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Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Lessons I Learned from My Mom

Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Lessons I learned From My Mom

My mom had a minimalist capsule wardrobe before it was even a thing

“And every season Mother would take us clothes shopping. All I wanted was 5 blouses, 5 skirts, a new pair of shoes, and a coat if it was cold. Mother would encourage me to pick a few more things because she loved clothes, but that’s all I wanted, even though I could have had anything.” Every time my mom told this story I would stare at her in disbelief. Why would you only get 5? 

Because my Mom was born a minimalist. It speaks to her, and having a minimalist capsule wardrobe isn’t a trend she adopted, it’s what she has always preferred.

My mom would never call herself a fashionista. Ever. She’s not trendy or fashion forward. She doesn’t buy the popular brands or wear designer items, and she never reads fashion magazines or blogs (except mine. Thanks, mom!). But she is beautiful, classic, timeless, and always put together. 

We never discussed fashion or style when I was growing up, but by her example she taught me some very important style lessons that have had a big impact on my style throughout my life, and a big impact on the Stunning Style Wardrobe Guides.

In honor of Mother’s Day, I want to honor my mother by sharing the style lessons I learned from her.

April from Stunning Style's mother wearing a minimalist capsule wardrobe.
My mom, isn't she beautiful?

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GET UP AND GET DRESSED EVERY DAY

Not once has my mom left home without makeup and hair done, and dressed in an outfit. She’s never owned lounge clothes or spent the day in her pajamas, unless she was so sick she can’t get out of bed. As a busy mother of six kids, she always took time each morning to make herself look nice. Wherever we went, I was always proud of how my mom looked.

Her minimalist capsule wardrobe made getting dressed a cinch, and I’ll share what made that possible below.

I’ve always followed her example, and even with infant triplets, I still took 20 minutes every day to put on real clothes, a little makeup and at the very least brush my hair into a slick, chic ponytail. Getting dressed every day makes me feel so much better, and I’m grateful for her example.

April from Stunning Style's mother wearing a minimalist capsule wardrobe.
Even on Christmas morning she got up and got ready!

KNOW WHAT SUITS YOU

My mom learned her colors from Color Me Beautiful in the 80s, and she still sticks to them. She also knows what silhouettes suit her body type, and what brands tend to suit her style, colors, and body type, and she sticks to them. Everything in her minimalist capsule wardrobe is perfect for her.

As a child she had me draped as well, and we are both Winters. I’ve always known my best colors, and except for a few lost years in the midst of motherhood, I’ve stuck to them. Sticking to the best silhouettes to suit my style and body type, and my go-to brands makes shopping easier than ever.

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BUY ALL THE COLORS

Whenever she finds something perfect, her rule is, buy it in all the colors (I shared how this is my number one shopping trick and downfall). Fabulous fitting slacks? She needs them in black and navy. A wonderful blouse? She’ll take it in all the colors, please. If it works, then lather, rinse, repeat. No need to go hunting when perfection lays before her. 

It’s smart shopping, which works especially well for her since she would rather take a hot poker to the eye than go shopping. And because her style is so classic, she can wear those items for years.

I do the exact same thing – I found my perfect jeans, and I never stray. They fit me perfectly, stretch but don’t stretch out, suit my body type, and I have multiple pairs in each color. My closet is full of repeats of my favorite button up shirt, favorite tee, etc., and I buy them in every color that matches my wardrobe. It’s so hard to find the right thing, and when I do, I want them all!

April from Stunning Style's mother wearing a minimalist capsule wardrobe.
April from Stunning Style's mother wearing a minimalist capsule wardrobe.
April from Stunning Style's mother wearing a minimalist capsule wardrobe.
If you love it, get it in all the colors!

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

My mom is a Cute Classic, so most of her minimalist capsule wardrobe items are timeless, and she wears them year after year. She buys what she loves, what suits her style and lifestyle, and she doesn’t stray. Buying for the sake of having a packed closet or a different outfit every day of the season has never been her style.

I’m such a sucker for the thrill of a deal, that for several years I bought things only because they were on sale or clearance, and I found myself with a packed closet full of clothes that I hated, didn’t suit me, and/or wore out after a season because they weren’t good quality. Pills, holes, fading, and stretching out all mean they went in the trash bin, not even fit to donate. 

Part of the problem was I still didn’t feel comfortable in my style, and I didn’t want to spend money on things I didn’t know I would wear enough to be worth it. Once I nailed my style I stopped doing that. Now I only buy what I truly love and suits me, I’m willing to invest in quality pieces, and I have reduced what is in my closet dramatically. I only keep what I love and wear.

My mom was pregnant with my little brother here.

TOO MUCH IS TOO MUCH

Even as an adult, my minimalist mom keeps a pretty tight wardrobe. As a kid with only 5 blouses, 5 skirts and a pair of shoes, it was easy for her to get dressed, keep track of her clothes, and keep her room tidy so she could focus on other things. She was rocking a capsule wardrobe before capsule wardrobes were cool.

I definitely have more than 5 skirts and blouses, but I feel so much relief in having a much reduced closet now. It used to be packed to the point I could hardly hang anything up. I’ve purged and purged and purged some more

While some purists wouldn’t call what I have a traditional capsule wardrobe, it is in my book because it only has what I love and wear, and it’s not constrained by an arbitrary number. I don’t have a technical one-in-one-out policy, but every season I re-evaluate and eliminate anything I don’t wear because that’s just noise.

This maternity dress lasted her 4 pregnancies.

BASICS ARE THE FOUNDATION OF EVERY Minimalist Capsule WARDROBE

Most of my mom’s clothes are basic foundational pieces in neutral colors, and she adds color and interest in small doses. That suits her personality and her coloring.

As a Minimal and Edgy Classic, I find I feel best when I do the same. I occasionally bust out a colorful outfit, but most of what I wear is black, white, and blue, minimal in design and style, and most of my interest, color, and edginess come in the details and accessories.

This timeless outfit is one she would still wear today. So would I.

WEAR THE TOO CUTE SHOES

As a Cute Classic, my mom will gasp with delight when she finds a pair of “too cute shoes,” as she calls them. Nothing calls to her like sequins, sparkles, glitter, and shine (in small doses), and her heart sings when she wears them. She was actually my inspiration when I wrote the Cute Classic post. Wearing too cute shoes shows her fun and sparkly side without being too silly or childish, because that’s not her either. She wears what she likes.

Finding those items that are so you make a minimalist capsule wardrobe work. Minimal doesn’t have to mean boring.

I wear the stabby and edgy items to show my razor sharp side. It balances out the classic side of me that can feel a little too minimal and matronly. My Edgy Classic style shows that I’m a force to be reckoned with, I get down to business, I get things done, and I don’t worry that others will think I’m too much.

KNOW YOUR UNIFORM

My mom will be the first to tell you she wears a uniform, and that she loves it. Closet staples include straight skirts, slacks, button ups, blazers, sheath dresses, the occasional cardigan, and flats. Her wardrobe is cohesive in both style and color palette, and she can mix and match her wardrobe freely because of it. Without having to sacrifice style, it simplifies her life, and who doesn’t want that? I can identify things that are so HER because her style is so consistent and so…HER!

Does that mean she never wears anything else? No. She has a few wild card items, but she knows where her heart lies, and when getting dressed needs to be easy and comfortable, her uniform is there for her.

My uniform is jeans, tees, sweaters, and button ups paired with flats, boots, or sandals. When it cools off, I love to add outerwear (jackets are my weakness). Knowing what I love to wear helps me avoid shopping mistakes. I love the simplicity of knowing my own personal dressing formulas.

One of my mom's uniforms is a sheath dress and blazer.

IT'S OK TO SPLURGE ON A SPECIAL ITEM

When you find that thing, the one that makes you gasp and go all heart eyes, and feel a little faint, the once in a lifetime find, it’s okay to splurge. Don’t splurge on everything, and definitely don’t spend beyond your budget, but don’t be so rigid that you don’t have a few special items in your wardrobe that make you feel amazing every time you wear them (which should be often). 

I remember my mom splurging on a handbag. It was so beautiful, classic, and perfect for her, and she carried it for years. Her bag went with everything she owned, and elevated every outfit because the quality was really nice. With a minimal capsule wardrobe, items are meant to last for years, and because you aren’t constantly shopping, you can invest in a few great pieces. 

Because my mom knows her style and what suits her, she is willing to pay for quality items that will last her several seasons. She knows that she will get so much wear and use out of them that they will be worth the price she paid, and also the time she saves not having to replace them every year. 

This black velvet blazer was a splurge, and she still has it!!

Does that mean she has a closet full of designer items? No. Quality doesn’t have to mean costly, but when it does, if it’s worth the price tag, she will invest in a perfect item. To her it’s more important to have a few great pieces rather than a closet full of meh. 

My splurge items are usually shoes, bags and outerwear, and they are also usually where I incorporate my personality in a wardrobe, so they are worth the splurge to me.

While my capsule wardrobe has more than 5 blouses and skirts, I’m continually refining my wardrobe following more and more of the minimal capsule wardrobe lessons I learned from my mom.

What about you? Which of these style lessons do you follow? Did you learn them from your mom? Happy Mother’s Day to all of you, whether you mother your own children or others’ children, I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

You can also read about the style lessons I learned from my dad.

Are You Ready To Create A Classic-Style Wardrobe That Makes You Feel Amazing?

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31 thoughts on “Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Lessons I Learned from My Mom”

  1. Mary Anne Seher

    You look a lot your mother. Stunning. Thanks for sharing. Motto of the story? Mother knows best! lol

  2. What a fun post! You look like your mother! 😀.
    My mother had a capsule wardrobe too and didn’t realize it. She knew what she liked and what looked best on her. She never had a lot of clothes, but what she had worked together and was good quality. She taught me how to pack for a trip. I asked her what I should pack for a trip when I was young. She said “lay out what you think you need and take half.”
    She was right!

    1. Thank you Mary! I love when people say I look like her. It’s such a compliment. Sounds like your mom and my mom have the same philosophy and taught us well!

  3. Stacy Johnson

    What a great way to honour your mom! I really enjoyed this post April – thanks for sharing and I hope you have a fabulous Mother’s Day!

  4. Gran really doesn’t own any sweatpants! She is always dressed up even when playing with us and the baby cousins. 🙂

  5. Let me be the millionth person to say how you look exactly like your very beautiful mother. I really enjoyed reading
    about her, how deeply she always knew her true North and her way of arranging things to suit herself exactly.

  6. This is my favourite post ever, April – fantastic advice from both you and your Mom, and gorgeous photos too. You look so much alike 🙂

  7. Mari Whittelsey

    What a wonderful lesson from your Mom. I continue to be surprised at your generosity in your personal sharing. Know that it makes a difference. Thank You

  8. April, Your mom is beautiful!! She gave you such a wonderful example with her minimal closet of classics. I have a mom who loves wearing classics and ALL the extra’s!!! She’s very fashionable!! I have two Bachelors…one in Fine Arts and the other in Business. I’m disabled so it doesn’t matter!!!

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