The greatest wealth is to live content with little.
I currently have about 20 items in my summer, stay at home, capsule wardrobe.
2 jeans, 2 shorts, 2 tank tops, 2 pairs of shoes, 10 tops, and 1 dress – the dress is not pictured because I did not want to take these photos in the nude (although if that is your thing, more power to you.) Check out my Instagram for styled outfits, and the dress.
I’m often asked, “Is that really all you wear? What about when you play with Miles? Don’t you get bored? ARE YOU SURE THAT’S IT!?”
Yes, this is it. I average about 25 items each season in my capsules. One thing that makes my number so low is that I do not need to dress “fancy” for work. I have a small conference capsule wardrobe that is obviously tucked away for now.
And yes, I wear these items to play with Miles. I don’t mind the occasional grass stain, or paint mark. They are all removed easily enough.
For March and the beginning of April, I did not have a capsule. Like many others. I was surviving. Trying to find my way in this new world. Dressing in leggings and pajamas and never “getting ready” for the day. It was rare that I would even brush my teeth before noon.
I do not regret living this way for a while. I was doing my very best. Trying to figure out how to work full time and be a single mama. I cried a lot and I worried. I wondered how long I could go on this tired and lonely, unable to see my family and friends, the people that give so much meaning to my life. How long could I take care of this little one alone, without my village there to help me?
And then, a shift. A phone call from one of the wisest and most powerful women in my life, a woman who showed me that I could be kind and set boundaries. I can be gentle and strong. That yes, most people are doing their very best, but not everyone in this world has good intentions.
She reminded me that I am full of light. That I have come through worse than this. That the people I was letting take parts of me did not hold them well. She noticed that I had forgotten myself for a little while, and she helped me remember.
People do that for me over and over. Listen and love and remind me of who I am, remind me that I know myself better than anyone. My sister, my friends, my auntie, my mentors, myself. Keep close the people that really see you.
I’ve started getting ready each day, with the beautiful items in my summer capsule, because it helps me remember who I am. Clothes have that power, you know? They hold the power to uplift you, to impact your thoughts and your mood. All the things around you do. Your home, your clothes, your words.
When I have a small, curated number of items to choose from, I lessen the decision fatigue. I add simplicity and quality.
In the morning, I cleanse my face, do my hair, moisturize, brush my teeth, and step into my chosen items for the day. Instantly I feel more capable and ready to do this life.
“You don’t have to solve your whole life overnight. And you don’t have to feel ashamed for being where you are. All you have to focus on is one small thing you can do today to get closer to where you want to be. Slowly and lightly, one step at a time. You can get there.” Daniell Koepke
Bonnie Rae xx
If you want to plan your own capsule, these might help:
“I am out with lanterns, looking for myself.” Emily Dickinson
This past year I did something I am not proud to admit- I bought numerous items from fast fashion brands like Target, TJ Maxx, and Old Navy only to turn around and donate them a few weeks later.
I was feeling unsure about body changes after becoming a mama, a bold new hairstyle, unearthing child hood traumas, and leaving an unfulfilling job for a new, more challenging one. Often when we don’t feel quite ourselves, when we’re feeling low or unsure, that’s when we’re most susceptible to marketing, trends, and consumerism. There is an entire collective of brands and companies hoping you won’t feel good enough so they can convince you that what you’re missing is the thing they are selling.
When we’re at our best, confident and fulfilled, we don’t seek external happiness- we’ve already got it.
During 2018 I took a journey of self discovery and healing- I came out stronger, wiser and happier as a result. At the tail end of this year and this journey, a good friend recommended the book A Life Less Throwawayby Tara Button. I downloaded the audio book (because I’m a working mama and this is my current preferred way to digest new information) and I devoured it.
The book explores how our culture has lost the art of buying items for life. The world is trying to convince us to spend our way to happiness- instead we’re more cluttered, unfulfilled and stressed than ever and so is our planet. Tara Button founded a company called BuyMeOnce and through her book teaches how we can champion long lasting, sustainable products while simultaneously healing our hearts and lives.
A Life Less Throwaway is the most life changing book I’ve read since The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (the book that jump started my minimalism and helped me heal after losing my dad in 2015). If you read one book this year, let it be A Life Less Throwaway.
In one portion of this book the author explores wardrobes and finding your true style. If you have a defined style, totally authentic to who you are, it will be impossible for brands to sell you something you don’t want. When you know yourself and your lifestyle well you know what belongs in your life, and what doesn’t.
I’ve had some version of a capsule wardrobe for nearly four years now but I’d never taken the time to define my authentic, timeless style. I’ll admit that I’ve spent 2018 getting to know myself so this was very much the right time to rediscover who I am at my core and how I want my clothing to reflect this. The universe sent this message of buying for life at just the right time.
I started with a Pinterest board. I deleted all of my previous “style” posts and boards and began fresh, blank, and new. I have always gravitated toward Audrey Hepburn and Parisian style. I was the first person in my high school to ever wear skinny jeans (humble brag) and I’ve wanted a short, Parisian pixie cut for as long as I can remember. As a little girl I loved Madeline, Matilda and Emily Dickinson (who was thought to only wear white)- I aspired to be classic and natural.
Throughout my youth the world told me to be different from who I truly wanted to be. It told me to have long hair and to look sexy. To wear Hollister and makeup and to be “desirable”. The world was wrong, is wrong. I know that now. It took me 27 years to come back to who I have always been. To rediscover the little girl that loved Audrey and Matilda and Emily.
Here you will see the style that I felt in my bones. An outward representation of who I am on the inside. After defining this for myself, I followed the KonMari method and took all of my clothing items out and put them in a pile. I touched each one and asked if it sparked joy, if it fit my true, authentic self I felt joy- if not I thanked it for teaching me something and let it go.
