Seeking Warm Outfit Inspiration

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We are in the deep freeze here in Canada, my friends. Hubby just set off for his cross-country ski, and it’s so cold this morning that he’s wearing his downhill ski clothes and goggles. Of course it is only February, and spring is many weeks away. So -20°C temperatures are not entirely unheard of here in the “great white north.” Ha.

I wonder if anyone still gets that reference to the old SCTV show from the seventies, and the Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas “Great White North” sketch in which fictional brothers Bob and Doug Mackenzie drink Canadian beer and say “eh” a lot. As teenagers we all loved Bob and Doug. For those of you who have been binge watching Schitt’s Creek, SCTV was the show where most Canadians first encountered Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara. Plus other Canadian comics who went on to greater fame, like Martin Short, Andrea Martin, and John Candy.

Anyway, while Hubby has been shushing across the frozen fields these past few days when it’s too cold for me to ski, I’ve been sitting on my exercise bike, and scrolling through Pinterest for outfit inspiration. Looking for warm, layered outfits. Suitable for winter pub nights, and other vital activities. I’m still on a winter layering kick this week. As usual, I’m interested in combining my old pieces in new ways that I hadn’t thought of before. Looking to layer an unexpected piece under or over a coat or a jacket.

Max Mara coat, Theory wool leggings, Vince sweater, Stuart Weitzman boots, and AllSaints cross-body bag. Scarf from Indigo.
Cream and grey and black. Meh.

Below are a few looks from my Pinterest board. I liked all of these. The tonal looks especially. Layering is in many ways all about proportion. And about colour. And not looking like we did when our mums layered us up to go sliding when we were kids. I want layering… not bundling. Ha. Too much bundling makes me cranky, as you’ll know if you read this post.

Pinterest is great for outfit inspiration. I always look for pieces that I already own, or pieces that are similar to what I already own. Like that yellow hoodie or the down vests. I look for ideas like layering pieces in the same colour, or down layered under down, or under tweed. Or using a scarf to tie contrasting colours together. These aren’t earth-shatteringly creative ideas. I might have thought of them on my own. But Pinterest makes me think, “Oh, yeah, I can do something similar with my pink hoodie and paisley scarf.” And my Pinterest board serves as a visual reminder that I wanted to try this or that outfit idea.

Outfit inspiration pics from my Pinterest board "Winter Layering."
Images from my Pinterest board Winter Layering.

My plan, when I started trying on outfits yesterday, was to utilize my two down vests and my pink hoodie. I love the look of a vest or a hoodie under a coat. For this first look I tried a black, cream, and grey palette. I wore my charcoal-grey Vince turtleneck, my black Theory wool leggings, black ankle boots, ancient cream puffer vest from Max Mara, cream and grey scarf, and grey AllSaints bag. Then I pulled my old black Max Mara alpaca coat on top. I like the colours together; the cream vest is a bit unexpected, and is repeated in the cream scarf so it doesn’t look too random. Plus I can zip up the vest and wear my grey woolly hat for more warmth.

But here’s the problem with this outfit. The proportions. The narrow, tidy-looking leggings paired with the slim, lady-like coat make this outfit too boring, too much like a work outfit. I could wear a long, loose black duvet coat with this and it would look so much more modern. To create fullness on top against the narrow black leggings. But of course I don’t own a long, loose, black duvet coat. Or I could keep the Max Mara coat and wear a pair of slouchy, super-casual black cargo pants. If I owned black cargo pants. Or any loose, wide-leg pants at all. The absence of loose trousers of any kind is a hole in my wardrobe that I identified a while ago. I’ve looked and looked for loose trousers. They are out there… I know. And I’ll find the perfect pair. Eventually.

In my imagination, this outfit looked much better. But inspiration and imagination don’t always lead to the expected reality. Do they?

When outfit inspiration does not meet reality. This outfit needs a different coat or more casual pants.
With this outfit I need slouchy cargo pants, which I don’t own.

I had better luck when I tried this look, below. Same black leggings and boots, but with my burgundy chunky cashmere sweater from Akris, burgundy Uniqlo down vest, and Marc Jacobs bag. I have worn the vest and sweater together before, under my fuchsia tweed Max Mara coat. But that look is so… expected. And like my previous outfit the smart coat makes the outfit too “worky.” I prefer the sweater and vest under my ancient houndstooth Alfred Sung blazer.

