Lessons Learned

I've said it before and I’ll say it again: the capsule process is a learning process. In my last post I mentioned making the wrong choice in regards to a white sweater, and how the burden of that poor decision hung in my closet, mocking me, for about three months. Now that I've come into the first week of spring (much more information on that in my next few posts), I’d like to take a minute to dissect all that winter taught me. I went into my first capsule invigorated, inspired and generally optimistic. My mostly neutral closet harbored 40 absolutely adored pieces. Patterned button-ups hung next to thick brown wool coats, each receiving equal billing in the wardrobe rotation. At the start of the winter season, I could honestly say that my closet was full of all my favorite things, and only my favorite things. Then week three hit, and with it,  a 20/20 hindsight vision zoomed into focus.  My goal with the capsule, and with this blog in general, is to maintain a level of humility while simultaneously showcasing what has genuinely worked for me. As early as week three, the capsule revealed some personal stylistic tendencies that I had known existed, yet chose to ignore. Please, indulge me as I outline the good, bad, and all the in between that I discovered this past winter.

Six Takeaways from Winter ‘15

1.     I love blazers.

What is it about a good blazer? I work in an office environment where blazers, while appreciated, aren’t exactly necessary. Thankfully, the capsule process doesn't solely revolve around adhering to office vibes. Many a morning this winter I would wake up, throw something seemingly lackluster on, add a beautifully crafted Theory blazer and voila – I’d have an outfit. There’s just something about a well-fitted blazer that really does it for me. Sadly, I’ll have to retire my white Zara one after this season, but thankfully the black Theory jacket gets to stay a while longer. Plus I’m adding another to the rotation.  Don’t stop ‘till you get enough, amirite?

2.     I don’t wear dresses.

Unless I’m going to a wedding, or heading to the beach, dresses just aren’t my thing right now. I decided to throw a charming LBD in my winter capsule and I ended up wearing it a total of one time. ONCE. Yikes. What a waste of capsule room. Moving forward, I’m heeding Caroline Joy’s advice and keeping a separate fancy affair wardrobe off to the side of my closet with dresses for the three types of weddings Ryan and I attend (Formal, Semi-Formal, Beach/Barn/Camping).  The thing about dresses, however, is that I really want to wear them. I want to be the girl who can throw on a strategically planned sundress and run out the house looking flawless. (BTW, if you don’t already know, 10 Things I Hate About You, Center Stage AND Bring it On are all currently on HBO. YAS QUEEN). The whole dress debacle made me realize that back in January when I was putting my winter wardrobe together, I consciously included ensembles foreign to my comfort zone. I put the black dress in my closet because I wanted to resemble some other fabulous woman - a woman whose Instragram posts are off-the-charts inspiring, but nonetheless, a woman who I am not. The capsule isn’t about stretching to imitate those around you, it’s about identifying personal preferences, playing to your strengths, and cultivating a style that best suits you. My first foray into the capsule process reminded me of the importance of authenticity, even in something as seemingly trivial as your closet. Turns out, I am not a casual dress gal, and that’s okay. You know what type of lady I am?

3.     I love wearing monochrome with a single pop of color.

Especially all black with a brown shoe. Whenever I don this look I always feel effortlessly cool and completely on top of my game. Look for much, much more exploration of the monochrome genre in months to come.

4.     I need something between a blazer and an army jacket.

Turns out, sometimes my beloved blazers are a bit much for an occasion, but a casual army or funky leather jacket are not quite enough. My winter capsule lacked the “just right” outerwear option.  I needed something to wear to work functions that hit the middle ground between casual and structured. Hopefully the addition of a gray sweater this spring will fill that semi-casual void.

5.     I like buying nice things.

Wow. That sentence. I mean, sorry.  The greatest lesson learned from my first go-round at this capsule business is that I am capable of comfortably scaffolding my purchases to build a closet comprised solely of high quality items. I just can’t do it all at once.

I sold a great deal of clothes at various consignment stores this season, and while I typically would have shopped around a bit while there, I felt confident in curbing the temptation to casually browse the rows of mostly cheap, used clothing, and instead, I put my energy into research. Rather than making hasty decisions (i.e. the white sweater) this spring I chose to WAIT to buy until I felt confident that I had spent some time searching out the best item to fill my spring closet. Don’t get me wrong, I am and will always be a bargain hunter through and through, I’m just a little more selective now than I used to be. The capsule wardrobe is a lesson in minimalism, and also patience. As a person who used to use shopping as a mood elevator and means to instant gratification, this shift in mindset is huge. 

6.     I bought things before my designated two weeks to do so.

GASP! We’re real talking, here, right? I totally caved and shopped at several points over the course of my three-month winter capsule. Each purchase was painstakingly deliberate, however, and therein lies the difference from my previous spending habits. I chose to break the hiatus to capitalize on a massive Madewell sale + coupon that I had received in-store some months prior, and that was about to expire. I researched, I tried on, and I pulled the trigger on a pair of jeans that my wardrobe has been in desperate need of. And I also felt guilty about it, because for the most part, I like to adhere to some semblance of rules. The thing about the capsule, however, is that all the guiding principles of whittling down a wardrobe are meant to help you achieve a new perspective on consumption. It’s less about the when and more about the why.  Even though I bought something when I “wasn’t supposed to,” the shift in perspective has already taken hold. I consider what I buy in a much different light than I ever have before, and I am very excited to continue grow (and document) this new mentality.