Talking About Clothes with Krista

You know I love to talk about clothes. And about fashion in general. I love to read about clothes, look at pictures of clothes, and research and plan what clothes I need or don’t need. And I adore talking about all of this with anyone who will listen. My friend Krista loves to talk about clothes as much as I do. Okay, maybe not quite as much as me… but a lot. And that’s what we did one afternoon and evening last week. We spent hours and hours talking about clothes. And we had a blast.

Woman wearing black pants fro Lisette, bright arty top, and black Valentino shoes standing by a stone wall in the Byward Market area of Ottawa.
Krista’s still rocking a pair of gorgeous shoes.
photo by Krista McNamara

I met Krista McNamara when she was a young teacher and I was the English and Languages department head at John McCrae Secondary School. We met in the principal’s office for her job interview for a position in my department. Diane, my principal, and I were bowled over by her energy, her enthusiasm, and her creative ideas. While Diane dutifully took notes, which is what we’re supposed to do during interviews, I kept thinking: “I want to be a kid in her class. Please, please let’s hire her.”

After Krista had left the room, I looked at Diane and said exactly that. Then I commented on her gorgeous burgundy pumps. Diane laughed, and, lowering her voice in case someone might hear and her reputation as a stickler for protocol might be blown out of the water, she said, “And her matching bag.” Then we both chortled. So Krista came to work in our school, and the utterly false rumour that you had to wear great shoes to get into the English department at JMSS was born.

Valentio shoes in the Byward Market.
Valentino’s of course.
photo by Krista McNamara

I’ve been wanting to introduce you to Krista for a while now. I thought you might like to hear what other women who love fashion (but who aren’t me) have to say about clothes. Women who are smart, dynamic, and who aren’t twenty anymore. Krista is definitely smart and dynamic. And she has wonderful style.

One trait we share is being slightly anal about how we organize our wardrobes. That’s one of the things we talked about the other night, the strategies we each use to build and edit a wardrobe that works for us. You know what I do because I’ve written about it so many times.

Krista says that for several years she has made anecdotal notes about her wardrobe at the end of each season. So, twice a year, she divides the pieces in her closet up into categories: tops, pants etc. Then for each category she writes her observations for the season: what worked, what didn’t, pieces she particularly enjoyed wearing, and what she needs to consider for the next year. Just like me, she has a little book where she keeps all her notes. And before she shops again for that season she goes back over her notes from the previous year.

For the last few seasons she has kept a purchase list as she shops throughout the year. She notes what she bought, where she bought it, and how much she paid for it. She can look back at purchases for previous seasons and see how much she spent, if she still likes the piece, or even if she still has it. That’s brave, I think. I total up the number of pieces I buy each year to see if I can keep it under 25 or so. But I haven’t been able to bring myself to keep a numerical value of how much I spend. Krista says having all this information down in black and white helps her to avoid wasting her money. And to avoid waste period.

Krista has such an outgoing, effervescent personality you’d never guess that she has a hidden analytical side, that she’s so self-disciplined, so good at keeping herself on track. But both qualities are what made her such a good classroom teacher, and help to make her a good principal now.

Last week when Krista and I met in the Byward Market area of Ottawa for our photo session, we found a quiet courtyard with a photogenic stone wall, some cool street art, and a convenient bench. The sun was just beginning to go down, and the tourists were thinning out. Krista had brought her tripod and her camera. We yakked as we moved the tripod around. Even chatting to a couple of cycle cops who pedalled by. Curious, they’d stopped as Krista was peering through her lens at the blank stone wall. “What are you doing?” one asked. We both jumped, and Krista said, “Are we not allowed to do this?” Ever the teachers, we were worried about breaking some arcane bylaw by photographing a wall. Ha.

But they only wondered “why photograph a wall?” “Oh we’ll move into the shot eventually. We’re taking photos of our outfits,” Krista said airily. “For a blog,” I added, as if I did this kind of thing every day. As if I weren’t too shy and embarrassed to drag my own tripod downtown and take photos on my own. Funnily enough, that evening I was utterly oblivious to the passers-by. Some looked at us curiously. Others just smiled hello and moved on. You know, I may have to try this more often. Maybe after five years of doing this blog it’s time I grew out of my impostor syndrome.

Woman sitting on a bench in the Byward Market, wearing black tank from Dominica Maazur, and black pants from Lisette.
With her colouring and those gorgeous natural streaks, Krista looks awesome in all black.
photo by Krista McNamara

After we had exhausted the photographic possibilities of the courtyard, and were exhausted ourselves, we decamped to a cool restaurant for dinner and continued talking about clothes. I asked Krista whether getting older has changed how she dresses, or how she looks at clothes. She says that it hasn’t really. Except, now in her mid-forties, she doesn’t make as many “stupid purchases.” She says that she understands her “relationship to [her] clothing” better. Better than when she was younger. And better than many of her friends.

