The capsule wardrobe idea is EVERYWHERE. I think they’ve gotten a bit out of hand, honestly. I never really thought much about capsule wardrobes before they started popping up here and there, and when I did, it was in terms of packing for trips, for seasons, or a specific life event (like moving to work or study abroad for several months) where you don’t want to take your entire wardrobe with you. Now, capsule wardrobes are all the rage, and a cornerstone of a lot of popular “minimalist” fashion blogs.
I think they’ve caught on because they’re relatively easy, easier than the KonMari way of doing a big purge all at once. And they sound SO appealing: don’t get rid of anything, just separate your wardrobe out into a certain number of items you want to wear for the next 3 months, and hide the rest.
We like to put things in boxes…hide them away to deal with later. And the capsule wardrobe concept feeds into that, makes it seem like we can neatly segment our lives into sections and pieces.
When I was first flirting with minimalism, I couldn’t have been more in to the capsule wardrobe idea: 10 items for 2 weeks? I can do that!! 33 items for 3 months, no problem. This is just what I need to get my wardrobe under control. It’ll be so liberating! Except it wasn’t.
I couldn’t do it anyway. I did 10 items for about a week, and then I was bored; I love clothes too much to restrict myself that drastically. But it took trying such a challenge to see that. I also didn’t get the point. So what? so, what if I can live with 10 items for two weeks? That’s great, and will come in handy for traveling (and it does), but for life? No thanks.
And to be completely honest, none of the blogs featuring capsule wardrobes or similar that I read back then were written by women who seemed to be as into getting dressed as I am. I couldn’t relate.
Not that creating a capsule wardrobe of only a certain number of items can’t over time get you to a point where your entire wardrobe is in balance, where it works together, but in my opinion (and experience), it just delays your getting there.
The capsule wardrobe idea as it is now is really just about compartmentalizing your wardrobe into sections and setting arbitrary rules about numbers of items, making you feel better in the meantime while still not actually having a smaller overall wardrobe.
Capsule wardrobes also never felt right to me. They felt contrived, and too hyped, like something you’d see on Pinterest; images of a tidy hanging rack against a white wall (with a succulent in the corner of course, and a copy of Kinfolk on a wood table) full of nicely spaced out wooden hangers with drapey blouses, perfectly distressed jeans, and a couple pairs of shoes.
Appealing, yes, but realistic? Not so much. My life is messy, in so many ways, I don’t know about yours. I love clothes, and I like to play around with different silhouettes frequently; I will do fitted one day and drapey/oversized the next. I’m a very emotional dresser. And now, I actually plan my wardrobe this way, so that I’ll always have a good selection of shapes and styles in my closet to play with, depending on how I want to look any given day.
Of course, my lifestyle supports this easily, yours may not: I don’t have kids, I don’t work outside the home, and I don’t have fancy events to attend on the reg. Everything I own is pretty casual, and even those items that are slightly dressy, I can wear with sneakers or flat sandals, and incorporate them into a casual outfit if I feel like it.
My wardrobe is exactly where I want it to be now. Small, and all hanging right in front of me where I can see everything all the time
My wardrobe is exactly where I want it to be now. Small, and all hanging right in front of me where I can see everything all the time (my exercise and lounge clothes are in drawers). I do put my “exclusively” winter items in a clear box at the top of my closet to protect them when they’re not in use, but I don’t have a lot of those items. I keep my lightweight cashmere out in a small drawer all the time for plane trips or cool evenings.
I am always cycling things in and out of my wardrobe, not just seasonally. I shop when I need to replace something, or when I find something interesting I want to try. I usually have a few things ready to find replacements for, and when I do find a suitable replacement, I sell or donate the older item (I used to keep everything around, having multiples just in case…).
And that’s just the way I like it. I always knew I wanted to have everything all in one place. When I started my journey, I had two closets full of clothes and boxes and boxes more. Everything was spread out, and I had no idea where anything was. Of course I didn’t wear what was in boxes, or in my second closet, because I couldn’t see it; I didn’t know what I had. So when I purged, those were the first things to go, and most of them I took to donation sight unseen.
