Category: style

Clothing Swap: The Big Ten

ten years!!
ten years!!

It seems impossible somehow, but this year marked the 10th (TENTH!) anniversary of my annual clothing swap. I started hosting these parties when they were barely a blip on the ethical fashion radar — indeed, when ethical fashion itself wasn’t yet a “thing”. I can’t recall now how I heard about the idea of clothing swaps, but I was immediately drawn to it. Free clothes? A fun afternoon/evening with friends? Yes, please. At the party this year, I joked that my clothing swap is one of my longest running relationships; I started dating my husband a year after the first swap. All joking aside, the swaps have been a lovely way to, most of all, stay connected with friends I don’t get the chance to see often, and make new friends along the way. I was really excited this year when 3 new peeps were able to join the “swap sorority”, including Nicole. You can read her post on the swap here.

red, white and black
red, white and black

Every year, I choose a “theme” for the party. I am usually inspired by whatever decorations I have lying around the house, but this year my theme came to me in a different way. A while back, I noticed that one of the booths at the antique mall used playing cards to display vintage earrings and brooches, and I thought the idea was super neat. I decided to use it as a springboard for my party decorations, which then evolved into a red, black & white theme. As it turns out, I never did end up using the playing cards to display the available jewelry because I only had bracelets and necklace to swap. Oh well. The fruit-and-marshmallow kebabs, “garnished” with Oreos, looked lovely next to the red roses in their milk glass vases.

milk glass & roses
milk glass & roses

I am especially proud of this arrangement, which utilized an old piece of that green spongy stuff that real florists use in their arrangements — salvaged from a bouquet I received last year. Yep, I collect all kinds of trash — some of which even comes in handy. (By the way, if anyone knows what that stuff is called and where I can buy more of it, I would be forever grateful.) I thought it was a neat way to use one of the newest additions to my milk glass collection. I love roses, but I hate displaying them in their long-stemmed state, so I’m always looking for clever ways to showcase them.

the other grub
the other grub

I tried to continue the theme with the food — hence the bocconcini and tomato skewers — but I quickly gave up. Cheese and meats (or, if you want to be fancy, charcuterie) is where it’s at, theme or no theme. I can’t make them look artistic and Instagram-worthy, but believe me when I say that they were delicious. Mmm, prosciutto.

Moving on … oh, look who made me take a selfie. Only for you, friend. Only for you.

well, hello
well, hello

Being the dedicated blogger that I am, I forgot to take photos of the pile of clothes I contributed to the swap. Let’s just say that there were 3 enormous bags … and a half dozen pairs of shoes … and a couple of bags … and some jewelry. Oh, and nail polish too. Combined with the goodies that the other lovely ladies brought, we assembled a veritable Mount Everest in my living room. And that was just the rejects! (Everything that was left over after everyone had their picks was donated.) I did manage to take snaps of the things I ended up choosing and keeping.

Clockwise from top left: Anthropologie, Ted Baker, Anthropologie, Daniel Rainn
Clockwise from top left: Anthropologie, Ted Baker, Anthropologie, Daniel Rainn

The white popover and sweatshirt jacket are both Anthro brand, and both destined for my casual/loungewear capsule. The black Ted Baker jacket and Daniel Rainn vest are going to mix up my casual summer wardrobe.

left: Milla; right: Lululemon
left: Milla; right: Lululemon

The long vest on the left was a more experimental selection; we’ll see how it works as a casual summer topper. The Lululemons will be house pants. I foresee many hours of happy Netflix-ing in our future.

Left, Anthropologie; right, Coach
Left, Anthropologie; right, Coach

My two favourite pieces are probably this Anthro-brand skirt (from Nicole!) and this Coach tote. The skirt’s green colour is not in my wardrobe palette, but the silhouette is right up my alley — it’s a gorgeous midi pencil style. Styling it might prove to be a challenge, but I’m definitely up for it. The Coach bag has been in heavy use already. I’m not a fan of the monogram print and wish it was a solid colour, but the overall colour scheme is nice and versatile. The size and organization of the bag, on the other hand, is perfect for a work tote. I LOVE that it has not one, but two outside pockets (for easy access), as well as a zippered main compartment, and two sets of handles. The only issue I’ve discovered is that the handles start hurting a bit if you weigh the bag down with stuff, and carry it on your shoulder for a while. It’s not a huge issue for me, because my commute is not that long. I might just start looking for this style on eBay, in a different finish/colour.

I forgot to take pictures, but I also took home a lovely Linea Pelle bag, some nail polish (I’m fresh out, you guys!), and a couple of pieces for my mom — including some Manolo Blahnik shoes! A special thanks, and shout-out, to my friend L, who donated those. (My mom loves them.)

All in all, I think it’s safe to say that the clothing swap was a “jackpot” for all of us who attended. Here’s to another 10 fun years!

