No, no, I'm not referring to the wardrobe that you wished you had if you had all the money in the world. The title of this post refers to a realisation I have just come to. That I may have built a wardrobe around the lifestyle I imagine myself leading, rather than the lifestyle that I actually have.

This morning I took delivery of my two new Lela Rose dresses (sourced at 70% off on the US Outnet site).  They're lovely. Perfect for going out to a nice place for dinner, or to drinks or a party somewhere special..... those things that I do fairly infrequently (once or twice a month maybe at the most). Unfortunately, I have realised that I have been building a wardrobe around a fantasy life whereby I am not covered in Vegemite fingerprints most days, tidying up, doing laundry and looking harrassed and doing the school run, but instead I spend my days and nights swanning about somewhere more glamorous than my sofa.

At any rate, I've decided to keep the dresses. Here's the first one on a try-on (so unaccessorised). It's basic black jacquard, but is all stretchy and has the most flattering sleeve length. The world needs more bracelet length sleeves. They make your arms and wrists look slim. I can remember reading many years ago about couture tricks to correct your figure proportions, and one was that you should have a sleeve of a jacket end just above the wrist bone, not below or half way down your hand. It looks more elegant apparently. This dress is reasonably heavy weight fabric, and will be a perfect anywhere (except the school run) dress for Winter.

The other dress needs some alterations in the rather deflated bust area. Yet again. Unfortunately this is a problem with all US designer dresses on me, so I'm just accepting it, and taking it to the tailor. It's a very pretty floral brocade, and is lined in silk. This picture is not the best shot of it - it's very 50's in its silhouette, perfect for a wedding, Racing (which I don't tend to go to), or somewhere nice for dinner. See, things I do all.the.time. Clearly, I am plugging a hole in my wardrobe with this one.

I do love Lela Rose dresses. You may remember I posted about this one a few weeks ago, which I've earmarked for my cousin's wedding -

And I also have this one, which I love and have worn a bit. It's my favourite as it has a magical slimming effect. I look at least 1-2 dress sizes smaller in it.

And I have one other, which I wore to my youngest child's Christening, a posh wedding in Melbourne, and my God-daughter's Christening with fishnets and black patent high heels. It's a Chanel style black and white tweed with heavy crystal beading around the neckline.

I love the dresses because they are so well made - proper detailing, lined in silk, often have extras like  bra strap keepers, and very well cut. They are flattering on, and I think because they're designed by a woman, they take into account hips and bottoms (and obviously big boobs, which I don't have). They are designed to be flattering for curves, rather than the androgynous stick that male designers tend to favour, and which can end up making their designs quite hit or miss.

I'm sure others also create fantasy wardrobes.... there are all those people who spend all day in tracksuits that never make it to an actual track. Or people who work full time and have maybe two outfits they rotate in the office, but a myriad of casual clothing for the other two days of the week that they're home. 

So. No more going out dress purchases as these now join the others in my wardrobe waiting for their chance to be worn. And I'm going to have to maybe take a more academic approach to the situation, and analyse what is missing and buy those items (like a white t-shirt. It's just so dull, that I've not managed to go and buy one, but I really do need one!). 

How do you approach your clothes purchasing?  Do you analyse coming trends, search out the items and buy them having worked out the gaps in your wardrobe, or do you just buy on impulse when you see something beautiful, then realise that you've never managed to buy the basics? Or do you just have a lot of basics, because you'll always need them? I'm very interested to hear.... 


  1. I have the same issue with shoes in particular. Love heels but given than the vast majority of my time is spent running around on gravel and climbing in and out of 4WDs they don't get out much.

    All the dresses are gorgeous. The black one will be a work horse methinks.

