Saturday 31 January 2015

No Neutral, No Problem

January 31st, FINALLY.  This has been a looooooonnngg month; Black Out Style has definitely helped to pass the cold, and by that I mean cold and flu.  But this year feels different from last was definitely easier to go a month without black, just like it was easier to go a month without pantsSnicker snicker.  I issued a challenge for the conclusion of Black Out Style to wear your brightest AND NO NEUTRALS.  I have been relying on grey and navy this month, so making an outfit with no neutrals took a little more thinking and I inadvertently wore almost the same outfit last January31st!
Mustard skinnies $4.20, vintage cobalt pumps $5.50 VV Boutique
Anchor necklace $1.50 Salvation Army Thrift Shop
Cobalt top B.T. (Before Thrifting), accessories from my closet

This outfit just reiterates what I discovered last Black Out Style - colour goes with colour! 
These are basically colour-wheel opposites in all their contrasty glory!

You can tie colours together with a printed scarf, accessory, layers or shoes...
I've said it before and I'll say it again: you CAN wear a scarf AND a necklace.
If love were a scarf, it would be this Anthro one.

Ultimately, it was absolutely no problem to wear no neutral today!  Then again, if you ask me, mustard is a neutral, leopard is a neutral, stripes are a neutral...  Before I give a recap of Black Out Style 2015, these mustard pants gave me the perfect segueway into my February focus: Day to Play!  In the month of February, I plan to show how to wear a piece for day (work, loosely interpreted!) and for play (date nights at Ikea with your family, loosely interpreted!).  Today, I wore the cobalt combo then switched into a "play" look which meant weekend casual!
Yep, I slipped into a hoodie and did laundry.
I don't know how much more Mom you can get.
If you catch me in a hoodie AND runners, please arrange an intervention.

Now for a quick and incomplete recap of my January ensembles...
There's more on Instagram, including some of my fave looks from the month!

I will tabulate the entries for Black Out Style participants and announce the winner of the She Does Create $50 GC!  If you played along, stay tuned on Twitter, Instagram and FacebookThanks for brightening up January with me!  
Colour has been awesome, but I'm looking forward to Monday's Style Prompt:

Thursday 29 January 2015

Complementary Colours

This week's Monday Style Prompt for the final week of Black Out Style was to wear complementary colours, and I've been trying to do it all week long!  I vowed to myself to wear each primary colour and its complement at least once.  I started with red and green, moved onto yellow and purple... 
Mixed opinions on Facebook and Instagram but I ended up going with the bottom looks...
And regretted it as soon as I drove away from the house!

Wednesday was so very Wednesday-ish.  I failed to follow my own styling tips for the yellow/purple, then struggled to make a decision and ended up unsatisfied.  To console myself, I made a quick evening trip to VV Boutique and scored just what I needed to pull together a new and satisfactory blue and orange outfit today!
Navy striped skirt $3.50, navy & lace top $4.90 , Banana Republic wool orange blazer $13.30, Arnold Churgin boots $6.40.  All VV Boutique.
Gifted navy leggings and She Does Create earrings.

I have been hunting for a striped skirt for AGES.  It's something I check for every time I go thrifting and last night I finally found my luck (despite Wednesday)
The jersey fabric meant I was totally comfortable to crawl on the floor and do what I needed to at work today!  #lifeofglamour
I wasn't expecting ruching and layering in said skirt, but now that I have it, I'm glad I do!

I'm no stranger to orange and blue.  I wear my orange pants with blue all the time!  And navy is a great neutral that works with pretty much everything, but it looks meant to be with orange!
The whole complementary thing isn't just colour wheel frivolity!
There is science behind these colour combos for easy style!
We're going to be spending a lot of time together, Striped Skirt!!

Before you stop reading, one matter remains: the last day of Black Out Style 2015 - January 31st!  Last year, I challenged everyone to wear their brightest outfits.  This year, of course I encourage you to do the same but I'm upping the ante: wear your brightest AND NO NEUTRALS.  No grey, no navy, no brown, no olive - I'm talking head-to-toe colour for a winter Saturday!  WE CAN DO IT!  Then, we'll bring back black on Monday!  (As for Sunday, well, wear your jeans while watching the Superbowl.)
Tag me with your final Black Out Style selfie for one last chance to enter the grand prize draw for She Does Create fabulousness!

