Capsule Wardrobe

A Candid Capsule: Breaking it Down


Before even beginning to create my capsule, I knew that I wanted to put an emphasis on living and dressing thoughtfully, streamlining my closet until it included only my favorite, most satisfying garments. Now that I’ve pared it down so much, I can see there are a few “holes” in my wardrobe – I’m missing some key pieces. But, it is important to me that the emphasis of this whole process does not shift to shopping. For me, having a capsule is about living with less, finding the value in the things I already have, and making future purchases with care. I’ve come up with a bit of a mantra for my life and my capsule: Be intentional. Buy deliberately. I applied this to the closet purge, choosing each item while thinking intentionally about whether it would pair well with other things in my wardrobe, flatter me for the foreseeable future, and bring me joy each time I wear it. I want to apply the same philosophy to shopping for new pieces. I will buy things deliberately, taking into consideration where each piece was manufactured, by whom, and whether he or she was paid a fair wage and treated with respect. I will consider whether each piece is something I will love and will be functional for years to come; and whether I am buying it because it serves a purpose, complementing and working well with the other pieces in my wardrobe.

So to recap. I have 21 pieces in my year-round capsule, plus 14 seasonal pieces—7 for spring and summer, 7 for fall and winter—so that on any given day, there are 28 garments hanging in my closet.

My 21 year-round capsule pieces

  • 10 dresses: 8 of which are mainly for work, 2 of which are for going out/weekends (one of these is fancy)
  • 3 skirts: one black pencil, one blue pencil, one bright yellow one (an outlier, but a fun one)
  • 6 tops: three work blouses, two casual blouses, and one that works for both
  • 1 light jacket
  • 1 pair of jeans

My 14 seasonal capsule pieces

For spring/summer:

  • 3 skirts: all of which I can wear both to work and in the wild
  • 4 dresses: one for work, one that is basically a long, light sweatshirt, two for summer parties

For fall/winter:

  • 4 dresses: one sweater dress, one I only wear with tights, two for winter parties
  • 2 cardigans
  • 1 heavy coat


I am particularly excited about my seasonal pieces, which I’m referring to as capsule storage pieces. I’ll go for months without seeing them, and since I chose them for my capsule with care, I think each piece will feel new each time I pull it out of storage. It’ll be a trick of the mind. Kind of like how I can trick myself into being really excited about the sad desk salad I eat for lunch most days. #lunchfromhome

As for the “holes” in my capsule wardrobe, my plan is to acquire basic, staple pieces that I can wear alone as well as pair together, layer, etc. On my list are a pair of basic black pants I can wear to work (I’ve got my eye on these), a plain long-sleeved white blouse, a denim jacket (which has been on my wish list for years, but I have yet to find the one for me…any suggestions?! Comment below!), and a couple pairs of shoes. My hope for the shoes, in particular, is to replace the shabbier pairs I currently rely on with some more quality pairs.

I am proud of the wardrobe I’ve put together and I truly think that it is going to be functional and sustainable for a long time to come. I have kept some lower-quality items in my closet that I will replace in time, but I plan only to do that on a one-in, one-out basis. For example, that light jacket among my 21 year-round pieces? It’s from H&M. But I love it, wear it all the time, and bought it about five years ago. So, I’ll continue to wear this piece until I can replace it with a piece of higher-quality.

A fundamental new part of my shopping process from here on out is going to include research. I am transforming myself into a conscious, thinking consumer (remember: Be intentional. Buy deliberately.), so I’m buying things that are locally and/or ethically manufactured is becoming a huge priority. It’s important to me not to have a negative impact on this world, and though changing my shopping habits is a small step toward that goal, it’s an important one.


So far, I’ve discovered that ethically manufactured shoes are the most difficult type of item to source, but a few shops have stood out to me style-wise and impact-wise: Nisolo—I’ve got my eye on a pair of their ankle boots, Fortress of Inca, and Coclico, which makes some absolutely stunning shoes but that this girl would need to do a bit of serious budgeting for to include in her closet. As far as clothing goes, there are so many places to look! I find it very encouraging. I’ve also found that if ethical manufacturing is a priority for a company, they are very transparent about that. If a company is cagey about their manufacturing process, in my book that means they might not be proud of what they’re doing and I’ll stay away. I’ve been perusing sites like Bridge and BurnEverlane, and especially Marine Layer, which happens to have a denim jacket (!) and also has a handful of stores, including, conveniently, in downtown Boston.

I’m really looking forward to finding out exactly how my new capsule will affect my daily life. I have a few predictions. First, I think my morning routine will be much more of a breeze. In the past, I would stand in front of my closet agonizing over all of the things inside it that I hated, having “nothing” to wear. Now, all of the pieces inside my closet are things that I love and feel great in, so morning choices will be easy—or non-existent. Second, I think that the pride I have in my new wardrobe and the lessons I learned creating it will extend to other areas of my life. I’m already looking for ways to streamline other things: my collection of kitchen gadgets, my makeup drawer, my tax filing system. Finally, I have a number of trips planned this summer and fall and I think that packing for them is going to be absolutely effortless. Honestly, that part of this process alone is going to feel life-changing. So here’s to capsuling. I’m raising my glass and riding this wave of closet optimism and enthusiasm into a brave new world of socially conscious consumerism and uncomplicated living. Cheers!


Alexandra Mandzak is a Boston-based babe who is sharing her experience creating a capsule wardrobe on the blog. Read about why she decided to create a capsule wardrobe and how she pitched and purged her way to 28 piece wardrobe.