4 April 2015

Work Capsule Wardrobe for Spring

Casual Capsule Wardrobe for Spring

27 October 2014

On a more positive note

I feel like some of my recent posts have given the impression that I'm a rampant consumer on a non stop shopping binge, with nothing better to think about than the contents of my wardrobe. Thats because I have a tendency to put a lot of pressure on myself and to dwell on all of my perceived failings. Whilst perfectionism can be a positive personality trait, it can also have its downsides and for me that manifests in setting unrealistic goals and then getting annoyed with myself when I fall short. Usually a bit of distance helps me to look at a situation more objectively and in the last week or so I've realised that I need to be a bit kinder to myself and to focus more on what IS going right (rather that what's gone wrong).

So instead of focusing on what mistakes I've made, I thought it would be good to write about what progress I've made this year.

  • So far this year, I've bought 16 items of clothing and 3 pairs of shoes which is less than I've bought in any other year. My goal was to buy no more than 20 items in 2014 so hopefully I will come in fairly close to my goal. 
  • More important than the numbers, is that I'm really enjoying wearing the clothes I have in my wardrobe and I feel like I'm not making as many impulse buys and mistakes as I have previously.
  • I currently own 93 items of clothing/shoes/bags in total which is down from a whopping 250 items around 8 years ago! Its been a very gradual process and there was a time when I couldn't even comprehend getting below 100 items. I try not to get too fixated on the numbers and instead just enjoy wearing what I own, and letting things go when they are past their best,
  • This year I've really enjoyed the process of creating a capsule wardrobe of 30 items for 3 months (in the spirit of Project 333) and will continue this into 2015. I enjoy selecting 30 items and find that after 3 months I look forward to swapping things around and adding some of my sidelined items into my wardrobe. I find this means that I'm less likely to get bored of my clothes and takes away some of the urge to shop.
  • I think I may have finally learned my lesson when it comes to skincare and I've been forced to end my months of experimentation due to a pretty nasty skin reaction (itchy spots & eczema). Strangely it seemed to be the natural skincare that triggered this, not the months of applying acids and chemicals! My current routine is very stripped back while I try and repair some of the damage I've done, and I hope to keep it this way and resist the urge to continually try new things.

So this completes my little round up of victories this year, and I feel better for writing this. I think we're hardwired as humans to focus on the negative but if we seek out the positive and focus on our progress (humbly and without gloating) then it can change our whole mindset, 

I'd love to hear from you so please do share your thoughts on your own small (or big) victories.

V xx

7 October 2014

Feeling like a failure

A long time has passed since my last post, but I’ve been feeling hesitant about writing due to some recent shopping failures. I was hoping that I could use this blog as a tool to keep me accountable but recently I’ve found myself reverting to some bad habits and I've been reluctant to own up here. However, one of my goals for 2014 was to be kinder to myself and not beat myself up for making mistakes so in the spirit of this I’m going to accept, let go and move on! As much as I hoped that writing on this blog would help me to make better choices, I also want it to be somewhere I can write honestly about the challenges I face on a daily basis trying to a conscious consumer. So on that note, I want to write about something which has been troubling me a great deal recently and that is mental clutter.

I’ve mentioned previously that as I make progress towards my goal of shopping more mindfully and creating a minimalist wardrobe, that my obsessive tendencies have resurfaced in other areas. This is something that I've only become aware of quite recently and I'm at a loss as to how to get a handle on it. As I declutter my home and limit the amount of items I buy I realised that I still spend a great deal of time planning purchases, obsessing over the optimal way to store my jewelry/clothes/scarves etc and concocting the ‘perfect’ skincare regime. All this = what I think of as 'mental clutter'.

As my interest in minimalism and simplicity has deepened, I want to shop more consciously but I struggle with the tendency to over analyse and research every purchase. As an example, I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to use more natural skincare. This has led to countless hours researching how to make a toner, and the best oils for my skin type. Part of my has enjoyed this little research project but there is also a part of me that feels overwhelmed by the amount of information and choice out there. I can now see that by being so strict this year with my clothing purchases, I had just transferred my compulsion to shop into other areas. So I've been swapping one bad activity for another, which was never my intention! 

Like everything in life, they key is to try and find balance between shopping mindfully, but not obsessively. To enjoy each purchase rather than constantly dreaming of the next purchase. To balance my enjoyment of dressing well and crafting a minimalist capsule wardrobe with all the other stuff going on in my life. I find it frustrating that I'm still struggling with this after so long but progress is rarely a straightforward linear path and I need to accept that I'll hit stumbling blocks along the way.

