Monday, 31 March 2014

Year-Long Clothing Budget Update: March Purchases

Recently I outlined my new clothing budget plan for the rest of the year. As a quick refresher, I put together a list of items I need to help fill in the holes in my closet and assigned each item to a particular month of the year, capping each month's budget at $200 total. Here's what my calendar looks like:

Year-long Closet Budget

As you can see, March's budget, called for white skinny jeans, a statement necklace, and a striped top. Here's what I ended up with:

White Skinny Jeans:

LOFT curvy skinny jeans in white
Price: $59.50; on sale for 40% off = $38 after tax
Notes: the 'curvy skinny' line at LOFT is perfect for girls with my body type, meaning generally slim girls with small waists but athletic hips and booties. These fit in both the waist and thighs (gasp!) and are not suuuuuper skinny at the ankle, which is more flattering on my body to help balance out my hips. I'm 5'4" and buy the regular version, although they come in tall and petite too.

Statement Necklace:

Stripe rope knot necklace from Etsy shop Homako
Price after tax/shipping: $50
Notes: I already gushed about this necklace here, and my love hasn't wavered in the multiple times I've worn it since then. I'm also eyeing this beautiful origami necklace!

Black and White Striped Top:

This item ended up being the toughest for me to decide on. I tried the J Crew Factory Ponte Peplum Top, but it fit me really boxy and was not flattering. I also tried their J Crew Factory Printed Racerback Cami, but again the fit was off for me.  I ended up ordering this top and am eagerly awaiting its arrival!

Price: Originally $148, on sale for $82 plus a 15% off code = $69
Notes: I like that this is your basic stripe tank but dressed up a bit. I'm a little nervous about the fit since I've never worn this designer before, so if it doesn't work out I'm also eyeing this Theory top or perhaps this LAmade tank--I like the slight peplum of both of them. 

EDIT 4-30-14: I ended up returning the Kincaid tank because it required ironing every time (which, let's be honest, I just don't want to deal with so it will sit, wrinkled, in my closet). Then I realized that I really don't need another striped I cut it from the list altogether.

March Budget Total: 
$38 + $50 + $69 = $157 (for $257.50 worth of items)
Over/under on March $200 budget: -$43
Over/under for the year since March: -$43
$38 + $50 = $88 (for $69.50 worth of items)
Over/under on March $200 budget: -$112
Over/under for the year since March: -$112

Here are a few ways I plan to incorporate these items into my wardrobe!

How I'm Wearing It

Other posts in this series:

Friday, 21 March 2014

Etsy Reviews: Items I've Purchased and Loved

Whenever possible, I like to support small (preferably local) business. Naturally Etsy has become of favorite shopping spot for me, and today I'd like to share some of my favorite finds!

Starting with my most recent purchase, but in no other particular order: 

photo: my own

photo: my own

Price: $45
Notes: I'm in love with my new statement necklaces! It's a bit daintier than I was expecting and so, so lovely--I wore it the day I received it! Shipping was really quick, the necklace is well-made, and the packaging is so cute! Two thumbs up--I have my eye on this origami necklace next!

Price: $65
Notes:  I am SO not the skulls-as-decor type, nor do I typically decorate with what is essentially just a knick-knack, but when I saw this I couldn't resist! It is made via 3D printing, and it's so light but tough. The details on this are AMAZING. Funny story--I actually lost this for a bit during our bathroom renovation and my wonderful boyfriend found it in our garage in a bucket full of renovation supplies, without a single scratch, dent, or tear! Pretty resilient piece :)  While it was lost, I found myself missing it regularly so I was overjoyed when it was found! Awesome shop, awesome piece. Now I'm on the search for a tiny bell jar/glass cloche to display it in.

Price: $12
Notes: These hand-carved stamps are works of art in and of themselves. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and quick shipping (from Canada!) of this product. I'm using this for some pillow cases but plan to frame it in a shadow box after--it's too pretty to just put away in a drawer! Right now I have my eye on this border stamp to add some pizazz to the edges of plain sheets and pillowcases in our bedroom!

Price: $29.99
Notes: Our puppy outgrew her old collar, so we were on the hunt for a new one. This one is awesome! It's heavy-duty with multiple color options and styles.  You can personalize the metal buckle however you wish with up to three lines of text and multiple font options. We added our dog's name, my phone number, and our address, but if we had more space we would've noted that she's microchipped. I'd buy from here again!

Price: $22
Notes:  The above link goes to the Kids version of the tee; I bought this one but it says "home" (as pictured) instead of "native." The shop has expanded since I bought mine--mine is listed as a unisex shirt, so it's a bit boxy, but they also have women's versions in multiple colors that are probably a bit more fitted. Personally I like the boxiness of mine--it's suuuuuper soft and comfortable and just slouchy enough without being sloppy. I love to tuck mine into a leather skirt with sneakers for a casual going-out look. 

