Ask Sissy: Our New Fashion Editor-at-Large

Looking for a way to break the rules with a few new ones to live by, we teamed up with Sissy Sainte-Marie last year for a series that broke us free of skin-tight jeans and body con, and made us appreciate coat season a whole lot more. If you’ve been following along, you’ve probably already met Sissy and taken a few notes. So we are beyond excited to announce this rad lady is now our Fashion Editor-at-Large. She will be penning a column every month and sharing her sage style advice, and signature deadpan. Man, we love her.

To kick things off, we compiled a few of your frequently asked questions and outfit woes for her to answer.

Q. I’VE READ A LOT THIS PAST YEAR ABOUT THE CAPSULE WARDROBE. WHAT CLOSET STAPLES SHOULD I REALLY BE INVESTING IN? – Christine, Washington, DC

A. I am a person who dreams night and day of the ease of a daily uniform and a capsule wardrobe. But, I love clothing and tend to lack impulse control in acquiring more and more of it. In my line of work I get offered a lot of gifts, store credits and trade. Sometimes I end up impulsively choosing things I never end up wearing more than once. Or I pounce feverishly on one item that goes with nothing I own and end up buying four more things to build an outfit around that thing I didn’t need in the first place. An overflowing closet paired with a depleted bank account is never a good look.

I know I’m not the only one going through this cycle of absurdity. I think the renewed focus on a capsule wardrobe is a reaction to the relentless flow of trends we are bombarded with ad nauseam. It can get to a point where we feel suffocated by our stuff and begin to radically reject the constant pressures of consumerism in order to protect our mental health, our savings and our planet. It is only natural to see an interest in buying less, choosing versatility and practicality over ephemera.

When you find that perfect black turtleneck sweater. Isla Sweater by Shaina Mote
When you find that perfect black turtleneck sweater. Isla Sweater by Shaina Mote

 

The particular items for your capsule wardrobe should be determined by your individual lifestyle, tastes, and day-to-day needs, but I can give you some guidelines for investing. I have actually been devising a point system for smarter shopping because I’m a geek like that.

The questions:
– IS IT A STAPLE? CAN IT BE WORN ON A REGULAR BASIS / EVERYDAY?
– IS IT APPROPRIATE FOR A VARIETY OF OCCASIONS AND SETTINGS?
– DO YOU NEED IT RIGHT NOW?
– IS IT VERSATILE / ABLE TO BE WORN WITH AT LEAST THREE THINGS YOU CURRENTLY OWN?
– IS IT WEATHER APPROPRIATE RIGHT NOW?

Scoring: 1 point for each yes answer. Prioritize purchases accordingly.

TIER 1: 4-5 points (Example: a black turtleneck, canvas sailor pants, black ankle boots, a trench coat)

TIER 2: 3-4 points (Example: a warm coat, a white cotton shirt or blouse, vintage jeans)

TIER 3: 1-2 points (Example: low heel pump, suede sandals, a black dress)

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White shirt, black pants, never goes wrong. Lemaire Two-Pleat Pants.

 

Fine tuning:

Buy now or later? Determine what to buy now and what to save for later. I know I will need some new sandals soon, but today I’ll buy black ankle boots to replace the ones I wore to oblivion over the last two years.

Buy this one or that one? Determine what’s the most practical and durable. I had my eye on four white prairie-style blouses. I opted for the one with the least embellished neckline and I chose cotton over silk. Avoid items that require dry cleaning and feel fussy on your body or too fancy to wear in your daily life.

Is it too similar to something I already have?
Unless it’s a second black turtleneck that you need for rotation due to frequency of wear, avoid buying redundant items. Instead, purchase something that fills a gap in your wardrobe rather than say, a fourth leather bucket bag. Maybe a camel sweater, but not a forest green one, or Kamm pants in a new neutral color, if that’s what will round out your capsule wardrobe.

Is it a safeguard? Sometimes we must make precautionary purchases that will provide peace of mind when the inevitable day comes. Rain boots, sure, but more importantly heels. You’ll no doubt need a pair of heels for more formal events and occasions. Invest in a simple closed-toe pump in black. Whether or not you end up wearing them as often as loafers or boots, they will be essential in a pinch and you’ll be glad you have them handy when you get that last minute invitation. Same goes for a party-ready black dress or jumpsuit.

