Lovelies! Usually, I am excited to get started on my next capsule wardrobe, it means shopping and all things girly that go along with creating a wardrobe. This fall I started out excited to open, put together, and then close my wardrobe but I quickly ended up frustrated and hating my closet.
What?!? That is NOT what a capsule wardrobe (for me, anyways) was intended to do. It is intended to free up my brain, free up my time, free up my pocketbook, and make me excited to know that I look gooood without much thought and energy. Because this is crazy…
In 1930, the average American woman owned nine outfits. Today, that figure is 30 outfits — one for every day of the month.
Each year chicks spend more than 100 hours on 30 trips to shop for clothes, 15 shoe-shopping excursions taking 40 hours, and a full 50 hours per year window shopping.
I want all that time spent on drinking coffee and reading books not thinking about closets, thank you!
A capsule wardrobe absolutely HAS BEEN a game changer for my day to day life. It has given me more confidence, time, energy, and joy. I am a big advocate of the concept. But, this season’s creation of a capsule wardrobe has me rethinking the capsule wardrobe altogether. Kind of. Mostly.
The lessons I learned this fall has me rethinking my use of the concept. But, more of that later. Right now let’s talk about what went wrong for this season’s capsule wardrobe…
Mistake #1: Buying items online.
Because a capsule wardrobe is made up of only a few very good pieces of clothing, I really should intend to try on and feel every. single. piece. in my closet. Each piece has to fit and feel amazing to be worth the space in my closet.
I am passionate about not purchasing clothing from brands and stores that aren’t free trade/ethically sourced. Because that is quite difficult to do in brick and mortar stores to do I ended up ordering several pieces online. They didn’t cost me a whole lot because I did get several on sale however, it was enough for me to be dedicated to making the pieces be AWESOME for me regardless of what it took.
Problem: it took me several weeks to realize how much I DIDN’T like them. Really, really didn’t like the cuts and the style. But because I had paid good money for them, and couldn’t return them, I was bound and determined to pretend and force them to work. And I knew that if I repurchased pieces they may not have the same free trade status.
Note: I did buy a few pieces from traditional brands. But, I was lucky to find quite a few pieces at our local vintage store. Score!
Mistake #2: Not listening to myself.
The clothing I got online was from a very reputable and high quality company making me feel like the problem was with ME and not with the clothing. I convinced myself that the clothes really did look good and I just couldn’t quite see it. That thinking is probably partly true. But my capsule wardrobe journey isn’t for anyone else but me. If I don’t love the clothes… it just doesn’t matter. I simply didn’t listen to myself from the very first time I tried those pieces on and knew they weren’t something I loved.
Mistake #3: Getting it right.
When I first realized those clothes were all wrong I should have put them in a bag and gifted them to someone else.. and tried again. Instead, I tried for several weeks to wear them every which way and get the look right. I put tops with pants I don’t like so that it might “work”. I even bought an accessory just to get a look I might like. Mistake, mistake, mistake! But at 37 years old I didn’t want to admit that I STILL don’t always understand my own style. Geesh. That sounds so looserish. Yet, if I had admitted it and simply tried again I wouldn’t have several weeks under my belt of being frustrated every morning getting dressed, feeling a bit off in my own skin, and wondering why on earth I did capsule wardrobes in the first place!
Mistake #4: Following the rules.
I believe in lists, organization, and plans for your wardrobe when working with capsule wardrobes. Frankly, for any kind of wardrobe. I think they save you money, time, and energy. I don’t want to purchase shirts that only work with one pair of pants. Or a pair of shoes I can never wear simply because I loved them in the store. Having a wardrobe plan, color, and style is always a good idea.
But I followed the plan far, far too carefully and didn’t allow myself to get a blouse just slightly off the plan because I loved it. You know maybe, I could get a white shirt instead of a white button down? Just maybe that would work?
Of course it would. But I was so set on conquering the list and getting the white button down checked off that I settled for something that I secretly hated. Sure, I felt like a champ for finding a white button down from a great brand. I CONQUERED that list!
The list is a guideline. Go off course a bit if you want. Your wardrobe and clothes are there to serve YOU, not the other way around. I let that list run my closet. Darn it.
Mistake #5: Only including one season.
Here’s that rule thing again. I have committed to 38 pieces of clothing in my capsule. This fall I had allowed myself to go up to 40 to allow for the need to have clothing from temperatures of 40 degrees all the way to 75 degrees. Yes, this is a typical MN fall. And, it’s not like it’s cool in the morning and warms up in the afternoon kind of weather where layering is effective. It’s 50 degrees for a couple days and then 75 degrees for a couple days and then oh gosh… 40 degrees the next. We are talking full outfits for both seasons need to be in the closet. I totally underestimated what that would do to my closet. It was stressing me out. I really, really needed a few more items in order to easily use my wardrobe. But those items didn’t fit, gosh darn it.
Mistake #6: Having fun.
I’m a girl. I should love to shop, right? Well, to be truthful, I’ve never been one whom loves shopping. This is partly why the capsule wardrobe appeals to me… it limits my shopping. However, I do love to shop SOME. But this fall, I was hating it. Nothing was fitting the rules. And every store, every brand… stunk at life.
Of course it was me, all me, that was the problem. Once again I was obsessed with the rules and order that I forgot the rules were intended for me to better enjoy my wardrobe and the process of putting it together.
Gah! Will someone slap me next time, please!
When I finally figured out they I was way too absorbed with the rules and threw them out the window for a day… I found my groove. I kept my goals in mind when I shopped but allowed myself to try on a top that I simply thought was pretty. And you know, I still didn’t buy anything that didn’t fit within what I actually needed, I found I really didn’t like them. But funny enough, I found that I truly DO know my style. I know what I will or will not wear. I simply need to allow myself to enjoy looking at things I find pretty knowing full well I’ll probably not bring it home. It’s okay to look, try on, and enjoy something totally outside what you know is probably best for your wardrobe. And hey, if you bring it home and make it one of your items…own it and have fun with it!
Mistake #7: The “maybe” pile.
When I would go shopping to fill my list I would have three piles in the dressing room…
Pile 1: Hate it.
Pile 2: Maybe. Fits the rules, would work well with outfits.
Pile 3: Love. Yes Yes Yes!
Pile 2 shouldn’t exist. Ever. There are so many clothes in the world that if I don’t love it… it goes. Yes, I will find something else I love. It’s simply a mathematical probability. And no, it doesn’t matter how deep it is on sale, or what brand, or how perfect it fits into the rules… it goes if I don’t love it. And that, my lovelies, is a very freeing moment. That moment when you allow yourself to “love” what you put in your closet. Not that it looks good, or your friends like it, or it fits with what is currently trendy. That YOU love it. No maybe’s, only love.
For a memory jogger, here’s the FREE printable fall capsule wardrobe checklist I used (and then completely threw out)…
And so, I’m keeping the idea of the capsule wardrobe. The lessons of simplicity, purpose, and waste that I have learned. But I’m challenging myself to make my own rules. To be thoughtful and purposeful of every. single. thing. that comes into my closet. And frankly, my home… but that’s another story that I’m excited to bring you.
Yet, I am scrapping the capsule wardrobe in my own life. The “mistakes” I made are simply lessons for the future of my closet. Going forward I will have a Purposeful Wardrobe.
(yes, I totally just made that name up. “Purposeful Wardrobe”. It’s good, isn’t it!)
My Purposeful Wardrobe will encourage shopping only for a purpose, change seasonally, always have a plan, a generalized list, a “hoped” number of items, and require me to really, really love the item in order to be included. That’s the only rule. Every single item must be touched and loved by me. And fit into my closet space. Fit nicely.
Now, lovelies, I bring you this fall’s Purposeful Wardrobe. And gosh darn did it take me a long time to get to this post! It’s ridiculous, actually. I’m not concerned about the number of items but for the sake of you all I’ve counted and inventoried my wardrobe. I know that it helps others to get a visual look of how a wardrobe this small could work. Because everything matches others in multiple variations. That’s the secret of a small wardrobe!
Accessories and Shoes: 2 scarves, a soft shawl, tall leather boots, leather booties, velvet green heels, leopard loafers, leopard heels, and blue Swedish clogs. Not shown: moccasins, black flats, and a pair of sneakers.
Extras for no reason: poncho (isn’t that awesome!) and Hogwarts t-shirt (I know, gotta have one of these!)
Tops: navy silk sleeveless, gray sleeveless, white and black t-shirt, gray graphic t-shirt, blue & white print short sleeve, blue & white 3/4 sleeve.
Not pictured: 2 cocktail dresses, 1 black floral knit dress, 1 casual hoodie, 1 black wool vest, jewelry, and 3 bags.
You aren’t seeing all my shoes or accessories. And a couple things that were in the wash at the time of these photo’s. And funny enough, I think I have less than 40 items including shoes and bags! Funny how when I stopped worrying about that, it happened.
I’ve learned that a small wardrobe is fabulously useful. It helps me feel calmer, more organized, fabulous, and fashionable. But having tight rules isn’t working well for me. If you are thinking of a capsule wardrobe the one lesson that I think you will find the most important is to dress for yourself and your lifestyle, only. YOU are the only person that you should be listening to.
Girl, YOU are the only you. Figure out what that looks like! Grab the workbook, print it out, and use it to help guide your shopping so that YOU are the star of your wardrobe.
More posts in the capsule wardrobe series are: