17 December 2009

Lacking inspiration

I haven't been feeling very inspired lately style wise. The weather has been extremely cold and we have a pretty thick layer of snow on the ground here. Warmth and sensible footwear have been my main priority this week, as I contend with hour long train delays and icy streets trying to get to work and back! Its also not helped by the fact that I can barely fit into any of my clothes anymore, and its getting harder and harder to look presentable on a daily basis! Thankfully its now the weekend and I have a rare day with no plans so I can spend all day in my comfiest and cosiest clothes. I think the situation is only going to get worse over the next few weeks as I'll be spending lots of time at home over the festive season. Bring on the leggings, cosy warm socks and sweaters!

Talking of cosy, I'm currently loving this chunky Paul and Joe Sister cardigan:

I think I would get lots of wear out of this over the next few months, layered over a white tee like the model, or a striped tee. I think it would be perfect transitional piece for spring too. I'm pretty sure the sales will be starting next week so I'm going to look out for it then.

10 December 2009

Getting it right

I thought I'd take a break from wardrobe planning to write about a few things I've been reflecting on lately. A comment from fashion addict on an earlier post 'whenever i dress or shop for these occasions i try to remember the times i felt i got it right, and try base my look on that particular occasion' got me thinking about times that I've got it right in the past. I'll admit that I completely drew a blank at first, and it took me a while to think of some outfits that are memorable for the right reasons.

I think part of the reason why it took me so long to think of some successful outfits is that a lot of days pass in a blur of going to work and doing the same old stuff each weekend, and admittedly I don't put a great deal of effort into dressing for work, and tend to rely on a striped tee and jeans combo at weekends. There's nothing that's wrong about these outfits, but then again there's nothing remarkable about them which would make them stand out and for me to think 'I look great, that worked well'. I tend to rely on fail safe outfits, and although I hope I always look presentable and put together, I'm not likely to get stopped and photographed by Scott Schuman any time soon!

Then again, I think I'm ok with this. I don't like to stand out, I'm not extroverted, I don't want to look 'sexy' and have men looking at me, that's not what I'm about……its just not in my nature.

Anyway, back to the original point which was dressing for those awkward (for me anyway) smart/casual occasions, and the idea of basing outfits on the times I got it in the past. On these occasions when I make a bit more effort, I'd say I have a success rate of about 50%. I always feel that there's more pressure to get it right, to try something new, and so it seems to me there's a much bigger chance of getting it wrong. I don't know if that makes any sense, so I'll try and clarify. It's easy to blend into the background in an office full of people in drab outfits, and when I'm going for a walk in the park and a coffee on a Sunday, I don't feel any pressure to look great and wow anyone, I just want to be comfortable and warm mainly! But when I'm invited to a party, go to see a band or go to a bar, I know that I'm probably going to be surrounded by people that have made an effort, and are dressing in whatever hipster style is currently in, and I feel that it's harder to measure up.

I know that for me, often this has little to do with what I'm actually wearing, and what it essentially boils down to is self confidence, which I think I lack big time. I feel like I never measure up against other people, I feel awkward and unstylish and just 'not quite right' a lot of the time. I'm way too self critical, and I pick over minor faults and magnify them in my head.

There are 2 things that I need to sort out here really, the first is that I need a few outfits that I feel fantastic in and that I know I can rely on because they've worked in the past. The second is that I somehow need to try and work on becoming more confident and to stop being so critical of myself. I think I've always assumed that as soon as my wardrobe was 'perfect' that I would immediately feel confident in everything I wore, and every outfit would look great. Its about so much more than having the right clothes or bag though, its about being comfortable in your own skin and accepting yourself, faults and all. I'd never envisaged this blog veering into oprah/self help territory and this is becoming an epic post so I think I'll leave this particular rambling train of thought for now.

9 December 2009


Here is the latest addition to my collection of beloved striped tops, from See by Chloe (bought on Yoox). Love at first sight!

