A capsule wardrobe – let’s do this thing.

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We had a lot going on in 2013. Because we moved into the farm house and welcomed Hadassah Lee that year, a close watch was kept over both our finances and our storage space. As a little challenge and experiment, I decided to refrain from purchasing any new clothing for myself for the entire year. Y’all, it was not as hard as you might think. I encourage everyone to try it for a a few months, at least. In fact, it became difficult to shop again – as crazy as that sounds! I decided to break the streak after about fourteen months, in preparation for a cruise this past spring. I found myself putting things back before I even hit the dressing room. I had gotten so used to avoiding shopping that I kept convincing myself I didn’t need anything new at all, even after the year was over. Don’t worry, that feeling didn’t last for very long.

During that shopping trip, I picked up a few pieces that would serve as the foundation of what I had decided would be my new style. Nothing exciting, really, just a classic look that felt comfortable without looking too comfortable. Does that make sense? I’ve been exploring this idea with the help of ladies like Hayley for years. I think it’s important that women, especially moms, maintain their own sense of identity through style as they move through life.

As the months passed, I pared down my closet further and further. If I hadn’t worn something in six months, I put it away. If it fit but I didn’t love it on my post-baby body (ex: a belly button that pokes out through my shirts, for real), I put it away. I also started reading about the capsule wardrobe movement, with really helpful input from Caroline and Elise and Jacey. By the middle of December, I’d given away or consigned a ton of my clothes, and stored the rest in a bin out in the shed. I even slipped a note into the bin that reads, Clothes I hid from myself in December of 2014. The plan is to incorporate those into a spring capsule or get rid of them when the time comes. Although I’ve been slowly working up to it all year, this is the first season I’m being official about it and I think I’ve gotten my winter capsule all lined up. I kept things very simple because although I love rules, they stress me out. And I love moderation.

My goal was to keep my wardrobe under 40 pieces, not including coats or shoes or accessories. I don’t have a ton of those anyway, so it’s not like I had a lot of sorting and choosing to do. I also have zero reasons to wear a dress this winter, so I didn’t put a dress in this capsule either. I ended up with ten bottoms and around twenty-five tops, including sweaters. I’m still in the process of swapping out a few things, but I really didn’t need to purchase a lot.

I’ve also never really been a seasonal shopper. My mom did a really good job of teaching me to buy what I need when I need it and not get all riled up about phrases like back-to-school shopping. So a lot of this new capsule was stuff I already owned. There’s a whole of black and white and gray, so I eliminated the few brown-themed pieces I had and stored them away for next fall. I found a lot of freedom in that. There’s no pressure to keep something in my closet just because it works for cold weather. It can be used for early spring or fall next year. I did not include any basics in my count, like pajamas and work-out clothes and camisoles. I also did not include my work scrubs in the count, although I did scale my collection down to six matching pairs.

There’s really nothing militant about building a capsule. Instead, I found it’s about building your style first, and then building your wardrobe around it. Every time you get dressed, you should feel good about the way you look. So I simply got rid of the stuff that didn’t make me feel good. I stopped hoarding the free t-shirts from work, and I stopped wearing the pajama pants I’ve owned since middle school that make my husband snort. Instead, I slowly replaced my pajama drawer with solid color tees that are comfy enough for wearing around the house but presentable enough for wearing out of the house too. I stopped making impulse purchases at places like Target and Forever 21, and I started buying better-quality pieces at affordable places like Nordstrom Rack or eBay or even second-hand Instagram shops from women I know and trust. I stopped trying to wear things that don’t work with my body (ex: boyfriend jeans), and I started paying attention to the way that certain fits make me feel. Now that I can accurately describe my own style, everything I buy has to complement everything else in my closet – or else I don’t buy it. And now that I’ve built a wardrobe around my style, I feel good in every outfit. Seriously, I strut or dance down the hallway pretty much every day now, because of the way this capsule makes me feel. And as silly or trendy as this capsule wardrobe movement might seem to some, that’s reason enough to keep me on the bandwagon.

6 thoughts on “A capsule wardrobe – let’s do this thing.”

  1. Yay! Thank you for this post! I would love to see an outfit post every once in a while and also hear about some of your favorite pieces of clothing. I’ve been following Caroline’s capsule, but am interested in seeing how others make the capsule work!

  2. I’ve been tossing and turning about starting a capsule wardrobe and I decided to take the leap this year also. I am excited to share about it over the next few months. This has been really helpful and encouraging to see simple ways to begin building, thanks for sharing the other ladies too!

  3. I too have been wanting to try this out. It’s a little overwhelming to know where to start as I’m between sizes (pre-pregnancy clothes too big, wild post-partum weight loss clothes too small), plus trying to figure out what my style as a mother that lends itself to also fitting in with what I need to wear to look professional as a medical social worker, and then the ever present “too little time” dilemma where I totally struggle to prioritize time for myself to shop. I’ll get there someday! Thanks for sharing your journey.

    1. Well, start simply. Try a few transitional pieces that you can wear in several different outfits. I remember those seasons of work and play and weird body things with babies. Give yourself some wiggle room (literally and figuratively) and experiment with it. This is exciting for you!

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