Saturday, 25 January 2014

Getting Dressed for Work

Closet Analysis: The Night Before

It is January and just like last January when I took a part-time contract at a university, I have done the same at a community college and technical institute in 2014. It's the end of January and this blog has taken a backseat to the time I am putting into my planning, preparation and correcting. However, once again for 3 months I am resurrecting my "work" closet and once again I am overwhelmed with a change in my schedule. I changed clothing three times the first day and vowed that would not happen again. As a result I have a few suggestions to make getting ready for work stress free and easy.

Point your shoes in the right direction. That was the advice given to me many years ago when I asked a veteran teacher how she kept organized at home. Her first words dealt with clothing and her closet. When you come home from work, change into comfortable clothing to create a physical break with your workday.   Even if you are going out later, change and wear something else. Now choose what you are going to wear to work the next day. Check for secure buttons, working zippers and stains on clothing. Hang everything together (jewellery included), shoes placed pointing as if leaving your bedroom (this is definitely optional), and underwear (stockings or socks included) looped around the top of the hangar or in pockets. Voila! It's done, you have no potential clothing malfunctions and no clothing options to stress you out the next day when you are dressing for work.

I use a "valet" and because it is not physically in my closet, I am not tempted by other items I see hanging around my original choices. See my January 13th post, 2014 Casual: Separates and Flats.

Take a closet inventory for defects. You must take inventory of loose buttons, split seams, undone topstitching and other such unsightly problems that make dressing a pain. The best way to deal with this is to make a closet date and assign a specific amount of time to attending to these necessary tasks. If nothing needs fixing, keep your closet date to iron, sort and organize, eliminate, substitute, combine, modify, put to other uses and rearrange.

Note-Worthy & Need
Take a closet inventory for needs. My 2014 resolution to dress up more comes from necessity and only because I accepted a temporary contract to teach. I need some separates to round out my work wardrobe and bring some life to trousers and blazers that have been in my closet for awhile or else I won't be wearing them. I have a dark purple skirted suit that needs a more colourful top than what I have previously worn with it. Armed with a closet need list for work and because what I need are basics, I will now watch for the sales that will be happening as we slowly move out of the winter season toward spring.

Monday, 13 January 2014

2014 Casual: Separates and Flats

Closet Analysis: Mix & Match Your Separates

Photo Source: Glamour Magazine UK
Ines de la Fressange, former French model and present-day author, is featured in this photo wearing my most favourite casual look - skinny pants/jeans/or bootcut, simple shirt/t-shirt, blazer and flats/either shoes or boots/although heels are certainly an option. Whether male or female you can never go wrong at work (at least at most work places) or going to the market on Saturday. Love it, love it, love it.

When you organize your closet you have a greater overview of what you have and what you can mix and match. The following process will help you see the big picture of what you already own and be better able to mix and match:

1) Group your separates into similar item groups. Tops/t-shirts/blouses/shirts/pullovers are organized first into colours. Once in their colour category, organize from sleeveless to longsleeved. Now organize your pants/jeans/skirts and jackets/cardigans/blazers in relatively the same way.

2) Bring all your flats/shoes/heels out and position them under the clothing you have organized. 

3) Hang all scarves, jewellery, belts and other accessories in a common area for easy access.

Now you're ready to bring it all together. If you do only steps 1 to 3, deciding what to wear in the morning will be easier. However if you take an afternoon or evening to play around with step 4, dressing becomes a pleasure and not a pain.

Valet Photo by JoyD.
4) Using a valet stand or your bed with a neutral background, you can begin styling your outfits. Choose a pair of pants and place them on the valet or at the edge of the bed. With the pants hanging over the edge, place the blazer open above the waist of the pants and add the top. Lay your accessories in an arc, over the clothing, on the bed. Place the shoes on the floor adjacent to the bed. Now play. Put pieces together that you would never think to actually wear. You might surprise yourself. 

The following example is a safe bet but it is difficult to break particular habits. I'm talking about myself now and I am trying; however, first I have to play at being more adventuresome. And maybe I will never get to the point of actually wearing orange and turquoise out in public.

Photo by JoyD.
5) Example: grey blazer with red/burgundy pin stripe, grey pants, grey heels, red sleeveless tank  - bring those colours together in a scarf or statement necklace. This vertical monochromatic look is always appropriate for those of us who are height challenged but adding a pop of colour and an accessory that brings it all together makes the look your own. 

Perhaps trying unconventional colour combinations should be a style resolution for 2014. It is a challenge for me.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Celebrity Styles Influencing Personal Style Evolution

Closet Analysis: Evolving Styles of Both Men and Women

Style evolution has everything to do with body image and self-esteem . . . feeling good in what you have chosen to wear . . .  along with lifestyle and work requirements. I am going through the process of my own style evolution because of lifestyle requirements and through this blog I have been analyzing that process. Since I have made some style resolutions this year, I decided to do some research on contemporary celebrities, both men and women, their looks and their style evolutions.

Photo Source: Ykone
The style evolution of Victoria Beckham has been pictorially represented on the Glamour magazine UK website. It wasn't until about slide 20 that I became interested - that's the photo that begins her "sophisticated" development. Although not everything after that point held my attention, it was an interesting cross-section of style evolution from, as the website coined it, Spicy to Sophisticated. Her sophisticated phase is influential and can be adopted by many, even those without her Size 0 physique. A couple of French bloggers, Ykone and Au Feminin, have also penned the evolution of Victoria Beckham, which is worth visiting if only to see the choice of photographs, if you don't read French (I read French but I don't always understand the nuances of what I read). 

