Transformation Tuesday: Building a Capsule Wardrobe for Fall

Fall has arrived which means I need to swap out my tank tops and sundresses for navy knits, booties, and cozy layers!

Ever since I started Project 333 to create a seasonal wardrobe, I can grab items from my closet without having to determine what "matches" or worry if I have something dressy enough to wear for an event. Having fewer options takes away so much of the guesswork of how to dress plus I'm always wearing things that fit me well, are in good condition, and are pieces that I love!

So, back to my fall capsule ... I'm so excited to bust out my shoes and start wearing socks again, but realized that three pairs need some TLC. I'm taking them to my favorite shoe repair shop downtown on errands tomorrow to get them re-soled and give them new life to carry me through this season.

 
 

 

This fall, I whittled my wardrobe down to about 44 items (I mentioned in a previous post how I don't feel the need to get down to the suggested 33 anymore) and I'm so excited for layers! I was also able to let go of a few items - a Stitch Fix top that needs a long camisole underneath to wear with leggings ... but I didn't want to buy something new in order to feel comfortable in this piece) so off to Goodwill it goes! I also noticed two tops and a pair of jeans that I didn't wear or had a grease stain (boo!) but that I wanted to keep. I decided to launder these and pack into the emergency go bag that I'm putting together (more on this later).

I'm pretty pleased with the final closet of options. This also gave me a chance to do a quick Swiffer in my closet to catch up all the dust bunnies and cleared a few small items out that needed a better home.

I think the one thing I'm missing for fall/winter is a nicer lined coat. Something that's good for rain or (the threat of) snow, that's warm, but still has clean lines/chic. I haven't bought any new clothes since my trip to Hong Kong back in January (aside from some shoes on a recent jaunt down to Portland). If you have suggestions for great coats, I'd love to hear them!

Meet the Minimalist: Sarah Kirsch

A few months ago, I was obsessively watching YouTube videos and Pinteresting pixie cuts in my research for the perfect cut. I stumbled across Sarah Kirsch’s Instagram, better known as Sarah Chambray.

I immediately was drawn to her aesthetic and her beautiful feed of pictures highlighting her love of capsule wardrobes, beauty and fashion, and all things chambray.

I wanted to learn more about how the fashion blogger started simplifying her wardrobe so I reached out and she graciously agreed to meet up!

It was so fun to sit down with her chat about capsule closets, KonMari inspiration, and how she wants to approach designing her own line.

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How did you first get into capsule wardrobes?

Someone mentioned it and I looked it up. One of the first bloggers I found who covered capsule wardrobes was Unfancy. I liked their blog for the explanation and it seemed like a really cool idea.

In fashion school, we were designing practice clothing lines and that idea, from a design standpoint, was really intriguing to simplify things down to one or two styles of an item. Instead of a focusing on fashion cycles four times a year, what if it was was only once a year? Things that can be layered, winter items can also transfer to summer.

Later on, I heard an interview with The Minimalists on a podcast and then attended a Project 333 event in Portland. I had already been doing a semi-capsule wardrobe and then decided to commit to it. I took my wardrobe down to about 40 items. As soon as summer hit, I took out my box of summer clothes to see what I wanted to wear. I went through my summer stuff and realized I didn’t really love any of it! You just sort of collect things thinking “this will work.”
 

 

What has changed in your approach to dressing/shopping/reviewing your wardrobe?

I had bought things that were fun and trendy, but then I didn’t really like it or the way it fit. I really am better in finding joy in not purchasing. I like admiring an item, enjoying the feel of the fabric … and then putting it back. Definitely a KonMari thing.

I’m still shopping but in a more intentional way and truly able to find joy in admiring things rather than buying them.

 

How does this impact other parts of your life?

We have a second bedroom at home and it’s really easy to dump things there. I’ve been trying to be good at regularly going through stuff and pare down.

I have a separate sewing studio with all kinds of bins and when they fill up, it means it’s time to go through it.

 

How has the capsule wardrobe and KonMari movements influenced you as a fashion designer?

I want to design a collection and be more intentional about how I have set things up for my studio.

I grew up doing my back-to-school shopping in thrift stores. It’s so easy to buy cheap things. I would rescue clothes and love giving them new life. I realize I can’t rescue all the clothes!

I’ve always loved fashion and that shopping high from buying stuff. Working on Hawthorne, there are so many thrift shops available. I would drop in and get all these amazing things and would buy, not being very choosy about what I brought home. I’ve found that the KonMari method and minimalist philosophy helps guide shopping habits to keep them in check - don’t buy 20 things! It just isn’t necessary.