Price: $25.95
Notes: I bought this set as a Christmas gift to my parents and had each snowflake made with the first letter in the name of each member of my family. They arrived exactly as pictured and are really lovely--a nice sentimental gift. 


Price: $4
Notes: I love this little card shop--all of her cards are really clever. I got this for my boyfriend but there are tons of other options I'd buy as well!

Price: $16
Notes: I stumbled on this shop when they had a two-for-one deal going on, so I also scored their The Smallest Ocean print. I love this All the Cool Kids print for my gallery wall, and the Smallest Ocean print works nicely with my Claire Elsaesser prints in our bathroom! Now I have my eye on some of her newest releases, including The Smallest Oceans No. 2. Her work is so lovely and has this hazy, romantic quality that I'm obsessed with. 

Price: $20 for 8x10; other sizes and colors available
Notes: I bought this for my ski-bunny friend for Christmas, and it was so pretty! She also has cards, phone covers, etc. I want to frame this postcard for my gallery wall!

Please click through the links to the stores themselves, as they each offer tons of other products that I'd love to own as well. And hook a girl up--what are some of your favorite Etsy shops?

Unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy of the respective shops I've linked to. 

Thursday, 20 March 2014

A bit about me, plus a lovely neutral boho home tour!

So have you guys noticed that I've been blogging up a storm lately? That's because I'm trying to fight cabin fever as I'm finishing up three weeks off work to recover from a hip surgery.

I've always been a really active person, and last October my hip started hurting every time I exercised (hiking, rock climbing, running, yoga, etc). I eventually went through a couple of months of physical therapy and finally got referred to orthopedic surgery, where I was told that I have femoroacetabular impingement (FAI). That's basically a fancy way of saying that extra bone has developed on my femur and hip socket, so that the long bone of my leg no longer fit smoothly into the hip socket (basically the two bones would grind against each other with movement). 

The good doc says that FAI is most common in active young people and is a newly-identified cause of hip pain in these individuals (apparently a lot of pro hockey players have had the same problem). 

Anyway, long story short, I had surgery on March 4th to shave down the excess bone, and I have been off work ever since. It's been tough to sit (well, lay, actually) still and not work, exercise, cook, etc. I go back to work on Monday part-time. 

I bring all of this up because the time off of work has allowed me space to reflect on lots of things in my life, including this blog. I'm realizing that although I've been posting since 2009 (!!!), I haven't really shared much of myself. The blogs I love to read are the ones that give a glimpse into the blogger's life and personality, rather than just essentially a catalogue of pretty items, outfits, and homes (although I love that part too!). So going forward, I'm going to try to share more of myself in my posts. Sound good? Good.

Hopefully I haven't bored you to tears and you're still reading; therefore, you should be rewarded for your good behavior! ;) Here's my newest idea of a home I'd like to move into as-is

The home of watchmaker Kelsi Vande Velden, this small property on Maui is bursting with texture and interesting objects. 

Don't you feel relaxed just looking at these images? I sure do. 

Takeaways from this tour:
  • If your home is entirely neutral, make sure to incorporate many textures and varying shades of the same color palette (here, it's white, cream, tan, ivory, beige, grey, and mixed metals). This provides interest for the eye in a space that could otherwise be pretty boring.
  • I love three things about her coffee table: the beautiful grains of the wood, the organic shape of the piece, and the gorgeous terrariums adorning the surface. 
  • Although there are many things in this small apartment, it doesn't feel cluttered or cramped to me because of the way they are styled and that there is a consistent soothing color palette. Think how chaotic her wood shelves with the ram's head would be if each of those pieces was a different color! When trying to make spaces feel larger, limit your color palette and be selective about how you style your objects. 
  • Pick one statement piece, much like in fashion, to focus attention on--this allows everything else to be much simpler. For example, the ornate headboard in her bedroom draws your eye immediately, so it's perfectly lovely instead of boring that she has very simple white bed linens. 
For a few more images of this lovely abode plus a fun Q&A session with the homeowner, please head on over to PopSugar!

All image credits: PopSugar

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Custom Target??

Target has a lot going on lately. They've announced Emily Henderson as a new design star, produced a collaboration with Oh Joy, as well as a collection from Young House Love. The news I'm most excited about personally is that they now have 'custom' furniture options for a reasonable price!

From what I can tell, 'custom' means that there are a variety of fabrics available through Target and your item is made to order. Here are a few of the many, many options:

Target custom furniture options

Naturally I want to create an entire room around this I did:

Target custom furniture: striped living room
Kinda preppy boho sailor? I want it all.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Color Crush: Jade

With spring just around the corner (although it did snow here yesterday....), I've been looking forward to brighter days and brighter colors in stores. Everywhere I look, my eye seems to light on one color: jade. This not-quite-turquoise, not-quite-mint shade is super flattering and fun!

Here are a few options to get your fingers itching for your credit cards!

Color Crush: Jade

And lest you're thinking, 'wait a minute, you just wrote a whole series on a capsule would this even work into your closet?' I have a few examples for you! (side note: 'lest' is a disgusting word, isn't it?)

