Friday, September 16, 2016

The capsule wardrobe challenge




What is it about the term ‘capsule wardrobe’ that captures our attention?  I think it holds such appeal because it’s like a magical feeling of ‘once you’ve got that sorted, you’ve got life sorted’.  I may be overstating it, but it certainly feels that way.

I’m on Courtney Carver’s ‘Be More with Less’ (I almost typed in ‘Be Less with More’ which really is the same thing isn’t it?) mailing list and she sent out an email about the next round of Project 333 which starts on the 1st of October.

Project 333 is a capsule wardrobe idea where you choose 33 items to wear for the next three months (October to December).  It’s quarterly/seasonal so that you change out as the weather changes.  I’ve dabbled in Project 333 before, but never followed it properly.

Strictly speaking, the 33 items should cover everything you wear including accessories and footwear, however it’s not meant to be a torturous test, in fact it’s meant to liberate you.  So I’m going to go for 33 items of clothing.

Why I’m telling you this before I do it is because I want public accountability that I’m going to actually do it properly this time.  Not chicken out and just keep wearing the same old things in my closet (which is probably less than 33 items rotated if I counted).

I think I will actually have increased variety in my outfits by doing this challenge, because it will make me think more about what I wear, because the truth is I’m pretty lazy and can happily have a handful of outfits that I wear each day

When I’ve sorted out my 33 items – by the 1st of October – I’ll share my choices with you.  It’s spring here in New Zealand so I will be bringing out my warmer weather clothes, but it still won’t be hot until after Christmas probably, so it’s my shoulder-season/trans-seasonal wardrobe.

Here are all the benefits I am looking forward to with having a capsule wardrobe:

Ease of getting ready in the morning

Feeling like I’m all organised, not just getting dressed, but in life!

A roadmap for the season ahead – no surprises

Seeing straight away if I have a full wardrobe for the season or if I need to fill some gaps

Feeling like I am that chic and elegant woman who plans her wardrobe out

Having a colour-coordinated mix-and-match selection

Checking that everything is comfortable and in good order so I can focus on other
things such as my writing instead of wardrobe mishaps

Being more creative in my choices and actually wearing some of my lovely pieces that I often pass over because they’re ‘too good/delicate/fancy’

Yay, I think I’ve really talked myself into it this time!

Are you a capsule wardrobe convert, or do you prefer to wing it?  Please share, and also I’d love any tips on how to make it easier.  I want this to be a fun and enjoyable exercise!

51 comments:

  1. Hi Fiona! I'm like you and hate to follow rules! I'm going to do it but do it my way lol! Right now I need to do a huge wardrobe decluttering so its probably not the best time to do the 33 items right now. I think you probably have to be somewhat organized before beginning! That's what I'm going to work on along with you!

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    1. You could always kickstart your wardrobe declutter with Proj 333 if you wanted to, Carla! Just choose your favourite 33 items and don't worry about any decisions on the rest. Push them to one side or pack away in a suitcase and see what it feels like to have a minimal wardrobe. What do you have to lose?

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  2. This is a great idea. Janice Riggs at the Vivienne Files blog has a bunch of 333 capsule wardrobes, as well as many others. She is a great resource.

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    1. I love Janice's blog and think she's amazing how she puts those capsules together.

