intentional style

Intentional style: buying duplicates

110617 harris wharf coat.jpg

I meant to write a post on capsule wardrobes in general - the whys, wherefores and whens (I love them, but I don’t actually think they are a blanket solution for everyone) and how my wardrobe supports my intentional living goals - before going into specifics. However, this post is at the top of my mind right now, so that's what I'm writing.

Whether you have 40 or 400 pieces in your wardrobe I’m sure you’ve asked yourself, should you buy the same thing in two (or more) colours? 

OK, the coats above aren’t exactly the same - the mustard is very fractionally lighter weight and ever so slightly more structured, but there isn’t really a lot in it. Both made by Harris Wharf, an exceptional quality brand which I unreservedly recommend (no commission for saying that, tragically, I just love their coats), both broadly the same cocoon type cut, three button fastening. The only real difference is the colour.

On the whole, I have always found that having two colours of the same thing isn’t a huge success for me. I end up wearing my favourite more, one colour ends up a bit forgotten and a bit unloved. I also feel that buying the same thing in multiple colours is often the opposite of intentional wardrobe building. To just say to yourself ‘oh, I like this sweater in grey, I’m bound to like it in red’, without examining whether a red sweater is actually going to bring the same value to your wardrobe that the grey one did doesn’t really align with consciously and carefully creating a wardrobe that maximises joy and confidence and minimises hassle. So as a general rule of thumb, it’s safe to go with ‘just don’t’ when considering the same thing in multiple colours, especially if it’s just out of convenience.

The reason I make an exception for these coats (thus ignoring my own rule before I even made it. Sorry about that) is because I have two main looks that I turn to for day to day dressing. I either go almost entirely monochrome (with grey, navy or olive green rather than black, because black sucks on me, but very tonal low colour dressing) or I go bright, with two or more bold colours in one outfit. I bought the grey coat around this time last year, and I found that most days I loved the sleekness of a 100% monochrome look, and it also went well with brighter coloured outfits. However, given that I live in the UK, coats are a key wardrobe staple for about seven months of the year, and often the only part of your outfit that anyone sees, and it felt like all anyone was seeing was a very monochrome (albeit a very lovely monochrome) view of me. My other go-to coats are light grey, navy and burgundy, so I haven’t been exactly overwhelmed with colourful options on the coat front.

I’d been idly keeping an eye out for the perfect coat, actually thinking I’d probably get a bright red one if I saw a good one, when I came across this coat on 24Sevres a couple of months ago (I have also seen them stocked on Net a Porter and Harvey Nichols). I’ve had amazing wear from my grey coat, I love the shape, I know I get good wear from it for smart and casual, so I decided that a second version in a very different colour actually made sense in this instance.

I should mention at this juncture that I don't buy all, or even very many of, my clothes at high end shops like NAP and Harvey Nicks, lest you think this is one of those blogs. I'll talk more about how I budget for and buy clothes from H&M to Joseph at some stage soon.

So I had the budget set aside for a coat, and I went with the mustard Harris Wharf not only because I love love love it, but because (a) I could imagine the outfits that this coat would really make, and (b) I wasn’t just mindlessly buying the second colour at the same time as the first because it was there and convenient. I waited until the first had proved its worth, then waited until I saw a colour I loved and knew I would get wear from. Which reminds me; Colours. Another thing we need to chat about.

I've only had both coats for a couple of weeks, but my theory is holding up so far - they've had pretty much even wear. The mustard one maybe a fraction more because, well, it's new and exciting, but the grey one definitely hasn't been abandoned.

Where do you stand? Does the idea of multiple colours of the same garment fill you with horror, or actually reduce your wardrobe stress? Do you actually wear all the colours you buy of a given piece? Do comment below, or swing over to instagram and start a conversation on one of my images. I love hearing from you and value the time you take to share your views.

Intentional style: brand new old fashioned denim

jeans ,  jumper , boots old by  Aldo

jeans, jumper, boots old by Aldo

Remember when jeans were a thing that you had to wear in? And the best jeans, once worn in, had to be washed carefully to prevent bagging or shrinking once you’d finally got them perfectly soft? There was something sort of pleasing about having to put in some effort to making your jeans perfect, it felt like making friends with them.

For a good while now though, jeans have been all about that stretch. Although boyfriend jeans (and, I suppose, mom jeans, although I haven’t Gone There Yet) are marking a trend back towards actual cotton denim, which needs a little more wearing in and has a little more life about it, skinny jeans have, for obvious reasons, stayed firmly in the stretch denim category.

For a couple of seasons now I’ve had a hankering for a pair of skinny jeans that had some of the quality and weight of ‘old fashioned’ denim without sacrificing the shape. I wanted jeans that didn’t need washing every other wear, that could actually improve with age and that felt like the good old friends that jeans used to. Basically, all the advantages of modern denim with the joy of old school denim.

Step forward, Levi’s 721s, a higher rise version of their 711 skinnies.

Best. Jeans. Ever.

The weight is just a fraction heavier than any other jeans I’ve bought recently, and has something of the body of old school denim with all the benefits of modern stretch fabric technology. So none of that time spent wearing in, but they already feel like old friends. And the cut is brilliant, really flattering for my, ahem, less than gazelle like thighs. The only slight, and easily resolved, issue is that I’m 5’6” and slightly short legged for my height, and they are verging on being too long for me. If I wanted to wear them in summer without rolling up I’d need to get them adjusted.

But the best bit of all? They hold their shape. I’m not going to confess how many times I wore them before they went in the wash, but when they eventually did it was because they had got actually dirty rather than baggy.

Jeans are such a cornerstone of my wardrobe, and I only have a couple of pairs at a time, so I need my denim to work hard and feel good. These are ticking all the boxes so far. Already tempted to add a second pair, maybe in grey.

Not all of the colours in the 721 are made from the same fabric, for some reason, so I don’t want to speak for the quality of every colour way (mine are Amnesia), but presumably the cut is equally excellent across the board.