Showing posts with label Clothes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clothes. Show all posts

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Confessions of Living with a Ten-Item Wardrobe

I was inspired to try and pare my wardrobe down to just ten items.  Yep, that's right - ten items! The idea came from Jennifer at The Daily Connoisseur who lived in France as an exchange student and observed the habits of the well-dressed and chic Madame of the family.  She noted that Madame Chic always looked presentable, but only wore ten items of clothing - all classic pieces that flattered her.  

I thought it sounded like a great way to streamline getting dressed in the morning and to help me decide what to eliminate from my closet. As you will see I ran into some snags.

The ten items of clothing that I selected to wear did not include outerwear, night clothes, undergarments, exercise wear, shoes, scarves, or accessories.  You can read more about the process here, but these were the ten items I selected.

10 Item Wardrobe

After some consideration, I realized that I only wanted to wear the ten items of clothes for work because I don't like to wear my work clothes at home.  I spend more money on work clothes and don't want them stained or worn out so I wear less expensive items at home.  

I want you all to know that I came home from work and put on lipstick and combed my hair JUST FOR YOU!

Monday (School A) - black pants, striped shirt, red sweater
Tuesday (School A) and Wednesday (School B) - black skirt, white shirt, red sweater
Thursday (School A) - rust cords, black shirt, gray sweater
Friday (office day) - jeans, black shirt, red sweater

Monday (Conference) and Tuesday (School A) - rust cords, striped shirt, gray cardigan
Wednesday (School B) and Thursday (School A) - black pants, flowered shirt, gray cardigan in the cool of the morning
Friday (School A and office) - black pants, black shirt, red cardigan (plus red shoes to add some colour to the outfit)

As you can see I often wore the same outfit for more than one day, however only if I was going to a different school or to a school and then the office - in other words if I was seeing different people on each of the days.  

Which leads me to a few of the problems I ran into.  

First, here in North America it is a real no-no to wear the exact same outfit two days in a row with the same people. From what I've read, people do wear the same outfit for several days in a row in France so this makes planning what you are going to wear much easier.  You just figure out a good outfit and wear it for most of the week.  I can't bring myself to do that, so I was constantly trying to think what to wear that wasn't the same as what I had just worn (and was always grateful when I was going to a different locations on consecutive days).

Also, here in Ontario for the past two weeks the temperatures were low enough that I needed to wear both a shirt and a sweater (as well as something on the bottom half) every day.  That meant that every day I was wearing three of the ten items in my wardrobe.  If you look at Jennifer's wardrobe on The Daily Connoisseur you will see she often will wear a dress or pants and a top, but then she lives in sunny California so it is much warmer.

Finally, I chose to do this exercise in a month that has very changeable weather.  Now it is warming up and the next two weeks are going to be between 16 and 22C.  I feel like I have selected very wintery colours and items when what I'm really craving is some spring in my wardrobe.

Sooo, I'm going to change things up a bit.  First, I'm not going to include cardigans and sweaters in my ten items. I will consider them outerwear, if you will. It will make me very happy to be wearing all my colourful cardigans again. 

Second, I'm going to add some more colour and pattern into the mix. I've included a couple of skirts and a dress as the weather is now nice enough to wear them and they add more colour and pattern.  I also added my royal blue pants that will add more colour.  

Here's the new ten-item wardrobe for the next two weeks:

10 Item Wardrobe

What do you think - does this combination look more realistic?  I'll let you know how it works out. 

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Wabi-Sabi Living: the Ten-Item Wardrobe

All things wabi-sabi have been floating through my brain these days.  Ideas like - simplicity, serenity, understated elegance.  Lovely words!  Uplifting words!  Words that I want more of in my life.  One of the things I've been thinking about is how this applies to the clothes I wear. 

Wouldn't it be nice to have a well-organized closet containing just enough clothing so that you always feel well dressed for any occasion.  That is my definition of how wabi-sabi applies to our wardrobes.  A noble goal, but how to attain it?

When I read about the ten-item wardrobe I was intrigued.  According to Jennifer at The Daily Connoisseur, this is how chic French women dress.  They value quality over quantity and stock their wardrobes with just a few well-curated classic items that all work together. 

