November 4, 2016

Fall Capsule 2016 - Lookbook Video

November greetings, everyone! Today I'm excited to share the third installment of my capsule wardrobe lookbook video series.



While I had tons of fun filming this, I'd admittedly been procrastinating on it due to some recent changes in my wardrobe structure. As described in my last post, I recently took on a second job as a restaurant hostess in addition to nannying. This has given me a greater sense of balance in my day-to-day life while I work toward acting projects, but it meant compiling a whole new set of work outfits!

Lucky for me, the nicer, chicer elements of my weekend wardrobe (i.e. fitted blazers, tailored pants, and pencil skirts) fit that niche perfectly. I pulled these elements into a new, additional work capsule wardrobe, filled in one or two missing elements with some consignment store finds, and voila!: I am now the proud owner of not just two, but three capsule wardrobes.

I know. Sounds a little crazy. But I promise you, it works!

If you'd like to see the contents of these work wardrobes alongside my weekend stuff in future lookbooks, let me know in the comments! As I see it, my weekend wear continues to be the most honest, personality-based portion of my closet, so that's why I've given it focus thus far.

Now, onto this capsule...

Oh what a joy it was to rediscover my sweaters, boots, and jackets -- most of which had been stashed away since last spring, hiding from New York's oppressive humidity. For the fall season I wanted to focus on incorporating my most unique pieces and better honor my favorite part of fashion: mixing the unexpected. Of course this meant a good deal of creative layering (it's fall, so duh) and obsessively* running through previously unexplored item combinations. In prepping outfits, I found myself toeing that maddening line between "I could totally be in a Vogue magazine right now" and "A thrift store just vomited all over me."

October marked a full year of purchasing only secondhand or otherwise eco-conscious items, and I'm proud to report I've persisted another month now without the pressure to buy anything new. (One exception is a pair of tights that were on their last leg, so to speak. After a year of research, I'm still on the hunt for eco-conscious hosiery and supportive bras. Got any leads?)

Of the 22 items featured here, about 60% were acquired secondhand (some recently and some not.) The others are new purchases from the days before I started this project, but the majority of this category is at least 3 years old. I've been doing seasonal check-ins to evaluate my closet's eco-score, and it's exciting to see the percentage of conscious choices on the rise! That said, I'm still working to keep my overall numbers down. The city's extensive variety of thrifting options is a constant temptation for this girl!

Like many of you, fall is my favorite season, and I'm greatly looking forward to riding that holiday wave (all the way home to the west coast!) with this collection. Then it's on to the final and most challenging installment: WINTER.

*P.S. - When I say obsessive, I'm not kidding -- I developed a kind of master spreadsheet which details each potential layering option per piece. I couldn't help but think I'd reached new levels of neuroticism, but it's actually been a useful tool on those days when I'm rushing out the door.

October 21, 2016

How To Build A Work-Friendly Capsule Wardrobe

One of the most common questions surrounding capsule wardrobes is how to construct one that accommodates both your worklife and your everyday / "off" life. Many of us deal with dress codes, uniforms, or other presentational guidelines at work -- and sometimes our personal style just doesn't suit our chosen career path! Whether you work in construction or corporate law, however, there are many ways to design a work-friendly capsule wardrobe without sacrificing your personal style.

Host Wardrobe (F2016)


In my four years since college, I've held five separate jobs alongside my chosen acting career (which, costumes aside, requires its own wardrobe suited to the constant movement and on-your-feet nature of rehearsals.) These five day jobs each called for a markedly different style of dress than what I was used to wearing around campus.

When I worked in real estate, I needed office-appropriate clothes that would also permit movement through apartment tours and meetings with contractors in sawdust-covered renovation sites. My telecommuting jobs -- writing, website management, and bookkeeping -- allowed me to work from home. Still, I've never been the type of person who can do their best while wearing pajamas, and occasional in-person conferences with my employers required presentable daywear regardless. At present, nannying requires a similar wardrobe.

Up until a few weeks ago, I had my capsule system down to a T. One set of clothes included my weekend and audition wear. A second, much smaller collection functioned as my nanny wardrobe. Since adopting a second job as a restaurant hostess, however, I've had to readjust my style -- essentially making room for the kind of chic items that always peppered my New York dreams, but which ultimately proved impractical alongside aggressive and all-too-affectionate jam hands.

I wondered: How could I stylishly reconcile these three very-different arenas of my life?

Enter the three-part capsule wardrobe.

The idea is not radical, if you understand capsule basics: Rather than building one all-encompassing wardrobe with lots of mix-and-match options, I chose to separate my clothes into three activity-based categories and build from there:

1 - weekend activities (friend dates, errands, city-wandering, shopping)
2 - nanny & personal assistant work
3 - auditions & restaurant work

To estimate roughly how many items I would need, I applied the kind of "laundry bottleneck" analysis described by Into-Mind (link.)

Completing these tandem processes quickly revealed existing "holes" in my closet. For one thing, I had too many shoes, only one of which proved properly suited to my new job. Most of my cold-weather gear was worn-out from last season, and I somehow had more lightweight outerwear than I knew what to do with. After dragging everything onto my bed, sorting by color, mixing and matching, and going through a few rounds of "how many oversized sweaters do I need, really?" I finally settled on something that resembled three funtional wardrobes, with a list of just five or so missing elements to thrift.

It's been a couple weeks since finalizing my three capsules, and I couldn't be happier with how they've turned out. I can't wait to get dressed on my days off (a delight which ensures this lazy housecat ventures beyond her living room on Saturday afternoons...) and my work clothes are now simple and streamlined, leaving more time for focused hair styling and second breakfasting.

Nanny Capsule (F2016)


For those of you interested, I've created a step-by-step breakdown of the process, below. I'd love to hear how it goes for you if and when you try it!


Part One: Plan


1) Before opening your closet, take some time with a blank sheet of paper to calculate your personal laundry cycle's worth of outfits. For me, that meant about 10 outfits per week. Divide said outfits into activities. For example:

10 TOTAL outfits = 3 nanny days + 4 hostess days + 3 off days

2) Next, consider what each of these outfits might look like. What kind of clothes do you tend to wear to these activities? If you're stumped, sort through blogs, magazines, or Pinterest for inspiration. Or take a look at what your boss and coworkers are wearing. Again, here's an example from my own notes:

3 nanny outfits:
-wrap dress + boots + parka
-light-knit sweater + flare jeans + sneakers
-t-shirt + skinny jeans+ ankle boots + cardigan

4 hostess outfits:
-blazer + silk blouse + cropped trousers
-a-line dress + heeled booties + overcoat
-silk blouse + black jeans + ankle boots
-button-down + pencil skirt + work heels

3 off-day outfits:
-silk blouse + chunky sweater + skinny jeans + oxfords
-collared blouse + sweater + pencil skirt + heels + wool coat
-knit dress + knee boots + moto jacket

You now have a bare-bones idea of what you need on-hand for one laundry cycle of outfits. If your preferences lean in the minimalist direction, this might be a perfect amount clothes for you. For the sake of variety and/or laundry emergencies, though, most of us prefer to have a few more options. To err on the safe side, you might multiply your results by 2 -- or simply add a few extra days to your laundry cycle before plotting your outfits.

3) Now make a list of your items, as such:

Nanny
1 dress 
1 sweater
1 t-shirt
2 jeans
1 parka
1 jacket
1 cardigan
1 sneaker
2 boots
...
(etc.)

Remember to consider which items make multiple appearances on your list, as well as the ones you might wear more than once. For instance, I might don a parka for two chilly days of nannying, but that doesn't mean I need two separate parkas!


Part Two: Compile


1) Here comes the hands-on part. Pull everything out of your closet and onto your bed. If you store clothes seasonally, pull out any in-season garments as well. Be sure to check your laundry -- you want to consider everything.

2) Sort your garments into piles by type (sweaters, pants, skirts, dresses, etc.) It's helpful to group each category by color as well, in order to locate duplicates or preexisting palettes.

