Every year I swap out my spring and summer wardrobe with my fall and winter items. I pull the box out from underneath my bed and go through all the sweaters from the year before. Without a doubt, my style always changes. While I don’t get rid of everything in my winter collection from year to year, I do find myself building brand new capsule collections for every season. That’s the fun part about a capsule wardrobe — you can mold and shape your style for the season while not having to feel overwhelmed with the options in your closet.
What is a capsule wardrobe? It’s anywhere from 10 to 30 items that all work together to form different outfits. Think of it as your favorite, tried and true items that you want to wear every single day. And, yes, you can find those items at the thrift shop. In fact, with a few tips and tricks, you could find your entire capsule collection in one trip.
The key to building a capsule collection is all about mindset.
You have to get out of the mindset that you need to own something because it looks good. It might be the cutest shirt in the world, but is it practical? Does it work with other items in your closet? Can you see yourself wearing it someplace other than Instagram? Building a capsule wardrobe is about the feeling that you get when you’re in the clothing. You’ll feel like your truest self and you won’t want to take the item off once it’s on.
There are plenty of brands that you can shop to build your own capsule wardrobe. Heck, VETTA CAPSULE creates an entire 30-outfit wardrobe for you with just five pieces. The only catch is that it will cost you about $500 to buy the entire wardrobe.
When you shop at the thrift shop, you have to do a little more digging but save a whole lot of money. My own wardrobe is proof that it is possible. Yes, there will be some items that just don’t work. (I show you my hits and my misses over on Instagram.) If you’re up for the challenge, try these three tips to build your very own thrift capsule wardrobe.
1. Know your personal style.
If you’re thrifting for your perfect 10 to 30 piece wardrobe, you need to first know what your personal style is. The number of options at the thrift store can be overwhelming, even if you’re a pro. There is everything from vintage prints and patterns to classic staples and everything in-between. It’s all sitting there on the same rack — not divided into sections like it would be at a department store.
Before you head into the thrift shop, get a clear picture in your mind of what kind of capsule collection that you’re looking for. Are you a minimalist? Do you want tons of colors that go together? Do you want mainly staple pieces with a few out-there looks? Anything goes when it comes to personal style, but it’s overwhelming to try and figure it out while you’re trying to build a capsule wardrobe. Baby steps, my friend.
2. Grab a notebook and get planning.
Nothing great in life comes without a little bit of planning, and thrifting is the same way. When you’re building a capsule wardrobe, it’s important to know what you want. The key is to do this on a piece of paper — not saved pictures on Pinterest or Instagram. By all means, print and paste and get creative with it. But sit down with a pen and paper and write down the items that are important for you to have. Of course, leave some room to get creative too.
I am a firm believer that you can manifest anything in your life. I cannot tell you how many times I have written down, pictured, collaged items in my notebook and found them at the thrift shop the exact same week. The mind is a powerful tool.
There’s also the added bonus that having a list in front of you at the thrift shop is a great tactic. When you get knee-deep into the sweater section, it’s nice to have a reminder to move on to t-shirts or skirts.
3. Try on everything.
Yes, I mean everything. Grab a cart at the beginning of the thrift trip, fill it with every single item that you think might work for you, and try the items on. Get over the fear of trying on secondhand items, because you will not know which items you should have in your closet until you try them on. It’s as simple as that.
It’s one thing to see an item on a hanger or see it on someone’s Instagram. It’s a completely different thing to feel it on your body.
You will know when an item should be a part of your capsule wardrobe by the feeling you get in the fitting room. You will quite literally get excited to wear the item. You’ll start pairing it with other items that you threw in your cart and imagining wearing the items to work or school or whatever life event you have. Trust me, the feeling is real and it is exciting.
Thrifting an entire thrifted capsule collection is possible. It might not happen overnight, but if you know your style, plan, and aren’t afraid to try on a whole lot of items, you’ll be on the way to the closet of your dreams.
Bonus tip: Wear items that you love to the thrift store.
If you already have a few items that you know are going to be staples in your thrift capsule collection, wear them when you go shopping. It is so much easier to envision what items will work for you if they work with items that you already own.
I recently set aside an afternoon and start building my winter capsule wardrobe collection for myself, and I used this tip when I went. The jeans and boots that I’m wearing in my photos are two of my favorite items in my closet. It was a heck of a lot easier to know which items were right for me when I could already see them styled. I got all the above items plus one more in one trip. And guess what? I had a photo of that wool jacket in my journal. I just so happened to find it in my size for $6. The black cashmere sweater, staple burgundy long sleeve tee, 100% cotton white sweater, and a thick, oversized gray cardigan is a third of my capsule wardrobe found all in one trip.
If I can do it, so can you.