Saturday, 10 December 2011

100 pieces every stylish woman must own!

I love style books, from a vintage Sophia Loren one to Vicky Beckham's "Hair, High Heels..." After reading so many I've come to realise the same items are listed by all as being classic stylish items. I used to dress according to what was in the shops at the time, and only realised recently what it means to have personal style. This I take to mean some core pieces and shapes that you know work for you, that you add to/take from as the seasons change and colours and patterns revolve in the neverending cycle of fashion. Buying less, and buying better quality where possible is more economical, it's better for the environment, better for the workers making the garments and ensures you stay true to a style that suits you.
I though I'd share this book with you, lent to me recently by my good friend Cat (watch out for a guest post from her coming soon!). Project Runway's Nina Garcia has compiled a book of her essential 100 stylish pieces. Some are obvious, some are surprising. Happily I own quite a few, gonna do a tally of my style percentage according to Nina. I've listed them here with my comments. Bear in mind when reading this that Nina is in her 40s and lives in a completely different climate, so you can't expect to match her on every point. A bit of fun in between my heavy parenting posts!

Grandmother's brooch at top,lwr left from A-wear, lwr right from charity shop
  1. A-line Dress. - I always admire these, but not so flattering on my body shape
  2. Animal Print. - Have a few pieces. Most worn is my leopard Vuitton copy scarf. Least is my leopard bodysuit...
  3. Ankle Bootie. - Have 2 pairs and live in them
  4. Aviators.-Nope. Don't really suit me. I always feel the wire arms are too flimsy. I prefer wayfarer shapes. I try to get sunglasses for under a tenner, as they get stood on regularly...
  5. Ballet flat-. Have black and red patent Bloch ballet flats. Did an earlier post on these must-haves.
  6. Bangles. - Annoying
  7. Belts. – I have a huge belt collection, vintage, new, leather, diamante, chainmail, rarely wear them though.
  8. Bikini. - I have about eight bikinis and have worn them the odd summer if it's really hot, but sun holidays aren't my thing, so largely unworn. 
  9. Blackberry. – Nope, don't even know how to do internet on my phone.
  10. Black Opaque Tights. - Many, many. Some have been recycled into shorts, a la Spanx, some have been made into tops a la Mary Portas' Armery. They have been a wardrobe staple of mine for the last 20 years. What would we do without them? The first sign of Autumn is when you dig them out.
  11. Blazer.- I love blazers. I have a tan cord one with red lining, a black satin Balmain-esque shouldered, a white one. They go over everything.
  12. Boyfriend Cardigan - I steal his cardigans all the time, and have eventually been banned, so I bought myself a couple - a brown wool and a red acrylic.
  13. Brooch. - Have a beautiful vintage diamante brooch from my grandmother. This has been used as a hairclip, worn at the lapel of a jacket, the shoulder of a one-shouldered dress, so versatile. Have some other cheaper ones, and my prized one (not photographed) is my aquamarine gifted to me by my deceased grandmother, aquamarine is my birthstone.
  14. Cable-Knit Sweater.- Would not suit me at all. I just feel like a sack of potatoes in a chunky knit.
  15. Caftan. - ye wha?
  16. Camel Coat. - too grown-up for me yet.
  17. Cape.- I nearly bought a full length red pure wool cape in a charity shop, unworn, by Avoca Handweavers. I restrained myself, thinking it not practical. Maybe in a few more years when I don't have a baby strapped to my boob.
  18. Cashmere Sweater.- Would dearly love one, but not practical. Would be eaten by our pet moths anyway.
  19. Charm Bracelet. - My mom has a beautiful silver charm bracelet that was given to her and added to throughout her teens, I hope someday to inherit it, and pass it on if I have a daughter. I don't own one myself, as the ones you buy ready made don't have a story, but might be a nice idea for future presents.
  20. Clutch.- Too many to list. Favourites include my silver beaded wedding one, my snakeskin vintage one, my diamante heart one... See photo below for some I had to hand.
  21. Cocktail Ring.- A few, love them for a special occasion.
  22. Converse. - Black and pink high tops, white and pink low tops. Classic.
  23. Cosmetics Bag.- Too many, never use most of them. My fave is a hot pink mesh ancient one - part of a travel bag set from my mother-in-law, I love how you can see through it to find things quickly.
  24. Cowboy Boots. - Not my style, though I was crazy to get my hands on a pink pair in my Spice Girl days, even rung London stockists.
  25. Cuff. - None, never got into them though love them on others, a real simple stylish statement piece
  26. Denim Jacket. - Raging I gave away the Levi's one I had in the 90s, they're all the rage now. Had a denim blazer that fit like a glove, but gave it away too. Want one now I think about it...
  27. Diamond Studs. - Wear mine every day, little princess cut studs given by my husband for my 30th. The only earrings I can wear that don't make me look like I live in a caravan.
  28. Driving Shoe. Associate these with the elderly. Enough said.
  29. Espadrilles. Love these and mean to get a pair every year but never do. Will make a point of it next summer. They are really girly and 50s with a summer dress. 
  30. Evening Gown. - Have a couple from college balls, have no occasion to wear them. Maybe I'll invest in a new one for my husband's Oscar nomination night....
  31. Exotic Skin Bag. I have two snakeskin clutches, see photo below for one of them. This was a charity shop buy for about 4 euro, and I was using it as a dressing up item for my kid's drama class when a student pointed out it was real snakeskin. Out of the dressing-up box it was whipped!
  32. Fishnets. - Many, in tights and stocking form. Suspender belts, you name it. Worn rarely these days obviously. I love flesh-coloured fishnets for a change to normal tan tights, though Beyonce has almost put me off them.
  33. Frye Harness Boot. - Just googled this and this is the name of the 2 boots I raved about in a previous post and youtube video. I always thought of them as biker boots. Hanging head in style ignorance shame.
  34. Fur. Against my animal-respecting principles. Though I wear leather accessories. But never leather jackets. Am I a hypocrite?
  35. Gentleman’s Hat. Every summer I buy a men's panama hat and wear it till it breaks./gets eaten by a baby/gets crushed in the boot of the car. They suit me, unlike most hats. I only spend about a tenner, and usually get them in H&M
  36. Gloves. Have some vintage elbow-length evening gloves, and some leather wrist-length gloves. Never think of wearing them though. Maybe the Oscar night.
  37. Havaianas. Live in my brown and red ones, see previous shoe post. They are springy and you can walk all day. From April to October they are my go-to shoe on dry days. Lazyass
  38. Hobo Bag.- An essential for every clutter-needing mama.
  39. Hoop Earrings. - Caravan. With my hair and freckles
  40. Investment Bag. Not yet. If I win the lotto I'll invest.
  41. iPod.- No. Too much technology, too little time
  42. Jeans. - Many, many, going back about 6 years. Slowly getting back into them as the suckers deflate my glutes with their calorie-depleting munching.
  43. Jewelry Pouches. - One, unused. What's the point? wear it when travelling, or it'll get nicked, no?
  44. Khakis. I have not. Love the Jbrand skinnies, see True North Style's blog.
  45. Knee Boots. Heeled ones only, not comfortable. Feel like a hooker / me circa 1998.
  46. Leather Pants. Have leather-look leggings, that count?
  47. Lingerie. Lots, miss the Agent Provocateur boutique in Brown Thomas, got some classics in their sales including a nursing bra in hot pink!
  48. Little Black Dress. One, fantastic one, only 15 euros in H&M, never had such a good fit. Unfortunately not nursing-friendly.
  49. Little White Dress. One, Karen Millen, love it, but sadly not breastfeeding friendly either.
  50. L.L. Bean Tote. No, maybe for my birthday though, could do with an upgrade on the hndmade one I use.
  51. Luggage. None, would love some nice stuff, vuitton would do me grand.
  52. Mad Money. (as in a few notes stashed in a bag's inner pocket). Always. Recently found 70 euros in an old bag I hadn't used in a few years.