Jade options

My favorite, though, is  this pretty sequin tank--here's a few ways I'd wear it!

Jade sequin tank top four ways

Aaaaand I've effectively convinced myself that I need this tank top now. Done and done.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Building a Wardrobe: Conclusions and My New Budget Plan

I hope you've enjoyed my series on building a wardrobe--I know I've learned a lot writing these posts! From analyzing my own closet, I came to the following conclusions:
  • I have a lot of favorite Key Pieces in my closet due to a past rule I created after graduation that I would only add items to my closet if I really loved them and felt great in them.
  • However, I haven't really updated my Basics items in a while, and it shows. Many items need replacing due to being worn-out, while other basics haven't ever made their way into my closet.
  • Because I was a broke grad student for so long, it's sometimes hard for me to justify the cost of more expensive pieces (see bullet two: why all my basics are falling apart). I need to focus on the concept of 'quality over quantity!'
So I came up with a new budget challenge to help build my closet mindfully!

Rules for my new Closet Challenge:
  • Buy at least one basic item, or closet necessity, per month. 
    • I made a list of items I need and tentatively assigned them to the month in which I'll purchase them,
    • The list is based on what I will need first (i.e., spring is coming so I need white jeans more than a leather jacket) and what sales I'll be able to take advantage of (i.e., buy booties during a Memorial Day sale; leather jacket during Black Friday, etc).
    • If you're having a hard time creating your list, I suggest pulling inspiration pics of the style you want to rock and figure out the common denominators--what similar items (stripe skirt, chambray shirt, black wedges) feature prominently in your images? Or, for an easier route, check out this great list of closet staples for My Here and Now Life. 
  • Closet necessity should be good quality but not exceed $200 total per month. 
    • I set the budget limit at $200 because I know that I can get most of the items on my list for less than that, especially if I'm smart about shopping sales, etc. So overall, that's my goal and what is reasonable for my personal budget and needs. 
    • If you're going to join in my adventure, your budget may be very different (either higher or lower). 
  • If an item is over budget, the surplus will be subtracted from the next month's budget.
    • So if May costs me $220, June's budget would be $180.
  • Once the month is done, so is that month's budget.
    • I.e., if July only costs $100, my budget for August is still limited to $200--I don't get to add the additional $100 to August.
    • This is to encourage me to buy good-quality items (not being afraid to spend the full $200 during the month), but also so that if I have surplus I can spend it guilt-free on fun activities or projects!
    • If you're doing this closet challenge with me, you're welcome to decide whether you can carry the surplus cash over to the next month or not :)
  • I don't have to strictly stick to the listed schedule, but I do need to buy all the items over the course of 2014. 
    • If I spot a good deal on one of the listed items during an off month (i.e., a score on a new running shoes in May even though it's slotted for June), I can switch things around--the year-long list is just a guidebook to keep me on track! I have several specific items already on my list, so I'll keep checking in periodically to see if they're on sale and buy if they are.
So without further adieu, here's my list (including a couple of options I'm contemplating for each item) and the corresponding calendar:

Year-long Closet Budget

The Breakdown:
  • March: white jeans, black and white stripe top, statement necklace
    • Spring is coming so I bought myself a new pair of white jeans on sale...although  I may return them and just get my bootcut white jeans tailored into a skinny style. Oh, and that lovely statement necklace is on its way to me, eee!
  • April: (Easter sales) black wedges, black t-strap sandals, black heels
    • I need to up my shoe game majorly. My puppy ate my black sandals and wedges at the end of the summer last year, and my black heels are falling apart. Time to replace!
  • May: (Memorial Day sales) black leather booties, slip-on sneakers
    • The leather booties are going to be one of the more expensive items on this list, so I want to take advantage of Labor Day sales to score a nice pair for less! While I'm at it, I want to get a pair of sneakers to run around in all summer :)
  • June: striped skirt
    • I anticipate going a bit over budget in May, and I want to save my money for fun stuff over the summer, so I'm keeping June's budget pretty bare-bones
  • July: (Fourth of July sales) thin chambray shirt
    • I already have at least 2 chambray shirts that I wear constantly, but they're both too thick to tuck into skirts or under sweaters. I want a thin, breezy button-up that should be readily available over the summer
  • August: (Labor day sales) leopard flats, slim-fit work trousers
    • Again taking advantage of sales--I know that most of the leopard prints I like are a bit more expensive, like the Madewell pair shown here, and I hope to hit a Labor day sale as they're marking down their summer work apparel and ramping up for a new season of pants.
  • September: (Back to school sales) dark skinny jeans, white silk blouse
    • I've been on the lookout for a new pair of dark-wash skinny jeans, and the back-to-school sales are typically chock full of them! Also a good time to stock up on your standard white silk blouse. 
  • October: black long-sleeve dress, chunky infinity scarf
    • Over this winter I keep wishing I had a long-sleeve black dress and an infinity scarf to keep me warm, but (thankfully) spring is just around the corner so I'll save these purchases for next winter season.
  • November: (Black Friday sales) leather jacket
    • Again, a leather jacket will be one of the more expensive items on the list, so I tend to take advantage of a Black Friday sale when the shelves are full of this item!
  • December: (Christmas sales) chunky sweater
    • Another piece I've longed for this past winter, a chunky warm cozy sweater should be easy to add to the closet in December!

