my life in clothes

Weekend = shortsAnother outfit post. Because some weeks you just feel a little happier with what you've got onGoing for a whole solid month of #oldootd to see where that takes me. Fun project that @uboparentheses is doing!
Fridays = canvas, glitter, cotton, stripes for work #oldootdFlip flops - always in rotationEven after all these years, I still hate working on public holidays #oldootd
I just want my day to end. And I only just stepped out.This may be getting boring for you guys but it's driving home how much stuff I own. These are my first pair of skinny jeans, from around 2005 or 2006. #oldootdAnother old denim favourite. These raws faded verrrrry slowly and have a slightly "industrial" feel. #oldootd
Going minimalist for the ballet tonight, giving the jeans a break #oldootdWeekend = again, flip flops for the win. Especially for trips to the yoga studioThere are no flattering ways of capturing bare legs upside down. Anyway, a new-ish striped dress. I always have one or two striped dresses somewhere in the closet.
Not pictured: that this shirt has a soft club collar and a shirttail hem. Also I did a rubbish job ironing it #oldootdTurning an old dress into this blouse is one of the best wardrobe decisions I've ever made. #oldootd #EHCCWhat's the point of ironing if the clothes get squashed against each other and rumple anyway? #oldootd #EHCC
I'm starting to notice I like stripes on Fridays #oldootd #EHCCI don't get sick of these jeansThis was the best angle for this dress, which was a cheap buy at Bangkok's famed Chatuchak market in '09. I've not found a simple jersey dress that fit me well since. #oldootd #EHCC
I have pajamas that look fresher than this worn, old striped top but I can't retire it, love it too much #oldootd #EHCCEvery time I want to wear a silk shirt I have to take a guess on whether the weather will get sticky that day, so I don't buy them anymore. But I love having this one to break out when I think the weather is cooperating! #oldootd #EHCCOne of the last two blouses I own that require a tank too layered under because it's too sheer. After this I decided Singapore was too warm for unnecessary layers. #oldootd #EHCC

So, some thoughts on dressing.

Part I - Me, a Dries woman?

A couple weeks ago, I went to a sale organised by a major luxury retailer in Singapore called Club 21, which brings in a number top labels in Singapore, like Lanvin, Jil Sander, Dries Van Noten, Marni, Stella McCartney, Carven, Balenciaga, Phillip Lim, Mulberry, Paul Smith, Comme Des Garcons (not mention Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Armani and all the related brands) and many many more. Their clearance sale is held once every two years and it's a notoriously good deal, lots of stuff at 70 to 90% off.

If you love fashion and have a dream designer or two on your list, it's hard to not go crazy at a sale like this and start imagining that you MUST go home with that silk charmuese gown from Lanvin that drapes in the best way possible, or an impossibly chic, sculpted, black brocade cocoon dress from Balenciaga, because they're all suddenly tantalisingly within reach. Never mind that I take the bus to work 5 days a week and consider a weekend not spent in shorts "dressy".

There has always been a huge disconnect between the designers whose runway collections I love, versus the stuff I actually want to wear. I've always loved Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, for example, and I still look at his collections from time to time. My all-time favourite designer is Helmut Lang and I still have all these tear-outs from magazines of his work. But you'd be hard-pressed to spot his influence on how I dress.

Being at the sale was quite disorienting - when things you admire and study from a distance come alive and beg you take them home. You wonder whether they have a place in your life. You wonder whether you're the kind of person that "collects" pieces. You try stuff on and wonder you could become the woman of a designer's imagination. 

I tried on a beautiful inky sleeveless sheath by Dries that could be black or navy - it was hard to tell in the light. It was fitted but not tight, it fell below my knee to something that could almost be called "midi", and had what I guess is technically a peplum, but really it was less kitsch and determinedly feminine than that. It was made of a matte material that felt a bit like silk wool (more silk than wool), something with a nice weight but not too heavy. I was quite transported by my reflection, but I couldn't quite buy it either. The dress had gravitas. It fitted me well, but it also felt a little too serious for me. It was that super cool, elegantly-dishevelled Dries woman who mixes florals and plaids and manages to wear full skirts that fall below the knee and look modern. I wasn't convinced  I was this woman. 

I set it aside, and went with another Dries dress that was more recognisably me (simple straight-cut shift in a wonderful textured material with sleeves to the elbow). I also did buy that navy blazer from Stella McCartney, because when something that fantastically tailored happens to you, and complements your slightly fraying "I am a professional woman" jacket, you buy it. 

I love the "Dries woman", the "Lanvin woman", the "Celine woman", but from a distance. Maybe I haven't grown into a life where these personas make sense (my October outfit diary on IG should be prove that I'm not quite there yet). 

But I feel a pang whenever I think of that Dries dress. I have a feeling I would kill for that dress about 10 years from now. One of the things I like best about getting older is that the confidence that comes with it, and I suspect 10 years from now I would be a lot more comfortable with dressing with a bit more drama, a little more regally.

Does anyone feel like that? 

Part II - Those #oldootds, and shopping

So, coming back to the outfits above. One word to sum up my style - repetitive. But the monotony was also comforting - having your tastes affirmed and remembering what works, what's easy. It also made me a little sheepish to realise I hardly had to repeat things unless I felt like it - proof that I ought to give it a rest with the shopping.

The problem with figuring out what you like and what works for you is that you become really good at it - you become an expert at spotting and honing in on things that fit right, look right, feel right. And then it's hard to say no. Because you know it's going to work.

In the past I was trying to not buy stuff that I loved but wasn't going to wear because it didn't work for my lifestyle, or just wasn't all very me. Now, it's about trying to not buy so much stuff that I know are perfect for me, because I already have a lot of good stuff.

Certainly a good amount of my shopping this year is due to stress - and shopping is such an easy, instant way to cheer myself up. But it's time to say "enough" and find better ways of relieving the pressure. Exceptions made for holy grail items, of course. 


Joy said…
That Dries dress sure does sound wonderful. I think it's interesting to see the conflict between the brand's strong vision vs your personal. So few people actually consciously take that into account when buying luxury goods. Love all your posts on IG so far!
Ammu said…
Great post. I have a few items in my closet that are like your Dries dress - they delight me even though I don't wear them terribly often, mostly for lifestyle reasons and the absence of a good drycleaner in my city. A silk + chiffon colourblocked fuchsia and coral Chloe blouse acquired for 80% off, a silk and georgette layered dress in shades of orange and fuchsia by an Indian designer - they seem like odd additions to a closet that is primarily grey, navy and black but they make me happy and break up the monotony of wearing a uniform most days.
I don't dress particularly young anymore but my challenge is in finding dresses that look interesting and grown-up but can be washed. So much of what I love is dry-clean only and therefore out of the question. Recently, I have fallen in love with Black Crane's dresses - they are well-designed but very low-maintenance.
I've tried to cut down on buying truly 'outlandish' stuff from designers I love - I have some beautiful CdG/Junya things that just never see the light of day. I've gotten a lot better, I buy to wear rather than collect now. I also have a "default" outfit but I allow myself to be more experimental some days, especially on the weekends. Often it's a matter of forcing myself to wear one of my more unusual pieces, and most of the time the more I wear them the less they become novelty and end up in regular rotation.
jamie-lee said…
You know that story has me thinking back to a Barney's sale I went to in NYC. I came across the most beautiful Stella McCartney dress. Pale pink lace, and just gorgeous - I'd pined for it up until that point but the price was just a little too high for me. I ended up settling in back amongst the racks, as even with the discount, the thought of potentially being without food for five days wasn't thrilling... but I do think of it from time to time.

That Dries dress does sound absolutely lovely. You never know, if it's meant to be you'll stumble across it elsewhere I'm sure. And there'll always be new dresses, and new sales.

Also, I love the monotony. I wish that my style was as strictly defined as yours - I'm always fluctuating between some sense of minimalism and the wish to add a multitude of prints into my wardrobe!
Amanda said…
Your OOTD posts are so Margaret Howell! And I say that as the biggest compliment I can bestow upon any one.

I've been for those Club21 sales and they always left me feeling bad because it seemed like I was turning down a bunch of good deals. I realized eventually that they were there on the sales rack for a reason - people didn't buy them because they weren't useful enough for most people! I eventually realized that the things that went on sale were so outrageously useless. Also, there would always BE a better dress or a nicer pair of shoes around the corner.

Anyway, I'm rambling. I think I've become too tired to look for a good bargain - as long as I shop when needed, it's a good deal any time for me.
petrichore said…
Love the montage of outfit shots! I am still haunted by a lovely designer dress I didn't buy in 2007, but my rational mind also tells me that I am not the same, ahem, size that I was back in 2007, so I would not have worn it much. That softens the blow for me a bit. On a semi-related note, I always have a pencil skirt in my closet (that fits, dang it!), but I never reach for it, despite loving the look on other women. It's funny what role habit and the subconscious play in our dressing every day.
miss sophie said…
i know exactly what you mean by that innate sense of 'this will work'. funny that you discuss the comfort and sometime-downside to knowing the 'go-tos' vs going for the more 'out-there' pieces. i think as we get older, we're able to have that confident knowledge. now, i find myself craving one or two truly dramatic and unique pieces a year to complement my comfort pieces.
miss sophie said…
PS - this issue is also raised in the interview i just did with Kareen. curious what you think :)
lin said…
Joy: Thanks! There were days I felt silly posting because I didn't even have all that much to say about what I was wearing.

I have purchased things before that I never wear because there's so little use for them, or I never felt completely myself, so after a while it just becomes clear that some things just aren't meant to be.

Ammu: I have some things I love too, despite not wearing them often, like a Vanessa Bruno dress I bought ages ago. I think I just don't need too many of them; I'm always stuck between wanting to be practical and being indulgent!

I love the loose, easy look of Black Crane dresses too - but the Instagram exercise taught me that I'm really a jeans/trousers girl at heart and my current rotation of dresses is more than enough. Hopefully she's still making good ones the next time I'm in the market for a dress!

(By the way, let me know if I can bring over something from Singapore for you!)

Koko: You wear the really unusual, cool things well! I think conviction really matters when you're trying something new.

jamie-lee: The one that got away...but you're absolutely right - there's always something amazing coming by to tempt us!

I have my odd moments - which didn't happen last month! But mostly, it's easy to stick to my limited palette - I'm just genuinely in love with various shades of blue.

Amanda: Thanks!

I agree, you see a lot of stuff that people don't care for at these sales. I used to work at Club 21 when I was student so I had first access to all the sales, together with the VIPs and the other stuff, and the good stuff disappears really early. When I'm in "hunting" mode I like trawling through these sales to see if I can find something kick-ass. But usually I try on 10 promising things and understand why no one wanted to them - odd fit, too many buttons, uncomfortable fabric, plain unflattering.

petrichore: Thanks! SOmetimes when I'm haunted by something I look at some of the mistakes sitting in my closet and I remind myself that for all I know it could have been an utter waste of money once I brought it home.

I have the exact same problem with skirts! There's nothing wrong with them and work well with my other items but I never wear them.

miss sophie: I definitely used to crave "out there" things more than I do now, but can't never eliminate that feeling entirely. I think it's just a lifetime of paying attention to fashion and how it;s evolved and how people wear them, and wanting to be part of that whole movement.
Anonymous said…
just discovered your blog
nice mix of visuals + narrative + "that-something-that-makes-one-wonder"

1) your scuba component is a super +
2) self doubt is a +
3) reflection ++
4) being frank + honest +++
5) love the headless selfies

October and November happen to be THE sample sale season with the lead up to Christmas. I've been to several this year and like you've said....lots of lovely stuff but I don't know if they're me. I've seen a few pieces that were truly beautiful but I'd have to have a different and more glamorous lifestyle. Hah! That's not going to happen in a million years. I've just chucked out 4 or was it 6 bags of clothes? That just shows I need to be even more selective about what I buy.
petrichore said…
Also, forgot to say - you have a St. Laurent duffle, am I identifying that correctly? I love those! How do you like yours?
joanna said…
I hear you, esp on the "Dries Woman"--it's my personal love :) I am constantly pinning looks from his runway as inspiration for my own style, but I know what you mean. For me, it's not a 10 year thing. It's more a better less 10 lbs sort of thing! :)

That dress sounds delightful; hope you don't have regrets a few years later about missing out! I know I have definitely had those feelings.

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