capsule wardrobe-ing: the spring 2020 edition

Spring has not yet sprung, but it’s coming, folks! It’s coming. I can see it in the sunlight that is still brightly shining when I finish work at five o’clock, in the grass trying to shoulder its way through the last vestiges of snow and ice, in the bluebird skies that no longer hold the promise of seriously negative temperatures.

Living in Alberta, the weather from March to May can vary wildly. This capsule does its best to encompass the negative-thirty-degree mornings that are certainly still on their way with the plus-fifteen-degree days that May – and maybe even April! – will surely hold. Shorts and I aren’t friends yet, but I’ve managed to bring in a little bit of the spring freshness I’m craving with a couple pops of pastel colours and some warm-weather fabric choices: linen, cotton, denim.

I fell out of capsule wardrobe-ing (is that a verb?) for a while, so my return to it this spring was heralded by many a page of planning and dreaming, and sorting through my clothes with a Marie-Kondo-esque fervor for only keeping the pieces that bring excessive amounts of joy. Filling two bags with clothing to donate has only made me all the more determined to capsule. We’re being intentional about what we bring into our closets and our lives this year, friends!

There are four steps to my capsule wardrobe-ing process: the guiding phrases, the colour palette, the fabrics, and the pieces.

spring 2020: the guiding phrases

All I have to say is: guiding phrases are a gamechanger. I used to love looking at these, but I never used them. Never! The me who was working on this capsule recently declared, “How ridiculous! How naive!” but the me who has reflected on my lack of guiding phrases until now thinks, “I had no idea how to pare my style down because I enjoy a lot of conflicting pieces.” (Good self-growth, me.)

And so, for this capsule, I wanted to create some guiding phrases that would re-excite my interest in existing pieces, offer a sense of direction to any new pieces I needed, and also encapsulate those conflicting styles that do, I think, co-exist fairly happily within my closet.

My guiding phrases range from traditional, simple words (“casual”) to inspiring & inspired phrases (“Audrey Hepburn meets a ski bunny from the eighties”). This spring capsule’s guiding phrases are:

  • Feminine
  • Comfortable
  • Could conceivably be worn while meandering down a cobblestone road
    somewhere in France
  • Classic
  • Romantic (with and without a capital R)
  • Would wear this while wandering moors
  • Matchy-matchy

My favourite thing about these, other than the fact that they make me dream about France, is that I can easily carry them through to summer. While I intend to refresh my capsule wardrobe seasonally, I do hope to carry through as many pieces as possible to avoid falling into the trap of having seasonal trends which get worn for a month or two and then tucked away and discarded the following year. A year-round capsule, a la Jessica Rose Williams, appeals – even if I do want to do a little seasonal refresh every three months to spark those creative juices and assess how my pieces are faring.

spring 2020: the colour palette

Creating the colour palette is one of my favourite parts of the process. I always take a little gander through Pinterest, dream about including an emerald green or a vibrant purple, look at the colour swatches of New York fashion gurus’ outfits, and then quite happily turn to my calm, neutral closet. (We’ll get together someday, emerald green. Don’t you worry.)

I choose colour palettes based on three things:

  1. The colours I already see in my closet, particularly in the basics that I know I will carry through every season,
  2. the colours that come to mind when I read my guiding phrases,
  3. and the colours that let me have a little fun with whatever the current season inspires.

And so – drumroll, please – the colour palette for this spring capsule:


spring 2020: the fabrics

This step is largely meant to direct any pieces that I think I may need in order to complete the capsule – it’s easier to say no to that gorgeous floral shirt if you remember that “chiffon” is not on your list of spring fabrics because you literally never wear chiffon in the spring – but it’s also useful for clearing out and assessing which pieces are going to carry through from one season to the next. Black is one of my colours for spring, and I have some favourite black pieces that will carry into this season from winter: a black tee, a pair of black trousers, a black leather shirt. But I also have a lot of gorgeous black blouses from my winter wardrobe – and they’re chiffon. Instead of waffling over whether or not to keep them in my spring capsule, I can acknowledge that they’re a fabric I absolutely will not wear right now. Into storage they go! I tend to wear chiffon during the fall and winter, since it feels like a “fancy” fabric suited to the party season, so I know they’ll come back out in six months or so.

My spring fabrics are leaning to the “warm-weather-is-coming!” side of things with a solid dash of “I still want to be warm!” thrown in. The fabrics for this spring capsule:

  • cotton
  • denim
  • linen

The heft of the denim and the cotton allows for a decent amount of warmth while the little hit of linen brings in that spring romanticism that I’m living for.

spring 2020: the pieces

For a lot of folks, capsule wardrobes are about the amount of pieces in their closet. I love the idea of limitations – limits breed creativity! – but I struggle to ascribe a set number to tops, bottoms, shoes, and outerwear. If it feels good, it stays, and I usually manage to fall into the balance I need.

spring 2020: tops

I ended up with eight tops for spring, and I’m feeling pretty pleased with them. There’s one chiffon guy in there – the polka dot white top – because I have some very specific styling ideas in mind… We’ll see what happens. Might get tucked away until the fall. My “Own Your Power” tee was the inspiration behind the light pink/blush that made its way into my colour palette, and I’d love to take that inspiration a little futher and invest in a pair of light pink flats (if not this year, then next year!).

spring 2020: bottoms

My six bottoms for spring hit my necessities for work, home, and outings (once those feel feasible again! Stay safe, everyone). I work in retail, so my wardrobe can range from business casual to a tee and jeans. Loving that the lavender from my colour palette made its way into the bottoms category – I invested in a suit over the holidays and the blazer and pants are both ideal as separates for my spring capsule.

spring 2020: the wildcards

I have two pieces that are feeling a bit like wildcards this season: the turtleneck midi dress was a hero during the winter, but I’m not sure the turtleneck will do it for me past the end of March. The boiler suit was a new, adventurous purchase: I’d been admiring it for weeks, so I feel confident that it will be a bit of a spring hero for me. Love the option of being able to style it up with heels and jewelry but also rock it casually by throwing on a pair of white kicks.

spring 2020: the overpieces

As soon as spring hits, I’m out of sweater weather. I’m into layering, jazzing up my tees and jeans with coats and blazers, and I’m ready to feel light. I’ve only ended up with one sweater in this capsule – a light, white, cotton one that isn’t too fluffy or soft and has a gorgeous oversized fit. Cannot wait to pair it with linen shorts in the summer. My outerwear has covered all the important bases: mild, wet, cold, and extra cold. Bring it on, Albertan spring!

spring 2020: footwear

Normally – as in, when I used to capsule wardrobe – I would never have six pairs of shoes. Six pairs this year, though, feels right. My suede heels and leopard print slides pull those warm neutrals into my footwear, without abandoning my basic go-to favourites: a beige shoe, black slides, black boots, and white sneakers.

And that is that! My spring capsule wardrobe for 2020. I’m excited to see how it fares over the next few months, and the next few weeks as we live through what is, certainly, a very, very strange period of time. I’ve got a couple of pieces that I might add as things warm up (linen pants!) and a few things that may get put away again until the fall (suede jacket, polka dot chiffon shirt, turtleneck midi dress) but the plan is to post a mid-season review which will keep you all in the loop, and which might turn out to also be the perfect time to switch up what needs switching up.

Happy capsule-wadrobe-ing, friends! Stay safe!


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