With all that said, maybe the capsule wardrobe concept WILL work for you. I don’t know you, I don’t know how you respond to compartmentalization, rules, or restrictions. I know myself. And I HATE rules. Unless they make sense. Arbitrary numbers of clothes never made sense to me. I have preferred to find my closet set point naturally – that place where it just feels like enough, whatever that number may be. Right now, it’s about 75 items, give or take a few.
Creating a capsule wardrobe may be a good way to tell exactly HOW minimalist you can go. It may help you define your style a bit better, if you have no idea. And maybe working with a smaller, capsule wardrobe for a time will get you in the mindset of purging and assembling a real working (complete) wardrobe. Maybe you don’t want to be more minimal at all, you just want to create segmented wardrobes for work/play/etc., – in that case, capsule wardrobes could work wonderfully for you.
As long as you’re conscious of why you’re doing it and what you hope to get out of it, not just doing it because your favorite blogger does, or because you don’t want to do the work of a bigger purge, creating a capsule wardrobe, or doing a challenge may be good for you.
Some ideas on how to effectively work with a capsule wardrobe:
- While you’re selecting your items for your capsule, really pay attention to why you DON’T select certain items. Can you go ahead an purge some of those items you don’t select if they’re seasonally appropriate? If so, go ahead and do that, don’t just put them away for later.
- As you’re wearing your capsule pieces, take note of how you feel when you wear them, and how they fit within your wardrobe as a whole. Are they worth hanging on to? why or why not?
- Does having a smaller wardrobe feel good to you? Or is it constricting? Is the number of items you chose appropriate for your lifestyle? How can you take the capsule wardrobe concept and extend it to your entire wardrobe?
- How can you make this work for you? What can you learn from it? Why is a capsule wardrobe appealing to you? Can you use it as a trial for getting to the hard work of having an overall minimal closet?
- Is it worthwhile for you to to have separate wardrobes for work & play? for travel & home? is that a better way to organize your closet/life?
- Try not to use it as an excuse to shop for new items; shop your closet, wear what you have, and while you’re wearing it, decide if it’s worth keeping it in your wardrobe
- Is this helping you identify your personal style? or what your personal style is NOT?
If you’re not into that, first, I’d recommend reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and then going for an anti-capsule wardrobe:
- Fewer things, nothing put away out of sight, unless you absolutely have to segregate heavy winter items, or exclusive summer items; everything in your closet & drawers – where you can see it – sorted however you want. You have a finite amount of closet/drawer space, use that, and nothing else, for your clothing.
- when you purchase, concentrate on buying items you love that are also practical for multiple seasons, keeping strictly summer items to a minimum – or strictly winter items for that matter. one coat, one swimsuit, etc., etc., pay attention to fabrics & quality construction
- Everything goes together – works for multiple seasons – different life events.
- it’s realistic – based on your life NOW, your size now, your financial means now. Not your fantasy life where you’re traveling every month and/or attending cocktail parties on Fridays. Your wardrobe is also not a holdout full of your “skinny” or “fat” jeans, it fits your size now.
Closet-purging and getting to minimal is not easy. It’s taken me quite a long time, and a lot of trial and error; I didn’t do it all at once. And I had to be ready for the really hard emotional work. But when I was ready, I was ready, and everything just fell into place. Maybe it’s not so emotional for you. Maybe you don’t struggle with the “good enough” issues I do, or the fear of deprivation, of never having enough, that has led to my over-shopping in the past. Maybe you’re not such an emotional dresser. Maybe you don’t really care that much about clothes, or about wearing different things every so often.
Whatever your situation is, why ever you’re interested in downsizing or trying a capsule wardrobe, do what works for you. Do what feels right to you. This is LIFE; it is not a test. There are no minimalist police giving out tickets for having more than 33 items in your closet at one time. Neither is anyone going to come around and pat you on the back for paring down your wardrobe. It’s all about you – how you want to feel about your closet. How you want your life to be. How can you get your wardrobe to that point where it’s not overwhelming to you anymore? That is what matters. That is the only thing that matters.
There are no minimalist police giving out tickets for having more than 33 items in your closet at one time.
