I’m very much a less is more kind of person. I don’t like “stuff” for the sake of stuff. If a thing isn’t useful, I don’t tend to let it linger for long in my house. I’m the same way about clothing. I’m quick to get rid of things that I’m not wearing because they just become annoying clutter to me. I have one dress that I have sentimental feelings about. And I may have accidentally donated that last fall. We’re not going to talk about that though. It was only the dress I wore to my son’s baptism. That I loved. With it’s tiny polka dots and red trim. Just forget about it though. That’s not the point.
What is the point?
A capsule wardrobe! Right. I’ve put together a few and there are very few things that are considered “organizational” AND have made an actual impact on my everyday happiness. Having just a few pieces of clothing that I actually really like, that actually really fit, that actually don’t need to be sewn in some way is quite liberating in the morning.
But, I work from home now. I have since May. And I am not one of those people that believes you should get up and get dressed like you are going to an office when in fact, I am just going to drop off my kids at school and then sit in my living room (office).
So my old Monday – Friday working woman capsule gear does not work for me anymore. I’m ready to put together a new capsule wardrobe for this new life which I think I have finally accepted isn’t going to poof into thin air suddenly and leave me updating my resume to go back to an office.
What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe, in my humble and unprofessional opinion, is a gathering of seasonal clothing that you can rely on to keep you clothed for that entire season.
Usually, all of the clothes in your capsule wardrobe go together in some way. Mix and match. But, the wardrobes I’ve put together in the past don’t always do that. And I’m fine with that as long as every piece pulls it’s weight in some way, it’s ok to have one shirt with a nutty pattern that really only goes with one or two of the bottoms in your capsule wardrobe. Your wardrobe should still have some personality.
If you search for capsule wardrobes on Pinterest, you may find a lot of black/gray/camel color pieces and if you are like me, you may be bored to tears by them.
You may love the simplicity of a fairly monochrome wardrobe. It certainly is classic.
Whatever your choice, YOUR capsule wardrobe should still look like YOU. If you love bright colors, you should still have some. If you love blue, well, don’t get all blue, but have some blue.
What is in a Capsule Wardrobe?
Well, clothes are in a capsule wardrobe. Some people also include shoes and accessories as a part of their capsule wardrobe. Capsule wardrobes are seasonal, so if it’s freezing winter where you are, your items should reflect that. When Spring/Summer rolls around, you can create a whole new capsule wardrobe based on the weather.
Traditionally, there is a set number of items in a capsule wardrobe. Caroline Recter, Capsule Wardrobe guru and owner of Un-fancy, likes to be at 37 pieces. Francine Jay wrote about her travel ready 10 piece capsule wardrobe for the Huffington Post.
I like to think that there is a middle ground between those two numbers. 37 pieces doesn’t feel minimal to me and 10 feels like I would be wearing the same thing every other day.
Whatever number of items you choose doesn’t matter as much as how well each of those items functions. You need to think about the way you spend your days in general AND you also have to think about how you spend your days specifically.
If you work from home like I do, then you’re probably going to need casual, comfortable wear. If you’re in an office daily, you’ll have to take into consideration the dress code and the fact that if you work 40 hours a week, the majority of your capsule wardrobe is going to need to be tailored around that dress code.
However, your everyday life isn’t actually your “EVERY day” life. When you’re planning the items for your capsule wardrobe, remember things like: Weddings! Baby Showers! Holidays! If you really want to commit to this capsule wardrobe, you’re going to want to plan in advance for events like those. One great dress might just take you through all of those events, and then some.
What’s very important to a capsule wardrobe, regardless of how you decide to fill it up, is that the items are QUALITY. If you pare down to 21 pieces, those 21 pieces are going to work HARD for you throughout the season. You’ll be wearing them weekly, probably more than once weekly. Keep that in mind as you are deciding where to shop, what pieces to add and how much to spend.
My go to spots for capsule wardrobe items are H&M (not super expensive, but their stuff somehow really LASTS for me) and Banana Republic Outlet (more expensive than H&M, but whenever I purge my closet, my stuff from Banana always makes the cut. It holds up great and it suits my style).
So, specifically, what do you need to make this wardrobe last you an entire season?
I like to start with bottoms. I know I’ll need at least two pairs of jeans, a skirt and then some type of leggings/lounge pants. If you work in an office, you might do one pair of jeans, a couple of pairs of dress pants, a skirt and some lounge pants. If I have room in whatever I choose for my allotted number items, I might throw in a wildcard bottom, like the camo skinny jeans I bought last year that seem to go with everything.
(BTW – The leggings/lounge pants are for lounging, not working out. I don’t include work out gear in my capsule wardrobe and you don’t have to either. However, I think Courtney of Be More With Less put it best: “If yoga pants spend more time running errands than namstae-ing at the yoga studio, they count as part of my 33”.)
They’ll need to be versatile. I mean jeans can’t help but be versatile, but that skirt, if you choose to include one, will need to take you to lots of different places. Brunch on Sunday, the park with the kids, errands at the mall. When you only have 4 or 5 bottoms to choose from, you are going to WEAR them. That skirt has to pull it’s weight. It can’t get relegated to the back of the closet for “fancy” days
Next I move on to tops. This is where I like to throw in some personality, if I can. There are a lot of capsule wardrobes that you’ll see include, one button down shirt, one white t shirt and a striped shirt. That can get a little blah.
I like to add pattern and color. I know it’s a little scary when you only have so many things to choose from every day, do you really want that crazy floral blouse to be one of them? I vote yes.
The good news is, you don’t have to. If you’d prefer to keep it simple, go for it. If you’re like me and want all the color and pattern, you just have to be a little creative. That crazy floral blouse will have to go with all of your bottoms in some way. Ok, maybe not your yoga pants, but you get the point.
So for tops, remember your season. I’m in the Northeast and with our normally cold and snowy winters coming, I’ll need to dress appropriately. Which means layers. So, for me, a t shirt, under a button down, under a sweater is not out of the question.
To be honest, that crazy floral blouse I mentioned above? Probably more of a Spring capsule wardrobe item. If I’m going blouse in the winter, it’s going to need to be some type of warm and cozy blouse. Do they even make those? For winter, my tops would be more like, a couple of solid long sleeve tees for layering, a couple of patterened shirts (whatever is cute and slightly more dressy than a tshirt) a great, versatile sweater and a great versatile sweatshirt. And one really great black blazer will help class up just about any outfit you choose to wear. Just don’t wear it with yoga pants.
I always like to have at least one dress in my capsule wardrobe. I like wearing dresses just for a regular day and then if I have to dress up a little to go somewhere, a dress is instant “dress up”. Just remember, when you’re working from a pared down capsule wardrobe, that dress is going to have to take you to different places.
Once you’ve got those basics sorted out, it’s down to accessories.
Shoes are going to be important. I do count them as part of the wardrobe, and so I like to keep them to the bare minimum amount. A pair of sneakers, a seasonal shoe, so in this case for winter, boots, a pump if necessary (it’s usually necessary) and one more wildcard, like for instance, a pair of to the knee boots that can go with a jeans or leggings or a skirt. The wildcard could also be a great pair of flats if your wardrobe needs a little more versatility in the heel height arena.
As for additional accessories, a great scarf can really help up the style and personality factor in your capsule wardrobe. Also, for winter, it’s another layer of coziness to help keep you warm!
It’s up to you to decide whether to include things like purses and jewelry in your capsule wardrobe. I don’t wear much jewelry (my little diamond studs and my wedding rings are it) and I tend to pick one purse and stick with it for the season.
How do you Choose your Capsule Wardrobe Color Palette
Before you go running off to buy 27 items for your new capsule wardrobe, take a moment to think about the color palette you want to start with. Remember these items all have to tie in together in some way and choosing a color palette is a great way to do that.
You want to start with some type of “go with everything” neutral. Black, navy, gray, camel… Your choice, HOWEVER, remember you need to have shoes that go with that neutral. I usually go with black because it’s easiest to go with most anything.
Next pick two more colors that work for YOU and your coloring and that work well TOGETHER. I like to use Coolors.co to generate color combinations that I know will work together.
That blue, mustard and warm pink are colors that I love and that will work well from fall through the winter and even into the early spring when it is still usually quite cold here.
What are the Benefits of a Capsule Wardrobe?
For me, the biggest benefit of a capsule wardrobe is how easy it is to work with. I have a closet of items that go together pretty easily, which means I don’t really have to think much about what I’m going to wear when I’m rolling out of bed to do the morning school routine.
I know that whatever I put on, I’m going to look somewhat pulled together and not like I actually just rolled out of bed. Which, actually, isn’t that important for the morning routine, BUT, my day usually goes, roll out of bed, put on clothes, etc, drop off schools, come home, start work. What all too often happens, is that Start Work piece takes the whole day. So, to already be dressed in cute and comfy outfit, is important. Or else I would totally be in PJ’s all day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Making anything simpler in your life, in my opinion is always a good thing.
Now I have to actually MAKE a capsule wardrobe for this new season of my life. I’d like to use as many pieces from current wardrobe as possible, but, in addition to having a totally different lifestyle (work at home as opposed to work in an office with office attire), I’ve also dropped 25 lbs since last Fall/Winter, so what still fits, might be a problem! There may be some shopping in my future.
That’s the plan for this week though. I’ll be back with what I come up with and I’ll pull together items to help you put together your own capsule wardrobe.
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