Is this right for my lifestyle? Can you wear beautiful flowing wide leg trousers on the daily or is a fine cotton twill more your bag? What’s the dress code at your place of employment? Do you attend a lot of meetings and events for which you need to look spiffy? Or do you need to get down and dirty at work? Be careful to not buy clothing that doesn’t suit your needs. It will end up unworn and wasting space. Buy what you’ll get the most use out of.

But…but… Do I just like it and want it despite it being completely impractical and something I’ll only wear fewer times than I can count on one hand? Sometimes a “yes” answer to this question trumps the point system, moving an item to the top of the cart. You gotta have a little fun! But these purchases are only advisable once you have your capsule wardrobe firmly in place. Without starting the cycle of suffocating consumption all over again, strive for 90% practical and 10% trophy items–or whatever ratio brings you the most peace of mind. So, if you really want that tassel choker, honey, you go and get it!

Try it now. Go fill up your Garmentory cart with anything that strikes your fancy and follow the steps outlined above. I can’t wait to see what you choose!

Shop Sissy’s Picks >

 

Q. HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN A TREND IS RIGHT FOR YOU? IT’S FUN TO TRY SOMETHING NEW BUT HOW DO YOU KNOW IF IT WORKS OR IF IT REALLY DOESN’T? – Laura, Toronto, ON

A. Well, I think it simply comes down to how you feel in it. I never thought I’d be a jeans person until I tried on the right pair. I wish I could be a sneaker person, but I’m just not feeling it, or any sportswear for that matter. But I sure love seeing it on other people who wear it well. Somewhere between being in a style rut and being a try-hard, there’s a world where comfort meets courage at the heavenly axis of our own truth. I do advise looking to runways, street style photos, print magazines and Instagram influencers for inspiration and fresh ideas. You may want to try a small fraction of them. But when you’re in front of the mirror, search for an honest feeling inside. You should always feel at ease, and unapologetically fabulous in what you’re wearing. Weather you are walking on Bic lighter heels or cushy Air Max soles, you should feel like you are walking your in your own lane. Always keep in mind this quote from Iris Apfel: “The worst fashion faux pas is to look in the mirror and not see yourself.”

Have you given off-the-shoulder tops a go? Signature Annie Top by Sincerely, Tommy.
Have you given off-the-shoulder tops a go? Signature Annie Top by Sincerely, Tommy.

 

Knowing who you are style-wise may take years to master through trial and error. That is why I advise trying things on just for the hell of it. How else are you supposed to know? Avoid trips to anxiety-inducing, big brick and mortar stores with their overly crammed racks, tiny dressing rooms, bad lighting, and pushy salespeople. Impulse buys under these circumstances will be a set-back on your journey. Take advantage of the sweet return policies of online retailers and order up a storm of trends so you can try whatever you want in the privacy of your own home at your leisure. Do this alone. Don’t go taking polls from your friends, family, roommates or social media followers. It needs to look and feel right to you and you alone.

What you find may surprise you. A beige linen suit that you imagined would be so conservative and mumsy on you, might feel radically fresh and unexpectedly rebellious in it’s smart simplicity once you give it a whirl. A modest, oversized dress may make you feel more dignified than dowdy. You may feel more tough and empowered in a waist cinching sundress than a borrowed-from-the-boys ensemble. That Issey Miyake that looks all crazy on the hanger might touch you in all the right ways and be your magic portal into a new style dimension. Or, you might try a bra top over a button down shirt and say, “I look like a frumpy dumb dumb.” Ah-ha moments abound with an adventurous spirit and free returns.

Shop Sissy’s Picks >

 

Q. I LOVE LOOKING AT ALL THE BRIGHT HUES DURING FASHION WEEK, BUT I HAVE A PRETTY SEVER PHOBIA OF COLOR IN MY OWN WARDROBE. HOW CAN I TRY IT AND FIND WHICH COLORS WORK FOR ME? – Shannon, Minneapolis, MN

A. Funny you should ask because I was on a similar journey in 2016. My go-to palette mostly runs the gamut from cream to beige, but like you I’ve been thinking a lot about trying to get outside the box, even dedicating a Pinterest board to colors and combos.

