When I started this project, I promised myself something: I am NOT going to be one of those people who does a “I’ve learned SOOOO much” reflection post like, two days after they started some life changing habit. “I’ll wait a year… at least!” (I told myself). But having already realized some missteps I’ve made, I can’t help but feel I need to come clean and talk about some things I would do differently if creating my current capsule over again.
So, let me be real here.
I’ve been living with my current capsule wardrobe (started as 48 pieces, more on that as I go) for about eight weeks. I’m a little more than halfway through the original “winter season” I had planned (January 1 – March 31), so change is only six weeks away – or sooner because this warm weather does not seem to be going away. Thank. Goodness.
Lesson #1 – Out with the old is worth the time and effort.
The best thing I’ve learned so far: I’ve learned that I do not miss ONE thing I sold or donated. I loosely used the KonMari method when getting rid of clothes I wasn’t wearing. Marie Kondo says you must hold every item in your hands when going through your possessions. You can’t just open a closet, look inside, and say “I think we’re good here! Looks like I like everything I see.”
So, you pick up something you own. Does it bring you joy? If so, you keep it. If not, you toss it (to sell or donate, or throw away if it’s in bad condition). It’s pretty simple. And you’re not going to accidentally get rid of something you really really like if you’re going through every item individually and asking yourself that key question each time. In fact, I have a difficult time even remembering the items I got rid of – If you don’t ever wear it or you do not love it, you will not miss it. The process might seem time consuming, and at first it is, but your judgement gets stronger as you go and you’re able to make decisions very quickly.
Also, I’ve added up what I made selling off the clothes I wasn’t wearing, and it’s well over $200. Definitely way less than what I paid for them, but more than they were really worth to me since I was not using them. And I also got to donate other great clothes I could not sell, and I know other people are enjoying them. Win!
Next week I’ll share my experience selling to an online thrift store and how it can make cleaning out WELL worth your time.
Lesson #2 – Make sure you have somethin’ fancy (enough).
I would say my winter capsule is 90% casual and 10% dressy. I thought this fit my life because I work from home. Also, I used to just wear gym clothes all day, so how many dressy tops could I really need? Well, more than zero — I’ve learned that. If I was going to re-do this capsule, I would have purchased at least two dressier tops. You can catch a glimpse of my very casual wardrobe (tops) in this post.
The silver lining here is that I’ve had to learn how to creatively make outfits dressier by layering or adding fun jewelry. I’ve never really made an effort before to style an outfit to make it look more interesting, so that part of “missing” certain items has been fun; but I’d like to add more items in the date night or formal/professional category throughout the next couple of seasons. Most of the clothes in my current wardrobe are items I already owned, so this was probably bound to happen by virtue of how I’ve dressed for the past year. Going forward, I plan to be very intentional about how I shop, so I am currently making a list of the items I think would fill out some of these gaps in my wardrobe and then I will prioritize those items when it’s time to shop again.
My advice here is that if you feel like you have a very one-dimensional wardrobe and want to either add more casual or dressier items, take it slow and use some inexpensive accessories to change the look of your outfits in the meantime. Going out on a spree and buying tons of clothing in one category will likely lead to buyers remorse (I’ve done this enough times to know), so it’s better to make an intentional list and look for specific items. For example, a blazer can make a whole closet of casual tops (even a white t-shirt) look more dressy, so start there instead of buying 10 dressy tops.
Lesson #3: Don’t do repeats. At least not in a capsule wardrobe.
You ever hear some people say “I loved it so much, I bought one in every color!”. I wouldn’t say I’m that kind of shopper, but I do understand why people shop that way. I definitely find a style of shirt I like and buy a lot in that category. I currently have a white v-neck tee, a white sleeveless tee, and a white satin v-neck blouse. They are all very versatile and great for layering, and the satin blouse can at least be easily dressed up. But, they are all so similar that I don’t really need them all. I do like them all, so I’m keeping them for now – but if you do this too many times over in your wardrobe, you might start getting that “All my outfits looks alike, I’ve worn this a million times, I have nothing to wear” attitude.
I had an old baseball tee and this Madewell top that looked pretty similar. The problem was, I kept picking up the same one that I liked best and the other was going unworn. Eventually, I just got tired of walking in to my closet and going: “Why did I keep this”? So, I decided not to. For this reason, I’ve already eliminated three items out of my 48 item wardrobe. So technically, I’m dressing with 45 items now. I have not bought anything to replace the items I let go, because it isn’t really keeping with the spirit of why I started the capsule wardrobe project: to find contentment. To learn to be happy with “enough”.
Lesson #4: It’s best to wait it out.
When you feel it’s time to buy something, it is a good idea to wait it out for a little while for a couple of reasons.
First, you want to be sure it’s an item that will really add to what you’ve got going. Shop from a place of “enough”. Don’t believe yourself when you start to say “I NEED this black jacket”, because you probably don’t. Maybe you really like it and it would get a lot of use, though. If you wait a while I find yourself thinking “A black jacket would really complete this outfit” again and again, then you can be confident that it’s time to look for a black jacket and you aren’t just buying to buy.
Second, it’s worth it to find the “perfect” one that is going to be well worth your money, however much you spend. If you’re an impatient shopper like me, you might grab the first cute black jacket you saw that fit well and consider it a successful shopping trip. But have you considered the quality? And are you sure you couldn’t have found a much better deal if you have looked around or bought a better brand second-hand? Due to the difficult lesson learned in #2 (not having enough dressier pieces), I’ve started a list of a few items I would like to change out/add next season. Normally, I would start buying as soon as I identified a “need”. But this time is different.
Here is where it gets a little tricky. This whole experiment is supposed to be fun. Not miserable. Do I really want to “make myself” keep wearing clothes that aren’t doing all that much for me? Well, no. Not really. Not at all, actually. It seems kind of silly to have hard-fast rules about what to buy, when to buy, what to wear.
But I also know myself. In the past, I really struggled with impulse buying. I would end up spending a lot of money on things I didn’t really love because I just “needed” something, it seemed like a really good deal, or I was just exhausted from a long shopping trip and felt like I couldn’t leave empty-handed without calling the whole day a waste of time. I’m still fighting off these impulses, but I know the pay-out will be worth it.
So instead of actually spending money, I’m currently making a shopping list and budget for Spring capsule wardrobe shopping – and I will share the list next week! And instead of waiting and transitioning to my Spring wardrobe April 1st as planned, I will probably slowly roll it out as I acquire items from my shopping list. Because at this rate it’s going to be 90 degrees outside and a third of my closet will be heavy sweaters!
If you’re thinking of trying out a capsule wardrobe, don’t let the fear of making mistakes stop you! I don’t regret starting this project one bit. Even though I don’t love everything about my wardrobe right now, I can confidently say that I am enjoying it more than my previously crammed wardrobe of items I didn’t ever wear. I also feel like I have real direction for the next time I go shopping, something I would have never learned without a capsule wardrobe. So go for it!