New Year, Old Tricks: Intentional Wardrobe

Casey of Dressed to Code layers up with the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in Birch White and the North Face stretch thermoball down alternative jacket, finished with Madewell 10" high rise skinny jeans in black and Hunter original refined rain boots in a matte black finish.
These staples from my intentional wardrobe are sticking around for 2017 and beyond.

Welcome to the second post in the mini-series I’ve decided to call New Year, Old Tricks. See the first installment here. The year 2016 was disproportionately awful, but there were some personal highlights worth keeping around. Today I’ll be talking about something that has come to be fundamental to the direction of this blog: the intentional wardrobe. I recognized that my free t-shirts and worn out jeans from college didn’t suit my new life or climate. I wanted to revamp my closet in a thoughtful, cohesive manner that would produce a wardrobe I felt great wearing. The latest addition to that intentional wardrobe is a member of my winter layers category: the “Better Sweater” from Patagonia.

Casey of Dressed to Code is cozy in black and white with the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in Birch White and Madewell 10" high rise skinny jeans in black and Hunter original refined rain boots in a matte black finish.
While it’s not black, this dappled grey fleece fits right into my color scheme.

Better Sweater or Fancier Fleece?

I’ve had my eye on this fleece jacket for a while, as it seems to be a Pacific Northwest staple. The “better sweater” comes in a variety of iterations, including a vest and 1/4 zip in both men’s and women’s fits. However, I was willing to pay more for the full zip jacket with front zip pockets. Because the Birch White color in a size XS wasn’t availible in stores, I ordered the jacket online from REI. (As you may have seen on my Instagram story, the jacket arrived with its security tag still on, but the store was able to take that off easily.)

Casey of Dressed to Code is cozy in black and white with the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in Birch White and Madewell 10" high rise skinny jeans in black and Hunter original refined rain boots in a matte black finish.
Here you can just see the pocket on the upper left arm.

The jacket is a thick polyester fleece with a woven-looking finish. There are three zip pockets: two in the usual positions on the front, and one on the upper left arm. The arm pocket is larger than it looks, and my entire card holder wallet fits inside with room to spare. I haven’t worn the jacket too much around Seattle, as my North Face Stretch Thermoball is usually plenty warm. However, I have room for this fleece under my thermoball as part of my layering recipe.

Casey of Dressed to Code is cozy in black and white with the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in Birch White and Madewell 10" high rise skinny jeans in black and Hunter original refined rain boots in a matte black finish.
Here’s the back of the jacket: fitted but not too tight.
Casey of Dressed to Code layers up with the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in Birch White and the North Face stretch thermoball down alternative jacket, finished with Madewell 10" high rise skinny jeans in black and Hunter original refined rain boots in a matte black finish.
It may be cold outside, but these layers are keeping me nice and toasty.

Layering Up

My layering recipe for tops is pretty straightforward: skin layer + fuzzy layer + fluffy layer + shell. Everything except that skin layer is optional depending on the weather. I wear anything from a light cotton t-shirt to a wool base layer against my skin, depending on conditions. However, a skin layer with even short sleeves will protect your jackets and leave them cleaner for longer. In other words, sleeveless tank tops expose your jackets to sweat and deodorant staining.

Wearing so many jackets can be annoying when you come inside and start melting. As an upside, you end up with enough pockets to often leave the purse at home. Nonetheless, the different pieces allow for a wider variety of options. You probably compile many of these options without even thinking about it. If it’s warm but rainy or windy, throw the shell on over your skin layer. If it’s cold but calm, the skin layer and fluffy layer might do the trick. A fuzzy layer over a skin layer is great when it’s chilly inside. The possibilities aren’t endless, but there are seven of them, not accounting for different skin layers.

I tend to use my Madewell Whisper Cotton Tees as skin layers, as they breathe well and are pretty thin. This Patagonia Better Sweater will serve as my fuzzy layer, and my fluffy layer is my North Face Stretch Thermoball jacket. While (shockingly) not in the black/grey color scheme of the other layers, I use my Marmot Gore-Tex jacket as my wind and waterproof shell.

