Monday, May 30, 2016

The seasonal wardrobe - Summer

My new tortoise-shell reading glasses

Continuing with my wardrobe posts, today's post is about the summer wardrobe.  During the hot and humid days of high summer the simple dress is my best friend.  The collection below is what I had on high rotation this past southern hemisphere summer.

The first three are cotton knit from Banana Republic in Hawaii two years ago, and the next two are pure linen by a New Zealand company Wallace Cotton and I have been wearing them with a low-slung belt (hanging from each hanger) to have them be a bit more flattering than floating free.  I used to iron them damp after each wash (much easier with linen than ironing dry) but recently I decided to wear un-ironed because I've seen a bit of the wrinkled linen look lately and I like it for a change. I am a little relaxed about ironing, but I truly would not wear something unironed if it looked terrible.

And the last dress is an Australian brand - Sportsgirl - which I bought probably in the late 90s and it still looks in as good a shape as it did then.  It predates 'Made in China'.  An Australian dress brand actually made in Australia.  Revolutionary!  That's probably why it has lasted so well.  It is some kind of synthetic but the writing has long gone off the care label so I don't know what type.  You can click on each photo if you want to see them bigger.

As you can see from the varying ages of my dresses, if you find one or two flattering ones that you love each year, you can add to your collection. Because they are such a seasonal item I might only wear them for three months so they last longer than something that I might wear more often.

You will see one of my strategies in the dress photo too – when I find a shape I like, I buy all the colours available (as long as I like them and they're good for my colouring of course).  I did the exact same thing just last week with my new winter wardrobe.  The black merino cowl neck top I bought a few weeks ago was so cosy and flattering that I went back and bought the other two colours they had it in – teal, and berry (the top I am wearing in my reading glasses photo).

And below are the shoes I wear with these dresses.  Please don't think my Birkenstocks and tan sandals are dirty - that's just what happens when your feet rub against the leather.  I don’t know if Birkenstocks will last another fashion season, time will tell, but I will still wear them at home because they are so comfortable and supportive for your feet, knees, hips, spine etc.

I usually wear the flat sandals with my three knit dresses (on the left in the photo), and the wedges/heels with the three dresses on the right – they are more flattering to my legs with those dresses.

So that's what has worked well for me in the hot weather.  Summer used to be my biggest problem regarding what to wear.  I was too hot in jeans, but skirts felt frumpy on me and still do.  I do have a couple of jean-style skirts that are too short for work that I wear at home because I feel too masculine in shorts, but they're different.  I'm glad I have collected together dresses that work for my current job and that I think are age-appropriate.

With dresses the cut and fit has to be right, but after you've found that, they are a dream to wear - one piece and you're ready! Plus accessories of course, but there's no matching top and bottoms.

What's your summer go-to?  What are your summer wardrobe plans?

Monday, May 23, 2016

The seasonal wardrobe - Autumn/Spring

Dark wash jeans, grey marle cosy knit top, black ballet flats

I've written before about the 'fashion uniform' and was even interviewed by USA Today on it.  Today I thought I'd show you my transeasonal uniform (you can click on the photos to see them bigger).  I work in a semi-casual environment (retail) and my favourite clothing colours are navy/denim/blue-grey, black, grey marle for clothing and black, plum and nude shoes.  Currently I use my tan Michael Kors bag and wallet every day (and have done since I bought them 2.5 years ago).

Bright blue wash jeans, black merino cowl neck top, black sneakers, gold cuff

Even though scarves are tres Francais and I always think they look chic on others, I've not been wearing them much.  I like the simplicity of an outfit without them, instead using a few pieces of jewellery to accessorise.  This may sound weird, but if I wear jewellery and a scarf and my hair goes curly that day if feels like too much.  Simplicity calms me so I keep it simple in the way I dress.

Blue-grey knit top (slightly see-through) with navy camisole, dark blue-black wash jeans, nude patent ballet flats

I have four pairs of jeans that I rotate currently - three are Diesel and one is Maison Scotch (the pair just above), and a few more tops than the ones shown.  In these photos two tops were gifts and the other two - hearts and cowl neck - I bought recently from Farmers (a mid-price department store a bit like Macys from what I saw in Hawaii).  I don't shop a lot so I had hardly any autumn/winter tops.  These two have topped up my autumn range nicely and I will wear the merino one into winter.

Black and cream cotton heart knit top, distressed mid-blue jeans, plum patent ballet flats

Quite a few years ago I started a 'Fiona's Personal Style' Word document and noted down good and not-so-good clothing styles for my figure, along with favourite colours to wear.  I didn't even need to refer back to it that often to remember that slant pockets and defined waist dresses are to be skipped when I'm browsing in clothing shops (round bottom and high waist respectively).

After looking at a few figure analysis books I came to the conclusion that I am a soft hourglass (not really exaggerated, but a defined waist and equal-width shoulders and hips) with a high waist (short body, long legs).  I have to be really careful with my waistline - if I tuck something in or wear a belt on my natural waist it can look like my belt is up under my arms...

I'd definitely recommend doing these things for yourself, they are really useful exercises.  Here's my personal style notes:

Fiona’s Style Rules

Mantra: ‘sexy and sophisticated’
Elegant, feminine, clean lines.

Classic trouser/jean styling.  No side slant pockets, no side zips, mid waist (not low cut or high cut).

Vertical darts, one piece.  No horizontal line at the waist.  To finish just on the knee or below, but above the curve of the calf.

A-line, just on the knee for summer.

Fitting, medium length, not too long, not too short.  Scooped neckline or deep, soft v-neck.  Too high is unflattering and a sharp V is too severe.  Sleeves either bracelet length, fitted elbow length or short/capped-ish.  Not full length unless they can be pushed up and will stay up, not mid-upper arm and too fitted as it makes arms look chunky.

Fitting, medium length, not too long, not too short.  Big enough across the shoulders, darted.  Long enough to tuck in if very fitted.  Enough room across the bust so buttons don’t pull.  Sew a dome on if they do.

Soft and muted, mid tones

Denim/dark navy
Light grey or blue/grey
Pinks – light pink, peony/coral pink
Light mint green
Buttermilk soft cream/yellow

Possible Colour Combos

Cream or off-white/black
Black or charcoal/blush pink
Dark denim/cobalt/black
Light grey marle/denim/tan

When I was young I remember my mum had a little notebook that she kept notes of her wardrobe - 'Have, Need and Want'.  Unfortunately, because I was a horrible child, I found it and made fun of her.  Awful!  It's probably just as well I don't have children to read my blog and make fun of me...  But with mum's notebook maybe I inherited the list gene?  I must say, it's a pretty good one to get, I love it!
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