Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Wardrobe Formation

Early November surprised us with cold air and even a few snowflakes here and there this year. With temperatures dropping to the mid 40s, it was time to get my cozies out. This outfit is in heavy rotation lately, and I am happy to report that it contains only stuff that I have owned for years, but in a new combination. I've finally arrived at the feeling that my wardrobe is complete. If you read my blog since the beginning, you might remember that I started creating a wardrobe practically from scratch back in 2013, after a prolonged period of very low interest in clothes (let alone accessories, let alone style as a creative process). My body has been changing in the last several years in size and shape, which provided additional challenges. I was learning not only what can look good on my body, but also my tastes, preferences and my comfort zone. I discovered that when it comes to style, I've become much less conservative compared to my younger self, more curious and open to new ideas. I discovered a new born willingness to try new (to me) things and maybe even look ridiculous at times - it does not bother me now. So what if someone won't appreciate my experiments? It's only clothes!

I think I can say that I've discovered a sense of freedom when it comes to playing with style which I did not know I possessed. I realize of course that it's all relative, and my creative freedom isn't the freedom of Iris Apfel or some other style icons out there, but it is also far from conservative. And the best part is that it doesn't stop here! The more you do something, the better you get at it, or at very least the freer you get at it. That sense of ease is what I am looking for. I just want to create freely, in all areas of my life. And playing with clothes somehow feels very liberating to me. I also had to discover new places to shop, due to my new size. And I feel extremely lucky that in these few years the market for plus size women grew amazingly! It's not boring baggy dark clothes for women who feel ashamed of their bodies any longer - far from it! It is fun, colorful, adventurous and every bit as attractive and playful as clothes for regular sizes, which by the way is a huge change in the fashion industry, and in every sense thanks to talented plus size bloggers who weren't afraid to step in and work for this change. 

My wardrobe contains pieces from various brands (and some are well-known designers who collaborated with plus size brands), but all are very affordable, and almost 100% of them bought on sale. I rarely pay full price for my stuff, simply because there is always a good sale just around the corner. I also own some secondhand pieces, not necessarily vintage, though I have a few genuine vintage pieces too (mostly jewelry, but some clothes too - they are just not easy to find in plus sizes). Some of the pieces I purchased in these few years did not become favorites or simply got too small, so I donated a fair amount of such clothes to Goodwill. But most of what you see in this blog are the pieces that I hope will stay with me for many years to come. My wardrobe formation was not as it is written in books - I approached it intuitively and did not try to figure it all out, but rather felt my way through the process. And it was so much fun that I would recommend this way if anyone asks my advice. It is definitely a slower and perhaps more expensive way (there will be mistakes, inevitably), but it is an organic way, more genuine to who you are. And now after 4+ years of experimenting with my style and investing in pieces that I felt attracted to, I can finally say that now it is time to play with my existing wardrobe! It does not mean that I will never buy anything again, but I definitely slowed down and am actually eager, eager, eager to play with what I have. So I am happy to tell you that this outfit is almost fully a combination of beloved and worn pieces, with only a couple of little exceptions which will be revealed as you scroll down the pictures.

I've shown this cozy plaid skirt on the blog on numerous occasions before (JANUARY 2017NOVEMBER 2016MARCH 2016JANUARY 2016), and I don't see a reason not to show it again. It is one of my favorites, very warm (100% cotton flannel, fully lined) and a great alternative to pants on a cold day. I wear it with turtlenecks when it's especially chilly outside, but this time I paired it with my polka dot denim shirt which became a year-round staple in my closet (also shown in OCTOBER 2017JULY 2017AUGUST 2016).

And here is reveal #1 - the adorable bird pin (or brooch) that I bought on sale a month ago or so. It has a few sisters: a hummingbird, a dragonfly and a butterfly (some of them you've seen HERE). My earrings are very old, about 25 years I think. I bought them when I was a university student in Russia. They are a traditional Russian craft, hand painted enamel. I've always loved them because they are not typical of this kind. Most of  such jewelry are light colors on white background, while these have a "nocturnal" flair to them. I have a matching ring too. Maybe my bird is nocturnal also, flying in the dark sky on a starry night...

The boots are excellent quality and very comfy, I believe it'll be my 4th winter in them. You've seen the blanket scarf before, here is a fun example: SEPTEMBER 2015 (note that I'm slowly getting a hold of how to fold it, so it hangs nicely, haha). The coat is actually very warm and worn quite a lot (I love this post because it's our travels with my parents back in DECEMBER 2014). Finally, another thing you haven't seen before, or my reveal #2 - this red canvas bag. I had a similar one, only bigger, for years, but I gave it to my Mom since she really loved it (she appreciated the many pockets and compartments which are handy for trips to their summer house - dacha). So The Real Adventure Man bought this red bag for me, which I now use when I need to carry books, journals and other writer's stuff. 

As I've said, the formation of my wardrobe was not a typical one, and it might not work for everybody in a similar situation, which is fine - the key is to find what works for you. But I have been having so much fun and learning so many things about myself in the process, that I see a great value in my process, a value far beyond a wardrobe. 

Skirt - eShakti (since January 2016)
Coat - Lands' End (since 2014)
Boots - Born (since 2014)
Denim shirt - secondhand via Goodwill (Old Navy, new with tags - since last year)
Blanket scarf - Lane Bryant (since 2015)
Sunglasses - gift shop (last year)
Gloves - very old
Earrings - handcrafted from Russia (since early 1990s)
Bird pin - Chico's (sale this year)
Red canvas bag - gift from Justin (Levenger, this Fall)

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SUPERSEAL, our new bilingual book, is coming in 2017!

Illustration by Andrei Lialin

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  1. Natalia I am in love with this wonderful skirt. You look amazing in this first winter days style. I think it is satisfying to open the closet and there is only wonderful stuff.
    What a cute brooch :)
    I wish you a nice day, big hug,

    1. Thank you so much, dearest Tina, and yes, now I can totally relate to that feeling when I open my closet! <3

  2. Piękne jesienne kolory:))szal idealnie pasuje do Twoich włosów:))super spódnica:))Pozdrawiam serdecznie:)))

  3. bring out the krimskoije!!
    welcome to the world of the very own and almost complete wardrobe! :-D
    i witnessed your process over years and i can only applause! doing it by "how it feels" is the way i would recommend too if asked. the lists and numbers of other people will leave one always un-satisfyied.....its good to read tips and get inspired - but a personal wardrobe is - personal!
    and now to your actual and totally fab outfit - no - ensemble!! it is classic feminine yet very individual and fun! cozy and elegant and casual - clothes for living - to live in. the pattern mixing is a huge part of that all. and look at this sweet birdy! together with the "not so traditional" earrings it adds a gentle touch to the wool, denim and quilted material....
    you are a feast for the eyes!!
    much love and huge hugs! xxxxx

    1. Thank you, my love! If not for your cheerful and enthusiastic applauding over these years, who knows, I might have had quit this blog long time ago, so I am sincerely grateful for your support and friendship! <3

  4. You look so lovely in your warm clothes, so autumnal in those earthy colors, so gorgeous!!! And I love particularly how you create your outfits, mixing pieces you already own, adding some accessories, making them works nicely!
    I love your creativity and freedom!

    1. I truly appreciate your comment, my dear Monica! <3

  5. I think you have made the right approach on starting your wardrobe almost from scratch. Not hurrying things and only following your own rules and - especially - intuition is exactly what I did and still am doing too. That skirt is such an amazing piece, and I love how you combined it with that cute denim shirt. Your whole outfit is proof that an Autumn/Winter wardrobe doesn't have to be boring monochromes, whatever your size. Oh, and of course I love that sweet bird brooch too! Lots of love and the hugest of hugs! xxx

    1. I haven't realized that you and I have been in the same boat in terms of creating a new wardrobes for ourselves!! Yours is especially whimsical and unique with all the vintage dresses, and you should know that I would wear all of them if I had a chance, in a heartbeat! :) <3

  6. I think you're very wise, your approach to your wardrobe is also how I think homes should be furnished, with the wisdom of time. Not rushing out and buying a whole load of new stuff but by careful consideration and lucky finds.
    I love that skirt. xxx

  7. I'm just too damned beat to read, but I can look and that skirt is divine. I love it!

    1. Thank you for stopping by, my dear, always so happy to see you here! <3

  8. Congratulations dear Natalia on reaching this point in your style journey and discovering your own personal style. The outfit you created today exemplifies you with its colours and textures and quirky accessories. Enjoy playing and evolving with style , have a wonderful week. xx

    1. Thank you, my dearest Jill! I am eager to play with my style! <3