20×30 outfits and after-thoughts

20x30 outfits and thoughts

My whole big 20×30 experiment for Slow Fashion October turned out to be more fun and informative than I might have imagined. And also a little bit addictive! (It was also the cause of my taking more selfies in one month than I have over several years. I managed it almost every weekday.) I began the month vowing that I wasn’t going to be a slave to the plan — as I said to the Crafty Planner, it was meant to be a game not a sentence — but once I got started, I found I didn’t want to waver from it. I really wanted to know if I could go a whole month wearing only 20 garments. The answer is … sort of!

For one thing, operating off of a limited number of clothes — especially if you wash them comparatively rarely, like I do — requires a certain level of organization if you’ve got things like a trip and a photo shoot on the calendar. So there were a couple of days where I had pretty much the whole set in the wash and had to wear something else. There were also a couple of weekend days at the start of the month where I basically didn’t get dressed. And while I originally thought I would treat the Rhinebeck trip as a time-out from all this (with the notion that it would be cold there), the mild weather made it possible to mostly stick to the plan after all. The exception being that I only wanted to take one sweater, and it needed to be one that would go with everything, every day, so I traded the camel cardigan in the original plan (which hadn’t been worn) for my little black cardigan.

I also didn’t actually wear 20 garments. The natural pants never got finished, nor the raglan seam fixed on my striped sweater, so neither of those made an appearance, which wiped out a lot of the possible outfits from the lineup. And the persistent warm weather meant the five sweater-sweatshirts in the mix were of essentially no use until late in the game. So in reality, I was working with more like 14 or 15 garments for the majority of the month.

That and the fact that the only real color in the group was in those sweater-shirtshirts meant the risk of boredom was even greater than I originally thought. (It was definitely an unintentional lot of black/white/army.) But it all worked out, and I either made or reinforced some useful observations along the way—

20x30 outfits and thoughts

1) Novelty is critical. My beloved State Smocks — with their unusual volume — are really fun to play with, and brought in an element of newness, which kept things from getting too dull. The two outfits in the middle got repeated on the Rhinebeck trip with just the addition of the black cardigan, and a shoe swap (snake instead of silver) for the second one. Also, I love this cardigan so much with the smocks that I’ve decided not to lengthen it, at least for the time being.

20x30 outfits and thoughts

2) A uniform doesn’t have to be uniform. An easy formula for me is to put on my white linen shell and one or the other of my toddler pants, then throw just about anything on top. These don’t look like five of the same outfit, even though they all have the same foundation.

20x30 outfits and thoughts

3) “Jeans and a t-shirt” can be reimagined. There are a lot of days in my world where all I want to do is put on jeans and a tee, hair in a ponytail, and get to work. But of course those are the days where I inevitably run into someone and feel bad about looking so blah. The fact that I didn’t include a t-shirt in the mix forced me to think differently on those days. The silk smock is as easy as a tee and so much nicer looking. Same goes for the sleeveless tee with my wide-leg denim toddlers instead of regular old jeans. The mix in the middle was my travel outfit en route to NY, perfect for the plane.

20x30 outfits and thoughts

4) Even a little bit of print can go a long way toward keeping things lively. I was soooo happy I had the camo pants and snake-print flats in mix, and had on one or the other just about every day. (Sometimes both.) Had this all been solids, I might not have gotten through it! The outfit upstream with the black vest and camo pants got repeated at Rhinebeck with the black cardigan and snake flats. You can also see here that I actually wore two different pairs of dark jeans in Oct — my handmades one day and the J.Crew made-in-LA pair on several others. So I guess technically that puts the worn tally back at 19 garments.

20x30 outfits and thoughts

5) And last but not least: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This photo is the same outfit I wore home from Rhinebeck (including the black cardigan in my hand), albeit with different shoes, but this was actually taken on November 1st. I thought I was excited to wear something different once the calendar flipped over, but when it came time to get out the door yesterday morning, the fact is it was much simpler to stick to the list. After all, there are still quite a few unworn outfits on there … and I’ve never felt this reasonably put-together on this many successive days in my entire life. I’d say that makes it a rousing success!

One other thing I want to note: When I picked out the 20 garments for this little parlor game, I didn’t think about their origins. I just picked 20 items that I thought I could wear for a whole month. This post in the #slowfashionoctober feed led me to go back and tally it up. Of the 20 items, 11 were me-made, 1 was a refashion of a RTW piece, 3 were storeboughts from before all of this, 2 are upcycled thrifted goods (the State smocks), and the remaining 3 were bought more recently from known-origins brands. I think that’s a pretty amazing balance and a fair representation of where my closet currently stands.

For a rundown on all of the garments, see my Fall inventory. Photos mostly at Fringe Supply Co. HQ during our little expansion — pardon the dust!

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PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: October outfits! (The 20×30 plan)

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Wardrobe Planning: October outfits!

Wardrobe Planning: October outfits!

Wardrobe Planning: October outfits!

