Style tips to weather you through the seasons

This is from my own personal view of course, and from shopping experience, heartache and disappointment. So I’m going to try and list what I have in my own wardrobe (you can skip those sections if it’s boring), and the reasons why I bought them.

Buy quality items

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend a lot of money on items, but if you’re going to buy a winter coat, and you’ve scoured thrift stores (if that’s your thing) and can’t find anything, don’t cheap out and buy any old scratchy, itchy, wool coat that doesn’t fit as well as it should just to ‘see you through’ the winter. You probably spent about $50, maybe even $100 on this cheap wool coat right?

Well, when next winter comes around, and your coat looks beaten up, it’s pilling all over, and the stitching comes apart at the seams and you need to find ANOTHER coat, you’ll be spending another $50-$100 on another cheap coat. Why don’t you just buy ONE good coat, maybe $200-$500 (whatever your budget may be), and take really good care of it because you love it so much? You’re going to feel better at the end of the day when you wear that coat since you’ll have it on every time you go outside, and with some special care, it can last you through a couple of seasons, and cost you the same amount as if you bought a $100 winter coat every year.

I’d also suggest buying a nicer looking coat, that isn’t a sporty down-filled coat, or anything like that. The reason being that if you have to go to a fancier shindig in the middle of winter, it’s going to look quite strange if you wear a puffy jacket over your dress clothes. Whereas a dress coat, if you wore it over jeans and a t-shirt, dresses it up, and makes you look more dressed up than you really are, especially if you’re lazy and just running to the convenience store.

My trick is I am ALWAYS on the lookout for a winter coat.

FB: “Because it’s on sale/cheap, and women need different lengths of coats for different outfits. It doesn’t look right to have a half-coat with a longer dress, but sometimes it’s just too heavy/cumbersome to wear a long coat when you’re running out in jeans.”

I had/have a very long $100 black wool coat from Le Chateau – which I threw out when we moved the last time, because the wool matted down so much on it, it was scratchy and I had it since I was in Grade 8. Yep… Grade 8. It was time to let it go.

My second coat was a $200 dress ivory cashmere/wool blend coat that is luxuriously soft and GORGEOUS.

I have a $15 thrift-store Gap “wool” coat – it was so thin, it was almost laughable that they would think someone would be able to wear this coat in a Canadian winter, and not have to wear an additional 50 layers to keep warm. It originally cost $100 (I checked similar styles in stores), and I had it nipped in at the front with princess seams to make it a bit more fitted. I use it as my autumn sweater coat, since it’s so thin.

Last winter I picked up an ankle-length dove grey cashmere-wool blend coat by Isaac Mizrahi for $100, when it was originally priced at $300! This was near the end of winter, start of summer, so stores were trying to sell their old winter stock.

I just bought that grey Atmosphere waist coat for $8 that is super warm and comfy.

I used to have this white coat that felt like real suede but it wasn’t, and was machine washable! That was clearly a lie, because when you washed it, the stains never came out of it once it was in the fabric – it was permanently stained whatever colour happened to fall on it.

And every time I go into a thrift store, I check the winter coat section for any new finds. You’d be surprised at what people donate because of a small rip in the lining, or they just got a new coat that looks JUST like their old one, etc. But I also do this in the mall too – I’ll look out for coat deals like 2-for-1, or really good quality coats that are on for a third of their original price.

The same goes for autumn coats. I have a gorgeous $200 red knee-length Jacob coat that I have worn so many times in a row, the cost per wear is so low, it isn’t funny.

Stick to what you know

So the trend for this year is high waists is it?

I’m sorry, but it just won’t fly with me and my body type as it isn’t stick thin. I have a bit of a belly, and these pants actually make me look like I have a bigger paunch than I do because it goes up to my waist, and then the material drapes down over my lower half of the belly and cups it, emphasizing its roundness. In addition, my proportions are off and it makes my whole upper half look miniscule compared to my bottom half; and while I want longer, leaner legs, I don’t want to look like I’m all legs and no torso. Besides, it’s hard for me to breathe when I wear high-waisted pants. If you’re all torso and no legs, maybe it’d be a good look for you, but not for me, that’s for sure.

But on super tall, skinny models, it looks perfectly proportioned, stylish and effortless, quite chic actually. But they’re tall. They can pull it off because their legs look enviably longer, and their torso looks normal in real-people’s standards.

