White Suit with Spanish Flair

A new outfit from Carelia Morán of My Small Wardrobe, whom we introduced to YLF in July 2013.

Carelia is sporting a white denim outfit with lots of pizzazz. She’s combined white flares with a white, on-trend chore jacket which creates a polished casual suit effect. The full-length jeans are high-rise which lengthens the leg line, so do the white pointy-toe heels and jeans with an extra long length. Pairing the crisp jeans with a short-sleeved shirt in an exuberant floral print adds dramatic colour to the look. Knotting the blouse fully exposes the high rise for an extra elongating effect. Punchy red lipstick that matches the shirt, big earrings, and a patterned bag also dress up the outfit, while Carelia’s black bolero hat adds a touch of Spanish flair.

Carelia Morán - 2

Carelia Morán - 1

Toe Cleavage: Yay or Nay

I last wrote about toe cleavage in 2008, so let’s revisit the subject. Toe cleavage is the partial exposure of the base of the toes in footwear with low-cut vamps, when the toe box of the shoe does not entirely cover the toe. 

Toe cleavage is inevitable when you have long toes and wear low-vamped footwear. This is precisely why I have toe cleavage in footwear like ballet flats and pumps despite the longer length of a pointy toe box. Toe cleavage also occurs when you have wide feet with short toes and wear low-vamped footwear.

I didn’t know toe cleavage was a thing until I started my style consulting business thirteen years ago. To my surprise I learned that some clients intensely dislike the look of toe cleavage and go to great lengths to prevent it. On the other hand, some think it’s cute and alluring. Others are indifferent. It seems the number of my clients who are concerned with toe cleavage is decreasing over time.

I’ve had toe cleavage all my life because of the shape of my feet and my preference for dainty footwear. I’ve never worried about it, or thought it was unattractive. It didn’t occur to me to be self-conscious about it, and that I should therefore prevent it. Toe cleavage is how a certain style of shoe fits my feet. Full stop. And I am more than okay with it.

Toe Cleavage

I’m a yay for toe cleavage if that’s how shoes can comfortably fit your feet. It’s neither right nor wrong, but simply a way a particular body type fills out a particular silhouette. What are your thoughts?

My Mum’s and My Sartorial Preferences

Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, my Mum unexpectedly died of liver cancer. She was 59 and I was 29. She was gone in twelve weeks, but thankfully did not suffer for long. Her illness and passing devastated our family. My Dad lost his soulmate at 68, and I was a Mama’s girl. Mum was the reason I grew up appreciating and enjoying fashion and style. Mum made my favourite dresses in the ‘70s. Mum convinced Dad that changing my career path at age 22 from Psychology to Fashion was dead right. Mum was full of compliments about how people looked and dressed across all body types and ages. Mum was a fabulous shopping buddy, and appreciated beauty in countless forms. She was a stylish role model, inside and out.

Our sartorial preferences collided and clashed beautifully throughout the 29 years we had together. We adored all things soft and pretty. We enjoyed flounces, ruffles, eyelet, lace, embroideries, poufy sleeves, dresses and skirts with swoosh, shoulder pads, midi lengths, and silk blouses. We liked turtlenecks and dressing modestly. We loved bra shopping. We equally appreciated a structured and fluid fit. We loved dressing up, and wearing just enough make-up to brighten our features. We sported naked nails, but had a thing for light lipstick and dark mascara. We enjoyed non-neutrals as much as neutrals, and patterns as much as solids. We pattern mixed. We felt cold fast and were always layering. We seldom wore high heels, and preferred dainty footwear. I have the same feet as my late Mum. Narrow, boney, no padding, low arches and insteps, and an extreme need for shoe comfort.

Then there were our sartorial differences. I’ve NEVER seen Mama wear blue jeans, yet they are essential to my style. She thought blue jeans were for mucking out horses stables, and that was that. She did though, wear and like white jeans because they looked crisp and dressy. I’m sure Mum would wear dressy black and pink jeans if she were here today. 

Mum and I had very different colour preferences, probably because our complexions were different. Mum was Eurasian (half Indonesian), so more olive in skin tone with light brown hair and dark blue eyes. My complexion is pale, blonde, green-eyed and Nordic. Mum was all about earth tones like brown, forest green, cinnamon, olive, tan, khaki, toffee, burgundy, bronze, teal, pewter, gold, burnt orange, sage, cream and emerald. She wore mustard with the best of them. She also loved antique pink, pearl grey, shocking pink, pastel blue, and black & white.

My colour preferences are quite the opposite favouring sour brights like citron, chartreuse, lime green, apple green, Dutch orange, tomato red, watermelon, turquoise, bubblegum pink, and Tiffany blue. I prefer dark blue to black. We overlapped liking soft pink, shocking pink, light blue and white.