Of course, there are pros and cons of sticking to a ten-item wardrobe.  Some thoughts and observations from Jennifer are as follows:

1. Dressing in the morning is streamlined as everything mixes and matches.  
2. It is easy to take stock of clothes that are wearing out when you only have ten items
3. Since each item has to pull its weight, an item that is worn out will be replaced rather than just stored.  
4. You will be less likely to go on mindless shopping expeditions since you already have a stocked wardrobe.  
5.  And finally, with only ten items of clothing your closet will be a thing of beauty.

1.  If all your clothes get dirty at once, it could be a problem.
2.  Having such a limited variety of clothing items may mean you get tired of wearing the same pieces of clothes or the same colours all the time (okay, this last one is mine).  

While I'm not a clothes-horse I regularly wear more than ten items, but I'm always up for a personal challenge and this one sounded interesting. I decided I would challenge myself to see if I could survive wearing just ten pieces of clothing for a month. 

So are you ready to see the ten items I lovingly selected (it was agonizing! like choosing your ten favourite children). And just so you know my ten-item wardrobe doesn't include the following: shoes, outerwear, scarves, necklaces, undergarments, sleepwear, or exercise wear.  It is still quite cool here in Ontario although some days are warming up in the afternoon, so I had to include enough layers to keep me comfortable in a lot of different temperatures.

10 Item Wardrobe

I thought these ten items would work well together (with the exception of the red cardigan and the rust cords). I could have included another neutral cardigan in place of the red one, but I felt I needed some colour (I like to wear bright cardigans to add some colour to my outfits.)

  1. Cream/navy striped shirt (Banana Republic) 
  2. Flowered blouse (Eddie Bauer) 
  3. White V-neck shirt (Eddie Bauer) 
  4. Black V-neck shirt (Eddie Bauer) 
  5. Gray cardigan (Eddie Bauer) 
  6. Red cardigan (Eddie Bauer) 
  7. Jeans (Eddie Bauer) 
  8. Rust cords (Joe) 
  9. Black pants (Banana Republic) 
  10. Black skirt (I've had it for years)

I'll keep you posted as to how I'm doing and, if I remember, I'll take some photos too.

Do you think you could survive?

When I told my son what I'm doing, he just shrugged and said that that is what he wears all the time. The boy's a wabi-sabi master!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Grace Kelly: From Movie Star to Princess

Grace Kelly was one of the most photographed women of the 20th century.  I have long admired her elegance, her classic and impeccable style, and her amazing beauty - not to mention that I adore many of the films she is in.  When I read that there was an exhibit of her dresses at the TIFF Centre here in Toronto, Kate and I had to go and have a look.

The thing that made her stand out is what we call style.
McCall's magazine, 1955

We had a great time at the exhibit - the dresses, especially the ones from the 1950s, were amazing and it was fun to see letters and telegraphs from Alfred Hitchcock among others.  My only disappointment was when I got home and Googled more information about the dresses and realized that only a small part of the original Victoria and Albert Museum show in London from earlier this year was brought over (for a comprehensive blog post on the V & A exhibit see here).  Sniff, sniff.  While we loved what we saw, it was disappointing that there were such a small selection of dresses especially from her movie period. Also surprisingly they did not put mirrors on the other side of the dresses so the back side could be viewed.   Despite these issues we really enjoyed seeing the details, the materials, and the workmanship of these famous outfits.

The exhitibit was divided into Grace Kelly the actress, Grace Kelly the bride, and Princess Grace of Monaco.

They had this gorgeous soft green dress and the matching coat (designed by Edith Head) that Grace wore to the Oscars in 1955 when she won Best Actress for The Country Girl.

Forever Young Information

Have you seen the movie High Society?  It is a gem and one that Kate and I like to watch and re-watch.  The swimming cover-up, also designed by Edith Head, from this movie was in the exhibit.  The draping across the front is so elegant and suits Grace Kelly's role in the movie as she is supposed to be a bit of a goddess.

Style Matters

There was a copy of the dress that Grace wore when she first met Prince Ranier at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955.  Apparently the electricity had gone out at the hotel where Grace was staying and she was unable to have any of her dresses pressed so she wore the floral one (in the photo below) which had been given to her by McCalls after a modelling job she had done for them.

