My Secret for the Perfect Blazer & a Blue Blazer Cage Match

I admit it, that title is a bit dramatic.  But since I’ve already used “A Tale of Two Blazers,” I went with it.  Also, it’s not really a cage match as I right now I plan to keep both of my new finds (below)… but depending on which I reach for more, one may eventually win a permanent place in my closet.

First, though, let’s start with my revelation vis-a-vis the perfect blazer. After many false starts and fitting-room frowns, I realized that I like lapels that are long and narrow, not wide and curvy:

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Love the tweed, though!

In general I prefer a silhouette without a lot of curve.  My blouses tend to be a little loose, not fitted, so they can fall in a straight-ish line from my shoulders to hips.  I don’t do form-fitting on the bottom, either – my go-to pant is slim, not skinny. Even my sheath dresses, which do follow the form of my body, don’t do much curving – because I ain’t got a lotta curves.

And I already knew I didn’t like jackets with too much of an hourglass shape.  So I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out that a key part of my loving a blazer is having lapels that elongate my look instead of adding width/curve.  This “aha” moment made it that much easier to flip through a rack of blazers and sift out good candidates.

I got a chance to put this epiphany into action last week while thrifting for a special occasion dress. You may recall that I was not happy with my navy wool blazer of yore because it picked up every fuzzy lint ball and stray cat hair and when I washed it (THAT was dumb) it didn’t reform back to the silhouette I liked.

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So I was on the lookout for a replacement blue blazer – and found two.

The first was this navy number by Charlotte Russe:

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Please ignore horrid yellow lighting.

The inverted lapels are unexpected and create that long line I love.  The decorative buttons are a great detail and in a nice neutral palette, and the permanently scrunched sleeves at my favorite length mean I can look chic without having to shove them up my arms all the time.

Since Charlotte Russe is super fast fashion, I am skeptical about how this will hold up.  Surprisingly, though, it is much less rumpled than most of the unlined jackets I find in thrift stores, even from significantly higher pricepoints.   I actually like the fact that it’s unlined as it makes a nice finishing layer without adding a ton of bulk/warmth, since I tend to wear blazers in spring/fall when a fully lined wool jacket in Atlanta = sweat.

 

The next day I found this medium blue baby by H&M:

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I LOVE the color – it’s hard to find blue blazers that aren’t navy (and often a severe shade of it).  I also love the ponte fabric and the satin-y finish on the top line of the pockets.  I’m a little iffy on the pointiness of the lapel notch and the topstitch detail, but the long/lean line is in effect and that’s what I value most.  The fit also runs nicely along my torso.

I was *not* in love with the large silver buttons (I don’t wear silver jewelry and the tops ones hit right at bust level), so I removed them.  You can see where they were stitched on; it’s not as obvious when I’m wearing it and the ponte may bounce back over time.  I’m definitely going to sew a button back on to the only non-decorative spot in the middle; if the other spots are still noticeable in a week or two I’ll find some gold/bronze buttons and resew them as well.

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Obviously H&M is also fast fashion.  I’ve noticed that as far as blazers go, people tend to hold onto well made ones and not donate them ’til they’ve gone out of style (which is why you lots of blazers from the 80s and 90s at the thrift store).  Most often cuts and styles that feel more current are of the fast fashion variety because it’s a lot easier to donate something that cost you $30 vs. $200.  There are occasional exceptions but I’m not holding my breath to find them.  I’ll keep you updated on how these two hold up.

 

What do you think of my finds and my impromptu blazer surgery?  What’s most important to you in a blazer or a jacket? Scroll down to comment!

 

A Structured Dress Coat; or, in Which I Take a Page from the Duchess of Cambridge

Catherine is a big fan of the coat dress, or the dress coat (sometimes it’s not clear which is which):

images 02 Nov 2011 - Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge visits the UNICEF Supply Division Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark Kate-Middleton-243783
Source, sourcesource.

I had never entertained the thought of wearing such a garment myself until a super-soft, structured number by Tahari by Arthur S. Levine jumped off the coat rack section and into my hands all by itself.  I loved its sleek, tailored lines and the drama of the collar:

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Check out the contrast stitching and those chic pockets:
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My first thought was “this is a great piece and it would look great on someone else who wears coat dress/dress coats.”

My second thought was, “Why can’t *I* be that person?”

So into the dressing room it went!  A la the Duchess of Cambridge, I think it works well over dresses, either open or closed:

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This will be great for scarves, I can see it now.

It makes a more dressed up, grown up alternative to a long cardigan, and nips in just a touch at the waist:

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Here it is with a fun plaid scarf I picked up:

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I’ve learned from experience (and other bloggers) that adding an outside-your-comfort-zone piece to your wardrobe is best done when it’s paired with other favorites and it’s inside your comfort zone in some other way – e.g. the color matches your palette, it’s a familiar cut, etc.  So it helped that this dress coat was a gentle shade of navy (color palette – check) and that it looked great with the dressy corduroys and neutral top I was wearing (plays well with wardrobe staples – check).  It made it easy to focus on the fresh vibe this new silhouette added to by repertoire instead of trying to imagine whether it would work.

Here it is on its first official engagement (yes, on yet another thrifting expedition):

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Sleek, no?  Chic, feminine, Dr. Who-esque, yes?  

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Metallic top: Pull & Bear, thrifted
Dress coat: Tahari by Arthur S. Levine, thrifted
Cream corduroys: Lauren by Ralph Lauren, thrifted & tailored

Socks: Target, retail
Shoes: hand-me-downs from my mother-in-law, repainted
Necklace: DIY from Goodwill finds

I rate this outside-my-style-comfort-zone experiment a success.  What do you think?  When have you gone outside your style comfort zone and had it work?  When not?  Scroll down to share!

 

My Style Icons

My style ranges from drapey cardigans over skinny pants to vintage dresses to oversized Liz Claiborne sweaters.

But if I were to describe my *ideal* personal style with an equation featuring stylish people of the world, it would look like this:

1/2 Inès de la Fressange + 1/2 Nicola Sturgeon + a dash of Luke Spiller.

Expressed visually, this would be:

style iconsSource; Source; Source

Let’s take a closer look at each piece of the pie.

 

Inès de la Fressange – Gentlewoman Chic

Model/businesswoman/muse/author Inès de la Fressange exemplifies the feminine side of gentlewoman chic with her fitted blazers, trim trousers, bold blouses, and always a touch of funk – see those two-toned shoes peeking out from underneath her pants?  And I count at least 3 patterns in this ensemble, maybe 4:

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Let’s admire the bold contrast here between the yellow and the monochrome jacket, with the whole look pulled together by that playful, yet ascot-like scarf.  And that superbly cut blazer!

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Also, brava to another poster child of gentlewoman chic, Garance Doré, for that incredible photo. Source

 

My take:
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Nicola Sturgeon – Stylin’ Power Dresses

Leading up to her election as first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon started working with an Edinburgh dress boutique to create a wardrobe of solid-color sheath dresses with unique twists – what the boutique owners call “a soft power look” (check out the NY Times article on her wardrobe here – and then we can all talk about the politics of how women’s dress and physical appearance affect their electability as public servants):

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Shoulders!  She has this one in at least 3 colors – source

…for example, in orange:

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Hello asymmetrical neckline and slit on the side:

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Bonus: the completely fabulous, satin-y contrasting lapel on this blazer – that’s some edge, woman!  Theresa May, take note. (Or not.  Since, you know, how stylish or chic you look ≠ your ability to govern.)

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My take:

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While I do love a good plain dress for its versatility and the great canvas it makes for accessories, I really thrill to dresses like Nicola’s and the one above with its unexpected neckline and sassy gold chains.  Right now it’s the only one in my closet that fits the bill, as most of the rest of my dresses are solid-color and plain.  But here’s a throwback to a couple I loved that had to be sent on due to pilling:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

Ahh, back when I did bathroom selfies.  Good times.

 

Luke Spiller – Glam Rock

Luke looks, sings, and moves like the love child of Freddie Mercury and Mick Jagger.  I’ve already blogged about his style here; suffice it to say that his boldly metallic, besequined allure is called to mind every time I spot a glitzy top I should say no to.

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My take:

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And… last week I found these exact pants I had long ago regretted not thrifting and I bought ’em without even trying them on.  They’re amazing:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

Now to figure out where to wear them.

