fashion

Cold Weather Capsule (My Ten Item Wardrobe)

skirts, tops, coats and accessories are laid out in a grid showing possible outfit combinations

Have you ever heard of the “10 Item Wardrobe” by Jennifer of The Daily Connoisseur? The principle is to create a seasonal wardrobe consisting of ten core items- tops, bottoms and dresses- which form the staples of your wardrobe. Then to these pieces you add layering cardigans, t-shirts, leisure wear, shoes and accessories. It’s not so much focused on having a certain number of items, like a capsule wardrobe often is, but rather on choosing items which can be easily dressed up or down, and layered or simplified as you need them to.

Over the past couple of years I have been seeking to create two capsule wardrobes; one for warm weather and one for cold. We have four distinct seasons where I live, so there isn’t a large amount of crossover between my warm and cold weather clothing items. As I have been curating my capsule wardrobe/ ten item wardrobe, I have not been focusing too heavily on making sure I have a certain number of items, but rather on the versatility and “mix and matchability” of each piece that I have. I’ve added a few new items in the past year, so I thought it would be fun to see them all laid out and how they work together.

Firstly, for the core pieces, I have four skirts, though one of these will soon be headed out and one may be brought in.

a row of skirts- peach floral, brown plaid, black pleated and brown houndstooth

A lightweight peach floral gathered skirt, a brown and black houndstooth patterned 3/4 circle skirt, a classic black wool pleated skirt and a brown plaid 3/4 circle skirt give me plenty of options. I have plans to add in another tan/ivory/black plaid skirt, but I have to finish sewing it first! I also will be removing the peach skirt, because it’s a bit too lightweight for snowy weather. With our warm fall and winter, I was able to get quite a bit of use out of it this season, but since we got snow this week, I think it’s time to pack it away.

As for tops, I have a few different categories and you will quickly see that this is the larger part of my wardrobe, which makes sense because tops take more wear and tear than bottoms.

a row of pullovers: a black and white leopard print, chocolate brown, black and gold stripe angora and black with dot detail

For stand-alone sweater tops I have my favourite off white and black leopard print with 3/4 sleeves, a chocolate brown mockneck (it’s not as red in real life), a black and gold striped 3/4 sleeve, and a black 3/4 sleeve with french knot detail at the neck.

a row of blouses and tops- a cream embroidered camisole, a black cardigan, a green cardigan and a black and cream lace cardigan

An off white embroidered camisole is a good layering piece, and I also have three cardigans that I wear tucked in like pullovers: one in black with a v-neck, one in green, and one short sleeved with lace detail. The green one is new-to-me this season.  Those are all of my “Core Pieces”, except for one more I will mention in a minute.  You can see that I have more than just 10 pieces!

Now, for the additional pieces, I have more casual tops which, to be honest, I probably wear more than the other dressier ones. It all depends on the situation and whether I need layers or not.

row of tshirts in brown, green and black

For t-shirts, I have a short sleeved brown, a 3/4 length sleeve green, a 3/4 length sleeve draped collar oxblood/brown and a short sleeved black. All of these are new pieces I added this year to replace some others that had worn out. The t-shirts are casual pieces which dress down my wool skirts, and I like to layer them with cardigans too.

cardigans and a blazer in brown, black and green

For layering I have several cardigans and a tweed blazer. The blazer and the brown cardigan are new this year, but the black and green are old favourites. Adding layers completely changes the look and the function of an outfit. You can make it dressier by adding a blazer, or cozier by adding a cardigan.

Moving on to outerwear I have four main coats, though I predominantly wear the trenchcoat for warmer days and the camel coat for cold days. The other two dressy coats I wear occasionally to church etc.

four coats including a black trenchcoat, two black dressy coats and a camel wool coat

I actually have more shoes than this (most of which I have had for 10 years or so) but I didn’t feel like taking a photo of every pair. All of my winter shoes, except one, are black or brown and I have a variety of casual and dressy boots as well as a few dress shoes. Some have heels and I wear them only on Sundays, but my low heeled boots are the ones I wear day to day. I used to buy a lot of high heeled shoes, but my feet don’t like them now, so I mostly wear my brown boots on the right, which I have had for 11 years!

winter shoes and boots in brown and black

Then it’s time for accessories! I have more than these pictured, but didn’t want to photograph everything, or we’d be here a while.

purses and hats- brown structured leather, soft green leather and wool berets in a variety of colours

These are my most worn, for example; the satchel on the right is my everyday purse. Accessories are really where you can change up your outfits, and are not necessarily season specific, so they are an important component of your wardrobe. Some accessories I wear are purses, scarves, berets, tights, jewelry, hatpins, hats, gloves, fur collars etc.

scarves including cashmere ones, a blanket scarf, a lightweight taupe one and a silky one

Now I mentioned another “core item” earlier, and this is it… my navy dress. The reason why it is lonely down here and not with my other core items, is because it doesn’t go with anything else in my wardrobe except these navy heels, and my navy purse.

navy silk scarf, navy dress, navy structured purse and navy high heeled pumps

When I sewed this dress I thought it would be one of these background pieces that you could dress up or down and pair with many different accessories, but it really doesn’t go with anything else! So it just hangs out with my other few navy accessories which still make it an excellent and easy go-to outfit.

