Kicking Off My Capsule Wardrobe Experiment!
When I conducted my mid-year reader survey a few months back, I asked if you all would be interested in reading about my journey toward assembling and wearing a capsule wardrobe. I was pretty excited that 93% of you answered “Yes!” because it not only gave me the encouragement I needed to (finally) pull a new wardrobe together, but I also now have a fun “real time experiment” to share with you in the coming months! Today, I am kicking off what (I think) will be a 5-part series focused on building, organizing and wearing a capsule wardrobe. I’m going to start by diving into the why and how I assembled my new capsule wardrobe, as well as some initial impressions with how it’s going so far!
Capsule Wardrobe Series
This capsule wardrobe experiment is all about getting myself out of a workout clothes rut rather than becoming a fashionista. As such, this blog series is short and focused on cultivating and wearing a minimal wardrobe for the sake of simplicity, convenience, and self confidence. If you are here for DIY and organizing content, no fear! Below is the schedule for this series so you can either keep a look out for it each month or skip it as you see fit!
- Part 1: Getting Started with a Capsule Wardrobe (you are here!)
- Part 2: What Items I Bought for My Capsule Wardrobe & How Much I Spent
- Part 3: How My Capsule Wardrobe Fits In My Closet & Drawers
- Part 4: 6 Month Check-In of Wearing a Capsule Wardrobe
- Part 5: 1 Year Check-In of Wearing a Capsule Wardrobe
Why I Wanted to Build A Capsule Wardrobe
When you see pictures of people’s homes online or in your social feeds, I think it’s easy to assume their wardrobe is just as stylish as their bedroom. While that may be true for many bloggers, it is/was absolutely not the case for me. Truth be told, fashion is not really something I ever got right. Despite efforts in my younger years to look hip, cool and pulled together, I never found a look or system that worked for me. So time and time again, I resorted back to jeans, old t-shirts, and/or workout clothes, with no makeup or jewelry, and my hair always (and I mean always) in a ponytail. While I’ve often reveled in the time, money and efforts saved in this lackadaisical approach to my personal appearance, I’ve also been a smidge envious (okay, more than a smidge) of friends and family who look stylish without seeming like they spent the entire day primping and getting ready. “Some day, I’ll figure it out.” I always thought.
A few years ago, I learned about Outfit Formulas from an Ultimate Bundle promotion I participated in. It struck me as a system I could really get into. I don’t love fashion, nor do I have a ton of time to think about it. But if I had a clear, organized system that showed me what to buy, what to wear, and how to put things together, maybe I could get that “pulled together” look I wanted without all the effort. So I bought the Closet Staples Casual Capsule Wardrobe Builder package, years ago; but it has sat in my computer files, untouched, ever since.
Closet Staples Casual Capsule Wardrobe Builder
Back in the Spring…as I “recovered” from having my third baby, dealt with a world in chaos (pandemic, homeschooling, etc), and realized I was turning 40 by year’s end…I suddenly felt this overwhelming desire to not just take better care of my body (diet and exercise) but also make more of an effort in my appearance. I’m not sure if it was a need to improve something in my daily life when so much seemed horrible, or just that I had reached my “frumpy Mom” breaking point. Either way, I was finally ready to try. That said, I juggle a lot of balls on a daily basis, and I simply don’t have the time (or interest!) in spending too much time shopping for clothes, making outfits, and getting ready each day. I just wanted a way to look great in the simplest, most efficient way possible. So I dusted off the Capsule Wardrobe Builder I bought so long ago, and finally (!!!) dove in!
How I Built a Capsule Wardrobe
Everyone is so different with their approach to clothes, their interest level in fashion, and their clothing budget. So I can’t really provide a definitive “How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe” guide (I’ll leave that to the fashion bloggers!). However, I do want to share how I did it it in case you’re interested in doing the same and just don’t know where to start!
Find a Guide. I honestly don’t know the first thing about what closet staples I need, how to buy pieces that can easily mix-and-match, etc. Again, since I was looking for a foolproof and quick system, I chose to purchase a guide to help me assemble a complete capsule wardrobe. I personally found the Outfit Formulas by Alison from Get Your Pretty On to be a perfect combination of my desired fashion style with a system I could easily put in place. That said, Pinterest is FULL of blog posts, systems, e-books, and shopping guides for building capsule wardrobes of all sorts (e.g., office style, activewear, etc), so I recommend finding one that resonates with you and your lifestyle in order to get off and running fairly quickly. (BTW: This is not at all sponsored; I bought this program with my own money, and am sharing it because I loved it!)