I'm also doing a similar budget challenge for my workout gear, capping my budget at $100. If you're interested, here's my list for that: 

  • March: paisley workout leggings (plleeeeeeease restock in my size!)
  • April: running shorts
  • May: yoga mat
  • June: new running shoes
  • July: climbing/hiking bag
  • August: climbing chalk bag
  • September: zip-off hiking pants
  • October: workout tanks
  • November: snow pants
  • December: ski goggles
Overall the goal of this project is to ensure that by the end of the year, I have a fully functional closet and haven't bankrupted myself or bought a bunch of stuff that I don't really need! If anyone wants to join along on the adventure, please let me know--I'd love to follow your progress and learn about the items you need to add to your closet!

For the other posts in this series, see:

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Building a Wardrobe: How to Maximize Options in a Capsule Wardrobe

Over the course of this series, I've discussed finding your own style, how to determine number of pieces needed for your closet,  how to pick closet basics, key pieces, and shoes and accessories. Today I'm offering up some tips about how to maximize options in your capsule wardrobe.

Tip One: Use workout gear for daily life

  • If you choose carefully, many workout tops can be incorporated into your outfits outside of the gym. A wrap-style dance top looks pretty over a skirt, particularly something flowy. A basic striped tank mixes well with patterns in your work wardrobe. 
  • I can't even count the number of times I've worn my favorite black workout leggings under my work dresses or tunics. Find a pair that doesn't ride up and you're golden!
  • A new trend in fashion is wearing sneakers as casual wear. I'm not 100% on board, but you might like to give it a whirl!

Some examples:

Workout/Workin' It

Tip Two: Mix patterns

  • Patterned pieces add nice pizazz to your wardrobe, so mixing them lends double the fun!
  • I find it easiest to mix patterns in one of three ways: stripes with animal, stripes with floral, or animal with floral. 
  • Another fun way to play with pattern mixing is to mix two of the same type--like 2 different stripes or animal prints. The key here is to make sure that either the scale or the color of the pieces is different. You'd want a skinny stripe with a fatter stripe, or a black and white leopard print with a more traditional camel-colored one. 
  • Mixed prints don't have to 'match' to go. The biggest key to success in mixing prints is to rock the style! With enough confidence, you can wear really anything :)

Mix Master

Tip Three: Make a piece work for a variety of situations

  • Those who choose to dress via a capsule wardrobe need to be infinitely more picky about their selections than those who have your average (or fashionista-sized!) closet. Make sure that each item in your closet can be worn at least 3 different ways, or it's just wasting space.
  • We've already discussed that workout gear can be incorporated into your everyday outfit. Make sure that your 'casual' pieces can be dressed up for work, and your 'work' pieces can be dressed down to play.
  • If you're going to buy a piece that doesn't transition well between work and play (example: short leather skirt), I'd advise to make sure that it's enough of a chameleon (i.e., more of a basic than a key piece) to be worn often outside of work.
Striped Geometric Top

Tip Four: Make your basics not-so-basic
  • Some of my favorite outfits and info pics are very, very simple pieces that, when worn correctly, pop more than wearing a glitzy dress or shoes. There are several keys to making your basics unboring:
    • Top off a simple outfit with a top. A buttonup and jeans, or tank and a maxi skirt, always look more polished with a cute scarf to pull it together.
    • Dress in layers. Even if each layer is not super interesting in and of itself, combining the pieces will provide the eye with more to see and thus make your outfit more interesting and stylish.
    • Wear a statement piece. This can be a necklace, a fun coat, funky shoes, etc. The goal is to give the eye something to focus on so you don't notice that under the fun coat it's just a grey t-shirt and jeans!
    • On the other end of the spectrum, embrace minimalism. Some of the most chic outfits are those that are stripped down to the most basic and beautiful lines. If your LBD is begging you to let your body be the focus, let it! Accessorize simply!


Friday, 14 March 2014

Building a Wardrobe: Accessories and Shoes!

Even for people trying to live via a capsule wardrobe, who likely have adopted a more minimalistic approach to fashion, the limited number of pieces available in small closet can get a bit repetitive and boring. That's why shoes and accessories are a girl's best friends!

There are several types of shoes that are needed to make a wardrobe complete; likewise, certain pieces of jewelry are staples:

Basics: Shoes and Accessories

These will cover your bases and make your wardrobe look put-together, but not necessarily the most interesting or dimensional. For that we need our Key Pieces. Here are the items that I'd add to my capsule wardrobe--remember, the four characteristics of choosing Key Pieces apply here too!

