Capsule Wardrobe Week 3: Levels of Formality (Have the Perfect Outfit for Every Occasion)

Welcome to Week 3 in my capsule wardrobe series. In my introduction, I convinced you that a capsule is a way of life and not a ten-day challenge. In Week 1, I wrote about choosing neutrals for your capsule and sticking to them strictly. Week 2 was all about planning your capsule like you’re planning for a trip. This week, I’m going to let you in on the secret to my never feeling stressed about finding something to wear yet always having the perfect outfit.

I was an awkward kid and my mom hated shopping so I grew up never feeling like I had the right clothes in any situation. This definitely carries over to adulthood, as it’s really important to me to feel like I’m dressed appropriately. I used to shop so much to make sure my closet was stocked for every possibility and still found myself panicking at the mall the day before basically anything that wasn’t school or work.

Since committing to sew most of my clothes, I’ve realized this is not a sustainable strategy. We can’t sew zillions of unique outfits to fit all of the occasions in our lives. Nor can we wait until a few days before needing to wear something before we start making it. This is why I developed my “Levels of Formality” system.

I start planning my wardrobes pretty far in advance and definitely do not know all of the possible outings and activities I might be participating in over a six month period. What I’ve done is categorized all of the things I do into five Levels based on how formally I’m dressed and planned one outfit in each Level for the season. This way, I have a base of five outfits that have me prepared for literally any situation and I’m never stuck wracking my brain to come up with the perfect thing to wear.

I’ve outlined below how my levels work for me. You might have more or less levels of formality depending on your style and work. I’ve given examples of patterns I’ve made or have been on my radar to make.

Level 1: Chic Loungewear

Occasions: Lounging at home, greeting delivery people at the door, luxurious hotel stays, Skype dates on the weekend

Outfits: leggings, loose-fitting tops, slouchy cardigans, robes and wraps, cosy wool sock, slippers

Patterns: Ogden Cami, Briar Tee, Adventure Tank, Blackwood Cardigan, Linden Sweatshirt, Suki Robe, Avery Leggings, Hudson Pants

Level 2: Casual Outing

Occasions: running errands, play dates, picnics, neighbourhood walks, casual hangouts at a friend’s house, Casual Fridays

Outfits: jeans and knit tops with sneakers, easy knit dresses and flats

Patterns: Dawn Jeans, Ginger Jeans, Mandy Boat Tee, Knit Kalle Crop, Nikko Top or Dress, Knit River Dress, Pony Dress, Archer Button Up

Level 3: “Nice” outfits

Occasions: Every day at work, dinner with friends, family get-togethers

Outfits: Nice jeans or slacks, collared shirts, tunics and boots, blouses

Patterns: Sasha Trousers, Kalle Tunic or Dress, Mélilot Shirt, Woven River Top, Alder Shirtdress

Level 4: Extra “nice” outfits

Occasions: Important work meetings, parent-teacher interviews, meeting with clients, baby or wedding showers, date nights

Outfits: knee length dresses with heels or flats, slacks and blazers

Patterns: Woven River Dress, Orchid Dress, Fulton Sweater Blazer, Jasika Blazer

Level 5: Formal outfits

Occasions: weddings, graduations, galas, anything with a formal invitation

Outfits: Knee-length (or longer) dresses or jumpsuit and heels with a clutch

Patterns: Spring Sling, Halter River Dress Hack, Calvin Dress, Kielo Wrap Dress, Sirocco Jumpsuit, Kew Dress, Patsy Party Dress

4 thoughts on “Capsule Wardrobe Week 3: Levels of Formality (Have the Perfect Outfit for Every Occasion)

  1. […] If you’ve started looking at my Canadian Capsule Planner, you’ve already had a sneak peek at this wardrobe. When I created my planner, I used this wardrobe as my exemplar. I thought some of you out there might want a peek at what this actually looks like. You’ll notice that I’ve rolled Levels 3 and 4 (Nice and Extra Nice) into one group this time around. In September, I make an extra effort to look nice and professional and “Extra Nice” is not saved for special events, but every day. Don’t worry, things get way more cas for me in October. You can review of my Levels of Formality here. […]

  2. Sam! Thank you soooo much! I have spend days of my life trying to define a capsule wardrobe and to put discipline into my sewing. Your strategy makes perfect sense while allowing for plenty of creativity. I already feel calmer yet inspired. Sincerely, Lisa

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