Sunday, 4 October 2015

Neutrals for my capsule wardrobe: brown

Having looked critically at the photos in my last post, and having  asked for feedback (many thanks to all of you who left comments), the consensus is that brown is the most flattering neutral for building my capsule wardrobe. I already have a couple of brown tops and the pair of chocolate jeans shown below,  plus two pairs of brown shoes and a brown bag.

If you look back to my earlier posts it is obvious that I love colour, so will using brown for my basics limit me in any way? I don't think so, as I can use different colour accents for tops and accessories as shown in the following photos. I often receive compliments when I wear coral and teal is a universally flattering colour, so these are definitely going to be part of my autumn/winter wardrobe. I can wear them with navy basics too, which I will show in my next post.

I'm going to London in less than two weeks and have a shopping list, thanks to Maria of Looking Stylish. As I also have to fit in meeting friends and family (which obviously is more important than buying new clothes!) I have decided which items will be top of my list. I know that all of the items Maria has selected for me will blend well with both my brown basics and my navy ones, giving me a flexible capsule wardrobe.

As I'm a petite H-shape, outfits that make me look taller and slimmer not surprisingly tend to be my favourites. You can see a brown hoodie and brown trousers in the top photo, plus a sand cardigan and trousers in the photo just above on the left: both of these will help to create a column of colour, which has the desired effect. If it's too warm to wear a cardigan, I can wear a scarf or necklace to match my bottoms to create a similar illusion.

There are eight tops and two bottoms in my capsule. Simple multiplication shows that this will give me sixteen different outfits, however that is without counting cardigans and jackets, plus using accessories to ring the changes. 

Time permitting, I also hope to purchase the following accessories, which will help to complete my new capsule wardrobe.

Maria suggested a few more items of clothing that I hope to buy on-line if I run out of time - and money! - when I'm in London. I'm thinking that if I don't purchase them now, they would be ideal as Christmas presents to complete my capsule. I just have to hope that Santa is reading my blog. 

Friday, 25 September 2015

Building my capsule wardrobe - which neutrals?

Although we are fortunate enough to still be enjoying good weather in Spain, I have started thinking about creating my capsule wardrobe for autumn (fall to my American friends!) and winter. A forthcoming trip to London next month is adding to my sense of urgency, as I should be able to buy a few clothes in petite sizes there to include in the capsule.

A quick glance at my existing wardrobe shows that I have three neutrals from last year that could form the basis of a capsule wardrobe: navy, grey and brown. I also have a few items in olive green that could be used as a neutral. I'm phasing out any black items as I realise they no longer flatter my colouring.

I've been following Project 333 for a long time now and, although I do bend the rules a bit, I try to adhere to a 33 piece capsule wardrobe for each season of the year. My Autumn 33 therefore is due to start at the beginning of October. My initial reaction to Project 333 was "Wow! 333 items of clothing!", however the idea is to restrict yourself to 33 items to cover 3 months, which for some of us is quite a challenge.

I have learnt that having a good number of neutrals in my wardrobe will give me greater flexibility than my original rainbow-coloured wardrobe did. If I choose the right accent colours and neutrals, in theory every top should go with every bottom in my capsule.

Now I'd like your help! Below I show pictures of myself wearing the different neutrals and I'd be interested in hearing which one(s) you think flatter me the most. First up is navy.


What I've discovered is that navy on its own is a bit dark for me, though the lighting makes these navy items look slightly darker than they are in real life. I definitely need some contrast and I think the red is probably the best contrast in the outfits above.  Next up is grey, with three (not 40) different shades of grey.


I also have grey trousers, however I'm looking here for the effect each neutral has when it's close to my face. The last photo is charcoal grey so may look like black.

I don't have many olive clothes, but I'm wondering if the top and cardigan in the following photos are flattering on me and whether I should consider making it one of my key neutrals.


The last photo above is a combination of brown top and olive trousers, which neatly takes me to the final option, which is of course brown. When I was younger brown featured in my wardrobe on a regular basis but then it went slightly out of favour when I was told I was a Jewel Winter, with no browns in my swatch.  I've re-introduced it recently, so do you think it should make my short-list of neutrals?

There are different shades of brown in the photos above so you may feel that one shade is more flattering on me than the others.

If you are unsure which neutrals look best on you, you might like to try a similar exercise. Take some photos of yourself wearing different neutrals then look at them carefully to discover which colours flatter you the most. Studying the above photos, I think two of the neutrals suit me more than the others. I'd love to hear what your thoughts are though to see if we agree!

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Tonal vs Seasonal Analysis

I recently discovered a new website "Looking Stylish", which has some great advice for those of us trying to build a coherent capsule wardrobe based around our best colours. What interested me in particular was that Maria uses tonal analysis rather than the usual seasonal colour analysis, which ties in with the 7 Steps to Style system used by Imogen. Of course colour is only one of the 7 steps, as explained in my previous posts. Using Imogen's system I am an Enigmatic, which is a combination of deep, smoky and warm: you can see my swatch in the photo below.

Maria told me that my dominant colour characteristic is warm and my secondary is soft. She said that the colour of the top in the picture below is perfect for me: it just so happens that it blends well with the colours in my swatch as well as being warm and soft.....!

The closest match to my dominant colour characteristics is Autumn in the seasonal analysis system but, like any attempts to pigeon-hole human beings, it's not always accurate and not all Autumn colours look good on me. I think this is always going to be a problem when undertaking any type of colour analysis. How can you divide individuals' colouring into four, twelve, sixteen or any other arbitrary number of groups? We are a lot more complex than these systems would suggest.

Going back to the aim of building a capsule wardrobe, and starting with some colours that already reside in my current wardrobe, my neutrals for autumn and winter are going to be navy and brown., with accents of coral (see above photo), aqua, teal and spice red. Of course I can't afford to buy an entirely new wardrobe but, as items need replacing, these will be the colours that replace them.

You may be interested in checking out the following post on Looking Stylish: Capsule Wardrobe Essentials. When you visit this page you can also sign up for Maria's Friday Bulletin and you can download your free colour guide if you're not sure what your colour dominant is.

Do let me know what your colour dominant is and whether you prefer this way of deciding your best colours to the traditional seasonal colour analysis. Having read many of Maria's blog posts, and looked at various capsule wardrobes for those of us with warm colouring, I for one am finding it very helpful.

If you decide to join the Looking Stylish Style Club like I did, you will not only have access to even more helpful information, but you will also receive a monthly magazine and can join the friendly and helpful Style Club facebook group. I hope to see you there!

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Do you have a uniform?

I'm not talking about work uniforms here. I'm asking whether you have a favourite go-to outfit such as jeans and a t-shirt, or a black cashmere sweater with a pencil skirt. An outfit that expresses who you are and that you always feel comfortable in when you're wearing it. Something that you throw on when you are in a hurry with the confidence that you know you'll look good.

In the days when I had to wear a school uniform, I always changed into jeans and a t-shirt as soon as I got home.  Yes, I've got a very good memory! In the workplace my style was smart casual, which meant that I wore trousers or trouser suits whenever possible. Now that I've retired, I wear jeans and long-sleeved tops during the winter months. Can you see a pattern emerging? Is this my "uniform"?

Of course it's different in summer, especially living here in Spain. My jeans and long-sleeved tops have been packed away and most days I wear sleeveless or short-sleeved tops with cropped trousers or long lightweight linen trousers.

When I posted the photo shown above on the 7 Steps to Style facebook group, Carole commented "It seems that you have settled on a "uniform" that suits you well." Thanks, Carole! The one thing I need to change in this outfit is the fact that I have a watch on one wrist and my fitbit on the other one. Next time I thrown on these clothes I'll wear the watch and fitbit on the same wrist. Regular readers won't be surprised to hear that, when I went out to meet friends for coffee, I added a red bag. I do love a pop of colour and my style recipe is "colourful casual chic with a little bit quirky and a Parisian influence", so the red Longchamp bag was an essential part of my outfit.

Although I have more or less settled on my uniform, sometimes I just fancy a change. With temperatures between 30 and 34 degrees Celsius at the moment (86 to 93 Fahrenheit) wearing a dress can be a tempting proposition. Dresses are slightly out of my comfort zone, but if we're meeting friends for a birthday lunch or an evening celebration I will pull one out of my wardrobe and I'm starting to enjoy wearing them, especially on a hot day. Maybe I can have a casual uniform and a slightly more dressed up uniform?


Again this outfit won the approval of the other members of the group, with the only suggested change being a slightly longer necklace. I'm finding it quite enlightening taking photos of my outfits and getting feedback. When I assembled this outfit I was happy with my look, but I can see how it would be improved by changing the necklace.

What I'm finding is that, although I might be developing a couple of uniforms, I can express other sides of my personality and prevent boredom by using accessories to change the look.

Over to you: do you have a uniform or, like me, maybe a couple of uniforms to suit different occasions?

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Doesn't petite mean short?

I'm short. At 5' and a bit, there's no denying it. That's why I always head for the Petite sections when shopping, whether I'm in a store or shopping on-line, but guess what? Many of these "petite" clothes seem to have been designed for taller women than me. A quick search on-line reveals that the average woman in the UK is 5'3" tall, so those of us who are a few inches less than this count as short, in my humble opinion. It's supposed to be the same average here in Spain but, trust me, I'm far from being the shortest woman in the Spanish town where we live, which is why I find it strange that most of the clothes in the local shops are far too long. My research has also shown that American and Canadian women are a little bit taller, so when looking for petite clothes I usually stick to UK websites and/or brands.

I checked out the Wallis website recently - as I've had some success there in the past - to see if there were any petite summer dresses that might suit me. "What about this one?" I thought.

I looked for more details about the dress and spotted that the model was wearing a UK size 8 and she was 5'3".  She's not petite, she's average!  Bearing in mind that I would need a UK size 12, which might be even longer, it was obvious this dress would be too long on me. I also felt that the pattern might be a bit overwhelming for petite women. Browsing the website, I was struck by how many of their petite dresses had large or high contrast prints, which don't necessarily flatter real petite women - though average sized models might look great in them.

Imogen Lamport of Inside Out Style has written a very helpful post for Petites, taking into account the fact that some petites might have an H-shape rectangular body like me and others might be O-shaped or have other types of body shape. To be honest, as a petite, I'm just grateful if I can find a dress that doesn't overwhelm me and doesn't trip me up!

Yes, I know that I can shorten a dress, but that isn't really the point. Petite clothes should be the right length for short women, or am I missing something? I've now reached the stage where I usually select short or mini dresses when doing on-line searches and carefully check the dress length as well. That dress that is a mini length on a tall, slender model may still hit me mid calf.

My original midi-length dress
The picture above illustrates the importance of choosing the right length for a dress. I wore this dress to my 60th birthday party, the theme of which was "bring on the bling". I liked the colour of the dress and the style, however looking at it more critically (with the help of my friends in the 7 Steps to Style facebook group), the length wasn't very flattering. Petites generally don't look good in midi dresses. Knee length dresses, or even just above the knees, suit them better.

New version - knee length
Nearly eight years later the dress has taken on a new lease of life, after I had it shortened at my local dry-cleaners. Nowadays I am far more demanding when it comes to buying new clothes, especially if I'm choosing an item that is being marketed as "petite", and don't think I'm being too pernickety in expecting petite dresses, skirts and trousers to actually fit me. Is it really too much to expect a petite dress to be designed for petite rather than average women? Short ones, that is!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

My summer holiday capsule

We're half-way through June, though going by our recent weather here in Spain you might not think so! For many people it's time to start thinking about their summer holidays, especially if they have school age children. Being retired, John and I can choose to go on holiday any time of the year, though we tend to go away in March and September, which are our birthday months and which have the advantage of usually being a bit cheaper. 

Other bloggers have started posting their travel capsules, often with the aim of travelling with hand luggage only, and many of them are based around neutrals with very little colour to break the monotony. This is of course a very sensible, practical approach, which I commend to you.  You will look stylish and your outfits will co-ordinate beautifully plus you won't have to face that dreaded last day of the holiday where the only clean clothes left clash horribly. Yes, I've been there in the past!

I decided to share my travel capsule too. I know I should take a similar approach, but when I'm on holiday I like to wear colourful clothes. I have several navy and dark grey tops and bottoms, which could form the basis of a sensible holiday wardrobe, but my coral and teal tops will be the first items on my packing list. I plan to use dark brown and stone as my neutrals - so I am learning to be a bit more restrained - but I will throw in colourful scarves and jewellery to relieve the boredom.  

This holiday capsule is based around colours that I have now learnt (through following the 7 Steps of Style system) will flatter my colouring, with clothes that fit my style words of "Colourful casual chic".  My choices probably wouldn't be your choices - unless you're an Enigmatic with a similar style and body to me. What I'm trying to do in this blog is to encourage you all to discover your own style personality and find your best colours and shapes. Remember always: don't do as I do, do as I say!

Today I wore an outfit that won approval from other members of the 7 Steps to Style facebook group, so as well as the clothes shown above I will pack this dress for going out to dinner. The shoes are almost identical to the nude pair of ballet flats shown above and, although the bag isn't the same colour, it's a similar style. The shrug and four tops shown in the above picture are the ones I actually own, whereas the other items are the nearest I could find on Polyvore.

Do you belong to the "pack as much as you can in case you need it" brigade, or are you someone who plans carefully and manages to get away with hand luggage only?

PS (Just for Juhli!) These are the clothes that I packed for my holiday in France last year.  As you can see, the colours were brighter and cooler than the ones I've chosen here. They are close to Winter in the old seasonal colour systems, whereas Enigmatic colours are deep, soft and warm.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Packing for London in May

Packing for London is never easy, mainly because of the unpredictable weather. For my latest trip I was travelling hand luggage only, as I was going to be there for just six days. Of course the sensible thing would have been to create a small travel capsule, like many of my favourite bloggers do, based around neutrals. Sensible? Moi? No doubt you won't be surprised to read that I couldn't resist adding some of my favourite coloured tops.  This is what I packed for my trip.

To be more accurate, these were the outfits that I chose for the trip, as I wore the light coloured linen trousers, coral top and lace-up shoes for travelling, with a casual navy jacket and beige tote. I also carried my navy trench-coat, having read the weather forecast for London! The soft teal top was for travelling back to Spain and obviously the long-sleeved tops were for wearing with the brown jeans or the navy pair while I was in the UK.

The beauty of building a wardrobe using knowledge gained through the 7 Steps to Style system is that you have a lot more flexibility when creating outfits, the colours blend well and the resulting outfits suit both you and your lifestyle. Packing is so much easier now!

I had done some research on-line for possible purchases in London, though once again I discovered that some brands are only available on-line and not in the actual stores. Very frustrating! The main reason for my trip was to spend time with family and friends, but I had most of Thursday and Friday to myself, apart from meeting my youngest daughter for lunch on Thursday (before heading for the amazing Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A museum) and my son for lunch on Friday.

I started my shopping at Alicante airport, when I spotted a shop selling Longchamp totes. I decided on a red tote as it would go with the majority of my packed clothes (I had the beige one as an alternative) and of course I do love a splash of colour, so it easily won over the sensible neutrals. The first item on my shopping list had been ticked off even before I got to my destination.

My next purchase was totally unplanned and I'm blaming the weather for it! I was on Oxford Street and wearing the light shoes, which are fine for walking but not protective enough to cope with heavy rain. Luckily Debenhams store had a sale in the shoe department, so I bought the gold loafers seen below, which were half-price (yay!), and which kept my feet beautifully dry too.

My shopping list had petite khaki trousers as the second item, so I headed to the Wallis department eager to try on a pair. They had sold out and the only other trousers I liked the look of were far too long. Next stop was East, where my target was a light coloured cardigan.  Not the one shown above, but an ivory linen bolero. The good news was that it was in stock, but the bad news was that it didn't feel quite right on me, especially as the sleeves were far too long. I briefly flirted with a gold silk-lined sequin cardi (lovely with my new shoes!) but decided to be practical. How often would I wear it? I eventually decided on the cardigan above, which was a petite size and which I knew would be worn more often. Admittedly this isn't the best of combinations with the vertical stripes of my top, but the gold cardigan wouldn't have looked any better!

On my last morning I headed to another department store, hoping I might find the elusive trousers there. No luck, however I had decided to try on a kimono top having seen several featured in magazines recently and they had plenty in stock. I bought the one shown below, which I believe will get a lot of mileage as a lightweight extra layer during summer evenings in Spain.

My final purchase was the cream and coral silk scarf shown above, which I bought on the flight back to Alicante. I know - another scarf! However many of my scarves are budget buys, so I had been looking for something a bit more special and this one definitely fits that description. What about you? Are you planning any purchases when you next go on holiday?