Clothes have been sparking joy for me from the time I was a kid creating outfits for my Barbie dolls. That makes me sound a bit like an airhead, doesn’t it? But there we have it. I love clothes. Pulling on an outfit I love, which makes me feel like the best version of myself, has always boosted my confidence and felt, well, joyful.

But, this time of year when I am sick to death of winter, weary of snow and ice, and longing for spring, my winter wardrobe is hard pressed to spark any emotion other than despair. I know that sounds like hyperbole. But despite my best efforts to have fun wearing old stuff I haven’t worn in years, the fun has been short-lived. Don’t get me wrong, pulling those old jackets on felt great. Felt like I had new clothes, without having to schlep out to the mall. Without spending a cent. But, to be honest, that good feeling was fickle and melted away with the arrival of March.

Now I am longing for lightness and colour and sunshine. And spring. But since we still have a ton of snow, and we’re supposed to get more snow later in the week, I cannot abandon my winter clothes just yet. So I’ll settle for adding some colour instead. Like this cheery red Banjo and Matilda coat sweater which I bought at Holt Renfrew back in 2012.

Wearing this Red Banjo and Matilda sweater is sparking joy. Black Vince short-sleeve tee, black faux leather pants from Holt Renfrew, Stuart Weitzman boots.
This old sweater looks great now that it’s been pressed and de-bobbled.

Note: Except for the links to Magpie Jewellery and to Hilary Druxman’s site, all links in this post are affiliate links. I will earn a commission if you click my link and make a purchase.

I’d say this Banjo and Matilda sweater is old, but compared to the jackets I’ve been hauling out of storage this past while, it’s relatively new. Yesterday, I de-bobbled it using my little battery operated fabric shaver that Hubby bought me. And then I pulled it on with my leather pants, my black short-sleeved Vince tee, and black Stuart Weitzman boots. I’m trying the necklace layering thing again today. My silver chain and pendant add just enough interest to the black tee, in my opinion. And are a nice change from a scarf. In fact, this outfit is pretty much what I wore in my post about playing with jewellery, except with the red sweater instead of my camel blazer.

Wearing this Red Banjo and Matilda sweater is sparking joy. Black Vince short-sleeve tee, black faux leather pants from Holt Renfrew, Stuart Weitzman boots, Hilary Druxman necklace.
Vince tee, Holt Renfrew leather pants, Stuart Weitzman boots, Banjo and Matilda sweater, Hilary Druxman pendant from Magpie Jewellery.

My pendant is a sterling silver willow leaf with a tiny twig on a silver chain, from Magpie Jewellery here in Ottawa. I bought it as a retirement gift to myself. It’s a piece by Winnipeg designer Hilary Druxman. You can find my necklace on her site here, as well as lots of other cool jewellery. I love that Magpie promotes Canadian designers. That’s where I buy all my Anne-Marie Chagnon pieces.

Max Mara pink tweed coat, Holt Renfrew scarf, red Banjo and Matilda sweater, black Vince short-sleeve tee, black faux leather pants from Holt Renfrew, Stuart Weitzman boots.
Getting out and about in red and pink and black.

And then, because I wasn’t going to sit around the house after getting all gussied up, I donned my Max Mara tweed coat, and this gauzy, multi-coloured scarf from Holt Renfrew. I bought this scarf in 2012 too. It’s been a boon to my closet ever since. I bought it to pull together my spring coat and my newly purchased gold tote from Michael Kors (similar). But, man, I have worn this scarf with almost everything I own. I take it travelling because it’s warm but not hot, and can work with any colour. Last year in Slovenia and Croatia I wore it with my burgundy Uniqlo vest. And it works with this pink coat, and just as well with the red sweater. This scarf sparks joy for me. Big time. Time after time.

Max Mara pink tweed coat, Holt Renfrew scarf.
Makes me happy how this old scarf goes with everything.

Now let’s have a little chat about the joy of owning a great pair of leather pants, shall we? My leather pants are “vegan leather”, bought at Holts the year I retired in 2013. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll have seen them a million times. They are my go-to going out pant in the fall and winter. I can toughen them up with my Stuart Weizman boots and a heavy sweater, my preferred way to wear them. But I’ve also worn them to Christmas parties with flats, or low-heeled pumps, a silk tank, and a dressy blazer. I was delighted to see that one of the big trends this upcoming season is leather for spring. I’m going to try them with my red loafers and a light jacket come spring. I’ll let you know how that goes.

