Outfit: Fabulous Proportions

I fell in love with the proportions of this outfit. The shapes and lengths of the silhouette, and the way the garments fit and drape, is gorgeous. The fabrics look substantial too. It’s relaxed and polished business casual without a jacket. Throw a dressy coat over the top and you’re good to go. I like the colour palette too. 

I adore the pairing of tailored structure and fluid flow. The flared bell-bottoms are fitted on the waist, hips and thighs, but flow with fluidity to the ground. Bless those perfect pant lengths. The pullover is fitted on the neck, shoulders, wrists and midsection, but flows fluidly and gently over the bust and most of the arm. The hip-bone length of the top lengthens the leg line from the hips down. The heeled booties further lengthen the leg line.

Chloé Pompom-embellished Knitted Sweater

The combination of tailored structure, fluidity, and a good amount of length on the bottom is a recipe for elegant dressing. The high neckline might not be your cup of tea, in which case you could substitute it with one of your choice. The short, fitted, broad welt on the pullover draws attention to the waist and belly area, which might not be your thing. In this case you could sub it with a pullover with a narrower welt that blousons over the midsection to conceal “lumpage and bumpage.”

This type of trouser does look magical with a heel, and the hems look luxurious when they almost scrape the surface of the ground. In my experience, a low heel of one and a half to two inches works just fine with my own bell-bottom trousers and jeans. You do need dry weather though, so that’s a drawback. 

Looking at this outfit, I’m reminded of how great I feel in my bell-bottom jeans and black trousers, AND how fresh things look compared to crops with booties. I need to be in the mood to wear my two inch cream boots that work perfectly with the pant lengths though, which I can no longer do all day. Still, I can replicate the look to some extent and will be on the lookout for a more affordable version of the pullover.

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Travel Capsule for an Eight-Day Trip

This is the fifth time in twelve months that I’m travelling to the Netherlands to see my 85-year old Dad. I’ve got the packing and commuting thing down across four seasons and in all sorts of weather. The trips have become a way of life and are part of our quarterly routine. 

I’ll be heading out tomorrow morning while Greg and Sam hold the fort at the Cox Castle. Including travel, it’s an eight-day trip, and this is what I’ve packed.

A few things upfront before I delve into the details:

  • I’ll be visiting family, seeing dear friend Inge, doing errands, eating out, and going to a few appointments. I’ll be hanging out with my Dad in his home town of Velp, with daily trips to nearby Arnhem (a 15 minute bus ride). These very quaint towns are on the east side of the Netherlands and close to the German border. They are about an hour and a half away from Amsterdam.
  • I keep my outfits casual, although my outfits are on the dressier side of casual.
  • Autumn in the Netherlands is very similar to Seattle. Chilly, grey, dark, quite windy, and somewhat wet. Hopefully we’ll have some sunny intervals. Daytime high temperatures of about 8 degrees Celsius (46 degrees Fahrenheit) will be the norm, but colder in the morning and at night. Hopefully temperatures will stay just above freezing. I do a LOT of walking and take public transport when I visit my Dad, which means wearing the right footwear, cosy socks, woolly scarves, and an assortment of toppers so that I stay warm, comfortable and dry.
  • I’ll be putting a suitcase in the hold because I like to have more dressing options than a carry-on can accommodate. I’ll also be bringing presents for family, and doing some Christmas shopping which requires extra space.
  • I will not be doing laundry on the trip.
  • I can magically keep white and cream wardrobe items clean, and have been travelling with them for years. It’s a complete non-issue.
  • The capsule also includes the outfit that I will wear on both non-stop ten-hour flights. It’s the same outfit, and I’ve shown the components at the end of this post.

The Palette

Burgundy, tomato red, ink blue and blue denim with a touch of cream and a smattering of pearl grey. No black! Tomato red adds life to the burgundy. The cream brightens and lightens the look. The dark blues ground the palette. My Dad likes bright colours so I like to incorporate them for him too.

To create a satisfying mix that is true to my style, I created a capsule that combines classics with trendy items, wardrobe essentials with statement pieces, solids with patterns, knits with wovens, neutrals with colours, and old items with newbies. Plenty of variety but with a good amount of discipline. The silhouettes are generally quite simple. It’s the colour of the item, the bold combination of the colours, the accessories, and the mix of patterns that give the outfits their kick. I can create tonal looks with burgundy and tomato red. Wear a column of colour with burgundy and navy. Throw in high contrast with cream, and pattern mix with ease because the patterns are in the same colour spectrum.

Here’s more detail on each part of the capsule. Note that wardrobe basics like undies, camisoles, sleepwear, loungewear and knee-highs are not represented here. For the rest, these are the exact wardrobe items that I packed and will be wearing en route.

