30 September 2010

Wardrobe Challenge Days 6-10

Well, my little wardrobe project is over and although I thought I would be breathing a sigh of relief, I have to say I've enjoyed it. A few observations are:

-I didn't find it restricting and I didn't really feel myself becoming bored with the 10 pieces I'd picked out. For the most part I was very happy with the 10 items I selected, although I could have done with a warmer jacket on a few days - its definitely time to get my wool coats out of storage now.
-Looking at the polyvore sets, what strikes me is how boring all my outfits look! But realistically my day to day life doesn't require much more than a tee and jeans and I'm fooling myself by thinking otherwise. I think being honest with myself about what I actually need and what I feel comfortable wearing will mean I'll make less mistakes in the future.
-On 6 days out of the 10, I wore the same tee (I have one in dark grey and one in navy) but suprisingly I never got tired of it. I recently took my 3 old stripy tee's out of circulation (saved for slobbing about the house!) none of which were quite perfect, and replaced them with the two tee's mentioned above which are perfect in every way - fit, colour etc. It really does make all the difference to wear something and be 100% happy with it.
-It has totally reinforced my view that having only a few really well chosen pieces is so much better than having lots of 'almost/maybe' buys. I hope I can continue to keep this in mind when I'm tempted to settle.
-I really relied on my scarves and jewellery to add a bit of interest to my outfits. I've always felt a bit guilty whenever I purchase a new scarf (which I tend to do every season) but its such an easy way to change the look of an outfit and for me I think they are real staples in my wardrobe.
-Even though I was trying not to think of shopping, I did identify a few gaps in my wardrobe. I need a new pair of straight leg jeans as mine (2 years old now) are fine for wearing casually with converse but I prefer a smarter, darker wash in winter. I also noticed that I still find it really hard to dress for those inbetween occasions, not formal, but not totally casual either. I feel like I need one or two tops (not tees), I have lots of basics but really need something a little bit more interesting.

Overall its been quite satisfying to do this little challenge, and I think I've learned a lot from it.

28 September 2010

Musings on being chic

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it is to be chic. I should first of all try to clarify what I mean by chic, as you can interpret this word in many different ways. What I'm getting at, for want of a better expression, is that 'je ne sais quoi' that some people possess. It isn't present because of what they're wearing, although that certainly contributes to it, I think its something that you either have or don't have... something innate. I'm not sure you can even really quantify or define what makes someone chic but its easy to identify it visually and for me the person that most embodies what I'm trying to get at here is Sofia Coppola. In a simple shirt and jeans, wearing little make up she exudes chic. Another person that springs to mind is Audrey Hepburn, and not neccessarily in Breakfast at Tiffany's, but in photos I've seen of her she had such an inner radiance that shines out, and I think her style trancends time.

I've noticed over the years that regardless of my outfit, the makeup I've applied or the way I've styled my hair - there is always something lacking. I'm not trying to be negative here and I'm in no way looking for compliments or reassurance, I'm just being honest. The thing that sparked off this train of thought was observing a woman dressed in black cigarette pants, black ballet flats, a trench, leopard scarf and tan handbag. The elements were chic, but the whole ensemble seemed to me to be almost a caricature of chicness. She looked as if she had copied all the advice from a style guide imploring you to 'buy these and you will look chic' (I hope this doesn't come across as judgemental as I actually own a number of books like these and have made this mistake myself). I think I was just a little surprised to observe someone wearing such typically chic clothes but not actually looking chic. I think I always thought that if only I had the right clothes, that magic combination of items, that I would instantly look 'perfect'. I also naively thought that I could replicate a look I saw on someone else if I owned the same pieces, but you could put two people in the exact same outfit and it would work on one person and not on the other.

In some ways it is quite freeing to realise that maybe its something you either have or don't have, that maybe I have been striving for something which will never be attainable? Or maybe its to do with confidence and attitude, feeling at ease, being comfortable in your own skin?

I'm not sure that I'm making myself clear here, but the point that I'm trying to make was summed up so much more eloquently in this blog post if you're interested in reading. I'm pretty sure everyone has their own version of what chic means to them, I'd be very interested to hear whether you agree that being chic is something innate that you are born with - or if you think it can be achieved through your external appearance ie. clothes etc?