    1. I'm thinking the same about the black one. It has versatility stamped all over it.

      Your shoe choices must be incredibly limited - even nice ballet flats would get ruined in the dust/mud. xx

  2. Gorgeous dresses....I share your angst & imagine my life to be quite different to how it actually is yet have built up a stockpile of coloured/patterned jeans as compensation. My children would love me to bust out the sequins for the school run yet I would dread other mothers disparaging looks so just stick to.....the bathrobe! Heading to bright lights of Melbourne on eeekend & know I just won't be able to help myself checking out Collette Dinnigans latest offerings......Rx Ps am typing this at hairdresser on iphone & can't for the life of me correct 'eeekend'....I'm sure it won't be.....

    1. They've got a bit Collette Dinnigan store in the revamped DJ's now.....although the boutique on Chapel St is still better. How fun to play dressups! No children accompanying you then I'm guessing? I still can't believe you wore your bathrobe to school. I'd be too afraid of the car breaking down. My Winter wardrobe is particularly boring for everyday. Lots of dark knitwear and skinny jeans which Mr AV calls the "uniform". Probably need to spice it up a bit this year.xx

  3. Love the dresses! Guilty of purchasing for that fantasy life too - lots of casual stuff that I hardly get to wear because on the weekends I'm in my very elegant painting clothes ;)

    1. Ha N! I spent a few years like that too. The painting section of my wardrobe was quite extensive back then....! xx

  4. I have amassed a huge wardrobe of Resort wear.

    I spent maximum 2 weeks a year in a resort.

    I think we all do this.

    At my age I have got a wardrobe that works pretty well. I always have a list of what I want or need and I follow the outnet and gilt pretty closely.

    I've been buying a lot of cheap stuff lately which has made me happy.

    Love the frocks. x

    1. So that's the problem - we buy for what we wished we were doing more often. You want to be at a Resort, I want to be out drinking somewhere...

      You do have some method to the madness though if you have a List. I need to do this - the white t-shirt has been a problem this summer.

      You should try a Lela dress - they'd suit you well....and you'd fill out the top parts a lot better than I! xx

  5. Dear Heidi

    Specially like the pink one and the second black dress, but they're all good. Black always looks great but it's so much more fun to wear something really pretty like your pink floral. Colours can really affect your mood. With the right accessories and make-up, I'm think you'll feel so happy in that dress.

    Now have the opposite problem to yours. After retiring from a job where I often had to go to cocktail parties, formal dinners etc and had a wardrobe to match - I cleared them out or have outgrown them (sadly). Now I have to go to a function on Friday night where dress is described as "Cocktail" and I mostly have only smart casual. Might have to fall back on the old black, much as I normally try to avoid it. Fortunately still have some great accessories.

    Will think about getting an MP hairbrush for my grand-daughters and maybe the detangler too after reading your earlier post. They both have really long hair that gets in terrible tangles.

    On the subject of MP hairbrushes, a dear friend, a great fashionista, visited years ago when we had a new puppy. I warned her to be sure to always close the door to her room as our puppy was very untrustworthy and still at the chew up everything stage. You can guess what's coming. Sadly she forgot. One evening she expressed her mystification at what had happened to her MP hairbrush, her Chanel lipsticks, mascara etc. We discovered them all under one of the beds, chewed to pieces. She eventually forgave me, but never the dog! Best wishes, Pamela

    1. How funny about the dog! It's lucky he didn't get sick after eating all the mascara and lipstick. But what a sad end to her MP hairbrush. I'd definitely recommend the brushes for your grand daughters - it's so much easier to do her hair now (no screaming!). I remember Janelle posting on her blog that she would buy the ivory coloured child ones and have them monogrammed somewhere in London for God- children.... might be something to bring back as a gift from your upcoming garden tour?

