Thursday, April 17, 2014

5 Ways to Wear a White Tank and Jeans

Outfit of the Day


Some of the oft-quoted criticisms of a capsule/minimalist wardrobe are that the concept is "boring", "lacks creativity", and "stops me from expressing myself". However, I have found that over the last few months following the 10 item wardrobe idea, the exact opposite is true. Yes, I suppose you could just wear your core and layering pieces the exact same way every time, in a plain and perhaps boring way, but I see these core pieces as the canvas upon which I can build a fun outfit without having to expend a large amount of time or money.

Yesterday, I was wearing an incredibly plain base of a white cotton tank and blue jeans; pieces I am sure almost every single woman has in her wardrobe. I could have paired it with a pair of runners and nothing else, and it would have been serviceable, but yes, a little boring. By adding in three simple accessories and rolling my hems, I instead created a fun retro look that was still just as comfortable but looked pulled together, stylish and intentional. Below, I am going to show you five more ways you can style a simple white tank and jeans.

White Tank Blue Jeans 5 Ways


First off are my tank and jeans in an ultra casual ensemble, perfect for watching your kids play sport, running errands or for those days when you would really rather stay in bed, but still need to get up and at 'em. I highly recommend buying a slightly upgraded version of a sweatshirt. I have one very similar to this one from Old Navy a few years ago - it's still sweatshirt material, but the style looks more like "real" clothes rather than exercise gear. Paired with the base items, a graphic print nylon tote, and grey Skechers, this outfit is almost as comfy as sweats and yoga pants, but so much more stylish.

The next outfit is casual, but taken up a notch from the first one. I have just bought these Keds, and they are so cool, I'm not ashamed to admit I've been basing a lot of outfits around these shoes! The pointed toe, grosgrain ribbon laces and tan leather trim are just the perfect combo. This time, I cuffed the jeans, (to show off the shoes!), added a navy spotted scarf (since you can never have too many polka dots) and my fave Tory Burch bucket bag which plays off the tan and white in the shoes without being too matchy-matchy.

The third outfit is great for the weather we have been having here in Perth at the moment, and is perfect for anyone going through transitional weather. The mornings can be quite chilly at the moment, so the cardigan is a great layering piece. The orange and blue are great pops of colour, and both colours are found in the striped pattern on my Coach bangle, while the long gold necklace means the outfit will still look great without the cardigan as the weather warms up over the course of the day.

The final two outfits are dressier takes on the tank and jeans base, and would be perfect for date nights, dinners out, PTA meetings or parent teacher evenings. Having said that, I have no problem with being dressier during the day, so you will often see me in variations of these in my day-to-day life as well, sometimes with more casual accessories. I love blazers as a way to finish an outfit; you can see here how they really elevate a simple jeans and tank.




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PS: the items I've used in the polyvore collages are often not my exact items. The pieces that are exact ones are all the shirts except the blush silk, and all the dresses.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Autumn 10 Item Capsule Wardrobe


It looks like autumn is finally here in Perth, so that means it is time to update my 10 item wardrobe for the cooler weather that is (hopefully) here to stay. The ten item wardrobe is a concept that I came across (and then embraced) from Jennifer L Scott's wonderful gem of a book, Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris. Basically, you narrow down your wardrobe to 10 (or so) core items, which are then supplemented with layering pieces, tees and accessories. I am truly not understating it when I say that it has revolutionized getting ready in the mornings!

Despite the name of my post, I have not yet achieved a 10 item wardrobe. My spring and summer capsules both sat around 18 core pieces, and these both worked really well for me, with only two or so pieces in each capsule that I could have eliminated. My autumn capsule wardrobe is slightly larger again, simply because the autumn weather here in Perth is so extreme. A week ago, the maximum temp was just 21C coupled with wind and rain, but in a few days time, the forecast is for 30C and sun!

