"We are what we believe we are."
C.S. Lewis

Friday, February 15, 2013

Less as More

Vintage Chanel jacket in black linen, sourced on etsy.
Smythson handbag.  Eileen Fisher silk charmeuse slip dress, ebay.
I've been playing around with my vintage Chanel jacket this week.  I've pared down my cupboard and closed up some online shopping accounts and I think I finally get the concept of less wardrobe as more personal style.
Work with a few things that fit you well, are comfortable and that you love and you might end up with better outfits that please you more.
 I had nearly given up on this black linen Chanel jacket because the matching skirt is a total disaster.  It was too small when I bought it (not the suit's fault, my bottom is one size bigger than my top) and I tried to have it altered but it is simply too tight.  So I've given up on the skirt and instead found a couple of dresses in my closet that can pair with the jacket.
The jacket itself is fully lined in silk and it is incredibly comfortable.  It has a sort of slouchy fit with a loose belt, which I think suits this Eileen Fisher slip dress.  The dress is a double layer of silk charmeuse and has thin spaghetti straps, so it really needs a jacket with a bit of structure to prevent the "here I am wearing a slip" look.
Smythson Antonia Small Top Handle bag in situ.
The other element going on here and a good example of "Less as More" is the Smythson handbag I am clutching in the photo above.  This new handbag, an investment bag but also a gift from MrBP, has made me want to rework my Chanel jacket so that I might use the bag in the summer.  A good handbag makes everything look better.  Many of you told me that and it is true.
The other element that I find pleasing here are the details: the gold buttons on the jacket, the gold hardware on the bag, the subtle sheen and movement of the silk charmeuse.   (By the way, if you ever come across one of these Eileen Fisher silk dresses on ebay they are beautiful.  I paid about $65 for mine, it was an ebay bargain.)

I had another dress in my cupboard that I sourced on ebay, back in the days when I would look for older J.Crew pieces on the cheap.

J.Crew Evana Dress
I found it on ebay for real cheapie.
 This dress is from 2009 or so and it is a good example of the great construction we were able to find in a J.Crew frock.  Sewn of a heavy white linen it is fully lined in white silk.
 The zipper is sewn in perfectly and hidden up the back under the linen with a bit of grosgrain for structure.
Look at the soft sheen of that silk: it is so comfortable.

 In pairing the jacket with the dress I decided to forgo the original Chanel belt and sash the whole thing with a bit of black silk charmeuse.  It adds a bit more definition to the waist but it also adds a softness to the strict look of black with white.
The dress with the jacket, sashed up.
 I have finished assembling a master wardrobe list which wasn't as tedious a task as it sounds, everything I own is out where I can see it (either in my small regular closet or my storage closet).  I don't have a dresser for things to lurk and hide in thank heavens, we don't have the space in our bedroom (though there is a small dresser in my study which I use to house my wedding gown and other pieces for my daughters).

I have organized the items I am no longer keeping into different categories: consign, sell on the JCA exchange, give to charity, give to friends.  I had decided to sell this navy cashmere pantsuit but then realized it could take up the position of "new dark suit" which was on my shopping list for the year.
J.Crew navy cashmere pantsuit 2010.
Sourced on ebay for cheapie.
You see, it looks so much better with the bag!  The bag gives this suit a new life and it makes the outfit feel more like me.  The bag is lined with navy and has bits of navy threading which makes it quite suitable for a navy and black colour story.  I had decided to sell this suit on the JCA exchange but then tried it on one more time and I'm so glad I did, that's one big ticket item I won't be buying this year.  Considering that this year and next are about saving cheddar the whole decision makes me feel good and sensible.

But don't worry, I'm not going to get too sensible on you, check out my outfit for tonight:
Black cashmere Brora jumper 2011.
Black velvet Brora skirt 2011.
This is something I never, ever wear: a long skirt.  Partly because MrBP says this when he sees me in a long skirt: "oh you're wearing a long skirt" (imagine that being said in an unenthusiastic monotone).  Truly I am not such a fan myself as I just couldn't see myself wearing this out of the house.  But it is perfect loungewear you see, and fine for having friends at home for drinks.  Then when you've booted your friends out it is perfect for curling up on the sofa and watching Upstairs Downstairs with a big snifter of brandy.

I hope you have a super fun weekend.
xoxDani

59 comments:

  1. You have some gorgeous pieces in this post, Dani. The perfect jacket goes a long way in making so many things look chic and pulled together. The bag is to die for.
    We are having a family "Bonding" night tonight-Skyfall finally made it to on demand and we will be watching it together.

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    1. Julie I can't wait to see that movie! Have fun with your boys!

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  2. Oh I love all of this Dani, I am looking at the perfect capsule wardrobe - for me! Thanks so much for letting us see, the Antonia in that shape, it's beautiful, mine is the tall one, I am loving them both sick as FF would say.

