Month: March 2017

What I Read: Thrift Edition

books! booooks! bookies!
books! booooks! bookies!

Since I’ve been on a reading tear lately, I’ve been spending more of my thrifting time looking for books. It’s a goldmine, you guys. This was a recent “haul” from Goodwill, and it all came to under $25. I will confess that I have only started to leaf through the Chateaux of the Loire book, and swoon over its beautiful photos. I plan on giving it a thorough read however, as it appears to address the history and architecture of the area in some detail. I have briefly traveled through the Loire Valley some 13 or 14 years ago, but I only saw a couple of chateaux (Versailles and Amboise). One of my travel bucket list items is a longer trip, with many more stops — Chenonceaux, Chambord, Azay-le-Riday. I’ve been obsessed with French history since I was a child, so seeing some of the real life places I’ve read about countless times is a bit like, well, visiting Disneyland.

Moving on, the Sex and the City: Kiss and Tell book was a stroll through the memory lane of my early/mid 20s. The clothes! The endless ‘which character do you most resemble’ discussions! The Mr. Big obsession! The latter was probably the worst of it. Sometime in my early 20s, I got hung up on a guy who was textbook “he’s just not that into you”, but who kept popping up often enough to leave me wondering “what if”. Needless to say, he totally became my Mr. Big (minus the swanky lifestyle and ex-wives) in my very active imagination. I don’t blame the show for my emotional immaturity … but the whole thing was kind of an ode to emotional immaturity (ahem, I’m looking at you, Carrie). Anyway, the book was a lot of fun, although I wish it contained more in-depth analysis of the characters. And the clothes too. Speaking of which, if you don’t follow the Instagram account @everyoutfitonsatc, you should.

I also read the (not Christie penned) Poirot novel which was … kinda looney. In the best way (I lost track of the number of plot!twists! but there were a good dozen probably) and in the worst way (if you stopped to think about it, most of those plot twists were totally improbable). It didn’t feel like a typical Christie novel, although I can’t put my finger on why — perhaps the looney plot. (Christie wrote some doozies, but this was like Murder on the Orient Express + And Then There Were None x 1,000.) I also found the narrator/second banana character to be really odd. Dim policemen are a staple of Poirot novels, but such characters are easier to swallow or overlook when they’re not the ones narrating the plot. As it was, I swung back and forth between thinking Catchpool was extraordinarily thick, and thinking he was somehow complicit in the murders and pretending to be thick. Since I love Christie’s novels, I am totally on-board with the idea of her characters (Poirot, Miss Marple, Harley Quinn) being revived by new authors, but this particular iteration was more of a miss than a win for me.

Lastly, I am currently reading Faithful Place. It’s slower going than the other Tana French novels I’ve read. I’m less than a third of the way through, though, so it’s too early to tell if I’m going to love it or hate it. Based on my past experience, I’m probably going to end up being hooked by the story, and then eventually let down by the ending. Side note: do any French protagonists *not* have a complicated and/or mysterious personal life?

No interesting articles this week (sad face) so if you’ve read something good online, share your recc’s in the comments.

State of the Wardrobe: Spring 2017

Over the past couple of months, several readers have asked me to write about the most recent phase of my style evolution, and so I have been thinking about how to best approach that hypothetical post – this post – for a while. Though I love to wax analytical about style (it’s my modus operandi in all things, after all), I am all too conscious that such musings can very easily degenerate into a big ole pile of TL;DR. My Fashion Blogger Struggle® is finding the right balance of writing and photographs, and I often end up feeling less than successful. Because of that, my first instinct was to let the evidence speak for itself. I think the direction of my style – which is not entirely new, but not precisely “same old, same old” – is becoming more and more evident with each monthly recap. And, to be honest, it’s not something I have been over-thinking to the degree that is my usual practice. Which is to say, while I have a rough idea of where (I think) I’m going, I don’t have a concrete road map to talk about. Mostly, I’m just following my gut – whether that be when buying new clothes, letting go of old ones, and putting together outfits.

With that said, as I was going through this process, I came across the whole personal colour analysis/style archetype phenomenon, which did help to crystallize some of my more vague gut feelings. I’ve talked about my updated wardrobe colour palette before. I think my palette ended up being very close to what is recommended for Soft Summer. I may or may not be a Soft Summer; I’m still debating investing the money to get an actual consultation with a qualified colour analyst. But, for now, I am using that as a rough guide when considering new purchases.

soft summer palette
soft summer palette

The biggest issue with this is that black is supposed to be a “no go” colour; meanwhile, black is one of my core “anchoring” neutrals. I have no desire to run out and replace all my black clothing with charcoal or navy equivalents, so instead I am being more mindful about how I use black in my outfits. (I still love wearing it head to toe from time to time.)

I am also not running out and buying all the colours from the Soft Summer palette. Instead, I’m focusing on my preferred subset of colours. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the years is the importance of an least somewhat cohesive colour palette. If the colours in your wardrobe are harmonious, it is much easier to weather any style evolution because you can mix old pieces in new ways.

Moving on, I have also self-diagnosed as a Dramatic Classic style (based on my facial features in particular, as recommended by this article), and have started using the tools available online – like Pinterest boards – to guide my style choices. I will say that the DC archetype alone is a bit simplistic, and does not fully capture my personal preferences. I prefer the triad system used by the Truth Is Beauty blog; in particular, I have been leaning towards the Dramatic-Classic-Ingenue and the Ethereal-Dramatic-Classic aesthetics.

Looking at things from this perspective/framework, I realized that my style hasn’t so much changed as evolved in terms of its emphasis on various sub-components. For example, my love of Anthro very much skewed to the Ingenue side of things; as I get older, it is perhaps not unnatural that I should feel more drawn to another existing component (e.g. Classic) or switch to a new one (e.g. Ethereal). Ultimately, this process has become more about fine-tuning than over-hauling, although there has certainly been some turnover in my closet as a result — mostly from things being purged, as opposed to added.

As far as my closet goes, I am largely happy with it — especially as it has become more stabilized over the last few months. I will never not love experimenting with different looks, but I am becoming more and more appreciative of cohesiveness. I do enjoy clothes as a hobby, but the more experimenting I do, the more time-consuming it becomes. Narrowing the scope of that experimenting has freed up time for other hobbies, like reading (and soon, perhaps, writing once more). Don’t get me wrong; it’s not a question of one hobby being better or worse than the other; just different. Right now, I am excited about different things.

With that said, I am embracing a kind of “French wardrobe” approach to my closet. I’m treating 70-80% of it as a “core” — stable, with low turnover anticipated. The balance represents my “statement” pieces, and this is where I expect to focus my experimenting going forward. Even in that respect, I am quite happy with my current pieces; the main exception is the dress category (and, specifically, my work dresses), where I feel like I need to shake things up a bit. To help me with the process, I’ve divided the current work dresses listed in my Stylebook app into two categories: core and statement. Here is a not-great snapshot of the 8 pieces in the latter category:

stylebook app snapshot
stylebook app snapshot

None of these are super old, but there are at least 2 or 3 that don’t spark joy as much as they used to (or don’t quite fit my evolving style as before). I plan to continue wearing them for the time being, but I will be keeping an eye out when I thrift for possible upgrades or replacements.

If my ramblings haven’t put you to sleep yet, I would love to hear what’s new in your sartorial lives. With spring and summer just around the corner (mother nature willing), what are your plans for your closet? Share everything in the comments.

So Long, And Thanks For All The Memories

Dress, Lida Baday (thrifted); belt, Anthropologie; cardigan, Theory; shoes, Manolo Blahnik (via eBay); bag, MbMJ
Dress, Lida Baday (thrifted); belt, Anthropologie; cardigan, Theory; shoes, Manolo Blahnik (via eBay); bag, MbMJ

Nope, I’m not going anywhere just yet … but I am saying good-bye to this dress. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision, made part way through the day on which I wore this outfit, but I’m pretty confident about it. There is nothing wrong with the dress; I simply don’t feel “wow” in it, and so I wear it mostly out of guilt. It’s a nice dress, and it deserves to be worn with joy. Consider this my Kondo-approved “thanks for all the memories” tribute before the dress goes off to meet its (new) destiny. (Coincidentally, for those of you who have been asking, tomorrow’s post is *all* about the current state of my closet.)

accessory close-up
accessory close-up
fanc-ay!
fanc-ay!

I had initially planned to wear the dress with my greige blazer, only to realize that the result was … a whole lotta beige. Instead of reverting to my usual default — black — I chose to go the opposite way, and pulled this old cream cardigan from the back of the closet. I think the draping of the cardigan worked nicely with the draping of the dress. I added one of my fave waist cinchers to add some visual interest and definition, since the cardigan is fairly voluminous. Last but not least, I went with burgundy accessories rather than black so as not to “weigh” down the outfit too much. The result is, well, as you see it. Not a bad way to bid adieu.

au revoir, dress!
au revoir, dress!