There were a few items over the next few weeks that I found didn’t quite fit so I let them go too. When all was said and done I was left with a less than twenty item winter capsule with about ten items in storage- and I’ve never felt more alive or more sure. Gone is the decision fatigue or the uncomfortable nature of wearing clothes that felt like a costume. In my current wardrobe, I have left what suits me, no one else- just me and my life.
My current winter wardrobe consists of: 4 long sleeve shirts, 2 sweaters, 1 t-shirt, 1 jean jacket, 1 winter coat, 2 pairs of blue jeans, 1 high waisted black pant, 1 cropped black jean with rips, 1 pair of “BuyMeOnce” boots, 1 pair of loafers, 1 pair of sneakers, 1 purse, 1 pair of Pixel eyewear, 1 necklace and 3 pairs of earrings.
Outside this capsule I have ten warmer weather items stored, a five item “professional” wardrobe for conferences, hiking boots, a ten item lounge capsule for relaxing and sleeping, one rain coat, and one warm coat for hiking and camping. That’s it, the only wearable items I own in this world- and I’ve never been happier.
In the future, as some of my current items wear out, I hope to replace them with similar style items that will last a lifetime- using the BuyMeOnce website as a guide.
If you’ve always wanted to start a capsule, find your style, or if you’re simply tired of consumerism and what it is doing to our world (and if you’re reading this blog I imagine you are) consider sitting down and rediscovering you.
“The world doesn’t have to like what you do. You have to like what you do.” Tara Button
“As soon as I saw you, I knew a grand adventure was about to happen.” Pooh
I have received some very sweet comments from you all about Miles’ wardrobe. My sweet little chicken is 6 months now, growing every day and looking chunky and cute! I often post about my capsule wardrobe, and how I curate my closet. Today? I want to share how I shop and plan for Miles.
What I look for:
Weight not size, Miles is a bit chunky for his age so I always look at a brand’s size chart for weight recommendations rather than going by months. Every brand is a bit different in size, for example Burt’s Bees baby runs big while other baby onesies are true to size- regardless check the sizing chart!
Material, if I can find and afford organic cotton items for baby I will! Lamaze organics and Burt’s Bees are some of our favorite organic lines. If it’s not organic I just make sure it’s 100% cotton!
Comfort & ease, if the item is not comfortable Miles won’t wear it- simple as that. Look for one piece items, like rompers and sleep suits, rather than two piece outfits- unless the outfit includes a onesie!
Style, I look for neutral colors, prints and patterns rather than characters, and pieces to mix and match not “sets.” The key to any simple wardrobe are pieces you can mix and match! All of Miles clothes are similar in material and pattern so they can all be worn together in different ways.
Where I shop:
Secondhand, babies grow so quickly! The more you can find second hand the better. Goodwill always has an infant bin where you can find onesies for 50 cents each. It takes a little more time to search but I have found some amazing pieces while thrifting, including Burt’s Bees items- like new!
Independent baby onesie shops, online shops can be so helpful, especially when you’re short on time! We recently quit amazon and we appreciate small, independent onesie shops. Especially when looking for something specific, like the cute matching mama and baby items pictured above.
Burt’s Bees Baby,Burt’s baby items are all 100% organic cotton. Better for the earth, the people growing and making the cotton and better for your baby. When you can afford it shop organic! I always check the sale items, remember to check size chart’s as well. We find Burt’s Bees Baby run a bit bigger and fit Miles longer- definitely worth the money.
How I organize:
I organize Miles’ clothing by size, season and outfit. Items hanging in his closet are for future use as he grows and the seasons change. For the items he is currently wearing I organize them in a shoe rack on the back of his closet door. I mix his items to make little outfits and just grab one each morning, pop it on and he’s ready to go! This type of organization is great for poo explosions and messes as well. No need to grab items out of a drawer. They’re all at eye level and already put together in outfit form.
With items Miles has outgrown I do one of two things, donate to an expecting mama or thrift store or I put away special items in our future baby bin (words I never ever thought I would write!) I don’t hold on to too much because we wouldn’t be expecting another little chicken for a long while, but there are certain items I’m happy to hold onto.
Recently, I asked on my Instagram if readers would like to see my current capsule and everyone said yes! So here it is.
In the past I had much more time to dedicate to perfecting my capsules. I also didn’t have a nanny and baby to pay for, and so I’m shifting to a capsule starter kit. A concept originally created by the wonderful Caroline on her blog Un-fancy.
What is it? A capsule starter kit is pulling 10-15 pieces of your wardrobe together while answering the following questions.
1. What is the weather like where I live this Spring?
HOT. It’s hot and humid here in Virginia, plenty of rain and plenty of heat. But you know where there’s no heat? My office building. They blast the air conditioner as soon as the sun makes an appearance so I am dressing for VA weather and for my office.
2. What is my lifestyle like right now? Where do I spend most of my time?
I’m a mama! A mama to an adorable, nursing, drooling 5 month old. I don’t see a ton of crisp white, easily stained,” hand-wash only” items in my future. I see lots of button ups that allow for nursing and pumping and clothing both professional for work AND comfortable for cuddling my little one.
3. What colors am I into right now? What colors do I already have that might work for spring?
4. How can comfort and function fit into this wardrobe? (or any of your non-negotiables when it comes to clothing)
Even with the best intentions I know I will not wear something if it is not comfortable. No matter how many times I add a dress or skirt to my wardrobe I rarely wear them. I put comfort above all else!
Now, stand in front of your closet and pull 10-15 pieces with these questions in mind.