Wardrobe Audit – January

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At the beginning of January I turned all of the coathangers in my wardrobe around.  The idea behind this is that once an item has been worn you replace the hanger in the correct manner.  This provides an easy way to identify those items which have not been worn.

Since the past month has been recorded as the hottest ever start to the year in Australia, it is no surprise to find that jackets, cardigans, jeans and trousers were not worn in January.  Of the seasonally appropriate items, there are a couple of tops and 3 skirts which have not yet been worn.  I am sure their time will come.

The other thing I decided to do was not to buy any new clothes in January.  This was not entirely successful depending on your definition of ‘new’.  I bought 3 items that are new to me during the month.  We have a local recycle boutique which I check out from time to time.  I am fairly selective and only choose pieces that are absolutely perfect for me and I could not go past these.

Patterned cropped jeans

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Sleeveless cowl neck top

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Long sleeve white linen shirt

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Although none of them had tags attached, I am pretty sure that they are all unworn.

Finally, I moved three items out of my wardrobe.  The first was a pair of jeans I bought in 2012.  They have had a lot of wear and are getting pretty thin as well as somewhat faded and stained.  They are are now in the pile of clothes to be worn around the house and when gardening.  Similarly a sleeveless tshirt top has seen better days so met the same fate.  A pair of white shorts went in the bin as the elastane had all given way and they were not in a fit state to be used or donated.

All of this wardrobe activity takes place on a background of the knowledge that my clothes needs will evolve with my upcoming retirement in a few months along with plenty of travelling planned.

As always, I will only be making carefully considered purchases.

I will continue to monitor and report on my progress during the year.

A Capsule Wardrobe

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Over the past 10 years I have flirted with various versions of a minimalist wardrobe.  There seem to be as many versions of how to tackle an over-abundance of clothes as there are people on the planet.

After looking into Project 333 some years ago, I decided that the best option for me was to continue to keep a streamlined, mix-n-match selection that I wear most of the year round.  This works for me because I am fortunate to live in a fairly temperate climate.

However, I have recently joined a Facebook group focused on capsule wardrobes.  Someone posted about creating a Spring capsule based on the principle enunciated in The Vivienne Files.

One of the things that bothers me about many of the pieces chosen in limited collections tend to be pale/soft/neutral colours which are definitely not my style.  It would not matter how many pieces I had to choose from, I would still not be able to find anything to wear!  For those who follow the principle of colour analysis, I am a ‘winter’ which means I can wear black and other strong, clear blue-based colours.  When I had this analysis done back in the early 80s it really just confirmed what I already knew and I very rarely deviate from my preferred palette.

Based on this knowledge and the selection in my wardrobe, I chose the following 16 pieces for my capsule for the next 3 months.

The suggested configuration was:

Neutral – 2 bottoms and 2 tops, 1 of which should be a cardigan or jacket.

Naturally, I chose black.

Shorts and jeans.

A cardigan and short sleeve top, both in cashmere/merino.

Choose another neutral with the same configuration of 2 tops and 2 bottoms.

I am not sure that red is a neutral but it is definitely a base colour in my wardrobe.

capri pants and shorts.

A long sleeve knit top and a ‘denim’ jacket.

The next suggested category is 4 more tops which obviously need to mix and match as well as meet the vagaries of the local weather.

The final 4 items are open to personal preference and any categories you feel need an extra.

As the weather warms up I will definitely need these white cropped pants.

15 White cropped pants

A couple of patterned tops to add interest.

And a dress.

16 Multi-colour dress

While I followed the guidelines as suggested, I also know that there are dozens of outfits that can be created with this selection because I regularly do it.  Almost all of these pieces are several years old and are well-established in my wardrobe.

I am not entirely convinced that these will cover a couple of short holidays and special events that fall in the next 3 months but they will definitely account for 95% of my day-to-day outfits.

I will do a follow-up post in the next few days about a couple of accessories and the shoes that I will add to this collection.

My Own Advice

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Today I am swallowing some of my own advice.

In my last blog post I talked about not trying to meet prescriptive minimalist goals.  I eschewed the extreme attitude of Bea Johnson at Zero Waste Home as being not for me quite early in my minimalism journey.  There are numerous other extreme ideas such as wearing the same dress every day for a year.  I applaud the people that choose to push the boundaries and carry out these ideas but it is not for me.

