Thursday, 11 September 2014

Turn, Turn, Turn?

I have a friend who... every year when I arrived at work in a fall blazer for the first time that season...would exclaim..."Sue! You've turned your closet!" 

It became a joke in our teacher prep room, and the men with whom we worked eventually began competing with her; trying to be the first to notice that I had officially ushered in the new wardrobe season, or chastising each other for wearing white after Labour Day. Their teasing was gentle, like the kind you'd get from a favourite uncle, and I'd always play the fashionista role, giving a twirl to show off my new fall outfit, replying that summer was "So over, Dahling!"

"Turning one's closet" is a rite of passage in a four season climate. Especially when you live in a small house with minimal closet space, like me. I remember so clearly, each year when we were kids, my mum opening the big cedar chest in which were stored our winter or summer clothes. It marked the beginning of the new season. And was almost as exciting as back to school shopping... almost.

Now that I'm not going to work anymore... my wardrobe is evolving and, for several reasons, I'm trying to decide how I "turn my closet" these days. 

For one thing it seems as if I wear many of the same things year round. Like jeans. 

For another.....what do I do about all my jackets? An important staple in my former work wardrobe was the jacket. I'm definitely a jacket and blazer kind of girl or, as Stacey and Clinton on What Not To Wear called them, "completer pieces." I'm with Stacey and Clinton on that.... I don't feel like an outfit is pulled together without a jacket or a sweater. And when I worked, I always had one or the other on at the beginning of the day. (Although I confess, in the past few years, I often took my jacket off when I started experiencing what a friend calls my "personal tropical moments.") 

When I worked, I'd start wearing jackets and blazers as outer wear in early fall; later in the season and throughout the winter, I'd wear them under my winter coat, and, of course, lose the coat as soon as I entered the building. But now that I'm retired, most of the time the outside layer of an outfit remains the outside layer. I don't often go somewhere and shed my coat or jacket, so the coat or jacket has to be part of the outfit, if you see what I mean. In winter, if I'm going shopping, or to a museum, or even out for lunch or dinner... I'm unlikely to wear a jacket under my heavy coat. Too bulky and too uncomfortable. And that means a major shift in my thinking about how I dress, especially in winter. And it means that I wear my beloved jackets and blazers for a much shorter time each year. 

So plan. (It seems like I'm making all kinds of new plans these days; see my post on "Slippage" and my new fitness plans.) 

Early September is too early to "turn my closet." I traditionally do this right after Thanksgiving...Canadian Thanksgiving, of course, which is early October. But it's not too early to wear my spring blazers and jackets, which are lighter than my fall ones and will work in temperatures in the low to mid twenties. And if I combine them with darker tops, instead of white and pastels, and dark bottoms (like navy) and heavier jewellry, I will feel fall-ish...but still be cool. 

This is my black Holt Renfrew brand cropped spring jacket. It's years old, but in really good shape. I tried it here with a navy and white gingham shirt that I recently bought at Gap (40% gotta love those e-mail coupons), a white Theory cami, my skinny J-brand jeans, and my black flat sandals that I've been wearing all summer.

The jacket has a self belt in the back, patches on the elbows and two buttons on the cuffs. It's really well made...all the Holt Renfrew brand items are (at least in my experience) and was a great buy at a fraction of the cost of a designer jacket. Not to mention the fact that I've had it for at least ten years. 

I've had this vintage brooch for several years too. I can't remember where or when I bought it. I love vintage jewellry, especially bracelets and brooches. I wore this outfit shopping the first week of September and was perfectly comfortable, not too hot... not too cold....just right. 

In the shot below I'm wearing my blue Smythe boyfriend blazer. I'm pulling it into my early fall rotation...immediately. I love this jacket; I've had it since 2009 and I do not wear it enough. It's long, with a single button closure, three button cuffs and the most beautiful silky vanilla lining. Here I decided to wear it with my cropped, skinny J-brand cords, and a cream, 3/4 sleeve, ruffled silk blouse by Elie Tahari...also bought in 2009. And my vintage brooch. Even though I'm wearing a light top, I think that the navy cords and the boots make the outfit fall-ish.

