And we’re back to the kitchen selfies. Given that the spouse actively enjoys photographing me, I’ll try to do more on the weekends, when he’s home. The early autumnal garden is looking rather picturesque, after all, and we’re entering my favourite clothing season.
At least this one is rictus-free! Probably because I totally love this outfit, even if it is a little conservative by my standards. It features one of the thrifted gems of my wardrobe, and something I’ve been wanting to wear for a while, but again, ended up thrifting at the end of the season, and put away for the summer. It was perfect for today, and as I’m in the midst of the seasonal switchover/annual purge, it was close to hand when I was trying to decide what to wear today.
It’s also the time of the year when I compulsively buy figs, as they’re in glut, absolutely gorgeous, and dead cheap. As I write this, I am periodically hopping up to stir the fig chutney I’ve got going on the hob. Which brings me around to mentioning that I’m finally doing something with the Instagram account I’ve had for a year or so, and never really used until the last couple of days. It’s mostly food porn, and doubtless going to be prosaic photos of what I’m up to (see: food porn), and I have a grand total of six photos up there right now, but if you’ve got an account, and want to follow me there, here’s a link to my profile. If you’ve got an account, I’d love to follow you, so please feel free to drop me a link in the comments!
And with that, onto the details:
Scarf: Zara, remixed. (I think this is Zara; tags long gone.) The rest of my outfit says nice, middle-aged lady, but this scarf signals that I am, in fact, a total bad ass, and I will cut you if you mess with me. OK, not really, I’m basically a pacifist at heart, but still.
Jumper: Brunella Gori, via TK Maxx, remixed.
Skirt: Burberry, vintage, thrifted. Thus, my gem. I got this for five quid at Oxfam last spring, and an online label check (looks to be 1980s vintage, oh god, the 1980s are vintage!) and everything else about it is flawlessly authentic, so either it was made by a counterfeiter with exceedingly high standards of verisimilitude, or it’s the real thing, and I’m certain it’s the latter. It is dreamy; those pleats never creased or ceased to keep their knifelike edge through a long day of challenging weather and physical activity.
At last, my hair as it’s supposed to look — and does — after it’s had time to settle and get knocked around a bit. I usually take my photos shortly after pulling the rollers from my hair and brushing it out, but today I had to run out the door on an early errand, and didn’t get the photo in until after I returned. So here is the proof I don’t walk around with heavily sculpted middle-aged mall hair all day long!
Top: Kenzo. I love this colour so much, and I’m delighted to have something I can wear with this skirt that isn’t just plain black; the blues match almost perfectly. Also, I have completely come around on the dolman sleeve issue, as you can see.
Necklaces: Various found objects strung on chains, remixed.
"You look like a slightly dissolute air hostess," commented the spouse, upon walking through the door tonight. Minus the dissolute bit, which I blame on my windblown coif, I’d thought exactly the same thing this morning, which I blame on the scarf. Not that it bothered me; there’s nothing wrong with air hostesses, and anyway, my outfit was all festively pink and there are hearts on the scarf, and it’s Valentine’s Day, and I have roses, so I’m not complaining.
Scarf: Moschino Cheap & Chic. folded and tied, the branding is inconspicuous, thank god, otherwise not even the pink and red abstract heart pattern would’ve got me to buy it. I HATE obvious, visible logos on my clothes so very much. (And please do note, this is just my own personal quirk, no judgment of logo-lovers is meant.)
Cardigan: Gap. I now have three pink cardigans, but they’re all totally different, I swear.
Blouse: Marks & Spencer, remixed.
Skirt: Warehouse, thrifted. I should’ve named this blog “It’s a Bit Roomy in the Hips.” I’ve learned to live with it, unless we’re talking ridiculously huge in the hips.
