Chambray shirtdress, $38, Pink Magnolia Boutique
Little black dress, $64, Madison
Floral dress, $144, Peachy Keen
Charcoal trousers, $49, Pink Magnolia Boutique
Button-front skirt, $39, Pink Magnolia Boutique
Striped turtleneck, $45, Pink Magnolia Boutique
Colorful blouse, $102, Peachy Keen
Plaid blouse, $49, Madison
White peplum blouse, $49, Madison
Dark wash jeans, $190, Peachy Keen
Black leggings, $35, Madison
Fringed cardigan, $59, Madison
Leather jacket, $88, Peachy Keen
Animal print flats, $88, Peachy Keen
Black booties, $142, Peachy Keen
Embroidered Western-style boot, $165, Pink Magnolia Boutique
Tartan blanket scarf, $34, Madison
Black crossbody shoulder bag, $60, Pink Magnolia Boutique
Cheetah envelope clutch, $44, Madison
Red beaded earrings, $29.50, Madison
Bracelet set, $45, Peachy Keen
Black statement necklace, $32.75, Madison
Akola statement necklace with white beads, $76, Pink Magnolia Boutique
Necklace with smoky beads and rectangular vintage gold pendant, $35, Pink Magnolia Boutique
Horn necklace with beige beads, $62, Pink Magnolia Boutique
Long teal necklace, $78, Peachy Keen
Gray tassel necklace, $86, Peachy Keen
It’s a familiar scene for many of us: standing in front of a jam-packed closet, but finding nothing to wear. Dressing stylishly and confidently is an important part of our identity, but pulling it off can be a challenge.
The capsule wardrobe promises to change that.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
Minimal. Simple. It’s a pared-down wardrobe comprised of a few quality basics. Think black trousers, jeans, a skirt, a blouse, a few T-shirts, a blazer and a little black dress. It doesn’t sound like much, but with classic pieces in neutral colors and some fun accessories, these staples can be mixed and matched to create a whole season’s worth of outfits, saving you time and money.
Image consultant Sheon Wilson — a longtime fan of capsule dressing — shares how it’s done.
“Everything needs to be something that you wear, something that fits, and something that’s appropriate for your lifestyle now,” said Wilson, a former fashion reporter who now works with clients to refine and update their personal style.
“I refresh my wardrobe a lot,” she said. “It’s simpler to know what I have and not to rebuy the same thing. It’s less frustrating to go into a closet that’s not jammed with things.”
Creating a capsule is less about following a strict formula such as 1 suit + 1 pencil skirt + 2 blouses, and more about planning for your life and your own style.
“You are really ruthless in taking out what doesn’t work,” said Wilson. “But you are also honest about what you want to look like, and commit to it.”
Wilson says you may need different types of capsules to fill all of your lifestyle needs, such as a professional office capsule and a weekend casual capsule. But it is important to make sure that colors, patterns and styles coordinate as much as possible. Remember, the goal is fewer pieces, but more options to mix and match.
“I suggest building a capsule wardrobe from basic pieces that work in all seasons,” Wilson said. “Buy pants, tops and skirts in mid-weight fabrics that can be worn year-round. For instance, a thin cardigan can be worn over a T-shirt in summer to combat overzealous air conditioning. Then in winter, you button up the cardigan and wear a quilted vest over the tee and cardigan pieces.”
In addition to the advantage of a cleaner closet, a capsule wardrobe helps you plan your purchases — because you know what you have and what you need — so you spend less time and money shopping each season.
You’ll also spend less time in the morning getting dressed and avoid the, “I have nothing to wear” feeling. Investing in quality basics also means the clothes will last longer and travel well.
It doesn’t mean you can’t ever try something new.
“Incorporate trends in a small way,” Wilson advised. The season’s hottest color or newest print can be worked into your capsule with the addition of one piece, like a patterned blouse, instead of starting completely over.
Wilson believes that the greatest advantage to capsule dressing is, “It forces you to spend time thinking about yourself and your image. Having a capsule wardrobe shows that you pay attention to yourself. … A person who is taking care of her appearance is probably taking care of all aspects of her health.”
Pink Magnolia Boutique
Park West Village, Morrisville
Parkside Town Commons, Cary
250 Grande Heights Drive, Cary
2035 Cameron St., Raleigh
Start with a hard look at what you already own. Donate the things that are no longer appropriate, don’t fit or you just don’t love. Feel the weight of those old clothes lift off your shoulders.
“There are so many memories of failures in a closet when you don’t clean it out,” said Wilson, noting not-quite-right gifts, outgrown items or impulse buys. “It’s a hard way to start the morning.”
Build your wardrobe on your absolute favorite pieces, like a dress in a flattering silhouette or your most comfy weekend jeans. Use them to craft your overall style. Learn the cuts that fit you best and take stock of your everyday classics: a white blouse, pencil skirt, blazer and trousers, for example.
Fill in any gaps you find with quality purchases, and have them tailored to fit.
Pay close attention to your lifestyle needs; if you work from home, for example, you probably don’t need a business suit in your capsule.
“The challenge is that you have to commit to having a small wardrobe. For some people there’s more comfort in having lots of clothes,” said Wilson.
Think less about what you want to buy and more about how you want to look. Chances are, the clothes you need are already hiding in your closet.