This is Part 3 of my capsule wardrobe series (what have I become?), where I showcase crappy pictures of my clothes because that’s what you’re supposed to do.
It just got real.
I learned a lot about myself when I went through my existing wardrobe for my favorite clothes. Every third item was tossed aside with a “Do I ever wear this?” or “I don’t even like this thing, “This is cute but isn’t my style”…or the dreaded “I love this but it doesn’t fit.” (Being at home surrounded by junk food for 6 months will do this to a weak-willed human like me.) The clothes I selected were comfortable first of all, which was no surprise. What was a little more interesting was how neutral the color palette ended up being. Aside from my bright red heels, one red top, and a few scarves, everything ran gray, black, brown, and muted tones. Sure, I own (owned) lots of patterns and colors thanks to my mother, but they didn’t make the cut.
The below wardrobe is meant to last me at least through November and hopefully through February. I’m not going to be totally strict and prohibit the addition of a really nice sweater, should I happen upon one; but, for the most part, this thing is set.
I like my tops to be comfortable while also not looking frumpy. For me, the solution is button-downs. They’re versatile (roll up sleeves, keep them long, button, unbutton, tuck in, leave loose, with a skirt, with jeans…). If I find a style that flatters my body type, it can really boost my confidence.
I used to wear tee shirts all the time but at present I only have one outside of my pajamas, and it’s more a blouse than a tee shirt (I have a hard time counting long-sleeved shirts as tee shirts). My new favorite pull-over style of shirt is loose and flow-y, because, again, versatility.
Several years ago I was pretty skilled in the layering game. Lately, however, I’ve lost my touch and I’m trying to rediscover it. I can handle layering a cami and a shrug or cardigan, or a shirt and a blazer (blazers, man…), but shirts on shirts are harder. Once the weather gets a bit cooler, I’ll be attempting this with my striped shirt and navy button-down.
Note: My fall and winter coats (2 or 3) do not count here.
One of the first things I discovered while “researching” capsule wardrobes was blazers. I was instantly addicted, because – you guessed it – versatility. And I like looking sharp.
I already owned a blazer from when I first started this job and wanted to look nice and professional, but it was a short gray pin-stripe that went with a grand total of one skirt I hated wearing. For months I hunted for a good blazer, comparing styles and colors. I wanted one in navy blue, but then I found this perfect petite black blazer with polka-dot lining in the sleeves for $2.00 at a thrift store. Sold.
I’m also a huge fan of shrugs, especially with my straight-leg jeans and some flats.
Again, comfort comes first, but I’m less picky than with tops (and most maxi skirts don’t work with my figure). When it comes to pants and skirts, I tend to have to wear petite styles. I’m also really proud of my legs (thanks, Mom!), so most of my skirts hang around the knee.
There’s one skirt in this line-up that doesn’t really fit the idea of a capsule wardrobe, and that’s the brown one. Because it’s patterned, it doesn’t match with a lot of my tops or shoes (I can wear it comfortably with three or four tops and two pairs of shoes) and because it’s brown it doesn’t work with my blazer. However, it is the most comfortable skirt I own and it has pockets, so for now it’s staying.
I have a pair of dress slacks for the Thursdays where it’s obvious I haven’t shaved in a week and I’m not feeling my maxi skirt. The trouble is that I don’t wear my slacks as often as I’d like because, while they fit everywhere else, they’re much too loose in the waist.
I used to hate dresses. I think I was trying to convince myself I was a tomboy, even though I clearly wasn’t. Girls who wore dresses were annoying and weak and I didn’t want to be associated with them. Then there was the fact that I had terrible posture and liked to sprawl across furniture, which doesn’t work with dresses. Also, I hated people squeaking about how cute I looked.
I’ve since adjusted to receiving compliments and have upgraded my fashion sense to appreciate how useful dresses are. Don’t want to find a matching top and bottom? Dress. Going to an event that may be formal or may be business casual? Dress with a back-up belt. Not sure what the weather is going to be like? Dress and jacket. Want to look great in heels or flats? Dress.
I found the long-sleeved one at Target when I was supposed to be on a budget but Jo wanted to go shopping. (Target is to my closet what Taco Bell is to my diet, if you haven’t noticed.) On a whim I decided to try it on. Cue 10 minutes of moaning in despair because it was perfect.
The second dress I found at a thrift store. I don’t know why I picked it up; must have been the pockets or something. It has a lot of unexplored potential so I’m excited to play with it.
I also have a 50’s style polka dot dress in storage and I’m debating trading out a skirt to put it in my closet.
Once upon a time I was browsing in Maurice’s when I happened upon the cutest pair of turquoise heels I’d ever seen. This was when I was just getting into wearing heels and hadn’t become very bold yet, but the things were adorable.
Unfortunately, this was also when I legitimately didn’t have much in the way of income and had other plans for that money; and I was still too shy about heels to see how much potential these shoes had. They were cute, but I could’t justify the purchase.
Fast forward three or four years and I still think about those shoes. I also wonder when I started to care so much about shoes in general. This is the girl who used to live in boots and sneakers if she had to wear shoes at all. There were several items on my list of things I thought would be nice to have in my capsule wardrobe and about half of them were footwear: ankle boots, black flats, nude heels, and the ever-elusive turquoise heels. I’m perfectly fine now with my clothing being mostly black, gray, and brown because I know shoes make a good statement piece.
Now if I could just get my leg muscles built up, my high-heel game would be on point.
Someone help me; I don’t recognize myself any more.
I can’t help it. I love the authoritative sound of heels on hard floors. And I like feeling taller than my average (yes, average) height of 5’4″.
Note: Shoes are partially exempt from the buying ban, because several of these are cheap and wearing out. I would like a solid, long-lasting pair of black or dark patterned flats and, of course, turquoise or nude heels.
I’m not counting accessories in my limited number of items this time around, even though some people say you should. This includes my camis, because I would never wear them on their own, but always wear them under a top.
Among my accessories are a black fedora-type hat (again, how did I become the type of person who wears this?), a few belts, jewelry, and a few scarves and finger-less gloves.
I just spent 3 whole blog posts talking about clothes.
That’s the most you’re getting out of me when it comes to clothes. I’m a little disappointed in myself for taking this so far. But I said a year ago that there would be more posts in the way of lifestyle and this is fulfilling that promise. (Just wait until I find the best products to treat my acne. I will never shut up.) Don’t get your hopes up for pictures of how I wear these pieces. That’s simply too complicated for a hobby blog.
Adding it up, I only have 36 items, which is impressive considering the borderline-angst I experienced when I had to narrow down my list.
I feel funny saying all of this when I’ve met people in Peru with all of 5 pieces of clothing to their names. I also believe that the way a person dresses does not define them, though the world in general tends to disagree.
I hate coming off as an entitled 1st World blonde, so let me say this: my ultimate goal is to be a good steward of the things I’ve been given. I have a good job I try to treat seriously and professionally, which includes wearing appropriate dress if I want the people I work with to take me seriously. As a homeschool graduate, I have first-hand experience with the pitfalls of dressing like a recluse. I must also be a good steward of my resources, which means not wasting them on cheap clothing I’ll rarely – if ever – wear.
I don’t want to be the person who stares at an overflowing closet and cries in despair, “I have nothing to wear!” I hate having anything close to an overflowing closet because it reflects on my life in general: I have no control, I have no sense of what I can and can’t live without, I’m self-indulgent to a fault, and I’m wasteful.
While I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to stick to all of the rules that define a true capsule wardrobe, I’ve already taken away a lot of lessons. I’ll continue to pare down the items in my closet (including accessories, because I collect jewelry like a klepto, and don’t even get me started on the socks) until all that’s left are things I wear often and love. This means investing in some quality items in the future, of course, but only when I can do so responsibly and with restraint.
Note: Probably half of the items in this wardrobe were purchased, new or second-hand, within the past year. It has taken me this long to figure out my personal style. That is still evolving, however, and my new aim is to take what I know about my style and invest in clothing that is of higher quality than the Wal-Mart or Kohl’s clearance rack.