Sunday 29 January 2017

Ethical Is My New Black

I posted on Instagram last week that I would be shifting the direction of this blog, along with that of my Instagram feed.  If you follow along here or on Instagram, you will know just how much black I wear!  Black feels 'right' to me. I have worn mostly black for years, I am committed to it, it's not a passing fad, I feel it's one element in communicating who I am as a person.  So I hope that when I use this catch phrase, that 'ethical is my new black', that I don't come across as flippant or simply trying to be cool or jumping on a band wagon that I will jump off tomorrow.   This doesn't just feel right, this is a right choice for me.

The journey to this point has actually been long, challenging and intentional, however it has been over the past 12 months that I have been unable to ignore a growing conviction in relation to the human rights of the garment workers making my clothing.  

Of course, there are many issues and concerns associated with the manufacturing our clothing and it's quite overwhelming to try to address them all at once, so one step at time and my first step has been to buy either Australian made or ethically made off shore.  

Like many people, I have been well aware of the issues for many years, but to be honest, felt it was all too complicated to consider.  My internal conversation was about how difficult it was  going to be to find out about the ethical stance of different labels, and could I even afford to by ethically made clothing.  

Last April, I saved the Ethical Fashion Guide to my iBooks and started to check the ratings given to various labels as I considered my purchases. I read up on how the ratings are decided and read through the the 2016 Australian Fashion Report. (I also read some books and watched the documentary "The True Cost" - but we talk about that in another post)  I also started doing some casual work for an Australian made label and discovered that Australian made can be affordable and, if that's the case with one label, then there is likely to be others out there too.

Through my blogging work, I started to come into contact with other labels producing stunning designs who were either designing and making their clothing here in Australia, or designing here and partnering closely with offshore businesses, building relationships to ensure that all workers are paid properly, provided with safe work environments and treated with dignity and respect.

In some cases, the pricing of of these garments is the same as other labels that don't produce their garments here and sadly receive a poor rating on the Ethical Fashion Guide.   Others are more expensive, however between knowing that my clothes are ethically produced and that the quality of these garments is far superior to much of what is being mass produced, I find myself moving to that place of being happier with less but better.  

Now I won't be throwing out everything in my wardrobe that isn't Australian/ethically made, but as those items wear out, or no longer get worn, they will be donated and replaced with items that are.   I won't promise that I will always buy ethical clothing, but I will always carefully consider my options.  For example I recently purchased a night dress, made offshore and I don't know the ethical stance of the label.  My sleep wear is in a sorry state, I had a trip to hospital and had a limited budget, so I made a call.  I have since discovered a couple of suitable sleep wear labels and will follow up further when I next need new sleep wear.

I am not big on numbers, or keeping a count of the contents of my wardrobe, but I did do a little review before writing this post, and was pleased to see that approx 50% of my wardrobe now meets my 'ethically produced' criteria.  

The other side of this is the desire to not encourage the growing cycle of continued purchasing and purging, often forgetting what we actually bought the previous week, and discarding items, without thought, for the latest and newest designs.  So as a style blogger, who loves clothes and sharing my finds with you, how do I do that?  Well you may be surprised that over the past 6 years my wardrobe has in fact been shrinking.  My wardrobe is very cohesive, neutral in tones and most of it works together which means there are almost endless opportunities to create new combinations.

I tend to stay away from super 'trendy' looks, preferring modern, timeless (to a point) pieces that work across seasons, can be layered and have longevity.  This means that you will actually see a lot of items repeated and remixed.  Of course I will have new items to share but you won't see me buying new clothing every week and it's unlikely that you would only see an item once on the blog or Instagram.  I will also start to intentionally highlight labels and brands producing ethical clothing that may be of interest to you.

Over the next weeks, I will also add a page here which will be updated regularly with ethical fashion labels / brands for your info.  If you know of any, feel free to pop their details in the comments section and I will follow up.

Finally, you have my word that I won't get all preachy on you!  And, there will be no label shaming. This is a very personal journey that also encompasses the concept of more simple living and a more minimalist approach to life.

I know this is a rather long post.  If you have made it all the way through... thank you!  I would love to hear your thoughts, experience, desires in relation to this topic.

xxx Deborah

Sunday 11 September 2016


It's that time of year when we start looking at our footwear for the coming season, and here in the Southern Hemisphere we are seeing beautiful Spring styles arriving in our stores and on line.

Strangely enough while I really enjoy wearing heels to elevate my petite stature, Spring and Summer tend to lead me to flats, or almost flats, that can serve to create wonderful proportions with midi or maxi length dresses, or cropped pants.

To earn a place in my wardrobe, shoes must be stylish, comfortable and they need to work with much of my wardrobe. I have only two pairs of shoes that don't meet that criteria but they are 'going out' shoes, or 'special occasion' shoes that generally get worn for only a few hours at a time.

