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Capsule Wardrobe 101

Capsule Wardrobe 101

I've received questions about Capsule Wardrobes. I'm so glad you guys have asked! This is a topic that intrigues me very much. I've read a couple of really good posts by fellow bloggers about capsule wardrobes too. Check out this one on The Everygirl for some more good info, and this one on Unfancy...which even provides you with a capsule outfit planner!!

 I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe!! I was thinking about it, and every time I travel, my packing ritual is like creating a mini capsule wardrobe without even realizing it. I think the same principles for travel packing could be applied to creating an everyday capsule. So in this post, I'll explain some steps you can use to create a 3-month capsule wardrobe for any season, and also go through a capsule experiment myself to give you guys ideas for how to make different combinations with your selections!

creating your capsule:

1. Start with deciding on the numbers.

A capsule could be anywhere from 25-40 items. For this example, let's say we're going to have a 35 piece capsule for September-November. Of those 35 items, about half of them should be your starter pieces. What are "starter pieces"? Starter pieces are the foundation pieces. For me, these are like my go-to's. These are your current, most versatile items that go with everything. Now, how to narrow those down and select the rest...

2. Determine the division.

This is like the structure break-down of your capsule. How many pants, skirts, shoes, tops, etc. Note: accessories are not included in the 35 items, you can wear your accessories freely. Here are some things to take into account when figuring out your capsule division:

  • The season and climate for the 3 months -- Don't just consider daytime weather, make sure you think about morning, noon, and night.
  • Your day-to-day activities -- Think about your work wear, how often you go out, other social events, etc. The type of events and frequency of events is important to keep in mind. 
  • Your personal style -- Know yourself and what you feel best in.
  • Your practical comforts -- I get cold everywhere I go, so I have to make sure I have plenty of throw on button-downs or cardigans. I will need them. If you love the idea of wearing heels a lot, but never end up actually wearing them, don't include 6 pairs of heels. Be practical in what you will actually wear.

This is the division I would make for the 35 items:

  • (8) pairs of shoes -- (3) pairs of boots/booties, (3) pairs of casual/flats, (2) pairs of heels
  • (8) bottoms -- (4) pants, (1) shorts, (2) skirts, (1) legging option
  • (14) tops -- (3) button-downs, (4) sweaters/cardigans, (4) knits/tees, (2) vests, (1) jacket 
  • (5) items remaining -- This leaves with you 5 items left that you can use to throw in anything else you want..maybe a couple of dresses, another pair of shoes, or another jacket? 

3. Love it or Leave it. 

Once you've decided on the division of items, it's time to pick the items! The key is this, if you don't love it, don't try talking yourself into it! In order for it to be a good capsule selection, you have to love it because it's yours for the next 3 months. Take into account the fit, style, weight, and colors of items. 

I mentioned "starter pieces" earlier. A good rule of thumb is to go through your division and select at least one starter pick for every 2-3 pieces in each category. Remember, these are the foundation/go-to items that you know you'll have no problem pairing with other stuff. So for mine, this is how I would break it down.

  • Of the (8) shoes -- (4) would be starter picks
  • Of the (8) bottoms -- (4-5) would be starter picks
  • Of the (14) tops -- (7-9) would be starter picks
  • Of the (5) remaining -- at least (1) of mine would be a starter dress

3. Fill in the rest!

Now that you have a good foundation for your capsule, fill in the rest! A good idea is to carry on the love it or leave it philosophy. Do not pick stuff that you bought two years ago and have yet to wear. Your fill-in picks can be more adventurous, or more dressy/edgy/chic...whatever suits you! I think the most important thing is that everything you pick needs to be something that you always feel good in. 

With your "fill in" capsule selections, remember that a capsule wardrobe is best with a minimalist approach. For this I mean, don't pick a bunch of really distinct statement pieces. Maybe one or two, but the idea is for the items to be versatile so that you can wear them a lot of different ways. I'm not saying pick only basics or solids, I'm just saying it's probably not the best to pick the loudest most attention grabbing things that you own.. if that makes sense?

4. It's all relative.

So basically, it's all adjustable! This example is just what I would do if I was going to create a capsule for myself. Get to know yourself and your style by automatically eliminating things in your closet that you haven't worn in the past year. If you need 5 more items in your capsule, include them! If you realize a month into the capsule time that you picked an item that you don't really want. Change it out with something else.

Now for the fun part.

I apologize because this post has taken me a while to write. I wanted to make sure I was giving you guys good advice so I did quite a bit of research, wrote the piece, took my own advice, and selected some capsule pieces for myself. So! Here is snippet of what I chose. Not including the accessories, I have 8 items here. I kept my same pants and gingham button-down on and was still able to achieve three totally different looks. The pants and button-down were my "starter pieces", and then I built the 3 looks around them, also keeping in mind that each "fill-in" item I chose had to be able to be paired in another way. Unfortunately, I only have so much studio time, so I wasn't able to shoot all the different combinations, but hopefully you get the idea. Also, keep in mind that even just switching the shoes up on these looks will change the style of it too!  

(I will make separate posts for each of these looks so you can get the outfit details from those.)

Look 1: Fully Vested

Great for: Work, Weekends, Outdoor activities

Look 2: Business Sporty

Great for: Meetings, Street style, Being a girl boss


Look 3: Pretty in Purple

Great for: Date nights, Work, Being out and about


I think doing something like this would be a great way to get to know your style better! Especially if you are someone who feels like they have all these clothes but never wants to wear anything they have. It could teach you what you like and feel most comfortable in! And it's only for 3 months so it's not forever. I would LOVE to hear from those of you who try it!! Let me know if you have any questions on the steps or anything. Did I answer your capsule questions? Please give me any feedback you have!! 

Photos taken by Erika Aileen Photography.

Fall into Floral

Fall into Floral

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