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Why I’m Revisiting Capsule Wardrobes

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I feel as though I’m in a funny stage of life, clothing-wise. I touched on it a little bit in this post, but especially as we’ve progressed into summer, I’ve been struggling more and more with really liking what I’m wearing. A few weeks ago, I sat down to get to the bottom of this discontentment, and here’s what I realized:

  • Casual clothes are by FAR the most practical thing for me to wear, but I tend get more excited about dressier pieces and then spend my money there.
  • I haven’t replaced many of my casual staples in years (some since early college, yikes!), and since they’re pieces I wear a lot, they are not in the best condition.
  • Even though I have been at my pre-pregnancy weight for awhile now, my body shape is a little bit different, so some of my clothes don’t look quite right anymore.
  • We hope to have a big family, and I sometimes get overwhelmed by the idea of dressing through the pregnancy–>nursing/post-partum–>back to “normal” cycle for the foreseeable future.

I absolutely don’t say any of this to complain. My closet is FULL and I am sincerely grateful that my “struggle” here is finding clothes that I like and that look good on me, not whether or not I have anything to wear at all. The Gospel reading a few days ago, just as I was mulling over all this, reminded me (for the hundredth time, and Lord knows I’ll continue to need the reminder):

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness,* and all these things will be given you besides.”

Matthew 6:25-33

Amour Vert striped tee

I enjoy style, shopping, and putting outfits together…and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Just like my friend Emily said on Instagram in response to that Gospel, God made me with a creative heart and it’s okay that I appreciate those things as long as I stay focused on what truly matters most. And that’s the thing I’ve realized…I don’t want my clothing to be a distraction from my life.

Since I have been blessed with the privilege of being able to (slowly!) buy all the clothes I could need, I want to make those decisions more carefully and invest wisely in things that I feel comfortable and confident in and that fit my lifestyle. I want an edited wardrobe so that I can get dressed quickly and start my day, ready and dressed for adventure and leisure and joy. And, thanks to the influence of some sweet friends of mine (hi, Claire, Emily, and Valerie!), I want to choose ethically made clothing as often as possible. (Hint: this includes buying pre-owned clothes on Poshmark–I’ve found a handful of pieces new with tags or in practically perfect condition over the last few years, so now I ALWAYS check there before buying anything off the rack.)

Phew…all that to say, I’m revisiting the idea of capsule wardrobes, but more in the sense that I want a capsule wardrobe lifestyle. Instead of having a closet full of items that don’t necessarily fit my needs or style anymore, I hope to work toward a small, intentional collection of warm weather clothes and a small, intentional collection of cold weather clothes. I also want to create true capsule collections for pregnancy and nursing…maybe eventually one each for warm and cold weather too, because like I said, we want lots of babies so I may need it :)

So how do I get there? I certainly don’t have the budget to overhaul my closet in one fell swoop, so here’s the process I’m going with:

1. Get. Rid. Of. Stuff. I did a big closet cleanout a few weeks ago (there are still some pieces left on my Instagram closet sale account if you’re interested) and think I’m going to do a little more…I’m coming for you, t-shirts! In general, I want my future rule to be that for any one thing I add to my closet, two things need to go.

2. Really hone in on my overall style. Honestly, I’ve had a pretty good definition of my personal style for awhile…but the challenge this year has been meshing that with my lifestyle. I started a secret Pinterest board and forced myself to only add looks to it that I could actually wear on a day-to-day basis, not just things I would like to wear in my alternate, much-more-glamorous life, ha! A few recurring items: lots of solid and striped t-shirts (bonus points for a pretty detail like a ruffle sleeve or eyelet hem), casual shorts, skinny jeans, statement flats, delicate gold jewelry, and fun sunglasses.

3. Make a list of the pieces I want to add to my closet. I purposefully did this step while IN my closet, not in front of my computer where I could be reminded of new arrivals and trends! Rather, this only includes any staples that need replacing due to being worn out or not fitting, as well as the pieces that I consistently “wish I had.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve often stood in my closet thinking “I wish I had XYZ to wear today,” and if something pops into my head at least weekly, I put it on the list. A perfect example: a pair of neutral wedges or block heels, since I never replaced a pair I wore out years ago. I’m posting the ones I finally bit the bullet on in an outfit post on Thursday!

