Capsule Wardrobe – What & Why

I’ve mentioned in a recent post about my considering implementing a capsule wardrobe.  If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I made the plunge.  Two weeks into living the capsule life, and I am a big fan.  I’ve had a few people ask questions about what a capsule wardrobe is and how I did it, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to share my experience here.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

According to Wikipedia, a capsule wardrobe is “a minimal wardrobe composed of 30 to 40 high-quality, versatile items that will meet your needs for a given time amount of time.”  I’d say that the 30-40 number is flexible and that the level of quality of pieces isn’t a make or break deal.  The jist is a capsule wardrobe is a limited number of clothing items that you choose for a season, and in that season, every outfit that you wear is made up of the items in your capsule.

How many items can you have in a capsule wardrobe?

There’s no hard and fast rule on this.  The 30-40 item rule seems to be generally accepted.  It’s a good number that allows you to have everything you need, but also keep things minimal, which is the goal of the capsule wardrobe.

What items are and are not included in the capsule?

Again, this is a spirit of the law kind of thing.  To achieve your capsule wardrobe goals, you should, at the very least include tops, bottoms & shoes.  It does not include undergarments (underwear, bras, camisoles), pajamas, swimwear or work out clothes.

The jury is out on whether it includes accessories such as hats, scarves and jewelry and seasonal gear (i.e. winter coats & boots).  Use your discretion on whether or not you need to include yours.  I didn’t include accessories, mostly because I don’t wear very many of them and, therefore, don’t own a lot of them.  I didn’t have to think about seasonal gear because it’s summer.  I’m not sure what I’ll do in the winter.

For how long does this last?

Your capsule is for one season.  The idea being that you make your wardrobe work for the weather in which you live.  For Minnesota, I broke it up as follows: Winter is December, January & February; Spring is March, April & May; Summer is June; July & August; Autumn is September, October & November.

Does doing a capsule wardrobe mean giving up clothes shopping completely?

Once your capsule is set up, there is no shopping.  Some things I read suggested giving yourself the first week to find gaps in that timeframe and shop to fill them.  This may or may not be necessary.  I had done a little bit of shopping for summer clothes  shortly before I did my capsule, so this was an unnecessary step for me.

I will say this.  I won’t shop for summer clothes because I know that I don’t need them.  After establishing my summer capsule, I know that I have everything that I need for a summer wardrobe, so accumulating more clothes and spending more money are necessary at this time.

Do all of the pieces in your capsule wardrobe have to coordinate?

Mine don’t.  The reason that this is suggested by many capsule-ers is that it makes pieces more versatile.  You can mix and match a lot more when everything in your closet is of the same color palette.  When I went through my closet to decide what would go in my capsule and what wouldn’t, there was a rainbow of colors.  However, there were also enough neutral pieces that I had multiple options with each item.  It seemed silly to me to try to stick with a palette, which would require buying more clothes when I had enough clothes for the summer.

I can see where two months into a capsule, having coordinating pieces could be beneficial because the mixing and matching that it allows wouldn’t make you feel like you wear the same outfit all of the time.  I’ll let you know where I’m at with that in August.

What’s the appeal?

That’s a lot of don’t’s, can’t’s and no’s.  Why would anyone want to do this?

This is different for everyone.  For me, I was drawn to the idea because of it’s simplicity.  I don’t have a ton of clothes.  I don’t buy a lot of clothes and I purge my closet frequently, so my closet isn’t busting at the seams with clothes that I don’t like or don’t wear.  That being said, I was in a weird wardrobe spot this summer.

Last summer, my son was 8-10 months old and nursing.  As a result of nursing him, I had lost a significant amount of weight and had to buy an all-new wardrobe because barely any of my previous summer clothes fit.  (If you’re rolling your eyes and annoyed at me, just wait.  Keep reading.) I donated most of my old clothes because 1) I don’t keep things I don’t wear and 2) I thought there was no way that I would need those clothes again. After losing 25 pounds, i thought that I would never let myself gain the weight back. …Can you see where this story is going?… I stopped nursing in November of 2016 and some of the weight has come back.  Enough of it that the new clothes I bought last summer don’t really fit.  The idea of sifting through the drawers of clothes to try to find something that I didn’t feel like failure in was daunting.  I found myself showering in the morning and dreading having to go into my room and try to find an outfit.

