Falling for fall

I love fall. Every year I say it’s my favorite season as soon as the leaves start to change colors. And then in spring I say, no wait! spring is my favorite season. And so on to summer. Pretty much the only season that never gets a shout of joy is winter.

Snow is pretty but I don’t want to live in it (and we don’t often have to in Seattle, though I heard last year up here in the mountains where we live it was horrible…so that’ll be fun!)

Fall means sweaters and scarves and warm coats, and around here rain, but I won’t let a daily session with my windshield wipers distract me from the loveliest of fashions: the fall sweater. Here is a round up of some of my favorites:

This looks like something to live in all fall.

The color of this one gives me the warm fuzzies.

I love the entire outfit below, though I tried the wide leg crop, and just ended up looking ridiculous. Still, on the right person, it’s cute.

While I don’t have any cashmere, it’s hard to beat the sweater below. It is responsibly made, 100% cashmere for $100.

If we were head into the never-paying-it territory (there are some lines I will not cross no matter how much I like an item), then this sweater would be on the top of the heap.

To go with these sweaters, I would recommend the new Everlane high waist denim collection. I’d never tried high waisted jeans (I was firmly in the camp of NO) until they did a pop-up shop at my local Nordstrom and I kinda fell into semi-love with them. I won’t be forsaking my old comfy lovely jeans by any means, but high waisted jeans will be making the rotation.

Do you have anything lurking in your daydreams for fall?

I want to love you, but I don’t

For me, shopping ethically is important. Over the last year I have made a conscious effort to think about what I am buying and decide if that companies principles are the same as my own. It has prevented me from buying from places that I know are not supplying ethical/fairly made clothes and items.

I feel good about that.

But here’s the catch.

None of the items I’ve purchased have been home runs. Some have been returned because of defective quality, or unflattering style (and most companies charging you $10 or more for the privilege of returning an item). Others I have kept with the nagging in the back of my mind, that I’m keeping it because I want to support what I think is right, even if the item for me, is wrong.

It’s very frustrating. I’m not sure if it’s because I am petite at 5’5 {generally wearing size xs/0}, or that I simply have to order online as most ethical clothing lines are only online {at least in my price bracket, I am not willing to buy the $145 Elizabeth Suzann t-shirt sold in a store}

So what happens? I order from places where I know the sizing fits, and I know the quality will be good, and that their values are at least not in the same category of H&M. I don’t feel great about it. I don’t like it.

I really hope companies who produce ethically made clothing will start to moderate their pricing. I want fair wages and safe conditions for workers, but if you mark a t-shirt up to $88, you’re only reach the rich and not the middle class who would love to follow your example, but who cannot afford it. {Forbid you end up with a stain on a $145 t-shirt! A $45 t-shirt is bad enough} Marking up the cost because ethically made is trendy, popular, etc isn’t what the slow-fashion movement is supposed to be about.

If you want people to get on board, and do the right thing, you have to make it more accessible. $40 is reasonable, $50 even. Even at that price I would hesitate (and that is half the point, you should think about the purchase and decide – do you really need it? I get frustrated with others who shop Primark/H&M and literally say they can throw it away when they are finished with it because it’s cheap.)

There is more awareness than there used to be. Companies are starting to realize sustainable fashion IS what consumers want. If we could find a happy medium price-wise, the planet (and the people living on it) might just be in a happier place.

Vacation Challenge: Spring 10×10

When Lee at StyleBee announced that she will be hosting another 10×10 fashion challenge with Caroline at Un-Fancy, I did a cheer. Especially since they will be starting on Monday April 10th. I’ll be starting on Saturday the 8th because that’s the day we leave for a ten day holiday in the US. Now, because I do not seem to like anything simple {ever}, this could have been a particularly hard 10×10 to plan for. We are flying to the east coast (NJ), then the Husband and I fly off to the west coast {Seattle} for a few days {to take care of house reno/car buying stuff for July}, flying back to NJ for the Easter holiday and visiting, then the kids and I fly back to London {while the Husband flies back to Seattle to work for a few weeks}.

That’s a lot of flying, and a whole lot of temperatures/holidays/outift-needing-to-pull-double-duty going on.

I thought this would be really difficult to plan out, like last time when I did the winter 10×10. But in only 20 minutes {maybe less}, I had planned out each piece {plus a spare outfit because holidays + me: I tend to need an extra outfit, and I almost always somehow forget to pack socks}.

