An Ethical Fashion Education Series
By: Becky VandenBout | Founder of Joon + Co.
PATIENCE, MY FRIEND, PATIENCE
Building your own capsule wardrobe can be a daunting and overwhelming task. The trick, I’ve found, is patience. Don’t be discouraged (or surprised) if it takes a couple of tries to get it right. Even then, once you’re wearing it out in the world, you’ll learn the styling tricks and hacks that fit your lifestyle, and even more so, the ones that don’t. Patience, my friend, it takes patience.
ONE SIZE FITS ALL
When creating a capsule wardrobe, a lot of people focus on defining the numbers right from the get go. While I’m in full support of the 10x10 challenges that people do, I don’t believe that there’s a magic number for everyone. 10 pieces that make 10 outfits (10x10) is a great place to start, but it’s going to be insanely easy for some and equally hard for others. It depends a lot on your styling abilities, the wardrobe you’re working with, and the type of lifestyle you lead. If you’re a professional that works in an office, you’ll need quite a different wardrobe than a freelance programmer or a nurse who wears scrubs most days.
So let’s dive in, shall we? My approach to capsule wardrobes is a bit backwards from most. Like I said, I don’t believe this is a one size fits all situation, so we’re going to work backwards in order to find the number that suits you. One other thing to note is that I’m a Type A, plan-ahead person, so this is a step by step guide. If you’re more of a go-with-the-flow type, than have fun, give it a read, and interpret my advice as you will. This is a guide meant for all personalities, all levels, and all lifestyles, so please enjoy.
STEP 1: YOUR LIFESTYLE
Grab a sheet of paper and section off the page into various outfit-specific activity buckets. For novices, try to keep it to 3 or under. For example, if you’re a legal professional who works in a business-casual office, but you also workout 7 days a week, and have family time on weekends and evenings, you’ll probably need 3 buckets: Work, Exercise, Family. If you’re a freelance artist with a passion for kayaking and farmers markets, you’ll need a bucket for work as well (things that can get paint/pottery/dust/etc. on them), an outdoors bucket, and an errands bucket. You get the picture. If you’re panicking because you can’t think of any way to combine your workout gear with your work outfits, or there’s simply a bucket of your life that you’d rather not include in your capsule, don’t include it. Totally up to you.
Now go through your calendar of a typical month (or just guess based on an average weekday and weekend day), and write down any activity that fits in that bucket. Write the activity down as many times as it would occur in a month. You can also do this based on a week if your schedule doesn’t vary much.
You’ll notice patterns and/or consistent ratios of where you spend your time, which we’ll use for the next step.
STEP 2: WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE
Go over to your closet and separate the things you love to wear from the things you don’t. From the things you love to wear, further separate the things that youactually wear. That means that formal dress, the faux fur vest, the thigh high boots, probably don’t make the cut unless you live the coolest lifestyle ever (or you’re Carrie Bradshaw), and actually wear those things with some frequency.
(hanging clothes pic)
Once you’ve picked out the pieces that you both loveand wear, hang or lay them near each other, and see what goes together. Look for patterns in color, texture, fabrics, etc. I realize this could be 50 pieces for one person and 2 for another, but continue on and hear me out. If you have at least 7 or 8 pieces that mix and match decently, try creating at least 10 unique looks from them. If this is easy, try creating 20, 30, so on and so forth. This is the number that will determine the duration of your capsule wardrobe, so choose wisely, but remember, it’syour own, so feel free to edit as you go.
Now what to do with those buckets. Eyeball the ratio of activities you’ve listed, and make sure you have a proportionate amount of outfits that fit each bucket.
If you can make at least 10 outfits, filling the appropriate buckets, move onto STEP 4. If you can’t, keep reading.
STEP 3: FILL IN THE GAPS
You’ve heard the term gap analysis, right? That’s the next step. Whether you don’t have enough pieces that you loveand wear, or you have those pieces, but can’t form enough outfits, this is when we figure out how to fill in the holes.
First things first, if you have a closetfull of clothes, and you couldn't find at least 10 pieces that you loveand wear, check out our article on how toresponsibly transition to a eco-conscious wardrobe because lady, who wants a closet full of nothing to wear? We’ve also talked a lot about ways toshop more sustainably online on our blog.
Alternately, if only have a few selected pieces because you have a bit of a smaller closet, there’s nothing wrong with trying out a smaller capsule like 5x5 or whatever length and number of pieces makes your comfortable. You can always plan for a different sized capsule later.
Now it’s time to take inventory of what you’ve got. If you have 25 shirts and 2 pairs of pants, it’s fairly clear where you’re closet is in need of updating. If you’ve picked out 12 dresses, 8 jumpsuits, and no separates, same goes for you. However, as I keep saying, this isyour capsule, so if you just love dresses, you do you, but if you choose dresses for any other reason than you just. love. dresses. than you probably have some gaps.
Once you’ve figured out what these gaps are, fill’em in with your favorite ethical and sustainable fashion brands. Look fortimeless pieces that really speak to your soul. Don’t buy things for any other reason than they make your heart sing, no matter what the price, who the designer, or any other not-good-enough-for-you reason. It’s aboutHow Mindfulness, Minimalism, and Intentional Living Have the Power to Change the Way we Consume. If you need help finding your own true style, we highly recommend the book “The Curated Closet” by Anuschka Rees.
If you’re at a loss of where to go, what to buy, what to spend? We have personal shoppers at the ready that can help you out completely free of charge. You’ll be talking to an actual person, not a chat bot, so take advantage of our love for helping women find their true style. Go to joonandco.com and type “Personal Stylist” into the chat window at the bottom right. Have fun with it, you might even get me as your stylist!
STEP 4: THE PERIPHERALS
I am not a huge accessory person with the exception of my extensive scarf collection, but I know thatso many women are. When it comes to accessories, some folks believe they should be included in the capsule piece count, and others believe they aren’t even needed. I believe that choosing a few, well designed, high quality accessories that go with every outfit in the capsule is a great starting point, and you can customize from there. That’s what we do with our Joon + Co. capsules.
Laundry is another peripheral that people often overlook. If you have chosen all dry clean only pieces and don’t have an on-the-clock laundry service (in other words, you aren’t Jennifer Lawrence), you may have other types of gaps to deal with. If you live in an apartment with coin laundry machines, you may want to include more multi-wear pieces. If you have kids, toddlers and babies especially (I’m right there with you, mama!), keep that in mind when thinking of a laundry schedule for your capsule. Just do what’s right for your own schedule and clothing choices.
Well there you have it, folks. If you’ve read any or all of this and you’re thinking, “geez, that’s a lot of work,” just dig in, man. Start with a 10x10, pick pieces you love, and go from there. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but it can be for those who like to plan. Have fun with it, be creative, and don’t forget to enjoy the process. That’s what life’s all about, right? Either way, now you know a bit more about capsule wardrobes and living a more sustainable lifestyle. Thanks for reading.
Want to know more about capsule wardrobes?Subscribe to our mailing listto be the first to know of our next posts in the Ethical Fashion Education Series. Also, check out our first post in the series,What is a Capsule Wardrobe?