Summer Capsule – 14 tops!

What was I thinking?! 

Some time ago, I wrote about my disquiet regarding this summer’s capsule wardrobe .  I felt it hadn’t gelled as well as it might have done but I wasn’t sure why.  I was also slightly bemused as to why I felt the need to include 14 tops (pictures of some below!)

I got some insightful comments in response to the couple of posts I discussed this in – especially from The Change Agent, Stay at Home Minimalist, Enchanted Outlook, Introvertomatic and Value Simplicity – sincere thanks to you all – check out their brilliant blogs.  They pointed out that minimalism is not the pursuit of perfectionism, but a journey full of learning and experiences.

So I ventured back into my capsule and reviewed it.  I had a pair of trousers that did not flatter me at all but were such a useful colour.  I had a perfectly nice, well-cut skirt that I hardly wore because I reached for the unflattering trousers instead!  And I had 14 tops!  Guess what?

Turns out I’m not wearing them all!

I know!  I can feel your amazement through cyberspace, as you throw your hands up in disbelief!!

What was I thinking?

You see, I loved them all.  And they were good for different occasions.  But one of my goals is to have my clothes cross over from a work to a casual capsule effortlessly and not exist in siloes.  Yet this is what I did.   Also, summer clothes are a bit of a novelty in the UK and I wanted to include everything, not knowing when I might wear it again.  Some of my other pieces I can carry from season to season, but pretty summer tops?  Not so much.

So my blogger friends helped me put things in perspective, re-visit my capsule, swap some things out and just chill.  While the number 33 is only a framework, I noticed I started with 35.  I changed to 31 and am so much happier.

Turns out less is not just more, less is enough. Have a great week 🙂

Minimalism and shopping

So, I have three handbags:

  • Cross-body bag
  • Large tote
  • One with top handles which I got in the US about 8 years ago

I love that one so much that I rarely use it!!   I annoy myself when I write that.  If a friend told me about a bag she loved but didn’t use, I would be the first to tell her to use it, love it, enjoy it and not keep it for best.  Or even let it go, if it wasn’t bringing value or joy (which is not the case).

I am determined to use it and not just look at it from now on.

It’s a bag not an ornament!

However, my cross-body bag is showing serious signs of wear and tear.  It’s a few years old and the most practical bag I have.  I use it all the time and the cost per wear is pennies at this stage.  It’s so handy for the times when I want my hands to be free or my tote is just too large.

I wanted to replace it but when I went to shop for one, I felt guilty and extravagant.   I went home instead and took out my other two bags, feeling discomfited that I wanted yet a third.  However, my cross-body bag serves a defined purpose that the other two do not.   So I went shopping again.  This time, I approached it in a far more intentional way.  I defined what I wanted a cross-body bag for, when I would use it, how much my budget was and the approximate cost per wear.

I then felt that a second-hand bag was a more sustainable and ethical way to shop and more in keeping with what I am trying to achieve via minimalism.  I found a practical, hardly-used bag on EBay.  It’s good quality and I’m expecting it to last years.  I’m satisfied with my purchase and no longer feel guilty.

 

All this angsting led me to a few thoughts:

 

  • It’s fine to replace an item when it’s worn, once I know I still need it and will use it.
  • Many are minimalists through circumstances and not through choice and I am lucky – so I want to shop with intention and not mindlessly.
  • Shopping and consumerism are not inherently obstructions to a more minimal lifestyle – but for me, intentional shopping and conscious consumerism is the way to go.
  • Purchasing second-hand items extends their life and, for me, feels more sustainable and ethical.
  • I’m going to use and enjoy my new bag – it definitely sparks joy!

Have your shopping habits changed?  I’d love to hear back from you.  Have a great week 🙂

Holiday Packing

Does anyone else get excited about packing for a holiday? I’m going to the US for 10 days and cannot wait!!

 

I know that, to some, packing can be a chore but I love it!

I enjoy the planning aspect – it leads to anticipation and heightens the whole holiday experience for me.

I also feel that it is compulsory minimalism and I mean that in a positive way because:

  • It’s a brilliant time to try out a capsule wardrobe, if you were thinking of dipping a toe in the water
  • The clothes contained in your suitcase comprise your capsule
  • If you didn’t pack exactly what you wanted, then it’s a chance to be creative, not an opportunity to shop!

A bit of forethought and planning can go a long way.

