How to Define your Ideal Style

January 04, 2017

the minimalist wardrobe workbook

Have you ever stared into your overflowing closet and felt like you had nothing to wear?

If so, this post is for you. 

Having an overstuffed, under worn closet full of things is a North American epidemic. 

I'm not judging you. Trust me.

I, the founder of Encircled, an ethical and minimalism-driven fashion line spent most of my high school years and college medicating with shopping.

I was a shopaholic (you can read a little more about that in this post).

For now, I just want you to take comfort in the fact that you're not alone. Many of us experience the burden of having just too much stuff.

And quite often, it's not the right stuff.

Fact is most women wear about 20% of their closet 80% of the time. Yes, that means there's a whole 80% of that closet you have that is likely rarely or never seeing the light of day.

But don't think about the lost investment in that unworn 80% clothing.

Because, that is what many people get stuck on -- how much money they've spent acquiring clothing they don't wear -- and why I believe that we hold onto things for way too long. What other culture in the world rents storage units to store old stuff? 

Think of it the opposite way -- think of the opportunity to make more space.
About 80% more.

When we rebranded earlier in 2016 to our goals became laser focused on helping you to become a more conscious consumer, to align your values with your wardrobe and find adventure in the everyday.

We want you to be more with less.

I knew with the rebrand that we wanted to update our email subscriber bonus (a free carry-on only packing list) to something that felt more synchronous with our mission.

So, we created it.

how to build a capsule wardrobe

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to walk you through our 3-step minimalist wardrobe design process. In today's post, I'm going to start with a quick intro and full walk through of step one of the process using my wardrobe as an example.


The Minimalist Wardrobe Workbook Part One 

No matter where you are today with your wardrobe, having a refined, minimalist closet IS possible.

Do you live in a climate like ours (hot in summer, cold as heck in the winter)? Yes, even YOU can embrace a seasonally relevant minimalist closet.

We believe that there are two keys to having a minimalist closet that works for you:

1. Set yourself some clear guidelines that rule your wardrobe.

Yes, boundaries. What are the guiding principles of your wardrobe? We want you to better align your wardrobe with your life.

Clothing, we believe, should be as carefully considered as your food and beauty products are. What you buy affects your health, your wallet and your overall well-being. It impacts your community. It impacts potentially global communities (negatively or positively). 

You get the opportunity to vote with your dollars.

Something to consider. Your clothing is against your skin ALL day. Choose fabrics that are safe - that use low impact, azo-free dyes. Low or no pesticide fabrics (i.e. NOT 100% non-organic cotton). Every time you wear a t-shirt, it's on your skin - whatever was used in the creation of that product. Every time you wash a t-shirt, it's in our waterways, which ultimately ends up in ground water, our lakes, oceans and rivers, and drinking water.

Consider the cost of each clothing purchase is not just comprised of the cost you pay at the store.

There is a human cost (for those who haven't watched it, check out the Netflix documentary, "The True Cost"). Supporting fast fashion companies who engage in suspect labour practices to get you that $8 t-shirt is turning a blind eye to what's really going on. 

Many of these companies operate at a high gross margin (essentially profit), so you can only imagine what that worker is being paid to sewn your tee.

In the minimalist workbook, we've setup three suggested guideposts for designing the minimalist closet of your dreams.

  • Quality over quantity
  • Owning your style
  • Your closet reflects your life

how to build a minimalist closet

I won't spend time going into detail on each one here, but when you grab a copy of the workbook, you can read all about what that means. You're welcome to create your own, or edit it as you see fit. It's your wardrobe, your life.


2. Define your Ideal Style

Knowing your style is key to embracing minimalism. Refine your style, and claim it as your own.

We tend to accumulate clothing that we won't wear during major pivot points in our lives. Changing careers, transitioning from school to work, or work to home (or vice versa), having a baby, losing or gaining weight, or moving climates etc. 