Closet Staples Casual Capsule Wardrobe Builder
Sort Then Shop. Since I don’t know much about fashion and hadn’t bought new clothes in ages, I pretty much followed the wardrobe builder system and recommendations to a T. As such, after downloading her materials (shopping list, outfit builders, etc), I first sorted through my closet, then shopped for what was missing.
- SORT. Since the Capsule Wardrobe Builder includes a very specific shopping list (e.g., grey t-shirt, white jeans, floral top, etc), it was fairly easy to pull out my already-smallish wardrobe and see what I had. I went category by category (tops, pants, shorts, etc), matching items I had in my closet to the ones listed in the guide. Anything that was on the Outfit Formulas list went into one pile, everything else went into another. Since “Substitutions” for each needed item are included, I was actually surprised to see how much I already had. As I went through my clothes, I crossed off each item I had and circled any I needed to buy.
- “DISCARD.” I was (am) ready to commit 100% to the capsule wardrobe idea, so anything I already had that didn’t fit into the Capsule Wardrobe Builder got set aside into one big discard pile. Although there were some pieces I still “liked” in this pile, there wasn’t anything I was super attached to. So I willingly put it all into a trash bag and moved it to the basement. If I ever feel like I need more options or want something back, I can go dig it out. Spoiler: I haven’t touched the bag yet!
- SHOP. With my clothes sorted out and matched up to the provided shopping list, all that was left to do was shop for the remaining pieces. I probably shouldn’t say that so cavalierly, because filling in the gaps on the shopping list was was a longer process that I was expecting (made a bit more complicated by COVID restrictions). Still, I absolutely LOVED knowing what to shop for, rather than being tempted by every cute little thing I came across. Like I said, I trusted the Capsule Wardrobe Builder 100%, almost blindly, and simply bought what it told me to (of course picking colors, patterns and styles that appealed to me). I’m going to dive into what exactly I bought, where I bought it from, how I navigated online clothes shopping, and how much I spent in the next installment of this series at the end of October!
Impressions So Far
In a word: Hooked. Building out the capsule wardrobe has been more fun than I anticipated, and so far it’s working (mostly) as easily and efficiently as I was hoping. I am getting dressed in “real clothes” waaay more than I was before (and I even look forward to doing so!), and I definitely notice more bounce in my step. You know it had gotten pretty bad when I came down the first day in a new pair of jean shorts, a fresh shirt and sandals, and Henry and Sam both said “Wow, Mom. Why are you so dressed up?” Further, Greg has been so impressed with my “new look,” that he actually asked if there were Outfit Formulas for Men (which Alison actually just released!), so we’re now working on his wardrobe!
I’m going to provide some more “in-depth” reflections at my 6-month and 1-year checkins, but I wanted to share a few quick first impressions of wearing a capsule wardrobe the last few weeks.
Fit Is Everything. Because I did so much shopping online and was (admittedly) a little eager to get it all done, I did “settle” on the fit of a few staple items. I genuinely didn’t think it would be that big of a deal. But when you have a smaller number of clothes, each items is worn more often. So you really need to LOVE the way it looks and feels. I found that if I didn’t love the way a certain item fit, I was reluctant to wear it, which then excluded some of the outfit options. As my shopping process went on, I got MUCH more particular about how each item fit and even replaced some of my initial purchases that weren’t quite right.
Shoes Make an Outfit. I certainly love a cute shoe as much as anyone, but in recent years I pretty much only wore my tennis shoes and some Crocks flipflops that Greg not-so-affectionally called my “Craps.” Because I went all in on the capsule wardrobe concept, I bought all of her shoe recommendations. Although it felt a bit strange to buy 4+ new pairs of shoes at one time, it was SOOO worth it. I found that cute shoes really are the key to making the various staples look and feel different from day-to-day, and I so look forward to wearing each pair!
