How to Build an Intentional Capsule Wardrobe
Fashion has always felt like a foreign language to me. I am not a fashionista, and it has taken me years to feel confident in my own personal style. Becoming a Noonday Ambassador helped me build this confidence as I realized a goal I had been slowly working towards for several years: to develop a capsule work wardrobe. For me, the missing piece of dressing with fewer articles of clothing had been a collection of accessories to maximize my wardrobe.
For the first seven years of my career, I wore a daily uniform. Every morning I would put on either standard Air Force polyester blues with black patent shoes, or the camouflage “BDU” (Battle Dress Uniform) with combat boots. Neither option felt particularly feminine or flattering, but there was a freedom in not having to make decisions about what to wear on work days. After separating from the military, I haphazardly tried to piece together a work wardrobe. This developed into a habit of frequent online shopping, ordering random pieces every time my favorite brand had a sale. Over time, I ended up with a closet packed with clothes, but on work mornings I would still struggle to find anything to wear! There was a constant nagging desire for more, despite the abundant evidence that I owned more than enough. I desired contentment and confidence in my style, but I lacked both.
When I initially learned about capsule wardrobes a few years ago, the idea was immediately appealing to me. Capsule dressing is all about bringing intention into our choices as consumers. I was already questioning the ethics of the fast fashion industry, and my own consumerism was weighing heavy on my heart. I also longed for the simplicity my daily uniform had given me in the past.
Initially, I tried to follow recommendations from minimalists, such as guidelines to own only 30 or so pieces of clothing, with prescribed numbers of different types of items. My commitment would last a few weeks before I would get bored with my options. It became clear to me what the problem was: I am not truly a minimalist at heart! Perhaps, I actually do enjoy fashion a little bit! Since then, I have been on a mission to slowly convert to a capsule concept that is less about owning a finite number of pieces and more about culling my overflowing closet into an intentional collection of pieces that mix and match together and are appropriate for the season. Every three months, I devote some time to changing out my seasonal capsule. Here are the steps that have worked for me.
Three Simple Steps for Capsule Dressing
1) Start by shopping your own closet.
Following the inspiration of tidying-up expert Marie Kondo, I pull all of my clothing out of the closet and storage boxes and build a mountain of clothes on the bed. Picking up each piece and deciding if it “sparks joy” is a tangible way to take inventory and get started. I discover that some of my basic pieces of clothing might bring me joy because of the way they fit, such as my favorite black pencil skirt, or my favorite pair of jeans. These items are the keepers and the foundation of my capsule. I repeat this process every season, just ahead of the changing seasons. Three boxes stored at the top of my closet hold out-of-season items until the following year. This fall my capsule was built on a selection of basics including the favored black skirt and jeans, several pairs of business casual pants, and a couple of dresses in solid colors. A few shells and cardigans in various colors rounded out my staples, and then I pulled in some print tops in fall colors.
2) Identify the gaps in your wardrobe and go shopping!
After deciding what to keep, look for gaps in the remaining items, and make a wish list and budget. Do you have all tops and no bottoms? Do you have only warm weather attire but nothing for colder weather? This fall I realized that many of my favorite sweaters were well worn and needed replacing. My wish list for new items also included a new dress and a new pair of work jeans (thankfully, denim is acceptable at my office). First, I look for items on my wish list locally. Living in a small town, it is important to me to support our community’s locally owned businesses. I easily found a new dress at one of my favorite boutiques. For the remainder of the items on my list, I again turned to online shopping, but with a focus on retailers committed to fair trade, organic fibers, or both. The list of retailers who are committed to these values continues to grow, and sure enough I was able to find every remaining item on my wish list. This fall I have especially enjoyed organic cotton pieces from Fair Indigo and sweaters from Everlane.
3) Identify fashion trends to incorporate in the capsule (and have some fun).
The key to making a capsule wardrobe a success is to use accessories to vary your look. This is where my role as a Noonday Ambassador has been a true game changer for me: with the launch of every new collection, I purchase new samples for my customers to touch, feel, and try on at Trunk Shows. When I am not hosting a show, I am wearing these samples! Noonday’s collaborative Design Team follows fashion trends for us, and they are always on point! For example, animal prints are everywhere this fall. Although I would have never adopted the animal print trend on my own, I love wearing my Wilderness Earrings with my Wild and Free Cuff. In fact, I loved the look so much that I added new leopard print shoes into my capsule (these are from Rothy’s)!
Another trend I am trying is wearing white into the fall months. Growing up in the South, I was taught the rule to never wear white after Labor Day. However, this fall has felt like an extension of summer, with temperatures topping eighty degrees, so why not keep my favorite white jeans in my fall capsule? I am enjoying pairing white with the neutral desert hues seen throughout Noonday’s Fall 2019 Collection. My short sleeve olive green tunic from Fair Indigo pairs well with the Sonnet Necklace and Halcyon Hoops, but when the temperatures drop, a camel sweater pairs beautifully with the Tassel Builder Earrings and the Inspire Necklace in light blue. I can also pair either of these looks with timeless black pants. As a bonus, leopard print shoes work with these color combinations as well!
In an effort to have samples for my business that reflect the diversity of our Artisan Partners, I often purchase jewelry I would not have chosen otherwise. Every time I have tried something outside of my comfort zone, I have been rewarded with newfound confidence that the beauty of the piece brings. My best example of this is the Wellspring Necklace. I usually shy away from things that draw attention, but this necklace is made of the most amazing deep oasis blue color. It is the perfect way to dress up a simple black dress. As soon as I tried it on, I knew I could not go wrong with this look; the vibrant color and soft cotton strings spark joy every time I wear it!
Bonus Tip: Forego the Formula!
My capsule wardrobe approach might not follow a specified formula of “x” number of pants/tops/dresses/jackets. For me, the point is not to limit what I own for the sake of minimalism but instead to be intentional in what I decide to fill my life with. I can once again open my closest and pick out something work appropriate without a thought (especially convenient on those mornings when I need to leave before finishing my first cup of coffee). Over time, my wardrobe has shifted from being filled with fast fashion items that don’t last through a season to fair trade items that hold up well and that can be rotated in and out over time. The reward for the effort has been a feeling of contentment in what I own and confidence when I walk out the door.
Meet Jessica Ange
Apart from being an Ambassador, Jessica is also a full-time family physician, as well as a mother, wife, and caregiver. She joined Noonday as an Ambassador last year when she was looking for a creative outlet with a purpose. She found the perfect fit, wouldn’t you say? She’s also an avid outdoorswoman who recently rock climbed in Joshua Tree!