Living Simply

Clothes vs Fashion

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My clothing needs are simple. Comfort and practical. However, I have a job that requires me to dress corporate and fashionable on some days and in fleece and walking boots the next. So how do I buy clothes for corporate wear without comprising my personality of being a relaxed, easy-going kind of person. I want to present myself professionally but also authentically.

I’ve put together below a bit about my wardrobe and how I pull this off with as little fuss as possible.

  • I don’t own any high heels. Due to arthritis and a spurs on my feet, I can’t wear a shoe or boot with a heel more than  2.5 cm (1″). This means when shopping for footwear I’m far more efficient in finding what I need because I’m ignoring all those heels, wedges, chunky boots etc.
  • I’m not into handbags. I have a lovely MK bag that I bought overseas and it’s my favourite. I’m quite particular about bags. They need a wide base so when put on the floor it stays in its shape. I prefer a bag with a long handle like a tote but my MK bag has good long straps for over the shoulder. The colour is plum which seems to match everything in my wardrobe no matter what I’m wearing. I also have a small Nicola Cerini bag that my daughter picked up in an Op Shop for $5 which is a bargain considering they retail for around $50. It’s an over the shoulder tote bag.
  • I own the most minimal amount of makeup. I don’t wear mascara or eye shadow, eye liner, lip liner and so on. I put on Arbonne skin care and on some days will wear the tinted moisturiser if I need to cover any blemishes for the day. The only regular ‘makeup’ I wear is lipstick and for some time I’ve used Revlon Colorstay Liquid Lipstick but have recently tried the Arbonne range both in a stick and tube. So far, so good.
  • I know what styles and colours suit me. This saves time and money. Can’t remember I bought something that I later regretted. For example, I own two dresses. Just two. I know my shape needs a shirt or pants with a top. Dresses tend to look like a sack on me. The majority of my items in my wardrobe are what I would call my basics. Black tees – tank, short and long sleeve. I have several pairs of pants in a variety of styles such as capris,  3/4’s, and 7/8’s. Sheer tops that give a layered look. Knits. I love knits but they have to be lightweight as chunky knits just make be look larger. I own a few jackets in different styles, colours & patterns which are comfortable, wash and wear and drape nicely. I’m definitely not into leggings even though I’m told I have good legs – just doesn’t work for me. Most of these are in black or white and I add colour with scarves, jewellery, a wrap or  jacket.

My style as a young working woman were Perri Cutten suits, heals and makeup and out of work, Levi’s, t-shirt and runners. As an outdoor guide in my late 20’s and 30’s it was thermals, fleece, shorts, easy dry pants and walking boots. After children (having never tucked a shirt into my pants since I’ve had kids) and working part-time teaching creative classes, my clothes needed to get grubby and stained with mosaic tile adhesive, hebel dust and paint on them.

I’ve picked up some fabulous pieces from Op Shops, garage sales and trash n’ treasure as well. As well, I created a Buy, Swap, Sell Facebook page in my community which currently has over 3,500 members and I’ve found some great bargains there as well.

Now back to w I’ve completely simplified my wardrobe by choosing one place to buy my work clothes – The Ark. Every few weeks they send an email of new items in their range and I make a ‘hit list’ of what will go with other items I own.

There range is simple, classic, interchangeable, feels lovely and I don’t have to think about what top to wear with which pants as everything co-ordinates beautifully.

Here are some of the tops I have, each made of the highest quality material. The top in the middle is part of The Ark Basics Range. Everything is designed for layering and flattering on someone like me who is 175cms tall (5”10″) and over 50. However, I’ve seen these designs on all shapes and sizes and they are always flattering. The top below on the left I picked up at a garage sale for $20 – the woman saying she was moving overseas and culling her wardrobe. Lucky me!

The pants are a good fit but I can be in either a medium or a large, depending on the style and cut. The jeans on the left are stretchy and extremely comfortable. Alina slim pants in the middle are very light, ideal for late spring, summer and early autumn. The Luxe pants  on the right are oh so comfortable and ideal for travelling. The long capri pants (not pictured) I wear nearly everyday during the cooler months.

Some of my work does have me back in the outdoors where once again I look like an advertisement for an adventurer with walking boots, tech. pants and fleece jacket. But in my down time, I’m in everyday track pants, t-shirt and fleece top with runners.

I wear alot of scarves but recently culled them from 40 to 20 as it was getting a little out of hand. Fortunately my daughter found a few she liked in the pile I created on the floor of my bedroom as I tried each one on and tossed the ones I didn’t love.

Accessories are simple – long necklaces and bracelets all in a variety of colours to mix and match. I don’t wear many rings as I have ‘workers’ hands – worn, aged and arthritic.

And of course, I wear glasses and have several pairs in a variety of colours to match my wardrobe. The great staff at South Melbourne Optical have been my saviour in sourcing me fun, funky and colourful glasses.

So fashion is for work.

Clothes are for down time.

And for me – never the twain shall meet.


  • OMG I went to an Ark store after reading this and spent just over $400 on the most amazing clothes. I’m set for summer! Wore one of their basics range that fits in with all my other stuff and then gave it a wash and it washed easily, dried quickly and ready to wear the next day. I’ a converted The Ark fan. Thanks Urban Drifter.


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