What is a capsule wardrobe?
There has been a lot of buzz lately around the idea of a “capsule wardrobe”. I think, especially after a busy season, we all crave a bit of minimalism and streamlined decisions. A capsule wardrobe is a great place to start that process with your closet. Essentially, you’re pairing your closet down to a tight knit group of items that work together to create multiple options without overwhelming your closet space. Simplifying the closet to pair it down to really good basics with a few seasonal sensations sprinkled in. Everyone’s capsule wardrobe looks different because we have different needs for our clothes. Someone who wears dress clothes to work will have more of those items in their wardrobe than someone who primarily wears jeans and athleisure wear. That’s why I would never tell you what you HAVE to have but more or less give you a guideline for how to turn your wardrobe into a capsule, eliminating what you don’t need and really giving those base pieces a time to shine.
Let’s get into it.
First, start by pulling out all bottoms: jeans, dress slacks, leggings, skirts, joggers, capris, shorts… you get the picture. Pull them all out and start by sorting what you wear and what fits, what doesn’t fit anymore or what you no longer wear and put it in a donate/sell or toss pile depending on its condition. Now the keepers, let’s sort through those. Do you have any duplicates? That’s ok as long as you wear them in rotation and each has an equal amount of wear time. For me, that’s skinny jeans. I LOVE the Cecilia Jag Jeans at the store and I have two pairs, not quite identical but both in a medium wash. I wear those weekly. I also own a pair of light wash Cecilia's that are distressed. I hardly ever pull those out because I am self conscious when I wear them, preferring a darker wash. So, I will grab all the lighter washed skinny jeans and, as long as there are no holes or stains, put them in the donate/sell pile. Continue this through the rest of your “keep” bottoms until you have a nice, wearable, stack. You might notice here a gap in your collection and make note that perhaps you need to purchase a dark wash bootcut or a new pair of black joggers because the ones you had look worn out. Keep note of those so you can be on the lookout for the perfect pair.
Keeping with this same system, we move onto tops. I divide my tops into two categories: everyday and seasonal. Within my seasonal collection there are two seasons: winter and spring. The everyday collection will have my basics that I layer and wear year-round. This includes, for me, graphic t-shirts, layerable hoodies, baselayer tanks, lightweight jackets/cardigans, and denim jackets. Seasonally I’ll have spring/summer tops that go under those lightweight jackets/cardigans and denim jackets and for winter I’ll have sweaters that will go over my baselayer tanks. Dividing my tops into those three sections (everyday, winter, spring) I then do the same process as before and sort what I actually wear and what I need to donate. Pairing down my wardrobe to good basics, things that are versatile and can be worn over multiple seasons by adding layers, and things I just REALLY* like (*look damn good in).
But, I really like to shop...
Having a capsule wardrobe does not mean I no longer shop. Instead, I look for the gaps that the wardrobe may have and I like to add a few new pieces seasonally that will either slip into the “everyday” collection or the “seasonal” collection.
These pieces will go with what I already have and add style to my basics, a little personality. Instead of saying “I probably have something that will go with this at home”, I say, “I KNOW I have something that will work with this.”
If you wear a lot of athleisure and have an extensive workout wardrobe, these same principles apply. I challenge you to designate a drawer for ALL of your workout clothes (tanks, leggings, sports bras, favorite socks) so you do not need to dig through multiple drawers to get your clothes on and stay motivated to workout. This might mean you need to eliminate some of your pieces so they all fit into one drawer. Work through the task of “what do I wear, what do I hate” and maybe pair down your collection to only keep enough for how many days a week you workout.
Keep it up
Once you have done the hard work of the initial sorting, keeping your closet organized and in a capsule size really isn’t that difficult. Make it a “to do” each year around January/February to go through and just quickly say “yes, still love” or “no, donate” as styles evolve and your need for key pieces change. The basics of a good denim jean, a nice pair of dress slacks or a dress (I call this my funeral outfit, some call it their interview outfit), and classic core pieces like denim jackets will never go out of style. We shift the seasonal sensations into the latest trends and donate/sell those that no longer serve us. This will help keep the closet clutter from weighing us down mentally and make getting dressed fun.