Are you ready to create outfits that work for you?

We’ve been talking all week about how to fight the frump, covering hair, natural-looking makeup, and finding clothes that fit and flatter.

Now we’re going to bring it all together by talking about that final, put together look.

So let’s go back to Monday for a moment. Remember how I got dressed and it took 45 seconds, vs. 30 seconds in the ugly outfit? My point was that it didn’t take any longer to dress in something that looks good than something that looks terrible.

But I have a confession to make. I didn’t tell the whole story on Monday.

Here’s the truth: You can only get dressed fast if you know what you’re going to wear.

If you have to stand staring at your clothes every morning in utter confusion, wondering what to wear and what will look good together, then getting dressed and fighting the frump will take far too much time.

So I want to share with you my secret about what I do every month.

Fight the Frump Week: Putting Outfits Together Using a Capsule Wardrobe

I talked about it last year when I wrote about my capsule wardrobe, and I want to come back to that today.

Here’s what a capsule wardrobe is, in a nutshell: you decide to dress with just a few pieces in your closet–many people choose 40–that are made up of neutrals and then some colours that coordinate, so that with just a few pieces you can create multiple outfits and looks.

Then you try to make sure that each of those pieces is high quality and can do double duty, in different outfits with different looks.

I cheat a bit with my capsule wardrobe. I haven’t gotten rid of all my clothes except for 40. But what I do is at the beginning of the month I choose 25 that I want to wear that month. And then I store them in my closet in ready-made outfits.

What will a capsule wardrobe of 25 pieces look like? First, decide on your neutrals. Neutrals tend to be: black, grey, brown, navy, beige, or khaki. Those are colours that you can tend to layer with prints or patterns, and they’ll still look good. I used to use black all the time in my wardrobe, but black honestly doesn’t suit me. So now I tend towards browns and greys.

Then, once you’ve decided on your neutrals, you choose some bright coloured or patterned pieces to add to it.

Here, for example, is a sample 25 item capsule wardrobe:

Capsule Wardrobe

Neutral colour 1: (Khaki)

1 casual pant
1 dress pant
1 long sleeve shirt
1 short sleeve shirt
1 blazer/jacket

Neutral colour 2: (brown)

1 long sleeve shirt
1 short sleeve shirt
1 skirt

Neutral Extras: (Solid Colours)

2 jeans
1 blazer/jacket (blue)
1 sweater (other)

Add colours:

6 tops
1 vest
1 dress
2 sweaters
3 T-shirts

Once you’ve done all that, you can accent them all with purses, belts, scarves and necklaces. Even shoes! (Although it’s getting to be winter where I live, so it’s really all about the boots right now!)

Accents end up making the outfit

I took Kelly Snyder’s Adore Your Wardrobe course last year and she explained the awesome “Rule of 4” which has helped me create outfits! Basically, you have to be able to count to at least 4 when you’re getting dressed to feel like you’re dressed in an actual outfit.

So how do you get to 4? Neutral pants and plain coloured shirts count as 0. A pattern on either a top or a bottom counts as 1. A sweater or blazer is another 1. A big necklace, a belt, a scarf, or a brooch are all 1. So you can get to 4 with jeans, a t-shirt, a funky sweater, a big belt, and a necklace. Or you can get to 4 with jeans, a patterned shirt, a plain sweater, and a big necklace.

Here, for example, are some outfits I’ve got:

Fight the Frump with a Capsule Wardrobe

Casual Shirt with a scarf–Accent belt not shown

But here’s another way I’d wear that same shirt (again, the accent belt isn’t shown):

Or you can throw in one of your patterned shirts!

Patterned T Shirt - Do I Have to Indulge My Husband's Fantasies?

Patterned shirt with bold necklace and sweater

I also like to pick one or two pieces that I love but don’t wear that much–like some of my handknits–and throw them in each month. This week I’m focusing on a tank top that I knit (seen here) and a vest that I knit (seen in my makeup post!) I’ve figured out different ways to wear it:

Fighting the Frump Capsule Fall Wardrobe

Dressing up the tank with a purple leather jacket

Knit Outfit 2 - Do I Have to Indulge My Husband's Fantasies?

Making the tank more casual with a flowy sweater

And, of course, I try to throw in at least one skirt and dress to try to encourage myself to wear them more often (and I’m stocking up on fleece-lined tights to make them more comfortable in Canada’s fall!)

Skirt Outfit 1 - Do I Have to Indulge My Husband's Fantasies?

Fun comfy sweater over a skirt, bold bracelet not shown

I know it can be hard when you have little kids to wear necklaces (I remember those days! My kids kept pulling them!). So those may not be good fashion choices for you at that stage of your life. And scarves that kids can spit up on are likely bad choices, too. But a few big bracelets or some cool belts can do wonders!

Add Accents to Your Tops–and store them that way

What I do, then, is I choose my 25 pieces, and then I choose a bunch of necklaces and scarves that coordinate and I store those necklaces and scarves on the same hanger as the top I may wear them with. I store my belts on the same hanger as the jeans or skirts or dresses I may wear them with.

And I take my whole capsule wardrobe–including jeans and t-shirts–and put them on hangers on one shelf on my closet for that month, so that I can see everything at a glance.


If your closet isn’t big enough for that, use a drawer! Choose one drawer that is just for your capsule wardrobe items, and store them folded so that you can see them at a glance when you open the drawer, like this:

The Capsule Wardrobe: Putting Clothes in a Drawer

But you’ll find if you spend 20-30 minutes at the beginning of each month choosing some items of clothing to concentrate on, then you can think about what you’d like to pair with it and create outfits, so you don’t have to think each day! And you’ll know that if you pick a shirt with a necklace or scarf, you’ll also have a sweater or skirt or pants that will coordinate, and you can mix and match.

I sometimes plan a whole capsule wardrobe around one item: sometimes a silk scarf I love but hardly ever wear (I’ll choose things that coordinate with it) or something I knit that I haven’t worn in a while. And that way I find myself happier with my wardrobe and wearing more pieces, rather than sticking to the easy ones!

Whew. There you go. Fight the Frump is done!

I hope you feel energized. I hope you feel like you CAN do this–like you can dress with confidence and get yourself ready to take on the world with just a few minutes each morning. It doesn’t have to be onerous. But it can make such a difference in how we see ourselves, and in how others see us!

So let’s keep this going. Create that wardrobe, make some outfits, and let’s see you shine this month before Christmas!

Let’s encourage each other and fight the frump together!

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