I have a fair idea of what the weather will be like and what activities we have planned:

  • A bit of sight-seeing
  • Dining out
  • Time on the beach
  • A lot of playing with my nephews
  • Some chill-out time for Mr. Minimal-Lol and me

So it’s just a case of finding clothes that are suitable for all these activities and that can be mixed and matched. I have no anxiety when it comes to repeating outfits or pieces, which makes it easier still.

My planning self has developed a little cheat sheet to help me plan and pack. I want to wear my clothes at least 2 or 3 times each, with some pieces, like accessories, being worn almost every day. And it’s so easy to give clothes a quick wash, if they require freshening up – my summer pieces are light and dry quickly.

I’ll bring a small suitcase – ideally I would really like to travel with hand luggage only – but I won’t for fear of Mr. M-L fainting in horror. (Some day I will write a blog post about a minimalist living with a ‘maximalist’ – he may need a suitcase for his shoes alone!!).

I have tried to heed the lovely Courtney Carver’s advice – the founder of Project 333. She advises you to pack for half the number of days you are actually away. I don’t think I’ve quite hit that mark but maybe about 75%? Baby steps!

But I will be reviewing what I actually wore versus what I packed. I do this every time I go away and have ended up with quite a robust formula for a weekend away – just need to extend this for a slightly longer period of time.

Anyone have any words of wisdom for packing? Or for travelling in the US? Have a great week 🙂

Mystery Blogger Award – Answers & Nominees

Dear all,

The lovely Onyx-Natasha at Value Simplicity nominated me for this award.  I didn’t even know what a blogger award was and had to do some research!  But it sounds like a lot of fun and I’m so grateful to Onyx-Natasha for including me in this.  What a lovely way to build the community of bloggers and find out a bit more about each other and our blogs 🙂

Okoto Enigma created this award to recognise brilliant, inspirational and sometimes lesser known blogs.  She called it the Mystery Blogger Award, as a play on the name of her blog ‘Enigma’.  Click here to find out more about it.

Rules of Award:

  1.  Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link to their blog
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. Nominate 10-20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice, with one weird/funny question!
  9. Share a link to your best post

Onyx-Natasha’s questions for me were:

  1. Who inspires you?  Anyone who has the integrity to walk to the beat of their own drum
  2. If you could have dinner with anyone, who would they be?   Anne Tyler, my favourite author
  3. What meal would you serve them?   Salade Caprese with home-made bread
  4. What is one question that you would ask that person?  What is the overlap between memory and imagination when writing a novel?
  5. Do you have a party trick that is unique to you and you alone?  It’s not a trick but I make a mean Margarita cocktail, which is always a favourite at parties – does that count?!!

Based on the number of views and comments, I think my best post is the one where I write about why I first became interested in minimalism.

3 things about me:

  1.  My name is Lorraine and my family and close friends call me Lol – but when I sign off at the end of an email, blog post or comment using Lol, it is sometimes interpreted as me ‘laughing out loud’ – not always appropriate given the tone of the post or comment!!!
  2. I have a lovely fur baby – my cat Cody – who turns my house into a home.
  3. I studied sign language for a few years and received a qualification at the end – Irish sign language is the most beautiful language I know.

My 10 Nominees are:

  1.  The Change Agent
  2. Introvertomatic
  3. Stay At Home Minimalist
  4. From Type A to Type Ahh
  5. The Casual Stylist
  6. Green Lights Ahead
  7. Good and Goodbye
  8. The Healthful Saver
  9. Autumn Whewell
  10. Minimalist Marketer

My 5 questions are:

  1. Where are you from?
  2. What is the best thing about blogging, for you?
  3. What book/film speaks to you most?
  4. Where would you most like to visit?
  5. Do you have a nickname?!

Thanks to all of you who joined in and to the brilliant Onyx-Natasha – I look forward to reading all your responses 🙂

Capsules and special occasion pieces

Do special occasion pieces belong in a capsule wardrobe?

I mean those items I only reach for when I have a special event.  A pretty dress, a fancy skirt, an embellished top.  Not the workhorses of my day-to-day wardrobe.

I don’t have many of these events.  My normal social life is well-catered for from my capsule.  Also, I am loathe to have one of my precious, few spaces taken up by an item I may wear only once in a season.

So, I’ve created a tiny, occasion capsule.  This works for parties, fancy dinners and special evenings out.  It contains:

  • Two dresses – one red lace and one dark beaded number
  • One gold brocade skirt, that dresses up the plainest top
  • Two embellished tops
  • My beloved Mulberry shoes, bought for 10% of their original price in Bicester Village!
  • A pretty little clutch, picked up in a local charity shop

I don’t wear only these but I find that one or two of these pieces lift some of my more ‘ordinary’ clothes up a level and I feel more dressed up, which is half the fun of going out.

These clothes last and last because I wear them so seldom but I get the thrill of novelty when I put them on.   I don’t need to go panic shopping if I have a party or wedding to go to – I wear them so infrequently that they seem like new and I never mind repeating outfits!

This weekend, it’s Mr. Minimal-Lol’s birthday and we are going to go out in style to celebrate.  Fancy restaurant is booked, cocktails are featuring on the agenda and I will be reaching into my occasion capsule.

There are some who would reason that a capsule should be self-contained but this way works best for me.  I’ve noticed I have tiny capsules for jewellery, beach wear (worn once a year!), sleep wear and workout wear – these do not usually comprise part of a main capsule.   But I’m now so in the capsule habit that I have no desire to over-compensate in these areas.  The same principles apply.

Now, which piece to wear this evening?  I think it will be the red dress – always a favourite of Mr. Minimal-Lol’s – and it is his birthday!  Have a great week 🙂

 

Summer capsule – key pieces

Thanks to those of you who said pictures of some of my summer capsule may be helpful.   I have enclosed some of the key pieces that I find myself reaching for again and again.

Why these pieces:

  • Neutral colours
  • Lightweight materials
  • Classic shapes
  • Easy to style

However, I feel this capsule, as a whole, has not quite gelled for me.  I think I have too many pieces or maybe some are not versatile enough or I am not being creative enough!   Rather than angsting too much over this, I am treating it as an experiment and an opportunity to learn.

There was a time when a filled wardrobe would have led me to believe that I always had the ‘right clothes’ even though I used to stand in front of it, in despair at not finding something to wear.  Now, a half-filled wardrobe seems too full.  I believe I may have veered too much towards loving some pretty summer pieces, because they are a novelty in our climate, and not enough towards choosing versatile pieces, which earn their place.

I looked in my wardrobe today and thought ‘can I really call myself a minimalist?!’.  The answer is yes because all the ups and downs are simply another step towards a less cluttered, more meaningful life.  This is the beauty of minimalism.  It is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

When I feel overwhelmed, I often turn to other blogs which inspire and re-vitalize me.   Be More with Less and A Small Wardrobe never fail me!

A review of this capsule when summer is over should prove an interesting learning experience!

Is it just me?  Does anyone else feel they get setbacks when they thought they had cracked something?  I’d really love to hear from you.  In the meantime, have a great week 🙂

What’s in my summer capsule wardrobe

After all the planning and reviewing, my summer capsule is up and running.  I’ve taken stock of what I already have, bought a couple of new pieces, carried forward some from other capsules and dug some out of storage.  So, what have I included this year?

 

A few stats:

  • 8 bottoms (3 trousers, 3 skirts and 2 pairs of jeans)
  • 4 toppers (2 jackets and 2 cardigans)
  • 14 tops (of various sleeve lengths)
  • 2 dresses
  • 4 pairs of shoes (3 pairs of sandals and 1 pair of shoes)
  • 1 jacket (as outerwear)
  • 2 accessories (1 bag and 1 pair of sunglasses)

 

So 35 pieces in total – although 14 tops – hmmmm……. It’s only when I’ve written that down that it seems excessive.  When I was sorting out through my tops, they all seemed essential.  I’ll have to keep an eye on that and see the number of wears I get from each one.

Tips for a summer capsule:

  • I live in the UK and a range of clothes is preferable, due to the varying weather – it was cold and windy last week, it’s warm and sunny this week.
  • I’m a fan of Project 333 and it’s a brilliant framework, but it is a framework. A strict number of items is great when getting started but I’m a bit more relaxed about the numbers now.  I’m not going to worry about having 35, instead of 33 items (although those 14 tops …..)
  • Mixing and matching is what gives a capsule longevity and prevents boredom, so pick your neutrals with care. For years, I wouldn’t wear black in the summer, reserving it for the colder months.  But so many of my tops look great against a canvas of a black trousers or jeans.
  • Be realistic about how you’ll be spending your time. Dress for your real life – work, walking the dog, running errands, sitting outside – not a fantasy lifestyle.
  • If an item doesn’t work, swap it for one that does – it’s an experiment, not rules set in stone.

 

If anyone is interested in seeing pictures of the actual pieces, let me know in the comments below and I’ll include them in my next post.  In the meantime, enjoy your week 🙂