Hello friends! How was your week? My break was lovely, and now I’m super stoked to share spring outfit ideas with you.
Another capsule is finished. Now it’s time to hang tight, enjoy what I have, and not shop.
I’ve got to be honest. It’s always a little hard for me to switch out of shopping mode and get back into no-shopping mode. Any of you feel this way?
Here’s how I approach the transition.
Stick with me for a second.
At the Texas Style Council last weekend, we talked a lot about letting go of negativity in your life to make room for positivity.
This quote puts it in perspective: “The first step to getting what you want is having the courage to get rid of what you don’t.” –unknown
When I’m faced with negativity, I take a second to check in with myself. How am I going to feel if I let this into my life? And if the answer is, “It’s going to ruin my day,” then why would I choose to let it in? I have more control than I think. (And you do too.)
Bringing it back around to shopping.
For me, shopping, while not completely negative, usually makes me feel antsy and discontent. I do get a rush and I’d classify it as “fun” but when I look a little deeper, I see that it’s not really a peaceful experience for me. It empties me — it doesn’t fill me.
I’d rather invite peace into my life.
So, as I’ve had the urge to shop over the past few days, I ask myself how I want to feel: empty or full? And, since the answer is always full, I try to replace shopping with an activity that fills me up, like taking a walk with my dog or reading or calling up a friend.
Then — this is the most important part — I consciously let myself be happy that I’m choosing the peaceful activity that’s filling me up.
It all starts with a simple question: “How is this going to make me feel?”
That’s how I’m approaching it these days. How about you?
Jeans: old from Gap (similar)
Shoes: old from Steve Madden (similar OR similar for less)
Bag: Marc Jacobs (similar for less)
For the last 2 years I have been trying to clean out/update my wardrobe with no luck. I discovered your blog in October after having my second child and even though I couldn’t try on clothes to see what works, I eliminated half my wardrobe based on the fact that it wasn’t useful or relevant to my life anymore. Since then, I have gotten rid of more and now find myself more content and happy with what I have. I wear what I love instead of what I think I should wear because I bought it. I didn’t make one clothing purchase for 5 months, and just bought 4 very basic items that were missing from my wardrobe and couldn’t be happier. I don’t have any plans to buy more for several months.
I don’t fully subscribe to the capsule idea, but instead have less than 90 great items in my closet all hanging together. With time, I might start capsuling. Anyway, I have one question for you that I don’t think has been addressed: What type of hangers/organization do you have in your closet? Now that I have less clothing that I love, I want to take better care of what I have. How do you store your tees, jeans, skirts, dresses, and jackets in the closet during the season? Have you found that you stored them a certain way that ruined them? (hanger marks or creases you had a hard time ironing out?)
Thank you for your inspiration! You have helped me stop a terrible, expensive habit and I have found joy outside of my belongings, hooray!
I agree with this ^^^^ suggestion! I’d love for you to do a post about how you organize and care for your clothing!
I’ve missed my daily read, so it’s good to have you back! I love planning outfits and capsule wardrobes, but I don’t really enjoy the shopping itself, it’s the planning part that’s fun! Shopping for clothes usually makes me feel somewhat unsatisfied.
I’m planning on setting up my spring capsule next week. I’m moving this weekend (YAY) and it’s still 27 degrees here (in NJ) currently. I decided I’m taking a little different approach to shopping this season. I bought myself a Visa gift card, and that is what I will use for any clothing/shoes/accessories purchases until the end of the season. I’ve never really been a binge shopper, and I don’t really like buying all my new things at the beginning of the season. For me, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with seeing a cute shirt on sale on a random Wednesday and getting it as a little pick me up as long as its in my budget and works with my wardrobe. My personal rule is that I don’t buy anything that isn’t returnable – I try it on with my clothes and if there’s a chance I’m not going to actually wear it – back it goes. I thought Caroline’s suggestion of using a gift card to control black friday spending was a great idea, and that is what inspired me to try it this way. I’m actually hoping to not use most of it, and spend the balance on some extra’s for my apartment in a few months. The only thing I really have my eye out for is a pair of black flat gladiator sandals that come up mid calf and are under $50 – if anyone has any suggestions :)
Visa gift card is a great idea! I’m totally going to do that for now on.
Joanna @ Love Always Jo says
“How do I want to feel?” is such a great guiding question. Are you familiar with Danielle LaPorte? She really champions this idea and has a book dedicated to figuring out exactly how you want to feel and identifying those as your Core Desired Feelings — it’s called The Desire Map. If you haven’t read it, I’d think you’d really enjoy it!
