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 9

Whistles Dress

Snake print goes demure

I’m starting to dread opening my wardrobe doors. Every ferret in their depths brings me closer and closer to the possibility of coming up empty-handed…and leaving you all with white noise. Just between us, I don’t take failure all that well. A round of Scrabble can bring on a monumental sulk (but then, some people do cheat!)

Not that there aren’t oodles more lacklustre or forgotten items sandwiched together on my wardrobe rails, waiting hopefully. But every successful outfit is a journey towards the misshapen, the faded, the badly bobbling. I’m starting to seriously doubt I have another 18 days left in there…but – just as in Scrabble – I refuse to cheat.

So, I’ve turned to this Whistles dress. It’s not forgotten. It’s not lacklustre and it’s not unworn. I adore it…and, to prove it, I’ve worn it a full three times in two years: one theatre trip, one party, one wedding. Is that a bad average? 1.5 wears per year at around £50 a wear. Yes. That’s a very bad average. And that’s my justification for choosing it…I was determined to find a way to wear it casually.

This dress should be several (scarlet) shades of wrong. It’s red. It’s snake-print. It’s see-through. Sounds like a walk down a dark alley. But it works. And not only that, it’s the most demure dress I’ve ever worn. Who’d have thunk it?

Today's Outfit

Librarian chic

I’ve paired it – after the usual round of ill-tempered deliberation – with a Topshop jumper I bought when I was pregnant. In sympathy with my enormous belly, the jumper very thoughtfully decided to grow right along with it. How kind. It grew. And it grew. It’s now so big it’s at a point where I could only conceivably wear it if I’d lost half my body weight and was having a picture taken for a weight-loss magazine to illustrate the sheer size of my loss. You’ve seen the kind. But, like so many of the other things I’ve tried in the last week, it had a pleasant surprise to offer with a very simple adjustment. A belt. And that was that.

French Plait

No botox here

Two little somethings blue for accessories, the tap shoes we’ve seen before and an unkempt French plait completed the look. Oh, and a vintage marcasite brooch (I have a collection of vintage brooches – yet another unplundered pot of goodies).

I learned to French plait from my Mum. She used to plait my hair a lot – so tightly I probably looked like I’d had botox…at 9! Whilst that skill might come in handy one day, for now, this one is a little less taught. Laziness – and ineptitude – mostly but also, has anyone else noticed how painful it is to do your own hair?!

I hope this doesn’t mean I have to start going to the gym; that’s the one endeavour in which I’m perfectly content to fail.

Vintage Brooch

Vintage marcasite brooch

Bracelet

My Mum’s bracelet…ssh, not sure she knows I have it!

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