My approach to seasonal capsule wardrobes has evolved a bit since my first experiments in this area last winter. I'm still very inspired by the idea of switching up my wardrobe each season, and organizing each capsule around a characteristic seasonal palette or "color story." I'm less interested in having hard-and-fast rules about how many or which items I'm "allowed" to wear at any given time.
So here is what I did to organize my wardrobe for fall. I pulled together a stack of items that seem quintessentially "fall" to me. Here's a better view of what's in that first photo above:
My idea is basically to wear the heck out of these items between now and Thanksgiving, mixing them both with each other and with a variety of closet basics that I tend to wear across several seasons. (This post should give you an idea of what I mean by "closet basics," although it's not really an exhaustive view.)
I spent a bit of time recently playing around with various combinations of these items. I was inspired in part by this post on Bridgette Raes' blog showing the mix-and-match potential of items owned by one of her clients. Bridgette is a professional wardrobe stylist and clearly knows her stuff, and her posts have a warm and upbeat tone -- all of which makes hers is one of my favorite style blogs on the Internet (and is probably why I keep referring to her as Bridgette, as if we were on a first-name basis!). I like that instead of pushing particular trends or items to buy, her posts tend to be much more analytical. I find that even when the outfits she shows are not my style or appropriate for my casual, work-from-home lifestyle, I can often glean the underlying principles that she's illustrating and then apply them to items in my own closet.
So, I sort of took apart Bridgette's post and then tried to apply what she was doing to my own collection of items. I haven't replicated her template exactly, but I think I've captured the spirit of her post. Settle in, this is a long one, with lots of photos!
1. First, Bridgette tackles an item that seems like it should be a staple but has been deceptively hard for her client to style. She's working with a pair of subtly patterned navy pants, and I'm using my bottle-green cardigan.
Here I've paired the cardigan with my black skirt leggings and a teal layering sweater. I can wear this outfit with black ballet flats early in the season, or black ankle boots later on when it's colder.
In her post, Bridgette also uses a particular scarf repeatedly and shows how it pulls together a lot of different outfits. My goes-with-everything scarf is a large square scarf with a print of ducks on a pale-pink background. Here's a better view:
I love this scarf and wear it often in fall. It was an impulse purchase at Goodwill about three years ago, believe it or not. It is not my usual fare -- I thought it was
It's also interesting to consider with regard to color. A common piece of advice is to build a seasonal color palette around the colors in a printed scarf, but in fact I don't wear the colors in this scarf much at all. I do love this pale pink, but have very little of it in my wardrobe. And the particular blues and greens in the scarf aren't exactly the ones in the rest of my clothing. Nevertheless, I think it works because the pink makes a nice contrast to colors like teal or bottle-green, and the blues and greens end up being "close enough." (In the outfit photo above, for example, you can see that the teal layering sweater really pulls out the medium blue bits of the scarf. But they are really not the same shade.)
Second outfit: same cardigan, with mid-wash skinny jeans, a gray layering sweater, smaller floral scarf with green border, and green flats.
Same jeans and cardigan, this time with a gray-and-white striped popover blouse, gray boots, and the duck-print scarf.
Same jeans, cardigan, and boots, this time with a black watch plaid shirt and and a floral scarf with an orange background. (On a really rainy day I would wear this with Wellies and perhaps swap out the jeans for dark-wash skinnies.)
Finally, the same combination of cardigan and black watch plaid shirt, this time with my black merino knit pencil skirt and black ankle boots.
2. Next in Bridgette's post is a cobalt-blue pencil skirt. My version of a brightly colored bottom that turns out to be surprisingly versatile is a pair of mustard cords.
First, I've paired them with the gray-and-white striped shirt and gray boots that you've seen above, and my ivory Aran cardi. You didn't think I'd leave out my Aran sweater, did you? Perish the thought!
Same cords, with the black watch plaid shirt from above, long navy argyle cardi, and Wellies. I realize that is a lot of color, but I think it would be rather cheerful on a dreary gray day.
Now the cords are paired with a black-and-navy plaid tunic, long charcoal gray cardi, gray boots, and the duck scarf makes an appearance once more.
Same mustard cords and gray boots, this time with the gray layering sweater you've seen before, and a fair isle cardigan (mostly blue, but it has a bit of yellow in it). Cozy!
3. Finally, Bridgette styles a pair of gray pants to make the point that basics can be worn in non-basic ways. I'm going to depart from her formula here and show a mix of items because I wanted to feature at least one outfit including each of the items in my "capsule."
Here's a similar formula that will more often be weather appropriate: the same top with dark-wash skinny jeans, my long charcoal-gray cardi, and tan clogs.
Here's that black merino knit skirt again, with a Liberty-print popover blouse, emerald green cardi, and green flats. Of course I could just as easily swap out the skirt for my dark-wash skinny jeans if I need to keep my legs a bit warmer.
Medium-wash skinny jeans, teal layering sweater, long charcoal-gray cardi, black ballet flats: all basics that I've used in various combinations in earlier outfits in this series -- here completed with a teal paisley scarf.
And finally, the emerald-green cardi and black ankle boots, with my beloved animal-print shift dress.
So that's 14 outfits from 30 items, pretty similar to Bridgette's 15 outfits from 31 items. Also, about half of the items that I've used here were obtained secondhand -- just to continue beating my "a secondhand wardrobe doesn't have to be a hot mess" drum.
Of course, these outfits don't exhaust all the mix-and match possibilities of these items. And I have a few other things not pictured here that I'll likely make good use of (a camel cable-knit cardi, for example, and a few burgundy things that help outfits feel fall-ish.) But it gives a flavor of my wardrobe this season.
I think this sort of exercise is a great alternative means to accomplish some of the same goals as a capsule wardrobe more narrowly defined. I'm surprised how many combinations I've discovered that I wouldn't have thought of before sitting down and rather methodically pairing up different items in my closet. And I'm excited to wear these outfits this fall and make use of what I already have -- rather than going shopping.
I'm sharing this post on Anne's "pin to present" linkup on In Residence. You can find the post that was the original inspiration for this one, and several other posts from Bridgette's blog, on my How to Wear It pinboard.