Saturday, 16 June 2018

How We Decide What We Wear

Alyson Walsh over at That's Not My Age has a new feature on her blog. A series of posts called What Women Wear. She says her intention is to talk "to a range of women about their personal style and what they wear." 

This kind of thing is such a breath of fresh air in the blogosphere. I love to read about what other women wear, and why, and how they come to decide what to wear. And knowing Alyson (not personally, mind, but through reading her blog), the women she will be talking to will be chic, and quirky, and an inspiration to those of us who no longer fit the Forever 21, fast fashion, mold... if we ever did. 

So I'm looking forward to this new series because, as far as I can see, real women like me need help deciding what to wear. 

When I'm trying to decide what I want to wear, I look to a wide variety of sources for inspiration: fashion shoots in magazines, images in blogs and on Pinterest, my own memories, or glimpses of other women in real life, or in films or television. Sometimes I simply see an item hanging on the rack in a store, and it suggests ways to change up my wardrobe. Often, an image in my head inspired by something I've seen, coalesces with what's actually hanging in my closet, and a eureka moment produces an outfit idea. Sometimes I already own everything I need for the outfit, other times I shop long and hard to find the final perfect piece to fulfill the image I have in my head. And sometimes achieving this image requires a change in mind-set, and the expert skills of a seamstress. 

woman in a navy pantsuit, white tee, and white sneakers sitting in a red Adirondack chair
Max and me together again. 
Let me explain. This is my navy Max Mara suit. I've written about it before on the blog. It's over fifteen years old and in perfect shape. I've been wearing the jacket again with my jeans for a while now. But inspired by a photo in the Fabiana Filippi Spring 2018 look book that my buddy Liz gave me, and reinforced by one of Alyson's posts on trouser suits, I really, really wanted to wear the whole suit again. I had an idea that I would pair it with my new sleeveless Vince tee shirt, and my Stan Smith sneakers.

But, sadly, I couldn't do the pants up anymore. When I unearthed the suit from my closet in 2016, the pants were uncomfortably tight around the waist. And this year... well... there wasn't a hope that the button on those pants and the corresponding button hole would ever meet again. Not without a major weight loss program or turning back the clock five or six years. Neither of which was going to happen. I also knew in my heart of hearts that simply setting the button over was not going to make enough of a difference. 


woman in a navy pantsuit, white tee, and white sneakers leaning against a chest of drawers
I like the now loose-fitting pants with the tee loosely tucked in. 
Then, sometime around my 62nd birthday, I faced facts, and took the pants to a seamstress, who let them out. Well, actually, she had to put a whole new piece in the waistband at the back. Now they fit again. Phew. That was tough, you know, admitting that those pants needed a good two inches more fabric around the waist. But I just practiced deep breathing, and kept telling myself that I'm a bigger person... in more ways than one. Ha. The drama of getting older, wiser, and wider, folks. 

woman in navy pantsuit, white tee, and white sneakers
Since the pants don't have pockets, I like that the jacket does. 
Now I love my old suit again. And with this kind of slubby, casual sleeveless tee from Vince, with my white sneakers, minimal jewellry, and the sleeves of the jacket rolled up... I think it looks casual, comfortable, and current. So thanks to Liz and Alyson for the inspiration. And to the seamstress at Prestige Tailors in Barrhaven for making my vision a reality. 

And here's my point about this new series on Alyson's blog. I know how I decide what I want to wear, and how I go about achieving my vision. But, I want to read about other women like me, who aren't twenty anymore, who don't have an ideal body and maybe struggle to find clothes that fit and which look good on them, who don't have unlimited funds or the sponsorship of brands, and who still have a personal style that I can admire and possibly even emulate. What do they want to wear? How do they decide what they want to wear? And most importantly, how do they then achieve their vision? I want to read what other real women say when they are "thinking out loud about clothes," to use Linda Grant's phrase.

In the first post in her new series Alyson features London houseware designer Snowden Flood. And Snowden says, "Clothes make me feel like myself, like I'm saying who I am that day." I love that line. 

