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Wardrobe Planner: DIY Capsule Wardrobe in 3 Steps!

A brand new job means a brand new wardrobe planner! Today I’m building a capsule wardrobe out of my own closet – no shopping required. Read on to find out how to create a cute look book out of clothes you already own.

Create a capsule wardrobe planner in three steps! Save time in the mornings and look polished and put together! #capsulewardrobe #planner #wardrobeplanner

I’m SO excited to have scored a great new position at the school right across the street. It’s been six years of at-home-momming and blogging, and I’m so ready to get back out there!

BUT as you can imagine, as a work-at-home mom, I spend most of my time in jammies and yoga pants. Rocking a mom bun on the daily.

Time to make a plan to look a bit more polished.

DIY Capsule Wardrobe Planner

First stop: researching capsule wardrobes.

If you’re not familiar, a capsule wardrobe is one that combines a limited number of items to make the maximum number of outfits. Most capsule wardrobes I found have at least 20 items with some going up to around 50.

The basic idea is to choose mostly neutral pieces with a few splashes of color that can be mixed and matched to create a huge variety of outfits.

I loved browsing all the capsule wardrobes online, but I had 2 problems with what I was seeing:

  1. None of them were exactly right for my job
  2. There’s no way I can afford 30 new, quality pieces of clothing today!

The job I’m starting is as a special education aide for a preschool classroom. So, while these classy gray and white wardrobes look beautiful, I’m going to need clothes that are more fun, more washable, more colorful.

And hey, it’s still summer. I’m not collecting a paycheck for at least a month. I can’t go shopping right now!

I knew I needed to DIY my own wardrobe planner.

Time to go shopping in my own closet. I found that I already own some good pieces that could be combined into great outfits. Outfits that fit MY needs and were already MY style.

I dug through all four seasons, and found that I had great stuff from last fall that I totally forgot about! Sound familiar?

There were plenty of clothes. Now I just needed a plan on how to use them.

Why Plan a Capsule Wardrobe?

But why plan a capsule wardrobe? I mean, my main plan for getting dressed in the past has been to wake up and pick out some clothes… Why do all this extra planning?

You need specific clothes for a specific function.
You probably already have more than, say, 30 items in your closet. But your closet full of clothes already consists of several mini wardrobes: workout clothes, casual and work clothes, and outfits for special occasions.

Capsule Wardrobe Planner

Sometimes your situation changes – you get a new job or take up yoga, for instance, and you need new clothes to fit that specific function.

Wardrobe planning saves time.
Before kids, I had time to shop around and pick out clothes each morning – even try on a couple outfits to see what works. Now? I have three kids to feed, wash, and clothe before 8am. I need to be able to pick out and put on a polished looking outfit fast.

A capsule wardrobe plan limits your options to only best ones, so you can make choices faster and still look great.

Capsule Wardrobe Planning: DON’T before you DO

This turned out to be a lot easier (and more fun!) than I anticipated. Surfing wardrobe sites was complicated and a little overwhelming. I found there was more advice that I did NOT need to take than solid advice that I did need.

You DO NOT need to buy a whole new wardrobe.
Start shopping in your own closet first. Look at those clothes with fresh eyes before you head to the mall.

You DO NOT need to copy an exact wardrobe you find online.
There are dozens upon dozens of wardrobe planning posts and videos online. You might come across something you absolutely love, but you don’t have to copy it exactly. Use it as inspiration!

You DO NOT need a complicated system.
Many of the capsule wardrobes online employ a complicated numbering system. Each item is numbered and each outfit is created by following a systematic numbering pattern. It doesn’t have to be all that hard.

DIY Capsule Wardrobe Planner

Now that you know what you don’t need to do, let’s talk about the three simple steps you can take to create your capsule wardrobe planner in just a couple hours.

Here’s a look at my finished product. Below are the three steps you need to get started!

Step 1: Define Your Wardrobe Needs

The first step is clearly defining what you need from your wardrobe. Think about these questions:

  1. What purpose does this wardrobe serve?
  2. How do you need your clothing to function?
  3. What style of clothing is appropriate for this situation?

