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.”

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!

Preparing your closet for fall- on a budget.

If you’re anything like me, a change of season gets you super exited beyond compare, to start re -vamping your wardrobe.

This might seem hard when you’re budgeting or attempting a no spend year.

Ok. It’s hard for me. It’s super hard for me, I love clothes but I decided to challenge myself, and now I have to show my character and not spend money on clothes, for one year. Ugh.

I have to be honest. I really, really really got the itch last week when the temperatures dropped.

But instead…

I inhaled and started to clean out my wardrobe.

Honestly.. I’m not happy that summer is almost over.. I say almost because it’s not, but here in Belgium we have had some rain and cloudiness and well, it feels like autumn. I also feel like I haven’t enjoyed summer to the fullest because of the pandemic. I didn’t take a real vacation or went abroad. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I feel like it’s even harder to accept that all these months just passed by & there is not a real way to catch up.

If anything I’d want to make a budget to go twice on vacation next year, but because of everything being so uncertain these days, I’m not sure even these vacations will even happen.

Hope this explains why although I’m excited for fall. I’m also a bit sad.

Anyway, enough with the mixed feelings. Back to our wardrobes…

First of all, If you’re still working from home or hardly leaving the house for anything else than running errands, you might not feel the need to prepare your wardrobe for fall.

I considered staying in the ‘meh’ state, but in the end I decided it would make me feel better to clear my wardrobe for the season to come, and continue to get dressed as if I had somewhere to go.

I felt like it might give me some hope for the future and that the state we are all in will pass some day.

And now for the tips

What I always preach to anyone willing to listen is to dress for the life you have, instead of the life you want. In this case, you can take this advice with a grain of salt. I believe we all need to dress for the life we have right now, and the life we want, and even up this a bit to spark some goddamn joy.

But it is still true, we should dress for the way we spend our time. If you’re a sports teacher, it makes no sense to have a closet full of pencil skirts. If you love pencil skirts, and you’d want a life where you’d wear them, then you’d have to alter how you spend your time. Maybe plan a few evenings out per week, so you get to wear your pencil skirts. Ah, the stories clothes tell, you have no idea.

Look at what you have in your wardrobe, and take out the things you wear all the time. Even if those are not the things you love the most, you’ll need them and you’ll need to try to build the rest of your wardrobe around these items, for now. These items are what you’ll keep wearing, realistically.

If you don’t like the items you’re wearing 90 pct of the time, there might be something else going on. Our clothes do translate our feelings to the outside world. But, that is another issue. For now, try to build around what you wear the most, even if you’d like to change that up in the long run.

Building a versatile wardrobe that you actually wear is a marathon, not a sprint.

Be real about all the stuff you don’t wear. Try to sell it on depot, or postmark, ThredUp or Vestiaire Collective. If you’re budgeting or trying to get out of debt.. You should also set a budget aside for clothes, because it’s just so that every season you’d like to shake up things in your closet just a bit. Don’t deprive yourself, just budget for it. I decided to go on a no spend for a year, just to detox but after this year I will be making room in my budget for clothing.

If you clear out your closet and sell what you don’t wear you’d be able to set up your budget for the next season with the money you’ve made today.

I love bold prints and bright colours and maxi dresses, but I never get enough wear out of them and honestly even if it is vintage.. You still need to pair that bright vintage dress with the right jacket, shoes and handbag in complementary or contrasting colours. If you want a style like that, It means that you’ll need a lot more clothes or accessories to match. Thus these kind of styles are more suitable for bigger budgets.

Don’t despair if you do like a more bohemian, bright coloured style,. You can still attain it with a smaller wardrobe and a smaller budget. But it will just take a lot more effort and trial to find the right pieces.

I mostly suggest to people with a small budget to go for classic, plain pieces that you can wear over and over and style in different ways. Try to nail down your colour palette by choosing 3 main colours that not only flatter your complexion but seemingly blend well together.

