My Summer Style Wishlist

ethan-robertson-134952-unsplash
Photo by Ethan Robertson on Unsplash

Summer is by far the season that I get the least excited about – at least, in terms of putting outfits together. What can I say, in Scotland, Summer can be a fickle, fleeting phenomenon – and I don’t mean to sound negative about it, because honestly it’s fine, I love where I live, but it does make all the ads full of women with bare legs in March hold a lot less interest for me. On the flipside, Scotland actually had an incredible Summer last year *gives standing ovation* and I was woefully without appropriate warm weather clothes to wear. This year, normal service seems to have resumed – it’s 8c and raining as I write this – but I’m really not interested in adding much to my wardrobe just for the sake of ‘Summer vibes’, nope, I’m basically working off a lot of what I wore last year in the heat… just layered with tights and jackets!

There are a few things I’m on the hunt for – regular readers will know that I shop almost entirely second hand, and so it can really take a while, and a fair amount of rummaging, to find exactly what I’m looking for – so I keep a running list. Also, because of the second hand thing, I can’t link to exact styles, but I’ve made some little Pinterest boards to show the kind of styles I’m inspired by!

1. Belts

I used to belt basically every outfit that I wore. When I was about 17-19 no look was complete without a waist belt – boho dress, oversized shirt… tee and jeans…. yup. I definitely got more than a little carried away and after that I sort of put myself off the look altogether, BUT, I’m coming back around to it.

I’m definitely wearing more simple, flowing pieces these days and it’s nice to have the option to pull them in at the waist – at least on days where I’m not eating more pizza than any one human being should.

I’m also a lot more into wearing belts with my jeans – whether or not they actually need one – because I feel like it can really help a simple look feel a bit more polished and intentional. I bought a sort of western style one from ASOS (before I gave up fast-fashion) a couple of years ago, and I really love it, but it might be nice to have a little variety – maybe a brown one, maybe a more ornate one – just a few different options to play with.

Luckily, I feel like belts are fairly easy to come across in charity shops… although I do feel like Kenny may be spending a chunk of his Summer punching holes in them for me!

 

2. Long flowing cardigans or outerwear

Okay, so, I’m petite – I’m 5’2″ – and I’m also built fairly slim, so I’ve always had it in my head that I want to wear more fitted, neat pieces to draw attention to my little frame, and to try to not completely swamp myself in fabric. There probably is some logic to this, erm, I mean, maybe, but I’ve also become aware more recently that I carry most of the little height I have in my legs, and my torso is really quite compact. Add to that the fact that I have a big bust, and favor high-waisted jeans and there’s kind of a lot going on in my lil torso space – in particular, I sometimes feel when I wear my tight, leather jacket that it just adds so much, not even bulk, but “clutter”, to my top half.

Don’t get me wrong, I won’t be turning my back on my leather jackets or blazers any time soon, but I would definitely like to explore some sort of longer outerwear options, too. I have a couple of long wool coats, but even in Scotland those aren’t ideal Summer clothing, and so I’d like maybe a couple of lighter options – or maybe one really long cardigan and one long duster-jacket or similar.

Length-wise, I feel like sort of the longer the better really! Somewhere between my knee and my ankle would be ideal, and in terms of style, well, I’m just gonna see what I can find – if I find an amazing statement piece, I’ll work with that, if I find a stunning simple cut, I’ll work with that too.

 

3. Long dresses and skirts

This sort of ties in with the point above re: squished little torso,  but it’s also because over the past, I dunno, year or so, I’ve gotten rid of all my little skater style skirts and dresses – I wore them a LOT so it’s sort of left a gap in my wardrobe. Why did I get rid of them? I just wasn’t reaching for them anymore. While I firmly believe that people don’t have to dress a certain way based on their age, I just know that I, personally, started to feel a bit uncomfortable in those short, flippy skirts.

In terms of styles of what I’m looking for, I’d say that really I’m open to trying most things – different materials, lengths and cuts – but the one thing I would really like is for them to be versatile. It would be nice to be able to wear them with bare legs in the warmer months, but also, to be able to put a long sleeve top underneath and wear it with some tights and boots during the other 10 months of the year. I can’t really bear the thought of finding this perfect dress and then only being able to wear it on a rare, sunny day.

So ta-dah, that’s my fairly short Summer style wish-list for this year. I’m actually quite proud of myself with this one – I feel like the three items I’m looking for all sort of make sense together, and I can see why they would fit well into my wardrobe longer term, and not just because they’re “on trend” this season. I would love to hear what you’re looking for this Summer? Or have you already found any warm-weather gems! Let me know down in the comments below!

 

 

Trying Out a Seasonal Makeup Capsule

Starting to use a Capsule Wardrobe system has already helped me out so much – I won’t bang on about it here, but check out this post if you’re looking to find out more about how I’m finding things so far. A Capsule Wardrobe has helped me to really appreciate what I already own and see that I don’t *need* new clothes the way all the adverts try and convince me that I do. Surely, then, for someone like me who has definitely had a problem with over-shopping for makeup in the past, a Seasonal Makeup Capsule may also work?

For one reason or another, I’ve definitely been feeling the itch to shop for new makeup recently whilst simultaneously wearing it less than I have in years (?!?! I know, right). In an effort to make use of all that I really own and to convince myself I don’t need any more, I’ve been trying to grab for different makeup products from my stash, but, much the same as trying to do this in a stuffed-full closet, it’s definitely leading to my makeup experience being more chaotic and time consuming, than fun and adventurous.

So I thought, hey, let’s try out a Seasonal Makeup Capsule! So far it’s been great fun taking a step back and putting together the capsule – choosing out all my most Summer-ish shades of pink lipstick and putting them aside to be included: to make sure I’m actually aware of them and using them at the time of year that makes sense (for me). It’s also been good for me to see how only being “allowed” to use a few different options of certain items, can *still* feel like plenty of choice.

For me, I don’t have a big makeup bag or spare space to store my Seasonal Makeup Capsule separately, so what I’ve been doing is just opening up the image at the top of this post each morning to remind me what’s included. Initially I thought this was probably *not* a good way of doing things, but, you know, needs must – but actually, I feel really inspired looking at them presented on the screen like that, probably more so than I would do if I was rummaging about in a makeup bag. So that’s something worth keeping in mind if you’re thinking of doing this yourself.

I’m excited to see how this continues for me throughout the rest of Summer, but at the moment I can definitely see myself continuing this system into Autumn and beyond. I’ll definitely write a post near the end of August (I switch over to Autumn in September) to round-up on how I found the overall experience – let me know down below if you have any other content you’d like to see from me on this subject!

Do you mix up your makeup for a new season? Do you have any tips for me, or anyone else who’s new to it out there?

 

The 15 Items I Wore Most Often in Spring

Oh, I’ve been excited about this post! I’m a bit of a data and Spreadsheed fanatic and one of the things I’ve loved most about using a Capsule Wardrobe system is tracking the “wear count” of items; being able to see what I’m *really* reaching for over and over again, and let me tell you, it’s not necessarily the things I think I wear “loads”.

image of all 15 items and the title

One quick note before we just jump in – I’ve listed a cost per wear for each item, because I find that so interesting (for my own wardrobe, and also for other people’s). However the cost per wear is worked out simply for the number of wears I have listed – so, every time I’ve worn it since I started this system in March. Of course, some items I’ve owned for a long time before this and have worn plenty of times before starting this project, so of course, their cost per wear would be lower – but I have no way of estimating that so I’ve just stuck with this simple method because I still find it interesting, I have however, put a (!) after the names of items that I owned and wore before starting this project, so you can differentiate them if you’d rather ignore that cost per wear data or whatever.

