Capsule Wardrobe: What?

The “capsule wardrobe” is not a new a concept.  The phrase was first fashioned (pun intended) in 1970’s London where boutique owner Susie Faux suggested that women should base their entire wardrobe around a small number of classic, essential items that NEVER go out of fashion.  She encouraged her customers to find their style using these key pieces and then augment these items using key seasonal pieces.

In the late 80’s Dona Karen was the first designer to take the idea to the runway where she famously dressed 8 models in nothing but black body suits and black tights, who took to the run way and began dressing themselves in various combinations of items from the 7 piece collection.

Today capsule wardrobes exist in many different forms.  Some Creators have divised strict rules where followers must adhere to owning only a fixed number of items, only 3 t-shirts, 2 pairs of shoes etc.  And I think for some people this method really does work.  A great example of this is Project-333

Capsule wardrobes have been made popular again recently by the minimalist movement.  I was first introduced to this way of living by my beloved Netflix.  Is it me or does Netflix have some of the best documentaries ever?  I don’t know what it is but I feel like everytime I watch a Netflix documentary I end up on another life changing journey.  Maybe if I was smarter I’d just stop watching Netflix documentaries?  If you want to know more about minimalist living I suggest you take a look, or you can check them out here.

There are now many people all over the world practicing Minimalism to varying degrees, and a capsule wardrobe kinda comes with the territory.

So yeah, as usual I’m pretty bloody late to the party when it comes to owning a capsule wardrobe but, as they say, better late than never.

I don’t know if I need to tell you again the infinite great reasons why you should think about adopting this way of dressing yourself but I’m going to anyway.  Well I’m going to tell you the reasons why I made the change.

1.  The economy

Mostly MY personal economy but also the economy of the world (which we will get to in a separate post).  As a lover of fashion and shopping, I have spent ALOT of money on clothes.  Like, ALOT.  And so, as you can imagine, it was highly frustrating to realise (on an almost daily basis) that despite major investments in my wardrobe I had a. Nothing to wear b. No sense of what my true style actually was and c. An obscenely full and messy wardrobe and d.  A very pathetic looking bank account.

All in all a pretty ridiculous state of affairs.  And sadly I don’t think I’m alone.  How many of you out there regularly stare blankly into the abise that is your wardrobe with the words “I have nothing to wear” buzzing around your head?  Thought so.

2.  The planet

Yes I hate to break it to you but while we all go around mindlessly trying to fufill our addiction to clothes and shopping we are actually creating huge quantities of waste and pollution.  And we’re also feeding into a system where people are

 

 

 

Better late than never.

 

There are lots of reasons you should start a capsule wardrobe.  For me it was a bit of a light bulb moment.  I’m a person who questions EVERYTHING.  Even choosing an outfit is difficult when you play devils advocate with yourself.  And honestly I dont even think this is my fault.  Life is full of so much choice these days, how can we be expected to make a decision on anything?  So to me it made sense to take some of the choice out of the equation.  Choosing is actually fun now I know that every option I have is a GREAT option.

I think everyone on the planet has had a wardrobe clear out.  Usually in the Spring or Autumn.  You tip the entire contents of your wardrobe out onto the floor, sift through the items questioning and scrutinising every item.  “Is this even nice?”, “Do I need this?”, “Will I wear this?”, the questioning is endless and we are so scared of the possibility of losing that we dont actually have much of a clear out at all.  We basically just take it all out and put it all back in again but in a slightly more orderly fashion.

There are some guides out there that will offer you advice on how to to find your personal style and then create your capsule wardrobe.  This is certainly helpful, and I guess I kinda opted this method.  But I’m also a firm believer that over time a capsule wardrobe will help you develop and discover what your true personal style really is.  The more you delve into it and the more you really scrutinise each item, the clearer and more defined your style will become.  This why I really like fluid capsule idea.  Its less rigid so you can swap pieces in and out as your style develops and you really get a sense of the kind of wardrobe you really want.  If you want more help on how to find your true personal style, Signe from Use Less has produced a great video, watch it here.

 

My top 3 zero waste products

At the moment, being zero waste feels like an implausible, abstract concept.  I mean, I’ve always been someone who recycles food packaging and composts kitchen waste, I feel like these practices are pretty standard.  Most people would frown upon a person who didn’t recycle ANYTHING.

But ZERO WASTE?  Like.  NO.  WASTE.  That is next level.  Is that even possible?  Well I’m pleased to say it looks like it might be…

I’ve been inspired by the ingeniously named blog Trash is for Tossers by Lauren Singer.  Lauren lives in New York City and in my opinion is the Queen of zero waste.  The waste products from the last 4 years of her life fit into a single mason jar.  My boyfriend thought this was a joke.  I will assure you like I assured him this girl and her mason jar is real.  You can watch a video of Lauren talking us through the contents of her jar here.

Two Years of Trash
See.  I told you so.  Image via trashisfortossers.com

So now you’re probably thinking that you and I are in some way incapable of achieving this incredible feat.  And you might be right BUT I’ve already told you I like a challenge.  So here are my current favourite products that are helping me take baby steps towards a zero waste life.

A list!  Yeay!

  1.  Cotton carrier bags

    “why waste your money?  And why put another plastic bag into circulation?”

So unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years you will be well aware that stores in the UK no longer hand out a plastic bag when you make a purchase.  You can still buy a 5p bag from most places or, if you’re feeling extra flush you can buy a bigger, very-slightly-better-quality-but-still-plastic bag for 10p.  But why waste your money?  And why put another plastic bag into circulation?  I won’t bore you with facts about how evil plastic bags (and single use plastic items in general) are but if you want to know just how evil then take a look here.

Historically I’ve been pretty bad at remembering to grab my cotton shoppers before I hit Aldi, but I’ve learnt the trick is to have a few of them.  I now carry two in my handbag and I also have a spare in the car.  I’m not claiming the cotton shoppers I own are the most ethical or sustainable available but they are DEFO better than plastic bags.  I’ll keep my 5p thank you very much.

2.  Re-useable water bottle

Like most of us I’m a pretty busy person and spend a lot of time working or driving or generally being on the go.  This beauty comes with me everywhere.  I have the 532ml reflect bottle in matt silver (they also have an 800ml version and you can get both sizes in shiny silver too).  It’s perfectly sized to fit in my handbag and it has a cute little handle so you can swing it around and show it off to your friends (if you like).

More importantly the materials are all sustainably sourced and environmentally friendly.  The bottle itself is made from BPA free stainless steel, the lid from bamboo and the liner from food-grade silicone.

If you’re interested in this beautiful piece of zero waste kit you can get one right here.

kleankanteenzerowaste

To top it all off Klean Kanteen are kicking butt in the Sustainable Business Olympics (I don’t think that’s actually a thing but it should be).  Their factories are socially and environmentally responsible, they operate a green shipping program, and they belong to an organisation called “1% For The Planet” which means they’re committed to contributing lots of money to environmental organisations dedicated to preserving and restoring wild places.

3.  Menstrual cup

“There are loads of alternative eco-friendly products on the market now and the Mooncup is just one of them.”

I’m sorry guys but I’m going there.  So if you’re weird and squeamish and prefer to stay in a world where women are made from sugar and spice or whatever it is, then I suggest you leave.  Now.

We all know that cruising the crimson wave is a bit of a drag.  And thanks to single use sanitary products Mother Nature isn’t really enjoying the ride either.  Most single use tampons and pads use non-recycleable and potentially toxic materials that are harmful to our bodies and our environment meaning they all go to landfill.  There are loads of alternative eco-friendly products on the market now and the Mooncup is just one of them.  Its made from soft medical grade silicone, is latex-free and hypoallergenic and contains no dyes, BPA, phthalates, plastic, bleaches or toxins.  Each cup comes in a cute little ethically produced organic cotton bag, the only waste is the recyclable cardboard box it’s packaged in.

Are you sold yet?

How about the fact that they last for years and years and cost the same amount that you’d spend on disposable products in 6 months?  You only need one cup no matter where you are in your flow AND they’re Vegan.

Of all the items here I think that my Mooncup has been the biggest life changer.  I wont lie, it took a couple of months to get used to putting it in correctly, taking it out etc but now its as easy as anything else I’ve used in the past.  I’ve even lived in a van in a car park with VERY basic bathroom facilities and managed to use it so this in my book makes it a winner.  Now I get to enjoy the fact that every month I’m doing something great for the planet.

If you’re interested, Amazon seem to have them going pretty cheap.  Make sure you check out the Mooncup website to check your size before you buy.

zerowastemooncup
And you get a fridge sticker!  Yes this is actually stuck on my fridge.  Boyf dispairs…

I’m currently eyeing up some new products to add to my zero waste tool kit but like the good, slow-living, Conscious Queen I am, I’m taking my time deciding which products I can invest in that will make the biggest impact.  I’ll do another post like this one when I’ve added to my kit.

Please share your thoughts on these products or similar if you have them, and let me know what steps you’re taking to reduce your waste production in the comments below!

Peace.

 

Easiest Roasted Squash with Harissa

Seriously your dog could make this…

Well maybe not but honestly this is one very easy way to ramp up your plant-based cooking repatoire and make eating vegetables a little bit more exciting. I’ve made this a few times now and it’s tasty as well as nourishing.  Simples.