3) Using the list you generated in Part One as a guide, begin building your capsule piece by piece. Remember to remain flexible! You may find that the cardigans and skirts you have on hand are in discordant colors, but an available dress fills the same niche. Of course, you can always draft a shopping list to fill in any missing pieces, but try to consider what you already own first.

4) Once you've fulfilled most of your listed items, look over any remainders on the bed. (You may have none, and that's great!) Ask yourself if you'd be comfortable parting with these leftovers. Maybe an item belongs in another season and should be moved into storage. Maybe another no longer suits your style and can be passed on to a friend or donated. Beware clinging to sentimental items; depending on your lifestyle and living situation, some of these may be appropriate to place in (deep) storage, but avoid turning your home into a museum of nostalgia. It's probably best not to let our memories chain themselves to belongings.

Off Wardrobe (F2016)


Feel free to share your experience and questions below! I'm thrilled to be of any assistance on your journey. :)

Happy capsuling!


October 13, 2016

Fall Playlist 2016

And the time has come for another playlist!

While my music tastes have always shifted with the seasons, I've really come to enjoy to the ritual of honing these seasonal playlists. Like a capsule wardrobe, it gives me time to reflect on each individual component (in this case, each song) -- time to both fall in love more deeply and to outgrow those which aren't destined to become lifelong favorites. On my summer playlist, for example, I eventually tired of Modest Mouse's "Dashboard," but I would happily listen to those Swiss Army Man selections on repeat for another three months. Here at the beginning, when everything is fresh and new, it's sort of fun to guess what will stick.


At the moment, as may be perfectly evident from the listing, I'm head over heels for *the bird and the bee* (yes, it's all lowercase. cute, right?) Not only did they dedicate their time to a Hall & Oates tribute album (necessary AND effective), but their at-times-ethereal, at-times-throaty vocals make for some very cool headphonage. I can't wait until it's appropriate to cue up their beautiful-weird take on "Carol of the Bells" (about 10 seconds after Thanksgiving dinner's over, right?)

Other standouts on this playlist come courtesy of my musically-inclined bestie, HH, who swapped playlists with me this summer and turned me on to the selections from Old Wave, Fran├žoise Hardy, and Charlift. Meanwhile, my obsession with God Help The Girl continues to inform everything from this playlist to my hairdo daydreams. It's almost time to donate again, you guys! I'm rockin' some serious horse hair these days. Neigh.

Happy autumn, everybody. It's friggin freezing over here, but I'll allow it. It's hard not to love this time of year.

September 23, 2016

My First New York Anniversary



Today marks the one-year anniversary of my move to New York City. (Am I allowed to call myself a New Yorker yet?? Probably not. Even by HIMYM standards, I'm only halfway there.) On that day, I recall hauling a very sleepy version of myself out of an airport taxi, then dragging two large suitcases through the Upper East Side, where I would stay at an AirBNB with my mom until my sublet became available. I did not have a job. I did not know my roommate. I scarcely understood how to navigate public transit. It felt something like the first day of college.

The city taught me a lot in that first week. Frankly I'm embarrassed to think how much I did not know, most of my "experience" having been shaped by TV shows (You know the ones...) and my time spent there as a tourist. To live here is an entirely different beast, but not one that is ultimately beastly in nature. In fact, there is real beauty to this beast.

  
 
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In October of 2015, just under a month into my time here, I drafted a list: "First Impressions of New York City." Just for fun, I thought I'd revist that list to see if my opinions on the matters had changed at all, or if I had any new insights about them. Without further ado, here they are again:

(1) When you walk down Madison Avenue, you are almost guaranteed to see most beautiful man and/or woman you have ever seen. Five. Times. Over.

Yes, it's true that just about everyone looks good in a suit. I've caught myself admiring men older than my father on the subway for the simple fact they've had 60 years of tumbling around this city to convert their rough, rocky imperfections into the perfectly-polished characteristics of a Silver Fox.

That said, there are attractive people all over this city, and pending my daily preference I could just as easily fall in love with someone shopping in Soho as commuting through Harlem.

In other news, I think it's safe to say I've never found myself at the intersection of Madison and 55th during lunchtime since then.




