I’m keeping it simple for spring…

Lately I’ve been craving simplicity, in my routines and especially in my wardrobe. Here’s a simple classic casual capsule wardrobe idea for spring…

What I’m leaning into isn’t full-on 90’s minimalism, but it’s not straight-up classic either. It’s casual and comfortable, but with a bit of structure, and relies on simple styles with interesting details. I’m sticking mostly to neutrals, though I often like adding one colorful piece. But most prints feel either too insipid or too shouty at the moment.

Here are a few things that caught my eye recently, and a couple that came home with me. 😉

Fresh finds for your spring wardrobe

I love the sleek, modern look of that chunky freshwater pearl bracelet.

Hangin’ with “the ladies…”

J.Crew calls this a “sweater lady jacket,” because of the shape, I suppose. It’s 100% cotton, a bit heavier and more structured than the Jackie cardigan. The color is a true neutral red, which means it can work in every seasonal palette! (It’s also available in black and a navy/ivory stripe.)

Available in sizes XX-Small to 3X. I’m 5’1″, wearing the size Small. It hits me just below the waist, so if you’re taller it will be more cropped. It can also be worn buttoned up as a top. (I love the gold buttons on this one, takes the whole thing up a notch.)

Underneath, I’m wearing this cashmere tee. I really like this piece, especially for layering under jackets or cardigans. It’s offered in Misses, Petite and Plus sizes. I’m wearing the Petite Small.

Here’s another one with “lady” in the name: this is the Cropped Lady Trench Coat. If a standard trench is just too much coat for you, this one’s worth a look. The website recommended I size down to a 4, but I like the fit of the 6 better (which I’m wearing here).

It’s a sharp looking little jacket, and is fully lined. I really like the slightly swing shape which feels very Modern Gamine. Though it’s cropped, the length hits me a couple of inches below the waist. The sleeves are a little long; if I decide to keep it I’ll probably see about having them shortened.

Refined casual picks

Underneath, I’m wearing this elbow-sleeve top from Talbot’s.

Talbot's elbow sleeve top in Lilac.

This lightweight sweater top is a more polished alternative to a tee, but can be styled the same way. It’s offered in a few colors in Misses, Petite, Plus and Plus Petite sizes. (Sleeves are a little shorter than pictured here, but still cover most of the upper arms.)

Ballet flats are back, and one of spring’s hottest footwear trends. But, if your feet are like mine, a completely flat shoe just isn’t comfortable. So I’m intrigued by the hidden wedge heel on these. This style is made in Italy and available in several colors. And it’s well-reviewed. (I’m eyeing these pointed-toe flats too…)

Last year I started playing with a more relaxed jeans fit than my standby slim-straight leg. Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for a wide leg pair that’s not too cropped, not too flared, and not super high in the rise. I saw these on display when I visited our local J.Crew and really liked the shape, wash, and fabric weight. They didn’t have my size, so I’ve ordered a couple of sizes to try and will report back.

These jeans are offered in Classic sizes 23-37, as well as Petite and Tall lengths.

Let me know if you enjoy these capsule wardrobe ideas, and if so I’ll make it a regular feature.

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  1. Hi Susan—What do you suggest a winter to do with the red lady jacket that has gold buttons? This stops me from making a purchase because I only wear silver/white gold jewelry. Change the buttons??
    Also, do you still plan on writing a post on metallic footwear?

    1. Hi Rose, yes, you could replace the buttons. Here’s another thing to try: silver nail polish. Apply a couple of coats over the gold buttons. (I’ve done this on a couple of denim jackets to change the buttons from silver to gold.)

      And yes, I’m collecting examples of metallic footwear; look for that post next week!

    2. I own several of the J. Crew lady jackets and have swapped out the gold buttons for pewter. I sometimes use a colored nail polish and swipe off the top so that a jacket-coordinating color shows in the base, with the pewter on top. If you are looking at the particular red jacket that Susan featured, I don’t think that will work for a winter regardless of the buttons because it is an orangey red, not a true red or blue red.

      1. Hi Mary it does match the true red drape in my set, but you’re correct that it’s not a blue-based red.

  2. Hi Susan
    yes I like these from time to time to pick up on trends… especially since I/we so rarely are in store to get a feel for what is fresh etc. Just here I have picked up on ballet flats, cardis, wide leg pants for example. Yes I do rely on you and a few other trusted stalwart bloggers to interpret for me so thank you very much.

    1. Hi Susan! Love this post so much. I recently restocked my wardrobe due to postpartum body needs and the new offerings from Gap have been great. I especially like their girlfriend jeans – comfortable and a nice change from slim jeans, but nicely proportioned for this fuller bummed petite.

  3. I hardly ever dress simple although part of me loves that. I am more like the last example tou gave: white jacket, striped shirt, wide jeans.

  4. YES! I do like the capsule wardrobe ideas! It helps me ‘think’ if I have any holes I can fill in my wardrobe. I’m always confused when the vendor shows 3 inch heels with wide legged jeans…I am going to ‘try’ these, also and see if they are keepers for all of 5’3 me! I’m on the lookout for a ‘lightweight’ pair of jeans in a newer silhouette, as well…My closet edit for spring has left a decent selection of skinny, straight and boot cut jeans, but not WIDE…perhaps these will be a keeper? TBD.

  5. hi Susan,

    I love these picks!

    I spent the weekend in full spring cleaning mode. as I’m unpacking lighter clothes, I have an issue I’m hoping you will opine on.

    for various reasons that are too long to get into, I don’t like my underarms to show. one of them has a lump that is noticeable and significant, but I cant have removed because I’m a caregiverand I cant do a stretch where I can’t lift the person I give care to.

    I feel silly wearing t shirts under sleeveless tops but more silly not wearing them.

    ideas and suggestions?

    1. I too like to keep my upper arms covered to my elbow & I have loved buying pima cotton tees from Chico’s off the rack. Just go to their website and type elbow sleeve. They are solid colors & a variety of them. Being pima cotton, they don’t pill much at all like a cheaper tee.

  6. Hi Susan,

    The capsule features are much appreciated. It helps me to coordinate several different looks without breaking the bank.

  7. love the capsules because they are perfect for travel. a quick question. Do you think the raw hem look on jeans is here to stay for a bit?

    1. Hi Allene, yes, I’m still seeing a lot of raw-hem styles in new collections, so I don’t think they’re going anywhere very soon.

  8. I don’t understand the reference to 90s minimalism (?), but totally agree with you that “most prints feel either too insipid or too shouty at the moment.” Tiny florals, smocking, cropped tops, puffed sleeves, and the worst, ruffles, leave me reaching for a handful of older items currently in my closet, Which is fine, I have plenty of clothing! I do like the range of accessories you feature in your blog, esp the shoes!

  9. Susan, I do enjoy your capsule wardrobes… please keep them coming.
    Recently, because we were too early for our BC ferry reservation, we had some time to spare.We headed to a nearby mall…I haven’t been in one for many years due to moving to retirement location on Vancouver Island. Did I have fun, heading straight into Banana Republic sales ! Once done , my husband eventually found me.
    Due to an uptick of activities, and lighter eating prior to our recent Caribbean holiday, I was fitting almost everything… and I went away with 3 springlike pullovers and 3 pants. Felt so good to zoom in on what works for me, as a light autumn. Your guidance over the past few years that I have followed you has been so useful keeping me on track , Susan.

  10. I love your capsule wardrobe posts and hope to see them continue as a regular feature of your lovely site. There is always something new, fresh, and inspiring in each post that I can use to update my casual wardrobe. The prints that are trending now are much too loud for my minimalist taste, so I appreciate your classic pieces with modern flair that are always coordinated well with the various options in the capsules.

  11. Hello, and thank you for the always-valuable tips!

    On the topic of jeans, would a very, very pale, light blue denim work for Winters? Or, are we resigned to only wearing true, deep navies forever?!!

    Thanks again,

  12. I love the capsule wardrobe idea…..helps me find similar items in my closet, and put together an outfit.
    I posted this in your Facebook page, but I made a beeline for the tan sandals. Love them. When I saw they were from Madewell, ordered them immediately.
    You featured a strappy black sandal from Madewell a few years ago. I bought them, and they became my go-to sandal for dinners out. They’re practically in tatters now, I’ve worn them so much. And they pack to almost nothing.
    Hoping these D’Orsay sandals fill the same roll.

  13. Hi Susan,
    You look great! I like both the sweater jacket and short trench. Do you think a Winter can also wear that green sweater top? Its so hard to tell the kelly vs emerald greens! Thanks!

    1. Hi Kay, yes, a lot of these greens are in between Spring and Winter. This one is definitely close to the Light Emerald in the Winter palette.

  14. I liked your selections. The only wish is that the jackets/cardigans were longer. I would love to have a trench shorter than knee length, but about 2-3 inches longer than the two shown. On another note, as I’ve prepared for spring, I decided to buy a few sleeveless tops to go under jackets instead of tops with sleeves – makes the jackets easier to put on. I found two on Kule and one on Boden. All of them come to the high hip area. I’ve found I tend not to tuck in tops, so it works better for me to buy them shorter to leave untucked. Also my upper arms are not my best feature so I don’t plan to take my jackets off. (One jacket is white denim, one is blue denim, and the third is the Ann Taylor jacket you recently showed. I bought it in navy, love it.

  15. Hi Susan—I’ve been looking with no luck, for cotton or a blend spring/summer sweaters with a v-neck suitable for a winter petite. Why are there no shorter v-neck sweaters this year? A crew neck is not the best look for me. I’m tired of just settling. Have you seen anything?

  16. I’m in love with those Italian ballet flats yet I’ve never spent over $200 for shoes. I’ll be thinking on it for 24 hours before I decide. They are beautiful though.