Want to Plan a Capsule Wardrobe? Don’t Miss this First Step!
Want to Plan a Capsule Wardrobe? Don’t Miss this First Step!

Want to Plan a Capsule Wardrobe? Don’t Miss this First Step!

Capsule wardrobes are the way to go if you want to keep things simple and want more time to focus on other important things in life. However, creating a capsule wardrobe filled with both everyday essentials and the right pieces for successful outfit planning doesn’t necessarily come naturally to some people who are putting together our first capsule wardrobe. Yes, I’m talking about me. 😉

confused about capsule wardrobe
Not me but this is what I used to feel like when attempting to plan a capsule wardrobe.

But, you can put together your imperfectly perfect capsule wardrobe without dedicating too much time to the process by starting with the free worksheet (you can grab it at the bottom of this post) that removes a lot of work that goes into sorting through your clothes and making choices.

And thinking through the questions below, you’ll end up with a clear(er) idea about the key pieces and individual items you will need in the near future. You’ll figure out what your favorite pieces work with your current lifestyle and will clear out a lot of mental clutter about capsule wardrobe planning.

capsule closet image

Ready? Let’s take that first step together. (You’ll find an overview of my process below. If you want a detailed look at how I filled in my sheet and planned my spring capsule wardrobe, you can look at that, too.)

Why a Capsule Wardrobe?

capsule closet

Here’s where I am when it comes to inspiration for doing this capsule wardrobe experiment.

I’ve played around with capsule wardrobes but never really committed to it. However, I don’t have a lot of clothing and have tried to ascribe the Marie Kondo idea of keeping what you need or love so I’m not drowning in clothing.

But, I don’t have many outfits to choose from and I don’t love what I wear; I stick with wearing the same things over and over again. And I seldom play around with wearing my clothes in different ways or putting together new outfits.

At the end of the day, I don’t think the things I wear give off much of an impression and I don’t feel like I have a cohesive wardrobe. In other words, it’s time to up my game.

cohesive outfits
Look how sweet this looks. Upping my game won’t look like this but it’s inspiring nonetheless.

That brings me to to spring wardrobes. I’ve decided to use Project 33 as a template for my first capsule wardrobe. I may tweak the system a bit to make it work for me but basically I’m going to keep 33 clothing items (excluding workout, underwear, sleep stuff, etc.).

Capsule Wardrobe Goals

Here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish with this experiment.

*Play around with the concept of intentionally using 33 basic clothing items to mix and match to create new outfits.

*Buy new-to-me items according to my body type.

*Save valuable space in my closet by only hanging up clothes I like.

*Create my own inspiration boards with outfit combinations that will get a lot of wear and serve as a quick reference.

*Easily shop my own closet for my daily outfit and inspiration that encompasses my unique style.

*Create a shopping list with only missing pieces that fit my own personal style and that I can wear for a long time.

spring capsule closet

Basically, I want any clothing piece I buy to stay out of the maybe pile, fit my skin tone, and be suitable for different outfits. Although I know I’ll make mistakes, if I keep learning from them it will eventually get easier to create seasonal capsule wardrobes filled with quality pieces that I look forward to wearing.

The First Thing: Think about Your Seasonal Clothing Needs

Complete the parts with the blue arrows before sorting through your closet to get your head in the game.

Before you start going through your closet and rummaging through all those animal prints and short sleeve tops, do yourself a favor and step away from the closet.

Sit down with the free capsule wardrobe planner and get clear on what the next three months will look like for you. Once you’ve done this and filled out the top part of the planner (the parts with the arrows), you will be in a much better place to make decisions about the clothing you choose to keep available and those you pack up until you build your next capsule. Some questions to consider:

*What type of weather can I expect?

*What shape is my body in right now (have you gained or lost weight for example)?

*What events will I need to dress for (weddings, job interviews, vacations, etc.)?

*What color scheme am I leaning towards depending on the season (lighter colors for warmer weather, maybe) ?

*Is there a missing piece or two that has prevented me from wearing more of my clothing (shoes, a certain belt, etc.)?

*Is there a particular style inspiration that I want to embody this season (boho or classic, for instance)?

*What do I know looks good/doesn’t look good on me?

When I did this I made sure to note some things that I had coming up as well as wrote down some wardrobe needs that I already knew were sorely lacking.

The Second Thing: Review your Clothing Options

clothing sort
Sorting clothes is much easier when you have less. Yay semi-minimalism!

I was able to do this very quickly. I took out each item of clothing from my closet and put it in one of three piles:

1. Store for another season.

2. Include in my spring capsule

3. Not sure yet.

I did have a fourth pile for clothing items that I wanted to give away but since I get rid of things frequently, this pile was small. My store for another season stack included cold weather items like long sleeve top(s), sweaters, and items with lots of black. My include in my spring capsule stack was filled with jeans, short sleeve top(s), and a few light sweaters.

spring clothing
I so love these shoes.

Once I had my stacks sorted, I looked over the clothing I stored away during the winter and choose clothing items that were suitable for spring. I was able to pull out some new clothes that I purchased the summer before but never got altered (definitely something I habitually put off!) as well as some very warm weather appropriate jump suits. It gets hot in Texas so it’s a good idea to have neutral print or colored easy-to-wear clothing made out of natural fibers.

Once all my possible clothing outfits were out, I made decisions about my Not Sure Yet stack. I did some quick brainstorming in my head about what items might work together and what would make the most sense to keep out. Then, I put away the clothing I didn’t think I would need for this capsule wardrobe.

The Third Thing: Take Action on What you Need to Complete your Capsule

When all the clothing I wanted to include in my capsule was out, it was pretty easy to write down the items I thought I would need to purchase to complete the capsule. This is the fun part!

Generally I needed some tank tops in neutral colors as well as some accent pieces–earrings, belt, shoes–that would allow me to really wear the items I already had. For instance, I have a pair of light, fun, colorful pants but no shirts to wear with them. Ideally I’d have two tanks and a light sweater to wear with those. And I knew I needed a black belt to cinch in two dresses not to mention sandals.

neutral colors capsule
Tank tops are a mainstay of my wardrobe and neutral ones get a lot of wear.

Before buying anything, it makes since to do research. Look at a Pinterest board to get inspiration or find the general cost of vintage clothes if you are looking for some secret sauce to make your outfit stand out. Determine what statement pieces can really pull your outfits together or consider buying a vegan leather jacket to make casual outfits look more polished.

spring wardrobe

I have two types of arthritis so it’s important that I buy supportive shoes, not just ones that are cute or that I like. That’s one reason I research sandals online. Even though I’m planning to go to the store to try them on, I’ll have a list ready to go. I also (sorta, kinda) hate shopping so I tried to find belts and a few high quality piece(s) online so I didn’t have to search too much for those.

thrift stores
Goodwill, Uptown Cheapskate (an Austin-area chain), and Thread Ups are favorite thrift stores.

To avoid fast fashion at least some of the time, I love shopping at used clothing stores like Goodwill. I often find pieces I love there and I don’t have to worry about something shrinking once I wash it. I pay substantially less, feel better knowing that I’m helping the environment, and can try out new clothing styles. If I find that I don’t like something new, I’m not out much money and I tuck away that knowledge so the next time I shop I make more discerning choices. However, if I’m looking for something really specific, I often buy new unless I can easily run in and see if a thrift store has what I’m looking for. Thredup is another option; the site sells used clothing that you can order online.

The next step is filling in my form with the action items I need to accomplish. I’m horrible at figuring out what I need but then stopping the process. Hello, ADHD. So, it’s important that I break down the action steps into manageable pieces that I can accomplish within a few weeks. My list includes things like: Take black jeans to be hemmed OR Spend one hour online to purchase black sandals and pink flats.

The Fourth Thing: Keep Notes

Keep track of things you learn so that you don’t keep making the same fashion mistakes over and over again.

The best way to be your own (really good!) personal stylist is to keep track of what works for you and what doesn’t. Note what styles you feel good in and what styles you do not.

Keep this information in mind when you shop but stay open to trying new things from time-to-time. As your body and lifestyle changes, you may find that you are able to wear things that at one time you weren’t or visa versa. You may also start to like new styles or discover that a particular color works with your current hair color. Know yourself but stay open to change as well.

What I Don’t Worry About

There’s one part of capsule planning that I have a love hate relationship with. You know those lists that people post with items that should be in your capsule wardrobe. Although they are so much fun to look at, I haven’t found it very helpful.

So much of what a person buys depends on the weather, their body, their skin tone, what they love, and what image they want to portray. It’s easier for me to look at my bottoms and make sure I have at least two tops that can go with each. (I usually end up with way more than two since most of my tops are pretty neutral.)

If we stick with capsule planning, we can eventually create our own Must Have list that will be personalized to our taste, our budget, our lifestyle, and our body. We can become our own personal shopper.