While I am quite analytical—about topics other than myself, even!—I am a not a particularly organized or forward-thinking person. In fact an impartial observer might very accurately say Vix : Planning :: Earth : Pluto.
But this summer I started thinking that in addition to exercise and Vitamin D supplements and full-spectrum desk lamps and yellow walls and chocolate, I should use my clothing to help combat my seasonal affective disorder.* I figured it wouldn’t take much to move me away from my Fall/Winter fallbacks—aging wool separates and ho-hum knits in black, brown, and grey—toward more chipper horizons. This was before I actually took more than a vague LOOK at my wardrobe’s innards, though, and realized I had a black (naturally) belt in self-deception.
I had to get busy if I wanted to get my closet in shape for the rain and cold.
Unfortunately, despite reading many a clothing-heavy Edith Wharton novel, I wasn’t really sure what “get busy” looked like. Now apparently some home sewers say, “Hmmmm, there’s a new season on the horizon; I think I’ll make sure any/all new items work with each other. Then I won’t have to rely upon item- or outfit-based shopping to perk up random grizzled items!”
But I think they’re the last women on the planet to do so.
[Well, other than my invisipal Heidi. So make that sewers, Heidi, and possibly some ultra-rich women who buy only couture. Though for all I know even wealthy, couture-buying women have a bunch of pieces that don't work with anything else, making them EXACTLY LIKE MERE MORTALS.]
Me, I just knew I had to force myself into technicolor’d textiles while keeping various limitations in mind:
- a certain amount I could justify spending
- a workplace need to dial down my clothing’s formality
- a relatively new understanding that despite bitching about the drawbacks of a small, aging wardrobe I preferred picking and choosing from fewer, spendier workhorses
When I’d run out of money, I found that I’d ended up with a little stand-alone capsule. Fancy that!
Of course I wasn’t totally clueless: when I was ordering individual pieces…all color-colors, YES…I knew every item would work with a ton of stuff I owned. I just didn’t cotton to the fact all (3) tops would work with all (2) bottoms until everything trickled in and I was contrasting and comparing.
I mean maybe my subconscious was helping me out, but frankly I don’t think my subconscious is that smart.
In fact, considering that 4 of the 5 pieces came from local shops and I amassed them on the Item-a-Month plan, I’m thinking there might be a tiny corner of the universe that likes to play paper dolls:
Especially as I’m fortunate enough to live in a place full of thrift, consignment, and vintage shops. And to be a sporadic-but-loyal customer of two stores with owner/designers who are happy to talk about their upcoming wares, passionate about showing off their bolts of beautiful fabric, and willing to customize or custom-make designs.
[All at price points in line with standard mall stores like Gap/Banana Republic, Ann Taylor Loft/Ann Taylor, and J Crew. AKA a bit of a stretch for me and many, but we're not talking insanely expensive.]
The only downside of this approach is the non-instant gratification. And yes, the PLANNING. It can all feel a bit chaste and bloodless. But I love the outcome. Plus mix-and-match capsules are kind of like a litter of puppies, or something:
So I’m leaning that way. I mean more vs less strategy certainly can’t hurt MY closet’s life—or my ability to get dressed and out the door for work or play in under 10 minutes. After all, as the much more practical and goal-oriented Ms Fizz said after we got done with her massive wardrobe overhaul:
Unless you are really out there studying stores, fabrics, and fit as well as making relationships with the right shops and vendors, you’ll still find yourself foraging for whatever you can find in a pinch.
The whole PLAN TO FAIL approach leads to much more work and stress, just like in any aspect of life. Yet I never thought that such a concept applied to dressing well. It never occured to me to plan out a wardrobe, ensure I had specific pieces, and make outfits in advance. I guess I never went to ‘girl camp.’”
Make room on that bench, Fizz, because I have a feeling we might have company.
* For more on dressing to combat the winter doldrums, visit AlreadyPretty for Sal’s how-tos about using color, shine, texture, sound and scent to boost your mood. Just don’t stand next to my allergic ass if you ladle on the latter.
Filed under: appearance, capsule wardrobe, color, starring select friends + invisipals, style over 40 Tagged: | buying local, closet analysis, color, made-to-measure/alterations, Missoni fabric by the yard, self-indulgent, starring: Ms Fizz, texture/pattern, wardrobe management