Category: Humor

A Summer Capsule Wardrobe: The List

“Anyone can get dressed up and glamorous, but it is how people dress in their days off that are the most intriguing.”
—Alexander Wang

So, capsule wardrobes. The internet is awash in content about it and recommendations on how to do it about. Some people encourage as part of a minimalist lifestyle (a worthy goal that holds zero appeal for me, an unrepentant maximalist), some people as a way to push a reset button when it comes to style or consumerism (which I think is a great idea on the whole). Books have been written about this stuff.

I ignored most of it. My intentions were not lofty but deeply practical. The major desired outcomes were ticking a box on a goal list, and finding a way to begin packing now for a move that wasn’t happening for another month and a half. Any added benefits such as a reduction in stress or faff when getting out the door in the morning were gravy, as far as I was concerned.

The only advice I followed, which seemed fundamentally sound was simple: have a color palette. The idea was that if everything came from the same general grouping of colors, the chances of everything matching one another and creating easy outfits was much higher. Blue and white together are one of my favorite color combinations generally and especially for summer, so I chose that with black and green (my other favorite mix) thrown in for variety.

I was most dubious about this idea working with workwear, notoriously tricky at the best of times and hugely intimidating for a London summer where we might legitimately experience all four seasons in a single week (if not day!), but thus far it’s working great. I’m getting use out of my investment pieces and have enough basic, mix-and-match items to deal with the variance in temperatures, sun, and wet.

Some people include shoes or accessories in the list of items, but I couldn’t be bothered with that, nor did I see any point in listing items like sleepwear, activewear, or other specialty items. My list didn’t include items for my brother’s wedding, for instance, or the t-shirts I often sleep in (usually purloined from Jeff…). The only rule I gave myself, plucked more or less from thin area, was to try and restrict myself to 20 core items.

Notwithstanding the general laissez-faire and last minute approach to this project, I’m still a bit surprised that the first month of this project has sort of just whizzed by. This indicates to me that I still have too many clothes (which is not news), but also that my general project towards overall wardrobe streamlining is working. For a while in my 20s, when I was still deciding who I wanted to be and how I wanted to dress, I had a lot of things that would never have gone together no matter how hard I tried. These days, the mix between reliable basics and statement, personality pieces feels correct and more like “me.”

Without further ado, this is what my two month capsule looks like:

Tops (11)

  • White silk button up shirt (Everlane)
  • White silk button up sleeveless top (Everlane)
  • White silk tank top (Everlane)
  • Black sleeveless top
  • Black silk button up shirt (Everlane)
  • Blue and white polka dot silk shirt (Sezanne)
  • Blue cotton button up (GAP)
  • White linen shirt (found at a street market in Italy)
  • White t-shirt (Everlane)
  • Green cotton tank top (GAP)
  • Green and print silk button up shirt (& Other Stories)

Bottoms (5)

  • Black trousers (no clue)
  • Light blue jeans (Glassworks)
  • White jeans (GAP)
  • Navy pencil skirt (J Crew)
  • Navy shorts (GAP)

Other (4)

  • Black short sleeved work dress (MM LaFleur)
  • Navy sleeveless work dress (MM LaFleur)
  • Black and white print casual dress (J Crew)
  • White linen blazer (J Crew)

I’ll check in at the end of August and let you know how the project turns out, but I’m curious! If you have done a capsule, what did it look like? How did you build it? What were your rules, and why?

A Summer Capsule Wardrobe: The Background

“Clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them.”
—Marc Jacobs

Alright, we’re doing this. We pulled the plug and we’re moving apartments at the end of the summer. We have a lovely relationship with our current landlord, and truly love our current address, but when doing some mutual goal setting we just couldn’t deny how much money we could save if we changed our circumstances and the inconvenience of moving did not outweigh that number.

I’ve written about this before, but I love the cleansing process that goes into moving. It’s psychologically freeing. Growing up, every two or three years, I got the chance to “start over” in some way, in a new place with a clean slate. It’s not a perfect process and you eventually learn what’s indelible in your personality after a few moves, but the process was really formulative for me personally. It also gave me a much cleaner perspective on “stuff” by having to evaluate what was coming with you to a new city or country and what would literally left behind.

It also made me a damn effective and ruthlessly efficient mover. It should surprise none of you to hear that having made this decision, I am afire with Type A energy to prepare for this move. Bolstered by a military brat’s encyclopedic knowledge on the subject of packing and household transfers, Things. Are. In. Motion.

Currently there is a list of items that need to be thrown away or sold (farewell ironing board we have almost never used, you were purchased with good but flawed intentions). I’m starting to go through cabinets and cupboards for things that need to be eaten; no hidden hoard of dried pasta or canned beans is safe from this ruthless hunt. A large batch of chili has already been consumed with many more to come due to the sheer backlog of ingredients I’ve managed to unearth. I haven’t yet tacked that monstrosity of disuse that is our electronics drawer (or in our case, basket) but that’s on the To Do list.

And of course, both our wardrobes continue to be under review. Lest you think I’m the only clotheshorse in this family, Jeff is going through his stuff (with particular emphasis on work shirts) to evaluate what’s hopelessly stained or damaged and needs to go. The man appreciates his fashion just as much as me! We’ve both got items that have been gifted to us that we’re donating, we’re both going through the proverbial underwear and sock drawers to get rid of worn items, and just generally continuing to assess with a critical eye. I’m delighted with the overall state of my wardrobe, as I’ve written, but am still taking the chance to set aside some items to pass to my sister when we see her at the family wedding next month.

I was searching online for some plastic tubs for packing (as most of our prospective new apartments will have some kind of storage space – currently a major gap in our housing situation) when I had a bit of a brainwave. One of my projects is to do a couple of capsule wardrobes. What if I did that in preparation for the move and save myself a lot of hassle by simply packing everything else up?

In other words, what better time to start a new personal project, than in a ridiculously overbusy and crowded time where my stress will already be at a maximum!

Joking aside, I did it. I created a 20 item list, excluding occasion wear, athletic gear, and basic accessories, and decided I was only going to wear those items for two months: July and August. I was a bit hesitant to write about it until I was sure I could get the hang of it, but I’m nearly one month in…and it’s been fantastic.

So that’s what we’re going to talk about this week, kittens. In the next post I’ll go through the list itself, what I chose, how I chose them, and why. In the meantime, if you’ve ever tried this trend, how did it work for you? Let me know in the comments!

Weekend Links

“No one loves the messenger who brings bad news.” 
― Sophocles, Antigone

Well, we made it to another Friday, kittens. What a dumpster fire of a week.

I’m posting this early because to say I’m in the mood to log off for a day or two is an understatement.

Here is a nice batch of weekend reading to get you through until Monday–and yes, there are good stories in here too! We’ve got 90s throwbacks and weird trailers, plus a nice mash of history and spacesuits. Check in in the comments!

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Truly we live in the darkest timeline. Of course a Brexit party boss is in bed (literally) with the writer of the story that took out Britain’s ambassador to the US. Of COURSE he is.

President Trump made and then doubled down on racist comments and went unchecked by…anybody. His staunchest supports have a new racist campaign chant aimed at (what else?) women in power who he hates and has chosen to make a foil. He’s floated hideous conspiracy theories about Congresswoman Omar that come from the grossest internet corners (including ties to terrorism and incest) and may very well incite actions with his speech that harms her or gets her killed. Tweets from the left are not enough in response and the near-total silence from the right (interspersed with actual statements from Neo Nazis, to which I will not link, about how his comments don’t go far enough) are deafening. No mealy mouthed attempt to walk it back, contrary to video evidence, cuts it. Especially when he immediately walked back the walk back…AS HE ALWAYS DOES.

Well, I feel a little bit better.

The president of the Unite States is racist. This is a matter of long documented, publicly available fact. (Some publications hesitate to use this word the way the do the word “lie,” and I’m not sure history is going to look kindly on the decision.)

have we found Captain America? We need him!

Do let’s talk about this, both as an incident and as a wider phenomenon.

The deep dive I never knew I needed.

What an absolutely gripping read.

Why yes, I AM interested in fashion for space.

