Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Capture the Capsule

So I’ve been living the capsule wardrobe for a couple of months now.  I’m working my way through Summer and I’m starting to think of Autumn.  Actually, I started thinking about all of the seasons back when I committed to giving the capsule wardrobe a go for a whole month.

And how has it been?  In one word, and I’ve used it before, liberating.  I don’t feel constrained with shopping for the latest look.  I don’t feel constrained with the type of look I’m going for.  I don’t feel constrained in presenting the right image.  I just choose – business or casual, shaved legs or not.

It hasn’t been a quick process.  Creating a capsule requires a lot of planning and focus.  And a lot of compromises and decisions, especially in the beginning.

But, as I settled into a capsule wardrobe, both in building it and using it, I had fun. 

Firstly – in the planning.  What piece/s of clothing do I need?  How am I going to use it – casual or business, flats or heels, dry-cleaned or machine-washed, on its own or with a third piece.  Which acceptable colours from my Zyla colour palette does it need to be?  What’s the budget?

Second – in the shop
a.) Hold up my Zyla paint chips and walk around the shop.  No match, don’t bother.
b.) Found something?  Does it suit all of the above requirements?
c.) Try it on… Love it on first sight or leave it.
d.) Scrutinise it… how does it fit?  Is it alterable?
e.) Confirm it… try it on with the other pieces in my wardrobe, try it on with the different shoes.  Walk around the shop – am I strutting like a peacock or am I pulling and tugging and adjusting and flapping?

Third – style it.
While I might have had a particular look in mind when I bought the piece of clothing, I also have to think of the other possibilities.  Scarves, necklaces, tucking, tieing, belting, layering, shoes, bags – ok, ok not endless possibilities, but a lot.

The experience has been fun and liberating…

Planning is my thing.  No brainer there.

It suits the level of shopping that I like to do – concentrated, intense, focused and limited in time to allow an iced chocolate at the end and a guilt-free trip back home to my kids.

As for styling, given my extreme lack of styling savvy, this was the perfect way for me to explore styling techniques and discover my personal style without feeling overwhelmed and inadequate.  

Knowing that all the colours worked well together; knowing that each piece of clothing fit me perfectly and made me feel like a million dollars, it was just a matter of trying out a style.  There were definitely some fails along the way.  

A month of outfit photographing allowed me to critique my style choices and see on the screen what worked and what didn’t.  On the same page as the outfits that worked, the ones that didn’t work really stood out.

For the month of January, I made it a point to not wear the same two pieces together in the whole month.  I did the maths – I had enough combinations to last the month without repeating any combination.  But, in actual fact, once you introduce styling into the foray, the capsule wardrobe can offer an amazing amount of “outfits” as you can wear each combination of clothing in multiple ways.

For example, I’ve taken the basic white tee and tight blue jeans and styled them 6 ways.  Given that it is Summer, I’ve kept accessories such as scarves to a minimum because it’s just too hot.  But, imagine how many more looks you could get if you had numerous scarves!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A week in review : Rewards and recognitions.

A few snippets of my week.

A perfect cup of tea enjoyed while still steaming hot.
Who doesn't enjoy seeing a little one stuffing their face?
A culinary experiment gone right.
A lovely afternoon in the park.
A sweet reward for my wonderful Little Miss M.  So deserved - she's such a great big sister.
A quiet break.
A thank you gift for my favourite makeup/skin care advisor.
And one more that brought a tear to my eye : Baby Mac, after chewing thoughtfully on a piece of bread, announces at the table "Mom, you..you..you.. (she's stuttering a bit at the moment)... you're the best mom in the whole wide world."

How amazeballs is that?!?  I'm so lucky.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tuesday's Treat : Le Croissant Patisserie Francaise

Set in the middle of business buildings, this little unassuming shop is a gem of a find.

One drizzly day, I jumped out of my car and ran into the shop and was assailed by a scrumptious sweet buttery smell.  It was feast for my nose before my eyes could adjust and pop out of its socket at the beautiful sight before me.  Two counters filled with gastronomical delights.

After some serious deliberation, I chose the coffee meringue, the raspberry cheesecake and crème patisserie filled puff pastry.  (Two for me, one for my three kids to share!  Gluttonous and greedy?  Oh yeah!)

The coffee meringue was a delicate balance of sugary goodness in the meringue and buttery delight in the coffee buttercream.  A lovely crunch amongst a velvety smoothness.

