My Capsule Wardrobe, Week One: My Thoughts.


I have just completed the first week of my twelve-week capsule wardrobe experiment...  

So far, I am absolutely thrilled with the process!

 I began this challenge last Monday, September 14th, with 45 items.

When I began planning in early August, I originally planned for 40 items.

Labor Day Weekend, I went back through my closet and pulled two more items that I wanted to use in this capsule.   I also went to a fave consignment shop and bought a beautiful red skirt and matching sweater.   

Then, because I can never leave well enough alone, I bought a fancypants Byron Lars blouse at my local thrift shop.

Three days into the capsule - I went back to my favorite consignment store, and came home with another skirt and sweater.

I am currently at 47 items.  That's where I am staying.   End of story.

My Outfits for this Past Week:

There are only six outfits pictured here.   I went to ballet class one day and stayed in my gear while working from home for the rest.   Dance and exercise gear are not counted in my capsule.

These outfits ran the gamut from dressy to casual:  from an upscale networking social, to working from home.   Dressing was so easy!   Grab a top, grab a bottom, add some shoes and a bag, and get on with my day!

The best part about getting dressed, was that everything is a favorite in this capsule.   So there has been no fidgeting, or second-guessing my choices, or wishing I'd worn something else.   

I felt amazing in these outfits, like I could conquer the world.   

Why I undertook this experiment, and what I have learned so far:

I decided to try a capsule wardrobe because...

1).  ....Clothing and fashion have, stupidly, taken over so much of my mental energy.  I don't want my life to be bogged down thinking about what I'm going to wear.

2). ....I am trying to declutter and reduce the overall number of superfluous, unused belongings in my home.  Clothing is a huge part of this.

3). ...I want to spend less money overall, and stop buying things I don't need.

After four weeks of planning, and one week into the execution, I have learned...

 1). ...How to be a more mindful shopper.  I gave every new item I purchased for this capsule a good deal of consideration, about where I would wear it, and how it would work with the other pieces.

2).  ...That a capsule wardrobe is not stopping the urge to shop.  

This was a bit of a surprise, to be honest.   While I have no regrets about the pieces I bought, I know, moving forward, that I have triggers that bring on an inpulse to shop.   

Stress, hunger, a feeling of 'reward' or 'entitlement', procrastination, potentially confrontational situations... these are all triggers for me.

My 'emergency' contingency plan, if the urge to shop becomes overwhelming, is to shop my closet.

3). ...I have enough.   This wardrobe covers nearly all the contingencies of my life!   I can put together a very fancy outfit for the symphony or ballet from this capsule.

Moving forward, my goals are:

1).  Start assessing, in the weeks to come, which pieces I am already not reaching for, and why.   Any piece not worn by mid-October will either be stored for a future capsule, or purged from my closet.

Admittedly, it is still too warm outside for some of the jackets.

2)  Look at which pieces are being over-worn, and why.   I pulled out my black zip cardigan three times this week.   I wore it once, and took it with me, twice, into venues that I expected to be chilly.   It may be that I need to bring in one more casual sweater piece, and remove something fancier from the lineup.

3)   I am already thinking about my next capsule.   I originally planned to start my next capsule the second week of December.  I've since decided to start  my next capsule closer to the Winter Solstice (December 22nd), and take that next capsule through the Spring Equinox. 

I know already there will be some overlap in skirts, jeans, and jackets from the Fall capsule to the Winter one.   In addition, I have clothing items that I know I will wear at Christmas, but probably won't want to wear after.  

My plan is to extend the Fall capsule two more weeks, and add a mini-capsule of around six items, to wear during the holidays. 

4)  I want to set a budget and an item limit for future capsules.  I plan to try setting a shopping window that begins in mid-December, and ends closer to New Year's.  Since I will be setting limits on what I can spend and the number of items I can buy, I think this will work very well for me.

In conclusion...

I am so glad I am doing this challenge!   It has brought me peace, and it has freed up a good bit of my time.   If you have ever thought you might like to try a capsule wardrobe, there are a lot of great resources on my inspiration page.   At the end of the day, mine is just a twelve-week experiment.   Yours can be six weeks, or four weeks, or seven days!     It isn't forever.

You never know until you try!

Locking in my Fall Capsule Wardrobe!

Tomorrow I begin my first ever capsule wardrobe.   I started planning nearly four weeks ago.   I have run the gamut of emotions with this, from excitement and enthusiasm, to impatience, to just wanting to just say bugger this all for a lark.

I have been a follower of The Project 333 for at least a year now.   I never tried it because 33 items for three months felt limiting - even though it says, right on Courtney's site, that you can tweak the rules for yourself.   And, admittedly, most of the capsule wardrobes I've seen online are uninspiring.   There is a lot of normcore happening, and that is just not my style.

Then I found One Hundred Hangers and realized, duh, I can totally tweak the rules.   The author, Jess, uses a capsule of around forty items - and her style has a similar aesthetic to mine.  I realized that forty items, in a sexy, slinky aesthetic, is something I can work with.

So I got down to business, thought through what my regular life is like, what I like to wear, what the temperatures are in Atlanta, from mid-September to early December.   I mapped out every trip and event on the calendar for this fall.

In the end, this capsule encompasses my every day life of working from home, acting and dance classes, and going out to upscale-but-casual-ish restaurants, bars, and clubs.

My capsule does not include actual dance clothing, swim gear, event wear (JC's corporate holiday party, for example), or loungewear (which is more-or-less my dance clothing).

In my last update, I was at forty items.   Then about a week and a half ago, I realized I had some additional pieces that I really wanted to work into my regular, everyday life for fall.   So I went back to the drawing board, pulled everything out, and brought in an additional twelve (!) pieces to compare with my forty pieces, and make some decisions.

Today, I am at 45 items.   I will start this capsule with 45 pieces but my gut feeling is that there will be some items cut in the weeks to come.

I have posted most of these photos already in previous, but I am posting them here again, to give an overall view of my capsule.  I downloaded StyleBook this weekend, but it's going to be a few days before I can get everything photographed and edited.

Without further ado, here is my Fall Capsule:

The Waters of Fall

... as I write this, there is a bathtub full of steaming water, growing cold...

It has been awhile since my last update.  I had a crisis of faith, of sorts, I suppose.  I had set solid fitness and dance goals, simply to take me through Labor Day Weekend... and I crashed and burned mentally - and a little bit physically, as well.

I felt overwhelmed.   There is a difference between eagerly hurrying to the pool, for the pleasure of slicing through the water for 50 or 60 laps... and knowing and dreading the 105 or so laps it takes to make a mile.   Procrastinating, then hurrying to fit it in before dark, or bad weather, and feeling anxious.

These last weeks have been a period of physical adjustment, where my body - particularly my neck and shoulders - has had to cope with stiffness, muscle fatigue and joint fatigue.   I feel these are growing pains - building muscle, and having to re-stretch everything out, make everything pliable for dance.    And as for dance - just ballet at the moment - there has also been the adjustments of strengthening the feet and ankles, and loosening up the hip joints.   For every class, or every session at home, there is a recovery period that happens that involves some fatigue and some soreness.   It's a good fatigue, and a good soreness - but it is also a reminder that physical changes and improvements take time.

On top of everything else, there is my acting technique to be worked on, and my singing.   And writing.

Labor Day came and went.   I swam 80 laps on Monday, some of it in a steady rain.  It was joyous and sad at the same time.   I never had a regular 'Labor Day' thing, but this was our second poolside brunch that we've organized, and it had a definite sense of farewell, to summer, to evenings on hot patios sipping cool drinks, to that abandoned sort of silliness that only seems to happen when it is over 90 outside and the cicadas are singing.   Everyone has returned to school, to work projects, to rushing around with their kids, to a lot hurry and stress.   Here I sit, on the riverbank, like the Water Rat, as the birds prepare to fly south.   The days are markedly shorter now, the trees are preparing to drop leaves (some have already started), and the air has an ever-so-slightly crispness.

