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!

1.

Long shot of outfit

2.

The Phase Eight Cardigan

3.

Today's Outfit

4.

Today's Outfit

5.

Today's Outfit

In defence of…my wardrobe! Day 8

The Phase Eight Cardigan

The questionable cardi

There are 19 days left in January. I know because I counted…and I had to count twice through my squinted, tired eyes. Another 19 outfits to somehow cobble together from odds and sods. Safe to say I’m waning.

Plus, I have to apologise for the photos today – they’re a little grainy (but they look how I feel so I suppose they’re appropriate). My official photographer is on a business trip!

Today's Outfit

Those FCUK trousers again

Today, I was absolutely desperate for a casual day. I just wanted to throw on a pair of jeans and go…but after tipping the entire contents of both my wardrobes (yes, I have two) onto my misfit body and then (in a rage) onto the floor, I had to relent. Once again, I submit. I just don’t do jeans. I can’t actually fathom how jeans became such a fashion staple – they’re impossible to wear unless you’ve got golf clubs for legs and the average size of women in Britain is a 16. It’s infuriating. Remember, this garment is the origin of the phrase ‘muffin top’. Why would we befriend such an obvious enemy?

The Clashing Patterns

Clashing perfectly…or just clashing?

This Phase Eight cardigan has been squashed into the orphaned corner of my wardrobe since I was a size 10. I don’t even remember when that was…it seems unfeasible now that I ever was! I do remember buying it…at a time when I thought I was a bit of a kooky dresser but instead of adding a touch of quirk to my wardrobe it just ended up looking a bit frumpy with everything I paired it with. Sometimes I’d look at it adoringly but that’s as close as it got to fulfilling its sartorial purpose.

The blouse is from Hobbs…again. It’s one of the lucky ones – sometimes, it actually gets called up for duty but I’ve never been satisfied with the way it fits. It’s one of those fashionably short things that does absolutely nothing for the biscuit box (aka my mum-tum). Another example of fashion designing for the fortunate few. Why, when so many of us are wearing muffin-top jeans already, would we want a cropped blouse to add to the horror?

The Top

Just a hint of Les Dawson

To prove I’m not being melodramatic (excepting the fact that this whole 30-day blogathon is dabbling more than a little bit in that genre), I feel the need to show you what it looks like without the previously-dowdy-but-possibly-now-cool cardi. Not bad but I do resemble that frumpy bosom-nudging battleaxe Les Dawson used to play. You know the one. It’s those damned giant apples yet again.

But maybe the cardigan has at last found its calling. I can’t tell whether the fairisle is expertly clashed with the shoe-print blouse or whether they just make a bizarre couple but at least the cardigan gives me back some shape. How do you like them apples?

Shoes and Trews

Scruffy Suede Cons

In defence of…my wardrobe! Day 7

For those of you who are just joining me, catch up with why I’m on this little tangent into fashion blogging here.

Today's Outfit

Harrumph! It’ll do…

Up-to-date? Then let’s begin. 2013 was momentous for me – in triplicate. Firstly, I cooked an 8lb bun (not easy when you’re 5ft 2in…and a smidge) but being a bona fide masochist, that wasn’t challenge enough for me. As well as carting my truly enormous bump around for nine months, I did an MA in journalism – much to the amazement of all and sundry. And to complete the perfect triple, I deserted my reasonably paid job as a teacher in favour of motherhood (and, if I’m impossibly lucky, a little freelance writing).

Eye Make-Up

A little Lancôme

The maternity pay has dwindled to nothing and it’s only now I look at the many outcasts in my closet that I realise just how much I took money for granted when I was working. Whistles and Hobbs were staple workwear and nothing was saved for best or put on a pedestal. All clothes were created equal. And it didn’t matter if I seldom wore a statement dress. I could afford to wear it once and store it for later…for posterity maybe.

Now that I’m no longer earning a daily crust, the way I think about clothes has changed. Everything has to come out and play. Dresses need to be versatile enough to wear and re-wear. I no longer get an invite to a wedding and immediately consider a shopping trip (well, not every time!) I still buy from my favourite shops – although more sparingly and usually in the sale but, these days, I’m much more likely to buy cheap and experiment with brands. Sadly (for me), I do find that fabrics or shapes tend to be less flattering on my figure – as with this ASOS skirt.

The Stolen Belt

The Stolen Belt

The paisley pattern has an almost vintage, tea-stained quality and the heavy jersey makes it feel more luxurous than it should for the price but the elasticated waistline is a dead giveaway. It just doesn’t forgive misdemeanours (of the biscuit variety). That one minor detail robs this skirt of its true status as a wardrobe wonder. You see, it just makes me feel fat. Let’s be absolutely clear: being slightly thicker around the waist than your average catwalk model is perfectly acceptable to me. Feeling it, on the other hand, simply is not!

A trio of accessories

A trio of accessories

I just about managed to salvage the skirt with a very old Warehouse top, and a belt stripped rather unapolegitcally from a Whistles dress I love. The slightly witchy Aldo shoes I got (rather fittingly) on a trip to see Wicked and they always make me click my heels with Dorothy-like tenacity. Those, and a bit of colour around the neckline, certainly help re-route my mind from my midriff but I wouldn’t say the ensemble was a total success. I like the way it looks but it still doesn’t make me feel like a supermodel. And, even if I will never actually be one, I absolutely demand that every stitch I wear makes me feel like one! Am I being unreasonable?

Today's Shoes

My ‘defying gravity’ Aldo shoes

In defence of…my wardrobe! Day 6

Gieves and Hawkes Shirt

A little something blue…and borrowed!

While the cat’s away, the mouse will play…with his clothes! I’ll admit, the whole ‘boyfriend look’ passed me by. I was under the mistaken assumption that one had to be waspishly thin to pull it off but, today, with only a full-bodied bumble bee in sight, I’m giving it a go. Except, this pilfered Gieves and Hawkes shirt really should be classified as the ‘husband look’. He’s on a business trip so he’ll never know. Although, worryingly, he has started following me on Twitter…

This morning, I got up an hour before my daughter, full of energy and ready to start our day…excited to ransack wardrobes. So there you have it, there’s something in this clothes malarkey. For the first time in months, I have beans! Okay, coincidentally, Little G started sleeping through the night recently – after nine relentless months of sleep deprivation – so that may have something to do with it too. But, seriously, this little experiment of mine is definitely working. Like any other day, I have a ‘to do’ list (what I have where my brain used to be)…and, at half past ten in the morning, it’s almost complete!

But back to the outfit. I never thought I could rock a buttoned-up shirt. When I was little, my family used to refer to me as ‘no-neck’…I know, how I suffered(!) And remember those giant apples I told you about? There need be no further explanation than that. But, here I am, embracing it…the merest hint of my no-neck on display.

NW3 by Hobbs SkirtThis tweed girl is the main event though. She has been a bit forsaken and had only flirted with fresh air a couple of times even though I’ve had her for about two years. She’s a little bit bell-shaped and, sadly – at certain angles – makes me look ever-so-slightly bell-shaped too. But, sod it. Ding Dong. With a belt and the shirt, I’m happy to tinkle.

Ring and Plait

Scruffy elegance

Accessories are simple today. Just this French ruby and diamond ring I bought from Ebay for £90. I love me some bling, especially paired with the casual scruffiness of this unkempt fishtail braid. You have to give me kudos for trying with that – I’m definitely a hair rookie and don’t have any of the necessary kit (spot the huge hair band in the main pics?).

This outfit is also giving the kiss of life to a pair of Dickins and Jones shoes. They’re just a little bit tap-shoe esque and haven’t really had their moment on the dance floor but one shouldn’t neglect one’s shoes! So here they are…ready to rumba.

Dickins and Jones Shoes

Ballroom glamour

And there you have it. Not changing the world but changing my world…just a little bit. One outfit at a time. Now, Little G and I have some shapes to sort and I’m pretty sure I just heard the Boden catalogue land on the door mat! Old habits die hard.

Today's Outfit

My best bent-legged model pose

In defence of…my wardrobe! Day 4

Today's Outfit

Today’s challenge

Today, as promised, is a good fashion day. Yes, it’s a dress – my favoured uniform – and, yes, it’s NW3 by Hobbs – a brand I adore – but that doesn’t mean this was easy. In fact, I get oh-so-many brownie points for this one.

This autumnal patterned dress is gorgeous but, uncharacteristically for me, has been languishing in my wardrobe for about seven months without so much as a peek at sunlight. Poor dear. This, I promise you, is its debut and, for me, it’s a truly triumphant one.

To the back-story then. Prepare yourselves because this is going to come as a shock. Your body changes when you’ve had a baby. Not surprised? Well, believe it or not, this obvious little detail shocked the hell out of me!

When I bought this stunning pleated dress, I thought it had me written all over it – the kind of thing I’d wear almost habitually to work or to lunch with friends so, when I saw it on sale (and feeling desperate to wear something other than grim, flap-ridden nursing tops), I clicked it into my cart and waited for the postie with bated breath.

Imagine my disappointment when my not-quite-perfect-but-nicely-voluptuous-hour-glass figure had suddenly become…what, an apple? No. Two giant apples and a watermelon in a sack. Oh. Dear. But, mawkish to the end about my beloved Hobbs, I could not send it back. They had done no wrong. It was I who had committed the crime against fashion…or rather my errant paunch. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not repulsed by my post-baby body. In fact I’m quite stalwart in my admiration of it but facts are facts. This dress no longer suited me. Until, that is, I made a simple resolution…

Long shot of outfit

Happy bunny

So, here it is and all it took was a scraggy, oversized t-shirt to make me fall totally and utterly in love.

Boots and Bag

Bertie boots and Camden Market bag

The bag and boots too, have scant seen love since they came into my life. I bought the bag from Caaaamden market last January and it hasn’t adorned my shoulder since then. Likewise, the suede Bertie boots – bought on the same trip to London – have taken barely a step out of the closet. I told you: brownie points…

…in fact, so many brownie points that tonight I am going out to dinner in a brand new Hobbs dress. Because I can. I’ve earned it. Well, at least the earrings have been dredged up from the abandoned jewellery pile – an unworn vintage Ebay buy intended for my wedding day three years ago that were ditched in favour of a better pair. Well, tonight, they finally go to the ball!

The New Dress

Smug…very smug

So, here are the details:

Earrings

First apply earrings…

Tights

Seasonally appropriate legwear

Sleeves

The humble t-shirt – a saving grace

Outfit with Hobbs Coat

A stroll in Manchester