Learning From My Capsule Wardrobe

BeFunky Design

I started 2016 with a mission to clean out my closet and live on a very limited wardrobe for three months at a time. Like most projects and I, they all start with good intentions and then fall into remiss. I do get the question, “so are you still living with a capsule wardrobe” every so often, so I figure I’d update.

Short answer: not really.

Long answer.

I went back and looked at my original posts last year to remind myself why I wanted to limit my clothing resources. At the core, I was frustrated by having a closet full of clothes and “nothing to wear/pack for trips/etc.” The sheer amount of stuff I had hanging in my closet overwhelmed me and I just went to the same 5 pieces during the work week anyway. Then I kept adding clothes to the mix. (Dumb idea.)

After I cleaned everything out and put together my outfits for the quarter, I felt accomplished! Packing for my business trips was easy. I even downgraded to a simple carry-on for most trips.

But things happened mid-capsule. The weather would change dramatically. My office would transition to a different dress code for a week, quarter, or busy time. I’d be traveling even more. I had fancier events at the dance studio. And the killer – I got bored with my closet toward the end of each capsule. I found myself changing out items mid-capsule a lot, simply because something called for it.

Needless to say, a capsule wardrobe life doesn’t fit my lifestyle at all. No matter how many articles of clothing or shoes I tried to pare down to, I always ended up with other items in the closet.

However, it wasn’t all for naught. I did learn several things and still keep those in the back my mind when looking at my closet.

I liked saving money during the capsule, so I aim to purchase new items for my closet from secondhand sources. My favorite is still ThredUp for convenience sake, but I’ll trade or buy items on Ebay, Facebook groups, or Craigslist. If I have a chance, I also check out thrift stores and consignment shops in the area. (But, shopping in person? Who has time for that?)

My aimless searching through aisles in Target or Ross for new clothes doesn’t really happen anymore. This has cut the Target bill down a bit per month. (Or goes toward Bean’s wardrobe budget.)

I attempt to shop smarter. Brand new items ideally come from ethically produced or conscious sources. I try to shop local shops, Etsy stores, or “made in USA” items. I try to cater my subscription box profiles to ask for Made in USA items so I can still enjoy the surprise aspect of personal shopping. I would love to one day have a “greener” closet, but this is a financial undertaking on its own.

I have become incredibly picky about what I buy. I try to avoid items that “just fit okay” or “are cute pants but don’t have pockets.”

I alter or repair clothes, rather than donating them to someone else who might fix them. (Unlikely.)

I now pack up and store my “dead of winter” clothes, rather than leave them out during the summer months. (I never did this and I’m not sure why.)

I adhere to a color scheme and avoid adding new pieces to my closet that don’t fit within those parameters. There is currently no red, orange, chocolate brown, or yellow in my closet, for example. No plans to add them either.

I don’t throw clothes in the wash after one wear. (Unless it’s gross.) Clothes are washed as closely as possible to the care instructions on the label. Lots of things get hung dry.


I’m not trying to discourage anyone from trying to clean out their closet and make their remaining items work. Pinterest makes it look so damn simple as well. But since I have so many different facets to my life, it was difficult to limit myself to a set number of months and items. And I spent more time during each “season” fixing my closet to cater to outside events and weather – which defeats the purpose of having a capsule!

Disclosure: there are affiliate links here.

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Start Over

For the first time in a while, I actually feel compelled to write again.

I recently saw an ad for 2017’s Diabetes Blog Week dates. Then got a bit depressed that the prompts were not ready. (I know they won’t be for a while, but given how long it takes to write posts over here…)

I have several ideas to tie up loose ends I started last year – just need to sit down and write.

Until then…

Capsule Wardrobe: Musings and Lessons

 

SeeJenDance - Capsule Wardrobe Musings and Lessons

As this capsule season comes to a close, and I prep my closet for the next season, I wanted to reflect on several things I discovered while living with a much smaller closet.

Okay, why did I do this again? My need for simplicity actually came to a head back in November. I remember I needed to pack for a three day trip to Disneyland and the fits of rage I had while packing. There were so many evens I could not. My problem was finding items that were casual enough, layer friendly, nursing friendly, and actually fit. Eventually, I found things that worked, but also realized I hated that nothing in my closet worked with each other. But I had so much! That was why I started cleaning out everything. Living out of a suitcase was going to be a near-monthly occurrence in 2016. Why make it more stressful?

I have to force myself to try things on. Sure, I love my online thrift shopping, subscription boxes and shopping services. They’ve replaced the hours I used to spend pouring through racks at Marshall’s and Ross. And usually, in the stores, I’d pick things off the rack that I thought were my size and just check out. “Oh, this looks cute and it’s a great deal. I won’t find this again.” From there, it’ll sit in my closet unworn because it didn’t quite fit as I thought. Or – it’s sparkly, so I’ll find a place for it. Since I do review my Boxes and share them with you all, it forces me to try items I receive on, make sure they fit, style it to make sure it works with my closet. If it doesn’t, I return it. M has now called it Jen-Shopping: I buy five items and return three. Every time.

I don’t really need that much stuff. And there was a lot of stuff. Throughout the season, I cleaned out my jewelry and either donated it to charity or to my dance team’s silent auction. I also further cleaned out my “maybe” pile of items and sold them online. I hadn’t worn some of those items in three months and didn’t miss them at all. I plan to clean out my diabetes supplies from long ago (really, I don’t need THAT many lancets) and Bean’s toys this season.

I shop when I’m bored and/or exhausted. For some, impulse shopping is their vice. For me, it’s something mindless to do. Aimlessly scrolling through good deals or garage sale sites for things that might work for you. It’s real easy to just say, “interested” or “add to cart.” Or after arguing with a toddler about dinner, sometimes it’s nice to just find something agreeable. (See: retail therapy.) My goal for next season is to find other light, enjoyable hobbies that don’t involve my wallet or moving too far from the couch.

I totally broke the “no shopping during a season” rule. But, the core of the capsule remained the same. If I found that an item was only there to be a number and I wasn’t enjoying wearing it, I removed it and replaced it with something else. This usually happened with ill fitted items I kept just so I could keep some clothing in my closet. I am going into the spring season with a better “base” wardrobe, so it should be easier to not shop for three months.

Laundry day was a day I didn’t mind, but also dreaded. When you work with a limited amount of clothes and have a toddler, laundry day becomes a necessity. There were several times I looked into my closet and wondered how EVERYTHING was dirty at the same time. Plus, everything needs to be hand-washed/line-dried, so I could be without a pair or jeans for several days. This is why I had an “at home” collection of clothes, which featured my ratty mom-jeans and several pairs of yoga pants. You really can’t get rid of that stuff when you have a kid.

I missed color. If you have ever looked on Pinterest, you’ll notice that capsule wardrobes tend to be, well, monochromatic. That’s because neutrals go with everything. The majority of Pins feature lots of neat, black and chambray wardrobes. (*yawn*) But guys – I like colbalt and purple and red and other fun jewel tones. Sure, an accessory is fun, but man, I love making a statement with color. All the time. Color mixing was definitely an interesting capsule concept I tried and look forward to trying again next season.

I’ll definitely be doing a capsule of some sort again. I’m still trying to figure out the logistics. This season involved a lot of “threes.” I had three pairs of jeans, three work pants, three cardigans… etc. I may do something similar for spring. Hell, these are my own rules to play with, right?

Golden Tote Review – February

SeeJenDance - Golden Tote Review February

Subscription boxes are kind of the “new trend” in shopping, aren’t they? There are a TON of services which allow you to shop for clothes for yourself, your spouse or partner, your kids, your jewelry, your groceries… whatever. I personally love them because I usually don’t have time to shop, let alone the energy to pour through racks of clothes. (And I won’t even attempt it with a toddler in tow.) As much as I love StitchFix and its convenience, I wanted to try out some of the other “fashion box services.” After seeking some suggestions from fellow SFers, I came across Golden Tote.

What is Golden Tote?

Golden Tote is a Southern California based duo aimed to bring trendy, colorful clothes to the doorsteps of women, one reusable bag at a time. (Or, as I’ve seen on their BST group – sometimes, multiple bags at a time!) The Sarahs, as they are called on their website, design, shop for, and curate a boutique every month, and then pass along their killer deals to you by bulk shipping a Tote filled with anywhere from 2 to 6 items. There is no subscription or styling fee required. You just buy when you want one – or three.

How does it work?

Every 1st Monday of the month, the boutique changes, thus also changing the tote inventory. Shoppers then have a choice between 3 tote sizes and prices: a $49 tote, which includes one picked item and 1 surprise item; a $99 surprise tote, which includes up to 4 items unbeknownst to you but based on your style profile; and a $149 tote, which includes two picked items and up to 4 surprise items. You fill out a style profile indicating your likes, dislikes, and sizing info; much like SF or other services. Then you order and wait for your tote to be styled. The totes are shipped within a week or so, and depending on where you live, can take up to a week to arrive. (I am in the same state as GT, so shipping took about 3 days.)

So wow, you can get up to 6 items for $150? What a steal! Exactly – which is why they’ve catered their return policy to make sure it doesn’t come back to bite them later. Golden Tote is an all or nothing service. Did you get 5 items and love them all? Cool! But if you didn’t, or something didn’t fit, you can either return the whole tote for a full refund, or just keep everything and give away/sell/trade the items you don’t like. They did, apparently, recently begin to take back individual pieces, but that comes with a price tag.

SeeJenDance - February Tote Review

But really. Even if you love 4 out of the 6 pieces, you’ve essentially saved yourself a shopping trip and time at the mall. And these aren’t Forever 21 quality pieces either. Brands like Skies are Blue, Le Lis, Just Black and other Stitch Fix-like brands are included in the surprise items.

For this go around, I decided on a $149 tote, plus one add on item. I selected two items from their boutique and let my stylist pick the remaining pieces. I indicated on my style profile that I was creating my Spring Capsule, my accent color was red, and that I was a working mom. Let’s check out what I received.

My stylist was “KB,” who from what I’ve read online in their Facebook group, is a kick-ass stylist. My Tote (appropriately themed for the month) included all of my pieces, plus one-add on item I chose at check-out, packed inside.

GTFeb-5

I also received two Style Cards for the items I picked from their boutique to start my Tote.


Classic Trench Coat

Classic Trench - February Golden Tote Review

 

This was one of the two chosen items from the boutique. I really want to add a neutral trench coat to my spring wardrobe since El Niño is supposed to be dumping buckets of rain on us this season. (It’s currently coming down pretty good now.) But I know that outerwear and I have a love/hate relationship. Usually pieces like this can be too long, too bulky, too something else that doesn’t work for me. Against my better judgement, I gave this a spin.

Sadly, it’s too boxy and too long. Maybe a bit overwhelming for my little frame. (Added the GT stock image for comparison.) The material, while really soft, didn’t seem waterproof either. It reminded me of a soft suede. So – very stylish coat… if you are 5’5″ and taller. Verdict – Sell or Trade or Donate


Business Savvy Blazer in Navy (Skies are Blue)

 

Business Savvy Blazer (Navy) - February Golden Tote Review

My next chosen item was a navy Business Savvy Blazer by Skies are Blue. This reminded me of a different SAB blazer I had and then traded away because the color wasn’t right. A navy one, however, would be handy to have in my spring closet. The 3/4 sleeves are super for those with short arms, like me. It’s a knit, rather than a structured blazer, but this will work for the office when the A/C is blasting. The only odd thing was that there wasn’t a way to close or button the blazer. It doesn’t matter too much because I rarely do that, but something to keep in mind. Verdict – Added to Spring Capsule.


Back to Business Blazer – Gray

 

Back to Business Blazer in Gray - February Golden Tote Review

My add-on item was this 2nd blazer. An add-on item is an additional chosen you can add to your tote at a super discounted price. I have been looking to replace the gray, Kristah ruffle knit blazer I received in a Fix shortly after I returned from maternity leave. I have worn that gray blazer down to the seams, so it’s time to retire it. This was a killer deal as an add-on ($40) and it’s a structured blazer. Nice microfiber material and comes with a button closure. If I had known the trench wouldn’t work out, I would have just chose this instead. Verdict – Added to Spring Capsule.


Le Lis Ribbed Skirt – Gray

Le Lis Ribbed Skirt - Gray - Golden Tote Review February

 

Now on to the surprise items. Again, starting with the items I didn’t care for that much. The Le Lis skirt wasn’t really labeled anything on the packing slip other than it was a skirt. It was long, so I assumed a maxi skirt. The problem is that it was nearly the perfect length, if not a little short, to be a maxi skirt on me. Maxi skirts are ALWAYS too long on me.

It was also very confining. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t wear my garter and insulin pump on my leg. My Dexcom transmitter is obviously sticking out. It was also not very forgiving. Since it’s a knit, every single flaw and bump showed up. It also gave me a bad case of “mom butt.” What the heck is this thing?

Turns out it’s a mid-calf pencil skirt. Oooh. And quite obviously too long. Nope. Verdict – Traded.


Le Lis Polka Dot Blouse – Blue

Le Lis Polka Dot Blouse - Blue

This shirt was perplexing. In theory, I do kind of like it. It’s a chambray-like material that’s light enough to transition into summer. There are tie sleeve details. It can be dressed up or down. Belted or tucked in. There is a very small printed detail to give it some more interest.

It just seemed a bit big. I realize I’m a bit of a challenge because I am in between sizes. But, for a fit like this, I would have preferred to size down. But, GT’s stock of x-smalls are limited, so this could be as small as I could go. So, I’m torn on whether to hold on to it. I may save this for a future trade. Verdict – Not sure. Maybe a gift or sell.


Skies are Blue Floral Top

Skies are Blue Floral Top - Golden Tote February Review

 

This was the one item that I could snag in x-small. Probably a good idea since it’s a similar blouse shape to just about every one I’ve received from Stitch Fix. Roll tab sleeves. Fun floral print. Heavier cotton/poly mix, which is a nice change from the usual lot I get – which is generally an almost sheer poly. Definitely spring worthy, but not really in the Spring Capsule color scheme.

Skies are Blue Floral Top - Golden Tote February Review

But, it is cute when styled. Great for casual Friday or a coffee date with M. On the flip side, I’ve apparently snagged a unicorn piece for some of the ladies in the BST group. So even if I don’t decide to incorporate it, I should have no trouble selling it. Verdict – Keep, with reservations.


Gilli Dotted Dress

Gilli Dotted Dress - Golden Tote Review February

This was probably my favorite piece of the lot. It looked really odd coming out of the box (it’s runched on one side), but looked and felt great after I tried it on. This is probably what I’d consider a day to date dress. As it’s styled now, it might be a little too fancy for the office, but I can throw a sweater or blazer on over it for during the day. The skirt will accommodate my insulin pump and garter just fine. The dots are magenta. All in all, a good pick by KB. Verdict – Keep this, damn it! It’s Hot!


