Tag Archives: Capsule Wardrobe

Capsule Wardrobe – Maternity Edition

I am currently pregnant with my third child. I’m due in less than 3 months. The following list of clothing has gotten (/is getting) me through all 3 pregnancies. I was due at a different time of the year for each pregnancy (March, December, and July) and this group of clothing got me comfortably through all weather.

Maternity clothes can be hella expensive so it can be comforting to know we can get by with few pieces, supplemented with a few strategic non-maternity pieces. Note that these pieces worked for my casual job/lifestyle and the temperate New Jersey weather; always be mindful of your own lifestyle, location, and climate.

Without further ado, the list of my maternity wardrobe, keeping me warm and covered for 3 pregnancies and postpartum.

Maternity Pieces

  • 2 pairs jeans or trousers
  • 1 maxi-skirt
  • 1 knee-length skirt
  • 2 pairs shorts — I didn’t need/want shorts until my July due date pregnancy
  • 2 t-shirts — I only needed 2 at a time, but since t-shirts are generally made of thinner material for warmer weather, just 2 didn’t last for all 3 pregnancies and I needed to replace them when they wore out. So for 3 pregnancies, I’ve had a total of 4 t-shirts
  • 2 long-sleeve shirts
  • 2 long sweaters or short sweater dresses — I like them long enough to feel comfortable wearing with leggings, but short enough that they’ll still look good with jeans or trousers
  • 1 pair leggings — these can be maternity or not depending on your body, comfort level, and style of legging
  • 1 pair yoga pants — for sleeping, yoga, and lounging
  • winter coat — again, this depends on your due date. I needed one for my March and December due dates, but not this one. And I was actually able to wear a loose-ish flared non-maternity coat that I already had.
  • 2-3 nursing bras — during my first pregnancy, a saleswoman convinced me I would need 4. Now I know that I could easily get by with 2 or 3
  • 2 nursing sleep bras

Supplemental/Non-Maternity Pieces

  • 1 or 2 maxi-dresses — I found the type with a loose cross-over bodice to be quite convenient for breast-feeding, but racerbacks to be the most comfortable
  • 1 cardigan or light jacket — I didn’t need maternity because I just didn’t button them up
  • 2-3 loose shirts — long sleeve or short sleeve; for sleeping, yoga, and lounging
  • 2-3 more sweaters or t-shirts — I used these because I already had these looser items in my closet and they still fit during my pregnancy
  • wrap dress — will at least fit during most of a pregnancy
  • 10 pairs underwear — I find non-bikini briefs to be the most comfortable, but you be you

So that’s 25 pieces (not counting bras or underwear) to get you started for a capsule maternity wardrobe for any time of year. As always, quality pieces will last longer and thus through more pregnancies, but since pregnancy is such a short period of time, it’s pretty easy to make due with whatever quality you can find/afford.

Also, as with any capsule wardrobe, try to keep a simple color scheme in mind — such as 2-3 neutrals with 2-3 colors. You can also create a personal uniform with maternity pieces to make things super simple. Pick your favorite colors and fabrics and at least your clothing will be comfortable and pleasant, even if you don’t feel that way yourself. 🙂

The Outfit On Which I Consistently Get The Most Compliments

I’m mentioning this outfit because it is so simple. And simplicity is a pretty big theme on this blog, yeah?

For the outfit, the ratio of effort to compliments is crazy skewed. Like, minimal effort for maximum compliments. And I don’t know if someone else wearing this outfit will get as many compliments as I’ve been getting, but it’s so simple there’s no harm in trying, right? I mean, if you want an easy outfit and the confidence boost of acquaintances’ compliments?

Okay, okay, I’m going to shut up now. I think I’m hyping it up way too much already. Especially since it’s nothing new. (Just do an internet search for it — everyone’s wearing it already.)

It’s jeans and a white t-shirt.

My outfit:

  • jeans – right now I have 2 pairs of maternity jeans — both “jegging” skinny jeans, 1 black and 1 dark wash
  • t-shirt – also maternity right now. I prefer v-necks and usually don’t tuck it in.

Here’s how the outfit is specific to me:

And that’s it. Simple simple. Unoriginal, sure, but also so classic. Timeless. Comfortable and even chic.

