After centering myself yesterday, I’m ready to get back at wardrobe planning with my renewed perspective. A good freak out every now and then is healthy, right? If it was easy all the time, we wouldn’t grow + learn about ourselves.
Time to start talking about the guts of my planner so far — and you can get yo’self one right here. I’ll be taking you through each section + how I approached it. This is part 1 — lifestyle.
My lifestyle for October-December is about 60% working from home + running errands, 25% social (casual — like grabbing tacos with my husband, family time, or going on a shoot), and 15% social (somewhat fancy — like going to see a traveling broadway show, or meeting up with a client). Pretty simple + straightforward.
Special occasions? Well there’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, and our 3 year anniversary — whoop whoop! So … gotta plan to include some fun pieces for those days!
And finally, I did my due diligence and researched the weather in Austin between October and December. On average, it starts in the high eighties (°F) and quickly drops into the low thirties (°F) during those three months. So … (since I’m a wimp in anything below 55°F) that means I’m including plenty of jeans, boots, coats, and long sleeves.
On that note — we all have to deal with our own weather challenges, you know? Let’s not get caught up comparing who has it the toughest. Let’s put our energy into creative problem-solving instead.
For example, I’ve heard a lot of you awesome people in colder climates mention that you’ll do your regular 37-ish pieces, but you’ll just not include outerwear + jackets in the count. I love that — such a brilliantly simple idea! That’s what this is all about — making it your own.
What are some of your lifestyle challenges + how do you beat ’em?
I think making it your own is what helps you to be successful. Here in Charleston, SC, we tend to average in the 50s-70s through December- I rarely wear a coat, and my boots may not make it out until Thanksgiving! So being flexible and trading one item for another along the way (the lighter weight cardigan for the chunkier sweater) will make wearing a capsule wardrobe less stressful!
I am doing the same thing as in East Tennessee I won’t be in boots till the last month of my capsule. I just plan on switching the tanks and tees out with turtlenecks and sweaters and the flip flops out with boots.
dianne smith says
I just retired so now is the time to purge what is in my closet. Done. Your suggestions are perfectly timed. I am in the process of figuring out what clothing I will need for my life now and how I want to spend my time. So thanks for the good advice and I look forward to more helpful suggestions. And yes it gets really cold here in Canada so I too will not count my coats and jackets or even boots in the mix.
wow, sorry about the repetitive posts…not sure what happened?!
Ann GR says
You tips really helped prompt me to take the 333 Challenge. Only with my lifestyle, I almost need a complete ‘casual’ and ‘corporate’ capsule. These are my choices. I like to have 3 moths be Sept/Oct/Nov. So I did my switching. Here is my blog, and how I reasoned with my choices (with illustrations); http://www.anngrusky.com/my-drawing-board-blog/have-you-heard-about-the-333-challenge
ann, I am new to this but in Illinois and was thinking I would do end of sept/oct/nov as one season and dec/jan/feb/march as another. December an get really cold so I tend to go full-on winter then. First of September is VERY HOT but it can change fast the last few weeks of the month. then I would do april/may as a SMALL spring and the June/July/Aug/first part of Sept as summer. I think it would work best for our seasons. Thanks for putting the idea in my head.
This is exactly what I was thinking for living in Wisconsin! I just did my summer capsule about a month ago, but heard that the end of Sept will get pretty cool out. This seems perfect! Thanks for the great idea :)
I’m loving these transition posts! If there’s one thing that this whole process is teaching me, it’s that planning is really valuable! Right now I’m trying to figure out how to balance between work clothes and casual clothes. I think it will be a matter of looking a little more spiffy on the weekends, which really couldn’t hurt anyway. Also, here in the Midwest, we have wildly different temps. For that reason, I’m not including outerwear in my capsule. But I’m still going to try to minimize them.
I am also in the midwest and think I am not going to include my “gear” in the count. I will include coats for fashion but the long down coat, snow pants, snow boots, and the parka. But I will try to keep them down to a small number. thanks for the idea
I was going to start my fall capsule at the beginning of September, but DC weather decides it wants to be in the 90s for the first week of Sept so I’m going to be pushing it back at least a week… It’s nice that since we can do it at our own pace we don’t have to follow a certain schedule or compete with others like you said (although having a set schedule is nice sometime, but for situation like this its nice to be flexible).
