14 months ago I came across the concept of capsule wardrobes and fell in love! It was a eureka moment that gave definition to a desire I had for less. I had already started simplifying our home drawer by drawer, corner by corner (which was all I had time for!) and after a year we were really starting to enjoy the benefits of a cleaner, more minimalist home. Neither of us had a lot in the way of clothes but, as all closets go, there were certainly opportunities to pare down. Coming across the idea of a simply and cleverly put-together wardrobe gave further clarity to my longings and I’m thankful for the inspiration! With four capsule wardrobes under my belt and many people asking if I am still capsule-wardrobing (new verb!) I thought I’d share how it’s going and my thoughts/motivation behind it. Here’s a photo of my first-evercapsule wardrobe and answers to some frequently asked questions below. I’ve also written a part two to this post
that I’ll share next week outlining some of my personal motivations behind having less and the global, environmental and spiritual benefits I’ve noticed as a result.
So… how did it go? In one word, wonderfully! The simplicity and peace of mind was all you could imagine! Choosing my wardrobe wasn’t too difficult - I decided I didn’t want to buy new clothes but work with what I already had. It was satisfying to choose my set number of
pieces for the season, put aside my off-season clothes for a future capsule and give away the excess. The end result was a cleaner and more visually appealing wardrobe. I felt like I had more control of my things rather than my things controlling me. I especially appreciated not worrying about what to wear to weddings or business-casual events because I had already planned outfits for either occasion ahead of time.
What is a capsule wardrobe? A capsule wardrobe is having a set number of clothes for a season. My capsule wardrobes range from 25-30 pieces including pants, shirts, sweaters, jackets, dresses, shoes, etc. What it doesn’t include is exercise clothes, swim-wear and pajamas. How often do you do a capsule? I make two capsules a year. One for spring/summer and another for fall/winter.
Some of my clothes carry into both capsules (e.g., jeans). I had an additional (and unusual) capsule this fall when Nigel and I were traveling for three and a half months. That capsule certainly wins the prize for the smallest and most diverse! I had only a carry-on suitcase and had to pack for India, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Germany. Needless to say, those countries require a range of clothes - modesty for India/Indonesia, summer clothes for Australia/New Zealand, and warm clothes for Germany. Where else but India can you get away with wearing a matching bright yellow shirt and scarf? Certainly not in Germany, haha!
What are some of the challenges and do you ever run out of clothes?! Haha, this is my favourite question and, yes, I did run out of shirts to wear last summer. Everyone’s life is unique with their own rhythms/commitments, etc. For me one thing that makes capsule-wardrobing easier is the
fact that I’m a nurse and have the best uniform on the planet: scrubs (#supercomfortable, #nothoughtrequired)! Thus I don’t wear my regular clothes about one-third of thetime. Some people think that it’s a freebie card for me but it’s countered with another factor…
Due to our busy lives and the fact that we aren’t allowed a washing machine in our apartment, we have a laundry routine of washing clothes every other Wednesday. So if my favourite shirt is dirty, I have to find something else to wear until we reach laundry day again. This makes capsule-wardrobing more difficult. For two weeks last summer we were at conferences and I wasn’t working at the hospital as often as usual. This was when I ran out of shirts to wear so I added two more shirts to my capsule that week and my wardrobe went from 23 to 25 items. :)
Do you get bored of your clothes? When I was a kid my resourceful Mom used to rotate our toys. She would quietly hide away some of our toys for a month and then suddenly they would reappear! As kids we were so excited to see our toys we hadn’t seen in a while - they felt brand new! This is what rotating between two wardrobes feels like. When winter came I felt like I had gone on a big shopping spree while I unpacked clothes and boots I hadn’t seen for months - except I hadn’t spent a cent! I find it’s a creative way to fill the craving that I have for something new. I also notice that my capsules naturally transition. Like the time I wore the same flip-flops almost full time for three months in Asia and they fell apart on our last day (perfect timing!
#timefornewflipflops) I also started exercising more regularly and lost a few pounds (woohoo!) so I had to replace a few pairs of pants. Thus my capsule wardrobes have evolved over the past year getting new-to-me (I’ll share more about that next week!) clothes here and there. That being said the only capsule I felt bored with was my capsule while we were traveling because I was wearing the same clothes over and over again. I’m okay with a bit of boredom though because, as I’ll share next week, having a capsule wardrobe isn’t primarily for my own pleasure (although I sure benefit from it!). I am motivated by global, environmental and spiritual reasons that I find really exciting. I also remember those who literally have only one or two shirts and don’t have any other options and suddenly my capsule seems extravagant!
How much do you spend on your wardrobe? One of my motivations for having a capsule wardrobe is spending less on myself so I can give more to others in need. As I’ve simplified my wardrobe, I’ve started to be more picky about how much I spend on each item. Recently, I was looking at my current wardrobe and realized my most expensive item was only $15. In fact as I added up how much I spent on each item I realized my entire capsule is $100! I made a visual of my current capsule to show how much I’ve spent on my wardrobe (see top of article). I hope this is an encouragement to those living on a tight budget and a challenge to those with bigger budgets to see how much we can give to others rather than spend on ourselves.
Where do you get your clothes? I get my clothes from hand-me-downs, clothes-swaps with friends, second-hand stores and when I buy new I basically only buy things on mega-sale :)
I hope answering these FAQs is an encouragement to you. Perhaps you’ll have a eureka moment, like I had 14-months ago, to live with less and as a result have more to give to others (time, money, energy).