“I wish I had an actual wardrobe instead of just a closet of clothes,” I thought to myself as I glanced over shirts I never wore. Little did I realize I was about to get so much more than I wished for as I discovered a simple capsule wardrobe formula.
A Simple Capsule Wardrobe Formula
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I’d heard of Get Your Pretty On from the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle my book was in earlier that year. After trying the free outfit challenge in that bundle, I typed “Get Your Pretty On” in the search bar and signed up for the Summer Outfit Formula.
I shopped my closet as much as possible, then filled in the gaps with new pieces from Target and T.J. Maxx to create my first Summer capsule wardrobe.
This was also the Summer Matt and I drove our daughter from Texas to California. And, I swear to you, part of the fun of that trip was planning, and wearing, outfits from the capsule wardrobe formula.
By the end of the Summer, I felt so much better about my simplified wardrobe, and myself, that I signed up for the Fall Outfit Formulas. I’ve signed up for every capsule wardrobe formula since.
In the process, I’ve learned a few things about curating a capsule wardrobe, no matter the season, that I want to pass on to you.
How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe
If it’s not a heck yes, it’s a no. This tip is straight from Get Your Pretty On, and after some trial and error, I’ve proved her right.
Your time, money and self-esteem are too valuable to spend on a quick fix. This tip also applies to clothes you already own that you don’t wear or that don’t fit. Do yourself a favor and donate them. You deserve to feel pretty in your clothes.
Take your time. There is a movement in fashion called slow fashion. This simply means being more intentional about buying quality items less often. It also means waiting to find the heck yes piece instead of just buying something to a piece off your capsule wardrobe checklist.
It’s worth taking your time to find pieces that will last a long time as well as meet all your requirements.
Know what you like and don’t like – You’ll discover your preferences over time. Over the past few years, I’ve realized I am very picky about how fabric feels on my skin and have figured out which fabrics to avoid.
I know v-necks and halter necklines are the most flattering for me, so other necklines are out. I’ve also discovered I prefer a 5” inseam for shorts, and that I’m most comfortable wearing a high rise waist.
Knowing what you like and don’t like will save you time, money and stress as you curate your capsule wardrobe.
Curate a color palette – I like to wear black and I cannot lie. I used to feel embarrassed by that, now I embrace it. But, I’ve also learned which colors I both enjoy wearing and that best compliment my skin tone and coloring.
Now, my color palette includes navy blue, cobalt blue, yellow, olive, gray, white and a small dose of pinks. The great thing about this is so many colors are considered neutrals and can be mixed and matched to optimize your capsule wardrobe.
What should be in a capsule wardrobe. I think the concept of a capsule wardrobe conjures up ideas of minimalism, but you don’t have to subscribe to the minimalist wardrobe concept to enjoy a capsule wardrobe. Your capsule should have as many pieces as you deem necessary. And, you don’t need to count shoes, scarves, belts or jewelry.
Regardless of how many pieces you include, every capsule wardrobe formula begins with basic staples and builds from there.
Get to know your favorite brands – Over time, you’ll find what brands fit and flatter you best. You’ll also learn what is quality and what isn’t, which, by the way, is not dependent on brand names nor price.
My favorite t-shirt brand is one from T.J. Maxx with the A New Day line from Target being a close second.
Another note about brands. You might find that creating a capsule wardrobe leads to supporting brands that align with your personal values, whether that’s ethically sourced, vegan, eco-friendly, all sizes inclusive, or something else.
Be resourceful – First and foremost, shop your own closet. If you’re following an Outfit Formula, step out of the box and substitute with what you have, or skip it altogether.
Also, feel free to create your own outfit formulas. For example, I decided to wear dressier blouses with denim shorts and more fitted tops with flowy bottoms. So those formulas would be:
- dressy blouse + denim shorts
- fitted top + flowy/loose bottoms
- loose top + fitted bottoms
I use that last formula for everyday wear since that’s what I feel most comfortable wearing. It’s also best for my body shape.
If you do need to shop, try resale stores. I always check Thredup. Others love Poshmark. I’ve also found affordable clothing at discount sites and stores like Jane.com, and of course Target, Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. I typically get seasonal trend pieces at these stores. If I’m buying a basic staple piece at any of these stores, I look for quality fabrics and workmanship as well as a good fit. I want my staples to last a long time.
I also recommend using a tailor to alter pieces you love but are maybe too long in the legs or sleeves. As a petite person, I have to do this a lot.
I get tips a lot of tricks and inspiration for styling my wardrobe from:
- Audrey Coyne – You’ll enjoy watching Audrey if you like basic wardrobe staples, and classic style with a little bit of prep. She also shares great tips for caring for your clothes, finding expensive brand names secondhand and exploring your color palette.
- Alyssa Beltempo – Alyssa also has a very classic style, but with a bit of an edge. She shares sustainable, slow fashion philosophy and resources. I love her one piece multiple ways videos.
- Frederique Bros – Frederique is originally from France and currently lives in Australia. She shares fashion tips with a French twist.
- Lindsay Albanese – Lindsay shares all the styling secrets from her former job as a celebrity stylist. She’s fun, energetic and has a more youthful personal style.
- and of course, Get Your Pretty On – As the creator of Outfit Formulas, Alison is the queen of mix and match style created from a core of basic pieces with a few seasonal trends thrown in, no matter your size, age or budget. Really.
Benefits of a Capsule Wardrobe
After gathering inspiration and finding my way through these tips over the past few years, I no longer have clothes that don’t fit, or that I don’t love.
I have so much fun using capsule wardrobe formulas as inspiration to mix, match and style my clothes in ways that fully express who I am on the inside.
The most surprising benefit of creating a capsule wardrobe is how this simple form of self-expression has boosted my self-confidence. I would love for you to join me on that journey.
For more help organizing your closet read:
and for general household organization, check out my book, Home on Purpose: Mindful Living in a Hectic World