Archive of ‘Closet Staples’ category

Our Five Favorite Fall/Winter Purchases

It is a very interesting exercise to revisit our purchases for fall/winter 2012 to decide, in retrospect, which items have become our favorites. Often these are new additions to our wardrobes, but sometimes a new addition gives us greater appreciation for items we have had for several seasons. Since we have certainly not stopped shopping for this year, we’ll return to this topic in March to see if our January five picks have remained our favorites.

Jeanne’s Five Favorites

JBJ 5 winter favorites collage

  • Calvin Klein Leopard print kitten heels (similar) – With their pointy toes and bright colors, these pumps have quickly become a favorite. And I haven’t even worn them that much! They go with everything – animal print is a neutral this year and also follows the pattern mixing trend – and they are super comfortable.  
  • Thakoon Addition patchwork jacket – I am ashamed to say that I paid full retail for this jacket back in the fall, but it works in so many ways. The colors are bright and a bit unusual – gold, brown, blue and orange – and the styling – with a lower back and higher front  – is on trend. I can wear it open or pin it shut so it meets my criteria on the versatility front.
  • J. Crew brown polka dot Cafe Capris – These were deeply on sale. Because they are a silk/wool combo, they are warm but also have a sheen that makes them suitable for dress up. They are such so darn cute! Also go with the two items above!
  • J. Crew cobalt blue Cafe Capris with black trim – These are just different enough and I love them with many different color combinations. There are a million different ways to wear them and they always look chic.
  • Pinkmink navy blue polka dot blouse with off white polka dots (similar) – This will be a year-round item and I’ve just begun to think about how to wear it. It’s light and airy enough to wear in warm weather and works under sweaters and jackets too.

Kate’s Five Favorites:

Kate 5 winter favorites

  • Anne Klein turquoise suede pumps (similar) – I LOVE these shoes. The color is such a nice pop that I can add to almost any outfit, and I love how the suede shoe contrasts with the patent leather platform and heel. I’ve only worn them a few times yet, but I can envision so many outfits moving forward.
  • J.Crew blue gingham shirt – This is something I had been wanting for a while, and finally bit the bullet. Gingham is such a fresh print that adds character to almost any outfit, and I have worn this shirt a lot, both for work and casually.
  • Loft dash print pants (similar) – These were my first foray into printed pants, and I’m a total convert! It’s also challenging for me to find slim dress pants that are flattering, and I really scored with these.
  • J.Crew leopard print cardigan (similar) – Love this cardigan. J.Crew’s cardigans are cut really nicely, and leopard has become a neutral in my closet. An animal print cardigan is a must for anyone’s wardrobe.
  • Target raspberry cocoon cardigan (very similar) – A spur of the moment purchase that has become a favorite. This cardigan is light and comfortable, and I love the color – a bright berry pink that is different from anything else I have in my wardrobe.

We see some trends here: animal print and other fun patterns, bright colors, and pieces that we think will be closet staples.

What have you bought this season that you really love?


Stylish Winter Must-Haves

We live in very different climate and experience very different winters – Jeanne deals with the constant rain and gloom of Seattle, while Kate bundles up for the (sometimes) chilly weather in DC. Although the weather and severity of winters varies, we both rely on some key items to keep us warm/dry/etc. The tricky part is making all those layers look stylish!

Kate winter accessories

Kate says: The look on the left above is for cool weather and/or rain (in the 50s). This J.Crew coat is a few years old but is still my favorite – I love the color and the cut. My GAP hat (similar) (one of my fashion risks this fall!) adds a little warmth and keeps the rain off my face, and my GAP scarf (similar) is the coziest I’ve ever had. I love the little pop of pink it adds!

On the right we have my colder weather gear (30s-40s). This J.Crew coat is lined with Thinsulate so it’s considerably warmer than the other, and I get lots of compliments on the color. The hat I ordered from REI (similar) last winter – the key to comfortable wool beanies is a fleece liner to prevent itching. Finally, my fingerless gloves/mittens were a Christmas present. Since I commute on the bus and often have to wait outside, they keep my hands warm while letting me do other things (like use my phone or read a book).

Jeanne says: My weather in Seattle can really vary from warmer and rainy to cold and snowy. Because of this, I need to have several different levels of warmth ready to go! This requires a multitude of coats for fashionistas – raincoat, light wool coat, light down coat, and heavy down coat – to be toasty but not too hot or cold. This is how I dress in different situations:

JBJ winter accessories 1

  • Just rainy and generally yucky (50 degrees plus): my new Jane Post slicker works well and looks chic, but I still need a warm scarf and umbrella!
  • Gray and threatening or sunny (40 to 49 degrees): A simple unlined coat (similar) works here; I love the 3/4 sleeves and the bright color for gloomy days

JBJ winter accessories 2

  • 30 degrees in the morning and no higher than high 30s during the day: At these temps, I move into light down (similar – super cute colors!) and wear it with pops of color like the infinity scarf Kate made for me and my hot pink wool gloves.
  • Freezing and below (snow or just bitter cold): Onto my heaviest down coat and a big wrap that I can wear as a scarf, a shawl or a muffler. Now I need to keep my feet warm and dry with my Merrell boots and some bright rolled down socks.

Here are a few winter coat options we recommend at different price points:

dkny hooded raincoatlaundry cinched waist jacketbernardo down walking jacketlands end heathered down coat

How do you handle our changing climate during the winter?  What are the best solutions you have found?


*This post was written for IFB Project #178.

Closet Staples: The Ever Faithful Black Pants

Who can argue with black pants? Perfect for packing, perfect to go with lots of different tops, perfect for dress-up evenings, and perfect for most body types. What else is there to know?

Here are a few style tips that we will demonstrate in today’s outfits.

  • First of all, keep the style of your black pants up to date. You’ll be wearing them a lot and they will either give your outfit a stylish edge and make you look, despite your efforts, out of date.
  • Next, pick the fabric of your black pants with care for several reasons:
    • There are many different shades of black. Make sure the ones you buy match other blacks in your closet.
    • Black pants pick up lint. We all know this, but some fabrics are worse than others. Cotton is tough as well as some synthetic blends. The good news about a wool blend is that you’ll have lint but it is easier to remove. Before you make your purchase, experiment with other light-colored items in the store to see about “lintiness”.
  • Black pants may be dark and therefore forgiving in terms of our figure flaws, but it is still important to be a tough critic of your look before you go out. You may need Spanx or you may just need to iron your pants very well.
  • Make sure they are the right length. If there was ever a time to buy two pairs of identical pants and hem each for a different heel height, this is it!
  • Finally, cut is very important. You want to make sure the cut of your black pants is both stylish and timeless so your investment will last more than one season. Here are the cuts we recommend:
    • Cropped and slim (sometimes called pencil or matchstick pants): this cut is flattering on most, depending on how skinny you go, and also is very in right now.
    • Slim and full length: again, very flattering and super stylish. This cut looks great with both flats and heels.
    • Bootcut or slight flare: this style is perennially stylish and looks great with heels. Be careful though – a bootcut with flats can make your legs look shorter.

JBJ 12-20-12 1JBJ 11-13-12 2

Ankle pants: Cynthia Steffe (similar)

Jeanne says: Black for me is kind of like an empty canvas and usually the backdrop for a great jacket or sweater. Since I’m all about ankle pants this year, these are the black pants you’ll see me wearing. Interesting note: if your black pants are ankle length, they go with heels and flats – no need to buy two pairs to hem at different lengths!black pants collage

Black jeans: DL1961; Bootcut pants: Gap; Ankle pants: J.Crew Factory

Kate says: I like to have a variety of black pants, although I’ll agree with Mom that I’m mostly wearing ankle pants this year. In the far left photo above, I’m actually wearing black jeans, which have been one of my most-worn wardrobe additions. I can dress them down like normal jeans, or dress them up for work or going out.

What are your favorite pairs of black pants? How do you wear them?

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