Tag Archives: style

A Capsule Wardrobe that Isn’t

I started my entire minimalism movement inspired by the ideas of a capsule wardrobe. I loved the thought of having beautiful, high quality clothing and having a lot less of it all together. And that’s exactly what I’ve created. I have a teeny, tiny wardrobe. But no capsule.

What I mean to say is that unlike other capsule wardrobe projects, I don’t have anything waiting for me “off-capsule,” if you will. When I started, I pulled items for my spring capsule, pared down clothes I didn’t really want, and set aside pieces that I liked, but wasn’t sure about. Summer or fall capsule items, I thought.Yet as time went on, I reevaluated those items with a more skeptical eye. Why weren’t they special enough to be first draft picks? Ultimately, the answer was because they were ill-fitting, declining in quality, or simply no longer my taste. It gradually became clear to me that those feelings wouldn’t change with the seasons, so out they went.

The only pieces I own that aren’t hanging my closet are bulky, cold weather sweaters. There are 4 seasons in Missouri: Snow, Rain, July, and Oh my gosh it’s so nice today can you believe how nice it is today I love this weather this is great weather. I wear variations of the same thing year-round. As the weather cools, I throw tights on under my skirts. As the weather warms, I roll up my jeans and wear them with t-shirts and lightweight blouses rather than sweaters. Flats, button down tops, pencil skirts, blue jeans, v-neck tees, are worn in every season.

It didn’t make sense to set aside anything for future capsules. I didn’t love that much of my closet anyway. The summer season is approaching and here’s what I intend to buy:

J.Crew Button Down (a variation of my beloved white shirt)
High-waist Denim Shorts (I’m going to try them. There’s a good chance they get sent back, but I’m trying to be brave)
Madewell d’Orsay Flats (I finally pitched a very smelly pair of black flats and my others aren’t far behind. The work shoe situation demands attention.)
High-waist Bikini (As you can imagine, Brett has thrown the full weight of his support behind this purchase)
SOMETHING TO WEAR TO A BARBECUE, OUT TO DINNER, AND A WEDDING. Y’all, I’m struggling here. I’m gravitating towards a jumpsuit. Maybe this one, or this one, or this one. (HELP.)

And that’s it. It’s not an inexpensive list of items to be sure. But they’ll all fit in very nicely with my current wardrobe, which though small, I’ve been getting along with quite nicely. Recently a friend asked me if my capsule wasn’t actually bigger than normal, because she’d never seen me wear the same thing twice. (I can assure you this is not true. I’m actually wearing the same pair of pants today that I wore yesterday. I considered adding another pair of slacks to my list, but decided I should just shave my legs so I can wear a skirt instead. Minimalism you guys. It’s a whole thing.)

So maybe don’t stress if you haven’t dominated your closet situation as swiftly as you’d like. You don’t need a perfectly seasonal and rotating selection of highly curated clothes. My recommendation is to trim until it’s easy to get dressed in the morning and you always have something to wear that you love. It’s working for me!

 

 

 

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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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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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