Capsule Wardrobe

Spring Wardrobe and Body Image 9

The snow has melted, the highs are in the 60’s, the sun in shining and signs of Spring are here!

This season gets me all excited about spring cleaning and organizing, maybe some light gardening, and clothes. 

Yup, clothes, fashion, and wardbrobes – isn’t that what all women think about when Spring comes around? All the fashion magazines and mailers sure think so. I’m currently oogling these beauties:

I’m closing in on the end of my 3 months of 33 clothing items for the Project 333 Wardrobe Capsule project and I have mixed feelings about that.

On one hand, I feel like I’ve just now gotten into a comfortable groove with my wardrobe. It’s become so simple that I hardly even think about what I’m wearing or what I’m going to wear. It’s been nice not thinking so much about going shopping for new clothes and in some ways, it’s helped me focus less on what my clothes look like, and more on just being “me”.

Switch over to the other side of my circular-thinking mind, and you’ll hear another story.

Spring is here! That means new clothes! Get out the capris, the short-sleeved shirts, flip-flops and bright colors!

Even though I still have till the end of the month before my 33 days technically runs out, I’m going to go ahead an open up my capsule soon to see what I have in the way of Spring clothes. Then I’ll know what I really need to buy and what not. Plus, if the weather warms up faster than those 33 days, I don’t want to be stuck with only my winter clothes on a hot day.

I know I’ll need a few new shirts and as good as these shoes have been to me all these years, I think maybe it’s time to make room for some cleaner ones.

As exciting as the brighter, breezier Spring fashion is, there’s one part about transitioning to the Spring and Summer wardrobes that makes me recoil in a self-conscious embarrassed way and almost wish winter would last forever.

As I shared in my last wardrobe update, I still struggle with body image, even as a 30-some-old woman. Winter clothes, with all their bulky layers and long scarves, are really great for covering things up and hiding all my extra flab and rolls that I’d rather pretend aren’t there.

Spring and Summer clothes – not so much.

I was looking back at what I wore around this time last year and noticed I haven’t changed a whole lot.

I still feel like I look…fat.

Ug, I hate that word. I always correct my children about what fat really is and how it’s a good thing the body needs to function healthily. And when I’m able to think rationally, I generally try and avoid using that word in a descriptive manner.

I know I’m not really fat. It doesn’t make any grammatical sense to say that I am fat. How can I belarge molecule that is composed of three fatty acid molecules bonded to a glycerol molecule.?

I might have an extra concentrated amount of these large molecules in certain parts of my body, but that doesn’t mean I am fat itself.

Which brings me to a very important point I’ve been mulling over. 

I recently was at a retreat my daughter attended which focused on purity. A good friend of mine, who at one point in her life struggled with an eating disorder but now works as a clinical marriage and family therapist helping others, taught one of the lessons about body image and it was so fantastic. I’m sure she planted many important seeds in those young girls’ minds and I know I gulped up every word she spoke. I was especially impressed with what she said about “feeling fat”. To paraphrase, she said:

When someone says, ‘I am fat’, or ‘I feel fat’, what they are really doing is projecting something else going in on their life, that is stressing them or making them feel uncomfortable, back onto their bodies.

This was very interesting to me and I tucked it into the back of my mind to come back to. Since hearing that, I began to notice something.

Whenever things get to be stressful, overwhelming, or just plain annoying in my life, either with the kids or the house or just life in general, I usually head down a downward mental and emotional spiral starting with why I’m not a good mom or a good wife or why I’m a dumb and stupid failure. Then I move onto blaming someone for my woes – usually my poor innocent husband.

And then, after going through all those stages of the downward spiral, do you know what I usually conclude with? I glance at myself in the mirror or down toward my mid-section and let out my final grumbly conclusion that explains everything bad in my life:

And I’m fat. 

And then I’d binge on chocolate or another sugary treat.

The last time this happened, I realized that I was doing exactly what my friend had said! I was projecting my frustration or annoyance with something happening outside of me and I was reflecting it right back onto me. Specifically to my belly area. No wonder it looked fat to me, I was forcing myself to carry all my burdens and anxieties right there. I’ve noticed I only feel fat when life isn’t going my way.

So, since then, I’m trying to change my thinking and my self-talk. Whenever something overwhelming is going on, I’m trying to avoid projecting it back onto my body and instead voice my feelings for what they really are.

Instead of saying, I feel fat or I am fat, I can just say, I feel frustrated, or This is incredibly annoying to me right now! But that doesn’t mean I am fat.

