14 Outfits for September 2018

Happy Autumn, everyone! It's bittersweet to announce that this is my twelfth and final sampler wardrobe outfit post. I've kept up the process for exactly one year (see this page for the archives!), and while I intend to continue exploring wardrobe construction and personal style, to post another series of lookbook photos would soon prove redundant. After all, the purpose of this whole process was to wear less, more often. Especially in the case of my work wardrobe, which has really become a true capsule now, you've seen just about every outfit combination I've come up with!

Employing and fine-tuning this method of wardrobe minimizing was so fun for me. I learned a great deal about what shapes & fabrics I love, what kind of uniforms I gravitate toward, and what color palettes already exist in my closet. The great thing is, now I have a full year's worth of photos to use in further analysis and discussion! So expect to see future posts detailing what I learned throughout the sampler process.

Without further adieu, let's dive into my September wardrobe!

As you may be able to tell from these shadowy photos, our daylight is quickly fading -- a clue that cooler weather is finally upon us! We New Yorkers have been patiently (and sometimes not-so-patiently) waiting for the humidty to die down, and in the past two weeks our dreams finally became a reality. I felt pretty clever outsmarting my own autumn-obsessed brain, reminding myself that sleeveless options still take precedence over cozy cover-ups in city-September. But when I woke to a 65-degree morning last week, I was grateful for the sole jacket I'd included!

Stepping out of summer meant banishing white from my wardrobe -- not because I care about all that Labor Day mumbo-jumbo, but because it was necessary to make room for all the black. Devotion to this non-color runs back about three generations of women in my family, and try as I might I've never been able to abandon it entirely. In summer, I avoid black for obvious reasons, so when it comes to lighter transitional items (i.e. the crochet-sleeve boho blouse, black shorts, and military button jacket), I have to make the most of them during this brief period.

One thing that's been really exciting about the sampler process overall is mastering how to identify & maintain a palette. I've never had much success subscribing to set colors in the past, but I finally feel like I've hit upon the secret (which I'll share in a future post.) With the exception of that pop of blue in my work wardrobe (hello, summer holdover!), I've got a nice mostly-neutral thing going here: black, taupe, olive, and cream, plus some orange-y accents for interest. Mmmm... fall.

A mere 24 garments made up this month's capsule, which I believe is my record for the year. It's satisfying to think that in this last week I was still jotting down new outfit combos to parade around before month's end. That's the beauty of mindful limitation -- it often serves your creativity even more than boundless freedom!

I hope that the sampler wardrobe experiment has been useful to some of you on your own style journey. As mentioned, check back soon for future tips and analysis on the sampler year as a whole. Thanks for tuning in!


15 Outfits for August 2018

Dear Reader, I hope you can't tell how absolutely over it I was when I took this batch of photos. It was "the hottest day in August," as the song goes, and between posing, changing, and running back and forth between my tripod, it's a wonder the main feature of this spread wasn't my shiny, sweaty brow! I got so lazy by the end, I phoned it in on two work staples and used previously shot images. To be fair, I've photographed these particular items about five times now and am running out of innovative ways to style them. Without further adieu, here is my sampler wardrobe for the month of August, which up until this mini heatwave has been practically perfect in every way.

As predicted in my last post, the work portion of my wardrobe stayed the same as it has since summer started. I'm happy to report that rather than getting bored with my pieces, the constancy has blessed me with much peace of mind. My getting-ready process is essentially figuring out which top I wore least recently, rotating my bottom pieces the same way, and accessorizing as the mood strikes me. I'll be happy to see my cooler weather pieces again, but in truth I could probably wear these for the rest of the year and be pretty satisfied. Conclusion: A rotating capsule wardrobe is ideal for the day job portion of my life.

Meanwhile, over in the creative sector, I've been incorporating two lovely new pieces, both of which were generously handed down to me from two stylish ladies in my life. One, the white sweater (pictured here with white denim shorts), is made from the floatiest, loveliest material -- cool enough to be worn on an 80-degree day -- and has cheeky little buttons down the back. Two people (men, naturally) have already speculated I have it on backwards, which elevates it to "statement piece" status as far as I'm concerned. The other piece is this dreamy pale blue tulle skirt, something I never would have thought to purchase for myself but immediately fell in love with as soon as I put it on. It's got me feeling like Ballerina-Cinderella, which is really my main goal in life. 

Constructing my wardrobe this month was pretty straightforward; I stuck with the exact same number and mostly same ratio of items. The summer work trouser I was seeking seduced me into H&M for the first time in ages, but I couldn't justify the purchase value-wise*, particularly outside of their conscious collection. So I'll just have to hope I come across them in a thrift shop one day.

While September will no doubt remain very warm, I'm thrilled to be inching closer to long sleeves and cozy knits again. Scrolling through Instagram, I envy my PNW friends, who are already donning beanies and jeans while I cower beneath the sweaty arm of a fellow train passenger and pray the AC doesn't break down mid-commute. Sigh. At least I look like Cinderella. Maybe I can befriend some of New York's finest subway rats...

'Til fall! 

*Value-wise meaning captial-V values, not cost-value. H&M is of course quite affordable.


15 Outfits for July 2018

For me, July was a month of travel and special events, both of which called for unique considerations outfit-wise. While I admittedly have two cocktail dresses which I keep specially for formal occasions (i.e. the wedding I attended this month), there were several casual events to take into account while planning this month's sampler wardrobe; among them a rehearsal dinner, two fancy brunches, an Independence Day soiree, and my high school reunion, for which I shamelessly wanted to look my best. I also had to ensure I pulled enough travel wear to get me through two long plane rides and both east and west coast summer climates. Between all that casual-wear planning, I decided it would be best to leave my work wardrobe as-is, so you may notice those pieces are exactly the same as July's -- just styled differently in the photos below!

For all these constraints, I'm proud with how this sampler turned out. With just 24 articles of clothing, I kept things fresh by mixing in accessories and rotating separates. A distinct color palette emerged almost by accident, and I correctly anticipated what little interest I'd have in sleeves this month. Incredibly, I'm not yet bored by my rollover work wardrobe, and while I am still seeking a lighter-toned trouser or skirt, you may see most of these pieces remixed a third time for August!

To my delight, I had a chance to put my wardrobe organization studies into practice when I visited my parents. My mom, who shares my fondness for a variety of clothing styles, felt overdue for a closet purge, and I set to work making room for more space, order, and "her-ness" within her current collection. We spent five fun-filled hours together, pairing like with like and creating a series of new looks she felt excited about. It was a joy to see my mother exercising her panache for creative problem-solving with pieces she'd been uncertain about before; I've always admired her willingness to embrace change. If I can figure out her secret to doing this, I'll consider myself twice blessed!

It's always hard after vacation to rev up the engines again; to put in motion all those hopes you dreamed up while away from reality. The reunion provided a good chance to check in on what I've been doing (and not doing) in the ten years since I left home. Presently, I'm doing my best not to get swept up again in the current that is New York City; to keep my head above water and my feet kicking forward, my breath level and my eyes on the silhouette possibilities that I chased here, rather than the distractions which lie around every corner, however delightful they are. It feels quite grown-up to think in that way, and I believe I'm finally ready to let myself grow up a little bit more.