I am pumped this week, my friends, and ready to get out and about. Most of my friends have been double vaccinated, and Ontario (at least where I live) has moved into stage two of reopening. I am getting patio ready. I’m planning a rash of patio lunches and dinners and coffee meet-ups. And I am excited.

Honestly, I feel like I did when I was still teaching. School was done. Exams were all marked, marks calculated, report cards finished, planning meetings for the next year over, all the timetabling and room allocations done, budgets approved, books ordered for next year, classrooms emptied, desk cleared. Phew. Then exhausted I would head out with Hubby for a week of camping. This time away was necessary for me. A time to collapse, cry, mope around, worry about getting fat, and otherwise be a pain in the neck. Then I’d read my book, cycle, fish, and gradually come back to normal. Once we were home I could look forward to the rest of my summer.

That’s what I am doing this week, looking forward to the rest of the summer. So after sending a flurry of emails and texts the other day, to arrange meet-ups, I decided to see if I could conjure some new patio ready outfit ideas. Combining the old with the new, my favourite outfit planning strategy. Actually I’m combining the new and the not quite new, with the old, and really old. I do not age discriminate in my wardrobe.

One of the reasons I bought three new tank tops (black, white, and striped) from Everlane a few weeks ago was to be able to wear them with clothes I already own. Like tee shirts, tank tops are basics for summer wear, for me. And it’s been a few years since I’ve been able to find the cut-away style that I like. The black tank top is so I don’t ruin my lovely black silk top that I’ve had since 2015. I tried it with my black shorts in a post last week. I also bought a white tank, and this navy and white striped one below.

The new striped tank looks good with my old Max Mara wide-leg pants, part of my navy summer suit from 2002. The cream Michael Kors sandals were an end-of-season sale purchase from 2019, the Michael Kors cream cross-body bag was purchased back when I was still working, definitely pre-2012, and the V-neck Vince cashmere sweater is from spring 2020. The cream and silver cuff is vintage, and the navy and silver earrings were purchased in Peru in 2017. So… new, almost new, older, and really old.

Patio ready dinner outfit. Max Mara navy trousers, Everlane tank, Vince sweater, Michael Kors bag and sandals.
New striped Everlane tank, with older, and really old pieces.

One of the main tenants of Elizabeth Cline’s fashion philosophy, as I’m learning from her book The Conscious Closet, is that we can have fun with fashion, indulge our love of clothes, and still be kind to the planet. Or at least learn to be kinder to the planet. Part of Cline’s book deals with what she calls “The Art of Less.” To quote Vivienne Westwood, we need to learn to “Buy less. Choose well.” And “Make it last.” Those ladies are singing my song.

Part of choosing well when you’re shopping, in my opinion, is knowing what is in your closet and what still fits you. It’s also identifying, before you go shopping, those pieces that you still love and will wear again this season. And part of having pieces that you hang onto, and wear year after year, is buying quality pieces to start with. Or at least the best quality you can afford. And then finding ways to keep wearing these pieces year after year.

My navy Max Mara summer suit was a quality purchase. One that I am happy I made. But a quality purchase that has been problematic for me is the Theory crochet sweater below. I love a cream or white cotton sweater for summer. But I’ve had trouble styling the square, cropped style of this sweater.

However, since I decided to wear it as an accessory, I’ve had much better luck. I’ve worn it tied around my waist with my white linen muscle shirt from Vince, my navy Burberry denim skirt, and my sneakers. I’ve worn it draped around my shoulders with the same linen tee, sneakers, and my black and white striped midi-skirt from A.L.C. or with my Frame straight-leg jeans, cream Michael Kors sandals and light blue short-sleeve tee from Everlane. (I wrote about those outfits here and here.) Now that I’ve changed my mind-set about that sweater, I don’t angst about it anymore. And it’s become a valuable part of my summer wardrobe. Funny, eh?

Patio ready lunch outfit. Max Mara navy trousers, Everlane tank, Theory crochet sweater, Michael Kors bag and sandals
Outfit #2 with cream Theory sweater instead of Vince sweater.

I like the Max Mara pants and navy and white striped tank just as much with the cream crochet sweater as I did with the navy Vince sweater. Although this might be a better lunch outfit than dinner. If it gets cool in the evening, I’ll be able to pull on the loose-fitting V-neck Vince sweater over the tank. Not so with the cream one. I tried and it looks silly.