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    1. Tabs thanks yes I love those bags sick as well and as our FF would also say they are 11/10!

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  3. Hi Dani, what a genius pairing of the J. Crew linen skirt with the Chanel jacket - it is perfect for this spring, so elegant and sophisticated! And you are right to keep the cashmere suit: when paired with the Smythson bag, it looks so polished. My husband bought the Skyfall DVD so we will be curled up on the sofa with pear cider and a big bowl of popcorn. Happy weekend!

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    1. Louise you're watching it too just like Julie. I must see that movie, that sounds like a perfect cozy night with your husband, have fun.

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  4. PS I love long skirts and am clapping like a seal at the last pic.

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    1. Tabs I do like it when you do your seal clap! I bought that skirt on the Brora clearance for a great price, I sized up and I'm glad I did, it is comfy and slouchy. The velvet they use is amazing.

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    2. I like long skirts too, but David has the same reaction and affect that Mr. BP has when I put one on. Hides the disapproval with a bewildered sentence that states the obvious.

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    3. Mine doesn't mind them, I traipse about all summer in long dresses and skirts, the only thing he can't stand which I just found out last night when someone was wearing one on TV is a denim jacket, but I can't bear them either.

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    4. Inspired by Dani's styling, I just tried mine on, which is navy, with a navy cashmere Brora v-neck sweater, and it looks great.
      I guess I should have clarified - I wear them easily in the summer, and David does like them then, as there's skin showing somewhere else. It's in the winter, that I've had trouble not looking like some aging Pilgrim.

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    5. "Aging Pilgrim" - that's hilarious.

      My husband gave me that stating the obvious with slightly curious inflection reaction when I wore a poncho sweater. Lucky for him, I just wanted it to keep me warm at my desk at work, so he never sees it!

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    6. Chuckling here over 'aging pilgrim'!! Kathy the navy long skirt + sweater sounds perfect.
      Abby I had a big plaid poncho-wrap thing about 10 years ago, I took it on a family ski holiday and my MIL told me I looked like a big weirdo! I couldn't believe it!

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  5. Fantastic post, Dani, I just love it. You really do seem more at home in your clothing now.

    The bag is perfect in situ. You look great in the pant suit and I really like the way you're incorporating your Chanel jacket.

    A velvet skirt for a Friday evening in, how perfectly luxurious. Much nicer than polyester yoga pants!

    If you could wager a guess, what percent or proportion of your wardrobe do you think you're getting rid of? I've arbitrarily decided that I'd like to reduce mine by about 2/3.

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  6. p.s. Skyfall is really good! I went to see it with my husband and my in-laws and everyone loved it (I did not expect that).

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    1. Abby I would say about 75% will be gone, there have been stages of course and most of the items that have left have been JCrew. Luckily they fetched good prices on consignment for the most part. The Brora items have all stayed and some things have been put away for my daughters. Interesting question as I hadn't thought about the percentage!

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  7. Love your outfits and so glad you didn't get rid of that navy suit. Still want to see the velvet Brora dress on you too. Smythson will be one of my first stops in London. I think finding the right black bag is much harder than any other color. Also, I do love black bags and shoes in the summer, grounds all the light colors in a classic, yet slightly edgy way.

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    1. Sorry to butt in here, but Kathy, can you email me please, mine to you just bounced back again, I'll tag on to yours and see if that helps.

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    2. Kathy I am looking forward to your Smythson stop, wait until you see the bags in person, they are so well made.

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  8. Dani ,Love the Chanel jacket with the white linen dress.With the warm weather season being so short ,I would not have had much use for the white linen dress.Now the look is great for spring and with all the reviews stating black and white are the in colors for spring you are all set! I also love the long skirt with the sweater,how cozy. Hope you have a wonderful weekend and hope your valentines day was special! Do hope you will show us your other velvet dress soon.

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    1. Hi Anon, thank you. I did not get a picture of the velvet dress though I did love wearing it, very cozy and warm. I do like velvet pieces this time of year and by end of March they really can't be worn any more, now's the time!

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  9. Black and white is my favourite in the summer. I 'm not use to seeing you in pants and really like the pantsuit with the new bag. Happy weekend.

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    1. Marsha happy weekend to you as well. Black and white is a classic and it always looks appropriate. Me in pants=very strange!

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  10. Well you have inspired me again! Just brilliant and so good to see full on bag with such lovely outfits! When I see that Chanel, that is when you understand the timelessness of certain things.

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    1. Hi Dani - I had only left a short message before as I was heading out the door. Just wanted to say - I love you in the long skirt and am in Tabs territory on this one!

