Not in a Rut, Exactly

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There’s been so much talk these days about the five (or the ten) essential items every woman needs in their closet. I even wrote a post about that a few weeks ago. And so much written about “editing” one’s wardrobe, and about “capsule wardrobes.” Like the need for a great blue shirt. Ines de la Fressange says that a woman only needs “a few really good pieces,” and that a blue shirt is one of them.

Inspired by this ad for AP jeans, I bought a blue shirt at the Nordstrom sale in July.

"Not in a Rut Exactly"... fall inspiration
And I wrote a post about my new blue shirt in August. But that was back when I could wear it like this. With my Paige skinny jeans, and my comfy Stan Smith Adidas. And wear it I did. Just like this. Over and over. It became my late summer run-around “uniform.”
Paige skinny, jeans, Equipment shirt, Michale Kors bag, Stan Smith Adidas
But summer turned to fall. And the weather became too chilly for a shirt and sneakers, not to mention bare ankles. And besides, I was growing weary of my “uniform.” You see, that’s the trouble with “capsule wardrobes.” The problem with the “five pieces every woman needs” … is that there are only five pieces. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a great believer in editing, whether it’s writing or wardrobes. But a girl has to have some variety.
Thanks goodness for the change of seasons. I set aside my blue shirt for a few weeks. And now I’m ready to haul it out again, and see how it fits with my fall and winter pieces.
So I tried it on the other day with the same Paige skinny jeans and my new Paul Green boots. I swapped the white cami for a navy one, and tied this blue, animal print scarf like a neckerchief. I’ve had this scarf for ages. I thought the mix of dark and light blue really pulled the shirt and the jeans together. Neckerchiefs are big this year, apparently. I saw them in numerous fashion lay-outs in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar this fall. I like this look. But if the temperature dips, my bare neck will be…well, bare… and cold. So I tried tying the scarf like an ascot. I hope it doesn’t make me look too much like David Niven.
Equipment shirt, Paige skinny jeans, Paul Green boots
Equipment shirt, Paige skinny jeans, Paul Green boots
And I’m really liking blue and brown this season. Actually, I’m liking brown period, as it happens. I thought that my brown Max Mara coat would be great over the blue shirt. The soft blue shirt with the chocolate brown coat… more milk chocolate than dark… looks yummy, I think. Gad… it seems that I’ve had this coat for years. And years. Max Mara coats are wonderful… they’re really built to last. In this shot, I’ve exchanged my lovely, new, burgundy Marc Jacobs bag for my old, brown Coach bag. Can’t expect Marc to do all the heavy lifting this season. And if you could see all the junk I carry around in my purse, you’d know I mean that quite literally. Yep. This could be a great run-around “uniform.”
  Max Mara coat, Equipment shirt, Paige skinny jeans, Paul Green boots, Coach bag
And in keeping with my current obsession with brown. I can pair my blue shirt with my brown, boot-cut Yoga jeans. I love these jeans with my new brown boots. Even if they are a teensy bit western, a little “Urban Cowboy.” Maybe because they’re a little “Urban Cowboy.” And I can add this other animal print scarf tied like a neckerchief. I adore this silk scarf. One side is grey, tan, and black and the other is more brown than grey. Making it go with almost everything.
          Equipment shirt, Paige skinny jeans, Paul Green boots
I don’t know what you call this method of tying a scarf, but we used to do it all the time in university. Fold the scarf in a triangle with the ends at the back (like a bandit,) then overlap the ends, bring them around, and tie in the front. And the grey side of the scarf pulls in the grey of my, now ubiquitous, Vince coat sweater. See.
Vince ciat sweater, Equipment shirt, Yoga by Second jeans, Paul Green boots
For those who profess to wear a daily “uniform,” and who talk about “edited” closets, and fashion “essentials” must get bored at times with their five (or ten) essential pieces. Preston Davis of the blog Keep It Chic, who has long talked about her daily “uniform” has been blogging about, as she puts it, her uniform rut. So I feel in good company. And I wouldn’t say that I was in a rut, exactly. I just needed the changing season and the falling temperatures to give me a little push. As much as I blog about this outfit or that one… when it comes time to dash out to the grocery store or the dentist, I tend to reach for the same three or four pieces. That’s part of being retired. I don’t care any less about how I look; I just don’t have to strive so much for variety
And I’m not ready to abandon the yearly exercise of editing my closet. I have really taken to the idea that I will keep in my closet only those things which I truly love. I plan to write a blog post about that soon. But limiting oneself to five (or ten) pieces should be an academic exercise. Not a hard and fast rule. I mean… what’s wrong with seven… or thirteen?
And since I am in such a mood for blue, maybe I need to shop for a lovely blue sweater. Like this one from The House of Barrie, a knitwear company located in the Scottish borders. Gorgeous isn’t it? Hmmm. We’ll see.

Meanwhile. Back to David Niven. When I saw the shot of myself in my ascot-ish scarf, I immediately thought of him. It seemed to me that he always wore an ascot. Nope. I couldn’t find a single photograph of him in an ascot. But he did wear a bow tie a lot. It was Cary Grant who wore the ascots. Like this one from the movie It Takes a Thief.


And his scarf looks kind of like mine, don’t you think? Okay. Maybe not, but it is blue. Sigh. I love Cary Grant.

Now, I have to go do my work-out and get ready for my book club meeting this evening. We’re discussing the “new” Harper Lee novel Go Set a Watchman. With several former English teachers as part of the group, I’m expecting strong feelings about this book. And hopefully a rousing discussion. More on that later in a November book post. With so many new books to read … I’m definitely not in a rut there.

What do you do if you find yourself in a fashion rut? That’s if you ever do.

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38 thoughts on “Not in a Rut, Exactly”

  1. Love your blue shirt, especially paired with the various browns. I've come to look at a "capsule" this way: it's great for those rushed mornings when I need to get dressed for work and don't want to make a lot of decisions. And as a basis for travel wardrobes. But I need a little variety and to mix it up a bit, so have to have some color and accent pieces. Preston Davis has such a good eye, and always seems to find those pieces that are classic but current!

  2. This post by pop-culture critic/editor Nik at Nite is worth reading:
    It offers an entirely fresh perspective on the novel — very convincing.
    I'm surprised how careful I'm being about jumping out of the rut I was in – 7 weeks dressing from a carry-on case. Honestly, I am a bit overwhelmed right now by how much choice there is in my closet. I'm sure I'll get into the hang of it soon, but my changed lifestyle (retirement, of course!) makes it easy and tempting to go the Jeans Jeans Jeans route. . . .so keep the inspiration coming, thank you!

    1. I will definitely check that out, Frances. I felt the same when we came home from France. I had all my clothes so planned when we were on our trip… that, once home, out of habit, I reached for the exact same things for a while. Less thinking when in a hurry.

  3. Hi Sue, I'm pretty much a uniform dresser, I like to keep things simple. But I do find adding one or two pieces a year wakes things up for me – like I recently bought a pair of burgundy cords, and I'm looking to get the same thing in navy too, they will go with lots of my tops. I like wearing cords in winter. Your blue shirt looks great – but, to be honest, I shy away from shirts and blouses because of the ironing. Actually, I love ironing, just not shirts and blouses!

    Mm, To Catch a Thief is one of my favourite movies – I have it on DVD and watch it every so often, gorgeous colours, clothes, jewels, dialogue .. and Cary! Have you read David Niven's memoir, The Moon's a Balloon? I still have it but haven't read it for years – must pull it out again sometime.

    1. I hear you about the ironing. Cotton shirt wrinkle after so quickly. I'd like to find a sweater that I can wear my blue shirt under… for warmth and less obvious wrinkles. I love all those fifties movies. I hardly follow the plot in Hitchcock films I'm so busy looking at the clothes.

  4. I think our changing seasons encourage us to have a fresh eye at least twice a year & climb out of our rut . And yes , I agree , the pale blue with milk chocolate brown are ' yummy ' together & a very unpredictable mix . I don't like brown next to my face now , not flattering for me , but I still like brown as you wear it & especially bags or boots . My new brown boots are similar to yours but have a narrow navy edge to the tops & a tinge of blue to the sole & heel .They sound weird but it's very subtle & I love them . You wear your scarves well but we of shorter necks would struggle with some of those looks – neck braces come to mind , so you're lucky
    Wendy in York

    1. Yep..changing seasons force us out of the rut. Your new boots sound lovely. About the scarves…I'm kind of partial to "neck braces"… in that I loooove turtlenecks. Sometimes I have to be careful, though. I have a big head, and with a blouse, a jacket and a bulky scarf at my neck I run the risk of looking very top heavy. Or "all head" as my mum says.