  53. Men’s White Shirt. No, don't think it would suit my shape
  54. Mary Janes. - still wearing a Nine West pair I bought about 8 years ago, beige and mid-heeled with almond toe. Classic, and indestructible
  55. Minnetonka Moccasin.- not for me but I appreciate their comfort factor.
  56. Missoni Knit.- too-often copied, most recently in Primark and now in every charity shop too. I wouldnt know the real from the fake.
  57. Monogrammed Stationery. - my grandmother always has this, very classy. Think I may have to get some, it's the real mark of a lady methinks.
  58. Motorcycle jacket. - Well, I've a PVC Topshop one still looking good 3 years on. Love how it transforms the dullest outfit into something edgy.
  59. Nail Polish.- A cheap and cheeerful way to wear trend colours. An accessory unto itself, if I could only get a magic wand to remove it when it's chipped. See my Nails post.
  60. Old Concert T-Shirt. - Only have one authentic one - Kings of Leon, from their 2008 O2 gig, the first night my husband and I escaped our 3 month old son. Beer, kissing in the crowd, and great anthems, a perfect night.
  61. One-Piece Swimsuit. - Nope, I think these actually make me look bigger around the middle, I prefer a bikini. Has to hold in the lower tummy though.
  62. Pajamas. - Like the idea of prancing around the house in men's blue and white striped PJs, have yet to find a pair though. Not for bedwear though, nothing beats the birthday suit!
  63. Peacoat. - My husband lives in his, but I prefer a wrap, belted coat, better shape for me.
  64. Pearl Necklace. - See my Naming Day post for mega pearls. Never think of wearing pearls casually, but might be great with simple jeans and tee.
  65. Pencil Skirt.- I have about 10 in various colours, from black satin to raspberry wool, my go-to skirt shape for instant retro style. Pair with converse / ballet flats/ heels, you can't go wrong.
  66. Perfume.- My "honeymoon" perfume is DKNY's Be Delicious, still adore it 6 years on. Also love the Irish "Inis". Rarely wear it when breastfeeding as don't want to smother baby's delicate sense of smell.
  67. Plain White Tee. - Still looking for the perfect one. Would love one that hangs well, not see-through, and washes well. If you've found it please let me know.
  68. Polo Shirt. - Nope, brings to mind dreaded hockey and P.E. in school. Never again will I run after a ball wielding a wooden stick. The thought is so enlightening.
  69. Pucci.- Not a fan to be honest. Too "in your face", I rarely wear prints. Maybe a sunnier climate would change my mind.
  70. Pushup Bra. - Did the Wonderbra thing in the 90s. Bras are like girdles and corsets to me, lovely for a few minutes but I couldn't wear one all day.
  71. Quality Champagne. Veuve Cliquot all the way!
  72. Red Lipstick.- Yes.
  73. Robe. - As in fancy dressing gown. I have a beautiful cream silk robe I never wear because of the little suckers (children). I'll lounge in it drinking quality champagne when they're not hanging out of me any more. Hopefully before I turn 40...
  74. Safari Jacket. Nope
  75. Sandals.- On the fence. Spent 40-odd quid on a pair of "geek chic" sandals Alexa Chung would have looked divine in. Obviously the hormones addled my brain. And to make matters worse the fat character in Bridesmaids lives in the same pair throughout the film.
  76. Sarong. Do not flatter me at all. No point.
  77. Signet Ring. Not in Ireland. Not with white freckly hands.
  78. Silk Scarf. I look ridiculous no matter where I put them, around neck, in hair, as a belt. Look and feel like I'm a kid dressing up. Have a few lovely ones, maybe in my "prime" I'll rock the look
  79. Slippers. Not a fan, bare feet or socks. Slippers slip off. That annoys me.
  80. Spanx. - Have done these a couple of times, but stupidly feel like I'm cheating. I think you should dress for your shape, and if you need to squeeze half your arse up your back, and the other half down to your knees, then forgo the dress altogether. Can't breathe or sit in them, so what's the point?
