A little over a month ago, I decided to give capsule wardrobing a try — I packed away 75% of my clothes and chose to wear just 38 items for the next 30 days. Having gotten through the month with my capsule wardrobe, here are my thoughts and tips if you’re thinking about creating a capsule wardrobe for yourself.
Since sharing how I created my capsule wardrobe, I’ve gotten a lot of great questions from people who are interested in doing the same. Below are my answers to the most common ones.
Why did you want to create a capsule wardrobe?
My biggest motivation in creating a capsule wardrobe was the potential that I’d be able to simplify my life by having fewer choices in the morning.
I figured a capsule wardrobe could work well for me, because my lifestyle allows me to dress on the casual side on most days, so I wouldn’t need to work hard to include both business and casual clothes. I also liked the idea that my capsule would only include things I absolutely love, so theoretically, I should always feel great about my outfit. I loved the idea of being challenged to get creative with select pieces. As an aspiring minimalist, I loved the idea of my clothes taking up less space. And I loved the idea of thinking about clothes shopping less.
How did you care for your clothes?
Even though my wardrobe shrunk significantly, I didn’t have to adjust the way I care for my clothes in any drastic ways. It’s my rhythm to do my laundry every Sunday, and I stuck to that schedule throughout the 30 days with my capsule wardrobe. For the most part, I didn’t wear any of my items more than once per week, with the exception of my pair of blue jeans or my jean shorts. But I typically get a couple wears out of my denim anyway, as long as I’m not hit with Jameson’s food or sweating.
I did take more care to wear an apron when I was cooking, so as to avoid grease stains and such. And I’m a big fan of washing my more delicate/prone to shrink clothes in the machine and then letting them air dry on a drying rack overnight.
Did you get bored with your capsule wardrobe?
Surprisingly, no! In documenting this whole process for the blog, I was more motivated to wear all of my pieces and find ways to mix and match my items. Had I not given myself that challenge, I can see how I would have easily gone 30 days with wearing even fewer items — maybe just 25 — because I would have done a lot more repeating. Perhaps that would have gotten a little boring, but I think the ease and simplicity of not spending a lot of time thinking about what to wear would have outweighed any feelings of boredom.
Did you miss your other clothes?
There were a couple of items I missed — for example, a flowy lace top that I love, but it wouldn’t have been good for wearing multiple ways and a pair of light blue skinny jeans that weren’t as versatile as the light blue pair I ultimately picked for the capsule. There were also a couple casual dresses that I missed. Other than those, all of my favorite items were in the capsule.
Will you keep your capsule going?
Many people use their capsule wardrobe for an entire season, and I could easily do a ‘rinse and repeat’ of the outfits I wore during my 30-day experiment and keep it going. (You can see the outfits from Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4.) But, when I packed away my clothes, my thought was that 30 days with the capsule would teach me that I could live with way less and be more excited about the clothes in my closet. In the past few years, I’ve done an ok job of regularly purging things from my closet. But I knew there were a lot more things I was hesitating to give away, either due to nostalgia, or a crazy idea that the items would one day fit better, or out of fear that I’d one day need it for some made-up occasion (though I hadn’t for the past 2-3 years).
What will you do with the clothes you packed away?
Having the clothes packed away for 30 days while I lived with the capsule helped me go back to my clothes with less emotional attachment and fresh eyes. I pulled out the things I missed (I wore that flowy top and those skinny jeans right after the 30 days were up, ha!), and I set aside a lot of items for donation. I left my fall and winter items packed away, and I plan to add them to my closet when the seasons change — I’m really liking the open, airy look of my closet and want to keep it that way.
My capsule wardrobe had 38 items broken down this way:
– Tops (15), Bottoms (7), Dresses/One-pieces (9), and Shoes (7)My post-capsule wardrobe has 62 items broken down this way:
– Tops (23), Bottoms (8), Dresses/One-pieces (21), and Shoes (10)(Shout out to Jordan’s parents for upgrading my hanger game! All of you who cringed at my wire hangers can now rest easy.)
The biggest category I added items back to was the dress category. I love dresses and would pick one over an outfit with pants any day. So yeah, the dresses went from this…To this… :-)
Any tips for someone who wants to try a capsule wardrobe?
Start by setting aside the things in your closet that you reach for all of the time. Then think about the things in your closet that are really versatile, perhaps because it’s neutral or because it can be layered with other things (like a gray cardigan, a white button-down, or brown shoes). Remember that even items in neutral colors can be interesting, with the right cut or texture.
Next, spend some time thinking about your typical week and some of the more atypical activities you might have going on — is it possible that a dress you typically wear casually could be dressed up if you need to attend a professional event? For example, I find that my black jeans can be worn casually with sneakers or dressed up to look like slacks when I have a client meeting. You can build your capsule around a color palette or not — it’s up to you. Mine just naturally emerged after I picked my favorite things.
Finally, you don’t have to feel pressure to give away everything you’re not including in the capsule immediately. There may be things you know you don’t want for sure, and by all means, you should give those away or recycle them. But if you just want to try the capsule wardrobe for the reasons I did, you can pack away the things you don’t plan to wear, which will add to simplified mornings and reduce temptation to wear things not in the capsule.
Thanks to all of you who followed along with this little experiment! I loved hearing every story of how you were inspired to live with less stuff and less stress.
PortiaJuly 27, 2017 at 10:27 am
Loved every moment of this, I def want to downsize, it feels free! I have one additional question, what type of wardrobe closet do you have?
Jessica RiceJuly 31, 2017 at 9:32 pm
Our wardrobes are from IKEA – the Pax model. They’re pretty great.
MissGinaJuly 30, 2017 at 10:18 am
This is me!!……. “But I knew there were a lot more things I was hesitating to give away, either due to nostalgia, or a crazy idea that the items would one day fit better, or out of fear that I’d one day need it for some made-up occasion (though I hadn’t for the past 2-3 years).”
Also do you mind sharing the name of those hangers?
Thank you for this post and experiment! I am thinking about giving this a try because I just have way too much clothing that I haven’t worn in literally YEARS (maybe 5 or more). I got special occasion dresses that still have the tags on them!
Jessica RiceJuly 31, 2017 at 9:34 pm
Yes, crazy how we hang on to stuff! The hangers were a gift from my in-laws, and here’s a link: https://www.containerstore.com/s/closet/hangers/non-slip/joy-mangano-black-huggable-hangers/123d?productId=10023850
Camille. MBAugust 2, 2017 at 7:13 pm
I’m need to try this.
NariaDecember 2, 2017 at 9:56 pm
Hey. Are you still practicing a capsule wardrobe?
Jessica RiceDecember 5, 2017 at 2:42 pm
Hi Naria – I’m not still officially practicing a capsule wardrobe, although since doing the one in the summer, my closet has been skimmed down SIGNIFICANTLY. I probably have about half of what I did before, and I’m always looking for ways to skim down even more. With me getting pregnant, it has forced me into a somewhat limited wardrobe anyway, so I didn’t plan out a typical fall or winter capsule.