But to get back to the capsule wardrobe items that do play well together…

All of my main pieces are easy to mix and match and I can get a fairly good amount of combinations from them. I’m not a mathematician, but if I was, I could figure out the number of unique combinations and I’m sure it would be in the hundreds.  If I added in all of my accessories, I’m sure it would be in the hundreds of thousands. I always used to want to have a large wardrobe with many pieces to choose from in all colours, but I’ve realized over the years, it’s much nicer to have several pieces that work well together and are easy to accessorize. Not only does it make it easier to dress in the morning, but also easier to shop and launder and maintain.

Here are just a few quick outfit combinations I came up with.

First up, my black pleated wool skirt paired with off-white and green accessories. I think I’d wear sheer black or patterned tights (such as polka dots) and for jewelry a short chain necklace and either my silky or woven taupe scarf. My leopard beret would add in some nice texture and pattern as well.

an outfit grid consisting of a black pleated skirt, embroidered cream top, green sweater and leather bag, black ankle boots and a black trench coat

Another green and off white combination. Because I don’t have a black purse, I struggle with which bag to pair with an outfit like this, so either go with this green one, or a tiny clutch if I don’t have to carry much. I would pair this with sheer hosiery, and for jewelry, my pearls.

an outfit grid with a black dress coat with fur cuffs, a black wool skirt, a printed sweater, silky scarf, green purse and mary jane shoes

Now for my houndstooth patterned skirt. You can’t tell in the picture, but in person the brown has a bit of a green undertone, so I’ve got the green purse back in. I’d probably do sheer beige tights and maybe a pin on the lapel of the blazer. 

houndstooth brown skirt outfit grid with a camel coat, brown shoes, a blazer and green purse

For something completely different, here the skirt is paired with black accessories. I’d pair this with sheer beige or black tights and for jewelry a pendant necklace and a hat pin.

brown houndstooth skirt paired with black accessories and coat

Now for a splash of pink, I’ve paired this peach skirt with a casual brown top, gingham scarf (which does coordinate in person, I promise!), a green bag and brown shoes. The coat doesn’t match very well, but it’s what I have, and I wouldn’t be wearing it inside anyway. I’d pair this with sheer tights because the skirt is so lightweight.

peach skirt paired with brown top, brown shoes, green bag and gingham scarf

For the next outfit with the peach skirt, I did the opposite and have all brown accessories and a green top. I’d wear stud earrings and a pendant necklace to finish it off.

peach skirt outfit with a camel coat, green top and brown accessories

Finally, here is my plaid skirt, which goes the best with most of my clothing pieces, so I did four outfit combinations. I originally did three combinations, but since I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago, I found another top!

First a monochromatic look in shades of brown. I’d wear sheer tights and for jewelry do just earrings since the collar takes the place of a necklace.

brown plaid skirt paired with camel coat and all brown accessories and top

Next, an outfit with a mix of black and brown accessories; I have no problem mixing brown and black together, even in leather.  If I wanted this outfit a bit dressier, I could switch the satchel for my top handle brown bag. I would wear black or “hint-o’-black” (which is more of a brown/grey colour) tights with this look, and if I wanted to add a hat, I’d pick my black beret and add a hat pin.

plaid skirt outfit with brown and black pieces paired

Here is a more casual outfit with a mix of predominantly black accessories. I would wear a long pendant necklace with the drapey top, a hat pin, black tights and as for purse, I would probably wear my satchel. I’ve been wearing this outfit basically on repeat this winter, since it’s so easy and comfortable and perfect for a day out running errands.

brown plaid skirt paired with taupe and black accessories and top

And finally an outfit with colour! When I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago, I wrote that I was on the lookout for some pink and taupe tops, and I have since found one! This top pairs really nicely with my plaid skirt and brown accessories. Again, I have paired it with the top handle brown purse, a brown scarf and brown shoes, with my camel coat. For jewelry I’d probably do earrings and skip a necklace.

a plaid skirt paired with a pink turtleneck and brown accessories and coat

Well, there are ten outfit combinations to start with, and I didn’t even feature all of the pieces I have in my wardrobe.

I’ve noticed that my colours change a little bit with the seasons; in summer I predominantly wear blue and brown, but in the winter I predominantly wear black and brown! Almost all of these outfits were just a blend of black and brown, with the occasional splash of green and pink. What can I say? I love neutrals! However, I still would like to add some blush pink, taupe and off white to bring in a bit of lightness, and have been actively avoiding looking at black when I’m shopping. Black is chic and versatile, but wearing it head-to-toe is a bit overwhelming for me. As I wrote about in this post, it’s nice to hone in on your signature colours and shop from there. It’s been so helpful when shopping to immediately skip over the pieces I know won’t look good on me and won’t coordinate with the other pieces in my wardrobe. I’ve also got small swatches of fabric of my two brown skirts, so when I’m shopping I can easily see whether the pieces I’m looking at will coordinate with them or not.

The problem with wearing “slow fashion”, though, is that it is also slow to find new pieces. However, I know that there will always be those pieces that I “need” to fill a gap in my wardrobe, and it’s alright if it takes a while to find the right ones. The nice thing about building a capsule wardrobe is that it isn’t static, things are always changing, just as we are, and it’s OK to add and remove pieces as you need them.

So, other than wanting to add in a bit more colour than I currently have, I am really happy with how my capsule/ ten item wardrobe came together this year. It’s nice to be able to put together outfits without overthinking it, and I like the direction it gives me when shopping.

Have you ever heard of the 10 Item Wardrobe? Do you like to have a capsule wardrobe? What are the predominant colours in your closet? And, do you have a seasonal wardrobe, or do you wear the same things year round? 

a group of accessories including hats, gloves, jewelry, collars and clutch bags

Updating My Personal Colour Palette | Colour Draping

colour palette in front of clothes in my closet

In 2021, I wrote a series of posts about Personal Style, sharing the things I had been learning about defining your style, curating your closet to the size that is right for you, choosing pieces that work well for your body type and creating a personal colour palette. While I had discovered a lot of good things in the post about colour, I also wrote:

“After looking into it and taking a self quiz, I discovered that I am either a Soft Summer or a Soft Autumn. I can’t decide which, so I chose to put myself right in between both! …. I think that I fall a bit more towards the Soft Autumn palette, because as I looked back through my favourite outfits on my blog, I realized that some of my colour choices need to be a little bit warmed up.”

Well, we all make mistakes, and that was one of mine! I spent that entire post creating a warm toned personal colour palette for myself, completely missing the fact that I actually lean more cool toned. While I can wear some warmer colours well, my best colours have a cool undertone.

So, how did I figure out that I had this completely backwards? Back in the spring my mom and sister and I spent an afternoon colour draping in order to find which colours are our personal best. In this method, you drape different tones and shades and study in the mirror to see how they effect your complexion etc. We followed this excellent guideline. 

colour draping with orange and pink fabric

The first step is to determine whether you are cool or warm, and immediately after draping the orange and fuchsia fabrics, we could see that all three of us have a cool undertone. You should be able to tell when you drape these two colours. The orange fabric made me look sallow and brought out all of the dark spots in my skin, while the pink, though not a good shade for me, looked much better. It’s hard to see the difference in the photos I took, unfortunately, but you can sort of see that my skin looks brighter in the pink, and a bit more dull in the orange. Some people may have a very dramatic difference, while for others it may be not as clear. Through draping different shades of each colour ranging from dark to light, and muted to clear, we were able to pinpoint which shades worked the best for each of us.

I see colour analysis as a gradient, with your best colours on one side. These colours enhance your beauty and make you look vibrant and alive without any extra work. The colours that are “OK” are in the middle. They don’t make you shine quite as much as your best colours, and you might need to compensate with styling, but they don’t make you look sickly either. And then on the other side are your worst colours which will make you look like you’re ready to roll into a coffin.

And so, this is how I figured out that my best colours, with a few exceptions, are ones that look like they have been desaturated, or smokey, but not earthy. A lot of my best colours align with the Soft Summer colour seasons palette: muted shades that have grey added to them. In comparison, Autumn features warm shades that are muted with the addition of brown. There were some surprising results, and going through the draping process revealed my bias towards colours I like, but that aren’t actually my best colours. Thus, my personal colour palette has changed a bit from my previous post…

switching the colours in my old personal palette to choose better ones

In the palette I created back in 2021, I chose these colours:

  • Brown
  • Cream
  • Tan / Camel
  • Navy / Blue
  • Cinnamon
  • Black
  • Olive
  • Peach
  • Ochre

I got this wrong! The colours I should have chosen are:

  • Brown
  • Pearl / Mushroom
  • Taupe
  • Navy / Blue
  • Black
  • Sage
  • Dusty rose

Some of those original colours still work great, but the warmer shades are better converted to cool ones.

swatches of neutral tones in my personal colour palette

  • For neutrals, my best choices are pink beige, mushroom or taupe shades, and I should stay away from yellow beiges and tans. Interestingly, I should have been able to figure this out years ago, because my winter coat isn’t a true camel colour, but actually has a pink brown undertone. How did I not see that?
  • A surprise was that brown is actually not a bad colour for me! (Which is good because I really like brown!) While warm browns aren’t my best choices, they fall into that middle “OK” category.
  • As for my “white”, I look best in off whites, with a bit of a pink or grey undertone, rather than bright white, cream or ivory which make me look ill.

swatches of blue and green in my personal colour palette

  • Navy is a good colour even though it is dark. Blue is, unsurprisingly, one of my best colours.
  • Dusty rose, mauve, blush and lavender are also good colours for me. I’m excited to add pink to my wardrobe, but don’t really have plans to add lavender, since it doesn’t go with much else and I am not drawn to shades of purple.

swatches of shades of pink in my personal colour palette

And then here is where I chose to “break the rules”.

  • Black is not a bad colour, although it’s a bit too intense for head to toe, but I can wear it without looking completely washed out. I have lots of pieces that I really like in black (including my glasses!), however, like I spoke of in that original post two years ago, I treat black as an accent colour, not as a neutral. I don’t pair very many other colours with black because the contrast is too great for me.

wearing black with neutrals compared with other colour

The black paired with tan is softer than black paired with colour. 

  • Grey is one of the best colours for a cool undertone, and it is a good colour on me… but I don’t like grey! I have had some pieces over the years, but I’ve slowly gotten rid of almost all of the grey pieces I have in my closet. This is an example of using the colour analysis as a jumping off point, but then personalizing it to your own taste. If you don’t like a colour, just because it “looks good on you” doesn’t mean you have to wear it.
  • As for my beloved mustard yellow and ochre, I’ve decided to steer clear of it for tops and pieces that are near my face. I still love mustard yellow, but I just don’t love it on me, so I’ll keep it for accessories, such as bags or tights.

patchwork bag with wooden handles

  • Regarding those warm browns, cinnamons and beiges…I am not eliminating them from my closet, because I love them too much! However, I have moved many of them to pieces that aren’t close to my face. That is the biggest part of colour analysis: you can wear any colour as a skirt or shoes, but not every colour looks the best as a blouse or scarf.
  • And, as for my post in 2021 about “warming things up” I do still think this works well for me with accessories, such as my cognac purse and shoes. They keep my cool coloured outfits from becoming too dark and contrasted, like they would if I was to pair them with black accessories. I think what I was unknowingly getting at from that observation, was to create outfits that are more muted, not necessarily warm. One of my favourite colour combinations is blue paired with brown, and when I think about it, that is a more muted and soft colour choice than black and blue is.

brown vs black paired with blue

Pairing blue with brown vs. pairing it with black. The brown is a softer effect.

So, should you try colour draping yourself? Absolutely yes!

When you know which colours are your personal best, it is so much easier to put together your wardrobe and your outfits. An example my sister gave, in regards to wearing black, is that black washes her out so she always feels that she has to compensate with makeup. How much easier it is to wear a colour that makes you look amazing, even if you don’t wear any makeup or go to great lengths with your accessories!

Finding my best colours has been so helpful for me to realize why I gravitate to wearing certain things in my wardrobe, and why other outfits feel a little “off”. I love warm colours such as mustard, cinnamon, olive and camel, however, when I wore those colours they didn’t look as good as I had hoped they would. I know a couple of ladies who look amazing in mustard yellow, however, when I wear it I look a little peaky and you notice the clothing, but not me. It just never worked as well on me, and didn’t make as much of an impact as it does on those ladies.

Even if you are hesitant to drape your colours like I used to be, because you don’t want to “limit yourself”, knowing which colours are your best is an incredibly helpful tool as you shop and choose outfits. (And, remember, if you know the rules, you can creatively break them!) Finding your colours doesn’t limit you to only a part of the swatch book, but helps guide you to finding pieces that make you look great without even trying. I’ve personally started wearing a lot more blue in the past few months and have been more intentional about shopping for pieces that are good for my colouring while skipping the sections that aren’t. I’ve also changed my sewing plans for certain fabrics, because I realized that I wouldn’t like them as dresses and they would work much better as skirts. Thus, I’ve saved myself a lot of frustration of going to the effort of sewing something new, only to not like how it turned out.

two fabrics with warm orange undertones

I made both of these fabrics into skirts instead of dresses, once I realized they were too warm toned.

