How to Make a Capsule Wardrobe Work for You
Last summer, I was three months postpartum with my third child and struggling to find my style amidst fitting back into my old clothes. I was trying to add new items to my closet that would be practical and make me feel good while wearing them. I tended to buy what was safe and what I thought I could wear all the time. The only problem was I didn’t feel like me. Instead, I felt like a frumpy mom wearing ‘safe’ clothes. I hated it. It was time for a new approach.
I stumbled across a blog shortly thereafter touting the merits of building a capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is a collection of limited items worn for a season and then remixed with new purchases and old favorites for the following season.
My interest was piqued and I set out with two main goals: define my style, and cut the cord to my perpetual shopping.
Each of my capsules was composed of approximately 40 items and worn for almost exactly a three-month calendar season. I did almost no shopping in between capsules.
My Capsule Process
1. Wish List – Mid-way through the season I start a capsule wish list on my phone for the upcoming season. I look at my favorite catalogs, blogs, Pinterest and people on the street for inspiration during this part of the process. I pin away to my mood board for the season and then I study my repeats and overall style to help hone my vision.
2. Purge + Plan – Two weeks before the start of the season I lay out all the clothes I think I am going to want in the upcoming season on my bed. I try on various combinations to see how they work, making sure each piece earns its spot in my closet. This also brings to light any holes I have in my wardrobe. For example, as I was trying on spring combos, I kept reaching for a classic cardigan to add to my outfits, and unfortunately the only one I had was light orange. :/ That meant, very quickly, a neutral cardigan rose to the top of my spring capsule wish list.
During this part of the process I bring in my number one consultant – aka my husband – to get his unabashed feedback on my combos and individual pieces. He knows he is allowed to be 100% honest with me and I truly do appreciate it. The laying out and trying on is lengthy. It usually takes me a few hours in the evening after the kiddos are in bed. But the payoff is worth the time! The process lays the groundwork for having a well-functioning closet where each piece plays an important role and is something you love.
3. Budget + Buy – Next I pull up my capsule wish list and prioritize my top five items. From there, I purchase what my budget will allow. Sometimes that only means 2-3 items, and I am learning to be okay with that. I’d rather have something made well than something that won’t last. Once it all arrives (hello online shopping! So much easier than trying to drag my kiddos from store to store) I try on my new items with my existing items to make sure they are a good fit for that season’s capsule (and beyond!).
4. File Away – Finally, I store all my off-season clothes in two under-the-bed containers. Gotta keep things tidy in my sweet, but quaint city apartment.
I am currently in the middle of my fifth capsule wardrobe, and I can happily say I have met those goals and have even added a few new ones, but more on that later.
It’s taken me about a year, but I now have a pretty clear idea of what kind of clothes I like to wear and how I like to present myself, which means hopefully no more wasted purchases. Limiting the number of garments in my closet and focusing on what I really like (instead of ‘filler’ items) has really shown me where my style-loving heart is. I feel a lot more content with my closet when I am only wearing things I love.
Now that I only do organized shopping with a list in hand, it takes a lot less of my time. Because I only shop for a purpose and only every few months, I feel myself starting to break the cycle of the high of continually getting something new. I don’t want to live a stuff-driven life; I want to live a people-driven life. I want my highs to be connected to being with other people and not with consuming more goods.
Since I’ve met my goals of finding my style and ditching my shopping habit, I have had some new ones taking shape. I am working on making sure my items are well-sourced and ethically made, and being content with the closet I have created/am creating.
Final Thoughts on Capsules
My experience with capsules has been amazing. I could not have gotten here without them. However, a wardrobe capsule is a vehicle, not the destination. It’s a learning tool, and not necessarily the way I’ll construct my closet forever. For me the destination was defining my style and ending my love affair with shopping.
Thanks for sharing, Andrea! Read more on this topic at Seasons + Salt.
I’ll be exploring the idea of curating a minimal wardrobe this month, so stay tuned.