Summer is here. Big time. It’s been hot, hot, hot. I’m not complaining, mind you. We’re back from camping and planning to spend the rest of the summer at home. And while home is not exactly in the city, I’ll no doubt be spending a lot of time there. Lunching with friends, seeing the latest exhibits at the National Gallery, dining on a patio somewhere with Hubby or with friends, shopping…. or just running errands. Ottawa is a beautiful city, especially in the summer.


Colonel By Drive, along the Rideau Canal, Ottawa
Brown’s Inlet on the Rideau Canal, from Colonel By Driveway
Which brings me to the point of this post. What do I wear when I’m doing all these things? You see, even though I love summer as much as the next person, I prefer fall when it comes to fashion. I’m a jeans, boots, and blazer kind of girl. Summer dressing is supposed to be sooo easy; just throw on a tank top and a pair of those cute little shorts, sandals and go. Uh… I don’t think so. Short shorts are definitely out, as are crop tops, tube tops, and halter tops; tank tops are mostly out (except for cycling, or camping or somewhere no one will see me.) I prefer to be a bit more covered up these days… or do I mean years? But, Ottawa is humid in the summer, so one can’t cover up too much. 
I know, I know. I make a big deal out of this outfit business. But as I’ve said on the blog before, I get cranky if I don’t feel comfortable with what I’m wearing. Stressed, even. There’s simply no point telling me that I shouldn’t worry about how I look, just throw on something easy, no one cares. Many have tried to convince me of that. But, I am what I am, to quote Popeye. I’ve been like this since I was six, probably even before then. So, it’s not something that’s going to change when I “grow up”… and gain maturity and an adult perspective. Ha. Fat chance. 
National Gallery, Ottawa
Evening outside the National Gallery Ottawa, after seeing the Alex Colville exhibit
So, what do I wear, then, for a hot summer in the city… when I want to be cool, and look pulled together and polished, but am not keen to bare too much flesh? And how to make these decisions without trying on all my clothes and discarding, in a huge pile on my bed, everything that makes me look too old, or old and trying to look too young, or too puffy in the middle or …. well, you get the idea. 
Well, for me, the answer means having a few key pieces that go with everything. 
New pieces that I’ve shopped carefully for, keeping in mind what looks good on my body and, more importantly, what doesn’t. Like my black Rag and Bone tank top that I bought to take to Paris. As I said above, I don’t usually like tank tops on me. They have to be high in the neck and cut-away in the shoulders. I’ve raved about this one in numerous posts so, enough said… except to say (again) that I love it. 
And old pieces that I still love, and that go with the new ones. And then I rotate the new ones through the old ones.   
Like this. My new black Rag and Bone tank, with new white jeans, bought this spring. For dinner out with the girls. I love black and white.  
black Rag and Bone tank, white NYDJ jeans
Or the Rag and Bone tank with these, more conservative, tan cropped pants from Theory. I bought these in 2012 and they’ve been a summer staple ever since. Ditto these Stuart Weitzman wedge-heeled, brown and black, tortoise-shell sandals. Add my ubiquitous Helmet Lang jacket for when it gets cooler in the evening… great for a fancier dinner out, maybe on Hubby’s birthday. You know, I think I love black and tan, even more than black and white.
black Rag and Bone tank, tan Theory cropped pants, Stuart Weitzman sandals          
black Ragblack Rag and Bone tank, tan Theory cropped pants, Stuart Weitzman sandals, Helmut Lang jacket
