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.
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
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.
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.
- White tee with broderie short sleeve detail. I bought this new from JohnLewis.com.
- White sleeveless long tank top mainly for wearing under layers. I bought this new from JohnLewis.com.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
My phone is now well-stocked with images of my capsule items.
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.
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+
Pingback: 2020 best white shirts for women 50+ | I'm Mother of the Bride
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.
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!
I enjoyed your article. Good ideas.
Thanks Marcia. Lovely to hear from you.
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!
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.
No way you look frumpy the pants make you like you just got out of bed and the shoes dont cut it.
I am 70 and l like to look fresh lady like and feminine.
Hi Dwina. I agree these pants are very casual! Thanks for your opinion. Joni x
Dwindled, Unfortunately your comment was not lady like, be nice.
I agree with you 100%. These are not “city” clothes. And, those pants with elastic waists; they’re just awful. They are baggy and frumpy looking.
The long dress looks terrible!
These clothes are definitely NOT my style.
Oh dear, TorontoLady. You’re on the wrong blog I fear! I don’t do city any more. Happy New Year. Joni
I just bought THREE pair of elastic waist pants from LANDS END! Comfy but NOT frumpy!
Also bought cords from TALBOTS! Also bought one cream top with subtle applique AND one grey top with lovely applique. Lovely AND yet blingy!
I don’t ADORE pants you can roll up. How things look on me is how I wear them…no major adjustments.
I’m a BRIGHT WINTER. FUSCHIA and TEAL and ROYAL BLUE are my go to colors. Tiny bits of navy and gray to pull it all together. I would ♥️ to see you choose one “pow color” to add a bit of ZIP! 💋
H Mildred. I love that you have a color palette. And I’ll give the idea of ‘zip’ a bit of thought for future capsule wardrobes! Joni x
I’m 65 with health + fatigue issues YET I STILL want to look DAMN GOOD! THAN YOU for writing this for us!
Hi again Mildred. It’s so easy to get into the ‘who cares anyway?’ frame of mind as we get older, don’t go out so much and probably struggle with weight issues. But I’ve found that getting dressed up well every morning even if I’m only walking into town for a coffee, puts me in a much more positive mood. I’m not ready to sign out of this interesting and bewildering life quite yet!! Joni x
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
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.
ZAPPOS might work for online shopping! I also ♥️ SKETCHERS for ease in walking. Alas due to stroke I no longer can tie shoe laces. SKETCHERS to the rescue!
So glad we can share on your web site!
Hi Mildred. yes I should lookinto Zappos and Sketchers. Thanks. Joni x
Thanks for your ideas. I’m 72 and don’t want to look like I’m trying to look too young. I don’t like to wear shorts because I have a lot of veins on my legs. They’re a little heavy also. I don’t exercise as much as I should. I envy you living in France.
Thanks for your comment Mar. Yes, I used to avoid shorts but now I wear ones that are quite wide and come down to the knee – about the same then as a summer frock. I must say I love wearing them now – they’re cool-ish and look sporty even if I never do more in them than walk to the shops! It’s lovely to hear from someone my age. Thanks for visiting my site. Joni
I am 85 and I am so excited that I happened onto your blog, Mother of the Bride. Wish I had a while ago, it would have saved me some $$. I think that I have read all you have written, shown above. If you’ve done any for the first three months of 2021 I would like to read those also. I especially gained from reading the comments on the wearing of cardigans and other sweaters. Now I hope I can make myself make room in my closet by getting rid of some things “I made need sometime”. Saw you trying on clothes and love the black and green dress.
Great to hear from you. You inspire us all by your active interest in style at 85. Why would we ever want to give up on being the very best person we can be in all aspects of our life? I noticed you signed up for the newsletter but your inbox has been full. I try to send a short letter about every two weeks including a bit about recent articles here on my site. A big thank-you for being part of our little community. Joni x
Thank you for your capsule wardrobe at 70. Brilliant. I am 70 now and actually went into the sea 5 times since August. Last time was decades ago in Deal, Kent, where I live now. I loved the navy town shorts. Smart and casual. Company called wearethought are brilliant and I bought them in the sale this week. I’ve shrunk in height and no longer wear maxi dresses as they tend to emphasise my shortness. My middle has somewhat expanded too. Long grey tonal hair so it can be put up or down. I’m somewhat Boho in style mixed with casual. I do like some of the midi dresses in Joe Brown’s catalogue and on line. Continue with the immotherofthebride.com as it’s very uplifting to read. Take care and a big thank you in showing the clothes on a healthy looking lady. Best Wishes Bernarda Frayne.
Hi Bernarda. Thanks for your comments. I was in Deal last month what a pity I didn’t get this comment earlier or we could have met up! It’s a really lovely place to live, lucky you! Joni x
Hi Bernarda. Great to hear from you. Yes you sound a Boho style-type. Perfect for living in Deal! What a pity I didn’t pick up your comment last month when I was in Deal. We could have met up. I’m not in the UK all year. Deal is a beautiful place to live, lucky you! Joni x
Well, where have I been to have missed, until now, your enthusiastic viewpoints about capsule dressing. I am 74, nxt wk, & its time to rethink my enormous closet of well-used but tired clothing. Travelling, crafting & sewing is my life now. I need clothing that I can pack on a whim & arrive cool, calm, relaxed & mostly unwrinkled! Living in Canada exposes you to unpredictable weather needs as well as more limited funds due to poor exchange rates. Nevertheless, my plan is to accomplish a useable travel & home capsule wardrobe for Spring 2023!
Thankyou for sharing – love the photos!
Hi Carole in Canada! You’ll love your more organized closet. Take a look at some of the more recent capsules I’ve shown – just input Capsule Wardrobe into the search area. Also take a look at what’s included in the Mature Style Course – see menu at top or under post – in case you decide you’d like step by step help to motivate you. Thanks for commenting. Joni x
Love Monica! What a great and positive attitude.
Thank you. Great idea, I dress the way I feel comfortable I don’t think about my ages😍
Exactly Alicia! Joni x
So happy to have found you! I so appreciate the thought you put into the capsule wardrobe. II live in campers all year in the USA. in the south in the winter and in the north for the summer. I have limited space and a modest budget, but I have an active life. I am 75 and want to keep my style current, but not foolish for my age. In response to others, the pieces can be in the look you want, but the concepts of number of garments in consideration of weather, activities, and events for a predominantly casual lifestyle is spot on. Thank you so much!
Hi Iris (fabulous name by the way! I too have downsized over the last years and I have to say I like my life more because of that. Thanks for your comments. Joni x
Hi Joni, I am 72 and have a capsule wardrobe very like yours. I live in rural England, and spend most of my time in the garden, so it has to be practical and easy to care for. I think the only addition I have, which I absolutely love are culottes, in soft, floaty fabrics, which work well, especially if I need to look a bit dressier. We also enjoy travelling, so again need everything to be easy to pack ! Look forward to more ideas from you.
Hi Jane. Thanks for the comment. Yes culottes can be a great addition to a wardrobe taking it easily from casual to a bit dressier. Joni x
Loved this blog. Very insightful for us older ladies (I am 80). Keep up the good work. I am especially interested in some short boots with low heels as I have thicker ankles.
Hi Roena Have you read the post I wrote on shoes for thicker ankles? Low heels are safer for us as we get over 70 so I never wear any thin heels these days either. Joni x
November 8, 2022
I’ve just discovered you – really enjoyed your capsule wardrobe plans and all the comments. I realize this posting is a couple years old, but the ideas can translate with time. I recently wrote a note to the Good Housekeeping Magazine asking for articles on make-up and fashion for women in 70’s and 80’s. They seem to think good fashion ends at 50! I’m 84 and believe we’re old, but we still have our vanity and like to stay fashionable without being frumpy or “teeny-boppy”. (Have never heard from the magazine, of course!) Anyway, I’ll try to follow you now and will look forward to good ideas!
When I was twenty I thought style finished at 50. Then I got to fifty and…. So thanks for your vote of confidence. By the way I post my capsule wardrobes every three months – you can search for all of them by writing Capsule in the search area. Joni x
Gee, thanks. Short sleeves for warm days, three quarter sleeves for breezy days and long sleeves for cool days. Great info. Who’d thought n
Thank you so much for this wonderful article. I had been a caregiver for three years until my husband recently passed. In that time I put on 25 pounds and almost nothing in my wardrobe fits anymore, other than pants and tees. I love that you described how to put together a capsule wardrobe with your own personal flare and style. Right now, I have a limited budget and the way you described what to purchase and why, makes total sense to me. I appreciate that you chose to share this information to help out people just like me.
Hi maggie, good to hear your story. Yes, retiring from work, putting on weight, illness and simply going out very little when you are needed constantly at home – all these life events make us older women retink how we dress. But finding the enthusiasm to reorganize our closet pays dividends in making us feel restored and ready for the next stage of our fascinating ever-changing lives. Joni x
You look great not frumpy. If you like loose clothes, then that’s what you should wear. One of the great things about reaching a certain age is that we can be ourselves. You do you!
I am petite and thin so I wear what makes me feel good. Some might say I dress too young for my age, but I don’t mind. I do what makes me happy.
Your capsule wardrobe is a great idea, especially for traveling.
Hi Carolyn. I think the ‘too young for your age’ attitude is narrow-minded these days. You dress to reflect your personality and lifestyle – you obviously feel good, perhaps others your age don’t feel that vibe and dress differently. But that’s not a reason to say one style is better than the other. I remember when at the ripe old age of 30 I thought people would say ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ if I wore a pony-tail. Toady and a very different age I still wear a pony-tail from time to time! Joni x
I hate to tell you, but those navy blue checked pants with the pockets and gathered up waist do NOTHING for your figure.
Hi Judy. Take a look at my more recent capsule wardrobes to get styles you might prefer. ‘Hate to tell’ or love to tell, perhaps???
I love your last three looks. I am over weight and struggle with looking frumpy. I really think you can wear more fitted jeans if they are stretchy and high waisted.
Glad you found the article interesting Jody! Joni x
Don’t be offended but in my opinion either the photography was poor or everything you showed accentuated your height and gathered bulk to your midsection. Wearing frumpy pants with big pockets may be comfortable but they do nothing for your figure. I didn’t know that just because a woman retired or reached a certain age she was no longer expected to wear feminine form fitting clothing.
Hi GG. This is just my slightly slouchy super casual style. If you have the figure then certainly feminine close-fitting dresses and tops will look great on you. But I’m a short broad person and even when I was younger I never looked great in figure-hugging clothes, sadly.
You sound like you’ve discovered your style…and that’s what I’m hoping every woman will do…look and feel confident whatever their age. Joni x
Thanks enjoyed your article. Gave a lot of insight and thought.
Hi Delmay. Glad you found that post useful. Joni x