Category Archives: seasonal capsules

Fall 10×10

A few of my favorite bloggers have been sharing their 10×10 challenges for quite a while now and I finally completed my 1st one…a month ago. The concept was created by Lee over at Style Bee and is an exercise in minimalism, creativity and contentment where you select 10 items from your closet and put together 10 different looks over the period of 10 days. I attempted one last fall but between the extreme heat wave we experienced and the fact that my pieces were all neutral colors, I quit after 5 days out of boredom and necessity…I seriously swapped my 10 items for a swimsuit. Anyway, it was a much better experience this time around since we had more typical Fall weather (for us) and my closet is in better shape overall. For the past year I’ve been very thoughtfully working toward a colorful closet that can mix and match and in putting together my pieces I could see those efforts paying off and was thrilled with the outfits I could put together. So lets get on with it…

The Pieces

Fall-10x10

  1. White V-neck (J. Crew, thrifted)
  2. Gray Sleeveless Sweater (Vintage, thrifted)
  3. Dark Gray Tee (Alternative Earth, thrifted)
  4. Velvet Vest (Vintage, thrifted)
  5. Pink Blouse (Vintage, thrifted)
  6. Green Blouse, (Vintage, thrifted and customized with new buttons)
  7. Mustard Sweater (Anthropologie, thrifted)
  8. Mustard pants (H&M, thrifted)
  9. Cone denim (Lucky Brand, New 2018)
  10. Wide Leg pants (home sewn, M7445)

I opted to exclude shoes because with temps ranging from 65-85 during the 10 days I knew layering opportunities would be limited and wanted to set myself up for success. I also modified my challenge by counting the days I actually got dressed rather than forcing them to be consecutive. On Day 4 I spent the entire day doing household chores, yard work and a science project with my kiddo so it seemed silly to make an outfit happen that day just for the sake of the challenge. Halloween also landed midway through and I wasn’t about to include that in my 10 pieces. This is real life!

The Outfits

I did a terrible job of OOTD pictures and only ended up with one, so here’s the best I can do this round. I really did wear all of these outfits and mostly loved them. Day 3 is pretty basic for me, but I spent the day outside at the Museum of Natural History with the kiddo so it was perfect. Day 5 was the first time it occurred to me to layer the gray knit top over a blouse and I loved the effect. A perfect compromise when I’m craving fall clothing but it’s still not cold enough for real sweaters. I ended up wearing three pairs of shoes during the 10 days including sage green slip on Vans, dark gray Toms classics and russet Manitobah moccasins and I was happy I decided to leave shoes out of the challenge because that small variety made all the difference when pulling together each look.

Fall-10x10-outfits

Bonus Outfit

My Day 5 was Halloween and I was Mary Poppins! I popped into the thrift shop with a handful of ideas I could create using basic clothing items (Daria, Margot from Royal Tenenbaums, Where’s Waldo and Mary Poppins) and left it up to fate depending on which pieces I could find…one stop and $8 later, all I had to do was stitch the bow tie on, paint and adorn the hat and throw on boots from my closet. Not bad for such low waste and I already had someone request to borrow the hat next year so it will get some future use too!

10-31-18 Halloween Costumes

In Conclusion

I had fun with this challenge and didn’t experience burn out with these pieces at all. Had the temps dropped any more, I may have tired of only having one sweater. It was a struggle to choose between that and my color block jacket since both mix and match with all my other pieces really well. Luckily, that wasn’t the case. Only now that I’m getting around to posting this has the temperature dropped to true sweater weather. Seeing how 10 carefully selected pieces can mix and match to create over 15 different outfits was really eye opening. I cannot go into a thrift store and pick up a cute top for $2 again without considering whether it will get that kind of mileage. That’s a huge take-away since thrifting is my constant closet downfall. I’ll definitely participate in a future 10×10 to see how my favorite pieces for other seasons measure up when put to this test.

