Frock it two

There were lovely dresses galore,

Now here’s a few more!

My micro- goal of wearing all my dresses at least once has worked well. I only have a couple that I haven’t worn. One because it is more for cool weather and another that needs hemming. Here’s the rest of my audit.

I can date this dress with precision. I bought it for Mr Sans’ 40th birthday party. He has just turned 58. Eighteen years later and I’m still wearing it. Have I told you I don’t like waist bands? Well, this is another reason not to have them. You can fit in dresses for a lot longer.

Cut on the bias, for many years this dress was one of my favourites. And you know me. Buy one, buy many. I had this same dress in purple. It was my ABSOLUTE favourite. I wore it until it wore out. Was so see-through, I had to use a slip. OK, I could have tossed it out but I loved it. And I found a purple slip so I got a few more years’ wear. But sadly, it has now passed away.

In the same style by the same designer, David Lawrence, I have this dark navy one. It is slightly older than eighteen years old.

I bought this next dress, mainly because it was so cheap and I bought it at the same time I bought an exxy Ribkoff dress. How does that compute, you ask? Well, it makes it seem reasonable – to get two dresses for the amount. Anyway, I seem to get more random compliments when wearing this dress, even from students. Strange, because I’m not convinced about this dress. A little too low cut for me. And the material, while ruched on the front, is kind of piling. (The dress is also navy. Looks darker in the picture. I do seem to have quite a few navy dresses.)

And another navy dress with little zips as decorative detail. (Why can’t they just put in real pockets? Who doesn’t love a dress with pockets?) This one is a little shorter than my normal length and made of thinner, more clingy material. I usually wear a stretchy slip under it. Still, so practical in that it is wash and wear.

This one is made of similar material. Love the pattern. I also wear a stretchy slip under it. Here’s a hint. Buy one of those Spanx-style slips in many sizes too big. I wear one in a size 18 – in dresses, I’m a 12. Wearing a bigger slip means the slip is firm but not tight.

That’s about it. No more work dresses. I have about the same, maybe more, casual and dressy dresses. My goal is wear out my dresses before we have the year off and then have a smaller wardrobe which I will renew each year.

What would you like to see next? Casual dresses? Work skirts and tops? Soon it will be winter and I could do a coat and cape challenge!

Frock it

I love dresses.

They’re so much easier to wear than skirts and tops. No worrying about what matches. Easier to get dressed. Often more comfortable – no waist band to cinch an expanding tummy or induce sweat in the heat and humidity of Sydney summers. Dresses drape more elegantly.

I’m a sucker for a dress.

Several years ago, I started writing posts on my dresses. I aimed to catalogue all my dresses. I only got around to posting two. Others sat in draft mode, waiting for photos that never came. Well, the posts are all outdated now. In the intervening five years, my wardrobe and my shape have changed.

My current fav designer is Jacob Ribkoff, a Canadian designer. His designs are wonderful for middle-aged women with curves. And curves, well I have a few.

First challenge of the year: wear a different work dress every day and document the dresses.

Dress one; my new favourite Ribkoff dress. A black number.

This is also a Ribkoff and was my favourite, until replaced by the one above. It’s dark navy blue.

Yes, it’s another Ribkoff. Others prefer the one below to the “rising sun” one. While I like it, the rising sun ranks higher for me. Maybe it’s the fabric, or the feel when it’s on, or the ease of washing the rising sun dress. Maybe it’s the memory of wearing the rising sun dress to a wonderful event: my son’s graduation from his double degree.

I got this Ribkoff at a heavily reduced price. Had to do a little repair but so worth it.

My last Ribkoff. OK, not my last, but the last one I wear as work gear. (Forgot to take a photo at work. Hence the different background. Please excuse the towels – that’s what happens when you have a pool and work 10 hour days,) I love the sleeves; they have a double layer trumpet. And I love the silver around the neck; no need to wear jewellery.

Before I stumbled upon the gorgeousness that is a Ribkoff dress, Phase eight dresses were my love. I discovered them when we travelled to London in 2015, only to find they were in my favourite department store in Australia. How could I have missed them? Made out of stretchy fabric and with a cowl neck, so flattering to people no longer in whippersnapper territory. Unfortunately, the design has shifted and the current style doesn’t suit me. But not to fear, I have Ribkoff.

Anyway, here’s a Phase eight, bought in 2015 and worn in 2019.

Did I tell you I don’t like waist bands? Here’s another without one. Phase eight again.

When one or two is never enough. Same design, same material, different pattern.

Just to vary the mix, a Phase eight dress that isn’t from the same stretchy fabric. This is thinner fabric and has a mock wrap look. The pattern is cute little white cherries on navy.

