5 Wardrobe Essentials with Aléna Tran


Camel & Cashmere

Today I’m excited to kick off a series of guest posts exploring different perspectives on wardrobe essentials. Since we each have different styles, climates, and occasions to dress for, there is so much we can learn from other women’s wardrobes, and over the next five weeks we will be getting to peek into a few of my favorites. Our first guest poster is one of my favorite slow fashion Instagramers, Aléna Tran. I know you will love reading her thoughts, seeing her amazing style, and checking out her beautiful and inspiring Instagram account.

Alena-18I used to believe summer was the most idyllic season. The air takes on a new quality; it hums with life and smells of green, growing things. An overhead sun promises we don’t need layers, and as a chronically cold person – the kind who shivers and clutches at her sleeves at the slightest draft – soaring temperatures are a version of heaven. On the first day of summer I was already dreading the rapid approach of winter.

But summer was a beast Calgarians hadn’t anticipated. Record-breaking, town-evacuating wildfires sent thick beige smoke across our sweltering city from July to August. We avoided going outside altogether on the worst days. Then, like a grand-scale magic trick, September transformed our highly unusual summer into a very traditional fall; grey skies, jaundiced leaves, breath-clouds, even rain – who rarely shows her face in our city – is here to wash away the fine smoke dust that had settled on everything.

So here I am, finding myself welcoming the newly crisp air, the slanting sunlight, the winds that are dispersing that suffocating haze. I took my time crafting a hot pumpkin latte on the stove during the first truly cold day, stirring the pumpkin with spices and frothy local milk — a sort of quiet ritual to signify my embrace of this new season. Yes, fall heralds winter, but I think it also ushers in a sort of clarity. Everything grows a little sharper around the edges.


And of course, autumn is unequivocally sartorial. Layers breed creativity, and therein lies the temptation to slip back into fast fashion. As someone who adheres as best she can to a sustainable, capsule wardrobe, at times I feel slightly limited; those aimless trips to the mall to pull dozens of trendy tops off the rack are an ancient memory. And yet, I could never go back to that. There is a far better kind of freedom in having a small, curated collection of ethical, second-hand, and vintage pieces that all pair together seamlessly and you always feel elegant in.

So this autumn, let your capsule wardrobe liberate you instead of restrict you. I am sharing what I currently consider my top five capsule wardrobe essentials for fall weather; mix and match as you please.



In August, while visiting family in BC, my husband and I made a day trip out to Victoria. We had no set agenda, except to pay a visit to Stephanie at her shop, Open House (@shopopenhouse). Her minimal, white-walled store holds a beautiful collection of ethical and vintage clothing and objects. I quickly spotted this vintage camel-coloured wool trench coat, and knew this was the fall coat I had been hoping for. A camel coat had been on my fall capsule wish list for months, and it was hard to beat the price tag of just $90 for such a sturdy, lovely coat. It was a little large, but after a quick trip to the tailor, it fit perfectly. Nothing says ‘fall’ quite like a classic trench, and its one of those garments that never really goes out of style. You can find lots of similar vintage coats like this on Etsy.



Nothing goes with everything quite like black jeans; they’re the skeleton key of fashion. And high-waisted is just my thing. I adore tucking in shirts and sweaters. This particular pair of skinnies is from LA-based, made-in-USA company Just Black Denim (@justblackdenim). I first discovered them in a local boutique – they were my first pair of ethically-made jeans, and I haven’t looked back. Their jeans are so comfy, and the best part is that they don’t stretch beyond adjusting better to your shape with wear.Alena-22



Most people associate ankle boots with fall, but I’m a loafer lover in almost all weather (except snow). If you buy a quality pair, they’re great for a long day on your feet and can transition easily from the office to a more elegant affair. These ‘smoking loafers’ in black patent leather are from ethical footwear company Nisolo Shoes (@nisoloshoes). They do take quite a few wears to break in, but once the leather molds to your feet, you’ll be addicted.







Cashmere sweaters are a chic, versatile fall/winter staple. Both the black sweater and the orangey sweater are thrifted finds, and they’re 100% cashmere. I’m telling you, if you haven’t started second-hand shopping, you need to. I spent a total of $27 on them combined, and they’re such classic pieces that I won’t quickly grow tired of them.





When you live in a place like Calgary where July is the only guaranteed snow-free month, having a beanie (or toque) is essential – no questions asked. This particular beanie is from Bare Knitwear (@bareknitwear,) a super-soft blend with baby alpaca wool. I’m wearing the Andes Beanie in taupe.Alena-60

Shop Aléna’s Looks:

Thank you so much to Aléna for sharing her impeccable style today. If you’d like to learn more about her, and find more great style inspiration and ethical brand recommendations, be sure to follow her on Instagram!

Special thanks to Kara Rohl for the photography in this post. Check out her work at www.kararohl.com and @kararholphoto on Instagram!

What are some of your wardrobe essentials? I’d love to hear!





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