Friday, April 1, 2016

My Thoughts on a "Capsule Wardrobe"

Ok so I know the idea of the "capsule wardrobe" is nothing new... it's been around forever and came back into the fashion blog world a couple of years ago so I am very behind, I know, I know. 

I've known about this for about a year and kinda tried to implement the idea in my mind (the first step to anything is getting your mind 'round it) and kinda sorta kinda started it kinda with my makeup sorta. And by that I mean the intent was there but it didn't really work out. 

I'm someone who loves the idea of minimalism but loves the reality of having stuff. And it's SO frustrating. I fully believe that stuff equals stress and if you have less stuff overall and love every piece you are a happier person. I believe this. Fully. If you haven't read "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo I highly recommend it, and it will explain this idea in a more fully formed manner. 

If you aren't familiar with the idea of a capsule wardrobe, it's essentially this: you have 30 or 40 pieces of clothing total (including shoes and bags but not workout clothes and undies or something like that?) that are all classic, timeless pieces that mix and match. The idea behind this is that you will spend way less time in the morning getting dressed but still look amazing in anything you put on. You life is less cluttered, your morning more streamlined, and you will look great everyday without even trying.

Here's the thing. I have a massive closet full of lots and lots of clothing. Everything fits me, and everything has been in style in at least the last 3 years (lol). That sounds amazing right? But, almost all of the pieces (except the shoes and bags) are "fast fashion" pieces from places like Forever21 that really aren't classic. None of them go together; this idea of mixing and matching just doesn't apply to my closet. Most of it is bright and patterned, which again, doesn't bode well for mixing, and lots of them only can be worn with one other piece or follow a really specific trend that isn't easy to wear. Out of my entire closet, only 10% of them could be considered classic pieces, and I only wear about 20% of the stuff in there. That being said, every time I go in there to purge pieces I get stuck. I like every single thing! I don't want to get rid of anything! If I were the type of person who could wake up every morning and go in there and come out in a kooky outfit full of pieces that I love but maybe don't really go together, I would say, "That's fine! I'll keep the lot!" but I'm not. Most days I would rather wear my yoga pants or sweats all day rather than deal with my closet and trying to match things that will never match. 

Having too much stuff complicates your life in ways you don't even realize until you really sit down and think about it. Do you ever feel like you have nothing to wear even though you have a bursting closet? I feel like that is every girl right there, but it doesn't have to be that way. Alex pretty much wears the exact same thing every day. He has a few pairs of jeans, a few V-neck solid fitted tees, and a few pairs of shoes. He has a couple leather jackets and a couple sporty ones, and 2 watches, a black and a silver. Alex literally has the definition is a capsule wardrobe and doesn't even know it, cause he is a guy and guys are just like that. He literally always looks good. It takes him 2 minutes to put on his clothes and it always looks put together and polished. 

Realistically, I am not going to become a full blown minimalist with only 33 pieces of clothing and 1 drawer of makeup, that's just not me. Having said that, I think that paring down until I get to a manageable place is really important. It's not about purging just for the sake of doing it, it's more a "feeling". My feeling for doing this comes from the need to un-complicate my closet enough for me to feel like I can walk in there and put a classic outfit together in literally 2 minutes. 

I read this article on a blog somewhere that really stuck out to me. She said something like,  "I want to have the type of wardrobe that I could pack on a moments notice in one suitcase and jet off to Europe." That is the perfect summation of a capsule wardrobe.

I am majorly crushing on French inspired capsule wardrobes. The French really have fashion down. They have 3-5 classic, expensive pieces that they mix and match with other classic neutrals and literally always look chic. 

I haven't bought new clothes (with the exception of my latest Abercrombie Haul) in over a year. I'm not a shopaholic (with clothes... makeup is a different story!), I don't go to the mall every weekend to pick up new stuff, but I decided to treat myself to a new clothing haul. 

My mission was as follows: I was allowed to purchase only things that would fit into my "French Capsule Wardrobe" theme. They had to be neutral, not because I hate color, but because my current closet is bursting with color and that is part of the problem. I wanted classic and preppy pieces that would see me into summer, and even though it pained me, Forever21 and other fast fashion sites were not allowed. Part of the whole capsule wardrobe  movement involves buying more expensive pieces that will last a long time. I want to be able to "wear the crap" out of these pieces until they are worn in and loved and you can feel the memories and places it has been. This is the complete opposite of my current clothing situation, where most of my shirts have been worn only a handful of times because they are so trendy or bright or hard to pull off that you really can't wear them more than a handful of times. 

I picked Madewell as my store of choice because it's A) preppy and classic, and B) was having a sale. 30% off? Yes. Let's do this. Here is what I picked:

From top left, clockwise, The Savannah Saddlebag, Whisper Cotton Crewneck Tee, Panama Hat, Marled Graduate Cardigan, Chambray Ex-Boyfriend Shirt, Stonehold Pendant Necklace, Courier Shirtdress, The Warren Sandal, Slim Boyjean, Jersey Jumpsuit

Overall I am really happy with my selections, and plan to use this as encouragement to get rid of some of my bright pieces that will never get worn again. For every piece of bought (including those Abercrombie pieces from before) I am going to select one piece of donate. I'll keep you guys updated on my progress!

