Angie’s post about the factors impacting our style resonated with me, and I’ve been enjoying reading the related comments and forum posts. To share a few of my own reflections, I’ve spent the last several years refining my signature style and balancing the categories of my wardrobe to better reflect the reality of my life.

With respect to my internal style factors – sartorial preferences, figure-flattering priorities, and outfit variety – I feel my best in navy and black dresses with little variation in style and silhouette, although many have details, like asymmetrical necklines or ruffles, that make them feel different to me. I have a variety of burgundy handbags – my signature color for handbags – and accessorize primarily with pearls or sculptural silver jewelry. All told, I have 120 items to cover everything from weddings to beach trips, not counting exact duplicates, which I keep in rotation.

With respect to external style factors, this wardrobe works well for my climate (Alexandria, Virginia, so a relatively mild four seasons), lifestyle (professional – likely a mix of remote and in-person work when life returns to normal, with long walks to our nearby Old Town being my preferred physical activity), and storage space (limited, in a house almost a hundred years old). As a note on climate, during colder months, I favor dresses with at least some sleeve, along with tights, boots, and navy wrap coats. Since we keep our house toasty, I rarely add a topper inside, other than occasionally a cashmere ruana at my desk, or a cropped blazer for the most formal aspects of serving my clients as a healthcare lawyer.

My biggest revelation on this style journey was that I truly am much happier with a limited color palette and types of items that easily mix and match. And my biggest challenge has absolutely been an imaginary life of formal events – although I have always embraced being dressy, I finally have only dresses that are machine washable (especially with a young daughter), and the vast majority of which will suit the office, working from home, or weekend wear. I have a distinct capsule for each setting: five sleeved work dresses, five “suiting” dresses that I can wear alone or with blazers, six work-from-home dresses, five weekend casual dresses, four weekend “event” dresses, and two formal dresses. But I could easily wear most of my work-from-home clothes on weekends, or my office wear while working from home, so there’s fluidity and flexibility. I also shifted more to flat and wedge shoes, although I retained a few heels for special events.

A few fun upgrades over the last several years, permitted by my budget and careful purchases, have been some special jewelry purchases (including a custom pearl necklace) and some lovely handbags. Now that I know what I love and will likely wear for decades, given my longstanding style preferences, I have felt comfortable investing in a few select pieces that have already brought me great joy.

Photos of my closets below, along with some of my finds. Welcome
any thoughts from others on balancing their capsules – particularly as we shifted to working from home – or the journey to a signature style.

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