So I kinda made this up myself after eating something very similar at The Refuge in Manchester back in the summer. Would highly recommend paying those guys a visit, you won’t be disappointed.  Before then I’d never really paid a lot of attention to butternut squash.  It’s not that I had anything against it, I just didn’t really know what to do with it.  And let’s be honest it is one of the more intimidating looking vegetables, those thing are hea-vy.

The flesh is sweet and buttery like a sweet potato but not as starchy, and the skin goes all crispy when you roast it.  Plus they’re the most amazing orange colour inside!

 

Packed full of complex carbs, vitamins A and C plus, squash is a good source of calcium so great if you’re dairy free or vegan.

Harissa is a hot, aromatic paste made from chillies and lots of other herbs and spices.  It has just the right amount of heat to off set the sweetness of the squash.  I think this is a perfect autumn dish especially since September is prime squash season, which means a low-carbon footprint – another win for the sustainability squad!

To be honest I’m a bit of a lazy chef especially when I’m cooking just for me, so I usually have this on its own instead of a jacket potato but I think it makes a great meat alternative paired with some olive oil roasted potatoes and some seasonal greens on the side.

This recipe is for one roasted squash. That’s more than enough for two people.

Ingredients:

  • One butternut squash
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp harissa paste
  • Steamed seasonal greens to serve

Method:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 200C (gas mark 6) and grease an oven proof roasting tin with half the olive oil
  • Cut squash in half lengthways (it’s prettier this way and cooks quicker) and scoop out the seeds
  • Place skin side up on tray and brush with olive oil
  • Bake in centre of the oven for 30-35 minutes or until flesh is semi softened
  • Remove from the oven, turn the squash halves so they are skin side down and coat both sides with the harissa paste. You want a good covering but bear in mind this stuff is quite spicy so don’t over do it.
  • Return to the oven for another 35-40 mins or until the flesh is completely soft like a baked potato
  • Serve on its own or with your seasonal greens

You can speed up the cooking time slightly if you nuke the squash halves in the microwave for 6 mins either side (you’ll have to vary this according to the strength of your microwave).

Voila! That is literally it.  Hope you like.  I’d love some more vegetarian/plant-based recipies that include this wonderful vegetable, please share yours in the comments below!

IMG_9626
This is my dog.  Not making my roasted butternut squash.

 

My Autumn Capsule

I’ve always viewed a capsule wardrobe as restrictive.  I’m someone who gets bored fairly quickly and I like to get creative with my style.  I thought that limiting the amount of options in my wardrobe would leave me feeling bored and out dated.  But guess what…

I was wrong!

I know, it came as a shock to me too.

By following the fluid capsule wardrobe method I keep a basic capsule that remains static all year round and (the great news) every 3 months you can add some new items to give your wardrobe something extra for the season ahead.  I find this method particularly useful if your climate is more temperate (I think that this word is actually code for “indecisive and crap”) like ours in the UK.  It’s also great if you like to keep up with the current trends, you can add one or two pieces that will upgrade your wardrobe without completely confusing your style and emptying your wallet.

If you’re in the UK September marks the start of Autumn.  In my opinion the best of all the seasons when it comes to fashion, you get to crack out those chunky knits, your trusty boots and start piling on those layers.

Plus all those lovely leaves changing colour makes the light just glorious.

autumncapsule4

I’m fairly new to the whole capsule wardrobe game and I’m not a huge follower of the latest trends so this season I’ve decided to keep it simple, stay away from the shops and stick with items I already own.  I have some pieces stored away that I always turn to when the weather changes and the air gets just a little bit chilly.  They are great for adding layers to my existing outfits and they spice things up by adding a pop of colour.

 

My trusty olive-green jumper has probably seen better days but do you know what I love it.  It’s a real wardrobe work horse!  I might look to replacing it next year but for now it’s perfect.

I bought these black culottes from Zara pre capsule wardrobe.  I’ve had a fair bit of wear out of them through the summer months so I thought I’d keep them out and try out a few new looks.  They actually look pretty great with a chunky knit tucked in to the high waist, but I usually keep it simple and pair them with a basic tee and my wool coat, I think they make an outfit look a bit more put together than jeans.

So far I’m loving the fluid capsule idea.  I have less clothes but more choice.  Deciding what to wear is actually fun for the first time in my life.  And its good for the planet.

All in all it’s a win win situation!

If you want more info on how to create your own fluid capsule wardrobe I’d highly recommend heading over to Signe’s blog Uselesswardrobe.  She’s created an easy how-to guide to get you started.

What’s in your autumn capsule?  Let me know in the comments below!

The strip tease…

I want last week to be the LAST week that I did nothing about starting to do something that I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time.  Which means that this week HAS to be the week that I start.  So here I am.  Hi.

I’ve been wanting to start a blog for a while.  Mostly because I’m a creative person without a creative outlet but also because recently I’ve made some changes in my life that I’m hoping will make the world a better place.

Or at least make a start…

Since I can remember I’ve taken an interest in environmental issues.  I remember being petrified to watch Michael Jackson’s Earth Song video because I thought it accurately depicted the events that would unfold when the Ozone layer finally gave up the ghost.  Although to be honest, the way things are looking right now, 11-year-old me probably isn’t far wrong.  Gulp.

Over the past 18 months I’ve been on a bit of a mission to be more conscious about my lifestyle habits and the impact they have on our planet, good old Mother Earth.  It started with my diet and now I (mostly) follow a Vegetarian/plant-based diet.  The good thing about this is that is also has lots of health benefits.  I’m going to post a separate blog about this later.

Once I became fairly happy with my diet I began to wonder about my other lifestyle choices and how I could make some positive changes towards a healthier and more sustainable planet.

Now I would say I’m a pretty normal, stereotypical female, (my friends and relatives may disagree, you can make your own mind up along the way), and by this I mean I love make up.  And I love beauty products.  And I LOVE fashion.  I love other things too obviously but this is a blog not a dating profile.

So the big question is…

Can I be sustainable, conscious and low impact without sacrificing my love of food, beauty and fashion???

I know.  It’s a big ask.  But I like a challenge!  And this blog will hold me accountable, force me to get a bit creative and hopefully inspire others to make some positive changes too.  Oh and I reckon we could all save a bit of money along the way too.  Bonus.

The good news is that people are already doing this!  I’ve been inspired by a couple of bloggers/writers who are already doing an amazing job of spreading the low impact, sustainable word in their own way.

Signe Hansen from the UselessWardrobe is a minimalist fashion blogger who has inspired me to start making more conscious choices when it comes to fashion.  She has helped me to realise that we can still follow our own style, enjoy shopping and be creative with clothes without harming the environment and our wallets.  She encourages her followers to adopt a fluid capsule wardrobe, shop for good quality items that are ethically sourced and if they’re also second-hand you’re winning at life.  Basically her motto is “Less is more”, and I’m inclined to agree.

basiccapsule
My basic capsule wardrobe, inspired by Useless wardrobe

Many of you have probably already heard about Nicola Graimes and her book The Part-time Vegetarian.  A good friend and fellow environment-conscious human recommended it not so long ago.  The thing I like most about this book is that it’s not smug.  There’s no “You should not eat that, if you do you’re a bad person”, or “Eating that steak will definitely end the world tomorrow” vibe.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  Nicola opens the book by stating that after nearly thirty years of being 100% Veggie, she is now adding in small amounts of meat, poultry and fish into her diet.  I think this makes the book more accessible to new budding Vegetarian/Vegans, it shows us that you don’t have to

Be one or the other.

Its ok if you want to eat some meat now and again, but I’m pretty sure you won’t want to if you cook your veggies like Nicola does.  I can honestly say I’ve loved everything I’ve cooked from this book so far and it’s really helped me to see vegetables as the headliner instead of the supporting act.

IMG_9633
And its very pretty to look at. Which is nice.

This is probably a good place to stop and clarify a couple of things (and also I love a good list)…

  1.  I’m not an activist – simply put I’m not perfect.  This is a journey for me and I’m hoping to help you on yours.  I’m not here to preach or scare you all into never eating steak or buying clothes from unethical sources ever again.  We’re all human and we have ingrained habits that are hard to break.  I just want to rouse some consciousness.
  2. I’m not an expert – Not in this anyway.  I’m not planning on baffling you with facts and figures and making claims I can’t back up.  Again this is just my journey and a way of making myself accountable.
  3. This blog is an experiment – I’ve toyed with writing this blog for a while.  I deliberated over what I will write about, which topics I will tackle, what message I want to convey etc.  At first I thought I would just make it about food, or just make it about fashion, but the truth is I don’t really want it to JUST be about any of those things.  It’s about being more conscious about lifestyle choices.  Maybe that’s too vague, maybe it’s not.
  4. See.  Lists are great!

So there you go.  My first blog post.  Minimalist, low impact, environmentally conscious idealist with a love of food, beauty, and fashion.  Its hard trying to summarise what this project will entail as I’m not really sure myself,  I’ve never been one for planning.  Let’s just dive in and see what happens!

Enjoy!