Trying different toppers with an outfit

I am continuing on ChristinaF's no-jeans challenge through the end of this month. I've been taking photos and saving them for one post at the end. But with today's no-jeans outfit, I tried different toppers and thought I would share the results here.

The backstory is that I'm in a bit of style flux right now, having a hard time putting together outfits. I seem to have a lot of pieces I like, but it's a challenge to make outfits that I really love. Part of it is transitional weather, which others have noted recently; I want to wear spring clothes, but I need closer to winter warmth. But also I've been reexamining color and realizing that much of what I have in my wardrobe is okay but not my best colors. And I've been finding I don't always have the right length of topper to complete an outfit and keep me warm. Finally, I've been questioning what styles actually suit me, and whether my style is evolving in a direction I like or not. This unsettled-ness may be influenced by what feels like a turn in the pandemic, with a gradual un-masking occurring.

These pants fall into that color category. They are a near-miss color-wise, from my previous "work" capsules at OSKA, where I needed to wear articles from lines that were current at the time. They are a super comfy style, like wearing pajamas. I am considering passing them on, because they are too much of an outlier--I have very little to go with them, other than a couple of matching OSKA tops (which were too dark for my spring mood).

The outfits: Plum drapey viscose knit pants with a yoga-pant style waistband (OSKA); mixed-print tee (made by me); white platform low-top sneakers (P448); white enamel and glass earrings with a bit of sparkle, worn with different toppers. . .

1-2) light heather gray sweatshirt jacket (Caslon)
3) short, boxy black denim jacket (made by me)
4) long black and white marled cardigan (Bobeau)
5) short, boxy charcoal lofty wool v-neck cardigan (ISCHIKO)

The sneakers are new, and I just had to wear them. I went with 1-2 for my short trip this morning for coffee and running DH to an eye exam.

I'd be interested to hear your reactions to these outfits and the variations. Anyone else feeling unsettled in their style these days?

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Jonesy replied 2 years ago

    Hmm, I love these pants and I love these outfits! But I do commiserate about the feelings of being in flux. I think all of these look really current and chic, and they suit you. I can't believe you made the denim jacket--it looks fab! I love your new sneakers too, and think they work beautifully with those pants. My least favorite is the one with the long cardigan; I think the pants work best with the shorter toppers, but that's just my two cents, and I do have a bit of a poison eye for really long cardigans, so take my comment with a grain of salt :).

  • kellygirl replied 2 years ago

    I just love those pants on you. My favorite is 1 but I love them all. These outfit seems to suit your arty style to a tee--at least that's how I see you. I think the pants look especially good with some contrast! SO gorgeous as usual, Firecracker. It's always a treat to see you!!

  • chewyspaghetti replied 2 years ago

    I think all of these work, but I really love the first one. I think the light gray makes it look more springy, too.

  • cat2 replied 2 years ago

    Love the pants; I would continue to wear them with colors you love near your face.

  • LaPed replied 2 years ago

    I like the first version the best. The shape of the jacket works great with the pants. I like #2 as well, especially the way the contrast stitching picks up the lighter elements. The cardi versions are a bit less structured/more lounge-y.

    I find it impossible to let go of ridiculously comfortable pants. I’m not sure if you do loungewear/at-home-only, but that’s probably where those pants would end up for me, especially with matching tops to rock the coord look!

  • rachylou replied 2 years ago

    Is your hair different, Firecracker? In any case, I prefer the toppers in 2 and 4, something about the longer hemline.

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 2 years ago

    Jonesy, thanks for your thoughts and commiseration.
    Kelly, thank you. I have been going more tomboy and less arty lately, so maybe I need to get some arty back. You have a good point about contrast--especially for spring, I think, as Chewyspaghetti notes.
    cat2, thanks! That's a good strategy--and a good reminder. It's not like they are pumpkin orange or something (which would truly be an outlier in my wardrobe)--haha!

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 2 years ago

    Thanks, Rachylou! Yes, I got my hair trimmed last week, so it's pretty short. And I let the waves do their thing, rather than trying so hard for bangs.

