My Capsule Wardrobes

My Uniform Style / Fall 2016

Last time I shared a wardrobe update with you I was thick-as-thieves with the whole *capsule wardrobe* process. The capsule wardrobe has provided me with the structure I needed to curate a well thought-out closet and served as an invaluable tool in helping me refine and own my sense of style.

But (you knew there was a but coming didn’t you?) by the end of summer I started having the same unsettling feelings I did my first go around and my aspirations again turned toward a simple, versatile *year round* wardrobe.

I recognized that a seasonal capsule wardrobe seemed to serve me well during periods of great change (pregnancy, postpartum, etc.), but once those rapid fluctuations started to level out, my mind no longer needed to fragment and re-frame time into short three month chunks (at least when it comes to my closet.) I started to feel like I was actually on a “closet diet” — as opposed a long term “healthy eating” approach. So, (again) after some lengthy deliberation I’ve decided to reframe this style journey of mine (yet again) and begin focusing on creating a well curated wardrobe of simple, versatile, personal pieces that have the potential to be worn year round — with an emphasis on seasonal planning and identifying uniform styles that serve me well.

My Uniform Style / Fall 2016

PUTTING TOGETHER MY FALL WARDROBE

I’m willing to bet that if you’re reading this that you are no stranger to the word uniform in regards to style.  In all my experimentation with refining my own personal style I have found uniforms, or outfit recipes if you will, to be extremely valuable in achieving my goal of a no-fuss/well-put-together wardrobe.  So, after I first put all of my “off season” pieces back into my closet, I then focused on the task of some serious wardrobe planning for fall.

PLANNING PROCESS + HOW I CHOSE MY PIECES

1. COMPLETE WARDROBE PLANNER

As long as I have been a Unfancy fan I’ve never once actually filled out her little gem of a wardrobe planner. YOU GUYS. Game changer.  You can download the planner here for yourself and check out Caroline’s example planner.  And then, if that’s not enough inspiration for you, feel free to check out my fall wardrobe planner. (Note* there were a few insignificant changes I made after scanning this bad boy, but you get the idea.)

WHAT’S WORKING + WHAT’S NOT

This section helped pinpoint and summarize in one neat little space all of the mental notes I make as I: sift through pieces in my closet, create outfits and wear said outfits.

Simple, no-fuss pieces with easy care fabrics (like denim and cotton) with a neutral yet warm color story are what’s working for me right now.  And pieces that are too tight, non-conducive to small children antics or are overstimulating in the color department just flat out are not.

LIFESTYLE, SPECIAL EVENTS AND WEATHER

I’ve found that I’m pretty good at estimating how I spend my everyday: whether that be at home on the floor playing ‘tractors’ with my boys, at the office or out for the occasional date night.  Writing all of this down in pie chart form helps solidify a visual to recall when tempted to buy another special occasion shirt… you know because I’m totally dropping it like it’s hot every Friday night (and not going to bed at, ahem, 10pm…)

WORD ASSOCIATION

This little section was by far the most enlightening and fun section of the planner for me.  It definitely pushed me to really think about how I describe my style and to reach past your typical “classic”, “modern”, “sporty” or “bohemian” descriptors. Among my top picks were: effortless, casual, feminine, simple, comfortable, balanced and imperfect.

COLOR PALETTE

Creating a cohesive color palette has been a huge contributing factor to the successes I’ve made in curating a wardrobe as opposed to just adding pieces to a closet. Finding a color palette that jives with me really has just come down to experimentation as well as laying aside the notion that I have to dress with the entire rainbow — instead of only the colors I love.  It’s funny, because as a distinct color palette fell into place within my wardrobe I also noticed the same color palette in all areas of my life i.e., home decor, boy’s wardrobes, etc.. What can I say? I love me some denim, cream, charcoal, black, olive, muted blue and oxblood. :)

2.  INITIAL EDIT (CHOOSE TO LOVE + IDENTIFY GAPS )

After completing all but the shopping list section of the planner I first began with my initial edit (as I call it).  As I did with my summer capsule edit I, again, used the Stylebook app (for Android users check out Stylicious) to visually edit and curate this season’s wardrobe revisions.  You can read a little more detail about my process here, but I like editing my overall closet this way because you can see everything at once and it allows you to assess the overall aesthetic of your wardrobe. It provides the opportunity to be able to answer questions like: Is it cohesive? Are there any glaring gaps? Redundancies? Does the vibe fit your core style?

