Sunday, 7 February 2016

Building a capsule wardrobe - MORE neutrals

I'm guessing that many of you may groan at the idea of more neutrals, however others may be thinking "great"! Remember that one of the benefits of a capsule wardrobe is flexibility and that some of you may have wardrobes like mine used to be: crammed full of clothes in a variety of colours that don't go together. Hopefully you will see the advantages of adding more neutrals and will bear with me. If you have warm colouring and chose brown, for example, as your dark neutral, then choose a warm but light neutral such as camel, stone or cream as your second neutral. Below are pictures of my light neutrals plus the dark ones from my previous post, which can mix and match with each other.

My light neutrals
My dark neutrals
For those of you who look better in cool colours, stick to a cool neutral like a light grey or white, mixed with dark grey or navy for your dark neutrals as shown below.

Light grey neutrals
Dark navy neutrals

If you do have lots of different colours in your existing wardrobe, don't worry as I'm not going to suggest throwing them all out. Look at the examples above, which are either warm or cool neutrals, and imagine them worn with red, orange, yellow, green, blue or whatever colours you love. If you suit cooler shades, you will obviously need to wear a blue-red top rather than an orange-red one and vice versa. Here are some examples from my own wardrobe, which go beautifully with the neutrals shown in the first two pictures.

A touch of colour
For those of you who look better in cool colours, you might like to choose accent colours similar to those in the following picture.

Cool colour accents

I've shown 14 pieces from my warm capsule wardrobe: 7 tops, 4 bottoms and 3 cardigans. As all of the tops can be worn with all of the bottoms this makes 28 different outfits, however don't forget that there are also three cardigans that can be worn with them, giving over 100 possible combinations. You can do the same with the light grey and navy neutrals, combining them with the cool accent colours to create numerous different outfits.

Don't forget that these are only examples of some of the pieces that you might want to include in your own capsule wardrobe. You may prefer skirts or dresses to trousers. Softer, more delicate colours might flatter your colouring more than the shades I have shown. When you add in your personal style, body shape and colouring you will be creating a capsule wardrobe that is unique to you. You don't even have to include accent colours if you're more of a neutral, monochrome sort of person. I have the occasional day when I wear neutral outfits, however these days are rare as colour is part of my style recipe.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you will know what's coming next. Accessories! Your neutral shoes, bags, necklaces and scarves are an essential part of your capsule, however you can totally change the look of each outfit with not only accessories in accent colours but also in different styles. Classic, feminine, dramatic, sporty. elegant - choose whichever style suits your personality. More on that in my next post!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Building a capsule wardrobe: using neutrals

You've taken the decision to start building a capsule wardrobe, possibly swayed by all the bloggers (including yours truly!) telling you how much easier life is with a capsule and how you will immediately look super-stylish. You've chosen your neutrals and accent colours, identified your body shape and worked out your personal style, and now you are eager to start shopping. Before you leave your house though, or browse one of the numerous on-line stores, start by looking in your existing wardrobe. Yes I know that it's far from perfect - which is why you want to build a capsule wardrobe - but you may already have some of the basics you need for your capsule. It's also a good time to clear out anything that doesn't fit, doesn't flatter you and that you don't love, leaving more room for any new purchases.

Common sense suggests that the first items in your capsule wardrobe should be neutrals and preferably dark neutrals if only because they won't show the dirt as much. Do you have a pair of black trousers, or maybe a simple navy skirt that you can mix and match with other basics? If your lifestyle is very casual, you could pull out your best pair of indigo jeans as your first piece. What about that dark grey jacket that you bought in the sales and hardly wear - will it go with the black trousers, navy skirt or indigo jeans? Depending on your lifestyle, the first pieces in your capsule should be two tops, two bottoms and one outer layer or a variation on that theme.

Looking through my own wardrobe, I have a pair of dark brown jeggings that will be one of the foundation pieces in my capsule wardrobe. Dark brown is going to be my first neutral, however your choice could be different. You can see my chocolate lace top on the right in the photos below, my long cardigan is on the left and the brown jeggings are on the right, below the top. In the middle of the top row is a second top, which I don't own at the moment, however I plan to purchase something similar to add to the capsule. The other two pieces are alternatives that I'm considering to complete the first step. I suspect that I will buy another pair of trousers, however I'm not ruling out a skirt if I find one that fits well and flatters my body.

What pieces will you start with? You may prefer two skirts instead of trousers or perhaps you look better in dresses than you do in separates. I'm showing you my choices, but unlike many people who write about capsule wardrobes I don't want to be prescriptive. If you really want a classic black jacket, dressy black trousers, pencil skirt, button-down white shirt and cashmere sweater, then go ahead and buy them, but not just because fashion bloggers tell you they are must-haves.

We're now going to start looking at jackets - but please don't stop reading if you don't like jackets. I'm talking about an outer layer here, so cardigans, ponchos, blanket scarves and other alternatives can be included if you're not a jacket person. After all, I'm using a long cardigan instead of a jacket in my own capsule.

Look at the options below, which range from a tailored, double-breasted black jacket to a casual loose cardigan. Forget about the colours for a moment, just ask yourself if any of the styles would suit you. Once you've chosen a style that suits your personality and your body shape, then find an outer layer in your dark neutral colour.

I've lost count of the number of fashion articles or style books I've read that dictate a black jacket as an essential for any chic woman's wardrobe. Why not grey, navy, brown or tan? Maybe a black cardigan like the zipped one on the right in the top row if you look good in black? Perhaps a black and grey poncho would suit your style more than a structured jacket?

Having suggested that you build your capsule around neutral pieces, please don't think that this means it will be dull and monotonous.  Remember that I mentioned accent colours in the previous post? The picture below shows what I might add to my capsule to make it more colourful.
I hope this will inspire you to start building your own capsule wardrobe. When choosing your basic neutral pieces, whether they are some of your existing clothes or new purchases, go for the best quality you can afford so they will last for a long time. On the other hand accent colours can be trendy pieces if you wish, however don't spend as much money on them. The accents don't have to be limited to accessories of course. I already have a soft teal top and a coral one, which will look good with my dark brown neutrals as well as the neutrals that I will show you in my next post.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Building a Capsule Wardrobe: where to start?

You've decided to build a capsule wardrobe - maybe a late New Year's resolution? - with the hope of becoming even more stylish in 2016. You've seen the fashion bloggers extolling the virtues of capsule wardrobes, declaring that you only need 33 (Project 333), perhaps 16 (4x4) or maybe just 10 items of clothing to look incredibly chic every day. You're keen to have a go, the only problem being: where do you start?

You could start by purchasing one of the many books describing how to build the definitive capsule wardrobe, though some of them aren't that inspiring or even well written in my opinion, having downloaded a few from Amazon. A better (and also cheaper!) way is by visiting one of the numerous fashion blogs, my favourite one being The Vivienne Files.  Take a look at Janice's 4x4 wardrobes by clicking on the link and then choose your favourite colours from the many options. You could also start by reading this post and then the following ones that I'm planning to write on the same subject.

My advice is to first identify your personal style, lifestyle, body shape and your most flattering colours before you think about what your capsule should contain. What's the point of rushing out to buy a chic jacket if it's not something you will wear regularly, the style is wrong for your shape and it's black, which is a colour that makes you look washed out and haggard? Don't worry, I'm not having a dig at you.  Read this post of mine and you'll see exactly what I mean!

Here is a good example of a capsule wardrobe, which I found on Polyvore. Tullewhimsy has created this French capsule wardrobe with simple, stylish pieces that can be mixed and matched to create many different outfits.
At first glance this capsule suits my personal style and a few years ago I might have been tempted to buy similar pieces, however I now realise why it wouldn't work for me. The most obvious reason is that there is too much black and white so the colour palette is far from ideal. Take a look at the high heels - I'm an over 60 woman with a mainly casual lifestyle, so they would just sit at the bottom of my wardrobe. Either that or I'd cripple myself the first time I wore them! The white pussy-bow silk blouse is far too fussy and girly to suit me and the black mini dress on the left may have looked good on me when I was in my teens and twenties, but not forty years later. My capsule wouldn't need both a dress and a skirt anyway as I usually live in trousers, worn with a colourful top rather than black or white. You may be the opposite and your ideal capsule might have three skirts instead of trousers plus several dresses. You may also love black and white and look fabulous when you wear them. My point here is that we are all individuals and the ideal capsule wardrobe for one person is probably anything but for another person.

At this stage, having identified your personal style and thought about what clothes will suit your lifestyle, it's time to decide what colours will form the basis of your capsule wardrobe. You've probably guessed from looking at the example above that these should be neutrals. If black is too harsh on you, navy and grey may be more flattering. If your colouring is warm like mine, dark brown and camel may be your best choices. Decide on two dark neutrals and one light neutral, all of which should go well together, and then (here comes the fun part!) choose a couple of accent colours that flatter you and that will also go well with your neutrals. 

Here's another example of a capsule wardrobe, which I have just created on Polyvore. I've used warmer colours (brown, camel and cream), which I know would flatter me more than the black and white shown above. 
I mentioned choosing accent colours, especially if you aren't so keen on monochromatic outfits. For the top capsule wardrobe, my personal choices would be a bright blue and red, although I realise that black and white aren't my best colours. For the bottom capsule wardrobe, which would suit my colouring far more, my accents would be coral and teal. You of course may have totally different ideas of what items to include in a capsule wardrobe and which colours would look best. 

My personal style recipe is "colourful casual chic with a little bit quirky and a Parisian influence". The emphasis is on casual and colourful, however I aim to look elegant and chic. This may explain how my wardrobe a few years ago contained all the colours of the rainbow and lots of different styles. My lifestyle, now that I've retired, is perfect for my personality and my style, with most days spent blogging, walking the dog, shopping and meeting friends for coffee or lunch. We do have the occasional dinner out or celebration lunch to allow me to dress up in an elegant and chic way though!

In my next post, now that I have identified my personal style, given some thought to my lifestyle and chosen my best colours, I will select the first few items to include in my capsule wardrobe. Do let me know your personal style and/or favourite colours so that I can give some different examples.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

My Word for 2016: Future

Do you use facebook on a regular basis? If so, maybe you have seen friends posting the results of (to give a recent example) entering their name and clicking on "next" to find their word for 2016. You may even have tried it yourself, as I did! 

Of course we realise that this isn't exactly scientific, but I decided to see what word it would give me for 2016. As you can see by the title of the post, my word was "Future". Apparently I will make new connections and find a lot of happiness. This word will guide me through the year of 2016. It will support me in my daily struggles and situations that may appear hopeless. This word will always show me the silver lining so that I won't ever need to worry. As I commented on facebook, wealth would have been good but I'll settle for happiness!

My first reaction on being given the word "future" was that it wouldn't be an appropriate word for me. I believe in making the most of the present. Not looking back and regretting the past, and definitely not looking forward and worrying about things that may never happen. 

However I gave it a bit more thought and could see how "future" might be a very helpful word for 2016. I have decided to try an anti-inflammatory diet in the hope that it might ward off arthritis, after my doctor told me that I have arthritis in my jaw. This may not have an immediate effect, but hopefully it will improve my overall health for the future. 

I have also started doing a daily shiatsu facial massage, which I'm hoping will show positive results in a month or so. Why not take a look here at an example of giving yourself a facial massage? I am using a video, which assures me that it will prevent wrinkles - in my case I already have them, but I'll be happy if it will prevent more wrinkles in the future! I am also starting a body toning routine, which will supplement the walking that I do every day to keep fit. I have learnt that it can take time to see results from any fitness programme, so again this will be something for the future.

Beautiful Paris
I will be visiting France in 2016. We are going to Bordeaux at the beginning of March to celebrate my husband's birthday and we will also be meeting friends there, which will be great. Talking of the future though, I hope to visit Paris in 2017 to celebrate my 70th birthday, so I will be planning this in 2016 and definitely looking forward to our future visit.

Many of my posts are about fashion for over 60 (and particularly petite) women. Over the last 12 months I've learnt a lot about what colours, shapes and styles suit me. My capsule wardrobe is developing and I expect it to develop further over the next 12 months, so that eventually I will have a wardrobe consisting of clothes that I love and that love me. My capsule wardrobe is a work in progress, however I am hoping that some time in the future you will see a far more stylish version of me on my blog.

To summarise: 2016 will be a work in progress for me, definitely living in the present but at the same time working towards a happier, healthier and more stylish future. Have you picked a theme for 2016? If so, please share it with us.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Winter capsule wardrobe for Project 333

My autumn capsule wardrobe worked really well, however winter has definitely arrived so I need to retire a couple of short-sleeved tops until it's time to think about my spring capsule. For any new readers, the idea behind Project 333 is to limit yourself to a maximum of 33 items of clothing for the next 3 months. It may sound limiting to some of you, however if you choose your 33 items wisely your capsule wardrobe should prove to be versatile and far from boring.

Even in sunny Spain it's a lot colder during the winter months, so I rarely wear dresses or skirts at this time of the year. I've included four neutral bottoms in my winter capsule: grey trousers, navy denims, chocolate jeggings and sand trousers.

To create a column of colour (to help me look taller and slimmer!) I have included a navy cardigan, grey jacket, navy and grey jacket, brown cardigan and sand cardigan. I can't resist a bit of colour though, so you will also see a red cardigan, an olive one and my hero cardigan, which is shown in the last picture.

Now to a selection of tops to go with the bottoms. This is where I break away from the neutrals and have a bit of fun with my winter capsule. True there is a chocolate brown top, however the lace sleeves add some interest, and the olive top has sequins round the neckline, but as you can see I've also included blue, purple, red, lime, teal and orange. You may spot some striped tops too: I never can resist a striped top!

I like to show off my mathematical skills, so I've calculated that there are 16 tops and 4 bottoms in the capsule, which gives 64 different combinations. Don't forget that there are eight cardigans and jackets, so this increases the possible permutations, although admittedly not every top, bottom and jacket goes together. It's clear though that I can wear a different top every day over a two week period, so there's no need to become bored with my capsule. Remember that I can use those all important accessories to add even more variety to my wardrobe. 

