Over the years, my wardrobe has gone through many iterations, as I’ve chased the perfect basics, incorporated new trend pieces, or tried to focus on elements of a certain style. But it’s never quite been ‘enough’. Some of this is part and parcel of sharing my wardrobe and my outfits online – though I do try to keep a focus on re-wearing the items that I love – and some of this is just down to a simple shopping mistake. But when is enough, enough? And at what point do you feel content with your wardrobe?
Looking back, starting a capsule wardrobe all those years ago was a precursor on my journey to contentment. For me, being content has a lot to do with identifying with my personal style, and sourcing the items that I truly love wearing. For you, this might look different. It might be more focused on creating a fulfilling wardrobe that eradicates your desire to shop, or identifying and wearing only the items that make you feel comfortable and confident.
WEAR ONLY WHAT YOU LOVE
The key to a happy (and content) wardrobe is one that’s filled with pieces that you love – you know, those items that you are going to reach for day in and day out. I’m fairly ruthless with my wardrobe, and if something just isn’t working for me, then I’m pretty quick to either sell it on, or donate it to someone in need. This helps to keep my wardrobe streamlined, and stocked with garments that truly give me joy.
REMEMBER THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE IT ALL
I used to count down the days until Karen Walker’s latest collection would drop in stores. I’d take a half day just so I could spend the morning trying on the new season collection, and plan out exactly which pieces I needed to have, and what I could actually afford. If I saw an incredible pair of shoes on another blogger, I’d scour the internet until I managed to track them down. Once I bought them, the happiness they brought me was fleeting, and it’s safe to say, it’s unlikely that any of those items are still in my wardrobe.
YOU CAN’T BUY CONTENTMENT
Perhaps my biggest Achilles heel is that I’m an emotional shopper. Whether I’ve suffered some kind of loss, had a string of bad luck, or am just feeling a little overwhelmed and stressed, a new purchase has often been my (temporary) band-aid of choice for those problems. I’m aware, as much as the next person, that you can’t buy contentment. To me, it’s a state of mind; of identifying that you are happy with what you have, that you literally have enough.
YOU’LL HAVE MORE OPTIONS WITH LESS
My attitude to my wardrobe changed when I started to streamline it, and part with anything that I wasn’t really reaching for. I became more receptive to experimenting with the items that I did own, and found that I could create so many more outfits, without all the additional ‘noise’. Don’t underestimate how inspired you’ll feel, when you have a closet full of items that you love wearing.
What does being content with your closet look like for you?
I might be a total summer baby at heart, but in all honesty, by the time February rolls around, I’m usually pretty ready to escape the humidity for cooler weather. And it probably helps that this year, I’m really excited about my autumn wardrobe. I’ve stopped compromising when it comes to new wardrobe additions, and have stocked up on some incredible quality staples, that I can’t wait to start rolling into rotation.
I’ve defined my style – for the most part – so the season ahead is more about focusing on the pieces that I have in my closet that work for me, and complementing them with the odd new addition. I’ve been adding a few pre-loved items to my wardrobe from The Real Real, in addition to relying on my favourites such as Everlane and Grana to fill in any gaps. So, here’s what I’ll be focusing on…
MORE DENIM. I’m pretty spoilt for choice when it comes to most parts of my wardrobe, but one area I really wanted to focus on for autumn is denim. I’ve been wearing skinny jeans since I was 14, and while I’d usually stick to my comfort zone, I really enjoyed embracing the ‘mom’ jean last year, and would love to try out a few new styles as cooler weather approaches to see if anything sticks, though the classics will always be king. I took advantage of the recent spend and save at Shopbop, and grabbed a pair of Levi’s wedgie jeans in a light wash denim, some classic Levi’s 501s (sadly, not right for me), and I finally got my hands on a classic skinny crop with frayed hems from RE/DONE. Then for something a little different, I also bought a pair of kick crop jeans from Everlane. I’m a sucker for frayed hems and I thought the slim fit through the waist and subtle kick flare at the ankle would be a flattering combination. These are still on their way but I can’t wait to pair them with a low heel, striped top and a blazer. Finally, I’m on the hunt for a good straight leg jean. This seems to be the hardest one to get right, as so many pairs that I’ve tried have been either too long in the leg, or made me look much wider than I actually am. If you have any good recommendations, please let me know in the comments section below!
OVERSIZED KNITS. Earlier this year, I took advantage of the post-Christmas and Boxing day sales to pick up a thick roll neck wool sweater from Joseph (also available here), and while it’s a bright ivory colour, it’s one of those pieces that I know will work really well with the rest of my wardrobe. It’s very relaxed, and has a subtle ribbed knit detail down the sleeves and back, which turn it from something basic, to something special. It’s really inspired me for the season to come, and helped me to think about my wardrobe (and how I want it to look) a little differently. Expect to see this knit sweater, plus a few others, in regular rotation, worn with denim skirts or wool trousers, and a low block heel.
NEUTRAL TONES. I’d say I’m definitely guilty of wearing too much black, and that’s something I’m planning to change this autumn. You may have seen from my recent outfit posts, that I’m starting to incorporate earthy tones into my wardrobe, and I’ve been loving mixing things up, especially as I find that wearing all black can look a little too severe once my tan has completely faded. Next on my list is to look at getting a nice pair of beige wool trousers (Uniqlo is my favourite for trousers – they’re so easy to care for and affordable too!). Thankfully, in Sydney you can still bare a little ankle throughout autumn and winter so I have a pretty good feeling that this won’t be a bad wardrobe investment.
A CHECK BLAZER. The check blazer seems to be on everyone’s blazer, and I certainly haven’t been immune to it. Blazers have been making a comeback in my wardrobe in a big way, and one of my latest additions has been this gorgeous longline check blazer, which I was gifted by Storm. Given that the focal colour palette of the jacket is grey, I feel like this is a good neutral piece, and the cut is incredibly flattering. Expect to see this pop up in outfit posts very soon.
BOOTS. One of my favourite autumn and winter wardrobe staples has to be a good pair of boots; they’re the perfect transitional piece and I tend to rely on them as my footwear of choice as soon as it gets cold. I decided to invest in the boss boot from Everlane late last year, and have really loved wearing these, as limited as that’s been given I got them just as the weather really heated up here in Sydney. My newest addition, is this pair of buckle boots which were sent to me from Jo Mercer, that are a little bit edgier, and not only have a higher heel, but a narrower fit at the ankle – two things I really like. Finally, I decided to buy a pair of Marc Fisher suede boots last year, in part to see how they stacked up against the Acne Studios jensen boots, and also in part because I wanted a lighter coloured suede boot in my wardrobe. In short, these are the perfect dupe for the Acne boots, and so much more worth the investment – they give you that designer look for less, and are a fraction of the price point, while still being incredibly well made. I have been thinking about also adding a chestnut brown coloured pair of boots to my wardrobe too, though I’m yet to see anything that has really jumped out at me.
A look back through my archives will tell you a lot that you might want to know about my style story. The key pieces that are repeat offenders in daily looks, to the wardrobe mistakes which are left to languish in the back of my closet, the journey to ’perfecting’ my style has been filled with twists and turns, and a few revelations along the way.
I looked up to bloggers like Rumi Neely, Lulu Chang, Jane Aldridge and Aimee Song, and you could see how their influence clearly punctuated elements of my style. Shopping became a pastime; something that I did for fun or as a means of escapism, neither of which I’d consider inherently healthy.
This will probably come as a bit of a surprise, but I didn’t always have the same love of fashion that I have now. As an adolescent, my daily outfits were dictated by my mum, so I never developed that passion for putting together an outfit, purely because I didn’t have the opportunity. My spare time was spent playing outdoors, reading, or developing storylines for my extensive collection of Sylvanian Families.
Fashion may not have been my first priority, yet I still managed to have a well stocked wardrobe. Growing up with grandparents who had immigrated to New Zealand following World War II, there was a huge emphasis on using and wearing what you had. The vast majority of my wardrobe was lovingly hand made my by Yiaya (who worked for many years as a seamstress), and supplemented by oversized sweaters and leggings that made the perfect companions when climbing trees and clambering across school playgrounds.
Looking back now, mum was always someone that I looked up to growing up; not only was she my biggest role model, but I always admired the elegance of her outfits, which became a huge influence over how I dressed as I grew older. She put a lot of thought and consideration into her daily appearance, and I think it’s safe to say that those are qualities which have rubbed off on me.
