Quality Over Quantity & Building Your Perfect Wardrobe Slowly

Recently, I was thinking about my quest for quality over quantity and what that means to me. While I mentally scanned my closet and it's contents, I started to reflect on the journey that led me to each piece. The trial and error, the hits and the misses and most importantly, the prices I paid for each.

While there's no denying that my closet is a mix of high and low, arriving at this careful balance certainly did not happen over night. In fact, the majority of my closet took years to acquire, and my more special, treasured pieces are the result of extensive planning and saving to afford.

With this journey in mind, today's post is about the delicate balance between building a versatile wardrobe of quality over quantity and working with a realistic budget.  

When you've made the choice to streamline your wardrobe, the urge to purge can be overwhelming. The hours of research and planning that lead to this decision have no doubt sparked a burning desire to finally achieve your dream closet and you're feeling totally pumped.

Unfortunately, this research may have also left you feeling a little worse for wear and like the pieces you already own just won't cut it. Rather than feel defeated before you start, I recommend that you take a step back and approach your journey to closet bliss as a marathon rather than a sprint.

With a whole lotta planning and a little bit of patience, you can achieve your dream wardrobe no matter what your budget is. To help you do this, I have put together five simple steps that helped me do just this. So, grab a notebook and pen and let's get started.  

MAKE A PLAN

The first step to any successful closet revamp is planning. 

Rather than jump right into a major closet clean-out blindly, I recommend you always start with a strategy to keep you on track.

Working with a plan will not only help you succeed, but will also help prevent you from quitting before you start because you feel overwhelmed.  

Once you've tackled your wardrobe using the steps I shared here, you will have a clear understanding of the pieces you already have, what you need to complete what you have, and the items you would love to have but can't quite afford yet. This brings us to my second tip.

SET A BUDGET

Now that you've established your musts and lusts, you should nail down your budget.

The most important part in this step is to be honest with yourself. With all the daily expenses that life brings it's important to never go into debt for the sake of your wardrobe. 

Even though you may want a complete closet over-haul of nothing but the best, it's more important to work with what you have and build your closet slowly. The last thing you want is to rid yourself of closet stress only to replace it with financial stress.

Instead, be honest with your spending limits and maybe even cut back in other areas to save up for a few key pieces. For example, if you get coffee to go every morning maybe you could start brewing your own. Who knows, over the course of a few months you may have saved enough to buy your dream bag - without a penny of debt.

BARGAIN SHOP

Would you believe it if I told you that I paid only $100 for my beloved Gucci loafers? That's right, I paid hundreds less than traditional retail for a brand new, in-the-box pair of Gucci horsebit loafers!

How I did it, brings me to my third tip for curating your dream wardrobe - bargain shop.

From eBay to The Real Real, bargain shopping has never been easier thanks to an endless supply of online retailers. These sources for brand new to gently used designer goods make it possible to own your forever shoes, handbag or coat at a fraction of the price with some careful research and patience.

After setting my budgets each season and year, I allocate a portion to one or two designer pieces that I would LOVE to have. Then, if one or more of those pieces way exceeds my budget I scour discount online retailers. By saving searches outlining the size, color and price for what I'm looking for, I'm able to stay up-to-date on new additions and make some seriously amazing purchases at a fraction of their original price. I'm going to do another post in more detail on this soon, so I'll end it here for now.

STAY FOCUSED

My fourth tip in this process is to stay focused.

With the endless supply of PIN-spiration, fashion blogging and retailer emails, it can be so tempting to forget about your plan and budget and buy whatever's being pushed your way.

I would encourage you to resist this urge with all your might and keep your eye on the prize.

To help myself practice what I preach, I like to keep a list (with pictures) on my phone or a private Pinterest board of what I have my sights on. That way, when I'm feeling tempted I can go back to this list and remind myself of what I really want. This has saved me from making so many impulse buys over the years and I can't recommend it enough. 

BE GRATEFUL

My last tip for achieving the closet of your dreams, is to be grateful. As I mentioned above, it took me years to acquire most of the forever pieces in my wardrobe. 

That said though, it didn't take me years to be satisfied with my closet, and really enjoy getting dressed each day.

Throughout this journey I have always tried to be grateful for what I do have rather than regretful for what I don't. 

Instead of feeling unsatisfied with what I have and comparing myself to others, I have made a conscious decision to feel lucky for what I do have. Each day that I'm lucky enough to be healthy and happy is a good day in my book, so a great pair of jeans is just frosting on the cake.  

What's even better, is the moment I made this switch in my thinking is the moment I started to look at my closet in a whole new light - and so can you! 

