Monday, September 26, 2011

The Art of Wardrobe Building

 (photo via

Personal style is a much neglected topic in this blog. That is why I have decided to devote more posts to it. You see, while I do tend to ramble on about stuff that I want, the fact of the matter is, I manage a very small wardrobe. Ok, fine, small is relative, but believe me when I say, all my clothes fit in 2 small cabinets.

I do not have a walk-in closet, and if I did, I would have trouble filling it. 

Simply put, my philosophy when it comes to shopping is very Parisian or shall I say Parisienne, ala "A Guide to Elegance".

"One of the most striking differences between a well-dressed American and a well-dressed Parisienne is in the size of their respective wardrobes. The American would probably be astonished by the very limited number of garments hanging from the Frenchwoman's closet, but she would also be bound to observe that each one is of excellent quality, expensive perhaps by American standards, and perfectly adapted to the life that the Frenchwoman leads...Americans are often shocked by the high prices in the Paris shops, and they wonder how a young career girl, who earns half the salary of her American counterpart can afford to carry an alligator handbag and to wear a suit from the Balmain boutique. The answer is that she buys very few garments; her goal is to possess a single perfect ensemble for each of the different occasions in her life, rather than a wide choice of clothes to suit her every passing mood."   

Growing up, I had a very limited shopping budget, which I found to be well, limiting. But on the bright side of things, it eventually trained me to think all purchases through. I only buy what I love. I buy things that last. Now that I can afford to splurge at times, I do not settle for second best. I would rather have one classic piece or wait until I can buy the item I really want, than spend on ten trendy or "pwede na" items I would end up giving away.

When I was in college, I was worried about repeating outfits and thought it necessary to buy a lot of cheap stuff. Looking back, while I did have a some great buys, I wish I just spent my allowance wisely on pieces I can use up to now. Such as my first "designer bag", a Burberry satchel I bought for £60 (which was a lot for a 19 year old me at the time) at the Burberry factory outlet in East London, and a pair of Patrick Cox loafers. In fairness, the bag is still alive up to now. The Patrick Cox loafers, I have given those away years ago. While the leather and construction was great, the style wasn't timeless enough. Lesson learned? If you're gonna spend on quality, then make sure it's going to be a classic that can withstand the test of time. Otherwise, its not a good buy.

Sure, the drawback to having a small wardrobe is I tend to repeat items a lot. I have a pretty uniform look. But everything is in a style that works for me and my lifestyle. I can dress up in five minutes, because everything in my closet is true to my style and they all work together. And because I value fit, proportion and quality materials, even if I keep on wearing the same items, they will never look tired.

In this age and time where people seem to be obsessed about acquiring, hunting for deals, substituting and other fleeting fancies, I think the focus should be on building the perfect wardrobe. On a collection that "tells the story of your life". On quality, not quantity.

Watch out for more posts on this subject. If there is one thing I would like for all of you dear readers to learn from this blog, it would be a mind towards thoughtful consumption.


Anonymous said...

Very well said Tin! I still remember when I asked for your advice re: LV weekender pulp I wanted to buy in 2008. I did not end up buying it and still saving for a classic bag. Thank you.


Zxcv said...

I second on focusing in quality, not quantity esp when it comes to wardrobe. I'd rather have 1 winter jacket worth every penny spent knowing the quality is tremendous! Thanks for the reminder- very inspiring!x Phey

Kristine Dee said...

I love that you put this in your blog. Nicely said. Quality versus quantity.

Carla said...

Mindful consumption... I love the sound of that! It's always a struggle to not buy more and have more, to not panic buy at sales and indulge in retail therapy. And yes, I'm one of those who is simply unable to repeat outfits. Too difficult! And yet I do agree that we really have to be more careful of our purchasing habits. It's practical and good for the environment. I always find myself in deep regret every time I spring clean my closets and come across a lot of "disposable" items which were results of sales and panic buying. This year, I stopped myself from going to the Forever21 and SNR sales, though it really killed me. That seems pretty shallow, but it felt like a "giant leap" for me! Looking forward to more posts on this topic =)

Unknown said...

Hi Tin! I am so glad that you're bringing "mindful consumption" into focus on your blog.

One of the things that have bothered me lately about some of the other blogs from Manila is the focus on what's new, what they have, and how to wear it. Brand, this. Brand, that.

I like that you put a lot of focus on the local brands like Anthology, etc.


Unknown said...

love the read.. i've always want to have classic pieces that i'll grow old with. i'll keep your words in mind, Thanks for the advice!

Isabelle Rodolfo said...

Wow, just what I needed to read Ms. Christine. And funny, how you were in college is how I am right now! Wiser consumption...I'll take your word for it.

ceaceacea said...

I am actually guilty of this coz I tend to buy clothes that don't last. boo! Thank you for the advice! This really changed my perspective now. :)

rye said...

super like! this spoke to me. really am a cheapskate when it comes to my wardrobe. but now that we're moving to a smaller place, my wardrobe will definitely become limited and carefully edited. i'll definitely keep this in mind!

manilamommy said...

hear! hear! this post rings so true and this has also become my philosophy nowadays. mindful consumption indeed. great post tin :)

Jackie Go said...

I was once a shopaholic, especially buying what's trendy at their marked down price but then I realized my closet has a limited space and buying clothes that aren't staple is just a waste of closet space. Oh as well as bags, I like buying everything I find cute and fashionable until my sister made me realize I needed designer bags so that it'll last until I can pass it on to my daughter and she's right. I now limit what I buy, I may not have a lot of things but I make sure the things I have would last forever, okay at least until I can pass it down to my children. Great post! :)

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