I hope my American readers enjoyed a happy Thanksgiving Day holiday yesterday. As I write this, it’s Black Friday and instead of battling the crowds in search of “amazing deals,” I’m at home writing a blog post. This is a much better use of my time and energy, especially in light of some of my recent posts about “closet churn,” wardrobe analysis, and clothing pare-downs.
Focusing More on What I Have
I decided that I needed to turn my focus away from what’s “out there” in all of the stores and online and toward what I have in my closet, so I’m doing another wardrobe challenge! If you’ve been reading for a while, you may remember that I did an “essential wardrobe” challenge back in April and May of this year. My fall challenge is very similar to what I did earlier in the year, which is basically a hybrid of Project 333 and the “30 for 30 Remix,” with my own personal twist on things. Here’s a basic overview:
- I will be dressing with 30-item capsules for both my “out and about” and at-home wardrobes for the months of November and December.
- Instead of selecting my capsule items at the beginning of the challenge, I’m building them organically as I go, adding new pieces until I reach 30 items in each capsule.
- Only clothing items are included in my capsules, but I’m also keeping track of my accessory pieces (shoes, jewelry, etc.) and how often I wear them.
- I’m making a note of how often things are worn as well as keeping an outfit journal for my “out and about” ensembles, rating each outfit and jotting down what did and didn’t work and why.
New Challenge Rule
I’ve added a new rule to the challenge this time around regarding swapping items out of my capsules. Here’s how it works:
- Probationary Items: If I have only worn something once during the challenge, I can opt to swap it out for another item, but then the original item goes “on probation.” At the end of the challenge, I will re-evaluate any probationary items to determine whether or not they should stay in my closet. This re-evaluation will include trying on new combinations using the item to see if I can make it work for me. Anything that is uncomfortable, fussy, or unflattering will be passed on for donation or consignment.
- The Weather Clause: This swap rule doesn’t apply to items swapped out for weather-related reasons. I’m adding the weather caveat because November often starts out quite warm and becomes chillier as the days progress. If I still really love a particular item but it’s too cool to wear it, it doesn’t need to go on probation. Of course, if I can appropriately layer the item and keep it in the capsule, I will do that, but that won’t work for certain pieces like cropped pants that can only be worn with sandals, for example.
So far, I haven’t swapped anything out of my capsules, but I can see this happening during the second month of the challenge, especially due to the weather clause. I doubt I will have many probationary items, but I think there will be at least a few before the challenge is over. When I debrief the challenge in early 2019, I will tell you about any and all of these items, as well as my decisions about their ultimate fate.
My Out and About Capsule So Far
I started the challenge on November 1st. Usually a “30 for 30 Remix” involves remixing the same 30 items into 30 different outfits, but I’m going to stop the challenge at the end of the year even if I haven’t worn that many out and about outfits yet (I’m going to do something different in January, which I will be sure to write about as well). I only wear “regular clothes” three or four times per week on average and since I’ve only logged 11 such ensembles thus far, I may not reach the 30 outfit target by December 31st. That doesn’t really matter, though, as I’m already learning some important things from this exploration. But before I get to those lessons, I want to give you a glimpse of my capsule items, starting with my out and about capsule.
As I’ve mentioned before, my life is very casual, so there are a lot of knit pieces in this capsule. I don’t wear a lot of woven items and I don’t have much need for dressier clothing. If you do a similar challenge, your capsules may look very different from mine, but the important thing is that we’re wearing clothing that is appropriate for our lifestyles and that we enjoy wearing.
Here are the 24 “out and about” items I’ve worn so far:
In terms of accessories (which I’m not counting among the 30 items, but still tracking), I’ve worn seven pairs of shoes and 17 jewelry pieces, and I have carried just one purse. I don’t tend to swap out my purses very often, but I think it’s high time that I do so now, as I’ve been using the same bag for months. Here’s a look at the accessories I’ve worn thus far during the challenge:
My At-Home / Workout Capsule So Far
This capsule is slightly larger than the previous one – I have worn 26 at-home/workout items so far. Many of these items have been worn a number of times as well, as I wear these types of pieces every single day. Ten of these capsule items have only been worn once, however, so they could still potentially be swapped out for another item for either weather-related or other reasons.
Here’s a look at how this capsule is shaping up at this point (I don’t have photos of five of the items – one jacket, a pair of workout shorts, and three t-shirts):
I always learn so much from the wardrobe challenges I take on, so I’m always glad I’ve done them. I’m sure that before this challenge is over, I will have more “nuggets” to share, but here’s what I’ve learned to date.
I wear a lot of black, but the truth is that I’m completely fine with that. I feel good in black and I like the streamlined and minimalist nature of it. I also really enjoy black and white prints. Stripes are my signature print and I continue to love them, but I also like wearing other types of black and white prints, including polka dots and muted florals. Here’s a close-up of the non-stripe black and white pieces (well, one is more like an “alternate stripe”…) in my out and about capsule:
I do like to pair my solid black and black/white printed pieces with a bit of color occasionally, but I typically will stick to shades of blue or burgundy in those instances (I also like purple, but there isn’t any in my capsule yet).
Interestingly, I have more color in my lounge/workout capsule, but I still mainly stick to the jewel tones, such as cobalt, red, purple, and teal. I also have a bit of gray in that capsule, which I’m enjoying wearing now that my hair is salt-and-pepper toned (as you can see at the bottom of this post).
