October 8, 2014

fall/winter 2014 capsule wardrobe + thoughts

For my birthday, Eric sent me off to buy some new clothes. I bet a lot of you would love that. "Hey, honey- go get yourself some new clothes. Buy whatever you want!" Sounds nice in theory, huh? Right, but I have this little thing about, well, really abhorring dressing rooms and such.

Plus, you know, I'm on this capsule wardrobe kick and I want to keep my closet simple. I've worked hard to clean out my closet but I'm not sure I trust myself to be disciplined as I start to fill it back up again! I was pretty confident I had enough to get me through the next few months until I realized some of my favorite shirts were losing stitches at the hems and developing holes in the knit.

That's a pitfall of one shopping on a tight, tight budget I guess. I mean, I gawked when Caroline posted that her fall wardrobe budget was $1000. That's (seriously, now!) pretty close to my family's whole budget for the whole year for all four of us. As much as I'd love to really invest in good-quality clothes, that kind of spending is just not our reality.

That aside, the truth is that I had not spent more than $300 on new clothes since Hawk was born. I've been through a rotation of thrifted blue jeans, yoga pants and ratty old t-shirts as I've gradually shed that baby weight. Really, I was not about to drop $70 on a pair of size 16 jeans that I only hoped to wear for a few months! And yes, gradually, I've lost the weight and now I'm close to my original weight (though still about 25-30 pounds shy of where I'd ultimately like to be).

So, maybe I did need to go clothes shopping. I had "plenty" but did my clothes make me feel good? Did they make me feel pretty? Confident? Absolutely not. So shopping I went.

I have about 40 pieces altogether now, give or take. The actual count depends on what you count- I've seen some debate on whether a capsule should include items such as layering tanks, leggings and jackets. Let's try not to get too ticky about it, now, and just take a look at the end result:

capsule-tops

These are actual photographs of the actual items from my closet. I'm not going to lie, it was a painstaking process to catalog each piece this way! But putting this together has helped me visualize my actual style (as opposed to the styles I enjoy seeing on other people but would not feel comfortable in myself).

My favorite tops have a forgiving waistline- too tapered, and it clings to that pesky tummy. I like fabrics that flow- not too stiff! I gravitate to graphic patterns and feminine details. I don't like too much ornament because I'm always afraid it won't stand up to wear.

capsule-layers

For fall and winter here in the Southeast U.S., it's crucial to keep the layers lighter. I do love the look of a chunky knit sweater, but the reality is that it might be cold enough for it outside but as soon as you reach your destination the heat inside will likely roast you if you're overdressed! Also, our region has famously fickle weather- there have been years that I've worn short sleeves and flip flops on Christmas day.

capsule-bottoms

(For what it's worth, these bottoms are the only images that aren't my own, but I'm including these Fatface jeans and Apt. 9 leggings from Kohl's because they are similar to the bottoms I actually own.)

I have two pairs of black leggings and one pair of purple leggings that I like to pair with my shorter dresses and a pair of ballet flats when the weather is cooler. We've only had one day cool enough for this getup so far for Fall 2014, so I'm still patiently waiting to debut the leggings look.

My jeans get far more wear. 100% of my jeans were thrifted- I have three pairs that are blue and one black. I bought the black jeans because they're pretty trendy right now, but I'll be honest and tell you I don't know how much wear they'll get. Anything other than blue is way out of my comfort zone- I feel like it draws attention to me, and especially the shape of my body.

I have the hardest time with bottoms because I have a size 14 belly and size 10 hips. It's impossible to dress! If the pants fit at the waist, they sag in the backside. After a while, the waist of my jeans stretches out and I have to tug them back up. If the pants fit my tiny butt, they cut into my waist and make me so uncomfortable I'd rather be naked.

capsule-dresses

I've always had an apple-shaped figure, carrying my weight in the belly. But after two pregnancies, I'm not sure how I'll ever get my proportions right again! I carried both my sons far out in the front and now have a deep and uncomfortable diastasis recti (abdominal muscle separation). For this reason, until I lose more weight and successfully repair my core muscles with exercise (or whatever means necessary), I shy away from styles that will draw attention to my waistline.

Hence, my collection of dresses. I love an empire waist and prefer the polyester-rayon blend fabrics that won't cling to my body. They just hang right and conceal my problem areas perfectly! The more a dress drapes and flows, the happier I am in it. So, while I love the appeal of straight, classic silhouettes and simplistic modern lines- the dresses I choose for myself have a more bohemian aesthetic.

capsule-shoes

Oh, Lordy, I bought a pair of heels. I don't know what I was thinking. Except, maybe, sometimes heels are called for and I'll probably need them a time or two (though curse them, I will). Nothing too trendy here- a classic color and line to serve a functional purpose. On the other hand, I got those great cheetah print flats. There's always that (...thank you, Walmart).

The splurge here was my Keds. I love those babies! I'll be wearing them every day, thankyouverymuch. It looks like this style has been discontinued, though, so (sadface).... here's one that's similar, but I couldn't find the same color. In retrospect, now, maybe if I'd waited a week I could have scored a clearance price. But that's neither here nor there, is it?

I'm hardcore lusting for a pair of booties to wear this fall, but my budget was spent and I already had these great boots I bought about three years ago but have rarely worn. In the event I break down and get some, these boots will have to get the proverbial boot. Isn't that the way it goes? But for now, these will suffice.

A word about brands: I have some great name-brand pieces. My favorites are from Gap, Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, and DKNY. But I can't lie! Every single piece of clothing I own came from:

  1. A thrift store
  2. J.C. Penny
  3. Target
  4. Walmart
  5. Ross.
Fancy, we are not. Middle class? Only barely. So I only buy new what I can't find at my favorite thrifty haunts, and fast fashion it will usually be. Many of my clothes are recycled from previous seasons. So many of these clothes will probably wear out in the months to come, and then they will need to be replaced! 

So one of the things I've learned about this process is that a capsule wardrobe is still an organic thing. The contents of my wardrobe will still change in the months to come and the number of items therein will ebb and flow naturally! The key is to exercise restraint, know what works for me and what does not, and accept that it's impossible (and totally unnecessary) to follow every trend- even the ones I love (i.e., black jeans).

In the near future, I plan to show you some of my favorite combinations from my closet. I look forward to that! Meanwhile...

Tell me: what is your favorite item from your wardrobe?

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