Happy Friday! Got any fun plans for the weekend?
A few weeks ago, I created a little form where you could send me a question you’d like to see answered on the blog. Let’s get down to a few of your questions.
Do you have an “emergency budget” for shopping in-between capsules in case one of your pieces were to be severely stained or ripped? –Sarah
Hi Sarah! I do keep an emergency budget — about $100. I think it’s a great practice because if I ever do have a wardrobe emergency, it won’t turn into a financial crunch.
So far though, I haven’t needed to use it. I’ve had a couple of pieces rip or stain mid-season, but the few times that’s happened, I decided that the lack of that particular piece wasn’t going to “slow down” the rest of my capsule wardrobe.
Now, the day my jeans rip, I’ll be singing a different tune. And I’ll be really grateful for that emergency fund. :)
I don’t have the finances to upgrade all the pieces I would like to, but I would really love to move from a wardrobe of clothes I bought in college because they were cheap to more appropriate attire for my life now. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to downsize while incrementally upgrading. –Rebecca
Hi Rebecca! This is such an important question. Every situation is different, so it’s hard to address it all in one tidy answer. But for now, I’ll try to answer your question the best I can in the fewest words:
1. Let go of all the “shoulds” — the way you should build your wardrobe, the amount of pieces you should have, the places you should shop. Instead decide to play with possibility from here on out and go your own way.
2. Take the pressure off yourself and think of it as a long term project. Instead of trying to create an upgraded wardrobe in 3 or 6 months, reframe it to 12 or 24 months, or however long you need … and then relax for the ride.
3. Focus on buying just one or two quality pieces each season. It will feel painstakingly slow. It’s not sexy. But try not to diminish your progress. Small change over time equals big change. And if you need some encouragement to stick with it over the long haul, read The Compound Effect.
“Never give up on something just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” ― Earl Nightingale
Do you take a minimalist approach with your undergarments too? I’m also curious about what other books that you read. I know that you have listed some books already, but I’d love to hear about more. –Lisa
Hi Lisa! I just recently decluttered my panty drawer and I can’t tell you how nice it is to open that drawer and know that everything fits comfortably + makes me feel my best.
That wasn’t the case about 4 months ago, but I finally decided I’d had enough of uncomfortable undergarments, so I started doing research + preparing to upgrade.
I ended up settling on these panties because of the amazingly comfortable fabric and the fact that I can wear them underneath anything.(Here’s a brief version if you’re interested.) I have 9 pairs and I’m happy with that number. I purchased 3 pairs every month over 3 months so I didn’t have to invest all at once.
Other stuff? I have about 12 pairs of “PJ” panties. I’m currently working on downsizing my bra collection. And I have a few pieces of pretty lingerie.
And, oh! I’m regularly adding to a Pinterest board of books I’ve read and loved. Have a look: Book Club Pinterest Board
Want to see one of your questions answered on the blog? Head to my contact page and click “Got a question for me?”
Jacket: old from Zara (similar here)
Tee: old from J.Crew (different but equally cool here)
Pants: old from Aritzia (similar here or similar for less here)
Shoes: old from Madewell (similar here)
Bag: Marc Jacobs (similar for less here)
Samantha Roberts says
Great timing! I am 30 days into my first capsule, and am in the process of writing an update/reflection about it on my blog.
I am loving it so far, but there are a few items that I just have not worn at all yet – and, after reflection, I don’t think I ever will wear. Should I just make it through the next two months with a few duds and then replace them when its time to make my next capsule? Or could I set a budget and replace those items now? I know you explicitly stated there are no real rules for this thing, but I want to make sure I am still honoring the spirit of the concept.
Samantha Roberts says
Oh, actually I will just submit this as a question for the blog! Nevermind.
I’m also 30 days into my capsule, and sure enough there are a few items I haven’t wear. I don’t think is not because I don’t like them, but because the weather or the occasions haven’t being ideal. But I’m also thinking about shrinking my capsule from 35 to 30 items. It’s so weird because before I would have never thought it possible for me to live with only 30 items of clothing and shoes!
Samantha Roberts says
Right! I started with a capsule of only 32 items, and am really only using about 23-25 regularly. And yet I feel so much more better dressed than when I had a bulging closet. Minimalism works.
