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  • Whole Child Counseling

How to Curate a Teacher or School Counselor Capsule Wardrobe

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

I got in a slump for a few years where I was working in a stressful school environment, and since I was pretty stressed, I wasn’t really paying attention to what I wore or my self-image. Almost everyday, I ended up wearing leggings or yoga pants, t-shirts, and chucks (converse sneakers) and I felt so blah.

While I do still love all my converse dearly, when I was finally able to leave that environment and spend some more time focusing on myself, I found I really enjoyed curating a wardrobe and it ended up being a self-care task for me!

After joining Outfit Formulas, shopping sustainably on thredup (click here for $10 off), and taking care of my nails as my weekly self-care ritual thanks to olive and june, I realized that when I dressed better, I felt a lot better too!

If creating a capsule wardrobe interests you, I highly recommend checking out Outfit Formulas by Alison Lumbatis! She wrote the helpful book: The Ultimate Book of Outfit Formulas: A Stylish Solution to What Should I Wear?

Alison also puts out timely seasonal capsules, and best of all, she has created an uplifting and supportive online community of women. You might be interested in her work wear closet staples or even the seasonal outfit formulas. I ended up having so much fun and loving Outfit Formulas so much that after building my basic capsule wardrobe, I signed up for the seasonal formulas too!

What is a Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a small, curated collection of clothes that pair well together and can be worn in different ways day to day. The capsule wardrobe includes good quality basic or staple garments that make up the foundational pieces of your wardrobe. The term “Capsule Wardrobe” was coined in the 1970’s by Susie Fox.

If you are a minimalist, these clothing pieces might even be your complete wardrobe by themselves, or you might consider a different capsule for the four different seasons – summer, fall, winter, and spring. In other words, if you find the right pieces for your capsule wardrobe, you wouldn’t necessarily need anything else to wear, because you could achieve a large number of looks with a few garments.

The most canonical lists start with a white shirt and t-shirt, jeans, a little black dress, a trench coat, and all those pieces that, in general, are usually associated with a classic style that orbits around the basics. But more up-to-date approaches speak of more relaxed customization.

What are the Benefits of a Teacher or School Counselor Capsule Wardrobe?

Most of us educators (school counselors, teachers, etc) also have other roles in our lives, like being parents, and so we are often very busy people. So you may be thinking that having a limited number of clothes is an impossible task to achieve, so first I’ll share some of the benefits of a teacher or counselor capsule wardrobe so you can decide for yourself!

  • You’ll save time. By not having so many clothes to choose from or clothes hidden in the corners of your closet, you’ll be able to find everything more easily, and the time you invest in getting ready decreases considerably.

  • You won't accumulate so much extra stuff that you don’t need. Your closet will look fresh and super organized since you’ll stop filling it with clothes that you don’t need!

  • You’ll save money. You’ll stop buying things just for the urge to have them. Honestly, how many times have you gone out shopping and returned with a full bag just because things were on sale!? With a capsule wardrobe, you’ll have everything you need, and better yet, you’ll love and use every piece.

  • You’ll become more creative with your wardrobe. By having only a specific number of garments, you’ll find new uses and alternatives for them; your accessories will play an important role in this stage. If you take risks, you’ll eb able to create some great combinations.

  • You’ll perfect your own unique style. Thanks to the fact that you’ll have the pieces that you like the most and with which you feel the best, you’ll begin to discover what colors favor you (I had a color analysis done to find out what colors look best on me - this was very cool and I highly recommend doing it!), what fabrics you like the most, and what combinations you prefer. This will help think twice before buying something new.

  • You’ll appreciate and find joy in what you do have!

How to Curate a Capsule Wardrobe for Teachers, Educators, and School Counselors

The first step to curating a capsule wardrobe is to go through your current clothing and clean everything out. I like to read or watch some Marie Kondo to get me inspired to keep what sparks joy and let go of the rest!

You can start by getting four bags or boxes and labeling them before sorting everything out:

1) Keep it

2) Recycle it (find a local fabric recycling near you!)

3) Donate it

4) Sell it (you can sell at a local consignment store or online at thredup.)

Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself and consider when cleaning out and pairing down your current wardrobe:

  • Is this in good shape (is it faded, need to be mended, etc.)

  • Does this fit me now?

  • Would I buy this today?

  • Does this represent me and how I want to show up in the world?

  • Do I feel good in this right now?

A good piece of advice is to buy quality since now you will use your clothes more times and the wear is likely to be greater, so buy staple pieces that’ll last. I like to invest in my staple/key pieces and then seasonally by a couple of more trendy/cheaper pieces. I like to shop sustainably (because I care about the planet) and buy high quality consignment pieces through thredup.

Staple Pieces in a Teacher Capsule Wardrobe:

The v-neck shirt can be combined with the women’s vintage flared pleated skirts in multiple colors, and also goes with the Elastossplit Grecian leather shoe.

The women’s casual linen blouse V-neck long sleeve button-down blouse can be paired with Levi’s women’s 311 slim & shaping jeans, with women’s flat loafers.

These women's jumpsuit/overalls come with a simple but generous loose wide-leg style. The adjustable buckle straps are helpful because you can adjust the length to fit your comfort and height well.

This looks perfect with a simple t-shirt, in warmer weather or a long-sleeved shirt during colder seasons. This looks good with a denim jacket or coat. Pair with heels to go out after work, with white tennis shoes or women’s ankle strap low wedge flats. It is very versatile for all seasons.

This high waisted pleated solid skirt presents a simple and unicolor design that never goes out of style. This lined skirt is suitable for spring, autumn and winter, and is easy to match with all kinds of blouses, and it’s also perfect with white sneakers or taupe slides.

Classic White Crew Neck T-Shirt (my tip for a white t-shirt is to keep a tide pen in your desk!)

The elegant casual fall dresses for women with pockets can be worn formally or casually, and it is suitable for your capsule wardrobes, which can be worn with thw taupe slides.

A Blazer Cardigan is so versatile and can be paired with jeans, trousers, and any t-shirt, button down, or blouse.

This button-down solid short-sleeve peplum shirt can be paired with your skirt, jeans, or trousers, and can also be worn with the classic ballet shoe.

Women's black trouser pants, are a work-classic, and are perfect for mixing and matching with your short-sleeved solid-colored blouse, or any favorite tops. These can easily be paired with a simple flat shoe.

A casual petal bow tie chiffon blouse shirt can be combined with your Levi’s jeans, black pants, your high waist loose skirt, or any other skirt of your choice.

The short sleeve floral print mini dress has pockets and can be combined with wedge sandals or even white sneakers and a denim jacket for a more casual look.

Of course, I couldn't have a teacher capsule wardrobe checklist without including a denim jacket! This is a must-have that is great for the spring or fall and can be added to complete any outfit or even dress-down a dress (pair with those white chuck taylors) for a more casual look.

What else would you add to this list? Let me know over on instagram! And if this post has you intrigued, but you need a little more help and want some direction from a stylist, you need to check out Outfit Formulas!



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