The capsule wardrobe isn’t a new concept, but the growing trend of modern minimalism is causing a surge of popularity and interest in capsule wardrobes. Not only are capsule wardrobes and capsule collections being adopted by minimalist trend-setters, but the phenomenon is also proving itself as a practical lifestyle choice amongst both the financially conscious and the perpetually busy.
A capsule wardrobe comprises a collection of versatile clothing that can be worn with different outfits and swapped in and out of rotation. Rotations can be based on season or other lifestyle factors and events. This can be every three months (for the traditional seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter) or every month. It could even be every four or six months or, if you’re extremely dedicated, every year!
Strategically selecting a range of simple, plain or neutral clothing can make you feel more confident about your wardrobe decisions, as they can be mixed and matched effortlessly; dressed up or dressed down depending on the rest of the outfit or accompanying accessories. The purpose is to reduce the tiresome indecision of what to wear. Confronted with less choice, you waste less time stressing needlessly about what to wear. And you’ll be surprised how very few people will even notice (or care!) that you wear the same clothes week in and week out.
It also encourages you to shop less, helping those who battle with shopping addiction and the over-consumption of material goods. You will only buy things that you really love, and only in between wardrobe rotations. However, it doesn’t have to be a protest against consumer culture. It can be anything you want it to be. You may just want to simplify your “getting ready” routine by limiting your wardrobe choice in this way.
Another bonus to having a capsule wardrobe is the physical downsizing of your bedroom wardrobe. Giving yourself less choice of clothing per season allows you to free up floor space in your bedroom by getting a smaller wardrobe. This can be of great benefit to those who with a small bedroom who feel that their current wardrobe takes up too much space and want to rearrange their bedroom to feel less like a storage room for their clothes and more like a personal sanctuary. To prevent any temptation from dipping into other clothing items, any clothing pieces out of rotation can be stored away in more inaccessible storage spaces, such as the attic or airing cupboard.
Organising Your Capsule Wardrobe
Do you ever open your wardrobe to a full selection of mostly unworn clothes, and sigh hopelessly at what to wear for the day? Or buy an item of clothing fully intending to wear it for some occasion or another, but then never getting around to it or never having an appropriate opportunity to wear it? Many men and women buy clothes that they like in smaller sizes to motivate them to lose weight – the pressure itself can be a deterrent to some, and many buy unrealistically smaller sizes that will instantly make them feel as if they’ve already failed to achieve their weight loss goal.
Over the decades, clothes shopping has evolved from necessity to hobby to habit. Oftentimes, you’re not really looking to buy new clothes. You’re attempting to fill a hole; satisfy an emotional craving.
Owning a capsule wardrobe requires having the self-control to commit to your wardrobe once you’ve decided on a rotation. You can give all your clothes the opportunity to be your “favourites”, and anything that you don’t completely love deserves a better home. Perhaps you can donate it to charity or make a little extra pocket money by selling it online. You may regret an item choice, and that’s normal. Just ride it out. It’s not going to be forever. By breaking your commitment mid-rotation, you’ll be tempted to start breaking even more rules. The point is to give all your clothes their moment to shine, so that nothing gets wasted. If you bought a shirt five years ago that you love knowing that you own but you never get the opportunity to show off, then condemning it back into your permanent storage is a waste.
And remember that you always have that option. You don’t need to get rid of everything while downsizing your wardrobe. If you’re not confident enough to get rid of or give away the majority of your existing wardrobe, you can always just keep it in storage.
Despite the common mantra of “there are no rules”, there are some guidelines that will help you with your capsule wardrobe journey. Some people will find it easier to create their own rules to abide by, as it gives them more structure. Maybe you’ll set a rule stating that any item of clothing that hasn’t been worn in over 12 months will be removed permanently from your wardrobe. This then ensures that you don’t collect clothing that you never wear. Even if you only wear that gorgeous cocktail dress once a year, its inclusion in your wardrobe is still worth the space it takes up.
As for how many items of each type of clothing you feature in each rotation, there are no hard numbers. Different people will have different lifestyles. Maybe you’ll need more formal outfits. Perhaps you’ll need at least one T-shirt per week. Or you’ll need more gym clothes than the average person. You may even have hobbies that require different clothes. Capsule wardrobes come in all shapes and sizes. Though typically, the goal is for 30-40 clothing pieces total, this may already be way more than you realistically need – or, conversely, completely insufficient if you have quite a physically or socially active lifestyle that requires outfit changes throughout the day for work, meetings, sports, parties and nightlife.
To begin, lay out every item of clothing that you own in front of you. Viewing your existing wardrobe as a visual spread like this allows you to instantly remove those mediocre bits and pieces that you purchased on impulse and completely forget that you even owned. (How many still have tags…?) Put these to one side or in a bag. You can also remove anything that you haven’t worn for six months, a year, or more – depending on your preference. Make a separate pile of your immediate essentials: the obvious things like your favourite jeans and other well-loved, frequently worn items. Arrange your “capsule corner” (of this seemingly unorganised mess of clothes in your bedroom right now) into tops, bottoms and full outfits (such as dresses and co-ords). By this point, you’ll be wanting to keep track of the number so you can ensure you don’t get over-enthusiastic about throwing everything you own back into your capsule collection. With your obvious essentials in front of you, it will be easier to pick out the other complimentary pieces that you love. These will most likely be versatile pieces in more neutral colours that will pair well with the rest of your favourites. Consider upcoming events, practicality, weather, trends… But don’t feel as if you are restricted to current fashion. A good capsule wardrobe is timeless. Classic.
Be proud of your capsule wardrobe. Organise items neatly into your wardrobe and make use of any extra space for additional storage or with decorative pieces that will inspire you as you reach for an outfit in the morning. With minimum clothing items, you could even display your capsule collection in a more prominent area as bedroom décor, rather than storing your favourite clothes away behind wardrobe doors.
Smile! You get to love your favourite clothes every day, without ever feeling burdened to wear something that you don’t.
Decision Fatigue according to Wikipedia:
“In decision making and psychology, decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making.”