Could you wear a dozen items or less – shoes, accessories, tops, etc. included – year round? Yeah, me neither. But what many people don’t realize is that this is actually the concept behind the “Capsule Wardrobe”, coined by Susie Faux in the 1970’s.
Technically, a Capsule Wardrobe consists of about a dozen mix-and-match pieces, all of which can be worn season after season, year after year. While you can add a few trendy pieces in the mix occasionally, these “capsule” items are supposed to serve as the core of your wardrobe. A great idea in theory, but I just don’t think it’s completely realistic – at least not for me. Why? Because I live in Cleveland.
Here in Ohio, the climate just varies so heavily. Many other regions are similar, if not worse off in that regard. That said, I think it’s best to build out two separate capsule wardrobes: Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Doing this will still save you money in the long run, but it will also save you the aggravation of having to find pieces that work in all types of weather/climates.
A couple of weeks ago I hit Eastwood Mall in Niles, Ohio with this in mind. The lovely people at Eastwood had given me a complimentary gift card to shop with, and I wanted to spend it wisely. To my delight, I was able to find all of the pieces I needed to put together my very own Fall/Winter capsule wardrobe. Essentially, I filled in the gaps between what I already had and what I needed. When I calculated my total spending, though, it was under $350!!!
I have to note that I did use coupons and snag some items on sale. So while the prices below may tally higher than $350, I’m certain you could find these pieces or similar on sale over the next few weeks. The holiday season is right around the corner after all! Who knows, maybe you’ll actually spend less than I did!
Once you’re done reading, please share in the comments: Have you tried building a capsule wardrobe? How’d it go? What questions do you have for me? Anything to share with other readers?! I love it when you guys speak up.
1. Basic Long Sleeve Tee: $22
For my personal capsule wardrobe, I went with a black and white striped long sleeve tunic from Old Navy! It comes in a few others and retails for $22, but I scored it for 30% off (yassss!!). Old Navy always has some sort of deal going on. So far I’ve tucked it into a skirt, I wore it with leggings and a cardigan, and I styled it with jeans… the possibilities are endless.
2. Solid Blouse: $25
I opted for this one in black from H&M (it comes in other colors, too, FYI). I linked it below along with some others I fell in love with while hunting mine down online. They are all around the same price point.
3. Classic Mini Skirt: ~$35
I loveeee houndstooth, so naturally I gravitated towards a houndstooth mini (remember what I said in this post, mini skirts are especially great for petite women)! Basic black or even camel are other solid options for a capsule wardrobe, though, as they never seem to go out of style.
4. Neutral, Fitted Blazer: $35
I got an off white blazer from H&M for my capsule collection because I figured it would pop nicely against jeans, my dark dresses, essentially my super dark winter wardrobe in general, lol. If you’re not into white, do black, camel, or navy. A combination of neutral colors in a preppy plaid is super cute, too!
5. Hoop Earrings: $38
Hoops are really in right now, but they’ve been a solid wardrobe staple more often than not over the years. Just be sure to get medium pair – nothing too big or too thick – otherwise they might date themselves. The ones below are all from Banana Republic. I’ve had really good luck with their pieces not tarnishing – at least not terribly! They come in rose gold, too, if that’s your thing!
6. Dressy Cami: $40
It doesn’t matter if it’s satin or chiffon, but a non-cotton cami can spruce up anything from slacks to distressed denim! Express always has a ton of great options. I got the one below in charcoal grey, but it comes in 9 colors total! Don’t be afraid to add some color here, especially something that will have longevity like maroon.
7. Fitted Sweater: $25
I’m all for the oversized trend, but a good-quality, well-fitted sweater always looks chic and clean. I’m so bummed the exact one I bought (the camel colored hue above) is not available online, but it does come in two other great, basic colors – black and grey. If you’re not feeling either, feel free to refer to this post on my favorite Forever 21 sweaters so far this season. There are some really great ones listed for around the same price!
8. Dark Denim: $44
Black denim is my go-to when I want to look dressy, but feel comfy. It’s also very slimming, which I can get behind. Surprisingly, the black denim I own from Old Navy is the ONLY PAIR I’ve ever purchased that hasn’t faded in a few washes (still waiting for them to fade, actually, and I wear them all the time). Madewell has a pair dyed with a special mixture so that they “stay darker, longer”, but they are $128. Might be worth the splurge, but I’d try these first since they’re $44! And if you’re not into black, just do a really dark shade of blue or even grey for your capsule! They will go with just as much.
9. Suede Booties: ~$60
I wear a lot of black, so black shoes are my default in an “only choose one” scenario. Before you buy, just think about the one color that would go with most of your wardrobe. If you’re not sure, buy a few pairs/colors and then hold each next to the clothes in your closet. Keep the ones that work with most, and then return the rest. Be sure to spray them really well!! I’ve had good luck with Sperry’s protector. Oh, and try for a bit of a heel so they are equally dressy and casual!
10. Dainty Necklace: ~$35
I got my initial pendant (this one) on sale at Nordstrom during their most recent anniversary sale. It currently retails for $68, which isn’t pricey just not the best price for the purpose of this post. However, Etsy has SOOOO many cute/quality options to choose from. It’s always great to support a maker! Here are some of my favorites for under $35.