Needs Must … Dressing for the Weather

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You may (or may not) know that I can get a bit obsessive. I often over-organize. I stress too much about my hair. I get excited about something or other, and jump in over my head. Frequently. So, once we had that first taste of spring a few weeks ago, I was hell bent on spring shopping. All it took was a couple of warm-ish, sunny days, and temperatures above 10°C. The snow disappeared, and then the mud and puddles magically dried up. Dry enough to allow me to venture out in shoes, instead of boots. Warm enough to feel confident about packing the winter coats and hats away. Spring-y enough that I drew up my seasonal shopping list, and then shopped until I dropped.

In the spring, I’m a bit like the young detective, Jasmine Sharp, in Christopher Brookmyre’s book When the Devil Drives. I mentioned her in a post a while ago. Poor Jasmine has had a lot of trouble in her young life. And in the novel when her car gets torched, and the insurance company refuses to pay up, she is disappointed but resigned. Until the last line of the book. I swear this is the best epilogue I’ve read in years; I laughed out loud: “Five days later O’Hara shows up at the office and handed [Jasmine] an envelope containing ten thousand pounds in cash. Shoppiness ensued.”

Ha. That’s me, folks. The sun shines. The puddles dry. And shoppiness ensues.

On my first trip, I bought a new, black and white striped midi-skirt, a pair of Rag and Bone cropped pants, an Eileen Fisher tunic, and a Frame short-sleeved, striped tee shirt. Then I went in search of something to go with my new skirt. And I came home with a lovely linen tee from Nordstrom Collection, a Vince sweater, and my new suede Paul Green flats. That’s quite a haul for me. When I still worked, I used to buy a couple of new outfits per season, and fill in around what I already owned with a few new tops here, or a new pair of jeans there. But my wallet has not weathered this much shoppiness at one time since 2013, when I stopped getting a pay cheque.

stone grist mill and rushing river
Watson’s Mill in Manotick with the gates of the dam open and the river in full flow.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not feeling guilty in the least about this small spending splurge. For the past few seasons, I’ve been working on my “curated closet.” I inventory and edit, and otherwise have a good handle on what is in my closet, and what goes with what. And after a few seasons of consigning and donating, what’s left has become my “signature look.” Or to put it in a less pretentious way… I’ve found a formula that works for me, and which I wear a lot. This season I felt like branching out. And so I loosened the purse strings a bit. My new skirt in a style I haven’t worn in years gave me the opening to go in a new direction. And I’m excited about wearing my new acquisitions. So, no, the problem isn’t guilt, or buyer’s remorse.
stairs leading down to the riverbank
Stairs down to the riverbank at A.Y. Jackson Park in Manotick
The problem is mother nature. Because as soon as it got warm, it got cold again. It seems as if spring came and went in a heartbeat. And except for one gloriously warm evening, when I donned my new Rag and Bone pants, my Eileen Fisher tunic and my new Paul Green flats to head off to book club… except for that one day… it’s been too darned cold to wear any of my new gear. And that sucks.
Still, you know that old saying “needs must when the devil drives.” I am determined that my fall and winter clothes and boots, which are packed away, will stay that way. But I still need to be warm, especially when it’s rarely above 12°C, and often rainy, and windy. So I’ve been layering, over and under, and trying some new combinations. And finding that I’m surprised by how nicely some of these pieces go together. Pieces that I’ve never worn together because…well… there was no need.
flood waters rising around trees
The rising Rideau River lapping the shore at A.Y. Jackson Park
I’ve worn this outfit several rainy, cool days in the past week. Out to a casual dinner or to run errands. My Paul Green boots from a couple of years ago keep my feet warm, and dry. These Current Elliott jeans look great with my boots, and I still feel fierce in them. Like I’ve still got it. Ha. You can read about that story here.
I’m layering a loose, short-sleeved white tee from Vince under my Veronica Beard jacket with the zip out hoodie. I like the look of the loose tee shirt under the more structured jacket. And it keeps me warm.
woman dressed in jeans, jacket and hoodie, holding a windbreaker and tote
woman dressed in jeans, jacket and hoodie, holding a windbreaker and tote

Then one day when I was all dressed and it started to rain again, I threw on this grey, white, and black camo windbreaker from Theory. I bought this years ago from Liz when she still worked at Holt Renfrew. It’s feather light, cuts the wind nicely, and is reversible to all black on the other side. I still love it. And it exactly matches the grey hoodie on my VB jacket. And looks pretty darned good with my grey All Saints tote. Now that’s serendipitous.

