Building Your First Capsule Wardrobe: The Basics

There's a lot that goes into creating your very first capsule. When I first set out on this adventure, I thought it was just cleaning out your closet (although, this is a huge part of it!). Many people look at this "trend" and think, "Oh, it's easy!" 

But there is a HUGE amount of planning that goes into building a cohesive, stylish, seasonal-based wardrobe. I seriously underestimated the amount of work that goes into this.

I've looked for guides, but many of these posts break it down seasonally. When they do this, they don't explain to people that they reuse a lot of the pieces in their wardrobe. They don't share what their year-round basics are, what is specifically for spring/summer, etc. 

So I've created a guide in which I'm going to break down the basics, things many minimalistas have in their wardrobes that are used year-round. 

First things first, you need to decide what colors appear most frequently in your CURRENT wardrobe. Why? Because this determines what your eye is already drawn to. We have our own specific tastes, and to create your very basics, you should stick to what you absolutely love and wear all the time. 

As I went through my closet, I found, not surprisingly, that the colors I wear the most are white, black, gray, and navy. Go through your closet and just look at all the pieces you currently have and make a note of what colors occur the most in your closet. These are your basic colors. 

Determine what types of clothes you need.

Do you work from home? Need business professional clothes? You need to build a wardrobe based on what you're going to be doing. I'm about to graduate from college, which means I need to stock up on business casual clothes. Maybe you're starting a new job or maybe you're just going back to school. You need to figure out the type (meaning business casual, casual, formal, fitness, etc) you'll need based on whatever you're doing. Yes, this goes right down to what types of hobbies you have. If you run every day, you'll probably need some activewear. 

For me, I'm having to go through and decide what business casual clothing I will need going into the fall. I've had summer internships, which means I have clothing for summer business casual, however, I don't have as much fall/winter clothing. I start thinking about this now so that I can plan and budget for whatever I might need to purchase. I also need to go through all of the free tees I have accumulated over the years. I definitely will need some, but not nearly as many as I have.

Do you have anything that already fits in this category?

Here comes the hard part. Now you have to go through and clean out your closet (here is a guide that I used when I cleaned out my own closet!). You need to see if you already have any items that already go well into whatever you have decided you needed. But you also need to see what all is in good shape. If there are holes in it, if it is faded, or if you just don't like it anymore, you need to get rid of it. 

WHEN SHOPPING, PURCHASE THINGS YOU CAN WEAR OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

Becoming a minimalist is all about smart shopping. This is all about getting the highest quality you can afford so that it lasts for a long time. Different items you want to last longer include denim jackets, jeans, a nice leather tote, everyday shoes, and more.

It can be easy for us to cringe when we see the price tag on those items, but the reason you are splurging on those things is to ensure that they will last for a long time! Does this mean you can't find great quality pieces at a great price? No. When I go shopping, I hit up all of the sales to ensure I save a little money. I also shop at Factory stores, like JCrew Factory, GAP outlet, LOFT outlet and so on.

SHOP MY FAVORITE BASICS:

WHAT ARE YOUR QUESTIONS ON CAPSULE BASED WARDROBES? HOW CAN I HELP YOU?

How to Clean Out Your Closet (The RIGHT Way!)

Cleaning out your closet is probably the worst chore you can have. That's why I usually put it off for years. As I mentioned in this post, the last time I cleaned out my closet I found stuff from over 3 years ago that I hadn't touched... and I moved two years ago. 

But that is because it's so overwhelming trying to get rid of things. We have sentimental memories with these different items and it makes it difficult for us to move on. But when we don't get rid of things, we accumulate so much stuff, to the point that we can't keep up with it anymore.

So I created a guide filled with questions for you to use as you go through your closet to help you decide what needs to stay and what needs to go. 

DO YOU LIKE THE COLOR?

If not, you probably won't wear it often. You want to stick with colors you absolutely love when building a minimalist wardrobe. For me, my colors are Navy, White, Gray and Black. Does it mean I stick to these colors? No. But the majority of my clothing falls into those categories.

DO YOU LIKE THE CUT?

Building a minimalist wardrobe relies on comfort. If you don't like the way something is cut, you could be uncomfortable when you wear it. If you don't feel comfortable in it, then it has no place in your wardrobe. 

DO YOU LIKE THE LENGTH?

See reason above.

DOES IT FIT?

It's not just about comfort, it's also about the way it actually looks on your body. If you have a button up shirt that is gaping across your chest, it doesn't fit you properly. If your jeans are so loose that you can hold the waist-band an inch out from your body, you need new jeans. 

DOES IT ACTUALLY FIT?

Yes, I'm asking you again. Because I can guarantee that you just tried to rationalize in your brain that you should hold on to something that doesn't fit you properly. If it doesn't fit, get rid of it. If you're unsure, ask your most honest and blunt friend. I know everyone has one of those. Second opinions are always welcome when it comes to cleaning out your stuff.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WORE IT?

If it has been longer than a year since you've worn it, it probably doesn't have a place in your closet. Exceptions include a good winter coat. Keep your wardrobe current and quit buying clothes you only wear once!

DOES IT HAVE SENTIMENTAL VALUE?

This is the one question that can save something. I am in no way telling you to throw out your wedding dress. I love vintage pieces that have been passed down in the family. If something has sentimental value, true sentimental value (not "I wore this on the first day of high school"), then hold on to it. 

CAN YOU REPURPOSE IT?

One of my plans with a lot of my t-shirts I accumulated throughout my college career is to have someone make a t-shirt quilt out of them. This way, I still have the memories tied in with those shirts, but I don't have a ton of t-shirts laying around that I don't wear.

I hope this guide has been helpful for you all! Remember, once you've gone through all of your things, divide it into two piles: trash (for those clothing items that are just too worn out) and donate! There are many people in this world who don't have adequate clothing.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CLEANED OUT YOUR CLOSET? WHAT MAKES YOU NERVOUS ABOUT CLEANING OUT YOUR CLOSET?

Madewell Transport Tote + Clutch Giveaway!

Relaunching and rebranding my blog has been one of the most intense processes. As I did an audit on what was successful and what wasn't on The Everyday Elegance, I quickly realised that a lot of what I was doing just wasn't working.

So now that I feel like I've created and established a system that will work, I felt it was time to celebrate! I announced my hiatus and rebrand around the time of my blogiversary, so I wanted to celebrate not only that, but also to share what all I've been working on!

The Madewell Transport Tote is easily my favorite tote on the market right now. It's the perfect size, sturdy, and honestly, it's made well (aptly named, I know!). Also, if anyone else loves the smell of leather as much as I do, you'll love this tote.

However, I wanted to add a little something extra. This clutch is the coolest one I've seen in awhile. It fits pretty much everything you'd need for a night out, and acts as a wallet. Part of minimalism is about finding multiple ways to wear/use things, and having this as a wallet/clutch is an awesome idea. 

So, as a celebration for the launch of Minimalista.co, I'm giving away a Madewell Transport Tote and a clutch to ONE lucky reader! 

TO ENTER, USE THE GLEAM WIDGET BELOW!

  • This giveaway will close July 19, 2016 at 11:59 PM.
  • One winner will receive a Madewell Transport Tote valued at (valued at $168) and a Madewell Zip Pouch Clutch (valued at $49.50) in the color English Saddle.
  • This competition is open to US residents aged 18 and older. 
  • Entrants must log in via Gleam and enter their email address. This is the ONLY mandatory task. You can gain extra entries in the draw by completing the other 5 tasks listed in the Gleam widget.
  • Only one entry per person. 
  • This winner will be generated by Gleam Giveaways at random.
  • The Winner will be informed via email within 7 days of the closing day and must respond within 7 days to claim their prize. 
  • The prize will be delivered to the Winner within the agreed timescale between Minimalista.co and the Winner.

A Minimalist Lifestyle

It all started when I decided to clean out my closet. I had a pretty big shake up, financially, and was trying to scrounge up some clothes to sell on Poshmark. I knew I needed to add in some extra income, but I didn't realize it was my spending habits that were putting me in this stressful situation. As I was looking at my expenses, I realised I was spending more on what I considered "luxuries" than I actually needed.

Not only was I spending money like there was no tomorrow (even though it was on discounted clothing...) I noticed that my closet was overflowing with clothes to a point where I was overwhelmed when I opened my closet. There was clothing that I hadn't touched in over a year.

