Know first who you are and then adorn yourself accordingly - Epictetus

31 March 2011

image via fashion tidbits

I'm really not very well suited to my nationality. I really don't fit into the Australian stereotype of bronzed beach babe. I don't do bikinis, short shorts or thongs. And I especially don't do tanning - fake or otherwise. I am extremely happy to deny my roots and so remain pale and cancer free :)

I really am quite on the French side of the equation, except for the point about women-as-competition. Not my thing. Hermes scarves on the other hand... haha. 

I hope you are all having as lazy a Friday afternoon as me?

30 March 2011

Picnic in the Jardin du Luxembourg

This will be my outfit for tomorrow because tonight I am shopping for item number 4 on the 4-5 Seasonal Items purchase index - as well as some basic black 3/4 sleeve tops - to go with pretty much everything I own.

-leather skirt
-leather shorts
-black loafers
-3/4 sleeve red and navy Breton tops

As to what my plan is for item 5 I have an idea but nothing concrete yet. I have things to consider.


Where exactly does one find the perfect blue shirt to wear into worn-in perfection?

image source:

29 March 2011

A Night Out

A Night at the Opéra Garnierlafillemalgardee

So I have an important anniversary coming up and I have already been told what my gift is… a night at Marina Bay Sands, this incredible hotel complex in Singapore... yeah that is a boat on top:

And it has this amazing infinity pool on the aforementioned boat:

Not that I will be getting in said pool... merely perching decoratively beside it while drinking cocktails.

Of course the most important thing on my mind right now is what I am going to wear. Not being from Singapore myself – we will be there over Easter to visit my brother – I have no tolerance for the heat. That rules out a mini skirt as I would only wear it with tights. I wanted something ‘casual-glam’… as if such a thing exists! And, as I am following my self-imposed plan to only buy a few key items per season, I was unwilling to go on a panic shop and buy something stupidly expensive that I would only wear once.

It turns out the answer was quite simple. Inspired by A Pair And A Spare I am now part way to making the gorgeous skirt in the image above (albeit without the pleats) from some beautiful silk I purchased at a designer end-of-roll fabric outlet. I am going to team it with my uniform staple white tee and, inspired by that Jil Sander runway, a pop of hot pink lipstick and my favourite summery hot pink nail polish. Add to that my mother’s vintage grey croc clutch, a pair of silver ballets and a simple silver cuff and I am good to go.

Elegant. Casual. Minimal. I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of this DIY. What more could a girl wish for?

images from

28 March 2011

The 10 Golden Rules of Great Style

According to Vogue Australia that is. I don’t agree with everything in the article but it presents some interesting ideas that mesh quite well with my current efforts to redesign my wardrobe and my thinking about clothes. These are what I found to be the most interesting ideas:

1. Hit the Trenches
Simple and elegant, yet with that all-important mystery, the trench is the polar opposite of the fur coat, as it is all about underplaying your hand.

2. To thine Own Self be True
It was the Greek philosopher Epictetus who said: “Know first who you are and then adorn yourself accordingly.” The first thing we can all do is be honest about our body shape. Plum Sykes, contributing editor at US Vogue, says: “Fit is fundamentally more important than fashion. It’s much better to accept how you look and retrain your eye to dress accordingly.” Averyl Oates, fashion buyer at Harvey Nicols, says: “Everyone has an icon, but it’s important to develop your own look. True style is about not letting the clothes wear you.”

3. Shoes should be Made for Walking, as well as Talking
According to shoe maestro Manolo Blahnik, there’s only one shoe style that no woman can live without: perfectly crafted stilettos. Shapes aside, the right shoes should always make your life more, not less, graceful. When it comes to flats, always invest in the best as they will pay for themselves on a cost-per-wear basis.

4. Make the perfect T-shirt your New Best Friend
Whatever your choice, the ultimate symbol of laid-back cool should be uniquely you. Look for a neckline to suit your shape, a thickness that feels comfortable, sleeves that you can roll and a cut that drapes beautifully below the bust.

