Building My Winter Capsule Wardrobe

Happy 2016, y’all! I didn’t stay up to ring in the new year, I was at home in bed asleep. It was nice! ;)

I’ve been working on this post for a few days and this seems like a great time to post it, with people looking for new starts for the new year. Why not have a new start at your wardrobe?

I like to think I’m a pretty simple girl–I enjoy knitting, sewing, cross stitch, growing my own food, raising chickens for eggs and meat, canning and preserving food. But one thing I have always loved beyond that is fashion. I grew up reading the teen fashion magazines and then moved on to InStyle and fashion blogs as they popped up all over the internet. (Never got into Vogue though. I tried, but it was just not my taste at all.) I get compliments a lot from friends about the clothes I wear. Just the other night a friend told me that I always look so fashionable whenever she sees me, which I love to hear. :) This isn’t a fashion blog, but I do love to talk about fashion and so I wanted to talk a bit about how I handle my clothes and fashion.

Being a simple kind of person, I think I’m pretty simple about my fashion. I define my style and colors, and use a capsule wardrobe to keep it simple and easy. It wasn’t always this way. Like most people, I used to have tons of clothes and still looked at my closet complaining that I had nothing to wear. But a few years ago I ran across the concept of a capsule wardrobe and it changed my fashion life.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe a collection of clothing that all work together and that you love to wear. It’s not just random clothes you buy because you feel like going shopping, it’s a defined wardrobe that is interchangeable. It can be a set number of pieces, as in Courtney Carver’s Project 333. I don’t use a defined number of pieces, but I do still try to keep my collection as low as I possibly can.

How do you set up a capsule wardrobe?

My first suggestion is to use a site like Pinterest to collect looks that you love. This is my Winter inspiration board and as I look at it I see things that define the style I like: lace, layers, scarves, cardigans, skirts with tights and boots, stripes. I also see colors I’m drawn to, and so I used this to decide on a color palette for my winter wardrobe:

Colors: Plum, berry, mustard, mint, with a little soft pink thrown in.

Neutrals: Gray, brown, navy, white. Just a couple of black pieces, but I don’t wear a lot of black anyway.

When you have your style and colors settled, it’s time to start building your wardrobe. I used Polyvore to put together my wardrobe from pieces I already had and to help me see how many of each item I was using. These aren’t exactly the pieces I have, but they’re similar.

Sweaters:

Winter 15/16 Sweaters

From left to right, starting at the top: Brown sweater, berry sweater (thrifted), white cowl neck sweater (thrifted), gray sweater (thrifted), mustard sweater (thrifted), navy floral print cardigan, pink cardigan with black lace (thrifted), mustard cardigan, white lace cardigan (thrifted), mint cardigan (thrifted), camel argyle cardigan, camel argyle sweater (thrifted), plum sweater (hand knitted by me).

Tops:

Tops Winter 15/16

From left to right, starting at top row: mint blouse (thrifted), black and white polka dot blouse (thrifted), off white tee, gray graphic print shirt (thrifted), pink tee, pink lace blouse (thrifted), berry blouse with bird print (thrifted), navy and white striped tee (thrifted), black and white striped tee, white lace blouse (thrifted).

Skirts and dresses:

Skirts Dresses Winter 15/16

From left to right, starting at top row: Dark gray wool skirt (thrifted), pink skirt (thrifted), navy and white striped skirt (thrifted), gray skirt, pink plaid skirt (thrifted), brown and white floral skirt (thrifted), purple dress, navy and mint dress, black and white polka dot dress, gray sweater dress (thrifted), brown cat print dress, navy and white striped dress (thrifted), gray dress.

Pants and shoes:

Pants/Shoes Winter 15/16

From left to right, starting at top row: Brown knee boots, skinny jeans, brown pants (thrifted), gray pants (thrifted), black booties, brown loafers, plum flats (thrifted), gray sneakers, gray slouch boots.

Accessories:

Accessories Winter 15/16

From left to right, starting at top row: printed gray tights, dark gray leggings, gray cable knit tights, brown tights, plum tights, white cowl (hand knitted by me), white scarf, plum scarf, mint scarf.

Currently, my wardrobe is composed of:

  • 23 tops
  • 6 skirts
  • 7 dresses
  • 3 pants
  • 6 pairs of shoes
  • 5 tights/leggings
  • 4 scarves

My capsule is currently made up of 54 pieces. A higher number than most other blogs tell you to do, but this was as much as I could cut it down. Maybe after this winter I can determine what pieces I didn’t wear to cut it down some more. I didn’t include jewelry, socks, tank tops, or outerwear in this. I also don’t include sleep/lounge clothes or workout clothes. Also you can see, a lot of my pieces are thrifted. I love shopping Goodwill, but I don’t do it randomly. I go with an idea in mind of pieces that I’m looking for. This is my current wish list:

Wishlist Winter 15/16

From left to right, starting at top row: white shirt with polka dots, mint green printed skirt, plum pants, brown printed skirt, gingham shirt, and mustard skirt.

Having a capsule wardrobe makes getting dressed so much easier. I know that I have clothes that actually work together rather than a bunch of stuff I bought randomly just because I felt like shopping. I’m also spending a lot less on clothes. I buy things because I really love them and know they’ll work in my wardrobe.

You may be wondering if these are all the clothes that I own. No, definitely not! I have my warmer weather clothes too, but they’re in storage at the moment. In the spring, I’ll transition some pieces out and move to lighter clothes in my spring colors. I didn’t go out and buy new (to me) pieces just to create my winter wardrobe. Most of the items I already had and so I only purchased a few new things this year. As far as brands go, I can tell you that a lot of my clothes are from LOFT, Banana Republic, and JCrew, but most of them are also thrifted so I paid about $3-$4 per piece. The most expensive item on here would be my black booties, which I just bought in October for $65 from the shoe sale at the hospital where I work. They’re Clarks brand. I’ve found that I can no longer wear heels because they hurt my left foot and ankle too much, so I’ve gone all flats now. I’m using Clarks brand for the black booties and also the brown loafers and they feel SO good on my feet.

Having a capsule wardrobe has changed the way I shop.

Now when I’m considering buying pieces I ask myself two questions:

  1. Do I LOVE it?
  2. Does it work with my wardrobe?

If  the answer to either one of those is no or a hesitation, I don’t buy it. Simple as that. When building your capsule wardrobe, determine what styles you’re drawn to either through Pinterest, magazines, or fashion blogs. Then determine what colors you like best and create your color palette for the season. You don’t have to be stuck with the same colors all year. In the warmer months, I change from mustard to a light yellow and from plum to a light purple. I also change from pink to coral during the summer. You can use different color palettes for different seasons, so don’t feel that you’re stuck with one look all the time. Once you have your style and colors, create a list of the pieces you’d like to have in your capsule wardrobe and then go through the clothes you already own to find pieces that match your list. From there, you can fill in the holes by creating your wish list that you’ll take with you when shopping. Don’t rush and don’t buy something just because it kind of fits what you’re looking for. Take the time to really consider whether it works and whether you love it.

For a long time, people had small wardrobes with few pieces of clothing. Their clothes actually worked together and were interchangeable. They had defined pieces that suited their lives and their needs. They spent time making pieces they loved or else invested the money in pieces they loved. Our society now buys randomly and shops without thinking about what role the clothes we buy are filling in our wardrobe. Most people don’t have an actual wardrobe, they just have piles of clothes. Big piles–and yet still complain that they have nothing to wear. Creating a capsule wardrobe will save you time, money, and space, and it makes getting dressed each morning so much easier!

If you’re looking for a new start this new year, here are some other blog posts where you can read more about capsule wardrobes: