the capsule wardrobe, part 3: my color palette

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looking back, it’s kind of crazy that I haven’t really done a capsule wardrobe until now because while I definitely didn’t have a capsule wardrobe in terms of number of items, I definitely had one when it came to a color palette. for this fall’s capsule wardrobe, I just went with what I already was doing naturally, so this part was easy for me.

in case it hasn’t been clear, I’m all about the neutrals. I’ve always loved black, for its timelessness and how much impact it creates paired with anything. grey (which in my mind is just the softer side of the same coin that has black on the other side) is my favorite color. I love that it can go from dark and moody, the color of a stormy sea, to light and delicate, like the down of a feather. and I can’t not wax poetic about white, pure and crisp. and there you have it, my neutral trinity.

lest you think I hate all color, I’m also drawn to reds and blues. so many good things are red – wine, strawberries, my go-to bold lipstick. etc. it’s powerful and classic. as for blues, it’s back to the ocean again – I love the water and all its shade of blues. for this capsule collection, I infused some pops of color via some key pieces in cobalt, fire engine red, inky navy, and moody crimson. et voila, my color palette. nothing too crazy, but it suits me to a T, and while I haven’t actually done this, I’m 99.85% sure I could blindly grab any two items from my closet and get dressed in the dark, and I’d walk out more or less as though I had gotten dressed in a well-lit room. this fact has me thanking God every morning at 5:00 a.m. when I’m barely awake and need to get dressed.

what colors made it into your palette?

shades of whiteindigo

pops of red and cobalt

the capsule wardrobe, part 2: where I shop

stores

like a lot of women, I find my body hard to dress. I’m quite short and busty, with athletic calves that are remnants of my long-past running days. petite jeans fit me lengthwise, but petite tops often do not. I have a really hard time with dresses because the proportions of most dresses are all wrong on me (they’re obviously made for a taller woman), and while petite sizing works length-wise, it doesn’t accommodate my top half, unless it’s made of something with some give, like jersey. ah, jersey. where would I be without jersey? I have a love affair with jersey, but that’s for another post. this is all to say that I’ve gotten years of practice in figuring out what brands and stores work for my body and what don’t. this part of building a capsule wardrobe was actually one thing I already did previously.

my list of go-tos won’t necessarily work for you, but maybe some things will and end up on your own shortlist.

where I shop for what

tops | zara, old navy (basic, trendy), gap (classics, i.e. striped shirt), j.crew (something interesting when on sale)

jeans | gap (they’re awesome! I’m partial to the legging jean, the real straights, and sometimes the always skinny)

sweaters | j.crew/j.crew factory (casual), br (dressy), old navy (trendy), gap (casual)

dresses | j.crew factory, old navy (trendy), gap (casual), br (dressy), nordstrom (special occasion, certain brands)

workwear | ann taylor (mostly tops), loft (business casual), br (dressier options), j.crew (mostly shoes and sweaters)

outerwear | nordstrom, h&m (in their h&m+ section), macy’s

shoes | zara (trendy), madewell (boots, flats), j.crew (heels, flats), (dv by) dolce vita (I like pretty much everything they make), nine west (pumps), via spiga (dressy), clarks (comfy!), ann taylor, nordstrom rack

misc | gap (workout gear, underwear), t.j. maxx/marshalls (socks, basics), nordstrom (lingerie), hanes (lingerie)

splurge | nordstrom, shopbop

beauty | walgreens, ulta, sephora, nordstrom, zappos

aside from being tried and true, I also buy a lot of my things from these places because of their shipping and/or return policies. it’s inevitable that something won’t fit right, and when that happens, it’s nice to know that I don’t have to stress about exchanging it or returning it within a reasonable time frame. and lastly, while it’s good to curate a list of places that are pretty much fail-safe, don’t be afraid to branch out to other places if your go-tos don’t come through. sometimes it happens if you’re looking for something very specific or something that might not be in season yet. if a brand you’re unfamiliar with happens to have what you’re looking for, do some research – what are their policies, what reviews do they get, what reviews did that particular item get, etc. also, go back to the basics of the product itself – what is it made of? is it of good quality? I believe you can find good-quality products at all different price points from all different places. you might just have to look a little longer/harder.

what are your go-tos?

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the capsule wardrobe, part 1

clothingrack

I mentioned last week that I had done a major overhaul of my closet, an overhaul that was completely inspired by Caroline and her lovely blog. you should read about the idea of a capsule wardrobe on her blog here, but the main idea is to limit yourself to a concise edit of clothes for every season. I’m tweaking her system a little bit and changing it to my own, partly because of weather differences (she lives in Texas and I live in Chicago) and partly because we’re two different people. I love that Caroline encourages each of her readers to make the system his or her own and advocates the capsule wardrobe idea as one thing to try if your current system isn’t working for you. this is what sold me on giving it a try, since she wasn’t proscribing that it was going to be the solution, just something worth giving a shot if the status quo wasn’t something you were satisfied with. that’s where I was at. I had plenty of clothes, but I always felt like I had nothing to wear. I was overwhelmed by all the choices hanging in my closet and 95% of the time, I ended up wearing the same things over and over. after reading Caroline’s blog, I realized that the 5% I reached for constantly were either the things I loved or the things that worked best for my life, or both. they were literally where form and function met in my closet. was it any wonder that they were the ones kept in heavy rotation and everything else was neglected? then I thought about how I didn’t like having things I neglected, how I didn’t want to be someone who had more than she used. so…

