5 Questions to Grow a Capsule Mindset

How to Create a Capsule Mindset and Grow Your Life

How I dress has impacted my growth in a challenging season. Not in an unhealthy shop-to-fill-a-void kind of way. But in an I'm-worthy-of-this-life and I'll-dress-like-I-truly-believe-that sort of way. "Sometimes the being comes before the feeling," Chasing Slow (aff. link) by Erin Loechner. And dressing with a little more intention is the being that has contributed to feeling competent and confident.

Most of us already know about a capsule wardrobe and its benefits. (For those who don't: It's a wardrobe made up of essential items that don't go out of style and can mix and match outfits and seasons.) If we only wear 20% of our closet 80% of the time (I know I often do), then it saves time, money, energy, and space to simplify that closet and make the best use of our resources.

It also makes getting dressed a little easier, because we don't need to get decision fatigue right at the start of our day, ya know?

And that right there, the decision fatigue, is exactly why a capsule wardrobe matters to me. We all have a finite number of resources. Even if you're not limited by money or space, you might be limited by time or energy or decision-making power, and I am all about simplifying and automating whatever possible so that we can spend our best growing the most important parts of life.

Are you with me?

A simple closet is one small way to counteract the chaos in life. Easy to complete outfits can reduce one area of indecision in a new season of life. Feeling good about the space we begin and end each day in, and the way we look when we leave and return to that space, can create a small dose of renewal in life.

Ask me how I know. (See this >> post and this >> one for more on this "season of renewal" I've been trudging through.)

I've been meaning to create an actual capsule wardrobe for years. Then I re-realized, over time simplifying has given me a capsule wardrobe of sorts just through a simple mindset shift. Even if you may not find an exact capsule in my closet or dresser, there are a few principles that have become my autopilot when I shop and when I declutter my clothes that have helped streamline the process and find a little balance in it all.

I don't need extra things on my to-do list. I just need to know that my choices when shopping are helping my morning routine, not hindering it. I need to know that I'm making purchasing choices that are completing my outfits, not cluttering my closet. I need to know that I can feel good about getting dressed without getting caught in comparison traps that give me one more area to feel like I'm failing. I need to know that I'm showing up in this season of my life as my current best version of myself--inside and out.

Here's what I've learned over the years: The benefits of a capsule wardrobe don't have to be a "someday" dream. The capsule mindset can start growing today, making for a lifetime of enjoying capsule benefits without the work of creating a precise Pinterest-worthy capsule.

Benefits of a Capsule Wardrobe the Simple Way

How to Create a Capsule Mindset

A capsule mindset grows from a few simple questions. I ask these when I'm in a dressing room trying on clothes, and I ask them when I'm going through my closet or dresser to decide what I'm done with. Questions #1 and #5 are also what I use when I'm getting dressed. If the answer is yes to both, then I'm likely to feel more confident and competent as I set out growing my life.

1. Do I love it?

This includes both how it looks and feels. There have been far too many items I've owned that were just okay or were merely a good price, always leading them to hardly be worn, if at all. Want to know how I know if I love it? I try it on and automatically think, "wow, I love this!" I'm not kidding.

If my inner voice starts saying "if it was just a little longer" or "but it's a little too [fill in the blank]" then I know that it's going be worn once or twice and maybe never again. Because that quiet little "if" and "but" will be there every time I see the item and it will make me pass it over for something that doesn't make me say those things. So I've learned to not settle for anything less than love.

2. Can I wear it more than one way?

Dress it up, dress it down (in the context that I dress up or dress down, which isn't much of a difference); wear it in warm and cool weather, except for seasonal items, of course; mix and match with more than one pair of pants and more than one sweater or accessory option.

It's just not worth owning items that can only be worn one specific way. Plus, it can cause me to try and waste more money on finding items to match it with and go down a slippery slope of buying stuff I don't love. Every item I own can be worn more than one way. When I feel stuck, I search that particular item in Pinterest for ideas, and only Pin outfits with items I already own (i.e., "black vest outfit," "chelsea boots outfit," "chambray shirt outfit").

