In 8 days, something exciting is happening!
My friend and original capsule wardrobe inspiration, Anuschka Rees of Into Mind, is releasing her first book The Curated Closet.
I got the chance to read it, and it’s the handbook to discovering your personal style, building your dream wardrobe, and shopping well.
Anuschka’s tone is especially refreshing. She’s detailed and thorough, and relaxed and fun. Her vibe throughout the book reminds us that we aren’t just this or that — we’re a little bit of both and we should celebrate that.
Here’s a little sneak peek of her book, including four of my favorite quotes from The Curated Closet and what I learned from each one.
1 / Minimalism isn’t a numbers game
“Minimalism isn’t a numbers game. It’s not about owning or doing as little as possible. It’s about owning and doing the right things, things that add value to your life. Minimalism is all about that little bit of extra intention and making conscious choices.”
It’s funny, I used to be all about the numbers. Does the number 37 ring a bell? :)
For a while, limiting my closet to a specific number was helpful and healthy. I think it can be a good starting point for anyone.
But the heart of minimalism isn’t about numbers. It’s about shedding the things that don’t enrich our lives to make space for the things that do.
2 / Being fashionable is optional
“One of my biggest style related pet peeves is the idea of “keeping up with fashion.”
It suggests that the key to dressing well is following the rules and wearing whichever trends and must-haves the fashion world is prescribing that season, regardless of whether we actually like them or not.
But here’s what I’ve learned: Being fashionable is totally optional.”
It’s optional. Doesn’t that make you want to breathe a sigh of relief?
Then, Anuschka goes on to give us a real world example by comparing fashion and music:
“You wouldn’t make yourself listen to songs all day just because they are at the top of the charts right now or because a “hip” person told you to, right? Of course not; you listen to music that you like. And that’s exactly what it should be like with fashion as well.”
As a person who claims “making playlists” as one of my hobbies, this idea instantly clicked with me.
I listen to music I like. Sometimes it’s on the top 100 chats (Taylor Swift and Drake), sometimes it’s way off the beaten path (Purity Ring and Phaeleh), sometimes it’s from another era (James Taylor and Cat Stevens), and sometimes it’s kind of embarrassing (can I just leave this one blank?).
But, no matter what, I always listen to music that brings me joy, whether it’s in or not.
I like the idea of approaching my closet with the same attitude.
3 / Like everything in life, styling takes practice
“Anyone can learn to [style] and you don’t have to be born with a natural talent for it. But you also cannot expect to be great at styling without putting in any effort at all. It takes time to figure out which types of pieces work best for your lifestyle and to curate a versatile wardrobe.”
Like I mentioned in my Fall Style Series post, I’m living this out right now. Cold weather dressing doesn’t come easily to me. But that doesn’t mean I can’t get better with a little practice.
4 / Keep evolving
“Here’s the thing: Not even the most carefully curated wardrobe is ever 100 percent done. Your life isn’t static, and neither is your personal style. A great closet is one that can grow and evolve alongside you, your style, and your life.”
• • •
The Curated Closet is full of gems, like how to make the most of your budget, how to shop consciously, and how to assess the quality of a garment.
There’s also a cheat sheet of questions to help you figure out when to buy and when to keep looking — I’ve referred back to it many times as I’m getting ready to make some fall purchases.
You can preorder The Curated Closet right here. (And you should definitely be following Anuschka on Instagram and on her blog Into Mind!)
Your turn! These quotes get my juices flowing, so let’s talk: If you’re into minimalism, what does it look like in your own life? Has your definition of minimalism changed over time? Did that fashion/music comparison blow your mind, too? Do you have any practical tips on letting your closet evolve over time?
• • •
01 | Vest (old) | similar
02 | Black tank (old) | similar (made in USA)
03 | Jeans by Rag and Bone (made in USA) / similar by Mott and Bow (made responsibly)
05 | Bag gifted by ONA | similar (made responsibly)
06 | Necklace in Yellow Raw Diamond by Julia Szendrei (handmade in USA)
07 | Bracelet by Moulton (handmade in USA)
• • •
(Quotes reprinted from THE CURATED CLOSET Copyright (c) 2016 by Anuschka Rees. To be published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, on September 20.)
