George Brescia’s tough love

Surely George Brescia was overstating when he settled for the title Change Your Clothes, Change Your Life. But, “because you can’t go naked” got me over the line. Remember that when people tell you they don’t care about fashion! “Sure mate, but you have to put something over your rude bits, so you might as well look great!”. This is not a fashion/style blog but seriously, I have to stop wasting my time sewing stuff I don’t wear.


George’s book has one overarching concept; simply put…

“Every single item in your closet should be a perfect 10, and nothing less”

Good grief George, surely a perfect score isn’t necessary for my stay at home life. I do not need to wear a ‘Bo Derek’  in order to pull weeds mate – lets get real. Then, the landlord’s sister turned up to assess the dead tree removal issue, she was accompanied by her gardener Rob and her 3 year old son. Never had a striped T shirt dress, belt and silver espadrilles looked so chic, a very yummy Mummy and no, she did not have a size 8 figure, I’d describe her as petite and curvy.

My gaze turned to Rob the gardener, who was an older gent in his late 60s, early 70s. Rob was wearing a neatly pressed blue shirt and a violet V neck sweater which offset his gorgeous blue eyes and ruddy/tanned complexion perfectly. I reckon Rob gets lots of offers of overtime… “oooh, Rob, my rose bush needs some attention, could you…?”. I wonder if Rob minds being objectified?

Caught off guard, I looked down at my own outfit apologetically. Hmmm, low crotched sh**catchers bought at a music festival last year, T shirt, black ‘muesli muncher’ sandals, because they’re comfortable and don’t mess with my broken toe caused by kicking Princess – accident honestly, don’t call Children’s Services pleeeze! My outfit was embarrassing, I didn’t feel like ‘me’ and yet “this is my house, I can wear what I damn well like”. After they left I changed into some navy shorts to pull some weeds. They were a bit small but I couldn’t bare changing again – they’d have to do.

Same day, another unexpected visitor – the pool guy, dammit I look a mess, should have washed my hair, can’t they ring first?

“Ummm, ha ha, I don’t usually look like this”… but apparently I do! I am the exact opposite of Brescia’s “conscious dressing”, I am comatosed dressing personified. Interesting review of Brescia’s approach here.


George Brescia’s book was devoured, note taking was done, soul searching was undertaken. Moving interstate seems to have brought on an acute case of ‘self help-itis’. I find George more approachable than Marie Kondo. I imagine Marie to be buttoned up, unyielding in a no nonsense Japanese sort of way – hey the Shinkansen is never late okay! George is your gay mate who has more fabulous scarves than you do. He’s flamboyant but firm, he’ll ask what you were thinking buying those khaki chinos, where’s the pith helmet? He has a TV show. I like the simplicity of “a perfect 10” its easy to remember.

By now, about 2/3 of my wardrobe has been donated. Another lady dumping stuff into the charity bin even took a few items straight from my car, bless her! Some of the loot was handmade, some ‘designer’, some pedestrian. This is what I observed –

  • I had precisely one metric sh** tonne of clothes I never wore
  • The stuff I threw out (donated) weren’t being worn anyway so I haven’t missed them
  • I can now see what’s in my wardrobe and I don’t need to wear the same thing over and over because…
  • I tried on each and every thing and surprisingly can wear lots of items I thought didn’t fit – bonus!
  • I have a concise list of things I need to buy/make which will make my wardrobe workable
  • I see a theme in colour preference, and I’m surprised about what I don’t like in real life
  • I must never, ever again be talked into something by an enthusiastic salesperson
  • I can wear every single thing in my wardrobe which has opened up a lot of possibilities, I would have expected my choices to be more constrained.
  • When I went to the supermarket ‘dressed’ no one pointed and stared, they probably assumed I’d come from work or something!?

Thank you George, you made a lot of sense. The biggest hurdle is going to be dressing like I care every day. I’m still thinking Australians don’t need to dress like New Yorkers; we are defiantly hyper casual.

‘Change Your Clothes, Change Your Life’ was one of those serendipitous finds at the new Geelong library that leapt out from the shelf at exactly the right time. If you are in any doubt you need to do a wardrobe purge (and I honestly thought I’d already done it before moving), go borrow it from the library. Though, I’m going to read it again before returning it, so you’ll have to give me another week!

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  1. Lesley, This is so funny and so timely. I’ve been trying to avoid looking at the Internet (poor Gianni is doing the dishes after having cooked a lovely dinner!), but I picked up my phone and started reading. I was out with a colleague for drinks today to celebrate a publication and thinking “she looks so pulled together and I always look so bedraggled!). Love this and look forward to seeing what your list involves… I also need to throw out about two-thirds of my wardrobe, but this might also be the thinking corresponding to the fact that I’ve been wearing wool pants with wool tights underneath them for about three months now. Time for a change! Will check out this book…

    • Highly recommend the book S, but avoid watching him on daytime TV shows via Youtube – he’s so peppy it kills me. But the book, he feels like a friend! Yes, perhaps you need buds on trees now. Seasonal change is a great thing!

      • I forgot.. how is your toe going? My mother once slammed a door into my face because i was hiding behind it and of course she didn’t know. She was so chagrined when she had to take me to the hospital for stitches. You can still see the gap in my eyebrow!