This time around I found myself using a little bit different terminology and placed more focus on choosing to love pieces that I already owned (and reinvesting in them — i.e. getting shoes resoled and de-pilling all of my sweaters, etc.) in lieu of creating a staggering list of new additions.  It felt good to show a little TLC to some of my well-loved pieces instead of stressing about replacing them.

My Uniform Style / Fall 2016

3. CREATE A SHOPPING LIST + A BUDGET

After shopping my own closet I then made a shopping list of pieces I wanted to add new or secondhand.  I’ve been doing better at adding fewer and fewer pieces each season since practicing a capsule wardrobe — and this season I had originally only planned on adding 3-4 pieces — but when a few pieces I’ve had my eye on for over a year  (and had earmarked for winter purchases)  became available via secondhand options I couldn’t pass up adding them in a little early. (Again, you can read a little more detail about this process in this blog post.)

4. TEST SHOPPING LIST ITEMS WITH THE ‘THREE RULES OF THREE’ (OR OTHER TARGETED CHARACTERISTICS)

Way back Caroline shared a rule of three that I thought really worked to help diversify pieces across clothing type and add a tremendous amount of versatility to one’s closet. Over time I began to identify a couple other ‘rules of three’ that seemed to keep emerging every time I crafted a new capsule — and I now use them all as a checklist of sorts when adding pieces to my closet.

You can read more in detail in this post, but my ‘three rules of three’ are:

The piece works in at least three of the spheres you dress for (I have four spheres, mine are: mom, office, social, and farm)

You can create three different looks with the new addition when paired with three other pieces you already have in your closet

Include three of each kind (the UnFancy rule of three): 1 plain + 1 statement + 1 in-between

5. ACQUIRE + TRY EVERYTHING ON AT HOME

Again, this step stinks.

Why? Because it takes (so much) time! But it’s worth it to not skip this step.  This way you can test the new piece with other pieces in your closet to make sure your envisioned ‘three rules of three’ were a reality (and not imaginary) — and that it really is worth the buy!

6. FINAL EDIT

After I’ve completed all of the above steps and added any new pieces into my Stylebook app, I again view “all items in _____” to assess the overall aesthetic.

It’s usually at this point that I begin to make much more calculated edits:

I have A LOT of grey tops.  I like grey. Grey looks good on me. Maybe I’ll think before adding another grey top but I’m not about to ditch any of the ones I have.

My denim shirt dress shrunk in the wash and is too short now… I know! I’ll refashion it into a shirt.  I’ve been thinking about adding a dark wash chambray top anyway. Great way to re-purpose + experiment.

The dark floral maxi dress is just SO PRETTY, but I’m not sure it’s practical enough for me to wear every week.  Suck it up and return it. Maybe get those overalls instead?

Of course these are all examples specific to my own fall wardrobe edits, but I hope they’ll give you some insight as to what sorts of questions I ask myself and therefore you could ask as well. :)

My Uniform Style / Fall 2016

PIECES THAT WERE ADDED (WHERE THEY CAME FROM AND WHY I ADDED THEM)

This season I added seven new (or new to me) pieces to my closet and replaced three pieces. (Oof. That sounds like a lot…! Trying to be transparent here folks…)

1. Cognac tall boot (secondhand), same here  – I’ve had a classic tall boot on my wish list for well over a year. And although my love affair with ankle boots has only grown, I still love a well styled riding boot.  I found mine secondhand on Ebay at just the right price. They are fabulous and foresee getting a lot of use out of them as colder weather settles in.

2. Suede pump (secondhand) – Again, I’ve had these on my wish list for over a year as well (and again and Ebay find) These were more of a work wardrobe addition that will easily play nice with other pieces in my closet for more special occasions as well. I LOVE the subtle textural interest they have because they are suede instead of patent or shiny.

3. Medium wash skinny jean (secondhand replacement), similar here and here – I was able to score these babies secondhand (Ebay) to replace the medium wash skinny jeans I had but no longer fit.  Since I’d never bought Madewell jeans before I was extremely worried about sizing! I took my measurements (and now keep them on hand) and called up my local Madewell to compare notes. The woman I spoke with was EXTREMELY helpful and spent a great deal of time answering all my questions to determine fit and sizing, so if you’re in the same boat I would highly recommend taking the same route.

