Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Outer Shell

Mr. E bought me this duster as my birthday present, back in May. It's a lightweight cotton, lined with acetate, and saw very little use in our hothothot summer. Mr. E worried i didn't like his gift, but i assured him when temps (finally) dipped this duster would be in constant use. And it has! It's too light for our recent cold snap (daytime temps in low 40's F), but in our usual warmer climate it's fine layered over a long sleeved top and cashmere or alpaca cardi.

In fall and winter, my style is all about 'the outer shell'. I like to come up with a few sets of outer pieces to create my looks for the season. These sets generally consist of a topper, hat, and scarf.  This trio has been my go-to set this winter so far. I enjoy the pear shape i get by buttoning the duster up high and letting the wool gauze scarf fall. This beret is also wool, very toasty.

I can't recall the last time i had a duster-type jacket in my closet. Wait, it's coming back to me - never! i have no idea why not, since the dramatic shape and style connotations seem right up my alley. It could be that i was waiting for 'the one'. Unfortunately, many dusters seem created solely to hide butt and thighs, rather than to flatter or create a sense of drama and intrigue. I need a bit of my shape to show, either through tailoring or drapey fabric, otherwise i look like i'm carrying around my own group emergency shelter. Whatever the reason i've been 'duster-less' until now, i am thrilled that i've finally found one that works, and works so well. In fact, i've snagged the pattern and fabric to create another duster/dress - in linen and a bit longer, perhaps all the way down to the knee.

Oof, i was tired when i took these pictures and it shows! Nevermind, i loved this variation of this look and wanted to remember it. The same 'outer shell' as above, this time on top of petticoat, skirt, and over the knee socks.

In this pic you can see the duster's shaping around the back of the waist. I get a kick out of the way this ensemble downplays my bust - amazingly so, as long time blog readers will realize there's quite a bit to camouflage! Creating a different shape with clothes is one of my favorite style activities. It's like magic :)

I don't want to ignore the role that these skinny jeans have been playing in my wardrobe these days. They are warm, easy to wear, comfy, up to date and stylin'!  Best of all, they were super duper easy to get my hands on. Remember these boot cut jeans i made long ago?

Goodness gracious, it was over a year ago! Time flies.  Well, i never wore them. "Dark wash bootcut jeans" have got to be the most recommended piece for middle aged ladies looking to up their style game. Theoretically i can see all of their great points and wonderful flexibility.....however when confronted with the actual critter in my closet i'll choose something else every time.  Somewhere around last July or August it occurred to me that i could just peg the darn things. (See what i mean by my 'blog closet' being out of touch with my 'real closet'?).  I did, and since then our relationship status has been 'inseparable'.

Ah, it takes me back to high school in the late 1970's, when the only way i could get the jeans i wanted was to peg my own. These days we have unlimited choice - which leads to the problem of knowing what it is you want. It's so difficult to find that sweet spot for some of us! I'm just pleased as punch that i got a whole new pair of perfect pants with no shopping or (full-garment) sewing involved.

Do any of you think of  'outer shells' during the colder seasons as well? Or do you rely on one warm coat for the practicalities, and concentrate on how you look once you arrive at your destination and the coat comes off? The latter approach served me when i was growing up, and the last couple of years i've been sloooowly developing 'outer shells'. Needless to say, i would be fascinated to hear about any style strategies you have developed for looking great when it's cooler. Two is hardly a vast array of strategies, and my motto in that arena is 'the more the merrier'!


  1. Mr. E. has great taste; that duster is perfect for your figure and style aesthetic. You don't look tired, just beautiful as usual.

    It's so warm in our winters, and I only have to go from car right to office, that I've never thought much about outerwear. But with frequent visits to NYC now that my daughter has moved there, I realized outerwear as fashion is critical. I was thrilled to win an Ann Taylor slate blue wood dress coat in eBay, and will plan a much more intentional look around it.

  2. Fabulous outwear, Steph - I agree with Lynne that your husband chose perfectly for you! I love the coat over the full skirt too. I think it will *not* get cold enough here in FL to warrant a coat : <, but I'd love a shapely one like yours.

