Tracey has an amazing story. An avid runner, she grew up all over the world, raised two boys, and became a practice manager for the US Public Health Service in both the public and private sectors. Tracey retired two years ago, but her interest in minimalism started long before- her balanced relationship with possessions is really refreshing, and I wonder if living in so many different countries made that possible. Now she lives between the US and the UK, spending time with family and traveling with her husband Jay. Tracey emailed (from Egypt, no less!) that while she once felt the need to doll up for posh hotels in London, now she's comfortable in a good jacket, trousers, clutch and vintage watch- and often the best dressed person in the place, I'd say, judging by these pictures! Tracey's wardrobe shows you can enjoy color, an active lifestyle, and a rewarding social life, even if you don't have a ton of clothes.
Well, what can I say? I used to have scads of them. But, I didn't like all the shoes, jewelry and handbags that went with them. So I ended up with these three. I prefer to wear dresses in the summer, but haven't quite found what I'm looking for. The black and white knit dress is a knock out with my tall black suede boots. The long dress is a maxi that is perfect for warm weather with my tan T-strap sandals or black wedges. The black wrap dress is my staple. This one is not great quality, but it will do the job. I am holding out for a DVF in an appropriate length. Maybe this winter? Most of her dresses are shorter and printed in her summer collection. I've had a really difficult time finding dresses in lady-like lengths. Hello out there! Designers, are you listening?
I seem to have the most items in this category. This is also the category I would most like to update/replace. I have two white T shirts from The White Company London, excellent quality and very well constructed. This is my go-to store for shirts, jeans, and sweaters. One shirt is 100% linen semi fitted and the other is cotton with 5% elastane loose fit. My white zip with the neon pink trim is cotton with a chiffon back from Karen Millen- also a favorite store for fit and quality. I wear this with a white cami and white trousers with my tan T-strap sandals and tan messenger bag during the summer.
The black button down top was a panic buy before Egypt, when I realized I needed another white cotton top. I had to settle for black. I'll be amazed if it makes it through the summer. The ivory blouse is silk from Ann Taylor Loft and heavily used. I love the silk and will be replacing the aforementioned black shirt with a black silk wrap blouse from Eileen Fisher. The black and white top is a very lightweight loose weave sheer sweater from White House Black Market. I wear it with a white or black cami and black capri trousers and my black strappy heels. The black wrap top is a perfect fit but not great quality. It will last the year, but then I will replace it. Finally, the red top. This top is also cotton 3/4 sleeve with elastane and fits me well. It is from White House Black Market. I am dubious about purchasing coloured T's, as I like them very saturated and to be colourfast. If it fades, out it goes! My husband selected this for me, so I like to wear it for him:)
I would like to end up with 2 white T's, 1 Black T, 1 white cotton button down, and 3 silk blouses in ivory, red, and black. I plan on shifting that direction when pieces need to be replaced.
I am SUCH a jacket girl! Any one of these paired with a great quality T shirt and a pair of jeans or trousers and I'm good. I also wear each of these with my LBD and black suede boots and I can go anywhere. I have a fitted black leather jacket thrifted for $24, a fitted jean jacket that matches my dark trouser jeans-White House Black Market, and a black tie waisted jacket from Classiques Entier Nordstrom. Ah colour! This red jacket is one of the few pieces I have that is not a neutral. I clearly don't have and aversion to colour, but I am very selective. Red is by far my favorite colour after white. I am also looking for a tailored white jacket.
Winter sweatersI have three heavier weight sweaters. The camel sweater is a shrug from Macy's It's pretty warm but I prefer a wrap rather than a shrug to keep my front covered and warm. I will be replacing this one next year with a cashmere wrap. The black tie sweater is from White House Black Market and I purchased it last year and it has been worn tons! I will eventually replace it with a heavier tie sweater. The black scoop neck sweater is also from White House Black Market and I've had it for 8 years! It still fits me perfectly but is showing signs of wear. I haven't found a replacement I love yet :(
Sweaters, Camis, and PantsI have 5 main sweaters, 3 camis, and 3 pairs of pants. Camis: white, ivory, and black. I've thrashed these, because I wear them almost everyday underneath most of my clothing. These are not great quality and I will be replacing them with silk tanks from Eileen Fisher and a nice white cotton one from The White Company London. Lightweight sweaters: 1 white and grey striped linen weave from the White Company London, 1 white 100% cotton from The White Company London, 1 white zip 3/4 sleeved White House Black Market, 1 black cashmere, and 1 black fitted cardigan from White House Black Market. The black cardigan has been utterly worn to death for 5 years and needs to be replaced. The cashmere I've had for 2 years and it has worn surprisingly well. It is a year round weight and a travel must.
Pants: 1 white jean-The White Company London, 1 dark wash trouser jean-White House Black Market, 1 black slim ankle trouser-Nine West. The white jeans are amazing. The trouser jeans fit like a glove and are very tailored and hemmed for heels. The black trousers are terrible. They were a panic purchase three days before leaving for Egypt when my beautiful Max Studio trousers bit the dust. I have had them tailored and repaired for 12 years and they just couldn't take any more! As I travel with one pair of trousers, they were my star piece and launched me into a bit of a crisis last minute. Try finding black trousers the end of March with Spring/Summer clothing in the stores! Needless to say, the pants have lost their color and shape after only 5 weeks and I will be returning them.
My outerwear consists of a wool winter coat from Principles-Ben de Lisi purchased 3 years ago at Debenham's in England. I have 3 scarves: 1 white and lightweight from Zara, 1 ivory midweight handknitted from a shop in Capetown supporting women in poverty, and 1 black heavyweight knit from Calvin Klein. My hat is Dubarry from Ireland faux fur (very Dr. Zhivago) and the leather gloves are trimmed in fur from Italy. I have a trenchcoat I have worn for 5 years in all seasons and it's terrible. Even layered it doesn't keep me warm. I don't know why I kept it for so long! I am saving for a Burberry tan trench with a warm lining. I am by no means a label snob, but I have no qualms about shelling out good money for quality pieces that will last a lifetime with care :)
Running GearI am an avid runner and have been since I was 14. I learned over the years what gear is essential, especially here in Colorado where we swing from negative temps to 100 Fahrenheit. I will run outside as low as 34 and draw the line at 80/85 in summer, while the altitude makes the sun absolutely burn exposed skin. 80 here feels like 90 at sea level. Here are my essentials:
- Asics running shoes- the only brand I will wear. Too many broken toes to go with anything else. Since I run in all black or a little white, I like a nice bright shoe, solid color if possible, for fun (and so drivers don't hit me...I've had a few close calls). I mainly trail run with a mix of suburbia so I go with a heavy duty shoe.
- Black socks- two pairs suffice because I wash every other day all my running gear, as I run 5-6 days a week. Mostly I can hand wash what I need and it will be dry by morning-even when travelling.
- Woolen hat, fleece ear band, and fleece gloves for wind or winter.
- Tunes- essential. This is a cheapy MP3 that I just grab and go, no fussy gadgets here! I usually get 3 years out of it, then I recycle and buy a new one for about $30. I make 3 playlists and download an e-book from the library and only listen to it when I run. The story keeps me motivated during less than pleasant weather.
- 2 short sleeved shirts, quick dry- 1 white, 1 black
- 1 pair black cotton bike shorts and 1 pair quick dry running shorts- I wear these two together because I like to be covered and the running shorts are always so short. The bike shorts keep the runners in place and from rising during long runs.
- Hoodies-1 lightweight for wind/rain, 1 heavy weight for snow/temps below 50.
- 1 black long sleeved shirt, quick dry- needed all year round.
- 1 pair long black joggers. These are tight like leggings and give added warmth in cooler weather. They double as black leggings with my tall boots and Wellies.
- Loungewear- Loungewear is a dirty word in our home. It makes us sloppy and lazy and we seem to just fall out of routine when we wear it. That being said, when I'm sick or on particulary blustery, snowy, wet days, I will occasionally wear my joggers and a hoodie to "lounge" in with a good book and a nice hot cup of coffee. I love being able to utilize what I already have.
- Wellies: These are Hunter's purchased at Aston Bourne in England. They are quite fitted through the leg and quilt embossed on the exterior. They are my rain and snow boots. They are my country boots when we are in Devon or Stow-on-the-Wold hiking through the fields. I've done 8 miles in these babies and nary a blister. Because they are so fitted, they look great with jeans tucked in or black leggings (aka my running joggers).
- Black suede boots. These are thigh high suede by Cole Haan. I've had these for 8 years and haven't had to resole them yet. They have an almond toe, slender heel, and Nike Air technology in the foot bed. Where have you been all my life? I scrunch them down to the top of my knee and they look amazing. They are fabulous with black leggings or jeans tucked in. I wear them full length for a sleek look with my dresses. If I want a little flare, I tuck them inside about 6 inches then roll the tops down three for a cuffed edge. I have had so many compliments on these boots, women have tried to buy them off my feet!
- White Pumas: I know white tennies are a cliche, especially being American, but hey, I love white in the summer! I am a Puma girl. I have foot issues (remember the broken toes?) so I have to have comfortable shoes for lots of walking. I can't wear Converse and I don't like Nikes. In the Autumn and Winter, I purchase these in black. I wear them without socks and they go with me when I travel. I will wear them with my black trousers, tee, and black jacket and I'm set for a day of being on my feet. I've even worn these to the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall, walking 8 blocks then perching on a park bench to discretely slip into my heels that my husband was carrying for me in his jacket!
- Black wedges: I purchased these from White House Black Market 5 years ago and they are still beautiful. They have cork sides and 3 silver discs up the front. Very sexy. I was even whistled at and told how sexy my shoes were one summer day! These are great with black capris and dresses. Pretty much everything!
- Black driving slippers: These are leather Coach shoes with a silver tab across the vamp. Very disappointing. They have not worn well in the 5 weeks I've had them. They are uncomfortable and make my feet numb. I will be selling these and purchasing a pair of Everlane loafers instead.
- Black ballerinas: These are black leather by Jessica Simpson. Not really a fan of her shoes, I was surprised by the fit and quality. It's easy to give these a polish when they need a spruce up.
- Black strappy heels: These are black suede heels by Dune. I will keep these forever. Dune makes a great shoe and this one is elegant and lady-like. It looks great with trousers, capris, or a dress.
- Black heels: These are black leather by Gucci. They have an almond toe, very slender heel, and understated platform. Well worth the money spent 8 years ago. I wear these year round for all occasions with everything.
- Tan brogues: These are my walking shoes when I need a bit of polish. Pumas don't always cut it. I prefer these over ballerinas. I love a bit of "sass" and these have it!
- Tan T-straps: Love. These. Shoes. These are my second pair of Sam Edelman T-straps. My first were cork and I repaired and resoled them so many times, my cobbler said he couldn't help them any longer. I sent them to Sam Edelman to see if they could be fixed again but they sent me a kind note and a check for replacement value so I could buy another pair! This pair is saddle tan because they discontinued cork 12 years ago!
- Nude wedges: These are Calvin Klein nude thick strap wedges. I didn't really need these but boy did I wear them last summer with all of my white! They look great with black and a tan handbag.
- Nude heels: These heels are by Aldo. It's hit or miss for me with this company. Not liking the quality lately, but these are a classic style, very comfortable, and have gold hardware on the back.
BagsUGGGGHHH! This category (next to shoes) is excessive and needs some work.
- Black Kate Spade bag: This is my staple. I will use it until it falls apart. I am not a slouchy bag girl, so I like that it is smaller, lighter, and structured.
- Brown Brahmin leather bag: This looks far better than it shows. It is a great neutral and year round bag. It is embossed leather. I won't replace it when it breathes it's last breath. This bag is beautiful and garners tons of compliments, but it's heavy and I'm tired of the shoulder and neck pain despite the very few items I carry in my bag... that's another post. I may pass this along in September.
- Jeweled clutch: This encrusted clutch is by Dune London. It was a total vanity purchase. Remember my comment about being decked out for cocktails at a posh London restaurant? Well, here's the proof! This item is the last remaining vestige of the glamour fantasy. I truly love this bag when we go black tie. Which seems to only be an occasional city "do" or the Opera. I'll keep it for now and revisit in December. When I do take this bag, I dress in all black and only my diamond stud earrings.
- Snake skin clutch: This was a great find at a vintage shop in The Lanes in Brighton, England. This area is my stompin' ground. The clutch is pure snakeskin inside and out and completely handstitched; there is a matching wallet inside. When I travel, this is my cosmetic bag and I use it if I need to for a night out. This will replace my Brahmin bag. It holds just the right amount-keys, wallet, phone, and lip.
- Messenger bag: Ah, my beloved, my workhorse, my Holy Grail. This messenger is 100% leather from Roots in Canada. I have had this bag for 8 years and it neither shows wear nor tear. It has a beautiful patina and has softened with age. This is the only bag I travel with and if I had to pick only one bag, this would be it. I would single-handedly change the fashion world by pairing this little baby with black tie. Maybe I should....
- Crocodile bag: My husband purchased this for me as a gift in South Africa last year. He asked me if I wanted black, but I knew it had to be oxblood. I would love to replace my tan and black heels with this colour as my neutral. I love oxblood with white, camel, navy, and black. He also purchased me a wallet from the underbelly of the croc, while the handbag is made from the back.
This is where I keep my jewelry in a small closet in the dressing room. The two ivory boxes are mother-of-pearl from Vietnam and house my bracelets and necklaces. The small black box is mother-of-pearl and ebony from Egypt and houses my earrings and rings. My watch (vintage Rolex, before they got chintzy) sits in front and my perfume is to the right. I have one signature scent- Coco Chanel Parfume (the original, not Mademoiselle) that I wear daily and have for over 20 years. I have never felt the urge to change because the scent works well with my body chemistry and I get so many compliments. I have men approach me and ask what perfume I'm wearing because they would like to purchase it for their wives or girlfriends! The two vials in front are essential oils from Egypt. I rarely wear any other perfume, but really liked the spicy fragrance of these two, so I thought I'd mix it up a bit from time to time just for fun.
Bracelets: 1 set sterling silver bangles from Saudi. These were a present from my parents. One gold bracelet with South African coin from the 1800's purchased on a trip to Capetown, one sterling silver bracelet with antique Roman coins, one Tiffany and Co. necklace, a gift from my husband years ago. I double it and wear as a bracelet with my watch and various charms from my travels around the world. I purchase one charm from each country we visit or in which I lived as a child.
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