Fall wardrobe & capsule planning

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By mid-summer, I was pretty desperate for fall to breeze on in and cut the humidity, but now that it feels like fall is in the air, I’ll admit I’m a little sad to see the sunshine waning. But what better way to embrace the changing season than a little wardrobe shift?

I feel like my original notes on using a capsule wardrobe planner to plan projects were rambly to the point of being unhelpful, so I thought I’d share my current wardrobe planning & project planning process in practice, broken into two posts.

Taking Stock

I find it’s helpful to start by getting a full view of what I already have. I printed out the Un-Fancy wardrobe planner (which is called Capsule, but doesn’t necessitate that you actually make a capsule wardrobe, if you’re not interested in that sort of thing) and decided to focus on planning for mid-September through end of November. In this part of the world, fall can be long meander toward winter, or a sudden plunge into cold, so I’m curious to see how well a capsule wardrobe will work. Using the planner, I’m framing the upcoming season in terms of:

  • Weather: I literally wrote “who knows?!” but most likely “crisp, breezy” and mid-70’s to high 40’s over the course of the next few months
  • Lifestyle: the largest portion of my pie chart is working, but I either work from home, at my co-working space, or at cafes, so it’s pretty casual. I want to continue biking and walking to work as much as possible, so that’s a consideration for my wardrobe, and then in my free time I have: sewing/knitting/dyeing project time, exercise and weekend adventures, and lounging.
  • Special events & travel: an exciting work trip to the east coast at the end of October, and then another fun work trip to the Bay Area in mid-November. My goal for both trips is to have a few simple options for looking put-together and representing sustainable fibers/textiles (or at least, not fast fashion).

With these factors in mind, I like to pull all my favorite things from my closet and any storage boxes, and into neat piles on my bed — whatever I’m most excited about gets pulled first, which basically fills the “pieces I own + love to wear” section of the capsule planner, I jotted those down, and then kept adding to the piles. I did this on a Saturday afternoon and made sure to open the curtains wide and put on some music I love, so I can see everything in good natural light and enjoy the process.

Then I turned around to my closet and looked at what was left, which generally fell into two categories: summery things that I want to save for warm weather, or things I’m not excited or able to wear. I made piles for donating, selling, or packing away different items, and then made piles for laundry (hand wash or block, gentle cycle, and regular) and mending to get everything into shape before moving on.

I used the capsule planner to note “pieces I own + never wear” which included two pairs of jeans that don’t fit well (selling & donating them), a vintage chambray tunic that I want to like but have never actually like the fit of (sell if possible), a Hemlock tee I sewed a while ago that has an awkward sleeve fit (alter), and some fancy dresses that hang in the back of the closet (donate and gift a few, keep two I’m not ready to part with).

Lastly, I took stock of the pieces I love and am keeping — do any need mending or alteration? Based on this selection, do I have any holes in my wardrobe? The obvious thing is that my favorite pair of vintage boots (purchased last fall) are totally destroyed and need to be re-soled and likely replaced sometime soon too (a cobbler actually told me that the boots aren’t worth fixing, but I’m unwilling to give in). Less obvious but notable on closer inspection is that my three favorite jeans have all ripped in substantial places in the last 6 months, and each has been mended, some more visibly than others. Since these are the only ones left, after parting with two that didn’t fit well, I want to prioritize more pants and skirts so I have something more durable, and presentable if needed.

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Capsule Planning

Overall, I really enjoyed my summer capsule wardrobe experiment (which I reflected on here), so I’m giving it another shot for fall. I already pulled together some inspiration from the fall styles I’m gravitating toward, but I used the capsule planner to expand it a bit:

  • Word association: layered, casual, creative, contemporary
  • Brands I admire: Elizabeth Suzann (minimal, chic), Lauren Winter (F/W campaign especially – creative, layered), Study NY (upcycled, quirky), Hackwith Design House (contemporary, minimal), First Rite (creative, “cool”), Caron Callahan (utilitarian, interesting)… I save favorites from these talented designers and more here.
  • Brands I draw from to make my wardrobe: Grainline Studio, Sonya Philip, Fancy Tiger Crafts, A Verb for Keeping Warm, Brooklyn Tweed, just to name a few.
  • Colors: neutrals (cream, black, natural/undyed tones) and grays (as noted here), deep indigo, and warm and bright accents in red, maroon, and yellow/mustard/gold tones

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My “top 8” pieces for this capsule are:

  1. Black silk blouse (thrifted)
  2. Ondawa sweater (handmade, details here)
  3. Hackwith Design House tunic (purchased at sample sale)
  4. Linen pocket tee (handmade, noted here)
  5. Khadi Prism dress (handmade, posted here)
  6. Chambray vintage dress (flea market purchase)
  7. High-waisted, cropped jeans (thrifted, modified)
  8. Sven clogs (purchased)

Based on my favorite pieces, what’s working for me? Definitely boxy, loose tops, either cropped or tunic-length; vintage denim and chambray; and details like split side seams, kimono sleeves, or dropped shoulders. Fabrics I love to wear are natural fibers including silk, tencel, denim, chambray, linen, wool and alpaca.

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Since I decided I wanted to go ahead with a full capsule wardrobe, I basically turned everything I had put onto the bed into that list:

  • 3 pairs of jeans & 1 pair of pants
  • 6 dresses (5 made by me)
  • 8 short-sleeved tops (4 made by me)
  • 6 long-sleeved tops (2 made by me)
  • 5 warm layers (all made by me: a cotton knit Linden sweatshirt, Escher sweater, Hayward sweater, Ondawa sweater, and Liv Light cardigan)
  • 2 jackets (1 made my me)
  • 4 pairs of shoes (sneakers, clogs, chelsea boots, loafers)

All of the above steps and contemplation laid the foundation for planning out a few items to add to my wardrobe, which will fit with my fall capsule, my goals of reducing my stash, and my love for making things. More on that next!

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Jess

making things & asking questions

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