After all, when you're feeling grateful for having clothes in the first place, feeling like you're missing out on the latest must-have just seems silly.


What steps are you taking to achieve the closet of your dreams? Do you bargain shop? I'd love to know your tips and tricks in the comments down below! 

Until next time,

Audrey

How To Create Your Ideal Capsule From Scratch + The Only 37 Pieces You Need This Fall

After posting my 31 Piece Fall Capsule Wardrobe last week, I got to thinking. While putting my autumn closet together it seemed to come as second nature, and the whole ordeal was done in a day. When I first started capsule dressing about two years ago though, this wasn't the case.

All of the books, blogs and websites I read made it seem soooo simple, but when I tried it myself it wasn't nearly that easy.  

In fact, the process was a lot more complicated than I had expected, and definitely took some trial and error before I felt comfortable with my sartorial choices.

With those challenges I faced in mind, today's post is all about the steps I actually took to get where I am today. 

Whether you're having a hard time narrowing in on what to include in your fall capsule, or are just overwhelmed by minimized dressing in general, I hope these tips will give you the direction you need to start doing more with less. 

Before we jump into it though, I want to say that when I first started minimizing my wardrobe, I found that working with a very small seasonal selection was the focus I needed to springboard me into a smaller wardrobe year round, and better understand the items that worked for my lifestyle. That said, narrowing in on those pieces took some trial and error, so to save you the leg work I've also included a quick cheat sheet of the only 37 pieces I think you need for a well-rounded fall wardrobe.

I hope these tips will lead you closer to the wardrobe of your dreams and a lifetime of style without the stress, so you can finally spend less time worrying about what to wear and more time living.


How To Create A Capsule Wardrobe From Scratch

So, you want to create a capsule wardrobe. You've read all the books, perused all the blogs and have finally decided to give it a go. You wake up early and are feeling particularly motivated so you grab a cup of coffee and head to your closet with the intent of not leaving until your ideal wardrobe is hanging neatly before you.

Unfortunately, things don't go according to plan and about 20 minutes in you feel defeated and overwhelmed rather than cleansed and refreshed. Instead of a streamlined wardrobe that makes you feel effortless and chic, you have piles and piles of clothes and can no longer see your bed. 

Now, instead of throwing in the towel (or the sweater in this case), and exiling yourself to a life of clutter and nothing to wear, I ask that you take a deep breath, and a step back and start over - but this time with my help. 

Step 1: Set Realistic Expectations

When beginning a journey toward living with less the most important first step is to set realistic expectations for yourself. While it may be tempting to hope for your perfect wardrobe instantly, I encourage you to be patient, ignore most of what you've read and allow yourself to become overwhelmed.

Now, you're probably thinking that seems like the complete opposite of why you're downsizing in the first place, but hear me out. If you begin this process hoping for a painless journey that doesn't leave you at least a little confused and overwhelmed, then you're likely to go running back to your clutter at the first sign of trouble - I know I did. Instead, if you go into this knowing that the road will be bumpy at times, you won't want to surrender when things get tricky.

So, as you head down this path be prepared for some confusion and a little bit of stress, but know that it's completely manageable over time. As long as you stick with it and adapt this concept to your own lifestyle, you'll be living your most stylish life in no time. 

Step 2: Divide Your Closet Into Sections & Try It All On

The second step in this process focuses on your closet clear-out. Rather than approach this task all at once, I encourage you to break it into sections (sweaters, jeans, pants etc) over a few days or even weeks if you need.

This way you'll be able to make real progress slowly rather than no progress quickly.

When you decide the time has come to tackle your closet, separate everything you own into categories and tackle them one by one - feel free to take breaks between categories and even space it out over a few days or weeks if you need.

When beginning a closet clear-out what works for me is to start with tops. So, whether I'm switching my closet over for a new season or am just doing an occasional purge, I will remove all of my tops from my closet first. 

Next, I group like with like. All striped tops together, all button-downs together, all short sleeve tees together and all long sleeve tees together. Doing this allows me to see just how many striped tops, button downs etc. that I have so I can decide if I truly need all 5 striped tops or not.

Once I have these piles organized I start going through them with three things in mind. These three questions (outlined below) each lead into the next and help you edit your pieces quickly and efficiently. 

  1. Do I like this? This question should be the easiest to answer. Just as Marie Kondo recommends, if you hold up an item and it doesn't spark joy it's an easy toss and you can place it in either a "donate" pile (if it's still in good condition but not worth trying to sell) or a "sell" pile. If the item does spark joy you can move onto the next question.