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 2 years ago

    LaPed, thank you! I appreciate your thoughts on the more or less loungy effect. I am not comfortable with too loungy outside of the house; it just doesn't feel like me. But I also don't do at-home loungewear, except for working out . . . and on those days when it takes me the better part of the day to change out of my morning Pilates clothes. ;)

  • Katerina replied 2 years ago

    I really like these pants and I think they really suit you. I am very fond of the color, so I would wear such pants in a heartbeat. They look great with your new sneakers. As for the toppers, my favorite here is no 1, to my eye it works nicely with the pants - it is a great and a little avant-garde look. I also like the jeans jacket combination. The jacket is amazing! How brilliant you are! I am with you on the feeling of a style flux. I am experiencing some changes myself, but not necessarily in a direction I like, but it is a matter for another post. You look gorgeous and utterly chic as always! You have a fantastic taste and sense of style.

  • Angie replied 2 years ago

    Sharan, you are innately stylish and an inntutive dresser with KILLER style. You have looked nothing but fabulous in your 10 years of YLF. And are VERY impressive with the sewing machine.

    All the the toppers work! My faves are #2 and #3 because I personally prefer short boxy, fluid or tailored toppers with my own balloon and carrot pants. But a long classic coat or cocoon coat works too.

    LOVE your sneaks! 

    I hear you on the state of flux. It's carry over from 15 months of pandemic living, and we probably all feel that way to some extent. Maybe a closet edit and review are in order?

    I can relate to the extreme need for the right toppers living in Seattle - and many of them. We wear them across all sorts of thicknesses and silhouettes most of the year! It gets trickier with voluminous bottoms and the right WARM topper. Try a short funky puffer. I've found that item versatile for Spring: 

  • Stagiaire Fash replied 2 years ago

    I love the top you’ve paired with these, and I certainly hear you on the irritation of still needing toppers this time of year. I think the cocoon is my favorite, but I’d also like to see something cropped—not a bolero, but just down to your waist. Of course, that might necessitate adding a layer underneath for warmth, grr.

    On style changes and impatience—I’m feeling more impetus to do things with my style recently, like define different palettes for different times of the year, but for me it’s a positive feeling.

  • Janet replied 2 years ago

    I think these look great, and I love the color of those pants. I also prefer the shorter toppers rather than the long cardigan with this particular outfit, but that’s my personal bias.

    I have to confess envy for needing a topper. I just sweated through a 3-mile walk because it’s too hot for me to run. I think it’s about 86 out there now. It was 93 on Sunday when I was at the Delaware shore. Our swimming pool is ready for action!

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 2 years ago

    Katerina, thanks! I appreciate your feedback and your compliment on my denim jacket. I will watch for your post on style changes. Sad to hear some are unwanted, though.
    Angie, hm, I will look into a short puffer. Maybe something like the super-light sweater-style ones? Yes, an edit is definitely in order. Maybe I will give myself a birthday present of a proper one, with professional assistance. ;) I feel the need to pre-edit.
    Thank you, FashIntern. The waist-length jacket is kind of elusive for me, though I agree with you that it would be a good look. Even this denim one that I made is longer, and I had control over the process. Though I did shorten it from the original design--haha!
    Janet, if I were facing that kind of heat, I would be complaining about it. Where is the happy medium? We need to be there, right now.

  • Janet replied 2 years ago

    IKR?? I could use more of those 60-70 degree days!

    I underestimated. See current temp.

  • Stagiaire Fash replied 2 years ago

    No shade was intended for the jeans jacket—it’s awesome! I just don’t know that it’s the shape you need with the pants.

    Janet, 94, ugh! What does me in is the same uncomfortable temperature dragging on & on forever. It isn’t cold cold here—it’s in the 50s. But that’s enough that we can’t go bare-legged and always have to think about insulation. But I didn’t like day after day with highs of 93 in Tampa either. Give me some temperate, even warm days and then flash that heat at me & I’m fine. Even over 100 for a couple days. But then I want a change. I hope you get a weather shift & relief from the heat.

