When I found out I was going to be one of the guest bloggers on Unfancy, I was working a full time job and planning to go back to school in the evenings to get my teacher certification. I had pretty much locked down my winter capsule wardrobe — a set of corporate clothes that could double as school clothes.
Then, as it turned out, my boss wasn’t on board with me going to school and working, so I thought I was going to be unemployed.
My idea of my mostly corporate capsule wardrobe was completely thrown out the window.
No longer did I need my pencil skirts, dresses, and trousers on a regular basis. I struggled with creating a new vision — something that would work for mostly casual environments (school at night, high school observation hours, and home where I work on my virtual assistant business).
Even worse, I didn’t have much in the way of casual clothes. I only owned 2 pairs of jeans — one black and one blue — both of which I didn’t even like anymore. It sounds so trivial to worry about, and on one hand, it is. But on the other hand, the clothing upheaval was a reflection of the way life felt.
Fortunately for my bank account, I was eventually asked to stay at work part time… the day before my “last day” there. Enter all the pencil skirts!
And so, new friends, this is the story of my unfinished capsule wardrobe.
I bet a few of you are going through something similar. And we all go through times when life changes unexpectedly, so I wanted to share my advice on creating a capsule wardrobe in the middle of life changes:
1. This whole not figuring out your capsule wardrobe thing in time for the season to start? Not a big deal. Let yourself off the hook.
2. Give yourself time to adjust to your new life schedule. See what you’re gravitating towards on certain days. Take pictures of your favorite outfits and make a note of where you wore it to remember.
3. Try using the Venn Diagram to see what pieces are for work, for play, and what can fit into both categories. I’ve created a free Venn Diagram download for you here!
4. Identify a few pieces you need added to your wardrobe. Do you need more casual pieces or more work pieces? Pick a budget and allow yourself time to find those pieces. Don’t rush the buying process.
5. Eventually, make the tough decisions. If you let yourself, you could spend the next year on this thing. Take a day to pull everything out of your closet and put back the pieces you’re drawn to. Refer to those pictures you took and try to find a pattern in your outfits. If a number is too restricting to you, that’s okay. I like to have a loose number in mind but allow for adjustments. Reevaluate your closet when you’re done and decide if it looks good enough.
6. Have fun! This is a new way to look at your closet and it’s all about experimenting. Don’t worry what anyone else is doing — just do you.
Top: JCrew Factory — sold out! (similar)
Skirt: Halogen– sold out! (similar)
Shoes: Target (similar)
Earrings: JCrew Factory (similar)
Bracelet: JCrew Factory & Stella & Dot
Jennifer Coyle says
I love this! Things are so complicated with work vs casual wear. And really, having one pair of black and one pair of blue pants sounds like enough :D I cycle between black and grey for work and play (and yeah, that rhymed, and I sort of saw it coming). On writing down what you wear to what event – I sometimes end up putting my outfits in my calendar attached to the event so I can look back if needed. Such a good idea.
Jacquelyn @justjacq says
Love the idea of attaching it to a calendar!
This is so true! I tend to be a rule follower, so I am constantly reminding myself this capsule thing has to work for ME. So if small changes need to be made or things need to be altered to make it work, its OKAY!
You’re adorable…I am really loving your style and touches of color with still having a structured neutral feel :)
Jacquelyn @justjacq says
What great advice! It is so true that a wardrobe can go through phases just as life does. Thanks for the inspiration :) I look forward to reading your posts once a week here on Unfancy! ~Lissa
Great post – and very fitting for me right now! Good timing :)
I’d love to see your “completed” Venn diagram, if it’s available! There’s also this online Venn diagram maker — http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/interactives/venn_diagrams/ (I’m not associated with the company or website, just have used it in the past)
I’ve found it helpful since I am constantly going back and forth on certain items/tweaking the capsule.
This was a great read! I’ve been struggling lately with direction and trying to figure out what career path I want to take next, etc and looking back I’ve realized my wardrobe kind of reflects that chaos right now. I have a few pieces that really feel like “me” amidst a bunch of other things that are just mediocre but I wear anyway. In life, I’m stressed that I don’t have things all figured out, and that uncertainty is being reflected in my closet. Thanks for the reminder to take the pressure off sometimes and just go with the flow — I needed that!
This post really resonated with me. After being a full time student for the past 20 or so years, I’ve finally entered the work place. I’ve had to slowly make the transitioning from having 90% casual clothes to 75% conservative work clothes. I think the author’s suggestion to make bite sized changes over time is ideal for both my budget and my desire to consciously building a new wardrobe, not just accumulate new clothes.
I really love Jacquelyn’s style and story. Even though our body types are different, and even our life styles, I still relate. Isn’t that funny? Maybe it’s just that I love your clothing choices, you look great!
This story is great! I transitioned from working in an office to working at home for myself, and I’ve really struggled to identify my capsule wardrobe. What I wear becomes a secondary, if that thought, but then it leads me to not feeling 100% each day. I’ve tried to “get ready” to sit in my office and work, and I’ve realized the importance of dressing for myself. Even though I don’t necessarily need to wear semi-professional clothes. It is nice to dress down a pencil skirt once a week.