 

Who are your style icons?  Could be someone you know personally, a character in a movie or book (illustrations help), or a public persona.   Keep in mind that it’s not about emulating someone else’s look to a T, but rather helping you define your own style.

If you’ve never tried to figure it out before, I encourage you to give it a go.   Once you’ve identified a person or two or three, ask yourself: what is it about their sartorial presentation that sets your heart aflutter? How do they exemplify what you love to wear?  I’m willing to bet it’ll help you sharpen your own aesthetic.  Scroll down to share your thoughts!

 

Gentlewoman Chic

You may have heard the terms “garçonne” and “modern gentlewoman” – most recently popularized by Navaz Batliwalla in her book The New Garçonne: How to be a Modern Gentlewoman. (Review here and interview here.)

The French word garçonne translates as “tomboy,” while the “new” or “modern” part of the equation refers to the grownup aesthetic involved. Instead of ball caps, ringer tees, and Chucks, we’re talking fedoras, menswear-inspired blazers, and brogues:

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I’ve noticed that women who are drawn to the gentlewoman look pay an incredible amount of attention to quality and detail.  And no wonder – menswear, well done, is a feast of texture, pattern, and line all in a pleasingly balanced structure. Looking at the above photos, particularly those from Kelly’s blog Alterations Needed, has me itching to collect more perfectly cut blazers (like this one), sumptuously textured fabrics, and sleek flats. I might even pull my grandpa’s fedoras off the hooks on my bedroom wall where they hang as heirloom decor.

Although I wear my fair share of dresses (and am not afraid of a skirt in summer), I frequently borrow a page or two from menswear, though not as nattily as the women pictured above:

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What is your take on the “modern gentlewoman” look or garçonne chic? Have you read the book? Scroll down to comment.

 

Preacher Style

In the comments section of my reader survey, someone asked me to write about this:

“Your evolving style as a preacher AND fashion lover. I’ve always loved clothes but I went through a very conservative ‘modesty’ phase back in the 90’s (think covered up shapeless, long denim dresses) and looked frumpy most of the time. Even my husband didn’t like it. Ugh, what can I say but that I felt convicted at the time. It took many years before I was able to dress myself with freedom. I’m curious about your personal experience :) ”

I love this topic – thanks for asking about something I wouldn’t have thought of writing about on my own!

Let’s start with a story:

One memorable attempt at dressing to preach involved a navy shift dress in something silk-like with half-rolled short sleeves and stripes of color along the bottom – pink, orange, red, green, and white, maybe? – in varying widths.  I felt desperately chic in it, especially since it was a thrift score and thus proved one could dress stylishly secondhand.  I was so enamored of it that I refused to recognize (despite my mom’s warning) that it was too short and wore it to my home church to guest preach.
50761908This gives you the general feel.  Source

My high school French teacher and mentor – Madame, we call her – came to hear me preach, and as folks gathered for worship, I greeted her in the pew before turning around and bending over the next pew to kiss the cheek of one of the elderly church ladies who have loved on me since I was a toddler.  A perilous move, turns out.

Madame shrieked my name (at a moderate volume) and when I turned around, the look on her face was one of complete mortification; though this happened several years ago, I can recall exactly how high her eyebrows shot up.  “Leah, that dress is REALLY short!” she exclaimed. I still wonder exactly how much she saw, but I have never had the guts to inquire.

By then it was too late to do anything about it – the prelude was starting and I was leading most of the service and in any case I didn’t just happen to have a backup dress hanging up in the narthex.  Calling to mind the lesson imparted by another mentor who once chided me for failing to network at an advocacy event because I had felt self-consciously underdressed, wearing flip flops and a billowy summer skirt in a crowd of suits, I took a deep breath and went for it.

But why was this such a problem, you might be thinking, since preaching doesn’t involve turning around and bending over backwards in front of the congregation? (Now THAT’S a visual.)  Well, friends, you have not thought through the logistics of giving a children’s sermon while sitting on the chancel floor in the shortest shift known to humanity and trying to angle your sidesaddled knees such that your confirmation sponsor, jr. high social studies teacher, mother, and the parents of the kids you babysat for years don’t see your underwear, all while wrangling preschoolers who don’t really want to sit still while you tell a story.  Let’s just say I have a lot of sympathy for Lindsay Lohan and anyone else who’s accidentally flashed the paps.

