Creating a "Capsule Wardrobe"

This is the first time I've actually consciously created my wardrobe. 

Minimalist style and capsule wardrobes caught my attention a few years ago as they started gaining popularity on Pinterest. People would post an arrangement of pieces that could theoretically be matched into multiple outfits. I kept the idea in my mind when I went shopping, created inspiration boards for how I wanted my wardrobe to evolve, and read books on expressing oneself through fashion.

See: I Love Your Style, Parisian Chic, The Curated Closet to name a few. 

In case your are 100% unfamiliar with a capsule wardrobe, Caroline of Un Fancy states elegantly:

 
Coined in the 70’s by London boutique owner, Susie Faux, it’s all about dressing with a small collection of seasonally appropriate, mix-and-match clothes.
 

There are a lot of blogs out there that are entirely about capsule wardrobes.

You can find innumerable tips and lists and videos all about the creation of a capsule wardrobe. However, going through it is messy - a list doesn't prepare you for that. For years, I was "trying" to minimize and simplify my wardrobe (for the psychological/performance enhancing benefits alone), be more conscious of my consumption (buying quality, choosing a classic to wear long-term, etc), and to be truly voting with my dollars. It's clear to me that I was expecting a list or a worksheet to tell me everything I needed to know, how to budget for it, how to let go of pieces you love but never wear, and how to allow myself to feel comfortable in my own skin.

See: The True Cost - a documentary that will change the way you look at fashion (forever). 

This is how I'm starting to create my capsule wardrobe. I'll write posts along the way, share what worked, what didn't, and what I discovered. 


I started by defining my personal style in words.

COLORS

  • White
  • Black
  • Grey (dark, light, heathered)
  • Oatmeal
  • Green (olive/drab, hunter)
  • Navy
  • Denim (worn light & dark)
  • Mustard
  • Maroon
  • Plum
  • Rust
  • Blush

ADJECTIVES

  • Comfortable
  • Functional
  • Compact and minimalist
  • Natural
  • Simple
  • Refined
  • Sturdy
  • Quality
  • Unique
  • Modest
  • Versatile
  • Non-specific
  • Timeless

MATERIAL

  • Linen
  • Cotton
  • Wool
  • Denim
  • Leather
  • Canvas
  • Chiffon
  • Lyocel/Modal
  • Suede
  • Silk
  • Spandex/Lycra

TEXTURES & FEELS

  • Knit
  • Flowy
  • Billowy
  • Sinewy
  • Light
  • Cozy
  • Sturdy
  • Warm

My most common environments to dress for: 

Upscale, sometimes chilly, hipster co-working space

Working from home / casual day clothing

Warm Florida evenings out for dinner + cocktails

Yoga - rock climbing - running - swimming

Simple, versatile, chic travel wear

Bike commuting at noon in modern professional casual

 

Then, I created a master style board in Pinterest as the compendium for all my inspiration:

This could use some clarification.

This compendium created the basis for four seasons and more in the realm of capsule wardrobes. To keep things simple, I've chosen my first capsule to be a "warm weather" capsule for the otherwise two-season Florida weather. We're coming up on hot after a lovely break of chilly. If I can wear the same capsule clothing until I get to Tennessee in July, I'll be in great shape.

Using a few tools from my books and from capsule wardrobe specialists: All That Is She & Un-Fancy - I pared down to a list of key items I needed in my capsule:

Items with an * would only occur once but could be a variety of colors

BLACK

  • Thin slacks
  • Leggings
  • Silk tank
  • Tee
  • Shirt dress
  • Day-to-night dress

STRIPES

  • Weathered button-down
  • Tee or 3/4 sleeve

COLOR POP

  • Midi skirt
  • Tunic
  • Tank
  • Linen or gauze scarf
  • Rain jacket

WHITE

  • Tee
  • Button-down
  • Silk tank or short sleeve
  • Swim cover-up*

CAMEL (LEATHER + VEGAN)

  • Sandals
  • Tote
  • Purse
  • Belt

ACCESSORIES

  • Swim suit
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • French market tote

DENIM

  • Shirt
  • Smock
  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Jacket

CHAMBRAY

  • Shirt
  • Dress

GREY OR NAVY

  • Pullover
  • Cover-up*
  • Cotton dress
  • Cardigan

SHOES:

1.) Sandals*  2.) Canvas walking shoes 3.) Linen wedges 4.) Loafers 5.) Scandinavian clogs 6.) Rain boots

 
 

Once I had a clear roadmap for curating the visual prompts for my capsule, I felt confident to create a board that reflected what the finished shopping list would look like.

 

I realized through my searches and through combing the pieces list that I actually owned a fair amount of these pieces. Some of them needed replacing, but I found myself looking at what would have been a 40+ piece investment to more like 15 - 20 pieces, with at least 5 of those being "nice to have" replacements. 

One thing I really can't wrap my head around is buying clothing online. Truly, I feel this way about buying much of anything online that isn't an easy to discern book or some kind of mass-made utensil. As tech-savvy and adventurous as I am, the way I connect with something is based on how I feel with it. When I try something on, pick something out, decide whether or not to bring something into my life, I want to know it well, first.

Could I possibly build the remainder of my capsule wardrobe locally? 

CLOTHING BOUTIQUES IN ST PETERSBURG THAT STOCK MY STYLE (AND MY STIPULATIONS)

Stipulations being:

  • Sweatshop-free
  • Conscious/reputable maker
  • Ethically sourced materials

Preference given to:

  • Fair trade
  • USA made
  • Female or community empowerment
  • Handmade
  • Organic
 

This is where I am in the process of creating a capsule wardrobe. 

I haven't gone on a shopping spree, I certainly didn't start off with every item I want to include, and I can't say I'm all that ready to pack away some of the non-fitting pieces that I love to watch take up space in my closet. I also have no idea what this will cost and if it's possible to do this local, affordable, and in a before leaving Florida in July.

As I build my wardrobe, I'll update with outfit posts, boutique highlights, maker features, and share the experience authentically along the way.

What I'm most excited for are the possibilities I'm creating from the minimizing and specification of my wardrobe: 

  1. Less time spent crafting outfits that allow me to express myself

  2. Greater confidence in my relationship to my environments through self-expression

  3. A deeper understanding and ability to speak to the importance of conscious consumption in the fashion + textile realms

Until next time; always with gratitude,

Amelia