What’s in My Summer 2018 Capsule?

I’m so excited to be bringing you the walk-through of supplementary Summer Capsule for 2018 today! If you’re not already familiar with my blog, then have a look here, where I explain about my all-year-round Core Capsule, and how the system I use works. I have been looking forward to this post on my Summer Capsule since it finally stopped snowing… in April! If you missed my first Summer Capsule post you might want to have a read of that first – in that post I’m talking about my inspiration for this season’s capsule, as well as taking a look at some of the items on my wish-list. As well as being excited about putting together a new capsule, I also did want to take time and make sure that what I’m including this time around, won’t leave me making the same mistakes as I did with my Spring Capsule – which I discussed a bit in my Spring Capsule Recap post, here.
I feel like in some ways, this Summer capsule is a little all over the place. Despite all my frantic Pinterest-ing, in the end, there’s not much of a coherent theme running through my capsule, unless we could say that theme is “clothes that are only able to be worn in Scotland on the hottest days of the year”, because basically, that’s what it comes down to if I’m honest! Because we don’t get an awful lot of warm weather here in Scotland, I don’t really have any “hot” weather clothes in my Core Capsule. I have winter coats in there because they’re needed about 9 months of the year, and I have multiple pairs of boots because… well, ditto, but I don’t have any sandals or camisoles because they would literally sit and gather dust for more than 300 days of the year.
So when I really started to look through the items I owned for this season, there were so many that I realised I really loved and frankly, that if I didn’t wear them now, I wouldn’t be wearing them at all for the rest of the year! Sure, when you look at all my Summer pieces together now, it maybe seems scattered or chaotic, but realistically, I’m not trying to make full outfits with these pieces, instead, I want to use them to spice up my Core Capsule items – more so than ever in Summer. And so, in that respect it doesn’t really matter that the Summer bits and pieces don’t really work together. So this capsule is almost like my very own “greatest hits” of Summer style – many of these pieces have been with me for quite some time, pulling them out now feels like being reunited with old friends.
my pair of leopard print converse

1. leopard print Converse

Bought from: thrifted
Original cost: £7
Why I’m including them: Kenny and I live in the city and so we walk, a lot, especially in the Summer months with the long, warm evenings. I have one pair of Converse already in my Core Capsule, and ordinarily I alternate between those and my Dr Martens for walking, but in the warmth of Summer I find my Dr Martens a little too toasty to march around for miles in, and so I thought it might be nice to add another “walking shoe” option into this capsule. Additionally, I feel like I wear more blue/grey denim in Summer (as opposed to black) and I love the way these shoes look with paler washed denim.

khaki faux-suede sandals

 

2. khaki sandals

Bought from: fast fashion
Original cost: £11
Why I’m including them: While clearly these sandals don’t fit in with the “we walk so much” concept of Summer, I do think these will be so nice to have for other, more sedentry days in the sun. I love that these have a small heel, so the make my legs look a little longer, and that they’re not black, but are still a very wearable, neutral colour.

tie-dye fabric trousers


  

3.  wrap-around trousers

Bought from: no idea, they were passed on to me through family, maybe 3rd hand?
Original cost: unknown
Why I’m including them: Because how could I not? These are such a unique piece – especially for me with my largely monochrome wardrobe! I love the unique shape and print of these, and bonus: they’re also absurdly comfortable. For very warm days they can easily be worn alone, but I can also layer black leggings underneath for cooler days and they don’t show and ruin the aesthetic. Only possible issue I see is with trying to use public bathrooms on days I’m wearing them… yeah that might be more than a little awkward to manoveur.

neutral coloured waterfall cardigan with tassell details

 

4. waterfall cardigan


Bought from: thrifted
Original cost: £4.00
Why I’m including it: While I’ve talked a lot about warm Summer days in this post, the reality is that here in Scotland, there is often still a bit of a cool wind, even on otherwise toasty days. I really like this piece because the thick knit makes it surprisngly wind-proof, but the colour scheme and cut of the item makes it feel a lot less “bundled up” and less like a true jacket.

second-hand denim jacket

 

5. denim jacket

Bought from: no idea, this was my mum’s for well over a decade, and before that it belonged to a friend of hers.
Original cost: unknown
Why I’m including it: For me, a denim jacket just seems like a Hallmark of Summer style – again, as mentioned above, we do still need jackets in Summer here. Darn it. I see this quite thick and heavy denim jacket being worn with lighter fabrics, or maybe feminine cut dresses to create some contrast between styles and materials… whilst also keeping me warm!

vintage red fabric dress

 

6. long red dress

Bought from:  thrifted
Original cost: £1.00
Why I’m including it: I wore this dress to a birthday lunch earlier this month and I just loved wearing it! I’m actually not convinced that the length of it on me is super flattering, but it’s just one of those pieces that I feel really great in and look forward to wearing. It has almost a slightly 70’s vibe to it, which isn’t something I’m usually drawn to, but for some reason this dress just feels so “me”. It’s a flexible piece too: on hot days, I can wear it as is, but on cooler days I can also put black leggings underneath and wear it with my leather jacket (from my Core Capsule) for a tougher look.

black skirt with pom-pom detailing and white embroidery

 

7. black pom-pom skirt

Bought from:  old piece that’s fast fashion
Original cost: £8.00
Why I’m including it: This year I’m trying to feel more comfortable in my own skin, and for me, a way I’d like to work on that is to go outside with bare legs sometimes. I’ve never liked the way my legs look, and I think as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten more self conscious about it, but now, having braved the outside world with bare legs once, I’ve realised how pleasant it can be on a hot day, and how nice a way it can be to make even a black skirt like this, seem more Summer appropriate. I included this particular skirt because a) I love it, and b) because it’s easy for me to wear in other respects; as in, it goes with a lot and it doesn’t flap about in a breeze, meaning I’m not adding further stress to the already nervy experience of walking about with my ultra-pale legs on show.

black floral-print wrap blouse

 

8. black wrap-around floral-print blouse

Bought from:  passed on to me from a family member
Original cost: unknown
Why I’m including it:  I only have a couple of tees in my Core Capsule, which I still maintain is the right number for me, but I am already noticing with this current run of nice weather, that I’m definitely getting through them and almost waiting for them to come out the wash. I wanted to add in a couple more t-shirts or short sleeved blouses to help with this situation and I chose this one because I like that it’s still primarily “black”, meaning it fits in well to my existing capsule, and also because I love this top worn with my leather jacket and a bold, red lipstick – I feel so classic in that outfit somehow.

cream, lace blouse

 

9. cream, lace blouse

Bought from:  thrifted
Original cost: £4.00
Why I’m including it: Following on from what I said above; this is another top designed to aleviate my current lack-of-t-shirt situation. One thing I like about this top, is that worn with blue denim and ballet flats it can look really soft and classic, but it can also be mixed with “tougher” pieces to create a more edgy aesthetic; which is one of my all time favourite things to do with style.

black, floral-printed camisole

10. black floral-print camisole

Bought from:  very old fast fashion piece
Original cost: £5.00
Why I’m including it: Last but not least, we have one final, Summer-y top. This is in fact the only camisole-style top I own, which is probably a reasonable indication of how often they’re “needed” in this climate! Still, I think this, layered under a blazer will look so Summer-ready, but still allow for either layering over the top, or tucking into something to help me not freeze as I walk along the river. 

Phew, that ended up being a wordy post! I’ll keep it brief here as I know this might have been a marathon to get through! I’m very excited to be kicking of my second season using a Capsule Wardrobe system – I discussed my thoughts on using a Capsule system so far, on Friday – and I can’t wait to see what outfits I can put together with the addition of these pieces. I will of course be sharing some of said outfits with you either here on the blog, or over on Instagram – so stay tuned to see those! And let me know if you have any styling ideas or requests!


Do you use a capsule wardrobe system? Are you prepping your Summer capsule? Do you have any looks you’re excited to wear this Summer? Or do you go for more classic, Summer looks?
  

  

5 Thoughts on my Capsule Wardrobe After 3 Months

Sitting here in late May, it seems crazy to me that already Spring is almost over – as well as my first season of using my current capsule system! For anyone who’s not already familiar, I’m using a system I heard about from Signe on Youtube; I have a core capsule that I use year round (you can read about what’s in that, here), and then I have a supplementary seasonal capsule of about 10 pieces that I rotate out every 3 months. Here is what was in my Spring Capsule, and here is my recap post where I talk specifically, item by item about what pieces in there worked for me and what didn’t.

In this post I want to take more of a step back than I did in my Spring Capsule Recap, and look at how I found the system worked for me as a whole, rather than analysing the nitty-gritty of individual items (although, you know me and data – I’m not saying I won’t go there… just not as much!).

snow scene taken in a park. Snow covered ground, trees and a bridge.
This photo was taken in March…

 

1. I do not have a crystal ball


We started March with more than a foot of snow on the ground here in Glasgow, and on the Bank Holiday weekend in May we had what might well turn out to be the hottest days of the year. Both of these things are a-typical for a Glasgow Spring – we would have been far more likely to have 10c and rain for 3 months! Because weather isn’t predictable it means that I don’t ever want to feel too locked in to my capsule wardrobe. Sure, it’s good to have pieces that can be layered to give as much flexibility as possible, but at the same time, I want to be comfortable and dressed appropriately – so for me this season, that meant wearing my Timberland boots the whole time it was snowy ( I normally only EVER wear them when we’re hill walking), and grabbing an out-of-capsule dress to wear to my mum’s birthday lunch in May because it was the nicest, sunniest day and I would be darned if I was going to miss a rare chance to wear one of my favourite Summer dresses!

2. I still much prefer to plan my outfits the night before 

I know that for a lot of people, the draw of using a smaller amount of clothing that works together is the increased ease and speed of choosing an outfit. I definitely do find it a lot more enjoyable to put together an outfit now, but because I’m such a “just in case” person, if I leave my outfit choosing until the morning and haven’t checked what I have clean or what the weather forecast is, I know I’ll just end up wearing my rain coat “just in case” it rains, or a big jumper “just in case” it’s cold – thus robbing myself of the opportunity to wear a lot of more fun outfits on what turn out to be warmish, sunny days! Maybe as time goes on and I become increasingly familiar with the contents of my capsule and various, favourite combinations I have then this will change for me, but for the forseeable future I definitely see myself taking 5-10 minutes of an evening just to sort myself out.

black boots and autumnal leaves
This photo was taken in April…

 

3. I feel so much more put together when I leave the house 

I touched on this a little in my Spring Capsule Recap; when I talked about a t-shirt that went unused, simply because I never found myself getting dressed in a panic and flinging on jeans and a t-shirt. Even though a lot of the outfits I did wear were still very simple, and perhaps, to anyone other than me, it would have been imperceptible that I was now using a capsule system and getting dressed in a very different way, I just felt so different in my own skin. I didn’t become oddly clothing-fixated and spend all day focusing on the merits of my outfit or anything, but something about the act of getting dressed intentionally just made me so much confident and … it’s hard to put into words… to sound a bit cheesy, I just felt like “my best me” most of the time, whereas in the past, that was a rare occurance in amongst all the days I left the house praying I wouldn’t bump into anyone I know. For this single reason, even if there was no other benefits, I would be in love with the capsule wardrobe system.

4. I’m okay with having a bigger capsule, for now at least

I definitely am way up on the bigger end of the capsule wardrobe spectrum – and I don’t include bags or accessories in mine either (I have a post coming up on why I took these out of my capsule, so stay tuned for that one). I have 40 items in my Core Capsule and 10 in my supplementary Seasonal Capsule – which is a lot altogether, really. For some people this will seem vastly excessive, while for others, like my past-self, this will seem small and restrictive. It’s all relative. Even now, with only one season’s data, I feel like I could comfortably cut out maybe 5 pieces from my Core Capsule – take it down to 35, but what’s the rush? My journey towards a capsule wardrobe, or indeed, towards a minimalist lifestyle in general, is a gradual one, and I’m comfortable with that. With letting things evolve organically and move at a pace that I’m comfortable with, with taking time to really see how I feel about things, rather than making impulse decisions; whether that’s bringing items in, or taking them out.

sunny day in Glasgow showing blue skies and intense sunshine
And this photo was taken in May!

