June 19, 2009

Five items I would always/never wear

Wednesday’s post about one of my year-round favourite items of clothing (lightweight knits) prompted me to think more about those pieces which are perennial favourites and those that would never be seen within a five mile radius of my closet.

Across the pages of many fantastic blogs, I’ve recently been noticing a fun “tagged meme” sort of post popping up, in which the writer describes five items of clothing or other fashion related items she (or he) is eternally fond of wearing and five which they would never be seen dead – let alone alive – in. I haven’t been tagged, but I think it’s still A-ok for me to compose my own such list.

Before I begin, I must say that there are very few items of clothing I truly loath, that I would have to be plied with copious amounts of liquor or be handed a cheque with numerous zeros to put on. Like most people who enjoy (re: insanely love) fashion, I have distinct favourites and have developed a style of my own, but that doesn’t mean I dislike a certain pieces of clothing just because I don’t own one of said item. Everything that I love will be hated by someone and vice versa. So if you’re wild about some of the items that I’m not on speaking terms with, please know that chances are I dislike the item primarily because it just doesn’t work on my body type, not because I feel it needs to be put in a lead box and dropped in the middle of the ocean.


These items are my clothing are my bread and butter, my BBFs for life; they’ve got my back (often literally), and I’ve got a perpetual soft spot in my heart for them. Without these pieces my wardrobe as I know it would cease to exist.

Full skirts: To say I love full skirts (which hit just below the knee or longer) is a true understatement. I would don a crinoline and get my Gone With The Wind style on, gleefully, any day if given the chance. While I have a penchant for pencil skirts too, there’s something about the undeniably feminine element of a skirt that bells out at the bottom that appeals to me on every possible fashion level.

{Drop-dead gorgeous floral print? Check. Hailing from the 1950s? Check. Full skirt? Check. Ladies and gents, we have a winner!}

Classic, tastefully tall boots : I have somewhat wide, uneven sized, thick feet and as such have had to watch the majority of sexy, strappy heels and shoes poke fun at me my whole life. Thank goodness for boots, whose construction often affords those with wide feet more room, while still looking stylish. I love black, brown or other dark hued boots, especially those in the mid-calf to just-below-the-knee range (think classic English riding boot height), a good pair of which can almost always sooth my nerves after I’ve tried on 947 pairs of heels/sandals/wedges/sling-backs/flats that wouldn’t stay – or couldn’t get – on my feet.

{What can I say, I’m a sucker for an elegant, classic tall boot that works its stylish magic all through bitterly cold autumn, winter and early spring months. Must be the Canadian fashionista in me.}

Crisp, well tailored button front shirts: I have at times described my style as mid-twentieth century meets Stevie Knicks meets Victorian belle meets Martha Stewart, though really the later is added to mix simply because I love the look – and wearing – of classic, well cut button front blouses. They work incredibly well with a pencil skirt to highlight my hourglass curves, and have the amazing ability to transcend and rise above whatever wacky fashion trends might be going on at the moment. And hey, we all know that’s a good thing!

{If you’re ever going to buy something in multiples, I implore to make it gorgeous button front shirts like this one. They are to fashion what Mozart is to classical music.}

Polka dots: Awww, mommy dearest, I know it was you and your adoration of Little Dot cartoons that instilled a passion for these charming spots in me from the get-go. So long as they steer clear of the large, mod era circles, I love polka dots like they were a member of my own family.

{One look at this charming dress and I decided to create a new take on an old expression: cute as a polka dot!.}

Dark denim: Imagine the best dessert you’ve eaten in your life, think about how its flavours sent your taste buds on a joy ride, how you wanted it to last forever and how every other dessert you’ve consumed since has secretly been compared to that one. Now imagine a stale convenience store fruit pie that’s probably been sitting on the shelf for three years. To me that is what it’s like to compare dark denim with light denim. From the moment I bought my first pair of indigo hued jeans (September 2000, I remember the day well), I’ve never been able to wear anything below a medium hued denim, the darker the inky blue, the better (ideally in a slight boot-cut or classically tailored trouser leg). Denim cheesecake if ever there was!

{Sliming, sophisticated, versatile, dark, well cut, “bling-free” denim should be a staple in everyone’s wardrobe. I mean it, everyone’s!}


Sorry, nuh-ha, never-ever going to happen in a million years. Well, ok, probably never. What am I saying? Never. Period.

Drop crotch pants: Seriously, never. I would quite literally prefer to walk out the door in my knickers than wear these trouser monstrosities. I am appalled that they’re having an of-the-moment love fest in the world of fashion. IMO, anyone who wears these pants is doing so for the attention they’ll generate, not because they actually look presentable in them.

{Not even the pretty grey fabric and bow can save these “pants” from being a fashion train wreck. Tisk, tisk, tisk such a waste of a perfectly good piece of material.}

Anything with ridiculous amounts of unnecessary drapes/folds of fabric: I love Shar Peis, I really do, they’ve always been one of my favourite breeds of dogs, the thing is I don’t want the fabric I’m wearing to have as many folds as one of these precious pup’s faces. I’m always up for a little pleating, rouching or draping where it adds something to the item itself, but when the folds become the whole piece, I’d rather just wear a square sack (unless it’s the square sack dress at the bottom of this list, in which case, ok, hand off the built-in wrinkles).

{Even the adorable haircut and quirky headband on the model failed to rescue this outfit from looking like a crumpled Kleenex.}

Jumpers/jumpsuits: There were certain wardrobe elements of the 80s that I secretly wished would remain buried in the past. Yet like fashion zombies many such items of clothing have freakishly reappeared this year (think acid wash jeans, massively exaggerated shoulders, neons, slap bracelets, over-sized, off the shoulder sweaters; bike shorts – or as I like to call these pieces, six more items I’d never wear!). Rising from the wardrobe dead in full force are jumpers (aka, jumpsuits or rompers). I think part of the reason I’m not wild about the adult onsie look, is because you (often) need rather long legs to pull this style off with any degree of success. Lacking lengthy gams, I end up looking like more like a 24 year old auditioning for an Osh-Kosh commercial, than a worldly woman of fashionable style.

{The words “silk” and “Victoria’s Secret” is usually a winning combination, yet not even a lux fabric and great label could pull off a jumper that I’d ever even consider wearing around the house, while home alone, with the curtains drawn and all the lights turned off.}

Gladiator sandals/heels: Like a plague of locus, footwear inspired by blood-thirsty Roman fighters seems to have ascended in great numbers upon the pages of almost every fashion mag in town. While I do think that on some women the plethora of buckles, straps and other bondage gear-like parts these shoes posses looks nice, on someone like myself who is immensely allergic to nickel (and thus has to avoid any form of metal most of the time on shoes), the thought of twelve buckles or rows of studs is enough to wake me up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night.

{If your shoes require you to schedule a block of time from your day to put them on, it may be time for footwear that didn't come from an era of unfathomable human (and animal) bloodsport.}

Kindergarten Teacher dresses: I’m not sure if there’s an exact name for the type of dress I’m talking about here, but just about anyone who went to school (or had kids of an elementary school age) in the 90s (and in some parts of the world, to this day) will know what I mean just by looking at the picture below (note, teachers are not by any means the only women I’ve seen wearing these dresses, for a while they were quite common amongst librarians, too).

This style of consists of a long, shapeless, drab, often pale denim (or part denim, part other fabric), often v-neck (or vest style top) dress that, depending on the top half of the frock, can be worn as its own pillow case like garment or put atop a blouse/t-shirt. Often the wearing of such dresses makes one look like they’re decked out in 80s or 90s maternity wear, even if they’ve got a terrific figure. On What Not To Wear, they’ve sometimes referred to frocks that are cut like this as the “I’ve given up dress”. I couldn’t agree more, they are the antithesis of all I hold sacred and dear when it comes to sporting a dress.

