Cotton Stem Capsule Wardrobe FAQ’s – Part One

Hey buddies! πŸ™‹πŸ»  So, I’m getting quite a few questions regarding this whole capsule wardrobe dealio, and I thought I’d answer them all in one place and hopefully provide some insight from my own years of being a capsule gal.  Most of the “how the heck do I even do this?” and the “what is a capsule wardrobe anyway?” questions are answered on the Cotton Stem Capsule Wardrobe Series posts, so I’ll link them here and you can start from the beginning if you’re just tuning in to our capsule adventure!

[STEP ONE]  –  [STEP TWO]  –  [STEP THREE]  –  [STEP FOUR]  –  [STEP FIVE]

And now for some capsule FAQ’s!

How many items should be in my capsule?
This is probably the most frequently asked question of all!  Okay, so if you followed along with the Un-Fancy capsule wardrobe planner in step #2 of my series, you’ll maybe have seen that Caroline suggests 37 items, including tops, bottoms, outerwear and shoes.  I think that’s a great starting point if you are doing one of the four seasons at a time.  (For reference, I started combining Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter, thus my capsules are around 50 items, including shoes, outerwear, tops, bottoms, bags.)  

Now I’ll tell you, one of my biggest mistakes when I first started doing capsules was getting hung up on THE NUMBER.  πŸ˜³  It became more about competing with myself than being thoughtful on what my lifestyle required of a capsule wardrobe, so I very much encourage you to be fluid with your number as you begin.  You might find that 37 is WAY more than you need, or, if you’re like me and combine seasonal capsules, you might realize you need just a bit more to make it through six months of the year.  Just be patient and give yourself grace…it’s not about a certain number or “the rules”….it’s about a lifestyle change for the better!  

I’m new to this, and I don’t even know what my style IS, let alone how to select minimal pieces that represent it.  How do I even determine my style category?
Great question.  When we are faced with the challenge of narrowing our closet down to a few select items, it can be a little intimidating if we are uncertain on our personal style to begin with.  Honestly, I’d recommend working the steps of this capsule process [LINKED ABOVE].  If you work your way through the capsule worksheets in step number two, examine your “love it” pile items and pay attention to why you love them as you try them on in step three, and then really study your Pinterest pins and what draws you to those looks….I think your personal style will start to surface.  You’ve probably already got a style…it’s just hiding underneath a mountain of impulse buys, it’s-trendy-so-I-guess-I-should-buy-it purchases, and clothes you just can’t let go of because they might be stylish again someday.  Once you clear away the clutter and the noise, what’s leftover is usually your personal style; it was there all along just waiting for you to rescue it!  πŸ˜‰  If you’re overwhelmed with the idea of naming or declaring or labeling your personal style (I’m classic!  Boho! Biz casual! Hipster!), don’t put that pressure on yourself to fit into just one category.  Who cares what it’s called or what label it fits?!?  It’s YOUR style!  Name it after YOU!  πŸ™ŒπŸ»  Work through the capsule steps, and I’d be willing to bet that by the end, you’ll have figured out what your personal style looks like and what pieces you might need to add to finish out your capsule.  Give it a whirl and take off the pressure to label what you love!  
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Can I use what I already own, or do I have to buy all new?
First of all, you don’t HAVE TO do anything. You make your own rules, because, as Beyonce tells us, who run the world?  Girls. πŸ’πŸ»πŸ’ͺ🏻 So.  Make your own rules.  πŸ’ƒπŸΌπŸ™ŒπŸ»πŸ˜‰  However!  The purpose of a capsule is to curate a coordinating wardrobe full of quality pieces that you love. The end goal is to wear them season after repeating season so that you DON’T have to constantly buy more and more.  The idea is that if you really think through your purchases, you’ll hopefully love them for awhile, thus negating the need to shop for all new all the time.  Now, after the base wardrobe has been pulled together from what you already own, it’s totally reasonable and expected that you’ll need to shop for a few new pieces each season to either replace old and worn out items that have seen better days, and/or, you know what, sometimes it’s fun to spice it up with a new item or two.  Don’t feel guilty for shopping!  We’re just going to shop in a different way.  πŸ™ŒπŸ»  

