This will be my last post before I take my month-long hiatus from blogging. This coincides with when client work is slowest and I can take a bit of a break and focus on personal things that need attention. I usually take on one large project. Last year it was replastering and repainting my bedroom and living room walls and ceilings, and the year before that I updated my website. This year, the big project will continue to streamline client processes and procedures so we are prepared for fall.
Spring was a glorious nightmare because I wasn’t prepared and it felt like I came into the season limping because I started 2022 with COVID. It was just a strange way to start the year. I couldn’t have predicted the level of unprecedented business growth and how rapidly I needed to adjust. Every day felt like I was skydiving while building my parachute. By the start of summer, I had two contracted part-time assistants, an entirely new way of managing and delivering work to clients, databases and client rosters, an organized chart of tasks, weekly staff meetings, and a whole bunch of other procedures hadn’t existed before this year. Each and every one of these things was born out of necessity and very much in moments of crisis. There were actually times over the past months that I questioned if I would go out of business not by failing but by succeeding a little too well and not being able to handle it. I kept replaying that old UPS commercial in my head. The spring client season is the fall season’s slightly less busy sibling. Having the luxury of a few weeks to regroup and prepare ourselves isn’t a luxury, it’s critical in order to survive.
So as I finish up my last blog post here for the summer, when the clothes of this season are pretty much picked over and winter coats will be on the selling floors next month (I know, ridiculous), I asked myself what I wanted to write about and I decided it would be about my own spring and summer wardrobe goals and to take a look back at what I had planned at the start of spring and where I wound up. If you recall, I had written a post about my vision and goals in March and now that I won’t be checking in with you until September, it seemed like a good way to bookend things.
A Recap of my Spring and Summer Wardrobe: The Loves, The Mehs, What I Learned, What I Got Rid of, and How Vision Made It All Possible
Another reason I was probably enthusiastic about writing about my wardrobe is that I miss it. As with the rest of the world, it seems, I am living in the middle of a heatwave; a relentless, miserable, soul-sucking heatwave. For the record, I hate hot weather. I can handle it when it’s low humidity, and a lovely 80-degree day with a breeze, but an unrelenting long spell of 90-95 degree weather with 50% humidity? My people are grumpy western Europeans. I am descended from Vikings, mountain people, ancestors who wore wooden shoes, kilts, yodeled, and lived in drafty homes. We don’t do heat.
For what feels like a lifetime, I have been rotating my pairs of lightweight pull-on pants, my v-neck J.Crew tees, and my grey Birkenstocks because I work from home. Love all the pieces, but not every damn day. Every now and then I change it up and throw on a casual button-down, but if you want to know what I’m grabbing most days when I’ve got nowhere to be and I might as well live on the surface of the sun, it’s that. It’s sad, boring, and would be fine if I didn’t feel like a cartoon character in the world’s saddest cartoon. At least in the spring, when my home base look is basically jeans and a tee, I layer it up to make it interesting when I go out into the world. Plus, I like jeans. Jeans are my jam. I’d wear them every day until they stuck me in a grave if I could. When it’s too hot, even if I had a microscope? I couldn’t locate my interest in doing anything like layering.
This won’t last forever, it’s the upside and the downside of living in the mid-Atlantic states. No weather lasts until the end of time and soon it will be freezing again and we’ll be complaining it’s too cold. But for now, I miss my clothes, so that’s another reason why I am writing about them.
Revisiting My Style Vision
You could go back and revisit my style and wardrobe vision that I wrote about in March in its entirety here, but to recap, my style is inspired by Italy, specifically what is known as sprezzatura which translates as studied carelessness or nonchalance. I wanted to create a style that looked polished but easy, refined but laid back, and create looks that didn’t come off as overly curated or too planned yet still managed to be tailored, stylish and sophisticated.
Following that, I checked in in May with an update about where my wardrobe stood. You can read the whole post here.
