A New Wardrobe, Literally.

Re-Working my wardrobe has been, and still is, an emotional process…. here are a couple of lessons I have learnt so far…

I think Spring is finally here?!  Well, to be fair, the beginning of the week was perishing …. on Monday I was so cold and wet, having completed various errands on foot, that I came home, ran a hot bath and lay in it for half an hour to thaw!  (And I wore a woolly hat and gloves to walk to my Pilates class, which is actually only a ten minute stroll away!)

But this end of the week, I’m definitely feeling more upbeat about the weather.  The sky is blue, the sun is shining and I’ve left the heating on at home giving me the impression that it’s a good 20 degrees outside!

And I’ve had my bedroom painted.  Big news!  In the List of Things you need to update, change, alter and re-work in times of separation and divorce, then getting your bedroom painted is right up there with ‘change your email address’ and ‘cut your hair’  (I’ve done one of those, so far…)

I’m very excited about simply white-washing the walls, the woodwork and, of course, the Wardrobe … it’s a fresh start in every sense of the word.

I’ve promised myself I will only put back into my beautifully painted room, those things that I really love and that make me feel good.   Sound advice, Andy… but the reality is that the clothes in my wardrobe (partially edited – it’s an ongoing process) haven’t actually been removed for the job, so technically everything is still in there?! There isn’t anything to ‘put back’…

Which makes this a good time for a further Wardrobe Update.

Back in February I made a Note To Self – ‘I don’t need any new clothes; I am saving money; I am helping to save the planet; I’m breaking a pointless cycle of shopping; I am becoming more creative’…. Nine months into Project Re-Worked Wardrobe, the only part of this I am really questioning is ‘I don’t need any new clothes’. In fact, maybe I do?

Re-Working my own wardrobe has been, and still is, an emotional process.   The winter clothes have now finally gone into hibernation (about time?) and I’ve dug out, uncovered and started to edit the ‘summer collection’.

There is, no doubt, a strange comfort in a full wardrobe. But here are a couple of lessons I’ve learnt along the way and reminders why its good to purge:-

  1. I have successfully edited the wardrobe of many clients over the past few years, but – it’s much more difficult to edit your own wardrobe than someone else’s! Sentimentality can really get in the way.  In particular, don’t be tempted to have a glass of wine and tackle the job in an evening – tried that – disastrous waste of time!
  2. Having too much stuff makes every aspect of life more difficult.  Piles of clothes, drawers stuffed almost too full to close and hangers squished up against each other all create stress, a feeling of heaviness and general malaise.
  3. It can be hard to get rid of things.  Even things you know you will never wear again. This week I took a pink jacket to the charity shop – I wore it twenty years ago as part of my ‘going away’ outfit.  (I know, even the concept of a ‘going away’ outfit dates it!).  But in most cases, any momentary sadness you feel when you part with something like this, will ultimately be replaced with overwhelming relief.
  4. There are some clothes that you just have to get rid of.  It doesn’t matter that they are in good condition, still fit, and even make you look good.  It doesn’t matter if you are a wizz with the sewing machine.  If you wore it to go out with your ex; or the act of pulling up the zip reminds you of that final hellish Christmas before he actually left – it’s holding you back.  Move on, take it off the hanger and get it out of your wardrobe and out of  your life.
  5. As we grow, our lifestyle changes and clothes that still fit and even look good, may no longer be relevant to the person you are becoming;
  6. No matter how frightened you are of the future (and your ongoing financial security) – the chances are you will be able to buy new clothes at some time.  I’ve said it before and will say it again (many times) – ‘spend less, buy wisely’.  Save what money you have to buy good quality basics, and if necessary you can swap clothes, thrift store shop and, what the heck, – even learn to sew?!

LET GO – DO NOT PANIC – YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS..

So, yes, I have shopped during the past  nine  months.  I’m in the process of creating a new ‘me’.  I am doing this in so many ways, including by wearing clothes that I haven’t worn for a long time and re-vamping older items.  But as I clear out the old I am making way for the new, and I have felt justified in introducing a few new things to my wardrobe.  In particular, recently, two denim skirts – one blue, one white, and a fantastic pair of Veja trainers that go with everything.

