The last instalment of my bump dressing series is just a basic rundown of some of the things I’ve bought and loved so far during my pregnancy.
When I was about 16 weeks pregnant, I ordered a bunch of maternity clothes from ASOS (upon the helpful advice of blogs around me) only to be disappointed with each and every single item when it finally arrived in the mail. Everything was so ill-fitting – t-shirts didn’t sit properly, dresses swamped me, the fabric was so cheap and nasty, and everything was so unflattering (granted, buying things sight unseen without trying them on first didn’t help). That pretty much signalled the first and last time I’d be shopping for maternity wear, and I’ve since had much more luck finding non-maternity clothes to fit this growing bump of mine. Go figure, right?
Overall, I’ve found shopping for new clothes when pregnant to be a time-consuming and frustrating exercise. I used to buy over three-quarters of my clothes online but with my body changing every day, it has since thwarted any attempt to conveniently shop for clothes from the comfort of my bed. My options are a lot more narrower these days too (i.e. no jumpsuits – oh how I miss jumpsuits! No zippered-anything and no more seams at the waist, which accounts for 90% of clothes in shops right now). I also shop with post-partum/nursing in mind; buying clothes that I’d happily wear (and fit back into) after the baby comes. For the most part, it’s been a massive exercise in trial and error; I’ve been shopping anywhere and everywhere – which has allowed me to discover brands and styles I never really thought to consider pre-pregnancy.
So I thought this little list of loves that I’ve personally bought and wear will help some of you in a similar predicament, especially if you’re still intent on shopping online. I still am – but I have to be particularly choosy with certain fabrics and styles.
Cut to the basics first though and this is where ‘maternity wear’ has proved immensely useful:
Berlei Barely There Cotton Rich Maternity Bra – 100% soft cotton, gives a nice natural shape and most importantly, it’s non-underwire. It also doubles as a nursing bra so you’re killing two birds with one stone here – and yes, for the mums out there, the nursing clip can definitely undo with one hand. I had to start buying new bras at around 2 months along because that’s when my boobs started growing uncontrollably and I was wearing exclusively underwire at the time which I heard isn’t the best when pregnant. These particular Berlei bras are the best – they’re SO comfortable that I can even sleep in them (I actually hate wearing bras with a passion, normally). Myer tends to have good sales on Berlei from time to time so I would pick them up then.
SRC Pregnancy Leggings – I deliberated over these for the longest time because they’re so expensive and I knew I was going to buy the Recovery shorts for after birth too (so for both it ends up being back breakingly expensive). Because SRC items are all medically approved, you can actually claim a rebate back if you have private health and your policy (usually it’s top hospital) covers items like these. I have mid-hospital only so I can’t claim anything back on these leggings.
At about 22-23 weeks along though, I started to grow out of my old Nike leggings (I had been wearing these over the bump too, which was getting increasingly uncomfy as the belly was growing). But because my body has allowed me to keep pretty active throughout this pregnancy (I do boxing, pilates and walking each week), I thought it’d be worthwhile getting the SRC ones.
I managed to snag a pair in good condition off ebay for around $80 though, which leaves me with some pennies left over for the Recovery shorts which I plan to buy brand new (just a personal preference here). I’ve been wearing the Pregnancy leggings for a couple of weeks now and love them. They’re as comfortable and practical as everyone says – they’re literally made for pregbots. From about 25 weeks onwards, I have also gotten the odd pain in the pubic region so I’ve been wearing these around the house when I’m feeling achey – the anatomical panels really help to alleviate the pain. The quality is excellent (I’ve been through my fair share of compression/workout leggings over the years) and the best part is that the waist is adjustable to fit a growing belly. Sizing can be tricky (based off measurements I was in between an XS and S) so I opted for the S and I’m currently wearing the leggings on the smallest waist adjustment. Another reason I wish I was pregnant in winter – these leggings are definitely good enough to wear out and about and not just for working out! If I had my time over, I would have purchased these leggings earlier on in my pregnancy and not bothered with jeans or any other maternity tights.
Topshop Maternity Jeans – some people swear by J Brand, but I swear by Topshop. I couldn’t justify shelling out $300+ on a pair of mat jeans I couldn’t try on in store before buying, so spending $70 at Topshop where I could try it on was perfect enough for me. I love love love them. My favourite styles are the Jamie and the Leigh, with the latter more “jegging” like and the Jamie being more thicker and more denim-like. I’ve got 3 pairs – I bought the Leigh black ones instore and once I knew my size, I hopped online to buy these Jamie ones and a mid-blue Leigh pair (Perth Topshop doesn’t have a huge range of mat jeans). Sizing-wise, I’m an 8 in these. It’s best to get these realllyyy snug as they do stretch with wear. I love that they have the usual five pocket styling and look like jeans until you see the elastic waist. Plus, I personally find under-bump jeans a lot more comfortable.
A lovely reader of mine also emailed me recently and after we got chatting about finding stylish clothes to wear during pregnancy, she introduced me to a brand called Storq from the U.S. I LOVE their style and branding and philosophy and they seem to do really good basics for us pregnant ladies. I haven’t placed an order or anything (yet!) but I thought I’d mention it here just in case any of you are in the market for chic maternity essentials. The bundles also make such a thoughtful gift idea for friends who have a little bun in the oven!
I’ve been living in T by Alexander Wang and Bassike.
I love love love the t-shirt dresses from T by AW, they’ve been perfect for my bump.The Classic Jersey Mini Dress is my fave (I ordered an M), but the Jersey Maxi Dress would be perfect too if you’re into the more maxi lengths. I find The Outnet has the best prices so it pays to check back weekly for stock updates. Shopbop also has the Classic dress in black and charcoal (I tend to get more wear out of these colours) for reasonable prices.
As for Bassike, my favourite styles so far have been the Stripe Boxy T-Shirt Dress and the Tank Dress II to get me through the long hot Perth summer. The long sleeved styles are also great for cooler weather. Bassike is cut big by the way – I’m a XS or S at most right now in Bassike (and I’m taking a size 12-14 normally!).
Basics from Sportsgirl and Cotton On have also been high on my radar when I can’t afford to be spending $100 on a dress each week. I especially love these tank dresses from Sportsgirl – I have this grey and black one in like 3 or 4 different sizes (XS and S for more dressy occasions and M to L for more casual days). They have a really nice, worn-in cotton feel and are so so comfy – a nice departure from all the fitted bodycon stuff. I’ve been wearing them underneath leather jackets and lightweight trench coats. The black looks especially dressy if you wear them with heels at night!
Probably more suited to hot weather, but I’ve been living in Bassike organic cotton tank tops and shorts lately. My faves are the Stripe Jersey Beach Short (they run large, I’m an XS) in black and stripe. I’ve been trying to scour the David Jones sales racks for Bassike and managed to pick up things at 50% off, so I’d head there first.
Viktoria + Woods are also great for good quality basics. I love the Dux skirt as well as the rest of their range. Again, David Jones sales are your best friend.
Honestly, the trick here is to look anywhere and everywhere. Stick to stretchy fabrics if possible and if there’s lining underneath the dress, make sure it’ll fit your growing bump too. My favourite styles are shift dresses (they fit a bump perfectly). I also recently purchased the Belize dress by Totême and it’s the most amazing, incredible, comfortable dress for summer (that also looks great if you’re not pregnant!). It’s very resort-style but I’m going to try and make it work for evening events. I purchased an emerald one from The Outnet but I love that navy version from NAP (it’s probably a more wearable colour anyway).
I’ve also been browsing designer consignment stores in Perth and although it’s hit and miss, I’ve managed to come away with a few gorgeous bump-friendly drapey silk dresses by Willow and One Fell Swoop (perfect for pregnant bridesmaids too!). I’ve had some success at Ellery too with this gorgeous dress (but in black) which I nabbed on sale a while back at DJs. Scanlan & Theodore, Zimmermann and Sass and Bide are also great too, but if you’re like me – not so much for the bank account.
A few other random things
I’ve been wanting try this off-shoulder poplin top from Hello Parry because I’m me and don’t want to spend $400 on the Tibi version.