 

5. I’m happy to take the time to iron, hand wash or mend my clothes

This is a big one – for a lazy gal like me at least! Prior to using a Capsule Wardrobe system, I was (shamefully) a get dressed from a pile of clothes on the floor, and if something smells funny, toss it in the direction of the laundry basket kind of a person… yeah, I know. Now having less to work with causes me to take the time to hang clothes up when they come out of the laundry – because odds are I will be wearing them in the next week or so, so I need to keep track of them. Having less to work with, allows me to really focus on constructing outfits and choosing my favourite pieces to be part of them – from bras to silk blouses, I’ve come to realise that it really is worth taking the time to hand wash them, if they make me feel great when I wear them. As for repairing clothes, well, I’ve taken up sewing lately (I know, I’m as surpised as you are, if you’d like to read about it, I have a post – here), and after a slightly epic repair on a pair of Kenny’s Levis, I’m feeling empowered at being able to extend the lives of my clothes, or to repurpose them when the time comes. I always thought mending and hand washing clothes would seem like such a hassle, but actually, it gives me a very strong sensation of liberation and of connection to the items I own and the choices I’m making in life.

So there you have it, my thoughts on using a capsule wardrobe system… so far! If you’ve ever used a capsule system I’d love to hear what you thought about it? What did you learn early on? Did you feel constrained or liberated by having less to work with?

Spring Capsule Recap (Piece By Piece)

I have a post coming up about my general thoughts on the capsule wardrobe system I’ve been using for the last 3 months, but in this post I want to break down the my supplementary Spring Capsule and take a look at the 10 pieces within it  – how practical were they? How much did I enjoy them? What do I wish I’d done differently/what will I do differently next year? Don’t forget I’m using this supplementary, seasonal capsule in conjunction with my all-year core capsule wardrobe, the contents of which you can see, here. I know that analysing clothing to this level isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but what can I say, I’m a sucker for data (must be the software developer part of my brain… or the Pokemon fanatic, hard to say), and for me, analysing both clothes and makeup like this has helped me realise so much about myself and my habits, and has really helped me break previous, destructive shopping habits.

 

1. leopard print jacket

Bought from: thrifted
Original cost: £5
Number of wears in this capsule: 0 
Why I included it: I included this piece for Spring thinking that it would be nice to have another, “lighter” jacket option for the Spring months – because in Scotland you still need a jacket almost every day in Spring, and I thought I might appreciate the variety after wearing my Winter jackets for months. I love this jacket (I have had it in black for years and years and was so excited to thrift the leopard print version last year), and so I was really excited to wear it – but I think this is a classic newbie error of not really thinking closely enough about how I would wear it.
What are my thoughts on it now: I sort of regret putting this piece in my Spring capsule because it was just never appropriate for me to wear it, but despite that it hasn’t changed my feelings for the piece overall. The reason it was never “suitable” to wear, was basically because it was way too cold for a jacket like this for March and a lot of April, and then when it did warm up enough to go out in this jacket, I didn’t find I actually wanted to wear it because really, I tend to pair it with an all black outfit, and that was pretty much the last thing I felt like putting on when Spring finally arrived this year! I think in an Autumn capsule it would do much better, because at that time of year when it starts to cool down, I can definitely see me wanting to rock black jeans and a black polo-neck, but it was definitely not a smart Spring pick!

 

2. blue pinstripe shirt 

Bought from: thrifted
Original cost: £3
Number of wears in this capsule: 6
Why I included it: This was one of the first pieces I knew I wanted to include into this capsule. I generally look very washed out and ill when I wear pastel shades, but this somehow works out for me – I think it must just be a bit deeper blue than a true “pastel” – and so it’s a great way for me to get those Spring-pastel vibes without looking like a corpse. Also, from a practical standpoint it doesn’t need ironed, it can be machine washed, I can wear it buttoned up with long sleeves, open with rolled up sleeves, under a sweater, or even tied in the front – so this high degree of ease of use and flexibility means I was pretty sure I would reach for it a lot, in many different situations and temperatures.
What are my thoughts on it now: I went into this season loving this shirt, and honestly, if anything I love it even more now! If I was ever to try and make a “true” year round capsule wardrobe this would 100% be included. I always felt put together and comfortable when I wore this, I felt like “me”, which is a little strange because it’s not a very “me” piece actually! It was just so versatile, there really wasn’t any occasion it wouldn’t have been appropriate for – the only reason it doesn’t have a lot more wears is just due to how freezing it was here in March and April! It’s not that I couldn’t have worn this shirt more, it’s just that I got into a bit of a grumpy-rut about the weather and was just all about the sweaters.

 

3. Ravenclaw t-shirt

Bought from: old piece, fast fashion
Original cost: £8
Number of wears in this capsule: 0
Why I included it: Prior to starting to use a capsule wardrobe system I often found myself running out the house in jeans and a t-shirt, and so, figuring this would continue, I thought it might be nice to include a cute t-shirt for Spring, to mix things up. Plus, I am a proud Ravenclaw!
What are my thoughts on it now: Well, as it turns out, now that I use a capsule wardrobe system and use a Spreadsheet to plan my outfits the night before, I don’t find myself in a mad flap in the morning, then running out the house in jeans and a t-shirt. Truthfully, I did intend to wear this with a blazer for kind of different, laid back look – but the weather just never seemed to line up for me with that sort of outfit this season. Whereas with the leopard jacket that I also didn’t wear, I knew I still loved it, despite the bad decision to include it in here, but this t-shirt I’m less sure of. Probably I’ll put it into storage and then give it one more shot at some point – it would be a pretty awesome t-shirt to use as longewear so there’s always that.

 

4. floral sweatshirt

Bought from: Christmas gift a couple of years ago
Original cost: unknown, but based on similar items from the company: £15
Number of wears in this capsule: 3
Why I included it: This is my third Spring season with this sweater, and in both the previous two Springs I have worn this non-stop! It’s such a fun way to start hinting at Spring with florals and pastels, even if you live in Scotland and it’s still snowing in “Spring”. This was another piece that I was so sure about in here, right from the start.
What are my thoughts on it now: I wore this a few times, but nowhere near as much as I thought I would. I think to certain extent it suffered the same fate as the Ravenclaw t-shirt: it used to be something easy I would grab in the morning when I was panicked and had “nothing to wear”, but now, because I am planning my outfits and so much more creative with them, I just didn’t seem to use this sort of “crutch” piece as much. Going to keep this one in storage until next Spring probably and then see how it goes.

 

5. thin, stone cardigan

Bought from: old piece, fast fashion
Original cost: £6
Number of wears in this capsule: 3
Why I included it: Have I mentioned that Spring in Scotland is usually still pretty cold? Oh what’s that? I have? 5000 times? Well, anyway, I thought it might be useful and fun to have a thinner layering piece in a nice earthy-tone, to break up all the blacks and greys I’d been wearing all winter.
What are my thoughts on it now: Again, I didn’t end up reaching for this piece as often as I thought I would, and I’m not totally sure why. Sitting here right now I have it in my head that it was a little short in the back for me…but I don’t actually know that that was the case, or just the sort of association I have with it now for some reason? Anyone else ever get that way? *update* So I tried on the cardigan and it’s not too short on me, but for some reason I just don’t feel that comfortable in it – I’ll give this another try or two and see how I feel, no point in keeping it if I never want to wear it, after all.

 

6. cream, cable-knit sweater

Bought from: thrifted
Original cost: £8
Number of wears in this capsule: 3
Why I included it: With more than foot of snow on the ground at the start of this capsule, this was definitely temperature appropriate, but being such a pale, almost off-white shade, meant it felt a lot lighter and brighter somehow than if it had been a black or a navy blue sweater.
What are my thoughts on it now: I love this jumper, I really do. It’s cosy comfy, but the cable-knit type detailing on it means that it doesn’t look totally shapeless and dull when I wear it, even when I have a coat layered over the top of it. I definitely think I’ll be bringing this one back out for my winter capsule.

 

7. fish-pattern t-shirt dress

Bought from: passed on to me by my sister (it’s fast fashion)
Original cost: £5
Number of wears in this capsule: 3
Why I included it: I was wearing this piece on repeat throughout February – when it was distinctly a dress on my. However as time, and the number of washes, went on, it is definitely now more of a sort of tunic-length top on me – something to be worn with leggings or tucked into something, rather than with tights. I included this piece just because I loved it, rather than for any serious, practical reasons.
What are my thoughts on it now:I do still love this piece but I definitely am drawn to wearing it less now that it’s not a dress for me. I’d like to put a bit of effort into figuring out good ways to style it for the future, and hopefully I can find something that brings the magic back for me a bit.

 

8. floral-print skater-style dress

Bought from: thrifted
Original cost: £3
Number of wears in this capsule: 3
Why I included it: This was something I’d been hunting for for quite some time, and I lucked out finding it in a charity shop just a couple of weeks before my Spring capsule kicked off. I love the sort of 90’s (I totally mean Buffy the Vampire Slayer here) sort of vibes that come from wearing a floral dress with black tights, chunky boots and an oversized cardigan! So that’s exactly why I included this.  I didn’t have any “formal” events to go to in Spring but I did have a couple of more casual meals out for birthdays and such, and I thought this would be nice as a piece I could dress up a little.
What are my thoughts on it now: I didn’t wear this dress as much as I thought it would – a couple of the dinners I’d planned to wear it to ended up falling during the freakishly warm spell when it was about 18c-20c so this wouldn’t have worked super well for me. I love this dress so much though and think I might actually pull it out again in Winter, so I have more opportunities to wear it with the sort of outfit I like.

9. pleather trousers

Bought from: thrifted
Original cost: £4
Number of wears in this capsule: 2
Why I included it: Similarly to the floral dress above, these trousers were sort of a “last minute” find for me in a charity shop, just before my Spring Capsule got started up. I included them, I think, mostly because they were new and exciting and I was really taken with them.
What are my thoughts on it now: While I really do like the trousers, I do sort of regret including them in this capsule. In Spring the two jackets I wore most were my raincoat and my faux-leather jacket – neither of which go with these trousers at all because the fabrics are too weirdly similiar – it just looks really odd. However these trousers look awesome with my black, Winter coat and a knitted sweater, so it’s possible I’d actually get a lot more wear out of these if I included them for winter rather than Spring. Lesson learned re: making impulsive inclusions based on what’s new to me right now.

 

10. black sweatshirt dress

Bought from: old piece, fast fashion
Original cost: £15
Number of wears in this capsule: 6
Why I included it: This actually wasn’t in my original edit for my Spring Capsule, but on March 1st we had more than a foot of snow lying on the ground so I had to make some changes! This was ideal because it’s basically just a massive sweater that I could wear a thermal top underneath as well as big, fluffly-lined leggings with it too. Not a glamorous piece really, but a lifesaver in cold weather, and because it’s all black (and I wear it with an all black outfit) I still feel quite like myself and not too frumpy.
What are my thoughts on it now: I think it definitely made sense to include it in my Spring capsule, and it’s a piece I’m really glad to own because I know I’ll reach for it again and again when the weather turns super-cold. On that note though, I’m not sure about whether or not I’ll include it in future capsules, or just keep it as a sort of “in case of emergency” piece to be reached for if temperatures plummit – seeing as how weather like that is actually pretty rare here.

Conclusion

So there we have it, a detailed walk through of all the pieces that were in my supplementary Spring capsule! I think it’s fairly clear from reading the post what pieces I wish I’d not included and why:

1. The leopard print jacket doesn’t scream Spring to me
2. The Ravenclaw t shirt just doesn’t fit my style so well right now
3. The pleather trousers because they really can’t be worn with my more “Spring appropraite” jackets.

But, knowing what I know now what would I include instead? What was missing? How would I think about things differently.

