My fancy clothes capsule, revisited

Now that weddings are back in action, I’ve been enjoying the peace of mind of having a fancy dress capsule. What is a fancy dress capsule? It’s a few dresses and accessories that are all ready to go so that parties don’t cause you stress: frantic mall trip the week of the event stress, frantic morning of the event stress when you realize you don’t have a bra that works…all of that is a thing of the past! Here are my dress and accessory must-haves and a reflection on how my fancy items have changed in recent years.

First of all, all credit goes to Caroline for creating this concept. You can see her capsule here and my first attempt at a formal capsule here.

Now that I’ve had one for a while, here’s how I’ve broken down my list of must-haves:

  • 1 formal wedding guest dress (in dark/neutral colors)
  • 1 cocktail wedding guest dress (in fun colors)
  • 1 summer wedding guest dress (I tried to pick one that also goes to wedding/baby showers)
  • 1 going out look (mine is a black jumpsuit!)
  • 1 pair of neutral heels that are unstoppable
  • 1 neutral purse
  • 1 strapless bra that is also unstoppable

What’s new? Well, this capsule took me several years to build. The prospect was overwhelming at first because I wanted to only buy items I absolutely loved. My motto was “if it’s not a yes, it’s a no,” and if I hadn’t found the right dress yet, I opted to rent instead until I was ready. Renting was also enlightening, it has (and still does) help me discover new brands and figure out what I really want.

The tales of this capsule are fun because of how long it took to build: my formal dress and jumpsuit are from Norway, my cocktail dress is one I rented on rent the runway, loved, and then found for a deeep discount on Poshmark.

My summer dress was also found on rent the runway–bought from their sale section. It is, randomly, the best cut dress I’ve ever worn. Because picking fancy items can actually be kind of luck, and hit and miss.

What else do I suggest? Tailoring! If the items aren’t quite right there’s nothing effortless about it! I lengthened the pants on the jumpsuit and added a snap at the bust.

Don’t overlook the accessories, either! I have been wearing this block heel for years. I had a few more options and then I thought, heck, I don’t even want to wear the others. I similarly downsized almost every purse in this picture to a simple gold purse. In fact, I now have reversed my outfit planning: every dress I rent or pick out has to match my shoes and purse combo, not the other way around. And I’ve been surprisingly freed up by the choice!

Last thing: this strapless bra, which I added last year (not affiliated with this brand but if you’re in the market for one you can get $20 off here!). It comes with the highest endorsement I can give a strapless bra, which is that it doesn’t entirely ruin my vibe all day. It’s still a bra. It’s still strapless. It does its job though.

It took a few years, but I can now approach almost every event without a single second of “what will I wear to this thing?!”

Also shout out to Trevor for his guest appearances throughout this blog post 🙂 Do you have any strategies for shopping for formal events?

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6 thoughts on “My fancy clothes capsule, revisited”

  1. This is great, and you look fantastic! There was a period of time where I wore the same $40 orange sheath dress from banana republic to about 6 weddings, including my brother’s. It was the right cut and coloring for what my skin and hair look like in the summertime (my hair goes blonde!) Since then, I’ve added a navy silk DVF dress that I bought at a consignment shop. In the summer it goes with a wicker bag (from and antique shop) or a green velvet clutch in the fall. H&M does a “light shaping” brief that smoothes things but isn’t quite spanx level constricting, so that’s my go to. I do still struggle with formal wear in the winter. We are near NYC so in addition to cold and snow and ice, there’s always a bit of walking to consider, as well as how it fits under a coat. I’m not a fan of my dress sticking out from my coat.

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    1. Yessss! I feel like I should have spelled this out more in the post but I definitely pick fancy dresses that are super flattering colors on me, because those colors are brighter they sometimes don’t make my everyday closet because they’re a statement. But in a dress? I am all about it! Cold weather sounds tough–I have seen some great images of slim and shiny knee high boots making a comeback that would help with layering but I have also never figured out the coat situation!

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  2. This is amazing, and very inspiring. I find event dressing super hard, but I love the idea of a capsule for this type of stuff. It makes so much sense. Also, RIP Caroline’s blog, I miss it! It was one of my OG favorites. Good to know about the third love strapless bra, I’ve given up finding a good one at this point.

    PS – That teal dress looks dynamite on you!!

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  3. I love this! I had *most* of these options figured out until Covid-19 10 pounds :/ Some things still make the cut but not sure I’ll ever fit into the cocktail dress I had. I absolutely love the teal dress you’re wearing – assume it’s not available but what is the brand? Cut looks very chic.

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