Build a Better Business Wardrobe

One of my friends literally had a job opportunity fall into her lap last week that was an improvement over her previous position in so many ways: better work environment, more responsibility, and a pay raise. (Cha-ching!)

Talking over drinks she confided she was worried more than anything about what she was going to wear to her new workplace. It’s a struggle to find clothes that suit her body-type already; trying to add more professional pieces to her wardrobe while on a budget made it an even bigger challenge than usual. “I don’t want to buy a bunch of new stuff just to wear to work,” she complained.

It made me think about my own wardrobe journey, from the time when I had an overflowing closet (working at a clothing store didn’t help), to the time where I learned to let go of things I was holding onto just because I didn’t love myself. Even now I’m not totally satisfied with my clothing collection, so we ended up having a lot to commiserate about.

The capsule wardrobe is a concept that I’ve been contemplating for sometime now ever since I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The idea is to pair down your wardrobe down to 33 key pieces (minus things like underwear, socks, workout clothes, etc.) that can mix and match with ease. (Although according to this article, most of us are doing it wrong.) The term was originally coined by London fashion boutique owner Susie Faux and has now become popularized through sites such as Project 333, which has a detailed explanation of the whole concept and a step-by-step guide on how to implement it into your own life. There’s even a psychological theory behind it- decision fatigue– which brought more attention to public figures such as Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg for their “uniform dressing”.

Unless you want to spend hours down the Google rabbit hole, I suggest not searching capsule wardrobe examples. (Besides, I did most of the work for you here on Pinterest.)  A lot of it is in the strategy- this breakdown really helped me to visualize how it might look if I tried to design one of my own.

After ransacking some ideas from here and here, my friend and I came up with a few work outfits using the clothes already in her closet- we just stuck to a neutral palette, incorporated some subtle patterns and shots of color, and brainstormed ways to layer pieces for the chillier months to come.

Honestly, most of us just want to get up and go to work with as little hassle as possible. Cutting down on her clothing choices, and leaving her only with outfits that were coordinated and classy is making her leave for work a more confident woman every morning. Creating a capsule wardrobe isn’t really for the faint of heart- it does take time and effort- but for someone looking to create a better business wardrobe it seemed totally worth the effort.

And as for me? Well, I might have gotten a little inspired too. Let’s just say that we all know what I’m going to be doing this weekend, and it’s probably going to have something to do with my closet.

Have you experimented with a capsule wardrobe in your life? Did it make a difference on how you dressed for work? Let us know what worked for you (or if it didn’t!) or email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com. I could use your advice too!

Or, hey- maybe you’re totally not into this capsule wardrobe thing anyway. This article makes a good argument for how our obsession to minimize our closets is taking away our personality and sense of style. Is she right? You be the judge!

 

 

5 Organizing Dilemmas That Have Me Puzzled

KBB_organizing_dilemmasIn my social circle I am known as a “fixer”- people often come to me for advice when they’re struggling either personally or professionally (one of the many reasons I ended up getting into the freelance business).

So it’s pretty frustrating for me when I come across any organizing dilemma- as few and far between as they may be- because it challenges my belief that almost anything can be organized. I’m not one to strive for a perfectly organized home but I do believe in finding solutions that ease and comfort to your lifestyle. One of the keys to good organization is finding a place for everything in your home, but there are still a few challenges I face when organizing my home that I’m afraid to admit have me stumped.

1) Batteries- Storing a fresh pack seems like an easy enough task, but where do you store the dead ones that are waiting for disposal? (In Toronto, dead batteries must be dropped off to a facility to be recycled specially. There are drop-off containers in most stores where batteries are sold, like electronics and office supply stores.) How do you not mix up the two? I honestly can’t decide on the best place to store them.

2) Hangers- What do you do with hangers not in use in your closet? Seeing a closet of empty hangers drives me up the wall. I try to stash the ones that I’m not using on a shelf towards the back of my closet, but keeping up this practice requires a lot of maintenance and honestly makes me feel a little anal. (Stop nodding your head yes.)

3) Food storage containers- I’m sure the parents and lovers of leftovers everywhere have the same lament- how do you store them? Where do you store them? How on Earth do you keep track of the lids?!? There’s nothing worse than scooping up your food in a stray container only to find its missing the lid. Tell me this has happened to you, too.

4) Dirty cloths and rags- I try to use these as much as possible instead of paper towels, but I wish I had a dedicated separate place to store the soiled ones while they await laundering. With a tiny kitchen and no dedicated laundry space, however, this dream of a space for super dirty laundry seems like a dream that’s pie in the sky.

5) Photo negatives- This move to the digital age has allowed the sharing and storage of photos to become easier, but now that film has fallen out of favor I’m torn as to what to do with my old negatives. With (most) of the original photos in tact and scanned as a digital back-up to my computer, do I really need to keep these? Am I doing it out of nostalgia? Paranoia? Negatives are just another item on a long list of things I like to hoard.

There’s an old saying about shoemaker’s children not having any shoes, and the same can principles can be applied to an organizer’s home. Despite being able to tackle problems in other people’s home with ease, it can be difficult to gain insight into your own challenges when certain obstacles seem permanently stuck in your way. Is it lack of space? Awkward configurations? Maybe you’re like me and have trouble letting go, or could be the fear of making any change that prevents you from finding a solution. Either way, if your barriers are physical or mental, it’s comforting to know that even the most talented organizers (ahem) have their own unique hang-ups that can also be solved by a glance from a fresh pair of eyes.

KBwB-BFlower-50You’ve heard my organizing confessions; now I want to hear yours! Write to me at keepingbusyb[a]gmail.com or comment below and let me know what’s been on your mind. Or maybe you’ve got a solution to one of my dilemmas. In that case, you’re my new best friend.

Sometimes I talk about other ways I like to organize too. You can find them all here on the Busy section of my blog.