It wasn’t until I started intermediate school that I started to have a little bit of an interest in fashion. Mum no longer picked out my outfits, and I found myself expressing parts of my personality through what I was wearing. There was the phase where I wore snap pants and a Janet Jackson tee almost daily with a pair of silver platform sneakers, followed pretty quickly by a phase that saw me wear baggy ‘skater’ pants with oversized skate shoes. It was a look, and I didn’t stray from it; now that I think back on it, I had a pretty strong style uniform, which was based around a few key pieces that I wore on rotation. Mostly, I think I wore whatever it was that my friends were wearing. As a young teen, there’s a lot of pressure to conform and fit in, and as someone who was subjected to an inordinate amount of bullying during those early teenage years, I wanted to blend in with the crowd, and my style was a way that I felt I could do this. And what I wore was pretty basic. Little singlets with dark wash denim and converse sneakers.
It was during that transition from college to university that I really started to experiment with my style. But while I worried less about what others thought, I seemed to be in a real hurry to grow up. My wardrobe started to fill up with items that would form the foundation of a good work wardrobe; classic white shirts, high waisted black skirts, blazers and peep toe heels. Practicality clearly didn’t factor into my outfit choices, given I was a Political Science student at a university known for its steep hills.
As I wrapped up my university years, and moved into full time work, I truly started to find myself experimenting more with my style, whether that was with colour, silhouette, texture and trends. I was living at home, and was being paid a decent wage, a lot of which I was putting into my closet. Not only was I experimenting more, but I was starting to ‘invest’ in my wardrobe, with contemporary brands like Karen Walker, Lover, 3.1 by Phillip Lim, Isabel Marant and Carven. It was a case of quality and quantity, though items were coming into my wardrobe just as quickly as they were leaving it. Simply put, I liked experimenting, but there was no real longevity to the items that I was buying, regardless of how much I’d actually spent. Many of my friends on the other hand, didn’t quite share the same interest in fashion as me.
The biggest contributor to my (ever-growing and ever-changing) wardrobe had to be when I discovered eBay. I started to buy items just because they were a good deal, or because I’d set out to create an archive of items from labels like Lover and Karen Walker. It was also a time that I started to become a little more conscious of what others thought of my outfits, particularly as I added overtly feminine or saccharine pieces to my wardrobe, which were a departure from the previously ‘classic’ style I had focused so heavily on.
And then while looking for new blogs to read, I discovered Dead Fleurette, and slowly as I sifted through the archives of her wardrobe journey, my own attitude towards my wardrobe and style started to shift. Her wardrobe became an example to look up to, of what a minimal closet could look like, and I started to take a much more analytical approach to my wardrobe – more so than ever before. I made lists of what the perfect wardrobe would look like, and started to cull anything that didn’t fit within that vision. My shopping habits hadn’t exactly changed, but what I was shopping had. I started to develop a rather unhealthy obsession with dressing like a Parisian (which I want to delve into further in another post), but often I found that many of the items I was buying which fit the style I was trying to emulate, weren’t quite right for my body. During this phase, I found that I was frequently leaving the house in outfits that I thought I should be wearing, even if I felt uncomfortable wearing a certain silhouette.
Perhaps the thing that still continues to surprise me is just how much my style seems to have evolved in the short time that we’ve been living in Sydney. I sold up a lot of my wardrobe before we moved here, narrowing my colour palette further to focus firmly on neutral tones, which without question, make getting dressed each morning easier than if you had a closet full of colour. I tried out capsule wardrobes, and made an effort to shop with more intention, and be less vulnerable to trends.
In that time span, my lifestyle has changed tremendously. I’ve gone from working in a corporate setting to a creative environment, and from weekends spent shopping or eating lunch at a local cafe, to pottering around at home with our three pets. With that, the needs of my wardrobe have changed. As have my attitudes. I’m less concerned with keeping up with current trends (though I am partial to the odd one), instead choosing to appreciate what isn’t right for me from afar. I’ve put less of an emphasis on investing top dollar in your wardrobe, as I’ve come to realise that price doesn’t always dictate quality – a shift in thinking which has really seen me gravitate towards brands like Everlane and Grana.
Though, if there’s one thing I’m still trying to figure out, it’s where my style story will lead me to next.