Planning a teacher wardrobe:
For me, I need a wardrobe (1) appropriate for a classroom. It needs to be (2) flexible, washable, and allow me to move around freely. The wardrobe needs to look (3) modest and put-together with few accessories – a step above casual.

More examples, because I’m sure you’re not all going for that preschool position:

Planning a conservative office wardrobe:
You would need a (1) business formal wardrobe with (2) versatile, layered clothing that can go from a chilly office to lunch to the train home comfortably. You probably want outfits that are (3) mostly neutral with splashes of color, stylish, and neatly accessorized.

Planning a floor manager wardrobe:
There are a lot of supervisor jobs where you might be on your feet for long periods. You would need a (1) business formal or casual wardrobe depending on your company. Clothing that will be (2) comfortable to move in and won’t wrinkle throughout the day. You might be looking for a wardrobe that is (3) polished and put-together with accessories that are not too bulky or heavy and great, comfortable shoes!

Step 2: Make a Visual List

When you’ve defined what you need, it’s time to organize what you have. Go through your closet and pull out any items that fit your needs. Don’t worry about making outfits just yet.

Make a list of what you have by category. Here are a few examples:

  • Pants
  • Shirts
  • Skirts
  • Dresses
  • Sweaters
  • Outerwear
  • Items for layering

When you have a list of all the items that fit into your new wardrobe, it’s time to make a visual list.

Wardrobe Planner Step 2
Visual list of clothing items by category

I found photos of the items I own and a few look-a-like pieces online. You might want to take photos of your clothing.

When you have all of your items together, make a visual list. This could be created digitally (I used Canva) or you could take photos and keep this all in your phone (see alternative wardrobe planner at the bottom of this post).

Step 3: Create Your Outfits

Yay! It’s time to take all those pieces and create your wardrobe planner.

First, choose a category of clothing on which you will base your wardrobe. I decided on pants. I’ll be wearing pants every day, and they are easily the most versatile category of my wardrobe.

Next, create a page for each item in that category. I have seven pairs of pants, so I will have seven pages – each featuring one pair of pants.

Then, pair other clothes to create outfits. I felt like 4 outfits per pair of pants was plenty. This gave me 28 looks in all. You might want to create 2, 5, or even 10 looks. How many you can create depends a little on how much you have to choose from. Don’t be afraid to get creative and mix and match pieces you haven’t worn together before!

DIY Capsule Wardrobe Planner

Last, look for holes. At this point, you’re ready to do a little shopping. What’s missing from your wardrobe? Is there a piece or two that would add a great deal of versatility? For example, you might be able to create 10 more outfits if you added a black suit jacket or a pair of navy trousers. Shopping last to fill the gaps will save you money and time!

Putting Together Your Wardrobe Planner

It’s time to put your look book together! Choose what works best for your:

Option 1: Wardrobe Planner
Punch your pages and bind them with discs or insert them into a cute binder. Keep your planner handy in the mornings. You’ll be able to plan your outfits in just a glance! Use post it notes to cover up outfits you’ve already worn or just turn the page each day for all new options!

Capsule Wardrobe Planner

Option 2: Wardrobe Cards
Alternatively, you can cut out and laminate each of your looks to create card. Punch a hole in the top corner and keep them together with a binder ring. You can even mix up the order of your cards so each day all you need to do is flip the the next outfit!

Wardrobe planner cards

Alternative Wardrobe Planner

If you’re not feeling particularly tech savvy or this feels a little overwhelming to you, take a breath. There is an easy alternative that will get you the same results.

Fashion Show Look Book

If you don’t want to create a look book with digital tools, you can still DIY with pictures! Follow steps 1 and 2. Then, when you’re ready to create your look book, try a mix and match fashion show.

You can create your outfits systematically to get the most looks. For example, try on one pair of pants with 4 different top combinations. Take a selfie of each outfit. Then change your pants and start the next look.

When you’re finished, print the pictures or just keep them in your phone to scroll through in the mornings!

Where to go next:

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