Textures: This is such a luxurious thing to do and it is so easy. You can play with the same colours in different textures. This is the summum of chique. I don’t understand why so little people apply this trick.

Repair and tailor : Maybe you can dye some items. Maybe some skirts need to be shortened a bit just to have that particular flair. Whatever it is. Don’t give up on the clothes you own so easily.. Try to make them fall proof by altering or try layering with items of a thicker fabric.

Maintenance: I didn’t spend any money on fall clothes, as I’m on a no spend.. But I did buy some things to help me keep my clothes in good shape. A trimmer for my knitwear, a steamer, shoeshine for leather handbags and shoes.

Handbag. One good structured handbag does make or break an outfit. So if you must invest, consider investing in this. It doesn’t have to be designer or expensive, it just has to lift up your outfit and bring it together as a whole.

I don’t like must haves, because they are just super personal, but I’ll write a short list below with items you can’t go wrong with.

  1. A striped long sleeve or wool sweater. You know these nautical, French like,  always in style kinda ones.
  2. A grey simple grey wool sweater, a little oversized always looks chique.
  3. Over the knee boots. Yaaaaaaaaaas! Because how nice is it to be able to wear them without having to wear a pantyhose. Freedom in a boot!
  4. High waist -makes you seem longer and tucks everything in well -straight legged jeans. Ankle flanker or not. It’s up to you. I find that ankle flankers are really cute with ankle boots.
  5. A silky mid length skirt. You know slip dress kinda material. You can combine this with everything. And I do feel like the sheer gloss on these makes them
  6. A dress you can take from day to evening. For instance, a slip dress. You can wear this dress in every season because it’s so easy to layer.
  7. That big chunky vest or a wool ( nice and warm ) blazer that you can layer over all the above and that you can use on cooler days when you are still searching for your perfect autumn/ winter coat.
  8. A perfect white T-shirt with a loose fit. For those moments or days you’d rather start all over again.
  9. A black T for the same reason.
  10. A turtleneck in the colours you’ve chosen for your ( capsule ) wardrobe.

Concerning shoes

If you’re anything like me, you’d like a good sneaker to go with your outfits, and an ankle boot in a neutral tone. That’s it really, all the rest is excess because you can style any outfit with either a classic shaped sneaker or the right kind of ankle boot. Yes, even a dress works fine with both.

Jewelry

Jewelry is the sugar coating of your wardrobe. I used to want to stand out by wearing special kinds of clothes, now I try to make my style unique by adding the right accessories. Quality jewellery is a nice investment in your wardrobe and can really set you apart.

What are your go to essentials for your fall wardrobe? And how do style your wardrobe, without breaking the bank?

Love, Maureen

How to dress well on a budget. Preparing for autumn…

“When in doubt, wear red.” —Bill Blass

Since there are much nicer things to do than buy clothes that don’t last, or are way to expensive and that you won’t use anyway. I made a list that you can use as a guide when you are adding those autumn pieces to your all- year- round wardrobe. I added some tips to cut down on expenses too. Little things that you may not have thought of but are of great importance. Lett’s dive in!

Continue reading “How to dress well on a budget. Preparing for autumn…”

Insight brought to you by no other than your zipper.

“What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language.” —Miuccia Prada

Insight brought to you by no other than your zipper.

In the picture above a Saint Laurent’s frogged hussar coat and Dior’s evening coat. From Vogue September 1969, in case you were wondering. These are not available anymore but if they are for you for some reason, hail to you!

Let’s talk zippers. They were called that way because for the obvious sound they make when you zip them up and down.

Continue reading “Insight brought to you by no other than your zipper.”

Buying vintage made easy

“Fashion is the amor to survive the reality of everyday life”

Bill Cunningham

The easiest way to be mindfull with clothing and the clothes you buy is buying vintage. But, buying vintage is often a lot easier than styling it. So, just to prevent you from getting home with a whole bunch of stuff you really don’t need, that doesn’t go with your style, have nothing to combine it with,  and made out of floozy material, I’ve written this post.

Continue reading “Buying vintage made easy”