Thursday, 29 November 2012

10 Item Wardrobe Challenge

As you know, I’m big on de-cluttering and only keeping clothes that you absolutely love.  But I have recently had a big wake up call that made me think about how ruthless I actually am with my wardrobe, and with keeping only those things that are ‘perfect’.
I was reading Lessons from Madame Chic  by Jennifer L Scott , which is a lovely, frothy little read about an American’s experiences staying with an aristocratic family in Paris, and in there, the chapter that most captured my attention was titled ‘the 10 item wardrobe’.  I was intrigued enough from reading this to check out Jennifer’s blog – which can be found here, in which she has a couple of additional entries about this concept, and  in which shows the viewer her version.
And I started thinking – could I ever make this work for me?  Jennifer admits that Madame Chic, from whom she got the original inspiration, had a very specific and formal style, wearing effectively the same classic pieces all the time.
Jennifer works from home (she is a full time blogger and mummy – lucky girl!) and therefore doesn’t necessarily have the sartorial challenges that come from a sort of high-powered-ish job in the City – combined with mummy days at home.  She also admits she isn’t a fashionista.  I may not be a fully-fledged fashion bunny these days – but I do still love my trends, and playing around with clothes.
So – I had almost decided that it was impossible before I even started.  With my lifestyle challenges effectively necessitating 2 separate wardrobes in any case, a wardrobe which currently runs to about 200 pieces, plus shoes, t-shirts and accessories, and my love of fashion and experimenting, how could I possibly reduce what I have to something so fundamental.
But I decided I would try to pick out those key items which I cannot do without.  Not necessarily a 10 item wardrobe, but at least a list of vital pieces.  A sort of desert island discs of sartorial staples if you like.
And it was illuminating.  The ultimate list was not necessarily the most stylish or interesting list of pieces.  But it did show me what I use most frequently and what I would find it most difficult to live without.
The final list was:
1.     Indigo skinny jeans
2.     J Brand Combats
3.     Grey cashmere v-neck
4.     Navy round neck blouse
5.     Striped gathered sleeve t-shirt top
6.     Black fitted dress
7.     J Crew geometric skirt
8.     lace t-shirt top
9.     black 7/8ths trousers
10.  Zara black puff sleeve jacket
11.  Cream silk shell
12.  Cream beaded cardigan
13.  Navy blue long sleeved jersey midi dress
Not quite 10 items, but nearly.  You’ll notice that coats, accessories and shoes are not included in here – but neither were they in the original challenge.  So not cheating. 
13 item wardrobe

13 item wardrobe by biscuitmummy

I haven’t gone anywhere near reducing my wardrobe down from the 200 items in there, to just these 13 – and I guess that different combinations would be needed for Spring, Summer and Autumn, given the weather challenges in the UK.  But it has inspired me to clear out some more things that just don’t inspire, fit, or suit as I continue to streamline. 
What do you think?  Could you be inspired to shrink your wardrobe by such an extent? 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Ladylike chic

Ladylike chic

Ladylike chic by biscuitmummy featuring kate spade shoes

Here is my first venture into the playground that is Polyvore!  What do you think of my first attempt?

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Summer style guidelines for the City