As always, another helpful article! I’m curious how you approach items you wear so often that they are rags within a few months. I love soft, light, flowy tops, and they simply do not hold up, regardless of how high or low quality I purchase. I rarely even wash them, yet they still seem made for just a few wears and not a capsule wardrobe which warrants TONS of use. Help!
Hi Anne-Michelle, Yes, I understand that heartbreak! I had a similar experience with my awesome J. Crew white tank top that got ruined after just one summer of wear. It totally bummed me out, because of course I want these pieces to last. But I had to make the decision that white, delicate fabrics are not conducive to my lifestyle. And I won’t be purchasing them in the future. So maybe, as much as I know you love these light, flowy tops, you can consider finding alternative fabrics/silhouettes that work for you? Just thinking in practicality terms. Wish I could be more help… You’ll have to let me know if you find something different that you like. :) xo, Caroline
Anne-Michelle, I was having this problem too, and I realized it was just the quality of fabrics I was buying that weren’t holding up! Since I’ve shifted my focus to buying silks and soft linens instead of polyester, I’ve found they wear for a lot longer but still allow for that flowy silhouette. It might mean a bit more money up front, but you truly get what you pay for. And you can always buy thrift.
(I know Caroline covered most o this above — just wanted to add my vote of encouragement!) :)
Thanks Rachel! Nice to hear from someone who’s been there! :) xo, Caroline
This always happens to me as well, with the kind of tank tops I like. I recently started wondering if there is a way to choose them in such a way that the style of them will look even better as they wear down? (You know — like how distressed jeans look great ripped and torn.) I haven’t come up with a solution. I feel like it’s out there. (Maybe…probably. Right?) I can feel it on the tip of my mind, like a lightbulb about to turn on, like a paradigm shift echoing from the future into the past. Or something.
Nice interstellar reference! I’m sure you’ll find the material that can do that. There are so many fabric blends out there. :)
I just wanted to mention to Caroline (and all of you) a solution for the “too hot outside, too cold A/C” problem. I have a few scarves that I really love — most of them are long rectangles around two feet wide and quite long. Some are infinity scarves.
The solution: wear them loosely around your neck when it’s warm; wear a light-coloured one as a loose headscarf when it’s hot; tie them around the handle of your bag when it’s sweltering; and wear them wrapped around your shoulders when it’s cool! This works great for me because I own lighter and heavier scarves. Even the lightest scarf will give you a nice insulating pocket of air in strong A/C!
Maybe items made of bamboo or hemp that get softer and softer through use. I have a few items that have that message as a promise on the label.
One my biggest excuses for not being more minimal is every time I have a favorite piece of clothing get ruined. Do you ever get quite heartbroken over things like that?
Our town water bleaches clothing and there have been numerous water studies with no solutions.
Makes it hard to wear the stuff I fall in love with.
I have totally been there. As we speak I have a dress I love at home with a bike grease stain that won’t come out even after I took it to a dry cleaners. I am so sad, but I am grateful I got that dress so now I know a new silhouette that looks great on me. Replacing an old or stained item also creates such a specific shopping list for when I have enough money set aside.
Amelia, that’s a great way to look at it. At least you know what you love the next time you see it! :) xo, Caroline
Missy Yanchuck says
Amelia, I have saved several pieces stained with grease by using the Blue Dawn dishsoap! Work into the stained area dampened, let it sit for an hour or so, handrinse or run through the wash. What do you have to lose?
Oh yes, of course I understand that feeling. So much so, I even talked about how I sometimes get caught up saving clothing, as to not mess them up (http://www.un-fancy.com/outfits/summer-outfits/lightning-round-catch-up-session-clogs-overalls-ig-stories-and-my-style-shift/).