Such an excellent post, Caroline! This kind of tinkering in the innards of capsuling and shopping is what distinguishes you as a blogger! The language you’re using about filling up or emptying you out is so helpful. But what I really want to say is how much I admire the rigor with which you’re applying mindfulness to your life…and before 30. I’ve been AWARE of this idea (what activity is really rejuvinating? I had a coach ask me once…) for a while, but acting on it is another thing, for me anyway. I’ve got a different life than you, in terms of the ingredients (kids, one with autism, etc.) but you make me think about the parts of my life that I CAN control. I’m aware that I don’t always choose the rejuvinating activity or food or whatever when I’m feeling under-the-gun or stressed out, which is most of the time. It’s so helpful to see someone who IS, and good to hear how she does it, and how it feels to to it. And your doing it makes me think that maybe we have some more choice-making available to us, like where we live and how we choose to organize our working life. Maybe it’s time for a change.
Carissa Grace says
Your words are always so helpful and encouraging.
Thank you : )
Hello. Thanks for your GREAT blog. I have learned so much from you. Somehow I managed to miss out on some foundational truths growing up; It’s OK to take care of ourselves, It’s OK to express ourselves with our clothing/jewelry/makeup. And, it’s FUN! So, thanks for sharing.
I work in an office fulltime so one single-type wardrobe doesn’t work for me. I have my work life and my home life and there is some over-lapping but I cannot wear jeans/T’s to work. I store all my seasons and both wardrobes in one walk-in closet. I’m continually culling things that don’t work for whatever reason and I love the breathing space I have created. I have found myself doing the same in my home. When I look around, I find tattered furniture, worn rugs, dated paint/art/bedding, etc. These are things that I bought so many years ago and just used up and forgot about refreshing! I fell into such a lull. (More like a coma!) Getting rid of things that bring me down has left me with a breath of fresh air in my home. I honestly don’t know what my taste in these things will run toward, but I’m taking my time and looking around to see what inspires me. Slowly I will add things back to surround myself with peace and joy in my home too.
What a relief!
Daisy @ Simplicity Relished says
I think it’s really important to ask ourselves the impact that our impulse decisions make on our souls. I completely agree that certain activities can be “emptying” rather than “filling”– and oftentimes the act of acquiring something new has such a tiny marginal benefit before becoming another burden! Loved this post, Caroline.
Iris R. says
I definitely have a weaning period after shop for clothes and then stop. It’s really similar to shifting any other habit, for instance going from eating candy regularly to cutting out sugar, or starting to wake up early. The transition period kind of sucks, but I find that sticking with it for just a few days totally shifts perspective. I realized I was making too many mindless purchases (not just on clothes) and so I made March a no-online-shopping month. It was hard the first few days but is now fine.
Something funny happened with my spring clothing shopping. I had a week or so of intense planning like I have each season since I’ve gotten into capsule wardrobes. I bought a new pair of jeans and then…despite finding some clothes that would be “nice to have,” I’ve decided all I really want is a new pair of sandals. I don’t have a full wardrobe still (I think my entire year’s wardrobe is at or around 35 pieces), but I finally felt good enough with what I already had. I’m sure that will shift again at some point, but for now it’s really refreshing.
Abigail C says
These are very good thoughts on shopping, life, and contentment. It’s definitely a good reminder for me. I’ve been trying to shrink and improve my wardrobe the past few months and stumbled on your blog in the process. I doubt I’ll ever have a capsule wardrobe, but I find your tips very inspiring and helpful.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the role shopping plays in my life and trying to brainstorm alternatives to it as a hobby, time killer, or mood booster. I haven’t come up with a lot yet- my schedule keeps me busy during normal hours so I find that all my free time is at odd hours when it’s hard to be productive. That’s part of the reason I started blogging, to find some community and pass my time without unnecessary shopping. I’ve come to the conclusion that this time in my life will not last forever, so my current pastimes with change as my life circumstances change. And that’s a comforting thought! Until then I have to focus on my larger goals, like saving money for a house and travel and remembering that clothes are great but they do not represent true happiness.
Thanks for sharing your reflections, they are so helpful!
Caroline, it was great meeting you at TxSC (I was the girl in the chacos). I really appreciated your perspective on negativity. I hadn’t thought about the little ways I let negativity in. Shopping can be one of those ways! I am really trying to make a conscious effort to stay away from negativity! Thank you again!
Your daily posts are so inspiring to me, Carolyn! I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe, but it is so difficult to let go of some of the items with which I am more emotionally attached. I must admit, I have been a shopping addict and this has put me into a difficult financial position. I can totally relate to your comments about choosing peace over the inner turmoil that I feel after overspending. SO…I have taken a break from shopping and bought Marie Kondo’s book on “the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and will be attempting to follow her guidance with my clothing and my LIFE! I do have a question, though…I am 61 years young, and although I feel like 30 inside, I realize that I need to pinpoint my personal style. Is there a blog or website out there that caters to those of us who are “mature in years, but still young on the inside”, as far as clothing, etc? I admire all the wonderful, talented women, who are reaching out and honestly sharing their thoughts and inner selves. Thanks again!
It doesn’t always work, but I search Pinterest for “50 and over”, or “60 and over” and sometimes I see things that really work!
Karen, Have you read “The Gardner’s Cottage”? Janet is on a similar path, at 50-something. Although she writes less now, I think you may find her previous posts interesting. http://thegardenerscottage.blogspot.com/
Une femme d’un certain age is a blog targeted to women who are 50+. I’m not there yet but I still check it out as I think she has some great ideas.
Thank you for this post today. It puts into words what I deal with and I loved your thoughts. For me there is often a turning point where shopping for new clothes (or anything really) turns from a fun enjoyable activity into something a little obsessive and stressy. I call it having the “uh-oh” feeling, like I know I don’t really need it and I am not even sure why I want it, so it gets me all in a knot.
So now I am going to think about how I want to feel. If I am thinking about buying something and it doesn’t feel 100% good and right then I need not do it.
Thank you for helping me think about this today. It was the perfect day for it.
Bronwyn, you put my thoughts into words! That “uh-oh” feeling is the worst and I’m also trying to think through my buying decisions in a different way.
Carolyn, thank you for your thoughts on shopping. It’s so helpful to me to hear someone else having the same thoughts and feelings about shopping. I have realized that I, too, use shopping for the rush but then feel awful later on. Being conscious of my actions has helped tame this quite a bit. I’ve put myself on a “no shopping” diet for the months of February and March. At first I didn’t think I could do it, but at the end of February I actually felt lighter and better about my life. I’m realizing that I don’t “need” to shop in order to feel good about myself and that feeling alone is life-changing.
When I get the urge to shop, I ask myself, “Do I really need this?” It helps me to reassess my things and my time.
How was my week? Well I missed you a lot, and I was counting the days to read you again… while you were not here I learned about #foodprepping and I prepared my food for the entire week on sunday, it was a big step to me and i am so proud of myself. About shopping or not I am trying to get a capsule wardrobe and I am spending the same quantity of money every month (since last month lol) even if i will only get one piece.
I love to see you back, read you later <3
I’ve been following your blog for a while now always thinking, “what a great idea! but not for me”…..that is until we moved. I realized how incredibly selfish I was in my closet and how I held my clothes with a higher standard then they should have been. I recently got rid of three trash bags worth (sold actually and used that money to buy closet staples to build a wardrobe and style) and have been reading all of your blog for outfit ideas and realizing how similar my style is to yours! With the exception of a few fun floral or pattern pieces (which used to be my whole closet, surprisingly b-o-r-i-n-g, as i became a fun top, jeans, shoes, that’s it gal, who wants to wear basically the same thing everyday? not me) But those fun tops were emotional purchases like you always talk about!
So, I’m here to say thanks, and I think my husband thanks you too, maybe one day we will both be able to fit our clothes in the same closet…..one day.
Victoria Ruble says
Hi! This is Victoria, I loved meeting you! How many times can I tell you that? Oops.
Anyway, thanks for giving me a new outlook on life. I’m going to actively cut out negativity and the urge to shop! I started simplifying as soon as I got back from CAMP. Let me just say one thing.. my husband thanks you ;)
Shawn W says
I am new to this capsule concept, and although we are almost a week into spring I am determined to figure this out. It is definitely a purge and rebirth- much like spring, but it has been downright challenging and overwhelming. I love the quote because it applies to so much in our lives. I find the more I become aware of negative energy I may be producing the more sensitive I am to the influences around me. Maybe it’s time to’purge more than my closet. As for shopping- will it contribute to or contaminate what you have worked so hard to create? So far that had been keeping me in check.
This is really so spot on…I need to transition from shopping sometimes to living…great post…
Super cute jean jacket!
That’s a good way to approach shopping, or not shopping, in this matter. I just ordered this same tshirt today earlier on Madewell.com. I’m trying to purge my closet now and just keep basic pieces and I love this simple but chic outfit. I have that same bag too!
