The Capsule Wardrobe Post In Which I Show You ALL My Clothing, ‘Cause That’s Totally Not Weird

by | Oct 30, 2014 | Capsule Wardrobe | 26 comments

Alright. The big capsule wardrobe reveal is here. And, yes, I know how silly this is. But, really, I can see why the internet is abuzz with capsule wardrobes. We are a people living under the yoke of luxury. Even those of us who aren’t rich. We don’t know when to replace and when to reuse. We don’t know what to save and what to share. We want to be generous but also responsible. We feel burdened by all our stuff. Yes it’s a #firstworldproblem but that doesn’t mean it’s not #alsoarealproblem.

On my first post about what a capsule wardrobe is and why I wanted to do it, I asked you to link up any of your wardrobe posts, new or old. They’ve been really inspiring to read. The link-up is still open. I’m linking this post up. Please continue to link yours up. Let’s do this crazy together. And if you need more inspiration, keep checking back there.

So, step one for me was deciding what kind of capsule wardrobe I wanted to do. There’s Courtney’s Project 333 method which is more about decluttering your life than on having a perfect wardrobe. She encourages people to work with what they have, and not buy anything new for their first capsule. Or there’s Caroline’s Unfancy method, where you dump a significant percentage of your wardrobe and start over, with pieces that you love and that mix and match and that fit your current body and current lifestyle. And that you’ll hope to use again in future capsules.

It’s easy to say that Project 333 is the right approach and Unfancy isn’t. Especially since her budget for clothing is significantly higher than many of us. But I don’t think it’s quite that simple. I know that, for me, I needed to do this in a way that I would love it and stick with it. So, I went with someplace in the middle. (Hey, I feel like I’ve said that before . . . )

I wanted to mostly work with what I already had, but also supplement with a few new things. I wanted to end up with things in my closet that were useful and, whenever possible, beautiful. And only that. But that’s what I’ve always wanted. I’ve cleaned out my closet a dozen times and always ended up right back in the same place.

So, step two was to commit to the method. I don’t know why, but I feel WAY more motivated to do this now that it’s a THING. It has a name, and rules, and a community. It’s more than just a general awareness that my wardrobe is out of control, which I’ve had for YEARS. It’s a plan of action, with a proven track record of success. Also rules. Have I mentioned I like rules?

But the problem is that the rules vary. Some people do thirty-three, some thirty-seven, some more. Some include formalwear, shoes, coats, and accessories in that count, some don’t. Most have four seasonal capsules, and that’s it. But I knew I was going to have to account more for seasons of life (because nursing, pregnant, both, neither) and less for seasons of the year (because Southern California).

My plan was to get down to forty pieces, inclusive of formalwear and coats and shoes, excluding running clothes and accessories.

Step three was to actually DO IT. And there I had some help. My friend Crysta Halpin, aka The Wardrobe Weeder, is starting a wardrobe consulting/styling business and I got to be one of her guinea pigs. (Need help? In SoCal? Email her. She will help you:  crystahalpin @ yahoo . com) Also, I blogged it. And if I blog it, I do it.

Also part of the closet now: entire empty sections of closet! One bajillion empty hangers! A tiny tuxedo and part of a St. Olaf Costume!

Crysta came over and we followed Caroline’s basic method: EVERYTHING OUT OF THE CLOSET. Everything. Out.
We made piles on the bed of . . . LOVE IT: Fall, Winter, Spring/Summer, and Maternity/Postpartum, a MAYBE pile, and a TOSS IT pile.
From the LOVE IT Fall pile, I tried stuff on and we made outfits, and took some photos. I actually wish we’d thought to take more. I’m not sure I remember them all correctly. We would grab a thing here or there out of the MAYBE pile, and even once from the TOSS IT pile, to make complete outfits. Things that I love, that fit now, that I can nurse in, and that are seasonally appropriate went onto hangers and into the closet. I ended up with forty-two pieces at that time, and instructions to get four new things to round out the capsule.
Then we went through the other LOVE IT piles again, to be sure I really did love those things, they were in good enough shape to hold on to, and they fit into outfits. I saved twenty to twenty-five pieces each for winter, spring/summer, and maternity/postpartum. I have two deep drawers in my closet, so off-season stuff went in those, and the maternity pieces went into a storage tub on one of the shelves. Shoes I wanted to save for other seasons went onto a different shelf, but pushed way to the back so I can’t really see them. When the time comes to switch to a different capsule, I’ll keep some things from my current capsule in the rotation, and I’ll supplement with some new things.
Which brings me to . . . step four: Buy some new things.
Here’s what I got. (Amazon Associate links.)

