Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Capsule Wardrobe - Putting it in Action!

The whole point of the capsule wardrobe is to love what you own, to own good stuff and to not buy just to buy.  This doesn’t mean that everything has to be ridiculously expensive, but because you’re being more discerning about what you buy, you can spend a little more.

I have a total of 47 items in my fall capsule.  You might be thinking, "Fifty items is a lot, Sarah" or "How hard can 50 items be? Other people do 37 and include their SHOES."

This is what 47 items looks like.

The way my closet is set up, it's hard to see everything at once, so I hung everything up (including the folded stuff) and put it together.  When you look at it like this, it's really not that much. At least not for someone that loves clothes. And shopping.

Or, for effect, these are all the clothes that are NOT in my capsule:

Kinda crazy, huh?
That right there is why I have a capsule.  I've already cleaned out a ton of clothes and, as you can see, I still have a ways to go.  The capsule really helps me see what I do and don't wear, which helps me pare down even further.

Fifty is my magical number. I'm sitting at 47 right now. I like to leave a little room to pick up a few things during the season. If I split it by work and play, I have 27 work items and 19 play items.  We dress down on Fridays, so I usually wear some of my casual or play items on those days as well.  You could also split it by categories:  27 tops, 17 bottoms and 3 dresses.  To get really specific I have:
  • 3 dresses
  • 4 jeans (dark trouser, dark skinny, light skinny, light straight)
  • 1 shorts
  • 1 capris
  • 2 skirts
  • 2 leggings
  • 7 dress pants
  • 3 cardigans (purple, black and gray)
  • 1 moto jacket
  • 4 sweaters
  • 19 tops (mostly 3/4-length and short sleeves with some sleeveless and long thrown in)
North Carolina has some funky weather, so I try to account for all the things that could happen between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. My sweaters are either 3/4-length sleeve or light weight. Most of my tops are light weight and can be layered. But those 47? That's what I have to wear for the next 3 months.

Where Do I Buy My Pieces?
I'm going to be honest, I don't even know how to shop like a real person anymore.  Online shopping and delivery services have pretty much changed how I shop for clothes.  The majority of my clothes come from four places: Stitch Fix, LulaRoe, Loft, and Fabletics.  Fabletics really doesn't count for this, though. I still buy clothes from a few other places as well, but these are my heavy hitters. Each one serves a different function.

StitchFix: I get my fun stuff from Stitch Fix. Stitch Fix is a styling service.  You fill out a long questionnaire about your style preferences, colors you love and hate, clothing needs (casual vs professional), and sizing.  Stylists then use this data to pick out 5 items to send to you.  There is a $20 styling fee that is applied to anything you purchase.  If you keep all 5 items, you get a 25% discount (I've only done that twice, it's pretty rare).  I've been doing Stitch Fix for about two years now. I do it every other month because their price points are a bit higher than I prefer (average cost of a shirt is $50), but it is so. much. fun. getting that box! If you want to try out Stitch Fix, you can use my referral link! Most of my tops and dresses come from Stitch Fix.

13 of my 50 items are from Stitch Fix.  2 dresses, 1 jacket, 2 cardigans, 7 tops and 1 pair of shorts, which I forgot to add to this photo!
LulaRoe: This is a new one for me.  I haven't been a leggings person, so I was hesitant to try them.  I'll be very honest and say that I thought of it mostly as stay-at-home-mom garb. Nothing wrong with stay-at-home-moms, but I am not one. I didn't see it working so well in a professional setting, but then my cousin Brittany started selling it and I've become hooked! The leggings are fun, but I think I'll mostly continue to buy dresses, skirts and kimonos from here. It's mostly casual, with some professional items.

Whoa pattern! 1 dress, 3 tops, 1 skirt and 2 leggings.
Loft: Once upon a time, my wardrobe was all Express.  Then my butt got larger than Express could contain and I had to find new pants. I hate buying pants people. HATE. IT. Smaller waist, big butt and thighs = pain in the butt (and heart and ego and wallet) to find pants. But then I found Loft. They are cut well, aren't too low and aren't mom-jeans high, and they are decently priced.  All my pants are from Loft. Work pants, fun pants, jeans. All the pants come from Loft. And camis and t-shirts. Pretty much Loft is where my basics come from. Old Navy, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor also fit into this category.

I was not kidding when I said most of my pants come from Loft! 6 pants, two cardis and a tee.  Not pictured: 1 million camisoles (not really a million, but still) and my shorts cause they were on me when I took the photo!
If you're keeping count (which you're not, but I am!) that's 30 pieces out of my 50 item wardrobe.  A little over 55% of my wardrobe comes from only 3 different places!  Once you start only buying pieces that you love, the same will probably happen to you.

How Do You Make This Work?!?
The key to a capsule wardrobe is to really love every single thing you have. I also think it's important to have a good mix of staple pieces that you can wear over and over again mixed in with some funky pieces.  Here are some of the things that I focused on when putting my fall capsule together:

Layering Necklaces - I have about three that I wear in heavy rotation. They add interest and can easily change a look without taking too much time to think about it.  These aren't added into my 50 items, but I'd be pretty lost without them.

These are my three favorite layered-look necklaces.
Chambray button-down - This is my classic piece. I bought one from Banana Republic last year.  It's one of my favorite shirts. You can roll the sleeves up, leave them down, wear it open or buttoned, with jeans or dress pants, and the list goes on. It's also lightweight making it perfect for layering.  And, bonus, it looks really cute with my new leggings!

Funky color pants - My funky piece! My husband hates my pants. Poor guy. Every season I buy some crazy colored pants. They make me really happy.  They also keep my closet from being boring. For summer I had bright yellow pants (see picture above). In the winter I had purple corduroys, which I'm bringing back for the fall!  You need something ridiculous in your closet - always.

Layering pieces - Layering pieces can be staples and funky.  I have both because a few good layering pieces are key to surviving the capsule. If left to my own devices, I would own 100 cardigans, most of them probably gray.  Do you know how many variations of gray there are? Tons! I actually love color, but I like to spend my money where I will get the most bang out of it and gray is just where it is at people. I have a cardigan problem, but I was good and only have three in my capsule - black, gray and dark purple. Once upon a time, I thought I also loved jackets, but I was just confused.  They're too restricting. The exception to this is jackets that feel like cardigans! I have one that has stretchy, cardigan-like arms with some faux leather on it as part of my capsule - that's my funky to my classic black and gray sweaters.

Color Coordination - This is pretty important for making a capsule work as well.  Most people like neutrals with some pops of color. I like my color with some pops of neutral. I mostly stick to a jewel tone palette - blues, purples, greens, which you can tell from my photos.  For some reason, I also have some light coral/light pink items in there as well. Don't ask.  The key is that everything mix and match.  I think a color palette comes pretty naturally.  I really wasn't even trying to match my colors, but as I thought about how I could make outfits with each piece, it started to fall into place.

I borrowed this graphic from  It's a really good graphic to show you what a jewel tone color palette looks like.  This is pretty much my capsule. 
The most important part of your capsule wardrobe is willingness to put some random crap together. This isn't something you buy, but rather something you gain when you take on the capsule.  At some point, even with 50 items, you're going to get really, really tired of what you have. And you're going to hate it all. Not that you hate it, but hate wearing it.  Normally by the middle of the third month of a season, I am done with it.  I want to buy all the new things! That's when I start playing around with what I currently have in my capsule and what I want to put in my next one.  This is a good time to start trying on everything you think want to keep in the next capsule and start playing around! I've come up with some pretty fun outfits that I would have never dreamed up when getting ready in the morning pre-coffee.

Experiment time
Let's play! In my last Fix, I asked for some fall transitional items.  I kept all 5 items and they are all going into my Fall capsule.  Other than the necklace (which I've worn on repeat), I haven't worn any of the items yet.  I challenged myself to make as many outfits as possible with my Napean Sea Rd top and to try and include as many other items from my fix as possible.  Here are the results:

Going clockwise from top right, I paid it with my black skinny pants and black kitten heels for work. I swapped the black pants for a LulaRoe skirt and added my black Pixley cardigan, also from my fix! I removed the cardigan for a separate look.  Then I paired it with my skinny jeans and leopard print flats for a Friday or more casual look. I have at least four fairly different outfits, but really many more as the top will go with most of my work pants.  You can also dress it down with flats or up with some heels. You can leave the top untucked and blousy or you can tuck it in for a more professional look. So many options!

So have you started thinking about your own closet yet? How you can do a capsule wardrobe? My next (and last) post for this series will be about how to start working yourself towards a capsule wardrobe.  It's hard and something I recommend easing into.  You'll find it almost becomes second nature!

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