So a handful of people have been asking me recently about this “capsule wardrobe” thing that I do and if they could perhaps pick my brain about how I put mine together.
For those of you unfamiliar with the “capsule wardrobe,” it’s basically a collection (usually a smaller number) of carefully planned and selected versatile pieces that you love to wear and actually wear. By versatile I mean that each piece of clothing can be worn with a large number of the other pieces in your closet to create an outfit that fits your unique style.
First of all, I’m always up for talking (and writing) about this process, as the process in and of itself is what excites me the most. So, YES! If you’re interested, I’m willing to help.
However, before you consider me any sort of “capsule wardrobe guru,” I think you should know that…well…I’m NOT! This simplified wardrobe method is still something I’m learning about and adjusting to fit my own style and situation. In fact, instead of calling it “capsule wardrobing,” I call my version of it…
(see series title above)
Here is how my “simply wardrobing” method is similar to this “capsule wardrobe 2.0” method going around:
- I have a smaller, extremely carefully planned out closet of pieces that I actually wear and work well together. Currently, this winter’s wardrobe contains a total of 36 items:
- 6 sweaters (4 pullover & 2 cardigan)
- 13 tops (3 tees, 2 long-sleeved tees, 1 blouse, 4 button-down shirts, & 3 pullover sweatshirts)
- 5 pairs of jeans (2 boyfriend fit jeans, 2 skinny jeans, & 1 not-so-skinny-anymore black denim jeans)
- 2 down-filled vests (1 black & 1 cream-colored) *not pictured*
- 2 dresses (1 gray pleated terry dress & 1 polka-dotted chambray shirt dress)
- 2 jackets (1 pleather, faux fur-lined & 1 green utility)
- 6 pairs of shoes (2 pairs knee-high riding boots, 1 pair Hunter rain boots, 1 pair of ankle boots, 2 pairs of sneakers)
Note: I don’t include accessories (the few pieces of jewelry, scarves, and winter hats I own), bags (my 3 purses I never use and my “always with me” 2-year-old Everlane backpack), socks, undergarments, activewear, or sleepwear in my wardrobe count. This is also pretty typical of capsule wardrobing.
- I do not add items to my wardrobe unless I have carefully considered how they go with all of the other items in my closet. I do this by considering the following questions.
- Does it follow the specific color palette that have established to help maintain the versatility aspect of each item in my closet?
- Does it have a classic shape/pattern that is not likely to go out of fashion in the near future (like, next season)?
- Does it fit my body shape well, being both comfortable and flattering to my boy type?
- Is the item of a higher quality fabric that is put together well and will last me a long time (aiming for YEARS instead of months)?
- Will this item increase the functionality of my wardrobe, or will it only add unnecessary clutter to my closet?
However, there is one key way I have deviated from the “capsule wardrobe” method:
I don’t limit my changing of wardrobe items to once every 3 months/6 months/12 months (whatever the capsule wardrobe method dictates). I have added and subtracted items from my closet on an ongoing basis.
I guess you can call it a “fluid” capsule wardrobe (some people who have taken to this deviation in the method calls it that). But for me (and my neurotic self), I felt I needed to call it something completely different. It helps free me from feeling guilty about not following this one key “rule” of capsule wardrobes. Truth be told, capsule wardrobes aren’t about “rules” anyway, so no guilt should be associated with it. Again…I’m totally neurotic that way. #selfproclaimedTypeACRAZY
While this deviation may not be the best idea for everyone out there, I know I can trust myself not to abuse this freedom of fluidity I give myself. I don’t enjoy clothes shopping in the first place, and only tend to look when I absolutely need to replace something in my wardrobe (e.g. my clothes/shoes don’t fit because my body has changed, one of my pieces have completely worn out/become damaged, etc.). But if I did tend to have a penchant for shopping all the time, I would probably try to force myself into a timetable to curb my habits.
And that’s the real beauty of both capsule and simply wardrobing. You can make it work for YOU by adjusting both the wardrobe itself (the overall vibe, the individual pieces, the number of pieces) and the “rules” of the system (e.g. my rebellion against the shopping ban “rule”).
So here are three reasons why I decided to maintain a smaller, more streamlined wardrobe and why it works well for me.
- The fashion world and styling outfits scare the crap out of me. Basically, I know next to nothing about what goes together, and I gravitate towards the “copy-pasting” method of styling. Zero confidence, people…ZERO!! I’ve never been someone who could look at a piece of clothing and come up with a number of possibilities for it on the fly. So having more choices in my closet actually impedes rather than facilitates my creativity. I freeze. It becomes too confusing and I end up simply wearing the same few pieces of clothing 6 out of 7 days of the week. Now, with a smaller, more streamlined closet, I am more confident in my ability to put outfits I like and look good together. I pretty much took out the “confusion” and left the “what I would wear anyway” stuff. There is little to no guess-work because I know exactly how each item looks with every other item…simply because I have to “figure things out” with fewer items.
Basically, I dummy-proofed (aka “Lydia-proofed”) my closet.
- I’m not a morning person. So to add to the complication of my inability to style creative outfits, I am not a morning person. It takes me a while to get my brain revved up to the point of being able to make coherent and somewhat decent decisions. Since putting on clothing usually happens in this “totally not capable of cohesive thinking” part of the day, I needed the process to be simpler. So it’s basically taking that “Cheesecake Factory 250+ item menu” and narrowing it down to a one-pager with the chef’s specials.
- I know my style and what helps me feel most comfortable in my own skin. Honestly, this was not the case prior to my starting this whole “simply wardrobing” thing. This is probably the big “learning” point from this whole experience for me. First, once I pared down my wardrobe to the key, versatile pieces that I love, it was pretty easy to see the styles that gravitate towards on your average day. This is one of THE vital lesson to be learned in the capsule/simply wardrobing method. If I were still unsure of my style, I would not know what specific pieces I need to add/take away to make my simplified wardrobe work. Without knowing what specific pieces I need to add/take away, I would get sucked into the vortex of buying a lot of new pieces without any rhyme or reason, ending up in the same predicament I was in prior to my simple wardrobe.
And for those who are just starting the process, THIS is why any capsule wardrober will tell you that building and maintaining one is a learning process. You’re NOT going to get it right the first few seasons. I’ve been at this for almost a year so far, and I definitely don’t have my simply wardrobing act together. And that’s okay! Learn from the experience! Take your time! Don’t be discouraged if you still have items you end up never wearing and feel you have key items missing. It happens. After all, as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus says,
“Change is the only constant in life.”
So yes, I would say my “Simply Wardrobing” has been a success. And now that I have embraced this method in a way that works for my own lifestyle and personality quirks, I am excited to share my experience with you all…whether that means in a face-to-face/one-on-one way or en masse via this blog.
Until next time…learning to live simply (wardrobe-wise) and LOVING it…