Capsule Wardrobe Staple Pieces

As part of my capsule wardrobe experience, I have shared on my Instagram feed a few ideas for capsule wardrobe staple pieces.  And creatively dubbed them #whattowearwednesday.

The key to making a capsule wardrobe work is to find versatile pieces.  Capsule wardrobe staples are a few items of clothing that work for a multitude of purposes.

There are no universal pieces of clothing that work for everyone.  Some fits aren’t right.  Or might not fit your style.

The idea behind #whattowearwednesday is not to say “buy these and wear them”, but rather to showcase how single items can be worn many different ways.

Capsule Wardrobe Staple #1 – Trouser Jeans

Capsule Wardrobe Staple - Trouser Jeans :: maximizingdaysblog.com

 

I have bought into the skinny jean trend hook, line & sinker.  But the trouser jean is a simple way to step up your denim a notch.

Because of my lifestyle as a stay-at-home-mom, I don’t have any dress pants or dresses in my fall capsule, but these jeans do double duty as denim and dress pants.

Trouser jean options: Banana Republic & Old Navy

Capsule Wardrobe Staple #2 – Rubber Rain Boots

Capsule Wardrobe Staple - Hunter Boots :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Hunters.  Rubber rain boots.  Wellies.  Whatever you call them, these are a super versatile piece to a wardrobe.

They’re functional (my jam!) and fashionable (and added bonus).  Stomp in some leaves, jump in the puddles and brave the mud without any worries about cold, damp toes.

Hunters, Uggs rain boots or these cheaper options from Kohl’s.

Capsule Wardrobe Staple #3 – Colored Denim

Capsule Wardrobe Staple - Colored Denim :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Colored denim adds some versatility, but is still just a pair of jeans.  That means pants that are comfy!

They require no more work than blue jeans, but kicks the outfit up a notch.

Adding versatility means that you don’t feel like you’re wearing the same thing everyday – which is key to making fewer items of clothing work for multiple purposes.

There are a multitude of great fall colors from which to choose.

Capsule Wardrobe Staple #4 – Chambray Shirt

Capsule Wardrobe Staple - Chambray Shirt :: maximizingdaysblog.com

The chambray shirt is the peak of versatility.

It can be dressed up or casual.  It’s great for layering or on it’s own.  It’s a neutral, but won’t wash you out.  It adds texture without adding bulk.

This shirt is a weekly staple for me.

Bonus: Choose one that doesn’t require ironing.

This is my chambray shirt.  I’ve also heard people rave about this one.

Capsule Wardrobe Staple #5 – Black Denim

Capsule Wardrobe Staple - Black Denim :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Black Denim – It’s just a pair of jeans.

But when you need something just a tish dressier than regular denim, the black pulls it off.

These are mine.

Capsule Wardrobe Staple #6 – Quilted Puffer Vest

Capsule Wardrobe Staple - Quilted Puffer Vest :: maximizingdaysblog.com

There’s a reason stores keep making these in more and more colors and patterns.  They are perfection.

Take a look at a quilted puffer vest resume:

  • Adds color and/or pattern
  • Not bulky
  • Adds warmth for chilly fall days
  • Camouflages bumpy mid-section
  • Dresses up & down
  • Makes jeans and tee look not so sloppy

Puffer vests became a thing when I was in college, and, thankfully, have stuck around.  Translation: My entire adult life, this has been in my closet.  I hope that never changes.

I have this houndstooth vest & this plaid vest is similar to my navy and green one.  I put this cream one on my Christmas list.  Old Navy has a plethora of color options.

Even if you don’t choose any of these specific pieces, the general rule of making clothing items work for multiple purposes is a great guideline for minimalist living.

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Fall Capsule Wardrobe

How to Create a Fall Capsule Wardrobe - & Lessons Learned from my first capsule experience :: maximizingdaysblog.com

I created a capsule wardrobe this past summer and haven’t looked back.  I learned a lot about myself; about what I thought was important and how my actions were a more accurate representation of what was actually important to me.  There was a lull in my excitement around week 11, but other than that, I drank the kool-aid, jumped on the band wagon and declared myself a capsule wardrobe-er for life.

