Fashion (My Style) · Shopping · Simply Wardrobing · Wardrobe Remix

The “Capsule” Wardrobe Experience (What I’ve Learned & Where I’m Going)

Hello, friends!

Fall is just around the corner here in Michigan! I can feel it in the mornings as I load the kid into his carseat…that clear, crisp, cool air that simply refreshes the soul…the beautiful blue skies dotted with perfectly white clouds…and the fact I can wear layers again and feel GOOD in them (and NOT as if I’m going to melt into a sweat puddle right then and there (at 8:00am…that’s just OBSCENE!!).

So, of course, this means that I can now begin to fully implement my Fall 2016 Wardrobe, which I have been planning for the past 3 weeks. I mentioned in my last post that I had finalized my Summer 2016 “capsule” wardrobe with just a couple of weeks left before September brought fall (or was SUPPOSED to bring fall…hadn’t arrived yet! #epicfail). I realized that in this (LOOOOOOONG) process of building said summer wardrobe I picked up on some interesting lessons that I thought I would share, in case there are others reading this blog who are dealing with the same hangups I did.


What I Learned: With my very first “capsule wardrobe” experience, I wanted so badly to “get it right.” I’m a recovering perfectionist, and I still struggle with the need to get everything right the first time around. The problem with this? My wardrobe “planning” lasted pretty much through the entire summer. It’s true that it was the first time in two years I had purchased summer clothes due to pregnancy and the baby weight-loss process, but I feel like I totally lost my way in following the purpose and spirit of the capsule wardrobe…all in the spirit of wanting to “perfect” my summer wardrobe.

Photo 20160704, 7 44 38 PM

Where I’m Going: So for my Fall 2016 wardrobe, I made it a point to ignore on the voice in my head that screams “I NEED TO GET IT RIGHT…RIGHT NOW!!” My mantra as I was going through my pre-preggers Fall wardrobe (which, luckily, fits SO WELL now) was “it’s okay…it’s okay…perfection is not the goal…it’s okay.”

The first step in this process of relinquishing the idea of “perfection” was to drop the term “capsule” for my wardrobe. The reason for this had nothing to do with the “capsule wardrobe” concept itself. It was a way I could free myself from too many self-imposed “strict rules” and the need to have a perfect end product. After all, the REAL purpose of capsule wardrobing is to have a closet of pieces that can almost all be mixed/matched easily, expresses my own personal style, and frees me from the confusion of having a clutter-filled closet. I needed the flexibility of NOT calling it a specific name.

Apart from my whole “name game” weirdness (I’m crazy…yes, I admit it), my goal for my Fall 2016 Wardrobe is to find peace with what I have in my closet and know that I won’t know if something won’t work until I try it for an extended period of time…namely, one full season! And if something I own really doesn’t work, I can remove it from my closet at the end of the season and let it go on to the donation pile (or trash can, if it’s beyond usable).


What I Learned: Why is it that when I am looking for a specific piece in a specific cut/color/style/size/quality/material, and I can’t find it in said cut/color/style/size/quality/material, I think I HAVE to settle for what I believe is the “next best thing”? Why do I feel I HAVE to purchase this holy grail item that moment…even if the one I’m considering isn’t quite so “holy grail-ish”? This summer, I made it a point NOT to settle for “meh…it’ll work” and simply wait to shop elsewhere on another day in order to find the perfect cut/color/style/size/quality/material piece. If I can’t find it for the upcoming seasons, there’s always next season…or year. After all, it’s not as if I won’t be able to dress myself at all without these pieces. I’m supposed have a number of other pieces that work well, after all.

It was a hard habit to break, and I almost failed many times to stick to my guns. But in the end, most of the pieces in my wardrobe were items that I could say I truly LOVE and not just “works” (and never end up wearing…because, truth be told, it really doesn’t…not the way I want it to).

