Friday, January 30, 2015

Winter Capsule Part 2: February and March 2015 + Outfit 61/62

Today I chose my next wardrobe, the one that I'll wear in February and March. The above photo is everything laid out on my bed (except for one shirt, which was in the washing machine). 

I had been thinking about what to choose for a while, and making a list and crossing things off. I looked back at what I had worn the most in December and January. And today I actually got out all the clothes that were contenders for this wardrobe and just laid them out on my bed. I was certain about including some things, and some had to be debated a bit. 

I saved sweaters for last, since they often layer over the rest of the clothes. I looked at what I had so far, what colors I was using, what sorts of things I had chosen, and used that to help me choose which sweaters I wanted. I had several more that I would have included if I'd had room, but I know I have more than enough here. Some of these sweaters, I've had for years, and I think they'll last for a lot longer. I think this category of clothing is one where I already have beloved picks that I will use long-term. I can't see a need to buy anything new when I already love what I have - yay!

Shirts and pants - not the same story. I don't have many of either that I think I'll be wearing for years to come. Those categories can be improved as time goes on - or maybe will always be pieces that need to be replaced after a few years. 

I am noticing something pretty cool right now. As I look at clothes for spring, a lot of the things that I like in stores resemble things I already have in my closet! I would love for that to happen every season. I can be inspired by looking at new fashion, but realize that the things that I like (and would actually wear) are just like what I already have. I can just shop my own closet and still feel like I'm wearing current clothes. 

It probably helps that I don't often love the trendiest clothes - those tend to go out of style really quickly. I guess the things that I like are either bland enough to avoid going out of style quickly, or else they're more classic styles that last longer. 

I made my list in Google Docs so you could use mine as a starting point if you want. Just save and edit the doc to fill in your own color/shape/style choices. Here is the link.

Winter Capsule Part 2: February and March 2015
White t-shirt
Black t-shirt
White button-down
Red tunic
Blue t-shirt
Navy & white striped t-shirt
Octopus shirt
Desert shirt
Flannel shirt
Wine t-shirt

Snakeskin top
Black & white tunic
Black pinstripe pants
Boyfriend jeans
Distressed skinny jeans
Dark skinny jeans
Black skinny jeans
Straight leg jeans
Black & white batwing cardigan
Green cardigan
Ivory cardigan
Charcoal hooded cardigan
Grey button cardigan
Black boyfriend cardigan
Black crewneck
Olive crewneck
Grey & white crewneck
Cream turtleneck
Black moccasins
Chevron Vans
Sk8-hi Vans
Orange Converse
Black zipper booties
Black fringed booties
Grey Frye boots
Tan Frye boots
Tan moccasin boots
Brown riding boots
Black & white striped sweater
Black & white marled sweater
Red paisley
Red A-line


I chose 40 pieces, plus I get to add in anything I made myself. There are two tops and one skirt that are finished, and one skirt still needs the waistband added and the bottom hemmed. I get to use four extra pieces and I have the incentive to sew more and add even more variety to my wardrobe. 

I have a lot of black and white again, and a lot of grey. But I also have five red or wine items, two bright blue shirts, and two green sweaters. Color! 

Do you remember me saying that I might reduce the number of shoes I include? You do? Darn. Well, I tried to, but I really wanted all ten pairs that I have in my list above. I tried to imagine substituting one pair of boots for another in different outfits, and they just didn't work as well. Since my capsule wardrobe experiment is about having fun, I'm just going with it. I didn't buy any new shoes, so it doesn't do any harm to use the ones I already have. 

And here's today's outfit (61/62):

 White Button-Down Shirt, Geo Sweater, Light Grey Jeans, Grey Frye Boots. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

60/62: Grey Crewneck Sweater, Jeans, Riding Boots

I'm mixing brown, black, blue, and grey - the color rules of my youth are all being broken. This feels fine to me, probably because the brown and black are separated by my jeans.

My first winter capsule is wrapping up already! I will finalize my next selection this weekend, or maybe tomorrow. I think it will look like a lot like this capsule, but without the holiday clothes. I will probably trade in some different sweaters from my closet, and take out some shoes. There are just too many shoes in this capsule (can you believe that? I cannot.) The other day my daughter was in my closet and she asked me if I'm going to donate some of my shoes. My first reaction was, "Are you crazy?" but then I looked at them and said, "Yeah, maybe." There are some that I've hardly worn, and some that I used to wear but not for a long time. I might be able to send a few pairs off to find their destiny.

