If shopping is your favorite go-to hobby, or if you’re obsessed with the latest trends, then making a seasonal capsule wardrobe may feel overwhelming. But did you know that simplifying your clothing will help you to appreciate what you already own, and make sure you actually wear all of it? For real.
The RealReal has been helping fashion-forward customers stock their capsule wardrobes since the minimalist movement became a thing.
It is possible to create a seasonal collection of intentionally chosen clothes.
It is possible to pair down your wardrobe to any number of items (to find the perfect number may take some tweaking)
And when you do, it will be possible to finally stand in front of your wardrobe and avoid that dreaded feeling of not having anything to wear.
Eco-Consciousness of a Seasonal Capsule Wardrobe
It’s estimated that women wear a piece of fast fashion seven times before tossing it. Low-quality clothes are built to be destroyed, sending you back for more and begging you to spend your money on high trend cheap frills.
What’s more, is that it can take up to 100 years for a discarded fast fashion frill to decompose in a landfill. It’s also environmentally unfriendly to make and ship.
To fully embrace minimalism means being a bit eco-aware of the choices you’re making in your wardrobe. Where it’s made, how it’s shipped, and the quality of the fabrics.
When you begin to downsize your wardrobe into items that you love the most, it’s important to consider higher-quality pieces among those choices.
Consider investing in luxury on-trend pieces or higher quality classic items to ensure a successful seasonal style capsule.
It may feel like an out of reach expense, but the long term savings can be extremely beneficial. It can also keep you in quality over quantity, which is the entire point of building a capsule wardrobe.
High-quality crafted designer goods have proven the test of multiple wears and washes. Spread out over the length of the garment, the cost per wear is usually significantly lower than the seven-wear-max of a fast-fashion piece.
Be sure to choose designer goods that can be consigned. The RealReal tends to pay up to 80% the original cost, making the total end cost much lower in the end.
Here’s how to create a RealReal seasonal capsule wardrobe that will make you feel inspired. Your clothes will feel fresh, and you will change your experience of shopping in your own closet for what to wear every day.
Phase 1: The Purge
Have you ever tried to clear out your closet and felt totally emotionally overwhelmed at the idea of “getting rid” of some of your most beloved but unworn items? This is arguably the hardest part of curating a seasonal capsule wardrobe. But have faith, once you get through this, it’s going to start feeling so good.
Most closets are a culmination of years of collecting clothes through various seasons of life. A smattering of pieces that no longer fit are long out of style (and may never come back), mixed with some items that are worn regularly.
It’s estimated that the average person only wears about 20% of the clothes they own. This is why purging unnecessary garments is the first and most crucial step in building a capsule wardrobe.
Channel your inner Marie Kondo and make a giant pile of all your clothes.
The psychological benefits of seeing what you actually own can be eye-opening. It can also trigger a lot of emotions.
Just know that this is part of the process, and it’s important to let those emotions rip. Many of the clothes have memories attached to them. These can be both good and bad, and for some, the idea of saying goodbye to those memories can be hard.
Step Two of the Purge: Piles
Kondo recommends holding each item in your hand and asking yourself if it sparks joy. If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t (and you’ll know pretty quickly), put it in a donation pile or a discard pile. If it’s a quality garment that could be consigned, make a separate resale pile.
You could make four separate piles if you’d like:
Love A lot – for items that you wear frequently, are special items that you adore and can’t imagine not owning, or staple pieces that you know you can get a lot of wear out of. You’ll know it when you see it. They’re the things you love the most.
Like (Maybe) – Consider a “like” pile for items you’re not sure you want to keep. Some professional organizers suggest boxing this pile and revisiting it in a few months to see if your thoughts have changed. It also allows you to pull out a “liked’ item if you find that you do, in fact, want it back in your wardrobe.
Resell – These are clothes that are still in great shape, show no damage, and that could be resold to a company like ThredUp or The RealReal. The option of reselling an outdated older item allows it to go back into circulation for another potential owner, and for you to make some money again on that initial investment.
Discard/Donate – These are the clothes that are damaged, ripped, broken, or missing buttons or embellishments and can’t be repaired. Items that you know for sure you’d never wear again.
Step Three of the Purge: Inspection!
We value the quality of our items at the RealReal and understand that some things just can’t be repaired or altered or fixed.
But others can be brought back to life with a quality tailor or professional.
Be sure to make a pile for the tailor, the cobble smith (who also can repair handbags!), the horologist, jeweler, and any other items that may require an expert touch.
Phase 2: Create Seasonal Piles
This step is a bit contingent on where you live and what the seasons are like. For those who live in a temperate climate, you may only have two seasons ( a fall/winter and a spring/summer).