Footwear

I build a travel capsule around my shoes because it’s extremely important to have happy feet when you’re walking around a city and using public transport. Once I knew which shoes I was taking, I planned the rest of the outfits to work with them. (NEVER take new shoes on a trip. Take tried-and-tested styles that you know go the distance).

I chose booties because those are right for the weather and extremely comfortable. They have been weatherproofed with spray, and the grey booties are weatherproof already. I almost brought my tall riding boots but booties are easier to pack. I would have been fine bringing two pairs of booties, but packed a third in case my feet need a change, or I feel like a change. All three pairs work with all four bottoms. I suspect I’ll wear the burgundy and grey most of the time, and leave the dressier cream pair for appointments.

Bottoms

I chose four bottoms, but actually it’s only three bottoms because I’ll wear the blue boyfriend jeans on the flights ONLY. That means I’ll wear the full-length dark wash denim straights, cropped straights and burgundy velveteen crops twice. I’ll wear them with navy knee-highs or socks. That’s plenty of variety so I don’t feel bored.

Tops

I’ve packed five tops, but actually it’s only four because the oversized ink pullover is for plane travel only. I’ve stuck to fine gauge woolly knitwear because that’s dead right for the weather. Fits are fluid and tailored with varying necklines. I went with two neutrals (one light and one dark), and two non-neutrals to create variety. That way I can remix looks depending on my mood – like high contrast, tonal, or a column of colour. All tops work with all bottoms so I can mix and match as I please.

Toppers

I’d get bored wearing one topper for eight days, which is why I chose to bring two with different vibes. One long, dressy, classic, solid and very warm. The other short, trendy, patterned, casual and not quite as warm. I can wear either topper with any top or bottom.

Accessories

I packed many accessories because they change up my look, and don’t take up space. I chose two scarves that work perfectly with the palette. The burgundy scarf creates an effective complement with the burgundy bag, boots, belt and specs. The red scarf is a good match with the red coat and pullover, creating a tonal twinset effect. It also pattern mixes well wth the plaid jacket. The burgundy scarf looks as fab over the red coat. The orange pom-pom hooks onto my bag and makes me smile. I chose a crossbody because it’s easy for travel, and a dressy Furla because casual bags are not my thing. Cream beret and gloves are essential for walking in the cold morning and night. I’ll wear the pile of pearls over my cream and red pullovers. And the patterned socks are fun to make a casual statement with the palette when I feel like it.

I will also be travelling with an umbrella and a cashmere wrap. I’ve left the wrap out of the capsule because it will NOT be styled into these outfits. It’s loungewear and a cosy blanket for plane travel only.

Travel Outfit

This is the exact outfit that I will wear tomorrow on the flight out to Amsterdam, and the flight back to Seattle eight days later. It follows my strategy for what to wear on long flights. Layers, fabrics with stretch, fluid fits, and soft fabrics are cosy, comfortable and insulating for plane travel. A jacket, scarf and dressy bag also make my casual outfit look pulled together and polished. Comfortable shoes are essential for comfort when traipsing through airports and catching public transport with luggage. I’ll pack my jacket into my hand luggage during the flight and while I’m at the airport, but will need it on the other side when when I take organized transport through to my Dad’s apartment.

I tried on lots of outfit combinations using the items to make sure I liked them BEFORE I made my final decision on what to pack. You can visit the collection page to see my travel capsule in its entirety. The picture below shows the items just before I started packing.

Travel Capsule

Travel Capsule

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Link Love: The Modern Bra

With the help of a team of female engineers, Bree McKeen, the founder of Evelyn & Bobbie, has created a wireless, seamless and strapless bra that offers sturdy support.

ThirdLove, a four-year old bra company founded by ex-Googler Heidi Zak, has spent a year designing a bra you can sleep in.

Women with a larger bust might nod in agreement with Dallas Thompson’s ode to the house bra.

Fab Links from Our Members

Joy thought that “Why Don’t Pants Go Down All The Way To The Floor Anymore” was funny.

Did you hear about this plea from Zara workers?, asks Krishnidoux.

She also came across this article from last year about a woman who found a dead mouse in the seam of her new Zara dress, which, Krishnidoux adds: “makes you wonder about the fabrication conditions of these clothes.”

Approprio and Laura (rhubarbgirl) report that TJX are doing their best to support their employees in stricken Puerto Rico.

Rachylou found this article about the beginning of fast fashion during the time of Napoleon fascinating.

L’Abeille wanted to share writer Rebecca Christopher’s take on the statement sleeve.

UmmLila thinks there’s lots of food for thought in this NY Times article about Modest Dressing, as a Virtue.