I've been looking a bit at clothes for spring, which is fun. New colors! Imagining sunshine and playing outside! As I find things I like, I'm realizing that I already have something similar. That's pretty cool, and might mean that I won't buy much at all. My hope is that after I do this experiment for a whole year, I'll have that experience every season: I'll already have what I want.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

59/62: Black and White Sweater Dress, Moccasins

A sweater dress and leggings make one of my favorite winter outfits. Today it was pretty warm out, so I tried it with moccasins, and I think it's great. 

Remember how I was doing that Capsule Kitchen diet/eating plan? Yeah, it didn't really stick for me. I think I'll try it again at another time. For right now, I'm using about 30 recipes that are healthy and eating only those meals. I'm using about 40 ingredients, plus tons of "flavor boosters" (components that are used in very small amounts per serving). So I'm using more ingredients than in the Capsule Kitchen plan, but I'm still accomplishing some of the same things. I've reduced the options to a manageable number of recipes. There is a lot of overlap in ingredients used in my recipes, so I can use up everything I buy. Everything is healthy (well, desserts are healthier than normal, and I'm trying to limit them). 

I hope to gain energy and lose a few pounds, and re-set my appetite and expectations so that I eat more vegetables and rely less on baked goods and processed foods. This feels like the right thing for me right now, and that's huge for sticking with it. So far, so good. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

58/62: White t-shirt, Charcoal Zip Sweater, Jeans, Vans

Wow, it's day 58 already? This winter capsule has been pretty successful for me, and I think that Part 2 is going to be even better. I love that it's getting easier each time!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Outfits 55, 56 & 57/62

Grey Crewneck, Grey Cords, and Metallic Booties: monochromatic, but not boring. The sweater has horizontal ribs and the cords have vertical ones, so there's a bit of texture going on even though there's not much color.

White T-shirt, Black and White Cardigan, Jeans, and Zipper Boots. I guess it was a neutral-colored weekend around here!

Cream Crewneck, Red Skirt, Leggings, and Moccasins. I know, I said I'd try to wear this skirt with a different top. I think it will roll over into my next capsule, so I still have time! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

54/62: Blue and White Shirtdress, Booties

Do you have fun weekend plans? As usual, I hope to do some sewing! I don't think we have any obligations - a situation which we really like right now. It's supposed to be nice weather, so I hope to get the kids and myself outside a lot. See you on Monday!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

53/62: Black Tee, Black and White Cardigan, Jeans, Chevron Vans

I've been looking at some sewing patterns to see what I might want to make this winter and in the spring. 

Here are some dresses and tops that I like and can imagine making in fabrics that I choose. I may pick out a couple patterns to actually buy. 

Sewing Patterns

Sewing Patterns by tonya-kitchel on Polyvore

And here are some ready-made clothes that I think I could copy at home. The great thing about making things myself is I can choose exactly what color I want. The bad thing is that my sewing does not always look professional! I am improving, but I have a lot to learn.

Simple clothes to copy

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

52/62: White Shirt, Green Cardigan, Jeans, Moccasins

No socks? Well, we mostly stayed inside today. It was a cold, snowy day and my son is sick so I didn't want him playing outside. It was a great day to be cozy by the fireplace, put together puzzles, and play. 

I finished reading Not Buying It and I've decided to try it for the month of February. I will only buy essentials, which will be mostly food. I'll try to go shopping alone so I'm better able to focus on my list and no one will be asking for toys or junk food. I'll get what I need for Valentine's day ahead of time, which is kind of cheating, but that's what I'm doing. 

Have you ever taken time off from shopping? How did it go?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

51/62: Cream Sweater, Paris Skirt, Grey Frye Boots

I like the shape of this outfit, but I think maybe the tights are too dark. Next time I might try grey instead. 

I've been looking online at spring clothes today and I'm looking forward to putting together that capsule. I'm sure I'll include black and white and grey clothes, and I'd like to choose two or three colors to spice it up. I am really liking navy, but will I want a lighter color for springtime? Or - gasp! Could navy replace black for a season? 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Outfits 48, 49, & 50/62

This weekend I wore:
A pink t-shirt, boyfriend jeans, and chevron Vans.

A white button-down shirt, cocoon sweater, grey cords, and metallic booties.


And a red sweater dress, leggings, and booties.

I'm definitely thinking about what I want to include in my next capsule wardrobe (Winter Part 2). A lot of it will probably be the same: jeans, leggings, sweaters, tunics, sweater dresses, boots and sneakers. I won't need any fancy holiday clothes, so I'll put them away. I think I will choose about 40 pieces this time.