I'm the same. Each morning I dress to convey who I am on that particular day. And considering the shot below, with the white tee, shades, and that mop of hair, I think that yesterday I was definitely channeling George Michael, circa 1984. 


woman in navy suit, white tee, and white sneakers, on a lawn in front of a river
Wake me up before you go go. 
I don't always include shopping links to the pieces I'm wearing (or to similar items) in my fashion posts. Partly because, while I might have an affinity for a particular brand, I don't have any formal brand affiliations. I did try to see if I could find some current Max Mara suits on line, but I couldn't find any shopping links. I found a couple of really cool suits on the Jigsaw website which you can find here and here. And here's the link to the page of trouser suits at Matchesfashion.com. Plus, Alyson has all kinds of great links on her trouser suit post

And now, as George says, "before you go go," have a look at this little video below, featuring some of the looks from Fabiana Filippi Spring/Summer 2018. The blue pinstriped suit that I found so inspiring is in there. I know the models are really young, but the clothes are timeless. Not that I can afford Fabiana Filippi suits, but a girl can dream.






Time to hear from you now, my fashionable friends. What inspires you? How do you decide what you want to wear? And how do you set about turning that vision into reality?



Linking up this week with: Visible MondayFake It Till You Make It#IwillwearwhatIlikeTurning Heads Link-upThursday Favourite ThingsFabulous FridaySaturday Share Link-Up.   

26 comments:

  1. All my life I have resisted traditional female clothing (with the exception of a very pretty party dress, 1964) and now I no longer bother to think: what should I wear? With no formal dress code to follow, very little call for evening wear and absolutely no desire to wear skirts, I spend most of my time in trousers. Not all; I do have a couple of dresses but they are very informal. Trousers, shirts. And with you, I have the widening waist which perplexed me because my waist had always been smallish until I made the connection with disappearing oestrogen...and went up a trouser size so now things are really much happier. I do vary the shirts from ultra casual to rather lovely but I cannot abide fuss in any form, in any part of my life. My clothing is very much like my house, actually. A simple aesthetic, good touches, don't worry about taking your shoes off. It is jewellery that I really love and which makes a huge difference - I have loads and wear it every day. In the last year or so I have been removing items of clothing and some of my many, many bags so now I can say, quite truthfully, that I only wear what I want and I don't need too much of it. A spare wardrobe means you have to think sensibly about what to put on. Shop-wise, I am a slave to H&M because I love their variety and how it can be worn by all ages. I have tried Cos but, oh dear. I am too short and too round for this lovely, angular stuff. Zara is good but often too narrow and I am far from large. Borrowing is a boon and my daughter and I do share things from time to time or even pass onto each other. I only wish I had learned these lessons when I was in my teens and 20s, but clothes have very different meanings when you are young. Hope you enjoy your suit and breathe out joyfully every time.

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    1. Breathing out is lovely, isn't it? I saw a Cos store for the first time when in London last fall. I was smitten. Ended up buying a gorgeous scarf to bring home to my sister. But I didn't dare even try anything on for myself... suitcase room being at a premium.

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  2. I love your suits with the sneakers - it does seem like you, and particularly like the full-on confident you. I also think the question of why we choose to wear what we do is as interesting or more than what clothes we wind up in.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. Why we wear what we do is endlessly fascinating for me. And you're right, often more interesting than the clothes themselves.

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  3. I, too, was really happy to see Alyson starting this series, and I hope it has a long life. I'm clearer and clearer about what I want to wear, about what suits me and makes me feel like the best version of me, without too much fuss. But I still like to be inspired by others, and I like those others to show their personality through their clothes and I like to sense that they live interesting lives or have interesting ideas or make interesting somethings or others. . . .
    I think you do that very well, you know. . . .xo

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    1. Me too... clearer and clearer about what suits me best. And what I'm willing to put up with. Or up with which I'm willing to put. Ha. Meaning too tight pants, low-rise jeans, and fiddly scarves and such.
      P.S. Thanks for the compliment:)

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  4. Hello Susan, I have a uniform of sorts that works for me. The weights of the garments change with the seasons. A tank top often in a saturated color usually partially tucked with a belt. (I have a few Eileen Fisher/silk.) A "fitted" bottom, e.g., a straight skirt or trim jeans or twill (usually skinny or cropped, I rarely need dress pants) and a topper of some sort. The topper could be a long or short cardigan, a utility or bomber jacket, linen, etc. I prefer chunky jewelry and textured clothing and scarves weather permitting. I would define my style as Refined Edgy. Footwear could be anything from mules to Birkenstocks to a gladiator sandal w/2" or less heel. I get inspiration from fashion magazines and clothing catalogs. Okay, I adore Gucci for the pattern mix and rich colors. I shop at a mish-mosh of places from thrift stores to Nordstrom and will modify my own clothing if I need to.

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    1. I used to wear dress pants a lot. But now I rarely do. But what I do still own I'm trying to pair with sneakers so I can still get some were out of them. I also find I feel weird without a "topper" or as Stacy and Clinton used to call it, a "completer piece."

