28 February 2021

Taking Stock

Affiliate links used.

Feels like spring is underway now doesn't it. Time for a seasonal wardrobe refresh. I whiled away a couple of happy hours getting familiar with my spring clothing recently. I wanted to swap out the chunky roll neck sweaters - those are now safely stored away. Some lighter sweaters and sweatshirts have replaced them. I went through my jeans and swapped in a few ankle-baring styles in hope that I'll be kicking off my boots for good soon. It's lovely to see a few old-but-new jacket options greeting me when I open the wardrobe doors. I feel like I've breathed some new life into my outfits without having to buy anything new!

As promised I have taken a few mirror selfies now that my outfits are a bit more share-worthy. Meet my Zoom call attire!


M.i.H jeans denim shirt, past season - alternative here
Adidas joggers - similar here (I sized up - mine are a 12)
Golden Goose trainers - similar here

Whilst sorting my wardrobe this time I did take every single item out. I gave the inside a good hoover and clean. I had in mind a plan for my capsule this time and so when I started to put things back in it just all came together. The more I do the seasonal switchover the easier it becomes. It makes life so much simpler only to have in my wardrobe what I will actually be wearing. I have around 40 pieces which seems like a lot but as the weather is likely to be fairly iffy for the next few weeks so I've planned for more options than I might actually need. It definitely helps to keep on rotating things......it identifies the pieces I don't reach for that need moving on. Any gaps also become obvious which does assist me in making more considered purchases. 




One area I did feel I had a gap in was my jeans collection. I uncovered a couple of duplicates and decided to part with a couple that just weren't all that comfortable. Time to let go of 4 pairs. I convinced myself that I was missing something style-wise. That was of course until I checked out what I had stored away in the autumn. I've totted them up and I have a total of 17 pairs and now I've become familiar with them all again I can see I have more than I need and there really isn't any shape unaccounted for. This is good because I've become very conscious of denim's impact on the environment. It takes up to 10,000 litres of water to make one pair of jeans and despite many brands now claiming to make environmentally friendlier jeans I believe the best course of action is to work with what I've already got. Jeans are hard to buy too aren't they? Especially at the moment with having to order online. One major takeaway from exploring my jeans was to learn that my favourite pairs are from Gap, Topshop and H&M - most of which are at least 5 years old. Although those brands aren't particularly sustainable at least if I purchase from those stores again I can confidently expect them to be in my wardrobe for the long haul so I'm going to try not to beat myself up about where I buy my jeans.


Topshop  jeans, past season - these look similar
Dune Guillt loafers, past season 
(try searching eBay also worth searching for Office Destiny loafers too)

The experiment of counting all of my jeans got me curious as to how many items of clothing I have in total. I've arrived at the rather shocking total of about 200 pieces 😱 (I haven't properly counted my dresses yet which is why that's an approximate number!) That does not include shoes and accessories either 😳 Seems like an excessive amount doesn't it? And whilst I will be streamlining my wardrobe a bit more I am getting to the point where it is getting hard to part with things and as I've said before one of my goals is to only purchase something if I'm prepared to let something go. The one in, one out rule. Anyway all in all, it's been a great experiment and lovely to be reacquainted with some of my old favourites. I'm really looking forward to the challenge of getting more creative with what I already have. 

Here are a few examples.......
M&S cashmere jumper (mine is past season)
M&S trousers (also previous season)
Preloved & Other Stories blazer via eBay


Joseph trench coat via Kilver Court Outlet (really love this as an alternative)
Uniqlo cashmere rollback - alternative here (I would size up for a more slouchy look)
Rag & Bone jeans, past season - these look like a good alternative 


Zara jumper, past season - alternative here
Zara trousers, ancient - alternative here
Vans trainers -similar here


Preloved Warehouse x Lucy Williams collaboration blazer (just in case you want to search eBay)
J Brand jeans via T K Maxx
Golden Goose trainers - similar here
Hermosa London bag, past season



Preloved liner jacket - try eBay here
Disko Kids sweatshirt, past season - similar here
J Brand jeans via T K Maxx 
Veja Wata trainers, past season - do love these as an alternative 

This week I'm really hoping to get back in the swing of taking a daily mirror selfie and sharing a few more of my ensembles on the blog on a weekly basis. 

On that note....see you next week! 



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14 February 2021

Enough

Firstly I'd like to say thanks to everyone who reached out to message or leave me a comment after my last post. It was one from the heart and I didn't realise what a sense of relief I'd feel when I shared it. It came as a bit of a surprise to me that so many people seem to be longing for change. Unfortunately our relationship with stuff is a hard habit to break. I wasn't quite sure how to follow that post but I feel the need to carry on this conversation.



