While capsule wardrobes promise to simplify the process of getting dressed, I struggled at first to put together outfits that I liked.
I think this is because I am sort of an obligate layer-er: in order to be comfortably warm during the cooler seasons of the year I almost always need to be wearing a long-sleeved top with a long-sleeved sweater over it. Sometimes the necklines or hemlines of these layers don't combine well, plus there is the comfort factor of one set of sleeves underneath another to contend with. So it has taken some trial and error to figure out which combinations of the tops and sweaters in my capsule are feasible. I've come to the conclusion that while it's easy to create mix-and-match collages of clothes on a computer screen, "everything goes with everything else" isn't a realistic goal in real life.
That said, a well-chosen set of items does have tons of mix-and-match potential, so here's a week's worth of outfits that I've really enjoyed wearing.
|tan clogs | medium-wash skinny jeans | fuchsia scoopneck sweater | ivory Aran cardi|
agate ring | abalone ring | garnet earrings | teacup-print scarf (worn in hair)
I love the way this abalone ring looks against my burgundy and fuchsia items.
|black dressy tall boots | black opaque tights | black jersey dress | fair isle cardi|
black enamel and silver bangle | agate ring | blue stone earrings
This cardi is admittedly difficult to mix and match, but I do love it so.
Items Not Yet Worn
I don't have much to say about this, I just thought it might be useful to record which items in my capsule are the last ones I reach for, and start to think about why.
|gray/black/pink rose-print dress | black maxi skirt | black cashmere tee | black Aran cardi|
ballet-pink cardi | gray shawl-collar pullover | blue and rose floral shawl
Here's what I removed from my capsule this month and why.
Black and white plaid pinafore: This top has elastic along the neckline and shoulders which has lost its stretch, rendering it pretty dumpy looking at this point. And it was never very versatile to begin with.
Black faux-wrap pullover: In theory, effortless and apres-ballet-chic. In practice, just plain fussy with all the tops I tried underneath it, and gapes unflatteringly.
Ivory short-sleeve sweater: At some point I had convinced myself that this was oversized in a funky way, but it is really just bulky. Also it has slightly puffed sleeves, which aren't flattering to my broad shoulders.
Blue-gray lace pullover: I love the color and the lacy knit, but the cut makes my torso look like a short, squat rectangle.
Silver and faux-pearl bracelet: This was my grandmother's, but it's not really my style. It is retro in a Mad Men kind of way, whereas I am more Call the Midwife.
Brooch with thistle and bee; brooch with watercolor landscape: I still like these items so I'm not removing them from my jewelry box -- just from my capsule, because I realize now that they don't really "fit" the overall look.
Here's what I added to my capsule this month and why.
Gray scoopneck layering sweater: Cashmere Cache, via Ebay.
You could say that this replaces the gray turtleneck that I got rid of this month, swapping out the frump for a top in a similar color with a neckline that I much prefer.
Sky blue cardi: Nieman Marcus, via Ebay.
I realize that these mosaic pictures make this look like a duplicate of the medium-blue cardi already in my capsule, but the color is quite different as is the cut (this one is fitted and a bit cropped; the other is longer and straight). I know. I sound like I'm rationalizing, even to myself.
Onyx and pearl earrings: via Ebay.
These are not so much an addition as a replacement for a long- and much-loved pair of onyx and pearl earrings, one of which I lost on New Year's Eve. Sob.
Russian silver earrings: vintage, via Etsy.
I wanted a pair of silver earrings that would have more presence than my thin silver hoops. One of the real benefits of this approach that I can already see is the aesthetic clarity it brings to purchasing decisions. Yes, my jewelry box was lacking a pair of plain silver earrings, but there are hundreds of such earrings out there; how to figure out which ones I should add to my wardrobe? Riffing on the idea of the landscape I'm channeling with this capsule, I started thinking about the lands of winter birch forests -- Russia, Scandinavia. I could see assembling just a handful of old but not too precious jewelry pieces from these areas -- together with a few distinctive items like my fair isle cardi and photo-print scarf these could define the look and feel of my winter wardrobe, which would also contain many basic pieces (gray scoopneck layering sweater, medium-wash skinny jeans) that carry over from season to season.
Norwegian silver pendant: vintage, via Ebay.
I have a couple of tiny gold pendants that I wear a lot, but I think silver fits better with the palette of this capsule. This was a mateless screwback earring that I got for a song, and converted to a pendant. Also, see earrings discussion above!
Braided metal bracelet: husband's grandmother.
This is not new to my jewelry box but I didn't initially include it in my capsule because it is gold. I added it because my black enamel and silver bracelet didn't look right with my recycled-metal necklace. This bracelet is a pretty soft or muted tone of gold, so it still blends well with the silver items in this capsule.
For the record, yes, I do feel rather sheepish that so far I've added nearly as many items to my capsule as I've taken away. I would say that in general I have really enjoyed wearing this capsule, but I sometimes feel frustrated by fussing with it. Of course, this is exactly why people do the work of defining their capsule up front and then just get on with the wearing of it. I keep reminding myself that hopefully, this is my up front -- just a longer, more experimental version of it.
For more about my approach to capsule wardrobes in general, go here.
For details on the items in this capsule, go here.