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AllSaints/Braintree (ethically made)/Mint Velvet/GAP/Hackwith House (ethically made)/Madewell/Mint Velvet/Levi’s

The best part is that I love everything I picked out. Maybe I am starting to figure out my style?? I don’t know, but I did stick to a color palette that is neutral – black, grey, white, and one red top. I was able to see each piece layering and combining and coordinating. The one thing I tried not to do {which I think is where I always go wrong} is plan out each daily outfit in advance. Yes, I semi-thought about how each piece would combine but I didn’t solidly write any combination down and plan it out. Because I picked such a basic/neutral palette I think it’ll all work without needing to be planned out.

That’s a refreshing change from my usual structured, I must know exactly what I’m wearing attitude. I am a planner. I’m about to turn 40 so I don’t see that changing in my lifetime. Not knowing what’s happening this week, and next week, and two months from now really freaks me out {just ask the Husband}. This will be what I pack unless the weather throws me a curveball in the next few days before I put it all in my suitcase.

Challenge Goals

For this challenge, I want to see how I feel wearing a more muted, neutral color palette. I am really happy with what I’ve put together by seeing it, now to see if I feel as good wearing it. This challenge will help me to see if I am moving in the right direction with my closet overall by choosing a more streamlined look. Clean lines and geometric shapes make me very happy in other areas of my life, so hopefully that also holds true for my closet.

10×10 Selection Criteria

When I selected my items, I knew I had to be able to get the most possible wear out of them. I will be on holiday, so if I didn’t bring it with me…I won’t be swapping anything out. It will force me to come up with solving any problems that might arise. The time difference {ranging from 5 hours to 8 hours}, general jet lag, busyness of the trip, and general keeping my eye on temperature fluctuations are going to be demanding. The items for the trip had to follow these ideas:

  • Must be comfortable. I will be on a plane four times, the shortest trip will be 5 hours long.
  • I also needed to be able to layer. Temperatures between NJ and Seattle in spring can widely vary, and one should always plan for rain when going anywhere near Seattle. {waterproof coat, check}
  • Comfortable shoes. I wish I could just make one pair work, but the issues with my foot simply make packing a pair of trainers a necessity. I’m going to limit myself to two pairs of shoes.
  • The items needed to cover a variety of situations. From Easter dinner to walking around a slab yard picking out countertops. While I am favoring multiple white items this time around, I’ll keep those for the less dirty days on the agenda.

End goal

I am hoping to get closer to realize what my style is. I’ve been reading The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees {which is brilliant}. There has been a lot of note taking, and nodding along, and one {semi-successful} dressing room trip. I really want to be so happy with my closet that I can stop online impulse buying, which is definitely an issue for me. I *think* once we return to the US and I know where to shop and can just get in my car and go, this will taper off {as I didn’t have such an issue before we moved to London. I will also have the dedicated space to once again pursue the things that used to take up my time, like painting and refinishing furniture.}

The biggest challenge is that we are sort of between seasons. Some days it is cold enough to wear a sweater in the morning, and again at night, but not quite warm enough to pull out anything on the light side. I’m worried we will roll over into summer and I will have my closet crisis all over again. There are a lot of things I like about my summer wardrobe {which is mostly packed away} but I do know it has a lot of color. I need to stop thinking about trying to change everything all at once, changing it, and then not being happy with that either.

Is anyone else going to be a part of the 10×10 Spring Challenge? It was such fun in winter and this little community sprang up on Instagram. I came across some really great people I otherwise wouldn’t have know simply by using and searching the designated hashtags. {See Lee’s post for more information, and all the details of the challenge!}

See you there!

Inspiration: Effortless Dressing

When people write about fashion, often times they say a person should have a style icon (i.e. celebrity) with a style they admire. (or flat out wish to rip off if they had the means). I pin a lot of looks, and a lot of them are not exactly fit to my lifestyle (vacuuming in this gown maybe??)

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Maybe she does, who knows? The more down to earth (and reasonable) side of me knows that I should stick with simple clothes, interchangeable, and items that can work in multiple ways.

source: Pinterest 

These women – Victoria Beckham, Clemence Poesy, Jennifer Aniston – all have simple, clean styles, and for the most part, practical styles that could work for me as well.

I am also a huge fan of Sophia Coppola. She’s beautiful without trying to be. Her style is also very French chic, and seems like it is effortless (I have a Effortless- Sophie Coppola Pinterest board that I continually drool over).

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There’s nothing particularly complicated about her look, she knows what looks good on her, and the fit is especially key to her look. The pieces are high quality (and I do think that does make a difference.)

Recently, I looked through my own closet (as I’m off to discover Blitz vintage to uncover some treasures.) I saw a lot of things…but not a lot that can do multiple duty. I have lots of color – pinks, blues, reds – and way too many stripes (my weakness). It’s time to change things up, or at least add some more neutral items.

