Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Building an accessories wardrobe

In my last fashion post regarding updating my ten item wardrobe, a reader commented:

I love the looks, but that is so many accessories you've used. Isn't that a bit counter to the whole 10 item wardrobe concept?

If you look at the collage, I do own a version of all of the accessories that I featured (I can't always use the exact item on polyvore, so I use the closest approximation), but my accessories wardrobe is something that I have built up over a very long time. I don't think having a larger accessories collection, (when well curated and maintained) is counter to the 10 item wardrobe at all. While I have limited the clothes that I am wearing (and buying), don't think for a second that I am going out and spending willy-nilly on accessories. These are as carefully chosen, and then well looked after, as my clothing.

My accessories are a mix of a few investment items; a larger selection of mid-range, but quality, pieces; and a sprinkling of cheaper, of-the-moment, fun pieces. So how do I select what I buy? Let's start with the fun pieces.

Cheap, of-the-moment, fun pieces


Cheap and Cheerful Accessories


I love fashion, but I am not willing to sink serious money (or wardrobe space) to items that will be around only for a season or two. However, these fashion pieces are often what can take a classic wardrobe from basic to fashionable, without looking like a fashion victim. In this category, I am talking cheap and cheerful necklaces and bangles, perhaps a scarf in this season's colour (most likely how I will incorporate Radiant Orchid into my wardrobe), and sandals/summer heels. I simply cannot get summer sandals to last more than two summers - the combination of fabric rather then leather, heat and open toes just leave them looking grody by summer's end - so it makes sense to spend only a little money on them, but replace them more frequently.

Mid range but quality pieces


Mid Range but Quality


These items form the bulk of my accessories wardrobes, and include shoes and handbags, sunglasses, as well as some more classic pieces of jewellery, that I see myself keeping and using for many years. These items tend to be from so-called "bridge" brands such as Kate Spade, Tory Burch, J Crew, Coach, Oroton, etc that are more expensive than mass-market, but less expensive than true "designer" brands. I very rarely pay full price for these items; instead, I carefully stalk these brands, seeking out their oft-run sales. For these items, I tend to look for more classic lines and colours that will give me longevity. Yes, I have some pop colours such as the grass green and orange, but these are relatively classic colours that will look good season after season, and not look dated. Would I purchase a bag in Radiant Orchid (or Emerald last season)? No, because these do tend to look out of place.

I own each item in this collage (the blue Kate Spade bag I have is a deeper cobalt blue, though), but this has built up over close to 2 decades. For example, the Oroton black handbag is nearly 17 years old, the blue Kate Spade would be over 5 years old, as is the Coach striped bangle. The oxblood Boden shoes are a new purchase (on sale) but bought because while they will add a hit of current colour to this winter's wardrobe, the shape and the colour are both classic, and will still look good in 5 or even 10 years. The only bag that I would not consider a "true" classic is the Marc by Marc Jacobs tote, but it is also not what I would consider "trendy" either, so I am sure I will get many years of life out of it.

It is important to note, though, that all of these pieces are very well looked after. I keep the handbags and the shoes stuffed with tissue when in my closet, with the handbags in their dust bags, and the shoes in their boxes. Each season (or more often if needed) I will gently clean the bags and condition them with leather conditioner. This means the leather stays nice and supple, and will not dry out and crack. As for the shoes, before I even wear them, I will have rubber soles put on them, and these get replaced somewhere between seasonally and yearly depending on how much I wear the particular shoe. I am also very careful that as soon as the heel tip starts to get worn down, it gets replaced at the cobbler, well before I start to wear into the heel of the shoe itself.

