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 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.

//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js
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!

 

 

Docs For Walks

Even though recently I’ve been having a lot of fun styling cute, Spring outfits – like this one – the reality is that I live in Scotland; the land of wind and horizontal rain. My Instagram feed is full of folks rocking dreamy floral dresses and while I don’t want to sound like a complete downer because yes, of course, sometimes I CAN dress like that in Scotland, but the truth is that for every day I get to leave the house with my pale, bare legs on display to the world, there are many more like today where it was very windy, intermittently heavily raining and oh, yeah, I had to walk more than six miles around the city. Some days I like to “style” outfits, but other days I pretty much just have to dress for the weather and the walking, which is why I wanted to include photos I took today in this post – because this is “real life” for me a lot of the time.

Reflection of Glasgow
urban scene with railway

Footwear has always been a bit of a (first-world) struggle for me; because you see, I don’t have adult sized feet. In the UK women’s shoes typically start in a UK size 3. My feet are a UK size 2 – and I don’t mean “oh they’re a bit smaller than a 3, like a 2 and a half”, I mean, they are barely a 2. This makes buying shoes difficult, but it makes trying to obtain ethical or sustainable shoes MUCH harder. Basically, I get by with old shoes I have left from my fast fashion days, thrifted kids’ Converse, and with size 3 boots sometimes I can thrift them and just use insoles, and wear extra socks and make it work, but obviously, that’s not great for when I’m going to be walking miles in a day.

I’ve wanted a pair of Dr. Martens for literally, years. They’re very much my aesthetic, plus their reputation for quality and durability is outstanding. I wanted them to be my walking-around-the-city shoes; shoes that I could put on rain or shine, with a whole bunch of outfits for days when I just need to basically not worry about my feet. After I learned that Dr Martens don’t have the best ethics, I figured I would buy a pair second hand instead (plus, bonus – CHEAPER), but after trying on several pairs of size 3’s (the smallest adult size) second hand, it became clear that they were just too big and that they would rub and slide and not be the comfortable, reliable shoe option I needed them to be. So, I combed the charity shop childrens’ shoe sections for months, and I stalked eBay as often as I remembered to, but ultimately, every listing I saw was just too imperfect. If I managed to find a pair on eBay that was my size (and a style I liked) then inevitably they were very, very scuffed – I think with being kids’ shoes they probably had a harder life than a lot of adult shoes! Had I found them in a charity shop for not-very-much-money and been able to look them over myself it might have been different, but the ones on eBay weren’t going super cheap and frankly a lot of the photos were vague/blurred, so I wasn’t happy to gamble the money on something I really wanted to last me a long, long time and risk them being in a bad way when they arrived.

 

bare trees with a rainy sky behind them

 

Dr Martens in a puddle
chainlink fence with some weeds growing in front of it

On a whim one day I checked the Dr Martens website and saw they had a sale on (which, because I hadn’t planned to buy new from them, I hadn’t been checking for), and on closer inspection I found a pair, in my size (in the kids’ range) for £35. They’re canvas, but the canvas is really thick and “waterproofy” feeling, not like the canvas of Converse hi-tops. The floral print on them wasn’t something I originally thought I’d go for, until I started to consider the fact that most days if I’m out walking loads I’m wearing my rain jacket (because it’s Scotland, it is going to rain at some point) which is black, and usually I wear it with black.. so maybe some cheery shoes wouldn’t be such a bad idea? Money wise, it wasn’t a great time to be buying shoes (even if they were a bargain) but Kenny and I reasoned that having sturdy, comfy shoes would encourage me to walk more and use the subway less, so in time, they would help save money as well as keep me healthier.

reflection of Dr Martens as seen in the Riverside Museum building window
chainlink fence and some lorry containers, urban scene
photo of me, in my raincoat and scarf

I think this purchase has also helped teach me a valuable lesson about shopping ethically: you can only do the best you can do in a certain situation, and that’s ok. Ultimately, I wish I could have found a pair second hand, but after months of looking (and quite a lot of blisters on my feet in the meantime), I couldn’t hold out any longer. I wish I had been able to buy shoes from a truly ethical and sustainable brand – but so few make shoes down to my size, and of the ones that do many of the designs are childish (I mean, they ARE kids’ shoes to be fair), or priced way above my means at the moment, and so I did the best I could. I bought a pair of shoes in a style and pattern that I love and feel safe that I will love for years to come, I bought them in a non-leather material, and I bought them from a company that is known for making long-wearing shoes, so while this might not have been the most ethical purchase of walking shoes, it should at least be my only purchase of walking shoes for a LONG time, and that’s something too.

selfie captured using the reflection in the Riverside Museum building
urban scene featuring city street-lights and lamp-posts

Do you have a go-to pair of shoes that you always know you can walk miles in? Do you have any suggestions for ethical, small-sized shoes for me to look at in the future? Have you owned a pair of Dr Martens? How well did they last?