Nine beautiful dresses. Which one do you like the most?

But wait. There’s more. But they’ll be for another post.

(Unnecessary) Clothes I bought in January

Currently Mr Sans and I are on 80% of our income, saving for a full year off in 2021. We are also planning a trip to Germany in October this year.

I have wardrobes full of clothes.

I have these two paragraphs as preface to let you know that the word “unnecessary” in the title is unnecessary. All clothes I buy are unnecessary and not really in my budget.

So what and why did I buy?

When we stopped in Noumea, a window display of a clothes shop caught my eye. Clothes for Mr Sans. Really! Not for me.

Except when we went in the shirts we saw weren’t really suitable for him. But hey, look! T-shirts for me. With New Caledonia on them. Not garish tourist T-shirts. What better way to remember our trip?

The other T-shirt has a rose on it. Links to my current obsession – more on must later.

Well, add in two pairs of sandals. So tropical island-y. No matter that they’re made in China. We probably can’t get the same ones back home.

Then my hairdresser alerted me to the bargains on Peter Alexander”s summer pyjamas. I went online. They had THE cutest little shorts at $15 each, down from $49. So I got three. Luckily, they didn’t have the matching tops in my size and those that they did were not as heavily reduced. So I didn’t buy any. I know I don’t really need three, but one pair is suitable for lounging around st home. Not that I like lounging in shorts. I much prefer dresses as they’re cooler. And in winter, I need long pants. Oh but on they are so cute. I have a matching pink top for the ones with the Paris print. Sooo cute. And the upside of a two piece PJ is, unlike a nightie, they don’t twist up at night.

Then, when buying some necessary items (undies as my existing pairs were all wearing out at the same time), I picked up a pair of track pants. I’ve been looking for a pair that have no writing on them, are cotton, not synthetic, and are the right cut for me. And not overpriced. So I had to get them while there was a discount. Ready for winter. If it ever comes. Can’t even remember what I spent here – it was a lot as I bought my son, The Dreamer, socks and track pants too.

Well, then, when I went to Queensland, I had to visit my favourite dress shop. They stock Jacob Ribkoff. How could I refuse a heavily discounted dress and a lovely, likewise discounted, jacket. The jacket was $85 and the dress was, actually, I can’t remember, but it was half price.

But oh dear, I received an email from an online stockist of Jacob Ribkoff that had end of summer dresses reduced to $85 each. So I bought two.

Three Joseph Ribkoff dresses! The one on the left is sky blue. The colour hasn’t co me out in my dreadful photography.

When I went to Aldi, I had to run next door to Rebel to buy a pair of sneakers. (The Dreamer’s girlfriend tells me Sydney stores have been sold out of this style.) These are not actually unnecessary- “At last,” I hear you exhale. My walking sneakers have worn out – no grip, no springiness. I do like these ones. Strange how you don’t realise you have no cushioning until you buy a new pair. Walking in these feels like I am bouncing on a trampoline.

Also while in Queensland I called into the large outlet mall, Harbourside. I had been looking for walking shorts to replace my well-worn ones that are on their last legs. Again, I’d been looking for a while. Most are synthetic, too expensive or have writing on them. Canterbury had exactly what I was looking for. Identical to my current shorts. And st the right price, $25, so I got two pairs. I love the little logo – kiwis in the brand name.

And finally, I went to an op shop and picked up a white cotton-linen look 3/4 pants and white linen-look shorts. They fit perfectly. And we’re only $3 each. I don’t think they’ve ever been worn. The pants look so Gold Coast-y on me, especially with bling-y sandals.

God almighty! I officially ban myself from even looking at emails, catalogues or in stores.

I will go on a wardrobe diet until winter.

Wasteful, wasteful me!!! But I will look good!

Fashion plate

I feel I must immediately counter the impression given by my Struggle Street trackie dacks in an earlier post. After all, this blog is about my journey to gorgeousness, and those pants definitely don’t even have an economy class ticket for that journey. 

I am not one who follows fashion and buys what is “on trend”, so in that respect fashion plate may be inaccurate as a title. 

However, I do like beautiful clothes and buy quite regularly. I like to look well-put-together, classic, feminine. (Which may make it all the more difficult to comprehend my need to hang onto my worn trackie dacks?)

Ages ago I started posting a stocktake on my dresses. I lost interest as I was taking photos of the dresses when I wore them for real. Time passes and yadda, yadda, yadda. 

So here’s some recent images for you. 