When I started my transition to becoming an entrepreneur, I moved from a career in strategy consulting where the dress code was business casual to business formal depending on the day. Over the years, corporate jobs had left my closet over stuffed with blazers, collared dress shirts, dress pants and conservative kitten heels.

Before Encircled had an office, I was working from home (which meant pajamas all day). Now, I actually have to get dressed for work but consider myself lucky that our office dress code is where-what-you-want.

The transition from corporate to entrepreneur left my closet exploding with unworn work clothing. Moreover, I'd downsized apartments so I had zero space. Some of the dress clothing had tags on it (yes, I said it). 

I said to myself - out loud - I'm never going back to corporate, these clothes will make a positive difference in someone else's life.

With that, I donated about two garbage bags full of almost new, in some cases very expensive business clothing.

Instantly, my closet felt lighter.

Also, I was lighter, and stronger in my purpose.

It's crazy how a change in closet, can impact your life. That's how closely interwoven (pun intended) we are with fashion in our culture. 

The key to creating a streamlined closet is to own your style, your shape, and your lifestyle as it is TODAY. Right now.

(Not tomorrow, not when you lose 20lbs. As it is. Now.)

Let's dig into the work.




the minimalist wardrobe workbook

How you spend your time reveals your true priorities. It also reveals the ideal weighting of your wardrobe. 

Why have 20 going out tops if you only go out once a year?

In the workbook, we provide a pie graph in which you can map out the top three ways you spend your time in an average week (excluding sleeping, of course).

Then, take those three activities you spend the most time on and write out what style of dress is appropriate.

In my example, you can see that I spend a lot of time working (New year's intention is to do that less!), but right now that's probably 80% of my week. My work dress code as mentioned is casual which I think is a generous statement!

Next up, I spend the remainder of time with friends, or my boyfriend either at their homes, or going out for food or drinks. I'll call that style required out as Dressy Casual.

Lastly, the remaining chunk of time is spent working out. Athletic gear required!  




Next up, we ask you to list out your favourite outfit for each of the activities where you spend the most time doing on a weekly basis.

Your go-to outfits.

Think about it this way. If you had 5 minutes to get dressed for that occasion, what would you wear? What outfit do you feel most comfortable or confident in?

how to build a capsule wardrobe

For work, it definitely includes leggings (I love our high-rise Minimalist legging). A Nomadic V-Neck, long sweater coat, my moto boots and definitely any techie device I can get my hands on (current fav: apple watch).

free printable pdf for building a capsule wardrobe

For spending time with friends and my boyfriend, my go-to outfit includes my fav black ripped jeans, nude heels, a silky top, and my leather jacket. Add on rose gold jewelry and I'm good to go.

how to build a capsule wardrobe

For working out, I have a standard uniform of black crops, a sport bra, my nikes, athletic top, our Travelista headband and headphones.

Don't be afraid to get too specific in this section. The more detail, the better.

Last step, whether you're feeling ultra-inspired or like you have no idea what your style is, I recommend making a pinterest board of your dream style.

Find some outfits that you love and pin them to a board (don't forget to follow us for some inspo!). Make sure they are outfits you would actually wear!




how to define your ideal style

The last step in part one is to map out the colours you love.

Take a quick look at your wardrobe. We humans are creatures of habit.

Are there a few consistent neutral colours in your wardrobe? A neutral would be something easily styled with another colour. Examples include black, grey, white, beige etc.

Next, write down 1-2 accent colours that make you shine.

I'm an addict to black-white-grey but when I put on a royal blue top, my eyes really pop. Same with a bright purple.

Thought I tend not to wear a ton of colour, it's important to acknowledge that variety can be a good thing. 

Unsure what colours look good on you? There's lots of resources online to help you figure out your best colour match. Alternatively, have a friend over and hold up different colours next to your face. See what lights you up!

Yay, you do it. Congrats! You've made it to the end of step one, defining your ideal style.