Wardrobe planning - Autumn and Winter (Part 2)

I've established what kind of things I do with my time, and I think for the most part my day to day wardrobe needs to be made up of casual clothes, with a few smarter pieces mixed in. The next step is to think about what clothes, shoes and bags I need in my wardrobe for Autumn/Winter. I've come up with the following list, which is based mainly on things that I already own, with a few additions and replacements.
So far I've come up with the following list:
5 long sleeved t shirts
5 long sleeved sweaters
2 cardigans
4 shirts
1 vest
2 pairs of jeans for flats, one casual, one smart
1 pair of smart jeans for heels
1 pair of trousers
1 day dress
1 skirt
2 wool coats, one long and one short
2 pairs of ballet flats
1 pair of flat boots
2 pairs of converse
1 pair of heels
2 large, everyday handbags
2 smarter handbags
This comes to 36 items total which I think is just about the right amount for my day to day wardrobe. I don't need a lot of variety in my clothes and I'm quite happy to repeat outfits, I much prefer to wear something that's tried and tested and that I know I feel comfortable in. For casual, everyday clothes, I have a ratio of 5 tops to 1 bottom (5 t shirts, 5 sweaters, 2 pairs of jeans overall) which I think will work pretty well. I'm happy to repeat wear jeans, but I do prefer to wear a different top everyday, with a few for backup in case something's in the wash.
At the minute I'm down to less than 25 items as my bump has grown and I've gradually outgrown most of my clothes, which admittedly is pretty hard. I wouldn't mind so much if I loved the things I can wear, but most of them I'm pretty ambiguous about. They've served a purpose whilst I've been pregnant but I can't wait to pack them away and start wearing my old clothes again. I'm being optimistic here and assuming I will still be able to fit into some of them – realistically I think it might take a while!

8 December 2009

Wardrobe planning - Autumn and Winter

If I want to create the perfect, pared down minimalist wardrobe which reflects my lifestyle then I need to think seriously about what I actually spend my time doing.

So, I've tried to come up with a list of all the things that occupy my time, and have grouped them by the kind of clothes that might be required for each occasions. A few notes:

*In three weeks time I won't be working anymore so work clothes don't feature on my list *Some of this is guesswork as I've never been a stay at home mum before, who really knows what I'll be doing!?

*I haven't included being at home since I tend to wear pretty comfy casual stuff like hoodies and leggings which I don't count as part of my core wardrobe

*I haven't included very occasional events like weddings, christenings, christmas parties etc since I don't include formal wear as part of my core wardrobe.


Running errands, going to the supermarket

Going to friends houses/having friends over

Weekend breaks to seaside, countryside

Walks in local parks/national trust sites


Going out for lunch or coffee

Going over to parents or parents in law for lunch/dinner

Weekend visits to cities for shopping/lunch

Weekend breaks to cities

Going to see bands

Going out for dinner (eg. country pub)


Going out for dinner (eg. city restaurant)

Going to the theatre

From past experience, I've found that I'm pretty much there with the casual and smart outfits but the ones that I always seem to struggle with are smart/casual ones. Those that require something slightly smarter than a t shirt or sweater, but where a silk blouse might be too smart, for example going to see a band, meeting friends for lunch, or going for dinner to a country pub. I want to address this in my wardrobe planning so that this time next year this won't be an issue.

This leads me onto the next step, what do I actually NEED for Autumn and Winter? I'll cover this in my next post.

5 December 2009

Wise words

I was reading an excerpt from Kendall Farr’s book, on The Wall Street Journal site and although the book is not really aimed at my age group, I was really taken with the following statement:

‘This is not a revolution. There will be no waging war on your closet or your body. This is an evolution: a slow and steady way to intelligently re-evaluate your style one piece at a time’- Kendall Farr.

3 December 2009

My obsessive streak, or how my wardrobe is organised!

I am by nature a very analytical person, I have a maths degree, and have worked in an analytical/statistical role since graduating 7 years ago. I am definitely guilty of over thinking things, I love writing lists, organising and planning things, and am also a bit of a perfectionist. It’s perhaps not that surprising then that one of my favourite things to analyse, plan and organise is my wardrobe!

