A Thoughtful Approach to Sprucing Up Your Wardrobe


Around this time in late August is when I start planning ahead for the fall— looking at my calendar and writing in weekend trips such as country fairs and apple picking adventures, thinking about what I want to accomplish before the year ends, and planning out certain projects at work.

One of the fun parts of mapping out the months ahead is thinking about my closet and what I will need to add to get through the next few months. It just so happens that one of my favorite bloggers, Caroline from Unfancy, has a wardrobe planner on her website. She was basically the inventor of the oh-so-popular “capsule wardrobe” concept. If you haven’t heard of this before, you choose a number of clothing pieces and shoes (usually around 37, not including undies, pjs, workout gear, etc) and just wear those without shopping for anything else for a three month period. You are allowed to buy a few key pieces before the period begins to fill in the gaps. The idea is to cut down on spending and to love everything in your closet.

Caroline’s planning tool asks you to assess what you love that’s in your closet and why, what you don’t like, what vibe you’d like to convey, what kind of clothes are practical for your lifestyle, and finally, what pieces you want to add to carry you through the season ahead. After doing the exercise, learned that I like neutrals even more than I thought I did, that the most important factors to enjoying a piece of clothing are the fit and the quality of the fabric, and that my style has definitely evolved a bit over the past few years (there are a stack of things in my closet that I really do not enjoy wearing).

Despite all these small revelations, my take on the capsule idea, as well as the wardrobe assessment, is that I didn’t really need to do the exercise to know what I need, and I wouldn’t bother limiting myself to an arbitrary number like 37. For example, I knew already that I need 3-4 cozy sweaters, a few tops/blouses, a new pair of black jeans, cold-weather pajamas, and that I want a new medium-sized leather bag and a well-fitting fall jacket for everyday wear.  Last year I didn’t buy any new clothes during the winter and just wore everything I already had until it was borderline dingy. So this year I may need to shell out a little extra for a wardrobe update.

I still recommend doing the capsule wardrobe if you have a few hours to kill and enjoy playing around with your style. It could be especially eye-opening if you have too many clothes in your closet but can never find anything you feel like wearing. Let me know if you’ve tried the capsule wardrobe idea or if you’ve done the Unfancy assessment and what you learned!

What’s Next

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I’m happy to tell you that the Waxwing Mercantile blog is now Notes from Ariel. The simple name will grant the flexibility to post about the all things that I love, such as recipes, style, design and paper goods, travel, and life in general, not limited to any particular topic. “Notes” is also a nod to my profession in the stationery industry and my affinity for sending snail mail.

As you may have noticed, though I never said it, I was feeling like the blog was a big stagnant while the Waxwing Mercantile shop was open. I felt self-induced pressure to keep my posts “on brand,” and mostly limited to the products in the shop. Over the past decade, I’ve written 4 different blogs prior to Notes from Ariel, each with a specific theme, so it’s nice to have the freedom to write about anything and everything.

I’ll be back soon with another post! In the meantime, here are a few things I’m loving right now:

  • Modern Brush Lettering Tips for Beginners via Oh So Beautiful Paper
  • Simone Biles on the U.S. gymnastics team at the Rio Olympics
  • Ripe peaches– they’re in season right now! My breakfast lately is cold overnight oats made with coconut-almond milk and topped with peaches, almonds, and a teaspoon of brown sugar. Yum.

P.S.  Waxwing Mercantile is open until August 20th, and you can get 50% off your order with the code FAREWELL.


A Bittersweet Announcement and an Epic Sale

I never thought I would write this post, especially so soon after Waxwing Mercantile opened its online storefront one year ago, but here I am announcing that the shop will be permanently closing in a few weeks on August 20. In the meantime, we are offering a really fantastic sale on all merchandise in the store, starting today and lasting until the shop closes. Just enter the coupon code ‘FAREWELL’ for 50% off everything, including items that were already on sale. This is an opportunity to snag handmade home decor, pretty paper goods, and organic apothecary items that would not ordinarily be discounted so low. Every piece of inventory that I don’t manage to sell before closing will be donated to a local charity to benefit people in need.

The shop started as a passion project for me, and it was something that offered a creative outlet during 2014 and 2015 when I seriously needed one. I became consumed with writing the business plan, designing the website, and devouring every article I could about running a small business. It was incredibly fun to daydream about opening the shop, and then make it come to life. I danced around my office with excitement on the day the website launched and customers started to place orders.

