Thursday, 9 November 2017

How I built an Autumn Winter Capsule Wardrobe

Y’all have to excuse the unfinished mess of room that I am shooting in at the moment (yup that house renovation thang is still ongoing… slow and steady wins the race, as they say). However, I did say that I wanted to stop using that as an excuse not to post, as I am enjoying writing on the reg, so without further ado, let’s embrace the mess and talk capsule wardrobes!

I avoided the idea when it was the buzzword a couple of years back. The idea of narrowing down a wardrobe to its bare minimums just didn’t seem like it’d suit an indecisive gal like myself. Surely, I need and wear pretty much everything in my entire wardrobe? Wrong.

My mindset did change after watching the minimalism documentary at the beginning of the year. Not only did it make me realise that I probably don’t need EVERYTHING that I’d piled up, crammed in and squashed down, but it was also quite stressful trying to find anything to wear in the morning amid the clutter, and so I found myself sticking to the same three or so outfits I had in rotation (wash - pile - wear) and forgetting about the rest.

Firstly I undertook a mammoth wardrobe clear out, filling four bin liners of clothes and shoes for charity and setting aside a few items for depop. It’s always hard to be brutal so with every piece, so if you struggle being ruthless ask yourself the following questions: “Am I going to wear this, at some point this year?” and then, “Am I REALLY though?” 

I figured, if I didn’t wear and item this year, I for sure won’t like it next year, and if my some strange miracle I do still like it, chances are my butt won’t fit in it next year, because I am planning to embrace age, gravity & nature’s pear-shaped course.

Within a week, my life was sartorially clutter-free.

I thought that’d it be it, new wardrobe, new me, but no, the mischievous ghosts of shopping past, were still lurking, following me around the internet with Topshop’s newest faux-fur numbers, Zara’s finest selection of printed shirts and before I knew it, my rails were bulging once more.

More than anything, I wanted to make sure I was actually wearing the majority of pieces I owned, so I succumbed and looked up, ‘How to make a capsule wardrobe?”

I came across the Project 333 challenge, which invites you to dress with 33 items or less for three months. Starting in Mid-October, three months would see me through to the back-end of winter, which seemed doable.

The next thing I did was  go through my wardrobe again and pick out anything that was distinctly ‘summer’ – denim shorts, playsuits, even my beloved lightweight dungas – and pack those in to storage bags in my main wardrobe. 

I decided that my new curated wardrobe would be put together on a spare clothes rail, separate to the main wardrobe, and in clear daily view. No out-of-sight out-of-mind happening here!

I then started throwing what was left into piles by category – coats & jackets, jumpers, trousers, shirts and tees. Within each category, I tried to make sure, that I had a mix of different styles that would allow me some versatility for whatever I had planned…

Coats & Jackets

Given the season, I allowed myself a few choices in this category. As mentioned in my last post, I had treated myself to a new faux-coat this season – a little 70s style big-collared dream, so I told myself that’d be my ‘fancy’ coat. The piece I’d wear if I was going out for the day, or needed a nice cover-up for the evening. I had a couple of trench coats, so I packed away the lightweight options for summer, and kept a more winter-appropriate navy trench and a heavy-weight cotton olive trench, that I could layer over jumpers & jeans for work. With the colder months looming, I did make sure to include a few other jacket styles – my classic leather biker, a long-line jersey gingham coat and a striped blazer suit jacket.


I am always cold, so I made sure to add a selection of knits to the rails. I love the colour-block styles at the moment, so I went for a shorter waist length version, a longer baggier jumper as well as a couple of roll-necks

Trousers & Skirts

I rarely wear dresses these days, I barely wore them in the summer, so I knew I had to refrain from adding these in. Favourite dresses that I wot ever get rid of, were safetly stored away in garment bags, and on the rail, I only added one dark burgundy tea dress and a super versatile button-up denim skirt from Joanie that I would be able to style with a heap of different things. Trousers & jeans are my go-to, so my selection includes three pairs of jeans (a black and dark indigo straight-leg and a baggier pair of vintage levis), and a couple of pairs of trousers (navy striped straight-leg, vintage military blue fatigues, blue cullotes and a bolder mustard-yellow cigarette pant for when I need some colour).


I had a moment on Zara. I always have moments on Zara, but this time I was somewhat impulsive but also fairly sensible, stocking up on a bunch of printed shirts, that would give my day-to-day working wardrobe a lift, rather than just purchasing pretty one-time wear pieces. There’s… stripes, stars, oriental print body’s, silky bird prints and even a fun zebra print. I’m telling you this because if anyone hears me complain that I need new clothes or I can’t find anything to wear, call me a liar. These shirts are the business; smart enough for work, pretty enough for a dinner-date. I’m SORTED.