Finding your best colours also doesn’t mean you have to clear everything out and start over. From this point on, as you shop or sew, focus on your new personal colour palette and those older pieces will either slowly wear out or rotate out as you find new pieces. Of course, if you really love a colour and it makes you feel great when you wear it, then wear it with confidence!

But, in conclusion, yes I highly recommend trying out colour draping and creating a personal colour palette for your closet! And if you don’t get it right the first time, don’t worry…in a few years you’ll probably figure it out! Just kidding (I hope)!

Have you ever “gotten your colours done” before, or draped your own? Do you have a personal colour palette for your wardrobe? How do you include colours you love which aren’t your personal best?

10 Chic Wardrobe Essentials For Every Woman

a navy blue cotton dress and several t-shirts and sweaters hanging on vintage wooden hangers in a closet

There are so many articles out there, each claiming that you need “these 10 wardrobe essentials” in your closet to make you a stylish and well put together lady, but that usually doesn’t work out the way they claim. While I do think there are a lot of pieces out there that will add value to your closet, the details might look different for each person both in terms of personal style, and body type and what suits one woman, may not the next. That being said, I think there are a lot of pieces that in general can be useful for everyone, and when thinking about capsule wardrobes and my post about 10 pieces I still love after 10 years etc. I started compiling this list of 10 chic wardrobe essentials I think every one could use in their closet, curated and personalized to each individual of course. If you are looking to level up your personal style in 2023, then I hope this list can help! I made it a bit more open ended in order to help inspire your wardrobe, rather than stifling it.

a tan neutral circle skirt paired with different tops for a completely different look- a great example of wardrobe essentials

A skirt in your “Neutral” colour

“Neutral” can mean different things for different wardrobes. For many women, black is their neutral simply because that is what is the most readily available. For me, I have chosen tan and brown as my neutral base to build my wardrobe off of, but I know of ladies who have chosen what would usually be considered an accent colour as their neutral. Whatever you have chosen as a “neutral” in your wardrobe, whether that’s navy, black, brown or even olive or blush, you should have at least one skirt in that colour. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a solid, but if it contains an element of this neutral tone, it will coordinate with a lot of other pieces in your wardrobe and give you a base to wear your statement tops and jewelry. A skirt in a neutral tone will easily mix and match with many other pieces in your closet, extending the variety in your wardrobe. And, of course, if you’re not a skirt person, then pants work just as well!

wardrobe essentials; sheer and opaque black tights

Black tights in both sheer and opaque

I used to wear a lot of coloured tights in the Winter, but in recent years I have gravitated towards black ones for a few reasons. First, they are classic and they will never go out of style. Secondly, they pair with so many things, unless as discussed above, you don’t have black in your closet. Black is not my neutral, brown is, and yet I find that black tights still pair well with so many of the pieces I wear, and they ground an outfit in a way that a coloured tight doesn’t. I switch between opaque and sheer finishes, depending on the outfit. Sometimes sheer black tights can look too dressy, and sometimes opaque can look too heavy, so it’s nice to have both options. Opaque tights pair nicely with black shoes, as they will give you a really nice long uninterrupted line. And, as with any colour of tights, you can wear them with a shorter skirt to either make it a bit more modest, or cold weather appropriate. I also often find that you can wear lighter summer weight pieces, paired with dark tights and they suddenly look more cold weather appropriate, so they can help to extend your wardrobe in that way too.

a simple a-line coat throughout the decades

A wool coat in a classic cut

Whether you choose a swing coat, a peacoat or an A-Line style, a wool coat in a classic silhouette won’t go out of style. Take this popular A-Line style of jacket-it’s been around since the 1900’s, changing pretty much only in length as the years go by. Of course some of the details and styling differ throughout the decades, some years it’s tighter, others looser, some years knee length, then hip length, then calf length, but even if you are wearing a different length than the current “look”, it still manages to look current. Look at the coats from 1940, 1970 and 2005; they are almost identical! The key to a good coat, is choosing a good quality wool. If you buy a coat with too high of a synthetic fibre content, not only will it not keep you very warm, but it won’t last. There’s just something about synthetic blends that tend to degrade and pill and look cheap over time in a way that wool doesn’t. (You can still get a wool blend, but try to get one where the natural fibres make up the majority of the fibre content, with only a small amount of synthetic.) If you invest in a good wool coat in a classic cut, it will last you forever. And by “invest” that doesn’t necessarily mean hundreds of dollars. (Although if you divide $400 over 10 years that cost breakdown is pretty good!) My wool coat is from the 1980’s, and it’s not even in a very classic cut (it’s a raglan sleeve) but I’ve had it for 10 winters now and it’s still in great condition. I bought it from a thrift store, which is getting harder to do these days, I realize, so if you can’t find a good one at the thrift shops, you may be able to find one at a consignment store or outlet store. My biggest takeaway is just to look at the fibre content.

