My Capsule Wardrobe – 1 year on

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Exactly a year ago I wrote about my venture into the capsule wardrobe concept, and I’ve been posting updates along the way (all previous posts are linked below). Now, after having given myself a pat on the back for sticking to it for all this time, I’m sharing the lessons I have learnt after 12 months and how I plan to apply the principals to my wardrobe moving forward…

Be flexible

This has to be my biggest and most important lesson and it is relevant in more ways than one. My original plan was to create a 37 piece wardrobe to be switched up each season. The weird and wonderful British weather threw a spanner in the works here, meaning I had to do the change-over at times I hadn’t expected to or planned to. I also originally planned to incorporate my “going out out” clothes into my capsule wardrobe. On reflection, I do this so infrequently that very dressy items took up valuable space in the limited collection and they were only worn once or twice over the course of a few months (if that). Moving forward, I have a few pieces separate from my main wardrobe for special occasions and plan to operate a ‘one in, one out’ policy to my main collection. I will still rotate items out of storage as the weather changes but when I am tempted by a new purchase at other times, providing I have thought it through, I will allow myself to buy it on the condition that an existing piece is rotated out and either put back into storage, sold or donated.

Layering is your friend

Talking of unpredictable weather, I have definitely realised that it is important to buy pieces that can be layered. Not only does this mean the wardrobe can outlast changeable temperatures, it also provides a bigger variety of looks meaning you are less likely to get bored of your collection.

You do develop a style

The interesting thing about having a capsule wardrobe is that when you do shop, you get very picky. Whereas a previous changing room thought process may have involved little actual thought and resulted in a lot of emotional purchases, nowadays each item is scrutinised heavily! Does it fit perfectly? Is it flattering? Will I wear it regularly? Does the shade fit my current colour palette? Is it well made and does it feel good quality? This level of scrutiny has definitely resulted both consciously and sub-consciously developing a style,  or the ‘every day uniform’ I had read so much about but never really fully understood until now!

It is still a work in progress

If I was feeling in a corny mood I would say something like “it’s a journey not a destination” and it would be true! My Summer capsule wardrobe was my least enjoyed so far (for various reasons including poor planning) but this only enabled me to make a better job of it next time around, meaning my love for the capsule wardrobe has been rekindled and that my current Autumn wardrobe is my favourite yet! I’m bound to make further errors of judgement and need to make more changes to the way I approach it (like I said – it is important to be flexible!) but to me that is part of the beauty of the whole concept – you can choose to apply the parts that work for you and adapt it to suit your lifestyle.

Previous capsule wardrobe posts…

Trying out the capsule wardrobe – the ‘Un-fancy’ way

My Capsule Wardrobe – lessons and Winter updates

3 Spring Trends – for a capsule wardrobe

My Capsule Wardrobe – the Winter to Spring transition

My Capsule Wardrobe – most worn this Summer

 

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My Capsule Wardrobe: Most worn this Summer

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I’m now three seasons into my capsule wardrobe experience and I finally got around to shooting some outfit pictures. Summer has involved the smallest switch up so far (partly due to being over-optimistic about the weather when choosing my Spring pieces!) so rather than go through my whole wardrobe I decided to share with you my three most worn pieces.

Pinafore – New Look

Part of the reason I wanted to start the capsule wardrobe was to help me develop a style. However, that doesn’t mean that when a trend comes along you can’t buy into it, and the denim pinafore is definitely the statement piece of my wardrobe this Summer. It’s been nice and cool for the ocassional balmy British summer day and can just as easily be teamed with tights for days when there has been a chill in the air.

Jersey Bardot Top – Primark

I love a basic tee and there have been more than a few in every seasonal switch up of my wardrobe since I began the capsuling concept. This Bardot top has been a great alternative to a simple t-shirt and the stripes keep it looking classic. It’s versatile too; I love it with the pinafore but have also worn it with a high waist pencil skirt, shorts or jeans.

