Tag Archives: wardrobe

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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How to Say No (Or rather, Why We Say Yes)

Can I see a show of hands from my Yes Gals? (Don’t worry, I won’t sign you up for anything!)

GIRLS. (And guys.) Is it just me or are we really seeing each other lately? We are speaking our truths and holding safe space for one another and good stuff is happening. (Tangentially, I love to write for the “me-too-moments”. Thanks for speaking up and saying “Me too!” It gives me so much joy.)

I think my last post hit a few of you in the feels. I’m not surprised because high tide rises all ships and I’m in constant awe of the amazing folks around me. We’re an unstoppable group. But maybe it’s not what we are doing, but why we do it that’s left some of us with a long list of to-dos and a short list of joys.

You are speaking out to me and saying “My relationships are not benefiting from the way I spend my time.” (MINE EITHER).
You are saying, “I have goals I can’t get to because I’m too busy with residual commitments.” (ME TOO).
You are saying, “Why aren’t I spending more time drinking on my patio?” (I DON’T KNOW.)

I have been in countless meetings, pen in hand, eyes averted, repeating to myself “Do not sign up. Do not sign up. Do not sign up.” It works about 40% of the time. I wrote about making space back in February and candidly, I’ve been struggling with it for a long time. How can we learn to deal?

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I think it might pay us to ask ourselves, why do we say “yes” so often anyway?

I don’t presume to speak for us all, Yes Gals, but here are my sneaking suspicions:

1. We want to be liked. I prefer to be seen as a reliable, interesting, well-rounded woman. With clever ideas. And a delicious brownie recipe. Who always wears nice shoes. The more I commit to, the more opportunity I have to impress. If I impress you, then you’ll like me. Right?

I suspect my Yes Gals are often grown up Teacher’s Pets. The “people pleaser” gene is dominant in our DNA and approval translates to acceptance. I’m not accusing us of all being insecure, but we are probably all a little bit insecure.

2. We’re arrogant. Somehow, alongside our insecurities, lives our arrogance. Yes Gals are a proud tribe. Put quite simply, we live by the mantra that “If you want something done right, just put it down right now and let me handle it, please.” We love to be seen as altruistic and there’s no question that we are generous, affectionate, and passionate. But curiously enough, we’re also certain that we are unique in our abilities to conduct a business meeting, host a reception, or plan a fundraising campaign.

There’s something unnerving about the idea of letting someone else have the reins. When the “Is anyone available for this” call is put out, we simultaneously imagine how successful it will be under our direction and what a mess it could become if someone else speaks up first.

3. We ignore the dataWe’ve planned an awful lot of parties in our day, haven’t we Yes Gals? We’re good planners because we’re creative. Creative folks have the perfect birthday banner tucked away and an idea for a cake that is going to just blow the lid off. We dream in showers and perfectly executed meeting agendas and awards banquets. We spend less time evaluating the facts.

We forget that everything takes longer than we think it will. We forget that we’ve never decorated a 6-tiered cake before. We pretend that we are obligated to follow through on a task that we didn’t have to commit to in the first place. We ignore our husbands (and wives) saying, “Wait a minute… Didn’t you just LEAVE a committee? Why are you chairing a new one?!” Mercy.


Here’s who benefits from our whacked out priorities: No one. Not our committee members who can tell we silently resent every volunteer meeting we sit through. Not our spouses who would love to get in some couch time with us. Not our personal goals that gather dust as another season passes. Not our spirits that deserve more tender treatment. We are only robbing from ourselves.

I don’t presume to know the best way to say more No and less Yes. But I think we need to be honest with ourselves, Yes Gals: We get high off the praise, we’re addicted to the attention, and we crave the acceptance. It might come in a pretty wrapper, but in my case, the day planner has some dirty little secrets to tell.

I, for one, deserve better. And you, reader and friend, do too. And so do your communities (your partners, families, friends). I pledge to commit only to that which sparks joy and to follow through for the right reasons. Our generosity should not be born of guilt and our gifts should not be given from obligation.

Yes Gals- welcome to the year of Thanks for Thinking of Me, but No.

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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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