For my lifestyle and work dress code I can most likely wear what I wear on the weekend to work, so it’s nice that I don’t have to worry about having 2 different wardrobe, but having a few “fun” pieces for the weekend definitely helps change up the mood a little. I can’t wait to see what your fall wardrobe is going to look like!
I live in Maine and realized that it’s “winter” about 50% of the time. So I’m doing three capsules- a small, fun, summer one for June-August, a small “transition” one for April, May, September and October, and a huge, main(e) winter one for the other 5 months :D.
Also, I’ve got a 50/50 split between extremely casual (yoga and house chores, hanging around) and work attire, so that’ll be another capsule- yoga wear and basics, slightly adjusted for colder months.
Glad I’ve finally figured it out. Separate capsules for fall and spring just didn’t make sense for me!
Steph M says
I’ve also changed my months. I live in Ontario, so like you, 3×4 didn’t make sense. I think I’m doing Oct-Nov, Dec-March, April-May, then June-Sept. My two-month capsules will just have a touch of warmer-weather clothes and mostly cooler-weather clothes.
Such a good idea! Also from Ontario. Luckily my work went casual this year – so huge adjustment from corporate suits to jeans. Though as I’m the company archivist, and digging out 30 to 40 year old files most of the time, my dress was a little more relaxed than the rest. But I love my jeans and am so happy this has happened. I’ll be spending the winter culling my wardrobe of ‘corporate’ fare!
Yup, I identify – I live in Calgary, Alberta. Our temps between end of September to end of April can go anywhere between +18 C all the way to -35 or colder (Celcius). We are also subject to Chinook winds in the winter as we are part of the prairies but border the Rocky Mountains. In the winter our temps can go from -20C up to +15C in one day and back to -20 by the evening. The way I deal with this is to ignore any kind of outerwear or winter footwear in my capsule, my goal is to stay warm and dry and it that takes many types of outerwear so be it.
I generally have four, different weight winter coats and several kinds of boots to handle all possibilities of weather. I focus my clothing capsule on anywhere from 31 to 37 pieces that just comprise tops, bottoms and shoes. In the shoe category I do not include my “extremely sexy” Sorel or Ugg boots as part of the count. I also don’t get too hung up about switching things out in “shoulder seasons”. I basically do the same capsule rotation as Caroline – Oct/Nov/Dec, Jan/Feb/Mar, April/May/June, July/Aug/Sep but in the third month of each capsule period (usually the latter part) I know I may need to start digging out of storage clothing to transition me through. I set the rules for my capsule and don’t stress about weather issues, which essentially are out of my control. I just work around them.
Same in Seattle, though not as cold! We have basically one season from October-ish through March (or later) that’s cool, grey and raining. So my first capsule will be for fall/winter and will have 40 items to carry me through March.
Oh, that’s an idea! I live in Portland and am having a hard time only doing 37 thinking about more and maybe doing Oct-Mar… September is a summer month here, so October makes sense…
That’s a great idea. It’s tough dressing for basically one season all year long! One of my basics is button-down shirts…they work great across the seasons (when there are ones!) and I personally feel great in them.
Thank you for your wardrobe planner! It really helps me figure out how I want my clothes to FEEL, as opposed to look. I like that it works like a journal and force you to look inside rather than browse the interwebs and get outside influence. I used to be one of those people that will only pay for pizzaz-y tops – and now I have a million pizzaz tops while I’m naturally incilned towards flowy, plain, white/cream stuff. I got rid of half my closet and I’m looking to do a capsule wardrobe for the whole year since Texas only knows super hot, or super cold – sometimes in the same day. Can’t wait to see what you have in line for Fall! Love your loose, casual finds!
I lived in Austin for two years and it was so hot all the time, August was brutal! There were exactly two cold weeks in both of the years I lived there, one in October and one in February. So I wouldn’t go overboard on jeans, boots, coats, and long sleeves. ;)
Amanda Bee says
Love the idea of starting with how I want to feel – so much more clear! I was sucked into a pinterest vortex until your last post, now I feel more confident in what I want (or not) for fall.