Daytime weekend dressing up. A spring wrap dress with a flattering neck line.c(I have had this dress for about four years. Haven’t worn it much but liking it again so am thinking this will be this year’s spring, dress-up dress.)  A rich navy blue. What you can’t see is the leopard print on the shoes match my sunnies. And I have two bluish-green bangles that tone in with the handbag, which unfortunately I am holding backwards so you don’t see the detail. 


Casual wear. And a colourful print top which lightens up jeans. The top is a bit twisted as I am up close with a friend. The clasp thingie (repurposed from a dead handbag) sits on my hip. Those (as in Fiona and Sarah) who are aware of the colour in clothing divide will understand when I say I bought the pink top in Queensland. 


Middle aged hip. And my current favourite edgey look: black leather jacket with black tights and back ankle boots, glammed up with a sequinned top. 

For those who like detail the black leather jacket is Muubaa, sourced cheap from The Outnet when the Aussie dollar was good for online bargain hunters.  The jacket is the softest and lightest leather. I know I’ve said it before but it is worth repeating. 

The boots are Italian, bought at Liberties. (Jet-setter, that I am. OK, the only pair I could afford in the shoe department.) 

And the tights? 19 years old. How can I be so precise? Cause I bought them when on maternity leave with my youngest. Made in Australia with such thick material.  I wear them in winter as thermals when skiing. (They don’t make clothes like that anymore, the old lady moans.) Oh, you weren’t amazed at how long they’ve lasted, but expressing concern at my clothes hoarding tendancies. Well, we know I am trying to address that. 

But there you have it. Not all trackie dacks and uggies. 


Wear it out

Remember how I went on The Great Wardrobe Diet in 2013?

No? Well, I’m not replicating it but am adding another challenge to my current list. I have Use It Up for cosmetics and Out With Boxes for boxes. And since the beginning of June I have been attempting to Wear It Out for clothes and shoes.

Part of Wear It Out has been to stop clothes coming in and wear items until they are dead.

What consitutes dead? Holes, pilling, worn thin, raggedly looking, saggy/baggy, unreapairable heals, unrepairable scuff marks, tears, non-elastic elastic.

See, I have too many clothes.

How many is too many? The amount of clothes I have.

No number. I started an inventory of dresses and skirts but lost count with my tops.

But when clothes cease fitting in their allotted space, you have too many.

I do like new clothes. And buy some regulalrly. But have trouble releasing my old clothes. Mainly because I love what I have.

So my goal is to wear more of my old clothes that are on the just wearable stage and then release them. I will try to stop buying.

Since the beginning of June I have said goodbye to a soft woollen cardie. A lovely shade of pink. It had holes. I wore it a couple of times this winter under a suit jacket, averaging once every second week this term. But the holes were now too noticeable. If I took the suit jacket off, it wouldn’t be a good look. So in June it had its last outing as an item of clothing. I cut it up and turned it into polishing cloths. 

Same thing happened to an Alannah Hill skirt. Mr S was shocked when he saw me taking to it with the shears. It was a rich purple and a thick knitted material which would have had many years left. But the lace overlay on the bottom flip part of the skirt was manky and holey and hanging. Last year I gave the skirt an extended life by cutting the overlay off the front but the trim on the back was now just too sad. I also wore out a pair of woollen socks that I have had for years. They have been sent to the shoe polishing box.

I also farewelled a pair of shoes. From the outside they looked OK but inside the leather was flaking away and every time I wore them, my feet would turn a nasty shade of dirty back-brown which was hard to clear from my feet. The dye soaked in!

Since the beginning of June only four new items have entered my wardrobe. Two ski pants (don’t make me feel guilty, yes they were cheap and they were probdbly produced with externalities), a dress at a wonderfully reduced price and a pair of thermal pants. At least some are leaving. Here’s the new dress:

Have you worn out clothes? Or do you change with changes in fashion? When you’re board with an item? If so, do you donate them before they die?

Winter work frocks

I find there is a real problem with winter dresses in Australia.

They either have no sleeves! Yes, I know. Unbelievable! Why have dresses made from wool, made for winter with no friggin’ sleeves.

Case in point, this dress.


It is made of wool so too warm in summer, but no bloody sleeves. Was there a shortage of the material?

Or the winter dresses are really open at the neck. Yes, so my bloody chest freezes.


Look I don’t want to get all old lady fuddy-duddy, but can we have a nice cut. Long sleeves, cinched at the waist, collar, buttoned down so I can do it up or not as the situation allows, warm material. Not much to ask, is it.

Look at this coat worn as a dress!

I really like this. The photo doesn’t do it justice. (Well, it’s more my non-model stance. How am I meant to stand to show off a dress? I just can’t strike a pose.) The dress is quite striking, crisp and elegant.

