Project Simplify: Creating the Perfect Capsule Travel Wardrobe


Well this week sort of turned into fashion week here at FTRB. I guess it’s kind of fitting (no pun intended) since it’s fashion week somewhere in the world all month. London just finished, Milan is happening now and Paris is next week. Coincidentally, I’ll be in Paris while it’s going on. (The husband has meetings in Paris next week and asked if I wanted to tag along. Is that even a question?) It’s always fun to be around all the buzz even if I’m not attending the shows.

Since it will only be a few days in Paris and I’m flying all that way, I decided to add a few days in Antwerp, a city I have wanted to visit for decades. Why Antwerp? The answer is also fashion-related. Antwerp is a mecca for avant-garde fashion (many of the designers I have loved the longest like Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester and Dries Van Noten are all from there) and a pilgrimage to MoMu (Mode Museum), the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, the Dries flagship store, etc. have long been on my travel wish list but I never managed to make it there. It’s a quick train ride from Paris so it was finally a good opportunity to fit it in. I can’t wait!


I’m packing as we speak so it seems like a good time to talk about travel wardrobes. After traveling to over 50 countries. I think I’ve finally gotten them down to a science!

As a little background, I first started traveling extensively after college and in the early years, I used to pack all my best clothes: wool boucle suits, cashmere sweaters, silk scarves, leather gloves….. I’m not entirely sure what my thinking was at the time other than I just generally liked being decked out. (My style was also a little more conservative back then.)

Then at some point, I stopped taking the nicer things on trips because I wanted to save them and didn’t want them getting ruined or worn out. I’m not sure why this happened either but I think it started when we were doing more adventure type trips and traveling through some rough terrains…. doing what they call hard travel. I think I liked being able to just come home and dump my entire suitcase into the washer, setting it on the heavy duty cycle and not worrying about anything delicate, etc. That then just sort of became a habit. It wasn’t as if I dressed in rags but I definitely didn’t always look my best.

A long white gown may be a bit much for a stroll with a shepherd 😉 but it’s inspiring nonetheless!

In recent years, I’ve swung back around closer to how I used to travel. As part of the Minimalism Game, I am tossing the last of those less than desirable pieces that were reserved for travel. There’s no reason why I should deviate from trying to look my best when I’m traveling, especially considering how much time I spend on the road. I also want to get enjoyment from the clothes I have. If not now, when, right? I’m only packing things I love to wear which are comfortable and make me feel great. Hopefully those are the only types of clothes I’ll have left in my closet once I’m done with the game! So, at the same time I’m simplifying my wardrobe I’m upgrading my travel wardrobe too.

I think that’s a good mantra for all areas of life: simplify and step it up!


To me, a perfect capsule travel is stylish, comfortable, versatile and appropriate for the climate, environment, culture, itinerary and planned activities. I also believe in traveling light so I’m asking a lot from a little.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the key is to maximize the wear you get from each piece. To create as many different looks possible with a minimal number of pieces, first decide on a palette for the entire wardrobe (like you would do for decorating a room). Then choose versatile pieces that all fit into that color story. Finally add in accessories like scarves and jewelry which are great for switching up a look without taking up much space.

I also limit myself to one bag for day, one bag for night, one pair of shoes for day and one for evening in addition to whatever I’m wearing on the plane. I live for shoes and bags so this is tough for me but these are the bulkiest items so I force myself to stick to this limit. I’ll make an exception if there will be several special events requiring more looks but this is rare.

Keeping all of this in mind, I plan outfits for each activity on the itinerary. (I actually keep a copy of my itinerary in front of me while I’m packing.) This takes me hours but it saves me time getting dressed at my destination and that’s valuable time I’d much rather spend enjoying the location. It also ensures I have the right thing to wear at all times and that goes a long way to making a trip enjoyable. I can’t imagine packing any other way now.


Lastly, here are a couple of things I don’t do. I don’t pack any new pieces that I haven’t test driven yet. I need to know it will be comfortable and doesn’t have something off about it that I’ll discover only by wearing. I also never pack options. I take only the pre-planned outfits (plus one extra just in case something unexpected comes up or there is a spill/mishap) but nothing else. Once you start with options, it can quickly spiral out of control.

