Wardrobe Staples Revisited.

Can you hear that sound? That’s the sound of me back-pedalling, frantically.

Last week I got all snooty over at The Loudmouth Lifestyle, with my post ‘5 Wardrobe Staples I Can Live Without‘. Black shoes, white shirts, breton tops…I spat in the face of them all. I was particularly dismissive of trenchcoats and jeans, saying the former made me look like a bag of potatoes and the latter made me feel like a plumber.

But lo! Who is this wearing jeans?!

I’m afraid to say you are not imagining things – it is I, Mrs B. I don’t know if I tempted Fate from the Denim Gods, or was persuaded Emily’s guest post on packing for a UK holiday, but I tried some on. After months of wearing peg trousers my legs looked quite shapely, as did my behind. I thought the dark colour was flattering, and truth be told, I felt quite good. And what had I said not two weeks before?

Never fear though – I shall not be wearing mine with a hoodie or Converse trainers. No, my vintage heels and pussybow blouse keep the ‘me’ in the equation…

Mr B calls this photo 'Touched up by a triffid'.

That’s not all. Suffering from shopping withdrawal, I scouted through the wardrobe at my parents’ house. And what did I find? A trenchcoat. To be fair to me, it’s not your average trenchcoat. Its tulip shaped-skirt keeps it just this side of flattering, and I think it scores extra style points for being one of the brightest colours ever seen by the human eye. Most importantly, I don’t think I look like a sack of vegetables. Or a detective. Score.

I’m not a total cop-out, though. To be honest, I was drawn to the coat because of the colour, not the style, and the jeans because of the shape, not the fabric. I still maintain that people shouldn’t feel they have to have these things in their wardrobe, and they should feel at liberty to find their own style staples. There’s no point buying something that doesn’t fit your shape, fit in with your lifestyle, or fit in with the rest of your wardrobe. Keep your character. What was my advice on coat-purchasing?

Looking at this coat…I have stayed true to that philosophy.

Do you think I get away with it?

Have you ever changed your mind about a type of clothing?

 

Guest Post: A Year Without Mirrors

With thanks to Kjerstin (A Year Without Mirrors) for sharing this intriguing and very brave idea…!
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Thanks, Mrs. Bossa, for this wonderful opportunity to write a guest post!

I’m a feminist fashionistette who once worked in corporate fashion, but was lured to graduate school by a passion for women’s issues.  These days I’m writing my dissertation about clothing size standards. Several months ago I decided to avoid mirrors for a year (while planning my October 1st wedding!), and I’ve been blogging about the experience at www.ayearwithoutmirrors.com.

My no-mirrors experiment was actually motivated by a fashion emergency: my growing anxiety over wedding dresses. I put a lot of pressure on myself to both (1) find the impossibly perfect wedding dress (ideally… modern-yet-traditional, flattering-yet-brave, luxuriously-yet-inexpensive, unique-yet-classic, etc. etc.), and (2) to look insanely gorgeous in said dress, once found.

At some point the search stopped being fun. I hated feeling vain, insecure, and indecisive.  Never one for subtle life-changes, I rejected these obsessions by rejecting my reflection.

I’ve always found pleasure in expressing myself through clothes. You may have noted above, my style is all about combining opposites. I revel in mixing bright colors with neutrals, feminine with masculine, flowing fabric with sleek lines, old with new, preppy with bohemian…. sometimes all at once!  Thus, it scared me to wonder if shunning mirrors might make life boring.

Thankfully, this hasn’t happened, but it’s taken careful strategizing and a few attitude adjustments.  Here they are.  (Note – you DO NOT need to abandon mirrors to try these things out, though it could be fun!)

1: Feel your fashion.

How many pretty-but-painful items line your closet? Instead of focusing on how good something looks on you, first figure out whether it feels good.  In the beginning, not being able to see myself felt like cruel sensory depravation.  Then I started focusing on senses other than just sight. This led me to try new styles, and to abandon trends that hurt.  My walking commute demanded solid, supportive (preppy!) boat-loafers instead of delicate uber-feminine flats.  High-rise, high-stretch (high-comfort) jeans now softly hug my tummy and hips instead of cutting off circulation at “muffin-top”.

2: Buddy system.

