A Frivolous Post About Clothes

I love my hairdresser; I will call her M. It took me many years, but I finally found someone who I feel comfortable with and who I trust completely with my hair. But this post isn’t about hair, though I have been mulling a hair post for a while. This post is about clothes.

I intensely dislike shopping for clothes, and I am also terrible at it. I never have enough time or inclination to shop endlessly, and I think this is what it takes to put together a decent wardrobe. You see, I never feel like I have a well put-together set of clothes. I have certain pieces that I like, but I have never managed to gather a set of mix and match items that you can dress up or dress down as the need may be. I don’t need to be too dressy at work most days, but I like to have a simple yet classic look. It seems so hard to find.

My hairdresser, M, always looks fabulous. She is a good shopper and it shows. We were talking about clothes at a recent appointment, and she sat down with me while my hair was re-discovering its original colour. She helped me put together a list of basics that I could shop for, and she also listed out the types of clothes by the stores that I should start with.

Starting at Banana Republic:

Start with a white shirt: At a recent sale weekend, I picked up a boyfriend white shirt. I like it, but now I think it may be too casual. It looks nice with dressy jeans, but maybe not under a suit or with dress pants….hmm.

Skirt and skirt suit: I didn’t find anything at BR the weekend that I went, but things were a mess there because there was a big weekend sale on. I will try to go back to the Rideau Centre location (I was at Bayshore), where I think they cater to the work crowd just a bit more. For tops, I did find a nice mauve tank at BR that looks nice under a black sweater.

Moving on to Mexx:

I found a light weight grey suit with pants at Mexx which was $100 off. Sold. There was also a skirt option, but the skirt didn’t really fit me properly. Now I just need to find a blouse to wear with it. Maybe back to Banana to get one of their tailored shirts?

I also found this very cool red/purple drapey sweater that I just love. It also came in grey and black and I would have loved to get all three, but the style is so distinctive that I thought it would look like I was always wearing the same sweater. This sweater is dressy enough that it could replace a suit if worn with a nice blouse and dress pants.


I haven’t been yet, but M thought this would be a good place to find a versatile sundress as well as some dressy capris, and maybe some tops.


Green Tree Eco Fashions in Westboro was her first choice for jeans, with Reitman’s being another option. I went into Green Tree a couple of weeks ago and just loved it there. The owner is very adept at picking out things that would suit your size and shape, and she was busy that day helping a number of us all at the same time. She only currently carries skinny jeans, which was not a style that I would have ever considered for myself, but these stretchy yoga skinny jeans were so incredibly comfortable, that she managed to convince me to buy them. Plus then I had to buy the tunic style shirt that these jeans were just crying out for. I chose a casual berry coloured tunic, but when I wore this combo to work one Friday, I actually felt a bit uncomfortable. I love the outfit, but I think it may be more for the barbecue set rather than the work set.

At Green Tree I also picked out a sweet navy skirt with light blue flowers. There was nothing really in the store to wear it with, so now I have to find something cute and white. Suggestions?

I did go into Reitman’s too for jeans, but the styles there weren’t quite working for me. I also tried Joe jeans at the Superstore, but they didn’t have my size that day, and I also tried every style that they have at The Gap with no luck. I would still like a pair of dark and dressy boot cut jeans that would wear to work a bit better than these oh so comfy yoga jeans that I just happen to be wearing as I type this.

Lastly, shoes. M recommended I pick up some new black summer sandals at Glebe Trotters. She isn’t the first person to mention this store to me and so I think I will have to go pay it a visit.

This of course does not all come cheap. I find the expense of clothing for a family of four to be incredibly high, and often I just don’t buy much for myself because of the cost. But I do feel clothes are important to make you feel good about yourself. I have gone back and forth about whether it is better to buy fewer higher quality items, or whether to get more reasonably priced clothes that never seem to wear well for long. I still struggle with which is better. I think if I shopped more frequently, I could find the discounted things that end up lasting, but when I only go once or twice a year, and I get tired and cranky after three stores, I tend to think I should spend a bit more and get something great.

Well look at me, I thought this would be a very short post. I never thought I would write this much about clothes. And I haven’t even started on accessories, which is a good thing because after all of that clothes shopping, there is no way my head can handle trying to figure out those things too.

I would love to hear your best shopping tips.

About Finola

I am an Ottawa area Mom, writer-want-to-be and coffee legend in the making.
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11 Responses to A Frivolous Post About Clothes

  1. I was nodding at your post. I rarely shop, especially not for myself and I'm not exactly what you'd call fashionable. I would like to update my wardrobe but find it overwhelming to go into Montreal because I never know where to start. Your list has given me a starting point – now all I need is to find the time – the drawback to living an hour away from everywhere.