There will be some pieces that you can wear in every season. This may include a classic pant, or mix and match suit tops/bottoms. Some shoes you will likely be able to mix seasons with, as well.
These can certainly be part of an “every season” pile.
But generally speaking, you’ll want to stick to traditional seasons, at first.
This is the fun part of creating your capsule wardrobe. Start with the season you’re currently in, but be mindful of overlap with other seasons.
Alternatively, instead of seasons, you could sort your capsule into quarters: January through March, April through June, July through September, and October to December.
Depending on the climate where you live, you may need to shift it up or back a month.
The first year of your seasonal style capsule will tell you a lot about what you actually need to wear and how to think about things in subsequent years. What works one season, may not the next.
Know that you can always make changes. There are no rules in seasonal capsules, except for the rule that you love it and that it contains clothes you actually wear.
Be ready to fill gaps in your wardrobe with additional pieces. Consider searching the most recent listings at The RealReal for seasonal classics. You could also find additional missing items that will round out your capsule.
Alternatively, after the season is over, it’s recommended to re-evaluate what you actually wore to find any pieces that don’t have room in your style capsule next year.
Consider selling unworn clothes to upcycle them and give the item another chance.
After you’ve made your seasonal piles begin to make outfits out of the clothes. This will help you find gaps such as a perfect shoe to pair with a summer dress or a light sweater for a spring capsule.
The idea is to get as much out of each item as possible. If you notice that a new blouse may be helpful to add for more variety, make a note and treat yourself later from all this hard work.
Pack the other seasons in storage boxes, vacuum seal bags, or under the bed boxes.
If you have additional storage outside of your closet, this is ideal. You don’t want to be tempted to retrieve an item from another season’s capsule quickly.
Don’t forget to include shoes, jackets, coats, bags, and accessories. Minimizing your choices for a season will make the rest of your jewelry and bags feel brand new when you rotate into a new season.
Phase 3: Rotate Seasons
As your date to rotate seasons approaches, you’ll want to take a few steps to make sure you’re ready for the changing of the capsules.
Inspect all of the outgoing season’s items for rips, tears, damage, or stains. Repair as necessary.
It’s also a good idea to evaluate these outgoing pieces for the following:
- How often did you wear it?
- How useful was it within your capsule wardrobe? Were you able to mix and match it with many different styles?
- How much do you like wearing it?
- Does it fit well?
- What condition is it in? And how likely is it to make it through another season?
- How likely will you wear it next year?
Be sure to keep year-long items in your main closet. Things you frequently wear and during every season but scrutinize them with the same careful consideration.
Pull out the next season’s box and re-inspect the items. Make sure you love all of the ones you’ve stored. If there are any that you don’t think you like anymore, or that may not be practical for the season or for your wardrobe, get ready to sell it or donate.
You’ll want to ask yourself the following questions as you pull the items out and put them in your closet or dresser:
- Is this ready to wear? Can I throw it on and go today?
- Are there any items missing from this seasonal capsule?
- Any glaring gaps in pieces that need to be filled?
- Do you need to add any accessories, jackets, or shoes to keep your capsule looking updated and on-trend?
Be sure to evaluate the current season for any gaps in new pieces. This is also a great time to consider buying that must-have trend.
A Case for Season-less Items
While you assess your seasonal items, be sure to look through your staple closet pieces using the same questions.
You’ll want to be sure to keep only items (including things that you wear often) that are in good quality. Items that aren’t damaged or stained, and make you feel like a million bucks every time you wear it.
Don’t forget to check your exercise clothes, shoes, bags, pajamas, and jewelry!
Take Care With your Luxury Items
While designer goods are made to last a lifetime, they won’t make it unless you take care of them. Please don’t handwash Dry Clean Only items. Please don’t launder hand wash only clothes. Follow the labels to the letter, and you’ll see your pieces last much longer. It may require a bit of effort, but it will pay off in the long run with more wear and usage.
Expect to dry clean a shirt after two or three wears and pants after wearing up to five or six times.
Re-sole older shoes to keep them in step before giving them up, and store your handbags in dust bags when not in use to protect them from light exposure. If you’d like to protect a high-end bag even further, consider wrapping a handle in a scarf or light fabric to protect it from the oils from your hand.
When it’s time to resell your well cared for pieces, you’ll find that consignment buyers are keen to position a top commission for something that’s been so well maintained.
By pairing down and being mindful of clothing choices, you can create a rotating capsule wardrobe with help from The RealReal that will keep you in style and comfort for seasons to come.
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