So first, let me be honest and say that my Summer 2016 Capsule Wardrobe was finalized and in full swing the past few weeks. It’s been difficult to keep my blog posts in sync with the actual process. So I don’t have the step-by-step recap I originally wanted to share with you all. Instead, I wanted to share with you some of the lessons I learned from the process.
Lesson #1: The “Cleaning Out” may need to be repeated in special circumstances.
So in my last post about my Capsule Wardrobe, I shared how I decided on the clothing pieces to be kept, stored, and discarded/given away. After that step, I found that there was a whole lot of items that simply could not be worn this summer for a number of reasons:
- The abnormally hot, humid (yet oddly rainless) Michigan summer made me store a lot more of my otherwise usable items in storage.
- I have lost a great deal of weight in the past few months, and much of what was already in my closet were much to big. I was getting pretty tired of pulling up my pants/adjusting my oversized shirts in order to feel comfortable.
- The few pieces that did fit well, I ended up over-wearing. For example, the one paid of Levi’s black skinny jeans that fit me reasonably well ended up with a large hole because I had worn them day in and day out. I was extremely sad to have to let them go, but had no choice.
So, once I was able to finalize my already “finalized” sorting process, I was left with an extremely pared down closet. Here is a list of what I was left with:
- a pair of slim bootcut jeans (Levi’s) – These stayed in my closet for the sole reason I could wear them without having to pull them up too much. But they were still pretty darn big. So once I was able to purchase several better fitting pairs of jeans, these also ended up in storage.
- a plaid sleeveless shift dress (Gap) – This dress also started out as “workable” in size…until it wasn’t. But luckily, I was able to find a replacement within my existing stored items (more on that later).
- a collegiate t-shirt (MSU Bookstore) – What is it about college-wear that makes them so much smaller than what the tag makes them out to be? This shirt is one of the few items I am still able to wear (though now, much more comfortably…I love the looser fit of it!)…and I must have at least ONE Spartan shirt to show the world I bleed green and white. #GoGreen #GoWhite #SpartansWill
- 2 vintage wash t-shirts (Gap) – These were more recent purchases made once I started losing weight. I originally had 4, but the white one got majorly stained (lesson learned, folks…lesson learned) and the striped one just doesn’t look very good on me anymore. So I have my heather gray one (which I’m about to replace) and black one left.
- a utility vest (J.Crew Factory) – With the blistering Michigan heat (whoever thought THAT phrase would ever actually make sense?), I was actually tempted to go ahead and place this one in storage as well. But I couldn’t make myself do it because it added so much to my already meager wardrobe. So it’s still there…and I still wear it on any day the temperatures dip back down into the 70s.
- a black 3/4-sleeve knit long cardigan (White House|Black Market) – Again, a more recent purchase…made out of necessity when I needed a nicer black outfit to do some stage managing for our church’s Easter Sunday services. I haven’t worn it much due to the aforementioned Michigan heat, but definitely love it and will wear it again once temperatures regulate a little again.
- a pair of black, heeled booties (Anne Klein) – That’s right…I’m one of those crazy people who loves boots SO MUCH, I’m willing to wear them on even the hottest days of summer. These in particular I kept because they have some nice, mid-height heels but are super-duper comfortable. Not to mention a classic design, which I will be able to wear for a long time. They are ones that I will probably keep as long as I can…taking them to a cobbler and stuff to get re-soled when the time comes.
- a pair of brown leather lace-up utility boots (ALDO) – Again with the crazy boots obsession…I may need to seek help on this.
- a pair of walking sneakers (New Balance) – These were my go-to shoes. Considering for a while I had only one pair of jeans to wear (with mostly t-shirts to go with them), it worked out ok.
Yeah…I was wearing pretty much a rotation of 3 or 4 outfits for a week or so due to a SERIOUS lack of diversity in my wardrobe. But…the problem was soon remedied.
Lesson #2: Identify your needs BEFORE you start trying to fill up your wardrobe again!
Obviously, I had a great many holes to fill…some more dire than others. I didn’t realize just how few items I had to work with for the summer until I put/gave all my unwearable items away. I was definitely tempted to immediately hop into the car and head to the nearest outlet mall to get new things…without a plan or purpose. But I knew I did not want to waste any money on items I would end up giving up in bulk again. So…I took my time and identified exactly what it was that I wanted to buy to make my Capsule Wardrobe workable for me.
Here is the list I came up with:
- Bottoms – Specifically, I would need a new pair of black skinny jeans, and a couple of lighter weight denim jeans (maybe even cropped?) for the warmer months. This was probably the BIGGEST need, lest I wear my one pair of bootcut jeans everyday. I also wanted to find a pair of denim shorts. While I don’t wear shorts very often, I knew I would want to have that option on those very un-Michigan-like HOT HOT HOT days. Also helpful would be to find at least one casual skirt (knee-length or at most 2 inches above the knee) to give my wardrobe a bit more versatility.
- Tops – Three t-shirts…that’s what I was down to. I could have hung onto a lot more simply for the sake of having more variety, but I knew that I wouldn’t wear any of the “meh” pieces anyway. So I rotated through three t-shirts for about a week or so (jazzing it up with a cardigan or a necklace), but was definitely out seeking our more. All I knew as far as tops were concerned was that I wanted to stick to looser, flowy, solid colored t-shirts as my core (at least 5 total), but also wanted to bring in a boyfriend-style button-down shirt (color didn’t matter), a couple unique, flowy pieces (tunic length preferred), and a couple of tank tops that were also a looser fit.
- Dresses – I needed at least one or two casual dresses that could be worn in the place of my usual jeans-and-t-shirt attire. I wanted to stick to a neutral color palate (favoring gray and black) and cuts that didn’t cling to my body, but also weren’t overly flared. I wanted these dresses to fall nicely off my body. Plus, I wanted to be able to pair them with a nice vest (like my J.Crew utility vest).
- Outerwear – There was only one item I REALLY wanted when it came to outerwear…A DENIM VEST!! But it had to be the right cut, length, and shade of blue (picky, picky, picky!!). I didn’t even know how to describe what I was looking for…I just knew I would know when I saw it. Other than that, if I could find one other vest top that would add interest to my t-shirt/jeans almost-uniform, I would snatch it up.
- Shoes – My need for shoes boiled down to four…a pair of brown/cognac flat sandals, a pair of dressier shoes/sandals for fancier affairs (that are NOT boots), a pair of black walking sneakers, and a pair of Vans in a lighter, neutral tone (I prefer Vans over Keds or Converse).
Every capsule wardrobe will tell you the same thing – be SPECIFIC in what you are looking for. Simply browsing and picking up whatever hits your fancy won’t work because you need to know what will and will not work with what you already have. With the guidelines above, I knew I would be able to find pieces that I would love and be able to mix-and-match easily into looks that fit my lifestyle.
Lesson #3: Don’t forget! You may already have what you really need (and love).
Now, before I had a chance to go out and shop for items, I began to dig through the clothing items in storage that remained after my systematic purge. Let me tell you, it was a GOLD MINE of hidden, almost forgotten gems that I am SO GLAD I kept. These are items that I had worn CONSTANTLY prior to my pregnancy, and I knew I wanted to give another chance, if I ever could lose enough baby weight to fit into them again. It went against the very FIBER of my minimalist, “I want to get rid of as much as possible” mindset, but these were items that were SO dear to me, I just couldn’t bear to let go until I knew for sure I could NEVER wear them again.
Lucky for me, the day came that my decision found its justification (after losing over 15 pounds of my post-baby weight), and I now have these items in my closet…and I LOVE them!!
A serious treasure trove of awesome pieces!
- An olive-green short cargo-style skirt (LOFT) – This is a skirt that has saved me in the past when I was “in-between” sizes. When I found it, I wondered if I was in that “in-between” land again. Lo and behold, it fit me like a glove, and I have worn it several times this summer already. Skirts are a lifesaver in the summer. Not even shorts can TOUCH their abilities to keep cool in warm months.
- A pair of denim shorts (American Eagle) – The label on these shorts indicate they are a size 2. However, they had stretched out enough to be TOO BIG for me at my thinnest before my pregnancy. So, much like the LOFT skirt, these shorts serve me well now as I am slowly shedding pounds and inches. Plus, they are possibly the most comfortable pair of denim shorts I have owned IN MY LIFE!! So glad I kept these and re-discovered them!!
- A gray knitted hooded vest (Banana Republic) – This thing was the FIND OF THE DECADE when I bought it two years ago. The fit, the style, and the weight/durability of it simply worked for me. So when I was going through my clothing storage and found it, I felt like a multitude of angels had broken through the clouds and into the Hallelujah chorus. Obviously, this item needed to go back into my wardrobe.
- A brown (tan) short-sleeved long cardigan (LOFT) – One item I had planned on adding to my shopping list was another long, lightweight knit cardigan that was NOT black and a whole lot more casual (I already had a black one in my current closet from “White House | Black Market” that I LOVED!!). While searching for my gray knit vest, I ran across this cardigan and TOTALLY saved myself the hassle and money of purchasing a new one. It was neutral enough to go with so many of my other items, versatile enough to work both casual and a tad more dressy look, and lightweight enough to carry me through a Michigan summer!
- A black peplum blazer (Geoffrey Beane) – Speaking of “dressing up”…I wanted a piece that I could use to dress up as many of my other, more casual pieces. What better than a nice blazer, right? Unfortunately, I have not lost enough weight and inches to fit into most of my blazers. But THIS one was different…because of the looser shape and the peplum style, it worked with my current body type so well. In fact, I wore this item with a red shift dress (see next item description) to a wedding back in May. It worked PERFECTLY!!
- A red shift dress (gift from Korea) – When I first received this dress as a gift, it was WAY too tight on me and did not look good. I had actually forgotten I had this dress, when I went digging through my storage looking for things I could possibly add to my current wardrobe. This one caught my eye because of its color and the material (which make it possible to both dress up and dress down). Plus, it breathes so well and is cool to the touch…PERFECT for those hotter Michigan summer days!
- A fleece heather gray pleated dress (Gap) – This is possibly my MOST FAVORITE dress I have EVER owned. For that reason, I refused to part with it. It has been sitting in storage since the day it became too tight for me (about 4 months into my pregnancy). Once I was able to refocus on losing the post-pregnancy weight, this dress was one of the few key reasons/goals that kept me motivated to count the calories and stay active. And now…the day has come that I can wear it again. It is a little thick for summer, but I’m willing to bear the heat. This will definitely be a piece that will likely stay in my wardrobe through the Fall as well.
- A black lace cocktail dress (Madewell) – This is a dress that my sister insisted I needed to purchase back in 2014. I was never one to enjoy dressing up, but she said that it was an important staple piece I needed in my wardrobe. Boy, was she right! I love this dress and have worn it to many functions that demanded fancier attire. So now that I have slimmed down again, it’s time to put it back in my wardrobe for those upcoming banquets, weddings, and other special events…at least, until my winter capsule wardrobe, where it will be WAAAAAY too cold to wear anything made primarily of lace.
So don’t forget to check back to the things you LOVE that you have laid away in storage. If the piece was loved so much you had to hang onto it, it’s likely you will still love it and be able to give it new life!