In defence of…my wardrobe! Day 30

Skirt Split

Today’s teaser

Phew. Made it. And so, it seems, did a few of you.There were times during this month when I wanted to lock myself in my wardrobe and never come out. And I bet more than a few of you would have gladly bolted the door. But, at last, we have reached the end of our intrepid adventure together. You are all hereby freed of your shackles!

The last post just wouldn’t be right without some form of review. We teachers know the formula to a great essay: say what you’re going to say, say it, say what you said. And old habits die hard.

So, what kernels has the last month reaped? Well, I’ve spent the last hour figuring that out: scrolling shamefacedly through a month’s worth of impossibly vain selfies and tallying up the vast stockpile of unworn, unloved or simply forgotten. In the pack were 12 dresses, 9 tops, 5 skirts, 2 pashminas, 7 pairs of shoes, 3 necklaces, 4 bracelets, 5 vintage brooches, 1 bag, 1 pair of earrings…and 1 pair of hideously-patterned trousers. And seriously, I only counted the unworn, unloved or simply forgotten. The loved stuff that just came to help out along the way hasn’t been included in the final count.

Worse than this, with sweaty palms, I calculated the approximate wealth that’s been cloistered in the darkness of my closets all this time. Brace yourself. £2188…that’s the approximate value of all this unworn treasure. And, I have to admit that’s an understimation, if anything. But if you think that’s ludicrous, disgusting, obscene, I invite you to spend a month doing the same. I’m pretty certain, like me, you’ll be shocked by the final report.

In amongst the loot was £350 worth of virtually brand new shoes, £390 worth of Whistles dresses, £220 worth of NW3 by Hobbs dresses. And yes, I might have over-indulged on my cherished brands over the years but I wonder how many of you have more than 7 pairs of shoes lurking in your wardrobe that have barely trodden a step? Shoes aren’t my indulgence; dresses are. But, whatever your indulgence of choice, you might find your unloved booty adds up to a similar eye-watering conclusion.

What have I learned then from my month of styling it out? Well, I don’t need any more dresses, that’s for sure. Layers are my friend…as is a good belt. I could, in all honesty, benefit from a few more ‘relaxed’ t-shirts, everyday jumpers, throw-it-on cardis. And, I’m fairly confident in my style.

But that’s not the most import vignette of wisdom I’ve gained from my pet project. Putting in the effort makes a real difference. That’s the main epiphany. And I don’t just mean with clothes. It’s challenging to have a project…even if it is a royal pain in the arse at times. It’s made me engage with everything and everyone with much more vim and vigour. My thoughts have been more defined, clearer, better.

Today's Outfit

Warehouse/Oasis? Who cares, it’s day 30!

So, I’m going to continue blogging…but maybe not about fashion. And, in theory, you can expect to hear from me once a month as I spend this year attempting to improve my lifestyle in all sorts of little ways: baking maybe, fitness for sure, sewing perhaps.

Here’s the final outfit then. It’s a maxi-skirt – either from Oasis or Warehouse. I can’t really separate these two brands in my mind. To me, their style is pretty homogenous…but wait, isn’t one just a little more mumsy than the other? One slightly more edgy? Which one is anybody’s guess. But this is from the less mumsy store. I think.

It’s one of those things you buy because you love it, even though you’ve tried it on and concluded that a: it doesn’t really suit your style and b: it’s not the most flattering fit. Every girl has done this at some time or other. I guarantee it.

Today's Vintage Brooch

Another vintage gem

I bought it because I thought it was cool…and a cheap version of a Reiss skirt I’d seen but couldn’t really afford. The difference? Oh. Everything. But mainly, this skirt is only lined part the way down. To put a rather fine point on it, the lining just about skims the bulge of my bum. And it wriggles (the lining, not the bum. Okay, maybe the bum does too). So, I’ve never been confident wearing it as a summer skirt but with woolly tights it suddenly feels a bit safer!