When I was a kid, all the moms and grandmas went to these Color Me Beautiful parties to determine their “season” which would act as a guide to which colors looked best on them. (Peach and turquoise if you were lucky in 1985.) Since you’ve already admitted to being color-phobic, taking Carole Jackson’s season analysis quiz may only serve to induce a panic attack if periwinkle and magenta show up on your swatch of advisable colors.

To start, ease into color by opting for garments and accessories in muted tones like sage green, mustard, plum, garnet and amber. These tones can act as new neutrals, pairing well with black, brown, beige and ecru currently in your closet. Evolve into brighter colors starting with accessories such as lime green sandals or an egg-yolk-yellow bag. These colors will also pair well with more traditional colors like charcoal, navy or olive, likely already in your wardrobe.

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Pairing a bold skirt with neutrals softens the blow. Maryam Nassir Zadeh Renata Pleated Skirt in Acid.

 

Once you’re ready to take a further plunge into bright colors, don’t start mixing it up right away. First opt for a dress or jumpsuit in a bright color that looks good on you. Remember all the chic ladies who were photographed wearing the tangerine-colored Rejina Pyo dress during fashion week? You can do it, too. Get yourself a brightly colored dress or jumpsuit to wear to an event or occasion this spring. Feel good? Feel powerful? If so, start wearing dresses and jumpsuits in similar colors for everyday. Then try pairing it with with statement footwear.

After you feel a sense of mastery with dress/shoe combinations, you’re ready to move onto separates. Try pumpkin-orange pants with a sky blue top and fire engine red shoes. (But please don’t wear khaki pants with a red top unless you work at Target.) If you’ve found your calling, you’ll soon be playing sartorial-jazz like you’re on Alessandro Michele’s Gucci catwalk, piling on prints, textiles and accessories of every hue. If, on the other hand, you felt like a Teletubby in that chartreuse pant suit you wore to your cousin’s wedding, let yourself off the hook and run back to those ride-or-die neutrals. Bright colors aren’t for everyone and that’s okay. We can’t all be as fly as Miss Frizzle. True style is about knowing what works best for you. But, at least you can say you tried.

Shop Sissy’s Picks >

Have a burning style question you want answered? Comment below! Our Ask Sissy column will be back in the Spring.

A Winter Dilemma: Fight Or Flight?

Winter is pretty much inescapable at this point so it’s time to make your move (or lack thereof): fight or flight? People generally fall into two camps when it comes to temperatures dropping. The fighters love winter and snow and everything that goes with it. The flight-ers, as it were, are not having any of it and find any chance they get to escape to balmy weather. We are what feels like 100 days into winter. Some of us are over it, checking Expedia obsessively, and others continue to embrace the frosty feels, checking the snowfall on the local mountain obsessively. We’ve been debating this winter dilemma here at Garmentory HQ, we have comprehensive arguments for both sides. Hear us out and then decide whether your January will be filled with hot cocoa and blanket scarves or iced coffee and summer slides.

Let’s Fight

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Photo by SWORDS-SMITH

Okay, so even though the twinkle lights are coming down and the holiday music has stopped playing, winter is still here. In fact it feels stronger than ever. Temperatures keep dropping, snow is falling (some places), and we are still very much into buying oversized sweaters and endless winter accessories. Could you be this cozy in the tropics? I don’t think so. The winter fighters bundle up and brave the outdoors and actually love the winter months. It might seem crazy but here are a few reasons why:

  • Scarves so big they are blankets.
  • Layering… so much layering.
  • Cozying up to a fireplace with a cup of coffee (and Baileys).
  • Not feeling guilty AT ALL about staying inside all day and night watching Netflix.
  • Two words: comfort food. (Secondary point, all those layers we mentioned above.)
  • Enjoying every cliché yet undeniably fun winter activity – skiing, ice skating, snowball fights, sleigh rides, etc.

If all those wintery wonderland things appeal to you, then shop here so you can fight the cold in style.

