Winter Capsule Wardrobe: The Big Reveal

It hardly feels like it, but I'm just over three weeks into the official Winter Capsule Wardrobe Challenge.   Below are some early takeaways and my complete Winter Wardrobe!

Having a capsule wardrobe is:  Liberating, creative, and pleasurable.    

Benefits:  There is something so fulfilling about wearing every single item in my closet, and not because of the challenge, but because I genuinely love each piece.  The biggest surprise to me is how creative I've become with my clothing.  I'm conscious of trying each of my 37 items out and combining them in unique and creative ways.

What was hard:  It was strange to need to prepare for a start date.  It's kind of like how before you get in the car for a road trip and you pee 3 times beforehand, but as soon as you sit down you panic that you maybe need to go again?  In this first go round I struggled with feeling confident that I have everything that I needed to last me until April.  

22 days in, I can tell you that without a doubt I do.  I've had the full spectrum of experiences, aka: been hiking for 4 days, hosted a cocktail party, worked with a half dozen clients, had a cold, been on date night with my husband.  So far I've literally needed nothing.  

What I focused on: Layers.  Winters in SF are temperate (mid to low 60s during the day, low 50s at night).  But the sun/wind/rain/fog can make it feel like summer some days and a Pacific Northwest winter others.  Just switching the sunny side of the street to the shade can require 2-3 additional layers.  

Layering pieces: lightweight sweaters, 3/4 sleeves, tees and tanks.

The Details:

Tops: I started with a few great basics for bottom layers: grey and blue tanks, grey and white tees, grey and white longsleeves and a few sweaters.  I know this makes my wardrobe sound heinously boring, but the variance in texture, shape and material provides a lot of depth.   I then added in a few nice silk tanks and tops, as well as patterned and collared long sleeves.  Capped it off with a couple of easy sweaters and a pair of blazers.  

Bottoms: For pants I went super basic, sticking with a core of dark garments: stretchy high waisted jeans, classic denim skinny jeans, black skinny jeans.  Something I learned recently in my work is that medium to high-wasted pants are key.  I spend my days bending, lifting, grabbing things under couches and on top of shelves.  The last thing I want to worry about is exposed underwear (!) or lower back.

Dresses: A knit sleeved dress for cozy days, a black sheath dress with an exposed gold zipper up the back for cocktails and when I'm feelin' fancy, a blue silk belted dress that can go from work to party.  

My three winter dresses.

Shoes: My basics include

  • black leather booties;
  • cowboy boots, these might be duplicative, but I cannot imagine a day when I will let go of my 10 year old, perfectly broken in, 4x resouled Tony Lamas;
  • suede booties, fun for in cocktail and slightly nicer day-to-day;
  • gold flats, can be worn to work or with a dress;
  • TOMS, are great day-to-day and post weekend hikes; 
  • Converse high-tops -- my go to everyday shoes.  They're grey (oh my god, I'm starting to freak myself out with this grey thing) with black leather accents.  And while I'm not the type who thinks that therefore makes them fancy, I do think it makes them a serious upgrade from normal sneakers;

Fancy shoes have historically been challenging for me, because: 1) I'm already quite tall and 2) I hate anything which might impede my ability to dance my face off.   But Cam recently told me he thinks high heels (worn on rare occasions) are sexy.  Hello, information that would have been useful 7 years ago!  And I've learned from several clients how investment shoes really can make a massive difference in levels of comfort.  So now I got myself a baller pair of Manolos (ebay) that make me feel amazing even in my normal black sheath dress.

Jackets: I have a range of key jackets to work with the large weather swings we experience in SF.  Leather, patterned (awesome for on top of all that grey:), green winter coat, olive drab light weight coat.

Jackets to take me through San Francisco's varying winter weather.

Jackets to take me through San Francisco's varying winter weather.

Non-Counted Items

Scarves:  Though they're not a part of my core 37, I did limit myself to 3 scarves.  An oversized deep-red patterned scarf, a navy basic in a quality silk, and a grey knit infinity.  The three range from dressy to cozy to bohemian, which I love and suits my various wardrobe needs.

Jewelry: I also paired down my permanent jewelry even further even further.  Key has been the addition of a Madewell gold bib necklace and Whitley Paige necklace.  Plus my Bittersweet mala-style necklace (an old Christmas gift from my mother-in-law).  Again, these three can be worn over cocktail dresses, over a t-shirt and jeans, over my yoga clothes all to help me feel instantly pulled together but also very me.

Added to this are my wedding rings (which I love more than anything) that I wear separately or together depending on my mood (or how swollen my fingers are:).  Plus a few bangles/statement bracelets.  And, my very favorite new addition in the world, my gorgeous Circle + Hide watch.  It is a conversation starter for sure, something I get compliments on whether I'm wearing it with a dress or to a yoga class.  Interchangeable bands help me dress it up, but my day-to-day leather band feels perfect for me, relaxed but elegant, full of personality but also timeless.

Bags: To close everything out I have my work bag (Mijlo backpack), my small crossbody Coach purse, and my daily black Foley & Corinna purse.

Other clothing:  In doing this challenge of my day-to-day clothing, I've also seriously reduced my workout and lounge wear.  Now that I have clothes I love, I tend to stay dressed in real clothing even at home, even on weekends, even early in the morning.  And I actually really like it.  A few items of clothing that I've loved but in the process I realized are past their prime I now use as yoga cover ups and hiking layers.  I love this because I don't feel like an overly spandexed out lady in my casual life and I can run to a meeting or even a client in my workout gear but looking really put together (see statement necklace, gold flats, sweaters).

The best part?  

Knowing that I'm not going shopping for the next several months.  This gives me a break in my budget (much needed after the holidays/ in prep for wedding season) but perhaps more importantly, it gives me a mental break.  I don't have to worry about sales, I can unsubscribe from all retailer emails, I don't need to consider the windows of the stores I pass by.  Though I haven't been a big shopper for years, this mental pause of knowing I'm not shopping. at. all. It's really spacious.

What about you?  What has been the biggest benefit?  What scared you the most going into this challenge?  Have you found yourself tempted to shop or to swap out items?  Please share below!