Let’s not forget the basics. Whilst we are entering non-tshirt territory, I will be layering up with a comfy tee base under most outfits, for the majority of the time so I included eight tees in my selection. When packing away my summer stuff, I did try and eliminate the tees that got a lot of wear over the summer months, to add a sense of newness to my A/W dressing, and to fool myself into thinking I have new clothes to try week-on-week. The Saintly Leo tee was an essential buy, and will remain an essential in my capsule collection.

Accessories, Shoes & Extras

I’ve decided one pair of sock-boots, vans, black flats, dr martens Chelsea boots and my trusty converse is all I need to get me through the next couple of months. I’ve also hung up a baker boy hat (for bad second-day hair) and one super special occasion dress (winter weddings, yas!)

All in all, I narrowed my wardrobe down to around 37 pieces. Slightly over the target set by Project 333, however, I reasoned that as long as I’d managed to curate a selection of seasonally appropriate garments that I am confident I will actually wear and enjoy styling for the foreseeable future, I’ve made a good start. Seeing all those pieces together on one rail, makes me happier in the knowledge that I’ll be able to easily to say no to new purchases, and as advised “do more with less”, mixing and matching each week to add a bit more variety to my everyday look

Now just to see how long it lasts! Whether I can stick to only these pieces for the next three months, will be a challenge, but I’m going to give it my best shot. 

Two weeks in and so far, so good - wish me luck!

Much love,

L xo

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Brunch Club

Long weekends: a leisurely brunch with my love, mooching around the shops, and cuddling small dogs. What more do you need in life?

With an extra couple of days off after the weekend, we decided to take a drive over to check out the new Rushden Lakes shopping centre and grab something to eat at the Eden champagne bar and restaurant in House of Fraser - thanks for the recommendation, Amber! We tried a few of the tapas sharing plates (halloumi, tomato & red pepper skewers, paprika hummus and chili & almond tender-stem broccoli) and washed down with a fire-in-the-belly virgin bloody mary and mint tea. I’d really recommend going if you happen to be in the area, both the food and the service were superb, as was the floor to ceiling plant-wall and the collection of Autumn-Winter Biba that graced the rails. Oh, baby...

Whilst back in Northamptonshire, we swung by the Dr Martens factory shop and somehow managed to avoid coming out with three bulging bags like last time, despite the fact that I was fawning over a pair of red love-heart boots and a made in UK red tartan scarf that was only a god-damn fiver!!

My momentary lack-of-red-boot frustration was immediately subdued by the fact that it was cold enough to prance around and feel fancy in my new winter coat. After a couple of years of sticking with fairly sensible navy wool coats, I could not resist this super dreamy sage faux-fur number from Topshop. I mean, just look at the collar!! I paired it with the appropriate Margot Brunch club tee and my standard Margot Tenenbaum-esque sulky expression (an all-season thang). 

"Richie: You dropped some cigarettes. 
Margot: Those aren't mine. 
Richie: They just fell out of your pocket."
- The Royal Tenenbaums.

Much love,
L xo

Wearing: Margot Brunch Club tee c/o Joanie Clothing, Faux Fur Coat by Topshop, Blush Velvet bag by New Look.
Listening to: Time of the Season by The Zombies
Inspired by: Margot Tenenbaum

Monday, 30 October 2017

Autumn Spice: Squash & Avocado Salad

Here’s a first - I don’t believe I’ve ever wrote a foodie recipe type blog before! I thought I’d give it a whirl because I’ve got to that stage in life where making, or even thinking about what to have for tea is one of the greatest joys in life, and also because I am terrible for improvising recipes and then forgetting what I did when it comes to making it again, so two birds, one stone!

If you would normally turn your nose up at the idea of a salad dinner, you need to start throwing some pomegranate into the mix. Honestly, it’s a game changer. Over the summer, I made so many simple salad combinations, chicken & avo, halloumi, orange & grilled corn and every single time, I would finish by chucking some pomegranate over the top.

I love Autumn & Winter food. The time of year where everyone starts craving heartier meals to warm the ole’ tum, however, after eating a lot of beige, I do miss the crispy, cold freshness of summer dishes, so I thought I would try to give an Autumn update to one of my tried & tested fruity salads!

We had some leftover squash & sweet potato, so I thought that would be a good starting point. It was bit of a “let’s just try this and see” recipe but honestly, it was SO tasty, and even James “a salad isn’t a dinner” Bagshaw, said that it was “best *beeping* salad he’s ever tasted”, so I guess that means I’m ready to work for Gordon Ramsey now.

