Have you guys heard of a capsule wardrobe?
The short answer is that it's a small, limited wardrobe, chosen with a lot of thought and purpose, comprised of quality, versatile pieces that you really love. I've been hearing about it for some time, but only recently did the idea truly pique my interest.
My motivation for exploring the idea was rooted in several things, but it could be distilled into three general themes:
A struggle to create a curated closet that represents my style, or the style I'd like to have
A mild form of mental paralysis when deciding what to wear
A desire to make smarter purchases, which I hoped would translate into money spent on more meaningful, worthwhile things
But to be honest, it wasn't until stumbling upon this blog post, and some capsule wormhole-ing as a result, that I had the thought - I could seriously do this. Before, I'd thought it seemed nearly impossible, that I'd feel like I was repeating the same outfits all the time, and that I didn't really feel the need because I don't spend an exorbitant amount of money on clothing anyway.
However, I sort of realized after much research that my thinking regarding a capsule wardrobe was a bit backwards. Upon seeing other examples of capsules, I realized that outfit repetition isn't really an issue, thanks to a little thinking outside the box and a mix-up in accessories, makeup, and hair styles, and that those styles I most hoped to emulate weren't very complex ones, anyway. There was a kind of formula to those looks I loved most when scouring Pinterest and other sources, and what better way to work towards that consistency than with a small, refined wardrobe? I started to dream about wandering into my closet and liking everything that I saw in front of me, instead of dreading having to peruse a bursting-at-the-seams rack of clothing I no longer care about, whilst also thinking I have nothing to wear (haven't we all been there?!). And lastly, I realized that the main driver doesn't have to be to save money—it can simply be to spend smarter money on those items I would normally covet but buy several less ideal substitutes for instead.
Hence, my 36-piece spring (early summer?) capsule wardrobe was born, and is still alive and kickin' as we speak.
Since I was a newbie to this whole process, I let my capsule develop fairly organically without any stringencies to start—I wanted to work with what I already owned and knew I loved (I'll write in a later post about those things I discovered I wanted to purchase). So, this meant hanging out in my closet for a bit.
I pulled those items that I always felt good in and good about, regardless of what sort of event or in whose company. I pulled those items that I always seemed to reach for when everything else was failing me. I pulled those items that I was happy to still own, regardless of when I bought them; that I couldn't bear the thought of parting ways with (PS: this was very few things; I have a near-zero attachment to most material things in my life, especially clothing. I regularly joke—albeit in poor taste—that I want to set my entire closet on fire. Perhaps that should have been the first clue that I could benefit from a capsule wardrobe). And naturally, in the process, those items I pulled were absolutely a clear representation of my sort of ideal style, which is too often derailed and strayed from for one reason or another (trends, sales, etc).
Everything that remained (so much stuff!!!) were things I agreed to either get rid of right away or store in bins out of reach.
I then spent a good amount of time (over the course of a couple of weeks) perusing Pinterest and my favorite blogs, but with much more purpose and direction than I'd ever had before. Instead of pinning cool chicks with unbelievable style, I started looking at each picture with a more discerning eye. Was it the moody lighting, cool urban setting, and perfectly undone hair that drew me to a girl's look? Was it the way the clothes were falling, effortlessly, on her body? Or was it the actual clothing, and were they pieces I could picture in my closet and on myself? This was an incredible distinction to make, because it helped me sort through what before felt like extreme indecisiveness of personal style. Before, I'd see all sorts of looks and love them all—(I still do)—but now I know how to test if they translate into my own life and style.
It's important to note that some items I pulled were recent purchases, and some certainly had a flair of trendiness. I don't think there's anything wrong with this, considering my personal style that seemed to unearth itself, quite clearly, in this process. It felt unrealistic for me to rely on classics every season—I too much enjoy some new trends that enter the scene, and I like to indulge in some of them. I don't mind buying new pieces every now and then, but my capsule choices made me learn/realize that even those trendier purchases that I still love have something classic and effortless about them—i.e. a crop top or off-the-shoulder top in timeless white, or high waisted beachy trousers in classic stripes.
All in all, I learned that my style is best described as straight forward and classic but with interesting details (whether in cut, pattern, or shape) for a little more edge, and just enough opposition for balance (so that no one outfit is overly girly, overly preppy, overly classic, overly anything).
As you can see, I chose a variety of tops, bottoms, and dresses, and I decided to allow myself a few fun bonus pieces for my first ever capsule. (PS: I provided links in the starred pictures above for any pieces that are available for purchase currently). Personally, since much of my drive for doing this capsule was easier dressing in outfits I feel confident about, I decided there wasn't harm in allowing myself a few extra dresses/tops in patterns that I know I want to wear this spring/summer. They're not versatile enough to be part of my core capsule going forward, but the dresses make for super easy dressing, and the floral pieces are fun, Bohemian choices to switch things up. Going forward, if I decide to continue with seasonal capsules, I may not feel the need for such bonus pieces, but for now I'm going with it.
In many of the capsules that I studied prior to making my own, footwear was included. However, for the purposes of this initial experiment, I decided to treat footwear as an accessory or extra and not include it in my capsule. It is worth noting, though, that I still went through the same exercise of paring back my footwear collection based on my personal style inspiration, just like I'd done with my clothing. I decided to only keep about 10-12 total options available in my closet (this includes boots, sneakers, sandals, flats, heels, etc.) just to get a feel for having less choice. But instead of strictly following capsule guidelines for shoes, the limit in clothing has already forced me to be much more creative with the shoes options that are available to me, which was my goal anyway. So, although I may decide to count footwear in my capsule going forward, for now I'm using it as another way to keep my limited wardrobe interesting.
Using the above capsule, and considering my various shoes, bags, jewelry, sunglasses, scarves, and hats, I made a list of potential outfits. This sounds simple, but I really tried to think outside the box, which is key for living in a capsule that doesn't feel repetitive or boring. So, I tried to think of combinations I would have never worn before, or ones that I saw others pull off on Pinterest or on blogs: unique modes of layering, different makeup, hair styles, or accessories to dress a look up or down, etc. This process was incredibly helpful—I still find myself referencing the list of outfit ideas all the time. It's amazing what you can come up with, as well as, in my case, the timelessness of simplicity in dressing (a la French girls who wear a white-top-and-jeans uniform that simply never gets old).
I'm really excited to share various looks (including this one) from my capsule in the weeks ahead as spring turns into summer. I also plan to do some other related posts on my overall experience with my very first capsule wardrobe: pros, cons, struggles, etc. I appreciate all of your questions, comments, and feedback, as well, so please don't hold back!