There was so much interest in my capsule wardrobe experiment I kicked off last month! I heard from so many of you who are either intrigued by the concept or wanting to do the same thing, so I am more excited than ever to share all the details of this journey. Last month, I started by explaining the “How” and “Why” I’m assembling and wearing a capsule wardrobe. Today, I’m going to dive into what exactly I bought, from which stores, and how much I spent. I know this is the post most of you really want to read, so I tried to cover everything. Let’s get right to it!

capsule wardrobe

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!

Identifying What I Needed

As I mentioned in my kick-off post, instead of trying to assemble my own capsule wardrobe, I opted to purchase a style guide that walked me through the entire capsule wardrobe process. The very first step was to figure out what I already had and what I needed to buy. So I pulled everything out of my closet and drawers and assessed each and every item as follows:

  1. Is the item on the capsule wardrobe shopping list?
    • If YES, move on to question #2.
    • If NO, move on to question #3.
  2. Do I like the way it fits?
    • If YES, place in “Keep Pile.”
    • If NO, place in “Discard Pile.”
  3. Do I have some strong attachment or unique need for this item? (Typically only asked if the item wasn’t on the Capsule Wardrobe shopping list)
    • If YES, place in “Keep Pile.”
    • If NO, place in “Discard Pile.”

Capsule Wardrobe Experiment

As I worked through my closet, the biggest surprise was the second question: Do I like the way it fits? After going through my closet, I was really only missing a handful of items off the shopping list. However, I haven’t shopped for new clothes in a long time and my body has changed post-3rd baby. So, unfortunately, most were items I genuinely didn’t want to wear anymore. I learned pretty early on that with a smaller/limited wardrobe, you have to love the way everything fits since you wear it quite frequently.  So I decided if I was going to put in the work to to look and feel good while pairing down, I would embrace the opportunity to buy some things I really love.

I’m bringing this up only in full-disclosure that I actually ended up buying more than I “needed to” based on what I already had. If you are looking to do a similar wardrobe re-vamp but don’t want to or have the budget for an entire new wardrobe, don’t let my shopping trip(s) dissuade you. I did already have a lot on hand…I just didn’t like any of it!

Where I Shopped

When I first kicked off this experiment over the summer, stores were re-opening and I felt comfortable shopping in person. However, I was really surprised how unproductive this was. I didn’t realize how accustomed to online shopping I’ve become, with endless size, color, and style options literally at my fingertips. So although I was pretty nervous about shopping for clothes without trying them on, I switched my strategy to exclusively online pretty early on.

In figuring out where to shop, I noted which stores/brands of clothes I kept after my wardrobe purge. Most everything I loved came from either Banana Republic or Loft, so I started there. I then filled in (a vast majority of) my shopping list via Amazon. Until now, I never really bought clothes on Amazon (besides the random item for my kiddos). Well…between the extensive reviews, customer pictures, and free returns at Kohls, I took the leap and was actually able to find some really, really good things on Amazon.

A Note About “Amazon Essentials”

I wanted to chat quickly about the “Amazon Essentials” clothing line. I’ll admit, I didn’t really know this “brand” existed. But when searching for various staples, I was really taken aback by the super high reviews for these items, especially considering their really affordable price points. I was very skeptical at first, so I ordered just this shirt. I was soooo impressed with the quality and fit, that I then tried to find my other capsule staples in the Amazon Essentials line. Literally, every single Amazon Essentials item I got impressed me. So if you’re having trouble wading through the vast options on Amazon, the Essentials line is a great place to start! (Not sponsored, just an honest experience!)

How I Picked a Color Scheme

When I first set out to assemble my capsule wardrobe, I was really worried about buying the “wrong pieces” despite having a pretty detailed shopping list. Although some items were really specific (e.g., grey t-shirt, navy scarf), there were other items that could be in any color. Deciding which color scheme to pursue happened in kind of a funny way.

First, back on Mother’s Day, I (totally randomly) treated myself to this set of hair clips from Anthropologie (below left). On a gut level, I was simply attracted to them and thought they’d be a fun accessory to dress-up my daily bun/ponytail. Then, a few months later, my sister was making me some masks, and we were picking out fabrics together. When I pulled a few samples and asked her what she thought, she said “You do wear those colors a lot.” Hmmmm…I hadn’t really noticed that myself! So when I had to pick a few colorful accessories to work into the neutrals of the capsule wardrobe, pinks, reds, and blues seemed the obvious choice!

capsule wardrobe

Brenda Hair Clips (The color combinations have changed since I bought mine.)

What I Kept & What I Bought

Tops. I didn’t keep a single top or blouse I already had. Most of my t-shirts were worn and faded, and I never wore most of the blouses hanging in my closet. For sweaters, I kept some basics (e.g., black, navy, and red to wear at Christmas), but otherwise tossed everything and replaced it with what’s below. Even though I just shopped for most things recently, some items (like a great floral top that eluded me for weeks!) are no longer available online, so I can’t grab pictures for you!

Pants. I had a pair of everyday classic jeans, dark jeans and white jeans, as well as some comfy black leggings. To round out the “pants” for the year-round capsule wardrobe, I also added the ones below. Both the grey jeans and burgundy jeans proved the hardest to find. After buying and returning multiple pairs, I am really happy with the fit of the Goodthreads brand I settled on!

Shorts. I mostly had patterned shorts and a few too-big options, so they all got tossed. I replaced them with a few classic pairs. The white and green are both a smidge shorter than I like to wear, but those denim ones became a fast favorite thanks to their high waste!

Dresses. The capsule wardrobe builder, at least the one I picked, is more for my everyday wardrobe and doesn’t include outfits for special occasions. So I kept 3 cocktail-style dresses and one formal dress for fancier occasions. I then purchased the ones below for my everyday outfits. I love them all; however, the denim dress is too short to wear without tights or leggings, so I might need to find another option come the Spring.

Accessories. As I mentioned in my kickoff post last month, the shoes are where I really went all in. Although I already had quite a few pairs on the shopping list, I purchased many of the ones I didn’t. I don’t regret this splurge a bit since I’m learning shoes go a really log way in changing up the same clothing items. (You can see my entire shoe collection HERE).

I did have a tough time finding scarves I liked. Because I’m on the petite side, scarves tend to swallow me up but the few I settled on (below) have been winners, and I’ve enjoyed accessorizing with them!

Jackets. The shopping list called for a few jackets, all of which I already had (e.g., denim jacket, utility jacket, etc). Since I actually loved how all of them fit, I didn’t need to add any to my shopping list!

Purses & Jewelry. The capsule wardrobe builder also includes purses and jewelry for each outfit. However, with a 1 year old, I am still very much in the “diaper bag and no-necklaces” phase of life. I don’t think I will ever be a person who swaps my purse daily, but I am interested in adding some staple jewelry after Jack is out of the “grab everything and pull” phase.

How Much Money I Spent on My Capsule Wardrobe

I accumulated these clothing items, little by little, over the course of a few months. Admittedly, I am not the best “bookkeeper” in the world, but I just went back through all my online orders to tally everything up so I could be fully transparent regarding what this little “experiment” cost me. For everything you see pictured in this post, as well as a few other things I can’t link up because they are no longer available, my grand total for a year-long capsule wardrobe was just under $1000.00.

I am honestly not sure what I think about that number. On one hand, I almost never buy clothes and haven’t bought clothes in a really long time, so that price seems quite reasonable for a complete wardrobe overhaul that I plan to wear for a long time. On the other hand, for a gal who isn’t “into fashion,” that number seems crazy high “just for clothes” to put on my body. When I do my 6- and 12-month recaps, I will be sure to reflect on if the way I look and feel as a result of this wardrobe refresh feels worth the $1K price tag. So far…my gut says definitely.

My Absolute Favorite Finds of My Capsule Wardrobe

In general, I am really enjoying all these fresh and nice-fitting clothes. I am committed to using the Outfit Formulas to put items together in ways that wouldn’t haven’t occurred to me, and I have already identified some favorite combos. Although I’ve worked hard to love the fit of everything now in my closet and drawers, there are a few items I really, really love and even get excited about when I see them on my daily outfit “schedule.” Below are my absolute favorite items I’ve bought as part of this experiment so far!

QUICK NOTES: I swear every fashion blogger I’ve every followed has said at some point: “You need a Chambray Shirt”; and I was like “I don’t know. I’ll probably never wear it, but I’ll get it anyway.” Friends…I totally GET it. I LOVE this shirt, love wearing it, and am shocked at how many different ways I can style it! Also, these jeans are worth the hype and totally deserve their great reviews!

Alright! I think I’ve babbled long enough about my new clothes and how/why I bought them. If you have any questions, comments or observations, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. And thanks so much for following along in this journey. Next month, I’ll be sharing more about how I’m storing these new clothes and showing how they look in my closet and drawers, so stay tuned for that!

See You Soon!