High-waists are just ONE of the trends out there today, and quite frankly I’m loving where the rest of it is going – more vintage and glamourous.

Whatever you pick as your favourite ‘style’, even if it’s t-shirt and jeans, you can always accessorize. Accesories are the cheapest, most versatile way to trendify (not even a real word, hah!) your basic uniform and keep you current and up to date even if you can’t wear what’s out there.

Be critical of fit

Fit is pretty important because if a gorgeous, designer item doesn’t fit on you, then A) you won’t wear it and B) if you do wear it, you feel awkward and gawky in it and far from being the confident woman (or man) that you really are. Bigger and looser is not necessarily better. And super skin tight and clingy isn’t either. What you are aiming for is the happy medium between the two: beautiful drape and body-skimming (not clinging).

Also be wary of buying items in a size smaller, even though you managed to squeeze into it in the dressing room. I have done this on a number of occasions, and I have regretted it every time. If it doesn’t fit, no matter how gorgeous it is, PUT IT BACK. Your purse will thank you later. If it’s too big, get it nipped at the tailor’s at the right spots to make it a bit more fitted.

Black is not always where it’s at

Black washes out a lot of skintones and makes them look paler, and less bronze-y and attractive as they could be. Try dark brown or burgundy (or navy.. but I associate navy with “old” for some reason), if you can’t get away from your black mindset.

But if you’re willing to go a baby step further, wear jewel tones like ruby red, emerald green, sapphire blue, amethyst violets…Those are usually as far as I go in terms of colour. I’m starting to get into buttery yellows.

Most people can wear ANY shade in the rainbow, it just depends on what TONE and hue of saturation that you decide to wear, and WHERE. Either in a top, in a bottom, a purse, accessories, etc.

The next baby step is patterns. Try stripes, smaller polka dots, squares, and move into modern florals, or anything that really catches your eye.

Me, I’m avoiding basics. I have too many plain t-shirts, and plain pants. I’m looking at grey plaids, argyle prints, mixing prints within a single top, or anything that isn’t BORING, although I’m quite partial to pinstripes.

Keep your hair up to date

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen women with the right outfits and shoes, only to look up and see really teased up hair in the front and frizzy at the back. Or other haircuts that just don’t flatter their face. What you could do, is go to a good salon ONCE, ask them what they think would suit you, get it cut that way, see if you like it. Then take a picture, and go to a cheaper place like First Choice Haircutters the next time, and show them the pictures of what you want your haircut to look like.

Me, I always go to a cheap chain like First Choice Haircutters because I know what I want – layering, a bit of razoring, and my hair just below my shoulders by a couple of inches. That’s it. And I keep looking at celebrity hair styles to see if I can tweak it some other way, but in general, something as drastic as teasing it up super high, or a blunt cut of the bangs, or anything that requires quite a bit of effort in the morning to make it presentable, may be a sign that it isn’t the right cut for you. I’m more of a wash-n-go girl, and I’ve just recently started rubbing in some hair products, but only when I remember.

And if I can’t stand my hair, I throw it up in a ponytail, or a low ponytail.

And don’t forget your makeup

Most women tend to wear their day face all day or their night face all day. The better of the two is if you wear your day face all day, because your night face in the daytime would make you look overdone. Too much foundation, concealer, all caked on, with bright eyeshadow, and long fake lashes, topped off with bright lips. At night, it looks great because you need to put on more makeup to have it show up at night without daylight. But in the daylight, it’s overpowering.

Also, not only lightening your makeup, but maybe changing what colours you are using might help as well. I find that light silvers, bronzes, or golds are the best colours for most skintones, or if you like things more subtle, matte neutrals and taupes. Sure they barely show up, but wear a dark brown or black eyeliner, and some curled eyelashes, set with black mascara. To finish off, a quick swipe of some light blush, concealer on some sections, a good swipe of lip balm, and I’m out the door.

I see a lot of women stuck in a rut, like wearing bright blue eyeshadow with bright hot pink lips with dark lipliner around the lip edges, because that’s what they’re used to, and that’s what they think loks BEST on them, but really, it isn’t. Just going into Sephora and asking for a NATURAL makeover, might really change your mind as to what is appropriate and current.

So, those are my few tips – any from the readers?

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.