While Mark is tasked with assembling most of the gear for our family's upcoming European trip -- we'll be going to the mountains, so "gear" includes, e.g., things that clank when you walk -- I am tasked with assembling wardrobes, at least for the smaller children and myself.
Because of the large amount of gear, it almost seems like a fool's errand to attempt to pack "light," but I figured that the exercise would be good for us anyway. Ever since I had the first chance to remake my closet during the Year of Four Wardrobes (tl;dr: significant weight loss followed by my fourth pregnancy) I've been playing around with paring things down to a small collection of pieces I like and wear, pieces that all go together in a variety of ways so that each has its role: a designed collection. There are numerous advantages of having such a design in mind: you buy fewer garments and accessories overall, wear the things you buy more frequently, have a less cluttered closet, and make it easier to quickly grab an outfit that works by thinning out the clutter of things you don't really ever wear.
On a side note, while I was posting about this on FB, ChristyP suggested the Project333 website. This is another minimalist-wardrobe blog, with a twist and a challenge - the idea is to pare down to thirty-three items for each three months of the year. You rotate different collections of thirty-three as the seasons change (and, of course, replace items as they wear out or become less useful). I rather liked this concept, as the rotation keeps it fresh, and weather extremes aren't much of an issue. The whole thing appeals to me a lot; I like planning, I enjoy shopping for clothes when I have a purpose in mind, and I hate clutter.
The author has some other articles here and there pertaining to the be-free-of-your-excess-clutter philosophy. Fortunately, I never developed an obsession with cosmetics, so I am ahead in the minimalist lifestyle there; I almost never wore them when I was younger and now, as I have occasionally wanted to look a bit more put together, I took time to curate a targeted kit (exactly one mascara, exactly one foundation, exactly one lip color, 4 brushes, etc.)
I cannot really brag about my minimalist makeup drawer, however. First of all, I am not inclined to wear much anyway, so buying too many lipsticks is just not a temptation I experience. More importantly, whatever simplifying cred I may have earned by not having much of that I make up for in spades with my recurring belief that all my problems will be solved if I just buy one more bag. But the wardrobe-simplifying, facilitated by a few size-changes necessitating several do-overs, has been going well.
Going on a trip is an opportunity to pare down even further. It wasn't till I started trip-planning that I learned the name for the entire concept: "capsule wardrobe." Here is a sample article from TravelFashionGirl, a website that I enjoyed perusing as I started thinking about putting together a travel capsule wardrobe for my upcoming 28-day trip.
My first draft looked like this:
It includes the following 15 pieces, not counting pajamas and underwear and socks and hiking boots and the like:
- Black trousers
- Black leggings
- Red-orange performancewear skort
- Black tank (nursing openings)
- Black tee (nursing openings)
- Black short sleeve empire waist top (nursing openings)
- White tank
- White "button-down" style shirt, 3/4 sleeves, lightweight
- Hot pink scoop-neck tee
- Lightweight black long-sleeve cardigan/wrap (rolls up really small)
- Denim shirt
- Red-orange cardigan
- Black tank dress (no nursing openings, but stretchy enough I can pull down the neck)
- Sleeveless shirtwaist-type dress with hot pink/red-orange/white pattern
- Red-orange scarf
Shoes that go with this:
- Black sandals
- Black ankle boots
I'm really pleased with how this turned out. It only needs a couple of extra things, in fact, to be a complete non-travel capsule wardrobe for late summer/autumn -- mostly things I already have, like bootleg jeans and a few more long-sleeve tees.
Some of the combinations:
But I need to swap a few things out for my trip, because I think that once I add the fleece, hiking pants, rain gear, and base layers that I need for the mountains, the overall wardrobe will be unnecessarily heavy on warm items. I will probably drop the denim shirt and add another tee and a pair of lightweight capris. This will bring the total up to 18-20 items, which is not bad considering it is for two seasons, requires enough warm layers for an emergency overnight in the mountains, and has to last 28 days.
+ + +
I also made a capsule wardrobe for my daughter, which was fun since I had to get her late summer/autumn clothes anyway. I made her neutral color be navy and her accent color be turquoise, since she has a little purse and a pair of Keen sandals that color, and I got almost everything from Old Navy on one of their big sale weekends. Add a pair of navy espadrilles, some fleece and hiking pants, and she is set for the city and the mountains. I think I am going to keep up the capsule approach as she gets bigger.