  jeans, boots and a camo windbreaker
So, I felt comfortable, casual, and quite pulled together as I headed out yesterday for lunch with a friend. We were meeting at a local bistro in the village, five minutes from my house. And since I was a bit early, and there was a break in the rain, I stopped off at Watson’s Mill to take pictures. The river is in full flow, the gates on the dam open wide, and the water roaring, frothy, glorious. And then it started to rain again. Sigh.
view from the dam of stone grist mill
High water at Watson’s Mill on the Rideau
But you know, even though all my lovely new spring and summer pieces are tucked into my closet for at least another week or two, I’m content. I mean, it is Canada. And needs must. We have to expect to dress for the weather we have. Not necessarily the weather we’d like to have. At least it’s not snowing. And I keep thinking how lovely it will feel when I can finally haul out my new stuff, the bounty from my spring shoppiness.
woman sitting on a low beam on the dam at Watson's Mill

And speaking of serendipity. The two ideas I had when I started writing this post were that line from the Christopher Brookmyer book: “Shoppiness ensued.” And the fact that I couldn’t wear any of my new stuff because it was too darned cold… and “needs must”… I needed to dress for the weather.

And I swear it just dawned on me about halfway through writing this that the title of the Christopher Brookmyre book When the Devil Drives…. actually completes that old saying. “Needs must when the devil drives.” Now. I ask you. Is that not the coolest bit of serendipity ever?

How about you, my friends? Is it spring where you live? Lovely mild spring-y spring? Or are you like me, grumbling while you dress for the weather?

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36 thoughts on “Needs Must … Dressing for the Weather”

  1. I just took my winter coats and sweaters to the cleaners last weekend since we'd had a stretch of decent weather, and it was about to be May after all. Then the temps dropped & the rain came…… Oh well. I'm still looking forward to spring shoppiness – I just didn't have time to get out when the weather was cooperating. Love your new purchases (and the prior ones too – they always seem to work so well for you).

    1. It's hard to shop for warm weather when it's freezing… I always find. Like packing for a holiday in the tropics when it's winter. It seems spring is giving everyone a blast this year.

  2. Canadian weather appears to be as tricky as Montana weather. We can start the day with sunshine then have hail in the afternoon followed by a sudden wind storm. I recall going to a friend's house a couple of years ago, excited because it was finally warm enough for sandals, then having to sit by their firepit all night because my feet were freezing. By the way, I love 'shoppiness ensued' and will be using it lavishly!

  3. Our weather has been so disappointing this year, the most rainfall, the fewest hours of sunshine, since record-keeping, I think I heard. Certainly feels like it. Then today, finally, we've got gorgeous sunshine, it's 19 degrees! but there's a Severe Weather Warning posted on the Environment Canada site about a possible Thunderstorm with intense lightning, heavy downpours, and large hail. Well, joy. . . . I mean, seriously? We seem to pay for each day of sunshine we get with at least two of rain. . . .Today was such a tantalising taste, though. . . I have two favourite sweaters soaking in Eucalan right now and as soon as they're washed and blocked dry, they're going into storage. And my white jeans are quivering with readiness to serve. . . . Your shoppiness paid off very well and all your combos look great. (I have that Brookmyre on reserve at the library — must have been at your behest;-)

    1. This year the weather all across Canada is weird, isn't it? Flooding in the Toronto and Ottawa area (well, Gatineau, actually) and I'm at Mum's now and it's raining cats and dogs. You guys have had the brunt of the weird weather for a while. Time you had a break.
      I love Brookmyre's work. Just can't read too many in a row.. His black humour needs to be rationed.
      P.S. What is "Eucalan"?

    2. Oh, sorry. Eucalan is a "no-rinse wool wash" — great for woolen handknits, but I also use it for all my sweaters now. Generally found at good yarn stores.

  4. I am grateful for warm weather here where I live in the south, but we have had so much rain this month. It is pouring as I type.

    Those jeans are amazing and look wonderful on you. Also, you are a master of layers. I never think to layer tops, hoodies, and jackets the way you do. Of course, I would probably look like a blob if I did! Thanks for linking up with Fabulous Friday.

  5. We don't get a great deal of rain here on the east side of the U.K. & it's a very temperate climate . We are in a good sunny spell just now of 15 + degrees but with a 'fresh' breeze , which is fine for me but it isn't bare arm & sandal weather . The retailers must love the first warm days when we are all full of shoppiness , me included . This year I've added a navy cotton moleskin 'work' jacket & khaki chinos ( plus a top or two ) & my new Ally Capellino tote is almost identical to yours but navy – great minds ? Love your layers & that roaring river too .
    Wendy in York

    1. I remember when Stu and I were over in your part of the world in 2005, you'd just had really bad flooding. In Boltby where we stayed, the old houses in the village had high water marks on their oustide walls from when the "beck" flooded. Is beck the right word? I just remember that we loved the new words we were learniing and whenever we saw a trickle of a brook or stream, We'd laugh and say, "Oh look, a beck."
      Re: totes. I bought that grey tote last July in the Nordstrom anniversary sale. But by fall I was falling in love again with my burgundy bag and hardly used the grey one. Now, it's been rediscovered. It's a perfect not winter but not quite summer colour, I think.

