My best second hand purchases

Hope Grand Sweater

I think I can categorically say that for many years I spent just as much time browsing eBay as I spent checking my emails (read: a lot). Defining my style and exploring new designers which weren’t readily available in New Zealand, eBay was the #1 destination where I would stumble across a bargain second hand buy, or investment purchase for (much) less. These days, I’m more like to browse The Real Real – mostly down to the fact that they have a return policy – but one thing still remains true; I love a good second hand purchase. It’s that thrill of the hunt, and the best finds always turn up when you least expect them, and honestly, it can often be much more rewarding that buying something brand new. I’ve had my fair share of gems, as well as complete duds over the years, so I thought I’d share and reflect on some of my best second hand purchases to date.

HOPE GRAND SWEATER

Of all the knitwear I have stashed in my drawers, the grand sweater from Hope makes the biggest statement. It’s not hard to see why; the apricot hue, luxe waffle knit, and general oversized nature are what drew me to it in the first place. Mine was a lucky find on eBay, a good fraction of the RRP, and a good investment considering this is a staple style from HOPE – if you’re after one of your own, you can find it here or here, alternatively this option from Everlane is a little kinder on the wallet. I typically tend to enjoy wearing this with milky tones: cream denim, white pleated skirts, or layered over a midi dress. Sizing wise, it’s a large fit. I nabbed it in a EU36 which is the equivalent of an AU8, but you could easily size down if you didn’t want it to be quite so baggy. The only downside is laundering this sweater; you have to do it by hand, then lay it flat to avoid it from becoming misshapen. Hasn’t stopped me from reaching for this sweater whenever it gets chilly though!

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KAREN WALKER FRILL TOP

There are a few items in my closet that I spent years trying to track down – no exaggeration – and this simple frill top was one of them. Hailing from my favourite Karen Walker collection to date, ‘The Believers’, I’ve always been drawn to the combination of the sheer floral patterned silk, keyhole detail and frill hem. This is a good ten years old now, and while it looks a little weathered and worse for wear, I can’t help but love it all the same. A wardrobe addition that was truly years in the making, it’s one that I know I’ll continue to cherish for years to come. If you’d like to see this piece in action (as I can’t seem to find a snap of it on…), I featured it in my Summer 2016/2017 Wardrobe Lookbook which you can watch here.

Willow Leather Skirt

WILLOW LEATHER SKIRT

I knew I wanted a leather skirt from Willow just weeks into starting a job at David Jones. During my lunch breaks, I’d take the lift down to level 2, and make a mental note of all the ‘investment pieces’ I’d love to add to my wardrobe (Celine cashmere… anyone?). But somehow, I managed to leave that job without the leather skirt of my dreams, and shortly after, Willow become defunct, dashing any chances of buying one of their iconic a-line leather skirts brand new. But, luck has been on my side and I’ve found not one, but two of the old Willow leather skirts on eBay, a simple silhouette which has become something of a uniform for me, particularly during these cold winter months.

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Valentino Tango Pump

THE VALENTINO TANGO PUMP

I bought these almost two years ago now from The Real Real, after stumbling across a pair in my size, like new with rubber soles applied. These cost a pretty penny when buying brand new (the beige patent is lovely though…), so as you can imagine, I jumped at the chance to score these at more than half off. They’ve turned out to be a real wardrobe staple, a shoe that I know I can rely on to make any outfit look chic. And even though they’re on the narrow side, I don’t find them to bring too much discomfort to my wide feet – at least no more than other shoes! In terms of quality, they really are exceptional and have held up well, despite being worn many times on my daily trek to and from the office.

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Lover Wiccan Lace Midi Dress

LOVER THE LABEL WICCAN MIDI DRESS

The final second hand purchase I wanted to mention is one which I hunted on eBay for seven years. Seven. I first became obsessed with Australian label Lover at 17; aside from Karen Walker it was one of the few brands whose collections I would pore over, season after season, and still all these years on, their ‘Black Magick’ collection seems to have made a lasting impression on me. I finally managed to track down this dress via eBay in my size, at the start of this year, and have been saving it for those special occasions. The same French lace as my wedding dress, it’s as delicate as it looks, and miles more beautiful in person. I suppose good things really do come to those who wait… x

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The ‘buy nothing’ shopping diet

Buy Nothing Shopping Challenge

I’ve been thinking a lot about my consumption lately, and more so, just how many new things I seem to have bought in the last six months alone. While I’m no minimalist by any means (and I doubt I ever will be!), I’m firmly of the thought that we should only own what we love, and that this should fit within our means; both financially, and from the perspective that we can only consume so much. So when I read an article last weekend about the buy nothing diet, it really struck a chord.

One of the key things that I’ve been doing for years, to try and meter my spending and keep my shopping habits on track, is to keep a spending journal. Every time I make a new purchase for my wardrobe, I jot it down in a notebook, and tally up the total number of new additions each month, as well as just how much I spent. There’s no denying that I’m an emotional shopper – since I lost my mum in 2015, I’ve found that February has been a pretty spendy month for me – and it’s come through more this year than ever before. Considering that we’d like to jump on the property ladder at some point, all these new additions haven’t been quite so conducive to ramping up those savings….

So when I stumbled across an article chronicling Micha Goebig’s year of buying absolutely zero luxuries, I felt a little inspired. I started to think about how I could incorporate ‘buy nothing’ into my life, whether it be in smaller increments, or on a smaller scale. And I also started to think a bit more about how I could get back to that core manifesto on which I’ve been basing my entire wardrobe on; quality over quantity.

SO… JUST WHAT IS THE BUY NOTHING DIET?

It probably goes without saying, but the crux of it is that you refrain from buying any luxuries. The necessities such as food, basic household supplies, and toiletries are still on the table, but any item that fits more within the ‘want’ category – think clothing, shoes, beauty products, candles, flowers and the link – are completely off limits. It’s a movement that comes from the idea that shopping takes up too much cultural, mental and social space in our lives, and given the the ‘diet’ is supposed to span over the course of the year, works to break those shopping habits which so easily become ingrained in our everyday lives. Living in a world where consumerism is conspicuous, rather than conscious, it’s a way to regain that power, and reject the call to consume.

So, I figure now’s a good time as any to point out the white elephant in the room; as someone with a blog and a YouTube channel which occasionally relies on new wardrobe additions for the creation of content, where does someone like me, go from here?

WHAT OTHER OPTIONS ARE THERE?

If buying nothing is a shade too strong for you, but you’re all for conscious consumption, consider trying out a capsule wardrobe or getting on board with the five piece French wardrobe challenge, which force you to challenge the way that you look at your closet, and how you approach shopping for new wardrobe additions.

Another option is the #30wears campaign. This encourages people to extend the lifespan of their clothing by asking yourself, ‘will I wear this at least 30 times?’ before heading to the check out. As someone who used to manually track how often they wore each addition to their closet, I’m completely all for this – there’s nothing like a new wardrobe staple that you truly get your money’s worth from.

My final suggestion, would be to purchase only pre-loved. Personally, I’m a huge fan of consignment stores (The Real Real has to be my favourite, alternatively I occasionally browse Vestiaire Collective and eBay) as they allow me to get the look I’m after at a lower price point, make higher quality pieces more accessible, and reduce my own impact.

As of right now, I’m on a little bit of a self-imposed shopping ban – there’s not set time frame, but after investing a huge amount into my winter wardrobe, I’m at a point where I don’t really need anything, and taking a peek into my closet is evidence enough that I have plenty to wear. That’s not to say that there won’t be the odd new addition here and there (or that I won’t look to take up the 5PFW Challenge again soon), but I’m hoping to start a little bit of a softer take on the buy nothing diet, even if it lasts for just one month.

image via pinterest

What is a normal sized wardrobe?

normal sized wardrobe
normal sized wardrobe

What is a normal sized wardrobe? It’s one of those questions I’ve found myself wondering, typically on par with my seasonal wardrobe culls, yet the question remains; how much is too much?

