Categories

3 Outfits with White, Straight-legged Pants

24 January 2020

Our mission this year with MSJ, is to have a more sustainable closet by the end of the year, than what we do now. One way to do that, is to find more ways to wear one item. Matilda shared in her recent post about her process in deciding whether she was going to bring in a pair of black trousers into her wardrobe. She wanted a few different ways to wear them, so that got me thinking.

I have a lovely pair of straight-legged, white trousers which I absolutely love. However, I’ve never really given much thought to how I wear them. This look is probably the most easy way for me. I will grab a tee shirt and a pair of slides and go… For this look today, I decided to add a bunch of funky bracelets as well as a beaded necklace. The necklace is made from reclaimed glass from the sea, and seashells, so a sustainable piece for sure. I didn’t add earrings because I felt the beads on my wrist and around my neck were enough. I love this casual look but as I said, this is usually how I would wear it anyway. So I challenged myself to try a few more looks.

In this look, I added white slides. A pair of sneakers would look equally cool, however, my foot is still quite swollen and I really like this look with these leather slides. The striped shirt is an oldie too. I decided to tie it at the waist and in order to give this outfit a slightly more elevated look, I made the choice to wear pearls. This shirt, I usually wear with jeans and I don’t ever tie it like this, so I enjoyed the fun aspect in this look, whilst still looking put together. I feel this outfit makes the pants look far more chic than what they are.

In this third look, I pulled my hair back into a messy bun. I changed out the shirt for this beautiful, detailed black top and I added my elegant opal ring and earrings with a plain, vintage silver chain. This could have been a far more elegant look if I was able to wear a pair of black slingbacks, but my foot wasn’t co-operating at all. So I added a simple pair of black slides but I still think it works for a date night. Luckily for me, I live in quite a ‘casual’ city. We live in a rather hot climate, so we’re dressed up if we wear long pants at all! Some people go out in shorts, believe it or not!

This little experiment has given me some great ideas for changing up the look of these pants. By adding different shoes and completely different tops, these simple trousers can work from day to night in a heartbeat. It always amazes me too, how a subtle change of jewellery, can alter an outfit. We sometimes underestimate the power of beads, or a watch or a bracelet. I’m now back in the navy tee shirt and am loving this look for the day.

Belinda xo

Black Pants – not off the list

Last time I shared my closet wishlist with you. One of the items on the list is a pair of black pants. I removed my only pair from my closet, because the fit wasn’t quite right. So, I had no black pants. Autumn is around the corner and it was my intention to get pants that I could wear all through winter. If you want to see Belinda and I discussing our lists, follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxs7V7Uct5M

In the meantime I went to Potchefstroom ( a little university town) to help my daughter move into a new flat. She has very little closet space, but she absolutely loves clothes and never wants to part with any – even if it doesn’t fit. I had no expectations of her purging her closet. She surprised me by not only initiating a purge, but being brutal. She let a lot of stuff go.

what is left of her summer wardrobe

I usually don’t fit in any of her clothes – she is a size smaller than me and also shorter. She got rid of a lot of cool clothing, but I didn’t think that I could get use out of any of it. To my delight she had a pair of black pants that were a bit too big for her. I tried them on and they fit! I love that they are high waisted and loose fitting. The rest of the clothes that she removed, she donated to our second hand clothing store, https://www.instagram.com/belle_whimsyclothing/.

her donation

There were things I had to consider, before taking them. They are made locally in South Africa, but they are from a fast fashion brand. Also the fabrics used to make the garment are polyester and spandex – not a natural fiber in sight. And lastly, I won’t be able to wear them in winter.

I can overlook the brand and the fabrics because I didn’t buy them and neither did my daughter. She was gifted a lot of clothes by someone who didn’t fit in them anymore. I am also saving them from a landfill.

I don’t have a pair of black pants in my closet. So, I decided that if I can get five different tops to wear with these black pants, they are still worth keeping.

I easily found five tops that I can pair with the pants. And I think I definitely have more that five – black pants go with almost everything. I have to keep a pair of black pants on my list though – for winter.

Matilda xo

Sustainable Friendship

17 January 2020

Out for an extended coffee at Sorcery Roastery in Queenswood, Pretoria.

I’m sure you’ve guessed from our content thus far this year, we are on a far more sustainable journey. This got me thinking about how far one can take this type of lifestyle. How far can it extend? Matilda lives a far more edited life than me. She has been scaling down for years now. This is her story to tell, so I won’t elaborate, but mine has only more recently begun. Matilda is responsible for a large part of that. It wasn’t anything she said. It’s just the simplicity with which she lives her life that has attracted me more and more to simplifying my own.