Belt and Skirt

The belt…this girl’s best friend

Styled with another belt and (yet another) vintage brooch, it is my best effort for the last day. Quite frankly, I’m too knackered to care! And tomorrow? Well, I’ve got my eye on one of those ‘easy’ dresses I told you about early doors. It’s one of the precious 30%…the well-worn. Does that mean I’ve had enough? Nope. I’ll be styling it as I never have before: braver, bolder, cooler.

As a last, lingering goodbye, here are my top five outfits from the last month. I’d love you to leave your comments on your favourite below. Or are you all too polite to tell me the truth?!

Thanks for reading. See you next month…in theory!


Long shot of outfit


The Phase Eight Cardigan


Today's Outfit


Today's Outfit


Today's Outfit

In defence of…my wardrobe! Day 28 and 29

Day 28 Belt

Sneak preview: day 28

I am a stickler for the rules in my old age. Boringly so. The use of the ‘p’ word on saturday morning television once sent me into a seething monologue: blatant contempt for the watershed…common civility in tatters. The errant apostrophe results in a convulsing fury.

I was (and am still, really) a teacher so yesterday’s truancy offends me…even though it was my own. Unlike the students I used to teach, I don’t have any tall tales, just the truth: life got in the way. I was on location with the family…and assisting in my nephew’s PowerPoint on Minecraft. Task one: google Minecraft.

I will think long and hard about what my punishment should be…perhaps a detention at Hobbs with no pocket money to spend. Or maybe I should give away some more of my back catalogue. For anyone following, the Kookai dress will be winging its way to a very good home very soon.

Today's Outfit Day 28

Déjà vu?

But enough of the self-flagalation. To the nitty gritty. I am hoping the quality of my homework will get me off the hook but, as every teacher knows, late homework hardly ever results in anything but bitter disappointment. Sorry, Miss. Sorry, Sir.

On day 28 I revisited a couple of pieces I’ve already paraded out for you…but that’s a victory in itself. I am, as a perennial rule follower, the kind of person who always wears her outfits the exact same way. Every time. Perhaps because I never had one of those toys where you mix and match cutesy little dolls’ outfits as a child. Do you know the ones? Those cut-out and stick-on thingamees with little glue tabs at the side.

To remind you: this is an Isabella Oliver (maternity) dress. The model in the catalogue was wearing the Japanese belt so, of course, I had to buy it too. Rules, dontcha know. But the NW3 by Hobbs blouse is my little rule-breaking twist. You might remember this blouse if you’ve been following…the one that previously made me look like Les Dawson!

The Topshop (possibly) belt

The belt: so old it’s almost vintage

Today, I wore a pleated ASOS maxi-skirt I thought was beyond all help. It’s got so much fabric, I could wrap it round me and a gaggle of oompa loompas…if the mood took me.

But it turns out that two other forlorn items were waiting for their moment of heroism. The top is from Oasis and hasn’t been worn for at least two years because it’s a little form-fitting and, for some bizarre reason, I couldn’t think how to wear it if not with jeans. All kinds of muffin-top-itus ensued, of course. But somehow, it works with the skirt and a 1970s throwback belt (I might have bought this from Topshop but I had to dig it out of a time capsule to rescue it and my memory really isn’t that long).

Todays outfit day 29 2

A trio of resurrections

I styled the skirt two ways. Do I get extra credit for that, at least? First, I put it with an NW3 by Hobbs blouse (another reappearance), and then a River Island shirt I bought so I could look the part on a Canadian ranch. When the ranch was gone, the shirt’s reason for living went right along with it. Perhaps this will keep it from the brink, though.

So…I’m off to write some lines. I will not shirk. I will not shirk. I will not shirk. Perhaps followed by: I must obey my own rules. I must obey my own rules. I must obey my own rules.

Today's Outfit Day 29 (Version 2)

Extra credit?

In defence of…my wardrobe! Day 27

The Kookai Dress

Up for grabs

When I started this project, I wasn’t naive enough to think every day would be a winner. In fact, I’m amazed at how many outfits I’ve managed to successfully resurrect. But today, alas, I finally came up short. And I can’t lie. The dress is not to blame. It’s actually the Honey Monster’s fault. Why? Because I seem to have developed his upper body and the zip only fastens to my waist.