coordinating leather shoes and purse in cognac brown

A coordinating set of leather shoes, bag and belt

While in recent years many people have eschewed matching accessories, having a set of matching shoes and bags is actually a great idea, and adding in a belt makes it even better. (Ladies from the past knew what they were doing!) If you create “sets” of coordinating pieces, you will always be able to finish off your outfit nicely, even if you don’t always wear each the pieces together.

While many women do own matching shoes and purses, adding a belt will make this combination even more versatile. Colours look better when they comes in threes, so this is a really easy way to do that. (The other option would be a hat in the same colour) When creating a set of accessories, you can choose whether you want to create a neutral combination or go for something bold with a pop of colour. I have a set of cognac brown accessories (they aren’t perfect match, but I don’t mind that bit of colour variation) and I wear those pieces all the time because they coordinate really well with the other pieces in my wardrobe. It’s a lot harder for me to wear some of my statement purses like my olive green or navy blue ones, because I have to be conscious of what shoes and garments to pair them with. When you have matching shoes, purse and bag, it makes it so much easier to create your base, and then you can add in statement pieces as a fun detail afterwards.

black mary jane high heels

A closed-toe pump or Mary Jane 

A classic style pump or Mary Jane heel will serve you well since a closed toe style can easily be worn in warm or cold weather. While we often gravitate to sandals or peep toe styles in the summer, a closed toe pump can often be worn without being too warm. And then, if you take that same shoe and add hosiery, they will work well for cold weather too. (well, not too cold of weather). I personally love the Mary Jane style of shoe, but a pump will give you the same amount of versatility.

background dress from a 1939 sears catalogue

A “Background” dress.

A “Background’ dress is a dress that is a one stop outfit. I saw this term used in the Sears catalogue from 1939, which reads, “What every woman wants! A really good dress with exquisite line and perfect fit. Smart enough to be lovely just as it is…or adaptable to accessory changes.” The junior version on the same page reads, “Superbly simple background dress that’s perfect when worn unadorned…and takes accessories with the greatest of ease! Wins you fame as the Girl who has Lots of Clothes without costing you lots of money!”

You don’t have to add anything to a background dress in order to make a complete outfit, but a background dress can be mixed and matched with plenty of accessories to create a whole new look. For example, my new navy dress can be worn all on it’s own for an entire outfit, but because of it’s simple design and colour palette, I can easily match it with other pieces from my wardrobe. I could add a belt and a cardigan for a new look, or instead wear some tights and a scarf and it’s an entirely different one. The key with a background dress is that it coordinates well with the items in your closet to give you maximum versatility. While I love skirts and tops, dresses are definitely one of the easiest things to wear as they are an outfit-in-one.

ivory silk scarf tied onto the handle of a navy blue purse

Silk scarf

A silk scarf is another one of my favourite “investment’ pieces. You don’t actually have to spend a lot on them, since you can often find them in thrift stores, and they are another versatile piece to add to your wardrobe. There are so many options to utilize silk scarves: as turbans and headbands, as a bow detail on a handbag, and of course as a scarf around your neck! There are tons of ways to tie scarves; I have a vintage book with all sorts of ways to tie scarves (I plan to share some of those here in the future). Not only can scarves add a certain pop to your outfit, but they will help to protect the collars of your coats from getting dirty so quickly, reducing the need to clean your coats as often. Of course, while silk is lovely, vintage nylon scarves are also great. I have a few vintage ones from the seventies in fun colours and patterns.

ivory knitted wool blanket scarf

Blanket scarf

On the other end of the spectrum from a silk scarf is a blanket scarf! Large blanket scarves came into popularity a few years ago and I think they are such a great piece to have if you live in a cold climate. They can add so much impact to your outfit, especially when paired with simpler outerwear. And not only do they add colour and drama to your outfit, they can double as a shawl/blanket if you don’t have a sweater. Of course, shawls have been around forever, so this is definitely one piece that will never go out of style! Blanket scarves come in a range of fabrics and styles, including knitted/crocheted or woven. I most commonly see wool and rayon fabrics in a wide range of colours and patterns. I personally have two extra large scarves; this ivory wool knitted one, and a black and tan geometric rayon one, and I am also on the lookout for a woven one in plaid that coordinates with the other colours in my wardrobe, while also adding some pattern and texture.