This has lead me to explore sustainability in many areas and got me thinking about the area of friendship. So before I can explain why this topic appealed to me, I need to share what I discovered about the word, “sustainable.” It means durable, something that is able to last, something that is feasible and continual. It refers to something that is supportable, unending and lastly, worthwhile!

Well now… These are all the attributes I think friendship should be. I realise that just as I have been on an editing process with my home, my possessions, my closet, the same has spilled over into other areas of my life. Over the past ten years or so, my friendship circle has become a fraction of what it was.

My 45th birthday. Although I still have contact with about five of these ladies, there’s only one woman in this picture, who is part of my close circle today.

Although I still value many of these women, it’s impossible to sustain a close friendship with each of them. What do I mean? To sustain means unending, continuous and unceasing. How do we do this with more than just a few people in our lives, especially when we have families, a husband and our own interests that take up our time and attention. It’s not that these women are unimportant to me, but our interests have changed, we are living in different locations. This makes it difficult for these friendships to all be feasible. There just isn’t enough time in the day. We see each other when we can and we build each other up with our thoughts, but time spent with them, is limited or in some instances, non-existent.

This used to bother me so much, but the older I get, the more I value time. And in order for friendships to be sustainable, we need to spend time on them. And this is where my beautiful, sustainable cluster comes in.

These three women support me and I them. We ‘see’ each other and it’s easy for me to make time for them because of shared interests and mutual love and respect.

This edited handful of friends get me. And I think I ‘get’ them too. But these few women are worth me taking time out my day. I have known all of these women for more than eleven years. In fact, Matilda is the newest, of these friends. I have known Delene about twenty years and Susan, about fifteen. There is a continuity in our friendships that has not been forced. Each of these relationships has supported me. They have each, in their own way made it possible to have a feasible relationship because they have given as much as I have. Two of them don’t live in the same city yet we manage to visit one another regularly and it’s not always just me that travels the distance. Although these women might not have the same level of friendship with each other because I am the common denominator, they allow space for each other in my life.

I feel so grateful to be at this point in my life and of course there are other women I value and admire that I do make time for. But my point is sustainability, and for that to be possible, each person need to give. At times, I have given more to one or more of these friendships. At other times, I have received more. That’s the nature of friendship. It’s this balance of give and take that can withstand distance, silence, frustration, sorrow, grief, longing and anger even. We can have our own opinions without fear of losing someone over it. We can live our sometimes controversial lives, without fear of judgment. We can disagree without fear of falling out. Now if that’s not sustainable, then I don’t know what is! For every argument we have resolved, for every shared joyous experience we could partake in, for every broken heart we’ve been able to hold space for, for every momentous event we could celebrate… For each of these and many, many more experiences, I am deeply beholden to each of you. I love you!

Belinda xo

My Closet Wishlist

14 January 2020

I’ve done a summer closet purge and I was brutal. I only kept what I really love and wear. My daughter, Karla will be the recipient of a few items and I donated the rest to our thrift store, Belle Whimsy Clothing. https://www.instagram.com/belle_whimsyclothing/

My next step was to make a list of clothes that I needed or wanted. At first I only thought about summer clothes, but then I realised that summer, although we have a long season, will be over in a couple of months and I let my mind wander to the colder months. Just a little bit.

my wishlist

The needs on my list are the black pants, the floral dress, the winter skirt and the knee high boots. I’ve removed black pants and a floral dress from my closet because they are the wrong fit/style. My knee high boots are damaged and I have only one thick winter skirt and it is more than 10 years old. I don’t know if it will last much longer. I think my winter clothes last and last because we have a very short winter season in South Africa and the clothes don’t get worn as often as our summer clothes.

The rest of the items on my list are wants. I really, really want combat boots for winter. My first choice would be to get them pre-loved, but good quality second hand shoes are difficult to find. I will get a lot of wear out of them and they will practically go with everything I own. And did I mention that I really, really want combat boots?

A waistcoat is also something that I would like to have. Now that I am discovering my style, I am certain that I would enjoy styling a waistcoat. I actually have one that used to belong to my husband and is just a tad too big for me. It’s very old and was part of a velvet suit. The pants and jacket have been lost, but the undercoat is still in perfect condition. I should just get it tailored.

velvet waistcoat

I’m sure you saw that I’ve already ticked a box on my list. Belinda and I don’t take a salary from our thrift store yet, but we do spoil ourselves every now and again. Belinda saw two shirts on sale and our business bought each of us a shirt. You should watch the unboxing of our shirts on YouTube, because Belinda got a surprise when we opened the package. It was quite funny. Here is the link to our YouTube channel: https://cutt.ly/msjyoutube

I am very happy with my 100% linen shirt. It feels great and fits beautifully. I can wear it in summer, but will also get much joy from it during autumn and winter as a layering piece. And it’s the perfect colour too. I will be able to wear it with most other colours.

