Life over fashion | How to plan a Wardrobe part 1

Shopping posts

(I’ve already been scrolling through the highstreet looking for fashion inspiration… Although I’m still planning on channeling Lorelai from Gilmore Girls.) 

As we approach March, my favourite fashion planning month I’ve thought long and hard about how to have both fashion and clothes enjoyment whilst simultaneously having the most amazing LIFE possible.

I say LIFE in capitals because in order to compete with an array of full time blogs you often spend an awful lot of it, shopping, online and off when really you want to be on the beach or you want to be walking to the pub or going on a cycle ride. You shouldn’t have to choose. After all, shopping should be a teeny tiny amount of time in our lives and yet somehow, unchecked it quickly takes over. Just like I’m addicted to sugar to make myself feel better, I am also addicted to shopping as a cure. In my worst moments, I stop eating healthily, stop exercising and with it my shopping goes up and my LIFE (please tell me, are you annoyed by the capitals yet?) fulfilment goes down.

What I realise now, in emotionally shopping I’ve given up my life in the pursuit of ‘happiness’. Perhaps we are making it over dramatic, I still hang with Josh, still go out, I’m not a shut in, yet I can’t help but wonder if there is more out there for me?

Myself and Josh have made ourselves a bucket list. Following a rough year, 2017 for us is a recovery year. Making a long list, its simple living, lots of movement and exercise actually, far less hiding and far more exploring. Along with this we want to make the rest of our lives fall around our plans. I’m looking into compact cameras like this one+. (Although apparently the Panasonic is amazing from 2016 reviews*)  Finally having a camera we can just pop in a pocket and go? Amazing!

I want that same get up and go feeling from my clothes as well. After all, can it be that hard?

The key of it all comes down to planning of course. Planning can make the greatest wardrobe, this I’ve learnt from all my capsules in the past. Funnily however, it was the parts of the process which I missed out most often which I now find myself reaching for.

What does your lifestyle need?

We can go over the term need until we are blue in the face, after all, I know I have. However, it is the lifestyle needs I so often overlook. Recently I culled a Zara basket for instance, from 12 pieces I wheedled it down to these three but I still had to look at it and wonder, that top.. it’s a gorgeous colour, it’s a fun shape but actually what the hell would I wear it with? How often? Same with the sunglasses, I always wear cat eye glasses and usually the same three on repeat, the black ones from Tatler and their tortoiseshell sisters and my large brown ones from Urban Outfitters, do I need another pair of the same? I had also begun planning my look earlier in the year, purchasing a gingham midi skirt which is scarily similar to this new one from Zara (and I also have a feeling is the same skirt my boss purchased last year…) However, when I put it on I automatically reach for wedges or heels… the only problem being I’m a flat wearer 99% of the time so although I love all these flared skirts will they actually work for me in the main?

It’s really tripped me. Now as I look at the clothes that I already owned and what I’m looking at purchasing I have had to ask myself big questions… are these a dally day dream in terms of a look? Am I actually shopping for me and my life or thinking just in terms of blog content?

If anything blog content is often a decided factor when I shop too much on a whim. Whereas when I plan it out, it all becomes far more usable. So how do we become better planners?

Planning (part 1) 

Thankfully people like Caroline from un-fancy and Anuschka from Into-Mind have us covered in in depth plans to make our shopping so much easier, but there are plenty of ways to become more savvy when it comes to updating your wardrobe, or even starting from scratch. The key is to find a preferred method which works for you. Mine has come down to the simplicity of making lists;

Starting with,

What do I need to live my life to the fullest?

Beyond obviously thinking of what you want to do (go on walks, go to work?) you also need to know what clothes work for those activities. Kind of like not finding yourself in the gym wearing moccasins and a sundress. (yes, I witnessed a man working out in moccasins… it was strange.)

  • Flat shoes/sandals for walking and running around the place (they need to be both smart and uber comfortable)
  • Smart clothes for work meetings
  • An outfit for going out onsite/showcases/events
  • Work out gear for the gym/swimming/cycling/hiking (walks)
  • Casual Saturday/Sunday Wear
  • Cool, light layers that are easy to throw on (and also into the wash – no dry cleaning thanks!)

Then we move onto,

What pieces fit into my lifestyle, what’s needed to undertake all the daily tasks I wish to …

Now I could share that today, or…. I could make you wait till next week… because I’m mean like that right?

Till then!

*Also if you too are looking for a new camera? I’m in love with this video from Youtuber, Estee Lalondes wonderful partner, Aslan for all his thoughts… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s3Cpgf5RaE

I cut in bangs, completely forgetting it wasn’t so long ago that I had them before…

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“When you were a kid, did you ever have a flash image of who you would/might be one day? Not quite a plan, but more a premonition? In mine, I had bangs. 2016 sucked but 2017? It might just be the year that everything changes and in the meanwhile, fall right into place.”

Post-wedding hair meant that I had very long, natural brown hair with barely a layer cut in. Too lazy to make a post wedding haircut I left it growing until it was so long and unmanageable that I had taken to wrapping it thousands of times around itself into a bun.