I am finding the same thing! It’s such a trial & error process, but I find I’m wearing less of my items than I thought. Looking forward to trying again for Spring! I’m glad others have mentioned this, as I was planning to write about it for an upcoming post. :)
you are amazing with 25-30 items.
Can i ask if you are working in office?
I am wondering what would min count be for somebody working 5 days a week in the office
I do work in the office 5 days a week, and I like to wear different look every day. My work capsule wardrobe is based on 3s :). I have 3 blazers, 3 dresses (3 pairs of stockings-black, grey and patterned), 3 blouses/shirts, 3 cardigans and 3 sweaters; 3 t-shirts in white, grey, black and navy, plus 3 in different color and pattern; 3 pairs of pants: black, navy (jeans) and white. I wear my white pants in winter as well. I also have one skirt :) and few scarves.
This way I can wear different style (blazer vs dress vs sweater etc) every day and repeat particular garment every 3 weeks. I change my capsule every 6 months. Most of the pieces are carried from winter to summer to winter anyway. Either if I don’t love a particular item, I still wear it, since it is just once a month. It’s been working for me very well.
I must say that Kat’s list is great. I too work in an office (and it’s fairly formal, no jeans). My key is finding tops that go with all my pants and skirts whenever possible. My list is
-a cap sleeved jacket
-2 shirts (short sleeve so for warm weather)
-8 tops for warm weather (i.e. short sleeves)
-6 tops for cool weather (though I need a few more)
-2 trench coats
-too many pairs of black shoes
I’m new to capsules but I keep seperate capsules for casual clothes, there’s a lot of overlap between to the two in winter but hardly any in summer. My colours are black, grey, red, bright blue, white and some navy.
My summer ‘uniforms’ are top + pants, top + skirt, dress. My autumn/spring ‘uniform’ is the same but with the blazer over the top or as per summer with my warm tops and then winter I add trench coats too and from work and/or scarfs.
I hope this helps.
Thank you so much for your prompt replies!
I really appreciate it.
I am also wondering if all your wardrobe is in one colour pallet as single capsule or else? I think I will have difficulties to choose one. I have sort of three partial capsules for winter wardrobe right now, more or less equal in value. I am not sure how to move further. Any thoughts?
I’m new to capsules but I’ll try to help you a bit on colours.
I have two suits (blazer, pants, skirt and one also has a dress), one in black and the other in a darkish grey. Now I know more about capsules I wish the suits allowed me to mix and match so for someone building up a wardrobe I would recommend picking two base colours (or say black and black herringbone) and then you have a pretty solid foundation.
From there I have a few separates (black and white skirt, pinstripe pants) to mix up the ‘bottom half’.
After that I have more basics for tops (black and white) and then colour (red, blue, coral) and just a few prints. So tops are pretty much my main source of colour, or accessories.
So all up, I do consider my work clothes one capsule for all year round as it’s mostly the tops that change between warm and cool weather and colour does hold it all together.
The reason my summer wardrobe barely overlaps is my casual clothes are based on navy, bright blue, coral and white/cream tones and most of the styles are not work appropriate. I culled all my ‘pink’ items after realising they weren’t me at all and that I had bought them because others thought it was a good look for me. I’ve found it better and easier to mix and match since.
I hope this helps.
Thank you Kat and Mary! It helps a lot.
Mary, I have done same thing, having 2 suits with not mixable colours – black and dark navy. Completely agree on your advice with herringbone or something like it. And yes most of colours are presented in tops in my wardrobe as well. I think also have too many very similar tops of different colours, need review that. I will probably also keep some for some items that are not favourites for a while as I wear them rarely especially those for extremely cold weather. And my casual overlaps to some extent with work as well in all seasons.
Thank you again for sharing your experience,
If you add a grey suit to your capsule, it could be a liaison between black and navy. Meanwhile wear what you have and only buy if you feel there is a true gap.
Around holidays I realized I needed black skinnies. I had work trousers in black and leggings, but I needed jeans. I added them to my capsule and have been wearing them ever since. It looks like my work environment is more casual than yours and Lidia’s :).
I like visiting The Vivienne’s Files blog. Great source of inspiration for color combinations. (I hope Caroline won’t mind mentioning it) .