White Leather All Star – Converse

Aside from a two week holiday in a much warmer climate, I’ve barely worn sandals this Summer. Even if the weather has been gorgeous, a rain cloud is never far away in England! Converse have been the perfect alternative for keeping feet dry, especially these leather alternative to the original canvas offering (which I have also found far more comfortable). Bonus – they go with everything which gives them a gold star as far as the capsule wardrobe is concerned.

If you want to read my previous capsule wardrobe posts they are all linked below…

Trying out the capsule wardrobe – the ‘Un-Fancy’ way

My Capsule Wardrobe: Lessons & Winter Updates

3 Spring Trends – for a capsule wardrobe

My Capsule Wardrobe: The Winter to Spring transition

Also worn in this post: Sunglasses – Primark, Bag – New Look (last year’s stock)

 

 

 

 

 

My Capsule Wardrobe: The Winter to Spring transition

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I am now on the third season of my capsule wardrobe and still loving the experience. I originally started using a specific template from the popular un-fancy.com and I’ve really enjoyed adapting the concept to suit my circumstances and continue developing a style. I will link all my previous musings on the subject at the end of this post, but today I am talking through my tips for the transition from Winter to Spring. The collage above depicts some of the items I’ve updated my wardrobe with (all linked at the end of the post) but if you want to see more pieces in action I’m forever posting outfits on my Instagram account! (thevictoriajay)

Prepare for a bigger switch up

If I’m honest, I found the Autumn to Winter transition a bit of a walk in the park. I had my base wardrobe and just needed to switch a handful of items out to prepare for colder weather, or to replace pieces that just had not worked for whatever reason. This time it was less of a ‘switch up’ and more of an ‘overhaul’. I think this was both due to the changing weather, and the fact I had developed more ideas about what I wanted my wardrobe and style to look like, the longer I had been committed to the process. Practically this meant I needed more time and more money for this changeover, which is definitely a lesson for the future.

Think layers

Talking of weather, being based in the UK doesn’t necessarily mean warm sunny weather throughout the season! With our April showers, unpredictable temperatures and random heatwaves I knew I needed to have variety in a Spring capsule wardrobe. My answer to this? Layers. All my tops can be layered up with each other, and my jackets and shoes have varying degrees of warmth and rain protection!

Consider your patterns

My Autumn and Winter capsule collections were all about block colours. It’s a look I was experimenting with, and I enjoyed it. However, I also love my patterns particularly in the warmer months, so knew I would need some florals in my life come Spring. Part of me wanted to run through the shops grabbing everything brightly coloured and patterned from the rails, but with a love of patterns comes a more complicated buying process for the capsule wardrobe convert! I decided the way forward was to have patterned items on the top half or bottom half only. That way, there was no risk of clashing and my wardrobe kept one of the original intentions of being compact but versatile with almost all pieces being suitable to be worn together. I decided to go with the bottom half meaning I was able to pick trousers, skirts and dresses in as many varied patterns as I wanted, and kept jackets and tops in block colours.

If I pluck up he courage, I’d love to finally get around to doing some outfit posts. If that is something you would like to see, let me know in the comments below…

 

Links to items…

Top Row (L-R)

Avery Floral Trousers – Boohoo.com (no longer available!) Similar here

White All Star Oxford Leather – Converse

Ella Basic Slogan Box Tee – Boohoo.com

Middle Row (L-R)

Grey Sleeveless Jacket – Miss Selfridge

Suedette Waterfall Jacket – Warehouse

Blush Duster Coat – Miss Selfridge

Bottom Row (L-R)

White Knitted Cross Back Jumper – River Island

Tan Pointed Flats – New Look

High Waist Ripped Jeans – New Look

 

Previous capsule wardrobe posts…

Trying out the capsule wardrobe – the ‘unfancy’ way

My Capsule Wardrobe: Lessons and Winter Updates

3 Spring Trends – for a capsule wardrobe

 

