My Capsule Wardrobe: Why, How, and What Rules I'm Breaking

WHY I'M DOING A CAPSULE WARDROBE:

I am not a minimalist by nature. I'm a "buy things because they're on clearance" kind of person with a full closet of things I rarely wear, the kind of person that buys more hangers to keep adding things when really I should just stop shopping so much. It's gotten a little out of hand lately, and even after some solid purges of my clothes in recent months, I still felt like it was time to really dial things back and make changes.

I've been working hard to implement healthy rhythms and habits in my life over the last year or so, and I've seen so many little things start to really make a big difference in how I live my life and how I feel day to day.

So, it felt like time to take those changes to my wardrobe. I loved the idea of simplifying one more step in the mornings-- with a set capsule wardrobe, I would only have a limited number of clothing options to choose from, and it would make getting dressed a lot less complicated.

I read up on capsule wardrobes and found lots of different ways of handling things, and I decided to just do what would work for me. I know I don't do well with super strict expectations or rules, so I knew I would need a little freedom here to make this work for me. (Read on to see what rules I'm breaking!)

I bought a set of 35 velvet hangers to signify which pieces in my closet were in my capsule, and put everything else out of the way.

I have to say, it's only been a few days of my trial run before the three month window of March to May for this capsule begins, but I've been really loving it.

Here's the whole rundown of how I created my first capsule wardrobe:


MY PROCESS:

Closet cleanup:

The first step is a true, total closet cleanup. (This also means drawers, storage boxes under your bed, that pile of stuff in your room, whatever!) This can actually be SO fun. I recommend a killer playlist, a great candle burning, an ample amount of time, and a positive attitude. You're about to get down to the nitty gritty! 

You've probably heard about the KonMari method from Marie Kondo, and while her book was a little too "woo-woo" for me, I love the idea of my belongings "sparking joy". I used that as my initial baseline for deciding what I'll keep or what I'll purge.

I also tried things on! You might think you love that shirt, but put it on. Still love it? Does it fit great? Does something about it bug you? If you aren't totally in love and feeling 100% about it, toss it. Ain't nobody got time for things that are just so-so or maybe okay or I might wear that someday for that one kind of thing I never go to but you don't know so I should keep it right? No. Bye.

This is time to be ruthless. You don't have to get your closet down to 5 things, and you don't have to throw away anything you don't want to (even if there isn't a great reason why you want to keep it), but let's get serious here, okay? There's surely a lot you can let go of, and I promise you'll feel lighter and better as a result. Okay, let's do this.


Purge: 

  • Anything that doesn't fit.
  • Anything that's torn, stained, has holes, is ruined, whatever.
  • Old t-shirts that don't hold value or meaning anymore.
  • Duplicates.
  • Things you just don't like anymore.
  • Things someone gave you that you felt obligated to keep but just will never wear or don't want.

Take to consignment store:

  • Name brands.
  • Things with the tags still on.
  • Good quality items.
  • In-season pieces.
  • Jeans, nice dresses, skirts, etc.

Donate:

  • Cheap items (like Target brand or Forever21).
  • More loved/used items (although they still should be in good condition!)
  • Simple basics (like t-shirts, tank tops, etc)

Make piles:

Once you've cleared out all the clutter, you should really like and love what you have left. Now, it's time to start planning for your capsule. I found it really helpful to make piles! Here's how I did it:

Sort your dresser drawers:

  • Socks to wear with booties/boots
  • Socks to wear for working out
  • Underwear
  • Bras for day
  • Bras for working out
  • Bralettes
  • Simple tank tops
  • Graphic tank tops
  • Graphic t-shirts for working out (like college tees, race tees, sports team shirts, etc)
  • Graphic t-shirts for regular life (these are cuter, like I'd wear them on the weekends, you know what I mean)
  • Basic t-shirts (often cotton, v-necks, scoop necks, solid colors or stripes, etc)
  • Workout bottoms (leggings, running shorts)
  • Workout tops (usually moisture-wicking fabric, tanks and tees)
  • Longsleeved shirts
  • Flannels
  • Sweaters
  • Sweatshirts
  • Jeans

Organize your closet by style and color:

(I'm a nerd who has her closet color coordinated and then by style already... but here's how I do it...)

  • Sort by color
  • Within the color, sort from "smallest" to "largest" items of clothing (think tanks, then short sleeve, then long sleeve, then sweaters from thinnest to thickest, then outer layers, etc)
  • Organize shoes however makes sense for your space. (My flats and sandals hang on a shoe rack on the back of my closet door, boots are in one basket on the floor, and sneakers/Converse are in another)
  • Organize scarves (I have mine hanging in a scarf organizer)

Create your capsule:

I found the Cladwell site to be really helpful as I got started -- you fill out what your normal activities are (like how many times you go to work and what you usually wear there, how many times you go out and what you'd wear, etc) and it recommends how many pieces of different kinds of clothing you need. Once I saw that to start, I went off on my own and tweaked a few things (taking my shoes out of my total number of pieces gave me more freedom too).

Really, though, creating your capsule is about what will work best for YOU.

It's helpful to start with a color scheme. Through Cladwell, I picked three main colors and two accent colors plus denim, which was really helpful in narrowing down what would stay in my capsule. (I went with black, white, and gray for my main colors, with deep red and military green as my accents. SO much in my closet was already one of those colors which made things easy!)

A few things I thought about:

  • Do I really love this piece of clothing enough to wear it repeatedly over the next three months?
  • Does it go with at least a handful of other things in my capsule?
  • Can I wear this in different ways?
  • Will this work in different types of weather?
  • Do these pieces work for both work, church, and other activities throughout the week?
  • Do these things fit in my color scheme?

MY MAIN CAPSULE:

I settled on 37 pieces for this March-May capsule. Here's the list of what I kept and where it's from:

Basic tshirts:

  • White and black striped tshirt (Target)
  • Black vneck (Madewell)
  • Light gray vneck (Madewell)
  • Black and white mini stripe linen vneck (Old Navy)
  • White with black stripes vneck dolman tee (Old Navy)
  • Green peplum tee (Urban Outfitters)

Sleeveless:

  • White muscle tank (Everlane)
  • Black w/ white leaves (New York and Company)

Blouses/longsleeves:

  • Gray 3/4 sleeve cotton shirt (Old Navy)
  • Gray blouse (boutique)
  • White and black boho patterned 3/4 (Lucky Brand)
  • White with black grid flannel (Old Navy)
  • Red patterned vneck 3/4 shirt (Lucky Brand)
  • Wine/pink floral boho blouse (Lucky Brand)
  • Black button up blouse with white grid (Target)

Warmer layers:

  • Long black sweater vest (Marshalls)
  • Gray open cardigan (Marshalls)
  • Gray crewneck sweatshirt (Everlane)
  • Black vneck light pullover sweater (Target)
  • Green boatneck sweater (Old Navy)
  • Thick black open cardigan (L.L. Bean)
  • Gray with black pattern kimono (Target)

Coats and jackets:

  • Cream Better Sweater Jacket (Patagonia)
  • Burgundy pleather jacket (Target)
  • Green army 3/4 jacket (from a friend)
  • Black long raincoat (Kohl's)
  • Thick green military coat (H&M)

Skirts:

  • Black skater skirt (Old Navy)
  • Black and white stripe pencil skirt (Target)
  • White with green chevron skirt (Old Navy)

Dresses:

  • Black and white stripe tshirt dress (Old Navy)
  • Black and white pattern flowy sleeveless dress (Old Navy)
  • Black ministripe tank flowy dress (boutique)

Jeans:

  • Medium blue skinny jeans (Jessica Simpson brand)
  • Black skinny jeans (Target)
  • Dark blue jeggings (Target)
  • Jean shorts (Old Navy)

BUT WHAT ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE...

This is where I'm breaking some rules. When it comes to accessories, shoes, undergarments, and workout clothes, I'm not setting strict rules (for now) although I did purge a TON here. I'm not shopping for any more of these things, but also not throwing away or hiding pairs of shoes or accessories from myself or anything.

In my mind, the goal here is simplicity, contentment, and intentionality. I'm already making big strides with limiting my clothing, and I want to be able to mix up those limited pieces with different accessories and shoes and such to still keep things interesting and varied. I tend to gravitate toward the same few pieces anyway, so it's not like I'm wearing twenty different necklaces or anything, but I'm not limiting it to a set number. We'll see how this changes in future months!


WHAT I STILL WANT TO WORK ON:

Like I said before, I've long been a sales-shopper and a fast-fashion supporter. I don't like that. I don't want to keep doing that. It surprised me how much of my capsule ended up being from Target, Old Navy, and the like, but those are where a lot of my basics have come from, so it's understandable those are what I pulled over to keep in this capsule situation.

I want to continue to shop more intentionally, purchasing clothing from brands that are ethically made, sustainable, fair trade, high quality, etc. What I don't want to do, though, is feel the need to replace all of my cheaper clothing with that stuff NOW. I want to love what I have, use what I've already purchased as much as possible, and choose contentment over consumerism.

A few brands I do already own well-made products from that I LOVE (even if they didn't make it into this capsule or are accessories that aren't listed):

  • Everlane (amazing basics and staple pieces -- I have about 5 or 6 tshirts from them, a sweatshirt, and a tunic and I love them ALL.) -- you can use my referral link here, and I'll love you forever. :)
  • Patagonia
  • L.L. Bean
  • Sevenly
  • Noonday
  • Giving Keys
  • FashionABLE
  • TOMS
  • 31bits

HELPFUL RESOURCES I LOVE:


PHEW. Okay, I think we're good here. 

Any questions?! Any advice?! Anything?!

Top