3. Has it been in style for a while?

And will the quality let me keep wearing it for years? Sure, styles vary through the years. But there are some basic things that have longevity and those are the things truly worth adding to the closet. These are the basics and staples that everybody keeps returning to. A nice pair of jeans or neutral pants, a neutral button up that can be tucked in or worn open over a basic tee. Is your style louder and bolder? Get these basics in colors and patterns that can still be mix and matched.

The more of the closet that makes up these items, the more versatile. This is sort of the foundation for and essence of a capsule wardrobe. Of course this doesn't make up everything I own. But I try to keep my trendier pieces to a minimum, because I know I may not be wearing them very long. I'm also prone to go cheap on the trendier items for that same reason.

4. Is it a color, pattern, or style I naturally reach for repeatedly?

When it comes to buying the more "eccentric" pieces of a wardrobe, they need to very closely match my style or I know I won't wear them often. I know this by the history of what colors I actually wear and which I've bought and neglected. I also know this by how much I love it. My style naturally strays away from too crazy of color or patterns, but they also make the perfect way to perk up an outfit.

I love wearing greens, warm yellows, florals or greenery in those colors, and black and white stripes. I reach for those repeatedly, so they're worth owning within reason. I don't keep adding options, because I know I don't wear patterns and colors often enough to justify that. So I usually need to be done with one color or pattern shirt before I buy a new one.

5. Is it the look I'm aiming for in this season?

Or another question that sometimes helps: Can I imagine my style "icon" wearing it? I usually have an idea in my head of what style I'm aiming for, and I have to keep that image in my mind when I go shopping to make sure I don't settle for more comfortable pieces I already own.

This image in my head helps guide my shopping list for the season (I usually only need a couple items to replace or build on what I already have), and it helps keep me looking put-together. Comfort is the top of my priority list, so even if I'm looking for nice or dressier items, I still make sure it's comfortable.

Create a capsule mindset to put your energy to growing your life...

Additional Outfit Tips

+ Find your "uniform."
The go-to example of a uniform is Steve Jobs' jeans and black turtle necks. The main perk is that it limits options when getting dressed which helps save energy for more important decisions. It also reduces unnecessary shopping and keeps closets and dresses neat and tidy. A uniform can be a little broader. Take whatever your go-to favorite outfit is, replicate it, and you've got a uniform.

+ Know yourself.
Learning more about who I am as a whole person has done the most in helping me figure out my style and find what makes me feel like my best self. It also helps me know whose advice to follow, and when to say "good for you, not for me" when something looks good, but isn't what I want in my wardrobe.

+ Know when enough is enough.
Many of us have been there--shopping when there isn't anything in particular that we need. As you get more into the capsule mindset, you'll get a better idea of what's missing in your wardrobe or what needs replaced, and what's just plain unnecessary. Telling ourselves no and resisting the urge to fill the cracks in our lives with shopping (or whatever your vice may be) is absolutely necessary for becoming healthy whole people. It can be a challenge, but your closet, budget, and heart thanks you for learning when enough is enough. (It's a lesson I'm learning and re-learning.)

+ Get two options in your go-to staples.
I tend to overwear my go-to uniform pieces, so I like having two options. This helps reduce how quickly I wear things out, and gives me better options for mixing and matching. For instance, I own a tan skinny belt and a leopard print one; a basic black glasses frame and the other a fun patterned green; tees in heather grey and black-and-white striped; a tan sweater and a black sweater; a chambray button up and a plaid button-up; a grey crew neck sweater and a striped crew neck sweater. I love these items and wear them regularly, so when I double upped on them, I did so with two different options that help me create lots of no-brainer outfits.

+ Learn easy ways to "complete" an outfit.
A front-tuck or fully tucked in shirt; a belt (patterned or not); a "third piece" like a cardigan, a vest, or a button up; and a simple accessory are all easy ways to complete an outfit. Any combination of these help me feel more put-together in my really simple outfits.

The point of a capsule wardrobe isn't to have one more list of expectations to measure up to and adding one more thing to your to-do list. The point is to wear what you love and love what you own, shop less, be sure of your purchases, keep your clothes a long time, and look put-together with minimal effort. Plus, that little thing about saving your time, money, and energy for growing life.

You don't have to have a specific 9-piece capsule or wear only 33 pieces of clothing to make that happen. (Although I love a good Project 333-type clothing challenge.) If you don't have the time or the desire for those things, then just start growing a simple capsule mindset with the questions above.

You can start enjoying the benefits and put your precious resources toward what really matters in your life.


also see:
new? start here...
glasses love at first try-on
create life balance
goal-setting brought me back to life
grow your life emails

*Note: Affiliate links used. Purchases made through these links could earn me a small commission with no extra cost to you. Clicking affiliate links before doing your online shopping is a little known way to support the bloggers, writers, and online creatives that you love. So if you choose to do that here, thank you!

Glasses Love at First Try-On

Love at First Home Try-On -- How to order glasses online from Warby Parker with confidence.

Trying glasses on in your own homefor freemight sound too good to be true. I assure you it's not. Finding my prescription glasses and sunglasses was love at first Try-On. I've mentioned I get comments from strangers complimenting my glasses or asking me where I got them... here's the low-down.

Affiliate links* used. See full note below.

This is specifically about our favorite glasses company's free Home Try-On. If you want to see all the reasons we love Warby Parker (glasses starting at $95 for frames and lenses, they donate glasses for each pair sold, and their free Home Try-On) then see my page >> Sharing My Love for Glasses.

Order Glasses Online with Confidence
(Do a Home Try-On)

Like most online glasses boutiques, Warby Parker has a virtual try-on, where you can upload a photo of yourself to see the frames added to the photo. But the real perk is Warby Parker's free Home Try-On, where they'll send you 5 frames to try on at home for 5 days. Seriously, no strings attached. You send them back and don't pay a thing until/unless you decide to purchase your favorite pair.

Here's how it works...

1. Order your Home Try-On.

Choose 5 frames (glasses and/or sunglasses) from WarbyParker.com and add them to your Home Try-On "order." If you can't find five you want to try on, they'll auto-fill the box with others you might like.You enter credit card information as a back up in case you never return the frames. They put a charge of a dollar to ensure there are funds in the account, then that charge disappears after a couple days.

2. Try the glasses on.

We usually receive our Home Try-On within a few days from "ordering" it. You have five days to try on the glasses. Share pictures on Facebook or Instagram if you want input from family and friends. I like looking at the frames in the mirrors I already use on a daily basis and maybe even with a couple different of my go-to outfits. It helps me feel more sure that I'm choosing frames that really fit my style.

3. Send the glasses back.

When you're done trying on the glasses, or by the fifth day of the Try-On, the glasses need to be sent back. The instructions are clearly printed in the box. The glasses get put back in the same box they came in, and the enclosed shipping label is put over the box, then drop it in the mailbox. Easy Peasy.

4. Order another Try-On or purchase your top pick(s).

At any point in the Try-On process, I can choose a pair (or two ;) to order and get filled with my prescription. Or I could order another round of 5 frames to try on if I didn't find any I liked in the first round. And if I decided I didn't like any or didn't want to order at this time, the whole process still wouldn't cost me anything.

A few things to keep in mind when it's ordering time: You need a copy of your prescription updated within the last year (you have to send it after you order). You'll need an accurate pupillary distance. And if insurance will cover a portion of the cost, get those forms from your insurance provider so that you can submit and get your reimbursement as soon as possible. You can read more about this all >> here.

Tips for Finding Your Best Pair:

+ Branch out to try on something you wouldn't normally choose.
Be sure your Try-On includes a good mix of shapes, patterns, colors, and sizes. This will help you narrow in on what you're really looking for. You can do another Home Try-On if you want to compare frames within your preferred shape, color, size.

+ If budget will allow it, consider looking for a statement pair and a basic pair.
My most complimented glasses are my round green tort, but I also like having my basic whiskey tort that don't distract if I'm wearing colors or patterns in my outfit. One pair is also bigger/looser that feels more comfortable if I have a headache (a fact of my life). And I wear glasses every single day, so it's worth having two pairs to rotate or to fill in if something happened to one of the pairs. (I do the same with my sunglasses--which came in handy when I lost a pair on vacation.)

+ Know who's opinion to ask for/listen to.
I usually need confidence to get the more trendy pair, because it's what I love. So even if I post pictures and get other's opinions, I mainly listen to the people I trust who are encouraging me to get the fun pair.

+ Measure your current glasses.
If you already have a pair that's a size you love, then measure the lens, bridge, and temple arm to compare the numbers with the frames on Warby Parker's website. You'll find these numbers on the glasses product page under "measurements" with numbers in millimeters representing Lens Width - Bridge Width - Temple Arm Length. Glasses can look bigger or smaller in photos, so this will help you get a more accurate idea of what you're looking for.

Finding glasses you love doesn't have to be overwhelming or intimidating. The pressure of choosing glasses at a store with sales associates who don't know me giving their opinions used to stress me out. (Do I sound like a total introvert? Because I am.) Now, I not only like the selection, price, and customer service better, I actually love my glasses.

Order a free Home Try-On from Warby Parker and see for yourself.

And when in doubt, get the statement glasses ;)


also see...
new? start here...
sharing my love for glasses
email signup

*Note: Affiliate links used. Any purchases made through these links could earn me a small commission with no extra cost to you. This is a little known way to support the bloggers, writers, and online creatives that you love. So if you choose to do that here, thank you!

10 Ways to Create Life Balance

10 Ways to Create Life Balance

Life balance is my jam! I realized that all over again this week when I got to be part of a panel on "life balance" for a college Leadership class. It was such a joy to share how we've created some semblance of balance in our home, family, careers, life, and I realized I haven't shared that here on my own blog.

Meanwhile, my home's a bit of a mess while I've focused on some work projects, ran errands, and had a kid home from school with a cough. And that's the main reason I haven't yet written about life balance. There are too many times I don't feel like I have it.

And I certainly don't have the world-wide keys to unlock life balance for everyone. In short: I don't have The Answers. I have found some ways that work for my life that help create the balance I need and the balance that keeps our family and home and life running, even, maybe especially, on chaotic days like today.

That's what I loved about being on the panel--I was simply answering questions sharing what works for me. Those of us on the panel answered questions about figuring out what's most important to us, deciding what to say "no" to when we're too busy, destressing during the week, making time for hobbies and interests, and dealing with daily life when going through personal trauma.

So, I'm going to share some of my responses here, just in case any of this might unlock some piece of life balance for you, too. These are the practices of life balance that I return to over and over in my life. Over time much of it has become my autopilot and is what I attribute any balance I've found.

*Affiliate links used. See full note below.

1. Decide your top 3.

I got this habit from DayDesigner. Each of their planner pages have a place to write your top 3 tasks/priorities to stay focused on what's really important for that day. This works for looking at the week, the season, or even your life. Balance isn't about always getting everything done and doing everything in equal proportions. Life balance is about making sure your limited time and energy goes to what really matters. Focusing on your top 3 can help make that happen.

If you complete only 3 things today, which will make the day feel successful? What about for this week? This season? The year? Your life? This can help simplify a too-long to-do list, give a starting point, and build motivation to continue progress beyond these three things. Then you're free to stop trying to do it all, and can rest in peace knowing you've done what matters.

2. Do the next right thing.

I first read about this years ago, but have since heard it a lot. The idea is that you don't climb a mountain, write a book, find life balance all at once. You start with the first literal step, the first writing session, the task right in front of you that will help balance out your life.

What is your next right thing in this moment? Often when I'm asking myself this question, my next right thing is some monotonous chore like washing the dishes or folding the laundry. Clearing up the obvious clutter and checking off a quick task is usually just the starting point I need to tackle the rest of my list or be able to relax in peace--both can contribute to my overall life balance.

3. Choose your support group.

There's a saying floating around attributed to businessman Jim Rohn that "You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with." Your lifestyle and your ability to live the life you want is largely dependent on the people you choose to spend your time with. We can encourage or discourage those around us, and we can choose to be around people that generally do one or the other. Adult friendships are hard even without thinking of the life value we get from our friends, but one way to be proactive about this is with something called a "mastermind" group.

Who are your 5 closest friends? Are there people you could invite into your circle to encourage each other in life? A mastermind group is a small group, around 3-5 people, that meet regularly to talk about goals, share what they're learning, and hold each other accountability. The mastermind group I am part of began to talk about blogging and our creative online work. We have met biweekly and monthly, depending on what we all have going on. And while we largely talk about work-related goals, we also spend time sharing what we're learning, how we're using our gifts and staying inspired, and about life balance. A mastermind group can meet for working out or health, work, life balance, or any number of topics. Point is, find friends that encourage rather the discourage the life you want to live.

4. Know yourself and live into that.

A question that was rephrased a couple different ways in the life balance panel was how to find out what's really important to you and make that happen. For me, this journey started more so after finishing college and starting a family. I had done various personality type-tests in the past, but didn't start making use of the information until later. Now instead of learning something about myself--what makes me tick and such--and just brushing it off, I use it to make sense of my life direction. Who I am and what I value has been a part of my life basically since my birth. I grow and develop, but for the most part I'm just discovering more of who I already am. As I discover all of who God made me to be, I discover a little more of His purpose and calling in my life and for my family. So knowing myself and making choices that help me live into that has been huge and helping me feel satisfied and balanced in my life choices.

What is your personality? What are your strengths? What interested you as a kid, and what interests you now? What makes you feel alive? This is the foundation for so many choices you will make throughout your life. Consider taking a self discovery test like StrengthsFinder, the Enneagram, Myers Briggs, and others. This information can help you know yourself better, including how to take care of yourself, what type of goals to set or career to pursue, and even what gifts you have that can serve others more naturally. This sort of personal growth uncovers who God made you to be leading to a life balance specific to all of your strengths and weaknesses.

5. Say your best yes, and even some hard nos.

Two of the best books I've read so far on this topic are: Essentialism and The Best Yes. Both offer really practical ways to be sure you're focusing your time and energy on what really matters for you, ultimately leading to life balance. One of my big takeaways is considering how enthusiastic I am when I say "yes" to something. Is it forced, filled with guilt or obligation, or something I'm vaguely interested in? If so, then I'm going to fizzle out or hate it right from the start. But if my yes is a "heck, yes!" then there's likely some value to the opportunity that will keep me motivated even when life gets difficult.

Is your answer a "heck, yes"? If not, maybe a no would be a better response. Even if there's something you want to say yes to, there might be something more important that needs to take your time and energy for this season. I've had to say some nos to things I actually wanted to do, just because it wasn't the right season for it. Only you can know what's the best yes for you and your family and the life balance you're aiming for.

6. Make choices based on what's most important to you.

This is going back a little bit to that "know yourself" thing. But even more than that, know what you value. In the life balance panel, my answers kept returning to the fact that we value faith and family and make most of our decisions prioritizing those two things. That can look different for different people. For our family that meant me being a stay-at-home-mom for the last 9+ years. The truth is we actually can't "afford" for me to stay home with our kids all day. We just valued that aspect of providing for our family enough that we were able to make other sacrifices in order to make it happen. This isn't about making the "right" choices--I don't believe there usually is such a thing. I do believe there is such a thing as making your right choices. The choices only you can make for your family. Prioritizing family can mean a lot of different things to different people--know what your values mean for the choices you make.

What do you value? What's most important to you in life? Big picture: What are your top priorities, and what helps you meet those needs? Know what's most important to you and make choices based on those priorities. We all make sacrifices, so we have to choose the ones that help us live into the life we want.

7. Make a plan, and write it down.

I go a little overboard on this, just because writing things down is a big part of who I am. But you don't have to have extensive planning sessions or keep journals of notes. In fact, unless you have an inner need to: Don't. Keep it simple, and just jot down some quick answers to the questions in this post. Or list some of the things you hope to do in the next few years. There is value to just writing down simple things like who you are, what you value, what you want to do in life. You don't even necessarily have to post this anywhere. The act of writing it means you're putting those goals and priorities into your brain space, giving you a direction to head. A purpose and a calling of sorts, helping you live the balanced life you dream of.

What does your dream balanced life look like? Given your strengths and values and place in life... jot down some of the details a balanced life might look like for you. From this list you can choose your top 3 to focus on or you can choose your next right step. Or you can lose the list and forget about it, and that dream/plan will still be there in your head and heart guiding you toward the balance you're capable of. If you want to explore more extensive goal/life planning, I love PowerSheets for that.

8. Know what season you're in.

This needs to be said, because life balance looks different throughout seasons of life. Some seasons are full of energy and motivation and life balance will include a lot of getting stuff done. Some seasons are about travel or family or taking a break after a busy season. And some seasons are about just plain ol' survival if you're dealing with a major life change (move, child, career change), a personal trauma, or an illness. There are seasons when getting out of bed is a victory worth celebrating, so don't discredit the accomplishment in the "little" things.

What season are you in? Is this a season of dealing with change or slowing down to savor or hustling to get things done? What season are you in emotionally--thriving and blooming, or planting and waiting to see if anything will come up from the dirt? Knowing the season you're in can help you give yourself grace to let go of what you're not able to complete now, or at least perspective to know that highs or lows come and go, and that really is the broad swing in the balance of life.

9. Take a break.

Shut it down. The notifications, the technology, your brain. Reset. Be in nature. Take a nap. Make time for a hobby or a creative pursuit. Learn one if you don't have one. Turn on music, go for a walk, visit with a friend. This is important to do a little bit each day, and for the 24-hour Sabbath each week. It's essential for our health, and can even help us come back to our work and our stresses with a fresh perspective and new creativity.

How do you destress? How often do you unplug, and when can you make that happen each day and each week? Consider making a list of the ways you enjoy taking a break. Those things mentioned above that help you feel alive--do more of those to help balance out the adult obligations of life. Fill your life with more living.

10. Prioritize balance for your life.

The real way I find a balanced life is by prioritizing balance. Feeling balanced matters to me. I know my threshold for stress and I know which habits will lead me to feel unbalanced. Simplifying is also deeply important to me--it's at the core of who I am, so that becomes my inner compass to make choices that enrich the lives we want rather than the lives we see others living.

Do you prioritize balance in your life? If not, what is more important to you? If so, which areas in particular do you aim to keep balanced? Live into the balance you envision for your life, not the balance you think you "should" be aiming for.

A balanced life is possible--when we stop chasing someone else's version of balance and instead pursue our own. Take whatever of these life balance practices that work for you, and leave the rest guilt-free. Guilt only hinders your life balance.

Life balance is full of grace and finding your own groove for your life.


also see:
new? start here...
the goals that brought me back to life
slow and steady self-care over the long haul
signup for emails

*Note: Affiliate links used. Any purchases made through these links could earn me a small commission with no extra cost to you. This is a little known way to support the bloggers, writers, and online creatives that you love. So if you choose to do that here, thank you!