Half-way: Days 4-6, Winter 10×10

Weekends! Who doesn’t love the weekend? The house is full of people on the weekend, and it’s not the easiest to get any pictures, so Sunday is quite light with only one picture. My daughter, The Chick, did take some pictures for me though, both outdoor and indoor shots. A mini budding photographer!

Outfit 4:

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I love this dress! It’s ethically made from PeopleTree, and has pockets. It’s also very comfortable and warm. I sat at the bus stop unsheltered for 30 minutes on Friday (with a coat, obviously), but I wasn’t cold at all, which was surprising since it was about 35 degrees. I don’t ‘love’ the way the scarf looks, but I can never figure out tying them. Something goes inherently wrong every.time. I talked about the boots in my previous post. They will be replaced. asap.

Outfit details: dress, PeopleTree; boots, Sonoma (old); scarf, Nordstrom (old); hobo bag, Tommy Hilfiger.

Day 5: I had two looks for day 5. In the morning my daughter had a dentist appointment (and the office is always overheated), but after lunch we went out to Kew Gardens because cold or not sometimes you just need to get out of the house. I added a sweatshirt and changed to trainers because it was wet/muddy. It wasn’t super cold, and the gardens were busy people who had the same idea we did. My daughter took the outdoor pictures.

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For the first time using the big camera, she did pretty good! I cropped these quite a bit, but Chick certainly enjoyed playing photographer. And she works cheap. I paid her in a hot chocolate with marshmallows from Nero. (Coat & hat: Eddie Bauer, old;  you can find the rest of my outfit details in my previous posts from Winter10x10)

My Kew membership expires at the end of April, and I am seriously debating paying the £79 to renew it even though we will only be here through the end of June. I really do go that often because it is such a relaxing place (and so big, you can easily move deep into the gardens and be all by yourself with the squirrels!) Now that I have found a place to be in nature (which has always been my favorite place), I’m looking forward to visiting Bellevue Botanical Garden, which I just discovered online the other day. Even though we live in the suburbs in Seattle and there are fabulous walking trails through the trees (literally) steps from my door, I do enjoy seeing all the flowers. Maybe it’s because I can’t keep flowers alive, so I visit those who can.

Day 6: Sunday I spent the morning cleaning bathrooms, doing laundry, changing linens; always a fun way to spend a Sunday. I added wellies for a trip to the grocery as it was raining elephants. All you need to survive in England are wellies and a good mac. Maybe a brolly or two. It’s a simple phone snap by the Chick. Sometimes uncomplicated is good. I did ‘cheat’ by pulling on leggings from White Stuff instead of jeans, and wellies instead of trainers.

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The boots are from Hunter but I have to say, they won’t be staying. While excellent quality, they give me a terrible blister on my heel even just walking the 700 feet to the M&S. Why can’t that ever occur when you walk around in the store? As these were *pricey* they will be going to the consignment store back in Seattle (along with other wrong, expensive clothing choices). I’ll stick with my el-cheapo’s.

If you read all of this and don’t know what the Winter 10×10 is, head over to StyleBee or Un-Fancy for all the details! You can also search these hashtags on Instagram #winter10x10 #stylebee10x10 and #unfancyremix to see who else is playing along and get some inspiration of your own!

The death of the capsule wardrobe

I tried to be a good capsule wardrobe champion, and for fall/winter, I actually did really well. But the second the nice weather started rolling around the London skyline, I lost all sanity, and well…it’s gone downhill from there. I’d like to say I’m just sorting out what my style is {goodness knows I’ve completed enough Find Your Style worksheets from various blogs: conclusion – not the style I currently own}.

My biggest problem is I am bored. So I shop. I read a fashion blog. So I shop. Online shopping will be the death of my debit card. There, I have at least admitted it. Just yesterday I left a comment on blog saying how I keep wanting dresses and skirts, and my closet has plenty of pretty examples, but I don’t ever seem to wear them for some reason. And this morning in a moment of sleep-deprived madness, I saw a beautiful dress on a blog, and chucked it in my cart. No one I know is getting married, christening a baby, or having a garden party. Maybe I save it for my 40th birthday {which is now less than year away}, or my sons graduation from high school {which is less than three years away}.

I don’t know which one of those things is scarier right at the moment.

It would look nice for the Kew Literary Festival in September, where I have tickets to hear Jessie Burton speak. It would be nice for a picture session at Kew Gardens or in Hyde Park, the floral dress among the florals and trees. In all reality, I will probably just return it (thank you asos for free returns). But in the five minutes I spend twirling in it in my bedroom, I think I will fall in love with it and try to convince myself to keep it.

Maybe I am having a mid-life crisis, but if we take into account that my grandmother is in her 90’s and my great-grandmother lived to be 99, I haven’t *quite* hit mid-life yet. So I’m having some sort of other crisis then.

This was me last week trying to capture photo’s of my outfit which has helped me see what direction I might be working towards. Or at the very least, it does show me what works and what doesn’t. I’ve seen several pictures in the last year of group shots where I’m wearing something I thought I really liked, then when I saw how it looked as an observer, immediately put the item in the charity pile. {we can say goodbye to any double breasted coats}

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This is very much a picture that shows my real life. My life is messy and full of stuff, and so is my house. {it’s part of being an expat and having movers putting things in storage and sending the rest to your destination. though we clearly marked everything, plenty of things got mixed up – like the door wreath and painting behind the chair  and the bookcases that arrived missing all the shelves- and there is quite a bit we don’t need here, more than any other move we’ve made.}

I’m  not exactly sure why the capsule concept failed me for summer. As I keep examining what my style is, I see other things I want to try. Maybe that is okay, so long as I make sure that if something comes in, then something must go out. I also need to be sure the item really will work for me, so trying it on multiple times and being in the item for 30 minutes before deciding keep or return can limit the ‘wrong’ purchases I make.

There are a more than a few items in my closet that I’ve had for years. My favorite pair of skinny jeans I’ve had for four years and wear 2-3 times a week. They definitely meet the criteria of 30 Wears as established by Livia Firth at EcoAge. She asks us to examine each item before we buy it and ask ourselves Would we wear this 30 times? I definitely have 30+ wear items in my closet. Once I do find something I like, I wear it on repeat. It’s part of the reason why I tried the capsule concept to begin with. I liked the limited choices (which in winter didn’t feel limited. I definitely had a sense of what worked for me and what I liked.)

In a London summer it is much harder to limit my closet to a typical summer wardrobe. In Seattle I could actually count on wearing shorts/skirts/dresses through the majority of the May/June/July months. Yesterday here in London I wore jeans and a sweatshirt to start with. Then I had to change into a t-shirt because I was too hot. When I left the house at 1, I was cold again and back on went the sweatshirt. It became crazy humid while I was making dinner so I moved on to shorts and a t-shirt. After dinner I got cold and I gave up and just put on my pajamas. The point being, weather in the course of one day in London is completely unpredictable and annoying. And really messes with me trying to have a summer capsule.

For the summer months of August/September I’m planing to try having a combined capsule of summer and warmer items to see if that works better. I have several items waiting at my parents house in the US that I am very excited about, and I think waiting until I have them will work better than trying to sort things out now. There are only three  weeks until we leave. {yay! 5 days in Seattle, and then 5 days at a lake house we rented with my parents on the lake where I spent most of my childhood. it is definitely my happy place, and if I could, I would have a summer house there.}

In the future I might do a capsule wardrobe again. I do feel like I failed for not making it an entire year, but I definitely didn’t anticipate how challenging the weather in London can be; especially given that I lived for three years prior to this in Seattle. I thought I’d seen everything when we first went house hunting there in late April and it was snowing, and the first day after we moved in May, I didn’t wear shorts until the end of July.

Have you had luck with a capsule wardrobe? What wisdom can you give me from your experience?

the 10×10 capsule challenge

I’ve become lax (for lack of a better word) with my capsule wardrobe. Since ‘summer’ has arrived in the UK – the one week in May when we have temperatures above 70’s degrees that constitutes summer – I switched out all my sweaters and pulled out my t-shirts….and then I hit a wall. My closet is full of long sleeved shirts, and inexplicably, button down long sleeve shirts. I didn’t think I wore button ups much but I have about 9 in there at the moment. The tricky part of this capsule is the varying degrees of weather, as I say at every capsule post.

It’s London. If the weather were predictable it’d be Arizona.

Today, currently, right this second, it’s 64 and sunny. But by 4 pm it’s supposed to be raining, and by 5:30 when I walk .50 miles one way to collect my child from the school bus, it’ll be really rainy and 50 degrees. So while I am wearing at skirt at present, I’ll likely be wearing jeans and wellies at pick up.

This morning’s walk to and from the bus at 7:30 was gorgeous though. I didn’t even really need a coat. {give me two minutes to appreciate not wearing a coat, something that I haven’t been able to do in about 8 months, I have yet in fact to put away my down coat, because I wore it only 2 weeks ago}

I was reading The Lovely Laura Life and she recently talked about her 10×10 challenge. Hmm, what’s that? It’s the idea of picking ten items from your closet and wearing ONLY those ten items for the next ten days {exceptions underwear, exercise clothes for actual exercising, pajamas, accessories like scarves}. 10×10. And I thought, why not?!

The Husband thinks I am nuts.

He’s probably right.

The point of the exercise is to challenge yourself to be creative, be unique, and find your fashion mojo. Those are my reasons anyway. The blog below gives a lot more elegant reasons on why to try the 10×10 challenge. Read all about 10×10 on Style This Life a blog I just discovered, but one that seems to be similar in vibe to myself. Fashion, capsule wardrobes, ethical shopping. I also like StyleBee but my internet does not like loading their site. at.all.

Here are my 10 picks from my Pinterest board (with links).

Gap Broken In Khakis/J Crew Perfect Shirt/7 For All Mankind Bootcut Jeans (thrifted)

J Crew Back Zip Stripe top/AG Jeans Denim skirt (similar shown)/J Crew Tretorn Sneakers

J Crew Red Boatneck top/White Stuff Sabine Denim Shirt Dress

 

I am missing one item because I haven’t completely decided on a second shoe option or adding another shirt option. I had planned to pick my Nike Flex sneakers since my foot is back in ‘freak out’ mode and I need to wear something supportive for all the walking I do on a daily basis {yay! city life}. I originally chose my new blue Converse* but after I saw the J Crew ones I think I’ll end up returning the chucks because the J Crew is more the style I wanted. (These will replace my once-white Converse tieless summer chucks.)

Today I am wearing the denim skirt and blue/white stripe 3/4 sleeve back-zip top. This may be the most crazy attempt at ‘fixing’ my closet yet, but it is interesting to see if I can actually stick with it. Now if I could just find a white background, a free hair and makeup artist, and someone to take the pictures, this blog would look a whole lot nicer. (that and go back to participating in social media) 

Find inspiration from the 20 piece summer capsule over at StyleBee and the 21 piece winter mini-capsule on  Style This Life.

Would you ever work from a capsule wardrobe? What do you think of the 10×10 Challenge?

*I know Converse are the worst things possible for feet. I have custom prescription inserts I move into all my shoes thanks to my never-ending 13 years ago foot surgery nerve damage saga. boo. makes those heels in my closet that I adore nothing but decorative.

**apologies for misspellings, random out of place words, or other errors in this post. it’s hard to concentrate when you have roofers with tools banging away a mere 20 feet from your kitchen windows

Capsule Wardrobe: 5 months on

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Current (disorganized) closet

The capsule wardrobe I wrote about way back here in October and again here one month in, is pretty much still in effect. I did live from the same wardrobe for 3 months and really didn’t see much I didn’t like in my closet and continued it into month 4. But as we’ve turned into March and the sun occasionally has started to shine, I’m starting to feel the drag of my {primarily} grey toned closet. So I’ve made some changes.

I will say that during my entire capsule experience I have had certain pieces I don’t count towards my ‘number’; items like layering pieces I never wear out of the house (San Francisco sweatshirt circa 2007, that would be you). These are things I throw on over pjs, or that I put on to cook spaghetti sauce; items I don’t really care about getting mucked up, or put on because I’m always bloody freezing, but things I would never want to be seen in in public.

This is the biggest problem for me in terms of the capsule experience, those items that end up being worn in the evenings, or the super warm cardigan I only wear when I’m at home (and generally, absolutely freezing). The weather in London certainly does not help me out at all. We can have 3-4 seasons in one day, which makes it very hard to figure out a seasonal 3 month wardrobe. I’m finding my fall capsule also needs winter items. I’ve read plenty of articles of late of people ditching the current 3 month capsule project and moving towards a more 6 month capsule. That way they can take their closet across seasons, still in a reduced number, but with a few more items for those of us that live in a hard to predict, or fluctuating weather area.

The other problem I’ve faced now that the sun has been shining, is the need for color. I do like color, and I am especially in love with this piece I bought at London Fashion Weekend from Winser London. I bought it in the Winser Blue color and I think I am pretty much in love with it. It could work as a dress with boots and tights (and a slip underneath) or with leggings. I found this piece from Boden that I think will be fun with jeans, black pants, or a denim skirt. Of course my clothing crush is Claire Underwood, as espoused in my Pinterest board: all things Claire. Who wouldn’t love to have her closet??

Not exactly realistic. I don’t have a car to drive me around, so 4 inch heels (Louboutin’s of course), are pretty much out. I also don’t think she cleans her own toilets, and I unfortunately, do. But still, if you have to have closet goals, Claire Underwoods is the top of my list. {I also love her hair. I have been considering going for the CU pixie for almost a year now. I’m {this close} to deciding to do it.}

I’ve done one of those self-assessment type of things on personal style, and I’ve come to these conclusions:

  • I like classic, tailored pieces. The more refined the better. It’s all about clean lines.
  • Clothes that fit my shape, and nip in at the waist are the most flattering. So, while I own a few oversize items that I like, they don’t truly flatter me. A waist you can see is a good thing (whether it’s the trend or not).
  • I’m more of a no-more-than 2-3 colors per outfit person, and in my Pinterest inspiration board, I’m drawn primarily to items that don’t have prints.

The biggest issue is making this work in my current lifestyle. At a minimum, I’m walking 2 miles a day to and from the kids bus stop. As I said before, the weather plays a big factor between rain and cold. When it’s nice out, I enjoy wearing skirts and dresses. I am limited in footwear options because the sidewalks are uneven, and in typical european fashion, are not one solid bit of tarmac. They tend to use cement tiles, which means they are all different heights and bumbling an ankle is pretty much a given in heels (especially the nice looking skinny ones that go with skirts and dresses). If I open up my Spring/Summer bin in my closet, there’s not a lot I feel like keeping. I can reduce and reduce my closet and donate to the charity shop. But refilling and replacing the items I get rid of….that’s an investment especially if I follow the logic of buying quality, long lasting items. I do see the importance of spending $50 on a t-shirt that lasts through 250 washings, versus the $15 t-shirt that lasts through 25. But justifying ponying up $50 for the long-lasting t-shirt is still a bit of a struggle.

So, are my wardrobe goals and expectations realistic? Maybe. If altered to a degree for the next year of city of living, I think they can be. The biggest take-away from my capsule experiment has been refining what I really want to wear. I tend to be a very bad (especially online) impulse buyer. I am trying to work on it. I need to clearly see what I want my wardrobe to be, and remember that the cute flower print button down, or fantastic boho dress, and trendy a-line skirt really doesn’t flatter me or match up with my closet.

My mantra needs to be to set my goals, and sticky note them to my forehead, my computer, and my bank card.