Outfit version No. 1 of many. The possibilities are (almost) limitless.
When I first heard of the idea of the capsule wardrobe, approximately two years ago, my curiosity peaked. I know that there are many great reasons to create a capsule wardrobe – namely, to save money; to eliminate the need to decide what to wear in the morning; and of course, to practise better discernment of what items we enjoy wearing, what we need, and what we no longer need but to which we have been holding on. It’s a great method of redefining our style. After flirting with the idea for many months, I finally took a deep breath and spent some time choosing my favourite pieces for my autumn capsule wardrobe.
Here is my core office wardrobe for October-December:
– 1 pair of black leggings
– 2 pairs of boot-cut black trousers
– 1 black pencil skirt
– 1 tweed pencil skirt
– 4 ¾-length sweaters
– 1 green sparkly vest that I finished knitting two years ago
– 1 grey chunky vest that I finished knitting three years ago
– 1 white button-down shirt
– 1 white button-down tunic shirt
– 1 dark fabric tunic shirt
– 1 black knit tunic vest
– 5 short-sleeved cotton / knit sleeveless and short-sleeved t-shirts: blue; white/blue; pale green; navy knit top; navy cotton t-shirt with crochet detail
– 1 long blue, open-front cardigan
– 1 black bolero open-front cardigan
– 1 beige boyfriend cardigan
– 1 beige sparkly open-front cardigan
– 3 pairs of flat black shoes
– 1 pair black pumps
– 1 pair black wedge pumps
– 1 pair low-heeled black boots
– 1 waist-length brown leather jacket that I have had for the past seven years
– 1 knee-length brown leather coat that I purchased three years ago
Altogether, these 32 items will continue to comprise my work wardrobe until mid-December.
NOTE: I do love my black shoes and black and beige cardigans, for several reasons. I love to have fun with clothes, but I’m also practical. This is because I don’t enjoy shopping. When I do spend money, I pay for timeless, quality pieces that I can wear for many years to come. Black shoes pair easily with any outfit. It’s not as easy to match brown shoes to an outfit, and I end up wearing brown shoes very seldom; the rest of the time, they take up space in my closet. I also like cardigans because they are comfortable and allow me to easily change my outfit, depending on the t-shirt, blouse, belt, and/or scarf with which I choose to pair the cardigan. Notwithstanding my love of bright colours, I would not spend money on a pair of bright pink shoes. However, I get a kick out of pairing bright colours with neutrals. Oh, and I do own a pink leather belt that I love, but it was a gift from my mom.
Here are a few details to keep in mind:
I purchased several new items to renew my wardrobe for the season. My No. 1 golden rule when it comes to shopping while keeping my wardrobe under control is the ‘one in, one out’ rule. If and when I acquire a new piece of clothing (and this includes items gifted to me), I give away an equivalent older piece. This allows me to ensure that I never have too many clothes.
Items not included in the list but worn on a regular basis are yoga clothes (worn to the studio for teaching and practising), undergarments, socks, hosiery, sleepwear, and clothes worn at home. I also did not include in the list casual outfits that I wear on weekends. These are comprised of my two favourite pairs of jeans; casual sweaters and t-shirts; a cozy vest for layering over sweaters; and casual boots, of which I have two pairs – black rubber rain boots and brown calf boots.
Jewellery: In addition to my favourite Dharma Wanderlust jewellery, I have a collection of favourite sterling silver and amber that have been gifted to me by Mr. Wanderlust and / or his parents after trips to Poland. I enjoy pairing my outfits with favourite timeless pieces of jewellery and this does not change much from one season to the next.
Scarves: Over the past 10 years, I have acquired a collection of as many scarves and cowls. I have a bit of a mania for cowls and enjoy knitting them. In fact, I finished knitting a new one just two days ago! I recently put an end to scarf-collecting in an effort to eliminate decision fatigue. The scarves I have kept are my favourites and I enjoy wearing them to accessorize my work outfits, as well as to keep my neck and chest warm in the autumn breeze.
The cowl I made a two nights ago, fresh off the needles. It’s currently being blocked into its permanent shape.
Purses: I have several purses that I use seasonally. Generally, I use one larger purse for work and a small cross-body purse on weekends. I have two evening purses that I use on special occasions. My total purse count is seven. As usual, I do not plan to purchase a new purse until one of my current ones begins to look shabby.
Special pieces: As a knitter, I look forward to the opportunity autumn provides for wearing the sweaters, mittens, scarves, and hats that I have made for myself. I don’t count these items in my core wardrobe. Instead, I think of them as special occasion pieces that I wear to dress up an outfit from time to time, depending on the occasion.
The creation of a capsule wardrobe also encourages us to re-evaluate our style. In the process of evaluating my clothes and choosing the items I want to wear this season, I encountered several pieces that I haven’t worn in a year or longer. I started to think about my style, asking myself about the colours to which I’m drawn: neutrals; turquoise and blue; purple, and several red and burnt orange pieces that I like to wear on the darker winter days. I enjoy clean lines and clothes that fit well while allowing me to move and feel comfortable.
To build my capsule wardrobe, I did not start out with an ideal number of pieces that I kept in mind. Instead, I simply went through my closet and pulled out all the pieces that I felt that I want to wear this season – pieces that bring me joy and allow me to feel comfortable while experimenting with different creative combinations. In the fall, I have more versatility with clothing that I can wear in several combinations, especially if taking into account accessories such as scarves (note: a scarf or cowl can change an outfit drastically). I love to maximize. By working with key pieces and playing with accessories, I am able to wear a ‘new’ outfit every day of the month.
I used to think that a capsule wardrobe might feel limiting to me after some time, that I would want to have more variety from which to choose. On the contrary! Having a specific number of quality items to work with gives me the freedom to use what I have while planning creatively, combining several pieces together for a complete outfit. And of course, I save myself a lot of time in the morning by having a specific number of items from which to choose.
Some capsule wardrobe enthusiasts pack away the clothes that they don’t need during that season. However, I chose forego that step. My closet is fairly small, and although I could pack away my summer clothes, storing them in a plastic bin until next year, I don’t feel the need to empty out my closet. My strategy is to reshuffle my clothes, keeping the ones I wear this season in one spot while ignoring everything else. So far, this has been working well for me, but it might prove distracting for someone else. The other day, I noticed a favourite sweater and briefly thought about putting it on, but then reminded myself that I can include it in my January-March wardrobe.
Do you have a seasonal capsule wardrobe? What rules do you follow when planning your outfits for the next few months?