Shoes and Accessories
Breakdown of Key Pieces:

  • Patterned (floral) scarf, patterned (leopard) scarf, textural scarf, patterned (abstract) scarf: scarves are a great way to make a very basic outfit look polished. Buy a few different scarves, making sure that they each encompass a different characteristic for key pieces (i.e., patterned, structural, textural, and colorful).
  • Colorful, Structural statement earrings: sometimes your outfit needs a focal point, which these earrings provide!
  • Structural chunky necklace: heftier than your basic chain, this necklace helps make work outfits look finished.
  • Textural bling necklace: sometimes an outfit needs a little sparkle! I love sparkly, blingy necklaces against more demure fabrics like chambray. 
  • Patterned (stripes) necklace: if most of your wardrobe is basics, a striped necklace will spice things up, and also provides a fun way to play with pattern mixing.
  • Patterned (animal) flats: Some would consider these a basic, since they essentially go with everything. Leopard is a neutral!
  • Patterned (animal/geometric) sneakers: Running errands doesn't have to be frumpy, and these funky slip-ons will jazz up your jeans and tshirt.
  • Textural, structural boots: Some days you have to show the world you mean business, so bust out some moto boots!
  • Structured heels: Sexiness in a shoe!
  • Colorful, Patterned (geometric) wedges: If you have a pretty basic wardrobe, you need fun pieces like these wedges to jazz things up a bit.
On top of these items your closet will need a purse and work tote. I like my purse as small as possible, so I don't fill it up with junk. My rule of thumb for small purses is to buy quality leather bags, but don't spend more than $200 (any more than that and you're typically paying for a brand name, not the quality of the purse). Likewise, I am willing to splurge a little on a work tote, since I use it most days of the week. Since it's a bigger item, I make my budget no more than $250. 

For the other posts in this series, see:

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Building a Wardrobe: Finding Key Pieces

So far in this series, I've discussed finding your own style, how to determine number of pieces needed for your closet, and how to pick closet basics.  Today we're discussing how to fill in the rest of your closet with Key Pieces (again, refer to this article by Into Mind for an excellent explanation).

I think of Key Pieces as the showstoppers of your closet--the pieces that you select first then build an outfit around, or the pieces you'd miss most or be unable to replace if your closet burned in a fire.

When I'm thinking about selecting Key Pieces, I try to picture my closet as a whole and make sure that this unique piece can be easily replaced in an outfit by any other item in my closet. Key Pieces generally incorporate one or more of the following characteristics:

4 Characteristics of Wardrobe Basics

  • Structured: the cut of the fabric is unique and makes the piece standout beyond your typical basic. Helmut Lang is a master of this. 
  • Patterned: a piece with a print is more memorable than a solid. Subgroups to incorporate into you wardrobe may include: geometrics, florals, stripes, animal prints, and watercolors/abstract prints
  • Textural: a tweed jacket will almost always be more interesting or statement-making than a cotton jacket, because the texture of the fabric teases the eye differently than a smooth, nondescript fabric. It's great to include a variety of fabrics in your closet, including tweeds, cottons, silks, metals, laser-cut fabrics, jersey knits, and workout-friendly fabrics.
  • Colorful: Our brains are wired to notice colors and variations in tone, so obviously a colorful piece of clothing can stand out more in a closet than a neutral. Make sure your colors are flattering to your skin tone! Note: Blacks, greys, creams, browns, and whites get a bad rap for being boring, but a little black dress can be just as interesting as a cobalt one if it incorporates one of the other three characteristics of statement-makers.
So what items would I select for my own wardrobe? See below:

Key Pieces: Bottoms

Breakdown (including which of the four characteristic the item incorporates)

  • 1 pair Colorful, Structured trousers: these are basically like wearing pajamas to work, so obviously you'll wear them at least once a week. These are another good example, showing that they don't have to be colorful to be a key piece. The drapey structure of the piece will also make it stand out in your closet.
  • 1 pair Patterned (geometric), Structured, Colorful trousers: these are SO. GOOD. You HAVE to click here to see how fun the cuts of these are, plus the pattern adds a fun Pow! to my mostly-neutral wardrobe. If this is a bit much for you, you could go with these grey jeans with awesome stitching. Not crazy enough? Try these gold sequined reptilian-print trousers!
  • 1 Patterned (floral) Colorful maxi skirt: I love this skirt because it has so many colors, so it's infinitely mixable, plus the print has a basis of black so my neutral tops would look great with it. These floral trousers are another good example, although they're sadly sold out now.
  • 1 Textural, Structured leather skirt: leather texture is always sexy to me, and that vibe is reinforced by the severe lines of the skirt. For a more demure yet colorful look, try this midi leather skirt; for a trendier take on the topic, try these pleather joggers.
  • 1 Geometric, Colorful skirt: much like the maxi skirt above, this skirt is versatile because it incorporates many colors on a black base. The print affords the opportunity for fun pattern mixing, too! This is a super fun alternative that I may just have to buy for an upcoming wedding...
  • 1 Colorful, Textured skirt: I love the bright cobalt color and the geometric floral cuts, but I just realized it's sold out! Here's a real leather alternative.
  • 1 Structured pair lounge pants: newsflash: companies make really fun, interesting sweatpants--no need to relive the college days in your baggy heather grey drawstring pair! I'm also digging on these that seem like they could be dressed up with funky heels, and these that are made for your laziest, coziest of days (as a dreadlocked stoner).
  • 1 Patterned (watercolor) Colorful legging: I mean. I am dying to workout just to wear these fun leggings! Here's a tie-dye pair in similar colors. 
  • 1 Patterned (floral) Colorful legging: It's tough to keep motivated to workout, so I don't think it hurts to have a couple pairs of fun leggings, especially if one is in cool tones and the other is in warm tones to fully utilize your closet. Try these eco-friendly alternatives--they're made of recycled plastic bottles!
  • 1 Patterned (watercolor) Colorful pair of shorts: For when it's super hot out and you want to get your equally hot tush in gear, try a fun pair of shorts.  These could light a fire under you (har!), and these are a fun compression version.

