In the spring, I announced that I was trying a new experiment….The Capsule Wardrobe.
I have never been a capsule wardrobe person and LOVE shopping. In general those two things tend to be contradictory….at least that is what I thought. Both Jeremy and I worked retail before we met and we both love clothing and shoe shopping. In the last ten years, our bodies, style and budget have changed…but the fact remains…we love clothes 🙂
That being said, I have struggled recently with finding things that worked for my post-five-babies body and I want things that are basically the unicorn of items….flattering, affordable, stylish, comfortable, durable, and not just individually awesome but also worked as a go-to item in a wardrobe. I have heard a lot of great things about capsule wardrobes and how differently they can work, so I thought it would be fun to give it a try.
From my understanding a capsule wardrobe is generally a unit…not just buying individual items…but thinking about them in terms of how they work as part of the bigger “whole”. It can be a big capsule, a small capsule, it can change each season, each year, whatever. It isn’t a specific recipe as how many items as it is a theory that if you have a group of items that work together, it is more powerful as the matches work together. That being said, usually something ties them all together….in my case, I chose a color scheme…
And then I decided certain patterns based on that palette…
In the end, I bought quite a few items and used a few that I already had in my closet. Those items were….
Three button down shirts (perfect for nursing) and a blousy pink shirt that has the prettiest embroidery.
T-shirts are a must for a capsule wardrobe because of the versatility. I used mostly v-necks and a scoop neck and went with solid colors except for one striped tee. My favorites are from Madewell, Target and J.Crew.
I also included a bunch of other tops but in general, I realized that I didn’t wear two of them as much and the blue tank was a great fit at the beginning of spring but by the end of the season, I had dropped a few pounds and it didn’t fit as well as before. The navy and white shirt however was a favorite and it was very affordable.
Dresses were by far the hardest category for me to find as I kept on trying to make them work in other ways and it just is very hard with dresses. I ended up choosing very affordable options as I knew they would only be worn on Sundays for church or for special occasions and I didn’t want to spend a lot in this category.
Jeans were mostly from one place – Old Navy. It’s funny because they just seem to be the brand that I go back to because of the price. I guess you can’t teach this old dog new tricks.
Cardigans were a big favorite for me this spring and they worked so well in making the plainest outfits look just a smidge better. It was that layer that added personality and I saw how in the cooler months, the capsule wardrobe came alive.
And since I live in Georgia, Spring does include shorts. It is a must-buy since the heat and humidity will make jeans unbearable at times. I liked the fact that I did include some distressed casual ones and also some dressier options. That was a big help!
All that being said – I didn’t include any accessories or shoes in my capsule as I don’t have any trouble picking ones that I love and can switch those out easily. Also – and this is more random than knowing what breed of dog is Kylie’s favorite – but I want you all to know that I really would love to find a hat that fits my giant head. Like is there a brand out there that sells women’s hats in men’s sizes?! Inquiring minds (that are housed in watermelon sized skulls) want to know.
So what did I learn? The fact is – I learned a lot through the spring season of trying this out. I realized that in the past, I went into a store shopping for the ‘best deals’ and the ‘wow items’ and not necessarily for items that I need, would work well with others or thinking about my wardrobe as a whole.
It made me pause before purchasing
That was a really big perk of this experiment. If it was a good deal and even really flattering but a bright red, I didn’t buy it. That pause in the purchasing process was a good thing for my wallet. That meant I bought less number of items.
I thought more about pairings
I realized that in the past, I went into a store shopping for the ‘best deals’ and the ‘wow items’ and not necessarily for items that I need, would work well with others or thinking about my wardrobe as a whole. In this case, I always thought – will this new top work with my pants/shorts? Will it work under one of my cardigans? Is it flexible enough to go over a dress? The idea that it was nursing friendly wasn’t enough any more.
I was willing to spend more
In general I am a thrifty person….but I also have been known to buy a LOT of cheap items which adds up. In this situation I spent more on individual items (some people say that this is investing in clothes) but also I had to feel confident that that item was a “unicorn” item before I splurged.
I walked away easier
I think it was really helpful to have a more restrictive guideline for clothing purchases. It almost was like when faced with a very affordable pretty top, I needed a reason to say no. And the fact that it might have not checked off EVERY SINGLE ONE of my items or even if I already had something in the capsule that was VERY similar, it was like a perfect reason to walk away.
Having a color palette helped
Walking away from a great item that didn’t fit into my pre-determined color palette was actually a great feeling. I felt like I was able to recognize the worth of the item for what it was without actually owning it. Also it steered my shopping in a direction that saved me time. If I was shopping online, I was able to filter things down faster.
I saved time getting dressed
When items were all clean, I saved SO much time getting dressed. Having the limited choices (vs having an entire closet of items to sift through) made getting to that final decision THAT much faster. I also knew exactly what matched what and so grabbing the capsule shirt was way faster.
I did a lot more laundry
Funny thing with having more limited choices was that when something was dirty I laundered those items a lot more frequently. Sometimes it was because the dirty kids hands got all over me and I knew I needed those same jeans for later that week. Sometimes it was because I used to let things stack up before tackling loads. But either way, I realized that I was doing smaller loads more frequently of my clothing.
Speaking of laundry – sometime there were simply not items that fit my needs for that day that were clean. Maybe it was a t-shirt and all the t-shirts were dirty. I would cheat by grabbing a non-capsule tee and wearing it out. I know. Shame on me. But at the same time, I got addicted to making quick decisions when it came to clothing….so if something was already in my head, I went for it even if it wasn’t part of my capsule.
I loved most of the things I chose
One thing that really surprised me was how much I really loved the items in my capsule. I felt confident and put together and knew exactly what looked good together and in the end, it was a shock to see how this capsule was FULL of items that I would be happy to wear all the time. That being said – there were a few items that were a bust. The white shirt with the pretty tie back was something I wore once (because it required a specific bra that wasn’t always clean and I didn’t prefer the item under cardigans) and then the off-the-shoulder top was a little too long for shorts so I rarely picked that when it was hot outside. The denim dress also was a bit too big for me once I lost a little weight and so I returned that and they didn’t have a smaller size. That being said – most of the things worked out GREAT and I plan on keeping them in rotation for the rest of the year.
I don’t know if it was for me
So was the capsule experiment a win or a loss? I am not sure. There were definitely things I LOVED about it. Then the fact that I cheated was proof that I can’t say it was a perfect fit. I think in general I learned some really valuable lessons about myself (the ability to walk away was a big one!) and about clothing in general. Over the summer I found myself gravitating to those spring capsule items more than anything else in my wardrobe and I think that shows how much I really loved the pieces. In general, I can’t say that I will do a capsule again….but I do like the idea of putting just as much thought into the items individually as the whole.
So there you have it – everything I learned as a newbie to the capsule wardrobe. Have you tried it? Are you a believer? Do you do a strict capsule or a flexible one? Do you add to it as the season progresses? I have no regrets with trying it and I do think that I will try something similar again! I think I will just give myself a little more grace if I find something new along the way. I’d love to hear how you did it or do it or if you want to give it a whirl!