So! Here it is: My big 20×30 outfit plan for October (aka Slow Fashion October). Except I picked out my twenty pieces (above, not counting the shoes), started playing closet rummy and quickly made thirty-five outfits without exhausting all the possibilities. Which is a good thing, because this is October and any plan is going to have to have some wiggle room in it. We’re still in the lower-mid 80s right now (and loving it, honestly — the humidity finally broke) but with any luck we’ll be down into the 70s or upper 60s by the end of the month, but there’s really no predicting it. I’m being necessarily flex about the shoes, too: the black huaraches will give way to black ankle boots; the tan sandals will become tan flats. And somewhere in there I’ll need to make a separate packing list for Rhinebeck, where it will be colder than this.

An increasingly crystalline truth is that I can get by in any situation with this combination of shoes: one black, one tan, and a wildcard or two.

There are a few issues here, mind you. Ten of these outfits are based on a natural version of my “toddler pants” (I’ve told you this is what I call my olive pants and their descendents, yes?) which aren’t done. I, uh, had a little mishap. So that’s why they look funny in the photos: They’re wrong and not done. Also, some of those outfits are sleeveless. Will the pants be fixed before the temperature drops? We shall see. Likewise, the dark jeans pictured are my Willies because my me-made jeans don’t have a hem yet, but in reality I could be wearing either pair. And the striped sweater needs one of its raglan seams redone before it gets cool enough to wear it. Hopefully it will get cool enough to wear the sweaters I’ve included — at least once! But I’ll be winging it if not.

So I’m not being a slave to this, BUT (weather permitting) I can get dressed all month from the following without giving it another moment’s thought … unless of course I want to.

I’ll be attempting to document my outfits every day for #slowfashionoctober either in my main @karentempler feed or my Story (those are my Monday and Tuesday outfits up top), and will post a wrap-up at the end of the month — but I can tell you right now this is my favorite array of outfits I’ve put together yet.

Wardrobe Planning: October outfits!
Wardrobe Planning: October outfits!
Wardrobe Planning: October outfits!
Wardrobe Planning: October outfits!
Wardrobe Planning: October outfits!

For details on all of the garments pictured, see my Fall Closet Inventory + Refashioned army jacket + toddler pants post coming as soon as the natural ones are fixed, but they’re all basically the same as the olive pair (with assorted variations).

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PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Pre-fall Outfits!

Outfits! — Pre-Fall 2017

Outfits! : Pre-fall 2017

Outfits! : Pre-fall 2017

You may have picked up on this already, but I’m not really ready to start putting together fall outfits that I can’t wear anytime soon. But I also want to try something different here — at least for the next few months. Rather than projecting a whole season’s worth of outfits at once, I’m going to try doing it one month at a time. October is a very different situation from December, for example, and things change. I make things and buy things along the way, or discover new and beloved ways of combining things. So for the moment, I’m just doing ten outfits to get through the rest of this month, and then I’ll do October. (And there might be a little Slow Fashion October game to propose, we’ll see.)

For now: I’m trying to make peace with these next ten days of “highs near 90” by focusing on the positive aspects of the lingering warm weather. Like I love my tall boots and only wear them with dresses, and I like dresses best when I can wear them with my tall boots, so this is the moment where I get to indulge in linen and boots at the same time. Likewise, I do really like sleeveless clothes, as you know, and it’s nice to be able to throw a vest on over them. (At least while indoors.) These are some of my very favorite ways to dress, and the window may be narrow. Plus it’s a chance to wear some of my favorite summer outfits at least one more time. So I’m embracing it! I’m embracing it! (I’m really really trying to embrace it.)

A big part of why I don’t feel like myself in summer clothes, I’ve come to realize, is simply that there are no layers. Duh. I am a layerer. Layers are fun and make me happy, and when I first put on my linen Nade tunic over a linen dress and realized that’s one way I can wear layers in summer, it was like the choir of angels singing. The same thing goes for my State Smocks — throwing them on over anything and everything totally changes the look of things. And it solves the pocketless dress problem — God bless ’em — so I’m also distracting myself with the fun of them for the time being. (The sketches up top are outfits 9 and 3 from the lineup.)

So I’m getting to practice my warm-weather layering, but that doesn’t mean I hope it sticks around. Come on, sweater weather! I’ve got so much good stuff I’m eager to play with.

(For details on the garments pictured, see my Fall ’17 inventory and Summer ’17 inventory.
Fashionary sketch templates from Fringe Supply Co.
)

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PREVIOUSLY in Fall 2017 Wardrobe: Closet inventory and Mood

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Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

I have a lot of Deep Thoughts coming away from this year’s Squam Art Workshops, but that’s sort of what Squam does to you. Some of those might find their way into this post in one form or another — I’ll see what happens as I write — but if you really just want to know what I wore, feel free to scroll on down, that’s cool! “Whatever makes you happy” is sort of the number one rule of Squam, so go with it.