So here we go, the 15 items I wore most often in Spring 2018!

small, cross-body, black leather bag

1. black leather cross-body bag 
Wear count: 27 
Cost: £4.00 
How I obtained it: charity shop
Current cost per wear: £0.15
While on one hand it would be easy to look at a piece like this and think, yeah, it’s fairly easy to see why this is such a work horse – and I mean yeah, it’s a simple, wearable black, leather cross-body bag, so in one way, it’s no surprise to see it top the list, but on the other hand… I only thrifted this bag in March, so what on Earth was I doing *before* I owned it? Have I just gotten really lazy in using it all the time now?

black, skinny jeans

2. black Molly jeans
Wear count: 24
Cost: £45.00 
How I obtained them: birthday present
Current cost per wear: £1.88
Another fairly predictable entry here, however as I mentioned in this post, my sister gifted me these jeans for my birthday – and having owned many of these jeans over the years, both of us were disappointed in the quality of our most recent pairs. So frankly, in some ways I *am* surprised to see this particular pair on here as I really wasn’t sure they’d even hold together for this many wears! They are still going strong though, thank goodness, though they’re definitely fading faster than previous pairs I’ve owned.

black snood

3. black snood(!)
Wear count: 23
Cost: £8.00
How I obtained it: old fast-fashion bought on sale 
Current cost per wear: £0.35 
This fact that my third most worn item for Spring is a thick, black scarf is probably a good way of describing just how late Spring hit Scotland this year! Still, I wear this a lot really, it goes with everything and because it’s a snood it doesn’t slide of my neck or try and strangle me, which is always a plus!

grey, converse hi-tops, well worn


4. grey tie-dye Converse hi-top(!)
Wear count: 22
Cost: £14.00
How I obtained it: second hand store
Current cost per wear: £0.64
I’ve walked my way through a LOT of Converse shoes since I started wearing them when I was about thirteen. This pair has been no exception, these have been a staple for me since I bought them second hand last Spring, sadly though, they are starting to fall apart a bit now… still, not giving up, I’ve known Converse to hang in there for a good while after they reach even this stage.

black leather chelsea boots

5. black leather Chelsea boot(!)
Wear count: 22
Cost: £38.00
How I obtained it: old, fast-fashion bought full price
Current cost per wear: £1.73
Another item I’m not at all surprised to see on here – if anything, I’m just most surprised that my Converse came in ahead of them! What can I say, I love these, they go with everything and they actually fit me super well, which, with my size 2 feet, is definitely a novelty for me!

faux leather jacket with studs

6. black faux-leather jacket(!)
Wear count: 21
Cost: £12.00
How I obtained it: old, fast-fashion, bought on sale
Current cost per wear: £0.57
I love the look of a leather jacket when it’s used to create some contrast in styles. I love pairing mine with smarter button-down shirts, or more flowy, silky type items – it just adds that sort of a tough vibe, which I freaking love. I have owned this jacket for years and years, and given it was fast-fashion bought on sale, it has held up incredibly well… thank goodness, because I can’t imagine being without it!

black rain jacket

7. black rain coat(!)
Wear count: 19
Cost: £30.00
How I obtained it: old, fast-fashion, bought on sale
Current cost per wear: £1.58
Another slightly scary depiction of the Scottish climate! This jacket may not be super stylish but it gets the  job done and fits in reasonably well with the rest of my outfits, and plus, it definitely beats getting soaked while out running errands!

black leather belt with detailed silver buckle

8. black leather belt(!)
Wear count: 14
Cost: £16.00
How I obtained it: old, fast-fashion, bought full price
Current cost per wear: £1.14
I’m surpised and happy to see this so high up on the list! I bought this last year (fast fashion before I made the commitment to stop doing that), and I sort of regretted the purchase – not because I didn’t love it, but just because for a long time I had zero idea how to style it! I made the effort to try it some different ways, and now it is literally one of my favourite pieces.

grey zip-up sweatshirt

9. pale grey sweatshirt(!)
Wear count:14
 How I obtained it: old, fast-fashion, bought full price
Cost: £15.00
Current cost per wear: £1.07
I’m honestly surpised to see this on here (so surprised in fact that I went and double checked it)! I really felt like I hadn’t been wearing super casual stuff like this very much since starting my Capsule system, in fact, I strongly considered not having a sweatshirt like this in my core capsule at all! Looking at my Spreadsheet though, I think the reason this made its way on here, was because I wore it a lot layered under my leather jacket, in the long (long, long) time before Spring hit and it wasn’t warm enough for the leather jacket on its own. It’s interesting though and definitely an item I’ll be keeping an eye on.

sterling silver lightening bolt necklace

10. silver lightening bolt necklace
Wear count: 14
Cost: £12.00
How I obtained it: old, fast-fashion, bought on sale
Current cost per wear: £0.86 
This is an interesting one for me to see here because for quite a long time I’ve had no idea what was happening with my jewellery – how much did I own? Did I actually wear it? And so seeing this simple, silver piece being worn so much gives me an indication of what my style *actually* is, and that can only be a good thing as I decide what items to keep going forward, and even further down the line as I try to decide on new purchases.

black faux leather studded bag

11. black faux-leather studded, slouchy bag
Wear count: 12
Cost: £2.25
How I obtained it: charity shop
Current cost per wear: £0.19
I only picked up this bag in late-April – so it’s clear it’s been a pretty much instant hit! Again, a bit like the smaller back in the number one position of this post, it’s kind of weird to think what the heck I was doing *before* I had this bag in my life. It’s great because it’s one of those bags that can hold a lot but because of it’s slouchy shape, it doesnt look over the top or huge if you just don’t fill it very full. I love the studs too – a nice hark back to my teenage, mosher roots and that style I love so much.

light wash denim mom jeans

12. Mom jeans
Wear count: 11
Cost: £5.00
How I obtained them: charity shop
Current cost per wear: £0.45
I’m so happy to see these here on the list, because when I got them in March, having worn only skinny jeans for literally more than a decade, I felt so weird in these! Just getting used to the different silhouette seemed impossible, and so many times I put them on and took them off again before I left the house. I’m so glad I made the effort to actually try them properly as now I love them so much – I love the different silhouette they create, the very different style; not to mention the nice thick denim and ACTUAL FRONT POCKETS.

cambridge satchel cross body bag purple

13. Purple Cambridge Satchel bag(!)
Wear count: 10
Cost: £70.00
How I obtained it: bought new, on sale
Current cost per wear: £7.00
Honestly, I’ve had this bag for almost 18 months at this point and wore it so, so much before this capsule system kicked in (or really before I got the other two bags mentioned on this list) that I think, as much as I love it, I was happy to have a break from it for a little while. Definitely excited to bring it out more in Summer though with some of the colour palettes I have planned.

cosy black wool-mix cardigan


14. long, black cardigan(!)
Wear count: 9
Cost: £28.00
How I obtained it: old, fast-fashion, bought full price
Current cost per wear: £3.11
Again, so Spring-like, no? What can I say I love how cosy this is and the sort of slouchy vibes it gives off – it’s maybe not quite as oversized as I wish it was, but hey, it is so comfy and warm!

charcoal wash denim dungarees

15. black dungarees
Wear count: 8
Cost: £14.00
How I obtained them: second hand
Current cost per wear: £1.75
This is a crazy one to make the list (well, I mean this is what passes for crazy in my life), seeing as how I only found these in a second hand store in mid May! I have wanted dungarees for years and years and I couldnt believe when I found this pair, second hand and for such a great price! The only reason I haven’t worn them any more, is simply because it’s been too hot here recently (things I never thought I would say about Scotland)!

So there we go, that’s the 15 items I wore most often in Spring! Am I surprised? What have I learned?

  • One thing that jumps out at me, is that there are no “tops” in here. There are sweaters and coats, but no t-shirts or the like, which shows that I wear my practical items like a rain jacket so much more often than any one t-shirt I own. Historically though, I’ve always put the most time and effort into shopping for cute blouses or well-fiting tees, and seeing this data is helping me realise that actually, I would probably be better spending that time and effort on smaller – but arguably more key – categories like shoes and bags.
  • The other fairly obvious thing, I think, is how monochromatic this post is! The only bit of colour is the Cambridge Satchel bag, and even then, it’s a very subtle, wearable colour – not exactly what you’d call a “pop” of colour. The thing is though, I don’t wish it was different for me. I think this post reaffirms for me that I reall do favour wearing black and grey and that’s worth keeping in mind as I go forward, especially when it comes to choosing a new core item like a rain jacket – sure I’ve always wanted a yellow one, but actually, I’ll probably feel more comfortable in a black number!

And so that’s that, Spring is gone and Summer is here, and I’m very excited to see what I end up wearing most this season!

What about you? Do you track your item wears like this? Even if not, what did you reach for most in Spring? Was it super late arriving where you live too?

What’s in My Summer 2018 Capsule?

