Friday, July 24, 2015

My Encapsulate Summer Wardrobe

My first experience with a capsule wardrobe has been really interesting.  I am so enjoying having fewer items but more versatility in my wardrobe and I find getting dressed to be a pleasure again.  I can finally open one side of my closet only and see everything that's on offer.  My final summer capsule wardrobe barely resembles what I initially chose and that's fine with me.  I anticipated that this first go would be a learning experience and involve a lot of changes.

Years ago when I worked as a sign language interpreter within the public school board, my wardrobe was almost entirely black.  Black, as well as other dark colours, are ideal as your hands are instantly and clearly visible.  After I left the field and returned to being a medical secretary, I weeded out almost all the black from my wardrobe; rather like shedding a skin of my former professional self.  It was only after turning 40 that I really began to miss having the ease and simplicity of black in my wardrobe.  This coincided with my new found appreciation of grey - a lovely but slightly softer neutral than black.

As I've said previously, I have been enamoured of but intimidated by the effortless style curated by French women, Parisians in particular.  After reading Parisian Chic, as well as a lot of minimalist blogs, I found my confidence and began ruthlessly editing my initial capsule wardrobe.  I also cemented my personal colour palette, which made the editing much easier.

I've happily added a few black pieces back into my wardrobe but they are by no means the leading player.  Pink, navy, and white are the front runners with grey and black as my secondary colours.  They all play nicely together as well as with the tiny pops of turquoise which I've included for interest.   I have also embraced a new love for jersey pieces; the comfort, ease, and versatility are unmatched.  Gillian has been particularly helpful in this area, acting as both a coach and enabler, which was exactly what I needed.  Her generous spirit is so lovely, isn't it?  Her encouragement gave me the boost I needed to become more confident in making knit garments.

I have honed my personal 'uniform' of tees, skirts, tunics, and trousers, as well as embracing my fuller figure by adding back more fitted pieces, like my new grey jersey pencil skirt.  I am using this formula, with a few seasonal tweaks, to guide me in making smart choices for this and future capsule wardrobes.  I like to have at least one or two novelty items available to wear - see the new Tardis tunic above?  Watch out for a knit Marvel Comics superheros pencil skirt come fall..

I write a lot of lists.  I like lists.

I didn't photograph every item in this season's capsule simply because several were in the laundry but I do want to hold myself accountable here and ensure that I do follow the practices I've set out for myself.  I have eliminated excess hangers from my wardrobe (I have a maximum of 40 now) so I am not tempted to shop or sew pieces I don't really need.  I have thrown myself fully into planning my fall capsule wardrobe and am making up some new pieces with delectable jerseys, pontes, and French terrys from Denver Fabrics.

So, until the weather cools and the leaves start to change, I will be wearing the following items.  If I have blogged about them previously, I've linked to the post. 

My Summer Capsule Wardrobe
  1. Grey tank (Renfrew hack)
  2. White tank (Sorbetto)
  3. Pin dot tee (Club Monaco, thrifted)
  4. Stripe tee (Old Navy)
  5. Grey tee (Denver Hayes, thrifted)
  6. Navy cropped tee (Laurel hack)
  7. White cowl neck jersey tee 
  8. Grey linen/jersey tee
  9. Sequin cowl tee (McCall's 6563)
  10. White dotted Swiss top (Salme Kimono Tee with altered neckline)
  11. White linen tunic (Colette Patterns Laurel)
  12. Tardis tunic (Colette Patterns Laurel)
  13. Grey dot chambray tunic (Colette Patterns Laurel)
  14. White dotted Swiss dirndl skirt (self-drafted)
  15. Black stripe maxi skirt (Simplicity 7341)
  16. Black tulip wrap skirt (Joe Fresh, thrifted)
  17. Raspberry voile maxi skirt (Simplicity 7341)
  18. Grey jersey pencil skirt (McCall's 5590) 
  19. Black jersey pencil skirt (McCall's 5590)
  20. Tuxedo dress (Simplicity 3673)
  21. Navy linen shift dress (Colette Patterns Laurel + BHL Anna hack)
  22. Grey jersey cowl neck dress
  23. Navy stripe maxi dress (4 pattern hack)
  24. Turquoise stripe maxi dress (4 pattern hack)
  25. Navy linen trousers (Vogue 2128)
  26. Pink linen trousers (Vogue 2128)
  27. Lightweight denim skinny jeans (thrifted)
  28. Seamly black convertible pantsuit
  29. White leggings
  30. Black leggings
  31. Pink Miette cardigan
  32. Grey Miette cardigan
  33. White cropped cardigan
  34. Grey chambray newsboy cap
  35. Black ballet flats
  36. Onyx Birkenstock Gizeh
  37. Mirror rose gold Birkenstock Mayari

