Monday, January 13, 2014

Outfit Planning 101: The Sunday Night Big Picture; Day 1: Magenta and Dark Florals

Okay, you ready? I'm gonna give away a lot of secrets about how I plan my outfits in advance, so pay close attention! 

On Sunday night, about an hour before bed, I mosey on into my closet (and yes, I do have a little walk-in closet, which I had custom-built about 7 years ago), and I start pulling outfits together. 

So, you want to do this too? Here's what I need to think about:
  • What events do I have on at work this week? Will they require me to do a lot of standing? Will I need to be very active in my clothes? Affects: tightness/looseness of clothes, heel height.
  • What events do I have after work this week? Will I be spending up to 12 hours in my clothes? Longer? Do I need to transition from office to casual/dressy? Affects: additional items brought to work to change into/out of (think change of tights, jewelry, belt to jazz up an item, or removing a piece like a jacket to be dressier, or a change of heel height).
  • What's the weather going to do this week? Cold means lots of layers, rainy means my hems could get dirty or my shoes could get wet. Affects: fabrics worn (lighter/heavier), additional underthings for warmth, accessories as layers (scarves, for example).

Your requirements might be different, but think about what's going to impact you sartorially for the upcoming week. Planning and forethought is key! 

Here's what this week looks like for me, from Sunday's perspective. The weather will be grey with a bit of rain, so I'll layer slips under skirts, and add camisoles as needed to stave off the chill.
  • Monday: always busy at work, on my feet. Meeting a photographer (hi, Matt!) after work to discuss styling for his photo-shoots. I want to look polished yet eclectic for work (another new person starting), but want to look artsy for the coffee meeting.
  • Tuesday: I deal with catering and will need to do some washing up as well as running dishes back to the restaurant. Weight Watcher meeting that night means I should wear something light (for weighing myself), but also fun for my members (they like to see what crazy stuff I wear).
  • Wednesday: catering at work, but that company is easier clean-up. No plans after work. Could do a funky outfit!
  • Thursday: catering at work, but another easy clean-up. Book Club after work, so I want to wear something fun that I can sit around and drink wine in.
  • Friday: busy work day, but no catering. I like to wear a piece of denim or leather on Fridays - it's almost the weekend, so be a bit more fun. No plans after work on Friday, so I could do a heel if I wanted.
I go into my closet and start looking around. Yes, I do have my clothes all grouped by type, and sorted by colour, and I can see nearly everything in my closet. I'm not getting into actual closet organization, but it really helps. 

I start pulling out single items that I want to wear again, either because they are:
  • new/only worn once or twice;
  • something I haven't worn for a long time, and it's time to see if this puppy is going to stay in my closet; or
  • something I haven't worn for a long time, and I feel like wearing it again.
So here are the things I pulled together right off the bat.

Etro blazer and vintage red wool suit skirt
I have only worn this skirt once before. Due to the weather, I'm mostly doing jackets and cardigans these days for warmth, so I held the skirt up to my row of jackets and blazers (all sorted light to dark, naturally) to see what caught my eye. This blazer has been worn a couple of times, and I like that it has a little bit of red in the lapel pattern. Done!

Next item is this purple pouffy blouse.
Purpley blouse with vintage wool skirt - I've already started thinking about shoes
Because it's pouffy, I want to keep the bottom half of the outfit slim. I really liked how the orchid purple colour popped off the dark teal. Done! That's not going to be warm enough, but we'll work on that later.

Don't stress out if it doesn't really look like much right away. Just put the two or three items together and hang them up (I jam them in on one of the lower bars, shoving all my blouses and skirts to one side).

Next: I haven't worn this denim jacket in forever. Looks like I found my Friday denim piece.
A plain fitted jacket needs a bigass pouffy skirt. I'm mad for plaid, so let's do it! Hey, I've never worn the matching headband - why not?

I really like my sheer dark floral top:
Eeep, bad closet lighting
But it's way too cold to wear on its own. How about a cardigan? This magenta one goes well with the colours in the blouse. I don't really want to go too crazy on the bottom, so one of my black skirts will work. How about the vintage wool one? Done!

I want to wear the purple leather skirt again:
Ooh, it goes nice with this jacket, and here's a simple grey cowl-necked sweater to wear under it. Done!

