So… one day earlier this week, I awoke with plans to take photos for a fashion post. “Yah,” I thought, excitedly. “Spring outfits. Let’s figure out what I’d wear if I were going for lunch with a friend. My new Frame straight-leg jeans, and what else?” Oh yes, I was all boundless, creative energy as I bounced into the kitchen to put the kettle on. Then I sat down at the computer with my tea, to read my e-mail. And I happened to stray onto a news site, and my enthusiasm fizzled a little. Really? Pretend outings? What was I doing? Was I thirteen? Sigh. I’m telling you my friends, outfit love in the time of social distancing and a world-wide pandemic is hard to sustain.
Still, I wasn’t helping anyone, not least myself, by getting all down in the mouth. After breakfast, I washed and dried my hair. My hair! Soon we’re going to have to have a conversation about hair. But I’ll think about that later. I put on some make-up, and began to pull pieces out of my newly organized spring closet.
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First, my new Frame Le Sylvie straight-leg jeans. I bought these weeks ago, on my first shopping outing of the season and, as it happened, my last. They are very high-waisted, and very comfortable. They have just a bit of distressing on the hip and around the back pocket. I’d been dreaming of finding a pair of straight-leg jeans all winter, browsing on-line when I was stuck at home with my colds… plural. I was lucky to find these at Nordstrom on my one foray out in public before the Rideau Centre, and the world, shut down.
I know… I’m skewing a bit dramatic today. My apologies.
Anyway back to my fictional outing. I donned my new jeans with my old Stuart Weitzman loafers, my black Vince tee, and this old Max Mara jacket which I wrote about in a post a while ago. I like this outfit, even though it’s not very springy looking. Since I’m wearing gold jewellery, I might throw on my yellow scarf from last year, and, if I owned one, a classic tan trench coat. But I don’t own one, so I’ll settle for my old Michael Kors spring coat. Then I’ll be ready for lunch in a lovely restaurant somewhere downtown. I love being down in the Byward Market area of Ottawa on a sunny spring day.
Maybe I’ll meet my friend Susan at Play Food and Wine; they always do a delicious lunch. We could perhaps stroll through the National Gallery afterward. And as I make my way back to my car, I’ll browse in the small shops along Sussex Street. Then I’ll pick up a take-out cappuccino at Quelque Chose, the little patisserie and coffee shop on George Street that makes macarons. I’ll buy a small box of assorted flavours to take home, for a treat, and to remind me of our trip to Paris in 2015. I’ll sip my coffee, and drive home listening to my audio book in the car, replete with my wonderful afternoon.
Ah. I could see it all so clearly, and felt enormously better.
Then reality hit hard. Hubby arrived home with the groceries, and somewhere in between sanitizing the doorknobs, and groceries, wiping everything off, and putting things away, I tweaked my back. No more outfits today. I was back in my sweats, on the sofa, with the heat pack on my back, a pillow under my knees, and hoping against hope that things didn’t get as bad as they did when I was at my mum’s in November. I lay there, berating myself: “Get real, Burpee. How silly to be creating fictional outfit scenarios! Grow up, why don’t you.” And I felt pretty glum for the rest of the afternoon.
But that old cliché about a new day dawning must have some truth in it, because the next morning my back was not worse, was in fact quite a bit better, and I felt much more positive. So I made another stab at creating a spring outfit. Maybe something for errand running, a trip to the library, and then a meet-up for coffee at Manotick’s newest coffee bar.
I pulled on my navy and white checked Rag and Bone Simone pants, a white shirt from Lafayette 148, and the navy Moncler knit jacket which I bought on sale a couple of summers ago. I love this outfit. This Lafayette 148 shirt has so much stretch in it that it’s super comfortable. Same with these checked Rag and Bone pants. I wore these a lot on our trip to Croatia last fall. Even Hubby admired this outfit. Casual, but still spiffy.
But you know, if I were meeting friends for real, this outfit would be way too chilly. It is March in Canada, after all. I’d have to swap out the white shirt for my new Vince navy v-neck cashmere sweater, pop a cami on under it, wind my Burberry scarf around my neck, and wear my Moncler spring anorak instead of the light jacket. I like this outfit too. I could even change up the sneakers for my red Earth brand loafers, if I wanted.
In my fictional scenario, once I’m ready, my first stop will be the library. I’ll return my books, and chat for a bit to our very voluble librarian. He’s lovely, but man that guy can talk. Then I’ll pick up my dry cleaning and chat to Hassan who has run the dry cleaning shop since I first moved to Manotick in the eighties. He will ask after Hubby and talk about his grandkids. Then I’ll pop into the liquor store to buy a special bottle of wine for our Easter dinner.
