If you've read about capsule wardrobes elsewhere but haven't tried it yet, I'm here to lure you into the magical land of stress-free lovely organized closet bliss. A capsule wardrobe is basically only having a certain minimal number of items of clothing in your closet at a time, the idea being that on any given day when you go to get dressed, every item in your closet is that is seasonal, something you love, that fits, is in good condition, and therefore an option to wear that day.
It's typically recommended that you choose between 33-40 items for you capsule. That sounded pretty restrictive to me until I tallied things up and realized it's actually quite generous. I don't know if I could even pick that many items out of my whole closet that I truly love! For example that would allow for 5 pairs of pants, 12 tops, 4 jackets, 2 coats, 4 dresses, and 6 pairs of shoes. In general, underwear, pajamas, accessories and workout wear don't count, but you can make your own rules. My end goal is to have my entire wardrobe BE a capsule wardrobe, but in an effort to balance minimalism with wastefulness, at this point I'm opting to keep and wear out clothing I already have that I would probably otherwise purge, and use the concept of a capsule wardrobe to gradually transition to a truly minimal closet.
When I first started to minimize, simplify, and declutter, I don't know that I had even heard of minimalism-- I was just seeking to be more organized. I purged and then organized my closet, and weeks later it was a mess again. I re-strategized and tried to figure out why my organization hadn't lasted, and tried again. For some areas of my home, organization came easily and stuck once I'd purged and applied some common sense, but for some reason, with my wardrobe I kept rebounding to chaos and clutter-- I couldn't figure out how to KEEP things organized. Trying a capsule wardrobe (after applying the KonMari method) was the first system that truly kept everything organized and I can honestly say at the end of my first capsule wardrobe experiment (October 2015-April 2016) my closet and drawers looked exactly the same as they had the first day of my organizing. Folded neatly in my drawers with every item visible, or hung in the closet with plenty of space to spare. These photos will give away the fact that I'm not exactly a fashion guru, but I want to make the point that if you're not that into fashion, you shouldn't need to spent a ton of time figuring out what to wear every day! And also that you can be very into fashion and still have an awesome minimal wardrobe--many fashion bloggers have proved it.
The process for getting there was to first purge ruthlessly, and then to thoughtfully select my 30-40 items that I wanted to wear that season. Everything else, I boxed up and put out of sight. People, I tell you it was magic. This is how life should be. Piles of clothing to choose from every morning is not a pleasant stress-free experience, and you were probably reaching for the same items over and over anyway! Here are the benefits I experienced from this challenge:
1. It helped me let go of items I really don't wear and "test" items I said I would wear. Often when purging, you may come across an item and think "why don't I wear this?" You like it, it fits, and even though you haven't been wearing it, you resolve to and decide to keep it. I put a few of these items in my winter capsule, and after 5 months still hadn't worn them. That made it really easy to let go of them come spring. When only 40 things were in my closet--when I saw this as an option every day, and I still never wore it-- that means I'm not going to. That means I don't have occasion to wear that kind of clothing, or I don't have anything to wear it with, or it's not comfortable or I just really don't actually like it. They were added to the donation pile come spring.
2. Other times, adding a forgotten piece to my capsule would have the opposite effect. It would resurrect that item and I'd start wearing something that I had been skipping over for whatever reason. It put to use clothes that had previously been sitting at the back of my closet.
3. It made me more aware of what items I do need when I go shopping. Normally when I go shopping, I'll just go to stores I like and buy whatever clothes there appeal to me with maybe a general list in mind of a few things that I need. Doing this experiment made me realize that the reason I don't have anything to wear is because I have a closet full of clothes that don't fit my lifestyle. My sister worked at H & M for a few years and started giving me a stack of clothing every time I came home to visit. I happily took them, thrilled to have new clothes I didn't have to pay for. While I do like my sisters style, my days lately are filled with hiking with my kids, playdates at the park, bike rides, gardening, yard work, cleaning and working from home. I need athletic wear! I like comfortable, stretchy clothes I can get dirty in, and loose soft t-shirts. I have 30 tops I could wear if I were headed to college and a job at the mall every day like my sister, but that's not my life right now! I would normally think of workout clothing as something to go cheap on, whereas good jeans and a nice blouse I'd be willing to spend more on. But now that I realize I reach for the same black nike athletic pants every single day, I'm going to invest in a couple nice pairs of them.
4. A capsule wardrobe cuts down on decision fatigue, making one less thing I have to stress about on a hectic morning. Choosing an outfit is easy because there aren't so many options.
5. Less laundry! My best friend will rave about this one. Moms spend a lot of time gathering washing, folding, and putting away laundry. Paring your kids wardrobes down to just 4-7 outfits and getting your husband on board as well will drastically cut down on the number of loads you're doing every week, I promise.
6. Last but not least, it is so so so much easier to keep your clothing organized! I've never had the experience of having a closet with a place for everything and everything in its place until now. I can always find the item of clothing I'm looking for, because everything is organized and put away where it goes.
From now on my plan is to switch out my capsule wardrobe once every fall and once every spring with my ideal end goal in mind of ending up with a closet so minimal that I don't need to switch things out. As I bring in new items, I will get rid of more items than I bring in every time until I've reached what feels like my ideal number, at which point I'll start getting rid of one clothing item for every new one I bring in. I like that this idea adds mindfulness to purchases as I'll need to ask myself if I want to something so bad that I'm willing to have it take the place of something else in my closet and if it's something I'll want to wear over and over again. I also want to be purchasing higher quality, more versatile items that I know I'll like to wear often and that I can wear with many other things in my closet.
Let me know if you try this out or already have been, how it goes for you. This concept has been popularized by blogs such as Un-fancy and Project 333 and they have great articles and tips to help you get started!