2020 Career on the Move Guide Military Edition

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A Crash Course to a Capsule Wardrobe

Capsule Wardrobe: A term coined by Susie Faux, referring to a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don't go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces. I was watching the documentary “The...


Capsule Wardrobe: A term coined by Susie Faux, referring to a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.

I was watching the documentary “The Inventor” recently while flying overseas. If you haven’t seen this documentary yet, it is the deplorable story of Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes who famously wore the same black-on-black outfit every day, emulating her inner Steve Jobs. While I do not recommend black turtlenecks every day, there is something positive to be said about the efficiency of a capsule wardrobe.

We’re all guilty of buying clothes that we never wear and hanging onto those clothes for an inordinate amount of time and no one truly wants to wear the same thing every day. (Except Steve Jobs and Elizabeth Holmes.)

What is the number one rule of having a capsule wardrobe?

You need to use accessories to mix it up. (And yes, men can accessorize with their cuff links, ties, and other business-casual accessories too!)

You wear the same white tunic to work on Monday and Thursday.
On Monday, you wore a chunky, hot pink necklace with black slacks.
On Thursday, you tucked it in, wore a metallic gold scarf and a black pencil skirt.

Do you think anyone is going to notice that you wore the white tunic twice this week? No, they’ll be too busy peeping on your accessories. You can vary your favorite staple pieces with accessories, and it will toss up your look and add some spice to your wardrobe.

Is a capsule wardrobe right for me?

You must reflect on your lifestyle in order to determine if a capsule wardrobe is right for you. Do you really need 30 pairs of shoes?

Try logging the outfits you wear over the course of the next 30 days, take a selfie or jot down the items on your phone or in a journal. When that time is over, note what pieces you wore regularly versus the clothing items that collected dust. Also, consider seasonality, don’t throw out your Daisy Dukes just yet if you’re your test run is during November sweater weather. 

You don’t have to become a total minimalist, move into a tiny home and donate all your physical possessions to utilize a capsule wardrobe. Start small, do a trial run and decide if you like the idea. Frankly, capsule wardrobes aren’t for everyone. If you’re on the fence about capsule wardrobes, pack a capsule wardrobe the next time you travel. You will LOVE dragging only a carry on through the airport and you won’t have to wait 30 extra minutes at the baggage carousel.

Capsule wardrobe shopping tips.

Don’t get rid of everything you own and go on a mad shopping spree. Go through your clothes and keep what you already own and wear regularly. There is no need to be wasteful here, the point of capsule wardrobes is to be the opposite of wasteful. During your capsule wardrobe journey, you may need to invest in a few new pieces. 

  • Invest in timeless pieces that fit and are extremely well-made. 
  • Consider hiring a professional tailor to alter jackets, dresses, and blazers. 
  • Luxury brands aren’t always durable.
  • Select neutral colors for your staple pieces.
  • Choose colors that compliment your skin tone and personal style for accessories.

When selecting clothes, quality over quantity is key for your capsule wardrobe. If it feels cheap or delicate, it’s probably not going to last long as a capsule staple piece. It is important to remember that when investing in new pieces for a capsule wardrobe that you will be wearing them with frequency, and you need durable clothes.

Marie Kondo that closet!

Now that you’ve decided that you may be interested in going with a capsule wardrobe, it’s time to get rid of the excess clothes that you don’t need. There are a million ways to get rid of your clothes. If you have a lot of high-end shoes, bags, and clothes you may consider selling your items on Poshmark or using a resale program at a local consignment shop to recoup some of your wardrobe investment. 

Another option – If you’re like me and don’t wear many luxury brands, selling your clothes may not be a good option. If I tried to sell the clothes I own, the money wouldn’t be worth the effort. Last year, I watched Marie Kondo, said thank you to my unworn clothes and donated them to my local thrift shop. In the past, I’ve given my clothes to similarly-sized friends and mothers with teenage daughters around my size. Be creative and find a way to be generous to your community, do not throw away perfectly good clothes when another person could benefit from them.

If you wear a capsule wardrobe, tell us about it. Would you die without a certain staple item? What style of shoe has lasted the longest? Do you only buy professional pieces for interviews? We want to hear about your experience with a capsule wardrobe. Comment here and tag us on social @beginwithin2016 with your capsule wardrobe tips and tricks!

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