 

Although I have a mad amount of respect for people who dress in a way that expresses their faith, dress has never been a way I’ve expressed my own faith. (This directly correlates to my liberal Christian upbringing and current progressive Christian faith.)   In grad school, when a classmate took on a nine month modesty project – head covered, shoulders covered, knees covered, no makeup, no pants – to see how it affected her sense of self and her relationship with God, I felt no impulse to experiment with the same.

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Me, dressed in shorts to lead worship next to Lauren doing her modesty thing at the time.

Neither has dress ever been a way that spiritual authority figures in my life have tried to moralize or shame me, which does often happen with clothing choices (particularly for girls and women).  For that I am profoundly grateful – in my book shame and religion shouldn’t mix.

That being said, I did grow up with parents who had some ideas about what constituted appropriate church clothes – particularly a mom who was not happy with anything too tight, too short, or too midriff baring.  I chafed against this (literally?) in junior high and high school, but a few years into adulthood I sort of naturally grew out of spaghetti straps and skintight glitter pants, and the memory of my mom’s chastisement softened into helpful parameters: if something pulls, it’s too tight; if something rides up all the time, it’s too short, etc. etc.

As the story above illustrates, though, I didn’t grow out of more “risqué” (my mom’s word) dressing all at once. As I began to dress less casually in my work life, the too-short-shift experience helped redraw the line for me about clothes for leading worship as well.  If it’s cute/trendy/chic but makes me feel distracted from or self-conscious about the task at hand, I’ll save it for the dance floor, not the pulpit.  If it passes the get-on-the-floor-and-play-with-kids test (dress/skirt hems) along with the raise-your-hands-high-to-give-the-benediction test (that one’s for midriffs) and the crouch-down-to-rescue-the-fallen-hymnal test (visible crack for pants), we’re good.

As for level of formality?  I have seen so many people shunned for what they wore (or failed to wear) to worship that I would rather dress down to help people feel welcome than impose rules on what is respectful enough for a house of faith.  I was raised in a wear-your-best-to-church environment, but I’ve also pastored an informal church start and a homeless community, so I learned a long time ago that you can worship God no matter how formal, groomed, or skin-showing you are.

Casual style from my new church plant days:

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I figure God doesn’t really care, but on the flip side, I understand that people do.  A lot of folks were raised to believe that the way you dress for worship shows respect for God. That’s why, practically speaking, I wear a) what makes me feel comfortable and b) what shows general respect for my parishioners’ sensibilities but c) nothing too fancy so as not to make less formally dressed people feel uncomfortable.  (This is also why I breastfed in church but often in the back pew.  I assume not everyone is comfortable with nursing in public.)

Reflecting the surroundings, I started off like this in my current church:

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Until I realized that all the other women in the congregation, save one, wore pants:

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Then we moved to a less formal space:

15590434_678276485677347_6599297226904845813_n+100 points for that mid-sentence facial expression.

On a related tangent, I don’t feel any compulsion to dress a certain way at other events because I am a pastor – if I’m going to work out, or go dancing, or go to the beach, I’ll don what I personally feel comfortable wearing in those situations (which, admittedly, is really not that edgy to begin with).  My spouse once wondered whether we should buy alcohol at a liquor store further from home so we wouldn’t run into our neighbors or seminary classmates – nope.  I’m invested in reminding church members and the world at large that clergy are people, first and foremost – called to a specific ministry, yes, but not necessarily any more pious than anyone else.  And most definitely allowed to express themselves through clothing!

For weddings/ordinations/formal worship services I add the oatmeal-colored robe, cincture (rope around the waist) and a stole:

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Or if I’m marching in the rain, here is the super-chic water-repellent outfit I wear (same stole as above, better view):

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What have been your experiences with spirituality and dress, modest clothing, or shaming around clothes?  If you grew up in a faith tradition or currently participate in one, what are your thoughts on what’s appropriate to wear to worship?  There are such a wide array of opinions and experiences out there – I’d love to hear yours!

 

 

How Are Riding Boots Supposed to Fit?

