Friday, 29 November 2013

Layering Necklaces or Layered Necklaces

Multiple Choices

A Closet Content Analysis: Layering or Layered Necklaces

I get really excited about jewelry.
- Jenna Fischer

You have read about stacking bracelets, bangles and cuffs but have you layered and stacked your necklaces? Do it because jewellery designers and craftspeople are deliberately designing layered necklaces this season.

For the spring of 2013 I designed several necklaces using the same green stone with similar elements for the purpose of layering. However as it turned out, no one bought three or four separate necklaces to layer, they were buying the single necklace design that looked like several necklaces but with only one clasp. Even though the look is heavy, many do not want that heaviness in reality and so I am incorporating a multi-media approach to some of the layered necklaces and also some creative placement. 

For the fall, longer layered necklace along with "chokers" are being made and manufactured by both crafters and high end designers. Some of what I hear when customers are commenting is that if there is too much surrounding the neck, some people have feelings similar to claustrophobia. I wonder if this is one of the reasons more cowl neck sweaters are sold than turtleneck sweaters, but that's another post. 

For the fall and winter 2013-14, pull out all your necklaces and start playing, mixing them up to create a look that will take you through the holiday season. You may surprise yourself with the look you can create with what you already have. The choker may be more difficult to recreate but that's one you can buy to add to your collection.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Winter Jackets and Coats 2013-14


NEED: Just in case you need a winter jacket or coat this winter, think oversized, slouchy and big as being shown by leading fashion designers.

MaxMara Oversized Coat. Photo Source: MillionLooks
On the left, former model turned editor and now global fashion director for Harper's Bazaar, Carine Roitfeld, is wearing one of Max Mara's 2013 oversized coats.

If you decide to go with this oversize look and you are not model tall and thin, it might be best to stick to a 3/4 length jacket instead of a coat. Keep accessories to a minimum - forget the bulky knit scarf or snood when wearing a jacket with that much bulk in the body and shoulders. You can balance the look with skinny pants and sleek knee-high leather boots - wearing chunky heels or grunge lace-ups just won't do it. As far as your bag goes, it too should be slim rather than bulky and forget a shoulder strap. It just won't go over the bulk and sit that well. Either carry a clutch or a stylized slim case with a short handle.

NICE: The Celine over-sized pink coat.

NOTE-WORTHY: Oversized, slouchy, and big are fine attributes when you have to layer bulky knit sweaters underneath. That's the kind of layering we are most used to; however, this year layering shorter jackets over coats is also being shown. 

Photo Source: Alturzarra
It was Joseph Altuzarra who featured a waist-length leather jacket over a slim fitting winter wool coat. Altuzarra is a Parisian born designer who launched his first independent collection in New York in 2008. His "top" coat layering was an interesting twist shown against the oversize jackets and coats shown by other designers. Perhaps . . . if I was 20 years younger.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Winter Accessory 4: Hats & Toques

Closet Content Analysis: Upgrade Basic Winter Outerwear 

Noteworthy Choices: Hats & Toques


I don't often wear a hat, knitted cap or toque in the winter since much of my outside excursions are between car and building therefore I can manage the coldness without a hat. But truthfully, it's the hair. I prefer not to wear a knitted hat particularly since between the flattening effect and the static electricity it's easier not to wear one. I have no idea if the fact that the majority of body heat is lost through the head is true or not. When I'm out for a lengthy time, walking, cross-country skiing or at a sporting event, a toque is necessary but for the most part I abstain. 

Photo Source: Makings of Shanna Tice on Etsy
The closest I get to a head covering is a snood, which I find more adaptable to the weather. I found this snood on Makings of Shanna Tice on Etsy and I prefer the way the "hood" falls into a cowl neckline. It's an efficient piece since you can pull it up when you need or leave it as a scarf encircling your neck. She has other snoods and scarves (on her Etsy display) with the designers' touch of large wooden buttons. The snood is pulled up from the back, therefore there is less disruption to the hair.

Photo Source: Hair on the Brain
NICE: Apparently the secret to wearing a knitted hat is to place it on the head from the back and up, not from the front. You must leave a fringe of hair to frame your face, not pull it all under the hat. It then allegedly just pulls off from the back as well without too much muss or fuss. If you want to see and read more about how to wear a winter knitted hat visit hair on the brain, a blog written by Valerie and dedicated to hair products.

