Old Navy tiered top
Old Navy linen top
Old Navy tiered top
Steve Madden sequin blazer jacket
Free people jacket
True religion skinny jean
Old Navy wedge heel shoes
Spring! It can’t come soon enough, right?
I don’t care if March 1 isn’t the official first day–it’s close enough for me! And spring means shopping for new warm-weather wardrobe items. It’s a great time to mix in a few new things that are inspired by the runway trends.
So my shopping wish list for Spring 2011 focuses on these types of garments (and accessories, too!).
- Yellow. Bold and citrus colors were everywhere and nothing is cheerier than sunny yellow. It’s a hard hue to wear, so I don’t have a lot in my closet right now. This spring feels like the year to try some on.
- Military and nautical. Military trends cycle in and out every few years, as do the nautical twists on the theme. I’d like a military-inspired jacket with some detailing, and maybe a navy-striped bateau T-shirt to go with it. So classic. Pack it away when it looks too dated and it’s ready to pull out again in another couple of years.
- High-waisted/flared jeans. Normally, I’d be scared of these. (Marsha Brady, anyone?) But I tried a pair on in H&M and they were cuter than I’d expected. Plus I’d like to wholeheartedly encourage the return of rises on denim that are in the neighborhood of my actual waist.
- Patterned/floral tops. There was a lot of patterned fabric on the Spring 2011 runways, including florals. There’s something about a floral print that feels fresh and new. The trick is to find a pattern that’s right for your shape, not too tiny and not too large.
And these aren’t even all the trends, of course. Many designers also did sheer layering as well as neutrals and nudes. But my wardrobe’s already full of neutrals, and I find layering sheer garments to be too much work to pull off properly.
- What’s on your wish list for this spring?
Habitual, Level Two "good jeans"
OK fellow working moms, is this you, or is it just me? Do you ever go to pull on an outfit for the weekend and grab the same pair of jeans every time? Do you save your “good denim” for Date Night or meeting up with the girls?
I realized that’s what I do, anyway. I may have 10 sweaters, but 7 of them are for work and the other 3 get worn over and over again on the weekends.
I call it the 5 Levels of Working Mom Outfits. The trick is to make each level work for you, so you aren’t just saving your cute and flattering stuff for important meetings or the never-frequent-enough night out with your hubby. Here’s my definition.
The 5 Levels of Working Mom Outfits
- Level One: Weekend Casual. You’re going to Home Depot or soccer practice, so you pull on the beat up Gap jeans (not the ones with holes, though; those are for gardening) that you don’t mind getting a little dirty. You round it out with a long-sleeved T and a hoodie. Footwear is a pair of kicks or maybe some Puma flats.
- Level Two: Weekend Chic. Translation: shopping at the swanky mall. Now you’re wearing your premium denim–or your dark wash boot cut jeans, anyway. You’ve traded your hoodie for a cute cardigan, maybe even with a belt on top and a fun necklace. You’re wearing ballet flats or cute sandal (no, not flip flops).
- Level Three: Casual Friday. Or, depending on your office culture, most days at work. You’re alternating your premium denim with a dressy trouser, you’re amping up the accessories–scarves, earrings–and going a little less practical with the shoes.
- Level Four: Client Meeting. Or Job Interview. Or every day at a law firm. Think skirts and blazers, a wrap or shirt-dress, or even an honest-to-goodness suit. Tights and heels. String of pearls. You mean business, lady.
- Level Five: Date Night. Operation Hot Mama. Break out that cocktail dress that’s been hanging in the back of your closet. Strappy heels and a little clutch. Don’t forget the perfume! It doesn’t matter where you’re dining (and unless you’re staging some kind of anti-Date Night protest, it’s not like you’ll be going to Quiznos), you’re gonna work it.
Like I said, maybe it’s just me. So it’s your turn.
- What do you think of the 5 Levels? Are they accurate? Why or why not?
- What’s in your closet for these outfit levels?
- Would you like more detailed suggestions for each?
Or how to be an Eddie, not a Patsy
I love fashion. It’s fun to follow it, to stay on top of the latest trends, to know what they’re wearing right off the runway.
But my goal for my closet is to fill it with style.
That doesn’t mean the two things are mutually exclusive. There is a difference, though, between focusing on fashion and focusing on style. Between a fashionista and a stylista, if you will.
Think about the characters in the classic ’90s BBC comedy “Absolutely Fabulous.” (You have seen it, right?) Eddie is obsessed with fashion and is always dressed head-to-toe in the latest trends, mixing them all together regardless of their suitability. “Lacroix, dahling,” she coos. “Lacroix!” Former model Patsy, by contrast, wears sharply cut suits, skirts and heels (though her beehive hairdo could use a little updating). Watch an episode today and Eddie’s clothing is by far the most dated.
The difference between stylish and fashionable
- Fashionable only lasts a season, two if you’re lucky.
- Stylish lasts year after year.
- Fashionable ignores your body type.
- Stylish works for your shape.
- Fashionable doesn’t always work with what you already own.
- Stylish blends into your wardrobe seamlessly.
So how do you avoid being an overly fashionista Eddie? The tricky part is learning how to shop for style instead of shopping (only) for fashion.
Stylish vs. fashionable shopping tips
- Style: Look for pieces in classic shapes that have been proven again and again: the little black dress, a camel trench coat, a string of pearls.
- Fashion: Choose the season’s trend that works best with what you already have and buy just one or two pieces. Accessories are often the best (and least expensive) way to incorporate trends into your wardrobe.
- Style: Buy the best you can afford; you’ll own it for years.
- Fashion: Spend as little as possible, and look for knockoffs at retailers like H&M; you’ll be throwing it out soon enough.
- That’s my take on fashion vs. style — what’s yours?
- Confess: Are you an Eddie or a Patsy?
This post is going to be a bit different. It’s about your clothes, but it’s also not about your clothes.
You see, I had a little epiphany reading a recent blog post on the Fluent Self about new beginnings, in which author Havi Brooks talks about rituals for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year that began earlier this month. As she described it, you go through your living space, examine it carefully and clean out anything that doesn’t belong to you.
And then she writes:
“If there are clothes that don’t fit, dishes that you don’t like, things you never use, these move out of your space. If there are things you want in your space and there isn’t money for them yet, you write these down. You fill your life with things and qualities you want in it.”
Clothes that don’t fit. Filling your life with the things you want in it. (Zap! Epiphany.)
I talk a lot on this blog about editing your wardrobe and cleaning out your closet. The idea is to create a core wardrobe by eliminating the clothes you don’t wear, whether it’s because they’re out of style, damaged or simply don’t fit–which normally means size, whether too big or too small.
But what if we think about it in a larger sense? Clothes that don’t fit your life. Clothes that don’t fit who you are, even if they fit the body you have. A closet full of the things you want in it.
Look in your closet. Are these garments for you, or for someone you imagined yourself to be? Are they the ones you truly want?
Today is the autumnal equinox, an equal balance of night and day. Fall begins now. Can you make a new beginning for this season by getting rid of what doesn’t fit?
There are a number of ways to edit down your closet in order to get to a baseline set of garments on top of which your wardrobe can be built.
My 10 items for a Desert Island Dressing wardrobe
For example, I’ve talked about taking a wardrobe vacation: making a list of the clothes you’d take for an enjoyable vacation and using that as a starting point.
The more enjoyable the process is, after all, the more likely you are to complete it.
So here’s another fun way to think about what’s in your closet that you like best, the true keepers.
It’s called Desert Island Dressing.
Desert Island Dressing
This little exercise is inspired by a music game that’s been around for a while called Desert Island Discs, in which the challenge is to choose the 10 CDs you’d want to have with you if you were stranded on the proverbial desert island. In this case, as you may be able to guess, the goal is to pick 10 items from your closet that you’d be happy to wear if they were all you had.
Have the wheels started turning in your head yet?
Some ground rules might help. Although the conceit involves a desert island, don’t feel constrained by the idea that these have to be warm-weather clothes. And to make it easier on ourselves, let’s take underwear and shoes as a given! What about accessories, you may ask? Why don’t we leave those for another list someday.
I’ll go first. (And although I have some favorite clothes, I have to admit this was a little harder than I’d expected!) So here is my Desert Island Dressing list:
- Habitual jeans
- Ann Taylor Loft denim split skirt (culottes)
- J. Crew cotton khaki A-line skirt
- Garnet Hill leopard print 3/4-length sleeve cardigan
- Ann Taylor Loft white cotton boat-neck tunic
- Whistle & Flute mint green scoop-neck button-front 3/4-length sleeve shirt (that’s a mouthful!)
- Stella McCartney boat-neck 3/4-length sleeve cotton tunic
- Rogan heather grey ringer T-shirt
- H&M V-neck empire waist blouse with flutter sleeves and black velvet tie
- Calvin Klein olive green scoop-neck empire waist tunic
And now I can clearly see what kinds of patterns have emerged from this exercise for me. In tops: tunic style, open necklines and empire waist. In everything: lots of solid, neutral colors in clean lines with minimal embellishments.
I’ve found some shapes and styles that look and work best for me. Now I can build on this with some variations in both silhouette and color, all while staying within this family of garments.
Now It’s Your Turn!
- What’s on your Desert Island Dressing list?
- Do you see a pattern in your clothes?
- If so, is it because these items flatter you most?
- If you don’t have a consistent style, do you prefer any garments more than the others? Why?
With this information in hand and a clearer perspective on what suits you best (and what you like the most), you’ll find you have a head start on returning to the rest of your closet to complete your editing exercise.
I can’t quite believe it, but I’ve been blogging about style tips and creating the perfect wardrobe for a year now.
So for my blogging anniversary (blogiversary?), here’s a look back at the top 10 posts of the past 12 months:
Thanks for joining me for the past year. I look forward to helping more of you look better and dress better in the year to come!
Pop the cork on New Year's style resolutions
Arbitrary though it may be to adopt change just because the calendar has turned, making a New Year’s resolution can still be an effective way to nudge oneself toward better habits.
Since I’m always seeking to improve the way I shop and dress, here then is my short list of style resolutions for 2010.
- Pay attention to fit. Nothing ruins a good garment more quickly than a poor fit. I vow to pay closer attention to how my clothes fit, particularly new ones that I try on. Is the shoulder seam hitting at the shoulder? Are the sleeves long enough? Are pants too tight across the bottom? Are skirts too short–or too long?
- Carefully consider value. It’s all too tempting to buy something new just because it’s on sale or simply for fun. I’ll still do that, but I’m going to be more careful about which things I purchase this way. Will it really add value to my wardrobe? Can I wear it with many of my existing items? Will I be tired of it in a year? Does it duplicate something I already own?
- Revisit the closet. I’ve often talked about the importance of editing your closet. So I want to practice what I preach by re-evaluating the contents of my own on a regular basis. Ideally, this would take place every season. But at a minimum, I will weed out during my twice-yearly closet rotation when I swap the weather-appropriate clothes that fit in my 1948-sized closet and dresser with the ones that are in storage in the spare room and basement.
Those are my resolutions for the New Year.
What are your resolutions?