Express Checkout: Week One

Piece of cake! No felt pain at this early point, but the rest of my closet stretches out longer than the Rockettes chorus line.

Day 6: Black v-neck, scarf, black pants
I'm not tired of my 12 items, but talk is cheap, and I have over 3 weeks to go. 

Invited shopping with a GF this weekend, up for it but less curious about what's out there. (If I lived with 12 or even 24 items, I'd hardly ever have to shop.)

In the photo, I'm about to meet Donna and Vicky for dim sum. With my stack of scarves, I could try for the astounding efficiency of Six Items, but would need a same-day cleaner or 100% washable clothes.


1. Had vivid dream that I was placed in a detention centre for vandalizing a car (innocent!) and the warden took me shopping, saying "You'll need clothes in here". I said, "I only shop at Prada".  Is my subconscious is telling me something?

2. Most under-used, over-bought item in my closet: coats, probably a Canadian anxiety about being warm enough.

3. Fran Liebowitz has worn the same button down/suit combo for over 20 years. How does she do it?

How are those of you 'playing' doing with your choices? 

Next "Express Checkout" Update: Thursday, October 28


Vildy said…
I have 12 items as well, with the addition of
the matching silk blend sweater tank that
goes with a thin cardigan meant to be worn
open and a close fitting sleeveless vee neck
shell that might be exercise wear and is much
warmer than my lightweight thermal wear I
usually wear day and night through the colder
months. These 2 allow me to wear the two
cardigans in the group on their own, modestly.
I didn't limit coats but am trying to see how
far I can get with an unlined beige trench.
I also have a two piece camel jogging/athletic
suit for yoga or sleeping in if I want. Nothing
separate for housework.

It took me 3 days to figure out the pieces.
My first try at assembling pieces resulted
in 3 items purged. Realized that, while they
worked, I'd rather wear something else by
choice and that was probably always going
to be true. I love Fran Lebowitz' style and
I tried to achieve that Ralph Lauren/Isaac
Mizrahi curtain call outfit of the jeans, white
shirt, blazer but I don't have much in the way
of jeans and no suitable white shirt at all. So I
scratched all that. I have way too many
jackets/blazers and was surprised I had only
2 black wook and no navy.

Getting dressed has been easy and I don't
think I'll have trouble with that part. I feel
the pressure of having so many clothes
that I can't "justify" having because now
that their season has arrived I've excluded
them and they might sit another year.

I worry most about weather/temperature
and have some anxiety about being too
hot or too cold. Like you, I have a lot of
coats, also trench or cloth coats. I also
have a lot of blazers and jackets. I
deliberately excluded this top layer as
a first step in considering whether to let
them go or most of them. I don't really
have a place to wear them. I also excluded
black. I happen to love black but have
purged several black items as not being
the perfect black.

I have continued to shop but I have not
bought everyday clothes that would have
to sit for a month unworn. I have bought
some necklaces, an unlined suede coat
and a down coat, a handbag.

My worst disappointment/frustration has
been that the khaki pants I chose for the
challenge are really too baggy and loose
for me. They're the only pair I own and
while I can sew, I don't feel like spending
time slimming them.
Duchesse said…
Vildy: Thanks for the detail. If anyone is trimming a wardrobe, for a month or for good, all items have to fit. You say "I have a lot of coats, also jackets"- and yet added two! Believe me, I understand; my Achilles heel is black skirts.

Remember, no rules- feel fee to swap the baggy khakis for another pair, and on we go!
Pearl said…
I went with 15 items because I don't have a washer-dryer--use apartment complex's set. That made me reconsider the items that needed to be washed after wear: white cotton shirts and black/white tshirts. And jeans. So far, so good. My morning routine is easy, and I've spent more time on scarves/jewelry/make-up and less on "What can I wear today?" made certain there was enough color and possibility for "fancy" outfits that I already needed with guest lecturer in house. So far, so good.
Beatnheart said…
Just got on board with this. I love quality above all. but I love to shop in thrift stores too so quantity comes into play. Since I have an antique business, I am able to buy, wear once, then resell for a profit. Best of both worlds and my customers come away with a bargain since I cherry pick the best.. I love clothes and fashion is part of who I am. I am weeding out my closet to the best fitting, comfortable and stylish stuff...It’s all fun to me! I love your blog! its helpful and informative. Keep up the styling work....
Rubiatonta said…
I tried to play along, but I've got too much going on right now professionally and personally to add another layer of complexity and challenge. I had to give myself a "get out of limited wardrobe free" card.

Although I think if I did a tally at the end, I'd find that I wasn't wearing more than about 15 items anyway. I sort of dress like I'm on a long trip! (Then again, aren't we all?)
diverchic said…
Like Vildy, I had a hard time selecting pieces that fit and I would wear, ended up with 2 v-neck merino sweaters (purple and wine)two blouses (pink and white), 2 pairs jeans (beige and blue) black pants, grey pants, nice jacket to go with either, black coat, fleecy jacket, windbreaker. And a nice dog. Oh, yeah, accessories don't count.
We'll see how long I last. I was lusting after grey corduroys today until I realized I would have to dump something and also that they didn't have a french fly, which is essential these days.
Duchesse said…
diverchic: Are you wearing th4e blouses under the sweaters? B/c I would be too clod now in a blouse. Smart to have so many washable jeans/pants.

A wakeup call: in my selection, only one bottom is washable. What is point of reducing amount if it just makes me trot to cleaners every few days?
Duchesse said…
Diverchic: That's "too cold" and when cold I feel like a clod.
Vildy said…
Duchesse, I wear lightweight thermal sleeveless vee neck vests or long sleeve the same under blouses during cold weather. I have them in black, white and pale pink. I also have close fitting leggings in the same.
Works well with skirts and boots, too. A ridge would show under tights.
Duchesse said…
Vildy: Oh, thanks for reminding me- I used to do that! Still have some Hanro vests. Now I am lazy, just grab a cashmere, maybe a cami under it, but avoid ironing blouses till spring.
diverchic said…
Actually it hadn't occurred to me to wear the blouses under the sweaters, but good idea! It might be too bulky though. Hmm. My answer to cold is also underwear - silk 3/4 sleeve tops and silk bottoms from Winter Silks, which I know you love. Thanks to Vildy for reminding me to dig them out. Cozy.
Anonymous said…
Another enthusiastic vote here for silk underlayers--tops and bottoms. I have a long-sleeved nude v-neck and leggings that go under anything without adding bulk, and always make me feel warm and happy. Also found the perfect black camisole: knit back, double-layered charmeuse front, lace-trimmed,with just enough shaping to substitute for a bra--complete comfort, and perfect under cashmeres.

Keeping coats to a minimum has never been an issue for me, I'm afraid; I'm 5'2", and finding a well-proportioned coat is very difficult. I've had three black ones for years: a quilted car coat; soft leather pea jacket; and my beloved all-purpose dress coat, a vintage 1950s cashmere Originala swing coat with monkish hood and push-up sleeves that I wear with long skinny gloves--very Kim Novak. Beautiful quality, and so "out" it always looks "in". Found at a church rummage sale for $3.00.
Duchesse said…
diverchic aAll over the Northern Hemisphere is the sound of women digging out silk cozies! I've been ordering from LL Bean, taking advantage of free shipping.

Anonymous: Love that coat selection! My excuse for overflow is my favourite vintage store, Thrill of the Find: Ferre, Jean-Louis Scherrer, agnes b., Anna Maria Baretta. But 90% of time, wear my duffle coat.
abby jenkins said…
Very intriguing. I have been going through piles and bags of clothes from the summer, debating what to give to charity and what to keep. You have inspired me, indirectly with the 12 challenge, to just get rid of the things I was on the fence about. i.e. the pants that would look great if I lost 10 lbs and was going to a fancy lunch in NYC. If either one of those should happen...I'll wear one of my top 12. Merci! from me and Goodwill.
materfamilias said…
I'm loving the detail of this conversation and wishing I could have mustered the start-up energy to join in. It's just been too busy, especially with being away last weekend. Still, I suspect that if I'd found that time/energy, it would have made some of my mornings easier this week, eliminating choice, reducing thinking required until after that first hit of caffeine. You and your commenters are all very inspiring.
Duchesse said…
abby: Funny, I always feel a wrench putting an item int o0pthe Goodwill bag, then a month later I can't even remember what I got rid of.

Now that I no longer go to an office daily, am far less concerned about wearing something different. But will definitely welcome getting some of my sweaters back on!
Susan said…
That scarf is really lovely on you! I am also enjoying hearing all the details of this experiment. Even though I didn't join in, it has me thinking about my wardrobe and getting rid of things as well.

Totally off topic, but I wanted to make sure you saw this article which would be a great topic of discussion. Note how many comments were made on it:
Duchesse said…
Susan: The experiment has me in major purge mode, a good thing. I saw this article and was annoyed; didn't trust myself to blog, knowing I'd be called "mean".

IMO there is but one criterion for a women who wants to wear shoulder length grey hair: how she looks. And she should consider how *she thinks she looks* and also listen to an experienced, expert hair pro.

Her line "I like being 55 going on 15" creeps me out. There is a tone to the piece of a resentful child- regardless of hair.
Susan said…
Duchesse, I totally understan what you are saying about the article. On the other hand, I'm one of those older women (58) with long hair who has had to weather the comments of people who tell me that my hair ages me and that I should cut it short.

I'm a live and let live person who trusts each individual to know whether they are happier with short or long hair.
Pearl said…
My Polyvore set:
Duchesse said…
Susan: They think it ages you; do you? Does your hairdresser? And if it does indeed age you, would you-or anyone- trade making an impression as younger for something you enjoy?
Duchesse said…
Pearl: Wow, a dress! Those skirts are just endlessly wearable and though the dress is not a separate, I can see how the argyle gives you welcome respite from solids. Nice set :)
Susan said…
Actually, no, I don't think my long hair ages me. And, I enjoy it. That's just the point. We should all enjoy how we wear our hair--and the style needs to suit our personalities.

My friend who thinks my hair ages me shares the same hairdresser I use. I asked him point blank. WOULD I look better with short hair? He said no. He said my face shape and my features look better with long hair. In fact, he thought my hair should be longer than I wear it.
Duchesse said…
Susan: So, there you go! I completely agree that women (and men too) should wear what they enjoy. (The only caveat I have is if that gets in the way of work, such as the young man in sales with the blue hair), they might rethink it, or select other work.

Perhpaps those saying that to you hear "rules" and think they must be followed.
Susan said…
You all have inspired me so much with this experiment. I already find myself thinking more in terms of quality pieces of clothing that can go lots of places.

I would love more discussion of black vs. colors and how to introduce bits of color in a sea of neutrals.

And I agree that good fit is essential.

Can we discuss skirts? The different types, materials, colors, etc. For different body types and occasions. And what sort of shoes to wear with them?
Duchesse said…
Susan: I'll think about skirts, thanks.

re "neutrals with a bit of colour", I'm not the best advisor, as I don't enjy that effect. (I like colour with colour, for example a turquoise and yellow striped shirt with turquoise jeans- on others. I'm too tall and large for that.)

North American women seem to like to add colour, which can overwhelm a subtle ensemble. With a black outfit, I'll wear a tank watch with an orange croc band, something very minor, but not, say red boots and a red bag. (Again, I can admire it on someone on the street, but it's too bold for me.) 97% of all red clothing gives me the willies.

For a wonderful gallery of neutrals, unmitigated by colour, see Tish Jett's blog, A Femme d'un Certain Age.

You will see a lot of colour on the Advanced Age blog, mostly handled very loudly.
Susan said…
Ok, I can appreciate not injecting colors into neutrals. I was just musing about whether or not I should be doing that. While I look good in red, I tend to dressed in neutrals and feel conspicuous in bright colors.

But, please do think about skirts. I was intrigued by the fact that you included TWO black skirts in your 12 pieces for the experiment. Was one of them a straight ponte skirt?

Like you, I am not a petite person. I laughingly call myself an Amazon--but I'm a classic pear--well endowed on the top, but still a pear anyway.
Susan, I'm of the same cohort as the woman who wrote the NYT article and I'm looking forward to longer hair again. I had quite a bit cut off after deciding to go silver - it is still in a bob, but I want a shoulder-length bob, not a chin-length one. It looked too pathetic with the dyed hair fading from Parisienne "reddish-black" to a nasty orangey hue.

I don't mind the "going on 15" stuff. It doesn't meant doing odd things to try to look young, it is a type of person, L'éternel adolescent. Typical Geminis (I'm a Gemini). Have a friend who is almost 80 and he's like that. Tant mieux.

Hmm Red. I love red very much, but in real life it is more often bordeaux, except perhaps in the summer.
Duchesse said…
lagatta: I don't enjoy eternal adolescents. They tend to be too self absorbed. Charming, but trying. Perhaps this is because I've raised two children through that stage and applauded their development. I'm glad those more tolerant appreciate the "eternal adolescent". I far prefer people who live up to their years; that does not mean they are stuffy.

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