      I think that this renewed vigour of culling the wardrobe and making outfits and plans is such a good one. I am working on same list. SOme things I have put aside in the "maybe" category - they are things I really like and which are tight and which hopefully will not be tight by later spring. If they are, off they go. The rest are wending their way out the door via various routes!

      I really like the linen dress - this is one of those classic pieces worth their weight in gold! I truly love a linen dress!!

      All this to say - this is getting mad good here in your closet! and you can see the difference keeping key pieces make!

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    2. WMM thanks for the encouraging comment, it's all been a good process and by minimizing the existing wardrobe the shopping list for the year changes and shrinks which is interesting.

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  11. WELL SUITED Right Dani, add me to the chorus of "commies" who is delighted you've found wear for the "other" Chanel jacket, and renewed life in the suit. Of course you know I luff The Bag 11/10 and something sick. But I am biased.
    Have another big sack each for consignment and goodwill, a PTTO box and a happy stack for the tailor. Will be feeling that much lighter by tomorrow afternoon.
    N.B. If you don't have PPV, happy to shoot Skyfall over to you. Have already seen it of course, but Mike also got me a copy for my collection this week.
    P.P.S. Hermes scarf from blog colour story with suit?

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    1. Pantsuit is happy to be rescued by skirt lady. As B&P would say Charlie, not a vestige of Clinton.

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    2. GF yes that Hermes scarf pairs nicely with navy cashmere, good call! Charlie! Thank you!

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  12. Hi Dani-I really like the way that you have given this jacket a new life. I just love the Evana dress, I am sure it looks gorgeous on you with your lovely shape and dark hair. Your evening bag is simply perfect. Thank you for such inspirational pairings!

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    1. Hi David, well thanks for the lovely comment. That dress is very simple but great fabric, it's a perfect base.

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  13. Dani, I am salivating over the pantsuit. Although a cashmere pantsuit would be limited wear for me in the desert, I want it any way. It looks smashing on you! The Evana dress is now on my wish list. I will have to stalk eBay. Now that is a garment perfectly suited for my climate, and look at where it hits you! Perfection. The older J. Crew pieces weren't too short as many of the newer ones are.

    You have a very well defined sense of style. I look forward to every new post.

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    1. Hi DF, this dress is a great example of the great pieces J.Crew did, the silk lining is amazing. It would be perfect on you and it is worth looking for!
      Thanks so much!

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  14. Hi Dani, I'm so glad that you have found ways to wear the Chanel jacket, despite the disappointment about the skirt. And how could you have thought about getting rid of that navy suit, it's lovely!
    Have a great weekend!

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    1. Hi Patricia, I might like the Chanel jacket better on its own anyway. I'm happy to be done with squeezing into that skirt!

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  15. Dani, I have come to really really enjoy reading your blog posts. In fact, I love your fashion sense. AND, I am so glad you are going to embrace the less is more, quality is better idea. You are going to be superb at that. I love everything you have shown us in this post, including the elegant long skirt. The Chanel jacket is lovely too. Hmmm---an investment purse. I've never really done that. I'll give it some thought.

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    1. Susan thanks so much and thanks for the encouraging comments you've left me as far as going for better quality, fewer pieces.
      The bags are a great example of that. I owned about 12 handbags and now I am down to 3: my LV dark brown fall and winter everyday bag, the black Smythson for going out, and a straw bag for spring/summer everyday that I will probably replace with something a bit better like a Tory Burch straw bag (it won't break the bank and the bag I have is JCrew and is falling apart of course).

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  16. Dani,I love, love it all as well! You look good in pretty much anything, but your new bag is super-lovely and looks as if it was made just for you! If you ever go on the run and need to change your name, I think Antonia is very you!

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    1. Sulky you're always planning for contingencies! Antonia would be a perfect on-the-run name!

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  17. I recently purchased my first ebay item...$15 bracelet. I must not become addicted to it. Your jacket is beautiful and can be worn with just about everything. I prefer pallazo(sp?) pants over long skirts but the effect is roughly the same - comfort.

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    1. Hi Blue Booby, well ebay can be addictive especially if you get into bidding. My strategy is decide on a price I can pay and then bid that and be done with it, I don't go back to look to see if I have been out-bid, if I win then so be it and I haven't overpaid, that is my best advice!

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  18. I love the navy suit, and the handbag definitely adds a perfect touch. Navy and black is one of my favorite combinations. I like your Chanel paring as well. I still have a hard time believing a tailor couldn't alter the skirt. Could they remove the original waistband and add a new one( perhaps from a different fabric so it looks deliberate)? I need to find your old photos again. I think you might need a dressmaker, not a tailor to solve your problems. I wonder if Chanel has a source for alterations?

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    1. Hi Knityarns, the skirt could not be let out so I had it raised and the waistband chopped to create more room through the waist and hips. The problem is it is still way too tight at the hip, there's nothing really to be done about it unless I find a real expert dressmaker as you point out!