Key Pieces: Tops


  • 1 Textural, Patterned, Structured, Colorful blazer:  If this company wasn't based in New Zealand I would own it already. LOVE. Here is another option.
  • 1 Patterned (stripes) Structural cardigan: this is perfect to dress up or down, and its oversized fit and print make it memorable. Here's another that has a fun fit and striped print.
  • 1 Structured, Colorful, Textured blazer: A more colorful take on the first cardigan's assets, this can go sweet or tough because the pink color is balanced by an angular cut and studs.
  • 1 Structured, Textural trench coat: although most consider a trench coat to be a wardrobe basic, this makes it to 'Key Pieces' territory because of the mix of fabrics and the severe lines created by the contrasting colors. I also like this abstract plaid version.
  • 1 Colorful, Patterned (stripes/geometric) tank: with white cutoffs for play, black pencil skirt for work. Try this one for a little less color. 
  • 1 Colorful workout sweatshirt: Pop this on after your workout and carry the positive vibes throughout your day :) Try this for a warm-tone top. 
  • 1 Patterned (animal) sweater: Try this with jeans on the weekend or over a button-up and pencil skirt for work. Another option here. 
  • 1 Patterned (abstract) Colorful blouse: Multiple colors = multiple options to pair it with in your closet. Here's a slightly less multi-color version. 
  • 1 Patterned (geometric) blouse: This would look sharp with a blazer blazer; here's a less dressy alternative. 
  • 1 Patterned (floral) tank: this is loose and flowy--very comfortable, and would be fun paired with stripes. Here's a more structured alternative. 
  • 1 Patterned (watercolor) workout tank: Try this with blue-colored bottoms, or black shorts. Here's another!
  • 1 Patterned (abstract), Structured workout tank: This tank has a fun wrap feature, making it equally great for yoga or an art show. Here's another that is a little less funky.
  • 1 Patterned (geometric/stripes), Colorful, Structured, Textured work dress: I love with this dress and will stalk the internet until it goes on sale. Here's another amazing option with scuba-inspired styling. 
  • 1 Structured work dress: Yes, this is technically colorful too, but I treat hunter green as a neutral like grey or navy, so it doesn't count for me as colorful ;) Here's a truly neutral option that is still gorgeously structured. 
  • 1 Patterned (stripes), Structured maxi: The back of this dress is a fun surprise. Try this one for a more coverage. 
  • 1 Structured little black dress: This Helmut Lang dress is equally amazing if worn turned around...I know because I've tried, and I can't stop thinking about it. I also want something in my life that warrants this beauty. 
  • 1 Structured 'power' workout tank: Tip: highly structured and minimalistic pieces convey a powerful, sexy vibe, so when you need inspiration to tough out a hard workout, grab a simple-but-strong tank. Here's another option to show off your sexy back ;)
Things to note:
  • The greater number of the four listed characteristics that an item has, the more of a 'wow' factor is likely present. Making note of how many of the characteristics your key pieces cover may further help clarify your style. For example, of all the items here, the ones I most want in my closet are the first black blazer with pink and patterned insets and the work dress with geometric stripes......both of which are the only two shown here that meet all four criteria. In contrast, I'm a little bored by the blue workout sweater, because it doesn't have as much 'pizazz' in comparison. If you want interesting pieces but have a more classic style or just don't want crazy-town pieces like me, find pieces that just have one or two of the characteristics.
  • I provided a couple alternatives for each piece to reinforce the idea that you're not looking for a specific piece (i.e., if you hate those amazing geometric pants, you can find an alternative that suits you better that still has a great cut and print but doesn't give you a seizure looking at it ;)
  • In looking at my list of shirts, most of them can be labeled as Patterned, but they aren't repeating elements in this imaginary closet because each represents a distinct category of pattern (geometric, stripe, animal, etc). You need a mix of pattern categories to keep your closet remixable. 
  • Notice that none of my labels overlap--I don't have two different Colorful Structured skirts listed, etc. This is because by mixing up what characteristics your clothing presents, you have greater diversity and thus greater mixability (if you plan it correctly--items in your closet still need to go together!)

