First though, what IS a capsule wardrobe? Short answer... a small number of interchangeable wardrobe items that together make-up multiple outfits. For most capsule's it's under 40 items. Usually this does not include bags, accessories, underthings, often work-out clothes, and often shoes. It is a bit different for various lifestyles but the general idea is the same. Only so many items. Always. Never more. Bring one thing in, another goes out.
I have 38 pieces. I include bags, shoes, pants, skirts, dresses, tanks, shirts, blouses. I don't include work-out gear (but I only have 2 sets), under things, gardening clothes, pajamas, and swimsuits. And each season I swap out a good half of the pieces for appropriate seasonal items storing the other items for the next season.
Gosh, the interest in the fact that I have a capsule wardrobe is out of this world. You all have questions upon questions upon questions which I will try to address as thoroughly as possible in the coming weeks. The first question I want to address is...
Why? Why do you have a capsule wardrobe?
Many times I don't even get asked why. So many women get it. They get the reasons why and can tell ME why. If you are one of those women that can answer this question for me you might be ready to try the capsule wardrobe idea for yourself. Sure, it's not for everyone. But maybe you are exactly whom it is for.
We have a 900 square foot house with 2 children (17 year old girl and 12 year old boy) and space is a commodity. Having a smaller wardrobe was the initial plan. I started out getting rid of items I never wore or didn't fit simply to consolidate space. It still wasn't nearly consolidated enough, I found. A girl can have a LOT of shoes. And bags. Never mind the number of jeans and t-shirts. Right!?! I just couldn't fit all of that stuff into my closet without stressing out about being able to find things and put things away.
Once I knew I needed to consolidate space well beyond simply tossing unworn or non-fitting items I ran into a problem... what? What to get rid of? I started to realize that if I got that wardrobe down to the amount of space I truly wanted it to be there wouldn't be a whole lot of items left. That comes with the problem of grabbing a shirt to match a skirt or a pair of pants to wear a blouse. And the whole problem would begin again. I had great clothes that had matching items here or there but... they didn't match each other enough. If I cut my wardrobe down to a reasonable size I wouldn't match a good majority of the day wearing what I had been wearing as the norm. I needed to simplify my clothing for ease of matching each other. My mornings are much simpler without the wonder and stress of what to wear with what. Where is that blouse that best matches those pants? Or gosh darn I need that certain bra to wear that certain shirt. All my pieces interchange with each other... easy peasy.
Along with the simplicity of getting dressed each morning is the simplicity of shopping. I CANNOT have a new shirt unless I get rid of one in my closet. Sure, sometimes I'll swap out a white shirt for a new white shirt. Or a pair of jeans for a new pair. But it's one for the other not something new. There isn't a purpose in shopping, any longer, unless to fill a void in my closet. For me, this is a joy. I adore the fact that I have stripped some of the consumerism from my life and filled it with understanding of what these items SHOULD be for me... necessities.
Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy shopping and do so sometimes. But the focus has changed from "hey, look at that cute shirt" to "oh wow, that white shirt's material is so soft and it hangs so lovely!". Because I can only have a few items in my wardrobe I make sure they are the best versions of themselves they can be. I buy my favorite white shirt even if it's three times the cost of others. I only have one. I wear my favorite brand jeans. That little black dress I have? It's my very favorite brand. I look dang good in it.
I don't settle for clothes I don't love. I don't shop unless I need to fill a hole in my wardrobe or to spend time with my girlfriends (and then, I am just chatting all day... not shopping!). The simplicity of this is mind-boggling!
To look G-OO-D!
I do. I look dang good.
Because I'm wearing my favorites, the best fitting, the best cuts, and the best versions I can find my confidence is the highest it's ever been. Confidence does fantastic things for the way you look!
I look put together every day. Because my pieces all are thought through and match each other it is a breeze to look great each day.
To save money.
This isn't the purpose of my capsule wardrobe. For some, this is why they start using one. Not me. I have no problem spending what I need to to get the best versions of what I'm looking for. But, even at the best versions of each item I'm saving money. Simply because I pick up so much LESS.
I have never been a materialistic girl in to shopping and such. But the amount a person can accumulate without trying to is utterly ridiculous. I'm 37 years old and haven't changed sizes much over the years. 20 years of clothing is ALOT!! I could not believe how many bags of clothing I took out to be given away even AFTER I had streamlined my wardrobe. It was incredible! And I hear this sentiment from women again and again and again. We have so much freaking stuff!
If you no longer pick up a shirt here, or a pair of shoes there, or that dress for that one event here... think of the money you save.