…I did a major edit of my entire wardrobe. since I’m an overthinker and partial to sentimentality, I went with my gut when selecting what to keep or not keep. when considering an item, if I immediately remembered that I loved it or used it frequently, it stayed. if I hesitated a little, it went into the maybe pile. if I hesitated a lot or flat out hated it, it went into the gone pile. the majority of the items that didn’t make the cut were either donated to goodwill/savers/the salvation army or packed to be sent to my family in the Philippines. a handful of things I ended up consigning or selling on the spot. I revisited the maybe pile and edited it further down, with most things being added to the give away pile. the 8 things I was still undecided on got put into storage. if I come looking for something in that box during the fall/winter, then it stays. if come spring, I haven’t given any of these pieces a thought, they’ll go. although I didn’t do an accounting of how much exactly I had before the edit, judging by how clothes look in our new (smaller) closet and comparing it to how they looked hanging in our old apartment, I’d say I cut at least 50% of my wardrobe, if not close to 2/3.

from here, I tweaked Caroline’s 37-item, season by season capsule wardrobe to my own 56-item, somewhat seasonal capsule wardrobe. I chose to do a combined fall/winter capsule wardrobe, because in Chicago, fall lasts for about a month before things get really cold for the next 5 months. I chose 56 items because it seemed like a happy medium between 37 and 74 (37 x 2). like Caroline, I chose not to count such essentials like underwear, socks, hosiery, pajamas and workout clothes in my 56-item count, but like her, I did go through these categories and edited them down as well to amounts that felt generously limited. unlike Caroline, I chose to not count coats/jackets as part of my 56 items since by my logic, coats and jackets are not primarily fashion choices (though they can certainly be fashionable) when one lives in a place that gets cold for over half the year – they’re essentials. how many items do they amount to? 10. I have a puffer coat, a parka, a jean jacket, an army green utility jacket, a khaki utility jacket, a light fleece, a black topper, a rain jacket, and a classic trench. if you’re keeping count, that’s 9, but I am planning on adding a peacoat/car coat to my fall/winter wardrobe, so including that that comes to 10. 10 seems like a lot, and it is, but all of these are of different weights to account for all weather between -30 degrees to 60 degrees and some are multi-seasonal, so I find 10 to be a good number for me.

the last of my tweaks comes to shoes. I’ve decided to keep the total number to 40 and under, which if spread throughout the year, is about 10 pairs a season. my current total is at 36, including flip flops.  if I do add a pair or two that I’m considering, they will most likely replace a couple of pairs from the 36.

whew. that took awhile. but enough about the prep work and onto how I put my capsule wardrobe together. below is a collage of what I’ve been tossing around in my head for the upcoming season. some of the items aren’t actually items I’m considering purchasing but represent a color or a shape or a texture that I’m intrigued about and thinking of incorporating in my wardrobe for the next 6 months. some things aren’t even things at all – pencils, hot chocolate, scenes – but things I’d like to be doing in the next season. a little bit of the things that speak to my style, a little bit of things that speak to my life and who I am and who I want to be – that mix is what I’d like my closet to reflect (again, Caroline inspired me with this post when I was creating the collage). this is my inspiration board of sorts and the springboard from which I picked my color palette, which I’ll talk about in an upcoming post.

fw inspiration

what are you wearing this fall?

images via one | two | three | four | five | six | seven

backpack, backpack

backpacking

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m on the hunt for a backpack. I haven’t worn one since high school, making the conscious decision to eschew one all through college. all through undergrad, I used totes. but I find myself a student again at the same time that the 90s  are back…which means backpacks are in again. usually I do a double take before jumping on an obvious trend, but I have a soft spot for the decade of my childhood (Spice Girls forever!), and I actually do need one. now the only question is: chic or sporty?

chic || black grid| tan | black with zipper

sporty || grey | black | red

lately

desk

a lot has been happening around here, and I realized that if I were to dedicate a post to it all, it would end up having to be 20 posts or a 20-page post. I’ll spare you all that reading and give it to you in (friendlier) bullet points:

  1. first things first: I’m a student again! I waited until I felt ready and excited to study again, and that time is now. it’s the early stages yet, but I’m loving my classes. they’re challenging and interesting and thought-provoking, and I love it. I feel ready for the challenge, and I’m eager to take it all on.
  2. commuting is…ok. it’s not as hard as I thought it would be, but it’s certainly draining. it takes me about 2 hours going in and about an hour and 20 going back out, so 3.5 hours round trip. I’m sure it will be worse once the winter sets in, but I’m taking the “I’ll deal with that when it comes” road on that one.
  3. workouts are back on. I get off work at 4 and head straight for the gym, where I do a combination of stretches, cardio, and weight training for a little more than an hour, then I shower and drive downtown to pick up James on the way home (he gets off work at 6). it’s been working out nicely. the exercise gives me the space to let out some stress (that sometimes I don’t even know I’m carrying), it re-energizes me for the drive home, and it gives me the stamina to do all the things I have to do in addition to keeping me healthy. it’s been feeling really good. I wake up in the morning feeling sore, but in that good way where you feel limber and active. my body and mind have been thanking me for it. to make sure I stay on track and ready to go, I pack my gym bag the night before so that I can just grab it on the way to the car.
  4. we’re working on our retirement…and got us a financial planner. we’re still working on beefing up establishing our 401ks, but you have to start somewhere, right? we’d like to retire someday…and have kids…and send them to school…so, yeah, we’re reviewing the financial plan packet our adviser just created for us. seriously, the fact that I have a financial plan packet and thinking of terms like diversifying and really knowing our long-term and short-term financial goals is a little weird, but we’re doing it. does this mean we’re adults now?
  5. my closet has shrunk to 1/3 its former size. I’ve been inspired by Caroline and in the process of tweaking my wardrobe for the fall/winter. more on that soon, but I’m loving that I know exactly what’s in my closet and that I use it all.
  6. I know IKEA gets some flack sometimes for not being the best quality, but it has been a lifesaver the past month. making our 10 x 12 bedroom a multi-purpose room would have been 1000x harder without them. they just design pieces that work in tough spots. I would like “real” furniture someday, but IKEA will always have a fond place in my heart.
  7. I’m growing my hair out. honestly, I’m tempted to chop it back into the long bob I’ve been rocking for a couple of years, but it’s growing out so nicely and I don’t want to mess with it, so I’m letting it do its thing right now.
  8. after a few years of feeling like I’m slogging through mud at every turn, the past couple of weeks have been the exact opposite. I feel energized and renewed, like I’ve awoken from a stupor I didn’t even know I was in. things I struggled with for years suddenly ceased to be important, I’m no longer racked with guilt or indecision or regret. I want to get things done and move on to a new chapter. there’s a part of me that worries if this is a flame that’s bound to burn out, but I quash that thought as soon as it comes and push on harder. I’m grabbing this clarity and running with it as fast and as hard as I can.

whew. that’s all of it, for now. if you made it this far, congrats and thanks!

what have you been up to?

 

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coming around again

suitcases

hi! long time no see. I didn’t realize it had been over a month since my last blog post, simply because these past 5 weeks have gone by in a blur. why the absence? the long of it is since july 18, James and I visited Boston, packed, moved, unpacked, now commute 1 hour and 15 minutes each way to work Monday-Friday, and are still unpacking during the weekends. the short of it is life is kind of crazy (to put it mildly) right now. there was one point about a week or so into my absence where I was a little peeved with myself about not getting everything checked off my to-do list. this lasted for about 5 seconds, until I was overwhelmed just by thinking about the sheer amount of things that had to be done and just decided to let go. for those who know me well in real life, this is big because letting go is not my thing. but in this case, it was either lose my mind or let go. so I focused on the things that absolutely needed to get taken care of, mainly my responsibilities at my full-time job, packing/moving/unpacking, and not being a completely stressed-out PITA for James. everything else got set aside, including this blog.

the time away was very much necessary. I had the time to focus on pressing, important things and more time to spend with the important people in my life, which includes myself. l read books, I thought long and hard about what changes I wanted to make in my life, sometimes I was lazy…it was lovely to have things a little bit more simple for a little while. these weeks have given me some perspective, new discernment, rest, and a new creative energy that was hard for me to find in the months leading up to the move. and now, I’m coming round again.

I stated over 11 months ago in my first post on this blog after moving to wordpress that fall for me always feels like the beginning of something new, and I feel the same way now, as summer comes to a close. I start school in a little over a week, we’re adjusting to our new living situation, and I’m writing again, here. I’m ready for a new season.

are you ready for fall?

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the friday five

fridayfive

happy Friday! the weekend is here, and I can’t wait…it looks to be a good one. my sister is back for the last couple of weeks of her summer, so we’ll hang, James and I are painting our new bedroom (after taking forever to decide on a color), Boston is less than a week away…and the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale has begun for everyone. I always try to pick up some of the pricier fall things I might want/need during this sale because the prices are great. this week’s friday five is made up of the top 5 things I’m eyeing. have a great weekend!

sale highlights

  greytopcoat

| I love everything about this topper…the color, the shape, the fit, the price |

efmotojacket

| such a cool jacket…in comfortable leather-trimmed wool |

mbmjbag

| definitely not a need, but isn’t it lovely? |

efwoolandleatherjacket

| what can I say? I’m a sucker for wool and leather, doubly so when they’re paired in a chic way, like on this jacket |

ridingboot

| I’ve been wanting a a pair of riding boots for years. this one has the potential to fit my big calves, fingers crossed. |