Gearing up for the winter blues


1. From top to bottom: A.P.C. pinafore dress, A.P.C. Liquette dress, Y.M.C. Peter Pan shirt, A.P.C. Oxford shirt, OLO Nationale 6/7; 2. A.P.C. Suede Ankle Boots; 3. Primoeza cabin sweater from Anaise

The missing-in-action routine is becoming a norm for me. My deepest apologies for disappearing for weeks on end, I've been uninspired of late to blog and also recently succumbed to some idiotic injury involving klutziness, the stairs, the emergency room and three stitches across the brow. I'm fine now, if you're wondering, albeit with an ugly red scar, a bruised ego and a hospital bill that stretches into the hundreds.

Anyway, now that the weather has taken a turn for the worse, I find myself constantly schlepping around in dorky clothing - an oversized parka, sweaters, thick socks, a really ugly hat and gloves. My tendency to feel blue during the winter means that I've been consoling myself with mindless and sometimes dumb purchases. I've been indulging in the awesome sales that began over Thanksgiving. On Net-A-Porter, I procured several A.P.C. pieces including the ubiquitous oxford shirt, a shirtdress and a corduroy pinafore. I'm not usually one for girly outfits, but there's just something about a button down, a pull-on dress and wooly tights that makes me all fuzzy inside. As proof of how I'm starting to embrace a wee bit of my feminine side, I picked up a bottle of OLO Fragrance's Nationale 6/7 at the Open-for-Business pop-up in Portland. I'm not really a fan of perfumes, but the gentle whiff of sandalwood, jasmine and lemon coming from a dab of Nationale 6/7 behind the ears is calming and sensual all at once. I think a combination of the fragrance, good oolong tea and a full spectrum light is helping me get through the cold.

In a sudden onset of madness, I plonked down quite a few dollars (and by that I mean quite a lot) for a pair of Isabel Marant Dixies. I've worn them approximately 3 times, and they seem to stretch out every time I put them on. The heels are also not as comfortable as I envision them and I've been hopping around for weeks like a crazy person, debating if I should sell them or just put in a pair of insoles. For some reason, I find that the length of the shaft hits me (edit: I didn't realize how obscene this sounds) at a very odd height such that it makes my legs look like dead tree trunks. As you can imagine, I've been both upset and annoyed at this wasteful predicament. In fact, I've been so upset and annoyed that I went right out and bought the seasonless A.P.C. suede ankle boots. Don't ask me why - I just felt like I had to buy them and boy am I glad I did! It's probably the most comfortable ankle boots I've ever worn, barring my Hope Chys. Why no one makes a bigger deal about these shoes is beyond me. It has the right shaft height and a wonderfully sturdy construction with just enough heel height and width to walk around in all day. Once again, I find myself caught up in the Isabel  Marant hype and being disappointed.

I realize that I may sound like a hypocrite after this last post about shopping more locally and ethically and having left a comment on Lin's blog about A.P.C. My closet is now almost half-filled with A.P.C. pieces - they seem make the best basics with just the right amount of classiness that I can't seem to find elsewhere. While I am trying to slowly veer most of my purchases towards small-batch, handmade goods such as the alpaca sweaters crafted by the superb Elizabeth of Primoeza, it's proving to be a slow and difficult process. As the year comes to close though, and I look back on my purchases and shopping habits, I think that I've always known that sustainable fashion isn't only about the brands you buy, it's about shopping only as you need with a strong focus on garment longevity and wearability.

How are you gearing up for winter (or the end of the year) and do you have any New Year resolutions for your style philosophy?


  1. Oh no, has it already started raining over there? Sorry you're unhappy with the Dixies, though I am glad that you found another pair of boots that work better! I'm feeling slightly hypocritical too after leaving a similar comment on Lin's blog and realizing that I wear at least one piece of A.P.C. almost every day. Sigh. The company makes good clothes.

    As for gearing up for winter...I'm trying to buy less and have, to a certain extent, been successful. But, right now, I have my eyes set on a pair of Rachel Comey Mars boots (the black combo) and am trying to resist the urge to pull out my credit card.

  2. @jennifer It's always raining here, LOL. It's surprisingly been sunny and dreadfully cold over the last few days though. I think the Dickers may look a little better than the Dixies just based on what I've read, but at $615 I won't be willing to give a try. Not sure what size you are, but if you hold out for a bit, the Rachel Comey shoes at Saks always goes on sale. BTW I was walking by Reed College the other day and thought of you!

