Hello friends! Today, I am excited to report back on my first capsule wardrobe experience! If you’re unsure what I’m talking about, capsule wardrobe is a seasonal collection of essential clothing pieces. It’s basically a way of minimizing your closet down to things that match, actually fit and that you actually wear. It was my first experience fully committing to a season and I learned so much!
I started a little before the first of September and planned to wear the pieces I chose for a full season, or until the end of November. I could tell after just a few days that this would be a worthwhile and positive experience for me. The two big goals I started out with were A. to take a complete break from shopping for three months and B. to feel better about what I wore by having easy go-to outfits.
Today, I’m here to summarize my victories, challenges and what I learned for next season (yes, it was worthwhile enough to me that I plan on doing a winter capsule next!).
-For the most part, I did completely stop shopping for three months. This felt amazing!! I did buy a couple things (two dresses for my baby showers and two winter coats), but being able to recall all my purchases in this span of time is new to me and a big improvement. In the past, I would browse my favorite clothing stores many times a week, usually with a glass of wine and a TV show at night. It was a great way to unwind, but over time I felt I was collecting a lot of clothes I wasn’t wearing or only wearing a few times, and my closet was always too full. Ultimately, I wanted to teach myself to shop less and smarter.
Getting into the routine of not shopping was a process for me. There were countless times I clicked through a sale email or a link on a fashion blog only to realize I did not need whatever item I had just added to my cart. It took time for me to form a new habit, but in time I felt that I formed a new healthy habit. This was my biggest victory! I definitely saved money and (even more importantly) reduced the amount of waste in my closet.
-I found some go-to outfits and re-wore them a LOT. This was great and made my daily routine easier. I didn’t get sick of my mix and match pieces (tops, skirts, jeans) and for the most part I felt I had more than enough outfits even when traveling.
-I felt very comfortable dressing in a more simple style and more neutral color scheme most days. And for a few special occasions like when we threw a baby shower for friends, I reached into my vintage dress stash.
-While I was happy with my mix and match pieces, I did feel I had to repeat my dresses too much. I honestly probably wore that navy blue off shoulder dress 20 or 30 times, haha! And the same thing with the brown Free People dress … I wore it a ton. And although I really like both dresses, it did get a little boring at times.
Next season I will at least double my dresses because I realize now that I wear them a LOT.
-There was only one piece I didn’t wear, this cropped sweater (see below the photo with text on it – I pulled that from an old IG story). It just wasn’t a cute fit on me; I think I rushed a little bit too fast when choosing outfits for my autumn capsule because there were also another few items I ended up returning. For winter, I will try to be a little bit more patient, although “free time” is pretty much nonexistent this month, so we’ll see!
-In my day to day life, I didn’t mind rewearing the same clothes often, and it was actually really convenient. But for special occasions (Friendsgiving, our book release party, our ABM holiday party and maybe just some random date nights), I missed having new outfits to wear. I think adding more dresses next time may help, or maybe just making my own rule that it’s OK to buy a couple dresses for special occasions during the season. I think that, for me, there is a pretty big difference between buying a new dress for a shower or a wedding versus buying a bunch of cute clothes on ASOS one night just for the hell of it.
Things I will adjust next time:
-For the winter season, I have a list of what I need and it’s much less than what I needed for fall. I am pretty much just swapping out a few things for warmer shoes, more sweaters and more dresses. But I am using all the same jeans, most of the jackets and some of the other pieces for autumn. I feel like winter (and probably summer too) is more of a refresher than a whole new wardrobe.
-Add more dresses. I need to tailor this experience to my real life and personal style, and I think this will help a lot. I do wear jeans often, but when I go out on a date, to meet friends or really anything besides everyday errands, I feel more comfortable in dresses.
Summary of my experience:
The highlight for me is that instead of spending so much time shopping for myself (as a default) I was able to get more done, including prepping for Nova, finishing my bnb house (that took a lot of sourcing and shopping too) and doing my holiday shopping early this year since we aren’t going to be with my family for Christmas. I felt free of some bad habits that I had been wanting to shake for a while. I felt proud of myself for completing the challenge.
I will definitely do another capsule for winter. I just started pinning stuff on a private pin board and plan to do all my shopping (and returning) before we leave for China! Winter is by far my least favorite season for fashion, but being able to choose cheesy matching outfits with Nova is making it fun this year.
All the photos below are from my phone and they are all “real life” outfits that I wore during these past few months. Most are low quality (a lot of them are self timer pics), but I wanted to share a look at how this challenge really worked for me in everyday life, not just styled outfit photos.
1. I wore this embroidered dress more times than I could count. I am considering getting another one in another color for my winter wardrobe (or maybe spring). If I like something, I try to get it in at least a couple colors (I think I get it from my grandma and my sister sometimes makes fun of me for it – haha). 2. I got a lot of mileage out of this denim skirt. I am considering the black one for winter. 3. I love these Big Bud Press jumpsuits. I wore them both quite a few times. They are great for getting ready fast because they look way more polished than the effort they actually take to throw on. I always get lots of compliments (from young people) and comments about my painters uniform (from old people). Haha. 4. This Forever 21 corduroy dress was maybe the most surprising piece because I wore it a lot and it got SO MANY compliments. The first day I wore it I remember I got three compliments and I felt so cool. Haha! It goes to show that you don’t have to shop at fancy stores or spend a lot of money to curate a good capsule. It was only $23.
1. Stayed with my tried and true go-to style here. I like easy outfits and beanies to hide hair that needs to be washed or dyed. 2. I bought a couple stripe crewneck tees from Madewell for this capsule and I swear every single time I wore one my husband would wear stripes too and we’d be at dinner realizing it and get embarrassed. Do any of you have problems accidentally matching? 3. I wore this jumper from Bando quite a bit and I wore it layered a bunch after the weather started to cool down. 4. I didn’t wear my Steve Jobs turtleneck as much as last year, but I wore it two or three times.
1. I ended up returning my Anthroplogie coat, so when I saw this insane mustard fur coat I didn’t feel too bad snagging it immediately. It’s perfect. 2-3. I mentioned above that I got a couple new dresses for my showers. This one and this one, which both were purchased at half off. I figured that with a daughter named Nova I needed a good star dress in my closet. 4. On the day we hosted a shower for baby Phoenix (my assistant Collin’s son) I pulled this vintage cutie out of my stash (I purchased it a while back on Whurl and hadn’t had a chance to wear it). It was perfect for the occasion and I ended up wearing it to the Katy Perry concert as well.
1. Another Big Bud jumper … I’ll probably wear this in our Christmas card photos. We’ll see. 2. Loved this gingham top (here’s a similar one). Nothing feels like fall to me like black and white gingham. 3. This is the sweater I ended up sewing into a doll for Nova. It felt awkward to wear a cropped (heavy) sweater in the first place, but the fullness of the sleeves really did not feel flattering. I loved the color; I think that is what made me keep it in the first place. But lesson learned, I have to focus on pieces that really fit and are flattering first and foremost. 4. More overalls … always on repeat.
1. One day I wore my corduroy dress with an old Simpsons T-shirt (from my workout clothes drawer) and I thought it was kind of cute. 2. Another photo of that white jumper. This is from that same day, but it wore it a bunch of other days too, I promise. 3. A brunch date with Ashley and Jacqui. This is the only time I wore knee highs that I can remember this fall … need to remember to do that more (but now it’s getting cold so maybe layered with other tights?). 4. That Free People dress again in New Orleans. It’s a great travel dress. I’ll definitely take something like this to China since it’s going to be warm in some of the cities we are going to.
And last, just an example of how I wore these two dresses over, and over … and over. I love them both a bunch, but this taught me what I need to add more of next season!
Thank you for following along. If you’ve been considering a capsule experiment yourself I highly recommend trying it! My winter capsule will (technically) begin December 1, so join me if it’s something you want to do!!!!
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments. I’ll be back soon to share my winter capsule! xx – Elsie