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1. Khaki shirt - Kathy Ireland, 2. Black tee - EDC by Esprit, 3. Dinosaur tee - shirt by Okarma: hand air-brushed design by unknown artist: bought at London's Covent Market, 4. Brown skirt - unknown, 5. Blue flowery skirt - Cache-cache, 6. Grey pleated skirt - Minna Classic

Remember the Six Items or Less concept? (Refresh your memory here and there.) It entailed a sartorial diet of only six items of clothing for an entire month (undies and such excepted).This was not so much a ploy for encouraging laundry duty as it was a study in stylish pragmatism – a study that I hope to incorporate into my daily life.

Depending on its sartorial context, Gothic vibes go careening into either punk or pretty territory. *strumsairguitar* Yeah, I'm juvenile that way.

Originally, I’d intended to cover the how-to’s of packing in this post. But then I realized that my *cough* packing strategy didn’t so much cover how to pack as it did what to pack. Evaluating and editing my clothing needs was crucial to helping me condense all my essentials into my carry-on. (Check-in luggage is always such an expensive, hassling risk to take.) My college-bound packing was thus an educational exercise in pinpointing my wardrobe staples.

Before, it was always difficult to figure out what were my actual, real wardrobe stapes because so many fashion books had lured me into fantasizing about the ‘ideal‘ wardrobe staples – like the perfect straight jeans, white button-downs, and pencil skirts.

Those garments always look so shiny and gorgeous in fashion books. But do they work? In a word: no. I own exactly one pair of jeans which I haven’t worn for over a year. The only times I’ve donned a white button-down were as part of a uniform. Pencil skirts? Closet Untouchables.

Rainbow dinosaur = Awesome 4EVA Happiness :)

The truth is that these types of garments rarely, if ever, flatter my figure. If something doesn’t make me feel and look good, I won’t touch it. It’s no surprise then that they fail at being my personal wardrobe staples. (Yes, they work in theory. They even work in practice. But only on other people. Not me.)

However, it was years before I grasped the fact that I was never going to be able to work these ‘ideal‘ wardrobe staples into my daily life.

Until I realized that, however, shopping for clothes was a rather pathetic process. My attitude ranged the gamut from denial (Perfect jeans, I choose you! *sparkle*) to despair (It doesn’t fit…*pwnd*) to anger (Why is it not super effective!? *meme*) Last year, I finally gave up on this fruitless quest, feeling discouraged. Was I doomed to live with a less than ideal sartorial style? *cuedramaticmusic*

Khaki and button-downs are two elements that rarely work for me. But, somehow, this shirt does.

 

Thus, I was rather inspired when I read the lovely Maria’s blogpost on personal wardrobe staples. (Visit her at Lost in a Spotless Mind.)

Maria pointed out the problem with the so-called ‘ideal‘ wardrobe staples – they didn’t always work for her or her style. She then proceeded to draw up her own drool-worthy list of wardrobe staples that were just that: garments that she enjoyed wearing regularly.

According to Maria:

…wardrobe staples should be items that instantly make you feel great, well-dressed and like yourself.

It helped me realize then that wardrobe staples should reflect your own unique sensibility. Everyone has their own special items that work for them, that they reach for again and again. Maybe those items are on the ‘ideal‘ list. Maybe not.

Military-inspired chic at its most practical, feminine basic. Nerdy much? *actsalldefensive*

It doesn’t really matter.

What does matter is that your clothes work for you.

I know many people might think I’m stating the obvious. (Yes, you there! What are you sniggering at, hmm? ;) But, the truth is, those fashion books were awfully seductive with their shiny photos of gorgeous models who look good in anything, parading about in the perfectly fitted ‘ideal‘.

Who would say no to that?

So I bought and bought, needlessly stuffing my closet with the said ‘ideal‘ that was supposed to make me a chic and efficient dresser. I wanted my style to be both sensible and refreshing. Following that well-meaning fashion advice resulted in neither.

I’m NOT saying that fashion books are bad. Some give very helpful styling advice, while others provide delicious eye-candy. I still read them and sometimes even daydream about those elusive ‘ideals‘.

A waist-hugging, curve-skimming twirl of flowers that hits at a just-right-knee-length. Need I say more?

However, I now view them through more critical eyes: Does that style look good simply because the model looks good? When and where would I wear something like that? Would that piece work with something I actually own? Stylish pragmatic coming through!

Schoolgirl or office uniform? Take your pick. Versatile subversiveness and all that.

Of the two types of fashion books, inspirational and instructional, I’m now more drawn to the former. Mood boards and style icons are my muses. The instructional ‘list of wardrobe staples you need’ variety are generally avoided.

In other words, I gravitate towards books that inspire true personal style. ‘Style’ books rather than ‘fashion’ books, if you will.

Or, as I like to call them, books that promote the real over the ‘ideal‘.

That’s because good style is all about being real, being the best you you can be. You are the real deal, and, for all the best fashion advice in the world, no one else knows how to be you as much as you do.

As Dr. Seuss put it:

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

And BEING YOU is the most stylish thing you can do! ^_~

 

 

**SPECIAL THANKS! To the ever-stylish Maria for inspiring this post and for being so gracious about letting me quote from her lovely blog!!**

A/N: I honestly don’t remember where I got half of these wardrobe staples (namely, 1, 4, and 6). I’m just giving the names written on their labels. Anyways, this post is only for the ‘basic’ wardrobe staples. As implied by the header, I’m working on a Part II (and possibly III) that will feature said ‘non-basics’, including: accessories, formal wear, and the like. I’ll also try to address more aspects concerning the Real vs ‘Ideal‘ issue.

A/N #2: Please remember that I live in a tropical climate. Therefore, certain items, such as coats, won’t be featured here. Seriously. The only coat I ever wear is a raincoat.

A/N #3: This is the first time I’ve written a post this long about fashion. I got a bit carried away…So! Feedback is much appreciated. I’ll gladly learn from my mistakes, but only if I know what they are ^_~

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