Find your style with me. Easy steps to finding your own unique style. Step ONE.

People often assume that style is something easily acquired. Fashion is often looked at as something flimsy or something that is only about consumption. While it certainly is also about consumption, you can eliminate a big part of the latter by knowing what works for you and focus more about using what you have in different ways. So out with consumption and inn with the creativity. We often gravely underestimate the effort that people with a certain aesthetic have putt in to their appearance. Just like finances, having your style under control requires knowing who you are and what works for you, and just a lot of discipline. Discipline meaning that you can say no to things that are cute, lovely, on trend, marketed but don’t suit you, your style, your life and how you spend your time. This means having the discipline to make the right choices even if trends or marketing are presenting something else. Discipline to not spend our hard earned cash on things that will just sit in our closet. Because, that’s not just disrespecting your style but also your earnings. We all know there are much more meaningful ways to spend or invest our money than on clothes that won’t get worn.

In the grand scheme of things you could ask yourself, is dressing (well) even that important? If you don’t care too much about style, and your appearance, or your money, it’s certainly not. But if you care at least a bit about the previous, or you aren’t a nudist, I think it kinda is. And if you care to build a wardrobe with classic items that suit you and will last for years so you don’t waste your money, it’s definitely worth it.

I’ve written a lot on finding your style and capsule wardrobing on this little blog. First and foremost… Capsule wardrobing is not about a firm set of numbers or items. But I see this as a great tool to start building your wardrobe again, when you’ve kind of lost your way. That’s the only importance I give it. It’s really trending right now, and if you take it to heart, it can help you reduce your footprint on this earth. But many people also just do it because it’s trending or they want a perfect wardrobe, or for the sake of minimalism ( which is also for some just a trend) . Fashion isn’t supposed to be perfect, it’s supposed to be fun and creative. And if you go about this capsule thing and minimalism too strictly, you will kill creativity, and you will get bored with your clothes. I don’t want to generalise, but I see people with capsule wardrobes eliminating and adding all the time. Buying a brand new capsule wardrobe every six months is so not the point. I advise you to lett perfectionism go. Capsule wardrobing is a great way to start building by beginning by the items you wear & love every day. Obviously they work and you should try to add to that foundation.

So lett’s get started…

To get your finances in order, you need to track what you spend money on for a month or two, getting your wardrobe in order is also about tracking and inventorying what is already there ( so you don’t buy another grey sweater ) what you wore a lot, what you didn’t and figuring out why that is.

The first step is actually about splitting your wardrobe into seasons. If you don’t do this, you’ll get discouraged because it’s really way too much work to go about everything at once. Just like sport or financing or anything in life, you have to build slowly.

Forget about the shoes, underwear, sport clothes , homewear. These are different categories and not important right now. Ok let me rephrase. Shoes are the most important element of an outfit really. But not important right now, one step and one shoe at a time.

I live in Belgium. We have a lot of changing weather here. This morning for instance it was bright and sunny like I could go out with my flip-flops. While I’m writing this over my lunch break it is currently raining like I’d live in Scotland. So I’m writing all of this with that in mind. If you live somewhere near the US west coast and you don’t have extreme climate changes, this will be a whole lot easier.

Step one : Make piles for the four seasons.

Right now we are in spring leaning in towards summer. This means: keep your summer stash but also keep your fall and spring pile. As I said things can get chilly in the evening and the morning, or in between too ;). This is the ideal time for instance to wear a long summer dress with you fall and spring ankle boots and throw a long trench over it.

Store the real thick winter clothes, you’ll deal with those later.

If you are in fall, but leaning more into winter – store your very light summer things.

I find it’s handy to keep spring and fall items near by as they are easy to layer and you will have to pull them out a lot if you would store them. Whereas real summer and winter clothes , that’s only like 3 months ( or even shorter ) a year.

Step 2: Putt everything on and photograph yourself while wearing it. This is really time consuming, but worth it. Because you can reflect on an item longer while looking at the pictures and really see why things fit you and why not. If you happen to find really good outfits or outfit combo’s, keep them in your phone. This is handy for days when you don’t know what to wear.

