Category: Yes or No

The Complicated Midi

Dress, S-12 (thrifted); necklace, MaxMara; shoes, Valentino; clutch, Rebecca Minkoff
Dress, S-12 (thrifted); necklace, MaxMara; shoes, Valentino; clutch, Rebecca Minkoff

This dress is not complicated, per se … except that it sort of is. Here’s the thing: I can’t decide if I should keep it or let it go. I love the silhouette, and in theory it should look great on me. And it does … from some angles. From others — and you’ll have to take my word for it — it makes me look like a truck. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not tall enough to pull it off, or not curvy enough, or what. Maybe it’s the print. I don’t know.

I gave it another try, and while I liked the resulting outfit well enough, I’m still not sold on the dress. Considering the bursting-at-the-seams state of my closet, I think the answer to my dilemma is clear. Time to make like Elsa, and let it go.

pondering the philosophical implications of the midi ...
pondering the philosophical implications of the midi …
... and then VOGUE!
… and then VOGUE!

I wore this outfit to the christening of a friend’s daughter. The church where it was held was recently renovated, and I could not resist snapping a bazillion photos. How beautiful are those painted ikons on the walls?

church of St. Sava
church of St. Sava
the altar
the altar

Wardrobe Statistics

How do you guys feel about another wardrobe statistics – are you with me? Good. Be forewarned, this one is going to be heavy on numbers. I was inspired to write it after reading about Emma Watson’s Met Gala outfit, which led me to discover the #30Wears movement; it’s been around for a while, but this would not be the first time I’m behind the times, so please bear with me. The premise is solid – making purposeful clothes purchases guided by ethical and sustainability principles – but what really intrigued me was the question that it poses and from which the hashtag is derived: would you wear a particular piece at least 30 times before disposing of it? That sort of thing is practically catnip for this numbers nerd. I was really curious to see what answers the question, applied to my existing wardrobe, might yield.

The short answer is: no, for the most part. The slightly longer answer is: no, with the exception of bags, coats, shoes, and black cardigans/blazers. For the really long answer, read on.

Let’s start with a quick inventory of the things currently in my closet. These numbers are ever-shifting targets, because I acquire new (to me) things all the time. Bad Adina! But also: good job, Fun Closet Adina. (I’m sure Emma W. would disapprove of Fun Closet Adina. I guess I’m Team Slytherin, or something. Moving on.) Here’s what I’ve got, along with the most worn item in each category:

Category      Total items     No. of items worn at least 30 times     Item most worn
Tops                      34                0                                striped top (26 times)
Jackets                   21                0                                 black blazer (28 times)
Outerwear              14                4                                 camel coat (223 times)
Pants                     23                2                                 skinny jeans (81 times)
Skirts                    33            1                                 black skirt (44 times)
Sweaters               26                3                                 black cardi (71 times)
Dresses                 52                0                                 black dress (27 times)
Bags                      25                8                                 black (commuting) tote
Shoes                    56                10                                black pumps (87 times)

This looks pretty pathetic, doesn’t it? I always knew that my closet sees a lot of turnover, but these numbers are quite stark. Let’s delve a bit deeper, though. How long, exactly, do clothes hang around (har har!) in my closet?

Vintage                    No. of Items
2010 or older             10
2012-2014                   64
2015                          57
2016                          74

Put another way, about a third of my clothes are more than 2 years old, and about a third are less than 1 year old, with the remaining third falling in the middle. I’ve been, um, busy this year. As far as trends go, it looks like coats and sweaters tend to keep the longest, with the remaining categories turning over almost completely about once every two years. It could be argued that the last 3-4 years may not represent the best data set, because of life changes and fluctuating weight (two pregnancies, two mat leaves, etc.), but I have a suspicion that the results would be the same regardless.

I think it all comes down to this: I like variety and I like bright, colourful things. I also get bored, periodically, of those bright colourful things, and want to exchange them for new ones. The basics tend to stick around much longer, usually until they fall apart. But “basics” in this context mean all the black things: black sweater, black cardigan, black pants, black blazer, black skirt, etc. And skinny jeans. The exception is coats/outerwear. Because I hate to buy coats, and because I also actually need to wear coats for a large part of the year, coats tend to get a lot of wear and stick around for a long time, regardless of style, colour, etc.