4. Prioritize and budget. Tops have consistently been my biggest challenge, so for my first new additions, I headed to my favorite ethical clothing companies (Amour Vert, Everlane, Flourish Market) and made note of a few new shirts to buy throughout this summer. There are definitely more pieces I want to add to my summer collection eventually, but especially if I’m buying high quality, ethically made pieces, I expect them to last…giving me plenty of time to build the “capsule.”

5. Experiment with accessories. Like I mentioned, a few recurring things I noticed in my pins were dainty gold jewelry and fun sunglasses. While I’m still working on building up the core pieces of my wardrobe, I’ve been trying to be more intentional about accessorizing. It’s an easy and affordable way to dress up the neutral basics I always gravitate toward…and to add some personality to pieces I don’t particularly love anymore. Stella & Tide sent me a few necklaces (one of which we’re giving away here!) a few weeks ago and I have been wearing them literally every day!

I’m sure I’ll come up with even more thoughts as the summer goes on, but I’ll leave it at that for now :) What is your relationship with clothes like? There’s no wrong answer! I think it’s fascinating how many different ways people approach shopping, making clothing decisions, and getting dressed in a way that works for their lives and I would love to learn from your experience.

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  1. Allison

    June 26th, 2018 at 10:17 am

    Yes! I love this so much. I find that I am just leaving the pregnancy->nursing->postpartum stage of life and my body hasn’t been “mine” for more than three years. I’m stuck in the place of trying to love my body the way it is and purchasing clothes to suit me well (I’m not even sure what that means or looks like for me) and wanting to get back “to my old self.”

    I would much prefer to live in your day-to-day outift, but working in a church I must dress up some. I struggle to find ways to seamlessly “mesh” the two styles.

  2. Mary

    June 26th, 2018 at 11:41 am

    I have definitely implemented my own capsule. I credit that in part to my discovery of the style site “Classy Yet Trendy”. The blogger, Leanne, publishes capsule wardrobe ebooks each season, based on a specific style (SAHM, work wear, French minimalist) and gives suggestions on styling/outfits and links to the pieces she suggests. I actually haven’t purchased a book yet, but I have gotten a lot of inspiration on using the clothes I already own by making different outfits/new combinations. I’ve also gotten rid of a lot too. I love the fact that less clothes means less to clean and a tidier closet! Also, with warm weather year-round, my base wardrobe doesn’t change much from season to season, so it has been easy to implement.

  3. Kristina

    June 26th, 2018 at 11:54 am

    Great post, Lisa! The traditional idea of a capsule wardrobe with a certain number of pieces for every season doesn’t really work for me. But I have curated my closet in the last couple of years in a way that it now has a consistent color palette of 4-5 colors that work year around. The consistent color palette has definitely helped me to stay away from impulse purchases regarding new trends which I might only like for a season or two.
    Switching over to ethically made clothes is definitely something I have been pursuing as well. And second hand shopping. Never though I would be one to like that but we have similar platform in Germany as the one you mentioned and I have been able to find a lot of brand new pieces there as well.

  4. India

    June 26th, 2018 at 11:59 am

    Love this! I have the opposite problem – I *forget* to buy clothes and end up spending money on things I don’t need more of right now (like fast food or books when I already have at least 50 I haven’t read yet) but when I’m ready to dress up and feel nice, I end up stressed because I feel like I have nothing to wear. I think I might try a capsule wardrobe, too! So I can always know the few things in my closet are things I really enjoy wearing. Thanks for these tips!

  5. Dana

    June 26th, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    Fortunately (maybe?) I don’t like online shopping and don’t prioritize time to go shopping, so I feel like I don’t buy as many things as I used to. I’ve learned that I like wearing dresses, black jeans, and a work appropriate top to school best and that those dresses can then be worn to church, date night, etc. and most of my shirts work well with shorts in the summer time. I’ve always been an accessories lover, but I finally decided I had bought too many pieces that I’m not enjoying them all enough so it was time to press pause on buying.