3 Spring Trends – for a capsule wardrobe

I might be sitting here snuggled up in my dressing gown and seeing snow warnings in my Twitter newsfeed, but that won’t stop me from dreaming about my Spring fashion shopping! Surely with Easter just around the corner, and the shops full of new season trends, it’s a good time for any capsule wardrobe convert to start planning for the transition. I jumped on the capsule wardrobe bandwagon at the end of last year (you can read my previous capsule wardrobe posts here and here) and am definitely still learning, so this time I am doing my research well in advance. My changeover will be at the beginning of April so I am keeping my fingers crossed for more sunshine by then! Here are three items from trends for Spring 2016 that I have my eye on…

The Bomber Jacket – New Look – £27.99

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As a 90’s teenager the bomber jacket was a staple for me growing up. When it recently made a comeback for Autumn/Winter I wasn’t sure if it was something I wanted to re-wear this time around. Then I saw this beaut from New Look. The classic style updated for Spring will look just as good with jeans and converse as it will layered over soft tailoring. Pink Ladies eat your heart out!

 

The Evening Sweatshirt – Milk It Vintage (at ASOS) – £45

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I can’t pretend to be a dedicated follower of catwalk trends but a quick flick through InStyle magazine recently introduced me to the concept of the evening sweatshirt. Apparently they were seen on models walking for designers such as Christopher Kane in the shows for Spring 2016, so the high street are bound to take notice. A twist on the classic sweatshirt combining comfort and a touch of glamour, they are ideal for a capsule wardrobe where versatility is key. I love this one from ASOS.

 

Fringed Heels – River Island – £38

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Seventies inspired trends seem to be here to stay with fringing having been all over the high street since last Spring. This year, I’ve noticed a more toned down version coming to the forefront making the seventies look very wearable. I love that this pair from River Island have a heel height suitable for all occasions and a peep-toe to show off the Spring pedi without being too open resulting in freezing cold feet!

 

My Capsule Wardrobe: Lessons & Winter Updates

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Back in October last year, I posted about dipping my toe into the increasingly popular capsule wardrobe concept. I have now worn my wardrobe for three months, learnt lessons and updated my collection for the next season so thought it was about time I wrote an update. If you didn’t catch my first post, I’ve linked it here and I recommend you give it a quick scan before reading on…

Developing my style

This was one of my aims when I started and I feel like it is happening. Opening my wardrobe doors when preparing for the transition to winter I was greeted with a consistent colour palette and a mixture of soft tailoring and casual pieces; Plenty of black, white and grey and also some earthy tones, and I was drawn to the same kind of items when I shopped for winter.

Saving money

Between the changeover in seasons, I barely spent any money on clothes. I wouldn’t have spent any, aside from the fact I burnt my pencil skirt when trying to iron it so had to replace it! I wasn’t a big spender on fashion prior to trying out the capsule wardrobe but whatever your pre-capsule spending habits, you’ll definitely have some spare cash to save/spend on other things once you commit to the concept.

Buying quality

My wardrobe used to be almost exclusively Primark. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing but once I knew I would have less pieces in my wardrobe, I knew I would need it to be better quality as it would obviously be washed more often. I’m not saying I bought designer (if only!) but buying in places such as Reiss, Zara, and even Topshop has felt like a luxury to me, and one I want to continue with!

Lessons

My main one so far is check the care label before buying! The last thing I wanted was to have to handwash or dry clean items when I’m wearing them so often. The other is plan financially. I knew my changeover would be at the end of December so asked for vouchers as Christmas presents. My next spending spree will be at the beginning of April so I plan to put money aside especially for the purpose.

The Winter Update

Having built my first capsule wardobe after reading the wise words of Caroline from un-fancy.com I went a bit freestyle this time! I wrote a list of all my items and ticked off everything I knew I wanted to keep. Everything not ticked was pulled out of the wardrobe and scrutinised; did I still love it and would I still wear it? If the answer was no the item went into storage or the charity pile. Next, I reviewed all the items in storage to see if I wanted to add them to the current wardrobe. This time I only kept two items out of storage, as the majority of it was spring/summer wear. This left me with a list of items to buy, which as before was the fun part! The collage above shows some of the items new to my winter capsule wardrobe, all linked below. Advice and feedback on the process welcome as always!

Khaki shirt dress – ASOS

Frido over the knee boots – Aldo

Stud tie front blouse – Warehouse

Down filled premium parka – Miss Selfridge

Sleeveless white shirt – ASOS

Navy Swing Dress – Miss Selfridge

Grey maxi cardigan – Soaked in Luxury (at ASOS)

Alaska wide fit ankle boots – ASOS

Fine knit roll neck jumper – JDY (at ASOS)

Trying out the capsule wardrobe – the ‘Un-Fancy’ way

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When I started blogging, a friend suggested writing a post about The Capsule Wardrobe. As much as the idea intrigued me I thought it was something I’d never actually be able to do. However, after doing my research (in other words; reading a lot of blog posts) I decided it was something I definitely wanted to try out. I’ve now overhauled my wardrobe and created my first ever capsule wardrobe. Read on for the what’s, why’s and how’s of the process so far! (You might want to grab a cup of tea and a snack – it’s a long one!)


What is it?

In short, it’s a finite collection of fashion pieces that make up your wardrobe, and is designed to last three months (typically a season). I decided to base mine on the recommendations of Caroline who owns the blog un-fancy.com – completely dedicated to the capsule wardrobe concept. She recommends around 37 pieces (I ended up going for 39). If you are thinking of creating a capsule wardrobe I highly recommend browsing her site as this is where I got most of my inspiration. Included in the number is tops, bottoms (skirts, dresses, trousers), shoes and outerwear. You don’t include accessories as these can then be used to provide more variety to the outfits you can create, however I notice Caroline takes a very minimal approach to accessories too. Neither do you include underwear, workout wear, loungewear, swimwear or any cocktail dresses or ball gowns you happen to own! Reassess and swap or buy items every three months and Bob’s your uncle! You could argue that in the UK we don’t need to swap our clothes out every season given the unpredictable and mixed weather but I decided to start off with three monthly intervals as I’m new to the capsule wardrobe game and want a chance to be able to correct any mistakes sooner rather than later.


Why do it?

Personally, I wanted to start to develop my own personal style. I realise written down that sounds a bit pretentious! However at 32 years young I couldn’t tell you what my style is. A browse through old photos would just confirm that I jump on whatever fashion bandwagon happens to be going past at the time and as a result I’ve bought into the ‘throwaway fashion’ culture. Hopefully that will start to change now. I also really relate to Caroline’s points on her blog about the paradox of choice and emotional shopping. Being faced with an overflowing wardrobe and drawers stuffed full of clothes meant I didn’t get full use out of my items and ended wearing the same things a lot of the time. Too much choice is not always a good thing. And as for emotional shopping; if you look in your wardrobe now and find the things you have never worn or only worn once, there’s every chance they are a result of this. I know I haven’t made good fashion purchases when feeling panicked, stressed, tired or upset! In the long term this method should also save you money. It might seem like a big cost when you start, but you won’t spend any money on clothes for another three months, and the more practised you get the less money you are likely to spend each time you swap the clothes for the change in season.


How did I do it?

Taking lead from un-fancy.com first I thought about where I spend most of my time. Working full time in an office environment means I wanted a high proportion of the pieces to be work-suitable but I still needed plenty of items I could wear socially including just a few ‘party pieces’ (gone are the days of all night partying every weekend for me!) This is probably the most important step as everybody will have completely different requirements here depending on your lifestyle. Next, the big wardrobe clear out. This was eye opening! I naively thought I probably didn’t have that many more than 39 pieces as I’m pretty good at having regular de-cluttering sessions. Well, I was wrong as when it came to the crunch I had 198 pieces! I sorted everything into three piles;

1. Keep and wear. This pile went straight back into the wardrobe. It included everything I looked at and immediately thought ‘love it, fits me and is season appropriate’. This was the starting point of my new capsule wardrobe and I had 19 pieces (which further proves how little of my wardrobe I was actually wearing!)