  81. Statement Necklace. Loving these. Pick them up in charity shops and vintage fairs. Only wear non-breakable ones at the moment, with Baba swinging out of me all day. 
  82. Stilettos.- Love these when my legs are at their slimmest. At the moment they make me look like I'm Betty Boop, all thigh and chubby knee.
  83. Striped Sailor Shirt. - I buy these every year, none are the perfect one yet. Think I'll get one from France, a real authentic Breton top. Love them with beige skinny trousers or jeans and white Converse, and they look good with a pencil skirt and flats. Never with heels.
  84. Suit. I often wish I worked in an office so I could dress up for work. I own one proper suit, bought in LK. Bennett outlet for 280 euros. It's black wool, pencil skirt and box jacket. Looks great in a 60s Barbie kind of way. Unfortunately Baba No. 1 puked on my shoulder at a funeral 3 years ago and I never got it cleaned properly...
  85. Sunhat. Man's straw fedora, I don't do floppy.
  86. Trench.Nope, look ridiculous on me. I think you need to be tall, wilowy with olive skin to pull this off, not average height, curvy and freckly. I can't wear beige on my top half at all, washes me out.
  87. Turquoise and Coral Jewelry. - ADORE these! Especially together, set in gold, I'm actually salivating at the thought. Don't happen to own any though. There is nothing more classic than these stones together or separately. (Well, maybe diamonds...)
  88. Tuxedo Jacket. - Not for my shape, but love the androgynous look.
  89. Umbrella. - Never. Awkward. Not with a baby in a sling. Just run to shelter or put up your hood.
  90. Underwear. - Less is more...
  91. Valid Passport. - Always, not just me but all four of us. You never know when you'll get a whim to ferry to France
  92. Vans. Love the Mondrian inspired ones. But I'm a Converse gal. Ne'er the twain...
  93. Vintage. Always. Better quality, better design, beautiful craftsmanship. I dread the future when our grandchildren are buying vintage Primark.
  94. Watch. - Hate time-keeping, it goes against my "live in the moment" efforts. But I do like a man's watch to add style to an outfit. Mine is a Rotary rose gold with brown leather strap. Half price in Ernest Jones a few years ago.
  95. Wayfarers. - Bought a 2 euro copy in Penneys and got a good summer out of them. Could not justify the  expense of the real thing but adore the look
  96. Wellington Boot.- Have the heeled black version, 10 euros in Dunnes sale at end of October. I remember my granny having a pair from the 60s almost identical, I loved dressing up in them
  97. Wide-leg Trousers. Make me look short and stumpy.
  98. Wrap Dress. - Lovely, flattering but can be a bit "mumsy"
  99. Yoga Gear. - Have not the patience for the slow art of yoga. Ditto pilates. Gear looks good for lounging around at home, but don't ask me to break a sweat.
  100. Zippered Hoodie. Bought a lovely blue one in H&M but have gone off it now. It's too fitted. I'd like a man's oversized one with a white zip to wear under my PVD biker jacket.
Some of my clutches. Clockwise from bottom centre: Penneys, Penney's, vintage, TK Maxx, TK Maxx, Dunnes. Centre heart shaped: Accessorize. Comes out every Valentine's day
One hundred suggestions. How many of them do you have? Anything she's missed out on?
Well, I've tallied how many of these I own, including the quality champagne, even though I don't have any at the moment. I'm 57% stylish. Hmmm.
Well, many of them are not to my taste, I suppose I'm doing quite well, although I don't tend to wear a lot of the things I have, as they aren't really practical for my life at the moment. I've started hanging onto quality pieces, even if they're not being worn, as I rue the days I passed on some lovely things because I thought they were "out of fashion", only to have them return to fashion a few years later.
My favourite cocktail ring bought at a Christmas market outside Disneyland Paris, while drinking mulled wine, pre-baby...
It just struck me, this post would make a great wishlist, so may have to leave it hanging around on my laptop nearer my birthday...
Please share your thoughts on the list, or if you can recommend any other style books for me to read!
Niamh x

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