Intro – how I went from track pants to Fashion

Welcome to my first blog post on Fashion and Style for the woman in her 20s! Here is my intro to my story…

In 2010 I graduated from University in a whirlwind of excitement and naivety, ready to take on the world. I was finally waving goodbye to my 2 minute noodles, the leaky roof of my car and multiple tried and failed attempts at cutting my own hair. Not in a million years could I have predicted that one of the most painful and annoying experiences of entering the workforce was building my professional wardrobe. But after living the past few years in track pants, jeans, t-shirts and a puffer jacket, it dawned on me that I only had 1 or 2 outfits appropriate for a 20 year old wanting to make her mark in the world. Cardigans just wouldn’t cut it anymore. 

 

So I did what any desperate girl would do; I dragged myself through the mall and quickly figured out I literally had no idea about how to build a functional, classy wardrobe that not only looked good but one I could actually afford. Gucci inspired Powerhouse suits were not an option and I just couldn’t justify spending the equivalent of my grocery budget on 1 branded tailored top. What to do?

 

Fast forward 7 years and I am confident that I have the whole thing sussed. Would I say I’m “fashion forward”? No. Would I say I can recreate 20 different outfits from a catwalk? No way. Would I say I drop my whole pay on outfits? Definitely not (heellloooo…I’m on a teacher’s salary….).  But I can tell you that I know how to stretch a dollar, how to build a wardrobe where anything goes with anything and still keep an identity. Once you know the basics, the rest is easy. 

 

But why is this even important? I don’t know about you, but entering the workforce as a young woman and wanting to be taken seriously not only by your clients but your colleagues too, means that you actually do have to present yourself as a professional. Maybe you’re a lawyer, an accountant or a teacher like me. It doesn’t actually matter. At the end of the day, I experienced parent-teacher interviews dressed in my jeans and cardigans, and then I experienced interviews with the same parents in my pants and blazer. Guess which one I was treated like a professional? No brainer. If you look and feel a certain way, you will be treated that way. It’s an unwritten law of life as old as the hills. Like it or lump it. 

 

So…this is what my blog is about. Tips, tricks and hints on how to master your wardrobe professionally and socially. Feel free to check out my Instagram on stylethekiwi to follow my fashion posts and of course steal any styles, outfits or ides you want! I love getting comments and I love seeing what you girls are creating in your day wear too.

x Style the Kiwi x

Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 9.45.51 pm.png

Featured post

3 affordable ways to boost an outfit

When I first started purchasing new wears for my work wardrobe, I quickly found that buying quality was all good and well, but I could foresee a long road ahead of me until I could have a fun wardrobe again. By the time I had bought my quality black pants, navy pants, black blazer, white blazer, black top, white top etc…my wardrobe was QUALITY but it wasn’t very exciting. I needed some colour injection, fast. But how to do THAT on a budget? Here are my 3 cheap ways to boost a plain outfit:

1) Winter scarves

Oh my goodness. Have you noticed how many scarf choices there are at the moment? I use scarves all the time to brighten up an outfit, especially in winter when it is so easy to turn to your blacks and greys. The best thing about scarves is that they are functional too, AND can be worn in multiple ways. They also make excellent gifts if you can match your friend’s colour to them. Any colour also works well with black or white, so you know that the look isn’t going to clash. My favourite has always been purple and black but go for the colour that suits YOU.

2) Lipstick

I NEVER wore lipstick until I started working. But the ridiculous power it gave me knowing my lips were full and bright was addictive. Especially with my bland colour palette. The classic combo of white fashion with red lips – BEAUTIFUL. Pinks when wearing navy, priceless (actually right now while I am typing this I am wearing a pink top AND pink lips!). I prefer pink or orange lips when I am wearing black as sometimes red lips with black can look quite trashy on me. But some women pull it off completely, so again, you need to know what suits you and what empowers you! Recently I have discovered the brand Arbonne and their lipstick is awesome. Arbonne is a vegan brand that is sold around the globe (US, Canada, UK, Australia, and even here in NZ). Their lipstick stays on for HOURS without a primer and has no nasties in it. Tick, tick tick. If you live in any of the aforementioned countries and want to purchase an Arbonne lipstick, just leave a comment and I can organise it through online shopping for ya 🙂

