Saturday, 4 January 2014

New Year, New Style Direction: Part 1

I finally feel I am on my way to obtaining a well-curated wardrobe of quality, versatile pieces. I know my style and what I feel great in, but I am not afraid to take the occasional risk with my look. All this requires time and patience, and I get that not every woman has either when it comes to fashion, yet the desire to look polished and put together is still there.

A new year is often a time when we 'restart' some part of our life. For some it's a new career direction. For others it's a new home. And for some, it's a time to evaluate how we dress.

If you are thinking of simplifying or updating your wardrobe, I would like to share with you some things I've learnt through my own experience and by reading about the experiences of others. It really boils down to some simple rules about dressing. By following these rules, I've found that I make fewer mistakes than I used to (although nobody is 100% perfect!), and I get much more out of fewer items. I'll present these tips in the basic order in which they should be put into action. Lots of share, so here's part one. More to follow in the next few days...

Decide Your Ideal Silhouette
The easiest place to start is with the silhouette. By this I mean the shapes that work best on your body and the overall outline they create. Although I adore high-waisted wide-leg pants on others, they just do not work on my body because I have very long legs and a very short torso. My boobs therefore sit on the waistband on my trousers, not pretty. I also love full, a-line skirts but on me they look dumpy and matronly instead of fun and feminine. Over time, I have worked out that my ideal silhouette is slim and simple. Skinny jeans, cigarette pants, minimal details, structured fabrics and plain shapes. For you, your ideal shapes might be fluid tunics, wide trousers and pleated skirts.

How do you work this out? Simple: do a brutal wardrobe edit and get to know how your garments make you feel.

Decide What Works and What Does Not
This is actually very simple: clothes either work or they don't work on your body. Pull everything out (including accessories, jewellery and underwear, plus any items in storage/off-season). Now try EVERYTHING on. This might take a few days to achieve so don't worry if you don't finish in an afternoon. If it does not fit, flatter or make you feel great then sell or donate it. This includes that expensive top you bought but somehow never wear. You have to suck it up and get it the hell out of your closet. YOU WILL NEVER WEAR IT.

With what's left, work out why you like it. Did you end up tossing all of your round-toe high heels but your keepers all have a pointy toe? Did you mysteriously end up with a pile of skinny jeans in the 'makes me feel fat' pile and the 'makes me feel fab' pile is brimming with bootleg jeans? Then the conclusion you draw is that you feel best in point-toe shoes and jeans with a boot leg. Now write down the shapes and silhouettes that work. Remember, concentrate on shapes not colours at this stage. Here's an example:

Shapes that work:
Skinny or straight-leg jeans and pants with a medium or low rise
Fitted jumpers that sit on the waist
Plain tees that sit no lower that the top of the pubic bone
Pointy toe high heels and flats
Fine, delicate jewellery
Single-breasted jackets and coats
Structured tops
Boat/crew/v necks
Raglan and bat-wing sleeves
Long and cap sleeve lengths

Shapes that don't work
Wide-leg pants and jeans with a high rise
Chunky knits
Long tees that cover the bum
Round-toe high heels and flats
Chunky jewellery
Double-breasted jackets and coats
Floaty chiffon tunics
Turtle/cowl/roll/polo necks
Dolman and mutton-leg sleeves
3/4 and zero sleeve lengths

Take Care of Your Clothes
With what's left, do all repairs, hand washing and dry cleaning NOW. Get some wooden coat hangers (the Warehouse ones are fine). Fold your knits. Air things out. Odour spray and polish your shoes. Buy some cedar blocks and lavendar bags to keep moths at bay. Make your closet a lovely place to visit.

Next Time...
Now the practical part is done, you can look ahead to some purchases! Next time we start planning your new look and think about how to update and replace items.

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