The Hunt: Down Toppers
For cool weather, there is no better material for staying comfy and cozy than down! The feather-filled toppers are my go-to for about six months out of every year, both for fashion and practical purposes. If the shell fabric is well-made, a down piece should last for years – I have a ten year old one that’s still serviceable, even though I really beat it up for most of its life by wearing it while working outdoors. My father has a truly venerable one with a shell made from stainless steel…just kidding – I have no idea what the outer fabric is, but it is TOUGH. The jacket looks new, other than a few stains and it’s older than I am! :) Whether you choose a sporty hip length jacket (I love having a bright color to add punch to cold-weather looks!) or a sleek longer silhouette, down is a fabulous topper to have at your disposal for easy, lightweight warmth and now is a great time to look for one because a number of places have pieces on end-of-season sales. It handles light rain and snow well too – it takes awhile for the water to soak through the down, so you can skip a rain coat if you’re not out in a downpour. Also, the higher the power fill, the warmer the piece will be (*caveat: "packable", and "ultralight" pieces will be thinner than standard down and not as warm, even at a higher power fill. For example, 800 Ultralight isn't as warm as 650 power fill in a standard/non-ultralight piece. I tned to always be cold and I find that 650-700 power fill keeps me toasty. With a thermal, sweatshirt and fleece below, I can be outside in 17 degree days for three or four hours and be fine. If you’re in the market for a down piece, here are a few of my faves:
1. The North Face Nuptse Jacket (Mine is in it's second year, going strong and warm as toast! Plus, the inner pocket is awesome :))
2. Lands End Women's Lightweight Down Jacket (good power-fill and fantastic colors)
3. L.L. Bean Ultrawarm Down Jacket
4. Lands End Convertible Down Jacket
5.Lands End Women's Down Jacket (Great price on this!)
6. Marmot Aruna Jacket (I also love this hooded version in lime green)
It took me a long time to realize how perfect skirts are for cold weather – I always thought of them as comfies for summer due to being way cooler (literally cooler, as opposed to “so cool” cooler) than pants. But lately, I figured out that they’re actually cold weather comfies too because you can layer leggings or tights underneath. Score! ;) Start with either of those that suits you and add an underlayer on top as well. Then grab whichever of your maxi skirts is calling to you at the moment: solids, graphic prints, florals – they all work. Most fabrics will too: knits, wool, lace and tulle = fab. The only ones you want to avoid are fabrics that are particularly warm-weather materials: crinkled pieces, seersucker, linen. Add a cropped sweater, or use a longer silhouette and blouson it. Finally, top it off with a jacket. Reach for something with a casual vibe –think a classic leather or denim piece, or a moto or military style. The relaxed feel is important to offset the fancier connotation of the skirt so you can complete the look with flat boots. Any pair with a shaft that’s higher than the skirt hem will work nicely. I especially love the secret fierceness (and partial extra layer! :)) of OTK boots. This concept can be applied to midi skirts as well. Consider pairing a denim or pleated piece with a body-skimming turtleneck for a chic 70’s-referencing look. (The same base layers described above can apply here too). Add an unexpected twist via an interesting belt: add leopard to a camel and denim look, black leather to a shimmering pleated satin piece or a bright contrasting color (echo it with statement earrings, a massive ring or your lip shade). Again, complete the look with boots (heeled is my preference with midi hems, but flats will work too), making sure that the shaft is higher than the skirt’s hem. For an extra layer of warmth, drape a wrap or long scarf around your neck (or toss it over one shoulder) and tuck it under the belt – it’s one of my favorite tricks for creating a super-warm outfit! Alternatively, skip the scarf and belt and throw on a faux fur jacket for a cozy and fun (and totally pet-able!) variation. Happy styling, loves!
Cute & Cozy - So Down With That!
One of my favorite ways to block out chilly weather is with down! It’s the warmest material I’ve ever found for outerwear and wonderfully lightweight. It’s the perfect topper to wear when you don’t want to do forty pieces below to feel warm. A short jacket has a sporty vibe. I love using one in a bright color; it’s a total mood-lifter! Try magenta, coral, warm blush, turquoise or lime over a neutral look. Use it in the same way you would a bomber and toss it over your outfit open, or wear it half-zipped. Play up the athleisure feel with track pants below and a chunky cropped sweater or refined sweatshirt. The crucial styling trick is to make sure you define your waist somehow, either via the cropped piece, a blouson silhouette or a half-tuck. Pair with bright sneakers, or elevate this casual look with pointy-toe ankle booties. So easy, so unconcernedly cool! Alternatively, go for a sleeker jacket silhouette: a parka or car-coat length piece. Many designs include princess seams or a self-belt for shape, which creates extra polish. Stay toasty but unencumbered below with a button-down tunic (plaids are fabulous this time of year! The multitude of colors creates so many possibilities for pairings) and leggings. Rock the shorter-layer-on-top look by adding a pullover sweater or sweatshirt above. You’re looking for a piece that hits anywhere between your natural waist and an inch or two above the tunic hem. Choose a coordinating color above (don’t be afraid to pull out one of the more obscure shades in the plaid) or use a bridge shade that’s between two of the colors in the plaid. For example, if your plaid is burgundy and blue, try a purple piece. If your tunic is a solid, add a(nother :)) bright shade. Experiment with it and have fun!). A laidback look like this is a great place to try exuberant color schemes because you don’t need the formality or sophistication neutral or dark tones provide. Complete the look with flat or low-heeled hiking boots (higher heels are fine too, just make sure the styling is a less formal type – hikers, moto, combat silhouettes). PS I’ve gone with neutral boots here, but if you have, say, burgundy velvet hikers or blue suede combat boots, def feel free to break those out :). Happy cozy styling!
Cute & Cozy - Bright Idea
In the winter, the gray days can make it easy to get bored and settle into a humdum routine of looks that are more comfortable than anything else. It’s so simple: grab a couple of black basics, stick them together and you’re good. But I also find that I feel better and happier when I have on a look that I really enjoy wearing…and there are plenty of ways to be both cute and cozy during the chilly weather!
One of my recent favorites is playing with bright colors – partly through the influence of Sea of Shoes :). Combining colors in a look is totally doable and Jane does it better than almost anyone. A less daunting approach is to go for a single-color-family compilation that incorporates different shades in the same genre. Blue is always the first color I think of because blue jeans instantly solve the “omg-I-don’t-really-have-that-many-colored-pants” conundrum. Red is a close second. What I love about this look is that you don’t have to worry about matching; if you get enough shades of blue together, the sheer numbers will allow for bridge hues that let everything blend. So, grab your favorite, comfiest pair of blue denim. Slim, wide, flared; silhouette matters not. This look is all about the color! If they’re a year or three old and are full length, no sweat: cuffed is all the rage right now, so just roll your own ;). If you’re craving extra warmth, add a pair of leggings below and cuff them to just a smidge shorter than your pants. Add a blue chunky sweater; oversize is fab, cropped is stellar. For warmth, I add a light but warm base layer. My favorite is the 200 weight Siren tee from Icebreaker, but a thermal Henley or even a basic cotton tee will do nicely. Next: footwear! Add a piece of statement jewelry for a shot of chic: statement earrings, a long pendant, a massive ring (or collection of slim ones!). Alternatively, toss a blue wrap over your shoulders or knot a scarf at your neck for visual interest and a little extra warmth. Finish with blue pointy pumps, or suede ankle booties (neutrals are a 100% acceptable alternative if you a colored-footwear-free atm). Let slim pants rest on the top of slim boots, or cuff them to just above the top of the shaft. Cuff wide or flared pants to one inch above the shaft for wider-style boots, or to just above or even with the narrowest part of the shaft of narrow boots. The key is to make sure there’s a defined slimmer area between the base of your jeans and your ankle, whether it is your bare ankle or boot-covered ankle :). Don’t forget about adding a blue bag, or blue leather glove (again, think neutrals if you don’t have blue pieces in that genre). I hope this inspires you to try all-blue-everything (or all any-color everything!) sometime soon :) Happy styling!
More cute and cozy looks coming up next!
Beloved Blogs: Sea of Shoes
I was very, very late to the Sea of Shoes party – it was one of the first style blogs on the scene, started by Jane Aldridge in 2007. I have only become a devotee recently, but I’m so glad I did! Jane is a fascinating content creator because she adores fashion, but doesn’t follow trends. The blog was originally created to document her love of vintage pieces and that premise holds true today, as she includes many vintage finds in her blogs. Amplifying that is her very creative, very versatile, very much from-the-heart fashion sense. She creates pairings no one else would and flows easily through a massive range of genres, from sweetly femme to menswear, eye-watering colors and prints to minimalism, modernity to Victoriana. Reading her blog is like taking a journey through style philosophies and you never know where it will lead. Ultimately, though, she always brings a fascinating perspective to the table, something that makes you see fashion for a different angle. And that is delightful!
Style Resolutions 2018
As the new year begins, most of us have ideas of things we want to do differently, begin doing or stop doing. While I try to not get too many going at once (because…overwhelming!) I have a few in several genres, and a specific set that relate to fashion. First and foremost is to organize! As my life has gotten busier, I haven’t created patterns and processes that are easy and functional to go with it. Consequently, I feel like I’m constantly just keeping up, just making do or just on the edge of spinning out of control. There are clothes I know I have, but I can’t find or haven’t washed yet. Many days, I’m putting outfits together on the fly with what I can see, rather than really enjoying what I’m putting together and the creative outlet that that can be. I want to change that. I want to know where to find the pieces that will create the look that’s in my head. I want everything to be neater and not feel so cluttered. At the moment, I’m not precisely sure how, but I’m brainstorming on it because it needs to happen! And the sooner, the better. Another thing I want to do is get back to having a style budget. I used to set aside a certain dollar figure monthly to spend on clothing (including shoes and all accessories). Sometimes I spent on basics that needed replacing (hello, wool socks!) and sometimes it was a splurge (can you go on living without an Oscar de la Renta statement ring? Well, sure…but would you want to? ;)) If I didn’t spend the full amount, it rolled into next month’s budget. If I overspent, I deducted it from next month’s budget. I didn’t do that at all in 2017 and I realized I didn’t like it. I like the confidence of knowing how much I can spend and I love the idea of knowing that I definitely have x amount of money that I can spend. Even if it’s only $40, I know it’s right there waiting for whenever I find the perfect something in that price range. It also guides my shopping choices – do I look at this season’s brand new arrivals the instant they come out? Or do I limit myself to looking at sale pages or within a certain dollar range? Can I check out Alexander Birman seriously, or do I need to mainly be looking at Nine West and Zappos? I have found this to be a great technique when I need to keep my spending low – I just don’t look at anything above my budget. Then, if I can’t find it, I feel like “well, it just wasn’t out there/wasn’t available”, instead of “I found it, but I can’t afford it” – the former seems way more positive in my mind. I also want to get back to keeping a list of things I’m looking for and/or know I need. First, I’m better at spotting good buys on things if I have a note that I need to look for it. Second, if I can’t find things right away, I can forget I wanted them. The list is a great reminder and many times, there’s a synchronicity that happens when I review it again - I’ll see something I had forgotten I wanted but couldn’t find at the time. Then, when I go looking again, I run right into a piece that’s just right. And even if I’m not consciously looking for the specific things on my list, I’ve noticed I tend to find most of what I want if I’ve written it down somewhere. When I go back to check my list, I can cross off most of it as “found”. (Or sometimes "no longer needed" :)). And that’s it – my two goals! I’m a fan of keeping things simple, when possible :). What about you – do you have any style resolutions for this year?
Variations On A Theme By D & G
Periodically, I get obsessed with the aesthetic of a certain brand. It gets burned in my brain and I can’t stop thinking about it. Right now, it’s Dolce and Gabbana (because I can’t resist a good movie reference, I feel it necessary to add: “Okay. Can you please spell Gabbana?” :)). It probably has something to do with the time of year – after the high of the holidays, I have to face up to the dreary reality of winter and I instinctively gravitate toward a fashion philosophy that helps me through. Some years, it’s comfort: autumnal palettes and boots everywhere. This year, it’s bright shades and an insouciant mix of patterns that seems to speak of spring and renewal just ahead. Dolce and Gabbana incorporates saturated colors constantly via their references to quintessential Italian themes. Dressing head to toe in D & G just feels ecstatic and sun-drenched. Of course, I generally only do that in fitting rooms because spending three grand on one outfit isn’t in my budget at this precise moment in time :). So, how do you get that Dolce vibe sans Dolce? When browsing through their recent collections, certain elements stand out, in addition to the color, as common: lace, jewels, flowers, prints – all pretty accessible items. Would you think to combine them? I generally wouldn’t, until this latest obsession began. Now, it’s a must try kind of thing! What do you have in your closet right now? A lace pencil skirt? Fab. A floral blouse? Perfection. Start there. I went with a lace blouse. Add other pieces that fit the theme: a printed or embroidered blouse to the lace skirt, clean, bright blue denim to the floral blouse. Add statement crystal jewelry to get that shot of glamour – but keep it lighthearted by using contrasting colors. Add bright blue or yellow to red and navy, blush to eggplant, amethyst and lilac to deep green. Since my lace blouse is sheer, I layered a mustard cami below and topped it with two crystal necklaces, one golden and blush, one plum and lilac. Don’t be afraid to layer more delicate pieces to get a stronger effect. Throw in some floral jewelry if you have it, or add a floral scarf or belt at your waist in tones that coordinate with your jewels and shoes. Ah – shoes! :) I always love getting to the shoes. Complete with the look with more color –coordinating, but not matching. Add cobalt to red, navy and cerulean or cerise to pine and plum, golden yellow or burgundy to blush and eggplant. I went with purple suede pumps – the luxurious feel of suede (or velvet works too!) just underscores the abundant vibe of this aesthetic. Consider lace or floral heels and crystal-embellished pumps as well (satin def allowed!). Don’t forget about mary-janes either – they became a D & G trademark a couple seasons ago, so a neutral version is another flawless way to complete this styling. I hope this inspires you to try out a Dolce & Gabbana-inspired look sometime soon! Happy styling,loves :)
Brie (Hi!) More re: me under About. I'm the moving spirit behind this little life-meets-fashion fairy tale world, the home of my non-wrestling-related style musings and loves.