How to create a capsule wardrobe: How to get started with creating a capsule wardrobe.
Simple Living

Capsule Wardrobe: A Sensible Approach

I’m about to try and talk you into creating a capsule wardrobe.  Just so you know where this is heading, ok?

Raise your hand if…

Do you find your self feeling stressed when you have to pick an outfit?  Do you try on different things and find a bunch of reason why you can’t wear them?  Do you have more clothes than hangers or drawer space, yet rarely feel really comfortable or excited about what you are wearing? Has choosing an outfit become an anxiety trigger rather than a joy?  

What I’ve just described was my experience for years. Add to this description the fact that I had five babies in seven years and constant size, shape and weight fluctuations.  Ooi!  Suffice it to say, choosing an outfit for the day has not historically been one of my favorite things.

Please note: I really do like fashion and I think I have (in my opinion) good taste.  I really enjoy styling outfits, and one would think that with my affinity for quality fabrics and designs, I would have found more joy in dressing myself.  Why the disconnect?

How did I get into this mess?

Well for one, I wasn’t careful about what clothing I kept for myself, to make sure that it fit properly for right now.  If you want to read the whole story about my thrift shopping addiction and how I overcame it, that’s a worthy read, but the basic ideas was that I kept lots and lots of clothing that didn’t fit me now. 

I had clothing that had fit me a few months ago, or would fit when I became pregnant again, or would fit me when I lost the baby weight.  But very few items that really fit me in that present moment.  Hence, full closet and nothing to wear.

It’s time for a change!

I reached a breaking point back in 2013, and that’s where the idea of capsule wardrobes came into the picture. It’s been a game changer ever since.

Here’s my description of a capsule wardrobe: 

Only enough clothing to wear on a regular rotation, with very few specialty items. All items in the closet work well together and can be styled together in different combinations.  All items fit well now, with whatever shape my body is in right now.

Obviously, this will mean a different number of things for each person. One person (myself) may have 10 items of clothing, while another person may have 40. Both of these are still a capsule wardrobe, but they are customized to the person who wears them. In my opinion, this is better than sticking to a strict checklist of items. It takes time to find what is exactly right for your needs and lifestyle, and there’s no sense in trying to maintain a wardrobe designed for someone else’s life.

The four questions I ask myself to help me maintain a capsule wardrobe…

1) “Do I need this?”

Have you ever caught yourself buying something that was almost a duplicate of something you already own?  Or perhaps you were purchasing an item which you really like, but do not really need (I think this is called retail therapy in America).  This questions seems so basic that it’s kind of dumb to ask, but for me taking a moment to just go ahead an ask myself this has really helped me to not expand my closet with things I don’t need. 

2) “Do I love this?”

Again this seems to be an overly simple question, but it really helps me make decisions about my wardrobe. Perhaps I’m just keeping an item because I remember how much I paid for it and it would be a waste give it away, or maybe I’m keeping it purely because it’s comfortable but I hate the way it looks.  Each time I make the decision not to own something I don’t love, my life gets a little clearer and just a bit better.

3) “Does this fit my style?”

Figuring out a style is another whole topic, (one I enjoy!), but the basic ideas is only purchase/keep clothing that works well with other things in your closet.  If an item cannot be paired or styled multiple ways, it doesn’t deserve a place in my closet.

4) “Does this fit me now?”

This is a big one because there are a million reason why we hold on to clothes that don’t fit us well. I’ve just let go of keeping clothes “for some day” and only keep clothes that fit me right now.  This is hard, I know.  But for me it is actually a relief to let go of those “Goal pants”.  That’s to much pressure girl!  Let them go!  Anthropologie will still be there when you are at your goal weight.

Another common feeling is that it would be financially irresponsible to give clothes away, then have to buy new ones when your body undergoes a another change. It’s true, there is a monetary cost to buying clothes. But there is also a mental and emotional cost to keeping clothes that don’t fit you. There is great freedom in being able to let go and trust God, that he will provide for your needs, and knowing that you don’t have to hold onto things out of guilt.

I dress for the body I have, not for the body I want.

Another thing that was hard for me to do was to just be honest with myself about what styles flatter my body shape right now.  I get it, this is a super emotional topic.  But, I may have had to let go of some things because guess what…  I’m a little jiggly in the midsection right now and wearing something that squeezes the spare tire flab just isn’t for right now.  No judgement about how it got there, but I find relief in straight up accepting that it’s the way things are right now, and knowing I won’t be temped to wear something that isn’t appropriate.  It’s gone, it’s off my mind. I choose to view this as a relief and not a defeat.

How does this apply to pregnancy/weight fluctuations?

‘Cause you know I’ve been there!  Some of those maternity clothes I certainly don’t “love”, and I know I’ll be thinner and in better shape in the future.  Here’s how I deal:  I don’t keep the “someday” clothes. Cause guess what, when that day comes I’ll reward myself with some new, fresh clothing.  And for future pregnancies, I only keep the pieces that I really loved, and they get stored in a bin downstairs.  

Isn’t it wasteful to spend money making a capsule wardrobe?

Honestly, a lot of the examples of capsule wardrobes I see online are way out of my price range.  Every single item is designer quality and a timeless style that can be worn for years.  This isn’t realistic for most people including me.  

But the good news is, if you have a cluttered closet (i.e. a typical closet) you probably already have capsule wardrobe in there!  If you are like me, you may have lots of things your are keeping for various reasons but only a few things that you wear in regular rotation. 

Ask these 4 questions about each item and I betcha you’ll find that you have a pretty decent capsule wardrobe already in there. Ok, maybe not everything will make you squeal with delight, but I know you can do what I did and create a pretty darn good capsule wardrobe out of what you already have.

Declutter first, then fill in the gaps.

If you do need to spend a little money creating a capsule wardrobe, I would encourage you to do the purging and decluttering first.  Then you will be truly able to asses what items you need to buy.  Shooting in the dark isn’t a good plan, you may do what I did and end up getting lots of duplicates.

No mess and no stress!

With a capsule wardrobe in your closet, you can confidently reach in and know that you will find something there that fits you properly, that matches other things you own, and that you can wear with ease and confidence. Don are the days of trying things on, or wondering if you could “get away with this?” You can relax because the decisions have already been made.

This is such a wonderful blessing, and it greatly reduces the stress of looking in an overstuffed closet, and not knowing where to begin. Go ahead and give your self the gift of a capsule wardrobe!

You don’t have to do this overnight.

Lastly, give your self grace and let this be a process.  Truth be told, I’m pretty ruthless about what clothing and accessories I purchase/keep at this point.  My closet is very slim and I love it that way.  But it’s taken me several years to get to this point and there’s lots I have learned just by letting this process proceed, and not forcing myself to adopt some else’s checklist of items. 

We’re all different and we need space to make this happen in the right way for us as individuals.  There will be different levels of functionality and practicality, and fashion that each of us needs to balance for ourself.  But don’t let that stop you from starting.  Just start!  And let me know how it goes!

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