Now in 2016, I find myself in a different situation. For the past year, I’ve been working at a new job managing a small paper goods and letterpress company, and I am head-over-heels with my work there. I’ve decided that I want to invest my energy in that endeavor in this chapter of my life. In addition, around early spring, sales at Waxwing Mercantile started to slow down, and it never really picked back up. I am entirely to blame for that. I just didn’t invest the money and time into marketing the shop properly and getting out there in the world to earn the notoriety that the store would need to gain traction. I’m a little sad to see it go, but on the other hand, I know that it is the right thing for me personally. I have no regrets whatsoever and learned a lot from the process of starting and running the business.  Thank you SO much to everyone who has supported Waxwing, and I hope you can understand why I made this decision.

In terms of the blog, I have been maintaining it since spring of 2013, long before Waxwing came about. I enjoy taking photos and writing posts about design, stationery, food, books, travel, life etc., and you all seem to like reading them, so I’ve decided to keep this blog account under a new name, to be determined shortly. Probably something very simple with my first name in the title– if you have any ideas with a ring to them, please do let me know your thoughts. I hope you’ll stick around and keep reading! Until next time, my friends.

Giveaway – Win a Notecard Set by Bears Eat Berries


Just a happy little giveaway to end the week!  This Woodland Letterpress Stationery Set by Bears Eat Berries is my favorite item from the “Paper” section in the store, and I would love one of you to enjoy it as well. To enter, you can head over to our Instagram page and leave a comment on this photo. A winner will be randomly selected and contacted on Wednesday, August 3rd. The giveaway is limited to residents of the USA and Canada, as those are the countries to which the store currently ships.

Good luck and have a great weekend!

P.S. We are also offering free shipping through August 2nd in the store with the coupon code FIREFLIES.

What’s on my vacation reading list

Summer reads

As a kid, I spent hours upon hours in my tree fort reading Nancy Drew books and any other series I could get my hands on, which is why it’s surprising that as an adult, I have a lot of trouble sitting still to read. I normally want to be up working on a project, organizing the house, cooking, or doing something active outdoors. But on a really humid summer afternoon, you can’t beat settling into a hammock or onto a beach towel with a cold beverage and a good book. Plus, while I read the news every day and like to stay informed, 2016 has been a really heartbreaking year for humankind, and taking breaks to disconnect from the constant stream of terrible news seems like a necessary thing to do for one’s sanity.

Here’s what’s on my list this summer, two of which I’ve finished, and a couple others I am going to try to finish this week on my vacation:

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo // This is the sequel to Kondo’s first book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, a book which I thoroughly enjoyed and inspired me to donate a bunch of old belongings I had cluttering up my space. Spark Joy takes tidying to a new level, acting as a specific set of instructions for how to organize every type of item you own and improve each room in your home. To be honest, I found it a bit dull and overly technical, so if you haven’t read either book, I’d recommend getting the first one instead.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan // A juicy novel loosely inspired by the love story between Kate Middleton and Prince William, this was a funny, enjoyable read. If you enjoy a good romance, but aren’t a fan of the steamy kind that ladies hide in their underwear drawers, this might be a good beach read for you. I found the first 2/3 of the book very entertaining, but it got a bit silly towards the end.  Still worth a read if if you want something light and fluffy.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal  // I just started this one yesterday, so I’m only on the second chapter, but I’m hooked. It’s a fictional story about a woman who starts a supper club in Minnesota. The author was interviewed on NPR last month and I thought he sounded witty. I love food and stories about human connections, so this should be a worthwhile read.

The Homing Instinct by Bernd Heinrich // A nonfiction book by a scientist who has written a load of accessible books about nature for the average Joe. This one is all about animal migration and the subject of “home.” I started it months ago and found it really interesting, but have been more in the mood for fiction lately, and haven’t picked it up again. Planning to finish it by the end of the summer!

What are you reading this summer? I would love recommendations!

Summer Sale – 20% off

Adventure Birthday Card by Smudge Ink, Constellations Notebook by Blackbird Letterpress
national parks
National Parks Spinner by Blackbird Letterpress

Hello, friends. Through July 5, we are offering 20% off all purchases at Waxwing Mercantile. Just enter the code ADVENTURE at checkout. I hope you all have a fun 4th-of-July weekend with your friends and family. Enjoy your barbecues, ball games, fireworks, and road trips! I am looking forward to some relaxing time on a lake here in Maine.