Investment Pieces

Investment Pieces


Finally, lets talk investment pieces. My investment pieces tend to be designer brands and let's not beat around the bush, they were expensive purchases. I don't own many, and again, just like the mid-range pieces, I take very good care of them. Yes, they are more "boring" than the other two categories - no pop colours here - but the pieces are picked for the long haul. The blue Louis Vuitton was my first designer purchase, which I bought when I got my first marketing job in 2000, and it looks almost as good as new. The classic LV Monogram was bought around 2006/7, and actually gets better and better with age, as the lighter leather trim darkens and gains patina. I use these two the most - both look very elegant with navy and grey (which have been the base colours of my wardrobe for a very long time), and both of them suit outfits ranging from casual jeans and tees, right through to suits, and everything in between. The next LV is a beautiful bag in a very rich charcoal with a gorgeous metallic sheen, and probably dates to around the same year. It was a present from my parents, and I will often use it as a subtler, quieter version of a black handbag. My final designer bag is a Lambertson Truex in a rich and classic cognac. This colour is incredibly versatile, and I find that I use this bag all the time, all year round. It looks just as wonderful with summer whites as it does with tweedy woollens in the middle of winter. It also looks surprisingly good with an all black outfit. I am not exactly sure when I bought this but it was before Stephen was born, so definitely pre 2006. A lot of thought went into each of these bags before they were bought. The shapes are all very classic and very simple, and therefore will look as good now, as they will in another 20 years. When investing serious money into accessories, you want to steer clear of anything too faddy - I loved the idea of the Graffiti LV bags when they came out around the time I bought my navy LV, but could I seriously see myself wearing it even a year later? If it is the "it" bag of the year, then you probably won't be wanting to wear it further down the track. Also stay clear of too many bells and whistles. Simple and clean lines will take you much further than overly embellished frippery. You will also notice that none of these bags are black. I do wear a fair bit of black, especially in winter, but I personally believe that you will find other colours, especially charcoal, brown or cognac, far more versatile.

If you have read my blog for any length of time, then you know I love me some shoes! The decisions behind the designer shoes I have bought are pretty much the same as for my bags. Again, stay clear of anything too "out there" - a simple almond or slightly pointed toe is unlikely to go out of fashion, but overly round, overly pointed or overly square certainly do cycle in and out. The black Ferragamos are a true classic, and have now been going strong since 2004. The lower heel made them practical to wear to work, but are still elegant enough for a cocktail dress. I even wear them with skinny jeans for a feminine look. The oxblood Tod's heeled loafers might not seem too classic at face value, but they really have stood the test of time. I've had then since around 2005, and they have been worn every autumn and winter since. The rich red goes with black, navy and brown, and the heeled loafer style combined with the patent finish goes with so many different outfits. The final pair of shoes are not the exact pair of Giorgio Armani's that I have - mine are a darker brown, and not patent, but have an embossed croc pattern on them -  but you get the idea. These are from 2007, and make almost any outfit look incredibly elegant. They are also supremely comfortable for such a high heel, and the colour is perfection.

Just like my mid range shoes, these are all soled with rubber as soon as they are purchased, and resoled and re-tipped when necessary. These are also stored in their original boxes, but are in individual dust bags inside the box so they can't scratch each other. And yes, each of them cost over $500, but when you consider that they are between 7 and 10 years old and still have many more years to go, then the cost does not seem so prohibitive or outlandish. Compare that with a $50 pair of shoes that is lucky to last the season, and it makes sense to put money aside and then invest in a more expensive but also better made pair of shoes.

So there you have my long, rambling answer to a short question, but hopefully you can take away my philosophy on building up an accessories wardrobe, and why I think it is a vital part of my 10 item wardrobe.


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Monday, January 27, 2014

Toys to help me on my way and a giveaway!!

I am the first to admit that I like gadgets and gimmicks, and I often find that these types of things help me to stay motivated on my various goals. Maybe I just haven't grown up, and still need some sort of toys in my life!! I thought today I would share with you some of the things that I am using on my journey to a new year, improved me.

Thermomix



This kitchen gadget has become indispensable to me, and I use it on a daily basis! What I love about my Thermomix is that it is so much more than just a blender. I use it to make snacks for the kids, to get dinner on the table, it makes the yummiest all-fruit sorbets, and the best mashed potato and risotto that you will ever try. For busy mums, the best thing is being able to put together a meal in 5 minutes or less, then let it sit and do its thing while you get on with helping the kids with their homework, etc. It is a serious investment (clocking in at just under $2000), but I can honestly say that I more than got my money back in savings after about a year.

Fitbit Flex



There are a lot of fitness trackers in the market, at various price points, and I ended up choosing the Flex for a combination of form and function. I liked that it was simple - it measures steps (in actual steps, unlike the Nike fuelband), distance and calories burned, activity levels and your sleep patterns,  which is just what I need. I also looks nice (it's not too bulky) and comes in great colours (I have the teal band above). It is also waterproof, so I can wear it swimming or at aqua aerobics, and because I wear it right next to my watch (unlike, say, a standard pedometer), I find that I check my progress quite frequently, and then that usually inspires me to get a bit more activity if it doesn't look like I am close to my goal of 10000 steps a day. Fitbit has a really nice web based dashboard, and syncs with my iPhone throughout the day. It also syncs nicely with My Fitness Pal, which I am using as my calorie counter app. I already had the Fitbit scale, so it was a bonus to keep it all in the family!