She attributes some of this to the program I mentioned in my last post, Dressing Your Truth. A friend had recommended it, and when Krista explored the website she found she fit the “type four” category. Words like bold, striking, efficient, and analytical seem to aptly describe her, she says. She doesn’t follow the program slavishly; it’s not the be all and end all. “It’s just one more tool,” she says. “And it helped me understand why I’m so picky about my clothes.”

Woman in orange top from Eileen Fisher and flowered pants from Peck and Peck, standing by a black door.
Krista loves bold colours for the summer. Top by Eileen Fisher and pants by Peck and Peck.
photo by Krista McNamara

As we moved on from the fish and chips (two east coast girls are gonna have fish for supper!) to coffee, I asked Krista to describe what she loves about clothes. Simplicity is important, she says. She hates bobbles and do-dads on her bags, obvious hardware, tassels. And she likes structure. Me too, Krista, me too. She likes elegance but with a certain amount of energy, with flow. And nothing too eccentric, or boho. Krista says her biggest style challenge is that she needs both “structure or refinement, and flow.” And it’s tough to find that particular sweet spot in one garment. Like all successful professional women, Krista pays a lot of attention to how she dresses for work. How she presents herself to students, colleagues, and parents. She needs to be approachable, yet professional. And modern.

Woman in orange top from Eileen Fisher, and white hat standing against a brick wall.
This photo should be an ad for Kodak.
photo by Krista McNamara

Krista and I had a great evening together. Good food and a glass of wine. Lots of laughs, and even a close call with the coppers. Ha. I remember laughing when she pulled those Valentino shoes out of her bag. She’d not been wearing them when she arrived. Of course she would be packing a pair of gorgeous shoes. Isn’t that how we met? She laughed when I mentioned the old story of her interview and the rumour about shoes and the JMSS English department, saying that she’d “completed her story arc.” Yep. We’ve come full circle. Not that the story is over. Friendship is, after all, a continuing saga.

two women sitting on steps in front of a green door. White Theory jacket, yellow theory pants, Stan Smith Adidas, black pants from Lisette, and black tank from Dominica Maazur.
I’m tired. Me too. Let’s go for dinner now. K.
photo by Krista McNamara

Krista asked me to give a shout out to one of her favourite stores. A small independent boutique in Carleton Place, about 50 km from Ottawa, called The Dress Shop. That’s where she bought her Lisette cropped pants, above, with the silver button detail on the leg. And the black tank. The tank is by Dominica Maazur who owns The Dress Shop and is the in-house designer. I spent a few minutes this afternoon on the Dress Shop website, and I think I am definitely going to make a day trip out to Carleton Place.

You know, working with Krista on this post has made me think it’s time I branched out a bit more bravely with my own photos. Carleton Place is a lovely old town on the Mississippi River, not that one, the other Mississippi. It has lots of photogenic stone walls. Maybe I’ll pack my tripod and a pair of great shoes for my day out. I’ll let you know how that works out.

You can find more of Krista’s photos on her Instagram account White Streak Black Dog.

Now it’s your turn my friends. Are you a talker when it comes to fashion? Do you regale your friends with what you’re wearing, what you’re shopping for, and why? Or maybe you’re more of a quiet listener? Or does the whole talking about clothes thing bore you rigid? Come on, you can tell us.

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34 thoughts on “Talking About Clothes with Krista”

  1. What a fun idea for a blogpost! I’d love to see this become a series, but it’s possible you have a limited number of friends willing to stand against walls in front of tripods🤣. Off I go now to check out Krista’s IG feed…

    1. Ha. Krista is a great sport. I am thinking of doing a series with different people. Some of them will be surprised when I ask them but will say: “Hell yes. I think it’ll be fun.” Some will be shyer, and may demur. That’s okay, too.

  2. The shoe rumour was true. Heels in the winter? Not really my thing Sue.
    And talking fashion? Maybe. But it’s more about the money I saved on certain items or to race about a label that’s not super known. Fidgi shoes anyone? I do like shoes though, as long as they’re flat 😊

    1. I remember the new pumps you wore for your interview. Ha. Warned by my friend in whose department you were already working. The sacrifices we make to get a job, eh?

  3. This post was so timely! I was just lamenting to my sister yesterday that I am currently without a nearby friend to sit and chat fashion. Virtual chatting does not seem to suffice. I am an August birthday, and back in the day, I requested the back to fall issue of Seventeen magazine every birthday. It was a thick, yummy volume of ideas for me to digest over and over as I planned my “looks” for the upcoming school year. I was a tall, skinny, curly headed girl who longed to be Peggy Lipton of The Mod Squad fame, and could never be. But I could dream, plan and babysit my way to the clothes I believed might get me there! In truth, i am still that same girl, just absent the babysitting gigs.

  4. I love talking about clothes and thinking about clothes. Not so much tracking what I buy – but I’m working on that! My Krista friends all live in other states, so when we do get together it’s a marathon. Krista is a knockout and clearly owns her look. I will be checking out her IG. I enjoy all your posts but especially loved this one.

  5. There are many pics on the net of bloggers posing in their latest outfits & they can pall after a while . The difference here is your personal touch . It’s there for your own pics & here it’s as if we are meeting one of your friends . Krista looks full of energy & fun . You can just tell she would be good company . I’ve checked out her Instagram & she is a great photographer too . Wish I could have joined you .