It’s how I’d like more dresses to be. And the cut suits me. But this is only cotton,so not really warm. And it is a coat, so I use safety pins and Hollywood tape so it doesn’t open at the bottom or I’d be flashing bits that shouldn’t be flashed in public.

Really that’s all I have in the way of winter dresses. I resort to wearing coats over my non-winter dresses and boots or skirts and tops in winter.

Quite depressing. If I find what I see in my mind’s eye, I am buying it no matter the cost.

And for the observant of weather in my neck of the woods – yes, we’ve finally had some crisp mornings – 8 to 12° when I leave for work.

Like dresses? Pop over and see my work dresses or my casual summer dresses. I’ll share more dresses, including my party dresses and new purchases soon.

So what did I wear?

I felt I resolved my dilemma yesterday, and was happy with my choice of dress. And then…

And then, I walked out to see my pile of birthday gifts.


Oh yes, my husband is a master of wrapping. Under the blanket was a garment rail. In the pillow case was a collapsable basket. The Kitchenaid food processor wasn’t wrapped, but much anticipated. And finally, in the shopping bag was this:


Look, I won’t lie. Mr Sans didn’t pick the dress himself. Nor the Kitchenaid. (That leaves two unusual items. But this post is not to evaluate Mr Sans’ strange obsession with all things Aldi.) Funnily, I had forgotten about the dress even though it was bought only a couple of weekends ago.

So what’s a girl to do when presented with a new dress?

Yes, I got changed straight away. And felt gorgeous. Felt slim. Felt as flash as a rat with a gold tooth.

Oh, for honesty’s sake, that’s not me in the photo. No, I won’t lie. I looked better! But didn’t take a photo ’cause I was too busy.

And a dress has done its job when many, many people comment at work how beautiful, how striking, how lovely the dress (and me in the dress) look. “What a beautiful shade of green!” “New dress? It’s very flattering.” “Love the dress. Really suits you.”

PS: it didn’t get to 28°, but was still a plant-confusing warm low to mid 20s, and was still an apparent 17° in the middle of the night. Lucky I hadn’t actually packed away the mid-season blanket after putting on the winter one, after the earlier tease of cold nights.

The end of the end of term break

In every first week of term I am asked, innumerable times, “Did you have a nice break? What did you do? Did you go anywhere?” Just as I have been asked innumerable times prior to a term break, “Going anywhere?”

Why this obsession with going somewhere?

When you answer, “No,” it is as if you have to justify, rationalise yourself. “No, but I’m catching up with friends.” “No, but….”

“Oh, yes, you’ve done a staycation before.”

Even stranger when I say I am going to my mother’s. “Where does she live?”

“Oh, Queensland. That will be nice.”

Well, actually I am going to my mother’s to see my mother, not to Queensland. I won’t be sight-seeing, or going out.

You might think I have given this too much thought, but I have had over a hundred term breaks. That’s a lot of conversations about “What have you done? Did you go anywhere?”

So here’s what I have done for my emotional well-being this term break. And no, I didn’t “go” anywhere.

  • Had drinks to celebrate the end of term. A friend pulled this one out of her fridge.
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    I am sure the French don’t pronounce it as billy cart salmon. However you say it, it was divine.

  • Had a dinner for over 20 people with some long term friends and family to celebrate my sons’ birthdays. (What? No photos? Sadly, everyone was too busy enjoying themselves to whip out the phone or camera.)
  • Slothed, lazed about, day-dreamed, stared into the distance, snuggled under a blanket, sat in the sun, ruminated, fantasised, had slow breakfasts looking out at my camellias flowering.
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    And the plants and birds beyond my verandah.


  • Watched movies – both good and bad. (Sharknado, is so awful it’s funny, but if time is precious to you, give it a miss. Do see The Gand Budapest Hotel.)
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  • Read blogs, magazines, books.
  • Decluttered.
  • Had family over (14 including us) for a curry feast at Feater, I mean Easter.
  • Hosted an Easter Sunday lunch with a neighbouring family for which I whipped up homemade hummus, tabbouleh and sweet chilli chicken.
  • Flew to Queensland and caught up with family. Had lunch out and afternoon tea with female family members. Vegetarians and those avoiding fat and salt, look away.
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    Actually, that wasn’t too bad. The meat, and it was mainly fish, bugs and prawns, were hidden by the hands, wine glass and chips. And the bug on my plate is upside down, so hard to make out. But this shot of the last plate has little lambies all cut up.


