Tuesday, May 23, 2017

This is just an observation that I've made in the last few days, that I hope might be interesting and/or useful for you...

Belovedest and I live in a roomy, but not insanely large, 1 bedroom apartment. For 6 weeks or so, in March and April, we had a TON of additional furniture in our apartment. Our neighbor was having floors redone, and rather than have her pay to put things into storage, we agreed to host things like a SOFA, a BED, a large number of occasional chairs, and a very bulky and fragile glass cocktail table.

We were... crowded. But we were fine; it really wasn't nearly the inconvenience you might have expected.

After all of the furniture was returned to its home, we realized that we could now get into a closet and a few other places that had been blocked for over a month. And we started to cull the contents; we had first-hand proof that we were able to live very comfortably without a lot of the things that we owned.

But when we got to some of our clothes, we realized that we still wanted to keep them. We WANTED them...

I think this violates all of those rules about "if you haven't worn it in a year, get rid of it!"

So I thought about why we were keeping things, and if it made any sense to do so...

The clothing we're keeping is still in STYLE - not at all dated, nor likely to date because it's classic.

We still feel great ATTRACTION to these pieces - we would buy them again, if they suddenly were destroyed.

These pieces are worth holding onto for future wear - the VALUE of them is such that replacing them in the future would be expensive. We didn't keep tee shirts, or old jogging shorts - we kept things like silk jackets...

These pieces could be incorporated into our wardrobes with great EASE at any time in the future - they're the kinds of things that dress up neutrals...

So what am I keeping? Primarily, I was wrestling with a couple of beautiful silk jackets from Eileen Fisher (one has to be 15 years old...) that I don't wear all that often:

Coat - Eileen Fisher

jacket - Eileen Fisher

I don't really know what this all means, except that the rules aren't always right for everyone, and that you have to find your own way in the world. Maybe I'm just rationalizing (oh THAT'S possible...) or maybe I'm onto something, but either way, I think that there has to be flexibility when we're dealing with something as intensely personal as wardrobes and self-image...

What do you think?


When You Don't WANT to Get Rid of Clothes... or When The Closet Purge Goes Awry...
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Monday, May 22, 2017

Well okay, I've also read that we get moonstones, AND alexandrite, but I'm going to concentrate on pearls. They're my all-time favorites... (I've actually never owned a diamond engagement ring, because I'd really always rather have pearls...)

And I'm going to get this out of the way right up front - these pieces are not all genuine pearls, and none of these pieces is expensive. There are smarter bloggers than me who can tell you all about real pearls, and glorious pieces of jewelry that include them (yes, Passage des Perles, I'm looking at you!), so I thought I'd concentrate on more modestly priced treats... Joy should not be confined to those with abundant disposable income...

For lack of any better idea, I've just grouped all of these lovelies by general style qualities...

First up, for spring and especially summer, jewelry that echoes shapes in nature seem like such a nice choice. Here we've got all kinds of sea life, as well as the always lovely flowers...

organically styled pearl jewelry

"coral" necklace – Talbots; floral ring - Kadek Hendra; turtle earrings – Talbots; flower earrings - Nyoman Rena; turtle brooch – Talbots; seashells bracelet – Talbots; brooch – Wayan Asmana

Here's where my heart really seems to settle - on cleanly geometric pieces of jewelry... It's not something that I can explain, it's just the way I feel. I think that it's really important to learn these things about yourself and to remember them when you're confronted with a world full of beautiful options. It's easy to be lured astray by something absolutely lovely that doesn't suit you at all!

geometrically styled pearl jewelry

pearl stud bracelet – Bauble Bar; bar earrings – Daniela de Sainz; swirl ring - Diah Arini; bracelet – Bourbon & Boweties; hoop earrings – Chan Luu; V earrings - Daniela de Sainz; dangle earrings - Khun Boom

There are timeless designs that could be a favorite of anyone.. These could be a lovely small touch with almost any outfit except maybe hiking gear? (although I'm quite sure I've worn pearl earrings while hiking!)

classically styled pearl jewelry

2-strand bracelet – Talbots; 6-pearl necklace – Dalia Pascal (264872); 4-pearl necklace - Majorica; peacock brooch – Wayan Asmana; ring – Lafonn; earrings - Majorica; cable bracelet - Wayan Neri

For years, this was where my heart was drawn; I had all sorts of illusions that I was more feminine and delicate than I really am! But pearls (especially surrounded by marcasite!) are so pretty.... sigh...

romatically styled pearl jewelry

dangle earrings – Wirabhuwana; freshwater pearl bracelet – Patricia Jara; long pearl ring – Olga Hinojosa; stud earrings – Alon Diller; ring – Made Sudiari; heart pendant - Kadek Hendra; brooch - Nyoman Rena

And while we're at it, let's not forget that pearls can come in all sorts of colors! Many of these have been dyed, and so you have to be sort of careful that you don't get something that's going to fade or do something strange as time passes. But the peacock luster of a grey pearl can be very gorgeous against a teal sweater, or a purple dress...

grey pearl jewelry

necklace – Gloria Gamio; round earrings – Carmen Anocibar; drop earrings - Withaya Cheunjit; bobby pins – L.Erickson; bracelets – Duanpen Tajunin; ring – Majorica; knotted pearl necklace - Duanpen Tajunin

I love pearls, and could wear nothing but forever. It's easily possible to have a LOT more jewelry than one strictly needs... Is that so bad?


