Now that you’ve purged your closet and identified specific needs, it’s time to shop for just the right pieces to fill in the gaps of your new Capsule Wardrobe. If you’re like me, you want an awesome wardrobe while sticking to a budget. You also want to be efficient–who has time to shop for days, hunting down the perfect sweater / skinny jeans / boots?
Today I’ll share my favorite sources for an awesome Capsule Wardrobe on a budget, plus tips for making the right choices the first time around.
How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe – Part Two
STEP 3 – SHOP
Now comes the fun part: shopping for new pieces to complete your Capsule Wardrobe.
1. Prep work
The more time you spend on Step 2 (identifying specific needs), the easier Step 3 will be. I promise. It’s sort of like painting a room: the more prep work you do, the better the results.
2. Heck yes
When trying on clothes, ask yourself if you love this shirt / pants / dress or if it’s just meh.
- Does it fit well?
- Is it comfortable?
- Can you wear it with at least 5 other things in your closet?
- Do you love it?
If it’s not a “heck yes” then it’s a “no”. I’ll be honest–this step is still a bit of a struggle. It’s a learned skill, and I’m getting better at it…
For me, the goal is to practice wise stewardship, to achieve a balance of the following areas:
Is my wardrobe the most awesome collection of clothing ever? Did I get the absolute best prices? Did I shop as quickly as possible? Do I legitimately need every single item in my closet?
But I strive to get the best, most streamlined pieces I can find in the least amount of time at the best prices available. I want enough pieces to mix and match and not have to panic about laundry turn-around-time.
Every single time I open my closet, I want to find clothes that fit me well, that are clean and ready to wear and that coordinate easily. I want to get dressed quickly without spending much brain power putting together outfits. I want to look great and feel great and be dressed appropriately for any occasion.
During the last 2 weeks of the season, shop for the next season’s Capsule Wardrobe.
Online shopping: make your list of specific items and either set aside a block of uninterrupted computer time or keep the list handy and work on it little by little during spare moments. Set a deadline for yourself.
Bricks & mortar shopping: mark it on the calendar, make childcare arrangements, map out your route. Be efficient, be decisive.
These are the sources that work best for my style, budget and location…
Platos’ Closet is my favorite best-kept secret source for an awesome wardrobe on a budget. We lived near a Plato’s Closet in Texas and I LOVED it, so I was thrilled to discover one near our new home in Northern Virginia.
It’s like a cross between a shopping mall and a thrift store: you’ll find carefully curated, mostly brand-name second-hand pieces in great condition at a fraction of the cost you’d pay for brand new items.
Granted, the chain definitely caters to the teen crowd. If you’re a mom like me, you’ll likely be the oldest customer in the shop and the friendly cashier will look at you blankly when the conversation turns to the fact that the last time you set foot in the shop was almost two years ago, because, well, you had (another) baby and there is an obvious lack of maternity options. Ahem.
Personally, it doesn’t bother me, and I’ve always had amazing luck at Plato’s Closet. I normally plan to spend several hours there, combing the racks and then painstakingly trying on each item and combination of items.
Shopping at Plato’s Closet (or any second-hand shop) requires creativity and flexibility. If you love the jeans but need a different size or color, you’re out of luck. Each item is pretty much one-of-a-kind. It’s actually part of what I love about shopping at Plato’s Closet–the creative challenge!
If you’re curious about which pieces of my own Capsule Wardrobe came from Plato’s Closet and the prices I paid, be sure to check out my master wardrobe list in the next (and final, I think) Capsule Wardrobe post, coming soon…
I have mixed feelings about Old Navy, but in the end, quite a few key pieces of my wardrobe come from this humble cousin of Banana Republic and the Gap.
I love Old Navy’s prices, especially combined with special sales and discounts. I also love the option to shop online and return items to the store. Such a time saver for busy moms of littles! I often order two sizes of the same item, try them on at home, and return the one that didn’t fit.
What I don’t love is the quality of certain items. I don’t recommend their T-shirts or anything made of thin jersey material–they tend to shrink and lose shape.
I’ve had the best luck with sturdier fabrics like jeans, flannels, cardigans, certain tunics and certain dresses. After you’ve shopped there for a while you start to figure out which fabrics will hold up fine and which ones will be a waste of money.
We happen to live near an outlet mall where my normal stops include LOFT, Gap, Banana Republic, Eddie Bauer and Old Navy. Just like regular stores at the mall, outlet stores are easy to scan for the specific items you’re looking for and if you time it right, the prices can be significantly lower than at the shopping mall. Plus you get lots of exercise and fresh air!
I used to shop almost exclusively at thrift stores, back when I had more time and less money. Again, it was quite the creative challenge. Ah, the thrill of the hunt!
These days, with three busy boys who require schooling, feeding, washing and such, I have way less time and a bit more discretionary income. While I still love to shop at thrift stores, I rarely have the opportunity to do so. It’s just not the most efficient use of my time.
Long ago, I would turn up my nose at the thought of wearing clothes from Target. Which is slightly funny, right? because I’ve always loved shopping at thrift stores. Seriously, though–if I could pay $5 for a Banana Republic sweater in great condition, why pay $10-30 for a cheap one from Target?
Since then, however, a few things have changed.
- Better quality – I really do think the quality of Target’s clothing lines has improved.
- Time – I get it now. I’m a mom, I have zero time to shop, at Target I can kill multiple birds with one stone. It’s a beautiful concept.
I now wear Target clothes with pride: a few of my favorite shirts say “Merona” on the tag.
My own closet
Several key pieces in my Fall / Winter Capsule Wardrobe came from my own existing collection. Score! The cheapest pieces of clothing are the ones you don’t have to buy! I’m guessing there are at least several items in your own closet that will carry over to your new Capsule Wardrobe.
6. Learning curve
Give yourself grace as you learn. Don’t be afraid to retire or return a piece that never quite worked out. Learn from your mistakes; hone your instinct.
You likely won’t achieve the perfect Capsule Wardrobe the first or even the second time around, but it’s okay. You’ll still be taking huge steps in the right direction, and you’ll get better and better at knowing your style, finding the best sources and making great wardrobe choices that will save you time, money and sanity.
Are you ready to shop for the missing pieces that will complete your streamlined Capsule Wardrobe? You can do it! Do the prep work, be brutal with the “heck yes” method, strive to achieve the best balance possible, dedicate actual time to the process, determine your own best sources, and then enjoy the results!
I can’t wait to hear about your experience!
The Capsule Wardrobe Series
- My Capsule Wardrobe Project
- How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe – Part One
- How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe – Part Two
- My Winter Capsule Wardrobe