Bruce Springsteen, with a red or blue bandana, famously wore this simple outfit. I also think it would work really well with a black t-shirt — and then there is less worry about stains! I think my husband looks so, so good in medium-wash jeans and a fitted black crew-neck t-shirt. I mean, of course all clothes looks best when they fit well.

I love this outfit. It is my current uniform. As the weather gets hotter, I will opt for some cuffed jean shorts. Maybe a floppy hat instead of the scarves.

I love the simplicity. I feel good. And I look good, too. A lovely trifecta. A fabulous new uniform for me!

The New Era of Shopping for Children’s Clothes

I found a children’s clothing website that I’m super excited about. I haven’t bought anything from there yet, so maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself by doing a post about it, but I’m just really excited and haven’t posted in a while so here it is.

It’s called primary.com and the reason I’m so excited is because the clothes are so simple. I found it from Simple Families and her post about creating capsule wardrobes for kids. Since I know the benefits of having a simple wardrobe myself, I would like to extend that simplicity-induced bliss to my children’s closets as well.

Okay, first let me go into my frustrations with children’s clothing.

  • Gender stereotypes – 90% of the children’s clothes we have are hand-me-downs. Which is great because 1) it saved us a lot of money and 2) re-using second-hand clothes is better for the environment. But this means that I didn’t have a lot of say in the styles that got passed down to us. And since we have boys, people passed “boy clothes” down to us. I have no problem with tractors and cars and blue and sports, but I really don’t think it’s necessary to emblazon them onto boys clothes to let people know that they’re boys. Our children are super young and are still learning about the world around them, let alone forming opinions about what they like and how they want to represent themselves. Clothes need only be functional, not ornamental, at any age. And I’d rather my sons play with tractors or race their bikes or draw bears and lions than have <cough> ugly <cough> cartoons cluttering the tiny spaces of their bodies on their clothes. Conversely, my sons and I like flowers, hearts, rainbows, unicorns, and colors like pinks, yellows, purples, and aquas, and they just aren’t available in any way on “boys” clothes. Not that I would want to use any daughter I might have as a billboard either. I just don’t like the walk-into-a-store-pick-a-side-and-those-are-your-options model. Which brings me to…
  • Trends – I don’t care about clothing trends and I doubt my 1- and 3- year-olds do either. But most children’s stores seem to follow or propagate them and I just can’t be bothered keeping up. Simple, comfortable clothes are classy and versatile. I don’t like how I have to dig, dig, dig to find a plain shirt, just to find that they’ve discontinued it the next season when I need another one. I’m trying trying to impress anyone with the clothes my kids wear — I just want my children to be comfortable, clean, and presentable (i.e. no cartoon monster trucks or corny slogans in hard to read fonts).
  • Sizing – Finding clothes to fit my small, slim children is hard enough, but adding in the likelihood of a different store’s sizing measurements being completely different is infuriating. I have a 15 month old wearing a 3-6 month onesie right now. That makes no sense to me. I’d like to have 1 store that can satisfy all my needs to keep sizing simple and accurate.
  • Seasons – Stores’ clothing seasons are annoying early and trendy. Not only am I not interested in the ’80s day-glow trend for children’s swimwear this year, I am especially not interested in January when the shelves are lined with flip flops and all I need is a couple of long-sleeve shirts to keep my kid warm from the 30°F weather. I’m lucky if I can find a few pieces of on-season clothes, in the size I need, that isn’t hideous in the clearance section. Whoo-hoo clearance prices, I guess, but boooooo clearance pile hassles. I want to be able to buy what I need, when I need it — not 4 months in advance. Because kids can grow a whole lot or not at all in any given 4 month period. Guessing future sizes and buying in advance has rarely worked out for me (even when picking through the clothes handed down to me).

Those are the reasons why I’m so excited to start shopping at Primary. The company was founded by mothers who were just as frustrated as I so they get it. They offer simple clothing in consistent sizes in a spectrum of colors year-round. I have no doubt that I’ll be able to find what we need when we need it. I look forward to all of the children’s clothes I collect over the years being mix-and-match compatible and last through multiple hand-down transitions (again, I haven’t bought anything yet so I can’t attest to the durability, but Simple Families seems pretty happy with it so that’s a start).

