Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Long and The Short Of It

I complain like anyone else every morning when faced with dressing that I have nothing to wear - much to the chagrin of my beleaguered boyfriend.  Part of the reason for writing this blog is to convince myself otherwise of this clearly gross misconception.  In my attempt to reduce the whole process to an exact science I even bought some advisory text books on the topic and have been consulting articles on the web to help me out.  According to every style manual I have read recently the key to solving the dilemma of what to wear is to invest in good basics so I am dedicating some posts to these.

I admit my research has left me more confused on what constitutes a good basic.  What is a basic?  Depends on whose talking it seems.  Conventional wisdom seems to agree that basics include those classic items that take you from season to season and accessorise to bring your wardrobe up to date - the little black dress, a good suit, the crisp white shirt, the trench, the simple jersey pieces.  Cast your net a bit wider and it becomes more difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff in terms of advice.  According to the Guardian's guide to 10 brilliant basics for Spring there are "basic clothes (jeans, ­jumpers, T-shirts) and then there are fashion basics, (the right jeans, the right jumpers, the right T-shirts): the difference dictates whether you look stylish or not."  To augment the latter category in your wardrobe they recommend a pale powdery pastel blazer, a sweatshirt in a boxy fit, a denim shirt (to do the double denim trend), chinos and quite hideous ankle boots.

Really?  Powdery pastels, through pretty, tend to make me look washed out.  A boxy fit makes one look exactly that - boxy.  A denim shirt and double denim are nanosecond trends that I'm sure the very same fashion writers will be telling me to delete from my wardrobe come July.  You won't catch me dead in chinos and surely ankle boots needn't make you look like a lumberjack in stilettos.  I know there must be a certain obligation to plug products but this kind of gospel decree on what to buy according to the new trends can grate after a while.  I may be being churlish but what happened to the concept of buying clothes on the basis that they suit and flatter you?  Isn't that the first hurdle a basic should clear?  Don't get me wrong - I love following fashion and working a trend can be fun but lets call a spade a spade.  I read the difference in this definition of "fashion basic" as dictating as to whether you look trendy or not rather than stylish. 

And to complicate this issue further the debate rages as to what one should spend on basics.  There seems to be two schools of thought saying exactly the opposite.  One says that this is where you should spend a lot of money as these items are meant to be classics that last several seasons and that you will wear often.  The second (in which the Guardian seems to be camped) is that you should not spend much money at all and renew often (especially giving that this season's denim shirt that is currently classed as a basic will be so last year next season).  Help?

One guide recommends that for a versatile and practical wardrobe one must have "long-sleeved t-shirts or tops in varying weights but in basic colours such as black, white or cream".  Well clearly no shortage of long sleeved t-shirts and tops in many colours (with some short sleeved thrown in for good measure), except I seem to be lacking in the white and cream category...

From top to bottom:
Royal blue long sleeved lace trim cardigan by Kookai
Lilac short sleeve v-neck knit tee by Mango
Olive jersey turtleneck by Mango
Dusty Pink off the shoulder long sleeved rib knit top by Mango
Pink jersey frill trim long sleeve top by Chine
Pink cotton zip neck turtleneck with front beading detail by Uniform
Wine merino wool turtleneck with balloon sleeves by Jaeger
Dark Berry lace trim long sleeved cross front knit top by DeCjuba
Brown long sleeved ribbon trim v-neck t-shirt by Joseph
Chocolate boat neck long sleeve top by Karen Millen
Silver grey long sleeved ribbon trim v-neck t-shirt by Joseph
Pale grey marl long sleeve t-shirt by Cos
Grey cotton long sleeved t-shirt with draped neck silk front by Cos
Grey jersey turtleneck by Warehouse
Grey jersey draped neck turtleneck by Rick Owens Lilies
Charcoal scoop neck t-shirt with pleat frill trim and balloon sleeves by Chine
Black short sleeve high neck knit top by Kookai
Black short sleeve high neck knit top with satin sleeves by Mango
Black slinky cowl neck knit with three quarter length sleeves by Mango
Black wool Victorian style turtleneck with lace trim neckline and sleeves by Chine
Black wool turtleneck with puffed shoulders by Malene Birger
Black short sleeve boat neck rib knit by Jigsaw

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