Today's Outfit

A fond farewell

So, very sadly, this worn-around-three-times Kookai dress cannot be redeemed. I’m bidding au revoir to my little French friend: to the adorable pockets; the sweet cap-sleeves and the charming bow waist.

In the face of her demise, I couldn’t do anything other than don a pair of jeans. I couldn’t face digging out a new outfit. I needed time to mourn.

And now? Well, the way I see it, I have three choices. One: leave the dress hanging ruefully in my closet in the misguided hope that one day I will fit into it again (highly unlikely). Two: give it to charity (noble but a bit of a shame as I intend to do a big clear out at the end of this project anyway) or three: donate it to one of you fine readers.

The Waist Detail

The Waist Detail

I’m opting for number three. Well, it’s the least I could do after all the support you’ve given me over the past month. So, the choice is yours. It’s a European size 40 (a fairly unforgiving UK size 12…more like an 11 if you ask me). First person past the post wins (email only). I will even dry-clean it and mail it to you! If there are no takers in 24 hours from publishing this post, it’s off to the nearest thrift shop.

I’ve left the pictures unadulterated. Wet hair, no make-up, no shoes. A trilogy of sorrow.

In defence of…my wardrobe! Day 26

Today's Outfit

Moody in Monochrome

Surely there’s something in the marital vows that covers dedication to your wife’s internet musings: love, honour, comfort, cherish…pay attention to inane ramblings? Forsake all others but – for God’s sake – do not forsake the blog! It doesn’t bode well that even my husband is now shunning me in internet form.

And as if this betrayal (yes, betrayal) wasn’t enough, today was one of those days when nothing seemed to go to plan. Histrionics of the Little G kind before breakfast, close encounters of the dentist kind before lunch and career mishaps of the monumental kind before dinner. I won’t go into the details; enough to say I might be being just a tad melodramatic. But the sooner tomorrow comes, the better.


Necklace becomes a bracelet

It is some consolation – although not much – that I was able to dredge up another successful outfit from the sin bin that is my wardrobe. My day may have been drenched in failure but at least my clothes were not.

The Stolen Dress Socks

A little bit of winter warmth

Reinventing summer clothes for winter is my new favourite fashion trick. I dragged out this Warehouse maxi-dress to layer with an ASOS blouse that’s too big for me. In the name of a little hard-won success, however, let’s call it ‘over-sized’. Ideally, I’d cap it all off with a raggedy-Anne-style cable-knit cardi but, since I don’t have one, I’m shoe-horning this outfit into winter with a pair of my husband’s dress socks instead (well, he’ll never know since he’s not reading!) Perfect.

Monochrome is the thing for spring, apparently, but I’ll ignore the fact that I’m a few months too early and stay calm. No more melodramatic meltdowns here.

Sitting Pretty

It was all downhill from there!

In defence of…my wardrobe! Day 24

Today's Outfit

London Baby!

They say great minds think alike. Well, today, I’m getting involved with the #NYNYStyleProject – the brainchild of Alice Langley and Katy Dial. When I read about their idea, I knew instantly they were kindred spirits.

The idea of the project is to get women everywhere to change up their look and experiment with style – exactly my mission statement in my New Year’s resolution to reinvent my post-baby look and wear more of my neglected wardrobe.

The difference is, Alice and Katy have come up with a novel…and very exciting idea. Each month, they’re releasing a list of daily prompts to inspire your early morning dress-up session. Today’s prompt is ‘London’. So here we go…

This outfit, at first glance, might look more Parisian than London but let me explain why this screams London to me. I was wearing this Hilfiger t-shirt the day I climbed the O2…which, incidentally, was also the day I found out I was going to be a mum. So, a fairly momentous occasion for a woman who hates heights, but conquered her fear, and got a very special trophy into the bargain. Also a pretty natural choice for reinventing my post-mummy style…to go back to the very day I became a mum. It was also 2012, and Olympic frenzy was everywhere so there can be no clearer connection to the big smoke – and all its pomp and ceremony – for me.