  2. Does this fit me? Now, you have to try that item on and honestly decide if it fits. If the answer is "no," and you have no plans of losing weight or don't want to save the piece for when you aren't pregnant, then you can place it in the "donate" or "sell" pile.

    • Now, before we move onto what you do if the item does fit you, I want to address what to do if you are in the process of losing weight. Unlike what you've probably heard, I would encourage you to NOT discard pieces just because they don't fit right now - especially if they're high quality items. If you've been hitting the gym regularly and eating a well-balanced diet, then I think it's completely silly to toss out all of your pieces that don't fit you now but may in a few months. Instead, I would encourage you to make a third pile of items that you hope to fit into in the near future. Once you're done sorting your whole closet, store these items neatly in a bag or container and revisit them once you've met you're goal. 

      • The only caveat here is that you need to be honest with yourself and check back regularly on your progress. So, if you set a goal of fitting into these items by this time next year and they still don't fit when that time rolls around, it may be a good idea to donate or sell them and start fresh.  

  3. Is this seasonal or can I wear it year-round? Now, if you've answered "yes" to questions 1 and 2, you should have a pile of items that fit you well and you love to wear, but not all of them will work year-round. This is when you separate them into three categories - fall/winter, spring/summer and year-round. So, using the tee shirt scenario again, a simple white, short sleeve tee can be worn year-round whereas a navy, long sleeve tee is better suited for fall and winter so separate them.

Then, before you move onto the next category of clothing, place your year-round items back in your closet, store the out of season pieces for later, and place any to sell/donate items in a bag to handle at the end. 

Now, move onto the next category of clothing and ask yourself the same questions until you have a closet full of year-round pieces, and piles of seasonal tops, pants, jeans, skirts, dresses etc. that you love.

Step 3: Finalize Your Capsule & Store The Excess

If you've made it this far you're totally rocking this downsizing thing and are so close to finally having the wardrobe of your dreams!

Now that you have a closet of classic, year-round pieces (a white button-down, white short sleeve tee, striped tee, black skirt etc) you can evaluate and finalize your seasonal pieces. 

Using the tee shirt scenario again, you should go through all of your seasonal tees and decide which you tend to wear the most and are likely to continue to wear the most throughout the season - the winners get a spot in your capsule.

That said, don't panic that you're going to make the wrong choices here because you're not going to discard the items that don't make the final cut. Instead, you're going to fold and store them neatly in a bag or container in your closet. Which brings me to the fourth step.

Step 4: Reevaluate Your Choices

As you go through the season and are feeling out your new capsule I encourage you to constantly be evaluating and reevaluating your pieces. If something isn't working for you or you find yourself skipping over it entirely, you can always reach into your reserve and add old favorite back into your closet. 

I recommend doing your first few capsules this way for a few reasons. The first being that when I first jumped into minimized dressing I went wild and discarded anything that didn't make the cut into my capsule. When I did this though, I found myself panicked a few weeks in when I discovered that my choices weren't quite perfect, and something I had discarded would have been better. At that point I ended up purchasing even more items to fill the gaps that I could have avoided in the first place. 

With this in mind, I approached my second capsule by selecting some year-round pieces and seasonal items for my capsule and then storing the excess. This time around I only needed to reach into my overflow containers once or twice and did practically no unnecessary shopping.

By my third capsule I had found the magic formula for me. I finally understood the pieces that actually worked for me and my lifestyle, and didn't need to reach into my overflow at all. Plus, when I sorted through everything again for the following seasons I was able to permanently discard even more items without remorse.

By my fourth capsule I had not only narrowed in on a selection of basics that I could wear year-round, but had also come to truly understand the seasonal pieces I needed to make my wardrobe work for me in winter, spring, summer and fall.

I had effectively eliminated all excess closet clutter and getting dressed was easier than ever. 

The moral of the story here is to give yourself time and take it easy to begin with. Feel free to tweak things as you see fit and remember that no one size fits all when it comes to minimized dressing - everyone's wardrobe will be different. 

The important thing is that you have fun throughout this process and allow yourself to establish a condensed wardrobe that works for you and your lifestyle. 

This journey should lead you to a method of dressing that you can adopt for life - not a fad you want to give up in a month. 


As I mentioned at the beginning, one of the things that helped me understand which pieces worked for my lifestyle was to begin with a small selection of items. In case you're feeling a little stumped, I've saved you the leg work and put together a list of 37 pieces that I think make a great fall wardrobe.

