Month: July 2016

Style Musings

In my last monthly recap, I briefly alluded to some things that were happening in my life on the sartorial front. I suggested that those things deserved their own post and, well, this is that post. If your tolerance for navel-gazing is on the generous side, read on.

So, just what is going on? A couple of things.

One, I’m going through some sort of style evolution. I know, it sounds super lame, but here’s the thing: I’ve started to notice an interesting pattern. There are certain outfits I love in the abstract but not necessarily in action (i.e. on me, going about my daily biz). Conversely, there are certain outfits that don’t seem especially thrilling in principle, but which I love wearing. Basically, there is an internal conflict going on right now between what draws my eye, and what makes me feel good – or, put differently, what makes me feel like myself. Things I love, like bold colourful prints and feminine/girly details, often end up feeling not quite right when I actually wear them. Anthropologie is a perfect example of this; I love so much of its aesthetic (especially in older pieces), but a lot of its clothes just end up hanging in my closet, to be lovingly gazed at and touched from time to time, but not worn.

What it comes down to is that my style, which used to be a lot more dichotomous, is becoming more cohesive. There will always be a boho streak in it, but it’s moving closer to the minimalist end of the spectrum, where it will eventually meet the other side of my style personality. I’m still working on pin-pointing the precise outlines of the emerging picture, but a couple of things seem to be clear:

  • Pieces that combine bold prints with extra girly/embellished silhouettes are (mostly) out. (I’m keeping some of my absolute favourites, because breaking up is hard to do, okay?) Going forward, I think I will be sticking to one, or the other, but not both at the same time. The bolder the pattern, the more streamlined the silhouette. In time, I expect that I will move away from girly/twee silhouettes entirely. (Think Joan versus Betty, to borrow a rather out-of-date Mad Men reference.)
  • Mixing bright colours is mostly limited to accent colours. I love looking at the outfits of colour-mixing masters like Elisa Nalin, but I just don’t feel nearly as sophisticated when I attempt that sort of look myself.

Two, I have reached peak thrift. Which is to say, I have become so good at it (through a combination of perseverance and luck) that I need to change my approach if I have any hope of maintaining my wardrobe at any sort of manageable level. I need to stop buying so many things! There are two ways to go about that. I could go thrifting less often. This is not my preferred option; I enjoy the process of thrifting as much if not more than its end result, and I would miss it (as a hobby and stress reliever) if I cut down on my visits. The second option is to become more discriminating in my buying. By necessity, I have to make this option work, but it’s not easy.

Believe it or not, I have actually become a LOT more discriminating than I used to be. I used to buy a lot of mall brands when I started thrifting, simply because the items were cheaper than retail and plentiful in supply. But as I started to become a more dedicated thrifter, I came to realize that finding high-end pieces was relatively easy, which made mall brands look like a far less attractive proposition. As my wardrobe expanded, and all its “gaps” got filled, I turned to “upgrading” existing pieces instead. Now, my closet is made up of probably at least 50% high end designer pieces (with the balance being mostly mid-range designer stuff) and there is increasingly little of it left to upgrade. So, what now?

I’ve been toying with a few new “rules” (even though I’m the kind of person who only likes to create rules not actually implement them) for my thrifting, such as:

  • No fast fashion/mall brands unless the item fills an identified closet “gap”. My Banana Republic Sloan pants are a good example — when my current pairs kick the bucket, I will probably be looking to replace them with other new-to-me Sloans.
  • One in, one out. I may make exceptions for items that are “special” (due to style, colour, fabric, etc.), but only if they made in the US or Europe. I want to make a concerted effort to focus on ethical clothing to the extent I can.

  • Only buying things that meet my new style criteria (see above). This one is a no-brainer.

    It remains to be seen how well I accomplish either of my goals (refining my style and thrifting fewer things), or I will to continue to (a) buy all the frilly things, and (b) treat thrift shops like my personal Rent the Runway service. If you’ve got tips to share, or want to commiserate with me on my “struggles”, drop me a line in the comments.

  • Dressapalooza

    Dress, Michael Kors (thrifted); shoes, Nine West (thrifted); bag, MbMJ
    Dress, Michael Kors (thrifted); shoes, Nine West (thrifted); bag, MbMJ

    I’ve been lusting after Issa dresses for a long time, but I’ve never thriftspotted one, and they are hella pricy on eBay. So. No Issa for me. But! I did recently find the next best thing, which is this Michael Kors dress that has a very familiar cut. You may remember it — it’s the same style of dress as the one which the former Kate Middleton wore at the announcement of her engagement. That dress? Issa.

    brooch, vintage
    brooch, vintage
    flattering from every angle
    flattering from every angle

    This is such a comfortable, flattering style, you guys — way more so that actual wrap dresses. If you are able to track down this MK version on eBay, do it! The brand resells for way less than Issa, and while this dress isn’t silk jersey, it looks (and feels) like a nice poly-spandex blend. I got quite a few compliments on it too, which is always nice. As much as my closet is overrun with dresses at the moment, I think this one will be safe from the dreaded purge for a good, long while.

    only thing missing is pockets ...
    only thing missing is pockets …

    Yellow Butterflies

    Blazer, Theory; top, Tulle; pants, Babaton (all thrifted); bag, YSL; shoes, Nine West
    Blazer, Theory; top, Tulle; pants, Babaton (all thrifted); bag, YSL; shoes, Nine West

    I wore this outfit on the first day of the 3 week hearing that will be consuming my July, hoping that I had judged the business informal dress code correctly. Luckily, I had. It’s actually been interesting to see the style choices of the other women at the hearing (it’s a huge one, so the room is packed). So far, there’s been a lot less “safe” black than I was expecting.

    For my part, I decided against wearing a matching black blazer with this outfit because it seemed a bit too severe, I like how the greige blazer softens the look, while still keeping things polished. I know I’ve said this before, but this Theory blazer (thrifted for $8!) was such a good buy. Of course, I couldn’t resist a little bit of whimsy — yellow butterflies, what could be more cheerful? That cheer will come in handy over the next 3 weeks …

    sans jacket
    sans jacket
    coming up ... butterflies?
    coming up … butterflies?