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pardon the chaos, but that is literally what I have to work with for a closet. I have one small space upstairs about half the size with a top hang bar and a lower hang bar, neither of which allow a shirt to hang without touching the bottom, I am used to hanging everything in my huge suburban American walk-in closet, so this has been challenging to say the least

Upstairs in the ‘dressing room/useless space/office’, I have several bags of items waiting to go to the consignment store back home (where I’ve had good luck getting at least some money for items I no longer wear.) I do believe if I bring something in, something needs to go out unless the new item fills a specific need. At least in theory. In practice, I’m still working on it.

Yesterday after watching this video on HuffPostStyle, I made my list for Blitz (and I fought the urge to jump on the tube right then and there, which is progress.)

NO STRIPES

  • denim skirt
  • cropped sweater in rust/spice
  • swingy sweater in rust/spice/earth tone
  • long line cardigan in grey/black/neutral
  • loafers/brogue shoes
  • brown tote/crossbodybag

The loafers have been an item I’ve been looking for since forever. I love these ones from Everlane, but I have most definitely learned my lesson after the import duties/customs charges incident a few weeks ago. More than learned that lesson, thanks. Once summer comes along and we are back in Seattle, then maybe my Everlane loafers will be in the cards.

I do have a denim skirt I thrifted from thredUP, but while I love the quality, and the responsible values of AG, it simply does not fit me right. It’s big in the waist and I am not comfortable with the height of the back slit. I should have returned it (one of the greatest things about thredUP), but I didn’t. It sits, being unworn. A denim skirt is a valuable item in a closet because it can dressed up, maybe with this top:

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Or kept casual with a sweatshirt and scarf, or cropped sweater and under layer like this:

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Boots, trainers, sandals, even heels and clogs; the denim skirt is every bit as versatile as the the perfect pair of jeans. The other items on my list like the long cardigan and perfect brown tote (which does not exist!) are also items I’ve been searching for. The big difference between past searches and now, is I’ve actually written it down on my phone and I am determined to ONLY purchase something if it’s on my list. (something every capsule closet blog tells you to do, make a list and stick to it).

If I manage to find anything on my list that fits within that effortless style I am looking for, I will be very happy. If I don’t find anything, that’s okay too because the hunt is half the fun right?

Do you have a style icon, or a style you are looking to emulate?

I just wanted to add, as there have been some blogs/articles on affiliate links of late. None of my links are affiliated in anyway {you may find links in posts from 3+ years that were ads/reviews I was compensated for – usually with a product. each of those posts are very clearly marked as such}. If I link a product or website, I simply like the product or want to point you to what I’m mentioning. If I ever do have an affiliate link, I will mention it very clearly. Because if I made money from blogging that’d be cool! 

If the sun shines

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If the sun shines in London, make sure you are enjoying it, like Mr. Peacock here. There’s one definite way to enjoy a sunny, warm, winter day in London; go to Kew Gardens. Kew Gardens is one of my favorite places (and I will miss it dearly when we move home). I have more than gotten my money back from my membership. And then some.

Originally I wanted to take pictures in front of the Chinese Pagoda. The walls are red and I thought my green peacoat would look great in front it. Unfortunately, (or fortunately since it needs it), the pagoda is under restoration which I knew was coming but they’ve already started. With the area blocked off by fences, I had to come up with another plan. Thankfully, Kew Gardens is huge, so there are plenty of other places to take pictures.

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Along the far back side of the gardens is Queen Charlotte’s Cottage. While it isn’t open to the public during the week {I believe it is also closed in winter}, it does make a great backdrop for photos.

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Taken on a previous visit

It is insanely peaceful in this part of the garden and not that many people wander that far, though I did have a few people wander past today. I think the day was just too nice to pass up a stroll through the woods.

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Wellies were the footwear of choice today for wandering off the path and amongst the muddy grass. If you don’t leave the path, you’ll miss out on beautiful things.

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It might only be February, and the begin of it at that, but it certainly feels like spring might be on the horizon. The rhododendrons were already in bloom.

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If it should rain tomorrow, at least I can look back on today when the sun was shining and warm, and remember, tomorrow’s another day.

Maybe it’ll be sunny.

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Days 7-10, and Final Thoughts for the Future

The #Winter10x10 (day 1; days 2-3, days 4-6) has ended, and I definitely learned a few things along the way. Unfortunately I also came down with a terrible cold so days 7-10 did not go as planned. But let’s review them anyway (I only have phone snaps):

Day 7:

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I spent the morning out at the V&A, and The Design Museum. Something I learned early on in London is that no matter where you go, even a museum, they will have the heat cranked to 95 whenever possible. Going to Westfield Mall is like going to a sauna. It’s no wonder that I hate in-person shopping nowWhen going out in winter, it is a conundrum. You need to be warm for all the time you spend outside walking from tube to bus to destination. But on the tube/bus, and at your destination, it’s hot. Sometimes unbearably so (hello Piccadilly line!) Layers can be your best friend. Be sure to add a large handbag to hold said layers as you recklessly tear off scarf, coat, gloves, sweater and hat.

Here I’m wearing the jeans and stripe shirt from my 10 items. I also threw on a wool cape I bought last year at the Windsor Horse Show. I added my black trainers for walking comfort. (And I did a LOT of walking since the V&A is at South Kensington Station tunnel, and the Design Museum is Kensington High Street station and a 1/2 mile walk.) I was warm but not too warm and very comfortable. Overall, I liked this look. It could easily work with the white button-down shirt underneath, or black pants and flats. I added a necklace from White Stuff and my Pandora bracelet.

Day 8:

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For day 8, I went with my People Tree dress. It’s so comfortable and warm, even with tights in winter weather when you spend significant time outside waiting for the school bus.

The dress is navy blue, with a fun purple-pink lining so you could cuff the sleeves in spring to give it a little more color. I added my brown boots from my 10 items, and a scarf. I like this dress a lot and I think it’ll get lots of use pretty much all year round except in the dead heat of summer (which is for about 2-3 weeks).

Day 9:

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This is how I spent day 9, just me, my dachshund, and Netflix. Peppermint tea, a cozy blanket and a nap also played a part in my day. I had on skinny jeans, my warm-as-heck Finisterre wool jumper, and my trusty Mahabias slippers. I can’t wear this jumper very often. Because it is Just.That.Warm. But it is made by such a fantastic company, you should really check out their stuff and their ethics. (read about their wool initiative, and the plastics project – thumbs up!) Their main thing is providing cold-water surf gear, but there’s plenty for those of us who aren’t crazy.

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Day 10:

It should have been a triumphant day 10, but I felt really, really awful, so I spent it like this:

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Tea, tea, and more tea. A good book, and some comfy pj’s. Some times you just have to accept defeat.

Takeaways:

#1 White I did learn some important things during my #Winter10x10. I need to stop being afraid to wear white. Yes, sometimes things happen, but it’s okay to wear white and I actually like doing so. I’m so confident I’ve put this top/tunic into my wardrobe for summer, this blouse, and this dress

Lesson: White doesn’t scare me anymore! You can take a white shirt and make so many combinations, and just by adding a scarf, a cape, a necklace, it can totally change how the same shirt looks. Which brings me to…

#2 Accessories I never used to pay a lot of attention to jewelry/scarves/etc. I would throw on a outfit – jeans, shirt, and go. But by taking 5 extra minutes to look at tying on a scarf, or adding a belt, or a few necklaces, I can take a look from okay to great & polished. This is something I want to continue to work on. I don’t have a lot of jewelry, and what I do have is fairly old (5-10 years). The look is less polished/simple and more fussy than I like so I think that’s what has kept me from wearing all but my favorite pieces. It’s an area I want to improve, and to find a few really good necklaces that can work with multiple outfits.

#3 It’s a Process, and Ethical Matters For the past year and a half, I have been trying to cultivate my wardrobe by doing a capsule, doing 10×10 challenges, and clearing out the items I do not wear. I’ve still made bad choices by purchasing things I haven’t ended up wearing. Those items are waiting for the consignment shop at home. One thing I’ve really tried to remember (and I’ve done pretty good with) is to buy from ethical, responsible, and sustainable companies. It’s not an easy thing to do when we as consumers are bombarded by fast fashion and the I-Have-To-Have-That-Look of social media. I’m plenty guilty.

What I hope is that I am making better choices now. I’ve made purchases from Hackwith House Design, Finisterre, People Tree, Everlane, Need Supply and Mean It Ethical Fashion over the last year and a half (among others like Nudie Jeans). I’m aware now that the Zara, GAP, JCrew & H&M worlds do not support what I believe in. They aren’t paying a living wage,  checking to make sure children aren’t working in the factories, and making sure the people who are making our clothes are doing so in a safe environment. These things matter to me, and hopefully they matter to you.

I’m going to continue to do fashion challenges, 7×7, 10×10, 30×30, 1 dress/30 days. All of these have taught me about figuring out what my style is and how to get creative with the things I already own. As I need to, it’s okay to add pieces to my wardrobe, with the idea that it needs to be a responsibly made item, it needs to serve a purpose, and whenever possible, it needs to replace something that wasn’t working for me. And that old item can be donated or sent to consignment to be worn by someone else. I’m excited to get to the day where I stand before my closet and I can’t decide what to wear because I love every single thing in it.

By doing these small challenges, they are preparing me for a really big one coming my way this summer: 1 suitcase, 6-8 weeks. Because that’s about all I’ll have while all of our possessions move by slow boat from London to Seattle. It will be my ultimate challenge, and I want to do it on a minimal piece count (under 25 if I can).

Have you thought about doing a 10×10 or capsule wardrobe? What would yours look like?

Thanks to Lee at StyleBee and Caroline at Un-Fancy for making this such a fun event!

 

Winter 10×10 Day 1

Yesterday was day 1 of the Winter10x10 Challenge – details here – so I thought I would share my initial thoughts and my first outfit. I might not do this everyday, I’ll likely combine several days outfits/thoughts into one post. But since I am still in my workout clothes (who else kicked some butt this morning??) and haven’t yet gotten into outfit two, you just get outfit one today!

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I wore vegan leather leggings in a stone color from Abercrombie & Fitch, a blue and white gingham button down from J Crew, and a long cardigan (with pockets!!) from White Stuff. On my feet, the Beverly Boot from Bass Outlet.

On Monday night I set these three pieces side by side on my clothes rack and liked what I saw. Warmth is very important in London winters and a drafty Edwardian terraced house. Trust me. The leggings are very warm being lined with a sweatshirt type of fleece on the inside. I do always forget that they are a stone color and not cream or grey, so they don’t totally work perfectly here. They are comfortable except when you sit down. The knees don’t bend all that well and are tight. I’ve never worn leather leggings (or vegan leather in this case), so I don’t know if that’s normal but it was uncomfortable. As soon as I picked up my kids from school at 4, I slid into some lounge pants. These were an online clearance buy last year, and do like them, I’m just not sure it’s love. Which probably explains why I don’t wear them that often.

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The gingham shirt. Love. I am a blue aholic these days. blue blue blue. I can’t get enough. I even have this same shirt in a turquoise color which I couldn’t resist because it was on mega clearance for £30. I do feel guilt about buying from J Crew because they are not a particularly ethical/responsible company, but I fall back on knowing that I will more than wear these shirts to death. They are a lightweight material so I can layer them for winter and roll the sleeves up for summer. Win win. The only thing I don’t like (and forgive me if you can see it in the picture) is they need to be ironed. Poo to ironing. For someone who doesn’t have a proper dryer and has to hang dry every.single.thing, ironing is my nemesis. {and now that Downton Abbey is over, and I’ve already watched all of Medici twice, what am I supposed to watch while I iron on Monday mornings??} I did forget to iron this shirt, but since I had a coat on when I was out and was home the rest of the day, I let it go!

The cardigan sweater I bought at White Stuff back in November the day before I went on a trip to Seattle. I really wanted to wear leggings on the plane {it’s ten hours from London to Seattle, comfort is paramount} but I am a very big believer in NOT showing my bum. I simply can’t do it, though I absolutely love the leggings from White Stuff. It’s very comfy, warm, and, though I keep forgetting when I’m wearing it, it has pockets.

Let me just say the secret to life is Pockets. On dresses, skirts, sweaters. A good pocket = a good day.

The boots I do love, though my socks tend to fall all the way down whenever I wear them. I don’t think they quite worked here though. Shoes were the hardest for me to put into the 10×10, and maybe I should have traded out a piece to have the ability to go with whatever shoes I wanted (after all there are no real rules). I have lots of shoes (as the Husband will be sure to let you know), but I tend to wear the same three or four pairs. I should have probably thrown in these blue tennis shoes, but I’d put them away as more ‘spring/summer’, though they would probably be warmer than my Nike’s and would have worked with this outfit. Sticking to two shoes is hard for me, even more so than two pants. I could have probably done fine with one pair of jeans for the whole ten days. Something about saying, you can only wear these two shoes and they must go with everything, is very hard for me.

Overall, I felt pretty comfortable in the outfit. I didn’t do much yesterday, I spent a lot of time on my computer, went to the grocery on the way to the school bus stop. played with the dog. I think this outfit would be fine for any day though, a trip to a gallery, or a day running errands in the city.

Day 1 of the #winter10x10 : Success!

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*and I finally signed up for a Dummies Guide to your DSLR class. The woman running the class chooses to call it Manual – n- More, but we all know its Dummies DSLR101. I can get to grips with that.