There was something about this particular Saturday when I woke up in the mood to wear rolled jeans and a cotton white shirt and a small cluster of narrow bangles. It had to be those bangles, and it had to be that J.Crew white shirt. There’s something about the rhythmic sound that the J.Crew shirt makes as I move through my every moment that comforts me. It’s like listening to Buddhist monks and their rhythmic chanting. Now to be honest, on certain days that rustling fabric might drive me nuts just like a day of chanting in the background could make me want to run into an action-filled superhero movie to try and drown it out. That’s why waking up desiring the sound of cotton rubbing against itself was a clear order I could not and would not deny. I needed that sound, that shirt, that day.
I might have been happy wearing just the shirt, bangles, jeans, and my buff-colored sandals but I wanted to add just a little somethin’ before heading out to have brunch with Russ at Della Fattoria in Petaluma. So I looked into the jacket section of the closet, which is on the far left, and saw my Chico’s tribal jacket. Hmm, I haven’t worn this all season, I thought. Not in spring and not so far in summer. I pulled it out, slipped it on, and b-o-o-m that was it. It had to be the tribal jacket. The fabric is a cotton piqué canvas. It doesn’t make sound but makes me happy.
There’s a textile artist in me. I used to make wearable art clothing back in the late ’70s and ’80s using a variety of techniques including quilting, appliqué, beading and trapunto. So anything that’s got creative stitching or rows of things or fanciful placement of buttons, sequins or beads has my complete attention. It’s a soul connection.
I have to show you some close-ups of this jacket. I think you’ll understand.
The rest of the outfit
See the thin bangles? Maybe I liked the jacket with the bangles because the thinness of them is repeated in the thin vertical rows of stitching.
I added something that would bring texture to the outfit but not a lot of color. It’s the crystal pendant that I created months back. I like how it ties the jacket to the white shirt.
See the woven bag I’m wearing? It reminds me of patterns I’d make in piecework. This is shaping up to be an artsy-fartsy outfit but in a subtle, kind of sophisticated, understated way. There are no bright colors. The only bright parts are my glasses (Uber Optics, my friends) and my lipstick, Power by Laura Mercier.
How cool is it that the shoes relate to the handbag? I had denim blue sandals that I could have worn, but that felt too matchy-matchy with the jeans. Better to keep the eye moving up the body; from sandals to handbag to jacket. I love getting the action to land up at my face and as quickly as possible. Denim-colored sandals would have seemed like dead weight at the bottom.
A couple of general styling tips to try at home
White shirts brighten. I love how a white shirt can brighten a look instantly. They’re like a breath of fresh air. Even though you only see the color on the collar, sleeves and a bit of the middle, it lifts energy up. I feel light and bright in this outfit, and it’s due to that shirt. Now some of you might think that the cream and the white don’t go together. I don’t want them to necessarily go-together. Just relating to one another is good enough for me. They can flirt, but no kissing; you know what I mean? That wall behind me is pretty perfect for demonstrating how colors hang out together, relating without looking matchy.
Finding shoes to relate to handbags. I’m absolutely amazed at how much I’m wearing my woven leather handbag this year after not wearing it once last year. And I give credit for that to my buff-colored Campers platform sandal, new this year. Usually I make Beauty Bundles with three or more items but I consider these platform sandals and woven bag to be a Beauty Bundle. No matter what clothing pieces I put on, this mini-bundle pulls a look together. Oh, joyousness! I wish there were a hymn about how colors and fabrics work together in concert. I’d be humming it all day.
Styling old things new ways
I confess I was not intending to write this post up as an Anatomy of an Outfit. What I meant to do was show you three examples of different pieces in my wardrobe and how I’ve styled them differently this year. I’ve decided not to even show you pics of how I styled the tribal jacket last year. They are so off my radar right now. Last year those versions were the cat’s meow. This year I’m turning away from them like a picky mature cat turns away from a bowl of dry food when what she wants is wet food.
If you want to see it, I won’t deny you. You’ll have to click here to see last year’s styling of this jacket. Or, a slightly different version (the accessories changed) is in this post from my Where I Shop Series which features Chico’s jackets including the tribal one.
This appreciation for how things can change so dramatically in a year came about last week when Erin and I styled summer outfits for a client I’ve had for years. Without buying anything new, I created a brand new summer wardrobe for her. The outfits were so grand that I woke up the next morning still thinking of them. I texted her: “Can you believe you never bought a single thing this summer but got all those new clothes?” She was so happy about that!
Sometimes when I’m restyling outfits, a client will say, “I can show you what you did with it last year.” She’ll hold up the Wardrobe Chart I filled out last year. “No thanks,” I’ll say. I don’t want to be influenced by last year. I’m about this year. I don’t create a single outfit that’s the same as a year or two ago. You probably remember this about me-I have a rule about ditching all the wardrobe charts that are older than two years. Right now I feel like I need to pull in the reins and insist anything that’s older than 12 months needs to be shredded.
Style and fashion changes. People change. New lifestyle activities enter into the picture. Often shoes and accessories have been added to the wardrobe in the last year even if no new clothes have been purchased. I’ll definitely want to work with those newer additions. Or sometimes in the current year, I lean on the client’s heirloom accessories to change things up. That’s been happening a lot!
Keep this idea of creating new looks out of older clothes in your styling tool chest. It may be time to look at that jacket, pant, skirt or dress with new eyes, with this year’s eyes. A little tweaking could bring beaucoup joy to you! I’m all for that.
Have you had some styling adventures so far this season? We’re eager to hear all about them; do share!