Closet 101

Lessons Learned + Tips I’m Using to Create My Spring Capsule

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I’ve written before about the many different lessons I’ve learned from practicing a capsule wardrobe (here, here, here, here, and here… whew!) and at the end/beginning of each capsule I find it very natural to do some reflecting — this is me doing just that.  ;)

I realize at this point that the term “capsule” has come to encompass different practices for many different people, but by and large the overarching principle to anyone who utilizes this idea is: to buy less and be content more.

But what is less and what is more?

About 3 months ago I was 6 months into my all seasons capsule wardrobe plan. Things weren’t great.  My “master list” just kept growing in my attempt to create the perfect wardrobe and instead of feeling content I simply wanted more.

It wasn’t until recently when Caroline over on UnFancy referred to her capsule wardrobe experiment as a “diet” (and having already read Drew’s take here), I realized something:

As much as I thought capsule wardrob-ing  had changed my ways, had permeated my skin, my habits and revolutionized my lifestyle —  it hadn’t. I wasn’t looking at it in a way that would ever allow me to really make that leap.

I liken it to the difference between (a)wanting to lose weight and using Jenny Craig to achieve that goal and (b) learning about nutrient dense foods, how much better they allow your body to work, how to prepare and cook them, desiring these foods, eating these foods in abundance and the rest falling into place. (Much like my own personal journey in discovering and desiring to cook and eat real food.)

I wanted to want to shop less. I wanted to want to be more content.

But I wasn’t. In reality I wasn’t any of those things and I pulled the plug on my “cleanse” too soon.

I am excited to say that with this reality having been unveiled to me over the last three months of being on my “capsule diet” I’m closer than ever to “(b)”. ;)

POST-WINTER CAPSULE CONCLUSIONS

1. I really don’t have to add color to my wardrobe just to “add some color to your wardrobe”.  I feel as if though this notion has just been pounded into my brain, because every time I take a step back to re-assess the aesthetic of my wardrobe overall it looks, well, really neutral.  All around me I hear people saying things like, “I need color in my life”, and the fashion industry touting “this seasons hot colors”, yadda yadda yadda… And some how all of that just seeps into my brain and ends up telling me that I need that color too. Except I don’t. I love wearing creams and greys and other earthy-ness. Texture is where I have my fun.

2.  Off white is the (my) new black. I’ve always relied on as black as a go to ‘color’ for myself.  But recently I’ve found that I actually really like an off white way better. Turns out it’s just as versatile. ;)

3. Heels aren’t completely non-functional. Over the winter all of my shoes were the exact same heel height. Ever since embarking on this capsule experiment I’ve realized how much power there is in having a small but varied selection of shoes.  I started to write of heels as just too impractical for hauling a 2 1/2 and 11 month old around on my hips — and perhaps the strappy, teetering kind still are, but a good solid ankle boot with some heel height would have been just the variety I needed for this past season.

PRE-SPRING CAPSULE STRATEGIES

1. Tees are my jam. Like my strawberry-ruhbarb-slathered-on-buttered-toast jam. People. I mom-it-up pretty hard around here. And that just means, that sometimes, I sweat a lot gosh darn it! Cotton, rayon, etc. all of these tee materials allow one to breathe and not feel like you’re wet and drowning in the polyester that is most dressier tops. (Albeit, I’ve never owned silk…) So, I’m just going to go with it.

2. Spice things up in the shoe department. Flats, heels, toes showing, toes not, sneakers, laces, print? It’s gonna be grand. ;)

3. Keep the shopping list short and simple. Just a handful of things. I’ve come to the realization that shopping is stressful and I enjoy the break.  I honestly just want to get what I need within my budget and be done this time around. (Growth?)

4. More secondhand my friend! I think this one is self explanatory?  I’ve written about thrifting here and here before — and still have one more to finish off the series hopefully next week! Also, I enjoyed Caroline’s recent thoughts on buying secondhand as well.

Anybody want to share plans they have for putting together/refreshing their spring wardrobes?

^^pictured above^^

TOPS: graphic tee (old, but still available!), shirt dress, buffalo check top, grid striped blouse, similar lace top, grey tee, dark grey marled tee, jean jacket (thrifted) – similar

SHOES: peep toe booties, sandals

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Andrea
    March 14, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    I’m six months in and struggling mightily. I live in London so what works one day, doesn’t work the next, and sometimes that sweater I wore at school drop off isn’t working come pick-up time. That’s where I find myself really struggling (and wondering if I’m using that as a cop-out excuse why it’s not working?) I have no problem donating things, I have several bags upstairs after yet another clear out, and I thought I knew what my style was. The biggest problem is the style I want (think Claire Underwood from House of Cards), doesn’t match my actual life (2 miles of walking a day minimum just getting my kids back nd forth to the bus stop). With uneven sidewalks, and a dog, heels and tights just aren’t practical.

    So I don’t really know where I’m headed as the sun has finally started to shine and temperatures have finally eased toward 50. I guess I still have a lot more work to do!

    • Reply
      Laura
      March 14, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing Andrea — and I feel ya on the heels thing! Most days I’m in boots when I leave the house right now (of the rain, duck or work variety). Springtime in rural Ohio means lots and LOTS of mud. Sending encouraging thoughts and warm fuzzies from across the pond! ;) Navigating personal style and real life can be tricky business, but I love the tone of commitment you have in the thoughts you’ve shared. :)

  • Reply
    Lauren @ Lauren, Etc.
    March 15, 2016 at 12:00 am

    I love this post so much. I probably say that about all of your posts, Laura, but it is TRUTH. Towards the end of my fall/winter capsule, I was like “this was a mistake!” I felt like I needed to shop and add more. Really I just needed to take away the pieces that weren’t working. And wait patiently for spring to come. And never do a 5 month capsule again. And also go on a 90 day shopping ban – which I’m halfway through at this point :) With that in mind, my strategy this season is only wear what I love and what I would feel comfortable running around the park in/carrying two wild toddlers/getting covered in whatever that sticky stuff is that’s always all over my kids’ hands. I’m also going to accept all facets of my style; which means finding a way to mix wild Lilly Pulitzer prints with classic J.Crew pieces. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of your spring capsule! I love off-white, too! It must be because we’re deep autumn complexions ;)

    • Reply
      Laura
      March 15, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      Lol. Well, I always love positive feedback? ;) And I love everything about the reflections you’ve shared. Also, yay for fellow deep autumns! *fist bumps*

  • Reply
    Julia
    March 15, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Hi Laura! Interesting conclusions! I always love your reflective posts (and for what it’s worth, I find you much more relatable than Caroline — no shade, but she’s very clearly protective of her emotional privacy, (which is completely her right!), but consequently I feel like she only gives her readers the tiniest glimpse of her process, which is why I’ve sort of lost interest in her blog. I prefer yours and Grechen’s Closet much more these days!) While I don’t do a capsule wardrobe myself, I do have all my clothes currently hanging on one side of my closet (annnnnd it’s a walk-in, but hey, it’s WAY less than when I used to have several tubs in the basement full of “fancy” clothes, “winter” clothes, “winter” shoes, etc). I had a baby four months ago, and although I’m back to my pre-preg weight (and mostly shape?), a lot of my dressing is different now. Heels, for instance. I’ve always loved them, but I think you’re right, a solid ankle boot is a mother’s best friend. And don’t sweat the silk — it’s always been one of my go-to fabrics, but I’m super afraid to wear it around baby because, well, those pieces are too pretty to get dirty and I don’t have disposable income for dry cleaning!

    And, heck yeah, thrifting is the way to go! Ebay thrifting is my jam. This spring, I’ve added two pairs of shoes (textured vintage clogs and chunky, walkable leather sandals), a pair of 3×1 denim culottes, a pair of AG high-waisted jeans, and a Madewell crop top to wardrobe all for under $100 by careful ebaying. I live in Iowa now, so the in-person thrifting isn’t so hot :-( But staying stylish second hand absolutely can be done. I’m not sure about remaining content, because it only ever works for me in short bursts (for months I couldn’t think of anything I “needed” — but suddenly, I can think of five *more* pieces I’d love to add to my wardrobe. But that will have to wait until next month.

    I love your blog — I would love to see even more updates! But of course I know how busy mom’s are. But you’ve got fans, girl!

    • Reply
      Laura
      March 15, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      Thanks Julia! What an awesome compliment! Also, TOTALLY on the EBay thrifting: the last of the thrifting series post in working on for next week will hopefully include some of my specific strategies… Although it may warrant a post all its own. I really am working hard to post more often, my near term goal is three times a week! (Which seems almost impossible with still working 20 hours a week outside the house and with babies who won’t seem to sleep unless I am…!) BUT progress > perfection so, one day at a time. You have no idea how much I appreciate this kind of feedback. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my blog mama!

  • Reply
    Julia
    March 15, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    Oh and I would *love* to see a post from you about where/how you dress your children, if that’s something that interests you and/or you had time. They always look so adorable in your IG feed!

    • Reply
      Laura
      March 15, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      You’re not the first to mention this, and I would love to share about dressing my kiddos.( And thank you by the way!) I’ll have to come up with a post but, in a nutshell I buy almost all their clothes secondhand from our local Once Upon a Child. I then buy a couple new “statement” pieces I’ve had my eye on: a graphic tee from this small shop, an adorable hat from Gap that just went on sale, an maybe just one splurge that is really versatile. And I must say that my mom helps out a ton. She loves to buy them pajamas and shoes all along. With my kiddos being the first in line we don’t have any hand me downs that come our way, so it makes a huge difference. Fortunately our youngest has been able to use all of Wyatt’s clothes (even they were born in different seasons) so I’ve been able to buy a couple fun additions to spice stuff up.

  • Reply
    Floor
    March 18, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    I started updating my capsule wardrobe in the last weeks and I came to some similar conclusions. I only want to wear clothes I really really love. A lot of them happen to be black and dark blue. I need only a few bottoms but more diversity in the shoe department. For me they transform every outfit from casual to polished. The most important thing: it should be fun! Sometimes I wear something from last season. It is ok. I am rediscovering how much fun the process is.

  • Reply
    Eleftheria
    April 6, 2016 at 9:45 am

    Hello Laura! Greetings from Greece!
    I really enjoyed your post and especially the idea that you decided to
    Customize the concept of a capsule wardrobe to your needs.
    That’s great!

  • Reply
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