Back to the Capsule (Wardrobe)

Yesterday, I did a thing.

I took everything out of my closet and hung up the things I am 100% sure I like and want to wear. I didn’t count them, or plan outfits, or try anything on — I know what works pretty well at this point. Here’s what I ended up with.

I counted everything on hangers and the folded knitwear, including the jeans and cardigan I wore yesterday (which I will keep in rotation), and I ended up with about 32 core capsule items.
This core capsule excludes:
Shoes (about 23-25 pairs, all-in, for fall/winter)
Tees (six solid long-sleeve, 10 solid short-sleeve*)
Pajamas (two sets)
Workout clothing (approximately 5/6 leggings, same for bras, and 3 tanks)
Outerwear (off top of my head, about 15 or so items in desperate need of review/purging; I’m hoping our family can review coats this weekend).

My thinking is that the core capsule items are the pieces you see and build the outfit around. The other pieces, as much as socks, etc., are meant to augment the outfit, rather than form it. My tees are so often covered this time of year, and serve so many functions. I was tired of giving hanger real estate to them, and tired of sifting through leggings I don’t wear and pajama pieces that don’t match, and I wanted to fold my knits. So.

*My short sleeve tees include my base layers, workout layers, and can serve as lounge or PJ items, which is why there are so many. I did not choose to include any message or printed tees in my fall/winter capsule because I won’t really wear them much until spring/summer rolls around again.

Here’s what made the cut, and my thoughts on the what/why:

  1. Eight18 casual striped knit top in gray/white
    New, Stitch Fix, 2019
    I just bought this top earlier this fall. I liked that it was the same general vibe of a long-sleeve tee, but it was a bit warmer and a little nicer-looking than a plain tee on my body.
  2. Kut from the Kloth knit pocket tab-sleeve top in burgundy/navy/cream
    New, Stitch Fix, 2019
    I requested plaid in a late-summer fix and this item came. I’ve worn it a few times and I love it! It’s great in warmer weather with the sleeves rolled, and the colors are great for fall/winter. It’s very soft.
  3. Russell Washburn Law School sweatshirt in navy
    Hand-me-down, 1999
    This was my late father’s; Washburn is where he taught law. I don’t wear it often, but have zero plans to part with it, and have started to wear it more. It’s nice and straight, it’s not bulky, it’s oversized (because it was my dad’s), and it makes me think of him.
  4. Gulf Shores AL wide-neck sweatshirt in gray/navy.
    New, Tourist Shop, 2018
    I picked this up in Alabama because I was cold and handn’t packed long-sleeve lounge wear for our trip. I wear it frequently over my pajama tees and tanks when I’m cold. The wide neck is especially flattering over the tanks. I also like this with shorts, and over jeans around the house. I don’t wear it out much, because it’s a touch more athleisure-casual than I prefer for myself.
  5. J.Crew sweatshirt in heathered oatmeal.
    New, 2004-ish.
    I still live in my apartment when I bought this. As in, before I formally lived with Joe, before I graduated from law school, before I moved into either house or decluttered my home and closet over and over again. It’s been through the ringer – it’s been dirtied, stretched, bled on (thanks, kids), and it should be too small. But it keeps on going, and I like the grey flecks in the cream colorway so much.
  6. Everlane Alpaca Crew Sweater in Charcoal Heather.
    New, 2018
    I bought this last winter and I love it. It’s so, so soft and very warm! I wear it frequently. I like that it’s a bit softer than black and pairs as well with black trousers as with jeans. There is a pretty off-white color I’m eyeing too, and may pick up at some point in the cardigan!
  7. TK Knits Texture Knit in Cerulean.
    New, Stitch Fix, 2018
    I purchased this in the spring of 2018 because I really loved the shape and color; with light wash jeans, it has a very 80s vibe; with a wide-leg crop or skirt or darker jeans, it feels more modern. It’s triacetate, which I am not a huge fan of – it’s very warm and doesn’t breathe well, but that makes it a good option for winter. I actually like this top for church, and would like to try it over my black dress (the last photo in the gallery), because I think they’d pair well.
  8. Knyt&Lynk cashmere-blend side-zip sweater in burgundy.
    New, Stitch Fix, 2018
    I picked this up last fall when I asked for more luxury fabrics. It drapes nicely, and the zippers are a really fun detail. It’s soft, but not as soft as pure cashmere, but like it a lot. It’s also heavier, and warmer, which is nice in the winter.
  9. Eileen Fisher pullover in tobacco blush.
    Secondhand, Poshmark, 2018
    This might be my favorite top in my wardrobe. I wear it very-nearly year-round. The color is divine, perfectly straddling pink and tan, so it reads as a neutral. It works well with denim and is delicious with cognac. It’s warm, especially when layered, but thin and light enough to wear in warmer weather. It’s amazing over white jeans. I recently had to fix a moth hole, and I hope it will hold up for several more seasons.
  10. RD Style pullover sweater in ecru.
    New, Stitch Fix, 2018
    I love this sweater! It’s a cotton blend, and I do wish it was entirely cotton, because it pills pretty badly. But the color is so flexible, and I love the curved hem and raglan sleeve detail. I wear this FREQUENTLY.
  11. Goldray rib cuff pullover in dark olive
    New, Stitch Fix, 2019
    This is my newest item, from my most recent Fix (I get them monthly, and pause them when I need to address budget goals). I really like this piece – the thick crew is a different neckline for me, and the deep cuffs are interesting. It’s also nice and warm!
  12. Leo & Nicole dot sweater in navy
    New, Stitch Fix, 2019
    I usually only get one or two items per Fix, but this was from a really great Fix where I kept all five. This top is a cotton blend and very cozy, but fitted and small enough to wear almost like a tee. It dresses up and down well, and the dot texture is so interesting!
  13. Old Navy knit poncho in rust.
    New, 2013
    I purchased this on deep discount from the sale rack at Old Navy – I seriously think it was about $4.99. It’s short sleeved and the sides are stitched closed, so I can wear it over a tee/tank in warmer weather, or over long sleeves in the fall/winter. It’s been surprisingly versatile, and I really love the color. It’s very thin and loosely-knit, and drapes well. It’s long enough to be a tunic, but thin enough to half-tuck, too. I have also worn it over more body-conscious dresses (when I’m feeling more body SELF-conscious, which is common after having kids), and it’s great for that, too.
  14. Eileen Fisher silk tank in black.
    New, Trunk Club, 2015
    I tried Trunk Club as a counter to Stitch Fix in 2015, and LOVED IT, but the styling fee, restyling fee for size exchanges, and much higher price point didn’t work for me with a part-time income (and especially not now that I’m at home and my body’s changing). That said, I love this piece – it’s SUCH a work horse. The only thing I’d change is that I wish it was about 2″ (or so) longer – my long torso precludes tucking this into anything but the highest-rise pants, and it threatens to show midriff in anything lower. But it’s an amazing layer, and the wide straps and drape make it fine on its own and easy to dress up.
  15. Papermoon tulip-sleeve blouse in burgundy
    New, 2015
    This item was from my second Fix, back in late 2015. I love this top for work, and it dresses up nicely with black trousers or a skirt for slightly-dressy events. I love the burgundy. It’s polyester, and has a few tiny snags, so it might not last too much longer, but I’ve worn it several times (except while pregnant with Lolo) since I got it and I still really like it a lot.
  16. Jamie & the Jones raw silk T Top in Olive
    Secondhand, Instagram, 2019
    I have been so curious about the Jamie and the Jones tops since I’ve seen them. I snagged this one in olive raw silk as soon as it popped up for sale. It was like-new condition for $80 less than retail and I wear it FREQUENTLY to church. I’m finding it to be easy to layer and a real year-round piece.
  17. LUSH wrap-front blouse in navy
    Gifted, Nordstrom, 2016
    I requested this for Christmas in 2016 because I thought it would be a good option while I was breastfeeding, and kind for my postpartum tummy (I was pregnant with Lolo at the time). It was! I do, occasionally, find it trick to wear absent those two criteria, but I like the long back and the simple, but not straightforward, styling. So I’m trying it this winter. The 3/4 sleeves may not work frequently, as I generally prefer full-length sleeves once it’s cold.
  18. The Korner silk dotty top in navy, gray, and cream.