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Wearing Red & Green Past December

Best laid plans... I was all set to wear blue and orange for this week's Monday Style Prompt - wear complementary colours - then a friend reminded me that Monday was "Wear Red Day" in honour of fallen RCMP Officer Wynn, so I changed my focus to red... which meant green... which I should have figured out Sunday night but sometimes real life style means you figure it out while you're brushing your teeth in the morning...
Dress $5.60 and sweater $8 VV Boutique

I just wasn't brave enough to boldly pair this sweater with my green pantsMaybe I could have pulled it off, but I took the easy way out and reached for what turns out to be my only patterned piece with red and green - this pretty dress...
Then, I thought about wearing my green blazer with the dress to pick up on the green in the pattern, but it detracted from the red too much - and honour trumps style challenges.  So I turned to shoes and accessories to bring in the complementary colour...
Shoes, tights and accessories from my closet.

The green brooch was a last minute addition so that I could have at least 3 hits of green so people would know I was doing it on purpose instead of lingering on Christmas.
So pretty!
Brooch from my closet and earrings handmedown from She Does Create!
The brooch looks more stark in photos than it did in real life... I hope!
I liked how it echoed the pattern in the dress!
(Blurry photo courtesy of Monday.)

In retrospect, a chambray middle layer might have grounded this outfit!  And in prospect, I have some thrifting to do to fill the red/green holes in my closet!!  AND, I promise to take the plunge into BOLD contrast sometime this week - so stay tuned here, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!  I will be wearing my complementary colours loud and proud for the last few days of Black Out Style with a couple styling tips:
  1. Either colour-block boldly or ensure there are 3 hits of accent colour
  2. Ground the contrast with some kind of neutral - belt, shoe, hose, top, whatever
I'm not done with you, Complementary Colours!

Sunday 25 January 2015

Funnel Neck Sunday

What I wish the title said is "Funnel Cake Sunday" but alas my Sunday was cakeless.  However, it was a warm January day for a cozy blackless outfit!
Charcoal sweater $7, skirt $4.20, boots $4.50 VV Boutique
Tights and earrings from my closet

I scored this Italian wool sweater at the St. Albert sneak peek and it has been keeping me cozy despite not being properly blogged till now.  It is the softest wool and over-sized without being dowdy.
Unless you're a size -2 model, oversize can be a bit tricky to pull off.
Better to err on the side of not too oversized.
A "funnel" neck, by the way, is a turtle neck without a fold according to the VVBS Official Style Dictionary.
(Totally made all that up.)

These sweaters seem to be styled simply - not much by way of necklaces in the mags or on Pinterest.  That doesn't mean you can't wear a necklace, but I was busy this morning making gingerbread pancakes which cut into my getting ready time.  Earrings were all I could grab without being even more late for church.
These earrings are B.T. (Before Thrifting) and are amongst my faves!

Anything oversized looks balanced with a fitted bottom...
It was so warm today I didn't even need a coat.

Walking down the lane...
Only to discover my puppy has been snacking on Christmas lights.

I loved the pop of colour in the skirt and the texture of the sweater and tights and boots...
 These boots might not be leather but they're comfortable and versatile!

I wanted to wear this charcoal sweater before the last week of Black Out Style is upon me - I'll be focusing on getting as much colour into the last days as possible, starting with complementary colours for tomorrow's Monday Style Prompt!  It's not too late to join in and forgo black for your chance to win a $50 gift certificate from She Does Create!  Just let me know you're participating to be entered into the draw! 
No black is easy to do with fab thrifted pieces like these!

Wednesday 21 January 2015

What I Wore Wednesday

Update from the front:

     Days without fever in the house - 0
     Days without complaining - 0
     Days without watching too much Hulk - 0

That's right, since January 5th at least one person in my household has had a nasty fever virus every single day, and we're not done yet.  That means that normal functioning, like a full night's sleep and well-planned outfits, are out the window for the mom.  That's me.  

I wanted to call this post, "What to Wear When You Wish You Were Staying Home With Your Sick Kids" then decided that was overly descriptive.  But the gist of it is, I'm a working mom and a sometimes solo-parent so months weeks like these are about survival while trying not to look like total crap.  And with that winning introduction, here's my OOTD, voila!
Pink cord blazer $9 Salvation Army Thrift Shop
Gap navy cords $4.20, Clarks booties $10 VV Boutique
Heart necklace $2 MCC Thrift Shop
Plain white tee and other accessories from my closet

I have wanted to wear this pink blazer for a while!  I love the details...
The buttons and ruching around the shoulders and pockets won me over!

But everything I paired it with felt too stiff.  So I did a little Pinterest research on blush blazers when I couldn't sleep while listening to my wee ones cough and cough and cough, and the predominant pairing was a white under-layer.  That worked perfectly well for my Wednesday since about all I could manage was a plain white tee...
And an accessory trifecta, but that's so I don't feel naked.
I'm down two photographers, including my best 4yo.
The remaining 9yo likes to take creative shots... of Mommy's roots.