Fashion artist/designer Lauren Rossi, aka The Virtuous Courtesan, makes gorgeous Venetian-inspired period ballgowns (as well as a variety of other period costumes). La Belle Demimondaine encourages us to have a look at this video.

Roundups

Fall Items

Top picks this week range from plus size toppers to patterned socks.

Read More

COS Items

Some fab architectural COS pieces to add some arty avant-garde to your style.

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Summer Items

Some fab frocks, necklaces and tops.

Read More

Tops & Bottoms

Fun Summer items for a range of body types.

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Summer Items

A selection of warm-weather items that covers a range of body types.

Read More

Summer White Tops

An assortment of white tops across a range of price points and silhouettes.

Read More

Polyester in Jeans: Yay or Nay

Denim fabric has changed a great deal in my 47 years. I remember it being stiff, crisp, thick and 100% cotton when I first started wearing it in the ‘70s, and that was after the stone washing process. At one point, wearing raw, untreated denim was trendy. It looked rather interesting and rich, but felt like cardboard.

Over the decades, we’ve seen denim fabric become thinner, softer, stretchier, span a range of colours, and look as distressed as can be. We’ve also seen 100% cotton jeans disappear as blends take over the denim world. Jeans with a two to four percent elastic component in the fabric rule.

I tend to like my jeans stiff, sturdy, thick and crisp, so NOT stretchy, soft and prone to bagging out. I used to love hard 100% cotton jeans back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and have tried modern versions over and over again in the last ten years hoping to rekindle some of the magic. I’m still not impressed with today’s 100% cotton jeans because they simply don’t make denim the way they used to. I’ve bought pricey 100% cotton premium denim jeans and been really disappointed at how they lose their shape after a single day of wear.

This brings me to jeans that have a polyester as well as a stretch component. As someone who prefers denim the way they made it thirty years ago, and can barely stand any amount of stretch in her jeans, I was appalled when the industry began adding polyester to denim. NO WAY, I thought. That’s just wrong.

Well, the joke’s on me this year because one of my favourite pairs of jeans at the moment are 73% cotton, 14% rayon, 11% polyester and 2% spandex. I was unaware of the exact fabric composition when I bought them, expecting the jeans to be the usual 98% cotton and 2% spandex. In fact, I only found out after two laundry cycles. When I eventually read the label, I GASPED, shook my head, rolled my eyes, and laughed. There was no turning back now.

They’re the full-length “Slim Jeans” from White House Black Market. The online photo does not do them justice because they look like soft and stretchy body-con skinnies, which they are not. You can see me sporting them here to get a better idea of fit and drape. They are tailored, robust, polished, thick, flattering, crisp, comfortable, do not cut off my circulation, and DO NOT BAG OUT. They make me feel pulled together, dressy, streamlined and fresh throughout the day. I just duplicated them. Enough said.

Polyester has its place in fashion, something I’ve shouted from the rooftops over and over again. 100% polyester fabrics can be nasty, but pop the fibre into a blend, and good things happen. That’s why my jeans don’t bag out or crease, and look neat and tidy throughout the day. Polyester even has its place in denim. I’d have never believed it if it weren’t for these jeans. So I’m a cautious Yay to a bit of polyester in jeans. 

Over to you: Yay or nay?

Fourteen Fab Finds

Here’s a rundown of handy items that have been winners on my clients recently. Many of them span a range of sizes, colours and silhouettes, and some are very competitively priced. Some are statement items, and some are wardrobe basics or essentials. Some are dressy, while others very casual. Each of them might fill a wardrobe whole, or embellish your party capsule. 

1. Boden Lorna Velvet Pencil Skirt

STUNNING quality skirt in luxurious fabric. Looks designer, and there’s plenty of length. Form-fitting but not body-con. Comfortable, and substantial. The length is sufficiently tailored at the hem so NOT dowdy. The slight stretch in the fabric makes the fit work on a range of body types (curvier and straighter). The sizes run small in the smaller sizes and true to size in the larger sizes. Goes up to a US18, and comes in petites. Forget the black – ink and wine are the way to go. Scrumptiously chic colours. 

2. Sole Society Faux Fur Wrap 

Well made, GREAT fit, Modern Retro and dramatic. Amazing assortment of colours and will not date. The wrap looks super over a gown, coat, suit or party dress, but even over a blazer or moto jacket with jeans – or over a blouse and pullover with skirt or trousers. I fitted the ink blue wrap over my ink blue Boden polka dot blazer and loved the tonal vibe. Wear it as a wrap or scarf. I have a slight frame with narrow shoulders and do not feel overwhelmed in this wrap. 