Casey of Dressed to Code is cozy in black and white with the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in Birch White and Madewell 10" high rise skinny jeans in black and Hunter original refined rain boots in a matte black finish.
Black, white, and silver – an easy everyday combination from my overall intentional wardrobe color scheme.

Continuing On

The biggest reason why I’ll be continuing on with the intentional wardrobe process? It works. I needed to run out the door the other day and dressed in two minutes. The result? A better outfit than I might have put together in half an hour before starting this project. (I don’t think I’ve been clear enough that I haven’t exactly been a fantastic dresser my entire life. So if you’re seeing all these bloggers and thinking you’d never be able to do that, you can.)

The simple act of getting dressed becomes easier when your closet is well stocked. Rather than having a lot of clothing, I focused on cohesive, quality items that fulfill the needs of my everyday life. I’m still adding pieces, but I’m happy* with the items I’ve selected so far. (*One or two pieces haven’t quite lived up to my expectations, but that wasn’t foreseeable.)

Furthermore, the coordinated closet makes travel packing a breeze! Stay tuned on Instagram stories for updates from my upcoming trip.

 

What works for you when it comes to shopping selectively?

Keep in your life that which brings you joy.

-Casey

Stay Cozy Casual with a Classic

Achieve cozy casual with this classic cable pullover sweater and lakeshore wash 8" skinny jeans, both from Madewell and styled on Casey of Dressed to Code.

Cozy Casual Outfit

Winter has certainly set in here in Seattle (snow!), and that means keeping my daily looks cozy casual. As you may have guessed, cozy casual means layers and warm sweaters.

Classic Cable Pullover Sweater

If you’ve been following along, I put plenty of sweaters on my intentional wardrobe wishlist. That said, I’ve been looking for the right sweater, heavy but not overwhelming. While in store at Madewell to make a not-so-successful Black Friday return, I found this classic cable pullover sweater in heather carbon. I hadn’t bought it during the Black Friday sales because it was final sale. However, after trying it on, I quickly snatched one up in size XS. It has interesting visual detail, and the sleeves are warm without being too tight. The weave is loose enough in places that I wouldn’t wear it without an undershirt. Here, while you cannot see it, I paired it with my grey whisper cotton crew neck tee.

Achieve cozy casual with this classic cable pullover sweater, lakeshore wash 8" skinny jeans, and black leather chelsea boots, all from Madewell and styled on Casey of Dressed to Code.

Madewell Denim

Denim may not be everyone’s first thought when they think cozy. However, the ‘real’ pants keep this cozy casual look from being at-home-in-your-pajamas casual. These 8″ skinny jeans are hemmed and tapered so that they fit like custom-made. They are also warm enough to stand up to some of these chilly days. (I really need to find an indoor shoot space!)

Achieve cozy casual with this classic cable pullover sweater, lakeshore wash 8" skinny jeans, and black leather chelsea boots, all from Madewell and styled on Casey of Dressed to Code.

Chelsea Leather Boots

These chelsea leather boots were another sale scoop from Madewell. You may have sensed a trend in my shopping lately… it’s Madewell. Right now, Madewell is fitting that sweet spot of fit, budget, and style (more on that later).

Achieve cozy casual with this classic cable pullover sweater, lakeshore wash 8" skinny jeans, and black leather chelsea boots, all from Madewell and styled on Casey of Dressed to Code.

 Personal Note

I received some good news lately that may, unfortunately, affect the continuation or operation of this blog. I’ll let you know more when I can, but for now, let me thank you for your support. In the few months that I have stumbled into the blogging world, I have learned so much and met some incredible people. A special thanks to Julia of Style and Cheek and Julianna of Blush and Camo for their support and encouragement.

Casey of Dressed to Code models a classic halo diamond ring from Blue Nile and snow-inspired white sparkle nails.
To be clear, this is NOT my news. This was a fun night of trying on the gorgeous baubles at Blue Nile.

