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.