Number of pieces is very individual, and it will be different for different people, because of the different lifestyles. In my opinion the optimal capsule is when all the pieces are in a constant circulation :)
I mixed names, ladies… Sorry about that :)
Thank you Kat.
I am thinking about black jeans too. My current job is not that formal, even two suits are too many, but I understood your point about grey, thanks. My office is casual and jeans with blazer is more usual outfit for me. And I wear turtlenecks more often then shirts now. I was thinking about black jeans, I used to have one some time ago and think its very easy to wear, easier then blue. Just because i am pear shaped it’s going to be bootcut most likely. Thank you for sharing you experience with me
I loved reading these answers. It’s so helpful to think about upgrading your wardrobe a little at a time (right down to the undies). Thanks for sharing!
I love the Aerie Boybrief panties! I am a pear shape so it is a challenge to find low-rise underwear that have good coverage. These have awesome coverage and don’t weggie, ugh!! The styles with lace around the legs help with the pantyline issue when wearing pants with thinner or clingy fabrics.
Those are my favorites too! And the Aerie lace isn’t itchy.
Tania [girlwithanakita] says
I’m having the most trouble decluttering my underwear and bra collection. It’s just that some pieces are SO CUTE and you WANT to picture yourself wearing it, but it’s not practical. I can’t wear an elaborately detailed bright orange bra under tops or it will be lumpy. I think downsizing this took longer than my actual closet haha
Me too, Tania! I had a serious bra junkie phase, so I’m going through Jaana’s stages of purging grief all over again — except with bras, ha. One step at at a time. :) xo Caroline
Liesl Gordon says
Tania, try doing a “photo shoot” of these pretty-yet-impractical smalls,
and perhaps then it would be easier to purge?!
That way, you can still hold onto that pretty and oh-so-cute visual of you in your delightful delicates!
thank you to lisa for asking the undergarments question! after getting my wardrobe together, i’ve recently been doing a lot of research / putting thought into the bra / underwear / lingerie / girly thangs department. would love to see a post from you on this!
also, is it just me or does the word panty make anyone else laugh? ;)
Great Q/A. And I LOVE the book recommendations! Thanks!
Kathy Mader says
That’s funny, I wanted to comment on how beautiful your pictures are today. On my email there are 4 pictures, but when I clicked to go to your blog there are only 3. Anyway, the close-up pic (either 3rd or 2nd pic down, depending) is so lovely. I have millions of pairs of underwear because of the freebies at VS. Probably 3/4 of them I don’t like and need to chuck. When you decide on the perfect bra, let us know…’cause I haven’t discovered it yet.
Ahhhh love this outfit, and also love these questions. I have to admit, I was wondering what your undies advice would be, so I’m so glad Lisa asked that.
This was so helpful! I have enough underwear to last me about 2 months without ever needing to do laundry. Much too much, obviously. One of my issues is I never know when to throw them out and replace. I’ve got panties that are good enough, but are starting to pill or get holes or just not fit as well, but they’re still wearable… so I feel guilty throwing them out.
I love that jacket! A great leather jacket is just so priceless!
Hey Caroline! I just wanted to know that I love your blog and the whole capsule wardrobe thing! You are just SO CUTE! At first I was just attracted to you just because of your outfits but I have to say that now I love reading all that you say at the bottom of the posts! You seem to have so much wisdom about actually dressing like a minimalist and what you say is SUPER helpful! Also, just know that you appeal to the “younger crowd” says me the 16 year old :)
Thanks so much!
Caroline, Love the blog and this post! I know you do thermals under sweaters, what about warmer months and lighter tops? Do you have a favorite tank? I find the ones i have add bulk and ride up. Anyone else have a favorite everyday tank top for underneath?
I am not sure if you can buy the brand in the states but Jockey Women are my favourite tanks for under clothing (camis) and briefs. They do cute patterns and lace trim which lie flat so can be worn under everything. However, some of them are so cute I am happy to have them (tanks not briefs!!!) showing under tops. The tops are light enough wear all year round, under a thermal under a sweater in the winter and on their own under summer tops. They are also a decent length so don’t ride up (and I have a very long torso so that is an issue of me in many other brands)
I have a lot of underwear but I can’t seem to make myself throw it out if it doesn’t have any holes. It seems wasteful! Any tips?