      You won't go wrong with black for your cocktail function. It's always nice to wear some colour, but basic black is always a good fallback to have in the wardrobe, and with some fabulous accessories it will look perfect. xx

    2. Many tks Heidi. Dogs seem to be amazingly hardy. When he was a puppy he also chewed up son's Christmas cricket bat which he'd forgotten to bring inside, the seat from one of our lounge chairs, one of my best shoes and a doona. The bedroom looked as if it had snowed and he was so proud, looking all around and wagging his tail madly! Doubt he actually ingested much but for a year or so he was a great destroyer. He was always forgiven because he was so sweet and affectionate. We probably should have persevered with the obedience training but eventually we were able to train him ourselves, a bit. Though it was always our dog who took us for walks, never the other way round. Best wishes, Pamela

    3. Oh ours was the same - he used to effectively pull the pram along for me when he was on the lead! It was very handy (except when a motorbike would go past, which he liked to chase..... then he'd be pulling the pram into the street). xx

  6. You look amazing in that black dress <3


  7. Love this post Heidi. I have been thinking about this topic a lot recently (having raided the Oscar de la Renta section of the NAP sale this Jan). I think I'm guilty of wearing my more expensive clothes not that often - thus keeping the cost per wear very high - but living in things that I bought years ago in zara/target etc.
    There are parallels between this post and your recent one on saving the best crystal/china, etc for when the queen comes to tea!

    1. You raided the Oscar sale? I'm v. envious! I dream of one day having a beautiful Oscar dress. It's very hard to resist lovely well made things so heavily reduced.....normal clothes are just so dull to buy too. I had a friend in London that I met in my Interior Design course - she dressed in Marks and Spencer every day and looked very scruffy - all her money was spent on absolutely gorgeous ball gowns (she was very posh) that would get worn only once or twice per item. Hadn't thought about the connection between the Good Things post, but you're right. It always saddens me when you go to the theatre or somewhere expensive for dinner and everyone is in jeans. Where are you supposed to dress up these days?! xx

    2. Yes! I got a couple of lovely dresses ostensibly for work but I will use them for nice suppers/opera etc. My 2 year old daughter exclaimed, "ooh... pretty" as I pulled them out of the black NAP suit covers...
      On your point, I find it really hard to go out for supper now (or go into a church for that matter) with jeans on. Perhaps having children means that when you do go out it is more of a treat so you are willing to make more of an effort?!

    3. Lucky! Would love to see the Oscars.... maybe you should start a blog?! Agree with the jeans thing. I too hate to wear jeans out at night. It doesn't feel particularly special or like grown up time now. Mr AV conversely doesn't like wearing a suit to dinner/ theatre etc - he always says he feels like he's going to work (he'll wear trousers and a sports jacket, but no tie). I'm on a committee for a charity ball, and one of our first changes was to make it Black Tie, as we decided that if you were paying $150/ ticket, women wanted to dress up. Some of the beautiful gowns women wore last year proved we were correct. xx

  8. I do have a blog but it just a way to share photos and news with our family members spread over the States, Far East & Australia. I have thought about setting up a public one but fear my writing style would be very boring, having been ruined by excessive hours/years spent drafting contracts as a corporate lawyer!
    Love your blog though... I stumbled across it and really enjoy reading your posts.

    1. I'm sure your writing style would not be boring in the slightest - but I suppose you'd probably find writing a bit tedious after doing it all day for work it would hardly be a break? xx

  9. I try to do the capsule wardrobe and accesorize around it - so lots of shirt dresses in cotton that i put cardies over - dresses are harder bc it depends if i am going through a fat year or not so fat year - but wrap dresses just work and stretch and give a little and once again so easy to dress up or down.

    I notice you read Maitai too - so something like her but with different staple pieces.

    No impulsing buying here anymore - i have given away too much stuff i buy for temporary retail therapy and it is a waste of money - no trends here either.

    The only "trendy" thing I buy are scarves - last one I got was c'est la fete - but thats about as trendy as I get...

    Bit boring but now i use the money i would have wasted on jewelry instead. ;)

    1. You sound very sensible with your wardrobe CSW! I need to take a page from your book. I'm looking forward to getting my Hermes scarf out for autumn/ winter (only one, but I will have many, many more once my sisters and I have sorted through my mum's collection and divided it up - she loved a scarf and had maybe 100 of them, no exaggeration). Having written this post I still found myself on shopbop looking at a gorgeous green dress at 70% off, seriously tempted, but then thought I couldn't!! Not after I'd written this post! So I resisted, and very glad about that. xx


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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on
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