Or the same ensemble (minus the jacket and the clutch) for lunch and a stroll through the Byward market on a sunny afternoon. Hence the hat. Or a visit to see the Alex Colville exhibit at the National Gallery, followed by that same stroll through the market. Okay. Truthfully, I haven’t actually worn the hat with this outfit… yet. I came close, then chickened out. It looked good, but just felt a bit costume-y. I’d definitely do the hat, though, if I were going to an outdoor antique fair, say the Merrickville Antique Show later in August. Everyone wears hats to that. Hmmm… I see from this shot that I need to wear a tank top when I’m cycling, instead of my short-sleeved cycling shirt. Despite SPF 50 sun screen, I’ve definitely got a farmer’s tan on my arms. 
black Ragblack Rag and Bone tank, tan Theory cropped pants, Stuart Weitzman sandals
I could also wear my Rag and Bone tank with this black, Elie Tahari pencil skirt from 2010. The loose layers in the top make this look a bit like a flapper dress. I’d wear this for a nice dinner out. Or even to a friend’s wedding later in the summer. 
black Rag and Bone tank, black Elie Tahari pencil skirt, Michael Kors sandals          
Okay, so I’ve all these options, right? The black Rag and Bone tank looks great with…well…everything I own, pretty much. But how to decide which to wear with what and not accrue that enormous pile of discarded clothing on my bed?
This is where blogging comes in. Let me explain. 
When I was working, and I had to think up five outfits to wear every week, I’d get bored wearing the same combinations all the time. So every once in a while, I’d take a couple of hours and try on all my clothes. Looking for new ways to wear the same old stuff, or discovering ways to incorporate new items into my current wardrobe. I didn’t have time to do this often, so I started taking notes on what worked and what didn’t, otherwise I’d forget the new combinations I’d discovered. And I’d pin the list on my bulletin board in my den, so when I was at my desk marking at night, I could glance up at the list and think…”Hmmm, maybe I’ll wear that tomorrow.”  Result… I had new outfit combinations that I knew looked good, and no stress and indecision in the morning. Especially those mornings when I had an early meeting, and had to be out of the house before 7:00 A.M.
Then came retirement, and blogging entered my life. And fashion posts. And no more need for the list. Because pictures work so much better. 
For example, I’m  meeting two friends, Krista and Kristin, for dinner tonight. And undoubtedly while I’m drying my hair and putting on my make-up, I’ll be pondering what to wear. And playing in my head will be an array of pictures that I’ve taken for this blog. 
The black Rag and Bone tank, bien sûr. But with what? The white jeans? Maybe. The tan cropped pants? Too lady-like. The black pencil skirt? Too dressy. Maybe my coral Elie Tahari pants that I wrote about in this post? Or my emerald green cropped jeans from TNT in Toronto, that I showed with a black tee and the Helmut Lang jacket in another post? Nah. Too dark. Those pants are better with loafers than sandals. 
So, you see? Blogging gives me a pre-selected range of outfits from which to choose. And I know from the pictures how I’ll look in each one. No stress summer dressing.
Of course blogging can’t help me with that fact that I can’t wear short shorts anymore, or cropped tops. Actually, I haven’t worn a cropped top since I had an adorable, pink and white striped one (we called them pop tops then) and matching pink and white striped bell bottoms… and I was twelve. Nope. The blog is no help there. 
Time marches on, people. 
And speaking of time marching on. Below is a shot of me and my lovely friend Marina. We had lunch this week at Cafe Mio in Westboro. We ate and laughed and gossiped and laughed some more. Marina and I worked together for almost fourteen years. Fourteen! Ackkk. Hard to believe. I’ll be glad when she retires and we don’t have to wait for the summer to do this.    
And speaking of time… which is definitely still marching on. I’ve got to go do my work-out and then get ready for dinner. Hmmm… I wonder… will it be the white pants or the pink? 
How do you decide what to wear? 





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23 thoughts on “Blogging My Way To Stress Free Dressing”

  1. I love this post. I too find fall and winter outfits pretty easy but really struggle in the summer. I think it's because there seem to be more choices, and many can skew too casual for someone who's still working (fortunately in a business casual environment). I'm going to try an app to keep track of my clothes and outfits, but have yet to put in the up front time with photos. I hope you picked the coral pants – they're my favorite. Have a great evening with your friends.

    1. Ah, thanks. I know what you mean. Sometimes, cool translates into way too casual for a work environment. I'd be interested in hearing how that ap works out. Sounds like a good idea.

  2. Just love that top! I'm still working full-time, so most days it's grab one from Column A, one from Column B of the workwear sections of my closet, and then adding a cardigan or jacket to deal with the office a/c. But yes, I have a few tried-and-true outfits.

    1. Luckily for me even when I was working full-time, I didn't work in the heat of the summer. And air-conditioning means a whole new take on a layered look, doesn't it?

  3. I like all these looks , stylish but not fussy or contrived . Your description of tan pants throws me rather – they look cream to me , but I think our tan is what you call cognac? I've had a look at your home city on the net & it does look lovely
    Wendy in York

    1. Thanks Wendy. Maybe my i-pad bleached the colour of the pants a bit. I think of cream as just a shade short of white. The old English language, eh?

    2. Okay… I just had another look at the shot of those pants, and they do look paler in the picture than in real life. Problem with an amateur photographer taking pictures in in very bright light, I guess.

  4. I love that black top! I too am very particular about tank tops. They need to be not too tight or too loose and hide my bra properly. I rarely find one I like. I would love to see some of your other summer tops.

    1. Thanks Melanie. I have problems with sleeveless tops in general. The cut of some is …well…too middle-aged…especially the arm-holes. And the others are too skimpy. It's rare for me to find one I like.

  5. Sue, I love that tank top: it's elegant but insouciant, perfect for summer in the city and would be gorgeous with your coral pants. I will visit Ottawa from the U.S. in August and definitely go to the Alex Colville exhibition. I love the city and so appreciate your photos. They remind me of all that I miss about my home and native land, and your deft combination of style, book reviews, and travel adventures remind me of the diversity of interests that I find so typical of my Canadian women friends. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Diane. Hope you enjoy the Alex Colville exhibit. It was wonderful. They had all kinds of interesting bits, comparing his art to Alice Munro's short stories, looking at how his work inspired famoud movie shots, videos of interviews etc. I could happily go back and see it again!

  6. Blogging, and the photos, have helped me too:). As have all the readers telling me what they like. Which, I often totally ignore but it's been really helpful to have the feedback! You never wear long dresses?

    1. I've been known to ignore some advice in my time, as well. I remember one post on your blog when readers were exhorting you to wear skinny jeans and you demurred. Long dresses really look terrible on me. I've never found one that I like on me. And since I never try them on now, I'm not likely to.

  7. Such a difference from the lazy summer looks I posted recently — you look so polished, despite the heat, but you still look comfortable. We're doing some city days for the next little while, and you've inspired me to raise the bar a little. Luckily, I won't be dressing for Ottawa heat/humidity!

    1. Thanks, Frances. My tank top is certainly earning its keep. I like summer weather except for those humid days; they are the worst. Bet your little island gets lovely breezes!

  8. I'm like you …definitely a jeans jacket scarf type of girl ..can I say that at 56?!!!! It's such a struggle in high temps especially with added humidity. Travelling with hubby and son who can shower etc and be ready in minutes I find really stressful! I had a meltdown including a good cry similar to the times you described in your last post whilst packing a week ago. Unbelievably I even contemplated staying at home to sort out things I was worrying about instead of three weeks travel in Europe …Inc a few days in Paris. Am I mad!!! 🙂 Reading your blog reassured me I'm not the only one who feels like this at times.
    You look great in all your photos …Enjoy your relaxing summer! By the way congratulations to your hubby who was perceptive enough to suggest going on holiday as soon as you finished work!

  9. Hey Sue, love the blog. After 25 years of hockey parties, I had no idea about how much we have in common. Your reading suggestions are excellent. I read the Goldfinch this summer too, but I had never read Anil's Ghost so I'm working on that now. (My first degree is in Anthro and I earned my living in archaeology one year.). But I digress….you may not like to wear short shorts anymore, but a short summer skirt is one of my standards. They are cool and versatile. And you know, I'm a big believer in the hat.

  10. I'm late to the game here but I do the same thing–play "dress up " every once in a while to see if the combinations that sound good in my head actually look good in real life! I tend to decide on outfits in the shower unless I've experimented lately and am excited to try some new discovery. Great post!

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