Sunday, August 18, 2013

the summer capsule wardrobe

recently I realized I have too many clothes, and it's ruining my style. I can't find anything in my wardrobe because it's so packed, and everything is double-hung. unseasonal clothes are crammed into suitcases under the bed and garments are piled on chairs and thrown on the floor. at some point, navigating my wardrobe became so difficult that i dressed almost exclusively off the floor - whatever i had pulled down and maybe worn for a few hours would become my go-to garment for the next week, or two, or three. the rest of what i had was rotting away and i would find things i didn't realize i owned on a weekly basis. i needed a change.

the 'capsule wardrobe' is something that has appealed to me for a long time, but it has also terrified me. maybe because i didn't have a lot to wear when i suddenly started to like fashion, i developed a hoarding mindset about clothes where i would take what i could get, which at the time meant more outfit possibilities. later, i had a hard time defining my style to myself and dressed completely differently every day based on my mood, so the endless possibilities served my purposes well. the idea of paring down my closet to a few key pieces seemed unrealistic after a decade of hoarding (and taking very good care of) clothing, and, more importantly, my apartment is so tiny i don't really have anywhere to store the rest of my clothes except my closet. and i like them all.

last year this was already becoming a problem so i purged everything i didn't love/wasn't wearing and tried to sell it, but i was still left with too much clothing that i do like and do eventually intend to wear. so what did i do?

nothing, until now. as i've mentioned before i've been going through some pretty intense changes in body shape in the last few months and since the winter i have been unable to squeeze myself into most of my clothes. this made the whole jumble of clothes in my closet seem, increasingly, like my enemy. i would spend an hour in there and not find anything that fit.

so finally, when i realized i had an old ikea clothing rack left over from last year's clothing sale, i did it. that is, i did the next best thing... a temporary capsule wardrobe separated from the rest of my clothes. the rack is moveable so, although it takes up space, i can move it around when it gets in the way. it couldn't be that bad, right? i really only resolved to give it a 'test run' for a month and revisit the idea later.

it's been a month and i thought this would be a good thing to write about. to start off with, some of the things i have in the capsule wardrobe:

zara; handmade in greece; handmade in greece
 these three pairs of flat sandals became my go-to shoes this summer because they're all comfortable, in neutral tones, and with classic shapes that are a little different than the typical sandal. the foam sole and thick straps of the white zara sandals gives outfits a modern and athletic vibe, while the lace-up sandals strike me as kind of mythological looking. i also wore my white and pink oxfords frequently since they are both made of soft, supple leather and of course, they're flat. i can't bring myself to wear heels in the summer.

thrifted silk dress (unlabeled)
 this printed silk slipdress is one of a few i have in my closet which fit me this summer, but i think the others were featured in earlier outfit posts. i am really drawn to breezy, feminine silk dresses in classic silhouettes for the summer since they are really the easiest outfit to put on and the easiest to transform with accessories. this one is also blue and white, my favourite colour combination ever (this is one thing that has not changed over the years). it reminds me of pottery.
winners; winners; buffalo via winners
 i think i have mentioned before that i love the flattering shape of a wide, short top, especially with high-waisted bottoms. but i also like to show a hint of my figure, so my favourite oversized tops are made of sheer lace and chiffon which gives a light, shrouded effect that i like in every season.

winners; mexx outlet
 and of course as far as tops go, indestructible silks and cottons (especially in white) are my favourite option for when i want an outfit to be effortless but perfect. i don't think i ever feel ugly or awkward in a good silk blouse and they go with everything i try them with.

club monaco; zara
 speaking of things that go with everything, i've been on a quest for a perfect white cotton tank or tee for... probably years, and i am really hard to please because i have all sorts of neuroses about the cut of the neckline and the thickness of the fabric and how soft it is and how it fits but somehow i finally managed to find a white tank i love, on sale at zara. the asymmetric tank above matches my skin exactly (to the point that it's creepy) and fits perfectly as well, but what i really love about it is that it's made of cupro, which is a fabric i've just recently seen in stores. it feels like space-age silk and wears really well, and i can drop my anti-synthetic bias for it gladly.

club monaco lingerie
 loose silk shorts (and pants) have been my go-to bottoms this season, as i'm sure you can tell if you have seen any of my outfit posts recently. they're more flattering than skirts are with my current body type and are easier to pair with strangely silhouetted tops, but they're so comfortable they feel like sleepwear (or in this case, they literally are sleepwear). and i've been wearing them printed to add some visual interest, whether i'm wearing a white top or several other prints at once.

zara via ebay
 this silk kimono has been my single favourite item of clothing this season because 1. it looks and feels like pyjamas, 2. it goes with everything, and 3. it makes me forget all my insecurities on days when i just don't want anyone to see my legs, or waist, or anything.  this is an alternative to the usual 'blazer' that goes into a capsule wardrobe, because i don't really like blazers and because i don't work in an office (well, i do, but not that kind of office).

calvin klein via winners; wacoal via winners

and the most important thing, for me at least, is good underwear. i find it hard to find bras in my size (32DD), especially ones which aren't padded and cleavage-creating, and it's really important for me because of how many sheer tops i wear. my underwear needs to be at least as beautiful as the shirt i'm wearing. a basic black bra goes with every outfit, and the brighly printed calvin klein bra above gives monochrome outfits some visual interest. the straps are also so pretty i can actually wear it with dresses made for small-breasted girls who don't need bras, and it doesn't ruin the effect entirely.

with these things in my mini wardrobe, i barely needed anything else. i grabbed blouses or dresses from my 'real' wardrobe every few days to pair with things on this rack, but then i usually knew exactly what i wanted and didn't bother going through things that didn't fit my body or the weather. and i stopped wearing outfits i didn't like. i began to wear things i loved every single day.

the best part about having about 20-30 items on a rack (and a little shelf) within easy reach was that it took me no time at all to get dressed in the morning, even when i woke up 10 minutes before work started or was late to meet someone to go out. i was confident that everything there fit, and it all goes together. and since the rack is not packed full, it was easy to hang clothes up again rather than throwing them on the floor and wrinkling them.

the main caveat is that all this was only possible because i have found my style developing more consistency lately. i don't feel much like playing with drastically different styles and moods anymore, as having a style identity seems to give me more confidence than being a chameleon once did. if i wanted to switch styles frequently and wear a lot of trends, i don't think it would have been easy.

but as it is, i think i will continue this experiment past the end of the month and i'm actually excited to put together a capsule for fall, which will look very different. look forward to a post on that too, and hopefully it won't be as long and rambling!

what about you? do you like the concept of a capsule wardrobe? how do you choose what to wear every day? i'd love to hear from my readers. cheers, and see you in 2 weeks after my vacation!

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