Today I am wrapping up wearing my “loose 30 x 30” capsule of holiday clothing. I am switching over to a winter capsule tomorrow (January 2) — I am SO excited to be playing along with Sterling and others in another capsule experiment (although I will be wearing mine for longer than 30 days).

Here are previous posts about this current capsule:

Introduction and what’s included

Outfit posts: one, two, three, four

I have continued to wear this capsule for this past post-Christmas week but didn’t manage to take photos of my outfits. To be honest they are not all that interesting so I am just wrapping things up here without another outfit post.

I am also including my 2018 style goals because many of them flow directly from my experience with this capsule.

Thank you to all who have commented on my posts, cheered me on, and helped me to discover these insights! I wish you all a beautiful 2018.

By the numbers:

Total # items worn: 37

(7 bottoms + 10 tops + 12 toppers + 8 shoes)

Most worn items:

(in each category, otherwise this would be all bottoms and shoes!)

dark skinny jeans (8); black knit top, black watch plaid button-up, white tuxedo popover (4 each); gray floral sweatshirt (5); cognac riding boots (11)

Items (clothing/shoes only) from initial capsule that I never wore: 6

black merino knit skirt, black and fuchsia layering sweaters, black ballet flats, black maryjane heels, raspberry tunic

Items added: 5

From my closet — 2 (medium-wash skinny jeans; navy skirt leggings)

New to me — 3 (pink velvet ballet flats; black patent tassel loafers; dusty plum bolero cardi — the latter of which which won’t be included in this capsule next year after all, as it is too lightweight)

Items subtracted:

-Raspberry tunic shirt that feels sloppy and low-quality to me (once i realized that I really didn’t like it, I decided to see if I could get by until the end of the capsule without wearing it. I could, so there is no reason to keep it in my closet.)

-I also want to replace/upgrade my black knit. And I would still prefer if the plaid tunic had long (vs. 3/4) sleeves but replacing it feels less urgent now.

Insights from the 30 x 30 process:

I have used capsule wardrobes before but have never done anything as limited (in both time and # of items) as 30 x 30.

I like how dressing from a subset of my wardrobe and using a smaller number of items simplifies decision making and reduces overwhelm. I want to keep working on seasonal capsules going forward.

I did not struggle with the limited number of items or get bored with my capsule. I suspect that I would if my experiment lasted much longer though. If I were to use a capsule for 2-3 months I would want a somewhat larger capsule. I am not sure exactly how much larger. TBD.

I liked how the capsule setup stimulated me to wear slightly different versions of an outfit, or use one garment in different ways, in relatively quick succession. There’s no reason I couldn’t do that under normal circumstances but I find that if I build an outfit around a particular item and it doesn’t “work,” that item tends to fall to the back of my closet and in my mind it gets labeled as “tough to style.” Similarly if I try a new proportion or outfit formula and don’t quite nail it, I’m liable to write it off as not for me and go back to something more reliable. But here, I was motivated to ask: “what would happen if I tweaked X?” and would try that a couple days later, while the original version was still fresh in my mind. (Come to think of it, I did that with outfits that felt successful to me too — “could I do the same thing with Y?”) More close-together data points = easier for me to abstract more general principles about how to make an item or an outfit formula work.

Thoughts about the “Nutcracker Suite” capsule:

What worked well:

  • Wearing my grandmothers’ vintage costume jewelry in everyday casual outfits. HUGE win!
  • My new “fancy sweatshirt”
  • Outfit formula: Crisp white shirt, skinny pants, long colored cardi, contrasting color accessories, tall boots

What I’m still learning about:

How to style straight-leg jeans (previously I had worn pretty much exclusively skinnies and legging-style pants for years), and also those awesome new black patent tassel loafers.

What I struggled with:

Lack of variety in tops. Both in terms of color (3 white blouses, two of them with tuxedo pleats!) and silhouette (the cropped-cardi-over-tunic look that I’ve been kvelling about really works best with the navy/black plaid tunic).

5 key pieces (Not necessarily the most often worn, but the ones that most define the mood/feel/look of this capsule to me):

  • Black watch plaid button-up
  • Lace-print cardi
  • Gray floral sweatshirt
  • Pink ballet flats
  • Green rhinestone necklace

Fave outfits: (see photos)

  • Black ponte leggings, cognac riding boots, white blouse, long plum cardi, green rhinestones
  • Black dress, black tall boots, navy/black plaid tunic, gray/black floral cardi
  • Dark skinny jeans, pink ballet flats, white popover, ivory cable cardi, clear rhinestones, pink/gray ballet dancer scarf
  • Dark skinny jeans, black tall boots, black watch plaid button-up, lace-print scarf
  • Black skirt leggings, pink ballet flats, lace tank, lace-print cardi, green rhinestones (Christmas Eve)
  • Navy skirt leggings, pink ballet flats, fancy sweatshirt, vintage pink bead necklace

Surprise discoveries:

  • Necklace peeking out from under scarf
  • Cropped cardi over tunic (over skinnies or dress)
  • I like using gold jewelry or cognac footwear to “warm up” an outfit of cool colors

More generally, the power of NARRATIVE to bring pleasure to getting dressed. A piece with a story behind it (like my grandmothers’ jewelry). An outfit that alludes (gently, maybe even only something I would be aware of privately) to a literary character or historical time period. The “Nutcracker” framing and breaking the capsule up into sub-groupings that reflect this in various ways. The feeling of the week before Christmas vs. the week after Christmas, and trying to translate that into what I wear.

Wardrobe holes:

  • Basic tops in a lightweight knit fabrication — black (upgrade/replacement), soft ivory, and ballet pink would be especially welcome.
  • Colorful patterned woven tops — basically 2-3 tops that would duplicate the function (not the exact look) of my black watch plaid button-up. Burgundy and green would be great.
  • “Sapphire” — there’s this shade of blue-violet (it’s darker and redder than cobalt, but you wouldn’t call it purple) that is one of my best colors, but I don’t currently have any in my wardrobe. It’s a rare and subtle shade, but I know it when I see it. I should always be on the lookout.
  • Lighter-colored weather-appropriate shoes to wear with straight-leg jeans. Tan/cognac brogues?
  • Gold “everyday fancy” earrings. Not big or glitzy but not dead basic either.

All of the items above would see wear across multiple seasons/capsules in my wardrobe.

2018 style goals:

  1. Keep working on seasonal capsule wardrobes as I have just finished doing with my Holiday capsule. Define timing, color palettes, overall narrative/feel. Develop an understanding of what I am starting out with and what additions (or subtractions!) might make each capsule more balanced and functional. Be thorough and specific in my analysis. This will be my major wardrobe project for 2018.
  2. Enjoy the PROCESS. Remember that a capsule doesn’t have to be “perfect” to be fun to play with.
  3. Pay more attention to basics, especially tops. I have realized that I am a VERY emotional shopper. I feel confident about identifying “statement” pieces that project a certain image or aesthetic that appeals to me, but have not spent the time/effort/money to develop a collection of basics that can serve as the support act for such pieces. This is especially true in the case of tops. A sentence occurred to me: “Find the narrative in basics.” I am not sure what that means but it seems like good guidance.
  4. Master 3 different updo hairstyles to fill out my current repertoire of “ponytail” and “messy half-bun.”
  5. Take good care of myself. Develop a simple skin care regimen that I can do consistently and that feels effective and luxurious to me. Move my body (more). Tone my muscles!
  6. Take good care of my things. Mend holes promptly. Sew on buttons. Waterproof my boots. Polish my shoes. Now I sound like Woody Guthrie and I am not sorry.

Thanks for reading! As always any comments and suggestions are most welcome.

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