Yesterday, I went to the pool, and it was positively divine.   The sun shone down hotly, and the water wasn't too cold, despite days of rain.   I swam 62 laps without stopping.   When I did stop, it was to stretch my neck and shoulders, and I knew I was done for the day.   So I took time to just enjoy my surroundings.  I swam around underwater, looking at everything inside the pool - the patterns of light on the floor, the fallen leaves and sticks, how the trees look, viewed from under the water.

I got out of the pool, and sat on the side, with my feet still in, and watched the butterflies wander past, and listened to the breeze murmuring in the trees.

I have learned so much this summer.   I learned, a little better, how to let go and live in the moment.   I learned, a little better, how to let go of some of the stress.   I've learned that by getting rid of the superfluous things in my life, I am making room for peace and creativity and finding more time to give to the people I love.

The pool will likely close after this weekend, and I will eventually find other pools to swim in for the winter.    Not just yet, though.   Flamenco classes begin this week, and I want to incorporate that into my schedule, without feeling overwhelmed.

While we're talking about water... I recently discovered an Antonio Carlos Jobim song that I was not familiar with,  The Waters of March.   I absolutely love it, and I am learning it.   If you are not familiar with Jobim, he wrote 'The Girl from Ipanema', and 'Agua de Beber', which was one of the first bossa nova pieces I learned to play on the drums.

"And the river bank talks

of the waters of March,

It's the end of the strain,

It's the joy in your heart"

It is September, but at this moment, my life feels like this song.   Here is a recording by Susannah McCorkle, which has both the Portuguese and English lyrics.

The Rewards of Persistence.

Last night, I took a 90-minute flamenco technique class.   Much to my surprise I found my cardio has vastly improved.  Sure, I was pouring sweat, and my face and arms and legs were probably the same pink color as my skirt.  But I was never out of breath, and, even better, there was no one muscle group that felt strained or over-used.   I felt uniformly fatigued, but in a good way.  I got home and did a brief EBAS session while JC and I watched our secret vice, Big Brother.

This morning was a different story.   I went to EBAS class, and it was great - as always.   Then ballet started, and I felt so exhausted.   Wrung out.   Both my body and my head.  It was as if the captain of my brain-ship was drunk at the wheel.   Everything was a struggle - pointing my feet, sliding through the floor, keeping my pelvis aligned.   I was aware throughout that my shoulders and arm muscles were in a world of aching fatigue.   It wasn't until we got to the center and did jumps, that suddenly my brain switched out of neutral and into drive.

I planned to swim today after classes.   It has been on my schedule all week.   And I kept putting it off.    I ran errands.   I did some shopping.  I gorged myself on crunchy almond butter.  I drank coffee.   I took a nap.   I decluttered my music scores.   Lunchtime turned to afternoon, which turned to evening.

At 7:30 I finally went down.   I thought about how good it would feel to be able to say I met my fitness goals this week.   My plan for this swim was to go for 30 laps without stopping or putting my feet down, then another 20.  And if I had anything left in me, to keep going.

The water was cold, but I plunged in.   For the first ten laps, Sabotage (my inner slacker) tried to murmur sweet nothings about how hard I had already worked today, and why don't we just call it a night?   But I went for 50 laps (2500 feet), almost without stopping, only pausing to adjust my mask.   I put my feet down maybe five times.   Of those 50 laps, 5 were the hated backstroke.

This swim was a struggle, physically, and mentally.   I made myself keep going.   The sun was going down, but there was enough light to paint the inside of the pool in shades of aqua and green ombre.

After 50 laps, I stretched out, feeling like I was pretty much done.   Then I thought I would do a couple of laps of backstroke.   I aligned my sights on Goliath, a big pine tree that keeps me centered in the pool (instead of veering off sideways into stairs).

Did I mention how very much I dislike backstroke?

Heading into the other direction, back into the deep end, there wasn't any one tree to align myself with, so I settled on the gap between two shorter trees.   And then, a few strokes into the lap, the most amazing thing happened...

