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Minneapolis, MN

Welcome to Flock of Broads. Here you will find the musings of five smart gals affectionately called "The Flock", all currently based in Minneapolis, MN. From pie crusts to parties, beard oil to Beyoncé, fashion to fat pants, we cover life as we know it and even a few things in between. Pull up a chair and stay a while.

Building A Capsule Wardrobe

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Building A Capsule Wardrobe

Kate Sommers

Remember Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style? It was only on air for a split second, but I remember telling my friend Gus about Tim's brilliant idea of having fewer, nicer things. We both agreed this was a great idea, but as a 25 year old I was not committed. Waltzing into Target in my spare time I would always peruse the $8 clearance sweaters and say “oh, this is good enough” but then over these past few years some new players entered the game. I discovered and lusted over the bags made by Cuyana (who’s motto is actually “fewer, better things”). I’ve been swept up by the transparency and affordability** of Everlane. Then I stumbled upon Caroline from Unfancy, who shed some light on this thing called a "capsule wardrobe” (HT to Molly for introducing the concept to me). Finally, the simplicity I had been looking for

I wanted to start off the summer with a wardrobe of 30 or so items that I felt *good* wearing. After a pretty intense purge,  only a handful of items made the summer wardrobe cut: a jean jacket I had bought in Europe (in college), a “good enough” chambray, a few versatile t-shirts and tank tops and two pairs of shoes. That only got me about halfway through one work week. Enter every online sale that was spamming my inbox. In the end I spent $250 or so and was thoughtful about every piece I kept. I made sure every top could be worn with 4 bottoms. After a few weeks I was getting more comfortable mixing and matching. A month in, I was throwing on outfits without thinking. I got creative and took a few risks. I even wore shorts to work(!) … in corporate America(!!) AND I GOT COMPLIMENTS FOR DOING IT. In other words, I felt pretty good. I was totally sold on this capsule idea and at the beginning of August, I started preparing my closet for fall. 

Shorts to work!

Shorts to work!

Pause please, what is a capsule wardrobe exactly?

Lots of people have already answered this question, but instead of giving you a LMGTFY link, here’s my quick answer: you dedicate 37ish pieces of clothing to every 3 months of the year (that’s one capsule per season {MATH}). You can carry over clothes from your spring into summer etc, but the rest of your closet is not to be bothered with: Put it in a box in the basement or just fold it instead of hanging it. Getting those clothes out of sight helps to take away the guess work and gives you a small (yet ample) amount of shit you have to wash, hang, pack… get it? It’s simple and honestly, it’s pretty awesome. 

Before I jump into fall let me say this: In summer, this wardrobe thing seemed honestly quite easy.  All I had to do was throw on a blazer over my t-shirt and and suddenly I was work appropriate. Sandals and shorts are relatively cheap and easy to find at any old place and at the end of the day you just wear LESS clothing in summer. This made for some “dull” feeling outfits after time, but easy nonetheless.

Prepping for fall has been an entirely different venture. Autumn requires sweaters and layering and boots and tights and SO MANY OPTIONS. Oh, and did I mention I’ve gotten rid of 90% of my clothes? This involved a major commitment in both the time and financial categories. And as for inspiration, it didn't help all that much that Unfancy didn’t have a big corporate job to go to everyday or that she didn’t live in the frozen tundra (she was based in Austin, TX at the time). I’m not saying I can’t get away with wearing wool joggers to work, but I’m not saying everyone can necessarily do that either. This also meant that I did not include outerwear (the kind that actually keeps you warm) in my capsule, because as far as I’m concerned coats and winter boots in Minnesota are not to be limited. If you have the closet space, I say go crazy.

Hold up, you mentioned feeling dull in your clothing. Can you talk more about that?

It’s true, sometimes I did. But then I remembered the power of lipstick and accessories, not to mention reminding myself to simply change things up (read: shorts to work) makes things interesting again. In fact, I have NEVER in my life received as many compliments on my outfits as I have in the past three months. Dull be damned: if you plan accordingly, your capsule need not be dull. 

One shirt, three outfits

One shirt, three outfits

This all sounds good, but I’m kinda broke

Fair. Before diving down this path I committed a pretty hefty chunk of change into developing a wardrobe that would take me from late summer into early winter. This led to some re-discoverery of Pinterest as a place for fashion inspiration and I suddenly found myself pinning with purpose. Could I wear that outfit and feel confident in it? Does it match with other clothes I own or plant to invest in? Is it an actual item of clothing I could buy (sorry, not buying a $300 sweater) or is it aspirational? 

Candidly, I also started shopping for fall back in July. This helps spread the cost over the course of a few months, and because I was buying off season, I got some major internet deals, including a pair of clearance boots on Madewell for 75% off their original price. I realize this may not be of help to you if you’re trying to develop a fall wardrobe TODAY, but start committing to winter. Don’t give up hope. Maybe you have more things in your closet you’re excited to keep than I did. Don’t forget that eBay and other low-cost retailers are absolutely okay places to shop. Old Navy makes up 20% of my items (I know, I'm a mom) and their clothes are consistently 40% off. AND most of my Madewell shirts I got on eBay. The rest of what I bought was filled in with a few higher end items I was excited to splurge on. Since I won’t be shopping for instant gratification, I expect I’ll be saving quite a bit of money over the next 3 months. 

But I LIKE shopping… Is a Capsule Wardrobe really for me?

I like shopping too, but I also like a challenge and honestly don’t get as much time to shop as I’d like. Now shopping is about finding the new perfect shade of lipstick, a necklace that will make me look polished, or being on the hunt for the PERFECT item to replace one that is not quite up to snuff, and I’ll allow myself to add it to my closet this season. I find shopping to be far more satisfying when I finally find that one item I've been searching for for months

Give it to me straight, are there drawbacks?

This one is hard to answer. I’ve found myself a little too obsessed with this Fall Wardrobe. I spend downtime shopping online or scrounging eBay for the perfect item when instead I could be rotting my brain watching television (or, non-specific god forbid, reading a book). On the other hand, almost everyone I talk to about doing a capsule wardrobe gets excited about the notion. Most people are trying to declutter (if you need some magic with regard to that, give this book a try). Many people are overwhelmed by their closets and no one really knows what to do about that. The capsule helps tremendously. Maybe if you love color doing a capsule would be harder? I really went down the path of monochrome, but actually feel really good about that because lipstick changes everything. Also, unless you’re rich beyond my wildest dreams, the whole “fewer better" things mentality might need to be put on hold. As far as I’m concerned, ain’t nothing wrong with buying a $6 skirt from Old Navy if you actually like it and wear it, especially if that means you can splurge for a nice cozy cashmere sweater. It also means you keep track of and take really good care of your stuff. All in all, any of the drawbacks for me are balanced out by being thoughtful about what I’m buying. 

Resources for days:

Capsule Building Apps:
Stylebook allows you to actually BUILD a wardrobe within (worth every damn dime)
Polyvore is perfect for building your wardrobe inspiration (without having to spend a damn dime)

UnFancy (AKA, Queen of Capsules)
Capsule 101
Handy Dandy Capsule Planner
Fall Capsule (2014)

Hey Eleanor:
Closet Purge
Winter Capsule Retrospective

Project 333:
Guide to the 33 piece wardrobe

Internet, ETC:
Did I mention being obsessed? Check out my ever expanding Pinterest Board
Follow Flock of Broads on Insta for some awesome capsule selfies as we enter into Fall.
Diving into your first capsule and need a support group? That exists

Where to shop (because sometimes you just draw a blank):
Cuyana
Old Navy**
Madewell**
Everlane**
Trunk Club (yep, they're for ladies now too!)
J.Crew
Gap** 
Old Navy**
eBay**
Uniqlo
H&M
Amazon**
Dstld
Banana Republic
ASOS
F21
American Eagle (I won’t judge you)

**My Personal Go-To's

And finally, a huge visualization of everything in my closet for fall

*Much of Everlane’s offerings, including their t-shirts and cotton/canvas bags and silk shirts are wicked cute, well made and absolutely reasonably. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around a $300 tote bag though.