I’m asking the question in the title because I found tall boots (one of the things on my current thrift list) at Goodwill the other day that were flat, cognac-colored, had gold accents, had toes that were not too pointed and not too rounded, and were leather. (I’d be happy with high quality vegan options but usually anything not leather in the boot section is cheapo Target ware.)  In other words, they were perfect.

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Except.

My image of riding boots includes a fitted shaft:

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But the shaft of these boots was rather wide relatively to the circumference of my calf:

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This pretty quickly turned into a mental battle over whether the “must buy” reaction I had outweighed the less-than-ideal width.  In my experience, saying “yes” to a less-than-ideal find, out of fear that another version won’t crop up, often leads to thrift regret – and wasted $$ when eventually a better find appears.  But with such a rare find, I was finding it hard to say no.

So I made a list:

In the “must buy” column: these babies, made by Coach, retail for $200 but were priced at only $20.  They were also my size, if a little wide in the foot.  I *never* find quality cognac/brown, heel-less boots in my size at thrift stores.

In the “less-than-ideal” column, that wide shaft had me feeling like:

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I admit I don’t pay that much attention to riding boots, having never intentionally shopped for a pair. Can you wear riding boots more loosely and have it look purposeful, avoiding a sloppy or dated feel? Not to be a slave to fashion trends, but there’s a difference between knowingly working a non-trend look and unintentionally invoking 1979 (above).

Surprisingly, the internet has a lot to say about how you can wear your boots, including ample visual evidence that the wide legged look is just as acceptable as the fitted look:

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Source, source, source, source.

Convinced I wouldn’t look completely unhip and clueless, I bought ’em, and promptly wore them the next day:

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Same boots, different Goodwill.

Scratch that one of the thrift list!  Bonus: my spouse thinks they look nice.

 

What do y’all think of the wider shaft?  Any styling tips from those of you who sport riding boots on the regular?  Scroll down to comment!

 

Exploring New Clothing Territory: Vests

This post is about quilted/puffy vests.  Sorry if you got all excited for 90s-era or tuxedo-style numbers!

In college I had a red, slim, quilted vest by Caslon.  I remember it being the first piece of clothing my mom convinced me to spend $50 (!!) of my own money on.  She explained the concept of investing in a quality piece you’ll wear for years – and she was right.  It was quite chic and a great color, and I wore that puppy on the regular for 6 or 7 years, easy:

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College me, posing in said vest at an Olympique Marseille football-watching club in France.  I have no idea what Che is doing there.

I haven’t gone in for quilted vests much since then – mostly because the styles available now tend more toward the sporty (not my style), and it’s hard to find a silhouette that doesn’t add a lot of visual volume.

Indeed, my next vest wasn’t purchased until 2012, when I picked one up last minute from Costco for a family trip to Scandinavia. (Judge away.  I was thrifting 95% of the time but got seduced by the bright, inexpensive clothes at Costco and the idea that you need to buy new/specific clothes for travel. Lies, I tell you, lies!)

And then, ironically, I wore it thrifting at the Salvation Army shop in Oslo:
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What, you don’t thrift on vacation?

It packs down to almost nothing and is filled with down, so it’s a great layering piece. But it’s been stashed in the back of my closet pretty much since 2012.   If I had to say why, it’s – again – because of its rather sporty style and the unfortunate volume added where none is wanted.

Two of my coworkers regularly wear puffy vests and manage to look chic, though. (One thing that appears to help the volume problem is not zipping them up.  Who knew?)  So lately I’ve been kicking around the idea of giving quilted vests another try.  Luckily for me, picking up a vest from Goodwill costs about $5 instead of the $25 at Costco (or the much higher price tag in retail stores).

Here are my two picks:

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Old Navy – thrifted

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Nau – my version is taupe.  This is 850 down and retails for $185!

The liner on this vest is 100% recycled polyester, and the down inside is also re-used.  I love the asymmetrical zipper which takes it a little more in the direction of everyday chic rather than camping chic.

My spouse laughed when he saw the Old Navy one – “You’re still on that leopard print thing, aren’t you?”  Yes, dear, I am.  It is NEVER going out of style, so get used to it!

I know, I know, I just said no more winter clothes – but although I didn’t showcase them in my winter wardrobe post, I did indeed write that proclamation after I’d bought these.  And I’m hoping these babies will help me get more wear out of my existing wardrobe by pairing with my turtlenecks, which I have neglected rather severely this winter.  Additionally, I think the taupe vest will transition quite well to spring, for those days when it’s still a bit chilly but I don’t want a full blazer/coat/thick sweater.

What’s your take on quilted vests – do you wear them or no?  For those who do, any tips for styling them in business casual appropriate ways?  Scroll down to comment!

 

Real French Woman Style: A Case Study

Much has been made of the inimitable French woman’s style and how chic, understated, classic, minimalist, etc. her wardrobe is.  Black features prominently in this depiction, as do basics.  You can Google myriad examples where this is the case, but from the time I’ve spent living in and visiting France (particularly not-Paris), this depiction is a pretty narrow take on “French” style.

Case in point:

The other evening my family attended a community holiday party where a French woman I’d met at the same party the year before was attending with her family.  The husband and their 4 sons wore homemade bowties while their tiny daughter was dressed exactly like Princess Charlotte but with bolder color.  Their children’s given names are gilded with old-fashioned patina – think Bénédicte, Marisol, and Thibault (not their real names, but a good idea of them). In short, they are charming and full of personality.

And the mother of this family?  She was dressed nothing at all like the “typical” French woman:

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(Items recreated below so you can get a better gander)

Let’s start with her top.  Okay, yes, a black base layer, but one that served as a neutral canvas to showcase her other two layers: a dark teal paisley blouse, peasant-ish, topped by a (faux?) fur vest and a multicolored scarf featuring blue, aquamarine, and copper threads.

On the bottom: bootcut jeans which aren’t particularly trendy at the moment (although wider flares are), and Timberland boots with wedges.  Timberland wedges, I tell you!  To top it all off, she had accessorized with a pair of big metallic drop earrings.

Her look was mostly boho, but those Timberland wedges said “street.”  Her look communicated both her unique taste and her complete confidence in wearing things others would never have put together.

(Her hair and makeup, I admit, did look typically “French” – nothing much besides black eyeliner and mascara, plus sideswept gamine bangs in front, with the rest of her hair clipped back in a way that looked like it had taken 2 seconds but was nonetheless full of unstudied elegance.  Am I waxing overly poetic?)

Since the photo is partial, I did some googling to bring you similar (and in the case of the boots and earrings exact) pieces so you can marinate on this combination yourself:

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Honestly, her funky mashup looked more “French,” according to French women I’ve known, than most things I’ve seen in the pages of Vogue.

To wit – here are style snapshots of several French women I know well:

One has a daughter living in America and has a soft spot for her Ralph Lauren navy sweater with the American flag on it. But when a wedding is on the calendar, it’s fascinators and textured silk suits all the way.

Another is an ashram-frequenting, reincarnation-believing goat farmer, and she dresses the part: work pants and boots below, Indian-inspired prints and colors on top.

Another is basically Catherine Deneuve – same age, same coqeuttish preference for dramatic makeup and feminine dresses with flair.

Another lives in Paris but has a villa outside Toulouse and, when there, stuns in a simple caramel-colored sleeveless dress and subtle gold jewelry. (She was the inspiration for the dress in this post.)

Another few dye their hair with henna and don’t appear to pay any special attention to style.

Admittedly I have often felt uncool next to my French counterparts, but I think it has had less to do with their wearing black and moto jackets than it did with a certain confiance en soi that made them seem self-assured.  Thrifting and writing this blog have helped me hone my style to the point where I feel this confidence in my own dressing – although I’m sure I would still see a difference between an American aesthetic vs. a European one.  Something I need to spend more time on to fully articulate, but generally having to do with cleaner lines, a little more quirk, good tailoring, etc.

 

What do you think of our case study’s look?  And what’s your take on the much-touted “French woman style”?  Geographically speaking, where have you been particularly impressed by people’s style, whether it matched the stereotype or not?  Scroll down to comment!

 

Red & Caramel

If you follow me on Instagram – and you should! lots of outfits of the day and delicious thrift finds – you’ll know I’ve gone a little overboard with the red and caramel lately.  (“Caramel” is the name I’ve made up to describe a sort of richer camel.  It’s kind of a honey brown take on tan, if that makes sense – like when caramel has been toasted.)

