By January, I had been eyeing the book The life-changing magic of tidying up, by Marie Kondo for some time, so finally I picked it up. I absolutely loved this book and it sent me on a household purging mission that is ongoing. She recommends holding every item you own and while holding it asking yourself if the item brings you joy.
I cull my wardrobe regularly so I didn’t expect to get rid of much clothing with this new technique. To my surprise by the end of the process I had four bags of clothes for donation and two bags for consignment.
Where did all of this come from?!, I asked myself. Although most of my everyday wardrobe stayed intact, I filled numerous bags with loungewear, activewear, socks and accessories.
This small exercise of holding each piece and asking myself if it brought joy gave me permission to let go of things that I normally would have thought, I’ll hang onto this ‘just in case’. This is especially true when it came to letting go of beautiful investment clothing that no longer fit or felt like me (there are very few pieces that still bring joy when they don’t actually fit!), and jewellery that I usually feel quite fierce about hanging onto.
When I looked at what was left I felt so happy, free, and wonderfully cleansed.
It was this feeling that made me realize I needed my capsule wardrobe to include everything in my wardrobe, not just the pieces I wear during the day.
Often examples for wardrobe capsules don’t include all the pieces you actually need in your wardrobe for it to be fully complete.
A French wardrobe capsule example I love
Where do pyjamas fit into this capsule or running gear or socks?
Also, most often these wardrobe capsules are also based on wardrobes in temperate climates—weather in Paris has high temperature averages of 25°C (77°F) and doesn’t ever get much cooler than 5°C (41°F).
Contrast this to Toronto weather where it easily gets to -40°C (-40°F) in the winter and +40°C (104°F) in the summer. Summer and Winter in Toronto are completely different and require some clothing suitable for both.
My head-to-toe wardrobe capsule design
After doing lots of research, I decided that I really needed to create my own wardrobe capsule system to suit my specific needs. Here are the important points I focused on to create my wardrobe capsule:
1. I live in a city with extreme summer and winter seasons.
2. I don’t want to switch my closets over so all my clothes need to live in one place throughout the entire year.
3. I only want to inventory my closet twice per year.
4. I want to account for every single piece in every category of clothing in my closet—if I leave out certain categories in my wardrobe capsule like loungewear or intimates, those categories will just build up.
5. I want a simplified wardrobe with choice.
6. My days are spent mostly in smart casual clothing (for business attire modifications see this comment).
7. I want to do two big shops per year but keep my options open to browse and pick things up as I see them if I want to.
There are 133 items listed in the wardrobe capsule above not counting jewellery and silk scarves (which are jewellery to me). (When I thought about including jewellery in my wardrobe capsule I felt constricted so I left them out.)
In addition to the pieces above I’ve given myself 10 “play pieces” to work with. These are pieces that I feel are works of art and I’m so drawn to I can’t pass up, but might not fit very well into the categories of this wardrobe capsule. I’ve also given myself 10 stored pieces. For me, these are vintage and designer pieces that no longer fit but I don’t want to get rid of and a few maternity pieces.
That makes the total number of pieces in this entire wardrobe capsule system 153.
A little note: I wear loungewear for pyjamas, if you don’t you will want to add two pairs of pyjamas to your capsule wardrobe.
A work in progress
I believe that the greatest styles and wardrobes evolve as the women who wear them do. I have no doubts that this wardrobe capsule will evolve as I gain experience with the system. I can feel in my bones that I will likely shave the listed number down by at least ten, and I think that change may even happen this year.
It’s really important to allow yourself this flexibility as well.
Currently, I have 114 pieces in my closet of the “ideal” 153 listed above. I don’t know if I will ever actually have 153 pieces in my closet as I ebb and flow through the seasons.
Of the 114 pieces I own, I have too many in some categories (mostly shoes!) but since I know each of these pieces bring me joy it seems silly to let them go just because they don’t fit into my new system. I’ve decided that I will let them go as feels right and not replace them until my new system tells me I need to.
Making a wardrobe capsule of your own
Could you use the system I’ve designed exactly as it is in your own wardrobe or tweak it a little to work for you?
Are you starting with a few less pieces so a smaller wardrobe capsule might work better for you to start… or forever?
If you sat down and thought about it, what are the 3-5 things that matter to you when it comes to creating a wardrobe capsule. I highly recommend writing these motivations down so you have them in front of you as you decide what direction you’d like to take your wardrobe.