Part 1: Capsule Wardrobe Planning

Today, I am starting a three-part series about capsule planning! In this first post, I’ll share our free download that you can use to plan your capsule and TONS of links to items in the different categories. In my second post, I’ll share the best tip that changed the way I shop forever. And in my third post, I’ll share my fall capsule. I am SO passionate about these posts and hope you enjoy them!

How I define a “capsule wardrobe”: I define a capsule wardrobe simply as preparing your closet for the coming season and then wearing those items for the full season.

A lot of people do it by creating a minimal wardrobe (sometimes with a set number of pieces) and making sure everything matches so you can mix and match. I find this appealing, but too limiting, so I don’t limit the number of pieces. I also don’t limit myself to strictly neutrals. I believe that to get the most out of your experience, you need to tailor your rules to your lifestyle and goals!

Why is a capsule valuable? There are many different motivations for creating a capsule! One benefit is saving money. You can do this on any budget! You can even create a capsule using only things you already own if you want. I always end up saving money by planning and sticking to a capsule, but it is not my main motivation. Another benefit is saving time. This is my key motivation. I tend to get in a bad habit of online shopping way too much. It’s a huge waste of time! So for me I love to do this because I spend a lot of time on it for a few weeks and then I don’t really have to think about clothing for a full season.

Another benefit is becoming a more conscious consumer. This is huge and I have benefitted from it immensely. I’ll share more about this in my second post.

My capsule rules. My rules are simple! Create a closet for the coming season with ONLY items that fit me that I will wear, and that make me feel happy or confident (preferably both, lol) when I am wearing them.

Sentimental items (wedding shoes, funny clothes from high school and a dress from our first date) cannot stay in the closet unless I plan to wear them this season.

Clothes that don’t fit need to be tailored, donated or sold. Clothes that have a negative memory attached to them must go. Clothes that I am only keeping because of guilt (money spent, they were a gift, didn’t wear them much) also have to go.

Like I said above, I don’t limit my capsule to a set number of items. I don’t have any purpose or desire to get rid of all my clothing except for 40 items. So if I end up with 100 items, great—I don’t care. As long as I will wear them all, they can stay.

My goals. My goals are to simplify my process of getting dressed. I used to keep SO many clothes that didn’t fit me (either too small and I was justifying them as “goal clothes” or they needed alterations that I hadn’t gotten around to). This is fine, but when your closet is FULL of clothes like this it makes getting dressed each day super annoying and discouraging. When your closet only has clothing that fits and that you like to wear, getting dressed is quicker and more fun.

My other goal is to save time. I love shopping, but shopping every night (online) is a waste of time. When I get all my shopping done for the season it is so nice to free up all that time and use it for more important goals and passion projects in my life, like working on my children’s book, sewing for fun or writing for my family blog. This free time is valuable and it feels so good to reclaim it!

Click here to download our capsule planning sheet. Use this sheet to figure out what you already have to wear this season and what you would like to purchase.

Here are some roundups of some of my favorite items in stores this season to shop, divided by category.

Tops. I always struggle to find enough tops and I tend to do the most returning in this category—maybe it is just me!  My ideal lineup of tops is a few cozy sweaters, some blouses that look put together with jeans, some blouses that layer well (since I love overalls and layering tops under dresses) and a few cute tees. Here’s a link to my new favorite sweatshirt.

Shop Here:

Bottoms. I think this category is so key for confidence! Finding jeans that fit just right, skirts that are the right cut and length, the perfect cozy overalls and a few pairs of pants that are a little more dressy is all I really need. I used to be a hoarder of jeans and felt too guilty to narrow down my collection, but it’s so great to walk into a closet where everything fits perfectly. I’ll never go back!

This denim skirt is currently on heavy rotation.

Shop Here:

Dresses and Jumpsuits. My favorite category! If I had to only wear one item forever, it would definitely either be a dress or a jumpsuit. I LOVE them. I did realize this season that I had too many that I was only wearing a handful of times. So my mission this season has been to only purchase dresses and jumpsuits that I can see myself wearing over and over again. This dress is just too perfect for words. It’s my new favorite.

Shop Here:

Outerwear. It’s not fully winter yet and it’s not going to be (at least not here in Tennessee) for a while. My fall capsule is all about light jackets. I like to have a few options for denim and a bunch of cozy sweaters to layer.

