Essentials Part 2

Photo courtesy of BRES

How was your weekend?  Mine – as usual – took on a life of its own, and THE DRESS is now winging its way back to Dillard’s.  No shopping in the big city for me, but Gretchen says weekends are for lap-time and long walks.  Kids in the Kitchen was FABULOUS, with a record-setting attendance, despite the perfect weather.  My friend who owns the Blue Ridge Eco Shop does have me thinking that I need worms  a Wormtopia.  I used to compost rather rustically, but then came Sissy the dog with no boundaries.  Now, as you know, she has absolutely no freedom at all, so I could compost again, and let those worms make fertilizer for the roses…

I should have a better segue from worm poo to wardrobe essentials, but it’s Monday and I got nuthin’.  So, it’s back to Mr. Gunn and his wardrobe essentials, with my apologies.  We’re all trying to save the planet, right?

Tim Gunn’s 10 Essential Items Every Woman Needs
• Basic black dress
• Trench coat
• Classic dress pants
• Classic white shirt
• Skirt
• Blazer
• Day dress
• Cashmere sweater
• Jeans
• A comfortable alternative to a sweatsuit

The first five items were covered in THIS post, so we’ll jump right in with the blazer.  Anyone else think of a Chevy SUV when they hear the word blazer?  No?  Well, I do have three of these too, all in the target size I *THINK* I’m heading towards.  All are wool.  One is black, one is red with black lapels, and one is a deep hunter green with gold buttons.  I’m not sure any meet current blazer cut and style requirments, but until they do fit, I can’t be sure.

I do think this Worthington option is what Mr. Gunn had in mind.  Maybe buy a dark suit with a skirt and jacket that can both be re-purposed as needed?  (Or this jacket and its matching separate skirt-friend?)

Does anyone know what I should look for in a “timeless” blazer these days?  How many buttons?  How deep on the lapels?  I was always taught a well-fitting “suit coat” bottom hem should rest in the curve of my fingers with my hand bent inward, but maybe the model’s hem is higher?  I don’t have long arms, but petite jackets are usually a miss, because I do have a long torso and a chest that definitely isn’t any word that is a synonym for small.  Hem. 

Ha!  No pun was intended, but yeah, many of my jackets get their sleeves hemmed. 

Day dress.  We do agree on what a day dress is, right?  No?  Well, that’s because it’s not clearly defined much of anywhere.  It’s kinda’ like “preppy”…  it brings to mind something a little different for each of us, but they’re all similar enough notions, or so I suspect.  Wiki reaches back to the 19th century, when a “day dress” was more discrete than an “evening dress”.  

I tend to think of a day dress as a Sunday church dress of my youth.  It’s not a sundress or a casual jumper or denim anything.  It’s a nice dress, probably closest to a traditional career dress as one gets these days.  It most assuredly is not strapless or anything you’d pull on over a swimsuit.   The image above is a tropical weight wool blend sheath.   I’m not sure it’s the day dress I’d add to my essentials, but I think Mr. Gunn would approve.


Cute & cashmere, but not an essential

Ah, the cashmere sweater.  I touched on this in the first post.  I know some of you are going to insist there are items on this list that won’t work in your life, and I totally understand.  My wardrobe is starkly different now than it was when I worked 10 24-hr. days a month in a navy uniform, and had the rest of the month to present myself as I pleased.  However, I do have a life outside of the shop, and while I pout a little every time, I do leave the house without the DIVA and her drool and claws. 

I will say it again; EVERYONE should own a cashmere sweater.  No, they aren’t cheap, but you can find them on eBay, at thrift stores, and many of you could knit your own if you were so inclined.  So unless you’re REALLY allergic, there’s nothing you can say to convince me otherwise… we’re all worthy of cashmere.  It’s warm, soft, light and just plain yummy.  

Me, I’m a cardigan girl, but as I do believe Mr. Gunn intends for us to stamp our own individuality and style on this list, you go for a pullover or a keyhole short-sleeved cashmere sweater if that’s what sings to you.   I am also sure that while I love the Babs (above), Mr. Gunn would have heart palpitations if I suggested it was my essential cashmere sweater.  Hem.  No, I’d like to have a solid, maybe something more along the lines of the LL Bean Classic Cashmere Sweater…  I’m just really not feeling LL Bean’s seasonal colors right now though.  The blue is too periwinkle and the pink is too mauve.  Meh.

That brings us to jeans.  Jeans are my standard work pants, but you know what?!  I ditch them for yoga pants when I get home as fast as I change out of a cocktail dress.  I think I’m going to try a pair of Not Your Daughter’s Jeans when I get to my goal weight.  Anyone else have a brand they love?  Or can you tell me how to pick one of the 100 styles of NYDJ for my own body?!

I picked the pair in the photo because they’re stretch.  I like stretch because it helps with the “back gap” I have with all pants.  I most assuredly will NOT be wearing my jeans with heels, nor do I want a peg leg, nor a wide leg…  ??  I just want a dark denim with a straight leg, a not-hip hugger waist, and a little lycra.  Is that too much to ask? 

