yorkie Sam has visited and he’s always welcome.

Their showrooms have samples you can try on, but you can’t take them home. Items you purchase will be shipped to you. If they don’t have your size in the item you like at the showroom, you might be able to make a good decision based on the samples they do have in stock. Showrooms are currently closed due to COVID, but will reopen later in the year.

When I have a curvy or very curvy client who is battling to find a pair of flattering jeans or pants, Universal Standard is top of the list of brands that I recommend. Clients also rave about their dresses, tees, shirts, skirts and jackets. I plan to try the brand myself when I’m in a neutral mood. There are some simple and crisp white and navy items that are on my radar.

If you have experience with Universal Standard, please share your thoughts in the comments below.