Next month will mark a two year anniversary for me… two years since I walked away from my working life. The transition to a life of more leisure, fewer commitments, and no structure takes some getting used to… trust me.
And the transition from a work-a-day, Monday to Friday, professional wardrobe to a more casual, all week-end all the time, approach to dressing was …well… a transition. I had to figure out how to dress the “new me”….the retired me… and still use at least some of my “old me” wardrobe.
It wasn’t as if I had not prepared for this. In the two years leading up to my retirement, I did not buy a single outfit that I would have considered exclusively professional wear. I looked at every potential purchase through the retirement lens, knowing I would probably still be wearing it when I was no longer working. Hence, I bought mostly sweaters or blouses and casual pants, cords or jeans. Nice enough to still be able to wear to work in the short term, but casual enough to be able to wear in my future, more casual, life. For meetings, workshop presentations, or parents’ nights, when I needed to look a bit more professional, well, I still had lots of good things in my closet to wear. Plenty of jackets, dress pants, and suits to see me out.
Sigh. Sometimes now, though, I do miss wearing a suit. Particularly this fall when sharp pant suits seemed to be everywhere. Like this look Dior. A great suit with boots or classic pumps; there was a time when I would have been all over that look. And it would have been all over me.
And skirt suits. There have been lots of skirt suits in the magazines recently. I love these looks from Carolina Herrera. Very early sixties. I remember in 2000, when tweed skirt suits were huge, I bought a Max Mara chocolate and cream tweed skirt and jacket. I loved that suit. I still have the jacket, and wear it in the fall with jeans or cords. But not in the winter. Most places I go these days, I’ll be keeping my coat on or draping it over my chair. Squeezing a tweed jacket on under a winter coat is way too uncomfortable. So I try really hard to get as much wear as I can from my fall and winter blazers…in the fall… when I can wear them as “outerwear.”
But, with my power suit days definitely behind me. It’s time to embrace a more casual, relaxed look for my new life. I might try to dress down my beloved leather pants, to make them look more like this outfit from Net-a-porter.com. It’s worth a try. I mean it’s thanks to this shot from Netaporter that I even thought of this post.
“Sunday Style”…there’s a mantra I need to adopt. So I drag out my Gap Turtleneck (fast becoming ubiquitous on this blog) and my long Elie Tahari jacket, roll up the pants, and throw on some sneakers. And a scarf. (Among other things, I’m trying to embrace scarves more.)
I don’t hate this look. It’s kind of fun. But it IS winter in Ottawa, so it’s way too cold for the light coat and when it snows in the next few days, those sneakers will be out too.
The shots below are my attempts to figure out how I might reinvigorate my burgundy cords and matching shirt from Theory. Bought in 2007, and worn with pumps and a jacket, they were a staple of my work wardrobe. I’m liking them with my white, Gap sweater, though, and even with an orange Gap v-neck tee-shirt and scarf.
Or how about this look? Preston from the fashion blog Keep It Chic
says that tie belts will be big for spring. Seriously, check out her post here.
When Hubby saw me in this he said, “Is that your Coureurs de Bois look?” Ha! Good one! If you’ve never heard of these early French-Canadian explorers and fur traders check out the picture here
Which brings me to my final challenge in the transition from work-a-day style to Sunday style… especially in a climate like eastern Canada: the necessity of incorporating outerwear into every outfit. And I mean every single one.
You see when I was working, I could plan an outfit, get dressed, grab my coat and purse as I rushed out the door, then, at work, shed the coat and stuff my bag under my desk. And I didn’t have to worry if the coat and bag co-ordinated with the rest of the outfit. Well, I didn’t have to worry as much.
And as you saw above, my orange tee shirt and scarf looked kind of cool with my burgundy cords and shirt. An example of me embracing colour, big time. And the orange tee and scarf look good with my brown Max Mara coat. BUT the coat does not look so great with the pants. Or with the black boots. Or the purse. The top half looks okay. But not the bottom half.
So I changed my coat. Now this coat looks better with the pants, and even surprisingly okay with the orange top and scarf. But that brown bag has got to go. I’ll change it up for my black bag and see how I like that.
Not all of my attempts to move from inspiration to reality will work. Not all of the items in my old work wardrobe will successfully make the transition to my Sunday Style wardrobe. It’s a work in progress… pun intended.
But in the meantime… here’s what I’m wearing today. My Sunday style, Friday run-around outfit. Black silky turtleneck from Vince, tan Tory Burch cords, black boots and bag. That’s for indoors. Really simple.
And for outdoors… I’ll add a tan and burgundy scarf that I bought at Holt Renfrew a few years ago to go with my Max Mara coat and which totally matches my new down coat from Zara. (Don’t you love it when that happens?) Oh, and my down coat, of course.
Still simple, and comfortable, and all the outdoor bits go with the indoor bits. So I’m comfortable, not so layered up that I feel smothered and best of all… I feel pulled together.
I love it when an outfit works. If I’m uncomfortable in it, or the bag and boots don’t go with the pants, or the whole outfit just looks… blah… I get cranky. I know; I know. How shallow can you get? But as I said in a post a few months ago, I can’t help it; I’ve always been this way.
Retirement has forced me to re-envision myself in many ways, not the least of which is how I dress. And how I dress has always been an important part of my life. Seriously… I still vividly remember the dress I wore to my first day of school, in grade one. Red, plaid, with a ruffle… so cute.
But no more school days for me, or work days, or work day wardrobe, for that matter. I’m embracing Sunday style… every day of the week.
By the way… Happy New Year.
And do tell..what fashion challenges are you facing this winter?