Dress, Meet Necklace

Dress, ASOS; necklace, MaxMara; shoes, J. Crew; bag, Gucci (via consignment)
Dress, ASOS; necklace, MaxMara; shoes, J. Crew; bag, Gucci (via consignment)

I can’t believe I didn’t think to pair these two pieces — dress and necklace — before. They’re truly perfect together. I feel like most of the credit needs to go to my MaxMara necklace, which has proven to be a statement accessory superstar. So much for all the doubters (ahem, my husband) who questioned the wisdom of my decision to buy it. Almost every time I am in need of a special piece to elevate a simple outfit, this necklace does the trick. It’s a compliment magnet too. There is something surprisingly elegant about all those big pieces of resin.

oh hello there, dear feet!
oh hello there, dear feet!
bell sleeves - love it or hate it?
bell sleeves – love it or hate it?

My outfit was not the only good thing going for me. Behold, a Good Make-Up Day:

feeling like a million bucks
magical make-up

Don’t ask me what I did differently that day, because I have no idea. I just, somehow, magically, looked far more rested and fresh and glowy than usual. Like lightning in a bottle, this whole effect has proven rather difficult to replicate. If you’ve got some new must-have beauty items to recommend, I’m all ears.

Back to the outfit, with one more word on the dress. I am starting to be less enamoured of the bell sleeves. I know they’re currently trendy, and they’re not flappy enough to actively bother me, but I feel like they make the dress look a bit “fancier” than I’d like. Plus, they’re hard to fit into blazers without wrinkling them. I’m debating taking the dress to the tailor to consider a partial sleeve-ectomy. Thoughts?

looks good from the back too
looks good from the back too
match made in heaven
match made in heaven

Weekend Fancy

Coat, J. Crew (thrifted); turtleneck, Club Monaco; skirt, Baraschi (thrifted); boots, Bandolino (thrifted); bag, Gucci (via consignment)
Coat, J. Crew (thrifted); turtleneck, Club Monaco; skirt, Baraschi (thrifted); boots, Bandolino (thrifted); bag, Gucci (via consignment)

Since I am mostly focussing on work outfits on the blog these days, I wasn’t going to post this outfit at first. For some reason, though, it got a bazillion likes on Instagram, and I reconsidered. Don’t get me wrong; I thought it was a cute outfit too. But lots of outfits this cute (or cuter even) don’t get as much positive public feedback. I find these kinds of situations very interesting, and I often end up trying to figure out just what, precisely, about the outfit photo elicited a strong reaction from people. The colours? The silhouette? The angles? The backdrop? I tend to assume it has more to do with the outfit than the surroundings, but when you think about it, that’s not necessarily true in a visual medium. Anything could make the difference.

Feel free to offer your thoughts in the comments, by the way.

close-up on skirt
close-up on skirt

Since I blog for fun and am seriously lazy, I rarely do much except muse about these things. I think it would be exhausting to have to treat every IG post as a marketing experiment — constantly tweaking and adjusting your “presence” or “brand” or whatever based on the reactions you get. I know some people think that blogging is a lark, and while that might be true for amateurs like me, I don’t think it’s remotely accurate for professional bloggers. It’s hard work — not in a physical sense, of course, but hard nonetheless. It doesn’t appear that way because we’re sort of trained to assume that social media is some kind of effortless, spontaneous form of expression whereas for a lot of (professional) bloggers each post is more akin to an advertisement. They are selling their brand, even if they are not directly selling a particular product. Think about how much work goes into making a magazine or TV ad; the work isn’t simply in the execution, but in the strategy and the research and planning that goes into informing that strategy. Seriously, I’m tired just thinking about it. One of many reasons why I won’t be quitting my day job any time soon.

Moving on from that total tangent, I’ll say just a few words about the outfit. First, the coat. Now that spring is finally around the corner, I realized that I hardly wore my winter coats apart from my everyday MaxMara workhorse. Propelled by guilt, I made an effort to bust out of my routine, and pulled out this thrifted J. Crew Lady Day coat. I’m glad I did, even though it elevated this outfit to a more colourful level than I would have otherwise chosen, because it worked so well with the skirt.

The skirt is wonderful. It’s thrifted Baraschi, and I bought it even though it was about 3 sizes too big because I loved the print so much. And it has pockets too! I wasn’t deterred by the sizing issue, because I have a simple solution for circle skirts like this one; I just fold the waist over as much as necessary, and pin it with a safety pin in an inconspicuous place. The extra fold just looks like part of the design — quite unnoticeable, I assure you. Having the skirt professionally tailored is, of course, the better option; for this style of skirt, I don’t think the cost is very high, but I prefer to wait and see if the skirt becomes a closet staple before I commit. Learned that lesson the hard way, naturally.