1. I think because it was so cold at the start of March, and had been for about 5 months at that point, I struggled to grasp that it would in fact warm up again at some point! In retrospect I didn’t need all the thicker pieces I had included.
2. Shoes was a category I ended up feeling a little confined by. Not in a huge, or problematic way, but if I was going back in time I think I would definitely look at adding in another pair: maybe another pair of trainers that could be worn with jeans/long trousers, but that would also look cute with a dress if the weather was to get warmer.
3. Black leggings. I currently only own one pair and they’ve seen better days to be honest, so I didn’t include them in my capsule, figuring I would just wear them around the house as lounge-wear, but actually I wore them out a lot with the shrinking-fish-dress I talked about above, as well as with some other, longer tops. So I think I definitely need to keep my eye out for a new (to me) pair in the charity shops!
4. While the leopard print jacket was a bit of a swing and a miss, I think my instinct to include a different jacket was right, just not that jacket. Including something like my army shirt would probably have been a better, more flexible option for me, as well as the fact it’s still pretty windproof and warm!

And that’s that! It’s definitely blowing my mind to think that that’s one whole season done (well, basically), where has the time gone? Stay tuned for more posts where I’ll be talking about my overall experience with using a capsule wardrobe system, as well as walk throughs of my Summer capsule. Can’t wait? Did you check out my post talking about what’s inspiring my Summer capsule this year?

 

Starting from Scratch: Learning to Sew

I worked in a craft studio for seven years and completed an honours degree in art, so, while I’m certainly not claiming to be any sort of expert – I think it’s fair to say that I’ve always been a relatively arts and crafty person, obtaining a relative level of proficiency in working with various media from acrylic paint to clay and silk to glass… but put me near anything “string-ish” and I’m hopeless. This includes sewing, embroidery, crochet, knitting and yes, even pom-pom making was beyond me. I’m not sure why, but I can cause a sewing machine to malfunction from 100 yards away. My mum is a fantastic knitter (is that the technical term?) and my maw-in-law (who was also the owner of the craft studio where I worked) is a dab hand at most things, but especially good at sewing (and baking, but that doesn’t seem relevant here), anyway, my point being that both of these skilled women invested significant time over the years trying to teach me “the way of the thread”… and they both gave up, and remain a little traumatised from the experiences.

close up shot of the foot of my sewing machine, with fabric in the background.

There are a lot of things in life that I’ve realised I’m not good at and have happily walked away from (mum told me I would regret giving up the violin when I was 10… STILL WAITING MUM), but sewing is not one of those things. Not only does it open up so many cool doors for me, a mixed media artist, but when you start tying it in with an interest in sustainable living – the idea of being able to repair and alter my clothes seems too good an opportunity to just give up on.

Fortunately for me, and somewhat by random chance, I found myself at the Kinning Park Complex (my local community centre) a few weeks ago, taking part in a patch-making workshop as part of Fashion Revolution Week – it was a spur of the moment decision and I’m so glad I jumped at the opportunity. I met the lovely ladies from Kinning Park Couture, who make amazing up-cycled jewellery from waste plastic materials, and also have incredible patience and enthusiasm for helping newbies like me get comfortable with a sewing machine. At the end of a couple of hours not only had I not somehow managed to burn the place down or kill someone just by my being in proximity to a sewing machine, but I had also made my very own activism patch, and learnt to thread a sewing machine, and to not scream audibly every time I put my foot on the pedal.

Well, after that I was hooked, I was back at Kinning Park Complex a few days later for Social Sunday, and Kinning Park Couture helped my fix up a pair of Kenny’s Levis jeans which he had managed to somehow entirely rip the crotch out of (?????). The satisfaction I got bringing those jeans home to him and knowing that I had salvaged them and saved all that fabric from being wasted, was so immense, so much greater than if I had gone into a store and just picked him up a new pair of jeans. And not only is it so “worth it”, I also find sewing incredibly therapeutic: time somehow flies by and I just sit absorbed, stitching away (then unpicking, then stitching again… I’m enthusiastic, not skilled).

close up of all the bits and pieces in my sewing box at the moment
Ah, a box of sewing bits and pieces that was passed on to me – let’s just pretend I know how to use any of the things in this box…

I totally lucked out as well, because, after telling my mum about my sewing (and reassuring her no lives were lost in the process), she suddenly realised she still had her old sewing machine buried in a cupboard somewhere (hurrah for my mum never having read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up that I gave her 18 months ago), and so she fished it out and brought it to me and now, sitting proudly on my dining table is my very own sewing machine. Old, strangely creaky, but working perfectly fine – and I couldn’t be more excited!

Currently, I’ve gotten as far as making reusable cotton pads to take my eye makeup off each day, using scrap fabric from a pair of Alice in Wonderland pyjama bottoms that I had somehow managed to completely rip the crotch out of (????? seriously, why does this keep happening to our trousers?!). While not exactly a technically ambitious project, it’s a good example of how learning a skill like sewing to even the most basic level can make allow for the making of something that is actually useful in every day life. No more wasting of cotton pads and the plastic bags they come in for me, no sirree (and yes, my sewn ones have survived the washing machine, trust me, I was just as surprised my stitching held up as you probably are after reading this post).

overall shot showing my sewing box, machine and fabric.

While it’s obviously still early days for me, I do have my sights set on making a sort of “zero waster companion pouch thing” (erm, still working on the name there). Basically I want to make a type of roll, like a jewellery roll, but something that will have a section for me to store a reusable straw or two, some metal cutlery, and also a couple of cloth napkins – all things I’m trying to get in the habit of carrying, but am not quite sure how to safely/cleanly transport them in my hand bags. If you can sew and have any tips or ideas on how I might go about making this please (no seriously, please) share them in the comments below, or, even if you’re not a sew-er (again, is that the right term?), let me know if you have any ideas of other sections I might want in the pouch – I have the overwhelming feeling that I’m forgetting something obvious that “zero wasters” might carry for eating…

So anyway, I hope maybe this post gave you a chuckle at my hopeless sewing skills, but I also hope that maybe you take away from it that if something is important to you, don’t give up, you can find a way. No, I’m probably never going to work as a seamstress (oh, it’s seamstress, not sew-er isn’t it?) for a major European couture fashion house, but that’s OK. With a bit of hard work and yes, 17,000 mistakes along the way, it’s entirely possible that I can become competent with sewing, and like I said, sometimes that’s all it takes with a skill to be able to create something that can improve your, or someone else’s, quality of life.

