In my last post, I shared some lessons I learned from examining my favorite clothes and shoes from this past summer. In the comments section, some of you pointed out that my favorites constituted a workable summer capsule wardrobe. While I hadn’t really tried to create a wardrobe capsule, I have to agree that my favorites work quite well together. Perhaps that’s why I wore them so much!
Since we started discussing capsules, I thought it would be fun to focus this week’s links post on the topics of wardrobe minimalism and capsule dressing. As many of us are looking to shop less and streamline our closets, learning how to create an easily “remixable” wardrobe can help us in these pursuits.
The Fall Season of Project 333 Begins October 1st
This post is especially timely, as a new season of Project 333 begins on October 1st. If you’re intrigued by this minimalist fashion challenge but have yet to give it a try, I highly encourage you to dive in! If you’re scared, I can totally relate. I was scared, too, but I’m so happy I decided to “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!” I learned so much about myself and my wardrobe through doing Project 333 this past April through June and I’m strongly considering giving the challenge (or a variation thereof) another go this fall.
In fact, I plan to revisit the “Dress with Less” microcourse created by Courtney Carver, the founder of Project 333. While you can learn a lot about Project 333 on the “Getting Started” page, the microcourse offers a lot of extra information and support, including 11 PDFs, a recorded webinar, 4 audio messages from Courtney, 2 playlists for inspiration, and access to a private Facebook group for connection and accountability. It’s an excellent deal at only $15 and more than worth the price! (Disclosure: I am an affiliate for this program and will receive a small commission if you purchase it via the link above – but I’d promote it no matter what because it’s great!).
The Beauty of Capsule Dressing
Whether or not you decide to do Project 333 or a similar wardrobe challenge, I believe we can all benefit from learning about the beauty of capsule dressing. Below are some of the best articles I’ve saved from the top mix and match experts out there. Enjoy!
Une Femme d’un Certain Age makes the case for cultivating a simple and minimalist wardrobe. I know many of you don’t need to be convinced of the value of dressing with less, but this article provides extra reinforcement. The bottom line for Une Femme is that too much stuff is oppressive and too many choices are as burdensome as too few. As someone who’s had to work extremely hard to pare down a jam-packed closet, I wholeheartedly agree! Une Femme outlines a few strategies for creating a smaller yet cohesive wardrobe and links to some excellent resources for learning more.
I know many of you read The Vivienne Files and perhaps found “Recovering Shopaholic” through that site’s blog list. Janice Riggs, the author of The Vivienne Files, has been loosely following Project 333 for over a year. Like me, Janice only includes clothing within her 33 and incorporates shoes and accessories to her heart’s content. In this post, Janice shares her thought process for creating her Project 333 capsule last fall. This step-by-step process for combining neutrals, solids, and prints to cultivate a cohesive wardrobe capsule is inspiring and ingenious. As with all of Janice’s posts, there are lots of fun illustrations to highlight her key points.
This link is not just to an article but also to an excellent video on the power of dressing with less. Valentina Thorner da Cruz talks about her Project 333 experience and shows her 33 items, as well as a number of fun outfits she’s created with her minimalist wardrobe capsule. Valentina enjoys having a smaller wardrobe because it eliminates the stress that can come from having too many choices. I highly recommend watching this wonderful 11-minute video!
Jennifer Scott from The Daily Connoisseur advocates the concept of dressing using ten core garments per season and incorporating basics (think t-shirts and cardigans) and accessories to create outfits for all of the occasions of one’s life. She believes in purchasing classic, high-quality pieces that will stand the test of time and allow for chic dressing without closet clutter or sartorial confusion. This article also includes an excellent companion video that shows Jennifer’s core pieces and extras, as well as all of her fall/winter outfits. The music accompaniment is quite catchy and very French!
In one of my previous links posts, I shared the “Wardrobe from Scratch” series from Audrey of Putting Me Together. Well, the ever-helpful Audrey has also created a series on building a remixable wardrobe. This five-part series covers reimagining our clothes, shopping for remixable pieces, the importance of colored bottoms (I need to get on board with that one!), using layering pieces, and accessorizing. Like Janice above, Audrey includes a multitude of photos to illustrate her points (and many of them feature her adorable self in lots of fun outfits!).
This is another informative post from Imogen Lamport of the Inside Out Style blog. She outlines a simple formula for creating 72 outfits from 12 garments. This article includes photos of the 12 garments and accompanying accessories, as well as 21 example outfits featuring the lovely Imogen herself. I love the bright, colorful outfits Imogen created using her formula of neutral colors, accent colors, and a few patterned tops.
In this comprehensive post, fashion stylist Bridgette Raes presents her three-step formula for creating a versatile mix-and-match wardrobe. Bridgette’s three-prong approach uses base and accent garments, as well as “pop” accessories, to create interesting and cohesive outfits. This article includes lots of photos, as well as detailed instructions, to illustrate the key points. In all, Bridgette shows 42 outfits she created using each base piece three ways. Bridgette revealed that it took her 12 hours to write this post! Her effort was definitely worth it and I’m sure you’ll find the advice and photos as helpful as I did.
I hope you enjoyed this useful links post! If you have any other links to share or would like to offer advice and personal stories on wardrobe minimalism and capsule dressing, I welcome your input. Share away and enjoy the weekend!
These are some really good links Debbie! I’d already read the ones from The Vivienne Files, P333, Putting Me Together, and Inside Out Style. I’m looking forward to these others, especially the Bridgette Raes one. Thanks for putting this together for us.
Glad you like the links, Kim! I hope you enjoy the ones that are new to you.
Thanks for including my post! I know you saw my post about my thoughts on the ten piece wardrobe. I’m not convinced it is the best strategy, but that is just me. http://www.bridgetteraes.com/2013/09/04/whittling-down-your-wardrobe/
Good post and links Debbie. And Bridgette, I agree. A workable closet isn’t about the exact number of pieces – it is about how usable it all is. I’m in my final stages of getting my closet organized for fall/winter, about 35 items. But this year I’ve decided to also keep my small collection of summer clothes in the closet, and I’m going to wear whatever I want and feel I need based on the weather, instead of limiting myself to an exact number.
Although I identify strongly with Project 333, the number of items I have and wear are based on my own personal lifestyle needs.
You’re welcome, Bridgette! I really love reading your insights and am happy to share. I remember the post about whittling down your wardrobe and definitely agree with what you wrote. I don’t think there is an ideal number of items in a woman’s wardrobe and I don’t think I will ever be a true wardrobe minimalist like what’s portrayed in “the 10-item wardrobe.” However, I know that many of my readers aspire to much smaller wardrobes than I do, so I like to present different perspectives so they can see what fits best for them. Thanks for sharing your other link, as I’m sure people will like reading those insights, too (and I’ll enjoy re-reading them).
Terra, I love how you’re bending the rules of Project 333 to make it work better for you. Because we live in areas that offer warm weather on and off year-round, I think it’s a good idea to keep some summer clothes front and center for those unseasonably warm days. The point is for us to have wardrobes that work for US. Project 333, the 10-item wardrobe, and other challenges are frameworks that can help in that endeavor and I think it’s wise to adapt those things for us instead of always feeling like we have to “follow the rules” exactly. As you’ve probably guessed, I’m a bit of a rule-breaker myself (and proud of it!) . 🙂
I took your suggestion to evaluate my MVPs for the summer. I noticed that I had 24 garments that I wore frequently (more than 4 times) and 8 that I wore 2-3 times. I had very few that I wore only once. So I feel like I actually wore a capsule wardrobe without even realizing it! I didn’t purposefully plan to limit the number of garments; I just naturally did. I also realized that I truly need far fewer clothes than I ever imagined. And I didn’t get bored because I gave myself full access to my entire wardrobe. I just didn’t need as much as I thought.
I never would have undertaken this project without your support. I now have lists of everything I own divided up into mini-wardrobes by the four seasons. I plan to evaluate what I wear every month to see what I am actually wearing. Then I plan to get rid of those items I never wear and make a list of items I might like for next year.
I feel like I am becoming much more relaxed and not nearly so anxious about acquiring more. The overwhelming urge to shop seems to be waning somewhat. Thanks for the example you have set. You are a real treasure.
I’m so glad my posts and insights have been helpful for you, Anne! My experience has been much like yours. The reason I opted not to do Project 333 again for July-September was to see what I actually wear and like wearing instead of having to choose the clothes in advance. I think I learned some great new and different insights through doing what I did (wearing what I want and tracking what I wear) instead of doing another round of Project 333. Of course, everyone is different and it works well for some people to keep doing Project 333 over and over. Know thyself is the best maxim here… Thank you so much for your kind words! My eyes welled up a bit at being called a treasure, but I really appreciate what you wrote.
With this post you’ve presented the key to a workable, well-edited wardrobe. About 25+ ago, I developed what is now known as a capsule wardrobe based on a few neutral colors (jackets, skirts, pants, dresses), accent colors (skirts, tops, pants, etc.) and “pops of color” (accessories). The wardrobe has evolved over time as my life has changed, from power business suits to business casual to “semi-retired” work and casual clothes. The color palette has virtually remained the same, but the style of clothing has become less formal. I have “re-purposed” many clothing items, making the formal less formal, changing out accessories, etc. Because this wardrobe works so well, I now only buy replacement clothing items and I’m able to limit my clothing budget accordingly. I don’t buy any top that doesn’t work with all (or nearly all) of my pants or skirts, etc. I limit the amount of patten in the core pieces of my wardrobe, and focus on patten in accessories, like scarves, or in inexpensive tees and blouses. I am not seduced by sales, recreational shopping, fashion magazines., etc. I buy what I know works well for me, I stick to “my colors,” and I limit my purchases to what I really need.
What you described is where I hope to get before too long, Dottie. I am getting there and am really seeing the value in shopping less and having a workable capsule wardrobe. It’s great that you’ve been able to evolve and re-purpose your wardrobe through lots of life changes. I can definitely see myself doing the same and shopping much less as I hone my wardrobe into what works best for my lifestyle. I am getting a glimpse into how wonderful and empowering that can be, but I’m also trying to be gentle with myself, as I know that all changes and transformations take time.
