winter capsule wardrobeThis is not a style blog. I don’t keep up much with trends or even read style blogs. So why share such a detailed post about my wardrobe, again? (Click here to see my fall capsule wardrobe.)

What do leather booties and chambrays have to do with living intentionally, building a strong marriage, or anything else I regularly write about here?

More than you’d think.

**If you just want to see the pictures of my capsule, scroll down. All photography by @jensane.

I originally read about the concept of a capsule wardrobe on the un-fancy website last fall and immediately built my first one. The capsule wardrobe is about feeling good in what you wear, and it aligns perfectly with how I’m trying to live my life: using my resources well, paring down the unnecessary things in life that weigh me down and distract me from the real priorities.

I know that making fewer choices makes me happy, and that spending with a plan is key to getting out of debt and being wise with money. The capsule wardrobe is a the perfect application of these principles in my closet, where I’d been left frustrated and discouraged in the past.

The capsule wardrobe takes many of the ideas I wrote about in my intention ebook and extends them to my closet!

Here’s what the un-fancy website says about the why behind a capsule wardrobe:

To me, a capsule wardrobe represents more time and energy for what really matters (less time spent deciding what to wear / less time spent shopping / less time doing laundry or caring for clothes) more money for our dreams + helping others (less money spent on clothes that never get worn) and more contentment and happiness.

Does that resonate with you like it did with me? I’m someone who works best within boundaries of my choosing. While feeling put together and comfortable in my clothes is important to me, I often feel overwhelmed by the clothes I have and even more overwhelmed when I shop for new things.

The capsule wardrobe wasn’t easy to compose, but it gave me the structure I needed. I love that I now have these versatile pieces that I can wear throughout the winter without getting bored, and that I’ll have the challenge (and blessing) of not spending any more money on clothes until the next season! Contentment has been a huge byproduct of our debt free journey, and the capsule is another place to continue learning that lesson.

What exactly is a capsule wardrobe?

From the website I used for my process: it’s a mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you totally LOVE to wear.

Un-fancy  breaks it into 37 pieces: tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear and shoes.

(It doesn’t include accessories, jewelry, workout gear, pajamas, underwear, socks.) She came to 37 by breaking it down into 9 pairs of shoes, 9 bottoms, and 15 tops, then the remaining 4 for 2 dresses and 2 jackets/coats.

For the winter, I ended up with 34 pieces: 3 pants, one dress, 3 jackets, 19 tops, 2 cardigans, and 6 pairs of shoes. Most of these were carried over from my fall capsule, or from last winter.

Keep in mind that a capsule is just for a season, so summer sandals aren’t included in a winter wardrobe, for example.

The key differences between a capsule wardrobe and what most of us have already:

  • you carefully curate the capsule so that you LOVE everything in it
  • it’s versatile so you can make a bunch of outfits from a limited number of things
  • it’s budget friendly because once the capsule is built, you don’t shop until the next season

Step one: pare down

I got rid of so many clothes when I built my fall capsule, but I  filled a ThredUp bag to the brim again with items in good shape that I no longer like or wear. (Read more about ThredUP here.)

Bonus: if you send your stuff to ThredUp, they’ll pay you or give you credit for the items they accept. And it’s super convenient – they send you a postage-paid clean out bag and you simply fill it up and hand it to your mail carrier.


Step two: work through capsule wardrobe planner

I downloaded the wardrobe planner from Un-fancy and worked through it:

Lifestyle – three quarters casual, one quarter going out or to an event. (I took Christmas and holiday parties into account, as well as the colder weather.)

Words associated with my ideal style – classic, elegant, comfortable, polished, effortless, neutral, pops of color

Brands - J. Crew outlet, Nordstrom sale, Stitch Fix

Colorsmajor: navy and blues, maroon, denim, grey, black // minor: white, green // accents: royal blue, pink

Go to pieces – skinny jeans, cozy sweaters, ankle boots, leather boots, plaid button downs, denim chambray, navy vest, puffy jacket

Shopping list – For my fall capsule, I made a Pinterest board and spent a lot of time online deciding what types of items I wanted to buy. This time, I made another Pinterest board to use for planning and carried over many items from my fall capsule. (This capsule is technically for December-February, but I got a few things as Christmas gifts, and a few things on sale after Christmas, so I waited to finalize it until the end of December. Depending on the weather, this capsule will likely see me through most of March while I put together my spring capsule.)

My ThredUp credit, Stitch Fix credit, and sales helped offset some of my new clothing costs again.

Keep in mind, the idea ISN’T to buy 37 new things for every capsule. Most of my items are things from last year or from the fall that I already had and loved.