I have a system that I use to organise my wardrobe and the system is basically this: I think of my wardrobe as having two main elements, the first is my core wardrobe which is comprised of clothes, shoes and bags which are worn on a daily basis. This is further broken down into current season and out of season. The second element I consider to be ‘non core’ and this is comprised of:

*comfy clothes for wearing around the house
*sports/outdoor wear
*formal/occasional wear
*holiday/travel wear
*maternity wear
*work/office wear
*items to donate or sell
*items that I’m not sure about (I usually pack them away for 6 months, while I make up my mind)

(Usually, the work/office wear would be included as part of my core wardrobe since I’m at work everyday but seeing as I can’t fit into any of it and next year I will be off work this is currently in storage. The maternity wear is part of my core wardrobe at the minute, but this will also get packed away next year).

I find it helpful to maintain a list which looks at each element of my wardrobe, in this I list each item, flag up anything which needs tailoring, which I plan to cull, or which needs replacing etc. I also use this to identify any gaps, and keep a wishlist of things I plan to purchase. It probably seems unnecessary and far too time consuming to most people, but I find that it helps keep me accountable and keeps me from buying things which I don’t need.

Over the last few years I’ve really been conscious of trying to pare back and declutter my wardrobe. At first I started by just focusing on my core wardrobe, but I gradually realised that I was still ending up with bags full of unwanted clothes in the loft, or lurking in the wardrobe in our spare bedroom and I needed to look at everything. When I first began to seriously consider what was in my wardrobe a few years back I started with over 250 pieces of clothing, shoes, and bags. I found it was helpful to break things down into the categories listed above and to gradually assess what I could get rid of from each area. I also made a conscious effort to bring less into my life, which hasn’t always been easy at times. However, I’m pretty happy with the progress I’ve made and as it stands I currently have around 120 items in my wardrobe (both core and non core).

The focus of this blog is mainly on my core wardrobe, as the rest does not get as much use and remains fairly static. In the next few posts I plan to look at my core wardrobe for Autumn/Winter.

The way forward

Following on from my post entitled ‘Changes’ I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how I can move forward, avoid making the same mistakes, and work towards the goal of a wardrobe where:

*Everything is loved and well worn

*Nothing is superfluous to what I need

*Everything is right for me, and fits my style/lifestyle

*There is a clear theme and a feel of overall cohesiveness

So how do I achieve this……

1.) By identifying the mistakes that I’ve made in the past and not repeating them.

2.) By selling/donating clothes that aren’t right for me.

3.) By defining my personal style; identifying what themes I’m drawn to, thinking about what inspires me - self knowledge is key.

4.) By identifying what I actually spend my time doing and what clothes/shoes/accessories I need to be able to dress for my lifestyle.

5.) By slowly purchasing the items I need, and replacing items which have worn out/are about to wear out.

So this is the plan for 2010, I’ve decided that this is something that needs to be tackled slowly… a gradual process of shedding things which don’t work, making some acquisitions and replacements. I want to acquire things thoughtfully and gradually, I need to remember that it’s not a race. Hopefully by this time next year I will be much closer to my goal, and will be able to look back on the things I’ve purchased without any guilt. I’m not realistically expecting my wardrobe to be ‘perfect’, I think there will always be room for small improvements and subtle shifts and changes; I don’t ever want to stop and stagnate.

1 December 2009

Mulberry Bayswater bag - its mine!

Well after deliberating for nearly a week, I bought this bag today. I'm so in love with it, I can't wait to use it (I know its pathetic to get this excited about a handbag but I can't help myself!).

I can see it fitting in so seamlessly with all my existing clothes, I've been putting it together with various outfits in Polyvore and it really does add so much to them. I'm particularly taken with how well it goes with this A.P.C blouse that I've had my eye on for a while now....

