In my last post, I shared two frameworks for designing a mini-capsule wardrobe: the 4×4 method and the sudoku method. I also shared my plans for my own mini capsule, using the sudoku method. Here’s a refresher:
Well, it’s the end of the month and I’m ready to reveal. Here’s what my final mini-capsule wardrobe looked like:
- Itch to Stitch Bonn Shirt in a cotton lawn from Mood Fabrics
- Jalie Eleonore Jeans in a stretch twill from Mood Fabrics
- Black Cobb Hill sandals from Zappos
- Cashmerette Appleton dress (hacked into a ballerina-style cardigan) in rayon ponte from Michael Levine
- RTW cardigan from Lane Bryant (bought 4 years ago)
- Tan Cobb Hill sandals from Zappos
- Jalie Pull-on Pants in blended tencel from Joann
- Cashmerette Springfield tank in same blended tencel from Joann
- Jalie Pull-on Pants in blended tencel from Joann
- Hey June Biscayne Blouse in silk/cotton/mystery voile from Mood Fabrics
- Watch from Charming Charlie (bought 2 years ago)
- Trotter’s leopard print flats from Zappos
- Cobb Hill sandals in white from Zappos
- Pearl necklace from Stella and Dot
- Cashmerette Concord in bamboo jersey from Michael Levine
- Jalie Eleonore Jeans in stretch twill from Mood Fabrics
What changed from the original plan?
There were three main changes that took place over the course of my sewing:
- I switched out the first three rows of shoes (and I wish I had switched out the forth row too — those white sandals are doing my style no favors…)
- I switched out the necklace on the bottom row — the original pink necklace had weird fading in some of the beads. I’m not totally happy with the pearl necklace choice, but there wasn’t an obvious better option. Maybe that means I need to rethink my jewelry game.
- I ended up not sewing the knit blazer in the second row (choosing instead an old RTW cardigan) — I ran out of time to muslin the Morris Blazer and my chosen fabric was too precious/expensive to wing it.
Overall, not too bad at all!
What does the capsule look like in terms of outfits?
First, let’s look at the four outfits created by each row:
Assessment: Overall, pretty solid. I definitely need a camisole underneath the Biscayne blouse (easy enough) but I feel like I have a nice variety of outfits here for my business casual workplace. I do wish I had swapped out those white sandals — they are too casual for this capsule and especially when paired with the pearl necklace.
Now let’s look at the four outfits created along the columns of the sudoku:
Again, I’m pretty impressed! I’m not loving how clingy the pink jeans are — that’s something I realized as soon as I sewed it up. But because 1) I didn’t have time to sew another pair in a different fabric and 2) I love the color/feel of the fabric, I’m sticking with it for now — or at least until I can find another pink stretch woven to replace them with.
There are also three outfits you can make from the diagonals and the middle block of four:
I forgot to take a photo of the middle block, so you’ll have to use your imagination. But again — I’m pretty [pleased with the variety of looks that I’m getting. I feel like I could definitely pull this off for a longer business trip.
And as one of the commenters pointed out in my last post, there are also four “bonus” outfits by looking at the corner blocks:
(Picky viewers will notice that I’m supposed to be wearing the leopard print shoes in the bottom right photo. My only excuse is that by this time in the photo-taking process I had nearly lost my mind trying to keep track of all the pieces and how they fit together.)
And here’s where it falls apart a bit for me. The bottom two outfits above are virtual repeats of two other outfits in the capsule: only the shoes and the layer/accessory are different. But they both read as the “same” outfit. (Or possibly, one of those, “spot the three differences in this photo” that you might find on a kid’s placemat at a diner.) See the evidence here:
All together now
From this 16-piece sudoku wardobe (9 of which I sewed up for this project), you get 15 outfits. And here they are again, (except for the one I forgot to photograph) next to each other so you can get a sense of the overall diversity of looks:
What I’ve learned from this process
First, there is joy and pain in sewing a capsule wardobe. I found it incredibly awesome to see the plan take shape as I churned out each item. At the same time, I chafed at the pressure to sew to a plan — I kept wanting to deviate and sew something completely different. (Or keep sewing clothes that matched whatever color I had threaded in the serger.)
It’s helped me focus my fabric buying — before I was all about the cute prints but this process has show me the real value of solids. So practical — so easy to wear — so polished looking!
And now, the most important lesson for a mini-capsule: layers give you MUCH more bang for the buck than jewelry does. The switching of a necklace for a watch is a tiny thing that is easily overlooked. I should have opted for something with more “splash” — a scarf or a blazer/cardigan would have been a much better choice. (And you can always add jewelry later, if you like.)
Bonus lesson: taking photos of your capsule wardrobe like this is a nightmare. By the end, I was sweaty, my 7-year old camera girl was bored, and it took a long time to get everything put back together afterwards. If you decide to try this, consider doing a full-on photo shoot with rock music, a decked-out snack table, and stylists who will handle the details while you sip a latte and let them dress you.
As I think about evolving this capsule — adding a few more pieces on to make it even more versatile, I will definitely add skirt and a dress — something to change up the amount of leg that I’m showing and also to change the silhouette. But I’ll keep the overall neutral color palette of cream, pink, tan, gray and black — that seems to work well for my coloring and gives me enough room to go “light” or “dark” or “mixed” on any given day.
Please share your feedback in the comments — I’d love to hear your thoughts on my capsule. What did I get right? Where did I miss the boat? Do you agree with my self-assessment, or have other opinions to share? Let me know!