I'm also already thinking about spring! I want to make the transition easier than it was with my fall capsule - I didn't have the right clothes for either unseasonably warm or cold days. This time, I think I may switch more gradually between winter and spring clothes, having access to both so I can dress appropriately no matter the weather. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

47/62: Black and White Tee, Black Jeans, Booties

I sewed this tunic, so it's a free addition to my winter capsule. I have another one cut out, plus a shirt almost done. It's nice to add to my sewing skills and my wardrobe at the same time.

Maybe this weekend I'll get some sewing time in. We will also be attending a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese - the kids are so excited! Are you doing anything fun?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

46/62: Striped Sweater Dress, Grey Leggings, Grey Frye Boots

Today's outfit = true love. I'm so happy with all these pieces. The sweater dress is from Old Navy and the fleece-lined tights are from Walmart. Those two were inexpensive and absolutely worth their cost. The boots are in the "investment piece" category for me, but I think they will last for decades and I foresee wearing them many, many times. All around, I think the cost-per-wear on this outfit will be quite low. 

A low cost-per-wear is a goal of mine for almost all of my clothes. I'd love to get good at choosing clothing so that I end up getting a lot of use out of almost everything I buy. I think it's okay if there are a few things that I only wear occasionally - maybe very dressy clothes, or an interview suit. But I don't want to have many things that I almost never wear. I don't need them taking up space in my closet or in my heart.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

45/62: Blue Shirtdress, Grey Leggings, Grey Frye Boots

This dress is machine washable, comfortable, easy to move in, yet it looks nicer than a t-shirt. That works for me! And if I spill something indigo on it, you'll never know.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

44/62: The Evolution of an Outfit. White Button-Down Shirt, Midi Skirt, Boots

I've seen some photos of great outfits involving a midi skirt and then a loose shirt on top. I decided to try to emulate them, and here was my starting point:  

Uh, frumpy, dowdy, blocky, maybe? This wasn't quite right.

I added a belt to create a waistline, and I think it helped a lot! 

It was just kind of heavy on the bottom half, so I changed into short boots instead of tall ones, and now I think this is a cute outfit.

Next time I might try adding some color. Sometimes I think black and white alone can look a little like a waiter's uniform, but a splash of color can fix that. Maybe a colored belt or a scarf? (And I just had a funny vision of adding some crazy, bright, patchwork vest, which is totally not my style, and it made me guffaw out loud!) 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Outfits 41, 42, & 43/62 + A Break From Shopping

Here are my outfits from this weekend and today:


Turtleneck tunic sweater, skinny jeans, and riding boots = one of my uniform outfits. 


Brown cowl sweater, jeans, and metallic booties = another uniform outfit.

Here I mixed it up a bit with a cream turtleneck sweater, galaxy skirt, fleece-lined leggings (I found mine at Walmart, at $8 for a two-pack!), and booties. Secretly, it's kind of my uniform anyway: comfy sweater, cozy leggings, and boots (plus a comfortable skirt on top). But it looks different from my usual!

I also want to tell you about a book that I'm re-reading. I've read it a few times before, and I always find it inspiring and thought-provoking. It's Not Buying It by Judith Levine. For the year of 2003, Judith and her partner, Paul, decided to give up shopping. They pledged to buy only necessities for the full year. They debated and defined for themselves what constituted necessities for them (should we use toilet paper to blow our noses, or do we need kleenex?) 

Now, the book itself is dated. Judith talks a lot about 2004 politics (George W. Bush was president, the country was still thinking a lot about 9/11, etc...) and she is politically very left-leaning, which works for me, but isn't for everyone. I still really like it today, and I'm reading it for the fifth time, so I think it holds up. 

Even if it doesn't appeal to you, the things that I think could be useful for all of us to think about and talk about are: 

1. What constitute neccesseties to you? If you only bought neccessities, what would be off-limits? Processed food that you could make at home? Desserts? Alcohol? Restaurant meals? Can you replace worn-out clothes, or would you have to make do with something you already have?

For Judith and Paul, entertainment was much-missed. Would you give up cable tv? Movies? Live music?

2. How long could you go without buying anything superfluous (by choice, not because you didn't have the money?) I think I might try a month of not buying it and see how it goes. If I don't go to Target, that would make it a lot easier. The next biggest challenge would be the grocery store, which is full of toys and tempting treats that my kids want, want, want! I think my strategy will be to shop alone when Jason is home with the kids. It could be great to break the habit of throwing one more thing in the cart. 