The raspberry cheesecake was a delight.  Dense, not too sweet with a bite of tartness.

And the crème patisserie filled with puff pastry – what a sensation.  A light, crispy, flaky, buttery puff pastry with an explosion of crème patisserie to follow.  A loved one by both kids and adults.  I’m sorry Michele’s – there is no comparison.

This was definitely a luxury - to the lips, hips and wallet.  But for those who appreciate a gastronomical delight, it is a must.

PS.  There were some savoury bites available as well, but that will have to wait until next time (if I can get past the glorious sweet treats).

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A week in review :- toddler yoga, a pretty daddy and sisterly chat

Very photo heavy, but there are so many moments that have tugged on my heart strings.  It's daughter-centric this week.

I will say that there were probably just as many screaming moments as there were heart string moments, but I usually don't think of picking up the camera in the middle of a fight.

The many faces of my heart

- Toddler Yoga.
- Tent fun; pretty daddy; playground fun.
- New skill - drawing.

My indulgences this week - coffee thick shake and sewing.
- chocolate.
- coffee shop.
- a future local indulgence spot.

Sisterly Love "Let's chat."

Let's not forget - Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My wardrobe - Limited, Capsuled, Altered, and Zyla'd

My wardrobe

A while ago, I had simplified my wardrobe.  Jeans, t-shirts, runners.  Yep – simplified.

And, as “young” mum, I was happy with this.  “Young Mum” in her thirties, huh?  So, let’s explain something first.  For most of my thirties, I think I’ve been stuck in my twenties.  Both in my mind and in how I look. 

What do I mean by this, really?  Well, we all know how most twenty-year-olds dress.  Body confidence is high (or ignorant!).  Happy to be sloppy like a uni student; happy to dress up in a little black dress to party on; happy to don a sexy suit and glasses and face the corporate world.  No problems over here.  Except my body is no longer as pert as it was in twenties.  Imagine that – carrying three babies to full term apparently does that do you!

Also, this twenty year old used to think that life was one big role play.  Throw on my corporate suit – and bam – I’m the corporate bitch.  Give me a promotion?  Hahaha – fooled you into thinking that I’m actually a responsible person, mature enough to be in charge of these important things.  Suckers!  Move out of home?  Let’s play domestic goddess.  Carry around a baby – yeah, I’m just a cool young mom. 

Until, slowly but surely, so slowly that I didn’t even notice, I actually took on the responsibility of being a mom and raising children.  It became part of who I am and hit me to the core to worry about how my kids are growing up and merging into the world.   

And just like that, I stepped into adulthood.

Now, I want how I look, how I present myself, to reflect the responsibilities that are on my shoulders.  That I am a wife, that I am a mother to three girls, that I am one of the money-makers in this family, that I am in charge of how we live our lives.  And that I’m thriving and happy with all that I am.

And for me (as it is a very individual thing), jeans and t-shirts no longer cut it.  People are treating me like a teenage mum, as if I stepped into motherhood without the benefit of life experiences.  And I want to look in the mirror and not feel like a teenage mum!

And so, I was due for a wardrobe overhaul!  And, you know me, I can’t just buy new clothes.  Let’s approach this logically and efficiently – hahaha! 

Side note : thanks to my sis who provided all of these inspirations and led me on the path of clothing obsession.

So, this is where I am now. 

I have a capsule wardrobe.  The concept of where I can pick my clothes in the dark and have the absolute confidence that it will look fantastic on me. 

I have a limited capsule wardrobe –  x number of pieces that will get me through each season and support 95% of my life situations. 

I have a Zyla capsule wardrobe, where the colour of each piece of clothing is chosen to represent a different mood.

I have a fit-to-size Zyla capsule wardrobe where every piece of clothing fits perfectly and present my body in the most aesthetically pleasing way.

Ok – this is what I am aiming for.  Given the strict requirement each piece of clothing needs to fulfill and the fact that I am about the height of a 12 year old with body measurements ranging from prepubescent to latino voluptuousness, the wardrobe is taking it’s time.  And in amidst all of this, I am also trying to define my own personal style to reflect how I feel about me and where I am in life.

This is where I am so far.  Here is a month’s worth of outfits using these 16 pieces of clothing and no combination of clothing was repeated…

Please note : - some of the outfits were a fail, but it’s more around the styling.  I am more than happy to wear the pieces together again, just in a different way.

What do you think so far?