25 September 2010

Wardrobe Challenge Days 1-5

Here's a look at what I have been wearing for the first few days of this little challenge. (Day 5 was exactly the same as day 4!) A few observations to note:

- I'm enjoying the lack of choice so far, I'm finding a sense of freedom almost in having such a limited selection, if that makes sense?
- So far I have been happy to repeat outfits, and in 5 days I wore the same t shirt and cardigan 3 times! I was seeing different groups of people which helped, I wouldn't feel comfortable doing this at work when I see the same group of people everyday.
- Its made me realise how messy/clumsy I am and I have had to do more washing than usual, in fact I don't think I have any clean clothes left for tomorrow!
- I was very tempted to cheat today, I was meeting a friend for lunch and didn't feel that any of my 10 items were smart enough so I added a necklace and wore heels which somewhat redeemed my boring jeans and tee.
- Unfortunately it hasn't stopped me thinking about what I need to add to my wardrobe, and if anything wearing my 2 pairs of jeans (1 skinny, 1 very old straight leg pair) has convinced me that I need a new pair! I have also failed miserably at not online browsing, although I haven't bought anything. Oh well, baby steps eh.

I'll post an update shortly on how the final 5 days have gone.

20 September 2010

Wardrobe Challenge Update - 10 Pieces, 10 Days

Following on from my post last week I've been giving this some thought and have decided for the next 10 days I will limit myself to wearing only 10 pieces of clothing. I've included one jacket in this total but not included shoes, scarves or jewellery. I've also left out a bag because I usually just throw my purse, lipgloss and phone into the baby changing bag I carry for Ella. The pieces I've decided on are below:

As Itztru pointed out, living out of a suitcase for the last week helped me to clarify the items that I'm most drawn to, so I found it pretty easy to pick my 10 items. I noticed that I felt most comfortable in a variation of tee, jeans and cardigan. Its definitely reaffirmed for me that despite loving shirts on other people, I don't feel comfortable in them and will nearly always pick a t shirt over a shirt.

I've decided to only do this for 10 days (I may extend this though), which doesn't seem like long but I'm hoping that this will be long enough to prove to myself that I am happy with limited variety and that I don't need more than a few, good quality basics in my wardrobe. I've also decided to stop buying clothes for a while, maybe till the end of October. I'll probably post polyvore sets of what I wear each day as I think it will be helpful for me to look back on it and will act as reinforcement that I don't need to buy more.

Right now its day 2 of this little project and I'm looking forward to getting dressed and only having a few things to pick from.

11 September 2010

Wardrobe Challenge

Lately I seem to be seeing lots of references to the 'six items or less' experiment on various websites and blogs and have been giving it some thought recently. The idea behind it is that you limit yourself to only 6 items of clothing for one month, more can be found about it here: http://sixitemsorless.com/the-project/

I'm drawn to the idea of setting myself a challenge like this but don't think I could restrict myself this much to be honest, I feel like 10 items would be more reasonable. The original point of my blog was the concept of creating a minimalist wardrobe, stripped to the essentials, with every item in there being loved and well worn. Well I can't say that I'm there yet (and maybe I never will be!?) and I often find myself wanting to add more to my wardrobe, without fully appreciating what I do own. Logically I know that there is only so much I an wear at any one time - if I already have 3 pairs of jeans why do I need another? I guess there is just so much temptation out there, and I sometimes find it hard to resist. So I've decided that as well as limiting myself to 10 items I will take a break from shopping for a month too (and by this I also mean online browsing which is a very bad habit of mine and leads to the feelings of 'I need more' in the first place).

I haven't clarified 100% what I hope to achieve by setting myself this challenge but I think mainly I want to take a step back from it all for a month. I hope that I can prove to myself that it is possible to live with only 10 items of clothes and still look ok, and feel happy with my outfits and that I don't need more. In fact I think sometimes the more you have = more stress, more time spent choosing outfits, finding places to store it and feeling guilt that it doesn't get worn that often.

I'm going on holiday for a week today so will have a think about my 10 items and some ground rules and also try to clarify what I hope to achieve with this challenge. You'll have to excuse me if this post is slightly incoherent - I haven't slept well and am rushing to try and get this written so I can finish packing!

Thanks for reading, V x

6 September 2010

Wardrobe Updates for Autumn/Winter

For a long time I've been a follower of the 4-5 piece French wardrobe thread on the fashion spot, which advocates adding only a few key pieces to your wardrobe each season. Despite my best intentions I nearly always end up buying more than I really need and there are usually a few things that I regret purchasing (this summer has been a case in point but more on that later). This time I am determined to make this the season where I actually follow the 4/5 pieces principle, which in theory should be reasonably easy as there isn't too much that I need for the coming months. Because I knew money would be tighter this year, I invested a bit more last winter - I replaced my winter coat for a dark grey wool/cashmere peacoat from Hobbs, and I also bought a couple of sweaters from John Smedley, and 2 cardigans from Paul and Joe Sister. My boots were falling apart after 4 years so I replaced these with some dark grey ones from Aldo, I also splurged on a beautiful Mulberry handbag in grey suede.

What I've added to my wardrobe so far this season has been a short sleeved tunic sweater from Vanessa Bruno Athe, which admittedly was a complete impusle buy (not off to a great start so far!). I've also added a day dress, which there was definitely a gap in my wardrobe for as I only have one casual dress. I bought some dark denim skinny ankle length jeans by James Jeans, although not 100% what I was looking for, they fit perfectly and I've already worn them lots. I find buying jeans really stressful, of all the things that I'm likely to make a mistake with its jeans and I have bought countless pairs only to find they bag out after 1 wear. I also ventured slightly out of my comfort zone (grey, navy and white) and bought some dark purple patent shoes, and a printed wool scarf as I wanted something to add a bit of interest to my grey outfits. I may be cheating slightly here as I've chosen not to count the scarf (its not technically clothes!) so I reckon this leaves room for one more, which is going to either be a dark grey wool skirt or pair of trousers.

29 August 2010

Back to blogging

Well hello to anyone who is reading this after a massive 7 month blogging break. I do have a good excuse though - our beautiful baby girl, Eleanor Rose who arrived 15 days late on March 5th weighing a very healthy 9 ibs 11 oz! I can't resist uploading a couple of pictures, one taken at 6 weeks old and the second at 6 months.

And now enough baby talk and back to the original point of this blog! I feel like my goals and intentions with regards to my wardrobe have fallen somewhat by the wayside this year, after making some initial progress. I feel like I need to regroup and make my intentions for the coming season clear via this blog as it really keeps me accountable and will hopefully get me back on the right track. I really valued the opinions and thoughts of everyone who took the time to comment on my blog last year and found it so helpful to have this space to write about everything. I have plenty of posts lined up, such as wishlists for the coming season, an update on my style resolutions, some more lessons learnt and a potential shopping ban over the next few weeks.
Thanks for reading, Victoria.

17 January 2010

Spring Palette

I really love the mix of shades in the photos below.......beige, nude, white, navy, sky blue and grey = perfection. I think it will make a great base for a spring wardrobe.

From here:

Both from here:

Both from here:

16 January 2010

Style Resolutions 2010

This year, for the first time in a long time, I haven't made any new years resolutions. As someone who loves writing lists of any kind, and loves planning and setting myself challenges and goals, this is pretty unusual for me. However with the imminent arrival of our first baby, I think my main resolution this year will echo the war time motto to 'keep calm and carry on'. I don't think this is really the time for learning a new language, changing career, taking a road trip around america (all have featured on previous years lists!). I just want to enjoy my time off work with our new baby as much as possible, and try not to set my expectations too high.

That said, I can't resist an excuse to make a list so I figured I might make some style resolutions for the coming year. These are all in addition to my goals which I've written about before on the blog, to do with creating a minimalist wardrobe. So here are my style resolutions for 2010:
  • Don't overthink things. This will be difficult for me, seeing as I am an overly analytical person by nature, but I want getting dressed to be more effortless this year. I get fixated on the small details sometimes but I want to try and achieve a better balance this year and be more relaxed about what I wear without compromising or settling. I think that once I get to the stage where I love everything in my wardrobe then this will be much easier as I won't have to compromise by wearing things I'm not happy with or comfortable in.
  • Be braver. This is an extension of the above resolution - I want to trust my instincts more and stop second guessing myself. I know what styles I like and what works for me, and I need to stop worrying about what other people think of me. An extension of this is that I want to stop being so critical of myself and be more accepting, I also want to have more confidence in, and stop doubting myself when it comes to style.
  • Don't settle. This is something that I've been guilty of doing in the past although recently I have definetely improved on this. This year I want to become more discerning, and only buy something if I love it. My budget will be restricted this year so I really need to think long and hard about each purchase, there's no room for the 'almosts' or 'maybes', I want perfection.
  • Define/Refine my style. I think that I'm nearly there with this, but I can easily get sidetracked by outside influences and other peoples style and want to adopt it as my own. I realise that personal style doesn't exist in a vacuum and inevitably it will be shaped by external influences, but '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 transformation' (repeated from a post last year).
  • Finally, get a pixie cut. I want to go from this (my current, rather boring hairstyle):

To something like this (photo of Carey Mulligan from Google Images):

Update: I can now tick this one off the list as I've just had my hair cut into a similar style as the one above! I think it will take a little time to get used to it, but so far I like it.