My Wardrobe Updates Since May
Surprise, Surprise. I Bought More Felize Loafers
In May, I owned four pairs of Felize loafers. To date, I own six. I purchased the Blood Orange pair during M.Gemi’s semi-annual sale and the yellow pair on Poshmark about a week ago. I don’t see this as a problem, let’s move on. I even gave a tutorial in my Facebook Group on how to ensure the underside of the toes don’t get scuffed up which 100% will happen with all driving loafers. It’s a trick that works. I can’t promise I will stop at six Felize loafers and I offer no explanation or make any apologies. I have spoken at length about these shoes so to not make this another ‘rah rah for Felizes post. We’ll move on.
The Addiction Grew. I Did Not Stop With M.Gemi Loafers
Okay, so last time, I told you about my Cerchio slip-on sneaker purchase, an amazing style I basically force all clients to buy because they need to understand the comfort they offer. Since then I have purchased the following: #1, The Lizza Nuova sandals, #2 The Sacca Donna loafers,#3 The Edetta flats,#4 Elsa loafers, #5 Gia flats, #6 a pair of past season platform sandals, and #7 The Medio flat sandals.
Pairs five and six I got on Poshmark and the rest, I purchased through M.Gemi. A few pairs have been packed away for the cooler weather to come, and all of them have such exceptional comfort I actually exclaimed out loud, to nobody in an empty apartment, “oh my God. OH MY GOD!” I walked five miles in my Lizza Nuova sandals and experienced little soreness, and continue to be amazed by the quality and craftsmanship of these shoes. Basically, I spent most of the summer trading out my shoes for M.Gemi styles. Once winter and boot season hits, however, Aquatalia will likely become my ride or die again simply because their shoes are weatherproof. What can I say? Even my feet like Italian-made things.
But what rarely gets addressed but should be noted is the level of customer service M.Gemi provides. When M.Gemi sent me a muddy looking pair of Blood orange Felize loafers and I questioned the color, I had a replacement pair in 24 hours with no charge to my card. And when my client, Mrs. Wonderful received her usual size in the Lustro pumps only a few days prior to her family’s semi-permanent move to Paris and they were too small, I reached out to M.Gemi on a Friday in the oft-chance they might be receptive to sending her not one pair but two pairs in larger sizes for overnight Saturday delivery to compare which size would be best for her to keep before she left for Paris the next day. Not only did M.Gemi get back to me in less than 15 minutes, they happily agreed to my request and sent Mrs. Wonderful two pairs of shoes to try for Saturday delivery at no charge to her. They were on her doorstep before 10am the next morning, all without a charge on her card. In a time where customer service is poorly lacking and we’ve become all too accustomed to consistent mistakes being made by retailers, this level of service and consistency is not something we’ve come to expect. M.Gemi had absolutely no reason to honor this request but they did and did it in an absolutely above and beyond way.
To Date, these are all the M.Gemi shoes I own
Rachel, my assistant, told me she looked around to find out if there was an M.Gemi addiction support group in the Brooklyn area.
How I Did With My Other Shopping Goals
Here is a recap of what I anticipated I would want to add this spring when I planned my vision in March. Some things I checked off the list, other things I wound up either not needing or never getting around to buying.
The checks indicate things I purchased, the x’s are what I didn’t.
- The printed wrap skirt would have been fabulous to have gotten and I was even in touch with my client, Mrs. Wonderous, about choosing wax fabric where she lives in Senegal and having her seamstress make something fabulous and custom for me, but it was right at the height of my busy season and I couldn’t see straight let alone pick the fabric.
- I bought the orange Tod’s bag soon after my blog post about my wardrobe goals and casually mentioned it in a post at some point.
- I tried my hardest to get a navy belt, a stupid, easy, navy belt. I even ordered one before realizing I accidentally ordered a men’s belt and turned right back around in returning it.
- My grey Birkenstocks in patent leather are just a no-brainer and have been incredibly useful especially after I lost the left shoe of my gold pair. I still have no idea what happened to it. I have had a pair of Gizehs in my closet since 2008 and don’t see not having a pair anytime soon.
- The taupe t-shirt. No memory of this on my list until just now. Clearly not a priority.
- A dress like the yellow one would have been nice but my world spun on just fine without it.
- The Marine Layer navy t-shirt dress was a nightmare but I did finally get a navy t-shirt dress.
- Lastly, there wasn’t a need for a navy washable silk tee but I will probably get one for fall.
