New Year, Old Tricks: Intentional Wardrobe

Casey of Dressed to Code layers up with the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in Birch White and the North Face stretch thermoball down alternative jacket, finished with Madewell 10" high rise skinny jeans in black and Hunter original refined rain boots in a matte black finish.
These staples from my intentional wardrobe are sticking around for 2017 and beyond.

Welcome to the second post in the mini-series I’ve decided to call New Year, Old Tricks. See the first installment here. The year 2016 was disproportionately awful, but there were some personal highlights worth keeping around. Today I’ll be talking about something that has come to be fundamental to the direction of this blog: the intentional wardrobe. I recognized that my free t-shirts and worn out jeans from college didn’t suit my new life or climate. I wanted to revamp my closet in a thoughtful, cohesive manner that would produce a wardrobe I felt great wearing. The latest addition to that intentional wardrobe is a member of my winter layers category: the “Better Sweater” from Patagonia.

Casey of Dressed to Code is cozy in black and white with the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in Birch White and Madewell 10" high rise skinny jeans in black and Hunter original refined rain boots in a matte black finish.
While it’s not black, this dappled grey fleece fits right into my color scheme.

Better Sweater or Fancier Fleece?

I’ve had my eye on this fleece jacket for a while, as it seems to be a Pacific Northwest staple. The “better sweater” comes in a variety of iterations, including a vest and 1/4 zip in both men’s and women’s fits. However, I was willing to pay more for the full zip jacket with front zip pockets. Because the Birch White color in a size XS wasn’t availible in stores, I ordered the jacket online from REI. (As you may have seen on my Instagram story, the jacket arrived with its security tag still on, but the store was able to take that off easily.)

Casey of Dressed to Code is cozy in black and white with the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in Birch White and Madewell 10" high rise skinny jeans in black and Hunter original refined rain boots in a matte black finish.
Here you can just see the pocket on the upper left arm.

The jacket is a thick polyester fleece with a woven-looking finish. There are three zip pockets: two in the usual positions on the front, and one on the upper left arm. The arm pocket is larger than it looks, and my entire card holder wallet fits inside with room to spare. I haven’t worn the jacket too much around Seattle, as my North Face Stretch Thermoball is usually plenty warm. However, I have room for this fleece under my thermoball as part of my layering recipe.

Casey of Dressed to Code is cozy in black and white with the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in Birch White and Madewell 10" high rise skinny jeans in black and Hunter original refined rain boots in a matte black finish.
Here’s the back of the jacket: fitted but not too tight.
Casey of Dressed to Code layers up with the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in Birch White and the North Face stretch thermoball down alternative jacket, finished with Madewell 10" high rise skinny jeans in black and Hunter original refined rain boots in a matte black finish.
It may be cold outside, but these layers are keeping me nice and toasty.

Layering Up

My layering recipe for tops is pretty straightforward: skin layer + fuzzy layer + fluffy layer + shell. Everything except that skin layer is optional depending on the weather. I wear anything from a light cotton t-shirt to a wool base layer against my skin, depending on conditions. However, a skin layer with even short sleeves will protect your jackets and leave them cleaner for longer. In other words, sleeveless tank tops expose your jackets to sweat and deodorant staining.

Wearing so many jackets can be annoying when you come inside and start melting. As an upside, you end up with enough pockets to often leave the purse at home. Nonetheless, the different pieces allow for a wider variety of options. You probably compile many of these options without even thinking about it. If it’s warm but rainy or windy, throw the shell on over your skin layer. If it’s cold but calm, the skin layer and fluffy layer might do the trick. A fuzzy layer over a skin layer is great when it’s chilly inside. The possibilities aren’t endless, but there are seven of them, not accounting for different skin layers.

I tend to use my Madewell Whisper Cotton Tees as skin layers, as they breathe well and are pretty thin. This Patagonia Better Sweater will serve as my fuzzy layer, and my fluffy layer is my North Face Stretch Thermoball jacket. While (shockingly) not in the black/grey color scheme of the other layers, I use my Marmot Gore-Tex jacket as my wind and waterproof shell.

Casey of Dressed to Code is cozy in black and white with the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in Birch White and Madewell 10" high rise skinny jeans in black and Hunter original refined rain boots in a matte black finish.
Black, white, and silver – an easy everyday combination from my overall intentional wardrobe color scheme.

Continuing On

The biggest reason why I’ll be continuing on with the intentional wardrobe process? It works. I needed to run out the door the other day and dressed in two minutes. The result? A better outfit than I might have put together in half an hour before starting this project. (I don’t think I’ve been clear enough that I haven’t exactly been a fantastic dresser my entire life. So if you’re seeing all these bloggers and thinking you’d never be able to do that, you can.)

The simple act of getting dressed becomes easier when your closet is well stocked. Rather than having a lot of clothing, I focused on cohesive, quality items that fulfill the needs of my everyday life. I’m still adding pieces, but I’m happy* with the items I’ve selected so far. (*One or two pieces haven’t quite lived up to my expectations, but that wasn’t foreseeable.)

Furthermore, the coordinated closet makes travel packing a breeze! Stay tuned on Instagram stories for updates from my upcoming trip.

 

What works for you when it comes to shopping selectively?

Keep in your life that which brings you joy.

-Casey

Get Rainy Day Ready

Marmot minimalist rain coat with jeans and Hunter Original Refined rain boots.
This rain-ready look is going to be a staple for fall in Seattle.

I’ll plead that I recently moved from drought-plagued Southern California to the Pacific Northwest. Nonetheless, I’m embarrassed to admit that my lightweight raincoat, while still waterproof, was starting to come unraveled at the seams. While I’m fine with weather as long as I’m warm and dry, a quality raincoat was high on my list of necessities.

I’d been halfheartedly looking around for a coat to keep me dry during the rainy season in my new city. Luckily, the REI Labor Day sale ended up being the perfect opportunity to find one before the rain moved in. With the assistance of one incredibly friendly member of the staff, I think I tried on every model of women’s raincoat in the huge (and beautiful) REI flagship store.

Raincoat

The winner is, (drum roll please!) … this Marmot Women’s Minimalist Rain Coat ($60 off through September 5 at REI!). At first try, the coat felt a touch large. However, by tightening the hidden elastic cord in the waist, I was able to create a more snug fit and narrow the look of the body. The sleeves are significantly narrower than many of the other styles I tried on, and can be tightened at the wrist.

The hood is just the right size for my smaller head. Unfortunately, it does not zip or roll away, a common feature in men’s coats. I have plenty of room for a hat or ponytail, but it isn’t a massive hood that comes down over my eyes (I should have snapped a pic of that one for you to see — comical!). Because it is Gore-tex, the raincoat does crinkle somewhat as you move. Nonetheless, I like the matte finish over the shinier look of my old coat.

Because I have such a neutral wardrobe, I can add a pop of color in my raincoat to add a little cheer on a cloudy, rainy day. I fell in love with this deep teal color, which looks greener in warmer lighting than in these photos. I also appreciate that the lining is a dark grey that will stay nicer looking than a lighter color. All in all, there are nine colors for you to choose from, including classic black and a bold royal blue. Branding on the jacket includes the name Marmot on the left breast, Gore-tex on the left forearm, and the Marmot logo on the back. The branding elements are more apparent on some colors than others.

This Marmot Women's Minimalist Rain Jacket in Deep Teal features a dark grey interior.
Don’t forget to check the fit of your hood. When the rain hits, you want it to be large enough to cover your head but not so large as to obscure your view or blow right off.

Overall, I would have loved to see Marmot roll out an XXS size and a zip-in collar (minimalist or not!). That said, I have enough room underneath this coat for a thick sweater or my perennial staple, a black North Face fleece. (It looks like some colors are as low as $27; I just wish that gorgeous green didn’t have a hot pink logo!) All in all, I’m happy to have found a Gore-tex option in such a great color and on sale, no less!

Jeans

I told you that you’d be seeing these again! These jeans are my Madewell Quincy wash 8″ skinny jeans, which I showed you in my very first post!

Rain Boots

I had a pair of leather riding boots that I loved and wore into the ground (4+ years and 3 soles later, the top finally wore through). In my (ongoing) quest to find a new pair of riding boots, I tried on these Hunter Original Refined Rain Boots at Nordstrom’s annual sale (then $129, now back up to $195). The boots come in half sizes only, but the incredibly helpful salesperson (shout out to Jackie in the shoe department at Nordstrom Seattle!) told me they ran a little large, so I sized down to a 6. These are only my second pair of rain boots ever!

I love that ‘refined’ look of the matte black finish and black-and-navy cinching strap in the back. That red and white Hunter logo is, of course, present in the front.

Dark wash jeans and Hunter Original Refined Rain Boots in black.
These Hunter Original Refined Rain Boots might be too tall for petites with shorter tibias.

Side note: the Hunter boots’ box is great-looking and has a red ribbon handle to carry it! I appreciate well-designed packaging.

If you’re a petite, these boots may be too tall. On me, the top of the boot hits just below my knee in the front. This gives me that long-and-lean look I love in a tall boot. That said, they could not hit even half an inch higher without hitting my knee. As you might guess, rubber is not an over-the-knee material! If you do have a longer tibia but find that boots often gap around the calf, these would probably fit well! They are narrower than many boots, especially rain boots, and are comfortably snug (in jeans) to my calf.

I have one complaint about these boots. While they are very easy to get on, I have to be a contortionist to get them off! This usually means asking very nicely for my SO to give me a hand. This probably wouldn’t be as much of an issue if you were on the smaller end of your size. However, in thick socks, my Hunters are a perfect fit.

If you’re looking for a pair of boot-friendly socks, I have multiple pairs of the REI Muted Stripe Knee Socks in both the dark and light grey options. These merino wool socks feature a thicker cushion around the foot to keep your toes comfortable (and aren’t itchy!).

As I wrap up this post, it is just starting to sprinkle outside my window. With this Marmot rain jacket and Hunter rain boots, I feel far more ready to take on fall in Seattle!

May your feet stay warm and dry!

– Casey