Evidently, it is.  I spent some more time on Nordstrom’s site, and I can find what I want in a black, but not a traditional denim.  Sigh.  If you find ’em, let me know, okay?

Now.  Praytell… what on earth is “a comfortable alternative to a sweatsuit”?  I like yoga pants and a non-imprinted tee for around the house or rushing to the firehouse or working out.  Is THAT what Mr. Gunn means?

I NEVER tuck my shirt in though.  How is that comfortable or practical when working out?!

Whew.  We marched on through Mr. Gunn’s list in two posts.  Please do tell me what your essentials list would look like.   For instance, there have been many times in my life I’ve not had a day dress in my closet (that fits), and there have also been eras where there were no slacks, even no jeans and I still don’t have the perfect cashmere cardi, but I intend to right that wrong this fall.

Of course, if you’re already tired of my fashion babble, pop over to the girls’ blog and you can read about dog food – again.  And don’t forget to tell me about YOUR weekend, unless you did your taxes.  I have enough of them in my life, thanks!


22 comments on “Essentials Part 2

  1. Jessica says:

    Cashmere. I have some issues with cashmere. I love it, but ONLY if it is expensive, REAL cashmere. here’s why. Cheap cashmere is a bad bad thing. for everyone. although it comes from the same goats, it’s the PHYSICAL where that is important here. If those goats are located in China, that is where the bad part comes in. They are being raised in an area that cannot sustain them, and they deplete the area of its grasses, which leads to erosion and severe dust issues. dust storms that have winged their way across the pacific. Bad for China, bad for everyone.
    So, i am good with cashmere, but not cheap, affordable cashmere bought at Costco, or well, anywhere. if you can REALLY easily afford it, you don’t want it is my personal motto. Cashmere is one of those things that i am OK with it being an elitist fiber that only they wealthy can afford to wear. it’s better for the environment ;o)

    LOL’ing about the comfy alternative to the sweatsuit…i was wondering what the heck that meant as well!

  2. Paige says:

    Glad you like the Wormtopia. The one I was deminstrating at Kids in the Kitchen was borrowed from Lisa, she loves it! And the worms are always a big hit!

  3. Katie says:

    i think i’m with jessica on the cashmere… the cheap stuff makes me feel, well, icky! and it pills. i’d rather a really good merino, personally. i like mr. gunn’s list – a very good practical starting point.

  4. Mary says:

    • Blazer – just went through my extra closet this weekend and have huge bag for charity that includes 8 blazers…all in excellent condition, none worn in years (say “shoulder pads”).
    • Day dress – I’m with you on this – something you can wear to lunch at a nice restaurant.
    • Cashmere sweater – I am with Jessica and Katie on this issue – if I could afford an N.Peal or Pringle’s of Scotland cashmere ($350-550) for the cardi I want, then heck yeah. Not.
    • Jeans – I might try the NYDJ in the future (weight loss thing, too). But otherwise, haven’t worn jeans for years. Have one pair in closet-not flattering.
    • A comfortable alternative to a sweatsuit – uh, would that be PJs that are 20 years old; the ones you can read through the fabric in a strong light? Works for me. Just don’t leave home in ’em.

  5. AlisonH says:

    The cashmere: it is a short-length fiber and in spinning it they have to add what they call mill oils but in the finished yarn feels like dried hair mousse, in order to keep the fibers from blowing around and the yarn coming out uneven.

    The expensive cashmere sweaters? They wash that yarn before you ever touch that sweater. The cheap ones? It’s still in there. It feels harsh. Sometimes a sweater is from yarns that just aren’t fine enough to technically be cashmere and someone in the industry was fudging it, but often, a handwash will transform the thing as those oils come out.

    TSE Cashmere’s website makes you jump through pages of their stuff before they’ll let you see the care page, but there’s a long description of how to handwash cashmere, with the plea not to dryclean it, it yellows and harshens it. On their tags? “Dry clean only.” It’s what they could fit in the tiny space.

    Always use tepid water. Always have the water ready and sudsy with a little unscented undyed laundry detergent fluffed up in it. Put the sweater in, let it rest in there awhile, take it out, add the rinse water, put the sweater back in. You want no temperature change while it’s wet and as very little agitation as possible, the two things that cause felting. Although, cashmere is less likely to felt than wool–but it can.

    I have a number of Ebay cashmere sweaters bought in the $5-6 range and I love love love them. Wear them as my daily shirts a lot of the year. Wearing one right now. I’ve overdyed one or two that arrived ugly, and I could go on and on about what I’ve learned to have the color come out evenly.

  6. Sue says:

    I guess you don’t want to hear from me because I was immersed in taxes all weekend.

    I found jeans that fit. I have short legs, ample hips and a small waist, so I’ve always had problems getting jeans to fit. I tried a pair of straight leg jeans by 24/7 from Roamans online. They fit great with no alterations of any kind. I bought two pair in gray and two pair in black. Now I plan to buy a few in washed denim.

  7. jen says:

    i bought my sister a worm factory for her birthday 2 years ago! She LOVES it! She recycles all her junk mail for their bedding and the worms love coffee grounds, tea bags and egg shells the most! The compost she’s gotten from it has been totally awesome even my house plants love it

  8. I simply cannot DO fashion…I’m missing the necessary gene I think. I have a chasmere scarf that I got in Scotland last summer…it makes me perhaps a sweater would be nice…if I win the lottery!

  9. Blond Duck says:

    My mom loves not your daughter’s jeans!

  10. Barbara S. says:

    I have been thinking about worms for over a year now, I just have to figure out a place to keep them; somehow I don’t think they would like the garage in the wintertime. Like my compost barrel that spends a part of the year frozen and not composting, except I think it bounces back each spring better than the worms would.
    Jeans. Used to be the time that I thought it was highway robbery to spend more than $15-20 on a pair. Then a friend made me try on a pair at the Coldwater Creek Outlet in Jackson and guess what? If you spend more than $20 on jeans, they fit a whole lot better. And the little bit of stretch really does make a huge difference. (Oddly, so does not having to budget for several small growing people’s clothes.)
    Cashmere sweater? Never owned one, but I do wear the sweaters I have and would consider one someday.
    Alternative to sweatpants. Hmmm, I might have something that classifies as yoga pants, but I don’t remember what they marketed them as. I call them comfy, but I agree with the pajama pant theory for around home as well. And really? How is a tucked in t-shirt comfortable? I never do either.

  11. Amy says:

    It is so funny. When I think ‘Day Dress’ I think in terms of re-enactment, because that is the general description of what most women wear when in the camp. Sure, there were Traveling Dresses, Tea Dresses, Wrappers (like a wear around the house dress,) and Ball Gowns. Too many gowns to figure out what was the right one for when. But when I think of a modern ‘Day Dress’, I think of something that can be worn to the office or out to a nice lunch on a Saturday.

  12. Kathy says:

    From worms to fashion…that’s quite a post!

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t wear heels with jeans. That just seems wrong to me.

    I don’t know what the alternative to a sweatsuit is that you’d wear outside of the house. To go out I make an effort to dress decently and what I wear inside shouldn’t really matter to anyone but me. I liked Mr. Gunn’s list up to this item.

  13. gMarie says:

    UGH! Thanks for that – I completely forgot about taxes. Well you’re heard about my weekend and I plan to draw the shopping out in 2 posts 😉

    My basics list – raincoat, Skirts – full and pencil; twinsets. I like GAP Jeans and they may have what you want, try old navy too. They have lots and lots of styles.

    Gotta go find out about the girls food. g

  14. Walden121 says:

    I will probably one of few to disagree with the cashmere sweater, but that is because honestly . . . I hate the feeling of cashmere. It’s so soft that I find it creepy feeling. I’m a very textural person though.

  15. Mr. Puffy says:

    I agree with you – what does he mean a comfortable alternative to a sweatsuit? I love the look of the pants (yoga?)in the photo you used which is similar to some of my exercise outfits ~ but for working around the house I’m in jeans and/or sweat pants and I’m sure I would make the “needs makeover” list 😉

  16. I love the idea of Worm compost. I’ve had an odd fascination with worms for most of my life. I don’t understand or question it. One year I actually bought worm eggs to “plant” in an area of the garden that was very tough to dig in. The next season, that area was just wonderful and has become our memorial garden for kitties of eras passed…replete with dwarf alberta spruces, crocuses (croci?), clematis, and more.

    If you get it, keep us posted about what you think.

  17. Anita says:

    The worm poo interests me far more than wardrobe. LOL
    I grew potatoes by accident in my compost, he he. 🙂 They were tasty too!

    Shopping for some spring flowers to plant on my porch sounds good to me… 😉

  18. Blond Duck says:

    Have a great Tuesday!

  19. Louise says:

    My comfort zone definitely relates with the Wormtopia. When you read my latest post, you will understand.

    My fashion sense is beyond repair. And, yes, I always leave my shirt out too:)

    I’m off to Part 1, thanks for sharing, Channon…

  20. Nichole says:

    Why yes, I do think Chevy….. lol!
    That cashmere sweater is very cute, but not timeless… though I wouldn’t mind owning it!

  21. Marjie says:

    Sorry I was too sick to read these when you posted them!

    Having owned Suburbans (still have one), I think of a small truck when I hear blazer. Why is it that only you, Nic and I responded affirmatively?

    I think a wardrobe should have the basics: neutral skirts, pants if you like them (including jeans and lounging around pants), a dress and a blazer/jacket for starters. But I think it’s a lot more than that, overall, don’t you? If we all followed Mr. Gunn’s recipe, we’d all look the same: Boring!

    Oh, BTW, I love the camo bowl on Sissy’s head in the next post; that picture made me laugh. Gretchen is too little to haul that bowl; it’s as big as her little legs!

  22. Bubblesknits says:

    Hrm…comfortable alternative to a sweat suit? Sounds like yoga pants and a t-shirt to me. LOL

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