As for the ‘would like to buy’ list, I am currently completely in love with the H&M Conscious Black/Patterned long dress for summer parties; and their blue and white striped lyocell shirt dress for summer days anywhere.

h and m conscious
H&M Conscious Dress
handm conscious 2
H&M Conscious Lyocell shirt dress

And Ialso have my eye on this Zara JoinLife black and white gingham top for my upcoming holidays…?!.

Zara Join LIfe
Zara Join Life Gingham Top

 

Even loved and cared for clothing doesn’t last for ever… but I am trying my best to shop consciously and where possible to #Save the Planet and Save My Purse, and consider the source of any clothing I buy, its production, its fabric and its potential lifecycle.

Onward and upward…..

 

Retro Dressing, Now

I know how the saying goes – if you’re old enough to remember that decade the first time around, you really shouldn’t be wearing it now….

Few of us can have failed to notice the 70’s and 80’s influence in current fashion trends.

Culottes, jumpsuits, flares, blue denim (and even puffball skirts at YSL at Paris Fashion Week if I’m not mistaken?)!

I know how the saying goes -‘ if you’re old enough to remember that decade the first time around, you really shouldn’t be wearing it now’… but I do love these clothes. And to be fair, although I remember the 80’s vividly and had a fantastic puffball skirts and some enormous shoulder pads (see below, I have no shame…!) – I was only just born in the 70’s, and that decade is largely pre-‘conscious recollection’?!

For someone who is doing their very best to wear what is already in the wardrobe, rather than buy new stuff, dressing with a slightly retro look can be a sheer joy.  Keeping the look current, however, is more of a challenge.

Yes, I have older clothes and some I have had for a long time – but not originally bought 35 years ago…..

I had a good sort through my wardrobe the other day and came up with the following:-

Knee length camel leather coat (Cos Stores c. 2016)

Denim culottes (MiH jeans)

Denim shirt (H & M boys’ department – a ‘hand me down’ my 12 year old son!)

Gold bomber jacket (Cos stores, last year)

Knee high, square toe, black boots (purchased with what remained of my Erasmus grant when I first arrived in London, September 1996)

Leopard print dress (70’s,80’s, 90’s, 00’s…. for ever!) (Moschino Cheap n Chic)

Camel suede jacket ( holiday purchase in 1997 – see below)

White denim flares (Jil Sander – gifted to me by a dear friend, from her late mother in law’s wardrobe)

Leopard print velvet biker jacket with fur collar (Shrimps)

And I also have a Brora silk blouse, paisley print, in greens, orange and brown.  My youngest son wore it on World Book Day last year as part of his Gangsta Gran outfit (David Walliams) – which somewhat gave the blouse the kiss-of-death, but I’m thinking with the right outfit – it could still be a go-er?!

I’d like to tell you a little bit about the longest-hanging item in my wardrobe – the camel, suede jacket purchased in June 1997.  I bought it from an artisan vendor in Menorca on my very first holiday with my now ex-husband. I loved it and wore it continuously for the first twelve months.  Inevitably, it was replaced over time, but I never got rid of it.  It has been on various holidays with me, and seen me through every season.  I rediscovered it more recently, and in the pocket I found a couple of receipts. Not unusual, I know, but these are in fact ticket stubs from a trip to the top of the World Trade Centre in April 2000. I’ve put them away safely, but I feel as though they have given the jacket added significance and I’m excited to wear it again this season.

img_0442

Continuing with the 70’s theme, I watched ‘American Gangster’ (Ridley Scott 2007) the other night with my middle son. Great film, and the 70’s styling is brilliant. The parties Frank Lucas throws are a perfect showcase for that era’s glamour – deep v necks, glitter, sequins, satin. Exciting and inspirational.

img_0454.jpg

In deciding what to wear this season, a lot has to do with colour. Whilst I do still revert to black from time to time, it doesn’t feel quite right at the moment. Spring is finally here (I’m being optimistic – just ignore last weekend’s weather travesty!) which makes me want to dress more brightly.  There seems to be a definite shift towards softer colours, and a move towards browns, greens and orange – (those colours that ten years ago I may well have written off as rather aging?!) And, my current favourite – pink, in every shade and hue.