This denim jacket is a bit oversized and so cozy. I love it with skinny jeans. I have a more tailored one that I love with dresses. Options!

Shop Here:

Shoes. I have been trying to branch out and try new styles of shoes these past few seasons. I am still in the middle of slowly reworking this part of my closet. My ideal mix of shoes are a few casual flats (I’ll always love my white Converse!), a few pairs of flattering boots and heels and a couple statement pairs, because there is nothing I love more than statement shoes.

These heels are so cute and flattering that I bought them in white and then went back for the black pair.

Shop Here:

Accessories. OK, I am going to break these sliders up into bags and then other accessories.

Shop Bags:

This season, I am loving scarves and dainty gold jewelry (this is nothing new!).

Shop Other Accessories:

Here are a few of the outfits made of pieces from my fall capsule (all these items are linked above except the exact Madewell overalls, which are sold out now).

I’ll share more soon … I am still finishing my returns and finalizing the capsule. That part is a lot of work (I have returned SO MUCH stuff), but it’s totally worth it. I am really enjoying the feeling of being super picky now that it feels normal to me.

OK! I hope this post inspires some of you to create your own capsule in some form or another. Here’s a bit of reading material that I loved if you want to learn more about this subject …

The Curated Closet – This book is SO GOOD. I am currently reading it for the second time. It has a lot of homework that helped me to figure out my closet “issues.” I highly recommend it!

The other book I would recommend if you just need help cleaning out your closet is The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up. I tend to get a lot of mental blocks when cleaning out (like people on the show “Hoarders”) where I just feel like I can’t get rid of stuff, and the things I learned from this book always help me to keep making those decisions.

I’d love to chat in the comments if you have any questions or thoughts about planning an autumn capsule! xx – Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • I love your reasons why doing the capsule. I too have so many clothes and wouldn’t want to limit the number but yes to clothes that I will wear/fit/love.

    Thanks for the sheet too. I printed it and will hopefully use it myself.

  • Love the way you broke everything down into categories, and your free and easy approach to a capsule. How much is in your capsule is sooo personal and, I think, should happen naturally. I have probably only 15-20 items in my closet at any one time. This summer – 2 crop linen pants, one shorts, one jeans, one pair crop dressy pants, 2 tees, five blouses, and five dresses. And two athleisure outfits for at home. I don’t do accessories and have two pairs of shoes – athletics and pink Birkenstock sandals. But I have never done this on purpose or on a strict plan – it’s just what happened naturally for me.

  • I really want to get into that. And your tips are great by the way (will definitely try to use them). My problem (and it’s really more of an excuse, I’m realising that now) is the difference in style I can have from what I like to wear casually, and what I should be wearing for work. I love wearing jeans, casual t-shirts and sweatshirts and no shoes (if I could be bare foot all my life I would be happy but the next best thing is flippy-floppies). But I work as a civilian for the Canadian Defense so all my colleagues are military members in uniform (which are basically suit and ties in an office) and I work for a high command so a lot of people of rank and VIPs from other armed forces around the world often visit………so you know, casual ain’t the kind of outfit I want to wear around the office. It’s easy enough in the summer (dresses, skirts, cute sandals) but when comes our ugly, snow ridden, cold as the arctic winters, I don’t want to be wearing dresses or have my legs exposed in anyway to the elements. But I can never find work pants that look good and professional on me. Basically getting dress outside of summer is a pain. Now granted, following your tips, if I create a wardrobe that is season specific, I just have to go through the pain of building it and after that, I just have to pick from it as I know it will work. I just gotta get to it! I have so many clothes already, I think it’s best I start with that and then figure out if I’m missing anything. So much work!!!!

    • I think you would really like “the curated closet” book. It helped me a lot to figure out how to buy clothing that is functional for my day to day activities, even if it’s not just one type of outfit. xx!

  • This post is at exactly the right time for me. I’m just about to start switching over to fall/winter clothes and thinking about what holes there are in my closet. This spring/summer was the first time I put away my seasonal clothes (and the clothes that don’t fit me) and it really changed up how I got dressed. Not having to sift through off season clothes made it much easier to see what my options were and it helped me see what sort of colors and styles I gravitate towards for warm weather.

  • Loved reading your post. It was at the right time because I was just about to start shopping for fall.

    An issue I’m dealing with right now is I have a very minimal wardrobe since I donate stuff time to time. Right now half of what is in there is stuff i bought right before i got pregnant or in the early days of my pregnancy. I have a 8 month old baby girl right now and Im struggling to go back to my pre pregnancy weight. My dilemma is to hold on to those few pieces i literally wore only once and then I got pregnant and couldnt fit anymore?

    My other dilemma is the stuff i buy right now according to my current size will go to waste once im back to my pre pregnancy weight in the coming few months. Is it even wise to spend on clothing right now?

    Thanks

    Mariam
    @barefoot_mo

    • I think it’s very important to have clothes that fit right now. I had my “post pregnancy” clothes and my “goal” clothes so nothing really fit and it was upsetting. Either your not pregnant wearing maternity clothes or you are squeezing into something that upsets you when it doesn’t fit. I finally gave in and bought shorts and jeans in my current size and my attitude was so much better. Sure I don’t want to be this size forever but to not be frustrated dressing daily until I loose baby weight was so much better!! I did keep most of my goal clothes but haven’t gotten there yet and also realized my body type has changed and even losing the weight I don’t think most of it will fit correctly so I’m letting it go slowly.

      • This is so inspiring Jamie! I totally relate. I recently lost some weight and honestly like 75% of the “goal clothes” I was hanging onto were not even things I wanted once I could fit into them. It makes me so sad that I held onto them for years and they were nothing but a source of negativity to me and in the end I sold or donate most of them. 🙂 High fives for embracing this current season of your life! xx

    • If you’re going to keep “goal clothes” put them in storage (not in your closet) so you don’t have to look at them every day.

      I do relate to the feeling of not wanting to buy clothes because I was working on losing weight (I did that for years- honestly) but I think that making your closet work for your life in this current season is the most important thing. Even if you don’t buy a ton of clothes, you need to have things that fit you well that make you feel good right now. That’s my two cents.

      xx

  • I hope the roller skates make an appearance as part of your capsule wardrobe this season 🙂

    • Haha! I haven’t even been roller skating one time since we got Nova. Just realized that- oops! Maybe when she gets a little older…. 🙂

  • Hi Elsie,

    I’ve seen you in your brown polka dot jumpsuit before and I just love love love it! Yes I love it. Can you tell me the brand? Or the store you got it from? I would be so grateful.

    All the best, Lisa

  • Hi Elsie,
    Thank you very much for this handy and lovely topic. I mainly dress casual since I work from home as free lance graphic designer and I have a 5 year old daughter. I’m obsessed with dungarees and I own one in jeans, one hickory, two in corduroy (one pink and one clay color) and a yellow dungaree dress in corduroy. I’m not now thinking of getting a new dungaree either in black or in kale green. I’d also like yo get some new fall/winter shoes but cannot decide what fits better with dungarees. I fancy Dr Martens boots but I’m afraid it wouldn’t be the right purchase. what would you recommend? other thank this im in jeans. ladt but not least, I love your blog/posts/style but above all Nova. She is awesome and has a wonderful name. I regret not thinking of it when I was pregnant specially because it’s also my mother’s surname but on the other hand our daughter Stella carries her name beautifully and I wouldn’t imagine her any different 🙂 Thank you and sorry for the long post!

  • Love this post. Looking forward to more. What do you store your off season clothes in? How do you find the time to sell your clothes. I have a pile I just need to photograph and list. The piles a month old at least.

  • I love the way you do your capsule wardrobe! I’ve always hated feeling limited by a certain number but the way you described it really helped me. Now I want to try. Thanks for sharing 💕

  • Wow, being an upholder it never occurred to me that I could change the capsule wardrobe rules to suit me. I couldn’t imagine pairing down to 10 or so items, so I never tried. Thanks for helping lighten up both mentally and in my closet.

  • You have some great rules! Getting rid of things with negative associations / energy! Getting rid of things that you just keep because of guilt! Excellent! My issue with the fit rule is that I often go up and down 3 or 4 times per season depending on a number of factors, but I should probably get a better handle on that. Great post!

    XOXO,

    Misty Ann

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