Month: September 2013

My Wardrobe Overhaul: a Sort-of Manifesto

As my previous hints (and the “Shop My Closet post) probably tipped you off, I’m slowly working my way through a massive wardrobe overhaul that, if all goes well, should leave my closet looking quite different by this time next year. A variety of factors have contributed to my tackling this project now. In recent months, I’ve become much more conscious about the wider impacts of my personal shopping habits, and have started to look for ways to not continue contributing to the “fast fashion” phenomenon, with all its attendant social and economic consequences. I’ve also started to feel a need to take a more critical look at my current style and refine it so that it better reflects my current life, self-image, and aspirations. At 33, I’m undeniably a “grown-up”; time to start dressing like a grown-up – my version of one, anyway. My existing wardrobe is fine, but it’s still replete with purely sentimental items, style missteps, and less-than-great purchases made in a past when quantity rather than quality was my guiding principle.

A complete wardrobe overhaul is an intimidating prospect if you don’t have a concrete plan. Although I’m an obsessive planner (and list-maker) generally, when it comes to clothing, I tend to be more impulsive than meticulous. If I see a blouse I love, I’m going to buy it – even if what I really need is a coat. My closet has always grown organically rather than in a planned fashion; thus, putting together a plan for my wardrobe overhaul has proven almost impossible. Every time I start to try, I just give up and log into eBay to look up random things instead. Of course, this is no way to go about a wardrobe overhaul successfully (or economically). So I’ve drawn up some general guidelines for myself to stay on track.

Upgrade Quality

I’m slowly going through my existing closet and weeding out pieces that are starting to wear out, or are of dubious quality. Polyester is one of my main targets here, as are pieces from “fast fashion” retailers like H&M, Joe Fresh, Zara, and the like. I don’t necessarily plan on replacing all of the pieces I end up discarding (selling or donating). If some happen to be true wardrobe “staples” (like, say, a black cardigan), I will start looking for a replacement – of the best quality I can afford. In doing so, I will be paying close attention not only to the “made of” tag (looking for natural fibers or blends), but also the “made in” one too. As I wrote before, I’m not sure it’s feasible for me to commit to buying only “made in the USA” or “made in Europe” items, but I will try to do so whenever possible.

Reduce Volume

I love variety. Especially when it comes to clothes. I will never be one of those wardrobe minimalists who can count the items in her closet on two hands (or even 10). With that said, the sight of an overstuffed closet does make me anxious; I hate clutter in all its forms. Going forward, I want to edit down my wardrobe exclusively¬† to pieces I absolutely adore and forgo the rest, even if it’s “okay”. I want to love every outfit I put on, even if it means wearing the same outfit more than (gasp!) once or twice a month. This goal will surely spell the end of any plans for a future Remix Challenge, at least in the weekly format previously featured on the blog. And that’s fine – there is a limit to how many Adina selfies y’all can stomach, after all.

Re-think Style

This will be the hardest part. As I get older, I am increasingly drawn to simple, classic – indeed, minimalist – looks. But my heart still cries out for fripperies – loud prints, bright colours, bling everything. I’ve been having a hell of a time reconciling my “Jekyll and Hyde” style persona lately, but I’m determined to do it … and leave behind as many of my magpie instincts as possible. Still, I’m keeping my expectations realistic. I will never have a closet consisting solely of neutral colours; there will always be a “statement” or two in there. I’m simply aiming for statements that are more akin to a whisper than a poke in the eye.

Ultimately, I want to look as “grown-up” as I feel (or would like to feel) without going full-on “old lady”. (To paraphrase a modern classic, “you never go full-on old lady” – especially not after 30.) It’s going to be a fine balancing act, and I fully expect to stumble more than once. That is one of the reasons why I’m giving myself a whole year (or more, if necessary) to complete this wardrobe overhaul. Another, equally important one, is my budget. As tempting as it is to go on a mad shopping binge – well, a madder one than I’ve currently been on – it’s not something I’m in any position to undertake at this time. Taking it slow and steady will hopefully give me enough time to carefully re-think my style, and avoid any shopping blunders in the process.

There you have it: my wardrobe overhaul manifesto. I hope you’ll join me on my “journey” over the next year, all the better to witness the good, the bad, and the possibly baffling. Hey, I will never¬†not have a soft spot for “grandma’s couch” florals!

Nail Polish Collecting: A England

Although I haven’t featured it in a while, my nail polish collection continues to grow – albeit at a much more leisurely pace than last year. And it doesn’t consist of Chanel polishes exclusively, either.Today, I want to show you one of my other favourite brands, A England.

A England started as an indie brand, in that it’s not owned by a big cosmetics manufacturer. However, with the explosion of the indie market (which now includes everyone and her sister concocting nail polishes in their kitchen and selling them on Etsy), A England has become something of a grande dame of the indie contingent. It’s now sold on Nail Polish Canada, among other big e-retailers. Its creator, Adina Bodana lives in the UK and draws the inspiration for her collections from the canons of English literary history. Her first collection, entitled The Mythicals, was inspired by Arthurian stories; the follow-up collection was inspired by the legend of St. George and the dragon (aptly entitled The Legend). She has done subsequent smaller collections based on famous literary heroines, and most recently the fairy tale of Briar Rose.

