Monday, August 08, 2016

Planning my Fall Capsule Wardrobe Shopping: August 2016

Even though we're living in front of the fan, and running the air conditioner much more often than I prefer (those things EAT electricity!); I'm still already thinking about what I'm going to wear this winter. (well, I'm also thinking about what I'm going to pack for our trip to Italy next month...)

First things first - you can't plan what you're going to buy unless you make a clear and complete inventory of what you already have! It's an amazing thing to read, repeatedly, about how women will buy a garment, only to return home and realize that they ALREADY OWN a very similar item. There's a big planning fail in there...

So I'm starting with my "Whatever's Clean" capsule wardrobe assortment for cool weather:

How to build a capsule wardrobe step by step with watever's clean 13
Open cardigan – L.L.Bean; hoodie – L.L.Bean; button cardigan – 
Lands’ End;white shirt – Lands’ End; denim shirt – Lands’ End; cashmere
 turtleneck – Lands’ End; black tee – L.L.Bean; white tee – L.L.Bean
striped top – Uniqlo; black jeans – L.L.Bean; skirted leggings – Eileen Fisher
dress pants – Eddie Bauer; dress - Eileen Fisher

This is, in my current circumstance, plenty of clothing, all on its own. On days when I'm not leaving the building (and remember that I have a gym, grocery store, laundry room, dry cleaner etc. IN MY BUILDING, so it's not like I'm a recluse) I can wear gym clothes all day. These 13 pieces, on their own, will get me through most activities in my life....

And yes, this looks pretty monotone, as well as monotonous. But remember that I almost always wear a scarf in cooler weather, and that I always wear earrings, usually a bracelet, and so things aren't quite this stark when being worn.

Even though I have enough clothes, I share the very common instinct to want to shop, and to have something new for the upcoming season. So I've been browsing around the internet and organizing my "objects of desire" like this:

How to build a capsule wardrobe step by step with watever's clean 13
Striped sweater – L.L.Bean; pants – L.L.Bean;
 loafers - L.L.Bean

How to build a capsule wardrobe step by step with watever's clean 13
ponte knit dress - Lands' End

How to build a capsule wardrobe step by step with watever's clean 13
sweater - Save the Children Christopher Kane

How to build a capsule wardrobe step by step with watever's clean 13
yes, as much as I like Uniqlo, there's nothing there -
yet - that bangs my shutters

I'm going to keep on with this system for a while, just to keep things straight in my mind. This will help me in a few ways that I can immediately see:
  1. I can check to see if any of these items get marked down (although price really shouldn't be the first consideration when shopping - cost per wear is much more important!)
  2. When I'm unpacking my existing winter wardrobe, I plan to have these images RIGHT IN FRONT of me, so that I will realize if I already have one or more of these items. I have a hunch that once I get a good look at my gorgeous grey sweater with black stars, I won't really feel a deep longing for a dotted sweater, too.
  3. Having all of these collected in 1 place makes it possible for me to allocate my spending in a strategic way. 
  4. When I see new clothes coming out, I can look back at this "wish list" and realize that I don't HAVE to buy black corduroy pants the first second I see them - they will pretty much always be around in cool weather. This false sense of urgency can be a budget and closet buster...
  5. For me, just the process of copying an image and then pasting it into my PowerPoint file forced me to really consider my fondness for the item. There are a lot of things that I admire, but don't really need to buy! Always remember the Eiffel Tower...
If you don't feel like building a PowerPoint file to keep track of your shopping desires and plans, this is the kind of idea that could easily translate into a blank book or other planner. I would suggest that you try to keep things as compact as possible, so that you can see the entire amount that you might buy, and the entire number/assortment of pieces that you're considering.

Does anyone else have a shopping plan system that you're willing to share?  


p.s. I'm TRYING to get the "reply" option back in the Comments. Google is such a mystery...
How to build a capsule wardrobe step by step with watever's clean 13
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  1. This is such a good idea. It's funny that your focus on clothes is all about having clothes NOT be the focus of your life, since your priority is travel. And that is a worthy priority--far better than clothes.

  2. That false sense of urgency and fear of missing out are powerful. My solution is to recognize that I can't make good buying decisions for the upcoming season when everything is packed away. I have to unpack everything, lay it out to see what I have and what I don't have. Then and only then do I decide why holes I have and develop a buying plan. I admit that sometimes this means I really do miss out on buying opportunities, but nothing tragic has happened thus far.

  3. That false sense of urgency is something that I've had to overcome as well - being a petite plus-size added to that sense as there were very limited options bothy style-wise and size-wise. I have to keep reminding myself that I've lost enough weight that I now have more options plus I bought quite a few clothes last Fall so, if truth be told, the only thing I REALLY need to buy is one or two pairs of shoes. That didn't stop me drooling over some lovely new cashmere sweaters from Lord & Taylor that have just arrived in the shops. I took a deep breath, reminded myself that they have a large stock and that I really have to shop wisely this year and put my credit card away. Going to really think about my best options and then allow myself 1 or 2 additions (in colours that will mix & match well with what I already own) instead of the 4 or 5 that I could have bought yesterday. I want to really ensure the ANY purchases fall within the accent colours I've settled on for this year. It will take some will power.

  4. Love the system! I do the same by getting to checkout and I've forgotten magic numbers etc It's worked all year sometimes! X Chris from Australia

  5. Interesting post! Like Margie I am petite plus-size so quite limited shopping. I have taken a long time to build up my wardrobe so not exactly into throwing anything out. Over the last year I have listed all my clothes in a spread sheet sorted by type (knitted singlets, long sleeved t-shirts) and even sorted by colour. I have a retired casual lifestyle. Using the slot machine and whatever's clean (I love those concepts) I wear the tops in the order they are on the spread sheet (and the maximum day temperature) and the skirts in a varied order. I have learnt from this exercise that I have enough clothes and the urge to buy is hugely reduced. For special events I do try a more co-ordinated approach. Thanks again. Carol S

  6. last spring I bought the ll bean dress - after seeing it here - and it's a definite keeper. a bit short for a woman my age, but I "faced" the hem for an extra 1.5 and it's ok. you will love it.

    always wondered how you did the layouts... thanks for the pp tip.

  7. Pinterest and Google docs are my shopping system.

    Every new thing I buy I pin to a private pinterest board. That way I have an 'at a glance' view of my wardrobe. My three private boards are summer, winter, and maybe. :P

    My google doc lists clothes I own in sections - tops, bottoms, dresses - organized by color. Things that might too tight or in need of repair are marked.

    My rule is only to buy new things when they've been on my maybe board for two weeks, and/or if they aren't a duplicate of something on my google doc list. Getting organized really helped me curb my shopping habit, and helped those "I have so many clothes but nothing to wear" moments.

  8. I discovered LL Bean for casual retirement clothing. I am on the cusp of petite plus so fit is important. I put items on my wish list and take a look every once in while to note price changes. If I really don't need the item, I just remove it from the list. I am trying to stick to a grey/navy neutral wardrobe with blue as an accent but other accent colours do creep in.

  9. Such good ideas, Janice. I have kept my wardrobe 90% whatever's clean and love it! No more having to think of what to wear every day! Because of you I'm venturing out to other colors and finding that they can also go with my neutrals of tan and navy. Grey for example can work with tan very elegantly if it's the right shade so I've added in some grey that goes well with my blond-grey hair. A system? I recently took out all my fall -winter items and put all tops on the bed and photographed them, then all pants,, then all cardi-layering pieces, then skirts and dresses , I discarded anything too worn or that no longer fits or that I do t wear before taking the photos. I found that I actually don't need much at all! Just a little more fun variety as everything is either solid or striped Some fun prints to find . I'll look for inspiration In your archives! . Janice Collins, Washington DC

  10. I keep a running wish list in my planner, along with the date I added each item... I find that many of my entries are crossed off within a few weeks because they are replaced by another lust, or I realize how some item will not work for me or my budget. I am trying to limit my purchases to 5 per season (F/W and S/S: two seasons) unless it is a replacement for a worn out or damaged basic. (There's a sticky note with my fives as I buy them in my walllet so that I don't conveniently "forget" how much I have bought!)

  11. Janice,
    I, too, am a plus sized petite, and I have taken several years to build my wardrobe with mix and match capability. Fortunately, I have a very large walk in closet where everthing that's hangable is located for all seasons and hangs all year round so that I can see at a quick glance what I already have. The caveat to this is that the more space that is available, the more I have purchased to fill it ! I can see that I have overdosed on solids and stripes in both neutrals and accent color tops, and need to replace some of those with prints or patterns, but finding them in closely matching colors to what I already own and in medium sized patterns has proven to be a real challenge ! There seem to be so many very large prints on the tops that I have seen. The search continues.

  12. Hmmm, knit corduroys - that's a new one for me and it just might be perfect for my trip to Ireland mid-September. I am trying very hard NOT to look like a typical U.S. tourist wearing sneakers and jeans. I still have over a month before I leave but I have already starting my pre-packing routine: I take over the guest room and lay my outfits on the bed. To avoid the ubiquitous blue jean look I selected 2 pairs of denim - one is black and the other is deep indigo. I've also included a pair of pants that you have featured several times - the 100% cotton L L Bean 'weekend' trousers. They're comfortable, lined and look like wool.

    No skirts or dresses required this time which simplifies everything. So with 3 pairs of pants now I can start on tops (tees, polos, cardigans, sweatshirts etc.) It will take me a month to finalize everything and keep it simple.

    Thanks for all your work.

    Mary (mcm)

  13. I am so pleased to see an entry on your personal wardrobe. I find that subject particularly helpful because my "colors" are similar (black and white with touches of red and pink; I include certain shades of grey and blue as well.

    I also see in your real-life wardrobe more change than you actually write about. The visual changes are fascinating, particularly the wardrobe that included options for each outfit.

    I missed hearing (or seeing) how you handled this past summer. When it gets cooler, I hope you are willing to summarize your summer wardrobe.