Blue Nile

I recently had the opportunity to try on some beautiful diamond rings at the opening party for Blue Nile in Bellevue Square, thanks to Sydney of Gossip & Glamour (#bluenilesparkle). It was a fun night of light bites and sparkling rings. I loved that they had a number of the rings cabled into two tables so that you could inspect and try on rings without the pressure of someone watching you. As much as I love how the halo rings look on, I think I’d opt for something a little smaller when that time comes.

In honor of the snow, I opted for a sparkling white manicure using polishes White On and Disco Ball. I like that it ended up as a sort of neutral but festive and bright look. Try this combination if you’re looking for an alternative to the classic red manicure this time of year. That said, I recently ran out of my Revlon Red polish, which works wonders for a classic red manicure in a single coat!

If you’re looking for more cozy casual outfit inspiration, check out my other sweater purchase or my Pinterest board.

May your toes stay warm this winter!

-Casey

 

More to Love from Madewell

Moorea Seal Morley wool hat, Forever 21 peacoat, Madewell Whisper cotton heather pewter grey tshirt, 8" Skinny Jeans in Lakeshore Wash, and Madewell chelsea black leather boots for fall or cool weather outfit inspiration.
This outfit features four items on my wardrobe wishlist: wool hat, grey short-sleeve t-shirt, dark jeans, and black leather chelsea boots.

Those of you who have been following along know that I’ve been intentionally focusing my wardrobe purchases on building a foundation of quality basics. If you haven’t heard about my intentional wardrobe wishlist, start here. Given my recent purchasing habits, it may come as no surprise that my two (technically three) newest additions to my wardrobe come from Madewell.

Moorea Seal Morley wool hat, Forever 21 peacoat, Madewell Whisper cotton heather pewter grey tshirt for fall or cool weather outfit inspiration.
I’ve been looking for a replacement for this pea coat, but I have been wearing this Whisper Cotton crew neck nonstop.

Whisper Cotton Crewneck Tee

This Madewell Whisper Cotton Crewneck Tee in heather pewter features a curved hem and an angled heathered texture. Both of these details add visual interest to a 100% cotton t-shirt.  I’m wearing an XXS, although a larger size could give a looser fit.

Whereas my Madewell Radio tee has a boxier, cropped fit, even the sleeves on this Whisper Tee are longer, hitting me about halfway down my upper arms. You can keep them long (bonus for those days when you don’t shave) or roll them slightly for that chic “I even make a tee shirt look good” result. Overall, this shirt scores pretty high, in that the biggest thing I would change would be raising the hem just slightly for my petite torso.

As you would expect, I also have my eye on this striped version, which I’ll probably swoop up next time it goes on sale.

Moorea Seal Morley wool hat, Forever 21 peacoat, Madewell Whisper cotton heather pewter grey tshirt, 8" Skinny Jeans in Lakeshore Wash, and Madewell chelsea black leather boots for fall or cool weather outfit inspiration.
I’m slowly breaking in these beautiful leather chelsea boots from Madewell.

The Chelsea Boot

These Madewell Chelsea Boots have been on my watchlist for a while. Unfortunately, they sold out quickly. However, after reading that they run slightly big, I rolled the dice on a pair in size 6M. The leather is beautiful and will have me looking more closely at Madewell shoes in the future. The #wellheeled contest is well named.

As far as fit is concerned, the 6 medium currently fits with my thinnest socks. I would probably say that it fits like a 6.25, assuming I’m a ‘true’ 6.5.  Therefore, I probably would have been better off wearing the sold-out 6h (6.5). The ankles are slim and require some wiggling to get my feet in. This works out because the interior lining is tan; I could see  slivers of tan when I glanced down wearing the boots with black tights.

The leather feels luxurious, as it should at that price point (I snagged mine on sale). My biggest complaint is that the front of the sole is too slick. As a result, I’ll probably want to have them resoled with a heavier, more textured sole because I put miles on my shoes.

Moorea Seal Morley wool hat, Forever 21 peacoat, Madewell Whisper cotton heather pewter grey tshirt, 8" Skinny Jeans in Lakeshore Wash, and Madewell chelsea black leather boots for fall or cool weather outfit inspiration.
Above, you can see the slight curve on the hem of the Madewell Whisper Cotton crew neck shirt.

