STEP 1 – Purge + Pile
STEP 2 – Nerd Alert List Time
STEP 3 – Fashion Show
STEP 4 – How Pinteresting
STEP 5 – Pull It Together, Girl!

We are over halfway done creating our capsule wardrobes together, buddies!! In case you are just now jumping in on the capsule journey with us, the first step of the series is [HERE], and step two is [HERE]…both super easy, so it’s not too late to join up with us or go at your own pace!

Okay ladies (and gents…maybe…?), it’s time to get our inner Gisele on and STRIKE A POSE!  It’s fashion show time!  Bust out the mirror, pour yourself a glass of something yummy, turn on your best cat walk jams, and let’s have some fun with step three!

Alright.  We’ve purged our closets, we’ve sorted items into piles, we’ve filled out the easy capsule wardrobe planner, and now we are ready to get our hands on our final contenders for the spring capsule wardrobe!

This step is pretty vital for a couple of reasons.  First, if you’re like me, you might have changed sizes a few times over the course of the last few years for whatever reason (pregnancy, weight gain, nursing, weight loss, etc).  Sometimes a new season rolls back around, but we might not even remember what fits us anymore!  That’s why it’s pretty helpful to do a little mini fashion show and check in on what still fits.  (Note: we are not dressing for the size we HOPE to be someday…maybe…once I hit the gym…and give up desserts for life…maybe…😬😂).  We are capsuling for the body we have now, but, if things might change soon, store a few goodies so you won’t be naked if something does.  This will declutter your closet during the transition, plus you’ll be able to zone in on what fits NOW.

Now listen here.  I know it isn’t always the MOST FUN THING EVER to try and squish back into the jeans of yesteryear, trust me.  Four babies plus nursing for about seven years straight has morphed my body into all kinds of shapes and, um, textures (?) that baffle to this day, BUT!  If we don’t try it on, how will we know?  No one needs to actually SEE us slithering and scrunching around on the bathroom floor tryin’ to zip the dang jeans–but in order to narrow down what you still need for your capsule, ya gotsta at least try.  😉  I’m right there with you, writhing on the floor, stuck in those pleather leggings I bought before baby, hoping against hope they can still contain the squish.
(Update: they can’t.
Out you go, traitorous pleather pants, you.
Shoulda known, ya can’t trust a fake.  😉)

The fashion show step is the perfect time to tackle your “lovelovelove it” and your “kinda like it, maybe” piles of clothes you created during The Great Purge.  Especially the later.  For me, this pile is usually made up of items on the fringe, maybe too trendy these days, maybe an impulse buy, maybe something I’ve held onto for a bit too long hoping it would be back “in” someday.  If you couldn’t decide on an item during the purge, try it on now and make the final call.  If it stays, hang it up by season/product type.

A few things I try to be aware of during step #3:
-How many items are making the cut?  Am I being too lenient?  Am I getting excited and cutting too many, leaving me a naked, capsule-less cray?
-Am I being honest with myself as I look in the mirror?  Do me, myself and I love and feel comfortable in this item, but maybe so and so will look at me sideways since it isn’t TOTES IN, GIRL.  💁🏻🙄  WHO CARES!  You do you, lady.  You are beautiful because your style reflects YOU…don’t make capsule decisions based solely on what others might think, what is trendy, what looks good on the gals on Pinterest.  You do YOU.  Because you are amazeballs. 🙌🏻

I’ll warn you…starting a capsule can be a bit of a self-discovery lesson, and it was pretty hard for me to face head on a few of the behaviors and subtly negative self-talk I was cycling through without really noticing.  Choosing to drastically narrow down your wardrobe, your style, the way you outwardly express the inward vision of who you are…it makes ya think.

Can I be honest with you?  My struggles centered around shopping when I was bored/sad/anxious, I cared too much about staying ahead of this or that trend so I could be the one who found it first 🙄, and I held on to things embarrassingly long, just hoping to justify my unnecessary purchase by waiting for that style to come back around.  😳😬  It never did, and I was left with a closet of poor choices, a closet that defined what OTHERS might think of me rather than what ERIN thought of me, a closet that didn’t define ME so much as it defined society’s pressure on women to keep up, to look a certain way, to spend spend spend…without ever taking a breath to figure out WHAT DO WE EVEN LIKE!!

Starting my fist capsule was embarrassing.
It was hard.
It was emotional.
It was cathartic.
It was therapeutic.
It was liberating.