However you get there is up to you. Try a capsule wardrobe, try purging slowly over time. And when that doesn’t work, read the life changing magic of tidying up and do it all at once. Then when you rebound, try something else. You’re allowed to make mistakes. In the scheme of things, they’re not the biggest mistakes you can possibly make, although they may seem like it when you look at all the clothes you donate with the price tags still on them.
Learn from your mistakes and move on. Learn and grow. Whatever it takes for you to keep learning and growing, do that. If that’s a capsule wardrobe, great, if it’s not, if it’s an altogether smaller, more cohesive wardrobe, then also great. You do you. Whoever that is.
(If you’re now doubting whether or not I’m a “real” minimalist, that’s fair, and I’ll tell you, I’m probably not, if your definition of a minimalist involves living with only a certain number of items of clothing, or under a strict set of rules. I define minimalism as living with less; having fewer, more meaningful things. Less is relative. Less to you may not be less to me, and vice versa. It doesn’t matter anyway. We must be who we are, and get to where we’re comfortable, not where some minimalist blogger tells us we must be – including me, of course!!)
See The Minimal Closet in the WSJ! Then read more in The Minimal Closet series:
OMG are you reading my mind? I have a similar post scheduled for next week. I love this post, as I do all the posts from your minimalism series. The honesty, the real-life aspect of your posts is something I feel is lacking from the capsule conversation that seems to be taking over the Internet these days. We’re not all the same person with the same lifestyle, clothing needs, or emotions regarding clothing so how can one concept work for all of us? TL:DR thank you Grechen for being a breath of fresh air in the blogosphere.
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I’m not a minimalist at all, in any aspect of my life (my husband would love to complain to you about my pantry 😉 but I adore your posts and following along as you discover what works for you!
My goal is a cohesive and fun closet that feels right for me – where I have attractive and appropriate clothing for my needs. And I love the concept of a capsule for packing (it’s the only way travel carry-on) but as a way to manage my entire wardrobe – no thanks.
I get really good ideas on mix & matching and new combos or uses of accessories when I read blogs (or pins or polyvore sets) from people who use capsules, though. So even though my goals & needs are different from theirs -or from yours – I’m still here because I like to learn & see what you’re going to wear or write about today 🙂
Grechen Reiter says
haha! great minds 🙂 can’t wait to read your post…
Grechen Reiter says
kelly, you’re a pro at taking random things and picking out the pieces that work for you. that’s what it’s all about. not following some strict regimen, or rules or workbook. unless that’s REALLY your thing. it’s definitely not mine. ..
Thank you for this post. I keep thinking I “should” do a wardrobe capsule-at least try it for a month and I can’t seem to find the desire or motivation to do it. I have worked really hard at paring down my closet and although I still have quite a way to go in many aspects it is getting better. I feel it is easier to get dressed because (most) everything in it is sparking joy, if it doesn’t when I put it one I get rid of it. But the capsule idea actually makes me feel stressed and tired. I could relate to what you wrote about being an emotional dresser and wanting to play with different silhouettes. The idea of a capsule to me seems a bit stifling. And since I wasn’t participation in the lastest challenge I felt like I wasn’t doing my part to be a good minimalist. So thank you again for this post-it is exactly what I needed. I love this series.
This is LIFE, it’s not a test:). Or a theory. love your sensible thinking.
Lisa´s last blog post ..The Serenity Of Flowering Dogwood
I often feel I “should” do a capsule wardrobe challenge, but the idea of restriction is awful for me. The only time I have actually tried to create a functioning capsule is for traveling, and I failed miserably!! The konmari method has been very eye opening as it has changed the way I look at my possessions. I feel much less guilt over not loving my things and now I am able to release them easily. I am also using the ideas of Debbie Roes, the Recovering Shopaholic, with her “love it wear it” challenge. Now when I put something on and I don’t feel that it is deserving of a place in my wardrobe, out it goes. This is after my 12 bag konmari purge! I will never be a minimalist, but my goal is not to be overwhelmed by my things. It will be interesting to see where my final closet set point will be.
I very much consider myself a minimalist, but even I’ve never bought into the capsule wardrobe mentality. While I’m a huge fan of Courtney Carver, her P333 plan never appealed to me. I don’t care for restrctions for restrictions sake. Makes me rebel & question authority.
I pretty much tune out any mention of capsule wardrobes these days as it’s just the latest in the trend series. Remember earlier this year when every blogger got wrapped around the “project pan” axle, then the next wave was all about giving up stuff for Lent. Nevermind if they aren’t even a member of a religion that even recognizes Lent. Now it’s capsule wardrobes. 2 months from now it’ll be something else.
I’ve been doing a form of capsule wardrobes for three seasons now and I’ve found it helpful to figure out what clothes/styles suit me and that I enjoy wearing. I am now looking at just having a normal all season wardrobe transferring what I have learnt over this time.
What I have been thinking is that these forms of capsule wardrobes create a generic style of dressing and clothing items. It is like a form of IKEA clothing – everyone has a Breton striped top, chambray shirt, boyfriend jeans, ankle boots etc etc. The fun parts of clothing, like different proportions and different styles within ones own wardrobe as you mention, are diminished or absent. I’ve missed playing with my wardrobe!!
I enjoy reading about other people’s capsules and the KonMari method although I agree there is no one size fits all – its about what works for you. I am a work in progress and am trying to find the correct set-point for me. I enjoy color and variety too much to ever go to a restricted capsule – black isn’t even on my radar which seems to be at the core of most capsules. This past winter I realized I have a uniform of sorts, and it really simplified things for me – I didn’t have those “what do I wear today” dilemmas. My wardrobe is definitely much smaller and my shopping much less than years past, but I’m not quite there yet with respect to spring/summer. Currently we have temperature fluctuations of 30′ or more in one day, and I need clothes to function for home, work (fortunately, primarily business casual), and for social events, much more so than the rest of the year, so it’s more challenging to find the right pieces without going overboard. Thank you for this post and keeping it real.
O.k., I think I’m starting to realize that my issue is with capsules is: rules.
There are so many things in my life which I don’t have control over and that I don’t enjoy. So I think the idea of imposing yet more rules from outside myself is just too much for my psyche to handle!
I also think that I don’t really need a “challenge” when it comes to my wardrobe. I just want to love my wardrobe, and for me, that means experimenting and having choices and figuring out why I love what I love.
I have read the Kondo book but I haven’t tried the Kon Mari method. Just recently I am seeing more and more positive reviews from people who are actually doing it, so I think I might give it a go this weekend with my clothes. (I’m a bit scared!)
I have been loving blogs on capsule wardrobes because they projected a serenity that was missing, a calmness that I didn’t feel when I loked at my clothes.
However I was mystified by what Tania mentions, this IKEA dressing, going forward into each season buying, buying, analysing and future dressing for three months. It got too hard and I was sad as I have always struggled with my style and the language of clothing.
I read a post on Bridgette Rays site that suggested wearing your regular clothes for the day then taking one item and build on that for the next day’s outfit. So I did. And I stopped at less that 33 items. And it’s been a season of wearing and rewearing those clothes.
Huh. Guess I am a capsule dresser after all.
Best of all? I don’t own a chambray shirt and I don’t feel the need to – I have actually managed to stop myself buying items I like because they didn’t fit my current capsule and I wouldn’t wear them literally the next day.
I should add that I am deliberatly shifting from a frugal mentality (saving clothes) to a minimalist one, so until the next season comes and I reuse my capsule that I have stored (in a box in my wardrobe) I haven’t been donating my other clothes. I like them and don’t see the sense in donating everything only to spend more time shopping for what I already had, especially as fashion is so cyclical.
It will happen though, already for this upcoming season (winter here in Australia) I can feel a shift in what doesn’t work right now and what will be going out the door – rather than back into the second wardrobe.
