WIW: New Boots and Panties!!

I broke my pledge to dress from the bench to put a couple of new additions through their paces and I couldn't resist a tribute to the late great Ian Dury. You've probably never heard of this Brit punk icon, a man so committed to thrifting that the only items he bought new were shoes and underwear, or so he claimed.

When you learn a foreign language, inevitably there are going to be one or two words that make you snigger. Here in the Netherlands, what I call tights and you probably know as hose have a name that always has me chortling like a prepubescent schoolboy.

Panty. Hence the title. 

Yeah, that's what I'm wearing today under my shorts, playing the young things at their own game in shear support tights by Dutch household brand Hema. At risk of sounding like a shill, this is the miracle product for walking all day and dancing all night. Something for the weekend, as Ian might say. ;)

But I digress. This was very nearly a K/R for the boots, but it was a no brainer so here they are on their maiden voyage instead. They are a shot in the arm for my winter style this year, exactly what I needed to get a few skirts off the bench and so much more besides. Not exactly premium but good enough quality at the price point and really very comfortable. I wasn't sure they'd work on the bike but it turns out they cuff nicely so no problems there. 

The coat is a workhorse from 2012, the sweater a traditional Guernsey fisherman's jumper I bought on summer holiday. It's gorgeous and I've been looking forward to wearing it but it's not quite the shoo-in I was hoping for. It may take a few outings to get the measure of it, so any suggestions would be appreciated.

And the Dutch word for brown sugar? That will never get old.


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Style Lab III: Data Mining

One of my ongoing objectives is compiling meaningful data about what's in my wardrobe. This is the tip of the iceberg. I may post a detailed analysis complete with graphs and charts on my personal blog sometime.

Numbers: ±250 items, not including accessories, underwear, lounge wear or sports gear. Around two thirds has been acquired in the last six years and half since 2013.

Shopping: Around a third of my wardrobe was bought on the high street. Main suppliers are Uniqlo, M&S and H&M, the latter for designer collaborations and subsidiaries Cos, Weekday, &other stories. Around a quarter is evenly split between vintage and self-made, 5% online purchases and up to 40% sourced from independents.

Basics: Around a quarter my wardrobe could be described as menswear classic and normcore. This seems like a solid foundation of basics.

Wear and Usage: ±70 items are what I’d call kingpins, and ±90 are in regular rotation, but up to 40% is not getting enough wear. I could probably get rid of half my closet tomorrow and still get dressed successfully.

I’m already making moves to fix this. I want to bring back a few of the better pieces, some of whom are excellent and should not be neglected. I also need to set some clear objectives for culling.

Problem areas are:

T-shirts: I buy too many concert shirts. Enough said.

Shoes: Is it so wrong to have 30+ pairs? I don’t know if I could ever have too many shoes, but I’m only wearing around half of them at the moment. Some are benched because they need repairs, others because I ditched the heels in favour of platforms. There are quite a few awkward children among them, see below.

Skirts and dresses: According to the numbers, I am very good at wearing pants and I suck at dresses and skirts. I need to address this in my day to day style. If all goes to plan, many of these will be brought back into service by a pair of OTK boots I ordered at the weekend.

Trophy pieces: There are a few items on the bench which I don’t think I want to get rid of, such as international textiles, rarities and pieces with sentimental value. Suz, I’m liking your suggestion for a dedicated history closet.

Eclectic items are the most frequently benched. I fully expect some of these to make a comeback in future, because past experience suggests that if I like something enough, I’ll find a way to wear it one of these days.

Awkward children: There are a number of things that I like but just don’t seem to work for some reason. It could be the colour, the style or the fit, or it doesn’t suit my current style. I need to be brutally honest with myself about these.

Worn out favourites: I’ll be honest, if something I love dearly is worn out, I have a lot of trouble getting rid of it for some reason. Some of these are waiting for repairs, others I need to phase out or replace.

My immediate plan is to bring some of the benched items back into my day to day style, and ask myself how I feel about them. If something isn’t working, what do I need to do to make it work? And how do I feel about all this variety? Is it fun and enriching, or guilt-inducing and tiring?


WIW: return of the max

I was going to save this for the next Style Lab thread, but I think it merits a post of its own. This is why I hold on to the good stuff, and why I sometimes feel I shouldn't.

I bought this velvet blazer over ten years ago when trophy jackets were all the rage and I practically bankrupted myself for it. The tailoring is beyond fabulous, the fabric delicious and it fits perfectly. I wore it a fair amount when I bought it, mainly out of shame because I'd spent so much on it, and then I benched it because some or other fashion editor said velvet was for old ladies.

Since then, I think I've worn it about twice a year, if that. I've always liked it but I never felt I did it justice or nailed the look I was going for. So basically it's been hanging about in the closet, making me feel guilty and waiting for the rest of the wardrobe to catch up. 

Then it magically came back into circulation last year when I discovered I could layer it underneath the kimono wrap coat. It's finally getting its dues now that a certain kind of military goth glam is back in style. I've been wearing it with loose fitting denim and it was out and about this weekend with a white tee, shiny black pants and lace-up boots. Styled here with Isabel Marant x H&M jeans and these gorgeous Santoni boots that don't get anything like enough wear.

How about you? What do you do with the things you love that kick around because you've no idea what to do with them? Is there anything you got rid of and later wished you hadn't?

(I'm also thinking these jeans are a good candidate for cropping and fraying. What do you guys think?)


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Style Lab II: Requirements

Thank you for all the positive feedback on my last Style Lab post. I’m not sure exactly where this is going, but I’m very glad you’re along for the ride. In this post, I’m looking at what I need from my wardrobe in practical terms so as to make it work better for me.

Requirements: Currently around 25% Professional, 25% Social, 50% Casual, with overlaps in between. Seasonal capsules should be proportionate with their duration in the cycle. Small travel capsules are required for away trips.

Professional: Creative technical designer. Formerly business oriented, lately focused on teaching and seminars with steps to move into sustainable fashion. Styling should be definitive and personal as opposed to fashion forward. Typically architectural or tailored, drawing mainly on Timeless/Individual styling. A restrained, accessible look is best for the classroom.

Social: Urban leisure day to evening, meeting friends, eating out, gigs, date nights, shopping, museums &c. Out and about off duty is where I’m most adventurous in Urban/Eclectic styling. Formal functions and nights at the opera up the ante.

Casual: Getting dressed for the sheer joy of it, to work at home/in studio, run errands, or head to yoga class. Often oversized silhouettes for comfort and mobility, dressed up for the feel good factor. Quality and style is important for emotional reasons. Includes a small loungewear capsule, but everything else leaves the house eventually.

Environmental: All should be workable on a bicycle. Some of my biggest mistakes have been failures to account for this. Solid, comfortable footwear required for lots of walking. Rainwear is essential year round, as are hats in winter.

Seasonal: Summers are warm and humid, winters are cold and wet but seldom freezing. Dressing for four distinct seasons keeps style fatigue at bay, with many items rotating in and out.

My wardrobe is full of wonderful things that don’t always match. I’ve worked my way through many different personae over the years and their traces linger on in my closet like skeletons. There are many reasons for this, chief among them being the various professional roles I’ve cycled through and my ongoing efforts to dress authentically for each of them.

I think I need a clearer “if (this) then (that)” strategy, setting conditions for particular roles and crafting a range of looks for various circumstances. I’m already doing this to an extent, but life changes can mean that items acquired to fill a specific need can go unworn if I don’t find new styling options for them. For instance, I’d like to make elements of what used to be my business wardrobe work in new settings, because as Angie points out, I look darn good in a blazer.

All that said, my shopping strategy to date hasn’t exactly supported a coherent presentation. Things are getting better, but I don’t think I’ve ever been systematic, or even honest with myself, in defining exactly what needs to be in my wardrobe. While I love having a closet I can shop, there are undoubtedly things languishing in there which are good enough to find a place in someone else’s life.


