Capsule wardrobe

I blogged before about my uniform, but it's evolved a little in the last year. This is my touchstone when I'm shopping and looking at magazines. I know no matter what I buy, what I wish I could fit into or look good in, these are the clothes that I actually wear.

The quest for perfection in these categories is an ongoing one. Each season, I search the new offerings looking for a new iteration of these favourites, for better materials, more ethical manufacturing and better fit. And when I do occasionally splurge, as long as stay I within these confines, I know I won't regret it. Honestly, if I look at my closet today, the pieces I regret, that I feel uncomfortable in or that I've just never worn are those that fall outside of my capsule wardrobe.


I wore a uniform for 16 years of school, so I'm sure you could tell a psychological story here. Though, unlike many schoolmates, I find that wearing a uniform is liberating. In a way, it lets me opt out of the perpetual new trend-lust cycle. And, I feel like I can spend more because I'm buying less, which is important to me for ethical and style reasons. But now... I'm really curious about how you shop: Do you have a uniform that's "you"? Is it your be all and end all, or just your jumping-off point. Or do you find the whole idea dreadfully boring and only ever shop a la carte?

Column 1: Chinti & Parker @ Net-a-Porter / Loeffler Randall (past collection) / Bodas / James Perse / TOMS shoes / Column 2: Erdem @ Barneys / Belstaff @ Net-a-Porter / Calypso / Shopbop / Column 3: Bloch / Toast / Hugo Guinness @ John Derian / Vince @ Shopbop / Column 4: Furla (past collection) / Linda Penwarden necklace / Claddagh ring (gift) / J.Crew / Hanky Panky / Converse / Column 5: James Perse / LemLem / Bensimon / J.Crew

32 comments:

  1. oh my goodness. if i could hire you to build me a wardrobe identical to yours, i would. love. it. all.

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  2. i can definitely relate with you about buying something "outside your uniform" and then regretting later on because you just never wear it. i've been thinking a lot lately about uniforms and such. trying to figure out mine exactly. i tend to be drawn towards more simple clothing, but made of good materials and neutral colors. the other day i picked up a three-pack of men's white cotton v-neck tshirts (to my boyfriend's chagrin...but i later convinced him of my plan). i copied someone else (yeah yeah, we're all copycats), but i really like their idea of wearing a sort of uniform with these t-shirts. yesterday i wore one shirt tucked into a pair of blue linen high waisted shorts and rolled the sleeves. the nice thing about neutral colors is that they go with about everything. :)

    i rambled on there a bit, didn't i?

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  3. I've never thought about it that way, but I guess I wear a uniform as well! Wide-leg trousers and floaty feminine tops, or a comfortable dress... I just add a black turtleneck in the winter.

    I love the idea of mapping out my favorites as a guide, though there's really no color theme!

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  4. I've never really thought of what I wear as a uniform, but I suppose we all have one. I know what works for me and I usually stick to it, although I like to try things a little out of my comfort zone from time to time.

    Also, I really think you could have a side job as a stylist! I'm just obsessed with this inspiration board. :)

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  5. Great question. Since my studio is in my home, I've found I have a better day if I actually get dressed. My staple uniform in my studio in summer is a shirtdress. Something unfussy, unclingy and easy to work in that won't collect the threads and fluff from the work table. It's cold in winter and I sadly wore flannel and jeans in the studio all year last year - horrible. I vow to have a better winter wardrobe for the cold studio days this year. At the end of the day, if it's oatmeal or charcoal with great lines -it's going home with me.

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  6. i am trying to get to this point.. i just need to be organized like you and write it all out. i love this idea and i wish you could be my wardrobe therapist:)

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  7. Jane, you have great style! Love your uniform! I am all about buying less but paying more....

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  8. I totally have a uniform. When I went to Berlin, I loved the way all the women dressed and then I realized why - they were all wearing slim (not skinny) jeans, trenchcoats and scarves, just like I do! Don't even ask me how many cardigans, nautical stripes or things in grey or navy I have!

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  9. This is lovely. My wardrobe is nowhere nearly as cohesive. I may wear a uniform of sorts for a while, but it always changes up in the end because I'm willing to buy whatever makes my heart sing. Although of course, there are always moccasins.

