When I am feeling sad, or worried, or confused about life in general, closet therapy always makes me feel better. A good closet rummage, to try out new ideas for how to get dressed or to play with outfit formulas I’ve read about, takes my mind off my troubles. Makes me happier. Makes me feel more in control of my closet. And, perhaps, more in control of my own life, if not the wider world.
So even though trying on a bunch of outfits can’t alleviate the suffering of people in other parts of the world where the situation is dire, or help a friend who is having health issues, or change the fact that Mum won’t be able to see her flowers this summer, or read that book which I’ve just discovered and which I know she’d love, it can help me regain my equanimity. Closet therapy is a great distraction. And as a bonus helps me plan when I might wear in the upcoming days.
I love outfit formulas. And often use them as a basis for my closet therapy. I was reminded of this when I read a post on Preston Davis’ blog Keep it Chic the other day. In her post Preston commented on two women she had seen recently wearing blazers, flats, and jeans. Preston said that with this outfit formula these women had “nailed transitional dressing.” My first thought was that jeans and flats with a blazer has been a go-to look for me for years. Just not one that I’ve worn lately.
So Preston’s post started me thinking about a closet rummage. About outfit formulas for what to wear in the upcoming few weeks before summer sets in. About whether I will continue my heretofore fruitless search for an oversized blazer. And about how I might play with the flats I have in my closet. At least some of the ones I did not play with in my Spring Shopping Process video.
Here’s what I came up with in my Thursday closet rummage for perfect “transitional dressing” à la Preston Davis.
Outfit #1 is very vintage-y. Consisting of an 8-year old pair of Citizens of Humanity skinny jeans, Stuart Weitzman patent loafers from 2014, an oversized striped blue and white shirt from Nordstrom Signature, and my very old Max Mara jacket circa 1998. I dug the jeans out of my storage drawer because it dawned on me that although skinny, the legs are not skin tight, and at the bottom might even be mistaken for a narrow straight-leg. Plus the faded wash looks great with the blue shirt. I like this outfit, although next time I may decide to try a white tee or tank under the shirt.
The blue chandelier earrings are almost vintage. I bought them back in the late nineties. The turquoise ring is real vintage, bought at an antique show years ago, and resized to fit me. The first jeweller I took the ring to refused to resize it, saying that it might make the stones pop out of the ring if he cut it down so many sizes. I wear a 4.5 ring size. I’m glad the second jeweller I consulted was not so picky. I didn’t buy the ring to have it sit unworn, and I was willing to take the risk.
When it comes to accessories, I really should try harder to wear what I own. Even though I have only a few rings besides my engagement and wedding rings, I almost never wear them. I’m going to try to change that this season. Along with wearing different bracelets, not just my ubiquitous vintage silver chain. Actually keeping on a necklace when I try it, instead of trying it and taking it off. And changing up my bags more often.
Outfit #2 is not as vintage-y as Outfit #1. My Levis 511 jeans and white Theory blazer are comparatively new. As are the Vejas sneakers and the grey All Saints cross-body bag. The black and white ALC striped tee shirt is pretty old, though. I bought it back in 2015. My black and white bow-shaped brooch is vintage.
I thought the brooch helped pull the striped tee and the white jacket together a bit better. I tried my black Mackage cross-body bag with this outfit first, but it was too stark against all the lightness of the rest of the outfit. I like the grey bag better.
Outfit #2 is my least favourite of the outfits I tried. Mostly this has to do with the fit and fabric of the old tee shirt. It’s too long, and very heavy. It needs to be tucked in but doesn’t drape or blouse nicely over the top of my jeans. I may add a new striped tee shirt to my seasonal shopping list.
Outfit #3 is super, super simple. And is really an excuse to style my Tod’s driving shoes that I mentioned in a previous post. These were pricey, and bought with the Holt Renfrew gift certificate that my friends gave me at my surprise retirement dinner back in January 2013.
I love these Tod’s shoes. They are made from buttery soft leather. And I keep them all wrapped up in their dust-bag in the box they came in… as if I’m saving them. But for what?
