A What Wardrobe? // Capsule Wardrobe Crash Course

Have you ever completely missed out on a movie? Like one you really wanted to see but somehow never found the time? I have several of these movies. You could probably include most of 2014's best movies/Oscar nominated films on the list of ones that evaded me.

I did not want to let that happen with Mockingjay Part 2.

Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, The Social Network, fine. But this? I had to see it in theaters...even though I couldn't remember much about the series because we hadn't bothered to marathon through it before watching the last installment like we did with Star Wars.

I was thinking about this capsule wardrobe thing after the movie. It's cool how much easier it's been to get dressed every day and probably cooler that I haven't run out of ideas yet. This outfit was one I wore to work then straight to the theater. I think it transitioned well from work to play.

But! I realized I've been throwing around this phrase without really explaining what it is. So here we go! A crash course on the Capsule Wardrobe, Part One.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

Follow me, if you will, back in time to the 1970s where Susie Faux coined the term (at least that's what my research AND Wikipedia tell me). Originally, the phrase was meant to apply to the most basic of the wardrobe pieces, not the entire wardrobe. Think your basic white button up shirt, your best fitting black slacks or pencil skirt, etc.

Flash forward like an old Taylor Swift song and we find that today the term basically refers to a wardrobe with a specific number of pieces that's worn for a certain length of time.

How many items?

There's no official limit to the number of pieces allowed in a capsule wardrobe, but the most I've seen in my internet research is 50 pieces for a three month period. I've also seen as few as 12 pieces for travel somewhere on Pinterest.

The key was finding a number that worked for me and my needs right now. My number is 40, Caroline from Unfancy’s number was 37, the Project 333 number is 33 (or less), Anushka's from Into Mind is somewhere between 20 and 30, and Colette from The Wardrobe Architect also maxes out at 33 items. Everyone leads different lives with different demands, so I took this as proof that while there is a trend to stick to 30-ish items, I by no means had to tie myself to that number.

Picking The Number

I had two options when it came to finding the magic capsule wardrobe number.

  1. Calculate how many pieces of each item I needed based on my lifestyle. Parts one and two of this post from Into Mind are very helpful. Really, Anuschka has done a FABULOUS job outlining an in-depth process for minimalist fashion/beauty/lifestyle. She's a rock star.
  2. Use someone else's number as my jumping off point. I ended up doing this and used 37 as my base number, only added season-appropriate pieces I reallllyy couldn't stand to leave out.

The takeaways

Don't feel boxed in by the numbers I've listed. If picking 65 out of 100 pieces is all you can manage, then by all means go for it! The capsule wardrobe is a tool to find our fashion voice, not a code of law. Not everyone will be a hardcore minimalist, but experimenting with levels of minimalism can be fun!

Similarly, don't feel guilty if you're not ready to take the plunge into a capsule wardrobe. It took me over a year to fully buy in to this system. If you're hitting a wall, think about creating a two week capsule wardrobe, or making one specifically for work. Better yet, use an upcoming trip as a way to start being intentional about what you pack. The simple act of paying attention to the versatility of your wardrobe items will help you make better, hopefully less impulsive decisions around your clothes.

FYI: these are not affiliate links. I just want you to know where to find something if you like it.

Top: American Eagle Boyfriend Plaid Shirt (last season, this season's here) // Jeans: Levi's Skinny Jeans  // Boots: Lucky Brand Basel Flat Booties

I really hope this was helpful. The sites above have all done excellent jobs in creating systems to build your capsule, so I won't reinvent the wheel. Check 'em out and let me know which one appeals most to you!

-- Alex