And I think, what I’ve truly found, is that there’s no right answer; it’s all relative. It’s the kind of subjective number that depends on your needs, your lifestyle, and ultimately, what you want our of your wardrobe.

For some, a minimal wardrobe of 30 items is more than enough, yet for others, choice is paramount and the number of items they choose to have at their disposal can stretch out to 200 garments or more. For me, it’s been about finding an amount I’m comfortable with; a selected edit that suits my lifestyle, with enough variety to keep me from shopping mindlessly. My wardrobe hovers around the 100 items mark (though if I’m truly honest, is more like 100-150…), excluding gym gear, sleepwear, intimates and shoes which I’ve found to be goldilocks-level perfect – for me at least.

If you managed to see my recent wardrobe cull, you’d probably argue that it’s still a lot (my closet did appear to be busting at the seams), but I find that it pales in comparison to the 300-plus pieces I had weighing down my wardrobe just a few short years ago. Shoes are ultimately my weakness – it’s the one thing I consistently look to invest in every sale season; that one piece that can make or break an outfit for me, but I figure we all have our indulgences (mine just happens to see me get a little spend-y every once in a while).

So, how do you actually determine what a normal sized wardrobe is? Well, there’s a few things you need to look at…

CLIMATE

Do you live in a city that experiences seasonal extremes, or is the weather generally pretty consistent all year round (a la Los Angeles)? Is there much cross over between seasons? Can you add pieces to your wardrobe that transition between summer to autumn, or from winter to spring?

For me, I live in Sydney, where the weather tends to run from one extreme to the next. Summer is typically around the 35-40 degree C mark (often with high levels of humidity). Autumn and spring sit around the 18-30 degree C mark, and finally our winters seem to sit on the milder side, with temperatures hovering around the 5-15 degree mark (though this year looks to be colder than previous years!).

Given this, I focus on having those core pieces from summer and winter – whether that is a silk cami and denim shorts, or a huge oversized sweater and a coat to match – interspersed with more transitional pieces which can see me through the variances in temperature, and weather.

LIFESTYLE

Next I suggest taking a look at your lifestyle. What does a typical week look like for you, and how would you break this down across your wardrobe? For most, I would assume that this would be split among workwear, loungewear (if you aren’t like me and don’t hop into your pjs the minute you get home!), evening wear, day-to-day casual wear, workout gear and anything you need for miscellaneous hobbies. I tend to have a 50/30/20 split across my closet – 50% work wear, 30% pieces that work for play or for the office, and 20% weekend casual wear.

While we don’t tend to go out as much as we used to, I do have a few dresses hanging up in my wardrobe, so that I have a go to look should a special occasion pop up – so much easier than having to find an outfit last minute, or hiring a dress.

FREQUENCY OF WEAR

Finally, how often do you actually want to be wearing your clothes? If you’re a serial outfit repeater, then you’ve probably got no qualms with wearing the same outfit twice (or more) in a week – which would drastically reduce the number of things you would want to keep in your closet.

So what I would recommend, is considering how many times – approximately – that you want to wear each item in your closet over the year, on average. Obviously this is bound to vary per piece, if you have a singular coat for winter, it’s going to be worn every day. Think about how often you outfit repeat, and whether you have an interchangeable ‘uniform’ or look.

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS

I’m not a minimalist per se, nor do I aspire to be, however there’s no denying that there are many aspects of minimalism that resonate strongly with me – quality over quantity for one. This means less high street buys, more investment pieces. Which, if we’re being completely true to ourselves, these are generally the only purchases that manage to stand the test of time; well, in my wardrobe at least.