I love this look. The blazer is unexpected. And since it’s menswear-inspired it looks modern, and more casual than my tweed coat. And the burgundy in the check works with the vest and sweater. Now I just need a coat that will fit over all of this and not make me look like a stuffed sausage. Which is what I looked like when I tried to haul on my old Zara down coat. That long black duvet coat, the one that I don’t own, rears its head once again. Hmm. The black puffer coat with the black leggings, and the bright check blazer peeping out would be great, I think.

I am ruining my slow fashion reputation here, my friends. My intention to rethink old pieces has only identified gaps in my wardrobe. Gaps that make me want to shop, instead of just shopping my closet. But seriously, I should say these gaps have only been reinforced, not identified, today. I played around with the idea of buying a long puffer coat earlier in the season. And I’ve known I need new trousers for ages.

Taking outfit inspiration from Pinterest. And wearing Akris sweater, Uniqlo down vest, vintage Alfred Sung blazer, and Theory black leggings.
With this outfit, I need a full-length black puffer coat, which I don’t own.

My attempts to turn outfit inspiration into reality don’t always work. After two outfits that were incomplete at best, I had better luck with the third. I wore my pink hoodie as a layering piece in this post in 2019, with my tweed Max Mara coat and black Liverpool jeans. But yesterday I wanted something new. So I tried my burgundy NYDJ boot-cut jeans and old Cole Haan Chelsea boots, with the long-sleeve burgundy Talbots tee I bought for travel two years ago. I added my pink hoodie, and my white Uniqlo down jacket. My old burgundy and cream scarf works well here, pulling the burgundy and cream and pink together. And softening the stark contrast between the dark pants and tee and the bright white of the jacket.

Layering NYDJ bootcut jeans, Talbot's tee, and Uniqlo hoodie and down jacket.
This is a good running around outfit.

I quite like this outfit. It will be great for running to the drugstore or to the post office. Since Hubby always does the grocery shopping, those are my two official outings. Other than walking with the girls once a week, which is great, the post office and drugstore are it. The only times I get to drive somewhere, talk to people who are not Hubby, and then maybe purchase a take-away latte to drink in the car. Oh… the excitement!

I know that you know what I’m talking about here. We’re all starved for company. But as long as I have my weekly walk with Marina and Linsey, weather permitting, and some weeks even a trip to the drugstore, I can hang tough. Until things are better. That’s why I am so looking forward to our pub night.

For those who are new around here, we’re planning a fictional pub night. Just us girls. Our third imaginary event together since the pandemic started. We did high tea at the Chateau Laurier last spring, had a book party and lobster boil in my back yard in the summer, and even a weekend in Paris in December. This event gives you an excuse to try on your casual going-out clothes and swan around the house as if you are really going somewhere. Plus we want to be able to put a face to a name. So don’t forget to send me a picture of yourself in your winter layered look, all set for the pub. We’re none of us fashion models. So don’t be shy.

There will be no covid rules for us the night of our party, and free transportation from wherever you live. And I should say that you had better pop your jammies into your purse in case we get snowed in. That does happen sometimes here in the Canadian wilderness. Email your photo here as soon as you can.

Layering NYDJ bootcut jeans, Talbot's tee, and Uniqlo hoodie and down jacket.
Off to the post office. The excitement!

I’ve been perusing coats online today, in between writing this post and doing laundry. Here are a few I’m looking at. Plaid or puffer? I can’t decide.

And when I was not shopping for coats, or writing this post, or running up and down stairs to attend to the laundry today, I was getting lost on YouTube. I started out looking for a clip of one of “Great White North” sketches I mentioned in the opening of this post. And I spent almost an hour down the SCTV rabbit hole watching old clips of the show. Hubby joined me from time to time and we had a good laugh.

This one, below, includes Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara et al in a satire of Jeopardy and the Canadian high school game show called Reach for the Top. Except with adult night school students. The Ontario version of the real Reach for the Top was hosted by Alex Trebek back in the day, by the way. O. My. God. This sketch is so lame, but I was laughing out loud anyway. I love Andrea Martin as the Dutch wife. She was brilliant as Aunt Voula in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Have a look for yourself. It’s pure vintage Canadian sketch comedy.