Should I wait to capsule until I’ve reached my goal weight?
Again, this is totally your call, but, after being alllllllllll the sizes over the past six years of baby bearing/losing the baby weight, I can tell you what I did that worked for me.  I certainly didn’t toss all of my pre-baby clothes, and yet I didn’t want to go out and buy all new ones just to fit me for a short period of time while I worked to get back to my goal weight-ish.  πŸ˜‰  I gathered pieces for this In-Between Capsule from what I already owned, bought just a few staple pieces to get me through that season (pair of jeans, couple basic tops I could layer with an open sweater from my previous smaller size, etc.) with the goal being that I would have worked my butt off to lose the weight by the start of the next capsule season.  Then, I could go back to choosing from my pre-baby clothes, give or take.  

Honestly, it really depends on how committed we are to losing that weight.  If it’s going to take awhile, be honest with yourself and go ahead and create an In-Between Capsule in the interim like I did.  I knew it would take a lot longer to lose the weight with this fourth baby with three other littles at home, so I just gave myself and my wardrobe some grace.  Remember that show “What Not To Wear”?  While I didn’t love a lot of the concept behind it, I did love their advice on weight: dress the body you have now.  If I’d waited till I lost the baby weight for Baby Number Four, I would have passed by on five seasonal capsules…. 😳😬  So, I dressed the body I had then and kept in-between-size purchases to a minimum.  Now that I’ve worked frickin’ hard to shed that weight for the fourth time in six years πŸ˜©πŸ˜‚, I can donate the in-between-sizes purchases and go back to selecting from the clothes I had saved off to the side.  I hope this makes sense…this is just WHAT WORKED FOR ME. πŸ–πŸΌ  Not giving advice about weight loss plans or casting judgement in any way….just sharing my experience in hopes it maybe gives you some ideas on how to deal with in-between times while capsuling! πŸ™ŒπŸ»

What should I do with off-season clothes?
This really depends on your storage situation in your home.  My bestie uses under-the-bed containers for her off-season capsules, and I’ve designated a section of my closet that I smoosh mine into until it’s time to pull them out when that season comes back around.  This is really up to you, but I’d be sure to think about storing sweaters and knits wisely so as to avoid moth holes and saggy, stretched out hanger-shoulders as we call them.  πŸ˜‰

What about the extras (bras, underwear, pajamas, gym clothes)?  Do these count toward the total number included in the capsule?  Isn’t it going against the spirit of the limited capsule to NOT include these items…?
So this really depends on your preference, but I can tell you what I do: I don’t include these items in my capsule.  Want to know why?  Laundry.  If I limited the number of underwear to just a few, I’d have to FOR REALS stay on top of laundry for my family of six 😳, and….that just ain’t a reality right now.  πŸ˜‚  My pajamas, workout clothes, softies, Mommin’ clothes all sort of cross boundary lines, so I don’t really include those, either.  You certainly can if you are super serious about streamlining, however for me, it just got too hard to go about my lifestyle with only two gym/sleep/lounge shirts in a capsule at a time, you know?  I couldn’t do laundry fast enough to keep up, but I also didn’t want to turn my ENTIRE capsule into a t-shirt and panty-fest just to avoid “breaking the rules”….so I just relaxed on those categories.  Now, I do keep a minimal number of softies, sleepwear, etc., but to me, the capsule is really about what you want to wear when you want to “get dressed,” so that’s where my focus goes when curating items.  You do you, though!  No rules, Beyonce’s of Blogland! πŸ™ŒπŸ»πŸ’ƒπŸΌ

(…PS…want a hint on the next capsule series coming next…softies/Mommin’ looks!  
I’ve heard the requests, and it is coming your way! πŸ™ŒπŸ»πŸŽ‰)

I’ll be back to answer more of your capsule-y questions soon, so if you think of something, leave it in the comments section below!  And be sure to follow along on Instagram and also on Pinterest for more outfit inspo and behind the scenes of creating my Cotton Stem Capsule Wardrobe!

SOURCES:

  1. Melinda

    April 4th, 2017 at 1:58 am

    I’ve really enjoyed this whole series. You write in a very relatable way. I love your "make your own rules" approach to things!

  2. Erin | Cotton Stem

    April 4th, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Thank you for reading along, Melinda! And yeah, I don’t follow strict rules with much of anything…ha! πŸ˜‰ I like to make up my own!!

  3. T Stone

    April 4th, 2017 at 3:12 am

    You are full of awesome inspiration and I’ve truly enjoyed following you. I love your sense of humor and your wonderful advice. Thank you so much!

  4. Erin | Cotton Stem

    April 4th, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Oh man, this is so kind! I appreciate you taking a sec to read and leave an encouraging word!

  5. Jennifer

    April 4th, 2017 at 3:33 am

    I love this idea and want to consolidate my wardrobe into more practical and preferred items. I live in a place where there are definitely four seasons, however spring can feel like summer one day and winter the next. What are you suggestions for keeping seasonal capsule wardrobes for the in-between-season days? Do you have pieces that overlap and count towards multiple seasons or strictly keep seasons separate? Thanks so much for your inspiration and guidance!

  6. Erin | Cotton Stem

    April 4th, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    That’s such a good one! I like to carry over like a denim jacket and a couple sweaters for spring/summer on those just-in-case weather days, you know?

  7. Casie

    April 4th, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Thank you!! My closet is still very much a work in progress but even the initial "clean out" was very freeing! Love this idea. Thanks for your posts. πŸ™‚

  8. Erin | Cotton Stem

    April 4th, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Oh good! I’m so thankful you’re reading along and that the series has been helpful, Casie!

  9. Sarah

    April 4th, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    I love your advice! I’m a mom of 3 girls and spend most of my life in yoga clothes running around, but might attempt a capsule wardrobe just because you make it seem easy. You’re one of my favs on IG! You are funny, relatable, and seem so down to earth. Thanks for filling my feed with happy, positive, and helpful pictures and advice!

  10. Erin | Cotton Stem

    April 4th, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    This means so much–thank you, Sarah!!

  11. Kristina

    April 4th, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    SO looking forward to the upcoming mommin’ capsule!

  12. Erin | Cotton Stem

    April 4th, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    Woo hoo!! I’m more of an expert in that category than "real" clothes at this point…ha!! πŸ˜‰

  13. Alisa Yates

    July 26th, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Found a longtime bra at Target, but didn’t LOVE it. Did you buy the Gillian O’Malley brand?

  14. Alisa Yates

    July 26th, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    *longline. Ha!!

  15. Erin | Cotton Stem

    July 26th, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    Oh no! Yes, I wear the Giligan and O’Malley brand all the time.

  16. Wanda Stoddart

    September 26th, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Erin,
    Even though my stay-at-home days are long gone-my 3 boys are all adults now—(I’m probably around the age of your mom-or maybe older) I can relate on other levels to your lifestyle and especially the ‘freeing’ feeling of weeding out your wardrobe and keeping only those things you actually love and actually wear. I go through my closet once every 4-6 weeks and can always find something that I haven’t worn or realize I don’t really like. I have been an impulse buyer–not to keep up with the current style—but because something strikes me as really pretty and I think will look good on me (I work a full time office job) Just want to say–I enjoy your ‘IG stories’ so much—you are hilarious–you crack me up and you’re so down-to-earth. I could imagine sitting down with you for a chat with a cup of ‘joe’ or tea.
    I would venture to guess one of your love languages is ‘words of affirmation.’ Am I right? Anyway—keep up the good mom work and sharing with us – as so many of us can relate.

  17. Erin | Cotton Stem

    September 29th, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    I sure appreciate this note, probably more than you know!!!

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