This post miniseries on Cleaning out your Closet is part of my project #minimize: the the project where I get rid of all the things. It’s an awesome project. And it comes from a deep-rooted place in my soul – which is why you should check back on Thursdays to see all of the small yet awesome ways you can downsize clutter and live like a minimalist. If you want to know more about why I’m doing this project, read the first post.
In my last #minimize post I rounded out my Closet Clean Out miniseries with some discussion on my approach to managing my seasonal capsule wardrobes. This week I wanted to share my full round-up on the winter capsule wardrobe. First, let me share two points that will help to clarify this project and why this post is coming out in mid-April.
One. I didn’t set out to develop a “capsule” wardrobe this winter. Changing my wardrobe over with the seasons is something I do quarterly, as the weather dictates. Now that spring has FINALLY sprung here in New England (weeks later than expected), I’m finally ready to store away all of the bulky comforts winter requires: thick wool socks, bulky layering sweaters only suited for temperatures under 25°F, down vests, insulated leggings, base layers, and over layers. Spring requires some of these items, but certainly not all of them. And that’s why I rotate my wardrobe seasonally, which you can read more about in this post.
Two. As they say, “hind sight is 20-20”. Rather than deciding ahead of the season what I would need, I eased into my first ‘official’ capsule wardrobe mid-way through a season. I already had things that I preferred to wear and I could see a pattern in terms of what I chose to wear every day. My minimize series started out as a way to manage clutter in our home, now that we’re settled and now that things are starting to creep into corners and spaces. Taking on my wardrobe, and doing so in the middle of a season, was random timing. And if I had to choose it again, I would certainly recommend mid-season as your moment to determine a wardrobe. Not the beginning, when there is SO much unknown about the weather, and not necessarily at the end when it’s too late to wear the things you could have.
So as we (finally) leave winter behind, I thought it would be a fun test and point of interest to look at what my winter capsule wardrobe consisted of, what I got the most wear out of, and what I’m keeping for next season and next year.
Winter Capsule: The Final Count
Remember when I talked about seasonal clothing? I made a bit of a nose-cringe at the concept of capsule wardrobe because of the “rule” attached to 35 things. I’m not getting into that here, but if you want to learn more from the creator of the capsule wardrobe and what her take on sticking to that number is (short version: number is just a number, the point is to focus on seasonal dressing and minimize over-investment), you can hear all about it in this podcast of The Lively Show where Jess Lively interviews the minimalist fashion blogger Caroline Rector of Unfancy.
This winter I wore: 14 tank tops, 7 pairs of pants, 5 sweaters & dresses, 4 vests, 6 sweaters & jackets – for a total of 36 pieces of clothing. Imagine that. I accidentally hit that number completely by chance. I think the difference maker is that if I added my shoes (4 pairs), my jacket (2 jackets), a few random shirts (3 shirts), and my accessories (4 hats, 4 pairs of gloves/mittens, 2 pairs of slippers, 3 bags), you would start to arrive closer to the number that I expected: 22 extra items + 36 base items = 58 items worn this winter. And that doesn’t include the occasional pieces that I wore to a few fancy events. And it also doesn’t include my exercise wear or my sleep wear.
Base Layer: 14 Tanks
In the heart of the coldest parts of a New England winter, I dress in several layers, and it all starts with the layering tank. Really, I could rotate a minimum of 3 between the weeks, since they’re just a base layer and it’s too cold to sweat. But when I was pregnant and nursing Max, these babies were the go-to beginning of my every day wear. I have a lot of them. Different sizes in the same base colors and a few for variety. Because the rotation is so low (I probably wear them each only a few washes per season), I can keep them for now through the next several decades without concern. At $10 each, it’s not a bad investment.
Bottoms: 7 Pairs of Pants
This winter, there were FAR too many days that were too cold for jeans. Yes, warm weather friends, that’s actually possible. And on those cold days, I turn to leggings. I can hike up warm socks nearly to my knees, cover those in tall boots, and between that and my long sweaters, I’m pretty warm on most days. But on the really REALLY cold days, I have my insulated leggings. Yes, I’m talking about the ones made by performance winter gear companies. I’m talking seriously warm pants for seriously cold days. And, on the warmer ones, I turn to jeans. But there’s a reason there is only one pair in this list: it was a really REALLY cold and snowy winter. (Also, there is a pair missing from the picture – I can count, I promise!)
Tops: 5 Sweaters & Dresses
What can I say – I’m a dresses kind of lady. In the winter, especially when I’m working from home, the long, clean, simple sweater dress is an easy choice. It keeps me warm. It looks nice. And it’s easy to build off of. As you’ll see, we’re not even close to done with my daily wears for the year.
Tip: I happened to buy all five of these in one clearance sale on a random day just after they stocked the shelves. They were each under $15 a piece and, for the amazing deal that they were, I decided to just buy them all. And I’m SO happy I did – because it’s all I wore this winter.
Extra Layers: 4 Vests
Sweaters and dresses are awesome, but they don’t have pockets. So in addition to adding just an extra bit of warmth to my body (which was necessary more days than not), these vests also gave me a place to keep my phone while I was toddler-wrangling at indoor play places. Because it feels like that’s all I did this winter.
Only one of them is new this winter and it was a gift. For the most part, vests tend to stay in good condition for long periods of time. One of them (and I won’t say which one), I’ve had for at least 15 years. Maybe even longer. But that’s what happens when you have a niche item that only gets worn a few times, even in its season. It stays in good condition.
Top Layer: 6 Sweaters & Jackets
For the REALLY REALLY cold days, a vest wasn’t enough. On those days, I added one of my super comfy sweaters or my fleece. We keep our house pretty warm all winter, but even with the under-desk heater blasting, I just couldn’t stay warm. And this is when I used my warm sweaters. You know – the kind that you only wear around people who don’t care about your appearance – and/or the kind you only wear when everyone else is just as cold as you, and you’re all just like ‘forget it, I just want to be warm’. That’s what these sweaters are for. And I’m obsessed with all of them.
All of these are new this year. One of them was purchased during the amazing clearance sale when I bought the other sweaters. One of them was the fleece I purchased because I had to make an emotional/life change (it was $5, the fact that it was a blog post was more of a story), and the other two were generous gifts from my sister who loves me and was probably tired of seeing me wear that terrible company jacket too. (Missing from the picture: my red fleece, which you’ll see at the end of the post).
Winter Capsule Meets Self Portrait Project
I can’t think of a better way to bring together two of my favorite projects from this year than to combine them in this post. This certainly doesn’t account for all of my outfits, since many of the pictures were taken early in the morning and late at night, but you get a sense of what my wardrobe is. In many ways, it feels like a personalized uniform of my choice. Something that has all of the same pieces, but is brought together in a lot of fun, different, ways. And it’s a lot of fun to see all of these pictures in one place. So here you go.
Note: at the end of March, you begin to see previews for my Spring capsule. Don’t let the pictures spoil the surprise! That will come in a few weeks.
There you have it, folks! FINALLY my winter capsule wardrobe – complete. Next week we’re going to talk about cleaning up technology – and I know a lot of you are excited about this, so stay tuned on THURSDAY (I promise, Thursday this time!), for the next segment of Minimize.