5 Newbie Bullet Journal Mistakes I’ve Made!

Ah Bullet Journalling: finally a hobby that can be both incredibly useful, and, incredibly soothing – well, until I make a mistake, and then I pretty much want to throw the blasted thing out the window. Literally. Before I tell you about the mistakes I’ve made (already), let me just say that this is not a “mistakes I’ve made, so you don’t have to” type of a post, because if you take up bullet journalling (or any other new hobby) you ARE going to make mistakes, that’s just part of the learning experience. Instead, I wanted to write a post just to share what did go wrong for me – because, trust me, I was completely blindsided by some of these issues – just as some food for thought for other new Journal-ers, and also to try and lighten the mood a bit about some of these sorts of mistakes, ‘cos like I said, it’s normal to make them… but it’s still pretty soul destroying to spend several hours on a spread only to realise it is in fact April, not May. Yeah.

a close up photo of some of my pen testing in my Bullet Journal

1. I didn’t test my pens PROPERLY

I mean, I did test them, of course, just not well as it turns out. I diligently assigned the back couple of pages of my book as a testing space, and I took the time to take every pen I own and draw a line with it to check for bleeding and ghosting – sounds good, right? Well, as it turns out, there’s a difference between quickly drawing a thin line with a pen and using a pen to “colour in”  – even if that is just doing a thicker line, or filling in a box on a tracker. What I discovered, was that I owned plenty of pens that I could quickly draw, or write lines with, but actually very few that could be used for shading or blocking in colour – but boy, did I learn this one the hard way!

Flicking through my Bullet Journal

2. I left pages blank that I was going to absolutely, definitely come back and do, like, any day now

I had read warnings about this before I started; about the importance of not pre-allocating pages and of making assumptions about future content. But it was fine, I KNEW I was going to want this spread, I KNEW I was going to do it just in a couple of days or something. Yeah it wasn’t fine, I didn’t do that spread, and I still have blank pages near the start of my journal.

One of the great things about the Bullet Journal system, is that, thanks to the indexing system, you don’t need to plan the page-allocation of your entire book out beforehand – if you decide you want a new tracker, you can just pop it in between months. But in my head I just really thought I would try and guess at what all my annual trackers would be and place them all at the start of the book, because it would be prettier. Yeah, random blank pages are not “prettier” as it turns out.

a close up of a spread I badly designed

3. I didn’t consider how much functional space I actually needed on a page

When I first started setting up page layouts, I was so focused on the aesthetic – on making them look cute and complete, and well put together, that sometimes I seemed to just totally disregard what I actually needed to use the space for. This went both ways – some pages I have masses of space when I only needed a few lines here and there, and other pages I’m now sitting trying to write three sentences in a space roughly the size of a postage stamp *sigh*.

A stack of journals

4. I didn’t trust my gut enough and I did all the pages I should do

Obviously the core bullet journal system is very well thought out, and used by a lot of people, but, one of the most amazing things about bullet journalling is its adaptability and flexibility. When I started out doing my journal I diligently included the year planner page… even though, thanks to crippling anxiety and depression, I don’t have any friends and therefore no weddings or dinners or parties to attend. (not feeling sorry for myself here, but it is nevertheless true). We aren’t taking any vacations or trips this year due to Kenny finishing off university and my cat now being at a stage where she can’t readily be left with other folks so easily… so yeah, not really a whole lot to mark on that page. At all. Probably should have just trusted my instincts there and saved myself the time!

Flicking through my Bullet Journal

5. I Didn’t check layout consistency from one page to the next: there’s so many things to think about,  it can be hard to get it all running smoothly at first.

Starting learning to Bullet Journal is a bit like starting to learn to drive, at least here in the UK anyway. You come up to a roundabout and when you’re new at it, it seems like there’s 1000 things to think about and you can’t autopilot any of it, so you’re trying to actually not hit any other cars, handle the clutch, time your move and have the correct speed crossing the roundabout (and don’t hit IT either), all while remembering to change gears appropriately and to mirror, signal, manoeuvre. At first, it’s a lot. Well, I think Bullet Journal layouts are the same – at first it’s hard to get your writing styles looking consistently the same, to have the same line intensity, same shading, same portions of the page divided up for different things  – it’s quite likely that you’re going to drop the ball on at least one of those things and “screw it up” a bit. Fortunately, like driving, you soon become more able to auto-pilot things, and fortunately unlike driving you don’t run the risk of killing someone in the meantime.

So those are just some of the “mistakes” I’ve made in my Bullet Journal already! I’m looking forward to making many more as I continue on this learning journey. Let me know down in the comments below if you use the Bullet Journal system – what did you find most difficult at the beginning? Do you have any tips for me?

Starting to Plan my Summer Capsule!

I’m so excited to be sitting down to write this post, partly because I’m so in love with the capsule wardrobe system and the community that surrounds it, but also because I’m so excited that summer, and hopefully sunshine, is on the way!

It’s a little bit funny that the Summer season is the first I’m really documenting on here, because Summer is by far the season I find least inspiring – style wise. In theory, I can think of a lot of cute Summer outfits, but living in Scotland, the reality of our weather often means a less-than-typical Summer wardrobe is required. Typically we get a week, or maybe two if we’re lucky of actually “hot” weather, and the rest of the time the weather floats around between warmish, rainy and downright chilly, so it makes it harder to choose 10 items to add onto my core wardrobe that will actually be usable for most of the Summer season. In the end, I don’t have a crystal ball, so I’ve basically decided that I’ll do my best to choose workable pieces, but if I guess wrong with the weather, then I can always switch pieces out if I need to – the capsule wardrobe system is designed to make my life easier, not to add stress to it after all!

