By Contributing Writer, Erin Long
When I wear an outfit that makes me feel beautiful, my day is just better.
It doesn’t matter if I’m at home all day with my kids, heading to downtown Portland, or standing in front of thirty teenagers teaching, cute clothes make me feel more confident and comfortable in my own skin.
But looking at a closet stuffed full of clothes made it difficult for me to put together those outfits that made me feel fantastic.
For most of my life I thought that the more clothes I owned, the easier it would be to look and feel great. More options would mean more awesome possibilities.
Turns out the opposite is true.
As I simplified my life and possessions, including my wardrobe, I noticed something: owning fewer clothes made it easier to put together outfits I really liked. I didn’t have to wade through mediocre pieces to get to the ones that I actually wanted to wear.
Now I love to wear every item in my wardrobe and I don’t stand in front of my closet in the morning and agonize over what I should wear. That decision is streamlined with interchangeable pieces that I’m beautiful in.
I can get on with my day and look and feel beautiful.
While I didn’t intentionally set out to create a capsule wardrobe, that’s exactly what I did.
And I love it.
So what is a capsule wardrobe? There is no strict definition but generally it’s a wardrobe that contains between 7 and 40 pieces that can be worn interchangeably with minimal variation through the year. The color palate is simple, the cuts are classic, the fabrics are high-quality and durable, trends are few, and you love every piece in it.
It also saves money because the whole point is to keep your wardrobe minimal, simple and classic; you don’t have to go out and buy new items each season unless it’s to replace something or you’ve found your wardrobe is missing a necessary item.
I think that’s something almost all of us can get behind. Even if you don’t want to commit to a capsule wardrobe, you can still apply whichever aspects jive with you and get some of the benefits.
A capsule wardrobe starts with a purge. And depending on the current state of your wardrobe it might need to be pretty thorough.
I recommend the KonMari method for this: empty out your closet and drawers and hold each piece in your hands and ask yourself, ‘Does this spark joy’? If the answer is no, it’s gone. If you’re not sure put it in a separate “maybe” pile.
Be harsh. If it does not make you feel beautiful, get rid of it. Even if your mom gave it to you. Even if you wore it on a memorable date. If it doesn’t make you feel beautiful today, don’t keep it (at least not in your closet – store it elsewhere if it has significant sentimental value).
You can also ask yourself:
- What colors look best on me?
- What is my style? Classic? Boho? Chic? Sporty?
- Where do I spend most of my time?
- How do I want to represent myself with what I wear?
How I Purged Half My Wardrobe is a great post on The Humbled Homemaker that gives some great set-by-step ideas and questions to ask if you need more guidance or struggle with letting go of things.
Your goal with the purge is to get in the capsule wardrobe range, though don’t feel like you have to have a capsule wardrobe – the number of items in your wardrobe should work for you, even if it’s larger than a capsule. The ultimate goal here is for you to feel beautiful in every item of your wardrobe and not stress about your clothes. So if more clothes works for you, have as many as you want!
Chances are you’ll have about 20% of your previous wardrobe. As it applies to clothes, the 80/20 rule says that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. That 20% is what you love to wear and what you feel good in. That’s what you want to see when you open your closet.
You’ll probably also notice some themes with what’s left: there will be more of certain colors, cuts, and pieces. Your style will start to emerge. That’s your foundation.
Since your wardrobe won’t have lots of items, what you have should be interchangeable. This is where classic pieces and a simple color palate will serve you well as they can be mixed and matched.
Look at what you have and see if anything’s missing. If you only have two bottoms, this is your chance to pull something out of the ‘maybe’ pile or buy ones that you’ll love. Fill in the gaps and make sure your wardrobe is actually functional.
Ideally your wardrobe won’t have to go through drastic changes with every season so think about what can be worn in various weather.
I’ve been making my capsule wardrobe for about one-and-a-half years and I’m close to having it nailed down, though I still have room for improvement.
Here’s my spring capsule wardrobe:
2 pairs of jeans
2 pairs of pants
2 pairs of tights
4 pairs of shoes
That brings my grand total to 35 pieces. Ideally I’d like for it to be less than 20 but I’m still getting there. My color palate is blue, white, and pink with black, grey, brown, and green/teal thrown in. I like a classic, Audrey Hepburn look and though I’m a stay-at-home-mom I like to dress up a bit, hence the blazers and dresses, and because I never know how many times I’m going to be spat up on in a day, I keep a few extra shirts and an extra pair of jeans around.
My capsule wardrobe is a work in progress and likely yours will be for a while, too. But as you experience the freedom and simplicity that comes from a capsule wardrobe, you’ll be inspired to keep trying and keep having fun.
Because, after all, clothes should be fun and they should make you feel beautiful.
Don’t forget to check out this limited time free video series that I made for you – my fellow moms in the trenches of mothering. It’s all about truths you need to hear on your hard days.
Great idea, thanks to share about these tips, Easy to do at home
I did this maybe two years ago or so, and I love it. It literally changes my mood for the whole day not to wear something that I feel like I “should” wear because I haven’t worn it in so long.
It is amazing how life changing it can be! And it is so great to not wear something because we feel we ‘should’, not because we love how we feel in it.
I “Kondo-ed” my closet, but I think I need to do it again, I wasn’t very good at it when I first began the konmari method. My biggest problem is that due to having had 3 babies in the last four years my size has been all over the map, and I have maternity clothes and clothes in a few different sizes… Not sure what size my body will end up after this baby, and whether I will have any clothes to wear…
The KonMari method does take some practice but once you figure out how to purge, it’s such a great skill! Ah, yes, all those sizes because of babies! I just put whatever doesn’t fit right now into storage so at least I’m not looking at it in my closet and I can pull it out when it does fit. Good luck!
This is wonderful! I am currently going through a purge of my closet as well and this has been my goal. I have noticed that there are only certain pieces that I really wear anyway and the rest sits around as clutter and a “if nothing else is clean” backup. Thank you for always inspiring!
I’m so glad you found some encouragement and inspiration as you go through your closet! It’s so worth getting rid of those back up clothes – you’re going to LOVE your closet once you’re done!
Loved few of the posts by you! Very clear, concise and helpful. I was searching for some minimalist capsule wardrobe essentials checklist but nowhere I could find a practical solution to help me with my confusion.
Thank you! I may as well copy your capsule wardrobe list. 👍😄