3) Statement Jewellery

Statement fashion jewellery is a must have in your wardrobe. The perfect piece can absolutely lift the dullest of outfits. I often throw on a chunky necklace last minute and wonder how I was going to leave the house without it! At first I was afraid to play around with this as I am quite small-framed so thought chunky necklaces would drown me. But like anything, if you wear it with confidence then the compliments come flooding in. Looking for statement jewellery also gave me the chance to wear colours I wouldn’t usually. For example in the below pic, the bright orange necklace is one of my favs for summer yet I wouldn’t ever wear a bright orange top. The shiny aspect of the necklace helps to tone down the orange colour, and accompanied with the gold chain and fittings matches my skin tone well. Statement jewellery is also very inexpensive! I often just wait for the sales and I can pick up 4 pieces for $10! Too easy!

And of course remember you can combine 2 or all of the above tips for an extra boost! Check out my photos for a reference and remember to follow me on Instagram for daily tips: stylethekiwi

x Style the Kiwi x

IMG_0326.JPGIMG_2140.JPGIMG_4339.JPGIMG_6330.JPGIMG_0607.JPG

Blazers are your Best Friend

The title should say it all. It is a FACT that I always have a blazer with me. I have one in the car which means at work if I have to jump into a meeting with a parent, there is a blazer on hand. When I receive a text to go and catch up with friends but I have no time to get changed, there is a blazer on hand. When a cold wind picks up during a weekend BBQ, there is a blazer on hand!

Why are blazers so good? For the work wardrobe they immediately zoosh up your outfit. If you want to look professional at work, throw out your cardigans and invest in some quality blazers. Putting on a structured blazer immediately gives you a boost of confidence. Suddenly your daggy flats don’t quite match your new sophisticated style; so you start looking at your whole outfit, not every piece in isolation. That’s what blazers do. They give you a sense of pride, which fuels the rest of your outfit too.

I also LOVE to wear blazers in the weekend. If you find the right style in a neutral colour, a blazer with jeans for weekend wear oozes style. You can look relaxed and feminine while still looking stylish. This is why blazers are your best friend.

Blazers can also be picked up relatively cheaply in stores. Of course my number one rule is always go quality, but when I first started building my workwear wardrobe, I purchased cheaper styled blazers or put others on lay-by. Just like with pants, I started in neutral tones before adding in patterns and colours. So if you are going blazer shopping for the first time, invest in a black blazer. It goes with anything and will always look smart. I then branched out to a white blazer which is handy for spring and summer wear. Tip, to avoid the foundation and bronzer mark on your white blazer, always keep makeup wipes with you. Makeup wipes don’t just get makeup off your face – use them on your clothes! It works!

My last tip with blazers is to make sure you get the right style and fit for you. The sleeves need to reach to your wrists. Blazers that are short in the length look weird. So be prepared to fall in love with a colour or fabric, yet walk away if it doesn’t fit right. Like any piece of clothing, no matter how in love with the print you are, if it doesn’t fit right you will barely wear it.

Currently in my wardrobe I have a black blazer, white blazer, deep purple and a gold/nude print. Those 4 blazers are enough for my work and weekend wardrobe but I always keep my eyes peeled for a good blazer bargain.

Blazers – your best friend!

x Style the Kiwi x

Perfect Pair of Pants

Kia ora! (Our Kiwi way of saying hello!)

Hopefully by now you have decluttered your wardrobe ready to start anew. If you aren’t sure how or why to do this – check out my second blog post ‘Secrets of my Wardobe’.

When I first started out teaching I was really lucky to be at a school that allowed jeans – of any colour….! This was bliss for my 20 year old self. Jeans at work and jeans in the weekend = very low expense. But over time there were a few downfalls to my denim look:

  1. I ALWAYS felt like I was at work, even in the weekend
  2. I got bored
  3. I looked too causal at work
  4. Parents didn’t take me seriously because I didn’t look professional
  5. The rest of my wardrobe was causal too

The above reasons were enough for me to make a change. I didn’t want to be seen as the ‘young, naive’ teacher. I wanted to be seen and treated like the professional I was. So after writing my list of what made a professional wardrobe, I set to work on the bottom half first. Here are the tips and tricks I have live by now:

Pants

Always remember to buy quality first. Experiment with your fun fashion sense later. I went to Forever New (www.forevernew.com.au) as their pants were the $70-$100 mark. I bought 1 pair of pants a pay until I had checked off my list. That was:

x1 pair black pants (quality)
x1 pair navy pants (quality)

A good pair of black and navy pants will go with EVERYTHING. They also wash easily and don’t show up the dirt. I alternated between the two pairs Monday-Thursday then on Friday I allowed myself to wear jeans. It took me two pays, or 1 month, to buy these 2 pair of pants (remember I was purchasing other items to build my wardrobe at the same time too – like blazers!). I bought them in 2013, have looked after them, and I still wear them 4 years later. Worth every cent. My top advice is not to go crazy on the pants. Keep it simple. Black and blue might seem dull now, but these are going to be your base for the rest of your expanding, exciting wardrobe.

What next with pants?

Eventually you will start building other sort of pants into your wardrobe. Like my awesome animal print pants or my out-there red, black and white striped pants (see below). But this all took time. And because I had invested in other fabulous quality base clothing, like black shirts, white shirts and blazers, I instantly had a whole new outfit with minimal spending.

 

Next post I promise I will talk about your Best Friend; the Blazer.

x Style the Kiwi x

Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 12.33.59 pm.pngScreen Shot 2017-04-30 at 12.34.06 pm.pngScreen Shot 2017-04-30 at 12.34.14 pm.pngScreen Shot 2017-04-30 at 12.34.21 pm.pngScreen Shot 2017-04-30 at 12.34.29 pm.png

Secrets of my Wardrobe

I wish someone had told me the secrets I’m about to tell you. Secrets so simple to building a wardrobe, I’m not sure if I really should even be calling them secrets.

But first things first – before you read my secrets, you need to make some room to implement them. And how do you do that? Declutter the crap out of your wardrobe. I can guarantee that by the time you have finished reading this sentence, you have already thought of at least 2 items that you know in your heart of hearts you should chuck. The stretched top, the jeans that don’t look quite right around your bum, the worn out coat or the trackies with broken zips. Chuck, chuck, chuck. Be ruthless. Do what I did – bring a friend around to help yourself be ruthless (remember I’m a teacher and teachers are HOARDERS). Have a wine while you do it. Give yourself a dollar for every item you get rid of. I don’t care how you do it, just do it. Doesn’t fit right? Chuck. Old and worn? Chuck. Only goes with that 1 pair of pants that don’t really fit me anymore? CHUCK. If you’re in NZ or Australia, summer is well and truly over. Chuck out anything you didn’t wear that season – there is a reason you didn’t wear it! And the same for my northern hemisphere friends with their winter items 🙂 Chuck, chuck chuck. When I chuck clothes my routine is – put online to sell once at a small reserve. I don’t bother with postage but that is your choice. If they sell – great! Usually I get around a $10 return per item (because I buy quality now). If they don’t sell then I give them away to friends or family. If they don’t want them then they go to charity. And here is what I do with the money from selling the clothes – that money gets reinvested into new quality clothes. So my wardrobe isn’t paying off itself, but it is a hell of a lot cheaper than when I first started!

Once the clutter has been sorted then you can start merging the old and the new. Are you ready for shopping smarter? Ready for my secrets? Here we go….

Secret 1) I don’t have a credit card. I go by the old school theory of no affordy no purchasey. Straight away that eliminates buyer’s regret. I haven’t had buyer’s regret for 7 years because I think through every purchase. I very rarely have to declutter my wardrobe either now, because I have thought through every purchase. No credit card = thoughtful purchasing. Implement now.

Secret 2) Buy cheap, buy twice. Quality clothes last longer than cheap clothes. And in the long run this actually saves you money. It might seem like a big buy at the time but more than often the difference is only $20-$40. It only SEEMS huge because your chain store is offering a white t-shirt for $40 and the other store is offering it for $65. That seems like a lot. But you know what? After 5 washes, your $40 white top is see through and it lasted about 2 months. Your $65 top is still going strong and lasts a year (unless you’re like me and have put a stain on it within 24 hours but that’s a different story).