Mum loved wearing black bottoms, and I’d rather wear dark blue jeans. Mum was very classic, and I prefer to mix things up with trends. Mum thought Dr. Martens were hideous, and I love them (and wore them). I like Punk style and neon, and Mum thought it was awful and undignified. I love all things denim, and Mum did not. Mum liked cardigans, but they’re not for me. Mum liked wearing chunky, bold gold jewellery, all of which was real and mostly custom-made. Mum wore big gold earrings daily. I don’t wear earrings, and am not a jewellery person. I am, though, just as committed to gold as my metal as Mum was.

Bright orange-y red is one of my best and favourite colours, but Mum did not like wearing it. She did though wear bright red shoes with matching bags. That’s why I wore bright red shoes and bag to her funeral, along with a white top and classic black pinstriped pants suit.

Here are some pics from the past. Mum looking all glam and gorgeous, but serious and frowning on the beach at Repulse Bay, Hong Kong, in 1961. My Dad caught her perfectly by surprise. I love these photos because Mama was extremely expressive with her facial features, and these reflect some of them accurately. She had it down to a look, and didn’t need words to express her feelings. Once you saw Mama’s expression, you knew what she was thinking.

Mum - 1

Mum - 2

I’ve posted this favourite photo of us together in 1976 before. I was six years old. I LOVED wearing the same clothes as my Mum when I was little, so she made us matching floral maxi dresses for a party my parents were hosting in our apartment in Hong Kong. Wearing this dress with my Mum was one of my happiest style moments.

Mum - 3

I made it through writing this post without crying. In fact, it was cathartic comparing our sartorial preferences all these years later. Words can’t express how much I miss my Mum. It pains me daily that she can’t experience YLF, and our much more diverse fashion era. She would have been very fun to shop with and dress. She inspired me to be proud and keep my chin up at any age.

We at YLF wish you, your Mums, including Mums who are no longer with us, a happy and peaceful Mother’s Day.


Better than Basic

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Hints of Spring

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Link Love: The Met Gala 2019

The theme for this year’s Met Gala, which took place this Monday, was camp. W Magazine delves deeper into the meaning of the word.

If you missed the coverage, here’s an overview of what many celebrities wore to the “fashion event of the year.”

Janelle Monáe and Michael Urie were two of my favourites. Did you have a favourite look?

The Best Camp Culture References on the Red Carpet is worth a look too.

Fab Links from Our Members

Sal directs us to an article about the effect Marie Kondo is having on the resale market.

Brooklyn enjoyed reading about the history of the iconic Verdura-Chanel Maltese cross cuffs.

In light of Angie’s recent post on cleavage, but worthwhile on its own too, Shevia wanted to share this Guardian article.

The effect of fast fashion on the environment. As a volunteer in a thrift store, JAileen wondered why these garments weren’t donated to thrift stores in the first place.

La Pedestrienne finds Gucci’s ad campaign for their new lipstick line really interesting and provocative.

Since we’ve been talking about wrap tops and V-necks, suntiger thought Imogen’s post about 17 different necklines was timely.

She also enjoyed this Debbie Roes post about the importance of variety in life. Not style-related per se, but thought-provoking.

Outfit Formula: Leopard Skirt and Heels

Leopard patterns are classics, which is why we see them every season and throughout the year. The pattern is versatile, and to some as neutral as wearing black, white and grey. Leopard patterns come in any wardrobe item, but today we’re focussing on the leopard skirt and combining it with heels in a neutral outfit. 

Here are four examples to get you started:

1. Hard-Edged Utility

Combine a leopard print skirt with a white top and olive or tan utility jacket. Finish off the look with heeled black sandal booties or boots to create the hard edge. A black bag and belt are optional. The fluidity of the jacket and A-line skirt are what make outfit proportions look fresh and new. Lots of movement.

ALTUZARRA Caroline Leopard-print Silk Crepe de Chine Skirt

2. Classic Pretty

This outfit creates traditionally flattering proportions, which is just as fab. Combine a leopard print pencil skirt with a tucked black top and fitted black moto. Choose a blazer if motos aren’t your thing. Finish off the look with red heels and bag. Easy to pull together.

Eloquii Neoprene Pencil Skirt

3. PlayfulLy Prissy

This version is fashion-forward. Combine a straight or flared leopard skirt with a slogan tee or sweatshirt. Semi-tuck the tee or sweatshirt if it’s too baggy. Finish off the outfit with dainty black heels like sandals or pumps, and throw in a structured bag. A fun juxtaposition of items.

CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC Leopard Print Cotton Full Skirt

4. Elegantly Pattern Mixed

The last version combines a bombshell bottom half with a relaxed top half. Dressy meets sporty in a sophisticated way. Wear a tight leopard skirt with a tee, and drape a pattered pullover over your shoulders. In this case we have leopard squared. Finish off the look with dressy black heels and bag. Or throw in some red if you dare. Add jewellery, eyewear and watch as desired.

FIVESEVENTYFIVE Ruched Leopard Print Midi Skirt