Saturday, 12 January 2013

In The Navy

Here's a way to know it's well past time for a fresh post: since these photos were taken earlier in the month, I've already worn and photographed this sleeveless trench coat again. Back then, the temperature was -12C (10F) - note the red ears and frozen face -but today we're in the midst of a January thaw, going up to a balmy +12C (54F). 

scarf: gift, handmade by my aunt R. 
sleeveless trench coat: Cynthia Rowley, Marshall's, last worn here
black 3/4 sleeve scoop neck T: Zellers, 5+ years old
navy/beige plaid jersey skirt: Lapis, most likely my mother's, found in childhood bedroom closet (Hi, Mom! I'll put it back!)
boots: Gianni Bini, Dillard's, last worn here as well

I'm pleasantly surprised how much wear I'm getting out of this trench thingy. Just in the past year I've incorporated more of these sandy-taupe-beige colours. On the other hand, navy and I continue to have a much more complicated relationship. While the black t-shirt I have on is fine, I noticed I don't have a single thing in navy (or even dark brown) to better coordinate with this skirt. 

vintage amber necklace: a gift from my mother, last worn here

We've been through my thoughts on pink, but I've been narrowing my eyes and curling my lip at navy blue at least since age 13 when I "had my colours done" and was pronounced a totally grotty "summer." Gag-me-with-a-spoon, the whole bit. But why? What had a colour ever done to me? 

Ultra-conservative. Stuffy. Mean. Judgemental. Polyester pants, plastic pearls, orthopedic shoes, a rain bonnet and soggy Kleenex up the sleeve. Elbow-shiny blazer with brass anchor buttons, pinky ring on fleshy finger. Condescending. Derisive. False fronted. Self-important. Holier-than-thou. Mocking. Harsh. Power-poisoned. Like black, but sneakier. Ah. Not the colour, those bearing it. No wonder.

Even so, last summer I on-purpose ordered a navy dress from eShakti. True to navy-blue form, what ensued was a months-long, incredibly time-consuming, ridiculously terrible experience complete with abysmal customer service, eventually culminating in a 22-page .pdf document of all the emails including photos and additional measurements. And I never did end up with a wearable dress. 

What are your thoughts on navy blue? 
Do you have strong symbolic associations to certain colours? 

sunglasses: Ray Ban
winter coat: Pizazz, Winners, 5+ years old

Moving on from frustration but not entirely from the frigid blues, I quite like my not-navy winter coat. It serves me well with its functional sculpted-plush edging, lining, and hood, deep slightly-flared cuffs, room to layer seasonally-appropriate clothing beneath, and just enough shaping to not bunch up over clothes and under the seat belt. 

Though I barely had to wear it at all last year, and not much this year so far, there have been winters I've grown so weary of the thing despite all its good qualities that I still have to consciously shake off my whining. This picture, taken down the road from our house a few years ago, was during one of those: 

The fields used to flood and freeze smooth-enough much more often when I was a kid - going skating after school with my sister, which it seems to me we did all the time, was my favourite. Improved drainage and changing weather patterns mean we only get good ice every few years anymore, but when we do, I'm out there as much as I can manage, even if I spend more time shovelling it off than swooping back and forth across it. Despite the heavy work and bitter cold, puddle-skating is always a solid path to peace in my heart.


  1. Puddle-skating! It sounds adorable, though I know I would spend plenty of time on my arse if I attempted it, balance not being my strong suit...
    Navy. No, I don't have many navy items, and like you tend to have a bunch of associations that go with it (dull, conservative, corporate/establishment, school uniform or middle-aged, that kind of thing). I have a delicious navy 1970s maxi dress which changed my views on it a bit, as did my red/white/navy striped skirt. Still not naturally drawn to it, I'm afraid. I feel a bit the same about grey (don't hate me!)
    Still, you have pulled off navy and neutrals really well, Amber, I think those rocking boots and the funky sleeveless trench perk the outfit up nicely. And the amber necklace always makes me a little envious...
    Stay snuggly in your cosy coat, my dear! If there are any puddle-skating adventures this winter, please ensure some photographic evidence! xxxxxx

    1. Yes! One can be entirely sensible without having to be all SENSible, dammit. And though I love grey, I could never hate you, doll!

      We'll keep hoping for good ice through March. Over the years both at the farm and at the lake we've had a number of memorable family-and-friend-reunion-skating parties, once on the field by my parents' house and a few on Lake Erie, complete with mulled cider, wine-in-a-box, beer propped in snowbanks, and suprisingly little blood amid the spectacular triple-butt-flip action.

  2. Your free-associations with navy-blue are much like mine. I think it's especially the blue blazers with gold buttons that make me grimace. I've had a couple of pieces of clothing in navy and white that I really liked, but navy doesn't look good on me. I don't miss it.

    That scarf looks so soft and warm, and made with love, and your jewelry is fabulous, as usual!

  3. one of my fav pieces of yours, the sleeveless trench - that's one of those pieces that could be worn to death with its possibilities!! funny about colors - I've been a black junkie since jr. high - I've tried to add more colors over the years, but the black remains my first choice - I've gone on 'black diets' where I haven't allowed myself to even touch a black garment while shopping but invariably I don't end up wearing the colors I bought and instead replace them with my second skin of black - I much love grays, olives blood reds and certain shades of tan and browns and patterns with these colors - I don't stray anymore :))

  4. Oh wow, skating! I never learned how. It looks like such fun.

    First, I love the New-Look-ish proportions of your outfit! And I'm coveting those boots...

    Second, I've had the exact same associations with navy!!! It's only been in the last couple of years that I've worn it on purpose and liked it. That's a wonderful coat. The buttons and ruffle keep it well away from sanctimony. :-)

  5. I love navy blue and I find it frustrating that it's not available all the time. It should be like black and brown are but blues tend to follow trends.

    I love your accessories today. Such brilliant reds.

    1. So interesting - my impression of navy was as an easily-available standard (though other blues come and go), but personally wishing brown in its cooler iterations was steadier. Tell me if you agree about this shift toward homogeneity I recall happening right between the 80's and 90's, when suddenly all the stores had all the same things in them, so much so there wan't much to differentiate on store from another. That still seems to hold true of colour palettes, but I so rarely shop regular retail that I wouldn't actually know.

  6. Navy blue has become big part of my wardrobe lately. I think it's because I wear a lot of black and I'm wanting to try some color these days, so when I go shopping I tend to grab navy. I don't even realize I'm doing it. I guess my mind wants me to take gradual steps into wearing bolder colors and navy blue is next on the color scale. Just a theory about myself.

    1. Oh cool! Grey has been my personal methadone from black, and now it's come perilously close to the not-allowed-to-buy status of black too. :)

  7. I like navy, although I detest a soggy Kleenex up the sleeve : 0 Your coat is brilliant to me - great swoop down the back! And your amber necklace is gorgeous too.

    I have an aversion to yellow but it's not as visceral as your relationship with navy; I just think I look death when I have worn it.

  8. What a great outfit, cosy but very stylish too. Made me think of Julie Christie in Dr Zhivago (plus sunglasses)! And what a stunning photo of you skating across the ice... how wonderful to be able to do that! A really dreamlike image.

  9. You know me, I love all colours.
    And you still manage to find the best shoes,ahhhhhhhhhhh

  10. Lucky you with the ice skating-- jealous! Navy lolzzzz I always think about the cute little pin up types that wear the navy and white nautical inspired outfits with pops of red or the 50s dresses with all the navy and white polka dots...

  11. Poor navy blue! I've been thrifting more of it lately, on purpose, because blue is one of my colors. Never having my colors did, I just glommed on that navy works on me and has lots of re-mixing possibilities. My old feet would quite like orthopedic shoes, i suspect :P

    I do love your sleeveless trench coat, tho'. You are always so very lovely and fierce.

    1. I know, bashing an innocent colour! Speaking of lovely and fierce, look who's talking. ;) Ditto on the feets and the orthopedic shoes, but oh man, I so never want to have to wear these:

      or these:


  12. Beautiful skirt! I still love your trench dress - even though the one I found didn't work for me. It is going onto a new home now!

    I like navy because it looks really good on me, I just feel challenged with how to wear it. It used to be like Brown a non-issue, non-acceptable color. I do still struggle with it, since I get confused what shoes to wear with navy. I keep trying. I never want to 100% count out a color.

    I used to have strong feelings about colors, but since blogging - I've changed my whole thought process on color. I still love my favorites - orange, blue, red. But I gained fervored love for dust purple, acid green, and bitter cacao brown.

  13. Amber, what beautiful pictures. That one of you out iceskating reminds me of an old Joni Mitchell album Hejira. There is some great photography on that album cover and in the inside of the cd case as well.
    I've never had blue in my wardrobe, can you believe that? Except for jeans. I stick with the warm tones and can never find enough brown out there, or mustard, or rust.

  14. Amber, I love your coat {and your shades}. The cuffs and the edging are beautifully designed. I'm a little jelly that your childhood closet is in your life still. You may be finding clothing belonging to your Mom in it now, but I bet the memories in there are all yours. Your vintage necklace is exquisite. Amber has a special magic in the world of gemstones, especially since it isn't a stone at all.

    I admit to loving navy. And, I'm the one who was just showing off my navy blazer with the gold buttons. You would think navy was a generic neutral, but I have a real challenge finding great shoes in navy.

    I get along with almost every colour, but I find that khaki is a bit tough for me to wear next to my face.

  15. Again, I had to laugh at your comment - what had a colour ever done to you? I like blue, not necessarily navy, but blue, sky blue, robin's egg blue, ocean blue, Lake Erie blue (if you can believe it!).
    And I too used to skate nearby to my home, at Herbie's Pond. But now everything is so litigious I'm not sure whether neighbours would be so welcoming of what was once a neighbourly gathering...
    Your sleeveless trench is a favourite. So unexpected. I want to find something to cut off the sleeves. Val Sparkle recently posted a coat that had two left sleeves on it. Go figure. You look fabulous, Amber.

  16. I like all sorts of colours these days. There were days that things weren't like that, oh noes! I hated pink or anything remotely feminine back in my teenage years and navy blue was a colour that I also didn't like because it was conservative and I liked black oh so much more! But now I have surrendered to the joys of pink (and dressing like a giant 6 year old) and navy blue. It's so versatile and not as harsh and heavy as black. I also happily combine the two (navy and black), which to some people is a big no no, almost as bad as mixing red and pink (which I also like doing) haha. Ha well, I like breaking the rules it seems. Too bad your navy blue didn't arrive to change your mind about the colour.
    It started snowing here today, maybe tomorrow I will go out and snap some photos :)

  17. Oh Amber you look so fabulous in everything! Love the trench and oh man do I love those boots.
    I so enjoyed your color disliking story. I don't think I have many colors that I dislike except maybe acid green. I love navy, especially on pea coats.

  18. I love the sleeveless trench, the necklace, the skirt (keep it! keep it!), the outerwear coat. All so gorgeous. I am coming around to navy slightly - it's a lot nicer against my skin than black, for sure.

    We used to skate on fields here and even on a creek sometimes when I was a kid. I loved that - thank you for the memory!

  19. O, wow, that skirt and necklace are fabulous! The trench is fantastic, it's something quite timeless and versatile!
    I used to loathe navy, but have become rather enamoured of it in the last year or so!
    Skaing over fields sounds (and looks) incredibly romantic and remote! Love the photo!


  20. The combination navyblue and gold is one of my favourites 8among a thousands of other favorites) You look very cool in your coat. Tons of attitude!

  21. Yeah, I really like navy too, and brown, and black, and gray among other colors. I've always liked that it wasn't as severe as black. Anyway, your navy and beige looks great together. It likes you whether you do or not, it seems.

  22. Your trenchy thing is one of my favourite things - you have incorporated it into so many great outfits. I have similar feelings about navy as you. I've tried to like it, I really have, but whenever I buy anything in dark blue (aside from a pair of jeans), it always feels frumpy. One could argue that it isn't so different from black, but in truth, it's completely different. Navy feels blah, black is chic and edgey. I don't mind other shades of blue though.

    I love your super-warm winter coat, and that shot of you skating on the ice (that is you, right?)

  23. If I may weigh in belatedly, navy in and of itself is okay far as I'm concerned. I LOVE it with black, very Commes Des Garcons in the eighties, especially a very dark navy, which can be fabulous with gray too. I'm on my phone so II can't enjoy all the glorious details but you look amazing. The skating picture is so so beautiful. I remember the river freezing hard enough to skate on in my childhood but I preferred the pond next door. I didn't have to walk as far. Now I'm relegated to a rare visit to an indoor rink, sigh.


Thank you for your comments!
- Amber