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  5. Great questions, Sue! Thanks for the invitation to think about all this.

    What inspires me? At age 72, my muses come from the fashion / styling / celebrity / blogging / publishing worlds and include Debbie Harry (we’re the same age, although I like her younger stylings best), Lauren Hutton, Katharine Hepburn, Jackie O, you :), Susan at http://unefemme.net, Alyson at https://thatsnotmyage.com/, and Frances at http://materfamiliasknits.blogspot.ca/. Sadly, there aren’t many women I know in real life whose styles inspire me. Some designers I admire (but cannot afford) include Dries Van Noten, Hermes, and Giorgio Armani.

    I am a big fan of no-faff, although I have to struggle with my faffing tendencies to pull it off. I’m your basics trousers (not skirts), solids (not prints), neutrals (not brights), classic (not trends), high/low combo (not matchy-matchy) 72-year-old woman.

    Of course, any look I admire on muses must be translatable to my body, affordable, and findable.

    How do you decide what you want to wear? When I go into my closet to dress, I often ask myself, “How do I WANT to feel today?” If it’s a “protect myself!” day, out comes some armor in black. If it’s a “I want to have fun!” day, out comes a short polka dot skirt over black leggings with a red blouse for a Minnie Mouse look; I also have a tutu collection I sample for traveling to/from yoga class. If I’m in a “Don’t you wish you knew me?” mood, my ensemble may feature leather trousers or a long trench. And if it’s “time to tone it down,” I often revert to something in linen.

    How do I set about turning that vision into reality? Given my preference for high-low combos, my champagne designer tastes, and my beer-on-sale clothing budget, I wind up buying most of my clothes in high-end consignment boutiques where I’m a sucker for casual pieces by St. John, Burberry or Escada. I also seek out sales in department stores and clothing outlets, but continue to relearn that just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean I should buy it.

    I have a monthly clothing budget I try not to exceed and usually don’t. Every couple of years I’ll plunk down serious money for a piece that sings to me that I know I can’t possibly find anywhere else, especially if I’m in Paris. So far, I don’t recall buying “the wrong thing” under those circumstances. Fingers crossed, because that would be painful if I bought a high-priced item I didn’t love for a long, long time.

    Although you didn’t ask, if I had to wear the same outfit every day I’d wear my 501s (the ones I fringed myself), a black jacket, a white/black graphic teeshirt, black and white sneakers, and a Gucci belt my husband happily decided he didn’t like anymore (I whacked off an end of the leather blank, clamped it back in the buckle, and voila!).

    Here’s a final question you didn’t ask: Q: What is your biggest wardrobe challenge? A: I hardly ever discard clothing that still fits. I should probably work on that.

    Ann in Missouri

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    1. Now there are two great posts topics...what would you wear if you had to wear the same thing ever day.. and biggest wardrobe challenge. Hmmm. I'm going to give that first one some thought.
      P.S. I also have champagne tastes with a beer-on-sale budget. My Mum used to say that my sister and I always wanted to dress like "the four hundred class"... an old Maritime expression.

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    2. Just a quick thank-you and oh, gosh/aw, shucks to Ann for considering a thing about my style an inspiration. Blushing...

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  6. This looks entirely and authentically like you, at least the you i know through blogging. You look at ease and with your personal touch of white sneakers, you make it a "this is who I am" moment. Brava! And hey, if we got taller, we'd have to let the hems of our trousers out and we wouldn't feel bad about it! Same with waists. xox

    -Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

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    1. Ha. So I just had my pants hemmed sideways. Great way to look at it:)

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  7. I love Alyson's blog! Her style is similar to mine and I've often been inspired by the things she chooses to wear. I'm looking forward to seeing more of her new feature.

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  8. I love your suit-it is perfect and it suits :-)) you great. Classics are classics-we only have to style (or/and adjust) them in a new,more contemporary way
    Seamstresses are the most important if one want to look stylish-we are all different and very often some subtle changes have to be made to look perfect
    Oh,wider waists....what a shock it was for me,at once I couldn't fight corticosteroid theraoy any more-I sometimes feel and look like hampster
    But,one has to adapt. Luckily,I started to wear more dresses a couple of years ago ( when I was younger,I didn"t wear them at all),but the base are still jeans and trousers-now I only have to be careful when buying tops,all my old ones are not flattering any more
    My inspiration seems to be similar to yours and the ladies here. Looking around me is very inpiring,there ate a lot of women of our age here who dress very well
    I was not one of those who will suffer for the look-now this is apsolutely the truth
    Dottoressa

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    1. I think I'll try to wear more dresses. They are so cool in the summer. No suffering for fashion anymore for me either. Mostly what I suffered through were sore feet. High heels and shoes that didn't fit well because I have a difficult foot to fit. Then standing on my feet all day... don't know how I did it. Young and silly, I guess.

