I hate my winter capsule wardrobe

Photo Credit: onesieworld via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: onesieworld via Compfight cc

Disclaimer: the photo above is not me.  I may not love her outfit, but you’ve got to admit – she is OWNING it.

I’ve been struggling to write this post for weeks.  I mean, we’re more than halfway through winter already — Hi Mr. Groundhog! —  shouldn’t I have this post done already?  Shouldn’t I have my winter wardrobe finalized?  Short of going on a shopping spree (which is exactly what I’m trying NOT to do with these limited seasonal wardrobes) I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that my winter clothes and I are just not getting along.

Putting together a winter capsule wardrobe was much more difficult than I expected.  I’ve been doing this capsule wardrobe thing since summer, but the winter wardrobe has been the hardest by far.  I’m not sure if it’s the wide range of temperatures we’ve experienced in the last two months (from 70 – 0 degrees!), just the fact that I don’t like being cold, or feeling perfectionistic about trying to find the perfect wardrobe that will all mix-and-match together, but it’s been a 6 weeks in the making and I’m still not happy with it.

Clothes selection process:  My theme for the winter wardrobe was “warm and cozy,” and I chose black and white as my main colors, with accents of purple and green. (This has more to do with what was already in my wardrobe than any intentional choice on my part, or trying to be in style.)  I work in a business casual office three days a week, work at home two days a week, and have very casual weekend days, dressing up for church about the same as I do for work.  My wardrobe needs to be about 50-50 professional and casual clothes, and I try to look for pieces that can crossover for both categories.

clothes venn diagram

This is a lot harder than it sounds like.  I have a few tops that fall into that green “just right” category, but not many.  I’m still in a stage of life where my casual clothes are likely to be used as a snot rag or be worn during a preschooler wrestling match or crawling around on the ground.

I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things, but here are the staples of my capsule wardrobe, from most worn to least worn items.  (I was tempted to seriously geek out and make a spreadsheet for this, but instead I settled for various symbols to indicate my uses and issues with this wardrobe.)

  1. Black dress pants ! @ +
  2. Gray dress pants ! @ +
  3. Dark-wash skinny jeans ! ~ +
  4. White button-down shirt ! @
  5. Black jeans ! ~
  6. Gray half-zip cabled sweater ! @ ~ +
  7. Snowflake printed fleece jacket ! ~
  8. Purple turtleneck sweater ! @ ~
  9. Bright blue running shoes ! ~
  10. White beaded long-sleeve T-shirt ! @ ~ +
  11. Ratty old Mizzou Law long-sleeved t-shirt ! ~ +
  12. Tall flat black boots ! @ ~ +
  13. Brown short boots ! @
  14. Dark-wash boot-cut jeans ! % ~
  15. Black turtleneck * @
  16. Chambray button-down shirt % @ ~
  17. Purple button-down shirt @ +
  18. Another pair of black dress pants % @ +
  19. Black tuxedo suit jacket in a soft material @
  20. Light gray wool dress % @
  21. Gray tweed skirt with big bow @
  22. Teal polka-dotted cardigan % @
  23. Green and white striped long-sleeved T-shirt ~
  24. Long cream printed sweatshirt * ~
  25. Black short boots @
  26. Teal quilted flats % * @
  27. Tan dress pants ? % @ +
  28. Crazy patterned leggings * ? ~
  29. Gray oversized knitted vest % ? @ ~
  30. Black pencil skirt ? @
  31. Brown velvety jacket ? @ ~ +
  32. Little black dress ?? @
  33. Thick black leggings ?? ~
  34. Black short-sleeved T-shirt ?? ~ +
  35. Black cardigan * ?? @

Key:

* New purchase     + More than 3 years old    Hardly worn    ?? Not worn at all

! Worn a lot           % Don’t like how it fits      @ Work             ~ Casual

I think it’s really interesting that most of the items I wore the most had already been in my wardrobe for 3 years or more.  Even though I am not that happy with my winter capsule wardrobe, I know I learned from it.

Lessons Learned

  • No skirts or dresses in winter.  It’s just too cold.
  • No more leggings until I get some longer shirts!
  • I have too many things in my wardrobe that just don’t fit me well anymore.  (Having two kids will do that to you!)  Future clothes shopping needs to be focused on replacing things I know I like instead of chasing the latest fad.  (I think I wore those patterned leggings two times?  Maybe once?)
  • Overlapping work and play clothes doesn’t work very well for me, I just end up with stuff that’s too casual for work and too dressy for home.
  • I miss wearing bright colors.  I know it’s partially a seasonal thing, but a neutral palette is just boring to me.
  • I shouldn’t buy things just because I think they’ll be good “staples.”  I wear cardigans quite a bit for work, but I wear that polka-dotted teal one 10 times more than the plain black one.

The groundhog says 6 more weeks of winter, so I’m going to suck it up and live with these clothes that annoy me for a little while longer.  But I am SOOOOO excited for spring!

I have to ask – does anyone out there actually like winter?  Are you sick of all your winter clothes like me?

Share Button

6 ways to wear a patterned top

patterned top collage

Today I’m teaming up with two other bloggers for a fun post about how to get the most out of your clothes.  Patterned tops are fun to buy and very flattering, but for the longest time I didn’t wear them very often because I felt like they were so unique that everyone would notice I was wearing the same shirt over and over again.  I’ve come to two conclusions about this line of thinking:

(1) No one is paying THAT much attention to what I wear, except me.

(2) Mix it up!  You can wear the same small number of clothes in so many different combinations.  (Hello, capsule wardrobe!)  In fact, I think limiting the number of clothes in my closet actually forces me to be more creative about what I wear.

My two “ways to wear it” were an office look and a more casual date night look.

IMG_9277

For the office look, I paired my patterned blouse with my workhorse Little Black Dress (this thing is at least 10 years old).  I think the trick to making this look work is a thin blouse (mine is polyester) and a fully lined dress, so the crinkles of the shirt underneath don’t show through.

Shirt: Pixley via Stitch Fix

Dress: Liz Claiborne

Shoes: Born (I always get tons of compliments on these)

Jewelry: Banana Republic (always check for jewelry on sale at Banana.  You can find really great deals sometimes.)

 

IMG_9271

For the date-night look, I did a patterned shirt + black skinny jeans combo, and added a bit of color with a red belt and red peep-toe shoes.  A red statement necklace, scarf, or hair accessory would go great with this, too.

Shirt: Pixley via Stitch Fix

Jeans: Ann Taylor LOFT

Shoes: Banana Republic

What’s your favorite way to wear a patterned top?  Do you have something in your wardrobe that’s truly stood the test of time (like my little black dress?) 

Don’t forget to visit Jacquelyn and Carrie for more ways to style a patterned top!  And if you liked this post, I would love it if you pinned it!  You can click the Pinterest button at the bottom of the post or repin from my Style board.  Thank you & have a great Thanksgiving!

Share Button

3 Ways to Wear… a patterned pencil skirt #capsulewardrobe #unfancyfriday

Just for fun on a Friday…
Part of creating a capsule wardrobe is finding lots of ways to wear the same items. I’ve had this leopard-print skirt for a couple of years and I always get compliments on it when I wear it, but I am always unsure about how to style it. I’ve been playing around with it on Polyvore and I think I’ve found a couple of very doable options, as well as a crazy one I might try if I have the right occasion.

The first option is my standard look — when in doubt, pair a print with black.  Good basic office look, with ankle boots to make it a little more current.

 

Rawr

 

Next up, something slightly more daring — mixing print with a bright color. Basically this is treating the print like a neutral, which I hear is what you’re supposed to do? #fashionclueless

Not so casual Friday

 

And finally — in true SEC football style, we’ve got the “football fancy” look that those Southern girls have down pat and we Missourians are just learning about. Honestly, the shirt probably needs some sequins or something.

Football Fancy

 

Have a great weekend!

Share Button

Creating a Capsule Wardrobe with Polyvore

Polyvore

I’ll be honest — I’ve never really understood Polyvore.  I enjoy looking at cute outfits on Pinterest as much as the next girl, but making digital collages of overpriced clothes isn’t really my thing.  But as I’ve been thinking about and shopping for my fall capsule wardrobe, it struck me that Polyvore would be the perfect way to make sure all the items I was choosing for my wardrobe would go together, without having to tear apart my closet.

It took me a little bit of playing around to get it right but here’s the trick to making Polyvore work for a capsule wardrobe, rather than giving you serious clothes-envy over its endless selection (and unlimited budget):  the “like” button.  When you like an item in Polyvore, it puts into into a separate tab, which you can then use to create lots of different outfits (they call them “sets”) and save them to look at later.

I got my fall/winter clothes and shoes out of storage recently, so I started by searching to items on Polyvore that are similar to clothes I already have that I want to include in my fall wardrobe.  (Don’t worry if they’re not identical, just get something close enough so you can tell what the outfit will look like.)  My goal is between 30-40 items (including shoes) for my entire wardrobe and I’m not quite there yet.  This leaves me a little room to do some shopping to fill in the holes.  I know I still need a dress of some sort and a black cardigan.  Since I can see everything I already have, it was pretty easy to figure out what I was lacking.

The awesome thing about this is that being limited to a few items really makes you get creative with how you put outfits together.  I call this one “Lazy Saturday.”  Stretchy pants, and hoodie and Toms…  oh yeah.

Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 12.39.16 PM

 

 

My goal is to come up with at least 3 different ways to wear each item in my wardrobe.  With a small wardrobe, everything has to pull its own weight.   Polyvore makes it really easy to figure out if I can mix and match something enough to make it capsule-worthy.  (Are you thinking about Seinfeld now?  Mwah ha ha.)

What’s your favorite thing to wear in the fall?  

Share Button

Business casual capsule wardrobe, Summer 2014

Photo Credit: peddhapati via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: peddhapati via Compfight cc

Capsule wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called “Wardrobe” in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that will not go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be updated with seasonal pieces.This idea was popularised by American designer Donna Karan, who, in 1985, released an influential capsule collection of seven interchangeable work-wear pieces.

The term has come to refer to a collection of clothing which is designed using only interchangeable items, in order to maximise the number of outfits which can be created. The aim is to have an outfit suitable for any occasion without owning excessive items of clothing. This is usually achieved by buying what are considered to be “key” or “staple” items in coordinating colors.  Thanks Wikipedia!

Lately, I’ve noticed the worlds of fashion blogging and simple living joining forces, with bloggers creating stylish, interchangeable wardrobes from 10-37 pieces of clothing (that’s a pretty broad range, but I think it depends if you count shoes and other accessories).  I mentioned Unfancy and Kapachino in my last post, but Project 333 and even a Huffington Post columnist are getting into the game.

I was interested in trying out the capsule wardrobe concept because I hated the feeling of walking into my closet every morning and feeling like I had nothing to wear, and continually choosing the same few items.  Wouldn’t it be easier if I just pared down my wardrobe to only things I wanted to wear?  I decided on a whim in late June to try to create my own capsule wardrobe out of items I already owned.  My plan was to follow the Unfancy model of 37 items (9 pairs of shoes, 9 bottoms, 15 tops, 2 dresses and 2 jackets/coats).  I ended up going down to 27 items and not worrying about my shoes (since I wasn’t buying anything new anyway).  I searched the web and Pinterest for inspiration, and while I found lots of cute outfits, I wasn’t finding a lot for people who work in an office environment.  Should all my outfits be dressy?  What about casual Fridays?  And what about the weekend?  

Of course, there is no fashion police, so after some internal debate, I just made up my own rules.  I would create a wardrobe of items that I could wear for work or weekends, but super-casual wear like workout clothes, pjs, lounge pants, etc. wouldn’t count.

The wardrobe I ended up with isn’t perfect — between maternity wear and post-maternity wear taking up so much of my clothing for the last 4 years, I haven’t done the best job keeping my wardrobe current with basics like non-pit-stained white shirts and trendier stuff like longer t-shirts, new jeans, etc.  Also — these are crappy iphone photos that I snapped in a hurry and the clothes are wrinkly.  This is real life, not a professional photo shoot, right?

