I bought a new summer jacket a week or so ago, a classic white blazer by Theory. I imagine it will become a summer staple for me. What my friend Liz calls a “passe-partout,” or a piece that “passes everywhere”, and goes with everything. My friend Marina, the languages teacher, tells me that “passe-partout” can also mean master key. Hmmm. Something that allows me entry to all the doors… or all the outfits in this case.

Trying this white Theory linen jacket with Rag and Bone checked pants, a white Vince tee, and red Earth loafers.
Theory linen jacket, Rag and Bone checked pants, Vince short-sleeve tee, Earth Brand loafers.

You know, I haven’t owned a white summer jacket in years. I have many fond memories of past white jackets. Particularly of a lovely, long-line, double-breasted, cream linen jacket in the eighties. I remember I wore it to my first teaching job that spring with narrow black pants, black flats, and a burgundy and white striped button-down shirt. I felt like a million bucks in that outfit: professional, and polished, and if not yet confident in my abilities in the classroom, at least looking the part. Ha. That jacket also looked fabulous over a grass-green tank and a green and white striped maxi skirt that I bought the first summer I was teaching. In the evening I pulled the jacket on with jeans and sandals to head out for supper or a movie with Hubby, who actually wasn’t my hubby yet.

If I had all those pieces now, I’d probably wear the exact same outfits. Well… minus a couple of feet of shoulder pads in the jacket. And, okay, maybe not the button-down shirt. And I’d probably swap the black patent flats for sneakers. But you get the idea. That eighties jacket was definitely a passe-partout piece. I literally wore it everywhere, with pretty much everything in my closet.

My passe-partout white linen blazer from Theory goes with my checked pants, a white tee and red loafers.
I love navy, white, and red for summer. Especially when I match our deck furniture. Ha.

So, I’m hoping that this Theory white jacket will go everywhere this summer, that it will be the key to a whole lot of great outfits. I tried it first with my checked pants from Rag and Bone, my old white tee from Vince, my red Earth loafers, and the red leather cuff I bought at a stall in Covent Garden in London. I’m thinking the jacket will look great with my black Rag and Bone cropped pants, my black and white striped tee, and my Stan Smith sneakers. Or my black and white striped midi-skirt with a white tee and sneakers. Or just to pull on with jeans, a tee, and flat sandals to head out for supper with Hubby… who, incidentally, will have been my Hubby for thirty years this summer.

Wearing my passe-partout, my white Theory jacket that goes with everything, checked pants and red shoes.
The light was really variable the day I took these shots, subtly changing the colour of my shoes.

You know, come to think of it, I have a plethora of passe-partout pieces in my closet. My black Helmut Lang jacket and my old Burberry denim skirt, to name a couple. Even these checked Rag and Bone pants. Last fall I wore them with my Akris burgundy turtleneck and my burgundy loafers, and now they are marching into spring. They’ve been to book club with a black sweatshirt and black loafers, as well as to lunch with a friend. I bought them at the Nordstrom Black Friday sale last November. They are winter weight, but I remember Liz saying that they’d be good for spring too. Yep. You were right again, my friend.

Dull rainy day with the river in the distance, a wet deck and wet red deck chair.
Dull, rainy day yesterday. A good day to curl up with a book and a blanket.

In fact, I was all ready to wear my white jacket with my loafers and checked pants to go shopping yesterday. I’m on the hunt for summer sandals and a new summer bag. But rain, wind, more rain, and the beginnings of a head cold made me reconsider. I had no timelines to meet, no appointments to keep, and no plans to reschedule. So I hunkered down with my blankie and a book instead. That, my friends, is one of the great joys of retirement… choosing to be sick if one wants.

Of course I didn’t choose to feel like death yesterday morning. But I did choose NOT to push myself to carry out my plans. And that IS one of the joys of being retired. No waking up at five, testing whether I’m sick enough to warrant all the palaver and hassle of taking a day off work. No need to dig deep to find the energy to go to work anyway because of plans that could not be rescheduled. Sigh. Just putting the kettle on and going back to bed with tea and a book. I wrote about the joys of being sick when I first retired. Funnily enough, it’s the favourite post of a few of my old colleagues.