During my 20s, I’ve developed a lot more confidence in the way I dress, and knowing what is and isn’t right for me, yet there still seems to be a disconnect between the way I’d like to dress, and the way I’m currently dressing now.
How has your style evolved as you’ve grown older? x
It’s been quite a while since I gave up the capsule wardrobe, in favour of a more relaxed approach (or some might just say normal) to my closet, however I do still get the occasional person asking me if I’d ever consider reverting back to a capsule wardrobe. In part, I wonder if it’s mostly due to the fact that my closet has been riddled with purchases which I’ve later come to realise just aren’t right (or that I have multiples of), and while I may have made more wardrobe mistakes than most, I’m relatively happy with the current contents, and the direction that I’m hoping to take my style in this year.
ON WHY I TRIED THE CAPSULE WARDROBE
I’ve always considered myself to be quite an analytical person, and given my interest in personal style and fashion in general, that analytical approach becomes two-fold where my closet is concerned. Before I embarked on my capsule wardrobe journey, I used to keep a list which detailed each item in my wardrobe by category, which I frequently updated with each new purchase or cull. I would use this list to mark out how many times I wore each piece, with the aim of getting at least 30 wears per item; only naturally, I would refer to this in the morning to ensure that my closet was in regular rotation. There’s that common adage that we use just 20% of our wardrobe, 80% of the time, and I was so focused on debunking that ‘myth’ – I wanted my wardrobe to be perfect, and full of staple pieces that I felt excited to wear.
It was during this time of deep analysis of my belongings that I started to feel inspired to try a capsule wardrobe. They weren’t quite as popular as they are today, but the 30×30 Wardrobe Challenge seemed like a good option for someone wanting to dip their toe in. Thirty pieces for a whole month is actually a pretty generous amount – I found it difficult filling up my quota for my recent 30×30 Capsule Wardrobe video – but for a girl who was wearing at least double that number of items each month, it seemed relatively reasonable. It meant I’d have to re-wear pieces; be more creative with my outfits if I don’t want to repeat a look, and I’d have to carefully select my items so that they fell within a cohesive colour scheme.
It wasn’t until we’d moved to Sydney that I took it a step further; 33 items for three months. It was a time in my life when I was quite stressed out, and shopping emotionally, and I thought the reduced focus on purchasing new items (and instead shopping my wardrobe) would help ensure I lived within my means, and could set money aside for other savings goals. And, for the most part, it worked. While I was still shopping, I was spending less time agonising over the shops or thinking about potential new purchases. Instead, I spent more of this time poring over my wardrobe. What could I sell? What gaps were there in my closet? What new combinations could I come up with? What items would secure a coveted space in my next seasonal capsule?
Essentially, I became obsessed. The process might have been fun at first, but it quickly became a chore – especially after having a capsule wardrobe for about 18 months. I started to miss the spontaneity of getting dressed in something because I felt like it, rather than in items I had to wear because they were in my capsule. I began to follow these rigid rules and restrictions I’d placed on what I could (and couldn’t) wear, and I wasn’t enjoying it at all anymore.
REFINING MY STYLE
But, if there’s one thing that the capsule wardrobe taught me, it was how to refine my style. I could identify what I felt good in and what I didn’t, and I started to develop some style rules that were front of mind when getting dressed in the morning. I’ve written a whole post on how to find your personal style, yet this past year has taught me that it’s in a constant state of change. While I do know what I like, and what will never feel quite ‘me’, there still seems to be a bit of a disconnect. Defining your style is hard, and I still find myself buying or investing in items that are absolutely gorgeous, only to later come to the realisation that they aren’t for me.
My style has never been ground-breaking, and it’s never been complicated. I feel most comfortable wearing something basic – a simple tee and a denim skirt has literally become my summer uniform, though it doesn’t quite make for interesting blog content! If there’s one thing I’m looking forward to this year, it’s making the most of my winter wardrobe. I’ve been pinning like mad recently, and have been feeling quite inspired by so many looks on Pinterest, which I’m planning to translate into my own wardrobe, and outfits, this year. Wish me luck!
