Every year about this time, I get the itch to simplify. Life is a little quieter, and I tend to fall into a pattern of wearing the same few pieces over and over. So I thought I’d be a bit more deliberate about it this year. I’ve created a wardrobe capsule of pieces that can be the starting point for several different looks (with help from accent pieces and accessories).
Striking a balance between simplicity and variety
I believe the easiest way to simplify your wardrobe is to create a capsule of neutral basics. (Whatever the “basics” are for your style and lifestyle.) But if I were to try to wear only these pieces for an entire month, I’d get bored pretty quickly (and so would you). Rather, my intention is to use these as a foundation and starting point to my outfits, and add accent pieces (like jackets), and accessories for variety and interest.
See yesterday’s outfit post: Putting a personal spin on a classic look as an example.
Why navy? After a few months of leaning heavily into my browns and golds, navy feels crisp and fresh again. There’s a navy for every person’s palette. And for those who are looking to move away from wearing a lot of black, navy can be a great “stepping stone.”
A navy and ivory capsule wardrobe for January
Here’s (most of) what’s in this capsule…
- Striped tee with bateau neck (seen HERE) For milder days, this layers nicely under jackets and cardigans.
- Navy cashmere crewneck (similar). From a few seasons back. This is the sweater I tend to throw on when I’m hanging out at home. I’ll probably need to replace it by the end of this season.
- Ivory cashmere crewneck. This was one of my travel MVP’s. It’s lightweight enough to layer easily. This sweater has really held up well!
- Striped wool & cashmere sweater. (Yes, I have a Thing for Breton stripes…) Also very lightweight. Purchased last year, haven’t shown in an outfit yet. Here’s a similar budget-friendly style.
- Cotton fisherman sweater. Have had this one for several seasons, and it’s held up brilliantly. I wash it in the machine (delicate cycle in a lingerie bag) and lay flat to dry. Here’s a similar style at a budget-friendlier price.
- Denim jacket (similar). I’ve included this with tops as I’ve been experimenting lately with wearing as a mid-layer. Look for an example later this week. I can’t remember when I bought this but it’s the best fitting denim jacket I’ve ever found.
Not shown: I’ve been wanting to replace a couple of my cashmere v-neck sweaters that were worn out, but haven’t had much luck yet. I have two on order and if they work out (fingers crossed) I’ll work them into the rotation.
- Dark wash slim jeans. I’ve had these for several seasons. Shown most recently HERE.
- Light-medium wash boyfriend jeans (similar). Mine are a couple of years old, shown most recently HERE.
- Ivory boyfriend jeans. I’ve had these for at least a year, worn most recently HERE.
- Navy slim pants (similar). For a break from the jeans, or if we go out. I haven’t worn these much since last winter, shown previously HERE.
Again, these are just the foundation pieces I’ll use as starting points for outfits. I’ll share the combos I come up with throughout the month.
Do you create capsule wardrobes?
I do monthly/ seasonal capsule colors. For example in mid fall to Christmas I wear cranberry and cool green pieces.. Although, I’m keeping the cranberry out for a while I like it paired with gray. In winter I tend to wear more blues, grays and black. Once early spring arrives I wear navy, and white. In summer to mid fall I attempt to make it through without sweltering. This rotation helps me not tire of my clothes so quickly. There are some base colors that stay the same through the year I just wear one particular color more during a season or month.
I love this capsule. Exactly what I needed to see right now. Thank you.
Lovely capsule and pieces I wear regularly……….in Spring and summer, not January! But that’s the beauty of living in California, you can wear the same clothes all year round. Here in Canada, light jackets, shoes and bare ankles are impossible in January. But a wardrobe of winter basics can be made prettier with bright colours and accessories like scarves, coloured boots, headwear, gloves etc. So, I have a yellow puffer jacket, black winter leggings, red knee-high suede boots and a red tartan scarf. Just an example!
This is a great capsule and one I use in the spring and summer (living in New England). I find I naturally gravitate to a few pieces each season and will now officially move those pieces front and center in my closet. It is always helpful to me when you indicate the size you wear, since I am petite also.
thanks for the refreshing capsule. love stripes!
I’m a winter for color. The personality closest to my style statement would be huntswomen. So…..not surprising, this capsule challenge is all wrong to me. I cannot grasp wanting to skip over all that’s great with winter dressing and start easing into spring! I think you have a French saying that applies here along the lines of different strokes for different folks. It does make me curious to see how this plays out on your blog.
