Sarah has 7 tops and 5 pairs of pants. How many different outfits can she make with her clothes?

Do you remember permutation problems? I do. Do you know what I remember about them? The part of the problem that they don’t explain how Sarah could deal with potentially clashing ensembles. She has 35 outfits, BUT DO THEY MATCH?

Ah, but my young mind didn’t know about the carefree lifestyle that can be found with capsule wardrobes.

In this post I’ll share my fall/winter capsule and how you too can bring 5th grade word problems to life with your closet.

Capsule Wardrobe is a fancy-sounding name for a handful of clothes that coordinate. Often, these collections are chosen for a season, though I’m sure it wouldn’t be necessary depending on your climate.

I choose to do mine seasonally. I sometimes have a hard time in the late fall and winter, so the ritual of bringing out my special clothes is actually part of what gets me into the seasonal changes.

So at the start of fall–usually around October 1– I’ll pull out my IKEA storage box and rifle around to find new clothes for the season. There’s always a transition period when the weather can’t decide what to do and I’m wearing sandals one day and three sweaters the next. But that’s actually fine because it gives me time to figure out what I have a what I need.

I usually start with a favorite item and look at the colors. I adore my burnt orange sweater, yellow floral motif top, and several navy printed scarves that I bought this year. Then I just fill in outfits with more prints and solids to make easily coordinated outfits.

How many do you need?

This is obviously a personal choice. Do you work outside the home and see the same people every day? Do you have a spit-up prone baby in your household? You may need more items than I have.

Ultimately, figure out how often you’d like to do laundry and count the number of days you’ll need clothes. Then add on a few more for fun. And to make sure you aren’t digging through your laundry looking for that top that only had a little bit of soup on it because everything else is way, way dirtier.

What do you count?

For Fall/Winter I count tops, pants, dress, scarves, sweaters, jackets. So another personal choice you’ll have to make is what honestly do you wear. If you don’t like wearing skirts in the cold weather, then just don’t even bother. How often do you go outdoors? Get messy?


Tops & Dresses

  1. Basic Black long sleeved top (Old Navy, 2015)
  2. Basic Maroon long sleeved top (Old Navy, 2016)
  3. Navy shirt style top (TJ Maxx, 2015)
  4. Denim top (Target, 2016)
  5. ‘Moon’ pattern top (Target, 2015)
  6. Yellow, orange, grey pattern top (Old Navy, 2015)
  7. Teal full length dress (ICNA vendor, 2016)

As you can see, most of my tops are pretty plain. This works well for layering. During seasons when I don’t layer, I tend to go for more patterns.

(I included the year of purchase to illustrate how little I shop!)

Sweaters & Jackets


These are the stars of fall and winter! Each one feels like a cozy hug.


  1. Burnt orange sweater (Target, 2015)
  2. Yellow sweater (Target, 2015)
  3. Basic Black (Target, 2014)
  4. Navy with flecks (JCP, 2015)
  5. Brown/black jacket (Benetton, long ago)


This is where you can get creative with your capsule.

I usually bring out one purse for the season. I have a handful of others, but I don’t change often.

I have one pair of shoes: Dansko clogs. They are a neutral black-brown and sturdy for nasty weather.

I recently got these two-layered gloves at Target. I like wearing just the grey part and having my fingers free!

Right now I’m not wearing much jewelry because of M, but I have a few fun bangles–though R usually ends up wearing them. Also, earrings can be great for pinning your scarf down during gusty fall winds.


As a hijabi, my scarves are an important part of my wardrobe. I buy them all over, but several of these came from Hijabican. I’ve also found cute options at H&M and Target. I am always attracted to gorgeous colors and patterns, but I have to make sure I have solids to go along too. Sometimes a subtle pattern on the scarf will even work along with a bolder one.


I don’t wear many skirts or dresses in the colder, wetter months. This season I have five pair of wide leg pants that I love.

  1. Jeans (Target, 2016)
  2. Basic Black (H&M, 2015)
  3. Basic Navy (ICNA vendor, 2016)
  4. Pattern navy and white (JCP, 2014)
  5. Pattern multi-color (H&M, 2015)

I have two coats (medium and heavyweight) and a small set of house clothes (4 bottoms, 5 tops, 2 sweatshirts) that I didn’t photograph. The house clothes obviously don’t coordinate but my main coat is grey, so it can play with anything. My big coat is brown and doesn’t really match but when it’s that cold, you don’t care so it’s ok.

The point of the capsule wardrobe is to make your life easier. Don’t get bogged down in numbers. Take an honest assessment of what you have and need for the season and then forget about it. You’ll get dressed in five minutes and be ready for your next adventure. Or Target. Wherever life takes you.

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