As I looked under my bathroom sink and in my drawers, I noticed the same thing. It was filled with crazy amounts of nail polish and headbands (FYI, I don't wear headbands anymore unless I'm working out). Bright red and pink nail polishes that I never use filled my drawers. I had books on a bookshelf in my living room that I hadn't even attempted to read, DVD's that I hadn't really used in almost two years (Thanks, Netflix!). 

My almost-700-square-foot apartment was filled to the brim with stuff, and I was overwhelmed.

In the past, I had done "Spring Cleaning", but that was really just a time where I actually dusted every surface in my house in one day. This year was the first year that I realized I hadn't ever actually gone through my clothes and gotten rid of things that I hadn't used, and I realized it when I was suffocating in my own stuff that I had accumulated throughout the years.

Why a minimalist lifestyle?

Honestly, never again do I want to get to a point where I have a whole chest of drawers filled with clothes that I haven't touched in over a year. I want to stop buying things I don't need, stop buying poor quality items that break easily, and be able to save up for more quality purchases. I want to be able to go into a store and buy what I need and feel good about my purchases (Shopper's guilt is real).

Many people have this misconception that a Minimalist lifestyle is purging yourself of any joys in life. In fact, I think it's the opposite. It's about cutting your spending and possessions down to the basics so that you can actually recognise the luxuries in life. Does that mean you can't have luxuries? No! It just means you're not purchasing a bunch of junk every week.

Minimalista.co

Because of this realization and this transition in my life, I am rebranding The Everyday Elegance. Minimalista.co will be live May 23, 2016, and I can't wait to share it with you all. This new focus will be all about creating a capsule-style wardrobe without compromising your style.

A minimalist lifestyle not about limiting yourself. It's about developing your personal style and owning it. It's about being able to look in your closet and know that you will always have something to wear. It's about being able to justify your expenditures. It's about saving money over time. 

Is it a daunting challenge? Yes. Is it hard? Absolutely. But I challenge you to join me on this journey. After Minimalista.co goes live, I'll be debunking some of these misconceptions about a minimalist lifestyle. But during this time, I want to hear from you!


What are some of your fears about a minimalist lifestyle? How can I help you make the transition?


Shoot me an email with your response to these questions at Courtney@theeveryday-elegance.com or reach out in the comment section below. 

The Best Laid Plans.

I had this post written all about what my goals were for 2016. I'm not a fan of resolutions, rather SMART goals, ones that I know exactly when I am going to achieve them. I had them all planned out and thought that I knew exactly what was going to happen and when. 

You know sometimes the best laid plans often go awry.

I got some bad news recently. Everyone is okay, but it's not my place to share. However, it does affect me and my family. I took some time off of blogging because I was feeling unmotivated and school was starting. I remember thinking this past week, "Man, I really need something to kick my butt to take what I have scheduled this year seriously." And then this news popped up.

I had everything planned in my new blog planner, which I curated and had spiral bound. I was organized, I had everything laid out. I knew when each launch was, I had each partnership laid out... Everything was perfect. I had set 2016 up to be the best year yet, with no surprises.

But life doesn't work that way. Life is full of surprises. And it's moments like these that I remember that God often laughs at the plans of men. Of course, I still have all my goals set out. The main thing that has changed is the timeline. 

What's the point of this?

I share all of this with you because I know I am not the only one that makes up a plan and expects it to stay the exact same. When I started college, I thought I was going to go to Blinn for a year and then transfer to Texas A&M. That was the plan. But three years later, I was still at Blinn, finally finishing my Associates' Degree. UNT was not a part of my plan. In fact, when I visited, my thoughts were, "Heck no, I'm not coming here." Yet here I am a year out from graduating from UNT with my degree in social work. 

If there's anything I've learned repeatedly over the past almost 6 years of college, it's that my plans usually always end up changing. They say God laughs at the plans of man, well, it must be Comedy Central up there. I've spent hours crafting plans only to have them changed in an instant. I'm thankful that He is the one who holds my future because it means that there are greater plans out there. 

The point of this is not to tell you all that planning is stupid. It's the exact opposite. Planning keeps us organized, gives us hope and shows us that we can do more if we aspire to do so.


"When you understand and remember that there is a possibility for plans to change, it takes a level of stress off of you that you don't realize is there until it's too late."