This first step has nothing to do with the life you lead and if you actually will wear those items, but it’s really more about finding your true personal style. You could have a really vampy dress in your closet that looks amazing on you, but never seem to wear it because you never have occasions like that. Note: I don’t own a vampy dress, It’s just an example. And yes, I also never go out. See how I already cultivated everything I’m writing here…

To come to the point. It’s about what works for you. Later when you actually know your style, we’ll figure out what works for your lifestyle. These are indeed two very different things.

When pulling something out of your closet and trying it on, go over these things:

  • The fit ( if it’s too small, too narrow, brings out the wrong features … It needs to go )
  • The style. An item can be very nice on you but if it’s not your exact style you’re going to feel weird in it and it will stay in your closet.
  • The texture. If you can’t stand itchy wool, or you don’t like polyester blouses on your skin.. it’s going to stay in your closet. Even if it’s your style and it fits you.
  • The colour. This has everything to do with your skin tone. Almost every colour goes with every skin tone to a degree. If you like beige, you have to wear the exact kind of beige that will flatter your skin tone. Colours that make you look washed out, are gonna stay in your closet. Unless you find hacks to pair them with colours that suit you. This is advanced level, forget about that for now.
  • The cut of an item. This has everything to do with your style. You can have two black blouses. One is avantgarde and has clean edgy cuts, and the other has boho frills. I don’t have to explain that it depends on your style and the other things that are in your closet that you’ll pick one over the other. Because if you like romantic things, and your closet is full of those, what are you going to pair that one edgy blouse with? Indeed, it will stay in your closet. The cut is also important when we are talking about your body proportions & choosing items that flatter your body type. For instance, I already have broad shoulders, it makes no sense for me to go for items that are cut in a way that they would accentuate my shoulders. Some people have narrow shoulders, and would like to add proportion, or others like the broad shoulders and would like to accentuate them. It all depends on your personal tastes and body proportions.

When you look at all of the photo’s try to think about why an items looks great on you and why not and take in to consideration all of the above.

That’s why style is personal, not THAT easy and a lot of people make many mistakes, and spend so much money on the wrong things & the fashion industry benefits hugely from that. It’s also a bit more complicated than just making a Pinterest board with all the stuff you like.

Doing all the above is very time consuming but worth it if you want to really see what works for you and stop spending your cash on in retrospect ‘ silly things’. If you want to make the most out of this exercise, you can upload the items you definitely like on on the app ‘ stylebook’ ( only for iOS- but I’m sure android has something similar – otherwise I have to create that android app, what am I waiting for lol). Stylebook is a tool to take inventory of your wardrobe, and very easy to use if you are assembling an outfit. This can be very useful later, because you kind of also want the items in your wardrobe to be able to all work together, like a team, or a good relationship. Otherwise, they will stay in your closet. And an item that stays in your closet is basically very badly invested money.

You have to see this as a gift to yourself, getting your finances organised is a real gift to yourself and your peace of mind, and so is a wardrobe that functions according to your needs. Unless you like the fifties just flyin’ out of your pocket.

Hope this was useful in some way. Looking forward to writing part two next week and taking pics of my outfits in between.

Love,

Maureen

Also I don’t know how long this online course is going to be. Depends on what I remember from all of my stylist classes I took 15 years ago, just kidding.

The only bags you’ll ever really need.

I’m a bag person, but contrary to what you might assume, that doesn’t mean I own a lot of handbags.

There are only so many bags you ever really need. And the best thing always being if one handbag can actually serve different purposes. Ladies, if a bag can be used for a multitude of purposes, we have a winner on our hands.

I’ll start with my favourite bag: the straw basket bag.

1: A big size straw basket bag. This can be used to go to the supermarket, the weekly market or hold al your items you bring to the beach. The reason this is my favourite items not only because Jane Birkin totally made this simple carry all a very stylish item. This item gives me a very good feeling most of the time because the chances are that, if you see me carrying this, I’m in free time weekend or vacation modus.

2: A backpack. For long trips, walks or citytrips, this is most likely the best option. Especially if you want to have your hands free, because you have a dog, or a baby ( In this case a backpack is much handier I think than a diaper bag – which I’m not going to include in this list because not everyone reading here will have a baby on their hands). The best option here is to go for a handy slouchy sort of style tote bag that can convert into a backpack. I’m opting for slouchy, soft adaptable leather because this is also the best option to take with you in your suitcase when we can all travel again. The one below is from fransescas.com, and the second one is handmade, but you can easily find similar styles in vintage shops.