  • Watched the sun set from the top of a mountain in the state that is beautiful one day, perfect the next. The sky was so blue and so wide during the day. The sunset so glorious.
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  • Walked every second day. Did some exercises and stretches.
  • Had a therapeutic massage.
  • Bought some clothes. Very different pieces, not chain store items. And the MOST BEAUTIFUL dress. See!
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    This dress has the most gorgeous detail on the neck line. It’s a gold chain wrapped in two ribbons. Beautiful!

    All the clothes were sourced in boutiques in Queensland. I know I won’t run into anyone with the same clothes. And Dar, that dress is actually made in Canada.

  • Had an acupuncturist treatment.
  • Went to the dentist, had a chipped tooth repaired and a routine check and clean.
  • Had my dot painting stretched.
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  • Ate heaps of hot-cross buns and Easter eggs. Bugger! The waist is expanding again!
  • Finally made the vegetarian lasagne I have been meaning to but put off because I find lasagnes too convoluted. And it was THE BEST.
  • Baked a cake.
  • Hung out with my kids and husband.
  • Had my car serviced and rego done so I don’t have to worry about it when it is due during the early part of term.
  • Yep, had a nice break, did lots of things, and didn’t “go” anywhere.

    My favourite casual summer dresses

    When it is hot, I prefer to wear a dress. No waist bands to restrict or to foster sweat. Loose, hanging dresses are so much cooler. I pity males who have to wear shorts and tops. They are just not as cool as dresses.

    And I love a pretty frock. I showed you my current work dresses.

    Here are my favourite summer dresses.

    An oldie but a goodie. This has lost its stretch which is just as well as so have I. It is Mr Sans’ favourite.


    A new favourite. A polo shirt dress. Comfy, flattering, nice colour. Bit long too be really cool but around the house I tuck it up (in my undies. Yeah, I’m all class.)


    This isn’t cool, so it isn’t actually a favourite, but it is on my summer rotation list. The fabric must be mostly plastic. Quite a sweaty thing. But it is OK for over swimmers when sitting on our back verandah or a visit to the stupidmarket.


    One for going out. It is my Edwardian look. It comes with a little pink slip. When I get home, I am know to remove the outer sheath and just sit in the slip. (Again, my all-class behaviour coming out.)


    This one was a hand-me-down from my cousin. Lovely raspberry colour. It has even surfaced as a work dress on hot days.


    And this is a new one. Bought after my Year of No Clothes Shopping, in the post-Christmas sales. The colour is not so clear in the photo. It is actually more orange. The hem is one of those longer at the back type hems, but not suddenly long at the back, more like a gradual bob.


    That brings the total of my dresses I’ve shown to 14. Half way through them. Well, nearly half way.

    Now lest you think I have had manic shopping trips, these dresses have accumulated over the last 15 years.

    Things are still leaving my wardrobe. Remember I am decluttering one item a day from my house. Here’s the latest item to leave: an old jacket. The cut is not only outdated but unflattering to me. Was a cheapie – $20 – bought over 7 years ago.


    My favourite work dresses

    I love a pretty frock.

    And I find dresses so handy for work – feminine, easy to wear, easy to dress in the morning as there is no need to pick pieces that go together, flattering on me.

    And here are my current favourites.

    Wrap dresses hide a multitude of sins. You can loosen them when you gain a few kilos; tighten them when you lose those kilos. I wear tight sleeveless tops underneath to cover the cleavage that wrap dresses reveal as I find them more flattering than camis. Also I hate how camis hang and how they look like underwear. I never show my underwear. Well, I try. Underwear is for under, don’t you know.

    And I love a pattern.

    Blue wrap dress:


    Black and white wrap dress:


    Another pattern wrap dress:


    Now another look:

    Stretchy patterned dress:


    A bright pattered dress, worn here with a jacket.


    Homage to the TV show, Dallas:

    20140131-070930.jpg All padded shoulders (although my iPad is hiding the shoulders so trust me on this), matchy-matchy and geometric design. Take the matchy-matchy jacket off, and it looks like this:

    20140131-071116.jpg Much better for our hot summer working days.

    Some dresses without much pattern. White dress:


    Blue dress:


    Seven dresses that are on my current high rotation list. I have others. (Have I told you that I have 38 dresses, which is down from 42 when I started my Great Wardrobe Diet and Declutter at the start of 2013?)

    Today’s decluttered item = a dress. I am still decluttering, on average, one thing a day. Giving a critical eye to all my dresses for the blog. Mr Sans bought this one for me. It was the first time he ever bought me clothing without me knowing or picking the item. And it was a big win. The material of this dress is now wearing in the way jersey does. And it shows the bulges in a way that is not flattering. So that mean I only have 37 dresses. (Makes up for the recently purchased dress! Lol)