This has helped, but there’s still only so much words and attitudes can do. The truth is that I still have a a lot of “leftover” from pregnancy. Part of my hanging tummy is caused by my abdominal diastisis, which I’ve been working to heal for a while. The other part might have to do with the fact that I’m still eating like if I were nursing a baby full-time because I still feel hungry like that – or maybe it’s just become a habit. And the last part might have to do with the fact that I really like food, especially ones with lots of yummy sugar.

And those are all things I need to constantly work at practicing self-control with and self-discipline to eat right, in healthy amounts, and to continue exercising as I can.

After the retreat ended, I asked my friend if she still struggles with body image and I shared with her my angst over my pregnant-like belly. She said,

There will always be parts of our bodies we like better than others, that doesn’t mean we have to hate our whole body. Instead, try to focus on the parts of your body you do like.

Like I said in my Wardrobe Update post, If I’m going to find any type of satisfaction with how I perceive my body, I have to change my perspective – not my wardrobe. 

So, as the warm Spring winds blow in and my wardrobe transitions to lighter, less-concealing (but still modest) outfits, I’m going to try and keep all the above perspective-guiders in mind for how my inside looks. And I’ll try to remember my own words to myself, My Postpartum (even 2 years later) body is not ugly. I am beautiful. 

For my outside, I’ll pick clothes that bring out the parts I do like about myself and don’t accentuate the parts I’m still working on, keeping in mind that there will always be parts of me that I’m still working on.

Wardrobe Capsule Status Update {Nerdy Selfies and All!} 3

Finally, it’s the post you have ALL been waiting for! (or at least the one my big-haired friend, Mary, keeps antagonizing me about). It’s the…

One Month Status Update of my Wardrobe Capsule Challenge!

For those of you who have no idea what in Tarzan land I’m talking about, here is where I started the Project 333 Wardrobe Challenge/Project.

I’m now in the second month of the 3 month’s of the 33-item Wardrobe. Did you follow that? I hope so because I’m lost already.

So how is that 33 wardrobe thing going, people have asked.

And my answer is,


How so?

Here’s the short answer:

1. Decluttered closet
2. Easier deciding what to wear.
3. Saved money by not buying more (unless I had to) and I even made a little $ by selling what I didn’t need to keep.
4. It’s prompted a deeper awareness of why I buy clothes.
5. It gave me an excuse to dip into the “selfie” world and create the best selfies ever. (you’ll see below)

Enter in at your own eye health’s risk for the long story:

I’m really liking this wardrobe project. It’s added a new and interesting challenge but, like Courtney Carver (Project 333 Foundress) said, it really has simplified life.

I’m a clutter-phobe so my favorite part is walking into my closet and seeing this –

Still need a new home for those hangers, any takers?

instead of this –

This is so embarrassing!

Aside from the awesome clutter-free benefit, it has simplified my morning routine since I can only choose from a few different choices instead of seeing the huge mess and wanting to crawl back under my bed and hide from it.

I have had to plan better and actually check the weather forecast for the day and week before dressing so I can reserve either a warmer outfit or cooler one since our temperatures have fluctuated so much (cold and blustery one day and a warm spring day the next!)

That’s been the “hardest” part – cuz you know, it’s a real struggle turning my phone on and tapping the weather icon to see the forecast, let me tell you, my finger is so sore!

Aside from that, maybe my only other “struggle” is that I started to get a little bored with my selection. I’d still find myself standing in the closet staring at my options, though much less now, and feeling woefully dissatisfied.

But the thing is, I did this before I stripped my closet down to the 33 items. {Don’t snort, I know that sounds like a “lot” but I bet you have more in your closet than you think.}

Conclusion: The clothes aren’t the problem. It’s me. 

And this is where the point starts to dig in.

It’s not about the clothes, or the house, or the car, or the granite kitchen counter tops, or any other material possession. All that stuff will never satisfy. 

They might bring some enjoyment or mild and temporary contentment – until they don’t anymore. Then we have to look for our next “fix”.

For me, I have always struggled with self-esteem and body image, even if only slightly. Who doesn’t to some degree?

But I think since becoming a mom (11 years ago) it took a turn for the worse as my body transformed into something I didn’t recognize anymore and nothing has ever “fit” quite right again.

And that makes it hard to be happy in my clothes. So when I stand in front of my clothes with a blank stare and let out an exasperated sigh, it’s not because I don’t like what my clothes look like, it’s because I don’t like how look in my clothes.

And for some crazy reason, I thought if I stared at my wardrobe long enough, or if I go shopping and buy enough new and trendy clothes, somehow it will magically transform the way my body looks also.

