40 pieces of clothing. That is my four-season capsule wardrobe.
Not sure what a capsule wardrobe is? The term was originally used by Susie Faux, who defined it as a few essential clothing items that don’t go out of style and that can be augmented by seasonal pieces. She recommended that a woman’s capsule wardrobe consist of 2 pairs of trousers, a dress or a skirt, a jacket, a coat, a knit, two pairs of shoes and two bags. If you’re perusing the web for advice on capsule wardrobes, you’ll find everything from a 10 piece wardrobe (affiliate link) to Project 333. What it boils down to is this – the way I define a capsule wardrobe will be different than the way you do, and that’s OK. Do what makes sense for you. To me, it makes sense that a capsule wardrobe for someone who lives in New England (like me) might be a little larger than a capsule wardrobe for someone who lives in a more mild and predictable climate.
I first started thinking about a capsule wardrobe after losing over 50 pounds. I needed to buy a ton of new clothes, but with a baby I knew I wouldn’t have much time for shopping in the future, so I only wanted to buy the clothes once. As a working mom, I also knew that I wouldn’t have a lot of time for decision-making in the mornings, so everything needed to go with everything else. So, I developed a few rules and set out to curate my capsule wardrobe.
3 Best Practices for Curating Your Capsule Wardrobe
There are a few best practices that will help you curate your capsule wardrobe.
- Choose a color palette and stick to it
- Everything in your wardrobe should pair well with at least 3 other existing items of clothing
- Master the art of layering
My closet consists of 4 colors: black, navy, green, and grey/neutral.
I picked my pants first: one black, one dark green, and one khaki. Make sure to select a fabric that is seasonless.
Then I picked my skirts: one black above the knee, one black below the knee, one navy, and one crackle (a black and white pattern). All of my skirts can be worn year-round. In the winter I just need to pair them with opaque tights and knee-high boots.
Next, I selected my tops. With the exception of one animal print and one flannel print top, they are all solid colors that go with at least 3 of my bottoms. I started with sleeveless and short sleeve tops. Then the air conditioner kicked on in my office and I purchased some cardigans, sweaters, blazers, and long sleeve tops, all of which are solid colors and go with at least 3 tops/bottoms to layer with.
My dresses were selected throughout the process, but all of them meet the seasonless requirement so long as they are layered with tights and a cardigan or sweater.
In the middle of summer, I realized that I needed a couple of maxi dresses for those hot days when I just didn’t have time to shave. One of these dresses can be worn in the spring and summer, and the other can be worn spring, summer, and fall.
For casual Fridays and weekends, I have one pair of skinny jeans and one pair of bootcut jeans. I also have a ratty old pair covered in paint spackles that I wear on laundry day or if volunteering and one pair of shorts for those super hot summer weekends.
What’s in my capsule wardrobe?
|Short sleeve shirts||6|
|Long sleeve shirts||4|
|Sweaters / Blazers / Cardigans||8|
Select a few brands that tend to work well together so you can focus while you shop instead of spending hours shopping at every store or website. Most of my clothes come from MM.LaFleur, Banana Republic, J. Crew, or Nordstrom. With the exception of MM.LaFleur, which hardly ever has a sale, I tend to shop during sales. If using this tactic, be careful to only buy what you came for and nothing else – it’s easy to get carried away with feeling like you “got a good deal” by purchasing something on sale, but you’re not saving any money if you’re buying something that wasn’t on your list – no matter how cheap it is!
Once you have completed your capsule wardrobe, tell yourself that for every new item you purchase you must get rid of an item you already own. This will reduce your shopping and ensure that you only purchase items that spark joy (a la Marie Kondo).
When the holidays come around, politely let your friends and family know that you would prefer that they not gift you items of clothing. If they would still like to contribute to your wardrobe as part of the holiday season, ask for a gift card to one of the stores that is a staple in your wardrobe. That way when an item reaches the end of its life you will have some funds to purchase a new item from a brand that you know you love and that tends to carry items that will go with other pieces already in your wardrobe.
My closet has sliding doors and runs front to back, instead of left to right like a regular closet. This doesn’t make for one of those great capsule wardrobe photos where you can see the hangers sitting side by side, all spaced equidistant from one another. But, I figure I’ll throw them on here anyway for your enjoyment.
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This post was inspired by today’s daily prompt: Focused