I’m fortunate in a sense that the majority of my wardrobe does double duty, transitioning effortlessly from work to play – however this may not ring true for everyone. It means I’ve got a lot to play with, even if I do reach for the same favourites on a weekly basis. Additionally, defining my style and colour palette has allowed me to be more specific and selective when shopping – while I’ve made some attempts to step out of my comfort zone over the last year, the fact of the matter is that I am truly a creature of habit. It makes dressing easy which is key when you cut your wardrobe down as much as I have. Keeping stock of the basics helps too – off the shoulder, gingham and sports luxe mind be the current staples of the moment, but there’s a new fashion season – and new barrage of trends just waiting around the corner.

So I guess to reiterate my point, when it comes to trying to determine what a normal sized wardrobe actually is, it’s all relative. There is no one answer, no right number of garments to have in your wardrobe. Your lifestyle, tastes, and even the seasons (or lack thereof) will all play a role in defining what works for you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you think a normal sized wardrobe is in the comments below! x

images sourced via pinterest

Overhauling my wardrobe

overhaul my wardrobe
overhaul my wardrobe
overhaul my wardrobe
overhaul my wardrobe
overhaul my wardrobe

As much as I hate to admit it, recently I let my wardrobe go overboard; with clothing I love, clothing I can’t bear to part with, clothing that gives me a taste of a trend I want to try, and at the other end of the spectrum, clothing which I no longer feel great in, that fits in with my ‘style’, or fits me well. So, I spent a huge chunk of the weekend overhauling my wardrobe and giving my closet a good ol’ declutter, and the rest of it scouring my favourited pins to get a real handle on just what my closet has been missing.

So I wanted to share the kinds of ‘looks’ that I’m ideally hoping to be reaching for on a daily basis, which is equal parts old and new, as well as some of the key pieces that I’ll be looking to invest in, over the coming months. If you haven’t had a chance yet, you can hop on over to my YouTube channel to have a watch of the full declutter process, as I go through my entire closet, and talk through some of the silhouettes and styles that are departing my wardrobe for now…

THE LOOK

While I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s every girls dream to dress like a Parisian, as far as closet #goals go, it’s certainly one of mine. There are absolutely no surprises that the colour palette I found myself gravitating towards was that simple, clean palette of neutrals, though I’m warming up to rusty orange and reds, blush anything, and rich forest greens.

1. Fluid silhouettes; Almost ten times out of ten, you’ll find me wearing something loose-fitting – I’ve just never been much of one to reach for a body con dress. What I’ve been really drawn to in particular as of late are more slinky silhouettes, loose throughout the body, but in a floaty flattering kind of way.

2. Oversized knitwear; A key theme in a huge majority of the looks that I save on Pinterest is an oversized knit. Since we are on the cusp of winter, I’ve been on the lookout more so than ever to find the perfect oversized knit sweater, whether that be a simple merino, a funnel neck, or a cosy cable knit.

3. Lots of denim; The last time I wanted to wear this much denim, I was in my teens. Seems I’ve come full circle, but rather than flares or super skinny legged jeans, I’m after something with more of a straight leg, or a ‘mom’ style jean. I’m also loving the idea of wearing denim jackets with everything, and opting for a denim mini all day every day come summer time.

4. Relaxed tailoring; I feel pretty fortunate to work in an environment with a relaxed approach to office attire. Choosing to wear denim Monday through Thursday is a real consideration. So when it comes to tailoring, I’m after something a little more casual; a little more relaxed. In particular, I’m finding myself drawn to culottes more and more these days, worn with a sweater or a little silk cami, but I also like the simple combination of a pair of dress trousers with an oversized sweater and a low block heel (like this one).

KEY PIECES TO INVEST IN

I feel like I’ve made a lot of statements in the last year about dabbling in trends, trying to broaden my preferred colour palette, and just generally having a bit more fun with my wardrobe. If I’m completely honest with myself, I feel most at ease – and most like myself – in those key wardrobe pieces even if they do sometimes get a little bit boring; sometimes it really is all about how you pair them. Some of the key pieces that I identified while overhauling my wardrobe that I’m planning to invest in include…

1. A leather jacket; if you’re a long time follower (or just so happen to follow me on Instagram), then you’ll probably know that I made the decision to part with my Acne Studios leather jacket last year – mostly due to the fact that it started to feel a little too oversized, and partly down to the fact that I was craving a more fitted silhouette. Okay maybe that’s the same reason, but ultimately what it created was a huge gap in my wardrobe, which I’ve been really starting to notice now than we’re in the thick of autumn. Ideally, I would love to drop some serious cash on one of Balenciaga’s dreamy leather biker jackets, but realistically, I’ll probably be looking for something which is a bit more budget-friendly. I spotted this leather jacket from Ena Pelly while browsing online and it looks like a pretty good candidate!

2. Oversized cable knit sweaters; for winter, there’s nothing I love more than a good cable knit, yet somehow, it’s managed to be one of the few areas of my wardrobe that I’ve completely neglected. I’m after something that is cosy, slightly boxy, and preferably an oat, teddy or charcoal hue. I’ve been keeping my eye out on The Real Real in particular, on the off chance that something dreamy from Celine just ‘pops’ up.

3. Ballet flats; I have one word for you: Porselli. I’ve owned two pairs of Porselli ballet flats over the years and I only have good things to say about them. I loved them both so much that I ended up completely wearing them into the ground (suffice to say I didn’t care for them as well as I should’ve), and I’ve been putting getting a replacement pair on the back burner ever since. These are pretty high on the list right now, though I can’t decide whether I should invest in the black patent, or the navy leather…

4. A pair of skinny leather pants; a couple of years back I invested in a pair of black leather trousers from J Brand, though given how buttery soft the leather was, these didn’t quite hold their shape as much as I’d expected them to. I’ve been after a replacement pair ever since and have been looking at a couple of different contenders, as I’d really like to add some leather trousers to my closet to see me through winter.

5. Collarless shirts; one of my favourite transitional pieces in my wardrobe is hands down the collarless shirt dress I bought from Everlane last year (which you can see me wearing here). It’s become a little bit of a style staple for me, that I’ve been thinking that I’d like to look at incorporating this into my winter wardrobe – in shirt form. I’d like something a little more relaxed in silhouette, whether that be a silk or a lightweight linen, and have been keeping my eyes peeled – ideally I would love to find something in an ivory, oatmeal, navy, slate grey or black – so if you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments below!

REPLACEMENT PIECES

One of the things I identified while culling my wardrobe were a few pieces that I absolutely l-o-v-e-d, but that just didn’t fit me *quite* right, or that had really done their dash and needed to be replaced. There were also a couple of budget buys that I found myself completely smitten with, that I’m hoping to invest in, in the coming months. So, I’m on the lookout for…

1. A white denim skirt; while it might be far from spring and summer at the moment, a white denim skirt is one of my go to for lazy weekends (and casual Fridays at the office). I recently tried on this one from J Crew while I was in Dallas, which I think really fits the bill. It has a slight a-line silhouette (universally flattering!), and I love the mid-length.

2. Black and navy dress/work trousers; my 7/8 length black trousers from Forever New have truly had it, and as much as I love the style and the ease of washing that pair, I’d really like to invest in a good quality woolen pair for winter, as realistically it’s too hot in the spring and summer in Sydney to even consider trousers as an outfit option (hello culottes!!). Ideally, I would love to find a pair from Acne, but am also looking to some more budget friendly options which are well made, but that won’t break the bank.

3. Black suede or leather heeled mules; Late last year I bought a pair of black microsuede slip on mules via ASOS, and I was hooked ever since. The pair I purchased are extremely good quality given the price, but honestly I’m after something that doesn’t have quite such a large strap across the foot. Maryam Nassir Zadeh and Mansur Gavriel both have some gorgeous options, so watch this space, as I have a feeling I’ll be ending up with a pair in the next few months.