(2) The best time to go to Trader Joe's (the one on 73rd, at least) is on Friday at 1:30pm.

First off, Trader Joe's is located on 72nd, not 73rd (YOU FOOL.) I still stand by this observation, but I will amend it to say that virtually any weekday between 1:30 and 3:30p is probably a safe bet.

Unless you're visiting the 23rd St location. Here, I've found, there is no "good time."




(3) The majority of people here are helpful, encouraging, and pleasant conversationalists (at heart.)

THIS. Of all the points I made here, this is the one I stand by the most.

I had the fortune of visiting Seattle this past summer with fresh eyes (in both a figurative and literal sense, because the air over there is so goddamn wonderfully clear...) From unsolicited conversations with various apron-clad Pollyannas to looking around empty streets and wondering "Where are all the people??" I experienced culture-shock within my own country. As Planned Parenthood petitioners greeted me at twenty-stride distances away and a store owner regaled me with her (quite intimate) shared custody dramas, I thought perhaps I'd misjudged Seattle: the only freeze to be found around here was the icy deliciousness of Molly Moon, beguiling me at every corner.

But then...

With a friend, I went browsing through a certain department store I will preserve the reputation of by not naming (though I will say Manhattan's set to get one by 2018 and it may or may not rhyme with "Smorsdrom." We were looking for bras -- and that's all we were doing. Looking for them, finding them, "ehmagawd-cuuuuuute-ing" over them, and moving on. I know store employees probably hate this. I know many salespeople work on commission. I know Seattle is a cruel, cruel place where women would rather bind themselves in North Face polar fleeces than lay down cash to hoist their ladies into the (albeit shrouded in a thick layer of raincloud) sun.

I also know my rights as a shopper, as an aspiring minimalist, as a generally polite person, and as someone who speaks their mind. I wasn't going to buy a bra that day. I would happily take a fitting, thank you. Yes, I will gladly consider the bras you bring me. And yes, I still reserve the right not to make a purchase despite your thoughtful suggestions. Dear sales-chick who decided customer-service manners ended when you realized you couldn't bully me into making a purchase, who casually insulted the bustier I'd walked in wearing, who passive-aggressively clicked your tongue and told me I "did my best" when reorganizing the bras you yourself insisted I try on (but which, no, in fact, I still didn't want to buy from you): YOU ARE THE REASON. You are the reason Seattle (and perhaps the larger west coast) has earned a reputation of negative uncommunicative nonsensery. I could not deal with this shit when I lived there, and I sure as hell can't put up with it now. I AM NEW YORKER, HEAR ME ROAR.

(I know, I know I'm not yet. But give me this one.)

In contrast, I walked into the Union Square 'Rack today to run an errand for my boyfriend. When an saleswoman approached me, I told her what I was looking for. She guided me to the options, asked if I needed anything else, then left me to it. She didn't even tell me her name. It was heaven.




(4) The more time you spend in midtown, the more you feel entitled to the life of a well-paid lawyer. 

Again, I'd amend the location beyond 5th Avenue and Soho (is this really all I knew of the city back then??) but, sadly, yes; I have become the kind of woman whose eyes pop when she unearths Manolo Blaniks at thrift shops and who spends her commuting hours carefully studying designer handbags so she'll be ready when her match hits Ebay. Bless me, father, for I have sinned...




(5) It's not a concrete prison.

I mean... who needs nature, really....? ;)



I love you, New York.
I'm so happy to call myself a part of your twisted, grid-locked, garbage-scented, honk-if-you-love-no-one chaos.
Happy Anniversary.
And cheers to many more.


September 9, 2016

Fall 2016 Inspirsession (+ How To Use Inspiration Photos To Construct The Perfect Capsule Wardrobe!)

I don't think a year has passed without me longing for fall before summer's even hit its peak. Despite the fact I seem to run ten degrees colder than the average human being, I'm a cool-weather gal through and through. I'll take extra layers any day over sweaty shorts and shifty tank straps.