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


I have a hat to add to my capsule wardrobe! I did make a white linen cloche last year that I loved but my daughter stole it! I'm happy to have finally filled this wardrobe gap.  The pattern is dead simple to sew and turns out a cute newsboy style cap.  I used some leftover dotted chambray and lined it in simple white cotton.  I finished the raw edges with some handmade Liberty bias tape for a bit of luxury. 

I have fair British skin and burn in the sun.  I also get sunstroke easily so a hat is a necessity.  I haven't decided yet if I should sew buttons on the band at either end of the brim.  Hmmm...  I did buy the children's version of this pattern knowing my daughter's history of nicking my stuff!  Yes, it's started already!

I'm wearing two items from my capsule wardrobe today:  a Renfrew tank hack with a ruched front and a simple stripey maxi skirt in delectable Riley Blake jersey.  I know you're used to seeing me in much brighter colours but it is nice to have the simplicity of grey and black back in my wardrobe. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


My capsule wardrobe continues to evolve and I am enjoying the process.   It has become less about ruthlessly adhering to a set number of items (I am a dedicated rule-follower, after all) and more about exploring what my basics are and how to use them effectively in my capsule wardrobe.  I have long been drawn to the Parisian aesthetic; the sleek, crisp, and sophisticated look that French women so effortlessly portray.  The only drawback for me was the overabundance of black - I need more colour in my wardrobe in order to feel content. 

With that in mind, I borrowed Ines de la Fressange's book, Parisian Chic, from my library and I really liked  it.  I love the library for test-driving books, don't you? The book is set up like a relaxed conversation and personal tour of Paris with Ines.  It's casual, personable, and, ultimately, makes the Parisian aesthetic seem achievable, regardless of where you live.  That was a big relief to me as I was initially intimidated by this concept.  While I won't be adding a blazer to my capsule wardrobe anytime soon (I hate them) and I am undecided about white skinny jeans (will they flatter my figure?), it was easy to read her suggestions and tailor them to what I'm looking for in redefining my own personal style. 


Today's outfit was inspired by this pin.  I loved the look immediately and knew I could replicate this look easily.  I like how it appears polished even though it is made of of relaxed pieces, which is reallly what I'm after.  I have a more fuller figure than I used to and I am still figuring out how to dress it (things shift and slide after you turn 40, let me tell you!) but the overall simplicity of this look really resonated.  Two basics pieces and I would feel comfortable and polished. 

I sewed McCall's 5590, View C and I ended up having to chop off 6 inches from the skirt!  I'm pretty short at 5'3" but that was still a surprise.  I sewed a size 14 based on my measurements and will take in about an inch on the front on the next version I make in black jersey.  I have a generous behind so no adjustments are needed there!  Just for fun I used light pink thread for topstitching and I'm so happy that my twin needle finally works!

The light grey jersey goes with every single top in my capsule wardrobe and is so easy to wear.  It's also effortless to care for - just wash and dry - which is so important to me.  I do not have the time to deal with garments that need dry cleaning.   I bought the top from Old Navy about 2 years ago and it almost didn't make the cut.  Looking at this outfit, I am so glad I went with my gut and kept it.  It's another great basic that goes with every single skirt and pair of trousers in my capsule wardrobe.  You can't beat that with a stick, can you? 

What are your wardrobe basics?  Are you experimenting with capsule wardrobes or do you love a large wardrobe?