  • Irina replied 2 years ago

    Love the pants. Outfits with shorter toppers are my favorite, so I’m not sure about the one with a longer cardigan.
    when I wear my somewhat similar pants, I I mostly stay away from sneakers and wear oxfords or mules to offset too casual feel of the pants.

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 2 years ago

    Fashintern, no shade taken.

    Irina, thanks, and good idea!

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    Ooh -- I love the pants! And love the outfits! My faves are 1 and 2, but being a huge fan of duster cardis, I also love #3. Your glasses are fab, I'm really enjoying your new short hair, and of course I also love the sneakers. 

    Can't believe you made that denim jacket. (Actually, I can, but...) 

    I wonder if a recent hair length change is also throwing you for a bit of a loop? Along with all the other changes, and the seasonal weirdness, of course? It really is hard to know how to dress right now. I just bring a backpack everywhere and stuff my toppers into that if I get warm. 

  • Janet replied 2 years ago

    I agree with Suz about hair changes making everything feel a little different — I’m going through that as well.

    Not to hijack the thread into weather, but yeah, FI, I can handle the heat if it cools off at night. What wears me out is a prolonged period when it’s hot and humid in the daytime and doesn’t get below 75 at night. I don’t particularly like running AC so much.

  • JAileen replied 2 years ago

    I like the first two versions best.  They seem more hip, maybe?  

  • Minaminu replied 2 years ago

    very stylish!

  • Stagiaire Fash replied 2 years ago

    Janet, ita on thread jacks and nighttime lows.

  • Sal replied 2 years ago

    I also like the shorter jackets - I prefer the structure of a jacket rather than a cardigan with these pants. I could see a funky puffer or the right sweater too.

    I am feeling okay about my style - I struggle a bit in our coldest months as I have a very small true winter wardrobe.

    Maybe a closet edit and holding zone might help you pull out what you want to be wearing. And narrow down the direction you want to take.

    I admire your style so much and think you always look wonderful - but you need to feel authentic too. Some of this may be post pandemic hangover!!

  • bj1111 replied 2 years ago

    I love it in #2 where the jacket length and fall complement the pants and let the pants shine.

    Ready to duplicate this version but we are basting in the Midwest with heat and humidity

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 2 years ago

    Suz, and Janet, yes, that's a good point! The hair change. I think maybe I've been reassessing my style ever since this much shorter cut.
    Thanks, JAileen and Minaminu.
    Sal, glad to hear you are feeling good about your style. I think you have never looked better-- and I've long admired your style. Thanks for those specific ideas and tips about editing. It seems such an overwhelming task, so these concrete thoughts help.
    thank you, bj1111. I'll send some of this chilly air right over to you.

  • Runcarla replied 2 years ago

    A slim fitting top with full bottoms is a very cool silhouette, and I’d love to see the outfit without the topper.  You have the physique to carry the look. It’s almost like what princess seams do for a dress or coat. However, I understand ‘the brief’ is about the requirement for a topper for when things turn cool.  So, #1/2 gets my vote - because it is closest to the slim top silhouette.  Do you have a fitted band jacket?  A vest could be interesting, maybe even a long vest like what was a hot NAS item a few years back.

    I’m with Suz and Janet about hair changes as a catalyst for style change.  The pendulum is swinging away from Tomboy and towards Classic as a response to longer hair, that I’m as likely to wear up (in a classic style) as down.  Not as rough and tumble as my previous short - short bob.  You can roll with the new do if you’re feeling the vibe, or you can change up the hair style if you aren’t.  Try not to let your hair boss you around (says someone who’s hair bosses her around!)

    I don’t fancy the footwear in the inspo pics below, but grabbed them in order to demonstrate the fitted topper idea.  On colder days, combat boots would be cool.  I do like the pants!

  • Janet replied 2 years ago

    Oh yes, Carla gave a good suggestion — I could see something like this jacket as a great topper for those pants.

