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.

In defence of…my wardrobe! Day 18

The French Connection Dress

A very naughty LBD

Right about now you’re probably wondering how much longer I can keep this up. How many more spurned items of clothing can possibly be lurking in the darkness of my wardrobes? The answer is: I’m ashamed to admit the answer…far too many.

Ever over-prepared, on friday I dug into my closets and pulled together the next week’s worth of outfits. And I barely even made a dent. This is good for the purposes of this blog…but bad for the soul.

With every day that passes, I become more and more amazed and bemused by my sheer, unadulterated materialism. How in the world have I managed to amass such an enormous collection? And how in the world can I be so remiss about actually wearing it all? Instead of splurging on all this unnecessary stuff, I could’ve been investing; I could’ve been trotting the globe (well, I might have got as far as Blackpool); I could’ve been giving to charity.

Today's Outfit

Utterly redeemed

I keep thinking of the Beckhams. Not in some twisted stalker way, I promise. Do you remember their donation of 20 boxes of clothes to the British Red Cross? That’s what I keep thinking of: Victoria Beckham sitting atop a box, cross-legged and worthy. Trounced by the morality of the Beckhams. Maybe it’s time to have a clear out…and cleanse the soul just a little bit.

Here’s today’s outfit then. It’s a pleated, crepe French Connection dress I wore a lot…until my students thought it was a maternity dress. It happens, ladies, doesn’t it? To us all, sadly. And it’s the one thing that’ll kill any outfit right off.

So, since then, it’s been on the naughty list. But another t-shirt (from Whistles), that forever useful grosgrain belt and my much-loved, much-beaten Converse trainers, and all is forgiven.

My husband doesn’t get this one. I love it. That’s pretty much all there is to say.

In defence of…my wardrobe! Day 16 and 17

The Isabella Oliver Dress

Too lazy?

You know what they say about buses. Well, it seems it applies to blog posts too. Two come along at once…well, they do when you’ve got the lurgy!

You might not know that babies get between eight and ten colds in their first year. Each one lasts up to ten days. So, potentially, you could be looking at a tired, grumpy baby for around 100 days in year one. That’s 27% of their life before their first birthday. And 27% of yours.

Your first thought when your baby gets a cold is ‘poor mite’, swiftly followed by ‘poor me!’ which then gives way to ‘damn nursery germy kids!’ And, like Eliot when he becomes one with ET, if baby suffers, so must you. You will inevitably get ill.

Today's Outfit

Simple change…big difference

So yesterday I had a slight relapse into leggings. The dress is a hangover from maternity wear but to the unitiated, could be any old maxi dress. It’s from Isabella Oliver, ruches in all the right places, and is the dress equivalent to a cosy pair of slippers. Just what you need when your skin’s on fire and your stomach feels like you’ve had a particularly naughty gastric band fitted…the Dr. Evil of all gastric bands.

Orelia Necklaces

Could almost be Pilgrim, no?

I did try the virgin version of this outfit – totally sans gimmick – but prefer it with a simple striped jumper over the top. It just looked like I’d made an effort that way. Which I hadn’t.

I accessorised it with a cheapie John Lewis belt and a pair of Orelia necklaces. You’ve heard the saying: more is more. Or something like that. But the best accessories are the pallid cheeks and sweat-soaked brow. The best-dressed patient in town.

Whistles Midi Skirt

Winter yellow?

Today, feeling only marginally better, I pulled off what I consider to be a real wardrobe coup.I’ve been trying to coax this Whistles skirt out into the winter months for years. Poor thing feels the cold terribly. But, with this cable jumper from Asos, and the same blue belt from yesterday, I think she’s found her inner Snow Queen.

Today's Outfit

Whistles and ASOS

Ideally, I’d pair it with knee-high boots but, since I’m not allowed to cheat and go out and buy a pair, the suede Bertie ankle boots will have to do.


Twinkle, twinkle

Reinventing this skirt for winter was a necessity, really, considering the British weather. I have worn it over the years but only on rare sunny days. So…about three times. Hardly economical.

Having said that, the sheer, light-weight fabric is yet to go out and be tested in the bracing wind. That should be fun. I’m sure she’ll creep back into hiding with her tail between her legs after that adventure.

Whistles Skirt, ASOS Jumper

Yes but can she withstand the wind?

In defence of…my wardrobe! Day 15

Today's Outfit

Stylish, non?

Getting ready with Little G in tow is like juggling with a bag of knives…with a ticking bomb attached…whilst a mad box of frogs tap-dance on my brain.

In a perfect world, this would not happen – I’d get up at the mellow tweet of my alarm, do battle with the mirror and have breakfast on the go before she even wakes up. But this is not the world of Betty Crocker. This is the world of midnight vomit.

Needless to say, this morning I got ready in a whirlwind before Little G could do serious damage to herself…or the house.

I’ve been desperate (minor overstatement – forgive me) to do double Breton since I saw someone called Olivia Palermo (who’s wardrobe I feel like I’ve visited for supper but who’s actual function I’m not quite sure of) dressed like this. Did you see? She’s also wearing the flat tap-shoes I resurrected recently. So I must be stylish. Palermo says so.

Anyway, since then, I’ve tried every possible pairing of stripes I have – and I have a lot – with zero success. It’s actually really difficult to marry up stripes in perfect harmony. I know – why wasn’t I recognised for this monumental effort in the New Year’s Honours List?!

Finally, I tried these: a Whistles sweater and an Oasis midi skirt. Look…no Hobbs! Feeling a bit like Forrest Gump running free of his leg braces. Wobbly but strangely empowered.

Mismatched Breton

The perfectly matched, mismatched Breton

The sweater is one of my go-to gals. It was part of the loot on a shopping trip that also harvested a Whistles dress (also Breton), and a Gerard Darel blazer – amongst other things. Those were the days. Nowadays, this seems pretty hedonisitc. I’d probably have to cash in my liver to even consider such a spree. Worth entertaining the notion.

Even though I wear the sweater all the time, it’s never quite looked as chic as I’d hoped. I always felt a bit like a sausage on a sailing trip in it. I’d put this down to my failure to actually be French. Unfortunate that. An oversight on my part. If only I were French, I’d think, I’d know the magical formula for I-just-don’t-give-a-damn-Breton. But, actually, all it needed was a friend!

The Silver Bangle

A lifetime of luck…hopefully!

Hair and accessories were sorted out in the dying seconds of the ticking bomb…before Little G had absolutely had enough of eating my cosmetics bag and marvelling at the mirror. I had to think fast. So, this silver bracelet was ideal. Understated, classic, perfectly casual.

Throw on a belt I liberated from a Ted Baker dress and the dependable Russell and Bromley brogues and there you have it – the perfect Anglo-Saxon combo. You can’t get more British than brogues.

And, wondrously, we have arrived at the half way point. 15 days into my New Year’s Resolution to wear the unworn, style the unloved and ditch the milk-drowned.

Yes, there really are 15 more days to go. Glass half full; glass half empty? Although, if you don’t count sundays, there are actually only 14 (let’s call it time off for good behaviour).