Week One: Capsule Wardrobe Shoes & The Rest

The last post for Week One of the Clutter Cleanse! More about capsule wardrobes here, here and here.

I still make shopping mistakes. Yes, even after three years of buying and owning less I still sometimes buy something I end up regretting. The good news is it happens far, far less than it did before I radically decluttered our home.

When I look at my shoes I am happy with the styles and numbers but I have one significant regret. Color!

I wish I had gone with a bright color for my flats – patent orange or a deep red – instead of plain black. Same with my Wellingtons. Maybe even grey or a pattern for the heels.

The upside to having your basics in neutrals is that you can have more fun with your accessories and shoes. So when one of these needs replacing – as they probably will – I’ll step out of the neutral color shoe zone and choose something bright.

My modest winter/fall shoe collection:

  • Rain Boots More accurately I should call these beach boots. Though I do wear these into town they are often worn at the beach across the street from us or tramping through muddy glens (British speak for forests or parks).
  • Fashion Boots These are to the knee with a short heel and I can walk miles in them. Not waterproof but I can fit a thick wool sock underneath for warmth. They are mostly worn over jeans but I can also wear them with a dress.
  • Heels These are ‘going out’ shoes as I almost never where heels in a normal day now that I no longer work in an office. I love the cut of these shoes and that they have a very reasonable 2 3/4 inch heel. 2014 goal: have more occasions to wear these shoes.
  • Flats As I take stock of what I’m wearing a lot, or a little, I can see that these flats should really be in my stash of summer clothing. With the weather here and the fact that I do a lot of walking, I haven’t worn these since early fall.

On Hiatus: my lovely brown Frye boots are taking a winter off. The heels need to be resoled and I stopped wearing them last winter when they were too small for my end of pregnancy feet. Should I sell them or keep them? I’ll make a decision next fall.

On Notice: my suede Clarks, a sturdy not too high pair of heels that I can walk a few miles in, are on the block and will most likely be put on eBay in the next few months. These are great shoes but aren’t as versatile as my new D’Orsay style pumps that can be worn in summer and winter.

If you’ve been following along this week you’ve hopefully been inspired to work through your own wardrobe and find the pieces that you truly love and wear. I’ve also shared most of my wardrobe here so you can see how I’ve used the capsule wardrobe concept.

Most, but not all of my wardrobe.

I have a few different boxes of clothing that is either seasonal, transitional/maternity and a few things that I am testing out or that are on a break. I have an unopened birthday present that I am told is a new necklace, I’m testing out a poncho and I’m still unsure about the ‘fashion’ sweatshirt style top I have (it might just be a bit too short on me).

Then there is my beautiful wool swing coat. I wore it so much in Vancouver pre-kids but it only gets out a few times a year since moving to this often wet climate. I have a sentimental attachment to it because I bought it in Paris on my honeymoon. But is that reason enough to keep it?

Plus I haven’t touched on my formal wardrobe (aka my cocktail dress), workout wear, outerwear and underwear. Yes, I have all of those too.

The Capsule Wardrobe will always be a work in progress for me. I try and review what I have seasonally, what has been gifted to me, what I am wearing a lot or a little or not at all and why. I remind myself perfect is the enemy of done.

So while my capsule wardrobe will probably never be perfect, a few things missing and a few more waiting in the wings, my aim is to have it be flattering, functional and even a bit fun. And to always fit in my teeny tiny closet.

So did you find your uniform this week? What was the biggest challenge in culling your wardrobe? If you want more visual inspiration I have created a Capsule Wardrobes for Moms Pinterest board. I’ll be adding in areas of wardrobe we didn’t cover this week and links to more resources.

Next up: go big or go home, right? We move on to streamlining our homes tomorrow. I’ll have a few small tasks you can tackle this weekend plus more ideas on how to rethink your stuff – what you need, why you need it and where it can go to help you and help others.

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  • Thanks for the inspiration! My closet is the place that I have the most trouble minimizing. I do think you should keep your wool swing coat, because it sounds like it falls into the useful, beautiful, and love categories. Surely there are a few cold days there that aren’t wet? Also, I’m supposing you won’t be there forever.
    Thanks again…I’m really enjoying this series!

