Coastal Capsule Wardrobe


coastal wardrobeMotherhood throws a lot of curveballs at you.

Some of them you are prepared for, or at least anticipate. Others are a complete surprise. One that surprised me was my relationship with clothes.

It started with maternity wear. Man, that stuff is expensive! I’m a gal who loves a budget, so the idea of swiping that AMEX for more clothes that I was “only going to wear for a couple of months” was difficult. Luckily, my sister had plenty of hand-me-downs for me. And my dear sib from another crib, Sara, mailed me a box of goodies, including denim overalls, because we all know how important ease of dropping our pants becomes as our bellies swell. I often made due with yoga pants and other stretchy garments, still clinging to the belief that I wouldn’t really wear these clothes that much, not realizing how long after delivery I would still be wearing them. I might actually still wear one dress because it’s so cute.

Like a good girl, I had boxed up my pre-pregnancy clothes, expecting to at least get more wear out of the staples. Fashion changes, but foundation pieces don’t. So when I finally got back to my pre-pregnancy weight, I assumed those clothes would fit again. Go ahead, laugh. I’ll wait. Of course they didn’t fit anymore! My hips were wider, my chest was bigger and in constant demand for nursing, and that layer of flab showed up out of nowhere. But I was the same weight! So, back to the elastic waists and oversized t-shirts. I had a new baby, so being cute was not high on my agenda.

Fast forward two more kids and a handful of years later.

Pre-pregnancy weight was no longer a mission, just feeling good in my skin was. How was I to do that now? I was feeling old and flabby and categorically uncool. And worse, my dresser and closet were overflowing with clothing that I never wore! I felt guilty about how much it was all worth, even though I didn’t even want to wear it anymore. I was puttering around town in clothes I should’ve been ashamed to sleep in. Something had to give.

I turned to my trusty friend, the internet, and several capsule wardrobe planners. I took a little from here, a little from there and chose guidelines over strict rules. I wasn’t interested in a conversation with every piece in your closet while decluttering. I didn’t want to limit myself to a certain number of items, so I used rules from these planners to estimate what I could live with. This turned out to be great for me because, as you know, we don’t have four distinct seasons here on the coast.

By applying what I learned in the planners, I created a fluid capsule wardrobe that makes seasonal transitions easy. I’ve only been doing this a couple of years, so I still fall into bad habits (like shopping without a purpose). It’s a work in progress, just like me.

I’ve just traded out most of my long sleeves for tanks.

Here are my tips for creating a coastal capsule wardrobe.

  • Fill up on foundations– look for pieces that layer easily that work with both your warm weather and cool weather palette. These should be the majority of your wardrobe. Splurge on quality garments.
  • Save room for trends– hemlines and silhouettes change slower than style details. Expect to trade out your tops more frequently to stay stylish. For example, the bare shoulders that are hot right now, won’t last forever. Pick these up in your budget shopping.
  • Get to know a seamstress– you will enjoy your wardrobe more when it fits well. Just because your friend has a sewing machine does not mean she is willing or able to tailor your pants. A skilled sewist can make all the difference.
  • Bring a friend– I text photos from the dressing room to my best friend in North Carolina. She gives me honest and helpful feedback. This isn’t the time for your enabling friend who loves everything on you. Get the cold, hard truth from someone who loves you enough to say, “Oh, honey, no.”
  • Learn to mix prints– there’s a fine line between stylish mix and first-day-of-clown-college. Start one step beyond your current comfort zone. The more you try it, the more confident you’ll be.

    A sheer kimono is a fabulous, on-trend signature for warm months
  • Create your signature– find an accessory, a color, or a style element that you can work into almost any outfit. Last winter, I was known as the scarf lady because I never left the house without one. I only had three, but I wore them so many different ways, with so many different outfits, that people who had seen the same ones a million times still complimented them.
  • Include your outerwear and beachwear– our seasonal transitions are unique on the coast. Have a sweater in your winter wardrobe that looks great with shorts after sundown. Likewise, have some pants you can throw on over your swimsuit on those fall days that are warm enough for sand but not the surf.
  • Be forgiving– if something isn’t working for you, change it. Whether it’s a purchase that you don’t love once you get home, a mindless shopping spree, or a rule that you just can’t seem to keep … let it go.


Need more inspiration? I recommend these sources to get you started:

Project 333
Celebrity Uniforms (gallery)
The Fashion Spot
My Pinterest Board

Do you have a capsule wardrobe or other style tips you love? Join the conversation and share your pics on our Facebook page