Victoria Beckham wool twill coat.
Photo Source: StarStyle
"Everything she wears is tailored to perfection" and "she is the master of minimalism" are two of the 15 reasons to love Victoria Beckham's style on

Photo Source Wenn

George Clooney, now in the 50+ age group, has had his style evolution pictorially represented by radar online. From 1990 to 2011, he has been depicted from an ordinary long haired bluejean-clad upstart to a debonair stylish gentleman actor. What a difference 21 years makes!

The "carcoat" in grey is classic, timeless, constant and forgiving, to the point that if you are going to incorporate this style, do it in cashmere or fine wool, pay a bundle and you will wear it forever. My husband chose one in camel many years ago and it is still my favourite outerwear look for a mild winter.

In other photos I perused, Clooney does justice to the open shirt with a suit or blazer. Although I couldn't find a photo of him in a t-shirt, blazer and jeans, I think he would wear them well and that is an adoptable style combination for any man.

Photo Source: People Stylewatch
Photo Source: Glamour Magazine UK
When I think about the photographs of Charlize Theron that I have seen - skinny jeans with heels, often a blazer (even with boyfriend jeans as in this airport photo) and red carpet gowns come to mind. The red carpet looks may be mesmerizing, but are not the reality for 95% of the population. Realistically, the blazer with jeans is much more adoptable. I've always loved that blazer look and it has been part of my style inventory. Take the blazer away and even Charlize Theron might look frumpy - mmm no, I don't think she would ever look frumpy, excluding her dramatic roles such as Young Adult and Monster of course.

Wonderwall.msn looks at Johnny Depp's style evolution and he has done it all; nevertheless, the suit, the jacket, even if it happens to be a denim jacket, is always there.

Now maybe Johnny Depp can get away with it but I would suggest that if you choose to add a hat to your style evolution, make sure it doesn't have holes in it.

Part of a man's style is a t-shirt but it is the way he wears a t-shirt that is important. I have always liked that suit with a t-shirt thing. It looks successful  but not too stuffy.

Photo Source: Fashionodor
Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I'm 64? (Lyrics, When I'm 64, Beatles). Will I still be wearing statement necklaces when I'm 90? One of my style resolutions, to wear more statement jewellery, has been inspired by Iris Apfel, self-proclaimed "geriatric starlet", who is 91 years old.
I think the greatest fashion faux pas is looking into the mirror and seeing someone else. Relax. Have fun with your clothes!
- Iris Apfel 

Photo Source: List UK
After writing the portion on Iris Apfel, I thought of Elton John whose style evolution has mellowed as he got older; whereas Apfel's became more flamboyant. There are 29 photos depicting Elton John's evolution on And so it is with us; perhaps not to either extreme. But I do know women who are taking the statement, "I should have worn red more often," to heart.

Who are your contemporary style icons or perhaps style icons from the past? . . . I think there's a post there.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

2014 Style Resolutions

With appreciation to Holt Renfrew and their style resolutions advertising campaign where I borrowed my topic for the day. Some of my resolutions crossover with theirs but if it's a good thing, those ideas must be on more minds than just the people at Holts. My closet and style resolutions for the year:

Layering two rose quartz statement necklaces
by JoyD to make a more significant statement.
1) Wear more statement jewellery whether it be necklaces, earrings or bracelets. Holt Renfrew has also made this one of their style resolutions for 2014. My motivation is twofold since I do design and make jewellery; however I don't ofen wear what I make, since everything is essentially for sale, so this year I have decided to do some blatant self-promotion. On New Year's Eve, I began by layering two rose quartz necklaces with a navy dress that has gold threads running through it. On New Year's Day I wore a filigree cross pendant overlayed on a red Greek cross with flared ends. Wearing this piece made me realize that it would be better, actually updated, if I remade it into a "choker" instead keeping it as a longer pendant necklace. And so this resolution has already proven to be a positive experience even with only two days into it.

Photo Source:
2) Carry a smaller bag. The cross body straps that end in a medium sized clutch makes more sense for the shoulders. I suffer from chronic shoulder pain (from all those years of carrying bags of books) and have not yet learned that a heavy shoulder bag might be the problem. Holts suggests this orange cross body Rebecca Minkoff bag. I probably won't do a rusty orange but this particular bag comes in a variety of colours in addition to the basics. Check the Purseblog, which has a post featuring Rebecca Minkoff cross body bags.

3) Dress up more - another Holt Renfrew resolution that I share. Over the past year, I have spent more time in the same jeans, skinny pants and other comfortable casual clothing than I care to admit. I have clothing that I don't want to get rid of, and so I resolve to dress up more in 2014. New Year's Eve and Day give one the opportunity to turn it up a notch and so this resolution started out well.

4) Take inventory of my clothing to see what can be re-created and updated. My first thought is to have a "mermaid/fishtail" skirt re-made into a pencil skirt. I think there's a post there.

5) Create and follow a clothing budget. Sigh. I'm already not liking this. With this resolution, I need to think more about what I am buying to supplement what I already own and be conscious of how much money I am spending. I'm not a spendthrift but I do like to buy better quality items and so that means more research.

I shall stop at 5 but I welcome any of your clothing or closet resolutions that you may be making for 2014. As far as resolutions go you can make them at any time of the year so I'll be returning to this post often to keep myself on track, check on your resolutions and keep you updated.