Finally four months later on a whim I made an appointment with a hairdresser, I was at least getting a trim. Something however, made me think about a fringe.

When I was a lot younger I had a vision of myself as an adult. In it I was striding towards the post box (of all things) in my hometown of Hitchin. That part of the vision is more than likely attributed to my mother. The amount of times I came into town to see my mum on a post office/bank run is unreal. However, when I saw myself I was wearing a dark trouser/pant suit (I don’t see that particular look in my future) but I had long, straight hair and a fringe/bangs.

I don’t know why but after 2016 and the four episodes of Gilmore Girls: A year in the life, I felt almost as if it was time to bring that vision of myself to life. As a kid I kept that vision as a placeholder of who I would eventually become. As you can guess it said nothing about what I would do or who I am in the slightest just that that person would be content and happy and so, if 2017 should achieve just one thing its that we should all be happy.

So I cut a fringe in and so far, I couldn’t be happier that I did.

Marriage | When did my name become somehow attached to my identity?

Marriage | When did my name become somehow attached to my identity?

Wedding 2016 c/o Lauren Dewar  Sung Blue Photography

Photo by Lauren Dewar (Sung Blue Photography)

As a kid I loathed the fact that when presented with more than one Jessica in the room that I would always get stuck with the full name. Cooler girls with my name became Jess’s or Jessie’s and although I’m only gonna let Josh, my parents and grandparents get away with Jessie (it’s almost too personal). I began to associate Jessica with my younger self. The me who had zero confidence, or who would just willingly flatten herself into corners for everyone else.

In fact, it wasn’t until I got into university that I got bulshy with insisting I’m Jess, giving my best mortally offended face to anyone even thinking about uttering Jessica in my general direction. It was then that I began differentiating my first name to different occasions (formal occasions always Jessica, even when mostly I trip over my own tongue trying to say it).

However, when we decided that we wanted to be traditional post marriage I didn’t think twice about my surname.

I don’t view changing your name to not being a feminist because changing my name is not attached to being a woman but to screaming at the world, this man and I? We are a team! We are one!

I also couldn’t imagine our future kids having to suffer with a clunky double barrel or being confused by one is a Hawkins, one a Low. We took vows to be one another’s person and I could scream that from the rooftops everyday and night.

I didn’t blink, I scoffed at the bear idea of it staying, goodbye Low! It’s been a pleasure but when the time came to change it, I stalled.

We made trips in the name Hawkins and Low, two mini moons and I can only equate my stalling with my identity being wrapped up into three little letters. What happens to Jessica Low, when it’s Jessica Hawkins?

I’ve never scrawled it like a teenager over my notebooks however much I wanna hide Josh away from the world just so I can selfishly keep him for myself. I even planned my new signature so it looks basically the same. My world didn’t change at the alter either, my heart had already decided on Josh long before, this was the paperwork, technicality, but changing my name was the last hurdle I never saw coming.

I can only assume that this change was heightened because having grown up in a crazy close family who are almost on top of each other all the time in both space and similarities to now, living hours away from them all had created a divide in my identity somewhere as well.

Maybe in three parts, a scared kid, the one who grew up at university and lived with Josh almost straight from school and this new Jessica.

If I’m honest, I was afraid. My connection to my family has always been my biggest source of pride. I never needed famous idols when they were all real and lived a simple walk away. If I changed my name and cut that cord it was like severing something. Am I less a Low without the title? Will people no longer associate me with my family as much, with my mum? We share a smile but would that be enough for the world to notice I belong somewhere? For as much as I adore Joshes family to absolute bits and would chose them in a heartbeat there was still a worrying, nagging thought, am I no longer a Low?

All these years women have been losing their identities and I wonder now whether actually it is harder to take a partners name. Most men are against it and now women who previously didn’t have a choice are against it to. We view it like being claimed as someone’s property, but I was more afraid of not belonging to my birthright more than I was afraid of being tied to someone else. I’d made my choice, or my heart had, he has me but my family does as well. Who could understand me better than the people who made me… well, me?

From not understanding why you would keep your name I was posed with a problem, could I now get rid of mine? The real answer is yes I can. For me it was the insecurity of belonging pulling on my name heartstrings. After all, I consider myself a Philpott, a Jones, having plenty of traits from my grandparents than even they may realise but I’ve never carried these names, Low might actually be a state of mind. After all, I will always be logically minded, quiet in unfamiliar surroundings, able to talk to strangers about anything at the drop of a hat like my grandma … Changing my name ultimately doesn’t change me.

It’s just a name, just paper, so this past weekend I changed my name. Here’s to the next chapter, the next page, Jessica Low? Please meet Jess Hawkins. She’s the same chick I promise but here’s the thing, she has a husband now, her own team and she’s not so scared anymore.

Fashion Stories | The Missing Silk Scarves

Vivienne westwood

September 2012 marked the month where a small, perfect pink bag appeared in my lap. Said bag was from Vivienne Westwood, I kid you not. My Mum and Dad had bought me something beautiful, unique and fabulous, one of Vivienne’s simple handkerchiefs’ in one of her iconic designs.

