Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Elevated Casual

Quote of the week:

Some call it smart! Some call it elevated! Some call it chic!

Whatever you want to label it, this fashion trend has been around since the ‘roaring twenties.’ And. . . yes, it has taken many twists and turns on its fashion path but here, in 2022, this fashion ‘persona’ or style of fashion speaks loudly and carries a big stick.

I remember some many years ago having lunch with a dear friend who goes all the way back to high school. We took a restroom detour before heading to our table at Arnie’s. As we were freshening up, she complimented me with this declaration. . . “Julie, you really do casual well.”

While I loved the compliment, I wasn’t quite sure what it meant.

Turns out there is a fashion stye called “elevated casual.” Who knew? Certainly not me.

Except for my years in the teaching profession back when “professional” dressing in that profession was a must, my lifestyle has always been casual dressing. Not to say that I would run to the grocery store in sweatpants, t-shirts and sneakers. I wouldn’t, as that felt like I was stepping outside the front door in my most homebound vulnerable state. You know. . . the stuff you put on after a hard day at the ‘office’ and just want to spread out on the sofa and watch the local news in total comfort.

Basically, smart or elevated casual simply means stepping it up a notch or, said another way, let’s “dress up” a casual outfit. And, as I’ve come to understand it after doing my homework, turns out it is my favorite way of dressing and has been since long ago. Turns out it is also my favorite way of decorating and gardening and just being in this world. I want to introduce a touch of (dare I say “elegance”) into many aspects of my life.

Key word being a “touch.”

Here’s a five step formula for doing exactly that in anyone’s closet:

While my illustration is pretty self-explanatory, you know me! I shall briefly explain anyway! And, one caveat I might add. . . I chose to use one of this season’s strong colors (hot pink) for my layering while research emphasized that using neutral layers is much more ‘classically’ elevating to a casual outfit. Please forgive me Katherine Hepburn, as you in your neutrals define casual elegant.

Believe it or not, my step one could have been a pair of sweatpants which would easily be dressed up by all the other layers, as are the black jeans that I did choose. Choosing a dark wash or back jean automatically begins an elevated look to the casual pant.

Simply said, you add a basic top like a tee, blouse, or shell. Then add a third layer as in jacket, cardigan or even kimono and you’re given the look more depth and interest.

Lastly, the accessories add a final punch to the elevated casual look. Choose a dressier shoe and handbag over a sneaker and a slouchy hobo cloth bag. Throw in a hat, scarf, necklace and you’ve crowned the jeans with elevation.

There you have it!

Wait a minute. That’s only four layers, but who is counting? So. . . just what is the fifth?

In doing my research for this post, I hesitated to even bring up the fifth layer.

“Well,” I thought to myself, “I could make it four layers and call it good.”

Guilty of omission because I am a big “offender” of this last layer. But every resource I visited thought it important to emphasize that posture and grooming are important to elevating any look we choose to wear from casual to formal. You literally “level up” any outfit by throwing your shoulders back and standing up straight and tall and by making sure there are no “loose ends” in either the garment we are wearing or our own personal grooming. In other words, no chipped nail polish, etc. on us and no wrinkles, stains or hanging threads, etc on the clothes we wear.

So there you have it “elevated casual.”

A look you already “own” or one you might want to contemplate?

I’m listening!!

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Once upon a time, Marie Antoinette, weary of her heavy and thick brocades, lovingly and happily embraced her new found freedom in the airiness of toile. At last. . . she could breathe again.

Sad to say but history knows how long that lasted!!

However, until her beheading, she enjoyed the comfort and freedom that the fabric of Toile du Jouy gave her and her fashion sense greatly influenced the popularity of toile in the 18th century.

Shall we take a step back. . . before your head spins too far off its axis?

In a world of brocade, be a toile!

We think of toile as the pastoral life, mythology, exotic travel, flora and fauna prints on the fabric but, actually, way back in the 18th century, toile was the light and airy linen fabric itself. While it was first made in Ireland, yes Ireland, the town of Jouy-en-Josas in France came to be its permanent manufacturer. In French, toile du Jouy means fabric from the French town Juoy.