I spent a total of $164.
In the interest of full disclosure, and in case you want to be twinsies . . . these items are also pretty new. I got them for my birthday last month.

Step five was to sit with my choices for a few days. My new things came (I heart you Amazon Prime). I saw what I felt like wearing and what I thought maybe could still go, so I weeded a few more things out. I’m officially down to forty pieces now.
And here they are . . . 
sleeveless navy tee
band-waist coral tee
ruffle neck white blouse
high neck lace ivory blouse
sleeveless tie neck blouse
ivory and taupe stripe long sleeve tee
white long sleeve tee

slouchy rainbow cardigan
slouchy taupe pullover
whimsical dot cardigan
drapey off white cardigan
library cardigan
short sleeve cowl neck pullover in olive
multicolor zigzag cardigan

patterned ankle boyfriend jeans
skinny capri jeans in olive
annunciation stained glass leggings
wide leg trousers in citrine
high waist skinny jeans
black capri leggings

patterned circle skirt in ivory and orange
high waist stretch denim pencil skirt
brown velvet appliqué a-line skirt
hight waist pleated khaki skirt

metallic ballet flats
neutral elastic espadrilles
leopard ankle strap wedges
navy dot platform espadrilles
laser cut tall leather boots
suede ankle booties
olive green sneakers

stretch navy blazer
patterned short sleeve twill blazer
high neck waterproof coat
shawl neck sweater coat

dolman sleeve gathered waist dress in plum
red floral silk dress
chiffon mini shirt dress
denim shirt dress
library dress

My final thoughts on the process are . . . I am really, really glad I did this. If anything, I wish I could have extricated myself from a few more things. Maybe thirty-three IS the magic number. Even down to forty items, I still feel like I have more than I need, and certainly more than most women have had throughout history and all over the world. BUT. It’s a huge step in the right direction. I feel so, so, so much better about my closet now.

And I’m feeling inclined to wear more cute stuff more often. Here are my capsule wardrobe outfits so far (two pairs of shoes in these photos didn’t make the final cut):

Simplicity is a virtue. Having a more simple wardrobe means that more of my time and energy can be devoted to more important things than clothing choices. Generosity is a virtue. Some of the things I did not keep were really nice things. But they didn’t work for me. Hopefully they will work for someone else. Prudence is a virtue. So I didn’t just chuck it all. I could become pregnant again, so I saved some maternity clothes. Even though it’s eighty degrees here in LA again, odds are I will need those sweaters at some point, so I kept a few. Trust is also a virtue, and it’s maybe the most important one for me throughout this process. In the past, I kept so much of that stuff because of What Ifs. What if I gain weight? What if I lose weight? What if I move someplace cold again? What if get invited to a ball? But all those What Ifs were weighing me down. I made the best choices I could for my current state of life, and the reasonably foreseeable future. And the rest I got rid of. I have to trust that what I have will be enough. And more than enough.
It is SO NICE to be rid of FOUR garbage bags of clothing.
I think Betty is the next stop on the capsule wardrobe train. ‘Tweens are really hard to dress. So probably I’ll be blogging that at you too. Stay tuned.

And here’s why I think any of this matters at all:



  1. Deme Crinion

    This is so awesome! I did this last year and it felt SO GOOD to ditch all the excess. I sort of did it again since I'm back in maternity but it could use a better overhaul. Now seriously. Can we talk about the stained glass leggings?!?!? Amazing!!