I wore the denim culottes last week with the knee high black boots, and a short jacket.   The culottes will work just as well with bare legs and sandals when the weather picks up.

I’ve worn the leather coat recently, too, with jeans and a polo neck – (and several layers in between!).

As for accessories – this is the way to keep your look as current as possible.  Try to avoid head to toe retro dressing, unless you want to look like a) you’re stuck in a time warp or b) you too are heading to a fancy dress event.

A pair of 70’s shades would update things for now.  Or mix a slogan white tshirt with your denim skirt.

Footwear can sometimes be an issue. My personal favourite right now is trainers by Brazilian company Veja. They ethically produce great looking trainers, using raw materials from organic farming. See their website and Project information at www.project.veja-store.com.

Clogs are cool – try Swedish Hasbeens (the fashionistas amongst you can pair with socks for now). And flatform sandals (give the weather a couple of weeks ladies!) look great with flares.

Happy Dressing… x

Dressing for extreme cold – practicality or style ?!..

Answers on a postcard please….

I have asked myself this question several times this week but yes, I know the answer. Who really wants to be uncomfortable, shivering and potentially have hypothermia by lunchtime?!

I have trekked across Clapham Common every day, early in the morning and late in the afternoon – bundled up from head to toe and wearing so many layers, my arms won’t bend!

Every possible personal access point for that bitter Siberian wind – neck, ears, ankles, cuffs – has been blocked or wrapped, with quilting, cashmere, wool, or elastic.

My mittens (black leather from COS) have been invaluable and have kept my hands as warm as possible. (Mittens are great. As a friend said to me – once your fingers are isolated from each other, then you’re in trouble….).

And my boots (bought from Burberry many years ago) are partially fur- lined and definitely worth the fifteen minutes it takes me to get them on and/or off!

But I’ve just about had enough of it now. A glamorous red lipstick will only take you so far?

I’d like some ease of movement? I’d like to be able to raise my chin and drop my shoulders? And I’d like to feel that little bit of air between fabric and skin, that makes me feel more feminine than tucking vest into pants, trousers into socks, jumper into trousers and cuffs into gloves!

I’m also dying for some colour. I know there’s a lot of colourful ski wear out there that can keep you super warm and dry, but all my warmest clothes seem to be black or grey? And even the bravest of fashionistas would struggle to pull off sunshine yellow when it’s minus 6, the sky is grey, and there’s a mini snow storm blowing off the top of every roof and wall.

So – I’m hanging in there, as we all are. It feels a few degrees warmer today. Maybe there’ll be a heatwave this summer, as compensation?

Remember, its March already – spring can only be just around the corner?!

The Re-Worked Wardrobe, Month Six

It’s now five months since I pledged not to buy any new clothes for a year. How’s that going, you may well ask?…..

It’s time to catch up, recap, take stock of the Wardrobe and of life in general…

Yes, I know I should possibly have done this in January… but January seemed to pass for me in a blur of cashmere hat and scarf, a thick overcoat, a daily renewed intention to be more Mindful and the odd glass of red wine or two to ease through from Monday to Sunday.

It’s now almost five months since I pledged not to buy any clothes/shoes for a year.

img_6336

How’s that going, you may ask? Well, it’s harder than I thought. And in a spirit of absolute honesty I have strayed slightly from the path….but not far enough to constitute a whole change of direction?!

Firstly, I bought a little Chanel style jacket from the Ann Taylor outlet store on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, in December. What a fantastic holiday we had, and what a great place Fulton Street is to shop! Outlet stores, discount stores, a great range of products and everything further discounted for Christmas. All with a cool, edgy Brooklyn vibe. It was heaven.

 

img_0070

img_7568

 

The Ann Taylor brand itself is involved with various charitable causes and is a partner of the St Jude Thanks and Giving Campaign (see Anncares.com). I wore the jacket all over Christmas, with everything from ripped jeans to a black leather and suede knee-length skirt.

Whilst in Brooklyn, I also did a little Duane Reade pharmacy sweep (obligatory for those US cosmetics that come with the same number on the ticket as in the UK, but a little $ sign instead of the usual £)!

That afternoon was rounded off with a fat slice of homemade cheesecake from Juniors – I cannot recommend it highly enough, if you happen to be in downtown Brooklyn anytime soon.

img_0064

The second purchase was made upon my return, when I succumbed to a beautiful silk jacket in the Zara sale. Black and florals, round neck, bracelet sleeves – it looks just as good with smart black trousers and heels as it does with jeans, a white T-shirt and Stan Smiths. (Yes, I’m seeing a theme here, too, but like the Ann Taylor – I’ve worn it a lot!)

img_0067

And finally, I spent my ‘Christmas cheque’ (thanks Mum) on a beautiful, mustard yellow saddle bag from Coach – a joy to purchase in the Fifth Avenue Store, (and an excuse to escape from the cold and snow outside, and the hundreds of people queueing for the Rockefeller Centre skating rink)!…The bag looks great with black and grey now, and with my camel leather coat. And will look just as good in the summer with shades of yellow, orange and white.

So – to (sort of) compensate for making a couple of cheeky purchases, I did take two tops, a pair of trousers and a dress to the charity shop in January.

And I gave away a parka (bought for my oldest son and scarcely worn), to a homeless man at the tube station the other night. I literally put it on him so that it wouldn’t get stolen. To say ‘his need was greater than mine’ would be the understatement of the century.

And that’s where I’m at, February 2018. Limited purchasing, and trying to think more about sustainability and maintaining the clothes I have. My long coat is currently at the tailors because the hem has come down; and I’m in the process of shortening a well -worn pair of flared trousers, to wear with flat shoes and boots, (once the mud has dried out on my school run-route across the Common).

However, I’m still very conscious of upcoming trends and I want to keep my look ‘current’. The new collections are starting to drop in the shops on an almost daily basis, and it’s so exciting to see all the new colours and shapes.

As February rushes towards March, and thoughts turn to warmer days – what would I like to buy? Or recommend that you consider, if you want to update your wardrobe?

Colour, definitely. I love yellow (see previous blog post) and have my eye on the beautiful yellow Casting Pants by Kowtow  (available from The Keep Boutique in Brixton). They are made from 100% ethical organic cotton, at an accredited factory in India.

In Theory

I’m also really hankering after orange. Maybe Baum Und Pferdgarten’s flared Nandini trousers or beautiful Agnetha dress. Orange and navy, or orange and royal blue look great together – see the german designer Steffen Schraut for some great colour combinations.

Agnetha dress

The Hilda Trousers in orange bhandani silk from the Ethical Collection London are beautiful and can be dressed up or down.  The Ethical Collection curates sustainable clothes and jewellery from designers around the world.

Cos has some great new pieces in orange and in green. Both colours look great with navy or camel basics.

COS image 7 of Draped cotton cardigan in Green
Draped cotton cardigan, Cos

And if you don’t feel that colourful yet, there’s always denim. In any form and any shade – although I would probably avoid anything really dark, now that the days are getting longer and we’re all desperate for a little bit of ‘spring’ (literally and metaphorically!).  Nudie Jeans has a great range of jeans in 100% organic cotton.

I know it’s still cold out there – but you can slip a pair of sheer tights under your jeans for now (the silkier the better – obvs!). Or I like to wear a pair of knee high thermal socks underneath. That way, the only really chilly bit is between your knee and the bottom of your coat?!

Last weekend, I ditched the black and grey I’ve been swaddled in for some considerable time, and road tested the ‘winter whites’. I have a pair of Current Elliott white jeans that I wear season after season, various white t shirts and a beautiful cream, cashmere, v neck cardigan that I’ve hardly worn. It came from Other Stories and I think the mistake I made was keeping it for ‘best’? (Not wanting to have to dry clean it too often). I was warm, comfortable and felt somewhat uplifted!

Ralph Lauren Fall 2014 Collection Wool Harrison Jodhpur
lookandlovewithlolo.blogspot.co.uk

Try all white with a camel coat or animal print rather than black, (although really anything works). Mango Committed organic white cotton jeans look great and are currently only £29.99 in the sale.

Happy Weekend xx

Do you really need a new dress?!

Buy less, shop wisely and love the clothes you have!