However, I have been somewhat seduced by things such as Project 333 and Plastic-Free July.  I have discovered that the life I live does not necessarily meet the lofty ideals of these and similar sites.

I think that part of my ‘problem’ which is not really a problem at all is the fact that I am a well-rounded person (not necessarily in the physical sense).  I dabble in range of strategies to live simply, reduce consumption as well as saving money and resources and have done for quite some time.

It is those ideas and strategies that I try to share with you here on the blog.  The little day to day things that may not look like much but add up over time.

There are many others out there who are doing the same stuff every single day and I want to encourage you to do the same.

There are no numbers that you have to achieve, it is not a race but simply an invitation to live the best life you can.

That is enough talk from me – from tomorrow I will be back to sharing some of the practical things that are part of my routine.

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Project 333 – A Capsule?

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Since I first tried the idea of Project 333 back in 2012, I have used “Project 333” as the preface for the title of all my blog posts about my streamlined wardrobe.  I would like a similarly short, snappy preface that is unique to my blog posts so I will give it some thought but in the meantime I will use “Project 333”.

Tonight I want to address a question which vexes me and that is, “What is a capsule wardrobe?”

I read and hear of a capsule wardrobe, winter/spring/summer/autumn capsules as well as formal capsules and gym capsules to name but a few.  Confused yet?  I certainly am. Here is the Wikipedia definition.

My wardrobe has never been bulging at the seams but I have had the same issues that many other women have identified and that is the feeling of looking at a collection of clothes and feeling that you have nothing to wear.  This seems to lead to random purchases which only further compound the problem.  Therefore, I have chosen to carefully select clothes which truly fit my lifestyle and reflect my personality.

I live in a fairly temperate climate so have very little need for heavy coats.  We do not have clearly defined seasons and generally have more warm weather than cool.

It is currently winter and the weather is as cold as it gets with overnight temperatures as low as 5C and some days when the maximum is only around 15C, however, on Sunday the daytime temperature reached 25C.  You can begin to see the folly of packing all warm weather clothes away for a 3 month period.

2015-05-18 01Nevertheless, I did remove some of my true summer clothes from my wardrobe a few months ago and it is easier to see exactly what season-appropriate clothes are available.

2012-05-28 01As I have continued to define and refine my style over the past few years, I have found that I tend to purchase multiple items of the same style.  For example:  I have 3 identical pairs of shorts – black, white and khaki as well as a very similar pair of red ones.  When I find a style that fits well and suits me, why not buy multiples?  4 dresses, 2 cardigans, 2 pairs of jeans and 2 skirts are other examples of where I have more than 1 colour of the same style.  I guess it is a matter of ‘when you are on a good thing, stick to it’.

What do understand by the term ‘capsule wardrobe’?  Have you tried to pare down the selection of clothes?  What tips do you have?

Project 333 – New Additions

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I know that the concept of Project 333 is to ‘dress with less’ but one of the clear benefits for me has been to be able to identify gaps in my wardrobe.  It means that I can confidently and consciously purchase new items of clothing knowing that they will fit with my lifestyle and work with the existing pieces in my wardrobe.

Today a parcel arrived with 3 items of knitwear that I had ordered online.  They are all merino/cashmere blend from Woolovers online shopping.  I have not been overly confident of buying online but my sister had previously purchased from the site and had actually found a couple of the pieces were too big for her so passed them on to me.  One was a black v-neck cardigan which I found perfect so I bought an identical one in royal blue.

2015-07-30 01I am trying to incorporate more plain pieces into my collection to increase the versatility.  I bought this cardigan specifically to wear with this dress but it will also be great for wearing with collared shirts and trousers.

2015-07-30 02For years I have dreamed of having a short-sleeved black cashmere top.  I finally have one, albeit, merino/cashmere blend.

002It will be able to be worn in so many ways but I am definitely looking forward to pairing it with this skirt.

2013-02-27 01And this one.

2013-02-27 02My final purchase was this 3/4 sleeve cowl neck pullover.  I love 3/4 sleeves and am looking forward to wearing it with a selection of jeans, trousers and jackets.

003My red scarf will go well with it.

2015-03-23 02I have no affiliation with the site but if you are interested in buying from them (and have not done so before) you can use the code and instructions in this link to secure a 10% discount off your first order.

