I first learned about the capsule wardrobe concept in 2014. I came across this TEDx Talk by Jennifer L. Scott author of Lessons from Madame Chic and creator of the blog The Daily Connoisseur.
The concept is to have 10 core items of clothing that you can use on a regular basis. The idea is to mix and match them into multiple outfits for days to come. These 10 core items are complemented by extras. The extras include anything you would wear on special occasions and seasonal items for the climate you live in.
When I came across this concept I was working full-time in a business casual environment. I liked wearing two-piece suits and found the notion of reducing my wardrobe to 10 core items very difficult. I also live in MA which means 4 seasons and crazy weather. During the winter months my number one priority is warmth. Jennifer loves wearing very feminine attire especially dresses and skirts but I have a tendency to shy away from both especially in the cold months.
I guess I just wasn’t ready for a capsule wardrobe. The concept intrigued me and fascinated me because I wanted to stop trying to figure out what I was going to wear every day or to the special event that popped up or anything related to dressing up. There was also a desire to feel confident in my clothes and look pulled together. I wanted to stop running late because I had to try a few outfits on before I found one that was only so-so. As I researched the topic and read stories I oooohd and ahhhhd about others’ capsule wardrobes. I watched videos and saved pictures of capsules I was attracted to.
While I consumed a lot of information I didn’t take any obvious action however my shopping experience started to change. I’ve never really liked shopping. Finding clothes that fit and I really like within budget has been a sore subject throughout my life. Let’s just say I wasn’t clear and I kept making mistakes. But now I was much more aware about my purchases. I was carefully considering the purchase and asking myself: Do I love how this fits? Can I wear it with other pieces in my closet? Would I really wear this style? Can I easily care for this item (is it machine wash, hand wash, dry-clean)?
After months and months of pondering and wondering about the capsule wardrobe a client gave me a small set of velvet hangers. I had been wanting to change my hangers to create a more cohesive look in the closet. This simple and unexpected “gift” inspired me to address my wardrobe situation. I was finally ready to take action. In April 2016 I went through all my fall and winter clothes and removed all the items that didn’t fit or flatter. The stained and worn items went out. I didn’t replace anything immediately. Instead, I lived with what I had for a little over a month. I wanted to experiment mixing and matching the pieces I already owned.
The first thing I noticed was the space in the closet. The closet felt so much lighter. My husband and I share a small walk-in closet. It’s smaller than the one we shared in our previous home. I remember all the times I spent wishing for a big, fancy walk-in closet and trying to figure out how to make our walk-in closet bigger. It’s no longer necessary. Our clothes and shoes fit comfortably in the closet we have. We did replace our closet system because I had to get on my tippy-toes to reach the top bar (not fun at all) and there was a lot of wasted space with the original one.
Throughout this capsule “warm-up” I didn’t really bother to count items. I just wanted to experience the concept loosely. To my surprise getting dressed was easier indeed. Choosing what to wear was easy because I liked my options and all my tops matched my bottoms. Summer rolled around and I edited my clothes as soon as I took them out. When fall rolled around I edited my summer clothes some more before putting them in storage.
Fast forward to December and I was really ready to take on a challenge so I turned to Courtney Carver’s Project 333 experiment. My side of the closet now holds 32 items. I love the simplicity of getting dressed and having even more space in the closet.