Have you heard about the capsule wardrobe?
When I first learned about the capsule wardrobe from a friend, I was skeptical to say the least. It didn’t seem possible to use only 30- 40 pieces of clothing to create enough outfits for an entire season, but after doing my research and checking out blogs like Un-fancy, I realized that I basically already had a capsule wardrobe. Sure, I had both a closet and a dresser full of clothes, but I always reached for the same pieces, because they were comfortable and made me feel good. So, about a year ago, I decided to try out a real capsule wardrobe by following these simple steps:
1. Find your uniform
Your “uniform” is your everyday outfit that makes you feel good and fits your lifestyle. A working mom’s uniform probably looks different than a SAHM’s uniform, which probably looks different than a work-from-home mom’s uniform. I quickly realized that when I’m not wearing my yoga pants, I feel the most comfortable in jeans, a plain t, and converse sneakers. Boring, I know, but this allows me to run around after my toddler and still look somewhat put-together. This doesn’t mean that I tossed all of my dresses and heels, but it did help me focus on what I should get rid of and which items would be useful additions to my capsule wardrobe.
2. Edit your wardrobe as needed
There have been times when I realize that I left something important out of my capsule wardrobe or that something I included just isn’t working. If this happens, I just make the necessary adjustments. I may end up adding a cardigan for those cool Denver summer nights or taking out a dress that’s a bit too fancy. It’s okay if you don’t have exactly 40 pieces. Do what works for you and learn from the process for next season’s capsule.
3. Clean out your closet
Try on every single piece of clothing you own and put it in one of the following three piles: keep it, donate it, sell it. If you love it and it fits your lifestyle, keep it. If you don’t love it, and you don’t think you can get any money for it, donate it. If you don’t love it, but it’s a nice piece that you spent a pretty penny on, try selling it. This takes away some of the sting of getting rid of expensive items that you know you’ll never wear.
4. Choose the current season’s pieces
Now it’s time to pick your 30- 40 pieces to create outfits that will work for the current season. This is tricky if you live in Colorado because we often have 60 degree days in between 25 degree days, so for me, it’s all about layers. Some people count their shoes and accessories as part of their 40 pieces, but if you’re new to this, I suggest choosing those separately and not including them in your first capsule wardrobe. This will give you more flexibility and will make the process less daunting. I also recommend choosing mostly neutral, timeless pieces in order to get the most wear out of your wardrobe. For example, I include my dark wash Gap denim jacket that I’ve had since high school in every season’s wardrobe because it’s a classic piece that works with almost any outfit.
5. Set up your closet
Most capsule wardrobers will box up and put away the clothes that they aren’t using for the current season, but I like to just separate my 40 pieces from the rest of my clothes because we don’t have a lot of extra storage space, and those May snowstorms mean I may need to pull out a few winter pieces in the springtime, or vice versa. I also like to organize my wardrobe in a way that allows me to choose outfits quickly and easily. I put all of my tops on one side and all of my bottoms on the other, and I organize them both by color.
6. Go shopping for what’s missing
Once you’ve chosen your 40 pieces, decide what’s missing. You may realize that you need a white T-shirt for layering or a black dress that you can dress up or down. This is also a good time to think about what will be happening this season. For example, if you’re creating your winter capsule wardrobe, you will most likely need something festive to wear to holiday events. And then comes the fun part: set a budget and go shopping! One of the things I like most about the capsule wardrobe is that it encourages you to choose quality over quantity. If you’re wearing the same 40 items for three months, you’re going to want to make sure they’re high-quality items that will last you the whole season. I’ve found that this is especially important when it comes to shoes and jeans. However, if you want to try out some new trends, but aren’t sure if they’re going to last (remember gaucho pants??), it’s probably a good idea to spend less money on these things. Some of my favorite places for basics are H&M, Nordstrom, and Gap.
7. Stop shopping
This is the step I still struggle with. Technically if you’re a capsule wardrobe purist, you’re not supposed to buy anything until it’s time to go shopping for next season. However, I love finding a good deal, and usually you find the best deals off season. So, if it’s spring and I find an awesome deal on a winter coat that I know I’ll need next winter, I don’t mind buying it. This system has helped me become more conscious of my spending habits, however, and I often find myself saying (to myself, not out loud), things like, “that’s not really a part of my uniform” or “I already have my 40 pieces for fall.”
Are you a capsule wardrobe enthusiast? Share your experience with us! What are your key pieces?