I also liked the idea that if I limited my options, I would be more prone to wear the clothes that I wished I would wear, but rarely put on.  As I perused through capsule wardrobes on Pinterest (there are TONS), I was inspired by how many of them included a few dresses, tailored pants & jackets. I own all of those things, but consider them “special” and don’t wear them often.  I knew that if they were part of a much more limited wardrobe, I would wear them more out of necessity.

That being said, I am a stay at home mom.  Most of the capsule examples that I found on Pinterest were way too fancy for my day-to-day.  I made sure to include athleisure pieces because they are staples of my wardrobe.  However, I also included 3 cotton dresses that could easily be worn for my days running around with my kids, but that I don’t normally gravitate toward when given more options.  I’d like to start wearing those things that I like more, and my hope is that the capsule wardrobe helps me to do that.

What do you think so far?

I love it.  I no longer dread getting dressed in the morning.  I’ll go into more detail later about how I created my capsule and what’s included in it, but one of the best parts for me is that I truly love everything in my closet.  The only items that I have to choose from each day are the pieces that I love the most.  I open my closet doors in the morning and feel like I have so much good stuff from which to choose.

Will you do this forever?

I don’t know.  Right now, I’m just focused on sticking to my summer capsule.  The way things are going now, I’d imagine that I will do it again in the fall.  I think I will just take it season by season and as long it’s beneficial, I will keep doing it.

To see pictures of daily outfits, follow me on Instagram.  Stay tuned for details on the items that I included in my capsule and why.

Capsule Wardrobe - What is it? What are the rules? How do I do it? Is it worth it? - maximizingdaysblog.com

Trouble Spots: Refrigerator

My former boss used to say that “work expands to the time allowed”, meaning that however long you have to complete a task is how long it will take you.  As is true with most of his mantras, I have found this concept to be true – and applicable to more than just work.  One example being refrigerators.  Food will expand to the space available in your fridge.  Think about it.  Have you ever seen a fridge that had large, empty space?  I haven’t.  And while I’ve come close, I’ve also never seen a fridge that couldn’t be shut because it was too full.  Whatever space we have, gets filled.  Bottom line.

That being said, when we were remodeling our kitchen and searching for a fridge, I started with the biggest models and worked my way down.  We had the advantage of working with a blank slate, meaning that we didn’t have a pre-determined space in which it had to fit.  That was pretty awesome.  We have the Kenmore Elite 29.8 cubic foot (!!!!) French Door refrigerator.  I fell in love with it when I saw it on the showroom floor.  My husband looked at the price tag and then told me to keep walking.  We ended up in the clearance section where we spotted the same fridge that had been returned to the store because it had numerous dings on the front.  Josh and I talked about it and decided that sacrificing the aesthetics of a non-dinged fridge to get the size and features we were looking for at a fraction of the cost was worth it.

We love it.  I see the dings every day and think “I don’t care.  I love the inside too much to care about the outside.”

And I fill all 29.8 cubic feet.  Looking at it empty on a showroom floor, I never thought I would.  But I do.  Every week.

A few weeks ago, it got to the point where I was approaching not being able to shut the doors, which meant that it was time to pull everything out and do some re-evaluating of where stuff went.

How to Organize your fridge - maximizingdaysblog.com

I found this infographic on Pinterest a few years ago and, generally, try to stick to these principles when deciding where items will go in our fridge.

How to Organize your fridge - maximizingdaysblog.com

My problem didn’t originate with throwing stuff in there haphazardly. What got me in trouble was not using the (plentiful) space I had well, which led to haphardly stuffing things in there because I didn’t have a better spot for them.

How to Organize your fridge - maximizingdaysblog.com

This was the whole sad state of affairs

How to Organize your fridge - maximizingdaysblog.com

Some fridges are made to fit gallons of milk perfectly in the doors, but that is one of the warmest spaces in the fridge, which can cause milk to spoil easily.  Also, the shelves on the inside of the refrigerator doors serve as built-in containers and, from an organizing standpoint, are the perfect way to corral small items such as dressings and condiments.  Milk isn’t any harder to grab from the inside of the fridge than it is out of the door, but you can’t say that about a bottle of ketchup.

I also didn’t need to do anything with the meat and cheese drawer.  You can see how that’s organized here.

I knew that I wasn’t going to dramatically change what was in the crisper drawers or the doors, so I emptied the rest of the fridge and cleaned it out.  That is a LOT of space.  How was that ever full?!

How to Organize your fridge - maximizingdaysblog.com

Then, it was just a matter of figuring out what worked (Milk on the lower shelf, leftovers on the top, yogurt in the middle) and what didn’t (overfull fruit & veggie drawers, not fully utilizing top shelf space & containers).

When it was all said and done – Ta Da!

How to Organize your fridge - maximizingdaysblog.com

 

How to Organize your fridge - maximizingdaysblog.com

Here’s what I did that made such a big difference:

  1. I had way more fruits and vegetables than I had space for in the two crisper drawers.  I used to cut up fruits and veggies when I got home from the grocery store, but had got out of the habit. Any of those that needed cutting up or were good grab and go snacks got put in containers in the new fruits & veggies section.  I cannot say enough about the value of uniform containers in maximizing fridge space.  It allows them to stack easily, which utilizes the vertical space you have.  For any food that doesn’t get reheated, we use these plastic containers.  Now the drawers have fruits that don’t need anything done to them (i.e. blueberries) or are surplus and vegetables that are for supper and will be prepped when I make that meal.  We are so much more apt to grab a container from this shelf and snack on these than we are to open a drawer, pull out a veggie, cut or peel it and then  eat it.  It’s really quite lazy, but it’s true.
  2. Extras that didn’t need to be accessed, such as eggs and yogurt, got put in the very back.  This is how you utilize the depth of the fridge.  Don’t put stuff back there that you need to get to, but use it as surplus storage.
  3. The miscellaneous dairy products that were only using half of a bin, but an entire shelf got redistributed to spots that fit their containers.  I pulled a fridge bin that I had in storage out and it now holds any dairy products that were too wide for the shelves in the door.
  4. Individual yogurts got put in the bin where they are now corralled.
  5. I took care of stuff that needed to be taken care of.  The chicken breasts got put in freezer bags and put in our deep freezer.  Old leftovers were tossed.  Leftovers that were in containers that weren’t ours got taken out and put in our containers so that they stacked nicely to maximize that space.  We use these glass containers for our leftovers and cannot say enough about them.

How to Organize your fridge - maximizingdaysblog.com

None of these are huge tasks.  None of it required an organizing degree (if there were such a thing…..).  Nothing needed to be purchased.  The entire project took me less than thirty minutes, and the payoff was huge.

How to Organize your fridge - maximizingdaysblog.com

What do you find is the hardest part about keeping order in your fridge?

Spring “Momiform”

It may be the first official day of summer, but here in Minnesota, it’s still quite chilly.  I caved and pulled my slippers out of hiding yesterday.  Warmer temps are promised by the end of the week, but for at least a few more days, I’m sporting my spring #momiform.  (I swore I made up the word momiform, and was really proud of my creativity.  I’m devastated to learn that this is not the case.)  As I’ve mentioned before, my stay-at-home mom wardrobe falls under these three categories 1) Practical, 2) Comfortable & 3) Simple.  I’d like to think that the fourth adjective isn’t frumpy or boring, but if I’m honest, I’m probably approaching that area.

I am seriously considering doing a capsule wardrobe.  Have you tried this?  What are your thoughts?

My spring momiform fits all three of my criteria and is my go-to outfit for my days when I’m leaving the house.  The splash of color from the scarf makes me feel like I’m not boring in a t-shirt and jeans.  I may be kidding myself.  I can go for walks with my kids, play at the park, run errands, and do kid yoga (this is a new favorite activity in our home) very comfortably in this outfit.

But there’s something about pants with a waistband, leather ballet flats and a scarf that make me feel better and more put together than if I were wearing leggings, a hoodie and tennis shoes.

Do you feel like you wear the same thing everyday?  Do you like the simplicity or do you wish you had some more variety?  I go back and forth.

one, two, three, four

 

Trouble Spots: Under the Kitchen Sink

A couple weeks ago, my sister-in-law texted me a picture of Mrs. Meyers Vinegar Gel and asked me if I had used it before.  I use my Norwex rags for almost all of my cleaning, but if I use a cleaning product, it is almost exclusively Mrs. Meyers., which was why my SIL asked me about it.  I told her that I hadn’t ever seen it or used it.

She then proceeded to ask me if I ever used vinegar to clean and what I used for certain cleaning tasks.  I told her that I’ve been meaning to use vinegar for a long time, but have never actually done it.  At this point, I got lazy and didn’t want to text a list  of what I use for each task, so I decided to take a video of under my kitchen sink where my cleaning supplies are housed.

Disclaimer: This is, in no way, a professional video.  I thought that my SIL would be the only person to see it, but once it was done, I decided that I had to show it to you to prove a point.

I am very intentional about not accumulating things, not buying stuff we don’t need, getting rid of things we don’t use – and this still happens.  ALL THE TIME.  It’s a good reminder that organizing and minimizing and decluttering is an on-going project.  And that no one does it perfectly.

As you can see from the video, we don’t have a lot of cleaning products, but what we do have makes up the majority of what we keep under our kitchen sink.  I consider this space to be “unfinished” in that I would still like to do more to leverage some of the vertical space that is currently unused.  But, for now, it works for us, so I don’t have a lot of urgency in crossing that task off of my eternally long to-do list.

What do you put there?

What makes this space a trouble spot for everyone is that the plumbing makes it awkward.  It’s tall and deep, but the pipes through the middle of it and gigantic garbage disposal make it hard to leverage those two assets.  As you can see, we use this space for dishwasher pods (our dishwasher is adjacent to this cabinet), Cleaning supplies & dish rags.  The majority of what is housed in this space is used in close proximity to here.  The exception being the Mrs. Meyers Vinegar Gel.  🙂

Where do you start?

The best way to maximize this space is to locate where you have the biggest chunk(s) of open space.  In the case of our cabinet, it is between the wall & disposal and between the pipe and wall.  These are unobstructed rectangles, which is storage perfection.

I bought this two-tiered drawer organizer (similar) knowing that I’d use it in this space, but not sure what I’d put in there.  It fits perfectly between the pipe and the wall.  I couldn’t put the drawers up against the wall because I needed to be able to pull them out and the cabinet door is in the way, so it sits in an inch or two in.  Our most used supplies, dish soap, cleaning wipes and sponges, are housed in the front of the top drawer.  The back of the top drawer holds our other less-used cleaning supplies.

The bottom drawer is the perfect spot for dish rags.  One of my favorite features of this particular organizer are the adjustable dividers which allow you to use every inch of each drawer.

After putting the drawers in, I moved over to the other big chunk of space and looked to see what the next tallest item is.  At least six years ago, a friend moved out of his house and had Swiffer wet mop and dry mop refills that he wouldn’t use.  I took them thinking that I could find a use for them.  You can see how that went.  The wet mop pads are used more than the dry, so they served as a step stool for the dishwasher pods, which are accessed daily.  The dry mop refills are all the way in the back.  I don’t know why…. As I’m typing this, I’m thinking that I should just throw them.  Six years, people.  It’s been six years and one of the boxes remains unopened.

What about the pipes?

Think of maximizing this space like doing a puzzle.  Match the spaces you have with the items that need to go in there.  Originally, I had put our dish drying mat between the drawers & wall, but it was awkward reaching around the side of the drawers to pull it out and it almost always got stuck on the cabinet door hinges.  The pipe that runs almost all of the way to the bottom of the cabinet created the perfect wall on the other side of the drawers to hold the mat.  This would be otherwise wasted space, so getting that to fit made me feel like I hit the jackpot.

I put lemons in my disposal at least once a week, so I threw those in a Rubbermaid leftover container and put them at the front of the cabinet.

At this point, I took the random hodge lodge of what was left and put it in a shoebox container, which fit between the pipe & the mop pads.  The trick to this part is that the disposal is low enough that nothing tall can fit in the back of the container.  We have a plastic bag holder attached to the cabinet door that, when shut, takes up space at the front of the cabinet, so the shoebox had to sit back a little bit.  This took some maneauvering of what went where and it’s not pretty, but everything is easily accessible.  And, most importantly, what needs to be accessed most is very easily accessible.

 

I considered getting rid of one of the bottles of vinegar, but didn’t pull the trigger.  Do you clean with vinegar?  What do you clean with it?  How do you use it?

Day 1 in my Tieks

My husband went above and beyond with my Mother’s Day gift this year.

He asked for a list of ideas a few weeks before and I and included Tieks ballet flats on there, not really thinking that he’d actually get them.  I was quite surprised when I opened the package to find that iconic blue box.

I had heard of Tieks a few years ago and had the same thought that I think every person does when they see them – “Are they really worth it?!”  At $175 a pop (!!!!$$$$$), they better fit like a glove and not have a single flaw.