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  19. Well, I'm sad the Chanel skirt didn't work, but the jacket is divine, hope you're holding on to the skirt to cannabilize the fabric & lining in case of jacket emergencies. And I love the jacket as a "goes-with."

    We wound up having pizza/red wine (me)/beer (him) last night after a horrible day, we both brought back colds from a looong flight in a petri dish, and I hate v-day in restaurants anyway. Too much tension in the air. I've never been in a resto when a proposal happened, but I have when they didn't, and believe me, not pretty.

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    1. Hi Fred I'm sad to hear you've brought back colds, flights are terrible for that. Yes Valentine's Day out is often over-rated, our dinner was very good though there were some loud and interesting personalities at the restaurant. I am definitely keeping the skirt, it might fit the next owner of the jacket!

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  20. Dani, I love seeing your style journey, it has changed so much in the last few years, and I do think you have a more defined personal style now that is all yours, rather than just the next new thing from the monthly J Crew rollout.

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    1. Tabs thanks, and funny you mention that because I actually closed down my J.Crew online account yesterday after writing this post. I cancelled my credit account with them months ago but now I've gone all the way! Too many disappointments and mailing back packages.

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  21. You've elevated the Chanel jacket with the sash, it's quite an elegant touch. Unfortunate about the skirt but at least the jacket is wearable and lovely. The cashmere pantsuit can last you years, you could wear it for any serious occasion that takes place in the cooler months.

    I did a wee bit of shopping in London but I seem to have limited enthusiasm for it these days. I'll put up a post with the 1 or 2 photos that my husband took. On the top of my list now is a replacement camera. :^(

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    1. xoxo well that would be top of my list too! I look forward to your photos and thank you, that cashmere outfit is quite nice, the pants are so comfortable. I wore that outfit in Paris in October and it was just the thing, I'm glad I changed my mind on it. Of course the jacket is lined in poly because it is J.Crew but I might have that switched out.

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  22. Dani, You mentioned your wedding dress which is stored away. Would you show us photos? Would you describe and how you chose it way back when. It might lead to an interesting discussion about everyone else's wedding dresses. I would love to hear.

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    1. Susan that is a great idea for a post. I do have some photos from the day as well. My best friend's daughter wore my dress when she was married two years ago so it's already had some extra use.
      it would be fun to read about the wedding gowns!

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  23. A great handbag or clutch definitely elevates an outfit!

    Sorry to hear about the Chanel skirt not working out but glad you are working your magic with the jacket. I like how you paired the jacket with your dresses.

    oh and I agree with Sulky - "Antonia" can be your alter-ego!

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    1. LR it was too bad about the skirt, I had to stop fighting it. ;)

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  24. Goodness, you're so disciplined with your wardrobe approach. I need to take a page out of your book.... I have vowed not to buy any more "Going out" dresses, as I don't wear the ones I have nearly enough. But then I find myself still browsing them on the internet. Must. Stay. Strong!

    Love the Chanel jacket, what a lovely transeasonal piece.

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    1. Hi Heidi, I was known to collect party frocks at one time myself! I don't have many left in my closet but maybe you keep looking because you feel like something's missing... I think a great coat for wearing out is a good investment. I have one for winter and one for spring/fall, they both pair nicely with my black dresses.

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  25. Dani I think your clothes are looking better and better on you as you streamline and cull your collection. The Chanel jacket is a fine prize and I believe it looks better with your choices than with the skirt that was meant for it.

    I love the idea of a long velvet skirt for entertaining at home. More comfy than the work clothes you've had on all day, but a little more presentable than polar fleece pants and a sweater!

    I am at the place where i need to sit down and really evaluate a master wardrobe plan. I haven't been foolish, but I do need to assess what I really WANT to wear, not just what i think I'll wear. Does that make sense? Also to think of how I want to be perceived at work. Over and over it comes down to that--the definition of self!

    Please do a little post on your Smythson bag!!!

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  26. Dani, I agree with everybody, the Chanel jacket looks great with the sash and I am happy for you that you are liberating yourself from J.Crew regime. I am right there with you! Your style definitely benefits from it. I always like the Evana dress but it was so expensive, so glad you scored it on ebay. And I agree the cashmere suit does not have to be worn often to have a value in your wardrobe, you can just keep it for those occasions when it it will be just the thing to wear, I think it will also look great with your LV bag and Liberty scarf. Ikwym about the velvet skirt, I never wore my long skirts for the same reasons, I think I will now...

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  27. My favorite is also that jacket over the white dress. Looks wonderful - the tied sash is just that perfect thing.

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  28. The jacket over the white dress and the sash is perfection. I want to be where you are with my closet with one exception, a long skirt to curl up in would be dressing for my fantasy life. ;)

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