    • Curt Dose

      Those stained glass pants look fantastic! They are colorful in a modern art sort of way, but create great interest when you see what they are. They became my favorite pants when I saw them on Kendra last week. Your fashion consultant, Grandad

  2. Elizabeth@SuperSwellTimes

    I do believe that I have that same purple dress.

    Plus, all this capsule wardrobe stuff is inspiring me to get rid of the stuff I only have because of those "what ifs." I'm still not going full capsule, because I legitimately have no idea what I'm going to need to be wearing a year from now — but stuff I own and never, ever wear can go live with someone else.

    Also, do you not like black? I love black.

    • Kendra

      I love that purple dress. I wish it were one inch longer, but it's okay.

      And no, I don't really like black. But I do have black. I put it all in the winter drawer. Come January I'm going to look like I'm in mourning.

  3. Anonymous

    I did this same thing about a year ago, and it was so freeing! It was great to look in my closet and know I loved every thing in there! The part I didn't do properly was buying enough new things. I went a little too minimalist and now my closet looks a little worn. 🙁 Your post was a good reminder to get it back in shape!

  4. Kate

    I already have a minimal wardrobe (I have actually started living my quite minimal life) and it really feels great. I live in a very simial climate as you (I think we have a bit longer and harsher winter, but stil mild) and I have only two capsules: long sleeves/short sleeves. I have a lot of interchangable clothes for pregnancy/nursing times and have only 2 paris of pregnancy pants. MY wardrobe is not colorful and mostly consists of black, blue, grey and white tones. I have tossed most of my clothes that I have accumulated over years which doesn't fit this cathegory. I also clean my closet on regular basis, but when I forst started my rule was to toss out everything I haven't wore in a years. Now, I always toss stuff I haven't worn in a year. That keeps me focused on having stuff I really care about and stuff I really do use. If I want to keep thing that have sentimental vale, I put it in a special box in the attic so it doesn't occupy my space. My small problem is that I have recently started working since my husband has been unemplyed for a long time and I had to buy a lots of work waer. However, my office is not very fomal so I focused on buying stuff that fits above mentiones rules so I could wear it even when I don't work. My style is rather formal and minimalist so this transition was not so hard 🙂

  5. Jenny

    Oooooh I really like this. And you look so relevant, classy, and like you have FUN getting dressed in the morning.

  6. Lizzie

    "What if I get invited to a ball"… lol

    Looking forward to you daughter's capsule. At pur house the kids have a few outfits each, but they aren't very interchangeable.

  7. Elise

    So impressed, Kendra! Especially love your paragraph about how this was an exercise in virtue. Beautiful.

  8. Mandi

    I have been wanting to do this for a while. I just can't seem to find the chunk of time necessary to take out all the clothes, try them on, and put them away. I know I"ll be stopped in the middle of it all and then just have a crazy stressful mess of clothing all over my room. Hopefully one of these upcoming weekends David will take Lucia out for a few hours and I'll be able to do it. I've been getting rid of clothes like a madwoman recently (probably 3 kitchen garbage bags worth in the past three months), so I don't think I'll have a ton to get rid of, but I would like to be able to put seasonally inappropriate things away and I make a list of items I need to supplement my wardrobe because I've gotten rid of so many things but haven't replaced them with more usable items. I don't have many exchangeable basics and way to many items that only work with one other thing in my closet.

    • Kendra

      It really helped me to have Crysta come over and do it with me. Otherwise I might have put it off forever.

    • Nicole Cox

      Haha…Mandi, I totally feel your pain because that WAS me! I put ALL my clothes on our bed in the morning but then had to do it all in spurts, because I have 2 under 2. Also, I wanted to wait till my hubby was home so he could help me sort and decide what would stay or go (he has a good eye for what suits me/doesn't). So there we were at like 8 PM, our bed COVERED in clothes, and the baby crying, while I hurriedly tried to decide what to encapsulate. HA! It was that or sleep on all the clothes. Anyway, good luck, it is definitely a feat! 🙂

  9. Amanda

    I was really worried your library sweater wasn't going to make it. Whew.

    I love your wardrobe. All you capsulers have got me thinking! Sometimes I make myself wear clothes I don't love because they take up space, but maybe I could just not have them. I keep doing what you mentioned, weeding that leaves so much still there. You always look great, looks like these are good choices.

  10. Meaghan Hoxsey

    I love this. I was going to wait until Advent to help me reflect on what the Christmas season is really all about, but I may need to jump on this sooner. Also, how do you like the high-waisted khaki skirt from Amazon.. I'm debating on getting it or not!

    • Kendra

      I really like it. It's a thick, stretch fabric, which isn't something I'd usually wear. But it's super comfy and I like how it hangs.

  11. Camilla

    Good job! You have wonderful taste, your wardrobe is so lovely and feminine and flexible, and it is such a freeing feeling, isn't it? I'm very impressed and hope you continue to work this through the rest of your family. I've told you before I'm a simplicity/minimalist/organista addict. I did all this years ago (before it had the cool name of "capsule wardrobe"), and now with 7 kiddos, have the basic wardrobe "down pat" with a "set" number of pieces for every member, and it has been so easy to manage, including seasonal hand-me-down sessions, and shopping trips for exact pieces. Laundry is always caught up. Now it's more of a "routine" than an "exactness," which gave me my starting point. I no longer need to count pieces. It just stays in control. It becomes a habit. For example, for my boys, the winter shirt count is five long-sleeve t-shirts nice enough to leave the house in, and two long-sleeve shirts with collars, and one nice sweater. Well, right now, one of the boys has six long-sleeved shirts, and one only has four. Um… so? Still works. It's the rule of simplicity that rules, but the "exact number" goals is what got me started on my way. Even my three little boys who share one closet (5, 6, 9) can keep their clothes in order (but I'm still their encourager every time we put away laundry to build the lifetime habit). Now, with a pending move from freezing Ohio to beachside, sunny Florida, I'm looking forward to even MORE simplicity! Here's to raising kids in $1 flip-flops and swimsuits only! Ha! Just kidding. God bless your efforts. I think you are doing a great thing, setting a great example for others, and teaching your children lifetime lessons.

  12. Conceiving Hope

    I recently did a huge purge in my closet as well (for a move that will involve shipping things overseas, so I was very motivated to keep things to a minimum). Big purges – and the sense of organization they bring with them – almost feel as good as confession – don't they?! 🙂

  13. Munchie Mommy

    What's fun to notice in capsule wardrobes is how people's favourite colours stand out. Yours has a lot of off-white, coral and navy. mine has a lot of purple and pastels.

  14. Amanda

    Love it! Everything about it!

    I'm mulling this over for myself too, I'll post about it if I end up taking the plunge. I would LOVE to see the before/after and outfit ideas if you do this for Betty! I was totally thinking that if I did this for myself I'd like to also do it for my 12 year old daughter. Her closet is also full of clothes she's outgrown, stuff a foster mom bought her but she never really liked, stuff I bought her but she never really liked (ahem) and stuff she likes but I don't let her wear 😉 I'd love to help walk her through the process of buying very intentionally and keeping a minimalist but fashionable wardrobe for whatever her season in life is.

  15. Jamie Gewand

    You did such a great job!! Your pieces are so colorful and fun – it's amazing to me when I go through all these links to see that everyone can showcase their different styles so well with only 30-40 pieces…I would have guessed there would be a lot of basics that you would see repeated more often! I'm hoping to link up soon…can't wait!!

  16. Lauren @ Here We Geaux

    Thanks so much for sharing! I have been seeing "capsule wardobe" all over the interwebs but no one seemed to explain it as clearly as you did. Great job and I look forward to seeing how the capsules treat you!

  17. Laura

    This is awesome. Such a personal/non-basic capsule, and you look great! Just as a side note, my favorite capsule wardrobe resource is Into-Mind. Do check it out!

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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