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Spring capsule wardrobe part 1: outfit documentation

Spring capsule wardrobe part 1: outfit documentation

There, two weeks of outfit documentation done! I never thought I'd get through it. Honestly, I'm so all over the place sometimes, I figured I'd forget to take a picture or to take note of what I had worn on any given day.

To mitigate this risk, I took notes each day, but took the majority of my outfit shots all in one go last weekend, hence some nicer shots and some not-so-great iPhone shots.

Week one

Day 1: Grey turtleneck sweater; high-waisted, black culottes; brown, leather booties, camel coat; grey scarf

Notes: Worked and then went home. At home: Grey sweatpants; grey sweatshirt; Glerup slippers. I felt comfortable and professional at work. I like high-waisted pants worn with a tucked-in top. I like the simplicity of this outfit as well as its contrasts: beige and black, loose-fitting top, fitted pants. 

Day 2: Elizabeth Suzann sweater; black, cropped jeans; brown, leather booties; camel coat; grey scarf (same picture as above, slightly different pant).

Notes: Worked and then went home. At home: Grey sweatpants; grey sweatshirt; Glerup slippers. I love being warm, comfortable and chic at work. I'm definitely getting a lot of use out of this new sweater this winter and early spring. My at-home lounge wear needs some love. I'm tired of looking grey and lazy.

Day 3: Patterned skirt; purple, short-sleeved sweater; nude tights; black suede booties; camel coat; grey scarf

Notes: Worked, had an after work meeting, went home and ran errands. At home: Grey, Erdaine sweater; light blue Mango jeans. Great outfit for work. This is definitely something new for me. I saw this skirt and Value Village and really liked the pattern (which rarely happens for me). I bought this top, also at VV, to go with it. My only challenge now is to make sure I have at least two others tops to wear with this skirt to get good use out of it. This outfit is light, colourful and comfortable. I liked wearing jeans and a sweater at home. Made it easier to head outside without having to slip out of my usual grey sweatsuit.

Day 4 (Saturday): Elizabeth Suzann sweater; light blue Mango jeans; Glerups; then changed into purple, short-sleeved sweater; black, cropped jeans; brown leather booties

Notes: I was at home, cleaning in my sweater and jeans, then I changed to attend a birthday dinner. Definitely love my ES sweater. What I love most about a wool sweater, is that you don't have to wash it much. The label says maybe once or twice A YEAR. That's right, it doesn't smell, dirt just falls off, sort of like the dirt on my mom's Golden Retriever. I felt comfortable in both outfits and the dinner outfit was casual enough for the scene but the colour purple was a nice change from black. I still need more cute tops for such occasions though. I won't always want to wear sweater-like tops, and I'd like something in a v-neck.

Day 5 (Sunday): Elizabeth Suzann sweater; cropped, flared jeans; black suede booties; camel coat

Notes: I went to look at model homes for fun with my mom and then hung out at her place for the night. I liked the uniformity of the outfit. It was chic, young, yet comfortable and stylish. This is a go-to for sure.

Day 6: Black Everlane turtleneck shirt; Valerie Dumaine leather crop top; black Devlyn Van Loon pants; black, suede booties

Notes: Worked and then went home. This was a sleek outfit, would be good with a white dress shirt or printed pants. The leather crop top is a tad hard to get off. Only con. Not sure I'd wear this a lot....I think I'll get more use out of the shirt this spring rather than winter. It'll be more comfortable without a top underneath it.

Day 7: Grey turtleneck sweater; black, cropped jeans; Blundstones

Notes: Work and then to a friend's for dinner. Simple, comfortable, will look best with black Oxfords, when I find some.

How happy were you with your outfits this week overall?

Happy, but I need some colour in my wardrobe. I'm tired of black and grey. I'm ready for some colourful, spring pants too. For spring, I only have light, beige linen pants. I may have to look for one pair of colourful pants, maybe even in a pattern. I have good work outfits but I need more light, long-sleeved shirts to wear with my dark bottoms and black skirts. Need better tops for skirts too. Tops that I can tuck into my skirts.