A.P.C Prints

29 November 2009


This year has been a year of change and transition for me, and as a result I have felt my style has been in ‘limbo’ a lot of the time. Earlier this year I was made redundant from my job of 5 years, and have subsequently moved from working in the banking sector to public health. This year has also been challenging in other ways, I lost 2 very dear family members within the space of 3 months and my husband and I also suffered a few setbacks on our journey to parenthood. Not to imply that this year has all been doom and gloom, I love my new job and I’m now 28 weeks pregnant so things have definitely improved!

In terms of the impact all this transition and upheaval has had on my style, I feel like I started the year with a lot of focus, determined to try and stick with a ‘4-5 key pieces each season’ philosophy. I felt like I had my style all worked out, I planned out what I thought I would need for the year and was determined not to overspend and buy anything that I didn’t need. However, I quickly lost focus and made some poor decisions. Nothing catastrophic but I’ve wasted money and don’t really feel that it’s brought me any closer to the ideal of the minimalist wardrobe (see 2nd post).

I feel like my style started to move in a different direction this year….I moved from a formal to a casual working environment so I’ve been feeling a more casual vibe…..I bought converse, and plaid shirts, I introduced a new colour. I let myself become influenced by other bloggers who looked, hip, relaxed, casual etc etc and wanted that look too. Maybe its because its been a vulnerable, difficult time in my life and there was an element of needing transformation, of shedding the old and embracing the new? Perhaps there’s also been an element of feeling like I need a new identity now that I will be leaving full time work to look after a baby, that the ‘old me’ would somehow not work for my ‘new life’?

I think for me there is a very fine line between making subtle shifts, tweaking and fine tuning my style, and making additions to my wardrobe which enhance my style versus getting carried away, and feeling the urge to make complete transformations. I felt that this time last year I was really 'getting it', my look was becoming more consistent, I was making less mistakes, and that maybe I was finally starting to find my own style identity. I think that I'm back there again, I just got temporarily lost and sidetracked because of all the changes and upheaval going on in my life. Its interesting to see a couple of images I put together in polyvore this time last year, they still really resonate with me now, the colours, shapes and styles are still ones that I favour now (I would make a couple of small tweaks though).

Winter Capsule
Weekend in Paris

I appreciate that my style, and what I wear, will continually adjust and adapt with my lifestyle, but I want the essence of my style to remain consistent regardless of what is happening in my life. I’ve now taken a step back, and am nearing the end of a one month clothes shopping ban which has given me time to reflect on my mistakes and to plan the way forward. More on that later.

28 November 2009

Contemplating the uniform

I’m going to preface this with a warning that this post might not be very coherent, as its basically a brain dump of some things I’ve been thinking about for a while now.

I’m inexplicably drawn to the idea of a uniform; consistency is definitely something I aspire to in my personal style. It’s certainly something that I admire in other people, as it suggests confidence and self knowledge to me. Imagine being so satisfied with your look that you’re happy to repeat it every day? I also admire the ability to reject the superfluous, we are constantly bombarded with images, trends, new looks, latest must haves etc and I think it must take great willpower and discipline to be able to remain true to your look.

Here’s where I struggle with the concept, I’m a multi faceted person with lots of different aspects to my life, so it stands to reason that my clothes will reflect this. I can’t imagine one outfit that could work for every situation I find myself in, that would be appropriate for both the office and weekends. So for me I think the idea of a uniform is not about a mythical ‘perfect’ outfit that will work for every situation because in reality it won’t work for me, there has to be some flexibility there. Not many people can have a 100% focused, consistent and singular style because different situations and occasions require different types of outfits.

However, I think what’s important is to have some sort of common theme echoed in each outfit, so that there is a feeling of overall consistency, cohesiveness and uniformity. The common themes that I’m attracted to are clean lines, understatement, classics done in a modern way, a neutral, muted colour palette (grey/blue/white), masculinity with a hint of gamine, and a slouchy/sleek contrast. These themes can be reflected and interpreted in a number of different ways, and can be adapted for both casual and formal situations.