 

Stripes, Stripes and Sneakers

Overview of an outfit where I've combined a shirt and a blazer with casual sneakers.

I’ve always loved the combination of sneakers with blazers… on other people. Historically, every time I’ve tried to combine heels with yoga pants, or a workout vest with tailored trousers I’ve always just felt like I was in a mad rush leaving the gym and got caught somewhere in between looks. Athleisure is a cool trend, but not one I’ve ever felt comfortable in.

Still, a desire for comfortable feet without wearing a whole outfit looking like I’m off to run a 5K has led me to experiment with the classic sneakers and blazers look once again – and finally, I think I’m getting somewhere.

close up of the top half of the outfit, showing the shirt, blazer and bag
extreme close up of the shirt collar, also showing my necklaces.
black jeans, grey blazer, blue striped shirt and sneakers.

 

 THE OUTFIT

// the grey blazer (thrifted)
I think this blazer is playing a big part in making this look feel comfortable for me. It’s a very soft, cotton material which gives it a much more relaxed feel than some of the more tailored, black blazers I own. I also love that the lining of this is a grey and white stripe which is on display when I roll the sleeves up (which I basically always do). In particular with this outfit I love that the sleeve stripes run the opposite way from the stripes on the shirt sleeves which are visible underneath.
 
// the striped, button down shirt (thrifted)
While I’m definitely getting more into button-downs in general just now, I think it was definitely this shirt that kicked that off for me. Honestly, this was really the first fitted shirt I ever wore that didn’t feel like a “school shirt” to me. Again, I think the soft cotton fabric has a lot to do with this, as well as the blue pinstripe, which I just find so inspiring – it’s one of those pieces I can see myself wearing in every season.

// black, leather cross-body bag (thrifted)
This was a more recent charity-shop find for me. It was spooky actually, I had it in my head that I was looking for a compact, black cross-body bag (with a good closure) that I could use for everyday errand running and such, then, lo and behold, in the second store I went into, I found this! It pretty much perfectly met my criteria and I’ve worn it basically everyday since. I love that there’s something slightly 90’s mom about it – especially with this outfit somehow.

// black skinny jeans (birthday gift – they’re Molly jeggings from River Island)
I decided that, as a general rule, I wasn’t going to mention fast-fashion brands that I still own pieces from, or announce where thrifted items are “originally” from, because I don’t really want to advertise these brands, however, I wanted to share a note about these jeans for readers who do still shop at River Island. My sister and I are long time Molly jegging fans; they’re the only black jeans we’ve worn since about 2013 and we’ve each owned a few pairs in that time and worn them to death. This most recent pair, which was a gift from my sister who also bought herself a pair at the same time, are terrible. The fabric is already fading noticeably, they’re also pilling across the thighs and the dye transfer has been crazy – even after a few washes. My sister has had the exact same experience as I have. So, I just wanted to put a note up, because taking aside the ethics of River Island, these did used to be a high quality product, and while I wouldn’t have been buying another pair anyway, this massive drop in quality is such a huge turn-off.

// black low-top Converse (thrifted)
A rather epic charity-shop find if I do say so myself! I’ve pretty much lived in Converse trainers since about the age of 13 and have been very relieved to find that they’re easily available second hand, meaning I don’t have to quit my Chuck Taylor habit any time soon. I opted for this pair to wear with a blazer as I think them being black makes it easier (for a novice like me) than if I’d worn my pink or leopard print pair. This particular pair are a real staple for me, except for the fact that they come down very low at my ankle, meaning that I have to wear those strange teeny-tiny sock things with them as opposed to regular ankle or sneaker-socks – which is a bit of a pain!
close up of black, low-top Converse
close up showing the contrast created by the blazer lining and the shirt sleeve.
overview of most of the outfit in a more casual pose.
walking shot of the full outfit
close up photo showing the bag in detail