Friday, 13 January 2012

On wardrobe basics


I've given a lot of thought to wardrobe basics recently. By basics I mean the clothes I wear on a weekly basis: my favourite sweaters, jeans, long-sleeved t-shirts, flat boots... the stuff I, to my astonishment, "can't live without". There are two reasons for my newly-found interest in basics.

First, intense observation of my own shopping during 2011 opened my eyes about what my basics are. (As I mentioned yesterday, I wrote down every single clothing-related purchase in 2011.) Every time I added another purchase in my notebook during the year, my eyes kept wandering to the items I had bought and recorded in the notebook two months earlier. I was immediately struck by the fact that quite a few of my purchases had been total misses. The reason: they weren't particularly wearable. After all the time I had spent observing my personal style, I was still buying clothes that weren't the right colour, and I was still settling for things that weren't quite what I was looking for. Worst of all, I was still buying things because I had seen something similar in a fashion magazine or a blog, thinking that I could make it work. It's one thing to be inspired by beautiful pictures or the outfits of others, but it's another to feel comfortable in one's own clothing. And I don't mean to be hard on myself here, because I made some great purchases along the way, too. A good example are these Fluevog boots that I scored on eBay. I want to wear them every single day.


The second reason for asking questions about basics came when I went on the blogging break. When I wasn't taking outfit pictures for the blog, I was noticing that I gravitated toward the same clothes all the time. As much fun as style blogging was and still is, I realized that I had been dressing up for the blog a fair bit. That doesn't mean that I was faking my style, or that I didn't actively choose to wear the outfits I wore. It simply means that I was looking for more variation than what I really needed. And don't get me wrong: variation is good. But it can also get out of control easily. It's okay to have a lot of clothes and wear different stuff every day if it feels right for you, but when you find yourself guilt-tripping over the contents of your wardrobe, it's not okay. Then it just means that you are doing something to yourself that you probably shouldn't.

During the blogging break I wore a lot of really basic outfits; jeans or a mid-calf skirt teamed with a simple sweater. I haven't worn high heels in months. I wore sweatpants at home. This doesn't mean that I don't enjoy the occasional dressing-up, because I truly do. But when it comes to buying wisely, it is worth while to consider things like cost-per-wear, or whether your purchases align with your everyday life.

I am wearing all basics: navy cotton sweater, black skinny jeans, red knitted cap, Fluevog two-tone boots. Everything second hand. Hand-crafted silver ring: Judy Bjorkman

12 comments:

poet said...

I also haven't been blogging about fashion as much during the past two months due to MA thesis work... and I've found that some of the same things apply to me: I also dress with more variation than I personally crave if I keep in mind that I "should" post something on the blog, and with less variation, but more comfort (though still deliberately) when I take time off. Eventually I like the second situation better, so we'll see where my blogging fits in.

Sarah said...

So glad you are back! I've been thinking about this concept of "basics" a lot too--what do I actually wear, vs. what I think I should have in my closet for variety (for example: I will never, ever put on a blazer if I can put on a sweater instead, and as a work-from-home freelancer in a casually dressed city, I can always put on a sweater. Why even own a blazer?)

It's interesting that you say you were "dressing for the blog" and present it as a somewhat negative thing, whereas it seems like what brings quite a few people to fashion blogging is the desire ("need"?) to dress with more variety. Not saying that either one is "wrong," it's just interesting that there are two sides to the coin.

Madeline Quaint said...

Yay, you're back! I'm so glad I see new posts from you, missed your thoughtful posts a lot!

I'm constantly thinking abut how to give my blog an anti-consumerist angle, it's difficult when you're talking clothes. I don't specifically dress for the blog, but one of the reasons I only post about once a week is because I remix my few items so much, readers would be bored out of their heads. :) So really, I should find a good way of preaching what I practice... This is one of my blog-resolutions for 2012.

Looking forward to reading about your time off and your adventures into non-consumerist fashion!

Terri said...

Welcome back! I've been away for the past three months myself. I dress in basics off the blog much of the time, because I teach online and who would know or care what I'm wearing? I fully recognize that some of the dressing up is for the blog alone. It's an outlet for me, but admittedly I haven't spent too much money shopping in thrifts.

The Fluevogs were a good find.

Franca said...

Glad you're back!

I do wonder that too sometimes, whether I dress up for the blog. I guess I do a little, but i am only taking one outfit picture a week now, and I still try to vary on the non-photo days. though I hsave been worrying about wearing the same pair of shoes in all my outfit photos and that's just silly. they are my favourite shoes for a reason!

Megan said...

Glad you're back. I love your hair and those boots are fabulous.

Carolyn said...

So true, the basics are essential in every girl's wardrobe, and makes one wonder about the wisdom of buying into those "extras" at all. Maybe simple pared back chic is more your true style? I love this outfit you are wearing here, and it does suit you beautifully. The red beanie is gorgeous.
And those boots are quite awesome...

Michele said...

Awesome boots! Glad you're back. x

Rad in BK said...

Great post. I've not been blogging because I've not had a lot of time/energy to devote to style since the summer. I do agree with you about the importance of basics, "wardrobe workhorses," etc. I've edited down my closet a lot (mostly through donations) and got rid of almost all my adorable thrifty/vintage pieces that worked at a different stage of my life. I am pretty satisfied to be limited to a series of rotating, classic but still "Rad" styles.
You're looking great in these "basics." Somehow, even simple clothes look amazing on you.

Shey said...

I also had a lot of clothes that I had bought just because I saw them on other bloggers and they looked so good in them, over the past few months I've been trying to clean up my closet and I've done fairly well. I've also realize that it's good to spend a bit more on the basics and it's worth to pay the price if you're going to wear them a lot. For me it would be white oxford shirts and 2 1/2 in shoes, anything higher than that would not be very wise since I wouldn't be able to walk in them. During Christmas I had bought a pair of knee-high boots, they were very expensive but they looked so good on the pictures I just knew I had to have them, once they arrived I changed my mind, I sent them back and got them in a different color thinking that maybe they would work if they were in a different color, well once they arrived I didn't put them on right away, in fact I could not figure out how to wear them but I liked them so much! It was a hard choice to make but I ended sending them back, it was the right choice, if I have to change my whole wardrobe for one pair of shoes then that is not something I really need. I hope to read more about your thoughts and findings about shopping as well as how your research on mental illnesses is going. You are always an inspiration. =)

Karenina said...

I'm glad your back! I look forward to hearing about your resolutions, budgeting and insights into the "buying" cycle so many of us "style" bloggers seem to be stuck in. I too am really trying to figure out why I wear what I wear, and how to trim the useless purchases out of my wardrobe. I like your idea of writing everything down! I think I may do this for 2012. :-)

Eyeliah said...

First of all, those boots are amazing! I wear a lot of basics and rewear outfits now, which makes it hard for me to post outfits, I definitely don't want to dress up just for the blog... thou I have a few outfits I haven't photographed yet and I am going to do that tomorrow :)