Final thoughts on Golden Tote – I liked the value of the items I received for the money I paid. Even if two items were definite “nos,” I essentially paid around $27 for each item. That’s highway robbery – and especially useful if you like to change your closet out every season and keep up on current trends.

Selling and trading items has been a bit tricky this last month, only because there seems to be a ton of inventory in the BST group, and not a lot of buyers. That’s been making this less appealing to me if I can’t get rid of the items I don’t want.

For things I’d like to see improved – maybe more descriptive labeling or a stylist note or something included in the tote to allow the stylist know what she why she picked something. (Or to clarify what an item actually is. Like the Le Lis Skirt.) That’s something I do like about StitchFix – their little bit of communication can help make a difference in how you feel about a piece.

Will this work for me and Capsule Wardrobes? Probably not. Especially if I’m trying to keep base pieces for neutrality. (Though, my pre-capsule self would be all over this!)

But, if you want to try it out, I highly suggest you sign up and fill out a profile. They are releasing the March totes and boutique on Monday, March 7th (yes, in two days!) at 9 am PST. You can catch a few (all?) spoilers on the Golden Tote Instagram or their Tumblr page.

I will probably sit out this month just because nothing in the preview really fit my style, but if you are into the BoHo look, I highly suggest you check it out.


*Disclaimer – yes, there are some affiliate links up there and I can get a small credit toward my shopping addiction if you sign up and order a tote/fix/whatever. I, however, wrote this review for funsies and received nothing in exchange for it. So obviously, all opinions are mine.

 

February Stitch Fix Review

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I started shopping for Spring’s Capsule a bit early. Or more accurately, started looking for the replacements for items I thought still fit me for next season, but turns out I was wrong. Plus – my average keep from SF as of late has been 1 or 2 out of 5 – so this wasn’t meant to re-jumpstart my spring wardrobe.

However, given the weather we’ve been having here (low 70s), it feels like spring already. So my winter navy, gray, and white are feeling kinda drab with everything blooming.

This was also my first Fix after changing sizes across my profile. So I was a bit nervous that nothing would work out because I’m in between two dress sizes.

My stylist note was jam-packed. Random stylist generator set me up with Sophie, who sent me some items directly off my Pin board, a pair of pants I nearly purchased in a BST group on Facebook, and a blouse that didn’t leave a good impression from the get go.

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Crescent Allerton Button Front Top ($48)

Crescent Allerton Button Front Top

Let’s start with the bad, shall we? Get it over with. I had my doubts about this blouse when I peeked at the SF App. Why on earth are the stylists sending me more blue tunics? I like blue, but I don’t remember leaving much feedback about how I wanted it in every Fix. And this was the first blouse that popped up on the App, so I was prepared for the worst.

It wasn’t a tunic at all. It was just a regular cut blouse. A very wrinkly blouse, I might add. (-1 point for high maintenance; I already hate hand washing items.) The color was more like a cornflower blue, rather than my usual cobalt or navy.

Crescent Allerton Button Front Top

The fit was less than ideal. The arm holes and overall feel were better, so I was happy I went down a size. But this blouse hit me in a weird spot. As a short person, I don’t want to feel like I’ve been cut in half.

Plus it just felt awkward. I tried to style it with a Kensie blazer I received in a November Fix and I wasn’t digging it. And then it’s just a bit too short to wear on its own. Since 80% of my wardrobe needs to be office friendly, this was not this shirt’s lucky day. Verdict – Return.


Kut from the Kloth Giatta Cropped Trouser ($88)

Kut from the Kloth Giatta Cropped Trouser

Also something I peeked on the app and wasn’t crazy about initially. I mean, I turned down these same pants online for a reason, right? Well, I guess I would get to try them on anyway.

The photo in the App was deceiving. These looked like wider cuffed cropped pants. I think I was envisioning the culottes trend that I don’t understand. (Though, they do make really good ballroom practice pants in the summer…) Also, cropped pants are never actually good looking on me. They are either long enough to be full-length pants or not quite long enough. (#shortpeopleprobz)

Kut from the Kloth Giatta Cropped Trouser

Color me surprised – they actually fit like skinny cropped pants. And they are this interesting “I’m fancy denim” material, rather than just jeans. I don’t think I can get away with wearing these in the office during the week.

SFuploadsFeb-9

But – casual Friday? An event that I don’t want to wear full-length jeans to in the summer? Yes, these will work. Verdict – Keep.


Brixton Ivy Sylvester Split Neck Blouse ($54)

Brixton Ivy Sylvester Split Neck Blouse

On to the better items of the Fix. I don’t know if Sophie read my previous profiles that indicated I was obsessed with purple. But even though I asked for things to go with the color red, she gave me purple. I can’t say no to this, can I?

This was another example of why I was happy I sized down. If I had my previous size, this would have hung on me strangely. The detail on the sleeves is a nice touch. (Much better than the strange cuffs I create.

Will this work for next season? Nope. But it will work awesome for this current season – especially since I have other ill-fitted items in the closet for variety’s sake. This is a welcomed change to my current situation. Verdict – Keep.


Pixley Ohara Faux Wrap Tie-Waist Dress ($68)

Pixley Ohara Faux Wrap Tie-Waist Dress

This was the perfect example of something that looked much better on the hanger than on me. It was true – I had this dress pinned as a possibility for taking to an out-of-state wedding next season. Jersey Knits usually pack well, and this looked spring-like enough to pass for both a wedding guest dress and office attire. Sophie obliged and sent me one in my new size.

Pixley Ohara Faux Wrap Tie-Waist Dress

Hmph. Well, that wasn’t what I was expecting at all. First, the faux wrap cuts all the way down to my waist, which made me feel really uncomfortable. (Though, if I were still nursing Bean, this would be the most convenient dress ever!) Secondly, I just felt wider while wearing this. I’m not sure if it was the print, or the sleeves, or the wrap itself.

SFuploadsFeb-11

The tie detail was cute, but it just wasn’t really for me. Especially if I had to be self-conscious about bending over to pick up Bean off the floor. Verdict – Return.


Gilli Nikky Striped Faux Wrap Jersey Dress ($58)

Gilli Nikky Stripped Faux Wrap Jersey Dress

Dress #2 was also from my Pinboard, though I was hoping for a different color than navy. Nevertheless, it will still work for next season.

I like where this wrap hits better. Empire waists just work better on my frame. And it’s a good office dress in terms of length (throw on a cardigan for my cold office), but it’s also that nice jersey knit which will travel well with little maintenance. Plus, it matches my red flats. I do own a navy/white striped dress, but it’s very much a fall/winter weight sheath dress. This would ultimately replace that dress. Verdict – Keep.


That was Fix #13. Not bad – probably my best keep rate in a while, so good job Sophie.

Next, I’ll be trying something a bit different. I ordered a Golden Tote, which is a boutique service out of my home state similar to Stitch Fix. That should be arriving this week!


February Link Up – Thank you, Maria, at Crazy Together for providing a Link Up this month.

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Capsule Wardrobe: Winter 2016 (Finally)

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Happy Superbowl Sunday… I guess?

I was tempted not to write a follow up since this “season” is about half way over. But after replacing, and further cleaning out my stash of clothes, I think I finally have a winter capsule worth writing something about.

Let me start by saying that I ended up with about 2.5 capsules. One is for work or leaving the house for social engagements. The other is “toddler safe” or clothes I can safely wear around the house and don’t care if I get slobbered on, food thrown at, snotted all over, or drenched. My 1/2 capsule are my collection of ballroom dance shoes and things I wear to the studio and special occasion wear which has been fitted for ballroom dance.

Here is what is included:

1 jean jacket, 2 blazers (grey, black), 1 navy dress, 1 gray pencil skirt, 5 blouses (2 plain, 3 pattern), 3 cardigans (2 work friendly, 1 casual), 3 sweaters, 6-7 pairs of shoes, 4 t-shirts/tanks, 3 misc shirts for work/play…

3 work friendly pants, and 3 pairs of jeans or jean like pants. (The toddler capsule of yoga pants and t shirts are on the right.)

If you include the 2 jackets I’ve been swapping out, that gives me about 36-37 pieces to work with. This has been surprisingly easy, unless of course, toddler messes occur while wearing said work capsule.

Scarves and Tide Sticks have been my saving grace. They hide everything.

What I like about it so far:

  • The business trip I took last week involved one carry on bag and about 10 minutes of packing time. Usually, I needed one large bag and packed WAY too much/never wore half of it.
  • Everything mostly works with each other so I very rarely feel like I’m wearing the same thing over and over again. (Even though, I am.)
  • I’m getting use out of pieces (like the magenta pants) that I only wore once in a while.
  • I was able to find a lot of pieces I was missing via second hand. (Either for this capsule or the next.)
  • Laundry isn’t insane and it’s impossible for clothes to pile up when you don’t have that many to begin with.
  • I’m shopping smarter. If I don’t like something, or it doesn’t fit right, it gets re-sold or returned.

My challenges:

  • As mentioned, the mess. While I can avoid my toddler most of the time, one coffee spill, and I can take out one of my key pairs of pants faster than you can say “skinny vanilla latte.” And I hate doing laundry mid-week.
  • Strange seasonal weather. Two weeks ago, it rained a ton… this week, the average temp is 70 degrees. When I was planning this capsule, the average temp was 45 degrees. Layers, layers, layers.
  • I didn’t really plan all that well for competing in west coast swing next week with the items I had. It’s not my preference to compete in long sleeves – but I guess that’s what I’m doing.
  • I hate hand-washing stuff.

I am planning to continue the capsule project April-June. I think this is going to need another 3 months before I decide if I want to keep up with it. M says I’ve been spending a lot of time in my closet cleaning and re-cleaning, so he thinks all the effort is stressing me out. (I don’t know – I kind of like this kind of organizational stress.) I’ve donated a lot of clothes and sent a lot to be consigned/upcycled at ThredUp(Affiliate link – I do get a wee bit of credit if you click that and sign up.) And I’ve been trying to use these same techniques with other areas of the house – like Bean’s toys, or my diabetes supplies. (Well, I’ve been so focused on the closet, I haven’t gotten to these projects yet. But, in due time.)

January Stitch Fix Review

I know. I went completely against the capsule wardrobe “code” and I’ve been shopping during a season I’m supposed to be in currently. However, when I threw together my winter capsule, I included items I happened to have on hand that weren’t falling apart and filled in blanks as I needed. I’ve also been shopping “smarter” with very specific items in mind. A striped tee. A new black blazer that didn’t look huge on me. A couple versatile patterns.

This pickiness came in handy when I finally received, after waiting two weeks, a Gap.com order where I absolutely hated everything I purchased. Everything just didn’t look/fit right. So, I scheduled a Fix for January. I asked my stylist for a black blazer, a Pixley Greenwich striped tee (which is apparently super popular), something with polka dots, and a statement necklace. I also left a bunch of notes on my Pinterest Board.

My stylist for Fix #12 was Rizelle. I had asked for Katie back from Fix #11, but Rizelle honored my requests and sent me a great Fix.


Romolo Canon Pyrite Tassel Necklace ($34)

The first item in the box was the statement necklace I requested. This sucker was heavy. Definitely not something I would wear dancing because one turn could knock a leader out. I think pre-toddler Jen would definitely consider this necklace because it was really cool. (And looks great with the dolman shirt Rizelle sent, as she had suggested.) But, Bean is a curious girl and likes to pull on momma’s jewelry. I also had a concern about clocking her in the head with it. Nice try, Rizelle. However, I think we need to stick to shorter length necklaces. Verdict – Return.


Loveappella Evie Draw String Funnel Neck Sweatshirt ($64)

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Loveappella Evie Draw String Funnel Neck Sweatshirt (Navy)

This is a hoodie that doesn’t actually look like a hoodie. (A fancy hoodie, if you will.) Like, I could wear this to casual Friday at the office and not feel like I rolled out of bed. I pinned this after turning down a really good deal on one in a Facebook buy/sell/trade group. A co-worker has the same exact sweater, but in olive. I see it on Pinterest everything. Thus, it became my unicorn. I wanted it, but wasn’t really sure where to find it. Rizelle found it, apparently. It’s so comfy. (Though, thinner than I imagined – so wear a cami underneath.) Verdict – Keep.


Market and Spruce Corinna Striped Dolman Top ($48)

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Market and Spruce Corinna Striped Dolman

The Pixley Greenwich shirt wasn’t available, so I received the Corinna instead. I read that these shirts ran slightly larger than marked, so I was a little worried when I saw the app preview. But dolmans are supposed to look flowey and oversized anyway. I own a purple dolman from a previous Fix, and personally like the way that one fit better. It has a structured base, whereas this was just a rounded, loose, hem. Even for a looser fit, this still seemed really big on me. Though, the color combo was cool. (Navy was definitely this Fix’s color.) Verdict – Return (or more accurately, sell to someone else who wanted it.)


Paper Crown Annaliese Dress ($138)

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Paper Crown Annaliese Dress

Here was the polka dotted item I requested. I wasn’t expecting a dress, so I was pleasantly surprised when this popped up on the app. I do have a couple weddings in the spring to prep for. I also upped my price range on dresses in an effort to get something high quality and something that fit like a glove.

This didn’t fit like a glove, which was sad because I really wanted to like this dress. The biggest hang up on most sleeveless dresses is the space around the arm holes. Even with petite sizing, the arm holes would need to be altered. But as I was playing with it, the straps would also need to be taken in. Then the shape of the dress started changing.

I’m sure someone with more skill than I could have figured out what to do. But, I said that about two other Stitch Fix dresses I purchased last year. I never took them in to be altered and recently sold both of them. I didn’t want this to meet the same fate. Verdict – Return.


Market and Spruce Wallsend Knit Blazer ($68)

Well, it was what I had asked for – a black blazer. More specifically, the Benson blazer, but Rizelle couldn’t find it in my size. So I received the M&S one instead. However, I found a good deal on a different M&S black blazer and purchased that one. So, I wasn’t going to keep this one anyway. The fit was strange – but maybe it was because I had a larger dolman shirt underneath. It fit okay in the torso area, but had really small arms. The arms were also pretty long on me. It’s also a very unstructured knit blazer. This would be good for the office to throw on when the A/C makes everything super cold. But – probably not for a job interview. Verdict – Return.


So while I didn’t quite get what I wanted for my capsule, I did score some sweet stuff on the BST groups while waiting for this Fix, plus something new to wear for Casual Fridays/around the house. Hopefully, by the end of the month, I’ll have my final capsule pinned down and a clearer idea of what to ask for in March.

Till then, check out Stitch Fix yourself by visiting here.

Capsule Wardrobe 2016: The Process

I’m nearly a week into this whole capsule wardrobe thing. My capsule still isn’t done yet, but I’ve still limited myself to just 36 items of clothing and shoes for day to day wear. So why isn’t it done?