But what I really wanted to say is that a good pair of faux leather pants is a wise investment in my view. Not cheap, overly-stretchy leggings that make you feel like you’ve been vacuum packed. Ha. But a good quality pair that fit like jeans or pants, and which have a nice soft lining that doesn’t make you think of that awful scene in Friends when Ross got stuck in his pleather pants. Or rather when he hauled them off in his date’s bathroom when he became too hot, and then couldn’t get them back on. My faux leather pants are still soft and supple after years. Are not too shiny, and not too tight. And have served me very well.

I’ve been keeping a list of faux leather pants on my Shop Style site for a while now. Every so often I check to see if I can find pants that meet my requirements and which I feel comfortable recommending. I’ve included a few choices at the bottom of the post. I think it’s a good time of year to take the plunge because almost all of them are on sale.

Max Mara pink tweed coat, Holt Renfrew scarf, red Banjo and Matilda sweater, black Vince short-sleeve tee, black faux leather pants from Holt Renfrew, Stuart Weitzman boots.
Hey, I think I hear a cardinal. Can spring be far behind?

So, it’s been all about sparking a little joy this week for me. That red sweater worked a treat yesterday, and made me feel all springy paired with my pink coat and that beautiful scarf. Then when I ventured outside there was a cardinal singing his heart out in the tree behind our house. That was the icing on the cake. Spring must be around the corner.

And while we’re on the topic of sparking joy. This is my handsome nephew below. Yesterday, he texted me and his mum this photo shot by a friend when they were out and about. He is adorable, don’t you think?

Isn’t he cute?

Just the sight of him sparks joy for me. And makes me remember one weekend he spent with us years ago when his parents were away. At age four, he sucked up information from television nature shows like nobody’s business. And on the drive from their house to our house on the Saturday, he regaled Hubby and me with a litany of facts he’d learned. Very serious the whole time. About beavers, and turkeys, and goodness knows what else. I tried to keep up and make serious comments back. Trust me, I was drawing heavily on my university biology background to do this. My sister Carolyn said that when he came home on Sunday night, he said to her, “You know Mum, Aunt Susie is very knowledgeable.” That always makes me laugh. High praise from a four-year-old.

Here’s a selection of faux leather pants you might be interested in, if you’re interested in leather pants. I tried to find ones that were NOT leggings. And which were good quality at a not exorbitant price. Of course, exorbitant is all in the eye of the beholder. My reasonable price may be outlandish to you, I get that.

Now I must go and help with supper. Roast chicken with tarragon, white wine, and lemon, mashed potatoes, and loads of veggies. We’ve been all about getting our 5-7 servings of fruit and vegetables since Hubby’s heart surgery. Then I think we’ll watch the new episode of Vienna Blood we PVR’d on Sunday night. Anyone else out there watching that program? We’re loving it. Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, and a good murder mystery on television will be sparking joy for us both tonight.

How about you my friends? What are you doing to spark joy this week? Wardrobe-wise or other-wise?

P.S. Except for the links to Magpie Jewellery and to Hilary Druxman’s site, all links in this post are affiliate links. I will earn a commission if you click my link and make a purchase.

Linking up with Catherine at #IWillWearWhatILike and #ShareAllLinkup.


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From the archives


The Long and Short of Personal Style

The long and short of it is, I prefer pants that are a teensy bit longer than the current cropped trend. That's just my personal style.

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I'm taking wardrobe inventory this week. Looking at what I bought in 2019, and assessing how I'm doing in my efforts to be a more ethical shopper.

Five Reasons Why I love Fall

This week I've filmed a video about fall. And the top five things in my closet that I am excited to wear now that fall is here.

41 thoughts on “Red Sweaters and Sparking Joy”

  1. Love the red sweater and necklace layering, plus the scarf is lovely. I will send you some spring from a little farther south – it’s coming, I promise! Also, your nephew is gorgeous; almost as good looking as my sons. πŸ™‚

  2. Still T-shirt and shorts weather here at the moment, but it has cooled down a thousand degrees ( give or take ) since the fires finally died down πŸ˜€ *Rain emoji*

  3. You look great , very cheery in red . That cardy is a lovely shape , not flappy or droopy & fits perfectly . You’ve reminded me that I have a long red cardy jacket tucked away in the loft so up I go . Not that I need it now that we are basking in warmth wearing our summer frocks – all lies , it’s still cold , dreary & muddy here . How nice to have Cardinals telling you spring is on the way . We have Skylarks to do that & yes they are about .
    PS Gorgeous nephew πŸ’—

    1. I can’t abide a droopy sweater. And I was never a fan of the waterfall ones… don’t like flappy either. Hope your red sweater fits nicely under your raincoat, Wendy. I don’t think I’ve even heard a skylark… just read about them in poetry. Especially John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields.”