Interesting back-stories aside, the true mark of great polish brand is the formula and the colour palette. On both grounds, A England does not disappoint. For my personal stash, I have gravitated towards A England’s scattered holo polishes, so I can’t speak as authoritatively for its other offerings, though I assume the quality is the same. A England holos are superb – almost all of them are one-coaters that apply incredibly smoothly. The colours are rich and saturated (so much so that some occasionally do stain a little bit on removal), and absolutely gorgeous. Don’t take my word for it – take a look:

A England
My A England collection

Up first from the left in the above picture, we have Princess Sabra from The Legend collection. I can best describe it as a mossy, golden yellow; it definitely leans towards green, very reminiscent of yellow-green cats’ eyes. For good reason, then, this polish is also known as Tristam’s Eyes (Tristam being Adina’s cat).

A England Princess Sabra
Princess Sabra (both with camera flash)

Although all A England holos look quite sparkly under artificial lights, they are far more mellow in natural light and some, like Princess Sabra, are positively demure. The holo is, as I mentioned, of the scattered type which results in a rainbow-aura effect, rather than a linear-rainbow one. A bit more subtle, but still so gorgeous.

St. George, also from The Legend collection, is a stunning teal blue. If you look at it very, very closely, you can see the mix of green and blue shimmering particles that are mixed in. St. George is one of the most pigmented A England polishes I have tried, so it requires careful (and thorough) removal. On the plus side, it’s a one-coater for sure.

A England St. George
St. George

As an aside, I have found that top coat does nothing to diminish the holo-ness of A England holos (probably because they are of the scattered variety), so don’t be afraid to add a layer to your A England manicure for some extra shine.

Tristam, from The Mythicals, is a beautiful navy blue with slight purple leanings. The second shot below (on the right) gives a slightly more accurate idea of its colour, though it does look brighter and more blue in the sunlight (picture on the left).

A England Tristam
Tristam (left, sunlight; right, camera flash)

Briar Rose, from the Burne-Jones Dream collection, is an intense, cool crimson. As with most red holographic polishes, it is not a strong holo as compared to the others; this doesn’t really matter, because it is such a gorgeous colour. You know how much I love my Chanel reds, so you can appreciate what it means for me to say that Briar Rose is up there with them as one of my favourite red polishes of all time.

A England Rose Bower
Rose Bower (left, sunlight; right, natural light)

Rose Bower, also from the same collection, is a beautiful, deep rose-mauve. There is a slight smokiness to it that makes it quite unusual. Although it’s hard for me to pick an A England overall favourite, this would definitely be one of the contenders. And I’m not even a fan of pink-leaning polishes usually!

A England Rose Briar
Rose Briar (left, natural light; right, sunlight)

I should mention that, as compared to earlier collections, the Burne-Jones Dream polishes have a slightly thicker formula. Whereas the other polishes can be one-coaters (I usually end up doing two coats anyway), these ones are definitely one-coaters-and-no-more. The coverage is incredible – no bald spots, no brush strokes, just beautiful, rich colour.

Ascalon, from The Legend collection (named after the sword of St. George), is a silvery grey that leans towards lavender. It’s almost a duochrome, and looks quite sophisticated, especially on shorter nails.

A England Ascalon
Ascalon (left, camera flash; right, natural light)

Princess Tears, also from The Legend, is something of a companion to Ascalon – an ethereal silvery lavender. The colour reminds me a lot of one of my favourite OPI Designer Series polishes, Diamond. It is incredibly flattering on my skin tone, and perfect for a “lady-like” manicure – lovely to look at it, but not in-your-face.

A England
Princess Tears (both natural light)

Dragon, again from The Legend collection, is a very much in-your-face polish, living up to its name perfectly. It’s a true green, and leans neither too blue nor too yellow. It’s not my favourite A England, simply because I find that my wardrobe needs a more emerald shade of green to complement it. With that said, Dragon is gorgeous nonetheless.

A England
Dragon (left, camera flash; right, natural light)

Lady of the Lake, from The Mythicals collection, is a medium, subdued purple. I find it has an almost faded quality to it; it’s definitely not as intense of a colour as some of the other A England holos, though the formula itself is no less superb. I think the reason why this is probably the only “meh” shade for me is that it doesn’t really do much for my skin tone.

A England
Lady of the Lake (left, sunlight; right, natural light)

Sleeping Palace, from the Burne-Jones Dream collection, is the opposite – a purple I love. It’s a vampy, smoky, greyed-out purple that’s quite stunning on the nail.

A England
A England Sleeping Palace (left, sunlight; right, camera flash)

Last, but definitely not least, Briarwood is another contender for my personal A England favourite spot. A lit-from-within, darkened coppery russet, it reminds me of a holo version of OPI’s Germanicure (another favourite of mine). It’s another vampier shade that still manages to positively glow on the nail.

A England
A England Briarwood (both camera flash)

A England polishes are available online at Nail Polish Canada for $13.50, as well as other e-retailers. What do you think of my little stash, and do you have any favourites?

INTRODUCING …

I am so excited to introduce the newest addition to our family: Teodora!

Teodora
Teodora

Our precious little girl was born on September 7, 2013 at 12:17 p.m. Of course, we were all immediately smitten, especially her big brother.

Teodora, catching up on some zzz's
Catching up on some zzz’s

Everyone is doing well, and working on getting adjusted to life as a foursome.

Checking out the world!
Checking out the world!

In related happy news, I can now announce that the winner of the Birthday Celebration Giveaway is Robyn LM!! Congrats!! I will be in touch shortly to make arrangements for your prize.