Toile du Jouy is a mouthful so it got shortened to “Twahl” for short.

The original German designer of prints on toile fabric was influenced by Chinese nature drawings and drew those pastoral designs that we come to associate as “Toile.” They were single color prints on a white background. Today those prints appear on a multitude of colored fabrics as well.

Toile is delicate, romantic and artistically beautiful and pops up in fabrics, wallpaper, china, bedding, masks, cell phone cases, etc. You get the idea!

While toile design is classic and not going anywhere, like most fashion styles, it comes and goes in popularity. The past two years have seen a surge in its popularity in everything from tops to bottoms to accessories. It rides the wave from romantic dresses to sneakers and sandals.

Toile on sneakers? I gotta go find me a pair of those, as the thought of having a flowy, romantic toile top and some sneakers to go with, uplifts the imagination. Well my imagination is uplifted at the thought.

And, of course, toile is on the racks of Sound Styles, as shown in Jenny’s weekly video dated. . . January 13th, 2022.

Want to partake of this French remedy for stuffiness? “TWAHL” anyone?

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She walked through our door a few days back, declaring “I need some retail therapy.”

Following close behind was said husband who offered up “I’m just the chauffeur.”

Now we all know what “retail therapy” means. Let’s get a little or maybe even a lot “high” with something new. This moment of euphoria could come from The Wooden Spoon or The Papery or The Edmonds Theater or. . . well, you get the idea!

We at Sound Styles are always euphoric when you choose us for your therapy. On that day, this particular lady got a retail fix that made everyone happy.

Well. . . said husband? . . . maybe not so much. Except that I got the distinct feeling that he too wanted her to be happy and, if new additions to her wardrobe would do the trick, then he was happy to oblige. What a great husband is that!

While doing some poking around for this week’s topic, I bumped into one of the biggest fashion trends for 2022. Have you heard of it? It’s called “dopamine dressing?” You know. . . named after the happy hormone in our brains that when set loose by a great movie, book, meal or new sweater makes us feel good and gives us an emotional lift.

Turns out, however, that those happy hormones begin their fashion journey when we first begin to think about going shopping. So, it’s not just the purchase of something new to wear. . . it’s the window shopping, the stimulus of being in an environment full of color, texture, design, etc. And, of course, it’s both the anticipation of and then the actual wearing of something new. All along that journey, dopamine is flowing and raising our happiness level.

Bright colors are big for spring and play a huge part in dopamine dressing. We all know for certain that colors can lift our moods. Fashion is a language and color is a way to communicate. There’s an entire psychology of color available to us. Red is stimulating. Yellow can boost our energy. Green is soothing and blue tends to be peaceful. Color is powerful but one needn’t overanalyze to know which colors we gravitate to and which ones lift our moods. There is no right or wrong, as each of us is unique in what color choices “float our boats.”

Spring is spilling out all over. All over the racks and rods of Sound Styles. Colors are bursting out of boxes and the multitude of styles is ringing all our bells.

Feeling terrific in an outfit of our choice can set free those happy hormones. From the feel of the fabric to the cut of the clothes and the color of each item, how we dress has an incredible impact on how we feel.

Please come visit us soon for a little lesson on dopamine dressing. We’re up to the task!!

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Quote of the Week:

Indulge me please! I’m feeling a bit sad and somewhat nostalgic tonight and these words want to be said.

To live and work in a small waterfront town brings so many joys. Joys, however, that get scattered here and there with many a sorrow.

You can’t be in business for nearly 35 years and not become deeply attached to “regular customers” as if they are friends and members of the family. Without a doubt, it is one of the “perks” of having a shop in a small town.

Over the past twelve months and more, our family has lost too many of you and we feel and mourn the loss. Our hearts hurt when we know that your happy faces will no longer bring us the joy we felt when you walked through our door and asked us to help you find just the perfect thing. Or when you stopped by to simply say hello and keep us company by catching up on the latest news of your lives.