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  10. Okay, you know I love these posts!!

    Yes, I definitely have a capsule wardrobe of styles, colours and fabrics that I know and love. I feel like they love me back, too! You know the dress or the shoes or the necklace that whenever you wear it, you feel fabulous and people compliment you, too. I call that a return on my investment.

    I have pretty much stopped buying outside my 'uniform' because, like other people here, I don't wear them.

    I'm like you in that there's a definite colour mix and style I go for. I'm also about buying less but being willing to pay more for the quality and/or timelessness of an item I know I'll wear again and again and again.

    You definitely notice the 'uniform' when it comes to packing for a trip. Makes it extremely easy to mix and match and get the most out of a carry-on!

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  11. I think I need a uniform, because I tend to gravitate towards the same things over and over again. In general, I go for loosely fitted dresses, paired with thick tights + boots for winter and just sandals for summer. Plus loads of cardigans.

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  12. You always pick amazing things. I think we have a pretty similar style. I usually focus on comfort, which is really not totally my preference, but it works! I'm still trying to work on building a cohesive wardrobe because I still have too much randomness thrown in. You seem to really have it together! Love this inspiration board!

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  13. I adore this post and pretty much clicked on every link you included for your items. I'm actually going to be cleaning out my closet this weekend and donating all my under-used stuff to charity. I'm looking forward to it, it feels kind of like graduating to a new level. And this post is just so inspirational and eye-opening. Thanks and keep them coming.

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  14. hahah, it seems we dress the same. lots of greys, blacks, whites. lots of long tunics/blouses, leggings, skinny jeans. basically, loose & comfy. i'm exactly the same -- if i try to venture out of my norm, i find that it stays untouched in my closet. we are creatures of habit :]

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  15. I love your capsule wordrobe - I see at least 7-8 things that I would have in mine.

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  16. Wierd - looks like my closet...

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  17. Wierd - looks like my closet!

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  18. Jane,

    I loved the first post you had about uniform dressing. It was the post that made me add you to Google Reader. I felt like a unicorn before that because as much as I love new styles, I don't usually spend my money on them and I thought it was strange. My uniform is essential and looks a lot like yours. Tank tops, good jeans, flats and colours that I don't need to think too hard about. I usually have a good bag and scarfs that I pick up while traveling. If we were supposed to stress over fashion, God wouldn't have given us black cashmere turtlenecks...perfection ;)

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  19. I don't have a "uniform" but I do end up wearing jeans + tee + cardigan EVERY DAY. Which I'd like to get out of, so I think that qualifies as a rut more than a uniform. I'd like to develop it into a uniform of sorts though, just add some more interesting pieces.

    I adore your style. I am more of a shoe whore but I love the clothes and accessories you have here. It's so relaxed and moody.

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  20. I wore a uniform for a few years and much preferred it over having to make daily decisions on school wardrobe.

    As an adult, every time I think I figure out my style, it morphs just a bit. This is the first summer where I have actually bought summer clothes (ie. not black) with colour/prints and sandals. I feel pretty, soft and feminine. I definitely usually go for simple clean lines, but it's been nice stepping out of the box!

    I also have been finding that spending a bit more on clothing helps prevent me from buying mass quantities of ill-fitting, random stuff, and I love my closet more for it!

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  21. I love your selections there! I suppose I have a bit of a uniform. Regardless of type of outfit, I always wear: flats (usually ballet, sometimes sandals or moccasins), cardigan (regardless of season -- I hate overwhelming AC), and my staple bag at the time (right now, a light grey faux-leather). If it's a casual day, I throw a pair of slim jeans and a blouse or t-shirt into the mix. If I'm at work, it's paired with a knee-length A-line skirt (usually a print) and a solid color top. If I'm out at night, it's all paired with a short dress.

    Whew, that was fun to think about! I find that I have a lot of clothes in turquoise or blue, too, and an affinity for polka dots.

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  22. My computer's being funny, so hopefully I didn't just post this twice...

