It's January. A fresh start. A brand new, squeaky clean slate. A whole year ahead, brim full of new plans and fizzing with anticipation.
Everyone seems to be throwing themselves into this year with an abundance of energy and renewed spirit. I've seen kitchen cupboard cleanses, had label -makers shoved in my face by the far-too-keen "organizers" in my life, we've shuffled the Stalf studio around and I've witnessed more wardrobe purges on Instagram Stories than Marie Kondo could shake a stick at.
So why am I so de-motivated?
I spent the whole two-weeks of Christmas attempting to fight the worst flu-like bug I've ever had and found myself back in the studio on January 2nd a little lost. I give you the flip side of January ... dark mornings, even darker nights, Blue Monday and a heavy dose of SAD. Maybe it's the one year old baby tugging at my energy levels, or the daunting prospect of running your own business with a whole 12 months ahead of you (January stage-fright is a real thing for me!) but I was in need of some serious motivation.
I decided as a Fashion Designer, and the owner of an independent, slow fashion brand that the dressing room was a good place to start, and so in the spirit of optimism and with the enthusiastic hope of sharing the secret to a clutter-free closet, I give you Jessica Rose Williams.
Last Tuesday, I hopped in the car, left Lincolnshire behind and headed over the rolling hills of the Peak District to Jessica's beautiful little cottage ready to chat all things "capsule wardrobe."
If you don't follow Jessica's Instagram or Blog, and you're interested in low-impact living, minimal, slow lifestyle and making conscious, meaningful choices across all areas of life, I suggest you fill that void with a click on the links at the bottom of this piece. Jessica's blog and Instagram is a daily reminder that "life is better with less." She demonstrates how to slow down, only use what you need and work towards silencing that voice we all have that calls for the purchase of more self-destructive-cash-munching-not-so-life-affirming "stuff".
Boy does she practice what she preaches.
Jessica's house is bliss. If I can paint a picture for you... calm. Quiet. White, wood, grey. Natural light streaming through the windows and dancing on the walls. I remember a distinct feeling that the little stone cottage contained exactly the amount of belongings that it's owner required. An ambient equilibrium where needs are met but never superseded, and physically represented by a row of four cups hooked on a simple wooden shelf above a completely clutter-free worktop. I noted that detail and the thought of it as I type still pleases me greatly.
My point is that Jessica's whole life has been purified by the idea that you only need what you need and there's immense satisfaction and clarity to be obtained in coming to that realisation. I'm rambling now, but standing in her kitchen chatting sustainable living was like medicine to my exhausted, unenthused soul!
Anyway, the focus of my visit was distinctly wardrobe-focused. I asked Jessica to begin by outlining her top 5 tips for starting on the journey towards a super streamlined clothes rail.
Above images taken from Jessica's (very aesthetically pleasing) blog and instagram.
Five top tips to get started, by Jessica...
1. Come face to face with your stuff. In an ideal world you’ll take out every single piece of clothing you own. Yes, even those hiding away in suitcases and backs of drawers. In order to start reducing what you own to only the very best, you need to first realise just how much you’ve got on your hands. It can be quite daunting and if you’re really struggling I’d recommend starting with what feels easy - your jean collection perhaps.
2. Start thinking about how you want your dream capsule wardrobe to make you look and feel. Write it down if you like and get as dreamy as possible, just keep your real life in mind. Can you put this vision or personal style into three keywords? This will help as a guide moving forwards.
3. Declutter what isn’t serving you. Go through all the items you already own and donate, sell or recycle the pieces that don’t match your vision or personal style keywords. It’s ok if this is a little or maybe almost everything, everyone is different.
4. Slowly rebuild your wardrobe with versatile pieces that go together, suit your personal style, lifestyle and make you feel amazing. It’ll never be perfect but always aim for at least an 8/10 in terms of how a piece of clothing makes you feel. The more you hone your personal style the more you’ll want to save precious space in your wardrobe only for the very best.
5. Shop mindfully and stop buying things you don’t really need. Try to opt for ethical pieces that will stand the test of time where possible thus giving you a slower more sustainable wardrobe to cherish.
How does Stalf come into it?
Chatting on the above points with Jessica, I began to pinpoint a crossover in our vocab. Words like "longevity" "staple" "timeless" "simple" are buzzwords for me on the daily- it's what we do here at Stalf, and I heard them reflected in the tips Jessica was passing on to me.
I asked Jessica to pick a handful of pieces from the Stalf collection and weave them into her existing wardrobe. I take it as a humongous compliment that Jessica chose to keep the below items, assessing them as fit for purpose within her ultra-pared down selection.
Here she shows us how she'd style each piece alongside what she already owns...
Midi Skirt - White Linen.
Jessica's heading to a wedding in France this Summer. She's looking to pair her Linen Midi Skirt with a classic silk cami and some pretty flat sandals (a gap in her wardrobe she's looking to fill hence the bare feet!) For everyday Jessica would pair this skirt with a knit and ballet flats for a beautifully classic (and pleasingly French) look.
Organic Sweatshirt- Stripe
The Organic Sweatshirt is a true staple and Stalf fave, so I was very happy when Jessica deemed it fit to slide in amongst her curated collection of stripes. She pairs it here with yoga pants and comfy slippers for the perfect working-from-home or lazy Sunday look. One thing that I loved about Jessica's approach was the fact that she considered the garment for all-year wearing (as opposed to simply how she'd immediately choose to style it.) The Sweatshirt is perfect here paired with denim cut-offs and Birkenstocks for a hazy summer evening.
Cocoon Trousers- Black
The Cocoon Trousers in black are a super easy dress-up-dress-down chameleon. Jessica selected her trusty silk cami and a knit for a take on office work-wear, and dressed them down with Birkenstocks and the Striped Sweatshirt.
Cocoon Jumpsuit- Black
I absolutely love how different the two looks Jessica selected for the Black Jumpsuit are. This is exactly what I wanted from the Cocoon Jumpsuit, and black lends itself to being smartened with heels and a crisp white shirt for night time. For day, Jessica's stripey/trainer combo is the easiest of simple yet stylish day attire.
Cocoon Jumpsuit- Sage
Jessica was initially unsure if there was a place for the tone of the Sage Jumpsuit in her capsule wardrobe (most pieces are black/white/grey/denim) but when she began pairing it with what she already had, it changed her mind. I love how once again she's given us a Summer/Winter contrast here, wearing it solo for the warmer months, and with a chunkier knit and ankle boots (which I LOVE) for wearing now.
In her words... some of my favourite written posts by Jessica...