Fall Capsule Wardrobe Prep (Part 1) — Action Plan

July 20, 2017


It’s almost time for me to shop my favorite sale of the year!

It’s the middle of July which means that it’s time for my favorite sale of the year—the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale!  And I’m not alone.  Fashion bloggers and social media are a buzz with everyone’s top picks on what to buy at this year’s sale.  Here are some of my favorite’s:

But I can quickly become overwhelmed with all of this chatter about “what’s a must buy” and “what should be passed on” for this once a year sale.  All of these suggestions are great, but need to shop with an action plan for this sale.  I’m not good at on-site decision making and I’m an ex-shopaholic.  If I enter a store without a plan is going to be absolute chaos because I’ll be swept up in the excitement of the moment, succumb to the thrill of a great buy, and I most certainly will have on sales goggles and start buying things because I think it’s “a good deal.”  I shop best when I’ve outlined ahead of time what I’m going to buy.  Advance planning helps me to stay focused when I shop so that I buy things that fit my personal style, my lifestyle, and my budget.  It also helps to keep my shopaholic tendencies under lock and key, right where they belong.

If you’re a fellow shopaholic hopefully this plan will help you shop this sale with a focused eye.  And if you’ve already bought your stuff but can’t figure out what to keep and what to return, well this plan might help you too.

My action plan to shop the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (or any time I want to shop):

  1. What do I like?
  2. Step away for a day.
  3. What are my wardrobe holes?
  4. How will I wear this item with the pieces I already own?
  5. How will I wear this item with the pieces in my shopping cart?

Since Nordstrom allows non-cardholders to sneak a peek at what’s on sale, I use this feature to my advantage.  The early look helps me to plan before I shop the sale.

1.  What do I like?

Add everything that catches my eye to my wish list.  I accessed the online catalog the minute the sale allowed a sneak peek and as a first pass I added everything that I liked.  Pure impulse pre-shopping.  I didn’t focus on colors or styles or anything, just if I liked it.  I added 32 items without batting an eye.  To some this might sound like a lot, but when I look back on last year I had added a whopping 63 items!  So this year I’m down by roughly half—yay progress!  But 32 is still an awful lot to order!  Clearly some items just have to go.

2.  Step away for a day.

To give time for the shopping high to wear off I ignored my shopping cart for a day.  In truth, I ignored my shopping cart all week.  Instead I turned my sights onto all of the fashion bloggers reviews and tips that started to flood in.  I observed the feedback on fit and materials, as well as got a feel of what items look like on an actual body instead of the catalog image.  This feedback is very helpful because it will help me whittle down my choices later.  Will reviewing the recommendations from other people cause me to add to my shopping cart?  Maybe, but it doesn’t matter because this next step will begin the process of editing my shopping cart anyway.

3.  What are my wardrobe holes?

Before I can look at my wardrobe holes, first I have to decide what type of clothing I am shopping for at this year’s sale.  I already know that I own lots of heavy weight sweaters so I kept my focus narrow, only on fall friendly items.  This mindset also steers me away from adding any pieces to my summer capsule wardrobe, which is already finalized and in full swing for the season.  Immediately, anything in my shopping cart that was for winter or summer got deleted.  Heavy weight sweaters, cropped pants, short sleeve tops I can’t layer with a blazer or jacket, handbags, snow boots, all of this was removed leaving my cart filled with only fall items.

Next I sat down inside my closet and took inventory of my fall capsule wardrobe from last year to identify what my wardrobe holes were.  I also took a peek at my business capsule wardrobe to see if there were any wardrobe holes there too.

But what exactly is a wardrobe hole?  

A wardrobe hole is when you are missing a key item to complete an outfit with pieces you already own.   For example, I have purple jeans that I always wear with blue tops and this outfit would look great with navy or blue shoes, but my 3 pairs of flats are black, nude, and cognac.  So I made sure that my shopping cart has blue shoes in it that I want to try.  I also had a pair of taupe booties from last year’s sale that I really like, but only have 2 outfits I wear them with and both use an army style jacket, so I added a tunic shirt and sweater combination to try out as well as a embroidered print shirt.