This piece on the President’s racist comments feels unfortunately right. Trump understands that there are many different Americas, what makes him unique is that rather than trying to appeal to many of them simultaneously, he’s picked his preferred version and caters only to it and the people who share that worldview. He’s betting it’s enough to keep him in power, Republicans are betting the same with a slightly longer timeline. I personally don’t think it’s a sound bet unless one is, in fact, working to unmake democratic norms to ensure one’s supporters keep representation and one’s detractors are excluded from it.

How DARE this article attack me!

Of course it’s millennial pink. Of COURSE.

The Emmy nods are really good this year, team. Weirdly there’s not too much to be upset about! Who are you rooting for?

Audiobooks to add to your summer holiday or beach read list.

The latest from an old fave around here, McKay Coppins at The Atlantic presents the Epstein case in the wider context of our current age of conspiracy thinking.

Speaking of, this guy can get kicked into the sun.

Well this takes me way back to puberty!

I cannot believe we have to say this in the year of our Lady Beyonce 2019, but maybe think twice before you upload your image (or other biometric information or adjacent stuff) to apps that go viral? Not to sound like a member of the tinfoil hat brigade, but we’re not very good at knowing what other people are doing with this stuff.

Speaking of Beyonce, I don’t care about The Lion King, but I always care about what the Queen is doing.

Do you want some archaeology news? Of course you do, why else are you here?!

I don’t even have the energy to touch the Twitter kerfuffle that is the new CATS trailer and reactions thereto!

Last week the influencer economy was in trouble, is streaming next? How about podcasts? (Sidenote, that podcast story is ridiculous; a true work of overly privileged art. Enjoy it with this knowledge going in.)

Sobering story.

Who pissed off Poseidon?!

And as we were “going to print,” some frankly scary news.

Finally, let’s end this on a nice note, shall we? God knows we need it.

 

Weekend Links

“Do what we can, summer will have its flies.”
–  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ducklings, the weekend is upon us! Jeff and I are off frolicking, planning our summer, and generally goofing off whilst avoiding the internet and news. Go do something pleasant and pointless and here’s some weekend reading to get you through while you do.

Let’s kick this of on a positive note, shall we?  Cute babies and great hats!

He’s not well liked or respected over here, my friends.

Megan Rapinoe is justifiably riding high with the whole Womens National Team, but this profile on her relationship with her brother shows a softer side to the certified bad ass and had me tearing up at my desk.

Throw Epstein and every single powerful, hideous, power-abusing creep he ever associated with into the sun. Every. Last. One. Turn their privilege and power upside own and bury them under the weight.

Meanwhile, give this woman every single award.

The New Yorker, asking the huge questions.

Holy crap!

Really not the news I wanted to be following after watching Chernobyl

First the bloggers, now the influencers!

In related news, influence is for sale and we have data.

What a fascinating piece on Big–er–Big Cats?

Diplomacy matters. For a long time I was an American in the UK without a representing ambassador, and now Britain’s envoy to the States has resigned when his private assessments of the Washington DC climate and Trump administration leaked.

And yet…for all that, there are times I say thank god he’s bad at his job and steps all over his own administration’s messaging.

BOY BYE.

Who has a chunk of change and wants to buy me a present? Because I am lusting after this single ear piece!

I’m still really, really undecided about the whole CRISPR thing…I just think we don’t quite understand what we’re tinkering around with enough to be messing about in the genome yet.

Toxic masculinity is wild and messing with your carbs.

White supremacy is even wilder and more ridiculous. Dangerous and malignant, don’t get me wrong, but also fundamentally ridiculous.

Yes, short answer.

Interesting read. Tangentially, I just learned the other day that a coworker of mine was actually studying to become a nun before she ended up going into the British Army instead and we had a fantastic conversation about women, religion, feminism, and vocations as a result of this discovery.

What a pleasant, pleasing story!

Damn, after saying I’m not a general fan of the Disney liveaction remakes last week, I’m officially excited for this one.

Finally, meet my new favorite Twitter feed. It’s summer, drink your water!

Weekend Links

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” 
― Desmond Tutu

It’s PRIDE weekend in London, my kittens. Go out and party or protest accordingly.

Here’s your weekend reading when you need to take a break from either.

This is extremely my jam.

This first person essay of gender transition and the role pop culture can play in it is deeply poignant.

Cher is everything.

Another week, another brilliant Tiny Desk Concert that left me gasping.

This piece gripped me. Modern media is a strange thing, and so are the people who run it.

One of my brothers sometimes volunteers at an area clinic that services rural communities and he’s shared some really humbling stories. I happen to believe there is no excuse for the wealthiest country in the world to have the discrepancy in healthcare that we do.

Baby elephant!

The end of an era and some people are mad.

Hold people accountable for rape. How the hell is this so hard?!

I am deeply invested in the stories of teenage girls who fight back. They will save us all.

Disney announced the casting of a beautiful and talented woman of color in the role of Ariel in the upcoming live action remake of The Little Mermaid, and some white people on Twitter decided to be upset about it. A few thoughts. These live action remakes are unnecessary. The Little Mermaid is trash and I’m smug that from a young age (we’re talking five years old), I thought Ariel was an idiot for giving up her literal voice for some dude she had never met. Finally, racists can stay mad and I hope this makes half a billion dollars at the box office. Also, please cast Keanu.

Democracy is a wild trip, ya’ll.

In Mormon news, the LDS church’s rebrand one year on–after which both the terms “mormon” and “LDS” are no longer acceptable. How this change played out practically and logistically, and what it means for the community of the faithful. Though no longer a member or believer, I still claim the term “mormon” as the one that best encompasses the much wider history of the religious movements associated with the faith tradition…and therefore still has the space for a heretic and apostate like me.

Also in Mormon news, scholar Jana Reiss takes on a common misconception and trope around people who leave the LDS church and their subsequent feelings towards the institution.

Also ALSO in Mormon news: this.

Warning about some less than savory photos. “The Border Patrol Facebook group is the most recent example of some law enforcement personnel behaving badly in public and private digital spaces.” We BADLY need to reexamine law enforcement in this country.

Drag queens have always been with us. Thank god.

Hmm….

I have seen this movie and I’m positive it does not end well.

An update from last week. Outrage works, but it’s still fucked up this was even possible.

BRB, bathing in male tears.

I still struggle to explain America to non-Americans. Articles like this make me wonder if I’m even qualified to try!

Yikes, stay safe, Californian ducklings.

HAHAHAHAHAHA. We’re doomed.

Asking the good questions

Let’s end on a positive note, shall we? Jeff and I celebrated our ten year wedding anniversary this week and while I’d never claim to be any kind of authority on love, I think this piece by the Great and Good Caitlin Moran sums up our take on it pretty nicely.

 

What’s in My Makeup Bag, Round Two

“I believe it’s perfectly normal to love both lipstick and literature, to be a woman who paints her nails while shouting at Question Time.” 
― Sali Hughes, Pretty Honest

Over a year ago I spilled the contents of my makeup bag and out of the blue the other day, I remembered that post and wondered if there would be any major differences to what I’m schlepping around with me today. Only one way to find out!

Same bag, same vibe: late medieval melancholy mixed with mirth:

There are also some other sames. Still have blotting papers, period products (duh), a mini sewing kit, and safety pins. These save social lives, people. I also have the same Anne Boleyn hand mirror, because if you aren’t carrying a Tudor icon in your bag, who even are you to me?!

A few recent additions include pain killers, a stain remover cleansing wipes, and a thumb drive because what I’ve needed to be this past month is connected at work, and cleaned up at a moment’s notice!

Some noticeable differences pop up however, especially because it’s currently summer instead of spring as in the last edition. In hot weather I need products or items that are quick and easy to use, and don’t require any kind of precision at all, as sun and sweat inevitably conspire to undo any kind of work I’ve put in to make myself presentable. I’ve replaced a moisturizer with a sunscreen, because I burn incredibly quickly in direct sunlight and in the high days of summer when I’m spending hours outside (especially at the weekend), I need to have my protection on hand. I try to make it a priority to walk home from work in the warm weather when my schedule allows, which could mean up to an hour and a half in the sun. I burned badly once doing that and have been paranoid and over-prepared ever since.

I’ve actually used up most of the products shown from last year’s dump, including all of the lip products except the Glossier gloss which is still going strong. These days I’m only carrying around two lip products, both of them Charlotte Tilbury matte lipsticks (don’t be alarmed by the category, the formula and feel is extremely velvety) in a bright orange-y red and a reliable nude, and both of which have appeared in my previously monthly favorites. My cream blush from last year is also still going strong (I’m convinced I’ll be buried in it), but it’s not in my on-the-go bag at the moment and has been replaced by some sample sized items from MILK which do very well for multipurpose makeup needs.

Basic mints have been replaced by mouthwash tabs from Lush, which I purchased as a midday remedy against coffee or lunch breath. And also because it’s named for the iconic cocktail in Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide the the Galaxy series, which is extremely my jam. Yes, I bought it for the name alone and no, I’ve had no regrets about this decision.

Indulge my prurience and tell me what you carry around with you. I’m genuinely curious and interested!

Year of Discipline: June

“Self-respect is the root of discipline: The sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.” 
― Abraham Joshua Heschel

Another month gone, another check in on goals. This was not a brilliant month, but it was a steady one and that feels like a big improvement on spring during which I felt scattered and all over the place. Jeff and I have both made it through some big work projects which had been consuming a lot of energy, and are now able to turn our attentions towards the pleasures of the summer. We’ve got a wedding coming up, a potential move to plan, and our anniversary trip to arrange. Immigration work is skipping along and for now at least, we’ve got an overabundance of vitamin D. Life’s okay.

General Motivation: A middling month, the first half I remained consumed with work but in the second I was able to start doing things I mentioned in my last update like exercise and cooking.

Health: This month was much better when it comes to food and I did finally get back into an exercise routine in the second half of June by scheduling classes at my gym and prioritizing them. I have the bonus of having a family wedding this summer to look good for, and this provided some much needed motivation to focus on. Thanks, little brother #2!

Financial: This month, we consolidated our remaining debt. It was a big change and was possible due to a generous and unsolicited offer from my dad to cosign on a plan to help us get a very good rate. This means we can drastically switch up our monthly household budget and make better progress in paying down debt by throwing the same amount of money at it for better returns. This is what left me somewhat staggered and weepy earlier in the month, and frankly just awash with gratitude.

Whew *wipes eyes* let’s press on, shall we? When it comes to personal spending, I did buy myself some beauty products this month using my personal cash budget. When my ban officially lifted on my birthday, I only had eyes for one item which I decided to get as a “Hey, you’re 33, have a present!” gift to myself. It’s a beautiful creamy sort of bronzer which doesn’t give you pigment so much as glow. It’s very extra, not at all necessary, but lovely for summer. The sheer gorgeousness of the packaging doesn’t hurt either! I also asked X to pick up a couple of items for me in the States that I’m unable to source here in the UK, and will get to pick up when I’m Stateside later this summer, and an eyeliner. I’m flirting with another unnecessary but totally lovely lipstick just for giggles. Finally I bought a pair of blue jeans, which believe it or not I didn’t have since I ripped my last pair months ago. But black jeans in summer won’t cut it, so I add that to my year long tally. I’m clearly well into ridiculous summer frivolity!

Happy birthday to me!

Grooming: A comparatively good hair month. I took the advice of some work colleagues with excellent hair and tried a couple of new drugstore products that have kept frizz at bay as the weather warms up. I still hate doing it. This month I also had to switch up my makeup for summer, but British summers being what they are, we’ve sometimes experienced what seems like all four seasons in a single week! This is not an easy country to style for some times.

Other:

Preparing for a possible move. While we still hope to find a way to stay in our current apartment, we are preparing for the possibility that a move will be necessary. This means allocating some of our reconstituted budget to savings to able to pay for any deposits or costs in cash.

I set my new 101/1001 list and used it as a great opportunity to get a few tasks done this month!

I got new glasses (finally, after seven years), deep cleaned the house, sold some items via consignment, and made sure I took vitamins daily (which helps me noticeably with period pains and mood stability).

I sold several items of clothing I don’t use but have good resale value and Jeff is also planning to sell some less-used sporting gear to make a few less things to potentially move. My closet gets more focused and lovely by the year!