My shopping list: grey cords // casual sneakers // cheetah flats // casual heart tee // chambray // plaid buffalo check shirt // maroon leather detail shirt

I acquired 10 new things, but several were Christmas gifts (the puffy jacket and two cardigans.) I am shopping with an eye toward quality now that I’m building capsules, so I’m trying to only buy things I’ll carry over into future capsules.

Step three: assemble the capsule

In this post, I’ll share all the pictures we took of the clothes by themselves. We didn’t get all 34 items for this post, but I’ll be sharing the rest in a future post where I’m wearing them!

Photo Jan 22, 1 17 21 PM

clockwise: Popbasic scarf, not counted in 34 items (referral link gives us both $15 credit) // plaid peacoat, purchased in 2008 // Oxford booties from fall capsule (Steve Madden)

Photo Jan 22, 1 04 32 PM

from left: necklace (Stella and Dot)// navy cardigan (Gap) // artist tee (J. Crew outlet) // cardigan (J. Crew) // Cosette Crochet Detail Knit Shirt (fall Stitch Fix) // Harlowe plaid button up (Stitch Fix, 2013) // navy vest (J. Crew outlet)

If you’ve never heard of Stitch Fix, I’ve blogged about them here and here.

headphones on chambray

clockwise from top left: chambray (J. Crew outlet) // buffalo check button up (J. Crew outlet) // black criss cross sneakers (Steve Madden outlet) // houndstooth flats (Gap outlet, 2013)

headphones: happy plugs (Urban Outfitters)

Photo Jan 22, 1 22 55 PM

from left: blue polyester shirt (Nordstrom BP, 2013) // green plaid (Nordstrom BP, 2013) // color block striped tee (Gap outlet, 2013) // Halogen shirt (Nordstrom sale)

Photo Jan 22, 1 15 38 PM

clockwise from top left: classic white Converse (Nordstrom) // scarf (Nordstrom BP) // North Face coat (Nordstrom sale) // J. Brand skinny jeans (Anthropologie)

Photo Jan 22, 1 08 02 PM

from left: Popbasic tee (referral link gives us both $15 credit) // maroon tee (Nordstrom Rack, last year) // grey flecked tee (Mossimo, last year) // grey lace back tee (Love on a Hanger, several years old) // olive lace bottom tee (Nordstrom BP, 2013)

necklaces, from left: Beautiful and Beloved // Nordstrom BP // Banana Republic // J. Crew outlet

Photo Jan 22, 12 57 22 PM

 clockwise from top left: necklace (Beautiful and Beloved) // cable knit cream sweater (J. Crew, purchased from consignment store in 2012) // J. Brand skinny jeans (Anthropologie) // brown leather boots (Steve Madden, 2013)

After making a second capsule, I’m sold. I genuinely wear everything in my closet, and spend WAY less time deciding what to wear each morning.

What do you think of this idea? Have you tried it? What makes you want to try it or holds you back from trying it?

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In this week’s episode, we talk about how to: road trip, accept compliments, and fall in love with anyone. We also play a mad round of “Fortunately/Unfortunately,” so hold on to your pets and your phalanges. You can listen on our website, in iTunes, or with your favorite podcast app!

Thank you so much to those of you who have reviewed our podcast on iTunes! It means so much to us.

Show Notes:

We begin this week’s episode by recounting the event henceforth referred to as ‘The Battle of the Ravenel Bridge.” It is a riveting tale of hardship, perserverence, and ultimate victory.

I saw Selma last week and highly recommend it. It challenged me and raised some questions I’ve been thinking about since:

  • Is being a small part of a great cause enough for our generation?
  • Has the need to be known for what we’re doing stolen our ability to accomplish anything meaningful?

 “Like anybody, I would like to have a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Speaking of Alabama, we’re taking a road trip to Birmingham soon!

What are some of your road trip strategies?

  • Maggie loves driving and road trips, while I love being driven.
  • We both agree road trips are great opportunities for catching up on phone calls, music, podcasts, and alone time.
  • Maggie hates stopping frequently, but when she does stop she takes her time. I stop more frequently (bathroom stops, ahem) but don’t like to dilly-dally.
  • We agree that good road trip snacks is KEY:
    • I stock up at Trader Joe’s
    • Maggie eats her body weight in baby carrots.
  • Road trip games:
    • Would You Rather?
    • The Question Game
    • Fortunately/Unfortunately (Just a warning: this one gets a little…intersting. Brace yourselves)

Mike and I are planning a trip to Europe this summer, but I’m feeling weird about it. Maggie gives me advice, and we discuss the benefits of traveling in the context of purpose and blessing.

