I have been obsessed with the idea of minimalism for years now. There are so many ways to simplify our lives: getting rid of access stuff to reduce clutter, minimizing our wardrobe to decrease decision fatigue, downsizing to decrease money concerns, and saying no more often to simplify our schedules. All of these things support us in living a healthy, happy, and balanced life, which is what I'm all about!
I have tossed and donated hundreds and hundreds of items from our home over the years (and I always feel I could be doing more). And while I have done some major wardrobe edits, I have not embraced the capsule wardrobe movement, even though I think about it every season. This year I'm changing that!
What Is A Capsule Wardrobe?
Some people define a capsule wardrobe as the basic/classic pieces you build your wardrobe around. The definition I prefer to use is "a small collection of clothes that can be put together in different ways and includes everything you would normally need to wear". To me, a capsule wardrobe isn't a subset of the clothes you wear, it IS the clothes you wear.
If you are brand new to the concept of a capsule wardrobe, I recommend visiting Courtney Carver's website https://bemorewithless.com/. Back in 2010, Courtney created for herself a minimalist fashion challenge she named Project 333. She did this to simplify her life, decrease decision fatigue, remove excess, and therefore, reduce stress. Reading her blog way back then was my first introduction to the concept of a capsule wardrobe.
The concept is simple. Build a seasonal wardrobe out of clothes you already own (buying new only if absolutely necessary). This wardrobe will contain only 33 items and will last for 3 months (1 season). The rest of your clothes get packed away and won't be revisited until you edit your capsule for the next season.
Courtney's 33 items included work clothes, casual clothes, accessories, and outerwear (including shoes). It does not include pajamas or workout clothes. That seems a bit extreme to me, although she was able to do it while still working in an office. Nobody even noticed that she was dressing with less. Courtney has been doing this for years now; and on her podcast, I recently heard her mention that her current capsule is less than 33 items. If you want to learn more, she wrote an excellent book called, Project 333 - The Minimalist Fashion Challenge That Proves Less Really Is So Much More. Even if you also agree 33 is a little too limiting, this book is a great source of inspiration and provides lots of direction on how to do it.
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What I Love About the Capsule Wardrobes Concept
Did you know that the average person wears 20% of their clothes 80% of the time?
I am the type of person that will often wear the clothes I like the least, saving the clothes I love for some special, never-occurring day in the future. Because, if I wear my favorite jeans today, then when something comes up in 2 days, the jeans will be dirty and I won't be able to wear them. Therefore, I rarely wear them. In itself, this is an annoying practice. But the important thing to note is that this means the 20% I'm wearing all the time are NOT my favorite 20%!!!! That is so wrong.
However, when we create a capsule wardrobe, we pick out our favorite clothes and pack away the rest. So by doing this I will be forced to wear the clothes I love and feel good in. That is really all the reason I need.
I said I have been obsessed with this idea for years. Every season I check out Pinterest to see what people are including in their capsule wardrobes. It's not just me, capsule wardrobes are a thing, look for yourself.
I haven't created my own capsule before because I somehow feel like it might be wasteful to not pull out all my clothes appropriate for a season and try to wear them at least once. And what if I chose wrong and don't include something I really want later? Well, both of these excuses seem silly. Just because I own and pull it out for the season, doesn't mean I will actually wear it. I definitely have sweaters I pull out in the Fall and repack in the Spring without ever putting them on my body. But they are in good shape and I spent money on them, so I keep them, year after year. And, if I decide I want that black cardigan I packed away...umm, I know where the boxes are. I can go get it.
This year, I am going to be a snowbird for one month. When I come back, it will be Spring (I hope). Therefore, this seems like an opportune time to play with the idea of a capsule wardrobe as I think about what I need to pack to dress comfortably for 1 month. My plan is to create a full wardrobe for Spring/Summer and I will pack a subset of it for my one-month trip.
Think about your lifestyle. Don't fill your wardrobe with fancy office clothes if you spend most of your days at home (and vice-versa). If you need professional work clothes, maybe dress down just a little in the office and dress up just a little bit at home so that you can overlap items. (Courtney made this work with her 33 items)
Pick your favorite neutral tone and begin building your capsule around that. You want to be sure you have lots of options to mix and match and that is easiest if you have several items in neutral tones you love.
You can have color in a capsule wardrobe - just be sure that every item you choose pairs with a couple of other items. Being able to mix and match is key.
Pick a few of your favorite items and then be sure to choose items that pair with them.
Think of the weather extremes. You don't need your favorite wool sweater in summer, but you still probably need a cardigan or light jacket for cooler days and evenings.
Remember nobody pays that much attention to what you wear. Do you think your colleague will notice if you wear the same black dress pants 2-3 times a week? They won't.
You can always do laundry. (This relieves my worry that my favorite jeans will be dirty when I really need them). Most clothes don't need to be washed after every wear anyway.
It's not irreversible. I am not donating or tossing all my clothes (although I may get rid of some as I go through my wardrobe and find items that don't really fit or just need to be let go). It's just an experiment. See how it feels and allow that to determine what you do next season.
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What Ended up in my Spring/Summer Capsule Wardrobe?
In the end, I chose 40 items, plus shoes. Looking at the clothes, it actually feels like it might be more than I need, but I'm not sure what I would cut out. There are a couple of tanks that are probably nearing the end of their lives, so I may end up tossing them after a couple of wears...and once summer hits, I can probably ditch one of the extra layers and long sleeve shirts (assuming we have a nice summer). Therefore, the capsule may naturally lose a couple of items as we get further into the season.
This is what makes up my 40 items (45 if I include shoes):
4 Jeans (denim slim, white slim, denim straight leg, black straight leg)
3 Capris (denim, navy, army green)
4 Shorts (2 denim, white with light stripes, blue/white Bermuda)
9 Tanks/Sleeveless (green, gray, black, navy stripe, burgundy, salmon, light salmon stripe, black, burgundy)
3 Graphic Tees
5 Dressier Tees (navy, navy floral, burgundy, navy print, black)
6 Long Sleeves (black polka dot, white polka dot, blue plaid, black white stripe, black graphic sheer, dark chambray button up)
5 Layers (beige cardigan, black cardigan, beige blazer, denim jacket, navy/white boho)
1 casual summer dress
5 pairs Shoes (black sketchers, black sandals, neutral sandals, black flats, grey flip-flops)
Things I'm Not Counting
Yoga/Exercise Clothes (Yoga pants, shirts, shorts, Ts, sneakers)
Swimsuit/Accessories (one piece, bikini, wrap, cover-up)
Hiking Clothes (wicking pants/shirts/hiking shoes)
Accessories (light scarves, jewelry, sunglasses)
The Added Benefit
My wardrobe is already pretty small. However, while going through my clothes to create the capsule wardrobe, I found many items that don't fit well or that I just don't like. I bagged them up and will be dropping them off at my local donation center this week!
Pin It For Later
Don't have time to think about this right now? Pin it for later and create a capsule wardrobe next season!