    I love your selections there! I suppose I have a bit of a uniform. Regardless of type of outfit, I always wear: flats (usually ballet, sometimes sandals or moccasins), cardigan (regardless of season -- I hate overwhelming AC), and my staple bag at the time (right now, a light grey faux-leather). If it's a casual day, I throw a pair of slim jeans and a blouse or t-shirt into the mix. If I'm at work, it's paired with a knee-length A-line skirt (usually a print) and a solid color top. If I'm out at night, it's all paired with a short dress.

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  23. I adore the idea of a uniform but I know it doesn't always stay the same.

    Like someone else commented, this is the first spring I've added a bit of color and print to my spring/summer wardrobe and it's fun!

    I go for simplicity...so for work it's usually a dress and flats with a cardi over it (office A/C!)...or an A-line knee length skirt with a cami and a cardi and flats.

    I just added leggings to the mix. what fun!

    I go for simplicity. A new (to me) pink floral print short sleeve shirt with a skirt and flats. Easy peasy and so very cute.

    I'm short and feel the most comfortable in the (dreaded to designers) capri length pants. So that's part of my summer uniform.

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  24. Hmm...if opting for skirts & blouses or a dress on a regular basis constitutes a "uniform" then I am guilty. While I see the appeal of a super streamlined capsule wardrobe, it's not something I care to cultivate.

    French women are regarded as geniuses of the streamlined capsule wardrobe/uniform, and save for the odd scarf here and there, I find the general look rather uninspiring.

    However, there is something to be said for simplicity as we get older. I love the house dresses of the 1940s and 1950s, however, at the age of 43, I find that shape (and most of the fabric patterns) are a one-way ticket to Frumpville for me.

    i've been working in my closet (really, a rolling garment rack) this weekend to create a more cohesive wardrobe that flatters me figure and conveys a personal style. I still have a funky mix of items, but I'm discarding those that make me look too frumpy -- or as if I'm trying to look 23.

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  25. Love these looks. Just recently I've come to realize, like you, that there are things I'm consistently drawn to and when I force myself to go outside those boundaries, I tend to never wear it.

    I've been much more conscious in the past 6 months or so to make sure anything I purchase fits into my uniform (i.e. black, white, stripes, and sometimes a splash of red). I don't think being consistent is a bad thing - it shows that you know yourself and how you want to be identified.

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  26. I really like this idea of a uniform. I've printed out outfits I liked from Brochu Walker's line, which I discovered from your blog and have it with me when I dress up in the morning as a guide. I am also planning to use it to guide my shopping. I'm slowly learning that the pieces I love are the ones with the most mileage. On a related note, you might want to check <a href="http://www.theuniformproject.com>this</a> out if you don't know about it already.

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  27. This is amazing, not to mention incredibly inspiring. I am thinking about creating a capsule wardrobe of my own, but I just don't know where to start. So this post was great for me, it really gave me some great ideas!

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  28. Hey... i'm trying to make my capsule wardrobe over a whole year - would love to hear what you think of my blog:

    http://thecapsulewardrobeproject2011.blogspot.com/

    Julia x

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  29. Hi Jane
    I've just stumbled across your blog and it’s fabulous. I love your style and if you were a dresser I’d employ you (1. if I could afford you & 2. if I had the money to buy the lovely clothes you suggest). Your capsule wardrobe is my ideal wardrobe and like you, I wore a uniform for 16 years and feel more comfortable when I stick with it.
    I’m still working out what my ideal capsule wardrobe will be in the future (although your sample in this post looks pretty perfect to me) now that I have decided to abandon traditional business suits and jeans/trackies on weekends. I’m looking to something that will work for both work and weekend with a couple of tweeks to suit the day. Less is More and Quality is Queen are the mantra I shop with in this new year.
    Please keep posting, I have no doubt you are going to be a wonderful source of inspiration as I find my way.
    Best wishes
    Helen O’Brien

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  30. It'll be a while for me until I find a 'capsule' selection of clothes I could just pull out of the wardrobe and wear any day of the week. Loved all the ideas from your post and the many comments below. (So 'up to date' despite the original post date.)

    For now though I will probably continue to be inevitably drawn to all the glittery, glitzy things every single time, that could never become a staple wardrobe.

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