Before the year ends tonight, while some are frantically going through all the options of party wears for the count down, I am rushing to organize my closet. I figured this is my last chance of redeeming myself from all the procrastination piled up throughout the year that's been weighing me down. And that's putting it lightly...drowning me is more accurate! Holding onto my last chance of redemption and hoping for a brighter start next year, if the reorganization of my closet today is to symbolize hope the new year can bring, what will I keep?...what will I give away?
GIVE AWAYS/PUT AWAYS:
Clothes I no longer want to be
In the same way who you are will reflect on the way you dress, the way you dress will have the power to change who you are. Like forcing a smile when you are down, or getting out of your PJ and putting on a power suit when you just can't find any motivation to get out of bed, there's something about the way you look that has an often unnoticeable but powerful effect on your inner well-being and identity. So who do I no longer want to be in 2016? I no longer want to be a helpless romantic that perpetually lives vicariously through my fantasy. What to put away? My kaftans, dresses with lots of ruffles, and everything I bought for a walk along the beach during sunset. I guess there's a reason why this kind of clothing belong in "the resort collection". Put them away until the next vacation.
I don't know about you, but I have committed the crime of buying that less than perfect pair of black Mary Jane or that "just not so good" everyday winter coat way too many times. The lesson learned? Don't compromise!!! Because when that perfect black Mary Jane comes around, you will not have already wasted 5 pairs of shoes you will eventually give away. Don't waste your energy and resources on anything short of perfection. Give Away!
On the last day of our summer trip in Milan this year, my Mother and I had our first fight during the trip. She wanted to spend her last day in Milan shopping, more specifically, shopping for Lora Piana on via Monte Napoleone. That was something I really didn't want to do, so I tried persuading her out of it. In my attempt, I called her preference for brands like Lora Piana, boring in style and pretentious in the pursuit of quality and elegance. So you can imagine how the day went! But now I feel that my pompous remarks were wrong. Because time and again, quality and elegance have proven to be the winning combo to avoid or minimize fashion mistakes. More than half a century later, Jackie's wardrobe continues to inspire. The time tested classics are like wisdom that can carry you through life gracefully, even if you don't become the next fashion icon...
I have never regretted sacrificing a little rack space to keep the memory of how my first little black Prada dress made me feel. That freezing winter wind gusting through Bloor street had no power whatsoever over my determination to walk back what felt like 100 blocks to acquire that little piece of heavenly trophy. That little black trophy was part of the reason I fell in love with Canada. We moved to Canada 5 months later. However, we opted for a much lesser blazing climate and settled in Vancouver. Although I haven't worn the dress for over 20 years, that little happiness still puts a smile on my face every time I pull it out for a quick glimpse. It's priceless. Aren't memories what stories are made of? Designate a special space for them. Keep them alive!
'Another Level' Pieces
When something has the quality to inspire you, cause you to marvel at their beauty, even if its practical purpose or return is very little, it's a keeper for sure. I call them 'another level' pieces. They are not meant to be practical; so the price divided by usage rule or 'give away if you haven't worn it for a year' rule really don't apply. Like plunging into a great romance that doesn't end in a marriage or babies, the value of an 'another level' piece lies in how it takes your breath away. Plus, they often make the best party wears. I always say, "keep a good arsenal of great party wears." It's often difficult to find that most stunning dress after you receive a party invitation.
Note to self on welcoming the new year:
Don't be afraid to invest in beauty. People without the capacity to appreciate the value of beauty will continue their lives without. An impeccably curated wardrobe is an art not everyone will see the value of pursuing. They will just not be impeccably dressed. That's all. Happy New Year!
If I tell you that 10.5 million tons of clothing go to landfills every year in US alone and that the textile industry is one of the biggest water polluters in the world, second only to agriculture. Would it change the way you shop? The stats are true. The world bank estimates that almost 20% of global industrial water pollution comes from the treatment of dyeing textiles. These stats are for textiles only, not accounting our other favourite fashion items such as purses, shoes, and other accessories. These daunting facts force us to rethink our grand ambition to acquire all that is on our wish list this season, doesn't it? If it is a fashion trend to be environmentally conscious, it would be the best trend ever to be popularized. It should be ingrained in the fashion bible (if there ever was one?) as the number one style principle to follow...don't you think? You may think being environmental makes a boring wardrobe full of linen blouses and pants, but it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, the combination of being a smart shopper and having a sharp sense for style might just make you fashionably environmental! In fact, some well known principles to having real style may just make that environmental difference, if you follow them!
Like many others, I am aware that it is good for the environment to recycle, to drive less, or to eat less meat, but I never really gave much thought about the link between being environmentally friendly and being a fashionista.
Let's take some time to give it some thought, shall we?
