black on black

DSC_0222_akl
Even though I do not like jewelry and most ornaments,
I do like a classic metal detail in an otherwise uniform outfit.

This was taken a while back in the midst of february, when jeans and jumpers are my uniforms of choice.
(The lipcolour on the other hand is a different story altogether. More on that coming soon.)

(image: my own.)

Quintessential


This is basically how I dressed over the past weeks. Jeans and t-shirt. I actually have that exact striped shirt and it’s one of my most worn garments during the summer months. 

Late summer brought beautiful warm weather while usually leaving the awful humidity behind. It was around this time that my schedule got really hectic and I’m just now catching up on reading my favourite blogs and new issues of The Gentlewoman and Fantastic Man which dropped in the mailbox yesterday.

Lack of free time to overthink also made me pair down my summer attires down to the bare essentials. I lived in jeans and sneakers, pairing them with my favourite blue chambray shirt or oversized t-shirts (striped or plain white), occasionally wrapping myself up in an oversized dark grey cardigan. A canvas bag and some lip balm and was good to go.

Right now, as the weather is slowly transitioning towards autumn, I’m trying to hold on to the simplicity of my summer wardrobe, by reluctantly adding only the most basic of fall garments. I realize this may seem plain and boring, and perhaps it is.  To me personally however,  it’s also a small triumph in reducing all the unnecessary visual noise tot the simplest basic shapes that nonetheless feel decidedly personal.

(images via emilyafricaa and neuewave tumblr)

That coat


I don’t post many outfit photos here, mainly because I like my anonymity, but I really wanted to show my new coat, the only item acquired during the sale at COS last month. It’s black, straight and the design is fairly straight-forward. I really like the way it looks with some of my favourite wardrobe pieces, such as black jeans and striped t-shirt or straight navy trousers and blue chambray button shirt. (I’m also wearing my awesome glasses which I cannot show you right now, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one. =)

(all images © twentysecond8 2012)

Frenzy

When it comes to shopping, I prefer working with lists. A couple of years ago I noticed girls on my favourite blogs doing this and thought I’d give it a try. Needless to say it has become something of a necessity since. Throughout the year I keep a wishlist with items from my favourite stores such as COS and A.P.C.

When the recent sales season came, however, instead of purchasing those items on my list that were now available for much less, I decided against it and ended up with just one purchase – a black spring coat, which I can say I have worn almost every day since (though I honestly do wish I didn’t have the need for a coat in july). Somehow the sales made me realise I didn’t really need another black top or linnen t-shirt. The amount of need simply didn’t justify the purchase. Plus the frenzy of the sales reminds me of everything that I dislike about shopping.

Subsequently, it felt liberating to let go of these self imposed needs which tend to sneak up on you when you’re not expecting and it made me realize how much more satisfying it is to let the desire for an item build up before deciding on the purchase. Which doesn’t mean indulging in impulse buys from now and then can’t be fun, but you do risk ending up with a full closet of things you don’t wear down the line, and who needs regrets anyway? Even if they are just the sartorial kind.

(image: Lina Scheynius Polaroids)

The Language of Flowers


(images via i-n-j-e-c-t tumblr and jazzmine berger by garance doré)

Garance Doré posted this picture (right) from her archives some time ago, because it felt very current despite being several years old. The clean, tomboyish items offset the exuberant femininity of the flowers. Indeed, it evokes a very modern kind of romanticism, where it’s all about finding the balance between contradictions in one look.

I personally love a good print and the idea of a minimalist romantic. When employed all-over, the print becomes almost as monochrome as a solid colour. It’s also a very photogenic look, even if not entirely easy to pull off in everyday life.

I’m still not sure if I could see myself wearing floral pants, though this image below of Gaia Repossi is certainly making me reconsider that idea. The floral print something that could easily be introduced into my existing wardrobe for a modern update on the classic trousers, shirt and blazer combination. The all-over print, as much as I like the idea, is probably somewhat too trendy which means it won’t age too well. I have also yet to find the print that makes my heart beat faster, so this just might be one of those infatuations that I’ll grow out of, if I don’t find the right item. As of now though, I’m not ready to stop looking for that perfect floral piece anytime soon.


