My daughter Rebecca recently started preaching to me about the benefits of a capsule wardrobe.
Basically, you try to get your wardrobe down to only a certain number of pieces–some say 25, some say 40–and then you work with just those. You buy high quality pieces, with lots of neutral basics. You accessorize with pretty scarves and jewelry and a few colourful items. And then you’re much happier! It’s easier to choose what to wear. It takes up less space. It’s easier to pack.
And you don’t have to spend all your time clothes shopping. You purchase high quality pieces that last forever.
This spring I went on a huge purge and got rid of about half my clothes. But I’m still nowhere near the 40 pieces. I’m getting there, but I do have a lot of dresses I love and jackets I use when I speak.
But here’s what I have done. I’ve decided that for each 2 month period I’m going to choose 25 pieces (shoes and jewelry not included!) to wear. Those will include at least 5 speaking outfits. Every two months I’ll try to switch out most clothes so that I do wear most of my items. And then, after a year, I’ll look at what I haven’t worn and I’ll get rid of those items, because I obviously don’t like them enough to have them make the cut.
So most of my clothes are on my top rack, but I put the capsule wardrobe on the bottom rack, and for two months only wear it. Here are all my other clothes; you can see the capsule one below.
Here’s why I’m liking this:
- Using a capsule wardrobe helps me make up outfits
- Using a capsule wardrobe helps me accessorize
- Using a capsule wardrobe helps me use items I love but I’ve never quite figured out how to wear.
Let’s look at each of these individually!
Using a Capsule Wardrobe Helps You Make up Outfits
That’s really the point of a capsule wardrobe, actually. You choose items that coordinate, and then it’s easier to make up an “outfit”. Often we’re stuck with a lot of clothes that will look good with one skirt or one pair of pants but nothing else. A capsule wardrobe encourages you to buy a lot of neutral items and then add patterns to it.
So you choose 2 sweaters, 1 blazer, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of pants, 2 capris, 2 skirts, 1 dress, and then the rest can be tops. (You may fiddle with the numbers a bit, but that’s roughly it). And if you have enough neutrals in the sweaters and the pants, then everything will go with everything else.
I’m still working on collecting my neutrals–as you can tell, I have too many patterns. But the nice thing is that if I think about a colour palette beforehand, and then choose clothes in that colour palette, then more of them will coordinate together. In this case, I chose a yellow sweater that works with pretty much all of the tops, and a neutral jacket that works with both. Unfortunately I still need to work on getting more plain skirts, but at least these ones have at least two tops that work with each. And, of course, all the tops work with my plain jeans and capris.
I also have a pair of shorts, two pairs of capris, and a pair of jeans. Oh, and one dress!
I just leave the pants/shorts on an open shelf so I can see them easily. The other pants I put away in drawers and don’t bother with until it’s time to create my next capsule.
Since I have these all picked out, packing for my trip to British Columbia last week was easy. I just picked up everything by the hanger, lay them all in the suitcase, and I was done. Easy peasy! Took three outfits to Little Rock this week, too, when I was recording for FamilyLife Today Radio.
Capsule Wardrobes Help You Accessorize
I’m a firm believer in fighting the frump. I want to try to look “put together” instead of just throwing on clothes everyday haphazardly. But one thing that I’ve found is that looking “put together” is often more about accessories than it is just an outfit. By choosing my tops ahead of time I can then also make it a point to choose jewelry that actually goes with the items, instead of just always choosing the same necklace everyday (if I choose one at all).
It helps me to wear more of my jewelry, too! So I just take the necklaces that I want to wear (and the bracelets, if applicable) and hang them right over the hangers, like they do in a clothing store when they try to sell you outfits.
I figure out the shoes and the purses, too, and just lay the shoes I’ll actually need below the clothes, and the purses on hangers beside everything else.
Now when I go to get dressed in the morning, there’s really not a lot of thought that goes into it! I’ve already planned outfits, I’ve got shoes that will coordinate, necklaces that tie everything together, and I know what purses I want to wear.
It made speaking really easy, too–no more thinking about what to wear.
A Capsule Wardrobe Helps Me Use Items I Love But Don’t Know What to Do With
I love knitting, and I knit pretty much all the time. But I’m not the best at wearing the things I knit necessarily. It’s much easier in the winter, when I’ve got big sweaters, but in the summer I often forget about my knitted items.
With a capsule wardrobe I can be intentional: Okay, here’s a knit top I want to wear. What can I wear it with to turn it into an outfit?
I found one green summer cotton top I knit last year, for instance. I found a necklace that went well with it, and now it looks great with both skirts and those funky green shoes!
(I couldn’t hang this on the hangers with my other tops because it’s knit and it will stretch, so I had to show it to you separately!)
I also have a large collection of scarves that I never know quite what to do with. I like them, but I always forget to wear them. So in my first capsule wardrobe, which I made up in the winter, I found a scarf that coordinated and tried to use it in interesting ways. I thought this worked well with my jacket:
So now I try to put a scarf in each wardrobe, too!
I just find that it takes the guess work out of getting dressed, and it makes sure that I looked “turned out”. I’ve got a coordinated outfit. I’ve got jewelry. I’ve got accessories. And it works. Otherwise I find that I’ll throw on some capris and a top but I won’t really create an outfit.
I’m also realizing that I don’t actually need that many clothes. I may even get rid of a few more after the summer is over! I wouldn’t mind getting down to 40 pieces, actually (well, not including dresses. I like my dresses). But I’m also going to buy sweaters that are more versatile and that go with more outfits to coordinate together. And with solids I can do more with scarves, so in the end you don’t need to spend as much on clothes to still use color and pattern.
So that’s how I’m dressing myself these days. What about you? Have you ever tried a capsule wardrobe? How did it work out? Let’s talk in the comments!