NOTE-WORTHY & NICE: Matching was discussed in the previous post about gloves and mittens. The photograph from hair on the brain is a perfect example of inexact matching. The cable knitted hat is a different texture but the same colour as one of the colours in the scarf. I find this type of complementary combining much more chic than the exact matching of similar knitted items in exact colour matches.

NEED: I probably need a knitted hat but I won't be out shopping for one until the season is over and I can get it on sale. That is unless I see one that I absolutely must have immediately. It's on my list.

NECESSARY: For walking, cross-country skiing and other wintersports and sporting events, the fleece toque or ski mask is necessary. Depending upon how cold it is, I prefer a fleece headband. Just don't get goofy with them - ears and noses on hats are for pre-schoolers.

Photo Source: Winter Syle
NO THANKS: My least favourite winter hats are those with pom poms and strings - too much like my childhood. I chose not to wear them when I was eight and I still prefer not to. The only reason this one looks attractive is because of the model and not the hat.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Winter Accessory 3: Mittens & Gloves

Closet Content Analysis: Upgrade Basic Winter Outerwear 

Necessary Choices: Mittens & Gloves


To match or not to match is the question. There are those who love the matched sets - snood and mittens, scarf and gloves, toques and mittens in the same colour, colour combinations and knits. I don't usually buy matched sets of these items and prefer to wear leather gloves although they are not the best choice for really cold weather. My favourite "matched set" is my Burberry check scarf (see the previous post) with red leather gloves - black and tan are nice too. 

NICE: If you need to protect your hands from the moderate cold, or you simply want to look fashionable, whatever the motivation, leather gloves fill the requirements. Leather gloves can be expensive and very expensive but if you care for them and don't lose them then your investment comes back tenfold. Consider a cost per wear on gloves that some of us have to wear everyday over a six month period - at the worst of times.

The nicest gloves I ever owned were purchased in Italy - cashmere lined, longer than wrist length but shorter than elbow length, red in colour and the most fashionable gloves I have ever put on my hands. Unfortunately I have no idea where they are - I don't know if I lost them or simply packed them away when I left for my 6 month stint in Europe and now cannot find them. I always have a black pair in every pocket and never seem to lose my black gloves.

NEED TO FIND or BUY: These gloves provide me with the criteria when searching for a new pair. They may have been "gauntlet" length which is about 11 inches but I thought they were a little longer than that. Of course, I never thought to measure them when I bought them. The best way to describe the length would be to compare them to rubber gloves that are sold for household use - longer for dipping hands into sinks of water.

NECESSARY: If it's frigid, mittens are a better choice. The warmth of your body is a greater insulator than the fabric encircling your fingers and so mittens "outwarm" gloves. My favourite mittens are either angora or mohair - I love fuzzy yarn for mittens. My husband once bought me a pair of blue and grey angora mittens at the farmers' market but I don't know where those are either. Although I have never owned a pair, the warmest are apparently "felted" wool mittens. They cost more because the mittens are knitted to be gigantic and then they are washed in hot water, shrinking the wool and thereby "felted".

NOTEWORTHY: If it's fashion not frigidity that you are trying to master unlined leather gloves are less expensive and mold to your hand in a way that lined gloves do not.

Photo Source: Leather Gloves Online
NEED: This is not so much "need" as desire - a pair of gloves in each and every colour - now that's a collection I wouldn't mind beginning.

NEED to Know when Buying Gloves: Snug is best. Leather stretches and if the glove has room to spare and long in the fingers when purchased they will become sloppy after a short period of pulling on and off and wearing. At the same time I write that, I am thinking about a friend whose personal preference is to have more room in the fingers for what he calls "insulation value". 

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Winter Accessory 2: the Scarf

Closet Content Analysis:

Upgrade Basic Winter Outerwear

NECESSARY Choice: the Scarf

NECESSITY: When the wind is howling, it finds its way under, down, and through you. A scarf simply crossed over at the neck makes a world of difference and when the thermometer goes below minus 10, a scarf at the neck is even more important. 

Burberry Scarf Look Alike
Photo: JoyD
Burberry Check Company Trademark
NICE: For me, make that a soft merino wool, cashmere or a wool/cashmere/silk blend. I can't explain to you honestly or scientifically that the natural yarn is warmer than acrylic but I do prefer the natural fibres. My favourite scarf is cashmere, basically a copy of the "Burberry check" which was developed in the 1920s and originally used as lining in the luxury brand's trench coats. I bought my scarf in Scotland at a shop selling cashmere items but it is not the official Burberry brand - a knock off I guess.