100% linen shirt

Full disclosure. I did buy an item that is not on my list. I needed a swimming costume for my son’s tenth birthday party. We are going to a water park – his choice. I don swimwear three times a year, maybe. We were looking for jeans for my husband when he saw this swimsuit on sale, marked down more than 50%. It was providence. So now I have something to go down water slides in. Don’t hold your breath for photographs.

not looking forward to wearing this…

Shopping from a list can feel restricting, but can also be a resource to help me create a more sustainable lifestyle. I am so looking forward to creating a wardrobe that is a true reflection of my style, my personality, my convictions and my budget. Most of all I want show respect to the environment and the people making my clothes.

Matilda xo

Cotton vs Linen

10/01/2020

I actually have three long-sleeved, white cotton shirts in my closet currently. I love the feel of cotton, the breathable aspect of the fabric, especially as I live in a very warm climate, and I love the versatility of the long sleeves. You can button them and pull up the cuffs, or unbutton the cuffs and roll them up. In cooler weather, you can obviously wear the sleeves down.

Lately though, I have been doing a little bit of research regarding the sustainability of cotton. It is a natural fiber, and it does biodegrade after time (as sometimes, chemicals can be used in the process of creating the fiber). However, from planting to harvesting, enormous amounts of water is used. Even when growing cotton organically, without the use of fertilizers or pesticides, the amount of water is astronomical, and that sort of makes this fiber a less sustainable option than other natural fibers available.

Because of our focus in 2020 to be more focused on Slow Fashion, I want to be more aware of the clothes I bring into my closet. This is not only looking at how much I buy and trying as far as possible, to avoid fast fashion, but also taking into consideration the fibers used to create the garment, and the process taken from start to finish of a particular garment.

Hence my research on linen. I found out that linen is grown from the flax plant. It was the first fiber ever to be woven into fabric! And that was long before fast fashion, so it caught my attention. As it’s grown, it does not need to be irrigated. Yay! That’s a win already. The process taken to create the fiber is the fiber is combed from the stalk and then spun into yarn. This process is what makes the fiber quite a luxury feel. If left untreated, this fiber is also completely biodegradable. Check! It is a strong fiber, and is long-wearing. Another win! I want to keep clothes for longer. When organically grown, no pesticides are used. Yet another win! The workers aren’t harmed and any run-off doesn’t harm the environment.

For those of you who have been following MSJ for a while, will know I shop off a list. On that list, is a white, button-down linen shirt. When I find the right one, I will replace my cotton one. I won’t just be throwing my cotton one away. It will go into our store: Belle Whimsy, (https://www.instagram.com/belle_whimsyclothing/) as it is still in great condition. Someone else can love it and appreciate it, keeping it in the cycle for longer.

I will definitely keep you updated as to whether I find my shirt or not. Watch this space.

Belinda xo

The Urge to Purge

7 January 2020

I’ve already cleaned the fridge/freezer and the oven. Every beginning of a new year I get the itch to organise, clean and also get rid of things I don’t need or want anymore. I haven’t purged my closet recently, except to remove damaged clothes. They had to be really beyond repair. The most important reason for this is that I had so little clothes for a while that I just kept everything. (You can read more about that in my previous blog post https://cutt.ly/msjslfs.) Then the tide changed, but I didn’t. So now I have an urge to purge.

My summer wardrobe before the purge

My winter clothes are packed away, so this process will only involve my summer wardrobe. I excluded active wear and I only have three T-shirts, so I will be hanging on to them too. I also left out my jeans, because I rarely wear jeans in summer.

I took the first step and removed all the items I wear regularly. This is a pile of clothes that I love. The clothes that I know I will wear for a long time.

After I removed the clothes I wanted to keep

Next I made a pile of clothes that I wasn’t sure about. I asked myself what I didn’t like about each item and why I wanted to keep them. Do they have sentimental value, or do I feel guilty about not wanting to keep perfectly good clothing? If I was still unsure, I would try it on and decide then.

Everything else that was still left in my closet, I took off the hangers and folded them. I didn’t even look at them again until the keep pile was back in my closet.

The little pile on the left is for my daughter and the rest is going to our second hand store: https://www.instagram.com/belle_whimsyclothing/

Most of the give away pile is going to our second hand clothing store – https://www.instagram.com/belle_whimsyclothing/. My daughter, Karla, will get the few items she’s been nagging me about.