Do any of you follow the French wardrobe lifestyle? What are your key pieces that you base all of your other outfits on? 


  1. A) Can I just say that I freaking love that you are blogging again?! Please never stop!

    B) Haha, you're so right that guys just effortlessly have capsule wardrobes and don't even know it.

    C) I read on a blog post about cleaning out your closet recently: "Don't ask yourself what you can get rid of, ask yourself what you have to keep." Looking at it that way helped me SO much.

  2. I really need to do something like this because I am such an impulse buyer and always buy stuff that I either wear once, or it doesn't go with anything else I wear! I love the idea of having less clothes, but everything you do have, it can match any pair of shoes or pants. Great post Elle <3

  3. I've spent years building a capsule wardrobe from in the UK. It's certainly easier to pack for a holiday when everything is designed to go together.
    PS I miss your softly spoken late night videos about home decor hauls and new books, so I hope you'll do some of these again soon Elle :-)

  4. Try Everlane! Their clothes are great quality and made in the USA. I'm working on doing the same thing with my closet.

  5. I completely and utterly agree, 1000% !! I've wanted to have this kind of wardrobe for years now but never knew of it as a "capsule wardrobe." I don't have nearly as many clothes as you do, but I have a similar situation in that none of my clothes pair well! And I have far too many ratty t-shirts to be okay. I blame a lot of it on the fact that I'm still in college and, well, let's be honest, I'm not trying to impress anyone in my engineering school. I essentially need to buy a whole new closet this summer once I start working and I want to do this same thing!

    As far as key pieces, I think that the big thing is having bottoms that go with everything. Tops can be different and trendy and not have to "go" necessarily, so long as every top can be paired with any of your bottoms. Also having sweaters, jackets, etc. that can go with almost any piece is a must.

    Loved this post, Elle! Your blog is inspiring me so much lately! I love it!

  6. I am also going to declutter my closet this week bc I am so annoyed by all the stuff I have and never wear! First I am going to select the pieces I really love and keep them and then I am going to rethink about what's left! I think I am going to sell/donate/trash 50% of my whole closet! Going to do the same thing with my makeup, bags, shoes & knick knacks. I guess I am going to do some major spring cleaning :)

  7. I have also been in the process of transitioning into a capsule wardrobe. I moved recently and realized just how much unnecessary crap I have and have since tried to get myself in the mindset of buying quality not quantity. And one of my go-to stores now is Madewell. They have really great pieces that last long and transition really well from season to season. Keep a look out for sales and you can snag some pretty great deals. Their jeans, knits and shoes are some of the best investments.
    I agree with the other commenter about Everlane, as well!

  8. I can fit everything in a carry on, as far as my wardrobe. And I do have a lot of color, actually. I think it's important to figure out the 'why', that'll help you declutter. It sounds like you figured out why you want to do it, but also figure out why you had so much in the first place. Was it actually love of clothes or just wanting a full closet, wanting to show it off in videos, not wanting people to call you out on wearing the same stuff on instagram? (no judgment, I know fashion bloggers struggle with all of those things.) Once you figure out why you had too much to begin with, it'll be easier to part with things and also not collect more in the future! You have to let go of the mental roadblock before you can let go of the clothes.

  9. If you don't want to get rid of any of your clothes you should try putting outfits together in advance. You could either spend one evening a week putting together your outfits for the week or you could store things that go together in the same place. If you literally can't make something match something you already have you probably should just pass it on.

  10. If you don't want to get rid of any of your clothes you should try putting outfits together in advance. You could either spend one evening a week putting together your outfits for the week or you could store things that go together in the same place. If you literally can't make something match something you already have you probably should just pass it on.

  11. I'm in such a wardrobe rut right now. I have a full time job, and what works best for me is to have good quality dress pants (black and shades of grey for me), and then I can pair whatever top I want. That's worked for 12 years. But I've realized in the past year that most of my tops are the same thing in different shades--sometimes exactly the same top, sometimes just very similar. (I have more silky short-sleeved blouses and "Portofino" tops from Express than I care to reveal.) That's great for getting ready in a hurry, but I'm a little bored with it and want different styles and possibly--and this is big--a few tops with *prints*. So I suppose I have kind of a capsule wardrobe for work purposes, but I want to bring in something new, other than a jacket or jewelry, to shake things up. Basically, I have the opposite problem from you!

    The struggle.

  12. I've got what would be defined as a capsule wardrobe. All my clothes are either neutral colored (black or grey) or "cool toned" jewel toned solids in purple, blue, and green. Generally, everything goes together and outfits are a breeze. I wear a LOT of black wrap dresses.

