Capsule Wardrobe | Winter 2016

Welcome to the first installment of my 2016 capsule wardrobe challenge. If you read my intro to this blog series, you’ll know that I’m encouraging myself to “do more with less” this year, and I’m diving in wardrobe first. (Learn more about capsule wardrobes and the reasoning behind them at

One of the main reasons I decided to create a capsule wardrobe was to find a better appreciation for the clothes I already have. I wanted to give some of my least-worn pieces a chance to shine and fill in the “gaps” (real or imagined) I had in my oversized wardrobe.

After sorting through my closet and giving some thought to the kinds of clothes I actually wear day-to-day (note to self: your spandex, club outfit opportunities are slim to none), I was able to make some clear keeps and cuts. I was also able to rediscover pieces I seldom wear and put them to work in in a particular category (i.e. office attire, weekend wear, or night-out looks).

While finding excuses to shop was not my goal here, I did find a few holes to fill, particularly in the office category. Temperatures in my office often range from arctic freeze to hell-fire status over the course of a day, which makes layers key. I was lacking some work-appropriate layering options, so I shopped, but with a few rules in mind:  

  1. Buy items with a clear purpose that fill a gap. No impulse purchases or buying duplicates of pieces I already have.
  2. Shop responsibly. Purchases should fall into one or more of these categories:
  • Domestically manufactured
  • Vintage or second-hand
  • Fair trade certified
  • Naturally dyed
  • Made using organic or eco-friendly fabrics
  • Cut from a little to no-waste pattern
  • Vegan or cruelty-free
  • Super sturdy and built to last a lifetime

Honestly, second-hand shops and consignment boutiques are my first choice these days. Any item I buy there automatically meets one of my shopping criteria, and is usually less expensive than a conventional retail purchase. This, with my finite twenty-something’s budget, is a conscious option I can afford. Shopping second-hand has also introduced me to some less obvious brands that check off other boxes, like domestic production or eco-sensitive materials. (Get familiar with the materials listed on clothing labels when you shop.)

Obviously, the more categories each item fits into, the better, but I try not to beat myself up about it. I’m a firm believer in the “best you can, when you can” mentality. Baby steps people.

That said, here’s what I came up with for Winter 2016. It’s made of 38 pieces (15 tops, 6 bottoms, 3 dresses, 6 jackets, and 8 pairs of shoes) that I look forward to wearing and will (hopefully) suit my lifestyle. It’s still a little bigger than I anticipated, but it’s a step in the right direction for me. I’ll talk more about the individual pieces in future posts.

This will be a year-long challenge, and as it progresses, I have some hopes. I’ve already noticed that a capsule wardrobe makes getting dressed easier. Because there are less options to choose from and I know the options better, pulling together a decent outfit takes less time. I’ve also started to realize the kinds of outfits that consistently look, feel and function best. By the end of the year, I hope this helps better define my personal style so I can start saving for more ethical, high-quality staples that will work for years to come.

That’s it for this installment! Check back in February for an update on how this capsule is holding up, and a peek at some of my favorite looks so far.


IN THE MEANTIME, join me at the Redress x Beehive Collective Clothing Swap this Sunday, January 24th at 2pm inside King’s Barcade ($5 at the door). I’ll be bringing some of my well-liked, but least-worn items to share. It’s a great place to find friendly homes for your pre-loved clothes and score some new duds on the cheap! See you there.


About the author Carrie is Redress’s long-time graphic designer. She loves good local eats, her rescue pup Daisy, and still thinks that dress was white and gold.

About the author

Carrie is Redress’s long-time graphic designer. She loves good local eats, her rescue pup Daisy, and still thinks that dress was white and gold.