Friday, 14 January 2011

Caped Crusader and Friend Friday - Outfit Planning

I can't believe it is Friend Friday already!  This week we are discussing outfit planning.  Friend Friday is run by ModlyChic.  To participate email

Answering this post has been very enlightening for me as I've come to realise I don't really plan outfits for my daily, normal, run-of-the-mill activities.  Instead I plan outfits in a very unstructured, spontaneous way, conjuring up some really outlandish outfits I could potentially wear when the time is right.  I think this is probably a fundamental flaw in my approach to dressing but organising my wardrobe like clockwork doesn't really come very naturally to me!

For this post I recreated last Sunday's outfit.  This is an example of one of these pre-planned outfits which was eventually worn to an art gallery exhibition.  I thought that I'd be quite unassuming in a London art gallery wearing a cape and that surely it would be teeming with arty types dressed in far more dramatic things.  Boy was I wrong! So many people were fairly dressed down (it was Sunday after all) so I felt a tad overdressed.

1. How do you determine what you will wear that day?
How much thought I put into it really depends on what I'm doing and where I'm going, but the single most important factor for me is the weather.

English weather is very changeable and so mastering layering is important for people like me who really feel the cold.  I usually layer up, go outside to do a temperature test, and layer up some more if required.  Even in the summer.  I have been known to get down the street before turning around and going home again to get more layers as was the case with this outfit, I forgot there are no sleeves on capes so your arms get cold - I ended up with six including the cape!  I swear I must be coldblooded.  Lying for a long time on a warm rock in cold temperatures before mustering the energy to get up and do anything makes complete sense to me. I'm sure if I donated blood the vials would be rejected and returned labelled "Blood Type: REPTILIAN"

Before deciding on footwear I'll also take into careful consideration if I'll be walking or standing a lot or catching public transport.  I do love heels and often carry a pair with me to change into if I'm wearing flats to travel and need to be dressier later, but I'm so over hobbling around a big city just to be stylish!  On Sunday I opted for flat biker boots instead of the heeled ones pictured because the exhibition was large and we were going to walk around the neighbourhood afterwards.

Lately I've also been making an effort to prioritise things that I haven't worn yet.  I love capes but it has been too cold to wear them until recently.   When the temperatures got milder I jumped at the chance to wear this one  mainly because the label has been hanging accusingly on it since I bought in back in November.

2. Do you plan outfits out in advance for a whole week, month, weekend? 

Never. I wish I could be that organised as I am sure I'd get much more wear out of my clothes that way.  I'm much more about throwing something on and running out of the house most days which means I can end up wearing the same things all the time and looking pretty dull.

I do however, regularly think up outfits in my head using the more interesting pieces in my wardrobe, but it's not even really with a specific event in mind at the time or even really thinking about whether it is suitable or practical for what I'm actually doing on a daily basis (which it almost never is!).

Either I think of a piece I own or I may have bought a new piece I like.  I will then mentally plan an outfit around said piece.  When the planets and stars are aligned correctly and the right occasion arises, then I'll wear it.  The result is that I have many of these so called "virtual" outfits which haven't been worn yet!   This outfit was constructed around the cape and I was trying to show off the line and shape of it whilst remaining warm under what is really quite a drafty garment.

The only time I do plan ahead in great detail is for big events.  Then I will be meticulously planning everything down to the handbag, hosiery, shoes and jewellery ahead of time and even go shopping if necessary.

3. Do you have any specific way of tracking outfits and items already worn so you don't repeat?

Apart from committing them to memory no.  However this blog is turning out to be a useful archive of outfits in itself and taking photos of outfits is proving to be a great way of seeing what works and what doesn't for me.

I don't have a problem with repeat wearing of an outfit if I find it really works for me, but I might tweak it a bit by changing the shoes and accessories to keep things interesting.  For instance I really like this outfit and would wear it again but I had originally imagined it as pictured here, paired with these sky high shearling boots.  So this is the upgraded version I plan to wear next time I feel a calling to wear a cape.  The beauty of layering is that adding and removing them is also a sly way of varying outfits.  I could change the gilet for a furry one in the cold or lose a few layers if it gets warmer.

4. How do you discover new combinations of items in your closet? (Trial try-ons?  Hanging items together?)

Hanging items together does generate ideas for me as I have an open clothes rail in my bedroom where a lot of my clothes are on permanent display.  I tend to mentally juggle these and items concealed in my other wardrobe (for which I have to rely on memory) to create new combinations just before going to sleep. But I'm a bit strange like that.  It's my way of counting sheep!  I would also recommend learning the art of layering - playing around with different ways of layering up generates new ideas for me all the time. 