When I received the news that I did, I was devastated. Why? Because I hadn't even considered it to be a possibility that everything would be flipped upside down. It wasn't even a blip on my radar. I went into 2016 thinking that it was going to be a breeze, that nothing was going to go wrong, and that there would be nothing to worry about. 

I started thinking about a number of different factors that this news had affected, what adjustments I needed to make, and what I could or couldn't do. I called my old roommate and cried because for the first time in a long time, I had the rug pulled out from under me. (She's always been the less dramatic, more mature of the two of us.) I didn't even consider that life changes overnight. I had so much invested into things not diverting from my plan that I didn't even realize it.

The main thing that's changed for me this year blog-wise? Well, I have some projects with both TEE and TCG that I am launching. I had planned on launching them later on, but with these new factors, I have a new fire in me to get them done on an even quicker timeline than I expected.

Does that make life easy? No. Fun? Definitely not. But having the rug ripped out from under you is what makes life, life. 

How has this new year been for everyone? Any changes in your plans?

How to Pack the Perfect Carry On Tote

*This post has been brought to you by HerCampus and Vera Bradley. All opinions are my own.

Many of you are about to start your Christmas travels because it's only 5 days away! Luckily, I don't have to travel anywhere crazy this year, but I have had to in the past. Trust me, I feel your pain if you are traveling by plane this year.

There is an anatomy of a perfect carry on. I've traveled enough by plane and seen a number of bad things happen (flight delays, lost baggage, screaming children on the plane... Not like babies whose ears are popping... Like a child running up and down the aisles screaming). I like to think that over the years I've mastered it.

The Basics:

Travel Sized Toiletries: I ALWAYS pack separate travel sized toiletries if I am checking baggage as well. I keep it in my tote so that I can have it ready to go through security. My main reason for this is because I had a friend pack all her things in her checked baggage once for a mission trip. The whole week, we were in Nicaragua and she didn't have any deodorant, toothpaste or a toothbrush. Luckily, the missionaries had some, but I'd rather skip the stress.

Reading Material: Whether it be magazines, an eReader or iPad, you'll typically want some entertainment, especially on the off chance there's a flight delay. Keep yourself entertained with a book, I personally recommend one of Mindy Kaling's (here and here), she's basically my favorite, or even load some episodes of your favorite TV shows!

Underwear: Seriously. I usually always pack a couple of pairs of underwear in my carry on because I've seen way too much baggage being lost. Spare yourself the trouble and pack some extra. I keep mine stashed in a pouch like the one photographed.

Other items: My computer, chargers, headphones, make up, and a blanket scarf. <- This one is ingenious, because it doubles as a blanket and a fashion statement.

The other major packing trick is making sure you have the best bag for the job. My newest addition has been my Vera Bradley Trimmed Laptop Tote in Tango Red. Vera Bradley has been one of my favorite brands for travel accessories for a while now. I currently have several make up bags, a grand traveler, and a backpack, but this tote has been my favorite addition so far!

Why? Because the tote is so versatile. In fact, I have been using it as a "work" bag for when I go and camp out at coffee shops to work on my blog. The compartment for the laptop is perfect. I have a Macbook Pro, and I like that I can fit my laptop in it's case in the pocket. If you have a larger laptop, it should fit quite nicely!

In addition to the large, padded laptop space, there are three inside pockets, one open pocket on the front (for items you need to get to quickly) and a pocket with a zipper on the back. The whole tote zips up to keep everything inside nice and safe.

One of the other things I love about this tote is the bright, poppy red color. When I was younger, I loved all the fun prints. I still do, but sometimes it's nice to have something that's a little more neutral (if you can call bright red neutral...). I love that this bag is more of a "grown up" bag, and it's got the space, functionality, and style to prove it!

Are you traveling for this holiday season? If so, where? How are you liking Vera Bradley's new prints?

The Ultimate Instagram Resource Guide for Bloggers

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Instagram is one of the most important social media outlets for bloggers and businesses. Millions and millions of people use it every day, meaning there is a huge opportunity to make your mark in the Instagram world. When I first started using Instagram, there weren't nearly as many people on it. I also wasn't a blogger. So when I started branding my social media for my blog, I felt like I was thrown into a whole new world of Instagram, one that I felt that I couldn't keep up with.