  4. Wish I could wear red, as I used to but my changing hair and skin tones make me look exsanguinated (which is now a word). Today, to spark the joy, I am wearing my diamonds and emeralds – no point in having fine jewellery and just hiding it away. Yesterday I found an old pair of boots and was delighted that they looked better than ever when I put them on. Today I will go for a brisk couple of dog-walks in what appears to be bright sunshine. Re nephew: those eyes. And it reminded me of days when, on the ten minute walk to school with my children, I would often cover all kinds of natural history questions. The evolution of the dinosaur, all before 8.45am. Practically a paleontologist back then.

    1. I can only wear certain shades of red. But than again, I guess that’s true for most people. Will you be wearing your diamonds with your dog-walking boots?
      Re: Children and my nephew. I love how children suck up knowledge, and can be so very serious in their discussion of it.

      1. I did indeed wear my emeralds and diamonds, despite a huge amount of thick, wet mud and almost getting stuck a couple of times. Diamonds and wellies. It’s the way forward.

  5. The red cardigan looks great on you. I am currently hauling out my winter clothes to pack for a trip to Europe next week. You are sick of winter and I am sick of summer. I never enjoy summer but this summer in Australia really has been awful on so many levels. However, my joy of traveling is somewhat tempered by the spread of the corona virus.

    1. Summer down your way has been awful this year. I can imagine you’ll be glad to escape for a while. But don’t forget to wash your hands!

  6. I grew up with blizzards and snow days, but it was in relatively mild Belgium that I came to hate winter. The sun would rise around 9 and set around 4, and in between there was just a dismal, barely lit gray that sapped one’s soul. I would be sure to take a vacation every February, often near the Sahara, to guarantee sunshine (not nearly as expensive from Belgium as from North America).
    Your outfits look great, but sometimes denying reality is what helps. A staycation with the heat turned up so you can don a sundress. Kind of the sartorial equivalent of eating air-delivered strawberries in mid-winter–a shot of summer and of hope, unsustainable as a long-term strategy but just enough of a momentary lift to get you through until the real thing arrives.
    Good luck!

    1. I know we are lucky to have crisp and often sunny, snowy winter days as compared to the rain and dreariness of other places. I love those days… for a while. At the moment I am so jealous of everyone who is watching flowers come up in their gardens and we’re expecting snow on Friday. I will take your advice and deny for a time. See if it works. πŸ™‚

  7. Lots of delicious things in your post. The pink Max Mara coat, your roast chicken dinner, and of course your gorgeous nephew !
    I’m slowly coming round to the idea of leather ( vegan ) pants. I’ve always had the vision of Ross from Friends in my mind though ! Funny how one scarf can become a go everywhere with anything item, I have a grey and black leopard print scarf in a fine material that gets worn again and again.

    1. I used to wear one bracelet all the time and my friend quipped once that it was my signature piece. I guess it might be the same with scarves.

  8. Mary Katherine

    Don’t you love those workhorse pieces that you wear with everything for years? I always mourn when they finally wear out…I will definately be checking out your links, as I’d LOVE a pair of faux leather pants. Off to check the links now, and indulge in one more look at your nephew – what a dish!

  9. I love your posts, thank you for some ideas for transition dressing. I bought a red linen pullover end of last season, haven’t worn it yet but this gives me an idea to pull it out and try it over some other tops before it gets too warm to wear it! I discovered after I bought it that an Eileen F red tee is perfect under the mesh texture, so I might have to actually wear it now. Here in MN it’ s starting to look like spring but we are probably wise to expect at least another snowstorm or two. Or three! Our guaranteed snow-free time is late May to about late August! Ha!
    This time of year I try to relish the cold weather comforts we will trade soon for heat and humidity: reading by the fire, cold weather comfort foods, etc. Soon all of that will stop till next fall.
    Your meal sounds great, do you ever post recipes?
    Have a great week!