More from the Birthstone Series:

June's Birthstone: Pearls!
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Friday, May 19, 2017

Ireland? I used to live there! If you're going there, you're in for a treat... but be warned, much of the year it's a somewhat colder treat than you might be expecting...

Let's use a beautiful, simple painting to focus our color choices, and just to treat ourselves, eh?

Etude de Mademoiselle Pogany by Constantin Brancusi
Etude de Mademoiselle Pogany by Constantin Brancusi

This is NOT going to be a "Whatever's Clean" wardrobe - it would certainly be possible to do it with this color scheme, but I'm going to recklessly include both pink and red pieces here that will not play nicely together. You don't have to have every last little thing matching, so long as you've got the basic neutrals in place...

Etude de Mademoiselle Pogany by Constantin Brancusi with style guidelines and color palette

You might feel really foolish leaving a fairly warm place and getting onto an airplane while wearing or carrying a hooded rain jacket, and wearing hiking shoes. But the minute you're on the ground in Ireland, you'll realize that the rainwear is essential (with a hood), and that wearing your hiking shoes was a thousand times easier than trying to pack them!

travel outfit in black and red

earrings – Bhavesh; jacket – L.L.Bean; watch - Nixon; tee – L.L.Bean; ponte knit pants – Eileen Fisher; scarf - Kate Spade New York; suitcase – Crash Baggage; hiking shoes – Keen; convertible backpack – Sherpani

Long before you leave for Ireland, you will of course be reading a lot, but I also suggest that you listen to RTE radio to get used to their accent, and to catch up on the news and weather. There are a number of different stations to which you can listen - I generally listen to RTE Lyric FM, which is more or less classical music.

Please note that when you get weather and traffic, you get it for the entire country! So you need to learn where the 4 provinces are - most weather will reference the provinces. (they include Northern Ireland as a matter of course, although it is a separate country; if you're traveling to Northern Ireland bear in mind that they use different currency...)

In addition to knowing which province is which, you might want to get a map or be prepared to look up the various coastal landmarks; it's not uncommon to hear that "there are storms from Slyne Head to Malin Head" (aka the west coast up to Northern Ireland.) It's interesting, and you'll be just a little bit less disoriented when you arrive!

Also note that summer is not hot in Ireland - NOTHING is hot in Ireland. Right now, the days there are incredibly long (look at how far north they are!) but they are only seeing high temperatures in the 60's Fahrenheit. Couple that will an absence of central heating, and frequent rain, and you'll be chilly! If you're traveling in June, July or August, you'll see warmer days, but most of the time you can count on cool nights - definitely check the weather before you go, and plan for almost anything. Warm nightclothes will not be regretted...

If you're planning to hike the countryside, pack for that first. You'll definitely want wool socks, waterproof shoes, gloves, and something that can cover your ears or head - it's better to be prepared for that kind of cold than to be an hour from civilization and suddenly be whapped with a change of weather:

cluster of clothing for cold-weather hiking

red fleece – L.L Bean; gaiter – Buff; trail pants – L.L.Bean; gloves – Bula; wool socks - Smartwool; long-sleeved base layer – L.L.Bean; trail tee – L.L.Bean

Of course all of these clothes can be worn in town, in pubs, in most restaurants, in any sporting venue...

For the rest of your sightseeing, I'm dividing the balance of packing into 2 Clusters - one that uses a lot of pink, and one that makes use of denim blue... Packing shorts to wear in Ireland is definitely a gamble - they may never come out of your suitcase. But on the off chance that you get a warm day or two, you'll definitely want to have them! Frankly, when packing for Ireland, if you wear 90% of the clothes that you pack, you're just about perfect; the weather is that unpredictable.

cluster of clothing in black, denim and pink for sight-seeing

cardigan – L.L.Bean; plaid shirt – L.L.Bean; pink tee – L.L.Bean; pink rayon shirt – Uniqlo; shorts – Uniqlo; shoes – Keds; jeans – L.L.Bean

This is the vaguely dressier cluster - if you get theater tickets, for example, you might want to have a skirt with you (although nobody's going to throw you out if you're wearing your nice pants in which you flew over!). The denim shirt can be a real workhorse; it's a jacket over a tee shirt, it can be worn under either sweater, and of course it's a shirt if you wear it alone...

cluster of clothing in black, denim and white for sight-seeing

marled sweater – L.L.Bean; denim shirt – J.Crew; striped tunic – L.L.Bean; white shirt – Lands’ End; black skirt – Madewell; black jeans – J. Crew; ballet flats – Rockport

The hiking clothes make this wardrobe rather larger than we normally choose. With the constant threat of rain, it's wise to make certain to have dry clothes available. (and note that if you do laundry, the humidity means that drying clothes takes a while...)