Between getting some sort of nasty virus at the beginning of the year and the slowest shipping departments ever, my Winter capsule is well, not completely workable. I think it’s possible to make this doable and be satisfied with it, but I have five or six pieces that really can only be worn one way, so that defeats the purpose of having it in the closet.

I made the decision to do a Capsule Wardrobe maybe two weeks before the end of the year. I decided to do all of my shopping for new basics the last week of the year when everything was extremely cheap. Turns out when you ask for free shipping, the stores can take their dear ol’ sweet time shipping it to you. I won’t have all of my items until January 15th, and that’s assuming everything fits correctly and plays well with my other pieces.

January will definitely be a transition month. I know for next Capsule that I need to figure out the shopping sooner. But hopefully I won’t need much.

December Stitch Fix Review

Happy New Year! And Happy StitchFixFriday!

I haven’t done a review of StitchFix since my first attempt back in 2014. Back then, StitchFix was a fairly new company and had some quirks, but I was generally happy with the service. I get to have someone shop for me based on my preferences and body type and try new styles I normally wouldn’t try.

Since I started back in 2014, they’ve added both a petite section and a maternity section. Woot! Perfect. (Though, I could have used the latter much sooner than it was released.) But hey! At least the pants I get from a Fix don’t drag on the ground. I still wear most of the pieces I’ve picked over the past two years, with the exception of those that have been washed too many times, stretched out, etc.

I’ve had plenty of fails and items where I thought my stylist wasn’t reading anything I wrote. I’ve refined my profile countless times to be more specific and leave detailed feedback after I check out. I keep a rather lengthy Pinterest board, where I pin a lot of StitchFix’s own posts to give them an idea of what I like from what they already have. Very rarely do I keep all items. (Someone once told me that if you keep all five items, it messes with their algorithm or something.) I also discovered that if you want to keep four items, you may as well keep all five because the 25% discount saves a ton of money.

Since I’m heading into a Capsule Wardrobe season, I wanted one last Fix before I stop shopping until March. This round was Fix #11.

My stylist was Katie this time. (I don’t do routine Fixes, so my stylist changes with every order.) Katie’s note mentioned that she looked at my Pin boards, took the colors for my Capsule into consideration, and honored my request for a new tote bag for travel. Good – I like you already, Katie.


 

Liverpool Collen Straight Leg Jean  ($78)

One of my office mates was raving about Liverpool jeans from her Fix, so when I saw this pair was coming, I got kind of excited. This was also the first Fix I did where I changed the sizing on my pants because previous sizes started feeling a bit larger on me. (Nothing a belt wouldn’t fix, but still.) The pants fit… barely. Like one good meal and I’d have to unbutton. I’m also pretty well set for pants otherwise for this Capsule and future Capsules, so I wasn’t really in the market for a new pair of charcoal jeans. If they were a tad larger, I’d consider because they were the perfect length. Verdict: Return


 

STREET LEVEL Parvin Suede Detail Tote ($68)

I travel at least quarterly for work – sometimes more – and I usually fly. I’ve been pushing the 2 carry-ons limit for a while. I’m a diabetic and a mom – I don’t travel light. So I wanted a big tote bag that I could disguise as my “personal item” and maybe throw my laptop in it so I don’t have to lug my roller bag on every trip. (Pumping breastmilk on the road complicated air travel, but I don’t have to worry about that next year.) I asked for a large tote bag for my plane trips. Katie obliged and gave me this fun, reversible cobalt blue tote. Loved the color and that it reversed into a neutral tan. But I had envisioned something much larger. (Something I could throw a “satellite bag” in.) It also didn’t help that I found a huge, black Merona tote at Target today for about half the cost. For the amount that I’ll use it, I’m opting out of this particular one. Verdict: Return.


 

41HAWTHORN Colibri Solid Tab Sleeve Blouse ($48)

I own about three 41Hawthorn blouses – I like the brand and this particular cut blouse. I love this color! And it goes with my Capsule color palette nicely. My hang up was that it was that it was really long. Almost like Katie forgot that I was 5’2″. So I tried a couple different things to see if I liked it any better.

If I belt it and roll up the sleeves, it’s actually not bad. I’m glad I kept this belt around as it belonged to another shirt I recently trashed. I will probably feel better about it with the black skinny jeans I already have in my Capsule. Or that fun new blanket scarf I purchased. So – there are plenty of options available to make it work. Verdict: Keep.


41HAWTHORN Jaci V-Neck Blouse  ($58)

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Oh, Katie, what is this? I had reservations about this shirt when I saw it pop up on my app. The pointed details on the yoke made me think of Count Von Count a bit.

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But, I reserve all judgments until I actually can try it on.

It was worse. The yoke was actually navy, rather than black, like I thought. I’d be open to that type of color combo if it didn’t make me feel like an extra on Star Trek. Verdict: Return.