(Bob came in and started talking to me just then. I said, in apologies for shushing him, “I’m trying to write about what I’ve learned about myself in the last five years.” He said, “Wow. It’s a good thing you got a nap.”)

The simple summary of the trip is: I had the best, most peaceful time imaginable. I flew to Boston the night before and met my longtime online friend Felicia Semple for the first time at the picturesque Squam Lake Inn in Holderness, NH, near the old camp where Squam takes place. We had dinner and talked each other’s ears off, and the next day we drove an hour and a half to visit the Harrisville Designs mill and take the tour — my first time watching yarn being made. (I couldn’t get a cell signal there, so I’ll be belatedly putting all the images and videos into my Instagram Story today.) New Hampshire is so pretty it feels like you’re in a movie set: Every little general store and fire station is picture-perfectly adorable, and Harrisville is definitely no exception. But even without the scenery and the mill tour, I cherish that chunk of time I got to spend with Felicia, yammering like mad and making observations about the ways we talk about ourselves or our endeavors. As they say, it felt like I’d known her forever, but she’s that sort.

Wednesday evening we checked in at camp and got our cabin assignments. I had the good fortune to be bunk mates with my hilarious sprite of a friend Mary Jane Mucklestone (who I first met taking this class from her four years ago) and two people I’d not met before: the warm-hearted dynamo Anne Weill (who I’ve admired since her graciousness in the face of this snooty post I wrote in 2015) and Camille DeAngelis, who was teaching the writing workshop and is a lovely, gentle soul. We were assigned a fantastic cabin on the tip of the spit of land with the widest view of the lake I’ve seen so far — we couldn’t see another cabin from our dock, just water and trees and the greenest hills — and my teaching cabin was right next door. So yeah, off to a great start.

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

The dining hall that night was full of old friends, heroes and new faces, and my hermit heart was racing a bit, in a good way. Everyone was asking me how I felt about being there to teach for the first time, and honestly I was feeling pretty chill about it. I had what I thought was a solid plan and good notes, plus I was already under the lake’s spell and still high from the whole Harrisville adventure. I was a little shy at dinner with my class that night, but by breakfast felt entirely relaxed and ready. Then I ran into our fearless leader Elizabeth on the way to the wooded path toward class and she gave me such an intense pep talk that it got my heart pounding! But that gave me a funny anecdote to open with, so thank you, Elizabeth, in a million ways.

I could go on for days, but what I want to say is it went fine. Better than fine. My students were lovely and relaxed and determined, and nearly all of them even finished their hats! (Note to beloved students: the Debutant pattern is listed on Ravelry, please link your projects!) On the whole, I got to spend several days surrounded by so many people I already loved, so many more I loved getting to know, and many moments just sitting quietly on the dock, gathering energy to rejoin the happy-noisy crowd or teach the next session.

What this all has to do with what I’ve learned about myself in the last five years is this: I’ve spent my whole life telling myself I’m inept at making conversation with people I don’t know. That I’m better in writing than in person. That I prefer solitude to crowds. All of that is true of me, but it’s not the whole story. Since starting Fringe, I’ve forced myself to challenge those notions. I showed up at the trade show the first time without knowing a soul, and now each year it’s a sort of homecoming. Likewise, I’ve traveled to events and workshops and retreats (Squam included) with a few friends and come away with new ones every time. I’m part of a community I value so much, and am so honored to be involved in, and I’m blessed with these friendships and opportunities because I’ve dared to show up and to not sit in the corner. (At least, not the whole time.) I’ve learned that yes, it will take a lot out of me, but it’s beyond worth it and I’ll sleep that part off when I get home. Somehow all of this was amplified in those woods last week. And discovering that I’m perhaps not a half-bad teacher was a whole new level of the process.

There’s more in my head, but that’s the part I feel is important to share here: Please don’t believe all the things you tell yourself about yourself. You’ll be amazed at what you’re capable of.

So this is a love letter and thank-you note to everyone I’ve met, been befriended and/or challenged by these last five years. I’m awash in gratitude. And yes I got that Dottie Angel “I am a W.I.P.” shirt (and tote bag!) at the fair Saturday night and feel it more strongly and proudly than ever.

. . .

So what did I wear? Here’s what was either on me or in my little carry-on suitcase, along with a box of teaching materials, an umbrella, two headlamps, my travel dryer and toiletries:

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

white linen shell
black hemp muscle tee
– grey Everlane linen knit muscle tee
– black silk Elizabeth Suzann artist smock, which I LOVED wearing with jeans and sneaks
– secondhand chambray shirt
– old flannel
– purple J.Crew boiled wool pullover from a few years ago, which I finally got around to taking the waist elastic out of and newly adore, wish I’d gotten to wear it more
black linen-wool cardigan
camel cardigan
– J.Crew made-in-LA jeans
– black linen Elizabeth Suzann pants (with added pockets)
– old cutoffs
– my heaviest/warmest LL Bean tights for cold nights
– dirty old Chucks for tromping along wooded paths
grey Orlane shawl

And here are all the ways it went together, from travel day through return-travel day:

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

In addition to Squam life calling for a lot of changing of clothes (for example, Saturday was teaching in the morning, knitting on the dock in the afternoon, boiling hot art fair setup, the fair itself, and a chilly night back at the cabin), the NH woods in early June are an unpredictable place, weather-wise (e.g., Friday morning we were on the dock before breakfast, basking in the early warmth, but were huddled around a fire in the living room by mid-morning). So it requires versatility and layers.

Not pictured are the rain boots I wore only the first day (on the plane and the drive up) thanks to the predicted rain being replaced by mostly unseasonably warm weather, and the sandals that never came out of the suitcase. My grey shawl also stayed in my bag the whole time, since I flung my black cardigan around my neck when needed. Pretty much everything else got worn more than once, but I could have gotten away with just the sneakers, one cardigan, the pullover, and I believe in having both the flannel and the chambray. Notes for next year, as I’m hoping there will be one!

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: The summer 2017 plan

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Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan
Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan
Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

I continue to feel incredibly self-conscious about all this wardrobe planning — especially since I’m doing it publicly — but dang it’s fun and useful! So I’m just gonna get over that. Like I said last week, simply isolating the key players and laying them out in a grid of photos is wildly beneficial for seeing what I have to work with and spotting combinations I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of. There’s an extent to which you could look at that grid and just pick a top, a bottom and a pair of shoes, and I could probably sit and do that all day and come up with who knows how many outfits if I wanted to literally represent each and every one of them — I won’t go quite that far. One thing I’m finding with the summer group, though, is there are quite a few tops in the lineup that really only work with maybe 1-3 of the bottoms — limited usage, but hey, perfectly good outfits.

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

If this were me working on a packing list, there are pieces that would get cut for not being re-combinable enough. But this whole exercise is about finding ways to wear the things I already made/bought and have allotted space for in the closet. (And making sure I’m making wise decisions about where to spend my future making energy.) Plus many of them may also have a larger role in other seasons, so it’s fine for them to factor in more lightly for summer, for variety. (One thing to note, though: If it involves sandals, it’s not a work outfit, so I’m mentally looking at each of those and asking if there’s an excessive-A/C alternative. If it’s sleeveless, it has to accommodate a cardigan or jacket or it’s also not safe for work.)

Or take the case of this linen Fen top:

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

That’s really three versions of the same outfit, and while I like it/them and will wear it/them, it’s a tiny bit dour, even for me. (The first, the best one, can be seen in full outfit sketch form below.) There are other bottoms it technically goes with, but which I’m not including because I know I won’t wear them. For example, it works with the khaki pants but that’s even drearier. It’s perfectly fine with jeans, but just not me somehow. It’s a hair too short for wearing with the camo pants, since I’m not of midriff-bearing age. (Although I apparently am still of camo-wearing age! lol) It’s adorable with the full grey skirt — that’s probably its best outfit, objectively speaking — but on me that’s way too girly. So I’m limiting how much it gets used.

Then there are the really hard workers, starting with that soon-to-be go-to, my ash linen Sloper in progress, at the top of this post. As you can see, it will go over both of my skirts, all five pants and 3 out of 5 dresses — that’s an outfit a week for 10 weeks right there, at minimum. Knitting time and money well spent!

Likewise the sleeveless black tops I made last year (one hemp jersey, one silk gauze), and the two white tops I have at the top of the sewing list right now (white linen tee — also to be done in black linen — and white cotton sleeveless top—

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan
Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

The modified slip dress will also be a fabulous use of a little bit of time, since shortened and be-pocketed, it will be able to be worn many different ways, and will easily accommodate an outer layer for work. This little refashion is top-most priority.

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

And what about the pieces I’m trying to be more deliberate about wearing more often? You can see the black, 20-y-o Katayone Adeli skirt factoring in throughout this post, which is marvelous — and makes the full black linen skirt on my to-sew list a less pressing matter. Other pieces I wear only occasionally but love and want to bust out more are the little ivory Meg-made sweater and the black chambray top I sewed up from some scraps back in 2014, just before we moved.

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan
Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

Possibly the smartest addition to my closet in recent months (of which there have been precious few) was one I thought might be the opposite. When I bought the Nade Studio tunic on impulse at Porter Flea in December, I thought it might be a mistake: I love supporting Maggie’s business and love the piece, but worried that it simply wouldn’t get a lot of use — that it wasn’t very versatile. Once I started playing summer closet rummy, though, I realized it’s actually the star of the show. It looks amazing worn open over a dress or buttoned over a skirt — the skirt just peeking out from that arc in the front hem. These are actually the outfits I’m most excited to get to wear.

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan
Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

To my great astonishment, going through the process of these Summer 2017 Wardrobe posts has transformed my lifelong dread of summer dressing into something resembling optimism or maybe even excitement. Never thought that was possible. Which isn’t to say I’ll ever feel as at-home in a dress and sandals as I do in a sweater and jeans, but it’s a major and welcome improvement.

