How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe

A capsule wardrobe is a “complete” wardrobe that is made up of a small number of items that you mix and match to create several outfits. I say “complete” in quotations because I’ve seen several different versions of what to include in your capsule wardrobe. What you choose to include will determine whether your wardrobe is “complete” or not.

For example, I have seen people write that a true capsule wardrobe includes accessories like jewelry, sunglasses, and scarves. Others say that the list includes clothes and shoes only, but accessories, workout clothes, and nightclothes are theoretically unlimited.

One thing that has been relatively consistent is that the number of items in a capsule wardrobe is around 30.

The bottom line? Make up your own rules. The purpose is to downsize and create a more efficient closet.

So why am I doing this experiment? This goes back to what I started to profess during Vlogmas 2016 about investment dressing. I’ve spent most of my life grabbing an item or two here or there without concerning myself overmuch about the fit or style. If I decided I had need of it in that particular moment (and it didn’t break the bank), I would buy.

Can’t tell you how many of those items have been happily donated to the Goodwill now.

By limiting a season’s wardrobe to a set number of items, I’ve encouraged myself to be smarter about how I dress. Do all of the clothes in the wardrobe coordinate well enough to mix and match? Can I take these items from the office to an evening out with just a tweak? Do these items all fit me well?

You get the picture.

Cutout

For spring, I decided to start with what I have in my closet and supplement just a few items that I thought would work well with what I already had. The purpose is to wear nothing but these items (gym and PJs excluded!) for ninety days. Why ninety? Theoretically, a season should last three months. Although here in Ohio true spring weather only graces us with its presence for about six weeks. Knowing that, I’ve incorporated a couple of sweaters and layering pieces into my capsule.

Shoes

I opted to include shoes in my item list, but not accessories or outerwear. Given the temperamental weather here, I thought it too risky to only give myself spring jackets and then find myself with a snowstorm. (It is actually snowing outside as I write this.) As for jewelry, I find that the outfits become much more versatile when you have a variety of jewelry choices, so I left those off the list as well.

What surprised me first is just how MUCH thirty items of clothing actually is!

First, I sorted out which pants I felt I would wear the most often. Some I felt wouldn’t coordinate with spring colors, and others I just know don’t fit me as well and I’d be less likely to reach for them. (Again, making those discoveries is the point of this!)

Pants

Next, I sorted through shirts. It was important to me to have enough basics that can easily be reinvented with a jacket or a necklace, but I also wanted to include items that are on-trend for spring and summer. Some big ones to watch for are ruffles, off the shoulder tops, shades of pink (especially a blush hue), and stripes. Fresh takes on banker stripes are particularly hot.

Since I’d decided at the outset that I was limiting my purchasing for my first attempt at this, I only incorporated a few trendy items for now and hope to add more for my summer capsule. All told, I spent under $80 adding items to my capsule.

Here’s the final list of what I ended up with:

  1. Three cotton stretch camisoles: white, gray, black
  2. Three lace-trimmed camisoles: mint, navy, cream
  3. White linen T-shirt
  4. Off-white rayon T-shirt
  5. Red v-neck T-shirt
  6. Green turtleneck sweater
  7. Navy and cream striped long-sleeve tee
  8. Blush button-up blouse
  9. Banker stripe tunic
  10. Lace-topped olive green tank
  11. Cream cardigan
  12. Taupe stretch blazer
  13. Blush cropped blazer
  14. Denim jacket
  15. Black jacket featuring zipper hardware
  16. Stretch denim dark wash skinny jeans
  17. Light wash skinny jeans
  18. Gray American Eagle X4 Sateen stretch pants
  19. Destructed denim capris
  20. Black wash jeans
  21. Gold loafers by Halogen
  22. Black sparkly ballet flats by Sofft
  23. Comfortable beige Skechers loafers
  24. Nude patent leather heels

Counting out all of the camisoles as separate items, my total was 28. I like to think that leaves room for an emergency dress or two for unanticipated events.

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