But I’m trying to look at it differently (it’s hard!) I figure it’s better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all! ;) But really, clothes are meant to be worn so I’m trying to do just that. And if they get ruined in the process, then they’ve lived their purpose. :)
Caroline, my library has The Curated Closet on order, and I am 4th in line to check it out. :)
lazy daisy jones says
Love that bag ! The book sounds realistic and acheivable I will look out for it x
Mireia from TGL
Oh my goodness does number one ever ring true to me right now. (!!!) I decided “let go’ of my capsule this season because I felt like I was becoming obsessive about the numbers! And of course I love all of the other sentiments you’ve mentioned — can never be reminded enough of these things. :)
I cannot wait to read this book, Anuschka (and her blog) remains a huge inspiration for me. Thanks for sharing this sneak peek lady! ;)
Hey Laura! Isn’t it exciting? She’s so awesome. And I’m glad I’m not the only one “letting go” of the rules a bit. I think I needed them to start, and learn what was important to me. Now I know myself and what I like so much better! Glad you’re finding what works for you too :) xo, Caroline
Carol Woodfin says
Must have: ankle length black skirt. Mine is polyester, which I don’t usually like, but this skirt is completely wrinkle free. It’s also lightweight. It can be dressed up or down. Add a sparkly blouse and it even works for evening dress up. Summer: wear with bright colored tank tops. Winter: layer. It works great with tunic length tops, or short length blouses. Tucked in shirts not so great, but OK.
It is loose fitting but still looks very straight and slim. I’ve had it for 15 years! Purchased at Target I think. Maybe $20. I have another one (not as good) waiting in the wings for when this one wears out. I’m always on the lookout for similar skirts. I probably could sew one.
I love the music comparison. My playlists and my closet do have something in common. A few choices that are current and popular, a core group of choices that are “my thing”, and some vintage choices that have stood the test of time.
Okay… THIS blew my mind! I always create seasonal playlists along with my four capsules, and now I’m wondering how many parallels I could draw between them!! Definitely with you on the vintage favorites — both music and wardrobe-wise. :)
Love this post! Very inspiring! Thank you Caroline <3
For me, at first, minimalism (in style and otherwise) was about the rules or procedures. The numbers and step by step instructions were really helpful for me – they kept me from getting distracted or overwhelmed in the process. It helped simplify things. Now that I’ve been living it for about a year, I’m sick of the rules. Minimalism for me now is a mindset and a way of life, not a set of rules. My minimalism looks different from others’ and also from my own version of minimalism from this time last year. It’s helped me discover my values and also the things I still have to work on. PS. I love Anuschka’s blog and was curious about the book – happy to hear a positive review from my favorite style blogger!
Hey Stacy! I think that’s a very common theme throughout, the numbers get a little overbearing. I’m glad you found what is working for you! :) xo, Caroline
I love this outfit! Love the ivory-black-cognac combo. I have had on my list for a long time more ivory pieces ever since noticing this would really help my overly black/gray/white selection of tops. Especially in fall when ivory helps to warm things up, plus ivory is kind of the link that allows black and cognac to fit together (to me), and I love ivory + gray too.
I have heavy ivory wool sweaters/cardis for winter that I love. Once up a time I would have called that good, not thinking about the fact that I could use *something* in ivory for every season. Now that I am much more aware of what I’m doing (thanks to you!), I realize that I would like to have a mid-weight cotton/linen cardi for fall and a vest like yours for warm weather, then I can keep recycling the same formula year round with the clothes I have. I haven’t found the right pieces yet…still looking…..
As for the book, I am someone who has commented before that I look forward to feeling like my wardrobe is “done” – so that I can stop focusing on building it and start focusing on maintaining and refining it. But I know it really won’t ever be done! Just more done that it is now. And I so appreciate that fashion is optional! :)
Hey Lynn – haha I get what you’re saying about wanting it to be DONE! It’s always a work in progress, just continue to be being mindful and intentional on the journey. I think it gets easier. :) xo, Caroline
Into Mind was a game-changer for me and my wardrobe. Always good to have a reminder of what it’s really about. Can’t wait to read the book!
Alyssa! Isn’t it exciting?! :) xo, Caroline
I am trying not to let the clutter enter my wardrobe or house. I don’t worry about existing pieces – they may get infrequent wear but that is fine if they are loved or very useful even only once or twice a year. But moving forward I am trying to get it right – choosing pieces that WILL wear, that have longevity, and that work for my real life. If I wear it out, and it has lasted a decent period (two seasons for most things) I am pleased – my goal is to wear my clothes until they wear out. I get annoyed with myself if I buy something too flimsy or something that I tire of very quickly. I have made two of these mistakes this year.
Hey Sally, it happens to the best of us, that’s for sure! Good luck on the journey and finding those perfect pieces! :) xo, Caroline
Love your continually growing and dynamic perspective. Thanks for great insights, making me think of being more intentional, and for being so “real.”