Week two

Day 1: Elizabeth Suzann sweater; cropped, flared jeans; Blundstones en route to work; white, Zoe Lee Livonia boots; camel coat; grey scarf

Notes: Worked and then at home, changed into my tried and true grey sweatpants and grey sweatshirt with my Glerups. I felt stylish at work, but maybe too young and hip looking for work with my white booties. Best to get some Oxfords and wear my booties with more subdued bottoms. Mental note, must cut the frayed edges off!

Day 2: Black Everlane turtleneck shirt; Vetta vest; black, cropped jeans; black, suede booties; camel coat; grey scarf

Notes: Worked and then went home. I really liked this outfit. It's professional, comfortable (always key for me), it's a keeper. But I should wear it with a colourful scarf to switch it up, or maybe a long necklace.

Day 3: Blush pink sweater; cropped, dark blue Levi's; Zoe Lee booties

Notes: I worked but didn't feel professional with these cropped jeans. Bad choice here Mal. They had a pull in them and worn with the booties, the whole ensemble was off. I should've worn my black, Devlyn Van Loon pants with the booties and the top. Would've been more professional. 

Day 4 (Saturday): Elizabeth Suzann sweater; cropped, flared jeans

Notes: Cleaning house, walking Lucy. The jeans are nice and stretchy, but I needed a longer top to wear under my sweater for whenever I got hot and had to take it off. The linen top I wore underneath wasn't long enough to properly tuck into my low-rise jeans.

Day 5 (Sunday): New Duffield Design, blue top; light blue Mango jeans; slippers

Notes: I was home, walked Lucy, hosted family for lunch and did a photo shoot for the blog. The jean's aren't great quality. They've lost their shape and they're a thin denim. I've decided to donate them. I can wear my cropped, dark blue Levi's to lounge in or to do house work in instead. They already have a pull and I don't need two housework pants. Loved the top, so light, soft, felt like I was naked! Big plus with this top, it's reversible! 

Day 6 (home sick): Grey sweatpants; Duffield Design top; wool socks (no need for a shot of this, just picture lazy).

Notes: I was home, walked Lucy, did some light garden work and worked from home a bit on the laptop. I felt like a comfy bum. But I would like a nicer lounge wear outfit to wear at home and still look chic.

Day 7 (also my first 10x10 outfit challenge day!): Black, long-sleeved Everlane shirt; Vetta vest; black, high-waisted culottes; brown, leather booties; brown, leather belt; camel coat; grey scarf

Notes: I worked and then had my wisdom tooth out that afternoon. I really like this look. It's young and artsy but professional. It's low-maintenance, no ironing needed, and it's feminine and minimal. I'd like to find a warm-weather version of this outfit.

How happy were you with your outfits this week overall?

Overall, I liked them, but I don't love my at-home items and I need more work shoes to suit my work outfits. I don't always want to have to wear booties with a heel. I have one nice pair of leather flats, but I'd like a pair of Oxfords, something with a subtle heel and a little more preppy look to it. I need more patterned fall tops and a warm cardigan to wear in the office over my tops.

Next post: Status quo questionnaire! 

Spring capsule wardrobe part 1: The basics - Define the status quo and set goals

Spring capsule wardrobe part 1: The basics - Define the status quo and set goals

Today, I'm launching the first post of a simple series I'm putting together to guide you through the process of building and maintaining a capsule wardrobe. If you're eager to get this process done on your end, you can read up on it and learn it from beginning to end here and here. These blogs are my favourite resources for figuring out your personal style and building a capsule wardrobe.

I'm in the capsule planning mood right now not only because it's spring, but also because I just hosted a workshop on this topic and I was thrilled by the participants' reactions and enthusiasm. Also, doing more with less is one of the pillars of Either/Or.

