Why You Should Make a Capsule Wardrobe Each Season (Here’s Mine)

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Did you know that each of the TME contributors try to keep a running list of what is currently in our closets? You can find them all here, if interested. I was going through mine the other day, updating it, and I realized that there is definitely a pattern to my outfits, a pattern that repeats year after year. And while I might tweak my outfits a bit to reflect changing trends, the core stays pretty much the same.

So I did a little exercise: If I had to choose a small set of pieces to get me through an entire winter (and by “entire” I’m also including the coldest days of fall and spring)…which pieces would they be?

This exercise is good for several reasons: One, it helps focus my outfits to only the pieces I truly enjoy wearing. So not only do I end up with a daily outfit formula I love…but it makes it really easy to choose some ‘wow’ pieces. I simply look for the special pieces that seamlessly integrate into my existing list of favs. On my list of ‘wow’ items? Things like silky patterned shorts, ball gown skirts, and metallic jeans. You can see how I mixed some of these pieces into my capsule wardrobe, below.

Two, if you do any traveling, starting with a list of The Items You Actually Wear is also a great starting point for packing. You can then edit down and swap out without losing your mind. (This becomes infinitely easier if you’ve also collaged, in some way, your existing capsule wardrobe.)

Three, and most importantly, pulling together a list of your most-worn pieces highlights the items that make the most sense to invest in, from a cost-per-wear perspective. You can also properly assess, during this crazy sale period, which pieces to stock up on for next year. (That said, be careful: if you, like me, tend to wear black cashmere sweaters 99.9% of the time…that sale cashmere in pea green might not be your best purchase, even with the sale price. You might actually be better off paying full price to get a color you’ll actually wear.)

I highly suggest making a capsule wardrobe for each season, or, at a minimum, warm weather, cold weather, and in-between weather. I also highly suggest making a capsule wardrobe for each major part of your life. Because I have spent much of the last few years working from home…this one suffices for *most* of my days. But I do also have a capsule wardrobe for ski weekends, and now that we’re starting to work out of an office more and more…I might do a workin’ girl one for Spring. If you have a regular 9-5 job with any sort of a dress code, it’s totally worth doing a seasonal capsule wardrobe for it. (Even if you have pieces that can be used for both work and weekend…Ooooo what about a capsule VENN DIAGRAM?? YASSS.)

Have a capsule wardrobe? Why not?! From knowing what outfit pieces to sprinkle in, to what items to invest in — we have ALL the reasons. Here's mine.

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My Winter Capsule Wardrobe

You can find links to all below pieces (as well as everything else I’ve been wearing) in my closet page.

1.  A White T-Shirt

This seems a bit underwhelming, but I love James Perse’s thin white tee because it layers well under sweaters (that’s the obvious reason here), but it also it makes silky camis winter appropriate. A white tee + silk cami combo is one I turn to year-after-year, pairing it with either jeans and heels for a casual date night, or a ballgown skirt if I really need to get dressed up. The white tee keeps everything from feeling overly precious (yet still fancy enough).

Have a capsule wardrobe? Why not?! From knowing what outfit pieces to sprinkle in, to what items to invest in — we have ALL the reasons. Here's mine.

tee | camimetallic AG jeans (now on sale)

2. Faded Black Jeans

The key to my monochromatic outfits (and heck, I wear monochromatic outfits almost every darn day in the winter) is black jeans that have a bit of fading. Really dark, solid black jeans don’t do it for me — ever. Black jeans that have variations of gray have that cool, nonchalant vibe I’m always going for. My personal favs?  rag & bone’s high-rise skinnies.

Have a capsule wardrobe? Why not?! From knowing what outfit pieces to sprinkle in, to what items to invest in — we have ALL the reasons. Here's mine.

similar sweater | bag | jeans

3. A Silky Cami

I layer this silk cami under my sweaters (tucked in) for extra warmth. It works shockingly well. As mentioned above, I also love layering these over a thin, white tee. The whole thing fits under a sweater, but looks cute on its own, too.

4. Big Sunnies

I can’t live without giant sunglasses. And this particular pair by Le Spec has been my current fav for two years running. They’re big, affordable, and walk the line between sporty and glam…which means they look good with my other wintertime favs: puffer coats and snowboots.

Have a capsule wardrobe? Why not?! From knowing what outfit pieces to sprinkle in, to what items to invest in — we have ALL the reasons. Here's mine.

5. Black Cashmere Turtleneck Sweater

This is my most-worn piece all winter. I just…wear this Equipment cashmere sweater almost every day. I wear it skiing. I wear it over a silky cami. I wear it over a tee. I wrote a whole article on how to take care of it. Love this thing.

6. AG Skinny Jeans

In addition to my beloved rag & bone’s, AG jeans have been a longtime favorite of mine. The two styles I swear by are “the legging” (low rise) and the “farrah” (high rise). Both are insanely soft and stretchy all the way down the leg. The only difference is the rise.

7. Striped Cashmere Sweater

If I’m not wearing my black turtleneck sweater, I’m usually wearing one of my two La Ligne striped cashmere sweaters. I have two colors simply because THEY ARE FREAKING PERFECT.

Have a capsule wardrobe? Why not?! From knowing what outfit pieces to sprinkle in, to what items to invest in — we have ALL the reasons. Here's mine.

8. Laptop/Travel Backpack

I’d like to be the kind of girl that carries some sort of stylish bag, but I find that real handbags are too fussy for my actual life. Backpacks that fit a laptop, workout gear, and an emergency makeup stash are more my speed. I’m going for sleek and cool rather than fancy these days.This one fits the bill.

9. Lululemon Hoodie

I’ve tried a ton of different hoodies but Lululemon makes the best ones. They’re cute, insanely flattering, and last forever. I layer it under a puffer, and then, eventually, a leather jacket once the weather warms up.

Have a capsule wardrobe? Why not?! From knowing what outfit pieces to sprinkle in, to what items to invest in — we have ALL the reasons. Here's mine.

Lululemon hoodie | leggings | boots | leather jacket

10. Beyond Yoga Leggings

If I had to pick only one pair of leggings to wear for the rest of my life, it would be these Beyond Yoga leggings. They’re insanely soft — like, wear all day soft — and look cute with my OTK boots.

11. A Quirky Beanie

I use winter hats to add a little dose of personality into my winter outfits. Kate Spade is a go-to brand, or I usually have luck at Anthro (but you’ve gotta grab Anthro hats early in the season). I have a bunch I rotate through (all of my favs can be found in my closet page).

12. A Short Puffer (Or Maybe A Leather Jacket??)

I have a really long puffer, good for freezing temps. But the one I wear the most is my short puffer jacket from Lole. It’s perfect for running out the door really quick, and looks cute enough with jeans and heels. My favorite is always from Lole — insanely lightweight, yet warm.

One item that probably should’ve made the list is my leather jacket. Because I was so focused on my winter capsule wardrobe, I just included my puffer coat…but in all honesty, I wear my leather jacket a ton. It’s not puffer coat warm, but when paired with a few layers, a cozy scarf and winter hat, it’s usually good enough. And is my go-to for dressing up at night.

Have a capsule wardrobe? Why not?! From knowing what outfit pieces to sprinkle in, to what items to invest in — we have ALL the reasons. Here's mine.

leather jacket | similar skirt | bag

13. Skinny Sweatpants

These Free People legging sweatpants are sweatpant enough to be more comfortable than leggings, but skinny enough to wear outside (especially with snow boots). Perfect for an early morning coffee run or school drop off.

14. Sneaker Snow boots

I just discovered this type of boot and I will likely never go back. These Sorel boots feel like wearing sneakers, but they’re waterproof and warm. I packed them on every trip we took this winter, and they’re the only shoe I bring on ski weekends.

15.  One Gorg Dress

This bright red dress is so freaking fun to wear. It got me through holiday parties, NYE, my birthday and Valentine’s day. And is still my fav piece to grab if I wanna fancy it up. It can be toned down by layering a sweater over top, or all out glam with the right clutch and heels. A surprisingly wearable piece.

Have a capsule wardrobe? Why not?! From knowing what outfit pieces to sprinkle in, to what items to invest in — we have ALL the reasons. Here's mine.

dress | bag | boots | tights

16. One Seriously Cool Evening Bag

I splurged on this Clare V pouch, and it has quickly become the only going out bag I need. There’s something about the casual shape and lux, studded detail that makes it work with…everything.

17.  Black, Heeled Sock Booties

If you need one pair of shoes to dress up winter basics, it’s the sock boot. The higher shaft slides under jeans, and looks great with a dress and tights. I like mine with a slightly chunkier heel (for walkability), but these Jeffrey Campbell boots get it right by making the heel black. The resulting look is pretty sleek.

18.  Over-The-Knee Boots

I get a ton of questions about my Stuart Weitzman OTK boots: do they stay up? Are they durable? And, most importantly, are they worth the price? I’m going on winter #3 in these boots, and they are still some of my most-worn boots. I like how they make jeans sexy for date night (even though they’re just a flat boot), and how they make my workout outfits (Lululemon hoodie + leggings) into an actual outfit I don’t mind wearing around.

Have a capsule wardrobe? Why not?! From knowing what outfit pieces to sprinkle in, to what items to invest in — we have ALL the reasons. Here's mine.

similar hat | jacket | silk shorts – almost sold out, but new zebra ones fully stocked | boots | bag

If any of you guys end up making a capsule wardrobe….we’d love to see it!

xo,

S

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About Author

Shana founded The Mom Edit in 2008. She lives with the love of her life (his name's Mike) and their two crazy boys in downtown Philadelphia. She loves a good styling challenge (her engineering side shows eventually), appreciates kindness, and usually picks scotch over wine, sneakers over stilettos, and denim-underwear, always.

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7 Comments

  1. Thanks for this article! Two questions: what size do you wear in the La Ligne sweater? And could you do a post on how to keep your white tees looking fresh? Mine are always dingy after one season (even with natural deodorant!).

  2. On Pinterest, I organize my outfit ideas under Hot Weather, Warm Weather, Cool Weather, and Cold Weather. Though now that I live in TX I don’t use the Cold Weather one so much lol.

  3. How do those Sorels hold up in the snow? Do they keep your feet warm and dry? Need to get a new pair as mine make my feet a bit damp and I love the look of those kinetic boots.

  4. Love this capsule and knowing what you wear again and again – especially the additions, like the quirky hats and OTK, that make the wardrobe distinctive. Black cashmere is definitely a place to go big or go home – I bought a lower-end black cashmere turtleneck a few years ago, but I never wear it because the neck is so scratchy. Cost per wear lesson learned!

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