Getting Dressed Makes Me Feel Better. In the same way that clutter breeds more clutter, I think not getting dressed enabled me to make other not-so-great health and appearance choices. Since taking the time to actually shower and get dressed into “real clothes” each day, I feel like I am more productive, eating better, and not skipping my workouts!
Figuring Out Outfits. The biggest area I am struggling with right now is the logistics of picking out an outfit. At first glance, I thought the Outfit Guides were going to be something I could literally follow, in order, day after day after day…almost mindlessly. Upon closer inspection, they are really just combo ideas and not meant to be a “schedule,” since certain items are shown in consecutive outfits (which would be tricky with washing). I’m not super savvy on mixing and matching everything just yet, so I’m going to experiment with printing all the outfit cards out and stacking them on a ring in a better order so I really can just flip to a new card each day and get dressed accordingly! Over time, I think I’ll have a good handle on what items I like best with others.
Tan Wedge Booties | Denim Shirt | Leopard Belt | Floral Scarf
Alright! I know so many of you have been anxiously waiting for me to kick off this series, so I hope this was a great introduction to get you warmed up for everything else to come! In addition to the fashion side of this, I’ve also been experimenting with different clothing storage solutions, and I am excited to share what I’ve learned on that too! Until then, drop any questions you have below and keep an eye out at the end of the month for the next installment in which I’ll share every last item I bought!
28 Comments on “Kicking Off My Capsule Wardrobe Experiment!”
This is timely – as so many of your posts have been this year. That is funny because you are a young mom with kids and I am a grandmother who recently moved into an apartment.
But I guess it fits… I’m fitting into rented digs and am also finding I need a different wardrobe. I can guarantee if I step outside my apartment in my pj pants and tshirt, I will meet not one but several people in the halls…. So I have been revamping my wardrobe as well as my surroundings.
So eager to see your steps to being more polished.
Thanks so much, Linda! Yes! I think revamping your wardrobe to feel and look better is always applicable, no matter what stage of life you’re in! As I sit here typing in a simple but pulled together outfit, I have to admit the journey has been fun and worth it so far! Can’t wait to share more!
I’m very curious about this process. I think I’ll forward to my college aged daughter who is still trying to figure out how to pick out an outfit each day after wearing school uniforms for many years.
That’s so funny you say that because I went to private school for 13 years. Maybe I never figured out how to dress myself without a uniform to guide me…and perhaps why these outfit formulas feel so comforting! Hope your daughter gives it a read!
Greatly looking forward to the cost post as my style sounds very much like your previous one and I’d love to improve it. Thanks for the inspiration!
I’ve been so excited to see so much interest surrounding this journey – my own experience clearly resonates with so many. I’m working to have the shopping post done by the end of the month, so keep an eye out for that!
Have a great weekend!Megan
Well! How exciting and inspiring! I have the same same daily quandary. What should I wear? Kudos to you for getting started. I eagerly await your poss to come on this and other subjects. Now off to Pinterest to find a capsule guide. By the way, in April I found a link to organizing a pantry on the Country Living website I think. Out of all the suggestions, I modeled my pantry makeover after yours. And it’s working! My pantry looks lovely and is still organized. I found you through that link. Great minds think alike!
Wow – thanks for sharing such a nice comment! I am THRILLED to hear my pantry organization ideas have helped you out! With so many different versions to work through over the years, I feel like I’ve tried everything and have stumbled on my own “tried and true” methods! So glad they are working for you too!
I’ve been so excited about the interest around this capsule wardrobe experience and am anxious to share more! Stay tuned!
I’ve been looking forward to these posts! Thank you! My wardrobe is definitely in need of help! I work in a steel manufacturing facility and while I have to change into my protective uniform if I go out into the shop, 90% of the time I’m in my office and it’s pretty casual and also very male dominated (aka jeans and polo/plaid button down). Plus we’re engineers, not known for our fashion sense, ha! Anyway, even though my clothes are very causal and basic, I find myself changing into tshirt (the free, not cute kind) and soft bottoms as soon as I get home, both for comfort and because between cooking and playing with my kids outside or in the garden to pull a few weeds, I’m afraid to get my “nice clothes” dirty (not to mention sweaty!) Do you wear your “getting dressed” clothes all day? Should I rethink my definition of everyday clothes that I should be able to do these activities in? Invest in an apron and up my laundry game? When I’m home (worked from home for 3 months) I feel like clothing “damage” is a potential with most things I do and I would never put real clothes on unless I left the house. Thoughts?
I fully relate to “not putting on real clothes unless I left the house”. But then I get into a rut of the same frumpy clothes and leave the house to go grocery shopping in them anyway. Need to learn to ‘get dressed for me’ somehow. Anyone else??
Also relating to Linda H : I am in a different season of life than you, Megan, but we can all learn from your experience. Looking forwards to more installments!
I relate to this too – I want to look decent around the house, particularly if I’m walking to the community mailbox or hosting my son’s friends, but don’t want to wear out my work clothes.
So I save the faded jeans that still fit, and have a couple more casual but still collared shirts that I wear around the house. I bought a couple quarter-zip, collared rash guards that are athleisure but more fitted than a t-shirt. I feel so much better when I dress for the day.
Yes! I, too, am finding that I just feel better when I’m dressed in clothes that fit and look pulled together. Using the outfit cards has removed all the “mental effort” in picking out an outfit, and I’m loving wearing combos that would have never occurred to me!
Thanks for chiming in, and I am excited to share more about this in the coming months!Megan
I’ve been so excited to see the interest surrounding this series – I definitely think the desire to look and feel good resonates, no matter what stage of life you’re in!
So far, the “effort” to get dressed into real clothes has really been minimized by the “system,” and it’s getting reinforced naturally because I really do feel so much better about myself! As far as getting started, I will admit that I’ve been wanting to do this for forever but it wasn’t until I put it on the blog (and got so much support) that I finally took the leap and did it. Maybe post on Facebook or find an accountability partner to get yourself going?
Have a great weekend!Megan
Thanks so much for chiming in and you raise some really good questions! I’ll share what I’ve done so far.
On most days, I don’t get “real dressed” until my workout is done and/or if I know we’re going to be working on a project, out in the yard all day etc. So based on my schedule, some days I get dressed first thing, and others it’s not until after lunch. If we’re doing projects/outside chores all day, maybe I don’t get “real dressed” at all. That said, the clothes I have picked so far work just fine for playing in the yard, going on walks, etc. Nothing is “too nice” that I don’t feel comfortable being with the kids or being outside. I think…at least so far…is that although I am still in “jeans” and a “shirt” they are paired in a way that feel more pulled together, and the accessories (scarf, shoes) help it feel more like an outfit too.
Hope that helps a bit! Stay tuned for more as time goes on!Megan
I went directly to the Get Your Pretty On website and finally parted with the money (on a gift credit card!) to buy a plan. I love it. Now, let me find the time to do the closet cleanout. No, first, I’m going to shop my closet. I think I may have almost all of the basics; I’ve just never learned how to put them together. I’m on extremely tight budget and was saving my gift Visa for emergency, but since it’s no good after Dec., I decided this was my personal clothing emergency! And all the freebies you get with an order of the plans is just what I needed. It’s certainly not a necessity (I always have to balance necessity vs. want), but I feel this will be a great step toward my minimalist growth. It’s like having someone here saying, “Yes, No, Sell, Hold for awhile, No, No….. ” I’m a grandmother so not all that interested in young mom stuff, but I’ve been reading you since before you had your first child. I like all the lifestyle and home ideas. Plus, it’s like catching up with an old friend. Thanks so much for your hard work.
Thanks so much for joining in on this journey with me! You know, buying the guide (for me, at least) was just like the choice between DIY or buy something. Sure…I could have spent the time and effort to figure things out on my own, for free. Or I can pay for someone who has the expertise to put together a guide for me to follow. So far, I’ve been LOVING the system (since it removes almost all the effort of getting dressed each day), and I encourage you to just go for it!
Have a great weekend!Megan
I’m really looking forward to this series. But I think you’re a little to hard on yourself with your appearance. Did I read in there you’re turning 40! I seriously thought you were in your early 30s.
You have inspired me yet again. I am enjoying building my HUB and this will be another for me to add to my list. Thank you. x
Ooooo…your comment goes straight to my gut 😂 I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to Greg in the last 2 months…”How can I be turning 40? I swear I just turned 30?!?!?” I’m having a bit of an identity crisis because I can’t believe I’m at this threshold already. Hope you still come around even though I’m an ol’ hag still trying to figure motherhood, home, and life out 😜
Have a great weekend!Megan
I am looking forward to seeing how you do this! Cause the feeling of nothing to wear is horrible, especially when you have a closet full of stuff!
A comment back to some others that asked about changing clothes for what you do. I don’t. I buy what I love and wear what I love. And if something gets damaged, it gives me a chance to find something new that I will love!
I can’t wait to see how you use this system over the next year. I love that you are doing a year out review. Cannot wait to read that one!
Thanks for your support on this series! I totally hear you on the “full closet with nothing to wear”…it was amazing how day after day I moved passed everything to the few things I wore over and over. I’m loving having all the excess gone and actually wearing what I have!
Have a great weekend!Megan
I really need this! Since I retired 3+ years ago, I’ve lost 40 lbs. Other than volunteering in the grandkids classes (but Covid killed that for the time being), I don’t need anything other than VERY casual clothing. I often go “feral” – no makeup, no styling the hair, and dumpy house work clothes. (I feel entitled for the 25 years I had to get dressed and made up everyday!). So, my summer uniform has been denim shorts, and a T-shirt. I do have some casual summer dresses, but am no longer into ironing. I have several new church dresses for summer, that never got worn yet – again, Covid.
For 2 winters, I’ve done black leggings and variations of longer tshirts/tunics, all in variations of black and white! I have plenty of dresses for Church in winter. Everything I want to spend $$ on, is on cute things more suitable for working! I’m going to check the website you went to. Can’t wait to read more!
I’ve been following you for about 9 years!
Wow – thanks for following along for so long!!!! I’ve been really excited to see the enthusiasm surrounding this post…clearly the desire to look and feel good is pretty universal. So far, it’s going so much better than I expected, and I am so happy I took the leap to go for it. Be sure to check in for more parts of this series over the next few months!
Have a great weekend!Megan
If you are trying to get away from frumpy then follow this simple rule among all the others, no horizontal stripes after 40. Horizontal stripes are not kind to all us old broads. We end up looking like aging bees.
LOL! Thanks for the tip, but I have to say…I love a good stripe shirt! Not sure if I’ll ever be able to get that visual out of my head 😂!
Have a great weekend!Megan
I am really looking forward to following along because this is something I’m trying to do as well. Have you heard of Frump Fighters? I think she does have a calendar of sorts with scheduled outfits if that’s something you’re interested in checking out. I just recently found her so don’t know a lot about it, but it’s geared towards moms (though anyone can benefit from it). Anyway, can’t wait to see how it works for you.
I am very interested in the Capsule wardrobe builder that you tried. I have a few questions before I jump in as you did. What you shared about your fashion knowledge/interest etc sounded like you were talking about me! Ha HA! Anyway I am 61 years old and work part time in a very casual atmosphere. Do you think GYPO is age appropriate for me? Also my biggest problem is putting an outfit together and mixing items around. Do you get a lot of pictures of many outfits with the items used from the shopping list? I thought like you did that I could just go from one outfit to the next on a schedule and wake up knowing exactly what you would be wearing for that day.
Thank you for your help. I don’t want to jump in and spend the money if many outfits are not included in the program.
I’m so glad you are enjoying reading about this Capsule Wardrobe experience.
To answer your questions:
I do think it would be age appropriate…mainly because she gives you basic guidelines (grey sweater, black jeans, floral scarf) and you can select whatever versions ones suit your style, body type and age the best. There isn’t anything included that is SUPER specific so you’d likely be able to swap her recommendations for things that work right for you.
As far as the number of outfit recommendations. I can’t say for sure about all her programs, but the one I purchased includes about 15-16 outfits per season…which would equal out to wearing each outfit about 2 times/month. She provides both a calendar layout and single outfit layouts. At first, I was hoping I could just move through the calendar layout, but some items are repeated in order (like white jeans 3 times in a row), so I ended up printing out the individual outfits and ordering them a bit differently so that I could, as you say, literally flip the page and see what I need to wear next.
I hope that helps a bit! Don’t hesitate to let me know what other questions you have!Megan
Megan, I am so thankful I found you. Your blog has helped me and is still helping me. You inspire me to do better. Still have a long way to go though. Many thanks, Alice Cornelson