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The Capsule Wardrobe Experiment: An Update

Forever chasing the perfect capsule…

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A capsule wardrobe update is long overdue. It’s been yonks. I see the question of whether or not I’m still riding the capsuling train pop up in comments here and there and for all intents and purposes the short answer is – yes. I can’t ever see myself with an expansive and overstuffed closet; I don’t like to hoard excessive amounts of things across the board in my life. However, over recent months my thought process regarding a highly edited (and let’s face it, somewhat restrictive) wardrobe have shifted slightly and I haven’t stuck as rigidly to the no-buy rule. Let me explain…

When I first got into the idea of capsule wardrobes, I subscribed to the Caroline Joy method (which she has since moved on from herself), of building a functioning closet with just 37 pieces – see my video on that here. Now I’d still recommend this if you’re new to capsule wardrobes, need to cut a lot of crap out of your current stock or just want a chance to get real creative. For me, it kinda worked although with hindsight I rushed filling it up, so purchased things that a couple of months later I wasn’t that keen on and I stuck with pieces that didn’t fit or sit right just because I felt like I didn’t have time to search around for a better cut product.

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I learnt from this and over the next couple of seasons I took time to research and collate new items. Things went pretty well through last year, but towards the end I got a little restless. The no-buy between seasonal upgrades rule went out the window, the ’37’ item count started to rise and capsule wardrobing got a little sloppy. I think the main reason for this was that after a year of the experiment I’d really started to cement what my style actually looked like. I’d got a uniform down and had a vision of what I wanted my wardrobe to be full of and I wanted it to be a reality, like, yesterday. With the discovery of some of my now favourite fashion blogs at the beginning of the year – Shot From The Street, Ropes of Holland The Frugality – things were set in stone in a way that they never had been before. I invested in new denim, quality shirts, basic boots and statement boots, semi-fitted jumpers to tuck into belted jeans, a new pair of loafers – it’s like everything clicked into place. EUREKA! 

I almost feel like I’ve started this whole capsuling thang again from scratch and this time I couldn’t be happier with what’s hanging in my wardrobe. There’s actually still only 35 items in my current selection (that’s not counting the extra warm weather bits that I keep up under my bed and mix in to my everyday grabs when the time is right), but I’m not so obsessed with numbers – things will fluctuate between seasons and that’s cool. One thing that I am going to retake up though is the no-buy between seasons rule because I have been getting a little spendy and it’s such an easy way of cutting unnecessary purchases down, so until summer rolls around I’m set. Side note to keep myself accountable: I will be heading to L.A and New York in April (I’M SO EXCITED!), so I’ll allow myself some spring/summer-appropriate purchases whilst I’m there, but aside from that – step away from ASOS.

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This recent style pin-down, combined with my latest read, Anuschka Rees’ ‘The Curated Closet: Discover Your Personal Style and Build Your Dream Wardrobe’ have got me back on track. You might have seen that I read this in record time on my IG Stories and if you’re unhappy with your current wardrobe in any way then this book will be the remedy. If you’re a complete closet clear-out newbie then you’ll learn new titbits from cover to cover, however if you’ve dipped your toe into the world of capsule wardrobes before and have your style mission statement set out then it’s the final two thirds of the book that will really grab your attention. Here’s what I learnt from my read…

The basics/key pieces/statement pieces approach. This is a great way to categorise your wardrobe and work out what you need more or less off. Basics are exactly that – the foundations of your wardrobe that tend to be the most casual items and create a neutral backdrop. For me that’s denim, plain t-shirts and shirts. Key pieces signify the essence of your style so in my wardrobe that’s monochrome patterned shirts, knitted jumpers and trench coats. Finally there are statement pieces that add variety to your looks and tend to be the dressiest pieces. HELLO LEOPARD PRINT! 

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Styling is what turns a good outfit into a great one. There’s a whole chapter on how to elevate an outfit with a simple styling tweak and seeing as most of my wardrobe pieces are pretty boring on their own it’s the front tuck of a shirt here, the pairing a bland outfit with a red lip there – that really spices things up. It’s the key to having a slimline closet without it ever getting boring. This chapter also made me want to try on all my clothes and have a little catwalk party. One evening I’m definitely going to do this (much to Mark’s amusement I’m sure).

A beginner’s guide to assessing garment quality. This might not be the sexiest chapter in the book, but it’s certainly one of the most practical and worth the price of the book alone. High-end doesn’t necessarily mean high-quality and the points here arm you with the knowledge you need to work out whether a piece is worth the splurge or not. From fabric composition to types of seams – oh yeah, everything is covered here. This will be a chapter that I refer back to often before I make a purchase.

PHEW. That was a meaty post. I think this got to dissertation-like lengths because it’s a subject that I’m really feeling right now. Can you tell? Expect to see plenty of style content coming your way in the next couple of months. In fact – would you like to see my current spring capsule wardrobe situation? Holler and I’ll make it happen.

Photos by Lauren Shipley


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Comments

  • I like your approach how to curate your wardrobe! Great post Anna!
    Have an amazing day xx
    http://www.lienasnow.com

  • I love that shirt! 🙂

    http://www.champagne-lifestyle.com

  • I love these pictures Anna! I also agree with the no spending between seasons – I’ve just recently picked up some pieces for Spring and so I’m on a ban until I need summer clothes (shorts, swimwear etc.)!

    Lynnsay x
    http://www.sartorialscot.com

  • I’m so into the more ‘capsule’ wardrobe these days, it’s just the matter of finding the right pieces!

    moremindfulyou.blogspot.com

  • I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe, I’m so horrible at styling outfits but I’m so bad at not buying clothes that I think I do need to sort out my wardrobe once and for all and stop spending money mainly in the sales on pieces that I’ve bought on a whim!

    Jodie // jodieloue.com

  • saving this post for later – some great tips Anna x

    CLUB AVENUE / http://club-avenue.blogspot.com / instagram

  • Anamarija

    I really like your article and thanks for sharing your experience with the capsule wardrobe experiment so far. I’ve always been intrigued by it, but I just don’t think I could commit haha
    But I am definitely trying to be more mindful about what I buy, buying less and better quality.
    And I really like your style, it’s pretty similar to what I like, so I always look forward to your outfit posts, it’s a great source of inspiration. I would definitely like to see what your have in your rotation right now 🙂
    I noticed that you really like Equipment shirts. I’ve had them on my wishlist for ages and finally splurged on one and while I really like the cut and the feel of it, what bothers me a bit is that they wrinkle so easily. I was wondering if this is sth you noticed and what you do about it?

  • I’m really not a huge fashion influencers follower, but I really like Shot From The Street / Lizzy Hadfield as well, especially her testing basics series which is so thorough and detailed! Really like those white trousers! And yes, high-end doesn’t necessarily mean high quality, I’ve learned that the hard way!

    http://fannyanddailybeauty.com

  • I’ve loved reading Anusckha’s blog (formerly into-mind) and loved using her free worksheets to figure out all the key pieces that I need in my wardrobe! 🙂

    Heather x | http://www.atelierofstyle.co.uk

  • Great post! I’ll have to see if my library has this book. Yes to a spring capsule update! x

  • I guess that is a kind of capsule wardrobe I could get on board with. Not buying in between seasons and focussing on developing your personal style is a great way to limit disappointing products in your wardrobe.

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

  • August

    That YSL bag <3 you look great btw
    ‘Share’ by August Harvest
    Instagram

  • I love that pajama style top! Definitely something that would be perfect for the springtime 🙂

    Kendal // Life With Kendal

  • Absolutely I want to see your current capsule wardrobe! I’ve really been admiring your style lately and I’d love to see how you’re making it all work.

  • Júlia Fonseca

    A lovely informative post! And bring on your current spring capsule wardrobe!!!

  • Šárka M.

    Make a spring capsule wardrobe! I’m starting to be interested in this topic 🙂

  • Pork & Cookies

    I really love the idea of a capsule wardrobe but it would take me a lot of work to get there. I’ll start slow 🙂

    -Kirsten // pork & cookies

  • I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe but I don’t know if I could cut things down to only 35 pieces!

    xo, Liz
    http://lipstickandconfetti.com

  • YAS. I’d love love to see your Spring capsule as a video. I loved the last one you made. I gave up Youtube for Lent, but as Sundays aren’t a part of Lent, I cannot wait to get cozy and catch up on your latest video this coming Sunday 🙂

  • Debbie Houghton

    Definitely want to see what’s in your current collection!

  • lateshift

    love this! what a smart approach…you have one of the best-edited wardrobes I’ve ever seen. Much respect (and jealousy. I say this as someone who wears pretty much the same colors you do! And I second you on low-topped white Converse, which rule all.)

    just one tiny, ridiculous thing, finally had to mention…the English major in me keeps wondering why you seem to use the word ‘monochrome’ as a synonym for ‘lack of color’? since that isn’t what the word means…I’ve been watching your videos for years; you virtually never wear a monochrome outfit, and you definitely don’t have a monochrome wardrobe. Monochrome is just that: one color… say, if you wore all black from head to toe. Or all red. Or all purple. A white-and-black striped shirt isn’t monochrome. A black shirt with white or blue jeans isn’t a monochrome outfit. A wardrobe that has black and white and gray and patterns in it isn’t a monochrome wardrobe. It’s just….not. Do you mean ‘neutral’? or maybe ‘colorless’? (yes I know black and gray are technically colors, but not really)

    I realize posting this makes me the most annoying person alive — and I have no defense! I’m sorry!! I love your posts…you are my British twin, if I magically became someone with effortlessly fabulous hair (which I am not)! I just had to mention. Everyone has their thing…this is mine. Apologies. 😟

    • Connie

      The dictionary definition is literally “using only black, white, and grey, or using only one colour” – so yes, a black and white outfit or a black and grey outfit is monochrome!

  • elisha mae

    I love your style Anna! It’s so succinct and you seem to really have your s**t together – think I need this book so I can get my life and/or wardrobe in order too!

    Elisha-Mae´ | http://www.elisha-mae.co.uk

  • Asos is so dangerous! Haha. I would love to give the capsule wardrobe a go, it seems to have worked really well for you ♥

    Amy // Snippets of Amy

  • This is something I really really need to get into, I own way too many clothes and would prefer to own fewer, but better quality pieces. It sounds like you’ve got your wardrobe down perfectly.

    Kristy | http://www.thevioletblonde.com

  • Brona Molnarova

    please more style content!! this is so awesome

  • eegoing

    Would you recommend the book be read exclusively in paperback (due to pictures or images) or can it be picked up in kindle format because it’s only text?

  • I love your YSL bag, I always tell you this in every fashion post 🙂
    Miki xx

    littletasteofbeauty.blogspot.it

  • I do like the concept of a capsule wardrobe – however I’m not quite sure I would be able to stick to it.
    SO in love with your shirt, it’s so pretty.

    http://styleonheels.com/

  • Leanne Marshall

    Loving your style at the moment Anna!! I think quality over quantity is the way forward.
    Leanne | lemblog.co.uk

  • I’ve always loved your style but i really feel like it’s just evolved so much over the last year- so chic and effortless, I adore this outfit!

    SHAKIRA // SHAKIRA SACKS

  • Sarah Lyman

    Would love to see your current spring capsule wardrobe!!!

  • Sarah Rose

    Great post Anna, you’re very inspiring and I think I’m going to go sort through my own wardrobe. I would love to see your spring selection!

  • rachel

    having just ‘edited’ my wardrobe for s/s I have more shoes that you do items in your entire wardrobe…ain’t never gonna be no minimalist!!

    However having seen minimalist movements come and go over the years and got rid/ re-aquired stuff with each one I’m think I’m gonna ride this one out. I do however love and wear everything I own so its all good really!

    Loving the pj shirt.

  • fatou diaw

    such a simple and timeless look. love it!
    https://closettostreet.com/

  • Love this update, it’s so nice to see how your approach to a capsule wardrobe is changing and evolving. I absolutely adore Lizzy’s style too!

    – Natalie
    http://www.workovereasy.com

  • Rachel Lees

    I love your style and I am trying to find my ‘uniform’. However, on a teachers salary and a single mum, I have no chance of buying the brands you do, so I’d love it if you could suggest alternative brands that aren’t always an unspeakable amount of money!

    • Have to agree, fashion wise Annas peices are always WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY out of my budget, great for ideas so I can hunt through Topshop and Asos for but never actually buy the linked versions.

  • Anna

    Would love to see your spring capsule! Also, how do you account for unpredictable weather changes? I always find this the most difficult thing about the whole capsule wardrobe concept (in my region you might suddenly have a very summery May where that one summery dress from your capsule might just not be enough and then quite a rainy/cold August where you want to reach for a comfy hoodie). Would love to hear your thoughts on this! x

  • sarah

    would also love to see your spring capsule ! I love your style, and i’m gonna get this book !

  • Elena Santiago

    Please do a Spring capsule wardrobe update!!!!

  • Mariana

    I LOVE your style!!!!! It’s classic with a twist!! Taking a lot of inspo from you!

    Greetings from Panama!
    x
    Mariana

  • Eleni Soldatou

    yes do the spring capsule, waiting…. 🙂 no pressure 😛
    xoxo

  • Abby Ann Clarke

    Anna! you need to listen to the minimalist! It’s a podcast about declutting life and I thought of you when I started listening to it.

  • Becky

    Where’s your belt from Anna? I love it!

  • what are your thoughts on wearing big logos, ie. the YSL?

  • Yessss I would love a look at your current capsule!

  • Great post! I always enjoy hearing about how your capsule wardrobe is coming along 🙂 I’ve tried to experiment too after watching your videos 🙂

    VioletDaffodils
    xx