Perhaps you are familiar with the term capsule wardrobe; maybe you’ve never heard of it. I myself was unaware of this amazing concept until just this year. I stumbled upon a few articles as I was reading up on organization. I was looking for inspiration for a huge spring cleaning purge. I got rid of tons of stuff while I was spring cleaning. I was rather ruthless in deciding what got to stay in my house, and what had to go. I took the same approach when cleaning out my closet. I came across the idea of a capsule wardrobe when I was trying to find some articles that would help me decide what clothes to hang on to and which to sell or donate. So what exactly is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a cohesive collection of pieces for a given season that does not exceed a predetermined number. Usually the number is around 30. Some say this number includes footwear, others say it doesn’t. The idea is to cut down on the sheer amount of clothes, make it easier to get dressed, save money and reduce stress, and easier define your personal style. There are a few rules to follow when it comes to creating and maintaining a capsule wardrobe. These aren’t hard and fast rules; you can tweak them to fit you and your lifestyle!
Rule 1: Determine and maintain the number of pieces in your wardrobe.
A beginning benchmark for many capsules is 30 pieces, and it’s the number I’m starting with. This number does not include pajama/lounge clothes, workout clothes, or undergarments. The first time you go through your clothes to trim that number down to 30 may be difficult, but it opened my eyes to how many clothes I really had, how little I wore most of them, and how unnecessary it was. Once you reach your 30 pieces, you maintain that number by getting rid of a piece of clothing if you purchase something new. (30 pieces refers to your wardrobe for one season.)
Rule 2: The one-third rule.
Quantity and quality are the two key concepts behind a capsule wardrobe. The first rule covered reducing the quantity. We are reducing our clothing clutter. But the other important concept is quality. You will be wearing these clothes often. They are going to need to hold up through washes and still look great. Not to mention, you get what you pay for. Who doesn’t love wearing good-quality clothing made with solid, dependable craftsmanship and great fabric? That’s where the one-third rule comes in. When shopping, you purchase one-third as many pieces as before, but spend three times as much on each piece. If you are looking to trim your budget because this experience has shown you you spend way to much on clothes, that’s OK too! Try to look for deals at higher-end stores, and don’t be afraid to check out some thrift stores. Some stores are pretty selective about selling only name-brand clothing. You could score some great designer stuff for a fraction of the retail price.
Rule 3: Buy only what you LOVE.
This rule follows closely on the heels of the previous. You only purchase something if you ABSOLUTELY love it. You must try stuff on, and it has to give that feeling. Girls, you know what I’m talking about. When a piece of clothing fits you like a dream, compliments your hair/complexion, aligns with your personal style, and makes you feel like a million dollars. Those clothes give you confidence, which is priceless. Chances are, you’ve got some clothes like that in your closet. And I’d dare to bet you choose to wear them more than clothes you just like. Clothes you just like, or bought for other reasons are mostly likely going to camp out in the back of your closet until you feel like doing a closet purge. Then you will pull them out, look wistfully at the price tag still crisp and white, and wonder why you didn’t just keep that money in your bank account. I’ve done this more times than I’d like to count.
A few other concepts about capsule wardrobes:
Everything goes together.
Everything can be mixed and matched and worn together. You may have a limited number of items, but they can be combined to make countless looks. You can create the perfect outfit for any occasion. This means you have to be selective when shopping; if you can’t wear it with anything you already have, it’s probably better left in the store. Each piece should be versatile and able to be worn with several other pieces in your wardrobe.
Hair and make-up, shoes, and accessories are easy ways to switch it up.
Worried you’ll be bored? Aside from the fact that you’ll be able to mix and match, changing your hair and make-up is a quick way to change an outfit’s vibe. Same goes for accessories; necklaces and bracelets are the fastest way to add a different context to your outfit. You can score accessories pretty cheaply, too. Changing your shoes may be a bit more expensive, but it’s still a great way to update a go-to outfit that’s maybe been a staple in your closet for a year or two.
Why would you want a capsule wardrobe?
You might be wondering what the merit in this idea is. After all, buying clothes is fun, and how many clothes someone has can even be a status thing to some people. There are several reasons that stand out in my mind that validate the idea of a capsule wardrobe.
1. You will save time and emotion.
How many times have you opened your closet and sat there dejectedly thinking you have nothing to wear despite the fact that your closet is packed? You probably proceed to waste thirty minutes trying on ten different outfits. You decide on one that doesn’t make you feel that great, but it’s time to go and you leave your room looking like you are against the idea of laundry. A capsule wardrobe is supposed to eliminate that stress. It saves time because everything in your closet is cohesive and goes together; throwing together an outfit is easy and stress-free. It saves you from feeling like you have nothing to wear or that you don’t look great because you love every piece in your closet. It greatly simplifies the process of getting ready.
2. It’s easier for travel.
Travel is a big dream of mine, so a capsule wardrobe makes a lot of sense to me. In order to get the most out of your time, you want to reduce the overall amount of stuff you bring, and cut down on the time it takes to get ready. If you are going on a trip, you can pack a handful of items and have several outfits for all occasions. You can bring a smaller bag, and have more room to breathe in the car. You may be able to travel with just a carry on and save money when you travel by air.
3. It’s easier on your budget.
Sometimes our reasons for purchasing clothes aren’t good ones. Sometimes we buy clothes to deal with emotional turmoil; shopping is used as a stress reliever. It’s fun to buy new clothes. Sometimes we buy clothes literally just because they are cheap. It’s a good deal, so we feel like we are missing out if we don’t purchase it. When I was purging my closet to get down to the number of items I was going to keep to start my capsule wardrobe, I came across three pairs of flip flops. They were a simple rubbery flip flop that had a sparkly glitter on the straps. They were on clearance at the end of the season for a ridiculous price; it was like two dollars. So I bought three vibrant pairs; they were so cheap! I had absolutely no real reason to buy three pairs, or even one. I have a few shelves on a small bookshelf that I allotted for shoes; rather than a number I opted to simply dedicated an amount of space to my shoes. I realized what a stupid purchase those cheap flip flops were when I arranged all three pairs on my precious shelf space. See where I’m going with this?
4. You become more selective about the clothing you allow yourself to buy and wear.
Those flip flops were a poor choice. I bought them on a whim because they were cheap and they sparkled brightly on their clearance rack. They weren’t practical, they didn’t represent me, and they cluttered my closet. Regardless of whether you like it or not, what you wear says a lot about you. You have the power to choose your personal style and project your image however you would like. I am now much more selective about the clothes that make it out of the store and into my closet and my life. I try to recognize the reason I want to buy something; is it because it is a good quality piece of clothing that represents me well, or am I trying to compensate for an insecurity or buy it just because the colors pop on the mannequin? I feel more confident in who I am if I know that my clothes align with and project the person I strive to be. Aside from the deep touchy-feely stuff, you become more selective from a price standpoint. That cardigan is cute and would work with my wardrobe scheme, but I know it would lose it’s shape and color after one wash and fall apart after five. And therein lies to mantra of capsule wardrobes: buy less, buy smarter.
I am really excited to transform my wardrobe from a scattered mess into a cohesive collection. As soon as I started reading about capsule wardrobes, I knew it was something I wanted to try. The reasons behind it make sense to me. I purged my closet and made some cash, and I don’t miss a single thing I got rid of. I’m loving this journey of transformative thinking when it comes to my shopping habits and personal style.