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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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.

Rainy Spring Melbourne Packing List

rainy

We’re off to Melbourne for four days on Wednesday, and the weather forecast says rain, rain and more rain. It makes sense as it’s just turned Spring here in Australia, and Springtime up and down Australia’s East Coast is always a bit rainy. But I didn’t quite plan for this, and am now drastically changing my packing plans.

Outer Layer
Apart from Summer, when it’s hot everywhere, it’s always about 5-10 °C colder in Melbourne than Sydney. Because of the chill factor, I was planning on taking my favourite cold weather outer layer, a gorgeous oxblood red wool cape from Cue. This isn’t going to be very practical if it’s all rain all the time, however, so I think I’ll just stick with my trusty Paddy Pallin rain parka. I have had my rain coat for years, and intentionally bought a black one because I knew it would be perfect for incognito rainy days in the big city as well as for tramping (hiking) and rainy country days with my parents in New Zealand.

Footwear
There is really only one pair of shoes I wear during rainy weather, and it’s my black R.M. Williams boots. My trusty turnouts are slim and dainty enough to wear with skirts or dresses, but are also the perfect utilitarian match for a pair of skinny jeans. They are so waterproof: I have stepped out of cars into overflowing gutters and walked through creeks and never got a wet foot, ever. Unlike some shoes which just won’t survive a drenching, they always dry fine. With a nice cushioned pair of ice breaker running socks or a luxe pair of thick hand knitted alpaca socks they are comfy all day, even when there is lots of walking involved. In anything but the middle of summer they are my go-to shoes for any city break or rural ramble.  Even better, because they slip on and off, I will be wearing this bulky item on the plane.

Bottoms
I could totally stand to take just one pair of jeans, but I like options, so will be taking my grey Citizens of Humanity Rocket jeans and my black Frame Le Skinny de Jeanne jeans. Both are durable, soft, comfy, stretchy, withstand damp weather and repeat wears without washing. If I want to dress them up I will throw on a silk kimono top or a camisole and blazer.

Tops
But to be honest, because it’s Melbourne, I will probably just live in a soft bamboo singlet and chambray button down shirt, or a tshirt and merino cardigan. I would rather be comfortable than fancy, and just sewed a gorgeous scarf out of a soft Nani Iro double gauze fabric in a vibrant blue, so I can use that to jazz up my outfit if I feel a bit drab.

Fancy
We are going out to dinner to Attica, and I should probably dress up a little, so I will make an exception to my comfy and casual rule, and pack a nice little black dress from Camilla and Marc (this one is similar) to wear. I guess if it’s rainy I should probably pack some stockings and a pair of heels (or booties?). And maybe an umbrella…

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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5 Piece French Wardrobe Update

My quest for both a 333 and a 5 piece french wardrobe this year was complicated by the fact that my work required me to start wearing only black, white and grey.

This led to a little bit of scrambling to find enough everyday basics in this monochrome palette to see me through the winter, but I did also manage to score myself a beautiful Navy Cashmere pullover from Christensen Copenhagen that is both casual and luxurious. It has buttons down the back, and I love that I can wear it as either as a pullover or back to front as a slouchy but tidy cardigan.

My pieces this year were:

Grey Skinny Jeans from Citizens of Humanity (similar)
Grey Cotton Cashmere Maxi Dress from Majestic Filatures (similar)
Black Cotton Cashmere Pencil Skirt from Majestic Filatures
Grey Cotton Pencil Skirt from Majestic Filatures
Black Silk Kaftan Top from Morrison
Black Silk Kaftan Dress from Morrison
Navy Cashmere Pullover from Not Shy
Black Alberto Fasciani Booties (similar)
Homespun Cabled Pullover from Muji
White Silk Blouse from Oxford

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Vintage Knitting

vintage knitting

Summer is wrapping up in Australia, with one more hot month before coolness starts to set in. There is a Monday morning in April each year in Sydney, when all the girls on the train platform are suddenly wearing scarves.  It’s like they all coordinate it (there must be an app or something).  Winter coats follow soon after, but my favourite cold weather garment will always be a cardigan.

I’m starting to plan my knitting for the year now, because it took me most of last winter to knit my teal Audrey cardigan. If I am to add another vintage inspired cardigan to my wardrobe this year, I better get started!

When I watched the movie Brooklyn recently, I was very inspired by the cardigans and sweaters worn by Saoirse Ronan.  I wanted to start knitting right there in the cinema.

Favourite Nail Colours

I’m one of those no fuss girls who doesn’t get round to doing her nails very often.  When I do, choosing a colour always stresses me out because I don’t know how I will coordinate one colour with a week’s worth of outfits.

These are the colours that I have found through trial and error to be the most flattering and versatile.

White
White nails are very fresh, and look especially great in summer when my skin tends to be a bit more tanned than usual.  White looks good with almost anything, but especially with blues, which I wear a lot.  Funny Bunny by OPI is my favourite white, because it’s not too opaque.

Pale Yellow
I got a pale yellow manicure on a whim one time on holiday in Chicago, and it was the perfect colour for my travel wardrobe of black, neutrals, red, white and blues.  I was really surprised by how good the yellow looked against my skin and how easy it was to match to outfits.  The yellow I really love is Jasper from Butter London‘s SS13 collection, but I’m not sure it’s still available.

Peach
Classic and girly, but not too girly.  Works well year round. My favourite is Privacy Please by OPI.

Coral
Definitely a summer colour, and one that can match with a lot of neutral outfits easily. Coral is a nice way to add a touch of colour to a simple outfit.  I’m also a fan of those bright red orange nail colours, but find they can be harder to get right.  Coral is great for the beach.  Essie has an amazing range from peachy to neon red.

Navy
I normally steer clear of dark nail colours, because I find they tend to make my hands look older and are generally less forgiving than most pastel colours.  That said, there are some rainy weeks in spring or autumn in Sydney where navy is a great choice and cheers me up no end.  My favourite navy is Urban from Revlon.

Maroon
A classic work-appropriate alternative to fire engine red nails.  I wear a lot of deep aubergine purple and charcoal grey, and find this colour can go really nicely with these outfits.

Taupe
I see women rocking neutral nails all the time and figure this is a grown up alternative to pastel nails that would definitely last the distance.  I have a bottle of Essie’s Sand Tropez that I got in a beauty box and am going to give it a go and see how it looks.