3: A structured tote bag or bigger size bag. A bag that can hold your laptop or A4 paper. Just a classic bag to go to your office or a meeting, that literally will fit with any outfit due to its classic style. I have to say that Michael Kors is one of the bands that do “office to on the go anywhere” quite well and I really like the price point especially if you buy Michael Kors second hand. I feel like it’s better to have a lot of money in the bag than spent on the bag. The one below is from the conscious brand Everlane.

4: A crossbody bag.

I don’t want to say structured and classic only because if you happen to have a more bohemian and loose creative vibe about you and your wardrobe, a structured bag will totally not fit in. So it’s up to your style personality. I think what I want to say is: a medium size crossbody that you can take on the go with you when you don’t want to carry around many things. Below one of my current favourites, the Chloe Tess. It has a real seventies vibe going on but still also holds a lot of structure. This is a quit expensive bag though but I’m sure that alternatives to this bag are out there. Ok, Lett me rephrase that. That is an insane amount of money to spend on a bag, and should only be justified if you make that amount times 10 in a month.

5: Something special. For the garden parties, or an evening out. A small shoulder bag or a clutch or something fun to add some detail to a special outfit. You can even have a few in this category just to have some fun. They don’t have to be pricey because you will wear these on occasion. This is the bag that you wear more like a fun accessory instead of choosing it for its functionality. Bags like that can be easily found in price categories ranging from 10 to 20 euro’s. The photo below is from modaoperandi, but I bet similar styles are out there at lower price points too.

So this is my little intermezzo on bags, forget about designer brands or it bags, just celebrate your own style and choose based upon your style and budget & don’t forget to have fun while celebrating your personal style.

XO

How to up your spring style without buying anything.

“One of the advantages of being born in an affluent society is that if one has any intelligence at all, one will realize that having more and more won’t solve the problem, and happiness does not lie in possessions, or even relationships: The answer lies within ourselves. If we can’t find peace and happiness there, it’s not going to come from the outside.” -Tenzin Palmo1943.

Most of the time, the answer really lies right under our noses and there is a simple solution to the: “I have nothing to wear attitude.”

Here are some tips to revive your style while working with what you’ve got.

1) Add a belt. In jeans, classic trousers, or to accessorise a dress. It depends what look you want to go for. But a belt always elevates any look. You can add colour or go more classic or polished. You can accentuate your waist, in a way that fits your body type. For instance you can accentuate the waist low or higher. Either way. A belt is always a good idea.

2) Wear clean, crisp and quality clothes. Just going through your closet and eliminating threads hanging here and there or bobbles can work miracles. This is also the case for ironed clothes. We all know that ironing is a drag and takes up way too much time. The solution for this is getting a steamer. I kinda find it fun to do, it’s like doing magic with your clothes.

3) Look at what everybody is wearing, and then simply do the opposite. Chances are, if you’re not following every fashion blogger or fashion guru out there, that the styles that people are wearing in your direct circle are pretty similar and easy. 90 pct of the people around you might be wearing jeans, a loose T-shirt and sneakers. So if you want to stand out, look fresh, take in those looks and ask yourself what you could be doing differently or how you’d elevate those looks.

4) Wear a hat. This is one of my personal faves. I have a lot of hair , that takes a lot of time to groom, and this one kinda gives me a free pass on tip number five. A hat instantly elevates your style if it’s the appropriate one. I’m not suggesting wearing a classic Lady Di hat with a Brooklyn style puffer coat. By the way. a ribbon in your hair or classy headband could also easily do the trick.

5) Take care and do your hair. I know this is important, because our hair is our canvas and blow outs are our best friends. A blow out or fresh cut makes you instantly revived.

6) It’s all about the coat. I’m not saying you gotta be peek -a -booing or like wear your pj’s under your trench. But adding a long stylish trench coat of some sort is always a good idea.

7) Just throw it out! Well no, recycle or donate. But yes, throw it out! If you don’t feel your 250 pct best self in it, let it go ( and sing the frozen theme song while you’re doing it).

8) Go for simple silhouettes. If you are in doubt, go for simple and classic. Monochrome looks also are easy to style, even with slight colour variations.

9) Elongating is also a nice way of playing with proportions and easy to do. Just ad some height and you’ll get a different silhouette because of the change in your posture when adding some height. If you are tall, a kitten heel also does the trick of changing your posture.