I’m so excited to be bringing you the walk-through of supplementary Summer Capsule for 2018 today! If you’re not already familiar with my blog, then have a look here, where I explain about my all-year-round Core Capsule, and how the system I use works. I have been looking forward to this post on my Summer Capsule since it finally stopped snowing… in April! If you missed my first Summer Capsule post you might want to have a read of that first – in that post I’m talking about my inspiration for this season’s capsule, as well as taking a look at some of the items on my wish-list. As well as being excited about putting together a new capsule, I also did want to take time and make sure that what I’m including this time around, won’t leave me making the same mistakes as I did with my Spring Capsule – which I discussed a bit in my Spring Capsule Recap post, here.
I feel like in some ways, this Summer capsule is a little all over the place. Despite all my frantic Pinterest-ing, in the end, there’s not much of a coherent theme running through my capsule, unless we could say that theme is “clothes that are only able to be worn in Scotland on the hottest days of the year”, because basically, that’s what it comes down to if I’m honest! Because we don’t get an awful lot of warm weather here in Scotland, I don’t really have any “hot” weather clothes in my Core Capsule. I have winter coats in there because they’re needed about 9 months of the year, and I have multiple pairs of boots because… well, ditto, but I don’t have any sandals or camisoles because they would literally sit and gather dust for more than 300 days of the year.
So when I really started to look through the items I owned for this season, there were so many that I realised I really loved and frankly, that if I didn’t wear them now, I wouldn’t be wearing them at all for the rest of the year! Sure, when you look at all my Summer pieces together now, it maybe seems scattered or chaotic, but realistically, I’m not trying to make full outfits with these pieces, instead, I want to use them to spice up my Core Capsule items – more so than ever in Summer. And so, in that respect it doesn’t really matter that the Summer bits and pieces don’t really work together. So this capsule is almost like my very own “greatest hits” of Summer style – many of these pieces have been with me for quite some time, pulling them out now feels like being reunited with old friends.
my pair of leopard print converse

1. leopard print Converse

Bought from: thrifted
Original cost: £7
Why I’m including them: Kenny and I live in the city and so we walk, a lot, especially in the Summer months with the long, warm evenings. I have one pair of Converse already in my Core Capsule, and ordinarily I alternate between those and my Dr Martens for walking, but in the warmth of Summer I find my Dr Martens a little too toasty to march around for miles in, and so I thought it might be nice to add another “walking shoe” option into this capsule. Additionally, I feel like I wear more blue/grey denim in Summer (as opposed to black) and I love the way these shoes look with paler washed denim.

khaki faux-suede sandals

 

2. khaki sandals

Bought from: fast fashion
Original cost: £11
Why I’m including them: While clearly these sandals don’t fit in with the “we walk so much” concept of Summer, I do think these will be so nice to have for other, more sedentry days in the sun. I love that these have a small heel, so the make my legs look a little longer, and that they’re not black, but are still a very wearable, neutral colour.

tie-dye fabric trousers


  

3.  wrap-around trousers

Bought from: no idea, they were passed on to me through family, maybe 3rd hand?
Original cost: unknown
Why I’m including them: Because how could I not? These are such a unique piece – especially for me with my largely monochrome wardrobe! I love the unique shape and print of these, and bonus: they’re also absurdly comfortable. For very warm days they can easily be worn alone, but I can also layer black leggings underneath for cooler days and they don’t show and ruin the aesthetic. Only possible issue I see is with trying to use public bathrooms on days I’m wearing them… yeah that might be more than a little awkward to manoveur.

neutral coloured waterfall cardigan with tassell details

 

4. waterfall cardigan


Bought from: thrifted
Original cost: £4.00
Why I’m including it: While I’ve talked a lot about warm Summer days in this post, the reality is that here in Scotland, there is often still a bit of a cool wind, even on otherwise toasty days. I really like this piece because the thick knit makes it surprisngly wind-proof, but the colour scheme and cut of the item makes it feel a lot less “bundled up” and less like a true jacket.

second-hand denim jacket

 

5. denim jacket

Bought from: no idea, this was my mum’s for well over a decade, and before that it belonged to a friend of hers.
Original cost: unknown
Why I’m including it: For me, a denim jacket just seems like a Hallmark of Summer style – again, as mentioned above, we do still need jackets in Summer here. Darn it. I see this quite thick and heavy denim jacket being worn with lighter fabrics, or maybe feminine cut dresses to create some contrast between styles and materials… whilst also keeping me warm!

vintage red fabric dress

 

6. long red dress

Bought from:  thrifted
Original cost: £1.00
Why I’m including it: I wore this dress to a birthday lunch earlier this month and I just loved wearing it! I’m actually not convinced that the length of it on me is super flattering, but it’s just one of those pieces that I feel really great in and look forward to wearing. It has almost a slightly 70’s vibe to it, which isn’t something I’m usually drawn to, but for some reason this dress just feels so “me”. It’s a flexible piece too: on hot days, I can wear it as is, but on cooler days I can also put black leggings underneath and wear it with my leather jacket (from my Core Capsule) for a tougher look.

black skirt with pom-pom detailing and white embroidery

 

7. black pom-pom skirt

Bought from:  old piece that’s fast fashion
Original cost: £8.00
Why I’m including it: This year I’m trying to feel more comfortable in my own skin, and for me, a way I’d like to work on that is to go outside with bare legs sometimes. I’ve never liked the way my legs look, and I think as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten more self conscious about it, but now, having braved the outside world with bare legs once, I’ve realised how pleasant it can be on a hot day, and how nice a way it can be to make even a black skirt like this, seem more Summer appropriate. I included this particular skirt because a) I love it, and b) because it’s easy for me to wear in other respects; as in, it goes with a lot and it doesn’t flap about in a breeze, meaning I’m not adding further stress to the already nervy experience of walking about with my ultra-pale legs on show.

black floral-print wrap blouse

 

8. black wrap-around floral-print blouse

Bought from:  passed on to me from a family member
Original cost: unknown
Why I’m including it:  I only have a couple of tees in my Core Capsule, which I still maintain is the right number for me, but I am already noticing with this current run of nice weather, that I’m definitely getting through them and almost waiting for them to come out the wash. I wanted to add in a couple more t-shirts or short sleeved blouses to help with this situation and I chose this one because I like that it’s still primarily “black”, meaning it fits in well to my existing capsule, and also because I love this top worn with my leather jacket and a bold, red lipstick – I feel so classic in that outfit somehow.

cream, lace blouse

 

9. cream, lace blouse

Bought from:  thrifted
Original cost: £4.00
Why I’m including it: Following on from what I said above; this is another top designed to aleviate my current lack-of-t-shirt situation. One thing I like about this top, is that worn with blue denim and ballet flats it can look really soft and classic, but it can also be mixed with “tougher” pieces to create a more edgy aesthetic; which is one of my all time favourite things to do with style.

black, floral-printed camisole

10. black floral-print camisole

Bought from:  very old fast fashion piece
Original cost: £5.00
Why I’m including it: Last but not least, we have one final, Summer-y top. This is in fact the only camisole-style top I own, which is probably a reasonable indication of how often they’re “needed” in this climate! Still, I think this, layered under a blazer will look so Summer-ready, but still allow for either layering over the top, or tucking into something to help me not freeze as I walk along the river. 

Phew, that ended up being a wordy post! I’ll keep it brief here as I know this might have been a marathon to get through! I’m very excited to be kicking of my second season using a Capsule Wardrobe system – I discussed my thoughts on using a Capsule system so far, on Friday – and I can’t wait to see what outfits I can put together with the addition of these pieces. I will of course be sharing some of said outfits with you either here on the blog, or over on Instagram – so stay tuned to see those! And let me know if you have any styling ideas or requests!


Do you use a capsule wardrobe system? Are you prepping your Summer capsule? Do you have any looks you’re excited to wear this Summer? Or do you go for more classic, Summer looks?
  

  

5 Thoughts on my Capsule Wardrobe After 3 Months

Sitting here in late May, it seems crazy to me that already Spring is almost over – as well as my first season of using my current capsule system! For anyone who’s not already familiar, I’m using a system I heard about from Signe on Youtube; I have a core capsule that I use year round (you can read about what’s in that, here), and then I have a supplementary seasonal capsule of about 10 pieces that I rotate out every 3 months. Here is what was in my Spring Capsule, and here is my recap post where I talk specifically, item by item about what pieces in there worked for me and what didn’t.

In this post I want to take more of a step back than I did in my Spring Capsule Recap, and look at how I found the system worked for me as a whole, rather than analysing the nitty-gritty of individual items (although, you know me and data – I’m not saying I won’t go there… just not as much!).

snow scene taken in a park. Snow covered ground, trees and a bridge.
This photo was taken in March…

 

1. I do not have a crystal ball


We started March with more than a foot of snow on the ground here in Glasgow, and on the Bank Holiday weekend in May we had what might well turn out to be the hottest days of the year. Both of these things are a-typical for a Glasgow Spring – we would have been far more likely to have 10c and rain for 3 months! Because weather isn’t predictable it means that I don’t ever want to feel too locked in to my capsule wardrobe. Sure, it’s good to have pieces that can be layered to give as much flexibility as possible, but at the same time, I want to be comfortable and dressed appropriately – so for me this season, that meant wearing my Timberland boots the whole time it was snowy ( I normally only EVER wear them when we’re hill walking), and grabbing an out-of-capsule dress to wear to my mum’s birthday lunch in May because it was the nicest, sunniest day and I would be darned if I was going to miss a rare chance to wear one of my favourite Summer dresses!

2. I still much prefer to plan my outfits the night before 

I know that for a lot of people, the draw of using a smaller amount of clothing that works together is the increased ease and speed of choosing an outfit. I definitely do find it a lot more enjoyable to put together an outfit now, but because I’m such a “just in case” person, if I leave my outfit choosing until the morning and haven’t checked what I have clean or what the weather forecast is, I know I’ll just end up wearing my rain coat “just in case” it rains, or a big jumper “just in case” it’s cold – thus robbing myself of the opportunity to wear a lot of more fun outfits on what turn out to be warmish, sunny days! Maybe as time goes on and I become increasingly familiar with the contents of my capsule and various, favourite combinations I have then this will change for me, but for the forseeable future I definitely see myself taking 5-10 minutes of an evening just to sort myself out.

black boots and autumnal leaves
This photo was taken in April…

 

3. I feel so much more put together when I leave the house 

I touched on this a little in my Spring Capsule Recap; when I talked about a t-shirt that went unused, simply because I never found myself getting dressed in a panic and flinging on jeans and a t-shirt. Even though a lot of the outfits I did wear were still very simple, and perhaps, to anyone other than me, it would have been imperceptible that I was now using a capsule system and getting dressed in a very different way, I just felt so different in my own skin. I didn’t become oddly clothing-fixated and spend all day focusing on the merits of my outfit or anything, but something about the act of getting dressed intentionally just made me so much confident and … it’s hard to put into words… to sound a bit cheesy, I just felt like “my best me” most of the time, whereas in the past, that was a rare occurance in amongst all the days I left the house praying I wouldn’t bump into anyone I know. For this single reason, even if there was no other benefits, I would be in love with the capsule wardrobe system.

4. I’m okay with having a bigger capsule, for now at least

I definitely am way up on the bigger end of the capsule wardrobe spectrum – and I don’t include bags or accessories in mine either (I have a post coming up on why I took these out of my capsule, so stay tuned for that one). I have 40 items in my Core Capsule and 10 in my supplementary Seasonal Capsule – which is a lot altogether, really. For some people this will seem vastly excessive, while for others, like my past-self, this will seem small and restrictive. It’s all relative. Even now, with only one season’s data, I feel like I could comfortably cut out maybe 5 pieces from my Core Capsule – take it down to 35, but what’s the rush? My journey towards a capsule wardrobe, or indeed, towards a minimalist lifestyle in general, is a gradual one, and I’m comfortable with that. With letting things evolve organically and move at a pace that I’m comfortable with, with taking time to really see how I feel about things, rather than making impulse decisions; whether that’s bringing items in, or taking them out.

sunny day in Glasgow showing blue skies and intense sunshine
And this photo was taken in May!

 

5. I’m happy to take the time to iron, hand wash or mend my clothes

This is a big one – for a lazy gal like me at least! Prior to using a Capsule Wardrobe system, I was (shamefully) a get dressed from a pile of clothes on the floor, and if something smells funny, toss it in the direction of the laundry basket kind of a person… yeah, I know. Now having less to work with causes me to take the time to hang clothes up when they come out of the laundry – because odds are I will be wearing them in the next week or so, so I need to keep track of them. Having less to work with, allows me to really focus on constructing outfits and choosing my favourite pieces to be part of them – from bras to silk blouses, I’ve come to realise that it really is worth taking the time to hand wash them, if they make me feel great when I wear them. As for repairing clothes, well, I’ve taken up sewing lately (I know, I’m as surpised as you are, if you’d like to read about it, I have a post – here), and after a slightly epic repair on a pair of Kenny’s Levis, I’m feeling empowered at being able to extend the lives of my clothes, or to repurpose them when the time comes. I always thought mending and hand washing clothes would seem like such a hassle, but actually, it gives me a very strong sensation of liberation and of connection to the items I own and the choices I’m making in life.

So there you have it, my thoughts on using a capsule wardrobe system… so far! If you’ve ever used a capsule system I’d love to hear what you thought about it? What did you learn early on? Did you feel constrained or liberated by having less to work with?

Spring Capsule Recap (Piece By Piece)

I have a post coming up about my general thoughts on the capsule wardrobe system I’ve been using for the last 3 months, but in this post I want to break down the my supplementary Spring Capsule and take a look at the 10 pieces within it  – how practical were they? How much did I enjoy them? What do I wish I’d done differently/what will I do differently next year? Don’t forget I’m using this supplementary, seasonal capsule in conjunction with my all-year core capsule wardrobe, the contents of which you can see, here. I know that analysing clothing to this level isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but what can I say, I’m a sucker for data (must be the software developer part of my brain… or the Pokemon fanatic, hard to say), and for me, analysing both clothes and makeup like this has helped me realise so much about myself and my habits, and has really helped me break previous, destructive shopping habits.

 

1. leopard print jacket

Bought from: thrifted
Original cost: £5
Number of wears in this capsule: 0 
Why I included it: I included this piece for Spring thinking that it would be nice to have another, “lighter” jacket option for the Spring months – because in Scotland you still need a jacket almost every day in Spring, and I thought I might appreciate the variety after wearing my Winter jackets for months. I love this jacket (I have had it in black for years and years and was so excited to thrift the leopard print version last year), and so I was really excited to wear it – but I think this is a classic newbie error of not really thinking closely enough about how I would wear it.
What are my thoughts on it now: I sort of regret putting this piece in my Spring capsule because it was just never appropriate for me to wear it, but despite that it hasn’t changed my feelings for the piece overall. The reason it was never “suitable” to wear, was basically because it was way too cold for a jacket like this for March and a lot of April, and then when it did warm up enough to go out in this jacket, I didn’t find I actually wanted to wear it because really, I tend to pair it with an all black outfit, and that was pretty much the last thing I felt like putting on when Spring finally arrived this year! I think in an Autumn capsule it would do much better, because at that time of year when it starts to cool down, I can definitely see me wanting to rock black jeans and a black polo-neck, but it was definitely not a smart Spring pick!

 

2. blue pinstripe shirt 

Bought from: thrifted
Original cost: £3
Number of wears in this capsule: 6
Why I included it: This was one of the first pieces I knew I wanted to include into this capsule. I generally look very washed out and ill when I wear pastel shades, but this somehow works out for me – I think it must just be a bit deeper blue than a true “pastel” – and so it’s a great way for me to get those Spring-pastel vibes without looking like a corpse. Also, from a practical standpoint it doesn’t need ironed, it can be machine washed, I can wear it buttoned up with long sleeves, open with rolled up sleeves, under a sweater, or even tied in the front – so this high degree of ease of use and flexibility means I was pretty sure I would reach for it a lot, in many different situations and temperatures.
What are my thoughts on it now: I went into this season loving this shirt, and honestly, if anything I love it even more now! If I was ever to try and make a “true” year round capsule wardrobe this would 100% be included. I always felt put together and comfortable when I wore this, I felt like “me”, which is a little strange because it’s not a very “me” piece actually! It was just so versatile, there really wasn’t any occasion it wouldn’t have been appropriate for – the only reason it doesn’t have a lot more wears is just due to how freezing it was here in March and April! It’s not that I couldn’t have worn this shirt more, it’s just that I got into a bit of a grumpy-rut about the weather and was just all about the sweaters.

 

3. Ravenclaw t-shirt

Bought from: old piece, fast fashion
Original cost: £8
Number of wears in this capsule: 0
Why I included it: Prior to starting to use a capsule wardrobe system I often found myself running out the house in jeans and a t-shirt, and so, figuring this would continue, I thought it might be nice to include a cute t-shirt for Spring, to mix things up. Plus, I am a proud Ravenclaw!
What are my thoughts on it now: Well, as it turns out, now that I use a capsule wardrobe system and use a Spreadsheet to plan my outfits the night before, I don’t find myself in a mad flap in the morning, then running out the house in jeans and a t-shirt. Truthfully, I did intend to wear this with a blazer for kind of different, laid back look – but the weather just never seemed to line up for me with that sort of outfit this season. Whereas with the leopard jacket that I also didn’t wear, I knew I still loved it, despite the bad decision to include it in here, but this t-shirt I’m less sure of. Probably I’ll put it into storage and then give it one more shot at some point – it would be a pretty awesome t-shirt to use as longewear so there’s always that.