Silly bear, there is no such thing as magic clothes. (Christopher Robin)

If I’m going to find any type of satisfaction with how I perceive my body, I have to change my perspective – not my wardrobe. 

At the beginning of this wardrobe challenge, it helped me see that I had become incredibly self-conscious of not only what was wearing but what others were wearing, internally comparing or imagining myself in their clothes. Going through and only picking out the clothes that flatter me, as best as they can, has helped me feel more secure and not worry as much about what I look like.

So, with this in mind, I think this 33-Wardrobe challenge will help me get rid of the distraction of clothes, and declutter my mind so I can deal with my body image issues and focus on much more important things.

Alright, alright, let’s get out of these deep waters and back up to the super-ficial element of all this fashion and wardrobe talk.

Because what would a good fashion post be without some envy-inducing selfies? (How’s that for steep contradiction?)

I shared a few on the first post and then a couple more on my Instagram just for kicks.

Laundry day. #project333

A post shared by Erika Marie (@onesimplemama) on

As you can see, one of my two jeans already had a hole in them and then not too long into the 33 days, my second pair decided to follow the trend.

Apparently holes in jeans really are in fashion.

I opted instead for the boring Refuge Hi-Waisted Super Skinny jeans with no holes, the same one I raved about before. I know I’m such a drag.

My friend, Mary, who I get all my fashion tips from, raved about Old Navy’s “Pull-On” jeans with an elastic waistband. I feel like such a mom-of-four-kids typing that.

I’m not sure why they had to call them “Pull-On” pants…like I’m a toddler who’s got to wear a “Pull-Up”, sheesh. Just call them what they are –

Womens Post-Partum Tuck My Left Over Belly Flab In and Don’t Make Me Have to Button Up While I’m Trying to Use the Bathroom While Holding a Baby Jeggins.

I guess that might be too long to fit on a label though. Either way, I finally went and tried them. As soon as I slipped them on, I knew. I had met my jeans soul mate. They are comfortable enough to make me feel like I’m wearing not-too-tight yoga pants but still trendy enough that I still give the illusion that I’m with it enough to get out of my jammies and provide the illusion that I “have it all together”. And the come up high enough to keep everything packed away.

It was real fun trying them on in the dressing room with a very wriggly toddler –

See. There he is climbing under the bench and gathering dust for his collection. I pulled him out and he looked more like a dust monster than a dust bunny.

Ok, so after I inundated the blogging world, Instagram, and Facebook with more selfies than anyone cared to see, I realized my friends may not want to see a picture of what I’m wearing for the next 3 months. 😉 And another good and wise friend pointed out that this may be a little beside the whole point of the project.

Good call, my wise friend and point taken! I did receive suggestions to post pictures of my outfits laid out on the bed or floor. Which sounded like a good idea…but I didn’t want to relinquish the idea of posting a selfie of my outfits. So, I came up with another idea to “show-off” my outfits but still keep my pride and vanity in check.

Instead of taking a picture of every single one of my possible outfits, I decided to stick with one shirt – The Old Navy’s Vintage V-Neck – and show a few examples of various outfit options with that one shirt.

So, without further ado, and as a consolation prize for sticking with yet another way-too-long post, I hope you enjoy…

Who needs a purse when you have cool Italian boots in case a cold wind blows in?


I love warm winter days, it makes me want to frolic in a meadow and knit with the kitty I don’t have.


What started out as a simple V-Neck and Jeans day ended up with a night on the town with my cami-sole sister.


Another beautiful warm winter day with my little monkey!


Because holiness is all about what you wear to Mass and how pretty your rosary is.


Ummpa! I feel like dancing a Russian jig…


Do you wanna build a snowman?


The Working Mother Hybrid, part jean, part professional, ALL Mom.


Yes, even midgets are allowed to dip their hand in the Holy Water.


I have no idea.


Snow, Reading, Watching, Pretty Pictures {A Journal}

Outside my window: It snowed! I love the way the sunrise looks over the snow in the mornings.


Wearing: You’re all probably tired already of hearing about what I’m wearing. (If you really want to know, just look over to the right sidebar of my awkward selfies on Instagram.)

The Kids:

Have all been playing outside in the snow the past few days and loving it. Daddy helped make a little mountain and they’ve been working hard to dig a hole in it, they are just about done.

Yesterday they all returned to school. It was a little strange but nice to get back to a “routine”…kind of. I didn’t miss the after-school evening homework. It’s not a lot but it’s just that one extra thing that puts me over the edge when I’m trying to do/be so many other things during that time. Sadly, it seems the kids all came back to share exchange the germs they collected over the break and our daughter is home sick this morning. Once she started complaining of a tummy ache I knew I needed to keep her home. Especially since today is her class’s Mass Day and we all know what would have happened if I’d sent her…yeah she would have been that that poor kid.

