Capsule Wardrobe: Basics, key pieces and statement pieces

I was always a big fan of Anuschka Rees’ blog, Into Mind and was thrilled when she recently published her book called The Curated Closet.   It’s chock-full of useful strategies and ideas and one in particular, feels like a great way to view clothes in a slightly different way.

Anuschka maintains that the basis to a great wardrobe, which will allow a versatile mix of pieces and enable multiple different looks, is to have the right balance of:  Basic pieces, that form the backbone of your wardrobe; key pieces, that add versatility and encapsulate your own personal style; statement pieces, that will enable you to add variety and a little something special.

The great thing about this approach is that these pieces may be different for everyone.  What is a basic for me may be a key piece for you.  I feel this simple tactic is powerful because it allows me to see my capsule wardrobe in a different light.  At the moment, the basics and key pieces are well covered but I’m a bit light on the statement pieces so if I need one, I tend to go to my tiny ‘special occasion’ capsule and pull out something from there.  This is where I keep a couple of special dresses to wear to a wedding or a party, a smart pair of shoes, a dressy top or a sparkly jacket!  However, with Anuschka’s approach, by incorporating a small number of statement pieces into my ‘normal’ capsule, I can wear these special pieces more often and not keep them for the ‘just in case’ times.  It will also allow better mixing and matching and jazzing up a plain outfit to make it more my own.

I will be starting to think of my summer capsule wardrobe in a few weeks’ time so I’ve decided to use this approach for summer shoes, to dip a toe in the water first, so to speak.  I tend to live in flats in the summer and wear my heels far more in the colder months.  They also go better with my summer clothes.  So, I could view my black ballet flats, which feel like slippers after 4 years, as basics; my pointed flats which, because of their neutral colour, go with many combinations and are a key piece; and my pink flats could make a statement, with a more neutral outfit.  Before this, I think I may have been inclined to pair my neutral flats with neutral basic clothes – resulting in a ‘meh’ kind of look.


The other reason I love this approach is that minimalism is all about de-cluttering the excess and appreciating what we are so fortunate to have now.  Loving and using things on a daily basis and not putting them away for ‘special’ occasions seems a better way.  Every day is special, right?

Easter Meltdown!

Happy Easter to you all 🙂  Mr. Minimal-Lol kindly bought me an Easter egg to celebrate the day.  This is what it should look like – viewed in its pristine condition on the M&S website. 

However, in an effort to be super-organized, he purchased it early in the morning and then left it on the back seat of the car, on a sunny day, only to remember it some hours later.   Like my wardrobe, it has undergone some down-sizing and this is what I was presented with this morning!  Nothing like starting the day off with a laugh!

This will be shared between us and enjoyed in stages over the next few days.  There was a time when an Easter egg may not have safely made it to lunchtime, still intact.  I believe there is a real connection between minimalism, healthy eating and weight loss.   I began my minimalism journey about three years ago, when I badly needed to simplify my life, in order to deal with some extra pressures.  It’s a work in progress and I have a long way to go.  However, an unforeseen benefit has been the impact on my weight.

It started when I became interested in a capsule wardrobe.  I had some major de-cluttering sessions and I found a variety of sizes, for my weight spectrum.  First of all, there were the clothes that fit me at that time.  True, they were uninspiring and boring but they fit – that was the key factor that earned their place in the wardrobe.  Then there were my just-in-case clothes – in case I increased my weight, I had a mini capsule of clothes just waiting for that dreaded day.  Talk about creating the conditions for weight gain.  I had a real wake-up call when I realized that was why I was holding on to these clothes – as though it was outside my control if I gained such a significant amount of weight, that I needed clothes in a whole other size.

Then there were the tantalizing few pieces that ‘when I slimmed down’, I would fit into perfectly.  They never really acted as a motivation but it felt like a goal achieved when I started wearing them again.  But I found that many of them were tainted and heavy with the weight of hope and despondency, so they only sparked limited joy.  They were never going to live up to the expectations I had placed on them.  My transition to a more intentional way of shopping and indeed viewing my wardrobe is my long-term goal.

