25 Jan 2019

Masterclass: Back To Basics

There is nothing wrong with the basics.

They are the lynchpin of life. Get the essential elements right and the rest will follow.

Especially when it comes to personal /signature style.

It’s a minefield of information out there and everyone seems to know everything about style. How to wear, what to wear, when to wear and who should wear is in nearly every email we receive, every magazine we open, not to mention us “know everything” influencers who have an opinion on much ;)

Me, I am guilty as charged. I have strong opinions on many questions and in particular style.

My opinion is nobody knows us better than we know ourselves. What we can benefit from are the questions and conversations to encourage the discovery and implementation of our unique style signatures. It is easier for some than it is for others. I’m blessed in knowing what I like and what works in my world. Put me in a shop or plug me in online and in 30 seconds I can “see” what should be mine. I know, lucky, right?

Helping others define their style and find shopping solutions has always been something I do.

My first foray into business was a fashion boutique and it was the relationships I built with clients and the way we streamlined their personal style I enjoyed the most. Nothing much has changed; fashion is my true love and making it easy for others is what I love to do here at VA.

That brings me to this new series of features, Master Class.

I want to explore all the facets of personal style, of finding and refining our signatures. Let’s break it down and discuss the complexities of being and looking our best selves.

There is nothing so clever as getting the basics right. Trying too hard can be the kiss of death. We have all fallen into this trap, I still do and when I over analyse I make the worst style faux pas.


Have you thought about your personal style from this point of view?


The way you see yourself, does it reflect the practicalities of your daily life? A successful style is a 50/50 split between looks and function.

Note to self: You have enough velvet blazers for this season; you work at home and wear a blouse or a sweater 90% of the time.

Are you dressing for you? This is a biggie because until we have the self-confidence to please us, a signature style is a way off.

Note to Self: Just because he doesn’t like it, doesn’t mean it’s not fabulous. We must have the courage of our convictions.

Do you know your body type? Are you comfortable in your own skin and accepting of what suits and what doesn’t? Are you realistic?

Not to self: Stop trying to wear nipped in dresses that are too voluminous. They haven’t worked for some time and aren’t going to.

Acceptance is everything and there are plenty of other cuts, which are far more flattering.

How long does it take to get dressed each day? Yes, back to basics, but much indecision means we lack clarity about our “look”.

Note to self: Think it through before flinging a multitude of options on the bed. The first thought is most often the right one.

This is our Master Class.  Any ideas you would like to discuss as we refine and define our signature styles, let me know, I am all in. xv

Note To Self: Trying To Resist

jen7 stretch cotton  ||  joan vass two-button  ||  gucci gg  ||  alsey pink double-breasted

how’s that going for me? not well ;)

images, patrick demarchelier

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I love this idea, Vicki!

I was reviewing my style just this week. I’m happy to say that I’ve always been aware of my body type, and yes, I’ve struggled with it all my young adult to mid-age life. Only now am I even coming to terms with the fact that my imperfections are ALRIGHT and that I have the power and creativity to work with them.

My style is extremely simple, but after viewing a documentary about Audrey Hepburn and her style, it was confirmed to me that simplicity of both exterior and interior style is being genuine to one’s self. Simplicity however, can look different on everyone, and that’s the beauty of it all. Sincerity and kindness, knowing when to stop when it comes to accessories of both demeanor and fashion is part of the art. I’m in for the Master Class!


Knowledge of ourselves is the key. You are very wise to know yourself so well, Anita. It’s not always a given or we don’t have the insights to understand. “Genuine” is a wonderful place to start… (Genuine… what a good word to add to our list for 2019.)
“Simplicity … can look different on everyone…” Yes..:)

lynne hall

I need to shed at least 20 pounds . . .. I have always dealt with a “pear” shaped figure even at 115 pounds. So what do you recommend? I am attending to this seriously and am about to begin a natural hormone regenerative therapy in addition to simply watching what I eat and how I exercise.


Great idea. The older I get, the more minimalist I get. I think we just get to know ourselves and what works. Jeans, tee, blazer, repeat. I love a uniform.


A personal “uniform”… or at least having pieces that work together like that is a great way to “know” what to wear :)

Taste of France

Your points are spot-on. It doesn’t matter whether we have a double-breasted blazer or a white silk blouse or a moto jacket; what matters is dressing for ourselves, coming to terms with our body shape and our lifestyles. Which items qualify as basics depends on that.
I am still in the process of sloughing off pieces that aren’t essential. I’ve been burned a few times, though. A brown leather bomber jacket that I was sure I’d never wear again, and now my daughter is shopping for one. Wish I had saved it! Things like that make it hard to part with certain basics.


I have given away some beauties in my time.. and I still lament my hastiness in ways but fashion evolves as do we and our personal signature. Mine has changed so little in many ways and so much in others… If I feel happy in myself and my choices.. then I am pretty much there :)
Those days where I wear something I feel I should or that someone else likes never sail as smoothly…

Nora Murray

I love really good fabrics and great tailoring with a slight tweaking of details for entertainment. The best thing I wear is a smile. Thanks, Vickie, for your crystal clear, positive outlook.


I’m increasingly drawn to ‘uniform’ pieces as well, injecting color with the odd cashmere sweater/shoe/bag. Does anyone else find it depressing how much of the clothing in even the ‘better’ stores is poorly made? $500 for a winter coat and it isn’t lined (and not because it’s reversible because it isn’t), and don’t even get me started on the quality of the wool fabric! Evening wear is even more depressing to shop for if a) you don’t want to look like a real Housewife of (Insert City Here), b) you don’t want to wear collarbone-to-floor Vegas Showgirl sequins, c) don’t want something cut so low as to display your navel piercing (kidding) or slit so high as to show the tops of your stockings d) you’re not going to your prom and/or e) you’re not the Mother of the Bride/Groom!
My shopping mantra is this: if Diana or Audrey wouldn’t wear it, then neither should I!