5. Memories are the Real Diamonds
Never underestimate the talismanic quality of jewellery: every piece should evoke a certain memory of your life. If you want style to last, choose a piece that is unique and original, rather than expensive. Says jeweller Tom Binns: “Style is something you pick up; taste is inherent.” And as Coco Chanel proved, get the jewellery right and you can wear the simplest of clothes.

6. When it comes to Tailoring, Raise the Bar
Every woman needs at least one great jacket. “It is the full stop. It defines as much as it completes the look.” Says
[now ex] Dior designer John Galliano.

7. Choose a bag with Character
While a bag should never scream with logos, it does set the tone of your look and, as such, should be shorthand for luxury, elegance and aspiration. As Karl Lagerfeld explains: “Everybody knows the 2.55 is Chanel. It is an instant identification wherever you go. It is the easiest thing to wear: like jeans, it is never a problem. It goes with everything at every age.”

8. Stay Interesting
Fashion loves its style diktats, but they should never be at the expense of your individuality. Every look should have at least on surprise or talking point. Be receptive to ideas, regardless of your age.

9. Ensure your Wardrobe is Polished, Pressed and Pristine
Elika Gibbs, founder of Practical Princess wardrobe service, believes disorganised clutter and hoarding comes between so many of us and great style. “Only when a wardrobe is organised can you see what’s missing and ensure it functions properly,” she says. “Get everything out and go through it. You will soon be able to spot the repeat buys and what is lacking. Be disciplined.” She suggests photographing your outfits for your very own look book, to make dressing more efficient and your wardrobe work harder.

10. Remember, Nothing is Forever
While we are all in search of the eternal classic, it’s worth remembering that when it comes to fashion nothing is forever. Style never stands still, so neither should your wardrobe. As Plum Sykes says: “Without change, you can never be truly stylish. Women who wear the same thing over and over again might look chic, but they won’t have real style.” So finally, take Lagerfeld’s advice on the golden rules of dressing: “Lots of people have great style, but the most important thing is to have your own style.”

I don’t know how I feel about this last idea. I think that keeping the central elements of a look or ‘uniform’ are how you cultivate personal style. Sure accessories can change, but a simple Breton top and cigarette-cut pants, for example, look just as chic on a girl my age as they do on someone my mother’s age and even older. It is about styling the overall effect. I go for top-knots or the slightly unkempt long French-girl style hair while my mother has a chignon or neatly styles her shoulder-length hair. And then there are accessories, I might stack on a few of my favourite plastic bangles or some red beads whereas my mother has a few gold chain bracelets and necklaces that she wears religiously. 

Surely this is the mark of true style: the ability to take classic, basic elements and make the look uniquely yours with minimal additions? Thoughts?

image source: tumblr

27 March 2011

This Too Shall Pass

Arms too sore to type after an exercise incident involving a pole and dangling upside down. Nuff said. So this is what I wore to work today:

dodgy photography care of my phone 
Ralph Lauren cardigan (the last one I buy - is so pilled I have to keep shaving it), Bonds tee, Cue pants, Mulberry Alexa satchel, boots from London, scarf from eBay and Alexander McQueen red snakeskin cuff for a bit of colour.

24 March 2011

Designer Shoe Fail

Don’t worry this is not a story about my shoes falling apart and some evil corporation refusing to replace them, this is a post that is more about a personal failing when it comes to shoes. The fact is: I am incapable of buying designer shoes. I cannot bring myself to do it.

But the thing is I love shoes. When my brother moved out his wardrobe became a repository for my collection, all very neatly stacked in boxes. I do have too many shoes – it’s why I cannot do minimalism – but shoes make me happy. When I’m lacking confidence a pair of wacking great skyscraper heels puts the spring – well, sway in the very least – back into my step. My well-curated selection of heels are all classically shaped but in interesting leathers, textures and, occasionally, colours because I do not do “one season” hype accessories. And paired with jeans, a white tee and a blazer they are outfit heaven.