If I see something I really want, I will wait a day before going in to ask the price. I try to think about what it can go with that I already own, how versatile it is, if I have shoes that go with it. I was used to always saving that one shirt that only went with one pair of pants. For the most part, I’ve been good at purging and replenishing quickly. Nowadays, I’m just not replenishing right away.

 
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Who are some of the designers and brands that you like?

The new Gucci stuff that is heavily embroidered; it’s almost too much visually but it works somehow!

I see a lot of local people doing cool things. I really like MOORE, she has a strong, edgier street aesthetic, very different from what I wear day-to-day, but I have a piece mixed into my wardrobe that’s really fun.

I like to shop Brass. They do different sizing so you can see how it fits people differently and with different outfits; you see people who look like you!

I like Everlane, Madewell jeans (they just fit me so well!), One Imaginary Girl, and Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange are my regular go-to’s for thrifting.

 

What do you want to focus on aesthetic-wise with designing your own line?

I want to create stuff that can work for capsule wardrobes but for people who don’t want to wear tunics all the time.Think nice button up shirts with interesting collar details. Basics but with fun and interesting things on them. I love softer colors like baby blue and pink. I want to bring a fresher, different option. Clothes don’t have to be boxy and boring to be versatile.

Oh, and pockets on everything! Two dress styles, with long and short sleeves, button ups, knit hats. A few things where it’s simple enough to produce on my own or outsource if needed. I love classically shaped pieces with a touch of feminine whimsy.

 

What advice do you have for someone who wants to simplify their closet / wardrobe and explore slow fashion?

Start with shopping your own closet first, KonMari style, where you throw it all on the bed and look at each item individually. I looked at all my shirts and really only wear four of them! From there, you start to see holes form and you realize what’s missing and what you want to replenish. Start keeping your eye open for those items that will tie multiple outfits together.

Everlane is great choice for a mid-range price point and they are super transparent about their practices. Brass focuses on clothing for capsule wardrobes.

I love the Jamie + the Jones’ raw silk tops (which start around $170) but super beautiful. I’ll  save up for a really special garment that’s handmade, easy to care for.

Last fall, I experimented with wearing the same “uniform” of a white tee shirt and jeans with different sweaters. I accessorized with jewelry and scarves to change things up. No one realized I was wearing the same thing and I realized that no one really cares what you are wearing, which is crazy to think about!

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See what Sarah is up to and head over to her blog for the latest on fashion and beauty. I’m in love with her Instagram which features lots of pastels, hair and beauty inspiration.

 

Transformation Tuesday #55: Spring + Summer Capsules

Wow, it's been awhile since my last Transformation Tuesday post ... two months to be exact! I guess I needed a break. I've had a busy year and am still figuring out keeping myself organized when it comes to scheduling my own self-care, personal organizing projects, creating a content calendar, etc etc. That list seems to never end!

I enjoy sharing the process every season when I update my capsule wardrobe. My little organizing mind loves to keep track of how much I have, identify patterns in usage and what my aesthetic is leaning toward that season, and "breaking the rules" a little bit. I talked about this a little bit in January's capsule-building post. I feel way more comfortable picking the items that work for me vs. sticking to exactly 33 items.

So here's how it went these last two seasons:

April 2017 / Spring Capsule

I somehow managed to not take many pictures! Eek. I did clear out my closet like usual and it was a good reminder to swiffer the floor in there. I also invited my friend Maria over the following day because I needed my own spruce assistant to talk me through a couple items. I was on the fence on a few tops and cotton dresses that I couldn't seem to let go of. I would end up wearing them once in awhile and didn't know exactly why I wasn't ready to donate them. 

Maria asked me about when I liked to wear them and we discovered that they ended up being "work" clothes for basement/grungy days. They were all cotton, stretchy, comfortable yet cute. I was ok with getting them dusty and they were comfortable for the demands of crouching, kneeling, and all the bustling around of working on a basement. She suggested I create a mini capsule of just my work clothes. This was genius! I hadn't thought of this before and now I have about seven items in my work capsule, that I only wear for basement/garage days.

 
 

July 2017 / Summer Capsule

I actually found some time on July 1st to spend some time going through my clothes and it felt so good! In less than 45 minutes, I pulled everything out of the closet, dumped it on my bed, and started my review. I feel like I really love where my wardrobe is at. I usually treat myself in July to a birthday Stitch Fix box but I think I'm gonna skip it this year, mostly because I don't want to make more decisions about what to swap in new items for! 

This time around, I made a list of where I started and found it was easy to go in this order:

  • Outerwear
  • Pants / shorts
  • Sweaters / cardigans
  • Long-sleeves / 3/4 sleeves
  • Tees
  • Dresses
  • Tanks
  • Shoes
 
 

I'm pretty pleased with the 42 items I picked out. I'm very excited to break out the flowy tank/sleeveless tops and lots of cotton dresses!

What are you excited to wear in this summer's capsule wardrobe? 

 

Transformation Tuesday #45: Unpacking the Bedroom Closet

I had the privilege of working with my dear friend who recently moved to Ballard and needed to strategize how to set up her closet. She and her husband, the talent behind these fun videos, moved to the neighborhood so they both could be closer to work and save time off their commute.

Not only was I thrilled to have more pals nearby, but this meant I got to help them out with getting their closet the way they want it. That's the fun part about moving - you're starting over in a new space and can set things up that make sense and make life easier.

Crystal had already done a significant clothing purge before moving. We didn't get a chance to connect before they had to leave their old place what with work and travel, but I made it over there a couple days after they got into their new place.

We sorted by category and set aside a Uhaul box for all donation items. We ended up filling two boxes with clothes and shoes! I was impressed by her quick decision-making ability, by this time she had really built up that muscle and was just ready to get her closet in order.

We spent time talking through what types of items worked well for her corporate job and the numerous PR events she attends versus what she wants to wear when lounging around at home.  By the end of the afternoon, we had the left side of the closet with work only items, with a pants/skirt hanger used to help visually divide between that and the next mini wardrobe. She had quite a few items that are great year-round and can be worn at work or when she's out and about working on her side projects or hanging at home on the weekend. The far right of the closet housed tops and dresses that aren't part of her corporate wardrobe.

It was fun to see it come together and we'll have more pictures once she picks out a bed frame with built-in storage. Stay tuned for the final "after" pictures!

 

Transformation Tuesday #42: No New Jeans!

In last week's post, I was packing for my trip to Hong Kong and I'm typing this week's post from my Airbnb in the Lan Kwai Fong neighborhood. 

I have to say, I struggled with whether or not I should post anything for the TT series. I can get obsessive with following a routine, even when I enjoy it, but hadn't scheduled enough time before my trip to schedule something to go out. The other part of me thought that maybe I would get inspired and sure enough, in walking around yesterday, one of my travel companions and I were talking about shopping habits.

She was wearing a great pair of Madewell jeans and she asked me about the brands I typically wear which then turned into "what was the last pair you bought?" I had to rack my brain to reply. Even in typing this, I just realized it's been exactly a year. I had a gift card to Stitch Fix that I redeemed in the fall of 2015 and got a great pair of Mavi burgundy pants and then I got one more box before going to Tokyo, requesting stretchy, versatile items specific for travel. I received a pair of Liverpool boyfriend jeans in a light wash which I kept and brought with me on this trip.

In paring down my stuff, I'm not trying to get to a certain number of things. I'm just trying to be more mindful of what I bring into my home, how I'm going to use it, and how I can store it. I'm kind of glad that it took awhile to realize that it's been a year since I bought jeans. I've been really happy with my seasonal capsule wardrobes and feel more confident in having a more defined style than ever before in my life. I used to love retail therapy (don't get me wrong, I still enjoy shopping!) but I've also gotten used to that awesome feeling of being able to see everything in my closet and know that I can grab anything and be dressed in just a few minutes.

For me, this is more a transformation of a daily ritual that used to be stressful (having a stuffed closet with "very little to wear," read: "very little to wear that I felt comfortable and stylish in") and is now much more enjoyable. There's something to be said about being able to easily put something back in it's home right away and maintain that calm, clear space in a bedroom.

 
Brought three pairs to get me through 10 days. So far, so good!

Brought three pairs to get me through 10 days. So far, so good!

 

I'm curious what others haven't purchased in a while - coats, tops, dresses ... what else? 

 

Transformation Tuesday #40: First Capsule of 2017!

I suppose this is more of an internal transformation with how I approach building my wardrobe and not as much a dramatic space/stuff transformation, oh well, so be it!

I started creating capsule wardrobes a year ago in an effort to remove some of the decision-making in my life. I followed the guidelines of Project 333 to a "T." Over time, I have found that following the rules in the beginning helps me establish routine (which brings some stability in an otherwise hectic schedule) and that discipline actually sparks creativity for me.

When I built my fall closet, I decided to break the "rules" because I had gotten the hang of this process and wanted to incorporate a few more pieces beyond the suggested 33. I also put my valet stand by Hungrack to good use. I didn't want to dump all my clothes on the bed since most of everything is hanging up in my closet (see: I like being efficient - why remove it from the hanger when it's going right back up?). I was able to use the rack to review all my coats, dresses, and flowy tops/cardigans easily. I could pick through pretty quickly, place items back in the closet and whittled my wardrobe down to 42 items. 

A year ago, I started with this process, with special (unplanned) cat cameos:

 

Now, I can easily grab most of what I'll use to build the capsule using the Hungrack!

 
 

Are you trying out a capsule closet this year? If so, what guidelines have you found to be the most helpful?

 

Transformation Tuesday #31: Fall Capsule Wardrobe

I didn't get around to building my fall capsule wardrobe until a week and a half into October - yikes! I felt a bit off because the weather was changing and I felt like I had nothing to wear (really, I hadn't scheduled time to empty out my closet ...). When I first started Project 333, I wanted to overcome decision fatigue when it came to my wardrobe. I liked having guidelines and structure to follow, and actually found that this discipline helped me get more creative with what I chose for each season's micro wardrobe.

This summer, I met Courtney Carver, the founder of Project 333, when she stopped in Seattle for her Tiny Wardrobe Tour. This made my fangirl heart flutter! She talked about why she started dressing with a smaller wardrobe and then opened it up for questions. I noticed a theme among several of the attendees' questions - many of them fixated on the rules (such as including jewelry as part of the wardrobe or limiting the wardrobe to 33 items).

Courtney encouraged people to modify as needed to find what worked for them. This was hard for several people to wrap their minds around. Weren't there rules with this project? What happens if you don't follow them exactly? I loved her message and am learning that structure works well for me when trying something new, but that once I have the hang of it, that I'm ready to modify and adjust as needed. 

Going into fall, I had a different mindset as I started this seasonal ritual - break the rules! Now that I'm on my fourth capsule, I know what works for me and I actually have 41 items (gasp!) in this season's capsule. I don't feel bad or like I'm "cheating" - I have some new pieces that I want to wear and get some use out of this fall so I added them. When we start stressing or obsessing over simple guidelines, it's important to go back to why we started the process or project to begin with. When I thought about my "why," I realized I needed to customize this process for myself because otherwise, I was creating more work and stress for myself.

 
 

What are some of the rules you have broken or modified? Would love to hear what others are doing to make things work!

 

Transformation Tuesday: #28: Capsule Closet Clean-Out

I met McKenna Moe of The Modern Mosaic earlier this summer and we were chatting about capsule wardrobes. She has a fabulous wardrobe with limited space in her Queen Anne apartment. Obviously I had to find a way to help her organize it by editing and pulling out key items for summer so she could find things more easily when dressing for work or heading out to an event or happy hour. 

She was open to the idea of a capsule wardrobe so that she could get a better picture of what she wanted to wear for the current season (it's kinda tough fighting against heavy wool coats when you're just trying to grab a light cotton romper!). I love the challenge of working in small spaces and spent an afternoon with McKenna editing and organizing.

I think it was one of the hottest days in Seattle and thankfully, we had a fan going in the room while the talented Nick Southcote from Parallax Video filmed our little organizing adventure.

 
 

A time lapse of the afternoon was the perfect way to capture how quickly a space can transform.  We followed the five easy steps to guide the clean-out and purging process but didn't adhere to any specific rules for building her summer wardrobe. McKenna focused on light, breezy pieces that she could wear to work or out-and-about.

I had so much fun doing this and was impressed with McKenna's quick decision-making skills as she sorted out quickly what to keep and what was going to stay. If you want to see more of McKenna's incredible fashion or what she's up to, head over to her blog or follow her on Instagram!

 

Summer Capsule Wardrobe

I'm a little late in posting about my summer capsule - between a recent trip and awaiting my Stitch Fix box, I had to schedule out time to organize and edit my closet!

I was really excited to build my summer wardrobe because I've been itching to wear some fun, colorful, prints and dresses now that the weather has warmed up.

My winter and spring wardrobes were filled with grey, navy, polka dots, and stripes while summer has brought coral, fuchsia, and green florals. I spent exactly one hour emptying my closet out onto my bed (though I didn't bother with the items that were clearly winter/fall) and editing my wardrobe down for summer.

 
 

I revisited a few items in my outbox, (bag, really) that had a few items sitting in there since January that I couldn't really make up my mind about. I decided to keep two dresses, toss a belted dress, navy shrug, and a pair of Vans. I've been wearing these all summer and realized they are a little too small plus pretty worn. I may replace them with another shoe if I can find a good summer deal. 

 
 

 

I also flexed a little on the Project 333 guidelines and allowed myself a few more items in my summer wardrobe because I really want to wear as many dresses as possible this summer so why not? Here's everything I decided to keep for summer - and it's Walt-approved!