    • Thanks, Jeanine. The other tricky bit is that the sleeves on the car coat are 2/3rds so it’s not an exceptionally warm coat. I’m going to wait until next fall to decide if it stays or goes.
      Glad you are enjoying the series. It’s been fun and enlightening to read all the comments and see what other women have done.

    • These people emailed me ballettonet.co about their ballet flats when they saw my post. I haven’t tried them but they look good. Made in Italy and they said the Yin Melita style was good for walking.
      My Tieks are very comfortable but haven’t held up to the amount of walking I do. If you are looking for something for occasional use in a temperate climate and city sidewalks, I think you could get a few years of use out of them.
      Hopefully someone can chime in with a suggestion :)

      • Thanks for the mention Rachel! Happy to help your blog community with style advice. All our ballet flats our comfortable – don’t take our word for it, hear it from our customers in our product reviews ( : (/www.ballettonet.co/categories/)

        However if you are going to spend a lot of the day/night on your feet, the Yin Melita’s, Praerie Alessandra’s or the Fremillu Gabriella’s are the ones to look at.

        Have a lovely week!


  • I’ve really been enjoying this series! I overhauled my summer wardrobe this year, but due to a number of factors, my fall/winter wardrobe is in shambles. You’ve given me the inspiration I need to work it all out (while staying conservative in size). I’m getting better, but I still have difficulty figuring out exactly what I need to buy to make my wardrobe work! I also don’t wear pants, and have yet to find a skirt that’s quite as versatile as a pair of jeans — I suppose my “go to” would be my black maxi skirt.

    I had to smile when you “confessed” to having thirty pairs of shoes in your last post — I’ve seen several House Hunters episodes where women were looking for closet space for 100-200 pairs of shoes, so I think your thirty pairs would be regarded as quite conservative in today’s world! :) As someone who also had 30 pairs at one point, I’ve now gotten my winter wardrobe down to six pairs — two of which may be eliminated soon. It’s actually quite freeing, in my opinion, and I don’t feel bored because I love the shoes I have. I’m not brave enough to buy a pair of bright-colored flats yet. Maybe once I’m more experienced in the capsule wardrobe concept…

    Again, thanks for the inspiration and ideas! It’s so very helpful to see how you’ve made it work for you!


  • Really great series! I’m starting to transition my wardrobe from college student to a working 20 year old which hasn’t been too difficult (t-shirt with a few too many holes…) and the hardest part are the clothes that hold sentimental value. You should look into trying to stretch the boots a bit if possible. It can be done without ruining the shoes and help with making them not too uncomfortable.

    • Luckily the boots fit now (it takes about 6 weeks for my feet to get back to normal size after giving birth) but I had fallen out of wearing them and haven’t gotten back in. Decisions, decisions. :)

  • I worked out my next capsule wardrobe yesterday but an unexpected visit to the vet put the plans to physically move stuff on hold. It’s the cardigans I struggle with. I live in them and living in a cold wet part of the UK too I need to be able to layer up a lot!

  • Living in Canada where winter weather indicates a larger shoe / boot wardrobe, I have the following:
    – loafers (can be worn with jeans or nice wool trousers)
    – winter (think blizzard / slush / ice) boots, the kind that are required for weather but NOT fashionable
    – winter (fashion) boots, where you are attending church or a business meeting or even just a date night where you need to wear winter boots outside but not the above “f-ugly” ones as these are winter boots but “nicer”
    – dressier heels that are not necessarily for the office yet look like going-out on a date shoes, think “heels” rather than “Heels”. :) A modified heeled loafer. Comfy for walking but a step above loafers for just going out.

    I have a pair of evening shoes that match a black formal gown. If I’m lucky, worn once a year but I keep them as they take up little room and when I DO need such a dress / outfit, I don’t have to think about it. Shopping for a new formal dress? Nah, already have it! Owned for about 15 years, a timeless classic, worn probably 12 times.

  • As far as shoes go, I have :

    2x riding boots (1 pair is a spare, proably could go, but would be useful if main pair wear out)
    1x pair yard boots- to save the expensive riding boots from mud/ wear
    1x wellies- for when it is really wet! (When yard boots wear out, I will proably just have wellies as they fulfill similar needs).
    1x walking boots
    1x trainers for running and for walking to work
    1x long brown boots
    1x short brown boots
    1x mid length black boots
    1x walking sandals
    1x black flats
    1x gold flats
    1x gold gladiator sandals

    So, 13 pairs…my plan eventually is that I would have one pair of boots, black, rather than the two brown and one black pair; I’d get a pair of gold gladiator sandals which are comfortable enough to walk in, and one pair of flats, gold, comfortable enough to walk reasonable distances in.

    That’d be 9 pairs, and if I got rid of yard boots, I’d be down to 8. I am waiting for things to wear out, though!

    I had thought of replacing my shoes as they wear out from somewhere like this:http://www.greenshoes.co.uk/index.php

  • I live in Wisconsin and have:
    *1 pair of snow boots (Uggs, rated to -5 degrees, now I wish I had gone with Columbia or Sorel and got their -40, but for most days they work)
    *1 pair of rainboots (They’re ready to be replaced, they aren’t the highest quality, but I’ve had them for 4 years)
    *1 pair of running shoes (used just for running)
    *1 pair of dress flats (in navy, they look lovely with practically anything)
    *1 black pair of heels (basic black pumps)
    *2 pairs of black boots (I need to nix one, one has a heel and one is a flat)
    *2 pairs of flip flops (obviously put away for summer, 1 really cheap $3 Old Navy pair for getting dirty with my kids, 1 nice pair of Rainbow Sandals that I’ve had for 5 years)
    *I had a pair of Tom’s that were my casual summer shoes, but they only lasted 1 season, I’ll need something new for this summer.

    Have you checked out http://www.seamly.co/ ? They are the makers of the Versalette (which if I recall correctly I originally learned about from your blog), well, she also has quite a few lovely versatile pieces she’s released.

  • I’m a late convert to Toms. I thought I would just wear them in the summer and the first pair I had I wore practically every day from May to September. This year I expected to let them go at the end of the autumn again, but because I was doing Project 333 I had to really think about what I would keep and what would go and the Toms have survived the winter. I have boots for the snow and the rain but the Toms made it through the winter and are still going strong

    • I wonder if I need to size my Toms up, I’ve had 3 pairs and I love them and wear them constantly but always have holes by the time it’s time for boots in the fall.

  • These posts have been so fun! I finally bought a pair of boots, even though I live in Iowa and should have had them ages ago. Currently I have the black boots (Keens- flat as flat can be, look good with skirts, but durable to tromp through snow with the kids), black and white rain boots, gray Mary Janes, black tennies, a few flip flops, 2 extra running shoes, and a random pair of dressy brown shoes. The brown shoes are there only because I have one brown skirt and a few matching tops my mom convinced me to buy. Once I get to the point of letting the remaining rown stragglers go, the shoes will go with them. I need to purge some running shoes, but I’m not there yet either. Oh… And a pair of slippers! My hubby asked just yesterday if I was needing new ones, and I replied, “Why? They’re not threadbare yet!”

  • Have you thought about tackling the outerwear question? That is a difficult one for me. I really like coats! I am trying to downsize and I haven’t been too successful yet. :(

    • I’ll be putting a board of my outerwear up on the Pinterest page. It’s a struggle for me too with the harsh weather here. Right now I have a big down coat, light ‘sporty’ spring/summer jacket, wool car coat and I often wear my husband’s rain jacket when I am wearing my youngest in a carrier (zips up over both of us). I should probably also include a zip up yoga jacket I sometimes run in but often use as a casual jacket.

  • I need wardrobe help! Lol. Since we are getting ready to move into spring, i am starting to think ahead. I do have a pair of winter boots but often wear my husband’s. I have one pair of clogs that I have had for about 10 years- i wear them occasionally.

    I have my tennis shoes and an old pair for yard work.

    And a pair of keens. I also have a pair of crocs I wear around the house. It is very uncomfortable to be barefoot.

    I also find 99% of shows uncomfortable. So I have no “cute” shoes. Its either uncomfortable after standing for a bit or i get blisters etc. i do not and cannot spend a ton of money on shoes (especially when I need to replace my tennis shoes yearly otherwise its too painful to work out.) heels are clearly out for me.

    Do other people have this problem?

    So I have basically decided to build my summer wardrobe around my keens Lol. I only have a few shirts that fit. I will be hitting up a second hand store for some more short sleeved shirts, a jean skirt. I still wear jeans year around although its hot! I love layering (looking a bit more together) but I am not sure how to pull it off when its hot (and i sweat a lot.)


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