Capsule Wardrobe at 70. Real Life Try-on

In Style over 50 by Joni9 Comments

How does a Capsule Wardrobe work? Here’s an example of my Capsule Wardrobe Spring 2020. Everything works well together without looking too samey-samey. And everything works well for my lifestyle:

I’m a retired woman living in a village in France who likes to travel.

This blog is always about style for real women – not models – well over 50.  I hope seeing me (70, short and rather overweight – i.e. typical of many of us my age) will help you get organized so you enjoy your clothes more, spend less and get rid of that miserable ‘nothing to wear’ feeling this year.

It’s all very well showing retailers’ studio photos of great styles but frankly most of us at my age won’t look much like this when we wear them.  So I make try-on videos – see them on my YouTube channel: I’m Mother of the Bride – and posts like this one to give you confidence to buy and wear clothes you see online.

Selfie in mirror showing my Capsule Wardrobe base colors of navy and white
Navy and white base colors for Spring capsule

In 10 Steps to Create a Capsule Wardrobe when You’re Over 50 you can learn my step by step recipe for creating an inexpensive and useful Capsule Wardrobe. 

In this post I’ll follow my Capsule Wardrobe 10 Step Recipe and tell you why I chose what I did from my own closet.

So here are the try-ons of items I chose for my own Spring 2020 Capsule Wardrobe.  Most are one or more years old because I don’t think you need to buy more than a few key items each season to bring your clothing collection up to date – as long as it is organized as a capsule.

Step 1 Setting my base color

What was important for me: Neutral, easy to wear, lots of available items to buy, some available items already in my closet.

My decision: Navy and white

Step 2 Choosing a  secondary color

My criteria – fashionable, right for the season, a change from my colors over the winter. I was also thinking about what I might pick up in the sales right now as well as what I already have on my hanging rail.

My decision: Green

A pale pink cardigan over a blue top with dark blue elastic waist trousers and white sneakers for Spring 2020 wardrobe
Pink cardigan adds the special color to my Capsule Wardrobe

Step 3 Deciding on one special color

I wanted to choose a color that lifted the whole capsule from being too put-together but that wasn’t too loud. (I see springtime as a soft and gentle awakening rather than an alarm clock screaming ‘Wake up!’.)

I decided to go with pink.

Patterned pants go with green top and pink cardigan and sneakers for my capsule wardrobe
Floral cigarette pants add interest and reflect the pink and green tops

Step 4 Selecting three bottoms

These will get a lot of use so I had to think carefully about which pants or skirts I would include.

They’d have to be easy to dress up or down and all look right and be the right length with my capsule footwear.

I wanted to include my base color but add some pattern so I didn’t look as if I was off to the office. Plus I didn’t want three pairs of jeans for example. I wanted different styles for each item.

I decided on:

  • Mid to dark wash Mom jeans which are comfy with neat straight legs to help me look slimmer and taller. I bought these new for the capsule.
  • Blue and black small patterned silky elasticated waist trousers. I’ve had these for a couple of years, though not worn them that much. They are very relaxed and easy to wear. You can roll up the hems. You can tuck in a top or leave it to hang over. And the waist can be shifted up or down a little to look right for the style and length you want to achieve.
  • Pencil pants in white with a floral multi-color pattern. They have stretch and a small ankle vent so they fit smoothly everywhere. No belt needed to spoil the outline either. They can be turned up depending on shoes and can be dressed up to look smart.

Step 5 Decide on 9 tops

Here’s what matters to me:

  • Nothing that needs ironing
  • Easy to roll and pack
  • Short sleeves for warm days
  • Three quarter sleeves for bright days
  • Layers and long sleeves for breezy days
  • Layers must be able to be worn alone or buttoned over a tank top for e.g. evening to make as many outfits as possible
  • Minimum of manmade fabrics so I don’t get too hot

And so here’s what I decided on:

  • Green cotton cap sleeve tee with net detail at front and tie detail at back
  • Three quarter sleeve Breton stripe tee in thick cotton bought a couple of months ago
  • Pale blue long sleeve tee with stud shoulder detail in thick cotton bought new for the capsule.
  • Navy knitted cotton (looks like wool) top with ribbon tie detail at the back.
  • Blue-green short three quarter sleeve cashmere cardigan (Boden no longer stocks this jade color but here are the current colors it comes in – Cashmere Crop Crew Cardigan
  • Pale pink 2-piece twin set
Lockdown outfit from spring capsule wardrobe includes mask plus shades of blue and white across top and pants
Ready to go the supermarket May 2020

Step 6 Choosing Footwear x 2

I knew that my footwear had to be comfortable for a day sightseeing, walking round museums and strolling through village markets, because I do that more in Spring than at any other time of the year.