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 2 years ago

    Carla, thanks for your thoughts, analysis, and examples! I like the concept very much. (I thought about showing the outfit without the toppers, too, but didn't take the picture for some reason.) I like the tee semi-tucked (how I'm wearing it under the topper anyway). I do have a more fitted, cropped jacket that would accomplish what you're suggesting and what Fashintern suggested. I didn't think of it this morning. I also have vests that could work.
    I'm liking your classic turn lately, Carla. With your hair up, you do remind me of Katharine Hepburn, which I mean as a compliment.
    Thanks to you and Janet for the band jacket idea. I have admired that jacket in some of the posts here; I recall Bonnie looking super fab in it. Back when I wore suits to work, I had a band-style jacket that I loved.

    On hair that bosses us around, well, wavy/curly hair can have a way of doing that, can't it? (I suppose all hair types do have their way with us at times.) I mostly kinda love this short cut. I like that it seems to bring more attention to my eyes, but beyond that, I'm not sure what vibe it's giving me. Too boyish? too wannabe-cute? I'm hoping for a little bit chic, sophisticated, and sporty.

  • Jaime replied 2 years ago

    I love the pants and the colorful top and think the white sneakers are perfect with the look. The only one that looks a bit out of place to me is the long grey cardigan. I do understand how you are feeling though, I think a lot of people are feeling out of sorts now that life is starting to return to BC(ovid) times. I definitely am feeling some style confusion lately. I enjoyed the thoughtful comments above too!

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 2 years ago

    Thanks, Jaime. I'm guessing your style confusion could also be related to the (less than stellar) haircut experience you had recently. That long cardi is really quite a loner these days, now that I'm not wearing skinny jeans much.

  • Joy replied 2 years ago

    Firecracker, I would have the same problem with plum pants. Today I am wearing burgundy pants with navy. The only good thing is that they are a winter weight pull-on style. I like your outfit #2 best. That is an enviable jacket!

  • slim cat replied 2 years ago

    Fun pants and very interesting outfits - love #1-3!
    The longer cardigan in grey color is the more tricky one - may work better in the same outfit with solid bag or scarf in dark plum color ( or some other color from your fab printed top ). I would still wear it if its warm/comfortable  ;) .
    My problem with wardrobe pieces is this: I want to wear my work clothes ( a bit dressier than the rest ) on my off days, mixing it with casual pieces. It's not completely happening - still want to do old fav jeans, tee and shirt ( takes effort to do it differently ).

  • Staysfit replied 2 years ago

    Firecracker, your new hairstyle looks chic, sophisticated and sporty to my eye!  I’m not sure about you, but my experience as a wavy/curly hair person is that my hair turns out differently every day, so I had to make peace with that but I rely on my stylist to provide a shape that will look good frizzy, fluffy, curly, wavy, flat, or some combo!  

    Of the jackets, I like every version, but prefer the first two.  Sewing denim is tough!  The denim jacket is amazing!   I have extra admiration for your skills after trying to create a skirt from some torn jeans.  I purchased what I thought were the correct needles and thread for the job, but my needle broke multiple times anyway… machine is a Pfaff, (twin to Runcarlas). 

  • lyn67 replied 2 years ago

    I din't read comments.  I like them all(the darker ones for fall) but for a fresh spring look especially LOVE nr 1-2! Nr 4 is a close follower.  Love the new cut! 

  • suntiger replied 2 years ago

    Love the pants, but not crazy about any of the toppers with them. Janet's suggestion could work, or a more fitted denim jacket, or a shorter blazer. Something short and structured.
    I have the same trouble with my burgundy wide leg pants!

  • Mirjana replied 2 years ago

    First of all beautiful pants . I like the best no 2, with white, maybe as I love white in spring and summer.

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 2 years ago

    Joy, thanks for your thoughts. Your burgundy outfit was really nice. I thought when I saw it that I don't see you in burgundy very often (maybe I've missed the outfits or you haven't shown them as much here, too), but you had all the pieces to make a very cohesive look. Thanks for the compliment on the jacket.
    Slim cat, thanks for the ideas. I can understand your challenge in trying to change things up. This no-jeans challenge is giving me something to think about every day, since my daily default is jeans. It's a fun puzzle, though.
    Gosh, Staysfit, how nice. I'm glad to hear you see my hairstyle as achieving the goals! You are so right about wavy hair; that's my experience, too. Kind of never-a-dull-morning, when you find out what the look is going to be today. My hair stylist is really good with curls; she can read what my hair is wanting to do and work with it. Her hair is curly, too. And thanks for the denim jacket appreciation. I've broken needles on thick fabrics before--not fun. This denim was medium weight and easy to sew, with no seams of too many layers.
    Thank you, Lyn and Mirjana. I felt like 1-2 was the most spring-like of the bunch, too.
    suntiger, I appreciate your thoughts. I seem to have just overlooked my closer fitting jean jackets.

  • Jenava replied 2 years ago

    I like the darker colors of 3 and 5, and I like that the denim jacket has a bit of structure to balance the flowy bottoms. However, as others have mentioned, the "vibe" maybe doesn't go exactly right; I think it's sort of 40's vintage and you need something more street/architectural/futuristic for these bottoms. I like some of the options you posted, I think you're on the right track!

    I hear you about closet editing. I get that itch around this time of year almost always. I have taken a run at it a couple times but the only time I have to focus on it is in the evening when the light is bad and I'm just too exhausted. I had a day off after my second covid vax and planned to do it then but I couldn't even get out of bed most of the day! Plus....I keep looking at my clothes and not wanting to get rid of anything...LOL. So I've just been adding amazing items and crossing my fingers that somehow it will all work out...I know. Not the greatest strategy. I need to do like you and get some outfit labs going...

  • smittie replied 2 years ago

    I’d hang on to these pants. Love the harem styling and feel like you might not be able to get this styling later on.
    Great sneakers!
    My favourite outfit is the one with the denim jacket.

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 2 years ago

    Jenava, I, too, prefer a darker topper with the pants. And I ended up wearing the charcoal cardigan with them most of the day. I think if I keep them for fall rather than trying to make them work for spring, I'll be happier! I have fall/winter stuff that goes with them. I also see what you mean about the vibe of the denim jacket versus the pants. Sounds like you needed that day off for the covid-vax hangover. I lost a day and a half with it, too. I just need to commit to the wardrobe edit. I'm laughing along with you at your strategy--I could say mine is a kind of corollary: if I keep adding things, the outfits are bound to appear, aren't they? In fact, I do have things in mind when I add pieces, but they don't always work out as planned, especially the ones I make.
    Smittie, thanks for the encouragement. Good point about the style of the pants. I do like it, and you really can't get much more comfortable. They even still look pretty darned good at the end of the day, with minimal wrinkling and no bagging out. They would be good for travel.

  • Brooklyn replied 2 years ago

    I haven’t read all the comments above but I absolutely love the pants. However to me the overall look is a bit dark for late Spring, at least with a long sleeve topper. But I know Spring can be cold. Could you try scrunching your sleeves to show a bit more skin? That said, I think the outfits are great and I of all people of course support wearing burgundy all year round. It’s just that if you are not feeling it that might be why. Cold Spring is a style challenge for those who prefer more muted palettes.

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 2 years ago

    Brooklyn, I think you are right, the pants are difficult color for me to work into a spring look. And good point about the season being difficult for muted palettes. I want to brighten things up while staying warm and staying with colors that make sense for me; I could probably do two out of three easily. Ha!

  • Jenava replied 2 years ago

    I have a similar issue with this pair of pants, which I wore today, in fact, although not very successfully, IMO! They are linen, but very heavy, so they will not work in summer. Today I'm wearing them with a textured cream blouse, but the vibe is off. I think these need something very streamlined and simple, like a white or colored tee. I've worn mine with navy, and I think red will work here as well because they have red embroidery on the pocket edges and at the cuff. It was show modeled with purple, so that's also an option.

    Add'l ideas for yours:
    1. plain white tee under the grey jacket, leaving the trousers as the only color.
    2. solid colored tee in a clashing/shade/tone of the color of the pants.
    3. blue-based neutral, like you've done with the grey, in something sleek or architectural (like that cropped denim jacket), or denim with the right Avant Garde


  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 2 years ago

    Ooh, thanks for those ideas, Jenava!

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