The Capsule Wardrobe Experiment

In Fall 2014, I was facing a unique challenge: my winter clothes were uncoordinated so dressing myself in the mornings was taking a long time, I was really busy with planning our wedding, I was doing personal training, and my workload had increased in the office. Looking forward to Fall-Winter 2014-15, I knew I was going to be hard up for time and money. A complicating factor was my lack of time for shopping, and my disillusionment with the fashion industry. (I’m pretty pissed about high prices for bad quality, lazy design, and really unattractive fashions.) I didn’t have time to go through my closet in a deep way and try to address ANY of these problems using the stuff I had.

I gave it about five minutes thought one day while at work, and came to a decision. I needed to buy a Fall-Winter wardrobe that was small, extremely easy to manage, made it really easy to get dressed in the mornings, and was really easy to maintain. I decided I would put together a wardrobe in neutrals (black, navy, white and grey) so that everything I wore could be tossed in the washing machine and run through in two loads (dark and light). The wardrobe needed to cover five+ days of work, and potential travel.

There were some other restrictions: nothing with buttons down the front, no dresses or skirts (I don’t wear them in the winter), and ideally everything would come in for less than $200.

I marched my butt over to Old Navy one night after work when there was a sale on, and bought everything I wanted in one place. I picked up a white and black pashmina while I was at it, in case the office was extra cold. BOOM: behold the Old Navy 2014 “I Ain’t Got Time For Fashion” capsule wardrobe.


Pull over sweaters, Rock Star mid-rise skinny jeans in black, navy and grey….. a perfect Fall-Winter capsule wardrobe. Bask in its glory!! For cold weather work life I needed 5 sweaters for 5 office days. I added in pashminas in case it was extra cold. I only needed three pairs of pants because I can rewear them during the week. Everything is in the same colour palette so it was possible to wear any top with any bottom, creating the illusion of variety. (Pro-tip, don’t assign an outfit to a work day, lest one of your coworkers swan past you saying “X is in her Adore sweater, it must be Tuesday”.)

Having done a capsule wardrobe which I faithfully wore for about 5 months straight, how would I rate the success of this? 8/10. My clothes were a no-brainer for a long time, and that’s exactly what I needed. This wardrobe was also good for the environment because I did a lot less laundry, and I still have all of the sweaters and pashminas (two years later, I’ve worn out the pants). Where this wardrobe loses out on 2 points is the all important “but did you look good”? NAY I DID NOT.

I’m a no-makeup person. I’ve got pale skin, long dark hair that’s always in a ponytail…. in my opinion, I looked really washed out because it was FREAKIN’ WINTER and I was too busy to put on makeup. It’s my opinion, going forward, that my winter wardrobes should not be based on neutrals, because I’m probably always going to be a bare-faced, no makeup person.  Also, big picture – it’s already winter WHY WOULD I DRESS LIKE WINTER ITSELF. People! We don’t need to blend into a winter landscape, this is freaking Canada. It’s unsafe to blend into Winter, you get stuck in a snowbank and no one will spot you for months. How many people have died because they accidentally blended in too much with a Canadian winter? Probably none but whatever. If your skin is going to fade to a neutral of its own, don’t wear neutrals. Wear colour, cheer your office workers up.

If I were repeating the experience again today (in the exact same way), here’s what I would choose.


YES! Reds and pinks are my favourite, I love them. They’re also cozy and warm looking, and they do well when they’re washed together. (Obviously the grey pants and navy jeans would be washed separately.) The red and pink wardrobe follows approximately the same idea as the 2014 capsule wardrobe, but with a better shawl, sweaters in better colours, Tshirts for hot fall days, and then a button down shirt because hope springs eternal for women. (“I’m sure this shirt will always stay pressed and won’t gape open over my boobs.”)

This year, I don’t need to make a capsule wardrobe. I won’t be buying the sample reds and pinks capsule above.  Since I have enough clothes for winter and I’ve got time to think ahead, I need to check for deficits in my wardrobe. I can think of two immediately: my winter coat and winter footwear. Having enough clothes means I can think about tackling these two issues.

First, my winter coat. I have a blind spot about my winter coat: I know it’s too big for me, it’s stained, the zipper has been broken for a long time, it makes me sweat on the bus, and because it’s too big I tend to feel horribly squashed when I’m on public transit. I need a new coat, but I love the one I have. Maybe I’ll come around if I think about it like this: it’s not that I’m buying something new that I don’t need, it’s that I need a more useful winter coat. I need a daily use winter coat that’s sensible for a commute. Maybe I need to finally fulfill a dream of mine to get a colourful, gorgeous coat that will look amazing in the winter and will make me happy for forever. J. Crew 2016 is where I went to find that coat, and they did NOT disappoint.


OH J.CREW you gorgeous beast with your overpriced wares. I love all of these coats and I definitely want the green one. I never wear orange (it’s not my colour) but that long orange coat is divine and I want it. I love the length and those buttons, and the collar. These jackets are so expensive that on a scale from one to “even”, I can’t. J.Crew offers a lot of sales and discounts if you sign up for emails from them, but even so. Can I justify buying one of these beauties if I don’t have to buy any other clothes this winter? Sure….. except I do have some needs. I need winter shoes.

I have flawless winter boots that are in great condition, but I have completely run out of shoes and boots I can wear with socks when it’s cold. I gotta deal with it.


It’s boot and ballet flat season and I got some work to do. (I’m being literal: I find shoe shopping hard work.) I am very picky with footwear, and it’s very hard to find sanely priced shoes that are an ideal fit. My footwear situation is bad enough that if even half of the shoes above fit me, I’ll be obliged to buy them.

Pray for me, on my ever so anti-Carrie Bradshaw quest to face shoe stores without screaming at sales staff. (……..also, please pray for the sales staff, they’re the real heroes here.)



About thirtyyearhouse

A lovely couple who lived in sin just for fun, but decided that fun is overrated and moved on to being married. Sold the starter home, bought the family home, currently about to die of excessive exposure to cardboard, ready to take on the world. There's also a dog called Zaphod. He's cuter than us by far.

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