Blog Minimalism

Functioning Capsule Wardrobe

“Buy less, choose well.” Vivienne Westwood

Have you ever found yourself standing in front of your closet, half naked, and when you’d rather light the whole place on fire than complete the outfit, thought to yourself, I have nothing to wear! It happens. There are few things worse than changing an outfit three times only to be devastated because now you’re unsightly and late. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to reevaluate to save time and sanity.

A capsule wardrobe is the answer. It’s quick and easy to dress ourselves when everything in the closet is a flattering favorite and makes us feel like a shiny penny. A capsule wardrobe doesn’t have to be boring, just keep versatility in mind. (For the full run down on minimalist fashion and a capsule wardrobe, check out this episode of the podcast.)

Where to begin:

Get started by emptying the closet onto your bed. Starting from scratch is the best way to keep ourselves honest during the evaluation process.

Immediate returns to the closet include only your absolute favorite pieces, the ones you can’t live without. If you wouldn’t wear it right this minute, leave it out for now. Immediate tosses should include articles that look faded, stained, holey, and anything that doesn’t fit well today.

Inspect each item that’s left and retire the pieces that don’t meet your criteria. My simple formula to establish your criteria consists of three crucial questions:

Do you LOVE it?

Does it reflect your personal style? Is it “you” enough? Even if it’s an expensive fancy-pants piece, you’ll pass on it every time if you don’t love the fit, color, style, etc.

Do you feel confident in it?

Keep first and lasting impressions in mind. Is this an excellent representation of you? Would you want to meet someone new (professional or otherwise) or run into an ex in this outfit? Lame gage? Maybe. Thought-provoking? Yes.

Would you go out and buy this item today?

Be real. This question helped me downsize to a sixteen piece wardrobe, which caused a slight panic until I discovered all the creative combinations I could make. It was like I had a whole new wardrobe! (Serious.)

For a new season or mid-season wardrobe replacement, plan a shopping trip but trade one for one; sell or donate an oldie for every new item you purchase. Choose quality over quantity, always. Store your favorite peacoat and classic seasonal clothes in one box out of sight when they’re not in use. Cap the number of hangers in your closet to keep the collection minimal, and in your personal capsule wardrobe sweet spot.

I’m not a fan of strict rules and I’m not hung up on a specific number. These capsule wardrobe guidelines are meant to get the process going, and help you find our own groove. I encourage you to find your number, whatever feels right and reasonably minimal for you.

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