3. Would you make any exceptions? How about special occasions? Gifts for other people? Could I have Jason buy things like presents for other kids' birthday parties?

Do you think you'll give Not Buying It a try sometime this year? 

Friday, January 9, 2015

40/62: Snake-Print Top, Jeans, Vans

This top is a free addition to my capsule wardrobe, since my rules allow me to add whatever I make myself. I whipped it up in a couple hours and plan to make some more in different patterns and lengths. It's just a stretchy, jersey knit fabric, and I used an existing shirt to make the pattern. 

I hope you have a good weekend! We don't have any big plans - and that's just how we like it. 

39/62: Flannel Shirt, Jeans, Black Booties


Hey! Sorry I forgot to post last night. I was so excited that Project Runway Allstars and Portlandia were on, and I was obsessed with learning a new knitting technique. I stayed up too late and as I was finally falling asleep, I remembered that I hadn't posted. Too late. I was beat and had to go to sleep.

Yesterday I wore a simple, comfortable flannel shirt and jeans. That kind of outfit could be really sloppy looking, if the clothes were too baggy. My look is definitely casual, but I don't think it looks slobby. 

Capsule Kitchen update for yesterday: not so good. You guys, I have got to do better at planning ahead. When I know what I'm going to have for each meal (or only have a couple options), it's way easier for me to stick to it. This capsule diet should be limiting my options and helping me in just the way I need - except that my family still has food around that's not on my list. And my kids don't care that I'm trying to prepare a healthy lunch - they need me NOW! If I get too hungry, I might just grab whatever is easiest, like crackers or tortilla chips. 

So my plan is to plan. I need to commit the time to plan out meals and snacks and try to figure out how to get my family on board. It would be great for all of us to eat healthier foods most of the time. I think I'll make a list of foods that my kids already love that are on MY list, and then keep trying to get them to like the rest of my choices. It's so easy to just give in and let them eat what they want - sometimes I get tired and want to take the easy way out. But I'm sure it's worth it to stay strong and keep encouraging them to eat more healthy stuff. 

Anyone have any tips for getting kids to eat more vegetables?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

38/62: Cream Sweater, Red Skirt, Grey Leggings, Grey Frye Boots


I'm trying out this outfit with my grey boots this time, and I love it! I think I like them just as much as my brown riding boots with this red skirt. Sometime I guess I'll probably try a different colored top - maybe. This combo is pretty much perfect for me.

Tonight for my Capsule Kitchen dinner, I had homemade chicken soup. It was pretty good, but I probably should have added garlic for more flavor. Next time!    

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

37/62: White Button-Down Shirt, Green Cardigan, Skinny Jeans, Moccasin Boots

This outfit has some of my favorite riffs this season:
*Bigger top and tighter bottoms
*Warm boots

I'll probably be repeating them a lot through the winter, since they're working well for me. 

On the Capsule Kitchen front, I decided that I need to add some sort of bread. I'm not having much success with sticking to this eating plan without it, so I'm adding English muffins. If something's not working, just change it up, right? 

Today I ate:
Steel cut oats, nut butter, and milk
English muffin sandwich
Seed crackers + guacamole
Spinach pancakes + salad

Monday, January 5, 2015

36/62: Black and White Turtleneck Sweater, Skinny Jeans, Vans

Same old type of outfit: big sweater and skinny jeans + sneakers. I'm very comfortable and happy in my uniform. To make it less boring for you, I added some kids. 

Capsule Kitchen update: I did great this morning, and this afternoon, and for dinner. Then I ate cookies again! I think they must be eradicated from the house so I don't have to try to resist them. I also need to go grocery shopping tomorrow so I'm ready with healthy snacks/treats. Planning and preparation are going to make this work for me! 

Today I ate:
Steel cut oats, nut butter, and milk
Veggie sandwich
Spinach pancakes

Review: Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I read Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, at the end of last year. I liked some things about it, and I disagreed with some things. And some of what she says is pretty much nuts. I think reading ideas that I disagree with is great - it can make me clarify my own thoughts on the subject, or look deeper into why I believe what I do. Also, sometimes when I disagree with something, I'll keep thinking about it and maybe after a while, I'll see that some part (or all!) of the opposing idea works for me. 

Any time we're is trying to make a change, I think it's a great idea to listen to or read or discuss ideas that we don't agree with. If we already had all the answers, why would we need to make a change? There might be something that we need to change our perspective on, or something that we've rejected out of hand. So, let's open our minds and see what gets in there.

I think this quote sums up Kondo's philosophy on decluttering: "I can think of no greater happiness in life than to be surrounded only by the things I love.... All you need to do is to get rid of anything that doesn't touch your heart." (p. 202) Her strategy is that you should go through your entire house and make a decision about every item. So, no skipping over a drawer because you know you want everything in there - dump it out and touch every item and see if it brings you joy. Only keep the joy-bringers.

Kondo is a proponent of the uncommon strategy of going through your whole house as one project. She doesn't believe in throwing out one thing each day, or any other very gradual plans. Yes, it will take you a month or two, but declutter your whole house in one continuous, huge project and she says you'll never have a clutter problem again. You make a dramatic change and it shocks you into changing forever. 

Now, I think the gradual approach can be really great for people who don't have time to do much at once, or who feel overwhelmed with taking on the whole house at one time - or probably for tons of other reasons. But I love the idea of focusing on decluttering the whole house for a month or so and just getting it done. It would feel so awesome! I've done something similar in the past - every time I've moved. But I always skipped over some boxes, drawers, and categories of belongings, assuming that I wanted everything in there - or not feeling up to sorting through it all. This year, I'm going through the whole house and I'm going to try to really look at Every Thing.

I keep thinking about this next quote, and it might be helpful to keep it in my mind while decluttering: "The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life." (p. 182) Wow, thinking about it that way could really help me get rid of things that aren't relevant to me anymore. My old law school books? I will probably never look at them again, so why hold on to them? Do I want to think about "what-ifs" every time I see them? I think I just made a decision to get rid of all those big, expensive books. I don't want to keep thinking about other directions my life could have taken.

Rather than thinking you should follow someone else's rules for how many of each thing you should own, Kondo wants you to find out what you need. "As you reduce your belongings through the process of tidying, you will come to a point where you suddenly know how much is just right for you." (p. 124) I'm obviously a proponent of choosing a number and using that as a guideline (as I've done with choosing my capsule wardrobe components). But, I also tweak my list as needed, to keep it appealing and workable for me. I like that she leaves the quantity up to you.

Now, here are some things I don't agree with:

"When you stand in front of a closet that has been reorganized so that the clothes rise to the right, you will feel your heart beat faster and the cells in your body buzz with energy." (p. 79) I doubt it. I admit, I didn't try it. Please let me know if you do. I just organize by season and by type of clothes. 

Kondo suggests that we throw away ALL papers! I'm not down with that. She says you'll find any manuals online, which might be true. What about receipts? What about things I pull out of magazines that inspire me creatively? She's right that I could get rid of a lot of my papers, but I'm not even trying to throw it all away. 

Kondo says that every item in your house should have a place to be put away. I agree! I would love to establish that at my house. But she takes everything out of her purse at night and puts the contents in a box under her bed. I need my purse ready to go the next day! I also stash things in my car for myself and the kids: snacks, water, mittens, and blankets. She takes this idea too far for me, but I'd like for most things in my house to have a home base.

Here's what I think is kind of crazy:

"Clothes, like people, can relax more freely when in the company of others who are very similar in type, and therefore organizing them by category helps them feel more comfortable and secure." (p. 78) Yikes!

When you give something away, here's what she says becomes of that item: "Freed from its physical form, it will move about your world as energy, letting other things know that you are a special person, and come back to you as the thing that will be of most use to who you are now, the thing that will bring you the most happiness." (p. 192)

She is really into anthropomorphizing inanimate objects, speaking to them, and believing that they want to help us. If that helps anyone to appreciate their belongings, that's great! Reading about it in this book just made me roll my eyes. 

My final thought: don't buy it. If you liked what you read here, or if you just want to read a little different perspective on decluttering, it would be a great library read. It's easy to read and it's interesting to get a peek into Japanese life. Apparently they also love collecting stuff and buying organizational tools to keep it in. 

Oh, she also teaches how to fold up all your clothing like sushi! I didn't try it, but you could!

Outfits 34 & 35/62 + Weekend Capsule Kitchen Recap

Maroon Shirt, Jeans, and Vans = my comfy uniform.

 Brown Turtleneck, Jeans, and Metallic Booties is still pretty comfy, but looks a little more put together. 

And now the Capsule Kitchen update. Saturday was not so good. I did well until about 6pm, when I gave in to the cookie craving and ate a couple chocolate chip cookies. Then we had pizza for dinner. Neither of those foods are on my capsule food list! But, I got back on track Sunday morning and stayed with my plan all day. 

Today I've had steel cut oats with almond butter and milk, plus a banana. So far, so good. 

I'll be back tonight with my book review and today's outfit photo.