I'll be back next week to share a walk through of step two of the 3-step process to creating a minimalist wardrobe which is "Perform a closet Audit". Oh yes. This one will be good.

If you don't want to miss the next post, sign-up for our newsletter. We'll be sharing it there first.

Enjoy the process of refining your ideal style. 

If you haven't already grabbed your copy, get it now when you sign up.

sign up for email updates to learn how to curate a minimalist closet

Questions? Comments? I'd love to connect. Leave them in the comments below. I'd love to see how you're progressing with step one of the minimalist wardrobe workbook.

With gratitude,


Founder + CEO, Encircled

Love travel? Join our League of Travelistas -- a community for women who love to travel. Click her to request access to our private facebook group.

All photos are copyright Encircled. Contact us for permissions/rights to re-use or repost images. 

Also in The Journal

Wearing a Long Sleeve Top, 4 Ways

October 11, 2017 0 Comments

The long sleeve top is a quintessential staple in every wardrobe. You can dress it up, dress it down, drape it loose, or tuck it in. We styled our Essential Long Sleeve Top in 4 different ways to...

Continue Reading

Event Re-Cap: The Encircled In-Studio Social, Fall Edition

October 04, 2017 0 Comments

Last week, we held our very first In-Studio Social! We’d moved from our tiny 600 square-foot studio to a larger space this summer and wanted to celebrate by inviting our customers (you!) to see...

Continue Reading

A Weekend Guide to Prince Edward County, Canada

September 27, 2017 0 Comments

Travel Essentials. Encircled creates versatile minimalist clothes with the everyday traveler in mind. Each piece is Made in Canada, out of sustainable, and eco friendly materials.

Over labour day weekend, I escaped the busy city of Toronto for the newest wine and culinary destination in Ontario: Prince Edward County. This area of Ontario feels like it didn’t really exist until a few years...

Continue Reading

Encircled Size Charts
Please scroll down to find the size chart for each design. If you have any questions on sizing, please try out our online size recommender or click here to contact us with questions prior to ordering. Size charts are in alphabetical order based on design name.
If you're on our product page viewing the size chart, click anywhere outside of the pop-up (or on the X in the top right corner) to close the size charts, or click here to surf back to our main collection page.

The Chrysalis Cardi

Garment Length (Laid Flat) Garment Width (Laid Flat) Bust 


(xs - xxl)

38" 39.5" 32"-41" 25"-34" 35"-44" 5'2"-6'0"


(xxs - m)

35" 34.5" 27"-35" 23"-28" 30"-38" <5'4"


(xl - xxxl)

43" 41.5" 41"-52" 33"-45" 44"-56" <6'0"

Fit Advice: The Regular Chrysalis Cardi is a one size fits most garment ranging from sizes XS-XXL or 2-14. It can be easily belted in multiple ways, however the Regular is not recommended for petite or shorter woman due to the volume of fabric - See Petite Cardi. The Regular is also not recommended for curvier/taller women due to fabric pulling around the bust or bottom - See Maxi Cardi.

We recommend watching the how-to wear videos to see how much fabric drape and length you would like in your finished garment. If you are in between sizes, it is best to size up and the garment can always be tailored shorter to better suit your look - you cannot add more fabric, unfortunately!

The Petite is best suited for women 5'4" and under with a smaller frame, although it will also work on women above this height (depending on preferred length when styled). 

The Maxi is best suited for all women under 6’0” with a curvier shape to eliminate any uncomfortable fabric pulling, although it will also work on women who are a bit less curvy (depending on preferred length when styled).

*If you have any questions on sizing, please contact us - Remember it is best to provide us with your height and size range of garments that you already own! 


The Dressy Sweatpant


Worn higher up to sit at your natural waist - straight leg tapers from the hip to ankle opening.