For the other posts in this series, see:
Coming up next:
  • Building a Wardrobe: Accessories and Shoes!
  • Building a Wardrobe: How to Maximize Options in a Capsule Wardrobe
And, because I personally hate having to click on each link in a blog post, here are all of the alternate options I linked to in this post :)
Alternatives to Key Bottoms

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Building a wardrobe: Laying a foundation with basics

So far, we've discussed how to identify your closet's colors, prints, and proportions, as well as how to identify how many of each item you need to maximize your closet.  Before today's post on how to pick specific items for your closet, you may want to read the following great posts from Into Mind:
Ok, now that we're all on the same page, yesterday I made estimates of how many items I'd need to have a fully functional closet. Today I'm going to share how to build a foundation of basics to optimize your capsule closet.

For each basic I included in my imaginary closet, I asked myself if it had a few characteristics:

  • Classic: Basics need to work with your entire closet, so trendy items need not apply here.
  • Comfortable: If your basic isn't comfortable, you won't wear it, so make sure you want to rock whatever is in your closet! "Comfortable" means not only does it fit well and not annoy/hurt you to wear, but it makes you feel like your best self--your closet should not make you self-conscious!
  • Chameleon: Make sure that items can work dual-purpose (i.e., black workout leggings can double as leggings under a work dress and boots) or are simple enough to 'go with' most of the rest of your closet.
  • Quality: Because basics work overtime in your closet, make sure that the pieces you choose with withstand a little wear and tear. This doesn't necessarily mean that basics need to be expensive, but it does mean that you should probably avoid Forever 21 for your work trousers, for example. 

For each item I selected, I also asked myself: Can this item be easily substituted with any other piece in this closet? If yes, I kept looking or eliminated one of the items. If no, it was added to the closet and my list narrowed.

Here are the basics I ended up with--tune in tomorrow for my Key Pieces!

Basic Bottoms

The breakdown:

  • 1 pair grey workout capris: a nice counterpoint to fun, bright workout tops
  • 1 pair black long leggings: the 'little black dress' of workout gear, I wear this to workout and wear them under work dresses/under boots as well
  • 1 black lounge pant: I buy comfortable workout pants and wear them as lounge pants, to workout, and to sleep in
  • 1 pair black shorts: another staple in your workout gear closet
  • 1 black work skirt: this skirt is a bit more interesting than your typical pencil skirt, but plays equally nicely for work and play
  • 1 black and white stripe skirt: another versatile piece, this can be dressed up for work or paired with a graphic tee for play
  • 1 pair bootcut jeans:
  • 1 pair denim skinny jeans: I wear mine constantly--they go with everything in my closet!
  • 1 pair tailored black trouser pants: these do-it-all work pants are tailored enough for work, yet simple and interesting enough to wear out to the bar with a fun top
  • 1 pair white skinny jeans: these can be swapped for black or grey skinny jeans as well
  • 1 black maxi skirt: so versatile, it's like wearing black pants

Basic Tops:

Basic Tops

  • Black leather tee: starting off with a 'not so basic basic', this tee can be work to work or play
  • 1 black long-sleeve dress: dress it up or down, wear it to work or the bar!
  • 1 denim jacket: I use my denim jacket to complete my more casual work outfits and layer it constantly when running errands
  • 1 leather jacket: a wardrobe staple, this jacket can be worn nearly year-round and immediately toughens up the girliest of outfits
  • 1 striped hoodie: wear it to workout or layer it under the jean jacket to run errands
  • 1 black cardigan: makes basically any top work-appropriate
  • 2 long-sleeve tees (black and blue): wear as a layer or on its own with a fun necklace
  • 1 white swiss dot tuxedo buttonup: the dots bring a bit of subtle pattern, and the top can be worn alone or under sheaths, jackets, cardigans, etc
  • 1 silk bow-tie top: wear it over/under sweaters, tied or untied
  • 1 black blazer: another versatile item to make any top or dress work-ready
  • 3 v-neck tees (grey, blue, coral): closet staple.
  • 1 lavender workout sweater: this is workout gear that doubles as a lovely work top!
  • 3 workout tanks (black, aqua, grey stripes): another dual-purpose top, this can go to the gym or under a jacket at work 
  • 1 coral long-sleeve workout top: this is too sporty for work, but it's such a fun color that it does fine on its own! :)

As you can see, I gravitate towards neutral-colored bottoms (black, white, grey, denim) and wear more color up top. Some people advise to invest in basics, since they're the foundation of your wardrobe. My philosophy is that basics are always available and easily replaced, so I'd rather splurge on fun key pieces and accessories--so stay tuned for my next post on how to round out the 'key pieces' portion of my wardrobe!

