August 3, 2020

How To Create A Capsule Wardrobe With Maria Berry-Swann

How to strategically organize your closet and build a capsule wardrobe so you always know what to wear. 

I am very excited to welcome Maria Berry-Swann to the podcast today. 

We are talking about how to strategically organize our closet and how to build a capsule wardrobe.  This episode goes together with last weeks episode, #26 called Too many clothes and nothing to wear, I shared with you my tips on how to declutter your closet and how to make sure it doesn't get cluttered again. 

One of the tips was to create a capsule wardrobe, and that's what Maria and I are talking about today, as she is the expert. 

What you'll discover in this episode: 

  • Why your style and what you need to put on should not be one of the big decisions in your day.
  • How some people create a capsule wardrobe without knowing it
  • What happens when we buy pieces that are over our budget

If you find value in this conversation with Maria please share the episode with your family and friends because if you find value in it, they will too.

Sharing is caring ❤️

Reading instead of Listening (click to open the Transcript)

Conny Graf 0:06
Welcome Maria I'm so excited to have you on my show. How are you today.

Maria Berry-Swann 0:13
Thank you. I'm good

Conny Graf 0:15
good good good So tell me a little bit about you and you help people with style and with their closets. So tell me a little bit about it.

Maria Berry-Swann 0:27
Yes. So, my name is Maria Swann, and I'm the owner of Dabarcouture I'm a style coach and capsule wardrobe expert. So what I do is I really trying to help busy women maintain their style every day of the week.

I was starting off as a personal stylist and a wardrobe stylist and I realized it was a quick fix, and women don't need quick fixes, they need something that they can maintain to live to look good and feel confident, every day. So that is what I do.

Conny Graf 0:54
That sounds so awesome, and you know like I really admired that's how I found you, I really admire your style and how you're so nicely put together because I'm more like, I wouldn't say I don't know how to dress, but I really don't want to think too much about it so I just kind of want to grab something out of the closet and it fits and it works and it looks good. And that's kind of. That's my style so I'm not a woman who stands in front of her closet for 10 minutes thinking so...

Maria Berry-Swann 1:27
A lot of women are like that. They don't want to think about what they need to put out, but it makes sense if you've had a long day, or if you're busy, you don't want it that's the last thing you need to sit and think about, you need to think about all the other decisions that you make your style and what you need to put on and should not be one of the big decisions in your day. And that's what capsule wardrobes for

Conny Graf 1:47
exactly so explain a little bit for the listeners who have no idea what a capsule wardrobe is, what does it really mean to have a capsule wardrobe.

Maria Berry-Swann 2:00
Of course. So, basically, it's pieces, from 17 to 25 pieces, and it can go larger depending on you know how many more outfits or how many more months you need your capsule wardrobe for, but they all kind of mix and match. So what you do is you put these pieces together, including your accessories and your shoes. And that will be a group of clothes that you wear for here to however long you need to make with those clothes.

Conny Graf 2:32
So does that mean I'm always wearing the same thing over and over is that like I heard people are wearing like everyday the same outfit is that basically the goal, are you.

Maria Berry-Swann 2:45
I think that the minimalist capsule wardrobe, or the original capsule wardrobe that they came up with it was for those who want to wear pretty much the same thing the same colors the same thing fabric. But I believe in stylish capsule wardrobes because I believe in color. So in colors and prints. That way when you add the colors and prints, it doesn't get boring. And you can still have, you know, a lot of style when you have a capsule wardrobe. I think it's upgrade.

Conny Graf 3:10
Yeah, and I think color is awesome so when I was younger I would basically only wear black and white. Don't ask me why I don't remember why I just felt like color is not for me. And the older I get the more color I'm actually wearing like today I'm wearing dark blue which is more like a safe color but I do have orange and red and green and so I'm all all for color too because, like our life is sometimes gray and I need to do brighten it up so I really love to hear that you say yeah we want to have color and we don't want to just wear black or gray every day. Yes. Yeah.

So, so you said and that sounds scary even for me so I don't have a lot of clothes but you said 15 to 17. That doesn't sound like a lot, so you really only have 17 items in your closet

Maria Berry-Swann 4:03
For me, because I know how to pick out my clothes, like, I don't think about what I'm wearing my clothes I just, I like styles so much and clothes so much and I know what looks good on me. I can really go in and say I'm going to wear this shirt with these pants, these accessories these shoes and I'm out of the door. But for women who, like you said, do not want to think about what they're going to put on, the less clothes that you have with the more style pieces you know pieces that you have to love, it'll be easier for you to put on clothes in the morning. Because one you have clothes in there that you love, two you have clothes in there that fit and three you have less items to choose from, when you're getting dressed in the morning.

Conny Graf 4:41
Yeah, makes total, total sense so and i know i know so when I helped my clients declutter, and I did some research to. I know most people only wear 20% of their closet anyways and 80% just sit somewhere on the shelf or is hanging there. And I do notice that too and I go and help my clients declutter their closet. It's like most of the stuff they're never even wearing So, or they have a closet full of clothes that they're not wearing and the stuff that they're wearing is actually outside of the closet because it has no room in it.

Maria Berry-Swann 5:16
So basically, they created themselves a capsule wardrobe outside of the closet ...

Conny Graf 5:24
good point, good point they have a capsule wardrobe

Yeah, so when you help your clients, how do you start so do they have to throw everything out and start from scratch, or do you start with what they have, or how does it work.

Maria Berry-Swann 5:39
It depends, so I'm one of my packages I have is for someone who wants to develop a new capsule wardrobe, meaning that they don't really like what they have in their closet. So what I would do is I would create them a style portal I use something that helps me create a portal for my clients. So out the pieces in there that they need. I have a closet essential checklist of pieces that I feel that every woman should have. So, the blazer. The black heels, the pointy toe flats, you know, things like that. What kind of accessories you need, you know, and if you don't have them, I put them in your portal, based on whatever your budget is, and you can go in, you can purchase it and put it in your closet. So, that is how I create the wardrobe for those who don't have it.

For those who have a whole bunch of clothes with tags on them and they have nothing to wear, because I have those. And I say okay let's do a video call. Let's see what you have and let's pull from that. And we create a capsule wardrobe based on what they already have in their closet. And it goes really well. I'm really surprised how easy it is for me to create that but it's really good when you have clothes in your closet you say I don't have anything where I'm like, Girl let's pull from that.

Conny Graf 6:58
Yeah, I just this morning had somebody on our on the zoom call who said oh I have nothing to wear and I said well show me your closet and I mean she literally had the whole closet full of clothes and I said, Well, you do have stuff to wear actually read an interesting statistic back in the 1930s a woman only had 36 items in her closet back in 1930 about like it's an average, and today they say you have 120, but when I'm looking at my clients I'm thinking it's more than 100 and

Maria Berry-Swann 7:30
I believe it's more than that because I have 60 pair of shoes so I know

Conny Graf 7:37
that sounds really interesting so you're selling capsule wardrobes and you're having 60 pair of shoes, that's, yeah.

Maria Berry-Swann 7:45
You know I do that because a lot of women, I think they think that I have a limited amount of clothing because because of how quickly I could dress or how quickly I style myself. But I'm like, I don't think my closet will work for you, my closet is very, very organized, but it's a lot of things in there you know I'm saying,

Conny Graf 8:05
Yeah, yeah.

Yeah, well it's similar like me so everybody always says, Oh, I'm very embarrassed that can let you in my house because your house is probably minimalistic and I'm always like, No, I'm not like I help you declutter to the things, so that your home becomes your sanctuary and you're surround yourself with what you love and that's kind of what I hear from you too is like you want to have the things that you love wearing and you want to have the colors that you love, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to go only with 15, if you can manage it, you can go with more and your preferred way of 60 pair of shoes I don't think of 16.

Maria Berry-Swann 8:45
Yes, it's so true, it depends on how creative you want to be. Honestly, it depends on how creative you want to be with your wardrobe depends on how many pieces to put in there.

Conny Graf 8:56
Yeah. And so you did say that that works for every budget no because he just said like depending on what their budget is they can go and buy something so because I wanted to just I was just thinking before we hopped on this call I was thinking like well if somebody has a tight budget, how do they do this. Can you start with a capsule wardrobe and then build it up over time or do you need to have it right off the bat, like election is an issue.

Maria Berry-Swann 9:23
Yes, um, you can definitely build it up over time of my suggestion is. I am really big when buying quality pieces because quality pieces last a long time, but I'm also big on getting them wherever you need to get them. I'm a big consignment shopper. Right. So if you tell me, you know, I need help with my capsule wardrobe I need you to assess my closet blah blah blah. You'll pay me for that, and then I'll say,

Okay, these are the items that you're going to need, and I'll send you a message, let's say you don't have a budget to buy the $60 blazer right and you're like, I'm just not gonna do that right now, I have other things going on. I say, Okay, I'm going to send you those pieces that you need and you need to go to the consignment shop or you need to go to your, your boutique somewhere in your area, and find something that is very similar to this. And because you're not at the boutiques and, you know, goodwill Salvation Army I don't know you know what all of the you know the consignment shops are called, but they're not going to be $60, they're going to be 15, and they're going to be 20. 

So, when I say you know you need a pair of really good, black slacks. You don't need to go spend the money on the you know the $70 black slacks, you can go to wherever your local goes, where you can get the discount whatever store that is, and go purchase it there. You see I'm saying so I'm really big on standard budget I am not that personal shopper wardrobe stylist like just go pay it go by I'm not like that. You need to have a budget you need to stick your budget because a lot of times when we buy pieces, and they are over our budget. It doesn't matter how much we love it, we regret that purchase. I don't want people to regret their purchases.

Conny Graf 11:09
Well, maybe not just regret it but then we're probably reluctant to wear it too because we always think like oh my god I paid so much money for it I can't wear it. I have to save it for the good day, then you're not wearing it and then it's out of style or it doesn't fit you anymore and then you never wore it and paid that much money. And then you can get rid of it I like that's what I all come across when I help people declutter like they have it oh I have it in a closet for five years and I have never had it on because it was so expensive so I didn't feel like I could wear it, but now it's out of style so now yeah so. Exactly.

And I also think for an environmental perspective it's so much better if you buy something that is quality because then you last you longer, or if you buy something in a consignment store or in a, in a thrift store because it was pre love, I always call it pre love, you know, and then and then you have it, you save money and you you take care of the environment it's like instead of going and just buying something cheaply made. Yeah, it makes so much more sense yeah so I love that you say that. Yes. Yeah, yeah. So, and, like, I kind of know already the answer to that but that would basically mean that you don't get rid of all the items in your closet so you're, you're, you're starting, usually with what the people have, because most of us have clothes. Yes. Yeah, so now a different question I have is, so what about if some if you suggest certain things and somebody says oh I don't like that or I don't love that or that's not what I would wear so you you probably are able to look at their style a little bit and and suggest. Accordingly, or how, or is there certain items that every woman has to have period, like,

Maria Berry-Swann 13:06
oh no I'm actually do a style questionnaire before I talk to anybody. I also have them send me a picture of themselves and send me a picture of them in one of their best outfits, or the outfit that makes you feel really good, you know, because nine times out of 10, that is an outfit that they really were feeling themselves in, and I go around that. So the questionnaire has questions like, you know, what are the some of the celebrities, or reality stars that you like to dress from, you know, who styled you. What do you, how do you want people to perceive you when you walk out of the door. You know those are questions that I know.

Oh, okay. She wants to dress like this, I need to shop here. You know I'm saying so because I now can compartmentalize you a little bit, I can say okay I can put her on this because. So, a woman who wears a leather jacket. A lot of times, she's not going to wear a straight line blazer she's just not going to do it. The question that helps me to tell me which which woman, that is, and if she's if I pick something out for her and she says you know what that's not me I say okay let's go back to the drawing board and let's get you something similar to it, you know, it's no problem to do that. I want them to love the pieces that they have. Ultimately, you know.

Conny Graf 14:18
Yeah, so do you then suggest that the only should have items in our closet that we absolutely love and that we absolutely, absolutely love wearing.

Maria Berry-Swann 14:30
Yes. Let me tell you how I shop. When I go to the store and I have some things in my hand. If, by the time I get to the cash register. I'm like, Oh my gosh, I want to wear this, and I want to look so freakin amazing if I don't feel like that, it goes back period like it's no question about it like, I'm not gonna say, Oh, I might be able to wear it with that, or I might be able to do this. No, it's I don't look at it and say, I'm going to look freakin amazing in this outfit. I'm not gonna buy. Why will we buy clothes that we don't think we're going to look amazing in. Right?