 

Taking Flight

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Photo by Tony Lowe

On the opposite side of the spectrum there are some of us that simply cannot handle the winter. We find it hard to leave the house when it’s still dark out (all the time) and we’re exhausted from having to put on a thousand layers to stay warm, then take them off every time we go indoors. We spend this time of year daydreaming of sand, sandals, no pants and iced coffee. We’re booking every flight we can to get into the sunshine and here’s why:

  • That natural Vitamin D.
  • NO PANTS (as previously said).
  • Drinks on the beach… at noon.
  • No chance of slipping on black ice.
  • A head start on that tan.
  • Long walks on the beach (no dating profile pun intended).

If you’re ready to pack your bags then shop here for every sunny vacation necessity.

Make A Statement: Jewelry For Winter

It’s hard to believe that it is almost time to decorate our Christmas trees. Of course we have been concentrating on more important things to decorate this winter. Yes, we are talking about ourselves. From necklaces to earrings to bracelets, we’ve got endless options to help you get decked out for the season. Now we know it’s a difficult time of year to show off your bling due to the thousands of layers, but adding the right finishing pieces will help make you feel less like an abominable snowman and more like accessory queen Iris Apfel. Our top three? Go for big statement necklaces that stand out between your scarf and coat, unique bangles that can be worn over gloves or cool drop earrings that peek out from your beanie.

“I think jewelry can change an outfit more than anything else. Transformation, punch, individuality: one or all of the above are why you should wear jewelry.” – Iris Apfel

 

The Best Layering Turtlenecks In Every Color

Let’s be honest: turtlenecks haven’t always had the best rep. They’ve been called names like ‘frumpy’ and ‘dorky’, and are constantly associated with your elderly grandmother. But times have changed. Once just reminiscing about their ’70s heyday, turtlenecks have made a serious comeback. They’ve made it onto the runways (via Christian Dior, Creatures of the Wind and Tory Burch) and into pretty much all of our favorite, fashion-forward boutiques. And this season they are taking on an important role as the lead layering piece. Throw them under a dress, an oversized sweater or even a basic tee, and you’ve made your outfit winter ready and another step cooler. We’ve selected our favorite layering turtlenecks in every color because we’re convinced you’ll need them all this season.

How To Wear Wide Leg Pants This Winter

We love wide leg pants as much as we love happy hour (and that’s a lot). They are the easy, breezy, beautiful Covergirl of pants: comfortable, flattering and the perfect piece to tie an outfit together. During the warmer (dryer) seasons they are simple go-to pants, but as winter rolls up a few tricks are in order to pull them off without completely ruining the bottoms in rain and slush. Consider the cropped wide leg pant as the holy grail for all seasons. Whether they are just above the ankle or up to mid calf, we highly recommend picking up your hem for winter. Not only will this avoid the unruly weather at your feet, but it is also the perfect trick to show off your shoes… and socks.

THE PANTS

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Winter Cords

A pair of wide leg corduroy trousers are the perfect winter white pant. The warm cream color matches with, well, basically anything, and their slightly cropped fit will keep them in a mud-free zone. We love them paired with classic leather boots such as the Intentionally Black Jacob boot, which are the perfect height.

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Classic Black Trousers

Everyone needs a pair of black trousers in their life. We especially love these Silvae twill pants. They out-style any old run-of-the-mill black pants with a paper bag waist and unique embroidered buttonholes. Fairly above ankle, they are perfect for showing off your fancy socks so pair them with LOQ block heeled pumps for full sock exposure.

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Fun Work Pants

Made of soft raw silk and high waisted, these golden-hued Ali Golden trousers are a great addition to your wide leg pant collection. Their pleated waistline gives them a more work appropriate feel but never doubt these trousers can be dressed both up and down easily. With the rolled cuff we love them paired with Coclico’s gray patchwork ankle boot.

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Off-Duty Denim

Of course a good pair of jeans is essential. We have to admit that the wide leg cut is our all-time favorite. This cropped pair by Neuw are definitely easy on the eyes. The almost primary blue color feels fresh and the length is pretty much perfect. We love them paired with the No. 6 clogs in rust. The two hues would look unreal together.

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Cuffed Trousers

The Luisa Et La Luna Matilda pant takes cuffed pants to whole new level. They are cropped above ankle and have a slightly flared leg making them perfect for almost any shoe type. We particularly love them with the Coclico Leitzel, showing off the amazing suede patchwork detailing.

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Top 3 Must-Have Winter Scarves, Gloves And Hats

We’ve all got that box of trusty winter accessories in the back of our closet. It’s filled with your favorite staples that you can’t get rid of and old Christmas gifts from those relatives you really only see around the holidays. Well, we think it is time that box got an upgrade. Winter is the best time to accessorize mostly because it’s pretty much essential to keeping warm. We’ve pulled together our favorite must-have scarves, gloves and hats so you can survive winter in style. Mix it up this year with different textures and patterns, try fingerless gloves (we promise they still keep you warm), and move beyond your basic black beanie with new styles you thought you’d never try. With these accessories within reach, you’ll actually want to abandon the couch, get outside and take on the cold.

Four Ways To Wear Fall’s Favorite Luxe Trend

Velvet has come in and out of our lives at about the same rate as Winona Ryder. But this year our velvet crush has finally crossed the line into timeless, and screen-stealing, territory. It’s not going anywhere and, thankfully, neither is Winona. We saw velvet take over the FW16 runways (via Marc Jacobs, Opening Ceremony, 3.1 Philip Lim and many more) and now it’s blending in IRL more than ever. This luxe fabric features on everything from slip dresses to bomber jackets to ankle boots. With so many options, we’re loving this shimmery soft fabric more than ever as it can truly give any outfit a little extra something. We’ve pulled together four of our favorite ways to wear it and we suggest you try them all seeing that this trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

WEAR IT SOLO

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Of course velvet is the perfect fabric for a statement dress. For full wow power during the holiday party season, wear it full length with a draped dress like this Upstate Amalfi Dress.

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If you aren’t really a dress girl try a matching two piece outfit. It’s still a totally polished look for the holidays, plus it can be worn as separate pieces creating endless outfit options.

WEAR IT AS A LAYER

Bring the fancy down a notch by layering a velvet dress over everyday pieces like your fave white tee. Layering this luxe fabric with a more casual texture gives it a serious chill-girl vibe.

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Try it as a top layer over a more casual outfit. We love this velvet Stine Goya coat, for example. It’s the perfect way to add a touch of luxe velvet to your outfit without feeling overdressed.

WEAR IT TEXTURED

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Velvet is already such a unique texture so why not up the ante and add more? We love this quilted skirt. It elevates the fabric to a whole new level.

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Pleated velvet couldn’t be more beautiful. This preppy vibe is even better when paired with casual pieces like sneakers and a sweatshirt.

 

WEAR IT IN UNEXPECTED COLORS

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Instead of the usual black, eggplant or merlot, try velvet in a bold, bright shade. It’s an unexpected way to wear the popular trend, plus it’s an easy way to brighten up those gloomy winter days.

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Blush pink is another punchy, fresh color for velvet. The feminine shade creates a super soft look, which is great for all seasons.

Cozy Up To These Shoes

Fall is the perfect time to splurge on new shoes (or at least that’s what we tell ourselves) to keep your feet cozy and comfortable. This season we are absolutely loving anything with soft texture – we’re basically looking to get as close to the unavoidable comfort and warmth of Uggs without actually wearing them. From velvet to shearling to faux fur, luckily we have a ton of options. Plus, it’s the warmest thing to happen to shoes yet. We’re loving how Mari Giudicelli does it subtly with her Leblon Mule or how Bronze Age goes full on with their Neko Fur Babouche. When it comes to needing true winter warmth (we’re talking to you, east coasters) shearling is the way to go. Another cozy look is velvet. It has that soft luxurious look and feel, but keeps it sleek. So whether you decide on fur, shearling or velvet – or all of them – your feet will thank you.

It’s a winter wonderland for Fieldguided’s Anabela Piersol

Anabela Piersol of Fieldguided embraces the colder months for her December mood board.

“According to a recent article in Fast Company, the people of Norway don’t look at winter as something to dread, but instead as something to enjoy. It might seem difficult to wrap our minds around this mindset, but this winter, let’s look to the Norwegians: a few simple DIY projects, cozy knits, twinkle lights, hot drinks (booze optional!), and the occasional ice skating trip certainly can’t hurt.”