So that’s it. As I said before, I don’t believe in lists and formulas because our travel wardrobes, like our everyday wardrobes, should express our own personal style. So I offer these as guidelines and hope they help you create your own perfect capsule travel wardrobes. I’ll post some outfit photos on Instagram (@FromTheRightBank) and Snapchat (FromTheRightBnk) during my trip so you can see my approach. And of course there will be shots of pretty spaces and things as well as some walking tours so please join me!

When I get back from my trip, I’ll give you a full recap of my 30-Day Simplify & Declutter Challenge. It’s been going great! See you then!

(Photos: Vogue)

Project Simplify: Thoughts on Capsule Wardrobes and Capsule Travel Wardrobes


While we’re on the topic of wardrobes and closet organization, I feel like we need to discuss capsule wardrobes which has been a really hot topic the past couple of years.

In the unlikely event you haven’t heard about it, it’s basically a wardrobe that is limited to X number of pieces (usually about 30 or 50 but it can vary). Everything else gets stored away or if you’re hardcore, tossed. There are many, many variations on this but that’s the general idea. Most people also seem to have one capsule wardrobe for spring/summer and a second for fall/winter. The goal is to have a wardrobe with only pieces that you love which simplifies getting dressed and saves you money.

I’ve been intrigued by this whole concept and love the rationale behind it. Even though it’s been all the rage in recent years, it turns out the term was actually coined in the 1970’s. Then in the 1980’s Donna Karan created a capsule collection of seven pieces that could all be interchanged. That was the first time I had heard of it and I remember thinking it was an absolutely brilliant concept even then. Then I think in the early 00’s, there was an Yves Saint Laurent capsule collection called Edition but I can’t for the life of me find anything on the web about it. How is that possible? I wish I had kept some of the literature on it because it was such a great collection.


Anyway… a sense, my end goal for Project Simplify as it pertains to my wardrobe is the same: to have only things I absolutely love in my closet. But let me tell you why a capsule wardrobe just won’t work for me.

I want to preface this by saying this is not a criticism; there is no right or wrong here. Our wardrobes and our approaches to them should be entirely personal. To be happy and satisfied with our wardrobes, we must figure out what works for our individual lifestyle, philosophy and unique circumstances.

So with that out of the way….. the first reason a capsule wardrobe won’t work for me is just from a practical point of view, I can’t make one wardrobe work for all of my needs. As I said in my last post, my days are really varied and I need (and want) different clothes for different activities and what makes me most comfortable in a particular situation.

The second reason is that while I’m on a quest to simplify my life, having a limited wardrobe isn’t one of the ways in which I want to do it. I do want a more streamlined, less crammed and organized closet. But at the same time, I’m interested in continuing to develop my personal style more deeply and a very restrictive wardrobe won’t allow for that. I view fashion as an important form of self-expression and sometimes even as art. While I don’t support mindless consumption, I get a thrill when I see intriguing new designs and all the new possibilities each season. All of this may elicit an eye roll from people for whom fashion is not a priority and I get that. As I said, live your lives. Do you. But these are the reasons why capsule wardrobes just aren’t for me.



Having said all that…..

I do apply the concept of capsule wardrobes on my travels and have been doing it for years. I just didn’t realize there was a name for it! As you know, I’m a frequent traveler and 90% of the time, I travel with just a carry-on because it just makes life easier.

The way I do that is by limiting the color palette so pieces can be mixed and matched to create multiple outfits. I also choose pieces that can be worn day or night so I don’t necessarily have to do an outfit change during the course of a day. So in other words, I use capsule travel wardrobes and it is the key to traveling light.

These days, I’m also trying to refine my capsule travel wardrobes (up my game, as it were) and I’ll be back tomorrow to talk a little about that.

In the meantime, what do you think of capsule wardrobes? If you have one or have tried having one, I’d really love to hear about your experience!

(Photos: the Coveteur)

Project Simplify: the Minimalism Game and Organizing My Closet by Categories


Thank you for all of your comments and the great discussion on the last post! The more we talk about it, the more the subject of personal style fascinates me. Today let’s switch gears slightly and discuss closet organization since we have to do something with those clothes once we’ve nailed down our style, right? As I mentioned before, I won’t be getting to my closet for another week or so but I have a plan figured out.

