Month: January 2012

The 10/10 challenge: Robyn

If you remember from last week’s post, the 10/10 challenge was inspired by the idea of multi-purposing basic items into a variety of outfits; in this case, 10 items, 10 outfits. For Robyn’s take on the challenge, the items she chose were as follows:
Wool blazer (Esprit)
Black cardigan (Reitmans)
Boot cut jeans (Silver)
Denim skirt (Ricki’s)
Black and white dress (Ricki’s)
Two floral print tops (Ann Taylor and Ricki’s)
Knit top (Mexx)
And her fun item, a silk print top (Nine West)

The results were 10 cool outfits that can take Robyn pretty much anywhere from work to play, and everything in between. As always, accessories played a big role in creating different looks from the same pieces … although, as she learned pretty quickly, a pair of black, pointy-toe pumps go with practically everything.

Stay tuned next week for Laura’s 10/10 challenge!

Manicure of the week: Rouge Noir

Aaahhh … finally! The one and only: Vamp. Or, rather, Rouge Noir. See, it goes like this. Chanel’s polish naming and numbering system is a bit wonky. The original Vamp – the dark red creme we all lovingly remember from way back in those Pulp Fiction days – had the number 18, and was also released as Rouge Noir in Europe (under the same number). [To complicate matters further, there is another, different colour also numbered 18.] Since then, Chanel has released another polish named Vamp (but with a different number), which is a shimmery version of the original. As a result, there are two polishes called Vamp, three with the number 18, and one that has two different names. Whew!

Back to Rouge Noir. It really is gorgeous, and I am glad that – almost 20 years later – I finally got to try it. This is a true, “vampy” polish – almost-black, sleek, with a glass-like finish.

Application was a little bit trickier than I am used to with Chanel cremes. The polish was thicker than usual, and it didn’t flow quite as easily; after two medium coats, I still had some bald spots. I think that slightly thinner coats, and more careful application (in other words, taking more than the 5 minutes I usually have) might solve these issues.

After a couple of days, I decided to switch things up a bit and layer a coat of Barielle’s Elle’s Spell over my Rouge Noir mani. Elle’s Spell is a flakie polish with a red jelly base; the flakes are predominantly red, but they do flash gold and green at certain angles, and especially in the sunlight. With patience, it’s a buildable polish (would probably take 4 coats to be opaque), but I prefer it as a top coat. Sorry for the ginormous photo, but it was the only way to show off that flakie goodness.

For my “inspired” outfit, I wanted to keep things simple, with a “vampy” palette of white, black and red.
I love the drop-waist of this Club Monaco dress; it can be a trickier silhouette for curvy gals like me, but the shorter, above-the-knee hem length keeps it from looking dowdy or sack-like. Also love the shoulder pleats, which give a slightly exaggerated, severe line, perfect for balancing any pear shape tendencies. Joan Crawford would be proud.

Happy weekend!

The 10/10 challenge

I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions. If I did, they would probably involve things like “floss more” and “eat more veggies” which would undoubtedly make me feel virtuous for the entire five minutes it would take for me to either forget and/or break them. Resolutions, like broccoli, are all fine and good in principle; in practice, they’re things that somehow always end up at the bottom of your to-do list, or your plate at the end of a meal. [I make an exception for stir-fried broccoli, because, well, a bit of fat makes anything taste better.]
So, while this year as in the past, I haven’t made any resolutions, had I done so, they would be, generally speaking, something along the lines of “floss more”, “exercise restraint in the ice cream aisle”, and “simplify your life”. In the spirit of the latter, I have been working on de-cluttering my closet – a not insignificant endeavour. Life as a stay-at-home mom is fairly conducive to the task, since I currently need far fewer clothes than I did in my working life. I have been able to be quite ruthless with my metaphorical axe so far. The true test will come in about six months’ time, when I’ll be heading back to the office. In the meantime, I have been inspired by the on-going quest (and a friend’s suggestion) to try a little experiment. 
The key to streamlining a wardrobe is versatility. When you cut down on the number of pieces you have, everything has to work together. This is actually a good test for deciding what stays and what goes: can you make the piece work with the staples in your closet, or is it “high maintenance” – does it need a very specific list of accessories to make it work? Sometimes, an item will have sentimental value that transcends such practical concerns; more often, though, it’s just a piece you rarely wear because, well, it’s just not versatile enough. 
The 10/10 challenge is simple: 10 pieces, 10 different outfits. Because my friends Robyn and Laura decided to join me in the challenge, I put together a list of general categories of items, so that we could work from the same “script” as it were, personalizing it based on our respective closets and styles. I picked the categories with a view to giving us the most options for mixing and matching, although they could easily be tweaked depending on personal preferences. Here is the list:
1 blazer/jacket
1 cardigan or sweater
1 solid colour top
2 print tops
1 pair of pants (or leggings)
1 pair of jeans
1 skirt
1 dress
1 fun item
(shoes and accessories are extra)
The first thing I did, in selecting my 10 pieces, was to pick a colour theme – black, blue, purple and grey. Given my still-extensive wardrobe, this made it easier for me to zero in on pieces for my list; the same approach would also be helpful when shopping for new pieces. What I ended up with included: a boiled wool jacket (Anthropologie); grey cashmere sweater (swapped); print blouse (Tommy Hilfiger); striped t-shirt (Anthropologie); turtleneck (Winners); black cropped pants (Banana Republic); jeans (Abecrombie & Fitch); dress (Costa Blanca); wrap skirt (Club Monaco); and my fun item, a sequin tank (Winners).
Here are the outfits I put together from my 10 pieces – nothing earth-shattering, for sure, but definitely wearable and practical.

Stay tuned this month for Robyn and Laura’s takes on the 10/10 challenge.