Then came September, and I just couldn’t make myself do it.  Originally, I had intended for my fall capsule to be for the months of September, October & November.  When September came, it seemed daunting to try to find a wardrobe that worked for temperatures in September in Minnesota and November in Minnesota.  And, this year, September was unseasonably warm.

So, I just kept putting it off.  I’d pulled out my fall and winter clothes and shoved some of them in drawers with my other summer clothes.  As September went on, I found myself wanting to have the capsule there for me, but not wanting to put the work into making the decisions to create it.

By the end of the month, my desire for the outcome outweighed my indecision.  I thought through some of the reasons that I was procrastinating this and remembered why I liked this lifestyle choice and what I had learned the first time.

Lesson Learned #1: Give yourself an adjustment period between seasonal capsules.

I needed a few weeks to have my fall and winter clothes out of storage and in my drawers to choose from while getting dressed to figure out if I wanted to include them or not.  And, frankly, the weather was bi-polar for the month of September, so I needed to wear shorts and a t-shirt on Wednesday and jeans and a hoodie on Thursday.  Narrowing myself to one season of clothes during that month wouldn’t be helpful or the best use of what I have.

Lesson Learned #2: Just because you don’t include it in this season’s capsule doesn’t mean you will never wear it.

When I dug all of my cold-weather gear out of storage, I wanted to include it all.  Over 90% of what I had landed in my ‘LOVE’ pile.  I loved the way I looked and felt in almost all of my clothes, so it felt wasteful to not wear them.  But there were a lot of clothing items that I dug out.

As I’ve mentioned before, there is no hard and fast rule for how many items are included in a capsule wardrobe, but I was looking at upwards of 60 items, and that seemed like it defeated the purpose of the minimalism that I was trying to achieve by creating a capsule wardrobe.    As I was trying to decide what to weed out, I had a lightbulb moment when I remembered that I wasn’t choosing clothes to wear until next June; I was choosing clothes for the next 2-3 months.

I don’t have the same need for wool sweaters in October as I do in February.  There will still be chilly days in October when a fall sweater will be necessary, but there will also be days when cotton t’s and even 3/4 length sweaters are appropriate as well.  My frozen tundra apparel got packed back in the off-season storage and will come out in December or January and be exchanged with the lighter weight sweaters.

Lesson Learned #3: There might not be a wide variety between two seasons of capsule wardrobes.

This is largely dependent on the climate in which you live, and the temperature differences for which you need to account.  My fall and winter capsule wardrobes will look very similar.  I’d guess that over half of the items in my fall wardrobe will be included and winter, and even more so, my spring capsule may very well be a carbon copy of my fall wardrobe because fall and spring temperatures in Minnesota are so similar.

And that’s okay.

When I realized that this was bothering me, I had to remind myself of why I became a capsule-er in the first place; to be intentional about only buying clothing that I love to wear and not accumulating more than I need.

Lesson Learned #4:  Be realistic about what you wear.

I struggled trying to decide what pieces to weed out of my fall capsule because I genuinely loved everything I had.  Then, about two weeks into September, I realized that I was wearing 20% of my wardrobe 80% of the time.

I loved everything hanging in my closet, but a lot of what was in my closet wasn’t realistic for what my day-to-day looked like.  This wasn’t a lesson that was new to me.  I learned it my first go-round, but I had to re-remember it this time.

If I’m honest with myself, I think it’s because I miss the lifestyle that warrants that style of wardrobe and I want to wear some of those pieces more.

I have a few silk blouses that I love.  They look great, and I feel great when I wear them.  But I’m not wearing them on Monday when it’s my day home with the kids and there’s a high likelihood paints and markers will be used.  My lifestyle dictated that I have more cotton long-sleeve t’s and sweatshirts than blouses, but it was hard to admit that.   I didn’t get rid of those items entirely, but I included less of them so that I could include more casual items.

I spend 20% of my days in an office, so approximately 20% of my wardrobe is office-wear.

