Since I began dressing in a seasonal, 33-item capsule wardrobe in March, I’ve noticed certain clothes emerging as most-worn favorites. Some of these items were worn so much that I ended up replacing them along the way.
This is by no means a list of must-haves, but these pieces all saw a lot of wear, and they’ll form the basis of my year-round capsule wardrobe going forward.
I wore my last pair so much that I replaced them this fall with a high waist version. Other styles (straight leg, wide leg) are growing in popularity again, but I still like my skinnies best. They make an oversized sweater and sneakers feel polished, they work cuffed or long, and they compliment heels as well as they fit under boots. I’m a fan. I liked the flap pockets on my old ones, but my new ones are stretchier for an even better fit.
2. Chambray shirt.
After months of searching, I finally found the perfect one at the thrift store. I layer this under sweaters, over tops, wear it tucked or untucked, tied or belted, with a skirt or jeans…it’s incredibly versatile. My version has button tabs so I can roll up and secure the sleeves in warmer weather.
This was a full-price purchase more than two years ago and has been a three-season wardrobe staple for me. I loved wearing it with sandals in the summer and with leggings or tights and boots in the cooler months. Before I found my chambray shirt, I would fold and tuck this one into skirts or pants.
The first version wore out and was replaced in the summer. Both were found at the thrift store. This was another three-season piece with plenty of layering and styling possibilities. It will retire briefly for winter and likely return for my spring capsule.
I purchased this braided leather belt with brass buckle in the men’s department of the thrift store, so it has a long tail to knot or wrap. Since there are no holes it can be buckled anywhere and works with a variety of outfits. It was my favorite accessory with my striped dress or jean shorts, which brings me to #6…
6. Denim shorts.
I already had a couple pairs of flowy shorts and was on the lookout for something a bit more casual and structured. It took a while to find denim shorts that weren’t distressed or cut offs. Oh, and they had to be the right length! This secondhand find made the hot month of August so much more bearable!
This lightweight sweater is just my color and goes with more than you might expect. I like to be prepared for cool temps, even in summer (wishful thinking?), and this folds up small enough to fit in my purse. It adds no bulk under a jacket and works under or over a belt.
One of my few “dry clean only” items, this vintage find was probably my most-worn piece this fall. I especially liked it over button down shirts.
This lightweight long sleeve tee feels perfectly, casually comfortable with jeans or shorts and makes a great base for a scarf or necklace.
10. Bronze swing tee.
After beginning my capsule wardrobe and taking a shopping hiatus, this was one of the first pieces I bought. I had scouted it online and love the sleeves and neckline. It’s an interesting basic.
11. Brown boots.
I replaced my falling apart synthetic boots with these Frye leather boots (purchased gently used for 80% off retail!). I did have to stretch the calves a little in a really un-glamorous process involving screwdrivers (seriously DIY), but now they are a great fit with tights or jeans. They cost more than Target boots, but I’m glad I waited for a deal and made the investment. I plan to have these for years to come.
Another pair of Frye shoes, these were a gift and purchased new. They are super comfortable, work with laces or without, and I like that I can chase my daughter around the playground in shoes I also wear around town. These are a very “me” substitute for gym shoes.
13. Faux leather jacket.
I added this piece for fall, and I love it! I had planned to save up for a leather jacket, but this synthetic version works better for my life right now. I don’t worry about wearing it in the rain, working setting up vintage displays, or playing with my daughter. I’ll still save up for the real thing at some point, but in the meantime the pleather is perfect.
Technically jewelry is not part of my capsule collection; I don’t count it in my numbers or swap it with the seasons. But I did find myself reaching for these pieces most days, and not just because my friend makes them! The stamped metal cuffs go with everything and feel like a signature look for me.
Whew, you made it through the whole list!
What were some of your favorite or most worn pieces this year?
Note: I included links to the exact items or similar ones when necessary. You can see my actual wardrobe (on hangers or worn by me) here, here, and here. Much of my clothing was purchased secondhand or in previous season/years, so some links point to sold out or unavailable items. Visible prices are no indication of what I actually paid.
