What I Learned Wearing A Capsule Wardrobe For a Year

What I learned from wearing a Minimal Capsule Wardrobe for a year

When my workplace introduced a limited colour palette of black, white and grey a year ago, I basically stopped buying new clothes. I have bought the odd fresh t-shirt or top, and two new jumpers, but have pretty much survived this Sydney winter in the same 4 dresses, 2 cardigans, 2 skirts, 2 pairs of tights and 1 pair of jeans.

Apart from 1 new dress and 1 new skirt that I bought to start with, I really did already have a capsule wardrobe – it was just hiding in amongst all my other clothes.

what I learned when I wore the same clothes in a limited colour palette for a year:

Fewer clothes makes getting dressed so much easier

It’s true what they say about uniform dressing, there is much less to consider in the morning when all you have to worry about is the temperature and what kind of situation you are entering that day – having less items of clothing will immediately narrow down the choices you have to make once you have taken weather and context into consideration.

You will save a lot of money

If you limit the colour palette of your wardrobe, going shopping will lose its charm. You will look at half the clothes on the rack and simply say ‘not for me’. Over time, the desire to even go shopping will almost disappear.

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How to Live Like A Traveler (Even When You Are Home)

How to live like a traveler (even when you are at home)
It can be really tough when you get that itch to travel, but circumstances prevent you from traveling too far or for very long.  A big year at work and our first year of having a mortgage to pay off mean that there hasn’t been much scope for overseas trips in the last 12 months, but I have developed some strategies to help keep myself sane and grounded when all I really want to do is take flight.  Here are some of the ways I help myself find that exhilarating and/or comforting feeling that travel always brings into my life.

Centre Yourself

Many mornings when I have to get up, shower and go to work, I try to visualise the excellent life place I was in when I was travelling solo for six months, back in 2013.  The physical place that represents my adventure mindset that I always end up returning is Whistler in Canada, because I was there in summer and the landscape, hiking and people I met were amazing.  I felt so free and grounded there.  Most mornings when I am in the shower, shampooing my hair etc, I imagine I am back in the shower of my dorm at the Whistler Hi Hostel.  This helps me start the day with the same peace and sense of wonder that I have when I am travelling.  Every day is an opportunity to recapture the person I was that summer.

Prepare Your Body for Future Travel

Traveling requires endurance, and we are often far more active when traveling than when at home.  Lately I experimented with being as active and adventurous in Sydney as I am when traveling, and found it really lifted my spirits.  I bought new active wear that I love so much I would wear it all day if I could, and started getting up at 6am at least 3 mornings a week to take the dog for a 7 km walk around Sydney Harbour near our house in Balmain.  I also started cycling 10 km to rock climbing twice a week and going for drives to the beach on weekends for an early morning swim.  Not only do I feel much more fit, strong and capable, I feel encouraged by the fact that I am living the same active life that I would be if I were off on a long adventure. Let’s just say that I have already started my training regime for a life of future travel.

Downsize Your Possessions

After having been home for a while, most of us tend to start to accumulate possessions again. While I love having shelves full of books, an ice cream maker, and at least three big fluffy petticoats for wearing under vintage dresses, I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that I have.  I often lie in bed at night doing an audit of my wardrobe, working out what would make the cut if I were to head off traveling, and what would stay behind.  I’m making a point at the moment of selling or getting rid of a lot of possessions that I just really don’t need in my life any more, and whenever I buy anything new I think about whether this is something that will help me in the future if I decide to live a more transient life.

Make the Most of Your Weekends

Even when you work full time, there are weekends (especially long weekends) when you can get out of the city and go somewhere different.  Even though it has been a very busy year without any overseas trips (NZ doesn’t count), I have been lucky enough to go on several short trips in the last year, including to Queenstown, Noosa, Melbourne, Mudgee, Brisbane, Tasmania, and the Hunter Valley.  Even if you can’t jump on a plane or drive for three hours, there are still plenty of ways to explore your own backyard.  Check out national parks near your home, cheap rental properties near the beach for the weekend, special excursions like walks or kayaking trips.  I especially like We Are Explorers, an Australian community of adventurers who curate awesome microadventures that you can go on close to home.

Travel in Your Own City

Even if we spend much of our time dreaming of far-off or exotic locations, most of us are actually not that great at spending time alone.  If you are thinking about traveling in the future, or just want to capture that magic travel feeling, try wandering your own city.  Pick a suburb you have never been to before and visit for the day, go to museums alone, take solo ferry journeys, take a book to a restaurant or cafe with good atmosphere and eat out alone, visit bookstores and art galleries.  Exploring your own city is a great way to revisit that sense of wonder you carry with you when you travel and gives you a chance to see your own home with fresh eyes.

Travel in Your Own Mind

Even if you can’t leave your home any time soon, there is no reason why you can’t expand your own experiences.  Read world literature, watch foreign films, and cook meals from other cultures.  Food is one of the most amazing things about traveling, and is something we savour and remember long after we have moved on to our next destination.  A great way to live like you are travelling is to eat food from the places you would like to go (or have been).  We love French and German Rieslings and have been thinking about going to Alsace for a long time.  We planned to spend a month in France in 2017, with part of that time spend in Alsace, but unfortunately (due to a number of circumstances) it looks like we may not make it in the next 12 moths.  But last night, to help myself imagine myself there, I cooked Coq au Riesling, and it was delicious.  You would be surprised how many ways there are to travel to a place you have never been, even when you are in your own living room.

Treat Yourself: Bedlinen

cultiver-sheets

After getting divorced in my late twenties, I lived alone for the first time. It was a quite roomy one bedroom house with a large living room, long corridor and large and very liveable kitchen. It was the entire downstairs of a Sydney terrace house and had a gorgeous garden out the back. I rented on Gumtree (Australia’s Craigslist) and it cost me a third of my salary each week. This was a luxury I decided I needed for a while, to help me find some peace and also test myself: to see if I could live alone and if I would enjoy it.

My new house came furnished and while there was a lot of stuff in the house… shabby antique furniture and over 100 vintage pictures hung on the walls, the bedroom was surprisingly minimal. It just had a plain double bed with no headboard, and a lamp that sent out a gentle, mellow light from a little bedside table. To personalise the bedroom and give myself a little luxury, I splashed out on a gorgeous quilt cover from Spacecraft. It made the room, and also helped me feel extremely happy going to bed each night alone. I loved that little house and discovered in my year there (among other, much more important things) that good bedlinen is a little luxury that can help you every day.

Whether it is a statement quilt cover, or buttery linen sheets, or a collection of mismatched vintage pillow cases, this is a gorgeous and practical way to treat yourself. We do spend a third of our life in bed, after all.

Best Cleansers for Oily Skin

Even in my thirties, my skin is still rather oily and I experience a lot of congestion. Especially after a long day at work or out and about in the city, I love few things more than cleansing my face and getting everything soft and smooth again. It can be hard to find a cleanser that really gets all the gunk out of your face, leaving pores clean, without making your face feel tight and shiny or dry and flakey.  Through trial and error (and lots of samples), I have found 5 that I love.

These are my favourite day and night cleansers for clean, soft skin.

Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel
Deep cleansing, but very gentle on the skin. Used by lots of beauty therapists at the start of your facial or skin treatment. I often get travel sized bottles of this face wash in promotions from Adore Beauty, so it is often my travel cleanser of choice.

Alpha H Triple Action Cleanser with Thyme
A luxurious, beautiful smelling cleanser that leaves your skin feeling really clear. The liquid is quite thick and viscous but you don’t need much of it to get a great wash. Great for makeup removal, too. Leaves skin feeling clean, soft and balanced.

Dermalogica Clear Start Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash
Comes is a very generously sized tube and foams up really nicely. If you love a cleanser with lots of foam and bubbles, and want deep cleansing that doesn’t leave your skin tight this is a great choice. Especially good in summer when you wear a lot of sunscreen.

Dr Hauschka Cleansing Cream
More of a scrub than a cleanser, but this is a very gentle one that really cleans pores by massaging the skin in a way that gently removes deep dirt and impurities. Far less abrasive than other scrubs and helps control the skin’s natural oil production. Always leaves my skin glowing.

Neutrogena Deep Clean Facial Cleanser
By far the cheapest cleanser on this list, but currently my favourite! Leaves skin feeling perfectly clean and supple. My skin has really cleared up over the last few weeks while using this cleanser and I am really happy with it – especially the price! I love that it comes in a pump bottle.

Spring Style: Boho Minimalism

Spring Style Trend: Boho Luxe Minimalist

I never imagined that I would be a bohemian dresser. I wear little jewellery and generally like my clothes to be embellished with simple style lines or interesting and unusual construction methods.

Lately, though, I have been drawn to Toast, Isabel Marant Etoile, Ace & Jig, Steven Alan and Rachel Comey, and a few Australian Designers who do boho minimalism really well: Fleur Wood, Lee Mathews, Morrison and Tigerlily in particular.

And I just bought my first pair of dropped-crotch trousers… and can’t stop checking the instagram of Sincerely Jules and The Luxi Look

The fact that summer is coming, planning evening trips to the beach now the days are longer and warmer, and dreaming of tropical and sub-continent holidays has definitely helped, as has a growing obsession with Ikat fabrics and Kilim textiles.

Boho Minimalist Rules

But because I am a sartorial minimalist at heart I have a few style rules for myself to keep this new luxe desire for embellishment under control.

