Capsule wardrobe: fall 2014

fall capsule wardrobe

This is not a style blog. I don’t keep up much with trends or fashion. So why share such a detailed post about my wardrobe?

What do leather booties and chambrays have to do with living intentionally, building a strong marriage, or anything else I regularly write about here?

More than you’d think.

**If you just want to see the pictures of my capsule, scroll down. All photography by @jensane.

When I read about the concept of a capsule wardrobe on the un-fancy website, I knew immediately that I would do it. The capsule wardrobe is about feeling good in what you wear, and it aligns perfectly with how I’m trying to live my life: using my resources well, paring down the unnecessary things in life that weigh me down and distract me from the real priorities.

I know that making fewer choices makes me happy, and that planning spending is key to getting out of debt and being wise with money. The capsule wardrobe is a the perfect application of these principles in my closet, where I’d been left frustrated and discouraged in the past.

The capsule wardrobe takes many of the ideas I wrote about in my intention ebook and extends them to your closet!

Here’s what the un-fancy website says about the why behind a capsule wardrobe:

To me, a capsule wardrobe represents more time and energy for what really matters (less time spent deciding what to wear / less time spent shopping / less time doing laundry or caring for clothes) more money for our dreams + helping others (less money spent on clothes that never get worn) and more contentment and happiness.

Does that resonate with you like it did with me? I’m someone who works best within boundaries of my choosing. While feeling put together and comfortable in my clothes is important to me, I often feel overwhelmed by the clothes I have and even more overwhelmed when I shop for new things.

The capsule wardrobe wasn’t easy to compose, but it gave me the structure I needed. I love that I now have these versatile pieces that I can wear throughout the fall without getting bored, and that I’ll have the challenge (and blessing) of not spending any more money on clothes until the next season! Contentment has been a huge byproduct of our debt free journey, and the capsule is another place to continue learning that lesson.

tee shirts with planner1

What exactly is a capsule wardrobe?

From the website I used for my process: it’s a mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you totally LOVE to wear.

Un-fancy  breaks it into 37 pieces: tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear and shoes.

(It doesn’t include accessories, jewelry, workout gear, pajamas, underwear, socks.) She came to 37 by breaking it down into 9 pairs of shoes, 9 bottoms, and 15 tops, then the remaining 4 for 2 dresses and 2 jackets/coats.

Keep in mind that a capsule is just for a season, so summer sandals aren’t included in a fall wardrobe, for example.

The key differences between a capsule wardrobe and what most of us have already:

  • you carefully curate the capsule so that you LOVE everything in it
  • it’s versatile so you can make a bunch of outfits from a limited number of things
  • it’s budget friendly because once the capsule is built, you don’t shop until the next season

Step one: pare down

I live in an old apartment building with really small closets, so I was shocked at how many items I had when I counted. I immediately filled a ThredUp bag to the brim with items in good shape that I no longer like or wear. (Read more about ThredUP here.)

Bonus: if you send your stuff to ThredUp, they’ll pay you or give you credit for the items they accept. And it’s super convenient – they send you a postage-paid clean out bag and you simply fill it up and hand it to your mail carrier. Cleaning out my closet with ThredUp helped offset the cost of anything new I bought.

A few things ready to send to ThredUP
A few things ready to send to ThredUP

Step two: work through capsule wardrobe planner

I downloaded the wardrobe planner from Un-fancy and worked through it:

Lifestyle – half casual, one quarter business casual, and one quarter going out or to an event. (I took into account holidays. conferences and special events this fall.)

Words associated with my ideal style – classic, elegant, comfortable, polished, effortless, neutral, pops of color

Brands – J. Crew outlet, Nordstrom sale, Stitch Fix

Colorsmajor: navy and blues, maroon, denim, grey, black // minor: red, mustard, floral, camel // accents: pinks, greens

Go to pieces – skinny jeans, cozy sweaters, ankle boots, leather boots, cardigans, midi skirt, plaid button down, denim chambray, navy vest

Shopping list – Before I started shopping, I made a Pinterest board and spent a lot of time online deciding what types of items I wanted to buy. I bought more new things for this season than I have for any one season in several years. A decent number of my fall clothes were wearing out or several years old, so they didn’t make it past the purge.

We will also make our last DEBT payment this month, so there was a little extra in the budget for me to put towards clothes. My ThredUp payout, Stitch Fix credit, and shopping sales during two different months helped me offset some of my new clothing costs.

Keep in mind, the idea ISN’T to buy 37 new things for every capsule. Most of my items are things I already had and loved.

