One thing I have not missed during the COVID-19 pandemic is having to manage my wardrobe choices for work and play. Now that life is starting to get back to normal, I found myself facing more occasions to wear actual outfits, and the days of my virtual meetings with business on top and a party on the bottom were ending.
The first time I heard of a capsule wardrobe, I incorrectly thought it described all the clothes in my closet that were outdated and stuck back in time. A capsule wardrobe is actually based on the idea that you pare down your clothing and accessories to a minimal number of essential items on a seasonal basis. There are many reasons for starting a capsule wardrobe, but mine was simple: fewer clothes to choose from means fewer decisions that I would have to make. My 2021 mantra is simplify, and this was one big way to do that.
I started creating my capsule wardrobe with a few simple rules.
- Clothing and accessories will be switched out seasonally four times per year.
- The wardrobe will include tops, bottoms, jackets, jewelry, purses, and shoes.
- The wardrobe will consist of no more than 30 items.
- The capsule wardrobe does not include underwear, bras, workout gear, and what I call my house clothes, which are t-shirts that I wear around my house that no one should ever have to see (my favorites are “Fun Fact: I Don’t Care” and “Having a Weird Mom Builds Character”).
- If I buy a new item for my wardrobe, that means that I have to get rid of an item.
- No cheating.
After I set my rules, the next thing I did was buy a few plastic tubs for storage. I labeled three of them for each off-season of clothing that I was putting away for later. Next, I sorted my closet into different buckets of clothing: keep for a capsule wardrobe, donate, throw away, save for a later season. This does take some time, and I found myself often thinking if my clothing brought me joy, and a lot of it did, but a decision had to be made. At the end of my cleaning-out session, I had reduced my closet and dresser drawers to only about one-quarter of what it was initially.
I also took this opportunity to do some serious research on my go-to website, Pinterest. I looked up current trends, how to dress cool in your 40s (I really searched for that), and how best to dress for my body shape. I returned to my closet to officially pick my 30 items. This was hard, and I still owned things that I was wearing before I got married 15 years ago. I keep thinking these items will come back into style, but that doesn’t even consider how faded, stretched out, and dusty they were all these years later.
You should think about what you like to wear the most. For me, I pretty much own the same jeans in different shades, and I like to pair them with a signature shirt. For that reason, I only included about five pairs of pants and focused heavier on shirts. I hardly ever wear dresses, and the first time I put together my capsule, I didn’t include a single dress. What I found the most challenging was narrowing down my shoes and jewelry. Therefore, I was heavier on those two items in my capsule wardrobe than others might be.
Some of you might have just read all this and decided it sounds easy, and some of you might think that this is not possible at all. I am here to tell you that the preconceived notions I had about living with a capsule wardrobe were not correct. It truly did simplify my life, and I have no intentions of going back. I found that I don’t dread getting dressed for special occasions, and I take half as much time making my clothing choices as I did before. I am also spending significantly less money on clothing than I used to, and I’ve gotten a little riskier with my wardrobe choices because I am forced to mix and match my essential items to avoid repeats.
Now is the perfect time to try something new, and creating a capsule wardrobe was a great experience!