Sunday, January 29, 2012

What I didn't get: recent winter sales

Passing up Creature of Comfort's 70% sale was tough, but I had already resolved that my Autumn/Winter expenditures were done. This winter has been mild, so I don't need any more woolens. Here's what I didn't get:
  • Repetto BB flats in grey suede. This was the toughest call, since it was marked down to $92, but I wasn't sure about the sizing and I already have two pairs of Repettos in my closet that I hardly wear. In the back of my mind I'd like to duplicate the elegant look of classic flats with dresses and skirts that I've seen others pull off with such aplomb, but I have shoes that will serve that purpose adequately for now. At least until I know if I'll be wearing that kind of outfit more often or not.
  • Wood Wood Adrian shirt in long and half sleeve. This striped shirt had been well reviewed by others, but I decided I didn't need another striped shirt. The fit seems like something you'd have to try on in person, since it looks to be cut close at the boatneck but looser in the body.
  • A.P.C. bucket bag. I have a weakness for bags, but when I thought about scenarios where a casual canvas bag would be appropriate, I realized I already had other bags that I'd probably reach for first.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Baby clothes

We were given so many new and hand-me-down baby clothes that it felt too extravagant to purchase any more. It was literally crates of clothes, so many that some things were probably worn only once. It was exactly opposite of what I had planned to do, which was pick out a few things I loved on her, wash, and rotate. But with so many clothes, and so many other adjustments needed to bring a baby into the house, I refrained from buying M anything but a handful of clothes to get her through the cold weather.

Well, like everything dealing with parenting, I have found that in some ways I was right and in other ways I was wrong. On the one hand, it turned out to be useful to have quantity in the first few weeks because babies are so messy, and we were too overwhelmed to go down to the laundromat. In the past three months I have been outfitting her in whatever random stuff we had been given. She sort of looked like Punky Brewster some days, in ill-fitting mismatched clothes, some of which had slogans like "I love shopping with mommy." She was much pinker than I would have cared for, but still, I dressed her in these clothes because they were practical and they were gifts. It didn't make sense to run out and buy a bunch of redundant clothing.

But I have found--now that we're past the initial newborn stage--that she doesn't need that many clothes, and it's nice to buy at least a few things that I love for her. I wonder why I even denied myself  this pleasure when she'll be little only once. But it all worked out because at least now I know what she needs (a few long sleeve onesies, footie sleepers, and separates; and a snug pair of pj's)

And in the end, most of her clothes will join that endless merry-go-round of used infant clothing: passed on to consignment shops or thrift stores, sold in garage sales, or given to the next pregnant lady from a friend's cousin's neighbor.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Charlotte Gainsbourg, uniform dressing, and women of a particular age

Like Sofia Coppola, Charlotte Gainsbourg has an enviable, consistent style much admired on both sides of the Atlantic. Often clad in a jersey top or button down, grey skinny jeans, and cowboy boots, Charlotte favors a uniform that sounds simple on paper but is not simple to attain.

It's not so much what's there but what's not there: very few accessories, no discernible trends, nothing cute or flashy, nothing put upon, no excess (at least her casual everyday style . . . her red carpet style is quite different).  For most, such a well-suited personal uniform is usually only achieved through assiduous editing performed over many years, after the experimentation of the younger years has subsided. It's a matter of knowing your own body and the proportions that work best for it, and taking away all the extras that detract. And it may as well be said--when things are this pared down, a trim body is, if not essential, at least very helpful. And fabric and fit factor heavily as well, both of which aren't cheap (but not necessarily that expensive either).

It takes discipline to stick to a uniform, and a certain wit to know its standard deviations. For Charlotte Gainsbourg, the standard deviations include such things as patch-pocket high-waisted denim, Converse sneakers, and brightly colored gingham--funny little touches that don't muddle the consistency of her style but rather make the uniform feel warm and human.

The insight into fabrics and proportion, the self-knowledge, the mostly fixed body type (no more pubescent surges), and the long-term editing that takes place all suggest that figuring out a personal uniform might be achieved later in life, perhaps in your 30s or 40s. Sure, you can have a goth look or be an Abercrombie devotee at a much earlier age, but to figure out a uniquely individual style and then distill it into a uniform takes a particular alchemy of things that tend to come with the years. There seems a quiet intelligence that comes from knowing yourself and your taste quite well and being able to appreciate what clothes can do for you, as well as what it can't.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Winter sales

Up at 3:30 A.M., typing with one hand while the baby sleeps on the other arm. She was bothered by something and could not be appeased by half-awake consoling. And I have a cold and need to sip some chamomile tea with honey to soothe my throat.

I keep wanting to make a proper post, with pics and everything, but it's not happening. So I'll just say that I was relatively disciplined during the sales. I was looking to replace a few items that had gotten worn out, to round out a few favored kinds of garments, and to outfit myself properly for the winter. I set as my target A.P.C. because they're good for long-lasting basics--I have a black wool sweater from them that has served me well for 3 or 4 winters or so. And their stuff routinely goes on sale at many outlets. I had a good chance of getting what I needed, especially since I wanted to limit my browsing so as to limit temptation. Over the past few months I only picked up a few vintage plaid shirts at thrift stores, and I saved my pennies for these wardrobe-building acquisitions during the sale season.

The final count: oxford button down, burgundy wool sweater, suede wallet, and boiled wool slippers (this last from Halflinger to replaces ones that had sprung a hole in the heel). All at least 50% off, all expected to last me many, many years.

I'd feel pretty self-congratulatory but that my end-of-summer purchases I posted about months ago ended up being only half successful. I need to report on the disappointing purchases as well to give an accurate portrait of these goings-on (perhaps as a check for blog-induced spending fever?), but that's for another sleepless night.