Play with texture

Keep the silhouette simple and add detail with special fabrics, but without being overly decorative. Think linen and silk, fabric manipulation like pintucks, lace inserts, embossed and textured woven fabrics and monochrome embroidery rather than all over lace, fringing or pom pom edging.

Careful with pattern

If the print is big or small, stick with just the one item of clothing made of out patterned fabric. This one pattern can compliment the textural differences of your other garments, without being over the top.

Play with proportion

Thinking about the silhouette again, don’t assume that everything has to be voluminous, a simple oversized shift or an a-line maxi skirt in a vintage fabric with good drape can work just as well as a frou frou ruffled off-the shoulder dress. Likewise, if you choose a simple style of camisole, shirt or dress, texture or simple embellishment can still make it feel luxe. Just because you are leaning towards the bohemian, doesn’t mean you can’t keep it sedate and elegant.

Keep your colour palette simple

Monochrome layers in taupe, grey, black, ecru, dusty pinks or white, contrasting navy and light neutrals, or one to two bright colours (at most) with a neutral background.  Indigo. More indigo.

Use vintage folk accents

Use vintage items wisely, by having a minimal and possibly even monochrome outfit, but with a vintage fair isle or lopi jumper, or a blouse with embroidered or lace insets.

Salvage: 5 things you can do to extend the life of your clothes

Salvage: 5 Things You Can Do to Extend the Life of Your Clothes

I am resisting the urge to buy new clothes lately, and am trying to take care of the clothes I have. A little meditative labour can save you hundreds of dollars and extend the life of clothes that you love. You will still love them to death one day, but with a little maintenance you can make them last so much longer. To this end, these are the meditative mending tasks I find myself doing on a lazy rainy day on the couch in front of an episode of The Kettering Incident:

Darning

Learn how to fix holes in knitted things, and do it quickly before the hole grows so big as to be unmanageable. There are lots of different ways to darn, and depending on the thickness of the knitted fabric you could darn with anything from tapestry wool to transparent nylon or silk thread. Pinterest has some great instructions for different darning methods.

Replacing Buttons

Fixing loose buttons, or replacing sets of buttons entirely can either make barely functioning clothing useful again, or can revitalise an old tired look. Many times I have bought a rather ordinary dress or coat second hand, and then totally reworked it just by changing the buttons. You could have an old slightly-worn black shirtdress that you freshen up with kelly green buttons, or a nice coat with rather ugly buttons that you replace with something much more classic or timeless. Learning how to sew a shank button on well is an especially useful skill (especially when that coat has got just a little too tight and you need an extra millimetre or two at the bust or midriff).

Depilling

For the love of all that is good in life, get yourself a cashmere comb! My boyfriend bought a sweater online recently that came with its own cashmere comb. I am pretty sure the teeth are made of diamond. This wondrous object of worship now lives in the top drawer of his desk and I use it at least once a week on my three cashmere cardigans and any merino or machine knitted item that is getting a bit ‘pilly’. It keeps my knitwear looking so much less ratty and I feel far more polished and together leaving the house. Depilling is an activity second only to the power of lint brush (I love the kind with sticky layers of paper that you tear off only to reveal a pristine new layer). If you can’t get your hands on a cashmere comb, I hear on good authority that a lady bic razor can also do an excellent job.

Replacing a Zipper

Can you count on more than one hand the number of times you have thrown out or donated an item of clothing just because the zipper no longer works? It’s actually pretty easy to replace a zipper, even if it’s not the right length to start with. I would definitely recommend buying a zipper foot for your sewing machine. I bought my zipper feet on ebay and they (like learning to drive), have changed my life. Being able to replace a zipper is also a useful skill when you have an item of clothing that is either slightly too large or slightly too small, being able to take it in a bit at the back seam or let it out as you add a new zipper, can make all the difference. Life is too short to wear ill fitting and uncomfortable clothes, better to goldilocks the shit out of that favourite garment and make it… just right.

Polishing your Shoes

While I actually never polish my shoes, most days I look at them and think ‘how much better would life be right now if my shoes were shiny and unscuffed!?’ Like doing my nails and blowdrying my hair, I feel like taking better care of my shoes is one of those things I could definitely do to make myself feel more polished. Paying close attention to how worn down the heels of your shoes are and taking them to a cobbler to get replaced is another of those things that can literally save you hundreds of dollars.

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How to: Measure your Insole

Dieppa Restrepo
If you have ever agonised about buying shoes online, let me save you some inconvenience.

After deliberating which size you are, but before you hit purchase, email the website and see if they can provide you with a measurement for the insole of the sizes in question.

Using an accurate insole measurement is the only way to make sure that a pair of shoes will absolutely fit.

I have tried several times to buy shoes online. The results were usually pretty disastrous, until I learned this simple trick. Would you believe that my foot is 22cm, but I wear a 24cm insole? I wouldn’t have thought this was right, but it turns out your feet need that much wriggle room.

Here’s how to measure your insole:

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