September 15, 2014

Fall Inspirsession 2014

This past weekend was my last free one for a while, so I took some extra time to narrow down my inspiration choices for the upcoming season. Even though NYFW has started and fall lines are flying off the rack, autumn doesn't really grace Seattle until late September. For now, I'm shifting toward the warmer parts of my summer wardrobe (good riddance, shorts!!) and dreaming on my new autumn look:

The Foxy Cozy Klimtian Tomboy

Any questions? I'm not sure I have answers for you. All I can say is, as I poured over the inspiration photos I've been gathering, created mood boards, and let my ideas marinate, I kept running into the same four characters:

1) Fantastic Mr. Fox
2) Cozy Girl-Next-Door
3) Klimt Lady
4) Hip Chick in Menswear

For me, fall has always meant knits, tweeds, plaids, and an overall air of academia, so I'll probably focus on Mr. Fox & Menswear for now and reserve Cozy Girl and Klimt Lady for the winter months. Still, it's good to know where you're headed! This is the first time I've really had a style game plan, and I couldn't be more excited to put it into action.

What are you looking forward to wearing this fall?

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September 12, 2014

My First Capsule Wardrobe: Outfit Creation... and Beyond

This week I'm talking about capsule wardrobe creation. I'm sharing my wardrobe from this summer and the tips and tricks I learned along the way! Be sure to check out the previous posts if you missed them: Introduction, Creating A Palette, Lifestyle Needs, & Item Selection.

At last, the great reveal! The photos below showcase every outfit I've constructed since the initiation of my summer capsule wardrobe in late July (minus one or two weekends spent at home in my pajamas... shhhh!)

I've arranged them by circumstance, as outlined in the Lifestyle Needs section of this series.

1) Professional Work Days

2) Weekend Outings & Vacations

3) Rehearsal & Casual Work Days

4) Special Occasions  

So, unless I've blinded you with my science of casual posing (I assure you, the limoncello scream was necessary after 5 hours of shooting), you probably want the dirt. What about the capsule wardrobe was a drag? What felt limiting? Would I do it again, and if so, what would I do differently? I'm so glad you asked!


-Stylist's Block: Just like with writing, no matter how great my resources were, I still struggled with an occasional loss of imagination. Wardrobe minimizing is liberating for the most part, but if you've only just emerged from The Land of 1000 Options, it's hard not to lust for it when your creative impetus fizzles. I overcame this hurdle by creating simple challenges for myself. Not doing laundry for a couple weeks will sure do it; I only have a sweater and it's 90 degrees outside? Guess I better get creative with my bottom half. Other fun challenges include "let's-pull-three-things-at-random-and-run-with-it," "let's-dress-in-monochrome," and "lets-match-the-boyfriend-without-him-realizing-what-we're-doing."

-Wearing the Same Thing Twice: Guess what? -- GASP! -- No one cares. Or rather, no one will notice. They're too busy worrying about the same thing. Still, if you have a personal partiality to uniqueness, you'll get by with a little help from the secret weapon of the fashion world: the accessory. Scarves, purses, tights, sunglasses, belts, earrings... go wild with these! They don't take up much space, and they're an inexpensive way to spice up the same outfit. Also, never underestimate the power of shoes. Just watch how your jeans clean up when they're paired with with a heel instead of a flat. 

-Laundry: Living with a man who goes through clothes like they're bacon, doing laundry once a week is already a necessity. That said, I'm pretty sure doing a load every ten days or so would be just fine for the average individual. Also -- unless you live in nudes and neutrals, you may have to get used to mixing whites and colors. I think you'll survive being this much of a badass.

-Wear & Tear: Just recently, I finished Elizabeth Cline's Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. It's a fabulous read for anyone who's ever felt immediately and totally overwhelmed while attempting to navigate Forever 21 -- or anyone infuriated by the Polyester Invasion that is 21st century clothing. (Warning: This book will make you want to sew things.) For capsule clothes that last beyond the first month, you're probably going to have to invest a bit more. As usual, I highly recommend thrift shopping for a happy medium. Just stay the dickens away from polyester.

    Winner of Best Wear Through Most Washes: Flare Jeans (Lucky Brand) 
         Still looking bluer than ever after 2+ years of weekly wear.
    Loser of the same category: Dot-print Tee (H&M)
         Bought it brand new this summer. The very first day I wore it, my seat belt caused the fabric to permanently pill. Not awesome.

-Fall Capsule '14: It's happening, yes. This time I've given myself more planning time to fine-tune my personal style. I'm aiming for less (ho-hum) solids and more challenging, mixable prints. I will probably donate more and invest in some nicer pieces, since autumn clothing is THE BEST. For some reason, my main source of inspiration so far has been foxes. I kid you not, foxes. I may continue writing down my outfits every day (though I probably won't go through the process of photographing them all again.)

What amazed me most about the process? How easy it was to remix the same item different ways! Once I had a functional palette and knew exactly what was in my wardrobe, outfits practically formed themselves. Plus, with a few minor exceptions replaced along the way, I genuinely loved everything in my closet.

And that, my pumpkins, is what it's all about!

Did you enjoy this exploration series on building a capsule wardrobe? Did I leave anything out? Let me know in the comments!

September 11, 2014

My First Capsule Wardrobe: Item Selection

This week I'm talking about capsule wardrobe creation. I'm sharing my wardrobe from this summer and the tips and tricks I learned along the way! Be sure to check out the previous posts if you missed them: Introduction, Creating A Palette, & Lifestyle Needs.

We've finally reached the down-to-business portion of the capsule wardrobe process. Enough planning and prepping: it's time to pick your players!

Having decided on a color palette and determined your stylistic needs, you should have a pretty clear idea what pieces will function best for you. What's left to determine is how many of each item you need. As always, breaking things down into additional categories will simplify the process.

For a 37 piece wardrobe, Un-Fancy suggests 9 shoes, 9 bottoms, and 15 tops. I think her "Rule of Three" is absolutely brilliant, but in the end I found my lifestyle ratios to be more informative. For me, it's easier to think in terms of clothing types (i.e. tanks, jeans, sandals) than styles of dress. For instance, I know I'd gladly sacrifice a casual (basic) hoodie for an additional interesting (statement) jacket, because (a) I have a quirky vintage coat problem obsession, and (b) I'm only ever inclined to pair hoodies with yoga pants and pajamas.


-9 shoes became:
  • 3 sandals
  • 3 flats
  • 1 heel
  • 1 boot
  • 1 platform
-9 bottoms became:
  • 4 pants
  • 2 skirts
  • 2 shorts 
  • 1 capri
-15 tops became:
  • 3 tanks  
  • 2 dresses
  • 2 jackets
  • 3 blouses 
  • 2 tees
  • 1 cardigan
  • 1 sweater
  • 1 blazer 
      +4 extra:  1 cardigan , 1 blouse , 1 dress, 1 sweater

Okay, hold the phone: Four extra tops?? Yes, pumpkins, it's true. I went over the 37-item limit. Had I realized this earlier, I would've fessed up! At the time of my original list construction, I was trying to decide between a few different shirt options, so I put duplicates down temporarily. I meant to narrow my list back down to 15, but I guess I conveniently forgot to do so. C'est la vie! This is a prime example of adapting to suit your own needs. That, or it's straight-up cheating. Take your pick.

For those of you interested in a more minimal approach, I'll share which items I could've done without in tomorrow's "lessons learned" section. For the purposes of honesty in the upcoming photos, just know I'm working with a 41-item wardrobe: 19 tops, 9 bottoms, 9 shoes.

Here's an alternative representation of my Summer '14 selections, for my fellow color junkies: 

-9 shoes:
  • * * * sandals
  • * * * flats
  • * heel
  • * boot
  • * platform
-9 bottoms:
  • * * * * pants
  • * * skirts
  • * * shorts 
  • * capri
-15 tops:
  • * * */* tanks  
  • * * * dresses
  • * * jackets
  • * * * */* blouses 
  • * * *  tees
  • * * cardigan
  • * sweater
  • * blazer 

And here's the palette again, for reference:

What would you add or take away from this list? Share your thoughts, findings, and questions in the comment section!

September 10, 2014

My First Capsule Wardrobe: Lifestyle Needs

This week I'm talking about capsule wardrobe creation. I'm sharing my wardrobe from this summer and the tips and tricks I learned along the way! Be sure to check out the previous posts if you missed them: Introduction & Creating A Palette.

Have you ever seen those "100 Items For Every Wardrobe" lists? For a long time, I used to follow these religiously (mostly because I have an irrepressible fondness for lists of all kinds...) Then a fellow blogger pointed out the ridiculousness of the notion that every person can benefit from the same set of clothing parameters. If you work from home and you have an active kid and also enjoy gardening, you're not going to feel very at home in a closet full of party dresses. Similarly, if you're working in a law office, you'll probably get more mileage out of two versatile blazers than a hoodie and denim jacket.

My point is, I can't tell you exactly what goes into a capsule wardrobe. Everyone's closet needs are different, because everyone's lifestyle is different.

Not only does lifestyle vary from person to person, one person's lifestyle may also vary from season to season! As an actor, my lifestyle is constantly changing. I may be in consistent rehearsals for a two month period, practically living in movement-friendly casuals, then be back at my 9-to-5 the next month and needing slightly snappier work clothes. Then there's the obvious factor of weather. Unless you live somewhere like Hawaii, your outfit choices will largely be at the whim of Mr. Golden Sun.

To ensure my modest wardrobe would still meet my day-to-day needs, I split my weekly activities into categories. (I ended up with four; you may require more or fewer.) Then I calculated how many outfits I'd need over the course of one month per each category.

1) Rehearsal & Casual Work Days
  • comfortable, conservative, easy to move in
  • 10 outfits (2 casual days a week per 3 weeks of work, 1 rehearsal day per week)
2) Professional Work Days
  • tailored, conservative, projecting an air of authority & experience
  • 9 outfits (3 professional days a week per 3 weeks of work)
3) Weekend Outings & Vacations
  • comfortable and walkable, with an air of offbeat fun (more liberal)
  • 10 outfits (4 vacation days, 6 weekend days not spent in loungewear...)
4) Special Occasions
  • a mix of formal and casual statement pieces, sexy/flirty, funky
  • 5 outfits (1 occasion per week, plus one for good measure)

Keep overlaps in mind. I rehearsed more than two times a week, for instance, but some of these rehearsals doubled with weekend outfits. Most special occasion days had to pair with a weekend or work outfit for daytime. I left off work outfits for the week I took a vacation. You get the idea.

Overall, I discovered that my closet demands were fairly casual. About one third of my items needed to be business-casual and the other two thirds could be comfy-casual. Breaking that down further, about half the comfy-casuals would lend themselves to movement and the other half would lend themselves to fun, unique outfit creation (i.e. statement pieces.) Special occasion clothes could be mixed within these divisions (i.e. a quirky silk jacket, a conservative cocktail dress, some hot-date heels...)

Like I said, I've used Caroline's 37-item parameter, but you can fine-tune the actual item count based on how often you do laundry or how many times you feel comfortable repeating outfits. As long as your unique lifestyle ratios are in order, you'll be solid!

September 9, 2014

My First Capsule Wardrobe: Creating a Palette

This week I'm talking about capsule wardrobe creation. I'm sharing my wardrobe from this summer and the tips and tricks I learned along the way! If you missed yesterday's introduction to the series, you can find it here

The other night I was talking to a friend about creating a color palette for my fall wardrobe and she looked at me curiously. "I'm not sure I know anyone who does that."

Once upon a time, I didn't either. I've always been a nerd about color, but for most of my life I didn't deem it necessary to plan out a wardrobe palette. Just the phrase "palette" sounded pretentious to me. They're clothes, not works of art. You just sort of throw on what looks good together and go, right? This is a valid approach. My brothers and boyfriend alike would probably argue this is as far as the brain need stretch when considering what to wear each morning. For an eternal perfectionist like me, though, it never ends up as "easy-breezy" as all that. Sooner or later I'm stuck in a rut, feeling like nothing I own matches, and fighting the urge to shop my way out of this pickle and into another.

Determining a color palette, whether it's just for a season or for every wardrobe update, can work wonders for time-saving and budgeting. For instance, have you ever purchased a t-shirt just because you liked the color, and then come home to realize you're going to have to Donald Duck it because you have absolutely no bottoms to match? You could've saved yourself the $12.99 (or $39.99, pending on your t-shirt taste) if you knew what colors were in your wardrobe to begin with. Having a set palette will also prevent you from running out to purchase that additional skirt to match the t-shirt, only to realize the skirt doesn't work with anything else in your wardrobe either. Oy!

So how do you get started? A common approach is determining your seasonal coloring. While I stand behind this theory as an excellent starting ground, I don't necessarily think it's the be-all-end-all of wearable color. So I would instead propose starting with whatch'ya got: your current wardrobe.

Turn out all of your clothes onto your bed or floor. (What's that you say? That's where your clothes are already? Bravo, then -- you're one step ahead.) Next, examine your clothing focusing specifically on color. You might sort your items into piles of blues, greens, reds, etc., then see what your dominant colors are. You might pick out the first five colors that you LOVE and see what compliments these shades. You might hold each color next to your face under a well-lit mirror (or a trusted friend) and decide whether this shade is working for you. A good color will give your eyes that extra "pop" and even out your skin tones. Whatever method you choose, you're shooting for three color categories: neutrals, mains, and accents.

A neutral color works as a base. It should be the most versatile shade in your wardrobe. Black and white are obvious neutrals, but you might also go for browns, beiges, creams... or even something less obvious, like burgundy. As long as it works with everything else in your palette, you can consider it a neutral.

A main color should be something you love to wear. It's probably a color that already dominates a large portion of your closet. Ideally, it's also a color that looks good on you. My most favorite color in the world is a bright acid green, but I know better than to let it anywhere near my face!

An accent color might be a shade you're not certain about, maybe even a little intimidated by. It should offer contrast to the other colors, or harmonize with them in a striking way. A bright pair of pants, a red necklace, or a white belt against darker colors are all examples of accent tones in action.

Since I already had a healthy mix of clothing on hand (rubix cube syndrome), I built my palette off colors already present within my closet, and eliminated* the rest.
I ended up with a palette of 10 colors in full for my summer wardrobe:

Keep in mind that color palettes aren't restrictive or absolute. If you find something beyond the palette that you find works with the rest of your wardrobe, by all means, welcome it to the family. As a well-known pirate once said, "They're really more like guidelines."

NOTE: The color palette approach presupposes that you already have an idea of what works on your body, and you like at least half of what's in your wardrobe. If you're still struggling to find clothes that work for your style or body-type, take a look at this page to set you on the right path. If you've recently undergone a significant lifestyle change, this might be a choice time to cull your closet and eliminate anything taking up extra space. Read more about closet culling here.

*By "eliminated," I really mean "boxed into storage." If you don't have the heart to donate your discarded clothes immediately (or if you think they might work for another season), put them out of sight for a few months. At season's end, challenge yourself to remember what you stored before you pull it out again. If you can't remember, you probably won't miss it! Go forth and donate.