Outfit

I paired these new additions with my Madewell 8″ Skinny Jeans in (the now discontinued) Lakeshore wash. To keep me warm, I finished the outfit with this pea coat from Forever 21 several years ago. Finally, my lips are colored red with Sephora’s Cream Lip Stain in 01 Always Red. This stuff is dangerously pigmented and dries to a matte finish.

 

All of the items in this outfit are easily adapted to other looks, and I’m pleased with their quality. Even better, I was able to use my birthday gift from Madewell’s new insider program to take more money off the sale price. Hopefully, Madewell will bring these high quality shoes back in stock.

“Take time to appreciate all that you have.” 

-Casey

 

Start Building an Intentional Wardrobe

 

Eddie Bauer Women's Flightplan II Cardigan Sweater with Madewell 8" Skinny Jeans in Quincy wash, Hunter Original Refined rain boots in black, Forever 21 tank, and Fossil Georgia leather watch.
The three primary pieces you see here are all on my wardrobe checklist: drapey black cardigan, dark skinny jeans, and black rain boots.

This post could also be titled “Start Building a Wardrobe Instead of Hoarding a Bunch of Things in Your Closet.” With new styles coming out every season, it’s easy to get caught up in trends and start buying pieces. However, unless you have a pretty big bank account, buying individual pieces or outfits gets expensive fast. Instead, by shopping intentionally, you’ll find that the same budget will get you further.

After making my own wardrobe checklist, I’ve recently been focusing my search on sweaters for Seattle’s chilly days. As a petite, I find that “oversized” sweaters are often far too big on my body with comparatively tight arms. Unfortunately, I tried on far too many sweaters that were too thin, draped oddly, etc.. Finally, I stumbled upon this color-blocked drape-front cardigan at Eddie Bauer. I’m wearing an XS in the “Women’s Flightplan II Cardigan Sweater,” which is available in two other color combinations, including a rich merlot red called deep garnet. (It’s currently 25% off too!)

This style is more forgiving than other sweater shapes. Most importantly, I found that the sleeves were fitted without being too tight, and the grey color helps minimize the volume of fabric in the front. The fabric is substantial without being itchy, and the merino wool gives it some breathability. It’s also machine washable (yes!).

Black and grey/gray Eddie Bauer Women's Flightplan II Cardigan Sweater rear/back view.
While a piece with as much fabric as this draped sweater won’t be the most slimming thing in the world, I like that the color block changes just below my natural waist, adding a little more definition.
Black and grey/gray Eddie Bauer Women's Flightplan II Cardigan Sweater with delicate, minimalist silver dot necklace from Silver Cup Studios on Etsy.
I see myself snuggling up in this sweater as things get chillier and tossing it on over my other wardrobe essentials.

I paired my black and grey acquisition with minimal silver jewelry, including my silver dot necklace from Etsy. As you can see below, I’m also wearing my black and silver (see a trend here?) Fossil Georgia watch, which nested nicely under the fitted but not too tight sleeves. I also have the sleeves cuffed slightly where there is a difference in texture, but someone with longer arms could leave them uncuffed.

Eddie Bauer Women's Flightplan II Cardigan Sweater with Madewell 8" Skinny Jeans in Quincy wash, Hunter Original Refined rain boots in black, Forever 21 tank, and Fossil Georgia leather watch.
This petite-friendly cardigan is going to take me into fall by adding a warm layer to my existing base layers.

Now, here’s how I’m building my intentional wardrobe and how you can too!

0. Put down the card.

With online shopping, snatching up new clothing now takes under thirty seconds. The first step is to stop buying individual pieces and focus on creating a cohesive wardrobe of items that work together.

I know I’m guilty of making “desperation purchases” (seizing the first thing you find when under a deadline), but these items rarely make it into my regular rotation. Instead, they often spend a lot of time in the back of my bottom drawer. That’s a waste of money! Right now, I’m pledging to myself to stop doing that. You should join me.

