Wednesday, October 08, 2014

My Fall/Winter 2014 Capsule Wardrobe

In my previous post I discussed the theory behind having a capsule wardrobe.  I also listed the parameters I set up to create a core wardrobe that works for me.

Essentially, I am doing a modified Project 333 wardrobe.  However, I am only counting my daily wear pieces in the 33.  I am not including my scarves and jewelry, nor did I count my special occasion items in that number.

To show that you can easily do this without breaking the bank, I'd like to point out that EVERYTHING listed below was already in my wardrobe.  I will list the 4 pieces purchased new this season in a separate category at the bottom.

Please note:  My core wardrobe reflects the fact that I live a very informal lifestyle.  However the same approach will function equally as well for someone who works in a differnt environment.

Labels are not important to me, but I have tried to include the name of most items, just in case you might want to shop for something similar.  However, bear in mind that many of these pieces are likely no longer available since they are not current season purchases.

Now, on to the nitty gritty: actual clothes I am using in my core wardrobe...


--jeans - Levis Curvy 529 Skinny Leg (a great fit if you are not stick-straight)
--jeans - Lucky Brand Easy Rider boot-cut jeans (I've worn these to pieces!)
--skinny micro cords - Lauren Conrad (a darker berry color than they appear in the photo)
--black skinny pants with zipper detail on the cuffs - Lanalee
--knee-length black skirt  - Exact Change (I've had this one for YEARS & it still looks great)

TOTAL: 5 pieces


--3 long-sleeved tees (sapphire blue, charcoal, black from Old Navy and JCPenney)
--1 berry plaid button-up - St. John's Bay
--1 white cotton button-up - Apt. 9 (still searching for the perfect white shirt!)
--1 plaid flannel button-up - LLBean
--1 charcoal turtleneck rib-knit sweater - Basic Editions
--1 sapphire v-neck rib-knit sweater - Basic Editions
--1 white sleeveless shell - Lanalee

TOTAL:  9 pieces


--charcoal hand-knit cabled cardi - MicheleStitches (me!)
--black hand-knit cardi - MicheleStitches
--burgundy hand-spun, hand-knit cardi - MicheleStitches
--black & white swing cardi - Alison Sheri

TOTAL: 4 cardigans


--brown Chaco hikers
--brown Danskos
--black Alegria clogs
--black flats

TOTAL: 4 pair


--black leather bag - LLBean
--brown leather bag - American Angel

TOTAL: 2 bags

NEW for Autumn 2014

I went shopping this weekend at Dress Barn and Brown's Shoe Fit Co., adding a black jacket, 2 patterned shirts, and a pair of tall black boots to my capsule. I have waited several years to get a pair of basic leather boots!

--black zippered jacket (I bought this in leiu of a traditional blazer) - roz & ALI Textured Moto Jacket

--blue/black patterned button-neck blouse - Plumage Print Popover

--chevron, pleated, button-up bohemian blouse - roz & Ali (sorry no link available)

--black leather riding boots - Bussola "Trapani Tall" - these are super comfortable & a great price for tall, full-leather boots (I paid $30 less than the suggested retail on the company's website.)

TOTAL:  4 new pieces

That equals 28 items to make up a core wardrobe that should give me a great variety of outfits for daily wear.

I did not list the following special-purpose items in my capsule wardrobe, but they are on hand to be used as needed:

--Outerwear - 1 lighter jacket, 1 heavier coat, 1 pair of snowboots

TOTAL: 3 pieces outerwear (bringing my grand total of daily wear to 31 items!)

--Transition pieces - 3 to 4 short sleeved shirts for those days when the early fall weather is still warm
--Accessories - my small collection of jewelry as well as scarves & shawls
--Underwear & sleepwear - that's none of your business!  :-D
--Work-out wear - athletic shoes, 2 pairs of old yoga pants & an assortment of older t-shirts
--Cleaning clothes - 1 older pair of jeans & a few shirts I don't care if I ruin

In addition to these, I also have 2 nice dresses, 1 pair of black dress slacks, and 2 pairs of dressy boots to wear on those rare occasions when I need to be more formal.

