What the H*** Am I Going to Wear?

Every Tuesday we’ll be posting articles about productivity, simplifying your lifestyle and conquering clutter. This week we start with the closet and the question "what the hell am I going to wear?"

I’ve asked myself that question too many times to count over the years as I stare at the sea of clothing jammed, yes jammed, into my closet. I know, deep down in the logical core of my brain that I have many items of clothing but it’s like I can’t see the trees for the forest. It’s just a blur of stuff. Nothing stands out and I get frustrated.

And then I discovered the capsule wardrobe.

The concept is simple – you create a wardrobe for a season, 3 months, and limit the items to 33 items including shoes, jackets and purses but not including undergarments and accessories. Your wardrobe items are selected with the weather for the 3 months in mind and any events you know you’ll be going to. My July-August-September capsule wardrobe will have to work for my daily lifestyle as well as 2 summer road trips.

The idea of having a seasonal wardrobe isn’t a new one. I remember my mother putting all of the winter clothes away and bringing out the spring clothing from storage. I know the idea of a small selection of coordinating type items isn’t a new one either, I’ve read many productivity and decluttering type books that tackle the subject. Yet, somehow, I find myself staring into the closet in frustration over and over.

Wrap Dress
My Capsule Wardrobe for July, August, September

  1. Jeans #1 – my current favourite light wash Levi’s 525
  2. Jeans #2 – Levi’s Bold Curve ID skinny jean in a really dark wash
  3. Jeans #3 – Levi’s 518 Boot Cut – in a medium dark wash (you might note – I live in my Levi’s)
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  4. Khaki capris – I’ve had these for years, the legs roll up and button just below the knee or if left unrolled they hit a couple of inches above the ankle.
  5. Red & white print cropped pant – sort of a tweed, these pants look like a deep coral colour from across the room. Skimming just above the ankle they’re cute with sandals, flipflops, flats or keds. Can be dressed up or down depending on your top and accessories. Picked these up at The Limited Outlet store.
  6. White & black geo print wrap dress – The Gemma wrap dress from Banana Republic is about as easy as it gets. A soft almost t-shirt material this can be dressed up with some accessories, heels and a jacket or wrap or can be super casual with flip flops and sun glasses.
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  7. Purple wrap dress – Another Gemma wrap dress from Banana Republic in a solid vibrant purple. The wrap dresses are easy to roll up and pack into your weekend bag.
  8. Taupe & black maxi skirt – lightweight and comfy in a tshirt like material this skirt pairs well with tshirts, tank tops, and light summer sweaters. Found at Winners a couple of years ago.
  9. Demin skirt – I think this skirt is nearly as old as I am but it’s one of my favourite pieces – just above knee length it works with everything from tank tops to blouses.
  10. Oversized white cotton man’s style shirt – From J Crew this crisp white top looks great over jeans, skirts, capris and shorts. A colourful summer scarf or bold necklace and tote. Love this shirt.
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  11. Navy peplum sleeveless top – From The Limited Outlet this works well with jeans, capris, skirts and can be casual with a scarf & sandals or a little more “night on the town” with a string of faux pearls and heels.
  12. Cream batwing top with black stripes – Found this at Target a few years ago and it works well with pants, skirts and jeans.
  13. Deep coral blouse – perfect work top this can be paired with dark jeans, skirts, or capris for office or an evening out.
  14. Brown sandals – I found these at DSW last year and fell in love. A 2 inch kitten heel and some coloured leather flowers they look great with jeans, capris, skirts, and dresses. In fact I loved them so much I bought them in rose as well so cute I bought these in rose as well
  15. Rose sandals – love these
  16. Flip Flops – brown with brown leather straps from Crocs
  17. Chuck Taylors – classic red low cut
  18. Chuck Taylors – azure blue low cut
  19. Brown Wedge Sandals – Chunky brown wedge sandals from Hush Puppy – I found these at Winners at least 6 years ago and they’re still my summer go-to heel.
  20. Tshirts – I have 8 that I wear regularly – 4 are solid colours (black, grey, white, navy) and 4 are graphic tshirts that I’ve picked up over the years.
  21. Multicolour Tote – My favourite tote in purple, magenta, brown and blue from Fossil. It holds everything you need. Ipad, flip flops, sweater, water bottle and still has room for more.
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  22. Crossbody bag – My every day purse – black crossbody bag from Fossil.
  23. Accessories – I’m not a huge accessories gal but I do have 2 scarves from The Limited in shades of coral and shades of blue that I wear regularly and a couple of chunky necklaces in corals, greens and blues.

I think if you add up all of the above I’ve hit 33 items including shoes, bags and accessories. I haven’t included workout wear, undergarments or pajamas. While 33 items doesn’t sound like a lot I’ve managed to include clothes for work meetings, nights out, summer walks on the beach and casual weekends on the patio with friends. Everything on my list is easy to pack, which is important for this capsule as I have a trip to New England and another to Nova Scotia coming up during this 3 month period.

Keep in mind that the above is my personal wardrobe capsule that reflects my lifestyle and my schedule for the next 3 months. Your capsule should reflect your lifestyle, your schedule and of course your individual taste. You should start with a thorough inventory of what you already own before heading out to make any additions to your wardrobe.

More ideas & hints for simplifying and uncluttering your wardrobe:
Project 333 which has great tips to get you started.
Drew Barrymore’s piece on why she’s put her closet on a diet
A creative director explains why she wears the same thing to work every day

Merlene Paynter

Merlene Paynter is a freelance writer and content consultant. When she's not working as the Managing Editor at Her City Lifestyle she's mixing up cocktails over at Madtini.com , designing websites, writing, and selling yarn at her new online yarn shop KnitCreek.com and drinking too much coffee.

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