I go one step further and purchase almost all of my clothing from vintage stores or thrift stores. This is for personal reasons. I'm a big believer in ethically sourced clothing which is very difficult to find in our traditional department stores. For that reason, there are a few brands I will pay big money for. Yet, the majority of my clothing comes from vintage or thrift. Talk about saving even MORE money!
One thing I want to mention here, to my readers in MN, is Arcs Value Village in the Twin Cities. Recently we gathered our contributors and had a fantastic night with Michelle, one of their personal stylists. She gathered information about us before we got there about our styles, sizes, and more (we even sent her Pinterest pins of outfits we loved). We spend a couple of hours trying on clothes and shoes that she had found for us BEFORE we arrived. I walked out of that night spending about $200 (I know, that's alot at a thrift store but it was well worth it!) for several pairs of crazy awesome brand shoes, a vintage Coach handbag (brown leather saddle style-complete classic!), several great jeans, a leather jacket, a wool sweater, and a whole lot more. This night was easily the best use of my time, money, and energy I've ever spent for my personal wardrobe. I plan on doing it again in a few months!
For those of you not local to MN, check out your local thrift and vintage stores to see what they might offer. There are often a great deal of resources at these places that you may not even realize. If you are like me and don't relish looking through mass amounts of clothing for that one gem, your stores may have a solution for this. Ask.
For my daughter and sisters.
I'm hoping they aren't reading this because I don't talk about this openly with them.
I am concerned with the level of thought we put into our appearance and clothing on a daily basis, as women. I absolutely believe in looking our best. However, I think we've been tricked by our consumerist culture to believe that looking our best requires daily shopping to keep up with the trends and latest make-up and tools. Those boots in the magazine do NOT make us the best version of ourselves. Neither does the most popular color blush. That shirt will not make people like you more or help you relate to your children better. No, that haircut will not repair your marriage.
I'm absolutely as guilty of this thinking as any other girl, truly. But I'm owning up to the fact that I have allowed culture to manipulate my spending habits, my beauty habits, even my thought process to make money off of me. It's my own fault. As I move forward in my life, however, I am trying like a crazy person to be responsible for my own spending habits, beauty habits, and thought process and know without a shadow of a doubt that they haven't been manipulated by that magazine over there or that t.v. show over there or that lovely mother I meet regularly at the school who is simply being nice to me but I like her so I want to get a shirt that matches her style and then maybe we can be friends (breathe here).
A capsule wardrobe forces me to be me without all the muss and fuss. I feel the most vulnerable withing myself that I have in a long time. Because I have chosen only my favorite and best items to wear daily there is no room for me to think that the way I look is a part of the judgement of who I am. If it is, it's solely my responsibility about what I put out there because I have thought through my wardrobe, chosen what best represents me and I feel best in, and wear only those items. Shopping for the right shirt for an event, or a new lipstick is no longer something I do. Now, putting on my clothes and smiling is as great a preparation as I can make. And let me tell you, we use clothing, hair, and makeup to busy our minds from thinking about what's ahead. Truly. Not joshing you. Planning what to wear, shopping for a dress, trying out hair-do's, and looking for shoes are all distractions. Without those things you can only focus on you, others, and what's happening in that moment. It's a bit frightening. And so very, very necessary.
Without my crazy big wardrobe and arsenal of shoes, bags, jewelry, and makeup I am simply me. Dressed as well as I know how. And that's crazy ass scary to put out there. What if they don't like me? What if I'm not good enough? What if I look TOO good? All scary thoughts that have to keep getting stomped down and hidden away as invalid and lies. Changing my view of clothes, makeup, and "stuff" has fundamentally changed my view of myself and the place I have in this world. Crazy, huh!
Here's to all you lovely ladies thinking and wondering about a capsule wardrobe. While your story and circumstances may not be the same as mine I hope you gleaned a bit of encouragement to let go of some of the items you have been hanging on to in your closet. Sometimes we are scared of what happens if we don't keep something (hey, we might need it some day... right!) and never get the chance to feel what it's like to have less. Less of stuff, less of stress, less of work.
Let me tell you from my personal journey towards a minimal lifestyle, having less is a freeing feeling. One you won't want to give up.
For more about our journey towards a minimal lifestyle check out this post.
Or for Tips and Tricks to start your first capsule wardrobe you would want to check THIS OUT.
The CAPSULE WARDROBE: ultimate guide is chock full of great info for your capsule wardrobe journey.
And an update on my personal journey with a capsule wardrobe can be found HERE.