Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hard Core: Taking Stock

signature look

Hi all! I've not been blogging, but have been faithfully plugging away at some serious wardrobe evaluation, taking stock and planning. For those newer readers, let me present a brief recap of my style journey in this blog. I realized in about 2009 that my childhood dream of having 'the perfect wardrobe' was not that far out of reach, given my circumstances. I began this blog as a tool to use in working towards that goal. The first year or two largely focused on finding out very specifically what shapes, materials, colors and style signifiers i loved enough to commit to and how this would work given my lifestyle and climate.  I also explored different ways of populating my wardrobe niches, and realized that i wanted to have a big focus on sewing while also cultivating some shopping resources for pieces i don't want to sew (shoes, lingerie, layering tees and tanks, coats, accessories).

I've always preferred a smaller, more edited wardrobe. Yet i also liked variety, so many of my wardrobe building strategies involved getting the maximum remixeability out of a small number of clothes (through very focused color and silhouette in every piece). I always felt a nagging tension between wanting a very strong, consistent style prescence and a stripped down closet but needing to feel i had "enough" variety.

The Beatrice Dress - Vogue Patterns 8876 by Marcy Tilton

Until about six months ago. It started with the Beatrice dress, which i love. I realized that i could wear it over and over without feeling at all deprived or bored. On the contrary, i felt satisfied and invigorated as it was exactly what i wanted to be wearing.   hmmm.

signature look showed up before i knew it was my signature look

The same thing happened with this chambray Hawthorne dress, which i've been wearing incessantly. I love the way both dresses look and they're infinitely practical as well - comfy for my legs, plenty of room to layer tees, tanks and leggings underneath as well as cardis, jackets, scarves on top. I look pulled together for any type of public activity while my outfit offers no impediment to walking, working, cleaning.....

eek! i should've matched my stripes on these leggings! ah well, a signature look nonetheless

I've been sewing fairly steadily over the last year and a half. Towards the end of last year i realized that i'd accumulated a fair number of 'perfect pieces' - items which are comfy and look great, pieces with their own integrity which i can see no way or need to change. I felt like i wanted to evaluate where all this sewing had gotten me and take stock before i kept on. I pulled all these perfect pieces and put them in the left side of my closet (the side i always go to, i don't know why!) and decided to wear at least one piece from this group every day for a month or so. I've been taking OOTD pictures as well so i can keep track of what's what.

signature look

Within the last two weeks a couple of major things happened which have led to a major style breakthrough. First, i came up with a couple of outfits that felt like perfect uniforms - signature looks i'd be thrilled to be known for, that worked for my life and expressed my Holy Grail of all i love about clothing, style, who i am.

Alabama Chanin Daisy Ezra Coat - a mere $4,775

Then the new Alabama Chanin collection came out. Sheer perfection for ME - in other words, the colors, silhouettes, style details, accessories and styling reflected my signature style to a tee. Love it all, especially the gorgeous new grey/blue colored fabric - divine casual color swoon! I took the above image from the website and have been using it as my desktop wallpaper to remind myself i'd be thrilled to wear this as a uniform daily.

signature look from a couple of years ago

These occurrences highlighted a particular outfit from a couple of years ago which kept popping up in my mind as one of my all time faves.

Even i could see where this was headed at this point, so i started searching terms like "chic uniform" & "minimalist chic" which led me to Anuschka Rees at into - mind. This woman is a flat out genius, and she's written a bible of wardrobe building articles. I was particularly thrilled to see this material on how to create a signature look and develop a wardrobe to support this look: How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe, Build a Solid Foundation of Basics, Balance Basics and Statement Pieces.

feline liminality - a cosmological constant

This last bit is crucial for me. I've always been great at coming up with outstanding looks which i love. But how to put that into action on a day to day, adequately closeted basis?  Ms. Rees' information could not be more pertinent and timely for me. I encourage every single one of you to head on over to her place and prepare for the blowing of your cranium!  With the concept of my signature look in mind it was a snap to look at my 'perfect pieces' and highlight the ones which support my signature look. Of 37 pieces, 29 fit right in to my signature look while only 8 don't - a pretty good ratio considering i wasn't consciously working towards a closet based on my signature look at all.  The signature look concept also helped me understand why some pieces i love intensely don't get much wear in successful outfits.

My next activities will be to dig into Anuschka Rees' material on spelling out my signature look and developing how that will translate into a specific wardrobe. I'm very excited about this, not only because i'm reaching a goal i've been actively working towards for a few years now, but also because it will make dressing much more fun, joyful, and less of a hassle. For decades i've struggled with any number of clothing troubles - hanging onto stuff i don't need or really want (but not knowing quite why), feeling perplexed about how much and what i actually need in order to have a smoothly functioning closet, being stymied at how and where to find even simple wardrobe basics like tanks and tees, having a truly fuzzy understanding about how to fill wardrobe holes in the most helpful way ......

Getting a handle on a lot of these 'closet unknowns' seems so refreshing. I'm so looking forward to streamlining these tasks so i can focus on the fun of running around, footloose, fancy free and feeling fine. And if you're not here yet - remember, if i can do it so can you.


  1. Missed you, too! I love Into-Mind and re-read her posts all the time. I think you have a strong, beautiful signature look, sop it will only keep getting better. xo

  2. Ah, such a long and wonderful post to sink one's teeth into! Great to see you! Loving all of your great looks.

  3. Glad you posted have missed you. As usual a thought provoking post. I too love into mind. I think she breaks things down so sensibly. I am out of my mind though because I cant come to any conclusive decisions about what I really want to wear.
    My new tact is do a free flow of sewing things that I like for some reason or other and to just use my fabric stash. In the end I hope to spot a trend or theme of what I sewed. I am trying not to over think it. I still have fitting issues with what I sew and I still have issues with sewing styles that look good on my body type. I kind of thing it is akin to brainstorming ideas. Looking forward to more of your ideas love the stylin you presented.

  4. so glad to read a new post from you, I miss your online presence... and as always, you have given me much to think about, and new links to peruse! Looking forward to finding out where you go with this, as the direction is one that I am also moving towards...

  5. Yes, you were definitely missed! Nice post too. I love how your personal style is really coming to the fore. As Alison says, that's something so many of us are working towards! I think yours is a unique artsy/vintage combo and it totally suits you.

  6. Hi STAshworth! Yay! you're back here too! (heehee) :)

    Oh Patti what a sweet comment, especially coming from you :) hmm, it's interesting to see how many and which ladies have been digging into into-mind as well!

    Hi Sheila! Thank you thank you thank you! i've been enjoying hitting my stride.

    Hullo Adrienne! i think your plan is a good one. It's taken me about 3 and a half, four years of focus on my style and wardrobe to get to this point of feeling clear enough about my style and how it works with my life to make this kind of commitment. So i'd say realize it does take time, especially if you just don't want to imitate something just off the shelf. Having fun, honinig skills, and not making hug financial mistakes during the experimental phase were important to me, and i was able to accomplish all those goals. I'd been wanting to post some about how i went about this and what was most helpful, thank you for piping up as you're giving me more incentive to do so!

    Hi Alison! heehee, actually a lot of my response to Adrienne i would say to you as well. I'm fascinated that you're thinking along these lines as i think you're one of like the top 5 people who's got a style uniform/wardrobe system completely nailed down form the aesthetic & practical perspectives!!! I can't imagine what you have next up your sleeve and i'm DYING to find out!

    as an aside, i'm always so happy that you're just around - the only person i know who sews at my same snail-wise pace :)

    aw, Louisa, so sweet (blushes) Thank you for saying you're thinking this suits me, it's always very nice to hear!

    Happy Day Ladies! steph

  7. Wonderful to see you post - and with my favorite kind of post, too. I'm completely crazy for your top pic signature look - and love that hat style on you, besides! Am another fan of Into-Mind, plus Colleterie has a great Wardrobe Architect series going on as well.

    I remember when you had been making a point of never wearing the same exact outfit twice - so this has been a real reversal for you. I often look back to other periods of my life when I chose to wear the same thing over and over - or perhaps iterations of it in different colors - to try to "catch" my innate style. In a way, for my own needs, I think I was better off when the only fashion/style information I had was the occasional article in a woman's magazine the family subscribed to or - the biggie - when the new pattern books came out. Much less "noise" to screen out or sift through.

    Both during last summer and now in the winter, I have been acquiring much less and been more interested in learning from myself through what's already in my wardrobe. Like your terrific post about examining your own favorite outfits, writ large.


  8. There will be no housework today - I will be following all your links and seeing how I can apply my new knowledge to all the things I've pulled out of my closet to make Frankenstein's-monster clothes with. So, thanks!

    I think my basic signature look is similar to yours, but I also like variety. I'll go through phases of one style, and then it's back to basic jeans and jackets. Which is okay, but since I've been reading blogs I almost always feel like I have to top the last thing I wore. I need to have a little more embellishment. Maybe I just need more boots.

  9. Hi Vildy "... I have been acquiring much less and been more interested in learning from myself through what's already in my wardrobe." THat sounds real smart. I was just reading another lady talking about taking the same approach on a YLF thread, and i think there's a lot to it.

    Welcome Val S! Oh i hope you had/are having fun ! I'm so glad there's a lot mor info on smaller closets on the web than even a year or two ago. Hooray!

    " I'll go through phases of one style, and then it's back to basic jeans and jackets." this struck me as i go thru more 'maximal' times, then want to wear only basic black.....it's like a palate cleanser!

    "...since I've been reading blogs I almost always feel like I have to top the last thing I wore." yeah, i'm not so keen on this aspect of the blog phenomenon. What looks great online may not look or feel or work so great in real life. And i'm all about the real life.

    At the same time, i'm all about more boots ;) have fun and don't be a stranger!! steph