And my two pairs of shoes must be able to be worn with my Capsule dress as well as all three pairs of pants.

My lifestyle does not require any formal or heeled shoes. And I do not feel good in pointy styles, even flats, which crush my square little foootsies these days!

What I chose:

Rose-gold sneakers which give a little height. I bought them last summer for the dancing at my daughter’s wedding. Never thought I’d wear them again but they look just right with my capsule special color.

White school-style plimsolls which I bought last year and never got round to wearing. They make me feel springy and sporty – even when I’m just on my single essential shopping trip each week during lockdown.

This stripey backpack in navy and white goes with the blue trousers and pale blu tee
Stripey backpack to go with blue and navy outfit

Step 7 Choosing a bag or bags

How I chose: I like to carry a cross-body bag for shopping and sight-seeing because I know I can keep my hand on my purse if I need to. This helps me feel confident and relaxed in crowds.

But I also need a larger bag for when I’m out all day or on a longer walk and need a jumper, an umbrella, a camera etc etc!

My selection: I included a small envelope style cross-body bag in blue leather. (Note – when I looked at it I noticed the strap and the front pocket flap had started to curl slightly and at first I thought I couldn’t wear it another season. But I ironed it. And I reckon that gave it a second life!)

A medium size striped draw-string backpack in navy and off-white canvas.

Navy Mom jeans, pink sneakers, pink jumper with multi silk scarf for Spring 2020
A small silk scarf sets off the navy Mom jeans and pink top in my capsule

Step 8 Selecting accessories

I knew I would need at least one scarf I can wrap over my head, nose and mouth during self-distancing in shops whilst the Corona Virus is still among us. Plus I like to have a cotton scarf to tuck in at the neck or loop about me for cooler days.

Then I needed a very few pieces of simple jewelry that would look right with most outfits in the capsule.

Here’s what I settled on:

  • Two long fine cotton scarves one mainly blue, one white and green
  • A small silk square I’ve had for years and years but haven’t worn for ages
  • Pearl stud earrings
  • Minimal black and green necklace (Sahara London)
  • Pink and gold double bangle that unwinds to wear as a necklet. I bought it in a small shop in St Tropez in February when the sun was beaming down on me. So it carries a nice memory with it, every time I put it on.
Midi greenish blue dress with white sneakers and green cardigan complete my spring wardrobe
Green-blue bubble dress and necklace by Sahara with cashmere cardigan by Boden

Step 9 One special item

I just wanted something that would make me look and feel different now and again.

So I chose a blue-green bubble midi dress from Sahara London that I don’t wear very often. But I love it. Over the next weeks I will try it with various accessories and layers so I get more used to putting it on. Otherwise it might just get left stranded in the ‘who knows when I’ll next wear this’ section of my closet.

I like the slightly bonkers vibe of this over-long oddly-shaped dress.  It gets away from my neat navy and white look. It’s a bit of a ‘look at me’ outfit.  It says (I hope!!) yes, I know this dress is rather drowning me but that’s because I have a slightly unconventional streak – but always in very good taste of course  haha!  It’s my slight bow to boho chic.

Step 10 Check, snap, hang or toss

Check:

  • Does everything work with (just about) everything else?  Yes.
  • Will it take me day to evening, warm sunshine to cooler days?  Yes
  • Is every single item comfortable to wear, whether I’m standing, sitting or walking around town? Yes
  • Is there a range of textures and patterns to stop the collection looking too safe?  Yes
  • Can I get it all into my carry-on flight bag when I visit family and friends in the UK? Yes
  • Is everything non-iron if I roll items when packing and hang them as soon as I arrive? Yes

Snap:

My phone is now well-stocked with images of my capsule items.

Hang: 

Yes I’ve got the whole collection on a short hanging rail and I’ve got a shelf of extra items that can extend the capsule from time to time.  The rest of my clothes are stored away.

Toss:

What am I going to donate to charity and clothes collection points to make up for the few items I have bought this year?  I’ve got 3 pairs of trousers/jeans that don’t fit any more.  I’ve got several tees that saw sterling service over the past two years but, frankly, are a bit washed out now.  Shoes?  I’ve set aside three pairs that are a bit shabby now and decided to donate a good pair that I’ve never really liked wearing.

