How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe

How is your week going?

I, for one, am thankful for a number of things.

One, it actually seems like Spring may be on its way here in the Ocean State, FINALLY. Two, after weeks of apartment hunting, my boyfriend and I got the news that we’d been approved for an apartment close to where we currently live, except sunnier, brighter, newer and close to the beach. Three, I am almost done with the spring semester of my first year of graduate school at Salve Regina University- huzzah! And, I am excited that I’ve been collecting data in my computer brain and saving it away for later, to write this post for ya’ll.

Here’s what it’s like to be a “Serial Thrifter”: -I love shopping, period. I rarely, if ever, pay full price for any item I buy; most of it is clearance rack, Poshmark, or thrift store bought. -This leads to having lots of cool clothes, shoes and purses in my possession, which I then sell on Poshmark. -I weed out my closet, everyday. It helps me stay organized. I am constantly re-donating items, selling them, giving them away or repairing them. These types of habits, mainly started when I was growing up as a Catholic schoolgirl in NYC and had no idea how to dress, once we relocated and I started public school, have lead to a slight shopping addiction.

Thankfully, shopping is literally part of my job now, and, when you find barely worn J Brand jeans on the regular at your local Salvation Army, it becomes easier to part with items which aren’t perfect for your body type. As it’s a constant rotation of items into my Poshmark inventory’s closet, I found it much more relaxing to create a separate Capsule Wardrobe for myself, as I know I won’t wear inventory after it’s sourced, cleaned and put away. If you’re like me, and have at one time or another considered yourself a punk rock goddess, a Stevie Nicks look-a-like, or a high-powered PR exec in Jimmy Choos, it can be nice, also, to refine your fashion palate.

Now, onto the Capsule.

capsule_wardrobe

I have discovered that I like a Capsule Wardrobe for me as a Thrifter and Reseller, because it offers me a ‘uniform’ of sorts. It also encourages one of my backbone beliefs, which is to save more fashion from landfills, and ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’, to save our planet. Finally, it gives me an excuse to splurge on highly quality and sustainable items, that I otherwise might’ve overlooked, in favor of the short-term, cheaper solution (Zara, H&M, Forever21, looking at you!). (I have done this before; the cheaper solution is a cheap solution for a reason. Trust me.) Now, there are some wonderful resources on the interwebs on this very topic, so I will spare you the extended ‘how to’ version, and give you some of my best advice and tips.

1. Research Your Personal Style

There are a few ways to discover what your personal style is. For me, creating a Pinterest board labeled ‘Style’, looking up celebrities whose style I admired, then adding items I coveted to the board created a great landing page of the style I was hoping to create. (Note: I will do a post on my actual Capsules later [they’re still not complete], but, to give you an idea of some of my pins: navy & white boat stripes, black pointe pants, Frye Harness boots, cut-off jean shorts, a fresh white t-shirt, an LBD, peep-toe slides, and so on.)

This helped a lot when, later in the steps, I had to go through each and everything in my closet to decide what to keep or donate. If you have a hard time deciding what’s your personal style, jot some ideas down in a notebook about some friends, relatives or celebrities whose style you adore.

What do you like about his or her style? Is it French-inspired, effortless, minimalist, comfortable? Why do you want to replicate this style? Is it to feel comfortable, chic, or creative? Some people suggest having different capsule wardrobes per season; personally, I have found that living in frosty New England, it’s better for me to combine my Fall/Winter capsules, and my Spring/Summer capsules, into two larger capsules. Another popular tip on this point is to create a separate ‘Work’ capsule, in addendum to your seasonal capsules.

Again, this isn’t relevant or useful for me; I teach yoga, cater, resell and do marketing in a DV Agency part-time, so I would need about 4 different capsules, just for work! Unless you’re living in Hawaii, Southern Texas or California, let’s assume that you’re like me, and we’re creating two, larger capsules.

2. Make a List

This is my favorite step, in the ‘Capsule Wardrobe creation’ process. I started my Capsule Wardobe, after reading a suggestion by another blogger, by creating a running list of items I was frequently reaching for. When doing this yourself, ask: why do you like them? Is it the texture, material, or fit? What season would they fit into? Then, when starting your capsule, you take the clothing and shoe items you’re ALREADY constantly reaching for, and put them off to the ‘keep’ side. Next, you tackle the other items and…

3. Try on Everything!

Annnnd, this was my LEAST favorite part of creating a Capsule Wardrobe. Why, you ask? Because I already KNOW why I wasn’t wearing half of my things- they didn’t fit, or I struggled to find an occasional where a gorgeous silk, French Connection flapper dress could fit into my everyday life, or even ‘once-in-a-while’ life. This is where, even though it’s hard, uncomfortable, and you’d rather be binge-watching The Mindy Project on Hulu, you plant yourself in front of a full-length mirror, and try on every. piece. of. clothing. you. own. This includes shoes, but you can set aside lingerie, workout clothes, pajamas and work-specific items (aprons, scrubs) aside for now.

This makes it MUCH easier to instantly see where you’re lacking in your closet. Little black dress no longer fits? Toss it into the ‘Sell’ or ‘Donate’ pile. White linen pants a little too impractical for your day-to-day? Get rid of them! Ask yourself, over and over until you find an answer, why don’t I wear this? Maybe it’s because you had visions of yourself wearing Everlane silk shirts everyday, until you realized you didn’t want to foot the dry cleaning bill.

Whatever it is, come clean. You’ll be much better for it, and your Capsule Wardrobe will be, too! At the end of this step, you will have eliminated about 40-50% of your choices, into one of three piles: “Donate”, “Keep”, or “Sell”. (Optional: adding a fourth “Trash” pile for things which are, sadly, too stained or ruined to donate.)

4. Divide and Conquer

The final step in this piece is to tackle what’s left in your ‘Keep’ pile. A good starting place is roughly 30-60 items per Capsule, 30-40 if you’re creating one per season and 40-60 otherwise, which includes shoes and clothes but excludes specialty work-wear (scrubs, aprons, etc), lingerie, pajamas and workout clothes.

Remember, this is not an excuse to own 33 pairs of leggings! Make sure you’re also weeding out underwear, bras, pajamas, and workout gear, afterwards. Go through your clothes. What do you like about each particular piece? If you’re seeing that you tossed 10 identical navy and white striped boat tees into the ‘Keep’ pile, choose one, and let the others go. You’ll see why, I promise. It makes it a lot easier to get dressed in the morning, when you have less options.

Now, divide the pieces left into one of two bins or areas: Spring/ Summer or Fall/Winter. It’s your personal preference how many of each item to start with; I have more pants than skirts as I choose pants over and over again in my closet, but rarely wear skirts. If you’re a dress wearer, lean more heavily towards the dresses. Also, don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time, and you’re left with a large amount of items. Those weed themselves down over time, as you find yourself reaching for the same items again and again. For me, I have too many shoes; this is a continuing work in progress!

5. Shop

You didn’t expect me to say that, did you?!

Now, this isn’t an excuse to re-fill up the landfill that was your old closet with a bunch of new things. Rather, this is an excuse to be intentional about the image you’re creating for yourself, and the pieces that will call your closet home. For example, back to the LBD reference I made earlier. If your old LBD is too outdated or small, and this is a piece you’d wear often, should it fit well and be updated, then add it to your ‘Shop’ list. The goal is to notice the ‘holes’ in your Capsule Wardrobes, and fill them with sustainable, intentional choices.

What is sustainable clothing? Again, it varies, but it would be, to me, clothes that lessen the harm humans cause to the planet. This could mean you purchase vegan leather, buy used clothes from Ebay or Poshmark, notice whether or not your new items employ workers with an equal wage, or purchase items made with eco-friendly practices. (Note: I am not suggesting if you currently own some less-than-stellar in the sustainability front brands, you get rid of them.

Rather, set an intention-ability around your clothing and shoe choices for the future.) If you’re like me, it will be a few months as you transition into your capsule to note what works and what doesn’t. Just because you have an idea of yourself in white high-waisted pants as a viable work-wear option, doesn’t mean that they’ll work for you. Now, I constantly am weeding out my own capsule, again and again.

I don’t know if it’s totally right yet, and I will go through them again when we move, later this month. Some things which were hard to part with for me were high school t-shirts of mine and my boyfriend’s sports teams and my prom dress, even though I rarely, if ever wear either. For those, I realized that they would be heritage or heirloom items that I would love for my kids to have someday, as a sort of understanding of my life when I was young. If I change my mind and decide to get rid of them in the future, I can always do that. Stay tuned for an update on my Spring/Summer capsule, and share your favorite items for your own capsules are in the comments!

One thought on “How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe

  1. Rose says:

    Totally agree with your points here. Except number 3! I love trying on all my clothes (binge watching at the same time! πŸ˜‰ ) I find it really cleansing to get rid of items that no longer fit or I just don’t enjoy wearing. The other day I went to work in an outfit, all day thinking about how uncomfortable I was, when I went home it all went immediately into the charity pile! Looking forward to seeing your completed Capsule Wardrobe πŸ™‚ xx

    Like

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