10) The material of what you are wearing is super important to how it will relate to your body. So when going through your wardrobe, think about which fabrics you like and why that is. Chances are that you’ll end up with a smaller set of clothes but clothes you love to wear and will wear more often.

Et voila. Easy and simple tricks to revive your look. And remember; If you must shop look at second hand, vintage options or sustainable made options first, before hitting the ( online ) stores.

Controversial idea: I buy food boxes to save money on food.

This idea might make you laugh since most people assume that foodboxes do cost a fair share of money. I want to refute to that idea, by giving you a few examples on how I think about and use food boxes to cater to my needs.

Continue reading “Controversial idea: I buy food boxes to save money on food.”

We like THE Marc Jacobs

I’m pretty sure this rebranding came from a certain phone call, and it probably went like this. Marc Jacobs: “Marc Jacobs speaking”. Other person: “Really? THE Marc Jacobs ?”

Continue reading “We like THE Marc Jacobs”

I lead by example. I am, Tory Burch.

I remember quite well when the brand Tory Burch made the news. I was in my early twenties, just starting at my first job as a social worker, reading Elle magazine on my lunch breaks. In the good old days, before social media hit the world by storm, Elle magazine was probably my first source to hear about the brand. Tory opened her boutique on Elisabeth street in NY in 2004, shortly after got featured on Oprah. From then on, the brand was everywhere. It was quite the story that a young woman, mother to three kids of her own, and three step kids, built a brand from the bottom up in a male dominated industry. Every fashion magazine out there wrote about Tory. She represented something for women all over the world. She represented independence. She represented freedom, she represented that anything was possible, any career. She represented that you could reinvent yourself from this day to the next.

Continue reading “I lead by example. I am, Tory Burch.”

Timeless lessons on wealth greed and happiness

I just finished reading the most exiting, light and funny book I’ve ever read on finance. It’s called “The Psychology of money and written by Morgan Housel. Morgan is a blogger at The Motley Fool, an advisor at The Collaborative Fund, that lends advise to startups, and a writer for the Wall Street Journal.

After finishing this good read , I realised I have sinned against quite a few of the financial laws Morgan Housel presents. And the chances are, that you have too. Since to this day there are more people in the world not being wealthy financial investors, compounding or trading stocks. If you just happen to be on the other side. This is not for you, leave your info, so I can maybe hire you later on to give finance lessons on zoom lol.

The book has a very handy summary of the most important advise at the end of the book. Handy because if you want a recap some years or time later, you don’t have to flip through the whole book again. It would be so amazing if other non-fiction writers would do that standard.

So here below, in a nutshell, Morgans’ witty take on finance and investing:

Go out of your way to find humility when things are going right, and forgiveness- compassion, when they go wrong. Because in your finance life, you’ll have highs, you’ll have lows. So stay humble when you are riding your high, and forgive yourself and others when times are depressing.

Less ego, more wealth: saving money is the gap between your ego and your income. The less you care about the opinion of others and the less you care about your image, the easier it will be to save money.

Manage your money in a way that lets you sleep at night. Don’t take unnecessary risks.

If you want to do better as an investor, the single most powerful thing you can do is increase your time horizon. Time is the most powerful investing tool. It makes little things grow big and it makes big mistakes fade away.

Become OK with things going wrong. You can be wrong half the time and still make a fortune.

Use money to gain control over your time.

Be nicer and less flashy. No one is impressed as much over your possessions as you are.

Save. Just save. you don’t need a specific reason to save.

Define the cost of success and be willing to pay it.

Worship room for error: A gap between what can happen in the future and what you need to happen in the future in order to do well is what gives you endurance. And endurance is what makes compounding magic over time.

Avoid extreme ends of financial decisions.

You should like risk because it pays off over time.

Define the game you are playing and make sure your actions are not being influenced by people playing a different game.

Respect the mess. There is no single right answer. Just the answer that works for you.

I think most of this advise speaks for itself, but if you’d like to know more I strongly recommend the book. It’s published by Harriman House and available, well, everywhere!

It’s the most romantic time of the year and I’m having a big romance with Coach handbags right now.