  3. Oh, Reed...What a beautiful campus! I hope you had a good trip to Portland! The Dickers are nice, but they are super expensive. I do wish that the shaft was a tad shorter, because they tend to make my legs look a little tree stumpish. Sadly, Saks seems to have sold out of the Mars in my size. They seem to be sold out almost everywhere, actually. I hope that's in indication of how great they are. :)

  4. i scooped up an apc crewneck sweater in ochre that i'm kind of dithering about. made in china, lambswool that i suspect will pill sooner rather than later. is 50% off enough incentive to keep it? my value system is so off when it comes to this label b/c the basics it makes are amazing, but i think the quality has gone down over the years.

    i LOVE the boots, btw!

  5. You got some really good sale buys! I have that same A.P.C shirt and the summer version of the boots. Even though I bought them on full price, I think they are worth it in terms if quality. I'm hesitant about A.P.C knits though, which always seem to pill quickly. I think as a brand, you really have to know whats worth it and what isn't.

  6. oy, glad you're recooping from the injury! winter has suddenly arrived in SH and i'm hunkering down too. the post-thanksgiving sales this year seem much better for the first time in a long while...there were some deals one couldn't refuse on NAP and other sites.

    i get quite a few of my everyday items like buttondowns and whatnot from Steven Alan, and having read interviews with SA himself i think he and his company are both quite likeable. SA makes all of their buttondowns in the USA and the quality has been superb since i first discovered their reverse seam shirts a few years ago. i had no idea APC makes stuff in China now. you should always buy the best you can for the price, though...

  7. I am glad you are recovering from the fall! Your APC boots do sound great - that said, I have stopped buying from APC, because the quality of their fabric just doesn't stand up to scrutiny in my opinion. Still own two breton tees and a pair of shorts which I wear often, since they fit so well and haven't fallen apart yet. I think how and why you shop are totally personal choices - and if APC makes you happy then go for it!

  8. Ouch! Still, maybe the scar will add a touch of mystery to your look. Okay maybe I 've watched too many violent gangster movies.

    I have a shirt in the same print as your APC dress! I love it, albeit with a tinge of regret haha. I bought the men's version because it fitted me better.

    It's a shame about the Isabel Marant boots, and I have done the same thing before - go buy something else fantastic to make up for a disappointing buy, to the detriment of my wallet. I've decided to not buy shoes over the Internet for this reason - eyeing them up is just not the same as trying them on. I'm sure you'll be able to find your Marant boots a new home - they're so popular.

    I think there is no perfect shopping decision - we constantly have to prioritise one factor over another, and like you said, sometimes sustainability gets moved down a notch in favour of buying something you know you'll wear happily and often and won't go to waste.

  9. Amazing purchases! I'm feeling a wee bit envious right now... especially over those boots! I've got these DV Jamisons that I snatched up in lieu of shelling out the big bucks on IM dickers, and I'm madly in love with them:

    They're amazingly comfortable and holding up well, but I do have to admit I'm craving a darker pair of ankle boots now too. Maybe those apc ones are exactly what I need...

  10. @joyce
    I bought the grey version of the sweater at full price because I couldn't find one exactly like it and I liked the fit, so I think 50% is a good deal. Seems to be holding up well after 4 months of solid wear. Quality of a lot of their things have definitely gone down though, a stripey shirt I bought just last year looks like I've used it as a rag for the past five. :-/

    Oh the shirt and boots are by far the best things APC has put out. I bought the boots at full price too and have no regrets. I have the crewneck sweater in grey from fall and it's holding up well so far (fingers crossed). I've bought way more expensive sweaters and they seem to pill rather quickly too, I wonder if it's just the norm these days.

    @miss sophie
    I was just thinking there are more stores this year offering Black Friday Deals than before. Must be the terrible state of the economy. I'm still waiting for SA to have their winter sales so I can use my Refinery29 coupon. I've bought so many shirts over the last year though, so I'm not exactly sure what I'll b getting from SA (LOL). I think you'll be hard pressed to find a brand that doesn't make at least one item in their line in China.

  11. @Ammu
    I'm really torn about APC, they just seem to make things that are aesthetically pleasing to me! You are right though, their quality has gone downhill severely over the last few years. Surprisingly though, the garment from the fall/winter season seem to be much better made. Their Madras line on the other hand...

    Can I venture a guess? Drive? Haha!

    I remember your shirt distinctly! When I added the dress to cart, I was thinking: Oh, Out of the Bag has exactly the same fabric in a shirt.

    I guess the lack of wastefulness is a form of sustainability after all. At least that's a consoling idea.

    @Nomadic D.
    I see those DV Jamisons everywhere. Are they really comfortable? I may need to try them on at some point =) Thanks for the suggestion.

  12. Great sale buys! I've always had such great experience with the quality of A.P.C, especially their boots and coats, maybe I've just picked up the good stuff? I have the crew neck sweater too, and so far there's no pilling. I'm so sorry about the Dixies, I love mine! I actually had the A.P.C boots (got them at 70% off), and they didn't work for me at all, I had blisters all over my feet so I finally gave up and sold them. I find Marant boots so much softer. We probably have very different feet, haha! I also read Lin's A.P.C post, and always feel bad about wearing it now, but they do make the best basics.

  13. Oh no, I'm glad you're okay! I think as far as your IM boots are concerned, I find that (unfortunately) the quality of a brand varies greatly depending on what you buy. For example, I would consider buying many things from Gap to be a waste of money but I have a jacket and a pair of corduroys from them that have lasted me years and are still in great condition. The trick when shopping is finding your truly reliable brands/designers and know which pieces are going to be worth your money.

    Also, this winter I plan on paring down my wardrobe during the holiday break and filling in some gaps that I've been glossing over for quite some time.

  14. Hello, this is Eileen, first time leaving a comment on your blog:)

    Love the APC boots. I saw them on Michelle Williams too and it is a clear favourite of hers.

    Glad you posted a pic of those the mother of pearl buttons on yr APC dress! Cool!

  15. @Garderoben
    The APC shoes I got seem REALLY well made. I'm a little upset that the Dixies don't work for me especially since they looked so good on you. I wonder if it's just that the APC shoes are cut narrower? I have the IM and APC boots in 36 and I can tell that the IM is at least a thumb-width larger.

    I've so far tried IM shoes and some Etoile coats. The coats have been scratchy and terribly unflattering on me. Perhaps I'm not tall enough to carry IM with style. BTW I think The Gap used to be really dependable in terms of basics and quality, it's unfortunate the direction they've taken. And don't get me started on Banana Republic. I think you've given me an idea on my next post - perhaps something about how and why quality has deteriorated =)

    @justeileen Thanks for commenting, Eileen. I really appreciate it. Can I also confess that I've been eyeing the boots since I saw them on Michelle Williams in 2009?

  16. I'm sure I speak for many frustrated shoppers when I say I'd love to see that post on declining quality, Amanda.

  17. You know since I embarked on my sustainable mindful shopping and living diet (that was partially inspired by your post) i have become more aware of how complex the subject of sustainable shopping is. While I managed to avoid Zara & H&M I have found myself splurging on an investment type military coat from beck&bridge and a jumper from carin wester. The thing is buying good quality means spending more money than going into Zara and buying a jacket. Also there is the dilemma of living in Hong kong where small brands actually manufacture in china so even buying locally is a bit of a dilemma :) I am so with you on the suede boots situation. Bought a pair from Massimo Dutti and the cut is just wrong, my legs look like terrible tree trunks so don't know what to do with them. Was actually looking for the isabel marant ones so good you warned me against it. I find her clothes so overpriced sometimes given that they are all made in china but she does have fantastic designs.

  18. I think your bottom line re: sustainable fashion is so insightful, that the key is shopping only as you need. And I agree with you on the Hope boots, they are so comfortable and pretty much the only shoes I wear lately, and I'll continue to until my swollen ankles prevent me from doing so! Lovely purchases, I think the APC aesthetic really suits you.

  19. those boots and that knit are fantastic!!

  20. I know I'm a little (lot) late to the conversation but I wanted to say how much I love those boots and the jumper. Alas, the dress is long gone and the boots would probably be too narrow on my wide feet. I do have a problem with APC's sizing, however. As someone tall (5'10") with broad shoulders, a lot of their dresses, tops and button ups are too narrow in the back/shoulders for my body and the proportions seem wrong on my tall body. I wish it worked though as I covet items every year.

    I also agree with you about the poor quality/hype over so much Isabel Marant, but that's for another day.


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