Capsule Wardrobe, shopping and budgeting : How to manage your money and get the most from your purchases.

Dickens stole my look.

When I lost my long cardigan from Next at Rochester’s Dickens Festival I had to ask myself, “should I re buy this product or not?”

Most capsule wardrobe projects say no shopping for three months, but most allow that if an important item becomes damaged or un-wearable that you can replace it. For the past week or two I have been making pros and con lists as to whether this is a needed purchase or not.

In light of this I decided that it would be worth accessing my approach to the big issue, shopping with a capsule wardrobe.

So how do different capsule wardrobe projects approach shopping

Susie Faux (1970’s)

“A capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that will not go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces”

Now Susie who is accredited with starting the first capsule wardrobe was actually a London Boutique owner and you know what that means right? She wouldn’t have wanted you to stop shopping! Modern representations of this include “The 5 piece French wardrobe”.

Donna Karan (1985)

Donna Karan’s influential capsule collection featured seven interchangeable work-wear pieces and made the capsule wardrobe concept popular. Capsule Wardrobe’s are now not just about being a minimalist; in fact you can often see versions of the capsule in all types of places including publications like Vogue and designer collections. Most of these encourage shopping however since these exact items are often designed to work best together.

Project 333/Un-fancy

These two popular bloggers are often who we stumbled upon first when trying to make better sense of our wardrobes, so its no surprise that they share their shopping rules. Change your capsule wardrobe every three months and don’t shop during your capsule.

“3. I like shopping.
Shopping is fun for some and therapy for others, but when you look at the big picture there are better ways to get everything you need. If you participate in Project 333, you remove yourself from shopping for 3 months. It’s not permanent. It’s 3 months to give you the time and space you need to assess your shopping habits and see if they add value to your life or distract you from things that matter more to you.”

Project 333

A relatively easy rule to follow and yet most of the time I struggle with these, why? Because those three month breaks don’t always fall at the greatest shopping times.

When I decided to combine spring and summer it was February? Whenever it was it was really early and I told myself that I will do my last big shop at the end of March/early April only then there was still limited shopping available. I needed shorts and summer staples whereas the shops where only providing flimsy spring colours on garments that were of really no interest.

That was the interesting thing about having a capsule wardrobe. You start having less time and patience for every single trend and more time for the shapes and styles you actually need.

“Shop Less

Or just stop shopping all together until it’s time to remix. Use that time to hang out with your loved ones (or your dog.)”

Un-fancy (revised rules 2015)

Un-fancy in its original form also told its readers not to shop during the capsules but interestingly as Caroline’s blog and time spent with her capsules evolved you can see above that she too found this rigid structure not entirely to her liking and more than likely found it too limiting to be sustainable in the long run.

The five piece French Wardrobe via Into-Mind

This is year two of my shopping overhaul plan. I actually love this idea the best of all of the minimalist theories. Why? Because it’s maintainable and it’s main focus is developing a style, which combines your own basics whilst embracing trends and fashion as it evolves and changes.

“The 5-Piece French Wardrobe method perfectly aligns with a minimalist approach to personal style and, despite its strict 5-piece limit, does not require too much planning. The basic concept is that instead of spending money on-the-go throughout the year, you invest in 5 high-quality key pieces each season (S/S and F/W). A classic ‘quality over quantity’ approach. Basics do not count as key pieces and can be bought when needed or replaced if broken/worn out.

The 5-Piece French Wardrobe via Into-Mind

Therealjlow approach

Oh yeah, you heard me I’m having my own approach and it looks a lot like this;

Shop four times a year.

Shopping once in autumn and once at the beginning of summer. You could choose your own ideal times for this but my favourite clothes season is autumn, this year that will be October but it could be that the best month to shop in could be November or September but until I try I won’t know for sure. Taking in cues from other approaches I will try to limit my purchases to either five key pieces or less. Basics are exempt.

Make and Keep Lists.

Shop the two key sales, winter (post Christmas) and summer. I love a good bargain and I have found some of my best purchases in these two sales. To make these shopping times manageable and controlled I will make a list of exactly what items I wish to get from these times. For an example this summer sales I am looking for:

  • A White T-shirt
  • A black T-shirt
  • A full-length pair of slouched boyfriend jeans
  • Sandals for next year
  • A leather handbag
  • An interesting coat/jacket

I often find that this way of shopping is greatly beneficial for keeping me on the straight and narrow. It also keeps me in check with my overall wardrobe vision. I hate to make anything to uniform but I have also found that in my style journey that I am a natural hoarder of the same styles over and over again, that I often forget to stretch my style and these lists often enable me to focus on what matters in my closet.

Don’t be stringent when you fall in love

Many of the approaches that I have outlined above just say, no shopping or work with strong limits mostly because most of us have let our greed for something new get in the way of what matters when getting dressed in the morning. That you are excited by what your wearing, appropriate for the office and not buying products unrealistically.

I won’t be saying no no no but I will be limiting my exposure to shopping. Rather than giving in to just popping into Zara I will instead make myself wait and let a more natural shopping process happen instead. After all you never know when you might find something that fall in love with which you never planned for!

Save up continually for your purchases

For multiple reasons as of late saving has become a massive part of my life and I for one couldn’t be happier. There’s nothing better than being able to look at bank account and not being panicked about doing so! Not to mention that building savings for yourself and your loved ones is always a good idea. After all you never know what life might throw at you!


Susie Faux – Wikipeadia (totally a reliable source right?)

Donna Karan – 1985 Collection

Project 333

Un-fancy (revised rules 2015)

The Five Piece French Wardrobe via Into-Mind

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