Back in November, I set out on a journey to build a capsule wardrobe based on the amazing 37-piece wardrobe system designed by Caroline over at Unfancy. It was a journey I was actually quite nervous about, but it felt like something I wanted to try so I went for it. I never would’ve guessed where I would end up. Let’s start from the beginning…
I wrote about starting on my capsule wardrobe journey before I really began. I had a great plan laid out so it was easy to dive in. I culled my wardrobe, pulled a couple bags of clothes out of my closet to store for three months (as per the plan) and was all set to jot in the pieces I had left so I could see what I actually needed.
But something kept holding me back.
I’m learning to listen to these little nudges rather than just ploughing ahead to complete whatever goal I’ve set.
So I stopped what I was doing and took a step back.
This was really hard for me. I felt sheepish at times as friends confided they had created their own Unfancy capsule wardrobe after reading my article and it was working so so well for them. I had kind of done it too.
I had to dig deeper.
What about the capsule wardrobe system was working for me and what was not? Could I make this concept totally comfortable for me?
| Questioning the Capsule Wardrobe |
Eventually I did find a way to make the capsule wardrobe work for me personally. However, after a whole lot more research and practical application, I have come to the conclusion that a capsule wardrobe isn’t right for everyone and that there are different ways to approach the whole concept. If you’re at all interested in minimizing/simplifying the way you get dressed that’s great, but first…
You need to get clear on a few things.
You need to ask yourself some questions and listen to your gut instinct. Your answers to these questions might make you realize it’s time to jump right into a capsule wardrobe or maybe you’ll find there’s something else you need to do first or maybe you’ll find that there’s no way this would be a lasting change for you.
Sorting out exactly where you are is the best place to start. Building a capsule wardrobe takes a lot of work but the rewards are amazing too. Let’s dive into these questions and see where you’re at.
What’s your inspiration?
I think this is the crux of this whole shindig. What is your personal inspiration behind wanting to try a capsule wardrobe? Is it so you use up less space for clothes? Do you want to simplify your laundry routine? Are you doing it because it’s the latest “it” thing? Is it because you travel a lot and want to make packing easier?
My two driving forces are that I want my life to feel as simplified as possible. I value quiet time alone and anything I can do to create a little more space for that in my day is worth the effort. I’m also interested in living in a small space that’s tidy(ish), which is impossible for me to achieve with too much stuff.
If your inspiration or drive in creating a capsule wardrobe is rooted in something strong, you will be able to find a system to work for you and be driven to stick with it.
How important is wardrobe choice for you?
This question is a swinging pendulum with choice on one end and simplicity on the other. The more pieces you own the more complicated getting dressed will feel, the fewer pieces you own the simpler the choices.
Matilda Kahl has been in the news recently for her extreme version of a capsule wardrobe, a zero choice work uniform she’s been wearing for the last three years. If the idea of wearing the exact same thing to work everyday feels freeing to you or you get that “I wish I could do that” feeling, it might be time to explore your version of a daily uniform. Your absolute favourite outfit worn daily—could that work for you?!?
… And this simple uniform concept doesn’t need to be saved for work. What if you created a postpartum uniform? Or a first date uniform? Or a cocktail party uniform? You could apply this concept to any area of your life that feels super stressful to dress for. Take out the choice and the decision-making stress leaves with it.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, perhaps you’re most comfortable when your closet is filled with clothes in all different shapes, colours and fabrics. A place where playing dress-up is easy and creative and feels really really fun. If this is you, a capsule wardrobe will feel too confined.
…Or maybe you’re like me and sit somewhere in between those two extremes. You’d like to simplify while maintaining an element of choice and creativity.
Will you do a seasonal closet switch?
Caroline’s system in Unfancy advocates switching your wardrobe over four times a year. In theory, this felt very freeing to me! In practice however, it felt stressful. I realized a couple of things about my personal situation:
1. I don’t have the space to store what I’m not wearing—it is a better use of space and simpler for me to keep all my clothes in one closet.
2. I only like to take inventory twice a year—once for spring/summer and once for fall/winter. Reinventing my wardrobe four times a year felt like unnecessary work to me.
Once I dove in and realized these things I decided I needed to create a capsule style wardrobe that worked year ’round and only needed to be inventoried, or reinvented, twice per year.
If you have space to store pieces outside of your closet, the seasonal switch could be an awesome choice for you especially if you live in a varied climate with two to four very distinct seasons.
Or perhaps working in a three month timeframe feels more attainable for you to try a capsule wardrobe without getting rid of everything you own (that’s definitely how I felt to start!).
How many pieces do you need?
The number of pieces you choose to use will likely be influenced by the number of times you decide to switch your wardrobe around.
Whereas the year-long capsule wardrobes I’ve seen are around 75 items (clothing and shoes).
It’s important to note, no one is holding you to these numbers. They are awesome guidelines to see what capsule wardrobes can look like and how other people are creating them.
If it turns out you are interested in creating a capsule wardrobe you can choose any number of items for any length of time. Totally your call.
When will you shop?
Many expert minimalists suggest shopping for your capsule wardrobe only a few times a year and limiting the timeframe you have to shop. Once you’re done, you don’t even need to think about shopping until the next time you schedule to replace pieces.
I think this is an absolutely amazing strategy if the act of shopping doesn’t bring you much pleasure or you want to spend your time doing things other than shopping. Get the shopping job done, check it off your list and make room for other things.
But if you enjoy browsing or you have thrifting skills or you like shopping at off times of year then this one-and-done strategy might not work for you.
For me personally, I’m totally happy to have an ongoing list that I can browse for while I’m out and about or browsing online. I’m shopping so much that I like to pick things up when I see them, and feel stress around having to leave something great just because it’s not “shopping time”.
What do you want to include?
Of course sorting through the exact pieces you will use for your capsule wardrobe is something you’ll want to dive into once you decide if the concept is the right path for you.
What I actually mean by this question is what kind of capsule might actually work for you?
Would it feel expansive if you only “minimized” your clothes and left your shoe collection exactly as it is? Or perhaps you’re okay to include everything except athletic wear? Or maybe you want to create a minimal wardrobe for weekdays and free-for-all-it on the weekend?
The system I’ve designed for myself includes everything except jewellery and silk scarves (which I consider jewellery). I’ve really broken it down piece-by-piece and included everything from loungewear to party clothes to intimates. The actual number of pieces included in my capsule wardrobe system is larger than what I’ve seen out there, but when you include items like socks and undies the piece count rises quickly.
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People including myself are latching onto the concept of a capsule wardrobe because it creates so much ease. Less really is more. It’s also an environmentally friendly concept and if you’re buying fewer pieces you may be able to choose fine local designer items. My personal experience with it has been amazing… so much so that I’m slowly clearing out the rest of our house with the skills I’ve acquired.
I hope these questions help clarify whether it might be worth diving into a capsule wardrobe of your own.
I would love for you to consider all of these questions and share your thoughts below while I prepare to share my personal capsule wardrobe system with you soon.