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  3. If I exclude scarves, I don't think I even have 33 items in my wardrobe, I'd have to buy some to get to that number!
    Seriously, I have a small wardrobe because I've tried to be selective over basics, such as black jeans, black culottes, indigo jeans, white shirt, navy pea coat, and so forth, and then jollying them up with a variety of scarves (this my autumn/winter wardrobe, but my summer one is much the same with navy and khaki chinos and white shirts and T-shirts. I stick to basic colours which for me are navy or black for things like jeans and culottes (I don't wear skirts, I prefer a dress), and my dresses are chosen so that they can be worn under the coats/trenches I have, and will 'go' with my shoes/boots. Tights are always navy or black opaque in autumn/winter, too. The smaller the variety, the easier it is to have a nice wardrobe and then you can buy the occasional garment which will go with bthe basic items ... I plan on buying one of those wrap garments for autumn, you know the sort of thing ... not a coat and not a poncho, a bit more like a shawl but with shoulders. I've seen several today in Marks & Spencer, so many I'm spoilt for choice, but I fancy one in shades of tan which will look good over black, and one in heather shades, which will look good over indigo. I don't need to de-clutter as I have, as I say, just a small amount of clothes. It really does make life easier. Buy quality, buy classic shapes (and that needn't mean boring!) and add a dash of colour with makeup; earrings, bangles, and brooches (although not all at once!); belts, bags, shoes. And keep everything well-laundered, well-pressed, no hanging hems, no buttons missing, and shoes polished.
    Margaret P

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    1. I prefer dresses over skirts too, Margaret. Your minimal wardrobe sounds very classic and chic :)

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    2. I have the same wardrobe vision as you, Margaret, although my wardrobe needs some serious downsizing. Project 333 seems the perfect occasion for putting all my stuff out of the closet and select only the most classic, stylish and best quality items. The rest will go away and no regrets! :)

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  4. I'll check into the Project; sounds interesting. I am not sure I have 33 items, either. I have a very basic, classic wardrobe, mostly all black with color coming from accessories (scarves, etc.). I'll go see what is recommended but I agree with Margaret P. above - classic, quality pieces!

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    1. You're living the minimal wardrobe dream, LBD :)

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  5. Sounds like a great idea! Thank you, Fiona! I'm a bit like Margaret above - I don't think I even own 33 items (my husbands tends to disagree but what does HE know? :-))

    I thibk I'm going to join the challenge and up the ante: I'm going to wear 33 items that are actually NICE. Most of the time I'm a jeans-and-sweater girl. This summer I bought myself a few nice tops and things but I'm yet to wear them! So that's what I'm going to do, then. Ugly old things don't count! :-)

    Thank you so much, Fiona, I really love this idea.

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    1. Oh, I totally agree - ugly things don't count! I have two almost-new coats, bought them three winter's ago and I've never really liked them. I thought they were fine when I put them on in the shop, but then later decided that teal isn't my colour, nor a funnel-neck no matter how modern it might've looked (at the time) - I look like a tortoise in it, head poking out of the shell of the neck; and the other is camel-coloured and with my grey hair (which I've just had highlighted so that it looks 100% better)it isn't right at all - OK with brown hair or blond hair, but grey hair with camel looks frightful. Plus the style was what I'd call matronly, and that isn't kind to anyone's figure, it's just so ugly. So both, regardless of the expense (and they were expensive) are going to the charity shop. After all, they are just hanging in the wardrobe, they might as well go to a new home, someone will love them and think they've got a bargain and I will look chipper in my new, modern navy coat. It's a win-win situation!
      Margaret P

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    2. You sound the same as me, GalaktioNova! I'm looking forward to wearing my nice things in the coming season.

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  6. Hi Fiona,
    The thought of choosing only 33 items of clothing to wear for one season is scary. Even though each season I do tend to have my favourites that get worn way more than others, I still need the option of mixing things up day to day. Looking back over this winter, I have probably worn only 33 items (and that includes scarves and gloves), but it has happened organically. I'm looking forward to spring and summer.
    Mara.

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    1. Maybe you could do Reverse Project 333, Mara ;) by looking back over the past season and making a list of what you wore.

      I know what you mean about it being a bit scary - when you have to choose upfront, three months seems quite long!

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  7. Hi Fiona, i'm seriously considering this too as i really do find i only wear a few of the things in my wardrobe currently - could be b/c i've a bit of weight to loose, but hopefully this will give me impetus to do it - so 1st of October here i come

    jane

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    1. It might feel really too to forget about the weight and focus on putting together a small wardrobe of items that make you feel good now, Jane :)

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  8. Having worn a nursez uniform all my life, at 60 years old I am sorry to say I do not have a style. I would like to learn what itis i like but cannot seem to fivure it out. I do ways pick out the same things to wear out of h it. Is it even possible to break that habit!!!!

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    1. Coraline, I've heard others say that doing something like Project 333 helps them work out their style because they are taking an objective look at their wardrobe. I believe if you are still alive, it's never too late to change if you want to :)

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  9. Thank you for your pod casts love them

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    1. It's my pleasure, Coraline! They're really fun to do.

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  10. I find Project 333 daunting, but applaud someone brave enough to embrace it. I think I might do an opposite Project 333, wearing as many things in my closet as I can in 3 months (not including dressy dresses.) Perhaps those items that are not used can be designated as donate-bag items. This could be a painless way to clean my closet. I have to think about this.

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    1. Kristien, I LOVE this idea.

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    2. Kristien, I think that is a BRILLIANT idea! So often we let things just sit in our closet for the "right time" & grab the same old items out of habit. At the end of the season (winter, here in Canada) you should have good handle on what you love & what you can let go of. Very clever!

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    3. Love it Kristien, 'opposite Proj 333' :)

      Peter Walsh talks about the reverse hanger technique where you turn all your hangers around so they are hooked from the inside, if that makes sense. Then, when you put your items back after wear or washing, you put them back the correct way. You can then see easily what you haven't worn.

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    4. It is settled then. When I return from vacation, I need to get my cold weather items out (I'm in NC at the beach right now.) This will be a great time to start. If I wear an item, I will turn its hanger. By the first of the year, if it hasn't been turned, it goes. And you are right, Susanne. We let things languish "for special times." Well, I don't know about you, but I have way more special things than special occasions. I will let you know how it goes.

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    5. I love this idea! I admittedly have a pretty huge wardrobe (although I do purge often - I just also love to shop). It would be a challenge to see how much I could wear, and then use that to decide what's worth keeping and what's not.

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    6. I have more special occasion clothes than special occasions, too, Kristien! I've got to invent some more special occasions; oh, that's right, I forgot I'm a home-loving introvert :) Might have to start dressing for dinner.

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  11. Oh Margaret P, you are a hoot !! Your comment about looking like a tortoise made me laugh out loud.

    Being a fan of Jennifer L Scott (aka Madame Chic) and her blog 'Daily Connoiseur' I am familiar with her concept of a ten item wardrobe. Her TEDx talk on this topic is brilliant so Google if you haven't seen it. However, also being someone who likes to think about things before doing (ie a procrastinator :)) I finally took action this last Southern Hemisphere winter and sorted out my wardrobe. Granted one section of it still looks like an overcrowded sales rack at Target but one section has my chosen garments on good hangers, my limited selection of shoes (I have many many pairs and Mr has long given up on any tally :)), handbags neatly stacked (another fetish), socks and intimates same. It was fun to clear out items which didn't suit / flatter me and give them to charity. Like Margaret P, some still had tags or had been worn only once or twice but we're in unflattering colours and just taking up space. I hope they have gone to someone who has completely different colouring to me and now feels a million bucks !

    Having a slimmer winter wardrobe made it so much easier to dress each morning - even though I no longer work outside the home due to ongoing poor health - and helped me to 'look presentable always' (as Jennifer L Scott advises) with less effort and dare I say anguish ! Spring is tricky for me as I live in subtropical coastal,Australia and the weather is incredibly humid at present. Frizz ball hair is never my favoured accessory and I struggle to look chic / presentable in warmer weather clothes.

    I do like the notion of having 'a roadmap', as you describe it Fiona, and will allocate time in the coming days to sort thru my vast collection of shirts to discard those which are too snug (why do they insist on making capped sleeves ?? No one over 12 yo or Michelle Obama looks good in those !!), wrong colours, looking tired or those impulse buys which have hung for years without ever getting a look in. There - I've said it out loud so now must do it.

    ps does anyone have any advice on how to look good / feel comfortable in sleeveless tops. Our climate is so warm that often t shirts etc are too hot. Plus now that I am experiencing hot flushes I carry a little fan with me anyway. I have many singlets but feel yuk in them. It's not that I'm big busted or have flabby arms, I just feel not at my best. Any advice ???

