Capsule Wardrobe | How Mine Works

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Yesterday I talked about the start of my capsule wardrobe project; today I plan to go into a little more detail on what “capsule wardrobe” means to me and the structure that I use. I’m still using Caroline’s model for the most part, but I’ve made a few tweaks to make it personal and practical for my life.

I build a capsule for each of the four seasons: winter (January-March), spring (April-June), summer (July-September), and fall (October-December). When I started working on my first one, I thought that I’d rearrange the structure, because in my mind, winter was more like December through February, spring March to May, and so on. But I’ve realized that, for the climate I live in (southeastern Pennsylvania), winter really isn’t over yet in March, and September is just as hot as July and August.

Side note: that schedule still isn’t perfect…for instance, on the first of April this year, I definitely wasn’t thinking about wearing shorts or sandals anytime soon — we had some 30-degree temps even in the last week of April! — but now, with a couple weeks left before I officially switch my wardrobe from spring to summer on July 1st, I’m certainly not wearing any of the sweaters that I was wearing all the time two months ago. So yes, the in-between seasons are a little trickier. I simply swapped some of my “spring” things out for “summer” things once the weather turned hot. My closet sometimes changes as the season progresses, but I try to keep the number of items in it the same.

The number 37 seems to be perfect for me. (But if you’re considering creating your own capsule wardrobe, feel free to choose a smaller or larger amount that feels right to you!) My 37 pieces include tops and bottoms as well as shoes and outerwear. That number does not include the things I wear to sleep or to work out or to go with my husband to work (he is a farrier, and working with horses is inevitably dirty and smelly). It also does not include underwear (camis, leggings) or accessories (hats, scarves, jewelry). I like to break the 37 down into categories when I’m working on forming my capsule for the next season, and this is the base model that I work off of.    {printable copy}UntitledAnother side note: I’m not a super strict budgeter…I might have 5 or 7 pairs of shoes in a given capsule, for example, but then I’ll shift the other numbers around in order to bring the total back to 37.

I’ve had a blast learning to think outside the box and put together outfits in creative ways in an effort to utilize those 12 bottoms and 15 tops (or whatever the numbers may be) in balanced measures and various combinations. In the process, I’ve begun to notice the colors, prints, and styles that I gravitate towards and that are the most versatile. (See a few such pieces in yesterday’s post.) These observations serve to help me make clothing purchases that are “worth their salt.” It didn’t take Caleb long to notice that I was spending a lot less money on clothes, as a result. 🙂

The Un-fancy Capsule Wardrobe Planner, a free tool from Caroline Rector, helps me choose pieces for each season that will serve both my preferences and my lifestyle well. I use it as a guide for deciding which pieces fit my capsule and what to keep an eye open for as I shop.

Speaking of shopping, I don’t limit myself to the two weeks before a new season begins. I don’t enjoy shopping very much, and I especially dislike it when I’m under pressure to find something specific. So, it works much better for me to watch for things I want over a period of time, and buy it when I find it.

For the curious ones, you can sneak peeks at my Winter and Spring capsules on Pinterest. (And while you’re over there, by the way, check out my The Realization of Good board for easy access to my posts which you can repin for future reference or share with friends!)

In a future post, I’ll talk about the app I use in conjunction with my Capsule Wardrobe and the part it’s played in helping me figure out my style and make the most of my budget.

Have questions? Ask away!

Capsule Wardrobe | Getting Started + 3 Favorite Spring Pieces

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So, have you heard about the “capsule wardrobe thing” yet? I’ve been seeing lots of buzz about it on blogs and social media, and I bet you know someone who’s dappled in this growing trend.

If you’re wondering what it’s about, basically it’s a seasonal, minimalist collection of clothing pieces — so that instead of being greeted by a closet overflowing with things you wear only about 23% of, your getting-dressed-in-the-morning can be quick, fun, and easy. Also, excess isn’t cool! The clean, empty space left after saying goodbye to things I don’t need is one of my Very Favorite Things.

My sister-in-law Rosina, who is always turning me onto the Coolest Things On The Internet, sent me a link to Caroline Rector’s fabulous blog, Un-fancy, last October or thereabouts. At first, my impression was that this 37-pieces idea was a little extreme, only slightly appealing, and definitely “not for me.” But, the more I read, and the more I thought about it for a few days afterwards, the more intrigued I was and inspired to give it a try.

On a whim, I tackled my closet. (The first step is paring down!) I pulled everything off hangers that I didn’t love, whether due to color, fit, style, comfort, or practicality. This might not be the fun part for everyone, but I had a blast. (See above, about my love for creating empty spaces.) What made it even more fun, then, was that over the next few months, I hauled multiple boxes and bins off to the consignment shop, and was rewarded for my efforts, over time, by a couple hundred dollars!

I’m nearing the end of my third season now, so once I’ve got my summer wardrobe finalized, I’ll have completed an entire year of planning! I’ve learned so, so much about my personal style, fashion in general, and making the most of my clothing budget. I’ll talk more about all of this in future posts, and I’m also pretty excited to share my summer wardrobe in a couple weeks, but for now I’m going to try to whet your appetite for this closetal phenomenon 😉 by sharing three of my most versatile, oft-worn spring pieces.

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{left} The Corner Office Dress from Downeast Basics (no longer available – similar here)   >> This striped little number is probably the top most versatile item in my entire closet. Not only is it super cute by itself, but it works great for layering. I’ve even worn this quite a few times with a shirt over top, and it totally passes for a skirt! There’s no color or pattern that clashes with it, and it can be dressed up or down in no time flat. Also, it wears really well…I’ve washed it dozens of times and it still looks brand new. That alone gets huge bonus points with me!

{center} Hi-Lo Patterned Top from Old Navy   >> This top is surprisingly versatile as well. It’s a busy pattern, but there are a lot of different colors in it, so most nail colors, etc. totally work with it. And it looks great with a pencil skirt (or the dress I just talked about!), dark or light skinny jeans, a maxi skirt, AND shorts. Its flowy shape is both comfortable and forgiving, and the lightweight cotton is the most comfortable fabric for summer’s heat.

{right} Mossimo Supply Co. Lakitia Sandal from Target (no longer available – similar here)   >> Ahh, these sandals. I have lived in them pretty much every warm day since I bought them last summer. I have one other pair of sandals — with chunky heels — in my capsule but these are all I need. They literally go with every single possible outfit combination in my closet, and they’re dressy enough for everything yet not too dressy for anything.

Needless to say, all three will be staying in my capsule for summer.

What do you think of the capsule trend? (Definitely check out Caroline’s blog, if you haven’t already — I learned so much from her.) And whether your closet is “minimalist” or not, I’d love to hear about the winning pieces in it! What’s something you find yourself reaching for over and over again right now?

If you have questions about how I work the capsule wardrobe process, please ask away! I’ll either reply in the comments or address them in future posts.