Or when you remembered us with a small token of this or that. . . telling us we’re in your thoughts. Or when you poked your head in the front door just to ask “what’s new?” As regulars, you were familiar with the weekly, if sometimes daily, deliveries that come through those front doors and you didn’t want to miss a thing, especially the chance to grab your size in something that caught your fancy.

Like family, we accepted and embraced you whether the mood was uplifting or the tone of the day was not so stellar. It all came with the territory of friendship and life and what challenges, sorrows and joys come to pass for all of us.

Most of all, we will miss each of you for the pure joy of your company, friendship, laughter and the feeling of community that you brought to Sound Styles. We will speak of you often and recall good memories. Know that our hearts have been touched by the footprints of each and every one of you and though our hearts may hurt for a while, your presence in them will not fade.

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I found it!

My pantone periwinkle color of the year.

Guess where I found it?

Well. . . no big surprise! There was already a beautiful periwinkle cardi sweater in my closet hiding in the back depths of the “put away for Spring” stuff. Something I purchased at the end of the season and, no doubt, thought it a great bargain.

Go figure! Of course I would already have that color lurking somewhere.

Odd though! This would not be one of my favorite colors to purchase.. Maybe I was just a bit clairvoyant and wanted to have it ready for 2022. Believe me. . . Pantone gave me no hints about the “color of the year” for 2022. However, after reading that it flatters most skin and hair color tones, my adrenalin pumps and I’m excited to pull it out of the depths and start playing with how to wear it.

Which leads me to Jackie O’ and her enigmatic quote and column dressing as a fashion statement.

As I looked back at the many pictures of Jackie in her beautiful outfits that we all admired, I think her “marble column” encompasses her approach to fashion. For Jackie, a timeless and basic ensemble was the most classic and imposing thing to wear

Nothing is more classic in making a fashion statement than a column of color. You all know what I mean by a column of color, don’t you? If not, simply put, it means you wear the same color from shoulder to hemline creating a slenderizing column. Most of us think of black as that column but it really can be any color, including white. The column gets even taller if you wear a hat and shoes in the same color. This style of dressing is very popular among women for its ease, modern and streamlined look and for the slimness created through the use of one color.

So… while it is both easy and stylish and classic, let’s not let that column become boring. How do we do that? Well. . . I’m going to put my new periwinkle cardigan over a column of either navy blue or black and perhaps add an accessory like a scarf or necklace, statement earrings or animal print bag to highlight the column and give it an interesting twist so as not to bore myself or anyone else. If the coat, jacket, sweater cardigan or kimono that you add to the monochromatic column is at least hip length or even longer, you slenderize the column even more. And, of course, you add the punch that steps it up a notch.


And, knowing me. . . I would probably add all those accessories. However, since learning at my last osteoporosis screening that I’m growing shorter by the year, I’ll try to elongate the column with the fedora hat (which I’m actually really tempted to buy as it is on sale) and the boots. Throw in the crossbody zebra bag for added texture and pattern and a Greek column has been chiseled.

After doing a bit of looking around (well, more than a bit) I found a picture of Jackie Kennedy Onassis wearing a column of color that she punched up with her jewelry, signature sunglasses and handbag. I’m sharing it to illustrate the fashionable column and because I found it so unique in that I don’t recall seeing Jackie in anything but beautiful dresses, suits and pillbox hats. So wanted to share just for fun.

Hope I’ve inspired you just a bit to find your choice of a color column somewhere in your own closet and then add the outer layering piece and/or the accessories to give it your own stamp of “fashion” approval.

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When one goes looking for quotes, one never knows what one is going to find. This one from Patricia (“one of the most accomplished prose stylists in the fantasy genre”) just fell into place and tugged the heartstrings even though I must admit that I’m not sure if she meant the flower, the snail or just the beautiful color of periwinkle itself. I’ll be humble and reject the gold and the black pearls (and, by all means the snail) and go for the color of the flower.

Drum Roll Please! Ta Da!

With those glowing words of description, who isn’t going to love this year’s color? As a matter of fact, periwinkle turns out to be one of those “universal” colors that is going to love all of us right back. Meaning that most every skin tone will be complimented by some shade of periwinkle, depending on whether you want to absorb its gentle and calm nature or its more elegant, and even spiritual aspect if you pick a deeper shade of periwinkle. And, for goodness sake, who doesn’t want everlasting love?