Yes, I do Joan.. and strangely enough I find sometimes the cheaper pieces just as well put together as the designer ones or conversely the designer is as poor as the cheaper brands. I believe some pieces we need to spend on and others we can apply “the more dash than cash” attitude…


I have a similar mantra when I am in doubt.. a wonderful friend with the most brilliant eye could make a decision within seconds.. Sadly she is no longer with us but I still ask myself for her opinion.. She settles me down pretty quick :)


I have always been pretty good at assembling a work wardrobe with a base of neutral basic pieces. I was also pretty skilled at organizing travel wardrobe both for business and pleasure. But I recently retired and have been thinking a lot about my look. I have been fairly ruthless in purging work clothes I know I will not wear again but I also struggle with the issue mentioned here about getting rid of some things and regretting it. When I was working my at home clothes usually consisted of leggings or sweats with a tee and cardigan since by the time I got home and worked out there were only a couple hours left before bedtime. But I don’t want to be in sweats and leggings all the time so I’m looking for new basics. I feel your velvet blazer comment – some things are just so beautiful they are hard to resist.


Keep reading, Connie :)
I am sure we have some ideas here for you in our future Master Class features :)
Your new wardrobe, it has to be easy that’s for sure.


I’m in for the MASTER CLASS! Will you do it online or is that just your title for this post? Anyway 70 bday in June and plus sized but I have style and I’m complimented frequently!!! Is that not lovely! I’m always delighted AND humbled by it.


We will talk about Master Class here.. it’s not a separate course…
Congratulations… that’s the best!

McKenna Powell

I really enjoyed this read. I just turned 50 and it’s taken me years to really define my personal style – and I still work on it every day. Being a fuller figured woman adds challenges to how I want to present myself but I’m learning to embrace who I am and my body and make the best of what I have. Even after gaining weight I’m still the jeans, white t-shirt and blue blazer kinda gal and it works for me.


I tend to wear classics but occasionally will step out of my comfort zone with something a little Rocker Chic. My preference for everyday is a dark wash or black jean. Whether it is a pair of skinny, straight leg or boot cut will decide my top. I love scarves and have many, too many! They dress up even a simple tee and add some much needed colour when dressed in black. Occasionally, I do buy something that is a mistake from the get go. I have a mourning period, then donate and forget. Having a stylish friend, who would give an honest opinion, would be the perfect shopping companion.
When it comes to footwear comfort is paramount. If your feet hurt, your face looks pained. I love shoes! High heels are out! I have one pair of heeled pumps for evening dress. The rest of my footwear, be it boots, booties, shoes or sandals, have a low heel and comfortable footbed.
I do follow the trends but only buy what I’m comfortable wearing. What might be stylish in a major city might look foolish in a small town. And, then there is the question, where will I wear this over-the-top piece? Yes, I might love it but need to be realistic.
I Like the Idea of a Master Class series. Living part time in France has taught you the art of dress from the best. Always perfectly turned out but never fussy or overdone.


Joanna.. I agree about the perfect shopping companion and then I thought.. why can’t we be each other’s “virtual” shopping companion. If we talk out the questions here then when we come to make decisions I think we will know the answers :)
You sound like a very good shopping companion already :)


Happy New Year Vicki
As a tall woman (184cm or 6ft) I have always found it very difficult to find clothes to fit, to short normally. I know what my style is (European – jeans, tees & blazers) but as I live in a country town in Central Queensland, Australia, the choice is very limited.
I find online shopping challenging, and find I return more than I keep as it doesn’t fit, due to my height.
As your post cater for women in cooler climates, do you know of any fashion houses, online shopping sites that would cater for warmer climates?


Hello Joanne,
All the sites cater across the board seasonally from my experience. I know Australian heat and it’s a tough one to dress for. Depending on your day to day activities I am thinking natural fibres – linens and cotton – are best and clothing that’s not too tight or voluminous.
Can you swap jeans for some easy linen pants – perhaps a slightly wider style as you have the height to carry them – and stay with the tees and/or a linen shirt? That could work and give you the “style” you like and feel comfortable with.
Let me have a think about what brands I know to have a longer leg or are better for taller women and I’ll let you know.


I adore your idea of a Master Class, Vicki! I retired several years ago and have not yet discoved my style for my next chapter. Enroll me, si vous plais…. and thank k you so much for sharing your wisdom and understanding.


Yesterday I wore to work black pants, a cashmere Tee, beautiful darker red Italian wool jacket that I scored at consignment and a black, gold, red classic scarf. I am a young 64 and my 54 yr old coworker laughed and said “you look like a 90s professional”. She was right! So I went in the restroom and tied my scarf differently to improve my look. I am true to self with classics, so how do we modernize that look? Later I went to a reception for work and the young women lawyers were trendy and cool. But that’s not me. Still wanting to be fashionable and cool at my age!!


I love this idea of a Master Class. I know my style is classic but am looking for ways to add youth and coolness and a trend to the mix. :)

Michelle à Détroit

The Master Class sounds like just the thing to tweak and enhance my passion for basics.

Michelle à Détroit

I normally avoid commenting twice, but again I stress the importance of having a master seamstress on your team. An off the rack garment can be utterly transformed when it’s tailored to fit perfectly. With the takeover of stretchy fabrics and casual clothing, many people don’t bother to do this anymore. It makes ALL the difference. Think of it as “couturing” (no, that’s not a word) your wardrobe. I have my blazers taken in in the torso and waist. Often, the sleeves need to be lengthened.


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