Capsule for Weekend in Madrid – Review

So, I may finally be getting to grips with minimal packing for weekends away!  Madrid was fabulous and I was able to relax and take it all in, while thoroughly enjoying the company of my very dear friends.  I wasn’t worrying about what I had brought, whether it would be enough, what clothes would be suitable or whether I had brought the ‘right’ things.  The bit of forethought and planning paid off and I was confident I could get anything I had overlooked – it wasn’t as though Madrid didn’t have any shops!

I flew into the satellite terminal of Madrid-Barajas Airport, which meant taking a train to the main terminal, then boarding a shuttle to meet my friends, who had flown into a different terminal and finally a bus to the city centre.   Hand luggage made all of this so easy.  I didn’t have to wait impatiently for my bag or worry about it not ending up on the carousel (which has happened before).

I had a small cross-body bag and all my clothes, accessories and toiletries fitted beautifully into my weekend bag.   As mentioned previously, I am a fan of the packing cube and may even have converted my friends to them.  They were victims of packing cube envy as I unpacked later on, initially refusing to believe I had fitted anything of use into so small a bag.  An added bonus of the hand luggage was that while ample, it was snug, so I didn’t go on any shopping sprees.

Madrid was a bit cooler than I had expected, despite having checked the forecast.  However, the cardigan and jacket were used interchangeably and worked well.  I wore all of the clothes I had brought and felt they were enough.  I had different outfits to wear, everything could be mixed and matched and because I had planned it out in advance, I didn’t waste any precious time wondering what to wear!  Here’s an overview of what I brought 1 jacket; 1 scarf; 1 cardigan; 2 trousers; 2 pairs of shoes; 4 tops; 1 dress and my 2 bags …..

Packing for a weekend in Madrid

I’m off to Madrid for the weekend, with two very dear friends and have been looking forward to the break for some time.  From a packing perspective, I’m keen to build on the learning I got from packing for my last weekend away in Dublin.  The key take-aways from that were …. not to pack too much, I needed less than I thought and if I do forget anything vital, I can buy it when I’m there.

I have started to develop a little packing plan which outlines what I will be doing during the day and the evening and what the weather will be like.  This is a bit of a departure as before I would have started with which clothes I wanted to bring, without ascertaining why.  I could easily have packed four pairs of jeans and one top!  I find this way around to be both better and easier.  And, (a lesson I’ve carried over from my day-to-day life), this way I pack for actual activities that are weather appropriate, instead of a more ‘chuck it all into a bag and see what happens’ cavalier approach.

So, I’ve checked the weather (a bit showery the first day but then hot and sunny thereafter).  We will be doing a lot of walking around the city centre, perhaps hopping on and off buses and then going out to dinner in the evening, which will probably involve walking some distance as well.  That helps the footwear packing – one pair of shoes that are comfortable and one pair of sandals for the evening.  Jeans, jacket and a scarf for travelling, a lighter pair of trousers, a dress that can be worn a couple of times when going out for dinner, a few tops and some jewellery to freshen up a look.  It sounds quite achievable.

So, to work out the maths – four days, two outfits per day (as will be doing different activities during the day and the evening) – resulting in me packing two bottoms, one dress and four tops, to make eight outfits.  I’m bringing carry-on luggage, in my trusty Longchamp bag, which is light yet durable and a favourite for travelling.  I’ll review how I get on, whether the packing was fit for purpose and any other capsule/packing thoughts on the way.  Any tips for travelling light?  Have a great week 🙂

Personal Style & the Capsule Wardrobe

Curating a capsule wardrobe every season has certainly helped me discover my sense of personal style.  My capsule has to cover a formal work environment as well as a more casual style.  While I’ve noticed, over the past few capsules, that I can mix and match pieces quite well, the two styles are quite distinct.  This has the disadvantage of some pieces, but only a bare handful, being worn only at work and vice versa, so my capsule is not quite as hard working as it could be.  The advantage, however, is that it gives me a clear delineation of the day.  Changing from formal work attire to a relaxed outfit is symbolic of the change of role and is a key step in clearing my mind of work issues and stresses.

I’m Lorraine at work but Lol at home (no prizes for guessing why I’m using my nickname of Lol for the blog, then!).  At the risk of sounding like I have a dual personality, I do find it quite therapeutic to move between roles and my personal style reflects this.

After many expensive shopping mistakes, I think that a tailored, structured wardrobe, with pencil skirts, tailored trousers, dresses and jackets suit me for work.  I like the pulled-together look and it also worked quite well over the past twelve months, when I have been losing weight.  At home, I am, as they say, a jeans and tee-shirt kind of girl, with a weakness for stripes.  But fundamentally, the style isn’t too different.  I like the sharp silhouette of skinny jeans, in a dark wash for the cooler months but changing to green and taupe for the warmer months.  As the bottoms are fitted, I keep the tops looser, as I like this look.  I tried the more boho, all-over flowing look but it’s just not me.

Having to choose a finite number of pieces helps me define my personal style.  My first couple of capsules were all encompassing in their shapes, leaving me looking fairly shapeless, as a result.  I certainly tried different pieces, of varying styles, but they never gelled for me.  As Courtney Carver says, Project 333 is not an experiment in suffering but a minimalist fashion challenge!

Every piece has to earn its place in my wardrobe so if something is not my style, I tend not to reach for it and that becomes very obvious with a pared back set of clothes – it’s taking up a valuable space that another piece could inhabit.  So, my clothes suit me more, I’m happier with them, I’m spending less but enjoying more, honing my sense of personal style, learning what works and doesn’t and I have fewer clothes but better quality.  Capsule wardrobes – what’s not to love?!  Have a great week 🙂

Why minimalism?

Three years ago, I went through a difficult time, when a dearly loved one was ill.  I felt helpless, angry, upset, out of control and frightened.  Then, I realized, it wasn’t about me.  My focus and energy needed to be channeled where it was needed most but everything seemed so complicated.  It wasn’t really or at least it was as complicated as I made it.  Fewer complications meant more time and energy available, which is what I needed, but I took the scenic route, not the direct one, on the way.

At first, I thought I needed to be ultra-organized.  I’m quite a structured person anyway (I’m a ‘J’ for those of you interested in Myers-Briggs!).  So, I organized.  I had a container for everything and if a container was ever empty, then I ensured I filled it.  Every minute of every day was planned.  Every article on every shelf was straight.  Funnily enough, this didn’t help!   But I didn’t understand why.

At some level, I knew I needed more simplicity and fewer distractions.  So I started to search the web.  My searches focused on ‘simplicity’ as I had never heard of the term ‘minimalism’.  But it kept popping up.  I stumbled across a site called ‘The Minimalists’ hosted by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus.   I read a few of their posts with interest and then saw that they were due to visit London, just a train ride away. 

On Wednesday 8th October 2014, I made my way to Parkgate Road in London, somewhere I didn’t know and had never heard of, a prospect that would have daunted me before.  (I’m Irish, living in the UK, so usually everywhere is different and new!).  However, different results needed different approaches.  That evening was a watershed moment.  By that stage, I had read many articles by The Minimalists and even had one of their books.  However, hearing them speak brought the whole concept of minimalism alive for me and more importantly, within my reach.  They also mentioned some of their friends, Courtney Carver, Leo Babauta, Colin Wright  …. I realized there was a whole world of minimalism and alternative views out there.

The weekend after, I looked around my carefully organized belongings and saw them with different eyes.  Yes, I was fortunate to have so much – but I also had so much distraction, so much anxiety and so much excess.   How much did one person need, for goodness sake?!  I saw the difference between organization and minimalism, which is probably quite obvious to many others, but as I said, I took the scenic route to this realization.

My loved one is now so much better than I ever thought possible.  And the dark days which I hated and feared at the time, showed me a less conventional but more satisfying life.   I’m still on a journey to simplicity but I know why I’m doing it.  As Jim Rohn says, ‘ When the why gets stronger, the how gets easier’.

 

Photo courtesy of http://www.freeimages.co.uk

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 🙂