But I digress.

While I was at uni doing my, seemingly never-ending, degree I worked in a few shoe shops. So, it’s fair to say that I know a lot about shoes – how they’re constructed, how the materials wear and what to avoid. I also know how cheap they are to manufacture. Granted, I did not work in a luxury store but I worked for the company that owned one of the premier designer shoe stores in my city. No shoe that can be offered to employees at a standard across the board 40% reduction everyday is worth paying retail for. And I’m talking brands like Miu Miu.

Don’t get me wrong, I most emphatically do not buy cheap shoes. But the most I will ever pay is $300. Bags on the other hand, are a totally different story… but they don’t slosh around in the dirt and grime in my city (I don’t work in the nicest/cleanest part of town as my company enjoys the cheap rent… just down the road from our local maximum security prison).

Couple my location with the fact that my current place of abode means at least a $200 price hike if I buy local or exorbitant postage and import charges if I go to NAP. Lucky me.

But buying from non-designer brands does not mean I have lower standards, I am incredibly like Fluerette in as much as I refuse to buy anything synthetic – except the soles and I have come to learn which brands have acceptable soles and which do not – because my feet need to breathe and synthetic lining is like walking around with my feet in their own little private saunas. Ick.

Oh and please let it be noted that I am horribly jealous of everyone else's beautiful shoe collections - especially those Isabel Marant boots. I really wish I didn't have this problem.

So how do you all feel about shoes, designer or otherwise? And, just because it's Friday, here is some shoe porn from my collection:

I will get off my ass and actually take some pics of my stuff soon I promise :)

All images

23 March 2011

Purple. Silk. Sailor pants.

Bear with me! Don’t shake your pretty little minimalist head in despair just yet… because I have a confession to make: I love vintage. Not scary 80s vintage, which is probably the fashion gutter your mind has turned to after reading the title, but seriously awesome total vintage dressing. I envy the dedication of those who consistently dress in 1940s or 1950s style, complete with hair and make-up. That shit takes effort. So, after admiring their will power from afar for a long time, I decided to introduce a few elements to my own style. Nothing major. Just a touch of red lipstick, or a flick of black eyeliner, or a skirt that references the Dior wasp-waist silhouette, or even high-waisted, wide-legged, purple silk sailor pants that are divinely 1940s in their style, buttons and white piped details. Admittedly, I don’t wear them that often but they still make me smile when I spot them in my cupboard. The key to teaming them with the rest of my wardrobe is to keep everything else super simple. And so, tonight, teamed with a simple white tee, a slash of MAC Russian Red and some plain black pumps, they are going to take me to the opera.

22 March 2011

A Note on Minimalism

I love the idea of a minimalist wardrobe – in case you hadn’t guessed. A small edited selection of items that mix and match in interesting ways to create a range of outfits with which one never gets bored. Easier said than done. Some days I want to dress like a librarian in a mid-length skirt, big glasses and minimal makeup. And some days I feel more like a rockabilly burlesque star –this is where the leather shorts come in, as do my many varieties of gel eyeliner.

In most respects, however, despite my fondness for dressing in character, my style is quite minimal. I tend toward neutral colours like black, grey, navy, khaki and cream, choosing to ad pops of bright shades with my accessories, depending on my mood. I don’t do ruffles, frills or flounces either. Every time I see ‘romanticism’ being touted in a fashion mag I snort audibly with derision and turn the page. Skirts and dresses have started to appear only recently in my go-to wardrobe but for a long time I refused to wear them unless threatened with dismemberment on the eve of someone or other’s wedding. Perhaps it stems from being quite a large child/young teenager, but I have always preferred the sleeker, cleaner silhouette that pants provide.