Focusing on feel does NOT mean abandoning style or flattering clothes.  (Hey, snuggies are comfy but lack that pleasing je ne sais quoi!) Once you find fashion that feels good, check with a trusted friend to make sure you look as good as you feel. It’s a simple as that.  (If you shop alone, consider staging a fashion show at home…or starting your own blog featuring your favorites!).

3: When in doubt, copy yourself!

Once you find something you love, get one in every color.  When faced with buying a new outfit for my wedding shower, I bought the EXACT same Rachel Roy dress that I’d worn for my engagement photos, but in a new fabrication (and at a steep discount!).

Since I’d purchased the first dress before my no-mirrors experiment, I knew it was flattering, and had fabulous photos as proof.

4: Abandon control.

Back to weddings…  I found my dress.  I bought it the day before I stopped looking in mirrors, and – to be honest – I really wasn’t sure about it.  It has ruching (I hate ruching), has uber-girly flower appliqués, (including one in the back that looks, to me, like a bunny-tail!), and it wasn’t made in a famous design house (I’d always fantasized about name-dropping a bit, if only to myself…).  But it felt comfortable, was clearly flattering, the price was right, and my mom got goose-bumps.

Buying my dress was a first step letting go of wedding style perfectionism and it felt great.  And now I’ll be completely reliant on others to help me navigate dress fittings, choose a veil, jewelry, lacy underthings, and shoes (not to mention the all-important old/new/borrowed/blue items). Others may disagree, but sometimes good enough has to be good enough.  Even on your wedding day (well, as long as we’re not talking about the groom!).

How would your life change if you avoided mirrors?

What tricks would you use to get you through?


Guest Post: How I Rock Vintage

With thanks to Cyrillynn (Any Second Now) – fellow Depeche Mode fan and all-round fabulous dresser.

 

Firstly, I would like to thank Mrs. Bossa for allowing me the chance to do a guest post on her fantastic blog!  This is something that I have been working on for awhile, so what better way to share than as my first guest post.  I wanted to honor her love of vintage by expressing my love of something similar.

 

AN ODE TO THE ROCK T-SHIRT

With so many t-shirts out there bearing some kind of “saying”, the rock t-shirt has received a confusing wrap. Are they are or they not fashionable? It depends on who you ask, and I personally love them. I have bought a t-shirt from every concert I’ve been to since I was 14.  My first two were Duran Duran in 1984 and Depeche Mode in 1985.  Both still fit and now have that “worn in” feel that clothing companies can only hope to emulate.

I’m heavily influenced by 80’s alternative, which sneaks its way into my outfits in the form of a spiked belt, bracelet or rock t-shirt.  Designers like Vivienne Westwood and Stephen Sprouse have infused punk into their lines, and that’s what I love to do with my own wardrobe.  They basically took the t-shirt and made it into a fashion statement.  One of my favorite newer designers, Idil Vice, has created an entire line of clothing that takes the rock t-shirt to a whole new level by placing those rock and punk images on other pieces of clothing like dresses and skirts (like the one below).

The rock t-shirt not only showcases my musical tastes, but it allows me to have greater expression.  I can wear them either completely casual, all the way to glammed up.  They become conversation pieces and can actually bond people.  When I went to a recent concert by OMD, I wore a Joy Division shirt.  There were three other people wearing the same shirt, and we all gave each other a knowing nod, understanding why we were wearing the shirts.  I received several compliments, including an acknowledgement from OMD’s lead singer, Andy McCluskey (he said “Look at you in your Joy Division shirt!”).  Wearing the “right” rock t-shirt can say “I am a connoisseur of music” without you having to say a word.

(Just to give you a bit of history, OMD toured with Joy Division back in the very early 80’s.  When the lead singer, Ian Curtis, committed suicide back in 1982, OMD wrote a song in his honor.  Joy Division later changed their name to New Order).

I came across this article from Cleveland.com called “Vintage rock T-shirts not only make a fashion statement but make a good investment, too“.  Looks like I’m not the only one with a love of the rock tee.  People are not only snapping up shirts from bands like The Ramones and The Sex Pistols, but even the random Styx or odd REO Speedwagon shirts seem to be a hit.  The article explains that vintage and current rock t-shirts are not just fashionable, but can bring in some cash if you are so inclined to give them up.  True vintage t-shirts have increased in value, especially on auction sites such as eBay, fetching up to $1000!  But beware of the wannabes being sold by sites who mass produce them and pawn them off as “vintage”.