I’m currently in between moves and my wardrobe is completely scattered between two homes. I feel like my style is reflecting the chaos and I’m so excited for when things settle down, the smoke clears, and I have a clearer picture of what I need to do with my wardrobe.
Blakely (Wylde Blog) says
Professional lifestyle changes can wreak such havoc on our sartorial lives! After working for a few years in an environment that demanded business wear, I now work in a very casual environment that really has no guidelines. I prefer the latter, but it was strange to let go off all my suits and other professional attire very slowly . . . I felt like I was betraying a former life :).
I love the Venn diagram you supplied. Simple but effective.
Kathy Mader says
Love your outfit, it looks fabulous. You’re lucky, too, to have such a pretty face to go with :) Also, I love the overlapping diagram…that just makes too much sense.
The permission to have a capsule still in flux mid-season is definitely what I needed to hear! Loving these guest posts. :)
Emma @EverEmma says
I LOVE all of these suggestions! I’m a rule-follower by nature so it’s nice to hear someone say that there really aren’t any rules. It’s all about what works for you!
first, i love this outfit. I never wear skirts, but i feel like i could pull off this look and feel very comfortable doing so. second, such good advice! i still haven’t committed to a capsule wardrobe. i’ve been hanging around this blog, trying to learn more about it and slowly adapt my wardrobe. the venn diagram idea is great. and pulling everything out of my closet and seeing what goes back in and what doesn’t— brilliant! thank you.
Jacquelyn, thanks for sharing your story with us, even the scary bit where you thought you were going to be unemployed!
I dig the idea of letting yourself off the hook and easing yourself into a capsule, especially during a life change that can be stressful enough as it is.
I am loving this work look! We have similar style and similar pieces (like a teal colored skirt for work, and gingham button down) that I would never have thought to pair together. Thank you for the inspiration!
Amanda Bee says
Cute skirt! Love this – I was in grad school and teaching part time in the fall, but got the opportunity to pursue a great job and went for it. So now I’m business casual 5x a week. I definitely used a lot of these tips intuitively and had to learn to throw perfectionism out the window somr days.
I will add that having more of a capsule wardrobe has given me the ability to focus on my work more since putting together outfits is so effortless. Which is a HUGE bonus as I adjust to my new schedule.
While I’m not quite to the capsule wardrobe phase, I’ve slowly been going through my closet. As you mentioned in #2 of your advice, taking photos of outfits has really helped. It is amazing how flipping through photos has made me say, “Wow, that is great!” or “Hmmm, maybe it is time for that to go.” Anyway, my app has really helped me with the process. You can check it out at http://www.kloz.it.
I can really relate with the challenge of creating a capsule wardrobe in the middle of a life change! I was really ready to start pulling together my spring wardrobe… when I found out that I’m pregnant and won’t be able to fit most of my wardrobe by the end of the season. Argh! So I’ve gotten sort of stuck in my process, but you come up with some good advice. There are of course dresses and tops for the ‘non-pregnant’ that are roomy enough to cover a baby bump for the first few months… cue the Venn Diagram. Although this forces me to rethink much of my wardrobe, it’s a fun challenge!
Jacquelyn @justjacq says
I’ve seen a few pregnancy capsule wardrobes around! So many of the women say pregnancy is basically a capsule wardrobe since they don’t want to invest in a ton of pieces while their body is changing daily. It might be a great time to experiment with finding color palettes that make you feel amazing.
I am transitioning between two houses, two countries and leaving full-time employment which has required, and supplied, full uniform which includes hi-visibility shirts, long drill pants and steel capped boots. Truly stunning! While that has clearly been a huge cost saving I am faced with a weird wardrobe of very random items usually purchased on holiday without too much thought about what else I have. I feel like I have lost the ability to put together outfits and even shop coherently. I appreciated the suggestion to take it slowly, make a plan then gradually pull it together. I feel I can do that and have one less thing to panic about!!!
Jacquelyn @justjacq says
Wow, Jules, I feel like you need to start a blog talking about this huge transition you’re making! I’m sure it would really help a lot of people!
Thanks for these great suggestions – I do not know if I am ready to make the plunge to a capsule wardrobe yet, but I have found that the best thing is to do some pre-steps – just pulling all of the things out of my closet that I never wore/will never wear and being really strict with myself and selling them all to at least cut down on the amount of clothing I own.
Rae | love from berlin
Ann Marie says
These are great tips, thank you so much! I started my capsule wardrobe mid-season, so I’m kind of trying to purge/pull outfits together/buy a few pieces, but not too much because a new season will be coming soon. And I am trying to keep a budget in mind. This is a great reminder that there is no one right way to do a capsule wardrobe. And it’s always good to evaluate your own current situation. Thanks again, and I love that pencil skirt…such a great color!
These are great tips – Thanks so much! And I love that top by the way!