What have I learnt from all the amazing feedback though? That I am enough. And I most certainly have enough. But I'm not doing enough. A couple of articles have been shared with me that are really quite disturbing (I will link at the end of the post). And the good old algorithm served up this gem on YouTube when I started to research our problems with stuff a bit more thoroughly. The video on YouTube mentioned a book called The Story of More and I took it as a sign to read it as it was the 2nd time I'd seen it mentioned in the past week. You see I'm curious to better understand my need to keep on buying things. I'm keen to examine this subject further as what I've learnt so far has spurred me into action. The goal posts have changed again for me. I've pledged to myself not to bring any more new clothes into my life until I've properly taken stock of what I've already got. I think I will find that I already have enough.

It occurred to me after writing my 'stuff' post and looking back over my 6/7 years on Instagram that the outfits I felt comfiest and happiest in actually stand out a mile to me. Most of the pieces I'm wearing in those photos are still in my possession. So, a plan has begun to formulate. I think it's such a great tool to have that back catalogue to reflect upon that I've embarked on the arduous task of photographing every item of clothing I own. I can't think of a better way to shock myself into shopping submission than by being confronted by my entire wardrobe on a Pinterest board! My low buy goal of adding 33 items this year is about to be slashed. Shopping my wardrobe is now my number one priority. For me the beauty of a seasonal capsule is consistently being reunited with my favourites pieces. Rotating my clothes keeps my most beloved items feeling fresh. I've got to get out of the mindset that my next purchase will complete me. Doing the research for that last post made me realise I already have everything I could possibly need. It's hard to know where to start when you decide it's time for change but I hope I'm giving you a couple of practical tips.


As you can probably imagine I'm feeling pretty inspired.......so I have been busy! I've created a new Pinterest board - a vision board for my next capsule. The new board is a mixture of outfit inspiration from a couple of sources, some via Pinterest - pins that I've found where I have similar pieces. I've also added some of my own photos of my favourite Instagram ensembles...... those evergreen outfits that I wear over and over again. There are some clear themes amongst that information!


                               See my vision board here                               

I've also started to use the pictures that I'm taking of each piece of my clothing to begin to plan my spring transitional wardrobe. As you may have learned about me by now I do enjoy keeping a record of these things! If you are interested in joining me on this crusade I would encourage you to find a way to track what you are wearing....whether it be a spreadsheet, diary or taking a daily mirror selfie. You can upload your pics to a secret Pinterest board so nobody can see them apart from you. I'm just working myself up to taking a daily outfit photo again so that I can start doing a weekly round-up of my outfits here on the blog. I'm feeling a little more motivated to do that now there is some better weather on the horizon! 🤞🤞🤞


                                               
See the board here (It's still a work in progress!)

Sorry it's only a short post this week. Hope it has been useful though if you are considering curtailing your clothing consumption!

Back again soon, Michelle x

Articles


Ted Talks via YouTube




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7 February 2021

My changing relationship with stuff

After last weeks post I got some lovely messages that got me thinking about my relationship with stuff. For as long as I can remember my self worth has been tied up with having the right things and looking the part. To be fair clothes do often give me that extra boost of much needed confidence. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. That is until you start believing your stuff defines you. Do I really want to be remembered just for wearing nice things? No. My stuff is not who I am. There's so much more to me than that. And I guess this journey that I am on has begun to unravel a lot of those feelings. Things aren't important. You can't take them with you. People and experiences are the things that shape and enrich our lives. 

Instagram outfit of the day photo - early 2015



My relationship with stuff really blossomed when I started my first job. I began my working life in a small designer boutique in Bath. The store sold designer gear.....all the big Italian labels that were popular in the 80's such as Versace, Valentino and Ferragamo. I was impressed by the customers who shopped at Kimberly who came in dripping in Chanel and Louis Vuitton and who spent thousands at a time. Naturally I equated accruing designer stuff as a sign of being successful. Inspired, I saved up and bought my first designer bag - a Louis Vuitton Speedy at age 18 and then a Chanel bag a couple of years later. I was young and naive with some disposable income and I just wanted to be in with the calibre of clientele that I was serving. It was very easy to get sucked in and this is probably where my appreciation of things started to mingle with my self worth. I only worked in that environment for 3 years but it proved to have a lasting effect on me.

Instagram outfit of the day - early 2016



Fast forward some 15 years and those feelings of self worth started cropping up again. This may resonate with some of you because when you start a family you are very focused on being a mother. I lost myself for a couple of years after I had my daughter. But as soon as I hit those pre-school gates the pressure to look and feel the part rose again. At age 36 I was quite late to the motherhood party and I felt this was even more reason to look like I had my sh*t together. When you've been in that haze for a while it's quite hard to claw your way back. Your figure isn't the same and your priorities have shifted. I felt pretty inadequate. 

Thankfully I came across Pinterest which started to help me to work with what was in my wardrobe and pull outfits together again. From there I found a couple of fashion blogs that made me fall in love with clothes again. Perusing online led me to a platform (pre-Instagram days) called Avenue 57 which was a real turning point for me. It was a lovely online community that gave kind and helpful feedback as well as shopping tip-offs and advice. I used to upload a mirror selfie of my daily outfits there and enjoyed commenting on other women's outfits. Avenue 57 introduced me to a few school run mum bloggers whose style really resonated with my own. I realised that one of my favourite bloggers was lurking and commenting on my outfits and so we started conversing. Sue (you may know her as SusieSoSo) encouraged me to start my blog and so MyFashionable40s came to be (on Avenue 57 I called myself 'My Fashion Life has just begun' because it really did feel like a rebirth after having my daughter). Sue gave me the confidence to start writing because she enjoyed hearing about my thought process around putting outfits together and purchasing new things. I thought it may be of benefit to share with other women who may have found themselves in a similar situation to me......stuck in a rut and feeling that you've lost your identity when your children are very young and you don't have much time for yourself. 

Instagram outfit of the day photo - early 2017



About a year after starting my blog along came Instagram which to begin with was very similar to Avenue 57 just on a much larger scale. It opened up blogs to a much wider audience which was great! I really prided myself on my authenticity right from the word go. I only ever uploaded a picture of what I was actually wearing on any given day (on the odd occasion that I was approached by anyone who recognised me from the blog I'm sure they would vouch for me!). My integrity has always been really important to me. At that time it seemed that what I was doing was really appreciated - it was all very natural and as a result my following grew very quickly. 

Instagram outfit of the day - early 2018




From the outset the blog and Instagram were just a creative outlet for me - I never intended it to become a form of income.....it really was just for fun and I genuinely hoped I might be helping other women like me. However it didn't take brands long to appreciate what a marketing opportunity the school run mum's blogs were for advertising their products. To be approached by brands and offered gifts was incredibly exciting and flattering as someone who was very new to all of this kind of attention. I actually really enjoyed working with smaller brands with whom I really could make a difference by sharing with my audience. I was free to do my own thing. I was blown away by feedback when I made a difference to a company's sales. It was the equivalent of getting a gold star at school! 

Instagram outfit of the day photo - early 2019


I began to become unstuck when I started getting involved with High Street brands and taking on paid collaborations. Getting lots of likes per post had always been a lovely dopamine rush but now there was an added layer of pressure for posts to perform well as I was being paid for them. I felt out of my depth and impostor syndrome set in. Comparison is the thief of joy as they say. When I looked around I felt inferior to my contemporaries who were starting to use professional photographers. At the time my photos were taken by my young daughter Gracie and were very organic to say the least. If you look back at my early photos on Instagram you'll notice I can hardly bear to look into the camera - I was always looking down. With brands wanting to approve photos before I posted I became very critical about how I looked in them. I kept asking more and more of Gracie and eventually she got to an age where she was too embarrassed to do street style photos for me in and around the village we live in. The time had come to invest in  tripod - however it would take me so long to get a picture that I was happy with that I would ended up getting totally frustrated and wishing that I'd never taken such a project on. 

I then got to the point where I had new stuff being delivered everyday that I'd have to create content for. Once you start accepting gifts and agreeing to sponsored posts it's very hard to say no......hamster wheel springs to mind! With the smaller brands I often felt obliged because sometimes it's the only method of advertising they can afford and it can make all the difference to a table top company becoming successful. As I would describe myself as being very conscientious by nature I felt a certain sense of responsibility to brands. I would often go the extra mile and try to work gifted items into every post to give products as much exposure as possible. That turned out to backfire rather spectacularly as I would never get to wear the things I truly loved that I'd purchased with my own money. I was forever trying to do the things I'd been gifted or paid to wear justice. I got myself into a right old pickle. I felt 'stuffocated'. Clothes instead of making me feel happy and confident made me feel anxious and overwhelmed. It wasn't just creating the content and wearing the clothes that became a chore, it was disposing of all the packaging too. So much waste....loads of plastic all heading to landfill. The over-consumption gave me the 'ick'. I was lost in it all and no longer doing it for the right reasons. It all felt very out of kilter with my values and who I really am. These feelings were so foreign to me that I blamed the menopause and the fact that the big 5-0 was looming. However looking back on that episode I can see now that I had just lost all sense of myself. My identity had become so entangled with my possessions. 

And my goodness did it prove to be difficult to get off that hamster wheel but for the sake of my sanity I knew I had to start saying no. It was easy with the High Street brands. I didn't need the money as I work part-time and I didn't need the extra money to buy more stuff I didn't need either! Its was harder to say no to smaller brands as I'd often forged lovely relationships with the people behind the brands. Little by little though I started to put my foot down and started being honest because I knew I was time to start withdrawing from Instagram. 

In June 2019 I really turned a corner. I stopped drinking alcohol (a habit that I felt was getting a bit out of control) and started practicing meditation. A couple of months later in August we had a particularly relaxing holiday in Greece where instead of scrolling mindlessly on my phone I started listening to podcasts and reading, developing some different interests. I got curious about making my life more simple. Being so attached to my things was causing me suffering and I wanted to change that.

By September as I was saying no to pretty much everything and so I didn't have any obligations. I decided to take a month long break from Instagram. My big half a century birthday was looming and I'd been toying with changing my blog and Instagram name as I was desperate to shed MyFashionable40s. With a little help from my friends (Sue and Bean) we came up with CuratingMi which stuck because I was on the path to changing my relationship with stuff. 

Quite by accident in December 2019 I fell into a stride with a capsule wardrobe. Earlier on in the year I'd taken a personal styling course and once I learnt about my style personality I understood why I wasn't feeling comfortable in some of my clothes. This resulted in some regular wardrobe editing. Not posting so frequently on Instagram meant there was no pressure to wear something different and interesting everyday. I was wearing and enjoying my favourite items and dressing to suit my actual lifestyle and not my fantasy lifestyle. I realised that during the colder months I tend to wear pretty much the same things on repeat. My signature style is a rollback sweater, skinny jeans and either boots or high top trainers. I had a coat for Christmas that year that went with every jeans and jumper combo I had. That turned out to be a pivotal gift.......I suddenly felt so much happier in my uncomplicated outfits. 

Outfit of the day - early 2020 (wearing said coat)


Then along came Covid 19. The universe intervened and we were all forced to slow down.  It gave me the opportunity time to think long and hard about what I truly want out of life. I've had the luxury of time to contemplate what really matters to me. Obviously it's not stuff. To quote Courtney Carver "I need way less than I think to be happy". "My wardrobe is the least interesting thing about me" and "No one really cares what I'm wearing". What does matter to me is the people I love. I cherish my health. And for my mental wellbeing it's important to me that I keep on learning and growing. Yes, I love clothes but they don't define the person I am. Lockdown has made me appreciate all the things around me that I have overlooked whilst deciding what to wear or wondering whether I should buy the next 'must have' trend or not. These days I appreciate a walk more than shopping as a pastime. I value a chat on the phone over a text. I prefer a good book to a scroll on Instagram. I enjoy a documentary over reality TV and podcasts over the radio. It's been a gift to spend so much time at home with my family. There is so much more to life than clothes. 

All of this thinking helped me to arrive at the fact that a capsule wardrobe is absolutely the way forward for me. To be honest I'm a little disappointed about how much I did buy last year but then, these ideas were all still thrashing about in my head. I knew reducing my consumption was my number one priority, so I'm proud of how that has been steadily going down. The majority of what I purchased last year will shape my capsule over the next few years as I've had the chance to get to grips what kind of clothes that really suit my life. Looking back over my journey on Instagram it is interesting to see the items that have stood the test of time and that are still in my wardrobe. All of the outfits in my round-up here are things I'd happily wear today. I must have been doing something right.......I just can't believe how distracted I got! 

Phew! That is enough from me. It feels good to finally share this, I've been meaning to write this one for a while. One from the heart for sure!

One last thing I want to do is to thank Sue. I have met and made some amazing friends throughout my time online and for that I am truly grateful for.  Sue has always been there for me - I still refer to the original email she sent me with some beginners blog guidance. I asked her to proof-read this post before I hit publish because I have shared all my ups and downs with her and she has always been the voice of reason and kept me going. I consider myself very lucky to have her in my life - which I think is the fitting place to end this post.

Hope you found it interesting. I've listed here a few resources I have found useful. 

Michelle x

Blogs 
Use Less 

Recent discoveries
Slowdown. blog
UncomplicatedSpaces

YouTuber's
Use Less - capsule wardrobe inspiration......a great place to start.
Style Apotheca  - low buy & minimalist journey......very relatable.
A Small Wardrobe - minimalist......very quirky, excellent tips though!
Benita Larsson - minimalist.....so soothing to watch.
Matt D'avella - minimalist & lots of great life advice.

Netflix documentaries 
The Minimalists - Minimalism 
The Minimalists - Less is Now
The Social Dilemma 

Podcast 
!0% Happier by Dan Harris

I use the Calm app for meditation 🙏



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