I’ve found Seed incredibly accommodating and perfect for us pregbots – so much elastic waist everything! Hallelujah.
My Cecilie Copenhagen two-piece set is one of my favourite things to wear right now. Elastic waist shorts and a trapeze top – couldn’t ask for much more than that. This dress and this dress are the perfect bump-friendly pieces too – they got me through the first and most of second trimester. Parlour X has a great range and if you’re in Perth, you can buy/try them on at Adam Heath in Claremont.
In terms of swimwear, I stumbled across this one at Topshop recently even though it’s been the furtherest thing from my mind. I’ve never been one to wear a bikini and I definitely wouldn’t be confident enough to be seen out in public in one now that I’ve gained a gazillion kilos so this one-piece with scalloped edging is the way to go for me this summer. I had to size up to a 14 in this though just so it stretches over my torso!
In a random spurt of DIY, I bought this Country Road sleeveless wool/cashmere longline jacket a couple of months ago and turned it into a double breasted tuxedo dress (like the one Eva Chen wore recently). As always it turned out to be a little more involved than I thought (having to buy extra buttons and guess how much I should accommodate for my bump) but the end result was good enough. I don’t know for how much longer it’ll fit me (sad face…) so I’ll try and snapchat it when I get a chance (my username is agirlnamedmish) if you’d like to have a squiz.
For everything else, I’ve been making do with whatever is left in my wardrobe that still fits. From about 14 weeks onwards (when I felt less anxious about my pregnancy going to full term) I separated all my clothes and pulled out all the items that I could still wear to make a ‘pregnancy capsule wardrobe’ of sorts. I dedicated a rack to these clothes so it was easy for me to see at a glance what options I had left and what gaps I needed filling to get me through the next nine months. I loved doing this actually as it also uncovered things I haven’t worn in a while but I could still wear when pregnant. It was also getting way too depressing trying stuff on and not being able to fit into them any more, so out of sight (and out of mind) they went.
See Part 1 and Part 2 of my bump dressing series for a little more gasbagging on my pregnancy wardrobe!
This time of year for me has always called for simplicity, lightness, and uncomplicated essentials for a timeless summer wardrobe.
I was recently asked to style Country Road’s new jewellery collection together with a few high summer essentials that I recently purchased. The beautiful linear, geometric, and clean simplicity of the jewellery paired perfectly with what I plan to be wearing over the next few months: oversized oxford shirts and silk dresses, androgynous slides, a pair of classic sunglasses, and a brimmed hat.
We all know by now it actually takes a lot of effort to look effortless, so I’ve come up with my five go-to tips as a thoughtfully devised guide to a minimal and chic summer wardrobe:
1. KEEP IT SIMPLE + SIMILAR
Refine your style by wearing only one or two pieces of jewellery, and in a similar aesthetic. Here, I’ve paired a maximum of two or three pieces for any one outfit. I don’t mind mixing and matching metals but when it comes to jewellery on the hands and wrists, I always tend to stick to either silver or gold, not both at the same time or on the same hand. I love the way these Country Road pieces embody new relevance and character whilst still staying true to a pared-back aesthetic.
2. A STUDY IN PROPORTION + POISE
Re-imagine classic button-down shirts as shirt dresses by going for a few sizes bigger than what you’d normally buy. It’s the perfect thing to wear at the beach or a casual get-together if the hemline is long enough (think mid-thigh). For this post, I’m wearing all of the shirts in an XL to gain the most length as possible. A small tip though: to avoid re-enacting a classic Clueless moment with your Dad (like I did a few weeks back), a pair of silk shorts underneath your shirt for modesty will do the trick. A study in proportion and poise is also important here to achieve a modern balance: going a few sizes up means the shoulders will be ill-proportioned so roll-up the sleeves to just below your elbow and button the shirt all the way to the collar. I think the resultant voluminous trapeze shape anchored with minimal accessories is such an effortlessly cool and counterintuitive look for summer.
3. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TONES
Don’t stray too far from a natural and neutral colour palette. If one-colour dressing isn’t your thing but you still like that refined, minimal and chic aesthetic, pair colours of similar tones and shades. And if we’re talking accessories, I personally love pairing gold jewellery with soft pinks/creams and save silver for navy and cooler, undercurrent of blues.
4. THE NON-STATEMENT, STATEMENT PIECE
Pick one statement piece with its own distinct character and make that the only focus of your outfit. For me, it’s a great hat (I was drawn to the unique ‘high crown’ and asymmetry of the black raffia hat – with the added bonus of making me look taller than I really am, ha!). Country Road’s jewellery collection embodies an aesthetic approach that’s one of delicacy and simplicity. My favourites are the gold T Bar Bracelet (the epitome of a non-statement statement piece!) as well as the black leather tassels that add edge to the otherwise delicate silver on the Mini Tassel Necklace – I love a good juxtaposition.
5. THINK OF IT AS A MODERN, REFINED SENSE OF LUXURY
Make this your summer wardrobe mantra: comfortable, wearable, and versatile; all of which share a modern, refined sense of luxury. Think crisp cotton shirts, silk cropped culottes, light cashmere layers, and nuanced neutrals. It’s important to note when trying to achieve that ‘minimalist’ aesthetic, that the most special and prized pieces are not always the most memorable wardrobe mainstays. It’s the simple, uncomplicated pieces which are instantly adaptable to different moods and occasions, that always wins out in the end. And it’s the same with jewellery; it’s all about finding something that you can wear every day that embodies the perfect balance of character and longevity.
In this post, I’m wearing:
Gold T Bar Bracelet | Knuckle Ring | Multi Stack Ring | Circle Necklace in gold & silver | Mini Tassel Necklace
Contrast Collar Stripe Shirt | Pink Career Shirt | Bib Stripe Shirt | Woven Baseball Cap
High Crown Raffia Hat | Canvas Print Shopper | Harriet Sandals | Ray-Ban Wayfarers (these items are from my own wardrobe)
Photographs by Jamie. Still-life by me.
Get the look: Acne Studios black blazer, Acne Studios Patti cotton shirt, Isabel Marant black trousers, Acne Studios knitted sweater, Church’s leather Chelsea boots.
Following on from yesterday, I thought I’d put together a more in-depth glimpse into the whys and hows behind my own work wardrobe.
As you can tell, I’ve always placed a pretty big emphasis on ‘investment dressing’ for work, simply because getting the foundation right – regardless of whether you’re building a house or a work wardrobe – will give you a firm footing, unassailable structure, and clear focus to build something that will withstand the test of time.
I have one in navy, one in classic black, and one in anthracite because I’m not one for the pantsuit look and the dark grey seems to do a great job at breaking up the monotony. Slim sleeves and a relaxed body is my preferred silhouette and I always reach for blazers with a structured shoulder and good lapel – those, to me, are the foundations of a great blazer. I also prefer longline blazers (a hip-grazing length or slightly longer) as I find these to be much more flattering and versatile.
The classic button-down shirt
I prefer mine with a large, pointed collar and slightly oversized through the body. I avoid viscose like the plague (creases!) so I opt for cotton poplin or linen, and wear it buttoned to the collar, most of the time. White and pale blue wins every time.
Heavy wool for winter, always. I’m drawn to pants with belt loops and think those that sit on the hip are as indispensable as pants that cut high on the waist (I love a good tucked-in shirt with a blazer and brogues look). Also, try cuffing the hem of your pants to above the ankle rather than at the ankle – it gives a completely different look and feel to the outfit!
It’s hard to go past a good turtleneck, but a generous round-neck allows you to layer a button-down shirt underneath with the pointed collar peeking out. I always gravitate towards natural fibres (soft brushed cotton, merino, or cashmere). Throw a blazer over it and the humble sweater looks instantly dressed up. It’s my favourite winter trick in the sartorial book.
Cold feet always makes me so unproductive. Polished ankle boots are something I tend to reach for on cold mornings. Flat Chelsea boots are always worn with a hint of ankle showing whilst my heeled leather pointed boots elevate my statement skirt and sweater combo to new heights. An almond toe or pointed toe boot is always more flattering and professional looking.