What I want to achieve is a uniformity of style, a feeling of consistency and cohesiveness.

Coat update

I tried the Whistles coat on yesterday and it unfortunately it doesn't work for my shape. Its too slouchy and blousy, I'm guessing this style was designed with someone much skinnier in mind. I have to be careful to avoid adding unneccessary bulk to the chest area so I need something with a more streamlined shape.

So far the Kew one seems to fit the bill, its a really neat shape which works well on my frame and for the price the fabric is lovely, 90% wool + 10% cashmere which makes it feel really soft and luxurious. I hate scratchy wool! The Paul and Joe coat is only 80% wool, blended with some synthetic fabric which is a bit offputting (especially considering that it costs upwards of £300!).

I'm currently on a 1 month long clothes buying ban so think I'll orderthe Kew coat next Tues when the ban ends!

27 November 2009

Grey Coat - Change of Plan

Yet another change of plan! I’ve decided against replacing my grey wool coat, and am instead considering replacing my navy wool coat. I bought my grey coat in 2006, its single breasted, with metal buttons and a funnel neck. It’s a really sleek shape, with fairly minimal detailing on it, and after some alterations at the tailor (my fantastic Aunt in law!) to adjust the length, I think it’s a really flattering shape for me.

At the time I had a more limited budget, and hadn’t quite embraced the quality over quantity mantra, I recall that this purchase felt like quite an investment for me! Looking back at the majority of the other clothes I purchased that year, its clear that I didn’t really have any kind of definitive style, I didn’t know myself particularly well, and as a result I made a lot of random purchases and lots of mistakes. So the fact that I still love this coat, and wear it 4 years on is quite the miracle. (As an aside, I have kept a record of every item I’ve bought starting in 2006 and it makes fascinating reading. I think my crazy shopping habits deserve a post of their own though so I’ll come back to this later!).

So back to my grey coat, I still love it and get a lot of wear out of it, and despite a little bit of wear to the wool on the inner sleeves, I think I can probably get at least another years wear out of it. My navy coat on the other hand is still in pretty good condition as I’ve only had it for 2 years but I’m not keen on the style, it feels too ladylike and ‘twee’ and isn’t really in keeping with the look I’m trying to achieve these days. Something that’s been on my wishlist for the last year or so is a wool peacoat, as inspired by the lovely Michelle Williams, so now I’m leaning towards buying one in navy.

I’ve put together three that I like in Polyvore, so far I’ve only been able to try one of these on (Kew – bottom left) and I hope to try the Whistles (top left) one on today. Not sure if I will be able to try the Paul and Joe (bottom right) one on, but I will keep it in mind if neither of the others work.

Posting potential purchases on this blog is really helping me to slow down and stop and consider whether I really need it. If I really want to achieve a minimalist wardrobe, where every item is loved and well worn then this how it needs to be from now on, no more rash, impulsive decisions.

25 November 2009

Grey Bag - Change of Plan

Well the Modalu bag I ordered arrived yesterday and although the shape and style is perfect, the colour is really off. Not quite the grey I was expecting, unfortunately it has quite a khaki/greenish tinge to it which is very offputting. Thats the risk of online shopping though.
So, I'm now considering the oversized bayswater clutch in grey suede as an alternative. I went to the Mulberry store today and was able to try it out for size (in black patent unfortunately as they are sold out in grey). Although its labelled a clutch, it does come with the perfect length strap which fits really snugly on my shoulder, god knows if anyone would actually carry this bag as a clutch as its really quite substantial. I fell in love with the soft squashy suede on the spot, and from a practical point of view I love how its roomy without being bulky, and has plenty of useful pockets.

The store are going to see if they can find one in stock anywhere, which gives me some time to have a think about it. Fingers crossed they manage to find one!

24 November 2009

Wise words

‘Minimalism is not about abandoning pattern or print. I see minimalism to be a philosophy that involves an overall sense of balance, knowing when to take away, subtract. It’s an indulgence in superbly executed cut, quiet plays of colour tones and clean strong shapes’.

Calvin Klein.

20 November 2009

Potential Purchase: Grey Bag

This is the bag that I'm considering ordering, the Modalu Chadwick shoulder bag in slate from this site :

I originally saw it on the john lewis site for £95 but after looking around found it on the above site £20 cheaper and with a free wallet worth £35. Ilike the fact that it can be carried both ways, as I like the option to wear bags across my body. The biggest selling point for me is that the detailing is minimal and the logo is fairly discreet, I hate ostentatious bags! The quality of the pic on the website is not great so I'll be interested to see what the quality/colour of the leather is like when it arrives. I think I'm talking myself into buying it!

19 November 2009

Making progress

I returned a bag today which I was ambiguous about, it had been sat in my wardrobe for the last couple of weeks whilst I tried to decide whether I wanted to keep it. Now that the bag has been returned and my decision has been made I can see that the bag was in no way the right purchase and I would pretty shortly have come to regret buying it. So why can’t I see this immediately, and why didn’t I return it as soon as I received the bag and realised it wasn’t what I wanted?

I think my problem is that I settle and make do too easily, I nearly talked myself into keeping this bag because it was practical and fulfilled about half of the criteria I had for this bag purchase. BUT, the bag in question had leather that was aged and crackly looking and was not the colour I wanted, it also had an unappealing gathered design feature on one side of the bag. Here’s the criteria so that I can use it as a reminder to myself for future purchases:

*Must be able to be worn across the body, or sit comfortably on shoulder
*Must have internal pockets for phone, lipgloss etc
*Mustn’t be too large as I already have 2 large bags
*Must be grey or dark grey in colour (no hint of brown/blue/purple)
*The leather must be smooth and not ‘crackly’ or vintage looking
*The bag must have minimal detail, I’m not interested in features such as buckles, chains etc. The sleeker the better.

I think another part of the problem is that I get very specific ideas of what I want/need in my wardrobe, and after a few months of searching desperation kicks in, and I make stupid decisions. I feel like I’ve made progress today by returning the bag and not settling for second best. Rereading my second post about a perfect wardrobe, I feel like I might be somewhat closer to this ideal.

Next time I’ll post the bag I’m considering ordering, so far it seems to be pretty much exactly what I’m looking for but its always hard to tell when making a purchase online.

16 November 2009

Potential Purchase: Wool Coat

I currently have this beautiful Vanessa Bruno Athe coat in my basket at Yoox and am very tempted to buy it. My current charcoal wool coat is now in its 3rd winter and starting to look slightly tired and worn, so I have been thinking of investing in a new coat for next winter. I love how stark it is, it has such a clean silhouette. I can see this working with so many different outfits and blending seamlessly into my wardrobe. Hmm, I need to mull this one over for a little while longer, I try not to rush into what I consider 'investment pieces'.

19 June 2009

The Perfect Wardrobe

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of creating the perfect wardrobe.

Everyone will have their own interpretation of what perfect means to them, but for me its one where:

*Every item in my wardrobe is loved and well worn

*I have no hesitation in wearing the clothes in my wardrobe because they are right for me, and fit my style/lifestyle
*I never feel a twinge of guilt when I open my wardrobe because there are no expensive mistakes lurking in there
*There is a clear theme running through every item in my wardrobe, and a feel of overall cohesiveness
*There is nothing in my wardrobe which is superfluous to what I need.

In essence, I want to create a minimalist wardrobe which is stripped to its bare essentials, but still delivers everything I need from it. (To clarify – by ‘wardrobe’ I’m not referring to a place to store clothes, but rather the range of clothes that I own).

To do this successfully, I need to hone and define my style, and really drill down to what I like and what works for me. I want to have a clear overall vision of my style, so there is a common theme running through it and a feeling of cohesiveness. I think that I’m about 75% there right now, but there is still room for improvement and some further work.

14 May 2009

What its all about...


……….anything which is spare or stripped to its essentials.

……….a simplicity of style achieved by using a few very simple elements to maximum effect.