Grab a cuppa something and a nibble, we’re going to get introspective today and have a chatty ramble about capsule wardrobes, their realities, and whether my lifestyle has significantly changed since adopting one.
First things first
I’ve lived with a capsule wardrobe for about 3 years, starting late 2014. I was unconsciously unhappy with my wardrobe, which groaned under the weight of far too many coat hangers, constantly fed by multiple impulse buys. I wore cheap clothes, mostly made of synthetics that aggravated my eczema and which left me cold in the winter and steaming in the summer. I discovered my problem after reading Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Later I discovered Caroline Joy’s Un-Fancy, which got me onto dressing with less.
- to not feel overwhelmed when I got dressed
- to choose clothes quickly and efficiently without dithering over where this and that was located
- to feel super organised and in control (because we all have anal tendencies)
- to know that what was hanging in front of me was guaranteed to suit, make me feel good, and which was occasion appropriate
Trying to pinpoint my style and not understanding fabric content and quality.
This resulted in me spending quite a bit on pieces that very quickly proved to be unsuitable, whether it was cut, colour, material, fit (Country Road owes me big time). These were the early days where the overall fashion trend was evolving towards skinny pants and unstructured tops, and since I was still stuck in the decade of The Backstreet Boys, Britney before she shaved her head, and 90s/00’s hip hop, I was very unhappy with everything that was on offer.
I discovered Paris-To-Go and started to get better bearings about what the hell I should be looking for in my clothes, and what was sufficient without being excessive.
Part of the philosophy behind capsule wardrobes is to spend less, make do with what you have, and the times where you do purchase you do so with intention, really considering what you’re buying and ensuring it’s the best quality you can afford so you can get years and not weeks of wear out of it.
Here are some honest questions –
Do you really save money?
For me, not in the first 6-12 months. I threw out so much that I left humongous holes in my wardrobe and basically had to buy something new every week to ensure that I had sufficient clothes to wear. To add insult to injury, because I didn’t know what my style was and I was blindly following fashion trends at the time, a lot of what I purchased was ill fitting, unflattering, and bland.
Looking back, I’m pretty certain that most of the clothes I had in my first capsule are no longer in my general wardrobe anymore, that’s how badly I did first time round.
Now however it’s a much different story and I’m definitely saving more, but it’s taken me just over 2 years to get to this point due to how I went about adopting a capsule wardrobe.
Lesson learned – do your research about your style and your relationship with clothes before throwing everything out, otherwise you’re just fuelling another unsustainable shopping habit!
Have you really decreased your shopping?
In one season (i.e. 3 months) I might only shop twice as opposed to fortnightly indefinitely. Again, I’ve only managed to get it down to twice in three months recently because I was still making mistakes, trying to fill those wardrobe holes quickly because I literally didn’t have enough clothes to wear.
Downgrading from full time to part time work has also stopped me in general – when you have less funds to play with, you have less opportunity to do retail damage!
The relaxing contentment I would gain from browsing and adding things to my basket is now replaced by perusing my wardrobe inventory in my Bullet Journal, planning future wardrobes or travel packing lists, and shopping my closet when I fancy something ‘new’ to don. I don’t feel too bad when I do go shopping, but I usually do so only at a handful of places and if there’s nothing that I really need from those retailers, then there’s no need to buy.
Do you get tired of the smaller wardrobe?
Eventually, yes I do tire a little.
I design my capsules per season, which means that three quarters of my clothes stay in storage bags in the spare room and the rest I’ve chosen to last me for the season hang in my wardrobe. This arrangement usually lasts for the first 8 weeks or so in terms of my excitement and inspiration level. By the time we enter the third month I’m starting to tire a bit of what I’m seeing daily. I counteract this by retiring some pieces early, especially if I haven’t worn them much, and then choosing something new from storage.
Initially I used to feel bad about feeling bored and doing a mini shop-my-closet. Wasn’t the whole point about living with a capsule wardrobe to ‘make do with what you have and get creative?’ Well yes, but within reason. Ultimately I wasn’t spending more money to shop and instead was going through what I already owned, and that without question is the better option.
How long did it take to find your style?
About 2 years from the time I started capsuling.
For something as personal as your own dressing style you’d think you have that down pat, but I really didn’t! As a teenager and young adult I based my looks on how I wanted others to perceive me (for the record, feminine but ready to rumble if required) and so dressing wasn’t an issue because I was dressing to a standard that I wanted to visually convey to the public. Once I grew out of that and started working full time, all I wanted to emulate was Miranda Priestly and Andy Sachs from the Devil Wears Prada.
Having an identity outside of being a student or a full time worker was difficult! Each year has taught me a little bit more about how I want to feel in my clothes and how my clothes reflect me as an individual. I’m feeling pretty confident about 2017 and I feel I should experience the least resistance this year when it comes to choosing what makes up my wardrobe for the months ahead. Mind you, I’ve had to make many mistakes along the way, sometimes downright failing altogether (see over here for that story) to get to this point.
Will you continue to live with a capsule wardrobe?
Yes I will. After the initial upheaval of throwing out what you don’t need and identifying your own style, capsule wardrobes need very little maintenance.
Minimising my wardrobe also fulfils my odd penchant for inventorying and ‘putting things together’ like you would with old school paper dolls or Barbies. I like the pick ‘n mix concept and how I can substitute one thing for another if I want to.
Once you get over the whole capsule wardrobe as being little more than a trend, it’s a pretty simple and easy to upkeep lifestyle change that can be very beneficial for you overall if you struggle with dressing or shopping. Part of the battle is finding contentment with what you have, and I think everyone is on the search for that in whatever shape or form.
Phew! Still here? Congratulations, you have won…well…my eternal gratitude for sticking with me on this one 🙂 I hope you might have garnered a little more insight into my reality of living with a capsule wardrobe and understanding my motivations for adopting one in the first place. Has it inspired you to try it at all?