The obvious first step to organizing anything is to get rid of any extraneous things. For years, I have purged my closet at least once a year but it’s still out of control. So I clearly need to do more and yet something always holds me back. I know I’m not alone and some common obstacles to a really big purge seem to be the sentimental value of certain objects, the I may need that someday way of thinking and guilt over the money spent. I’ve gone through all of these and that last one in particular. But I’ve reached the point where I’ve had enough and am ready to let all of that go. (Yes!) And what I need now is some sort of push to help me along.


The Minimalism Game

This is where the 30-Day Minimalism Game comes in. Have you heard of it? It’s kind of crazy and kind of brilliant. It was started by the guys at the Minimalists and the way it works is you get rid of one item on the first day of a month. On the second day, you get rid of two items. On the third, three items and so on and so on for 30 days. That ends up being 465 items if you make it through the 30 days! Technically you play with another person and whoever lasts longer, wins. Most people do this for their entire house but I decided I’m going to try to apply it to my closet (which tells you how bad it is)!

As I’ve said on numerous occasions, I’m under no delusion that I could ever be a minimalist. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t borrow minimalist ideas to help me simplify as much as I can. And I think my closet is begging for something drastic like this. I’m a little trepidatious but also really excited to give it a try.

Have any of you played the game? I’ve heard from several people that it changed their lives. Does anyone want to play with me? 😉 If you do, leave me a comment and we’ll figure out the best way to check in with each other. Maybe we can do it via Twitter or Snapchat or something? I’m open to ideas!


Organizing by Categories

Something that is going to help me with this big purge is that I’ve also started to reorganize my closet slightly by dividing it into different categories instead of by article of clothing. My schedule looks different from day to day so I sat down and made a list all of my activities and what I wear for them. Then I grouped the items together by these categories (casual, out and about, formal, etc.).

Categorizing all of my clothes this way is helping me to see very clearly which areas need the most purging and which do not need any more additions ever again (hello, five thousand pairs of colored denim)! So this is going to go a long way when I start the Minimalism Game.

It is also just making much more sense already. On any given day, instead of looking at all of my clothes, I can just go to the section of my closet that holds the category of clothes I need for that day and choose an outfit from there. I’m sure there are people who have been doing this for years but it’s a real revelation for me!


So that’s my plan of attack for the closet come October! I have high hopes of a beautiful, streamlined wardrobe that will make getting dressed less stressful and actually enjoyable. Again, let me know if anyone is up for playing the Minimalism Game with your closet or your house!

I’ll be back on Wednesday to give you my thoughts on capsule wardrobes. Hope to see you then!

(Photos: the Coveteur)

Project Simplify: Personal Style


Hi, friends, two posts in one week! What in the world is going on, you ask? I’m so invigorated from my decluttering challenge (it feels so good to be rid of so much stuff!) that I just want to keep the momentum going on Project Simplify! Today, I want to talk about a huge topic that has been on my mind that has a big impact on the project: personal style.


As I mentioned, I’m going to devote October to my wardrobe and personal style is going to be the key to simplifying my closet. I’m determined that anything that is not me or my style is going out the door! I’ve been using this same idea this month as I’ve been decluttering the house too. But it’s not as simple as it sounds. The topic of style is actually quite complicated and something that really fascinates me.


Personal style is not a priority for everyone and that’s absolutely fine. Live your lives, I say. But for me, I consider it one of the major ways we express who we are in life and that is something I want to cultivate and refine. Chances are if you are here, reading this blog, it is important to you too.

Ann Demeulemeester

There are lots of style tests, books and articles devoted to finding your personal style and they can be useful places to start. But following someone else’s ideas about what essential pieces you should have in your closet or what to wear this season, etc. ultimately won’t get you there because we are individuals with individual style.


Having talked to many people about this, I’m convinced this is the reason so many of us are frustrated with our wardrobes and feel like we never have anything to wear. There’s nothing wrong with exposing yourself to this type of advice (I read magazines filled with them!) but just following formulas isn’t the answer. Ultimately, what it boils down to being open and paying attention to what resonates with you, what makes you feel your best and what is most comfortable and suitable for your lifestyle. All of this applies to home decor as well and it all takes time, experience, trial and error.