While I would love to be a true minimalist, along the lines of Fleurette, right now I want to experiment a little. Especially since, for the first time since leaving school, I have the financial freedom to be able to cultivate a collection of classics that will last me until I am old and decrepit and being wheeled around a nursing home muttering obscenities at random passers-by... oh yeah, I’m going to be one of those old ladies. I guess what also attracts me is the idea of longevity. Investing in clothes that will not readily fall apart so that I can wear and love them for years on end without having to update my core wardrobe.

That said, I am totally on the same page as Miss Sophie with the love-hate luxury syndrome. Yes, I can save up and afford it and yes, I love it, but should I really have it? My own Chanel purchase (more on this later) was riddled with guilt about the approximately two million people that had just been made homeless in Pakistan by the devastating floods they had been hit with. Don’t get me wrong I adore my bag and I am forever grateful that I have been put in a position to have purchased one under my own steam at a comparatively young age, but it still bites a little.

On a lighter note, I have uni tonight, so this is what I wore for work/class:
La Sorbonne

21 March 2011

Last Chance to Wear?

Rock&Roll Cafe
Although I am loath to admit it, I am getting to the age where all of a sudden my friends are getting married, buying houses and starting families. A little scary considering I’m not long out of university. I have been noticing a trend toward getting married younger and younger among my friends and acquaintances that directly contradicts what the newspapers are trying to tell me, i.e. that I will be old and wrinkly with shrivelled, lifeless ovaries before I even think about getting married and procreating because I am too selfishly wrapped up in my career to notice that my body is decaying around me. Fun.

So, what the hell does this have to do with my wardrobe? Well, I have an undeniable penchant for dressing like a school girl. Currently, I am wearing a kilt I bought in Edinburgh (unfortunately it is an ex’s clan tartan but I still like it), navy v-neck sweater, black tights and my favourite black patent brogues (they look like Darth Vader’s helmet… if he was a cone head). And whilst this may seem to directly controvert my whole concept of creating a classic French-style wardrobe, close observation of French girls my own age has led me to believe that they too like to have a little fun with their wardrobe, supplementing in a few carefully edited chain-store items each season whilst still maintaining their core wardrobe of quality classic items.

With that in mind I decided to invest in a (fake) leather pleated skirt. I bought it on eBay for much less than the original price and made myself plan at least five outfits to go with it pre-purchase. I have also instituted the “1-in, 2-out” rule in my wardrobe which basically means I pawn off items to charity shops, eBay or friends every time I buy anything. One such friend has spent the whole day twirling around the office, receiving compliments off everyone about her lovely new skirt. Hilarious.

Anyway, I know this skirt has a limited lifespan – no one wants to see a thirty-year-old non-fashion-magazine editor in a leather skirt… not that I am turning thirty anytime soon – but I am determined to have fun with fashion without wasting money on items that don’t suit me and which I will never wear. Each item will have to pass the rigorous Outfit Test and fit in with the rest of my classics.

Further to my current leather fetish I also bought a pair of intensely 80s high-waisted black leather pants on eBay for $10. Don’t worry I’m not having an out of body hipster experience. After reading some posts on A Pair & A Spare about DIY leather shorts I decided to have a go. And I was rather impressed with the result. They actually go great with my collection of Breton tops and the McQueen scarf that I bought in London the last time I was there. They look a lot the ones in the picture but I have paired them with a black wide belt I already owned to pull them right in, so as to emphasise my waist and avoid looking whale-esque. Score.

Shopping in the Marais
The 4-5 Seasonal Items purchase index:
-leather skirt
-leather shorts
-black loafers

20 March 2011

My Style Resolution 2011

Paris By Day

Inspired by posts by the lovely ladies from the blogs Dead Fleurette, 312 and Miss Moll Cherie I have been busily creating a list of things I need to fill the gaps in my slowly reforming wardrobe of staple items. The key theme that runs through these lists is the wish to develop a style akin to that of the famously – and unattainably – chic French woman. Having been lucky enough to spend a fair amount of time in Paris observing these rare creatures – though not as much time as Fleurette the lucky thing – I have been trying totally unsuccessfully to try and emulate their style.

