Summer Capsule Wardrobe 2016: The Last One

summer capsule wardrobe

Another season has gone by, which means it’s time to roll out my summer capsule wardrobe. Since I don’t need to wear sweaters, blazers or really anything warm in the summer, this season’s capsule wardrobe looks a bit light. Maybe sparse is a better word.

At any rate, counting shoes, there are 33 pieces in it, not all of which are pictured here. The wellies in the photo are actually not really part of the capsule either, they just happened to be in the closet when I took the picture. Here’s a layout of most of the capsule:

 

Summer Capsule 2016

Not every shirt is pictured above, because I couldn’t find photos of a few older tops online. But, you can get the general gist of the summer capsule wardrobe from the set.

A few thoughts about capsules. One, I’m kind of over the idea. It was fun at first, picking out pieces from my closet each season and spending a lot of time making lists of what was in my capsule, taking photos of outfits, and what not. But, now I feel it’s a bit tedious. Although I long ago dispensed with the idea that I needed to only have 33 or 37 or whatever pieces in my wardrobe, taking the time to sift through everything every three months got old after about six months. Plus, since I’m wearing pretty much the same clothes season after season the big reveal got pretty dull. It wasn’t like I was going out and getting an entire new wardrobe each season.

Two, although I don’t think I’ll officially be putting together capsules for the next few seasons, I do appreciate the idea. I used to shop a lot. Now I don’t. I probably buy  more  clothing that people who don’t care about clothing, but I now put a lot of thought into what I buy, versus just grabbing stuff because it was on sale or because I thought I needed to have an orange skirt in my closet (that happened last summer . . . ).

Three, everyone’s always talking about personal style these days. Although I’ve argued that capsules don’t need to be boring, I have found myself leaving the house in some of the dullest outfits known to humankind. Which isn’t my personal style, at all. I do love a great navy and black outfit, but I also love print and color. And sometimes, the capsule wardrobe limited me to a white button up and basic pencil skirt, which, ick. A capsule can help you define your style, but sometimes I felt it was doing that opposite of that, painting me into a weird corner.

In sum, the limits of a capsule wardrobe definitely  helped me get my clothes spending and buying under control. But, I didn’t find that really  helped me hone in on my style, necessarily. I learned that I like dresses a lot, I’m not super into chunky jewelry, and that most button front shirts just don’t work on my frame (which is unfortunate, but oh well), but I don’t think I always applied those lessons to my capsule. It was occasionally difficult to work with the pieces in my capsule to put together outfits I really felt great in, (at least during the spring). Maybe this is all to say that I write about fashion and clothing, and I still have no idea what to wear a lot of the time.Save

Spring Capsule Wardrobe Check In: A Few Outfits

Oh, hey, it’s already the middle of May, which means just a few more weeks for my spring capsule wardrobe. I haven’t done an outfit roundup for this season’s capsule just yet, maybe because the dreary cold and then hot and then cold again weather hasn’t been particularly inspiring, from a sartorial standpoint. At any rate, here’s few examples of what I did with my spring capsule wardrobe:

spring capsule wardrobe outfit

Spring Capsule Wardrobe Outfit 1: Casual

So, funny story about this outfit, which is made up of the circle mini skirt from J.Crew and the silk tuxedo blouse from J.Crew. I was walking down the street, to the post office, when I walked by two kids. I guess they were around 12 or so. One of them said to me, “I like your shirt.” So I said thanks, because I am a polite person. Then he said, “psyche” because he is not a polite person.