The wardrobe is not yet complete as I have to find a trouser replacement for one of the pairs of jeans and it needs to be appropriate for work.  I also have to replace the green top with something that is in my Zyla colour and is appropriate for work.

Otherwise, this experiment has truly been liberating.  I feel fabulous in the clothes that I have and I was having a lot of fun trying out different ways to style every outfit.

Current basic wardrobe
6 x tops – white tee, blue tee, pink tee, green tee, white blouse, white shirt
4 x bottoms – tight jeans, loose jeans, white shorts, white skirt
2 x dresses – brown knitted dress, polka dot dress
2 x cardi/blazer – brown cardigan, white blazer
1 x suit – brown pants and blazer

Monday, February 10, 2014

A week in review : determination, indulgence and growing up

Just a small snippet of treasured memories in the week just past, captured on film.  Thanks for dropping by!

Baby Mac - determined to race; cast be damned.
Ms A growing up - reading and making a mess.
Daddy and his princesses.
Home-baked and store bought indulgences - lemon muffins and bubble tea.

I hope there were many treasured moments in your week!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Denim, denim, denim. Suh-weeeet Denim!

You know what?  I have a beautiful body.  It’s perfect. 

It has carried and borne my Dear Husband and I three gorgeous and healthy girls.  It has fed them exclusively for the first six months of their life. 

It carries me from A to B without hardship.  It allows me to go about my day with a spring in my step, which brings a smile to my face, which then translates to an even springier spring. 

If treated with respect, it glows and shines and stretches and bends and it has fine-tuned it’s five senses (and it’s sixth wink wink) so that I can truly enjoy the life that I am living.

However, in the society I live in, it is not even close to perfect.  Why do I say that?  I’m not referring to the endless media that parades, in the same breath, that it values diversity yet only advertises on their big bulletin boards and glossy magazine pages, tall skinny long limbed (but still beautiful) women.  While that media doesn’t help, it’s not the cause of my comment. 

The ultimate cause for me to recognize that society does not deem my body perfect is the clothing that the said society offers to me. 

I am 4’8”.  I am not short, nor am I totally petite.  My body proportions range from size 4 to size 10.  The only thing that I am not is tall (unless you ask my kids). 

Tops and dresses are too long and too loose and have bust points that land on my waist.  Trousers are, again too long and have a crotch that always do funny things halfway down my thighs. 

And jeans – in my experience, alongside jackets and coats, jeans are the worst offenders.  Jeans are very subtle in delivering their message about my society-driven imperfections. 

So many experts say that if you’re a petite and on the shorter side then find a pair of jeans that fit your hips and hem the length accordingly.  Total cost = jeans + $15 (alterations).

Are you kidding me?  Is that all the advise that you have to offer me? 

What about the pockets that are too long and make my butt look like they end up halfway down my thighs? 

What about the knee break that actually is sitting on my calves and, while it might be somewhat acceptable when I’m standing in front of the mirror, it is a pain in the … well, the knee once I start walking and the knee break makes it’s way up my leg to sit on my knee and bunches thick denim around my knees and leaves my ankles bare?

What about the worn look where the faded denim, especially on my thighs, is supposed to mimic the natural worn look and the fading ends at the knees?  Hem accordingly means that the fading continues all the way to my lower calves and something weird has happened to the material around my ankles!  I won’t even start with the fading that is supposed to be where you sit down.

 If all of these things work together, pockets, knee breaks, lighter worn out denim, they offer the wearer a perkier looking butt, a slimmer silhouette and longer, never-ending looking legs.  If they don’t work at all, it doesn’t matter how well it fits around the hips, it just looks sad.

I still search for the perfect pair of denim jeans off the rack, but in the meanwhile I do this...

Before vs after alteration

Progress shot

Before vs after alteration

Monday, February 3, 2014

A week in review :- presents, outings and midnight feasts

A snippet of a few of enjoyable moments during the past week captured on film.  Enjoy!

A quiet coffee and sweet treat - buttery shortbread with a salted caramel filling coated in white chocolate!
A couple of lovely presents from an ever thoughtful Dear Husband

Family outings - kite flying and a trip into town for Australia Day festivities

Dear Husband caught having a midnight feast by a sleepless wandering toddler, thus said toddler needing to join in.

First day at school - I'm so proud of you Little Miss M.  
No tears for this momma at drop off.  But when I picked up Little Miss M later in the afternoon and was greeted with "Mama!  I had the best first day of school EVER!" I promptly burst into tears, I was so happy for her.