I'd heard about the capsule wardrobe idea years ago but I never thought it would work for me, especially with my bold and colorful style. All the examples I'd seen showed super minimal wardrobes (think all solid colors with only a few prints – in a handful of neutral colors). My eclectic style, with bold patterns and wild colors....well, it never seemed to fit the capsule wardrobe "mold."
I decided to try it this weekend after a long, frustrating week of wardrobe anxiety. Typically, I try to do a few social things a week but not too many because I get overwhelmed. Last week, I had several events (a concert, art class, meeting an out-of-town friend for drinks, date night) and every damn time, I felt like I had nothing to wear. Since I spend most of my day in sweats (I work from home), getting dressed has turned into somewhat of a big deal, which translates to anxiety if I can't achieve the exact look I'm going for.
Lately, I've also struggled with an internal identity crisis. The truth is, I love fashion and I LOVE putting together outfits but since I work at home, this skill isn't utilized often. Instead of wasting my cool clothes for a day of working at home, I live in sweats during the week and then put pressure on myself to wear all my funky stuff on the weekend or when I have plans.
Another issue that I've noticed more recently is my tendency to buy pieces just for the sake of being wild. Half the time, the things I buy are crazy, yes, but not practical for daily wear or just plain uncomfortable. Even though I feel accomplished after I put together a wild outfit, sometimes I leave the house feeling insecure – like I'm drawing unnecessary attention to myself. In the moment, these purchases feel authentic but they don't often remain that way. I knew I had to buckle down and figure something out – the anxiety I felt when I opened my closet doors was getting to be too much.
While traveling in Europe a few months ago, I thoroughly enjoyed getting ready each day. I had a limited selection of curated pieces that went well together. I knew where I had holes and filled those holes appropriately (ie: purchasing a warm jacket in Belgium since I hadn't brought one). If I got so much pleasure out of curating a wardrobe for a two week trip, how could a capsule wardrobe be any different?
I found some resources online, specifically from the blog Un-Fancy.com. In her post, Caroline talks about her approach to the capsule wardrobe and how it's changed for her over time. She even provided a handy set of worksheets, which I am grateful for. I do have a type A personality and like to know I'm doing something correctly so having these resources was hugely helpful! (link below if you'd like to try this for yourself!)
A couple key words emerged:
– Oversized / loose
– Bold / colorful
– Easy to wear / throw on / not think about
Another exercise asked you to divide up your life into chunks using a nifty pie chart. I'd never done this before and the results were pretty illuminating, at least for me. Here's mine:
I got honest with myself and filled in the pie truthfully – lo and behold, I spend half of my time at home, by myself, working. Which is totally fine but does not necessitate the amount of cute dresses I own, nor the amount of "difficult" tops that I keep stocked (a difficult top is something that's a pain to wear, usually strapless or something that needs constant adjusting to stay just right).
Armed with this new, shiny knowledge, I got to work on the tough part ~ THE EDIT.
I emptied every piece of clothing I own + shoes onto my bedroom floor. It's worth noting that the capsule does not include pajamas, underwear, lingerie, gym clothes, socks or crappy painting clothes, so these stayed in the dresser. Everything else...it came out, even my collection of winter coats.
The Edit consists of dividing your Pile into 4 groups: LOVE, Maybe, Never Wear, and Seasonal. LOVE pieces will stay with you, Maybe pieces get evaluated at the end, Seasonal pieces get put away for awhile and Never Wear get sold/donated. For Maybe pieces that you're really not sure about, you're encouraged to pack them up for a few months and see if you miss them / wear them / think about them. If not, you know what to do.
I started going through the pile and got overwhelmed within twenty minutes. Thoughts flooded my perfectionist brain.
"Who am I?"
"How do I want to be perceived?"
"How do I separate Ponnopozz from Adrianne?"
"...are they even separable?"
Seth talked me through this moment of anxiety and I felt better. After a brief intermission (aka a visit to my sister's place) I came home refreshed and ready to continue. I sifted through the Pile and was brutally honest. Things that never fit right and things that I bought just for the sake of being different – those went into the donate pile.
Because of this exercise, I learned that I truly value easy, comfortable clothing – so much that I likely won't wear a piece that isn't one of those things. I had this idea in my head that easy clothing = boring but it totally doesn't have to be. It IS possible to have funky, bold, colorful clothing that is super easy to wear. One of my favorite brands (Nooworks) accomplishes this and hence, nearly every piece I own of theirs went into my LOVE pile.
I also learned that I don't have enough basics. I had so many wild, colorful, patterned pieces that I only wore when I went out and they usually were worn on their own (no layers). Acquiring some basics seems like a good idea, so I added a few things to my shopping list.
A note on shopping: the rules state (and yes, I'm mostly following the rules this time around) that you can only shop for new things during the first two weeks of your capsule. You should plan these purchases in advance with a shopping list and set budget based on the holes you see in your wardrobe. You're highly encouraged to use what you already have, if possible. After the two week shopping window, you shouldn't buy any more clothing for three months. I'm really excited about that part because I really need to stop shopping for clothes I don't need!
After nearly a day of work, I finally finished my Fall Into Winter Capsule (see below). Here are some fun stats:
- I kept 40 pieces for this capsule
- I set 25 pieces aside for Seasonal storage (including shoes and jackets)
- I am selling or donating 56 pieces (!!!)
Now that it's done, I can't believe I didn't try it sooner. My mind feels so clear. When I open my closet, I don't see a cluttered mess. Instead, a neat row of curated pieces that I (think) I love to wear! Today, I attended a pop up shop with my friend Ali. Normally, an event like this would stop me in my tracks because I'd want to look just-so. Not today. I knew I wanted a funkier look and I achieved it in fifteen minutes. And it was suuuuch a relief, seriously, I've been so happy the last few days.
They say your environment is a reflection of your brain...I think it's true.
Want to try the capsule wardrobe yourself? Check out Caroline Joy's wardrobe planner.
And here is a list of all the clothes in this capsule, plus links if applicable / available. Thanks for reading my post and if you try this, I'd love to hear how it works for you.
Tops (from L to R)
- Animal Print Tank (Target)
- Black Tank (Walmart, emergency purchase)
- Graphic Muscle Tee by Nooworks
- Striped Tee (Target, secondhand)
- Circle Dress by Nooworks
- Long Sleeved Striped Tee (Oak + Fort)
- Leith Floral Ruffle Top
- Vintage Animal Print Silk Cover Up (vintage)
- Pink Cardigan by UNIF (sold by Nasty Gal)
- Layering Sweater (Gray Violet, made in Italy and purchased at Sfizi Boutique in Chicago)
- Pink Fuzzy Sweater (Found at a pop up shop in St Louis)
- Leopard Print Cardigan (Topshop)
- Kelly Green Oversized Sweater (Topshop)
- Zara Black/Brown Stripe Oversized Sweater (Found in Mexico City)
- Long Ski Sweater with Hood (Free People)
- Long Coat Cardigan in Black (Oak + Fort)
- Cotton Maxi Dress with Oversized Pockets (Kismet Collections)
- Long Sleeved Floral Maxi Dress (Leith)
- Magic Suit by Nooworks
- Overalls by Nooworks
- Long Wool Coat in Plum (Found at Salvation Army for $6!)
- Shearling Pea Coat (Pimkie)
- Short Faux Fur Coat in Rose (Leith)
- Army All Weather Pullover (Found at a vintage store in Brussels, Belgium)
- Yellow Velvet Pants (Leith)
- Coated Black Skinny Jeans by Target
- Boyfriend Destructed Denim Jeans (Target, kids section...these fit weird so I'll be getting rid of them)
- Vintage Super High Waisted Jeans with Zippers (Smithy's Brand, found at a shop in Brussels, Belgium)
- Pink Mules (Loeffler Randall)
- Belleville Leather Booties (Free People)
- B/W Leather Booties (Raye the Label)
- Leopard Print Booties (Target)
- Faux Patent Loafers with Buckle (Zara in Mexico City)
- Dr Martens Pascal in Metallic Pink
- Silver Leather Booties (Found in Paris)
- Velvet Sock Booties (boohoo.com)