Size XS (0-2) S (2-4) M (6-8) L (10-12) XL (14-16)
Waist (inches)
23" - 25"
25" - 28"
28" - 32"
32" - 34"
34" - 37"
Hip (inches)
32" - 34"
35" - 38"
38" - 41"
41" - 44"
44" - 47"
Inseam (inches) 26.5"

Fit Advice: We recommend staying with your usual size if you are in-between sizes. The cut on The Dressy Sweatpants is more generous and the fit is meant to be drapey and slightly loose. 


The Essential Long Sleeve Top

0 - 2 (XS) 2 - 4 (S) 6 - 8 (M) 10 - 12 (L) 12 - 14 (XL) 14-16 (XXL)
Bust 28 - 30" 30 - 33" 33 - 36" 36 - 39" 39 - 42"
42 - 45"
Waist 23 - 25" 25 - 27" 28 - 30" 30 - 33" 34 - 36"
36 - 38"
Hips 30 - 32" 33 - 36" 36 - 38" 38 - 41" 41 - 44"
44 - 47"
Front Length / Back Length 24 - 31"
24 - 31"
24 - 31"
24 - 31"
24 - 31"
24 - 31"

Fit Advice: The Essential Long Sleeve Top fits a bit larger than our usual tees. We suggest to order true to your normal size, however since the styling is more flowy than our other Encircled tees, it is suggested to size down if you prefer a tighter look. As the fabric has a natural stretch, it will stretch to fit within ~1-2" of the measurements shown around the chest and hips. 


The Evolve Top

0 - 2 (XS) 2 - 4 (S) 6 - 8 (M)
10 - 12 (L)
14 - 16 (XL)
Bust 27.5 - 29.5 " 30.5 - 32.5 " 33.5 - 35.5 " 36.5 - 38.5" 39.5 - 41.5 "
Waist 20-22" 23-25" 26-28" 32-34" 35-37"
Hips 30-32" 33-35" 36-38" 39-41" 42-44"
Fit Advice: The fit of The Evolve top is drapey but tapers towards the hip and tends to fit large. We recommend for you to size down from your normal size if you are unsure. The fabric on The Evolve top has a natural stretch that will stretch to fit within ~1-2" of the measurements shown. 

The Flipside Legging 

0 - 2 (XS) 2 - 4 (S) 6 - 8 (M) 10 - 12 (L) 14 - 16 (XL)
Waist 20-24" 25-28" 28-32" 32-34" 34-37"
Hips 30-34" 35-38" 38-41" 41-44" 44-47"
Inseam 28" 28"

Fit Advice: We recommend sizing up if you are in between sizes with your measurements. The modal fabric on The Flipside Leggings is not as 'taut' as synthetic fabrics like polyester, so if you prefer a snugger fit in the waist area for your leggings, size down. The Flipside Leggings are pre-shrunk. 


 The Minimalist Legging + The Minimalist Crop Legging

0 - 2 (XS) 2 - 4 (S) 6 - 8 (M) 10 - 12 (L) 14 - 16 (XL)
Waist 20-24" 25-28" 28-32" 32-34" 34-37"
Hips 30-34" 35-38" 38-41" 41-44" 44-47"


(crop 20")


(crop 20")


(crop 20")


(crop 20")


(crop 20")

Fit Advice: We recommend sizing down if you are in between sizes with your measurements. The bamboo fabric on The Minimalist Leggings is tighter than the Flipside Leggings. The Minimalist Leggings are pre-shrunk.


The Nomadic V-Neck

0 - 2 (XS) 2 - 4 (S) 6 - 8 (M) 10 - 12 (L) 12 - 14 (XL) 14 - 16 (XXL)
Bust 27.5 - 29.5 " 30.5 - 32.5 " 33.5 - 35.5 " 36.5 - 38.5" 39.5 - 41.5 "
42.5 - 44.5
Waist 23-24" 25-26" 28-29" 30-31" 32-34"
Hips 30-32" 33-35" 36-38" 39-41" 42-44"
Length 28" 28" 28" 28" 28"

Fit Advice: The Nomadic V-Neck fits true to size. If you want a more relaxed fit, size up. The length can be hemmed by a tailor. As the fabric has a natural stretch, it will stretch to fit within ~1-2" of the measurements shown around the chest and hips. 


