How to Figure Out Your Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Part 4: Mix-and-Match Fashion Show and Creating a Look Book

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Update August 2016 -- I have HUGE news for a fashion-savvy, Capsule Wardrobe lovin' girl like you!  My shiny, awesome new book Secrets of the Capsule Wardrobe:  How to Find Your Personal Style & Create a Happy, Confident Closet! is now available!!  Feel free to continue to read this post if you like, but just be aware you're basically reading an incomplete rough draft... my book is the Perfected Guide to finding your personal style and building a effortless, confidence-inspiring, non-boring capsule wardrobe, step-by-step! It also contains never-before-published information on how to avoid the three most common mistakes that will SABOTAGE your Capsule Wardrobe, how to continue to curate your collection of clothing by purposeful shopping in the future, a whole chapter on the role of accessories in your minimalist closet, and more.  Go check it out right now... a happy closet awaits you! 

Super girly post alert!  Writing today about fa-SHUN... ready to be glamorous and sophisticated with me??  Fourth in a weekly series of six.  Missed the first three installments?  Click below to catch up on:

Part 1: Finding Your Style!
Part 2: The Winnowing Phase
Part 3: The Importance of Color in a Capsule Wardrobe

Minimalist Style for the Rest of Us -- 
Part 4, Be Adventurous!  How to Use a Mix-and-Match Fashion Show + Look Book to Achieve a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe That Isn't Boring!

Welcome back!  It's been an exciting fa-SHUN journey so far... already you have determined several key characteristics of your style, AND chosen which colors you will build your capsule wardrobe around, AND figured out which pieces you love and which are on probation.  Most of your wardrobe is probably on probation, but don't let that discourage you!  Some of these pieces will probably work great in your minimalist capsule wardrobe, you just have to figure out which ones fit together into a look that you love, and which ones aren't worth the space in your closet.  Our key word is still "minimal", right?  Which means your goal is to keep whittling down your clothing collection until each piece is maximized and valuable!  BUT we still want to be adventurous with what we wear, and part of that is finding some clothing combinations you might not have initially thought to put together.  This post is all about one way you can test out which pieces deserve a place in your happy closet, and which ones should be passed on to somebody else -- via a Fashion Show!  ;P 

For this process, it will work best if you have another set of eyes.  These CAN belong to your significant other, but it will be better if they belong to a friend instead, since people tend to be fairly invested in "looking good" for their significant others... and right now isn't about them and what they like, its about what you like.  The friend you ask for help doesn't have to have the same style preferences as you, but s/he does need to be able to tell you if an outfit "works," so try to ask a friend whose sense of style you respect.  Be sure to communicate what style "look" you're going for, and remind your friend that you aren't asking if she would wear the outfit herself, you're asking if the pieces combine well.  

This friend needs to be armed with a camera, and take a full-length photo of you in each outfit you try.  If a friend isn't available, use the timer function on a camera to take the photos instead.  Either way, you want photos so that you can decide objectively yourself later whether to keep or pitch the "probationary" items, because if you love how an outfit looks and makes you feel, it honestly doesn't matter what your friend or spouse says... yours is the opinion that counts!  As a bonus, the happier and more confident you feel in what you're wearing, the more attractive you will appear.  Being able to look back afterwards at all the outfits you have tried, from a distance and in the context of other cute outfits, will help immensely in deciding what you think about them.  

Your Assignment:  
  • Start by gathering your "base pieces" -- pants, jeans, shorts, skirts, dresses.
  • Be methodical!  Either try one top with all possible base combinations, or try a base with all possible tops, whichever approach makes more sense to you.  This will keep your photos orderly when you are comparing looks later.  
  • Be adventurous!  Try wearing a button-down dress open over another dress!  Try wearing a long skirt over a shorter dress!  Try a collared shirt under that sweater, or over that dress!  Combine different textures!  ETC. (See below for a pinterest board of the kind of "adventurousness" I'm describing here...)
  • Mix-and-match away, catwalkin' it up for your extra pair of eyes and/or camera.  Remember, you want a picture of each and every outfit!  

Don't forget to include belts, shoes, scarves, jewelry, etc, in your catwalk outfit.  You may even end up with multiple pictures of the exact same outfit, but with a different belts or scarves or whatever accessorizing each one... that's perfect!  I realized after going through this process that I had one belt that looked terrible on my body-type no matter what I paired it with.  I similarly got rid of multiple shirts that looked fine on the hanger but just didn't work on me, and discovered a lot of new outfit "pairings" that I just hadn't thought to combine before.  

After you're finished with your mix-and-match fashion show, go through all the photos on a computer and decide what you think about each.  Does it work?  Is it just kind of "meh"?  I recommend using a computer rather than a phone because the photos will be easier to see, and you can compare outfits next to one another if it is helpful.

Delete the photos of outfits you don't like, and print or save the photos you do to create a "look book" to remind you of your outfit possibilities going forward.  Don't forget to go ahead and donate any items of clothing you've now ruled out altogether as a result... if it isn't in the look book, it doesn't need to be in your closet.

So, in a nutshell...

4 Simple Steps to Discovering Your Capsule Wardrobe:  
1.  Try on EVERY outfit combination you can make, out of what is in your closet.
2.  Take pictures of EVERY combination.  
3.  Go back through the pictures on your computer and look at each outfit combination.   
4.  Delete the photos you don't like, and print or save the photos you do like to create a "look book" to remind you of your outfit possibilities going forward.  Donate the clothing you've ruled out.

Disclaimer:  This is definitely the "slightly OCD" / "I have a little time on my hands" way to do this.  The "totally not OCD over here, feeling sorry for you right now Sarah Eliza" / "NO time to spare, are you kidding?" approach would be to just start pairing tops with bottoms, and give it a quick eyeball before heading out of the house to decide if the pieces are earning their keep or need to head for the donation pile after you get home that night.  However, doing it all at once does mean it is DONE and then you can start benefitting from the ease of your capsule wardrobe right away, rather than continuing to fine-tune over a prolonged period.  Also, trying out outfits in the privacy of your own home, with a friend to offer opinions and encouragement, can allow you more space for experimentation and self-expression than you might usually allow yourself if you're in a rush, headed for work, etc.

Either way, remember you are curating a collection of clothing that you enjoy, and that makes you feel confident and happy.  :)

Up next week, the secret to having an effective, easy capsule wardrobe!  In which you also discover that I am NOT an artist.  ;P  I hope you will join us for the fun... if you haven't already, please consider looking to the right sidebar and subscribing via email, bloglovin', twitter, or your other favorite bloggy source.  :)

For some fa-SHUN inspiration along the lines of "be adventurous!!", check out this pinterest board I created...  These outfits aren't all my style and they're probably not all yours either, but rather they're meant to give you ideas on how to layer and combine clothing you might not normally think about.  I tried to include a range of fashion styles and looks to help jump-start your wardrobe brainstorming.  Look at them not as outfits to copy verbatim, but instead in the spirit of "how could I modify this to suit me?"  Enjoy browsing -- I will continue to add more fun ideas as I find them!

Follow Sarah Eliza's board Lookin' Good - Be Adventurous! on Pinterest.

Here are some of the places you might see this post partying! 

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  1. How fun. I was such a fashion horse when I was working and now that I'm retired I go for comfort. I do like how you put this together. Be bold and explore. Excellent.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    1. Aww thanks!! Totally agree about comfort! I go for comfort without being retired, hehe! :P

  2. Sarah Eliza, can I call you SE? No? Okay then, SArah Eliza, whoops, there I go with my senior moments again, I already said that. Where was I?
    Oh yeah, what a great idea to do a fashion show for a friend! "Catwalkin it up!" perfect phrase!
    Hope you enjoyed yourself there girl! A look book? My look is to see what's clean! Ahahaha
    I already have a fairly minimal wardrobe, due to the recent weight loss, and no money to buy much! Everytime I wear a shirt that is way too big, I get rid of it. So, I feel like I'm doing well.
    Hey, Sarah Eliza, wake up! I know this is a long comment, but geez! You were snoring there!

    1. Way to go on the minimal wardrobe, and on the weight loss! That's awesome. :) And I didn't snore a bit!

  3. I'm stopping in from Friendship Friday ~It's so nice to keep a simple but nice and varied wardrobe!

  4. Thanks for entering the pin for this post in The Pinterest Game! Good luck, and we hope to see you again next week!
    ~~Wendy, #ThePinterestGame co-host

  5. I am definitely OCD enough to WANT to spend the entire next two days taking photos and going through everything, but that's another one of those things in life that has currently been bumped to the "someday in the future" list, so I guess I'll be following the other approach. :/ But, if I'd read this just a couple years ago, I would have totally been catwalkin' it up with you!


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