How To Build A Fall Capsule Wardrobe
We send more than 12 million tonnes of clothing and textiles into the waste stream every year – and that’s not a good look. As we shop, scroll, swipe, one-click-ship, like-to-buy, and pre-order our way through life, it’s easy to forget that every single “new” purchase is part of the problem.
Because “What’s one more t-shirt?” Well, it takes 2,650 liters of water to make that shirt. “A new pair of jeans?” Add 6,800 liters more, to help, we have teamed up with Lemonberry to help you create the fall capsule wardrobe of your dreams!
This post is generously sponsored by Lemonberry. We only work with brands we know, love, and trust.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called "Wardrobe" in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don't go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces, usually in the realm of 30 items or fewer, including shoes and sometimes even accessories. Faux suggested fewer than a dozen items for an ideal capsule wardrobe.
Today, the fall capsule wardrobe has become "trendy" and I think that's doing more harm than good. We see so many blogs, articles, and even books on the subject, but in many cases, the actual tenets behind the concept have been completely lost.
I've seen blogs that promote upwards of 30 pieces of clothing per season; this is far from the concept of a capsule wardrobe in my opinion. A fall capsule wardrobe should have nothing to do with shopping for new clothes every season; the whole point of it is to challenge how and why we consume, meanwhile maximizing the use of what we own. The minimum number of items will change from person to person, and climate to climate, but it’s essential to focus on the benefits that have nothing to do with fashion.
Benefits of building a fall capsule wardrobe:
- Integrating a capsule wardrobe can affect how you see your participation in other consumption patterns. Once you start down a path of more conscious consumerism in one area, it can provide inspiration for other ways to live intentionally and lessen your impact on the environment.
- Removing shopping for the sake of shopping from your lifestyle frees up a lot of money. When you do need to replace an item, you can consider repairing/adapting what you have or buying a replacement at a second-hand price.
- Having less clothing in regular rotation ultimately allows for less time spent managing stuff! Creating a capsule wardrobe allows you to stop sifting through piles of clothes that you forgot you had, don’t fit anymore, or aren’t popular anymore. Bedrooms, closets, and laundry spaces are easily put in order.
- Fewer options that are always in rotation make it easier to get dressed. I used to wake up and try several outfit combinations before settling on one for the day. It made me late, and a little frazzled. Now I put an outfit on, and that’s it: I’m me, it fits, and I feel good.
How to start building your fall capsule wardrobe?
1. Audit your wardrobe
Assess what types of clothes you typically wear, and how often. This is a really important step, you want to make sure you are not doubling up on items your already own. It’s a good idea to also look at the items your wear the most. Did you know most people only wear about 50% of their wardrobe? I am totally guilty of this, but trying to do better!
Evaluate what you already have by making a "keep" pile and a "donate" pile, then donate or sell what you no longer need. A good rule of thumb is if you have not worn it in 6 months, it is time to let it go. Fill in your wardrobe gaps with seasonal clothing from storage first.
Collecting items for a capsule wardrobe is not hard, but it does require some intentional thinking. First, consider what types of items you’re looking for. You could take a week and observe how many days in that week you wear leggings, pants, skirts, dresses, and shoes. Take pictures of the outfits you like, or even just jot the items down so that you have a sense of what types of clothes you find most comfortable and useful. These are the essential items that build a framework of what you already have.
2. Identify gaps in your wardrobe
Since a fall capsule wardrobe is intended to be a collection of clothes that you wear a few times before washing, you’ll need several uses/outfits using the same items. A summer tank top is also a winter base layer; leggings can be used on their own or under a skirt.
Identify the gaps and create one list with all that you have at home, and a wish list of garments (skirt, t-shirt, sweater) for when you’re shopping. It’s important to have both so that you’re aware of how items and colors could work together.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to build the entire wardrobe in one day! Be honest: if something doesn’t fit or you’re not 100% sold on it, then hold off. In the process of creating a capsule wardrobe, you’re developing new habits: letting go of nostalgic items that don’t serve you, and simply saying ‘no’ when you aren’t sure. It can be a good idea to start with a small wardrobe the first week, try it out, and then make a second trip the next weekend. The added bonus is that there will likely be ‘new’ second-hand gems on the racks.
Finding sustainable clothing can be challenging, and we love that Lemonberry offers a range of fall capsule wardrobe basics in one place.
Lemonberry’s founder Lisa Simmons has done a really fantastic job at curating conscious wardrobe pieces that will compliment any closet.
Lisa opened Lemonberry in 2004 but it was the death of her dad in 2013 that took her path in a new direction. She came to realize that life was not all about money and after discovering how bad the fast fashion industry is, she decided to dedicate her life and business to be more “eco-conscious, non-toxic, sustainable”.
Lemonberry is a “go-to eco-conscious women's boutique as a place where women can go and feel supported and fulfilled in all areas of their lives - home, clothing, food, lifestyle & beauty.
Examples of a fall capsule wardrobe
Basic Tee’s, tops, or tanks
We recommend having at least 3 basic tees and 2 tank tops, this will give your fall capsule wardrobe the basic layers it needs to get started. Make sure at least one Tee is a good fitting, good quality one.
If you live in a winter climate you could consider a long sleeve bodysuit as an option. Here you have the choice of choosing between three colors for a basic tee.
You can also go for a v-neck instead of a round neck, the options are endless!
If you already have a great tee then you can switch it up by adding either a tank top or crew top, lots of great neutral colors to choose from.
Shirts and blouses
2 shirts and 1 blouse should be more than enough for your capsule wardrobe. And I bet you already have at least one good shirt in your closet. If you find you don’t wear shirts too often, then go with one shirt and 2 blouses instead, this should give you enough to work with when building outfits.
For shirts, there is nothing more versatile than a crisp white shirt! You can opt for color or for something a little dressier like what you see in the images below.
3 good quality sweaters are a good start. If you live in a colder climate you can up that to 4, we prefer colors that can be worn with anything, so think camel, black, cream, white, or even navy. Also, consider making one of them a turtleneck.
A good rule of thumb is to have 1-2 dressy pairs and 1 casual pair, the idea is to be able to mix and match.
We love the idea of having at least one very versatile skirt. But it's not a necessity.
Most of us have a selection of jeans in our existing wardrobes, make sure you keep only what you wear. For a fall capsule wardrobe, 2-3 pairs of jeans MAX is all you need. Jeans are so versatile, you can dress them up and down and they can be worn in summer and winter.
2 fall dresses are all you need, the key here is to look for ones that fit like a glove but can also be worn under or over certain items in your closet.
You’re fall capsule wardrobe needs to have a fall coat and a winter coat. Winter coats are a big investment so make sure you pick the right now. Do your research or turn to someone like Lemonberry for advice. It’s key to have one that will keep you super warm. Along with a super warm coat, you can also consider basic staples like a black blazer or jean jacket, both so versatile!
3 pairs of sustainable shoes are a great start, we recommend classic ankle boots, a dressy pair, and of courts a warm pair that will keep your feet dry in those rainy fall months.
Choose a day bag that's super-versatile and easy to wear with anything in your wardrobe. A belt bag is a great option it can be worn three ways — clutch or hands-free crossbody/around the waist.
We've created a few outfit ideas for you using all the items we chatted about above!
A final word on building a fall capsule wardrobe
Remember, building a capsule wardrobe of any kind will take time and patience. The key is to think about what you love to wear most often and start there. Have you ever tried a fall capsule wardrobe? Share your experience in the comments below.