YOUR Capsule Wardrobe: Part 1

Do you feel like you'll never get this capsule wardrobe thing down? Trust me, you will.

As I mentioned in this post, odds are you already have the foundation for one that's perfect for YOU. If you have not read that post, take a quick look as it will help you understand the process outlined here.

I have decided to break this post up into a series because there is just so much information to digest! In these posts I will cover how to look at the data you have collected, how to think about coming seasons in light of what you're wearing now, your color palette, your outfit uniforms, and more!

To start, we are going to get a sense of what you really wore this month. I'm going to take you through a reader's tracker to show you just how to use this data to start creating your capsule and discover your go-to uniforms. 

The Clothes

Our wonderful reader wore 51 pieces during a 31-day period. For someone without a formal capsule wardrobe, this is pretty darn great! The number breakdown of items is:

  • 24 Tops
    • 17 Tops
    • 4 Top/Bottom Layer (Tank Tops & Camisoles that can be worn alone or under a sweater or another top)
    • 3 Tops/Outer Layer (Sweaters that can be worn alone or over another top)
  • 1 Dress
  • 5 Outer Layers
  • 11 Bottoms
  • 8 Shoes
  • 2 Scarves

Now let's delve deeper into the data to get some more information about the pieces and wearing habits to figure out what all this means in terms of a capsule wardrobe. 

Step One

Open up your outfit and clothing tracker that you have been diligently using for the past few weeks. (Get started today if you're a first time reader!) Go old school and grab a pen and paper, then turn to the "Clothing Items" worksheet in the document. Write "My Capsule Basics" at the top of the paper.

Tally up the total number of items worn during your month and write it at the top of your paper so you know what you're starting with. 

Step Two

Below your heading, write down all pieces of clothing you wore THREE or more times with the number of times you wore it in parenthesis. As you write each item down, write what kind of piece it is and underline the color. (Pretend the colors here are underlined. Squarespace - where's my ability to underline?!) (Note: these are affiliate links and I will earn a small commission for each click, which goes towards helping me run this blog. Thanks!)

These are your foundational pieces

LOFT Green/Navy Striped Top
  1. ON Jeggings (8) - Bottom
  2. Black Steve Madden Boots (7) - Shoes
  3. Tan 9 West Boots (9) - Shoes
  4. J Crew Navy Vest (7) - Outer Layer
  5. Dr. Scholls Black Flats (5) - Shoes
  6. Gap Black Pants (4) - Bottom
  7. Stitch Fix Jeans (4) - Bottom
  8. Ivanka Trump Booties (5) - Shoes
  9. Express Anchor Shirt (3) - Top
  10. Blue Loft Pants (3) - Bottom
  11. Black Loft Leggings (3) - Bottom
  12. Grey Target Cardigan (3) - Outer Layer
  13. LOFT Green/Navy Striped Top (3) - Top
  14. Grey LOFT Leggings (3) - Bottom

Take a quick glance at this list and you'll notice that most of the items are either shoes or bottoms, which tells me that there is a lot more variation in the tops that have been worn during the past month. This is really common - we are likely to repeat our bottoms and shoes far more often than our tops during a month. Is this the case for you? If not, don't worry! Even if you have more variety in your bottoms than your tops, you'll still be able to apply the following steps.

Of the 14 items on this list, there are: 6 bottoms, 4 pairs of shoes, 2 outer layers and 2 tops. Of note, the most worn bottoms are made up of neutral colors: black, grey, and navy. 

Capsule wardrobe neutral base colors

Of these foundational pieces, key pieces are already taking shape in the form of an outer layer, a fitted bottoms, boots, and patterned tops. 

Capsule wardrobe key pieces.

Step Three

Navy/Teal Loft Top

Let's take a look at the items worn twice during the month (13 items):

  1. LOFT Pink Striped Top - Top
  2. Navy/Teal LOFT Top w/ Zipper - Top
  3. J.Crew Teal Plaid Shirt - Top
  4. H&M Blue Patterned Tunic - Top
  5. LOFT Burgundy Floral Shirt - Top
  6. Gap Chambray Shirt - Top
  7. Burgundy LOFT Sweater - Top/Outer Layer
  8. Black ON Stretchy Tank Top - Top/Bottom Layer
  9. ON Periwinkle Cardigan - Outer Layer
  10. Teal AE Sweater - Top/Outer Layer
  11. Banana Republic Purple Pants - Bottom
  12. Nine West Navy Flats - Shoes
  13. Target Black 3/4 Cardigan - Outer Layer

These are your outfit makers.


Of the items worn twice during the month there are: 6 tops, 2 tops/outer layers, 1 top/bottom layer, 2 outer layers, 1 bottom, and 1 pair of shoes.

Here is where we start to see a additional tops on the list, as well as more color variation. But, if you look closely, a color palette begins to emerge. Teal, shades of blue, and burgundy show up more than once in this portion of the list (and in the next). There's also a pair of purple pants worn twice this month. All of these colors work great with the grey, black, and blue bottoms from the first group. 

Capsule wardrobe outfit making colors.

What other patterns do you see here in the items? Solid outer layers (cardigans and pullover sweaters) and more striped/patterned tops. 

Note: You'll see that I am categorizing cardigan sweaters differently as outer layers from pullover sweaters because cardigans must be worn over another top while regular sweaters can be worn alone or with a layer underneath. I have also categorized tanks and camisoles as both a top and/or bottom layer because you may wear them alone or as a base layer under a sweater or another top. If you only wear these items in a certain way, please categorize them in the way that makes the most sense for the way your dress. 

Step Four

Take a moment to write down the items that you have worn only once during your tracking period. In our example, 24 items were worn just once during the month: 

  1. Grey/White Striped 3/4 Loft Top - Top
  2. White LOFT Tank - Top/Bottom Layer
  3. J.Crew Pink & Navy Flats - Shoes
  4. Teal H&M Short-Sleeved Top - Top
  5. Off-White Stitch Fix Cardigan - Outer Layer
  6. Pink ON Tank - Top/Bottom Layer
  7. Anthropologie Bootcut Jeans - Bottom
  8. Grey ON Cords - Bottom
  9. Black V-Neck - Top
  10. White Camisole - Top/Bottom Layer
  11. Burgundy Loft Leggings - Bottom
  12. Hot Pink Sweater - Top/Outer Layer
  13. Black ON Longsleeved Tee - Top
  14. Khaadi Scarf - Scarf
  15. Keds - Shoes
  16. Lace Red Peplum Top - Top
  17. Banana Republic Navy Longsleeved Top - Top
  18. Gap Striped Top - Top
  19. Gap Striped Scarf - Scarf
  20. Polkadot Boden Dress - Dress
  21. Gap Skinny Jeans - Bottom
  22. LOFT Mauve Shirt - Top
  23. Dr. Scholl's Brown Flats - Shoes
  24. ON Red 3/4 Top - Top

As you can see, this list is almost double the size of the first two groups, and the majority of items are tops, specifically layering items. I want to be clear: there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a capsule wardrobe of 51 items, particularly if you wear a lot of these pieces year-round! 

That said, in the next post I'm going to walk you through exactly how to analyze these pieces to see where you can cut down or shift them into your Spring/Summer capsule. We'll dive into how they work with the first two groups of clothes that make up your capsule foundation.

Take Action

Spend some time reviewing the items you only wore once. Make note of the following:

  • Was this item comfortable?
  • Did I like the way it looked in the outfit I wore? 
  • Do I see myself wearing this more than once per month next season? 
  • What item that I currently wear more frequently might replace this item in my outfits? (For example, a black tank might be just fine instead of various colors.) 
  • What other items do I need to add to my wardrobe to wear these more often? (Tights for the dress.)

Check out Part 2 now!