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I know that I'm not the only blogger who has had questions about the subject because there are a number of bloggers who have full series, categories and eCourses dedicated to learning how to use Instagram to better your brand. So I've compiled a list into the Ultimate Instagram Guide for bloggers of my favorite posts I've used to up my Instagram game!

Venus Trapped in Mars' Instagram Hashtags for Bloggers

Talk about a killer post that every blogger should pay attention to! Sarah of Venus Trapped in Mars nailed it with this particular post. One of the most shared posts on my Pinterest feed and has been shared thousands of times, it definitely is at the top of my list. Sarah features tons of hashtags that absolutely will triple your likes, no joke! And if you're dying for more, she added on to her list: 30 More Hashtags to Triple Your Likes.

Fall for DIY's How to Edit Beautiful Instagram Photos on Your Phone

First things first, if you aren't following Francesca on Instagram, you're missing out! Her post on editing photos for Instagram on your phone gives readers a step-by-step guide on how she edits her photos. Judging by the amount of followers she has, I'd say it's working. Definitely check it out!

The Nectar Collective's 5 Apps to Edit Your Photos for Instagram

Actually by Chaitra of PinkPot, this post featured on TNC provides readers with resources - free and paid - to edit your photos with. Learning how to edit your photos is important, and having a number of different tools to use will help you find the best combination for your particular aesthetic.

Helene in Between's Instagram for Success

This last one is an eCourse. Helene's Instagram for Success has literally been a game changer for me. I thought I was doing everything right with my Instagram, but I learned so much from taking this webinar/eCourse. She has so many tips, from editing to photos to working with brands through Instagram. And the coolest part: She's all about empowering bloggers to harness the power of this social media tool. I highly recommend signing up for Instagram for Success, especially if you're newer to Instagram for bloggers.

Instagram doesn't have to be stressful. Just take the time to learn more about what a successful Instagram looks like apply it to your own account. I promise, if you take the advice of these four people, you'll learn a number of things and definitely will grow your Instagram following.

For more tips on how to edit your Instagram photos, check out a behind the scenes look on how I edit my own photos for Instagram!

How to Stay Inspired as a Blogger

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Y'all, I feel like I'm the worst when it comes to finding inspiration for my blog. Obviously, I want to create content that's relevant for my fantastic readers, but I also want to share parts of my daily life, what I'm experiencing as a college student, social work student, fashion enthusiast and somewhat hoarder (okay, it's not that bad yet, but I have a lot of stuff). But one thing I've had multiple people ask me one thing: How to stay inspired when it comes to blog posts?

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Make Challenges for Yourself

I don't know about you, but I've found that when I make challenges for myself, I'm more likely to want to defeat those challenges. As a way of challenging myself, I've decided to join in on NaBloPoMo (national blog posting month) and by day 4, I've already had feelings of throwing in the towel.

But as I've gotten started on this challenge, I've found myself more and more inspired. I've received more comments, more page views and social shares since starting this challenge, and while I don't do this for the shares, it's fun to have my readers more engaged in my writing.

Open Your Eyes to What is Around You

Did you guys see my post on my favorite binge watch TV shows from yesterday? That post was inspired by me loving the heck out of Netflix. Write about what you love! Write about what you experience on a daily basis. It makes you more relatable and shows that you're a genuine person.

Today, I tweeted about how I haven't washed my hair in a couple of days... So now I have the idea to do a roundup of my favorite dry shampoos (a product I use at least twice a week). Try new things! You never know what your readers will enjoy until you try it.

Make a Note of It

On my iPhone, I have a whole note dedicated to blog post topics/titles so that I always have something to write about! Create a private inspiration board on Pinterest filled with ideas! Have a place where you keep everything that has to do with your blog. I recently started using Microsoft OneNote as a way to keep track of every idea I have. I've even started working on an eCourse! If you don't write down what inspires you, chances are, you'll forget.

Ask Your Readers

ASK THEM. Listen to your readers about what they are wanting from you! There is never anything wrong with asking your readers what they might like to read on your blog. In fact, I did this earlier this week! When you ask your readers what they would like to hear or learn about, you're giving them the unique opportunity to be involved with your creative process. How cool, am I right?

Truthfully, a lot of times I feel like I fail in the inspiration part. There are times where I don't feel like posting because I don't want to share something that isn't "great" or "pinnable". But in moments like this, I'm here to tell you: This is the time you need to be sharing your posts the most.