    I am a short person who is also going through a significant down-sizing (down-sizing three or possibly even four full sizes). I do not want to waste money but neither do I want to look "baggy" or "ill". Any tips in dressing for this life experience (beyond the the slot machine or "whatever's clean) would be welcome.

    I love, love, love your blog. I have learned so much that I can apply to my daily life.

    Susan in WA.

  14. I see the reply button is back....well done. I am doing my best to not all into the have to buy it trap because it is ultimately a fear based way to select clothes etc. I think we sewists have an additional challenge. We see fabric and " have to buy" even without having a plan for that fabric. Now, I do my best to have a very specific plan and timeline for the use of the fabric before I buy.
    I am still a work in progress.
    Deb from Vancouver

  15. good motivation to look through our fall and winter clothing before buying new items! I love your various charts to organize feels so good not be a random shopper.

    I have been working the past year to get my neutral core items in a good matching color and giving away the rogue variations that don't work as well. This has freed up spaces that I am carefully filling with the matching color, so all my clothes work well together. I thank you for the tip to try to buy the 4 core items from the same designer or brand so they match, which inspired this careful matching. It has paid off and it is so much faster to put together outfits. I have a list of things to watch for. I just bought a merino wool burgundy cardigan at the Nordstrum sale that had been on my list for two years.I found the matching shoes last year, so now I can use them with navy, gray, and olive neutral core pieces. I mention this to show that your posts have made a difference and your efforts are appreciated in educating our taste and tightening up our shopping habits. I Love what you do!

    ps I loved the Instagram posts where you showed a blouse, sweater and earrings for the day. Those were very helpful to me; please consider doing that type of thing again.

  16. Thank you for this, so helpful! I am tall and plus sized, options are also limited for me and I have a history of panic buying but I think this would really help. Nicola x

  17. Italy in the fall - how exciting!! We were in Tuscany and Umbria two years ago in October and it was a glorious time. We had some hot days as well as some chilly ones. Love seeing and thinking about your fall wardrobe. It will be hot here in GA for a couple more months, so I won't be pulling out any cool weather clothing for a good while, which underlines the wisdom of doing my planning on my computer or on paper. I don't need much, but there are a few holes. I have seen some amazing scarves to whose siren song I might succumb! - nancyo

  18. Cracker post and comments today - the best of TVF, with expert advice from Janice and thoughtful responses from the community, including additional useful tips. Thank you all.
    At the other end of the world, Spring is around the corner but plenty of cold weather still ahead. It's the spring colours that tempt me, with all those bright little jonquils, grape hyacinths and camellias ... None of them really colours for my wardrobe but so jaunty!
    My tip for laying out clothes on the bed is to put a white sheet on top first. I find the plain background very helpful for mixing and matching outfits. In another month or do it will be time to do the 'changeover review' here.
    I'm still impulsive, still afflicted by that sense of urgency, but taming the urges better with Janice's clear advice about planning and always knowing - and valuing - what you already have. I like the idea of a pinboard (or similar) to store ideas for replacements or new items as a way of carefully preparing instead of rushing in.
    Thanks everyone! Robyn in Tasmania

  19. Anyone else out there who also keeps a Do Not Buy list tucked in her wallet? I have to remind myself I have enough jeans (stockpiled, bought on sale) and plenty of black sweaters.

    Once you have the list, timing is important; for two years I wanted a pair of not ugly red walking sandals but waited till June and everything in my size was s/o. This year I snatched them in April as soon as they hit.

    1. Oh that's a good idea Duchesse! I SHOULD put cashmere sweaters on that list - but it is my real weakness. Perhaps I should put something like 1 only or 2 only on my list next to certain items. After reading everyone's comments I think I really do need to have it written down - perhaps actually seeing the number count in black and white will have more impact than simply saying "don't buy anymore of ....."

  20. Having pictures of almost all my clothes helps! Organized and tagged in Picassa where it is also possible to make collages. Recently I started saving pictures directly from the site right after purchase to avoid trouble of taking pictures and cropping by myself.
    Thank you Janice so much, your work is so incredibly helpfull and my habits regarding clothes transformed. This is my 3rd seasonal capsule I'm making. (each 3 months)

  21. Have you considered these black leather slingback loafers from Zara?

  22. Due to significant weight loss, I've just spent quite a bit of money to replace nearly my entire wardrobe (although shopping with focus and prudence). Because many pieces were thrifted, I'm photographing them for the Stylebook app. But I do like using PowerPoint to make outfit and color palette collages, or to build Whatever's Clean travel wardrobes for vacations.
    I also find MS OneNote to be very useful for "imaginary shopping", keeping information about online shopping orders, and creating lists for items that need to be replaced due to wear or because I need it in a smaller size.
    Then I use Pinterest to keep general information about Capsule Wardrobes, as well as some private boards for Style Inspiration, and for stylish comfort shoes.
    In reviewing this post it sounds like an awful lot of fussing over my wardrobe, but I think organizing and curating is taking the place of the actual shopping. So a good trade-off!