    However, I still have clothes/closet anxiety. I get really envious of people wearing clothes that don't fit my rules that I've set up for myself. Like, "I know I look terrible in hot pink, but damn, I'd give my left pinkie to add that dress to my collection" kind of stuff.

    It's definitely a girl problem.

    It's worse because I already have anxiety problems. Though I know what colors and shapes suit me best (I'm plus-sized) I still REALLY REALLY want to follow trends to not look like a fuddy-duddy.

    Honestly, it's a "grass is greener" type thing, Elle. Just do you.

    My suggestion? Go ahead and PACK your clothes (Don't get rid of em) for 6 months. (You're in LA so the weather doesn't change much. I'm in Florida so I can relate) Only wear your "classic clothes" and things that you PHYSICALLY have to PULL OUT of storage for that time. After 6 months? Get rid of the packed clothes.

  13. I've been slowly working on building up a capsule wardrobe, I really want to love everything I own. Even having a small closet, there is so much that I just don't wear. And I feel like it hangs there and mocks me because I'm not using it and it's taking up space. I need to work on getting all my neutral pieces and then as trends change use small things for pops of color in my wardrobe, but I just can never seem to bring myself to do it. However I adore everything you bought, especially that shirt dress, it's so cute!!

    Fashion and Happy Things

  14. The "French Capsule Wardrobe" comes from a book by Jennifer Scott (she did a Ted Talk on her book, "Lessons from Madame Chic"...& it's a 10 item wardrobe as most European bedrooms don't have closets...they use armoire type furniture pieces. Jennifer also goes into the capsule wardrobe on her YouTube channel "The Daily Connoisseur"...
    I've sooo tried to cut down on my clothing...errr!!! It's hard to do when you have those pieces you adore but go with only one other thing...Good luck, Elle! I can't wait to see how you do!

  15. I just bought an expensive black dress from a swedish brand named J.Lindeberg and it fits so perfectly. The dress is really simple but it is designed in a way so that it looks super classy and elegant. I really feel like I can wear this dress anywhere. E.g. to a business meeting, to brunch/dinner, on a date... You name it. The best part is that I got it almost a third of the price. It was the last dress left in the store and it was my size. It just had my name all over it. I would have bought it full price as well. It's so worth spending a little extra because I'll wear the crap out of it like you said! Btw I love the fact that you're not MIA anymore. Xoxo

  16. I feel like when you're in the mood to declutter, it comes at just the right time to encourage me to declutter! I'm going to have to go through my closet and purge. Luckily I love dresses so they don't really need to match with anything, but there are tons of tops and pants I need to donate that never get worn.

  17. I love this! I also just read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (and How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are). Both books were inspiring especially where my closet is concerned. I think I'm going to take inspiration from both books and give it my own twist. Having a capsule wardrobe in NYC is easy (all black everything!) but I still like color for warmer months so maybe I'll have two capsule wardrobes - is that a thing?!

    I look forward to seeing how your twist on TLCMOTU and the "capsule" wardrobe turns out.

    Alec @

  18. I have a capsule wardrobe and it is amazing! I always get compliments out and it takes me like 10 mins to get ready makeup and hair included! I really recommend watching Alison Anderson's video on purging your wardrobe she has great tips. The thing that really helped me was to go through and pull the pieces you can't live without first and every piece after that is negotiable. She talks about that in the video.

  19. I have a capsule wardrobe without even realising it. The way it happened for me was that I moved from NZ to Canada and on the way had a 3 month holiday around USA, I've now been in Canada over a year and have hardly brought any new clothes which means everything I own fits in a suitcase and mixes and matches :) Now I have a walk in wardrobe so may have to stop myself shopping :p

    All in all though, my boyfriend has 3 times as many clothes as I do :0

  20. Elle - you should check out Mademoiselle's blog and youtube channel. She has an amazing capsule wardrobe full of classic, beautiful pieces - very French inspired. but not boring and all neutral - she actually includes some colour which I really appreciate! Also she does dress up maybe a bit more than the average, but she has really amazing style and I think you'd like it.

  21. I too love the theory of a capsule wardrobe; however, I can't quite bring myself to get rid of a bunch of perfectly fine pieces that I do wear. Anyways, maybe the day will come sooner than expected considering I am moving into a dorm room next year.

  22. I love this idea! It actually works really well with my closet. Almost all of my clothing is solid colors. I actually just bought that cardigan this weekend and received the necklace for my birthday a few weeks ago! I've been trying to go through my closet and get rid of clothes. I should keep this in mind during my next clean out!

    Brittany |

  23. I really don't have a capsule wardrobe, but now I really feel inspired to clear out some pieces and donate them!
    I also agree with the others, it's so nice that you're blogging again :)

  24. Hi,
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  25. French inspired capsule wardrobes are my fav! Trying to do this myself.

    Lisa |

  26. Inspiring, that's for sure. Time to get to work and clean up my closet!

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