Project 333 – Shoes

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Today I decluttered my shoes – again!  I am now down to 15 pairs.  This includes my thongs and slippers which live in my wardrobe but excludes the gumboots and old gardening sneakers which are downstairs.

This is the least number of pairs of footwear that I have owned anytime in my adult life.  I do like shoes but in recent years my fascination has not been about falling in love with totally impractical styles and colours but rather about the pursuit of the ‘perfect’ shoes.

It is interesting that the more I streamline the selection of clothes that I wear the easier it is to let go of shoes.  If I tend to wear lots of a similar style or colour it stands to reason that the same shoe will work with many different outfits.

2015-07-25 01Here are the shoes that are in my cupboard today.

On the floor (from left to right)

Hiking boots – rarely worn but still make the cut
RM Williams dress boots – worn with jeans in cold weather
Short boots (red) – bought last year overseas when I needed some to replace a pair of shoes that wore out
Red lace-up shoes – Ecco brand – worn with jeans or trousers
Sneakers – for walking and exercise
Australian Geographic slippers – lightweight, great with socks
Purple thongs – summer casual wear

Top shelf

Bronze Mary Janes – super lightweight and comfortable, can be worn with dresses or trousers
Red Mary Janes – as above
Black patent kitten heel – dress shoe for after-five wear
Red walking sandals – Ecco brand – very comfortable

Lower shelf

Black low-heeled sandal – Taos brand – flexible sole, comfortable but quite dressy
Black low heeled ankle strap shoes – dressy winter shoe
Pink summer sandals – very comfortable
Red summer sandals – as above

Comfort and ease of wearing are my main criteria when buying shoes and they also need to be able to be worn with a variety of outfits.

Here are a couple more that I would like to add to my collection.

2015-07-25 02These are identical to my red and bronze Mary Janes and are available here.

2015-07-25 03I love red shoes and this pair look perfect.  I don’t know that I can justify them at the moment but I do love them.  They are from Frankie4.  I have not bought any shoes from this range but a friend has and she recommended them.  I like the selection of summer sandals that are both stylish and look comfortable.

2015-07-25 04I will be keeping an eye out for their spring/summer catalogue as I will definitely need some new summer sandals.  The pink and red ones that I have are just about at the end of their lives after a couple of long, hot summers.

What do you look for in shoes?  Have your criteria changed over time?

Project 333 – What Went Back

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As promised, I will share a bit more of my wardrobe clean-up.

This is an overview of the bedroom on Saturday morning before I started.

2015-05-19 01It is not looking the best as I have made it to the end of the full-time working week and now it is time to sort things out.

I mentioned in my earlier post that I removed everything from the wardrobe.  I made the bed and hung up the jackets from the end of the bed before I started so that I had a clear working space.

Although one of the basic ideas behind Project 333 is to actually remove all but 33 items of clothing from your closet I had never actually done that.  I believed that most of my clothes were worn year-round due to our relatively temperate climate.  That is still the case and I have not limited myself to a precise number but as we are approaching our coolest months of the year I removed my summer clothes.

2015-05-18 01Here is the small pile of dresses, sleeveless tops and shorts which I will not wear again until the weather is hot.  This is in addition to those items which I have specifically set aside for our trip to Singapore.

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I took the time to critically examine each garment and try on a few different combinations to discover what worked together and how I felt about it.  A few pieces have been taken by the local recycle boutique on consignment and a couple more gone to the op shop.

This is what I was left with.  I will wear these clothes for the next 3 months with 1 or 2 possible purchases.

2015-05-18 02There are 2 pairs of trousers, a pair of jeans, 2 shirts and a jacket not shown as I was wearing them/they were in the wash.  The pile of summer clothes is bagged and on the top shelf along with a couple of bags and 2 sunhats.

It is now easy for me to see what is ‘missing’ so that I can make considered choices when I go shopping.

One of the things that is obvious from my selection of clothes is that I love prints – florals, stripes, spots, checks – I have them all.  I can now see that this is what has held me back from pursuing a ‘capsule wardrobe’ as many like to describe it.  So many blogs and discussions seem to revolve around plain colours, neutrals and mix’n’match themes.  In general terms, they also lean to what I regard as ‘wishy-washy’ colours – cream, sand, khaki, pale denim which do not inspire me.  I love (and look best in) black and white as neutrals with strong, clear colour accents – red, emerald green, purple and fuschia and my clothes mostly reflect that.

I feel like my wardrobe works for me.