Like everything else, whatever we use to produce fashion pieces, leather, zippers, feathers, so on and so forth, is extracted out of mother earth. When we are bombarded everyday by the fashion industry with what we "must" buy from all the angles they can get to us, keep in mind that over-consuming is NEVER good for the environment. I care about our earth, but I know I am not nearly as dedicated as the real environmentalists. For me, to enjoy fashion while, at the same time, be accountable for our mother earth, I have come up with some practical suggestions to follow when making fashion choices.
Every season, and pre-season and sometimes pre-pre-season, the fashion industry feeds us with all kinds of beautifully packaged styles that would make us look just the coolest and chic-est version of ourselves. One season, you are bringing out the rockstar in you when you wear studs. The next season, you are becoming the adventurous heroine that you've always wanted to be when you put on that ethnic print poncho made of Angora wool. I have to admit, they do the trick for me like magic! Having so many best versions of myself has definitely made my closet look very exciting but also very confusing, almost like a person with an identity crisis. One way to be fashionably environmental is to know yourself. Know what works best for you and stick to it. As the almost cliche quote by the queen of fashion Coco Chanel goes: "Fashion fades, only style remains.". When you have a sharp sense of what your style is, you are less likely to buy everything the fashion editors tell you to buy. Of course, sometimes we just can't resist the urge of trying something different. Instead, get a piece or two...or just accessorize. And all the more appreciation to those who make their own staple statements of who they are in all seasons - Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld?
Buy the best you can afford
Love me or hate me. I love to quote Oscar Wilde to fuel my vanity: "I have the simplest of taste, I am always satisfied with the best." It turns out, this simplest taste could greatly reduce consumption. For example, instead of getting a new luggage every 2, 3 years, invest in the best quality that you can afford, and sometimes they really last a life time. For Louis Vuitton luggages, it's generations. Even when they do retire as a functional luggage, they make great vintage decor pieces you can pass down to your kids. Ever heard of Cradle-to-Cradle?
Choose natural fibre over man-made fibre
Remember that scene in The Devil wears Prada when Stanley made a joke about Andy's sweater, "I'm sure it has a lot of polyester in it?" Yes, choose natural fibre over manmade, for comfort and luxury. It is also less harmful for the environment. Man-made fibres require much higher energy use and produce much higher GHG (green house gas) than natural fibres. With wool being a special case, where although it emits less GHG, it creates methane emissions, a common problem with any kind of animal farming. So do keep in mind when you are picking a sweater for the winter. Don't compromise on quality and style, so you don't have to buy more than what you need.
Vintage is fashion's best answer to recycling and repurposing. If you have lived long enough, you will know that even the most hideous fashion trends come back. While we were still making fun of our disastrous fashion moments in the 80s, it creeped back. Even if it doesn't come back, you can always repurpose a vintage piece. Find a good tailor, a professional cleaner, and a good shoe smith, you will witness the wonders they can do to give new life to vintage items. Some people really need to have the best accountant, lawyer, and banker in place to go to bed in peace. For me, the best tailor, cleaner and shoe smith are the equivalent. Therefore, reconsider your mother's offer to pass you her favourite Escada jacket and skirt sets. Alter them to your preferable cut, mix and match them differently, you may be surprised how stunning and modern they will look on you. Escada's glory days may be gone, but with a little update, it can still shine like it used to!
I can never decide if I love boho or classic more. Can I adhere to two totally different style doctrines at the same time? If I don't choose one, does it make me a confused dresser? I am far from a full blown hippie in style, yet I feel very phony and uncomfortable dressing head to toe classy; I always find a way to make a boho twist into my classy outfits. For example, I will pair ethnic vintage jewellery with lbd instead of pearls.
If you are like me, a half-ass boho that still cares very much about being elegant and timeless, yet hate myself for still holding onto that bourgeois notion, what does that say about us????
Do I have to eventually decide who I really am? or can I continue to straddle two boats to inhabit both the free spirit and the elegant world?
I looked to some style icons for answers: Kate Moss, Jane Birkin, the Olsen twins, and Jackie in the Onasis years. It turns out, our "greedy" ambition to inhabit both worlds has long made us quite the star hybrid. We just might be the kind of hybrid that is not easily categorized. We know very clearly what we like and don't like from different fashion lines. We break away from cliche pairings that often box people. We take what we like and make it our own. The perpetual dilemma? how about we call it the constant struggle to stay true to our unique selves.The never ending struggle that makes us the most interesting fashion scripts!
Do you match your outfit with the background? I do!! Especially when in Seville. I even match the tiles.
Thanks to the genius of Dolce and Gabbana, King Alfonso XIII and I are the perfect match!
Outfits including swimwear : Dolce and Gabbana
Background: Hotel Alfonso XIII, Seville