A Whole New Thing

As the No Shopping Summer winds down and we prepare for the inaugural edition of #PCAbookclub, there’s one more exciting thing to announce, which is: I have decided I’m going to (after the summer shopping ban lifts) start wearing black again!

I’ve mentioned this to a couple of friends already, and they all asked one thing: why? Folks, it really comes down to two main reasons. First, honestly, I live in a cold place, and when the weather’s miserable, your options shrink. After this year’s many-months-long winter, I just grew plain sick of the brown tights-and-boots combo. I’d tapped out on ways to make it interesting. And since I can’t really find any navy blue or charcoal gray boots that meet my standard of quality (admittedly high), I’ve decided I’m going to get set for another winter like the one we just had by introducing black boots to my selection.

The other reason comes out of the summer “no shopping” challenge, actually. One of the first things I did was clean out my closet – which I’d highly recommend if you’re self-imposing a shopping ban, as I’ve always previously cleaned out my closet with the ability to just refill it at will. When you empty your closet without the plan to replace any items you discard, you find yourself doing so with a bit more purpose. I took a bit more time to make deliberate decisions, laying everything I own out first by use (work dresses vs. fun dresses, jeans vs. trousers, etc), then by season (short sleeves vs. long sleeves, heavy wool vs. cotton, etc), and then finally by color. In doing this, I realized: as much as I blame other people for making black a crutch, I was making navy blue a crutch. I had so many pair of navy blue trousers, so many navy blue dresses, that I was doing exactly what I’d always turned my nose up at! Shame. On. Me.

So, when the summer ends, I’ll be doing some expanding. I’m not planning to go hog wild here, but I’ve got a short wish list of items to take me into a more inclusive wardrobe, specifically:

  • a black work-appropriate skirt
  • black ankle pants
  • black flats
  • black boots
  • a black shoulder bag

Aside from that, I’m still forming my list. I don’t intend to wear much black close to my face (with my fair skin and dark hair, I’m still not a fan of that look), but I’m open to wearing tops that have black in the pattern. In addition to all the new pieces, I’m excited about all the new pairings for my plentiful gray clothes!

One of the big perks of re-including black is that it’s EVERYWHERE. Every single designer makes something in black – so the good stuff is inevitably going to be on sale in a big way. Here are a few items I’ve got my eye on:

Clockwise from top left: Mossimo | J. Crew | Banana Republic

Every petite, curvy girl needs a great-fitting stretchy work basic on her lower half. I love these three pieces because they all boast just that feature – the pencil skirt comes in Banana’s “Sloan” fabric, the ankle pants in a fab stretch twill, and the flared skirt (a steal at $16!) in a ponte knit. All three pieces come in a variety of gorgeous colors, too.

Beyond that, it’s the details that get me. The pencil skirt is incredibly classic, but comes with back trouser pockets; the pants are side-zip, which makes for a very flattering and sleek fit; and the flared skirt has great seam detail. The skirts would be great with heels or with tights and boots, and the pants would look very chic with black or leopard flats.

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L to R: Cole Haan | Coach

I’m doing well for bags in a variety of colors: a great satchel in an all-season teal [similar], an oxblood carryall, and an awesome cross-body bag in a beautiful colorblock. I’ve been carrying this all-purpose Cuyana bag for work and play, and it seriously serves every need (and you better believe mine is monogrammed). The only thing I don’t have is a bag with a casual-but-work-appropriate slouch, so when I buy a black bag, I think that’ll be my focus. Either of these will do well.

N.B. to anyone not participating in the No Shopping Summer (AND WHY, I MIGHT ASK, ARE YOU NOT?) (just kidding) (sort of) the Coach bag is currently part of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale at $120 less than its usual price. A well-made bag in a timeless shape is a worthwhile investment, especially if you’re at the stage in your career and life where I am, so a great deal is a big win. 6pm and Amazon are great resources for bags at a discount.

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Clockwise from top left: Tory Burch | Naturalizer | Louise et Cie

These Tory Burch flats are exclusive to Nordstrom, and as they’re also part of the Anniversary Sale, there are only lucky sizes left. If you have tiny feet and are allowed to shop right now, SNAP THEM UP. I love the patent leather and the bold gold detail.

I own these boots in the whiskey brown and I adore them – they go with everything and the leather is buttery soft and pebbled. If your calf muscles aren’t quite as muscular as mine, you might size down to the regular-calf version, which is still a healthy 15.5″ circumference.

I don’t know much about the Louise et Cie brand (also part of the Anniversary Sale at nearly half off) but 22 people rated these well, and I adore the edge that the gold spikes bring to an otherwise-feminine ballet flat.

Like your bag, a great pair of well-fitting shoes are a worthwhile expense – the older you get, the less your feet are willing to withstand those faux-leather 5″ heels, so it’s time to let go of your dreams of a MTV Cribs-style shoe closet. Fewer shoes of higher quality will serve you well. (Unless you’ve got oodles of money and nowhere else to spend it; if that’s the case, buy all the shoes you desire. But first, make a donation to LAYC!) Obviously, you should always focus on quality over quantity, especially as you age. However, if you have to choose between high-quality shoes/bags and high quality clothes, always err on the side of fine leather goods. Fabrics are always easier to clean, alter, and replace.

Since we petite/curvy gals will take any leg lengthening illusion that comes our way, all three of these shoes have a flattering and classic almond toe. The boots are a bit more rounded, but with the heel, it’s less of an issue. I also always try to follow Belle’s two-of-three rule when wearing boots, which consistently provides a longer leg line.

I’ve already got amazing black heels, thanks to my extracurricular activities, and since I already own those boots in brown I know they’re HELLA comfy, so I’m not anticipating an urgent need for flat boots right away. That in mind, #PetiteCrew, what other pieces should I be procuring?

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