The summer has finally come out here in London, and as usual I am reminded that although some people here in the City sail through the hot weather looking cool, stylish and put together, others fail to present a professional front because of inappropriate dressing.
From extensive observation (nothing like a bit of people watching!), it seems that what I believe are the biggest faux pas fall into 2 categories.
The first, and by far the most common, is dressing as if the weather is still cold and raining, rather than 30 degrees and sunny.  On my way to work this morning I saw a lady in a black wool trouser suit, ankle boots and a long sleeved formal shirt, as well as numerous girls still wearing opaque black tights.  It made me feel hot just looking at them.
The other, less frequent, but somehow greater problem is those who dress for the beach or back garden, while in the City.  Flipflops (both sexes), shorts (men), skimpy sundresses, skirts that are far too short, tops with spaghetti straps.  In my mind, none of these is appropriate for wearing in the city, and especially not for work in a professional environment.
Working as a senior manager in the City I tend to work to 3 rules for work clothes in the summer.
1)      Dresses.  Can be sleeveless, but not strappy.  Anything other than black or grey.  Knee length, and relatively structured, but not a plain wool shift.  Colour and pattern always work, even if it feels 'loud' to start with.  The dress I have received most compliments on this summer is orange!
2)      Shoes.  I walk to work in my sandals, but take a pair of smart peep toe heels or similar to the office to change into.  Sandals are not office appropriate, but somehow many court shoes just look and feel wrong with summer dresses.  No sling backs though please.  Just no. Eighties-tastic.
3)      I take a blazer jacket with me for meetings – it works over dresses and make me feel pulled together, as well as keeping me warm in that fierce air-conditioning that the boys all seem to insist on.
The unwritten rules here in the City have definitely changed over the last few years, and embracing femininity is definitely allowed.  I’ve seen some fabulously dressed women this week, wearing colour, and dresses/skirts, and wonderful shoes.  Gone are the days when it was the navy blue skirt suit for all occasions.  Let’s make the most of the sun, and wear those summer dresses.
Would love to hear your ideas for staying cool, and still looking fabulous and professional.  And what do you think about what is appropriate for wearing in the city?  Am I being too restrictive?
Here is some inspiration:

Monday, 30 April 2012

Getting back on track

Sorry – it has been far too long hasn’t it.  But I’ve been rather side-tracked by the wonder that is Pinterest.  So easy to do, I can pin things from my phone or iPad, whereas blogging properly really needs the laptop.
I’ve got various boards going on Pinterest.  I started with Fashion and Home things – picking up magpie-like on various lovely pictures that are out there.
But recently I’ve started posting and reading more fitness pictures and things that will inspire me on my quest to get back in shape post-baby, including some of the fabulous ‘Fitspo’*  blogs out there.
Pictures of girls with proper muscles and proper abdominals – girls who look like I used to.

 I have never been ‘skinny’ – but I have been very, very fit.  I am naturally athletically built, and love exercising, so I have no idea why it has been so hard to get back into it after having the Biscuit.  Having given it much thought I suspect it may be because most recently I was a ‘proper’ runner.  I was doing a couple of marathons a year and a relatively high number of other races, with a significant training load.  I just don’t have time to do that now – and running only 20-25 miles a week just doesn’t cut it weight-loss wise.
So it’s time for a different approach – and I’m going back to my roots with more weight-training, more shorter time, higher intensity sessions. 
And using girls like this as my inspiration.

One day I may post a photo of myself in my gym gear as a starting point.  Then I will be able to see where I’ve come from.  But I need to gather my courage first!
* apparently this stands for Fitspiration, a derivative of the original 'Thinspiration' blogs.  No - I didn't know either, but there are some great blogs and Tumblrs out there with some truly smoking bodies to gaze at and take inspiration from.

Monday, 5 March 2012

I am still here!

Sorry for the radio silence everyone, life has suddenly become a little bit busy chez Biscuit.  Combination of work, and the better weather has made less time for both blogging and sewing, but I have been having a good old shop, and also a bit of a social life for once!

Friday night was a fabulous visit to the David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy with my BFF D.  So many amazing pictures, and almost all painted in God's own county (of which more later).
Don't you just love the vibrancy and the unexpectness?

We also had dinner at the Wolseley which is still, despite all the new restaurant openings in London, my absolute favourite favourite.  Such a treat!

I'm also very excited about next weekend.  Its Mr Biscuit's birthday, as well as our 12th wedding anniversary (eep!) and the Biscuits 18 month birthday.  So a big weekend all round.  We decided to go to Harrogate for the weekend, which means a) a weekend in God's own county and b) a trip here


I mentioned I have been doing much shopping.  Will share with you in another post another day.  Have any of you bought anything fabulous recently?

