So long 2016, hello 2017. As a way of reviewing the year, clothes aren’t a bad way to start and I’ve found you can draw a few life lessons from your wardrobe too.
Starting the year right with stripes, brogues and culottes. Warning: you might see a pattern forming.
Proof that I’ll try any garment once, even a boiler suit. Still not sure about this one!
I love this tweedy jacket and have worn it relentlessly this year. Also got on board with the bucket bag thing.
This beautiful camel coat was and still is a favourite. This is why I have a massive coat collection.
Still loving those red shoes apparently. Had also forgotten how much I love a pair of dungas.
More culottes and another bucket bag! Sorry mum, I know I look scruffy with my shirt hanging out.
Breton stripes and the bargain gold bag that turned out to be my favourite thing ever.
Enter the granny shoe; loved them so much I got them in grey too.
Wearing a cape and trying to be my own kind of superhero
Oh look, blue and white stripes and those shoes again. Nothing if not consistent.
The start of an ongoing love affair with pleated midi skirts.
An outfit from earlier this year but I thought I’d round things off with this one as I’m still wearing all these items even now.
So 2016…if I could sum it up sartorially for me (to do otherwise seems unthinkable right now), I’d say: pleated skirts, granny shoes and lots of culottes (with a predictable smattering of denim and stripes). I know it seems a little self-indulgent to review the year in outfits but quite frankly I can’t bear to recount all the other crappy stuff that’s happened on a global, political and cultural level and this is, after all, a fashion blog.
I prefer to dwell on some of the more positive highlights and when I look at a photo from a happy day or think of an outfit I wore on that occasion it reminds me of how I felt. Fashion has and always will be a way of saying this is me, this is who I am, or who I want to be today. Clothes give me confidence, they make things fun, they help me to communicate and yes they make me feel good, however shallow that may seem. Whether the day is good, bad or plain old ugly, clothes are not just functional, they are inspirational. I guess that’s why I’m still here, six years later, still writing and sharing my passion for fashion.
Long, long-standing readers of this blog will know how far my style has evolved over those years. I used to wear quite a bit of thrifted and vintage pieces and went through a big phase of bright colours and prints. I still love to see others wear such things but over the last couple of years I can see how my own personal style has slowly but surely changed.
Some might think me quite drab in comparison to my former multi-coloured self. I think I do still wear a lot of colour but it tends to be more in shades of blue, black, grey and brown with little splashes of green, red or pink thrown in. I still like prints but they tend to be stripes rather than florals now. These days I’d rather opt for an interesting knit or detail rather than a loud or clashing colour scheme. Not surprisingly, my taste in interiors has gone down the same route too.
Is it my age or stage or just the influence of trends? I don’t know. It’s hard to ignore the Scandi thing and there is a certain appeal in the calming serenity of minimalism, though I assure you I am still quite the hoarder/clutterbug! Maybe my tastes have matured since I turned 40 but that would suggest that colour and print is immature or silly and I don’t believe this either. As I said, I still revel in the fun of all that but when it’s on somebody else’s back and in someone else’s living room now.
For me, I think I’ve just finally nailed down what my own personal style is. It’s a little bit tom-boy and geeky still but perhaps a little calmer and simpler too. I love navy and will usually choose it over black (though I have a growing appreciation of monochrome too). I love denim (who doesn’t?) but I also like a variety of trousers that flatter my body shape – anything that accentuates my waist yet grazes over my thighs! I have an unapologetic love affair with knitwear. I’ll still experiment with trends as long as they tend to fit in with the above criteria. And I love flat shoes: trainers, brogues, loafers, ballet pumps. A low block heel is about as high as I go these days.
Figuring out what suits you and sticking to it (more or less) is one of those dressing lessons many people preach and yet it can be so hard to achieve. But it strikes me as more than just good fashion sense, it’s actually not a bad way to live your life in general. As I get older I still hope to experiment and discover new things (and even make mistakes – how else do you learn?) but I’d like to think I know what makes me happy and how to play to my strengths now.
As with my wardrobe, I try really hard to remain true to myself and not get too distracted by what everyone else is doing, both in the real and online worlds. The advent of social media and the constant sharing of every aspect of life makes that more important than ever. As someone who soaks ups influences and trends as part of my job, it is something I still struggle with. However there’s a big difference between observing and enjoying other people’s experiences and immediately jumping on the bandwagon because you feel your life is somehow lacking in comparison.
But then I’ve never been the earliest of adopters, either in life or fashion. It takes me a while to embrace a trend. As with the crazy, ever-changing world of fashion and retail, I think it’s good to watch and sit back for a bit and figure out if it’s right for you. Will it enhance your life, will it help or hinder? Will doing this / buying that make me feel good or ultimately bad? Will it be a waste of my time / energy / money?
As a fashion blogger, I also struggle with the idea that I’m continually urging people to buy stuff, that perhaps they don’t always need. I’ve always wanted this blog to be a useful space rather than just a vanity project. Yes I want to share my love of fashion but if I can I’d really like this blog to be helpful. Whether it’s finding the perfect pair of trousers that make you feel a bit better about your thighs, spotting a bargain that allows you to join in at your own price point or just having a momentary escape from reality and enjoying a ‘me too’ moment, I’d really like this blog to fulfil that for some or all of you.
Looking at the above selection of outfits feels like a bit of an achievement though I still have those ‘what was I thinking?’ moments and I’m quite sure my style won’t be to the taste of everyone (hey Mumsnet reader, don’t bother, I’ve heard it all before!). And of course I don’t always look like this on a daily basis. Many of these outfits were carefully thought out for special occasions or because I wanted to demonstrate something. And I don’t suggest they were perfect or ‘right’, they were just what I chose to wear right then. I regularly have days when I just roll out of bed and grab my jeans (or jogging bottoms) and the nearest top, so I can try to get the kids to school on time.
But one thing I have noticed is that I’ve regularly revisited quite a few of the same items in the outfits above; proof that I do have my favourites for a reason. It’s worth thinking about the pieces you return to again and again to figure out why you like them, how they make you feel and in what way they work for you (emotionally as well as practically). And it’s ok to have a few bloopers too. Just make sure you recycle or reuse in some way. I have regular wardrobe clear-outs and always donate to charity, friends or family. After all, a love of fashion is something you should always try to share with others!
Thanks to everyone who reads this blog and continues to support my little space on the internet.
Here’s to 2017!