4. Black cotton off the shoulder top; again, this was a style that I chose to ‘test out’ to see if it was really a style that I’d want to incorporate into my wardrobe. Turns out, I really love a bit of off the shoulder action. So, now I’m on the hunt for a black cotton version that will be perfect for transitioning through spring; I’ve spied a couple that I like, and have been particularly drawn to this one from Storets, which I think would look amazing with one of the many high waisted skirts I have in my closet!

5. A button down shirt in a pale cool-toned blue; the hunt for the perfect blue button down continues… I bought this one from Everlane earlier this year, and while I love the style and the fit, it’s not quite the right shade of blue that I’m after. I used to have a lovely one from Hope a couple years back but the asymmetrical hemline always threw me off, so I’m hoping to find a more classically cut style this time around.

So that is how I’ll be overhauling my wardrobe – have you ever felt like switching things up a bit? x

images sourced via Pinterest

Overhaul your wardrobe and get out of a style rut without spending any money

overhaul wardrobe without spending money and get out of style rut

image source; pinterest

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but I’ve been feeling like I’ve been in a bit of a style rut recently. I put a lot of emphasis on building up the foundations of a wardrobe, but I think we all know that it’s the special pieces in our closet that help to keep things interesting. While there’s nothing quite like something shiny and new to liven up a seemingly dull wardrobe, there are a few things that you can do to overhaul your closet and get out of that style rut, without spending any money.

IDENTIFY SILHOUETTES & COLOUR PALETTES YOU LIKE
I feel like with basically every wardrobe conundrum possible, Pinterest is the p-e-r-f-e-c-t starting point to gather inspiration and truly kick off any style journey. Whenever I’m feeling like I’m starting to tire of my existing wardrobe, I look to Pinterest to identify the types of silhouettes that I want to be reaching for, which more often than not are focused on quite minimal colour palettes like my own.

It could be finding a fresh new silhouette that you hadn’t thought of or haven’t felt brave enough to try, or an innovative take on layering that’ll up your winter style game; it’s the action of getting that new perspective that can ultimately give you the tools to look at your closet in a whole new way, which leads to my next point…

SHOP YOUR WARDROBE
Using your newfound inspiration or mood board, take a peek into your wardrobe and play around with styling. Pair together pieces which you’d usually keep apart or try some colour combinations (if you dare – assuming you have colour in your closet!) that go beyond what you’d typically reach for everyday.

WEAR YOUR FAVOURITES
There’s no pleasure in forcing yourself to wear things that you don’t love; obviously the dream is to have only things that give you joy, but sometimes practicality takes precedence. Take the time to make getting dressed fun again, by putting all your favourite pieces to the front of your closet. Every day grab a different favourite and improvise to make it work, whether it’s an unlikely hero for the office, or dressing down something you’d usually reserve for corporate wear only.

PUSH YOURSELF OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
That tangerine off the shoulder top that you’ve had hidden in the back of your wardrobe for months, or those classic oxfords that you just haven’t been quite sure how to style; push beyond your comfort zone and take a tip from your Pinterest fodder when it comes to styling. You might just find a new pairing that you absolutely love.

SWITCH UP YOUR BEAUTY ROUTINE
My everyday beauty routine is typically the same; a taupe-y shimmery shadow swept across my eyelid, my signature cat eye flick, and a little bit of coloured gel brushed through my brows. My haircare routine is even more relaxed; I’ll spend less than five minutes twirling a GHD through my hair for some light waves, before I’m done for the day.

To get out of that style rut, it can pay to mix up your beauty routine a little, whether that be with a new hairstyle like a chic slicked back bun, or a bold lipstick – my favourite is hands down ‘wild ginger’ by Tom Ford. Aside from changing the overall mood or vibe of an outfit, it can also alter the way that you perceive your look when you take a glance in the mirror. These small changes can also give the impression that you put in a little more effort than you actually did, and I’m all for that effortless kind of beauty.