After I’ve made sure that all my wardrobe holes are filled I made sure my staple items are in my cart.  Every year I pick up: lingerie wash, a new set of bath towels, bras, and underwear.

By now my cart is filled with fall only items, my wardrobe holes are filled, and I have my staples.  But there’s still extra stuff in my cart.  My next stop was to compare what’s left in my shopping cart versus what’s in my fall capsule wardrobe.  Where are the duplicates?  If I already own an item that will serve a specific function, then I don’t need a second one!  All of the duplicates got removed.  Since I’m looking on the computer sometimes colors are off, so if the item arrives in person and it is a duplicate it’ll be returned.

Then I moved on to what’s in my shopping cart that doesn’t fit my personal style or lifestyle.  Will I really wear a bell sleeve sweater?  Are ruffles really “me?”  Can my feet really handle a 3 inch heel for a daily shoe?  Anything that doesn’t fit my personal style or lifestyle were removed.

Even after all of these reviews, there’s still a few items left.  I want to make sure my style looks refreshed, but I do not want to purchase items that end up unworn, so I moved on to step 4.

4.  How will I wear this item with the pieces I already own?

To prevent owning a wardrobe item I cannot use in an outfit (also known as a wardrobe orphan), I looked at each item in my cart and asked myself, what outfit can I wear with this piece?  If there was nothing in my current capsule wardrobe to pair with it, the item could be removed.  But before I did that I had a follow up question.

5.  How will I wear this item with the pieces in my shopping cart?

As a follow up to the above question, I then asked myself, is there anything in my shopping cart I can pair with this item?  If I had nothing in my current wardrobe or my shopping cart that I could pair with it, the item was removed.

Remember, for steps 4 and 5:

I plan my wardrobe around outfits, not individual pieces.

If you’ve already shopped the sale and can’t decide what to keep or return, take each item and see if you can create an outfit with it.  How much new or old pieces you need to create an outfit is up to you, but this step will prevent you from owning pieces that sit in your closet unworn.  The same goes for editing your shopping cart.

Even after all of these reviews, there’s still one more thing to consider—MY BUDGET!  By this stage in the process I know what pieces will be good additions to my capsule wardrobe, but do they fit my budget?  This is sometimes the hardest step, because if I’m over budget then I have to remove items.  I’ll remove the full outfits I buy first because it’s cheaper to buy 1 item to complete an outfit than it is to buy an entirely new outfit.

If I still have to cull after removing outfits it’s time to decide what I want to keep based on how often I’ll wear it and the price itself.  I find the Anniversary Sale is a prime time to pick up higher priced items at a discounted price that I know I’ll use often, so I’ll typically remove the cheaper items to let me buy something that’s more expensive.  For example, I wear jeans often and I adore premium denim.  I’ll remove layering t-shirts that I know I can pick up later in the season so that I can keep a pair of premium denim jeans in my shopping cart.

With my shopping cart now sorted, I’m ready to shop!

Curious what was in my cart but didn’t survive until the end? Here are 2 outfits that I adore but am not ordering and why:


  1. Soft Colors.  This outfit is filled with soft colors which is right in line with my goal to lighten up my entire wardrobe over time.  But this cardigan is very casual and I already have casual cardigans in my fall capsule wardrobe.  I don’t need any short sleeve t-shirts going into the fall season.  The jeans have a raw hem, which is a style that my eye hasn’t adjusted to yet, they just look like someone cut the hem off and therefore unfinished to me.  The booties are very similar if not identical in color to a pair I already own from last year’s sale, and this bag is super cute, but too small for my wallet.
  2. Working Gal.  This outfit (bell sleeve top, kick flare trousers, slide loafer flats, and dome shape bag) would fit right in with my business capsule wardrobe, except the only item my business capsule could use from this look, is a new top!  And a bell sleeve top might drive me batty because it covers my hands.

Do you decide what to buy ahead of time or on-site?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s