Thursday, 2 December 2010

Back to Black

Yesterday's outfit.  No I was not attending a funeral.  Could have fooled you huh?  I remind myself of Mary Poppins.  Just missing a jaunty Victorian hat.  Or maybe I look more like the chimney sweep covered in black soot head to toe.  Sigh!  All black outfit.  Again.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect £200.  Go straight to fashion jail.

It so happens I had to look serious and businesslike yesterday and the warmest things I had to hand for a snowy day were all black.  This is what I wear to pimp myself out to gain work.  Pictures like this make me realise how ingrained hiding my feminity becomes when dressing professionally.  Cynthia of Be Fabulous Daily and Mrs Bossa did a very interesting Friday Friday exchange last week about this very issue - of whether appearing feminine at work can hinder how you are percieved professionally.

Be Fabulous Daily also offered up an interesting and related quote by Robert Davies from which I took note.  "If you look like an underling, you'll be taken for an underling, because people haven't always time to find out what you really are. So do smarten up."  The point being that we can change people's perception of us by changing our appearance.  Dress for the job you want not for the job you're in?  Though I might do well to replace underling with undertaker and give the statement some reconsideration!

I dug out my wool sailor trousers which have tragically had to be adjusted lengthwise to save the hem from snow and puddles and are now too short for my liking.  When it's dry I take the hem down to the floor and wear them with high heels.  I bought them from the Kate Moss Topshop range and they've seen me through three winters already.  They're holding up well for a high street garment!

I'm also wearing an alpaca wool coat, a cashmere blend jacket, my trusty turtlenecks (two), a Uniqlo Heat Tech thermal, the now obligatory two pairs of tights (wool over Heat Techs) and my umbrella.  Thought I'd copy all those 30 for 30 bloggers posing with umbrellas (though I haven't actually seen one yet so I'm obviously out of the loop there).  However I actually was carrying mine around all day against the threat of snow showers.

The only flat boots I had were unfortunately my distressed bikers which are incongruous against the other shades of black I had on but as the pavements are encrusted with treacherously slippery ice at the moment I don't dare put anything with heels on. Nor do I feel like spoiling any suede, patent and pony skin boots trudging through puddles of black icy sludge.

I like to think my bikers lend the outfit a kind of dishevelled Dickensien Artful Dodginess - hiding behind a cloak of respectable black are the subversive street urchin shoes, giving away that I'm possibly capable of picking your pockets.  But hey who am I kidding?  I just don't have any other snow friendly shoe that won't send me toppling over as I brave the newly formed public ice rink that were once the pavements of London.
A word about the blazer which is from the Jil Sander J+ for Uniqlo collaboration.  I'm not a minimalist type of gal usually but I was intrigued by an article written by Paula Reid in Grazia magazine publicising the release of the J+ range and the shots for the publicity campaign made the collection look quite impressive.  Ms Reid was practically having fashion orgasms over the collection, gushing over the quality and cut for the price.  The article quoted Sander herself saying that women came back and bought bagfuls of her first collection for Uniqlo because they had literally fallen in love with their new fashion selves and after seeing what I can only imagine was some miraculous transformation in front of the mirror.

I'm the sort of optimist that likes to believe in a fashion miracle so I bought some pieces online to add to my workwear wardrobe: a blue pea coat, a mannish wool tuxedo jacket and some mannish trousers.  I returned all of them.  It wasn't that they were not nice and well cut.  I just somehow wasn't falling over head over heels with me when I looked in the mirror.  Maybe I'm just secretly sick of having to dress like a man for the sake of earning money.

They also didn't pass the Mr Veshoevius test, which is just one of the things I use in deciding whether I keep or return a new purchase I'm feeling guilty about.  If I parade for him wearing said purchase and he bursts out laughing I usually keep it as it is a good indication that it is so far forward a fashion statement as to be incomprehensible to the average British male (Yeti coats and feather skirts are good examples).  But if he just wrinkles his nose up than it is a kind of "meh" neither here nor there piece and not worth keeping.

I did however also drop by to see the carnage in the Uniqlo on Oxford Street a couple of days after the J+ release.  I left with this classically cut blazer in a fifty percent cashmere and wool mix.  Its warmth and cut finally convinced me to part with my cash and it looks way smarter than the couple of extra layers of knitwear I usually lump on.

Is it snowing where you are?  There is a full blown snowball war occurring in my street at the moment!  How are you all coping with the cold weather?


  1. You really need a peaked cap for the Artful Dodger look ;) And fingerless gloves!

    I need to get some of this heat tech stuff. I am so bad at buying things like thermals and tights because they are a bit boring. It has got to crisis stage in my wardrobe though, so I thinka bit os sensible shopping is in order.

  2. Wuhaa, I love this coat! I often take refuge in black, it's just easy, though I know it makes me look drained and haggard. But as your outfit shows... Simply black often works wonderfully.
    Oh yes, we do have LOADS of snow! Still snowed in, actually. xo

  3. Veshoevius,

    I've been having so many similar thoughts rambling in my mind, and here you go and put them all down so eloquently. I despair of dressing sensibly. I despair of dressing like a man or dressing to hide my decolletage for the sake of income or status. While I need not worry too much about that at the moment as a freelancer, the threat feels always near.

    These are the times I want to explain to puritans: A woman can dress sexy and chic in France and not be taken for an imbecile. Curves are gorgeous. So are legs.

    Quote: "Dress for the job you want not for the job you're in." I love this. That's what I'm attempting to do. Make that transformation. I've been searching for a way to put that succinctly, and here it is.

    Unfortunately, that does not mean we can dress for the *weather* we want. Pinned up hem, less than marvelous shoes, bulky layers--that's life in Minnesota. And oh how it frustrates during the holiday season! This is when the sparkles and the platforms should be out!

    As I wrote to your comment on my blog: Check out Brigitte Singh if her patterns at all appeal. Her quilted garments will keep your body at the perfect temperature. I promise.


  4. I never ask my husband what he thinks of what i am wearing or I would end up looking like her mum or her auntie hehehehe. I just follow my long nose in my likes and dislikes jejejeje.
    No nieva aquí; aunque para el sur de España hace mucho frío. En este momento estamos a +7º- 40ºc de diferencia con el mes de agosto. Una locura totalllllllllllllll.

  5. Yes, fingerless wrist warmers and an Olde English Terrier would finish the Artful Dodger look off to a tee.
    I love the test you do with Mr V, mine's the same, a puzzled look or a snigger is good and a "what the hell is that?" definately isn't.
    It hasn't stopped snowing for 48 hours here but it's set to drop to minus 8 later. Nice! xxx

  6. You do look fierce in all that black.

    I think there is a middle ground somewhere between putting on a "man costume" to project authority and being too girlie at work. I'm trying to find it. Or define it for myself.

  7. What another wonderful post lovely lady, you put so much effort into each and every one and I always look forward to a good read when I visit you here:).
    I actually love the coat - it's a great shape for your tiny little self, cut close to the body and in a beautiful fabric.
    I like your outfit taste-test and I must say I have a similar system in place, yet funnily enough, when I get a confused frown from the Phoenix, my daughter is there beaming with a thumbs-up. Guess males and females will always differ in their perceptions of style. Thank god!
    Desiree xo

  8. Fingerless gloves and a hat would indeed perfect this outfit. I have to say that I am loving that jacket, and would snatch it up in a second if someone let me loose in your wardrobe. I like playing with more androgynous looks and with cross-dressing, but for interviews I almost always opt for skirt suits because I feel like they fit me better and leave me one less thing to feel self-conscious about during the process.

  9. Hello V...I'm with Sacramento in that I do not ask my husband's opinion of what I have on, but I often give him the opportunity to select between items I am pondering, especially if we're going out on a date. He almost always picks shorter dresses and OTK boots. But I'm not really surprised! That's what most men like.

    Man, it must be seriously cold over there. No snow here; we don't usually get a sprinkling until January or February. Stay warm!

    ♥ V
    twitter: @gritandglamour

  10. I find myself inadvertently pulling out black too. . but a chimney sweep? No way!

    Love how you describe Mr V as your fashion litmus. My boyfriend functions as that too, although in a slightly different way. . everytime he wrinkles his nose, it is a no. Unfortunately, he hardly wrinkles his nose which is why I end up choosing so many clothes!

    The snow over here is insanely thick. . snowball wars in the middle of the roads when all traffic comes to a standstill feels surreal

  11. Given the weather you've had to deal with, I would think simply showing up would impress a potential employer!

    It's the cashmere jacket that stood out to me in this look. I love the slight flare of it at the bottom.

    And your Mr. Veshoevius test is hilarious. I may have to try that with DH!

  12. I have to agree with the others on here - that outfit is fab and very chic!

    It's interesting how you bring up the topic of hiding feminity in order to be taken more seriously in the professional world. I guess it all goes back to being in a male dominated world where most of them have the higher up positions.

    As I promised on Twitter, I will pack up some of this Florida sunshine and send it to you! I used to live in cold weather and was miserable! LOL

  13. @Penny Dreadful - I know, I know (peaked cap) - can't find one I like though!

    @Sabine Psynopsis - it is a failsafe really black, especially at work! Your snowy pics of where you live are amazing.

    @Aesthetic Alterations - I didn't coin the phrase "dress for the job you want etc..." actually. It has been kicking around here for a good while as advice for dressing for career progression. Bit difficult when you arrive with a Topshop budget at a workplace where the boss is in Prada and Chanel let me tell you!
    Thanks for the tipoff on Brigette Singh!

    @sacramento - jajaja - actually Mr V has pretty good taste so I trust him but also at the end of the day myself too.

    @Vintage Vixen - would love a terrier! Love dogs. I'm glad I'm not the only one who courts a second opinion from their man!

  14. @Cynthia - "man costume" LOL! Unless I wear a skirt suit it does all get very Victor Victoria for me.

    @Marella - thank you!

    @Pull Your Socks Up - "when I get a confused frown from the Phoenix, my daughter is there beaming with a thumbs-up" Aaawww bless!! That is lovely! Must be wonderful to have a daughter to share a love of clothes with.

    @La Historiadora de Moda - I must admit I like an androgynous look from time to time but doing it day to day I get bored - and I also wear skirt suits to interviews if it is warm enough!

    @Grit and Glamour - I guess I use Mr V as a foil to keep my level of clothes consumption down - not that it usually works as I feel strongly about something I'll keep it whatever. He usually has a pretty good eye though - his Mum works in fashion.

    @devillishypleasurable - "Unfortunately, he hardly wrinkles his nose which is why I end up choosing so many clothes!" Haha - I bet everything looks fab on you that's why!

    @Terri - I wish! I hope to hear about the results of your test with DH.

    @MJ - year 2010 and surprisingly little has changed in terms of the old glass ceilings at least in the UK. Quick send that sunshine!!

  15. I think your outfit is so hip and chic. Would a scarf in a color like fuschia or red be to feminine for your place of work?
    I ask my husband what he thinks with what I picked out sometimes and the majority of the time he thinks it's cool. Sometimes I will ask him what jewelry he likes with a particular outfit I have on. I will give choices when I like both options.
    In my neck of the woods there has been snow flurries but no accumulation yet. We usually get snow late December, January and February. I must admit when the snow falls it looks so pretty.

  16. Man, you really are cold, aren't you?!
    You may have a slight Dickensian air, but in the best possible way...! You do such entertaining posts, you know.

    Mr Bossa's reactions are "s'alright" which means it looks nice, or "'s not the kind of thing I imagine you in...", which means it's too 'fashionable' (harems being a case in point). If I get an intake of breath and a Hollywood kiss, then the outfit is a real winner. :)


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