Pearly King Bracelet

Pukka pearly bracelet

The belt is from the Pied A Terre dress that I blogged about a few days ago. This is the genius of my little voyage through my wardrobe (and the #NYNYStyleProject). It makes you see things in a different way. It sounds simple but, why should the belt stay glued to its parent garment? It won’t suffer separation anxiety.

The skirt is from Next and, even though I’m a bit more shapely than the average stick of celery, I love the form-fitting shape. Curves, I think, do tend to look better the more you show them off…rather than smothering them in a blanket of layers. Though I’m thinking figure hugging, not flesh flashing.

Today's Shoes

My ‘defying gravity’ Aldo shoes

Just to add a little more of London’s legend to the outfit, I went for a bracelet that is reminiscent of pearly Kings and Queens. Subtle? The shoes are also London spoils – I bought them from the Aldo store on Oxford Street and wore them ‘up West’ to see Wicked. Bingo. Direct hit, I think.

Tomorrow’s #NYNYStyleProject prompt is ‘fresh’ but, as you know if you’ve been reading, I just don’t do style on Sundays…but why don’t some of you have a go?

Top of the O2

Clinging on at the top of the O2

In defence of…my wardrobe! Day 23

Today's Outfit

Doing the double

If, like me, you were a child of the 90s, you’ll recognise this look. I’m thinking Gwen Stefani circa 1998; Bjork circa…oh I don’t know…sometime in her bonkers phase? Come on, now, own up: who amongst you rocked the skirt/trousers trend?

True, we came to our senses pretty quickly and ditched the questionable fad but now we’re older…are we any wiser? Yes. It’s back! And maybe skirt AND trousers wasn’t such a fashion debacle after all. Maybe two garments really are better than one.

You see, the thing is, we were doing it wrong! We should have been thinking demure and well-cut, not boho and mismatched. Another mistake we’ve bestowed upon the younger generation they’ve gone on to fix. Our old friend Emma Watson, she of quite surprising fashion kudos, once again shows us the way. I’m genuinely excited about this. I think it’s the first time ever, I’ve been at the forefront of a genuine fashion moment before it’s already fully exploded. Goodie.

Plus, I feel a bit like a French art student strutting down the Seine. What would I be drawing when I got to the Sorbonne? Stick men, of course. But the very best quality stick men…with a jaunty bowler hat, an umbrella or a funky triangular skirt.

Today's Accessories

Matchy, matchy manicure

The dress is Miss Patina for Topshop: a sweet little wrapover that I usually wear with leggings. But where’s the fun in that? I’ve paired it with navy cropped trousers from (oops, I lapsed) NW3 by Hobbs. Add one of my many neatly folded, never taken off the shelf, pashminas, another vintage brooch and the tap shoes we’ve seen many times now and Bob’s your uncle.

So what do you think? A fashion hit…or totally off-piste? Perhaps if you were there the first time, you ought to give the sequel a wide berth. Just think of Grease 2.

In defence of…my wardrobe! Day 22

Pied A Terre Dress

The dress in its pure form

What’s that line about small steps and giant leaps? Today, Little G took her first small step…a giant leap she’s been desperate to take since she was three months old. I, on the other hand, couldn’t get the lid off a jar of ready-made curry paste. I can’t sum up my day more poignantly than that.

It was one of those days that only parents understand. A day when eating, drinking and moving more than three paces from your child are all strictly prohibited. This is decreed in the age-old book of ‘Mwaaaagh!’ And each violation of said rules comes at an ear-screeching price. When Little G is older, she’ll probably have ChildLine on speed-dial…so that she can report me for drinking coffee when I should be facilitating in whatever vital new skill she’s determined to learn. At least today ended in triumph…usually these days just end with an enormous harrumph. And chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.

The Soiled Dress

Carnage: a crime against dry-cleaning

The state of today’s outfit at the end of the day is a pictorial testament to the enormous labours Little G and I have suffered. I should send it to CSI…there are at least 10 different substances lurking in the warp and weft. All of which came from Little G. But enough of the preamble; let’s get to the main event.

Today's Outfit

Preppy, preppy, preppy

This dress is the pinnacle of my misspent wages. It’s Pied a Terre…a brand I’ve never bought before or since. It is, in the interest of full and frank disclosure, the most expensive item of clothing I’ve ever bought. But it seemed like such an investment piece. It’s classic, elegant and has the cutest bow belt. It can be accessorised and updated in an instant. It’s the kind of dress you can wear 20 years down the line without it dating. Or that’s how I justified it at the time. In reality, I wore it to work half a dozen times. And washed it – in full knowledge that it’s dry-clean only. It survived but doesn’t that just demonstrate my scandalous disregard for the price of fish?? There can be no greater depravity than this: the care label is sacrosanct.

The Cute Belt

The bow belt…with the ‘out out’ lace top

However, this dress is as good as its word. I tried it out with all sorts of additions – all of which worked. It is an honest-to-goodness, genuine treasure. The classic LBD that every girl knows – because every magazine has informed her so – she needs in her wardrobe. The only problem is it shows off my arms. Not good. Very not good. Trinny and Susannah would not approve.

The Gerard Darel Blazer

Brown, black and grey?

So, it was back to the saviour of all style tricks…add a layer. At first I put my Planet lace top over it (which I’ve used before) – and it looked great but ‘going out’ great. You know: ‘out out’. In search of something a little more event-appropriate (coffee and cake), I skulked back to the wardrobe and dug out the oversized t-shirt I’ve also used before. I love the mixture of black and grey…and then I put my Gerard Darel blazer over the top and my world was awash with glory…until five minutes later, when it was awash with snot.

And, for anyone worried I’m about to waste away, I’ve eaten three Toblerone pieces practically whole whilst writing this. Who needs curry paste? I’m sure there’s plenty of nutrition in that!


Brown accents

In defence of…my wardrobe! Day 21

Whistles Dress

Body-Con anyone?

Kate Middleton has this dress. I seem to have a knack for predicting what she’ll wear…and do. My wedding dress was a bit like hers (I got married three weeks before her), we went to Canada on honeymoon – she went with Wills on their first married tour at the same time. She even managed to time Prince George’s arrival just after Little G and, despite being the opposite sex, she managed to choose an almost identical name…and an actually identical nickname. 

I’m not sure what to do with that, really. It’s hardly a skill. And I’m not sure it’s a ringing endorsement for my taste either. At least I can keep the dress for a rainy day…they’re selling on Ebay for twice what I paid.

Today's Outfit

Faking the con

Anyway, I’m pretty sure the Duchess has never worn her size skinny version quite like this. This is my lesson in how to cheapen a fairly pricey Whistles dress. And, I’ll confess, I didn’t actually wear it out. I didn’t dare!

It’s a body-con dress that I bought before the con in this bod was long-gone. Just for your information, that was also long before the Duchess stepped out in it at the 2012 Olympics.

It still looks okay…as long as I don’t turn sideways. In profile, I look like I’ve smuggled the Crown Jewels out of the Tower of London. There’s a tip for yours, Kate!

Dress and Jacket

Covering up a multitude of sins?

In theory, adding this Warehouse midi skirt was supposed to create the illusion of a flat(ter) stomach. Not quite a washboard…more like a wash barrel. But, still, just a little bit more flattering. It’s the kind of thing I’d see a stylist do in a magazine and suck my teeth at them for. Come on, now, who’s going to wear a skirt over a dress? Well…a woman on a mission, that’s who.

The whole ensemble is comfortable and, unless you know, it does look like a skirt and top but it just makes me look…what’s the polite way to say this? Like Jordan at a parents’ evening? I won’t elucidate. You know what I mean.