Also, something I’ve noticed about my capsule as compared to most I’ve seen online?  I love color and pattern.  Wearing a bright yellow sweater or kelly green pants just makes my day.  Working these items into a very small wardrobe that’s supposed to be all interchangeable poses an interesting challenge.  Here’s what I came up with.

First up – t-shirts.  Some casual, some dressier.  Some I’ve owned for years and others are new-ish.  I ended up hating and rarely wearing that white one with the lace trim since I felt like the horizontal stripes highlighted my pooch.  And that printed bicycle tee doesn’t look like much on the hangar, but I’ve probably worn it once a week all summer and I get tons of compliments on it.  (From JC Penney, no less!)

wpid-IMG_3616.jpg

Next… “fancier” shirts — ones with collars, basically, plus a 3/4 sleeve cardi (I love yellow!) and a short sleeve knit sweater that I made myself.  (Sadly it’s too short for current styles… I shouldn’t have included it but how do you get rid of a lace sweater you knit on size 2 needles?)  I would wear all of these for work… hopefully after they’d been ironed.wpid-IMG_3619.jpg

 Bottoms — I bought a lot of “crazy pants” (patterns and bright colors) on a shopping trip with my mom after I was mostly back to pre-pregnancy size, so that’s what I used in my capsule.  These are not exactly the kind of classic pieces that a capsule wardrobe was meant to be built upon, but I’ve been wearing them a lot nonetheless!

wpid-IMG_3617.jpg

Skirts!  (Not pictured are a couple of pairs of shorts that I wear on the weekends.)  I love the cut of that gray A-line skirt but dang the fabric is wrinkly… something to keep in mind when you’re going to be wearing the same stuff over and over!

wpid-IMG_3620.jpg

Last but not least — dresses, a suit, and some blouses.  I am a lawyer after all, I do have to dress up on occasion.  I chose my “summery-est” suit, mostly because I thought I could also break it up and wear the jacket and pants as separates.  But let’s be honest, it’s way too hot to wear a jacket unless I need to be in a suit.  (Isn’t that blue and green dress adorable?  It’s from Stitch Fix and I love it.  Excellent post-partum-pooch hiding style.)

wpid-IMG_3607.jpg

So – that’s my capsule wardrobe!  I will definitely be doing this again for fall, hopefully with a well-timed shopping trip to fill in a few gaps and add a few updates/trendy pieces.

Lessons learned:

  • This was pretty easy for me because I was already used to wearing a relatively small number of clothes.  I hated spending money on maternity clothes so I just wore them over and over.
  • Most of my clothes are from Banana Republic, Ann Taylor Loft, Old Navy, and a smattering of Stitch Fix and other internet purchases.  Quality matters!  I have a basic black t-shirt from Banana Republic that looks as good as new, while the Old Navy and Loft stuff shows its age a lot more quickly.  It’s definitely worth watching the sale rack to get the higher quality clothes.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of the dress!  Just one item in a limited wardrobe and it’s all you have to wear for the day.  Throw a jacket, cardigan, or unbuttoned blouse over it for a completely different look.
  • Sometimes you have to break the rules, and that’s okay.  My job duties changed recently and I’m required to wear suits more often than I used to — obviously I’m not going to wear the same suit over and over.  But luckily I’ve acquired a few over the years so I just wore those on the days I needed to dress up, then went back to my capsule for the rest of the week.
  • As limited as this wardrobe seems, I still find myself gravitating to my “favorites” — probably 10 or so pieces that I would wear over and over if I doing laundry were no object.
  • Accessories become a lot more fun when you wear the same clothes over and over.  I have enjoyed wearing more of my earrings and necklaces than normal, and I am pining after a new purse and some new shoes.
  • I included too many casual tops and not enough dressy ones. I have to dress up for work 5 days a week, so I need to make that a priority in my wardrobe.

Would you ever try a capsule wardrobe?  What is one item of clothing that you would absolutely have to include?

 

Share Button