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Style identification

I've always envied people with a very definite sense of style, who seem to have picked a look that works for them and made it their own.
I'm natually a bit of a magpie when it comes to style.  Drawn automatically to anything chic and elegant, I nonetheless shy away from anything too classic when it comes to my own wardrobe.  Black trouser suits, beige trenchcoast, Kate Middleton style 'little dresses' all leave me cold and unmoved, whilst I am drawn to anything quirky or slighly unusual like a bear to honey!
I love vintage style, have a definite rock chick side, but also need to look smart, businesslike and together for many of my daily dealings.  It all gets a little confusing at times - and leads to a large wardrobe!

So recently, I've tried to define a bit more closely what my style really is.  Not what I'd like it to be in a parallel universe, nor what I love on other people.  Or what looks lovely in the shop.
After a great deal of thought, I've realised that really, I would like my look to combine a feel of that groomed, glossy, but hip NY chic, with Parisien style and quirkiness.
Olivia Palermo embodies the NY chic and always looks amazing
(source:  And I adore the unusual and very feminine look here:
(source: The Sartorialist)
And the relaxed chic of this image is exactly how I'd like to look in the office:
(source: The Sartorialist)
Based on this I've put together a list of 'rules' for myself, for shopping, for dressing, for wardrobe sorting.

1) When in doubt, go with black or navy. Particularly navy.  But black or navy suits, particularly trouser suits must be avoided at all costs.
2) Heels and skinny trousers/jeans always work
3) A blazer is an absolute essential
4) A black coat can often make the most chic outfit look simply boring.  Unless the outfit is all black and the coat is amazing.
5) Too tight is never a good look.  Neither is loose and baggy.
6) Dresses are fabulous for work to avoid looking like a corporate clone
7) A good belt can make the outfit
8) Don't follow the herd
9) The right shoes are essential.  And the right shoes are never sensible black leather courts.
10) Think age appropriate minus 10 years
11) If a winter outfit looks conservative, add shoe boots

It was supposed to be a list of 10, but I couldn't resist adding the last!

What do you think - any other 'commandments for dressing' that you swear by?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

More decluttering

After the initial clear out of my wardrobe and listing more or less every item I own, I've realised that there is still more scope for further rationalisation and editing to really get to grips with what fits, suits and works for me now. I am still hanging onto some things that don't fit with my life as it is now - and all they are doing is dragging me down.

After the initial clear out, where decisions were usually quite easy and made on the basis of a gut reaction, further clearing has needed to be a little more analytical to get to what really works for me, what I genuinely love, plus identifying those key basics and making sure they are as good as can be.

I found a series of 5 questions really useful.

1) Does it fit? Will it ever fit me?
Things that were on the small side even pre-pregnancy are never going to fit again. And if miraculously I do ever shrink back to that size again, I shall take great pleasure in going out and shopping for new size 10s!

2) Do I love it?
This was the catalyst for a lot of throwing out. Things that are blah, or that don't make me look forward to wearing them are gone. That was particularly therapeutic.

3) Have I worn it recently?
This was a bit of an odd question to answer as I haven't really worn any of my summer clothes for 2 years, and some of my winter clothes too (it really hasn't been that cold here this year). But the question did help me weed out some things that I just haven't had occasion to wear for several years. They had to go - no hanging on to a life I no longer have!

4) does it suit me?
Maybe a second pair of eyes is needed here, but I decided that the majority of my clothes do genuinely suit me.

5) Does it represent me?
This was a great, but difficult question. I have some lovely pieces, such as a pale blue cashmere cardigan, which on reflection just aren't 'me'. They are either too conservative,the wrong colour to go with the rest of my clothes, too fussy, too boho. I found I had to be really honest with myself on this question as I really love some of the things that fall into this category, and also some of the sound, on paper, like I should have them. I'm thinking of the black trouser suit here. Never worn, but hung onto anyway because it's supposedly a basic. Wrong answer! The cardigan and the suit both went.

I found for the last question it was very useful that I'd already tried to define my style. I'll share my definitions in a separate blog another day, but in the meantime I'd love to hear how you'd define your style.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Running to find myself

So -  onto the next New Year’s resolution. 
I will get fitter and lose some of this weight.  I guess they are really 2 resolutions which go hand in hand given I could get fitter and stay fatter, or get slimmer and stay unfit.   But I want to achieve both.
The extra stone and a half I’m lugging around with me isn’t even baby weight, which is the most annoying thing about it.  Immediately after the Biscuit was born I was only a couple of pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight.  I had admittedly been rather ill just before and just after the birth (which is a story I’ll tell you some other time), but regardless I’d only gained about 20 pounds all pregnancy, and had kept fit and exercising all the way through to the very end.
The weight gain was initially caused by breastfeeding.  I know so many people say it helped them lose weight, but honestly it just made me so hungry!  As if I just couldn’t eat enough calories to keep me and the Biscuit going.  And it didn’t help that I was slightly lactationally challenged, so I was reluctant to even think about reducing my food intake, in case that affected the milk supply even more.  And when I stopped breastfeeding at about 6 months, I was still hoovering up the cake at get togethers with friends, as well as boredom eating at home.  And not really exercising – because regardless of what the ‘experts’ say, pram pushing doesn’t really cut it.  Not when your body is used to the levels of exercise I’d been doing pre-pregnancy anyway.
Because I am a former marathon runner, and lapsed fitness enthusiast.   I was never skinny, but I was fit, and lean, and energetic.  But then I stopped running at about month 7 of pregnancy.  And didn’t start again.  All sorts of excuses why not – none really valid.
This is me in a former life – probably not in the best shape I was in, but relatively close.  Sorry its a bit blurry!

But now I’m starting again.  We have a group of girls in the office who have agreed to run together a couple of times a week at lunchtime.  And I’ll fit in another run each weekend.  It won’t be as much as I used to do, but it’s definitely better than nothing. 
Is there anyone else who has just started running, or any mums who are picking it up again post-pregnancy?  How are you finding it?
I’ll blog separately about the ‘diet’ – there is a reason for the inverted commas!
P.S – I’m logging my runs on which is a brilliant running site with loads of lovely supportive members.  Look out for me on there – I’m Treacle.

Monday, 9 January 2012

New Year’s resolution number 1 – Fashion

More correctly anti-fashion.  Or at least, no new clothes for the time being.
Over the last few months of decluttering and organising my wardrobe, I’ve been logging my clothes in a spreadsheet, so I can put together suggested outfits and try and be more creative with my clothes and make the most of my (extensive) wardrobe.   In the clothes log I’ve been putting values against each item (useful for insurance purposes dontcha know).
This lunchtime, I was playing around with the spreadsheet, thinking of some new outfits, and for some reason, I decided to add up the values of everything I have.  And the total scared me.  I knew it would be a lot, but I didn’t think it would be quite so high.  I’m embarrassed to even mention it here.
I know the total includes shoes and handbags, it has all been accumulated over a few years (and most importantly I have NEVER been in debt because of it), but still.  It’s a lot.
Add to this the fact that relatively easily I’ve come up with more than 100 outfits from the things I already own and it has reinforced (IN CONCRETE!) one of my New Year’s resolutions. 
At least for January.  And probably February.  And ideally for the rest of the year, but let’s be realistic!  The big test will definitely come when the new SS 2012 collections really hit the shops.
In the meantime, I’ll keep you updated with how the outfits are going.  I shall be ‘shopping in my own wardrobe’ from now on.
I'm wearing this dress today.  One of my favourite things at the moment.  And dare I say it, it looks better on my curvy body than it does on the skinny model on the website.  Yay!


I have a few New Years resolutions, and things I'd like to do in 2012. Some home related things, some things craft related and yet others running and fitness related.   Mainly things that I hope will get me further towards feeling like me again, while still fitting into my new life with the Biscuit.  I will blog more about plans and projects later - just getting my head round them myself at the moment.

But (fitness and diet resolutions not-withstanding!), one thing I really want to do in 2012 is bake more. It's something that I've always liked, even when I was a little girl and I used to make scones and fairy cakes with my nanna. I find it so relaxing, with a set of rules to follow, but also a creative and nurturing aspect to it.

My lovely husband bought me a rose shaped bundt tin for Christmas, so yesterday afternoon I used it to make Nigella's spruced up vanilla cake recipe.

I'm rather proud of the results.