Monday, December 28, 2015

Winter 2016 Capsule Wardrobe

Who knew that trying to create a capsule wardrobe could take all day? Well, it has taken just about that, but I am done now and here are the results for my Project 333 undertaking:

Aaaaand... it's 32 items pictured here. Lol. I am NOT going to try to figure out which thing is missing; I am just going with this for now. You get the idea! :)

I have been a long-time proponent of voluntary simplicity and have written here about my own attempts at living lightly over the years (hence the name of my blog). So, when I started hearing more about capsule wardrobes, I was intrigued.

The idea of a capsule wardrobe has been niggling at my brain for at least the last 18 months or so. Jennifer Scott writes about it on her blog and in her books. There is plenty of capsule wardrobe information on Pinterest and on the internet in general and I have also watched a number of YouTubers discussing and sharing their capsule wardrobes.

I love clothes. I love the way they can make you feel and the things you can say with your clothing. But, as I mentioned in my prior post, I am not alone in my love for clothing and we here on planet Earth have developed a pretty big problem with the amount of waste that our excessive production of clothing (as well as many, many other things!) has produced. As with most things, it is best to practice moderation.

I thought that I already had a pretty small wardrobe, so I wasn't going to try making it any smaller. But then I started counting my things and they added up surprisingly quickly!


This is my half of the closet I share with my husband. It's more like 3/4; he takes up less room! This is nearly everything I have except for a partially filled bin with some summer clothes and pajamas. But upon beginning to count my things, I decided that Project 333 might be the starting place for me to begin to minimize my wardrobe and make it into something that has fewer things, but more of what I actually love. I don't know that the clothes that I have selected are just that, but they are a place to start.

I'm not going to end up doing the project quite as strictly as the rules say, but it is a beginning. I have selected 33 items which include my shoes. These 33 items are to be my working wardrobe for 3 months - a season, hence the "333." Now, with the original project rules, you are supposed to include jewelry, outer wear and accessories in your 33 count, but I am just not there yet and I may never be. I have about a dozen scarves and a collection of jewelry that I weeded out this past spring. I plan to use these pieces to add color and variety to my very neutral wardrobe. Maybe I will find I am not using them. As I learn, I will let things go, but I a not going to do that in one fell swoop.

I also have two winter coats and a pair of outdoor boots, shawls, and scarves and hats that I have knit. I won't be giving those things up. Knitting is one of my passions and this is about joy, not deprivation. I did, however, get the items down to those you see at the beginning of the post.

Undergarments, pajamas, and workout clothes do not count toward your count. I don't know if tights would have counted in the original project, but I have 4 pair: black, brown, navy blue, and gray and I am not counting them, just as I am not counting my socks.

So, from the work I did today, I had these to donate:

these to store:

and this is the final closet:

I covered up the shoe rack in the picture, because I am just leaving the other shoes on the shelf to be considered when spring rolls around (I won't leave the towel there; it's just for the picture!). Courtney Carver suggests you box and tape things up and while I would like that affect visually, I don't want to move my shoes to another part of the house right now. Hopefully, this exercise will show me just what I really need and use and the shoe shelf itself can be minimized. For now, it's staying. I plan to take this wardrobe to the end of March and then transition to a spring wardrobe.

I can say I almost did not finish this set up. The first part of the exercise was easy; I had favorite pieces and I knew how I wore them. But the fewer choices that remained, the harder things got! I have a couple of things put away right now that I didn't want to have to choose and there are a couple of things I kept in that I'm not sure about either. But we shall see!

I like being pushed to be creative with what I have and see how much I can enjoy my things. I think for this first quarter, I will post an outfit-of-the-day with the #Project333 on Instagram and I'll try to post a weekly round-up here. Also, I may be on the lookout for a pair of new-to-me brown boots. As I mentioned, I am purchasing all second-hand this year, so it may take a while. I love the brown boots I have, which were bought 4 years ago at a thrift store, but they are wearing out in areas. They are not leather (which, being vegetarian, I prefer that they are not) and some of the vinyl has peeled away in areas. I did find this post on repairing peeling vinyl boots, so I'm going to give it a try first and see if they end up looking acceptable to me.

My goal is to try this throughout the year, though I'm going to check in with myself at the end of each season and see if and how I want to continue. Well, that's it for today. Thanks for stopping by! :)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

SSASS in the New Year: Thrifty Goodness and Second-Hand Style

I love this time of year. It's not just because Christmas is an important holiday in the Christian calendar, but also because it never fails to give me pause for reflection and think about ideas for the coming twelve months. I know that not everyone gets into goal setting and resolutions, but I have learned - after trying to go without setting intentions - that it makes me pretty miserable to skip out and call January 1 just another day.

Christmas has become such an interesting cultural phenomenon. I wonder if we'll ever be able to stop this crazy train? There are so many emotions packed into this season: joy, wonder, idealism, excitement, sadness, loneliness, nostalgia, frustration, stress, anger. Plus, its the end of a calendar year and the beginning of a new one. It's this huge culmination of feeling, consumption, history, and the future all wrapped into one. It has impact whether or not you are even a believer.

So the other day, while we were between the last co-op classes for the semester for Eve, we were looking around at some shops and trying to find something for Eve to give to Maia. We grew ever more frustrated as we just couldn't find something that, within her limited budget, Eve wanted to give her sister.

