As a work-at-homer, fashion sense is often one of the first things to go. Our clothing budgets are focused on comfortable as opposed to stylish. When it comes time for a night out on the town or a conference to attend, you may find yourself in dire straits. And the last thing I want to do when I’m nervous and excited about an upcoming event is go shopping and end up all depressed that I couldn’t find anything I loved or fit. Forget that!
Creating a capsule wardrobe is a new trend that many women are trying and loving. The idea behind a capsule wardrobe is that you limit your closet to a specific number of items and you store or donate the rest of your clothing (or sell in our case). The benefit to this type of simplistic wardrobe is that you are shopping less (and therefore saving money), keeping your closet free of clutter, loving how you look and simplifying your routine by removing excess choices. While this trend may sound great, putting the idea into practice can be challenging. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
I’m not going to ask you to get rid of your favorite “work clothes,” aka yoga pants, t-shirts and hoodies. But I am going to ask you to keep open the possibility that you will actually start getting dressed for success every day going forward. We are putting together a wardrobe that you can feel confident wearing on Periscope, to church, a night out with friends or your favorite business or blogging conference.
Step 1: Your wardrobe should only contain clothing that fits right now.
There is no cluttering of your closet with jeans that you hope will fit again someday, and no holding onto things that fit awkwardly or need alterations. Anything that doesn’t fit should be put into storage, donated or taken to a tailor. Better yet, if it’s in good condition send it into thredUP or Tradesy where you can use the credit or cash to buy the things you need.
Step 2: Your closet should only contain items that are seasonally appropriate.
While the odd chilly summer evening may call for a sweater, you certainly don’t need all of your winter clothing taking up space in your summer capsule wardrobe. And you certainly don’t need to be sifting through tank tops and pairs of shorts in the winter. Items that are not seasonally appropriate should be put in storage.
Step 3: Your wardrobe should fit your lifestyle and personal style.
When planning your wardrobe, think of the various activities you participate in, and then make sure you have clothing that is appropriate and comfortable for each activity. Choose basic and timeless colors like black, navy, gray or khaki and then purchase some great accessories for a burst of color. And, you should also absolutely LOVE every item in your closet. If you don’t, get rid of it. Personally, I don’t wear dresses or blazers. I’m not wasting my items on that. Instead, I may choose an additional pair of dressy jeans and a beautiful sweater in their place.
Step 4: Pick a number. Any (reasonable) number.
You should have 24 to 40 items that can be mixed and matched to create a number of different outfits. That’s why we chose a base colors. Your 24, 33, 37 or 40 items includes shoes, tops, outerwear, pants, at least one awesome pair of jeans, skirts and a few rockin’ accessories (you don’t need to include accessories in your number). It does not need to include pajamas, workout clothes, underwear, special occasion outfits, your Sunday grubs or bathing suits.
The number pieces you decide on should be based on what works best for you. Many people find the “power of two or three” works wonders. For example; two or three pairs of jeans, two or three pairs of dress pants and two or three skirts. Then two or three pairs of dress shoes, two or three casual flats and two or three boots. Three sweaters, three t-shirts, three blouses and so on – one casual, one statement piece and one in between for each.
Caroline from Unfancy found her perfect number was 37, “9 pairs of shoes, 9 bottoms, and 15 tops. Then the remaining 4 were just enough for 2 dresses and 2 jackets/coats.”
Once you have decided on a number, stick with it; the point of this capsule wardrobe exercise is to reduce unnecessary shopping and clutter, so it is important to resist adding to your number of items.
Step 5: Pick out your current favorites.
Once you have determined how many clothing items you would like to include in your wardrobe, it is time to go through your existing wardrobe. Based upon fit, season and lifestyle, go through your wardrobe and get rid of whatever doesn’t work. Items that don’t fit in your capsule wardrobe right now, but you intend to wear again, can be put in storage. You should donate or sell unwanted items; don’t be afraid to part with pieces that simply don’t fit or don’t work for your lifestyle. You’ll feel better without them. Trust me!
Step 6: Make your shopping list.
After you’ve chopped down your existing wardrobe, decide what you need to purchase to complete your capsule wardrobe. Make a list of what you need before you go shopping. This will help you stay focused and only purchase items that fall within your wardrobe guidelines. Purchase pieces that are versatile and can be mixed with other items in your closet.
Step 7: Get some professional help.
Sign up for Stitch Fix. This styling service has done so much for my closet. I have a really hard time defining my style and finding items I feel comfortable in. When filling out your profile you will tell your stylist what kind of items you are shopping for, the fits and styles you like (and hate), your sizes, height and weight and budget.
You are then assigned a personal stylist who will take all of these things into account and send you five items to try. You can then take three days to try everything on and decide what you want to keep and send the rest back. You only pay for what you keep.
You can either let Stitch Fix send you items on a regular basis or do what I do and pick up a Fix periodically. You can always enter notes when placing your order which is a great time to tell your stylist about any specific pieces you need or events you will be attending.
The Styling Fee is $20 and that is applied towards the cost of any items you choose to keep. I’ve been using this service for around a year and they have introduced me to some great brands and styles I may not have otherwise tried. And, I don’t have to worry about whether my best sweatshirt is clean if someone rings for a dinner date at the last minute. (Awesome side note: I’m a pear shape and finding the perfect jeans has been an ongoing struggle. I’m happy to report Stitch Fix found them!)
Step 8: Stop now!
Once your capsule is complete, resist the urge to go shopping. That’s easy to do when you use a styling service like Stitch Fix. Now is the time to get creative and mix up your wardrobe items. Continue using what’s in your closet until the weather changes. When the seasons change, pull out a few new items and repeat the capsule process accordingly.
There are so many great benefits to simplifying your wardrobe, not the least of which is saving money and removing clutter. Having less in your wardrobe allows you to truly define your personal style. It lets you spend less time shopping and more time with your loved ones. It helps you make fewer regrettable, impulsive purchases, instead spending your wardrobe budget only on purposeful, creative and planned purchases. Spending less on unneeded items also allows you to spend more on just a few quality items that fit well and can stay in your wardrobe for a long time. Simplify your closet and start planning your own capsule wardrobe. And don’t forget to order your first Stitch Fix here.