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Summer Wardrobe

Having had some success with building a Winter capsule using only items I owned to help weed out the pieces not earning their space, I took the same approach for summer. I put everything I owned that I thought I might be able to wear during the season into my closet and packed away the rest. As the weeks went by and I spent my time enjoying every ounce of fun I could with kiddo before school started, I slowly removed the things that never made the rotation, exposing a capsule guide for myself for next year.

Summer Staples

Summer-2018-Most-Worn

17 pieces!! I find it hilarious that I once scoffed at Project 333. The outfit combos with just these items worked for the beach, forest school and camping, library trips, wine tasting with the girls, concerts and date nights, weekends away, casual meet ups with friends and chill days at home working on projects, doing chores, gardening or just lounging around with a movie or good book. Most outfits were simply a top and bottom plus a few pieces of my everyday jewelry, but the dress did give me some extra layering options.

Minimal Wear

Summer-Rarely-Worn

For the sake of keeping an accurate record for myself, most of these items were worn once, a few two or three times, but were either thrift finds that didn’t work out (I’m looking at you beautiful caftan made of gross sweaty polyester) or things it was always too hot for. The good news is, with a couple exceptions, these are keepers for other seasons. I just know to leave them out of my summer closet next year.


Some notes to self:

  1. Although lots of my tops and bottoms match, the fits don’t always mesh well. Something to remember when adding new tops.
  2. Think about the color of new pieces beyond summer. ANY top can go with denim shorts, but if it goes with my dresses, different colored bottoms and fall/winter layers it will get more mileage throughout the year.
  3. ^ That being said, a handful of “summer only” pieces is necessary. My style isn’t beachy, but I live at the beach and spend time in the sand and water all summer. My wardrobe must work with this reality.
  4. As of summer 2018, I wear shorts when it’s hot! My one pair was thrifted in desperation after the heat hit. Next year I’d be wise to add two more pairs.
  5. ALL of my summer bottoms were neutral and I did tire of that after 2 months. Those shorts for next year…one color and one print would be good.
  6. Embracing a little “athleisure” went a long way since that’s my actual lifestyle during the summer with a kid. Bamboo joggers with a knotted tee topped with jewelry was a go too look that easily took me through days filled with varied activities without feeling like I was in gym clothes or pajamas.

My biggest takeaway is my lifestyle during the summer is so different than the rest of the year, I truly need a small 10-12 piece summer capsule that blends with around 10 other pieces I own to get me through the two hottest months. Now that school has started and some days are cooling off, I’ve begun to transition my closet to Fall. I’m pretty excited because with what I learned in winter and summer, I think it will be my first successful attempt at putting one together in advance using inspiration from my own style journal here on the blog rather than looking to Pinterest. I’m also hoping to finally reign in the thrifting this season because I’ve added a lot of clothes to my closet this year…a post for another day.

I’ve set a personal goal for myself to post here once a week, which I’ve maybe said before, but I’ve officially got a preschooler which means 6 glorious uninterrupted hours a week. Be back soon!!

Winter Wardrobe

Happy New Year!

I’d intended to write a post about my fall closet a while back, but our weather went haywire, 105 in October when boots and sweaters are typically making their appearance. I was so ready for fall, tired of my summer favorites and my closet was feeling jumbled and confusing with sun dresses and wool sweaters occupying the same space. I just wore whatever I could to stay cool…including my swimsuit, and just wasn’t inspired to put together a proper post. By the time the temps finally started to drop, the Thomas Fire started and our hot fall became chilly winter in a smoke filled blur. Getting dressed wasn’t feeling effortless and my closet needed attention. I’ve reorganized, sorted, purged and shopped so many times that I thought I was getting closer to a functional wardrobe, but here I was, again. They say dressing well is a skill that can be learned. I’m still learning and writing here is helping.