There's a lot that goes into this, of course:

Eve doesn't have a job yet and as a teen, doesn't always budget ahead for Christmas with her small allowance, so when December rolls around, she doesn't have a great deal of money to spend. Not a big deal, and totally understandable, but she's been frustrated as she's gotten older and wants to give gifts herself. She'll have a job by next Christmas, though, so this shouldn't be a problem for her next year.

Maia does have a job and, as she lives at home and doesn't own a car, she doesn't have a lot of costly expenses yet. She'll actually be paying for health insurance for herself this year and will have some other school expenses coming up, but these past couple of years have left her with a good deal of "disposable income," and she pretty much can afford whatever it is that she wants.

So, the idea that because it is this time of year, Eve is expected to essentially find something to give to the "girl who has everything," just doesn't feel right. Don't get me wrong. Eve and I love Christmas. It's not that Eve doesn't want to give her sister a gift, but its just that the messages are so loaded against her if she doesn't or if she can't. And it's also that it's supposed to be "special," you know? Because it's a Christmas gift, the cultural message is that it's supposed to be kind of remarkable in some way. No Little House on the Prairie penny candy, or hand-monogrammed handkerchief is acceptable (though I'd take the hankie any day).

But a note of thanksgiving here: my girls adore each other and if one couldn't give the other a gift for the holiday, it would be fine - as it would be with the rest of my extended family. I really am blessed with a great bunch. But it's the message - that mad, ad-machine that just drives me crazy.

So here we were, looking around and I suggested we go into the nearby mall to walk around to see if anything struck her fancy. Eve reluctantly agreed saying, "But there's nothing but clothes in there, Mom." And she was right! Here in Minnesota, we have the famed, "Mall of America" which has quite an assortment of stores (but still TONS) of clothes. But the smaller malls seem to have lost a lot of their variety. Now, I'm not nostalgic at ALL about malls of yesteryear, but I do remember that there used to be book stores, toy stores, game stores, hair salons, movie theaters, etc. in malls. This mall, though, has very little of variety now. There is an Apple store, cosmetic/bath stores (Bath and Body Works, Sephora, Lush), Claire's jewelry, but most of the rest were store after store of clothes.

Most of my clothing is second hand. I would have to say 85 to 90% of the clothing I own is thrifted and I have been doing this happily for years. I haven't ever issued myself a challenge to make sure that I don't shop elsewhere, but I had been thinking about it for the upcoming year just to stretch myself and my creativity. But there are so many more reasons why this is a good idea and some of these were illuminated for me when Eve made the point about all the clothes in the mall.

First of all, as we walked around, I wondered, "What if all the clothes in this mall were piled up? How high would that pile be? How much would it weigh? How many people could it clothe and do we even need that much?" And this wasn't even the Mall of America! It boggles the mind to think of all the clothing and other merchandise that is in that place!

And then I did just a tiny bit of research. From one webpage, The Council for Textile Recycling, I learned these statistics

The U.S. EPA estimates that textile waste occupies nearly 5% of all landfill space.

While the EPA estimates that the textile recycling industry recycles approximately 3.8 billion pounds of post-consumer textile waste (PCTW) each year, this only accounts for approximately 15% of all PCTW, leaving 85% in our landfills.

The average US citizen throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles annually.

 From The Atlantic, I learned that, "Americans now buy five times as much clothing as they did in 1980."

That is truly bizarre to me.

There are so many reasons why we are where we are with this issue, and a lot more has been written about it than I can touch. But it's enough for me to take a step back and at least think about what I am doing. There are various movements happening in response to over-consumption and a number of them deal with clothing specifically. Minimalism is a growing movement. Capsule wardrobes are very popular. And many, many people know about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Even if we aren't all doing something about it, many of us know we just have too much.

Given my proclivity for reflection this time of year, I have often come up with a word-of-the-year. It's even a tag in my sidebar! :) A friend of mine asked me if I was going to have a word this year and at that point I had been mulling over some of these ideas and challenges in my mind. We have some expenses coming up. Like I have over the many years that I have been a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, I am prepared, once again, to make cuts to our budget in order to attempt to stay debt-free on our one income. I am so close to finishing school and in the spring, job hunting will begin in earnest. But in the meantime, I still have an internship and a second semester of both homeschooling and my own schooling to complete. So, partly out of necessity, I am practicing more creative, frugal habits.

But I also find that I enjoy things so much more when they have meaning behind them. So, when I knit a garment, it has memories and lessons attached to it. When I make an item of clothing or alter a piece I wouldn't otherwise use, I like it more. I like when I can mend something and I like when I think of a new way to figure out a problem without buying something to solve it for me right away. And I like practicing contentment.

My word-of-the-year is actually going to be an acronym: SSASS - "Simple, Sustainable, and Significantly Slow," because these are the habits I aim to cultivate in this new year. And I plan to have fun with it, so that's where the sass comes in. :)

I hope I'll have and take the time to blog about this too. It always helps to have company along the way any time you face a challenge. Yes, it's a way to be accountable, but writing also helps me clarify my thoughts and telling a story often enhances the journey. I hope to be able to do that. Thankfully, there is a great support network out there online: YouTube channels, Facebook groups, bloggers. Others doing things a little differently and telling their stories. It's all pretty fascinating and a great group of creative people. I'm all for creativity and a little bit of sass too! It should prove to be an interesting and fun challenge and year!
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