But all I have managed to achieve in the ensuing years since this self-declared war on bad styling is a wardrobe of random non-matching items that looking like they were collected together by a schizophrenic monkey on acid. Not a pretty sight.

I think I have what I would here-by like to coin Chain-Store-Tourettes. This condition is a neurological disorder characterised by recurrent ill-timed clothing purchases often involving a random and meaningless selection of items that were, variously: on sale, in a magazine or on that hot girl seen via a street style blog.

But no more! I have hereby decided that this will be my year of getting my shit under control!

*insert drumroll*

I will not do the following things:
-purchase random items without being able to name at least 5 outfits I can build it into
-acquire more than 4-5 key items for the season
-incessantly buy ‘basics’ when I have a draw full of spare tees already (this is because my chosen favourite white tee brand does not ship to my country so I stocked up last time I was near said store)
-seek to obtain anymore shoes unless I break a staple favourite beyond repair

The only safe way to combat CST is cold-turkey my friends!

No more shops. No more shopping to combat boredom. No more random spending.

We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime I am in the process of accumulating a list of items for my newly French-y-fied wardrobe for which I will need to save up (hopefully much easier now that I will not be wasting my money):

The List

-White Silk Shirt by Equipment
-Classic Trench Coat by Burberry
-Taupe Bottines by Isabel Marant
-Breton Stripe Tops by Saint James
-Black Cropped Pants by Isabel Marant

I’m sure I will think of more things to add to the list as this crazy caper continues.

Until then adieu!

I Love It When…

I manage to rediscover an item in my clothing coffin and realise if I change it a little, said item will go from meh to awesome.

Case in point: my narrow-legged boyfriend jeans.

I wanted a pair and found some I liked but wasn’t sure because they were made to be worn rolled down at the waist, which is a look that really only suits people much thinner than I.

Long story short I bought them as they were a good brand and on sale for just $23 (down from well over $100). But I never really wore them until the other day I put them on with a red stripe tee and rolled the waistband back up to create high-waisted nautical perfection a la Ms Bardot. Needless to say, they are fast becoming a staple.

Image: Tumblr

17 March 2011

Clothes Coffin?

The one thing every woman longs for is the perfect wardrobe. You know, that one from the depths of urban legend where you open the door and can quickly select one or two key items that will easily mix to form the perfect outfit each and every time with a minimum of fuss?

I don’t know about you, but my wardrobe isn’t so much a carefully edited selection as it is a coffin for my clothes. A wildly and carelessly accumulated stash of all of the crap I though I might have needed at some point in my life and just never got around to wearing or throwing out.

The strange thing is I have never been one to follow trends religiously - I cannot artfully drape or layer an outfit to save my life and I certainly don’t do whatever fashion magazines tell me to - but the more I aimed for a great wardrobe the more I missed. Nothing matched. Nothing really suited me. And certainly nothing was of a good quality. It actually scares me when I think about how much money I have wasted in chain stores on clothes that I love but that fall apart after an unacceptably small number of wears.

One thing I always noticed about my clothing habits was an obsession with t-shirts – which I’m convinced is genetic, one look at my brother’s wardrobe can only confirm this. In my youth it was brightly coloured ones with strange images, but for the last few years it has been white ones. With everything. It has been my stop gap for a long time now and has always been paired with either pants and a bright scarf or a statement-y type skirt (I would just like to say that I have photographic evidence of myself doing this long before that Jil Sander runway ;) ). I have now also segued into the Parisienne staple of Breton striped tees and own far more than most people consider healthy. But, they’re the perfect style statement and they, along with my hefty collection of white tees, are going to be the starting point of my plan to build the ultimate capsule wardrobe of timeless classics.

It's going to be a bumpy ride.