Secret 3) Read the labels before buying. Education is key here. Spend a few hours over a month learning about what makes a garment quality and you will avoid shrinkages in future. A dress may look great and you can think of at least 10 different places to wear it, but if it is hand-wash you have to be prepared to actually hand-wash it. If it says to dry in the shade, dry it in the shade. Remember polyester is ok but can make you sweat. Cotton is fantastic as the garment will last longer. Viscose mixes can shrink so be careful with those. Sometimes it pays to go slightly bigger. Learn your fabrics.

Secret 4) Now I’m not saying that EVERY item has to be “quality”. For example, I am now at the stage that if I see a ‘fad’ I want to try out, I’ll buy cheaper. Off the shoulder is a great example of this. I bought my first off the shoulder top last week and it was 30% off. So for $35 I get to try out a fad and decide if I’ll go quality.

Secret 5) Stop buying full price. Seriously. If you earn a 6 figure salary then go for it. If not, and you are building up a new functional wardrobe for yourself then you need to learn some self control.  You know, the world’s economy isn’t that great and retail shops know this. Notice how there are a lot of sales around these days? Yeah, there’s a reason for that! I very rarely buy full price anymore. In fact around 90% of my wardrobe I have bought on sale. Here is how I do it:
I set up an email account purely for clothing stores. Any item I purchase from a shop, if it lasts and I love it, then I will sign up to that store’s website. This means in only one email account I get every launch, sale and competition sent my way. I no longer have to go hunting. It’s all there in one email account. It works! For example, winter is coming (GOT reference) and I need a new pair of boots. Do you know how many stores have emailed pre-season sales my way? I’m talking leather boots for 30-40% off ALREADY. Jump at that! Yes it is only autumn, but if I go into that shop and put those boots on lay-by NOW, then by winter I have my new season leather boots NOT at full price and in time for the right season. Those boots will last YEARS compared to the cheap boots I used to panic buy after one rainy day, only to chuck after 3 months. Find the shops you love. Set up an email account. Follow them on Instagram (another platform for their advertising), Follow them on Facebook (competitions!) and check in when you need something. Also, last thing….be smart about this one ladies. You KNOW that every holiday and season there will be some sort of sale. Easter? Sale. Boxing Day? Sale. Mid-season? Sale. Learn the pattern and use it to your advantage.

Secret 6) When you go to buy something, go through your wardrobe in your mind and make sure you have at least 3 other items that could go with it. So in reality the ONE top you are about to purchase should create at least 3 different looks/outfits. 1 or 2? Don’t buy.

Secret 7) Stop emotional buying. Do you want it or do you need it? I understand that somethings you just bloody want for no reason than throwing it on and going YUP I LOOK GREAT! But you know what happens with wants? Once you have them, after a few weeks, you want something else. And then something else. And then you have a wardrobe full of wants that don’t really go well together, don’t fit great and aren’t practical for work. Doh! Make a list of the things you need. I do this about twice a year. Be ruthless. When I first started recreating my wardrobe I focused only on my work clothes. My list looked something like this:
x2 work pants (I’m talking nice black pants and 1 other colour. I opted for navy)
x2 skirts (and I got smart about this one. I chose skirts I could wear WITHOUT tights for warmer months and WITH tights for winter)
x2 work shirts (I’ll talk about this in another blog)
x1 blazer (blazer’s are your best friend – another blog to come!)

That was it! That was my start up work wardrobe. I sold clothes, I invested that money back into spending, I hunted out bargains, I put things on lay-by and I was patient. Good things take time. Like really good cheese.

Phew…there are my 7 secrets. My next blog post I’m going to delve further into my work wardrobe. I think I’ve given you a bit of homework up there to last you the weekend, don’t you? 😉

x Style the Kiwi x
Off the shoulder top – fad to try $35 (was $50 but 30% off), can wear with skirt, black pants, navy pants and jeans
Skirt – can wear with or without tights $35 (was $50 but 30% off), mustard top as seen in picture, long-sleeved navy top, white t-shirt and black t-shirt
Tights – $10 last post-winter sale at local department store

Total outfit: $60.00
Functional – yes!
Comfortable – YES!
Breathable – yes!
Items can be worn with at least 3 other things in my wardrobe? yes, yes, yes. IMG_6090 (1).JPG

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