1. Figure out what you like.

Congratulations! If you’re here, you’re probably already reading blogs and following bloggers. I follow plenty of bloggers who have amazing style that just doesn’t line up with my own.  That’s okay. Focus on the bloggers who have style you could actually see yourself wearing. Classic looks are always in style, and you can modernize the basics with a trend here or there, such as adding a bell-sleeved sweater for this fall.

Also take into account what shapes you feel comfortable wearing — don’t bother adding pencil skirts if you’d never wear them. There are plenty of pieces I love on someone else that I wouldn’t on myself.

Pin your favorite outfits and figure out what the common elements are. Is there a common theme or color scheme? For example, I find myself drawn to outfits which consist primarily or entirely of neutrals: black, white, tan, grey, and denim blues. Check out my inspiration board here.

2. Make a list.

Of course, you’ll always have some pieces which don’t strictly fit into your new wardrobe scheme. That’s totally fine. I’m certainly not going to give up my burgundy skirt because it’s not in the neutral palette! You can also omit special occasion clothing (unless you get fancy on a regular basis) and workout gear (unless you’re going for an athleisure look). Remember to include work appropriate apparel if you need weekday outfits that meet a certain look or criteria.

That said, make a list of the core of your intentional wardrobe. I love blue ball point pens and lined paper for getting the creative juices flowing, but I then transferred the list over to a spreadsheet to move things around and organize a little more.

a. Figure out how much you’d like.

How many items and what should be on your list is really up to you. Jesica of Classic in Gray just did a great post on this. Think about how frequently you want to recycle the same looks and how often you do laundry. Those in hot and humid climates probably won’t get away with multiple wears of base layers the way someone in a cool climate might.

b. Figure out what your staples are.

Maybe you’ll happily rock the same great booties all season long. Maybe you’re happy wearing the same tops but like to mix it up with your bottoms. Personally, I’m happy with a few great bottoms that I mix up with a greater variety of tops. Bottoms can be reworn more frequently and are often more expensive, so this is a win-win in the laundry and budget departments.

Figure out what your staple items should be (hint: you’ve probably already got some of them in your closet) and build out from there. Pinterest is a great place to find lists that will help you determine what kinds of pieces work well together.  I like this “50 Classics for Your Closet” list for ideas, even if it’s not item-for-item my style.

c. Don’t forget underwear, outerwear, and accessories.

A great jacket can really define your wardrobe in cooler temps, so remember to add gear appropriate to your geography to your list. Similarly, undergarments are the foundation of a wardrobe. Therefore, add items like tanks, bras, and bralettes to your list, keeping in mind what would pair with your intended tops and dresses.

3. Check off what you already have.

If you don’t own any of the items on your wardrobe wishlist, that’s a red flag that your plan may not be realistic about what you’re comfortable wearing. You probably own multiple of your staple items, so that’s part of your focused wardrobe already available to you! You may also want to evaluate these items to determine whether they are in good condition and fit well or need to be replaced (holes happen, unfortunately).

4. Shop strategically and be patient.

If you don’t already have a monthly or similarly regular budget, make one first! Once you have an idea of what you can spend, think about your target price range per type of item. I’m willing to spend a little more per item for better quality. That said, I still have a price at which I’ll balk and walk away. I also tend to stick things in my bag or on my wishlist and wait until they go on sale. The great thing about being intentional is that you can better figure out where to splurge and where to save.

As a petite woman who doesn’t buy many overly trendy items, the items in my cart don’t usually sell out before going on sale. I also sign up for the lists for my favorite stores, so I can jump on sales when they happen. Also pay attention to your items after you buy them. I’ve gotten as much as $40 back after asking for a price adjustment on a big purchase that went even more on sale after I bought it.

5. Keep reevaluating.

You may never have everything crossed off your list, but it’s important to periodically reevaluate all the goals in your life, including this one.

 

What’s on your intentional wardrobe wishlist? What’s that one item on which your closet depends? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Best of luck, lovelies!

-Casey