    2. Yes we have becks , though we're in Scotland now & have to call them burns . I wonder if you came across snickets & ginnels on your travels ? ( little old alleyways )

  6. I have a feeling we're not in Croatia any more-rain,cold,rain…..I used to wear linen dresses and bare legs even before the 1st of May, not this year!
    But,as I could see,you are coping fine with your weather situation,better than me!

    1. Wow… you could wear summer dresses in April. That must have been wonderful. Sounds like we're all having a cool spring this year. Maybe we should go visit Wendy in Yorkshire:)

  7. This post is bang on and you look fantastic! I am having trouble putting things together to cope with the 2017 version of Ontario Spring. I love everything you are wearing…where do I find out where you bought these items?

    1. Thanks. Sorry I didn't include links in my post. I bought pretty much everything: Veronica Beard suit, Vince tee shirt, Current Elliot jeans, and Paul Green boots at Nordstrom in Ottawa. They still have the VB suit. And probably the tee. But I bought the boots and jeans over a year ago, so don't know about those. The Theory windbreaker was purchased at Holt Renfrew more than 3 years ago. Maybe I should include links more. What do you think?

  8. Flood warnings today and snow in the forecast for Sunday in southern Ontario! Like you, my spring uniform these days consists of jeans, boots and whatever coat or jacket is appropriate. On the bright side, we will go straight to summer weather by the long weekend – at least that's my prediction 🙂

    1. I heard about the flood warnings in southern Ontario. There's some pretty bad floods in the Ottawa area too. On the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. Crazy spring this year. Hope your prediction comes true, though!

  9. Spring in southern New Mexico, USA. Where to begin? Oh yes, with wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour, interrupted by wind carrying sand, only to be interrupted yet again by sunny, perfect days. Twice. However, not to worry because 90 degree weather is just minutes away. However, the chile, tomatoes, onions and greens are growing like crazy, wind be hanged. Dressing as a flabby-armed 54 year old is tricky when all you really want to do is sit naked under the sprinkler. Your jeans are fabulous. It's worth some cold days just to wear them!

    1. Wow, that sounds crazy. Maybe I should thank my lucky stars I only have to worry about rainy cool weather. I'll soon be complaining about the heat, though, and having to bare my 60-year old arms:)

  10. Here in Alberta, we seemed not to be having spring at all and then suddenly today it's 29ºC, a record high! According to the forecast, it will be back to a high of 11ºC with rain by Sunday though, so I totally understand the "dress as needs must" concept! I haven't completed my seasonal wardrobe switch yet, but I did pull out a favourite pair of capris to wear today.

    1. Alberta gets some really crazy weather, doesn't it? I hate it when I have to go rummaging for a non-seasonal wardrobe item. It offends my obsessively organized nature:)

  11. Autumn and Spring can be tricky buggers re what to wear due to it being OK warm one minute and sudden drops in temperature the next. Damn nature when it's menopausal !

    Yesterday it was T-shirt and shorts and today it's a cashmere turtleneck skivvy under a woollen jumper and jeans and later I'll need a jacket as well !

  12. I feel your pain with the dressing conundrum in this crazy weather. As you know in BC it has been raining a lot. One day sunny followed by several days of rain. However, your solution to dressing in cool, rainy weather hits the mark in my book. Great outfit.

  13. Another Heinz variety of a day weatherwise here.

    Supposed top temperature of 15C, but it's currently 8C and more than a bit nippy, so I have the same Levi jeans and navy Ansett wool V-neck jumper on from yesterday, but with another Woolovers cashemere/merino turtleneck underneath to keep the chill out.

  14. Anytime you would like to head south of the border and "organize me" — just let me know. (People like you in this regard are a marvel to people like me…)

    Shoppiness! Crack me up!

    Spring weather? Now there is an interesting topic. In the past 10 days where I am located, we have had a 55° temperature swing. No kidding. And the HVAC has been out… More challenging at 95° F than 40° F, but I am counting the days until the repair people show up again to replace it all.

    I am ready for spring to arrive and stay!

  15. Shoppiness _ what a great word! Hopefully you'll be wearing your new clothes before long. In the meantime you've solved the problem very well Iris

  16. Cold morning, but it's warming up to a very nice day here 🙂

    I'm actually starting to sweat a little in my turtleneck !

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