Capsule Wardrobe-Why?

Deciding what to wear

My usual approach to wardrobe storage has always been: every six months, pull out clothes for the cold or warm seasons, depending on time of year. Take out everything that will likely fit and that I may enjoy wearing.

Fall  capsule wardrobe of neutral colored sweaters
Photo by Alyssa Strohmann on Unsplash

Starting this summer, I have begun to do things differently, choosing 30-40 pieces of clothing (including shoes and boots) that fit well and work well together.

Deciding what not to wear

The big change here has been profound: I plan my wardrobe in a truly seasonal way now. Instead of cold and hot weather, I plan for: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall.

Even though the PNW weather can be volatile, it is seasonally appropriate. In the fall, the temps will remain in the 40s-70s. I can leave heavy, cold weather clothes in bins until winter, and I can pack summer gear away.

The 3 month wardrobe is a game changer. I can have a much smaller wardrobe because I can base it on weather needs. No need for wool yet. But I can also pack away shorts.

Pastel capsule wardrobe- clothing hanging on hangers on a rack
Photo by Micheile Henderson @micheile010 // Visual Stories [nl] on Unsplash

When it is time for winter clothes, I will take them out and see them with a fresh perspective because I haven’t spent the previous three months seeing them in my closet as I passed them by to grab the lighter weight item of clothing.

When I worked in retail, by the time things got to clearance, they didn’t look desirable anymore because I had been seeing them for months.

This happens in our closets as well. At the end of each season, I get to “shop in my garage!” and find some old favorites. Now I just get a whole new wardrobe!

The difference between 120 and 33-40 items, when there are 120 items in a closet, it is hard to decipher what is there, what fits well, and what works with what.

You might think, well, why does it matter? If you have the same amount of clothes, why does it matter if they are all in your closet or packed away, since they are all taking up space in your home?

Fight decision fatigue

I will tell you why-decision fatigue. Having to look through dozens of items of clothing each day and figure out what works with what and how each piece fits, and which accessories to choose is exhausting. When your wardrobe has fewer than 3 dozen items of clothing and they all fit correctly and work well together, it is incredibly freeing. You have reduced the clothing decision sector of your brain to free it up to overthink about something else! Like breakfast!

Save money

When I see clothes, I know I don’t need to buy them. I have a very small and specific list.

This saves me from randomly buying clothes throughout the year. Wander a thrift shop, see an Old Navy ad, shop shop shop! Now I have a list, envisioning what I want things to look like and filling in gaps. Check that clothes are in good repair at the beginning of the season and go from there.

For the fall, I have chosen to purchase:

  • a black wrap dress (Banana Republic, true wrap, thrift shop, $8!!)
  • 2 pairs of tights (snag tights. They actually fit my long legs-$12/pair)
  • White button down shirt (Claiborne, thrift shop, can’t remember the price, but less than $10).

That is all. A far cry from earlier days when a single thrift visit could be $100 worth of clothes. “But they are so inexpensive!” I would say. Paying little attention to the total bill or the cost of the psychic toll of too much stuff.

Exposed brick wall with a neon sigh that says "Be Reasonable" in all caps. In front of the wall are racks with shoes and clothes
Photo by Victor on Unsplash

Save time

Before I began my capsule wardrobe, my closet and shelves were filled with things I never wore. I had things in the following categories:

  • Out of season items that I kept out *just in case*
  • Clothes that don’t quite fit
  • Things I like but don’t fit my lifestyle
    • This one is quite a problem in my life. We went to Block Island for our honeymoon (many moons ago), which is in New England. Beautiful but quite chilly in spring. I had wanted to take a tropical vacation for our honeymoon and had purchased clothes with that intention. In the end, we didn’t go tropical, but I still packed my tropical clothes. I suppose I thought I could will it to be true by the sheer force of my intentional wardrobe. That did not work out and I had a very uncomfortable experience!
  • Tops that don’t match any bottoms
  • Skirts that don’t match any tops
  • Pants that I would never wear because I don’t like wearing dress pants
  • Clothes that fit but don’t look good on me
  • Items that are absolutely gorgeous but have material that I don’t like

Extra clothes=Extra time spent

Any given morning that I tried to wear something beyond jeans and a t-shirt, I would have to rifle through all the wrong clothes to find something right. Because there were so many wrong things, I could never remember what was what. Even in t-shirt land, I would have the tees I liked stacked up with tees I didn’t like, and would mess up the pile looking for the right one.

Now, i know everything in my wardrobe. It all fits, looks good, and most of it matches each other, so I can even get dressed in the dark and come out okay!

Woman in oversized sweater standing against a wall holding a lantern.
Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

In another post, I will detail HOW I choose what clothes to put it my wardrobe. But now you have an idea WHY I chose to limit the clothes in my wardrobe.

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