Forever Young Information
This is the 1954 pattern that was used to make her dress.  It makes you feel like you could wear a Grace Kelly look-alike dress if you wanted to (it is pretty wild though, so I'm not sure I would really want to).

Vintage Patterns Wiki

They also had the dress that Grace wore when she and Prince Ranier announced their engagement.  Both Kate and I thought this dress was gorgeous - probably the prettiest in the show.  It had lovely details, like the cuffs on the sleeve, and the belt made of the same material with lines sewn along it, and the soft folds at the waist.

Grace added a scarf at the neck, a brooch, some sunglasses, and her famous Kelly bag and she was all set to meet the press.

Forever Young News

There was also the lovely champagne-coloured lace dress she wore for her civil wedding ceremony.  

Disco Nap

It had the prettiest edging along the hem with scalloped lace against the fabric.

Disco Nap

The famous wedding dress designed by Helen Rose, was an exact replica since the original was too delicate to travel from Philadelphia.

Forever Young Information
The view we had of the dress was of the back and I hadn't realized there were bows down the skirt with an insert of lace since you usually see the front in the wedding photographs.


And finally there was the gray Dior suit she wore when she departed on her honeymoon.

The Dior suit was so elegant - just simple lines with a fitted jacket and three-quarter length sleeves.


They also had many of her dresses and suits from her later years some of which were beautiful, like this Chanel suit.


some were very princessy (and frankly look better in this photo than they did in person),

Disco Nap

and some were a little on the wonky side if you ask me - like this one.


We loved seeing her famous Kelly bag in a beautiful milk chocolate shade along with some of her luggage.

While I recognized many of the dresses on display from historical photographs, there was only one dress that I remember from newspaper articles at the time that it was worn.   It was the purple dress (in the photo below) that Grace wore when attending a fund-raising concert at the Royal Opera House in London in March, 1981 shortly after Prince Charles and Diana Spencer announced their engagement.  It was the first time that Grace Kelly met Diana Spencer and only a year and a half before Grace died.


I do think Grace's style was better suited to the fashion of the 1950s than the 1960s and 70s.  It wasn't just that she was getting older, but rather I think her style suited the elegant dresses from the earlier time period.

If I could have made a dress request, it would have been for the gorgeous black-and-white dress designed by Edith Head that Grace wore in the 1954 movie Rear Window. To me that dress is the height of elegance and it suited her perfectly.  I would have loved, loved, loved to have seen it in real life.

These are just a few of the dresses at the exhibit - some of the ones that I liked best.  Did one of them stand out as a favourite for you?

The exhibit is still on until January 22, 2012 so you have a few days left to go and see it if you also are a Grace Kelly fan and are interested in seeing a wardrobe that has stood the test of time.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Safari Chic

I don't know if it is the cold rainy weather that has me pining for some sun or if it was getting the new Eddie Bauer catalogue in the mail, but I've been a bit obsessed with safari clothing recently.  The Eddie Bauer catalogue has gorgeous beige, stone, and khaki-coloured safari jackets, dresses, pants, and shorts all paired with bolder orange, brick-red or navy shirts.   Often the look is accented with chunky ethnic-inspired patterned scarves or necklaces.  I love the whole collection and really could have gone wild when I was at the store on the weekend ... but I restrained myself and only bought a couple of summer shirts and sweaters.

When I think of safaris I think of moody lighting, dusty, dry landscapes, and wild animals. 

Hills of Africa Travel

I think of bush tents and portable wood furniture.

Bushtracks Expeditions

I think of rumpled cotton earth-toned clothing with many pockets and brown leather belts and boots. 

Burberry Safari dress (source)

I think of adventure and excitement and ... well a whole lot of fun.  Going on an African safari is definitely on my wish list.   Even though I've not been on a safari and am not going on one any time soon, I can still dress the part.

I've always loved safari-style clothing.  I think watching the phenomenally successful and influential 1985 movie Out of Africa started my affection for this style.   I remember seeing the movie when it first came out and wanting to move to Africa and dress like Meryl Streep does in the movie.  The costumes were created by the talented Milena Canonero (who also did the costumes for Marie Antoinette).  She worked closely with the production designer of the movie who provided her with paintings of the sets so she could harmonize the costumes with the mood and tone of each of the scenes in the movie.  The costumes are a wonderful mix of soft natural colours taken from the landscape contrasted with navy and white.  I love how the clothes are the perfect blending of flowing feminine styles and tailored masculine elements.   After the release of this film, the safari-look dominated the fashion industry.  You can read more about the Out of Africa costumes and see more photos here and here.

Dressed Cinema
Dressed Cinema

Dressed Cinema

Habitually Chic


Although the safari look is one that many designers turn to when the weather gets warmer, some are closely associated with the look. Ralph Lauren is a name that springs to mind when you think of designer safari wear - the master of the clean-cut tailored safari look.
Ralph Lauren (What2WearWhere)

The Louis Vuitton ads from last summer featured the model Dree Hemingway (great-granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway) in a dreamy African safari setting surrounded by tres chic and tres expensive luggage.  Once again you can see the soft earth-toned colours in a feminine flowered dress; in straight legged pants paired with a flowing white blouse; and in a muted khaki dress.

Style Mood Board

Of course, when you go on safari it would be great to take along the handsome specimen in the photo below  - the gorgeous folding table and chairs that is.

Trends Magazine
Even if you are just tackling the urban jungle this summer the safari style is a great look, don't you think? 

Linked to Inspiration Journey Linky Party at Modern Country Style

Friday, January 22, 2010

My Travelling Skirt

I bought this skirt about 10 years ago, back when there were still Laura Ashley stores in Canada.  It was on the sale racks for a fabulous price and I liked the colours.  I mean, what's not to like - it matches white, black, green, blue, yellow.

Nice, eh?  Let's take a closer look.

See what I mean.  I love it!!!  It sort of fit with the French provincial thing that was happening in design and fashion at the time.

I had good intentions of shortening it, I really did.  But ... I never got around to it.  Sooo, I never wore this skirt as it is ankle-length and looks sort of, well, dowdy on me.

Now you might think this skirt has had a sad, sheltered life in the back of my closet, but you would be wrong.  In the last decade, this skirt has been to Hawaii, South Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia, and Russia.  I on the other hand, have not!!!

You see my parents travel a lot and my Mom borrows this skirt to take with her for when she needs to dress-up - it packs well, is light, doesn't wrinkle, and matches everything.  Just this past fall I was mentioning to my mother the possibility of her shortening it for me, after she wore it in South East Asia and Australia, that is.

Now it looks like my turn to wear this skirt has finally arrived.  My friend and I are making plans - still little baby plans - to go to Bangladesh in the summer of 2011 and work in a Rehab Centre just outside of Dhaka.  We are both Speech-Language Pathologists and they are looking for people to come over and teach courses to Bangladeshi students who are training to be Speech-Language Pathologists.  We would also be supervising their clinical practicuums.  Our planning is still very preliminary, I hasten to add.

Anyway, back to the skirt.  I was reading the Rehab Centre website and they recommend that woman wear modest ankle-length skirts, or pants with long tops.  We would be going in the rainy monsoon season, so I was thinking a skirt would be cooler than pants.  But an ankle-length skirt - I really don't wear them that long.  Then I remembered the skirt-that-has-seen-the-world-while-I-stayed-home and was happy that I'm such a procrastinator and it is still ankle-length.  Of all the details to think about, my clothes are probably the least important, but that's just how my mind works.  Now to get back to some of the more important details, like filling out the application form.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My Favourite Shoes

I have to start of by saying that I love the blog You Look Fab.  Angie often talks about her difficulty finding shoes that are comfortable 8-hour shoes and that look good as well.  I can really sympathize - having wide feet, with high insteps that cause me no end of problems.  Well, I recently bought these Clark shoes and I love them.  They have a 2 inch heel, which for me is high, but they are so comfortable I can wear them all day and even wear them on purpose if my feet are sore as they seem to align them properly and my feet feel better wearing them.  Wierd, huh?  Especially, given that I usually wear flats or very low heels.