And, here we have the long-delayed Retail Chicken Victory skirt. Patiently, I stalked this. My nerve held, as the four identical skirts in my size were winnowed down to two. I think this may be the longest round of Retail Chicken I’ve ever played, because it took a couple of months. Occasionally, the survivors would seem to disappear, and I’d have to go looking for them. I always eventually found them both, fortunately. If you shop at TK/TJ Maxx, you know how easily this temporary disappearing act can happen.
Then, finally, a couple of weeks ago, they finally knocked the remaining two down by £20, and I snapped one up, since I was unwilling, after such a wait, to risk losing a skirt I knew I very much wanted, even if I wasn’t going to pay the full whack for it, in any other situation than it being the last one left. It was worth the long stalk!
Necklace: Monsoon, remixed.
Blouse: Zara. I’d always been a bit leery of blouson-style blouses before — too many horrible 80s memories — but when I thrifted a brown Esprit top for .99, without noticing the elastic hem, I tried it on, and found it was surprisingly flattering, to my eye. So I decided to give this one a shot, when it met the other requirements I had in a silky cream blouse, and again, I’m pretty pleased with how it works.
Skirt: Ralph Lauren, via TK Maxx. VICTORY. Seriously, this is a great skirt. Normally, I don’t much care for unlined wool skirts, but this has some nice stretch to it, and it’s not at all itchy, and, oh hey, I’ve discovered that long, very fitted pencil skirts actually maximize what shape I’ve got in my hips. A practical piece, and endlessly remixable, I’d say.
Lace tights: Can’t recall, one of those brands I only ever see in TK Maxx, and I was very chuffed to find brown lace tights, because they’re exactly what I wanted for this skirt.
In retrospect, I think this jumper may be a little too loosely-fitting for the belt to really work, since I got a lot of bunching, as you can probably tell from the photo. I like the curved shape of the bottom, but it’s also lending itself to the bunching, because I don’t really have the hips to fill it out.
But that’s all OK, because when I put my leather jacket over it, before going out, none of that was apparent, and the outfit looked pretty good. The faint sheerness of the knit and vague visibility of my bra was also compensated for by the jacket, but frankly, I wouldn’t have cared anyway. It wasn’t even close to obscene or truly revealing, and I am seeing undergarments through clothes all the time right now; sheer seems to be in.
Jumper: Pull & Bear, remixed. I really like this! It’s also an incredibly useful item for anybody with as much black/white/grey clothing as I have, since it mixes up a treat with a lot of my other basics.
Belt: Topshop, remixed. This is getting a lot of wear, and breaking in nicely, and I still can’t believe I found this (real leather, and good brass hardware) belt on the clearance rack for £3.
Arm parties: Various, all remixed. If there’s any area of my body I am going to bling the hell out of, it’s my wrists. I love bracelets, and have very little restraint when I start piling them on.
Skirt: Remixed. I cannot recall where I bought this now, but it’s a great addition to my wardrobe. Oh, wait, maybe I can just check my archives, huh? Answer is…Topshop. I was thinking maybe River Island, but that’s where I got the pink one. (Also, they’re very near to each other in central Liverpool; easy mistake to make.)
Tights: M&S, blah, blah, remixed.
Suede wedge booties: Debenhams, remixed. These are turning out to be almost infinitely remixable, crazy useful, and totally comfortable to wear.
Normally, I have serious issues with longer denim skirts. There is absolutely nothing, in my opinion, that can possibly look frumpier than the wrong denim skirt. I can’t even explain what I mean, because I don’t mean to be bitchy or snarky about it, I just know that the wrong kind of denim skirt would make me feel absolutely terrible about how I look, and I am SO surprised that this one I’m wearing didn’t do that. When I pulled it off the rack at the British Heart Foundation shop it should have tripped all my NO NO NO buttons, but something about the way the pleats and the flaring hem worked with the more fitted waist/hip area of the skirt actually worked for me, and in the end, I find myself utterly adoring this skirt, and feeling totally super in it.
