Closet Chronicals

Capsule-esque Closet: Definitions & Purchase List for September

In my quest for shopping mildly, wisely, and consciously, I decided to think about what a capsule wardrobe meant to me, and how I intend to pursue it.

Defining my philosophy:

  1. The basics:  My idea of a capsule wardrobe is likely different than the classic notion of having only a few items to rotate. That seems like quite a challenge, but a challenge isn’t something I am looking for when I get ready for work in the morning. To me, a capsule wardrobe is the basics, or  the core of your clothing choices, and the items you keep going back to because they are easy to style, comfortable to wear, and just makes you feel good when you wear them.
  2. A Desire for Simplicity & Reducing Decision Making in the AM: Another important aspect, for me, has been to minimize the time I spend struggling to match clothes to other clothes, and to reduce the energy I spend making clothing related decisions. For example: Does the olive green pants I have work appropriate? Do they work with a black shirt? Which shoes should I wear with these pants since they have a zipper in the back? Egh. I don’t seem to enjoy this process, and spending this much time thinking about green pants might actually make me late for work, which is not acceptable in my book.  So, I decided to Steve Jobs this. I’ve picked black, grey, white, and beige as the basic colors I will build my wardrobe around. This will make it easier for me to match my clothing, and allow me to throw in pops of color whenever I feel like, even if the color I choose to wear is neon green.
  3. Money and Planning: Keeping a budget and a desired amount of items to be bought in a year means I have mindful about my shopping habits and wants. One issue I found in the past was the desire to maxmize the budget to include as many clothing items as possible. Sales and cheaper pieces really drew me in, and I could see my clothing options growing, but I ended up hating most of what I bought. I now try to avoid thinking about buying something because it is on sale. Rather, a sale is now a fortuitous event.

To organize my thought process and ensure I meet each month’s budget I decided to create, what else, a spreadsheet in which I keep track of upcoming purchase ideas and wish lists. This approach also allows me to build my wardrobe more thoughtfully, because I keep thinking about months ahead and when it would be best to buy each item.

I created a spreadsheet table for each month with images, links, and pricing information. This helps me keep track of what I want to purchase, whether I'm staying within my budget, and track pricing.
I created a spreadsheet table for each month with images, links, and pricing information. This helps me keep track of what I want to purchase, whether I’m staying within my budget, and track pricing.

My Initial September Purchase List

My budget for this month is $300, and my goal is to buy up to five new pieces. Since I am going back to work (Hooray to being a teacher!), I need to add items that would allow me to mix and match what I already have.

This is my list for September:

  1. I love and need cardigans in my life. I’ve bought a few $10 H&M cardigans in the past, and these do not hold up well for more than a season with regular use. In an effort to systematically replenish my cardigan supply, I am currently looking for a slightly upgraded version of this basic staple, but since I am working with a budget I’d like to find one that would be cost effective. This month I deiced to go with a Uniqlo extra fine merino v neck cardigan in the color off-white. It costs $39.90 before shipping.
This is the sweater I have in mind. Looks fitted and comfy,
This is the sweater I have in mind. Looks fitted and comfy.

2. I wanted to add more jackets to my wardrobe so that I can use my nicer white t-shirts during the school year as well. This TopShop ‘Nicola’ V-Neck Peplum jacket looks polished, feminine, and I have a really weak spot for peplum. It costs $95, and shipping is free.

I imagine styling it pretty much the way it's shown here.
I imagine styling it pretty much the way it’s shown here.

Alternatively, Uniqlo seems to also be coming out with some retro looking jackets made out of tweed and wool. I may have to reconsider the peplum jacket, or keep these as a backup option in case I try the jacket on but don’t like it as much.  You can preview this collection here. It  will cost $129.90 before shipping.

I don't think I'll be purchasing the beret, but I do like how the jacket fits on the model.
I don’t think I’ll be purchasing the beret, but I do like how the jacket fits on the model. I’m not sure I can pull off the belted look, but I can see how the jacket would elevate a simple white t-shirt outfit into something more office appropriate.

3. Staying in the cardigan/sweater department, I do want to invest in one that would be warmer, made out of cashmere, and could double as an early morning jacket as we transition to our normal Michigan-cool temperatures. I’ve also always wanted a ballerina sweater/cardigan, so this DKNY long sleeve cozy one seems super appealing. This one is expensive, and would essentially eat up most of my budget, since it costs $195 before shipping.

I think I would have to wear a top underneath this sweater, and I like how you can style it as a cardigan as well.
I think I would have to wear a top underneath this sweater, and I like how you can style it as a cardigan as well.

A more cost effective and blog-recommended warm cardigan is the Barefoot Dreams®
Drape Front Cardigan, but it isn’t made of cashmere or wool. The composition is 80% nylon, 20% rayon from bamboo, but reviews have mentioned that it is super cozy and soft. It costs $92 and ships for free.

Nordstrom seems to style this cardigan mainly as a robe, which does not inspire confident in my ability to wear it to school.
Nordstrom seems to style this cardigan mainly as a robe, which does not inspire confident in my ability to wear it to school.

4. Finally, adding another simple white shirt to my collection always seems like a good idea. Eileen Fisher has this white  Scoop Neck Tee, which happily enough comes in Petite sizing. It costs $58.

To dress this 3/4 shirt up, I would either add my Hermés scarf or a jacket.
To dress this 3/4 shirt up, I would either add my Hermés scarf or a jacket.

A  pricier and more adventurous option would be this Bailey 44 Trevi Ruched Sleeveless Top. I do worry about how it would look with a cardigan on, but I absolutely love that it was made in the U.S.! It costs $128, and ships for free.

I would style it the same, with the only exception of wearing flats.
I would style it the same, with the only exception of wearing flats.

Another even more expensive option would be this Cuyana silk long sleeve blouse. It’s likely more fall appropriate than the Bailey 44 top, is also made in the U.S., but I worry about it being see-though. It costs $165 before shipping and sadly does not currently come in my size.

I love how streamlined this silk blouse looks, and absolutely love even more that it's made in the U.S.! Cuyana seems to restock it's shirts regularly, so if you can't find your size I recommend adding your email to their waitlist.
I love how streamlined this silk blouse looks, and absolutely love even more that it’s made in the U.S.! Cuyana seems to restock it’s shirts regularly, so if you can’t find your size I recommend adding your email to their waitlist.

This is my starting point for September, and I’ve tried to find alternatives to almost all of the pieces on my list. My clothing purchase success rate (i.e., the amount of clothes I order vs. the amount I end up liking and keeping) is quite low, so having options lined up will hopefully help me make decisions more easily.

What do you think about these pieces? Do you own either one of them and have some thoughts to share? What’s on your purchase list? 

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