I'm going to be honest with you: This entire post is one giant excuse to get me to start wearing actual clothes and not, you know, leggings. Since the concept of heading into the office is still a long ways away, I haven't quite gotten to the point of putting on makeup or shoes, but progress is progress! You'll recognize the majority of these pieces from a post I published a year ago on three weeks of capsule wardrobe outfits—but adapted for a slightly hotter apartment than the air-conditioned office I was working from at the time. And, because you had so many questions after my last capsule wardrobe post, I answered some of your FAQs below! Here's what I wore from my capsule wardrobe over two weeks of working from home:
Last month, I asked for your capsule wardrobe questions on @shopcupcakesandcashmere and only had the time to answer about ten, but there were hundreds of them! Because I didn't want many to go unanswered, I'm answering your top questions here—if I missed yours, please feel free to ask it in the comments and I'll do my best to answer it!
1. How do you stay inspired with the pieces you have in your closet, without buying new pieces? Like, how do you not get bored?
First things first: Quality over quantity! When I owned many more pieces than I do now, I only loved and reached for a fraction of those pieces. Now, I have fewer pieces overall but love every single one of them—so it feels like I have a larger closet than I ever did.
Beyond that, I get creative with the items I already own. Within a few weeks of watching Michaela Coel's "I May Destroy You," I became obsessed with the idea of oversized jeans and a looped belt, but instead realized I could improvise with the pieces I already own. It isn't exactly the same, but Thursday's outfit above captures at least a similar vibe (I mean, not half as cool, but still).
Finally, use every item in your closet—I've worn pajama tops as over-sized button-downs, and in that same outfit above, I used an athleisure top as a simple black crop top.
2. Do you have any tips for people who live in areas with more distinct seasons?
I follow Marie Kondo's advice on seasonal clothes. In her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, she writes:
The custom of storing seasonal clothes is behind the times. With the introduction of air-conditioning and heating, our homes are less subject to the weather outside. It's not uncommon now to see people wearing T-shirts indoors even in winter. So it's time to abandon this custom and keep all our clothes ready to be used year-round, regardless of the season.
With the exception of coats and outdoor gear like ski clothes (which I keep in a coat closet), I keep all of my summer clothes (tanks, shorts) and winter clothes (sweaters, long-sleeves, pants) organized in my regular closet. For winter, I use my warmer clothes as a base, then just add boots, winter accessories, maybe a second sweater or vest, and a coat. For reference, you can see what I wore for a week in Europe last winter here (lots of layering!).
3. How did you find your personal style?
Trial and error! The biggest mistake I used to make was buying things that looked good on other people, but not me. As soon as I started buying things I personally love, I started to see my own style naturally emerge. I also take note (and sometimes a mirror selfie!) any time I wear an outfit I feel particularly good in, which helps me understand what it is about the outfit that I love. That being said, style is always changing and evolving! I find the city I live in is the single most impactful variable on my style.
4. Staples you would recommend and most versatile pieces?
It totally depends on your personal style—ever since watching Zoe Kravitz in "High Fidelity" I realized I was totally sleeping on Hawaiian shirts, see here, here, and here. For me, my most versatile pieces are: white oxfords, tanks with bow sleeves (like this and this), high-waisted, wide-legged denim, and my Jenni Kayne mules which I bought almost two years ago and remain my favorite shoes.
5. Is there anything you did to make sure it wasn't just trendy things for now?
The trick to making trendy purchases is to buy them because you love them—and will continue to love them, even once the [insert: one-shoulder/peasant dress/bike shorts/statement necklace/tie-dye/puffy shoulders/blazers/peter pan collar] phase is long gone. I have about five prairie dresses from Doen sample sales over the years, and love each and every one of them, despite the trend being "over" (according to the internet at least).
I have a lot of things in my closet that were super trendy at one point, but aren't so much anymore—but I wear them anyway because I love them! And, most of the items I donated or sold were items I bought because of trends, despite not loving how they looked on me.
6. What have your best purchases been?
I adore my Doen prairie dress (pictured above) and tank in the same print, Ren Agolde jeans, and vintage Levi's (I got mine from Virgo and followed Jess's tips for vintage denim, here). I really love this J.Crew jacket, which I bought in college and have worn every winter since! And finally, I re-bought the exact same Madewell denim jacket when mine was worn to threads.
7. Where do you start?
Step one: Take everything out of your closet, and edit, edit, edit. I primarily followed the KonMari method—you can read more here!
8. What do you do with sentimental pieces, stuff you do still wear but not daily? I have clothes that I can't part with but don't wear enough.
I'm a bit ruthless about keeping items on sentimental grounds, so I recognize that this take may not work for everyone, but if you're keeping something purely for sentimental reasons, take a photo of it then get rid of it.
If you're really afraid you'll miss it, try a trial period: Hang it in a separate closet from your regular closet (like a coat closet). If you spontaneously think of it and pull it out to wear it within a year, add it back to your normal closet. If not, get rid of it! If you don't miss it in a year, chances are you won't miss it in two, or ten, or twenty.
9. Do you ever regret getting rid of anything, and miss it?
Nope! For me, it's been a case of "out of sight, out of mind" and I think you'll find the same.
10. How often do you donate/purge?
I'm in a constant very slow state of editing—asking myself if I truly need something, or if I can donate or sell it. I keep those items in a small canvas bag and add them to Poshmark every few months, but there's no need for big purges or spring cleans anymore!
11. Would love to learn what you did with clothes not in your wardrobe. Are they in storage?
I'm actually fairly anti-storage since I feel like it leads to over-consumption. Outside of my camping/ski gear and coats, I don't own anything that isn't in my closet—everything you see in the closet above is what I have! I find that when I add something to storage, I rarely end up actually using it, so I make a point of keeping all of my clothes super accessible.
12. How much do you budget per month for clothes? And what are your go-to stores?
It varies, but I'd say on average I spend $25 a month on clothes—it's usually $0, but every few months I'll spend about $200 on a major purchase, whether a single item or a few pieces of athleisure.
13. How many items of clothing would you consider an "ideal" capsule closet?
People feel very strongly about this question, but I don't! I see the number 33 thrown around a lot, and when I first edited it down I counted 36, but I feel that you should have however many items you need to feel like you're both wearing everything in your closet, but not missing anything strongly. Start with less than you need, then build slowly from there.
14. How do you decide if you want to go high-end or low-end on a piece?
I go high-end on most pieces I buy now, because I'm shopping for items that are high-quality enough to last for years. I know it can feel jarring to see me link to $400 shoes, for example, but I'd rather spend $400 on a pair I'll wear for years than $20 on something that will fall apart in a few months and likely isn't made as ethically. Whenever I make a high-end purchase like that though, I use Qapital to put aside a few dollars at a time until I've earned up for it!
15. What do you do about special/themed parties?
First of all, this question leads me to assume that the person who asked it goes to wayyy more themed parties than I do (kudos). Second of all, I usually just borrow items! For special events, like weddings, I have dresses that work as well for work (like the one I wore above on Thursday) as they do for weddings.
16. How often do you add pieces? What's your criteria for adding the new item?
I have six questions I ask myself—wrote more here!
17. Tips to avoid temptation to buy new clothes and stick to a capsule wardrobe!
Every time you want to purchase something, then resist buying it, add the equivalent amount (plus tax and shipping!) to a Qapital goal. Use the money from that goal to reward yourself with a big purchase—clothing, or otherwise—at the end of the year!
18. Did it actually work as you expected to or did you find yourself still shopping?
Yes, it worked! I still add items to my closet, but far less frequently than ever before. That's why I keep yammering on about it in posts like this one. ;)
19. Have you ever been or are you what you would call a shop-a-holic, and how do you curb the urge?
Shopping addiction is a real affliction and while I've never been close to that, I've definitely had an unhealthy relationship with shopping in the past. I would shop because I was emotional instead of getting to the root of the actual issue (#retailtherapy) or get obsessive over "needing" certain items I definitely didn't need at all.
This happened to me a lot more when I worked in retail—when you're surrounded by clothes all day, you feel like you have to buy them! If you feel like you're shopping impulsively, take a look at the websites you visit and the people you follow on Instagram. If you feel like they're contributing to unhealthy shopping habits, for envy or any other reason, unfollow them (that includes me!).
20. What if I have a really small rented apartment and I want to have closet space?
Editing your closet is a fantastic way to feel like you have more closet space! 😉
What else? Want to know more about the jewelry I buy? Anything I didn't answer here? Let me know in the comments!