Not Busy

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As I mentioned in a post last year, I have tried to remove ‘busy’ from both my vocabulary and mindset as much as possible.

I have spent the last 3 days occupied in one of my favourite activities – sewing. It has not been just any sewing but specifically dressmaking clothes for myself.

The first project was a dress which was modelled on an oft-used shirt pattern.

I bought the fabric which is a cotton drill from a local thrift shop for $5. I have yet to source suitable buttons and finish the hem.

Another dress. A simple, lightweight shift which will be perfect for hot summer days at home or the beach. The fabric for this one was leftover from a previous project. Of course, both of the dresses have pockets.

A navy linen shirt made using the same pattern as the first dress. This is an extremely versatile pattern which I have used numerous times. The contrasting binding on the neckline and armholes is not visible when the garment is being worn but I think it adds a somewhat whimsical touch. Making my own bias binding allows me to indulge ideas like this. Once again, buttons and hemming are required to complete the shirt.

I have another linen shirt cut out which is black.

This has barely put a dent in my stash of fabric and I am looking forward to making more items to add to my wardrobe.

It is almost 2 years since I last bought any brand-new clothes apart from underwear. In that time I have bought less than 10 pieces from thrift shops and recycle boutiques and made a few items. Some of the clothes that I wore to work are still suitable for some occasions, however, I find that I am gradually changing the mix of clothes in my wardrobe to reflect my retirement lifestyle.

Wardrobe Audit – Another Month

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I am a bit slow on reviewing my wardrobe this month but here goes.

2019 is now 10 weeks old and I have worn all of my summer clothes apart from one sleeveless top.  I like it and it is an identical style to two others so there is no good reason for not wearing it.  Anyway, we still have plenty of hot weather ahead so it will definitely get an airing.

There have been some milder days so I have even worn some of my jeans, 3/4 sleeve shirts, boleros and a cardigan.

The following photos show what remains on the backward-facing hangers.

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The sleeveless top is at the extreme right hand end.  The remainder are mostly jackets, long-sleeve and 3/4 sleeve tops and shirts as well as a trenchcoat.  The exception are two dresses – an emerald green lace frock and a black sheath.  These are rarely worn but serve a purpose and deserve their place in my wardrobe.

There are some 3/4 sleeve tops and cardigans folded in the drawers which have not been worn either.

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The lower hanging rail is almost devoid of clothes as I have now worn all six of my skirts, three pairs of cropped trousers and three pairs of jeans.  All that remains are my green jeans, good black dress trousers and two pairs of fitted trousers (black and charcoal) that I only really wear with my knee-high boots so they are definitely winter attire.

The exercise of turning the hangers has been a useful one for me.  I am confident that everything I own will be worn during the course of the year, with the exception of the two special occasion dresses.  I am happy that I generally have enough, but not too many. clothes.

I bought three items in January from the local recycle boutique but nothing since.  I am sewing a couple of new sleeveless shirts so they will probably be added during the next month.

Have you tried turning your hangers backwards in order to see what you actually wear?

Wardrobe Audit – January

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At the beginning of January I turned all of the coathangers in my wardrobe around.  The idea behind this is that once an item has been worn you replace the hanger in the correct manner.  This provides an easy way to identify those items which have not been worn.

Since the past month has been recorded as the hottest ever start to the year in Australia, it is no surprise to find that jackets, cardigans, jeans and trousers were not worn in January.  Of the seasonally appropriate items, there are a couple of tops and 3 skirts which have not yet been worn.  I am sure their time will come.

The other thing I decided to do was not to buy any new clothes in January.  This was not entirely successful depending on your definition of ‘new’.  I bought 3 items that are new to me during the month.  We have a local recycle boutique which I check out from time to time.  I am fairly selective and only choose pieces that are absolutely perfect for me and I could not go past these.

Patterned cropped jeans

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Sleeveless cowl neck top

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Long sleeve white linen shirt

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Although none of them had tags attached, I am pretty sure that they are all unworn.

Finally, I moved three items out of my wardrobe.  The first was a pair of jeans I bought in 2012.  They have had a lot of wear and are getting pretty thin as well as somewhat faded and stained.  They are are now in the pile of clothes to be worn around the house and when gardening.  Similarly a sleeveless tshirt top has seen better days so met the same fate.  A pair of white shorts went in the bin as the elastane had all given way and they were not in a fit state to be used or donated.

All of this wardrobe activity takes place on a background of the knowledge that my clothes needs will evolve with my upcoming retirement in a few months along with plenty of travelling planned.

As always, I will only be making carefully considered purchases.

I will continue to monitor and report on my progress during the year.

A Matter of Priorities

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At the end of my last blog post I said I would show you more of what I had been sewing the next day.

Well, that did not happen.  Not only did I not write the post, I did not do the intended sewing.  There were other things that rated as more important and demanded my attention.  In fact, if I am honest, that is why there are often significant gaps between blog posts.  The blog has a relatively low priority in my life as the full-time job and running a household definitely come first.

Anyway, in the absence of any sewing, I want to share some of the recent additions to my wardrobe.

