Capsule wardrobe: winter 2015

winter capsule wardrobeThis is not a style blog. I don’t keep up much with trends or even read style blogs. So why share such a detailed post about my wardrobe, again? (Click here to see my fall capsule 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.

I originally read about the concept of a capsule wardrobe on the un-fancy website last fall and immediately built my first one. 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 spending with a plan 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 my 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 winter 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.

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.

For the winter, I ended up with 34 pieces: 3 pants, one dress, 3 jackets, 19 tops, 2 cardigans, and 6 pairs of shoes. Most of these were carried over from my fall capsule, or from last winter.

Keep in mind that a capsule is just for a season, so summer sandals aren’t included in a winter 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 got rid of so many clothes when I built my fall capsule, but I  filled a ThredUp bag to the brim again 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.


Step two: work through capsule wardrobe planner

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

Lifestyle – three quarters casual, one quarter going out or to an event. (I took Christmas and holiday parties into account, as well as the colder weather.)

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: white, green // accents: royal blue, pink

Go to pieces – skinny jeans, cozy sweaters, ankle boots, leather boots, plaid button downs, denim chambray, navy vest, puffy jacket

Shopping list – For my fall capsule, I made a Pinterest board and spent a lot of time online deciding what types of items I wanted to buy. This time, I made another Pinterest board to use for planning and carried over many items from my fall capsule. (This capsule is technically for December-February, but I got a few things as Christmas gifts, and a few things on sale after Christmas, so I waited to finalize it until the end of December. Depending on the weather, this capsule will likely see me through most of March while I put together my spring capsule.)

My ThredUp credit, Stitch Fix credit, and sales helped offset some of my new clothing costs again.

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

My shopping list: grey cords // casual sneakers // cheetah flats // casual heart tee // chambray // plaid buffalo check shirt // maroon leather detail shirt

I acquired 10 new things, but several were Christmas gifts (the puffy jacket and two cardigans.) I am shopping with an eye toward quality now that I’m building capsules, so I’m trying to only buy things I’ll carry over into future capsules.

Step three: assemble the capsule

In this post, I’ll share all the pictures we took of the clothes by themselves. We didn’t get all 34 items for this post, but I’ll be sharing the rest in a future post where I’m wearing them!

Photo Jan 22, 1 17 21 PM

clockwise: Popbasic scarf, not counted in 34 items (referral link gives us both $15 credit) // plaid peacoat, purchased in 2008 // Oxford booties from fall capsule (Steve Madden)

Photo Jan 22, 1 04 32 PM

from left: necklace (Stella and Dot)// navy cardigan (Gap) // artist tee (J. Crew outlet) // cardigan (J. Crew) // Cosette Crochet Detail Knit Shirt (fall Stitch Fix) // Harlowe plaid button up (Stitch Fix, 2013) // navy vest (J. Crew outlet)

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

headphones on chambray

clockwise from top left: chambray (J. Crew outlet) // buffalo check button up (J. Crew outlet) // black criss cross sneakers (Steve Madden outlet) // houndstooth flats (Gap outlet, 2013)

headphones: happy plugs (Urban Outfitters)

Photo Jan 22, 1 22 55 PM

from left: blue polyester shirt (Nordstrom BP, 2013) // green plaid (Nordstrom BP, 2013) // color block striped tee (Gap outlet, 2013) // Halogen shirt (Nordstrom sale)

Photo Jan 22, 1 15 38 PM

clockwise from top left: classic white Converse (Nordstrom) // scarf (Nordstrom BP) // North Face coat (Nordstrom sale) // J. Brand skinny jeans (Anthropologie)

Photo Jan 22, 1 08 02 PM

from left: Popbasic tee (referral link gives us both $15 credit) // maroon tee (Nordstrom Rack, last year) // grey flecked tee (Mossimo, last year) // grey lace back tee (Love on a Hanger, several years old) // olive lace bottom tee (Nordstrom BP, 2013)

necklaces, from left: Beautiful and Beloved // Nordstrom BP // Banana Republic // J. Crew outlet

Photo Jan 22, 12 57 22 PM

 clockwise from top left: necklace (Beautiful and Beloved) // cable knit cream sweater (J. Crew, purchased from consignment store in 2012) // J. Brand skinny jeans (Anthropologie) // brown leather boots (Steve Madden, 2013)

After making a second capsule, I’m sold. I genuinely wear everything in my closet, and spend WAY less time deciding what to wear each morning.

What do you think of this idea? Have you tried it? What makes you want to try it or holds you back from trying it?

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6 thoughts on “Capsule wardrobe: winter 2015

  1. I’m sold on this idea. I found doing the wardrobe analysis on Unfancy valuable. In fact I would recommend it even if you had no intention of doing a capsule wardrobe! I found it helped me separate what I actually find comfortable and fits my lifestyle as opposed to clothes that are beautiful but serve no purpose in my wardrobe ( I’m looking at you high heels and delicate evening dresses). I am learning to admire some clothing as works of art not as something to take home!

    1. That’s a great point – the wardrobe planner is incredibly helpful. And yeah, I have hardly any high heels or evening dresses now. Don’t miss ’em!

  2. I’m so intrigued by this idea. I’ve been slimming down my wardrobe (and stuff in general) over the past couple of years and I am excited about the idea of taking on a new challenge. Thanks for all of this great how-to advice (and helpful links), and for sharing the bigger picture behind what motivates you to try this. Totally bookmarked this post:)

    1. I’m so glad you found it helpful, Stephanie! I’ve also heard that the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” is helpful for organization and decluttering in general.

  3. I read about these on your blog and built my own. Since we’re moving, I went ahead and did the rest of the capsules for the other three seasons. I also appreciate wearing something out knowing that I will get to replace it at the end of the season, but still striving to make it work for the remaining months. I will be writing an update soon.

    Thank you for sharing this!

  4. I’ve found building a capsule wardrobe to be absolutely liberating for all the reasons you mentioned. I recently got the book you mentioned, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Fantastic! I’ve only worked on clothing so far but I can’t wait to expand these concepts to the rest of my home!

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