  2. XUP says:

    I love Glebe Trotters, too. Other than that I do all my clothes shopping at thrift stores…mostly..sometimes Winners. I hate spending money on clothes because I get tired of them so fast. If I spend $100 on a skirt I'll feel obligated to wear it for years. I might visit Green Tree though – that sounds interesting. (PS: Do I have your email address? We're having an Ottawa Blogger Breakfast in a couple of weeks and it would be great if you could come. Send me your email? urbanpedestrian@gmail.com)

  3. Finola says:

    Denise, It is overwhelming isn't it. Good luck shopping. I hope you will enjoy it more than I will.

    Xup, I used to get a lot of things at consignment too. I once got a pair of brand new jeans with the tags still on them for $7. I just don't have the patience to sort through it all anymore.
    And thanks about the blogger breakfast…I will drop you a line for sure 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is from “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”.

  5. gryph says:

    Sounds like a good list. I also tend to go to Jacob (although they're hit and miss – it all depends on the season). Most of my dress slacks are from Jacob and a lot of my work sweaters are too. I like my Gap jeans, but I think it's because I'm the right shape for them.

    Hm, I just really dislike shopping, partly because of spending money, partly because of the shopping. 😉

  6. Liisa says:

    Warning, this may be a long comment because I love shopping and I love clothes, and I'm not afraid to say it!

    1. Comfort Zone: Your outfit from Green Tree was probably perfect for casual Friday but it was out of your comfort zone. Stay with it!

    2. Department Stores: The Bay! Look for Esprit, Mexx, Nine West, Kensie, among other brands. They're all in one place and there are always great sales. The Bay at the Rideau Centre has a better selection than Bayshore. AND, Brown's at the Bay has the best shoe selection in the city.

    3. Boutiques: Consider, as you did with Green Tree, shopping at boutiques. Red Velvet has good work options. You may pay a few dollars more, but the quality is worth it and the staff is much better trained and more knowledgeable. I have pieces from nicer boutiques (we're not talking Holt Renfrew or anything) from 10 years ago that I still love, not so much my stuff from Jacob or Tristan. I would stick to those places for tees and basics that you wear often and have to replace often.

    4. Knits: I find shirts and blouses are okay for work, but they always require ironing after only one wear and I just don't iron. Aim for dressy knits that can be hung in the shower to be refreshed easily.

    5. Shoe store: Solea on Carling also has a nice selection of “ergonomic” sandals mixed in with the orthopaedic shoes

    Now I feel the need to shop. Too bad I'm at work.

  7. Finola says:

    Jennifer, I don't usually have much luck at Jacob but maybe I should try again. Last few times it seemed like everything was made for an 11 year old girl.

    fit for a kid, I love your comments here and they are extremely helpful. I am thinking more and more that investing in the boutique clothes may end up being more economical in the long run, with the longer wear, and with actually liking the clothes a bit more. Thanks!

  8. When I was younger, I LOVED shopping. It was so fun! Now? I can't stand it. Ugh.

    But I do need work clothes, so it's unavoidable. This is what I do for the work clothes.
    (1) I only go to one or two stores that I have a good track record with — I just can't be bothered to shop around and see what is in every store. Like Fit for a Kid, I like The Bay too.
    (2) I do all my clothes shopping for a season over a one or two day period. Then it's done. I don't bother going shopping again.It seems expensive at the time, but in the end I think it saves money from avoiding stores most of the year.
    (3) I never buy just one item at a time. I refuse to leave the store unless I have an “outfit.” I don't want to have to shop around to find something to match with something else. Preferably, I can get a few outfits from one company's line of clothing that interchanges and matches with each other (you know, like Gymboree for kids does!).
    (4) I pick one base colour. So for example, I use black as a base, as opposed to navy. This means that all my shoes, accesories, handbags etc all mix and match. Just like you never wear black and navy together, same thing for summer colours of cream and white. I just pick one and go with it.

    Maybe some of this might be helpful for you too? (Although that Green Tree store sounds awesome and I do need weekend clothes!)

  9. Finola says:

    Julie, Thanks, I love your tips. I think you are right that it saves money to buy everything at once….It just takes being in a shopping frame of mind to do so 🙂

  10. Anonymous says:

    Found all the comments interesting – ever considered driving across the border!! it is less than a 2 hr drive and well worth it.
    I usually buy clothes for my family at the end of each season.
    Happy shopping.

  11. Chester says:

    Awesome! Its in fact awesome piece of writing, I have got much clear idea
    on the topic of from this post.

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