Patio ready lunch outfit. Max Mara navy trousers, Everlane tank, Theory crochet sweater, Michael Kors bag and sandals
Outfit #2 is definitely a day-time look.

Of course, I can wear my new white Everlane tank with my old Max Mara suit and my sneakers. This combination is a no-brainer. This is how I’ve been styling my old suit since I had the pants altered to fit my expanding waistline a couple of years ago. You know, I love this outfit even more now that my hair is white. I’d wear this to tea at the Chateau Laurier.

A patio ready outfit, navy Max Mara pantsuit and white tank with white sneakers.
New white Everlane tank, old navy Max Mara suit.

In her book Elizabeth Cline dedicates a whole chapter to the idea of shopping for quality clothing. She calls it “upping your quality game.” That means developing the ability to recognize quality garments when we see them. Cline makes all kinds of suggestions on how to develop an eye, and a feel, for quality. She says to look at our own clothes. Identify which pieces have stood the test of time and wear, and find quality vintage pieces, if we can. Then “study the fabric and the way these garments are put together to understand why” they have lasted.

Then Cline suggests shopping field trips. Expeditions where we go out into the stores, lots of stores, and look at clothes. This is the part that really appealed to me. Cline says: “Go on a try-on trip and try on the best and the worst clothing, from the softest merino wool to the coarsest polyester in shops as wide-ranging as luxury chains to dollar stores. It’s through comparison that differences in quality become clear.” We may not all become experts on fabric and design, but once we’ve seen and tried on quality pieces, Cline believes that we’ll begin to recognize the difference.

Of course not all expensive pieces are well made. Quality in many brands, even expensive ones, is slipping. And not everything made by fast fashion brands is inferior. But I think you’ll find that most really cheap pieces will be poor quality. Maybe if we all try Cline’s strategy, we will find ourselves opting for a better quality garment instead of necessarily gravitating to fast, disposable fashion.

I know in many ways, I’m preaching to the converted with you guys. But I just love to read and talk about fashion philosophy. And wardrobe planning. It makes my shallow little heart sing.

And speaking of making my heart sing, I love the earrings I’m wearing below. I bought them at an artisan shop outside of Cusco in Peru in 2017. They’re silver and lapis lazuli. The spiral design represents Pachamama or mother earth. I bought them to remind me of the wonderful trip we had that year. Sigh. I usually buy a piece of jewellry when we travel. I have a lovely pearl from Broome in Australia, jade earrings from New Zealand the shape of which symbolizes friendship or love in the Maori culture, and a glass mosaic pendant from the island of Murano in Venice. Wearing these pieces over the years reminds me of the joy of travel. And wearing them this past year reminds me of our incredible good fortune in being able to travel at all.

These earrings are silver and lapis lazuli from Peru.

I’ll tell you what also makes my heart sing… being able to wear favourite pieces from my wardrobe year after year. Or stashing a piece for a couple of years, only to bring it out again and be right on trend. That always makes me feel as if I’m outsmarting the fashion system.

So I have lots of outfits planned now. I think I’m ready for the onslaught of lunch and dinner and coffee dates I will have in the next while. Or hope I will have in the next while. I’ll have to pace myself, people. I don’t want to burn out from too much socializing. Ha.

Over to you, my fashionable friends. Are you patio ready? What quality pieces from your closet will you be wearing again this summer? Pieces that you love and which have stood the test of time. Maybe you’ve purchased a couple of new pieces to make your older classic pieces more current? Or maybe you’ve bought that one perfect summer dress just to liven things up. Do tell us. We love to hear what closet alterations or additions you’ve made.

P.S. There are affiliate links in this post. If you make a purchase after clicking my link I will earn a commission.


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From the archives


A Passion for Books About Fashion

I have a passion for fashion, and for books written about fashion. They can be memoirs or novels. As long as they are about fashion.

Books To Survive Winter. Maybe

I am currently too under the weather to write a post today, my friends. My cold has returned, with the added benefit of a killer sinus infection. Hopefully the antibiotic the doctor gave me on Wednesday will clear that up. But, when all is said and done I am sick, sick, sick of being sick. So after Hubby and I do some stuff with booking our Africa trip (I’ll tell you about that next week), and after I finish updating this post, I’m off back to bed.    If you’re a long time reader you may have seen this book ...

