how to build a spring capsule wardrobe for New England weather

My Spring 2016 Capsule Wardrobe

It’s springtime! The sun in shining! The birds are chirping! … And it’s cold one day and hot the next where I live! Here in northern Vermont it was warm and sunny yesterday, and it’s snowing today. Haha. My husband and I made the mistake of switching out our capsule wardrobes a bit earlier than initially planned because we were packing for a trip to California in late March. All was well and good until we got back to Vermont in early April and it was 20 degrees F outside. Ouch.

Even though the temperature is wildly fluctuating, most of the items in my spring capsule are starting to get some use. My husband and I loosely follow the Project 333 capsule rules and we count clothing, shoes, accessories and outerwear but do not count pajamas, lounge wear or workout gear. The actual number of pieces isn’t as important to me. I’m just trying to be as minimal and practical as possible. I think my winter capsule was actually around 30 pieces, and my husband’s was right around 33/34.

For Spring, I have 32 items in the rotation. This doesn’t include my socks/underwear/bras, tank tops that are just for layering and never worn on their own, pajamas or workout gear. I have pared down those items considerably in the last few years, though. I don’t have many duplicates. Many items listed below were also in my winter capsule. If you’re curious about which pieces are staying through the seasons, let me know and I’ll go through and mark those items in some way.

Here’s a list of everything in my closet (though not all of it is pictured.) I tried to keep a mix of items that I could layer for cold days but also be nice and comfortable on warmer days. I like reading about specific capsule lists, so I thought I’d throw mine in the mix. I’d love to know what you think – Should I keep sharing details about my minimalist wardrobe or is it too much? Shout out in the comments below!

I work remotely – from home some days and sometimes from a local coffee shop – and I’m running around after my 17 month old daughter the rest of the time. I started working remotely in 2013 and that changed my outlook on my wardrobe a lot. I do like getting dressed in “real clothes” everyday, though. It might seem silly to switch from a pair of pajama pants to a pair of black leggings and call it being dressed, but for me it makes me feel awake and ready to tackle the day. I know a lot of people take advantage of working from home and stay in loungewear 24/7 but that just doesn’t work for me. One thing I’ve realized about myself during this journey to minimalism and exploring capsule wardrobes is that it helped me stay true to myself while still being practical. I’m less aspirational in my clothing now (bye bye all the blazers and high heels I was holding on to from corporate life,) but I also have way less loungewear than I used to because I just didn’t like it or wear it that often.

The colors I gravitate towards in my wardrobe and in the rest of my life (seriously, my home is also these colors!) are: black, white, gray, olive/army green, navy and pops of warmer tones like pink and orange. This season I only have a slight “pop” of color in a magenta scarf and a pair of light pink pants.

Meredith's spring capsule wardrobe - monochrome and minimalist women's wardrobe ideas

Clothing:

Tunic tank top, perfect for mixing up items in your minimalist capsule wardrobe.

  • 1 white tank top with sheer panel, shown above (exact here*) …This is not counted in my # of pieces b/c it’s an undershirt only, but it’s a unique item that changes up the look of a lot of my other shirts, so I wanted to share.
  • 1 long silk tank top – for layering or on its own (find similar on eBay*)
  • Ponte knit fit-and-flare black dress (find similar on eBay*)
  • Long sleeve jersey knit navy dress/tunic (find similar on eBay*)
  • Spotted cropped blazer (similar here*) <— This is a piece I’m not so sure about. It’s a hold over from my corporate office life but I put it in the capsule to test out if I’ll use it in my current life. 
  • Beige sweater with sheer panel (similar here and here*)
  • Beige sparkly sweater (find similar on eBay*)
  • White eyelet 3/4 length sleeve shirt (find similar on eBay*)
  • Gray collared shirt (find similar on eBay*)
  • Black sparkly 3/4 length sleeve shirt
  • Black tunic (similar here*)
  • Black 3/4 lengthsleeve tunic (similar here*)
  • White zippered tunic (find similar on eBay*)
  • Gray henley (find similar on eBay*)
  • Blue henley
  • Green 3/4 length sleeve henley (similar here*)
  • Green drapey 3/4 length tunic
  • White lightweight open-front cardigan w/lace back (almost exactly like this one*)
  • Black wrap sweater vest (similar style here*)
  • Straight-leg jeans by Joe’s Jeans (Tip: try thredUp for higher-end denim in loads of styles – $20 off coupon: www.thredup.com/r/XOJGXH))
  • ‘Fancy’ joggers … haha yes apparently this is a real thing. I bought them last year and LOVE them. (find the ones I have on eBay*)
  • Black leggings (again, the ones I have and love from Splendid are easy to find on eBay*)
  • Cropped black leggings (find similar here)
  • Silk pants (find on eBay*) <— Another piece I’m not so sure about and am testing to see if I actually wear. They toe the line between cool and frumpy, but I think I’m digging them at the moment.
  • Light pink khakis (similar here)

Outerwear

  • Patagonia jacket (it’s actually the lightweight liner of my waterproof winter coat)

Shoes

Accessories

Meredith has a wide-brim hat in her spring and summer capsule wardrobes to add sun protection and style to any outfit. Choose a style and color that works well with the rest of your clothing for optimal use!

  • Wide-brim hat (similar here*, pictured above)
  • Silver ball/post earrings that I pretty much don’t take off
  • Two scarves – one is a chunky ‘infinity’ scarf in a magenta/cranberry color that looks surprisingly good with the other colors in my wardrobe, and the other is more of a ‘blanket’ scarf that I can wear as a shawl or wrap around – it’s navy and goes well with everything too.

I have only purchased two new-to-me items for my Spring 2016 capsule wardrobe. I’ve owned most of these items for years and can attest to their versatility and quality. Things that aren’t very good quality quickly get the boot in my house these days because I rely on each piece much more than I used to. I’m not saying you can’t buy anything at your local mall stores, but quality seems to be going downhill everywhere. I highly recommend checking out local consignment stores – I think you’ll be surprised at the quality and selection.

When I do decide to buy something brand new, I ask myself:

  1. Have I searched enough to try and find this item at a consignment shop (or online at thredUP, etc?)
  2. Is this item a perfect fit for my capsule (and future capsules?)
  3. Is this item high-quality and will last for many years?
  4. Is this item something that feels “right” to me, that fits my current style?
  5. What is the material – is it a natural fiber that can be reused or composted eventually?
  6. Where was the item made? By whom? (Note: While a ‘Made in America’ label doesn’t always mean good quality or well treated workers, I tend to prefer USA-Made pieces)

Throughout this post I do link if possible to where to buy the item I own or a similar item. I support shopping from your own closet/storage first, then shopping secondhand or on eBay for specific pieces and buying new as a last resort.

Let me know if you like hearing all the gory details of my capsules or if a highlights post with more detail on certain items would be more fun to read. I share for you…so I love to hear feedback! Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email, Instagram message or Tweet. Thanks for your help!

*Hi friends, just a heads up that this post contains scary affiliate links and if you click, a shark will EAT YOU. Just kidding! Clicking my links just means you like my site and like reading my recommendations. Your shopping experience doesn’t change, but I might get a tiny commission. Affiliate links are indicated with an asterisk like this* If you have any questions, I’m here to talk —> meredithtested@gmail.com … or leave a comment below. xoxo.

2 thoughts on “My Spring 2016 Capsule Wardrobe

  1. I would love to hear more! I’ve been thinking about doing this but have been kinda overwhelmed of how to start picking (the right!) pieces. So, this is great inspiration! What are some of your favorite versatile items?

    • It is SO hard to figure out what’s right for you. Have you checked out my post on “essentials lists”? You might like it. Here’s the link: https://meredithtested.com/2016/03/27/minimalism-and-the-problem-with-wardrobe-essentials-lists/ Basically I can’t tell you what is versatile for you, only you can. For me, versatile pieces can be dressed up or down, work with leggings or more structured pants and are a neutral color (well, neutral for me which can mean gray, white, black or army/olive green). I found that I had a lot of shirts that weren’t long enough for me to feel comfortable wearing with leggings so they sat unworn in my closet. I added a few long tanks and then started wearing more of my shorter shirts. But not all of them. So, the ones that I simply never wore went in a bin for donation. What made things start to click for me was thinking about which pieces I’d want to bring on a trip. Not necessarily a vacation or a work trip, but just a normal, everyday trip to visit family or friends. What would I want to make sure was washed and ready for me to pack? You’ll start to see certain pieces pop up again and again. Pieces that you love, fit you well and you feel good in. Maybe they’re not “exciting” or what you aspire to be like, but once you nail down what you actually like to wear and try to replicate that feeling, hopefully you’ll start to feel aspirational about your own style/life! At least that’s how it worked for me. Good luck on your journey and I’m around to chat any time! 😉

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