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Where I’m Going: So how am I applying this to my Fall wardrobe? I’ve decided that if a particular piece simply doesn’t excite me or is even just a tad off and makes me question buying it, I would not buy it at all. So, after my initial process of picking out the pieces I already owned for my Fall 2016 wardrobe, and wearing just these items for a good 2 weeks, I made a list of items I thought would take this wardrobe to the next level…

Here’s what I didn’t buy…

I was expecting this shirt to be made of flannel, but was instead a smoother, thinner material that simply did not match my expectations of it. While I did love the fit, length, and style, I couldn’t get over the fact it wasn’t of a heavier material. So…I left it in the store.

A month or so ago, I decided I would re-introduce one of my FAVORITE pieces of clothing back into my wardrobe – the denim overalls. I purchased a pair of Free People Davis Denim Overalls from ASOS. I love them…but they are definitely the baggier, traditional fit overalls. I wanted to see if I could find a black pair in a slimmer, modern fit. The Madewell Cali Overalls seemed promising, but once i tried them on, I realized that the slimmer, fitted feel was not something I enjoyed in overalls. Plus, I decided that one pair of overalls I LOVED were quite enough for me. So I gave up on the slimmer overalls option altogether.

  • A short A-line skirt in dark denim or black (no specific brand…would just seek one out while in stores)

Seriously…who was I kidding? Besides the fact I was unable to find any skirt that was the perfect combination of cut, fit, color, style, and length, did I really think I wanted to wear a skirt during a Midwestern fall/winter? Did I really want to have to go out and purchase more fleece-lined legging/tights to wear under them (which, honestly, I really hate doing in the first place)? The answer was NO, and I gave up on having a skirt in my Fall wardrobe.

I searched high and low for a pair of ankle boots that I could love just as much as the Sole Society pair I fell in love with…but at a much cheaper price. There were several I was tempted to “settle” for (there was always something amiss in each pair – comfort, style, quality, size…SOMETHING). So I ended up leaving the stores empty-handed.

  • A Black Leather Jacket

…and when I say leather jacket, I mean a REAL. QUALITY. LEATHER. JACKET!! I could have easily gone with a leather-look jacket for much cheaper…but I already had one like that in my closet I liked. I could have even bought the first jacket I saw that I thought could work, but…honestly…I couldn’t get excited about it. And if I’m about to spend $500+ on any article of clothing, I had BETTER be IN LOVE with it. So…I decided to continue my search slowly, even if it meant months (or YEARS) before I owned a black leather jacket.

Here’s what I DID buy…

The above three items were a bit of a splurge for the kind of items they were…tanks and t-shirts. I don’t like spending more than $10 on such items. But I had purchased cheaper t-shirts the seasons prior, and realized that the quality and fit no longer were to my liking. So this season, I decided to pick up just a few pricier, apparently higher quality items of this typing. Initial thoughts – I’M IN LOVE!! Now will I love them after this season is over? Only time will tell.

Remember when I said I left stores lacking a pair of those taupe or cognac ankle boots? Well, I decided that I would much rather splurge the $90 Sole Society pair than risk buying a pair I would end up never wearing and feel I need to replace down the road. They arrived yesterday, and yes, they were everything I dreamed they would be. I can’t wait to actually start wearing them (not today, since I’ll be doing some manual laboring at work).

This was by FAR the most difficult purchase I made this fall and the ultimate point of victory in attempting to break this habit of going with a “meh…it’ll work” piece. Why? This is by FAR the most expensive piece of clothing I have purchased that is NOT my wedding dress. I’m not kidding. At $215, this was the one item my inner cheapskate frugal side put up the biggest internal battle. In fact, the battle raged a good 2 weeks after my Labor Day 2016 deadline (see “Lesson #3” for details on that). But…I bought it! Ordered it this morning! Just before posting this blog post. Without a doubt, I will be sure to do a MAJOR critique once it arrives. If there is even an inkling of “weeeellllll…,” a return will likely occur fairly quickly (no pressure or anything, Cuyana! *winking emoji*).