There are over 70 outfits pictured here, without exhausting the possibilities of these 30-ish items. Not every piece from the inventory wound up being included here, and admittedly several of those that are here don’t yet exist or are awaiting mending/alterations — but nor have I accounted for a couple of other garments on the make list, each of which represents another good clump of options. All told, it seems like I’m in amazingly good shape, as long as enough of these prove workplace-worthy. And I’m already worked up about exploring how everything here (and some of the never-worn Paris combos) will come into play for fall!

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

For the details on any or all of the garments seen here, see last week’s Closet Inventory (which I’ve updated with pics of the new and previously-missing items).

Oh, and lest I forget, these are my topper options — one WIP and one on the make list:

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

(Fashionary sketch templates via Fringe Supply Co.)

PREVIOUSLY in Summer ’17 Wardrobe: The make list

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

As I noted last week, I started working on this post the day after we got back, yet before what turned out to be several days all-but-unconscious with a fever. I’m so glad I had written this through before that happened, because at this point it all seems like a figment of my fevered imagination …

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue
The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

Under the heading of “blessings in disguise”: Our flight to Paris got postponed a day. We arrived at the airport that Monday afternoon just moments before the airline texted me to say that our flight to Atlanta was delayed several hours. Since we had a very brief layover, that meant we wouldn’t make our connecting flight. After an hour standing at the counter getting rebooked onto new flights the following day, we put our suitcases back in the car and went home. Dejected, sure, but that allowed me to do three things I hadn’t had time for: 1. sew pockets on my last-minute travel pants (see below), 2. sit down on my couch with a glass of wine and the guidebooks (most notably this priceless little gem) I had ordered with such good Type-A intentions yet hadn’t cracked open, and 3. run to Target for some Zyrtec D1, as it was becoming clear I was on a collision course with a sinus infection. And so, the next morning we headed back to the airport with me feeling much calmer and better prepared than I had the day before.

It was a dream of a trip and I’ve gotten a lot of requests for three things: Channel pics, Paris tips and a recap on how the ol’ slow-fashion/capsule travel wardrobe packing plans turned out. And of course I want at least a cursory record of the trip for myself. So I’m going to attempt to cover all of that here in the most manageable way I can think of, which is to break it down day by day, outfit by outfit, with most of the related tips and whatnot relegated to footnotes so you can further investigate whichever bits are of interest. Regardless, it’s a REALLY long post! Lots of photos. And I’m happy to answer any and all questions, so please ask away!

THE FINAL PACKING LIST

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

So in the end, I took 12 garments (3 on my person, 9 in my carry-on suitcase) and 3 pairs of shoes.

camel Channel cardigan
black cropped cardigan
– “secondhand” chambray shirt (rescued from Bob’s goodwill pile)
– black silk Elizabeth Suzann Artist Smock (locally made)
– plaid top (me-made, never blogged)
black sleeveless top
– visually mended linen chambray Madewell popover (c.2013, fast fashion but I’m making it last!)
– black Imogene+Willie tee (made in LA, no longer available)
– best-friend/safety-blanket Part Wolf t-shirt (no slow cred, but I’ve had and will wear it for years)
natural Willie jeans from Imogene+Willie (made in LA)
rigid Willie jeans from Imogene+Willie (made in LA)
– black linen Elizabeth Suzann Florence Pant (made locally, personalized by me)
black Vayarta slip-ons (handmade in Mexico)
– faux snake J.Crew ballet flats (“made in Italy,” hopefully; no longer available)
– silver Solid State flats (handmade in LA for local purveyor Goodwin)

And I ultimately decided on my trench coat (J.Crew c.2009-10) over my hooded rain jacket, based on the forecast.

If you compare to the draft list, I pulled out the striped sweater (it was clearly going to be a warm week and even the two cardigans seemed a tad excessive), scored a pair of black linen, elastic-waist, photoshoot-sample Florence Pants from my friends over at Elizabeth Suzann, and added my favorite old t-shirt for sleeping/lounging. Also in the suitcase were two other things intended for the hotel room: a pair of thin black leggings and some flipflops I bought during a footwear emergency in DC last summer.

Most days (every day?) involved a wardrobe change, as we would come back to the hotel in the late afternoon, tired/hot/dusty, put our feet up for a bit, take a shower, then venture back out for dinner, and I never came close to exhausting all of the combinatory possibilities of these 12 garments. Here’s how it all played out …

. . .

TRAVEL DAY-AND-A-HALF (Tues into Weds)

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

On the plane, I wore the black linen linen pants (now with pockets!), the beloved t-shirt and the chambray shirt, along with my omnipresent grey scarf for scarf-slash-blanket usage, and the ballet flats. I had a pair of black footie socks in my backpack2 for in flight (and my trench was also wadded up in the backpack). Verdict: perfect 24-hour-travel clothes — thumbs up.

. . .

DAY 1 (Or half-day, Weds eve)
me to La Bien Aimee/L’Oisive Thé; Bob wandering the Rue du Montmartre

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

We wound up landing in Paris on Wednesday morning instead of Tuesday morning as originally planned, and it took us several hours to get out of the airport and to the Hotel Panache3 via a series of trains. Which means we got to the hotel after lunchtime on Wednesday, and I was scheduled to visit our lovely Fringe Supply Co. stockist La Bien Aimée around 6pm and stay for dinner and knit night at L’Oisive Thé4. We tried and failed to nap (both of us ill at this point, Bob having beaten me there by about two weeks but me quickly catching up), and of course we were totally exhausted by the travel and also hadn’t eaten. By the time I sat up and had a little chat with myself about how I was ever going to stand up off the bed, much less get showered and dressed, into a cab, and enjoy the company of a roomful of knitters for four hours … I honestly didn’t know. And I honestly don’t know for sure if this is what I wore! That’s how messed up I was. But I’m pretty sure I pulled the comfy linen pants back on, and definitely the black sleeveless top and black cardigan, my trench coat and ballet flats. What I absolutely know for certain is I had a lovely time, and even perked up a bit once I got some food in me. I’m so thankful to everyone there for welcoming me, and only sorry I didn’t get to mingle more!

. . .

DAY 2 (Thurs – first full day in France)
walk from hotel down through 2nd and 1st arrondissements to and around Louvre courtyard (where we did what tourists apparently do: stand on the stone blocks for pictures) / crossed the Seine into the 6th and wandered down Rue de Seine to the Luxembourg Gardens / croques-madames for lunch at Angelina / westward, popping into the famed Bon Marché (Bob needed a scarf5 and Aimée had said the store is worth a visit) and the Conran Shop, to the Eiffel Tower

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

Thursday was the coolest day of the forecast — likely my only chance to wear the Channel Cardigan I had finished knitting in time and imagined wearing throughout — so we knew it had to be sweater picture day. It turned out to be the only chance I got to wear it, but I’m so happy to have gotten to wear it that once (that place) before putting it away till Fall.

For photo purposes, I had planned to wear it with the sleeveless chambray top and the natural jeans, but wound up putting the black shell back on instead, plus my slip-ons that were meant to be my main walking shoes. These things are better than sneakers: soft-soled, SUPER cushy insoles, and no laces and flaps to potentially rough up your feet. I’d been wearing them to work nonstop for a couple weeks (where I stand for 8 hours a day and do a lot of moving around and manual labor and stuff) without any problem. And I had put blister guards on the backs of my feet for good measure. But a tiny catch in the seam at the back of the left one, imperceptible up till then, dug a hole right through the blister guard and into the back of my foot. So this was their only outing.

I don’t remember whether I changed for dinner that night, although I must have. (This was my worst sick day, before I started taking the drugs, so it’s foggy.) Certainly I did change shoes. After dinner, we took up a perch in the lobby with a view out onto the street and ordered champagne from the little hotel restaurant.

. . .

DAY 3 (Fri)
walked to and across the Ile de la Cité to legendary Shakespeare and Co / cabbed over to the Musée D’Orsay to see the Impressionists et al / walked across the Seine and through the Tuileries / did some shopping in the 1st: WHSmith for magazines, Colette (a longtime fixture on my wishlist that graciously scheduled a Christoph Niemann6 show for while we were in town!), Cos and A.P.C. / walked back toward hotel along Rue Richlieu and stumbled into this amazing exhibit at Drawing Lab

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue
The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

Friday was a day for layers — fluctuating temperatures, but with a cool breeze. I wore the black shell and black cardigan again, with the dark Willies and the ballet flats, plus my trench coat — perfect for a day of art and shopping. It warmed up in the afternoon, so by then the sweater was in my backpack and I was happy in my little top and trench.

dinner at Ademi / drinks at Le Brébant / dessert at Floquifil 

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

For dinner that night, in a super casual mood, we ventured into a new little woodfired pizza place near the hotel called Ademi, which I liked both the look and smell of from having passed it a few times. Lovely people and good food, turns out. I think I went in my black tee, dark jeans, flats and trench.

. . .

DAY 4 (Sat)
cabbed to the flea market, or the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen, a lifelong dream of mine / from there to Sacré Couer and did the wander-through / walked down through Montmartre and the upper 9th back to the hotel, stopping at KB for chai (me) and juice (Bob), and at Sebastien Gaudard for pastries / cabbed to Pont Neuf and hopped on one of the bateaux mouches7 tour boats, then walked back

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue
The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

We covered more far-flung ground on Saturday, as we wanted to go up into the 18th to the world-famous flea market8 — which was heaven even I couldn’t fit any of the beautiful things into my suitcase — and to Sacré Couer and Montmartre and to the bateau, so we sort of alternated between cabs and walks that beautiful, warm day. I wore the black shell AGAIN, with the linen pants, chambray shirt and ballet flats, which was my ideal outfit for all of the above and for the weather. The scarf definitely came out of the backpack while we were out on the river.

dinner at Floquifil

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

Dinner that night was probably the most “dressed up” I got on this trip, for dinner in a rustic neighborhood hole-in-the-wall,  and I love this outfit so much: my Elizabeth Suzann silk top I’d been saving for the trip, black cardigan around my neck, dark Willies and silver flats. After dinner, we drank champagne in the lobby again and then went upstairs and ate the pastries9 we’d bought in the afternoon.

. . .

DAY 5 (Sun)
wandered around the 3rd and 4th / cappuccino for Bob at Boot Café and breakfast at Rachel’s / into the Picasso Museum / down through Marais to the Seine again and over to the Tuileries

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue
The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

It was SO HOT so of course we walked for miles and miles and miles again. I had saved my list of hotspots in the 3rd and 4th for Sunday, having heard the Marais is open while the rest of the city is closed10. Every single shop and restaurant on my list though (save the micro and adorable Boot Café coffee shop) was closed! But as we wandered from one locked door to another, we passed a sign for the Picasso Museum11 and took it as, well, a sign that we should have had it on our agenda. (I’ll never forget this tiny little kid who was sketching in one of the galleries.) I had it in my head that I wanted to get back to the Tuileries and actually sit down in the bois and hang out with knitting and magazines. So after the Picasso, and a brief rest in the little park down the block, we rattled a few more locked doors in the 4th and then did something of a death march along the full-sun river walkway in the heat, feet screaming to be liberated, and arrived at the Tuileries to find all of Paris already occupying every last chair and bench. Brutal day, really, and I was overdressed. I’d worn my dark Willies again with the plaid top, ballet flats, and the Channel slung over my shoulders in an act of extreme optimism. It wound up in the backpack all day, and the plaid shirt was unwearable again after the sweating that went on. But I looked cute!

dinner at Mersea

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

For dinner, we knew our options would be limited to the neighborhood brasseries (always open) and a few other random casual dining spots. We wound up at a fish-and-chips place called Mersea that we walked past multiple times a day on Rue du Montmartre going to and from the hotel, with me commenting every time that the place was adorable and the name amusing and who doesn’t love fish and chips. We had the best time and the *best* fish and chips. It’s a new place owned by two really charming young guys who worked with a 2-Michelin-star chef on their small menu, and I so hope they do well. If you’re near there, please eat there. I went in just my black tee, linen pants and the flip-flops, totally appropriate for the laid-back joint.

. . .

DAY 6 (Mon)
breakfast at Bob’s Kitchen / acquired assorted bread products at Huré / strolled down past the Centre Pompidou (even more of an eyeful than I ever imagined) to Notre Dame for a closer look, then over to and through Ile St Louis / cabbed back to hotel for the afternoon / one last walk up to KB for chai and juice before dinner

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue
The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

We weren’t meant to be in Paris on Monday — we were planning a daytrip to Reims — but we couldn’t sleep Sunday night and decided to turn off the alarm we had set. So instead, we had a super leisurely last day in the city, which was cool and breezy again after the brick oven of the previous day. For our morning wander, I wore my beloved t-shirt and natural Willies with my trench, my black cardigan as a scarf, and the unflappable flats. This is the outfit that’s probably the most purely me, and that pic of me alongside the Seine across from Notre Dame is also my favorite photo I’ve ever had the good luck to appear in, and a perfect memento of the trip. I loved this quiet day.

dinner at the Panache

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

Bob had dined alone in the hotel restaurant that first night while I was out with the knitters, and kept raving about his meal, so I was determined to eat there before we left. (We’d had breakfast there most mornings, and it was perfection, but we’re talking croissants, cheese, fruit, juice, etc., and I wanted the full dining experience.) I wore my silk Artist Smock again with the black pants — full Elizabeth Suzann — and the silver shoes. Hilariously, this hasty bathroom selfie is the only photo of any of my eveningwear. I felt great in this outfit, and enjoyed my favorite meal in Paris and maybe one of my favorite of all time, actually. If you have a chance to dine there, please have the asparagus and monkfish dish for me.

. . .

TRAVEL DAY (Tues)
one last breakfast at the Panache / cabbed to CDG and flew home

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

For the long flight home, I put on my most comfortable things: the linen pants, the black t-shirt, the black sweater (which spent most of the day around my neck and shoulders) and — feeling my feet could use a change of pace — the silver shoes. I had to laugh when we got to the AirFrance terminal, which is basically the fanciest mall I’ve ever set foot in (need a little Prada or Burberry before you go?), so I felt like my silver shoes were totally in order. Bedhead notwithstanding.

. . .

All told, only 1 garment went unworn — the chambray sleeveless popover — which is absolutely a record for me and packing. As is taking only 12 garments in the first place. (My usual MO is to throw at least 6-8 random tees/tops/tanks into any given suitcase as backups, on top of whatever I already packed.) The workhorses of the trip were clearly the black cardigan, shell and pants, and the ballet flats. It’s a shame the Vayartas didn’t work out for this particular purpose, but I’ll still get a ton of wear out of them, and I actually felt cuter in the ballerinas every day anyway. My feet would not have objected to more cushion, but Dr. Scholls got me through!

This tiny but extremely versatile wardrobe was a vivid reminder to me of how much happier I really am with a small assortment of hardworking clothes, the resulting reduced need to think about getting dressed, and knowing I’ll look good no matter which way I combine them. It’s motivation to keep my closet from ballooning again, for sure. And one of the most striking things about the trip was how different it would have been before my slow-fashion conversion. We went into a few of my longtime favorite shops (most notably A.P.C.) and I fingered things and admired the design and walked away empty-handed, with no regrets, because all of it was made in China/Tunisia/Romania. So I’ve become a contented window-shopper at this stage of my life.

It’s funny to give such a sketchy and clothing-centric outline of this trip that I’ve longed for since my 8th-grade French 1 class, but it also makes it very visual and memorable for me. I could write another 8000 words about how and why I loved it, but all that really matters is we were there, and we loved it.

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

. . .

THE FOOTNOTES

1. A few years ago, I had a sinus infection so bad — like someone had walled off my head, nothing getting in or out! — that one night Bob dragged me to the ER in search of help. A nurse gave me this tip: Zyrtec D. The key detail is the “D” — it’s a semi-controlled substance. You don’t need a prescription, but you do have to ask the pharmacist for it, and sign for it. (It kept me alive through the week in Paris, but apparently was no match for whatever I came home with.)

2. My trusty backpack is one I got from SF company Alite Designs at West Coast Craft in October 2013 — they were sewing them right there in their booth. It’s been everywhere with me the past four years.

3. We stayed at the pretty little Hotel Panache, in the lower 9th, and it was perfect for us — affordable, conveniently located between the arrondissements we wanted to visit, etc. Everyone was lovely and helpful, and the restaurant was terrific. It is a European hotel, not an American one, so if you book a room be prepared for small, and pay attention when booking as not all rooms have their own bathroom.

4. If you’re ever in Paris on a Wednesday night, definitely try to reserve a seat for dinner-and-knitting night at L’Oisive Thé.

5. We found the perfect thing and realized we were in the J.Crew dept, LOL.

6. Christoph Niemann is an illustrator-artist I admire tremendously. If you haven’t seen the first episode of the Netflix series Abstract, it’s a must-watch. And I was rendered speechless when I saw, just before I left, that his Colette show included this.

7. Several people told me the bateaux mouches — the tourist boats that run up and down the Seine — are worth doing, and they were totally right. It’s a good way to get the lay of the museum-and-monument land, especially at the start of your trip.

8. I never imagined quite how vast the flea market could be, and would have been lost were it not for Katariina Lambert’s note in her gorgeous guidebook that the best of the mid-century antique vendors are in the Marché Paul Bert section in the center of it all.

9. I know this is blasphemy, but I’ve now had macarons in Paris, from both Gaudard and Ladurée: both delicious but neither beats Miette in San Francisco.

10. Seriously, if you’re in Paris on Sunday and/or Monday plan to do the museums and monuments on those days, and save your shopping or smaller destinations for the other days of the week.

11. The Picasso museum had a show up that centered around his wife, Olga, and how she factored into his work as their marriage disintegrated over the years. I loved how biographical the show wound up being, which was more interesting to me than any particular period of his work or whatever. But what I really loved was the building! A work of art unto itself.

(Field Bag and Lykke needles from Fringe Supply Co.)

St. Brendan: Outfits!

St. Brendan: The outfits!

Yesterday’s post about my finished yoke sweater got a wee bit long! I am determined to compile outfit ideas for every FO this year, so in this case I decided to save them for today.

One of the reasons I shy away from (buying or knitting) really distinctive clothing is it’s really distinctive — if I run into you somewhere in a standout garment, you’re gonna remember if I had the same thing on the last time you saw me. Also, really distinctive garments tend not to be combinable in a lot of different ways for a lot of different looks. The point being only that I don’t want to feel like I’m wearing the same outfit all the time — to me, the fun is in mixing things up — thus all the solids and neutrals in my closet. But this particular sweater is an example of how none of that is automatically true. The key is that this beauty goes with literally every “bottom” in my closet. It’s possible to get mildly creative with it, as seen in the two sketches up top—

Dressed down = layered over my favorite b/w flannel shirt with jeans and ankle boots
Dressed up = paired with my black-on-black embroidered skirt and tall boots

But the joyous part is even if all I do is reach for the next pair of pants on the pile and a pair of black shoes, they add up to decidedly different looks, sparing me from monotony …

St. Brendan: The outfits!

(Fashionary sketch templates from Fringe Supply Co.)

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