{Why? Just plain why? I feel like saying, “Call now and for just $26 a month you can sponsor this poor, helpless to dress lead a fulfilling life as a potato sack, slip cover, or small tarp. Your caring donation could change the life of this dress by turning it into something people might actually want”.}

That’s my list, I could add many others to both categories, but you’ve heard enough about my always/nevers. I’m admittedly quite shy when it comes to tagging fellow bloggers to continue memes onward, so instead I’ll openly invite one and all to create your own list of fives! Be sure to let me know if you do, I’d love to read yours!


Here is the first always/never post and four others that I’ve since encountered.

* The post that started it all on Dear Golden.

* Thrift candy

* Mon Petit Fantome

* Clever Nettle

* Vintage Found


  1. Hey Jess..
    i just love reading these blogs! your posts have alot of personality and such great flow, they are so enjoyable to read!
    I couldnt help but let out a little smile at the shar-pei comparisson!
    I guesss i would be on your worst dressed list though, because ever since i got to Australia ive really wanted a pair of those gladiator sandals!! but i completely agree with all the other numbers on your list!
    I would have to say my 5 yays and my 5 nays would be..
    1. Dark Denim 2. Black tanktops(i think its about a 20/1 ratio in my closet to other colors) 3. Flats(I have the same problem with wide feet, its probably genetic, maybe its the russian heritage? it just seems like it would be a russian trait to have wide gorilla like feet) 4. Solid coloured summer dresses, they were so perfect for wearing on the patio at work, my closet seems to be full of them. 5.well i cant really think of a 5th item of clothing that no matter what i can always rely on.. but does my hair straightener count!? even in my small backpack i still managed to fit it in there. My hair has such a mind of its own, and my little straightnere seems to be the only thing that can put it in its place. I do hate the damage it does to my hair, but i really dont think i could live without one.
    But if # 5 did have to be clothing.. it would be a tie between.. American apparel black tights & lulu lemon yoga pants.

    hmm alright now 5 things i wouldnt be caught dead in...
    1. Parachute Pants.. i went in a store today and noticed a whole wall.. I am hoping that is a style that will stay in the land down under and not follow me home.
    2. okay, so im not exactly sure what they are called but they are really tight at the top and fit tight around the but then they are really loose after that point.. there usually cotton, and then they stop around the knee and flair out really far. you can usually find them in most enviromentally friendly clothing stores. I think they look absolutely ridiculous on me, and also make my but look about 10X bigger then it actually is. ( i hope you have the slightest clue what im talking about and i dont sound completely nuts!! )
    3. i think i would have to agree with you and go with one piece jumpers/ jumpsuits. They are tragic.
    4. Really anything with way to many rhinestones, patterns, buckles, gems, buttons, you name it. I find when i choose clothing that i like it to look like im wearing it and not that it has decided to wear me. I find things like that end up being way too busy on me. Id rather someone didnt get fixated on trying to figure out what is all over my shirt instead of actually getting a chance to notice my body shape and face.
    5. Fanny packs! i dont care how worried you are that your things may get stollen. After about an hour long argument with Ty's grandpa about the importance of getting one before we went backpacking, Tyler brother decided to buy us a very stylish purple fanny pack for our travels as a big inside joke. Tylers grandpa not realizing that he was completely making fun of him! continued to tell us their importance.
    they would just simply, never in a million years be caught dead on me.

  2. LOL!! i thoroughly enjoyed reading your always and never wear items. i was laughing so much, MrRedLips called from across the apartment "what's so funny?" lol!

    here are my favorite parts..

    "Drop crotch pants: Seriously, never. I would quite literally prefer to walk out the door in my knickers than wear these trouser monstrosities."

    "I love Shar Peis, I really do, they’ve always been one of my favourite breeds of dogs, the thing is I don’t want the fabric I’m wearing to have as many folds as one of these precious pup’s faces."

    "Lacking lengthy gams, I end up looking like more like a 24 years auditioning for an Osh-Kosh commercial, than a worldly woman of fashionable style."

    "the thought of twelve buckles or rows of studs is enough to wake me up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night."

    "On What Not To Wear, they’ve sometimes referred to frocks that are cut like this as the “I’ve given up dress”."

    LOL, YOU ARE TOO FUNNY MY DEAR! thank you for making me laugh so hard over here! and p.s.- i couldn't agree more with all of your always and nevers.

  3. @ anonymous (lol, who is anything but to me :D), thank you so, so much for your absolutely awesome comment! I felt like I was reading a terrific fashion blog post (have you ever thought of starting up your own fashion blog, sweetie? I think you've got a real knack for writing on this subject).

    You could never, ever get on my worst dressed list no matter what you wore! You've got such great (long) legs, I bet you'd look like a million bucks in gladiator sandals. I don't loath them on others, it's really just that with all the metal involved, my poor nickel-sensitive skin wants to go into a witness protection program just thinking about wearing them ;)

    I love your list of always and nevers! Black features a lot in my wardrobe too, but I really have been trying to inject more colour into my closet this year and now have cute little cardigans in a rainbow of hues. I love flats too, but find that sometimes even those can be tricky because my feet aren't the same size (eeer!). Usually when I find a pair of flats that does work, I wear them until they are quite literally splitting at the seams. I'm not sure if our Russian heritage could be to blame for wide soles, or if it's just a genetic trait that you and I share. A hair straightener can definitely count! In some of of the other always/never posts I've read, people talked about haircuts and make-up, so you can definitely include a styling tool in your list.

    I'm with you 100% on your nevers! In fact, had there been a sixth spot, I would have done it about fanny packs! Aren't they atrocious for everyday wear? (As opposed to hiking up Mount Everest, I mean.) I can't believe that they've almost resurfaced a few times over the past couple of seasons. Can nothing hideous from the 80s/early 90s (think Saved by the Bell era) remain dead and buried? ;D

    Thank you again, soooooo much for your awesome comment, my dearest girl, I can't begin to tell you how amazing it was and how happy I felt to see a comment from you here!!!

    Love and hugs forever,
    ♥ Jessica

  4. @ MissRedLips,

    Aren't you just too kind for words, quoting sections of my post like that! Thank you very much, honey, I'm absolutely delighted to know that I brought so much laughter and enjoyment into your day.

    I love to write with a humourous/good natured hint of sarcasm, but don't always have an outlet to do so. Fun post like this are just the ticket to let my inner stand-up comedian out :)

    You're the best, sweetums, thank you again! (Are you going to write your own list? I'd be so excited to read it!!!)

    Oodles upon oodles of hugs & happy Solstice and summer wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

  5. heehee that a fun read i love your writing style :)

  6. I love your posts so much, this one had me cracking up for the longest time, your nevers are the best freaking thing I have read in along time! ♥

  7. @ Elena, thank you very much, my dear friend that really means a lot to me.

    Big hugs!!!
    ♥ Jessica

  8. those saggy crotch pants are the grossest thing I have ever seen.
    and yes, I know that is not a word... but EW!

  9. Yeah, have to say those dropped crotch pants are bad, were they ever in style?? Love your blog and love this post. The first skirt is my favorite. I'm a little to wide for full skirts, but I love them.

  10. @ Atomic Mama, I absolutely agree! While blog browsing this morning I spotted an even more hideous photo (if that's humanly possible) showing two pairs of patchwork drop crotch pants - brace yourself ;D http://foreveramber.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341c873353ef011570a49a63970b-800wi

    @ Tracey, you know, I can definitely remember when Hammer/parachute pants were in vogue (try as I may to block that period in fashion history out), but drop crotch pants seem to be a new breed of trouser nightmare unto itself.

    Thank you very much for your kind words! I think that full skirts can look awesome on most women, even if you've got wider hips/lots of curves. (Pick styles that hug more closely through the waist and hips and then flare out at the bottom.)

    Thank you both for your great comments, lovely ladies. Wishing you both a gorgeous day!
    ♥ Jessica

  11. LMAO! I especially love reading people's "Nevers", but your metaphors are the best! Fashion zombies, shar-peis, plagues of locusts... I 100% agree on all counts! Though... I wish my calves were slimmer so I could wear tall boots. :(

  12. Thank you, Diana. I must admit, I had an absolute blast writing this post! I'll have to do another similar one some day so that I can whip out my inner fashion comedian again :D

    I wasn't born blessed with Twiggy calves either, but I have found that if you really shop around, not all boots are cut the same size and there are usually a few - especially stretchy leather/pleathor ones - that work well). I think gals with curvy legs looks stunning in tall boots, so please don't give up the hunt! (Try Googling for "wide calf boots", it's a jumping off point for online boot searches.)

    Thank you very much for your comment, sweetie! Have a gorgeous day!
    ♥ Jessica

  13. Great post!, ... thanks for the smiles!

    I'm all withyou on full skirts, Adore them!

    And dearly wish I could find more boots, I think with horrid cold winters here abouts fashion boots aren't thick on the ground around here which is a bug. One tip though, you mention shopping for wider calves (in your comments) the riding (particularly English horseback riding) boots you reference do actually come in different calf widths. That said I really cannot regard my full length riding boots as a fashion choice.

    And on the subject of feet the opposite of yours aren't easy either! Truly narrow feet are a pain! I've lived life with double A feet that have triple A heels and lots of shoes (especially strappy ones) just hang or fall off. Most boots slide around, and pumps act like flip-flops. There is a whole other list of challenges to finding shoes that fit narrow feet. (My Mother on the other hand has wide ones, so I've experienced both sides of the spectrum. While my Dad and I have almost a half size difference between our left and right feet, so know how you feel there! Now he is a thirteen double A, talk about fun fittings!)

    I don't disagree with any of your picks, and whole heartedly agree with most.

    Thanks again for sharing them,
    Grey Dove

    1. Hello Grey Dove, thank you very much for commenting on this post. My word, it's hard to believe that we're just a month short of six years since I penned it. Nothing on this list has changed for me since.

      So true! There's a lot of money to be made in a brand that made fashionable boots with thicker, winter appropriate soles (and a soft, warm lining, too, ideally). Thank you for the tip about wider calves. I don't wear many modern style fashion boots these days. The one pair I've had for nearly a decade are still going strong, but I would dearly love some equestrian style boots - especially if they were a warm, honeyed brown colour.

      I can fully imagine that have very narrow feet is an issue and am sorry that you can't just buy shoes at the drop of a hat either. Anytime an element of one's body veers from the standard norm, it's tricky in the fashion world. My issue with my feet is less width (they're a little wide, but not substantially so), and more that I have oddly high arches and slightly uneven sized feet (as many people do). If there was a width between regular and wide that was cut more roomy in the toe box, that would be my ideal size.

      Do you ever wear vintage shoes? There are a lot of 20s - 60s pairs to be had in very narrow widths that could work well for you, especially if you wear a size US/Canadian 7 or small.

      Thank you again for your comment. It's always a lot of fun to revisit older posts.

      ♥ Jessica

  14. Dear Jessica,
    It is actually a little scary how many lovely things to where can be found in a good saddlery shop! Great shirts, fabulous hair clip/bows (especially for longer hair) and of course Gorgeous boots. I highly recommend a stop in to one if you are ever driving through horse country!

    No I can't say I've investigated the vintage shoe scene. I take a seven and a half and while I never went looking I haven't run across much in that size (usually TOO small, or to large). Most of my shoes now qualify as vintage. I did splash out and buy two pairs (one was a gift) in the last six years, but otherwise my youngest pair is eighteen, and I still have the pumps I bought for a cousin's wedding in 87. (Have the outfit too, and must admit I'm proud of being able to still wear both!) It is now an hour's drive away, but I've bought my shoes at Tony's Shoe Store on Green Avenue in Montreal since I was nine years old, and I will for as long as I can. They stock some lovely Italian brands and thankfully have all widths. (Believe they are online now too!) But I will start checking actively for older shoes, dear knows I love how they are described in books and owning a pair of shoes from the thirties or even fourties would thrill me!!!

    Thanks for the thoughts and helpful suggestions,
    Yours sincerely,
    Grey Dove