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How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe

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Nothing to Wear Romy and Michele
Source: ELLE

Have you heard of capsule wardrobes before? The first time I came across the term was when I stumbled upon Caroline Rector’s blog Unfancy. I have to admit I was initially unconvinced, but as I fell down the rabbit hole of the internet and did a little more research, I became more and more intrigued by the concept.

Read on to find out more about capsule wardrobes: what they are, how they can benefit you, and why they work so well for a college budget.

What is it?

The term “capsule wardrobe” was first coined in the 1970s by Suzie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called Wardrobe. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe consisted of a foundation of clothing staples that are timeless, but can be augmented with seasonal pieces. While the definition varies slightly from person to person, this minimalistic approach to fashion has experienced a resurgence of popularity in recent years.

Caroline Rector, the mastermind behind the blog Unfancy, has devoted an entire website to the art of the capsule wardrobe. In her words, “It’s a mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you totally LOVE to wear.”

Sounds too good to be true, right? I mean, isn’t that what everyone aspires for their closet to be? The beauty of a capsule wardrobe is that you can invest in pieces that fit your lifestyle while still reflecting your personal style.

Unfancy homepage copy
Photo: Screenshot

How can it benefit me?

The fact of the matter is, there are probably several (if not more) items in your closet that have been hanging untouched for far too long. We all have clothes that were impulse buys, gifts from a relative (sorry grandma!), and/or don’t fit right and we aren’t totally in love with.

Odds are, you’ve probably stared into your closet and uttered the famous last words: “I have nothing to wear!” at least once in your life. Having too many options can often make getting dressed more complicated than it needs to be. The goal of a capsule wardrobe is not to limit your style, but to allow you to maximize the pieces you do have. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s important to remember that we can be happy with a lot less than we think sometimes.

For college girls on a budget, the idea of a capsule wardrobe is enticing for other reasons. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some retail therapy, but it can be far too easy to buy items on impulse that aren’t very wearable or versatile. These random, miscellaneous purchases add up over time. With a capsule wardrobe, you only need to shop for clothes once every few months between seasons. This allows you to shop with a mission, and only purchase items that fill a hole in your capsule wardrobe.

How do I create a capsule wardrobe?

For Caroline, this means pairing down her seasonal wardrobe to include just 37 pieces of quality clothing (not including workout clothes, special occasion clothing, jewelry, accessories, purses, pajamas, swimsuits, and lingerie) for each season: summer, fall, winter, and spring.

While the number 37 may seem arbitrary, Caroline came up with number after doing some math. She knew she wanted 9 pairs of shoes, 9 bottoms, 2 dress, 2 jackets/coats and 15 tops. This number may not work for everyone, but it can be used as a jumping off point.

I suggest using Caroline’s handy (and free!) downloadable capsule wardrobe planner to get started. For a more in-depth step-by-step breakdown of how to create a capsule wardrobe check out this post. You can also take a look at Caroline’s past capsule wardrobes here, here, and here.

For added inspiration, here’s a peek at what my dream fall capsule wardrobe would consist of:

Capsule wardrobe tops
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Capsule wardrobe outwear and bottoms
16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

Capsule wardrobe sweaters, dresses, skirts, shoes
24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37

Keep in mind…

A capsule wardrobe may not be for everyone. If the thought of creating a capsule wardrobe causes you to break out in a sweat, that’s 100% alright. Regardless of whether you decide to join in on the capsule wardrobe movement, there are a few things you can still take away from the concept:

  1. Shop smart. I’m all for impulse buys, but only when they are worthwhile steals or purchases. My rule of thumb is to take the article of clothing or accessory I’m thinking about buying and come up with at least three different ways I can style it. If I can successfully do that, then I know it’s a good buy. If I can’t, then I force myself to put it back.
  2. Periodically going through your closet can only benefit you. I try to do this at least once every semester. There are usually items that I’ve grown tired of, or haven’t really worn to begin with. Instead of taking up precious closet space, get rid of these items by donating them or selling them. Who knows, you might even make a buck or two!
  3. While I’m all for buying the occasional trendy item, remember the importance of basic, timeless pieces. Patterns like stripes, polka dots, and plaid will always be stylish. Try investing in a quality pair of jeans that fit you perfectly and will last far longer than a cheap pair ever would. Don’t be afraid to spend more on high quality fashion staples. When you break down the cost per wear, it’s often worth it to invest in a more expensive item.
  4. If you’re traveling for the holidays, consider utilizing a capsule format to pack outfits. Thinking about multiple ways to style articles of clothing will help you pack more efficiently and keep your suitcase considerably lighter.

What do you think?

What do you think of capsule wardrobes? Would you ever consider giving them a try? What kinds of items would make it into your capsule wardrobe? Let me know, I’d love to hear!

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Caught in the Cold: How to Make Your Fall Wardrobe Work for Unexpected Winter Weather


Elle snow winter coat
Photo via ELLE

If you live or attend school in the United States, you probably experienced (or at least heard about) the crazy cold front that swept the country these last few weeks. I go to school in a little town in the northwest, and our weather went from a sunny 71 degrees to – no joke! – a snowy 24 degrees in the span of a week.

Needless to say, I was caught off-guard. With all my winter clothes still at home, all I had was my fall wardrobe to keep me warm: casual staples like jeans, shirts, sweaters, boots, and scarves. No hats, gloves, or snow boots, and the only coat I had was a medium-weight utility jacket like this one.

So, what could I do? I had to choose between refusing to leave the house for over a week, or improvising and making my fall clothes work for the sudden cold snap. I went with the second option, of course (though the first was definitely tempting!), and now I’m here to share the tips and tricks that helped me survive winter’s early arrival.

Tips for Staying Warm with Your Existing Wardrobe

  • What’s rule #1? ALWAYS LAYER. This may seem obvious, but it’s so important that it’s worth restating. Creative layering is the only way you’ll be able to make lightweight fall clothes work for winter weather. Layer, layer, and layer some more, and even if you think there’s no way you can squeeze into another layer, try anyways! A good formula to start with is wool socks, leggings or tights, a tank, a shirt, pants, a sweater, a coat, the biggest pair of boots you own, and any combination of a scarf/hat/gloves/etc.. You can always double up on any of these layers – try two pairs of socks, two tanks or tees, two pairs of leggings… whatever works for you!
  • Don’t feel like you have to go out and buy cold weather clothes if you don’t want to. As already mentioned, layering will make a big difference, but you can also DIY some cold weather pieces. Be resourceful and try making your own infinity scarf from an old tee or sweater, or making fingerless gloves from a pair of socks.
  • Check your clothes’ labels to see what they’re made of. The warmest fabrics are things like wool, flannel, cashmere, acrylic, silk, and fleece. If you have any of these in your closet, definitely put them to use!
  • The trick to still looking chic and fashionable during a cold front is utilizing color, pattern, and accessories to your advantage. Mixing bright colors, bold prints, and sparkly accessories will always help you stand out on a dreary day.

Next up, I’m going to show you three looks inspired by outfits I actually wore while enduring snow, ice, and below-freezing temps. They all feature the same lightweight utility jacket, since that was the kind of jacket I had to wear every day:

Look #1

Jeans plaid shirt purple cardigan
Products: Shirt, Cardigan, Jeans, Boots, Scarf, Jacket

For an easy and colorful cold weather combo, try layering a plaid shirt under a bright cardigan and a jacket. Make do with a pair of jeans and lace-up boots, and if you have one, throw on a cozy white scarf. I didn’t show any base layers here, but you could easily add a tank or tee under the plaid shirt and a pair of tights or leggings under the jeans. And don’t forget about a pair of thick socks (or two!).

Look #2

Black dress white sweater black leggings jacket
Products: Dress, Sweater, Boots, Leggings, Socks, Earrings, Jacket

If you’re going to wear a dress in freezing weather, this is how to do it. Make do with whatever dress you have – you can even make a lightweight summer dress work if you have enough layers. Wear it over a couple pairs of tights or leggings, plus thick knit socks. Add a comfy cable knit sweater over the top, then your jacket. Complete the look with ankle boots (a stable, low heel if it’s icy) and a bit of sparkle from jeweled earrings.

Look #3

Yellow sweater chambray shirt black jeans jacket
Products: Shirt, Sweater, Jeans, Boots, Necklace, Jacket

This layered look has a slightly preppy feel – just slip a chambray shirt on under a bright sweater (popped collar optional), and pair it with black jeans and a jacket. Black moto boots add an edgy touch, while layered charm necklaces add a bit of metallic sparkle. And again, don’t forget that you could layer on an extra tank, tee, or pair of leggings for more warmth.

Share your thoughts!

Were you hit by the unusual cold front this week? How did you dress for the weather? What tips do you have for making a fall wardrobe work for winter temps? Let us know in the comments!

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Sponsored: Win $100+ Worth of Jewelry from Chloe + Isabel!

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With the holidays coming up, we’re all about adding a little sparkle to our wardrobes with the help of statement jewelry. Chloe + Isabel is one of our go-to jewelry brands, and today they’re giving YOU the chance to win some of their covet-worthy pieces!

This giveaway is in celebration of Chloe + Isabel’s GEM program, which gives college students the ability to start their own small businesses and develop their entrepreneurial skills while earning extra spending money.

Read on to learn all about GEM and enter to win a gorgeous prize pack from one of our fave jewelry brands!

About Chloe + Isabel’s GEM Program

Chloe and Isabel campus merchandiser

Chloe + Isabel’s GEM (Growth and Empowerment through Merchandising) program provides college students with an opportunity to break into the fashion industry and develop their entrepreneurial skills.

GEM Merchandisers earn extra cash in college while growing their resumes with real-world sales, merchandising, marketing, and social media skills to help them land their dream jobs. Special incentives include a VIP trip to NYC, shopping sprees at top retailers, letters of recommendation from CEO Chantel Waterbury, resume writing sessions, and more!

GEM is open to creative and confident college leaders between 18-22 years old. Once you sign up, Chloe + Isabel offers a complete video training series you can view on your own time. It teaches you everything you need to know to become a successful GEM Merchandiser.

GEM launches three classes per year: January, May, and September. They are currently recruiting for the January class and the application deadline is November 30th – so if you’re interested, you need to apply ASAP!

To apply for GEM and learn more, visit the GEM website for all the information.

Enter to Win a $100+ Jewelry Prize Pack!

Chloe and Isabel prize

To celebrate their GEM program, Chloe + Isabel is offering three lucky CF readers a jewelry prize pack worth over $130. Three lucky readers will receive the two pieces shown above, the Celestial Frost Convertible Necklace and the Crystal Strand Statement Headband!

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below. No purchase necessary to enter. For full terms and conditions, see our Giveaway Official Rules.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best of luck!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Chloe + Isabel. The opinions, as always, are our own. For more information, please see our Disclosure page.

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