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Capsule wardrobes: Pinterest dream or real-life nightmare?
Maybe a little bit of both.
I know you’ve seen them…those carefully curated collections of clothing hanging delicately on the most gorgeous clothing rack. Everything spaced equal distance apart and in color coded order to make the most perfect seasonal color palette. There's also the stylish room, carefully decorated, with three pairs of shoes lined up neatly below the two pairs of folded jeans. Hashtag capsule wardrobe!
These posts tend to evoke some very strong responses from me:
Firstly, I wonder where the clothes rack is from and why someone has this in their house. I mean don’t they have a closet like the rest of us? Surely not everyone with capsule wardrobes lives in the same Manhattan studio loft with brick walls… or do they?
Secondly, I’m overcome with the desire to have my own. Nope, not feasible, use the closet you have girl.
And thirdly, who can really live with only three pairs of shoes?!
To say the least, the minimal fashion trends have never really appealed to me. This probably sounds silly if you’re familiar with this blog because well, it’s partly about minimalism. But when we talk fashion, I was just never able to buy fully in. Let me start with some background (PS, if you’re only interested in my capsule wardrobe, feel free to skip ahead 😊):
My closet looks a lot different today than it used to.
I used to have some pretty bad consumerist habits. I loved buying items that were on sale, I loved buying items that were super trendy, and overall I just loved buying stuff. As someone who didn’t grow up with a ton of money, shopping trips were always a cause for celebration in my youth. As I got older and started having my own income, I realized I could afford a new outfit for that party…or that jacket I’d been eyeing up…ooh and this on the sale rack, too!
This lasted throughout my college years, but after I moved out from campus and into my own space, I realized I didn’t wear half of what was in my closet. I started getting into minimalism around this time and began going through my closet more regularly. I would spend the next few years completing dozens of rounds of minimizing. I focused on curating a more conscious wardrobe that both suited my style more specifically (oh boy the way your style changes from college to late-twenties!) and my spending preferences.
But if we’re being honest, my closet doesn’t look minimal.
Skip to today and I’m in a much better spot; I’ve learned better spending habits and seriously cut down on my consumerist tendencies. While the rest of my home looks like something out of a West Elm store (compliment in my opinion, but definitely sparse), my closet remains fairly full. I have what I’d consider to be a totally appropriate amount of clothes for a woman in her late-twenties who maintains a full time corporate career but also enjoys participating in fashion trends.
I have more than I need, but fashion for me is more than necessity. Clothes are my creative outlet and I love styling. I’ve simply found a delicate balance between buying everything I can afford to buy and buying nothing at all. I still participate in fun fashion trends (see: dad shoes, leopard booties) but I am careful about the main pieces of my wardrobe and try to buy things I won’t have to minimize later.
Back to capsule wardrobes...
For anyone who might not know, a capsule wardrobe is essentially a collection of items that you pre-pick for a month, a season, or a lifetime and wear only combinations of those items. I’ve seen capsules of all sizes, but typically they range between 15-30 items, excluding intimates, workout gear, and accessories.
While I’m proud of how far I’ve come with my clothing and don’t have any interest in pairing down more, I do love challenging myself to be more minimal. Sure, shopping is fun, but honestly, my favorite part of fashion blogging isn’t seeing & buying new clothes, it’s finding new and creative ways to work the pieces that I already have into the latest styles. Ah, the minimalist in me would be so proud! I thought there’s no better way to spark my creativity and give the blog some fun content while you watch me achieve (or hilariously fail, either way, I’m fine with it) a new challenge.
And so the idea of doing one of these crazy capsule wardrobes was born! I marched into my closet, picked out ~30 of my favorite fall items and decided to only wear these for the next 30 days. PS: it also took literally every last ounce of strength to not buy one of those fancy hanging racks…please be proud of this decision!
Here’s a look at my items:
4 PAIRS OF SHOES
Left to right: Target white booties, Kohl's western booties (exact style no longer sold, similar linked),Target slip ons, Pink Lily Boutique heels.
4 CAREFULLY SELECTED BOTTOMS
Left to right: Gap medium wash denim, Wild Magnolia light wash distressed leopard patch denim, Target corduroy zip skirt, Forever 21 camel corduroy pleated skirt (no longer sold, similar linked).
4 HEAVY LAYERS/OUTERWEAR
Left to right: Target cargo jacket, Kimono that doubles as a scarf from Evereve (I've had this forever and wish I blogged sooner to get you guys a link - this is a must have. I'll be keeping an eye out in case it comes back), Patagonia better sweater pullover, Pink Lily Boutique camo pullover.
3 LIGHTER LAYERS
Left to right: Wild Magnolia duster, American Eagle plaid button up (exact style no longer sold, linked similar), Target cream knit cardigan
Left to right: Express white tank (exact version no longer sold, linked similar), Loft pink tank (exact version no longer sold), Wild Magnolia tie-back tank, Lulu's white off the shoulder body suit, Lulu's black off the shoulder bell sleeve shirt, Garage floral tee (no longer sold), Target leopard tank.
This lands me at 22 core pieces - not bad right?! This of course doesn't count any intimates, accessories like belts/hats/jewelry, or special occasion clothing like work out gear (which in my opinion is totally fine)!
It's also worth mentioning that I work a full time job in an office setting, for which I cannot use my capsule items for work. However, that still leaves 3-5 outfits a week that I needed to pair using only these items...AND...ladies and gentlemen, I did it!! For the most part, at least. Let me explain:
I stuck firmly to the capsule for about 3 weeks. Honestly, this was way better than I ever imagined I'd do. I only wore items from the capsule and that even included a few short trips to the beach and a quick family vacation. I got creative with my options and got through some crazy weather changes (highs in the 80s, lows in the 50s). I made the options work for dressy nights out and casual day trips. All was going well until mother nature decided to give us a second summer. For real, we had 90 degree days the whole last week of September, making it nearly impossible to sport some of what I have in my capsule. Also, if I'm being honest, I got a little bored!
The last week of my capsule I ended up adding a pair of keds (my go-to summer shoe), a crop top or two, and a pair of shorts. I still incorporated capsule pieces where I could without getting heatstroke.
Today marks the last day of September and honestly, I'm so excited to wear something new. Overall, the capsule was a fun challenge and it certainly made packing for my trips a breeze, but I won't be buying into it as a long-term solution anytime soon. I bow down to those of you who can make it work for longer than a month!
Totally comprehensive review that makes my entire blog post obsolete but you should still read both:
Capsule Creation: Pinterest Dream
Fun, actually. Start with a color scheme that matches whatever season you're in and focus on layer-ability. My closet is built upon the core concept of layers so I was able to make adjustments to my capsule based on fluctuating weather (at least to a point). I.e.: lots of tanks and a few sweaters or cardigans to cover up. Better if you have a cute hanging-rack.
Ease of Integration: Pinterest Dream
I've never been able to pack for a week long trip so quickly in my life! I totally love the idea of capsule wardrobes for trips/vacations and will definitely do this again. It was really easy to integrate into my daily life as well and definitely reduced the amount of time I might have spent pairing outfits together.
Seasonal Selection: Real Life Nightmare
Transition months may not be the best time to reduce your wardrobe options...September was definitely hard but it's obtainable if you're motivated enough. Unfortunately, I lost motivation the last week and broke out of my capsule a bit to avoid sweating in my corduroy skirts and boots.