For the first time, I'm planning out my wardrobe refresh to a T, and really taking the time to establish my personal style. For too many years now, I've excelled at purging and organizing my closet, but not actually thinking strategically about what kind of clothes I need to suit my lifestyle.

Time and time again, I found myself purging and sorting, buying without a clear direction, and then purging and sorting again and again. It's quite counterproductive, a waste of money and a great way to never have a wardrobe that I'm fully satisfied with.

Then I read this fabulously detailed book by blogger Anuschka Rees, The Curated Closet, and I've been inspired to adopt her method to my life, make some tweaks, and share with you my journey to a fulfilling wardrobe.

Over the next few weeks, I'll share with you one post a week for each of the sections within Rees' four parts of building a capsule wardrobe outlined in the book:

Part 1: The basics
Part 2: Discover your personal style
Part 3: Build your dream wardrobe
Part 4: The art of shopping

Step 1: The basics
- Getting started: Define the status quo and set style goals

Rees says that the first step to building a capsule wardrobe is to assess how you dress right now. Define the status quo and then set goals to define the personal style you want to achieve.

I've learned through years of cleaning out my closet that it's no good doing a closet detox if you have no idea what your personal style is. You wouldn't go out and buy decor to redo your bedroom without looking at pictures of rooms that you like, would you? Take the time to define your personal style and you'll have an easier time shopping for items you really love and will wear over and over again.

What is personal style?
A note about what I mean when I say personal style. Personal style is personal. Rees reminds us that we don't have to worry about trends or what style experts say looks best on our body types. Go for what you like. If you like it, you'll wear it. It doesn't matter how trendy something is, if it doesn't float your boat, why bother buying it?

The great thing about fashion is that you can customize it to you. I love the boxy silhouettes and clean lines of today's minimalist style, but I don't always want to hide my curves so I'll often wear a boxy top with fitted, high-waisted pants, for example.

How do you begin to define your personal style?
Get a good snapshot of what you normally wear. Rees' first assignment for me is to capture two weeks worth of outfits.

I'll take a selfie for every outfit that I wear, and write down what I did that day. This is supposed to give me a good idea of the pieces I wear the most often, and the activities that take up the majority of my time.

You'll see in part 3: Build your dream wardrobe, that one of the most important steps is defining your lifestyle to clearly see what your style needs are and make sure they're met in your new capsule wardrobe. There's no point in putting in all this work to design a wardrobe that fits your fantasy life rather than your real life (I took this piece of wit from Rees).

Will you join me in my outfit documentation? Come on, it'll be fun!

Minimalist packing for a five-day trip

Minimalist packing for a five-day trip

The last days of winter are upon us but it's never too late to pick up a tip or two on how to pack light in the winter. The only consideration to make when packing light in the winter versus any other time of the year is, of course, finding room for coats and sweaters. These big items limit how many smaller items you can bring, so being strategic is key.

Last month, I went to Boston for five days, and it was my second business trip in less than a month. The first one, you might remember, was a one-day voyage and I challenged myself to only two outfits with much success.

This time around, I kept to the same less-is-more philosophy, but gave myself a check-in bag. A girl has to have enough room for shoes!

As usual, I followed my simple steps to packing light year-round:

  1. List activities
  2. Consider weather
  3. List outfits for each day/activity
  4. Try outfits on
  5. Edit
  6. Pack

My five-day Boston business trip itinerary

Activities

  1. Five days of panel discussions indoors (walking to and from conference centre and lots of sitting)
  2. Four evening networking receptions indoors (comfortable but formal shoes, cocktail-style outfits)
  3. A couple of Boston sight-seeing trips (comfy shoes, warm coat, hat, mitts, purse, sunglasses)
  4. Hotel pool and gym (bathing suit, runners and gym clothes)
  5. Flight there and back

Weather

  1. Six degrees C during the day, partially cloudy; zero degrees C at night, chance of rain (wool coat, but no need for a parka; scarf, hat, mitts, waterproof boots; no need for winter boots or hardy gloves)
  2. Should've brought a small umbrella, but didn't.

Days and outfits

  1. Flight there and back (same outfit): jeans, sweater, belt, boots, coat, scarf, hat, mitts
  2. Touring days (two outfit): jeans, long-sleeved shirt, belt, boots, coat, scarf, hat, mitts; OR black jeans, sweater, belt, boots, coat, scarf, hat, mitts
  3. Panel discussions (three outfits): black pants, blush pink top, flats; OR black pants, red sweater, flats; OR jeans, salmon pink blouse, flats
  4. Receptions: black pants, red sweater, heels; black pants, long-sleeved shirt, heels; black pants, pink shirt, heels

Final packing list - I brought two too many tops...

  1. Blue jeans
  2. Black jeans
  3. Black pants (more formal)
  4. Flats
  5. Runners
  6. Heels
  7. Boots
  8. Shorts for gym
  9. Pants for gym
  10. Two gym tops
  11. Two sports bras
  12. Three pairs of gym socks
  13. Underwear (seven pairs) you can never have too many!
  14. Six pairs of socks
  15. Red sweater
  16. Pink shirt
  17. Salmon blouse
  18. Sleeveless tunic sweater (wore only once, didn't need to bring)
  19. Black turtleneck
  20. Long-sleeved shirt
  21. PJs
  22. Bathing suit
  23. Belt
  24. Toiletries
  25. Passport
  26. Wallet
  27. Passport
  28. Phone
  29. Chargers

Conclusion

Even with this short, edited, list, I still brought too much! I have to get over my fear of not having enough tops. I didn't need to bring the sweater tunic or the black turtleneck. But three pairs of pants was perfect. One for touring, one for day-time conference stuff and one formal pair for evenings.

What do you think? Think you could've done with less? Now come on spring!

12 steps to love your clothes

12 steps to love your clothes

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Rather than give you tips on how to love yourself or love your partner on this special day of hearts (there are already loads of articles on how to do that today), here are some quick and dirty ways to love your clothes.

What do I mean by this? Well, we live in a society in which clothing has no material value. It's all symbolic. Few people actually care for their clothing. If it gets ripped, they donate it or throw it out rather than fix it. If clothing gets dirty, it was so cheap to buy, why not throw it away and just buy another one? People buy clothing on a whim, without taking any care to look for quality items that are actually worth their hard-earned money.

The more we love our clothes and treat them with care, the more respect and care we give to each other and to the planet.

Here we go:

  1. Don't buy for the brand or for the price, look for quality made pieces made out of natural fibres or quality, European-made synthetic fibres.
  2. Buy pieces that are preshrunk, especially when it comes to synthetic/natural blends so that you don't get a nasty surprise when you wash your item. Different fibres shrink at different rates, causing warps in the fabric.
  3. Look at the seams, are there any loose pieces of thread? If so, avoid it. Are the seams evenly spaced out and nice and flat? Good. 
  4. Hold the fabric up to the light, can you see through it? If so, is the weave nice and tight or are there lots of holes in it? Even the softest, lightest silks should have nice tight weaves to ensure durability.
  5. Handwash your delicate items that are silk or that have lots of hand beading and lay them flat to dry
  6. If hand washing isn't your thing, choose the delicate wash on your washer and again lay flat to dry
  7. Avoid the dryer as much as possible. The extreme heat is hard on even the sturdiest fabric, breaking it down more and making it prone to tears, pills, etc. Not to mention you'll save on your energy bill by air drying.
  8. Wash your items inside out to avoid snags
  9. Wash like items together, similar colours, even similar fabrics, avoid mixing towels with delicates, for example
  10. Fold heavy knits so that they don't sag with their own weight
  11. Hang silk blouses and dresses on soft hangers
  12. Research the right stain removing techniques before you attack your items

Great resources for clothing care:

Packing for a two-day, winter trip

Packing for a two-day, winter trip

The best way to test drive a capsule wardrobe (read more on what, exactly, a capsule wardrobe is here) is to go on a trip and challenge yourself to pack light. I used to be a fan of the bring-as-many-items-as-you-can-fit-into-your-bag-even-if-you-won't-wear-half-of-it approach to packing, but experience, the cost of checking luggage, and my interest in shrinking my wardrobe has taught me otherwise. Find inspiration and a step-by-step guide on how to freshen up your wardrobe for spring with my sustainable fashion, blogger babe friend Jess of Rose & Fig. 

The two-day trip
I often go on one and two-day trips for work, and I thought it was time I do a packing post for winter to share with you what I wore and report back whether I had too much, just enough, or not enough.

Winter packing
Winter packing for a carry-on, when winter actually means snow and below zero Celsius temperatures, can be a challenge. A parka alone is enough to fill some carry ons, but here's how I managed to travel to Quebec City, in January, when it was below 20 Celsius, and not bring more than a carry-on. Yup, two pairs of shoes included.

Step 1: Plan out your trip
This was a quick one:

  • Evening flight (one outfit);
  • Quick dinner in the hotel (same as flight outfit);
  • Bed;
  • Day event (one outfit);
  • Straight to the airport (same as day outfit).

No need for a touring outfit, workout gear or a second work outfit. Simple!

Step 2: Plan out your outfits
The easiest way to pack as few pieces as possible while having exactly what you need for your outfits, is to take your time and consider your options. I had two different outfits in mind to wear during the day-time work event. I tried both on, and settled on the one that was the most comfortable (I'd have to be in it for 12 hours after all), required the least maintenance in terms of cleaning and ironing, was made up of pieces that I could wear for dinner and on the flight back, all the while still looking professional.

I settled on jeans and a sweater for the flights and a day outfit of black dress pants, worn with a black, turtleneck shirt and a taupe vest over top, accessorized with a colourful scarf. I could wear the turtleneck at dinner when I landed, I wouldn't have to wear a bra with it because of the vest overtop (bonus points), and all black guaranteed I'd look sharp.

  • Flight outfit: jeans; green sweater; brown, leather booties;
  • Evening outfit: jeans; black turtleneck shirt; brown, leather booties;
  • PJs;
  • Day of event outfit: black dress pants; black turtleneck shirt; taupe vest; suede boots;
  • Flight back outfit: same as above;
  • Four pairs of underwear so that I can wear one on the flight, change pairs for dinner, have one for the day of event and then a fresh pair for the flight;
  • One bra;
  • Three pairs of socks;
  • A scarf for day outfit;
  • Coat;
  • Wool scarf;
  • Hat;
  • Gloves;
  • Laptop bag;
  • Carry-on bag;
  • Toiletries.

Step 2: Try things on
It's best to try your outfits on before packing them away. This way, you'll avoid arriving at your destination and realizing that your outfit doesn't work well.

Step 3: Pack your carry on

  • I use the KonMari method of packing. Put your shoes in a bag and place them flat on the bottom of your bag or in a side pocket, if you have one.
  • Put your bulky pieces at either end of your bag
  • Fold all of your items neatly and stack them vertically, side by side (not one on top of the other) in between the bulky ends.
  • If you can't fit a sweater, wear it on the flight there and back to make sure you have room for your toiletry bag.

Step 4: Pack your purse
I bring my Matt & Nat laptop bag and pack the following items in it: 

  • Passport;
  • Wallet;
  • Phone and charger;
  • Laptop and charger;
  • Agenda;
  • Pen;
  • Business cards;
  • Ticket and hotel information;
  • Lip balm;
  • Hand cream.

So how did I do?

Splendid! My only complaint is that my brown, leather booties hurt my feet after a while. I should've taken my Blundstones for the flight and dinner that evening, and then just my suede boots for the second day.

My flight outfit was comfortable and I didn't have any metal that set off the detectors. I spruced it up for dinner with my black turtleneck, and the next day outfit was great. I was comfortable, which in turn made me feel confident and able to focus on the task at hand. Success.

How about you, what have been your winning one-day trip packing lists?