Lesson Learned #5: Start with shoes, bottoms & layering pieces and go from there:

I found this to be the easiest way to get the ball rolling.  I chose shoes, bottoms and layering pieces and those totaled 25 items.  I had 45 items in my summer capsule and I decided that I could have a few more items in my fall capsule wardrobe (the need for layers in the fall justified this decision for me), but didn’t want to exceed 50 items total.  So, with 25 shoes, bottoms and layering pieces, that meant I could choose 20-25 tops.  That sounded like a lot to me.  Turns out that it was really hard to stay within those parameters.

Again, I didn’t include accessories in my capsule.  This was a non-issue in the summer because I don’t really have summer accessories, but I did consider it for the fall because I own and frequently wear scarves.  I decided not to include scarves because, frankly, there was no way I could include all of the tops and scarves I wanted and still call it a capsule wardrobe.

Maybe that’s cheating, I don’t know.  If you don’t hear from me for a couple weeks, check to make sure that the capsule police haven’t come to arrest me.

Now, after a month of pondering and days of decisions, here is the final product.

My Fall Capsule wardrobe.  A total of 48 pieces.

11 pairs of shoes (23%), 9 bottoms (19%), 5 layering pieces (10%) and 23 tops (48%).

Fall Capsule Wardrobe: Mix t's and 3/4 length shirts with button downs and vests and include lots of layering pieces :: maximizingdaysblog.com

To see photos of daily outfits created from this capsule, follow me on Instagram.

 

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Summer Family Bucket List

Family Bucket Lists became a thing in our home two years ago as a way to be intentional about creating memories with our family.  You can read about it here (but, please, overlook the terrible quality of the photos – I hadn’t yet discovered photo editing).

I learned the valuable lesson to not become overwhelmed by making sure the list got done and thinking of the list as a resource of things to do when we have open days.  It’s a good thing that I learned that lesson because  there were a LOT of items on the Christenson Family Summer 2017 Bucket List that did not get done.

Ideas for this summer’s list started in May.  I had great intentions of making the list all cute and wall-hanging worthy.  But I’m not artsy.  And doing that meant being artsy and, more importantly, carving out the time it would take to make it perfect.  I didn’t use that word.  Perfect.  But that’s what I wanted.  That’s what I was envisioning.  And that’s why the list wasn’t done until the middle of July.  It took me that long to finally admit that I was placing a level of importance on something that I didn’t need to.

The point of making a Family Bucket List is to be intentional about the fun things we want to do together. That’s it.  Not to look perfect doing it.  So I bit the bullet and pulled out two pieces of poster board.  I drew imperfect (and crooked) block letters.  Then I put them on the table and asked the kids to help me color the boards. I then wrote our bucket list items on post-its and the kids and read each one and decided which board each post-it went on.  It took the whole morning.  And it was a blast.  And the kids loved the board.  When they looked at it, they saw something they created and were part of.  When I looked at it, I saw the joy the comes in celebrating all that I have and letting go of what is unattainable.  And crooked, imperfect block letters.

Summer Family Bucket List - maximizingdaysblog.com

We went through the summer and as we crossed items off the list, I took the corresponding post-it, wrote the date it was completed on the back and moved it to the “Nailed It” board.

Summer Family Bucket List - maximizingdaysblog.com

As summer came to a close, it became very apparent that there would be post-it’s left on the “Let’s Do This!” board when summer was over.  And that’s okay.  A few of them can be done in the fall, so they will get moved to next season’s Bucket List.  The others get thrown away.

Summer Family Bucket List - maximizingdaysblog.com

At the end of summer, I took the dated post-its off of the “Nailed It!” board and put them in our photos/keepsakes box as a reference for when I make our family album for the year.  I don’t have photos of all of the events, but having the dates on the post-its will help my old brain remember when we did each activity.

We have since created our Christenson Family Fall 2017 Bucket List and it’s a blank slate.  It’s also the nearing the end of September and there isn’t a single post-it that has moved from the “Let’s Do This!” board to the “Nailed It!” board.  But that’s okay……

Fall Family Bucket List - maximizingdaysblog.com

Summer Family Bucket List - maximizingdaysblog.com

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Experiences Over Stuff

Valuing Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

My daughter turned 4 on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend.  We had plans to be in the Twin Cities for the weekend for our annual pilgrimage to the Great Minnesota Get Together – the Minnesota State Fair.  As my husband and I were talking about the trip, I suggested that we stay the night in the cities on Friday and go to the Minnesota Zoo on Saturday to celebrate E’s birthday.

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

We had been to the Minnesota Zoo one other time – a little over two years before when she was almost two and I was 17 1/2 months pregnant (not really, it just felt like it).  We enjoyed our time, but didn’t have a huge desire to go back.  For the last three years, we have purchased a family pass to a much smaller zoo (Chahinkapa Zoo) about 20 miles away.  During the summer months, the kids and I go once a week and they love it.  It is your quintessential small-town zoo.  It is small and not especially pretty.  However, they have an amazing amount of awesome animals for a zoo their size.  Our favorite are the tigers, monkeys, orangutan, snow leopards, grizzly bears, bison, camels & cougars.  Being accustomed to Chahinkapa made us compare the Minnesota Zoo as we walked through and we were left feeling like it was so spread out and E got bored because there was so much time between each exhibit.

Although I remember not being especially impressed with the Minnesota Zoo, I thought it would be fun to go back and try it again.  Because of our annual zoo membership, we were able to get our admission tickets for half price, which made it affordable.

When Josh and I talked about spending E’s birthday at the zoo, we decided that that would be her birthday gift.

We’ve talked about getting to a place with our kids where gift giving is more focused on experiences than stuff, but when they were really little, that was hard.  It’s still not a concept that our four year-old completely comprehends, but she’s old enough to understand that she already has a lot of toys and it is a gift for our family to be able to do fun things.

When we told her that we were going to the cities for the weekend, we explained that we would spend her special day at the zoo and told her all of the fun things there are to do there (in addition to regular zoo animals, they have an aquarium, two big parks, a petting zoo and a splash pad) and that the focus of her day would be doing fun things together, learning and enjoying time with our family.  She probably didn’t hear anything after splash pad, but we ere on the side of creating a habit of explaining why we do what we do.

We weren’t in the zoo more than ten minutes when I looked at my husband and said “I love this experiences over stuff thing.”  Our kids had the BEST day.  Everything that I remembered from two years ago went out the window.  The time between animals was spent talking about what they just saw, thinking about what it would be like to be that animal, singing songs and running.  (I apologize to all other families who had to share the zoo with us that day.  I’m sure we were loud and obnoxious to watch).

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

I don’t know if E will remember this day.  One of her nicknames is “Steel Trap” because she remembers stuff that astonishes us on a daily basis, so we’ve got that going for us.  But I know that she won’t miss the toys that we would have bought her instead of (or in addition to) this day.  She received a few (awesome!) presents from family and we are not at a loss of activities for the kids to do around the house.

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

She was celebrated for a whole day.  Our family is better because she’s in it and because of these days.  These shared experiences weave together with all of the other memories to create a family culture where we not only love each other, but really like being with each other.  That’s (relatively) easy when our kids are four and two.  But I know enough to know that that gets harder as they get older.  So, my hope is that by creating these traditions now, we lay a foundation where we don’t place too high of a value on getting new or more stuff, but rather on learning and exploring and experiencing things together.

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

Sidenote: The above picture is a great example of getting over yourself.  A very kind stranger offered to take it for us, and I didn’t want to be the person who looked at it and said “That is the worst angle on me.  I look terrible.  Could you please take time out of your day with your family to indulge my vanity?”  So, instead, I said ‘Thank You’ and cringed on the inside – I hope.  When I look at this picture, I have to remind myself to see my beautiful family on my daughter’s 4th birthday, not an angle that makes me look approximately 40 pounds heavier than I am – I hope.

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Capsule Wardrobe Update

Tomorrow marks the eleven week anniversary of starting my summer capsule wardrobe.  Today is the 66th outfit comprised of the 45 pieces that I chose in early June.  I post my daily outfits on Instagram where you can see, in detail, what living the capsule life has looked like these last eleven weeks.

For the first 6 weeks, it was a honeymoon.  It was new and exciting and I really did love it.  There was no going back.  I was already thinking about my fall capsule.