It started off with these ensembles on the Vivienne Files – particularly the purple sweater/camel pants on the right:

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Source

I LOVED this combination, which surprised me because I had tried several iterations of khaki/tan/light brown pants before and always felt washed out and vaguely 1990s PTA mom in them (mad respect to moms who were on PTA in the 1990s – just lots of beige pants and solid color tops, you remember?).  I thought I was doomed to never wear khaki/tan/beige-ish pants, but then I saw these babies in a more…toasted? take on the color.  Warmer, richer, closer to picking up my hair color than washing out my skin tone.

I didn’t have any purple in my wardrobe so I didn’t feel compelled to recreate the exact look from the Vivienne Files, but a seed was planted.  I started looking for tan/beige-ish pants again – hopeful, though never quite finding the right shade.  Then it occurred to me that I had too many winter pants anyway, and why couldn’t I pick up this color in a top instead?

This first attempt was beautiful in color and in form, but too tight for anything but layering:

wp_20160912_12_59_46_proNo room for lunch!

It was exciting, though, to find the color on the rack and realize I loved it just as much in person as in theory.  It was not too brown (been there, done that); the warm honey tone picked up my hair and made my face pop.

I bided (bid? bode?) my time, and eventually found this merino J. Crew number in November:

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You may recognize it from these previously alluded to Instagram outfits:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

From that initial success, I went a little crazy.  I picked up a skirt (even though I never wear skirts in winter and stick with just one or two in summer…we’ll see how that goes!), a shirt dress, and then pants:

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Skirt by Merona

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Safari shirt dress by Jones New York

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Velveteen bootcut pants by !iT Jeans

The pants are SO soft, but also appear to be a little on the cheap side, so consider ’em candidates for a thrift upgrade if they don’t hold up.

Also this same color is in the details of this fuzzy polar bear of a sweater paired with the above dress a few weeks back, and indeed, the pants and sweater paired together nicely in my recent cold weather travel wardrobe:

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BAM.  Instant outfit making.

 

I think I was craving some visual warmth in the increasingly short, dark days of winter.  A similar longing for festivity amidst the holidays would also explain the recent uptick in red in my wardrobe:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on


This blazer might have been paired with my evergreen corduroy pants on Christmas Eve…

Isn’t that just the RIGHT shade of red?  Not too cherry or too burgundy, plays great with cream, grey, and of course, caramel. I’ve even gone back to daydreaming about red ankle boots, but since my true love in that category retails for $100+ and Santa has already come and gone, I think I’m going to keep an eye out for something similar in the thrift store.

I’m feeling good about all the ways to combine these colors with the rest of the staples in my winter wardrobe (navy, cream, grey) and love that they, along with these and these, have brought more color to what was a fairly polar palette.

 

What do you think of these colors – and what would you call the hue I’ve named “caramel”?  Scroll down to comment!

 

My Fantasy Style

And now, a little bit of sparkle leading up to New Year’s Eve…

If I could dress however I wanted, with no limitations due to boring things like jobs, budget, or practicality, I would dress like Luke Spiller, lead singer of The Struts, on stage:

A photo posted by lukestruts (@lukestruts) on

A photo posted by lukestruts (@lukestruts) on

Essentially: lots of gold, lots of sequins, glitter makeup, metallic pleats, and lots of leather.

A photo posted by lukestruts (@lukestruts) on

A photo posted by lukestruts (@lukestruts) on

Please dress me, too, Zandra Rhodes. (She dressed Freddie Mercury and Brian May and her clothing for Luke is discussed in this T Style magazine interview with the singer.)

A photo posted by lukestruts (@lukestruts) on

A photo posted by lukestruts (@lukestruts) on

We are thrifting kindred spirits: “The Struts are regulars at Los Angeles thrift stores when they’re not on tour, where Spiller has developed an eye for picking out the kind of special pieces — like an all-in-one white kimono from Max Mara — that have become his calling card onstage.”

A photo posted by lukestruts (@lukestruts) on

A photo posted by lukestruts (@lukestruts) on

 

This style affinity is how I end up with things like this in my closet:

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And this:

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And regrets about passing up things like this:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on


The last of which I would rarely (ever?) wear IRL.

I think it’s healthy, though, to keep a little glam in your life, even if just in your imagination… what’s your fantasy style?  Scroll down to comment!