I created a capsule wardrobe this past summer and haven’t looked back. I learned a lot about myself; about what I thought was important and how my actions were a more accurate representation of what was actually important to me. There was a lull in my excitement around week 11, but other than that, I drank the kool-aid, jumped on the band wagon and declared myself a capsule wardrobe-er for life.
Then came September, and I just couldn’t make myself do it. Originally, I had intended for my fall capsule to be for the months of September, October & November. When September came, it seemed daunting to try to find a wardrobe that worked for temperatures in September in Minnesota and November in Minnesota. And, this year, September was unseasonably warm.
So, I just kept putting it off. I’d pulled out my fall and winter clothes and shoved some of them in drawers with my other summer clothes. As September went on, I found myself wanting to have the capsule there for me, but not wanting to put the work into making the decisions to create it.
By the end of the month, my desire for the outcome outweighed my indecision. I thought through some of the reasons that I was procrastinating this and remembered why I liked this lifestyle choice and what I had learned the first time.
Lesson Learned #1: Give yourself an adjustment period between seasonal capsules.
I needed a few weeks to have my fall and winter clothes out of storage and in my drawers to choose from while getting dressed to figure out if I wanted to include them or not. And, frankly, the weather was bi-polar for the month of September, so I needed to wear shorts and a t-shirt on Wednesday and jeans and a hoodie on Thursday. Narrowing myself to one season of clothes during that month wouldn’t be helpful or the best use of what I have.
Lesson Learned #2: Just because you don’t include it in this season’s capsule doesn’t mean you will never wear it.
When I dug all of my cold-weather gear out of storage, I wanted to include it all. Over 90% of what I had landed in my ‘LOVE’ pile. I loved the way I looked and felt in almost all of my clothes, so it felt wasteful to not wear them. But there were a lot of clothing items that I dug out.
As I’ve mentioned before, there is no hard and fast rule for how many items are included in a capsule wardrobe, but I was looking at upwards of 60 items, and that seemed like it defeated the purpose of the minimalism that I was trying to achieve by creating a capsule wardrobe. As I was trying to decide what to weed out, I had a lightbulb moment when I remembered that I wasn’t choosing clothes to wear until next June; I was choosing clothes for the next 2-3 months.
I don’t have the same need for wool sweaters in October as I do in February. There will still be chilly days in October when a fall sweater will be necessary, but there will also be days when cotton t’s and even 3/4 length sweaters are appropriate as well. My frozen tundra apparel got packed back in the off-season storage and will come out in December or January and be exchanged with the lighter weight sweaters.
Lesson Learned #3: There might not be a wide variety between two seasons of capsule wardrobes.
This is largely dependent on the climate in which you live, and the temperature differences for which you need to account. My fall and winter capsule wardrobes will look very similar. I’d guess that over half of the items in my fall wardrobe will be included and winter, and even more so, my spring capsule may very well be a carbon copy of my fall wardrobe because fall and spring temperatures in Minnesota are so similar.
And that’s okay.
When I realized that this was bothering me, I had to remind myself of why I became a capsule-er in the first place; to be intentional about only buying clothing that I love to wear and not accumulating more than I need.
Lesson Learned #4: Be realistic about what you wear.
I struggled trying to decide what pieces to weed out of my fall capsule because I genuinely loved everything I had. Then, about two weeks into September, I realized that I was wearing 20% of my wardrobe 80% of the time.
I loved everything hanging in my closet, but a lot of what was in my closet wasn’t realistic for what my day-to-day looked like. This wasn’t a lesson that was new to me. I learned it my first go-round, but I had to re-remember it this time.
If I’m honest with myself, I think it’s because I miss the lifestyle that warrants that style of wardrobe and I want to wear some of those pieces more.
I have a few silk blouses that I love. They look great, and I feel great when I wear them. But I’m not wearing them on Monday when it’s my day home with the kids and there’s a high likelihood paints and markers will be used. My lifestyle dictated that I have more cotton long-sleeve t’s and sweatshirts than blouses, but it was hard to admit that. I didn’t get rid of those items entirely, but I included less of them so that I could include more casual items.
I spend 20% of my days in an office, so approximately 20% of my wardrobe is office-wear.
Lesson Learned #5: Start with shoes, bottoms & layering pieces and go from there:
I found this to be the easiest way to get the ball rolling. I chose shoes, bottoms and layering pieces and those totaled 25 items. I had 45 items in my summer capsule and I decided that I could have a few more items in my fall capsule wardrobe (the need for layers in the fall justified this decision for me), but didn’t want to exceed 50 items total. So, with 25 shoes, bottoms and layering pieces, that meant I could choose 20-25 tops. That sounded like a lot to me. Turns out that it was really hard to stay within those parameters.
Again, I didn’t include accessories in my capsule. This was a non-issue in the summer because I don’t really have summer accessories, but I did consider it for the fall because I own and frequently wear scarves. I decided not to include scarves because, frankly, there was no way I could include all of the tops and scarves I wanted and still call it a capsule wardrobe.
Maybe that’s cheating, I don’t know. If you don’t hear from me for a couple weeks, check to make sure that the capsule police haven’t come to arrest me.
Now, after a month of pondering and days of decisions, here is the final product.
My Fall Capsule wardrobe. A total of 48 pieces.
11 pairs of shoes (23%), 9 bottoms (19%), 5 layering pieces (10%) and 23 tops (48%).
To see photos of daily outfits created from this capsule, follow me on Instagram.