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'.