That is why I think finding your style is also just part of the larger process of getting to know yourself. As you become more certain of who you are, the clearer you become on what you like and what works for your personality and lifestyle. You stop following the herd and buying into all the noise on social media (there’s so much selling!) and you just do your own thing. 

Styles also evolve and change as we do and that’s all part of the process. Over the years, I experimented a lot and I feel like I finally have the broad strokes of my style down. I still experiment but for the most part, it’s just a matter of fine tuning my style a little more every year.

The Row

What I figured out for myself is that I’m most drawn clothes that would fall into the man repeller category: usually oversized, sometimes androgynous, generally more boxy cuts, slightly odd shapes….. (The looks from the current season I’m loving most are strewn throughout this post.)

I love the beautiful Carolina Herrera gowns this season as well but if I had to describe my style, these are the looks I would point to. I’m fully aware that these are not everyone’s cup of tea and that is okay. By definition, personal style is personal; it is subjective. Not everyone is going to like your style and vice versa.

Ivan Grundahl

I admit that I didn’t always have the confidence to wear anything that would make me stand out too much; I didn’t want to be conspicuous or draw attention to myself in a negative way. But over the years, as I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin, I’ve also become less concerned with other people’s approval or disapproval. How boring would this world be if everyone liked everything everyone did all of the time?  To paraphrase that old song, we’ve gotta be us.

I’ll stop here for today but I’m really fascinated by the topic of style and want to keep exploring it. Next week, I’m going to discuss how I’m organizing my closet. (I told you I’m really cranking out the blog posts these days!)

(Photos from except 1.Architectural Digest 6.Elle Decor)


Lately: A Tropical Resort, Painting Central Park, Serenbe Showhouse & More

Good morning, friends, I’m sharing about a million good things with you today as we say goodbye to summer and usher in fall. #favoriteseason

From our summer vacation, I wanted to show you a few snaps from Sala Phuket Resort because I loved everything about it from the design to the food. I was especially obsessed with our villa with its outdoor bathroom (and shower!) and plunge pool…..  (For the record, this is a completely unbiased, unsponsored post!)

I highly recommend it if you’re thinking of vacationing in that part of the world. I was also happy to learn the Sala group owns a number of properties throughout Thailand and I’m definitely going to be keeping it in mind for future trips!

At home, we’ve been watching Rectify and it is one of the best shows on tv hands down. Heartbreaking and shocking. Happy Valley was really suspenseful and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is just plain hilarious.

I’m also kind of addicted to podcasts these days. I’ve been listening to Happier with Gretchen Rubin, the RobCast, Unmistakable Creative, and Good Life Project. I’m looking for others so please let me know if there are any you’d recommend on the topics of spirituality, creativity and especially style.

This time of year, I tend to suffer sensory overload with new product launches, the new season of arts and reports from fashion week coming at us from every direction…..

A September ritual. I look forward to this section every year.
A September ritual. I look forward to this section every year.
Just a couple of my favorite fashion campaigns this season.

There is so much visual stimulation!

There are new books to inspire us too and Vendome Press kindly sent me an advance copy of Painting Central Park by Roger F. Pasquier which is doing just that.

Central Park has inspired so many painters over the years and bringing them together in this beautiful book is a brilliant way to tell the story of this iconic space. Works by George Bellows, William Merritt Chase, Edward Hopper, Milton Avery and many, many others portray the park beautifully as the backdrop for social life and urban history. If you love New York, American history or landscapes, Painting Central Park is a treat.

You can find all the details and see more of the book here.

serenbe designer showhouse

Last but not least, the community of Serenbe and Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles unveiled the dreamy 2015 Designer Showhouse. I went to a preview this past weekend and as you can see, the designers just knocked it out of the park! There is much, much more so if you’re in the area, go and be inspired! The showhouse is open now through October 4, 2015 and you can find all the details here.

I’ve also been writing up a storm related to Project Simplify so expect many posts this week and next!

(Photos by FROM THE RIGHT BANK except for the fashion campaign spreads and podcast logos)