I am not keen on buying clothes online but towards the end of last year I bought 3 tops from Covered Perfectly.  This was on the recommendation of Susan from Susan After 60 blog.  The tops are made in the USA and with a buy 2, get the 3rd one free deal they were very reasonably priced, even with the overseas shipping.

Here are the three that I bought.

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Since it is the middle of summer here, these will not be worn in the near future.  I am looking forward to wearing them in the cooler weather and also including them in the packing for our Europe trip later in the year.

Yesterday, I had some free time between appointments in Maleny so I took the opportunity to check out the recycle boutique.  I do have a browse there from time to time and have bought a few things previously.  I was definitely in luck as I found this cute pair of cropped Sportscraft jeans which appeared to have never been worn.  They were my size and fitted like a glove.

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I also found a pretty sleeveless top with a cowl neckline.

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Here are a few styling possibilities that I have identified for my new pieces.

Cropped jeans with teal 3/4 sleeve top.

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Cropped jeans with navy tshirt.

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Cropped jeans with white collared shirt.

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The sleeveless top will be paired with white cropped pants, black trousers or even these green jeans.

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A few years ago my wardrobe consisted mostly of black, white and red items.

More recently I have included a bit more navy in lieu of some black pieces and the addition of some more blue and green is great, too.  I am still sticking to my theory that every piece in my wardrobe must be able to be worn in at least 3 different ways or combinations.

Use it Up, Wear it Out……

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……Make Do or Do Without.

So, the saying goes.

It is relatively easy to ‘use it up’ but ‘wear it out’ does not seem to occur very often.

However, today I have an example which caught me completely off-guard.

I have a  black short-sleeve cashmere/merino top.  I have had it for several years and wear it regularly with different skirts and trousers.  It even gets worn with shorts.

After carefully handwashing the top I was placing on the hanger to dry when I noticed a hole just below the underarm.  It was not moth-eaten but simply worn out!  On closer examination I discovered that the other side was in an almost identical state.

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A closer look.

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I am not sure whether there is any purpose for which I can use the remainder of the garment.  Padding of some sort?  Otherwise it will be binned.

Will I replace this?  Probably not. It was mostly worn to work and I only have another 7 months of work and I am also looking at having less black clothes in my wardrobe.

 

Feeling Rich

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I can clearly remember when I was about 10 years old thinking about what I would have when I was rich.  Did I really understand the meaning of ‘rich’?  Possibly not.

My family were staying at the beach for our annual holiday and I was struggling to put on a pair of damp bathers in order to go to the beach after lunch.  You see, we might have been on holidays at the beach but certain rules of etiquette still applied.  One was that you did not come to the dining table to eat lunch dressed in your swimwear.  So, after being at the beach in the morning you were changed for lunch.  The swimwear was rinsed and hung on the line.  However, they were not completely dry by the time I wanted to go back to the beach in the afternoon – no lycra swimwear then, so it took ages to dry.  I dreamed of the day when I was rich and could have two pairs of bathers.

When I was in my late teens and working, I did have a couple of pairs of bikinis but this was a fashion statement rather than any sort of practical application of my childhood fantasy.

Swimming is not a major pastime for me so one pair of bathers is generally sufficient and the challenge of buying decent swimwear that I am happy with is usually enough to stop me even considering buying more.  However, I did buy a second pair last year when I was away at a conference and unexpectedly had an opportunity to go swimming.  I was fortunate to find what I regarded as the perfect pair of bathers – style, colour and price.

We have 2 beach holidays coming up in the next 6 months so my 2 pairs of bathers will definitely come in handy.  Perhaps I will feel rich, too.

I recently decided to buy a sarong to co-ordinate with the second pair of bathers.  Whilst I am not a huge fan of online shopping for clothes, it was a godsend in this instance.  Size is not an issue for a sarong and the internet allowed me to search literally hundreds of sarongs to find one in a colour and pattern I wanted.

The parcel arrived yesterday and I am happy with my purchase.

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This is the other sarong and bathers so I am all prepared for the beach.

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How rich am I with 2 sets of co-ordinating beachwear?

What makes you feel rich?

A Capsule Wardrobe

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Over the past 10 years I have flirted with various versions of a minimalist wardrobe.  There seem to be as many versions of how to tackle an over-abundance of clothes as there are people on the planet.

After looking into Project 333 some years ago, I decided that the best option for me was to continue to keep a streamlined, mix-n-match selection that I wear most of the year round.  This works for me because I am fortunate to live in a fairly temperate climate.

However, I have recently joined a Facebook group focused on capsule wardrobes.  Someone posted about creating a Spring capsule based on the principle enunciated in The Vivienne Files.

One of the things that bothers me about many of the pieces chosen in limited collections tend to be pale/soft/neutral colours which are definitely not my style.  It would not matter how many pieces I had to choose from, I would still not be able to find anything to wear!  For those who follow the principle of colour analysis, I am a ‘winter’ which means I can wear black and other strong, clear blue-based colours.  When I had this analysis done back in the early 80s it really just confirmed what I already knew and I very rarely deviate from my preferred palette.

Based on this knowledge and the selection in my wardrobe, I chose the following 16 pieces for my capsule for the next 3 months.

The suggested configuration was:

Neutral – 2 bottoms and 2 tops, 1 of which should be a cardigan or jacket.

Naturally, I chose black.

Shorts and jeans.

A cardigan and short sleeve top, both in cashmere/merino.

Choose another neutral with the same configuration of 2 tops and 2 bottoms.

I am not sure that red is a neutral but it is definitely a base colour in my wardrobe.

capri pants and shorts.

A long sleeve knit top and a ‘denim’ jacket.

The next suggested category is 4 more tops which obviously need to mix and match as well as meet the vagaries of the local weather.

The final 4 items are open to personal preference and any categories you feel need an extra.

As the weather warms up I will definitely need these white cropped pants.

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A couple of patterned tops to add interest.

And a dress.

16 Multi-colour dress

While I followed the guidelines as suggested, I also know that there are dozens of outfits that can be created with this selection because I regularly do it.  Almost all of these pieces are several years old and are well-established in my wardrobe.

I am not entirely convinced that these will cover a couple of short holidays and special events that fall in the next 3 months but they will definitely account for 95% of my day-to-day outfits.

I will do a follow-up post in the next few days about a couple of accessories and the shoes that I will add to this collection.

A Versatile Piece

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As I have minimised and streamlined my wardrobe over time, it has become increasingly important that individual items are able to be worn in a multitude of ways.

Everything is multipurpose to some degree but I think this piece is a clear winner.

We live in a relatively temperate climate where the maximum temperatures range between about 15C and 35C and the minimums between about 5C and 20C.  Consequently, we can wear variations of the same outfit for much of the year.

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The skirt shown above is a lightweight seersucker cotton fabric which is lined with an equally lightweight lining.  On the hottest days I can pair it with a sleeveless white cotton shirt and a pair of strappy black sandals.  Conversely, I have also worn it with a grey cowl-neck pullover, red trenchcoat, scarf, tights and knee-high black boots.

There are plenty of options that fall somewhere between these two extremes as I have a fitted black tshirt as well as a short sleeved black cashmere pullover.  A couple of different white shirts and a black cardigan complete the mix of tops.  A pair of black heels provides another option between the sandals and boots.

These are just a few of the possibilities which work with this skirt.

A relatively small selection of clothes means that each piece needs to really earn its keep.

New to Me

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Sometimes things are just meant to be.  A couple of weeks ago my mother told me that had some casual clothes – mostly tshirts which were now surplus to her requirements.

In the spirit of my relatively streamlined wardrobe and a lack of need, I refused most of them.  However, this one caught my eye.

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I had no intention of rushing out to buy a pink and white striped rugby top but when I saw this in the pile I simply fell in love with it.  This top is very lightweight and perfect for our generally mild weather for about 6 months of the year.

After wearing  it for a couple of days when I first received the top, I washed and ironed it.  While ironing it, I noticed that there was only one button on the placket.  The button was white and I searched my collection of numerous white buttons but could not find any suitable ones but discovered that I had 2 pink buttons that were the right size.

When I was planning what to pack on our upcoming trip to the UK I decided to include this top.  Even though it is quite light, it is loose enough to wear a thermal top underneath it and with the addition of a warm jacket I would be quite snug when out and about.

Even though this was an unplanned addition to my wardrobe, I am confident that it will  be perfect for my needs and get plenty of wear.

What I Wear – 6 Month Update

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It is now 6 months since I began tracking what I wear.  June signals the beginning of winter in the southern hemisphere and we finally have some weather that can be regarded as appropriate for the season in our area.  Therefore, some of the clothes I wore in the past month are ones that had barely been touched since I began recording what I wear at the beginning of December.

I have had a net increase to my wardrobe as I added 4 new items and discarded 2.  One is not actually new, just new to the list.  I can’t believe that I completely forgot to list my turquoise cardigan.  Anyway, it is now on the list.

New additions:

The dress was actually bought in April but I had not added it to the tally since I was not sure that it would be a long-term addition.  I have now decided that I will keep it.  You can read more about it here.  The trousers are slim-fitting pull-on tailored trousers that will be the mainstay of my work wardrobe during the cooler months.  I like the fact that there are nor buttons, zips or other fastenings to spoil the line of tops worn with them.

Discarded:

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I have now worn 79 of the 93 pieces in my wardrobe.  I expect that there will be less than 5 unworn ones by the end of the month.

This is the selection that have yet to be worn during this experiment.  They are mostly winter clothes with the exception of the cocktail dress and the formal dress.

I will miss half of the southern hemisphere winter this year as we will be in the USA and Canada for the latter part of July and almost all of August.  By the time we return spring will be just around the corner and my small selection of winter clothes will not see the light of day for another 9 months.

What I have discovered is that I can probably streamline my wardrobe further to around 80 items to cover all weather and all occasions and activities.  I also know that it is dynamic – an ever-changing process as pieces are worn, discarded and updated.

Until next month………