Interview with H – Part 2
Here is Part 2 of my interview with H from Pret a Porter P. She talks about Buying, Shopping, Trends & Fashion and Minimalism in this part. Look out for the ‘Story of the Cursed Chanel Jacket’! Happy Reading!!
From reading your blog, I am aware that you haven’t bought a new bag since 2015. That is simply awesome! Thank you for inspiring me! How do keep your resolve? Especially, in a time when there are so many new IT Bags, Styles and Silhouettes. What is your advice?
Actually, I bought a bag this year, since I needed a small, cheap crossbody bag for work. Other than that I’m not aware or interested in current IT bags. And I don’t believe in paying a lot of money to have the same bag as “everyone else” on the internet (that said, what is popular on the internet is not what’s popular in real life). My taste for luxury bags skew towards the 2000s since bags had more unique designs—which is a plus for me as they are no longer in production, long since forgotten, and have lower resale values.
When I was actively acquiring bags, I was looking for certain size/function, color, and hardware combinations or past era ‘wholly’ grails. And I tried to avoid buying bags that would compete against each other—meaning they had the same color and function. My handbag collection felt complete in 2015. If I had an unlimited life, I would still be buying/collecting handbags. But I’m just not compelled, even less so now from a lifestyle stand point, because I use my F21 bag 5 days a week. In fact, I’ve even let go of 2 bags this year.
What is the first stylish thing you remember buying with your own money? Or was there one purchase which marks the ‘beginning’ of your personal style journey?
A black and shades of grey cashmere skinny chevron stripe scarf from Express in 2004. I still have it, and it is the only cashmere thing that hasn’t turn into a piled piece of sh*t. Once upon a time, Express was like a less expensive Theory. The 2 things I’ve kept from Express over the years are my 13 year old black suit and that cashmere scarf.
How do you budget for your sartorial purchases? For instance, do you have a monthly / quarterly / annual budget? Or do you just keep track of your purchases and ensure you don’t go overboard. I would love to understand your process.
I have a running excel sheet that I track all of my expenses and allocations so I don’t go overboard. I keep an annual excel sheet of my fashion purchases just for my own madness. It’s interesting to look back and see how much I spend on clothing. However, my Bvlgari and Cartier rings I deliberately saved up month by month for. I always thought they were unattainable fantasy items until I looked back on my annual fashion purchases, and realized that I was already spending beyond what those things cost.
When you discover an item that becomes a favorite, do you buy multiples?
Yes I’ve done it before with underwear (a given), tees, shoes, and cardigans. But I don’t necessarily buy back ups. I’ll just have to find the next thing once what I have wears out. Sometimes it can take years to find a pair of flats that I approve of.
What is currently marinating on your wish list?
I have a mental wish list of Rick Owens things I would like. But I’m not actively pursuing them right this second. I don’t feel that if-I-don’t-have-it-I’m-going-to-die like I used to when I was younger. 10 years ago, I would call store after store to hunt things down, now if I get it, great, if I don’t, it’s not like I’m going to be naked. And it’s sad that the things I get most excited about are really simple stuff: black t-shirts—not tops, not blouses, just a plain black t-shirt, or most recently solid black underwear from the Gap.
Note to Readers: H wrote an insightful post about shopping, the indifference and saturation that sets in even the most stylish women’s life. This is one of my favorite posts of 2017.
I’m more excited about beauty products. I’m marinating on Sunday Riley Good Genes. But I need to work through what I have on my counter first. I wish The Ordinary was available in a store somewhere. I prefer to buy beauty products in person.
Biggest regrets? Do you still have them or were you able to sell them?
(Aka expensive mistakes). Anything that didn’t match my lifestyle, uncomfortable, or didn’t fit me and despite alteration after alteration still never fit right. I was able to sell them, despite some of them being pretty beat up. The most notable one is that damn Chanel jacket. I swear that thing was cursed. The zipper broke the 1st time I wore it—not only did it break I had to rip myself out of it—hence breaking the zipper—I hadn’t even left the house yet by the way. Someone once gushed over my beeaaautifffulll jacket while rubbing my back, when I got home I saw she left her Cheeto fingers behind. And every time I would wear it, the damn Xerox machine would break. Meaning I had to dissemble the machine spewing powdered black toner in a cream Chanel jacket—and I don’t show my arms in public so taking the jacket off was not an option. So all in all, I didn’t have the matching Chanel life for that jacket. Not only did I sell that jacket, I had to sell it twice. Never again.
Thoughts on everything else in the Fashion Periphery:
How do you feel about the Gucci collections recently? The brand has become one of the most instagrammed in recent times (from Gucci fur loafers to Applique bags). It has been all over street style blogs. How do you feel about it?
My exposure to Gucci is limited to walking past the store at least once a week. I think the things displayed front and center are silly. And I saw someone wearing the fur back loafers and I thought they looked like matted, ugly teddy bear fur—and I was like “THAT’s the shoe the internets are so obsessed about?” I wasn’t impressed.
That said, I have my ridiculously massive Gucci sunglasses that became essential to my existence. And I did like the resurgence of certain Tom Ford-isms and the Bamboo Daily line, which I think has gone onto the their outlets. Other than that, I don’t pay attention to them or FASHION!!!!! in that capacity anymore. Historically, Gucci has been a brand that goes in and out of popularity, so right now they are having their time in the Sun.
Note to readers: H wrote a little post in 2016 about Gucci getting trendy again. You can read it here.
How do you feel about the whole tongue-in-cheek, inside-humor, hipster meets high-brow take on fashion that Vetements has been doing? T-shirts with DHL stamped on them, over-sized raincoats amounting to hundreds of dollars.
I’m vaguely aware of these things. But again, I don’t pay attention to or consume FASHION!!!! media like that anymore. Rick Owens is the only designer that I’m somewhat current on, even then I don’t pay attention to his runway shows. So I don’t know… to each his own.
I am just starting to get my feet wet in minimalism, zero-waste. I would love to hear your thoughts and honest take on these things. Have you tried to incorporate any new rules consciously or unconsciously?
Any indifference towards things or wanting less for myself is more to do with my mood, outlook or my attention or priorities being somewhere else. I won’t pretend I’m this great big tree-hugging humanitarian for it. I can’t control other people’s mess that surrounds me. There are obvious things I do before it became “a thing” to do like recycling and declining plastic shopping bags for small purchases (usually means shoving as much as possible in my bag because I rarely have my reusable ones with me). But I’m never going to be pedantic about it. I’m a minimalist in other areas of my life, my closet is not one of them.
Thank you very much H for your honesty and pragmatism! Doing this interview reminded me that to have great style, it isn’t necessary to keep up with FASHION!! In fact, to have great style, one might have to turn a blind eye to fashion.