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!


  1. happy new year :) now that you've made what seems like a pretty comprehensive set of ground rules, i hope you have fun shopping. did you get that cardigan in the end? i thought it was beautiful.

    my one shopping lesson so far is that if i have to agonise over something, i probably shouldn't get it.

  2. Thanks, happy new year to you too! I can't wait to do some shopping, especially for new jeans, but I need to wait until after the baby is born and I get back to a normal weight first(whatever that might be!).

    You wouldn't believe how tempting its been to buy things in the sales and put them away until I can fit into them. Sometimes logic and common sense are overridden by the urge to shop!

    I got that cardigan just after christmas, its been a great purchase so far. Its perfect for now, and will get lots of wear in the spring too.

    Thats a very good lesson to bear in mind, I think that if you're not sure about something theres usually a reason for it. That said, I'm incredibly indecisive so agonising over a purchase can be quite a normal part of the buying process for me. I do love that feeling when you know something is 'just right' though.

  3. Bravo! It's as if you crawled inside my mind and found all of the words. Here's a thought I have carried into the New Year (read on another blog)..."stop frittering". I love that phrase and shout it to myself when tempted to buy something on-line. The wasteful spending adds up to the one beautiful item you really do want to purchase. Happy New Year and thank you for the reinforcement!

  4. I too love classic pieces, but worn in a modern way. (I think this is especially key for people that do the vintage thing so it doesn't look like costume).
    For work, I find it easier to stick to a limited color palette: black, white, grey, navy, and creams.
    I find myself gravitating to "easy pieces." Things that don't require fuss, actual ironing (i use a steamer), and are versatile.
    I like to think I've become more particular with shopping. I'm not going to settle for "Almosts", it's better to hold out for something Perfect. The Almosts end up being a waste since I end up getting rid of them after a few months.

  5. Your writing makes me see everything in front of my eyes. I know that's the effect writing is supposed to have, but it's rather rare nowadays. Lovely read.

  6. Itztru - happy new year! I'm going to do a post on resolutions for 2010 but 'stop frittering' will be on there, its so true those small purchases very quickly add up.
    h - sounds like we share some style similarities. I'm getting better at shopping but still sometimes find it hard to make the distinction between the 'almosts' and perfection. Those 'easy pieces' are what I need to work on building on this year.
    Eva - thanks so much for your kind words, glad you enjoyed reading.