Which reminds me - if you're staying in an apartment, be certain that you know how to run the heat, the hot water heater (which may not run 24 hours a day - many are on timers) and the washer/dryer (which is probably 1 machine for both functions). Electricity is very expensive in Ireland, and you'll be a better guest/renter if you can use it efficiently!

what to pack for a trip to Ireland
This is a really sort of bifurcated wardrobe - the red and the pink aren't really compatible. But they're two nice options with very different moods! We could also have chosen either the red or the pink as accent colors, if we really were working for maximum interchangeability, but I think we'll be fine this way...

a travel capsule wardrobe for Ireland

Even with the 2 very different accent colors, this wardrobe offers you lots of options for getting dressed every day:

four ways to dress for hiking from a travel capsule wardrobe

four ways to style a black ponte skirt from a travel capsule wardrobe

four ways to style black pants from a travel capsule wardrobe

four ways to style black jeans from a travel capsule wardrobe

four ways to style black shorts from a travel capsule wardrobe

Ireland is so wonderful... I plan to retire there, and that's where I fully intend to draw my last breath in this lifetime!


p.s. When you walk into a shop, restaurant or pub, someone might very likely say "You're welcome" to you. And your first instinct will be to say "Thank you..." It's all very disconcerting...

p.p.s. If someone asks you if you liked "the crack" in the pub, you are NOT being asked about drugs. "Craic" is the cameraderie, the fun, the conversation and good times...

What to Pack for Ireland? Start with Art: Etude de Mademoiselle Pogany by Brancusi
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

When we left our happy heroine yesterday, she was packing for a trip to visit friends on the Gulf Coast of Florida. She was using this scarf as her leitmotif - the inspiration around which she was building her travel capsule wardrobe:

Paris in the Spring silk scarf from Echo with style guidelines and color palette

This was what she knew that she would pack - plenty of things for the beach and boat, and enough dressy pieces that she would be fine if dinner turned out to be more formal than she expected:

travel capsule wardrobe in beige, white, aqua, blue and orange, for warm weather

Just for reference, let's remember that she'd planned this wardrobe pretty carefully!

travel capsule wardrobe in beige, white, aqua, blue and orange, for warm weather

But she knows that she wants to include more accessories - especially more shoes! So she's going to work through a handful of outfits, making certain to include each of her "bottoms" so that her shoe choices will be sufficient.

accessorizing a pair of beige shorts with a blue tee shirt

Even when her outfits are really simple, she wants to have some fun accessories to pull things together and give her overall look a sense of coherence and intentionality. It's hard to describe, but she knows it when she see it!

(yes, her earrings are from Disney...)

accessories for a pair of orange shorts and a floral tee

She found a wonderful scarf - and it's from Echo too! Sometimes, if you're really smitten with a particular color scheme, it makes sense to look at the same company for a variety of pieces. If you're smitten, maybe a designer from that company was obsessed with those colors!

accessories for an aqua tunic and beige pants

She's still not 100% on board with this top, but she's planning to have what she wants and needs to wear with it, just in case. This might be the time when this scarf really earns its keep!

And she really loves the way the rhythmic placement of the straps on her sandals echoes the pleats in her skirt... 

accessories for an aqua top and a beige skirt

By the time she gets to choosing accessories for her favorite floral dress, she realizes that everything's already covered! It's so nice (and so efficient) to travel with a wardrobe "theme."

accessories for a floral dress in beige, turquoise and orange
dress – M&S Collection

This is what her complete wardrobe looks like now - a few more pieces of jewelry, a couple of small bags, and some flat (easy to pack!) sandals. She's ready for just about anything her friends can offer!

a travel capsule wardrobe in beige and white with blue, aqua and orange accessories

Tomorrow I'm tackling a trip to Ireland...


What Accesories Do You Want for Warm Weather? Start with an Echo "Paris in the Spring" scarf
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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The scarf says Paris, but your luggage is all tagged TPA - you're going to Tampa to visit friends with a home on the Florida Gulf coast!

They've mentioned the beach, and the boat... (repeatedly...) There's a bit of sightseeing, some serious lounging to be done, and you might take in a baseball game. You'll be dining out at least a few times, too!

Well, you know that it's going to be hot and sunny. You know that it's a relatively casual part of the country, and you know that you don't want to carry a whole ton of stuff with you.... What to do?

