For the last eight years, I have taken an extended holiday to France for anywhere from 3-7 weeks at a time, and for all but one of those trips I only took a carry on bag. The one year I actually checked a bag was when I traveled in the dead of winter and needed a lot more cargo space to bring heavy coats, boots, gloves, scarves, and hats along with all the other items I usually pack. So I gave myself a pass that year, since keeping warm was important! And as it turned out, it was especially important that trip, as Paris saw one of its worst blizzards in years.
So needless to say, I’m pretty good at packing a “capsule wardrobe” when I plan for these trips. The key to only taking a carry on bag is that everything needs to follow a clear color scheme and all the items must mix and match well. For example, I usually take one or two cardigans, and all my other clothes else must look good when paired with those. Likewise, all my clothes need to look good when worn with the one coat I bring, or my footwear. It all must go together.
Now, that small of a wardrobe doesn’t have to mean boring. For me, it usually centers around navy, black, and gray. But for someone else, that might mean red, white, and orange! It’s up to you. But it is key that it all works together. That’s the whole point of a capsule.
While I’m great at this when I travel, I kinda suck at this in real life. I do wear black, navy, and gray about 90% of the time, but if I’m going to Palm Springs, I do want a floral caftan and my big impractical sunhat. So I already know that I am not the kind of person that can have a teeny tiny wardrobe. That being said, I don’t like owning a ton of stuff, clothing or otherwise, as possessing a lot of things makes me a little claustrophobic.
So for me, I am thinking of this part of the Wardrobe Architect as a way to think thoughtfully about what you own, how much you own, and how it all works together. I think it’s fine to have the random curveball item in the closet, and I want to reserve the right to make the occasional odd piece out, but the idea here is to recognize that those items should be far and few between, and that the “meat” of your wardrobe should work together as a unit.
In the original series post from Sarai at Colette, she said that the following concepts should be considered:
- Choose one to six silhouettes for the season.
- Create a color palette.
- Break down your silhouettes and colors into a list of pieces.
- Organize what to make, what to buy, and what you already own.
I look at this list as entirely doable, even though I think I’m already kinda failing on the concept of a “capsule collection”.
Okay, here we go: Choose one to six silhouettes for the season. First of all, I don’t think in seasons because I live in Los Angeles. We do have seasons, but they are really subtle compared to other places in the world. Light jackets are used in the evenings a large part of the year, and the daytime temperatures hover between 50–80 degrees most of the year. There are cooler days, and of course much much hotter days too. But the average is in the 60’s and 70’s year round. So personally, that part of the consideration is out for me. For you, possibly not.
So with that in mind, let’s look back at the ten pieces I chose for Week Four: Proportions and Silhouettes, then from here I will choose my one to six silhouettes. I originally picked the following items:
- Fit & Flare
- Elegant Sweatshirt
- Tee Shirt
- Full Skirt
- Boyfriend Jeans
Now I need to break down my silhouettes and colors into a list of pieces and items to form my key outfits. I’m going to select the following five items:
- Shift Dress
- Tee Shirt
- Full Skirt
- Boyfriend Jeans
For colors, in the next post we break down our organized palette into a “capsule palette”, so for the moment, I’m going to consider my organized palette until the next post where it gets even smaller.
Organizing what to make, what to buy, and what I already own is a whole additional process. I’ve been scoping out patterns and quietly planning things along the way. Here’s what I’m thinking so far, item by item. Much more will go into the "planning your pieces" post to come, but I've begun thinking about it.
What to Make:
I already own a ton of me-made shift dresses, and it’s my most worn silhouette by far. And though I already own a ton, I’m planning on making more. Mostly this is because as time goes by, I grow tired of the shifts I sewed a while back, and cute new fabrics keep coming out, begging me to sew them into shifts. I plan to maintain my current list of favorite shift patterns: the Pearl Shift Dress from Green Bee Patterns; my new Lottie Dress pattern; and Colette Patterns' Laurel Dress, all pictured below.
I own a handful of favorite cardigans, from elegant slim cashmere sweaters, to a favorite chunky vintage wool cardigan. I have made one Driftless Cardigan, pictured below, and fully plan to make many many more.
I am slowly in the process of replacing all the tees in my closet to yummy Grainline Lark Tees. I’ve made quite a few, and now it’s just a matter of donating the old shirts in my wardrobe that were never as perfect. There are a lot of tee patterns on the market, and I’ve tried most of them, but for me the Lark is perfect. I will never design a basic tee pattern now that this one exists.
I haven’t found a pattern yet that I am ready to call "the one", and I think that’s because it’s not a complicated item to make in its most basic form with a gathered skirt and fitted waistband. I’m still searching for patterns that fit this bill, or others that are similar. I do love my Anya Skirt, but I’d like more options so I’m still researching this one to make.
I am not a flared jeans or skinny jeans kinda gal, so I was starting to think that this was going to have to stay on the "to buy" list. But then I found the Bootstrap Fashion boyfriend jeans through Marrie’s blog, and then Heather launched her Morgan jeans. So I went from not being able to find a pattern to having two options! Awesome! I can buy great denim here in LA, since so many high end denim brands are based here, but since I’ve never made jeans before, I bought the kit from Heather to work with what she considers an "ideal" denim for the silhouette. This is on my post-vacation list of things to make. Not gonna lie, I'm kinda nervous about the fitting part of this process!
Is that like creating my “desert island” list of garments and colors? Sorta feels like it. Like, if you had to pick only a few items to wear for the rest of your life, what would they be? If I think about my list that way, I could do it. Because there is much mix and matching that could happen.
What to Buy:
To me the main pieces I have no intention of making ever are shoes and bags. You could toss in most other accessories into that group too, like jewelry too. So under the "what to buy" I would say is most of my accessories. I also like the undies I wear. Sorry if that's TMI, but I can't make them as seamless and smooth as the ones I buy. I am into making bras, but not my undies.
What to Keep:
This is a process I will admit that I haven't started as of yet. Between launching Lottie and everything else going on, I haven't dedicated the time it will take to literally empty my bedroom and sort through it. But the day is coming. Probably post-vacation, but still, it is coming!
How are you all doing with this? Still with me? Burnt out yet? Have you abandoned ship? Believe it or not, we are nearing the end. And I don’t know about any of you, but I for one have seriously learned a lot about what I like to wear and what makes me feel good. This process directly contributed to my newest pattern, the Lottie Dress & Shirt.
We will meet up here in two weeks to work our organized color palette into a capsule palette. From there, we plan out our pieces (more so than we just did), add in accessories, and then discuss overcoming editing hurdles! Homestretch people!
The Wardrobe Architect Series:
2016 Wardrobe Architect Project
Wardrobe Architect Week One: Making Style More Personal
Wardrobe Architect Week Two: Defining a Core Style
Wardrobe Architect Week Three: Exploring Shapes
Wardrobe Architect Week Four: Proportions and Silhouettes
Wardrobe Architect Week Five: Your Color Story
Wardrobe Architect Week Six: Organizing Your Palette
Wardrobe Architect Week Seven: Exploring Solids & Prints
Wardrobe Architect Week Eight: Hair, Makeup, & Beauty
Wardrobe Architect Week Nine: The Capsule Wardrobe
Wardrobe Architect Week Ten: The Capsule Palette
Wardrobe Architect Week Eleven: Planning Your Pieces
Wardrobe Architect Week Twelve: Adding Accessories
Wardrobe Architect Week Thirteen: Overcoming Editing Hurdles