This blog series has been floating around my head and taking shape for a few weeks now, so I'm excited to make it real and put it out there! I've talked a tiny bit on Instagram about my journey with a capsule wardrobe and am so excited to share more...
What is a "capsule wardrobe," you may ask? Caroline over at Unfancy writes this,
"Simple definition? It’s a mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you totally LOVE to wear.
Even before I discovered Caroline's blog, the idea of less was resonating deep in my soul. Right around the first days of 2014, I began purging our stuff. One shelf, one drawer, one cabinet at a time. I was always afraid to tackle the closet...until one day...I did. It started as a gradual purge, before I even read anything about a "capsule wardrobe." Each small editing session got easier and more cutthroat...until I finally reached my tiny list of 37 items. It's scary, yes. You realize how much attachment you have to things. Like giving those clothing items you bought with hard-earned money somehow diminishes who you are. I am here to tell you--you are NOT your clothes. You are NOT your things. It will feel a little scary at first, but overall, it is the most freeing and exhilarating experience to give away 80% of your clothes (if you're like me!) I didn't realize how attached I'd gotten to shopping...how much I was using clothes, items, things as balm to my hurts and relief when I was stressed. The result of turning to stuff to "fix" feelings is just more negative feelings...guilt over everything you have, a constant need for even more stuff, then guilt about wanting more when you already have so much. To break that cycle is an amazing feeling indeed.
Also? Less clothing means more money for things I really want to spend money on--experiences, instead of stuff. "less stuff, more life."
Yes, I have less clothing. I have hardly any clothing, by some people's standards. But I have 37 items that I LOVE to wear, that make me feel beautiful and capable and put-together...and that is something worth celebrating!
Some practical notes about how I built my capsule wardrobe:
- I took every item out of my closet and laid it on the bed. I started by putting items that were an absolute LOVE back in, one at a time. You know those pieces that you'd choose to wear every single day? Those are the love items. Put those back in your closet first.
- Next, I made a pile of "toss" items. These were things that I knew I wouldn't wear, but had been holding onto because they were expensive, or trendy, or I thought I'd someday wear them to that hypothetical futuristic someday event. Get rid of them! (I made a Goodwill, sell, and hand-down-to-the-cousins pile for these)
- Next, I put "maybe" items in a pile. I started trying them on in front of a mirror, one by one. If my GUT reaction was anything other than "love it!" they got put in the "toss" pile. Bottom line, your clothing should make you feel beautiful, confident and together. If you put something on, look in the mirror and think "ehhh," it doesn't belong in your capsule!
- There were some items that I really liked when I tried them on, but wasn't sure they'd fit in my overall wardrobe. I set those off to the side to mull over. Once you toss items, they're gone, so I wanted to make sure I wouldn't regret getting rid of anything
- I figured out my lifestyle. I work from home, so I don't have to adhere to a dress code, but I also can't work or be productive in yoga pants. I just can't. I do a lot of meeting with clients, running errands, last-minute lunches with friends, walking the dog. I am out and about a lot, and while I don't need to be dressed up to meet clients, I do need to look put-together. However, I don't need three black dresses and four blazers. One GOOD one of each will do. It's that kind of thought process that is so helpful.
- Then, I figured out my uniform. Maybe this is a breezy dress with pockets, that can be dressed up or dressed down. Maybe you're a jeans and t-shirts kinda girl. Maybe you can't wear anything without gold sequins. Whatever it is, figure out what YOUR go-to uniform is, the outfit you would pick over and over and over again. Mine is loose jeans and a breezy tank or tee, with flats/sneakers/sandals. A million variations of that and I'm happy. Casual, low maintenance, that "effortlessly put together" air (Caroline has a great worksheet for figuring out your uniform and style)
- Pick your colors. What colors are you most drawn to? I already knew that, when given the choice, I will pick neutrals over anything. Grey, black, white, navy, army green, cream. I am so drawn to them. If I want to throw in a pop of color, I tend towards a bold blue--cobalt or turquoise--or yellow. You'll see that reflected in my wardrobe. This doesn't mean I'm 100% monochromatic. Remember, your capsule wardrobe doesn't include accessories, so when I'm feeling sassy and want some extra color, I can work it in through jewelry, scarves, headbands or bags. What's really helpful about this step is picking a palette so that all your items work together. For the most part, I can wear ALL of my individual wardrobe items together in an outfit. Nearly every top can go with nearly every bottom. This is why I don't feel like I'm constantly re-wearing the same stuff...I can create tons of outfits out of limited items, because everything goes really well together.
- The only clothes actually at my disposal are the ones in my current capsule, plus the extra items that I use regularly like workout gear and pajamas. "Out of season" items are boxed in rubbermaid containers and stored on a top shelf in my closet. Out of sight, out of mind! It makes so much easier to get dressed each day
- For pieces that were hard to purge (I'm a little emotionally attached, they were really expensive, I really think I'll regret getting rid of it), I put them in a box in the top of my closet, so they aren't actually "gone." If I go 6 months without missing them, they get tossed for real. I decided on 6 months because each season's clothes can mostly carry over to the next season--summer tees can morph into fall by adding a layer, etc...so by boxing up summer items that don't make the cut when I plan my capsule in the weeks before summer starts, if I don't miss them throughout all of summer AND fall, then they can obviously be purged for real
- I keep a few items for special purposes that I don't count in my number. For instance, I kept 4 or 5 maxi skirts that don't make the official cut for my spring/summer capsules, but I'm saving them because I will always use when traveling to parts of the world like Africa where I need to observe a cultural dress code and my summer items (shorts) won't cut it
- I kept a few sentimental items that aren't included in my number but that matter a lot to me...like the amazing vintage dress I bought for my 18th birthday party, my great-grandma's knit sweater and my nana's housedress. I might wear them, I might not, but they stay in my closet
I had to shop quite a bit for my spring + summer wardrobes. Things were purchased on sale and at stores such as Nordstrom Rack and TJ Maxx, where you can get a great deal. I splurged on some items, like a Madewell summer dress, and saved on other things, like a baseball shirt from Asos and a basic white tee for $15 from Everlane. I also got my new favorite jeans on super sale from Gap and scored a great deal on 7 For All Mankind skinnies at Nordstrom Rack. The key is to research, research, research. I collected items I wanted to buy on a Pinterest board so I could see several options for the same item next to each other (i.e, several options for dark skinny jeans) then made purchases mostly from that Pinterest board. I highly suggest it! If you purchase online, try it on at home and your immediate reaction is anything other than "OHMYGOD LOVE," return it. The point is to LOVE and WEAR everything you own.
If you need any help as you build your capsule wardrobe, or just need some encouragement, shoot me an email or leave a comment! I'd love to help you out. I got tons of inspiration from the following places, as well:
- Caroline Joy at Unfancy
- Cuyana's Lean Closet series
- Breanna Rose's posts about editing her closet
- The Contentment Challenge from Nancy Ray
- Madelynn Hackwith's Perfect Wardrobe series
- Valerie Woerner's post about her capsule wardrobe
Share your struggles and victories and let me know if you're embracing this simplified life! I love hearing other's experiences :) I'll be sharing the entire list of pieces, as well as photos, of my current summer capsule in the next post...stay tuned!!
just for fun: a photo of my dog happily napping under a pile of hangers during operation cutthroat closet purge 2k14