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