Friday, October 24, 2014

Dreaming of the Perfectly Curated Wardrobe

Michael Kors show backstage instructions from Aerin Lauder's Instagram
In my experience, a major roadblock on the path to living your chicest life is being surrounded by too many possessions, and the wrong kind of possessions for you.  Even for those of us who are constantly editing our surroundings by being intentional with the kind of home and personal style we want, there are still areas we want to have feel better.

The change of main seasons twice a year is a perfect time to dive into your wardrobe.  With Spring here in New Zealand, I am excited about washing my merino woolies, sorting out what I want to keep for next year and making a pile to donate that I haven't worn much and seem to always find a reason not to.  There are so many variables - the colour's not quite right, the shape isn't good for you or the feel of the fabric doesn't make your skin happy.

And sometimes, it’s just that an item doesn’t look as good as it used to.  When something is a favourite it’s hard to let it go of, but then when you think about how often you’ve worn it (a lot)…  I came across a great quote on Laura’s blog The Chic Planner which has helped me release a few items:

Last season, I gave away my favourite navy and white blouse. It was worn out looking, and I could no longer wear it with confidence as a best quality item in my wardrobe.

The last part of this quote which I have bolded, helped me immensely when I was dithering over decluttering something.

In my dream quest for a small-size clothing collection, I enjoy editing out the not-quite-right pieces and this allows all my favourites and newer items to shine brightly, making me happy when I slide open the wardrobe (or a dresser drawer) in the mornings.  I actually do this year round and keep a donation box in our guest bedroom which gathers up saleable items and gets donated when full.

To inspire and keep me focused on my wardrobe journey, I have imagined a scenario to keep in mind what I want my wardrobe to have the essence of.

You are in the shining city of Paris.  It’s your first day there and you’ve emerged from your darling little hotel room, showered and fresh, with shiny clean blow-dried hair and light, glowing makeup.  You are meeting a dear friend for lunch later on, but this morning is all yours.

Taking care to keep track of the streets and alleys as you look around the arrondisement you are in, you turn up a quaint cobbled side street and look in a boutique window.  As you walk in your senses are immediately assaulted with racks and racks of mismatched clothing in all different sizes and colours. 

You have a hard time imagining that an outfit can be pulled from all these racks despite a plethora of clothing styles and many, many pieces to choose from.  There are shoeboxes stacked up in uneven piles everywhere and other unrelated items for sale also.

Because the boutique is so packed with stuff, it can't be easily cleaned and this lends an overall sense of stagnation and mustiness.  The music being played adds to the 'get me outta here' feeling - you literally have trouble breathing easily with all this happening around you.

You exit the boutique quickly and look at the next one you pass.  Aaah, that looks more inviting.

A gleaming black and glass front door is flanked by potted standard buxus and it shuts behind you as you step across the polished white ash floor and onto a huge, Persian silk rug in shades of black, grey, taupe and cream. The rug is faded and almost threadbare but it looks amazing, and absolutely perfect in this setting.

‘Bonjour Madame’, the slender shop assistant calls out melodically from her counter.

Right in front of you is a large round oak table with an oversized vase of fragrant white and pale pink lilies in the centre, with glossy books, beautiful candles, artisanal soaps and tubes of handcream arranged around it.

You notice the soft level of sultry jazz lounge music playing at a slow tempo which lulls you into a relaxing frame of mind.

As you look around you see there aren’t a lot of items for sale in this store, but everything in there you would happily have in your own wardrobe.  It’s like someone curated the most perfect and deceptively simple capsule collection in expensive-looking muted tones and chic neutrals.

I’ve often daydreamed about having a wardrobe that is like a bijou and chic Parisian boutique and why shouldn’t it be a reality for me?  Why do I need to hold onto everything I’ve ever owned, pieces I’ll never wear again and items in different sizes, just because I’ve spent money on them?

Isn’t it better that all of these things go to someone else who will enjoy wearing them if I'm never going to?  Another great piece of inspiration I came across recently was on Deborah’s The Beautiful Matters blog when she wrote on her experience with Project 333.  The post is fantastic and I also loved what one of her commenters had to say:

I don't think I even have 33 things in my closet. I keep things to a minimal as I can't stand digging through clothes I've grown tired of, never really liked, or they don't fit correctly anymore. When it comes to clothes I'm not sentimental. At the end of a season, if I've loved and worn something a lot, I'm usually done with it so it goes in the giveaway box. If I still love, then I keep for next year. (from Brenda @ Its A Beautiful Life).

Isn't that fabulously said?  So simple, and yet more beautiful inspiration to help me pare down to the most perfectly distilled (yet ever evolving) wardrobe which, despite this lengthy blog post, means I can think less about what to put on in the morning, because I've already put time and energy into planning it before then.


  1. Another wonderful read - as always. Thank you for two lovely links as well.
    I've nearly finished reading the book you recommended last week. I'm really enjoying it, but think how unusual that a book like this has been written by a man.

  2. Another excellent post. I've been having the "urge to purge" lately, and I guess I need to snap out of this silly fantasy that one day I'll put certain things in a musuem. Every piece should either be practical/functional or be a "soul-stirrer" and certain things despite their label just aren't doing it despite my best efforts.

  3. Your dreamy story illustrates perfectly how I would feel walking into either boutique and how I want my home and closet to feel like the well curated boutique. What a great description!

  4. Beautiful post. I love it so much!

  5. What an elegant dream. I have started the purge because it is autumn here but I have come to an impasse. You have inspired me to take my pile of clothes to the Auxiliary store today. No chic French woman would own so many items of clothing. Then there is laundry, dry cleaning and inspection of hems and buttons. The Bijou Boutique collection needs to be perfect. Merci.

  6. You have hit the nail on the head for many of us in the States who have overstuffed closets, "...just because you've spent money on them." So often we hold on out of guilt. "But it cost me a fortune--I really should wear it." We make mistakes. And we need to let go of the mistakes and learn from them. If you donate the item, someone else will have the chance to enjoy it and, perhaps, your spent money will provide someone unable to afford such an item an opportunity to have a chic and lovely possession. Just give up the item and send the guilt back to the universe.

  7. Thank you for the mention Fiona. I have learned so much from my Project 333 journey. It has been an eye-opener. I had thought I was pretty good at the minimalist dressing; I can do even better and be even more satisfied, I've discovered. I still have a ways to go.
    Love taking the trip with you in your imagination!

  8. I love the boutique description. In keeping things simple, I am drawn to the J Jill Wearever/Eileen Fisher/Stella Carakasi format--small amount of choices per season, yet, everything works well together. I keep editing and sometimes I am afraid to let go too. Brenda's comment was very helpful!

  9. Terrific post Fiona. I purged a lot this year but only because of moths. Having less made dressing in the morning for work so much easier. Only one sweater broke my heart and I was able to replace it. You are such a good writer and make your posts so readable and they flow so nicely. I always enjoy them.

  10. I love your scenario. I grew up on the "wear it till it dies" philosophy but I think I'm getting better at purging my wardrobe.

    I'll be doing my biannual overhaul this weekend, but got a head start last night. I was looking at my after-work wardrobe and realized I had a top that was sprouting holes at the cuffs. I adored that top, but into the rag bin it goes.

    It's also about respecting yourself- clothing with holes that's out of shape doesn't say nice things about the person inside. It's hard to feel like a sensual lady when you're in ratty gear. You are your most important audience, so dress for that!

  11. Dear Fiona,

    What a surprise... and delight ... to find a little comment I left with Deborah at The Beautiful Matters mentioned here in your posting.

    It took a long time to get to that place of keeping my closet to a minimal, but I started paying attention to what I was actually wearing and what was hanging for ages without being used.

    I realized no matter how many things I had in my closet, I still tended to reach for those pieces I loved best.

    So in light of that, I stopped buying so many things to start with. So much easier on the pocketbook and getting dressed in the mornings too.)

    I've been enjoying my visit to you blog. Look forward to getting to 'know' you better.

    Wishing you glimpses of beauty in unexpected places(even in your closet).....


  12. I love that idea. I'm definately in a season of culling and in trying to teach my kids that when one thing comes in, at least one thing goes out. More is rarely more.

  13. Thanks Fiona for an interesting and helpful piece of writing, I loved the 'dream' too, a good image to keep in mind to create a home and space that is beautiful, peaceful and chic..thank you too for the two very interesting links to blogs, I am adding them to my reading list. Will work on putting your thoughts into reality in my home. Lucy


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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