“You can always tell by the tags: The originals have much smaller tags and if the tag isn’t as worn as the shirt, you’re probably buying a fake.” – Erica Easley, author of the rock shirt history, “Rock Tease.”

Who knew that my vintage concert t-shirts that I spent $15 on at the most back in 1985, could be worth so much?   Looks like I have a gold-mine in my closet!

 

(Top image courtesy of The Anti-Fop from Google Images. Middle image courtesy of Cleaveland.com.)

How do you feel about rock t-shirts?

Do you have any hidden gems lurking in your closet?


Guest Post: Packing a Capsule Wardrobe for a UK Holiday!

With thanks to Emily from Sugar & Spice for this guest post – I selfishly begged for it because of the changeable weather this summer…

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In April, my mum, sister and I took a trip to Scotland for three short wonderful days. We walked for two of the days and spent the rest of the time sitting in little cafes drinking coffee and eating cake. There are times when I holiday in the UK that I would not want to be anywhere else. Indeed one of the days we were in Perthshire, it was beautifully sunny and even reasonably warm given the time of year. But packing for a UK holiday can be far more challenging than packing for a holiday in the sun where the weather can be pretty much guaranteed. Indeed I wrote about how to pack a capsule wardrobe for your holidays over on my blog recently (http://www.sugar-and-spice.com/2011/06/how-to-pack-capsule-wardrobe-for-your.html).

 

Layering is the key to a capsule wardrobe for a holiday at home:

Thin layers are even more important – thin vests and thin t-shirts (long or short-sleeved, depending on preference) will probably be as warm, if not warmer, than one thicker layer – if it’s warmer than expected, you can wear the vests or tees on their own but if it gets cooler, you can pair them up

Jeans are a godsend for UK holidays – they work well in the cold and in the warm

Socks take up very little room and yet will make all the difference if it rains or the sun refuses to shine

One or two jumpers/cardigans should probably be enough – just make sure that they go with everything you have packed

Dresses are an easy addition to your holiday wardrobe – if the British weather comes through and you have a lovely week away you’ll be so glad you packed your dress, if it rains, you can add a pair of leggings and a cardigan and still feel like you’re on holiday

Leggings – thin, light, and essential for cooler evenings – and days!

There are a few essentials that you would be foolish to leave home without for a holiday in the UK:

Waterproof shoes – i.e. wellington boots

Waterproof jacket (and trousers)

Umbrella

Capsule for UK Staycation

 

Have I forgotten anything? Feel free to add your UK holiday essentials.

And finally, a huge thank you to Mrs B for asking me to write this post for her while she takes a much needed and well-earned break. (Come back soon, please Mrs B!!)

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See also: Mrs Bossa: Wardrobe in a Winter Wonderland

 

My Guest Post is on The Loudmouth Lifestyle!

Before I decided to take a break, I wrote this guest post for Stephanie of The Loudmouth Lifestyle. (Check out her outfit posts, by the way – she is gorgeous and always looks so happy in what she’s wearing).

Here’s the screenshot – click through for my post ‘5 Summer Staples I Can Live Without’, if only to find out how I managed to shoehorn potatoes and a toolkit into a post containing Brigitte Bardot…

Mrs B Takes a Break.

You’ve heard the expression ‘life gets in the way’, right?

You may know that I moved a few weeks ago, and the truth is – it’s taken it out of me. The move itself, the new commute to work, the money issues, the jobhunting…it’s not exactly been fun and games, and frankly, I need a breather!

I’ve got some great guest posters lined up for the next two weeks, so I can have a break. I’ve already scheduled next Wednesday’s Feminist Fashion Bloggers post, though, so keep your eyes peeled.

It’s not all bad, however – I’m now living in a lovely place, so here are a few gratuitous shots of the West Yorkshire countryside, as well as one of Mr B in his grandad hat. There’ll be no light switches in my outfit posts when I get back on the horse…

I’ll leave you with this question:

If you had Mr B’s hat,what would you

keep in those little sidepockets?!

See you soon!

Mrs B x