    New, Stitch Fix, 2018
    I bought this from the same Fix as my cashmere top. I love it! I find pairing it with pants a bit hard… it feels dressy with jeans, but I don’t have pants other than below right now. I like it with olive, but I’d like to find a good navy or cream or gray option to wear, too, though I think it’d work well with my wide-leg trousers in the spring, so might try that.
  19. Levi’s 501 cropped/tapered in light black wash.
    New, 2017
    I bought these after Lolo was born. I just (today) cropped about 2″ off for a raw hem after struggling with the length (about 28″ or so; my inseam is SO short that I was cuffing them 2″ and didn’t like that look). I considered hemming them, because I’ve been reluctant to adopt the raw-hem trend (it feels trendy and a bit cheap, and I’ve had to do this often to jeans in the past, so it reminds me of how infrequently clothing is ready-to-wear for us shorties). That said, I won’t be dressing up the washed black like other washes, I have been curious about whether I’d find the trend wearable after all this time, I wish I had five-button 501s (these have four buttons), and after sitting in an alterations back for six months, I was ready to wear them NOW. So. Let’s do this. I’ll post an outfit pick next time I wear them. They are in the dryer now to fray the raw hem (after washing them).
  20. Old Navy Perfect Straight Button Fly in dark/medium wash.
    New, 2019
    These are almost perfect. The inseam is right, the rise is great, there’s an exposed button fly, which is interesting and on trend, and it’s not a skinny jean. It cuffs well, and they are comfortable. My only complaints are that I wish they were thicker. So. Success.
  21. Democracy stretch bootcut in light/medium wash (they call it indigo)
    New, Stitch Fix, 2019
    I’m nearly over super-stretchy denim, but these were SO comfortable, and I was so enamored with the wash that I made an exception. I do wish they were less stretchy! I have found they don’t last more than a year or so. We’ll see.
  22. Banana Republic button pocket wide-leg jeans.
    Secondhand/clothing swap, 2010?
    I got these from a friend and I love them, even though they are pretty dated. They are actual denim, a perfect mid-blue wash, and they look great with all my sneakers. If they had more traditional pockets and a higher rise, they’d be perfect. That said, I don’t think I’ll get rid of them in the foreseeable future.
  23. Merona (Target) ankle trouser in black
    New, 2017
    I bought these for my return to work after Lolo was born in 2017. They have actually become a favorite, and I wear them all the time, even now that I’m staying home! They feel like joggers or sweats…almost. They are perfect for church.
  24. Lands End Chino in slate.
    New, circa 2008.
    Lands End had an option (maybe they still do?) to order chinos and have them hemmed to your preferred length. These have been great. I’ve nearly purged them SO many times (they stretch out too much when I’m ten pounds lighter than I am, and I wish the rise was higher), but the color is perfect, and I keep coming back, so they stay. I like them in the summer with their hem rolled, and if they ever wear a hole, I might just chop the bottoms to a raw hem and keep them with that different aesthetic. They’ve really worn like iron, though, and I love them for yard work or futzing about they do hold up well and I’m not afraid to hurt them!
  25. Seamly 3 way Cardigan in oatmeal.
    New, circa 2011 or 2012.
    I almost always wear this open, but you can close it and wear it as a dress, or tie it up and wear it as a drapey option. I have worn it as a dress, but ever since I did while pregnant with the twins, I feel like I look a bit too much like I’m cosplaying Padme Amidala… anyway, Seamly is a great company that was started to create versatile, multi-use items out of deadstock. The most famous item was the Versalette.
  26. Universal Thread duster cardigan in gray.
    New, 2017 or 2018
    I bought this from Target in a moment of weakness, probably after immediately swearing off synthetic knits (it’s entirely synthetic). I wear it frequently. I struggle with dusters looking like bathrobes. If this ones does, however, I’m not sure I care…
  27. Cotton Emporium space-dye pocket cardigan in black.
    New, Stitch Fix, 2019
    I got this cardigan over the summer. I wasn’t impressed with the preview card, but I really liked it and the colorway in person. The drapey pockets and space dye are fun over black clothes and it’s not too heavy for warm weather. Curious to see if I reach for it now that the cold is coming in.
  28. Evolution scallop-edge cardigan in navy
    New, Stitch Fix, 2019
    I didn’t expect to like this one, too, but it feels great and the scallop detail is nicely dressy! I have only worn it a couple of times because it’s pretty warm, but I’m excited to style it for church now that it’s cooler. This was from the all-five fix, along with a white top that’s warm-weather only, a red eyelet dress (same), and the stretch boot jeans, above.
  29. Pink Clover open-front cardigan in light olive.
    New, Stitch Fix, 2019
    This is from the same fix as the black space-dye cardigan. Again, nothing exciting on a hanger, but I have been wearing a lot more green (and purposely adding it to my wardrobe), so it’s been really versatile and soft.
  30. Birds of Paradise by Trovata stripe wool cardigan.
    Secondhand, Stitch Fix, 2018
    I saw this pop up on Stitch Fix and grabbed it. I adore the pop of cognac with they gray and cream, and I wear it frequently in the cooler weather. I think I snagged it for about 25% of retail price. It feels so essentially “Anthropologie” to me.
  31. A New Day (Target) striped dress in ecru/black.
    New, 2018.
    It has pockets! They are a little tricky based on where they hit my hips, but this dress is great for nearly all four seasons. It’s thick and soft and has held up well over a couple of machine wash/dry cycles.
  32. Lularoe midi dress in black.
    New, 2016
    I bought this, and a LOT of other Lularoe, during and after my pregnancies. Stretchy clothes beckon to the postpartum body, and I had friends who were selling the stuff, so I tried several pieces. I have three of this style (two are a size down and too small at the moment, so packed away), one in a pocketed/more structured style, several in a more body-con style (also too small, also packed), a few stretchy skirts (two packed, one slated for donation), a couple of tees (will donate), and a lot of leggings that make my legs itch like crazy. I’m over the brand (and WAY not into the brand’s ethics or ethos), but I’m still a fan of this particular dress.

This is quite long, so I’ll wrap up and save fall/winter footwear and outerwear for another post. I’ve naturally cultivated a palette that relies heavily on neutrals, and my preferred colors are navy/slate, olive, and burgundy. I do like a bit of mustard, and may add some of that, too, for fall/winter, and I find it transitions well with chambray and navy and white into spring.

Before I go, here’s the peek at the lounge/PJ and workout drawers, and a look at my long-/short-sleeved tee colors:

Next post: State of the fall/winter shoes and outerwear. Whee!

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