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New Frontiers in Practical Winter Fashion!

November 1, 2010

Winter doesn’t officially begin until late December, but in Vermont, of course, it started back in October. This meant going through all my clothes and making some decisions about how to best embark on the adventure of stylish winter attire.

When I made the above collage – expanding the fashion story of a previous post – I started by focusing on items I knew I already owned, fit and were in good condition. Then I started the process of sorting through every single stitch of clothing I owned and all my shoes and bid farewell to all those never worn, raggedy or inappropriate for my current lifestyle as a freelancer. Fashion experts state the average woman wears 20% of her clothes 80% of the time and based on the frequency in which I do laundry/watch cheesy movies, it’s definitely true for me.

Over a year ago I wrote about my uniform, with some interesting thoughts about black clothing – particularly black pants/skirts.

As a recovering goth, I shy away from black clothing whenever possible unless it’s a handbag, shiny boot, a pair of stretchie pants or tights. I do not actually own a single black bottom (skirt or pants), except the one I was born with! If I want the look of black pants/skirt I just go with navy blue, which I can then sneak a bunch of other colors like lavender, chocolate or burgundy into the mix.

It seems I’ve had quite the change of heart and somewhere along the way I have found myself wearing full on black outfits. In addition to this new found love affair with gorgeous black clothing, I have realized that other than the odd green or teal item, I’m not really into wearing a lot of color. I flirt with color and tell myself it’ll make me happier during those bleak, dreary winter days, but it’s just not true. I do love color in my environment, but not on my body in the form of clothing. I prefer to limit color to accessories, particularly statement necklaces.

I love these freaking shoes.

What I do like is shine, bedazzling, sequins and the likes. Sparkle is to me what color is to other people. I live in my embellished tunics, cardis and shimmery sweaters. I can’t walk past a display of shiny, holiday clothing without briefly contemplating just how cute they’ll look casually wore and scored on 80% end of season clearance. Since I scored these shoes from Electrique Boutique, I spend way too much time building outfits around them. I also scored them in gray and I’m thinking of getting the navy blue too. And hey, at THREE FREAKING BUCKS, why not! I love me some EB.
Oh this bag brings me all kinds of joy. I found it in the luggage section of TJ Maxx for five bucks. I nearly fainted. I definitely squealed and did a happy dance. My love of giant, beast of burden handbags is well established. Of course, neither the shoes or the bag really have much to do with winter attire, which is, of course, my big problem. Having lived in VT for years, it seems I would have become adept at dressing for the season. But I haven’t. Sometimes, usually in February, I have a week or so where I’m totally striking the right balance between fashionable and functional. This is largely due to the overwhelming end of the season blow out bargain bonanzas. Yet, earlier in the season – like say now – I am just confused and frustrated by the weather. I see people still wearing flip flops. I see people wearing parkas. I see people wearing flip flops with parkas. And it’s not enough to simply dress for the weather. I don’t even know what that means. I check the forecast and the temperature, but unfortunately the information is never accompanied by suggestions as to how many layers of stretchie pants I should wear if I want to avoid freezing my ass off. That’s what I need. I need a temperature-to-fashion translator who can say, “Hey, it’s 38 degrees and definitely a puffy vest over hoodie over two shirts kind of day. But don’t wear the parka since all the buildings you’ll be entering will have the heat cranked up to a balmy 90 degrees.”

18 Comments leave one →
  1. hsofia permalink
    November 2, 2010 2:11 am

    How do you make those fashion collages? I love all the blues.

  2. Kristen permalink
    November 2, 2010 9:25 pm

    Where do you find your sweater dresses?! I’ve been prowling for one on my last 3 shopping trips with no dice. Hint?

  3. IrishUp permalink
    November 3, 2010 9:33 am

    Ruhroh – I confess! I am one of the New Englanders that wears flip-flops and parkas. I humbly apologize for any confusion this has caused. I will also confess to absolutely coveting that snakeskin bag. I can’t guarentee I’d be above trying to snatch that purse, if my flipflopflipflopflipflopittying from behind weren’t a dead give-away that danger was afoot.

    And that leather on the bottom right – SMASHING!!!

    I agree that the key to NE weather and the tendency to set indoor temps to 90 when everyone is dressed for the 20 it is outside, is layering. Alas, I often trip up on how to do it without being so “layered” I look like a starfish out on the street from all the bulk. On the plus side, a big-ole bag gives one a place to stuff said layers after you’ve worked up a sweat in the lobby undressing.

  4. November 3, 2010 11:55 am

    @hsofia – I use MS Paint (no laughter!) and c/p pictures, then arrange them into some kind of cohesive fashion “narrative”. I used to do one of these – with a specific theme in mind – everyday in my paper journal, instead of doing The Morning Pages.

    @IrishUp – Oh no worries. I envy those parka flip flop people! I just do not have the courage to do it. My equivalent was rocking adidas shower slides with socks until the first snowfall.