And finally I’ll meet my walking buddies at 692 Coffee Bar on Main Street in the village. I love this little café, which is located where the historic Lindsay and McCaffrey’s General Store used to be. It’s wonderful that the owners have kept the feel of the original store, refinishing the plank floors and even using some of the general store’s old hardwood counters. I remember going in there to buy seed with Hubby; it was still a general store when I first moved to Manotick. So my friends and I will sit by the fire, drink our coffee, maybe have a scone, and catch up on everyone’s travels. And we’ll talk about resuming our weekly walks when the snow melts and the trail dries out. Then it’s hugs all round as we trundle off, having sated our need for gossip, good coffee, and a few laughs.
But of course I wasn’t going out for coffee. Café 692 is closed along with everything else, except for grocery stores and pharmacies. I won’t be able to meet up with my friends for quite some time, although we did have an interesting flurry of 4-way texts the other day, everyone checking up on everyone. Instead, I changed into my jeans, and pulled on my Hunter rubber boots and my fluffy hat. Hubby and I were going for our walk.
Can I pause here to say a word about Hunter rubber boots? Hubby bought these for me years ago. We’d been looking for fishing boots that would fit me. My feet are narrow, and most rubber boots just slip off my foot. After a few minutes of walking, my feet slide around so much that I end up with my entire sock bunched into the toe of the boot. Not comfortable! But these boots saved my fishing bacon, so to speak. They have a solid construction, good arch support, with a small heel, and my orthotics fit into them perfectly. I can walk all day in these babies. And a few years ago when Hunter boots became fashionable I was amused, and then kind of chuffed. I can even wear them to town. And some days I do.
I highly recommend them if you like to walk in the wet and mud like we do. You can find them here and they’re on sale, too.
Yep, this is what I wore for my non-fictional activity yesterday. I was tempted to change up my good coat and scarf for my old Gortex jacket for our tramp across the golf course near us. But there’s nothing wrong with being the best dressed woman on the course, is there? Make that the only woman on the course. Ha.
I love walking in my boots in the spring. I slosh through every puddle in my path. There’s just something so satisfying about being able to do that. Hubby and I are very lucky to be able to get outside, to watch the geese on the river from our front lawn. We even saw a family of otters the other day, popping up at the edge of the ice. Today we will tramp across the golf course, and then onto the farmer’s fields behind. We’re lucky to have lots of open space around us, makes social distancing so much easier.
But unlike Hubby, who would be perfectly happy if he never had to go into the city, I need my town fix. I need to dress up a bit and head into town, see people, chat, meet friends. Just be part of the energy and bustle of the city for a time.
And these days, in my view, even an imaginary outing is better than no outing at all.
I’m amazed at how much better I felt after I wrote about my lovely imaginary afternoon downtown. It reminded me of an old post I wrote a while ago about a fantasy tea party where I invited all my favourite authors. Gad, by the time I was finished writing that I almost felt as if I had experienced it. “Oh, yes, I’ve met P.D. James. Well, Phyllis, actually. She’s lovely. She and Barbara Pym have so much in common, don’t you know. And that Margaret Drabble, who knew she was so funny. And not intimidating at all.” Seriously, I feel as if I’ve met them all.
So, next week, I’m off to take fictional high tea at Zoe’s in the Chateau Laurier Hotel, here in Ottawa. They do a lovely afternoon tea. And one of my former students works there as a waiter. The last time he served me and my friend Susan, who also taught him, he took very good care of us. The Chateau Laurier is located just a hop, skip, and a jump from Parliament Hill, and the National Gallery, and across the street from the Rideau Centre. Lots of scope for pre or post tea activity.
And if you’d like to join me, you’d be most welcome. Just let me know via e-mail here by Thursday next week. And, if you are so inclined, please include in the e-mail a photo of yourself in the outfit you will wear to join us for tea. Fancy or casual, there is no dress code. Come in whatever you want. I’d love to be able to include photos of some of you in my post. That would be so much fun.
Now, I’ll need to make a reservation for tea, and probably book a bunch of rooms at the hotel for those of you who will be jetting in from other places. Oh, I’m excited already.
You know I’m kind of ticked at myself, I mean the me that was so grumpy earlier in the week, berating myself for being silly. For acting like a teenager, enthusing about spring outfits. Okay, maybe I was acting as if I were still thirteen. But I seem to recall that my thirteen-year-old self was pretty creative. And never at a loss for something to look forward to, even if it was something small. So if my love of fashion, and dreaming up fictional activities and what I’d wear, helps me to cope with social distancing, and even isolation, then so be it.
Of course it’s shallow; I get that. I know that I am very lucky; many people I know and many, many more that I don’t know have it so much worse. Have worries that are more urgent than mine. But I can’t bring myself to write about that, or about the dark thoughts that plague me in the middle of the night. Not when I’m trying so hard to avoid sitting around in my sweats feeling glum.
Now, I have to go and do some real stuff, like fold the laundry, and put another load in the washer. And of course give some thought to what I will wear on our outing next week. Hope to see you then!
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Linking up with Cahterine’s #IWillWearWhatILike.