Improve, protect, appreciate, connect

Today is not a good day. I don't need to say why. This is not a political forum, and I firmly believe it should stay that way, but I can see many here are feeling the way I'm feeling right now.

I've been online off and on today, mostly here for the distraction and my other favourite expertly moderated internet community. In among the fallout, I found this treasure of a mantra.

Improve, protect, appreciate, connect.

I've been at home waiting for the plumber today. I was supposed to be planning classes today but I didn't have it in me, so I've been tidying a messy corner that's been bothering me for weeks. I talked to the plumber about what needs to be done around the house and commiserated with my neighbour about the election. I dressed up nicely to go the shops in the rain, and made a point of hitting the small businesses as well as the supermarket chain. I bought aubergine, mozzarella and a nice bottle of wine.

These tiny acts of improvement, protection, appreciation and connection were very comforting. Tonight I will cook parmigiana for Mr Edge and call my family to tell them I love them.


Style Lab I: Definitions

All this talk of churn and wardrobe planning puts me to shame. I need to take a long, hard look at myself and what I’m trying to achieve in my style. In the first part, I am taking apart my style descriptors, examining what they mean to me, and why they are important.

Descriptors: Timeless, urban, eclectic, androgynous, individual.

Timeless - Heritage Classics The heart and soul, believe it or not, is a deeply classic sensibility. Tailoring and craftsmanship are essential. Denim is premium selvedge. Oxfords and a good blazer go anywhere, anytime. Creepers are George Cox originals, made in England since 1949.

Urban - Acid Sport ’80s New Wave and ’90s rave culture followed me to Amsterdam at the end of the 20th century. Now hitting middle age as a wannabe Japanese teenager. Loved fun fur, metallic fabrics and colourful sportswear for as long as I can remember. Platform shoes are a necessity. Concert shirts add instant cool to any look.

Eclectic - Euro Folk This is the outcome of a lifetime of thrifting and absorbing art, culture and history. Part art-school hipster, part urban boho, part retro vintage, not quite any of them. Draws influence from traditional workwear, primitive art, antique costume and international folk textiles.

Androgynous - Gender bending Playing with masculine and feminine identities, never tilting too much either way. Femme looks are tough and full of attitude, mannish looks are detailed and embellished. Not personally comfortable with too much feminine performance, but love looking ladylike when the occasion calls for it.

Individual - Conceptual Modern High concept, avant-garde and deconstructed pieces are key, usually in one of the core neutrals.

The last, which I called Conceptual Modern because I can’t think of another way to describe it, only emerged as a major theme a few years ago, but it’s been there as an aspiration for much longer. It’s taken me a very long time to work it into the look, mainly because it’s so hard to find the right pieces and sometimes I have to make them myself. This is the glue that holds everything else together, informing all excursions into other territories. I’ve noticed lately that I can’t get dressed without it, so it’s a major consideration in future acquisitions.

A good rule of thumb seems to be that essentials and indispensable statement pieces fall under timeless/androgynous/individual, and accent statements fall under urban/eclectic.

My challenge for 2017 is to work my existing wardrobe further into a coherent style around my view of the above descriptors, merging old favourites, found items, fantasy dressmaking projects and opportunistic purchases. Anything that doesn’t fit into this new philosophy will have to go.


WIW/WIB: pyjama samurai

Can't resist a quick post to show off the new score. I was torn between saving these for Christmas and busting them out straight away, but in the end I cut the tags and wore them anyway. 

I was pretty sure they'd work, but I'm surprised by how many styling options I have. Today I've gone full Harajuku after one of my personal style icons, the lovely lady who sold me the sneakers. It wasn't deliberate, but now I notice I've somehow ended up with her hair colour. 

I tamed the wide legs with detachable straps from another pair of boots, which makes for practical, comfortable day wear, fine for mucking about in the studio and meeting friends later. I'll probably style them over the party season as wide legs with platform heels and a maximal blazer.

Comments appreciated, even to tell me I look sloppy :D


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