    Isn’t that leather jacket bananas! It’s plus sized (I only showed items that could be had in plus sizes) and it’s available at JcPenney, Target and I think even Avenue. It’s in the 39.99 price range and I have spied similar ones in the gray at TJ Maxx and Marshalls. They have them for 29.99. Oh yeah and places like The Bon Ton and Kohls also have dupes of them.

    And thanks for the love for the bag. Sometimes I think my taste is too cheesy cruisewear and people might giggle at the things I find so styling!

  5. November 3, 2010 12:06 pm

    @Kristen – I found a few at Old Navy, but also tend to look for them in cheesy department stores like JCPenney and Sears, which never stopped showcasing the knit stalwart and usually have a variety of knit weights/gauges and necklines. I tend to like my sweater dresses to have scoop or boat necks, or other dress elements so they mimic the lines of real dresses. Also try Gap and Banana Republic. Their sweater dresses are cut generously and depending on your body type and size the largest size offered can hold a size 22ish.

    Where have you looked? Tell me more about the kind of sweater dress you’re looking for.

  6. Citizen Taqueau permalink
    November 3, 2010 4:58 pm

    Tights and leg warmers! I love wearing sweater dresses as well.

    Lusting for aqua blue tights! Must find a good source of control top/large bottom opaque tights in bright, wonderful colors. Spanx has them, but SO EXPENSIVE. I want to taste the rainbow, but not at over $30 a pop.

  7. November 3, 2010 6:14 pm

    @Citizen Taqueau have you tried We Love Colors! They have good tights and the prices are pretty good too. I need to invest in a few more pairs of legwarmers. They really do deliver on their namesake.

  8. Lani permalink
    November 3, 2010 6:18 pm

    I love that gray and black striped sweater dress up there! And the teal short-sleeved sweater underneath it, and the drapey sparkly black top below it, and…

    The colors here are really nice. The black + gray/silver and blue with glittery accents and the red and yellow pops of color on the purses is gorgeous! Dressing stylishly for the winter is something I have trouble with too, and my fiancee and I will soon be moving north to Seattle so I will need to adjust my wardrobe for a cooler and wetter climate than where we live now. Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Citizen Taqueau permalink
    November 3, 2010 10:40 pm

    @Snarky’s Machine — wow! That is a treasure trove of color. Thank you!

  10. November 5, 2010 9:07 am

    Great picks and it’s similar to the color palette that I’m currently favoring. My wardrobe is typically heavy on vivid and saturated colors so more neutral tones are new terrain for me.

    Living in Florida the temperatures have finally dropped a little but I’m still buying tanks and t shirts since winter is so short lived here. This is my first winter here so I really want to wait until clearance time to buy a coat I *might* wear a handful of times. I’ll live with being outdated : )

  11. hsofia permalink
    November 5, 2010 10:51 am

    For socks, stocking, tights, etc. definitely check out If you are a sockaholic, this is a great online place to shop (they are based out of Portland, Oregon and have a physical store to visit if you’re in the area). They have mid-level priced stuff, and inexpensive stuff, too. What I like is that they have tested almost all of the products so there are useful comments on how they fit, when they are itchy, what kind of labor went into them, etc.

  12. November 5, 2010 5:35 pm

    Love this. I’m in the process of evaluating and rebuilding my winter wardrobe. I need more boots in my life and way more sweaters. I check my Target periodically for yummy sweater tights, as they go for about $10 a pair and seem to hold up a surprisingly long time.

    I’m cautiously starting to explore the world of sweater dresses. I’m uncertain about their tendency toward short or no sleeves, since I’d then have to wear something long-sleeved over them. Is this a conundrum for which you have any fabulous solutions?

  13. November 5, 2010 6:08 pm

    I’m cautiously starting to explore the world of sweater dresses. I’m uncertain about their tendency toward short or no sleeves, since I’d then have to wear something long-sleeved over them. Is this a conundrum for which you have any fabulous solutions?

    I like the shorter sleeve because often the sweater dress is made of a fuzzy knit that doesn’t always stand up to rigorous cleaning if there’s a stain situation, like is usually the case for me. A nice compromise is the 3/4 sleeve, but mostly you have to catch those earlier in the season. Like – um – now.

  14. November 5, 2010 8:14 pm

    That’s a good point about stains. I am pretty hardcore about my long sleeves, but they do take a lot more abuse as a result.

  15. Hsofia permalink
    November 6, 2010 3:32 am

    I have freakishly long arms so prefer 3/4 or short sleeves. Arm warmers are a good thing if it’s really cold. Sock dreams sells those, too.

  16. November 6, 2010 3:50 pm

    I’ve been checking out Sock Dreams and wow – what a gorgeous selection.

  17. November 6, 2010 11:57 pm

    Oh goodness you make me really want to go shopping right now! I love your color combinations and appreciation for sparkles! Those shoes are fabulous. Good luck dressing for the weather!

  18. Jess permalink
    November 9, 2010 5:29 pm

    That looks *fabulous*, especially the way the red pops against the turquoise. Makes me want to go shopping (which usually makes me cry).

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