2. Storage. In here went anything I loved and can still wear but is not suitable to wear in the next three months (so in other words spring/summer clothes). Also into this pile went anything that I’m not going to wear any time soon but for some sentimental reason couldn’t bear to part with. When it’s time to reassess the capsule wardrobe in a few months time this will come out of storage to be considered again. I bought some vacuum packed storage bags so that the clothing will be kept safe and dry for the end of December but is not easy for me to dip into if I feel like cheating!

3. Donate/Sell. This included items that don’t fit or I simply didn’t love enough to put into either of the other piles. I didn’t actually count how many items ended up here but this was definitely the biggest pile, I reckon around 75% of the whole lot! I ended up donating most of it, and keeping just a few items to sell on eBay, but if you have more patience than me you could sell the lot and use the money to fund your new capsule wardrobe.

You can also have a fourth pile for any items that cause you to hesitate and are unsure where to put. You can either store these away or reassess once everything else has been sorted. However, I was feeling in a ruthless mood so decided not to have this pile!

Finally, the fun part: shopping! But a different kind of shopping for me; carefully planned and every purchase considered to make sure it worked with most, if not all, of the other items in the wardrobe so far.


The result?

My first ever capsule wardrobe! Well, almost. I have 35 pieces so far and still need a coat, a jumper and two tops before it will feel complete so am still on the lookout for these pieces.  I will then have 39 pieces that I will wear exclusively for the next three months and I have to say I’m quite excited about it. Sadly, my photography and photo editing skills are not advanced enough to provide a visual of the whole wardrobe contents but at the end of the post I have listed all the items with links to the exact or similar items (some items are not available online or I already owned them so are not current stock).


Lessons so far

De-cluttering in any form can be therapeutic and this has been no exception. It’s also contagious and has made me want to take a more minimalistic approach to other possessions too. This will be a work in progress and I’m sure lessons will be learnt along the way. The biggest one this time was not to try and complete the shopping in one session; it needs to remain fun and you want to avoid buying things for the sake of it. It’s therefore a good idea to do the wardrobe sort out 2-3 weeks before you plan to start and before each season change. This time I did an initial shopping trip where I got about half the items I needed. After taking everything home and reassessing what was missing I finished with two online sessions and a further trip to the local shopping centre. And as I already mentioned, I have a little bit of shopping still to do.


My items

TOPS

Long line black cardigan – Primark (similar), Black blazer – ASOS, Sleeveless tuxedo jacket – Primark (similar), Wine roll neck – Boohoo, Cream side split jumper – Boohoo, Burgundy oversized jumper – Primark (similar), Grey turtle neck crop top – Primark (similar), Black jersey top with PU sleeves – Primark (similar), Denim shirt – H&M, Check shirt – H&M, Black cold shoulder top – Primark (similar), Blogger slogan tee – Boohoo (similar), Floral top – Miss Selfridge, Grey V Neck – H&M, White blouse – ASOS, 2 Tops & Jumper – still to buy

BOTTOMS

Blue skinny jean – Seven for all Mankind, High waist blue jeans – Miss Selfridge, High waist black jeans – Boohoo, Black treggings – Boohoo, Black tailored trousers – Next, Grey tailored trousers – River Island, Black pencil skirt – ASOS, Corduroy skirt – Topshop

DRESSES

Black jersey midi dress – H&M, Retro black dress – ASOS, Roll neck stripe dress – Miss Selfridge

SHOES

Black trainers – Nike (similar), Black loafers – Primark (similar), Black Chelsea boots – Primark (similar), Black heeled boots – Primark (similar) , Brown heeled boots – New Look (similar), Patent heels – TK Maxx (similar), Suede heels – River Island

COATS/JACKETS

Grey cape – River Island (similar), Black faux leather jacket – Topshop, Coat – still to buy


I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings the capsule wardrobe experience so far! I plan to do an update each season. Let me know in the comments if that’s something you’d like to see, and if you have any tips for me…