The capsule wardrobe - living with less


Minimalism, slow living and mindfulness are popular philosophies that seem to be everywhere at the moment. Although I probably don’t identify with any one of these specifically, I do like what they stand for. I’ve previously written about sustainability in relation to O2wear and a big part of that for me is buying less. Consuming less stuff in general, I think we could all do with less and I want to learn to want less, does that make sense? And ‘less’ I would say is really a big part of what these philosophies advocate, less stuff and more appreciation for what we do have. Which brings me back to today’s post on the idea of a capsule wardrobe.

What is a capsule wardrobe? It’s about reducing your entire wardrobe down to a small collection of 33 items (or so) which include clothing, shoes and accessories built for use during a 3 month period of time. They should be considered ‘essential’ and work together so they can be mixed and matched in to a wide variety of outfits for all occasions. There are a couple of great blogs on this, by Courtney and Caroline’s blog.

How it works:

Start by picking a number but it should be around the 33 items mark, or base it on a breakdown of clothing 10 tops, 8 bottoms, 4 dresses, 2 outerwear, 4 accessories and 6 pairs of shoes – 34 items in total and stick with it (the total number that is, each season the breakdown of these items might vary). Once you select these items for the season, that’s it, your wardrobe selection is limited to these items, no more shopping, adding or changing the collection until next season.

Except for Courtney’s bonus rule which allows you to rotate in an extra 3 items during the 3 month period, useful if say fluctuating weather is a problem.

You include all your everday items in the capsule wardrobe – tops, pants, outerwear/jackets, dresses, shoes and accessories.

You can exclude gym clothes, sleep wear, underwear and formal occasion clothes like an outfit for a wedding. Caroline and Courtney diverge on the topic of accessories, one includes them in the wardrobe while the other doesn’t, but both agree that sentimental accessories, like a wedding band can be excluded.

Everything else goes – well not quite, store all the pieces that don’t form part of your collection this season for consideration in the next capsule. Alternatively you could donate it or give away pieces you know will never make the cut.

Every 3 months the capsule wardrobe is re-set. You might keep a few items from your current collection in rotation for the next wardrobe, or add pieces you stored away. Its also your opportunity to do a little shopping to add a few new pieces to the new wardrobe. But don’t forget to stick to your number, if you are adding a piece to the wardrobe, you need to take something out of rotation.

Shopping is up to you, either limit it to the four times a year when you are resetting your wardrobe, or perhaps you want to give it up all together?!

What sort of clothes should you choose:

I love Caroline’s three criteria for the kind of clothing you should be including in the wardrobe:

  • 1.Are suitable for the season
  • 2.Are appropriate for your lifestyle
  • 3.Fit you today!

So why consider a capsule collection:

Well in many ways I kind of already do live with a capsule wardrobe. I have shelves over flowing with clothes but I actually only consider wearing a small fraction of these on a daily basis. Half of them I don’t like/don’t fit right and the other half are t-shirts with those stupid little holes they get in the front of them where your jeans button rubs against it, so annoying!

It feels good - by reducing your wardrobe to just the items you will be wearing and getting all those other things off the shelf and in to a storage box so you don’t have to wade through it all every day will make it neater, quicker and easier to see each piece in your wardrobe without the clutter.

It will make your decisions quicker each morning - if you fill your wardrobe with pieces you like, that fit and only give yourself a limited number of choices, no more debating each morning.

It will save you money – no more random, ‘accidental’ purchases and when you do give yourself permission to shop for your next capsule wardrobe you can do it guilt free because you’ve planned these purchases.

I think one of the big benefits is spending less mental energy and frustration on what you are going to wear each day, or the time spent shopping. If you read up on time saving strategies, one of the key pieces of advice is look at parts of your day that you can automate. That is, do faster and with less thinking and I think the caspule wardrobe is a great strategy for saving time. It also means you are freeing up time for things you would rather do, like an extra few minutes to savour your morning coffee!

Have you done it, would you do it?