Now that I’m in the home stretch of my fall Project 333, I thought I’d share an update. This three month term began October 1st and ends December 31st, and so far temperatures have spiked into the 90s and dipped into the 20s Fahrenheit. That’s quite a swing to manage with around 33 items of clothing…
So I’ve cheated a couple times. I had to temporarily pull out my big vintage fisherman sweater and my Sorel boots, and I’ve realized I really don’t have a warm coat or many sweaters left. I’m well equipped for most Southern winters, but last winter (and several days of this one) have pushed my mild winter wardrobe to the brink. My pieces consist primarily of lightweight “fashion jackets” that do little to actually thwart the cold. I’m keeping an eye on the thrift stores for a few warmer pieces, and until then I’ll pile on the layers. Thankfully, most days have lows in the 40s-50s, temps that are comfortably manageable with what I have.
I’ve also decided to keep a few spots in my closet for vintage favorites. My small collection of vintage dresses contains more statement pieces than basics, so I haven’t figured out how to fit them in a 33 item capsule collection. But there are occasions that call for a statement. I’m bringing in a few of these pieces as a sub-collection.
This season I have replaced a few items that no longer work. I bought a new pair of dark wash, high waisted skinny jeans since my others were wearing out and getting a little pointy “tail” in the back. Do you know what I’m talking about? Once it happens, the pants are pretty much done. The old jeans moved on to the “lounge wear” category (or more accurately, the “work wear” category when I’m setting up vintage displays or sorting through things in the garage).
I also ditched the charcoal skirt. I didn’t try it on before including it in my collection (lesson learned!), and it doesn’t fit well at all anymore. I still wore it once, but I immediately pulled it from my closet after seeing the baggy, saggy selfies. A plaid skirt (found on super sale!) has taken its place. While not as versatile, the new skirt is a fun piece that fits my style well, and I expect to wear it plenty this winter.
Oh, and I added a couple new pairs of shoes! I’ll share my accessories at some point.
When I did follow the rules, which was most of the time, I took some bathroom mirror shots to show how I put everything together. Fall clothes are my favorite, and they’re the easiest for me to wear. I really love these clothes, and I don’t have to think too much about them or work too hard to make outfits. I’m wondering if those two things aren’t related, and maybe that’s actually the crux of capsule dressing: effortless style.
Here are some outfits, cheats not included:
Do you have a favorite season for dressing? Have you found a way to incorporate statement pieces in a capsule wardrobe? Are you ready to try this in January?!?
For the past two weeks, my toddler daughter has been asking if it’s fall yet. Every time she’d see a leaf float down into the yard, she would cheer, “It’s FALL!” And now it finally is!
Like my daughter, I’m ready for a new season. At this point in the year (and in my three month capsule wardrobe), I’m itching for a change. Fall is my favorite season, and the corresponding clothes are a big part of that.
As October approaches, I am assessing my wardrobe from the last season and deciding what stays and what goes. Wearing the same 30-something pieces of clothing for three months has taught me some things about myself.
“Sporty” is not a word I would ever use to describe myself or my style, and with that acknowledgement, I’ll be sending my floral track pants and my printed sweatshirt on to new homes. Those outfits felt a bit more casual than I like, and wearing heels to dress them up was impractical for my daily life. No big deal–I spent less than $15 to try out the look, so I don’t feel guilty about consigning or donating the clothes.
I’m also ready to admit that there is a certain length of skirt I will not confidently wear without tights or leggings. I had one such skirt in my summer capsule, and though I wore it often in winter (with tights), I didn’t wear it once in the past three months. That’s okay, too. I’ll skip this skirt for my fall collection and maybe bring it back when the weather is consistently cool enough to wear tights with it.
Several things have also worn out after three (or in some cases, six) months of regular wear. I have already replaced my striped tee, and I’ll be swapping my striped dress and striped tank for my fall closet. Hooray for new stripes!
I bought the (nearly) new striped pieces from the thrift store, and I spent less than $25 on all three of them.
