About five minutes after I wrote a post about how I’m not a fashion blogger, I decided on a whim to try out a capsule wardrobe after hearing about them for literally years and years.
I posted a single photo of my bed covered in clothing on InstaStories and I was flooded with questions about it.
So here’s how a capsule wardrobe has worked for me, now that I’m about two months in.
If you’re new to the concept of a capsule wardrobe, basically a capsule wardrobe is a collection of 30-50 versatile items of clothing that you can wear for a whole season.
I don’t like minimalism for minimalism’s sake – I like minimalism for how it brings ease and order to my life.
starting a capsule wardrobe
Here’s how the process worked for me.
I took EVERY SINGLE THING out of my closet.
I sorted everything into one of four piles:
- Things to keep in my current closet
- Things to store away for another season
- Things I didn’t really LOVE but wasn’t ready to get rid of
- Things I knew I didn’t like and didn’t want to keep
Here’s what I found: I had PLENNNNTY of clothing to make a capsule wardrobe out of what I already owned. I bought one new pair of tennis shoes and that was it.
What I was left with were my favorite favorite items – it ended up being around 60 items. I wasn’t going for any specific number, so this is probably higher than your typical capsule wardrobe, and I felt fine about it.
For my winter capsule wardrobe, it included:
- 3 button down blouses
- 10 turtleneck or long-sleeve tee kinds of shirts
- 4 sweaters
- 2 sweatshirts
- 3 cardigans
- 4 jackets (jean jacket, leather jacket, olive utility jacket, and fleece pullover)
- 10 pairs of jeans
- 6 skirts
- 5 dresses
- 1 jumpsuit
Obviously, this didn’t include shoes, underwear, workout clothing, or accessories.
My dressing situation is also pretty basic – since I’m either home with my kids or working for myself, I can wear casual outfits all week long. I dress up to go to church on Sundays and occasionally for a nice event. I don’t need a work wardrobe or go out frequently.
When I asked on Instagram if people had questions about my capsule wardrobe, the most common question was “Aren’t you worried you’ll get bored?”
To be honest, this was not a top concern for me.
My main goals for a capsule wardrobe were:
- Be able to get dressed more quickly
- Like my daily outfits more
- Have a closet that was easier to keep neat and organized (Bart and I share a very regular-size closet – the kind you’d find in most children’s bedrooms with two sliding doors and not a walk-in. There isn’t a lot of room).
I’ve also whittled my closet down more since my initial clean out. Of the 4 sweaters I kept, for instance, I realized I only really wear and LIKE 1 (one!) of them. When your closet isn’t bursting at the seams, it’s easy to see what never comes off the hanger or shelf.
It also felt like permission to just wear my favorite things over and over again. My beloved black Lou & Gray sweatshirt? I wear guilt free once or twice a week. My favorite shoes are on repeat. Many of the questions about boredom seemed to assume that a small closet meant you didn’t care about clothes, but I actually love clothes and getting to wear the ones I REALLY love feels like freedom, rather than confining.
As far as making everything mix and match, I didn’t worry too much about that.
I generally buy clothing in the same color palettes (it’s also the same color palette I use in my house – I like what I like!) and so most of my clothing is blue, black, white, and pink or red. Most of it naturally mixes together pretty well, but I don’t feel like I need to be able to make 6 different outfits with one shirt.
But it is fun when you can easily see all your clothes and know what is there to change combinations up and I’ve been surprised and delighted how many new outfits I could put together without almost any brain power.
With spring just around the corner, I’m getting ready to rotate out about half of my current capsule wardrobe and work in the lighter pieces I packed away in January.
Also, because I was not getting rid of TONS of things, it made me feel less stressed about putting things away. I knew that, if I suddenly realized I deeply missed an item, I could go grab it from the bins in Tally’s closet. In the last two months, there’s actually only been one item – a dress – that I went and got from those bins, so when I rotate in some more spring things, I anticipate that I’ll sell or donate most of the things that went in that bin.
I anticipate it’ll stay about half the same and half new as I transition into my spring capsule wardrobe.
Doing a capsule wardrobe also helped me identify where the holes in my wardrobe where – what outfits did I not have a good pair of shoes for? Was I missing a top to wear with that skirt?
I ordered a pair of blush flats (you can see them in the photo at the top of this post) for my spring wardrobe and a new pair of white jeans that DON’t have ripped knees.
I also think that lots of us wildly overestimate how many clothes we need. In reality, if you’re doing laundry once a week, you only need about 7 complete outfits (which is, at most, 21 items of clothing and much less if you’re wearing one-piece items like dresses or jumpsuits). Obviously, I have quite a lot than that, which means that I’m not wearing the same exact outfit more than every few of weeks unless I choose to.
If you’ve been considering trying out a capsule wardrobe but felt intimidated, here’s my suggestion: just start with what you have.
You don’t have to have a perfectly planned set of clothing for every occasion.
Take everything out of your closet that you don’t wear or don’t like or doesn’t fit the current season or your current weight or your current lifestyle, and see what you have. Start wearing those things and see what you need (my under-buyer tendencies are SERIOUSLY showing here).
There aren’t really any rules and no capsule wardrobe police to come arrest you if you have items that only match with one thing or if you have a few more or a few less items than you see other capsule wardrobes have.
If you have other questions about a capsule wardrobe, I’m happy to lend my truly unprofessional opinion and, if you’re curious, I’ll show you what I ended up with in my spring capsule wardrobe!
If you liked this post about a capsule wardrobe, you might like these posts:
- My best tricks for shopping thredUP
- Five reasons I’m not a fashion blogger
- Do you know about the Madewell Birthday Gift?
Photos by Heather Mildenstein