So, whatever sandals and bags I might have found yesterday will have to wait until next week. And the benefit is I can delay the pleasure of wearing my new jacket for the first time. Delayed gratification being the very best gratification, in my view. Especially since last night, following my tea with lemon and honey, I drifted off to sleep with visions of white jackets in my head. Hugging to myself the thought of a brand new outfit sitting in my closet yet to be worn.

As if I were thirteen again… instead of almost sixty-three.

What outfit visions have danced in your head these days, my friends? Any passe-partout pieces that will go anywhere, and with everything?

P.S. Affiliate links in this post will generate a commission for me if you buy something after clicking on my link. Thanks for that, by the way.

Linking up this week with: Visible Monday#IwillwearwhatIlikeThursday Favourite Things#ShareAllLinkup


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From the archives


Black Friday: Just a Blip on the Radar?

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All Alone. And Loving It.

The house is quiet this morning. Really quiet. Except for a few creaks. The birds chirping in the backyard. A lawnmower starting somewhere over the river. And the sounds of my keyboard clicking. Hubby is away all week canoeing and fishing in the wilds of Algonquin Park. And I’m here playing Greta Garbo…. “I want to be alone.” And loving it. Not “alone and palely loitering” like that poor knight in John Keats’ poem “La Belle Dame Sans Merci.” More like Henry David Thoreau’s kind of alone. Except Hubby’s the one in the woods. It’s amazing how many literary and media references ...

26 thoughts on “Passe-Partout Please”

  1. Ah. You have reminded me of two jackets I owned and loved and wore till they fell to bits. 1978 a cream linen/cotton which I think I bought from Top Shop or Miss Selfridge. I adored this. And a beauty I bought in 1979 – not sure where from now – which was cream and double-breasted and went absolutely anywhere. I am pretty certain I held onto this well into the 80s. And now I recall a cheapo white cotton jacket I bought in 1981, perfect for summer. My best of all was a navy blazer, wool, lined and totally wonderful to wear – from M&S – which went everywhere – Greek island, family weddings, work – for years. I really should buy another. There is no doubt that a smasher of a jacket puts a skip in the step.

    1. I love how the department stores used to call themselves names that would appeal to the “younger set”, like Miss Selfridge. I remember shopping at a store called “Teenager and Career Fashion” in Fredericton back in the day. Ha. Now the youngin’s would turn their noses up at anything so uncool. But I guess we would too if a shop called itself “Fashion for Retired Gentlewomen” or “Old But Still Kickin'” or something.

  2. Wendy from York

    My favourite summer jacket is white too but very different to your nice tailored one . It’s a really heavy cotton denim in a sort of utility style . A bargain from the local Margaret Howell discount shop , it was on the men’s rail & had very long sleeves but a clever tailor sorted that for me . I like it with my paprika sweatshirt & navy or dark green chinos but as you say there are so many possibilities with white .

    1. Your utility jacket sounds like the real deal. And Margaret Howell no less. You’ve had very good luck at that discount MH shop. Next time I’m in York….

  3. Hi. I think that is the first white blazer that I’ve seen that does not make the wearer look like she is in a lab coat. That’s the problem I always find when I’ve gone looking for a white jacket. Well done! I am sure that you will get a lot of wear out of it!

    1. I’m hoping that I get a lot of wear out of it. Must remember to take it off in a restaurant, though. Or bring a garbage bag with a hole in it to put over my head.

  4. Dancing in my head are visions of a navy blazer. I’ve done some internet scoping to identify some stores to visit IRL. I’m looking for natural fibres, single breasted and something that will add warmth and elevate my favourite jeans and boots outfits. You look great in your white blazer, and those black and white pants suit you very well. I love the pops of red too. Congratulations on your approaching anniversary. We celebrated our 30th last Monday with a fancy lunch and a visit to the area where we had our reception – lots of fun.

    1. Congratulations on your anniversary as well. I’m not sure what we’ll do on the day. But there is our trip to Croatia later in the year, and as Hubby says, “What more do I want?”

  5. I too, have a white Theory blazer. I treat it like a denim jacket and put it over everything. Its only negative is that the white is perishable and can yellow and wilt over a couple of seasons. I continually scout for its replacement. One more thing, you may be a retired teacher, but I love that I learned the word “palaver” this morning!

    1. I really like Theory, have for years. Their pants always fit me, and their pieces are always well made. Ha. I laughed out loud at that palaver comment. I love that word. Just seems so apt for situations which require way too much maneuvering, and rushing around.

  6. You look fabulous in that jacket, Sue!
    I always admire women in beautiful white, coats/jackets, but I’m like “Pigpen” from Charlie Brown… dirt, mud, tomato sauce or red wine anywhere in the vicinity will magnetically find it’s way to my clothes!
    Is there a trick to successfully wearing white jackets?

    1. Thanks, Donna. I have to remember NOT to eat red pasta sauce when I’m wearing it. Or anything actually. I am a magnet for food when I’m out. Maybe I’ll invest in one of those rubber capes they use at the hairdresser.

  7. I suspect you have more “passe-partout” wardrobe pieces than you think. Your style (to me) is classic (without being stuffy in any way), which you carry off beautifully. And classic pieces are more likely to be “passe-partout” in their dress up-dress down versatility.

    I don’t think I have any such pieces these days, though in previous years I had a go-to black top and jacket that could be dressed up or down and used year round. I think I finally wore them about after about eight years!

    Wish I still had them… I’d be wearing them “partout” for sure!

  8. I love that you expressed the delight in anticipating an outfit yet to be worn. I too have that feeling of looking forward to a chance to put together a planned new outfit for a day or evening out, imagining how I will feel in it – I think those are the times we feel at our most confident when we are on or first outing in an outfit that feels comfortable and put together and that we feel really good in, and all our usual insecurities disappear. It might seem trivial but it can set the scene for an unfailingly successful day as ridiculous as that may seem!

    1. I know. Dreaming of a lovely new outfit that I know looks great feels just as enjoyable now as it did when I was a teenager.

  9. A beautiful white blazer that will add interest and style to a variety of outfit….such fun to create plans for new combinations using existing pieces. You will certainly get much wear and enjoyment from this new item. I recently purchased a white denim jacket…different for me as I don’t wear blue jeans. But styled with slim black pants and a black summer weight turtleneck it just feels right for this time of the year. Like you I am already planning how to use it with other pieces in the wardrobe as spring warms up into summer time temperatures.

  10. I completely agree with Liz and you,your white linen blazer is beautiful,classic piece
    I have one completely unlined (so very light summer piece) from Seventy,italian brand
    Linen is one of my favourite summer materials,I like the feel and natural fibres and don’t mind the crumple-it is the part of the game,can’t remember when I have been without even one piece of trousers,suits , blazers or linen dresses during summer

    1. I will try to restrain myself from ironing my new linen pieces too much. I have a friend who embraces the crumple and looks great. Me I just feel as if I’ve slept in my clothes. I think I was scarred in my youth by too much “pressing” as we used to call it.

  11. There is something about a new outfit that is quite pleasurable. I just recently bought an over the door hook that I place on my armoire door. Now when I’m going someplace I hang the outfit on the hook where I can see it. It makes me feel so organized. I wish I had done that when I was working. And new outfits to me can be things I already have but put together in a different combination. I love to shop my closet. You have inspired me with some of your combinations and I just ordered those red loafers and score, they’re on sale. I hope they fit.

  12. I’m not very brave about wearing white anything but I have a new white jacket with a black window pane check that is proving to be popular this season. Your white jacket is very stylish and looks like a great investment.
    It sounds like you’re basking in your retirement. I’m a few years away from that and can’t imagine having so much spare time. Reading a book all day long is one of my fantasies!
    Have a super week x

    1. Only when I’m sick though, do I read ALL day. Bu-ut there is that cup of tea after lunch and a half hour with my book that I revel in….on days when I’m at home. And I do get to build my own schedule. I make sure I have at least two days each week where I’m home and have the time to go for my long walk, read after lunch… and catch up on housework.

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