Closet Reformation: A pre-study in feasibility

So it feels quite recent, but it really has been months (years?) since any real blog entry. Oh, this is not to suggest that this is the real thing either. But we have to start somewhere! What did Dante say about the lower foot being always the firm one... Or perhaps this is Penelope weaving her blog.

Perhaps your year has been going great too. As je suis snuggled in a kimono robe with a cup of sage tea with honey...Aaaaaand: No. I wish. The sage is just a few feet away on the balcony, though. The gallon of honey is in the pantry. But, after a hectic day of a hectic several months (years?), I am finally seeing the light of day (or glow of moon?). This can do weird things to an extrovert. I crave calm. Solitude, even.

Feasibility pre-study


This little piggy was overwhelmed by excess and became inspired by a very old post about creating a wardrobe inventory,  The task or decreasing the wardrobe, however, has moved quite slowly. Surely the wonderful full-time job, side studies, side projects, huge family, and full-time relationships take precedence. This project needs to start. When? Years ago. But it will move depending on whether there is time left over from more important things. 

Need for the closet reformation project

Funny enough, it's days when I'm too busy to think about clothes, that remind me why I started considering, let a long attempting to operationalize this project in the first place. But more often than not, simplicity is really the best solution. Being tired when I come back from work has also made me realize that the fewer things I have in the house, the easier it is to keep things neat and clean. There are just fewer things to deal with. I guess maybe my knack for accumulating things can be attributed to habit. I wonder if it's true for most people.

Moi in this wonderful little place with the best rose-water macarons
I carried all of my things in that purse on the right for the week-long trip

Things that bring you joy

"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
-William Morris

A recent trip abroad really put things in perspective on this one. I had the best tea, the best crepe, the best pastries, and the "party" night out than I've had in quite a long time with a friend. I traveled with only one bag: my roomy handbag that I've had since early undergrad. These are things that bring joy.
Material things that bring me joy are:
Good sunglasses
Plants/ my container potager city garden
Hand-embroidered linens
Vintage china/teacups
Very nice fabrics: in linens and clothes alike
Very nicely constructed clothes of pleasant materials (see above)
My books on plants, neuroscience, other science and math classics, embroidery, anything in Italian
Comfortable shoes (far more into Tods flats and the good old Birks than Louboutin stitettos)
Vintage jewelry, which I can't wear for long due to an allergy
Fine jewelry, which I can actually wear without getting a rash

Know thyself a little

I'm not a handbag person. I wish I were sometimes. This may mean that marketers are good at their jobs. This may be because I really want a classic, navy or black Chanel and a Birkin. At some point I almost bought a speedy. But, I simply cannot justify these purchases. Every time I think of how many people I could feed or send to school and just end up saving or donating the money or a combination of the two.

Certainly, this little piggy does not intend to fall into the "too comfortable to look presentable" part of the graph. While traveling for a week, I was in comfort the whole time in flats and structured knits.  For regular life however, what is the sweet spot where the wishful fancy meets the practicality?

We're not going all Simone de Beauvoir sartorially. You know the famous quote, "Au lieu d'adapter mes projets à la réalité, je les poursuivais, envers et contre tout, tenant le réel pour un simple accessoire." This closet project is not the point itself, but the accessory to the greater point, to live a life well lived.

The questions for this project may be:
Where is the overlap between the intended effect for the appropriate cost? The effect would be the look, for example, and the cost would be the effort, maintenance, time, comfort, and everything else that is spent on getting dressed.
What are my basics? Are they working? 
Why even downsize on clothes and books, etc?

Challenges of a closet reformation project

Let's face it, after 11 or so hours at the office/lab(s), it can be a challenge to muster the motivation for anything besides a cup of tea or water depending on the season. Still, time must be made for social interaction, so dinner with friends and phone calls with family have been taking priority. Then off to read papers in preparation for writing/planning/discussing future work (important homework).

While I like nearly all of my things, I do keep grabbing the same few items all the time. Even when I had that gorgeous dress hemmed, so I could walk around in it, i have not worn it for (irrational) fear of ruining it. It sits in front of all of my other things. My basket of neatly rolled t-shirts has stayed there all fall, winter, spring, and now summer. Only three of them are in rotation, really.

Luckily, this closet is still focused on quality - well made things that could last lifetimes with proper care.

Next step?

Perhaps next we should handle the real feasibility questions. The economics of this project are much more based on time and energy expenditures, including mental energy (cognitive depletion?). So, how much time would this project undertake? What  does a realistic timeline look like? How much effort can I realistically apply? Could the available resources be used to attain an acceptable outcome?


Modern Winter Whites

J'ai eu envie de faire a proper post for quite a while now. In waiting to have the time to sit and write at length has left us with a long hiatus in posting.  Je suis glad to be back and missed you all. 

Due to the routine lately, it seems that mon sensibilities have become more minimalistic, or perhaps more streamlined. Perhaps more modern? This is surprising, considering how beautiful and practical layered looks can be. Lately, however, white shirts and simple jewelry have become de rigueur in mon New England winter uniform. It's all happened rather subconscious and might turn to layers of black and navy cashmere.


Closet Reformation: The Steps

Images from: The Sartorialist, Stockholm Streetstyle, Karla's Closet, Altamira Models Off Duty, and TIME magazine.

Not so recently came across a fantastic blog-post by Stephanie Wong, the mind behind the blog onesleeplessnight. I have been considering engaging some of this advice, not out of a necessity to better manage my assets, but more of a necessity to completely milk out my time allowances, given a crazy busy life with less and less time for personal interests and relationships. Perhaps what would allow many women to decrease spending, may also allow one to decrease time-spending. Yes, Time. Our time that we have while we are alive, on earth, which is invariably finite and running out every second.

Our time spent browsing a shop is time not spent on higher priority items that pay much more in the long-term. Time consuming can be time taken away from those very things that you hold in higher priority, like relationships, networking, family, fitness, studying, career, finally writing that book, or starting that company, or reading that book.

The anti-consumerist list includes five useful pieces of advice on reducing unnecessary sartorial over-consumption and regaining the sanity of balance. Yes, we who live in this culture seem to have to actually put in effort to become aware and act upon the awareness of what we do not actually need.
The list includes tips such as:
1.Reducing consumption of fashion media
2.Embracing uniforms and formulaic approaches
3.Creating and following a list of essentials, to which I would add, 3-B. Separating the nees from the wants, by creating a fancyful but well-edited wish-list.
4.Refraining from impulse buys, and
5.Planning and enforcing a shopping ban (I know, this last one is cruel).

1. Ok, so reducing consumption of fashion media, is rather challenging, especially given the awesome new blogs out there. They are so good that you feel you are wasting time by not reading them. It's your information-age-craze talking. Stay faithful to a small number and only add a new one if you break up with an old one. WE will start with this one. The image above is a sampler of my blog-reading staples. The well-established Sartorialist,

2. As for embracing uniforms, This blog has certainly helped re-shape my way of thinking from the 80-20 problem, closer to the 80-80 solution. For those not familiar, the 80-20 problem is the finding that most American women wear only 20% of our wardrobes about 80% of the time. The goal is to increase usefulness and decrease cost-per-wear by wearing 80% of items 80% of the time.

3. The most procrastinated upon item is by far, is creating a list of essentials and 3-B. Separating it from a wish list. Even creating a super well edited wish list, is partically impossible, because the target is always moving. We can be more fickle than we would like to admit.

Number 4. can be hard to and takes time to break. But 5.Enforcing a shopping ban is plain harsh to most of us. The truth is that all of these steps are in some stage of development. They can be seen as ideals, which no one has to achieve completely. I might have been in an inadvertent shopping ban without being conscious of it. Save for the occasional foodie indulgence, very few things seen to actually be worthy of my hard-earned resources, lately. Even that fantastic Hermes icon, the Birkin, for which I have saved a few times, did not seem worth the small fortune once the item was in front of me.

I wonder if the austerity trend is passing as our economy is improving. I stepped into H&M this weekend and found some super awesome looking designs, but in uncomfortable, poor quality materials. Have we moved in any direction from our fast-fashion culture?


La Copine


Wardrobe Staples: Silk Shirt Pt III

After a very long pause, blogging again feels almost like a diary of sorts. Lots of things have changed. Ma recherche d'un logement est terminée pour aujourd'hui. With house-hunting and settling down resolved, je vis dans une auberge. La chambre que j'ai occupée is small, but large enough for now.

Aside from practicing my near-east languages, learning some statistical techniques, getting better at my job, maintaining all of my crucial relationships over long distances, increasing data-work speed, figuring out the shortest commute, indoor gardening, and copious travel... well, the train of thought has left the station.

Here are these pants that have become routine on non-work days. Frankly, I think they work for my office, where, even supervisors, wear tank tops and lace tights. I would wear them if certain colleagues were busy enough with their own matters to measure me with the same stick as they do everyone else. I think that the top makes the pants less rock& roll.

If I were left with only 6 items of clothing again, like the "6 Items or Less" challenge, this blouse and shoes would certainly be included.


Old Thing


This is what I wore today:

Before I realized that it would rain.

And this is why I love this dress, which I also accidentally wore to the sweetest wedding on Friday, then to Work, on Monday with black blazer, cardi, stockings, and shoes and today with a




Yesterday, j'ai vu la long pleated skirt most perfectly beautiful. Je thought, "Oh, if it were only available... Oh, wait! There is this long and nice silk skirt inside ma garde-robe since junior year (of high school!). In fact, said skirt has only been worn a handful of times. Why would the idea of buying one be so automatic? Holy geese!"

Well, "Holy geese!" it is was. Some of my most admired blog owners are not controlled by the overtly consumerist propaganda. It seems like aforementioned bloggers, however, are either self-declared francophiles or French. I am neither. Nevermind the bits aléatoires de la langue française on this blog. Oui, j'ai appris un peu français avec de mes amis d'enfance. Even if I dream of taking the scroungiest job in Paris just so that I could at least live there, (too weird?).... That is where francophilia stops for me: No méthode française. Yes, even more blasphemy. This blog seems to be high-doing on this kind of language.

But I digress. The truth is maybe too painfully embarrassing: The long black silk skirt, that i was going to re-buy after  I saw it on a number of fashion and style publications (blogs, magazines) is only one of many an unnecessary dysfunctional possession inside the garde-robe. For somebody who favors minimalist blogs, like Austere, it's hard to know what to make of this nouvellement conscients pattern.

The sudden awareness of how vulnerable one can be to subconscious consumerism can be a little unsettling. It disrupts one's illusion of free will. So, aujourd'hui, j'ai looked at the wardrobe, and said, "J'ai assez de choses. There is simply more than enough here."


-La Copine


Blue dress


A post by, perhaps, my favorite blog(ger),OneSleeplessNight, who was in turn inspired by Ines de la Fressange's Parisian Chic, is the perfect backdrop for the following list. Said list was actually inspired by an article from Vogue Nov 2007 title "On Having Enough". This is what I am wishing, right now, to make of my wardrobe:
1. A handful of tailored blazers in dark colors, one or two in a bright primary color and in beige. 3. Dresses. dresses. dresses. 2. Six or seven pairs of trousers, from navy to beige, and two or three really fun pairs, tailored but very comfortable to travel, walk, and run for the train. 3. About five skirts, some with volume and some fitted. 4. A pile of cashmere sweaters and cardigans in blacks, browns, navy, and various fun colors. 5. Some bags: brown patent Cole Haan that looks gorgeous, fits my laptop and anything necessary for a weekend away, flushed Arcadia tote, and a bunch of fabric totes to carry purchased goods. 6. Men's shoes, flats of various kinds, some eccentric sneakers, and boots. 7. A small pile of hats in brown and black. 8. Jewelry: vintage, faux, and real. My absolute favorite ring is probably not real and I wear it almost daily.


Today's Outfit


This dress exemplifies a rather unusual behavioral pattern pour moi; an impulsive luxury. This dress may very well be my only impulsively chosen luxury item. It is an example of subconscious changes leading to behavioral changes. It was acquired along with a very couture leopard silk cropped jacket. The jacket went back to the store in one day. I still wonder if I should have kept the jacket. The dress has stayed in the closet. In the store it was just the best thing, absolutely perfect. In my wardrobe, it never seemed appropriate for any occasion.

Last night I needed the hanger and, absentmindedly, put it on a hanger over a white shirt that was already on it. Place the giant, vintage, men's cardigan that I was given when I volunteered for a local fund-raiser this weekend, and voila!
I can see the dress twinkle knowingly, in a pretty accent, "You see? I can go many places."


On Trend

Inspiraition Collage Late Summer
Sources for all collages on this post: The Sartorialist, jcrew.com, Parisian Chic, The Glamourai, Altamira: Models Off Duty, Closet Visit,  StockholmStreetStyle. If I've missed a source, please let me know.

It catches you almost by surprise, the idea of radical change. Peering into your reflection is almost like peering into a window almost voyeuristically. There, the object of voyeurism person is the voyeur herself. Peoplewatching.

Those changes happen subconsciously. Unexplainably. Gradually. Unexpectedly. A voice sobers the radically changed image, "Most of our personal decisions are made subconsciously. The phenomenon of awareness lets us rationalize the decisions that we made before being aware of them. But neuroimaging data presents that the ancient animal part of the brain makes the motion first. Then the exclusively human part makes sense of it... or tries."

Doubtlessly the bloggers and stylistas of the world are making certain items nearly irresistible. For many. I can't deny that I'm inspired and spend precious time making collages of these fantastic looks. But, for some reason, they stay in the computer screen, never to cross the virtual world into my physical expression. Maybe this reluctance to start imitating is the reason why my quest to develop and maintain a style is somewhere between non-punctual and never-ariving.

Perhaps it has to do with a long-established penchant for rebelliousness. For some reason, I avoid anything horizontal striped. Maybe it it the association with Picasso'ish breton tops that everyone else seems to be loving. This is despite having worn a white and navy striped long-sleeve tee almost every three days last summer. it is strange, for such frequent traveler, this item gets packed on for every trip but never sees the light of day. The same goes for my beautiful, high-quality, great-fitting, favorite fabric red pants. They were absolute favorites last fall and the fall before last fall. Said previously outrageously red pants used to get stares in the sweet and polite world. Being now trendy, it turns out they are staying in one of my three extra armoires in the basement.

It is undeniable that both of these trendy items actually make sense. They make sense even despite the fickleness of fashion. The striped tee is, actually, a long established classic. It is almost plain, but very interesting. Then there are perfectly chosen red pants. They are unexpectedly versatile, making the raggiest of rags look stylish. From all the red, however, I'm starting to turn to blue and yellow and everything but red and stripes.
Summer for FW

I'm starting to crave graphic black and white, vintage Italian knits, and menswear or metallic flat shoes.
Inspiration Collage Black White Camel

Are you craving anything un-fashion lately? Have you felt like wearing all black in a tropical country, bright colors in the land of black, and business classic in a casual place?  I sure do. Perhaps because I should not?

-La Copine