Category Archives: Wardrobe Capsule

Kon-Mari Method

Minimalism. Can we talk about this? Because, I am exhausted.

Brett and I took Monday and Tuesday off work to give our house the Kon-Mari once over. An hour into Day One, I was exhausted.

I’ve been overly confident, y’all. I felt that because I had been expressive and vulnerable here, I was prepared to do the work. I expected it to be joyful, simple, and most importantly- quick. I established myself as an authority on minimalism, without actually becoming a practicing minimalist first. (I do this…)

But, I want to encourage you in the face of what I was feeling. Because I think this is so worthwhile.

The most accurate way to describe my reaction was “All. The. Feels.”

Oh my gosh we have so much stuff. Why do we have so much stuff? I just bought that. Why did I buy that? What a waste! I’m such a waster! I’m tired. Why did I think this would be fun? This isn’t fun. Why do we have so much stuff?

And so on. I was overwhelmed immediately, but this is because (as previously established) I tend to ignore hard facts and idealize EVERYTHING. My blessed, sweet husband was patient and encouraging and didn’t pick on me at all. And when I said, I need a break, he said just the right thing which was, Let’s get ice cream. 

We started with clothes and y’all- I am STILL pulling unworn items from my capsule. I yanked a pair of navy khakis, a black sweater, and a button down from my current capsule and just about everything from my “off season” capsule except sweaters that are too damn hot to wear. If it didn’t make the capsule in Round One, I don’t love it. If I have 30 items in my closet and I still ignore certain pieces, then I really don’t love them. Out they go.

Papers were easy but caught me off guard. I was diligent in keeping anything I felt might be important and what remained was a time capsule of my first years of adulthood. An $800 receipt for the black 1994 Escort LX coupe that my dad bought my senior year of high school. (You guys, this was a big deal for us. $800 was a lot of money. I can’t even.)  The award letter for my Bright Flight scholarship. The lease on my first college apartment. The insurance paperwork from when my car was totaled. (Not the Escort. That junker died in the Target parking lot on my way home from work. I bought a beautiful Nissan Altima and some jerk t-boned me on a rainy day 2 months later.) Our marriage license and the applications for our passports. Except our marriage license (natch), these all went in the “shred” pile, but there was something startlingly emotional about flipping through them in succession. I was glad when we finished up.

Komono was, well, everything. We went room by room (to make it manageable) and it took every bit of two days. We emptied cabinets, cleared shelves, dug things out of nooks and our living room is now patently full of goodies for our garage sale on Saturday. (We’re having a garage sale on Saturday!).

Fatty was a big fan of all the available boxes for sitting.

Fatty was a big fan of all the available boxes for sitting.

Mid-day Monday, I was pretty sure there was no chance I’d have the energy to deal with mementos, but by Tuesday afternoon I was so ready to be DONE that I powered through. We kept scrapbooks and photo albums (probably not in total alignment with the Kon-Mari method, but it works for us). I sorted through a plastic bin of photos and Brett and I both determined we didn’t need the hall pass from Kindergarten or the card from our 13th birthday party signed “Joe and Jane.” (Who are Joe and Jane? Where did this card come from? Why did I keep this?) We even sorted through cards and letters we’ve written each other over the years and only kept the most special. (Brett noticed a somewhat concerning pattern which is that about half my cards begin with “Sorry I’ve been such a bitch lately…”)

I threw away a lot of photos. I had an astonishing quantity of photos of 1) People I am not friends with anymore; 2) Places I do not remember being; and 3) Me doing things I should not have been taking photos of (drinking, smoking, breaking into circuses). Emotionally, this was an easy task because if I ever go into politics (I won’t), the blackmail material is significantly lighter.

I’m ready for next week. I’m ready to clear the debris from my home, to pay someone to give it a deep clean, and to settle into the maintenance phase- which I am the most eager and anxious for. I think I’m ready to call myself a minimalist, but I’m certain that there so much more to uncover in these new stages than I could ever expect.

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Ode to a White Shirt

I’m wearing my white shirt again today. I wore it on Wednesday too. And I’ll probably wear it once this weekend. I’m becoming a lot like this woman. If you’re trying on minimalism, there’s a lot of power in a white shirt.

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White shirts go with everything. I don’t worry about my hair when I wear a white shirt. I don’t fuss with my makeup when I wear a white shirt. A good white shirt puts a polish on whatever it is about you that already shines.

However, an interesting thing happens when you combine the principles of a capsule wardrobe with the ideals of KonMari. This morning as I was dressing and thinking about how much I love my white shirt (which is this one, for reference) (yes, I know, it’s freaking steal) I said to myself, I’m a mess. I’m going to ruin this white shirt some day. And I love this particular one. I should stock up so I always have one on hand. Whoa partner.

Marie Kondo tells a story in her book about a woman who loved a shirt so much she bought two. She wore the first one to threads, but the second one sat untouched. It didn’t spark joy anymore.

This particular shirt fits me well and even more importantly, it fills my need for a white shirt right now. I love a sense of abundance as much as the next girl, but when we “stock up” we attempt to anticipate our future needs based on our current situation.

First of all, it seems unlikely that J.Crew is going to stop selling white button-down shirts. Should I be presented with a situation where I need a new one, there will certainly be one available to me for purchase. And don’t we all prefer the “new” anyway? Even if I kept my extra white shirts in plastic bags and tissue paper, they would become “old” just by virtue of being in my closet.

More importantly, I hope in six months (though let’s be honest, I’ll wreck this shirt well before then) that my needs have changed. I hope that my consciousness has continued to expand and that what serves me today will propel me to new experiences and that replicating just won’t do. Isn’t this the beauty of minimalism? That there is growth in maintenance?

In practicing minimalism, my hope is that my interior life reflects that same chicness as any exterior life. That I cultivate and invest in quality, not just in leather and denim and silk, but in my words, and my time, and my energy. It is so easy to slip into our standard patterns (I’ve already double booked myself since my last post on making time so old habits die hard), but a little intentionality goes a long way.
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The Ripple Effects of Minimalism

If you’ve committed to a capsule wardrobe, you might have done so with the subconscious (or conscious!) realization that your closet is hardly the only place in your home that’s been neglected by excessive materialism. After reading Marie Kondo’s book, I noticed that nearly every nook and cranny in my apartment was the resting place for something that I didn’t love, or find useful, or believe to be beautiful. (Which is a really pretty way of saying I have a bunch of CRAP.)

It’s suffocating.

Brett and I have committed to KonMari our entire apartment. We’ve taken a day off work in June to do a full court press. (BECAUSE WE’RE LIKE THAT). We’ve started in on Clothes and Books, and we’ll spend our long weekend addressing Papers, Komono, and Mementos.

Simply by starting a capsule wardrobe and cleaning up our bookshelves, we are already enjoying the first benefits of minimalism. We have noticeably less laundry. (PRAISE BE UNTO HIM) Packing for a trip is simple. Getting dressed is easy. We’ve decided to sell our book collection and already pocketed $20! (Which we will add to our travel fund, a true source of joy for the Mosers). (Traveling. Not squirreling away money. No one LIKES saving money.)

Marie Kondo recommends handling each item in your home and accessing it individually. Track your reaction- does it spark joy? And don’t stop at your house.

That committee you are in- “Pick” it up, does it spark joy? That invitation to a weekend trip- when you examine it, how does it make you feel? Your cable subscription, your collection of old Cosmo magazines, your bookshelf full of dusty shot glasses- does it bring you joy to simply own them? Even if you never use them?

In a recent conversation with Brett, I stated- “I want to count my commitments on one hand.”

1. My personal life. (Brett, my friends, drinking on the patio, grilling hot dogs, helping plan my best friend’s wedding)
2. My work. (Which is a joy, a challenge, a pleasure.)
3. My education. (I’m going back to school in August!)
4. My service. (Which I’ve scaled back to include a committee in my young professionals group and a position on the Chamber of Commerce board.)
5. A rotating position for time delineated events. If I’m hosting a birthday party this month, then I’m sorry, I can’t help plan a community service event.

There’s a good chance this sounds silly to you. (Actually, for your sake, I hope it does.) But as a “yes” gal from way-back, it’s transformative for me to declare, My time is the most important. 

Call it a toast to selfishness, but if you need me this summer, I’ll be drinking on my patio, grilling hot dogs and planning my best friend’s wedding. I hope you’re making time to do exactly the things you want to do as well!

