Tool for Building a Personalized (Capsule) Wardrobe

Whether you are building a wardrobe from scratch or trying to create the perfect, versatile wardrobe, it can be overwhelming.  While this post is about capsule wardrobes, this tool will help you build a wardrobe in general, regardless of whether or not you’re into capsules.  

While capsule wardrobes have been around for a long time, you have probably noticed their rising popularity in the last year or two.  
If you’re not familiar with capsule wardrobes, it’s basically a mini wardrobe made of versatile pieces that is essentially fixed.  Some people have one capsule or minimalist wardrobe for all seasons while many others build capsules seasonally.
Why Capsules Are Compelling to Me
I’m not officially doing capsule wardrobes at the moment, but since I live with a minimalist husband I feel like I am forever inching my way over.  And I find myself even more compelled by them since having a kid.  After becoming parents, Benson and I both feel a heavy sense of “decision fatigue.”  Everyday we are inundated with large and small decisions to make, from significant strategic decisions at work to how we will decorate our house to what to wear.  When Addie was born we felt the amount of decisions pile up–which sippy cup to get, what baby clothes to buy, which daycare to take her to.  It feels endless!  We noticed decision fatigue taking a mental and emotional toll on us, and having to make decisions about stupid little things everyday prevented us from engaging fully with the things and people that are really important to us.  
I used to think the point of capsule wardrobes was to save money, but nowadays the bigger appeal for me is that building a capsule wardrobe should allow you to spend less time thinking about clothes and free up that energy towards more important things.  I’ve watched Benson streamline his life, like how we eat the same thing for lunch everyday or how he has fewer clothing options and doesn’t waste as much time as I do mulling over what to wear (and still looks really good!), and I feel compelled to streamline my life a little more, too.  
Over a year and a half ago I was introduced to a company called Cladwell, and I’m excited to introduce them to you today!  Cladwell built a tool that creates a personalized capsule wardrobe to fit your lifestyle and style preferences, and I’m gonna show you the capsule I created!  
Anyway, I know some of us are on the capsule train already, some of us have been intrigued by it (like me), and some of us will never do the capsule thing.  All of that is fine!  Even if you don’t want to do a capsule wardrobe but need a more robust and personalized list than the Starter Kit list in my Wardrobe From Scratch Series, this could be a fantastic tool for you.
Shop for the Items
Items below are exact or similar to what’s shown above.  If the exact item is not linked that means it is no longer available.  
Row 2 // striped tunic  |  grey home tee  |  patterned tee  |  black tee  |  white tee  |  grey sweatshirt
Row 3 // navy sweater  |  cream sweater  |  green sweater  |  patterned cardi  |  tan cardi  |  yellow cardi
Row 4 // maroon cardi  |  navy vest  |  herringbone vest  |  cargo jacket  |  denim jacket  |  navy coat 
Row 6 // black dress |  grey dress  |  striped dress  |  dark skinny jeans  |  flares  |  med-wash skinnies 
Row 7 // olive jeans  |  white jeans  |  black jeans  |  maroon jeans
Row 7 shoes // cognac boots  |  black boots  |  tan flats  |  black flats  |  white sneakers

The Process
Cladwell takes you through a 4 step process of discovering your style and color preferences.  On the last step you’ll get asked a series of questions about color preferences, lifestyle activities, and types of clothing you prefer.

I entered that I work from home 3x/wk, have meetings 2x/wk, church 1x/wk, attend weddings and dressier occasions several times per season, and have errands and kid-friendly activities 2x/wk.  I love that you get to enter what kinds of pieces you prefer to wear for those activities!

Then Cladwell generates a list for you with different types of pieces and you choose a color for each piece.  Cladwell gives you 3 color suggestions for each garment based on your chosen color palette, and you either choose one of them or you can enter a different color completely.

After choosing colors, you check off whether or not you already have each garment.  If you don’t have it, it’ll be added to your shopping list.

What’s great about this tool is its flexibility.  You can add pieces to the list, exchange one kind of piece for more of another, delete pieces altogether, add notes to each piece, and change colors.

One thing I wished Cladwell’s capsule tool did was tell you if you should go for a solid or patterned piece.  Right now it only indicates color.  As you can see in my capsule above, I was still able to incorporate prints, but it just took a little more thought.  Once I actually got into the nitty gritty of going through the list and thinking of pieces I currently had to fill the list it was much easier to figure out patterns versus solids.  I was just like, “Yes, I have a white button up blouse.  And it happens to be polka dotted.”  🙂  It might be a little harder if you have absolutely no pieces because you’re working completely from scratch.  But if you’re an average person with some stuff in your closet and trying to build a capsule wardrobe or curate your wardrobe you should be fine once you actually get into things.  If you’re looking for guidance, about half of my tops (out of 15 including pullover sweaters) had a print.  To know your style preferences, Step 1 in Cladwell’s process should help you do that, or you can read Part 1 of Wardrobe From Scratch.

Cladwell is a subscription service, so you pay to use the tool for each season. It’s just $15 to use for one season, meaning ~$5/mo.  Not too shabby for something that’s going to help organize and streamline your life, IMO!  

My Capsule Wardrobe
I ended up with 49 pieces, but depending on how much variation you need for your lifestyle, you could end up with more or less.  I switched some out and added others because, let’s face it…I love clothes.  🙂

Even though I recently did a huge closet clean out (HERE), making this list has helped me see that focusing on a smaller set of pieces–having even less clutter–really does feel freeing.  If you’ve been following PMT this season, most of these pieces should look familiar as I’ve already been living out of this list more or less.  It’s been unintentional, but I’ve noticed I think less about clothes than I ever have, yet I’m more content with how I dress.  At the same time, however, part of me goes, “But, but, but…what about my cobalt pumps?”  I feel sad about pieces that aren’t here that I love.  BUT, then I realize that this capsule wardrobe thing isn’t meant to be rigid.  It’s supposed to be freeing.  For me, it’s not about exercising self-discipline to only use these pieces to see if you can do it (no thanks) or even saving money (–I already budget).  It’s about removing some distractions to decrease decision fatigue and be freed up mentally and emotionally to focus on more important things.

While I can’t say I’m not going to shop anymore this season (it’s still a hobby for me, haha! but maybe I’ll get there), my current plan is to remove a lot of items from my closet and pare it down to focus on this list as a base. (Not get rid of, but just remove for this season.)  If for some reason I instantly think of an outfit with a piece that’s not in my current pared down closet, then I’ll use it.  On a day to day level I think I’ll have much more mental space if I’m staring at less pieces in the morning, but if one day I want to reach for cobalt pumps, then I will, and there ain’t no harm in that!

For anyone who would love some help building a capsule wardrobe or even if you just need a starting place to build a wardrobe, check out Cladwell‘s capsule wardrobe building tool!

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