 Current Closet

IMG_7092.jpg


For the sake of starting fresh in the new year and having a quick reference for myself, I’ve compiled a list of approaches I’ve taken to wardrobe building since starting to apply critical thought to my closet back in 2014. I have…

  • created style concepts based on ideas of how I thought I wanted to dress and lists of things I needed to acquire based on my inspiration, rather than looking for the intersection between my inspiration and what was currently in my closet then realized months later that those items weren’t really me. (My sister scored a great $70 olive anorak that was going to be the supreme layering piece for multiple seasons. I wore it once.)
  • swung the other way and allowed total freedom to follow my muse in thrift stores and bought so many items my closet got confusing and I once again felt like I had nothing to wear for certain weather, certain activities or with that one thing I thought was too cute to pass up for $2.
  • accepted free clothing and fabric I never would have picked out myself and hoarded clothing and fabric I was certain I would make something with eventually. Upon closer inspection, none of those items remotely resemble or feel like anything I actually wear frequently. I went so far as to sew up a few of those fabrics only to end up with total wardrobe duds.
  • claimed I’m happy with a closet full of all season clothing, that something like Project 333 or rotating seasonally isn’t necessary where I live. This without giving either a real chance.
  • confidently declared that my plans were going to be perfect. Also, that I didn’t need rules or plans. Both have resulted in total fails.

What stood out to me in the list above is that I’d never attempted putting together a capsule wardrobe using ONLY items I already owned. So while we were stuck inside due to air quality during the fires, I perused lots of Project 333 articles and set out to do just that. First, I emptied my entire closet, sorted everything into seasonal piles and gave the closet a good cleaning. 20 items that made the cut in past purges that still hadn’t been worn went back to the thrift from which they came and spring/summer went into an under-bed box.

Then instead of adding back the pieces I know I love and calling it a day, which hasn’t always led to every garment being worn, I went piece by piece through the remaining pile and started to put together and photograph outfits. My goal was to come up with as many combinations for each piece as I could before hanging it back in the closet. With each new piece, I worked with what was in the closet first to make the most with fewer items, ending up with just over 40 items and 45 outfits without exhausting all the possibilities. A second under-bed box has additional cool weather pieces I can pull from if I get the urge to switch things up before warm weather returns for good. (it was 8o as I wrote this post, but it won’t last)

The Outfits

Here’s a sampling of 30 outfits using 40 pieces I already owned, including 7 pairs of shoes, 3 scarves, and 30 garments. I’ve worn many of these, getting dressed and feeling great with such ease for the last 3 weeks or so and packing for a weekend away was as simple as selecting a few pictures and pulling each piece. Boom, done! (these pics weren’t taken with the blog in mind or I would have cleared the clutter and that annoying little piece of trash…oh well)
2017-18 winter wardrobe (1)
2017-18 winter wardrobe (2)
2017-18 winter wardrobe (3)
2017-18 winter wardrobe (4)
2017-18 winter wardrobe (5)
2017-18 winter wardrobe (6)

I’m really anxious to create a full wardrobe inventory with purchase dates and prices, but this visual representation is a good start. Many of these pieces are accounted for on my shopping log, but the rest were bought 4+ years ago and will be missing some stats. As the year goes on, the plan is to work through these same steps for each new season so by this time next year my inventory should be complete with only occasional updates.

My final realization is that ZERO of my current winter pieces are handmade so I’m considering taking on the challenge of only adding or replacing worn out items with handmade pieces. I do have a jacket in process (that’s near complete AND successful) that I’ll be back soon to share, so that’s a start! And it’s not a concrete goal for this year, but I really want to learn to knit so hopefully my sweaters last until I can make that a priority.

Archana of To Universe, with Love urges everyone to start a personal style blog if they’ve ever had the urge and I can’t agree more. I have so much more clarity than I did when I started and feel safe saying this year will be a true turning point. Yes, looking back at old posts will sometimes make you cringe, but it’s so helpful when trying to avoid past mistakes and identify patterns or bad habits. It’s absolutely accomplished all of those things for me and I’m committed to checking in at least monthly in 2018.