Three Words That Define My Personal Style

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28 thoughts on “Getting Patio Ready”

  1. When I saw your heading I thought we were going to have a gardening post ! I should have known better . I’m so glad the vaccinations are going well over there & you are able to socialise again . I’m no extrovert but those first meet ups with close friends & family were such a happy experience . We appreciated each other’s company so much . As usual you’ve made your outfits look effortlessly good . Those earrings are lovely . Much of my jewelry began as holiday souvenirs too which perhaps makes them sound tacky but I love the work of small local craftsmen or more usually women . There’s the large pebble Max found in a sea cave in Cornwall which my favourite jeweller in Scotland worked into a pendant . I love a beautiful pebble . My latest buy is a small silver pendant from a craft gallery in Wales , made by an amateur in a local jewelry class & wrapped for me by her husband . It’s unusual & even unique .
    Enjoy your summer get togethers .

    1. Because you know if it was a gardening post someone must be impersonating me. Ha. I love pebbles too. I have a small collection, and have stopped picking them up when we are away because now I can’t remember where the ones I have are from. I was a bit like Lucy in “The Long, Long Trailer” except with smaller rocks. Hope you are staying safe. The full-on opening that your Prime Minister just announced sounds worrying to me. I don’t understand why masks are not still required on public transport etc. etc.

      1. Yes , you’re right it’s a gamble . We’ll be watching the effects of the new regulations . Just because that twerp says we can do things doesn’t mean WE will do them . We’ll make our own decisions & do whatever it takes to stay as safe as possible . It’s what we’ve done all along . You stay safe too .

  2. Hi Sue, it sounds as though your Summer has definitely brightened up! I was “jump up and down” excited when meeting friends for those first few outdoor occasions 🤣
    It all feels so wonderful and very much appreciated. Enjoy yours!
    These outfits all work so well … glad you’ve found a role for your Theory jumper.
    Your Everlane tanks look to be a great shape and definitely more stylish then the usual basic tank or cami style. I love your Peruvian earrings too … so pretty 😍 Lovely that they evoke happy travel memories too.
    Reflecting on your question… I’ve been somewhat stressed over wedding outfits again lol! I say this in the pleural sense as when my son and daughter-in-law to be, had to reschedule from last year, their church and venue weren’t available on the same day. So all the celebrations are over a few days, which of course will be wonderful but requires a few outfits …
    Other than this I’ve bought a couple of new looser dresses in cotton which tick the cool, stylish ( I think!) and loose boxes, being cotton and linen. Otherwise I’m pretty much wearing clothes bought over the years with the occasional new top … oh and a couple of pairs of new espadrilles!
    I can’t resist espadrilles… always comfy, stylish and timeless. I remember wearing a pair when we met for lunch 😃 When you wore a gorgeous black silk sleeveless top and a gorgeous two tone, black and cream bag which I’m sure I’ve seen on a recent post.
    Thanks for another great post Sue …
    I hope the sun shines on all your outings!
    Rosie xxx

    1. I remember you had on lovely sandals when we met in Ottawa. And a blue linen top. I wonder if the fact that we remember so clearly what others are wearing is a form of reverse dementia. Can’t forget clothes. Ha. Although dementia and Alzheimer’s is no joke at all as my sister well knows. Her husband has Alzheimer’s.

  3. Oops apologies, popped in gorgeous re your bag without proof reading … still you did look gorgeous and gorgeous! 🤣
    Rosie xx

  4. Once upon a time, I had a black,white,tweed suit that I bought to go to college. well if went to colledge, graduated, spent 5 years in the military, moved to florida ed, and was given way. And I missed it. Have not read the book yet, but the beauty of old and dear clothes is that you know exactly what they can and can’t do. How to accessorize them,etc. No brainer! When they have passed on, it takes lots of time to replace that outfit,like adjusting to new friend. One know what the hem is right for you. The other pieces that will go with it,etc. earrings,etc. I can related to this. By the way, Cute picture at the beginning of the log. You still have that same intense look!