The epiphany for developing a “capsule “wardrobe came about 25 years ago when I was house- and pet- sitting for a well-dressed friend. While looking for Kitty (to give him his ear drops), I opened her closet. There, hanging in the center of a large walk-in closet, were about 25 garments, including jeans and t-shirts. I realized that my well-attired friend had invested in quality clothing and was a savvy dresser who knew how to make her wardrobe fresh and exciting. I went home and looked at my much bigger and somewhat less cohesive wardrobe, and vowed to follow my friend’s strategy. And I have. I have no “bench warmers” in my closet. I repeatedly wear the same stuff (because I love everything I have), with seasonal adjustments and with slight changes in how I wear stuff (belted/unbelted, layered/going solo, etc.).
I wrote about a very similar experience early in my blog:https://recoveringshopaholic.com/dont-need-a-large-wardrobe-to-be-stylish/. It took me a lot longer to “get it” but I’m glad to finally be adopting my friend’s strategy a number of years later. I really expected her to have a HUGE wardrobe, but it was much smaller than mine. Interestingly, as I pare my wardrobe down, I’m happier both with what I have and how I dress. My wardrobe is still too large, but the “benchwarmers” are all leaving and I’m better able to use what I have!
Yeah!!! The capsule wardrobe topic is the one dearest to my heart and my wardrobe-so glad you have now hit this subject. In a prior post I mentioned that I have streamlined my clothing into color capsules-I have 6 of them in my core colors(although many capsule dressers only have a few,I couldn’t decide which ones I liked more than another and so chose to do the 6 I like). With my strategy of what each must contain I have really no more than 36 items within my closet. This doesn’t include outerwear.
My strategy is simple- within each of the core color capsules there are min.four items and max. of 5 to 7 items. Each one must contain bottoms(I don’t do skirts so I have trousers of some sort, a topper such as a cardigan or blazer and 1 to 2 shirts or pullovers ,etc) . So for example my black core contains a black suit ,black jeans,a pull-over,black cardigan ,pair of houndstooth trousers(black& white), a 3/4 sleeve black jersey top and a sleeveless tank or the blue capsule contains blue jeans, a navy blazer, a pull-over, navy longer length cardigan , a blue sleeveless top and a lavender silk buttondown shirt. All other core color capsules follow the same principle. It makes life so amazingly simple- I know exactly what I have and all works together(ie: the black blazer can pair with my gray cords or the navy blazer with my white jeans and so on&so on. It also simplfies shopping as I know exactly what I have to buy when the time comes. I chose to bring the color to my wardrobe with scarves, jewelry and shoes(again on this I have a wall rack that only holds 22 pairs and so if there’s new ones brought in, somebody has to leave/I also do this with the clothes by ONLY having one hanger for an item(ie: if I buy a new blue top than the one in the core has to go).
My number of items within each core is an individual thing and one can set any number they are comfortable with as long as each item fits well both in body and lifestyle(2 excellent points you have discussed prior Debbie regarding dressing for your”real life” and alterations on anything necessary from tanks to jeans). While my wardrobe sounds pretty basic in style, it fits well, suits my real life and is incredibly versatile while hard-working – there is no one who does not earn their keep.
So good to see you commenting here again, Abgurl! Your wardrobe capsule process sounds ingenious and I love it! Thanks so much for sharing your insights with all of us. I’m going to look at my wardrobe and see how many core color capsules I have. I know I have black, grey, and blue covered. I think I have partial capsules in a few other colors, but perhaps my shopping list (for the minimal shopping I will do) should include a few more pieces in other colrs I love, like burgundy and green. I look forward to figuring this out… I like that you have limited space for shoes and limited hangers for clothes. I have a friend who only has a certain number of wooden hangers and has to get rid of things when she runs out of hanger space. She’s never run into the type of closet chaos I’ve had, so perhaps I need to adopt such a policy as well! Your wardrobe sounds beautiful and very workable – kudos to you!
Sounds a bit like my wardrobe! So much easier to purchase clothes and accessories when you’ve already limited the spectrum of choice to a few color palettes and styles. For example, I don’t even LOOK at any clothing in the green-yellow-peach-orange-rust color range — these are not my colors (well, dark forest green is “my color” but I decided 30 years ago to avoid any green as it complicated my color schemes. ) I mostly avoid brown (which I love) except for pants — I have some lovely dark chocolate pants that I use in my black color scheme as another “black.” Blue is a very good color for me, but I have limited my choice of blue to a few items — navy core pieces with icy blue, navy, and royal blue accent colors (blouses, sweaters, tops).
Thank you so much for this wonderful post Debbie! I love your blog and read it every day but don’t often have time to comment but I wanted to thank you for your honesty and insights. I just put together my Fall project 333 wardrobe and I hope you will do it too so I can read your updates.
Thank you, Lynn! I’m glad you liked this post and are finding my blog helpful. I appreciate your taking the time to let me know. Best wishes to you with Project 333. I hope you get as much out of it as I did! I’m not starting a new round in October, but may jump in during November, which is when Fall truly begins where I live. I will keep everyone posted.