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Capsule Wardrobe

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 🙂

 

Minimalism

How to Build A Capsule Wardrobe: A Guide For Beginners

Building a capsule wardrobe can be a great way to limit stress in your life. By picking a well-curated selection of 30 items of clothing in your capsule that you love, you can ensure you look stylish, and feel great each day with minimal effort!

A few years back at the beginning of my Minimalism discovery I came across the term Capsule Wardrobe. I’ve never been what you would consider a fashionista. My wardrobe normally consisted of jeans and a hoodie and band shirt. My friend and I used to laugh with our thrifty-ness of making old clothes last beyond their years through any means possible. If there was a way to be fashionable, and coordinate an outfit without much thought going into it, this was going to be a game changer for me.

Over the years I’ve done a lot of research on the subject, okay… a lot of Pinning more specifically. Whenever I talk wardrobes with people and mention the concept of a capsule wardrobe I’m often surprised to hear that most people have never heard of the idea. Which is a something I am hoping to change. Read on for how to create your own capsule wardrobe!

THE BENEFITS OF A CAPSULE WARDROBE

Before we start our capsule wardrobe we must understand the benefits. Here are the benefits I have personally found:

  1. Having  a capsule wardrobe means it is less stressful to get ready. It is one less time consuming decision to make during your day so you can focus on more important or enjoyable things like spending time having your morning coffee.
  2. Having all your clothes in one area makes it easier to mix and match your outfits. A well curated capsule wardrobe means that your outfits easily work together and items that suit your lifestyle which in turn leaves your feeling more confident.
  3. It saves you time on your laundry. If you have a capsule of 30 items, you will probably only have one load of washing per person per week. This avoids the dreaded mountain of unwashed clothing that comes with your average wardrobe!
  4. You can feel comfort knowing that everything in your capsule has been hand picked by you and are items that you love. No more walking out the door only to realise the pants you grabbed don’t fit anymore or are uncomfortable.
  5. It will save you money. When you have 30 or so items that you love you feel less of a need to continually hit the shops trying to find the perfect outfit when you have a perfectly amazing wardrobe at home!
  6. It is better for the environment. Fast fashion has created 6000kg of clothing and textile waste every ten minutes in Australia. By choosing to adopt a capsule wardrobe you are helping to reduce the clothing ending up in landfill by only buying quality, loved clothing pieces and being more mindful of what you buy.
  7. Despite what you may think having a capsule wardrobe is less boring and more creative as each day you get to create a new outfit mix, rather than picking the same old items in your overflowing wardrobe.

Now that we understand the amazing benefits of adopting a capsule wardrobe we can get started!

WHERE DO I START?

Before you make a start on your capsule wardrobe you are going to need to identify what you want in it. This involves going through your current wardrobe and decluttering and only keeping what you love or in Kon Mari’s words what “sparks joy”. These steps will help you get your decluttering started:

  1. Prepare your working area. Make the bed as a clothing work space, grab a few boxes, containers – whatever you have and label them with the following 4 signs; Keep, Toss, Donate, Mend.
  2. Take all your clothing, all of it, and lay them out on the bed. Grab anything in your washing baskets so you can ensure you haven’t missed anything. If you are someone that only has small pockets of time to declutter you can do this by category such as shoes, shirts, dresses and so on until you have gone through each category. This will make the process slower but is better than not doing it at all.
  3. Next pick out the items that you love and wear on a regular basis from your pile. Put the “love” items into the container marked keep. It is often easier to choose what we love than what we don’t so is helpful to start with the ones you know you wear and love first.
  4. Go through your pile and put anything you don’t like, or don’t wear anymore in to two separate piles. One to be donated, any items that are still wearable. One to Toss, for anything else that is not in good condition. If you have the time and energy, you can also put some of the more pricey donate items into a pile to be sold to add some extra cash into your budget.
  5. If there is anything that you love, but that needs repairing put this into a separate ‘mend pile’ and action these in the next week or so. If they need a new button sew it on, if you need to take it to the professionals put them in your car to take to your alteration store.
  6. Continue to work through your pile until you have sorted all items.

If you are left with anything you are unsure about, I call these the “Maybe”pile you can do the following:

  1. If you are not yet ready to part with items in this pile you can place the items in a container to be stored out of your closet for a short period of time. I recommend no more than three months.
  2. Set a reminder on your phone to review the container once the time limit is up. If you find you do want to use something you’ve stored away, you can go and ‘save’ it.
  3. After three months donate the items in the container. Generally after three months you will realise that you don’t miss the items you stored anymore and don’t need them and be willing to let it go.

>> Check out  9 Decluttering Methods For Your Home for extra tips on methods you can use to declutter your wardrobe and home.

After this process you will now be ready to curate a capsule wardrobe from your newly minimised wardrobe.

 

Mix and match your favourite colours in your capsule wardrobe. Picking 3-4 colours can make styling different outfits much easier.
Photo: Priscilla Du Preez

 

CLOTHING TO SUIT YOUR LIFESTYLE

It is important to be honest with yourself and what you wear day to day. Are you really going to wear that old bridesmaid dress again? Do you own 5 pairs of short shorts but never wear them? Do you have clothing that needs ironing which you haven’t ironed in six months? This wardrobe is designed for your lifestyle now.

