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

my-first-capsule-wardrobe

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?

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4 Ways Georgia O’Keeffe Inspires Me

During my last visit home to Cleveland, I got the chance to attend the Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern exhibit. It was the last weekend of the show, unfortunately. Before seeing it, I never knew much about her other than she lived in the southwest and was famous for her big flower paintings. I’m embarrassed to admit, it wasn’t a must-see show for me. As a Cleveland expat, my home visits are planned down to the hour, making sure I spend time with everyone. I have to choose my extracurricular activities wisely. But after seeing a clip of it on the news featuring some of her handmade dresses and repurposed clothing, I changed my tune. The show went into much more detail than just her famous flower paintings. It showed how her approach to life and art were very much the same. The minimalist aesthetic you see in her paintings is a reflection of her everyday sensibilities, from the way she dressed to the way she designed her home. Her modern approach to life still seems relevant today and left me feeling inspired and ready to follow her cue.

Here were just a few of my favorite takeaways:

1.    If you can’t find the clothes you want, alter what’s available, or better yet, make them yourself.

This really spoke to me. I’ve had the desire to make my own clothing for a long time. It’s only because of lack of time and skill that I haven’t. I have altered or repurposed clothing I found at the thrift store, dying something to make it a more pleasing color or having something hemmed for a better fit. Either option is much more sustainable than our current state of fast fashion.

Silk dresses she made herself.

A button down shirt that she altered to have a straight collar.

2.    If that doesn’t work, borrow from the boys.

This is something every style blogger and fashionista can relate to. We’ve been borrowing from the boys for a long time: boyfriend jeans, oversized button downs, hats, shoes, etc. But, O’Keeffe seemed to be one of the first. The difference, of course, is she was doing it during a time when it wasn’t in vogue. Such a boss!

3.    Find what works for you and stick with it.

In a time of capsule wardrobes and uniform dressing, this is another area where she was ahead of her time. Toward the end of her career, she had two outfits she wore when being photographed: wrap dresses and pant suits. When putting together my capsule wardrobe for spring, the guide I was using said, “Identify some of your uniforms.” Because there is efficiency in knowing what looks good on you. You don’t have to waste time or money obsessing over what doesn’t, giving you more time to do everything else. O’Keeffe clearly reveled in this.

4.    Nature is a great source for inspiration and materials, especially home décor.

This is probably my favorite photo from the exhibit. During her time in the southwest, O’Keeffe let its nature and landscape inspire more than just her art. Animal skeletons were used as subjects, but also as home décor. I feel like faux skulls have become really popular recently. Finding the real ones in the wild seems like a much cooler story and a lot cheaper.