Monday, November 15, 2010
Express Lane Challenge: Post-Game Wrap-Up
In retrospect, this challenge (wearing only 12 items of clothing for 4 weeks) was easier than I thought it would be. I had a few days of feeling constrained or not quite in sync with some very changeable weather, but for the most part I think I chose my pieces well and made them work.
I wore everything at least once, except for the taupe tunic. Just never worked that one in. I strayed outside of my twelve pieces twice but was back in bounds the next day each time. I did end up staying within the challenge for our work presentation last week; I'd been clued in that none of the other monthly presenters had been doing Full Corporate Drag, so I wore the skirt, black tunic tank with rust cardigan, accessorized with tights, boots and scarf, and felt perfectly appropriate. And extremely comfortable!
Wendy B asked last week, (in a nutshell) "why bother?" That's a valid question and I'll try to answer. Un, I've always aspired to a smaller, well-edited and better quality wardrobe. Perhaps it's my fascination with the French aesthetic, or maybe just some of the values I was raised with coming to the fore. Deux, I've often scrambled around in the mornings trying to put together a coherent ensemble from the myriad pieces in my closet, and love the idea a simpler, more coherent garde-robe. Honestly, I just get overwhelmed by too many choices. But I've had trouble putting these ideas into practice, and was wondering if maybe I've just been paying lip service to something that I'm really not committed to. So the challenge gave me a perfect (and finite) framework in which to really test it out on and for myself.
1. My dream of a well-edited, workable wardrobe is a viable one. My goal is a ratio of 70% "simple chic" workhorse pieces like the ones I chose for the challenge, and the rest as "icing" garments which are more fun/frivolous/twisted, and that don't necessarily have to coordinate with everything else. Those pieces were what I missed wearing most during the challenge weeks. (Examples of "icing" pieces would be my Hero Jacket or my Suva Wear printed tees. While these aren't items I'd wear every day, I enjoy having them available when the mood strikes.)
2. Knit pencil skirt is my new BFF. (Edited to add: the one I have--Eileen Fisher--doesn't seem to be available any more on the EF website, but I did find it at Neiman Marcus, here. The foldover version still available at eileenfisher.com is similar in fabric and cut, except for the foldover waist which allows you to adjust the length.)
3. Eileen Fisher pieces will probably continue to be the foundation of my wardrobe, even once I've hit my goal weight, as they coordinate well, travel well, fit my "simple chic" aesthetic, provide good quality and durability, and the long-over-lean silhouette works for my proportions. (And I'm really liking many items in their current and upcoming collections, more on this later.)
4. I've done way too much "consolation" buying. (Thank you, Duchesse, for articulating this so clearly in your post last week.) There's a whole lot of "I-can't-find-the-perfect-little-black-dress...ooh-look-a-cardigan!" purchases taking up space in my closet. As well as the dreaded, "It'll Do's."
5. Quality, quality, quality. Those little J.Crew cotton sweaters are fun, but like cotton candy, don't satisfy over time.
6. I need to more stringently apply the "do I love it?" litmus test when considering purchases.
And to switch sports, a bit of Monday Morning Quarterbacking...
The Talbots pink coat has been returned. As some of you suggested I tried it with pants, buttoned up, standing on my head, but ultimately it just didn't work. Had it been just a bit longer, and cut more narrowly, and without those big patch pockets it MIGHT have been a keeper. Add to the list of items that are great in concept, just not for me.
Picture at top from here.