So that’s it for me today, folks. I think I have just about run the gamut of winter-layering posts for now. I was definitely preoccupied with that for a couple of weeks. But I do love a good closet rummage, pulling things out, and shaking them up to see if I can make them fall in different patterns. I am always amazed at how many new, or even slightly new, ways I can find to wear very old pieces. This is such a great way to keep from being bored with a limited closet. But it’s also a great way to reinforce that every now and then I need to make some new additions to my closet. We’ll see how that goes.

I am looking forward to our pub night. I know that many of you are in the same old lock-down, socially isolated boat as we are here in Ontario. But many others are not. So even if you’re able to get out to restaurants and might not be as desperate for company as some of us, I hope you’ll still join us.

This whole idea came to me as a result of a comment made to me by my friend Liz, ages ago. She said I was lucky, privileged even, to have the blog as an excuse to get dressed up every now and then. Even if only to take pictures for the blog. So I wanted to extend the same privilege to you guys. This is the “what I wore to the pub with the girls” edition.

I’m excited to see you all in your pub gear. I have received a few photos already. The pub-night post will go live next weekend. 🙂

P.S. Clothing links in the post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking my link I will make a commission. Except for the Uniqlo links. I don’t make commission from Uniqlo links, they are just a courtesy.

Linking up with Catherine’s #IWillWearWhatILike.

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36 thoughts on “Seeking Warm Outfit Inspiration”

  1. I admire the way you apply rigour to your outfit combinations. I like the first outfit and love the cream scarf, which works so well with your hair. A different handbag to bring a pop of colour might address your concerns. Something similar to the yellow shade in the Pinterest collage could be good. Also, you could try replacing the blazer in outfit 3 with your lovely black coat. It would be a different look than a black puffer would achieve but it could be successful.

  2. Again some great outfits there . I really like the burgundy – a very fresh look . I’m wondering if it’s the length of the black Max Mara coat that skews the outfit . Perhaps six inches longer or shorter would make the difference ? Though I’d hesitate to chop at Max Mara if I thought it might look right again in a year or two . Decisions , decisions . I agree about trying looser trousers . I’ve had some nice ones from Toast but perhaps they don’t sell over there ? You’ve got me thinking about putting puffas under puffas . It’s certainly cold enough here just now . Minus 15.3 in North Yorkshire the other night – quite Canadian . At least you’re used to it 😁
    It was lovely to see Moira & John in their youth & very funny too . I did laugh .

    1. You are right, if the Max Mara coat was longer it would look more current. I keep it because it is good as a dressy fall or winter coat… if I need one. Most wide-leg pants are so NOT flattering on me. They are better on someone with a small waist… which I do not have! Ha. Still…. I continue to look.

  3. I had the same Alfred Sung blazer! I still remember the first Alfred Sung outfit I ever bought at his store on Bloor St. back in the early 80’s.
    You were so smart to keep all your clothes. Every time I’ve moved, I’ve culled my closet and donated so many great items. It’s the coats and blazers I regret the most.
    And thanks for the SCTV skit – that certainly brings back memories.

    1. I had a matching pair of loose paper-bag waist pleated trousers back in the day and fitted green wool turtleneck from Alfred Sung. I loved those pants and top together. I did NOT wear them with the jacket however… bit too clownish with all that plaid. Ha.

  4. Enjoyed the TV skit.I don’t seem to watch too much comedy TV. One of my favs was a show-Northern Exposure about Alaska. It came on about the same time our brother-in-law moved there. I also enjoy Pinterest, such a great source of ideas, etc. I am learning so much from you ladies who blog fashion. Takes refining our eyes,etc to learn to be more discerning. But I like all your outfits. Of course I live in Florida, so the coat ideas only happen rarely. But keep posting. Stay safe and Happy Valentine’s Day.(do Canadians celebrate this?)

  5. Hi, the NYDJ burgundy boot cuts look really good you…how some black ones like that? And do you treat your fleece line leggings as regular pants? What I mean is can you wear them without a long top covering the bum? I love your blog and your try on sessions with explanations of why they work or not. Thank you!