We have crazy weather fluctuations in the Midwest in fall – it could be 80 today and 40 two days later. My capsule has lots of thinner layers – a tank + tee + sweater + thin coat can get me through a really cold day, and I can remove layers as needed. Its also a helpful strategy for dealing with unpredictable office heating :) I’m not including scarves, mittens, hats, etc in my capsule but I’ve been inspired to streamline my collection of those too.
Amanda, do you live in Colorado?! And also in my head?! You perfectly described the Denver climate (and my office!); it was around 30 (F) yesterday and is supposed to be 65 (F) tomorrow. When I left my house today it was 28 and it’s now 50. Layers are what I’ve been struggling with the most; how do I keep it to 37 if I wear a base layer every day? And I mean a base layer that can double as an outer layer when the temp jumps 30 degrees in one day!
I like your suggestion of not including mittens, scarfs, etc (I JUST downsized those!), do you not include the base layers either? I’ve been thinking to limit myself to 7 base items (tanks and long sleeve thermals) and getting on a more regular laundry schedule ;) Any suggestions on how to capsule base layers would be super appreciated!
Hmm, lifestyle challenges… Kids, kids, and er, did I mention kids?! I am a stay at home mum so much of my wardrobe at the moment can just be casual and comfortable, without the worry of corporate workwear, etc. But it does mean that when I want to wear heeled boots, or a dress, or something a bit fancier, I often find I can’t because it’s either not suitable for running around after toddlers in, or the fact that they think nothing of placing their sticky hands all over your new coat! Trying to balance how I want to look, with the realities of what my life is really about is a bit of a challenge sometimes!
Steph M says
I have the same challenges, and I’ve decided I’m going to go with low heels sometimes. They’re actually not at all impractical for hauling kids around! But high heels are definitely out for me. I’ve tried, and it’s just not smart.
Jacquelyn @justjacq says
We have a similar weather shift in pennsylvania it just starts sooner than Austin! I’m not including shoes in my count for that reason. I can get away with sandals for a good part of September, but by November when it starts to get wet and nasty here I’ll need more boots and sturdier flats. We also will sometimes get a random snowstorm in October so you never know! I’m also still deciding on whether or not to include cardigans/blazers in my count since those are my saving graces when the weather cools down.
I started the challenge in July, and I love it! I’ve been pulling items together for October-December months. I’ve created a more defined style to meet the descriptive words I chose for myself. After a three month go at the 333, I can see that some of the items I chose for July-August don’t exactly fit that description. My style will slowly evolve into exactly what I want. For the next season, I am considering those words carefully along with the colors in my palette. If it doesn’t fit the plan, it doesn’t make the closet. It’s that simple. Thanks for teaching me and for making it so easy!
In addition, my 16 year old daughter must be liking the way my closet came together. Although her closet was jimmy-jam packed with clothes, she was having trouble putting outfits together. So we weeded through the clothes. She is following the technique and is going into the school season trying to set a style of her own (thank goodness for the option of setting our own rules).
Well, my challenge is that I love fun and fancy things, so that is what I tend to buy despite my similar-to-yours 60%, work-at-home, exercise, and errand-running lifestyle. My current wardrobe reflects that, so while I still want to keep it fun, I’d like the un-fancy to represent a bit more. ;-)
BTW, it was my/our 8th wedding anniversary yesterday. We celebrated by playing mini-golf at a fun, new Burning Man-esque indoor course and then we headed over to the Ferry Building for oysters, clam chowder, and Gruyere grilled cheese where we ate outside under the lights of the Bay Bridge. It was all perfect. I wore a leopard print sweater, red lipstick, skinny jeans, and my glow-in-the dark white Cole Haan loafers. My husband said that I looked beautiful. Mission accomplished!
Congrats on your 8th anniversary Cynthia! When I read your comment I literally “awwww!”-ed out loud. So sweet! xo Caroline
Liz Pierson says
I just started my capsule on Monday, so far so good! Thank you so much for your beautiful words and inspiration. For my wardrobe, I chose simple, casual pieces because the majority of my day is spent doing research in a lab or at home with my husband and toddler. Speaking of toddlers, here is how I put my personal spin on the capsule wardrobe: Any clothes ruined/stained by my little one is up for replacement with a similar item (preferably from storage) during the season. To minimize the need for this, however, I try to throw on some of my pajama shirts when I’m at home with my son (especially during meal time). I almost didn’t commit to 37 items because so often my clothes are in the wash with a big smear of avocado across the front. Now I have no fear! :)
Steph M says
My challenge is actually church. I don’t tend to dress up during the week,since I’m home with my kids, so I don’t want too many skirts/dresses (and I’m breastfeeding so dresses don’t work for me anyway although I love them), but I’d like to have a couple of options for Sundays…but then that takes up two or three of my clothing slots, which are obviously precious. Anyone else have this issue? Any suggestions?
I’m in the same boat! I have lots of dresses from my pre-nursing days. For now, I’ve got a couple of skirts that are getting me through fancier days.
Steph M says
Yeah, I’m going to have to do skirts. I love dresses because I’m short-waisted and big-busted and the current top-tucked-into-waist-high-skirt look really doesn’t flatter me (or if it does, it’s not the look I’m going for, if you know what I mean). Wrap dresses work really well for nursing, but I’m not sure they are part of the style I’m trying to develop. I have an amazing dress waiting for the end of my nursing days. Sometime next year, probably!
seph, I would maybe have a 40 item capsule with the 3 items as church items.
Andrea H says
I’m totally in the same boat! Currently nursing my 5 month old and I feel like my Sunday clothes are on constant repeat. Trying to use that challenge to push myself to be a little more creative. I also have 40 pieces in my current summer wardrobe. :) Sometimes I will use an extra sparkly, baubly-necklace to take some of everyday wear up the dressier status.
Steph M says
Great ideas. I’ve been trying to wear funkier necklaces to amp up my outfits these past couple of weeks but at 6 months, my daughter has a persistent interest in them. :) We will have to see if they take a hiatus for a short bit.
I’ve been looking at surplice necklines in dresses. Or faux wrap dresses with some pleating in the front to cover the lingering postpartum body. I’m currently planning my fall capsule wardrobe based around a postpartum life or the 4th trimester (where you have to be extra patient with how you look) with 3 kids one of which will be a nursing newborn (who should arrive hopefully this morning, I’m currently up at 3am timing contractions:) I go to church every Sunday and am trying to keep my tops loose and flowy, so even if they are not button up or made for nursing, I’m able to nurse easily. I’m finding I’m loving the long flowy maxi skirts, not made of chiffon or jersey…chiffon, not kid friendly….jersey knit, too casual for Sunday. Here’s my Pinterest 4th trimester planning page. It’s a work in progress and I do live in SoCal so keep that in mind if you take a look. Too fun, Caroline, thanks for your blog and inspiration. http://www.pinterest.com/lilmohaha/4th-trimester-capsule-wardrobe-fall-in-ca/
Another suggestion for church and nursing would be a button up peplum over a stretchy pencil skirt. The peplum hides the tummy and hips and the buttons allow for easy nursing…
Hearing your thought process and creative inspiration is great! I am so excited for the unveiling of your Autumn capsule at the end of the month – I can’t wait!
I am trying to plan for fall as well and was curious, how much do you spend on average for each season? If that’s a little too personal of a question, I completely understand! Just wondering! ;)
Hi Hannah! Not too personal — I am an open book! :) For summer, I spent $500. Not sure of my final budget for Fall, but with boots and coats I think it’ll be a bit more. xo Caroline
Patti Burnett says
I have started my fall capsule, but like Caroline in DC, the weather in the Northeast is Hazy, HOT and HUMID for the first week of September!! :) The good thing now is I am really thinking about what I want in my closet. I have a lot of fall items that I will be going through soon, have added a few things new things to spice it up a bit and am excited that for once in my life, my closet will not be overflowing with clothes that I don’t wear! (When I cleaned for the summer capsule, I found 3 items with the tags still on them that I had forgotten I purchased – so stuffed was my closet)! I’m trying the 1 in 1 out rule, but have had a hard time with that as I still have a lot of summer items that can be worn in these 90 degree days! Looking forward to the cooler weather and my fall capsule!