Pick what you love to wear now, what you feel comfortable in and what suits your lifestyle. If you work in an office that might mean more button up blouses, if you are a yoga instructor you might only own one button up blouse and 10 gym outfits. Curate the capsule wardrobe for your present needs.

To make your capsule flow day to day, try and pick a colour theme. Basing your wardrobe around three to four colours is ideal. For example, if your wardrobe is made up of black, white, grey and blue you can mix and match these colours effortlessly. Of course feel free to pick whatever colours you love, it’s your capsule 🙂

CAPSULE WARDROBE RESOURCES

Check out Fashion Youtubers such as Lindsay Albanese for tips on How to Flatter Your Body Issues With Clothes to help you pick the right clothing choices for your capsule or watch Jennifer L. Scott’s Ten Item Wardrobe TEDx Talk for tips on where to start with picking the core items for your capsule wardrobe.

My favourite Capsule Wardrobe blogger Courtney Carver’s Project 333 is a great starting point for your capsule wardrobe. Courtney started blogging about her wardrobe of 33 pieces including accessories and shoes in 2010, in which she picks a capsule wardrobe of 33 items including clothes, shoes and accessories for 3 months and changes them out each new season.

 

Take the Minimise With Me 21+9 Capsule Wardrobe Challenge!

 

MWM 21+9 CAPSULE WARDROBE CHALLENGE

After researching into different capsule wardrobe options, I decided to come up with my own capsule wardrobe challenge. After considering my wardrobe needs I came up with the following:

Two capsule wardrobes that can blend together to fit different areas of your life:

– a 21 item wardrobe for your non-work, everyday life and

– a 9 item wardrobe for work

I don’t wear my work pants or all of my work tops on the weekends, but I do mix and match things like my scarf, some of my tops and coats/jackets so I came up with having a capsule for work and non-work occasions that is still inter-changeable so I can wear pieces for both work and outings but not have my main wardrobe taken up by pieces I only wear to work.

What is excluded: In my capsule wardrobe I exclude pajamas, gym clothes, lounge-wear, swimmers, underwear, singlets or thermals, and accessories.

I feel that buy the time you add in a couple of necklaces, a belt, sunnies, a scarf, a watch and bracelet to your capsule, a lot of your capsule wardrobe limit is taken up so I wanted to be free to mix and match accessories and not focus too much on those limitations within my capsule. By all means don’t go crazy buying 10 belts and 15 pairs of earrings for yours but allows some variety!

The goal is to limit your decision making and stress! My necklace collection is probably larger than others, but as I do wear what I have, I wanted to ensure my capsule didn’t restrict the freedom for me to do that.

What is included: Include all other clothes – pants, tops, dresses, shorts, skirts and so on as well as your shoes.

BUILDING YOUR CAPSULE WARDROBE

Grab a pen and paper and create a list for your capsule wardrobe. Start with the numbers 1-21 on a piece of paper for your every day wear and 1-9 for your work wardrobe. Create a blend of items from your new wardrobe of ‘loved’ pieces. Pick ones that are suitable for the season you are going to be in for the next three months. An example of my current winter capsule wardrobe is:

Everyday Capsule (21 items)

Shirts – 10
Coat/Jacket/Jumpers – 4
Pants – 3
Skirts/Shorts – 1
Shoes – 2
Scarf – 1

Work Capsule (9 items)

Work pants/skirts – 2
Work shirts – 5
Long cardi – 1
Shoes – 1

Once you have your 30 items hang them up in your wardrobe and box up the remaining items to be reviewed next season. Don’t go and fill your wardrobe with new clothes now that you have more space unless you are missing key pieces or want to swap out items in your capsule.

WHAT IF 30 ITEMS IS JUST TOO LIMITED FOR MY LIFESTYLE

If you find 30 items too difficult to get to, aim for close to that. Go up to 35 or 40 items and see if that can work for you. You might find you don’t need the extra items after all or even if you do, you’ve at least come a long way from where you were previously with a bulging wardrobe.

REVIEWING YOUR CAPSULE WARDROBE

In order to check what you have and haven’t worn without much thought, use the Backwards Hanger Method. Turn all your coat hangers backwards when you start your capsule wardrobe and put worn items back the regular way when they are washed. At the end of the month you will easily be able to see what you did and did not wear. This will help you to make decisions on what to keep in your capsule for the next season and what to donate.

At the end of the three months, check what you did and didn’t wear and alter your wardrobe accordingly.

KEEPING YOUR WARDROBE MINIMISED

A good rule of thumb to avoid getting carried away and refilling your newly minimised wardrobe is to implement a one, one out rule. This rule requires you to donate one item for every item of clothing you bring into your home. It will help you resist the urge to buy something unnecessary when you have to think about what  you are willing to get rid of in place of it.

For more ideas on building your capsule wardrobe check out my Minimise With Me Building a Capsule Wardrobe board on Pinterest for some inspiration. 🙂

Do you have a capsule wardrobe? Let me know how many items you find works for you in the comments 🙂