Capsule Wardrobes have fascinated me for years. And though I’d consider my closet “minimal”, as I shop for new items very rarely, I still found myself often overwhelmed and unsure what to wear.
My personal journey to a capsule wardrobe has been winding and taken years.
It all started when I discovered Vetta Capsule (RIP). The now closed fashion retailer offered 5 pieces capsules that could be turned into 30+ outfits when worn in combination with one another. And nearly every piece could be worn more than just one way.
I am not a shopper.
I get overwhelmed to the point of anxiety in department stores and it’s even worse in thrift stores where organization seems to be non-existent. And online, I get tired of sifting through pages and pages of clothes to find the right piece. I almost never shop unless I’m looking for something very specific.
I nearly exclusively shopped at Vetta for a few years because it was a low thought way to get versatile style in my closet.
Seeing the benefits of capsule collections first hand, I began to follow bloggers on Instagram that shared either capsule wardrobes or at least slow fashion. Some of my favorites to follow have been Use Less, Ms. Beltempo, and Kelly McCoyd.
I began incorporating tips and tricks I learned from them (like having a focused palette and selecting style words to guide my choices) as well as began a note on the my phone with all the clothing items I’d “need” for a capsule wardrobe.
And then this year I threw it out the window.
Okay, not really, but I realized this exhaustive list I’d created of what I “needed” in order to have a capsule wardrobe was holding me back. I needed to jump in and just do the damn thing and then determine what (if anything) I was missing.
So I started a new list.
I used the past capsules of those bloggers I shared above to inspire me and guide me. I decided I’d have 30 pieces that I keep all year long. These are foundational items that work in all the seasons. And then each season I’ll swap in 20 (ish) additional items for each season.
By the time spring had sprung, I was ready to implement this new system. But I also like to have a backup plan.
So I packed away all the items that I wasn’t wearing this spring into different boxes. One for items I’ll add in summer, one for fall, and one for winter. The final box I filled with all the items that didn’t “make the cut” (which was more than I’d expected!). This way, if I truly miss a piece of clothing, I can still reach for it. And whatever I haven’t worn by next spring, I can consider next steps (donate, sell, keep in my sentimental box).
One of the tools I truly believe has made this possible is the StyleBook app (not an affiliate link, promise). It makes me feel like Cher in Clueless flipping through my wardrobe to pick out my outfits. I can save outfits, upload inspiration images, schedule out what I’m wearing daily (or for a trip, and it’s saved me a lot of the “I don’t know what to wear” hassle because I can see whole outfits without having to pull out a bunch of clothes and try things on.
So what’s in my Spring 2023 Capsule Wardrobe?
I mentioned I added a color palette to my wardrobe in order to help guide me to the right items to add to my closet. My closet palette is black, charcoal grey, cream, taupe/nude/tan, muted blush/rose, copper/rust, sage green, and olive green. For spring, I’m focusing on on the lighter tones so leaning heavily into the sages, creams, and taupes for a lot of items. I also have a handful of chambray/denim items that make an appearance.
My 30 base wardrobe items for 2023 are:
- Tan Trench Coat (sleeves can be zipped on/off for different looks)
- Copper-Brown Duster Cardigan
- Cropped Black Leather Jacket (this is a place holder – I want to invest in a leather jacket I love)
- Denim Jacket
- Black Silk Cami
- White Silk Cami
- Black/Olive Button Tank (this is a reversible piece, that I’ll flip with the seasons)
- Cream Textured Tank
- Black T-Shirt
- White T-Shirt
- Black & White Stripped Long Sleeve T-shirt
- White Botton Up (I have two, the lighter one will be spring/summer, heavier fall/winter)
- Chambray Button Up
- Black Hoodie Sweatshirt
- Black Cotton Mockneck Sweater
- Grey Lightweight Sweater
- Brown Ribbed Lightweight Sweater
- Black Slip Midi Dress
- Black Button Midi Dress (the top and bottom of this come apart so I can wear it a variety of ways)
- Black Leatherette Mini Skirt
- Black Trousers
- Kahaki Trousers
- Denim Jeans
- Black Jeans
- White Jeans
- Black Booties (I just ordered some leather Chelsea boots to replace my ancient suede ones)
- Tan Leather Booties
- Tan Sneakers
- White Sneakers
- Tan Suede Loafers
Now for the 20-ish pieces I’ve added for my spring wardrobe:
- Chambray Cami
- Black Tank Body Suit
- Sage T-Shirt
- Muted Blush “Brunch” T-Shirt (my version of a “graphic tee”)
- Tan & White Striped Short Sleeve Button Up
- Chambray Short Sleeve Button Up
- Cream Textured Long Sleeve Blouse
- Sage Linen Long Sleeve Blouse
- White Linen Skirt
- White Denim Romper
- Black Cape Top (it attaches to my black trousers like the button dress to make a jumpsuit)
- Navy Wrap Mini Dress
- Black T-Shirt Dress
- White & Tan Striped Midi Dress
- Black Shorts
- Tan Shorts
- Denim Shorts
- White Trousers
- Tan Leather Sandals
- Black Suede Slingbacks
- Woven & Wood Platform Wedges
Keep in mind, I’m based in Houston, Texas which was quite literally built on top of a swamp. We’ve already seen multiple days this spring break into the 90s. So my “spring” wardrobe may not feel quite appropriate for those of you who still have snow on the ground. Both Use Less (Denmark-based) and Ms. Beltempo (Canada-based) would be great resources for those of you needing more transitional spring wardrobe ideas.
There are a few pieces I’ve felt I’m missing from current full closet (even from items packed away) options:
- Tan or Cream Relaxed Button Cardigan
- Moss/Olive Green Sweater (Specifically missed that in my holiday rotation this past winter)
- Cropped Tan Knit Tank
- Mid-Wash Straight Leg Jeans (thinking I’ll go thrifting for these one day)
- Copper Silk Midi Skirt (I have the perfect spot open for this in my fall capsule)
- Black Chelsea Boots (Purchased as part of my birthday gift; will replace my old suede booties)
And while accessories don’t count toward my total wardrobe count, I have them on this vision board of sorts, to keep any shopping I do focused and intentional.
- Gold Huggies (I keep buying cheap versions that rub off or irritate my ears )
- Light Blue “Crawlers” (I got my flat pierced in January and have been looking for some cool pieces to wear)
- Black Belt (Purchased as part of my birthday gift)
I am excited for this experiment.
Seasonality is one of my focuses for this year, so this experiment with a seasonal wardrobe feels aligned. If the energy to write continues into the summer, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on my first season with the capsule wardrobe, as well as what I’m mixing in for summer.