If it's too warm to wear this outfit with the Cole Haan boots, I can change them up for my new, black Stuart Weitzman loafers.

Smythe (who made my blazer) is a very successful Canadian design company; they just celebrated their tenth anniversary. Smythe clothes are beloved by many...including Kate Middleton... and me. If you're not familiar with their line, you can check out their Fall 2014 collection here. 

These are just two of the jackets that I'm going to be wearing for the next few weeks. Then I'll transition into my real fall jackets, tweeds and leather in browns and golds and burgundy. Yum. 

And the exciting thing is that, in my new life, once I put together an outfit, with jacket, scarf, and bag... it will stay put together. The bag won't be stashed under my desk at work until I leave for the day. The jacket and scarf will stay on, not be draped on the back of my chair because I have to carry piles of books or chart paper and markers from the book room to my classroom, or stand on a chair to tack posters on the wall, or because talking to a room full of 28 teenagers and 28 computers all giving off heat has become too darn hot! 

I'm looking forward to "turning my closet" this year. Pulling out some of my older jackets and sweaters, and combining them with a few new purchases. My new black loafers, which will star in a future post. Maybe a new, soft, camel or cream cashmere sweater. I've a couple of beautiful tweed blazers, and a great leather jacket that I can wear as outerwear with jeans, scarves and boots until well into the fall.

 Provided it's not raining. Or snowing.

Let's all take a moment here to contemplate snow in the first week of September. And sympathize with my poor sister who lives in Calgary and woke up to this the morning before last.

Brrrrr. Talk about scrambling for boots and gloves when your closet has NOT been "turned" and you think you won't need them for another two months!

Do you "turn your closet?" How does your wardrobe mark the changing season?


  1. Wow, I'm gobsmacked by your first outfit; I love everything about it, especially the sandals. Tailored clothing and I have a fraught history, but you may just have convinced me to give jackets/blazers another whirl. You look so svelte in the ensemble that I fail to see evidence of slippage.
    It is currently 48 degrees F and raining where I live (Colorado), with snow forecast for overnight (though summer will return by the weekend), so I am indeed giving thought to "turning" my closet. I will, for example, trade the printed summer dresses for vintage kimonos and grudgingly put away my shorts and revisit my bright scarf collection. Much of the pattern and color in my wardrobe resides in collared shirts (in addition to said scarves), which I try to incorporate during colder months. I have never, however, mastered layering a button-front shirt beneath a pullover. I confess my heart usually sinks as I contemplate months of unrelieved jeans-and-fleece, especially as that palette can be so limited, but I find myself strangely drawn to combos of indigo/cobalt/black this year. In truth, 97% of my life could be conducted in athletic/yoga/dancewear, as we are a famously casual and fitness-devoted city here.
    Like you, I have little occasion to remove my outerwear--thereby revealing my actual outfit--in winter, so I keep my eyes peeled for fun coats and accessories. But that doesn't quite satisfy, somehow.
    On another note, I have been reading some of your earlier posts and see that you are an Austen admirer. Not to overwhelm you with reading suggestions, but are you familiar with Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen mysteries? The conceit is that Jane, in between writing novels, kept getting herself involved in "real-life" murder mysteries, ultimately sleuthing out the perpetrators. The stories are written in the first person, and the characters include her actual family, friends, and acquaintances. I have read ten of them (I'm happy to learn there are now eleven) since Barron began writing them in 1996. Mystery is one of my less-frequented genres, but I have enjoyed these.

    1. Thanks for the compliment. I assure you the evidence of slippage is there...although hidden by the cut of the shirt...narrow at the sides but falling away from my body in the front. I'm not comfortable with a shirt under a pullover, either. If I'm wearing a shirt, I'm usually wearing a jacket on top...or a long cardigan. I do the same as you in winter...finishing an outfit with great coats...and scarves...I'm into scarves these days.
      Thanks for the recommendation. I will definitely check out those mysteries. Mystery and Austen...sounds good.
      And thanks for reading.

  2. Love this post! You rock "dahling".

  3. Fabulous jacket, Susan! Not much turning required here in the sub-tropics, but I do like putting on a cardigan now and then : > Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday.


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