The Retrograde Kimono Dress

XS (0-2) S (2-4) M (6-8) L (10-12) XL (14-16) 
Bust (Inches)
28 - 32.5"
33" - 35.5"
36 - 38.5"
39 - 41.5"
42 - 49"
Hip (Inches)
33" - 36"
37" - 39"
40" - 42"
43" - 45"
46" - 50"
Length (Inches)
At longest, 33"
At longest, 34"
At longest, 35"
At longest, 36"
At longest, 37"

Fit Advice: The Retrograde Kimono Dress is our most "oversized" piece in the collection. We suggest to order true to your normal size to get the intended look. If you prefer a slimmer or tighter look, we suggest choosing a size down than your usual Encircled size.


The Reversible Pencil Skirt

XS (0-2)
S (2-4)
M (6-8)
L (10-12)
XL (14-16)

Waist (inches)

23" - 26"
26" - 29"
29" - 32"
32" - 34"
35" - 37"

Hip (inches)

32" - 34"
35" - 38"
38" - 41"
41" - 44"
45" - 47"

Length Total (inches)


Fit Advice: The Reversible Pencil Skirt fits true to size, but it's suggested to size up if you fall between sizes. The pencil skirt offers a smooth silhouette that slightly tapers from waist to hips and down through to the hem, hitting just at knee length. A pencil skirt should smoothly skim your curves, so to get a perfect fit, first identify your largest measurement then choose the size offering that range while still allowing for some stretch. The fabric on The Reversible Pencil skirt has a natural stretch, that will stretch to fit within ~1-2" of the measurements shown. 


The Revolve Dress II + The Sleeveless Revolve Dress

0 - 2 (XS) 4-6 (S) 8-10 (M) 12-14 (L) 16-18 (XL) 20 (XXL)
Bust (in inches)  30.5-32.5" 33.5-35.5" 36.5-38.5" 39.5-41.5" 42.5-44" 45-47"
Waist (in inches)  25-26" 28-29" 30-31" 32-34" 35-37" 38-40"
Hips (in inches)  33-36" 37-39" 40-42" 43-45" 46-48" 49-52"
Length (in inches) At longest, 34.5" adjustable At longest, 35.35" adjustable At longest, 36" adjustable  At longest, 36.75" adjustable At longest, 37.5" adjustable At longest, 38.25" adjustable

Fit Advice: The Revolve Dress is designed to fit drapey that tapers towards the hip. We recommend staying with your typical dress size. If your hip measurements are above the guide, size up. The length can be hemmed by a tailor. The fabric on The Revolve Dress has a natural stretch, that will stretch to fit within ~1-2" of the measurements shown.


The Wanderer Sleeveless T 

0 - 2 (XS) 2 - 4 (S) 6 - 8 (M) 10 - 12 (L) 12 - 14 (XL) 14 - 16 (XXL)
Bust 27.5 - 29.5 " 30.5 - 32.5 " 33.5 - 35.5 " 36.5 - 38.5" 39.5 - 41.5 "
42.5 - 44.5"
Waist 23-24" 25-26" 28-29" 30-31" 32-34"
Hips 30-32" 33-35" 36-38" 39-41" 42-44"
Length 28" 28" 28" 28" 28"

Fit Advice: The Wanderer Sleeveless T fits true to size. If you want a more relaxed fit, size up. The length can be hemmed by a tailor. As the fabric has a natural stretch, it will stretch to fit within ~1-2" of the measurements shown around the chest and hips. 


The Reversibe Bandeau Bra  

(XS/S) (M/L)
Bust 30 - 33" 34 - 37"

Fit Advice: The Reversible Bandeau Bra fits true to size and the wide elastic band provides light to medium support. To ensure proper fit, measure your bust and check our size guide.