My closet after the purge

I now have 31 items of clothing in my closet. The next step will be to mindfully make a list of clothes I need and want. I really don’t want stuff in my closet that I don’t wear. I want to make better choices.

And of course I will always try to first find what I am looking for at thrift stores. If I have to buy new it will be from a slow fashion brand.

Matilda xo

Packing for a Weekend.

3 January 2020

Our little hideaway for four days, Douglas Drift, outside Underberg, Kwa-Zulu Natal.

We have taken some time for ourselves, my husband and I, before the start of work for him. This is much needed. Since my foot operation on the 14th November 2019, he has had to make two trips to our small holiday resort in Mozambique. Both trips were for maintenance and repairs which is the norm especially if you live so far from a place you own. It all needed to be in perfect working order prior to our guests arrival in December. To his credit, everything has gone smoothly this holiday season, despite the fact he wasn’t there for the rush. He came home on the 23rd December and honestly, although he’s been home, we haven’t had much time for each other.

Anyway, this post is about packing, not our marriage ups and downs. After packing all my clothing, which I’ll save for another post, I start packing my accessories. I categorise them and pack them each separately. Firstly, my jewellery gets packed in it’s own case. I feel this keeps them separate and easy to reach and store. Also, in this way, nothing gets lost.

A jewellery case I received in one of my ‘The Box’ gifts earlier in 2019.

Starting with my jewellery. I put out what I wanted to wear for the day, and the rest went into my special jewellery case.

Toiletries go in their own bag. I include here, my hair care products, which isn’t much. I just take shampoo and conditioner, and I have a small bottle that used to contain hair product that I now fill with a mixture of water and conditioner. Also a hair brush, which I only use at night on the night before I wash my hair (which is every 3-5th day). This will happen whilst we’re away.

My hair care products with my deodorant and perfume for the time away.
In the same bag, I pack my skin products I want to use for the trip. This is edited as I obviously can’t take everything with I would normally use at home.
The finished bag after adding my toothpaste and toothbrush.

This bag is usually a waterproof fabric. It must be easy to carry, and I leave it in the bathroom for the duration of my trip. If there’s space in the bathroom, I like to unpack my skincare on a shelf, and my hair products, go either in the shower or on the side of the bath. Toothpaste and toothbrush go by the bathroom sink. My perfume and deodorant, are also on the shelf in the bathroom. It’s just easier for me to unpack everything to use while I’m away and I know it all fits in the bag when we’re going home again.

Makeup brushes go in the bottom of the last accessories bag I always take along.

So whenever I go away, I take three bags of accessories with me. The third bag contains all my makeup. I like that all of this is together and I usually put everything back in the bag after using it, wherever I do my makeup, where we’re staying. My idea behind this is that not all bathrooms have the best light. If we’re in a hotel, this bag usually stays in the bathroom because guaranteed, there’ll be a great mirror and reasonable lighting there. But if we’re in a rented cottage, B and B or guesthouse, often I need to use the mirror in the bedroom or sometimes in the sitting area. Wherever I choose to do my makeup, I like to just pick up the bag and carry it to the best spot and then have everything in one place. I then leave it there for the duration of our stay. Hey, if it works, why mess with that, and if I have a specific bag for all my makeup, I’m not moving between rooms to be organised. It’s all about keeping it simple and easy.

All of this edited make-up for the time away, must fit on top of the brushes.
So this is what I’ll grab when it’s time to do my makeup and this will stay next to the mirror with the best lighting.

Finally, the last thing I grab, are two pair of sunglasses. I always take a black pair and a brown pair. A girl’s got to match!!! It’s important for the completed look. I only do this if I’m traveling with my husband because I always have two pairs of sunglasses already in my own car.

One black and one brown pair always go with me on each trip.

The one pair go on my face, and the other pair, will be safely tucked away, in a case, in my handbag. I just change them out as the outfit requires. If I take a case with, the pair of sunglasses that remain in my bag, will always be free of scratches. It’s a win-win.

So there you have it. That’s how I make sure my accessories are stored, taken care of and easy to access for any holiday or breakaway we go on. There’s no point putting everything into one bag. It needs to make sense and it needs to be easy. When you simplify your life,even if you’re away from home, you’re happier. I hope this post helps you to make the editing process of accessories easier and more user-friendly whilst you’re away too.

Oh, and I tuck all of these separate accessory bags into my suitcase, usually to one side of the clothing. That makes the packing of the suitcase easier too. I usually pack the accessories first and then arrange my clothing around them. That helps to keep them snug and in place.

Have fun planning your accessories for your next trip.

Belinda xo