Below, I've included a pinnable sheet that you can refer to easily, as well as a more detailed list that breaks out each item. I've indicated which pieces I consider to be year-round basics with an asterisk*. Just remember, these are the items that work for me so feel free to tweak them until you find a selection that works for you. 

9 Shirts

  1. White long sleeve silk shirt*

  2. White long sleeve cotton button down*

  3. Navy long sleeve silk shirt

  4. Long sleeve navy tee

  5. Striped tee*

  6. Short sleeve white tee*

  7. Plaid button down

  8. Chambray shirt

  9. Black short sleeve shirt - mine is silk this season but a plan tee works just as well.*

4 Sweaters

  1. Black cashmere crewneck sweater

  2. Ivory fisherman sweater

  3. Ivory cashmere cardigan

  4. Navy cableknit sweater

4 Bottoms/ 1 Dress

  1. Dark wash denim in either straight cut or slim cut depending on your preference

  2. Black skirt*

  3. Classic trousers 

  4. Plaid skirt

  5. Black dress*

5 Outerwear

  1. Waterproof coat - I love Barbour

  2. Quilted vest

  3. Plaid, tweed or herringbone blazer - the classic fabrics of fall

  4. Navy blazer*

  5. Camel coat

5 Shoes

  1. Riding boots

  2. Chelsea or ankle boots

  3. Loafers

  4. Classic pumps

  5. Ballet Flats

9 Accessories

  1. Classic day bag

  2. Silk scarf 

  3. Classic belt

  4. Sunglasses

  5. Shawl or blanket scarf - especially great in plaid

  6. Statement necklace

  7. Basic bracelet

  8. Fedora

  9. Simple clutch


That's everything! I hope this post has helped you navigate the world of minimized dressing better and if you aren't already living larger with less, I wish you the best of luck (and fun) during your journey. Also, I'd love to know you have any pointers for downsizing effectively so let me know in the comments below - I love getting inspiration! 

Until next time,

Audrey

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My Fall Capsule Wardrobe

It's finally fall capsule time! Over the past few weeks I have been working to nail down the pieces I plan to wear the most this season, and am so excited to share them with you today.

Like last time, my "capsule" consists of the core basics that I wear year-round along with some more seasonal pieces that I have added in. Also like last time my capsule does not include outerwear, shoes, accessories or jewelry but these pieces remain available to me throughout the year. When combined with my capsule, these items bring my entire closet to about 100 pieces.

Also, as I shared with my summer capsule, this approach to dressing allows me to keep a smaller wardrobe over all, while still having a streamlined selection of pieces on display for me every day. This ultimately gives me the freedom of versatility without the feeling of being overwhelmed. 

Below, I have outlined my 31 capsule pieces along with the rest of my wardrobe for you to hopefully get some inspiration for your own streamlined fall wardrobe. To help demonstrate just how versatile this approach to dressing can be, I will share various outfit combinations with you both here and on my YouTube channel throughout the season. Each time I share a look, I will be sure to outline the capsule pieces, outerwear (if any), jewelry, shoes and purses that I combined to make the look.

Additionally, I have added an asterisk next to the items not in my capsule that I anticipate I will reach for the most this season. That way, if you choose to adhere to a traditional capsule you can see what blazers, shoes and accessories I would recommend including.

Before I jump into the pieces I'll leave you with this. As you read through my list and watch my capsule video, keep in mind that for me, a seasonal capsule of about 30 pieces is the magic number that feels both manageable and versatile - but that may not be the case for you. If you choose to capsule dress in the traditional sense, or are just trying to edit your closet, I would encourage you to experiment here and there until you find a number and system that works for you. 

Try not to adhere too strictly to one set number and feel free to make that 10, 15, 20, 50 or more pieces! Just keep in mind that the goal of streamlined, capsule dressing is to free yourself from the stress of getting dressed, not add to it so don't limit yourself too much and remember to have fun with it. After all, it's just clothes!

