It seems like every blogger and her sister had a capsule wardrobe last year. And with good reason. It’s rewarding, it’s challenging and it has a super nifty, official-sounding name…capsule wardrobe.
But how does it work? And is it even worth it? And what in the heck is a capsule anyway? Ah, don’t fret my pet. Let me break it down for you, from the highs to the epic failures.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
Although the term was coined by a boutique owner in the ’70s, capsule wardrobes have seen a resurgence, along with some additional rules, in the past couple years.
A capsule wardrobe is essentially a versatile (read: mix-and-matchable) mini-wardrobe that rotates every three months. You plan and shop for that season’s capsule a few weeks beforehand, but once your designated “season” starts, there is no more shopping. Like, at all. Zero shopping.
Each season you start over again with some of the clothes you have stored away (only your current mini-wardrobe has any business in your closet), and you get to go shopping to fill in any gaps. It takes planning, perseverance and patience.
Lots of patience.
Should you try a capsule wardrobe?
Without a doubt: YES. (Even though I quit mine. We’ll get to that bit later.)
I first discovered the capsule wardrobe on Caroline Rector’s blog, unfancy. This cutie pie picks 37 pieces (tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear and shoes) to mix and match for one three-month season. If you want to try for yourself, you can find Caroline’s how-to right here.
This quote from unfancy pretty much sums up why every woman should learn how to make a capsule wardrobe: “To me, a capsule wardrobe represents more time and energy for what really matters (less time spent deciding what to wear/less time spent shopping/less time doing laundry or caring for clothes) more money for our dreams and helping others (less money spent on clothes that never get worn) and more contentment and happiness.”
So what did I learn from mine?
What I liked about my capsule wardrobe
I learned a ton from the process
The act of cleaning out my closet was both refreshing and eye-opening. I went the whole nine yards and dumped EVERYTHING out of my closet and onto my bed/floor/anywhere possible. Keeping season in mind, I put my favorites back into the closet, made a pile of maybes, and, finally a donate/sell pile. (If that sounds like a free worksheet I made for you, you’re on to something.)
But I still had nowhere near the 40 pieces I had limited myself to (tops, bottoms and dresses — I did not include workout clothes, outerwear or shoes for my Ohio winter capsule thankyouverymuch).
To be honest, I didn’t finish paring down my favorites for about a week. Every day I’d take out a few more tops or jeans that I would sadly pack away, knowing that it would be three long months before they saw the light of day again.
When I finally had my 40 pieces, I was actually quite surprised by what I was left with. It really spoke to the “boxes” we put ourselves in. People openly comment that I am extremely girly and feminine, but the clothes that I chose to keep, that I felt the most confident in, were basics like flattering tees, sweaters, muted colors and button downs. There were very few patterns or overtly feminine pieces, which surprised me, indeed.
The key word here is confident. I didn’t just choose the clothes I had the most attachment to. I chose the ones that, when I put them on, made me feel authentic, smart, delighted and bold — the four words that I want my style to evoke.
It made me think about my clothes differently
This paradigm shift happened in three ways:
- Now that I have a better understanding of what I feel truly confident in, not just what I like or because ooooo, prettyyyyy, I’m able to shop even more intentionally.
- I want to be more mindful and shop less often. Meaning, I want to consume less because I realized I could be happier with less.
- I feel less attached to my clothes. When I got my clothes back out of the basement, I realized I hadn’t been pining for them the past few months.
The most insane part? When I tallied up what I actually wore it only added up to 30 pieces: 15 sweaters, five T-shirts, six pants and four dresses. WUT.
It challenged my creativity
With a fraction of my former wardrobe, I had to create outfits I had never thought of before. This was both out of necessity and design. Necessity because I didn’t want to throw on the same outfits week after week; design because I kept a few lesser-worn items thinking that I would be forced to add them into my regular rotation.
Those pieces that did get added into the rotation, I’m now wearing in brand new ways. Those that didn’t are getting donated. Boom.
This isn’t to say that every step of my experience was rainbows and unicorn glitter. Find out why I became a capsule wardrobe dropout in Part 2 of this series.