Topshop Shoes

Topshop skyscrapers

It’s the shoes. I tried to resurrect these ancient Topshop heels from the never-never-worn pile. Their soles aren’t even scratched but, after this, they’re destined for the charity sack in the sky. If you’re a size 3 (yes, really, a size 3), and you can walk a straight line in seven inches, give me a yell! Come to think of it, perhaps my Mum is the only woman on Earth who fits that bill…

Accessories were obvious…it had to be the K-Mid H-Sam specials. Not the Crown jewels…but genuine bling.

Sapphire and Diamond Earrings

Now, these, I actually wore!

In defence of…my wardrobe! Day 20

ASOS Sport Luxe Skirt

Angelina Jolie leg action

I give you forewarning this is going to be short and sharp…well, maybe not sharp. Little G is going through a rough patch sleep-wise and I have half a contact lens poking at my eyeball. Ah, there you go, the sharp bit! Enough said. So, here we go.

This is my Sport Luxe skirt. Wait a minute now, sport what?! Can this be right? What is this strange phenomenon? And, more importantly, why do I possess a such a curious oddity? In what universe did I think this was a good idea? In the ASOS universe, that’s where. In the universe of ASOS hallucination. You know what I mean. It’s the videos. Gorgeous models prancing towards you masterfully wearing whatever crazy fad you have your eye on. That explains it. Somehow they convinced me a Sport Luxe skirt with a knee-high split was just what I needed to fulfil my style potential.

Brown Leather Belt

There’s a waist there somewhere

This skirt, for me, is so many kinds of wrong I don’t know where to start. Too short, too fat, too prim (me…not the skirt). I blame the young trendy types I went to university with last year. That’s how this aberration happened. Pre-mid-life-crisis.

In my effort to salvage it, I’m trying it out with the stripey jumper (its third outing so far), my trusty old leather belt and the scruffy Converse trainers (again). It’s oh-so-comfortable but can I really get away with it? Maybe. Just about. From a distance. As long as I don’t start spouting rubbish about Lady Gaga and using phrases like ‘yolo’. There’s no surer way to add the mutton to the lamb.

Today's Outfit

Down with the kids

In defence of…my wardrobe! Day 19

Today's Outfit

If you’re happy and you know it…

We’ve made it to the penultimate week of my New Year’s Resolution to be more fashion-forward. I’m starting to appreciate my wardrobe for the glorious treasure chest it truly is. But, more importantly, this is the point at which I know I’ll probably make it to the end of the challenge. And it feels good. If I’d ever run a marathon, I’d be able to compare it to the final mile without guilt but I won’t insult fit people everywhere by employing the metaphor. I did attempt to take up running once…it didn’t go well. I think my legs are too short.

Well, the bods on the radio keep telling me I’m supposed to be miserable today. It’s the most depressing day of the year, they say. Okay, okay. I’ll try harder…but the problem is I just feel so damned chipper! Sorry about that. I really will try to sink into a pit of despair by tea time.

The reason for my glee might be this dress. It’s the perfect antidote to the Monday blues…or Blue Monday as I think today is traditionally known. Somehow, this Whistles dress makes me feel relaxed and glamorous all at the same time. And it’s far too playful to waste on a bad mood. It just makes me want to skip along, hands in pockets, whistling a merry tune…except adult skipping is generally frowned upon, and my attempts to whistle are usually met with guffaws.


Hard-working belt and cuff

This dress was always supposed to be a daily staple…but somehow ended up seldom worn. Probably because it was too short for work and too dressed-up for a saturday on the sofa. But now I’m a stay-at-home Mum (well, I am until the end of February), it’s perfect. Comfortable. Laid-back. Slightly more interesting than the usual chino/t-shirt combination.

Vintage Brooch

The first vintage brooch I ever bought

So, we have the Whistles dress, the John Lewis belt (turning out to be quite a handy buy at £6), the Topshop cuff and another vintage brooch. Well, I did warn you I had a collection. And, finally, the ‘go-with-anything’ Bertie boots.

Now I’m off to watch Schindler’s List, Steel Magnolias and Titanic on a loop until I am appropriately sad.