 

31 Piece Fall 2016 Capsule Wardrobe

 

11 TOPS

  1. White long sleeve cotton button down - Brooks Brothers

  2. White long sleeve silk shirt - Everlane

  3. Black short sleeve silk shirt - Everlane

  4. Black long sleeve silk shirt - Everlane

  5. Chambray shirt - J. Crew

  6. White peplum shirt - Zara

  7. Striped tee - J. Crew

  8. Crewneck white tee - Everlane

  9. Plaid button-down - Ralph Lauren 

  10. Navy long sleeve cotton tee - J. Crew

  11. Black long sleeve cotton tee - J. Crew

7 SWEATERS

  1. Ivory cashmere crewneck - Nordstrom

  2. Black cashmere crewneck - Everlane 

  3. Ivory cashmere cardigan - J. Crew

  4. Black cashmere cardigan - J. Crew 

  5. Ivory fisherman sweater - L.L. Bean 

  6. American flag sweater - Ralph Lauren

  7. Black & White sweater - Zara 

3 DRESSES

  1. Striped shirtdress - Ralph Lauren

  2. Black dress - Amazon

  3. Blue silk dress - Club Monaco 

6 SKIRTS

  1. Black a-line skirt - LOFT

  2. Printed silk skirt - Massimo Dutti 

  3. Green lace skirt - J. Crew

  4. Equestrian print skirt - Vintage Ralph Lauren

  5. Plaid midi kkirt - Vintage Ralph Lauren

  6. Floral short skirt - Ann Taylor

4 PANTS/JEANS

  1. Navy pants - Zara

  2. Dark wash skinny jeans - LOFT

  3. Medium wash jeans - Madewell

  4. Boyfriend jeans - Levi's 


The Rest Of My Closet: 

 

- Outerwear - Blazers, Jackets, Vests etc. -

  1. Black and white tweed vest*

  2. Brown tweed vest*

  3. Navy blazer*

  4. Rust herringbone blazer*

  5. Green herringbone blazer*

  6. Grey herringbone blazer*

  7. Floral blazer

  8. Pink gingham blazer

  9. Denim jacket*

  10. Short white tweed jacket with gold buttons

  11. Short white tweed jacket with brown buttons

  12. Plaid blazer*

  13. Short black tweed jacket*

  14. Short black wool blazer*

  15. Tuxedo blazer

  16. Long blue and white tweed jacket

  17. Long white tweed jacket

  18. Barbour coat*

  19. Camel coat*

  20. Black wool coat

- Seasonal Pieces & Extras (Nice dresses etc) -

  1. Green and white striped oxford

  2. Blue and white embroidered shirt

  3. White peasant top

  4. V-Neck white tee

  5. White denim skirt

  6. Pink midi skirt 

  7. Black midi skirt

  8. Blue and white tweed skirt

  9. Blue ruffle shirt

  10. Plaid ruffle shirt

  11. Cream cashmere turtleneck sweater

  12. Plaid short skirt

  13. Floral midi skirt

  14. Grey moto jeans

  15. Black trousers

  16. White jeans

  17. Striped skirt 

  18. White chino shorts

  19. Navy chino shorts

  20. Striped shorts

  21. Denim shorts

  22. White denim shorts

- Accessories (Scarves, Hats, Jewelry, Purses) -

  1. An assortment of silk scarves (about 10)*

  2. An assortment of large scarves and shawls (about 10)*

  3. Faux fur stole*

  4. Brown satchel*

  5. Black top handle purse*

  6. Brown top handle purse*

  7. Classic day clutch*

  8. Crossbody purse*

  9. Black slouchy purse*

  10. Black wool fedora*

  11. Green wool fedora*

  12. Boater hat

  13. Straw fedora

  14. Black floppy hat*

  15. Brown floppy hat

  16. Camel floppy hat

  17. Blue floppy hat

  18. An assortment of statement necklaces (about 5)*

  19. An assortment of long necklaces (about 4)*

  20. An assortment of brooches (5-10)*

  21. An assortment of statement bangles (about 5)*

  22. A few pairs of statement earrings*

  23. Simple everyday jewelry (pearl studs, diamond studs, gold bangle, three gold rings)* 

  24. Black and brown reversible belt with 3 interchangeable buckles*

  25. Classic brown belt*

  26. 2 vintage Dooney & Bourke belts*

- Shoes -

  1. Ballet flats*

  2. Black brogues*

  3. Brown wingtips*

  4. Black lace-up flats*

  5. Black flats with gold hardware*

  6. White Jack Rogers 

  7. Brown gladiators

  8. Brown loafers*

  9. Brown chelsea boots*

  10. Black chelsea boots*

  11. Brown riding boots*

  12. Brown heeled boots*

  13. Black heeled loafers*

  14. Burgundy heeled loafers*

  15. Brown heeled booties*

  16. Bean boots*

  17. Brown peep toe heels 

  18. Black loafer mules*

  19. Black and yellow Stubbs 


That's everything! I hope this helps inspire you to streamline your approach to dressing this season and add a little style into your everyday life. Below, I have linked my accompanying YouTube video that you can watch here or over on my channel, and I hope you have a wonderful day!

Until next time,

Audrey

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