  6. Emily

    June 26th, 2018 at 11:16 pm

    I’m a work from home small business owner and mom of an almost two year old, so I understand what you mean about your alternate, more glamorous life! I found that I don’t need as many work clothes as I did when I was in a traditional corporate PR job, so I sold a lot of those and only kept the must have pieces. I am constantly editing my closet by season and getting rid of things I don’t wear. I also use the Stylebook app to keep track of my wardrobe. It’s a great $5 investment! At the end of a season, anything that hasn’t been worn goes in a consignment bin for the next year. I live in a state with all four seasons, so I have to rotate clothes from attic to bedroom four times a year, which is super annoying, but also really helps to pare down the wardrobe! I wear mostly Lilly Pulitzer because I love the colors, so my day to day uniform in the summer is a Lilly top and shorts. I invest more in those and then pick a few choice dresses throughout the year. I also tend to wear things for years because they are so well made, so I really don’t have to replace a lot each season. Just a few choice pieces that need an update. I buy and sell mostly on the Lilly Facebook groups, which I never really thought about as being ethical or eco-friendly until I read your post, but I suppose it is! I also tend to stick with neutral shoes, jewelry and bags (pink, gold and navy are my neutrals) so I can wear them with everything. Look into Stylebook if you haven’t before. It really helped me see what I wear, and forced me to sell, consign or donate those pieces I hung onto “just in case.” You can track your whole wardrobe, when you wear it, make outfits, etc. I love it. Hope this helps a little! Good luck! ????

  7. Jennifer

    June 28th, 2018 at 12:18 am

    How did you decide which items to get rid of? I have so many old items that I know I should get rid of, but can’t seem to part with.

    LOVE the tip about making a list of adds while in the closet and not in front of the computer. So often I find myself missing basic things I feel like I should have and online shopping is probably the culprit! I’m going to do this if I can ever declutter my closet :)

  8. Lisa

    July 10th, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    I think I’ve just been RELENTLESS about if I really wear something or just wish I did (#wishiwaswearing ;)) and which pieces I have worn out and need to replace, no matter how much I love them. Honestly, selling things instead of donating them also helped me finally part with some things…I liked knowing I was making a few dollars to replace those pieces :)

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  10. Darby

    June 28th, 2018 at 11:23 am

    I’ve been wanting to do a capsule wardrobe for the past couple of years. When I found out I was pregnant, I put it on the back burner. Now, I’ve been nursing for almost 7 months. It’s very difficult to find nursing friendly options, so I kind of feel like I’m using a capsule wardrobe because I tend to wear the same pieces everyday. I need to work on falling into the trap of trendy pieces and stick with what I know I’ll actually wear.

  11. Lisa

    July 10th, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    I always say that pregnancy (without an unlimited maternity clothes budget, haha!) is like the smallest, strictest capsule wardrobe, and nursing is not much different! Check out the Capsule Wardrobe Planner on Unfancy–I’ve used it both times I’ve done capsules now and it is SUPER helpful :)

  12. Jess Rose

    June 30th, 2018 at 9:46 am

    Great article! I’ve been going through a similar thing of realising that I’ve just goot many clothes in my wardrobe. About a year ago i sent arund 80% of them off to charity as i had never worn them before. And now i’m trying to hone in on my style and add timeless pieces to my wardrobe thatcan be worn for years. This style might not be for you, but i found this site that has loads of ethical clothing brands that i like http://www.compareethics.com I’d say have a look there if it fits your style

  13. Lisa

    July 10th, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    Thanks so much for the recommendation–I can’t wait to take a look! :)

  14. Autumn

    July 14th, 2018 at 7:01 am

    Thank you for this post! I have been struggling with my fashion identity so much since having my little lady. It was so helpful to know that someone else was experiencing the same thing and how they were solving it.

  15. Lisa

    July 26th, 2018 at 6:26 am

    I hope this post was encouraging! I’m still definitely in the midst of figuring out my new style but the changes I have made so far have been so good for my comfort and confidence in this new season of life as a mom :)

  16. Barbara Reeves

    July 21st, 2018 at 3:29 am

    Great post, Lisa!
    I’ve been nursing for almost 8 months. It’s very difficult to find nursing friendly options, so I kind of feel like I’m using a capsule wardrobe because I tend to wear the same pieces everyday.Can you tell me where i can found this? Thanks in advance for your answer.

  17. Lisa

    July 26th, 2018 at 6:19 am

    Nursing clothes definitely felt like a capsule wardrobe to me too! I used the free printable wardrobe planner from Unfancy, which you can find here: http://www.un-fancy.com/capsule-wardrobe-101/free-printable-wardrobe-planner/ :)

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