Find and Embrace Your Style for a Capsule Wardobe

3.13.2017
Late last year I posted about my current capsule wardrobe.  Since we haven't had a change of seasons since then, it's pretty much the same, although I already know what I'd like to get rid of when the weather warms up and what I'd like to add.  Which was one of the questions that came up, when I originally posted that - how do you make changes?  I actually got a few questions about capsule wardrobe basics, about getting started and finding the right pieces and maintaining something small (but not that small) for yourself.  And about why my system has nothing to do with having a certain number of neutral tops and bottoms that can all be mixed and matched for the most options.


Since spring is a really great time to clean out your wardrobe - and everything else, home spring cleaning post coming to you Wednesday - I started a post to answer some of those questions and it ended up being long and kind of all over the place.  So instead, I broke up the format to bring you sort of a 'capsule wardrobe series' that will probably (probably = if I can get my shit together and take photos) end with showing you how I updated that previous capsule with a few tweaks here and there and how I continue to do that throughout the years.  Before that post, you can expect ones coming the next few Mondays on how to purge your closet, how to pick a capsule wardrobe type and size that's right for you, how to get your perfect capsule on a budget, and how to maintain it; you can see how that would be overwhelming for a single post.  But first, we have to start with the very basic 'how to find and embrace your personal style' because you really can't make a capsule wardrobe, at least not one you'll keep, without knowing that.

For some people, answering the 'what's your style' question is really easy and if that's the case for you, you probably don't need this post.  For everyone else, being able to clearly define that is essential for two major reasons: (1) you'll be able to instantly purge anything that doesn't fit your style (which takes into account you lifestyle at the moment) and (2) you'll stop buying and wasting money on things that don't fit your style.  Being able to zero in on things that you love and that go with the rest of your wardrobe is half the battle when it comes to the capsule concept.  More than!

Let me start by saying that your style (obviously) doesn't have to be mine, and you don't have to have as few pieces as I do.  This is about how I found what made me the most comfortable and brought me the most happiness, and hopefully how you can too.  That said, here's what I think works:

Pay attention to your likes and dislikes, completely outside of clothing.  If you start with clothing, especially clothing you already own, you cloud your own judgment.  I mean, you could have been wearing pieces for years that you don't even like, you just... acquired.  (We'll talk about purging those suckers in the next post.)  Start with a blank slate and think about what you like in terms of stores, home decor, celebrities, even songs and vacation spots.  What makes you feel good, what do they have in common, and how does that translate to wearing what you love?  For example, a love of Kate Middleton, Crate and Barrel, and classical music might lead you to a classic timeless style, with tailored pieces like pencil skirts and trench coats, high heels, classic solid colors with metal toned jewelry.  Lovers of Miami Beach, JLo, and Danzo Kuduro on repeat would find their wardrobe going a completely opposite direction, with mix and match bold colors and edgier pieces with lots of movement to them.  For myself, I love Lauren Conrad, soft throw blankets around the house, the breezy smell of peaches and lilacs in the air, country music, and Kentucky.  And although my style basically is 'Lauren Conrad,' the rest of my loves suggest I'm a little more simple and country than her.  And a little more about comfort over style.  So think about what you like, at your core, outside of your closet.

Pull out the items in your closet that you love.  And not a sentimental attachment to or that you wear often out of necessity (it's 20 degrees and it's your only sweater.)  You don't have to sort or purge anything at this point, just take stock of what makes you feel fantastic every time you wear it - it shouldn't take more than a few seconds to find it.  Figure out what it is you love about each piece, whether it's the color that compliments your eyes or the way the fabric feels.  If everything you pull out is the same, like all dresses or all yoga pants, note that as well.

Seek out specific style types and learn the terminology.  A good place to start is Lauren Messiah's YouTube series on this topic.  You might find you fit squarely into one of the ones she mentions, and since she shows different pieces and outfits, as well as mentions some celebrities with that style type, you can visually see if that matches up with your ideal type.  [You might be a combination of some of the types, so don't think those are your only options.  It's just inspiration.]  From her list, I identify pretty well with what she calls 'modern romantic.'  You might be surprised to know that, in the world of fashion terminology, my style isn't considered minimal.  People who have a minimalist style embrace black and white and tailored straight line pieces, which isn't me.  So although I like very few pieces and the capsule idea, searching for minimalist fashion on Pinterest got me nowhere.  When I switched that search term to 'romantic fashion style,' boom, light bulb - way more me.

Find inspiration online.  Once you've done those things, you have a ton of ways to search online for inspiration.  Search on Pinterest for your favorite celebrity and pin the outfits she wears that you love.  You can also search by the terminology you learned or by fashion bloggers.  When you start pinning all the images together, you'll definitely see a pattern emerge.  Could be tons of outfits with blazers, or with oversized cardigans.  With high heels or with riding boots.  You'll start to see key pieces repeat themselves in the same colors, patterns, and textures, giving you a way to narrow down your favorites even more.  Feel free to check out the 10000 times I've pinned LC, Blair Waldorf, cowboy boots, a-line dresses, and all things plaid.

By this point, you probably have a name for your style or can at least say 'kind of like Kate Middleton but with way less heels.'  Notice how nowhere on that list does it say 'pick two neutrals to base your wardrobe around' or 'have more tops than bottoms because you can mix more that way.'  I don't like that most capsule wardrobe posts start that way.  (I don't like that they say that at all, to be honest - I don't work that way.  We'll approach that later.)  I think finding a personal style has nothing to do with trying to make everything match your jeans, black pants, and navy skirt because at the end of the day, you have to love it.  You have to make it feel 'like you.'  Starting with a formula is not the way to do that.  Starting with pieces you love is.

This was where I started and what I always go back to when deciding on new pieces, so I think it's the most important part of making a capsule, or at least downsized, wardrobe.  Next week, purging the closet!


Thanks so much for stopping by.  You can also join me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.  In addition to minimalism and organizing, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #notentirelyperfect on social media so I can see your beautifully unstaged life.  On the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or subscribe via e-mail to be alerted to each new post.


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