Snarky commentary from neighborhood kids aside, I like this outfit. Navy and black is a combination I find myself wearing more and more these days, as it’s an easy way to look pulled together, and the navy makes the black just a bit more interesting.

spring capsule wardrobe outfit 2

Spring Capsule Wardrobe Outfit 2: Work

Here’s we’ve got the Holland dress from Boden (spring 2015), worn with the St. Ambroeus jardigan from MM LaFleur. It’s a simple look that is pulled together and professional. I’m not super sure about the gray tights with the green and indigo, but they seem like a better option than opaque black.

spring capsule wardrobe outfit 3

Spring Capsule Wardrobe Outfit: Work 2

Here’s a double dose of MM LaFleur for you. It’s the Toi Dress worn with the Graham kimono. The Toi Dress is up there on my list of favorites, as is the kimono, so I thought, why not wear them together. I was a bit concerned about the greens clashing, but I think they work well together. What do you think?

spring capsule wardrobe

Spring Capsule Wardrobe Outfit: Work 3

I wrote about this outfit already, in my post about how capsules don’t have to be boring. But, here it is again in case you  missed that post or just wanted to see it again. It’s a pencil skirt from Banana Republic and a button front, printed shirt from J.Crew Factory. I’m usually disappointed by the quality of Factory, compared to regular J.Crew, but the fit of their button front shirts tends to be spot on. While I’m usually drowning in a 4 from standard J.Crew, an XS from Factory is pretty much a perfect fit.

spring capsule wardrobe

Spring Capsule Wardrobe Outfit: Work/Class

I wore this outfit to my first day of French class, back at the beginning of March when it was something like 75 degrees. Hence the bare legs. It’s a silk sleeveless top from Everlane, a skirt from Kate Spade and the jardigan again. It looks maybe a little too pulled together for my taste, and I really don’t know what is going on with that pose.

To be honest, I ended up pulling the Kate Spade skirt from the capsule. I still have it, and plan on bringing it out for the summer. But, it’s been too chilly really not to wear tights (the one day aside), and the skirt is too flippy and lightweight to work well with a pair of opaques.

 

Capsule Wardrobes Don’t Have to Be Boring

capsule wardrobes

As with any trendy thing that gets big on the Internet, there’s been a bit of a backlash against capsule wardrobes of late. Hey, even I wrote up a piece on how they aren’t a cure-all. The latest complaint seems to be that capsules are limiting and boring. That if you make a capsule you’re stuck wearing the same black-gray-name another neutral color here combos day in and day out.

Of course, it’s entirely possible to make a capsule that’s totally boring. Some people like being boring when it comes to dressing and are perfectly happy wearing the same plain clothes everyday.

I’m not one of them, and I don’t  think a lot of people are. But, I also don’t think capsule wardrobes are by definition boring. What I do think is that it’s about having an idea of what you like, then finding ways to have those items work in multiple areas of your closet.  capsule wardrobe outfit spring

Not a Boring Outfit 1

Case in point, the outfit above. It’s made out of two frequently worn pieces in my capsule, an emerald green pencil skirt from Banana Republic (they seem to have discontinued this style, at least in the rainbow of colors, but here’s a similar one) and a printed button down from J.Crew Factory (similar). I’ve had both of these pieces for years now. They’re definitely not neutral colors, but I still manage to get plenty of wear from them:

capsule_collage

In fact, the patterned button up has been in each of my seasonal capsules so far. The pencil’s been in the fall and spring capsule wardrobes, because it’s unlined and just not warm enough to wear in winter.

Are Capsule Wardrobes Stressful?

Two things inspired me to write this post. One was the sea of “X things every woman needs in her capsule wardrobe” posts around the Internet and the general notion that your capsule needs to fit into a set model, and the other was this post on the Financial Diet, bemoaning capsule wardrobes as a source of stress.

I understand that everyone’s different, but part of the reason why I started capsuling was to cut down on the stress of a too-full closet. Putting a limit in place (rotating through 35 or so pieces each season) keeps me from just acquiring clothing that I think I like, but then don’t wear and then feel guilty about not wearing. I can understand that a capsule would be stressful if  you’re doing it to try to fit into some mold you think you should fit into, rather than doing it to help yourself develop your own sense of style and to figure out what you really like to wear.

In short, if you’re  considering a capsule because you think it will transform you into some magical being who’s got everything figured out, don’t. You won’t end up happy and your wardrobe will only make you feel lacking. But, if you’ve got a problem with excessive consumption, have limited space in your home, or want to focus on wearing clothes that actually  make you happy, a capsule might be the best thing to ever happen to your closet.

A Capsule Wardrobe Isn’t a Panacea

The other day, I had so much trouble figuring out what to wear, despite the capsule wardrobe. It was a Saturday in March and after a few days of warm weather, we were dealing with 40 degree temperatures and the potential for snow (it ended up being just rain). Usually, my weekend outfit is jeans + top (usually a T-shirt, sometimes a silk blouse as seen below). This this Saturday, I dunno. I just couldn’t get it together. I tried this outfit:

 

capsule wardrobe

 

Then this one (switching the cardigan for a “jardigan“):

 

capsule wardrobe

 

Then I tried a different top with the jardigan, but didn’t bother to take a picture because it didn’t look quite right (I’m not sure that the jardigan with the loose floral blouse looks quite right, either).

Then I tried the jardigan with a mock-neck black top from Reformation. That looked a little weird. So I tried it with a green kimono from MM LaFleur. I thought it made my hips look particularly big. Then I tried the kimono with the floral blouse. Good god, no.

So, I finally went back to the first outfit, pictured above. I wasn’t totally sold on it, but it was the best of what I’d tried.

This all took about 30 minutes, which got me thinking about the fact that even though I have a capsule wardrobe, and every thing’s supposed to be all planned and so easy, I still have to deal with days when I have feel as though I have nothing to wear.

It’s definitely not my closet or my clothing choices. In some ways (in most ways), it’s me. Here’s what I realized after changing my outfit more times than I want to count on Saturday:

Capsule Wardrobe Problem 1: Finicky Weather

The first few weeks of a  capsule are going to be a bit tricky, particularly during transitional seasons (Spring and Fall). When winter hits (or Dec. 1, in my capsule world), the weather’s already gone cold. When summer happens (June 1, for my capsule), it’s already very hot. Consistent weather makes planning pretty easy.

But, things are a bit more up in the air in spring and fall, especially this year, when we had a mild winter, and a lot of up and down in terms of temperature. During the first few weeks of March, we effectively saw four-season weather – days when it was 80 degrees, days when it was around 50, and days in the low 40s/high 30s, with a chance of snow. How can you plan for that with a limited selection of clothing?

It all means that you can’t wear a sleeveless shirt on its own when you want to and you have to plan for layers, even if you’re ready to wear pack away your winter gear and start wearing light jackets or blazers by themselves.

I tried to plan for great fluctuations in weather in my wardrobe, by including cardigans and blazers, even though I’m fairly sure I won’t be wearing them come the end of April and into May. But, the idea of having to wear winter gear (heavy coat, scarf, gloves) when I’m ready for spring made me quite cranky and compounded the issue on that Saturday.

Capsule Wardrobe Problem 2: Finicky Me

Ugh, we’ve all got body issues, right? Mine are my hips. Sometimes, they just feel puffy and fat. I’m a pear shape, so I’m always self conscious about outfits drawing attention to the widest area of my body. And on Saturday, that’s what it felt like everything I put on was doing.

Adding to the problem was the fact that I’m not so sure I like jeans. I guess they look OK, but I also feel that they aren’t that flattering on me. I also always feel like the thighs and waist aren’t quite right. Maybe I should just not have them? I dunno.

Even though I feel that I know my style, there are still times when I veer away from what I like wearing, because I feel like I should be wearing jeans, even if they don’t make me happy or make me feel good.

Capsule Wardrobe Problem 3: Falling Behind on Laundry/Ironing

I’ve got three long-sleeve, button front shirts in this season’s capsule. On that Saturday, they were all a wrinkled mess because I hadn’t gotten around to ironing them. So, even though it was cold out and a long sleeved shirt, versus a sleeveless blouse, would have made sense, I was stuck with picking a sleeveless top and layering over it.

A few things I’ve done to solve the laundry issue is to reduce the number of cotton tops that require ironing that I own. I’ve also gotten a bit better about ironing (I did it the evening of the outfit debacle), by finding ways to make it a bit more enjoyable (I put on Legally Blonde while ironing).