I completely resonate with what you are saying. Once you are in “shopping mode” it can be hard to turn it off and shopping, while fun, sometimes leaves me with that feeling that I’ve just exhaled too fully–empty, like you said, rather than full. So, I like your intentional approach to it and your thoughts. They make me think more carefully, too.
I don’t really like shopping much either. It’s not very often that I find something I’m so excited about it puts me in a good mood the rest of the day. Usually I find shopping very frustrating because I can’t find what I like, especially this spring. I don’t like the trends going around like high waisted jeans and cropped shirts. Or sometimes I’ll find a shirt I do like but hate the fabric. Do you ever encounter that? So frustrating.
I am wondering, though, since you only select a few pieces to complete your capsule at a time, do you let go of price point or does it still factor in? I often wonder if I would have more success with ‘less is more’ if I opened up to shopping at pricier stores in hopes of finding something I’ll truly like. What do you think?
HI Jessica! I used to be all about fast fashion when I was in college because it was cheap and trendy, and then I would have zero qualms about parting with it after 2 wears, or tossing it when a hole appeared after 3 wears. Now I shop in pricier stores (Banana republic, Boden, etc) because their clothing is more my style. The upside, most of the time, is the quality is significantly better, so the clothes last longer. If you think about it, you may spend $25 on a white t-shirt, but it’s a tshirt that meets your requirements for quality/fabric/fit, instead of spending $25 across 4 t-shirts trying to find something you like, only to find out it’s not what you were looking for. You’ll own and wear it for a longer period of time, because it fits your needs.
Welcome back! Loving your spring capsule and looking forward to seeing how you mix it up!
To answer you question, the planning process of building a capsule wardrobe helps to curb my desire to shop. I find that if a have a set item I’m looking for, I’m not even tempted to shop or look at other items. And the process of having planned and honed in on something specific gives me a sense of accomplishment when I do shop and purchase the item.
This method allows me to keep the control versus being swept away on a whim or impulse to purchase which is where I think the emptiness comes from that you speak of- that moment when you feel you’ve been swindled again by clever marketing, a flash sale and shiny displays. :-)
Oh, this is so wonderful. “I consciously let myself be happy.” Yes! I’ve been practicing yoga lately, and am realizing how the ideas in yoga of checking in with your body, choosing the moves that feel good, totally apply to our minds as well. I’m really trying to bring more of this into my life. How am I feeling? Do I like it? If no, how can I change it? Thanks for your insight today, Caroline.
Thank you so much for this post! I really needed this today – went shopping for Spring and was feeling overwhelmed.
Love those shoes!
Thank you for this post. I am on my first capsule wardrobe this spring and while I’ve been very happy with the items and how it’s going, I can’t help my keep ‘window shopping’ online. I tell myself that I’m planning for future wardrobes, but that’s not the point. I need to STOP LOOKING. I completely agreed with you when you say that shopping leaves you antsy and feeling empty. Like something in my life is missing, when really, it’s not. It’s just a hole that was created because I went looking for it. I really needed this post today. Thank you again.
IMHO shopping in itself isn’t ‘bad’… it is essential to give yourself a treat (if shopping is what you like) as you’re worth it. Material goods don’t give a person his/her self-worth but if you’re able to not let the goods overtake your life then I think it’s worth investing in things that are going to boost your self image etc :)
Magdalena @ SELVA BEAT says
I have these shoes! Can’t wait to see how you style them this season. Glad you’re back!
I’m looking forward to more of your spring outfits. I can’t wait to see how you style the mint sweater! Just curious: how are you able to decide, shop and be happy with your purchases in just a few weeks? Are you a naturally decisive person? I am not!:-) so while I love the capsule idea, I’m having trouble picking what to get. I take forever to decide and almost always change my mind after the fact. I’ve narrowed down my style (I think) but wonder if maybe I can’t decide on things because my mind is still all over the place about what I truly like. Is it best to just make the decision, live with it, and note what needs changing next time? I will say I second guess a lot of things so doing a capsule wardrobe will help a ton!
Welcome back, Caroline! I don’t even like shopping, so I’m happy to have a structure where I only have to shop four times a year. Thank you for giving me that structure. :)
I have totally been experiencing this!! I am just finishing my first capsule and started buying for my second at the beginning of the month. I was very calculated- working from a specific list. But over the past few weeks I found myself picking up pieces here and there telling myself I’m buying for my summer capsule ;) Also I find I’m slipping back into my old (bad) online shopping habit. Just pulling up h&m on my phone and browsing when I’m bored. Your post was a great encouragement and reminder of why I got started on this journey in the first place.
