A Glimpse into my Capsule Wardrobe Journey

 

Four weeks ago I embarked on a journey to create a capsule wardrobe (you can learn more about my inspiration here)  and it’s been quite the challenge. I began with selecting seven outfits from my current wardrobe, planning an outfit for each day of the week while taking into account my lifestyle. My ultimate goal was to create a transitional capsule wardrobe that offered a work/life balance. Having done that, I made the commitment to only wear the thirty-three pieces I had selected for a month. The rest of the items from my closet were removed and stored out of the way. Today marks one month since my resolution and I’m excited to share with you what I learned through this experience.  


Today marks one month since my resolution and I’m excited to share with you what I learned through this experience.  


In the first week, I was able to put several outfits together from my capsule wardrobe. My mornings became less hectic as getting dressed became less time consuming. It was the second week that really challenged my wardrobe. At the time that I made this personal challenge, it was April in Minnesota where the weather can be very unpredictable. When I began building the foundation of my capsule wardrobe, I based it on the spring season. Little did I know, a snow storm would strike, leaving about 15 inches of snow behind. Unfortunately, I had to go back to my storage and pull out my coat and winter boots, along with other cold weather pieces such as sweaters, scarf, hats and gloves. Having done that, my capsule wardrobe count increased. I didn’t feel it was a setback, as I knew this was only temporary until the weather felt like being spring again and I would be able to store my winter items again.

The hardest challenge came when I encountered advertisements and retail catalogs with the latest spring collection and trends. I can’t deny that I love fashion and I find it an art form to put together a really great ensemble. So it was really hard to resist buying that yellow summer dress or those cute wedges. Social media was another culprit. Seeing many of my family and friends post their cute spring and summer looks or their new wardrobe staple made me feel a bit discouraged. I quickly came to realize that this was also a mental challenge and a battle between mind over matter. To distract myself, I started channeling my focus on other activities such as reading, writing, gardening, biking and walking. I also kept a calendar journal. I would mark a day with a star to indicate that I didn’t make a fashion purchase and whenever I was tempted to, I would write down my “supposedly” total purchase dollar amount, which was an indication of how much I saved by not buying anything. Seeing and being able to track my results really boosted my motivation again.


I would mark a day with a star to indicate that I didn’t make a fashion purchase and whenever I was tempted to, I would write down my “supposedly” total purchase dollar amount, which was an indication of how much I saved by not buying anything.


Appreciation was the greatest lesson I learned. I became more thankful for the things I had instead of thinking about the things I didn’t have and didn’t need. I already have two great blazers that are versatile and can easily take me from work to weekend. I have a classic a-line dress that can go from day to night and my favorite pair of jeans that I can do anything in. Pinterest became my inspiration and before I knew it, my creativity in putting together a really great ensemble was back in full charge. It was even more enjoyable doing so with 33 pieces versus countless hours going through an overstuffed closet. If there was something I desperately needed for a special occasion, I would go back to my storage and pull out an old item. For example, I had a birthday dinner to attend at an upscale restaurant and I didn’t have anything fancy to wear. I was on a roll of not making any fashion purchases so I didn’t want to break the chain on that. So I went to my storage and pulled an old dress. Something cool happened - I fell in love with it all over again.


Appreciation was the greatest lesson I learned. I became more thankful for the things I had instead of thinking about the things I didn’t have and didn’t need.


I came into this challenge not knowing what to really expect, but through this experience, creating a capsule wardrobe has taught me valuable lessons on being a conscientious and eco-friendly shopper. I learned how to make eco-friendly choices, such as purchasing less polyester products as they consume around 6 times as much energy as that needed to make it in the first place, and resisting fast fashion because it’s putting too much pressure on our planet with 12.8 million tons of clothing sent to landfills in the US every year. As an individual, I have the power to control my wardrobe and so do you. If a capsule wardrobe isn’t for you, consider creating an ethical wardrobe by being a mindful shopper and looking at your wardrobe in a new angle. To be honest, I’m not fully over the temptations and hurdles either, but today, I get to focus more on what really matters and that’s raising my family in a healthy and sustainable environment.


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About the Author

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Gaochen Xiong recently graduated with her Master’s in Public and Nonprofit Administration. As a first generation born Hmong American, who is dedicated to paving the way for her children and future generations, she is excited to expand her knowledge and fight for justice through Dressember. She’s an avid reader, lover of all things arts and crafts, and enjoys experiencing new adventures and traveling with her family.