striped 60's style statement sunglasses

Statement sunglasses

Your sunglasses don’t necessarily have to be “statement” ones, but in my opinion as far as sunglasses go, you really can’t go too crazy. Whereas everyday, prescription glasses are usually a bit more neutral because you’re wearing them all the time, sunglasses are only worn out of doors (or whenever you want to be left alone!) so you can go big with them. I have these crazy cream and tortoise striped sunglasses and I LOVE them. When I got them, I wasn’t sure if they were “too much”, but they are so fun and I get a lot of compliments on them. If stripes or patterns aren’t your thing, you can of course go for a more traditional style such as aviators or cat eye but make sure that whatever you choose looks glam!

two wrap skirts

An adjustable skirt or dress

We all have those days when we feel bloated or sick, or the weather is +40 and a tight fitting garment just isn’t going to cut it. While loungewear is great for when you’re at home, when you need to leave the house, a wrap skirt or dress is a great option. I used to make all of my clothes with fixed waistbands, before realizing that sometimes you want to be comfortable, yet still stylish (aka. not wearing an elastic waistband). I made a few wrap skirts a couple of years ago, and I love them! You can easily tie them to the size needed, you’ll look great and you’ll feel great too. I don’t have any wrap dresses yet, but that’s on the list of things to sew…someday.

statement clutches- the bonus wardrobe essentials item

A statement clutch

And I added a bonus one to the list just for fun! They’re not really wardrobe essentials, but I do love a good statement clutch. We all have events to go to, whether it’s a wedding, or an evening party, and a statement clutch or bag can add so much interest and personality to your outfit. While there may be a dress code for an event that limits your choice of attire, a clutch is available in so many options! Having several clutches also means that you can recycle the same outfit to multiple events without feeling like you’re wearing exactly the same outfit over and over again. And while clutches aren’t necessarily the best for everyday use, you can always add them to a daytime outfit for a vintage look if you don’t have to carry too many items with you.

Well, there is my list of the 10, or rather 11, chic wardrobe essentials that I think every woman can add into her closet to make it a bit more stylish and put together.

What do you think? Do you have any of these pieces in your closet?What are some of your favourite wardrobe essentials that you’d include in this list?

All in the Details

wearing a tan wrap skirt and a black top and shoes standing in a field with fall coloured trees in the background

When you have a minimalist or capsule wardrobe, it really is all in the details! If you’re wearing a combination of the few same pieces over and over again, changing your necklace or shoes can make it feel like a whole new outfit. Well, sort of?

wearing a black star patterned t-shirt with a tan wrap skirt and standing among the grass with yellow trees behind

To be honest, I sometimes wonder whether I should even post these kinds of outfits, since there isn’t much of a difference to see from the last few times I wore it… but since most of us don’t have the wardrobe of the Royal Family, wearing outfits again and again is reality. And while most of us own more than a single “Sunday best”, when you come up with a new combination, or add a new accessory, it definitely feels noteworthy.

It’s actually kind of hard to have a blog and not get sucked into the trap of thinking you need to post something new every time. But posting about the times I re-wear pieces is not only more realistic, it’s also so much better for the wallet…and the landfill. And besides, when I put hours of time into sewing a piece, or saving up to buy an item, I do want to wear it as much as I can!  I don’t understand our culture’s obsession with fast fashion. I want even my cheaper items to last forever, and am sad when inevitably “moth and rust destroy”.

wearing a black v-neck star patterned shirt with a brass snake necklace with an abandoned shed and fall trees in the background

yellow and green fall poplar leaves

detail of an antique brass snake necklace on a long chain

So, regarding this outfit, I’ve worn this favourite homesewn rayon-linen skirt many times this summer, but this time I paired it with a new thrifted geometric patterned t-shirt, a brass snake pendant I bought at a craft sale from Burlap Sac, and these laser cut peep toe heels for a fresh look.

detail of laser cut leather peep toe high heels in black leather

Sadly, these shoes are no longer a part of my wardrobe because when I wore them, I remembered why I never do. While the outers are leather, the insoles are not, which makes them really uncomfortable. My feet couldn’t slide in them properly, and so they felt very pinchy and stuck, even though the footbed fit well. It reminded me of why I always buy good quality shoes: life’s too short to wear uncomfortable shoes. (Ps. not only are quality shoes more comfortable, but they will instantly elevate your outfit.) I only paid a dollar at the thrift store for these, so I don’t mind sending them back!