Joyful/Thankful For:

A genuinely good Christmas break with everyone. I’m sorry for those who are inwardly groaning but please, I beg you not to envy me. We’ve had some intensely terrible school breaks the past few years and I was really anxious about how things would go during Christmas. I think I got a little irritated with the kids every now and then but I didn’t majorly lose it like I’ve done in the past and everyone was comparatively well-behaved. They all played together nicely the majority of the time, were very helpful and independent, and I was even able to relax and unwind a little myself. If you knew what we’ve been dealing with in the past, you would understand just how much JOY this brings me to be able to say that Yes, we did enjoy our Christmas break together.

Around the House

Yesterday I cleared all the junk I’d been stuffing under my bathroom sink out and finished cleaning out the rest of my closet, putting the “capsule wardrobe” part away (am I referring to that right? Is the stuff you put away the capsule or the ones you wear?), and seperating all the other clothes in to donation bags, trash, or items to try and sell.

My “capsule” of clothes and shoes. Doesn’t look like that much all squished in there like that.

All clean! I had to keep my nice dresses up in the back. You know, in case anyone invites me to any fancy balls. 😉

I have never seen my closet so clean! I can now walk…in my walk-in closet. It could become my new hideaway room with books, music…chocolate…

Anyway, so that was pretty exhausting to add onto the already busy Laundry Day but I’m so glad all the piles of clothes are now out of the way and I can see the closet through the clothes again.

In the Kitchen

I wrote down a menu for this week, let’s see if I can stick to it.

M – Spaghetti, T – Sandwiches, W – Enchiladas (if I can get tortillas), Th – Beef/Sweet Potato Casserole! F – Pizza with friends! S – Something from the freezer S – Whatever we can find in the fridge/freezer/pantry


Re-started 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat In Preparation for Marian Consecration.

I’m excited about this. Fr. Gaitley’s enthusiasm for the Faith and Diving Mercy and Marian Consecration is incredibly contagious!

I also started Seven Saints for Seven Virtues by my friend Jean Heiman who graciously sent me a review book.

I was accidentally sent two so look for a giveaway soon! So far I’m really enjoying it and can already recommend it. 

I also re-started Moon Over Manifest after my friend, Andrea, posted a picture with her family and the author, Clare Vanderpool – another local mom/Catholic/author who I’d love to meet!

Water for Elephants is also hanging around by my reading couches waiting patiently.


Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow – finally got to see it. My husband had already seen it and I agree it was good and would have also put it in the Top 10 2014 Movies. I love sci-fi time thinking movies so it was fun to watch. I’m still confused by the ending though?

We also watched the first episode of Downton last night! I should have done some recaps before because I forgot a lot of the details. I can’t remember who all knows about what Bates did? It’s interesting how different ideas and “agendas” are mixed in with the “changing of the times”.

Ok, I’ve only got a few more minutes so here’re some pictures –

I love the way shadows look in the snow

She seemed to enjoy this and kept looking for berries in the snow to nibble on.

“Finally, this is my kind of weather!”

I love the way the lights glow through the snow.

How is YOUR week going so far?

Wardrobe Capsule {Project 333} 14

Project 333 Capsule WardrobeOk, ok I know you’ve all been holding onto your phones or standing by your computer waiting for the notifications to pop up and tell you I finally posted more about this whole Wardrobe Capsule Project 333 that I’ve mentioned in the last posts.  Your life can go on now.

I had never heard anything about Project 333 or a Wardrobe Capsule – even though apparently it’s been a popular thread in newsfeeds for a while. So last month, while wrapping presents, I decided to tune into Kristin’s This Inspired Life’s Podcast while I had some rare moments of quiet to myself. While browsing for one to listen to, I saw this one –


At first I wasn’t going to listen, thinking it was just some boring stuff about fashion that would only make me feel self-conscious and old-fashioned and make me want to be someone I’m not. (Like trendy or something.)

But I decided to go ahead and try it out because the word, “simplicity” is always on my mind. After listening, I LOVED everything about it and began majorly swooning over the whole idea!

The timing of hearing about it was perfect as I’d already started trying to simplify my wardrobe and had even planned a post about how I was going to simplify my wardrobe with plain shirts and accessories as embellishments.

I’m also am a tad clutter-phobic. (There’s even a medical term for it – ataxaphobia)

My closet had become increasingly out of hand. I kept all my clothes in there from all seasons of weather and life (maternity/nursing). Partly because I was too lazy to put them away and partly because I was too lazy to have to get summer clothes back out on those random 90 degree days in the middle of January. I also had all the baby’s clothes in there until we moved his clothes and him in with his brother last week.

I think the idea of simplifying my wardrobe may have been partly inspired by Downton Abbey – which RETURNS TONIGHT!!!  Not that I was going to go around in ball-room dresses everyday, but I noticed that they only used 3 – 4 very nice dresses and rotated them throughout the days. How times have changed!

So I knew this was exactly what I’d been trying to invent but now I didn’t have to  – someone else already did. Bonus!

As soon as we got through Christmas, I went to the Project 333 site and read all about what it is and the rules.

I shared the idea with my husband and he didn’t think it sounded that hard to do thinking 33 items is a lot and it wouldn’t be much of a challenge. But when you start counting pants, shirts, scarves, shoes, and accessories, you’d be surprised how quickly it all adds up. After counting everything in my closet (excluding maternity clothes, undergarments and socks), I’m rather ashamed to admit I counted –

144 clothing items, 20 necklaces, 22 pairs  earrings, 15 Bracelets (that i never wear but keep for sentimental reasons mostly), and 11 pairs of shoes!

At this point, I should say that I’m incredibly thankful for these clothes and accessories, many of which have been gifted to me over the years and because of that hold a greater value than had I just bought them myself. It makes me uncomfortable knowing that while I stand in my walk-in closet feeling overwhelmed by my excess, there are those who stand alone in their material poverty.

However, even while others lack, this gives me no justification to live in excess or in gross attachment to what I don’t really need.

Like Kendra Tierney puts it in her post – AN INSPIRED CAPSULE WARDROBE

We are called to be detached from our possessions. We are called to be “poor in spirit.” That doesn’t mean being unhappy. It means living a spirit of poverty, treating the things I own as not belonging to me, just as things I’m looking after, because everything belongs to God.

I’ve been craving a simpler life, not just for my own sanity – although that’s a major reason – but for something greater. By living simpler, it clears room in my mind and life to focus on more important things. The less I’m attached to myself and what I own, the more of myself I’ll have to give to others.

So, with a great amount of nerdy excitement, I got all my clothes out and set apart those to get put away, those to donate, and those I’d hang in the closet as my Capsule Wardrobe for the next 33 days (for 3 months). I did leave a few extras as a reserve since I’m a mother of four and life can get messy from time to time. All my work out clothes are separate also but I can only them for working out!

Speaking of, here’s another good post from Jenna from A Mama Collective – CAPSULE WARDROBE EXPLANATION FROM A NOT-SO-FASHIONABLE MOM OF THREE

I also combined some clothes, like a sweater and shirt, together as one since I wouldn’t wear the sweater without a shirt, and the same for an tank and shirt as one. Maybe that’s “cheating” but it works for me and the thing I like most about Courtney’s rules is what she says here:

Again, this is not a project in suffering. I want Project 333 to bring you joy not frustration!

I’ll share some of my wardrobe via Instagram, here’s what what the closet started out as (after I moved the baby’s boxes of clothes.)

Atrocious, I know!

And here’s the tops/scarves after…

Anyone need any hangers?

And the bottoms -2 dress pants, 2 dress skirts, 2 jeans

I still need to clean out everything else piled around there.

And I paired down my earrings and necklaces down to just these:

I voted.

Here are some of the outfits I’ve worn the past four days:

This is one of my favorite sweaters, the pretty lace design in back that you can barely see takes the whole outfit up a notch. P.S. I’m terrible at selfies, obviously…

See I can’t even center myself in a picture. I apologize profusely for the less than great picture quality. This is a new sweater/shirt/necklace set my mother-in-law gifted me with just in time to add to the Wardrobe! It makes me feel somewhat trendy. The boots are my “bragging” boots since they are real Italian boots my aunt (who lives there) gave me.

I figured since I’m selfie-picture impaired, I might as well laugh at my own joke of trying. 🙂 Again, sorry for the low picture quality. I’ll try not to be so lazy and use the real camera more often.

The classic Grey long-sleeved knit with a black sweater and scarf look over too-tight skinny jeans and brown-knee high boots. I’m so original. You can kind of see my pretty necklace and earings there too, also a Christmas gift from my siblings who know me so well.

So that’s it! So far, I’m loving this whole challenge! It makes me excited to get up in the morning and walk into my closet and only have a few options of what to wear so I don’t stand there fretting about it and wasting precious moments of time. I’ll come back and update soon!

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