I could go a step further and find a way to make ironing easier to do. Right now, my system is to drag out the creaky ironing board, lug it downstairs, set it up in front of the TV, then grab the iron from upstairs and whatever needs to be ironed. It’s not the most efficient system, so maybe if I improve that, I won’t end up with several unwearable, unironed garments in my closet.

Have you faced any issues with your capsule?

Spring Capsule Wardrobe

March started to come in like a lamb, but then changed its mind and came in like that proverbial lion, bringing with it crazy gusty winds and somewhat chilly temperatures. Ah well, I was committed to switching over to my spring capsule wardrobe, so switch over I did.
spring capsule wardrobe

I made a few changes to my rules for this season. Since it’s dress season, I decided to have a separate section for not everyday dresses. That way, I’m not giving a spot in my wardrobe to a dress that I might only wear a few times. Solid color, day dresses did get included in my capsule, though. I also decided not to include outerwear, since again, as the temperatures warm up, I’ll be less likely to wear a coat or jacket outdoors. I did include blazers, though.

All told, I ended up picking a collection of 37 items, six of which might be new additions to my closet, but I’ve only purchased two new items so far.

Spring Capsule Wardrobe: TopsSpring Capsule 2016 - Tops

I ended up with 14 tops and blouses in this season’s capsule, but I haven’t actually purchased a few of them yet,  namely some basics from Everlane, such as a navy blue pima t-shirt, a white Pima tank, and a sleeveless silk blouse. Most of the tops are sleeveless, which might seem like a strange choice for spring, but I also had many of those shirts in my winter capsule and got by layering them beneath cardigans or jackets, so I plan on doing that for the chillier part of the season.

The capsule is a lot more basic this time around — I’ve even included solid color T’s, which I usually conveniently left out. The number is also smaller, I think because I’ve realized that really, I don’t need that many different tops, especially if I wear a lot of dresses.

Spring Capsule: Cardigans and Jackets

Spring Capsule 2016 - Sweaters and Jackets

 

Since it will be a bit cool at least for the next month or so, I figured I’d better include a few blazers and sweaters in my capsule. I’ve got two from MM LaFleur, the Graham Kimono, and the Sant Ambroeus Jardigan, a new addition to my wardrobe this season (review coming soon!). I’m also including two merino wool cardigans from the Gap, because they are soft and pretty warm without being too hot, a tuxedo blazer from Boden, and two Schoolboy blazers from J.Crew (not pictured).

Spring Capsule: Dresses

Spring Capsule 2016 - Dresses

I’ve got four dresses in this season’s capsule, three of which have been around for some time (including that Theory dress I talk about all. the. time). The only new addition is the Toi Dress from MM LaFleur (review to come!). The other two are from Boden (the bright green) and Kate Spade Saturday (gosh, I miss Saturday. My wallet doesn’t.).

There is one more dress I’d love to add to my capsule, but it’s sold out at the minute. It’s the Emily Dress from MM LaFleur. I’m on the waitlist for it, so let’s hope it pops back in stock soon.

Spring Capsule: Skirts

Spring Capsule 2016 - Skirts

OK, so the skirts in my spring capsule are still in flux. I actually only currently have four of them -the navy pleated on the left, the bright green pencil skirt, and the two printed skirts in the bottom row. But, I’m not sure of the wisdom of having two printed skirts in a capsule, so I might axe the floral print, since it’s really high waisted and long (it’s a midi, and falls below my knees). I’m also debating getting the pleated navy skirt on the right, which is from Boden, but am debating whether or not I actually need two pleated, navy skirts. Or, I might get a black/navy or charcoal pencil skirt, I’m really not sure.

I’m happy to hear your thoughts on the skirt issue – so please weigh in!

Spring Capsule: Shoes

spring capsule shoes

I don’t usually include shoes in my capsule, because I’m not really a shoe person and usually just wear my ballet flats around the house (they are pretty beat up, so they are just at-home flats at this point). But, in the interest of seeing how small I could get my capsule, I left five spots for shoes this time. I’ve got two pairs of loafers, a pair of short boots, a pair of sneakers, and a pair of dress shoes. I don’t see getting much wear out of the dress shoes, but thought if I included them, maybe I’d wear them more (they are rather comfortable).

Weirdly, there’s a lot of grey in my shoes, even though you don’t see the color elsewhere in the capsule at all.

Quick spring capsule recap:

  • 37 items (skirts, tops, dresses, jackets/cardigans, and shoes)
  • 30 items from my existing collection/closet
  • 2 definite new additions (jardigan and Toi dress)
  • 4-5 potential new additions
  • Printed/patterned dresses aren’t included in the capsule, but I can wear them if the need arises
  • Outerwear isn’t in the capsule, but I’ll wear it if it’s cold enough

 

 

Winter Capsule Wardrobe 2016: The End!

As far as my wardrobe and I are concerned, winter is over. Sure, temperatures and weather conditions might be a little rough for the next few weeks (although this has been a fairly mild season, and the groundhog didn’t see his shadow). But, I’m ready for spring. That’s the thing about capsule wardrobes. Having a limited wardrobe makes changing seasons pretty exciting.

Before I reveal my spring capsule (next week), let’s take a look at a few of the outfits I put together during the last month.

winter_capsule_outfit_0205

Work Outfit 1

I am in love with this navy blue dress from Theory. When I first got it, I was unsure about keeping it, but it’s really proved to be a good purchase. It fits well, it’s well-made, and I can wear it in a lot of different ways. Case in point, as pictured here, worn over top of a silk, clock print blouse from J.Crew. (Which surprisingly, hasn’t ripped.)

 

winter_capsule_outfit_125

Work Outfit 2

Here’s an outfit made out of a few of my favorites. Navy blue pleated skirt from J.Crew. A silk blouse from Equipment. And a merino wool cardigan. I keep telling myself that I’m “over cardigans,” yet I keep wearing them.

winter_capsule_outfit_0216

Work Outfit 3

I searched pretty long and hard for a stretchy black mockneck top like the one I finally found from Reformation. I think it looks particularly vintage when styled with the Julia Patch Pocket skirt from Boden.

 

winter_capsule_outfit_0216b

 

It was a bit chilly the day I wore this (it is winter, after all). So, before going out to meet a few friends at night, I added a tuxedo blazer from Boden and a pair of tall boots (another thing I keep thinking that I’m “over,” but still wear anyway).

 

winter_capsule_outfit_0219

Work Outfit 4

Another outfit made up of favorites: a hounds tooth print skirt from J.Crew Factory (which is, unfortunately, falling apart) and a cropped cardigan from a boutique in Oxford, UK. Plus, a watch pendant necklace from a local jewelry maker who, as far as I can tell, no longer exists).

 

winter_capsule_outfit_0220

Casual Weekend Outfit

Yeah, I like to wear pencil skirts on the weekends. They look cute and stylish, but are fairly comfortable, especially when paired with a flannel shirt. The big surprise of this outfit is those boots. They’re Steve Madden and I’ve had them for years. They are falling apart a bit at this stage, some of the buttons are missing and I should get them resoled. But, otherwise, they are still hanging in there.

Winter Capsule Wardrobe: Month 2 Check-In

winter_capsule_collage

Winter, at least according to my capsule wardrobe calender, is almost over, although the blizzard we got here in Philly this weekend might seem to suggest otherwise. Since my winter season runs from December through February, I’ve just over a month to go before thinking about and switching over to spring. Perfect timing for a quick round up of some of my favorite outfits from this season.

Christmas Eve Capsule Outfit
Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve Outfit

I know it’s traditional to break out either the red or green or the sparkles on Christmas Eve, but I went in a different direction and channeled my inner 1970s librarian, with the Miyani dress from Theory in navy worn over a tie front William Morris print blouse from Marc by Marc Jacobs.  At first, I worried that the outfit was a little too much — did I look like I was trying to dress like a character from Mad Men? But, then, I was like, whatever. My family has seen me in weirder. Also, I really, really like this look. So, thumbs up and all that.

winter_capsule_outfit_105
Phoning it in with this outfit

Casual Outfit

When it gets really cold, my brain so of locks up when it comes to figuring out what to wear. My default is jeans (which aren’t necessarily warmer than tights, but feel easier when it’s super cold) and a shirt. Here it’s a silk, zebra print blouse from J.Crew and Madewell’s Flea Market Flares. It’s not exactly the best or most inventive look and I will admit that I very much phoned this one in. Not every capsule outfit is a winner.

winter_capsule_outfit_109
Weekend lunch

Weekend Lunch

OK, this outfit is made up of three of my favorite pieces, so really, what can be wrong about it? Nothing. I’m wearing a printed button up from J.Crew Factory which somehow fits perfectly, even though cotton button shirts never fit me, my favorite skirt, a navy pleated number from J.Crew, and a sparkly necklace from J.Crew. The tights are from Boden and they fit well, but aren’t super exciting and the boots are from Garnet Hill. They fit well and are very comfortable.

winter_capsule_outfit_107
Work outfit 1

Work Outfit 1

I work from home, which often leads people to ask if I work in my PJs or in “casual clothes.” I usually smile politely and say no, but that question irks me, since the above is a typical example of what I wear on a work day. It’s a J.Crew Pencil Skirt in  dark green tweed wool (first tried on here) and silk V-neck blouse navy, some tights, and a necklace from the no-longer-with-us Piperlime. I don’t really get the idea that because no one sees you at work, you should just phone it in when it comes to your clothes. So I actually wear clothes when working. Plus, I’m weirdo who likes the business look (here’s a story: when I was a kid and thought about what I’d wear as an adult, I pictured myself in a fuchsia pencil skirt suit.)

winter_capsule_outfit_108
Work Outfit 2

Work Outfit 2

Here’s another work day outfit. You’ve seen these pieces before – it’s the Marc by Marc Jacobs Strawberry Thief blouse (which seems to be sold out, but here’s a similar option, minus the tie) and my favorite pleated skirt.

Work Outfit 3
Work Outfit 3

Work Outfit 3

Last capsule outfit for you and it’s another work one. I’m wearing the Theory Miyani dress again and the Graham Cardigan from my MM LaFleur Bento Box. The necklace is actually a tiny pocket knife from Erica Weiner Jewelry. I love the Graham because it’s pretty flexible – you can tie it in front, as I’ve done here, or leave it open for a looser look.

Capsule Wardrobe: Winter 2015-2016

Although I went into the capsule wardrobe with a fair amount of scepticism in the fall, I’ve come to really like the constraints of the project. At first, I did feel a lot of “ugh, I only have these options. I’m so limited.” But, after about a month or so, I got into the swing of things and really started to enjoy having fewer things to choose from.

That said, by the end of the three months, I was pretty much itching to switch to the new capsule. It’s been a warm fall, so it wasn’t so much that I wanted to switch to warmer clothing. It was more that after three months of being in constant rotation, some of my clothes were a little worse for wear. I sat on something that left a mark on a skirt, the hem of another skirt fell out when I washed it (an easy fix, but annoying, nonetheless). So, by the end of November, I had a few skirts at the cleaners and one in the mending pile. I also decided that I absolutely didn’t like one skirt:

jcrew_pleated_skirt

And put it in the donate pile. Ugh, no love lost there, but I hope someone else likes it!

With just one skirt left standing (for the moment), it was time to switch over.

Winter 2015 Capsule

 

Here it is, my winter 2015-2016 capsule wardrobe. It’s a 37-piece capsule, but I couldn’t find images of a few of the shirts to put in the Polyvore set, so you’ll just have to trust me. Like this past fall, I’ll be checking in every so often with outfit ideas and updates about how it’s going.