I don't know about you, but my summer has been busy! Full of work, travel, friends, family, and tons of new adventure. All of which I'm so grateful for. In the midst of my busiest season, I find ways to make life a little easier, lighter, and purposeful. One of the areas I can simplify is my wardrobe. Today I'm so thrilled to have the sweet Caroline of Unfancy sharing her approach to creating a capsule wardrobe. What is a capsule wardrobe, you ask? Probably the most genius approach to finding your style in the most simple, attainable, and budget-friendly way. Below, read the Q&A from Caroline, and then go download her free wardrobe planner here!
1. What exactly is a capsule wardrobe?
Simple definition? It’s a mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you love to wear + that fit your day to day lifestyle. For Unfancy purposes, it’s a 37 piece wardrobe that includes tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, and shoes. I create 4 capsule wardrobes a year – one for each season.
2. What inspired you to create a capsule wardrobe?
On Black Friday 2013, I went on a clothes shopping binge, buying anything and everything in the heat of the frenzy. I got home with a mess of Forever21 items that contributed nothing to my style or my needs – and immediately knew this was part of a bigger problem. Recently, I had noticed that I had a bad habit of using shopping as a way to jolt myself out of a meh mood with a little instant gratification. Not the worst thing in the world … but … it hit me pretty hard when I realized I wasn’t shopping for clothes – I was shopping for happiness. No wonder my closet didn’t make any sense.
I wanted a change. I wanted to stop spending money on emotional purchases + stop buying clothes that were going to end up in the donation pile after a month + start finding my style and confidence. I started googling “How to find your style” and discovered the idea of the capsule wardrobe. In an extreme move, I whittled my closet down to 30 pieces + put the rest in storage + went on a shopping hiatus for three months, forcing myself to live with + make the best of my pieces that I’d bought in that Black Friday frenzy.
Even with those pieces that I didn’t love, I was surprised to find that I could make a ton of outfits. And I was even more surprised to find that I was honing in on my style with every day that passed. I got hooked on the idea of a minimal closet, so much so that I wanted to experiment with it as a long term lifestyle.
3. What's your style philosophy?
I think style is a way to play with possibility. With each breath we have another chance to do things differently. To see ourselves differently. Style can help with that. By changing your style, you’re forced to change the way you see yourself. And if you can see yourself differently, you can start to feel differently. About your body. About your worth. About your purpose and role here on this planet.
Think about it -- when you like how you look, you feel more confident. And confident people change the world.
P.S. No one said you have the Pinterest-perfect closet complete with a chandelier + shoe wall in order to have style. It’s not about how much you have, but how you style it.
4. After creating a capsule wardrobe, what/who prompted you to start a style blog?
I was so surprised to find that living with a capsule wardrobe actually reflected my style with dazzling clarity. I couldn’t help but want to share my journey + show women that it was possible to be happier with a lot less.
I remember sitting in the bathtub, of all places, journaling out this silly idea I had to start a blog about style + minimalism. It started out as a journal entry to get it out of my system, but by the end of the page I had talked myself into doing it.
It took me a few days to get up the courage to tell anyone about this burning idea, because I couldn’t bring myself to say the words “fashion blog” with a straight face. But I finally told my two closest lady friends over burgers one night. And then a few days later, casually mentioned it to my husband who, God bless him, shared my enthusiasm and told me to make it happen. About a month later, Unfancy was born.
5. How do you describe your style?
Right now, it’s a mix of cool-edgy with soft-organic. Think a black leather jacket with white linen dress. I like going in two extreme directions with my capsule wardrobe because then I can create a lot of looks that fall on either side of the spectrum – or right in the middle of the two, which is where I usually hang out.
I also like to pinpoint cities that inspire me – like, I’ll ask myself, “What would I wear if I were going on a trip to ______ ?” Right now my inspiration cities are Palm Springs + Seattle + Provence.
6. It seems like it would be expensive to create a new wardrobe each season. How do you save money and keep it simple?
This is an awesome question, and one I’m experimenting with right now. First of all, let me clarify that I don’t buy 37 new pieces for each wardrobe. Each capsule wardrobe is pieced together from three sources: (1) pieces I already own that I pull from storage, (2) pieces that roll over from last season’s capsule, (3) pieces that I purchase new.
The number that I purchase changes, depending on my needs. This summer I ended up purchasing 16 new pieces – more than I expected to buy, but I’m still learning how all this works best. Since this is my first year at it, I think it’ll be the heaviest buying year. My hope is to build 4 really solid capsule wardrobes this year so that next year I can just pull them out of storage, maybe add in 4-8 updated pieces, and go!
I can already hear you asking, “What if your style changes by next year?” That’s an awesome question, and I have to be honest: I don’t know. But the longer I do this, the more I notice my style stabilizing. I’m less into trends and more into what I like – my real style is coming through. I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll still love my clothes next year.
And on the topic of saving money – for me at least, shopping only once every three months has helped me save a tremendous amount of money on clothes. Yes, now my purchases are in big lump sums -- this summer it was $500 in four days -- but that was carefully saved money + carefully planned purchases. And since I only shop once every 3 months, $500 actually comes out to about $165 a month. I can tell you from experience: when I would shop to jolt myself out of a bad mood, I was spending a whole lot more than that each month. But it was harder to notice because it was only $40 here, $60 there, and so on. It was scary just how fast my justifiable little purchases added up over the month. Now, I don’t have to worry about that.
*Please head over to Caroline's blog to read more about her capsule wardrobes, find style inspiration, and even create your very own capsule wardrobe. Cheers!