I live in Michigan, so what I did was start my autumn wardrobe this month and my winter wardrobe in December. It’s already starting to cool down here in fact!
I’m trying out a capsule wardrobe for the first time this fall! I’m in PA, so we cool off a little sooner here. I’m looking to transition into my fall clothes by mid September. Since its my first capsule and I work in an office, I’m starting with 50 pieces to cover work/play. Can’t wait to keep following along and see what you choose for fall!
Can you do a post about accessories? I really suck at this. I have your same loose, fuss-free style but when I wear it, I look frumpy and when you wear it, you look fit to go out. My only accessory is my wedding and engagement ring – which oddly enough is almost the exact same as yours lol
I’d like to know where you get your muted gold bangles. And I’ve also seen some thin chain necklaces that I love.
I came up with a solution of my own for the transitioning from hot weather to cold weather dilemma! I live in Southern California, so the winters are short and mild, and the summers are long. Conceptually speaking, I only actually have 2 capsules. A hot months capsule, and a cold months capsule, with a lot of my clothing belonging in both capsules. Think of a Venn diagram, 2 circles overlapping! When September/October comes along, rather than totally starting over with a totally new capsule, I slowly start trading out summer tanks that I am kind of bored with, for light button downs that can start being useful, while holding onto the summer tanks that I am still excited about. Within a few weeks, the weather will have cooled off and I will have finished transitioning the summer tops/shorts out, and will have replaced them with coats and sweaters. Then when winter comes, I transition out some of the coats or sweaters I’ve grown tired of, and replace them with a few different sweaters that I kept stored through fall. For example, the red sweater will get a lot of use through the holidays, but I will tire of it by January. So then, I will pack away the red sweater and pull out the wintery light blue one. Perfect! I’ve found that I was able to include my coats in my capsule (I did consider not counting them at first) by including fewer pants, and NO skirts. Since my summer capsule had jeans, shorts, skirts, AND dresses, by storing all the shorts, skirts, and only allowing one dress in my winter capsule (the New Years cocktail dress), I allowed myself to feasibly include all my coats. I don’t see myself wanting to wear a skirt or dress very often, so instead any occasion where I might have worn a skirt, I will wear my nice black pants and a fancier winter top.
In total, I have 50 articles of clothing, I simply transition them in and out at different times of the year, donating things if I get exceptionally tired of them, leaving room to bring in new items
Rachael from Australia says
I love this supportive and friendly community! It’s been really helpful for me as I’ve changed from a corporate job to being a phd student. Most of my old clothes don’t work and as my clothing budget is maybe $10-$20 a week, my new favourite shops are the local thrift stores. I’m 46 so I’m a lot older than most other students and I don’t want to look silly trying to be like them. I’ve found that what works best for me is to be casual, but with a more polished look. So my jeans will be dark, with a blouse and warm jumper (sweater) for winter months and then a cotton dress or skirt with a cardigan or jean jacket for summer. Relaxed but not sloppy. Temperatures in my part of Australia range from minus two Celsius to forty Celsius so while winter is short, I still need to be prepared. Summer is long so cotton is the best fabric for comfort. I have a lot more to do to get my wardrobe sorted and I find my biggest difficulty is to toss the old things that might be handy but realistically are wasting space. It takes time to get a brilliantly focused capsule entirely from second hand places but it’s definitely coming together. And thanks to everyone who donates good clothing that you no longer want! It makes a huge difference to me to know that even though I don’t have the income I used to, I can still buy terrific clothes and not feel cut off from the world.
Rachael, all my clothes come from thrift stores, too–and while it took me awhile to squelch the “but it’s so INEXPENSIVE! I should buy it!” impulse, I’ve been there for a few years and love dressing all thrift. The tricky part for a capsule wardrobe gone thrifty is to be patient/diligent enough to keep scouring until you find the thing that fits the hole in your wardrobe. More than once I’ve bought something I really do love but it doesn’t get much wear because it doesn’t go with everything else and I was too impatient to wait until the skirt/pants/top I *actually* needed came along.
For anyone else balking at Caroline’s $500 for one capsule wardrobe (granted, high quality stuff and reusable next year), it is doable on a MUCH smaller budget if you have the time and patience (and decent local Goodwills et al). A great capsule from new stuff can take just as much forethought and diligence to put together, so don’t be afraid to try it secondhand. You can find great quality clothes that will last for ages!
Rachael from Australia says
LeahLW, thanks for your comment. It’s nice to know others are doing this too. I completely agree with developing the patience to wait for the right thing. In the beginning I would buy something (it’s only $3?!) I ended up with a very disparate mix that didn’t work well together. Back to the drawing board, defining my look and activities and culling the extraneous and the perfect capsule started to emerge. The great thing about doing this with second hand is that it doesn’t feel so bad when you make a mistake and re donate something back to the store.
Exactly–I don’t mind spending $5 at a charity store to try something out I’m not sure of; if I only wear it 3 or 4 times, I re-donate and voila, they can re-sell to make more money. Buyers’ remorse-free wardrobe creation and I still spend a lot less. Everybody wins!
Here in Finland (Northern Europe) it can get pretty cold already in October, so my fall capsule Sept-Nov is a mix of clothes I can easily layer (without looking too hippy though). I still haven’t finished my wardrobe planning completely, so I might include some tips from here, thanks for them :)
And Caroline btw I love the clean look of your blog!
Kristen Cain says
A capsule wardrobe helps me to feel that I am living my life on vacation! Years ago, I discovered that when I travel I take my favorite pieces and wear them in multiple ways. Being away from my closet forced my to be creative…and buy the occasional accessory from street vendors:-) I would return home and wonder why I had so much in my closet that I wasn’t wearing. A huge purge and a happy closet resulted. Thanks for your blog. I need to get back to work now…will read more later!
I grew up in Atlanta, lived in New York, for a while and am now in London, so the weather in my life keeps getting colder and colder! Though I’ve been in London for over two years, I really struggle with dressing for what I think of as mediocre weather – basically within 10-15 degrees of 50F almost all year around. You’d think it’d be easy to dress more or less the same all year, but it’s actually really difficult. I try to keep it fresh with layering and constantly editing my closet, but I’m definitely craving four seasons of outfits!
One of my challenges is nursing and having roomy tops but then also dressing nice and stylish for work. So 50% casual, 50% stylish corporate (I work in a creative field). Its very odd now bc I come home and immediately change so I can nurse. And on the weekends I don’t want to feel like a slub in yoga pants and extra large tops… I’ve also only lost about 2/3rds of my pregnancy gain so all my cute clothes I love love love don’t fit now… I’m up for the challenge though! What I like about this is that it makes me be very INTENTIONAL about what I buy. :-D
I’ve been intrigued with capsule wardrobes for years, and I’ve done several month-long capsule wardrobes, but I’m finally taking the plunge and go for 3 months (Sept-Nov). I live in Minnesota, where it was just 88 degrees this past week, but by November, it could very well be in the negative temperatures, so I’ve needed to include some warm weather and cold weather clothes. I work as a high school counselor, so I need to have clothing that is professional and appropriate for school. I’m modifying the capsule a little bit to just be fore my work wardrobe for now. I also am not including shoes (since I don’t have a problem with buying excess shoes). I have 39 pieces in my capsule, but I’m allowing myself to add in a few more if I need to based on weather. I am 3 months into a yearlong shopping freeze, so I’m glad that I won’t be tempted to buy anything! :)
I’m in Chicago and I work in an air-conditioned office. I am including 7 jackets/cardigans in my 37 pieces, but I am not including outerwear jackets and coats. Those are in a closet by the front door and I don’t have an issue with buying pieces I don’t need.
Oh I love that simple suggestion and switch to not include coats and jackets in the 37 from those of us farther north. Phew! That’s a great idea and a bit of a relief! :)
I just started my capsule wardrobe a couple of days ago, but i’m getting SO MANY ideas from this comment section. People are really helpful, not at all judging and just sharing ideas.
You’ve created a wonderful atmosphere Caroline, two thumbs up! :)