Like spring and summer, my base colour for my capsule is navy, and as the weather is cooling down, so to do the accent colours, moving away from warmer shades like coral and red to wintry shades of jade, mint, aqua and periwinkle, with one or two shots of burgundy. The pieces that are new to my wardrobe are highlighted in bold, and as you can see, there are a few this season. The navy sweater is a replacement piece for my old one that was literally falling apart because I wore it so much over a few years. The navy velvet blazer was something I've been searching for at least 3 years - I really wanted a navy blazer for winter (my linen one just doesn't cut it!!), but I wanted something that could also be worn for dressier events, as well as day-to-day. When I saw this online at Ann Taylor, and on deep discount, no less, I snapped it up.

The other new pieces were purchased to add a touch of one of this season's trend colours (jade) to my wardrobe. I picked this colour for three reasons; first and most importantly, I love this colour, but it is also incredibly flattering to my skin tone, and it goes beautifully with my base colour, navy. I think it is really important when curating a classic wardrobe that you add small touches each season/year of something current. Whether you add a colour, a silhouette, or through accessories, I think this can help your classic capsule wardrobe look stylish and elegant and intentional, rather than tired and dated.

For autumn, these are my 23 core items:


Winter Capsule Wardrobe Pants


  1. grey skinny jeans
  2. dark rinse slim cut jeans
  3. dark rinse wide leg trouser jeans
  4. navy cropped trousers
  5. black cropped trousers
  6. navy slim trousers
  7. brownish grey wide leg trousers

    If I was truly being minimalist, this is where I could absolutely narrow down my wardrobe. However, I have all of these pants, they all fit my body very well, and they fit my style as well, so it seems pointless to pack some of them away just for the sake of this exercise. What it does mean is that I won't be buying anymore pants for quite a while! You may be asking, "why no skirts?" and the answer is very simple - I hardly ever wore my skirts from my summer wardrobe, and I started to think back to last winter, and the same was true for then as well. So at this point, I've packed my skirts away, and if I don't miss them, they will be sold or given away. And as the weather looks like it is cooling down for good, then the two pairs of cropped pants will be packed away until next spring/summer.
    Winter Capsule Wardrobe Dresses
  8. floral jersey sleeveless dress (navy base with aqua and white)
  9. floral ponte sleeveless dress (navy, aqua, purple and white)
  10. floral print jersey short sleeved dress (lavender, aqua and grey)
  11. floral print jersey elbow sleeve dress (navy base with burgundy flowers)
  12. navy and grey polka dot jersey sleeveless dress

    The first three dresses were new purchases this spring/summer, and have got a lot of use already, but the darker colours mean they will still look great through into the cooler weather of autumn topped with a cardigan or blazer. The second-from-the-right dress is from last winter but is still in great condition, while the last dress is a new buy. This Modcloth dress is perfect for autumn - no sleeves means great for the warmer days, while the navy and grey colour means it won't look out of place with tights and woollen cardigan right throughout winter.

    Winter Capsule Wardrobe Tops


  13. Liberty print linen 3/4 sleeve shirt (cream base with pink, blue and green)
  14. Liberty print short sleeved shirt (red, green and blue)
  15. Liberty print short sleeved blouse (navy, white and green)
  16. Liberty print long sleeved shirt (navy, jade and white)
  17. Liberty print long sleeved shirt (jade on navy base)
  18. burgundy lace trimmed knit short sleeved blouse
  19. geo print silk blouse (green, white and black)
  20. geo print jersey long sleeve blouse (navy and white)
  21. blush silk shirt
  22. mint 3/4 sleeve cotton sweater top

    This pic really shows my colour palette, and how I add interest to what are otherwise very plain neutral pants. Again, I could narrow this down further, but having 10 tops really helps me out laundry and ironing wise. While I would love to be on top of my ironing all the time, that just doesn't happen on a regular basis! Well, that's my excuse, anyway, for buying so many fab Liberty print shirts!!
 and my extras:

Sweaters/Outerwear
  1. navy linen blazer
  2. navy stripe ponte blazer
  3. navy velvet blazer
  4. aqua knit jacket
  5. navy waterfall merino cardigan
  6. navy short sleeved cotton cardigan
  7. mint cotton cardigan
  8. jade cotton cardigan
  9. navy cotton cardigan
  10. purple cotton cardigan
  11. navy merino wool sweater (replacing my old one that wore out)
  12. jade merino wool sweater
  13. periwinkle merino wool sweater
  14. periwinkle blue ladder stitch cotton sweater
 Tees/tanks
  1. white, navy, coral, and teal plain scoop or v neck tees
  2. navy and white tanks
  3. navy and white stripe v neck tee
  4. navy, white and red striped tee
If you want to discover more of my 10 Item Wardrobe, then check out these:

Can I Achieve a 10 Item Wardrobe
10 Item Wardrobe Versatility
My Summer 10 Item Wardrobe
1 Shirt from Summer to Autumn
Update to Summer Wardrobe
What I Wore Wednesday


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PS: the items I've used in the polyvore collages are often not my exact items. The pieces that are exact ones are all the shirts except the blush silk, and all the dresses.

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Raid the Fridge Chicken Soup

More cool weather meant more yummy comfort food, this week a Raid the Fridge Chicken Soup. This soup came together when I was cleaning out the fridge and realized that I had some fresh lasagna noodles and a zucchini left over from the turkey lasagna the other night, as well as a leek that was rapidly starting to look limp. Adding in basics such as carrots and celery that are usually in my fridge, together with frozen homemade chicken stock and shredded chicken meant that not only was a hearty chicken soup on the table in less than half an hour, it also used up things that would have easily ended up in the bin.


Raid The Fridge Chicken Soup

1.5 L chicken stock, thawed if frozen
400g cooked shredded chicken
2 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, rinsed well and finely sliced
2 carrots, grated
1 large zucchini, grated
4 sticks celery, finely sliced
4 sheets fresh lasagna
chopped parsley (optional)


  • In a medium stockpot or large saucepan, bring chicken stock and shredded chicken to the boil.
  • Heat oil in a medium frypan over medium heat and saute leeks until soft and golden. 
  • Add carrot, zucchini and celery and saute for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add to chicken stock.
  • Roughly tear the lasagna sheets into small pieces and add to pot. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes until pasta is done to your liking (we like it al dente). Season with salt and pepper
  • Serve with parsley if desired.

Notes:

  • if you don't have cooked shredded chicken stashed in your freezer (and if not, why not?!), cook two skinless chicken breasts in the chicken stock for about 15 minutes at a simmer with the pot covered. Remove, allow to cool slightly, and then shred.
  • you really could use any vegetables you have lying around. Sub in onion instead of leek, cabbage instead of zucchini, etc.
  • I grated the veggies for two reasons; firstly, to make the soup super quick cooking, and secondly, the kids can't avoid them like they may do with larger chunks.


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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cheesy Turkey and Vegetable Lasagna


The weather is finally becoming cooler here in Perth, so warming comfort foods seem much more appealing, and this Cheesy Turkey and Vegetable Lasagna really fits the bill. While there is a fair bit of cheese in this, it is also chock full of veggies, and the kids loved it, so on balance, I call it a winner!



Cheesy Turkey and Vegetable Lasagna

2 cans condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
1 1/2 cups milk
1 kilo (2lbs) ground turkey breast
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large zucchini, chopped
2 large red capsicum (pepper), chopped
1 punnet sliced mushrooms
2 cups low fat mozzarella, grated
1 tbsp dried Italian herbs
1 packet fresh lasagna noodles

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Stir together soup and milk in a small bowl.
  2. Saute the turkey, onion and garlic together in a large frypan on medium heat for 5 minutes, breaking up clumps of ground meat.
  3. Add the remaining vegetables and continue to saute on medium heat until turkey is cooked and vegetables are tender, another 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the cheese and the dried herbs.
  5. Spread 1 cup of soup mixture in the bottom of a 9 x 13" baking dish.
  6. Top with a single layer of lasagna noodles (uncooked), cutting them to fit, followed by 1/2 of the turkey mixture and 1 cup of the soup mixture.
  7.  Repeat layers, then top with one more layer of lasagna noodles. Spread remaining soup mixture over top.
  8. Cover baking dish with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and then bake for 15 more minutes until cheese is melted and starting to brown.


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