    2. Yes Patricia , they are Picolinos which is a Spanish company & I bought mine there but they are stocked by various UK companies i.e. Charles Clinkards . Not sure where you are . Some of the styles are rather ' unusual ' & I don't like them all but they are always incredibly comfortable & not that expensive . Hope that helps .

  5. You're too funny. And you don't look like David Niven. I love the blue and brown mixtures. They look fresh to me now. I couldn't possibly live with a five or 10 piece wardrobe. But I do tend to reach for the same things over and over again.

  6. What do I do?

    First: Get discouraged about my appearance, maybe a little depressed even.
    Second: Spend a little money on clothes, usually scarves, which are not so expensive and change looks fast.


    What do I wish I would do?

    First: Buy a ticket.
    Second: Pack my bike and take it to France, where I won't fret about it, and which gives me the Really Good Excuse to buy some new clothes. (Bike or not, it's France after all!) Sadly, that's far too expensive to do too often, or I will lose my job, which funds the trips …. and, more frequently, the scarves!

    1. Yep… that scarf/trip funding job is important isn't it? I do the same thing… get discouraged. Nothing like a scarf… or for me turtleneck, or sweater to mix things up. I didn't shop much at all in France. Too mind boggling. I just looked in windows. Oh, I did try on an exquisite jacket in an Armani shop. I had no intention of buying. But I still had to snap Hubby out of the coma he went into when he saw the price tag.

    2. Oh, about my big excuse for a little shopping, I wasn't clear… the shopping is here, before getting on the plane. Agreed, price tags on what I like there are coma enducing. I wonder if that has to do with what I find? Or perhaps great food, wine, lodging is less expensive there, great clothes more expensive.

  7. Love your blue shirt! I wore mine a lot in various combinations spring/early summer now planning on styling it with a jumper over on cooler days. Hope you find a nice one ..The blue one pictured in lovely. I thought about you yesterday and how well you plan your clothes shopping when I made two impulse buys!! Last day in Texas and strolling through an air conditioned Mall after lunch ..relaxed by some wine! I bought two beautiful wool and mohair mix jumpers with a fairIsle patterned yolk. A bright pink and a slate grey. I love them! They ll go with lots in my wardrobe … But …I even have a note in my phone saying don't buy any more thick jumpers as I always find them too hot when I wear them 🙂 Yet I m always tempted! ….Do you ever do anything like this?

  8. Meant to say it wasn't just the wine 🙂 I had seen them previously and planned to buy one of them …then decided I loved them both!

    1. Oh…been there…done that. A friend and I laugh that she was responsible for breaking my shopping "ceiling" back in the 90's. I always had a one thing at a time rule… must have been a hang over from my childhood, when we had to pick ONE treat…and one only. My friend and I were in Montreal for the weekend and I lusted after a gorgeous sweater. I wanted it in camel, in the V-neck style. But they had camel turtleneck and cream v-neck. I must have tried those two sweaters on five times trying to make up my mind… which ONE? Finally my friend said…"Why not get them both?" I could, couldn't I? I was a grown-up. I could afford them both. So I did. First time I had even done that. But not the last. haha!

  9. Just had to comment on the ONE treat comment…took me back to visiting a friends mum for coffee with my daughter who was 2 or 3. She was offered a biscuit and took two! I felt embarrassed and said ..just one darling and she looked all upset and said "but I was getting one for you mummy" Happy memories!
    Hope you wore both your jumpers! 🙂

  10. I love how you changed up the blue shirt! It's really all about taking one piece and making it look different. Sometimes I love a piece worn a certain way so much that it's hard for me to see it worn other ways… Blue & brown are so pretty together! But the blue on blue and grey with blue are great, too!

    1. Thanks, Andrea. You're right. Sometimes we just get used to seeing things worn together… like black and grey…instead of brown and grey..for instance. Thanks for stopping by.

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