I didn’t so much minimalize my food as de-clutter the cupboard that contained the sugary foods and that made the most difference.  I realized that the simplicity I craved in my wardrobe could best be attained by achieving a stable weight, which would allow a wardrobe with fewer but better quality clothes that I loved and that fit me well.  So, I will enjoy nibbling on a small piece of the lovely (albeit transformed in a melted sort of way!) Easter egg that Mr. M-L bought me but, as in my wardrobe, less can be more satisfying than more, and way better for body and mind than too much.  Enjoy the break 🙂

Spring 2017 Capsule Wardrobe – Overview

I’m at the midway point of my spring 2017 capsule wardrobe and it’s working just fine.  The weather has really warmed up here in the UK lately and my capsule is still fit for purpose.  It’s great to be able to discard some of the layering pieces though!

In the winter, I love my neutrals of black and grey with touches of white but for spring, it’s good to lighten it up a little.  My base colours this year are navy and burgundy with some brighter colours as accents.  I really have about three capsules a year, rather than four, as I find that my choice of clothes tends to be very similar for spring and autumn, due to the similarity in the weather.  Summer and winter are where I notice a big variation.

So, keeping it real here, a visual overview of my spring capsule follows:  Spring 2017 Capsule WardrobeThis year I have 9 tops, 7 bottoms, 4 toppers (jackets/cardigans), 3 dresses, 5 pieces of footwear, 3 outerwear and 2 key accessories.  This just happens to total 33 and although I am greatly inspired by Courtney Carver’s Project 333, I don’t get too hung up on the numbers.  I rarely have fewer than 33 pieces but often go up to 36/37 – for me, it’s about having the right clothes for my lifestyle, not about a magic number.  I don’t count jewellery as an accessory, thought I only have a capsule collection of that also, and sometimes swap in a scarf or two to brighten up a darker outfit.

I mentioned in a previous post that when I started out, I had a strict delineation between my work and home capsules, and totalled over 60 pieces in my first attempt!  Now, I mix and match between the two far more frequently and easily and find that 33 pieces covers both quite well. 

I found it a good exercise to pull a visual together so I can see everything at once.  I do like a stripe, don’t I?!! 

I’d love to hear if you’ve tried a capsule wardrobe and why – do you find anything particularly liberating or frustrating about it?  Have a good week 🙂

Capsule Wardrobe for a Weekend Away – Review

Okay … I am never over-packing again!  I experimented with packing light for a five-day trip to Dublin, using the principles of my capsule wardrobe and it worked beautifully.  In fact, I think I could have packed even less but that’s learning for a future trip.

In the end, I brought two pairs of jeans, three tops, two cardigans, two pairs of shoes and some layers.  The weather in Dublin was, uncharacteristically sunny but freezing, as opposed to mild but raining, which can be more usual.  This meant that I wore my layering pieces a lot more than I thought I would and was I glad I had packed them!   On review, I wondered if I should have brought clothes from my warmer winter capsule, rather than my spring one, but I think it would have felt like ‘cheating’ a bit and also the colour palette is so much darker that it may not have felt as appropriate in the Dublin sunshine.

I brought my leather jacket which kept me toasty and matched everything I wore.  My scarf was used – a lot!  It’s bright pink and warm, in all senses!  I packed a pair of shoes and wore a pair of boots – the boots by themselves would have been plenty, so that’s a useful note for future weekends and the shoes took up a lot of room in my bag – not a good deal, as I only wore them once.

I didn’t go out anywhere fancy, which was lovely, as it meant loads of cosy evenings with friends and family, chatting and laughing.  I had packed a dressier top but rather than bringing it back untouched, I just wore it one day, with one of my cardigans and felt a little more dressed up than usual.

So, I think the experiment worked.  I had plenty of options, I felt presentable and most importantly, I was able to focus my time on the people I travelled to see and didn’t spend time fussing over what to wear – and if I had enough – and what would people think – and what if – what if …….  It’s so liberating.

I couldn’t help but notice, though, that I had over-packed my toiletries/make-up bag – next project I think!

Capsule Wardrobe for a Weekend Away

This weekend, I am going to Dublin for five days and thought it was a great opportunity to discover more about the portable capsule wardrobe.  I like to plan (a lot!) but the downside is that I can tend to over-pack, having considered every possible permutation of outings and extremes of weather, not to mention lack of laundry facilities.  Inevitably, I would unpack after my break and take clothes out of my bag that had been untouched by human hand.

So, after some reflection, I decided to try something different this time.  I am spending time with family and friends and it will all be quite low-key, so no need to pack three cocktail dresses and a fascinator, then!  I took Courtney Carver’s advice and packed for half the time, in this case three days.  I am using my trusty packing cubes, which help focus the mind and neaten the luggage.  I winnowed down (goodbye four pairs of jeans – really, for three days?) and ended up with two pairs of jeans, three tops, two cardigans, two pairs of shoes and some layers, as the forecast was for sunny but cold.  Every top goes with every bottom and cardigans can be layered for warmth or discarded if the forecast was unduly pessimistic.  I snuck in one dressier top though!

The great thing about packing a minimal capsule wardrobe from my ‘normal’ capsule is that I’m already ahead of the game, as anything I pack is a favourite, suits me and my general lifestyle, is of good quality and I would be glad to wear anytime, anywhere.

I know I have enough combinations to make several different looks so I will just see how it goes.  I haven’t packed too many accessories, which can be key for changing up a look, however, this is all a bit of trial and error.  I won’t deliberately restrict my choices but neither will I bemoan the fact that I may not have packed a key piece.  I just want to see how I get on.  I’ll check back in next week with the results of this experiment …..  Have you any tips on minimalist packing?

KonMari Folding Fun

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how much I was influenced by Marie Kondo and her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  It is a truly wonderful book and well deserving of the hype that surrounds it.   When I first read it, I was inspired to remove my out-of-season clothes from my wardrobe, where they had been residing on hangers, and fold them instead.  I had been using two wardrobes for all of my clothes and now just use one, for this season’s clothes, with the remainder folded in a chest of drawers.  The sense of extra light and space that this brought is so calming and freeing.

However, I don’t think I gave this step as much reflection as it deserved, until a reader and fellow blogger, J. Mordars, commented on my blog that ‘Just the folding techniques alone are life changing’.   This made me stop and think about something I had taken for granted.   The folding tips in the KonMari method are so sensible and practical that they are very easy to put into place, although at first, it took me a while to figure them out.  To be honest, that is more about me than the method and I won’t pretend that my results would stand up to Ms. Kondo’s scrutiny!  But when I got there, it was so satisfying and liberating.  True, it took me a good couple of hours and while I know this may be too much of an overhead for some, I found it almost therapeutic.  Some dedicated work with a tangible result at the end can be almost a novelty on some days!

So the clothes that I reach for daily are hanging in my wardrobe.  My out-of-season clothes are folded away, washed, clean and neatly stored, ready for a future season.  I’ve also applied this to lounge-wear, workout wear, underwear, scarves …..  It’s like a lot of things, once you believe in the principle, you want to apply it wherever possible.

So, thanks to Ms. Kondo and her aptly-titled book and to J. Mordars, for helping me stop and reflect, about something so simple and helpful.  Has the folding bug bitten you at all?  Do you find value in it?  Have a good week 🙂


Not Shopping

I felt a great sense of satisfaction recently, when I completed my spring capsule wardrobe.   Not only had I a well-rounded set of clothes, that were favourites and functional, but I don’t need to go clothes shopping again until the next season approaches. 

It’s not that I dislike shopping – very far from it – but one advantage for me of the capsule wardrobe is that I feel a sense of completion and contentment.  If I were to go shopping, what would I shop for?  I don’t need anything for this season and it’s too early to go shopping for next season.  I’m still losing a bit of weight, although within half a stone of my goal, so I don’t want to buy the wrong size.  When I plan my summer capsule, I will do a seasonal inventory before deciding if I need anything and then I will buy for the size I am at that point.

There is a word that I have noticed more and more, both within the minimalist community and elsewhere – ‘lagom’.  Apparently, it’s a Swedish word meaning ‘just the right amount’.  I’m not saying my capsule wardrobe is perfect, but it’s perfect for me at this moment in time.  Another two to three months will tell me what worked and what didn’t, before beginning the cycle again.  But for now, lagom sums up where I am with my clothes.

An added advantage is the feeling of falling back in love with some old pieces that haven’t seen the light of day for a few months, or even longer.  As I do four capsules a year, I don’t have enough time to get tired of any one item.  Unpacking clothes from storage (aka the chest of drawers) is like greeting old friends and gaining new ones, all at the same time.  Some pieces that used to be favourites, but now no longer fit me, I let go with little regret.  The main reason, at the moment, is that they are too big for me, so letting them go is a really easy choice to make.  And, as I mentioned in my last post, I am getting better at resisting the urge to replace them, in my current size, regardless of whether I actually require that item!

Do you do a capsule wardrobe?  Do any of the above points resonate for you?  Or perhaps you have identified different benefits.  It would be great to hear what they are 🙂