Lett’s dive in to the deep end of the history of this well known American household brand. I think I can explain my obsession for this brand because it originally had such a strong connection with sports. And I think that this connection just makes me not see it only as a luxury brand. It’s luxury but it’s strong. It’s luxury but it’s tough. It’s luxury but it has a drive. And, it’s luxury but it’s also the girl next door that drives to her baseball game on Sunday. Basically, Jen Aniston in a baseball cap, J Lo on her down time in at leisure. These are all images that come to mind when I think of Coach. For me, although Coach handbags are feminine and classy, that first connection the brand had with baseball will always make me think of the brand as the brand of bags for the tomboy, the girl you can’t mess with, the girls in a league of their own ( referring of course to the Geena Davis, Madonna film). It’s just about that little extra flair you can’t putt in to words, and Coach definitely has it. The fact that the brand also has a foundation to educate children and to empower women, is just the icing on the cake on my statements made about why I love Coach, like I love Jen Aniston.

Coach was founded in 1941 in a family run workshop in a loft on 34th Street in Manhattan. It was a 6 people workshop at the time that solely focussed on designing sturdy leather wallets. In 1946 Miles Cahn and his wife Lillian joined the company. The couple eventually buys the brand just a few years later. Miles, a baseball coach, noticed that the leather used for baseball gloves was very soft, very strong, and had a nice cognac colour that only got better with the use of the glove. Et voila, signature gloved leather by Coach was born there and then. It was only a matter of time that Lilian urged her husband to change his focus towards leather handbags for women. Out of all the coach bags, the vintage Coach bags, made in New York, are really the ultimate bags for me. I’d never dream of selling my true blue NYC Coach bags, as they are getting to be a real rarity and harder and harder to find.

In 1961 Bonnie Cashin, a sports pioneer, joined the brand. He made sure the bags got side pockets, a place for coins and he redesigned the bags in brighter, fun colours opposed to only the baseball tan.

In 1979 Lewis Frankfort made sure the brand got sold in big department stores while focussing on opening more Coach stores.

In 1985 Miles and Lilian Cahn decide to focus on their goat farm and making their own goat cheese. Crazy plot twist, I know. They sell the business to Sara Lee- that places Coach under their Hanes branch.

In 1996 : Reed Krakoff takes the lead as creative at Coach, thanks to Krakoff’s innovative designs Coach grows into a world known luxury brand. To be honest I do like the real vintage bags better to Reeds designs.

In 2016 Brit Stuart Vevers takes over from Krakoff. Vevers, previously creative at Loewe, Mulberry, Calvin Klein, Bottega Veneta, Marc Jacobs…transforms Coach on a whole new level. The brand also gets Selena Gomez and later Jennifer Lopez as ambassadors to speak to a younger and broader audience. Jay Shetty, former Monk, has a spot at the Coach YouTube channel since this January, speaking as a Coach, on purpose and other life related topics.

As for Vevers. I love the fact that he didn’t eliminate the cc logo, rather giving Coach a more mature, serious look by making the logo smaller ( and nicer looking in my humble opinion). He reinvented the vintage classics bags. These have a simple but evergreen design, making the vintage classics real classics to stand the test of time. He also has added some humor to the brand, launching bags with rockets, or adding Snoopy designs. I feel like some of the bags are seriously winking at the Marc Jacobs brand. And that’s a very good thing, we are all in desperate need of a little humor and playfulness these days.

Here are some amazing designs by Stuart Vevers. Available at Coach.com

Hearting all of the below styles but I seriously pick the Champion X Coach belt bag as my valentine.

To my fellow Europeans, it’s a UK site, I don’t know what the deal is with Brexit customs right now. So…better check before you buy!

An ode to my unworn wardrobe// wintercapsule

I guess since I am wearing my cosy oversized jumper loose pants outfits day to day while at home…I kinda forgot about what REAL dressing looked like.

Temperatures dropped in Belgium this weekend and the word is that the weather Gods are gifting us snow tomorrow. Best excuse ever to bring the winter capsule wardrobe out. After all.. I’m a sucker for knitwear and oversized coats.

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Gucci, the brand for the lonely. #LOVED.

In these challenging times we are all going through right now. I feel like nothing can truly lift the spirit of a human being than a beautifully crafted handbag and some good old gossip or sassy family drama. So, I’d love to tell you about the history of the Gucci brand on this little old blog.

Continue reading “Gucci, the brand for the lonely. #LOVED.”