You will need:
• 1 tbsp. Coconut Oil
• 2 sweet potatoes
• ½ Butternut Squash
• ½ cup walnuts
• ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
• ½ tsp of ground cloves
• ¼ tsp nutmeg
• ½ cup Pomegranate seeds
• Rocket & Baby leaf salad
• Salt & Pepper to season

For the Dressing:
• ¼ cup pomegranate juice
• ¼ cup lemon juice
• ½ tsp ginger
• 1 garlic clove
• ¼ cup olive oil
• Salt & Pepper to season

Now get to it…

Step One: After chopping your squash and sweet potatoes, chuck them in the oven for 30 minutes with 1 tbsp. of coconut oil and a few cracks of salt & pepper. Turning and shaking every 10 minutes or so. Sprinkle a small pinch of sugar or honey over the top for the final 10 minutes in the oven.

Step Two: While the veg is roasting, you can get on with the dressing. I started by adding the peeled garlic clove, ginger (the pre-chopped frozen packs work a treat) into a blender and giving it a whirl for about a minute. I then added the pomegranate juice, lemon juice and oil. After a few pulses, I removed the garlic clove – you could leave it in, but I personally don’t like when garlic is too overpowering, and I could smell that it’d already made its mark in the dressing, so it got evicted. When this had all combined, I poured it through a strainer to get rid of the pulpy bits and left it in the fridge to keep cool.

Step Three: Autumnal Croutons! After chopping the whole walnuts in half, I toasted them in a pan for a few minutes. Then, after taking them off the heat, I stirred in the ground cinnamon, ground cloves and nutmeg and set aside.

Step Four: Finally, when the veg was ready, I stacked up the plates, gave it a good drizzle of the dressing over the top and served with a side of chunky chips.

Enjoy! Do let me know If you try it yourself or if you have any other vegetarian Autumnal / Wintery recipe recommendations, I’d love to try new dishes!

Much love,
L xo

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Clownin' Around

Happy Halloween month! Can we start talking costumes now? I've started earlier than usual because time has been creeeepin’ up on me so fast these past few months and I was determined that I wouldn't miss the Halloween boat, like I did last year. After coming across a new area to explore, James & I had planned to go for an Autumn walk, so I thought I would take the opportunity to prance around trying out my costume - a Picasso ‘rose period’ inspired clown look. We have some of those Picasso prints hanging in out front room and I stare at them every day, wishing it was appropriate to dress like that.

Worryingly, I already had every single part of this costume in my wardrobe.  What do we think about that? Should I feel proud about my sensible resourcefulness or should I just stop buying such ridiculous garments of clothing now?

I suppose I’ve always enjoyed playing dress-up to some extent. Like most of us, I started secondary school as an A-class sartorial sheep – following the pack, because I didn’t know any better. This was followed by the not-so-seamless transition to Grebby SK8r Girl - it was a rite of passage for most, yes? I would borrow my friend’s wide-leg jeans, not caring that they would be hanging off my butt (god bless the studded belt). Next came the long-lasting indie cindy phase, with my trademark white tights and knee high socks.

To this day, I’m still a fan of building an outfit of comfortable staple pieces and then topping it all off with something a bit more 'costumey' (gaudy).  Looking a bit awkward makes me feel more comfortable than looking too matchy-matchy. There's a continual mood board situation going on in my mind as to how I can mix-up and combine aspects of looks I admire.

Mantra: What would Bowie do?

Consciously and subconsciously, I transform myself into different characters all the damn time and Halloween just offers a mighty fine excuse to take it to the next level!

I’d bought this amazing stripe circus neck ruff a couple of years ago and ended up changing my costume last minute. I haven’t been able to get rid of it because I genuinely love it. I think it’s beautiful. Then it was just a case of rummaging through my collections to pick out pieces and accessories in the right colourways, which would give me the right silhouette for the look. The pom-poms I had in a craft drawer (nerd alert) from yeaaars ago, so I stitched those on and voila! Easy peasy.

So there you go guys, there really is no excuse to not make an effort! It may not be the scariest or most creative Halloween look, but it did perplex the dog-walkers that we passed during the shoot. Can someone tell me when I'll get used to this blogger thing and stop dying from cringe!?

Wearing: Stripe Circus Neck Ruff by Tallulah Blue Burlesque, White Dress by George at Asda, White tights by ASOS, Oxblood Shoes by Vagabond, Earrings by ASOS
Listening to: Being for the benefit of Mr Kite - The Beatles
Inspired by: Picasso's Rose Period

Photos by J.E.B

Much love,
L xo

© Novella Afterglow | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig