Miss Jean

My daughter asked me the other day would I miss wearing jeans?

Yes, I said emphatically. Yes I would.

I am returning to work. Regular paid work. Not the flexible kind of a researcher or consultant. And as a result I have to wear regular work clothes.

My interpretation of professional dress has certainly changed over the years as my style, my budget and my commitments have changed. But what is true is that I will miss my jeans. They have become my uniform. I wear them for comfort, I could walk miles in them, I wear them summer and winter. In fact when I really stop and reflect I am always on the hunt for a new and better jean – more shape, more whiskering, lower waist, higher waist. And I love a vintage jean for that slightly worn in feel of the denim. Could it be that jeans are my happy place? Maybe.

I need to find my work wear equivalent. What do you wear to work?

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Brave New Wardrobe

 Marie Kondo’s  The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up  challenged me to think differently about our stuff. I loved the idea of being restrained and more minimalist with my things and in particular with my clothes. Keep only those items that bring you joy. Now that is quite a difficult thing to apply to clothes – does this black long sleeve top bring me joy? Yes, I know. Joy may not be the right word here. Nonetheless the process does get you thinking does it fit well, does the fabric and style suit me, is it in the right colourway. It is also a timely reminder that any item that is home to a hole or stain or blemish of any size must simply go.

Jennifer L. Scott’s Lessons from Madame Chic outlines a way of organising your clothes into a 10 item wardrobe, with extras items allowed. Scott argues that defining your wardrobe with ten key pieces each season ensures you dress and present well. Yes, you may feel that your clothes are in high rotation but you will never wonder what should you wear because the choices will be simple. Take a peek at her TED talk.

So yes, I love Scott and Kondo’s ideas, but have I implemented them. I worked some Kondo magic on my wardrobe a year ago but much of the hard work has been undone. I am yet to adopt Scott’s approach to Chic, but I confess that I have a well established basic, neutral wardrobe. Recently I have been ruthless with the ‘some day clothes’ that I have been holding on to. Some day I will, some day they will fit, some day I might have an occasion….be gone some day clothes. I confess that process was helpful and a little therapeutic.

Australian Personal Brand Image Consultant Colette Werden introduced me to the ” The Ratio System™ –  a new simple way of dressing that helps achieve a longer, leaner silhouette, by creating “one third (torso), two third (leg)” proportion sizes on a woman’s body.”

 According to Werden a large Australian survey they conducted revealed that 53.7% of women want to camouflage their stomach the most, and 21.7% want to camouflage their thighs. The Ratio System™ does this effectively by removing the focus from these areas and instantly creating a flatter looking stomach, a longer, leaner leg line and perception of increased height.

I have also wanted more height and as I get wiser and longer in my years I know that dressing sensibly and striving for elegance and comfort is always best. So where does this leave me. Currently with an overstuffed wardrobe. I may need your help, a friend to accompany me on that journey of sorting and assessing, giving me the courage to let go of clothing that no longer works. Werden suggests there is a lot of negative energy/vibe/memory woven into our clothes. We keep things sometimes for the wrong reason and it is time we let go.

Can clothes make a person, transform them? It sounds so superficial but the bottom line is that they can give us the confidence to lead the life we want to lead, to lean in at work and build our career, to develop friendships and take some risks. No mother trapped at home with little children could say she felt good wearing track pants and old over sized T-shirts all day. No working woman could say she felt good about wearing an ill fitting, old style black polyester suit all day. And yet we do these things, I do and you do too. Let this new year be a brave new world, to simplicity, style and chic. Xx

The Connection between Organisation & Gratitude

So this might be a personal question? But how do you organise your – well, your clothes? We have an old Victorian home and there is minimal storage. In my bedroom there is no built in cupboard so we are currently ‘making do’ with a few dressers and a very old wardrobe. Recently I have added a hanging rack to accommodate the larger items I have like coats, jackets and long dresses.

But I am determined there must be a better way. Could it be I have too many clothes? Too many shoes? Where do you place all of those less used items like accessories and seasonal active gear that need a home but not one that is in high rotation, so access is not necessarily a priority?

Early in the year I read Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. And for a few special moments it did change my outlook. I rearranged my clothes, my personal things and it helped a lot to remove the clutter. But I did not go all the way. Kondo argues that we should only keep that which we love……and here is the problem for me. I have mounds of things for a rainy day. An item if clothing in several sizes, old beautiful leather boots kept just in case one of my girls grows into them.

People who have adopted this KonMarie Method claim it has transformed their life. Stuff does have a way of compounding the negative. There have been many season in my life when I have felt trapped by material things – when I am busy with a newborn I have felt overwhelmed by clutter because I had not the time or energy for a major spring clean. And then I recall a time living overseas when we took with us just a sample of treasured things and lived lightly for over a year. It was thrilling.

So why then do I struggle today with organising my clothes and thinking about stuff and its hold on me. If it were just me I could possibly live a radically different minimalist life. But there are 7mouths2feed here in my home, that is seven people to help organise. Imagine the number of pairs of shoes we have…..I try not to. I think I need a radically different approach to organisation that allows me to feel lighter and brighter and to train those I love how to care for their things. Perhaps the start is gratitude for abundant material blessings. Maybe that will make parting with the excess of stuff easier.

Give to Receive

Retro Jumble Sale

I have started a process of de-cluttering. Sorting out kids clothes, books and toys. It is amazing how many trinkets and craft items my girls can hoard in secret places. And clothes…..well we always have a good supply of hand me downs and I am constantly on the look out for a vintage or op shop bargain piece. But enough is enough….we have too many clothes. Simple. True. So I decided on a whim to move on many of the clothes that I have had stored in boxes, waiting for the girls to get to the next size. In spite of well sorted, labelled boxes I have missed complete sizes and seasons. Furthermore, the kids are different sizes and some are fussy.

 So….I organised a mini give away in my lounge room. I sorted the clothes into groups (t shirts, jumpers, denim etc) and texted a dozen or so friends who I knew have kids of the same gender, age and size AND more importantly who might consider taking 2nd hand clothes.

We had coffee and cake and we juggled each other’s small people while clothes we considered and selected. It was such a good process for me. There were many items I loved and had memories of child x wearing a particular dress or top. But we have too many clothes and I needed to say good bye to them, all. What better way to do it then hand them on to friends who need an appreciate them.

It is in giving that you truly receive, immeasurably more than you can anticipate. I learnt that I do “like” things and perhaps would like to keep them, even if they are hidden in a box and not being used. Are you like that? Do you hide your treasures for a rainy day? Generosity is not easy. It goes against our human nature. But but it is an amazing, rewarding habit to cultivate. Are you prepared to be generous with all that you have this week?

Cheap Trends

I am really struck by the glut of bad clothes on the market right now. While at the coast I have had time to visit new places and browse the offering of new threads. Maybe it because things are targeted at a young crowd with less cash, but that is no excuse for poor construction. The designs have been ok, albeit simple and a throwback to decades I remember….just. But the fabric is often cheap. When things are meant to stretch it doesn’t, when a few extra inches here would make something elegant it is too short. Has this been your experience as you have shopped lately?
http://www.trendstop.com/