Party Season is officially upon us and the joy of dressing up! Dresses, skirts, trouser suits, jumpsuits, sparkles and heels! Black or brightly colored, shiny, silver, sequined, velvet, animal print. Add make-up, hair, jewellery and a glass of bubbles …and you are transformed into that kick-ass princess who could floor Prince Charming with a glance from twenty paces…

But before you hit the shops, whether in a last minute panic for an event that night or with a more leisurely approach (list and budget pre-agreed) – take a good, hard look in your wardrobe.

What clothes do you already have? Which pieces already in your wardrobe make you feel a million dollars? What do you rarely get the chance to wear but absolutely love?

For a basic Party Edit take out all your ‘best’ clothes. I generally advice clients not to keep clothes for best – everything should be worn and loved – but you know those things that are ‘proper’ Party?!

Now, sort through them. Take out anything you don’t particularly like. This is party dressing, after all, and you want to go out looking and feeling great! Try things on if you have time – vague memories of how you think you look just don’t cut it. Put away anything that doesn’t make you look at your reflection and think ‘yes – I am going out!’

Anything that needs cleaning can be put into a separate pile – (you know, the dress you slipped back into the wardrobe that night when you staggered home from a particularly good event, but can’t really remember hanging up?!). These clothes are still there for you – just not yet.

Also, put to one side clothes that no longer fit. I have on occasion followed the mantra ”Pride must Abide’ – but it’s going to be a long, fabulous night and you have to breathe, eat and dance (at the very least?!). If you still love these clothes and can have them altered to wear now, get to the tailor’s. If it’s you that needs a little alteration rather than the clothes, just put them away for the time being and don’t worry about it.

Then take a really good look at what you have. You may take hold of that perfect sparkly dress and know instinctively that’s what you will wear. Otherwise, think about mixing it up a little.

Try putting a favourite top that you usually only wear with black trousers, with something completely different? Mix together as many different colours as you can? If you have an amazing skirt or beautifully cut evening trousers – try wearing them with a simple, fresh white t-shirt. Add jewellery – silver cuffs on bare arms look beautiful, or buy a totally over the top necklace, or fabulous earrings to lift the outfit to ‘party status’. If, for example, you have a dress you love but that feels a little too short ( I alternate these days between thinking ‘what the hell, I like my legs’ to ‘are you sure Andy, you’re not 25 any more’?!) – try wearing it with skinny black trousers. Coated, black, skinny jeans look great.

It sometimes helps to start with one thing that you really want to wear and build the outfit from there. Enlisting the help of friends or a stylist (that’s what we’re here for) can also help you to see your clothes in a completely new light.

You may need to buy one or two things, (depending on the relative abundance of your social agenda) – but remember, where possible, ‘Buy Less, Shop Wisely and Love the Clothes You Have’.

Why Am I Doing This?!…

Why have I decided not to buy any new clothes for a year?!…

question mark

This was the question I asked myself yesterday.  I was feeling low.  I’m practically a single mother, and two weeks of half term with 4-5 semi-teenage boys in the house (my own three, plus nephew, plus french friend ‘learning english’) is pretty hard work!  I’ve started my blog; unsubscribed from various emails to avoid shopping temptation; edited my coats; and purchased an elongated selfie stick with which to take some ‘totally amazing’ photos of the abundance already in my wardrobe – and what I really wanted to do, yesterday, was buy myself a new dress! Continue reading “Why Am I Doing This?!…”

Kicking the Shopping Habit – Wk 4 (and counting!)

One month, so far, without buying any clothes – it’s a hard habit to kick!

So far, I have managed to survive a month without buying any new clothes.  I admit, I have been tempted.  I fell in love with a pair of boots in Other Stories last week (black Leather Snow Boots with a heavenly, faux fur lining), and suggested to my youngest son that he went into town with my credit card and pin number, and bought mum ‘a little treat’?!

I also went as far as putting a black Uniqlo down jacket into my basket, online.  It sat there for a while, calling to me in all its lightweight, simple, puffy glory – until I regained control and closed the page and logged out of my PC.

How does it feel?  Continue reading “Kicking the Shopping Habit – Wk 4 (and counting!)”