Pam! Aaahh! You’re so sweet. Thanks for the support :) xo, Caroline
It was great to hear that minimalism isn’t about numbers. And the analogy of music was great, too! I hear you about rules. In the beginning rules help you get started. Then you can bend them to fit your needs. I went straight to amazon and ordered the book, cannot wait to get it. Caroline, had no idea you were in French Elle! Go you! Congratulations! (don’t know why my surface types all in caps, so sorry!)
Thanks Michele!! I hope you love the book as much as I did :) xo, Caroline
I think the structured capsule thing is great for when you’ve accumulated a bunch of clothes that you don’t wear and you don’t have enough that you do wear. Going through that process for a year or so really helped me transform my wardrobe. Also, since I don’t have unlimited storage space, I did eventually have to come up with some numbers for total pieces I can own. But that’s just me. I’m very left-brained that way. :)
Hey Carol! Yes, I agree that the capsule concept is a great process for paring down the items in your wardrobe. Once you kind of get the hang of it, things get easier from there. :) xo, Caroline
I usually say that I’m an aspiring minimalist because I’m not quite where I want to be yet. I don’t get bogged down in “rules” because I’m not in this to be part of a group. I’m just in it to make my own life that works for me. Sometimes I call it “minimalis(h)m”. Exploring the capsule wardrobe concept has fed into this nicely, but I’ve never limited myself to a certain number of items. I try to keep it value based, not rule based. It’s more about mindfulness than about being able to say, “I’m a minimalist because I meet this set of prescribed requirements.” What this translates into in a practical sense is mindfulness and impulse control. My resultant wardrobe is one that is uniquely me, that fits who I am and what I need, that can’t be purchased and mimicked in one fell swoop by anyone. Interestingly enough, most of what I have can usually be tweaked and restyled to embrace whatever current fashion trends catch my eye. It’s always hard when a piece of clothing that has been a long-term part of my personal style wears out. I’ve been experiencing that a lot lately because so much of my stuff is now 10 years old. I don’t worry about replacing that one thing in kind, though, because those things can never be replaced. It just becomes time to again go through a mindfulness exercise and choose something that fits well into my life and my closet. It’s a chance to grow and explore new style ideas, rather than cling to the past. I guess that’s my practical advice – let go and move forward, slowly and deliberately. Be true to yourself, including your current self!
Hi Kim! Wow! I love the way you phrased all of it. Minimalis(h)m, mindfulness, impulse control. And I love that you don’t try to “replace” your worn out clothes, but you instead choose something new because it will fit in with your wardrobe. I feel that way too, when something doesn’t quite work out (like a white tank top) I won’t go out and buy another one. I’ll try to look at it as a learning experience and find something else that will work better. Thanks for sharing your perspective! :) xo, Caroline
Well said, Kim! I love your term “minimalis(h)m”, I can totally relate to it! I am going to borrow it to describe my approach as well:) Best wishes in your journey!
I love the quote about how being fashionable is optional. What a powerful perspective. Thanks for sharing!
^ This doesn’t mean I never fall off the wagon. It seems like every couple of years I go a little crazy and buy a dozen or more new things because I’m trying something out. It never goes well, and I always regret it. I’m getting better as I get older, though.
The bit about music totally resonated with me! Perfect way to explain fashion! I’m new to minimalism but your blog has been a great help! Im sure Into Mind will be as well!! Thanks for sharing!
Recently I had a little epiphany about how minimalism needs to work for me, not the other way around. Case in point: if having two sweater drawers (in a northern climate where sweaters are year-round-wear) makes me happy, but always trying to figure out which sweaters (that I genuinely love) I should cull just to make them fit into my arbitrary one drawer goal makes me stressed and anxious, for crying out loud, I should just keep my two drawers full of sweaters that I genuinely love and wear often! I’m sure this looks different to every person, but bottom line is: “minimalism” is supposed to make my life better, more free, less stressed. If “minimalism” actually is making me way more anxious and stressed out than I used to be as I try to force my life into an arbitrary, illogical box, I need to change my viewpoint. I’m a list-making, rule-following, box-ticking kind of girl who just needs to chill about this whole thing! Be chill and intentional. That’s the plan.
Oh Ladylyn, I love your epiphany! Minimalism should work for you. I’m so glad you found a stress-free way to do that. Exciting! :) xo, Caroline
Tanya E says
I live in a northern climate too and have different knitwear (sweaters) for different seasons. Very light, thin knits in cotton or linen for summer, fine knit merino or cashmere for spring or autumn and thicker, warmer ones for proper cold weather. I do the same with scarves too. I put away the out of season ones, so I do only have one drawer as the rest are stored away.
I’m not perfect as I bought 2 brightly coloured fine knit jumpers for spring that were just too bright for me. One of which I’ve already dyed navy :)
Wow, great tips! Can’t wait to get my hands on this book! Thanks for sharing, Caroline! :)
Shilo mono Top says
Love your styling, the jeans and the vest are adorable. You look great on them. Thank you for sharing the article, I can’t wait to have a copy of that book.
Marie Therese says
Thanks for introducing me to Anushka Rees. I don’t think I’ve ever heard/seen her online, and what you shared is right up my alley. I love this realistic, balanced approach to minimalism and fashion. Thanks, Caroline!
Being fashionable is optional. I totally need to lean in on that.
I already preordered my copy and I’m so excited! I’m like a little kid waiting for Christmas. I can’t wait to read all her advice and put together my version of a capsule wardrobe. For the first time ever, I’m hoping to put together a plan for a wardrobe that works in my real life!
Ooh, I love Anuschka’s blog! Can’t wait for The Curated Closet.
I had that “minimalism isn’t abouy numbers” revelation not too long ago. I used to think I’d never “succeed” at minimalism because I’m not one for an ascetic lifestyle, but even though I could do with purging my belongings a bit more I’m getting pretty good at being intentional about what I buy.
Nicola, I think that’s really the most important part of it. Being intentional rather than just purchasing everything that advertisers and retailers tell us we should have. :) xo, Caroline
I am a creative type. My biggest challenge is to resist the temptation during shopping, especially when there are so many creative and shining objects in the oversea stores :) But I love love to become a minimalist, really wish I could have more time for other things I cared about in life.
Great post! Creating ca curated capsule collection will make getting dresses and creating outfits so much easier because you have pieces that all work together.
I love the idea of a capsule wardobe! In the past few months I’ve really cut down on clothes that I don’t love. But I still can’t quite get down to 37. Like for example I own about 10 (maybe more) pairs of shoes and I wear them all on a reguler basis. And after my closet downsize i have much less clothes and I’m only left with favorite pieces I wear all the time. If it’s not quite 37 pieces but it’s still intentional, am I still even doing it right?
Yes Heather! 100%!! I mean don’t get too caught up in doing it “right”. Make it work for you. Sounds like you’re making the effort and that’s what matters. :) xo, Caroline
I’m so excited for this book! Thanks for sharing a little sneak peak of it. I recently gave my sister my copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and I can totally see this book being one to pass along as well (once I educate myself, of course) :)
Well here are some great tips. I never compared fashion trends to music but it is so true. Didn’t Coco Chanel say: ‘La mode se démode, le style jamais?’ This is a really helpful tip that I will keep in mind.
That book seems really interesting and full of advice. I’m considering buying it.
Renaud | http://xxmuchlove.blogspot.com
I’ve been following her for years! She’s actually how I ended up finding your blog! So excited, thanks for sharing!
Just wanted to share this app! It’s free and I’ve been starting to use it for my closet to track my most used pieces. If you actually assign your outfits to the calendar provided, it provides you with stats to see your most used pieces! I’m working on a school wardrobe capsule for the first time and this app is really helpful:
I personally love pieces that I can wear as more than one look. Like a dress that can be worn several different ways.
Andrea Handojo says
Wow! I would love to read that book too. So many great tips. I used to just fill my closet with things that were trendy and the year after I would ask myself, “Why did I buy this?” I’ve been trying to make more conscious purchases and only buying things that I can see myself wearing for years. I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe wear it’s easy to mix and match everything, while still looking chic :)
Hi! I recently discovered your blog as I was googling capsule wardrobes, and I really enjoy your notes and insights. To me, the idea of minimalism and “making room for what matters” has a lot to do with acceptance: rather than fight against my body shape and cling to clothes that might have once worked (or perhaps, clothes I used to fool myself into believing worked), life is so much better when I love my body and chuck out anything that doesn’t do it justice. When I’m focused and look at myself realistically, I can choose outfits that accentuate my body’s strong suits and conceal their weaker qualities without judgment. I’ll keep your ideas in mind as I prepare to do a purge. Happy fall!
