Capsule Wardrobe, One Year In

A little over a year ago, I came across the idea of a capsule wardrobe. I looked into it, and it intrigued me. It is basically a small mix-and-match wardrobe of things that fit you today, fit your lifestyle, and flatter you.

My son had just turned one and was still nursing. It took me forever to get dressed every day–even on the days I wasn’t going anywhere. Some clothes didn’t fit my body anymore, others didn’t work for nursing, and a slew of my clothes were for a life I no longer had (or never had!) as a stay-at-home mom.

We were preparing for a big move, and downsizing was already on my brain. Using the worksheets I found on the super-popular and helpful site, I pared down my wardrobe and created my first capsule.


What was left behind: a MOUNTAIN of clothes that I need to get rid of. Seriously, it was HUGE. I wish I had a picture to show you, but I’d probably be too ashamed to share it. It was every size from a 6-12, and within each of those sizes were casual dresses, business attire, skirts–casual and business, t-shirts, button-up shirts, shells, cardigans, jeans, slacks…the list goes on. It was insane. I’ll be writing more on the best places to sell your extra clothes once you do downsize your wardrobe, but that is for another day.

Today, I’m letting you know how much I love having a capsule wardrobe. There are so many reasons why I love having it, but there have been some bumps in the road, too.

–It never takes more than a couple of minutes to put together an outfit. Since everything fits and everything is within a coordinating color palette, almost all of my clothes work together now. There are a couple of exceptions, but I could basically blindfold myself, pull out a bottom and top, and get dressed. And it will work.

–I’m saving lots of time and money shopping. I still battle the urge to go shopping just for the fun of it on occasion, but that urge is coming less and less. I do have to shop for my growing munchkins more regularly than I do for myself, but the urge to look through the women’s section even when I’m within the store is so much less than it used to be. My purchases are now pre-meditated, and I’m growing increasingly picky about what I will spend my money on for myself. I’m currently looking for a white muscle tee, but the ones I’ve found either fit strangely, seem of poor quality, or are too sheer for my taste. The old me would have bought whatever was cheap and available because I liked it and it was almost what I had in mind. The capsule-wardrobe me now sees clothes as a longer-term investment in my closet, and I don’t want to choose poorly.

–The capsule idea has trickled into other parts of my life. Naturally, I’ve started to look at my kids wardrobes a bit differently, and I’m currently trying to come up with numbers (how many tops and bottoms, etc), they really need. My husband was even inspired to pare down his wardrobe!

–I sew on buttons.  And have my pants hemmed.  And make sure I attack that mustard I dribbled on my shirt.  Since I know I have a limited number of clothes, and I like everything I have, I don’t forget about an item and let a stain set.  Long story short:  I take really good care of everything, because it is limited supply and I want it to last.

–The biggest surprise is that my family is often coordinated, without even trying. People at church have commented that we look ready for a family photo! Since I’m the primary shopper in my family (and my husband and I are drawn to similar colors), we have all ended up with wardrobes that are heavy on blues, greys, and purples. This was a totally unintentional side-effect, but it is a fun one!

–The biggest con for me of a capsule wardrobe has been my fluctuating weight. I haven’t gained or lost a dramatic amount of weight, but my wardrobe fits differently depending on whether or not I’m at the top or bottom of my typical 5-lb weight range. I’m short, so even a couple of pounds shows up on me.  I don’t really want to have completely different wardrobes in a range of sizes (again!), so if my pants are beginning to feel a little snug, I have to make sure I put the brakes on any more weight gain. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but on the days when my clothes are feeling a little too snug, I miss having something else to wear in the next size up. I do have a couple of things that are stretchy/more forgiving, so I tend to reach for those until I get my weight back in check.

–The only other con I’ve experienced with a capsule is occasional boredom with my wardrobe. I’ve found this to be the case towards the end of a season when I’ve already worn every outfit combination a few times. That’s when I begin to itch for a little change-up. I’m toying with the idea of combining my warm weather and cool weather capsules to have two for the year instead of four. Having more options might help that, but it could also give me too many choices on a given day.  I’ll let you know if I make that leap.

Have you tried a capsule wardrobe?  Do you like the idea of one?

Read on, my friend...

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