Re-wearing Items from my Capsule

28 April 2020

I never thought that having a capsule closet would prove such fun. Not only is it quite a bit of fun, it’s also versatile and most of all, I love knowing exactly what’s in my closet to wear. It makes getting ready in the morning’s such an easy task. I know, I know… We aren’t all getting ready every day. I’m also not doing this every single day, but for the most part, I’m making an effort. Because we’re not running around, meeting people, and going out, my clothes van be re-worn as they’re just not getting dirty. Hence the experiment of re-wearing pieces from the previous day, to prove to myself (not any of you), that this capsule really is as versatile as other ‘experts’ say.

I started out with a pair of viscose trousers from Woolworths. I had three pairs of these trousers in different colours in my closet. I took this neutral one out for my capsule, as it goes with almost everything else I’d selected for this particular capsule. They are comfortable and fit my petite frame well. I do think they’re supposed to be more cropped, but they fit me at a flattering place just above my ankle, so they work well for me. I wore them with a pair of espadrilles and this greyish/green boucle top. I decided to re-wear the top on the second day, this time with a pair of black jeans. These jeans are a little tight for me around my waist and thighs, but they didn’t used to be, so hopefully, once we get moving again, I’ll tighten up this area again. I changed out the neutral espadrilles for a pair of pearl-encrusted black espadrille slip-ons. For Look 3, I kept the black jeans and slip-ons, and just changed up the shirt. This is a peasant style, embroidered shirt. It’s not really the fit I go for any longer, but I do find the colours are perfect for my closet and the style works for my shape.

In Look 4, I leave the top untucked and add a relaxed pair of light wash denims. I swap out the espadrille slip-ons, for a pair of leather slides. As you can see here, although there’s quite a bit of material in this top, it’s soft enough to not be too voluminous, so it can be worn this way without it adding too much bulk to my frame. In Look 5, I kept on the light wash jeans, and added a striped, bat-wing tee. I gave it the slightest tuck in the front but these jeans are quite low-cut, so I don’t want to bring too much attention to this part of my body. I have a rectangular shape. In this look, I also swap out the black leather slides, for a pair of white ones. This is an easy look to wear and I’m glad I didn’t get rid of these jeans. There have been quite a few times I’ve wanted to, but end up keeping them as I don’t have another pair in this wash. They are by far, not my most flattering pair, but it’s all in how you wear them.

Look 6 is one of my favourites. After uploading these photos, I became aware that the shirt didn’t look great in this look, but in real life, it works so well. I should have straightened the shirt up, and it would’ve been more evident how lovely this look worked. These pants are also not a high rise, but the hit me just under my belly button, so not the worst part of my body, being the rectangular shape I am. They should also be more cropped, but I admit, I like this length on me. I tucked the shirt in all the way, I love how it turned out. Adding a pair of sneakers to this look, amps up the casual vibe and it’s my favourite look of all the ones I created.

In Look 7, I kept the white trousers on, changed up the shoes for the neutral espadrilles again and added a very lightweight, beige knit. This is also a look I love. I do think these white pants work well in my closet. It’s an easy look, and looks casual but elevated by wearing this knit. In the next look, I kept the knit on, and added this skirt. I have a feeling this skirt is the oldest piece I have. It was purchased in 2006 from Woolworths. It’s 100% linen and has washed so well. It has these diagonally cut panels, that I think are very flattering. The bottom of the skirt flows outward ever so slightly at the bottom. In this look, because of the diagonal cut of the skirt, I tucked the knit into only one side at the top. This makes the look feel balanced and proportionate to me. Adding the pair of tan, leather slides, gives this outfit a little bit of interest and adds a little ‘colour’.

In Look 9, I kept the blue floral skirt but this time, added a navy tee with a navy blazer. I like the long line of the blazer, as this skirt is also a longer length. Although I feel this look does work with these flat, white leather slides, I do think a heeled pump in a darker shade, perhaps also navy, would be the most complimentary. It would also have helped to give me some height. Look 10 sees me keeping this navy tee on, adding my favourite pair of light wash jeans and a pair of navy, criss-cross slides. This is pretty much my standard outfit. I always gravitiate towards jeans and a tee, or a shirt.

So what are your thoughts? Have I chosen the items for this capsule well? I feel they all sort of work with each other. There’s definitely a ‘blue’ theme in this capsule, but that’s why I feel it works so well. The pieces work together. For me, this capsule has helped me want to get dressed most days. If not for this capsule, I honestly feels I woudn’t have bothered too much about that.

Belinda xo

Exploring my Capsule Wardrobe

21 April 2020

5 Options with One Dress

In my first capsule wardrobe that I’ve ever created, I only chose one dress. I think it has more to do with the fact that we’re in Lockdown and unable to go out, than anything else, because the fact is, I love dresses, especially this time of the year. I chose an extremely comfortable and easy-to-wear dress made from a stretchy, tee-shirt material that is simply put, almost lounge wear!

Simple grey/off-white striped tee shirt dress.

The dress, seen in Look 1, is a knee-length, round-hemmed dress, with grey and off-white stripes and pockets. Pockets are always a win. We see everyone who loves a comfortable kind of style, loves pockets. I’m not really sure why because we definitely don’t walk around with our hands in our pockets, but they’re fun for taking photos. In Look 1, I just added a pair of easy-to-wear, white leather slides for a completely casual look. So let’s take a look at some of the other looks I was able to create with this one piece from my capsule wardrobe.

Adding a longer length blazer with slip-on mules.

In this 2nd Look, I tried to dress the dress up, excuse the pun… It was totally intentional. This is not really the kind of dress I would ever try to dress up. I’m not that crazy. I one hundred percent agree this is a loungy kind of dress. But for the sake of this capsule wardrobe, I did give it my best shot. And to be very clear, this blazer only made it into this capsule, because of a challenge we did with some ladies over on Instagram. It would not have otherwise formed part of this very casual collection of pieces. I think the pearl-encrusted espadrille slip-ons, give it a nice touch though. They add to the overall look I was trying to create, giving this outfit just a little something extra.

Adding a simple Chambray shirt

A Chambray shirt works well, no matter what season it is, especially if you live in a country with a mild winter. This shirt underneath a knit, or even layered over a rollneck, will look great. You can button it up, leave it open, tie it as I did here or even add a belt over it, to bring some definition to the waist. However you wanted to style this shirt, you will find yet another way. So back to this look. Look 3 was created for exactly that reason – to bring some waist definition. On it’s own, this dress is rather shapeless, so tying the shirt at the waist, brings some kind of balance and proportion to this look. In hindsight, looking back at this photo, I think adding a belt over the shirt, or even just over the dress with the shirt open, would have given it a neater, more polished look. But this look works perfectly for a day lounging around at home, with no other place to be. The casual, neutral espadrilles don’t really add anything to the look, but they do complete a casual outfit, so they work regardless.

Adding a layer with a denim jacket

Who doesn’t love a denim jacket? This has to be one of the most versatile pieces in a casual-girl’s wardrobe. It works perfectly with this dress, in my humble opinion. The proportions are also great for my frame. I have a rectangular shape, with very little definition at my waist, so hitting me at the hips, is not a bad look. I don’t have wide hips at all, so this adds no volume there. The colour of the jacket goes perfectly with the underlying colour of this particular capsule. Adding the sneaks, keeps this look sporty and of course, you know it by now, very casual. I think of all the looks I created, Look 4 would have to be my favourite.

Tonal Casual with a grey cardigan.

This cardigan is my favourite one at the moment. It’s snuggly, cosy and warm – all the comfy vibes. I added a pair of closed slip-ons to once again, you’ve got it, keep this look casual. Again, I don’t think this cardigan adds too much bulk, even though it is a bit chunky. It hits me at the right spot. Pulling up the sleeves, adds once again to the comfy look I’m going for. All in all, this tonal look works for me. I just need a little self-tan so my legs don’t completely blend in with the closet and floor!

There you have it. Five ways to wear a comfy dress during lockdown. I hope these looks inspire you to try new outfit ideas with your own wardrobe. This is not the time to be adding more ‘stuff’ to our lives, but to be truly taking stock and appreciating all we already have and love. Now, go and get started in your own wardrobes – and have fun!

Belinda xo

What if?

Belinda and I were chatting on Wednesday (yay for video calling) and we were playing the what if game. What if things change so much during and after this pandemic that there will be permanent positive transformation. It is so easy for me to just look at the loss of income and the feeling of being disconnected, that I sometimes forget that there could possibly be positive change.

What if most fashion and other retail stores had to move their shops online? Let’s say social distancing becomes the norm for some time. In this scenario, only a limited amount of people would be allowed into a mall and into a shop. It would then make sense to sell only online. They would save a lot on overheads and could possibly offer clothes at better prices. What if so many stores had to move online that malls can be repurposed for community projects? Like shelters for abused women or single moms that have nowhere to go. (The idea to convert a mall into a shelter was Belinda’s brilliant idea)

What if then because all the big store are online, we can have small shops in neighbourhoods again? Like a local bakery and butchery. You would buy most of your stuff online, but get personal, specialty goods at your neighbourhood shop. I like the idea of shopping at a family business and getting service because they know me. Chain stores are so impersonal. Wouldn’t it be great if we can have a sense of community again?

What if this can create a better, more sustainable way of living? What if by buying local, we give the local economy a boost and we support our neighbours and they in return support us? Maybe this time away from consumerism will teach us what we really need and I’m living in hope that the world won’t go on a shopping spree when the restrictions are lifted. Well, I think that so many people lost their jobs or are taking pay cuts, that they probably won’t.

This is just my experience in my country (South Africa) and I can’t speak for everyone. I feel a deep disconnect from life in general. I know that the lockdown is partially to blame because we are separated from each other in real life at the moment. This forced “apartness” from people also made me realise that I want to feel connected to others. I want to be part of something that has meaning to me and gives meaning to others.

So how to you feel about all this? Do you think we will pretty much just pick up where we left off? Or will the world look different after we can come out of shelter? I think things will be different – I just hope it’s a good different.

Matilda xo

styling a suit jacket bought at a charity shop

13 April 2020


Just as Belinda and I started on our second hand clothing journey, I came across a suit for R15 (less than one US dollar). Everything in the charity shop was on sale for R15 and I was thrilled to find the suit. It was in perfect condition and needed no hemming or buttons replaced (it has hidden buttons). I think it used to be someone’s work suit. I decided, rather rashly, to give the trousers to my daughter. Thinking then that suits weren’t in fashion. Now, I want to kick myself – suits are trendy again. She said I could have the trousers back, but when? The lockdown has been extended.

That brings me to the next issue. Why would I write a blog about styling a suit jacket when the world is living in pjs and sweats? Because I am fed up with this lockdown. I know it is the right thing to do and I know I’m complaining from a place of privilege, but I am still frustrated. When the restrictions are lifted, I will have some outfit ideas for autumn and maybe even for our mild South African winters. And if I share them with you, we can look to the future together.

To set the stage: I styled the jacket with blue jeans and ankle boots that I kept for all the outfits. I love my “new” ankle boots – it was my first time wearing them. I decided to try three different layering pieces underneath the jacket and then change each look up by just adding a scarf. Everything I’m wearing is either thrifted or pre-loved, except for the knitted sweater in the first outfit. I did consider chopping my head off when I cropped the photos, but then you wouldn’t see my hair without a style and my fed up smile.

For this look, I layered a light grey knitted sweater underneath my jacket. At first I wasn’t sure about the colours, thinking that they might clash. but when I added my gran’s pearls, the look just came together. My grandmother didn’t have much and even though this is just costume jewellery, it always reminds me of her. It is also the only personal thing I have that was hers. To change the look up, I added a grey and rust scarf. In all fairness, I could be wearing anything underneath and nobody would be the wiser. Is that cheating when you change up a look?

For the second look, I went for a 70’s vibe – collar out. I was surprised that I liked this look at all. I felt so groovy in these threads. Does the pink look too summery for autumn? I’m going to wear it anyway – convention be damned. The scarf belonged to my daughter, but she already has a similar one and gave this one to me. She bought them in China while she was working as an au pair in Shanghai.

The last look is my least favourite. I chose a dark purple shirt and the added a greenish scarf with dark purple accents – which you can’t really see. The collar of the shirt is peeking out from under the scarf – which you can’t really see. The reason I don’t like this look is the colour. It is too dark. I like light and happy colours and I think dark purple clashes with my energy and my personality. I could probably pull this off for work and feel serious enough to be work appropriate.

Styling my charity shop jacket was a lot of fun and I enjoyed writing this blog post. I will be ready to get out of my pjs and into regular clothes when this lockdown is lifted. Take care and stay safe.

Matilda xo

My First-ever Capsule Closet

6 April 2020

I created my first capsule closet ever during this past week. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and well, what better time to get creative with one’s closet, than during lockdown. I must admit, it is far larger than any other blogger’s capsule I’ve ever seen, but hey, cut me some slack. This maximalist is trying! Here is my list of clothing I decided on for this first-ever capsule closet of mine:

Bottoms:

  • X5 pairs of jeans in varying shades and styles
  • X1 pair black cropped raw hemmed jeans
  • X1 pair of white cropped straight legged trousers
  • X1 beige tapered leg trousers
  • x1 pair pale blue linen joggers
  • x1 pair grey tracksuit/joggers
  • X1 blue/white patterned linen midi skirt
  • x1 black maxi skirt

Dresses:

  • X1 striped tee shirt midi dress

Tops:

  • X 3 tee shirts (navy, white, peachy nude)
  • x1 Cream knitted top
  • X1 patterned grey floral blouse
  • X1 Chambray shirt
  • X1 Beige/white striped shirt
  • X1 green/grey boucle 3/4 sleeve top
  • X1 paisley print pink/olive shirt
  • X1 short sleeved light blue Broderie Anglaise top
  • X1 pale blue/white striped long-sleeved tee
  • X1 black/cream peasant style top with flowy sleeves

Knits/Jackets:

  • X1 Beige lightweight knit
  • X1 Grey buttonless cardigan
  • X1 Navy Blazer
  • X1 Denim Jacket

I do believe I have given myself some good choices, and with this being my first ever capsule, I didn’t want to be tempted to go into my closet and sneak something out there. I have too many pairs of shoes to number, and although, at the beginning of the year, I did have a few pairs on my list, I am going to give it my best shot not to buy any more shoes at all this year. You will remember, I did buy three pairs for my daughter’s wedding, two last year, and after my major foot surgery in November, neither fit me in time for the wedding, so I did end up purchasing one pair of shoes specifically for that event, this year. But to date, it’s the only pair I’ve acquired. That’s quite a mean feat, as shoes are my downfall. I used to be able to buy 1-2 pairs per month! Speaking of shoes, here’s the list of footwear for this particular capsule.

Shoes:

  • X 1 pair white sneakers/trainers
  • X1 pair beige espadrilles
  • X1 pair slip-on black espadrilles with pearl detail
  • X1 pair slip-on grey shoes
  • X1 pair tan leather slides
  • X1 pair white leather slides
  • X1 pair navy leather criss-cross slides
  • X1 pair black slip-on sandals

In most parts of the Southern Hemisphere, we have entered the Autumn season. For the first time, honestly, in 11 years, we are experiencing cooler weather in the city I live in. It’s usually quite warm until mid-May. I am not complaining. Spring and Autumn are great times of the year. It’s not often I get to wear lightweight knits on their own, or closed shoes without my feet sweating. I am loving the rain too. It does wonders for cooling down the earth. One can’t help wonder if the minimised pollution, has had an effect on our weather and we’re experiencing Autumn as it should be. Whatever the reason, this is a fun time to dress.

I purchased this cream knitted top almost a year ago at the Vintage Square Thrift Fair. This is a second-hand clothing market that is held monthly here in Pretoria, the city I reside in. Matilda and I, have a pre-loved clothing store called Belle Whimsy, (@belle_whimsyclothing on Instagram). We rent a stall each month and sell our clothing at this market. The distressing of the jeans in the final pic, was done by me. I watched a YouTube hack and very bravely tried this hack on dark jeans. I love the fit of these jeans but am not completely happy with how they turned out. I don’t often reach for these jeans because of the distressing I did (I feel it wasn’t a great job), so I made sure to add them to this capsule. That way, if I don’t end up reaching for them in the next two months, which is for how long this capsule closet has been created, I can donate them to our store.

So far, I can see that I have chosen colours, tones and patterns that work well with each other. I am pleased with these few outfits I was able to throw together without giving them much thought. I think that’s the beauty of a well thought out capsule. All the pieces should go well together and the entire point of the capsule, is to simplify getting dressed in the morning. I do look forward to many more outfits I’m going to get to create during the next few weeks, and especially during this stay-at-home time, I won’t need to put any effort into thinking about what to wear. The added bonus is that I can’t be too slouchy as I haven’t added a ton of cosy wear, so I am going to have to dress properly each day (unless I choose to have a PJ day). I’m sharing a final pic with you of myself and my granddaughter. My husband took my pics this morning, and she was desperate to be included so we took a few off her and me. This is one of them.

Stay safe everyone.

Belinda xo

Japanese Boro Textiles

3 April 2020

https://www.japansociety.org/page/programs/gallery/boro-textiles

Most of us can remember our mothers or grandmothers mending clothes or at least you would have heard the stories. My mom often tells me how they had to repair their clothes by darning or sewing patches onto worn out garments. I can even remember her mending our clothes when I was little, but as time went by it became something to be ashamed of – you only repaired clothes if you were poor. Fast fashion made is very easy to replace clothes. You can afford to buy a dress of low quality, that looks tattered after a few wears and washes, and then replace it with another dress of low quality. And so the cycle can continue on and on. The big issue isn’t even the quality of fast fashion clothing, but of the cost to the earth and the people making the clothes. I think it is time to remember how to take care of clothes and how to keep them in our closets for longer.

In New York, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the Japan Society has an exhibit called “Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics” showing century-old garments suspended in mid-air. Boro, an over 200 year old handicraft, is the practice of mending or patching clothing. The term is derived from the Japanese word boroboro, meaning something tattered or repaired. Hemp was more widely available in Japan than cotton and scraps of old hemp fabric were often pieced together into coats, gloves and blankets. These were made by repurposing carefully saved garment pieces and other handspun and indigo-dyed fabrics. They were sewn together as a patchwork built up from many layers providing extra warmth.

https://www.japansociety.org/page/programs/gallery/boro-textiles

Boro, then, wasn’t an aesthetic choice but rather a necessity for survival. The women who made these coats and blankets took whatever they had and transformed those things into functional items, and this sounds exactly like so many stories from all over the world. Women doing what they must with what they can find to take care of their families, and the result frequently ended up being beautiful as a byproduct of the process. This is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is a testament to their creativity.

For most of us maximising the life of our textiles is no longer a necessity. These same values, however, are making a comeback now that conservation of energy and resources is becoming a bigger and bigger issue. As we move into a new age of living more responsibly, taking care of the earth and one another, we can glean some style lessons from the designers of sustainable fashion.

Matilda xo

Styling my daughter

When we heard that our country might be going into lockdown, we decided together with my daughter, that she should come home. She lives about 3 hours drive from us in the university town of Potchefstroom, and would have been all alone in her flat for 3 weeks. Her boyfriend already left for his parents’ home in Namibia earlier when we heard that the borders are closing. So, she had to pack for 3 weeks and she very kindly agreed to help me with a styling blog post.

Karla, getting ready for our photoshoot

She wasn’t quite sure what she had to pack, because the lockdown wasn’t announced when she left. Maybe she would need clothes for going out or visiting with old friends. She now says she wished she had packed more sweatpants and sweaters. Luckily for this blog post, she didn’t. She brought 3 bottoms, about 10 tops, sweaters and a few dresses. We decided to style the bottoms three different ways.

Just like her mom, Karla isn’t a big jeans fan, but she did pack one pair. She only has two pairs. She likes the outfit with the floral top best and I like all these looks, but the jeans with the peachy top is my favourite. Jeans are always such a versatile staple and must pack items when traveling.

Next, we styled her beautiful burgundy shorts. This time of the year we are always very uncertain about the weather. It will probably stay warm enough for shorts, although we had two cooler days because of rain. We both chose the outfit with the green knitted sweater as our favourite look.

Lastly we styled her gorgeous mauve wrap skirt. This maxi skirt is very flattering and suits Karla’s personality well. Both of us loved the striped top with this skirt.

With 3 bottoms and 8 tops, we created 9 different looks. It is just a shame that she won’t wear them and spend the next few weeks in sweats. Stay safe, stay home.

Matilda xo