Ready to nail your capsule wardrobe down?
Today's the day.
In the last post (which you should definitely read before this!) we took a look at the pieces of clothing our reader example wore multiple times during a one-month period. Actually, you should start with the first in the sequence and click the button below to get your wardrobe tracker!
As promised, we are now going to look more closely at the items worn only once during the month. Here are the pieces:
- Off-White Stitch Fix Cardigan
- Hot Pink Sweater
- Boden Polkadot Dress
- Gap Skinny Jeans
- Anthropologie Bootcut Jeans
- Grey Old Navy Cords
- Burgundy LOFT Leggings
- Dr. Scholl's Brown Flats
- J.Crew Pink & Navy Flats
- Khaadi Scarf
- Gap Striped Scarf
- Grey/White Striped 3/4 Loft Top
- Black V-Neck
- LOFT Mauve Shirt
- Old Navy Red 3/4 Top
- Lace Red Peplum Top
- Teal H&M Short-Sleeved Top
- Black ON Longsleeved Tee
- BR Navy Longsleeved Top
- Brown ON Tank
- White LOFT Tank
- Pink ON Tank
- White Camisole
As expected, half of the items worn once are tops, plus 2 sweaters, 1 dress, 4 bottoms, 3 pairs of shoes, and 2 scarves. Although there are some solid tops in the mix, we see more stripes, some lace, and some polka-dots in this section of the wardrobe.
We see a few more colors added to the mix: mauve, red, and pink. Mauve and red can actually serve as beautiful neutrals, while pink works as an unexpected pop of bright color with the navy, grey, teal, and burgundy we have already seen a lot of in this wardrobe.
Why were these items worn only once?
The top three reasons pieces of clothing are worn only once a month (special occasion wear aside) are:
- not weather appropriate
- not very comfortable
- don't coordinate with many other pieces
Let's look at the specific issues with some of these pieces:
- Grey/White Striped 3/4 Sleeve Top: the reader noted that this top is not long enough for leggings, so she kept having to tug it down. Also, the sleeves became troublesome after washing the shirt. This tells us several things:
- If the sleeves aren't too annoying to continue wearing the shirt, then the top should only be worn with regular pants.
- Consider hemming the sleeves, or stretching them a bit when the fabric is wet and air-drying so the sleeves become more comfortable again.
- Next time, buy a neutral striped shirt in a longer length with regular-length sleeves that won't shrink to that awkward elbow-length that can become uncomfortable. A long-sleeved grey/white striped shirt would be very versatile in this wardrobe. Or, consider a short-sleeved version that falls loosely over the body for a Spring-time uniform update. (More on her uniforms below.)
- Colored and white tanks, camisole:
- The reader noted that the white tank was a little short and had no stretch. Stretch can be the key to a versatile layering tank because it means it can be a layer with leggings or with regular pants. They are expensive ($45), but I absolutely love the James Perse ribbed everyday tank. I have worn my black tank multiple times per week since Christmas, so by the end of the year it's cost per wear will be mere pennies. It retains its shape and its stretch over multiple wears and washes really well.
- Pink and Brown tanks - one teal, burgundy, navy, or grey tank would be much more versatile in this wardrobe. Matching the tank color with the bottom can provide a wonderful, clean background to a printed top.
- The white tank and white camisole were worn in the same fashion this month. If the camisole is not a pretty piece that can stand alone, consider keeping only the best of the two, or investing in a great, stretchy white tank.
- Boden Dress:
- Polka dots are really fun! But, the reader needed tights to wear this dress comfortably during winter. Always have a pair of neutral tights you can wear with dresses and skirts that work well with boots, booties, and flats.
- The Jeans:
- Winter was all about close-fitting jeggings, leggings and pants for this reader. Bootcuts and skinny jeans are likely to see more wear in Spring with booties, flats and sneakers. If you do not anticipate wearing these items more, say goodbye!
- The Cords: The reader noted that she wasn't sure about these pants with boots. Since corduroy pants are mostly worn in Fall and Winter, it is super important that they work with boots and booties! If you want a pair of cords, look for a slim-cut that will fit under boots.
- The shoes: It is normal to have some shoes on heavy rotation and others we only wear once. BUT, there's a reason these shoes aren't getting more wear.
- Pink/Navy Flats: super cute shoes, but they aren't that comfortable. Buy some inserts to protect your foot from blisters (or take them to the cobbler) or wear some anti-chafing foot protectant (Band-Aid makes a great stick). Consider only wearing these on days when very little walking is required.
- Keds: These shoes are great for Spring and Summer but not very good for Winter. I'll show you how to update your Winter outfits for Spring in an up-coming post. Basic tennis shoes are an easy way to do this.
- Brown Flats: Brown flats just aren't the ideal color for this wardrobe. While they are a great neutral, they just don't work with this wardrobe as well as a pair of grey, burgundy, teal, or navy flats would, particularly for Spring.
This season was all about comfort and warmth. In addition to tracking which items were worn over the course of the month, our reader also tracked the outfits she wore. One look over her spreadsheet and her uniforms quickly jumped out at me:
- striped top + jeggings + boots
- sweater/tunic + leggings + boots
- sweater + pants/jeans + booties
- outer layer + patterned shirt + pants + flats
I'd venture to guess that many of us have similar uniforms during the Winter. Wearing a longer top with body-hugging bottoms and knee-high boots is a go-to look these days. It keeps us warm and comfortable. Shorter tops and sweaters are worn with regular pants and jeans, as well as a pair of booties or flats. Again, we are looking for comfort and warmth from these combinations. A warm vest or cozy cardigan is the key third piece that makes an outfit work for cooler weather.
Swaps & Additions
A pair of comfortable burgundy flats would be a great addition to this capsule. Burgundy is already present in the wardrobe in both tops and bottoms, and it would replace the brown flats and maybe even the cute navy and pink striped flats if the reader desired. I'm partial the the currently popular lace-up suede flats, but any leather or suede burgundy flat would be a versatile addition to this wardrobe. Be sure to weather-proof these flats for fabric protection. (Note: these are affiliate links and I will earn a small commission for each click, which goes towards helping me run this blog. Thanks!)
Grey booties that can be worn all day are a no-brainer addition for this reader. They would look great with so many of the bottoms she's currently wearing, and they would also work wonderfully with dresses and skirts come Spring. They are a bit lighter than black booties and would work even better than tan or brown booties because they work seamlessly into the color palette.
A lightweight sweater that can be worn over a long tank or that is long enough alone to be worn with leggings is a must-have for the transition into Spring. Burgundy and navy are ideal colors, but a mauve sweater would also be beautiful.
A button-up denim skirt would mix with so many of the tops in this capsule. Wear with tights and booties or flats when the weather is cooler, then wear with Keds and flats as it gets warmer.
Pattern mixing can be a great way to break out of your comfort zone. A fun way to do this is with a striped top (and we know our reader has these!) and a floral bottom. I'm loving these styles shown below. A pair of leggings mixing solids and a floral print also brings in the athleisure trend while completely adhering to our reader's uniform.
Do you want to know how this all comes together for a capsule wardrobe that will transition from Winter into Spring?
I'll show you the capsule wardrobe in the next post!