Last weekend during my closet edit with Kristen, we discussed that a blazer is an easy way to upgrade your look, and today that proved to be true.  It was a simple outfit, but the interesting pink blazer made it look more polished and professional and stylish.
Couldn't help but notice I matched the sunrise!
You started off pretty, Wednesday, and finished with one kid on the mend!
Not bad for a Wednesday!

Sunday 18 January 2015

Business Casual Closet Remix

Of all the fun opportunities this thrifting adventure has brought me, working with real life women on affordable style is my favourite!  Today, I met Kristen to go through her closet before our planned thrift shopping trip in a couple weeks.
She is kind enough to give half to her husband.

Kristen is a smart and spunky 26-year-old who is rising through the managerial ranks in the university campus setting.  She is driven to succeed and knows the importance of having a style that reflects her ambition.  Her workplace dress code is fairly liberal, allowing denim and even more casual pieces, but Kristen wisely has been upgrading her style with the goal of polished "business rocker-chic casual."  Yep, we made up that highly technical term!  Kristen's Pinterest style board has a distinct vibe that perfectly reflects her personality.  She is feminine but edgy, tends towards black as her main neutral, and likes contemporary patterns like plaid and stripes.  She has a wide-range of duties and needs to be able to move easily then put on a blazer for a meeting.  Here are some of the looks we came up with from her existing pieces!
This knit sheath dress was the perfect opener to discuss the "rule of 3" - your ensemble needs 3 noticeable elements to be "complete."  This may be a colourful tank peeking from a button up with a cardi or blazer; a dress, jacket and necklace; or swap in a belt, scarf, earrings or bangles for one of those elements.  Try it for yourself - with only 2 elements, things look ... boring mannequin.  Whether you have 3 layers, or a main top + a finishing piece + an accessory, or a dress + 2 accessories, aim for a minimum of 3 for a great look!
Wear a chambray or button-up UNDER a dress for added versatility.
A pop of colour through accessories adds interest!
Kristen is not afraid of wearing black and brown together!
Same dress, scarf and boots, totally different look!
Kristen is also not afraid of wearing blue and black!
We discussed that you can mix and match neutrals freely as a general style principle.
Though we concluded this dress is too unstructured for work, Kristen can still wear it for the rest of her life!
We liked the lace-up boot for a biker vibe, and the tall boot for a more classic look.

Next we moved onto pencil skirts!
Kristen LOVED the plaid shirt/pencil skirt combo!
A quick Pinterest search revealed that this look is a favourite of fashionistas!
Another easy and age-appropriate look: pencil skirt + statement tee + blazer.
A unique and fun print like this space tee is interesting without being *too* edgy.
This grey pencil skirt is totally versatile!

The fourth look features a fairly conservative top.  We discussed that adding some kind of edgy touch to otherwise tame pieces allows Kristen to stay true to her style aesthetic, so she added boots with studs and a neutral skull-print scarf to rock it up!  The fifth look illustrated an easy style formula: short over long over skinny.  Works every time!  

With skirts and dresses, Kristen can wear leggings with booties and boots, or tights with flats to keep the leg line continuous.  Next we moved onto pants!
Kristen has a few pairs of classic skinny work pants.  She only needs to apply the basic style principles to get a look that works.  We discussed that adding "default black" shoes or scarf is a move that anyone would make, but stepping out of the default and reaching for a pop of colour or pattern mix is where personal style starts to show!
Same principles - short over long over skinny, rule of 3, pop of colour!
On the right, Kristen's mix of colours works because they all have similar hues.  Her black belt and blazer anchor the look.
Navy polka dot ankle crops - LOVE!
Swap out the finishing elements for a totally different look!

Kristen has a relatively small wardrobe - relative to me anyway! - yet she managed to create so many looks following some basic style principles:
  • the rule of 3
  • short over long over skinny
  • pop of colour rather than default black
  • mix dressy with casual
  • mix and match neutrals
  • stripes as a default easy-to-mix pattern
  • add an edgy element to otherwise conservative pieces
We also discussed reorganizing her closet - putting all the dresses together, all the blazers/cardis/finishers together then arranging tops by colour.  Put accessories on a cork board or hooks so they are easy to see.  The goal is to make your closet system as user-friendly as possible to take the frustration out of getting dressed in the morning, and Kristen is well on her way!

There are a few holes in Kristen's wardrobe and I can't wait to take her thrifting to see what we'll find!  Stay tuned for the next chapter in our adventure!  Meanwhile, thanks for opening your closet to me, Kristen!  I had a great time and I think you look amazing!