Talking about maths, there are only 32 items shown here: this allows me to introduce a dress if we're invited somewhere smart or a wildcard in case I find something special in the January sales! Finally, two puffer jackets, a burgundy coat and my new copper trench are shown below: these should cover me for all types of weather and all occasions.

If any of you have been thinking about having a clear out of your wardrobe and/or building a capsule wardrobe that will give you plenty of variety, why not start it now? Click on this link to find out more about Project 333. I should admit here that I do bend the rules, as I don't include accessories, jewellery or shoes in my 33 items, but trust me: my wardrobe is definitely a lot less cluttered and more organised than it was before I started Project 333!

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Farewell 2015 - 2016 is beckoning!

I hope that you have all had a wonderful holiday. No matter whether we celebrate Christmas Day or not, most of us enjoy a few days of relaxation with friends and family at this time of the year and for many of us (including retirees who blog!) the festive season is a welcome break from work.

Looking back over 2015, I am grateful that so many of you commented on my posts. We bloggers love to know that people out there are actually reading our blogs! My most popular posts, both for the comments made and the number of views they had, were those about the 7 Steps to Style system and the recent No Repeat November challenge. I believe - from comments made, plus looking at photos I've posted here - that I have made giant steps in developing my style by following Imogen's 7 Steps system. I'd started on my journey by having a colour analysis in 2013 followed by a personal style session in early 2014. It was established that I'm a Natural Gamine, which suited not only my personality but also my lifestyle.

Before: picture 1
Before: picture 2
The two photos above show where I started out from style-wise. I look casual and comfortable, however my body is cut in half, especially in the second picture, so I look shorter and (being honest with myself) a little dumpy. The trousers are a bit baggy too, which doesn't help matters.

This year I learnt that there is more to creating stylish outfits than discovering my best colours and finding clothes that flatter my H (rectangular) shape, important though they are. I found out about the importance of value and colour contrast, plus values, lifestyle and style personality. I even created my own style recipe: "Colourful casual chic, with a little bit quirky and a Parisian influence." 

Below you can see what I like to think is the new improved and more stylish me. The cardigan and trousers in picture 1 create a column of colour, which helps to make me look taller and slimmer. In picture 2 I am wearing a dress (not my usual look as regular readers will know) and I'm showing off my legs. Enough said!

After: picture 2
After: picture 2
Have you made any New Year resolutions? I'm hoping to find a theme for 2016 rather than the usual resolutions that inevitably get broken. I will continue my pursuit of becoming more stylish and plan to add to my capsule wardrobe in the spring. In the meantime, I need to decide on my Winter 33 items of clothing to get me through the colder months. 

I also intend to eat more healthily, specifically to find an anti-inflammatory diet, having been told by my doctor that I have arthritis of the jaw. My husband put it down to over-use! I'm hoping that a new healthy diet will help me look younger - I'm an optimist in case you haven't realised! - plus I'm starting to use shiatsu face massage so i will report back on whether it works.

Finally, I'd like to wish you all a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year. If you've made any New Year resolutions, or have chosen your own theme for 2016, please share it with us.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

No repeat November - conclusions

Surviving 30 days with a more limited wardrobe (my Autumn 33 items of clothing) wasn't as difficult as I thought, even though I had the additional challenge of not repeating any outfit during November. Layering was the answer, especially as one of my tops was too warm to wear and another one was on my shopping list rather than physically in my wardrobe, which clearly limited my options. Luckily the weather was perfect for short-sleeved tops worn with different cardigans or jackets. You can see one example of this in the outfit I wore on day 29 and another in day 30's outfit.

Day 29
Day 30
The following photos show the winning outfits from each week. Where readers have liked several different outfits I have chosen the one with the most mentions. In the case of a tie, I had the casting vote!

Week 1 winner
Week 2 winner

Week 3 winner
Week 4 winner

Honorable mention
Honorable mention
Looking back over the month and seeing which outfits were my (and my readers') favourites, it was clear that warmer colours flatter me the most.  When I wore neutral outfits I needed a dash of colour to lift them such as my "hero" cardigan. My style recipe is colourful casual chic, so not surprisingly most of the outfits I wore during November consisted of tops worn with trousers. I did receive several compliments though the one day that I wore a dress, which was the week 3 winner.

I realised that I tend to wear the same bottoms and accessories each time that I wear a particular top, so this challenge was particularly good for helping me create different outfits. It proved to me that having a more limited wardrobe can work if you have neutrals for your basics, with accent colours to add some variety, that can be mixed and matched.

Which of the above outfits do you think should be the overall winner? Or perhaps we should award a gold, silver and bronze medal to the three favourites. The outfits I wore on the last two days of November can also be considered, if that makes it any easier (I suspect not!)

I'm going to vote the dress that was week 3's winner as the overall winner. In second place is the outfit that I wore on day 29. Finally, in bronze medal position, week 4's winner.  Do you agree?