Minimalism

5 Lessons I Learned from my Capsule Wardrobe

When picking your capsule wardrobe aim for comfortable, versatile pieces that you love and you'll never feel the need to go back to a packed closet again

For some time now I have been attempting to adopt a more streamlined, thoughtful and less excessive wardrobe. This June I decided to make it official and adopt a 30 items capsule wardrobe for the June to August winter months. I didn’t want to make it too onerous so I limited the 30 items to clothing, and excluded, jewellery/accessories, underwear, gym and lounge-wear.  

We’re four days into spring and after three months of living my capsule wardrobe I thought I’d reflect on the process of choosing my capsule and what I learned and do a Winter Capsule Wardrobe update!

Here was my breakdown of my Winter Capsule Wardrobe:

Shirts – 9

Long sleeved shirts – 6

Coats, Jackets – 3

Jumpers/Cardis – 2

Pants – 5

Skirts – 1

Scarves – 1

Shoes – 3

Total clothing pieces 30  

WHAT I LEARNT FROM MY CAPSULE WARDROBE

Here are my main take aways from adopting a capsule wardrobe this past season:

1. You need less clothing than you think you do
I’ve previously tried to limit my clothes to a reasonable number but never gone through the process of setting a limit. I was surprised after three months that I managed to stick to a 30 item wardrobe and had 4 items still left untouched over that time (see the backwards hanger method for how I monitored this).

In three months using a capsule wardrobe, I managed to wear only 26 items of the 30. I was really amazed that I didn’t need a huge number of clothing. I never felt like I was too restricted and was wearing the same clothes over and over again. If anything, I felt like I had more variety than ever as I knew everything I had hung up in my wardrobe was wearable, comfortable and that I loved it. The fact that I could easily see everything in my wardrobe and grab it with ease was a bonus! 

2. Think ahead and be selective about what you pick for the season

A couple of weeks into my winter capsule wardrobe I realised I had a few too many cooler shirts in my capsule that just weren’t cutting it in the warmth department. Particularly as my 30 items had to be suitable for working in an office (which is freezing most days, am I right ladies?). So I decided, in order to ensure the success of my capsule wardrobe and my survival of winter (…okay that was a slight exaggeration) to swap in some warmer long-length shirts whilst removing some of the short sleeved tops during the first couple of weeks. I ensured I still stuck to the 30 piece goal I had set myself.

Towards the end of the period I had some more formal events including a bridal shower and wedding which I hadn’t really accounted for in my winter capsule wardrobe as I don’t normally like to wear dresses in winter, so had to expand my wardrobe to include something a bit dressier for those two occasions.

I’d managed to get through 10 weeks with my regular capsule, but realised in the last two that I hadn’t catered for any more formal events in my capsule.

Try and think ahead about what clothing you will need for the three month period. Do you spend your time in an office, or do you work from home? Do you do yoga every day and live in yoga pants or are you in court for work and need something more dressy. Do you go clubbing most weekends or spend them mostly indoors or in the garden. Try and map out what clothing suits your needs and allocate a percentage of the type of clothing you need for different activities in the week. It could be 60% work, 20% loungewear, 10% gym wear, 10% dressier occasions. Pick your outfit ratios according to the relevant percentages for your lifestyle.  

Bonus tip: Note down what you had in your seasons capsule so if you mix and match pieces across the seasons you will know what to grab when that season rolls around again.

3. Having a capsule wardrobe saves you time and stress

Each morning I knew in seconds what I would wear to work or out for dinner that night. Having less clothes in rotation and selecting easy to maintain clothes meant I didn’t have to waste more time than necessary on washing, folding or ironing them.  

A capsule wardrobe also has other time and stress benefits. I wore a dress I have worn a few times to a wedding last week and got many compliments on it. Barely anyone at that wedding had ever seen me in that dress so it would have been silly to feel self-conscious to re-wear it. Had I been afraid to wear a dress more than once I would have had to not only spend unnecessary money on a new one, but would have had additional time and stress trying to find the perfect dress for the wedding.

4. Having a capsule wardrobe helps you to reduce clothing expenditure
Thanks to my capsule wardrobe I felt less of a desire to go clothes shopping as I knew that for the current season I had everything I needed. Every time I thought of buying something new I had to think would I be willing to get rid of something in my capsule for this new item? Pretty much every time the answer was no. I knew I had something I liked more that had been tried, tested and paid for already at home.

The capsule wardrobe also helped me to avoid the shops unless I had something specific in mind that I needed. As I knew that I could only have 30 items in my capsule wardrobe I made sure that any purchases were quality items that I loved, and felt comfortable in and would get a lot of wear out of them. Check out what I did buy below.

5. Your capsule wardrobe doesn’t have to be perfect

From this experiment I realised that there was no perfect capsule wardrobe. Through all my efforts of selecting versatile pieces that were comfortable and that I loved, there were still instances where I had to make changes some slight changes. There are no awards for perfection, keep your capsule expectations realistic. 

Whether you have a capsule wardrobe of 30 items or 40 the key is selecting the right number and pieces to suit your lifestyle and needs. At the end of the day any capsule wardrobe is a huge step on the path to more intentional life and will help you reduce the excess in your life. The benefit of this being less stress, less decision making, less spending in your clothing budget or a reduction in your need to shop unintentionally.

 

If you would like to know more about Minimalism and it’s benefits check out 13 Benefits or a Smaller Home and How  I Discovered Financial Stability Through Minimalism.

WHAT DID I BUY?

One of my goals of having a capsule wardrobe was to reduce my desire to buy more clothes to be content with what I had. I am pleased to say that I achieved this for the most part. Over the past three months I did make a few clothing purchases that I felt were necessary. Although I didn’t avoid buying clothes all together over this period, I was pleased that my clothes shopping became much more intentional and thoughtful. I only replaced or purchased things that I specifically needed and could get a lot of use out of. 

Here is a list of what I bought:

  • 2 Jackets
  • 3 Thermal singlets
  • 2 Thermal long sleeved tops
  • 2 Thermal leggings
  • 2 Pairs of thermal socks
  • 2 Long sleeved shirts
  • 1 Scarf

My criteria for these purchases were:

  • Do I need it?
  • Can I afford it?
  • Are they good quality?
  • Do they feel comfortable to wear?
  • Can I get a lot of use out of them?
  • Are there online reviews that recommend this particular item?

I made sure I tried everything on first to check for comfort and fit (except the socks of course :p). My shopping policy is – if I am too lazy to try it on I can’t buy it policy – which also helps me avoid any impulse decisions and saves me having to return anything I buy that doesn’t fit. I try to, where possible, read reviews online, and reviewed travel blogs about what to wear in particular climates and locations as all of the items purchased I would be able to wear during my upcoming Europe trip. A lot of what I bought was on sale and all were quality items.

Most of these items purchased were external to my capsule. I felt that my 30 item capsule other than a few minor additions was more than enough for my needs which helped me to resist making impulse clothing purchases. I look forward to continuing on with my capsule wardrobe and monitoring my clothing purchases over the next few seasons and see how my clothing purchases will be impacted in the long term!   

If you would like to start your own capsule wardrobe check out How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe: A Beginners Guide for tips on how to pick and check out my Pinterest board for Capsule Wardrobes for inspiration.

Do you have a capsule wardrobe? Would love to hear what you have learnt from your experience with having a capsule wardrobe and how many items you feel is ideal in yours. Leave your experience in the comments below 🙂

 

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