Using A Capsule Wardrobe To Simplify Your Life

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I’ve been wearing the same thing for four months. Kind of.

Let me clarify. For the last four months, my wardrobe choices have been limited to 35 pieces total. I’ve rotated these pieces every day, in order to try my hand at a practice that is increasingly popular among minimalists: the capsule wardrobe.

What Is A Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a mini-collection of versatile pieces from your current wardrobe. It consists of the tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes, and outerwear that you most love to wear. It does not include accessories, jewelry, handbags, undergarments, workout clothes, or sleepwear. The typical number of items recommended for a capsule wardrobe is 37, though you are free to go with a bit more or less if needed. Most who use capsule wardrobes create a new one every season. In certain instances, like when you have very specific attire required for your job, a separate second capsule may be needed.

The intention of creating and using a capsule wardrobe is really to reduce your clothing to what is essential and what you love, which then allows you to save time and energy (our most valuable resources) on deciding what to wear each day.

A Capsule Wardrobe Changed My Life

I’ve talked in previous posts about my journey toward a minimalist lifestyle. While I have been purging a bunch over the last several months, the one area where I continued to feel weighed down was in my closet. So I decided to try something bold, and it may be the best decision I’ve ever made. Here’s why:

Our closets can be a manifestation of our attachments, fear of letting go, and unwillingness to change Click To Tweet

I created much needed space. Our closets hold a lot more than just pretty dresses and cute shoes. More often than not, our closets can be a manifestation of our attachments, fear of letting go, addictions, unwillingness to change, and so forth. When I chose my 35 items and got rid of the rest, I also got rid of all the feelings that came with them. Getting dressed stopped being so emotional for me. I also got rid of a ton of stale energy and created a place for all of the good energy to exist.

I felt great every. single. day. My capsule wardrobe consists of the best of the best. I spent four months wearing only those pieces of clothing that make me look and feel exactly how I want to look and feel. There are no five-inch heels. No blazers or slacks. There are none of the too small, too short, and too tight pieces that we tend to hang on to. My wardrobe represents me today, not who I was yesterday or who I may become a few years from now.

I gained my time back. What happens when you don’t have to spend 30 minutes or more every morning on deciding what to wear? Anything and everything you want. Over the last four months, my morning routine has benefited tremendously. My time and energy has been going into what I love, which is not rummaging through my closet and trying on five different outfits for half an hour. I now open my closet every morning, knowing exactly what I have to choose from. More importantly, I know that any choice I make will be a good one.

Creating A Capsule Wardrobe

So here’s how I did it.

Step 1: Create a “style mission statement”. The purpose of this mission statement is to set an intention for how I want to look and feel in my capsule wardrobe. It also helps to ensure that the pieces I include in it will fit well together. Here is mine.

“Effortless and classic; chic; neutral and earth tones; relaxed fit tops with fitted pants; form-fitting but hassle-free dresses; comfortable and versatile shoes”

Step 2: Take inventory. I knew my capsule collection would be for the fall and winter months. So I pulled out all of my cool/cold weather clothing, shoes and outerwear and laid everything out in plain sight.

Step 3: Start the editing process. I automatically removed everything that didn’t fit, didn’t make me feel great, or simply didn’t match my mission statement.

Step 4: Pull out what you love. These are the items that I feel amazing in and that I can’t imagine not wearing. Move these items into a ‘yes’ pile. Once this is done, you end up in one of two situations. Either you have more than 37 pieces and need to edit more, or you have fewer and need to add some.

  • If you find yourself in the first group, take a few minutes to re-read your mission statement. Make sure that your choices are based on your original intention and not on any attachments you may have to specific pieces. If you still have too much, think about the pieces that are the most versatile. Which ones can be worn in many different settings? Which ones mix-and-match well with everything else in your capsule wardrobe? Choose those.
  • If you find yourself in the second group, resist the urge to go shopping for new stuff. It is perfectly fine to have fewer than 37 pieces. However, also take time to think about why you chose so few pieces. Are you not feeling great in any of your clothing because you’re being hard on yourself? Are you trying to dress the person you used to be or wish you were, versus who you are today?

Step 5: Keep YOU in mind. As you assemble your collection, think about the colors you love, where and how you spend most of your time, and what season you’re planning for. For example, if you don’t wear dresses in the winter, then your final 37 pieces shouldn’t have many dresses, if any at all.

By the end of these five steps, here’s where I landed:

16 tops, 8 bottoms, 4 dresses, 5 shoes, 2 coats. Colors: mostly black, some grey, navy, and cream and bits of maroon and white

Step 6: Get rid of the rest. Now that you have your final pieces, everything that you didn’t choose has to go. You can pack them up and store them, so that they don’t continue to take up your space. You can also give them away to family or friends, or donate them to people in need.

Did I mention? I’m on a mission to collect 500 dresses by April 1, 2016 to help women and girls in need. Donations will go to Operation PROM and Dress for Success. Contact me at uzy [at] comingom [dot] com to learn more.

Spring is around the corner! Let’s create your very own capsule wardrobe. Inquire about 1-on-1 coaching, why don’t you?

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2 thoughts on “Using A Capsule Wardrobe To Simplify Your Life

  • A Limit of 37 clothes?!! I don’t think I own up to 37 pieces, let alone enough to have to cut down to that number! I know how stylish you are, Uz, so congratulations on having been able to pare down. It’s been years since I was forced to wear a uniform, but its white-gray-navy palette has still stuck with me.

    I wonder how much of our attachment to clothing is environmental? as in based on the people you work, learn, live with? When I’m one of few women in a heavily male environment, I find myself spending very little energy on what I wear, because I know my ‘audience’ is not very fussy. So long as you, as a woman, look ‘nice,’ most men are not noticing the details of your wardrobe. Ironically though, I think men size up other men on their look — tie, socks, shoes, belts…

    I’m not advocating sloppiness, but I think a lot of our wardrobe and wardrobe choices have less to do with who we are than who we want our ‘audience’ to think we are. Remove the audience, real or imagined, and I bet we would all shop/dress totally differently…

    Thanks for this post.

    • I agree regarding the environmental attachments. It’s true that most of us are dressing for somebody, whether its coworkers, clients, significant others, etc. I can’t say whether that’s good or not. However, it is definitely something to think about if we want to learn to live with (and be happy with) less. Great comment!

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