Also, for anyone looking to downsize their bra collection, there are two charities I know of that will take bras in almost any condition. Google “Free the Girls” and “The Bra Recyclers.” Great causes!
Thanks for sharing this!! I’m definitely doing this now! I’ve worked with trafficked women in the past and had no idea I could help this cause in this way. Love it!!
I don’t know if any of you are feeling crafty, but I advocate sewing and thrifting for some of this stuff. I’ve found some great wardrobe updates by regularly browsing the thrift store, and sewing your own lingerie is huge in the sewing world right now. Bras are more complicated, but undies are easy. I know this advice isn’t for everyone, but if you are so inclined, you might try it. ;)
Not thrifting for underwear, by the way. Just the normal daily clothing. The sewing was for the underwear AND the regular clothing.
On upgrading your wardrobe over time, this is where Pinterest has actually helped me. I pin fewer things that are just an overall aspirational look now, and more that are specific pieces that I would purchase if I had the funds and/or occasion to. Then when an occasion comes up (whether it be replacing something worn out, a special event, or a work situation I’m not yet prepared for) that I need something for, I revisit the board and buy one of the things I’ve been wanting for a bit already. By that time it’s usually on sale (yay!), plus I know that because I wanted it before I had an occasion for it, it’ll be something I’m excited to wear whenever possible.
I do something similar. I pin outfits where I really do have most of the pieces. They’re like flash cards when I can’t put an outfit together. Just today I was going to wear sneakers with a sweater and skinny jeans but saw a similar outfit on my board with spikey pumps so I wore those instead. Much better!
Catherine Short says
haha – thank you for clarifying that you have pj panties. that is completely a real thing. :-)
By PJ panties do people mean undies they wear at night in place of proper pajamas??
Or are they to wear under pj pants? I am confused!!!!
To me, “PJ panties” are the more comfortable, full-coverage undies I change into to sleep at night if I’ve worn a thong during the day. Usually that happens under actual pajamas :)
Emma Liston says
You look so comfy and chic in your outfit today! I love it : ) I’m so glad you addressed issues like how to upgrade certain pieces without breaking the budget- it’s like you address certain things RIGHT as I’m wondering about them…you’re an awesome person and I love the light you’re always spreading.
This is a fantastic look!! Love it from H2T girl.
Kimi, twenty-something simple says
While you are going through your old bras, I highly encourage you to check out http://www.reddit.com/r/abrathatfits — that subreddit is seriously AMAZING and your life will be changed forever. I had no idea that I could have been wearing a better fitting bra my whole life; I discovered my actual, true bra size a little over a year ago and could not recommend finding a correctly fitting bra more. It’s a life-changer.
Yes for sure to properly fitting bras. I got fitted at Nordstrom’s when I was looking for a bra to go with my wedding dress. I was off two band sizes which resulted in going up a few cup sizes. They felt a bit tight at first, but after the initial adjustment period there is no turning back. Plus they looks so much better under my clothes!!
Fortunately this was around the time when I did my first capsule wardrobe so I was in the mindset of getting practical bras. Those cute sale bras are sooo tempting, but when they make your shirts look lumpy or add weird lines due the lace or construction its a no go.
I can’t believe it – today I was thinking about clearing out the clutter from my underwear drawer and only having underwear that I love/want to wear daily AND wondering if there is a good book on boundaries. From this post I found ideas for BOTH. Wow! I think these will both add a lot of peace and joy to my life – in different but similar ways.
Thank you Caroline! I adore your blog and read almost every post you write. Even though I haven’t commented before, I’m here reading, learning, and enjoying. And sending so many loving, happy thoughts your way!
Don’t forget about consignment stores! I picked up a like-new vegan leather jacket last weekend for $20 and a new-to-me store, and consigned some unfortunately online purchases that I couldn’t return. When those sell I’ll have a credit!
I really like your outfits! I can’t believe you can really pull a capsule wardrobe off! I really love your idea, it’s very fun and original!
