Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sartorial Inspiration and its Down-to-Earth (Thud!) Translation. . .

Last week, Duchesse over at Passage des Perles blogged about this photo recently posted on Scott Schumann's Sartorialist. Duchesse parsed the look to explain ways that we might get fresh looks from our wardrobe. She recommended substitute pieces, suggested an easier colour (burgundy) for those not ready to mix up texture and pleats and layers and pretty apricot all at once, and above all, reminded us that it's not necessary to buy (into) the latest trends to appear up-to-date. . .

The busy-ness of the outfit, although cohesive enough on the model, seems doomed to chaos for a shorter, sturdier physique such as mine, although Duchesse points out in the comments that she often sees women of my build layering up in her city, Montreal. She did acknowledge that doing that successfully might require boots, and I think if I tried a similar combo, I'd be in my Acne pistols. . . .

But the image and Duchesse's unpacking of it must have stuck, because when I saw this image at Garance Doré a few days later, I found myself making some connections.























Not necessarily the same connections that Duchesse made, but her recognition that freshness can be found in the recombination of wardrobe items rather than in buying (into) new trends stuck with me. Obviously, the striped, textured sweater above and the skirt, the leopard scarf, and the patterned oversize cardi in the top photo are standout pieces. Equally obvious, for Duchesse, was that these outfits offered what she called a "winter surprise."

What I got from the mix, on a day when Environment Canada's meteorologists were posting a Rainfall Warning (and given that I live on the "Wet Coast" of Canada, that takes some doing) was the incentive to add one strong colour and one strong graphic layer to otherwise neutral workhorses.


The graphic layer came from an oversized shawl my daughter gave me Christmas before last. It's a piece I find a bit hard to work with -- Aritzia's more recent versions have been made in a lighter weave, but mine is an earlier prototype, not quite so easily wrapped into submission. Something about the Sartorialist photo that Duchesse posted, though, let me think I could perhaps let the shawl play a bigger role, as long as I kept the rest of the outfit simple.

 And something about that photo also let me think that I could get away with combining the coloured Hunter boots with the strong graphic layer, given that all but the boots were in neutral tones. (In case you're wondering, yes, in a pinch, given the serious rainfall we experienced last week, I can get away with wearing these boots in the classroom. It's a very casual workplace.)

 I even tried a very simple over-my-shoulders approach, which works well in a classroom with unpredictable heating. . . .

Finally, time to put on one more layer. . . .
 my aging Aritzia pea-coat . . .
and head out the door.

Honestly, I have to chuckle a bit at how far my outfit is from those top two polished combos.  . . . But they're probably not biking in the pouring rain, on muddy roads, are they now?! (In fact, I ended up covering this whole get-up with one of those huge, floppy stadium rain ponchos, the ones with attached hoods, and big enough to cover my backpack. I did take that off and tuck it away when I got to the ferry.)

So are you chuckling as well? Can you see any connection at all between top and bottom photos? Or is it all in my mind, too big a stretch for credibility?
And do you find yourself taking inspiration from Style Blog looks and then translating them for your everyday life? Do you translate them down quite this much?

21 comments:

  1. Well, I think you look great in this combo. Have never worn Hunter wellies so not sure how you deal with what I shall delicately refer to as the squelching sound effect that I always get when wearing inferior brands. Maybe they fit so much better than my bargain basement pair and are much more refined?

    Completely understand re the drapeability required in a shawl. I have a new beauty but have yet to work out how to wear it so that it is not burying me in its forthright firmness nor have I got it on granny-in-the-chair-by-the-fire style. I think that the approach you have gone for in the last pic is spot on. Bravo

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    1. Thanks! As for the Hunters, no squelching so far, thank goodness!

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  2. The coat helped. There is always the risk of looking like the chair next to your bed where all your clothes get thrown. Having a tall, young daughter who can drape and layer with ease I realise it is all down to height. I do not have it, therefore I do not layer. Ay di mi, as Nancy Mitford would have said.

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    1. Well, I really don't want to look like a bedside pile! I do think, as Duchesse, suggests, that it's worth experimenting with the layers though, especially since I work in buildings with temperamental heating systems. . .

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  3. I really like the looks with the very simple over-the-shoulders look, and the last one, with the shawl over the jacket. I think that bold print needs to be SEEN for best effect. I've been playing with some layering since reading Duchesse's post and the comments, but ultimately keep coming back to lighter, softer layers rather than the more textural looks in the top picture. Still experimenting, will share something soon.

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    1. Sue, I agree with you, and although I might not have captured quite what pleased me in the draping, I did think it was important for that graphic to stand out. I was pleased to be pushed to try something slightly new.

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  4. Well hey I love this outfit. Seems very you - but somehow more French?

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    1. Oh, I just love your voice here -- hey! ;-)
      Me+>French -- that's a good thing, right?

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  5. Big smile! I'd call it a success and definitely hits that offhand-interesting vibe.

    @ Ceri: if a shawl is too heavy or stiff it will not be easy to wear; however, my advice is to wear them as Indian women do. See my post: http://passagedesperles.blogspot.ca/2012/07/wearing-shawls-indian-womens-ways.html

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    1. Love that smile! Thank you! Offhand-interesting is well worth experimenting toward and I thank you again for the inspiration. Much more fun than trying for looks that are aimed at younger or thinner or taller . . . ;-)

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    2. Duchesse - thank you so much for this advice. What I take from your excellent piece is that a big shawl needs to be thought of as the main item in an outfit (as with an eye catching jacket) rather than an add on. When the weather improves I'll definitely be trying out some of your ideas with my new acquisition.

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  6. I think it's well adapted to the west coast rain we've been experiencing. I, too, like the shawl draped more openly so that the pattern shows. Love the Hunters. It's fun to experiment!

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    1. It is fun to experiment! Glad the rain has eased up a little bit -- looks as if we might get cooler temps and sunshine by the weekend. . .

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  7. I like layering in theory, but I'm sort of a clothes klutz and end up flailing around if I've got too many things going on. I love your interpretation of the look.

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    1. Thanks, Rubi -- what I sorted from the photos Duchesse shared was a certain cleanness to the layers, if that makes sense. I'm pleased with this version for my life, at least.

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  8. Let's just say that you've spun a regional look from the international ideas - and I like yours very much. Pure Wet West Coast. I like the layers - they're real and they are chic and they work.

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    1. Oh, I like the way you've put that! Regional look from international ideas -- go me! I do feel the look has a certain integrity for where I am and what I do every day. But honestly, getting ready to peel back the layers as soon as spring arrives!

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  9. Well, for what it's worth, I think anyone can layer with any weight of fabric so long as the pieces are proportionate to your frame - skirts not too long, shawls not too long, sweaters not too bulky - to avoid drowning in fabric. Your outfit looks great and I hope you have put a DIY giant peace sign on the back of your poncho with yellow duct tape. Yes? Good.

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    1. Yes, my problem is that I have to be careful as I'm short and, erm, solid. As for the giant peace sign, I was able to get neon pink duct tape. Even better, right? ;-)

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  10. Points for looking pulled together in the rain, on your bike, through the mud! I appreciate your walk-through as you built your look to suit your needs and the depths of your closet.

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    1. Thanks. I did think it was fun to recognize how the initially inspirations percolated through the filter of my real life. . .

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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