Organized and Productive Living

Capsule Wardrobes: It’s all About the Mix and Match

While I loved the idea of creating a capsule wardrobe, I was worried I wouldn’t have enough variety. What if I got bored with the items that I chose after the first month? I’m one of those people who loves to wear sweaters, but tires of them by February. What if an occasion arose and I didn’t have the right outfit? What if I decided I wasn’t going to choose my plain back dress and then I needed it? Being a planner, an organizer, and a recovering perfectionist, the whole idea was stressful. STRESS-FULL.

I decided I would solve this problem by donating the items I really wasn’t going to wear again, and moving the ones that I wasn’t sure about, or I might want to use in another season downstairs into my off-season clothing storage unit. It’s one of those zip-up contraptions you get get with the clothing rod and the shelf, and it lives in a closet that is in the room in between our kitchen and barn. Not a handy place for a closet, but great for things you want to store that aren’t needed on a daily basis. The clothing unit is not only great for off-season clothes, but for items you think you might want to donate, but are on the fence about.

Once I settled that, I was able to move forward. I got a notebook and pencil and got to work. I went to the Cladwell website and watched the video. Then I clicked on find out more. Once there, I read some articles and then read Audrey’s testimonial from Putting Me Together, a website I read on occasion. If you really want to know how Cladwell’s site works go read her experience with it. She breaks the whole thing down, has photos of the process, and it really sold me on the value and the mix-and-matchability of it.

Based on my current wardrobe, I decided that my neutral colors  were black, grey, and tan, and I chose navy, red, white, purple, green, and raspberry for my six colors. I would love to tell you which were main colors and which were accents, but I didn’t make note of that. I believe that navy, white, and purple were main colors, and raspberry, green and red were accents, but that doesn’t sound quite right. Either way, you get get six color choices. The idea behind your accent colors is that each one should match at least two of your main colors. Keep that in mind.

Based on my style choice, my activity options, and my color selections, Cladwell gave me the following pieces to build my spring wardrobe with:

Primary shirts: button front, blouse, top, cotton t-shirt, tunic.

Top layers: 2 cover-ups, 2 sweaters, 1 sweatshirt.

Pants: 3 dress trousers, 2 jeans.

Dresses: 2 business dresses, 1 day dress, 1 teeshirt dress.

Skirts: 1 maxi skirt, 2 knee length skirts.

Shoes: 1 pair of boots, 1 pair of booties, 1 pair of heels, 1 pair of flats, 1 pair of sneakers.

Outerwear: 1 jacket, 2 coats.

If you add all that up, it’s 30 pieces, which falls right in line with the capsule wardrobe idea. As I clicked on each item, it gave me three choices of colors, depending on what the item was, and I could click “have this” or “need to buy” (or “want to buy”) this item. I managed to work through the whole selection, thinking about items I had, even if they were a variation of what they suggested.

For example, they suggested two sweaters, and I had a white one, and a raspberry one. I wasn’t planning on incorporating a sweatshirt into my attire, so I made that green, and substituted a sweater there. For the blouse, I have a white blouse with black dots, and I added that. I don’t own a tunic, but I have a great purple blouse with a longer back than front, so I chose that for my tunic option. I found that flexibility was a key part to making this work with my current wardrobe and not getting hung up on “I really want to replace all my clothes.”

Having said all of that, when I sat down and looked at my list and thought about my wardrobe options, I wanted a little more variety. So I made a list of all the items I was going to use in my spring capsule, building off of their suggestions and my desires. I highlighted all the items they suggested, so that when I evaluated the process after three months I could see how much wear those items got vs. the ones I added on my own.

Over three months I made my clothing choices from these items and I learned that several of the pieces weren’t working for me. I had chosen a grey cardigan for one of my 2 cover-up options, thinking it would be a nice neutral piece and could work with a lot of my tops. What I found was that when I grabbed a cover-up to go over my tops, I almost always chose black or white, and what I wished for was a color for that third option. So, because I had my “stash” downstairs, I donated that grey cardigan, and brought up my red one. I’ve already gotten more use out of it in one month than I did out of the grey one in three. I also brought up a red tee shirt, and switched out a salmon/pink colored blouse that I thought I loved for a navy blue one that was very similar to it. I wear that navy blue one all the time and I think my color palette leads more towards winter. That salmon top also got donated. Tan seems to have been a poor choice, as I didn’t wear my tan pants once. I don’t know if it was narrow minded thinking on my part, but I’ve kept them as I’m willing to try them again. Although, I’m thinking (deep breath) that maybe white pants might be a better idea. I have a pair of white linen capris for summer that I love and I already can see that they will work with 90% of all my tops for the next three months. I’m thinking about white cords and a pair of white dress pants and kicking tan to the curb. We’ll see.

The biggest lesson I learned, especially in the winter and the spring, is that layering items gives you a ton of outfit choices. Let’s look at a few pieces in my collection. I’ve made photos collages, as much as I hate them, to cut down on swamping you with pictures. Six items from my capsule were black pants, grey pants, a white blouse, a button down shirt, and two sweaters. While I had a few button down shirts for variety, I’ve chosen a 3/4 sleeve white tee for this grouping.

Despite the lousy lighting in my photos, both of these tops are white. Now they can both be worn alone, with black pants or grey pants. That is four outfits right there. Then I can add a sweater to the top of each shirt. So here I show the white button down under the red sweater and the black and white blouse under the green sweater. Each one is shown hanging in front of both the grey and black pants. The top shows the white shirt in front of the grey pants and the white dotted blouse in front of the black pants (it’s white, I promise).

Capsule Wardrobes: Mix and Match
Surprise cameo in the top photo by my cat Sophie, who is a diva.

The next photo shows the same items arranged in a different way. The dotted blouse is paired with the grey pants, and the white shirt matches with the black pants. Then, the sweaters are switched, and each top/sweater set is shown with each pair of pants again. That is twelve different outfits using the same two pairs of pants, two tops, and two sweaters. If I stuck with those same tops and sweaters, and added in two different pairs of pants, say a pair of jeans and my third dress pant option, we’d have twelve more outfits. The key is to pick pieces that work together with all the other pieces in your capsule.

Capsule Wardrobes: Mixing and Matching

Now I want to point out when I choose my outfits to wear the next day, or for the next few days, they don’t hang like this on my rack. They do hang in that spot at the end, so I can just grab my clothes and head to the shower. I normally would have the sweater on it’s own hanger, and the shirt or blouse on it’s own hanger. These photos were for demonstration purposes only. In order to fit all those clothes on that rack, I use Huggable Hangers, which I bought at Target. You can also order them here online, and if I could do it again, I would buy the black ones. My darker sweaters and tops leave lint behind on the light hangers, which is fine if you aren’t a recovering perfectionist like I am (winks).

You will notice that some of my hangers face the wrong way. That is because I work part-time, four hours a day. I also have a Husky who likes to play and sheds her coat twice a year. When I get home from work, I change out of my work clothes. If I have worn an item twice, it goes into the laundry. If it has only been worn once, it goes back on the rack. Shirts get hung the wrong way to indicate they have been worn once.

Capsule Wardrobe : saving space

For a while I struggled with how to make note that my pants had been worn more then once, other than a mental note in my head. I keep meaning to look for laundry discs at the store, but in the meantime I finally went through some craft supplies I have and came up with these tags. Whatever makes  your life easier, and with a quick glance I know if I have worn a bottom piece recently or not.

Keeping Clothing Organized in Your Closet: Tips and Tricks


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