  3. A very cute duster! Lots of interesting detailing. The hubster did good.

  4. Love the duster. Mr. E deserves a kiss for this one. I love the details on it too. Yes the outer piece can be a great style definer. Since the weather has been milder here in DC I have had much more of an opportunity to wear my lightweight coats. I like the duster length instead of the longer coat length much more practical for getting in and out of the car. The pegged jeans look great too. I think the boot cut jeans is the expected style for us 'ladies of a certain age' so I like the 'unexpected' skinnies better too.

  5. Wonderful duster with very unique and cool style. It looks fabulous on you! I have a love hate relationship with coats. I love the way they look but they are a pain to have to put on and take off all the time. Then having to cart them around while shopping is another irritant. I guess I am just getting to be a crabby old lady!

  6. Right at the top, i have to agree Mr. E has taste all over it! truly, if you have a choice of going shopping with him or me: Choose Mr. E!!!! He has the gift :)

    Hi Lynne! yes, this topic is so influenced by our lifestyles and climates. Interesting how your trips to see your daughter have 'opened your eyes', and i'll be looking forward to what you get up to. That slate blue sounds so gorgeous with your amazing eyes!!! and thank you :)

    Hello Patti - your coat about winter in FL has just been cracking me up!! whatcha gonna do - there are enough climate appropriate clothes to worry about, without thinking about stuff that's completely off the wall!

    Hi Sharon! your new coat turned out really beautifully! and your various piecings look very well thought out and intentional - not at all from 'ooops'! and thank you - i was happy to wear all these details without having had to think about them, truth to tell ;)

    Hello Adrienne! you know, i think you look great in a duster length, and i hadn't thought about the practical angle. I've been liking your dresses and skirts with leggings (great legs!), maybe you can scare up a pair of skinnies too? i'll be keeping an eye out - and i'm happy to hear you've had a chance to wear your lighter coats - you're setting an excellent example for us all with your outerwear wardrobe! :)

    Debbi, i so completely agree with you on the hassles of coats! Especially as so many really warm coats are also really heavy and bulky.....i have to say in my case i can't plead age, as i've been b7tch'n about this since i was 14 or so (!) heehee, maybe we're ahead of our time!

    on a serious note, i'm getting motivated to investigate some of the newer 'tech' fabrics to see if i can get warmth with less weight/bulk. If i find out, i'll let you know!

    Happy Day and Stay Warm! steph

  7. The duster is fabulous and I absolutely adore your shoes. Although I hate to be cold, I actually have a lot of light-weight coats because they're perfect for bike riding. They keep me warm and dry without being too hot.

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  9. Yes he sure did good! I also like your hat!!!

  10. That duster is fab. I remember the day you got it! Score for Mr. E. the silhouette is really beautiful, and the details are interesting. I think I'd wear this all day long instead of shedding it once indoors. I'd probably end up wearing a heavy coat over it during the cool weather months.

    I love outerwear, and have a small but good variety. But I'm in the camp of those who focus time working on what's on beneath the coat.

  11. Hi there Gracey! thank you - i have to say you seem like a lady who would absolutely ROCK duster-style! Your collections of coats sounds super-styling as well as very very practical. That happens to me sometimes - i dress for sitting around in a coolish house, then when i go out for my walk i end up totally overheated. I am trying to pay more attention, tho! "Remember how Gracey does it...."

    Just leaving this anon comment up so you all can see how pertinent the span i've been deleting is. So many of you have mentioned that you're looking all over the place for a used mack truck, and so frustrated that you can't find any...... /snark/

    Hullo Judi! thank you! Nothing beats a wool beret.

    Hi P! yay, that was a fun day! i like wearing this one indoors when it's on the cool side, but i increase it's utility by wearing it as outerwear when it's warmer.

    "I love outerwear, and have a small but good variety. But I'm in the camp of those who focus time working on what's on beneath the coat." Really, it sounds like you and Gracey have it together by working Both options!! if you get a tingling feeling in the future, we're all just trying to channel your fabulousness :)

    Happy Day!! steph

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