I know that I talk a lot about wearing what I own. About shopping my closet and trying to stay reasonably excited to wear what’s in there. But in the dead of winter, this is hard. Harder than at any other time of year. No matter how much inspiration I glean from Pinterest, or my favourite fashion or shopping sites, turning fashion inspiration into reality in winter is not easy. That’s because there’s fashion reality, and then there’s winter fashion reality.
Of course, turning our fashion inspiration into reality is always limited by what we have in our closet. But winter throws extra constraints into the mix. I can’t put into play many of the styling tricks I employ at other times of the year. I mean, how many times have I used white sneakers to make a look more casual or lighten up an all dark outfit? Too many to count. But sneakers are no go in the snow. Ha. When we have to don boots and a warm coat and scarf, our choices are more limited. And we have to devise different ways to play with our clothes and achieve what we want. Turning inspiration into winter fashion reality takes way more effort. And patience.
So this week I had a go at trying to turn a few of the looks which I had on my Pinterest board (see above) into a reasonable sort of winter-appropriate outfit reality. I want to try to get more wear out of my tan wide-leg dress pants. I have a favourite look for them in the summer: black flat sandals, black belt, fitted black tank top. Or in spring: sneakers, white tee, and a white blazer. But they’re harder to style in winter. I envisioned trying them with my chocolate-brown, suede pointy-toed Prada boots with the small heel. The boots looked great with the pants. But I had nothing appropriate to wear on top.
So I switched to my tall black boots which have a slightly more pointed toe than my chunky ankle boots. And added my black crew-neck cashmere sweater and a black belt. This looked okay, if a bit predictable. But my horse stumbled on the next hurdle. The coat and scarf challenge. See above.
My long black down coat looked dreadful with the dress pants. I’ve worn the coat and scarf here with my chunky ankle boots and my faux-leather pants and it looked great. But the combo above does NOT work for me. I could have tried another scarf. And the outfit would be okay if I needed to battle the cold and snow on the way to a bus stop to go to work. The coat would be warm, and I could take it off as soon as I arrived at work. Then the pants and sweater would look good on their own. Simple, and I’m okay with simple.
But I don’t go to work anymore, and I wanted an outfit that would stay intact throughout the day. I’d probably be wearing it shopping, getting in and out of the car several times over the course of an afternoon. The short down jacket would be better. Easier to lug around the mall. And the white would be brighter against my face. Then I had the big idea to match the scarf to the pants and not the sweater, and I hauled out this tan, cream, and burgundy double-sided scarf. I was amazed at how it did not look terrible next to my face. I’d more or less given up on beige and tan when I stopped colouring my hair.
Wow. This look was a pleasant surprise. I love this scarf. And I’d never thought to try it with these pants. It looks great with the black sweater, and the jacket, and the mix of browns and tans works perfectly with the pants. I’m so pleased with this outfit. And pleased that I persevered and did not give up at the first hurdle.
Emboldened by my success, I tried for a new skirt outfit. I do not get enough wear out of my faux-leather skirt. And inspired by the Pinterest images swimming in my head, I began. I kept the cashmere crew and the black boots on, and swapped the pants for the black skirt. Plus winter tights under the skirt. Ha.
Inspired by a couple of Pinterest images, I rustled up this silk neckerchief out of a storage drawer. And I added pearl stud earrings. I rarely wear my pearls. But the edginess of the faux-leather skirt makes me more comfortable wearing earrings as conservative as these.
Then to make the whole thing more casual I added my denim jacket. And a black and rhinestone vintage brooch to tie in with the cream and black of the scarf.
I’m excited about this look. I love it. Especially with the flat boots which, besides being easy to walk in, make the outfit more casual. And work against the classic elements of the outfit to keep them from being too classic and conservative. I feel as if this outfit works with two of my three style words which were classic, modern, and minimal. Definitely classic (silk scarf, pleated skirt, pearl earrings) and modern (the faux leather, and maybe even the denim jacket, although jean jackets are pretty classic too.) But not minimal.
In fact, my friends, I’ve been questioning the choice of my third word ever since I posted about my three words last fall. Perhaps casual would be a better word for me than minimal. When I think about many of the styling choices that I use to make an outfit feel more like me, I realize that they also usually serve to make it more casual. Then again when I review why I decided on minimal as one of my words I can see why I chose it. I hate ruffles or anything frou-frou, I’m not feminine or boho, I often add jewellry and take it off again as being “too much.” Maybe I can just be all four words. And really, who cares whether I choose three or four? Right?
Now the challenge, once I have an indoor outfit with which I am happy, is to spin this into an outdoor look that I love just as much. Winter can easily throw a monkey wrench into our plans to wear jackets. We all know the discomfort of squeezing a blazer or jacket under a winter coat and feeling virtually unable to bend our arms. Or even move. Ha. But what if we have recently purchased a very roomy winter coat? Huh? A coat which is roomy enough to accommodate the jacket. Something like my prized Max Mara coat? Let’s see, shall we?
You knew where this was going, didn’t you? I have to confess that I did not start to build this outfit with the idea of the green coat in mind. But I love it with the skirt and boots. And the print scarf. I tried a small black cross-body bag with the outfit first. But it was too dark. Too boring. I think this Kate Spade black and cream summer bag bought back in 2014 picks up on the cream of the scarf, and the black of the skirt, and makes the whole look more fun.
Maybe, as someone said in the comments when I first posted about this coat, green really IS a neutral.
So, I’m pretty happy with the two new outfits I cobbled together from what was in my closet. With a bit of help from Pinterest. What is so cool about pinning outfit ideas is we don’t have to take them literally. We don’t have to choose to wear exactly what the woman is wearing in the photo we’ve pinned. Although we can do this if we want. But we can also use the photos as “guidelines.” A list of ideas about proportion, or colour combinations, or maybe even a reminder to wear that silk neckerchief we always forget we have. A collection of ideas that inspire us to dig into our closets.
Now that I think about it, that’s what you can do when you read this post. At least, that’s what I hope you do when you read my fashion posts, my wittering on about what’s in my closet, and what I might do with what I already own. I hope that it starts you thinking of what you have in your closet. And how you might turn fashion inspiration into reality.
What’s your biggest challenge, my friends, when it comes to winter dressing? Do you struggle to turn inspiration into reality?
P.S. Here are a few affiliate links to pieces I mention in my post. Or as close as I can get if the item is no longer available.
Everlane cashmere crew in black, here in other colours on sale. Paige jean jacket. Brown Fossil bag. A more refined version of my Kate Spade top-handle bag. Faux leather pleated skirts here, here, and here. Max Mara coat. Lots of lovely silk scarves on Etsy at various price points. And if you like to shop second-hand here’s a page of vintage Max Mara coats on Etsy.
And here are non-affiliate links to pieces I own:
P.P.S. If you make a purchase after clicking on an affiliate link, I will earn a commission which helps to pay for the blog. Links to Uniqlo and Aritzia are not affiliate links but are provided as a courtesy.