Phew.  That’s done.

Bonus Step – Start a Capsule Wardrobe Spring 2020 Pinterest Board 

Well I already have lots of boards for topics on this blog but my photos from this post and from the laid out clothes in the Capsule Wardrobe over 50 post are  now all added to one of my secret Pinterest boards. 

And I’ve started adding ideas to it already as I’d like to find some blue or green sneakers. 

I’ve set up my Capsule Wardrobe Summer 2020 board too as I need somewhere to store ideas as I browse online and look through the sales.  I can transition some of my spring capsule to summer but not all.  And I definitely need some more items.  I just can’t decide on my special color for summer yet.

Now it’s your turn

I hope this try-on post helps you sort through your closet and list out any items you need – there are amazing sales on right now (lockdown 2020).  That way you’ll always have outfits you enjoy wearing without dashing out to buy new things at the last moment. 

You’ll feel a weight lifted off your shoulders when you’ve organised your season’s capsule wardrobe.  And, guilt-free, you’ll be able to indulge your urge to splurge knowing what you buy will work really hard for you.

We’re so lucky to have online shopping these days so that we don’t miss our fashion fix even though we are confined to home.  And I don’t know about you but I love to get dressed up and look good in the mirror even if nobody else sees me!  These days I dress for me. 

So, keep safe over these coming weeks. 

Other posts in this series

10 Steps to Create a Capsule Wardrobe When You’re Over 50

2020 Best White Shirts for Women 50+

Best Mom Jeans 2020

The Best Cardigans for Women Over 50 and How to Style Them

Comments

  1. Pingback: 2020 best white shirts for women 50+ | I'm Mother of the Bride

  2. Thank you, thank you. I’m 72 and you are the first woman talking about what to wear that has a figure like the average woman (not somebody who is model thin.

    1. Author

      Susan thank you so much for your comment. I’m just about to be 71 and am 25% overweight. But I refuse to be invisible! Yes I know there are a few women who still maintain beautiful figures but what about the average women of 70? My site is all about her/us!

      1. Fantastic! I’m nearly 68 and am 15# overweight. I really appreciate your realistic viewpoint and real clothing! I’m trying very hard to downsize my overflowing closet. It’s always organized but is too full. How much do you keep stored away? Is it approximately the same amount for each season? Now days our seasons overlap so much (thanks Global warming!) that I often pull out stuff that’s typically warm weather clothing to wear into autumn or spring. Do you keep a section of clothing for gardening/yard work?

        Thank you again for inspiring me!

        1. Author

          Hi Su.
          I keep one rail (not even in my closet) with strictly my season’s capsule wardrobe hanging there with plenty of space between hangers so nothing gets crushed. Then I have a section in my closet for ‘additions’ so a few extra tees and a couple of summer dresses right now. This section is right at the front so very easy to access. Then I start to assemble my next season’s capsule which gets hung next to the ‘additions’ as I often take things out to see how they fit and match up. So if the weather suddenly turned cold in early September I’d have some warmer outfits there ready, even if not organized perfectly. We used to say here in France that September was the beginning of Fall but frankly my Fall capsule isn’t ready till mid month because the weather is still warm. And yes I keep sports clothes separate. And I reuse shoes and clothes that are tatty for gardening, DIY and house painting.
          Thanks for your comment it’s always lovely to hear from other women and helps me get ideas for what to write about.
          Joni

  3. What a find is this site Joni and my sister lives in France retired there leaving me the short chubby one with fat ankles here in UK! I am just a year older than you and there are no representative models for us in the shops. Just because we’ve put on weight we don’t grow enormous arms either.

    Your tips are great especially about the thick ankles but where do I buy the ankle boots to fit? Perhaps you could suggest some? Can’t wear a heel due to arthritic foot – what a crock. However I can still get my hair dyed beautifully courtesy of my lovely Aveda stylist ( well you’ve got to treat yourself).

    Keep up the good work

    1. Author

      Hi Jan. Thanks for taking the time to comment – it makes my day!
      I’ll do some research on ankle boots for thicker ankles. If I come up with anything worthwhile I’ll contact you direct (could be a few weeks because I am busy putting together some posts re the autumn plus a style course for older women).
      Yes you are right to treat yourself. We’ve worked hard all our lives and cared for our families so I personally feel no guilt whatsoever in thinking about me and buying for me.
      Joni x

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