And while I’m commenting – I just want to say thanks for all you do. I love your attitude and heart behind the capsule. Simple living is so trendy right now but I appreciate how you dig deeper into the why. It is the stuff I have been thinking into head for the past year but articulated so well! Thank you!!!
I recently discovered your blog. I love your capsules, but most of all your honesty! I recently lost enough weight that I no longer fit into any of my pants. Shopping for all new pants was agonizing. It should have been fun, but it was stressful! So I made a capsule of 30 pieces I already owned (plus the new pants) to try for 30 days. I downloaded a closet/wardrobe app to plan outfits. I put all my other clothes in another closet. It is wonderful! I love, love, love the clutter free closet! If this goes well, I plan to try a 3 month capsule.
“How is this going to make me feel?” So simple, yet so empowering. Thank you!
Britt Nicole says
Love how you describe this. Much rather let peace and true happiness in!
I just want to let you know that you have been a huge inspiration for me in the past 6 weeks or so since I discovered your blog. I have been wanting to find a more cohesive style that represents who I am while also downsizing. I have toyed around with the “French Wardrobe” and the “25 piece closet” etc, etc. While very good ideas, there was never really an implementation plan that made sense to me and not my room for inserting my personality. Since making the commitment to begin the capsule journey I have purged about 75% of my wardrobe. Very exciting! I have worked hard on finding my style, what represents my life at this moment and how I want to be perceived by others. I can’t wait to start breaking out my new pieces next week and I’ve already been playing around with how I’m going to style things. I finished purchasing my last 2 pieces yesterday and it’s crazy to think about not shopping for the next 2+ months. I’m going to have so much free time!! Thank you for your wise words and when I get the shopping bug I will remember to focus on letting in the positive and rejecting the negative. Here’s to many more capsule wardrobes in the future!
Emma Liston says
I so agree with you Caroline! Shopping is exactly the same for me- it’s “fun” but is super stressful, and at the end of the day I wonder if I really got any peace for it. LOL. I’m so glad you actually analyze what you do and why you do it- that’s what a lot of people miss. I’m an introvert, so part of the shopping problem is that I’m around people when I’m shopping and somehow it makes me anxious or stressed out- only when I’ve been out all day! By the end I’m glad to be home :) I wonder if this might be something that is part of your unrest? I don’t know, you seem like an extrovert to me, but I was just thinking :) Thank you for posting this!!
oh i am having a heck of a time. i had a really crappy week and bought 3 items that i wasn’t “supposed” to. i honestly don’t regret it, but i definitely had to get my head right to kind of start fresh. it’s a tough transition! every time! <3
I really like this idea of feeling empty vs feeling filled up. For me, when I’m done planning my capsule I make a list of 20-30 things I want to do or accomplish within that season: some things are small, like go to a baseball game or read an anthology of women’s poetry, and some are larger like set aside enough money to cover my health insurance while I’m laid off for the summer. That way I have a plan in place. I know Caroline posted about staying content last year, but I thought it was worth repeating.
I meant to comment last week when I read this post. I love this idea of stopping and asking if something is “filling me up.” I love clothes. I truly do. But there comes a point where the consumption of more just consumes energy. Positive energy. “I’d rather invite peace into my life.”
I have the same issue – that lull after planning a capsule, doing the shopping, and then…not. Feels like a bit of a buzzkill, no?
I’ve been reading your blog for sometime now. In May, I will be planning my 3rd capsule (summer) this year (and being a Texas gal myself, I have plenty of summer clothing, so my goal is to purchase only 1 pair of shorts.) That means essentially, no shopping from January-August! Phew! I feel a little pathetic writing that. Sheesh. How many people in the world never shop at all? 1st world problems,
And speaking of 1st world problems, I was wondering, do you give much thought to who makes your clothing? As in, the impact they have on their workers? Or the environment? This has been a toughie for me, and I would love if you were able to address it in your blog. My style, if I had to sum it up, would be Anthropologie. But, according to goodguides, a website (where you can see how socially and environmentally responsible a company is) Anthropologie is doing a very poor job. Which means they could be responsible, at least in part, for another Bangledesh-type disaster. Which means, by purchasing from them, I too could be responsible.
A lot of the reason I started capsuling was to avoid doing more harm to others. If I consume less, then perhaps I can consume “better”. And maybe make decisions that are better for the people my purchasing power affects. But, I am having trouble reconciling my own personal style and company ethics. Thoughts?