Nothing however, beats a trail try-on to show you whether your virtual outfits look as good as you imagined them to be in the cold harsh light of reality.  Trying things on is pretty much how I get dressed day to day.  Sometimes I'm working from something from my virtual outfit memory bank and sometimes I'm working from a blank slate making it up as I go along.  I try something on, see if it works, take it off if I don't like it, try something else on instead and repeat the process until I either like what I see or I run out of time and need to get out the door.  It usually means I end up leaving a huge mess behind me in the bedroom and that I leave late!

5. To streamline the process for 2011 what is one new thing you can do to cut down your dressing time?

Probably to sell everything and start again with a capsule wardrobe of some classic items and wardrobe staples where you could pull pieces out and it all instantly fits together into snap lock outfits!  Sounds like I need a fashion fix from Gok Wan.  But life would seem a little dull by comparison.  I like to think some creativity is born out of my daily chaos!

I would love to be one of those ladies who has Polaroid snapshots of all her shoes pasted on the outside of her shoe boxes and has everything for the week ahead lined up to wear on pristine padded hangers, but that is just not me.

However I do now realise that I'd definitely benefit from more planning on a regular basis than I currently manage for my daily outfits, rather than getting carried away styling special ones I may not ever wear in my head.  Or maybe I should just plough through the virtual outfits and wear them regardless of what I'm doing!  Just wear that sequin jacket and feather skirt to Tescos!  If I also made the time to do more trail try-ons when I have a spare moment rather than when I am about to get dressed to go out then I'll know what does and doesn't work in advance which would be a huge timesaver.

How do you plan your outfits?

Cape, Leather leggings, Wool turtle-neck, T-shirt dress, all Cos; Draped wrap cardigan, All Saints; Hooded zip gilet, Kaylee Tankus; Thermal top and tights worn underneath, Uniqlo; Shearling boots, Topshop; Necklace, Merle O'Grady.


  1. Artists can actually be a bit boring fashion-wise, can't they. I love this outfit, it is very chic.

    Speaking of being cold-blooded, you should maybe give bikram yoga a try. I've only done it a few times, but it is about the only time I have been properly hot in this country! x

  2. Overdressed? How crazy. Maybe it's a North of London thing but at gallery openings round here it's all floaty frocks and dramatic layers. How silly to waste an opportunity to dress up.
    I love your outfit. Like you I think of outfit combinations when I can't sleep and never plan ahead. Even a song on the radio can influence my mood for the day. xxx

  3. hello...I really dont preplan my outfits either. As long as what we are doing works, right? lol....your cape is it:0

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  4. V.--you are such a tease! I love the second photo where I think I am about to see your face. I won't be posting my answers until Tuesday when my new semester kicks off...but in so many ways my process is equally messy.

  5. Well said! In my experience it's really easy to feel overdressed in London. You think 'Oh I'll just put on this nice thing I never get to wear' and everyone else is wearing jeans... Question 3 made me laugh. Avoid repeating your outfit? I CONSTANTLY repeat my outfits. I've got a uniform (skinnies, sweater, high-heeled boots) I put on in the morning half-asleep. It's actually the blog that makes me reflect upon outfits and how to put things together.
    Last not least - I'm also a reptile! Hating cold with a vengeance! xoxo

  6. Seriously loving the cape!! I'm jealous because I am sure it goes with everything and it is no doubt the perfect cold weather accent. As usual, thanks for participating in FBFF! - Katy

  7. Cool layering. Most of the time I don't plan my outfits, especially for work. I keep my work clothes grouped together and with a minimal color palette: black, grey, navy, white, cream. Everything goes together, so it takes me 60 seconds to figure it out. It takes me longer to dress casually as my whole closet opens up to me. Occasionally, I'll be in the mood for a try on session and I come up with some cool combinations for me to keep in mind to wear later.

  8. My life is so quiet, it feels like a luxurious existence to "plan" outfits. On the few reasons to do so, I think about what I wore in that social circle before (easy to do with so few events), then ask what I've been most itching to wear. If my boyfriend is there (to hang onto), I wear heels. I tend to wear skirts or dresses if I'll be seeing people I know--and maybe that's just because the environment here is so informal, I want to be defiantly different (at a very chic restaurant, people regularly wear fleece--seriously).

    The most important thing is to feel like I'm having fun and stretching my past experiments. Right now I'm styling bandage skirts--because that's where my attempts need next to go.

    Great article!

  9. I soo love those shoes...but anyway back on topic:

    Although I can plan my work out weeks in advance I can never seem to that with clothes. I guess its because I dress for whatever mood I'm in. Like you, if there's a special occassion then I would plan out omy outfit in advance. Otherwise I let my fashion senses move me to an outfit!

  10. I love these poses, Veshoevius.

    I don't plan my outfits either, but find the mandatory layering in this weather slowing down my routine insanely

  11. Oprah once said she viewed herself as wanting to be a Lady Who Lunches, but never really was. I feel that same way about ladies who do the polaroid photos of their shoes. I would love to do it, but, yeah, just won't happen! Plus you need a lot of space! I know you saw my closet post, so you can tell I'm not one of those girls with a "spare bedroom I turned into a closet!" Watch enough YouTube, and you'll come to think that is commonplace.


  12. So glad to have found someone else who repeats too!! Like you - if an outfit works, I will wear it again (and again and again!!).

    I also think up outfits in my head in bed!! Must be a fashion blogger thing?!!

    Happy weekend :) xx

  13. I could not walk in those boots but I deeply love them anyway. You look hot in them. I just went to a Balenciaga exhibit in NYC last weekend and I thought of you the whole time! I hope to post about it in the next day so stop by if you get a chance. Flamenco dancing figured prominently in the exhibit, which was just gorgeous.

  14. love this boots
    love ur blog
    hope u check out mine

  15. Beautiful cape! I am very similar insofar as I try things on together the morning itself and go by trial and error, having to dash out and leave a small mountain of things in my wake!
    I have to say, I think blogging is a great way to sound out some new combinations one might not normally think of, or that one might be wary about.
    xx Comtesse xx

  16. I feel you on the cape thing. I recently bought one, and live in San Francisco wear layering is a MUST year-round. Having a cape has helped me re-discover all my long-sleeve tops. It's also been fun to experiment wearing it with different long-sleeve sweaters. I did the Friend Friday questions too - check out my post at

  17. You make black look really good and your poises are very cool.
    I must confess as you know I am one of those girls who plans there clothes a week in advance.
    Veshoevius, if I got up in the morning at 6am and planned my day I still would have to put on my makeup and get my hair ready and that would take to long so I have to plan my clothes a week in advance.
    I go to evening Bible study, intercessory prayer night and I am taking a class with my hubby one night a week so if I get home at 9:00pm or 9:30pm that last thing I want to do is iron so I that's why I do what I do. Time is of the essence.

  18. I'm all about the mental planning too. I think of one thing I'd like to wear and think in my head about what I could wear with it.

    The Auspicious Life

  19. layering! You peal a layer and there's another beautiful treasure :)

    About outfit planning - in general I'm like you - no system and no prior planning. I'm like you in one more way too I fall asleep thinking about my next day's outfit. But I do that only in warmer seasons, winter as usual has brought me down and I just grab what I see.

  20. Hola guapa mía, poco a poco vamos conociéndonos un poquito mejor.Combinar el negro también es todo un arte. Me encantan tus botas.
    Mil besos de sol.

  21. Haha, I want to be one of those ladies too! With the polaroid snapshots on their shoeboxes. I kept thinking I'd have that someday when I grew up but now I've changed that wish to have it in my next life. I still am clinging to the fantasy that I will wake up one day and we'll move to like LA and I'll have this ROOM that is my closet and there will all my beat up scuffed shoes be, magically, in shoe boxes with polaroids attached.

    Lovely post. I just scanned it quickly now because we're going out soon but just had to comment now and will read again later - it's funny I didn't know it when I did mine, but I used a self style shoot from last Sunday, too. Great minds and all that. Oh and I just read something about Vogue staff and meant to tell you but I can't remember now what, or where.

    Oh also I meant to do my answers about weather and layering but I plum forgot. ; ) x

  22. Hola you gorgeous caped wonder you! I love reading your answers...any answers! Eloquent and so worthy of the drama of a cape!
    ...alas my comment is not worthy... it's after midnight here butI just HAD to come over and say "hello" and feast my eyes you know?

    I'm sorry I haven't been commenting. I'm feeling a communication lethargy at the moment but I will snap out of it soon... and I need to spend some hours going through my favourites! I don't have polaroids but I do have descriptions! Plus I keep my shoes in transparent boxes with silicone packs!

  23. Thanks all for your comments - nice to know I'm not alone in being an outfit repeater, in not planning outfits day to day, in relying on trial and error and being jealous of those ladies with the polaroids on their shoe boxes.

    Kudos to JT Wisdom for her skills in planning outfits a week in advance and therefore making time for her busy schedule of activities and to Dusk for managing descriptions on all her shoesboxes - I'm taking notes ladies!

  24. So many people are doing capsule wardrobe-type challenges...when the challenge for me is not wearing the same combinations every week. And I've become so frustrated of late that my footwear is always dictated by my lifestyle - walking to work and being on my feet all day precludes the possibility of wearing all the fab ankle boots I purchased last winter...

    (I'm all for wearing glitz to the supermarket by the way...but not where I live, where people do their booze shop in their PJs.)

  25. ps - I also have short descriptions on my shoeboxes, eg 'Bubblegum Peeptoes', 'Green Chloe-esques' and 'Hot Pink Leather Mums'...


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