Classic With a Twist

Casual chic.

Like Cinnamon, I’m going off topic today and talking about clothes, so if that doesn’t interest you, feel free to wander off and I’ll see you next time.

I’m pretty sure I wrote on here that when I moved away from D.C. to the super-casual Southwest, I stamped my dainty foot and declared, “I’ll never dress like a grown-up again!” I now live in a place where (with a few job-related exceptions) you can pull on jeans or sweatpants for most things if you want to, or rock a more eclectic look.  I did some collecting and repairing of old blouses and floor-length skirts for my version of Edwardian dress; otherwise I was probably in jeans (winter) or a cotton kurta (summer).

But to my great surprise, I started missing the kind of work clothes I put on for literal decades. I love clothes, and all the accessories, and I kept some of my nicest, dressiest items like blazers and skirts, etc. In the meantime, one branch of fashion has been the “quiet luxury” look, aka dressing like a grown-up, and I’ve always been allergic to flashy logos. So I’ve been enjoying trying to create my version of that vibe, including its stylish cousin, the high-low look – e.g., jeans with a really nice blazer. It’s a balance of pulled together but not too much, and I have the pieces in my wardrobe already.

Browsing for great finds.

Where I go frequently and hilariously wrong is: those clothes were a work uniform for so long that before you know it, I’ve gone full Brooks Brothers corporate, which is not the goal! But like many things, it takes practice, and I’m getting better at it. It’s also a great time of year for this experiment, I’ve always loved winter outfits more, with their cosy cashmere and wool and leather boots. We’ll see what happens when it gets hot out.

Also I realized that other than things like undergarments, I haven’t bought a brand new piece of clothing in quite some time. There are lots of thrift/consignment shops here at various price points, and (unsurprisingly) the dressy blazers and skirts and pants don’t fly off the racks, so I’ve gotten some gorgeous things in the past few months, including a vintage black cashmere coat in perfect condition (no moth holes!) for a song. I acknowledge the advantage I have of 1) being a smaller person who 2) actually enjoys digging through racks of dross, panning for gold, so I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s been nice knowing I’m not contributing to the massive fabric landfill problem. I’m also guessing anyone reading this isn’t stocking up on hauls from Shein, although I could be wrong.

What’s going on in your wardrobe right now? Any style changes or refreshes? Any goals for clothing, hair, makeup in 2024?

images: Pexels

  • Maggiecat says:

    I’ve been known to get compliments on my “style.”. The humor can be found in the fact that my ” style” is an apparently successful attempt to hide the fact that I am virtually always in jeans and a t-shirt. Dressy jeans, jackets, blazers, and cardigans do the trick, thankfully!

  • Musette says:

    Welp! as you know… I live in Big Ag Land, at the back of beyond. A complete 180 from my former life.
    And… eh… I think I’ve come up with some sort of signature style that (mostly) works for my daily life: leggings (because all my Winter free time is spent at the gym), boots… something warm atop. The boots are really my Statement: today I’m wearing bright pink furry ankle boots to complement my elegant 😉 muted grey/pink/green camo leggings. Come Summer it’ll be those wackadoo sundresses or shorts (if my legs hold up)
    Site meetings it’s always jeans and steel toes because site


  • Dina C. says:

    I always enjoy when you talk wardrobe, March. I love what you’re doing now. High-low mix sounds great and stylish. I’m holding onto my resolve to buy natural textiles, well-made garments, fewer but better. Like you I love winter things. Lately I’ve added some sweats because I started taking an exercise class and needed some. Finding good, supportive, cute shoes is a challenge. My hair, bright silver grey and long, gets the most comments. I prefer skin care products rather than foundation. I always wear some eye makeup, blush, and lip color.

    • March says:

      Yeah, sweats / class-appropriate exercise stuff is a must. I realized last year I didn’t own a single pair of shorts, which I needed for workouts. Oooh, I bet your hair is gorgeous! I’m also silver and got the compliment from a young woman in a store recently asking me where I got it colored (I still have dark lowlights.) My makeup routine is a lot like yours — mascara, blush and lip color makes me look a lot more alive.

  • Kathleen says:

    I work from home in lounge clothes, and spend the rest of my day walking outdoors with my dog. I’ve invested mostly in warm active wear for winter outdoors or lightweight cover up for sun protection in summer, in recent years. I’ve worn the jeans with nice blazer and cute top underneath for years for dinners out with friends for winter and a simple dress in summer.

    • March says:

      Sun protection — such a key element. I’ve got all the hats, the SPF, the sun shirts… see, you were rocking the casual chic for a long time! I guess I associated blazers with work and never wore them otherwise.

  • Portia says:

    This sounds so cool March,
    I’m a sloppy dresser, at best. I do have a bunch of nice shirts that rarely, if ever, get worn. A couple of blazers, same.
    In summer you’ll find me in a tank and shorts. Winter in polo, jumper, jeans. All year except the coldest I’m in flip flops.
    It’s an extreme change from growing up and then working in fashion.
    Portia xx

    • March says:

      Hey, whatever you are most comfortable in! It was lovely, actually, not to have to dress up after so long where it was a requirement. It’s a source of pleasure for me now or I would say, no thanks!

  • cinnamon says:

    I love when you do these sorts of posts, March. And always interesting to see the comments. Post years of work from home, my closet is now half beautiful skirts I can’t part with, a few fancy blouses, and some amazing shoes that hardly get worn but are much adored plus the much more casual trousers, tops and dresses that get worn to bits — with ankle boots in the cold (granny tie-ups, Chelseas) and sandals or Chuck Taylors in warmer weather. I’ve lost over 10lbs in the last six months and happily almost everything I own now fits again after three years. No concrete goals at the moment. Maybe in six months …

    • March says:

      Thanks, I love reading comments too! Ooooh, that’s great about your weight — now that you don’t have work / work stress, hopefully you can get out and walk more. My closet definitely has some gorgeous things that I will probably never wear but can’t bear to part with.

  • alityke says:

    Jeans & a nice top or t-shirt & blazer are my go tos too. Classic straight leg Levi’s or the Sculpt jeans from Next are my current favourites.
    My downsize includes my work clothes. Yes I retired in 2017 & haven’t yet got rid of them!
    I was told about Smart Works, a UK charity that takes pre loved workwear & distributes it to women who are looking for work but have nothing suitable for interview & to wear to work if successful.
    I’m now going through my work wardrobes for appropriate items including bags & shoes. I have now accepted I’ll never wear those skyscraper heels again.

    Now I just have to find a Mother of the Groom outfits.

    • cinnamon says:

      oooh, congrats on wedding. there must be snazzy shops fairly near you?

      • alityke says:

        Leeds, York or Manchester yes. I’d prefer to shop at a boutique than a department store. Guess I need to get a bobby on & do some searching.
        Hats! They make me look like a mushroom from Fantasia.

    • March says:

      I donated all my too-large workwear to a similar organization in the US, it felt really good to do so. It’s called Dress for Success here, I think. I gave up on high heels a loooong time ago, it’s pretty much flats. Congratulations on the upcoming nuptials!

    • Alison says:

      Levi’s! I grew up riding horses and have worn Levi’s since I was a tyke, now in my 60s. Nothing else has ever fit as well so, why bother? Maybe my body has shaped itself to them. I buy all my Levi’s on eBay, straight leg and boot cut.

  • Tom says:

    I tend to replace things when they get worn out- my day of dressing up are pretty much over. If I have to more than a blazer, tie and chinos I’m not going. I do love sweaters though.

    My goal is to peel off the weight I put on during Covid. I’m tired of it. I hate needles and it’s waaaaay too pricey otherwise I might try Ozempic.

    • alityke says:

      My friend was prescribed Ozempic for her T2 diabetes. Despite it really helping stabilise her blood sugars her GP had to change her prescription. The reason? There is a shortage of it. Why a shortage? The supply is largely getting into the markets where it can be bought for weight loss rather than prescribed.

    • March says:

      You strike me as a classic preppy sweater guy, and they’re perfect for where you live, when it’s a “chilly” 65F (or someone’s got the air conditioning cranked lol.) Weight loss is HARD. Especially with all the tempting foods where you are.

      • Tom says:

        I just have to convince myself (again) that kale is delicious and fulfilling and everything else tempting is disgusting

  • MMKinPA says:

    I don’t buy clothes often. I went from a comfortable sitting on the floor preschool music teacher wardrobe pre-covid to jeans and Lands End Starfish pants now. For my sports photography work I have one or two pairs of sturdy jeans (since I still sit on the floor/ground quite often) and then some nicer ones for everyday life. For “dress up” I’m usually in a nice black trouser. Haven’t worn a dress in ages! My last corporate clothing type job was in 1996 (thereafter worked in IT for years) so I don’t even have a vestige of that wardrobe left!

    • March says:

      I’m not sure I own any dresses any more! I had some classic sheath dresses I gave away … I’m more a separates gal (plenty of skirts). Lots of jeans over here, and I’m always on the hunt for “dress” pants that won’t show dirt lol.