The full moon came up and was framed in that gap.   It seemed like the entire world went held its breath in that moment,  still, hushed and reverent, as I pulled myself through the water, and looked up at that golden moon cradled in the silhouettes of the trees.

I love swimming.   Swimming makes me feel strong.   Swimming makes me feel alive.   Swimming lets me exist solely in the moment that I am gliding through the water.  Swimming makes me feel at peace and in love with the Universe when I am out of the water.   All the anxieties, all the pettiness, all the trivialities, just melt away, and what is left is happiness.

I am so glad I stayed the course.   I would not have had that golden moment this evening, otherwise.

I did ten laps of backstroke, gazing up at the moon on each return lap.   Then I pulled myself out of the water, toweled off, and smiled all the way up The Hill.


Postscript:  I am in bed now, writing on my laptop, listening to Bach... and marvelling that it took me until 10pm tonight to remember that I could take two ibuprofen to alleviate the aching I have felt all day.   Ahhhh.   Sometimes I am such an airhead, I amaze me.

Project 333 - Part Three, Finalizing my Decisions!

After much deliberation, I have worked out my selections for the upcoming Project 333 Challenge.  I am eager to start - except that the start of my new capsule wardrobe, is also the end of my summer.

I am always sad to see summer's end.   Everyone gets so excited about fall, and I'm standing around like Rat, in The Wind in the Willows - wistful and wondering why everybody is in such a hurry to move on.   There is so much to enjoy right now!

But I digress.

Here is my capsule, most of which remains the same as outlined in my previous post.   I have made a few changes.

Summing up my previous post:

My capsule wardrobe does not include shoes, bags, accessories, dance/workout gear, undergarments, or event wear - or extreme cold weather gear (extreme cold weather for me = >30F)

My capsule wardrobe does have to function across a temperature variance,  that usually goes from the high 80's to the low 30's.   For this reason, I have expanded my capsule to 40 items.

My color palette is almost entirely neutral:  Black, White, Olive, Grey, Blush-Pink, and Dark Tan.   

My themes are:   Bond Girl, 007, Safari, Indiana Jones, Cinema Italiano, Fetish, and the aesthetics of Wolford and Agent Provocateur.

Here are my 40 items:

My capsule is comprised of:
3 Leather Jackets (the black can double as a leather blouse or blazer)
3 Other Jackets and Blazers
1 Zip-up Cardigan (doubles as a regular sweater)
1 Short-sleeve jacket (doubles as a top)
1 Leather Vest (doubles as a top)
8 Long-Sleeve Tops
6 Short-Sleeve Tops
3 Sleeveless Tops (The dragon top doubles as a vest)
1 Dress
6 Skirts
6 Pairs of Jeans
1 Pair of Pants

What changed from the previous post?   For starters, I removed the olive bodysuit.   It isn't, and never has been, a stand-alone item.  I plan to wear it underneath other garments that need a cami-type of layer, such as the olive short-sleeve jacket top, or the zip-up cardigan.  

I replaced the olive bodysuit with a creamy white, short-sleeve, mock-neck top.   I plan to use the white long-sleeve shirt from the previous post, as dance/workout wear.

I also removed both pairs of shorts, and replaced them with the white skirt and the white jeans.

I am leaving the olive skirt and the olive skinnies for a future capsule.   

With regards to the pieces I chose, I asked myself the following questions:   Can I make at least three outfits out of each piece?   Does each piece fall in with the themes I list above?   Yes, and yes.

I don't have to ask if I love each piece, because these are all favorites!

When I look at my capsule, I feel very good about my choices.   I think I have covered pretty much every contingency for this fall.   The one exception will be the Florida trip.   If the temperatures are forecast to be over 85F, I plan to pull out some shorts to wear then.  Otherwise, I plan on wearing jeans.

This capsule is not set in stone.  I am giving myself to Labor Day to make any changes.  Still, I'm very happy with what I have here, and I am looking forward to mid-September!

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