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    1. Great post Fiona! Like Margaret, I'm not sure I even own 33 items. I do, but probably 1/4 are things I still don't wear & can get rid of. I say "still" because I did a thorough clean-out last year after I retired & "retired" 2/3 of my wardrobe as well! Or thought I did. I still seem to have things on hand I don't wear anymore. Time for another toss-out, I think. Especially jackets; I seem to have collected an awful lot of jackets (I live in that sort of a climate), a number of which I'm not that keen on. They're practical but don't make me excited in any way.

      I did laugh at Margaret's comment "earrings, bangles & brooches -- although not all at once!": I rarely wear brooches, but I do wear pendants & wild necklaces & armsful of bangles & dangly earrings & 5 or 6 rings, yes, all at once! It's kind of my signature, I've discovered. I went tearing out in a mad hurry last week with no earrings and "bare" hands (I usually wear at least 2 rings/hand, barest minimum) & had TWO people I don't even know that well tell me I didn't look like myself! One even asked if I'd been ill as she thought I looked uncharacteristically "subdued"! I won't do that again!LOL!

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    2. Lara, I say just do the sleeveless. I live in So.Calif. where it gets to be 110*F every summer. It's more important to not pass out due to heat stroke! I don't really like sleeveless tops either but I find as long as they cover the shoulders completely and not just narrow strips like a tank top would, then I feel a bit more "dressed."

      D.

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    3. Thank you Lara and Susanne, for comments here (I hope you won't mind my responding, Fiona.) Glad to have made you both laugh - no, the elderly tortoise-look isn't good, nor even fashionable this year (for as we know fashion and style are often two different things.) And all that jewellery, Susanne - that is your style, and I'm sure all the bangles and rings look great.
      Fortunately the climate here in the UK is seldom very hot for very long. Yes, we've had 34C in parts of the UK recently, but this is not usual, and so I've not experienced great heat as you have. I would suggest, though, if you don't like bare arms to wear very loose linen shirts. They do have a crumpled look, but this is the nature of limen, and in hot weather I believe linen is the coolest of fabrics. The sun on bare arms might make them feel even more hot, and the linen would absorb moisture, too. But as I say, I'm not speaking from experience, I've never been in such high temperatures.
      Margaret P

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    4. I love Jennifer L. Scott's TED talk, and Lara, I am a procrastinator too but I'm learning to do things quicker and not think about them so much - it really helps me.

      I tie my hair back a lot or have it smoothed into a bun when it's hot and humid. It helps me feel cooler plus my hair looks better than a big Monica-from-Friends frizz.

      'overcrowded sales rack at Target' hahaha so good!

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    5. Lara, when it's really hot (and it still doesn't compare to Australia here) I have a few sleeveless things but I know what you mean, they feel really naked and I don't really want people to be looking at my underarms, especially at work.

      I find floaty short sleeves good, and yes, even capped if they are loose. You can get tops that have quite fluttery short sleeves and they look nice whilst being cool. You could even have a go at doctoring one of your own singlet tops, getting some chiffon fabric in the same colour and sewing two pieces on (split down the middle so it is a 'sleeve' but sort of hangs? Do I need to draw a picture do you think???

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    6. Fiona, Margaret and D - thanks for the advice. Yes, wider straps are more flattering than the shoestring straps. I like the idea of the fluttery sleeves. Wonderful !

      ps I read somewhere recently that perfectionism is a form of procrastination and have latched onto that concept as I often hold back from doing things for fear it won't be perfect. Usually subconsciously. Since embracing this concept I have surprised myself and done things I normally wouldn't and/or not worried because something wasn't perfect :)

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    7. Exactly, Lara. I'm getting better at letting go of perfect too. Yay for progress for both of us!

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    8. Hi Lara, I live in Queensland and can totally understand what you mean. Its hard to look put-together when even shorts feel stuck to you and too hot! I did decide last summer though that singlets are just not a good look for me and have tried to go for the slightly looser fitting floaty tops. I think they are actually cooler which is a nice surprise. I never wear my hair down in summer unless its a special (indoor) occasion, it just goes super-humid frizzy otherwise. I did laugh at the Monica-from-Friends reference, it's how I feel about 8 months of the year :-)

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  12. I'll be watching you closely Fiona...I have not got too many clothes in my closet and I love seeing the creatively this Project encourages.

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    1. Now you're making me nervous! *watching me closely*

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  13. Hi Fiona, This post made me curious to know exactly how many garments I have in my wardrobe. I just counted: it's 37, not including (17 pairs - yikes, that sounds like a lot!) of shoes or (3) coats. This is the grand total of my wardrobe, not seasonal. I don't store away any of my clothes because I typically layer when it's cold. The one thing I noticed though is that most of my clothes are navy colored! That might be a problem :)

    D.

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    1. Not to worry, D, navy is tres chic :)

      37 is very impressive!

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    2. I like navy as a base colour, definitely more flattering than black. When I worked in offices in Sydney the winters would be filled with people wearing black, black and grey. Very dreary.

      I also like denim, khaki,,etc for base colours in 'bottoms' (jeans, shorts, skirts).

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  14. Hi, Fiona. I've been travelling now for three weeks with grey and navy slacks/jeans
    two t-shirts, a big shirt, a navy cardigan and a couple of pullovers. We have toured all the way around Ireland by bus and we're now in the Shetlands meeting relatives. Right now, we have a washing machine so everything is clean to go
    in London. I read Courtney's blog and would like to try Project 33 until Christmas when Monsieur and I go to Mexico.

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    1. Great travel wardrobe, Madame! I'm sure you'll do well with a wardrobe project because you are very good at cleaning out and mixing things up. You are an inspiration how you have re-made your style.

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  15. I love the idea of this project and have gone through all my clothes and sorted them into colours that I wear. I ended up with black, white, grey and navy basics. I use shirts or jackets in accent colours along with scarves and jewellry to brighten up. I still have way too many clothes but intend to try the 33 items for spring here in Sydney. Having recently retired I am going to shed my work clothes except for one outfit. I agree with the comments about linen for the summer here in Oz and also the floaty sleeves.
    I am also a great fan of Janice Riggs and use her wardrobe planning ideas.

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    1. Love your base colours, Petal. How exciting to release your work clothes!

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  16. I love the concept of capsule dressing, but I must confess that when I did the 10 pieces of clothing routine, it was fine for warmer weather, but hopeless for me in rainy, cold weather. Love your suggestion about sewing sleeves onto singlets.

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    1. It's great you tried though, otherwise how will you ever find out what works for you? I don't mind if my Project 333 is a good or bad outcome, it's all valuable information.

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  17. You've encouraged me to get all of my clothes out today and sort them into the 33 pieces for spring! Its already warm here in Queensland :-( so I think I'll have to go with a spring/summer combination. Also, I've been reading your book and its fabulous! I try to read at least one chic day each day, and I'm really enjoying it and being inspired! Thank you :-)

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    1. Thank you so much Lisa, I'm thrilled to hear you are enjoying my book. It puts a bloom in my heart :)

      Good luck with your Project 333!

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  18. I'm really excited to see your selection which I hope you publish. And I am so hoping you publish some of the combos you make up from your capsule. There is no doubt that the discipline streamlines one's life.
    I did the 18 piece capsule in spring which I so enjoyed. I like it for all the reasons you state. I'm off on Friday for a 3 week trip and will try to get by with the 12 pieces I sort of publicly packed this week. I find it very exciting because I become more creative with limited choice.
    Aren't we having fun?!!
    PP.

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    1. Hi PP, we are totally having fun! I will definitely share my selection, I love seeing what other people wear too. And you're right; doing a capsule for home or travel definitely makes you more creative. Well done on twelve pieces for your trip!

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Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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