(image via maison styling)

Timeless

On a personal note: life has been all sorts of busy lately. I am currently working on a freelance assignment for a company which could turn out into a permanent full-time position. Careerwise this would be a great opportunity and I’m hoping it works out. On the other hand, I would certainly miss the flexible working hours that life as a freelancer offers. For example chosing to take the long lunch and enjoy the weather and compensating for time off by working in the evenings. But I wouldnt miss the irreglular income and fretting over the next project. All in all there are positives and negatives to every outcome.

I did made me contemplate office wear and assembling the office appropriate wardrobes. I’m also thinking a lot about light blue and chambray, the summer versions of my usually navy wools and cashmeres. 

Empty Emptor recently made a post questioning the concept of “the classics” when it comes to wardrobe pieces, as propagated by the fashion magazines and blogs, as they could turn out to be just as trend-concious as peplums and beaded collars. It’s a really well-written piece and if you’re into it, I would also recommend her previous post on wardrobe culling, as well as… her entire archives.

I think when it comes to classics, it’s important to find your own personal classics. Staples that you can build your entire wardrobe around, and upgrade seasonally with a few pieces to keep evolving, but also to keep it from becoming schizophrenic in style.

These are some of my personal favourites, around which I base my outfits (I chose to just focus on tops here). They include simple button-down shirts, crewneck jumpers and breton tops. Most of my tops are a variation of these, which is why I’d call them classics. I usually pair them with smart jackets, jeans or cigarette pants and simple or slightly androgynous shoes.


(Images from left to right: By Malene Birger White Greville Classic Shirt, Hope Drape Tee, A.P.C. Merino Striped Pullover, Acne Ry Angora Sweater, A.P.C. Woven Cotton Shirt. Most of these are currently sold out via Net-A-Porter and La Garçonne. Top image via naturalstylist tumblr.)

Straight and Narrow


(images via trompe-loeil tumblr and source unknown)

The simplest of cuts are always the most difficult to achieve. It’s as if everything is laid bare and every half an inch matters because it might set off the delicate balance of proportions. There is just something modern about not feeling the need to chase trends and instead showing an understanding for quality of cuts and fabrics. It shows a great deal of confidence, too, as you’re not hiding under unnecessary ornaments.

You also have to know yourself and your body well, to dress accordingly. I myself, for example, favour narrow silhouette (with jeans or trousers) on the lower part of my body and tend to opt for more volume on top, because it balances out my natural body shape. Marinière tops work in this aspect as well. A-line skirts are another favourite, although I did find a perfect Jil Sander pencil skirt once that sadly got lost during travels.

I find myself being drawn a great deal to those that are simplifying their looks and letting their personalities speak for themselves. Adding more visual noise to the already overwhelming amount that exists, feels simply redundant, perhaps even irresponsible, although I do understand the temptation very well. Shopping for these perfect items is always a challenge though, especially on a budget, since these looks call for a methodical approach and quality, something rarely found on high-street. Nonetheless, it’s something I believe is worth investing in, as a wardrobe consisting of understated, high-quality pieces can take you anywhere.

On Trends


(images via: p-catz, unknown and bubbelsoda)

Looking at pictures from a bygone era, I cannot help but notice how some people look fantastic and make you wish you were born in a different era and then you try to think of the ways you could do a modern interpretation of their look and make it work for yourself. And then there are people who, while obviously following trends of that time, make you greatful that the era of volatile perms and shiny blue eyeshadow is over. The latter group also makes me wonder how their generation will appear to the furure generations looking back at this time.

I actually hate that word: trend. There is obviously a fine line between looking stylish and “of the moment” and looking like a victim of your fashion era. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have a lot to do with being pretty, as sometimes conventional pretty can actually stand in the way of translating fashion, which often prefers a certain edginess to one’s look and can sometimes even favour the “ugly. It’s about being able to pull off a look, by making it your own.

In that sense, fashion can be compared to a bad boyfriend. Sure, making mistakes when you’re younger is all a part of life, and you can learn a great deal from your mistakes. At one point though there comes a time when you learn to know who you are, and you are presented with choices. Once you try different things, and see how they work, mistakes become avoidable.

The thing about trends is that you have to become master them before they can master you. Various people who’s fashion sense has been deemed iconic, and who are often cited as inspirations, were known for the uniformity of their wardrobe, no matter how “eccentric” it was. From Coco Chanel’s monochromatic tweeds and camelias and Elsa Schiaparelli’s shocking pink, to Gaia Repossi’s preference for clean lines and menswear and Sofia Coppola’s french chic. All of these women are known for the boundaries they set to their personal style and how they experimented and navigated within those set parameters.

Which may seem stifling (as in: why would you confine yourself, when there are limitless options to chose from?), but it’s actually quite the opposite. It’s my opinion that it’s more interesting to explore a certain interest and see how far it can take you, than to scatter your focus over so many interest, that you eventually lose sight of most of them (again, it’s somewhat like relationships, to come back to my previous point.) I’m all for experimenting, but it takes skill to master a look and make it all your own.

This of course don’t mean a look shouldn’t evolve over time. But it’s a different story from blatantly adopting every micro-trend avaliable. Sometimes a colour or a cut becomes a trend and you find out it suits you perfectly and fits within your wardrobe as well. The fact that it’s a trend, means many labels at different price ranges will incorporate this trend within your collection and it’s great because now you get to pick and choose and it’s exciting! For example, I’m very happy with the revival of menswear-inspired shoes such as brogues and loafers, as there was a time not too long ago when finding a nice low-heeled shoe was not as easy. Sometimes though there will be seasons where not one trend works for you. That’s where you focus on basics and save your money for other, more appropriate seasons to come.

I read this interesting article on Psychology Today, that I found via Danielle Meder’s Final Fashion (she is an illustrator / trend analyst and her articles is always a great read.) The premise of the article is this: “Kanazawa, assistant professor of sociology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, wondered: “If men found themselves being less attracted to their mates after being exposed to eight or 16 pictures in a half-hour experiment, what would be the effect if that happened day in, day out, for 20 years?”” and it goes on to explain how the human (in this case male) mind deals when presented with limitless possibilities to chose from, in this case beautiful women. It turns out, that amount of choice isn’t liberating, but it can actually become stifling. I believe this theory can be used to elaborate on ADD in children, but also on the way we shop, which results in the age old problem of having closets that are too full, and yet nothing to wear. As we seem to enter an age of modesty, which in itself can be viewed as a result of irresponsible opulance of recent decades, such excess seems distasteful, yes even vulgar.

When it comes to wardrobe, I find nothing more exhilarating than the process where you come across a garment that might just be perfect, but you take your time to really make sure and sometimes by the time you make up your mind and decide that this indeed in the garment for you, the garment can be sold out and you find yourself travelling to other cities and e-mailing people on the other side of the world that you foud online, in hope they’ll sell you theirs for a good price. Sure it can be frustrating, but when the search is finally over, and your garment is finally in your hands, ready to be worn time and time again, becoming an inextricable part of your wardrobe, there is an undeniable and lasting satisfaction. Which doesn’t come from buying random clothes on a whim only to find out they don’t actually fit with anything you already own, and they end up in the back of the closet with the price tag still attached. Good wardrobe is indeed like a good lovestory. And if this sounds slightly fetishistic, well that’s probably because it is. =)

Canvas Bag


(images via withlove— and oohlalalust)

I love canvas bags for the casual feeling they add to a look. With a limited wardrobe, you get to be creative in other ways and that includes updating a wardrobe from day to night by changing bag and shoes. Canvas bags are also refreshingly universal and egalitarian, due to a lack of status symbol, which most other bags tend to represent these days, yet they allow themselves to be individualized easily. These bags remind me of going to the market to pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables, and stopping on the way at a café for some coffee and re-reading your favourite book.