Wednesday, October 30, 2013

10 Item Wardrobe Versatility

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Yesterday I received a comment on my 10 Item wardrobe asking if the limited amount of clothes means that I end up wearing the same outfits over and over again. While it is true that I am wearing the same clothes repeatedly, I have to admit that it is the exact opposite regarding outfits. Before I cleaned out my wardrobe, I have to admit that I often wore the same outfits repeatedly - when there were so many overwhelming choices, the default often to grab a tried and true outfit. Now with far fewer choices, it is so much easier to be creative with my items and come up with something different. The key to it all working is definitely my extras and my accessories. By using these pieces wisely, it is very easy to totally change a basic building block of a jeans and a tee into many different outfits.

I thought I would show you all some examples using Elle Macpherson. She is the epitome of someone who has discovered her personal style, and is clearly wealthy enough to never need to wear repeats, and yet, you see her over and over using core classic pieces in new ways.

In the collage above, you see the same cable knit turtleneck, styled three completely different ways. n the first pic cropped pants, an elegant bag and killer heels combine with cropped skinnies for a sexy look that is probably a bit much for us mere mortals on the school run, but would be perfect for a lunch with the girls. Swapping out the heels for a pair of ankle boots, the cropped jeans for leather leggings, and adding in a puffer jacket and hat gives the same sweater a totally new look - still sexy, but more casual. Finally, a statement bag and a fur vest combine for a classic Elle haute hippie look.

These outfits featuring a white blazer are more my style! A quick change of jeans, top and accessories gives three completely different looks - my favourite is the last one, and this would be totally appropriate for me to do the school run in! I love that in the middle pic Elle has tucked the pocket flaps into the pocket - it totally changes the look of the jacket.

Similarly, these black tank outfits are definitely something I could see myself in, since they encompass a lot of my 10 item wardrobe pieces. I am in love with the simple black tank and white pant outfit, but the printed pants and the black on black ones are just as stylish.

What all of these outfits show, though, is how important accessories are. Whether it is a tangle of necklaces, a knotted scarf, killer shoes or a statement bag, those added touches take a simple outfit from plain to something with pizazz! What Elle also demonstrates is that you don't need to slavishly follow the latest trends; instead, wear what suits you and what you feel good in, and you may not look "fashionable" but you will certainly look stylish and chic.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Sunday Check-In

It's been ages since I've checked in, mostly because I have been totally slack about the whole thing :( but, unlike previous times where I would fall off the wagon, and then really fall of the wagon, this time, I managed to keep myself in check, and over the past week, get back into the swing of things. I've just started a boot camp style class at the local fitness centre near the kids' schools. It is intense with a capital I, and the instructor has suggested I start out with it once a week for a month (together with regular less intense workouts the rest of the week), and then increase to twice a week after that, so for now, this is the plan.

Week ending 28/10/13

Today's weight: 97.0 kg
Last month's weight: 98.0 kg
Starting weight: 99.8 kg

This month's loss: 1 kg
Weight Loss to date: 2.8 kg

Exercise: 1 x boot camp, 3 x 20 minute walks

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image courtesy of Stock Images /

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Suds Up!

Isn't it funny how the smallest things can bring great pleasure? I subscribe to the Honest Company's cleaning and lifestyle bundle which lets me pick 5 products each shipment. While I usually get the same assortment of products for 4 of my picks, I try and pick something different for my last pick, so that each batch I get to try something new! This time, I picked Suds Up, a little ceramic pot with a bamboo brush, and it has become my new favourite toy.

I usually do the majority of my dishes in the dishwasher, but I always have a few things left to handwash; either my dishwasher was full up, and/or the items were handwash only. I've always felt it was so wasteful to fill up the sink (even if I only half filled the little one) for just a few dishes. This little pot has changed all that, and now I don't even need to fill the sink at all! The pot and the brush combine to create the perfect amount of suds - you simply add a small amount of water (not even a quarter of a cup) and a teeny squirt of dish soap to the pot, replace the blue plastic bit on a spring into the pot, and then pump the bamboo brush up and down to create the bubbles.

I feel better about the small amount of hand washing of the dishes that I do, and the item itself just looks and feels so nice. The brush is lovely to hold, and every day when I replace the soap and water I smile at the little punched butterfly on the plastic brush rest. As with all of the Honest Co. products, it's sustainable in its production, too. Plus, it's helped with the day to day tidiness of my kitchen, since now it's quick and easy to tackle the one or two breakfast bowls or tea cups that pop up during the day.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Plus Size Capsule Wardrobe for Exercise

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Let's be honest - exercise is not my favourite past time at the best of times, and when cute looking exercise gear is usually only available for the skinny minnies out there, well, my motivation drops pretty much to zero. There is no way you are going to feel great about yourself while wearing an oversized tee and drawstring sweats stolen from hubby's wardrobe. Luckily, more and more brands are realising that us plus sized girls do exercise, and that we also want to look great while doing it! Just like I've narrowed down my main wardrobe, and use capsules when I travel, a capsule wardrobe for exercise makes a lot of sense.

The majority of my work out wear is from Virtu and Old Navy, simply because when I bought them a couple of years ago, these two brands had nice gear that fit, looked good, and was reasonably priced. Now, I've found lots of options out there regardless of your shape or size. I like to have items that I can co-ordinate with each other - that way a small wardrobe of workout clothes can take you through various activities in style. My exercise capsule consists of three pairs of pants, three tops, two pieces of outerwear, shoes and a bag.

Plus Sized Sports Capsule

I like having three different style of pants: a traditional yoga style, a skirted legging, and a cropped pair. The yoga pants are great for walking, yoga (obviously), and exercise in cooler weather. I love leggings for more active exercise like a X Tend Barre class or if I'm going to the gym, and I prefer a skirted style so that my butt is covered up while I am out and about - no one at the supermarket needs to see my behind if I nip in there after a gym session! Finally, a cropped pair is wonderful in warmer weather - if you feel comfortable in shorts, then swap in a pair instead of the crops.

How many tops you need really depends on how many days a week you exercise and how often you do the laundry. Three is a good number for me, but you may need more or less. I like to have a couple of tank style tops, and a short sleeved tee. Because I have a very large bust, I need to avoid tanks with built in bras (they never fit!), and look for tanks with wide straps that will hide my bra straps. I particularly like the teal one from Old Navy - the shelf bra (rather than built in) and compression fabric add some support, while the blousy mesh bottom skims over your tummy. A tee is great when you feel like a little bit more coverage, or for cooler weather.

Outer wear are the pieces that help you take your workout clothes from the gym to the street. For cooler weather, I like wearing a sweatshirt that doesn't look like a sweatshirt - this one above is very similar to the cocoon style one that I have. It just adds a stylish touch to basic workout clothes, and means that if I stop for a coffee or am wearing these on the school run, I don't feel like a total schlub. Similarly, in warmer weather, I throw on a sleeveless jacket - its adds a little bit more coverage, and just makes me feel a touch more polished.

Shoes and bags are the final pieces to the capsule puzzle. I have this exact bag from Marc by Marc Jacobs - it was a total splurge, especially for a workout wardrobe, but I love it, and use it a lot of other times as well. It is nice and roomy, but casual enough to suit exercise clothes. There is nothing worse than seeing someone in workout clothes carrying a nice leather purse - it just looks wrong! Finally, shoes - here is one area where comfort and fit should definitely take precedence over style, but if you can find a pair with both, even better. I like black sneakers, since they go with my mostly black clothes, but go for what fits and what suits your main form of exercise. I highly recommend going to a specialist sports store to be fitted - I prefer going to a store that carries a range of brands since they all fit so differently. Reebok and Asics seem to fit me best and offer me the right amount of support for my flat arches, and I've never had any luck with Nike (which is a shame, because I am in love with the shoes above!), whereas Nike seem to be the best shoes for DH.

So there are my recommendations for a capsule exercise wardrobe, but where should you start looking? Here are my suggestions:

Old Navy - their regular range goes to XXL, their plus sized line (often the same items) goes to 3XL, and they ship worldwide.

Just My Size - a plus size specialist, their active wear goes up to 4XL, and chlorine resistant swimwear up to 24. (US shipping only)

Lane Bryant - another plus size specialist, they go up to 28, and include a range from Reebok. Ships worldwide.

Taking Shape/Virtu - this Australian plus retailer has a wonderful range of activewear, often in bright and cheerful colours. Ships to Australia and NZ.

Female for Life - another Australian retailer, with activewear recommended by body type and up to size 24. Also includes plus sized maternity active wear. Ships worldwide.

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

House Tour: Irini's Bedroom


Irini's room has been a work in process for quite a while, and I am happy to say I think I am finally finished with it (for now, anyway!!). While it is still a room for a young pre-schooler, I wanted a room that was still classic and elegant, and not full of Dora! Similarly, while there are many touches that are skewed at younger set, these are all easily (and inexpensively) changeable as Irini grows up. I like to pick a theme with the kids as a jumping off point to start the inspiration flowing. Irini gave me three ideas: pink, flowers and fairies, and this helped to pull the whole room together.  

This is the view as you look straight through Irini's door into her room. As you can see, I've kept her furniture white and feminine - while it suits the Flower Fairy theme now, it will suit so many other design ideas later.

The first major thing I picked for her room was the drapery fabric. The pelmet and tie back are in this gorgeous  Jacobean-style floral, and I chose it because the colours would go well with the Flower Fairy theme, but aren't juvenile at all. Plus, the shades of raspberry, rose, peach and sage green are just so lovely! The curtains themselves are just decorative (since there is a plain cream roller blind underneath) and are done in a sheer linen-type fabric. The trick I use is to pull two or three colours from the main fabric and use them elsewhere in the room, to bring it all together. To add depth, you can go slightly lighter or darker rather than trying for an an exact match. You can't tell from this pic, but the back wall of the armoire is painted a slightly darker green, the sheet set is a deeper version of the peach shade, and the lanterns above the reading nook (see further down this post for a picture) are various shades of rose and raspberry.

For the longest time, I just had the plain white quilt on the bed, paired with the peach stripe sheet set, but then just the other day I was walking through Myer, and right there, (the last one, on sale!) was a duvet cover set in the exact same pattern - it was so obviously meant to be so I snapped it up. Next to Irini's bed is her chest of drawers and her armoire which is mostly used to store her collection of baby soft toys, favourite books from my childhood I have put aside for her, and her spare bedding. The sign with her name on it has been there since she was a baby!

Along the cornice on this wall is my one real concession to the Flower Fairy theme; I have hung a number of collectible plates each depicting different fairies from Cecily Mary Barker's Flower Fairies illustrations. I used to love her books, and I love sharing them with Irini now. These plates are so beautiful, and even after Irini grows out of them decorating her room, I hope to keep them so she can share them with her daughter.

On her chest of drawers is an ever growing collection of "pretty" things. Irini has started to collect snowglobes, and the fairy one is her absolute favourite so it gets pride of place! The lamp was bought at a craft fair, the colours go beautifully with the fabrics in her room, and the Victorian styling just speaks to me - if she didn't love it so much I'm sure I would steal it for myself!

The prints above her chest are from Etsy seller PeriwinkleSky, and are some of the most adorable things I've ever seen. There is so much detail in each one - she has so many to choose from I struggled to narrow it down to just three, so I ended up picking ones that were night themed - is there anything sweeter than a napping fairy?

This little corner has been set up as a reading nook and a place to pinup her favourite bits of arts and crafts. The paper latterns are decorations from her last two birthday parties, and are simply hung from the ceiling using 3M hooks and fishing wire. Eventually I hope to re-cover the chair in the same fabric as the rest of the room, but that is a project for another day.

And so there is Irini's room - I hope you enjoyed seeing at as much as I enjoyed putting it together!

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Ten Stylish Essentials

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There is something just so nice about a top ten list, and after my experiment with the 10 item wardrobe (still going well!), I thought I would share with you what I consider my ten stylish essentials.
  1. A Statement Red Lipstick

    A strong red lip is the perfect accessory to almost any outfit, and the trick is to find the perfect shade for you. I like a true red, one that is not too blue or too orange, and this will usually suit everyone, but try out a lot of different ones to find your best shade of red. I'm currently using Rouge Dior 999, a classic red based on one of Dior's original red lipsticks.
  2. A Perfect Pair of Ballet Flats

    As a busy mum, you just can't go past a perfect pair of ballet flats, and I live in my (ever growing) collection. You can find these in all sorts of colours and at all price points, but this is one item where I do suggest investing a little bit more. Patent nude is super versatile and adds a touch of glam to an everyday outfit; a pointed black pair is very elegant and reminds me of Audrey Hepburn.
  3. A Great Tote

    A great tote is a necessity for any mum - a clutch just won't cut it for your day-to-day running around. Black is a classic choice, but surprisingly it is often not the most versatile colour. Unless a lot of your wardrobe is based around black, you may find a rich cognac, luggage tan or even a deep grey a better choice. Look for one that is roomy, but not too heavy when it is empty (otherwise imagine what it will feel like when full!), and go for the best that you can afford. Better to buy a quality canvas bag that is the same price as a bag made of cheap leather.
  4. A Classic Blazer

    If you have read Chic Mummy for a while, then you know I love my blazers!! A well-cut, well fitting blazer can transform almost any outfit from plain to pulled together in an instant. Lots of lists recommend black, and indeed, that is a classic, but navy and charcoal are just as versatile. I promise you, once you invest in one, you will find it hard to stop adding to your collection! Start with a darker colour in seasonless wool to carry you through autumn, winter and spring, and then think about adding a linen version in navy or natural to take you over summer.
  5. A Frenchy Stripe Top

    I love my stripy tops, and they seem to add a touch of French je ne sais quoi whenever I wear one. Whether its a classic breton sweater or a black and white stripe tee, you really can't go wrong with these pieces of monochrome magic. Pair it with your classic blazer, perfect ballets, jeans and a red lip, and you have one of the all-time stylish outfits!
  6. A Fantastic Pair of Jeans

    Fit. Fit. Fit. That is the only three words you really need to know. Find the fit and the cut that suit you the best (slim cut is my favourite), and chances are they will look stylish regardless of the price tag. A dark rinse free of distressing and embellishments can take you almost anywhere.
  7. A Fitted Pencil Skirt

    There is something incredibly sexy about a fitted pencil skirt, and in my experience, they suit just about every body type. Depending on your lifestyle, you might want the classic black, but I love a denim pencil - a great way to add a touch of sexiness to a casual outfit without looking over the top.
  8. A Bright White Tee

    The key here is that it is bright. There is nothing worse than a dingy, yellowy tee. Make sure it fits perfectly (I like it to just skim the figure), and a not too high, not too low scoop is just right. To a certain point, you get what you pay for with a white tee, BUT, these do need to be replaced more often than the rest of the items on my list, so you don't want to pay too much. My white tees are from J Crew or Lands End, and they strike the right balance between price and quality for me, but if Bassike made my size, they would be my pick - they feel so good!
  9. A Flick of Eyeliner

    Whether it is a swipe of pencil or a flirty liquid cat-eye, a flick of eyeliner is the final finishing touch for a polished look. I can honestly say that I am pretty much never without at least a touch of eyeliner. Black is great for evening, but I prefer a dark brown for everyday.
  10. A Signature Scent

    There are thousands of new fragrances released every year, so it is easy to end up with a large collection of different ones, but I love the idea of a signature scent that you wear almost everyday. If you can't bear the thought of living with just one, then consider a perfume wardrobe, an edited collection of fragrances that you wear for different occasions and outfits. Perfume leaves an immediate impression, and often leaves a lingering memory, so go for a good one!

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