I accidentally built a “post-partum” capsule wardrobe- my fun little name for the small portion of clothes that fit me after I had my baby last winter. Those first few weeks were rough.. sleepless nights AND nothing to wear but sweatpants and maternity clothes?! As the weeks went by and things began to fit again, I realized none of the things that fit “went together.” Welp. That’s when I found your site. I purged everything- except my beloved ADD Down winter coat with the sinched waist (I’m in NY, coats abound in my closet!), my prada black pants from the 90s that make all my wrongs right, and a very special dvf color block blazer that is too tight on my arms right now. I lovingly packed those items away for the dream of finding my goal weight again, sold or donated the rest, and stared down the sea of black t shirts and oversized silk button downs. I slowly built back a collection with the help of my favorite consignment shops and ebay- slowly but surely I built my capsule of preloved Theory pants in every color, Vince everything, a few red dresses of course (Grechen, you would look stunning in red!) and Eileen Fisher’s Green Eileen finds (her exclusive consignment shop- so lucky to have one near me!) Right now, I love my bigger size closet and everything in it. I can grab and go. I rely a lot on accessories and shoes as I play with different looks (I’d love to see more jewelry on here- that Margot Wolf necklace is great- more, more!) For now, I’m a post partum capsulite and I love it!
Grechen Reiter says
thanks for sharing this becky! your example is a great one of when capsule wardrobes actually work (in my opinion) – for life events such as pregnancy and body changes…
re your request for more jewelry, i’m working on that, actually!! i know my jewelry wardrobe is severely lacking…
and i may look good in red, but i can’t remember the last time i tried anything red on. really. i’ll have to find something to try and see what happens 🙂
Grechen Reiter says
thanks for sharing this nicolle – i’m actually very interested in that idea from bridgette rays – i’ll have to look into it more.
i’m trying to shift away from getting rid of everything as quickly as i have been too – not that i miss anything specifically, but i’d like to keep the things i love, even if i don’t wear them very often, in case i’d like to sometime. and now that my wardrobe is much smaller, i can keep things without sacrificing space like i was…
Grechen Reiter says
yes…i love your thoughts on this!!
i’m not so good at this all the time, but i do believe in choosing your battles, and this isn’t going to be one of them.
let us know how your experience is with kon mari when you’re finished. honestly, i’m having a bit of backsliding because i can’t be bothered to fold my clothes nicely when i put them back in their drawers. it’s a mess in there!!!
Grechen Reiter says
ha! love the IKEA analogy. it’s perfect.
what a great use of the capsule wardrobe idea, though, transferring your new found knowledge into your ENTIRE wardrobe…
Grechen Reiter says
i felt the same thing (re: guilt) after reading marie kondo – it made it much easier for me to release things.
and i’ve been doing the same thing as debbie with regard to wearing things – it really helps when you’re conscious of how something makes you feel WHILE you’re wearing it. and you wear it with the EXPRESS purpose of figuring that out, and whether ot not the item still deserves a place in your closet…i’ve loved doing that.
The “learn from your mistakes and move on” has been a great gift to me. The blog and going through the KonMari method has helped me create some breathing room and ease up on any guilt I am naturally inclined to feel. Like Nicolle, I’m drawn to the serenity of the minimalist approach to things. But I don’t do well with the restrictions/rules…though I can see how the capsule approach might be freeing and even expansive for someone who, for whatever reason, is starting from scratch.
What’s super WEIRD though is that I went to my closet and counted the number of items that I have worn from my wardrobe this year, leaving out tank tops (because I wear one every day under whatever I’m wearing) and two nights out when I wore something dressy for a couple hours. 30 items in rotation. What? I would not ever want these to be the only items in my closet, so I have no idea why I abandon my other pieces and wear these particular ones over and over.
What is also interesting is that I can see that Kondo-ing my wardrobe and house is something I’ll be ready to do again in the fall. It’s as if I cleared enough space to see what I have…and now that the terror purging and living without my things is over, I think I can have another go at it.
I Konmari’d my clothes, bags, and shoes yesterday. I was starting with what I would consider a small-ish wardrobe, but I ended up filling 4 kitchen trash bags to dispose of: 1 of trash, 2 for donations, and 1 to sell.
Here’s a very weird fun fact: 1 have 32 items of clothing remaining! And I need a dress for a wedding coming up, so that will be 33 items in my daily wardrobe! (This doesn’t include undergarments, sleepwear, or workout clothing.)
Perhaps 33 really is the magic number, LOL.
Seriously, though, I will probably add some more pieces. I need more jeans, and I would like a little bit more variety in my tops and sweaters, so I’ll probably add a few over the next year.
I did keep a handful of things that didn’t “spark joy”: one outfit for formal meetings, and a couple of coats that I don’t particularly like, but I will need to hang on to them until they can be replaced.
