Trying a Capsule Wardrobe on For Size

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You might remember I set a $500 clothing budget for myself this year. This has been hard for me, in a number of ways — it’s hard to stick to a budget, but even acquiring a few pieces here and there, I’m left feeling like I have a closet stuffed with clothes but I still wake up and struggle to get dressed because I have nothing I want to wear. Part of this is a hangover from years past where I bought far too many clothes because they were on sale, or a bargain at Goodwill, or I thought might spice up my otherwise drab wardrobe, but part of it is also my lack of planning or organization or ability to give a hamster’s ham hock when it comes to clothes.

I’ve always struggled with picking clothes and feeling good about what I wear — I don’t know if this is because I went to school for eight years in a very strict uniform (I did), because my mom never let me choose my own clothes as a kid (she didn’t), or because I fall somewhere awkward on the social-graces spectrum and it took me more than 30 years to learn that maybe this is something that I should and could learn to care about and navigate in an appropriately professional adult kind of way (I do, it was, I’m trying).

It was in this context that somehow through the great graces of the frugal gods, I ended up stumbling upon a blog post describing a “capsule wardrobe.” The idea in a nut-sized capsule is that you winnow your wardrobe down to just a handful of pieces (well, 37, so maybe slightly more than a literal handful) that are versatile and generally coordinated, with a few “statement” pieces thrown in for good measure. The idea of getting my closet down to 37 pieces seemed impossible, but I had reached a place of such frustration with owning so many clothes that I would put on in the morning and then immediately take off and exchange for something different that I had to try. I also had a clothing swap coming up (more on that!), so it was a good excuse to spend the weekend emptying out my entire closet. Literally. Everything came out and on to my bed, floor, chair, and an incredibly tolerant Cheddar Pup.

I didn’t get down to 37, but I got pretty darn close. I haven’t done a full tally, but not counting gym clothes, underwear, and PJs, it’s at about 70 for all seasons (made much easier by the fact that there are only two “seasons” in Seattle: wet, slightly cool and dry, slightly warm). AH-MAZING.

I’m very curious to see how it works, but a week in, it’s pretty spectacular. I haven’t changed clothes when getting dressed in the morning or felt “stuck” to pick out an outfit. There are one or two basic items that I’d like to add to the mix, but other than that, I’m happy — and it’s nice to know exactly what those items are that I “need,” rather than being tempted by bargains or the artificial scarcity of my $500 budget. I’ve been wearing more of my “work” clothes in my casual life and more of my “casual” clothes to work, and making better use of what I already have and use, which I know is going to be good for my budget bottom line!

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One thought on “Trying a Capsule Wardrobe on For Size”

  1. I’d love to hear what you think when you’ve had more months under your belt. It’s something I’ve read about, but haven’t yet done. But obviously I did that when I was traveling and I loved it. I still find I wear the same clothes over and over again. Did you start with a list of what you wanted to keep or wear, or did you start by winnowing down what you already had?

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