My Uniform Style / Fall 2016

4. Basic shirt dress, c/o Mindy Mae’s Market (replacement) – sold out – So my old Target chambray shirt dress finally shrunk just a bit too much to be considered a dress. Wompwomp. Having a shirt dress while nursing has been nothing short of a God send. It’s just so easy to throw on a dress and feel put together, but that simplicity is complicated when you have to coordinate an non-nursing friendly dress with a very nursing friendly baby.  Thurser was still nursing when I added this piece and has since weened, but I supposed that’s the added beauty of it — it’s not specific to nursing or postpartum but accommodates those time periods all the same. :)

5. Faded black skinny jean (secondhand replacement), similar here – ^^Ditto to the other jeans above.^^

6. Cognac ankle boot (secondhand) , similar hereI added these after I went all last fall/winter with out a lick of height in the heel department. Like nada. Flats are totally practical and I wear them most of the time, but just adding a couple of inches to a pair of ankle boots to make for a totally walkable heel has been like a breath of fresh air when getting dressed — especially when getting dress for things other than the grocery story.

7. Grey chunky knit sweater – I added this piece just recently because I identified that most of my cold weather clothes involve several layers.  Now, I’m a huge fan of layering to add not only warmth but style… BUT I wanted just one or two pieces that were cold weather appropriate without all the layering. Especially during this transitional weather where it’s not quite cold enough for my thicker knit sweaters.  This one’s been on heavy repeat in the short amount of time I’ve had it.

8. Beige fine knit sweater (H&M Concious)  – ^^Ditto.^^

9. Rust knit sweater – I added this piece for the same reasons as listed for the previous two pieces; but also because I wanted to add a warmer neutral to the mix as well as add a new option in the way of silhouettes. Most of my tops are flowy, boxy or oversized (and I love them all.) And while this one is still loose in all the right places, the shorter length of the piece offers a few different styling options than I currently have with all of my over sized sweaters.  Excited to put my theories to the test on this one. ;)

10 .Madewell skinny overalls (secondhand), similar here I tried these bad boys on in store shortly after Thurser was born… So going on two years ago!  I LOVED them. I loved the way they fit and I just felt like they were me… you know?  But I convinced myself I was only lusting after a trend — and that they were WAY too expensive and never got them. That is until I still found myself loving them 18 months later.  So you better believe that when they popped up under the pre-owned section on Ebay for only a fraction of the price I jumped on them. :)

My Uniform Style / Fall 2016

Uniform style, four go-to looks for fall (1)PLANNING FOR UNIFORM STYLE

I’ve mentioned before that one of the reasons I was so enamored with the idea of a capsule wardrobe (and curating an *actual* wardrobe in general) is largely due because I suffer from decision fatigue. And don’t we all?

For me planning for uniform style throughout a season is proving to be just an extension of the overall planning process. By pre-planning a few go-to outfit recipes and formulas I can further reduce the fuss it takes to get dressed while also pulling together a look I feel good in.

All of these uniforms were created by simply reflecting on notes I’ve taken over the last several months on what I like vs. don’t like and what works vs. doesn’t work. Using past experiences + feedback to make for less overall closet fuss.

 

 THE BREAK DOWN: MY GO TO UNIFORMS (FOR FALL)

I feel like I’ve already written a novel here so I’m going to let these images do most of the talking. ;)

ONEstyle uniform no 1, jacket + casual dress + ankle boot + leather bagwarm layer + casual dress + ankle boot + leather bag

This uniform, at this point, has been phased out for me simply because it’s gotten cold here in Ohio — but was plenty useful up until about two-three weeks ago. (I realize I’m blogging about this backwards here, but I think the info is valuable enough to share previous to planning winter wardrobes…) I love how it’s easy, a little bit undone and approachable, but still feels complete.  For me it’s especially dynamic when I pair a masculine piece (like the military jacket) with a feminine piece (my flowy grey tee dress) and then don’t get too matchy-matchy with my shoes and bag.

TWOstyle uniform no 2, button down + skinny jeans + ankle boots + hat

panama hat + button down + skinny jean + ankle boot

Over the last couple of years I have acquired a handful of well-loved versatile button downs. For me they remain an no-fail way to be comfy and pulled together at the same time.  They have proven themselves to be true wardrobe workhorses during postpartum and nursing time periods and when tied around your waist add both style and utility to your look. (Hello! No changing pad? Well then, let me just take off this layer here and voila — makeshift changing table.) Throw another layer on (jacket/coat/thick sweater) and this look can totally transition into the colder fall weather rolling in.

