Learning From My Capsule Wardrobe

BeFunky Design

I started 2016 with a mission to clean out my closet and live on a very limited wardrobe for three months at a time. Like most projects and I, they all start with good intentions and then fall into remiss. I do get the question, “so are you still living with a capsule wardrobe” every so often, so I figure I’d update.

Short answer: not really.

Long answer.

I went back and looked at my original posts last year to remind myself why I wanted to limit my clothing resources. At the core, I was frustrated by having a closet full of clothes and “nothing to wear/pack for trips/etc.” The sheer amount of stuff I had hanging in my closet overwhelmed me and I just went to the same 5 pieces during the work week anyway. Then I kept adding clothes to the mix. (Dumb idea.)

After I cleaned everything out and put together my outfits for the quarter, I felt accomplished! Packing for my business trips was easy. I even downgraded to a simple carry-on for most trips.

But things happened mid-capsule. The weather would change dramatically. My office would transition to a different dress code for a week, quarter, or busy time. I’d be traveling even more. I had fancier events at the dance studio. And the killer – I got bored with my closet toward the end of each capsule. I found myself changing out items mid-capsule a lot, simply because something called for it.

Needless to say, a capsule wardrobe life doesn’t fit my lifestyle at all. No matter how many articles of clothing or shoes I tried to pare down to, I always ended up with other items in the closet.

However, it wasn’t all for naught. I did learn several things and still keep those in the back my mind when looking at my closet.

I liked saving money during the capsule, so I aim to purchase new items for my closet from secondhand sources. My favorite is still ThredUp for convenience sake, but I’ll trade or buy items on Ebay, Facebook groups, or Craigslist. If I have a chance, I also check out thrift stores and consignment shops in the area. (But, shopping in person? Who has time for that?)

My aimless searching through aisles in Target or Ross for new clothes doesn’t really happen anymore. This has cut the Target bill down a bit per month. (Or goes toward Bean’s wardrobe budget.)

I attempt to shop smarter. Brand new items ideally come from ethically produced or conscious sources. I try to shop local shops, Etsy stores, or “made in USA” items. I try to cater my subscription box profiles to ask for Made in USA items so I can still enjoy the surprise aspect of personal shopping. I would love to one day have a “greener” closet, but this is a financial undertaking on its own.

I have become incredibly picky about what I buy. I try to avoid items that “just fit okay” or “are cute pants but don’t have pockets.”

I alter or repair clothes, rather than donating them to someone else who might fix them. (Unlikely.)

I now pack up and store my “dead of winter” clothes, rather than leave them out during the summer months. (I never did this and I’m not sure why.)

I adhere to a color scheme and avoid adding new pieces to my closet that don’t fit within those parameters. There is currently no red, orange, chocolate brown, or yellow in my closet, for example. No plans to add them either.

I don’t throw clothes in the wash after one wear. (Unless it’s gross.) Clothes are washed as closely as possible to the care instructions on the label. Lots of things get hung dry.


I’m not trying to discourage anyone from trying to clean out their closet and make their remaining items work. Pinterest makes it look so damn simple as well. But since I have so many different facets to my life, it was difficult to limit myself to a set number of months and items. And I spent more time during each “season” fixing my closet to cater to outside events and weather – which defeats the purpose of having a capsule!

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