4 Capsule Wardrobe Myths Debunked

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After posting about my capsule wardrobe, I realized many people still have misconceptions about them. Some view them as too restrictive or boring, but that doesn’t have to be the case. A capsule wardrobe should be defined by a person’s lifestyle and preferences, so there should be a variety of ways to approach one. Here are some common capsule wardrobe myths debunked.

  1. You can’t add new things. A capsule wardrobe isn’t about not adding anything new. You will always have new clothing needs and your personal style will continue to evolve as you get older. It’s about adding fewer new items. You can do this by only adding the clothing you truly love and need. So that means you need to learn how to walk away from clothing that just isn’t the right fit for your life and style. My office recently changed the dress code so we can wear jeans to work every day. I’ll still buy work wear pieces for days I want to dress up, but I’ll certainly be adding fewer pieces like that to my wardrobe now.
  2. You can’t add trendy clothes. Trendy clothes should not be off limits. Especially if a particular trend really works with your style. Plus, trendier items can sometimes give your wardrobe a little facelift, making it look more current. And some trends stick around. Skinny jeans have been a trend since I was in college. That was over 10 years ago, and I don’t see that trend going away anytime soon. Just don’t let trendy clothes dominate your wardrobe.
  3. You have to stick to a black, white, and gray color palette. Once again, this is something that should be determined by your personal style and what actually looks good on you. You can use whatever color palette you want as long as the items of clothing are easy to mix and match. You can even have a few items that aren’t easily interchangeable as long as you wear them and find them useful. I gravitate to warm colors. I would say my main colors tend to be pinks, grays, and blues, mostly navy. Occasionally I throw in some greens. These are all colors that work together.
  4. You have to stick to a certain number. There is no right number. We all have different lifestyles and needs. Some people need a really dressy wardrobe for work and a casual wardrobe for home. Others can blend the two. That will inform the number of items that’s right for you. Like I said, my office has become more casual, so now that my work wardrobe is more like my after-work wardrobe, I’ll probably need fewer work wear items, causing my particular number to decrease.

Lastly, it’s ok if your capsule wardrobe isn’t exactly what you want it to be right away. It takes time to develop personal style and figure out what’s right for you. I think the best part of a capsule wardrobe is that it helps you try to define what your style is and hone in on that, instead of wasting time and resources on clothing that isn’t you.

My First Capsule Wardrobe: How I Did It and Why I Loved It

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At the beginning of the year, I decided to try a capsule wardrobe for the first time. It was winter and I wanted to save money, so I thought why not? Here’s how I approached it and what I loved about it.

If you’ve never heard of a capsule wardrobe, here’s a quick definition from Wikipedia:

“A capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.”

The idea is to have a smaller wardrobe, consisting mostly of interchangeable pieces that stick to a coordinating color scheme.

I arrived at the idea of trying a capsule wardrobe for two reasons:

  1. I want to de-prioritize stuff
  2. I want to further define my personal style

I thought a capsule wardrobe would be perfect for accomplishing both of these things because it’s all about living with less. To live with less, you have to determine what is truly important and essential to you. In deciding what works and what doesn’t, you end up with only the clothing that suits you and your life ­— a wardrobe that is perfectly tailored to your unique style.

How I Did It

I mostly followed the steps outlined by blogger Caroline Joy in her blog post “How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe”. I augmented the steps below to create a process that works for me.

  1. Narrow down your wardrobe to the essentials. I divided everything into three piles: “Yeses”, “Maybes”, and “Nos”. The in-season “Yeses” stayed in my dressing room/closet in plain sight. The out-of-season “Yeses” went into storage along with the “Maybes”. And the “Nos” went to Goodwill. At the end of the season, I took my “Maybes” out of storage to reevaluate if I ever even missed them. I did not even think about them once! So they are going to Goodwill.
  2. Wear only your capsule wardrobe for the entire season. This part is pretty easy actually and forces you to be creative with what you have. Having all of my capsule items in full view all season helped a lot, so closet organization is critical. Hide anything out of season, so it’s not distracting, but don’t rule those items out as a possibility. They’re your clothes, so you might as well wear them, right?
  3. Plan and shop for next season’s capsule wardrobe. Ok, so I did this a little differently than Caroline Joy. She recommends buying for next season two weeks before it starts. I think that would have majorly stressed me out if I tried to do that. It takes me a while to find clothing that I truly love. There is a lot of research of different brands and styles and trial and error to find exactly what I’m looking for. Plus most brands start promoting next season’s styles pretty early. So I did this part throughout the current season and took my time. I do think it’s good to set a budget for these items. This will help to curtail any unnecessary, spur of the moment purchases. Just make sure you’re not continuing to purchase for the current season. That sort of defeats the whole purpose.

What I Love About It

I’ve been using a capsule wardrobe for the last three months, and I love it for a few reasons:

  1. It saves time. With fewer choices, I spend less time worrying about what to wear every day.
  2. It makes wardrobe gaps obvious. It’s easy to see what you’re missing when you narrow your closet down to only the essentials.
  3. It keeps things organized. I’ve moved to a system where my capsule wardrobe for the season is the only thing I see in my main closet/dressing room. Everything else is put in storage. It makes for a much more organized dressing room.
  4. It encourages creativity. With fewer options to choose from, I am forced to get creative if I don’t want to repeat the same outfits over and over again.
  5. It breaks shopping into seasonal chunks. Purchasing with a certain season in mind is so much more manageable. It’s also much more strategic. I think about my true clothing needs for the next three months, taking into weather conditions, events, etc. That way I won’t be rushing around before a big event to find the perfect dress or standing in the rain wondering why I don’t own a hooded rain coat.

Have you ever tried a capsule wardrobe? What do you think? Would you ever try one?