A capsule wardrobe seems like a new-ish phenomenon, but it actually stems from the 1970s. It was coined by Susie Faux, who, according to Wikipedia, thought that “a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces. This idea was popularised by American designer Donna Karan, who, in 1985, released an influential capsule collection of seven interchangeable work-wear pieces.”
This holds true today. A number of bloggers and lifestyle websites over the years have put together guides on how to create a capsule wardrobe and how to maximize the items you have, and in my aspiring minimalism, I have finally decided to try the practice for myself.
Why I chose to try a Capsule Wardrobe
I chose to try working with a capsule wardrobe for a few reasons:
- Getting back to basics: In the aforementioned aspiring minimalism, I wanted to get back to the basics. Keeping up with trends and fast fashion can put a strain not just on your wallet, but also your mental health if it is not something that is incredibly important to you. So, I’ve decided to pare back and keep only a few pieces that I love.
- Mindful of what I spend my money on in my wardrobe: This speaks to the financial part of it. I want to have more power over my spending decisions, as right now I feel a little off the rails. I want to spend my money wisely in terms of wardrobe pieces simply because I want to have things that are going to last.
- Aspiring minimalism: Again, aspiring might be the key word here, but I am interested and invested in having less and maximizing the uses I can get out of things I bring into my home. Consumerism can be dangerous, especially if you don’t trust yourself (and there are days where I don’t).
- Being excited about my closet: this really should say it all, but I am one of those people who reach for the same 5 things because they are what I feel good in. Why should I have 18 other things in my closet if I feel good and love those 5?
Speaking as someone who is a serial list-maker, this was the most exciting part for me. What did I have in my wardrobe that would serve as my core? How did I want my style to represent me? What did I actually like and feel good in? These were all floating through my head as I made my capsule wardrobe list. I knew that I had to take the current weather into account as well as the seasons I was planning for. It’s still summer-ish. (As of this writing, the forecast says rain, 80-ish degrees, and humidity. Ah, seasons.) While this capsule wardrobe starts out as a “fall/winter” wardrobe, I still needed to plan for the transition.
How many items should I include? This can vary according to your lifestyle and needs. I chose to aim for 30 items, which would include the following categories: Tops, Bottoms, Dresses, Shoes, and Other/Free-for-all. I would NOT include Tees, Jackets/Outerwear, Accessories, Pajamas/Loungewear, Activewear, or Undergarments. My goal was to dial back and fall back in love with the clothes I wear on a daily basis.
Next came the purge. I did this over the Labor Day weekend and it ended up being a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I used to hate going through my closet as a kid, but it’s a ton of fun as an adult. (This may be a sign of getting old, guys. Send help.) It’s so liberating! Go through the entire closet and pull out everything. Put it on your bed in piles. My piles ended up being: Keep for Capsule, Keep for Storage (to be reassessed in Spring), Donate, Sell, and Recycle/Trash.
I found out, in doing this, that I have far more “activewear”, “pajamas/loungewear”, and “tees” than I realized. (New challenge in spring may be to dial those back. How many do I actually need?) But I am pleased with my results. I ended up with still under 40 items, but because of the transition planning/trips coming up that I knew I would want specific items for I ended up with more than the planned 30. For my first capsule wardrobe/minimalist wardrobe, I think that’s not bad.
As part of my planning, I knew there were going to be things that I did not own that I would want to buy. There are 6 items that I wish to purchase. I planned for them in my initial assessment, but I am going to circle back and review as part of my budget. For me, those are a black turtleneck, a sweater dress, ankle boots (in black and tan), a black “leather” skirt, and a red dress. These are a combination of trendy items and staples that I have had my eye on for a while but haven’t pulled the trigger on in favor of finding the right time/best value. (Leather is optional, but given that it is an item I will likely wear over and over, I am willing to spend a little more for the value of it.) That being said, I am going to try to buy secondhand where I can (ThredUp is a favorite of mine) and sustainable where I cannot. Wish me luck!
What I hope to gain from this “Capsule Wardrobe Experiment”
At the end of the day, there are some things to be gained from doing something like this other than more closet space and extra hangers. (So many hangers.) I want to keep track of my thoughts over the next few months and see if anything shifts. I would like to gain more overall discipline in my spending habits. Am I buying trendy items because I think they will actually work for my lifestyle, or because they look good on the bloggers I love? I also want to gain more of a mindful approach to my closet and style, finding my personal style and what makes me happy.
My next purge? Probably my office. I have so many notebooks and writing supplies, old electronics, and just miscellaneous items, and as part of my zero-waste challenge, I intend to recycle as much as I can.
Have you tried implementing a capsule wardrobe? Did it work for you? If you have minimalist aspirations like me, let me know! Let’s (struggle) journey together.
Alternatively, if you’re a practicing minimalist, tell me your secrets! And share this with a friend. Xoxo