 

RD STYLE  Douglas Cowl Neck Sweater ($68)

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I’ve been asking my stylists for cozy sweaters for about three Fixes now. Each time, something was always wrong with it, or it just sort of hung on my frame, or it was a drab color. And it’s hard to find a good sweater out here that won’t be threadbare after a few washings or that makes me feel like I’m drowning in knit. Katie finally wins with this purple cowl neck sweater. It’s got texture, it’s purple, and it has a good cut for my body type. Success! Verdict: Keep.


 

Don’t you want to try StitchFix now? Visit their website and start a Profile today. You can shop while I don’t shop for three months. Ha!

Disclaimer: No, I didn’t get asked to review StitchFix. I’m just spreading the word about their service and telling it like it is. However, if you click the link above and schedule a Fix, I do get a little bit of a kick back referral bonus.

Building a Capsule Wardrobe for 2016

In with the old and out with the new.

2015 was extremely busy for my family and me. (Hence why this blog was essentially abandoned for a year.) I was tending to Bean’s growth and development, adjusting to the new sleep regiment (or lackthereof), introducing solids, switching daycares, switching CITIES, buying a house, selling a house… oh and dancing in between in my “spare time.”

When I was nursing Bean full time, I bought a whole “nursing” wardrobe, separate from my maternity and regular wardrobe. Clothes that were designed for easy access for emergency roadside feedings and stretched in various directions. When summer rolled around, I stopped using the winter nursing clothes and just started using my existing clothes. These items weren’t meant to be stretched, pulled, and Lord knows what else I did to them. My clothes needed a redux, but I didn’t want to replace the zillions of items I had overstuffing my closet with more of the same. And I didn’t want to use the clothes I had because they all screamed “I have an infant at home… but I’m also a ballroom dancer so here is some glitter.”

That’s when I decided to look into Capsule Wardrobes; or a mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you totally LOVE to wear. Off to Pinterest I fled, researching a variety of ideas, color palates, and motivation to only have 33(ish) articles of clothing and shoes in my closet at one time over a three month period.

My challenges and potential hang ups:

  1. The premise of a capsule wardrobe is to change it out every season/three months. This assumes that seasonal weather is three months long where I live. It’s more like 5 months of Winter and Summer, then 1 month each of Spring and Fall.
  2. I generally maintain the same lifestyle for a majority of the year. I go to work; I social dance; I go out to eat here and there. It is the small wrenches – like a surprise theme dance or impromptu formal event that I really wouldn’t have something specific in my closet for at that moment.
  3. Honestly, a super versatile  wardrobe is made up of a lot of black and white basics, so I had a hard time finding ones with colors I liked to wear.

Nevertheless, the closet needed to be cleaned out.

This is probably the lengthiest step – getting rid of (almost) everything.

I mostly followed the ground rules I read about:

  1. Take everything out of your closet and chest of drawers (still working on this) and begin to divide up your existing wardrobe.
  2. Separate into piles or bins: a) things you LOVE and would change into that second; b) things that needed to be donated; c) things that you could sell/consign; d) things that needed to be trashed; e) the maybe/Seasonal pile, which will be sorted after some thought.
  3. Loungewear, PJs, workout clothes, clothes you paint in are all exempt. I also added my ballroom costumes (duh), some dance practice clothing, dance shoes, and special occasion dresses for events at the studio to this list of exemptions.
  4. Some blogs include accessories and handbags in their capsule limit. I chose not to, but I will be culling the stock pile I have.

Once this is done, you narrow down your remaining items to 33 articles of clothing and shoes. If you don’t have 33-36 items of clothing by the end of this, you set a budget and go shopping for some basics. (Tip: after Christmas is a KILLER time to shop sales for capsule basics.)

The Purge was enlightening. I often clean out my closet, but very rarely do I actually try items during those mini purges. They were superficial and I only donated items I simply didn’t wear. Since pregnancy definitely changed how clothes and shoes fit me, I had to try on everything I hadn’t worn in several months.

I discovered the following:

  1. I had multiples of tank tops and camisoles in all colors. Seriously. There really wasn’t a reason for me to have 8 black tank tops in my closet, but I did. (Sad fact: only two of them actually fit me properly and could be worn by themselves.)
  2. I have a bad habit of finding a cheap shirt somewhere and buying the same shirt in three different colors without actually trying it on before buying.
  3. The camisoles from #1 made me feel like a sausage. (Thanks pregnancy!)
  4. The sentimental and souvenir t-shirts were the hardest to let go. Especially since the Disney ones were so expensive.
  5. My feet have grown since having a baby. At one point before pregnancy, they shrunk. A lot of shoes I hadn’t worn yet no longer fit me.
  6. I found one tank top hanging in my closet inside out and I don’t remember the last time I wore it. So it had to have been laundered and then hung like that for quite some time.
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EIGHT! Eight black tank tops!

 

Sell box on the left and Seasonal/Maybe pile on the right.  

Trash pile on the left and donate pile on the right (which got bigger after I took this.)

 

So many hangers. Current state of my closet. Still more work to do.

I still have some more work to do over the holiday and then figure out what was going into my Capsule for the next three months. But even if I don’t keep it to 36 pieces, at least all the items that do not fit or aren’t in good condition are out of my closet.

Where I am shopping for my basics and filler items: