In the space of about five minutes, I went from Googling “What is a capsule wardrobe?” to becoming obsessed with the idea and realizing that it was the perfect thing for me to create with my own wardrobe. The Wikipedia entry for “capsule wardrobe” says the following:
Capsule wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called “Wardrobe” in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.
I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe. Having staple pieces that are timeless and can be mixed and matched with whatever suits the season? YES. I tend to stick to the same uniform for the most part anyway — jeans and a top — and a capsule wardrobe seems like the next natural step for me to take when it comes to streamlining my wardrobe. I don’t often buy clothes, and since donating basically all of the clothes I no longer wear/want/fit I’ve been cautious of adding new clothing to my wardrobe since I don’t want to accumulate things I ultimately won’t wear or won’t mesh with my personal style.
Two resources were really helpful for me when it came to figuring out what a capsule wardrobe is, and how to create one: Unfancy and Project 333. Unfancy in particular really drew me into the whole concept, partially because Caroline’s sense of style isn’t too far removed from my own personal style. I also really loved the worksheets she provided for capsule wardrobe creation and how she stressed that her approach isn’t a hard and fast rule. What’s important is for people to find what works for them, and work from there.
Here’s some of the concepts/guidelines I am modeling my capsule model approach on. I’ll talk more about my specific winter capsule in my next blog post, but keeping the below in mind really helped me when it came to pulling my winter capsule wardrobe together. I’ve also done a YouTube video on this subject, if you’re more of a video person. (Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel if you want to see more of my videos!)
Capsule wardrobes have 37 pieces of tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, and shoes.
I followed Caroline’s model of 37 pieces in a capsule wardrobe because it worked well for her; I figured it was as good place as any for a beginner capsule wardrobe-r to begin. I’m fine with going above or below this number in my capsules, but I am aiming to stay as close to 37 as possible. Not included in my 37 pieces are loungewear/pajamas, workout clothes, accessories (hats, gloves, scarves, purses, jewelry), bras, underwear, socks, swimsuits, bumming-around-the-house clothes, professional attire, formal attire, or inclement weather gear (rain jacket, snow boots, etc).
I wear professional and/or formal attire so rarely that I don’t see the need for me to include them in my capsules. If a situation arises where I have to pull items from outside my capsule wardrobe, so be it. My capsule wardrobe is intended to make my day to day life easier, not create headaches for figuring out how to excuse myself from a dress code my capsule wardrobe doesn’t adhere to. (It helps that aside from a suit, I pretty much have my professional and formal attire needs covered already, so I shouldn’t be in a last minute panic if I have to wear either.)
Plan your capsule wardrobe to sync up with the seasons — three months for each one.
I’m planning my capsules to span the following months/seasons. This may change slightly next year; this past November was freakishly warm in DC. I didn’t manage to pull my winter capsule in time for November 1 anyway, so I pushed my winter capsule back a month.
- Winter: December-March
- Spring: April-June
- Summer: July-August
- Fall: September-November
Because DC has a tendency to get randomly hot in the winter without warning (or cold in the summer, you get the picture), I’m not opposed to pulling out a cardigan for my summer capsule or a short sleeved shirt for my winter capsule if needed. I’m not building a capsule wardrobe to catch a cold or get heatstroke! But in general, this is the timeline I’m planning to stick to for my capsules.
Determine what clothes you love when creating your capsule wardrobe and work from there.
In the winter, I know I love to wear jeans, sweaters, and boots. That’s basically my winter uniform. I also only wear my heavier jackets/coats and basically never wear dresses. That’s why there are no dresses in my winter capsule but a ton of jeans, sweaters, and boots. Oh, and there’s also my peacoat and heavy winter coat. Figuring out what I love to wear during the season helped me ensure that the clothes in my capsule wardrobe are actually going to be worn. Then I made sure that the majority of my picks could mix and match fairly easily for maximum versatility.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your capsule wardrobe.
Obviously, neutrals are the key to a successful mix-and-match capsule wardrobe. But that doesn’t mean everything has to be brown/gray/black/white. Don’t be afraid to throw in some pops of color or prints! Since I pretty much live in jeans, I felt comfortable adding color to my capsule with my tops to brighten things up (a necessity in the bleakness of winter, in my opinion). And remember, if the idea of using one of your 37 pieces on an experimental item makes you really nervous, accessories aren’t included in the capsule wardrobe tally.
Only shop for clothes when you know exactly what item(s) your capsule wardrobe is missing.
I’m a sucker for those “one time only!” or “hurry before this offer runs out!” sales. (Black Friday/Cyber Monday used to be really stressful till I realized I could just delete/ignore all the emails. Ha!) Those used to get me to spend more money and buy more stuff every time. Now, I’m not allowing myself to buy clothes unless I’ve specifically identified what gaps I have in my next capsule. (Example: I need a pair of black jeans for the fall capsule, or a new cardigan to replace the one that has a hole in the sleeve for the spring capsule, etc.) Since I won’t plan my next capsule until the end of my current one, that means I’ll be wardrobe shopping only four times a year, tops. If I end up buying an item or two full price at that time, so be it. Quality > quantity and all that, right?
And that’s basically it! Thanks to tidying up my closet with KonMari a few weeks ago, I already had a pretty good sense of what clothes I’d want to reach for the most this winter. (Surprisingly, I found things I was able to part with when I was selecting items for my winter capsule. Guess I’m not done downsizing yet!) I’ve put my winter capsule wardrobe items in a designated drawer and section of my closet so I can differentiate them from my other clothes. I’m kinda excited by the thought of no clothes shopping for the duration of my winter capsule (less mindless browsing online and more money in my bank account, hopefully), and I’m really excited at how much love and wear every item in my capsule will get this season.
Stay tuned for my next blog post, where I share what items I picked to be in my winter capsule 🙂