Friend, this is the step where it all starts to click: why we spend the way we do, what our motives for buying this or that were, how we think of ourselves when we look in the mirror and when we pull out the wallet.  I encourage you to accept this little moment of self-discovery, learn from it, and make whatever changes you see that need to be made.
You are BEAUTIFUL because YOU ARE YOU.
And, if you’ll let it, step number three can alter this facet of your life
for a good long while…for the better.

Now that the fashion show is over, save aside the clothes from all seasons that made the cut, and we’ll zero in on the final steps in the Cotton Stem Capsule series…stay tuned!  I’d love to hear from you–does any of this resonate with you?  I shared some personal struggles regarding my capsule experience–did any of those relate?  Let’s chat in the comments section below 👇🏻, and come say hi on Instagram and Pinterest, too! 🙋🏻


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  1. Kaitlyn | freshandvintageliving says:

    Love this series! Now I need to go digging in the closet and start!

  2. Kirsten Doherty says:

    I found that I too shop when I am bored/sad/whatever. A lot of times I feel like it’s over my appearance or me not feeling "skinny" enough (I have a broad, very muscular athletic build) and I buy stuff that is very flowy and ultimately makes me look/feel bigger.

    ANOTHER very interesting thing that I’ve noticed is that I used to be all florals, bows, girl girly girly. I feel like this was to disguise my athletic build and more "alpha" female personality. I found that I threw ALL of that stuff out. I had slowly started naturally moving toward a more "sporty" or "edgy" wardrobe over the past few seasons (I had bought converse and started wearing more plain style t’s and tanks, more military structured jackets, hokey jeans). This style fits me SO much more than the girly romantic style I was trying to force myself into before. I feel so much more myself and therefore so much more comfortable in my own skin! I’ve loved this so much!

    • Kirsten Doherty says:

      Hole-y jeans* not hokey 😂

      • Erin Kern says:

        You know what, I can actually totally relate. The more I’ve learned about myself, the more I have accepted that I like simple, monochromatic, not very many prints, neutrals. I used to try to NOT like that stuff, bc it was too "boring" or whatever, but now I know what I love and what makes me feel beautiful! So much better! Thank you for sharing here, Kirsten!

  3. Shari Borba says:

    So I haven’t started a capsule wardrobe YET but the past few years my hubby and I have realllllyyy narrowed down the purchases we make so that if we don’t LOVE it, it doesn’t cut it! So in my purges in between I’ve semi gotten to a capsule wardrobe (plus more choices)…. and thennnn I got pregnant (2014) & (hallelujah) inherited a bunch of maternity clothes… lost most of the weight… and then got pregnant again (due in June 🙌🏻)… needless to say, though I am SUPER grateful for this mom bod and for the gracious maternity clothes donations… it takes a number on your self esteem and adds a little bit of a do-I-get-rid-of-it-all or keep-it-all catch 22 for that next year/s of body changing/morphing…. Anywayyyy… novel post 😬😬😬 I guess I’m just trying to share the struggle to never know when it’s the "right" time to start that capsule wardrobe while still being super budget conscious.. for now it means loads of clothes in boxes marked prepregnancy and a glimmer of hope that some might fit after this child makes her debut 😂👌🏻
    Thank you for sharing! Love this series so so much.

    • Erin Kern says:

      Oh man, I feel like I could have written this paragraph, too! I totally relate: the changing sizes, the "do I keep it or not?" during pregnancy, all of it! I’ll tell you that now after our last child, it was a lot easier to FOR REALS do the capsule thing, because, for the most part, I know my shape and size…instead of it changing on me constantly! Ha! Congrats on your little one, Shari!

  4. Kathryn says:

    Since I became older, flabbier, and grandmotherly, I realize the ripped skinny jeans and snug Tee ‘s are pretty…ahem…unflattering. So I purged it all. Yup…all of it. And went shopping. I took time to REALLY study my bod in the mirror (gasp…when did all them blasted wrinkles attach themselves to me!) and scrutinized how the clothes looked on.my.bod….not how I wished they looked. I found my style and it’s not too frumpy, thank goodness. Thanks for the encouragement and the education. Carry on, young thing!

    • Erin Kern says:

      Ha ha, seriously!! Who do those wrinkles think they are?!? 😂 And I totally relate to this experience you described. Isn’t it funny how much we learn about ourselves when we clear out the noise of what we "should" like or look like? Liberating in an odd way. Thank you for the feedback, Kathryn!