Really, this whole outfit should be a total NO for me, but it’s not. I felt amazing in it, and it’s probably my favourite outfit of the week. I will note it looks better in motion than in the photo; the belted shawl moves and drapes very nicely, and didn’t make me look blocky or ridiculous, and the skirt is a total joy to wear. The way the hem sort of flounced around as I walked felt and looked really good. I was joking with the spouse, before I went out, that the whole thing read a bit Scotland the Brave, and he agreed with that, but also said I was totally pulling it off, and should absolutely not even think of changing my clothes. So I didn’t, with no regrets, and here’s yet another example of how stepping out of my comfort zone very, very often gives me something I end up liking, and completely blows my preconceived notions straight out of the water.
Hell, even if the spouse and I are literally the only people on the planet who thought this looked great, I don’t care: I felt great in it, so that’s good enough for me.
Lapis lazuli jewelery: Gifted by spouse on honeymoon, remixed.
Tartan shawl: James Pringle Weavers, thrifted. (This next bit is going to be long.) I bought this at the same time as the denim skirt, and, in fact, slammed the whole outfit together in my head the second I picked this shawl off the rack. I didn’t go looking for the denim skirt, but I did think I needed a fuller midi skirt to wear with it, and the denim one kind of jumped out at me, since I thought it would work well with the maroon/navy/forest green of the tartan shawl.
I have been wanting one of these shawls/serape things for a while, but I’ve been loath to actually buy one new. They seem to be pretty on-trend and all — there are plenty in the retail shops — and I knew, if nothing else, I’d be happy enough to wear it around the house just to keep warm. I was pretty flexible as to colour, but absolutely determined that it had to be a natural fibre, and that’s where the trouble finding something acceptable came in. I looked at a beautiful one in John Lewis the other day, which came in at a very spendy £79. For 100% Acrylic. That gave me a laugh. All the TK Maxx possibilities were either also acrylic, although more reasonably priced, or hideous, or obviously going to make me itch like crazy, or also £79 for totally nondescript neutral shawls that distinguished themselves only by the label on them. Which, fine, I don’t care about the label, but if it’s going to be something so plain, I’d just as soon not pay for that label, you know?
Anyway, about ten minutes after I left TK Maxx, this was literally the first thing I saw as I walked into the charity shop. It’s 100% wool, I love the strong neutral colours in the tartan, it’s in absolutely perfect condition, and it was also £4.50. Sold!
Long-sleeve ribbed black tee: H&M, remixed. Seriously, I just needed a dark neutral, and this did the trick.
Belt: Roma, remixed. Another made in the UK piece.
Skirt: M&S, thrifted. Seriously, a midi-length denim skirt from M&S is quite potentially frump flypaper, but this one actually passes, at least according to me.
Tights: M&S. Alas, these went all baggy ‘round the ankles. Great colour, though.
Given that I am (largely) avoiding buying any clothes in September, I have gone all in on organising and editing what I currently own. (This is prime cashmere-hunting season in my area thrifts, so I will make exceptions if need be, because CASHMERE.) On a whim, I bought one set of drawer organisers, since I’ve long suspected that they don’t really work effectively, but I was willing to invest five quid in finding out. I found out I was wrong; they do work, and they’re far sturdier and easier to use than I would’ve believed. I’m doing it UFYH-style, in short bursts, so I don’t get overwhelmed, and so far, it’s going well.
I love UFYH. My habitat is not in terrible shape, by any means, but I do find UFYH incredibly useful for cues, and encouragement in tackling the nasty jobs I put off. I gave FlyLady a go, a few years back, and while I truly admire what the FlyLady is doing there, and believe her system would work well, I am not a good personality fit for it. The more profane and easy-going style of UFYH is much more my speed. Plus, I get a vicarious thrill from seeing other people’s triumphs pop up on my Tumblr dashboard.
Anyway, onto the clothes. I think the shirt is a bit too long and possibly a bit too big for me to 100% love this ensemble, but that flaw only takes my love down to about 95% or so. I love the colours, and I love this silhouette; I feel as if it’s making a virtue of my rather rectangular shape. I look really tall and straight in this, and I feel good about it. I suppose you could argue that the shirttails are sort of creating a peplum effect, but that’s purely down to camera angle; in motion, this really doesn’t do a thing to conceal the narrowness of my hips. All curves are pretty much viewable only from the side.