From school supplies to fashion week to crunchy leaves to Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas, the season only proves to outdo itself with each passing week; I simply can't see what's not to love here. In fact, if we could just cut March through August out of the calendar entirely, I think I'd be perfectly happy. Two Christmases a year sounds like a great deal!

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Today New York is still gracing us with temperatures in the 90s, and I'm only in the early planning stages of my fall capsule wardrobe.

Like most Type A individuals, I spend roughly 90 percent of my energy thinking about how I'm going to do something, leaving just 10 percent for the actual doing it. As it turns out, though, my style has really solidified in the past few capsule cycles, so my inspiration-gathering process was fairly straightforward this time around.

If you're building a capsule of your own, I'd encourage spending a day or two collecting inspiration images (from Pinterest, blogs, books, magazines, etc.) These don't necessarily have to be fashion-related -- they can be as abstract as you like -- just be sure you can identify what about them sparks your interest. However, if you do compile mostly outfit photos, as I have done below, the capsule-building process is made that much simpler.

For instance, here's a little cheat I used this time around:

1) Make a list of the individual pieces that you like from each outfit photo. Be specific about fabric, shape, color, etc. (i.e. denim jacket, straight skirt, black boots.) If an item shows up in more than one photo, take note: it could be an ideal foundation piece. Consider making room for duplicates of these items.

2) Refine your list. Pending on how large you want your wardrobe to be, you may also need to consolidate similar items. (For example, if both "denim jacket" and "moto jacket" turned up on your list, you could combine these into one "lightweight jacket.") This is also a good time to consider color palette and silhouette. You don't want an unmixable wardrobe of clashing tones or mismatched proportions!

2) Cross-reference the completed list against your current closet stock, including anything you may have stored from last season. Check off any listed items that you already own. You may need to try them on to ensure good condition and fit. Collect any seasonal misfits to donate, sell, or repurpose.

3) Review what's missing. These are the items you should focus on purchasing to complete your capsule. Go forth and shop!


Now here's a peek at what's inspiring me for fall:
 

This Mod Look:


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Thanks to a recent viewing of God Help The Girl, I've been absolutely mooning over this oft-revived 60s look. I just can't wait to pair last year's long-sleeve floral dress with opaque tights and oxfords!

1970s Silhouettes


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It's rare for me to chase two different decades at once, but I just can't resist these faaaar-ouuuut 70s looks! (I may have Everybody Wants Some to thank for that...) While it's the outfit components of the 60s that intrigue me (knee-high boots, tights, mini dresses), it's really the proportions of the 70s that I love. Volume at the neck and shoulders, an itty bitty waist, and a gradual a-line pull downward -- sometimes all the way to the floor. Loving. It. 

Classic Basics


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While I love a quirky thrift store find, no wardrobe is complete without foundational basics -- and for whatever reason, mine tend to fall on the classic/preppy side of things: straight skirts, pumps, tailored coats, and v-neck sweaters. Autumn plays a siren song to my inner nerd!
 

Creative Top Coat Stylings


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I've long referred to this coat style as a trench, but it just now occurred to me that trench coats are typically double-breasted with a belted waist. So I guess my beloved "trench coat" is actually considered a "top coat" with military accents. Anyway, I'm loving this year's new looks for my old standby.

Skinny Bottom + Bulky Top


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For someone who once felt certain this trend would never stick around, I've become quite the skinny jean devotee. And though I'm wary of adding bulk to my abbreviated upper half, I can't help but love these stripey, city-ready looks.

Extras: Wide-Brimmed Hats, Well-Made Bags, and Wavy Locks


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Personally, I don't include accessories in my capsule count, but that doesn't mean I don't consider them in the planning process! After all, the devil's in the details.

My obsession with wide-brimmed hats is going three years strong at this point, and I'm happy to see the trend is sticking for the time being. (Sidenote: How cute is that lamb?! I would just carry that thing everywhere...) I'm currently on the hunt for a structured, quality handbag that won't break the bank -- any suggestions? And finally, I purchased a curling wand off ebay this summer, and boy has it been a game-changer! Can't wait to experiment more once a) our apartment settles back to a reasonable temperature and b) my hair stops sticking to my neck.
What's inspiring you this fall?