Yardenne, thanks for the comment. I love your attitude of making room for what matters and finding what works best for YOU. Perfect way of looking at minimalism! :) xo, Caroline
Sounds like an interesting read! Definitely agree with minimalism being about intentionality and consciousness.
Jen | affecionada
Dying clothing is a great way to get more wear out of a piece that is stained or a is a color you no longer wear. It is a hit or miss process, but it’s inexpensive and a lot of fun when you have nothing to lose. I had great luck this year with cotton + natural indigo dye, and saved a beautiful but stained handmade shirt from the garbage bin. It’s worth a shot!
Hi Jane! I love it! That’s so exciting when those experiments work out. :) xo, Caroline
Also, I love how those brown booties are aging beautifully! I remember them from way back on the blog!
Caroline, Thank you for this post! I have been loving learning from you. I find that your observations and recommendations feel so “spot on” in terms of where I am in my own journey paring down a wardrobe. From this post I especially liked the suggestion from Anuschka about fashion being optional. That’s so easy to forget when we’re bombarded with images and messages that emphasize what’s new/cool/slightly different from last season.
I’m curious- do you look for vintage or thrifted clothes? I tend to shop thrift stores first (for financial and sustainability reasons) and would love to hear your suggestions for doing so!
Thanks for being you, through and through,
Hi Catherine! What a sweet comment, thank you :) I do thrift occasionally, but I have a hard time keeping focus! I actually wrote a post about it here: http://www.un-fancy.com/outfits/winter-outfits/on-secondhand-shopping-how-to-roll-your-jeans/
I think thrifting is a fantastic way to find unique pieces that work with a budget AND help the planet. Can’t really go wrong. Enjoy it! :) xo, Caroline
Great tips!!! And your booties are perfect!!
Hi! I must say that I am a beginner for capsule and not gold at obeying the rules about numbers. But for me at least -for now- the idea of using your mind during shopping is exiting!
Amanda katherine says
So excited to read this book! I’ve experimented with capsule wardrobes for about a year and loved the results so much, I decided to apply the same concepts to my home. I struggled to decorate my home and be “satisfied” with it for years, but since I’ve applied a few simple concepts I have a much better outlook and a clearer vision of what I like and should buy. You can read more about my simple system for decorating your home here http://bit.ly/2cLIrCl
I’ve read your blog since the beginning and, as much as I enjoyed the daily outfit posts, this post is my favorite. I just had a baby (so excuse typos as I type one-handed) and am starting to think anew about my closet. Nothing like a forced hiatus from my pre-maternity clothes to make me try everything on again, decide what I want to keep, and consider my future style.
Enjoyed your perspective on Anuschka’s book–your takeaways are so helpful and I look forward to reading her book and blog.
P.S. Currently listening to your “Feel Good Fall” playlist and it’s perfect. :)
Thanks for your helpful review of the ‘Curated Closet”. I am going to add it to my Santa list ?.
I was reading the comments about floaty white tops – which I too love. I have accepted that I may only get half a summer out of them (in Sydney we have a pretty gorgeous climate so they can be worn 5-6 months of the year).
My solution is to dye them. I just popped 3 cotton tops/tees from last summer in a bucket of dye over the weekend. They are now a French navy. One will be worn out and about in its new hue and the others were home/bed tops anyway. The fabric is deliciously soft but they were starting to yellow around the neckline (from sunscreen). The dye has covered the yellowing and they will be great for sleeping in – or messy home tasks!
My really marked old white tees become cleaning cloths – yes so ‘old school’ but they are lint free and dry in a flash.
Love your blog!
Have a fab week ?
So, this is a long shot, but I am OBSESSED with this button down tank! Any chance you can tell me what brand it is so I can try to find one on Ebay or Poshmark? That would be amazing…
Ha! I came across your blog after starting to read The Curated Closet which was gifted to me! :) (love that thanksgiving outfit!) Really enjoying this journey and it feels liberating to hone my own sense of style and appreciate but not feel a need to purchase items that fall outside of it.