8 January 2010

Lessons learnt - what works and what doesn’t

I thought for my first post of the new year, it would be a good idea to list some things I’ve learnt about myself and my style over the last decade.

*I get fixated on small details, white t shirts need to be exactly the right thickness (not see through), sweaters have to sit perfectly on top of jeans (I hate when the outline of a waistband shows through), a v neck has to show exactly the right amount of skin, trousers have to have the right fastening (single button, no flap). I’m in the process of working out what details are important to me through trial and error, and a lot of expensive mistakes.

*I wear a lot of basics, I don’t have much of what would be considered ‘statement pieces’. With basics there’s nothing to detract from the fit, or the quality of the fabric, so its important for the foundations to be right. Jeans and trousers are an area where I typically get this wrong, I need to make some replacements this coming year and hope to find the holy grail - the perfect pair of jeans.

*I have to feel physically comfortable in what I’m wearing. I admire people that can wear heels, but personally I’d take flats any day. I love shirts but don’t wear them that often because I find them quite restricting, I also dislike belts for this reason. Oh and layering too, a cardigan/sweater over a vest/t shirt is fine but anything more than this makes me feel like I’m wearing a strait jacket. Either this or I end up continually fussing with and rearranging my clothes.

*The length of tops is very important. I’ve learnt what length suits me, too long and I look stumpy and dwarf like (I have short legs!) and too short is just all wrong for a variety of reasons. The best length for me is just past hip length.

*I can’t do excessive volume, I love tulip skirts, cocoon coats, and loose tunic dresses but they very rarely work for me. Like everybody, my body shape sometimes restricts what I wear and unfortunately this style really does nothing for my shape. Whilst it is important to continue to try new things, sometimes you just have to accept that certain things will not be flattering.

*I’m not comfortable wearing anything that is overtly sexy, its not an image that I want to project to people. Stylists on tv (gok wan, trinny and susannah etc) always seem to dress people with my body shape in skin tight pencil skirts, with tight satin blouses, waist belts and peep toe high heels, as if the sexy secretary look is the only way to look good. For me sexiness is in the small, subtle details……. a flash of ankle, a delicate silver necklace, subtle makeup, freshly washed hair, layering beautiful scents etc.

*Looking good takes effort, thoughtfulness and planning. I doubt this is the case for everybody, it seems like some people can get away with throwing clothes on and they look quirky and eclectic – I would just look like I got dressed in the dark. I don’t mean effort in the sense of spending hours a day getting ready (I’m pretty low maintenance), but in laying the ground work, finding out what works, searching out the perfect pieces to build and maintain a wardrobe that works for your lifestyle.

*I can’t wear anything even remotely ‘edgy’. A combination of my English rose complexion (pale skin and rosy cheeks) and body shape (petite and curvy) means that I will always look like I’m faking it. I can’t comprehend the amount of times that I’ve been foolish enough to try and replicate looks that I’ve seen on other people, and then wondered why it doesn’t work. I would like to say that I’m completely past making this mistake again, but I find it hard sometimes in knowing when to say no.

*I always seem to come back to the classics, I find that I have to be careful going down this route though as I don’t want to look dated. For example, I like pearls, and I like cardigans, but I never want to enter ‘twinset and pearls’ territory. They have to be worn in a modern way, like a slouchy v neck cardigan and small pearl stud earrings. I love looking at pictures of stylish people from different decades and seeing how much some things still resonate today, Jean Seberg, Audrey Hepburn, Francoise Hardy…their style transcends time.

*The silhouettes that work best for me are quite sleek and pared down; I like clean, simple lines and I dislike too much detail or print. The cut of a piece of clothing is so important, it has to drape right and the balances and proportions have to be perfect.

*Colour and texture are equally important for me, successfully mixing colours and textures can really elevate something beyond the bland and non descript. Cotton, wool, suede, patent and matte silk are all favourites. I love when cotton becomes so worn, that it almost feels like silk against your skin.

*I generally stick to a limited colour palette, I don’t have a natural eye for combining colours so it makes getting dressed easier. My wardrobe consists almost exclusively of items in blue, navy, grey, white or beige. I don’t find it restricting in any way, and it helps keep me focused when I’m shopping. I really dislike ambiguous colours, and I hate the recent trend for naming things ‘mushroom’ and ‘midnight’ it makes online shopping so much harder!