    1. I had considered getting another pair of NYDJ. I love the fit on the legs. My leggings are not fleeces-lined, have a zipper and button fastening at the waist, and small pockets. They could be worn as pants… just not by me. I absolutely need a long top. 🙂

  6. -27C here in Calgary today. Brr. One thing I’d ask about a new long black coat is, when would you wear it? Since our big daily activity in covid is going for walks, a nice warm coat (not jacket) is a real workhorse. What color do you/I want to be wearing day after day? At the end of last winter I knew I wanted to replace my (hooded, belted, down) brown walking coat. I knew the prices would come down as coats went on sale. And yet, I’m still wearing this old coat I got on a clearance rack decades ago. It does the trick but I’m so tired of it. Several of the coats linked in your post look good but I still haven’t found anything. For such a main wardrobe staple, I wish I could buy in person. By the way can you tell me why it’s so hard to find longer cardigans that actually button up to keep you warm? Love your posting, Sue. Thanks.

    1. The new coat I want will be for running errands or whatever… anything that is not walking. I wear my cross-country ski pants when I walk since a long coat is too bulky around my legs and slows me down. But we certainly do need to think about these things beyond what they look like. Good point.

  7. Received a Part Two long black coat as a Christmas present. This coat by far the BEST winter coat I have ever owned. I usually never recommend clothing but I have made an exception here. I live close to you Sue, this coat is simply amazing. Incredibly lightweight and yet keeps me extreme warm, I have walked everyday this winter and I have never been cold. Consider it my Christmas miracle!

  8. My favorite thing in EVERY image? Your stunning hair! Wishing I’d let
    my natural color grow out. Yours is gorgeous. Stay well!!!

  9. Sue, I LOVE the second look – the outfit w/ the Alfred Sung Blazer. Don’t you feel as though well-made, not-to-trendy pieces will always be in style, or at least will be able to cycle in and out of regular use for a long time? I always teach my students that a sign of good literature is that it stands the test of time – it can resonate with different readers through the ages. A good piece of clothing is similar: if it’s well-made and a little subdued, it’s going to work for a long time (yes, I realize it might sound trite if one compares literature with clothing, but I stand by my comparison!)

    I have always erred on the side of keeping more clothes than I actually wear; I guess I have a hard time parting with “friends”. This past summer I parted ways with my old waitressing outfit – I last wore it in 1998. Tonight my daughter is going to be a waitress at our imaginary restaurant, and lo and behold: now I’m regretting that I got rid of the outfit, because it would have been perfect for her to wear!

    Finally, regarding layering…unless it’s for outdoor sports in the winter, I don’t like layers for myself. I like the look but it never seems practical for me. The only coat I currently wear is a black, long (to the knee) 100% white duck down coat from a company called “Quartz Co.” It has a hood lined with coyote fur. It’s made in Canada. When I wear it outside – even during -30 evening walks – I don’t need to add a layer, and I don’t even wear a hat. The hood over my head with fur around my face keeps the chill out. I love, love, love this coat, and it was well worth the money. I will likely wear this for 20 or more years: this is a long-term friendship 🙂

    1. When I was still working I used to wear layers and then take them off all the time. I feel weird if I don’t have a jacket or sweater on. Like Stacey and Clinton’s “completer piece.” Need to know more about this imaginary restaurant. Ha.

  10. Hi Sue … outfits regularly look much better in my imagination than when I’m actually wearing them! 😫
    One of the many things can I’ve learnt from you, especially with anything new that I buy, is to try outfits on … not just imagine!
    I like most of these combinations… and to be honest, I think the length of your black coat works well. It certainly doesn’t look dated. Plus it won’t get caught around your legs when getting in and out of the car as a longer one might.
    I love down jackets and vests layered under coats.
    Rosie

    1. Thanks, Rosie. I’m thinking that it would look better with mor4 casual, baggier pants and a black hoodie. That would update hat one look a lot.
      P.S. Thanks for the photo. 🙂