Conny Graf 15:09
Yeah, but so many people do. And especially when they're on the retail therapy like if they're not feeling good and they were thinking like, Oh, I need to do myself something good and then they go and buy some item, possibly a top or, or something, or shoes. And then they're never wearing them because when they bought it they were not in a good mood or they just bought it to buy something and then, and then it's just sits there.

Maria Berry-Swann 15:34
Yes, and it's so true and that's why I don't encourage retail shopping, because a lot of times you're gonna look back and be like, gosh why did I buy that. And a lot of times you don't want to take it back, you don't want to go through the hassle of taking it back.

Conny Graf 15:49
Yeah, and then you wasted money, and you're not getting rid of it either because it sits there because you think oh my god I spent money on it.

Maria Berry-Swann 15:58

Conny Graf 16:00
It's so funny how the human brain works isn't it. So one thing that I come a lot across when I help people declutter their closet is all kinds of clothes that they technically would love, but doesn't fit them anymore. Did you come across that too?

Maria Berry-Swann 16:18
Let me tell you what I tell these women that have clothes in the closet that they love and just not fit. I say, the first question is, how long have they been been sitting in there. A lot of them say, Oh no, a year..... Those are my jeans I wore as a size, whatever right okay that's number one. Number two is are you working on a weight loss or weight gain plan. Well I'm working on... blablabla. Okay okay number three is you have to dress for now, like you have to look good now. You cannot wait until you're that size, whatever, to look good. So number one is to make you feel better about yourself.

You can give to somebody that you know you who's gonna wear it, and take care of it right. Or you can sell it on poshmark or something like that get some money for it if it's a luxury item. Or you can go ahead and give it to the thrift store. It's nowhere. It's no way that you should have clothes in your closet that are just sitting there because you feel like you're going to get back into them, you know that does it makes you feel bad, like think about the time where you had a pair of jeans, sitting in your closet and you were like, I'm gonna be down to that size, right, it did not come with a positive feeling like you didn't feel good when you said that. Yeah, get rid of it!

Conny Graf 17:35
Yeah, I totally agree. And the other thing is too is like if it sits in there, and you may forget that they don't fit and you're trying to put them on in the morning, your whole day could be going south, because you're standing there noticing that you don't fit into your favorite cheese or into this pair of jeans. So, that's also a thing that I always say like, because I'm all about making life easier for us. I will often say decluttering is self love because we're actually taking care of us and making life easier for us. So, if you exactly know that everything in this closet fits me. There is no question then it's just the question okay how, what do I want to wear today it's not, does this fit, or there is no iffy about it.

Maria Berry-Swann 18:23
Exactly. Yes. And I feel like why would you want to ruin your morning with clothes, like there's so many things that can go wrong in the morning. Why would we ruin our morning with what we're going to wear like, you know, and to avoid all that you get rid of stuff that you don't love you only have pieces in your closet that you like to wear.

Conny Graf 21:18
So, I have a different question so when I was younger, it was really in to go to some expert and get a color assessment to know what colors suit you, are you doing stuff like that too or what is your thoughts on that.

Maria Berry-Swann 21:33
Okay, it's called a color analysis, and a lot of people ask me about that. Let me tell you how I feel about color analysis. I think I'm a rebel, in a sense, because...

Conny Graf 21:44
I love rebels

Maria Berry-Swann 21:44
... and a lot of people in my industry swear by it. But I tell them, I am not going to tell my clients, what colors, not to wear. I'm just not going to do it because if, if I give a client, a color analysis right, it says that, you know, orange doesn't look good on her or this this emerald green doesn't look good on her. But when she wears it she says she feels amazing, right. I'm not gonna put her in that box. I'm gonna tell her, you need to wear what ever makes you feel amazing. Like, that's just how I feel when it comes to color. Pants vision which rounds you out that's what I tell my clients pants into a drowned you out. So if you're wearing colors you can like I don't really like, Look, I don't like how I feel. In this color in this black or this green don't wear those colors.

