Thursday, September 25

Why A Capsule Wardrobe

When I started working on my Capsule Wardrobe, I decided to post about it on Facebook.  I figured, if I put it out there, I would HAVE to follow through with it.  Overwhelmingly, I got one or more of the following reactions:
  1. What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
  2. Why Would You Do That?
  3. I Could Never Do That!
All very valid questions and concerns!  I am going to use this post to explain why I chose to try a Capsule Wardrobe.

Number 1 - What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
This is the one I got the most.  I will point you to Unfancy, where all of my information comes from. In short, it is defining your wardrobe for each season (something I remember doing as a kid, but thought was silly and decided not to do as an adult, much like making my bed every day) and finding those pieces that you truly love and match your personal style.

Number 2 - Why Would You Do That?
I have a lot of reasons for trying a capsule wardrobe.

I was a HUGE fan of What Not to Wear.  I day dreamed about being on that show, having personal stylist show me what to wear, and starting all over.  I was never going to be on the show (my style wasn't that bad), but I also won't ever have $5,000 to start over with my clothes.  A lot of what appealed me as I watched people on the show was just how cohesive their style was and how few pieces they ended up with. I think that's a lot of what appeals to me about the Capsule Wardrobe.  I get to have a few pieces that really work.

There is a limit to when I can shop.  I am a shop-a-holic. I LOVE to shop for shoes, clothes, and accessories, but I also have a side of me that knows that I don't really need to shop.  I like the idea of having a defined period when I can shop and that I need to plan what to shop for so it fits in the next Capsule.

I really suffered from "I have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear" syndrome.  I really did have too much stuff to find the stuff that I loved.  Let me show you my closet.  I have the entire left side, the drawers and bins in the middle and dress space on the right. (I do share this closet with my husband, so some of this is his.)  I also had two bins hiding in another closet and more stuff stashed in places you can't see.


The real transformation is hard to see in these photos.  I still have the bins, but I only have one drawer that is about 3/4 full of Capsule clothes.  I used to have 2 stuffed full. I took out one of the shelves on the left to make room for boots and because I didn't need it since I am down to a few pairs of shoes.  Honestly, it feels empty, but it is good empty.  I can see it all. 

Seeing all my clothes was doing me no good. This is my own issue, but I had a lot of stuff hanging in my closet that I was keeping to wear "someday".  You know, that someday when I am a size 10, 12, or 14 again.  It was really depressing me that because I am older and my body has changed that it is taking so. darn. long. to lose the weight.  Hiding those clothes helps me focus on my real goal - to be a happy, healthy person.

I get to invest in quality clothes.  One of the goals of the Capsule Wardrobe is to really define your personal style and find those pieces you love.  This is huge for me because when I do find something I love, I am willing to spend more on it.  I do it with shoes all the time, but I have had a harder time with clothes. I will still be cheap about "trendy" pieces that I add to each Capsule, but if the same piece shows up in Capsule after Capsule, I will be sure to invest in a quality version of it.

I like having less stuff.  As life gets more complicated with kids and work and just life, I find myself craving simplicity in all the aspects of my life.  Clothing is just one part, but it was a simplification I was avoiding for a long time.

Number 3 - I Could Never Do That!
I think I heard this one the most.  If I wasn't already in a "simplify" frame of mind, I would have had the same reaction.  It did take me some time to fully buy into the Capsule Wardrobe. (And I may have tried it on the kids first...)  I didn't just read about it and dive right in.  It took me two months to fully commit.

Phase 1 - "I think I can do this, but..." This is the phase where I started to work through the details, with a lot of hemming and hawing.  I read up on the Capsule Wardrobe idea more.  I saw that some people have larger numbers of items, some have smaller.  Most don't count athletic gear or lounge wear that doesn't leave the house. It started to become clear that I could make my own rules and adjust as I needed.  At the end of this phase I thought that if I didn't include shoes, lounge wear, athletic clothes, and field work clothes in my Capsule Wardrobe, I could do 36 items or less! 

Phase 2 - "Let's do this!"  This is the phase where I sat down and filled out my Capsule Wardrobe Planner.  I highly recommend this step.  Again, I have to thank Unfancy for the template I used.  It really helped me define what I was looking for and what my actual clothing needs are.  This is also the point where I made a draft list of what number of each item I thought I would need.  As I made this list, I began to realize that I really did need to include shoes.  (Who needs to have blue with pink polka dot heels when they don't match any of the clothes in your current capsule?)  I upped my item count to 40, but told myself I could go higher if I just couldn't do without shoes.  It also became clear that I had a few "special" items that I didn't want to include.  These are things like:
  •  my Halloween T-shirts that I may wear, but will be put away immediately after October 31st 
  • my Seattle Sounders T-shirt, which will be put away after the game this Saturday (and pulled out again if I manage to go to another game before the season is over)
  • the dress and shoes for my friend's wedding celebration
I also used this phase to think about anything that might be missing from my capsule and would require shopping.  I knew that I needed a work blouse for dressier days, but didn't like the menswear style one I had hanging in my closet.  I also knew that I needed a top or two to go with my skinny jeans to make them a larger part of my Capsule.  I shopped for these items, but kept the tags on until my final Capsule Wardrobe was set.

Phase 3 - "Lay it all out there"  I mean this literally.  After my initial purging, I took EVERYTHING out of my closet and my bins and laid it on my bed.  I sorted it into three piles - "love it, but not for this capsule", give away, and under consideration. All the love it items went into bins and the give away went into bags.  After that, I really looked at what I had and made some decisions.  Did I really think I would wear a jean skirt with no leggings in the fall/winter?  Would I wear it to work or for play? I had some really tough choices, but I was comforted knowing that in 3 months I could take these items out of their bins and wear them again.  This is also where the planner really came in handy.  For example, I had 4 sweatshirts under consideration; I "budgeted" for 2. I was able to put 2 away because the colors were not in the color scheme I identified in my Capsule Wardrobe Planner.

Phase 4 - "The Wardrobe and Rules" I ended up with 40 pieces of clothing and shoes for my Fall 2014 Capsule. This includes work and weekend clothes plus date night/girls night out clothes.  What it doesn't include are:
  • Accessories
  • Specialty, one-off items (Halloween and Sounders shirts, special occasion dress)
  • Clothes required for field work for the job
  • Athletic wear and shoes
  • Pajamas and lounging clothes, but these can not be worn outside of the house (I mean that, yoga pants!)
  • Undergarments, including tights, but not leggings or layering camisoles/tank tops
  • Rain boots
So, yes, you can do it.  It is a very flexible concept.  Don't think you can go 3 months?  Do it in 2 month increments.  Don't think you can stick to 37 items?  Adjust your number or what is included in your item count. (Notice I didn't include any scarves or hats?  I consider those accessories.)  Don't want to part with your clothes? Then box them up and store them until the next capsule.

1 comment:

Anandi Raman Creath said...

What a great post!!! I can totally identify with a lot of this.

I now have only one box of "someday" clothes and I finally got rid of the 10+ year old size 8 hoochie mama clothes I bought when I was skinny for a hot minute in my 20s ;D

I'm also surprised I like leggings and narrower pants as well, though also with the right tops :D

My biggest challenge is not wearing the lounge stuff out. I am making an exception for school pickup/dropoff since that may be the only time I go out all day, but I am SO used to wearing yoga pants and sweats everywhere, it's hard to retrain myself.