Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Know Thyself

No, I am not preaching some religious sermon ladies.
I am preaching probably the most important rule in building a workable, practical wardrobe where the clothes in it spend more time on your back than in your closet.

By knowing who you are & what your preferred style is, you can buy items that work with you & your figure and your existing wardrobe pieces. Say goodbye to that horrid situation where you open the closet doors in the morning & staring back at you is a mountain of items, overstuffed but all you can say is "I have nothing to wear."

I also advocate buying duplicates especially if the item is a core piece for you & has worked well in your wardrobe so far. My father would be horrified & claims this is just a typical woman's excuse to spend more money. Well I totally disagree. If its a basic piece that you know you will wear often, then go & grab another, say in another colour. For example, if the Saba black pants fit like they were made for you, go & grab the camel pair...or.....even another black pair. Trust me, NO ONE will notice they are the same.

But dont do what I did a few years ago - I bought both items at once. I delayed wearing them for a few months. When i started wearing them, I realised I had made a mistake - they didnt fit as well outside the change room as I originally thought. It was too late to take them back & so I was stuck with two duds. Ooops.

Always buy one, wear it to death ASAP for about a week - then, while the other colours are there, go grab the other one.

I dont think the duplicate strategy works well on "special" items - prints, unusual shapes & trend driven items. People remember these easily & if you turn up with the other colour, it may look like you have limited imagination. And we all know that's not the case, dont we?

& dont forget, the ability to return items is one of the reasons I please forever love and allegiance to our Australian department stores Myer & DJs - keep your docket & it can go back with ease, whether its a week later or alot later.

Another tip to make possible returns easier is to keep the tags on the garment until the day you actually wear it out of the house. Remove the tag only on the day the item walks out of the house with you. Just in case, you decide to try it on in the morning and then choose to wear something else instead, then leave the tag ON. In case that happens again, at least the tags are attached so you can return it. After all, if you're not wearing it out of the house, its the best sign that it wasn't meant to be in your wardrobe. By leaving the tags on, you stand a better chance of being allowed a return.

I digress...back to Know Thyself.

Everyone who knows me knows I have a shoe room. Yes, a spare bedroom with many many many shoes. All in their original boxes, stacked in categories, black evening, black work pumps, navy work pumps, brown work pumps, other coloured work pumps, dark ballet flats, coloured ballet flats, black loafers, navy loafers, red loafers, other loafers. Before you get jealous, unlike most girls, my boot collection totals three. So now we're even.

Know Thyself applied to Valerie is about comfort & not too much glitch. Love pumps, loafers & ballet shoes. Hate strappy sandals (no matter how much Sex & The City promotes them), hate mules, have peep toes, dont particularly like stilettos, unless occasionally for evening.
But my shoe collection allows me to always have a pair that looks right for me & works with everything else I have.

Cue a 2009 purchase from David Jones.....Lili cork wedge in navy patent.
They were 50% off, but at Australian prices, that is not a bragging point.

Here are my babies....



I wore them to death & they still look new.
With jeans, with skirts, with 3/4 pants, full length pants, dresses, absolutely everything. Just perfect.

Notice they dont have any horizontal straps? Deliberate my dears, to lengthen my foot - works a treat. The other bonus is that the heel hasnt worn at all because the weight is evenly distributed along the sole - unlike my pumps whose heels need replacing every 12 months because I wear my babies hard.

So what do you do when something wears well for you? You read my blog & you go out & try and fine a duplicate. but fashion is fast folks - no duplicate to be found (apart from ebay where I was watching quite a few pairs & whose price wasnt going any more south than I had originally paid)

So - I remembered that designers will often tweak a style if it sells well & repeat it the following season.....bingo! Lili was tweaked into Ida.

Black patent in a loafer style vamp, (again) round toe, with a rubber wedge. Different but the same. Or very similar.

Voila, here is Ida!



In fact, the main point of difference is that these put a spring in my step, no joke - the rubber sole cushions your foot when you walk - how good is that?

The other point of difference is that these were from ebay, no box, worn once (you'd never know) and were $130AU. Bargain. Absolute bargain.

Now that its getting colder, the Ida is the first shoe I reach for when I am running errands or working. The first version was a winner - its almost guaranteed that the second version will be too.

Ode to the wedge
- great way to gain height without sacrificing comfort
- can be dressy or casual
- the platform gives extra protection to the uppers from scrapes, so they last longer
- the low vamp keeps them looking ladylike and not blok-ey & clumpy (unlike other loafers)

It looks like Kate Middleton shares my love for closed to wedges - in the form of a black patent version with an espadrille heel. Witness the day before the wedding with mum & Pippa.



and the day after the wedding



These are SO Kate - yes, she seems to have developed her own style. They are SS 2008 LK Bennett priced at 130 pounds.

I LOVE the fact that she keeps her stuff a long time. Truly the best way to get value from an item, rather than throwing it away after one season. Funny thing - LK Bennett is repeating the style in June this year. Nothing like a princess endorsement to skyrocket a style...

I LOVE the fact that there is an espadrille version of my fave shaped shoe. How fresh & summery & how different but the same. How moi.

Now readers - lets look at Chelsy Davey - Prince Harry's on & off again girlfriend (apparently now back on & she has re-located to London).

If it has to be said, Chelsy is a bit of a skank. Her appearance is not consistent, she favours showing skin, often cleavage and she doesnt look polished and pulled together. Before you go & excuse her by saying she is bohemian, know that I disagree. Whilst she is more bohemian than Kate (that wouldnt be hard!), Chelsy excels in looking scruffy in an unintended way. ie: messy!
Contrast a true bohemian look where the look is intended.



Ripped jeans, scuffed torn boots, tummy bulge.



This was her first day at the queen's law firm doing work experience. Bad choices.
Too tight, pot belly, unmatched separates, scruffy shoes.



Skank in a hat.



Look at the condition of the boots & the toes especially. Yuck Try again.



Pot belly, uncared for boots, scruffy belt.



No bra, boho dress, not the sort of girl you'd take home to meet the Queen....

Even at the recent royal wedding she looked like she had just come out of the pub - in a custom made designer Alberta Ferretti dress & jacket, of all things.



Frankly, the last shoe on this earth I can imagine Chelsy trying on is Kate's espadrille wedge. But she did. Or at least, she tried on a very similar pair - but in suede, with a higher wedge from The Office for 60 pounds.



Chelsy - Know Thyself - these are not your style of shoe. If you buy these, they will sit in your closet unworn. Dont be that girl! Well she walked out empty handed with her ultra casual white sneakers still on her feet - maybe she does know thyself after all.

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