Other retiring pieces include my black crochet top tee (too faded), my beloved beaded sandals (falling apart, and I’ve already glued them back together twice), and the light wash jeans. I usually wear dark wash jeans, but I thought a lighter wash might be nice for summer. So many fashion bloggers made them work, and I felt inspired to give it a try. I paid less than $8 for those secondhand Anthropologie jeans, and it was worth it to discover that I do actually prefer a darker wash.
With the change in seasons, the worn out pieces, the mistakes, and the items I’ve been wearing regularly for months (some since March!), I am packing up or giving away almost everything in my summer collection. Some of the pieces will go in the drawer until it’s time to reassess next spring.
I’ve had some hits and misses in my wardrobe choices this summer, and I feel like I have a clearer understanding of my style. For summer, I included some pieces that I liked but weren’t my favorites; they seemed like necessary basics. For fall, I’m ditching that philosophy. I pretty much love every single thing that will be in my closet from October to December. I feel happier with my closet overall, and I’ll be interested to see if I miss those basic pieces. In the meantime, I’ve started putting outfit ideas together, and nearly all the combinations–even the weird and quirky ones–feel especially like me. I can’t wait to share them.
So…October (and thus a new season of Project 333) starts in a week. Are you ready to try a minimalist wardrobe challenge?
I’m about six weeks into my second round of Project 333, a minimalist wardrobe challenge that involves wearing just thirty-three items of clothing for three months. I bend the rules by not counting shoes and accessories in my 33 items, though I’ve chosen to limit those as well. I started this round with 28 items of clothing, and I have since lost one item and gained two (more on that later!) to bring my working total to 30. I left a little space in my count this time so I could fill some holes or bring in a couple fresh items, and I think this is a good approach for me.
Here are some snapshots of outfits I’ve put together this round:
Like I mentioned, I have made a couple modifications to my collection since beginning this round. The mint tee (seen in the fourth outfit from the top left) has not survived. Pasta with marinara sauce, a toddler, and overly ambitious stain removal tactics left the top with two large bleached out circles. So that shirt has left the collection.
I have added two items that were both hand me downs (hand me overs?): a maxi dress not yet pictured and a pair of straight leg designer jeans (seen in the bottom row, third from the left). Free clothes can be a help or a hindrance to dressing with less. In this case, these two items fit me and my style well, and they filled gaps in my wardrobe. I was thankful to accept these generous offers.
I’ve also noticed some differences in seasonal capsule wardrobes. In my first round, I tried to make a different outfit for each day of the project. I made a game of it, and I enjoyed the creative styling challenge. Making unique combinations was easier when the weather was cooler and I could layer sweaters, jackets, and scarves.
Though I have fewer layering options in the summer heat, I’m still finding plenty of new combinations. I’m also repeating outfits at will. The second outfit from the top left (striped tee, dark skinny jeans, black canvas sandals) has been one of my summer favorites.
Another aspect that makes summer more challenging is laundry. I live in the Deep South of the United States, and the weather gets HOT! Sweat is an unfortunate summer reality, and my items require more frequent laundering this time around. I have adjusted, but I’ll be happy when the weather cools down again in a few months.
I have now been dressing with less since March, and I am dressing with more freedom and confidence than ever before. I haven’t fully cracked the code on my impulse shopping, but I’m making strides. I can now say with assurance that I have enough. Thirty-three items are enough–more than enough, even. I would rather have a closet contain 33 items I love than one bursting with things I sort of, kind of like.
Are you thinking about trying a capsule wardrobe or Project 333? Are you already dressing with less? I’d love to hear about your experience!
A new season of Project 333 began July 1st (more on that later!), so now seemed like a good time to follow up on my first season. I began my own version of Project 333 in March and continued through May. I had a “between seasons” grace period for June and have now begun a new three month season.
Here are the outfits from season one, all put together:
I survived three months with only 33 clothing items (plus shoes and accessories–my modified rules), and I actually enjoyed it–at least for the first eight or nine weeks. After that point, the weather started changing. I started getting a little bored. I made some extra money and bought a couple new shirts. I just…lost a bit of steam.
But I also took two carloads of donations to the thrift store! I kept going back to my stored clothes and further culling my stash, and I know that will continue.
I’ve noticed a modification in my shopping habits. My purchases are much more thoughtful, more intentional. I still make some impulse thrift buys, but my “It was on sale at Target!” spending is down significantly if not altogether gone. I consider this a win. I’m also looking more critically at fit and quality when buying clothes. Rather than shopping only for pleasure, I’m shopping with the goal of building a wardrobe that reflects my style and suits my lifestyle.
I began this project with the suspicion that my constantly growing wardrobe and packed closet were not adding to my life. Wearing only thirty-three items of clothing for a set period of time seemed like a fairly simple way to see if I might enjoy living with less. Turns out I do.
In seven weeks, I have not worn the same outfit twice, and I have not grown bored with my options. It almost feels like a game making new outfits from my options, and I find what I’m wearing is more creative and more reflective of who I am. I can confidently say that you do not have to be a minimalist to enjoy a simplified wardrobe.
Though I’ve done some online window shopping, I have not added to my wardrobe during these weeks. I’ve even left my “off limits” clothes (those not selected for my thirty-three items) alone, with the exception of making two swaps.
I chose not to include shoes and accessories in my count, though I did limit my selection of these items as well. I have had a tougher time sticking to my pared down options here, and I’ve added back some packed away shoes and jewelry. I’ll keep working with those things to find what works for me.
Now that Easter is here and Lent is over, I’m setting a new goal to extend the project with my current items through June. I feel like I’ve taking one significant step toward simplifying my life and having my reality more closely reflect my priorities, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this takes me.
Anyone else care to join me and give this a try? Where might you benefit from less in your life?
For the past six weeks I have dressed from a thirty-three item wardrobe inspired by Project 333. Though you can start anytime, Project 333 participants generally begin their three month terms to coincide with the seasons (January, April, July, October). I began in early March along with Lent, and I “gave up” about three quarters of my wardrobe to try living with less. Some of these items have been donated or will be sold, and others are packed away for the season or because I am not yet ready to part with them.
While I’ve been engaged in this limited wardrobe experiment, I have recorded my outfits with notes and photographs. I am also keeping a “wear count” because I’m curious about which items I wear frequently. Since I have bridged seasons with my time frame, some items have not yet been worn due to weather (i.e., my linen romper–come on already, Spring!), and I have swapped out at least one item that was decidedly Winter (a lined brown tweed jacket) for something more Spring-ish (a half sleeve hooded jacket).
What I’ve found most interesting is that I have not worn the exact same outfit twice. With the twenty-seven clothing items I’ve actually worn, and with an intentionally limited selection of shoes and accessories, I have made a unique outfit every single day. Documenting my outfits has inspired me to find different combinations.
I am more self-aware and less self-conscious. I feel like I have a better idea of which shapes and proportions work for my body, and I feel more confident in what I’m wearing. Viewing my style in photographs has given me slight objectivity, and building outfits from a smaller, preferred selection of items is producing better results for me. I guess it’s similar to cooking with the best ingredients available to you; even simple recipes taste delicious when built from quality ingredients.
Based on my wear count, here are my most popular items:
1. Dark wash skinny jeans (14 wears)
2. Dark wash bootcut jeans (7)
3. (tie) Rust cardigan; denim jacket (6)
4. (tie) Chambray tunic; mustard cropped chinos (5)
5. (tie) Cream lace top; purple dolman tee; striped dress (4)
While I wait for warmer weather so I can actually wear the shorts and skirts that I included, I’ll remain reassured that I have more than enough. I’m not bored with my options yet. Though I committed to the project through Easter, I have decided to extend it through June. I may swap out a couple more items between now and then, but I know I’ll have plenty to wear.(Oh, the possibilities! Here is one sweatshirt, six slightly different ways. I cut the tag out of the sweatshirt, and now it’s reversible. I ended up wearing the combo in the lower right.)