 

4. floral sweatshirt

Bought from: Christmas gift a couple of years ago
Original cost: unknown, but based on similar items from the company: £15
Number of wears in this capsule: 3
Why I included it: This is my third Spring season with this sweater, and in both the previous two Springs I have worn this non-stop! It’s such a fun way to start hinting at Spring with florals and pastels, even if you live in Scotland and it’s still snowing in “Spring”. This was another piece that I was so sure about in here, right from the start.
What are my thoughts on it now: I wore this a few times, but nowhere near as much as I thought I would. I think to certain extent it suffered the same fate as the Ravenclaw t-shirt: it used to be something easy I would grab in the morning when I was panicked and had “nothing to wear”, but now, because I am planning my outfits and so much more creative with them, I just didn’t seem to use this sort of “crutch” piece as much. Going to keep this one in storage until next Spring probably and then see how it goes.

 

5. thin, stone cardigan

Bought from: old piece, fast fashion
Original cost: £6
Number of wears in this capsule: 3
Why I included it: Have I mentioned that Spring in Scotland is usually still pretty cold? Oh what’s that? I have? 5000 times? Well, anyway, I thought it might be useful and fun to have a thinner layering piece in a nice earthy-tone, to break up all the blacks and greys I’d been wearing all winter.
What are my thoughts on it now: Again, I didn’t end up reaching for this piece as often as I thought I would, and I’m not totally sure why. Sitting here right now I have it in my head that it was a little short in the back for me…but I don’t actually know that that was the case, or just the sort of association I have with it now for some reason? Anyone else ever get that way? *update* So I tried on the cardigan and it’s not too short on me, but for some reason I just don’t feel that comfortable in it – I’ll give this another try or two and see how I feel, no point in keeping it if I never want to wear it, after all.

 

6. cream, cable-knit sweater

Bought from: thrifted
Original cost: £8
Number of wears in this capsule: 3
Why I included it: With more than foot of snow on the ground at the start of this capsule, this was definitely temperature appropriate, but being such a pale, almost off-white shade, meant it felt a lot lighter and brighter somehow than if it had been a black or a navy blue sweater.
What are my thoughts on it now: I love this jumper, I really do. It’s cosy comfy, but the cable-knit type detailing on it means that it doesn’t look totally shapeless and dull when I wear it, even when I have a coat layered over the top of it. I definitely think I’ll be bringing this one back out for my winter capsule.

 

7. fish-pattern t-shirt dress

Bought from: passed on to me by my sister (it’s fast fashion)
Original cost: £5
Number of wears in this capsule: 3
Why I included it: I was wearing this piece on repeat throughout February – when it was distinctly a dress on my. However as time, and the number of washes, went on, it is definitely now more of a sort of tunic-length top on me – something to be worn with leggings or tucked into something, rather than with tights. I included this piece just because I loved it, rather than for any serious, practical reasons.
What are my thoughts on it now:I do still love this piece but I definitely am drawn to wearing it less now that it’s not a dress for me. I’d like to put a bit of effort into figuring out good ways to style it for the future, and hopefully I can find something that brings the magic back for me a bit.

 

8. floral-print skater-style dress

Bought from: thrifted
Original cost: £3
Number of wears in this capsule: 3
Why I included it: This was something I’d been hunting for for quite some time, and I lucked out finding it in a charity shop just a couple of weeks before my Spring capsule kicked off. I love the sort of 90’s (I totally mean Buffy the Vampire Slayer here) sort of vibes that come from wearing a floral dress with black tights, chunky boots and an oversized cardigan! So that’s exactly why I included this.  I didn’t have any “formal” events to go to in Spring but I did have a couple of more casual meals out for birthdays and such, and I thought this would be nice as a piece I could dress up a little.
What are my thoughts on it now: I didn’t wear this dress as much as I thought it would – a couple of the dinners I’d planned to wear it to ended up falling during the freakishly warm spell when it was about 18c-20c so this wouldn’t have worked super well for me. I love this dress so much though and think I might actually pull it out again in Winter, so I have more opportunities to wear it with the sort of outfit I like.

9. pleather trousers

Bought from: thrifted
Original cost: £4
Number of wears in this capsule: 2
Why I included it: Similarly to the floral dress above, these trousers were sort of a “last minute” find for me in a charity shop, just before my Spring Capsule got started up. I included them, I think, mostly because they were new and exciting and I was really taken with them.
What are my thoughts on it now: While I really do like the trousers, I do sort of regret including them in this capsule. In Spring the two jackets I wore most were my raincoat and my faux-leather jacket – neither of which go with these trousers at all because the fabrics are too weirdly similiar – it just looks really odd. However these trousers look awesome with my black, Winter coat and a knitted sweater, so it’s possible I’d actually get a lot more wear out of these if I included them for winter rather than Spring. Lesson learned re: making impulsive inclusions based on what’s new to me right now.

 

10. black sweatshirt dress

Bought from: old piece, fast fashion
Original cost: £15
Number of wears in this capsule: 6
Why I included it: This actually wasn’t in my original edit for my Spring Capsule, but on March 1st we had more than a foot of snow lying on the ground so I had to make some changes! This was ideal because it’s basically just a massive sweater that I could wear a thermal top underneath as well as big, fluffly-lined leggings with it too. Not a glamorous piece really, but a lifesaver in cold weather, and because it’s all black (and I wear it with an all black outfit) I still feel quite like myself and not too frumpy.
What are my thoughts on it now: I think it definitely made sense to include it in my Spring capsule, and it’s a piece I’m really glad to own because I know I’ll reach for it again and again when the weather turns super-cold. On that note though, I’m not sure about whether or not I’ll include it in future capsules, or just keep it as a sort of “in case of emergency” piece to be reached for if temperatures plummit – seeing as how weather like that is actually pretty rare here.

Conclusion

So there we have it, a detailed walk through of all the pieces that were in my supplementary Spring capsule! I think it’s fairly clear from reading the post what pieces I wish I’d not included and why:

1. The leopard print jacket doesn’t scream Spring to me
2. The Ravenclaw t shirt just doesn’t fit my style so well right now
3. The pleather trousers because they really can’t be worn with my more “Spring appropraite” jackets.

But, knowing what I know now what would I include instead? What was missing? How would I think about things differently.

1. I think because it was so cold at the start of March, and had been for about 5 months at that point, I struggled to grasp that it would in fact warm up again at some point! In retrospect I didn’t need all the thicker pieces I had included.
2. Shoes was a category I ended up feeling a little confined by. Not in a huge, or problematic way, but if I was going back in time I think I would definitely look at adding in another pair: maybe another pair of trainers that could be worn with jeans/long trousers, but that would also look cute with a dress if the weather was to get warmer.
3. Black leggings. I currently only own one pair and they’ve seen better days to be honest, so I didn’t include them in my capsule, figuring I would just wear them around the house as lounge-wear, but actually I wore them out a lot with the shrinking-fish-dress I talked about above, as well as with some other, longer tops. So I think I definitely need to keep my eye out for a new (to me) pair in the charity shops!
4. While the leopard print jacket was a bit of a swing and a miss, I think my instinct to include a different jacket was right, just not that jacket. Including something like my army shirt would probably have been a better, more flexible option for me, as well as the fact it’s still pretty windproof and warm!

And that’s that! It’s definitely blowing my mind to think that that’s one whole season done (well, basically), where has the time gone? Stay tuned for more posts where I’ll be talking about my overall experience with using a capsule wardrobe system, as well as walk throughs of my Summer capsule. Can’t wait? Did you check out my post talking about what’s inspiring my Summer capsule this year?

 

Starting to Plan my Summer Capsule!

I’m so excited to be sitting down to write this post, partly because I’m so in love with the capsule wardrobe system and the community that surrounds it, but also because I’m so excited that summer, and hopefully sunshine, is on the way!

It’s a little bit funny that the Summer season is the first I’m really documenting on here, because Summer is by far the season I find least inspiring – style wise. In theory, I can think of a lot of cute Summer outfits, but living in Scotland, the reality of our weather often means a less-than-typical Summer wardrobe is required. Typically we get a week, or maybe two if we’re lucky of actually “hot” weather, and the rest of the time the weather floats around between warmish, rainy and downright chilly, so it makes it harder to choose 10 items to add onto my core wardrobe that will actually be usable for most of the Summer season. In the end, I don’t have a crystal ball, so I’ve basically decided that I’ll do my best to choose workable pieces, but if I guess wrong with the weather, then I can always switch pieces out if I need to – the capsule wardrobe system is designed to make my life easier, not to add stress to it after all!

Inspiration and Concepts

Like I said, I have less fun researching Summer style than I do with any other season – but I have put together a Pinterest board, and after skimming past 3000 images of women wearing denim shorts (I wish, but just really not an option here, at least 360 days of the year!), I was pleasantly surprised with a lot of the outfits that were coming up.

//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js
One thing I love about using Pinterest to search for inspiration, is how organic a process it can be. I don’t need to have any ideas in my head when I start; just type in generic terms like “Summer outfits”, “casual outfits” and such, and just pin whatever appeals to me, then, after I have a good amount pinned I can go through the board I’ve made and try and distill the essence of what I’ve pinned into a few concepts. This time around I feel as though the concepts inspiring me for Summer are:

1. Long, flowy dresses and skirts
2. Earth tones instead of black and grey
3.  Less knits, more button downs and blazers

1. Long, flowy dresses and skirts.
I think because I’m short I always thought that it would a) be a nightmare to find long dresses or skirts that would fit me and b) that if they did, they’d drown me and I would look overwhelmed by them. But recently I’ve been stepping out of that comfort zone and have discovered that actually… I quite like a maxi-length dress! They’re surprisingly practical for me too: if it is pretty warm here in Scotland then I can have bare legs, without too much on show, but, if it’s chiller here then I can wear some cropped leggings underneath the skirt and nobody will know, genius!

What I really enjoy is when more delicate, flowing pieces are mixed with either contrasting materials – like a heavy denim – or a contasting style – like a graphicc tshirt layered underneath.

2. Earth tones instead of black and grey
This one actually surprised me when I started to see it crop up on my board, as usually I’m all about the black/grey/white colour (or should I say lack of colour) scheme. But more and more I saw outfits that maybe still included full length jeans or long sleeved sweaters – which are things we definitely still need during a Scottish Summer – but because the outfits included a lot of beige, or khaki or camel they somehow seemed so much lighter than if the bag, the shoes, and the outerwear had been black.

3. Less knits, more button downs and blazers
I have to admit, I hate feeling cold! I really find it distracts me from whatever I’m meant to be doing; be it working, walking or talking to someone, if I can feel a big draught in at my neck, or if I have goose-bumps all up my arms I’m pretty misreable! Because of this I definitely opt for a “better safe than sorry” approach to dressing, and generally finish any outfit I put together with a big cardigan, jumper or sweatshirt. All of this is fine, but it does make my outfits a bit one-note. This Summer, I’d like to break away from this mold and use different items for layering – such as oversized button-down shirts, a denim jacket, or blazers.

Specific Pieces


In terms of specific pieces I’ll be looking to add into my capsule (either from pieces I already have in storage or from a charity shop), I’ll be aiming, as usual, for about ten – give or take a couple, depending on how things go. I don’t yet have a clear idea of exactly what I want the pieces to be (I’ll do a full post later walking through the whole Summer capsule when I have all my decisions locked down), but here are a few things I’d like to add in.

1. denim jacket
I had been combing the charity shops for some time, looking for the ideal denim jacket – but despite coming across quite a lot of jackets, none were right for me! Then, randomly, when clearing out my mum’s closet with her she decided to get rid of her denim jacket, saying she’d worn it so much about 15 years ago, but basically hasn’t touched it since! It’s a great fit and wash of denim for me, and knowing it was my mum’s makes it even more special to me somehow. A denim jacket is such a strong, versatile piece for Summer – I’m so happy to finally have one to add in here!

2. sandals
I actually don’t own a pair of sandals at all; as I discussed here, shoes are a bit of a nightmare for me, but I feel like I really want one pair of sandals to wear on warmer days – even if I’m still wearing jeans and a long sleeved top, it could be nice to add that Summer vibe with some shoes. I don’t have anything specific in mind yet, but let the charity shop hunting commence!

collaged image showing my red wrap dress

3. long wrap dress
when I was going through Pinterest I think I pinned more wrap dresses than anything else! It’s a style that’s flattering on me and I just really enjoy wearing. Luckily, I have a thin, Summer type wrap dress tucked away from a previous year – time to dig it out and see how it works with other things in my wardrobe.

4. oversized button down shirt
As I mentioned above, I really want to get use out of some of my button down shirts, as layering pieces and not just stand alone tops. I have a couple of oversized options in storage (actually just the bottom drawer of my dresser, but “storage” sounds more organised somehow!), so no need to bring in anything new here, it’s just a case of seeing what will work best with the other options I pick out.

Leopard print converse shoes

5. another pair of trainers
Kenny and I love going out for walks around the city, particularly on Summer evenings. While I do have one pair of Converse in my core capsule, I think it’s probably worth adding in a second, just to let me have a bit more variety and flexibility. Like almost everything else I’ve listed so far here, I already have a couple of pairs in storage (this time, “storage” means: under my bed), so again, no need to shop – bonus!

So that’s 5/10 slots where I pretty much know what I want to choose, but that still leaves 5 where I’m not sure yet! I’m tempted to have a look in the charity shops for another long dress or skirt – but, I want to see how many different ways I can find to wear my current one before I buy anything else like it. Also not sure how many “Earth tone” items I own, but again, I’ll have a good raid of my closet before I hit the charity shops, not least because I need to decide what kind of specific pieces I’m looking for – it would be no use buying 4 camel blazers after all!

That’s all for now, I’ll be back soon with a detailed walk-through of the pieces I’m choosing to include. Let me know down in the comments below if you’re planning a capsule wardrobe for the new season – I’d love to hear what’s inspiring you!

 

 

Minimalism and Materialism

When I first started learning about minimalism, or, about minimalists, to be more exact, I was very much under the impression that minimalists were very disinterested in their possessions. I thought that they treated their belongings as entirely utilitarian and that they lived an essentially separate existence from them, only owning and using the bare minimum. Writing this down now, it seems a little mad, but honestly, for the longest time, I thought one of my goals with minimalism was to get to the point where I spent almost zero seconds a day thinking about the objects I own – imagine my shock and disappointment in myself when I very much seemed to be doing the opposite.

Before I discovered minimalism, I would have (if I was being very honest) described myself as materialistic. I had more clothes than I could possibly be aware of, piles of creams and lotions and nail polishes spilling from every surface and enough pens, paint and craft paper to collage the surface of the moon. Shopping was an addiction. I felt a high when I clicked “proceed to checkout” or walked out the store with something new and shiny (or fluffy, or colourful, or sparkly or, well, you get the gist) – I would crave buying things almost all hours of the day. It wasn’t a good day when I hadn’t bought something. So, when I started to pursue a minimalist lifestyle I figured that I would be able to stop compulsively shopping – and yup, mission accomplished – I thought I would be able to reduce the number of unloved items in my home – uh-huh, have done – and I thought I would stop thinking about objects as important, stop wanting to spend hours browsing online and stop being emotionally involved with my possessions – um, no.
What I have now come to realise is that I was never a materialist before. I was a compulsive consumer. I had a strong need to obtain and hoard items, to collect, to stash and to accumulate things at an alarming rate – but I had little to no awareness of the specific items themselves. I bought things only to buy things: discounted things, limited edition things, pointless things and wasteful things. Even necessary items weren’t treated rationally as I stockpiled soap, body lotions and mascara. It didn’t matter what it was: I wanted to accumulate anything and everything as fast as my wallet allowed. I always told myself I was looking for perfection, and what better way to find the perfect t-shirt than to buy ALL the t-shirts. I told myself when I found the right one I would stop, because then I would be happy. But of course, the ad industry worked very hard with my already well-established shopping problems to ensure that I was never to feel satisfied, never to feel complete.

 

At first, after I had calmed down the compulsive shopping (which is a subject for another blog post), the minimalism thing seemed easy, I mean, just don’t buy things, right? Well, obviously, no. Things break, things wear out and our lives and interests change ensuring that from time to time we must replace or introduce new items into our lives. When this first started happening to me, I fell back into old habits – I just didn’t know any different. White shirt gone all grey and pilled? Nip into H&M and replace it. Hand-bag falling to pieces? Primark probably has some in the sale. But then, you see, something interesting started happening. Because I was so conscious of my shopping now, because I had slowed it down so much, I became almost suspicious of the things I was buying. Wait, I need a new hand-bag because the old Primark one has fallen apart after just six months? Should I buy another white shirt if I know I’m not going to take the time to care for it as a white fabric? If I’m only going to own one pair of jeans, is this the pair?
If you own more than 100 tops (which I did), then it’s basically impossible to be fully aware of what washes well, what’s flattering, what dries fast, what is low maintenance – but if you only own three sweaters, well, they can’t take several days to fully dry and they had better not all need ironing every time because seriously… no. Although when I owned lots of clothes, I, like most people, had distinct “favourites” that I wore most of the time – they weren’t true favourites, they were just clothes that were convenient and I sort of got used to, and so I wore them, day in day out, whether I really liked myself in them or not. Owning such a small amount of clothes now, I am much more in tune with what really works well for my tastes and my lifestyle and have essentially eliminated and learned not to repurchase everything that doesn’t work for me.

 

Nowadays, I don’t often shop, but if I do decide I need to make a purchase, then its’s a full-on project. Hours online reading reviews and learning about different companies, Excel Spreadsheets to track my research, budgeting and maintaining an inventory of various categories. Maybe to some, this sounds like exactly the opposite of what minimalism should be – and for me, a year ago, this would have seemed ridiculous – but honestly, this way of living works so well for me, for now at least. I am becoming a conscious consumer; far from perfect, but getting better everyday at making sensible, durable purchases from more ethical sources.
Basically, I’m just so much more involved with my possessions now. Each purchase I make has to be carefully considered, because the item will be with me… basically until it falls apart. Each item I own needs cared for and maintained, because if lose a glove, I don’t just have a stack of spare pairs sitting there. Massively slowing down the rate at which I acquire items has meant I have been able to ensure the purchases I do make are so much more “me” rather than whatever was being pushed that week in the mailing list/magazine/commercial that caught my attention – this has come about by slowing down and being conscious of items as I wear or use them, and learning about them as well as learning about my own needs and preferences.
The flip side to all of this of course, is taking time to remember that these are still all just “things”. It’s all about balance. I found the most perfect ceramic drinking tumblers the other day (drinking out of glasses triggers my anxiety), and while I cherish and enjoy these tumblers every time I use them and I feel they were a worthy addition to my home; if they both dropped and smashed tomorrow, then it would be okay. They are just things.

 

So, if you ask me, it’s great to be materialistic. To have some understanding of the environmental toll that the production of consumer-goods inflicts on the planet’s resources and many of its communities, and to seek to minimise this. To feel grateful for and to fully enjoy your cosiest sweater, your prettiest necklace. Consumption is a necessary part of the human existence, and with that in mind all we can do is make the best choices we can in that moment of our lives and then, be free to make the most of our possessions and the value they add to our lives. I think materialism is a misunderstood word, that gets a really bad rep – we associate it with shallowness or with greed, when really in essence, it’s really anything but. Learning to care about the objects I own has removed so much of the guilt and confusion I used to live with, and opened up so much space in my heart for gratitude and peace.
So here I am: I’m a minimalist and a materialist, and proud.

Minimalism and Nostalgia – What I’ve Learned.

If we were to make a scale running between “cold hearted bitch” and “tears up at every Disney movie ever made”, then set me up with some Kleenex because I am most definitely a nostalgia loving, sappy, kid at heart. Even for those who would consider themselves more “practically minded” than me – the person who kept every sketchbook I ever filled as a kid (spoiler: they were all filled with pictures of horses and ‘fashion designs’ – all named after birthstones or zodiac signs. The fashion designs… and the horses) – I think the idea of tossing out irreplaceable childhood mementos and memories can be pretty daunting. I mean, I can’t just go out and get some Tazos if I decide I want to get into it again, can I?

And of course, as I would point out with all aspects of minimalism – if you want to keep all of those mementos, then you do you – there is of course no right or wrong here, BUT, what if you do decide you don’t want the entire space under your bed to be occupied by Beanie Babies and souveniers from a theme park that doesn’t exist anymore? Well, here’s what I did – what worked for me, and what I regret.

Method One: Put things away in a cupboard? (AKA the “Out of Sight Out of Mind” Method)
 
The first thing I did came right at the start of my decluttering journey, and to be honest, didn’t work that well for me (I mean, there’s probably a reason everyone advises to leave photographs and sentimental items until the very end, but hey, I’m a rebel). I chickened out of even dealing with all the ornaments and trinkets I had amassed from 18th birthday gifts and the like, and instead I put them all in a box and we shoved them at the back of a cupboard somewhere. Some people like this approach, the idea is that you put them away for some months and then if you don’t miss them, or feel anything when you take them out, then they go bye-bye. Of course, the cupboard we shoved the box in happened to also house the Christmas tree, so when my box of precious, irreplaceable items came back out it was during the annual Christmas Tree stress-athon (“Which cupboard did you put the tree in?” “How should I know you put it away!” – Christmas is not Kenny’s favourite thing in the world.) We plucked the box out by accident, thinking it housed the sparkly reindeer (as you do). So, as I looked back through my items it was less of a ‘well thought out reunion’ and more of a quick rifling through newspaper and trying to make a split second decision before the “high up cupboard” was closed again and out of my reach (I do not ‘do’ ladders, for everyone’s sake). In amongst this I sort of realised that this just hadn’t worked for me, because I hadn’t dealt with the emotions associated with the items before I put them away, I just had that decision to make from scratch when I finally took them back out, which made the whole excersise seem a bit pointless (and we never did find the sparkly reindeer last year). It took me just as long to decide how I felt about things then – and at a much more stressful, less convenient time – than if I had just gone through the process properly in the first place – because of course I didn’t actually want to keep the ceramic owl I painted when I was six, I wanted to ‘keep’ the memories associated with it, so physically hiding the owl didn’t help – it was never about the owl.

Method Two: Taking Photographs of Items and Then Getting Rid of the Actual Items (AKA Let’s Get Digital, Digital)

Another thing people suggest doing if you have a bunch of bulky items that you only keep because they remind you of something or someone, is to just take a photograph of those items and then toss the giant stuffed bear/vase you hate/hat that hasn’t fit you since you were eight, and hey presto, a giant box of memories can be condensed down to the size of a flash drive. It sounds great, and for some things I did like this – like, for example with my childhood sketchbooks, I took a bunch of photos of the meticulously labelled sketches I made of outfits for each of The Spice Girls (trust me, they have no idea what they’re missing out on here), and stored those digitally and then was able to get rid of those books and believe me, that felt great, they really did weigh a ton and take up hella space, but… that was about all I liked it for. During my degree (which is in art), I primarily kept visual journals, and again, these things were so bulky that they took up about half of my bookcase, and I mean, how often did I even look at them? So I did the same thing, I took photos and then tossed them, and boy, do I regret it. These pages were layered and textured – they were tactile and meant to be interacted with – the emotion that I felt both for and from them, came from physically touching them and seeing all those layers of writing, of scribbles, of images, and in reducing them to a 2D photograph I robbed myself of ever really getting to “experience” those pages as they were meant to be experienced again. The same is true of some stuffed animals I got rid of – it wasn’t what they looked like that held the magic, it was the feel of their ‘fur’ or their particular level of squishyness if you gave them a hug, and a photograph just doesn’t give you any of that.

Ultimately, I  regret getting rid of my journals – if I knew then what I know now, I would have kept them. With the teddy bears and everything else, I think ultimately I would have let them go onto new homes (and new hugs #sappy), but I think I would have less emotions about it now if I had made a clean break  – thanked them for their service and released them with love – rather than trying to kid myself that I could “keep ahold of them”  through the photographs. You cannot have your massive Eeyore and eat it, or something like that.

Method Three: Better Check Your Mum Doesn’t Want That Teapot

Marie Kondo cautions heavily about storing things in other locations – whether that’s hoarding 33 lipsticks in your desk at work or never fully moving out of your parents house; all of these items are still our posessions, even if they’re not physically in our homes. I totally agree with her there, and I did even go as far as clearing all my stuff out of the attic at my Mum’s – well, except the guitar, I mean, I feel like I totally might come back to that. One day. Not soon. But here’s the thing I learned with nostalgic items – it wasn’t just me who felt nostalgic about some of them. There were items I literally had boxed to go out to charity, but after mentioning them to family members they gratefully scooped them up – totally appalled that I would consider getting rid of them at all. The reason I didn’t feel like this was ‘cheating’ was because I had made my peace with these items and was ready to let them go, one way or another, but I’m not going to lie, it was easier to know they were going to my mum who would cherish them, rather than just releasing them into the big unknown. Of course, I have no idea if she still has the items (I mean, yes, of course she does, she is NOT into minimalism), but it did make it easier to let them go at the time. So while clearly this shouldn’t be your main method of letting go of items, it possibly is worth checking if that handmade felt Christmas tree bauble you made at pre-school means as much to someone in your family as it once did to you (Unless you’re a member of my family where my mum “forgets” to take my 23 years old felt bauble out of the Christmas Box, EVERY YEAR).

Method Four: Suck It Up Buttercup

I wish I could say that there was some easy way that worked for me; some trick or step by step process, but there wasn’t. I’ve taken several passes through my memories box at this point and honestly, I still don’t really have a shitting clue about what to do about a lot of it. I have days where I feel like my heart is being ripped in half at the thought of throwing some of these things out, and then I have days where I feel like my memories box is like a dangerous, emo, wormhole transporting me back to my teens – which it has to be said, were not great – and really, should I revisit those times? Is it healthy to keep the memories of these places and people alive? Is it healthy to not remember them?