    1. God luck with the layering, Deanne. My red sweater is quite light… perfect for this time of year when it’s still winter but not beastly cold. I don’t usually post recipes. Sometimes write about food adventures though. Maybe I’ll do a post on our favourites. Especially Hubby’s. He’s the more adventurous cook in the house.

  10. Not only is he handsome but wise…knowing his Aunt is knowledgeable at an early age! πŸ˜‰

    I do like the looser fit pants in faux leather as to leggings. Much more forgiving. The Friends episode sound hilarious!!

    I hate to say this, but I’m so tired of my plum, navy wardrobe … I need a different colour injected! I do have scarves but still…

    The bird bath ice melted and the robins were having a hay day! A sight to behold!

  11. Yes, your nephew is cute! What a sweet comment he made about his aunty <3. I'm glad you mentioned your scarf. It's not as cold where I live, but even something about the lightness of a silk scarf around my neck brings me joy–and of course, adding color.

  12. Combination of colours and prints of your scarf and coat is amazing-it looks so fresh and stylish. I love your trousers-I was sure that they were real leather,but even better….they are so versatile. Mine are wider and cropped (not too much,ankle lenght) but are not very flexible …
    Red is a wonderful colour and your nephew a really charming gentleman

  13. So, does your nephew know that he’s responsible for a sudden spike in your stats?;-) He’s very good-looking and sounds as if he appreciates the wisdom of women of a certain age, which is a big point in his favour as well. . . .
    Impressive to see what you can pull out of your closets and still find joy in. Your weather is especially tough because once Spring arrives, the temperature can go up so quickly. Transitional garments aren’t as useful there, I think, as they are here. So you need warmth plus colour/joy/cheer. It doesn’t do any good to buy lighter tops or dresses while there’s still a good chance of Snow and Ice. Whereas here, at least if the unending grey and rain tempts us to purchases a sweet floral-print blouse in light cotton, we can throw a cardi between it and our (rain!) coat and not shiver too much. Hang in there — at least you look fabulous! And Spring really is coming (should reach you by May? )

    1. Ha. I will tell him that. He will love it. You are so right… if I don’t start wearing “transition” outfits now I’ll never wear them. Last year I started with heavy sweaters under my spring coat. Loved that. But it’s still boot weather here… in a very big (or should I say deep) way. Hope you’re feeling a bit better today, Frances. Colds and gloomy weather, not a nice combination. But even worse is when the weather is wonderful and you don’t feel at all wonderful. So it’s a toss up, I guess.

  14. Hi Sue. You have the longest legs in the world, and I’m straight-up jealous. Those pants look spectacular on you. Sick of winter (here in Chicago), too. I’ve enjoyed your blog for years. Love your IG video clips, too!

  15. The outfit is gorgeous, the nephew even more so. He seems to have inherited your fashion savvy.

  16. Pink is, without a doubt, your color! Our summer is your winter here in Texas. Trying to decide where to escape this year…

  17. Your red sweater over black outfit looks gorgeous on you and is exactly the type of outfit I would select…black is my great base colour and love the fact it is so versatile…beautiful and lovely with the red to brighten it. Silver jewellery is a perfect compliment to the black and red colours…a real favourite. Enjoy your nephew’s company and conversation…lovely to have family to share thoughts with whether they are 4 years old or all grown up!

  18. Re Vienna Blood – loved the book and looked forward to the TV series. Sadly, I gave up after the first episode, husband only lasted for the first 30 minutes. A friend said the same.

    If you get the chance to see the new Jane Austen film β€œEmma” I can thoroughly recommend it. A delight from start to finish and the costumes are stupendous.

    1. We weren’t sure we would like it during the first episode. Loved the intro, the music and special effects which remind us so much of the Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch. But it has really grown on us. And the setting is fantastic. Looking forward to the new Emma. Hope it is better than the latest remake of Pride and Prejudice which I thought was not a patch on the A&E 1995 version with Colin Firth.

      1. It is a wonderful remake. My husband came with me as a friend had to cancel and he thoroughly enjoyed it which was a huge shock. If you haven’t seen 1917 – run to a cinema and catch it – wonderful cinematography.

  19. Just reading this post. Yes, getting tired of winter clothes for you is like summer clothes here in Houston area. Already in the low 80’s and it’s not even mid-March! By the end of October I am getting CRANKY with my summer clothes and I have plenty! Nephew is darling. How nice that he keeps you posted. Enjoy your sweaters while you can.

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