I love following style bloggers and influencers and one thing I hear and see people share about all the time is the capsule wardrobe.
Most people I know have way more clothes than what is shown in a capsule wardrobe and I don’t know anyone who only dresses in neutrals.
A capsule wardrobe seems like a lofty goal and I would love to edit my wardrobe and have pieces that fit me perfectly and that I can wear and interchange with one another.
But no matter how hard I try I always end up with a lot more clothes than I will ever actually wear.
In the same way that people try diets, I have tried to slim down my closet leaving me with only what I love. This process has left me scrambling to add in more basics after getting rid of them because I thought I didn’t need that many, getting rid of clothes I loved because I did the hanger trick and if I didn’t wear them in the last year I would get rid of them.
When I started shopping for Ellery’s closet I knew that I wanted to fill it with great basics for you to choose from because those are the building blocks of a wardrobe. When I started writing clothing descriptions I realized that I had been interpreting capsule wardrobes all wrong.
I do have certain styles and colors that I am drawn to and when I go to make an outfit I am reaching for similar things all the time but my wardrobe is not as heavily curated and nor does it include all the same pieces that keep getting shown to me on Instagram.
I think we just have to get better at shopping for our own closets! It’s like the Wizard of OZ and we are Dorothy realizing we’ve been home all along, we don’t need to buy all new clothes or try colors we won’t ever wear, we just have to get curious about the stuff we already like!
I’ve been into style and trying to work in style staples into my closet my whole life and it wasn't until now at thirty that I really understand what it means. We have been thinking about capsule wardrobes all wrong. So let me share with you what I have learned.
First- Go into your closet and group all “like” things together:
Maybe you are a much more organized person than me and already do this. Long sleeve shirts altogether, dresses, tops, etc.
Now, look at the colors and patterns of all the items you have in there. For instance, when I look at my long sleeve shirts I can see that I like a couple of chambray, a white button-down, a black button-down, and some flannels and a couple of henley's.
Now that you have grouped like with like and are noticing colors, patterns, and materials that take note because you know yourself best and it’s important to learn what you like and what you will actually wear.
Do this with all categories of your clothes, like with like, and start looking to see what trends you notice in your own closet.
Step 2- Try on what you don’t wear and figure out why you don’t wear it
This part involves some work but now take out the pieces that you don’t wear regularly. I know we all have special occasion stuff, and items for job interviews so keep all that, so you don’t have to buy it again.
But all the other shirts that you don’t immediately grab, again and again, take those out and you are gonna try them on.
As important as it is to figure out why you like something, it’s important to figure out why you don’t like something as well.
Here are some things to consider-
Fit- How your clothes fit matters because if there is a fit problem it most likely means you won’t wear it, and I’m not just talking about size. I continue to buy button-down shirts in a size too small for my chest because I always have gaping or buttons popping undone. This leaves me frustrated every time I wear the shirt because I am not trying to give the world a show every time I leave my house.
Here are some other questions I have asked myself when doing this process:
Does this item of clothing require a different type of bra that you don't normally wear?
Does it always slip off your shoulder and drive you crazy?
Does this material make you sweat, or is itchy, or too clingy?
Do I have to wear an extra layer under this to make it work? Do I like wearing an extra layer under this to make it work?
Is it too short-waisted? Too long?
I always love a dolman sleeve but you know what? I will never end up wearing that top because I don’t end up liking the shape on me. Same with a scoop neck, I will never wear it, but I do like a V-neck because those are the shirts that I keep grabbing. So here is what I ask myself when considering style and shape.
Is it a style you wanted to try and was trendy but you know it’s not for you?
What styles are you noticing in the clothes you already have?
When you make an outfit what is your aesthetic? Trendy? Comfy Athleisure? A Mix? Colorful and fun?
This isn’t about finding a new style and there is no wrong answer. Skinny jeans will never be out of style. My love of fashion has shown me that the most stylish people all dress in a “uniform” so what’s yours?
Anna Wintour loves a floral A-line dress and a cardigan. What do you Love?
I love having a defined waist. It’s the shape that I always feel most comfortable with. And that is whether or not I’ve tucked my shirt into high-waist mom jeans, or am wearing a wrap dress, or I like I semi- crop top and high leggings. All clothing that doesn’t give me this shape is clothes I notice that I don't really wear or I don’t feel comfortable in.
Color- We all have colors we have been told we look good in so we buy them and then don’t grab them because we don’t feel comfortable in them. For example, I will never wear navy. I love the color, but for whatever reason, never will I ever wear it.
Look and see if there are any colors you notice that keep ending up in your don't wear pile.
Do you love the color but it’s not working for you? Can you try it in a shade lighter or darker, would that be better?
Step 3- Now that you’ve done all this homework hang up only what you constantly grab for in your closet.
What are you noticing?
How are you feeling?
Are you feeling inspired?
Are you realizing you have a lot to work with?
Are you realizing that you’ve been having a hard time because you are missing some basics?
Are you realizing all you have are basics and you could use some fun statement pieces?
All of this is to say that there are no fashion rules. Trends come and go, and fashion changes, but style is YOU. It’s what you like, what you love, and what brings you joy. That’s all clothes should be doing.
It’s easy to find it frustrating but always know that everyone looks best in what they are most comfortable with and that you already know what you love and like, its just a matter of taking note of your own clothes.
My capsule wardrobe is floral dresses, some more masculine jackets/blazers/ Cozy flannels, and super feminine tops for summer. I have a couple of graphic t’s I like to mix in I have a few big sweaters and some new skirts that I have been playing around with. And everything in my closet now feels like me and is allowing me to rediscover my style at thirty and also be able to wear, wash, and repeat all my favorite things.