First, let me say this.  They are expensive.  Let’s just get that out there.  That is A LOT of money to spend on a pair of shoes.  And more than I would normally spend on a pair of shoes.  Or both of my children’s entire summer wardrobes. Combined.

That being said, I believe in investing in a few high-quality items that you love versus many lower-quality items that you don’t like as much.  And, if they’re as great as everyone says they are, then I’d argue that they’re worth their prime price tag.

What’s all the hullabaloo about?

Let’s start with why they were appealing to me.  As a stay-at-home mom, I spend a lot of time on my feet.  This has become increasingly apparent to me since owning a FitBit.  According to it, I average 4-5 miles a day, and when I started to think about it that way, I felt like it was time adult-up and get some real shoes that take care of my feet and my (aging) body.  Gone are the days of the $3 Old Navy flip flops.

I wanted a shoe that had good support, but I’m not quite ready to wear tennis shoes every day.  Or orthotics.  I wanted the feel of a Grandma shoe, but the look of a hip Mom shoe.  From the looks of the shoe and the sounds of the reviews I read and heard, Tieks fit the bill.  Some people describe them as “super stylish”.  Now, I’m no fashion editor, but I think that’s stretching it a bit.  They are classic and simple.  Which is exactly what was appealing to me.  I can wear them and feel put together, but they’re practical for running around my house and town all day.  No fuss.

My husband doesn’t do wrapping paper or gift bags, so he handed me the small white box in which they were mailed and said “Happy Mother’s Day”.  I opened the outer packaging to find a small blue box and a bright yellow flower on it.  The flower was a little much for me.  I’ve read that some people use them as headbands for their daughter.  I’m not going to do that.  But if that sounds appealing to you, let me know and the first person who asks can have it.

The Tieks were folded in half with one tucked into the other.  Josh was skeptical.  His exact sentiment was “how can something that can be folded like that have any support?!”  I didn’t have an answer, but I took them out and promptly put them on.

How do they fit?

Obviously, everyone’s feet are different, so how they fit is going to be dependent on each person’s foot.  I have extremely high arches, which makes any kind of flat hard for my feet.  I bought some Cole Haan flats (similar) on clearance 2 1/2 years ago, and they were better for my arches than any of the other $10 flats I had previously owned.  The Tieks put those Cole Haan flats to shame.  The best way that I can describe the comfort as far as support goes is that it feels like a tennis shoe, but doesn’t look like one.  #win

What about socks?

Josh and I sat on the couch and watched Netflix for almost half an hour and I didn’t take the shoes off.  I just didn’t think to.  As we were shutting off the TV, I realized that I still had them on, which is notable because I have never, in my life, worn a pair of shoes for more than three minutes without socks.  I can’t do it.  I have the sweatiest, clammiest feet, and no socks is just not an option for me.  I don’t know what it is about Tieks, but my feet could breathe in them.  And not just enough that I could tolerate going sock-commando, but so much so that I didn’t even realize that I was wearing shoes with no socks.

I cannot overstate what  game changer this is for me.  I wore my Tieks the entire next day (11,000 steps and 4.5 miles, according to FitBit) with no socks, and at no point were my feet clammy.  That, in and of itself, is reason enough to only wear these shoes for all of my days.

So…….are they worth it?

Day 1 in my Tieks was a typical Thursday around these parts.  At home in the morning with the kids, cleaning and playing.  I ran errands Thursday afternoon, and then the kids and I went on a short walk to my in-laws’ house for my mother-in-law’s birthday.  These flats were so comfortable that I forgot I was wearing them.  I’d catch a glance of them throughout the day and think “Oh, yeah!  I forgot I got new shoes!”.

VERDICT:  Tieks are the quintessential Mom-shoe.  And I mean that in the best way.  They have all the practicality that a mom on-the-go needs, but they’re not frumpy.  After one day, I give them a resounding Thumbs Up!  I may review them six months down the road to see how they hold up.

What do you think?  What’s appealing about Tieks to you?  Is the price the biggest drawback?

 

A note about sizing: Tieks don’t come in half sizes, and they suggest that you size down.  I normally wear an 8 1/2, so Josh ordered and 8 per their suggestion.  My toes go right to the edge with little room to spare, which makes me nervous, but after wearing them all day, they didn’t feel too small.  I’m guessing that they also stretch slightly because of the leather, so that’s probably why they suggest to order a size smaller if you’re a 1/2.  And a ballet flat that’s too big wouldn’t work.