Fitbit Aria scale



I wanted a new scale, it was on sale, and I love it! It looks really nice and sleek with its glossy glass surface, and the fact that it syncs via wifi with my computer, keeping track of my weight loss for me, is wonderful when you are seriously trying to lose weight and are the type of person who responds well to graphs. What can I say, I am such a visual person! The Aria scale measures weight, body fat % and BMI (you need to enter your stats when you set it up) and it can recognise up to 8 different people. (Hubby and I are very different weights - I am not sure how this would work if you were It also syncs with my Fitbit app and My Fitness Pal automatically. I did get a shock when I first started using it as it weighs me almost a full kilo heavier than my previous one!

My Fitness Pal



This is an all-round health and fitness tracker, (and even better it is completely free!) that can be used to track food intake, exercise, and count calories. The reason I love this app is the accountability it gives me. Documenting everything I eat keeps me on track and so far has saved me from any major blowouts. It also syncs seamlessly with my Fitbit products and it lists dozens of other apps and fitness trackers that it works with as well if you use something other than the Fitbit.

Home Routines



Home Routines is based on the zone cleaning system, a la Flylady, which I really like. I just get a real sense of achievement when a room is completely and utterly clean and sparkling. It is fully customizable, so you can set up how many zones you want, what is in each zone, and when they reset. You can choose to have a zone a day, or do what I do and have a zone a week. It also allows you to have morning, afternoon, and evening routines, (I have found having a solid morning and evening routine indispensable so far this year) and the app will send a reminder to your phone if that is what you want. Again, if you are a visual or result orientated type personality, you will love this app, as the opening screen shows you what you have achieved over the course of the day.

Motivated Moms



This comes either as an app or a PDF print out version. Working in the basis of doing a little something every day, tasks are spread out over the week and the year. I use the app version since I always have my phone with me and I love checking things off on a list! It also includes daily tasks and a biblical reading which can be switched on or off based on your preference. What I find the most useful about this system is that it includes random things that I would always forget to do, like cleaning the air con filters or watering the indoor plants. While both the Home Routines and the Motivated Moms apps are totally self contained and you really only need one or the other, I have to admit that I like using both! I prefer Home Routines for my day-to-day cleaning (and this may simply be because I started using this first, and it is so similar to FlyLady's set-up), and rely on Motivated Moms for keeping on top of all the deeper cleaning tasks.


Now to the giveaway! I have a copy of the PDF print out version of Motivated Moms to giveaway. Maybe you need to start a homekeeping routine from scratch, of maybe it just needs some finesse, but either way, I think you will find it useful! All you need to do is leave a comment with your best housekeeping tip! I will draw a random entry on Monday 3 February.


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Monday, January 20, 2014

Sunday Check-in



Hi everyone! back again for another check-in! As I thought, last week's weightloss was obviously due to the gastro, and literally by the Wednesday, I had gone back up over a kg. However, I carried on being strict with my eating, adding in some extra carbs since I needed to recover, and I ended the week with a modest gain. However, if you look over the last two week period, I still lost 1.9kg over two weeks, which I am very happy with.

Exercise pretty much disappeared for the week - I managed 1 day achieving my goal of over 10000 steps, with another very close at 9000 towards the end of the week, but with having been so sick, I really think my body just needed the break!

Did I find time for myself through all of this? Not really. I read a couple of books but mostly I spent the early part of the week vegging on the couch watching reruns of CSI and Law and Order. Not particularly productive, but probably exactly what I needed...

Well, overall, I was happy with the week - to be perfectly honest, I am just happy to be feeling better! And now it's back to some normality - see you all next week.



Week ending 19/01/2014

Today's weight: 95.9 kg 
Last week's weight: 95.6kg
Starting weight: 99.8 kg
This week's loss: 0.3 kg gain
Weight Loss to date: 3.9 kg
Exercise: 2

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image courtesy of Stock Images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Friday, January 17, 2014

1 Shirt from Summer to Autumn - updating my 10 item wardrobe

We are now over half way through summer, and my 10 item wardrobe (OK, actually 17!) has been coming along swimmingly! It has truly made life so much easier - no more looking at a closet of clothes and thinking "I have nothing to wear" since all of the pieces fit, AND go with each other. However, I felt that I still needed one more piece that could take me from casual through to "not quite dressy". The dress I had ordered from Boden (see my post here) did not work out, but then I found a Liberty print sleeveless shirt from Sportscraft that was just perfect. The shirt was just the piece to fill the gap, and the fact that it was heavily reduced (and the last one!) was just a bonus. I love Liberty, I love nautical, and this combines both so what could be better! The all-over print is of a sailing boat in the ocean, in shades of blue on a white background. So, so perfect for my wardrobe.


The first four outfits are ways I have already worn this shirt, ranging from ladylike and retro with the skirt and heels; nautical inspired with the knot earrings, bucket tote and sea charm bracelet; casual with jeans and sandals; and chic with tone-on-tone accessories and wide leg linen pants. What I am really aiming for, however, when adding to my 10 item wardrobe, is not just versatility for the current season, but items that will take me through a good chunk of the year. And so, the last four outfits show ways I can take the first four outfits and transition them through the cooler days of autumn. The base outfit in each case is exactly the same. I've simply added a layering piece, and then switched up the accessories. For example, adding a vibrant tangerine cardigan, switching to peep-toe heels rather than sandals, and subbing the navy leather bag for the summery straw one totally takes the ladylike look from summer to autumn. I can even see this look going through to winter by adding tights and tan knee high boots.

The key is having a carefully curated collection of accessories. I like to have some items that scream a season; for example, sandals for summer and knee high boots for winter, or the straw bag for summer and a dark leather tote for winter. But I also like to have the bulk of my money spent on items that can be worn throughout the year. For example, the LV monogram tote was a big investment, but it can be worn summer, winter, rain or shine. Similarly, simple (but quality) ballet flats in navy, black or cognac can also be worn all year round.

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PS: the clothing items I've used in the polyvore collages are often not my exact items. Where I can I use my items, but if you ever see things like $400 pairs of jeans, this is just because they looked the closest to what I own!!

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Sunday Check - in

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How are your goals going? Mine are still ticking along nicely - I have been very strict on the food front, and as a family we have tried to increase our exercise together. We went for an hour long walk (scooter ride for the kids) along the beach, and walked (rode their bikes) to my MILs house and back (just over an hour), as well as half an hour playing in the park together. It has been great on so many levels - great for us to be exercising, great for the kids to be exercising, and great for them to see exercise as a normal part of family life.

I am not completely sure this week's loss is a true one, since I have been suffering from terrible gastro the last 48 hours - who needs a new year's juice fast, hey, when gastro will clean you out just as well!! Regardless, I have been working hard at my goals and I am happy with that, even if next week the number on the scale is not as good.

I've still been carrying on with the knitting, and made a set of fingerless gloves for Irini (they are her favourites!), so she is now set for winter, and I have just started on a scarf for myself. I have to say, making things for Irini really appeals to my sense of instant gratification. Making the scarf for myself is going to be a much longer process!



Week ending 12/01/2014

Today's weight: 95.6 kg 
Last week's weight: 97.0kg
Starting weight: 99.8 kg
This week's loss: 1.4 kg
Weight Loss to date: 4.2 kg
Exercise: 3 x 30 minute walks

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image courtesy of Stock Images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Monday, January 6, 2014

Sunday Check-In

 


So one week into the new year, and I am very happy with my progress on all fronts. Regarding organization, we haven't need to eat out at all this week, since I loosely planned all our meals, and I started a housekeeping plan using a combination of the Motivated Moms and Home Routine apps, both of which work on the idea of doing a little bit every day (stay tuned for a giveaway later this week!) I have also managed to start spring cleaning the house, with the aim of finishing the whole house by the time school goes back in February. So far, I've packed away all the Christmas decorations, and finished cleaning and organising the entry way, the garage, the storage closet and our formal Iiving room. I am now working on the dining room (a big job, as it has somehow become our general junk collecting area!) and then onto the kitchen.

I have also managed to carve out some time for me, and each day I have spent between 15 and 20 minutes doing my new hobby, loom knitting. I never really managed to get the hang of normal knitting, but loom knitting is working out really well - for some reason I find it much easier, and in just over a week I've finished a hat and a neck warmer for Irini. I also just finished reading Forever Chic by Tish Jett, and have just started French Women Don't Need Facelifts by Mireille Guiliano. Once I have finished the second book, I will post my thoughts on both.

As for health, the increased organisation has made a real difference, since we are not resorting to take out or dinners out, and I am keeping dinner very simple - plenty of salad with homemade dressings to keep them interesting with a simple protein on the side. I get hubby to pick up the veggies from work daily, and I am shopping for the meat every couple of days. While I haven't made it to any exercise classes this week (Christmas and New Years have messed with the timetables) I have made it for a 30-40 minute walk while the kids go for a bike or scooter ride around the park.

Week ending 5/01/2014

Today's weight: 97.0 kg
New Years Day weight: 98.2kg
Starting weight: 99.8 kg

This week's loss: 1.2 kg
Weight Loss to date: 2.8 kg

Exercise: 3x 30 minute walks

 

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image courtesy of Stock Images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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