In terms of shoes and bags, I stick with black and metallic tones, as you can see above. Although I do have a blue handbag and a few pairs of colored shoes in my closet, I haven’t been wearing them much lately. I may decide to infuse more color into that area of my wardrobe in the future, but for now I’m happy with my blacks and metallics.
Preferring Pants over Skirts and Dresses
Although I wore dresses quite a bit during the summer months, I have shied away from them this fall. I think part of this is because I prefer to wear dresses without toppers as much as possible because I like the look better that way. Additionally, the toppers I have to wear with dresses aren’t very warm. They’re fine for a cool summer evening, but don’t do a whole lot to keep me warm. I’m not much into wearing skirts at all anymore and I now greatly prefer dresses.
I keep saying that I want to wear dresses more in the cooler months and I would still like to do so, but I’ve had trouble finding long-sleeved and warmer-weight versions. I’m going to continue to keep my eyes open in that regard and I like the idea of pairing tall boots with a long-sleeved dress. However, until I find such pieces, I will continue to reserve my dresses for the summer and mostly wear pants the rest of the year.
Looser and Stretchy Pants for the Win!
I’m very happy that I made the effort to find some looser and forgiving pants styles this year, as I have enjoyed wearing them during the summer and into the fall. I love that I don’t have to maintain my weight within a three pound range in order to feel comfortable in these pants. I often struggle with water retention in my hips and thighs, so the ultra-fitted pants that have been the style for what seems like forever have been challenging for me to wear. I’m very happy wearing the pants below, especially the two printed pairs, which have added a lot of versatility to my wardrobe and pair nicely with my black and jewel-toned tops.
The other pants in my capsule may not be loose, but they include a lot of stretch, so they are still comfortable and forgiving. I like wearing the more fitted – but stretchy – pants with some of my longer and looser tops and toppers. I like that I have some good variety in terms of silhouettes and fits in my “out and about” capsule, as that gives me more versatility with a relatively small number of items.
Planning for 2019
As I move into the cooler weather and planning for my purchases in 2019, I would like to buy another pair or two of printed pants, preferably full-length. I would also like to add a few additional pairs of looser-fitting pants to my closet. This will be easier now that such styles have come back into fashion, although I’m not a fan of the high-waists that are trendy at the moment (it’s always something!). Since I always need full-length pants and jeans in tall sizes, I’m sure I will still have a challenge on my hands, but I’ve realized that taking the time to find what I truly want and need is well worth the effort.
I’m sure I will start wearing long-sleeved tops and full-length pants more often soon as the weather cools off. I have plenty of long-sleeved tops that I love, as well as a lot of great toppers, but the bottoms portion of my wardrobe is still my biggest weakness. I’ve learned, though, that adding even one pair of great pants to my closet, such as the black printed cropped pants above, can increase my wardrobe happiness level dramatically. So my greatest priority for early 2019 shopping will be to enhance my pants collection. I have already scoped out some potential options, but I’m going to continue to make notes about what I find lacking in my closet.
Sometimes when I’m getting dressed, I think about what I wished I had that I could put on. Taking the time to jot these things down has helped me to see patterns, which enables me to better plan my future shopping. I have already used up all of my 2018 shopping budget, so I will take the remainder of the year to focus on remixing what I have and identifying a small number of items to help round out my wardrobe in 2019. I already have a relatively large wardrobe, so I want to be very targeted – and limited – in what I buy. Because I plan to buy less, I need to make my purchases really count. I will also be doing more wardrobe challenges to keep my focus on what I have more than on all of the temptations of what is in the stores. This won’t be easy, but it will be worthwhile.
I will be back at the end of my fall wardrobe challenge to give a recap and more thoughts on what I’ve discovered, but now I’d love to get your feedback. Please feel free to chime in with any questions or insights from this post, as well as your own experiences with capsule challenges or any other type of wardrobe exploration. We all lead very different lives, but the bottom line is that our clothes need to work for us and support us in what we’re up to. Doing periodic wardrobe challenges can help us to better understand what we need and what we like, but we all have our individual ways of gleaning this information. I always enjoy reading about what does and doesn’t work for you, as well as what you’re learning as you endeavor to create your best version of a workable wardrobe.
Black Friday / Cyber Monday Sales
I look forward to reading your thoughts and I wish you a wonderful weekend. If you’re heading out to the Black Friday sales – or shopping online for Cyber Monday – and need some tips to help you along the way, below are some posts from me and others about smart shopping. These tips may also come in handy throughout December and into the after-Christmas sales season.
Sales Shopping Tips:
- The Holidays and Shopping: The Not-So-Perfect Storm – Recovering Shopaholic
- A New Twist on an Old Shopping Rule – Recovering Shopaholic
- Surviving Sales – Grechen’s Closet
- 10 Ways to Avoid Shopping on Impulse – Pound Place
Online Shopping Guidelines:
- Step Away from the Computer – Recovering Shopaholic
- Tips to Save Money When Shopping Online – Wardrobe Oxygen
- Keeping Your Cash: Avoiding Senseless Online Shopping – My Year Without Clothes Shopping
- Tips for Shopping Online – Putting Me Together (also see this post)