Signature Style, the Next Steps: Capsule Wardrobes

Have you heard of this capsule wardrobe thing? Probably owing to Pinterest, they’ve become very popular in the last few years.

What it is: a limited, intentional wardrobe of usually about 35-40 pieces (often excluding accessories, workout/lounge clothing, underwear, PJs) that are highly functional and interchangeable.

The goals: declutter, spend less on clothing, simplify getting dressed, and create a more cohesive style.

Some common principles of capsule wardrobes include:

  • having a set number of pieces that includes tops, bottoms, shoes, and outerwear
  • wearing ONLY these pieces during a season
  • not shopping until a proscribed time of the year
  • setting a budget for the shopping time

I’ve seen the idea before, especially when I turned my focus to defining my own personal mom style, but it never really clicked with me. It felt too limited and rigid.

Natural Signature Style

But then, through a post on DallasMoms someone shared on Facebook, I discovered Caroline at Un-Fancy, and she changed my mind. This girl always looks amazing in way more exciting a wardrobe than the one spilling out of my own closet. Inspired by her simple but deliberate and polished look, I dug deeper and I realized I’m basically already wearing a capsule wardrobe–I turn to the same small number of tops and bottoms every day. It’s just that there was no forethought to my wardrobe, and so it lacks cohesion and, well, style. But if I were to go at this with intention and a plan, oh, the possibilities!

As I’ve ruminated on the concept more and discussed it with friends, I’ve become extremely excited. This can achieve so many goals I’ve set: decluttering and becoming more minimalistic, developing a more “me” style, refitting my wardrobe with better quality items, avoiding mommy schlump.

Of course, pregnancy seems like the worst time to commit to a wardrobe overhaul as I can’t try anything on or make any purchases. But on the other hand, my maternity wardrobe is pretty limited as it is, so it’s actually a great opportunity to try on the concept. Furthermore, I’ll have the next couple of seasons to plan my first real capsule wardrobe and save up for whatever purchases I’ll need to make.

It’s also easier to ax items from my closet when I know I can’t wear them anyway, and so I have begun. Last week, I purged. It was cathartic, like chopping off too-long hair.

The Wardrobe Purge (the remaining clothes in the closet still look like a lot, but it's winter, maternity, and non-maternity all mixed in.)

The Wardrobe Purge (the remaining clothes in the closet still look like a lot, but it’s winter, maternity, and non-maternity all mixed in.) Look at all the empty hangers!

It was also a great moment of self-realization. Exploring the depths of my closet made me see how much I have held onto past lives.

I had tops I wore going out in university–backless, low-cut, slinky (and cheap) club-wear. In previous recent wardrobe purges, I’d say “oh yeah, that’s a really good top.” Um… no, no it’s not. I’m a mom in my 30s. I should not own anything that might require double-sided tape.

There was a whole “work wardrobe” from when I was working at Health Canada back in 2009. I’ve held onto the slacks, blouses, and skirts thinking that they’ll be useful if I’m working in an office again at some point. But that’s not likely to happen anytime soon, and will I want to put on 15 year old button-ups when I do start working in an office environment again, IF I ever start working in an office again? Nope, out they went, along with the backpacker, beach wardrobe I had from when I lived in Thailand and the many workout Ts I had from high school soccer and track days (seriously). Out, out, out!

There were also many items that I bought because they somehow appealed to other versions of myself or my life. But they didn’t really fit in with who I am and what my day-to-day life really is. I’d like to avoid making those mistakes again. I want to truly love my clothes and the way I look, because I’ve considered all of those things carefully.

And so, as with other posts about beauty and style, though this may feel like a fluffy undertaking, it represents something substantial in how we define ourselves and choose to live our lives. It involves self-awarenss: who are you, what do you do, what do you want for yourself, what do you want to project? It’s about your lifestyle: what do you surround yourself with, what are your processes, do you live in the present?

Andplusalso? Capsule wardrobe closets just look so darn pretty!

Would you, or do you, do a capsule wardrobe? I’d love to hear about it!

Featured Image from Holly Bourne on Flickr

Featured Image from Holly Bourne on Flickr

4 responses to “Signature Style, the Next Steps: Capsule Wardrobes

  1. Hey Jean, great idea! I’d been thinking about this since you posted about a “uniform” personal style. I’ve been getting rid of maternity stuff, things that won’t ever fit again (after baby #2, my amazing life-giving bod is just a bit… different!), still have a ways to go. Will be interested to see how this goes for you. Thanks!

    • It’s funny–the majority of people I’ve told about this are super intrigued! I think big changes in life like moving or having children can spark a shift in priorities that really makes it necessary and desire able to change things up! Good luck with your own clean-out!

  2. Great piece!! I can’t believe how many clothes you had kept from the different stages of your life! that must have been a real walk through memory lane! I haven’t looked back at all on having my own capsule.

    I have followed Caroline with switching it up every few months and being able to shop and tbh with each capsule I have thrown away more and more of what i used to think I needed and come more into my own style as I’ve gone along.

    Much needed, and giving yourself time is also greatly helpful!

    • Haha yes, it was silly how much I had.

      I love other capsule success/satisfaction stories! Yes, I suspect it will get easier to get rid of things as you settle into the capsule concept. I think that just as the acquisition of stuff can be addictive, so too can the getting rid of stuff! On the same day I went through my closet, I also got rid of a stack of magazines my husband has been pestering me about for ages. The high of cleaning out is powerful!

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