My Official #goodenough Life Edit, Style/Wardrobe Edition: In Which I Embrace The Capsule Wardrobe

Now that I’ve nailed down the theory of my #goodenough style steez as part of my inadvertent good life project, it’s time to make it happen — which, actually, is a more daunting prospect. I’m probably at the most challenging junction of my fashion biography, when I have no time, limited discretionary income and little energy to spend on figuring out my outfit everyday. My challenges to ‘good enough’ style are external now — which means I need some strategizing to overcome them.

Enter: the uniform and the capsule wardrobe!

Fashion nerds and sartorially inclined Virgos love uniforms and capsule wardrobes for their practicality, though some feel the concepts are stifling. Yes, sometimes a uniform can be constricting or turn into a rut. But a set of pre-thought-out combinations is life-saving — or at least embarrassment and self-consciousness-avoiding — on a day when your toddler is screaming his head off and you need to get dressed fast for three vastly different life situations in one day.

A curated selection of mix-and-match separates that can be combined in all kinds of outfits is a lifesaver in these situations. It’s basically a template approach to making outfit decisions quickly. You know how with a burrito bowl you have your grain, and then you add protein and veggies and then top off with something fun, like with a garnish of cheese or whatever and a flavor kick of sauce? It’s the same way with a basic wardrobe burrito bowl.

Allow me to belabor the metaphor! Basically, most outfits follow the same ‘recipe’: shoes, either a dress or top/bottom combo, and then you garnish with accessories and completer pieces.

If you want to break it down burrito-bowl style, you first start with your base grains and protein: shoes and bottoms, which for me is a unit, because some shoes work better with some bottoms, la la la. I’m of the philosophy that you choose shoes based on what you need for the day, and then your bottom — or dress — accordingly. Then you choose your veggies, which are your tops (if you haven’t chosen a dress.) Garnishes are accessories and finishing touches. And to round off this belabored burrito-bowl metaphor, my completer piece — you know, things like jackets, blazers, cardigans or wraps — is like the bag you put the burrito bowl in. (Or maybe it’s the bowl? I don’t know!)

Breaking It Down In Real Life

Of course, for all this to work most efficiently, it helps to pre-assemble your ingredients to draw upon. You know how at Chipotle there’s a whole ‘bar’ of ingredients as they’re making, customizing and assembling your burrito? In sartorial terms, your ‘bar’ is the capsule wardrobe, where you pull a certain amount of mix-and-match items from your existing closet for the season, i.e., creating a capsule wardrobe!

For me, at the beginning of each season, I pull out about 40-50 pieces from my existing wardrobe into a ‘capsule’ to draw upon for the season. For example, my personal base for springtime is:

1. ballet flat (for busy on-the-go non-workout days)
2. sneakers, usually my Nikes, high-tops or plimsolls (for busy on-the-go workout days)
3. athletic slides (these are so my favorite, very 90s!)
4. ankle boot (I have a workaday pair and a higher-heeled ‘ooh la la’ pair)

These are some of the shoes I pulled for my spring 2016 capsule — the others I wore while taking the picture or my son ran off with to play with.

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And then either:

1. skinny jeans (various options, depending on state of laundry readiness)
2. leggings (for workout-y days or when I’m sick of jeans)
3. skirt (for dressier days — I have an Everlane straight skirt and a casual grey sweatshirt-y one for super-loose days)
4. wide-legged black pants
5. army green skinny cargos
6. dresses (I have two this season — a casual hoodie-like one and a bright yellow pin-tucked long-sleeved trapeze-y option)

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(I only took pics of the dresses because my pants are boring to look at.)

After the ‘foundation’ of the outfit is chosen, I move onto tops if I’m not wearing a dress. For me these are:

1. striped boatneck tops (default option for when I really don’t want to think about it);
2. sweatshirts, hooded or otherwise (same as striped tops, but usually when I need comfort);
3. occasionally a sweater (on less toddler-intensive days);
4. a few short-sleeved options (a casual one, a fun one, a dressy one)
4. very occasionally a ‘slinky pretty blouse’ (again, depending on what’s on my schedule and how baby-centric it is. I can’t wear super-beautiful silk blouses on a baby-centric day — it just breaks my heart a little to have food flung at it, which my child is newly fond of doing!)

As you can tell, I love tops:

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Then, I have a well-chosen yet helpfully limited palette of completer pieces. This spring, I only have four: a parka, an army jacket, a denim jacket and a leather one, which I choose by weather and by outfit, though most of my jackets go with most of my clothes. Here, some of my completers:

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So Far So Good

So far, it’s worked well to give me a semblance of fun with clothes, and helps me feel practical, active and confident as well. When it comes to getting dressed on an average day with some ease and joy, this whole capsule/burrito approach helps me feel….wait for it…good enough when it comes to getting dressed.

And even if you’re not a mom — if you’re just super-busy as hell and don’t want to spend years in your closet figuring out what to wear — this approach is pretty great. Simplicity is amazing!

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