Beyond these Wardrobe Goals
Continuing on from the above list, since my last update, I also bought the following:
- Shortly prior to my trip to Toronto, I found a bright orangey-red Longchamp Neo bag and it wound up being the MVP player of the trip. This was another one of the wardrobe goals I set above. I continue to use the bag regularly and love it.
- I landed on Saint James Etrille as my Breton of choice and it was the right call. I’m not saying it is the only one to buy but I know it was the right one for me. I will be getting more styles in different sleeve lengths for fall.
- I bought two pairs of slim straight jeans from J.Crew that I love. This is my new favorite leg shape and I love higher-waist jeans. First of all, what were we thinking with low-rise jeans that cut right across our hip curves? Second, what can I say? J.Crew jeans fit me well. One pair is a slim straight curvy style that I like slightly better than the other. It’s lighter weight, a better fit and it doesn’t bag at all. Clients have also really loved it.
- After searching far and wide, I wound up getting a t-shirt dress from Monrow after locating it not in my size on the Off 5th website and then stumbling on it on Poshmark. It has become a summer staple and I will wear it into the cooler days of summer with a denim jacket.
- Cognac belt, J.Crew, check, done. Only belt I purchased, tried looking for more, but my brain didn’t have enough power to deal. I like belts, want more. Belts shouldn’t be this much of a pain to shop for.
Let’s talk about those three shirts that all got the thumb’s down next.
The striped navy and white shirt from Frank & Eileen: I so wanted to love this shirt. On all things, it was perfection and was to be my third Frank & Eileen shirt. Sadly, the Barry style cuts too tight in the chest and there was no way I could make it work, so I sold it on Poshmark. That one was rough.
But the other two were great lessons. The dreaded popover. In my vision I had set, there were these great summery looks with gauzy easy linen or cottony popover blouses. I could see myself wearing this look.
I tried first with an Eileen Fisher style. Instead of looking like a casual European, I looked like a pharmacist.
Next, I tried a J.Crew style. Marginally better, but after staring at myself on Zoom for two hours I couldn’t stand the sight of how I looked in the cut of the shirt so I took it off immediately after the meeting ended. I lasted half a day wearing it. I am currently selling it on Poshmark. I did learn through this that I am 100% a collar person. I’m still looking for that elusive popover and will probably buy one with a collar. But for now, I’m off them.
Moving on, those taupey-brown flats. Those are M.Gemi’s Esatto flats. A guarantee win, or so I thought. I bought them on Poshmark and was shocked to find them to quite possibly be the world’s least comfortable flats. Yes, I’m as shocked as you are. Don’t buy the Esatto flats. I don’t know what happened there.
Lastly, a whole bunch of wins.
- I bought a linen cardigan from Uniqlo on Poshmark right before my trip to Toronto and it came in very handy, and I now have navy cardigans in this length for both cool and warm weather.
- Next, the Rails blue and green linen striped button-down that I wear most often with my green Medio flats and white crop kick-flare jeans.
- I LOVE my navy and white gingham blouse from J.Crew about 500 times more than I expected I would.
- I haven’t been able to wear the Lafayette 148 structured Breton top that as a zip-back yet because it’s been too warm but it’s an adorable elevated piece that I’m looking forward to wearing when I want to wear a Breton look but need something nicer than just a tee.
- Another fabulous purchase has been my 210 West wallet from Hammit. Having all my cards right on the outside and ready to grab has made handling transactions, especially when my Apple watch is being a poopy head, much easier, and it’s great looking and of fabulous quality.
Wardrobe Pieces Saying Goodbye
In addition to things that I purchased that just didn’t work, I also continued to be a ruthless editor. I just don’t hem and haw. Basically, the criteria for me is if what I wear doesn’t make me feel good, I toss it. Shouldn’t that be enough anyway? That teal Madewell top, for example, when I took it off, instead of putting it in the hamper, I walked it to the garbage can. This isn’t a negotiation, I’m not going to sit and contemplate it.
I bought two Eileen Fisher Renew pieces two years ago, I think? The jumpsuit and the pants. They’re both out the door. I just don’t feel like myself in what feels wonderfully like wearing an adult onesie, so I am getting rid of the jumpsuit and the pants I don’t reach for. They’ll both go back to Eileen Fisher for another person to enjoy, along with that bad pharmacist popover.