  5. Kayla Edgeller says:

    I have been so excited for you to post this series!! I’m purging tomorrow! Thank you so much for sharing this. I have been wanting to do this for a year or two, but had no clue it was actually a "thing." I just love following you & love your style. I can’t wait to see the pictures from your capsule photo shoot, as we have very similar styles.

  6. Julie Jamison says:

    Enjoying this series a lot. When you start he process it’s so amazing to me what a crazy relationship I was having with my clothes and the reason I would buy some of the things I do. And like you I totally would buy in the midst of feeling down or sad or whatever. But I have been working on the whole minimalist mind set and I am loving the capsule idea so I’m taking the steps along with you. Thank you for sharing the journey 😁🙌🏻

    • Erin Kern says:

      This makes me so happy to read! I totally get what you are saying, and I’m glad you’re along for the journey, Julie!

  7. Erin says:

    In really loving doing this. I felt at first very disappointed in how much stuff I accumulated. I wanted to be the girl that never wore anything twice. And that is a ridiculous goal/thought process. I also work at a boutique and easily just think well I get a discount soooooo I should get this. My mindset has completely changed. Im really excited about this transformation and so glad I found you on IG!

    • Erin Kern says:

      Oh yay!! And yep…I was that girl, too. Like, the fun would be gone from a look I’d put together after I’d worn it a few times, so…on to the next. Sad, really. 😕 But you know what? We live and learn, and I’m so glad you’re along for the journey, fellow Erin!

  8. I have enjoyed this very very much!! I really have learned alot about myself and "lack" there of style! I tended to buy clearance or resale a ton just to "feel" like I had this huge selection to choose from while stretching a buck to do so.

    In all honesty most was worn maybe once and really did not go with many items in my closet. I did emotional shop and it shows greatly. I would much rather spend my hard earned cash on items I truly LOVE and will keep forever that can pair with almost anything in my closet.

    Sure, I may spend a little more upfront, but I know it will take the daily stress out of what to wear (which normally a few tears get shed from😂). Im still in my purge stage….this has been way harder than I ever thought. When you are working with a tight budget like I have it is hard to get rid of stuff. But as I try it on I am reminded "why" I never wear it and start seeing how it doesn’t it the theme of the "keep" pile that is starting to form. It kinda makes you stand back and say, "What in the heck was I on that day to lead me to buy this…lol".

    I feel I have gotten lost in who I really am style-wise. This has helped me not be implusive and truly think out a purchase and be super excited about it. My hubby was suprised how long it takes for me to think through a purchase vs. the norm of the "throw & go" into the shopping cart that I usually do.

    Like I said I am on a tight budget and almost did not do this at all. Ive looked on Pintrest, Magazines, Instagtam, ect for things I would love to add into my wardrobe. Now I have been price matching similar things, as well as quality matching. This has helped me deciede what I may want to spend a tad more money on and where I may be able to stretch a dollar at. I would like my peices to make it around to the next tine I pull that capsule out and enjoy them again.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us. Your tips and step by step guidence is worth more than you will ever know. I feel I have always hid behind my clothes to an extent. I felt so good the other day when I left in an outfit, and that dosen’t happen too often.

    Thanks again sister….you more than rock!!! #capsulesforlife #ownit #youdoyou

    • Erin Kern says:

      This made me smile to read–thank you for sharing a bit of your own experience with me! I’ve felt all of these feelings you described. It means so much to read this–thank you, Camille!

  9. Charma Kern says:

    I’m a little slow coming to the party but this is fascinating! I’m a new "stay at homer" and continually look like a shlump-a-dump. Love the concept and will be full steam ahead. Btw, we share the Kern name:)

    • Erin Kern says:

      Hey hey, Kerns unite! 🙌🏻 And yes, the stay-home wardrobe can get pretty schlumpy, that’s for sure. Kinda thinking about doing a second capsule for Momiforms…? Maybe?

      • Kristina S. says:

        I would literally die over a Momiform Capsule Blog – I know you would make it inspiring when the stay at home mama wardrobe can sometimes seem shapeless and boring.

  10. Claire Miedel says:

    Ah! So good to know I’m not alone in the post baby wanting my old clothes to fit me still phase. Hello 3 babies in 3.5 years 😂 I’m also a horder, I have clothes I bought years ago that I still haven’t worn but won’t get rid of cause I keep thinking ‘someday’. Thank you for all these posts to help figure what stays and what is ok to let go of!

