Creating A Capsule Closet Part 2: How To Define Your Personal Style

photo via  Jess Ann Kirby

photo via Jess Ann Kirby

Creating A Capsule Closet is a mini-series chronicling how Spire & Co's founder, Emily Raleigh, is creating a capsule wardrobe and how you can, too. For part #1, click here.

In trying to build a capsule wardrobe of my own, I read a lot about how other women had created theirs. But most of these accounts were by fashion and lifestyle bloggers–it was their job to have a defined personal style. As for me, yes, I know what I like but I hadn’t exactly fully fleshed that out. And if I was going to have a pared-down wardrobe, I surely would need to have some consistency in the style. Plus, as I said in part #1 of “Creating a Capsule Closet,” a wardrobe should be a reflection of who you are in clothing format. I wanted to do that myself.

So I had some work to do.

I like looking at processes like this as a pathway to knowing more about myself. What choices do we make without thinking, “Is this my aesthetic?” or “Is this original enough?” I wanted to get a better sense of my subconscious' take on my personal style.

Step 1: I reflected on my current inventory.

The first thing I did was head to my current closet. I pulled out the items I most commonly wear. I quickly realized they were all either rich colors or were paired with a rich-colored item. They had looser fits. They had an ease to them. And most importantly, they worked with my very short stature.

There was a consistency in what I already wore. It wasn't all about the similarity in the hues or the brands noted on the tags. What made this particularly insightful was that I could uncover these little details about myself, and perhaps the “why” behind my current clothing choices. In the age of blogging and Instagram filters, we can all feel this need to define “our personal brand,” whatever that may mean (clothes or otherwise). But maybe we don’t have to paint a new picture of what makes us who we are. Maybe it’s more like a puzzle and we just have to pick up the final pieces to see the full picture.

I could see the commonality in the loose-fitting, flowy elements, an ode to growing up by the beach perhaps. The rich colors reminded me of what one of my best friends joked about long ago, “Emily's style goal is to dress as close to a Christmas ornament as possible.” (With a birthday on December 22, you could say being a super fan of Christmas was part of my DNA.) The bottom line was that I could see myself in the subconscious choices I was making. And that feeling certainly doesn’t begin or end with our closets. 

From this process, I’ve learned that if we consciously take note of our decisions, we may be able to understand more about our true selves and all that influences and inspires us.

Step 2: I filled in the blanks with inspiration.

I used these newfound discoveries to map my path forward. I now knew a little bit more about my style at its “natural state.” I could use that to make choices that expanded upon that knowledge (and expanded my wardrobe at the same time).

My next move was to collect some inspiration. Some people swear by mood boards. Others are devout Pinterest curators. And as for me, lately, I’ve been a big fan of Instagram Collections. It’s a platform within Instagram that allows you to save Instagrams of yourself or others into categorized folders, all via the app. I created a “Capsule Wardrobe: Summer” collection and began pulling images of looks I liked from a mix of influencers, celebrities, and friends. 

A major rule I’ve discovered over the years when building any kind of vision board is that you need to be extremely generous when you first comb through for inspiration. If you like it, cut it out, pull it out, pin it to a board, whatever. Then, once you have a ton of options, refine the list to precisely what you absolutely adore. What you end up with may not be what you originally expected, but it’ll bring to life a clearer image of your tastes. 

So I did the same thing in this circumstance. I pulled a lot of things I thought I liked and then shaved off anything that I didn’t 100% adore. It was kind of my own version of the Marie Kondo method I spoke about in part #1. The end result showcased a mix of pieces that I wanted to add to my new capsule wardrobe and would in some way compliment what parts of the collection already existed.

Step 3: I listed it out. 

With my inventory noted and my inspiration board in hand, I began to define exactly what I wanted the simplified wardrobe to contain. I listed out the different pieces that would be fitting for my everyday needs (whether or not I already had out the closet is part of part #3 😉), what kind of colors I’d love for them to be, and where they fell in terms of priority. I had a defined budget so I needed to make sure I prioritized my wish list according to practicality and sheer desire. The reality is, I probably need a work dress more than I need a summer scarf. 

For my next moves, keep following along for part #3 of the Creating A Capsule Closet series. For part #1, click here.

If you have any questions on creating a capsule wardrobe or advice for me, share it in the comments!


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