Like building a house, putting together a wardrobe of clever, investment pieces is the most expensive and most critical part of the process. But, like a good foundation for your face, starting with a flawless canvas (that you probably wear every day) allows you to mix it up with less expensive items that you may not use every day (for me in terms of make-up, it’s eyeliners and for the wardrobe, it’s the seasonal, trend-driven pieces).
And planning a wardrobe is much like everything else in life: focus on the things that matter the most, and know when to scrimp on the things that don’t.
I’ve been inspired by a few good women lately: Barbara Casasola, Chloe Sippe, Talia Shuvalov… for the simple fact that their personal style is (almost) as anonymous as they are.
For the most part, I admire them for the way they are completely okay with wearing essentially the same thing every day to work: an unassuming uniform of t-shirts and sweaters; blazers and ankle boots. There is honestly something so appealing about pinpointing and distilling your personal style to such a degree that makes you feel so comfortably at ease with never really wanting to wear something better or something different from yesterday.
For whatever reason, getting dressed for work has taken me more time and energy than necessary lately. I have approximately 10 minutes each morning to find something to wear for the day, which sounds like ample time if 1. I wasn’t getting dressed in the dark (so as not to wake my husband who leaves later than I do) and 2. If my style wasn’t so damn schizophrenic.
I’ve always loved to wear something different every day – not because I worry about what other people think – but mostly because new-ness and variation always, unfailingly, puts me in a better mood. Some days are better than others – though never consecutively. And interestingly, I’ve noted that the sartorial stars seem to unfailingly align on a Monday, probably because I’ve had the weekend to recharge my batteries.
Turning 30 has also led to a subtle and subconscious shift in my style; gently encouraging me to enter the next decade of my life dressed like a proper grown-up (whatever that means/entails). I suppose the desire to live simply and without drama or clutter in my life, is probably a better way to describe it.
So, over the past couple of weeks, I took the opportunity to re-organise the contents of my wardrobe and make a mental wishlist of what would form part of my perfect, every day ‘uniform’:
Isabel Marant Etoile linen t-shirts in white and black, and Bassike men’s boxy cotton tees
Two such distinct styles, but it means I have my bases covered; I generally prefer a crew neckline, longer sleeves and the way organic cotton/linen drapes, but I’d also like the option of a t-shirt with a lower scoop neckline and slim sleeves.
Merino wool sweaters
Country Road makes the best ones, especially if we’re talking mens’ section. I buy them in an XS (the sleeves are a tad long, but the rest of it is a perfect, slouchy fit) and have taken to wearing these with my leather trousers or over a dressy, statement skirt to see me through the transition to winter. I’ve found black and grey marle to be the most versatile colours for work. I’d also love to eventually get my hands on Uniqlo cashmere as an equally comfortable and well-cut alternative. I’m currently living in their cashmere cardigans around the house and I’ve found the quality to be excellent.
The black blazer
I’ve found that the ever-present search for the black blazer requires a bit more time and financial investment than the rest. The one I’ve always had a keen eye on is Lover’s Infinity Tuxedo black blazer, which has also proven to be the most elusive (trust me, I’ve been stalking eBay for a year to no avail). In the interim, my Dion Lee black silk crepe cape blazer is proving indispensable, as is a slightly oversized Isabel Marant anthracite blazer which I recently purchased for a steal from The Outnet. My main objective is to gradually but ultimately ‘upgrade’ from my chain-store mainstays (that are generally inferior in cut, fabric and quality) to pieces that are more refined (i.e. made from wool, not polyester/viscose) and, of course, exceptionally well-cut.
Acne Studios black denim
After months of ‘research’, I’ve narrowed it down to the Flex and Pin 5. I’ve been hooked on Acne denim ever since making my first purchase from Matches earlier this year (the Needle in the Rocca wash). I’ve always shied away from denim for the simple fact that I’ve never found a pair comfortable enough, but the 92% cotton, 5% polyester, 2% elastane fabric composition is such a dream to wear.
Leather skinny/slim cut trousers
I swear by J Brand – the buttery lambskin is second-skin soft and never stretches out of shape. The initial outlay was heinous, of course, but I wear these almost every second/third day so thankfully it’s been money well spent. Given the creative nature of my job, I’ve been lucky to get away with wearing these to work – simply adding a black blazer or a silk shirt to make it a little more office-appropriate.
For as long as I can remember, matchstick/cigarette cut pants have always been the hardest working items in my wardrobe. I recently purchased a pair of Acne black ankle-grazing trousers to serve as an ‘upgrade’ from the Forever New Erin trousers I’ve worn (and loved) to death. For me, it has always been about investing in a quality fabric with a certain heft to it (such as wool). I find better quality fabrics also leave less creases when sitting (such as around the back of the knees).
My pencil skirts have taken a back seat ever since I started my new job as I find them slightly too austere for my liking – and for the role I’m in. For days when I’m seeking variety from pants, the statement skirt seems to pull through. I’ve been mostly wearing my Lover Rosebud lace black skirt to the office, anchoring it with aforementioned sweaters and longline blazers. Dressing down a fancy skirt has long been one of those tricks up my sleeve that’s never failed me. My Apiece Apart calf-length ‘Drea’ skirt is also keeping the Lover Rosebud in good company; I love teaming this skirt with an oversized knit and ballet flats on lazy days.
Church’s Chelsea polished brogue boots
They’re hard to come by, but deciding what colour to invest in is proving to be much more difficult! Smoke, studded, or oxblood? I’ve been wearing my Chloe studded ankle boots and Isabel Marant Dickers to the office, but have been thinking about investing in a more understated, inconspicuous pair of boots to see me through the next few months.
Based on the above list, there are still a few gaps to fill. Such items – like the Chelsea boots and denim – will be gradually added to my every day repertoire when I’ve saved up enough to afford them or once I’ve had the opportunity to try them on.
No matter how foolproof my plan is, though, I’ve still got such a long way to go in terms of shifting that always-wanting-to-wear-something-new mindset. I’ve gotten into the ruinous habit of buying something new each week and my husband was suitably horrified when he found out. So something’s gotta give. And admittance’s the first step to recovery, so they say.
I’m cleanin’ out my closet, as the song goes, to make way for more space between my hangers.
If you’re interested in adding a bit of Lover, Alexander Wang, Celine, Current/Elliott, tons of Country Road, as well as this Zara trench coat and Bassike grey trackpants (above) to your winter wardrobe, hop on over to my store!
If you’re in dire need of shoe inspiration this Monday morning, get your skates on and head over to Vogue.com.au for my latest SpyStyle post on the nine shoes every woman needs in her wardrobe.
And yes, these Charlotte Olympia pumps are as vertigo-inducing as they look. But the higher the heel, the closer to heaven, right?
Every day goes a little something like this: wake up at 5:50am (well, in theory), get to the office at 7am (again, with the best of intentions), log a nine hour day in front of the computer, speed to clinical pilates at the physio straight after work, then drive to a boxing class immediately after that, and then home – finally – at 7pm.
Rinse and repeat, five days a week. Until it is Saturday again.
Resuming life in Perth after an epic overseas holiday, sans routine, has been hard. Settling into my new job (with only three payslips under my belt so far, I’m still a baby) has been draining. I miss my old work colleagues. I miss familiarity. And with the early starts and sweaty, late finishes every day, all I want to do is wear sports bras under my shirts and shapeless men’s clothes in varying shades of black.
I could really do with someone coming over to fix the banality that has become my work wardrobe. Having been stuck in a serious work outfit rut lately (let’s be real – who really thinks straight at 6 o’clock in the morning, in the dark, and without coffee?) I’ve also had to come to terms with the fact that there is no strict dress code in the office so I can wear pretty much anything aside from denim cut-offs.
It sounds wonderful, but it’s mostly not. Having free (sartorial) reign has wrecked havoc on getting properly dressed for a proper job each morning. I also never see clients or attend grown-up meetings, so I’m all like, ‘Do I wear poo-catcher pants today or the sweatpants? Or maybe something a little less cazj?’
Having no parameters and no boundaries to work within means I inevitably look sloppy because I know no one – myself included – will care. Or notice, probably.
Anyway, as I was flipping through the latest issue of Vogue Australia last night, the piece on Chloe Sippe stopped me in my tracks. To the uninitiated, if you’ve ever bought anything from Net-a-Porter, chances are Chloe Sippe had something to do with it. Hailing from Sydney, Chloe now works as a buyer for NAP and cites her every day uniform to come in the form of effortless luxury: Acne blazers, Equipment silk shirts, men’s cashmere sweaters from Uniqlo, classic separates from The Row, and Church’s Chelsea boots. I love how her style is down-to-earth yet still inexplicably polished and put-together without any hint of pretension.
After yet another day of resembling a girl dressed in boy clothes, I came home from work today and decided that I’ve had enough with the wide-legged pants, flat shoes, oversized sweaters, and un-brushed hair.
With winter looming and the cooler weather in mind, I plan to resurrect my work wardrobe with a few things I already have in my wardrobe as well as some purchases I’ve just made:
Black tuxedo jackets, silk button-downs and cotton shirts (Everlane, Margaret Howell, Witchery) tucked into black leather trousers (J Brand), check blanket coats when the chill sets in, pale grey soft long coatigans (obsessed with this one), and heels. Always heels.
Image credit: Whistles
Or, this case, the Trench Coat.
Never a time nor a place where you couldn’t wear this and feel overdressed or underdressed. I love throwing it over anything and everything to look and feel instantly polished. Or, like I really have my shit together.
In any case, it’s just a little reminder (particularly to myself but feel free to use this as a take-home lesson) that there’s certainly nothing wrong with going back to basics every once in a while.
For me, the search for the ‘perfect’ white shirt is akin to my incessant quest for that holy grail striped top (or like looking for love, but I’ll get to that later). With so many different variations and styles to choose from, of which are constantly churned out by a gazillion different brands every day of every year, where does the search begin – or even end?
I was surprised to find that mine began and ended at Country Road (the shirt I ended up purchasing and wearing above can be found here).
So what constitutes my perfect white shirt? And why did this particular one by Country Road come out tops?
Colour – it’s a true, true white. Not ecru, not ivory, not off-white. It’s just white.
Size – possibly the most important lesson to take away from this post, so listen up. Opting for which size to purchase can be make or break. Now’s probably not the time to be embarrassed about buying a size L if you’re a perfect size 8. And like Dead Fleurette once admitted, I always take at least 3 sizes of a shirt into the change room with me. Often it’s the M or L that ends up coming out tops. When it comes to a button-down shirt , slightly oversized is always, always, always more flattering than one that’s slightly too small.
When it came to purchasing this shirt from CR, I agonised for days as to whether the S or M was the better fit. I purchased the M because it was perfect at the shoulders but then the next day I exchanged it for the S (which most of us know equates to a M/L in every other brand!). The S was narrower through the body which made it more flattering when I tucked the shirt tail into skirts and trousers.
Fit – relatively narrow through the body, sleeve length is perfect, sleeve width is nice and narrow. And when I button the shirt all the way to the top, there’s still a comfortable amount of space around the neck.
Details – pointed collar which is of a substantial size (my ‘ideal’ is slightly larger in surface area, but no biggie). Chest pockets – again, I’m not fussed but I do like the pockets on this shirt, with its rounded edges and how it’s unimposing. Drop tail hem – handy for when I want to wear this shirt over a pair of leggings. Covered placket – this is not essential but I do find a covered placket lends some subtle sophistication and polish for occasions that call for it.Button placement – no sign of a bra in sight when I’m standing side-on, and the wonderful fact that I can undo the first few buttons to show a respectable amount of décolletage without running the risk of indecently exposing myself.
Fabric composition – admittedly, this is the probably the one thing that I compromised on. The one I’m wearing above is comprised of 56% cotton, 44% tencel. It’s not bad, but it still wrinkles. I do love the airy, feminine translucency a cotton/tencel mix yields, but my ideal fabric for a button-down is 97% brushed cotton & 3% elastane (think RL oxford shirts) – this composition never, ever, lets me down. The one thing I try to avoid like the plague is 100% cotton which wrinkles like crazy – well before I even leave the house.
I’ve come to realise that ‘perfect’ probably isn’t the right word to use. For items of clothing. Or anything in life. Because there is always going to be something better. Always. Like love, maybe the universe conspires to help us meet a few white shirts during our time that tick all the boxes – and to teach us that they all just serve different purposes at different times in our lives. Whether we’re looking for love or looking for that white shirt, a little effort, a bit of compromise and staying true to yourself and your lifestyle might just allow us to live happily ever after.
Okay, to be perfectly honest, I rarely dress like this. Those of you who have been following me forever know that, for starters, I’ve never really been a dedicated jeans girl. And the truth is, I actually struggle to come up with an outfit I’m perfectly happy with, that incorporates denim yet is still a true reflection of my style and isn’t glaringly ‘predictable’.
As I edge closer and closer to the dreaded 3-0 though, I’m learning to embrace tried and true ‘classics’ in an effort to dress appropriately for my age, lifestyle and for any occasion.
And I think I’ve found my holy grail ensemble in this outfit – my favourite trench paired with a classic white shirt (more on this tomorrow!), blue jeans and a pair of high heeled black pumps. The ideal travel outfit, even, if you replace the heels with loafers or ballet flats. I couldn’t resist swapping my Wayfarers for a pair of Prada Baroques but kept the rest the outfit minimal with my Chanel purse and hair pulled back into a tousled bun (truthfully – I didn’t have time to wash it after my boxing class that morning).
This outfit has taught me a few things: getting dressed is infinitely quicker and easier (you can never really go wrong with white, blue denim and navy); clean, streamlined and uncomplicated items of clothing will always look chic and polished as long as you opt for things that fit you perfectly and proportionally, right down to the length of your jeans (I prefer mine cropped just above the ankle), the length of your shirt and coat sleeves (I like mine to hit just at the wrist) and the way you mix your textures (here I’ve offset a crisp white buttoned shirt and a very fitted pair of jeans with a soft, drapey trench coat).
Whilst putting together this outfit was relatively quick and simple, I think the most imperative and more difficult task was to ensure everything I wanted to wear – the shirt, the jeans, the coat – were tailored to fit. Right down to the very last detail.
Look out for my post tomorrow as I write about how my search for that perfect white shirt went!
This week on my blog I’ll be focusing on the Classics. I’ll be referencing cookie-cutter guides such as Matchbook Mag’s 50 foundations for your closet, but hope to focus more on the wardrobe essentials that have formed an integral part of my own personal style.
Today I’ll start with a few of my favourite things – some old, some new, but all workhorses – when nothing but the Classics will do.
A beautiful, go-with-everything leather handbag. Timeless, beautifully subtle and something I hope to be still carrying when I’m in retirement! I was lucky enough to purchase my second Chanel purse from a lovely friend (hi, J!) back in 2008 for a much less inflated price than what they’re worth today. Despite my infatuation with the Proenzas, Celines and Wangs of the world, I will always come back to Chanel. Word to the wise: if you’re thinking about purchasing one to use quite frequently or as a day bag, consider opting for calfskin or caviar (in favour of lambskin), and stick to a tried and true colour – navy, anthracite or the classic of all Classics: black. Buy in Paris (if you can tolerate the queue – unsurpassed range & prices though) or Heathrow airport if you’re passing through and are lucky enough to score a purse from their classic line (the classics are few and far between at Heathrow).
A pair of black, high-heeled leather pumps. There is no question in my mind that the Pigalle trumps all. I love the 85mm for the office, the 100 for daytime (and evening) soirees and the 120s if I’m game to ever try. I’ve owned my 100mm for almost a year and I can confidently say that they become more and more comfortable and manageable. They’re not as easy on the feet as my Roshe Runs – but they’re honestly just as light, and because of that are a dream to wear, compared to other high heels I have owned or currently wear. I personally prefer pointed-toe pumps, but also don’t mind an almond toe (like the Decollete) for a softer, rounder but still classic finish. Word to the wise: try them on for size if you can before purchasing online – Pigalle sizing can oft be erratic and for a truly comfortable experience, you’ll need them to perfectly fit. And once you’re ready to hit the slopes online, head to Matches and patiently wait for a shipping code if you can – you won’t snag a better deal anywhere else, providing you are quick enough! Alternatively, I really love Witchery for their comfortable and modern styles at a much friendlier price point.