Perhaps the one thing I came to rely on, after giving up the capsule wardrobe, was a few uniform looks that I knew just worked. I’ve thrown around the word style recipe, which let’s face it, is just another word for a style uniform, but essentially, it’s a combination of key wardrobe ingredients which when combined, make a tidy-looking outfit that epitomises your style, and that you also feel great in.
I’m still working on my style uniforms (there’s a couple I’d like to try for autumn/winter), but for summer, this generally involves a silk top, denim skirt, and low mid heels, or a loose fitting tee paired with a denim skirt and some sandals. I like to balance out my proportions by pairing something loose with something more fitted, which is something I’m working on as there are some really interesting silhouettes that I’d love to get into regular rotation, I’m just looking for that Goldilocks effect from the right mix, which I know I’ll feel truly confident in.
These style uniforms are what now typically tend to form the basis of my day-to-day outfits. I’m less reliant on a carefully edited selection of my wardrobe, and more on a silhouette of key pieces, which can easily slot into each function, regardless of the ‘colour palette’ or texture. A style uniform might not inspire as much ‘forced’ creativity as a capsule wardrobe can, and while I still find myself reaching for those old favourites, I don’t feel restricted when I want to mix things up a little. My colour palette is still mostly comprised of black, grey, white, tan, blush, red (!!! I know!) and denim hues, but these subtle changes and breadth of options make me feel like I have a lot more choice and variety at my fingertips – something completely lacking from a capsule wardrobe.
So, are you a capsule wardrobe kind of girl, or is a style uniform more your speed? x
It’s been a good couple of years now since I decided to give up the capsule wardrobe, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve completely shifted away from ‘capsule’ style dressing. I still reach for the same favourites, and tend to have a heavily curated selection of pieces on constant rotation. So as today marks my 30th birthday, I wanted to do a little bit of a throw back to capsule wardrobes; a 30×30 Capsule Wardrobe challenge. It’s essentially where my YouTube Channel began, so I’ve pulled together an entire video featuring 30 items, and 30 looks, which you can watch below.
As usual, I mostly went for the basics, with some necessary bursts of colour to try and mix things up a bit. The majority of these tops have been pieces that I have been reaching for non-stop this summer, and it’s not hard to see why. Working in a creative environment, I am fortunate enough to get to wear things that are a little (or a lot) more relaxed, and I’m not opposed to the old t-shirt and denim skirt combo – it’s become a favourite of mine, that’s for sure. The most hard working top of the lot would have to be either this black silk cami from Everlane, or this polka dot wrap front top from J Crew. Both seem to go with absolutely everything, and have been perfect to wear even during the extreme humidity we’ve had in Sydney recently.
I wouldn’t be able to pull together a 30×30 capsule wardrobe without including at least one denim skirt, and this one from J Crew is by far my favourite. I love the fact that it’s white (helps to make that summer tan pop!), and it’s such a great shape and length for day-to-day. I also added in a similar style in black, and then opted for some more unusual options, from a pair of black silk culottes which I’ve been trying to wear more, to a wrap skirt I picked up during the Black Friday sales. Given most of my wardrobe is so heavily based around a neutral colour palette, I wanted to opt for a couple of more interesting silhouettes, to offset the simplicity of the tops that I picked out.
It’s pretty fair to say that you definitely don’t need a jacket in Sydney during January, but I wanted to include a couple of options which I thought would be great even just for a little bit of spring outfit inspiration. I opted for a tan linen blazer from Chloe, an incredible pre-loved find, and my trusty blue wash oversized denim jacket from Topshop.
When building a capsule wardrobe, and a 30×30 capsule wardrobe in particular, I like to focus more on pieces that I know I’ll be able to wear in a variety of ways, which means items like dresses don’t tend to feature as heavily. 30 items is quite a generous number to be wearing over a month, so I opted to include 3 different dress options. Perhaps the most versatile of the three is the little silk slip dress from Grana; this can be worn on its own, with a top underneath, or with a sweater thrown over the top.
Finally, there’s shoes… I’ve been pretty honest about my inability to narrow down my footwear options, and this really was no different. I like having the option to change up what I’m wearing on my feet daily, and I think that a lot can be said for the impact that a good shoe can make on your outfit, and how it can change up a look entirely.
Have you done a 30×30 Capsule Wardrobe? I’d love to know which pieces (or outfits if you watched the video) were your favourites! x