Making A Wardrobe Capsule

We face choices many times per day but making decisions can be stressful, especially for a perfectionist like me.  I have learned that I make many decisions by process of elimination. Having too many choices overwhelms me so I must narrow the choices down by eliminating whole groups of items as I consider what is required of my choice.  

You may be like me in that you have a lot of clothes.  Standing in my closet to choose an outfit is befuddling because there are hundreds if not thousands of combination possibilities. I have stood for long periods of time like a deer in the headlights just staring at my clothes.  There have been times that I got so tired of standing there that I finally just sat down on the floor to wait for an outfit to materialize. I began to dread getting dressed each day.  It was ridiculous to the point that I knew I had to do something to fix this (first world) problem. Necessity is definitely the mother of invention.

My dilemma is partly due to the way I shop.  I am a Maxxinista.  TJ Maxx just has the things I like and most items are $10, $20, and $30 each! The return policy liberates me to take things home knowing it will be no problem to return them if I decide against keeping them (and you’d better buy it if you MIGHT want it because it most likely will not be there when you go back for it.  “Never the same place twice.”). My wardrobe is almost completely from TJ Maxx except for the beauties I get from the Talbots or Ann Taylor/Loft outlets I visit once or twice a year.  The problem with the way I shop is that I buy single pieces at a time which puts the burden on me to make outfits out of them.  It can be a fun burden but takes skill if I want to look put together.

This chore of making outfits helps me see the necessity of a wardrobe capsule. If I could separate my wardrobe into groups of items that go together, getting dressed would be so much simpler.  

IMG_9089.jpg


With the arrival of fall, I layed out all my fallish items.  From there, I made outfits and took pictures of them as flat lays.  I didn’t spend a lot of time making them artistic; I just wanted to see the items together. It took a lot of time and energy as I switched one part of an outfit with other options and climbed on and off the chair on which I stood to take pictures with my phone. Sometimes when I see a nice outfit on someone or on a mannequin, I have the thought that I never would have put those pieces together but it looks really good.  I tried to throw out my preconceived notions while putting outfits together during this process to allow me to discover combinations I normally wouldn’t make. It really did help me consider new options.

 I have been eagerly anticipating wearing these wide-legged capris this fall. I think any of these combinations would work and I can switch the capris out for my faux leather olive drab skirt. This exercise saved the flesh colored top in the lower middle picture; I was about to chunk it because I had never worn it but now I have used it several times after making these outfits.

I have been eagerly anticipating wearing these wide-legged capris this fall. I think any of these combinations would work and I can switch the capris out for my faux leather olive drab skirt. This exercise saved the flesh colored top in the lower middle picture; I was about to chunk it because I had never worn it but now I have used it several times after making these outfits.

 I thought these salmon-colored pants would be a good transition color from summer to autumn but I didn’t like any of my styling options so I returned them.

I thought these salmon-colored pants would be a good transition color from summer to autumn but I didn’t like any of my styling options so I returned them.

 Wondering if this is my style anymore.

Wondering if this is my style anymore.

 I like this skirt but the black blouse is the only one I like with it. Everything else is ho-hum. I’m starting to think it has something to do with pulling out the blocks of color—too much vying for attention.

I like this skirt but the black blouse is the only one I like with it. Everything else is ho-hum. I’m starting to think it has something to do with pulling out the blocks of color—too much vying for attention.

These pictures helped me see things that were right in front of my eyes all along.  It reminded me of when I chose my wedding china.  I would float my eyes across those great walls of china and through many glossy brochures but the same pattern caught my eye every time.  That’s how I knew it was the one.  The same happened as I flipped through my outfit photos: “blah, blah, blah, Oooo, I like this one!” I’m not excited and confident to wear “blah.” Life’s too short and I have too many choices for that.  I want to dress every day in “Ooooo!”

 I have owned this skirt for several years and never worn it. It seems like a good thing to have, right? And there’s Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Patriotic occasions. You can see how the jackets change the outfit completely. Should I keep it if I have to work so hard to like it? This process also showed me that the gray blouse in the lower middle picture can come off as lavender.

I have owned this skirt for several years and never worn it. It seems like a good thing to have, right? And there’s Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Patriotic occasions. You can see how the jackets change the outfit completely. Should I keep it if I have to work so hard to like it? This process also showed me that the gray blouse in the lower middle picture can come off as lavender.

 I could go for any of these. Which is your favorite?

I could go for any of these. Which is your favorite?

 Several of these can be dressed up or down with accessories.

Several of these can be dressed up or down with accessories.

That was a very telling process, but the process wasn’t over.  There’s a difference in how clothes look flat on a bed and how they look on my body. The color may not flatter me. The top may hit my hips at the widest point. It may be too tight or too loose. There are a myriad of other problems that could be revealed when I try them on but I’d rather discover them at this point than when I’m trying to get out of the door.

 Left: I liked this outfit better on the bed than on me. I am reminded why I stopped tucking shirts in: it adds bulk just where you don’t want it.  Middle: This soft, casual jacket finishes the look nicely and brings down the formality of the blouse. However, it also hides the detail on the blouse cuffs which is the best part.  Right: This is a casual look that could be dressed down further with less formal shoes. The knit tank top reveals the distracting lines at the top of my skirt though.

Left: I liked this outfit better on the bed than on me. I am reminded why I stopped tucking shirts in: it adds bulk just where you don’t want it.

Middle: This soft, casual jacket finishes the look nicely and brings down the formality of the blouse. However, it also hides the detail on the blouse cuffs which is the best part.

Right: This is a casual look that could be dressed down further with less formal shoes. The knit tank top reveals the distracting lines at the top of my skirt though.

 While you are trying on, experiment a little. These pictures show the difference in wearing a white versus a gray tank top underneath this sheer blouse. I prefer the gray.

While you are trying on, experiment a little. These pictures show the difference in wearing a white versus a gray tank top underneath this sheer blouse. I prefer the gray.

I photographed the outfit on me in the mirror. While I had it on, I experimented with accessories which told me which elements I lacked to finish the outfit. These items went promptly onto a shopping list. Now I know exactly what I need. Many of those times sitting in front of my closet, I was putting together outfits in my mind but they fell apart when I realized that I didn’t have the right sweater or shoes or hosiery. Lacking the right accessories can prevent you from wearing items that you really would enjoy wearing. Purchasing the right shoes may give you more outfits to wear than buying new outfits would.

Now that I had pictures of the outfits, I organized the pictures into albums on my phone.  I created the following albums: 

Casual outfits—cool weather

Dressy outfits—cool weather

Casual outfits—warm weather

Dressy outfits—warm weather. 

Now when it is time to get dressed, I can look under the appropriate category and choose.


IMG_9320.PNG

As I carve out time for wardrobe coordination, I will choose one theme each time.  I have plans to do a capsule of navy blue outfits and of Christmas outfits. There may be a favorite scarf that has never found its outfit and you just need to settle that once and for all. I have been known to wear purple to church every Sunday in February so that I could wear my amethyst birthstone jewelry in celebration of my birthday month. I will hang these garments together when the time comes.

For this fall, I have my fall items grouped in a section of my closet.  That signals to me that this is the area from which I am to choose. I now enjoy getting dressed with ease, knowing that the thinking is already done. As the weather gets cooler, I will replace the lighter weight pieces with heavier ones and continue to keep viable choices at the forefront.

 Yes, I still pull pieces from the rest of my wardrobe, but grouping my fall items together has given me a huge start on getting dressed each day.

Yes, I still pull pieces from the rest of my wardrobe, but grouping my fall items together has given me a huge start on getting dressed each day.

 I even gathered my fall scarves and hung them with my fall clothes. I am much more likely to wear them when they are next to the pieces I am eyeing.

I even gathered my fall scarves and hung them with my fall clothes. I am much more likely to wear them when they are next to the pieces I am eyeing.

Creating this one wardrobe capsule has shown me the value of this process. Here are three things it did for me.


  1. It acquainted me with what I have and what I need.

I had items in my closet that I thought should be useful but that I had never worn.  Gathering my fall items to make outfits forced me to consider those pieces and I have now worn things for the first time and liked them, things that were in danger of being purged. I would say this process gives you fresh eyes.

I also discovered that it was time to purge some things that I was just accustomed to wearing. I found that I had three dark gray jackets that all served the same purpose.  The one I bought most recently is butter soft and could be dressed up or down.  I know I will use it a lot.  One of the jackets just wouldn’t hang right so I took it back to the store since fortunately the tags were still on it. (Yep. TJ Maxx. Having no receipt got me a gift card. That’s fine.  I would have spent the money right back there anyway.)  The final gray jacket was just a little snug through the shoulders so it now hangs in my daughter’s closet. I am left with the gray jacket that I will truly enjoy and I now have more closet space. I will not continue to waste time trying those three jackets with my outfits repeatedly and coming to the same conclusion each time.

Knowing the items I need will keep me focused when I shop. The process helps you to prioritize those needs by showing you which items you need over and over for different outfits.  I now realize that brown boots and gray heels would finish off several of my ensembles.


2. It focused my attention on one look at a time.

As I have focused on dressing for fall, I have also incorporated fall hues in my make-up and nail polish.  I do not typically wear orange so I have made a project of finding orange shades that lean toward pink. This has given me time to experiment with blush, lipstick, and nail polish that work with my coloring and clothes. My nails are good to go for the week since I am wearing clothes of the same color palette every day.  I know I always have the right shade of lipstick thrown in my purse since it will match everything I wear this week.  And speaking of purses, I will use the same one all week since it coordinates with the look I am wearing right now, eliminating the need to daily switch purses.  Lots of winning and time saved!

 These cosmetics gave me just enough orange to feel fallish:  OPI Infinite Shine 2 Gel-Lacquer in “Excuse me, Big Sur!”  NYX Lipstick in “Tea Rose”  Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in “Paaaarty”  Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil in “Manic”

These cosmetics gave me just enough orange to feel fallish:

OPI Infinite Shine 2 Gel-Lacquer in “Excuse me, Big Sur!”

NYX Lipstick in “Tea Rose”

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in “Paaaarty”

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil in “Manic”


3. It simplified the daily task of getting dressed.

It’s crazy to call getting dressed a task.  It should be part of my pampering session as I get ready. It is nice to approach my closet with thanksgiving for my beautiful clothes and the artistry I am trying to reflect back to God in carefully crafting my outfit and doing it decently and in order. Stress is not something I need before I go out in public; being in public is already stressful for me.  I need to enter it with peace and focus on what I am going out to do, and this process has helped me tremendously with that.

I can see how wardrobe capsules are going to help a ton with packing.  That can be the worst part of going on a trip but to have things already grouped that work together and are interchangeable will make that chore much easier, and one purse and nail color will work for the whole trip.



My suspicion is that this process would solve other problems as well.  Being prepared really eases my mind and helps me do a better job. I am easily overwhelmed so I like my ducks in rows ahead of time. I have been Martha Martha at events so many times that I have finally figured out that I need to be Martha BEFORE the party so I can be Mary DURING the party (Luke 10:41-42). Making wardrobe capsules is just one way that I can attend to myself in advance so that I am free to serve others wholeheartedly.

Closet Switcheroo

School has begun and the glorious month of September is upon us. This means it is time to dress in more snuggly clothes in colors which often reflect the new palette we see with each new autumn day. Traditionally, Easter and Labor Day are the cues to transition into dressing for the cool months versus the warm months.  I adhere to this tradition, not because it is traditional, but because it heeds the wisdom upon which traditions are built. They are holidays at the turning points of the seasons. I have a task on my permanent to-do list for April and September to switch out my closet for the next season.

Pictured below is the bottom rack of my closet where I hang my bottoms (naturally). These are the bottoms that have been hung there since April. I hung all the hangers backwards at first and hung them the other way around throughout the summer only if I wore them.  This picture is irksome to me because the clothes are not organized according to type but, just for this picture, according to the direction the hangers faced.  The clothes to the left of center (where the little blue marker is) were worn, and the clothes to the right were not worn.  It turns out that I wore  thirty-eight bottoms and did not wear thirty-five. How nice it would have been if I had known in April that I would never wear those thirty-five this year and eliminated them up front so that the clothes I did wear had more hanging room. My daily decisions would have been less complicated and time consuming.

IMG_9005.JPG
IMG_9008.jpg

Once I determined which pieces were not worn, I put a tiny elastic on each hanger so that I will know at the end of next season which items have gone two seasons without being worn. When that is true, I will need to seriously consider whether I should continue to pay their mortgage. I bought these little elastics to use with my scarves. (That will have to be a separate blog post on another day.)  They are found in the hair care aisle and a package of one gazillion will cost you less than $3. I have never used them on hair but I am finding them to be handy in unexpected ways. 

IMG_9013.jpg
IMG_9012.JPG

The next step is to pull from the rack anything that is no longer appropriate to wear this time of year.  That would be whites and light colors and fabrics that would be too cool or worn with summer shoes.  These need to be stored elsewhere.  You may have to get creative with storage under the bed or on closet shelves.  I have hung off-season clothes behind my hanging clothes on the bar that anchors the wire shelf to the wall. I was sad when my oldest son left home but was slightly comforted when I realized he left me an empty closet. It has become my off-season closet.  It is nice to get clothing out of sight and out of mind for a whole season.  They then seem like new clothes when you are reminded of them next season. 

IMG_9015.JPG
IMG_9009.jpg

The summer items now transition to the off-season closet and I pick out the pieces from the off-season closet that can be used when the first chill of autumn is felt. There aren’t many for me because I have half a rack of sweaters that stay in my closet year round.  Most buildings in the South are very cool to combat the high temperatures outside so I find that I need a sweater every time I go anywhere.  The day I determined to wear a sweater everywhere was the day I left my lunch half-eaten on a restaurant table because I was so miserable from shivering that I couldn’t enjoy it. The thin, three-quarter-length-sleeve sweaters are wardrobe staples for me. 

IMG_9011.JPG

Now summer doesn’t turn to winter on a dime so there will be a gradual switching of clothes from my closet to the off-season closet.  We Southern Belles have the added challenge of trying to look like October when it feels like July! It will be January before we need wool and we will shiver in our Easter dresses because our weather is unpredictable. I should go ahead and create some fallish outfits that won’t make me sweat.

And now for the finished product. 

IMG_9016.JPG

Here are my autumn bottoms! From left to right, I have shorts, capris, pants, and then skirts ranging from casual to dressy. I am already looking sideways at the more summery ones which will soon be switched out for winter pieces. Those elastic bands will be staring at me and I will be staring back giving hard consideration to whether they should really be in my collection. I’m pretty sure I can’t zip several of them; this closet has made some of my garments shrink in the last few years.

Bulky wools and coats take up a lot of closet space so the more real I can be about what I actually wear, the less packed my clothes will be in my closet. Let’s face it: we reach for our favorite pieces over and over anyway so we need far less than we think. I often wish I could snap my fingers and the clothes I will never actually use would disappear. Minimalism and less complication is appealing more and more. I haven’t changed greatly in size over my life so that lends to collecting things from long-gone styles that I can’t see as long-gone. Thus a collection is prone to only inflow unless it is purposely purged. 

I like the idea of thoroughly enjoying what I really like and letting go of the rest.  It seems that it would mean that you can celebrate who you are and that you aren’t still experimenting with multiple styles. My style and maturity have changed over the years and sometimes it is difficult to recognize when it is time to let go of a former era. Fashion is just one tangible way we do this and it should encourage us to be as real with our inner selves. 

Enjoy this lovely time of year!

 

Stocking Up: 2 Lists That Keep Your Home Supplied

It's that time of year again!

Time for me to stock up on cosmetics.  I have been stocking up in January and July instead of having to go across the store to the cosmetic department every time we run out of something. It is nice to not have to keep track of what is running low.  It makes a lot more sense to always have the next item on hand and not create the need for an emergency trip to the store. It also makes my shopping trips quicker so I can spend my time on more important things.  Cosmetics have a long shelf life anyway so it works well, if you have the storage space. 

I do have to budget $200 for January and July to do this. Cosmetics add up quickly, especially when you are buying razor blades and expensive facial products, but your monthly budget all the other months will be displaced by that amount. Couponers can get by on less but I just don't have time. Been there. Done that. There are times in your life when your time is more valuable than your money so you need to let your money work for you. Of course, you could coupon just before stocking up if it is worth the time and money you'd have to invest. 

I stock up on household supplies in April and October which puts me stocking up on one list or the other every three months. I have timed it to hit during my slightly less expensive and less busy times of the year. I copy and paste the master list into a new document and take inventory, adjusting the amounts needed according to what was left over from last time. Then I print that list and go shopping.

Below is my cosmetic list (minus a few items like personal products and make-up) followed by my household items list. There are items that I may have to replenish before the six months is up but it is nice to have back-ups on hand while they last. This list is for a family of four and quantities and products change as the children get older.

It is not feasible to stock up on some items like laundry soap and toilet paper because of limited storage space. Plus you would have to make a trip just for that item since six months worth would fill your whole cart by itself. And imagine the funny looks you would get pushing a cart full of toilet paper! Paper goods and cleansers are usually close to the grocery items in the store anyway so it is no trouble to buy them as needed.

You could copy these lists and add and subtract items to make it your own. It's good to include the specific brands, sizes, and even the prices so you can spot a good deal. I left a few details on the list for examples.

I hope these lists help you to save time and 🐝be prepared.


Cosmetics:
6 month supply
Buy in January & July


anti-perspirant/deodorant 6
hand soap at every sink 6
men's body wash 4
women's body wash 4
moisturizer 1
facial cleanser 2
eye make-up remover 1
lip balm 2
contact solution 2

cotton balls 200
cotton face pads 200
cotton swabs 750
non-acetone nail polish remover 1/year

flossers 300
toothpaste 4
mouth rinse 1

aerosol hairspray 2
spritz hairspray 2
hair gel 2
mousse 1
shampoo 5
conditioner 3

aftershave 1
men's shave gel 6
men's razor blades 6
women's shave gel 7
women's travel shave gel  2
women's razor blades 6


Household Items:
6 month supply
Buy in April & October


  allergy medicine (antihistamine) 1
  adhesive bandages 1
  cough medicine 1
  cough drops 2    
  hydrocortisone 1    
  pain reliever 1    
  cold medicine 1
  dry eye drops 1 

  vent filters (14x20) 8
  light bulbs (60W) 4 

  tape dispenser refills 2    
  printer ink (Epson WF-3530) #126 or 127
  copy paper 2
  sticky notes 1
  postage stamps 3 sheets


  gift bags 4
  gift wrap--all occasions 1
  tissue paper 1
  male birthday cards 5/year    
  female birthday cards 10/year    
  sympathy cards 12/year
  new baby cards 4/year    
  graduation cards 5
  wedding cards 4/year
  kid birthday cards 7girl/7boy/year    
  anniversary cards 7/year    

  small Kleenex packs 2
  aluminum foil 1
  cellophane 1
  wax paper 1
  parchment paper 1    
  snack bags 1
  sandwich bags 1
  freezer bags --quart 1
  freezer bags--gallon 2
  bathroom cups 1


  scouring pads 1    
  hand dishwashing detergent 6
  dishwasher rinse aid 3
  bathroom cleanser 1
  bathroom cleanser wipes 2
  toilet cleanser 3
  glass cleaner 2
  furniture polish 1    
  spray stain remover 1
  spray starch 2