Stylist Sarah Ramsay Shares How To Create Capsule Wardrobe

by | Jan 2024

Sarah Ramsay

Sarah Ramsay. Photos: Christina Knoche

Mahtomedi local shares tips for creating a closet you love.

What is the key to building a closet filled with items you actually wear? The answer could be as simple as prioritizing a capsule wardrobe.

Mahtomedi resident Sarah Ramsay spent years as a women’s clothing stylist, working private trunk shows and helping clients craft a capsule wardrobe one-on-one. That is, until she realized a need for such services in menswear.

While many companies offer custom styling services to women, Ramsay feels that men deserve the same opportunity to work with a stylist and fill their closet intentionally. “A lot of guys don’t know what to wear or how to coordinate an outfit that isn’t a suit,” Ramsay says.

In 2009, Ramsay began working with J.Hilburn—a nationwide custom clothing brand—eventually launching her own by-appointment J.Hilburn showroom in the Getty Cowork Building last January.

Ramsay says the downtown White Bear Lake showroom has been a “game changer” after 15 years of styling—for herself and her clients. “It’s a small space where both of us can focus and make a difference in their closet and wardrobe,” she says.

Capsule Collection

Creating a Capsule

A capsule wardrobe is a small collection of curated, interchangeable items meant to maximize wearability. This capsule could be made up of 10 items or 30; it could be collected all at once or over time. A capsule wardrobe is composed of essential, timeless items—and, while the term was coined in the 1970s, this method has never been more relevant as buyers prioritize sustainability with high-quality items.

Ramsay prioritizes this approach with each of her clients, looking to build on a simple formula that promises 18 unique outfit options.

  • Two top layers (jackets, vests, hoodies and sweaters)
  • Three base layers (shirts, polos and Henleys)
  • Three bottoms (jeans, five-pocket pants and shorts)

“You don’t just go in somewhere and buy five shirts,” Ramsay says. “If you buy five shirts, then you’re just creating five different outfits. If you buy one top layer, two base layers and two bottom layers, that’s still five pieces, but you just gave yourself [many] different outfit options.”

At the showroom, Ramsay takes precise measurements, and clients can try on samples and select their fabric, thread color and buttons before purchasing a made-to-order item. “It’s maximizing—how do you take the same amount of money and the same amount of pieces and buy smarter?” Ramsay says. “… A lot of people look at price-per-item before looking at price-per-wear.”

A typical J.Hilburn button-down dress shirt starts at $148, casual bottoms at $168 and a custom four-way stretch suit starts below $700. The initial investment may be steeper than purchasing clothing from another retailer, but Ramsay says her clients discover the benefits of buying fewer, high-quality items. “Our return rate and remake rate is less than 1 percent,” she says.

By shopping with a mind for coordination, comfort and fit, men can feel empowered in selecting their daily outfit without decision fatigue. As the seasons go by, Ramsay’s hope is that clients continue to come back and slowly develop a capsule wardrobe that lasts through the years—adding to their ideal closet with a mind for what they already have.

“Life is filled with people [who] help you. It could be the guy that mows your lawn, your babysitter. You have people in your life that are on your team,” Ramsay says. “I’m just a person on their team there to make their life easier.”

J.Hilburn Showroom
2150 Third St. #8, White Bear Lake; 651.216.6798
by appointment only


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