Black, classic shades. And the more oversized, the better. I like to gravitate towards sunglasses that are bit more left of field, but nothing beats a good Aviator or Wayfarer (both of which are universally flattering, I’ve found). Ray Bans are my frame of choice (I’ve been wearing them since my teens!) and am contemplating picking up a foldable pair of gold-rimmed Aviator for my upcoming travels. Word to the wise: head to pret-a-voir (thanks, K!) for the best range & prices on Ray Bans, as well as on other coveted brands.
Whether you’re new to my blog or have been a long-time reader of mine, you would have already guessed that I prefer to save my pennies to ‘invest’ (and I use that term rather loosely) in things that I know I’ll wear and love to death.
I also consider the environment and landfill – I much rather buy one good-quality purse to last me several years (decades, even!) as opposed to frequently replenishing inferior-quality items that are unable to stand the test of time through normal wear & tear. And the less I contribute to landfill, the more likely my future generations will enjoy a healthy and happy world to live in.
Big-ticket items are always, always carefully considered and often over a long period of time – sometimes it takes me years to muster the courage to pull the trigger on a handbag that could easily cover two or three months’ worth of mortgage repayments. Thankfully, I have a husband who understands that sometimes (not often, mind you…) we deserve to mark an important milestone or otherwise with something that we will treasure and appreciate for many years to come – if not, for the rest of our lives.
After months of procrastination and a bit of elbow grease thrown in for good measure, I’m so happy to be able to let you all know that my new Tictail store is now up and running!
Clicking here will take you to my online closet cleanout.
I’ve added lots of new things to the store and hope this new shopping experience will make it much easier for you to browse and shop my wardrobe at your leisure.
So, it’s been a while.
With my Europe holiday in precisely 67 days (thank you, tripit!) and my credit card in no position to pay itself off, I thought now would be a good time as any to get a little more serious about a spending ban and a winter wardrobe challenge to help me with packing for Europe.
Three weeks in, and all’s going pretty well, but I’m sorry that it has taken me all month to document it! I don’t know about the rest of you but July has been a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of month for me. Apparently so much time has elapsed but the unseasonal Perth weather is fast convincing me that we’re still in the throes of a chilly autumn.
Adapting to the thirty x thirty challenge whilst it’s so cold out has definitely worked in my favour. I’ve always loved dressing for winter (coats! ankle boots! beanies!) but this year has seen me dress me much more casually and negligently, recycling outfits and rotating through the same sweaters, the same coats, the same shoes and the same striped shirt. And not giving it a moments’ hesitation, either.
I do think this is the single most biggest reason why I have been able to keep up with this challenge for the past 20-odd days. I’m happy this winter to layer a cashmere sweater over a couple of thermals, pair them with my Isabel Marant sneakers, a scarf, and call it an outfit.
I’ve also chosen my 30 items much more wisely this time around. My ‘edit’ comprises separates (bar one dress) and almost everything I’ve picked can be worn to work as well as on the weekend. Granted, I’m dressing quite casually to work this month, but I’m finding the mornings way too brisk to wear anything but black ankle boots, warm socks and ponte pants! Comfort clothes 🙂
So, here is my list:
Bassike cream/licorice striped jersey dress
Once upon a time, dresses were all I wore. I became adept at dressing them down, to even go grocery shopping in. My wardrobe’s starting to catch up with my lifestyle now, though, and I’m finding that I wear dresses only once in a while. For the purposes of this challenge, too, it makes more sense to incorporate mostly separates into my edit – which is also something to think about when packing for a month-long holiday! The one dress I did choose for my challenge was a comfortable and practical striped jersey dress by Bassike. Seemed like the most sensible choice with its longer hem and long sleeves.
* * *
Bassike striped long-sleeved shirt
Everlane silk white buttoned shirt
Everlane silk black buttoned shirt
Zara chambray two-tone shirt
Country Road grey intarsia spot sweater
Country Road black intarsia spot sweater
Witchery black scoop hem cable knit sweater
Hope nearly white button back sweater
Theyskens’ Theory white Belcor top
I opted for a mix of everything but in muted, neutral tones. Though the sun has been shining most days this month, it’s still very much sweater weather, so half my options are cosy knits that are just so easy to wear. Notably, my Hope button-back sweater has been my most versatile item yet; I wear it as a sweater and also as a cardigan, simply by wearing it backwards, unbuttoned. This one’s definitely going into the suitcase.
That being, there have been certain items that I haven’t worn much at all (Theyskens’ Belcor top – so voluminous that it’s hard to wear a jacket or coat over it, and it’s also short; Phillip Lim leopard sweat – mostly because it doesn’t reach my hips; and, surprisingly, my Everlane silk shirts – much better suited to transeasonal weather as they’re so thin, I think).
I’ve been getting extraordinarily much wear out of my Country Road spot sweaters (especially at work, when paired with my cigarette pants or silk tulip skirts), the white Hope sweater (great for lazy weekends) as well as my Bassike striped top, because of its long sleeves and looser fit through the body, which means I can layer a couple of thermals underneath.
* * *
Forever New Erin black cigarette trousers
Isabel Marant Tundra black silk skirt
Country Road white 7/8 jeans
Witchery black ponte pants
J Brand black lambskin leather jeans
One skirt and the rest trousers, attributed to this time of year. There are a few items here that I wouldn’t wear to the office – white 7/8 jeans, Bassike grey trackpants, the J Brand leather jeans… but the rest of it has proven to be versatile for every occasion. What I’ve been wearing the most? Black cigarette pants, the black ponte pants (I wanted to banish these from my wardrobe at one point, but I can’t deny how practical they are in winter) and my J Brand leather jeans.
I’m finding my Country Road white ankle-grazing jeans aren’t keeping me warm at all during the evenings as they’re made of a thin, cotton twill/denim fabric. I was thinking about packing them for Europe but I’m not so sure any more.
* * *
Dress Up navy trench coat
Witchery leopard trench coat
Witchery sequinned military cropped jacket
Witchery black high collar tux jacket
I chose more coats than probably necessary for this unseasonal winter we’ve been experiencing, though there are a couple of lightweight ones in the mix for those in-between days. I picked out a variety of styles and prints to cover all bases – classic trench coats and tuxedo jackets, and a cropped black military-esque blazer with sequinned epaulettes for the bowerbird in me. So far, the Dress Up navy trench and the Zara short military coat (also navy) has seen the most wear.
* * *
I decided to not include handbags as part of my 30 items this time around – I rarely use more than two bags during any given month so I felt including any would be pointless. As for shoes, I picked out almost double what I had originally intended! I’ve been wearing my Pigalles the least (they’re typically a ‘sometimes’ shoe for work and my social life is non-existent at the moment) whilst my Alexander Wang oxfords and Isabel Marant sneakers have seen the most day light. They’re comfortable and keep me warm on cold mornings and evenings.
* * *
In summary, with a week left of the challenge, I’ve surprised myself at how easily I’ve adapted to the slim pickings I’ve chosen for the month. After giving up on the challenge after a mere week last time, it amazes me how much of a different mindset I’ve found myself in and how this has really influenced my style and outlook on consumerism.
There are, of course, shortcomings to ‘challenges’ like these – or even as a lifestyle shift. I have been forced to think about things like washing my clothes more often, wearing my items out quicker than usual (the thought of replacing them once they’ve worn out is actually not something I have time or probably money to keep doing!).
As for my spending ban, I have been able to resist those impulsive, weekly purchases I’d typically make this month, only caving into a pair of J Brand leather jeans with funds from the sale of my Witchery leather leggings earlier this month. There’s nothing like planning my itinerary for Paris to keep my spending habits in check!
It’s becoming obvious (to me, anyway) that I seem to be wearing the same kind of things over and over again this winter.
Stripey things, Lover lace, giraffe prints and polka dots, leather ankle boots of varying detail, classic black pumps that each serve a different purpose, silk button-downs, cosy sweaters and a gorgeous giraffe-print weekender from Country Road.
All the things I love, really.
It’s just me, my Milo, a tub of Tiger Balm for the next few hours. I swapped a boxing class for this review I’m about to write, so get comfy for this love letter to Everlane.
Silk button-downs are an essential part of my wardrobe. I wear them to work (in favour of those linen/cotton shirts) and they work equally well on the weekend. But I have a love/hate relationship with them, to be honest. I love the soft tailoring, the way they drape across the body and flutter in the breeze; I love that they don’t crease in the crook of my elbows, and, can instantly add polish to a pair of linen track pants for the office.
There is not much I don’t like about silk shirts, except that for the fact that they are almost always impossible to keep clean. And they’re almost always very ‘spensive. Coupled with this and the highly-strung upkeep, it’s no wonder that I’ve put finding the perfect silk shirt on the back burner until now.
But then there was Everlane.
First up, the classic silk shirts are priced at almost a steal – $80, which is a fraction of what an Equipment shirt would set you back. Everlane, as a company, are also refreshingly transparent about and committed to their business practices and provenance.
But back to the silk shirts themselves, I’ve split this ‘review’ into sections, so I hope you find it helpful.
Velvety soft with a ‘washed silk’ look and feel to them. It seems Everlane and Equipment are practically cut from the same cloth. Made from 100% silk, with the ivory coloured blouse not overly sheer so there’s no need to wear a camisole underneath, even though the website stipulates that the shirt is “slightly sheer”.
I wore my ivory shirt out on the weekend for the first time and (of course) happened to get a few food stains on them down the front of the shirt. I promptly went to the bathroom and spot cleaned with some warm soapy water. The stains perfectly disappeared without any compromise on the fabric.
The deal breaker for me.
The sleeves are narrow (which I love) but they’re a smidge too long for what I deem to be a ‘perfect’ shirt. I’m just under 5’5 for reference. The cuffs brush just past my wrists, and I prefer them to hit just at the top of my wrist. Not a biggie, though.
Narrow through the body whilst not being too fitted or ridiculously oversized. The size S in these shirts are much more tailored and fitted than an Equipment XS.
Shirt length is perfect on my 5’5 frame. The hem hits just above the widest point of my hips, so I’m able to tuck it into trousers and skirts without excess fabric showing through my clothes. It’s also so short that it untucks itself throughout the day.
The collar has slightly rounded corners (I actually prefer them to be pointed) but they’re not too ‘peter pan’ looking so I don’t mind them so much.
The black looks almost navy under certain light. As the silk is brushed, it gives the colour this suede-like appearance. It’s not an intense black by all means but it’s a lovely, natural shade that lends itself to work for all occasions.
The ivory is an off-white. Not a bright white but there are no traces of ‘nude’ in this, either.
The imperceptible details
Sleeves are a crisp, straight-cut, which makes rolling them up seamless. I avoid blouses with billowy sleeves at all costs.
The front placket is stitched down so no gaps between buttons and the front of the shirt sits nicely flat against the body.
No fancy stitching or pintuck (etc) detailing at the tops of the shoulders, on the sleeve placket or anywhere else on the shirt. No excess gathering of fabric for aesthetic purposes. It’s a no-frills kind of blouse, and that’s why I consider it to be a keeper in my wardrobe.
The top button is positioned in a way that allows you to wear it buttoned to the collar without feeling uncomfortable or claustrophobic.
Wash and wear
I haven’t had an opportunity to wash them just yet but when the time comes I think I’ll just pop them in a delicates bag and throw them into the machine.
Post-wash, I’ll give it a once-over with my garment steamer.
How to buy
I’ve had many queries regarding how to purchase from Everlane online, particularly from my Australian readers. I can only provide an answer based on my own experience:
- I used a parcel forwarder (Shipito) to purchase these shirts. I purchased a black and ivory shirt so shipping was free to my Shipito adress. It took about 4-5 working days to arrive to my parcel forwarder. From there it cost me about $40 to post these shirts to me in Australia via USPS Priority Mail.
- I highly recommend Shipito for their efficiency (I’ve never ever had an issue with them) however their postage costs are a bit higher than other parcel forwarders.
- I used my Australian credit card when placing the order. In the Billing Code field, I entered the zip code of my Shipito address. I find it bizarre that the first time I did this, it rejected it and then when I tried again the next day, my order was accepted. Still don’t know why.
- Sizing: the size charts they provide are quite accurate. I ordered both my shirts in a size S. For reference, I wear XXS in Country Road silk shirts and these seem to be a very similar fit (with CR being a smidge smaller in the shoulders).
I am definitely interested in purchasing more of these shirts (in the pale grey and nude colour). I hope my review helps those of you who have been thinking of buying these shirts for yourselves!
My husband and I waited an hour in line on Saturday morning for the annual Dilettante ‘Archive’ sale. To the uninitiated, think Dion Lee, Helmut Lang, Preen and Josh Goot at (up to) 90% off. It’s common to find a $1500 pair of pants in the $60 clothing bin, at this once-a-year sale, as my avant garde-obsessed husband gloriously discovered at last year’s sale. He’s so happy and precious about them that he lets me wear his underwear (another story in itself) but not his Marant-inspired track pants by The Viridi-anne.
Anyway. The thing is, my husband doesn’t queue for anything. Not even for coffee. The sale was ‘his’ idea though (I know, what?) so because he made his bed, he felt obliged to lay in it for a little while longer. So for an hour we stood on the sidewalk befriending an Irish couple in front of us and scrutinising every person who walked out of the sale. The plan was this: if the number of people who walked out empty-handed exceeded the number who didn’t, we’d leave.
As more and more sale-goers staggered out, flexing their muscles with their multiple brown bags, we began to discuss our sale shopping strategy (yep, we were that bored):
No wildly printed items.
No shiny pants.
Nothing neoprene (here’s looking at you, Goot)
Nothing that we need to alter/lose weight/gain weight to fit into.
But our discussion was punctuated with:
Why do we keep buying things we really don’t need?
Do we really want to spend money that would otherwise go towards our Europe trip?
What happened to maintaining a pared-down wardrobe?
But we stayed in line. And as the above pictures suggest, I did, in fact, comply. I zeroed in on Helmut kinetic jersey basics, tailored Dion Lee items, a gorgeous drapey, wispy Helmut Lang burnout silk black dress, and a fucking amazing (excuse the language) leather and shearling jacket by Gareth Pugh, which, at 80% off, was also my husband’s birthday gift to me. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything so extravagant and impossibly beautiful (or ridiculously warm) hanging in my wardrobe.
I’ve also never purchased so much black, white and shades of grey in my life, but I was comforted by being able to fill a few gaps in my wardrobe – a basic black jersey dress to layer underneath jackets and knits; a pair of black silk trousers, a sheer ribbed grey tank and a relaxed white t-shirt made of the softest jersey. Thank you, Helmut.
These are the things I tried on but restrained myself from buying:
Josh Goot neoprene dress and printed bomber jacket – ridiculously flattering on and such special pieces but unfortunately there’s no longevity in it for me. I can foresee selling off these items within a year.
Dion Lee fuchsia silk cut-out long sleeved shirt – loved the colour and the cut but it’s not black, to cut a long story short. For $45 down from $480, it took an enormous amount of willpower to put it back on the rack.
Vivienne Westwood black rose quilted cropped leather bomber – I’ve always loved the concept of quilted leather anything but I’ve always had a hard time matching cropped jackets with the rest of my wardrobe.
Helmut Lang leather pants in olive/khaki – in my size but I can’t help but think that I’ll never wear these simply because they’re not black.
A year ago, I would have taken all of the above items home with me. I’d like to think that since then I’ve been shopping smarter despite the lure of heavy discounting and misguided, impulsive purchases associated with these kind of sales.
To summarise, I generally ask myself the following questions when I’m finding myself standing in the centre of a dizzying designer ‘warehouse’-type sale:
– Can I see myself wearing this in at least a year or two from now? How about five years (assuming my weight won’t fluctuate)?
– Can I think of at least five things in my wardrobe that I could wear this with?
– Is this item true to my style? Or are you only buying this to impress people or validate yourself to others?
– Would I be able to sell this item should I ever decide to, for whatever reason? (I usually gravitate towards well-known labels and designers to stay on the safe side)
– Why stick to just the womens’ section? I shop from the mens’ racks quite often as I often find that menswear is a lot less frivolous and more about wardrobe staples. It’s also often cheaper! Think oversized tees, striped shirts, slouchy trousers and classic tank tops.
– And the dealbreaker that everyone should ask themselves at a sale: would I buy this (or even look at it twice) if it wasn’t heavily discounted?
We’re all guilty of falling under the spell of a sale but for those of you who are currently cleansing your wardrobes to make way for smarter purchases, I have found it is possible to come away relatively unscathed.
And on that note, if you’re in Perth and are interested in checking out the once-a-year Dilettante sale, here are the details.
I set aside a small part of Sunday tackling the last of my wardrobe rehab, based on my last week’s post. I focused on my dresses and tops – long sleeved shirts, tanks, t-shirts and special occasion blouses.
It wasn’t too arduous of a task as I really didn’t have much left to eliminate; I relegated a handful of tops to ‘home wear’ (which actually needs a bit of a cull itself!) and a few dresses that are I feel are not aligned with my style (and age!) anymore.
There are still a mishmash of dresses in a variety of prints, textures, colours and styles but as for my tops I was left with a common theme throughout: shades of black, white, grey, blush pink, monochromatic prints (stripes/polka dots) as well as a couple of floral print items that aren’t shown above. I didn’t set out to have a specific colour palette in mind so it’s interesting to see what has transpired organically.
I’ve identified a few gaps in this section, which I’m planning to fill over the next few months:
Silk long sleeved blouses in black (or navy), bright white and perhaps nude.
Sheer, tissue-weight tees in black and white, preferably with short sleeves I can roll up and a scoop neck.
A burgundy marinière striped top, preferably long sleeved that just graze the wrist bone.
And after this, dare I say, my job here is pretty much done.
It’s been almost two weeks since this happened so I thought I’d provide an ‘update’ as to how life post-wardrobe cull has been progressing.
There are a few things I still like to improve upon but, for the most part, it has been business as usual.
I haven’t run out of things to wear nor am I getting bored (yet) with the clothes I have left; I generally find that I can seek variety in my outfit with different shoes, bags, or other accessories.
I’m continuing to blur the lines between weekend and work wear, which is great because a major concern of mine is wearing some items so much that they’ll wear themselves out soon enough. It’s no fun shopping for ‘replacements’, especially if the original item ticked all the right boxes.
Also, I’ve been able to keep my bedroom and closet area scrupulously clean and clutter-free; having less clothes means less time spent hanging them all up after I’ve worn them. No more piles of clothes exasperatedly left on the bed, which would usually drive my husband insane.
Ironically, I’ve also been shopping less – if at all. I don’t think I’ve bought anything worth mentioning in the past two weeks. I find it strangely pleasant that by removing all the excess from my closet and identifying what works, what doesn’t, and what I can live without, I’ve no real desire to add much more to my wardrobe, aside from a few gaps I still need to fill (more on this shortly).
My cull has also encouraged me to be exceptionally picky with any future purchases. If I’m only 90-95% satisfied with the item in question, I won’t buy it. Whether it’s the too-high neckline of an otherwise perfect sweater or something that’s heavily trend-based but would nevertheless fit seamlessly into my wardrobe, I’ve taken to scrutinising them with a more rational frame of mind.
Probably the most significant improvement I’ve made over the past two weeks is the state of my bank account. With all my credit cards and bills paid off and having not made any clothes purchases, I’m now saving about 80% of my take-home pay each week. At the start of this month I set myself a target for spending money for my Europe trip in 5 months’ time, and I’m shocked to find that I’m already over halfway there. It’s always rewarding and incredibly motivating to see my savings bolstering by the week but I’m finding it a challenge to shake that ‘need’ to buy something. Anything. I used to never save up for holidays and I’ve grown accustomed to emptying my bank account on something fun and frivolous each week to reward myself for putting in long hours at work. It’s been difficult to train my mind that saving for a rainy day is good for the soul (and for the future).
I kind of miss colour, though. I miss having a schizophrenic array of clothes to choose from every day. Sometimes I do wish I didn’t look so plain, so monochromatic, so drab, almost – especially at work. For the most part, I miss the excitement of wearing something new all the time; or just the excitement of being clothed in bright, bold prints and patterns. I also miss meandering my way through shops, hoping something spontaneous will catch my eye. I miss the thrill of a sale and cheap and cheerful chain store finds and being so excited about wearing my new purchases on the weekend.
Thankfully, though, these pangs of grief are becoming few and far between.
The funny thing I’ve realised over the past few days is that I want to – and I definitely can – whittle my wardrobe further. I suppose the key learning I’ve taken away from this experience is – although it’s not for everyone – it’s completely possible to live with less. Sure, old habits die hard, but I’ve learnt first hand that we are capable of having less possessions than we think.
Six skirts, six pairs of shorts, a mere half-dozen knits and four pairs of jeans pretty much what comprises my closet after 12 months of wardrobe culling.
For those who have been on this journey with me since last January, you will know that it has been a long and tedious process, one that has been marred by impulsive and misguided purchases, followed by a frenzy of sales throughout the year.
Like breakups, though, we all need to come to our senses in our own time. For me, it took as long as it needed to, but I’m proud to say that this week my ‘rebirth’ came. Finally.
I’ve learnt to get over my FOMO. I’ve let go of clothes that I no longer look forward to wearing or ones that I’ve simply grown out of – both in the literal and metaphorical sense. I’m getting to know my body shape better and I’m now shopping with my real – in favour of my ideal – lifestyle in mind. And whilst my closet still comprises three black blazers (each of which serves a different purpose – I swear) I’ve come to the realisation that a pair of trousers in every colour of the rainbow is perhaps overdoing it.
My ‘new’ wardrobe sure doesn’t look as colourful and interesting as it used to, but I’m surprised at how I’m still able to dress for work as well as for the weekend. Ironically, being in management has given me permission to dress more casually (and unorthodox) than I used to; and I’m able to fly under the radar these days wearing a handful of things I used to only reserve for the weekend (whilst still maintaining a sense of professionalism, of course).
To give you a break down of (most of) my wardrobe:
Bottoms (skirts/shorts/pants) – I apply the same sort of theory throughout; whites and neutrals anchored by black, and peppered with monochromatic prints and metallics to keep it a little bit interesting. As for denim, I have a colour and cut for every occasion: dalmatian prints, navy blue wax coated ankle grazers, a classic pair in white, and washed-out blue lo-slungs by Bassike.
Knitwear (cardigans/sweaters) – I prefer natural fibres (cotton, cashmere, angora or merino) and, again, injecting a bit more variety into my edit by incorporating prints in go-with-everything colours. I tend to get the most wear out of my T by Alexander Wang chunky black cardigan (indispensable for travelling or throwing over an otherwise fancy dress); as well as a cropped, black knitted pullover with elbow length sleeves, which I wear with everything from my metallic skirts to my Lover lace dresses.
Accessories – a rose gold oversized watch, my wedding rings and a pair of black specs (because I’m too lazy to wear contacts) is all I need and all I wear on an every day basis.
Handbags – for weekends, my navy Celine Trio is glued to my side and for work I alternate between a Longchamp Planètes and my Alexander Wang Emile tote.
Shoes – I’ve pretty much nailed this and no longer feel as if I need to contribute much more to my collection. The hardest working pairs in my wardrobe are, without a doubt, my Christian Louboutin black patent Pigalles, Alexander Wang black leather oxfords, Chloe studded boots, Chanel two-tone ballet flats and a pair of leopard print slippers by Zara. By default, I admire outrageously colourful shoes from afar.
There are still a few gaps in my wardrobe, which I’m slowly working on. Admittedly, they’ll be the more ‘banal’ purchases – classic white and black t-shirts (I have Rag & bone in mind, for their ‘lived in-ness’), silk collared button-downs (Equipment), a replacement pair of Ray Ban Aviators because I’ve somehow lost my old pair and perhaps a new flesh-toned strapless bra (the number one workhorse in my life!). The truth is, after the latest spate of some pretty ruthless sales, I haven’t been in the mood to go ‘shopping’, not even to replenish said items. Nothing’s fun when you have a shopping list; or when you feel compelled to buy something – and usually something that carries with it specific criteria and checkpoints (because by now, I’d like to think that I’ve learnt from my mistakes).
But for now, I’m happy. Everything goes with everything now. Everything fits. I fling open the doors to my wardrobe now and I’m excited by every single thing that lives inside. I’m wearing old things together in new ways and I wonder why it never occurred to me until now to wear this with that. And I think the most telling thing about it all is that I no longer feel like I’m missing out. I no longer want to wear all these different ‘hats’ or be all sorts of personas. Keeping a fashion blog pressures me to be sartorially everything to everyone but the thing I want to project most through this blog is that it’s possible to own next to nothing and still have something to wear every single day.
Colour palette done!
If I was to fling my wardrobe open right now, I’d find four distinct sections: softly-hued prints, blush/nudes, faithful black, lace/silk pieces in varying shades of ivory and milky white. I’ve also thrown metallic gold into my palette. I have found that I wear all these colours throughout the year so it makes sense to loosely base my wardrobe culling (and future purchases) on this colour scheme.
Fine-tuning my colour palette was the easy part, though. Below is the thought process behind my latest (and greatest) wardrobe cull.
I buy clothes that look amazing on other people, even if they may not be necessarily to my true taste. A FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), perhaps?
I hang onto items of clothing that I like, not love, or because I want them to stow away for a ‘rainy day’.
It still takes me forever and a day to pick out an outfit for work every morning. I like wearing a completely different outfit to work each day.
My style’s split personality disorder – massive issue.
What do I want out of this?
A separate work and play wardrobe.
An everyday ‘uniform’ for the office so that I don’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of time figuring out an outfit to wear that’s vastly different from yesterday.
A closet full of clothes I love and wear to death, whether they be five days’ or five years’ old. I kind of want to get to that stage where I’m wearing the same thing several times a week.
Lastly, my own ‘style’ based on my personality and lifestyle. I’ve found this to be the perfect antidote to envying somebody else’s wardrobe (and style).
I removed the items that I don’t and know I won’t wear to shreds, then I literally divvied up my newly-detoxed wardrobe into two sections: ‘play’ clothes and office clothes. I’m going to try my darndest to refrain from delving into my play section when picking out an outfit for work. The plan here is to not only lessen the amount of clothes to choose from each morning, but to also gently encourage myself to develop a no-thought-required uniform for the office. And, eventually, I’ll get over my fear of wearing essentially the same (or similar) outfit to work each day.
To answer a question I was asked earlier today, this is what goes through my mind when wardrobe culling (for argument’s sake, let’s say I’m talking about a pair of pants):
Do I have too many pants? If yes – cull. Do I wear this often (i.e. once or twice a fortnight)? If no – cull. Do I have many other pants that are similar in colour and cut to these? If yes – cull. Do these pants actually fit me or are they too big/too small for me (and be honest with yourself!)? If they’re ill-fitting (and if you can’t get them altered) – cull them. I’ll also quickly try on the pants and if my immediate gut instinct is a ‘nay’ as soon as I look into the mirror, the pants go into the cull pile.
So, where to now?
Sticking to my colour palette
Coming up with a ‘uniform’ for work (I’ll do a separate post to elaborate on this)
Keep tabs on my style schizophrenia
Less mindless spending, duh!
In light of my previous post on ‘investing in your wardrobe’, I’ve started to take stock of my mindless spending and excessive consumption and be accountable for what I’m buying, where I’m buying it from and how much of it is I’m buying.
How many of us have been consumed with unrelenting guilt after a shopping trip? Or dread to see our credit card statement after another binge on cheap, disposable fashion? Who takes longer than five seconds to decide on what to wear in the morning, simply because you have too much choice in front of you and too many things that clash, rather than complement? And who else has difficulty in literally closing their wardrobe doors shut because it’s crammed with oodles of gratuitous things?
I know I’d be the first to put my hand up, and I haven’t even begun to think about my contribution to landfill. Even drinking Nespresso coffee makes me feel unethical.
With all this in mind, I’ve decided to finally draw a line in the sand and set myself a number of challenges which may possibly involve getting rid of 80% of the things currently in my wardrobe. Even the mere thought of this terrifies the shit out of me.
So without further ado, the challenges I have set for myself for the upcoming autumn/winter (and hopefully beyond) are:
- Limit myself to five (and only five) purchases per season. This includes shoes and handbags.
- Limit myself to one new makeup item per season (this excludes stocking up on anything that I run out of). This should be relatively easier to action as I rarely buy cosmetics unless I’ve hit pan.
- Before every purchase, spend at least four weeks mulling over it. Impulse purchases stop here!
- Do not step foot into any chain stores for an entire season.
- Cull my shoe collection to 10 pairs from the current number of 60-70.
- Divide my wardrobe into two piles: clothes I have owned for at least two years (as well as things that I will honestly see myself wearing for the next five years); and donate or eBay the rest. As simple and as difficult as that.
- Incorporating the same piece of clothing into my outfit at least three times a week, whether it be a pair of shoes, a jacket or a pair of trousers. Handbags don’t count!
- And/or pull out five different pieces of clothing that I haven’t gotten much wear out of, and wear them to work in varying outfits over the course of one week. I’m hoping this will make choosing an outfit much quicker in the morning.
- Repeating an outfit at least once a week.
I’m sure I could think of more to torture myself with, but I think I’ll stop here before I start counting my chickens.
For someone who, on average, buys roughly five new things over the course of 2-3 weeks, I think my biggest challenge will be limiting myself to five new things over a 3-month period. There was a time in my life (I think when I started working professionally a few years ago) when all I wore were ‘investment pieces’, snubbing everything that wasn’t silk, cotton or leather. I began to appreciate a perfectly tailored pair of pants, the billowy silk of a blouse, the calf leather from a pair of red-soled shoes.
But somewhere along the line, I got married, had my wedding, and was finally free to spend my money on something other than chair covers and bridal cars. I decided I wanted to have options; to have twenty different jackets to choose from and triple that amount of shoes, even if I only had the opportunity to wear those shoes once every few months. I equated having ‘nothing to wear’ with ‘so little to work with’, and the only way I knew out was to buy cheap things (often on a whim) and lots of them. A girl needs options, right? I would buy clothes that didn’t 100% fit me simply because it had a red sale sticker on it; and I’d convince myself that I really needed something because it looked amazing on somebody else.
Ironically, I’ve discovered that too much choice can be a dangerous thing, and that in my pursuit of expressing my personality, I’ve ended up looking like every other girl out there. Plus, I buy so many clothes, and so often, that before I can seek enjoyment in wearing something, I’m already moving onto the next. I feel so awful when I think about it, and how many years it has taken me to realise this: I am nowhere near as rich enough to afford cheap clothes.
But I’m really looking forward to the challenge, as well as the prospect of curating a closet full of carefully edited clothes that allow me to put an outfit together in my sleep.
So, folks, I’m off to rehab as of autumn. Wish me luck because I’m going to really need it!
I came across the article below on deadfleurette and it immediately resonated within me because the very same topic has been eating away at me for the past few months.
I’m not one to bother with new year’s resolutions but I’m determined to reconsider my shopping habits in 2012, as well as overcome my irrational fear of wearing the same thing over and over again.
I often forget that consumerism can be a sad and destructive thing.
Vancouver Sun (2008)