Starter Capsule Wardrobe

For me, the first rule for my capsule wardrobe was, clear out the clutter. Full disclosure: I really don’t have that many clothes. Over the years, I have been really good at getting rid of items I no longer wear, usually twice a year. I have always had a tendency toward buying “fast fashion” and items that I grow tired of rather quickly. These items get passed along to my sister, or donated (I usually try to find a charity that donates items to battered women’s shelters or similar charities for women).

For these reasons, my first capsule is what I’m calling a starter capsule. This is made up purely of items I already have, with the intent to thoughtfully reassess and intentionally replace and add to. My hope is that by removing all the junk I never wear, I will realize what I truly need and want in my wardrobe, and, come this fall, will be able to put together a seasonal wardrobe based on those needs. I don’t expect this to be easy (seasons in the Pacific Northwest are like, whoa, not predictable — we had 80 degree days in February this year, and are bound to have a 50 and rainy day in August).

So, without further ado, here is my introduction to the capsule wardrobe, my starter capsule…


(6) tops / (5) bottoms / (2) dresses** / (5) shoes


Grey & White v-neck tees / My grey v-neck is the love of my life, it’s a boyfriend fit, so soft and the coolest heather grey. I wear it with everything. My white one isn’t perfect: it’s a size down so it’s very fitted, not my favorite. I’ll be swapping this out with a looser-fit white tee.

Stripe tee* / I bought my current one in high school from Gap, but it’s seen better days. It needs to be replaced but I can’t find the perfect one. I want to replace this with two striped tops: a short sleeve with thinner stripes and a long sleeve with thicker stripes. I get a ton of wear out of my striped tee, so it’s worth having multiple (uniform, anyone?)

Strappy tank* / The one I have, I literally got for free when I worked for Nordstrom a few summers back. It has no brand/tag/anything. It’s a rusty orange color, silky fabric. I like it, but it’s not my favorite. I want to find something in a more neutral color in a similar shape. It is great for hot days though.

Chambray shirt* / Technically I have two of these right now: a looser fitting one from Stradivarius in Paris and a too-small one from Old Navy (I shrunk it by accident). For now, I want to replace the two of them with one really good quality chambray. I wear my chambray all the time.

Flannel shirt* / Mentioned earlier, the weather in Portland is unpredictable. A flannel is a must for us PNW gals. Mine was a $10 find at Forever 21, and I actually really love it. I’ll replace it with a higher quality one in the fall.

Black shorts* / I have some nice-looking pleated ones from Old Navy that I love. Keepers, for now.

Denim shorts* / Mine are actual cut-offs, and too small/tight. On the lookout for new ones, but denim cutoffs are a must have.

Dark denim skinnies* / Again, these are a high school Gap purchase. Totally worn out, desperately need to be replaced. Dark wash denim is a must, all seasons.

Black skinnies / This $20 pair from H&M are so comfortable, and a classic go-to. Someday to be replaced, but fine for now.

Maxi dress / Like sweats, but nicer. Mine’s not my ideal black maxi, but good enough for now.

Maxi skirt* / The one I have is a few years old from Forever 21, sheer with a brown/black pattern. Will be replacing, because a light maxi is perfect for summer days (especially when your legs aren’t shaved, let’s be real), but this one isn’t quite my style anymore.

Grey and black ankle boots / I don’t know how necessary these are for summer, but they are literally my nicest shoes, and I included them because I wanted to. I’ll reassess later. (Thinking about these…)

Tan and black sandals / I’d be willing to replace both pairs with a pair of new tan leather sandals. My beloved tan sandals from H&M are falling apart, and the black aren’t 100% my style anymore.

White Converse / The best beat-around shoes ever. Mine are horribly dirty, which is fine. I’d like to add another pair of (cleaner) sneakers, though.

* Actual item is too old and not pictured, similar image shown. Actual items linked when available.
** I forgot to include one of my favorite pieces above! Shoot. I have this striped dress from Target (last summer) that I really love. It’s a bit thin so I just have to wear the right undergarments, but it’s so comfortable and is very versatile. I’ve worn it summer and winter.

  • Lauren K.

    This is one of the best summer capsules I’ve ever seen and I thank you for it. Plus, the Target shirts are so cheap! This is exactly what I was looking for!

    • thanks, Lauren! I try not to shop at Target anymore, in an effort to shop from more ethical and sustainable producers. Check out Everlane for great, affordable t-shirts if you haven’t already!

      • Lauren K.

        Oh, will do! Thank you. I also use ThredUp, which is great.