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My Spring 2015 Capsule

This capsule wardrobe is a real thing huh? I love hearing about your own journeys with this. I think a bunch of us are SO THERE. Spring is a season of growth. Ideas are percolating and we are establishing roots to weather the coming seasons. We are coming out of hibernation and when the sun beams into our windows,  we want the light to shine on the best of our homes, our relationships, and our intentions.

I haven’t been feeling very good lately. I’ve been really sensitive and quite emotional and to be candid, downright glum some days. The truth is, I’m a really happy person so I’m sitting with a lot of discomfort. My preference is to be cheerful and I struggle on days that are difficult to choose joy. These ideas about minimalism feel like a gift, however, because I see a path to reduce distraction and useless clutter. I see a path to recognizing that I am and that I have enough. I hope your journeys are taking you to the destination you need to reach as well. I recently finished “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo (and shared it with Brett!) If, like me, you want to practice the principles of minimalism beyond the boundaries of your closet, I strongly recommend you give it a read.

As promised, this is my post about the spring capsule I carved out for myself from my closet. Admittedly, I think a LOT about that “type” of person I want to be, so the “style” dialogue was not as hard for me as I think it’s been for some of you. (Here’s a post about how to start that conversation.) I added a few pieces in and pulled a whole lot out- this is what’s left.

My capsule is 32 pieces: 18 tops, 10 bottoms, 2 dresses, and 2 jackets. (Here’s a post about what I decided to include and why.)

Tops: 5 button downs, 3 long sleeve shirts, 2 sweatshirts, 4 silky tops, and 4 tee shirts/tanks. 
FullSizeRenderBottoms: 1 grey maxi skirt, 2 pencil skirts, 1 midi skirt, 1 mini skirt, 2 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of black skinnies, 1 pair of black skimmers, and 1 pair of navy khakis. FullSizeRender-2Dresses: 1 maxi dress, 1 cotton shift dress

FullSizeRender-4Jackets: 1 denim jacket, 1 lightweight jacket FullSizeRender-3Extras*: 1 black purse, 1 brown purse, 1 dress clutch, 1 casual clutch, 4 scarves, 1 black belt, 1 brown belt
*(I didn’t include accessories in my overall capsule count, but I did reduce them pretty dramatically.)

FullSizeRender-5As you can see, it’s startlingly blue. And I hope, quite versatile. There are only a few pieces that I couldn’t wear to work (Slytherin sweatshirt, I’m looking at you) and only a few that I wouldn’t wear at home (those skimmers just scream business casual…)

The real work starts now- in being creative and joyful when dressing, deliberately choosing to love what I own, and saying no to clothes shopping until it’s time to build my summer capsule for July. Brett and I plan to implement the KonMari method to our entire apartment, so my focus in the coming weeks is discarding.

I hope you are staying encouraged and finding ways to implement practices that are meaningful to you. If you need a cheerleader- you know where to find me!

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Style Insights

I can’t tell you anything about sustaining a wardrobe capsule yet. I’m sorry. I just started this project last weekend. HOWEVER. I can tell you a lot about getting started. Because I just did that. Get started that is. Last weekend.

I think a barrier to wardrobe capsules is the need to lean heavily on a cultivated sense of style. Everyone gets dressed, but only a few have “style” and those few are lifestyle bloggers who are paid to get dressed and have someone take their photo in an alley behind their apartment (Is it their husbands? Boyfriends? Why are they all dating photographers? How did they talk them into this idea? Don’t they have jobs? When do they take these photos? This doesn’t seem like a realistic model to me.)

If you’re someone who just gets dressed, it seems like a bad idea to whittle down your options to a handful of tops and bottoms and one pair of very trendy ankle boots. It seems like the potential for showing up to work naked one day is getting more real all the time. And while the idea of “style” sounds somewhat intriguing, it might also sound entirely exhausting.

I totally get that, but I also think you’re probably wrong.

Are you on Pinterest? (Yes, you are.) Do you have a fashion board? (Yes, you do.) This is where your “style” lives and breathes. If you’re lucky, your style might periodically camp out in your closet, but most of the time, it’s writing rent checks to Pinterest because that is where it lives. Your fashion board represents your perfect closet. If you had unlimited resources to devote to “style”- this is how you would dress.

And if you are me- there are a dozen outfits that include a navy striped t-shirt. And 10 with chambray button downs. And 15 with cotton maxi skirts. What I’m telling you is that a pattern will emerge. All you have to do is find it.

And when you find it, appreciate it. What are the commonalities? What drew you to those outfits? What do you already own that reflects that pattern? (Hopefully quite a bit.) What do you own that doesn’t? (Hopefully less.)

I spent about an hour reviewing my “Style File” board. There are over 150 pins and I’ve been saving ideas for a few years now. I want to share my “style” insights with you, so that you can do the same and take the plunge towards a happy minimalist closet.

  • It should be mostly black, mostly white, or mostly denim. Mostly. Except when it’s navy.
  • Pair something flowy with something structured. Or something structured with something structured. Never all flowy.
  • Stripes are good. In fact, stripes are a neutral. Geometric patterns are also nice. Florals are pretty in theory but not in purchase.
  • More cognac leather.
  • Comfort is king.
  • Statement necklaces should be worn with sweaters. In the fall. When it’s cold. Delicate jewelry goes with everything else.
  • Variations on a theme:
    White, Grey, Black
    Navy, Chambray, Denim
    Pink, Coral, Red
  • Layers = a jacket . Maybe a scarf. Maybe.
  • Skirts are a safe place.
  • Winning combinations = Black + Brown; White + Denim
  • Buy a black moto jacket this fall.

My ideal style is preppy, classic, and urban (rather than boho, earthy, or trendy, for example.) If you stood in front of your closet today and picked an outfit that made you feel stylish, put together, comfortable, and happy- I bet it would mirror so many of those pins on your style boards.

I think this is a good risk-free first step and I think you’ll surprise yourself. Long live style! In closing, here’s my ideal outfit:

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Black, chambray and the leather jacket of my dreams.

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Wardrobe Capsule Phase One

I did two things almost immediately after sitting on this minimalism thing for a while.

1. Unsubscribe to every single promotional email that might tempt me.
2. Make a work plan. Call it my work culture, but I just can’t get worked up about a goal if there’s no methodology to back it up.

It is important to me to affect real change in my habits. Every 3 months or so, I make a sweep of my closet and donate clothes I don’t love or that don’t fit anymore. Doesn’t that sound great? It does, but it begs the question- why do I have to keep making passes and why have I acquired so much that I don’t love since my last pass?

Danger Will Robinson.

So while I loved the idea of a wardrobe capsule, it feels very much like the first step of a long journey. I call our action plan the “Moser Family Power Plan” which is the shortened title of the “Minimize Our Space In Order To Live In Our Power Plan.” I’ve talked to you about living in my power right? Well, I think for the Mosers living in our power means hosting friends for dinner on the patio and making playlists and singing together and travelling and laughing laughing laughing. Living in our power doesn’t reflect any material accumulation.

Our plan has five steps: Basic Clean Up, Wardrobe Capsule, Total Elimination, Upgrades, and Sustainability. Sustainability matters the most to me, but the wardrobe capsule is the most fun, so I’ll share more about that here.

You probably saw this photo I shared on Facebook. Pulling everything from my closet was a bit of a reality check and if I had any suspicion that I might not need this, I was quickly galvanized. I sorted everything and started 3 piles: Into My Capsule, Out of Season, and Get Out Of My House. I used Un-Fancy as a guide and kept her rule in mind: “Would I pick this over my favorite item of clothing in my closet?” If this answer was “no”, it went in the donate/sell pile. If the answer was “maybe” or “not in this weather”, I set it aside for storage. What remained were my favorites: basic, versatile, and good quality.

Here’s what didn’t make the cut for spring, but I’m hanging on to for future capsules. If I decide not to include items in any capsule by the end of the year, I’ll donate those “maybe” items that eventually revealed themselves as duds. (Yes, that’s a cat Christmas sweater. Winter Capsule!)

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Here’s what is headed out the door. It includes two pairs of ankle boots that while cute, I would never pick over my $6 Chelseas from Gap (pictured above), two bright colored belts, some J.Crew tank tops that are too short, khaki shorts (I don’t belong to the country club, so I don’t know why I dress like I do), several skirts, and a brightly colored tunic I purchased after our trip to Mexico under the false impression that what looks great at a resort looks great at home. (It doesn’t.)