Hi Kari, I’m a winter too and love bright colours but would use these pieces as a basis for something more unusual. For example: bright rainbow-stripe sweater with the ivory jeans; the Breton top with red or even purple jeans; the plain cashmere sweater with an in-your-face scarf. I don’t think Susan was suggesting to just wear the stuff on the rail – I’d also get bored with that fairly quickly (like within 24 hours…).
Love this, and appreciate the reminder (and easy link) to pick up a navy crew-neck cashmere, which is ON SALE – yay! I have been stuck in a black rut, but am going to pull out my navy pants today and put them into rotation. Merci! (BTW I, too, love stripes – the only print that I wear!).
I love this capsule. A few years ago I did navy and cream for two weeks in Italy. I accented with a shade of orange or coral. It was so simple but looked great all the time.
I don’t work with capsules, but my wardrobe is small. I love your navy/cream capsule. For the past months, I’ve been evaluating what I am wearing and slowly eliminating those pieces that don’t make the cut. I’m in a waiting/thinking phase and not adding anything new. I’ve bookmarked a number of clothing websites to re-visit as spring/summer fashions roll out. I also want to thing about all the accessory choices from bags and shoes to jewelry, belts, and sunglasses, etc. Thanks for your blog. It’s always interesting, fun, and helpful.
I find capsule posts very interesting. We all wear a capsule. We just don’t realize it because we wear our favorites over and over. If we laid those out flat on a bed we would find we have a capsule. There it is surrounded by all those clothes we rarely wear.
Eve, I was just thinking the same thing! I have a bunch of “sometimes” clothing but reach for the same pieces for awhile and then get tired of them. Susan, today I was inspired by your recent golds/creams etc and am wearing those tones myself. Fun stuff–keep it coming!!
Susan, the link to the slim navy pant you’ve provided takes me to grey/burgundy pants but not navy. Do you have any recommended alternatives?
Hi Elizabeth, sorry about that. The navy seems to be sold out everywhere. Here’s one with a similar look: https://bit.ly/3eNx0sj
I love this concept. I am going to rearrange some clothes in my closet!
Nope, I have never created a capsule. Or perhaps when I go away and want to limit the number of clothes I bring.
I am hopeless at this. I always go for the outstanding pieces, the ones that jump at you in the rack. Thus creating a wardrobe full of items that compete with one another. I never learn.
Susan, I love your style! I am a southwesterner by birth and I love most things you wear. I try to mimic you in a 5’7″ budget sort of way. I’m thinking about my “capsule wardrobe” as I drink my coffee. Keep it up!
I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with for cashmere V-neck sweaters. I am quite busty and a crew neck doesn’t flatter me, but many of the V-neck styles I have seen are very slouchy.
I am always looking for v-necks, as I also find them so much more flattering. I will take the vertical line to a horizontal neckline any day. I know many women feel this way, but available merchandise suggests that retailers doesn’t acknowledge. Oh well, saving my pennies because I won’t buy what’s available.
I have looked at many capsule wardrobe ideas over the years but never thought about considering the “capsule” as more of a base to start from. I’m looking forward to seeing what you add to your capsule to keep it interesting and fun.
My favorite color Navy, I have several pieces in my wardrobe. With my completion Black near my face makes me look wash out and white for that matter. Thank god for scarves. I have always gravitated to Autumn colors, especially now with my gray hair. I have saved lots of your outfits in my Pinterest outfits board.
Love your capsule. I have been a fan of navy most of my life. Since retiring and going covid grey I find navy to be less harsh than black. By adding a bright scarf, blouse or coat I can ring the changes. Navy works in both warm and colder weather depending on the weight and type of fabric used.
Hi Susan, you really hit the nail on the head with this navy capsule! Everybody can wear some kind of navy and it makes a great replacement for black, always looks good with jeans etc. I do find that putting two navy items together often doesn’t work, since it is amazing how the navy colours can be different and off-putting if you put two together. I don’t think there is any other colour where even a slight colour “discrepancy” is so obvious. So this combo takes care of that, especially with the striped items. This year I’ve enjoyed the look of navy with brown which used to be one of those fashion no-nos. I think this post should really resonate with your followers although there are always those who aren’t comfortable with horizontal stripes. Having said that, I wonder if you have ever done a post dealing with just stripes?
I have been kind of bored with my winter clothes, so this morning I put on a floral coral and olive blouse with olive jeans and an olive vest. I am a navy and stripe gal, so I appreciated your capsule. And, yes, I must do some juggling as I am a 5’7″ formerly Wisconsin “milkmaid”….and a soft summer. You just give such good suggestions for many of us. I have benefitted from your skin routine, hair routine, exercise routine and your clothing examples. I love hearing you converse with your pals on Instagram. That brings up even more variety. I will enjoy my day now in my bohemian outfit!