Even though I have never blogged about my client, Mrs. Streamlined, before, I have been working with her for quite a few years now. The reason I gave her the alias Mrs. Streamlined is why she hasn’t been blogged about. We work in the most efficient manner because of how busy she is. She travels globally for work and over the years we have refined a system of working so we don’t even have to see each other.

The most recent iteration of our work plan has been for me to go to the store and not only pull options that she could consider but do it in a way where it is all capsuled ahead of time. By working this way, it’s even more straightforward and easy to understand without any additional steps, further explanation or additional appointments to create outfits.

While this plan is totally efficient for Mrs. Streamlined, it is a lot of work to pull together and takes several hours of work on my end to get it all together. But that’s my job, to make my clients’ lives easier, so it’s worth it.

How to Create a Wardrobe Capsule While Shopping

After I pulled together this wardrobe capsule while shopping, I thought how helpful it would be to create a post about it as most women are also looking for a way to leave the store with a small, tight capsule of clothes that can be mixed and matched. In this post, I will take you step-by-step through my process and how you can interpret it for yourself. I am also sharing the pieces that came together to make the capsule along with how I mixed and matched all the pieces to create multiple looks.

Step #1- Reserve a large dressing room, preferably one that you can leave and come back to

It’s important to know that you will never be able to create a wardrobe capsule while shopping without the ability to have a dressing room space you can reserve for a while. Avoid stores that require you to take only a certain amount of items in with you, where you don’t feel comfortable leaving things behind in the room and coming back. You need time, space and flexibility to create a wardrobe capsule in store and it’s impossible to do it in a space that doesn’t let you take your time or load up as you shop.

For me, this means reserving a dressing room in personal shopping. The rooms are bigger, I know the staff, I can take my time and I know what I leave behind is safe to come back to. If the store you are shopping doesn’t have personal shopping that you can access, find a store with roomy enough dressing rooms and explain to a salesperson what your plan is.

#2- Don’t start trying on until you have loaded everything in the room

Instead of bringing in a few things, trying it on, getting dressed again and going out to get more, load up the dressing room first. And take multiple sizes of one thing. Make several trips if you have to. Obviously in my situation, I’m not trying on and I pull before a client arrives, but in your case, you’re shopping and trying on. A smart plan would be to tell a salesperson you need a room and you want to pull prior. They shouldn’t have a problem with this plan. Once you have your room, take as many trips as you need to load up your room. Trust me, there isn’t a salesperson out there who will balk at a customer who brings several armfuls of clothes into a dressing room and may even give you more attention because they will see you as a serious shopper and a casual peruser.

#3- What to bring in

Now the difference between my situation with Mrs. Streamlined and yours is that I had to pull the entire capsule together without her present. This created its own set of issues because I had to have it thought out and the capsule built before she arrived later on that evening when I wasn’t there. This part can be overwhelming because even if I could find a large assortment of things that would work for her, I had to also make sure the pieces worked together. This involved being a really good editor and paying attention to the color palette that was coming together on its own.

My plan was to shop and simply start by pulling things I liked for Mrs. Streamlined. As I started loading the rack, I started to notice some consistency in a color story. As this prominent color story emerged, I continued to shop based on the palette that was presenting itself. I paid mind to continue to pick pieces that supported it vs. selecting items that came out of left field.

While shopping for your own capsule, there will be far less pressure than I was under. For you, the steps could be the following: Start by just pulling things that you like. Once the dressing room is filled, try everything on. Get rid of the duds and then keep your yesses and maybes. From there, look for a consistent color palette that emerges from all the possibles you are left with and decide which route you want to go with your palette and the pieces you feel are definite yesses. Next, eliminate, the pieces that don’t fit in that palette (this is where you need to be a good editor), and, lastly, look for the holes or needs that would round out this capsule. Get dressed and head out for another pass in the store for the things that would make the capsule complete.

#4- Consider what you already own

Few women start from scratch when building a capsule and, if anything, have the essentials already in their closets. For example, Mrs. Streamlined told me that she had all the basics, like black boots, beige pumps, a little black dress, black pants, and so on. While I didn’t need to pull these things because she was already covered, I did need to keep these things in mind to ensure that the capsule she brought home would assimilate nicely with her existing wardrobe. Be sure to consider your existing wardrobe before you create your own wardrobe capsule while shopping.

#5- Build outfits in the store

One of my services is outfit creation with my clients where I come back to their homes after we shop and show them how to incorporate the new buys with their existing wardrobes. In the case of Mrs. Streamlined, I needed to do this while at the store, photograph the outfits and text them to her before she arrived that evening so she could see exactly what my plan was for the things I pulled.

In your case, what I suggest is you mix-and-match while in the dressing room. Create the looks and photograph them if you want. This helps to avoid bringing home orphans and helps you see if something will get enough wear to make it worth the purchase.

Mrs. Streamlined Capsule

Shop for Mrs. Streamlined Capsule Pieces

  1. Elie Tahri 2. Hobbs 3. Ramy Brook 4. Reiss 5. Reiss 6. Hobbs 7. Elie Tahari 8. Hobbs 9. Frame 10. Theory 11. Hobbs 12. Theory 13. Theory 14. Hobbs 15. Botkier 16. Tory Burch 17. Theory 18. Hobbs 19. Aquatalia 20. Rag & Bone 21. Vince

Here is the capsule I pulled for Mrs. Streamline. In Mrs. Streamlined’s profession, she works with companies from start-ups to established corporations and needs a variety of different types of looks. The beauty of it was that Mrs. Streamlined could buy as much or as little of it as she needed without losing the connective thread of the capsule. Without me being there, I needed to give her enough options in case she didn’t like something, something didn’t fit, or she just didn’t want to buy that much. What I particularly like about this capsule is it all works together without looking repetitive. In a wardrobe capsule, not every piece should work with every piece, but all the pieces should work together. I know that sounds like a brain twister, but, basically, things should cross-reference enough that you should be able to get multiple outfits from each piece.

Mrs. Streamlined Outfits

Now the fun part, seeing how everything actually works together. Using the pieces above, plus a basic pair of black boots and a pair of beige pumps, I am creating over 35 outfits, plus some more if you count each shoe option per look, below. You will notice I didn’t use the coat in any of the outfits. I selected a coat that would work with every look, except for the leather jacket outfits, so I didn’t both adding it. What I also didn’t include were all the outfit options Mrs. Streamlined could wear with the base pieces she already owns, like the black pants or black dress. This post is long enough. Can you imagine if I included those pieces? It would be endless.

Outfit #1

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Outfit #38

If you want to create a tight, streamlined wardrobe capsule, you have to be willing to do the legwork on the front end to ensure success. You need to make time for it, you can’t shop willy nilly, and you have to consciously select things that support your capsule. I hope these tips help.