And, not wanting to get too detailed about this year’s color, but wanting to give you all a bit of FYI:

Periwinkle is a tint of the color indigo and takes its name from the beautiful ground cover flower Vinca Minor ( or periwinkle). It has a hint of purple because it sits between blue and violet. It is also called lavender blue. Anyone remember Dinah Shore?

Pantone’s color of the year is a big deal and pops up everywhere from interior design to fashion. Not sure it’s going to fit into my interior design, but I will be looking to wear a periwinkle something or other coming soon.

How about you? dilly dilly!

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While searching for a quote to celebrate this New Year’s Holiday, I happened upon one that captured my heart and spoke to my penchant for filling a blank page with words galore.

It reminded me of a book that I discovered (thanks to Oprah) many years ago called “Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy” by Sarah Ban Breathnach. While not a big fan of resolutions, I have made one this year to bring that book out of hiding and re-discover its wisdom. I am resolved to read each of its daily journal entries and follow some of the monthly suggestions for leading a happier life. It sits on my bedside table as I write and I look forward to reading the first entry tomorrow morning.

We here at Sound Styles give you all a big hug and our best wishes for a Happy New Year! After all, even Winnie the Pooh knew that a hug is always the “right size.”

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Quote of the Week:

And. . . all of us at Sound Styles want to let no present go unopened by not expressing our gratitude to all of you for your friendship and community support through all the thirty six years of our existence but most definitely through these past two years of very poignant and challenging circumstances. You’ve been our “rock” so to speak and we will forever be grateful.

We offer a toast to one and all: There may be better people in the world but we don’t know ’em.

We wish you all the most blessed Thanksgiving.

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So we don’t have a one horse open sleigh.

We might however be able to help fulfill the so called four gift rule for Christmas wishes.

Ever hear of this idea for kids? 

One item that you want.

One item that you need.

One item to wear.

One item to read.

Might the idea translate well to adults?  Let’s see!

Perhaps your recipient of said gift wants a new sweater or jacket or blouse just to make them feel special. We got it!

Perhaps your recipient needs a new warm scarf or gloves or pair of socks or even a bit of joy in a new bra. We got it!

Perhaps your recipient has a special item to wear on their wish list. Well that’s us everywhere in the store. We got it!

Now….for #4  Believe it or not, we even have that one item to read. Our new Sugarboo accessories abound with inspirational cards and posters to read. They are all over the store and would be great additions to any stocking or use as an enclosure card on any gift.

’Tis the season has begun and we are already gift wrapping. Stop in soon for the best selection of all we have.

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Quote of the Week:

Love this sweater!

Never taking this off!

The perfect complement to my favorite jean!

Our new Paper Label sweater is a beauty!

Gives new meaning to a fisherman. If you catch my drift!

This sweater and you could be the first foot prints on the empty sand and you would have Puget Sound all to yourself. You’d be wrapped up in this cotton, nylon and 10% wool warm blanket of deliciousness in what they call an oak milk color. You should, by all means, have a latte in hand.  In days of late, our Pacific Northwest winds have been swirling about in those dark grey skies and temps are descending.

Perhaps lunch awaits, cooked by a loving someone and a crackle in the fireplace will warm the coldest of hands. Later you may just discover how great a pillow this fisherman’s knit makes.

Okay so I fantasize! Real life takes place off the pages of my fantasy.

But. . . enjoy the beach walk!

Add an extra layer of warmth with this half-zip pullover. Designed with a chic high neck and half-zip closure at front, this rib knit wool-blend pullover features a clean silhouette with a stand collar, cuffs, and silver-tone hardware. Crafted with dropped shoulders, a relaxed comfortable fit, and high neckline, this sweater will provide you with the ultimate cozy look. An underneath layer could be anything from a turtleneck to a lacy camisole…. Eddie Bauer to Victoria’s Secret.


Machine wash cold with like colors, gentle cycle, lay flat to dry, do not dry clean.

Sizes S-XL

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