I’ve had the flitting idea to start an un-gendered clothing store myself, but am super glad that these lovely women have done it already. Oh, and they sell every item for under $25. Oh yeah, I’m excited. Welcome the new era of shopping for children’s clothes!

Simple Makeup

I don’t use makeup to alter my appearance — covering something up or creating something that isn’t there. I use makeup to enhance my appearance. And in the 15 years or so since I started experimenting with makeup, I think I’ve finally found something that works for me.

The key to the eventual success of my experimentation was to stop comparing myself to others. Stop trying to make what worked for others work for me. Stop trying to use makeup how other people were and figure out how I wanted to use it.

Despite what the cosmetics industry would like us to believe, we are all very unique and there is no one product or set of products that work for everyone. There is no wonder product for all — stop believing them when they tell you that it is! There is no makeup “essential” for everyone.

The truth is, just by sheer statistical probability, most products either won’t work for you, shouldn’t be used by you, or you just won’t like them (application, color, etc.). Finding your own “essentials” list might be an ever-changing life-long process. But coming from the viewpoint where you have complete control and final say, I think you will enjoy the process much more than if you are constantly chasing what other people say or do.

I feel so confident and comfortable in where I’ve come with my makeup. It makes me feel good, beautiful, and relaxed — and that feeling can do more good for my appearance than a product ever could.

My makeup:

  • mascara – I have quite light eyelashes so I like to emphasize what I’ve got by making them a bit darker. I use a brown color so it isn’t so bold and thus looks a bit more natural next to my skin tone.
  • eyebrow filler – I also have quite light eyebrows so I like to emphasize what I’ve got by making them a bit darker. To look as natural as possible, I use a light brown powder gel to fill in and accent. (I do not change their shape at all.)
  • lipstick – I like to only have 2 or 3 colors per season to keep decision-fatigue low. I like a subtle color and a slightly more bold or bright color for when I’m feeling flashy. I’ll usually have some sort of lip gloss available, too, just because I seem to receive them as gifts.

And that’s it. No eyeliner — because it looks terrible on me, no foundation — because I don’t like the feeling, no blush — because I could never really figure it out, no lots of products — because I don’t need them or want them. Simple — for me.

The Art of Contentment

I’m writing yet another post inspired by Joshua Becker, but what can I say? The guy’s kind of a genius when it comes to minimalism and, in this case, contentment. He actually writes about completion and the satisfaction it brings.

When confronting the desire to buy yet another thing, he uses this as an example:

The next time you have a desire to buy something you don’t need, say to yourself, “Nope. I’m done buying clothes. I already have enough. I have met this desire and I am moving on to something else.”

Such a simple thing! Just decide to be done buying clothes. I had honestly never thought of that before, even with the pursuit of a capsule wardrobe. I always thought that it would be growing and changing with me — that I would have to constantly think about and curate it. But, no! I can just stop and be content.

Maybe contentedness doesn’t last forever, as life is fluid and change is constant, but it does exist. And it can exist for a time. Decide to be content and it will be until you decide something needs to change again. Being in control sounds much better than constantly chasing dreams advertisers are constantly presenting.

But maybe it isn’t marketers fueling your discontent. Maybe it is brought on by yourself as you consider all of your life’s what-ifs.

I’ve lived in my hometown my entire life. I’ve done a fair bit of traveling, but have never lived outside of New Jersey. When my husband’s company recently offered him a job in Indianapolis, I began to imagine how my life could be better and happier in another place. I weighed the pros and cons of Indiana vs. New Jersey, a city vs. a small town, the country vs. the coast, anywhere else vs. here. And in doing so, none of the places seemed good enough… Until I went full circle, remembered what I love about where I live, and decided that right here is good enough.

I will be more mindful of how I spend my time. Is it pursuing something that doesn’t really need more attention? Like filling a closet that is already full? I will be content in matters where I already have enough and instead focus on matters where I really can improve myself. Or, as Joshua Becker highlights, on matters that will never be completed, such as being a calm and patient mother, a loving and fun wife, and a considerate and contributing member of society.

The Art of Contentment: A change in thinking can create a change in being.