Regional tartan of Canada: 
Cornwall's National Tartan (England)
These two particular tartans, one from Canada, and the other from England are similar to the Burberry check.

Photo Source: The Knatty Knitter
NO THANKS: My scarf needs to be lightweight, smooth and wrappable, not bulky. And so I say "no thanks" to a long thick bulky knit scarf but in fact, it all depends on the proportion of the bulk. So although quite beautiful, as this one posted on The Knatty Knitter, I prefer a less bulky yarn. I do love the colour and a pair of bulky knit mittens in that colour would be perfect with my Burberry look alike scarf. But that's the next post . . . 

NOTE-WORTHY: Although I say "no thanks" to a bulky knit scarf, I don't mind the bulky knit snood. It must be the wrapping process and what to do with the two ends of the scarf that add extra bulk that befuddle me.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Winter Accessory 1: the Snood

Closet Content Analysis:

Upgrade Basic Winter Outerwear

NICE Choice: the Snood

The next few posts will be dedicated to frigid winters (with apologies to those who do not experience the winters that this Canadian writer does). Since it is uneconomical to buy a new coat/jacket/parka every winter, the best strategy is to accessorize. 

I'll start with my favourite winter accessory: the snood - think scarf joined at the ends to form a circle, which is pulled over the head, in the most simplistic short version or if a little longer, to go twice around.

The more elaborate styles incorporate enough fabric for a "hood" that is pulled up from the back and then falls into a beautiful cowl neckline. I have seen them in faux and real fur, knitted or in woolen fabrics. Visit for some beautiful hand-knitted snoods.

Photo Source: Swakdesigns
Photo Source: Swakdesigns

Photo Source: Burberry snood from The Telegraph
Burberry has shown the snood perennially for men and women in both solid colour cable knit and the classic Burberry plaid. This photograph is from 2009 however as stated they are a perennial winter fashion statement. Men and women are both comfortable wearing snoods and there's just something about the way they crumple into a cowl around the neck that makes for a chic look.

Photo Source: Brorablog
When choosing a snood, you need to consider proportion relative to the coat or jacket, style (long, short, simple, "hooded"), function ("hooded" or not) and of course, colour. I have accessorized my basic grey, brown and black coats and jackets with red but the baby blue as seen on the Brorablog is quite lovely and much more subtle than the red I chose.

You can do exactly what this photograph demonstrates and that is to pick one of the more subtle colours in a tweed or plaid and match your winter accessories to it.

Monday, 4 November 2013


Cozy Choices
A Clostet Content Analysis: Bulky Knit Sweaters


Sweater, n.: garment worn by a child when its mother is feeling chilly.
- Ambrose Bierce

Photo Source: Aran sweater from Blarney Woolen Mills 
I was in Ireland a few years back and although, it was June, I was cold - the humidity got to me. So much so that the sweaters aka jumpers, I know as "fisherman knit", looked very appealing. Trouble was, I was on my way to France and the need for a fisherman knit sweater from June to September was unlikely. In Ireland they were called Aran sweaters. I owned one in high school and although I have often thought about getting another, the opportunity has not been there, other than that cool rainy June week in Ireland. I have friends who are knitters and I have knitted a few simple things however I can't imagine that my skills would even suggest that an aran sweater would be on any of my "to do" lists.

While shopping in Paris at the end of October, there were many choices in many colours. Because of my height I do not care for a very bulky knit stitch and would choose one similar to the photograph of the Aran sweater here.

Bulky knit sweater purchased at Sandro
in the Marais, Paris, October, 2013.
Photo Source: JoyD
It seems ironic, but I just bought a sweater in Paris, mind you it was October. The sweater I finally purchased from a Sandro store in the Marais was not what I had in my mind exactly but after trying several on, I found that this style did not make me look like a "q-tip" - round on the top and narrow on the bottom. I did buy a creamy white one but I was looking for a pale creamy pink. I found one in that pale pink in a knit that was proportional to my frame at Galleries Lafayette but it was too big.

This experience offers the following advice: even if you question the look on the hangar, try it on, it just might work better than the original image you had in your mind's eye.