3. Uniqlo Heattech Fleece T-Shirt 

AMAZING fabric, and fab tailored to gently fluid fit. Well made and feels heavenly against the skin. Does not look like thermal undies, and can be worn on its own or as a layering item under a jacket or vest. Might run a size small. Sleeves are very long, but are an easy alteration to shorten. Lots of fun neutrals and non-neutrals.  

4. Sole Society Velvet Foldover Clutch 

An affordable on-trend velvet clutch with a convertible shoulder strap. Quite roomy, and fits large cell phones with ease. All the colours are nice.

5. Sejour Leather Moto  

Fabulous tailored moto for a large bust and curvy body type. Works well on an apple shape too. Good over dresses, skirts, or with trousers and jeans. There are very similar styles in olive and black.

6. White House Black Market Rose Print Jacquard Separates 

These separates are easy and lovely to wear to a holiday party, or “from desk to dinner”. The burgundy is slightly lighter in person, although looks as dark as is shown here at night. The jacquard is soft with some stretch, making it comfortable and non-crease. The items are available in petite, regular, long and plus. The pants are ALSO available in a curvy fit. Add a black support act, and you’re good to go, although I’d prefer to see the burgundy with a shade of blue, tomato red, burnt orange or cranberry. 

7. Emerson Rose Jacquard Jacket 

When you look for a dressy coat with a forgiving fit to pop over cocktail or formal wear, you usually can’t find it. NOW is the time to look for items like that, and this is a fabulous option. The slight cocoon cut makes it work on a range of body types. The three-quarter sleeves are fine layered over long sleeves. As good over jeans, or over a suit. Lightweight.

8. White House Black Market Faux Fur Vest

A fun ‘70s flashback that will not date. It’s very dramatic so consider yourself warned. It comes in petites, and is adequately tailored. Might need to size down. Good on all complexions. 

9. Franco Sarto Caleigh Pump

A comfortable and VERSATILE classic ankle strap pump with a low block heel. Wear it year round with or without hosiery. An easy party or office shoe. Lots of colours, of which some options are more comfortable than others. Will not work for wide feet. Read the rave reviews.

10. Zara Floral Pants 

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Why not wear bold tropical florals in Autumn and Winter. These fit a lot better than I thought they would, and the fabric is substantial. The rise is in a good place and the side entry pockets do not gape. Good on a straighter and slightly curvier figure because the stretch and tailoring is in the right place. Very comfortable.

11. Rosie Neira Aubade Pullover

I’ve been looking for a super soft, cuddly and fluffy pullover that does not shed, irritate my nose, and is not made of mohair or angora wool. It had to be mostly synthetic to fulfill my criteria. This pullover fits the bill, and I bought it in cream. It’s stunning, and I’m thrilled to have found what I’ve wanted after years of looking. The neck fits more closely in person and the sleeves are shorter. It’s dressy or casual, versatile, polished and awfully pretty. Perfect with my pearls. It works as well over skirts as it does with trousers and jeans thanks to the position of the welt. The “Rosie” brand was my sign to bring it home.

12. Nordstrom Cashmere Ruffle Wrap

A good price for a gorgeous cashmere wrap. The ruffled hem is VERY subtle. It’s luscious, versatile, and very cosy. Comes in lots of colours, and is a good size for most body types. I bought the burgundy to work with my new burgundy capsule, and to have as a second wrap option on long flights since I travel internationally quite frequently. I also use it like a cardigan at home. Fab to wrap over your shoulders when working on the computer. Looks chic too.

13. Banana Republic Machine Washable Merino Crews

These are GREAT, and many clients have snapped them up to wear as layering pieces or on their own. They can be dressed up or down, and are excellent over trousers and jeans. Perfect under a blazer and the like. Professional and polished. An excellent wardrobe essential and MACHINE WASHABLE. Fab as a backdrop to statement jewellery and scarves. The ribbed version with the scalloped neckline fits more closely to the body, so you might want to size up if you prefer a fluid fit. The double-cuffed version fits more fluidly, and I brought home the “blood orange”.

14. PJ Salvage Polar Fleece Pajamas

You might need to amp up the look of your casual sleepwear if you’re visiting friends and family over the holidays. These are yummy, super cosy, warm, great quality, easy to launder, and fun as loungewear or sleepwear. The patterns are playful, and not too juvenile. Fleece PJs covered with Yorkies, teacups, or cake would have been my first choice, but since I love macarons, I went with those. The fit is not floppy and oversized, and it’s the first time I have not been sized out of the XS in this brand. They run TTS and look quite streamlined. Also available in Plus. Greg gave his thumbs up, and I’ll use these as loungewear.