My shopping list: white Converse // camel blazer // striped flare dress // Halogen top // midi skirt // vest // Oxford booties // red leather flats // black skinnies // grey crochet top // polka dot Artist tee // plaid pullover // stripe skirt

Step three: assemble the capsule

Here’s where it gets fun! I’ll share these by category:

long sleeves1

long sleeves from left: artist tee (J. Crew outlet) // plaid pullover (Brickyard Buffalo flash sale) // floral sweatshirt (Target last year) // Harlowe plaid button up (Stitch Fix last year) // denim Chambray (Nordstrom Juniors sale) // Halogen shirt (Nordstrom sale) // blue polyester shirt (Nordstrom BP from two years ago) // green plaid (Nordstrom BP two years ago)

If you’ve never heard of Stitch Fix, I’ve blogged about them here and here.

tee shirts1

short sleeves clockwise from top left: White House Black Market top (consignment store two years ago) // Madewell tee (J. Crew outlet last year) // coral cuff striped shirt (Brickyard Buffalo flash sale) // cotton long sleeve tee (Nordstrom rack last year) // lace bottom henley (Nordstrom BP last year) // Lucky geometric tee (Nordstrom rack last year) // Cosette Crochet Detail Knit Shirt (most recent Stitch Fix) // red cap sleeve tee (Nordstrom BP from college)

necklaces: not included in 37 items, but both are from Stella and Dot.


outerwear from left: J. Crew cardigan (consignment store two years ago) // navy vest (J. Crew outlet) // Banana Republic elbow patch cardigan (consignment store two years ago) // camel blazer (Nordstrom juniors sale)

scarves: not included in 37 items, but both scarves are from J. Crew outlet – left is from last year, right is new.


dresses from left: tunic (Brickyard Buffalo flash sale last year) // capsleeve sheath dress (Stitch Fix last year) // striped flare dress (Brickyard Buffalo flash sale)

accessories from left: bracelet (J. Crew outlet last year), necklace (Stella and Dot), necklace (Nordstrom juniors sale), scarf (Target sale)


bottoms clockwise from left: grey midi skirt -similar (Nordstrom juniors sale) // black skinny jeans (latest Stitch Fix) // J. Brand skinny jeans (Anthropologie) // Citizens of Humanity boot cut jeans (consignment store two years ago) // striped cotton skirt (H&M)

feet with shoes1
clockwise from bottom left: classic white Converse (Nordstrom) // Oxford booties (Steve Madden) // houndstooth flats (Gap outlet last year) // grey suede strappy flats (Shoemint last year) // brown leather boots (Steve Madden last year) // red leather flats (Target) // lattice brown leather flats (Shoemint last year)

one more shoe shot for a different angle: 


I really enjoyed making my first capsule wardrobe! We started playing with outfit combinations, but this post is so long that I’m going to save those pictures for future posts. Series, anyone?

xo Jacey

22 thoughts on “Capsule wardrobe: fall 2014

  1. I would love to hear more about your thoughts on this once you’re a few weeks into it! I really like the concept of the capsule wardrobe, but in some cases it seems like all the outfits start to look the same after a while. So…I haven’t been able to bite the bullet yet, but it’s tempting!

    1. I will for sure give an update in a few weeks! (Maybe a month, since I’m doing the 31 days series in October.) But I’ll definitely do some outfit posts and share how it’s going that far into it.

  2. Regarding what you said about less choice having a positive effect, I remember reading an article about kids and toys and some studies that demonstrated that when kids had access to fewer toys they actually played with them more. In response to that, last year I put 80% of my kids’ toys in a bin in the basement and now we rotate through the toys that get to be out. My kids play more and I have less to clean up. Win win!

    When I look at my full closet right now I don’t get a sense of more choice, but instead more pressure and stress in choosing. I read your post this morning and went through my closet and dresser today and got rid of a box full of items I hadn’t worn in awhile but had been stubbornly holding onto. My closet already feels more relaxed. :)

    1. That sounds like a great approach to toys! (And it probably makes it much easier to clean up.) Great job cleaning out your closet- isn’t it the best feeling?!

  3. I hadn’t heard of this concept, so thank you for bringing it to my attention! It’s a really cool idea, and got me jazzed about going through my closet to find my core pieces. I think my favorite part is choosing a color palette for the season. It makes choosing clothes so much simpler if you can envision how you’re going to pull them all together. Thanks again for the post- I’m sure a lot of effort went into it!

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  5. I love that you had a clear shopping list. So often I go shopping without a specific item in mind, and I get stuff I don’t really LOVE. I think I might do this capsule wardrobe! Here in CA, we can do fall attire all winter, too. :)

  6. I’ve been reading up on capsule wardrobes and am finally taking the plunge. My fall/winter 2015 wardrobe is almost complete, and I’m so excited to love everything in my closet, spend less time planning outfits, wear clothes that fit (and get rid of the ones that don’t), and free up space in my old-house-tiny-closet. Thanks for sharing your selections!

    I’m super curious about ThredUp. My clothes are not designer brands and I usually donate castoffs for a tax deduction. Do you think ThredUp is a better option? How much do you usually receive? What percentage of your items do they accept / send back?

    1. ThredUp does take clothes that aren’t designer brands. I prefer it just because it is so convenient for me to get the bag, fill it, and put it out for the mail man. It probably isn’t the most you could get, though. They often only take about 20% of what I send. I think I got $20 in credit or so for my most recent (really full) bag. I choose it more for convenience, but you might do better with a local consignment store or by donating for the tax refund.

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