But even if you feel good in the hot pink shirt, get the hot pink shirt with a hot pink shirt where you need to wear it. And, you know, feel confident and feel good in what you have on, I really believe that color analysis. Um, it kind of takes away from some of the freedom that a lot of these women have, they're already telling us what to wear for our bodies right they're already telling us like come on guys this is already telling us what colors we need to wear or not wear, you know, I tell you wear what feels good and we'll help you go to your next level in life. That's just how I feel like if this color. And this fabric makes you feel good. And you know, when you wear this when you go to your next meeting. You know to sign a contract or whatever youlook like a boss wearing it, I don't care if it's red, I don't care, like I said it's lime green. Put it on where it's appropriate, and go kill them. That's how I think about it.

Conny Graf 23:27
Hallelujah! I'm all about being a rebel it's the same like here with decluttering I don't have rules, how many items you can have I don't have rules what items you can have. You have to do you you know so I really love this answer. And I remember I was doing that cover analyze and I can't even say the word whatever. And she told me that I was this summer and I should only wear cold colors but actually I like wearing warm colors too And so yeah, so I never really listened, like I forgot. I don't even have that swap thing anymore with all the colors that I'm supposed to wear. Just because I'm a rebel I just do whatever I want, like to wear being put into other boxes we're already in so many boxes like we're already a woman and a woman is supposed to look like this and then we're having another box and another box on another box I don't like boxes

Maria Berry-Swann 24:25
... and I don't want my clients to live with them. And like you said we have a lot of other things to deal with when it comes down to being a woman and you know the bodies that we have and the confidence struggles and self image. I'm on doing that, whatever makes you feel good and whatever is appropriate. I'm not saying go outside and locally lush dress. And you know, super tight into these corporate meetings, I'm not saying that you know I don't want to get fired. But what I'm saying is you need to wear what you need to wear to talk about. But that's just it.

Conny Graf 24:54
Exactly, exactly.

Yeah, so that's pulled out of the way. Wonderful. So, is there anything that I didn't ask you because like I can I help my clients a lot decluttering their closet and it's all about, like we said feelings from the past and everything. But I sometimes struggle a little bit is how they can start finding more the colors like some know what colors they love, but maybe sometimes colors would look good at them, or on them, but they because they're not used to it, they're not wearing it or style that would look good on them.

They're not wearing it because they don't see themselves as sexy or as as that kind of person. So how would you help them get over that hump so after they decluttered their closet, to find their style. Even if the style in the beginning looks a little bit like oh no that's not me but it's just because they don't, they haven't worn it in like before so they may not see that this is actually really awesome on them.

Maria Berry-Swann 26:04
I just had a client like that, it she's actually my last client, and she wanted to do more prints, and she wanted to do my colors but she was really like, I don't know what's in, what's you know, trendy or whatever and so I picked out some colors that she, she would never have worn and she was very apprehensive. When I first started picking them out and she's like, I've never worn it before I'm like well let's order it, send it to your house, and then when they get there we'll have a video call so you can do a try on with me, you know, so she put them on when she put them on she absolutely loved the colors and things that you know like I said she wouldn't have picked my thing is when it comes down to is really stepping outside the box.

When it comes out, down to step outside the box, those things are confidence and self image, things that they need to deal with right. Why do I feel like I don't feel good in this red top like that like, Why do I feel like I can't wear these shoes and feel sexy, though the thing that you really have to sit with yourself and talk to yourself about. you understand what I'm saying. So those are the questions that I have to ask them my girl Why don't you think you look good in polka dots? and I remember one woman told me. Well I'm ...... is only good for me I'm like, Girl no that doesn't make sense it's probably how you wearing them. If your bigger parts are on the bottom that you probably want to wear your polka dots on the top and there were a solid color on the bottom. Oh, I didn't think about that.

So, you know, so those are things that I just kind of dissect with them because I'm a firm believer that you can style but if you don't have confidence, if it is nothing like it's nothing like you don't walk out the door with that energy, who wants to be around somebody with a nice outfit on with bad energy, not me. You know, so, um, confidence and self image is really what that is. And I just kind of ask them questions to see why their headspace is where it is and we just kind of work through it.