holding a heart shaped yellow poplar leaf

standing in front of a yellow tree wearing a black t-shirt and tan skirt with a closeup of yellow poplar leaves

abandoned gas tank with yellow trees and a cloudy sky behind it

Well, I can’t believe that we’re already in October and I’m still able to wear lightweight skirts and open toed shoes; we have had a delightfully warm and long Fall. But, the leaves are almost all gone, and the bare trees are sweeping the sky, which means it’s time to finally pull out the Winter woollens. My Winter wardrobe is pitifully bare at the moment and, while I like having a capsule wardrobe, I don’t think I want it to be quite that minimal. It’s time to sew some more pieces or I won’t have much to mix and match this season!

spinning in a grassy area wearing a tan wrap skirt and black v-neck tshirt with black peep toe high heels

tan grass seedhead

Anyways, that was a bit of a scattered and rambley post, but I’m just getting over a head cold and I can’t think of anything else to say or a better way to say what I have written, so I guess I’ll leave it as such!

Do you tend to repeat outfits? What are your favourite ways to freshen up your outfits? Are you excited for the seasonal changes of outfits, or are you sad to say goodbye to the last season?

standing in front of a bare harvested field with trees in the distance

yellow poplar leaves silhouetted agains the sky and trees in the background

looking across the valley with trees in the distance

Wear Vintage Now | Book Review

Wear Vintage Now book by Margaret Wilds with jewelry, shoes a hat and a purse around it

I met Margaret Wilds of the shop DeniseBrain Vintage on Instagram a few years ago. I believe it was through the #myvintagecover challenge that Tanith Rowan and I hosted in 2017 and 2018, and I have been following her blog ever since. (I have linked to her posts in the past here and here) In 2019 Margaret asked me whether she could use one of my photos in a book she was writing. I was, of course, honoured and said yes! I finally was able to buy her book, Wear Vintage Now: Choose It, Care For It, Style It Your Way, just over a month ago, so I thought I’d share a review of it here.

Note: I purchased this book myself, and was not asked to give a review or receive compensation- I just wanted to share it with you all. 

wear vintage now book wrapped in pink tissue paper

Firstly, in terms of the book itself, it came beautifully wrapped in bright pink tissue paper… and I was so excited that I ripped it off before I took a picture- oops! But at least I was able to get a picture of the sticker afterwards. Also, Margaret signed the book for me, which was such a nice touch; I love buying things from small businesses, since it feels like you’re opening a gift.

It is a softcover book, 150 pages, and she did such a sweet cover design (the cover is laminated with a soft touch, velvet finish too). The only critique I have of the book is that I wish the pictures were larger! But I know that would have changed the price of printing…and so I completely understand why they were on the smaller side. I just wish I could have seen even more details!

As for the content, I really liked her premise for the book, “Who can wear vintage? I can’t think of one single person who can’t!” She focuses on several topics: how to find your vintage “look” or “style”, how to shop for vintage online and how to care for your vintage pieces.

In the first section, she shares tips for styling vintage, whether you want to be what she calls a “time traveler” or a “modern/vintage mixer” (which is the category my picture is in!) She then moves on to talking about which pieces to select if you’re new to wearing vintage, and easy pieces to add to your wardrobe first if you’re not quite ready to dive in headfirst. This section is definitely aimed at those who are new to wearing vintage, and I wish I’d had this book 10 years ago when I first got interested in wearing vintage clothing.

wear vintage now book open to the page my picture is on

In the next section she shares tips on how to measure, figure out what will suit you and make wise purchases avoiding pieces that are going to be more of a headache than a joy. With over 20 years of experience in collecting, repairing and selling vintage clothing, she has a wealth of knowledge about buying vintage online. I don’t buy very much clothing online, but armed with her tips, I actually might start doing so.

Since I’ve been following vintage blogs for years, I honestly wasn’t sure whether there would be much “new” information in this book for me, but I really liked her final chapters on “Taking Care of Your Vintage Finery”. She shares a lot of information on fibre content, laundering and stain removal, damage prevention and storage. I learned more than a few new cleaning tricks that I will definitely be using in the future.

And then in the final section she gives some information about vintage reproduction and alternatives to authentic vintage, in case you’re interested in a vintage look, but true vintage is not an option.

Margaret’s love and passion for vintage clothing shines through her entire book, but especially in her last part titled “Wear Vintage and Make the World Brighter” where she says “Vintage fashion is the creative, high quality, thoughtful and beautiful answer to fast fashion. Go forth and wear it well!”

I honestly couldn’t have said it better myself; those are my exact feelings about vintage clothing as well.

If you have any interest in wearing vintage clothing, then this is the book for you. I’m glad that I finally bought Wear Vintage Now because it will be a great reference to have on my bookshelf.

The book is available either through her Etsy shop, or via her website. (I purchased through her website, since the shipping on Etsy was cost prohibitive to Canada).