What I Learned: This lesson goes hand in hand with the whole “you won’t get it perfect the first time” one. I realized that if I didn’t give myself a cut-off date for a given season’s wardrobe (ultimatum-style), I would go on spending all my time on websites and Pinterest “planning” my wardrobe…ALL. YEAR. LONG!! My goal for a simplified wardrobe (my “capsule” experiment) was to build a wardrobe that I did not have to plan or think about for at least a 3 months span. That OBVIOUSLY did not happen this summer, and I spent WAY too much time dreaming of the perfect “capsule wardrobe” instead of actually enjoying the benefits of a simplified wardrobe.

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Where I’m Going: Well, after my failed summer attempt, I made it a point to make sure I had a deadline for the completion of my fall wardrobe. Once I moved past that date, I would live with what I had until the next season. If needed, I could delay the switching of some lighter summer pieces for thicker fall pieces that I already own (which I did, because we’re still dealing with abnormally warm days). But my shopping and browsing had to end by my deadline. Of course, the most logical “line of demarcation” date here in the Midwest is Labor Day (which conveniently coincides with some great sales/deals). So that became my deadline, and I have stuck to it. I am done shopping for clothing for my Fall 2016 wardrobe, and will not start browsing again until my Winter 2017 wardrobe planning, which will start on December 11th.

Except for that Cuyana “Silk Tee Dress in Black”…and a belt.
I still need a belt.  *winking emoji*


What I Learned: There are so many blog posts, YouTube videos, Pinterest pins that I can get lost in that explains what, as a woman, I absolutely NEED to have in my wardrobe. I’ve gone through so many of these and have questioned time and time again whether my wardrobe was truly “complete”…because I sure don’t have that basic pencil skirt or white t-shirt or black turtleneck or well-fitting trench coat…etc…etc…and so forth. After an entire summer with a closet of clothes specifically picked out and worn constantly, I’ve come to realize that no one else can really tell me what should and should not be an “essential” in my wardrobe. They can make helpful suggestions as to what works for them and their lifestyle/body type/tastes (and they do it VERY well!). However, there is no true “essential” that NEEDS to be in EVERY woman’s closet. What actually NEEDS to be in every woman’s closet are pieces that work well together with as many of the other pieces that are in said closet…and helps her express her own style best.

That’s not to say that if you are looking for a starting point for building a simplified wardrobe with basic, mix-and-match pieces that these posts/articles/videos/pins won’t be useful. But while I allow them to set certain guidelines, I do not follow them as fashion absolutes.

This is the REAL me. T-shirt…jeans…comfy boots…utility jacket.

Where I’m Going: I’m getting pretty good at picking up tips from others regarding “essentials” without feeling I need to have everything they have. There are a couple of moments where I fell into the “I think I need that” trap (when I really don’t), but mostly, I have been able to stick with items that fit into my lifestyle and personal sense of style. I don’t need skirts in my wardrobe in chiller Midwestern months. I look TERRIBLE in pencil skirts. I don’t ever wear dress pants or other professional wear because I work in an environment that is very casual. And I know that my post-pregnancy body probably won’t allow me to wear those super-fitted LBDs like I used to be able to wear (though even when I could, I never felt comfortable in them)…which explains why I went with a black silk tee dress instead.

Finally, I have slowly begun the process of unsubscribing from emails and ads by retailers. Whether via Facebook or email, these ads of my favorite retailers always make me believe that I’m missing key “essentials” from my closet. Truth is that I’m not “missing” anything. What I have is more than sufficient. So it’s one of those “don’t call me, I’ll call you” things…except in social media/email form.

So those are the four lessons I learned from my Summer “Capsule” Experience. For those curious as to what exactly is in my Fall 2016 Wardrobe, my next post will be dedicated to the categories of pieces I included, as well as the “formula” followed in deciding on those pieces.

Until then…continuing to live and learn…and loving the process ALL THE WAY!!

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