Creating A Capsule Wardrobe: A New Approach To Defining Your Style

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Any time I've ever caught myself saying, "I have nothing to wear," I instantly feel a pang of guilt. It's such a senseless thing to say while standing in front of hangers worth of clothes, all of which entered your life in one way or another. The white sleeveless blouse that was a personal reward for accomplishing a long-term goal. The dress my mom found at a consignment shop for my graduation. The hand-me-down shoes from my little sister.

The guilt comes from a lack of gratitude for what exists and the reminder that to have a closet or a drawer or a dresser or a pile for that matter is a privilege not to take for granted.

The reality is, it's not that we have nothing to wear. Perhaps it's that we have just been looking without wearing the proper glasses. That's what I learned when I embarked on creating my own capsule wardrobe.

A little background first...

The truth is, I love style but I cannot style clothes particularly well. (Maybe that partially explains the "nothing to wear" thing.) Still to this day, my mom is responsible for some of my favorite pieces in my closet, and she and my sister keep me in check when I seemingly cannot connect the dots for a well-done ensemble. And, admittedly, I don't go shopping a whole lot. It's not just because styling isn't my thing. I'm 4'll'' and finding clothes that don't require a tailor to cut off or reshape half the fabric is nothing shy of a miracle. Plus, tailors are kind of expensive.

With all that in mind, it makes sense that there are a lot of things in my closet that have been there for quite some time. Like, we are talking freshman year of high school. I'd say they are classics, but just because they have classic cuts doesn't mean they've stood the test of time. Simply put, there are a lot of pieces that are worn out to the point of no return. There are some that my friends have kindly informed me are no longer relevant (I think that's their nice way of saying "out of style"). And there are some that I simply don't like anymore. 

I think we all get to that point with the multitude of things that surround us. It's kind of like a Disney Channel show. We talk about them like they were everything growing up (I mean, Lizzie McGuire was EVERYTHING.) but if we were to go back and watch them now, they probably wouldn't have the same appeal they had when we were in middle school. I think it's like that with clothes.

As we grow up and uncover more of who we are, we further define all that represents us on the outside as well, including our personal style.

Since I'm not the frequent shopper, it made it all the more obvious that I had outgrown the clothes that were representing me. And when you get to a point where very little of your wardrobe speaks to who you are at a deeper level, that's when you know it's time for a change. 

So what is a capsule wardrobe?

I wish I could tell you where I was introduced to it first, but it was likely something related to Marie Kondo, the author of the famed book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (which can be found in our bookstore)Her book is all about de-cluttering your life and leaving only what "sparks joy." 

I learned that the capsule wardrobe was a term coined by Susie Faux, who owned a popular London boutique called "Wardrobe" back in the '70s. Her idea of a capsule wardrobe was a collection of staple pieces that were so versatile they could be worn in different seasons and then paired with a few seasonal additions. Donna Karen brought the term to fame in the '80s when she did an interchangeable work-wear line. 

However, I think it's become a hot topic as of lately because of the push towards minimalism, in part thanks to Marie Kondo. In a world where everything seems to be at capacity and darkness can sometimes feel all-consuming, there's something powerful about bringing in the light to all that we do, even if it's as seemingly frivolous as creating a joyful wardrobe.

What does a capsule wardrobe consist of?

Kate spoke about this two months ago, but Project 333 is a leader in the capsule wardrobe practice. Founded by Courtney Carver, the idea is to create a wardrobe of 33 pieces that you will wear for three months–the length of a typical "style season." In a similar vein to Marie Kondo's method, the goal is to only have select pieces in your closet that you love and in turn, add an element of simplicity to your life.

In my research, I've learned that it's not the exact number that matters most. It's the intention of downsizing for inner peace and outward joy. How someone curates their own capsule wardrobe is up to them and their needs.

Why I'm creating a capsule wardrobe

Simply put, my wardrobe doesn't reflect who I am and I'm a big believer that inward self-actualization should be channeled outward. Otherwise, it's not real. I want to ensure what I wear is a representation of who I am. 

The reason I'm building a capsule wardrobe rather than just revamping my closet is for a few reasons:

  1. I want to simplify. There are far too many things that belong to me and they'd be better utilized in the hands of someone else. 
  2. I don't need more. I need to do more with less. Remember how I said maybe we just need to look at our closet with the right glasses? This is my intention: put on the right glasses and build a personal style that speaks to my soul.
  3. Like I said, I'm not so great at styling. A capsule wardrobe ensures things are easily matchable and that everything works together. 

So what's next? 

Now you know my why and what a capsule wardrobe looks like. For the next few weeks, I'll be documenting how I built my own capsule collection, in hopes that we can all learn together what personal style really means and how we can simplify our closets in order to reignite our joy. 

As I kick this off, any style, shopping, or donating tips you'd like to share? Have you built a capsule wardrobe yourself? Share all your advice in the comments please!


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