Update: 34-day capsule test, 20 days In (long)

In late July I decided to put myself on a 34-day / 34 item capsule test.  My goals were to "seek first to understand" -- know myself, my behaviors, and wardrobe needs.  And to use this knowledge to pare down my wardrobe to a more manageable level.  I also wanted to come up with a wardrobe count, and thereafter to practice one-in, one out.

Net capsule is up to 35 pieces.  
The work capsule grew, the smart casual capsule shrank.  The casual capsule would like to have permission to increase.  I miss all of my colorful Summer tops.


  • Similar to what I observed after 8 days, my smarter attire needs are minimal.  This is where my closet needs a lot of paring down.
  • By engaging in what's become for me a mindful process, I am better appreciating the clothes that work.  And, I'm having an easier time letting go of what doesn't work.  What's important here is the focus, the mindful observation (= tracking what I'm wearing and why, and observing what I'm not).  3 items from the capsule are on the purge list so far.
  • Unworn items -- smart casual capsule mostly.  Duplicate colors (too many white tees in the capsule) and items with fabric issues (fabric look or feel not stellar - some of my Zara things fall in this category).
  • I crave color variety.  When I created this capsule I had a more limited color palette.  But as each day wore on, I found myself substituting the whites and grays for more colors.  I know cool pale blues and greens aren't my best, but I like the way they make me feel.  Summer is my longest season.  I am going to enjoy all of my casual colorful Summer clothes, they don't take a lot of room, and make me happy.  Conclusion:  I don't need as much paring down from this section -- everything is getting worn.
  • For all of the non-Summer seasons, this color explosion will be unrealistic.  More layers means more clothing.  I must focus on a more limited color palette, because I like a coordinated look.
  • Failure at the shopping ban effort!  I got some sandals (love them!) and another Three Dots Hi-Low top (Missey I'm coming clean!).  I don't like feeling bad about myself.  Or comparing my will power to yours.  I must think twice before joining another shopping ban.  :-(

Some WIWs.
1/2 -- My one and only smart casual occasion was seeing a matinee showing of "100 Foot Journey."  Jean Paul Gaultier sheer pencil skirt, Zara tee. Gorjana necklace.  Here in my "runway" pose. ;-)  Do you think it's better with Birks (picture 2)?  What about length, would midi be better?  Do I need bike shorts due to sheerness (sheerness shows selectively, with flash photography and in certain light).
3 -- Worn today, the new Donald J Pliner slides, and my second Three Dots Hi-Low top.  Thanks again Sarah for the first top!  I have worn these sandals daily since I got them.  They are much better quality than my usual Summer footwear.  The jeans are Mother "The Groupie," my improved Mom jeans (bye-bye BDG Mom jeans, they were great starters but these are so much better).
4 -- A top that's getting the ax.  Love the color, but it's too low cut, the armholes are too big, and it's not my best length (ends where I'm widest).  Do you agree -- purge?
5 -- One of my several colorful striped tees.  Stripes = high happiness factor.  From last year, Madewell.  Worn with TR Camerons 2 + year old workhorse jeans.
6 -- Work look of the moment.  

Feedback appreciated on the italicized areas!  And anything else.


Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →


My capsule test (long)

All of the forum talk of minimal dressing and capsules got me wanting to try it myself.  I decided to do a 34-day capsule as a test, herewith described.  

My goals:  to learn about my existing closet, my dressing habits, my true lifestyle needs, and importantly -- what I don't need.  After 3 years 7 months on YLF I have acquired a big wardrobe.  I like a lot of my pieces too.  But it's become too much, and the sheer choice overwhelms me now rather than makes me happy.  So the capsule test has become my technique to help me edit plus determine a wardrobe count, then to practice one in, one out so I don't end up with the 200-300 pieces I have now (an estimate).

34-day Capsule
I started with a lifestyle assessment of the next 34 days.  Why 34 days?  Because it's a manageable test amount for me, and also lets me build a new capsule for September, where I have different activities planned and the environment changes.  I used un-fancy.com's wardrobe planner, and it made the exercise quick.

Lifestyle Needs for August

-35% work outfits
-50% casual and comfortable
-10% smarter casual -  a degree more stylish than casual & comfortable; shopping outfits for example
-5% smartest casual  - similar to smarter casual but dressier, usually involving higher heeled shoes; dinner outfits for example.

Colors for August

Major -- white/cream + blues/indigo
Minor -- black
Accents -- Coral + Green + Gold

Go-to Pieces
White button down shirts
Fluid fit tees
Fitted denim bermuda shorts
Boyfriend jeans
Skinny jeans
Black fashion-forward bottoms (harem pants, long shorts etc)
Mini wedge sandals
Statement necklaces

My Go-to Outfits
Skinny jeans + white button down shirt + black clogs + black waist apron for work.
Boyfriend jeans + fluid tee + sandal
Knee shorts + tunic tee + sandal
Maxi skirt + white tee + sandal
Harem pants + knit top + sandal
Culottes + crop top + sandal

The Count-
Work (11 pieces):
5 work shirts (4 white button downs + 1 teal button down)
1 black clogs
5 work-appropriate jeans (2 skinny jeans + The Groupie jeans + Knee shorts + lightweight skinny jeans)

Smart Casual (7 pieces):
3 black bottoms (JF long shorts, harem pants, long skirt)
Silky Zara tee
Cropped white tee
Raquel Allegra tee
Strappy black mini wedge sandals

Casual (16 pieces):
5 shoes (Birks, Glads, Nude wedges, cognac ankle strap + one wild card)
9 tops (Mandarin white tee, scoop white tee, v white tee, green tee, green stripe tee, coral tank, cobalt tank, coral stripe tee, chambray shirt)
2 shorts (From Wal*Mart in 2 colors)

Pictures - to give you an idea
1 -- Typical casual, at home outfit for August.  Avg. temps are 95 F, the day I took this picture it was 102 F.  
2 -- Smart casual
3 -- Work outfit

Next -- lessons learned.


Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →