This may come as no surprise, but I am a huge capsule wardrobe enthusiast. If you had told me how this capsule wardrobe journey would become so much more I would have called you crazy. I never imagined I could, or would want to, be content with a small wardrobe. I never dreamed I’d walk by a Target clearance rack without the slightest urge to browse. I never expected the simplicity would spread to other areas of my life and I would be working to minimize my family’s possessions, slowing down our consumerism, and being more aware of where we’re purchasing from. If you haven’t tried a capsule wardrobe yet, I highly recommend it. See more about my process here.
But it all happened.
I loosely followed the capsule wardrobe guidelines as I built my maternity wardrobe for baby #4, but it wasn’t until Fall 2015 that I really had to face my huge wardrobe and make decisions about what I was going to include in my capsule. I have had 3 full capsule seasons since then and my current summer wardrobe naturally became a capsule as I weeded out the items I did not love.
I started my capsule wardrobe journey to reach two main goals:
I wanted to challenge myself to break my shopping habit. I love shopping: the thrill of scoring a great deal and the high I get from buying new things is something I’ve always loved. With a closet full of clothes, most of which were only worn once per season, I wanted to challenge myself to reign it in. I’ve made huge progress toward this goal, though I do notice that once I start shopping for the next capsule I feel the old shopping habits creep back in.
I wanted to find my personal style. The interesting thing about documenting daily outfits on Instagram has been the ability to take trips down my style memory lane. At some point I looked back and just didn’t get it…the outfits were so not me. I was dressing more for my Instagram feed (and let’s be honest, to get the likes) than I was for myself. I had lost my personal style.
I had plenty of clothes to wear, but a lot I didn’t love. I found myself passing up items I really wanted to be wearing because I felt obligated to wear everything at least once a season and I was constantly adding more. Selecting items for a capsule showed me the difference between like and LOVE in terms of my wardrobe and I’m finding it easier and easier to identify which category items fall into. The process of building each capsule wardrobe has helped me hone in on my personal style and what items I am drawn to. I feel more comfortable in my clothing these days, but I wouldn’t say I’ve completely nailed down my personal style just yet. It’s still a work in progress.
What Comes Next?
It first dawned on me as I packed up items from my winter capsule that I felt just a little bit wasteful packing up clothes I love. It seemed contrary to my desire to get the most use out of my favorite items. I was storing items I wanted to keep wearing because I had reached my capsule number. I went ahead and packed them up because I wanted to stay true to the capsule process, but I started to wonder what comes next? After my goals for the capsule are met, what do I do? Does it still make sense for me to limit my wardrobe and pack away items I love based on the capsule rules? I could absolutely be content doing capsules for longer, but do I need to?
What does a post-capsule wardrobe closet look like?
My friend, Andrea, and I have had a lot of great discussions about this since then and we realized there are probably other women out there who have tried, loved, and learned from capsule wardrobes, but are ready to “graduate”. Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing our ideas and strategies for moving on from the capsule wardrobe without un-doing everything we’ve learned. You all must check out Andrea’s post – it’s so eloquently stated.
We want to maintain a lean, well-functioning, well-utilized, LOVED closet.
Strategy #1: Fewer rules
Capsule wardrobes involve a lot of rules, which I think is what attracted me to the process in the first place. Personally, having some strong guidelines kept me on track and let me know I was doing it “right”.
As I’ve gained more confidence in my ability to resist impulse shopping and I’ve grown more comfortable keeping fewer items in my closet, the rules have started to seem unnecessary, so it’s time to loosen up.
A year-round wardrobe.
I will keep the bulk of my clothing in my closet year-round. Now that I have a collection of items I really love, I look forward to having them available at all times. There may be some items I put in seasonal storage (heavy sweaters, shorts, tank tops) but I plan to keep most of my wardrobe at my fingertips.
Have a year-round wardrobe will allow me to get even more use out of my pieces, which feels especially good as I try to add more ethically responsible and higher quality items. This also add a new level of variety to a small wardrobe, which I hope supports my desire to buy less.
Maintain a lean closet.
I won’t obsess over meeting a specific number of items for my year-round wardrobe. For now, I am not going to put any guidelines into place, but if I feel my wardrobe growing larger I may adopt a one item in, one item out policy (or similar strategy) to keep things in check. Lean is a loose term and one person’s lean is another’s excessive, but for me lean means essential. I want my closet to be filled with purposeful items that get regular wear and that I LOVE. I tend to like set limits, so this is the area I’m most concerned about because I know I am very good at talking myself into “needing” things that I really don’t.
I’m nervous about how my closet will look and feel after falling in love with my smaller (and much neater) wardrobe, so I hope that becomes incentive for keeping things lean.
Continually edit my closet.
Along those lines, I will put the lessons I’ve learned from my capsule wardrobe journey to use to continually edit my wardrobe. Building and analyzing my capsules each seasons has taught me the power of a cohesive wardrobe. Though I will not pack up and swap out capsules each season, I still plan to analyze my items to re-evaluate the pieces I’ve included in my core year-round wardrobe. To begin, I am excited to look at all four seasons’ capsules as a whole wardrobe to see how it all fits together and make the edits on a larger scale.
Try new styles and trends.
Fewer rules for my wardrobe allows me greater flexibility to try new styles and trends without a fear of “ruining” a capsule or “wasting” an item on something that doesn’t work for me. Throughout the past year I’ve played it pretty safe with my wardrobe in an effort to create the ‘perfect’ capsule. Not having rules allows some wiggle room to try new things and make mistakes, which is essential in a personal style journey.
I am excited to move on to the next stage of building my core wardrobe – one that is mindful, cohesive, and effortless. I can’t wait to put what I’ve learned from my capsule wardrobe journey to good use and apply it on a larger scale.
My goals moving forward remain the same. I still believe that less is more for my personal wardrobe, so I don’t want to slip back into my old mindless, impulsive shopping habits. I want my closet to remain simple, neat, effortless, and me.
For now, I’m going to stick with my laid-back summer wardrobe, but as I prepare for back-to-school (how can I even say that?!) I plan to go through the process of un-capsuling my wardrobe and building a core year-round wardrobe to share with you.