My capsule this quarter was pretty loosely held together since I wasn’t sure what post-baby would look like but I can’t wait to start my next one! Thanks for the ever-present inspiration :) You’re making me want to clear out my underwear drawer now hahaha
Love love love these questions and answers! It was really interesting to read about capsuling your undergarments because I find that capsule applies to so many other areas of my life (well, possessions!) For example, I used to own about 10 perfumes a few months ago, most of which I did not 100% love or use that much. Now however I have downsized my collection to 3 fragrances I adore. Minimalism makes life so much easier and stress free because you make less, quicker decisions = less stress!
Miss Imogen Smith
Oh, how I adore your blog! I also adore your purse… I’ve been looking for the perfect “everyday, no matter what I’m wearing” handbag & I do believe you’ve nailed it with your Marc Jacobs bag. So, I just bought one! I got it for 30% off at Piperlime… (Is this the one you’ve got, the Classic Q Mini Natasha? http://piperlime.gap.com/browse/product.do?vid=1&pid=951373002) Anyways, I just thought I’d pass along the info in case anyone else is looking for this lovely bag at a discounted price. Thanks again for the motivation to “downsize” my life & make it so much more functional… You are appreciated! :)
I just found your blog and was inspired to clean out my closet. I have never put away clothes based on season before. Once I packed away my summer clothes and purged the clothes I don’t wear (or don’t like to wear) I found I am only using 21 pieces of clothing on a regular basis. I’m a minimalist and didn’t know it! Now I’m going to focus on adding only pieces I like to get my clothing more in line with my style. I’m loving your minimal / neutral style and am thinking of reducing the number of patterned and color clothing I have. I’ve really enjoyed reading through your blog, thanks for all of your useful tips!
I love your advice about taking it slowly with upgrading/downsizing simultaneously. I am in the exact same predicament and often feel very overwhelmed at the thought of overhauling my wardrobe.
I’m a newer reader to your blog and I have got to say, you’ve inspired me! I cannot say that I see myself doing a capsule wardrobe anytime soon BUT I am amazed at what you do. Just like I love the Discovery tv series “Alaska The Last Frontier”, I freaking love that show, but I’m not setting up a homestead in the wilderness. With that, my point is you can take valuable lessons from anywhere and make them work for you.
I have 3 wardrobes all mashed together. The 20s college slumming it wardrobe, the mid20s I’m fancy work clothes, and finally the early30s let’s mix professional and casual together into one wardrobe that serves me. My task currently is doing the old tried and true women’s magazine tip of flipping my hangers around for 2 months and once I wear it, flipping it rightways again. I know I have so much I do not wear and that silly tip is actually working. It is forcing me to put things on this body that I haven’t in years. My goal is to not shop until at least spring so that I can see what I have and what I need. Already I’m seeing that black pants are at the top of my to-buy list. I wear them almost daily yet every pair I have is faded or doesn’t fit well. I know when it comes time to get rid of things that the guilt will set in. I’m a frugal momma and seeing hard earned money go out the door will be brutal, but at least I have the resolve to not fill my closet with junk anymore.
Rambling done. Thank you for sharing, your posts have taken my yearly post-holiday savings binge from something painful and boring into something fun and educational.
This passage really resonated with me:
“Let go of all the “shoulds” — the way you should build your wardrobe, the amount of pieces you should have, the places you should shop. Instead decide to play with possibility from here on out and go your own way.”
I wanted to ask, if you don’t mind, if you had one book in your list to recommend in particular that touches upon this sort of way of thinking. I had a look through your book club books and there are so many interesting titles, but if you had one to recommend for a busy mama, which one might it be?
Also, you are an incredible writer. Bravo on this blog!
Hi Julia! Thank you for your encouraging words — they mean so much. My all time favorite book is called The Art of Possibility by Benjamin Zander. As the title suggests, it’s all about that way of thinking. Let me know if you end up reading it. I think you’ll love it! :) xo Caroline
Chrissy Lilly says
It’s really nice to know that you have an emergency fund too. I had an event to go to last night and found a hole in my shirt when I got to work. I went shopping during lunch for a replacement, but felt like I was cheating.
I’m on my first capsule wardrobe and I’ve definitely understood the “learning curve” concept. I made my wardrobe this season way too casual and didn’t account for any “semi formal” nights that I would go on. Point taken for next season!