THREEstyle uniform no 3, basic tee, jacket, skinny jean and tall boot

jacket + basic tee + skinny jean + tall boot

While I love a good ankle boot, I must say that I’m happy to have a classic tall boot back in my closet. For me, this look is polished just enough, but just enough not at the same time.  I like to wear relatively classic pieces in a very casual way. For an even more polished look you could throw your hair up into a neat top not, or for an even more undone look you could add a slouchy beanie. I bought this one last year — LOST IT — and am blessed enough that my sister gifted me one to replace it for my birthday this year. Still pretty smitten over its slouch factor.

FOURstyle uniform no 4, cozy knits + skinny jeans + ankle boot + hat

hat + cozy knit + skinny jean + ankle boot

And last but not least: this recipe will be seeing a lot of action over the next few weeks as we transition into full blow winter.  And although this outfit completely stands alone with out the wide brimmed hat, I think that the hat is also what elevates this look from basic to effortless.  It seems counterintuitive that adding a piece would make it feel more effortless, and yet it totally does. I think it adds that slightly tomboy/feminine cool vibe… right?

My Uniform Style / Fall 2016

GENERAL REFLECTIONS

Overall the use of outfit recipes has proven extremely beneficial for me this season and I remain confident in my decision to navigate away from using a capsule wardrobe. As we approach the month of December (and the bitter cold winter season around these parts) I’m becoming more mindful as to how I can use some of my experiences (in regards to dressing with a few uniforms) over this past fall to help plan and further refine ‘getting dressed’ for this winter.

That’s it for today!  And as always — whew!  

On Wednesday I will be sharing with you four examples of my four uniforms in a (gasp!) outfit post. ;)  As well as sharing with you another new/big undertaking for me on the wardrobe front — stay tuned! :)

. . .

If you liked today’s post, you can shop it and support The Lovely Laura Life at the same time by using these affiliate links:

UNIFORM NO. 1

01 | utility jacket (old), similar and similar made responsibly

02 | t-shirt dress, (old) similar (also made in USA)

03 | chelsea boot (old), similar made responsibly

04 | leather backpack diaper bag c/o Lily and Jade

UNIFORM NO. 2

01 | panama hat (old), similar made in usa

02 | cream flannel, similar

03 | medium wash jeans (secondhand), similar

04| ankle boot (old), similar made responsibly

UNIFORM NO. 3

01 | jean jacket (old), similar

02 | white tee (made in USA)

03 | faded black skinny jean (secondhand), similar

04 | tall boot (secondhand), similar and exact secondhand

UNIFORM NO. 4

01 | panama hat (old), similar made in usa

02 | knit sweater (old), similar made responsibly

03 | faded black skinny jean (secondhand), similar

04 | chelsea boot (old), similar made responsibly

Want to see a list of some of my go-to retailers + where to shop responsibly? Check out this list.

. . .

What do you think of ‘uniform style’? Do you use it when planning out your wardrobe and/or wardrobe purchases? What’s one of your go-to looks or outfit formulas for fall? 

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Paige
    November 14, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    I love this wardrobe update, Laura! And I recognize so much of my journey in it, so it’s nice to relate to and reflect on my own wardrobe. I have recently noticed that my house is decorated in the same colors I have finally embraced as my palette for my closet!! I hope all is well.
    Xo,
    Paige

  • Reply
    Maria
    November 16, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    Love this! I’m all about the uniform these days. The boots and hats are a great way to add style and interest in the fall/winter. You’ve inspired me to go hat shopping!

  • Reply
    Michelle Robertson
    February 26, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Oh my gosh, I never thought of a rotating uniform! I love that idea. I have been considering project 3 33 but I honestly think I’d be adding items to my closet to hit 33 rather than the intended reducing to 33. I have definitely struggled with dressing my body post baby, only problem is my baby is 5 :) I’m struggling with accepting this is the body I have now. I keep putting off investing in nice pieces because I tell myself pretty soon I’ll lose weight and what I spent will be a waste. But I’ve been telling myself that for 3 years now. I’m definitely going to spend more time looking for nice, secondhand items. Just found your blog through Becoming Minimalist, loving it. Thanks Laura!

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