After posting my 31 Piece Fall Capsule Wardrobe last week, I got to thinking. While putting my autumn closet together it seemed to come as second nature, and the whole ordeal was done in a day. When I first started capsule dressing about two years ago though, this wasn't the case.
All of the books, blogs and websites I read made it seem soooo simple, but when I tried it myself it wasn't nearly that easy.
In fact, the process was a lot more complicated than I had expected, and definitely took some trial and error before I felt comfortable with my sartorial choices.
With those challenges I faced in mind, today's post is all about the steps I actually took to get where I am today.
Whether you're having a hard time narrowing in on what to include in your fall capsule, or are just overwhelmed by minimized dressing in general, I hope these tips will give you the direction you need to start doing more with less.
Before we jump into it though, I want to say that when I first started minimizing my wardrobe, I found that working with a very small seasonal selection was the focus I needed to springboard me into a smaller wardrobe year round, and better understand the items that worked for my lifestyle. That said, narrowing in on those pieces took some trial and error, so to save you the leg work I've also included a quick cheat sheet of the only 37 pieces I think you need for a well-rounded fall wardrobe.
I hope these tips will lead you closer to the wardrobe of your dreams and a lifetime of style without the stress, so you can finally spend less time worrying about what to wear and more time living.
How To Create A Capsule Wardrobe From Scratch
So, you want to create a capsule wardrobe. You've read all the books, perused all the blogs and have finally decided to give it a go. You wake up early and are feeling particularly motivated so you grab a cup of coffee and head to your closet with the intent of not leaving until your ideal wardrobe is hanging neatly before you.
Unfortunately, things don't go according to plan and about 20 minutes in you feel defeated and overwhelmed rather than cleansed and refreshed. Instead of a streamlined wardrobe that makes you feel effortless and chic, you have piles and piles of clothes and can no longer see your bed.
Now, instead of throwing in the towel (or the sweater in this case), and exiling yourself to a life of clutter and nothing to wear, I ask that you take a deep breath, and a step back and start over - but this time with my help.
Step 1: Set Realistic Expectations
When beginning a journey toward living with less the most important first step is to set realistic expectations for yourself. While it may be tempting to hope for your perfect wardrobe instantly, I encourage you to be patient, ignore most of what you've read and allow yourself to become overwhelmed.
Now, you're probably thinking that seems like the complete opposite of why you're downsizing in the first place, but hear me out. If you begin this process hoping for a painless journey that doesn't leave you at least a little confused and overwhelmed, then you're likely to go running back to your clutter at the first sign of trouble - I know I did. Instead, if you go into this knowing that the road will be bumpy at times, you won't want to surrender when things get tricky.
So, as you head down this path be prepared for some confusion and a little bit of stress, but know that it's completely manageable over time. As long as you stick with it and adapt this concept to your own lifestyle, you'll be living your most stylish life in no time.
Step 2: Divide Your Closet Into Sections & Try It All On
The second step in this process focuses on your closet clear-out. Rather than approach this task all at once, I encourage you to break it into sections (sweaters, jeans, pants etc) over a few days or even weeks if you need.
This way you'll be able to make real progress slowly rather than no progress quickly.
When you decide the time has come to tackle your closet, separate everything you own into categories and tackle them one by one - feel free to take breaks between categories and even space it out over a few days or weeks if you need.
When beginning a closet clear-out what works for me is to start with tops. So, whether I'm switching my closet over for a new season or am just doing an occasional purge, I will remove all of my tops from my closet first.
Next, I group like with like. All striped tops together, all button-downs together, all short sleeve tees together and all long sleeve tees together. Doing this allows me to see just how many striped tops, button downs etc. that I have so I can decide if I truly need all 5 striped tops or not.
Once I have these piles organized I start going through them with three things in mind. These three questions (outlined below) each lead into the next and help you edit your pieces quickly and efficiently.
Do I like this? This question should be the easiest to answer. Just as Marie Kondo recommends, if you hold up an item and it doesn't spark joy it's an easy toss and you can place it in either a "donate" pile (if it's still in good condition but not worth trying to sell) or a "sell" pile. If the item does spark joy you can move onto the next question.
Does this fit me? Now, you have to try that item on and honestly decide if it fits. If the answer is "no," and you have no plans of losing weight or don't want to save the piece for when you aren't pregnant, then you can place it in the "donate" or "sell" pile.
Now, before we move onto what you do if the item does fit you, I want to address what to do if you are in the process of losing weight. Unlike what you've probably heard, I would encourage you to NOT discard pieces just because they don't fit right now - especially if they're high quality items. If you've been hitting the gym regularly and eating a well-balanced diet, then I think it's completely silly to toss out all of your pieces that don't fit you now but may in a few months. Instead, I would encourage you to make a third pile of items that you hope to fit into in the near future. Once you're done sorting your whole closet, store these items neatly in a bag or container and revisit them once you've met you're goal.
The only caveat here is that you need to be honest with yourself and check back regularly on your progress. So, if you set a goal of fitting into these items by this time next year and they still don't fit when that time rolls around, it may be a good idea to donate or sell them and start fresh.