  11. Tina says:

    Hey Erin! Love following you and have enjoyed the journey of the capsule. I am 50 and have 3 grown children. Simply bc we were always on a budget this capsule thing is what I always did with me and my children but didn’t know it had a name. Ha! It’s simpler more affordable and just makes sense. Totally can relate!

  12. Rubi says:

    Hi Erin,

    I’ve been an instagram follower for some time now and this capsule thing is awesome. I’m a new mom (4 months postpartum) and like you mentioned "my body has changed" I’ve started to put my own spring capsule together with your guidance and I have you to thank for introducing me to this cool yet simple idea that less is more.


  13. Lisette O says:

    I absolutely loved this blog, it went beyond the capsule because you talked about women shopping to satisfy society’s standards of what we should buy and how we should look. I haven’t started creating my capsule, I was simply reading your blogs about to get more info, however, you’ve motivated me to do so😬 Thank you!

  14. Belynda says:

    I’ve kinda started this by purging every season but I still hold onto those things that you know I paid a lot of money and one day I might wear it! Time to start this capsule thing! I took early retirement 6 years ago and now have no need for professional attire and I love painting (rent a little space in town) so since retirement I’ve discovered my style and go to pieces, so this might not be too hard! I loved readin about it! Thanks for the inspiration! 😁

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Oh yay, so glad to hear this! I do the same with a handful of pricey/meaningful purchases, like the dress I wore in my sister’s wedding, etc. I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all to hold on to some pieces!

  15. Jenna says:

    Erin thanks so much! This post was helpful. I’m an impulse buyer. For several reasons – Boredem, loneliness, insecurities, and the desire to have the newest thing. I find something that looks great on someone else and think I can’t live without it. If she has it then I need it too. The amount of money I have spent on items that simply hang in my closet or have only seen the light of day on me once or twice is sad. I have too much stuff. I’m a stay at home mom – why do I have so many clothes that a working mom would own? I hate laundry, I get super stressed with all the "stuff" and clutter, why can’t I just be happy with less? I think I will be in the end. I just need to learn to stop shopping. I have done it with my kids clothes – why can’t I do it for myself? I have 7 kids. I have been a size 6 to 4 seasons of maternity clothes and everything in between. It’s time to let it all go. Start fresh. I just think it’s the guilt of all the money I have spent and feeling wasteful that is slowing me down.

  16. Deb says:

    Erin, love the idea. But I was just wondering how many items would you say you have in one seasons capsule?

  17. Zoe Brown says:

    Ok, so starting out. After step 3 and you’ve tried things and all. What happens if it isn’t cohesive? Should you get rid of things that work fine to build the style you are wanting?

  18. Jess says:

    I haven’t started this process yet. I’ve been on. fence for quite sometime and then I found you on social media and totally dig your style! You mentioned a wardrobe capsule and I thought 🧐 what’s that? I started talking to my husband about it and he grew intrigued. We’re buying a house and I’d like to purge and start “fresh”. I started reading this series and this post totally resonated with me! 🙋🏽‍♀️ I’m that mommy that’s hanging on to clothes I might fit into again. I’m that girl that has a “good style reputation” she wants to live up to but instead has no clue how she got there. I’m that impulsive buyer, the one that wants to feel like certain events require a new outfit. Ugh! This post might’ve the push I’ve needed to get off the fence and just do this! Heck, I might even convince my hubby to do it too! We shop for fun! 🤦🏽‍♀️ It’s true! Anywho, I’m writing too much. I say all this because I’m convinced I want to start this but one problem I’m facing is I just had my baby in January and the “baby weight” isn’t completely off. Any tips on that?

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      I created little “in-between” capsules using some maternity or larger sized items mixed with my regular clothes that started to fit just to sort of get through that in-between season!

  19. Erin Pierce says:

    I must say… last couple paragraphs really hit home and resonate with me. It’s ridiculous what we have to help ourselves (& each other) overcome even as adults. So thank you !!!

    Also, since I live in Florida and we really don’t have seasons. So I end up wearing the same wardrobe all year… just adding a couple long sleeves and a couple jeans in the winter. Any suggestions? Thanks !!

  20. I know this post is old, but Erin I complete resonate with everything you said. I buy stuff because I see others buying it and have a wardrobe of clothes that are never worn. Also, I’m a fellow shop when you are anxious/emotional. It’s a real problem. Thank you for sharing your story!!

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