A Beginners Guide to Capsule Wardrobes
I have to confess - it takes me a lot longer than necessary to put an outfit together in the morning, mostly because I have an overstuffed closet full of clothes, shoes, and accessories. After analyzing my wardrobe and daily routine, I realized that I was wasting valuable time and adding unwanted stress to my day. I don’t have a minimalist lifestyle, although it’s something I have considered, and maybe the effort of creating a capsule wardrobe will lead me to embrace minimalism. So, with that thought in mind and considering the following benefits, I embarked on a journey of creating my own capsule wardrobe.
The concept of a capsule wardrobe has been around since the 1970's but has recently become a popular approach to minimalist living. The purpose behind a capsule wardrobe is to maintain a collection of essential and classic pieces in your closet that can be mixed and matched over time. It is a practice of personalizing your wardrobe with items you love and that fit your lifestyle but on a scale of 30-40 pieces. There are many beneficial reasons to having a capsule wardrobe. One, it can help decrease shopping habits - less shopping, less consumption, more money and time saved. Two, it fosters a more sustainable lifestyle - increasing consciousness and boosting environmental and social responsibility. Three, it helps one avoid fast fashion that often lead to textile waste. And four, it makes it possible to do more with less and have more time for what matters.
The purpose behind a capsule wardrobe is to maintain a collection of essential and classic pieces in your closet that can be mixed and matched over time.
Select Seven Outfits
My first step was selecting seven outfits from my current wardrobe, planning an outfit for each day of the week. I took into account my lifestyle, such as occupation, kids and their activities, and how I commute - via train or public transportation - to and from work. I knew that comfort was a major key factor, considering my commute and busy family schedule, in addition to professionalism. I also needed to make sure that the pieces I chose created a transitional outfit for a work/life balance. In other words, with each outfit I asked, “Can I comfortably wear this walking to and from the train, look professional during a work meeting, and feel relaxed at a hockey game?” During the process, I also asked myself the following questions: "When was the last time I wore this piece? If I was shopping right now, would I buy it? Do I feel comfortable wearing it?" After much digging, my wardrobe came down to a total of thirty-three pieces.
Purge That Excess
Once I laid down my foundation for a capsule wardrobe, I removed the rest of the clothing from my closet and stored them out of the way, placing them in my garage. The purpose of this is so I can focus only on my capsule pieces without distractions. Eventually, I will go back and see if I will be keeping any of those items for seasonal reasons or donating them to local charities and thrift stores.
Rock Your New Style!
I made the commitment to only wear the thirty-three pieces I have selected for four weeks. So far, within the first week, I have been able to put several outfits together from my capsule wardrobe and I’m not complaining yet! I’m not rushing out the door in the morning to catch the train, laundry has decreased in volume, and I am feeling more relaxed. The best part is, I made it to the train, through work, and sat through a school concert all in one outfit!
If you’re willing to take on the challenge of creating a capsule wardrobe, you might just learn a thing or two about your sense of style and reduce the number of choices you need to make on a daily basis to focus more on what really matters.
During this challenge, I have learned that I have the potential to create a healthier budget by not buying into fast fashion, and I am needing less of certain resources, such as water and detergent to do laundry as my loads are smaller. I also know that my choice to create a capsule wardrobe will have a long term impact on the environment because I’m creating less waste. I understand a capsule wardrobe isn’t for everyone, but if we can take on the economic and social responsibility together to reduce consumption in some form, we can make a bigger global impact. And if you’re willing to take on the challenge of creating a capsule wardrobe, you might just learn a thing or two about your sense of style and reduce the number of choices you need to make on a daily basis to focus more on what really matters.
Stay tuned next week to see where my capsule wardrobe has taken me!
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About the Author
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.