    1. Thanks, Wendy. I never aimed to be all about the outfits, without the conversation. Krista is a great photographer. Many of her shots on IG were taken when she travelled back to Newfoundland where her family is from.

  6. Love clothes, thinking about them, planning outfits, perusing my wardrobe, not buying much any more ! One of the best ideas to come out of favourite blogs is “shop your closet “!
    I’m also lucky to have my best friend, Mary, who loves clothes too, and though we live far away from each other, when we get together we catch up ! I actually don’t know anyone else who is so mad about clothes. Or who would understand why anyone would hold onto such a huge collection of fashion magazines.

    1. I love to shop my closet too. When I retired I invited several young teachers to come and shop my closet, and I gave away a lot of my business wear. I had pulled pieces that I knew I’d never wear now that I wasn’t working. And we had tea and muffins and they tried on my clothes. That was a fun afternoon.

  7. Clothes chat: I do, a bit. But mostly in my head and on my Pinterest pages. Plus, I read Vogue online because I like to see what is being developed even though the chances of me wearing it are vague. I do, however, have a friend like yours who always looks great. She popped by this week on a hot, hot day and breezed in looking exactly right in white and black and silver and blue. She too has natural streaks of grey which really suit her. Today, after a very hot and unsettling week here in UK, I am wearing lazy black shorts, my husband’s Gap top and my white, cheapo summer fake Burkenstocks because it is cool and grey and rainy. It would take gunpoint to get me out of monochromes, I fear.

    1. I use Pinterest too. And Vogue, although less than I used to. I can imagine it’s not just the weather that is unsettling for you this past week. 🙁

  8. I love this post! You and Krista are so full of energy and good vibes (and shoes….)-wonderful stories and photos…even the both names for your blog and her IG are so good
    I love clothes,love to plan,talk about it with a friend or two,who are very posh,but I prefer to buy alone,keeping all my purchases,and their prices (and not only clothes..) in my notebook(s) for years….

  9. Awesome photos! Thanks Sue and Krista. Wish I was more committed to clothes and looks. I’m afraid I am very laissez-faire, and most of my casual shopping is dictated by price, sales, and when I have a moment to go look. 🙁 But recently, I have made a commitment to look in second-hand shops first, to minimize environmental impact. I have recently learned about the carbon footprint of cotton, and clothing, and so am reacting to that. How fun to see you two together enjoying yourselves! Krista – if you ever need a new VP?…… XO

    1. Have you visited Fiona Johnston’s shop, Frock Exchange, in Kanata? I pop in every once in a while. And have taken jackets and things there to resell.
      P.S. Congrats on the VP thing. 🙂

  10. I enjoyed meeting Krista and you tell a good yarn! I’m less analytical about clothes than you or your friend. I think about what I might need at the start of a season but it’s more intuitive, like my black sandals need replacing or a navy jacket might lift some existing pieces and create more outfit options. I think if I wrote stuff down I would be alarmed by the cost of it all 😂 I do go through my wardrobe twice a year to reorganise it so I have a good idea of what I have, which helps me avoid overbuying. And I’m a stickler for quality fabric and decent workmanship, both of which keep getting harder to find.

    1. I’m usually a stickler for quality pieces as well. There’s a good video on Justine Leconte’s channel on You Tube about quality pieces. I found it interesting, all about seams and how the fabric is cut etc.

  11. What a fun post! It sounds like you and Krista had a wonderful evening that I would have enjoyed as well, perhaps in part because I’m a retired educator. I find that I enjoy organizing my wardrobe and am spending more time analyzing it as I research how to dress for my somewhat “apple” shape. I’m also still trying to find my ideal retirement wardrobe three years after I’ve retired!

    1. I hear you about the apple shape. And as I get even more apple-y it gets harder. That sounds like a good title for a post “My Ideal Retirement Wardrobe.” 🙂

      1. Yes! Yes! Yes! I’m still so attracted to the kind of items that I wore while teaching for 37 years. I keep forgetting that I don’t have to “dress” five days a week and that my lifestyle is much more casual now. Old habits are hard to break!

  12. Great post and photos! I could talk incessantly about clothes and fashion, however most of my friends don’t LOVE it the way I do! However many are happy to receive my castoffs. So I’m constantly reading articles, blogs etc. Fortunately, I have other interests such as food, books and textiles so I chat incessantly to friends about these instead! I love your blog Sue!

    1. Thanks. Susan. I could bore the socks off most of my friends with talk of clothes and fashion. That’s why I yak to you guys on the blog.

    1. Just texted Krista. She says she bought her sandals at Value Vilage but doesn’t have them with her on vacation, and she can’t remember the brand. I can get it to you at a later date, tough.

  13. I love this post and the great photos! Like you, I’ve been shy about taking photos for my blog in public spaces. Consequently, most of them are taken in our house or yard which is pretty boring. My husband is my photographer, so I wouldn’t even have to pack my tripod to go further afield. I just need to get up the courage.

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