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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

De-cluttering by season

white-shirtThe Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is one of my favourite books and is invaluable in my ongoing journey to simplicity.  When I first read it, I did a wardrobe de-clutter and it was so satisfying.  I re-phrased ‘does it spark joy?’ to ‘does it add value?’ as it worked better for me.  My raincoat doesn’t exactly spark joy but as I live in England, it adds immeasurable value.

However, looking back, I fell into a silly and obvious trap.  If, for example, I de-cluttered three worn, ill-fitting or unflattering white shirts, I then bought a single white shirt in their place, that fit my new criteria, or so I thought.  I even felt a warm, self-satisfied glow, thinking I had replaced three items with one.  If that wasn’t minimalism, what was?!!  What I didn’t do, was ask the most basic question of ‘do I actually need a white shirt?’.  Having three shirts or one was not the problem.  Having one of any item that I don’t wear or have a need for, is not helping the simplicity journey!

While I am so pleased that I carried out the initial overall wardrobe de-clutter, I now carry out a seasonal, smaller de-clutter that works better for me.  When I transition my clothes from one season to another, I review what I loved wearing and why and what I didn’t reach for and why.   The majority of pieces are either carried forward for a future capsule or I let them go, in the hope that someone else will find a use for and a pleasure in them, which had eluded me.

I then try on every piece that I had put aside for the forthcoming season and subject them to the same scrutiny.  I find the overlapping review of seasons – past and future – is a better indicator, especially now, when I have been losing some weight over the past year.  Although a season is only three months, weight loss can make a difference – and far more so with bottoms, than tops, I’ve noticed.

I still read Marie Kondo’s helpful book and dip in and out of it quite often.  She does frame her method as being a one-off tidying exercise and, if done properly, it never has to be done again.  However, I see my seasonal weeding out as an ongoing review of what suits me and my lifestyle, rather than a significant de-cluttering task.  It feels like a mindful and intentional way of reviewing and appreciating the clothes I am so lucky to have.