Top Winnipeg fashion blogger Cee Fardoe of Coco & Vera stands outside the Winnipeg Art Gallery wearing an Aritzia kimono and RayBan Wayfarer sunglassesPortrait of top Canadian fashion blogger Cee Fardoe of Coco & Vera wearing Urban Outfitters hoop earrings and an & Other Stories slip dressOutfit details on top Winnipeg fashion blogger Cee Fardoe of Coco & Vera including an Aritzia silk kimono and Le Chateau platform sandalsTop Canadian fashion blogger Cee Fardoe of Coco & Vera sits on the steps of the Winnipeg Art Gallery wearing an & Other Stories dress and RayBan sunglassesTop Winnipeg fashion blogger Cee Fardoe of Coco & Vera wears a Wilfred silk kimono and carries a round rattan bag from EtsyAritzia kimono (similar)
& Other Stories dress (similar)
Le Chateau sandals (c/o) (similar)
Ellenn Jamesbag
Keltie Leanne Designs (c/o)
Urban Outfitters earrings (similar)

This will sound hard to believe, but it’s true: there was a time when I hated shopping in stores that sold primarily basics in shades of black, white and grey. I found the minimal aesthetic dull at best. When I was younger, I not only loved colour, I wore it fearlessly. At nineteen, I owned a pair of orange boots that remain one of the most memorable items in my wardrobe to this day. The thing is, when I sought bright, bold clothes, when I avoided stores that sold too many basics, I was also deeply dissatisfied with my wardrobe. I loved every individual piece I owned, but putting them together to make outfits felt like a hopeless exercise in futility. Nothing matched. Nothing made sense outside the context of the moment I bought it. I constantly found myself wondering why I didn’t have more black tanktops that I could just throw on without thinking.

In retrospect, I can see how desperately I wanted to change, but how little I knew where to start. The shift in my shopping and dressing mentality happened slowly. Spending a year in Paris with virtually no disposable income helped me to understand clothes as a necessity rather than a statement. It helped me to understand a lot of things, actually, but especially about my approach to building my wardrobe. Some people eat their feelings; I shopped with mine. I wore things that I thought were beautiful because that was how I wanted to feel – but in reality, beautiful things were a camouflage that I hid behind. These days, when it comes to buying clothes, I leave my feelings out of it. I choose simple, elegant clothes that allow me to stand out. No garment will change who I am – if I want to change, I have to find the courage to do that myself.

This outfit got me thinking about basics because, as my outfits go, it makes a pretty bold statement. Floral print. Multiple colours. And it works, and it fits my style, because in reality, it is made up mostly of basics. And I own all the basics I need to make it feel like me. The items I’m wearing in these photos vary in age; my sunglasses are more than six years old, for one thing. My kimono is the only piece I’ve added to my wardrobe in 2018. Everything else is from another season and has been reworn, time and time again. I still shop – I picked up a new necklace and a pair of espadrilles this week – but mostly for basics. Mostly for things I know I’ll still want to wear six years from now. Always for pieces that give me enough space to be myself.

“Minimalism is an appreciation of space.”

By that definition, no matter how much jewellery I pile on, I will always be a minimalist.

I don’t shop in brick and mortar stores much these days. And when I do, I still love shops that carry bold, eye-catching pieces that I would never wear. The visual impact is breathtaking. But in my closet, nothing makes me happier than seeing a row of neatly hung black and white blouse, dresses and skirts. When I find myself reaching for a new top for the fourth or fifth time, I’m always proud of myself for having chosen a piece of clothing I can really live in.

The thing about basics is that they are different things for different people. To me, essential basics are turtleneck sweaters, silk tank tops, midi-skirts and skinny jeans. Most lists of “essential” basics will include t-shirts, but I can happily live without them. Most lists will also mention blazers – I own only one, and wear it maybe twice a year. Which is fine, because there are no rules when it comes to basics. If red and pink are more your colours than black and white, that’s totally fine. In fact, that’s the beauty of it – all you have to do is figure out what works for you and build your wardrobe around those pieces accordingly.

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