Before we jump into our Q&A, I just have to let you know that this may be one of my favorite winter outfits ever. Warm and cozy for winter + light and bright for spring. Okay … Q&A … go!
I often times like to stock up on cute sweaters or usually pricey boots at the end of season when they’re on sale. How do you approach end of season sales? Do you just accept the fact that they don’t fit into your method? —Megan
Great question! In the past, I had virtually no willpower when it came to shopping. I was especially hopeless when it came to sales, and I always got sucked into the Sale Vortex. We’ve all been there, right? You know, where you buy things just because they are on sale, not because you actually need them.
So when I first started living with a capsule wardrobe, it was important for me to have a rigid structure to help me change my habits. For me, that looked like steering clear of all shopping — including sales — except for the four times a year I allowed myself to shop.
Life-changing? You bet.
Now that I’m a year in to capsule wardrobe living, I’m loosening up my “rules” a bit. It’s time for me to figure out what a long-term lifestyle of less looks like.
So right now, even though it’s not time to shop according to the “rules”, I’m watching a pair of boots at Madewell. They are steadily dropping in price, and I’m waiting for the right moment to snatch them up.
My best advice for smart sale shopping? Make a list and stay laser focused on those specific items you’re shopping for — that way, you won’t get sucked in to the Sale Vortex.
P.S. Want to know something crazy? Last year, it turned out that every single one of my four shopping times actually corresponded with a sale of some sort. So while I didn’t specifically plan to hit up those sales, I ended up getting to take advantage them. It taught me that sales aren’t as scarce as I think. Very cool.
Can you talk about what you do for special events that require an outfit outside your capsule? (Hello, wedding season!) —Lindsay
Absolutely. In fact, a few months ago, I wrote a post about my special occasion capsule wardrobe and how to build one without breaking the bank. Check it out here.
Hat: old from HM (similar)
Pants: old from J.Crew Factory (similar)
Shoes: old from Nordstrom Rack (similar)
Wow! Absolutely love this. Definitely a favorite! I have a couple hats like this that I love and really think they complete an outfit, but I struggle with where to wear them? Do you just throw caution to the wind and where it anywhere? Love hats, but I find it so much easier to wear them in the summer when my destination is outside…
When you say “watching”, do you mean you visit the Madewell site often to check the price, or do you use some sort of app or something to watch and alert you? I remember hearing about some sort of app or site that would do that but neglected to note down the info and now I can’t find it. It would be so useful for this purpose.
As always, it’s fascinating to hear about your evolution. It seems very healthy.
You have also changed how I see things: I used to love fashion blogs that have a wide variety of different outfits depicted. Now when I see yet another outfit with completely new pieces, I find myself imagining all those clothes and feel a shudder at the thought of where on earth the blogger keeps them all. It is very surprising to me that this change has happened in me, because I’m easily bored and never thought a capsule wardrobe system would appeal to me when I first read about it (on Into Mind). And yet, here I am!
I use shoptagr – I think there are other ones, but this was pretty easy to use. Sign on for an account, pick the items that you are watching and choose when you want shoptagr to notify you of a price drop (25%,50%, etc).
I love the first question about sales. I live in New York and have gotten really good at finding the best sample sales but I have been struggling with how to shop them inside of a capsule wardrobe calendar. My favorite one occurs in February and August. Like you, I have been using the capsule system to steer myself away from using shopping to lift my mood. It has been liberating and empowering and I am in love with minimalism as a guide in everything I create. Now I need to figure out how to shop those sample sales and also add in some staples at different points during the year. Love your blog.
Okay, this is definitely my favorite winter outfit so far. I’m itching for spring and this outfit is seriously such a fantastic combo of winter without feeling like you are wrapped in a sweater cocoon. Although, I do love being in a sweater cocoon…
Have a wonderful day!!
Tania [girlwithanakita] says
Let us take a step back and stare at this perfect outfit.
I really like that you tell us about your evolution. I am aware of all the crazies out there that feel the need to dissect EVERYTHING you do and your choices without even realizing that you’re doing this blog to not only help others, but help yourself grow.
I’m grateful that most of the websites I shop either have wish lists or save items to my shopping bag… so I usually go through and add items I like to my shopping bag or wish list, and when a sale hits I look through to see what of my items goes on sale and work really hard not to peruse anything else. I recently also did a website search of sale schedules for some online shops (to see if I could coordinate my shopping with one of Shopbop’s 25% of everything events), which also helps me with my planning.
I can’t help but plan for spring these days, and am so grateful for the planning/Pinteresting/Wishlisting instead of the shopping. I typically find the PERFECT item only to find another one I like just as much if not better the following week. Pinterest is helping me create a cohesive look while filtering items out as I go, so when I finally go shopping, I have a carefully curated (and very specific) shopping list to keep me from straying.
I often hear about the best time to purchase certain items (like cars, etc.) Is there a sale season for clothing that we could use to plan our capsule wardrobe purchasing?
Tania [girlwithanakita] says
I tried to figure this out! But outside of the big sales that the company spends time to stick to (like the VS semi annual sale), most clothing stores kind of make up their own thing. After this project, I’m beginning to realize that sales aren’t really rare. It’s just a ploy to get you to browse.
The method that’s worked for me is planning out the look I love, stalk the internet to find my perfect item, and watch it go down in price/wait for a coupon. So far so good :)
Jacki, I found this graphic on Into Mind and found it helpful. It might not sync up perfectly, but I’m going to give it a trial run for myself and see how it goes:
I would also recommend renttherunway.com for special events. With my small wardrobe, it allows me to have something trendy (but just for the weekend!). I also like the added perk of having it arrive wherever I’m traveling for the wedding. Read: packing is so much easier, and I don’t have dresses that I only wore once in my wardrobe.
I’ve been using them for five years. No complaints. :)
I love this outfit. It looks so cozy but so chic, too, and that is amazing. And you look amazing.
I think it’s the hat. Hats really need to come back as a major fashion accessory.
Jennifer Robbins says
I had a couple of special events only two weeks after starting my capsule wardrobe. I didn’t have anything to wear and didn’t want to buy anything, so I decided to use Rent the Runway and rented two dresses instead! I had an amazing dress for each event that I could pack up and send back to them. Plus I was able to wear designer labels that I couldn’t afford to actually buy :)
I have almost the opposite problem in that I go shopping and I feel like I can never find what I want. Instead of overbuying, I underbuy and miss out on pieces that could have really polished off my look. It has been amazing how working with a more limited wardrobe has felt so freeing. Now that I have a more limited color scheme and I know what products I already have I am able to freely purchase an item when I finally find one that I love, because I already know how it will fit into my wardrobe.
I’ve gotten a lot better about navigating through sale items at physical stores, but I recently realized how much money/time I’ve been wasting on ONLINE sales. I buy from places that allow returns, but I the time spent to make the returns has just gotten ridiculous. Plus the lost shipping fees. Not to mention, out of my all favorites clothing items, very few of them were online purchases. Everything else I kept from online shopping was eventually donated. I’ve decided to only seek ordering online as a last result with a few exceptions (i.e. out of stock in the store, item only available online at a store I shop at frequently, etc) because it just hasn’t served me well when it comes to clothing. This will limit some of my options, but I think I’ll make better choices.
So glad you posted this about sale shopping. It’s so tempting to buy at end of season sales, but you’re right there are almost always sales. Plus, it seems like whenever I shop at the end of the season, I’ve forgotten about it by the time that season rolls around again and I just ending up shopping more.
P.S. so glad that you have a special occasion capsule. I was struggling with getting rid of some of my special occasion dresses to fit my capsule number. Realistically, I wear most of them during the holiday party circuit and will just break them out for December then put them back in storage.
Laser focused, what a great way to put that. I’ve found myself starting to shop for next season well in advance of the end of this one, but I still feel like I’ve been pretty mindful with it, having a select few items I totally need and super specific criteria for whether something makes the cut. I think as long as you go in with a plan, it’s easier to take advantage of awesome sales without getting sucked into buying impractically. If a discount is so alluring that I consider a purchase that wasn’t on my list, it’s helpful to think about cost-per-wear. If I know I’ll only wear it a couple times, it doesn’t seem so cheap anymore.
Sometimes not looking at the price tag helps me decide if I really love a garment or not. I became aware that when looking on sale racks I would check the price first and fall in love with the idea of getting something (anything!) for $X or X% discount rather than the actual item. Now I have a specific list of items, say smart black pants, needed to fill a gap in my wardrobe. If I go to a sale I only look for smart black pants, then I look at all those available to see if I like them and then try on those to check the fit or potential for alterations. THEN I look at the price. If they aren’t what I need, I don’t like them on the rack or they don’t fit well then they are no use to me even if they were free! Love the fancy outfit capsule. I accidentally built one when we had significant family events (including a daughter’s wedding) in successive years. I had three go-to dresses with all the underwear and shoes required along with either a cardigan (luxe, embellished) or jacket to go with each, which takes them from season to season. Recently I had to give a eulogy at a funeral and by combining one of those dresses with a jacket bought with another I had the perfect, comfortable outfit without any panicked shopping or buyers remorse. In fact I felt great, looked good and had buyers euphoria (or whatever the opposite of remorse is!) as I had another wear out of those very expensive clothes. Keeping them in good condition and ready-to-wear is key. I also recently scored a lovely light-coloured formal dress at a thrift shop with a broken side zipper. For the price of the repair I have another fancy dress to add to the collection this year. It goes with the existing shoes and jackets or I would not have purchased it or even received it for free. So I now have four fancy dresses – two sleeveless, one of which can be worn with a very fine knit underneath, and two with short sleeves and all go with each others jacket or cardigan so I can have numerous outfits just from these seven items – plenty for our usually casual lifestyle.
First of all, love this outfit… secondly, your willpower is definitely admirable! x
Hi Caroline. I fell in love with your blog the minute I found it and immediately set out to “capsule-ize” my closet. I work in an office so I made allowances for both casual & office outfits plus, since I live in California, I narrowed my capsules down to just 2. Now that I am all settled and organized, and interesting thing is happening. Sometimes I’ll see another, better or more versatile version of an item I already have and I feel compelled to buy it in the hopes of perfecting my capsule wardrobe! Obvi this is counterproductive to the capsule concept. Did you go through this when you first started? I’m making myself nuts!
Hi Caroline, love your blog and am so impressed with your capsule wardrobe! I am not sure I’m ready to make the leap on the capsule, but I am trying to minimize, hone my style and feel better with less. I love the idea of investing in quality pieces and giving up the cheap trends. Do you (or readers) have any go-to high quality, American-made/sweatshop-free clothing brands?