Planning a Me-Made Capsule Wardrobe: Fall 2017

UPDATE: SEE how my fall capsule turned out here!

With fall right around the corner, I am already thinking of fall outfits and everything else fall. Flannels, puffy vests, leggings, comfy sweaters, and pumpkin spice lattes, are all the things of my dreams right now. (Even though it is literally just starting to get hot in Minnesota but whatever!)

And after loving having a spring/summer mini capsule wardrobe so much, I have been thinking about my fall capsule wardrobe and how I want that to look. I learned so much from doing my spring/summer capsule wardrobe that, thankfully, I am able to go into my fall planning with a much more critical mindset and a few more tricks my sleeve, which of course I am going to share with you!

I have worked out a two-part “system” for planning my own capsule wardrobes, part one being “pre-planning” and the second being “planning” (original naming, I know) that makes my pieces all work so much better together and give me the most possible outfit combinations. So grab a cup of coffee or tea and settle in because this is going to be a long one! 

Part one, pre-planning.

This is where we are going to work out the basics of what we want and need out of our capsule wardrobes. I *developed* (that sounds so fancy!) a series of seven really simple questions to ask yourself to guide you through the “pre-planning” stage of planning any capsule wardrobe.

Personally, I think these questions would be helpful to both those who are planning a capsule wardrobe for the first time ever and those that just want to simplify the planning process. They are meant to make you start thinking a little bit more critically about your capsule wardrobe plan and to give you a guiding light during the actual planning stage, something to refer back to if you will, so you can be assured you will end up with a fluid capsule wardrobe!

I have listed the questions below, along with my answers, but please keep in mind these are meant to be answered BEFORE you start thinking fabrics, patterns, or finishes and that your answers may be very different! 

  1. Where will I be wearing this capsule wardrobe? Work, home, play, two or more environments, etc
    1. My capsule wardrobe needs to work for both work, running errands, and lounging around my apartment
  2. What is the dress code like there? Dressy, businesses, business casual, casual, etc
    1. The more casual end of business casual and just plain casual
  3. What color scheme do I want to try for? 
    1. Neutrals (black, cream, grey) with some olive-y greens… and maybe a burgundy thrown in here or there if I’m feeling a bit adventurous
  4. How much am I willing to spend money wise for these items? 
    1. I want to shop my stash as much as possible and maybe I’ll throw an extra $20-$30 at it
  5. How much am I willing to spend time wise for these items? 
    1. As little as I can, honestly! I work two jobs and have a pup that enjoys  getting to go outside every now and then so the quicker the better!
  6. Are there any me-made pieces from a previous season I can re-purpose for this capsule? 
    1. Unfortunately not this time..
  7. Are there any RTW pieces that I am going to also want to coordinate with these pieces when all is said and done?
    1. I have some white jeans that I would love to include as well as a white lace dress

Part two, planning 

This is where were going to start thinking about patterns and fabrics more specifically and start to really design our capsules.

The Layout

For a mini capsule, I would personally go with a 3X3 Sudoku format. This method incorporates three tops, three bottoms, and three layering pieces into the maximum number of outfits in a quick and easy way. This method uses a blank Sudoku style  grid and strategic placement (shown in the picture below) to help figure out what styles, patterns, and fabrics, are going to be best for your wardrobe. It is important that you think about your capsule pieces within this strategic placement to make sure they will all coordinate into actual outfits. 

By using a grid like this AND strategic placement,  you are able to make a minimum of nine outfits from your nine pieces (which is actually quite a bit although usually I cam make many more outfits too!). To find your outfits you would “read” your capsule wardrobe much like a Sudoku puzzle, across, up and down, diagonal, etc, an example of which is below (each line being a different outfit).

Picking Patterns and Fabrics

This part can be very time-consuming and TBH I made about fourteen different drafts before deciding on my final fall capsule wardrobe plan. Honestly the best advice I can give you for this stage is to take your time, keep working at it, and take a break when you need to. This isn’t easy and doesn’t come natural for a lot of people. It can take a lot of critical thinking and will power but if you give it the effort it deserves, it will be well worth it in the end, I promise!

When working on your drafts be sure to keep in mind the answers to your pre-planning questions, however, in order to make sure you are making the best choices for you and your lifestyle. I also use a series of *follow-up questions* (also fancy!) from my pre-planning questions to help me gauge the pros and cons of each of the patterns and fabrics I am considering and how they fit into my over all plan. These questions would include but are not necessarily limited to…

  1. Is this a pattern I already own or do I need to buy it? (pre-planning question four related)
    1. If I do not own the pattern, do I have another pattern I can hack to make something similar? 
    2. How many different ways can I make or style the pattern? 
    3. Is there a chance it might go on sale eventually? If there is can I wait until then?
  2. Do I have the right fabric for this garment on hand or would I need to purchase more? (pre-planning question four related)
    1. Is it the right color, texture, drape for what I am envisioning? (pre-planning question three related)
  3. Is this a piece I could use for more than one season? (pre-planning question six related)
  4. Which “environments” can I wear this piece in? (pre-planning question one related)
    1. Does it fit the “dress-code” of that environment? (pre-planning question two related)
  5. How long will this realistically take me to make? (pre-planning question five related)

Once you have decided on fabrics and patterns it is time to plug them into your grid and have a good look over everything. Be sure to be thinking of how each outfit will look, where you can wear each outfit, etc. Spend some time playing around with wear you want each piece to sit in your Suduko grid to give you that maximum number of outfits.

Part three, take a nap!

My final plan is below and you can easily see how all of the pieces are in the same color scheme and work together very well. There is also a mix of dressy and casual pieces, meaning I can use theme same pieces for both work and play. *My capsule wardrobe plan is part of the fall Patterns for Pirates, Made for Mermaids, and Cole’s Creations, capsule contest so all of the patterns of from those designers.*

And that’s it! How do you plan your capsule wardrobe? Is there anything you think I missed? I would love to hear it so please share a comment!

Yall guess what?! This post has been so popular and so many of you have told be how helpful it was to you when planning your own self-sewn capsule wardrobe that we are turning it into a whole e-book! We are working on the finishing touches now but sign up below to be the first to be notified of its release, and to be eligible to get the book at a special release discount price!

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  1. Hi! Have just discovered your great blog. I love this concept for planning….where do dresses fit in – top or bottom? Or do you have another suggestion for those who like to sew dresses as well as separates?

    1. Hi Tracey and welcome! When I include dresses (which honestly is just about every capsule besides this one!) I usually put them in in place of a top. That way if my “bottom” is a legging or something similar I can still wear those two pieces together or I can just not wear the bottom on any given day and get even more outfits from my nine pieces!

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