This season Australian brand Homyped have created a beautiful range for Spring/Summer. The wide range of styles and colours means there is something for everyone.  The range includes ballet flats, sporty sneaker hybrids, sandals, thongs (flip flops), Mary Janes and pumps!  

Ashley (in black) has just landed in my own wardrobe.  She might just be the most comfortable sandal I own!  Ashley is simple, modern and I expect she will become a Spring/Summer workhorse for me.  This sandal will transition from work (smart casual work environment for me) to play, with ease, and will work with most of my neutral wardrobe.

As a working mum, I am on my feet most of the day running here, there and everywhere!  I don't have time for uncomfortable shoes and I won't sacrifice style for comfort.  I decided some years back that 'comfort' was not the dirty word I thought it was in my 20's lol !!
Size wise I found these to be quite generous.  I usually wear a size 6 but sized down to a 5 for a perfect fit 

Homyped are a long standing Aussie company that have been making quality footwear for 48 years ... and are based in my beautiful home town of Melbourne.  Their online store is easy to navigate and all the info you need is there, along with a great size chart you can print to assure you order your correct size.

So... I'm predicting Ashley and I are going to have a wonderful Spring/Summer together!   How about you?  If you are looking to update for the season it's definitely worth checking out the current range.

Let me know what you think.

xxx Deborah

I have written this post in collaboration with Homyped..   All opinions expressed are 100% my own. Items for review are selected by me and I only accept items that I would choose/purchase myself.

Monday 22 August 2016


In the time since my last post, my young master had a small accident, my mother in law had a 6 week hospital stay and my own mum had emergency surgery ... and that's only some of it so, sadly, blogging has not been at the top of my to do list.

Reviewing the last couple of months I realise how much I appreciate my wardrobe.

When life is happening all around you, you just need your wardrobe to work for you.

During this time I have been able to get dressed without too much thought, allowing my mind to focus on the things that required my attention and direct my time accordingly. I certainly missed the creative process that goes into putting new outfits together and playing in my closet trying different combinations, but having "go to" outfits and combinations that I know work, and items that mix so easily, simply took the pressure off at a very busy time.

I have been sharing recently about how over the past 5 years I have defined my personal style and have been carefully curating my wardrobe.  Minimizing the amount of clothing I have, and making very intentional purchases.   With that came another important decision, that of minimizing my colour palette. The foundation of my wardrobe for many years now has been black.  Over time I have added white, soft grey and ink blue.  Accent colours are cobalt blue, deep red and a cool soft pink. Pattern is muted, abstract and usually black/white/grey.  The end result is that the majority of my wardrobe items work extremely well together.

I believe one of the mistakes we can make is to not focus enough on building a wardrobe of items that work together to create multiple outfits.  Instead, we focus on individual outfits, where the items work well in that one outfit but don't play well with other items in your closet. This kind of wardrobe is great if that works for you, but for me that would be very limiting and frustrating. 

My wardrobe works well across the many roles I play in life...  professional, mum, volunteer, carer, etc.

These days we wear so many hats that having a wardrobe that transitions well from one thing to the other is essential.  Needless to say I don't have the budget for separate wardrobes for each of these roles.  So for me, the skinny ponte pants I wear to work with a blouse and blazer, do double duty for after school sport with a roll neck sweater and coat.  That sweater also goes to work over a long pleated skirt.  The long pleated skirt worn with a crisp cropped white square tee takes me out to dinner... you get the idea.  And when life gets on top of you and you don't have time to think about your outfits, it all still works.

So here is a small sampling of recent work outfits.  On the day I wore the pink jacket, I was exhausted.  It was a no brainer, column of black, and a pretty pink blazer to 'pep' me up and hopefully mask how tired I was feeling.  

If you are working through a wardrobe process at the moment, it will pay off.  I suspect our wardrobes are always a work in progress and are never 'finished' because we are never 'finished'.  Our wardrobes evolve with us, so change is always on the horizon but it is possible to make your wardrobe work for you and have it be one of the little pleasures in life.

A great wardrobe is one that makes your life easier.

xxx Deborah

Sunday 5 June 2016


Accessories can play an important role in an almost all black wardrobe. Rarely a day goes by when I don't feel like wearing black, however there are days when I feel the need to lighten the black, add contrast to the black or even soften the drama of the black.

This is where accessories come into play in my wardrobe.

Given the relative simplicity of my wardrobe I tend to favour  accessories that create what I call a 'subtle statement'.  Something strong but not over the top.

Like my clothing, when I find the right accessories, I will wear them over and over.

These beautiful (gifted) House of Poly necklaces have been on regular rotation since they arrived a couple of weeks back.  As you can see I haven't strayed from my colour palette with these, and they work with pretty much everything in my closet.  Both are adjustable in length and are hand made in Australia (Canberra).   Both are perfect for adding texture and interest to my all black outfits.  And the black pendant with silver statement hoop is a standout worn with white.

skirted leggings / cami / twist top - motto
boots / hushpuppies
marble monochrome necklace/ c/- house of poly
tunic / birdsnest
leggings / millers
otk boots / target
long black pendant / c/- house of poly

top / decjuba
harem pants / eileen fisher
boots / hush puppies
monochrome marble necklace / c/- house of poly
duster jacket / crossroads
shirt / COS
long black pendant / c/- house of poly

There is something quite special about hand crafted jewellery, and House of Poly designs are unique and modern, and are made with an attention to detail rarely found in mass produced items.  Each time I wear one of these pieces I think of Katrina, House of Poly designer, who lovingly created each piece.  Because of this, I have a connection with these two necklaces that I don't have with most of my other jewellery.  So...just a warning, you will be seeing a lot of them:)

What role do accessories play in your wardrobe? 

xxx Deborah

Items cited as "c/-" have been gifted to Stylish Murmurs, however all opinions expressed are 100% my own. Garments for review are selected by me and I only accept items that I would choose/purchase myself.

Sunday 29 May 2016


Two weeks ago, I wrote a little about my experience moving towards a more minimal wardrobe.  Due to the positive response here and on Instagram, I thought I might share the practical process I follow when 'detoxing' my closet.

When I relocated five years ago, I had enough clothing to fill two closets and three large plastic tubs.  For some that may not be a lot, and it may not be too much, but for me it was definitely too much clothing.  It was weighing me down.  And like so many women before me, I was wearing only a small percentage of what I owned. I bought items that were 'near enough' to what I wanted, and I would often 'settle' for a less than perfect item, which of course I would never wear.

Step One was the Big Closet Clean Out!  Now you need to know, it wasn't just one big clean out, I actually had to do this about three times, but each time I was taking steps toward achieving my goal of a smaller, more cohesive wardobe with items that are worn often.

I made sure I had a reasonably free day (and plenty of hot tea and chocolate... just saying) and emptied everything from my wardrobe onto my bed.  I then went through each item piece by piece and asked myself the following questions:
  • Do I find this flattering on me
    Do I like how I look in the item?  It doesn't have to be conventionally flattering, it just has to make YOU happy.
  • Does it fit me properly?
    I would often buy something a size bigger or smaller, because my size had sold out and I thought it would be fine.  It never was.
  • Would an alteration make me want to wear it?
     I have quite a few items tailored to get just the right fit for me. An adjustment in the length of a skirt can make all the difference.  I often have to have dresses tailored because a good fit in the bust area can often mean the hip/thigh area has too much fabric and needs to be taken in.
  • Is it dated?
  • Is it in good wearable condition?No balling, obvious wear and tear.
  • Does the colour and/or pattern suit me?
  • Is it comfortable?I made a decision some years back that I will never wear uncomfortable clothing or shoes
  • Does the item reflect my current style preferences?This one is really important to me.  I feel very uncomfortable in clothing that doesn't 'feel' or
    'look' like me, no matter how lovely it may be.

I then separate items into categories.

  • Donate
    - these get folded into a pile and then bagged up and taken to my local op shop.
  • Sell
    - these get hung on free standing rack in my spare room and are items that are
      in excellent condition, good brands and have some resale value.
  • Holding Zone
    - items that I am not sure I will wear but have hesitation in moving on.  These are hung
      in my spare room robe until I decide what to do with them.
  • Closet
    - items that I have assessed as being worthy of being in wardrobe.  They are hung
      back in the closet straight away.

My first major clean out saw a lot of clothing returned to my closet  that probably should have gone out.  My holding zone also ended up housing quite a lot of clothing.  As time has gone on I have become more brutal... let's say efficient...and I have much better clarity recognising when it's time to move things on and my holding zone generally only has one or two items.

How much clothing you decide you need/want is a very personal thing and only you know what will work best for you, but definitely considering things like your lifestyle is helpful.  I have very few formal events for example so having three specific dresses in my closet that can be accessorised and worn with other items to make them wedding appropriate, funeral appropriate, cocktails appropriate etc is all I need... but more of this in another post :)

My process is not rocket science, and I am sure it doesn't differ a whole lot to your own. What can be difficult is making a start.  

I would love to hear how you organise your wardrobe and what your process is for deciding it's time to let things go.  

xxx Deborah

Sunday 22 May 2016


Over the past few weeks, I have been enjoying styling and wearing a black pencil skirt with a detachable black draped panel.  I discovered  Zippy Skirts on Instagram and was fascinated by the concept of a skirt that could be worn creating different looks with zip on panels, and even be worn as a top.

Zippy Skirts is the creation of Australian designer, Chalisa Morrison and the Zippy Skirt was designed out her own need for a multifunctional skirt that could be styled and worn many different ways...i think she nailed it!

leatherette hi-lux jacket / motto
sleeveless top / temt
skirt / c/- zippy skirts
leggings / motto
sneaks / target

I have found the skirt to be extremely versatile.  Over the past weeks, I have worn it casually doing errands around town, styled it with the back elegance panel for a day of work meetings, and worn it as a top over skinny jeans for lunch out with girlfriends.  

chios washed jacket / metalicus
marni shirt & betty belt / motto
skirt & panel / c/- zippy skirts
pumps / wittner

The skirt is a substantial quality fabric, is wash and wear, doesn't crease, and can be folded into a suitcase without need for ironing when you take it out, making it a brilliant item to travel with.  

I chose the black elegance panel because it was most in line with my general style choices, but there are a number of elegance and printed panels to choose from, including a a very cool asymmetric black one.

The skirt also has a wide waistband which allows you to adjust the length of the skirt.  Worn on the waist the skirt sits above my knee, worn lower on my hips and the the skirt will sit on on my knee or little lower.

jacket / peter morrissey
top / c/- zippy skirts
skinny pant / katies
boots / aldi

It really is a clever skirt and has proven to be a fantastic addition to my wardrobe. Most women tend to have at least one black skirt in their closet and if you are looking for one, this is worth considering.  It dresses up, dresses down, and could be a very versatile addition for professional women who have a more corporate dress code.  Did I mention Zippy Skirts are made in Australia!  

Do check out Chalisa and Zippy Skirts and you can also visit them on Instagram.

xxx Deborah

I have written this post in collaboration with Zippy Skirts.  Items cited as "c/-" have been gifted to Stylish Murmurs, however all opinions expressed are 100% my own. Garments for review are selected by me and I only accept items that I would choose/purchase myself.

Sunday 15 May 2016


Yes, I am talking about minimizing my wardrobe!  Do I have a minimal wardrobe?  Not really.  I would describe my wardrobe as medium sized.  Oh and just in case you are trying to avoid the issue, you know I am not talking about my actual wardrobe,  but rather the amount of clothing it houses right:)
Photo  / Pinterest
Five years ago, I began a project to reduce the amount of clothing I owned. I relocated with my family and once settled into our new home, I managed to fill my half of the walk-in robe, the robe in the guest room AND 3 large plastic tubs. Like so many others before me, I became painfully aware that I was only wearing a small percentage of all of these clothes.

I kept some because they were lovely quality and I paid a lot for them.  Others because 'I might need them', and others because 'when I loose some weight they will fit again'.  There appeared to be some element of security in having all those clothes.

Five years on and I use a moderate sized walk-in robe.  Everything fits in the walk-in.  Even my coats.  My husband very kindly gave me the walk-in a couple of years back and he uses a stand alone wardrobe. 

Photo / Pinterest
The items that were in good condition and were expensive were sold via Ebay,and a garage sale, and I do regular a regular 'pop up boutique' in my home.  I was able to recoup some of my money and see my clothing go to a good homes.  

When I did loose weight (and I did) the clothing I was holding on to was either no longer interesting to me or didn't fit me properly.  Often when we loose weight our shape is not as it was before, so those items were also either sold or donated.

My purchasing has also changed.  I am more intentional and will spend more but will buy less.  A wardrobe that is full of much loved items that are worn often makes me happy.  I suspect the security I found in having a lot of clothes has now been replaced with a sense of fulfillment from having a cohesive collection of items that I am happy to wear over and over. 

In terms of the amount of clothing I have, I don't tend to count my items, I operate more on how I 'feel'.  When I start to accumulate too much, I feel overwhelmed.  Simple as that!  And that is when I will do a quick cull and move things on.  I keep a 'sales rack' and that also acts as a bit of holding zone in case I have been too hasty in my culling.  Occasionally one or two items will make their way back into my closet.

It all sounds simple I know, but it did take 5 years to get here and I am sure I will continue to refine and develop my wardrobe management.  I do feel I am heading to a more minimal situation. There was definitely  some stress, frustration, and disappointment as I worked through my abundance of clothing, but I am pleased to report that it has been replaced with ease, excitement and extreme satisfaction as I face my closet each morning and prepare for my day.

Photo / Pinterest

Sadly none of these closets are mine, but don't they look beautiful!  

How do you manage your wardrobe?  Are you a wardrobe minimalist or maximalist?  What type of wardrobe makes you happy?

xxx Deborah