This handkerchief quite literally became my right hand handkerchief for a year.  Taking its position on my right crutch I travelled with this handkerchief (even with its sticker still on wherever I went). It learnt the quick limp through the dodgy areas in poplar, Deptford and homerton, London, it came to physio, heavens towards the end it came to a now defunct club in Maidstone, where it caught the eye of the lady hand stamping us to come in.

“I love your scarf!” of course you would, its Westwood.

All in all we had a fantastic run, a year together, but it should have been a lifetime.

 

Moving to Kent later in the year I packed my prized possession into a blue box. A box I haven’t been able to get rid of since, just in case the scarf is still hiding in the corner but as you now know the scarf went missing. Between Hertfordshire and Kent, a Kent flat to another it disappeared.

I thought honestly, my luck couldn’t get any worse, I lost one scarf, I couldn’t lose a second right? Well that just proves me a fool.

~~~

Fast forward to October 2016 and myself and Josh got married, we went to Berlin the day after. Stalked the streets, tagged onto tours and trawled the city of all of its museums. My outfit on repeat was a button up cord skirt, a black lightweight sweater from Zara and a neck scarf.

Vintage, pulled from Beyond Retro in Brick lane, Summer 2012, I’d never felt the need to wear it before. I had always failed to work out a way to wear it when it was slightly too short. In Berlin however, I realised I could wear it many ways. Tied around my neck like a cowgirl, around my wrist, the belt loops in my skirt, I swear it made it back on the plane…

Now I’m not so sure.

Much like the beloved Vivienne Westwood, it seems the silk scarf doesn’t want to stay friends with me for long. I’m becoming a prolific scarf loser. Worst still when they disappear they seem to do so silently, slipping away in the night like a temporary lover. Am I going to spend my life leaving my favourite scarves all over the globe?

I pray to anyone listening that the Vivienne and the vintage number have found their ways into nice loving homes, not chucked out as trash. Maybe Vivienne is now tied to some other girl’s crutch or handbag, the vintage, some stylish ladies neck, or maybe they have made entirely new lives….

In terms of me searching for them both, I haven’t stopped. I keep that blue box in the hopes that it might just offer my scarf back up four years later. I check bags randomly as I have a flash of genius, maybe I left it here…. The sadness is I never have, we moved house again and Vivienne never re surfaced, she was gone. Now I do the same on the vintage, waiting for its eventual return where I might slap myself on the forehead good naturedly, well of course! Here you are!

Fashion Thoughts | The worst first day back at work outfit ever.

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Monday evening, post Christmas I had planned my first day back work outfit. Comprising of  Denim ‘mum jeans’ a white t shirt, chenelle cardigan and no idea on the shoes, I figured mentally, this is the one, this is the look, perfection.

When I woke up however, I found myself pulling on tailored sweat pants, a shirt with cats on it and a striped sweater. Staring myself down In the mirror for approximately ten seconds I quickly shed my kooky mix of cats and trousers/pants that were far too casual And I once again stared into the abyss of my wardrobe and figured….

I’d do better, taking off all my clothes again And reverting to my pre planned outfit. The mum jeans without the cool, Leandra factor. I still felt like I looked ridiculous as I pulled on argyle socks and brown ankle boots but somehow I stuck with it. Perhaps this was as good as I was going to get on the first work day of the year.

It was not a good idea as it turns out. I’ve never looked so unlike myself as I did that day. Nineties jeans and an equally dated fabric? In one ensemble had I woken up in a parallel universe? None of which felt a stitch like me. Arriving into London it only got worse, cold and shivering I lost the one patch of myself and femininity – a half tucked white t shirt to prove the world I actually wasn’t bloated this day. Look at that flatish stomach! It’s almost like free lypo!

In my dreadful search for a quick, cheap fix I ended up with ribbed grey sweater with 30% off in Dorothy Perkins.

The jumper itself is not bad, in fact for slightly shorter, more petite girls I’d pair it up with leggings and knee high/over the knee boots. I’ve now already determined its future come spring is to be worn as a coat over a chiffon, pleated skirt, it’s two side slits revealing the pleats and what I hope will be the prettiest ever floral design you ever did see.

Layering myself into this new sweater, I caught myself in Victoria stations bathroom and had a small smile for myself, this sweater isn’t half bad for a £15 emergency buy, maybe this won’t be so bad…. Well, perhaps it wasn’t but having lived through the late nineties and two-thousands I felt a little backward, like an awkward flash back, the eighties jeans, the early two thousands crew neck, the chenelle which was iconic to my childhood? The argyle socks people I feel like I’d had a personality crash am I me? Or am I someone else?

I was back to work again, and whereas a few days ago where sitting on my bed I’d had an epiphany about the next campaign, what I learnt my first day back was different, my eyes won’t de puff unless I wake up past seven am, I can’t get dressed before six and learning to meditate on the trains is going to take a lot of work.

Another lesson learned? Always pack an extra jumper, the odd £15 adds up fast and never trust Jess to work out how to get dressed in the first day back.