Is this seasonal or can I wear it year-round? Now, if you've answered "yes" to questions 1 and 2, you should have a pile of items that fit you well and you love to wear, but not all of them will work year-round. This is when you separate them into three categories - fall/winter, spring/summer and year-round. So, using the tee shirt scenario again, a simple white, short sleeve tee can be worn year-round whereas a navy, long sleeve tee is better suited for fall and winter so separate them.
Then, before you move onto the next category of clothing, place your year-round items back in your closet, store the out of season pieces for later, and place any to sell/donate items in a bag to handle at the end.
Now, move onto the next category of clothing and ask yourself the same questions until you have a closet full of year-round pieces, and piles of seasonal tops, pants, jeans, skirts, dresses etc. that you love.
Step 3: Finalize Your Capsule & Store The Excess
If you've made it this far you're totally rocking this downsizing thing and are so close to finally having the wardrobe of your dreams!
Now that you have a closet of classic, year-round pieces (a white button-down, white short sleeve tee, striped tee, black skirt etc) you can evaluate and finalize your seasonal pieces.
Using the tee shirt scenario again, you should go through all of your seasonal tees and decide which you tend to wear the most and are likely to continue to wear the most throughout the season - the winners get a spot in your capsule.
That said, don't panic that you're going to make the wrong choices here because you're not going to discard the items that don't make the final cut. Instead, you're going to fold and store them neatly in a bag or container in your closet. Which brings me to the fourth step.
Step 4: Reevaluate Your Choices
As you go through the season and are feeling out your new capsule I encourage you to constantly be evaluating and reevaluating your pieces. If something isn't working for you or you find yourself skipping over it entirely, you can always reach into your reserve and add old favorite back into your closet.
I recommend doing your first few capsules this way for a few reasons. The first being that when I first jumped into minimized dressing I went wild and discarded anything that didn't make the cut into my capsule. When I did this though, I found myself panicked a few weeks in when I discovered that my choices weren't quite perfect, and something I had discarded would have been better. At that point I ended up purchasing even more items to fill the gaps that I could have avoided in the first place.
With this in mind, I approached my second capsule by selecting some year-round pieces and seasonal items for my capsule and then storing the excess. This time around I only needed to reach into my overflow containers once or twice and did practically no unnecessary shopping.
By my third capsule I had found the magic formula for me. I finally understood the pieces that actually worked for me and my lifestyle, and didn't need to reach into my overflow at all. Plus, when I sorted through everything again for the following seasons I was able to permanently discard even more items without remorse.
By my fourth capsule I had not only narrowed in on a selection of basics that I could wear year-round, but had also come to truly understand the seasonal pieces I needed to make my wardrobe work for me in winter, spring, summer and fall.
I had effectively eliminated all excess closet clutter and getting dressed was easier than ever.
The moral of the story here is to give yourself time and take it easy to begin with. Feel free to tweak things as you see fit and remember that no one size fits all when it comes to minimized dressing - everyone's wardrobe will be different.
The important thing is that you have fun throughout this process and allow yourself to establish a condensed wardrobe that works for you and your lifestyle.
This journey should lead you to a method of dressing that you can adopt for life - not a fad you want to give up in a month.
As I mentioned at the beginning, one of the things that helped me understand which pieces worked for my lifestyle was to begin with a small selection of items. In case you're feeling a little stumped, I've saved you the leg work and put together a list of 37 pieces that I think make a great fall wardrobe.
Below, I've included a pinnable sheet that you can refer to easily, as well as a more detailed list that breaks out each item. I've indicated which pieces I consider to be year-round basics with an asterisk*. Just remember, these are the items that work for me so feel free to tweak them until you find a selection that works for you.
White long sleeve silk shirt*
White long sleeve cotton button down*
Navy long sleeve silk shirt
Long sleeve navy tee
Short sleeve white tee*
Plaid button down
Black short sleeve shirt - mine is silk this season but a plan tee works just as well.*
Black cashmere crewneck sweater
Ivory fisherman sweater
Ivory cashmere cardigan
Navy cableknit sweater
4 Bottoms/ 1 Dress
Dark wash denim in either straight cut or slim cut depending on your preference
Waterproof coat - I love Barbour
Plaid, tweed or herringbone blazer - the classic fabrics of fall
Chelsea or ankle boots
Classic day bag
Shawl or blanket scarf - especially great in plaid
That's everything! I hope this post has helped you navigate the world of minimized dressing better and if you aren't already living larger with less, I wish you the best of luck (and fun) during your journey. Also, I'd love to know you have any pointers for downsizing effectively so let me know in the comments below - I love getting inspiration!
Until next time,
It's finally fall capsule time! Over the past few weeks I have been working to nail down the pieces I plan to wear the most this season, and am so excited to share them with you today.
Like last time, my "capsule" consists of the core basics that I wear year-round along with some more seasonal pieces that I have added in. Also like last time my capsule does not include outerwear, shoes, accessories or jewelry but these pieces remain available to me throughout the year. When combined with my capsule, these items bring my entire closet to about 100 pieces.
Also, as I shared with my summer capsule, this approach to dressing allows me to keep a smaller wardrobe over all, while still having a streamlined selection of pieces on display for me every day. This ultimately gives me the freedom of versatility without the feeling of being overwhelmed.
Below, I have outlined my 31 capsule pieces along with the rest of my wardrobe for you to hopefully get some inspiration for your own streamlined fall wardrobe. To help demonstrate just how versatile this approach to dressing can be, I will share various outfit combinations with you both here and on my YouTube channel throughout the season. Each time I share a look, I will be sure to outline the capsule pieces, outerwear (if any), jewelry, shoes and purses that I combined to make the look.
Additionally, I have added an asterisk next to the items not in my capsule that I anticipate I will reach for the most this season. That way, if you choose to adhere to a traditional capsule you can see what blazers, shoes and accessories I would recommend including.
Before I jump into the pieces I'll leave you with this. As you read through my list and watch my capsule video, keep in mind that for me, a seasonal capsule of about 30 pieces is the magic number that feels both manageable and versatile - but that may not be the case for you. If you choose to capsule dress in the traditional sense, or are just trying to edit your closet, I would encourage you to experiment here and there until you find a number and system that works for you.
Try not to adhere too strictly to one set number and feel free to make that 10, 15, 20, 50 or more pieces! Just keep in mind that the goal of streamlined, capsule dressing is to free yourself from the stress of getting dressed, not add to it so don't limit yourself too much and remember to have fun with it. After all, it's just clothes!
31 Piece Fall 2016 Capsule Wardrobe
White long sleeve cotton button down - Brooks Brothers
White long sleeve silk shirt - Everlane
Black short sleeve silk shirt - Everlane
Black long sleeve silk shirt - Everlane
Chambray shirt - J. Crew
White peplum shirt - Zara
Striped tee - J. Crew
Crewneck white tee - Everlane
Plaid button-down - Ralph Lauren
Navy long sleeve cotton tee - J. Crew
Black long sleeve cotton tee - J. Crew
Ivory cashmere crewneck - Nordstrom
Black cashmere crewneck - Everlane
Ivory cashmere cardigan - J. Crew
Black cashmere cardigan - J. Crew
Ivory fisherman sweater - L.L. Bean
American flag sweater - Ralph Lauren
Black & White sweater - Zara
Striped shirtdress - Ralph Lauren
Black dress - Amazon
Blue silk dress - Club Monaco
Black a-line skirt - LOFT
Printed silk skirt - Massimo Dutti
Green lace skirt - J. Crew
Equestrian print skirt - Vintage Ralph Lauren
Plaid midi kkirt - Vintage Ralph Lauren
Floral short skirt - Ann Taylor
Navy pants - Zara
Dark wash skinny jeans - LOFT
Medium wash jeans - Madewell
Boyfriend jeans - Levi's
The Rest Of My Closet:
- Outerwear - Blazers, Jackets, Vests etc. -
Black and white tweed vest*
Brown tweed vest*
Rust herringbone blazer*
Green herringbone blazer*
Grey herringbone blazer*
Pink gingham blazer
Short white tweed jacket with gold buttons
Short white tweed jacket with brown buttons
Short black tweed jacket*
Short black wool blazer*
Long blue and white tweed jacket
Long white tweed jacket
Black wool coat
- Seasonal Pieces & Extras (Nice dresses etc) -
Green and white striped oxford
Blue and white embroidered shirt
White peasant top
V-Neck white tee
White denim skirt
Pink midi skirt
Black midi skirt
Blue and white tweed skirt
Blue ruffle shirt
Plaid ruffle shirt
Cream cashmere turtleneck sweater
Plaid short skirt
Floral midi skirt
Grey moto jeans
White chino shorts
Navy chino shorts
White denim shorts
- Accessories (Scarves, Hats, Jewelry, Purses) -
An assortment of silk scarves (about 10)*
An assortment of large scarves and shawls (about 10)*
Faux fur stole*
Black top handle purse*
Brown top handle purse*
Classic day clutch*
Black slouchy purse*
Black wool fedora*
Green wool fedora*
Black floppy hat*
Brown floppy hat
Camel floppy hat
Blue floppy hat
An assortment of statement necklaces (about 5)*
An assortment of long necklaces (about 4)*
An assortment of brooches (5-10)*
An assortment of statement bangles (about 5)*
A few pairs of statement earrings*
Simple everyday jewelry (pearl studs, diamond studs, gold bangle, three gold rings)*
Black and brown reversible belt with 3 interchangeable buckles*
Classic brown belt*
2 vintage Dooney & Bourke belts*
- Shoes -
Black lace-up flats*
Black flats with gold hardware*
White Jack Rogers
Brown chelsea boots*
Black chelsea boots*
Brown riding boots*
Brown heeled boots*
Black heeled loafers*
Burgundy heeled loafers*
Brown heeled booties*
Brown peep toe heels
Black loafer mules*
Black and yellow Stubbs