Welcome to Week 2 of my tips for planning a capsule wardrobe without needing to fill out a hundred-page workbook. Last week, I wrote about choosing your neutrals and committing to them. This week, I’m divulging my easy strategy for populating my closet with coordinating garments that I’m actually going to wear.
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know how much I love preparing for a trip. I’m a pretty well-traveled person and love organizing so I get a special thrill out of a well-packed suitcase. For a good, long time, I’ve started planning my capsules by making a wish list packing list for the next trip I’m taking.
The trip you are taking does not need to be a two-week intercontinental vacation (´cause NO ONE is doing that for a while) but basically any occasion when you’re leaving home over night. I plan my capsules as six-month wardrobes so I always have at least one trip in the summer (usually camping or visiting family) and one in the winter (Christmas at the in-laws) to think about. I’ve planned entire fall wardrobes inspired by the thanksgiving weekend. Sounds nuts, but is totally fun.
There are many reasons I do this. These trips aren’t hypothetical or aspirational. You know that you aren’t going to need to wear three ball gowns so there is zero point in actually making three fancy occasion outfits. I find that the trips I take are pretty good snapshot of the activities I often do. Winter holiday capsules always include a lot of loungewear, some activewear and a couple of festive outfits. Summer capsules mostly comprise of stylish basics that hold up in the heat but still look nice enough for sight seeing.
Planning for a trip also reminds you that you sometimes need things like a new bathing suit or pyjamas that people are actually going to see you in. I’ve really upped my loungewear game since being married because I don’t necessarily want to wear gross, holey sweats at my in-laws, but I am definitely not going to wear “nice” clothes to hang out with my niece and nephew or play board games with my sister- and brothers-in-law. It feels good to have comfy clothes I’m not ashamed to have my picture taken in.
I also like approaching my capsules as a vacation wardrobe because I know I have space limitations. It’s really easy to get carried away and think that you need 20 new items for a season, but when you’re packing your suitcase, you typically pack just enough for as long as your away because you know you can’t fit a month’s-worth of clothes in your carry-on. Making a packing list is a great exercise to decide what your favourite and most practical clothes are. If you don’t think you’d take a garment with you on vacation, do you really need it at all?
Packing for a trip also forces us to think about full outfits that match and separates that coordinate. Even if I’m going somewhere for more than a week, I only pack myself seven days-worth of clothes, but I pick items that I can mix and match easily (This is where picking your neutrals comes in really handy). In the summer, for example, I pack one sweater or jacket and make very certain it goes with every single outfit I’m bringing. My colour palettes are pretty restrained but make me feel like I’m bringing an entire wardrobe with me on a weekend getaway. I like the feeling that I can dress for many situations with just a handful of garments in a duffel bag.
One of my favourite ways to get going on a capsule is to start by planning for a weekend, which allows me to put together a really small base for my capsule that I can slowly add onto over the season. It feels so much more manageable to start by making one “nice” outfit for a family dinner and a pair of pants and two tops for hanging out than panicking that you need to make six-months’ worth of clothes. We usually head to my in-laws for Thanksgiving weekend and then for nearly a week over Christmas. This gives me time between October and December to flesh out that weekend wardrobe into a wardrobe to work for a whole week. So what if I wear the same “nice” outfit for Thanksgiving dinner as Christmas dinner? 🤷♀️
So, how is this playing out this spring? Let me tell you! Our vacation this summer is a two-week camping road trip around Ontario to see family. I’m only going to focus on having one week of clothes for everyone (which means seven outfits for me but like 20 for the kids 😂 😟). On our camping trip, I know we’re going to be hiking, swimming, hanging around the campfire and occasionally visiting a museum or attraction. I figure I need:
- One bathing suit, cover up flip flops and sun hat
- Two pairs of presentable pyjamas for walking to and from comfort stations and easy to slip on shoes
- Two hiking outfits with good shoes and a hat
- One “nice outfit” to wear to a museum but could also be worn around the campsite including a decent shoe
- Four easy outfits I can wear around the campsite in hot weather but still feel like I look nice in. Probably shorts and tank tops.
- One warm-ish sweater/jacket for cool evenings
- One rain outfit including coat, pants and boots
I need to make sure that everything works together, so I’m sticking with white and grey as my neutrals and pastels or muted colours as the accent colours. I know that I’ve got a lot in my wardrobe already so I’ll do an inventory of what I’ve got so I can figure out what I need to get or make:
- One neutral sun hat
- Blush pink ball cap
- Grey flip flops
- White Birkenstock’s
- Rain boots
- To get: new hiking shoes in grey or pastel
- Grey and pastel striped tank
- Grey striped knit kalle
- To make: grey ribbed tank
- To make: pastel tank
- To make: pastel athletic tank
- To make: grey athletic tank
- Light denim shorts
- Dark denim shorts
- To make: white chinos
- To make: chambray chinos
- To make: light hiking leggings
- Bathing suit
- Cover up
- Light pyjamas
- Casual dress
- Rain pants
- Jean jacket
- To make: lightweight rain coat
I basically have eight garments to make between now and July, which isn’t that much considering it’s only March and most of them are basic knits. Stayed tuned for next week when I write about my Levels of Formality system which ensures I have the right outfit for every occasion.