V x x                                           

8 August 2014

A Minimalist Skincare Regime

Recently I wrote about how my spending on beauty products had gotten out of control in the first half of the year and so I had resolved to cut back for a month or 2. I’d like to be able to say that I did exactly that, but as usual I’m a master at inventing reasons to shop and so having decided that I wanted to make a move towards using more natural, homemade skincare I started to explore the oil cleansing method. I did a lot of research into the many oils available and decided to purchase some passion fruit seed oil and some hazelnut oil, as these seemed to be good oils for my skin type and at only £5 total I figured if they didn’t work out I hadn’t wasted too much money. Around the same time, I also ran out of facial sunscreen, and after some research into natural sunscreens I purchased some Kimberly Sayer Ultra Light Moisturiser with SPF30 (costing £25.80 for 120ml). So after a shaky start, I’m now committed to no more spending until the end of this month when I plan to purchase some ingredients to make my own toner. I’ve also decided that for the rest of the year I won’t be buying any more skincare products, apart from the raw ingredients needed to make my own products.

As a kick start to this little shopping ban and move towards homemade skincare, for the last 2 weeks I’ve been conducting a minimalist beauty experiment. So my current routine is:

Morning and Evening - cleanse with Passion fruit seed/Hazelnut cleansing oil, remove with a washcloth. Follow with toner.
Morning – use a natural sunscreen, evening – apply a few drops of Passion fruit seed oil.
Once a week I use a Salicylic Acid Toner.

I’m also using a few drops of Hazelnut oil as a hair oil.

To put this in context, my previous skincare routine involved the following: double cleansing using a cream cleanser, and a foaming face wash with my Clarisonic, then following with 2 types of toner (hydrating, then exfoliating), a serum, eye cream and moisturiser, sunscreen for day time, weekly exfoliating peels and weekly face masks.

It wasn't always this way, as for most of my life I'd been content to cleanse and moisturise, and always used a sunscreen. However, at the beginning of this year I started reading articles on the Paula Begoun site and reading a lot of skincare blogs and it led me to question my existing routine. I justified it by telling myself that other people had similar routines and that if it meant having great skin then it was worth it, but I’m horrified to write this all down! Needless to say, I didn’t see any improvement in my skin whatsoever, and at times by skin was actually slightly worse!

I've now been following this routine for around 2 weeks and my skin looks good, with no spots or red patches. I wouldn't say there has been a massive improvement but it feels soft and looks quite radiant which is enough for me. I'd love to hear about other peoples skincare routines and if anyone else is interested in natural skincare?

V xx

26 July 2014

Holiday in Scotland - What I Packed

My Holiday Capsule Wardrobe

Above is what I packed for a recent family summer holiday to the South West Coast of Scotland. We were fortunate to enjoy beautiful sunny days so the jacket, sweater and long sleeved shirt didn't get worn but I enjoyed wearing everything else that I packed. I'm really starting to notice a difference in how I'm feeling in my clothes since adopting a modified version of Project 33, and this really hit home on holiday. It just feels easier getting dressed each day, and I feel that my clothes really suit my lifestyle and reflect who I am right now. Maybe part of this is getting older (I turn 32 next month) so I feel like I can wear what I want, regardless of whats in fashion or what other people are wearing and not have to make any apologies for it. I'm also starting to notice other subtle changes, I've had my hair cut shorter and can't remember the last time I blow dried it or straightened it. I wear very little make up these days and even though I still love to buy beauty products (as evidenced in my last post!) I'm more interested in improving my skin so that I can go makeup free rather than masking imperfections. I'm actually conducting a little minimalist beauty experiment right now and I'll write more about this later.
V xx

1 July 2014

6 Month Check In

Given that we're now halfway through the year I've recently been conducting a little review of the clothes I've purchased in the last 6 months. My goal at the start of the year was to buy no more than 20 items in 2014 and so far I have bought 11 things so am on track to stick to my limit. One factor which I think has contributed to my success (I usually never manage to stick to my limits!) has been having a couple of shopping bans, so for example from the beginning of January until the end of March I didn't buy any clothes, shoes or accessories.

One unfortunate side effect of these little shopping bans is that my spending on beauty products has gotten a bit out of control recently. Because I don't keep track of my beauty purchases like I do with new wardrobe additions, I didn't realise how bad it had gotten until I decided to list all the products I bought this year. I'm a real spreadsheet geek (I've recorded all my clothing purchases since 2006!!) so I came up with a list of everything I bought, and the price, and was shocked to realise I bought 22 products (skincare and make up but not including stuff like shower gel, deodorant, toothpaste) and spent over £200! This is even more shocking in light of the fact that I now work part time and money is tighter than ever, so realising that I'm spending £35 a month has been a real wake up call.

I think because I've become more content with my wardrobe and am consuming less in this area, my urge to shop has spilled over into another area and instead of browsing online for clothes I now waste time reading beauty blogs and skincare reviews! I've always been interested in looking after my skin, but have only really taken a serious interest in it since the start of the year when I discovered a blog by Caroline Hirons. I've also read a lot of what Paula Begoun has to say on the subject and have become a bit obsessed with the product reviews on Beautypedia. I love reading about the science behind it all, and its fascinating to me how many skincare brands make completely ludicrous claims without the slightest bit of evidence to back them up. As a result, my usual 2 step skincare routine (cleanse and moisturise) has acquired a few additional steps and I'm trying more products out in my quest to get perfect skin!

That said, as I work towards a more minimalist, simplified life I need to be mindful of creating additional physical and mental clutter so I'm putting the brakes on and have decided that for the rest of the month I won't be buying any beauty products and will also avoid browsing online too.

V x

22 June 2014

My Style - 2 years ago

I was browsing through some old photos recently and came across this one taken in Paris, in February 2012. It really brought home how little my style has changed since then, and how I would be more than happy to wear this exact same outfit again. When I started this blog, I wanted to:

"hone and define my style, and really drill down to what I like and what works for me. I want to have a clear overall vision of my style, so there is a common theme running through it and a feeling of cohesiveness."

Looking back on this photo, and others taken over the last few years makes me realise that I have made a lot of progress in figuring out what works for me. I finally feel like 'me' in the clothes I wear and not like I'm emulating the style of someone else. I still make mistakes from time to time, and of course I occasionally look at other people and wish I looked as good as them, but for the most part I'm pretty content with my wardrobe right now.

What is also nice to observe is that I still own most of the things I'm wearing in the photo, which is a very good sign to me that I'm buying things with more longevity now instead of tiring of them after one year. I did upgrade the black bag for a Longchamp Le Pliage Cuir and have recently donated the black sweater after 4 years of wear (and bought almost the exact same version from COS), and am happy that I'm finally moving towards a slower, more thoughtful buying process.

My husband and I are going to Paris in October and I'm so excited I can hardly wait. I'm pretty sure my packing list will be pretty similar to what I packed last time, but I will be sharing more on this nearer the time.

V x

14 June 2014

What I'm wearing right now

Above is a polyvore image that I created which shows my current capsule wardrobe (not including work clothes). In total I have included 20 pieces, not shown is another long sleeved stripy tee and a couple of vests for layering. Since the beginning of this year I've been following minimalist blogger Courtney Carvers wardrobe experiment Project 333
and have really embraced the idea of creating a capsule wardrobe of 33 pieces to last 3 months. I have tweaked the idea to suit my own needs and I generally pick 30 items including clothes, shoes, bags and outerwear but I don't include accessories and jewellery. It also doesn't include at home clothes or exercise clothes. I also switch mine up every 2 months because in England we have quite changeable weather and I like to make sure what I have in my wardrobe is tailored to the season. Having said that, we do have very erratic weather here so thats why you will find shorts and a raincoat in rotation!

I'm really happy with how this is working out so far and feel like it does make getting dressed each day a little bit easier and stress free. I feel like for me 30 seems like the perfect amount, not so much that it becomes overwhelming and not too little that it feels restrictive in any way. It also works well for my lifestyle which encompasses working in a formal office environment 3 days a week and being at home with the children 4 days a week. I'd be interested to know if anyone else has tried anything like this?

V x

7 June 2014

Here we go again

Ok, so this has been a very long time coming but here I am again, ready to give this another go. I'm sorry to anyone who read my last post (2 years ago!!) and waited for another post that never materialised but a few days after I wrote it I found out I was pregnant and was faced with 9 months of non stop sickness. Needless to say, blogging fell way down my list of priorities as I barely managed to look after my daughter and make it to work each day. Two years on, life is full and busy and lovely, and I am still on an endless quest to look stylish with a small wardrobe!

I would say that my progress has been mixed along the way and unfortunately a few mistakes and impulse buys have occurred over the last couple of years and I've bought more clothes than I would have liked. Although I managed with a pretty small capsule wardrobe throughout both my pregnancies, I did need to repurchase a lot of clothes second time round since I wore my maternity clothes so heavily first time round. Also after my son was born last year and the baby weight didn't drop off as quickly as I would have liked, I felt like I never had any clothes that fit me so I bought a few 'interim' pieces. As much as a new baby brings so much joy into your life it is also hard dressing a 'new to you' body and dealing with all the hang ups that arise from not being entirely comfortable with your weight.

At this point in time I do feel like I have a really clear idea of my style and have been pretty disciplined this year when it comes to shopping. The thing that never seems to get any easier is the constant urge to shop, there is always so much temptation around and it is a daily battle to stay away from shops and my biggest weakness which is online shopping. That said, I do really think hard about what I buy and try my utmost not to be a mindless consumer. I think this is something we all struggle with in some ways, as people who want to look good and create a perfectly formed small wardrobe, we are always going to be faced with temptation and inspiration from so many different sources. I'm trying to accept that these urges will always be present, but find ways to manage them without stressing myself out and feeling guilty if I make a mistake. One thing that I have found helpful this year is to take a break for a few months, so for example I went to London in March and bought a few new things from COS so I then took a 2-3 month break from shopping and tried to stay away from shops, both real and online. So far it is working well but my issue is then trying not to get too consumed with shopping and online browsing when I'm not on a 'break'.

I'm brimming with ideas and things I want to write about, mostly just to find a sense of clarity from all the crap swirling round in my brain so I will hopefully find time to write again very soon. I'm not sure yet whether I will keep this blog totally focused on my wardrobe as I'm very interested in seeking simplicity and minimalism in all areas of my life so we will see where this goes. Thanks to anyone that reads this and a very big thank you to those that commented, encouraging me to write again. It means a lot.

V x