Ultimately though, the best method that worked for me was just to sit down and really face the music, and go through it all, all at once. I had huge success in some areas – such as the afformentioned childhood sketchbooks – but I have not done so well in others – stuffed animals have faces, okay, so it’s harder, you have to like look them in the eye as you tell them you don’t love them anymore, oh jeez, here come the Toy Story 3 flashbacks…

Anyway, I have learned a few things along the way through doing this though, namely:

1. The memories that really matter to you, the people that really matter to you, you won’t forget, no matter what, so while I’m not suggesting that you throw out all the old photos of your closest family members and just keep the ones of you with random people at parties (that would be a hilarous photo album to show future children though), but just that if there are items you’re holding onto purely because you’re scared you’ll forget an amazing day, then it is ok to let go. You won’t forget.

2.  You don’t have to get rid of anything. I mean this in both the short term and the long term. Marie Kondo talks of the importance of decluttering once and doing it so thoroughly and properly that it is not an ongoing process, and while for the most part I do think that makes sense, I also know I had good days and bad days (or good months and bad months actually) when it came to decluttering and if I had tried to force anything I would just have ended up building a Beanie Baby fort and defending it with my life – so yeah, in the short term, if it really doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t right; stop the process for as long as you feel you need to. And of course, in the longer term, even if you feel commited to minimalism, remember that there are no rules attached to minimalism, so you can keep every certificate you ever got in school, or have every wall decked out with 100 photos, that’s all totally cool – if it’s what feels right for you.

3. Not all memories are good memories, and by that I don’t just mean the ones that are obviously not good – like the time I was chased by a gaggle of geese at a farm park when I was a young child. I still can’t hear that awful honking noise they make without practically hitting the ceiling. I’m also referring to memories that “should” be good, but aren’t – for me, for example, that was basically anything to do with school. My anxiety crippled my life during my school years and while I always did really well academically (well, I mean, PE doesn’t count right?), I found that any time I looked at a school certificate or souveneir from a school trip, or even photos from back in the day, all I really felt was the fear and the shame and the guilt associated with my anxiety back then. I could consciously remember the feeling of our choir winning the competition, or of getting an A in maths when nobody thought I would (I did do well academically in school, honestly, but there was a certain floppy haired boy in maths class, so you know) – but at the same time as I was trying to focus on those memories, I would also feel the bottom drop out of my stomach and all those bad feelings from the past come back, and ultimately the bad feelings were worse for me than the good thoughts were good. So I got rid of everything from my school days – at least this way nobody can hilariosuly print an old school photo of me in A1 size for my 30th birthday or something…

So that’s it, that’s what I tried and how it worked, and what I know now, which admittedly is arguably still not very much. For me, this was definitely one of the most challenging aspects of shifting to minimalism, but I overall feel I’ve done pretty well in letting things go, but as you can hopefully tell from the hopefully artsy pictures that I have hopefully taken and sprinkled gracefully thoughout this post, I definitely haven’t gotten rid of everything either.

Ironically enough, for me the next step is to actually bring out more nostalgic stuff in the form of getting some digital photos printed (did you know we can do that??!?) and getting some memories put up on our walls. I very much like blank walls, but I very much like some of the people I’ve been lucky enough to know and some of the places I’ve been lucky enough to go to, too. The difference is that while sometimes I used to feel like I was living in a time capsule surrounded by so many memory triggers, now I can be sure to choose the photos of the times I really want to remember and then bring them out where I can enjoy them.

As always, if you yourself have gone through the decluttering process – KonMari style or otherwise – let me know what your experiences were, and hey, if you’re not into the thought of minimalism at all, let me know about that too!

Minimalism Means Muffins

I’m not 100% sure where I’m going with this post if I’m honest; I’ve changed the title 11 times and normally that’s a sign for me that I’m not sure enough to write whatever I’m trying to write, but I’ve had the idea brewing at the back of my mind for a while and figured it was about time I try and commit something to paper, erm, web page. So, a lot has changed since I started embracing a “less is more” way of living – a lot of things that can be easily quantified or explained a la “oh my gosh, there was floor under all those clothes?!”, but some other things that are potentially even more palpable for me as experiences, but at the same time, a lot harder to pinpoint. This post is about two of those things.
 

 

So, guys I’ve been making muffins. Like on multiple occasions. I know, right?  Baking for me is one of those things that I always see myself doing (and for some reason I always tell employers I do when they ask me about “me outside work” at interviews – what’s that about?), but I actually never do. I guess it always falls below the other tasks in life like work, cleaning and making “proper” food, because apparently “brownies aren’t a nutritionally balanced dinner”, pfft. Even in terms of hobbies, baking falls way down on the list for me; something about the idea of dragging 18 utensils out from the back of cupboards, and then reaching for all the ingredients – about 50% of which will have now expired of course – and then after it all, I have to clean up, are you serious? Yeah, somehow reading a book with a huge mug of tea and a blanket just seems more relaxing somehow.

My muffins – because I’m only competent enough to make one kind, you see – are banana based, and one day, I was working at my laptop at the table and I noticed the bananas in the fruit bowl were really past it. Huh. Those would be good to go into muffins, or else they need to go in the bin. Then I literally just turned my head to the right – didn’t even have to move off my chair – and I could see we had flour, oil, etc. I could picture the mixing bowl’s location, the baking tray – heck, I even knew where my apron was. And all of a sudden I stood up from my laptop and I made some muffins.

Normally, I plan baking like a week in advance, warning friends and loved ones not to call that day BECAUSE I’LL BE BAKING, only for it all to end up in a frustrated mess starting as soon as I lay the scales out on the counter. Normally it seems arduous and like it takes hours, and now, suddenly I’m that person that just “whips up” some baked goods in time for Kenny coming home – I mean, just the one type of baked goods really, but you know. Could this spontaneous muffin spawning be related to minimalism somehow?

Another thing that happened is my return to the world of lasagne making. I’m not a great cook, I’m not even really a good cook, but I am competent, especially with simple recipes, but guys, can I make a lasagne? No, no I cannot. Every single one is either too dry, or to saucy, or the béchamel is sweet or something else weird. I actually gave up altogether a couple of years ago because I got so frustrated and it legitimately made me feel not so great about myself – I’m the daughter of the world’s best lasagne maker you see, although I could be biased there. Anyway, one day recently, I woke up and I wanted lasagne, big time. I went to the store and I’m peering into the ready meals cabinet, having resigned myself to something sub-par and preservative laden, and suddenly I think, “no, I’m going to make a lasagne for dinner tonight”. I Google a recipe on my phone and standing there in the store, I’m able to recall what ingredients I have, what size dish I’ll use, and exactly what’s on my schedule for the rest day – so I know how to time this out. I was so calm, so able to make this split-second decision, whereas normally with my legitimate anxiety issues and my not-so-legitimate lasagne angst this would have had me in cold sweats and ready to hide under the duvet. Long story short, I made a lasagne, my béchamel vanished altogether (?!?!?!?!) and we ate dinner at like 9:30pm, but you know what I did after dinner? I didn’t cry. I didn’t apologise 8,000 times to Kenny for making us eat so late because I had some weird whim. Nope, I cleared up and then I reached for my cooking notebook and made some notes re: my discovery of vanishing béchamel. I stored the leftover pasta sheets, calm in the knowledge I’d be reaching for them again soon, and I went on with my life. Could this be a minimalist thing?

Erm, yes I am aware that all of the photos in this post are in fact of pancakes, but I didn’t take photos of the muffins ok? So these are banana pancakes instead. Close enough.

It’s very hard to see how muffins and lasagne would be related to it all if I look at the big picture, but I think when I break it all down it becomes pretty clear that all of this was a direct result of my adopting a more minimalist lifestyle. Everything from the fact I could actually see the fruit bowl on the table to know that we had bananas that needed using – rather than finding some furry blue unidentifiable shapes in a bowl under the clutter three weeks later – to knowing what ingredients we have and where they are, to not being so hooked on some trashy Netflix show that I feel I don’t have time to make a lasagne. I could make notes in my cooking book, because I could FIND the cooking book. I didn’t end up a frustrated, sauce covered mess while cooking, because I had my apron to hand and I wasn’t multitasking 17 things so I actually remembered to put it on.

I feel this may not come across that clearly, like I said, it’s harder to draw an arrow pointing to it and say “result of minimalism”, but for me, the connection is as clear as day and I honestly, truly, would not have believed before I saw the results for myself that learning to adopt a more minimalist lifestyle would have opened up my mind and my mood and my opportunities so much that I would feel like I had the time, or the ability to make muffins – as silly as I’m sure that sounds. I feel more in control of my own time and my own mind; there is no “chore I should be doing”, there is no Netflix running in the background to distract me. I feel like I’m really starting to see the effects of my hard work to “live lighter” trickling down into real world results, and I like what I see. Now, does anyone have a good lasagne recipe they’d like to share?