  11. I can’t bring myself to layer in the winter and I walk a lot in Ottawa. ( old city) Montréal and Québec City.(not in those last two cities of late:(
    I have a Canada Goose knock off ( it’s made by them but is down free) that I bought a few years ago in Montréal because good quality petite parkas are pretty much non existent outside PQ. It’s very warm with the coyote hood, storm cuffs and the most practical length for me, just above my knee. It’s red because to much navy and black in the winter. I have lined hand knit mitts from Québec with recycled raccoon on the cuff… for non Canadians that’s to keep the wind from shooting up your sleeves not for style.
    I wear the matching black toque. On my legs are fleece lined leggings. ( Lands End)Always. On my feet thick merino socks ( made in Toronto) and either my red Olang boots if it’s really icy because they have built in crampons or the Obōz boots.
    I live in a pretty hip part of town and walking around the past few days all the young style mavens pretty much sport the same look too. So I don’t feel outta place! Living in the city I walk most places so layers are way too warm for me. A nice merino or cashmere sweater or tunic works if I have to take the coat off at an appointment or open it in a store.
    You look so lovely and I would def adapt this look for the fall or early spring but this time of year I would be such a sweaty Betty and the under layer would be soaked. I like the new packable down items that give less of a Michelin Man effect on a short body, I might give one of those a go under a light jacket.
    Yeah I find that some eye make up and lip gloss because….masks, are as good as it gets this time of year. It’s good to prepare for spring. I always have a chuckle at the blogs that talk about dressing for winter…in SoCal!!

    1. I can identify. When I wear my heavy down coat, especially if I don’t intend to go somewhere I will need to take it off, I always only wear a light turtleneck of cashmere sweater under it.

  12. I love the burgundy, looks so good with your hair!!! And have you seen Late Night with Emma Thompson? When I was watching, I kept trying to figure out who she reminded me of and finally realized it was you! Her hair is very similar to yours but closer on the sides I think. Looks very edgy!

  13. Oh my gosh… I’ve lived in the southern USA for 40 years and it’s 14F. degrees above 0 today and snowing. Has been below freezing for nearly a week without sun and can’t fathom HOW you cope with this regularly! Such unusual weather here. Fleece and down are my fashion choices right now and for first time in my life wearing down vests INSIDE my house to get thru these wretched brrrr-cold days and nights. Tried reading a book, but my hands got too cold to hold it, so decided to check your blog and found typing is the ticket to getting warm!

    Before your blog’s welcome distraction, I went to every one of the 7 Republican Senator’s websites to send them a thank you note for their brave votes yesterday!

    Do you have a metallic silver long down puffer vest? You would look terrific in one with your outfits today. It would add edgy bling to your style, especially with your combat boots. Thank you for the fashion distraction today! Oh YAY- FedEx just delivered toilet paper, new eyebrow liner, silver hair shampoo & conditioner, hand cream, and other goodies- on a frozen snowy Sunday eve! Tomorrow they’re slated to deliver a cashmere tunic sweater and joggers outfit. Fashion cures all ills, eh?

    1. Good for you to make your political opinion known, Nan. If I had a long silver down vest it would look great with my outfits… good suggestion. Would like to hear how you like wearing cashmere joggers. I have not invested because I thought I’d never wear them around the house.

      1. My plan is to wear the cashmere joggers for dressier outings, not lounging at home. Reality is they won’t get worn until next autumn! In Tennessee, COVID vaccinations began last month for the age group of 75+; 70-74 began last week; my group 65-69 are slated later this month. Due to the winter storm, there will be delays in scheduling. Spring is looking ever so promising!

        You look fantastic in the lavender/plum color combination outfits! I’m eagerly anticipating the arrival of the lavender cashmere sweater tunic. This was a color I never wore in my life. Now it brightens my green eyes and newly grey hair. Guess I’ve officially joined “The Lavender Ladies Club” at 68!

  14. Sue, you look smashing in all of the photos, and there is nothing wrong with your look in photo #2, which is flattering for you. As one reader said, you might add a bright handbag, though the one you show works. You could also add a loose, colorful scarf. Have you tried this look with the pants tucked into boots? Especially knee-high boots? Baggy pants are not for everyone – go back and look at how SLIM you look in that picture. I would not change a thing. And I loved the skit, thanks for sharing! I laughed out loud.

    1. So glad you liked the SCTV skit. Compared to the television of today, the SCTV sketches were really long. Tucking my pants into my boots is a good idea… if I had knee-high black boots that is. They are still on my list. 🙂

    1. I never drink beer anymore. But red wine goes so good with pub food. Like steak and kidney pie… except without the kidney. 🙂 And when I was last in the UK, my friend and I went on a day tour with a lovely guide in his van, had lunch at a 16th century pub in Somerset, and I tried, as his suggestion, the local cider with my fish and chips. Oh, my! It was fabulous. I’m a convert now.

    1. Thanks, Lisa. I can’t always get the proportions I want, with what I already own. And with the changing looks this past year, I’m not liking my narrow pants as much as I did.

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