Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Creating your wardrobe: step by step

Before you even think about creating your new wardrobe you should decide on your best neutral and accent colours and whether you look better in cool or warm shades.  This isn't necessarily straightforward. When I've posted photos of myself in both warm and cool shades on this blog, readers haven't always agreed on which colours flatter me the most! Maybe I'm a borderline case, but for the moment I'm going to stick to the Jewel Winter colours that I've been wearing since my colour analysis last year. Luckily I already had several items in my existing wardrobe such as the blue top below.

The next question you should be considering is what shapes and styles suit you best.  As an example, I am short (5' and a bit) and rectangle-shaped (i.e. no real waist) so I know that beautiful floaty long skirts and figure-hugging curvy tops aren't my best looks, even though they can look stunning on other women. Trousers usually suit me and I like jackets and tops that gently curve giving the illusion that I have a waist, so you will find these in my wardrobe.

Finally, what is your style personality? I have written several posts looking at this subject from different perspectives and recently started a series of "Creating from scratch" using Feng Shui Fashion.

Within Feng Shui, there are five different Feng Shui Fashion types:  the creative Philosophers (Water); the sporty Pioneer (Wood element); the dramatic Pleasure Seekers (Fire); classic, traditional Peacemakers (Earth types) and finally the elegant Perfectionists, whose element is Metal. You may want to read my first post on the 5 Feng Shui types if you haven't already done so.

Another post that you might like to reference is my guide to your DIY Personal Style Analysis written after several people commented that they would love to have a personal style analysis but there wasn't anybody in their area. Style icons for gamines include Audrey Hepburn and Audrey Tatou or maybe you're a dramatic like Joan Collins and Iris Apfel. If you're not so flamboyant, you could have a classic style personality similar to Michelle Obama and Gwyneth Paltrow or perhaps you are a natural like Cameron Diaz or Jennifer Aniston. If you're small but delicate and feminine rather than boyish, you are probably an ingénue like Goldie Hawn and Charlene Tinton. Finally we have the romantics, with Sophia Loren and Catherine Zeta Jones being their celebrity style icons.

This outfit illustrates my personal style, which is natural gamine. Don't worry if you feel that none of the above categories fits you though - just create your own personal style and call it whatever you want.

Now that you have decided on your best colours, shapes and styles you can start thinking about creating a wardrobe that will be perfect for you. I have shown several examples of capsule wardrobes - and maybe one of them resonated with you - but at the end of the day you are looking for clothes that suit you, that are appropriate for your lifestyle and above all that you love.

In my next post, I will show you how to gradually build up your capsule wardrobe. In the meantime, I suggest that you pull all your clothes and accessories out of your wardrobe and select those that fit the above criteria to form the basis of your wardrobe.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Project 333. Summer 33

I'm afraid I've been rather distracted recently, writing several posts about creating a wardrobe from scratch, plus a few more about Fashion Feng Shui, so this is a long overdue article about my Summer 33.

For anyone new to Project 333, the basic idea is to create a wardrobe of 33 items of clothing to cover the next three months. Strictly speaking your 33 items should include accessories, shoes and outer clothing as well as your basic items of clothing, however I still bend the rules and exclude all my scarves, jewellery, handbags and shoes, though as I gradually cut down on my clothes I may add in other categories.

I used Polyvore to create the picture above, so not all of these items are exactly the same as the ones in my wardrobe. The first jacket clearly is as it's an actual photo of my Mango jacket, but most of the other items are the closest I could find on the Polyvore website. The skirt, top and cardigan in the following picture are also identical to mine as I downloaded the photos from the Kettlewell website where I'd purchased them.

I probably won't wear the jackets until September, when I am planning to visit my family in London, as it is now very hot here in Spain. Even the navy cardigan shown in the top picture and the light grey cascade cardigan below are only being worn when we're out late at night and there's a bit of a breeze.

Most days I wear one of the five pairs of trousers that I have included, as they are ideal for summer: four pairs are linen and the other pair is made of cotton. With a dozen lightweight tops, most of which can be worn with any of the bottoms, I can ring the changes over the next three months and not become bored with my choices. The skirts and dress are mainly worn for dressier occasions such as lunch out with friends or meetings in the town hall (don't ask!). As a Natural Gamine, my personal style is very casual.

After I created my summer 33, I realised that my main accent colours were pink and blue, with a couple of red tops and one green one. My neutrals are mainly navy and grey, with one black top and pair of trousers, a black and white striped top, white cropped trousers and a stone linen pair that is lighter than the pair shown.

You may have spotted that I have only shown 27 items of clothing. I also have a pair of smart navy trousers and two dresses in the wardrobe for evenings out, though they aren't pictured here. As this is a total of just 30, it allows me to include the three shoulder bags that I have been using on a regular basis in my summer 33, so I am gradually improving. Aren't you impressed?!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Creating from scratch - The Peacemaker

Although this post is about creating a basic wardrobe from scratch for the Peacemakers (Earth types in Feng Shui Fashion), the guidelines are the same for all of us.  Start with a few key pieces in your best neutrals and make sure that your tops will go with most of your skirts and trousers to create a truly versatile wardrobe. You can add some contrast with your accessories if you wish, though they should also go well with your outfits.

In my original post describing the Peacemaker, I chose several garments on Polyvore  in the golden and brown shades that look so good on Earth types.  If you click on the link above it will take you to the Polyvore site where I created the set and where you will find details of all the items.

I have created the following set as a guide to creating a wardrobe from scratch for Peacemakers. You may already have similar pieces in your existing wardrobe in which case you can include them, ensuring that any new purchases go well with them. Click on this link to Polyvore for more information on the individual items.

I decided to include a dress this time as a change, however if you don't like dresses you can replace it with another skirt or pair of trousers.  This capsule will give you enough combinations to wear a different outfit every day of the month, which is the main advantage of creating a capsule wardrobe. Choosing the right colours and the right shapes are an essential part of the process. Peacemakers are usually apple shaped and look their best in boxy shapes, with textured fabrics and classic styles. They should avoid overly long skirts and narrow silhouettes and look better with shorter skirts and softly tailored trousers. Monochrome outfits are good for Earth types in varying shades of brown and gold to match their colouring.

I have thrown in a pale green scarf to break the monotony in case you don't want to stick to various shades of brown, though I suspect that most Earth types would be happy without it.  If you work in a formal office environment you may be worried that you won't be taken seriously unless you wear black, however dark brown can look just as professional and you will have the added confidence that what you are wearing is more flattering and reflects your style personality.

You might want to take another look at my original post on Peacemakers: Fashion Feng Shui: the Peacemaker for more ideas. Finally, I would love all you Peacemakers out there to leave your comments or questions on this post.  Please don't worry about being critical - I promise that I won't be offended!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Creating from scratch - The Pioneer

I am continuing with the idea of creating a capsule wardrobe from scratch, as inspired by The Vivienne Files, but combining this with your Fashion Feng Shui type to build a wardrobe that is consistent with your personal style. I now turn to The Pioneer or Wood type in Fashion Feng Shui. The Pioneer enjoys sporty, comfortable clothes, with the emphasis on blues, greens and florals.

If like me you have retired, you shouldn't have any problems with this wardrobe, however if you work in a formal workplace you may need to adapt the wardrobe to suit your work environment, although obviously it will be ideal for your leisure time!

If you click on the link above to The Vivienne Files, you will see that the first item that Janice selected was a pair of trousers, which definitely suits Pioneers, and I've included three pairs in this capsule. I have similar pairs in my own wardrobe and no doubt you have too. I must admit that I tend to buy striped tops rather than florals, partly because of my fear of appearing like a little old lady, though I do have several floral scarves. (Hopefully my children won't read this post and comment: "But you are a little old lady!")

Pioneers usually have cool colouring, often with blue or green eyes, and a rectangular shaped body. They enjoy casual or sporty clothing, with details such as zips and hoods plus sporty accessories. Pioneers look their best in slim trousers and jeans, with vertical lines and little waist definition.

Even if you're not a Pioneer, you may wish to include some Wood elements such as a floral scarf, a blue top or green accessories when you want to be more competitive or you need to take action to achieve something.

For more information about Pioneers, go to my original post: Fashion Feng Shui: The Pioneer

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Creating from scratch - The Philosopher

Having introduced you to the concept of building a capsule wardrobe from scratch, hopefully incorporating some existing pieces, I thought it might be fun to extend this to a Feng Shui wardrobe. After all, the idea of having a capsule wardrobe is to include clothes that suit you, that you love wearing and that also capture the essence of you. This is what Fashion Feng Shui is all about.

I decided to start with The Philosopher, which is the Water element, and so (not surprisingly) flowing, asymmetrical dark clothes form the basis of this wardrobe.

The Philosopher likes creative touches so, if this resonates with you, you should add accessories that express your individuality. A word of warning if, like me, you are short and not exactly slim: if you are wearing wide legged trousers or a flowing skirt, combining it with a baggy top isn't the most flattering look! Either include a slightly fitted top or add some straight leg trousers or perhaps a slim asymmetrical skirt to wear with more flowing tops. If you are tall and slender of course you can ignore these limitations!

Physically, Philosophers tend to have very dark hair, skin or eyes and are pear-shaped, so you might want to wear lighter colours on your top half to balance things out.  If you're not a Philosopher but wish to enhance your creativity, you can use some of Water's dark colours, artistic or unique accessories, or maybe an asymmetric top to do so.

Click on the link to look at my previous post if you want more ideas about creating a Philosopher's wardrobe: Fashion Feng Shui - the Philosopher

Friday, 11 July 2014

Creating from scratch - Autumn/Winter wardrobe

Yes, I know it's only just July and it's the middle of summer for those of us in the northern hemisphere, but I wanted to show you the other colour combination that I chose from "The Vivienne Files" series: Starting from Scratch. I have designated this as my Autumn and Winter colour scheme because it includes black as well as dark grey, although admittedly I do have a couple of black tops and a pair of black linen trousers hanging up in my summer wardrobe as we speak.

The neutrals for my Autumn and Winter wardrobe are black and grey, with accent colours of red and blue plus a touch of white.  I used grey in my Spring and Summer wardrobe too so that will add to the versatility of this wardrobe as some of those pieces will be suitable for warmer autumn days as well as being useful for layering. The advantage of using neutrals throughout the year is that my accent colours will go with all my neutrals though not necessarily with each other.  Here's my proposed wardrobe for Autumn and Winter:

My lifestyle is casual, so I'm sticking with a pair of jeans plus some heavier trousers, to be worn with Converse trainers and boots. I have included a wool scarf and jackets rather than lightweight cardigans and as you can see the tops all have long sleeves and two of them are cashmere. As with the Spring and Summer wardrobe, you can create multiple outfits from this basic collection, and I already have similar items in my current wardrobe so I can gradually add pieces to my capsule.

If you were starting a wardrobe from scratch, would you include several pairs of trousers like me, or would your preference be for skirts and dresses?

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Creating from scratch - Spring/Summer wardrobe

I'm a great fan of Janice from The Vivienne Files, who has provided me with a lot of inspiration for my own blog. Through her good influence, my wardrobe has gradually evolved from a rainbow of colours and a myriad of pieces that didn't go with each other to a more coordinated though still colourful collection of clothes.

Her latest series "Starting from Scratch" is based on the idea of creating a new wardrobe from scratch, the first step being to identify a flattering colour scheme. She advises us to choose our best neutrals, with a couple of accent colours.

These were my two favourite colour schemes out of the six Janice selected and I had great difficulty choosing between them!

Then I had a flash of inspiration: why did I have to choose just one of them? I need at least two separate wardrobes to cover me for the four seasons, so why didn't I select one colour scheme for Spring and Summer and another one for Autumn and Winter?  These were the colour schemes that Janice suggested, but I have already made some changes, apart from having two schemes instead of one: I like to break the rules!

My Spring and Summer neutrals will be navy, grey and white but I will use a brighter pink and purple than Janice did for the accent colours.  Without further ado, this is my version of a Spring and Summer basic wardrobe:

I've started with trousers including a pair of jeans, though jeans are generally too hot for Spanish summers and my preference in summer is for loose linen trousers.  However I packed jeans for my recent trip to London, and the grey pair shown would be fine for cooler Spring days over here in Spain.

The tops that I've shown all cover the shoulders as - sadly - I think that strappy tops are no longer a good look on me! Maybe I should start using weights?  I generally avoid baggy tops, which aren't flattering for petite women, but usually buy light cotton tops that don't cling. Two lightweight open cardigans are perfect for spring days and summer nights, with a couple of floaty scarves.  I love necklaces, but as I've shown scarves in this set I have added a silver watch and a bracelet instead. Finally, a pair of navy ballet pumps, navy cross-body bag and grey loafers to complete the basic wardrobe.

With four tops and three bottoms, clearly you have at least twelve different outfits here (did I tell you that I passed my O level Maths?) Using the two cardigans this increases to thirty six options, though you can ring the changes with the accessories to give you even more possible looks.

I already own many similar items, so this isn't my excuse for a spending spree, but when I need to replace anything I will try and stick to this template.  How about you? If you're looking for further inspiration, I suggest that you click on the link above and see which of the colour palettes is your favourite.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

July Hat Attack - yes really!

I've never done this before, and I'm highly unlikely to do so again as I'm not a hat person, but I've decided to join the Hat Attack for July. It was because I included a photo of myself wearing a hat in my travel report and some of you were kind enough to make flattering comments that I decided to join the Hat Attack for the first (and probably last) time.

What is this "Hat Attack"? Is it dangerous?!  A blogger called The Style Crone (if you haven't come across her before, do click on the link) hosts a monthly Hat Attack on her blog, where she encourages other bloggers to post photos of themselves wearing a hat and then link to her blog. I have to say that the Style Crone looks amazing and is clearly a hat person, which does inspire me to look for more hats in the vague hope of looking equally amazing myself. I think one of the many differences between us is that Judith wears hats because she loves them and it's part of her style, whereas I only wear them out of necessity: a woolly hat to keep me warm on winter walks and the hat shown below to protect me from the hot summer sun.

Me and Gaudi in León
In my defence, I'm not a serious fashion blogger. I enjoy reading and writing about fashion, however I write from the personal perspective of a "woman of a certain age", hoping to inspire you to find your own style and enjoy what you're wearing regardless of your age.  This photo is a holiday photo, not a fashion shoot - and I would be worried if any of you thought "I must rush out and buy an outfit like Sue's!" What I would hope is that you think "Perhaps I will try a hat on next time I go shopping" or maybe "Sue's over 60 and wearing a bright pink top, maybe I should buy a brighter coloured top for my summer holiday."

Points to bear in mind when choosing a hat if you're a petite like me: check your outfit in a full length mirror to make sure that it doesn't overwhelm you and remember that a higher crown will give you extra height!

Don't forget to click on the blue link above to look at all the gorgeous ladies wearing their hats. As a bonus, you will receive a 15% discount up to 7th July from the lovely Citizen Rosebud, who also looks amazing in her hats.