I don’t usually consider myself one to follow a lot of trends, but the capsule wardrobe phenomenon kind of crept up on me! It all began about 3-4 years ago after I read Marie Kondo’s, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s a very inspiring read. Obviously, I was ready for some “life changing magic” and after reading this book, I began tidying up with a vengeance! My entire closet got a major overhaul. I won’t lie though, evaluating every piece of clothing, every shoe, every scarf, EVERYTHING you own, is not a small undertaking.
My motivation to take on this mammoth task just seemed to dovetail with me naturally moving towards a simpler way of living. I was deeply craving order, peace, calmness and simple beauty in all aspects of my life. I was beginning to eliminate excess an all areas of my life. My wardrobe was just naturally next up on the list of things to get a makeover. I believe the new minimalist aesthetic was influencing me as well.
To be fair, this whole transformation was a process. It did not happen overnight. So before you dismiss the capsule wardrobe as something unobtainable or unrealistic for you, give it a chance. It just may be the life change you need!
5 Reasons to Start a Capsule Wardrobe
While everyone’s reasons for being interested in a capsule wardrobe may be a little different, here are a few reasons it could be right for you:
- You’re wanting to simplify your morning routine – Having a “system” can cut down confusion on what to wear each morning. This will reduce your stress on trying to decide on an outfit and can help you get out the door on time.
- You’re ready to focus on “Quality” over “Quantity” – If you’re getting to an age where you would rather have fewer items, but higher quality clothing then the capsule wardrobe will be your best friend. At some point we need to let go of Forever 21, right? When EVERY item in your closet is something that you’ve curated into a ‘look you love’ then getting dressed will be a pleasure not a chore.
- You’re motivated to stop buying “FAST FASHION” due to environmental concerns – This was a major factor for me personally. The planet can not continue to sustain our over-consumption and excess. I didn’t want to continue buying cheap clothing that I really didn’t need and was only going to end up in a landfill. We MUST take responsibility for our own contribution to this environmental exhaustion of resources.
- You’ve got more important things to think about than what you’re going to wear – The idea of a “uniform” for high level business people, CEOs, etc. is definitely a “thing”. The idea is that to reduce decision fatigue, you streamline small, insignificant decisions in your daily life. By not having to decide what to wear each day, you can save your brain power for more important decisions. Many professionals will wear the same look every day. People such as Adele, Mark Zuckerberg, Angelina Jolie, Karl Lagerfeld and many more adhere to this streamlined approach. Not only can wearing something you feel great in boost your confidence, but having a uniform can also help prevent clothing waste, an issue that negatively impacts the environment every single day. See my last point.
- You want to save money and stick to a wardrobe budget – Personally, I haven’t purchased any new clothes in almost 2 years! My spending on clothes is practically zero these days. Now I’m not saying this will work for everyone but I have my “basics” already. I didn’t set out to have a shopping ban, but I just stopped buying things that I knew would probably get worn once. By this point in my life, I know what styles look good on my body type and I stick with it. I don’t really need to keep experimenting. The “classics” never fail.
My Accidental Capsule Wardrobe
If you been reading my blog for very long, you probably know that I’m going to dig a little deeper into our motivations for doing things. Whether you’re downsizing your wardrobe, your home or your life in general, in my opinion, it usually always has a much deeper meaning than meets the eye. Sure anyone can want to clean up and get more organized, but when you REALLY make some major changes to your lifestyle, there’s probably some significant personal growth coming to the surface.
My journey of pairing down and simplifying my wardrobe was just an extension of what was going on inside me. I was feeling the urge to release things that were no longer an authentic representation of my true self. Suddenly I wanted to stop accumulating more and wanted to only have things around me that felt genuine and real for me.
At the time, I didn’t know that what I was doing with my closet had an official name. The capsule wardrobe was just something that I was naturally gravitating towards. At the same time, I was also letting go of other practices or habits that I had been doing for years without really analyzing why.
For example, I had been highlighting my hair since I was 15 and honestly never really questioned why. It was something I had been doing on autopilot for almost 30 years! So I made the decision to stop going to the salon so my natural brunette color could finally come through. Not that coloring your hair is wrong, but I wanted to have a better understanding of why I felt the need to do it and to try make peace with that. The persona I had created with the blonde hair just wasn’t who I was anymore. I needed to see who this new person was that was trying to emerge.
So I want to encourage you to look a little deeper into your motivations for wanting to consider a capsule wardrobe. Perhaps it’s a simpler, more authentic way of living that’s trying to get your attention. Plus, you’ll be more likely to stick to the plan and resist shopping temptations when you know your true intentions.
How To Create a Capsule Wardrobe
I’m not claiming to be a fashion expert or that I have all the answers in developing a capsule wardrobe. I’ll just be sharing how I developed mine and the process I used. Hopefully this will give you an outline for designing a capsule wardrobe that you’ll fall in love with. Some people out there will encourage you to commit to a certain number of items. But I just let the natural process take over without giving myself a strict number of things. If you want to get super strict then have at it!
Whether your goal is to streamline your morning routine or to just clear the chaos from your closet, these tips should get you well on your way to your perfect capsule wardrobe:
- Make a Vision Board – Getting inspiration for how you want to look and feel every day is critical. Having a clear mental picture of what you’re aiming for is important in the beginning stages of developing your capsule wardrobe. Start a Pinterest board or just go “old school” and clip images from your favorite magazine and paste it on a poster board. Try to notice looks you repeat or are continually drawn to. Do you lean more towards a more clean, minimal look or do you like a more bohemian style? Begin to notice the trends you’re liking.
- Analyze your Lifestyle – We all have a dream life we’re aspiring to and we spend money to get ourselves there, don’t we? But this is the time to get honest about how you genuinely live. I began to realize that having expensive designer heels was
slightlyridiculous. I literally wears heels once or twice a year! Being a personal trainer, I go to work in fitness gear. Accepting how I was truly living was eye opening and a little hard to accept at first, but getting honest with ourselves will pay dividends later.
- Know your body type – When you know what styles look best on your body type, you’re most of the way there. For example, I know that a “fit and flare” dress style works best for my body and I usually can’t go wrong with this style. You can eliminate most of the guess work by just getting clear about what works best for you and sticking with it. We shouldn’t have to keep recreating the wheel here.
- Take everything out of your closet – Ok, this is where it’s definitely going to look worse before it gets better. It will most likely look like a bomb went off in your home. DON’T PANIC! This is just a necessary part of the process. My room was a disaster for several days but the end result is worth it!
- Discard what no longer fits or is not repairable – Begin to cull your belongings and separate out what no longer fits or doesn’t fit your style anymore into a donation pile. What is damaged, stained, or just can’t be mended should go into a trash pile. Be patient with yourself. This can bring up emotions if you’ve gained weight or feel guilt for spending money on these things. It’s ok to feel emotions during this process. It’s PERFECTLY normal. Just take your time but begin letting go of items that are no longer serving you.
- Take inventory of what you have – Divide your clothes into function. Pants and jeans in one pile, shirts and blouses in another, etc. You may even need to break this down further into work and casual wear. Make note of how many pairs of black pants. How many white t-shirts, etc. How many work dresses? Keep going until you know EXACTLY what you’re working with. This will come in handy when you assess if you need to purchase anything new.
- Create a color palette – This one was easy for me. I don’t do bright colors or patterns. For me, whites, creams, blush, navy, gray and black were the colors I just naturally gravitated towards. Lucky for me, these colors all seem to go with each other nicely. Notice what colors you typically end up buying. This palette will be different for everyone. Consider the colors that make you feel pretty and beautiful. Get honest about colors that may look good on someone else, but you just keep shoving to the back of the closet.
- Begin to combine outfits and take pictures for reference – Start putting outfits together and document this so you don’t forget. Decide on 2-3 combinations for each of your favorite pieces. Each piece should effortlessly go with most of the items you keep. You want to think in terms of your wardrobe being in harmony.
- Go through shoes, handbags, scarves and jewelry – Now that you’ve sorted through your clothes, it’s time to do the same process with shoes and all other accessories. Get really honest about the last time you actually wore any of these items. It’s very easy to think we’ll eventually wear them but we probably never do. I had several pairs of shoes that I had been keeping “just in case” but that day never came. After a year, I donated those shoes and honestly don’t miss them at all. Get rid of all the random earrings, old handbags and everything else that no longer fits into your ideas from your “vision board.” Remember you’re trying to curate and fine-tune your aesthetic. Many items just won’t fit the bill and it’s OK.
- Decide if you need to purchase any new items – It’s totally possible to get to the end of this cleaning out process and decide that you actually need a few NEW items to make your capsule wardrobe work. Maybe you need a new pair of black flats. Or a new white button down shirt is in order. When you go shopping for new pieces make sure you’re being patient to find the right one. You don’t want to run out and find the first or cheapest thing you can find. That’s precisely what we’re trying to get away from. Be willing to spend a little more for a quality piece that fits you beautifully. You’ll hopefully be wearing it for years to come.
- Consider baskets, wooden hangers, or other organizers – Having your closet look beautiful and organized is everybody’s dream isn’t it? No longer being bombarded by clutter and chaos just makes us breath a sigh of relief. Consider using pretty baskets for your smaller items. I also bought matching wooden hangers to give my closet a luxurious feel. And definitely get rid of all wire and cheap plastic hangers ASAP. When you have fewer items to choose from they should be presented in a beautiful and inspiring way. Make it a positive experience and choosing what to wear will be soothing and enjoyable.
- Commit to ONLY buying new items in the future that you genuinely LOVE! – I realize that this can be a work in progress. When you love clothes and get tempted to buy new things during every season this will be your biggest challenge in maintaining a capsule wardrobe. You may even want to implement a “one in, one out” rule where if you bring something new in then one item must get sold or donated.
Classic, Quality Pieces never go out of style!
My capsule wardrobe has definitely been a work in progress over a few years now. I just keep honing and fine-tuning it along the way. Usually this means continuing to get rid of things. Everyone’s capsule wardrobe will be different and it should be.
If you’re someone who needs more work clothes or you entertain often, then these lifestyle factors should definitely come into play. The more we get honest about how much we actually wear the clothes we have, the easier it will be to let go of pieces that just aren’t working for us.
Keep thinking QUALITY OVER QUANTITY! That is the name of the game when it comes to making a capsule wardrobe work for you. If you’re motivated by cutting back on waste and being more eco-friendly then these reasons will also help you stay focused when buying temptations come along.
I wish you luck in developing your own capsule wardrobe! Thank you so much for reading today. Please SHARE this post with your friends and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to my newsletter!
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