The rest of the clothes I already touched on.
Down to the shoes. Given how many shoes I recently purchased, it was time to look at what I would never wear despite finding attractive. The first pair are Eileen Fisher I wish fit better because the color is amazing and they’re really comfortable shoes but even with stretching a bit snug. The second is the awful Esatto flat, the next two are Cole Haan which are nice but will never get chosen first. Next, is a pair of J.Crew loafers I wore once, loved, but will never choose, so I sold them. And, lastly, a pair of the Everlane Editor flats I just know will never get worn even though they are lovely. You can read my notes on each one in the photos. Basically, it was all a matter of taking a hard look at the fact that I would always choose a pair of shoes I preferred more over any one of those pairs. Why keep anything around where you know a situation like this would happen?
Analyzing the Pieces I’m Most Passionate About
It was an interesting exercise, to lay out the wardrobe items I was most passionate about and it’s something I highly recommend you try out as well. I never did it before but I think it provided a lot of intel. The clothing in your closet aren’t children, you’re not meant to love it all equally and I don’t care what Marie Kondo said, I think everything needing to spark joy is a lot of pressure. Clearly, I have no problem ridding myself of things I don’t like or won’t wear but to say I have an equal passion across the board for everything would be a lie and I think confusing for the average woman shopping for clothes. Nobody should feel meh or disenchanted, but I do think we all have our favorites or our passion pieces, and it’s those passion pieces that give us a lot of information.
So I laid out everything that when I wear it, I feel that spark of connection with myself. You know that spark. It’s that sudden feeling of confidence or recognition, like, strangely, despite the fact that you’ve been living with yourself your entire life you’re suddenly seeing yourself for the first time. You like yourself in these things, you recognize yourself, feel good, and feel confident moving about in the world. This is valuable intel.
The clothing that sparks connection and passion doesn’t even have to be the clothing you wear most often. The Loro Piana tan sandals in the top right corner, I haven’t worn yet, but I love them, feel passionate about them as my dressy summer sandals when I need them and I will keep them until they fall apart. Conversely, I love my navy Monrow t-shirt dress, truly love it, but do I feel that same passion for it? No. Finding yourself through the passion for the clothing you have isn’t an equation figured only by the number of times something gets worn, it’s more visceral and reactive than that and should also be determined by the feelings you have when you wear it. If you can’t gather many of these pieces from your wardrobe, you have some work to do.
Now the most interesting part of this exercise is the fact that I haven’t looked back at the inspirational images that I originally shared in my original blog post on March 30th since I posted them. I didn’t reread the post, didn’t keep a vision board of the images, and didn’t look at the photos ever again. Yet when you compare my favorite purchases and these visual inspirations, there are some striking similarities, aren’t there?
Need to see it broken down?
I didn’t do this by following these images or copying these looks. I had no memory of this woman in the khaki pants and top. I laughed when the outfit I wore to the theater with my mom this past Sunday was eerily similar to the woman wearing the gingham shirt and white jeans when I looked back and these photos yesterday. I just happened to buy that shirt on a whim when I noticed how comfortable I felt wearing collared shirts. The Breton look, that one didn’t surprise me as much as the others considering a navy blazer is basically my go-to. It shocked even me how I gravitated towards the things I did when I allowed myself to only be guided by what most passionately inspired me. Even when I looked ahead to some of my cooler weather inspirational images for when the weather will cool off again, I could see that my wardrobe is already prepared.
The point is, if we let our vision and what we are drawn to truly guide us in our style decisions, it will naturally help us find our way towards shaping and defining what the expression of our style naturally and truly is.
As I take a step back for a month, I know you too are busy and that this year has been full of challenges for everyone. I don’t take for granted that reading my posts is something you make time to do. I know that as my time got strained many things changed about my content and the frequency at which I could share them with you. I thank you for hanging in with me. In all things I do, I intend to do it with integrity and respect for your time and have sincere gratitude for you spending even a little bit of it with me each week. Until we meet again in September, have a wonderful rest of your summer, and try to stay cool.