(Please note that the stats above do not include shoes and bags, which would probably skew the numbers a bit towards the older side. Also, “vintage” means years spent in my closet, rather than since production. I buy a lot of things secondhand, as will become apparent in a moment.)

I also decided to look at the composition of my closet, because there has got to be some good news in there, somewhere. Right?! So, I decided to look at the provenance of my clothes; due to time constraints, I looked at this only at a very high level. Ideally, I would like to tally the actual country of manufacture for each piece in my closet, but because I don’t currently track this in my closet worksheet, it would take a long time to tabulate at the moment. It’s definitely something I’m considering tracking on a going forward basis. For now, here goes:

Provenance                         No. of Items
New/Retail                                  59
Thrift                                            64
Consignment                               72
Swap/Gift                                     8

This, I feel good about. Over 70% of my clothes are pre-loved, which means that, although my environmental footprint is by no means small, it’s not quite as large as it would appear at first blush. I’d like to be able to say that the majority of my clothes have, in fact, been worn 30 or more times – if not by me, then by their previous owners – but I actually don’t think that’s true. Most of the clothes I thrift or buy from consignment (or eBay) come to me either brand new (some with tags) or very nearly new. A lot of clothes leave my closet (their second home, at the very least) only barely worn. It is entirely possible – and I hope it’s true – that they get their third lease on life in another closet. In my experience, however, the biggest driver of the rapid cycle of clothes production is not poor quality. Most clothes that end up in thrift stores are perfectly fine (fit excluded, which is a separate issue perhaps). Other factors are in play here, including the thrill (and relatively low personal cost) of novelty. I know that’s my weakness, for sure. And it’s a big reason why I’ve become an increasingly dedicated thrifter.

I want to hear your thoughts! Tell me if you’ve ever considered the #30Wears challenge (and question), and whether you think your closet would pass it.

So, We Need to Talk

Uh oh.

That’s always my first reaction when I hear that phrase. But, don’t worry: this is not going to be that kind of talk.

At least, I don’t think it is.

The truth is that I’ve been feeling a lot of, well, negative feelings about blogging, and this blog in particular, lately. I’m not so much burnt out, as bitter. And that, you guys, is not a good feeling. It’s not the feeling I want to get from something I do as a hobby – a distraction from everyday stresses. I’ve asked myself numerous times why it is that I periodically get to this point with the blog, and the truth ain’t so pretty.

I get jealous.

Jealous of the fact that other bloggers have more traffic and more reader engagement. More followers on Instagram. More comments. More recognition. I hate to feel like I’m failing, and after almost 5 years, this blog seems like an exercise in perpetual failure. And it pains me to say that, even if it reflects what I’m feeling, because I don’t want to sound ungrateful – truly. I am so proud and honoured that each of you takes the time to read my blog, and I don’t want to sound dismissive of what you have contributed to the small community that has developed here. I don’t know why, at times, I start feeling like that’s not enough – and that’s on me. I’m not sure if I can work through it and get past it, or if the only answer, ultimately, is shutting down this blog for good.

But! (And this is why I started writing this post in the first place, in case you were starting to wonder.)

I’m trying. I was bitching about my feelings of inadequacy on a bloggers’ forum recently, and someone brought up a really good point. Who am I writing this blog for? Not me. I mean, let’s face it: I’m not posting photos of myself on the internet for my own benefit. (Instagram exists solely, I think, to satisfy our innate narcissistic tendencies.) I am writing for someone. For you, hopefully. I am writing because I want to connect with people who understand and share my love of clothes, and dressing up. There has to be a way that I can re-define “success” for myself in that context – a way that doesn’t involve comparing myself, and this blog, to people I don’t actually want to be (or emulate). Part of that, it was suggested to me, might have to do with better understanding what kind of audience I want, and what they would want from a blog like this.

So I would like to ask you for a favour. Whether you’ve been a long-time reader, or you’ve just stumbled onto BCRL yesterday, please take a moment or two and tell me: what are you looking for in a personal style blog? What are your deal-breakers? What can I do (content-wise, or blog design-wise) to make BCRL better? If you want to throw in what you love (and hate?) about the blog, all the better. What I hope your comments will tell me, ultimately, is whether there is still a reason for BCRL to exist – whether there is an audience for it (amid the bazillion other style blogs out there), and whether I can deliver whatever it is that, well, you are looking for. I don’t know what the answer is … but I’m looking forward to finding out.

Thank you.