Now, that wasn't so bad, was it? Do you see my little "rules" for myself in these outfits?

  • Defined waist;
  • If the top is fitted, do a fuller bottom;
  • If the top is pouffy, do a fitted bottom;
  • One to two colours or patterns;
  • At least one neutral. 

I do consider all of those when grabbing stuff. I know what looks best on my figure (the hourglass shape), and I like to accentuate that. Your guidelines for yourself might be different.

Now your 5 outfits get hung up in the closet all side-by-side, ready for you to wear.

But, Sheila! How do you get 2 pieces to look like an actual outfit? 

Jeez, patience! We're getting to that. We have to pick out shoes first.

First outfit: I have wine/red, a bit of cream on the cuffs and hint of yellow in the lapels.
I'm going to go with...matching the wine colour. My burgundy Miz Mooz boots will do nicely. Okay, done.

Next up: the pouffy shirt/skirt combo. I need a neutral, so black.
I also need some warmth, so how about this sleeveless jacket I've only worn once? First time with sleeves under it, should be fun! I already knew I wanted to wear my sort-of matchy green shoes with this outfit, so done.

Next: crazy plaid Friday outfit. Note that I haven't actually assigned any of the other outfits to days at this point. I'm just building outfits and I'll sort that out later.
The plaid has black, so black mid-calf boots will be good. Done!

Next: the magenta cardi/dark floral outfit:
A black shoes would be a snooze, so how about these nice cherry red Fluevogs? Like it - done!

And the last one: I don't really want to do purple shoes (too matchy), and black would be too harsh so...
An assist from Vizzini
Cat! I mean, grey wooly boots. Perfect!

Putting the above 5 outfits together took me about half an hour. That's it! And it makes it so much easier to then deal with one outfit at time, knowing I have the rest of the week taken care of. Sometimes I even go poking around in there on Saturday. I find it very relaxing. I pull stuff out, look at it, put it back, hold it up to the skirts or jackets. Paw through my dresses (too cold right now!), look at the shoes.

Don't stress about the details of each outfit! Think about the Big Picture. You've built 5 outfits. Give yourself a pat on the back. Well done, lil' camper!

But of course, you DO need to think about your Monday outfit now. I find this the most fun part (the funnest? More funnerer?). So let's do Monday together.

Accessories! As mentioned, I like a defined waist. Why? I carry a whack of keys around at work on a reel clip, so I need something to hang that on. I also have a small waist and I'd like to keep it that way. I find that a belt makes me both sit up straighter (posture!) and reminds me not to poach too many sausage rolls off the catering order (nom nom, sausage rolls...).

So my options are: a black belt (bo-ring!), a purple belt (yeah, okay, that could work) or a red belt. Since I'm doing a red-toned shoe, I'm going to go with a red belt.
Belt ready for duty, tights are clean and ready to pull on when I'm half-asleep
I already have coloured pattern in my outfit, but what about a black pattern for tights? Solid black is so blah. Yes, I like a pattern. Black floral, to tie it all together.

I'm wearing silver (on the belt), so let's keep in the silver family for our jewelry:
Pins go on the clothes before you put the clothes on!
This pin is so pretty, and I only paid $2.00 for it - and I've never worn it. Time to wear it! The neckline on this blouse is very bold and would visually fight with a necklace, so a pin where the two lapels join looks very appealing to me. Sort of a vintage-y look going here. 

In keeping with the floral and scrolly shape of the brooch, let's do scrolly shaped jewelry: 
Jewelry decided on, and lined up on a shelf in the closet. One step that I didn't show here is that I also laid out my underwear and a camisole to wear under the blouse. I don't need a slip with this skirt.

This outfit was hung out facing (like in the top pictures) in my closet, with both pairs of shoes on the floor, with all the accessories grouped together. There is no scrambling around for pieces or trying to find the missing shoe - it's all ready to go. I do not try stuff on the night before - I know how my clothes fit and 99% of the time, the outfit works out fine.

In the morning, put it all on and go! Sometime when I'm in the shower, I can't remember what I'm actually wearing for the day - it's a surprise! I never, ever change what I planned to wear, unless there is a mark or stain, or something else catastrophic. did it actually work today?
Well, aside from it being really dark this morning, and my stairs picture being really blurry, I liked this outfit a lot. I got several compliments on it. The one thing that irritated me was that I hadn't counted on the weight of the brooch pulling down the neckline of the blouse - I fussed with that a bit during the day, but it wasn't too bad.