Let's start with a color scheme, based on this most lovely scarf:

Paris in the Spring scarf with style guidelines and color palette
scarf - Echo

You know that no matter how warm the weather is, the airport will be freezing cold, and the plane is seldom warm. So you've got real pants, real shoes, and a cardigan, to be warm enough for the overwhelming air-conditioning. Your scarf is a nice bright touch... (and your watch has a wee flower on it - you love flowers...)

travel outfit in beige, white and orange

earrings – Vera Bradley; cardigan – M&S Collection; watch - Gomelsky by Shinola; polo shirt – L.L.Bean; pants – L.L.Bean; scarf - Echo; suitcase – Crash Baggage; loafers – Naturalizer; tote - Mondani

The first thing you're going to really address is swimwear. The time is long past for you to miss the fun at the beach or on the boat because you're self-conscious about wear a swimsuit! You make sure that you have cover-ups, and a nice pair of sandals that are waterproof. Everybody gets to swim, no matter how they look - any other approach to life is absurdly unfair and just plain silly.

A swimwear wardrobe cluster in aqua and white

cover-up – Lands End; blouson swimsuit – Lands’ End; tankini top– Lands’ End; Swim skirt – Lands’ End; terry dress – Lands End; jelly flip flops – Jack Rogers

(Yes, all of this swimwear is from 1 place. I'm a big fan of Lands' End swim suits (many of which are available up to size 18), and I particularly love them for carrying LONG SLEEVED swim tops for those of us who need to be well-covered when we're in the water. Highly recommended... And yes, there is a longer version of that swim skirt here)

Once you've got swimming covered, everything else feels really easy!

So next you think about a wee cluster of clothes for leisure activities. Shorts are the most appropriate thing in Florida, but you could easily substitute skirts or capris for the shorts if that feels more comfortable for you. And although it seems like a sweatshirt is the LAST thing you'd need on this trip, always remember that air-conditioning can be so strong as to be uncomfortable. Nothing's worth than shivering through a meal or a movie... You toss a pretty wrap into your bag too, just in case...

Your tops are chosen to offer options - a solid tank will of course go with everything, and is easily layered if the weather changes. A tunic is a fresh change of pace, and a floral top that includes your key accents of blue and orange echoes both your theme and your palette. Shorts in 2 different lengths give you the feeling of variety in your travel wardrobe, too.

a warm weather leisure wardrobe cluster in tan, white, aqua and orange

sleeveless top - Uniqlo; scarf – Echo; aqua tunic – Lands’ End; sweatshirt – J. Crew Factory; floral top – Dorothy Perkins; tan shorts – Marks & Spencer; orange shorts – J.Crew; sandals – UGG

To finish, you want to include a few pieces that could be interpreted as dressy, if in fact you end up going to rather nice restaurants. This skirt can be worn with everything from the tank top to the sweatshirt, and gives them a more feminine feeling without being too frou-frou. And a floral dress with your favorites colors is impossible to resist.

The off-the-shoulder top? You're frankly not sure about it, but you figure it's not a big splurge. Maybe when you're in a new environment, it will feel just right!

a dressy warm-weather wardrobe cluster in tan, aqua and blue

blue linen tee – Majestic; off-the-shoulder top – Dorothy Perkins; chiffon skirt – Uniqlo; dress – M&S Collection

This is what you'll need to pack - this might require luggage to be checked, depending on how much you take with you for personal care products:

what to pack for a warm-weather trip to the Florida Gulf coast, in beige, aqua, blue and orange

By working your way systematically through the activities that you're anticipating on your trip, you've assembled a very coherent and madly versatile travel capsule wardrobe:

a warm weather travel capsule wardrobe in aqua, beige, white, blue and orange

Of course nobody is surprised to see that this wardrobe fits neatly into the "Whatever's Clean" template. It would be possible to put together some outfits that would be a little bit... weird (like the cardigan over the off-the-shoulder top?) but in general terms, it would be difficult to go wrong with these pieces:

a 13-piece Whatever's Clean wardrobe in beige, white, aqua, blue and orange

But just to be sure, you mentally arrange a couple of dozen outfits. Even if you completely "chicken out" from wearing the off-the-shoulder top, you're going to have plenty of choices when you get dressed each day. (and don't forget those swim cover-ups; they look an awful lot like dresses or tunics...)

six ways to style tan shorts with orange, aqua or blue

six ways to style orange shorts from a travel capsule wardrobe

six ways to style tan pants in a summer travel capsule wardrobe

six ways to look a bit dressy in a summer travel capsule wardrobe

Tomorrow I'm going to choose some accessories for this wardrobe, and then later in the week I'm going to think about what to pack for Ireland! (not for me... not this time...)

What to Pack for the Florida Gulf Coast? Start with a Scarf: Paris in the Spring by Echo
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