For the other posts in this series, see:

Coming up next:
  • Building a Wardrobe: Finding key pieces
  • Building a Wardrobe: Accessories and Shoes!
  • Building a Wardrobe: How to Maximize Options in a Capsule Wardrobe

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Building a Wardrobe: How to define the pieces needed to make your closet functional

Last post I discussed how to narrow in on your personal style and define your 'look.'  I outlined my colors, prints, and proportions as a starting point for creating a functional closet. Today I'm going to talk about how to decide what pieces you need to make your closet fully functional!

I've been reading several awesome blogs on curating a thoughtful closet. You may be interested in checking out the following:

Before delving further into my post, please take a second to read this post from Into Mind: Does your wardrobe fit your lifestyle?  This well-written post explains how to determine the types and amounts of clothing you need to dedicate to specific activities in your life.

Now let's apply these concepts to my wardrobe. If you asked me what my life looks like in a pie chart, it would be something like this:
As you can see, I split my time pretty equally between work and hanging out at the house/sleeping. I spend the rest of my time working out/being physically active and, being somewhat of a homebody, spend the least amount of time getting dressed up for a night on the town. So how does that break down in terms of clothing needed?

Work (5 days per week): Items needed include business casual wear for all week. I wear pretty simple things at work--pants or skirts with shirts and cardigans/jackets, or a dress and a cardigan/jacket, and very basic jewelry. Therefore, a reasonable number of work-related items includes:
  • 3 pairs of pants
  • 4 skirts
  • 4 dresses
  • 5 tops
  • 5 cardigans or jackets

Working out (6-7 days per week): I'm a pretty active person and I love wearing leggings to work out. A reasonable number of workout-related items includes:
  • 5 leggings
  • 5 tanks
  • 3 long-sleeve workout tops
  • 3 hoodies
  • 4 shorts
  • 4 bras

Lounge/everyday (7 days per week): To be honest, I 'lounge' and sleep in workout gear more often than not--I love wearing yoga leggings and a t-shirt to bed. So a reasonable number of lounge clothing would be the above-listed workout gear, plus:
  • 2 pairs long loose pajama/lounge pants
  • 3 comfortable t-shirts

Going out (1-2 days per week): I don't go out very often, and when I do the culture of my city doesn't require me to get very glammed up. I do like to wear funkier clothing when I go out, though, so a few unique pieces are required for this part of my wardrobe:
  • 2 shorter skirts
  • 2 fun, tighter-fitting tops
  • 1 pair denim skinny jeans
  • 1 pair black skinny jeans
  • 1 fancier dress for weddings, etc
Now that I know how many of each type of clothing I need, tune in soon to learn about how to pick exactly which items fill that role the best!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Building a Wardrobe: Identifying your closet's colors, prints, and proportions

Lately I've been really bored with my closet and have been struck by the old "I have nothing to wear" feeling more often than not. As I learned a while ago, this probably indicates that my closet isn't fitting my current needs and style. I've been reading up on the idea of minimalism and capsule wardrobes, and the first step to creating your closet is determining your style.  

Here are a few images that represent how I would like to dress: 

Based on these images and the items I wear most commonly in my closet, I can determine my wardrobe's color and print palette, as well as proportions of clothing that my eye is drawn to.


  • An overall foundation of black basics. I've learned that I'm never going to favor wearing tan or navy over black, so it's time to clear those items out of my closet and replace them with black-based items instead.
  • For accent colors I like to wear jewel tones or bright colors, like my green leather skirt or hot pink pants. I tend towards blue-toned colors (i.e., magentas or hot pinks rather than oranges or reds; emeralds instead of lime greens).
  • I typically wear a pretty neutral outfit with one or two pops of color.
  • I like silver and gold toned jewelry equally.
  • I love me some denim, particularly as a top--jean jacket or chambray shirt. 

  • I love a good stripe, typically in black and white.
  • I like accents of animal prints, but not typically large pieces in that pattern (i.e., belts or scarves rather than pants or a t-shirt).
  • I like to mix prints, like florals and stripes, or stripes and leopard prints.
  • I don't wear a lot of geometric prints--I tend to keep it to stripes, florals, and minimal animal accents.
  • As seen above, I like to wear a couple layers on top with minimalistic pants or skirts on the bottom.
  • I don't like to wear all-tight clothing--if my top is tight, I'll wear a flowy maxi skirt; if my pants are skinny, I'll wear a looser top. 
  • I tend to steer clear of complicated tops--the simpler the better for me. I play with different cuts and fits more on the bottom, like structured skirts or loose, sarong-style pants.
  • I love to wear dresses with or without a blazer.
  • I wear minimal jewelry--I always wear a ring I bought in Chile, but only occasionally wear earrings or a necklace.
  • Common proportion: slim-fitting top with cinched-waist flared skirt
  • Common proportion: looser-fitting top with skinny jeans or pants
Now that I've identified my favorite looks, it will help me to determine what I have to build on in my closet, what I need to get rid of, and what I need to add to my closet. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on how to define the number of items needed to make your closet fully functional!