Capsule wardrobe 102: Assembling your wardrobe + shopping smarter

“Butthead” is the only word that can describe how I’ve acted this past week. While I have made progress in recognizing and somewhat taming my mood swings, I usually am able to do those things a few days in and after offending at least three innocent bystanders. Instead of martyring myself with over-indulgent, self-pitying apologies (okay, after one or two) I’m going to forgo the instinctive guilt and use it as a big fat lesson (and blog post) for next time. But sometimes one of the most helpful things I can do before or during a mood swing is putting myself in a social timeout until it passes. While some of my random obsessions are unproductive diversions, actually assembling my capsule wardrobe has given me a place to focus any and all beserk energy. AND SO CAN YOU!

After Capsule Wardrobe 101, you’re feeling the foolhardy cockiness of a sophomore. You’ve tackled the monster that was in your closet and lived to tell the tale. Oh, but what’s that? You’re now feeling slightly overwhelmed at the thought of defining your style and narrowing the scope of your tremendous taste in fashion to under 40 items? Look, I won’t tell any of your friends. Here are some handy tips and tools to sharpening the definition of your personal style and shopping much smarter than we’ve been conditioned to do all our lives.

  1. PLANNING MAKES PERFECT: Now that you’ve whittled down your current wardrobe, you’re ready to replenish it! First, assess your needs for the given time period. For my January-March capsule wardrobe, I had to factor in a hypothetical job interview, possible nasty cold weather, and layering pieces since Virginia can go from snow to sun in seconds. Do you need to replace a staple item that you’ve worn out? What environments will your clothing need to accommodate in the coming months? What purposes will they serve? After viewing lots of capsule wardrobe blogs and vlogs, I kept their guidelines and advice in mind while listing out my existing items before writing out what I want and need to add. The Capsule Wardrobe Planner by Un-Fancy is seriously such a fantastic place to start. I didn’t fill it out but I did reference it a lot when honing the idea of my personal style. It’s also a good idea to define the limits of your budget before going shopping.
  2. VISUALIZE, VISUALIZE, VISUALIZE: Even though I’m a language-based lady, creating a Pinterest board solely dedicated to my capsule wardrobe helped me to see how different facets of my fashion could work together. It also inspired me with new and unexpected ways to wear that “odd man out” piece- I never knew my Sanita clogs or faux fur vest could be so versatile!
    Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 11.00.09 PM Lookbook is also an amazing resource for that as well, since you’re searching through the outfits of some incredibly hip folks. Or if computers aren’t your thing, create a physical vision board from magazines, photos, old advertisements, whatever will trigger some focus. If you’re not into Pinterest or crafting, don’t worry. You’ve still got plenty of digital options.
  3. THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT: There are so many style sites and apps out there to help you keep your closet contents straight, create outfits from your existing wardrobe, or direct you where to buy that perfect such-and-such item you’ve been searching for so earnestly. By far the most popular resources are Polyvore (which I use to locate items or an item similar to something out of stock) and Stylebook (which I personally haven’t tried because it costs money.)

    I tried the app Stuff N Style which was both free and great to use- it’s just not something I see myself using beyond making some graphics for this post. If you are less than confident in your fashion abilities, you can even request for a stylist to create outfits from your uploaded items.

  4. BUY SECONDHAND: Some of this post will be a repeat from my Fall 2015 haul video so apologies if you’ve been a faithful follower of mine (also thank you and I love you.) But I will continue stressing how great employing clothing reuse can be- for the environment, for you, and for your wallet. According to the Environment Health Perspectives journal article “Waste Couture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry,” only 21% of Americans’ yearly clothing purchases actually stay in the respective buyer’s household. So it’s no surprise that apparently Americans annually throw away 68 pounds of clothing per person– yikes. Not to mention the pollution brought on by manufacturing (especially man-made fibers) and transporting goods.
    On a selfish level, when I buy secondhand, I spend less money while buying high quality and lasting pieces. Winning all around. Not everything in my capsule wardrobe is secondhand (15 of the 35 items currently are) but you’d be surprised by what I managed to find (and their prices.) For example, my J Crew plaid wool peacoat that I bought on eBay for $150? It was originally sold for $350. Not to mention that it’s my favorite coat I’ve ever had and I know I’ll wear it for many winters to come. Go to your local vintage store, thrift shop, or yard sale if you want a bit more of a challenge. I opted for eBay and Poshmark with all my recent thrifting detective work. Bonus! You can get a feel for selling your recently discarded clothing online to finance your new purchases.
  5. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY: Remember that the aim of a capsule wardrobe is to invest in simple, quality, versatile pieces that will not only last but make you feel great. And chances are, you’re going to have to spend more money than a lot of the quick fix purchases we’ve gotten used to with fast fashion. I know that sentiment seems to conflict with the above point but by buying less with more money, you’ll end up saving yourself money, time, headache, and self-esteem.
    IMG_6440-0After a sale and a coupon code, I actually purchased this J. Crew vest for around $70 after shipping and taxes. Still, that’s a $50 difference. I’m not saying that more expensive always equates to a better product. And I’m not saying I don’t have a good number of F21 items in my current wardrobe. With clothes, though, it’s wise to at least look into brands that you know produce reliable retail, even if that means putting down a little bit more money. Think of it as an investment. I don’t use this sentiment to go Dolce and Gabbana but J. Crew has now become one of my favorite brands. Their products are sturdy, suit my style, and flatter my body type. A year or two ago, I don’t think I even gave this brand a second glance, much less any of my money. But as you can see from the above comparison, there’s a world of difference in materials, fit, and detailing.
  6. QUIT HITTING REPEAT: I’ll keep this one simple. Even though I adore the above vest and wanted to buy one in every color, I don’t need more than that one. Even if a tiny voice denies that as I type this, I really don’t. It won’t make my wardrobe less confusing or more diverse.
    IMG_6504Now let’s say the issue are two similar (but not identical) items. There’s no need for me to have both of these cardigans. I wouldn’t wear one the day after the other. I’d most likely wear them with the same accompanying items. So I advise you to find your proverbial black and white geometric cardigans and choose which one you love most. Which is more flattering? Which do you find yourself reaching for when getting dressed? As we’ve learned from countless teenage dystopian sagas, love triangles never work out.
  7. BE PATIENT: On that note, do not feel the pressure to get everything right this very second. That was some advice from other bloggers that I did not heed and so have gotten myself into a bit of a financial hole for the near future. It’s better to wait and find that perfect (or near perfect) piece rather settling for something you’re not thrilled about in order to satisfy your self-imposed time limits. The thing about a capsule wardrobe is that anything- the time limit, the item limit, anything I’ve written so far on the subject- is going to be a suggestion. This is about making your life simpler and in that simplicity, bringing about some missing chill and satisfaction. I’ll say it again- be realistic and patient with your budget without compromising your taste.
  8. CLOSE YOUR WALLET: Okay, after you’ve assembled your wardrobe to the best of your ability, it’s actually time to stop shopping. It’s kind of funny how after all my obsessive planning for this capsule wardrobe that I actually felt a bit shocked at the idea of no more shopping until the end of March, at the very least. I don’t know about you but I’m an emotional shopper and a boredom shopper. This is a dangerous combination, especially when finding that next super cute item became a nightly and morning ritual. Ask anyone in my office- it’s comical how many packages I’ve carried back to my desk this past year. So do what you need to: hide your credit card, delete shopping apps from your phone, don’t rise to the bait of any email SALE! SALE! SALE! subject lines, don’t let yourself drift to the homepage of your favorite fast fashion store just to see what’s new. I have found that knowing I love the pieces I have and feel great in them, this seriously curbs my appetite for new purchases. It’s still there, of course, but just much quieter and easier to resist now.

And since we’re both now ready to serve up some hotness with our capsule wardrobes, I’ll show you what I’m including with my collection for January through March of this year.


Although most blogs advise not including accessories into your count, I made sure to still limit myself. If not, I know there’d be about 12 new purses in my closet within the week and then we’d be back to square one. I also counted my blanket scarf as a clothing item rather than an accessory because it can be styled in a number of ways. Since I’m a few items short of the usual capsule wardrobe numbers, I’m really tempted to bring my white Patagonia fleece into the fold. We’ll see if I end up doing that or not, it’s the only exception I’m allowing myself. AND if I get the nutrition job that I’m interviewing for next week, that will be another environment I’ll need to cater to for 40 hours a week. Again, we’ll see!

I’m really excited to see what outfits I’ll be able to show you in my Capsule Wardrobe 103 post. Do you guys have any ideas for me just by glancing at my selection? Is it completely obvious by the above graphic that I just need to pony up for an actual graphic design computer program? How did I already get to the season finale of Flash? Any tips for me or your fellow minimalists-in-training? Let me know in the comments below, I love hearing from y’all.

For more hair, healthy living, food, and fashion inspiration, be sure to follow Work Hard Stay Humble Co. on BlogLovinPinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram!


Be kind. Live authentically. Practice gratitude. Hustle daily. Work hard. Stay humble.


This is a personal blog. As the creator, I may mention, discuss, and review products but I have not been paid or sponsored for any of my opinions. My opinions reflect only my personal feelings and experiences, unless otherwise specified. I do not claim copyright on any of the shown products. Images shown are original content edited with type and designs from the app Retype. Any media, writing, or other website content published is created and owned by the author, unless otherwise specified.


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