Inspiration and Concepts

Like I said, I have less fun researching Summer style than I do with any other season – but I have put together a Pinterest board, and after skimming past 3000 images of women wearing denim shorts (I wish, but just really not an option here, at least 360 days of the year!), I was pleasantly surprised with a lot of the outfits that were coming up.

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One thing I love about using Pinterest to search for inspiration, is how organic a process it can be. I don’t need to have any ideas in my head when I start; just type in generic terms like “Summer outfits”, “casual outfits” and such, and just pin whatever appeals to me, then, after I have a good amount pinned I can go through the board I’ve made and try and distill the essence of what I’ve pinned into a few concepts. This time around I feel as though the concepts inspiring me for Summer are:

1. Long, flowy dresses and skirts
2. Earth tones instead of black and grey
3.  Less knits, more button downs and blazers

1. Long, flowy dresses and skirts.
I think because I’m short I always thought that it would a) be a nightmare to find long dresses or skirts that would fit me and b) that if they did, they’d drown me and I would look overwhelmed by them. But recently I’ve been stepping out of that comfort zone and have discovered that actually… I quite like a maxi-length dress! They’re surprisingly practical for me too: if it is pretty warm here in Scotland then I can have bare legs, without too much on show, but, if it’s chiller here then I can wear some cropped leggings underneath the skirt and nobody will know, genius!

What I really enjoy is when more delicate, flowing pieces are mixed with either contrasting materials – like a heavy denim – or a contasting style – like a graphicc tshirt layered underneath.

2. Earth tones instead of black and grey
This one actually surprised me when I started to see it crop up on my board, as usually I’m all about the black/grey/white colour (or should I say lack of colour) scheme. But more and more I saw outfits that maybe still included full length jeans or long sleeved sweaters – which are things we definitely still need during a Scottish Summer – but because the outfits included a lot of beige, or khaki or camel they somehow seemed so much lighter than if the bag, the shoes, and the outerwear had been black.

3. Less knits, more button downs and blazers
I have to admit, I hate feeling cold! I really find it distracts me from whatever I’m meant to be doing; be it working, walking or talking to someone, if I can feel a big draught in at my neck, or if I have goose-bumps all up my arms I’m pretty misreable! Because of this I definitely opt for a “better safe than sorry” approach to dressing, and generally finish any outfit I put together with a big cardigan, jumper or sweatshirt. All of this is fine, but it does make my outfits a bit one-note. This Summer, I’d like to break away from this mold and use different items for layering – such as oversized button-down shirts, a denim jacket, or blazers.

Specific Pieces


In terms of specific pieces I’ll be looking to add into my capsule (either from pieces I already have in storage or from a charity shop), I’ll be aiming, as usual, for about ten – give or take a couple, depending on how things go. I don’t yet have a clear idea of exactly what I want the pieces to be (I’ll do a full post later walking through the whole Summer capsule when I have all my decisions locked down), but here are a few things I’d like to add in.

1. denim jacket
I had been combing the charity shops for some time, looking for the ideal denim jacket – but despite coming across quite a lot of jackets, none were right for me! Then, randomly, when clearing out my mum’s closet with her she decided to get rid of her denim jacket, saying she’d worn it so much about 15 years ago, but basically hasn’t touched it since! It’s a great fit and wash of denim for me, and knowing it was my mum’s makes it even more special to me somehow. A denim jacket is such a strong, versatile piece for Summer – I’m so happy to finally have one to add in here!

2. sandals
I actually don’t own a pair of sandals at all; as I discussed here, shoes are a bit of a nightmare for me, but I feel like I really want one pair of sandals to wear on warmer days – even if I’m still wearing jeans and a long sleeved top, it could be nice to add that Summer vibe with some shoes. I don’t have anything specific in mind yet, but let the charity shop hunting commence!

collaged image showing my red wrap dress

3. long wrap dress
when I was going through Pinterest I think I pinned more wrap dresses than anything else! It’s a style that’s flattering on me and I just really enjoy wearing. Luckily, I have a thin, Summer type wrap dress tucked away from a previous year – time to dig it out and see how it works with other things in my wardrobe.

4. oversized button down shirt
As I mentioned above, I really want to get use out of some of my button down shirts, as layering pieces and not just stand alone tops. I have a couple of oversized options in storage (actually just the bottom drawer of my dresser, but “storage” sounds more organised somehow!), so no need to bring in anything new here, it’s just a case of seeing what will work best with the other options I pick out.

Leopard print converse shoes

5. another pair of trainers
Kenny and I love going out for walks around the city, particularly on Summer evenings. While I do have one pair of Converse in my core capsule, I think it’s probably worth adding in a second, just to let me have a bit more variety and flexibility. Like almost everything else I’ve listed so far here, I already have a couple of pairs in storage (this time, “storage” means: under my bed), so again, no need to shop – bonus!

So that’s 5/10 slots where I pretty much know what I want to choose, but that still leaves 5 where I’m not sure yet! I’m tempted to have a look in the charity shops for another long dress or skirt – but, I want to see how many different ways I can find to wear my current one before I buy anything else like it. Also not sure how many “Earth tone” items I own, but again, I’ll have a good raid of my closet before I hit the charity shops, not least because I need to decide what kind of specific pieces I’m looking for – it would be no use buying 4 camel blazers after all!

That’s all for now, I’ll be back soon with a detailed walk-through of the pieces I’m choosing to include. Let me know down in the comments below if you’re planning a capsule wardrobe for the new season – I’d love to hear what’s inspiring you!

 

 

My 5 Simple-Living Steps for May

I’ve never really taken part in a specific minimalism challenge before, though I know there are a few fun ones out there, but as April turned into May I was sitting here with the feeling that I I’ve dropped the ball a little with my pursuit of a simple life. In some ways it’s not hard to see why; life has been a little emotionally charged lately with illness, Kenny finishing his degree and a near-loss of my beloved cat, all playing a part. When things are ticking along and I’m in a little routine, I find it much easier to centre myself and to remember why I wanted to pursue a simple life in the first place, but, when sleeping is a rarity, or it’s hard to eat anything it can be harder to keep the momentum going with working towards simplicity. My personal stand point, is that I feel we’re all human, and everyone will have an off day, or have their arm twisted by circumstances on occasion and just kind of need to do whatever to get through a situation, so I’m not prone to give myself too hard a time for the occasional slip up, but I feel like over the past couple of months, it’s been one slip-up after another to the point where I’m struggling to see where the path was in the first place.