So, whaddaya' think of my capsule wardrobe?  Have you ever tried to have a core wardrobe of fewer items that all coordinate well?  I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Working on a "Capsule Wardrobe"

You know what a capsule (or core) wardrobe is, right?  The concept has been around for ages, but I am happy to report that more and more people are currently embracing the idea.  For some real inspiration and a challenge, check out the Project 333 by my hero, Courtney Carver.

Simply put, a capsule wardrobe means having fewer items of clothing, preferably of high quality, that coordinate well with each other.

A capsule wardrobe does NOT have to be boring, limiting, or unfashionable.  A capsule wardrobe can eliminate the problem so many of us have:  a closet full of clothes, yet feeling as if we have "nothing to wear!"

Developing a capsule wardrobe and thinking carefully about your clothes can save you tons of time & money.  No more mountains of laundry.  No more impulse buying, filling your closet with "bargains" you don't actually need or wear.  You will find that even though you have less clothes, you have more outfits that make you feel great when you wear them.

When I went through my closet and drawers to work on my core wardrobe for cooler weather, I was astonished at how many clothes I had kept around that were getting quite shabby and did not fit well.  These items were muddying the waters, making it hard for me to see the clothes that I really enjoy wearing. 

I started to ask myself this question:

WHY am I wearing clothes daily that make me feel like a slob? 

It dawned on me that wearing faded yoga pants and worn-out tees does not really show much respect to myself and those who have to look at me every day.  (Sorry, dear family!)  Don't get me wrong, you won't see me doing the dishes in pearls and heels. (Sorry, June Cleaver.)  My daily uniform may be extremely casual (jeans, t-shirts, clogs) but it can still be well thought-out and put together in a pleasing manner.

Here are some of the "rules" I am using for my Fall/Winter Capsule Wardrobe:


1) Shop my closet and try to work with things I already own as much as possible.


In a dream world, I would probably toss a large portion of what I have and buy new, carefully coordinated basics.  Sadly, that money tree I planted in my back yard is not bearing fruit.  So, I am trying to be creative and work with what I have.  Fortunately, most of my clothes fit (although losing 5-10 lbs. would give me a little more wiggle room!)  While some of my long-sleeved tees are not in "new" condition, they are not so shabby that I am ashamed to wear them.

2) Let go of any items that don't make me feel "good." 


Clothes should fit and flatter.  I have several basic tees that have shrunk in length and are worn and faded.  I have gotten my money's worth of wear out of them.  Every time I put them on, I am constantly tugging at the hem line.  NO MORE!  They will be tossed out or designated to my "work-out" and "chore" clothes.  Once again, in an ideal world with a limitless budget, I would not even save these less-than-stellar items for exercise and doing chores.  I truly believe we have a right to feel great about ourselves no matter what we are doing.

But for right now, baby steps.

3) Core items (tops & bottoms) should frequently work as a blank canvas, adding accessories to perk things up. 


I actually like solids.  Also, I am a knitter, which means I have quite a few scarves and small shawls that I can drape around my neck or shoulders to add color and interest.  Years ago I created and sold jewelry.  I still have a pile of unused supplies.  Perhaps this will spur me to use some of those beads and get creative.

4) Core items should coordinate with each other as much as possible.


Ideally, every top will work with almost every bottom.  No one-hit wonders allowed.  Math geeks will appreciate the following concept:

If your closet contains tops that only match one specific bottom and bottoms that only match one specific top, you get:

1 top + 1 bottom = 1 outfit

2 tops + 2 bottoms = 2 outfits

3 tops + 3 bottoms = 3 outfits

4 tops + 4 bottoms = 4 outfits

Get the idea?  8 items gives you barely over half a week's worth of different outfits.

HOWEVER, if your closet contains tops & bottoms that all coordinate with each other, you will have:

1 top + 1 bottom = 1 outfit

2 tops + 2 bottoms = 4 outfits

3 tops + 3 bottoms = 9 outfits

4 tops + 4 bottoms = 16 outfits

WOW!  8 items and you have more than 2 full week's worth of different outfits, including weekends!

5)  My wardrobe needs to reflect my lifestyle, location, and culture.


I am a stay-at-home mom who works part-time as a nanny.  Therefore, I do not require office-appropriate apparel.  Nor do I have many fancy dress occasions.  I don't need a closet stocked with suits, cocktail dresses and high heels. I live in Wyoming where the weather can be severe and the culture is very practical and relaxed in regards to fashion.  Dresses and skirts in winter aren't my best bet unless they are a style that works well with leggings or tights underneath.

So there you have it, my overarching plan for creating a workable capsule wardrobe.  I'd love to know what you think.  Have you ever lived with a capsule, or core wardrobe?  What were the results?

Coming Soon:  I'll go from theory to application, giving you the nitty gritty details on what items I am planning for my Fall/Winter 2014 Capsule wardrobe.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

What Do You Do With "The Good Stuff?"

We are moving and downsizing again!  (Yes, we got the little bungalow mentioned in my previous post "Bordering on Miraculous.") This time the move is only across town, but still that means packing and moving...






The new house has only two bedrooms, not three.  There are less closets and they are MUCH smaller.  There is plenty of storage space in the basement, but I don't want to haul lots of things cross-town just to store them in a basement.

As a quick review for any new readers: After 5 of our kids graduated and moved out in a quick 5-year period of time, we realized we no longer needed our 2070 sq. ft. 5 bedroom, 8 closet, 2.5 bath house with a full attic full plus an outside storage building.  So in December, 2012 we sold it and downsized to a 3 bedroom 2 bath condo, no attic, no outside storage.  A LOT of stuff had to go!  6 months later, we moved from NC to Wyoming.  Even more stuff did not make it on the Penske truck we drove cross-country!

I am both thrilled and a bit uneasy over the opportunity to downsize even more. I have already done so much purging and releasing in the past two years.  Moving to this little house is definitely going to push me even further out of my comfort zone. I have culled until now I am pretty much down to "The Good Stuff."  All of it is neatly stored and organized, yet, it burdens me still.  Having things that are not getting used or appreciated makes me feel guilty.

Here are some examples.  Do you have similar items sitting around your house?

EXAMPLE #1:  My fine china (Noritake Etienne) and crystal stemware sitting packed in a box.

My china is a triple whammy as it falls into THREE categories that are stumbling blocks in the Great Clutter War:  the gift category, the sentimental category, and the valuable category. We never use it and don't have cabinet space for it. But golly, each plate cost over $20 in 1980's currency and each glass was $26!  You don't just Goodwill an entire set of fine Noritake china, do you?  My kids don't want it. I have looked into selling it, but I can't seem to find a good market for it. would only give me less than $200 for the whole lot of it, and safely shipping the china to them would be such a large expense and challenge in itself.  What's a gal to do?

EXAMPLE #1B:  As a corollary to the fine china, I feel compelled to mention that my everyday dishes are a lovely set of Arcoroc of France "Aspen" I recently inherited from my mother.  I always liked these dishes. My hubby, on the other hand, does not for two main reasons:  a) They are made of glass which means they are semi-transparent, a look he doesn't care for.  b)  They are shaped and molded like a leaf, which means the slightly compulsive one of us (you may guess who) wants them to be turned the "right" way when on the table (who wants to eat off an upside down leaf?) and turned the same direction when stacked in the cabinets so that they fit nicely together.  The less compulsive one of us (you may guess who) thinks this is a pain!  I would like to replace them with something simple that we BOTH like.  But I struggle with what to do with these dishes.  Not to mention it is hard to justify spending money on new dishes when already have a set that is perfectly functional.

EXAMPLE #2:  My fabric.  I purged boxes of fabric last year.  I gave large quantities to quilters I knew.  My fabric is now down to a few containers -- a carefully curated collection of "The Good Stuff" -- patterns and colors that I actually like.  But I'm not using it.  I no longer have a designated sewing spot which means that setting up the machine is an event.  In the last year I have sewn only a few times.  Once again, I perceive this fabric as valuable.  It was not cheap.  I acquired much of it when I was selling project bags on Etsy.  Also, the fabric falls into the I-may-need-it-someday category.  What if I get the sewing urge again? 

EXAMPLE #3:  My beading supplies.  Once upon a time I had a small jewelry and hair stick business.  I sold my handcrafted items in a local shop and online.  It fed my need to create.  It was great fun.  But when it became work, a drudge, and I stopped.  So, I now have a fabulous collection of quality beads and jewelry making supplies that I almost NEVER use except for when one of my daughters needs a nice gift to give a friend.  I don't wear much jewelry, and my hair is not even long enough to use hair sticks any more.  Like the other examples, this is "The Good Stuff."  While there are some less expensive components, my collection also includes a good bit of Swarovski crystals, Czech glass & sterling silver.   Heck, just the fancy-schmancy storage containers that organize them are worth a pretty penny!  Trying to divide it up into small lots and selling it online would be time-consuming and tedious.  I keep hoping to stumble across someone who makes beaded jewelry who might want to buy the whole collection for a steal.  Meanwhile, I hang onto it because what else am I going to do?

These examples are just some of "The Good Stuff" I am struggling with.  I have done some deep soul-searching trying to figure out what is holding me back from simply donating these, and other similar items to charity.  I believe it is because I perceive them to have significant value.  I have already given away hundreds (probably thousands) of dollars worth of stuff.  I want to be a good steward. If I could find a proper venue to sell them at a decent price that is proportional to the effort required, I would do so.  I would also gladly give some of these things away to someone I love, or someone who I know would value them.  But I can't bring myself to just haul them off to the Salvation Army or Goodwill.  Remember, this is "The Good Stuff." I feel the need to find a "proper" home for it...somewhere it's value will be appreciated.

I see my options as the following:

--Keep, store, and ignore the guilt.
--Keep and find a way to use.
--Give away to friends/family.

So, what do YOU do with "The Good Stuff?" If you have any ideas or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Bordering on Miraculous...

Through a series of strange coincidences, we have just stumbled upon a lovely little historic bungalow (in a very desirable part of town & walking distance to my husband's work) that will be coming up for rent at HALF what we are currently paying!

This may be the answer to my prayers.  I am so stoked!

We have been budget crunching and house hunting for the last few months and have gotten rather discouraged at the high prices of the market where we live.

Seriously, folks.  This opportunity borders on miraculous. 

--Although it is old, it has had lots of updates (thermal windows, extra insulation, updated heating & plumbing.)

--The owner is the conscientious kind who takes wonderful care of her property and currently resides only a few blocks away.

--It is walking/biking distance to our public library...something that would thrill my 12 year-old voracious reader.

--It has all hardwood floors.

--It is a no-smoking, no-pets property (which is perfect since hubby has allergies.)

--I has adorable features like built-in craftman-style cabinets, a sunroom, and French doors.

--The lease is only 6 months, and then month-to-month.  That gives us wiggle room if our "dream home" should come on the market at an affordable price.

--Did I mention that the rent is HALF what we are currently paying?  :-)

I have only seen photos of the interior.  It is currently occupied, so we still have to walk through it; but today I met with the landlord and she sent me home with the rental paperwork, so I think it could be ours if we want it.

I am trying to not get too excited, only to have my hopes dashed into smithereens...but I may be keeping my fingers (and toes) crossed. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Where Life Took Us...

In August of 2012, in a post titled "How to Let Go of Stuff" I wrote the following:
"Another mental image I use is imagining all my stuff on chains attached to my ankles.  If I am sitting in one spot these shackles may not be a big deal, but if I want to get up and move, all that dead weight is dragging behind.  The more I let go, the lighter my burden and the freer I will be to easily pick up and go wherever life takes us!"

When I wrote that blog post, sitting in warm, humid, eastern NC, I had no idea that life was going to take us somewhere far, far away in the following WYOMING! Dear Hubby was offered his dream job in February 2013, and we made plans to relocate.

When we found out we would be moving cross-country, words can not begin to describe how very thankful I was that I had spent the previous year decluttering and letting go of STUFF.  What a relief to have already sold our house and downsized to a much smaller rented condo just a few months before the job offer came.  Our only large financial commitment was the 6 month lease we had to complete.  The new employer said they could wait.

The amazing thing was after all that "letting go," when it came time to pack for "The Big Move," I found even more STUFF that could be jettisoned.  STUFF that we had moved to the condo and not used a single time during those 6 months.  We were able to fit all our worldly possessions into a single Penske truck for the long cross-country trek.  I can testify: packing up every single thing you own and loading it into a truck is not only physically demanding, it is seriously STRESSFUL.  But, as challenging as it was, if I had not already done the emotional and physical release of so many things, "The Big Move" would have probably caused an emotional breakdown for me!

And now, here I sit in the kitchen of my rental home in Wyoming.  Wanna' see the view from my deck during warmer months?

And here is what it looks like during this time of year.  (No morning coffee on the deck today!)

Now that we have settled and know we want to stay out here in the Wild West, we are searching for a home to buy...three moves in less-than 2 years?!  Oy vey!

And you know what?  I have a feeling when the time comes, I will be letting go of even more STUFF!

Friday, February 08, 2013

A Tale About Knitting With Handspun

Once upon a time there was a lovely 4 oz. bump of Frabjous Fibers that did not know what it should be when it grew up.  But a nice lady took it home with her and lovingly spun it into singles.

Because the lady was a novice spinner and had not yet learned to Navajo ply, she decided to spin a bump of some Ashland Bay in a pretty cranberry color to go with the Frabjous Fiber.

When they were all plied together, the lady had a wonderful yarn that she was so happy with. 

But this lady just didn't know what to make with her new handspun yarn.  So she set it aside to admire and wait for it to speak to her.  She waited.  And she waited.  And she waited.

Eventually this lady began to feel kind of silly.  She had spun this yarn (and a few others) to be knit, not sit on a shelf.  She had even spun yarn for friends to knit, but the lady had never actually knit with her own handspun!  So the lady decided that this must be rectified immediately!  She went on a quest through the vast forest of patterns found in the mystical land of Ravelry.  After much searching, the lady finally stumbled upon a beautiful shawl pattern put out by the good fairy Miriam L. Felton.  This Lune Shawl had a magical swirl to its shape making it easy to wear.  It also had a variation that was in simple stockinette stitch...perfect for her yarn with it's many color changes.

And so, the lady cast on and began to knit with her handspun.  This made the lady so very happy, that she vowed to knit up ALL her handspun and to never be so foolish again.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Recommended Reading

I thought I would share with you some of the blogs and books I have been reading that have helped me as I declutter my surroundings and work towards the goal of simplifying and minimizing my possessions and time-commitments down to the truly important.

The following are listed in no particular order. by Courtney Carver is a lovely site.  She has written two excellent e-books:  Simple Ways to Be More With Less and Living in the Land of Enough is the home of Francine Jay, the author of The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, a book I highly recommend as well. Is Tammy Strobel's very interesting blog where I first learned about tiny homes.  Her new book, You Can Buy Happiness (and It's Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too will be out sometime this month, and I can't wait to read it!

Leo Babauta is a name well-known in minimalist and simple living circles.  He is considered by many to be the Godfather of this movement.  You can find his writings at and  Two of his more popular books are The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Business and in Life and The Effortless Life:  A Manual for Contentment, Mindfulness, & Flow by Sandra never ceases to challenge me.  I always look forward to her posts. is co-written by two good friends,  Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, who call themselves "The Minimalists."  They are one of my more recent "finds" and I have been gleaning a good deal from their writings.  They also have a collection of their essays put together in book format:  Minimalism:  Essential Essays

This is by no means a comprehensive list!  There are so many excellent authors out there who are embracing the concept of minimizing and simplifying to live a more full and satisfying life.  However, what I have listed above should definitely give a seeker plenty of food for thought.  Enjoy!


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