I’ve been intrigued by the concept of a capsule wardrobe for some time. If you don’t know, a capsule wardrobe is a concept born out of a desire or need to simplify, buy less, and create a cohesive look or personal style. It requires you to pare down your closet to a set number of pieces and wear only those pieces for three months. Each season brings a new set of clothes and a new challenge.
I knew I wanted to try, but I didn’t know where to start, and then in some cosmic coincidence, Caroline started her site Unfancy, a style blog devoted entirely to less. She writes about creating a capsule in approachable terms and best of all, she provides tools to get started–really beautifully designed tools.
Armed with these tools, I started my Spring capsule wardrobe in April, picked out 30 some-odd pieces and planned for the 7 pieces I either needed to replace or wanted to buy for my wardrobe. I put everything else in my closet in storage, donated a bunch of stuff, and off I went.
Here’s what I learned:
Think about it. Really, how many pieces of clothing do you actually reach for in a laundry cycle? Why do you reach for them? Fit? Color? Trend? Because, like me, you spend the majority of your time in an office and not at some swanky Hamptons beach party, like your summer wardrobe would suggest?
I asked myself these same questions. I pulled out all of the clothes that I actually wear and set them out on the bed. I found some themes, I found some color schemes, and I found some holes and made a shopping list to fill them.
Here’s what happened: I actually nailed down my personal style, and this helps me shop for things more clearly. If I know what I’m looking for, and I know what I like, and I know what looks good on me. I can quickly come to the conclusion that I don’t really need that $20 shirt from Target that doesn’t fit that great.
I started only looking for things that I knew would work for me. I looked at proportions, and colors, and silhouettes. For instance, a fit-and-flare dress is always going to look better on me than a shift. Now I can focus on what flatters me.
Vests and sass!
I love to shop. It’s a hobby of mine. But when I found myself with three–three!–dresses in my closet that still had tags on them and never truly fit, I had to ask myself, what the heck are you doing?
Living in a capsule wardrobe for three months forced me to really think about the money I spend on clothing. What do I need? Am I shopping for a special occasion, and if so, do I have something already that can be re-styled? Am I shopping because I’m bored? Oh, I am? Get out of this store!
When you can only wear 37 pieces for three months, you have to think about classics vs. trends, and when to splurge vs. when to save. If I’m going to wear a chambray shirt twice a week for an entire season (and beyond, who am I kidding? They’re the best), then I should probably get one that I love.
I love it.
If I want to incorporate a trend that I’m not sure will be around long, or that I’ll love for long, maybe that’s when I should do some smarter shopping.
For me, it was about being more mindful about where my dollars are going. Would I rather this dress that I can wear one time? Or would I rather go on a trip? (I’d rather go on a trip.)
When push came to shove, though, about 2 months in I dipped into storage. I wanted this one dress to go out to dinner, and so I brought it out, I wore it, and it was ok.
I’m a rule-follower. Always have been. But this experience made me think about all the rules I follow; those that I set for myself and those that others set for me. Some are good–we should be nice to others, we should stop at red lights, we should clean up after ourselves.
Some are more easily broken, and that’s ok too. I set out to complete this experiment and see if I could do it. In the end, I couldn’t. I broke the rules. But there’s some freedom in taking from something what you need, and leaving the rest. What’s right for me may not be right for you, and goodness, that’s ok.
I make resolutions, you may not. Caroline rocks at making a capsule wardrobe stylishly fit her lifestyle, and for me it was more of a fun thing to try. Some people can walk in platform heels without falling, and I can’t. Some people would stop wearing them if that were the case. Not me.
If you’re looking for a fun Summer/Fall challenge, this one is a good one, and you should start at Unfancy. I can promise you, it will help you streamline your style, rethink your buying habits, and help you find a cohesive look. Maybe you’ll find that less really is more. Maybe you’ll find a way to make it work for you, like I did.
Either way, it’s a good thing.