I also have fallen hopelessly in love with very fitted below-the-knee pencil skirts. This one I’m wearing in the photo is stretchy ponte, so the lack of a side or back slit doesn’t really impede my stride to an annoying degree. Yes, I do take smaller steps in it, but I kind of liked that; it made me very present in my own body today, and in a positive way. I am also playing retail chicken at TK Maxx with a beautiful mid-calf Ralph Lauren stretch wool one in a lovely shade of brown that would fit very well into my neutrals wardrobe. However, I absolutely will not pay £70 for it, although it’s very well-made, and probably would make a pretty good so-called investment piece. They have 4 of them in my size (and no other, which is kind of the way of TK Maxx) and have for at least a week or two now, so I’m hopeful at least one of them will make it to the clearance rack in the end.
Pullover: Deane & White, remixed. (Pretty recently, too; this is a good weight for this time of year, and the 3/4 sleeves are excellent for that as well.)
Watch pendant: Urban Outfitters, remixed. I initially had a shorter complimentarily-coloured bead necklace on with this, but I thought it pushed into Frumpville, so I switched to the long pendant. Glad I did.
Skirt: Topshop. I expect you’ll see this frequently this winter.
Switching the formula around a bit today with a midi dress. It’s not quite as luridly coloured as it is in the photo, but yeah, it’s definitely bright. I felt the need for a cheery colour, after a rather challenging morning, in which our router died, and I spent entirely too much time with tech support on the phone. The end result is that a new router is on its way, and I am currently leaching my in-laws’ wifi. (They live next door, and we have a mutual leaching-if-necessary agreement.)
Then I went out and did stuff, came home, and turned (most of) the compost, among other messy garden chores. It started raining, so I left the worms remaining in the old heap in peace for the rest of the evening, and holy crap, there are a LOT of them. (This is an excellent, albeit kind of gross, thing! The lower reaches of the heap are full of magnificent worm-casing-rich compost.) I expect the birds nesting in our garden will feast on the ones unfortunate enough to not make it safely back into the depths of the compost before being spotted.
Probably more than you wanted to know about our back garden fauna.
Denim jacket: Gap, thrifted, remixed, etc.
Necklace: Boots, remixed.
Dress: Vintage Dorothy Perkins, thrifted. (I got this for a quid!)
Oh look, it’s that jacket again. I love it, and with this endlessly bloody cold spring we’re experiencing, it’s getting far more wear right now than I anticipated when I thrifted it. I was expecting to put it away for autumn, but I haven’t even seriously considered doing the seasonal change-around (and culling) yet.
Now, to this skirt. I am trying to adapt to the midi trend, and I do keep seeing things I like, but still, when I put one on, most of the time, I feel almost intolerably dowdy. I do like this skirt — or at least I like the print, the fabric, and the way it looks on the hanger — but once on, I don’t like it so much. So it’s going back to the thrift pond, and the fact that it’s just WAY too big in the waist is a help in making the decision, because there’s so much about this skirt I love, and if it fit better, I might’ve had it shortened to just above the knee. It may not be showing in the photo, but there are tasteful sequins and embroidering amongst the print, and that, along with the sheer quality of construction and materials, is what convinced me to give it a go in the first place. It’s not working for me, and it’s going away, but it was a worthy experiment.
Jacket: Thrifted, remixed.
Jumper: H&M, remixed. There’s a closely-fitting cami under this, also from H&M, and also remixed, for modesty and warmth. The skirt’s loose waistband meant I couldn’t rely on it to stay in place.
Necklace: Boots, remixed. Another unexpected, happy find.
Skirt: Joseph, thrifted.
Microfishnets: M&S, and into the bin with them, as I blew out the toe in one.