  5. Oh, the travel pieces. Every major trip we take, I find a new piece of jewellery to remind me of the great time we had. Needless to say I am falling behing in my collection, and not sure when to expect the next one. I have been wearing many of them these past months just for the memories. I love those lapis ones from Peru. As for the patio outings, we live close to the area still in step 1 and most of my friends are not able to do the patio dining and so on, so there is another friend that I am trying to convince to meet up for face to face catching up. See how that goes. We are fully vaccinated as well and I am ready to take those baby steps back to normal. Do enjoy all your get togethers with friends and whatever you wear, you look polished and put together.

  6. Sue,you are completely, gorgeous,patio ready! You look so good in wide trousers,it only took some time for you to adjust to the change from skinny trousers,I think! Older Max Mara clothes were supreme quality!
    I’m reading The Conscious Closet,too and think that we are doing really fine,buying less,choosing well,making it last….
    She writes about C&A and their Cradle to Cradle certificate-it is one of the brands that I’ve spotted (in a mall near me) with their organic cotton tees and jeans (and a lot of noncertified,cheap things,as well)
    I’ve started with patio lunch (yesterday) in Le Bistro Esplanade and concerts(last Saturday) ,slowly and carefully. It is so nice to see people (vaccinated :)) again and wear dresses…..I didn’t shop a lot this year at all,only necessary things,mosty replacements….and one dress!
    Patio coffee this morning:wide black silk trousers and polka dot black and white t-shirt
    Lovely earings,great way to make memories
    Enjoy your patio social events,you look great!

      1. Actually,Frances,I’ve had a glass of prosecco instead ;)! Reason to celebrate indeed! And you know that we go out with friends for a coffee and than drink juice,wine or beer! Or coffee….

    1. I have been marking pages in the book to be able to share on the blog. So good to be able to find a brand in person that has been recommended. I’m with Frances, that polka dot tee must have looked great with your silk trousers.

  7. You’ve posted some great looks, you’re definitely Looking gorgeous and ready to host and get out! I have that same Vince cashmere v neck sweater, never thought about adding it as an accessory as you have here. Pinned it so I remember that it’s not strictly for winter, although it’s hotter than blazes here now. I also added the book to my request list for the library, probably a quick read.
    Hope you enjoy those meetings after all the time apart!

    1. I always packed my cashmere away until last year when I started keeping light sweaters out to wear on cooler days in spring and summer.

  8. Is cut-away style a more open shoulder? Do you prefer cream purses to white? Have you ever done a post on choosing swim wear? I do not sew and I don’t know that I would be especially good at knowing a quality made item. Enjoy your visits you look great!

    1. Thanks, Pat. Yes. A cutaway tee shirt is cut deeper in the shoulders and often has a racer back. I do prefer cream to white and have only written about the horror of swim suit shopping. Gad. I hate shopping for swim suits.

  9. You always look so polished but you also always look very approachable. I admire this so much about your style, although I don’t know that I’ve ever quite recognized before this post that it’s exactly that balance that I love. Sometimes elegance or “chicness” appears cultivated with an eye to establishing or maintaining status, but yours seems to arise authentically from your genuine enthusiasm for fashion and style. Your look welcomes rather than establishes boundaries. I’m talking off the top of my head right now, thinking out loud, so I hope this makes sense. xoxo (wish I could be at one of those patios! 😉 hopping off to get my second vaccination in a couple of hours — YAY!

  10. I continue to pare down my closet, especially, those items I simply do not feel my best in. It’s a challenge especially when that item is top quality. I’m enjoying your posts and pick up tips on outfits each time you post. I will get the book you’ve referenced and hope to pare down even more.

    1. Thanks, Karen. I get a lot of tips for styling things on Instagram. Especially my older pieces that I’m not ready to part with yet.

  11. I have a blazer from, I’d guess, the 90’s that’s in beautiful condition and is the rather boxy, longer shape I see everywhere now. I’ve never been able to part with it, just haven’t felt like I can wear it and pull off that current look. Such a fine line between wanting to appear youthful but not as if one is trying too hard to recapture one’s younger days. You manage the former so beautifully!

    1. Wear that blazer, Sarah. Wear it with something that you feel really comfortable in like a pair of jeans and a casual tee. A classic blazer wouldn’t look as if you’re trying to look younger at all. IMO.

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