I’m wearing my Tod’s shoes with my old Citizens of Humanity jeans, a sky-blue Everlane boxy tee, my linen Max Mara blazer from spring 1998. And the straw Eric Javits bag I bought back in 2019.
I like this outfit. Mostly because it looks so unplanned. As if I just pulled on a pair of jeans and a tee shirt, and threw a jacket over it. Which I did. Ha. I didn’t think the blue shirt under the tan jacket would work. But it does. And I thought the absence of brightness near my face or lack of any pop of colour would put me off, but it doesn’t.
Outfit #4 is a variation of Outfit #3. I swapped the blue tee for a white one in the same style, and tied this old yellow and white striped sweater around my shoulders for added colour. I don’t wear the yellow sweater these days because too much yellow around my face is not a good look on me anymore. But I kept it for just this purpose. To be worn more as a scarf than a sweater. The white stripes on the sleeve work well with the white tee shirt. And the yellow brightens up the tan jacket.
I’m happy with this outfit. In fact I think it’s my favourite of the day. And it gives me an occasion to haul out this old Michael Kors tote bag. I haven’t been using this bag much since I bought my Eric Javits straw tote. And even though the gold bag, the yellow sweater, and the two colours of tan in the jacket and shoes are all different shades… I think as a combination it works. Less matchy-matchy, more haphazard, almost-matching-but-not-really-and-who-cares. I need more of that almost-matching-but-not-really-and-who-cares vibe in my life. All of us recovering perfectionists do.
So that’s the result of my closet therapy this week, folks. Some of the outfits were more successful than others. But this WAS just playing around. Overall, I think the “jeans, flats, blazer” outfit formula works. But then again, it’s always worked for me. Albeit with certain modifications according to my changing style… and my changing body. These days I prefer the structured jacket worn over an outfit the rest of which is predominantly more casual and looser than I would have worn in the past.
The jacket in a way acts as what Amy Smilovic would call a “style antonym.” The structured, slightly dressier, classic blazer keeps the very casual outfit from being too casual. In fact I like to think of Amy’s idea of style antonyms as a kind of outfit formula. One that I usually put into play even if I don’t realize that’s what I’m doing until afterward when I analyze why I like an outfit.
You know, this post has confirmed a couple of things for me. I won’t be continuing to look for an oversized blazer. I don’t need one. And those Tod’s driving shoes fulfill my quest for new flats. They are soft and narrow and a perfect substitute for the ballet flats that I was considering. My spring shopping list is becoming whittled down. Two items removed. And one item purchased. I bought a new pair of black dress pants back in April. I’ll share those with you in my next fashion post.
Outfit formulas are fun I think. Fun to play around with when one is having a closet rummage. But not to be adhered to religiously. That’s the same for any fashion rule, don’t you think?
I will say that playing with outfit formulas and having a good old closet rummage is a form of therapy for me. Closet therapy.
Playing in my closet always lightens my mood. I guess I never outgrew playing Barbies. As a kid I’d become so immersed in dressing my dolls, fashioning new outfits, using homemade pieces made with my scissors and needle and thread and some scraps of cotton left after Mum had made one or two new summer dresses for herself, that the world would fall away. I guess I’m still like that.
I’m laughing as I read that last paragraph. It’s pretty funny that as a kid I loved to make clothes for my Barbies, and as an adult I ended up hating sewing with a passion. I wrote a post a while ago all about my sewing career. You can read it here if you’re interested.
So, that’s it for me this week. Thanks so much for all the wonderfully supportive comments on my last post. My sister read them too. What a lovely community of women we have become, my friends.
P.S. Below are links to pieces I’ve worn in this post. And links to pieces which are similar to mine, and which I like as much as the ones I own.
Outfit #1 Citizens of Humanity jeans, Max Mara black blazer (There’s a great black blazer from J. Crew here), Nordstrom Signature striped shirt (similar here and here), Stuart Weitzman classic loafers.
P.P.S. The clothing links above are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking my link I will earn a commission which helps to pay for the blog.