FullSizeRenderAnd here’s what stayed! IMG_9604I’ll do a full Spring Capsule post later, but I want to share some of my “rules”. My biggest piece of advice for getting started? Keep an open mind and let your wardrobe do the talking.

  • Right off, I decided to stick with 1 capsule. While I don’t have the luxury of working from home, I pride myself on buying very versatile pieces that fit my business casual work style and (what I liked to think of) as my polished, classic causal style. I didn’t want to manage two separate wardrobes, but I really let my existing wardrobe make this decision for me. When I laid it all out, two capsules wasn’t necessary.
  • I haven’t settled on a number of pieces yet, but I think it will be around 35. I shopped for a handful of key pieces this weekend (J.Crew Factory for the win) and I want to bring those in and see what I end up with.
  • I didn’t include: accessories, jewelry, workout clothes, underthings, party dresses, or shoes. But I did pare these items down and I did set aside scarves for the season. I don’t own many shoes and I tend to shop for function over form in that department. I do intend, however, to keep a watchful eye on what I do and don’t wear so I can toss extras out at the end of the season. Right now I have a pair of white Converse, three pairs of flats- black, camel, and pink, black sandals, brown sandals, a pair of Sperrys, and a pair of Minnetonkas on regular rotation.
  • Versatility is key. I gravitate towards a few basic staples in primary colors- black, white, grey, navy, red. Nearly every piece works with every other and this brought the panic level way down. If you pull everything and don’t see a pattern, it’s probably worth doing some thought exercises to hone in on “your style.” You’re probably more predictable then you realize.
  • I considered this a late start on a Spring Capsule, which will take me through May and June. My summer capsule will be July, August, and September.

My overall goal is to increase quality and decrease quantity. No more bargain shopping, no more flash sales. Any purchases should add value to my wardrobe. Finally, this is what I wore to work today.. Wardrobe Capsule Day One. And the truth is, I would have picked this out from the rubble anyway. IMG_9607

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Do You Believe That You’re Enough?

I’m noticing a thread that runs through my life. It reveals itself in my fears, my worries.

I don’t believe that I’m enough.

You might have seen this post on Facebook last night. I loved it, but when I explored Un-Fancy, the blogger who inspired her closet re-do, I was captivated. Minimalism.

Brett and I were drinking coffee in the living room this morning and I asked if he thought we could live as minimalists. I asked, If there were a fire in this room, is there anything here that you would save before running out? (EXCLUDING THE CAT. PEOPLE, I’M NOT A MONSTER). (Stella was asleep upstairs. She’s not part of the thought experiment. I’m not a bad pet parent, she just doesn’t have a meaningful role in this scenario.) Both of us admitted, NOPE. In spite of the fact that we’ve talked about this concept over and over, we haven’t acted on any of it.

Caroline, who writes Un-Fancy, shares this lesson: When things aren’t adding up, start subtracting” 

I started to think about why I’m such a shopaholic. Why I fill my house with things I could set fire to. Why I don’t save more/spend less. Where I put energy, resources, time.

This year Brett and I are travelling to some amazing places to see some beautiful people- experiences I will remember the rest of my life. Doesn’t investing in those moments serve me more richly? Doesn’t that hold more value than a scarf I will eventually leave in the backseat of a cab? (Rhetorical questions because OF COURSE IT DOES.)

Or more importantly, if I took away all the material trappings – Is my life enough? Are my relationships enough? Am I enough? 

It might seem a stretch to tie this back to my body issues but the truth is, I fight with myself because I don’t believe I’m enough. I don’t trust my body. Naked, I have no value. I need black flats and leather bags and blog posts and work-out-weight-loss challenges to cloth me in worthiness.

I’m starting to challenge this notion and I’m deciding where to go with it. My gut instinct when I want to try something new is to “gear up.” Literally. But what if I let go instead? What if instead of buying a new yoga mat I went on more walks wearing shoes I already own? What if I made literal space by getting rid of those floral skirts I haven’t worn since I was 22? What if I stopped shopping for a new piece of artwork for my bedroom and loved on my husband a bit more? What if I was already capable of taking care of myself? What if I’m already just the way I ought to be?

This is heavy stuff y’all. This is a chat over coffee and a talk at lunch and a pow wow with a glass of wine. It’s a lot. It really is. Thank you for being my community as I work through some of these weird things. Isn’t be 26 (or 36 or 66 or 96) the strangest thing?

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