Conny Graf 27:57
And I love that because that's exactly what often happens to with. When I help people declutter, there's so many layers underneath that actually we have two very are not very dry yes gooey you know so yeah to figure out what exactly is the problem and it's not just often it's not just on the surface so yeah I love that that you ask questions that's. Yeah, and really find out because it's so sad when you see that some people think they can wear something just because of. Don't feel confident or they feel like it's for everybody else but not for them. And I think that's the underlying reasons that we need to uncover. Yeah,

Maria Berry-Swann 28:44
yeah, I totally agree.

Conny Graf 28:46
Yeah. So were you always interested in fashion and you just you just realized oh my god I'm good at this, or did you learn this somehow.

Maria Berry-Swann 28:57
No, I've always, always been interested in styling and fashion, I remember being younger and going like walking down the road to the store and my mom's like okay go to the store and I changed my clothes and my brother's like, why don't you dress up to go to the store, like it's literally down the road and I remember telling him like, I don't know I just know how I'd like to feel. I was young, I was in a young age, you know, and then I just got older, and then my style just kind of evolved.

And I like to feel good, and I'm not gonna set up with a lame outfit, not to feel good I'm just not gonna do it. If I'm having a bad day Honey, I'm gonna be cute. Okay, so every mirror in every window out pass. Oh, she's cute. You know, so I've always been into styling fashion, always.

Conny Graf 29:44
That's awesome. That's awesome. And I think, too what what we wear and ... helps us increase our self confidence, or if you have a bad day and you're wearing something like unflattering, then it the day becomes worse you know but if you wear something that you actually love seeing yourself and then maybe your mood, you can lift your own mood with the right closing too.

Maria Berry-Swann 30:10
I feel like a lot of us women, we missed out on a lot of opportunities because we don't feel good right so I always say you know we're in meetings or, you know, we're negotiating deals but what we're about. We're having on we're saying that shirts were like pants fit to this bra fit like we are, we are doing things that we, we can avoid, if we just take the time out for ourselves and get our wardrobe together, you know.

Conny Graf 30:36
Exactly. That's where it comes in, again, it's self love and like looking after ourselves to making sure we are feeling good so we can show up as our best. Yeah, totally. So did I miss a question Did you wanna did I not ask a certain question that you think is very important for my listeners to know.

Maria Berry-Swann 30:59
Well, you didn't miss out on any questions but I can say this when you do like the closet organizing and things like that like I never tell people to strip the closet down like you know like when it comes down to like your the new style or whatever you have to have clothes to wear. I tell them, get rid of everything you do not love. That is it like, if you can get as fast as you can get rid of those, the faster your start dressing how you like to dress and feeling how you like to feel. Yeah.

Conny Graf 31:33
Totally everything you don't love and everything that doesn't fit.

Maria Berry-Swann 31:37
Yes and that.... Just get rid of it.

Conny Graf 31:44
Exactly. If we could just get these people to do it.

Maria Berry-Swann 31:50
It's true. It's so true.

Conny Graf 31:54
Okay, so where can they find you like if somebody is now like oh my god I need Maria's help, where can they find you.

Maria Berry-Swann 32:01
Yes, they can find me on my website They can find me on Instagram @dabarcouture. I do a lot of content on my personal page which is @MariaBarrySwann, and they can always DM me asked me questions on Facebook or Instagram on on my website,

Conny Graf 32:23
awesome and I will put all these links in the show notes and you can just click on it, and I hope you get a lot of business out of this, because I yeah I just think it's really like, I think it's so important, especially the clothes I mean there's several layers we have our skin so we have to take care of our skin. The clothes are almost like the second layer. So, and then the house we're living in that I help, most people make a sanctuary that's the third layer. Before we go out into big wild world do.

Maria Berry-Swann 32:57
Yes. Yeah,

Conny Graf 32:59
yeah, yeah. Well it was awesome to have you on the show Maria, thank you so much and thanks for all the tips. And, yeah, and awesome to talk to you.

Maria Berry-Swann 33:13
Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Conny Graf 33:16
Well, me too I appreciate you took the time to come on. Thank you.

Maria Berry-Swann 33:20
Bye. Bye.

Maria Berry-Swann

is a mom & wife in a beautiful blended family. She is a Style Coach & Capsule Wardrobe Expert. Her mission is to help women develop and maintain a wardrobe that helps them get dressed with lesser stress and MORE style everyday of the week! 


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