  • Traveling takes you outside of your comfort zone and contributes to character growth. Encountering new cultures provides perspective and challenges what we know and believe.
  • It is an act of worship. Exploring new aspects of creation honors the Creator.
  • Traveling allows us to be influenced by people whose stories and journeys are incredibly different from our own.
  • It provides creative inspiration.

Do you have trouble receiving compliments? How do you go about giving them?

Our tips for receiving compliments:

  • Say thank you.
  • Be genuine – false humility is not becoming.

Our tips for giving compliments:

  • If you think it, say it!
  • Slide bits of encouragement into everyday conversation.

In other news, someone has discovered how ‘To Fall in Love with Anyone.’

Thoughts, questions, comments?

Find Around the Table on Instagram or Twitter, or leave a comment below.

Maggie on InstagramTwitter, and her blog

Me on Instagram and Twitter

When plans change

January 20, 2015 — 2 Comments

john mark lyrics

So far, the only pattern I see in 2015 is a repeat cycle of interruptions and changes in my plans.

I’ve handled major changes, like a cross country move, with surprising ease but the more mundane daily changes often throw me for a loop.

I’m inexplicably bummed even when I’m the person changing the plans, and I’m the only one affected, like when I plan to go for a run but sleep late to get extra rest. The day didn’t get off to the planned start, so it didn’t get off to the right start.

I like knowing what to expect, and I like the sense of control, but I’m learning something terrifying and liberating in my adult life: we’re not in control of anything, not really.

We have more choices than most, and infinitely more than generations before us – but let’s not mistake the privilege of choice for the delusion of control.

We’re the adults now. We decide bedtime and what’s for dinner, but we don’t control what people think of us, or whether the cells in our bodies march on or betray us in rebellious mutiny.

Every critic thinks he’d make a better president or quarterback than the guy in the spotlight, but even the most surefooted amongst us must admit how small she feels in the center stage of her own life sometimes.

We all have puzzle pieces that don’t fit, exceptions to our rules, questions unanswered by our world views. We know what’s right, what’s wrong, what we should do, would do. Then a pivotal moment interrupts and doesn’t fit into our classification system, and we look back, all the shoulda’s and coulda’s falling from our gaping mouths.

We’ll get ‘em next time, but we don’t get to choose if we get a next time.

We do the best we can, wonder how we got here, hyper aware now of the responsibility hanging opposite our choices on the other side of the balance. How can we be so accountable, yet so powerless?

We have our faith to lean on, thank God, but faith can be empty when its misplaced.

I’ve misplaced faith in the small scope of my imagination, in my work ethic, and a thousand other unworthy vessels.

I’ve mistaken stubborn investment in a particular outcome for noble commitment. I’ve asked God for the lesser goods of comfort, happy circumstances, and a life of greatness through achievement when He offered refinement, joy untethered to circumstances, and a life of greatness through service.

When we realize how out of control we are, what is there but to fall – dizzily yet without abandon – on faith in One who’s good?

I keep making plans, overinvesting my faith in them and getting far too attached. But each time I’m back at the drawing board, I’m learning to put a dropper full of faith in His plans – the ones I don’t see or understand, the ones He’s written down but keeps pointing me back toward. I’m learning to say, “Your way is better,” even when He rejects the way I suggested He step in here.

John Mark McMillan, Future Past:


In this episode, we talk about a candle making class we took, this Harvard Business Review article How Will You Measure Your Life, what not to sacrifice when paying off debt, and a very important decision Jacey needs your help to make. You can listen on our website, in iTunes, or with your favorite podcast app!

Here are the show notes for this episode:

Proceed NO FURTHER without giving our podcast an honest iTunes review. Please?

Last week was our least favorite week of 2015 so far. So we’re talking about the week before instead!


We took a candle making class at Candlefish. I want to live there and/or open my own Candlefish should we ever leave Charleston. We spend the first segment of our show gushing over the candle making experience and sharing what we learned!

Fun fact: At my wedding, I assigned dinner seating by wine varietals instead of table number i.e. “I’m at the Chardonnay table!”

Candlefish sells many brands of candles, Rifle Paper Co products and the lunch boxes from our gift menu! Remember that? How we love you and Christmas so much that we did giveaways? We’re always thinking of you guys. That’s worth an iTunes review, right?

How will you measure your life?

We discussed the article, How Will You Measure Your Life, by Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen:

This quote from the article resonated strongly with me, especially after writing Valuable Work Isn’t Always Paid or Even Noticed this week:

“When people who have a high need for achievement…have an extra half hour of time or an extra ounce of energy, they’ll unconsciously allocate it to activities that yield the most tangible accomplishments. And our careers provide the most concrete evidence that we’re moving forward. You ship a product, finish a design, complete a presentation, close a sale, teach a class, publish a paper, get paid, get promoted. In contrast, investing time and energy in your relationship with your spouse and children typically doesn’t offer that same immediate sense of achievement…You can neglect your relationship with your spouse, and on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t seem as if things are deteriorating. People who are driven to excel have this unconscious propensity to underinvest in their families and overinvest in their careers—even though intimate and loving relationships with their families are the most powerful and enduring source of happiness.”

Maggie pointed out the part about how businesses overinvest in things that bring immediate returns, and eventually unravel from those decisions.

Christensen writes, “If you study the root causes of business disasters, over and over you’ll find this predisposition toward endeavors that offer immediate gratification. If you look at personal lives through that lens, you’ll see the same stunning and sobering pattern: people allocating fewer and fewer resources to the things they would have once said mattered most.”

How much attention do we pay to metrics that don’t even measure the things we say “matter most,” like social media followers?

A life of integrity is closely tied with humility.

To sum it up, Christensen says,

“I’ve concluded that the metric by which God will assess my life isn’t dollars but the individual people whose lives I’ve touched.”

What not to sacrifice when paying off debt:

I share five things we didn’t sacrifice to get out of debt. I’m teaching a class for The Influence Network called Paying Down Debt 101, so check it out if you would benefit!

VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION: I’ve had the same haircut for the past six years – 

2014-12-25 15.56.52

BUT…I’m thinking about changing it.

**ignore the facial expression, but judge the haircut** THOUGHTS?! Is ombre on its way out?

new hairstyle

My boss bought me Mane ‘n Tail to help me grow my hair to this length more quickly.

Clearly, we need your feedback. Find Around the Table on Instagram or Twitter, or leave a comment below.

Maggie on Instagram, Twitter, and her blog

Me on Instagram, Twitter and her blog

K byyyeee!

valuable work

“The work people see isn’t more valuable than the work only my husband or no one sees.”

This was number 11 on my “what I learned in 2014” list, but truthfully, it’s a lesson in progress. I’ve been bouncing the idea around in my head while I’m doing dishes or basking in the short lived satisfaction in a job well done. Sometimes it lands, settles, and feels true, sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes, I make resentful soup for dinner. Maybe you know the recipe? I rush, slamming cupboards, offended that making dinner eats up valuable time I could be spending writing or doing something more important. No matter what spices I add, these meals always taste bitter.

This assumption about time is a lie, right? On an average week and in an honest moment, I’d admit that Instagram or Netflix “steals” more of my time away from work and writing than dishes or laundry.

The difference is that they don’t qualify as “work” and so my neurotic brain categorizes them differently. Since making dinner is “work” like responding to emails is work, my brain organizes them in a hierarchy in an effort to… I don’t know, kill me.

How does my brain decide which work is more valuable? Unfortunately, I’ve programmed it to think that work I get “credit” for, like money or potential affirmation, is at the top. I didn’t mean to train myself to think this way, and 2014 was the year I started to tackle this stronghold to the ground, bringing it captive to Christ.

There’s nothing biblical about prioritizing work that makes the most money, or seeking affirmation like a golden retriever. There are strong warnings about overvaluing money or approval – they become idols.

Hard mental battles, conversations with Mike and people I trust, and biblical wisdom helped me gain ground in the way I think about work. Now I’m gaining momentum, and hope to be fully set free from the limiting lie of the hierarchy for work I slaved after.

In a practical sense, this means I’ve stopped time tracking, except for my job where I invoice based on time. Last year, I tracked everything I spent time on related to work: both podcasts, this blog, and each miscellaneous project had a clock.

I judged myself very harshly based on how much time I spent (or didn’t spend) working. Naturally, if I didn’t put in as many hours as I hoped, I blamed it on the Target trip or dry cleaning pick up, not the Twitter rabbit trail. As a discipline, I’m giving up time tracking so that I can do what needs to be done each day without categorizing.

I write of prioritizing certain work like it’s pure evil, and it’s not, necessarily. There truly is a most important next task, and prioritizing allows us to meet deadlines and keep balanced lives.

The distinction I’m making is that neither is more valuable. Work I do to serve my family, tedious and behind the scenes matters like my job matters. It might even matter more, depending on what we’re measuring. 

The metric I’m paying attention to this year is going to be much harder to measure than time or money, but it will also be much healthier. Here’s the question I’m asking when I decide how to spend my time, what to work on and when:

Am I pouring out what I have for the good of my family and community, and the glory of God?

Anytime I can answer “yes,” I know I’m doing valuable work, paid or unpaid, noticed or not.