 

I Bought “Mom Jeans”… And I Love Them

I wear jeans almost every day. They are tough and comfortable. Although I quite like other wardrobe styles, jeans fit into my lifestyle the best. As I’ve cultivated my capsule wardrobe, my jean collection dwindled to my favorites. After an average life of about 7 years per pair, my favorites started to get worn out. Then I was down to one pair… and their knees were looking thin as well.

I had been researching jeans for a while because I knew I needed to replace the ones I’d worn out. My mom complains when I get rid of jeans with holes in the knees because people pay a lot of money for ripped jeans. Well, I am not one of those people. I find holes in my clothes to be unattractive, unkempt, and uncomfortable. Note that I will patch or alternate clothes if I think it’s worth the trouble. Otherwise, I let them go.

I wanted a lot out of the jeans I would buy. My list of desirables included:

  • ethically made
  • organic
  • durable
  • vegan
  • comfortable
  • stylish
  • fair-trade cotton
  • no sweat-shops
  • well made
  • 100% cotton
  • under $160

I did not get all that I wished for. I don’t want to say it’s impossible, but I had a really, really hard time trying to check off all my boxes when shopping for a new brand of jeans.

I decided I needed to try any new jeans on before I bought them. Living among strip malls interspersed with Pinelands in suburban New Jersey, I’m not exactly in the mecca of the clothing innovation and sustainability movement. There are a good amount of stores nearby, but they are mostly the same chain stores over and over. Any ethical and sustainable jean brand that I found online and got really excited about, wasn’t in my vicinity. Mostly, they weren’t even in my country.

Some people might be fine with ordering jeans online, but I am not one of those people. Especially in the midst of trying new brands and styles. To replace a pair I’ve worn out with the same brand, style, and size? Sure. But not to find my pair. I just can’t afford it (especially since ethical brands can be pretty expensive) and don’t want to consume any more jeans than I will use.

Besides needing to try them on before buying, what else was a big deal to me?

I wanted two or three jeans (I’d stick with two if I didn’t live in a spit-up splash zone) that I could wear every day if I wanted; If I’m wearing something every day, it had better be comfortable. I wanted them to be durable, i.e. well-made — my last newest pair of jeans didn’t even survive a full year of crawling around with my 1 year old. If they couldn’t be organic, I wanted them to be made of at least 98% cotton — then there was a good chance they’d be vegan, too. And as long as they were a timeless cut, that’s all the style I needed.

I finally chose Levi’s. I understand the brand isn’t perfect (yet… fingers crossed), but it’s the best I could do with my situation and preferences. My pair is Levi’s 501 Original for Women. I like that these are the same jeans that they’ve been making for, like, a hundred years or whatever — my pair is 100% cotton, thick and durable, and even has a button fly!

And, okay, yeah, about the title of this post. I call them “mom jeans” because they are high-waisted then straight-legged then tapered. Levi’s calls them “boyfriend” fit, but I bought a pair of men’s skinny jeans in my search for my pair and the 501s for Women fit way better — they were made to cover and curve around women’s bums and hips, without excess fabric in the front.

Now I’ve embraced the term “mom jeans”. As I’ve become a mother, I’ve also become more conscious, intentional, and caring in many areas of my life, including how what I buy affects the world and my future. I rock “mom jeans” because they are strong and lasting — and that’s sexy.

I’ve come to believe that the negative connotation around the term never came from the jeans themselves. It came from presumptions of (and some actualities of) women letting themselves go after becoming mothers, becoming frumpy and careless, and thinking that comfort should alway outweighed style.

However, I see attitude as being the most important. I’m comfortable with the function of my life, so my jeans should be comfortable and functional, too. The jeans won’t be frumpy because I’m not frumpy. I feel healthy and strong when I’m slim, and I feel sexy when my clothes fit my body well. That makes me feel confident and I’m loving it.

jeans 1     jeans 2

jeans 3 jeans 4

Cheers!

Sustainable and Ethical Clothing Resources:

My Simplified Purse and Wallet

The other day was Mo’s birthday so we went to the aquarium. While packing up all of the stuff for a day away with a toddler and a baby, I decided my purse was too big. It’s a cross-body bag about 6 inches by 6 inches so some would say it’s pretty small already. Yet it contained a bunch of stuff I didn’t really need.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Contents of my small bag:

  • pen
  • phone
  • lotion
  • re-useable shopping bag
  • tissue packet (with 1 left)
  • hairpins
  • hair tie
  • compact mirror
  • emergency feminine products
  • lip balm
  • acetaminophen
  • gum
  • wallet
    • 1 credit card
    • debit card
    • 2 library cards (mine and Mo’s)
    • wholesale membership card
    • expired wholesale membership card
    • 3 insurance cards
    • driver’s license
    • frequent car wash rewards card (with 1 punch)
    • shopping ban chart
    • cash
    • change

Sure a lot of those things are useful, but for a majority of the time I didn’t use them. I decided to switch over to a wristlet for the spring/summer. If I need anything else, I can throw it in the diaper bag. I foresee myself throwing the wristlet in the diaper bag a lot, too — one less thing to carry.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(Both of my bags are yellow and I honestly don’t know why. I’m not a huge fan of the color. I also have a yellow skinny belt and a yellow watch. …So maybe I am a fan of the color? I didn’t even know. Either way, the collection of these yellow articles wasn’t intentional.)

The contents of my tiny bag:

  • phone
  • lip balm
  • wallet
    • 1 credit card
    • debit card
    • 2 library cards (mine and Mo’s)
    • wholesale membership card
    • 3 insurance cards
    • driver’s license
    • shopping ban chart
    • cash

Putting a stop to lugging around a bunch of stuff I don’t need, regardless of how little those things are, has lifted a weight off my shoulder and my mind. I can do more and worry about less. It’s nice.

It’s freeing. 🙂

Minimalism Challenges and Why I Won’t Try the 100 Thing Challenge

The new year is approaching quickly and I’ve been thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. Since I have been focusing on different aspects of minimalism this year, I naturally began to think about minimalism resolutions I could try for 2016. But, as a minimalist, I think I’m actually going to forgo these types of challenges/goals/resolutions this year. But here’s a recap of some challenges and games I’ve tried during 2015.

This past year, I participated in the 2015 in 2015 Decluttering Challenge created by Rachel over at Nourishing Minimalism. She has a 2016 in 2016 Decluttering Challenge available right now, too, but I won’t be participating myself in 2016. I actually ended up having a hard time gathering 2015 things to get rid of by the end of this year and don’t want to put such a lofty goal on myself for the second year in a row.

To help with the 2015 in 2015 Decluttering Challenge, I spent two different months throughout the past year attempting the #MinsGame challenge created by The Minimalists. This is only a month long challenge and I find it quite difficult to accomplish, but it also has quite a profound effect in a short period of time.

I’ve also done Courtney Carver’s Project 333 this past year and while I really enjoyed it, I have pared down my wardrobe so much that I don’t have much more than 33 articles of clothing for the whole year, let alone 3 months. All of my clothes fit easily into my dresser and closet so there is no need for me to choose and switch out certain pieces per season.

There is also the 100 Thing Challenge by Dave Bruno. I have not attempted this challenge and I honestly don’t think I ever will. It is very open-ended (what is counted or not as part of a participant’s 100 personal things — which may benefit some people, but I think it’s not structured enough) and it also seems a bit gimmicky to me. I don’t think it would be practical for me to live with 100 things. Not at this time in my life, at least. Maybe when my kids are all grown up and my husband and I are retired and living in a tiny house or something, but not now. So challenging myself to live with 100 things now for any amount of time seems like a silly practice to me. I’d rather focus on how to best live my life now with simplicity and practicality. I’d rather focus on my family and how having less can benefit us all than the strict number of things in my own possession.

I like minimalist challenges and games because they are, a-duh, challenging and fun. The ones I have tried have gotten me to see my stuff in a different light and scrutinize it for how it really did service me. And I think the lessons I learned will stay with me within this next year, too, even if I don’t commit to any of them for a specific month, season, or year. They taught me how to be more discerning with what I keep around the house and I can use that skill continually at my own pace.

If you think any of the above challenges would be fun or interesting to try, I definitely think you should give them a go. Even if you don’t “win” them, per say, I’m sure you’ll learn something, so it’s a win anyway.

I will be continuing my minimalist journey this year of course. As for specific New Year’s Resolutions, I want to focus on my writing. Specifically, I want to work harder at getting my writing out there, connecting with author agents, sending query letters to publishers, and continuing to edit my arsenal of works so far accumulated.

I think the uncluttering that I have been able to accomplish with the help of the 2015 in 2015 Decluttering Challenge, the #MinsGame, and Project 333 has cleared out my space enough that I will have time to focus more on my writing as opposed to the material things around me. If you have a project that you’ve been wanting to do, consider getting rid of some other crap to make room for it.

Enjoy!

The True Cost [of Fast Fashion]

My husband and I recently watched The True Cost, a documentary on the fashion industry, and we were moved.

It attempts to shed light on what goes on behind the store: the process of making such an abundance of clothes at such cheap prices. It focuses on how, although the clothes may be cheap for the consumer, there is a true cost behind the production of those clothes that is being paid for by poor skilled laborers and the environment.

It was a very powerful film.

I’m glad that I’ve already started working towards living with a capsule wardrobe. I really want to only buy quality, fair-trade, and more sustainable garments in the future.

If you’ve ever been curious about where your clothes come from or where they go when you’re done with them, check out The True Cost film.

If you want to learn more about sustainable fashion and eco-friendly clothing, I highly recommend Erin’s YouTube Channel, My Green Closet (which is where I heard about The True Cost in the first place).

Think about it.

And enjoy.

 

Capsule Wardrobe | Dying Clothes

Getting rid of clothes and deciding on a uniform, or rather more of a “dress code”, made my life easier. However, I still had clothes that fit well and that I liked, but weren’t exactly the colors I wanted. So I decided to dye some things.

I wanted to reconstitute three pieces: a pair of dark blue skinny jeans that were embarrassingly faded in the knees, jean capris that were too light for my taste, and (formerly) white shorts that were plagued by stubborn berry stains.

I used Rit Liquid Dye that I bought at my local Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store for $3.99. I used one 8 fl. oz. bottle in black and followed the directions for sink dying, but used a bucket instead. (Washing machine dying seemed like it would be the easiest, but I didn’t want to risk dying the barrel of my washer. I also didn’t want to dye my sink, which is why I used a bucket, but the bucket probably wasn’t necessary anyway.)

I followed the directions on the bottle and did a little research online for other tips and other people’s experiences. I measured out the hottest tap water that would flow from my faucet and added a full cup of table salt (to help set the color in the cotton fabrics). I used an old wooden ruler to mix the contents almost constantly for a half hour. (An hour is recommended, but I had a deadline before work.) I wished I had an outdoor tub sink to use when the rinsing portion of the process came, but was forced to use my kitchen sink.

I lined my sink with a trash bag, the bottom of which I had cut a hole cut into for the strainer part of the drain. This didn’t work as well as planned, but still turned out okay in the end.

The rinsing was the hardest part and seemed to use SO MUCH water. Directions say to rinse with water until it runs away clear. I think the rinsing took as long as, or longer, than the prior dye setting process. I splashed grey dye-water on my sink and some nearby dishes (should’ve moved them beforehand). The trash bag slowed the drain process and a lot of water escaped to the outside of it anyway, so I soon abandoned it. I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed and cursed the splash droplets that found their ways onto my kitchen counters. Thankfully, a Magic Eraser cleaned up the entire area perfectly for me. The dishes came clean with an immediate swipe of a paper towel.

Then I had to run the three items for a cycle in my washing machine. And now I can’t remember if I dried them in the tumble dryer or hung them up… I think I used the tumble dryer, hoping the heat would help set the dye even more.

And I’ve been quite happy with the results. They came out a bit more dark grey than black, but I’m fine with that. I think they would have come out darker if I had used two bottles, as suggested in the directions, but I wasn’t that picky. I haven’t had any dye come off on anything during wear and even wore some out in the rain. I have not, however, washed them with any of my other clothes so far, for fear of bleeding. (I haven’t washed them at all yet since wearing them, but plan to wash them separate with just blacks when I do.)

Although I am happy with the results and that I can get more use out of these three pairs of bottoms, I really didn’t enjoy the process. It was messy and time-consuming and my home just isn’t set up very well for it. I like the idea of dying clothes to repurpose them or make them last longer, but would prefer, going forward, to buy strong, lasting colors in durable fabrics that adhere to my dress code, than to try this again.

Enjoy.