The cardigan was last seen here at the Unlimited Woman Awards in November, on my dear friend Cat, but it was last worn by me here with black satin tux pants.
The blouse is a no-name thrifted item, last worn here with last Friday's red leather skirt. I do like the dark florals - very "soft Goth".
The skirt is one of my personal treasures: thrifted vintage Gianfranco Ferre. Wool, perfectly cut and made (in Italy). Love. I last wore it here with...the same blouse! back in September when I first bought it.

The stuff:
My lovely cherry-red Fluevogs were last seen here in September with hot pink and my Chinese tunic jacket.

The bling:
The amethyst ring and earrings were Christmas gifts in the 80s from my dad, and the Mexican ring is obsidian - also from Mom and Dad in the 80s.

Cardigan (Jacob, thrifted), blouse (no label, thrifted), skirt (vintage 80s, Gianfranco Ferre, thrifted), shoes (Sencha Teapot, Fluevog), belt (Plum), pin (thrifted), cuff (St. Paul's Cathedral gift shop), earrings/ring (homegrown vintage 80s, Mom and Dad).

Also taking a moment to wish my brother Dave a very Happy Birthday!

And now, I'm off to my closet to put together tomorrow's outfit. Whatever will it be??

I hope you enjoyed seeing how I plan ahead. I'll get into the details of how each outfit comes together so you can see how I'm accessorizing and taking it from Big Picture to (hopefully) fab fashion. Questions?


  1. Oh Wow! You are organized, but not so much that you lose creativity! That's a talent Sheila! I like how you do this, and I think the only thing I would have to allow myself is some flexibility with how I feel in the morning. I might reach for a day three hanger on day one, for example. Now, I really want a custom built walk in closet. I think that would help me immensely, to be able to see all my things in one spot. Have a great week!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this - really interesting!
    I think my issue is that I have to try everything on - unless it's a dress. Points to me having too many items and not being familiar enough with what I own most likely! Ashamed to admit I can probably spend 30 minutes an evening trying on clothes for the next day. :(

  3. Love how that first outfit turned out. And that skirt was SUCH a great find! I can tell it's quality.

  4. Your closet is a wonderland, Sheila! And you're the queen. I learned some good tips here, and though I'll never be as well-prepared as you, you're helping me inch along in that direction. Now, must have my own walk-in closet. xo

  5. I love the idea of planning the week all at once. I do plan my outfits the night before, but that is about as far in advance as I get unless I have something special planned.

    Thanks for sharing your process. I'm going to try it and see how it goes.

  6. Wow, I am impressed my dear friend.
    You consider so many things and make 5 outfits that work head to toe in 30 minutes ?!
    I pull outfits when i am in "the mood" sometimes I'll pull 2weeks worth of clothes in one night.... but that rarely happens.

  7. Now that's organisation, Sheila! You mean you don't just stumble into your wardrobe, having looked out the window to see what the weather's doing, and grab what's clean? I'm a little more... organic, shall we say (random,shambolic would also fit) in my approach! But it's clearly working for you, as your outfits are always so well put together, based on what you need to do and your personal taste, style and body shape. I'm a similar shape to you, have clear ideas about what works for me, and more or less eliminated anything that doesn't flatter or fit, so there's no need to try anything on beforehand.
    Love those tights and the magenta/red combination. xxx

  8. Thanks for sharing this!! I do something very similar myself on Sunday evenings!!
    Love the outfit!!

  9. WOAH!!! You are impressing my pants off! So organised! I try and pop a few things together the night before, but that's as far as it goes, and I frequently don't manage it!!!! You're amazing! I daresay Vizzini is a great help too.
    O, speaking of cats, Peepers brought us a RAT this morning. UGH! It was revolting. She was so pleased with herself, the ghastly child. G had to remove it, I was squealing too much.

  10. Very interesting! I think about the same sorts of things - what I'm doing after work, how much running around there'll be that day, what the weather's like - but usually just that morning as I'm standing in front of the closet. And I almost always start with shoes, because they seem to have the most impact on whether an outfit is workable all day!

  11. An excellent look into your thought process! I usually focus on my activity level first and foremost.


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