All in all, I’m very happy with the result. My closet is neater and I have a much clearer idea of what I want to purchase going forward. I do think I’ll probably need to do this again in about 6 months. (That probably wouldn’t be necessary if I could afford to go ahead and replace the items that I need but don’t particularly like.)
I also sorted through my beauty products and got rid of quite a bit. I couldn’t bring myself to throw out a few nearly-new skin care products, but I’ve made a committment to use them up before buying more. Again, I’ll probably go back and do a more thorough purge in 6 months. I know that’s not what the book recommends, but I’m o.k. with doing it this way.
Bottom line, I’m really, really happy with the results and I’m going to continue going through the rest of my stuff!
Super interesting post! I find the whole capsule wardrobe thing very helpful. I don’t mind rules and restrictions (I’d say I am a person who thrives with structure), but to me that’s not the point (although it may be for some). For me it’s really about paring down and re-thinking what we really NEED in life, but equally important, learning how to dress. What seems to matter is not whether one follows the rules strictly, but whether the whole process of thinking in these terms helps you live with less, and feel better about getting dressed in the morning.. Clothing is an area of life where I’ve been excessive. In my 20s and 30s, I amassed a large collection of clothes that didn’t coordinate well, and that left me feeling like I had no clue as to how to get dressed in the morning. It has taken me years of hard work and research to develop a concept of what kind of wardrobe really makes me happy, confident, and at ease with getting dressed. The research part has more to do with finding quality clothing that doesn’t fall apart quickly, but that’s another story. Anyway, I think what’s important is the inspiration these “capsule wardrobe” discussions provide for us to head in the right direction, whether we follow all the rules to a T, or whether we just use the idea as a way to weed out what isn’t working or making us happy, and examine our whole cultural tendency toward excessive consumption in general. To be sure, crappy quality clothing drives some of the latter – I once met a woman in New York City who was Russian and who told me nobody in Russia when she lived there would ever even dream of having more than one umbrella, and that people kept their umbrellas for years, cleaning and drying them off after every use. Umbrellas didn’t fall apart after 2–3 uses the way they do here. It’s too easy for us to just go out and buy crap if it falls apart because so much is so cheap and poorly made. Anyway, I digress. Suffice it to say that I feel extremely liberated, surprisingly so, by purging, as Grechen puts it, all the stuff in my closet that did not fit my lifestyle, that did not make me feel great, did not fit well, etc. etc. I have no idea how many items I have total, I just know that it is a lot less. And I am no longer scared to just have and wear simple pieces — I don’t need every item of clothing I own to be “interesting” or have some crazy pattern or whatever. I am much more appreciative of the beauty of a simple cotton t-shirt or a good pair of well-fitting jeans or a nice leather jacket. Ahh and don’t even get me started on shoes — to me shoes are the thing that have declined the most in quality since I was a kid (in the 70s/80s). I am absolutely appalled at how hard it is to find good shoes. Anyway, the process for me continues. It is somewhat long-term, as I continually evaluate what I have and push myself to further define what I need, letting go of ever more stuff as I get a better and better idea of what works for me. It’s a PROCESS for sure…
Melissa Keyser says
I love the idea of capsule wardrobes, and have completed a few “programs” designed to help create one. I don’t like to experiment or be creative with clothes, I just want things to fit well, so the idea of limited pieces that all go together sounds amazing for me. My problem is my lifestyle has a range of activities (I might be hiking, digging postholes or butchering a chicken in the morning, then go out for happy hour drinks with girlfriends in the evening, or lecture or class during the day, and wine taste and baby showers on weekends), and I can’t find cohesion between the two. And while I don’t live in a 4-season area, I change my clothes frequently during the day to be comfortable with the temperature. I’m freezing at 60 degrees, but super hot at 78.
Sew Ruthie says
Yes I have found lots of things useful at http://bridgetteraes.com thanks for the reminder.
I like capsules particualrly for travel and have a business wear variation for travelling for work and a hiking/travel version for vacations (good for hand luggage only flights). However when I get back from trips with a limited wardrobe I launder everything and cannot bear to wear any of it for several weeks as I’m so bored with those pieces.
I have an office based job which needs outfits with a jacket and live in a seasonal climate so I do swap clothes over putting the linen away in winter and the wool away in summer, leaving the all season stuff in place.
I tried an approach which included putting a loop of ribbon on the hanger when I wore something, and putting clean laundry away in a different drawer this helped me get rid of things I don’t prefer.
One thing I have found useful has been developing some ‘beauty bundles’ as Brenda Kinsel calls them, co-ordinated accessories which add pop to otherwise plain outfits. Inside Out Style gave some great examples of this a few weeks ago.
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I absolutely agree! Great post!
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Mette Balslev Greve says
I also like the idea of capsules, but only only only use them for travelling. In the beginning I was unsure about why the idea was intriguing, but the thought of actually doing it was horrifying, and I came to the same conclusion as you. It would be so boring and my wardrobe is small (yes, I have it all in one place and can see everything), I would have to wear some pieces a lot and others not at all for these three months, and it just didn’t make sense to wear out some and keep others unworn. Great post – saw it at Recoveringshopaholic :-).
Mette Balslev Greve´s last blog post ..Summer dreaming, Zara
Grechen Reiter says
thank you so much for your comment! i’ve just gotten sucked down the rabbit hole of your blog…i am very intrigued by your program to create random outfits! i wonder if i could make something like that work for me – maybe not with a computer program (although my husband is pretty proficient at that…), but just by grouping like items together and then choosing a top and then bottom without giving it much though. could be interesting…
Mette Greve says
I know a lady who does just that! She made a list of tops and one of bottoms and then she just started from the top of both. I recommend using a spreadsheet, you can actually do random numbers in Excel and not just start from the top. I am seriously considering making a program for all of you to use, I’m just very unsure what the best way of going about it would be…. I’m in the thinking phase :-).
Mette Greve´s last blog post ..Summer dreaming, Zara
Still playing catch-up here, but BOY, am I glad I didn’t miss this one! Thank you for defining for me what a capsule wardrobe is and really explaining why I keep hearing so much about them. Honestly, when you said, “It looks good on Pinterest,” I felt like a lightbulb turned on in my head. Yes! That’s it. Which is why it won’t work for me, other than travel. Because I really enjoy fashion and shopping, I love to scan over Pinterest for “Travel Capsules” and then create my own on Polyvore. It does help me plan my outfits for a long weekend or so.
And I’m still doing the hard emotional work of purging my closet[s] and making mistakes in the process. The biggest? Thinking I have to find the “perfect” item that’s on my list and get it right away to fill the hole. But it’s just temporary…and never quite right. There are a lot of returns happening in my house right now!
I agree with you about arbitrary rules not making for a good lifestyle — but I do think they can help you achieve certain habits that make up a certain lifestyle. I practiced a seasonal capsule wardrobe for 3 months and, although it was not originally planned this way, it saw me through my entire pregnancy. Through experimenting I learned that I liked having my entire wardrobe hanging before me in my closet, I like having “all seasons” available to me to dress, and now that I’ve developed a more minimalist mind set I’m ready to loosen the “arbitrary rules” reigns. More and more I think of the word season to have a different meaning than that of fall, spring, winter or summer. I think of it more as a time in one’s life: mine currently being motherhood. And maybe more specifically childbearing and postpartum. I’ve developed the current version of my all seasons capsule (as I call it) to be as maternity, postpartum and nursing friendly as possible — but I obviously am not going to keep my favorite maternity jeans in my closet if I fit back into the jeans who’s place they were holding, right? And since I’m up in size right now because I’m only 4 months postpartum I wanted to hold onto my favorite pair of Levi white jeans (who also have a postpartum placeholder) because I will fit back into them next year. They are of good quality and were bought for the long haul a long time ago. I’m not interested in willy-nilly buying, getting rid of and then replacing clothes I know align with my style and will eventually wear again simply because they don’t fit into my current season of life right now. To me that is not minimalism, it is consumerism. Those kinds of actions do not fit into my goal of minimizing the stuff in my life AND the amount of waste I throw out into the world.
I don’t know why your blog is called the Minimal Closet when you are anti-capsule wardrobe and prefer quality over quantity. Unless you are referring to minimalism in the sense that you buy less but better quality and you don’t shop that often. From this post, I think you probably do shop often. Some people don’t shop often and don’t feel the need to shop often. I think you are making sweeping generalizations. There are plenty of bloggers and women in real-life who care about their appearance and care just as much about getting dressed as you do. I feel like you are calling them slobs. One’s style may fit a capsule wardrobe, it doesn’t mean that they are dressed slovenly. I got the impression you were calling them boring (maybe you are, I don’t know). Bloggers like unfancy, Jennifer L Scott and Inspiroue all do their own version of the capsule wardrobe and I always enjoy their different styles and outfits. They also address social concerns such as reducing textile waste, sustainability (clothing/texting practices, disposal, and consumerism).
There is more to a capsule wardrobe than shrinking down your closet for a quarter (3 months). A capsule wardrobe is all about picking out things that work for you — I don’t know why you think it does not mean that. I myself do not have a capsule wardrobe, because it currently does not fit my lifestyle (I wear many hats in my life). I have taken the concepts (buying less) and culling my wardrobe to find an even balance. I think it is awesome how a lot of women are really creative.
A capsule wardrobe is not for everyone. If it doesn’t fit your lifestyle or someone else’s doesn’t mean it is not right for someone else. I think a capsule wardrobe forces you to evaluate your spending habits, what you put your money towards, and refining your style. A capsule wardrobe helps you identify what you are spending your money on and what you can be spending your money on. Your blog seems to discuss this at length.
I think this is a good application of the capsule wardrobe. I am not there yet, but I would like to be one day. I am looking for pieces that can be worn to all events. I am in my late-2os and I want to save money without sacrificing fashion and my bank account. I have found excellent timeless pieces (that are not boring and are new takes on classic pieces) that I can wear again and again.
It is a process and some folks don’t like to do a process. It is too hard and they don’t have the self-discipline. If it is right for you and it works for you, go for it!
Elizabeth Stewart says
This is just what I needed to read today! I’ve been getting really stressed out by trying to compose a “capsule wardrobe” out of my clothes collection, but now I realize that I not only don’t need to do this, I actually don’t want to! Like you, Grechen, I’m an emotional person, and I like to dress for the day according to how I feel, just as much as what I’ll be doing. Again like you, I have no small children (mine are grown and gone) and I too work from home. So I can dress the way I feel each day. And I love having a collection of clothes to express my moods, from vintage velvets to Edwardian lace to modern tailored blazers! I can still fit it all into one wardrobe (well, almost), putting away the purely seasonal items (summer’s very thin cottons, winter’s thick woollen coat). And this “random” approach works for me. Of course, it’s not really random, because everything reflects my own tastes, and that’s how it’s coordinated (or not). So, a big thank you for this post. I’ll be reading more.
I don’t get it either. It’s like, hey, take 33 of your favorite clothes, then wear them over and over and let them wear out prematurely and then all you’ll be left with are your less favorite clothes or the need to go shopping. NO THANKS.
I’m so glad to have found your site! I’ve been researching capsule wardrobes and while I’m not totally into the concept I was kind of shocked none of them I’ve found so far were that Eco/fair trade/ sustainability based. Your site has some nice minimal wardrobe updates on brands I like 🙂
Tomorrows outfit says
Yikes..I never really thought about it..but you are right.
Great wardrobe suggestions..I have way too many clothes, get overwhelmed and don’t know what to wear…I need to purge! Thanks for all the suggestions.
I’ve noticed that too…it’s not like it’s necessary for a capsule wardrobe though. I could only take two suitcases with me to college, so I made a little capsule wardrobe out of a pencil skirt, some grey skinny jeans, and some favorite tops (no Breton stripes or chambray to be found!). It definitely helps to be able to identify the essentials of your own style, and then incorporate those.
If you like a lot of options though, I say power to you. Minimalism isn’t for everyone. I just like not having to think about what to wear.
Such a great post, thank you so much! I can relate to a lot of what you’re saying. I am currently struggling a but with keeping my wardrobe realistic, and your tip — it’s realistic – based on your life NOW, your size now, your financial means now. Not your fantasy life where you’re traveling every month and/or attending cocktail parties on Fridays. — it was just what I needed to hear!