So for May, I’m going to be doing 5 small, easy things to try and help myself centre back in on what’s truly important to me. Please feel free to join me in this mini-challenge, or any part of it that appeals to you, and be sure to let me know how you get on in the comments below, or over on Instagram!

A mug of peppermint tea, and some banana on toast

 

1. No phone checking until after breakfast

For quite a while there I was in a great routine of spending the first hour of the morning reading a book, drinking some tea and hugging my cat… then all of a sudden I was the person who rolls over to turn off their alarm and simultaneously opens Instagram. Why?!? I understand for some people the struggle is real because they maybe have work emails they know they need to get to, or their job involves having a solid social media presence… but not me. Literally my emails exist to notify me that something from my Steam Wishlist is on sale and that Pinterest has realised I only spend 14 hours a day on their site and so, they’ve suggested some more content for me, because it’s time I started showing some real commitment.
So, knowing all this, why do I still feel the need to check RIGHT NOW, and once I have checked and discovered it’s just the usual spam in my Inbox… why don’t I just put the phone back down? It’s like once I’ve started, I just can’t stop checking, slowly working my way through each app until I’m sitting there trying to catch my 600th Pidgey on Pokemon Go.
The thing is, I’ve always really enjoyed that quiet time with Meeko in the morning (it’s usually before Kenny’s up), sitting with the window open and a warm cup of tea and a good book- somehow, I just forgot this a bit along the way, but almost losing Meeko this past month really drove home just how important time with loved ones, furry or otherwise, really is. Instagram can wait.

a paperback book, some banana on toast and a mug of tea,

2. Oh yeah, and actually eat breakfast

My previous point was about the importance of time before breakfast, which I guess heavily implies there is a breakfast, which admittedly, not so much recently. I’m sort of hoping that by slowing down my mornings again, pre-breakfast,  I’ll actually realise I’m hungry and so this problem sort of correct itself, but, in order for that to be possible, I do need to make sure I actually have suitable breakfast food in the house. I have eaten so many biscuits for breakfast recently that I’ve had to switch myself over to rich tea biscuits because they’re the least horrendously bad of all the biscuits.

While, of course, breakfast is nutritionally important, and than in itself should be all the motivation I need to get into, and stick to, a good routine, for me, it’s also an important part of the simple life I want to live. It’s taking the time to start the day with some self care in the form of feeding myself, it’s really a win-win… if only I can get back into the habit.

3. Plan outfits the night before

When I started using a capsule wardrobe system at the beginning of March, I also made a Spreadsheet to help me plan outfits and track how often I’m wearing certain pieces, amongst other things. While I can appreciate that this probably sounds really over the top to a lot of people, I find having everything logged on a Spreadsheet makes it a lot easier to keep track of things, and to quickly put together outfits, however, I really want to get back to doing this the night before. Why? Well, for some practical reasons, like if something is going to need ironed, I’d rather do it in the evening when I have plenty of time, rather than turning on the iron in the morning and spending the rest of the day wondering if I switched it off. But, even aside for the distinctly practical aspects I do better planning outfits the night before. If I leave it until the day of, I am much more likely to be in a rush and grab the same, basic, comfy outfits over and over again – meaning large chunks of my wardrobe go unworn, and I sometimes end up out of the house feeling not very put together at all. Given that it takes about 10 minutes of an evening to check the weather forecast and fill in my Spreadsheet, it’s something so easy to do that really helps lower my stress levels, and keep things running more smoothly for the next day.

assortment of different fabrics and jewelry

 

4. Resume Bullet Journalling

I took up Bullet Journalling at the beginning of 2018 and I loved it. I was initially drawn to it more as a creative outlet than as a life-organisation tool – mostly because after years of trying every method under the sun to try and get my shiz together, I was pretty much resigned to the idea that nothing would work for me. However, I was wrong. Bullet Journalling turned out to provide not only a great source of fun, but also the easiest, most effective method of organisation that I’ve ever come across. I think, though, I made a bit of a rookie error about the whole thing – through January and February I put together very extensive and elaborate spreads that yes, took quite a while to do, but hey, I enjoyed it. March rolled around and I had a lot less time all of a sudden, so pages got left unfinished throughout the month, which made me pretty unhappy. Then, April hit, and I hadn’t left myself enough time to put together the most basic of layouts, so I dropped the ball completely… and April was a pretty disorganised mess for me me! I think I just need to find a balance with how much time I invest in creating the spreads versus how much time and stress they allow me to save. I want to strip back the amount of time I was “having” to put into it, and to use it more as a tool, because honestly, it really, really helps me keep calm and focus on the things that are important to me.

Bullet Journal food tracker

5. Make time for meal planning

Kenny and I both love our food, and even though we’re currently in a bit of disagreement over what we want our diet to look like – one thing remains the same, and that is that we both appreciate a good, home-cooked meal. Meal planning and prepping is another task like outfit planning for me, in that taking the time to really give it my full attention and get organised, really has benefits that last all week long. I love being able to make a meal that  will include leftovers which will feed us the next night too, or being able to make sure that we’re buying ingredients in the right quantities, and with enough flexibility in the types of food, that we won’t end up generating a bunch of food waste, even if our plans change slightly throughout the week. I feel very grateful that I have the time to cook meals for us, and if I’m organised and know what I’m doing I find it very theraputic, and one of the true simple pleasures in life.

So those are the little goals I’ve set for myself in May! I’m excited about taking this time to improve my quality of life and I can’t wait to see the difference it will all make. Let me know in the comments down below if you’re joining me in taking part in any part of this challenge, or, what would you suggest I try to get back to a more simple life?