Did it achieve what you wanted it wanted it to?

My goals in creating a capsule wardrobe were simple: I wanted to be excited about wearing any of my options, I wanted to feel good in everything that I wore and I wanted it to be minimalistic.  Once I decided to commit to the capsule lifestyle, I also decided that I wanted to use this as a tool to try to encourage myself to wear clothes that I wouldn’t normally, such as dresses.

I achieved all three goals – for the first six weeks.  By week seven, I was no longer excited by what I saw in my closet.  I was bored.  Now, it’s mid-August and I am really bored.  But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I think that would be true of my summer wardrobe whether I had done a capsule or not.  And I don’t believe that boredom is a good reason to accumulate more stuff.  This whole experience has been a great lesson for me in contentment.

I was more intentional about trying to switch things up so that I wasn’t wearing the same outfit repeatedly.  Which led to making combinations that I wouldn’t have done without my capsule.  That felt like a win to me because even though I was wearing the same items, it didn’t feel as repetitive.

What I've learned from my summer capsule wardrobe - maximizingdaysblog.comWhat have you learned?

I don’t wear dresses.  Even when I only have 45 items in my closet from which to choose, and a quarter of those items are shoes, I still don’t choose a dress to wear.  I really like both of them that I have, but not enough to pull them off the hanger and wear them.  I don’t know why.  I can’t explain it.  I just know that when I’m standing in front of my closet trying to decide what to wear, and I see those dresses, my first thought is always “Nahhhh……”

What I've learned from my summer capsule wardrobe - maximizingdaysblog.com

What would you do differently?

I would include less “off-season” items, and by that I mean the items that I included for what I consider to be cold summer days.  I included a jean jacket, cardigan, 2 – 3/4 sleeve tops and 3 long-sleeve tops.  I get very warm very easily, so it takes serious temperature drops for me to wear anything more than a t-shirt on my arms in the summer.  I have worn each of those “warmer” items a handful of times, but I know that if I would have 3 of those items instead of all 7 that I would have been just fine.  And I would have enjoyed having 4 more t-shirts or tank tops that would have been worn more than those long-sleeved options have been.

Through 52 days I’ve worn each of the 7 cooler weather items once.

What I've learned from my summer capsule wardrobe - maximizingdaysblog.com

Will you do a fall capsule?

If you would have asked me eleven weeks ago, I would have excitedly said “YESSS!”  While I don’t have that same level of enthusiasm now, I am going to try this again in the fall.  I’m wary of trying to choose a wardrobe that works as well on Labor Day as it does on Thanksgiving.  Theoretically, my fall capsule wardrobe would be for September, October & November, but the weather change from the beginning of September to the end of November in Minnesota is drastic.  I’m not sure how to make it so that I have what I need for that weather range, but also don’t feel like I’m including items that will only be worn a few times.

For instance, I like to wear shorts until the first or even second week in September.  For all of you who don’t live in the frozen tundra, that may seem obvious, but it’s a little bit of a stretch here.  I am stubborn, however, and insist that shorts season should go into September.  So, the question becomes, do I include one or two pair of shorts in a fall capsule that will, realistically, only be worn  handful of times?  I’ve thought that I could just not include them and break the rules and bust them out for the 4 or 5 times in the short window of time where my wanting to wear shorts overlaps with the starting of my fall capsule.

Which lead me to start thinking about whether I really need a definitive capsule wardrobe to achieve my goals.  Couldn’t I achieve the same thing by just super-minimalizing what I have in my closet and drawers?

I believe that the answer is yes.  But, for me, and I would presume a lot of other people,the self-imposed constraints of the capsule wardrobe give me parameters in which to work to give a framework to that desired minimalism.  Creating the capsule wardrobe is the means by which I draw the line for what I want my minimalism to look like.  It’s a way to hold myself accountable.  Not everyone needs that framework, but I’m discovering that I do.

If I had it to do all over again, this is what my summer capsule would look like:

What I've learned from my summer capsule wardrobe - maximizingdaysblog.com

Who’s with me on the fall capsule?  Let’s do this together!

 

What I've learned from my summer capsule wardrobe - maximizingdaysblog.com

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