Capsule wardrobes pop up in our Instagram feeds, Tumblr dashes, and on almost every modern, minimalist lifestyle YouTuber's main channel. Most stories on capsule wardrobes focus on the popular of buzz words in this post-Marie-Kondo-on-Netflix world, minimalism. But, it's more than just having a stripped down life.
First, what is a capsule wardrobe at all? The term "capsule wardrobe" came around in the 1970's and was coined by Susie Faux, a London-based boutique owner. At the time, the capsule wardrobe was defined as "a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don't go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces."
Yes, part of the process is to own less than you previously did. However, a huge effect of having a consolidated, streamlined wardrobe means that you will be more likely to be selective which will cut down the amount of nonsense you have in your closet.
And when I say nonsense, I don't mean your fun clothes. I rarely wear just neutrals (besides the always amazing all-black outfit) and love bright and even gaudy colors and patters. I especially partake in the blasphemy of pattern clashing on purpose. Dressing somewhat obnoxiously brings me joy but for the sake of my bank account and my sanity -- I watch how much I own.
Staying picky with my pieces means that I'll cut down the amount of money that I spend, while still owning possessions that I truly love and that make me happy. For me, I also want to spend less money on unsustainable fast fashions which I am historically guilty of collecting in my closet. Instead my goal is to buy selective pieces that may be more expensive, but well-made and long-lasting so they become investments. The best way for me to keep that consistent maintenance of my wardrobe that is to regularly monitor the clothes that I have.
I always refer to the KonMarie method first, which I spoke extensively about here. The essential thought behind it all is to remove anything from your space that does not bring you "joy." I had a hard time of letting go of clothes that hold dear memories, but once I made sure I knew that I had lasting mental memories of me with those physical items, I felt better about donating the physical items to someone else.
The process towards my dream capsule wardrobe is still currently in the making, and most of the initial fears related to minimalism and expressing myself have faded away. I struggled with the thought of possibly not having enough clothes to last me throughout different times of the year and, therefore, falling back into the habit of over-shopping.
Through various videos, such as this one, I have come to realize that my capsule wardrobe can exist in one way for one season (ex. summer) and just switch out some pieces for others in a different season (ex. winter).
Even the process of cleaning out my current wardrobe (which includes an embarrassingly excessive 50 t-shirts) has proven to be an inspiring one. I have effectively stopped buying clothing unless I am incredibly in need of something. However, considering the sheer volume of fabric I own, that problem will not arise any time soon.
What I am doing is something that I think is incredibly fun, but might not suit everyone. I put little markers (post-its or bits of washi tape) on my clothes hangers to mark that I have worn that particular item of clothing after I wear it for the day. If I have worn something, then I try not to wear it again (unless it's an essential, ex. jeans). I try not to repeat an article of clothing until I have worn every thing in my closet for regular wear. It is through this process that I have placed aside most of my unwanted clothes.
If an article of clothing fits me poorly or just makes be uncomfortable or embarrassed to wear it, then it has no place in my closet.
The end result will include all the essentials that you needed to wear on a daily basis that serve you well combined with most significant bits that actually make you smile when you wear them, which is really what your wardrobe should do for you. If you're interested in tons of different outfits that you can put together with just a few clothes, I have some favorite videos here, here, and here.
I am still in the process of elimination, as I said, but I am confident that this will result in a well-balanced wardrobe of useful basic essentials and exciting, inspiring pieces that'll last me for years and never go out of style. That's the goal!