      • 9 weeks later its still sore and swollen and differently coloured. Certain there’s no gangrene though! My daughter has a slice through her eyebrow too. Fell out of bed on to the corner of some sharp drawers when she was 3, she loves to tell the tale of how we put it back together on the dining table. Years later she received a whack in the eye with a hockey stick, split in the same place. So I took her to my fave cosmetic surgeon and he put her back together. Crazy you have the same scar, though doctors will remind us, that is the primary purpose of the brow ridge, to protect whats in the socket!!

  2. This post has truly hit home for me, so many of my handmade clothes aren’t me! I don’t think theres any other reason than I get so excited to start/finish a project that it doesn’t matter what I’m sewing and turns out to be wasted fabric.

    • There is a lag between knowing how we want something to look and finally getting the skills to actually make something that looks the way we imagine I think. The learning curve is inevitable, but perhaps its not linear, maybe it has bumps and then acute angles! Going forward I shall hold the fabric in my hand and ask that simple question “would I pick it up if it were RTW?”. Linda recently reminded me, no project is wasted if you’re learning from it. Love your blog BTW!

  3. Righto, off to the library I go. I’ve already done a big prune recently, but I really need to let go of some sentimental pieces that just remind me that I am now 2 sizes larger. Then, I can add some pretties 🙂

  4. I have not read the book, but I know I did a slow wardrobe upheaval in the last few years. I used have a waspish waist (ah those things you take for granted) and while I still have a waist, the clothes I had started to look a bit off…. I also started sewing my own clothes again, and redefined what really suited me, and the life I really lead (seriously when I think of some of the items that used be in my wardrobe, I will also add I wonder what climate I was buying for also). I am having a look for that book now…. it sounds like a good read…..

  5. Always wanted a waspish waist – you lucky thing. Weird how change never hits with a bang, it just creeps up behind you and then the lights go on, time for a change. George even asks you to contact him and gives his email and Twitter handle!

  6. ellegeemakes 25/02/2016 — 3:31 am

    I think I’ll take a look at this book as I can no longer fit all of my clothes in my closet yet I never have a thing to wear . Time to get some structure around the mess…thanks for the recommendation.

    • You’re very welcome Ellegee. We all hold onto things for such a long time. My hubby’s 97 yo Grandmother once remarked that clothes she made didn’t wear out fast enough! I hate to think of her not being able to make newer, brighter, shinier clothes because the old ones just wouldn’t die!

  7. One of the things I love about the UK is that you can wear anything and nobody cares, well, notices, which is so liberating.
    One of the things I hate about the UK is that you can wear anything, and nobody cares, or notices which is why most of us to look awful and dreary most of the time. One of the reasons I started to sew is that I wanted my clothes to get talked about and make me look the individual that I am. But then it gets cold and grey so I put on a coat as dull as the skies. And I spend so much of my social time in running clothes, often first thing in the morning, with messy hair and no make up… It’s hopeless.

    You paint a lovely picture of the landlady and her gardener but I bet these people took one look at you and thought ‘this woman would look good in a hessian sack!’ But well done on the clear out: a blank canvas to fill with more handwork and each new creation will be a wiser choice.

    • You’re too kind Marijana; great gravatar BTW! Am I fighting a losing battle? Is extreme casuals too entrenched? I was just lying in bed thinking about my direction for the coming year! No one needs to make clothes they won’t wear. At high school I was voted ‘most individually dressed’! But I’ve lost my nerve as I’ve got older, I refuse to go the full Iris Apfel though!

  8. Lesley, thanks for another very entertaining post – very funny. Am away next week and have just ordered this book, so will be my holiday read! Hopefully will stop me adding to my wardrobe while there. Lost count of the times I have been enticed into buying something, that in the cold light of the U.K. looks all wrong.

  9. I think when you sew it is too easy to make the wardrobe for the life you want rather than the one you have. Its good to try new styles sometimes but with an eye to reality. Well done on your clear out. I will look for the book in my local library.

  10. Your children are exactly the same ages as mine! I think we forget about ourselves while we’re bringing them up. Now, one of mine has left, and the other will leave this year!! Time to myself again…how odd!
    I used to be able to get rid of clothes easily, but now I’ve noticed that I buy or make the same thing over and over! The good and bad thing about refashioning is that I will not now clear out if I think I might remake it…it’s a big trap

    • Coincidentally, one of mine is in Canberra and the other will leave next year!I want to go out on a limb and suggest that you should do a wardrobe edit and move the things you don’t wear to a different room, see them as potential remakes perhaps? I did that a couple of years ago and it does bring a sense of peace to the robe. George made a good case!

  11. Beads and Barnacles 06/03/2016 — 2:37 am

    I need to read something like this. I have been looking at the wardrobe architect series on colette and now Christine hayes but never really took it all in.
    Thankfully most of the things I have made are things that I wear often, but I see how easy it would be to get stuck in the trap of making things that you think would be nice but never get worn.
    PS love the blog style, have come over from Rhonda’s blog 😀

    • I like those Wardrobe Architect things but they are a bit long I think and it sounds like you have your style sussed! That’s an Aussie term – let me know if you need a translation! Thanks so much for stopping by and for the lovely feedback. It was such a surprise to have been featured on Rhonda’s blog!!

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