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  9. Great post & some great comments too . My role models are similar to those mentioned & sometimes when I shop I think ‘ how would so & so look in this ? ‘ then I might leave it . I don’t think my style has really changed since the ‘ Mod days ‘ of my youth - Quite minimalist , not girly , no florals or frills . Trouser suits were more my style than posh frocks . I’ve always loved good fabrics which means I prefer shops to the net , so I can feel the fabrics . As I’ve grown older it is trickier to find clothes that flatter . Shapes & fit have to be right & some colours don’t do me any favours . Even hard stripes can wash me out . As you know I haunt the local Margaret Howell outlet shop but I have to be careful . Just because it is a bargain & I love it , doesn’t mean it suits me .
    Wendy in York

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    1. I avoided dresses when I was young, if I could, because I thought my legs were too skinny and gangling. Not anymore. I love skirt and dresses but don't seem to wear them much. Mostly jeans and more jeans. And you're right... shapes and colour have to flatter... or what's the point in spending our money.
      P.S. Had to edit this. Hubby interrupted me with tales of his golf game and made me me misspell things. Sigh.

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  10. I've always been a minimalist and preferred tailored pieces and keep them for decades. Magically they all seem to work with one another. While my style is still minimalist, I've been experimenting these last few years and always regret things like the colorful kimono from Anthropologie that looks great on other women. Renee Russo's Catherine Banning character from the Thomas Crown Affair is my fashion role model. Tailored and chic! Since most of us don't "dress" anymore, I always get comments about my bag or my outfit when I go somewhere like the grocery store, but I'm tired of gym clothes. Just can't do that anymore.

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    1. I think we have similar tastes, Brenda. Although I must say I've been into the grocery store more times in my walking gear (yoga pants, tee, sneakers, baseball cap, and belly-pack) lately, than ever before. That's because I just can't bring myself to go home, shower, change, and then go back into town, only to pick up ice cream or bread or whatever. I'm definitely getting lazy that way.

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  11. I'm 62 and still haven't established my style!
    I can do formal and I can do day time casual but its the in between occasions I still struggle with. Surely I should have sorted this out by now?
    For instance -- a summer evening in London at a concert or theatre. I need to have ready something for a hot evening or a cold evening. If its hot a summer dress would be lovely -- but that is the sort of dress I may only wear a few times a summer as we so rarely get lovely warm evenings -- and I'm still looking for the perfect one.
    And the sort of dress I might wear on a warm evening on holiday will probably look completely wrong on 62 year old me in a city.
    And if its a cold evening -- well I try to have warm clothes in brighter summer colours. And those tend to be clothes I wear every day rather than something that feels evening appropriate!
    There seem to be so many occasions and variables which make getting ready to go out such a headache!

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    1. I hate those occasional events, when I scour mu closet, try on numerous things, decide, and then feel as if I've got it all wrong all evening. Especially is the outfit is uncomfortable. Plus shoes... a whole other issue. Hot weather, swelling feet... sigh. I feel your pain, Ceri! Isn't it funny that we all assumed that by this time in our life we'd have everything figured out!

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  12. Ceri,if it wasn't belated.....
    One of my silk dresses I've bought on Brora sale (I was waiting the whole season for the sale)-It is blueish-green Liberty floral print silk chiffon,knee lenght,long arms,lower waist-I have wear it during the whole winter with the turtleneck and leggings beneath and ankle boots
    Than I started to wear it alone-the only flaw is poly lining,I'll change it for the next summer for some natural material,or wear it with a silk underdress
    Maybe it is not quite perfect for 90°F (two days ago here-today we have 50°F !) evening concert (80°F would be ok),but for me it ticks almost all the boxes
    Sue,I apologize for the intrusion
    Dottoressa

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    1. My goodness... no need to apologize. I love it when you guys talk among yourselves. Now... I'm going to Google Brora... I've never heard of them.

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  13. Thank you both -- it's lovely to share views and common agreement on my rather trivial sartorial problems!

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All comments, ideas, commiserations, questions, complaints... are most welcome.