“Ugh, I don’t have anything to wear!”
This was me — painfully so. To be honest, I’ve never been great at dressing myself. I’d study the magazines and the blogs and the Instagrammers, and there’s this endless supply of chic-looking women who all seem to just know what makes an outfit.
Then, I’d go to my own closet and just stand there in my underwear, looking blankly at my wardrobe so full that I kept having to buy more hangers to keep all of the dresses and shirts and random articles of clothing scattered across the floor.
I couldn’t put an outfit together to save my life. I didn’t want to admit it, but it had a huge impact on my self-esteem and confidence. At 28 years old, I was being mistaken for a high schooler, between my juvenile wardrobe and my small frame (your girl is only 4’10”!). It was time for the glow up, as they say.
The concept of minimizing my wardrobe already sounded appealing to my lifestyle preferences, but then I started reading and learning more about the fast fashion industry as a whole. I didn’t want to give my money to companies like that, especially considering the fact that those ultra-trendy clothes lost their social cache in less time than it took for the cheap thread to unravel.
Who really has the money for that kind of waste?
Now that I’ve been living with my capsule wardrobe for a little over a month, I wanted to share an update to let y’all know how it’s going and how you can start one, too.
Creating the Ideal Capsule Wardrobe
First thing’s first: You need to figure out what it is you want.
The best way I’ve found to get off the ground in creating a capsule wardrobe is to get on Pinterest. You can use Pinterest as a way to start visualizing your perfect wardrobe.
Make a fresh board for your new Capsule Wardrobe inspiration board, so you can start pinning right away. Head over to the “Women’s Clothing” section, and feel free to add in any search terms that you think will relate to your personal style. When you’re pinning, think about the shapes, colors, styles, fit, and whatever else it is that typically makes or breaks a piece of clothing for you. Don’t think too hard about it! If you like it, pin it.
You can see here with mine that I tend to gravitate toward clean, subdued colors and classic styles. When I’m looking at clothing right now, I’m asking myself two major questions:
- Do I LOVE this piece of clothing?
- Can I see myself wearing this in 10 years?
If I can’t say “yes” to both of those questions, it doesn’t go in my closet or on my inspiration pin board. (You can see what I’m pinning to my capsule wardrobe inspiration board here!)
Once you’ve got a decent handle on what you want in your closet, you can start the hard part: Cleaning out what you’ve already got.
Clearing Out the Closet
By and large, this was the most tedious (and sometimes emotionally challenging) part of the process of downsizing to the capsule wardrobe. For some reason, it is in our nature to attach emotions and memories to the objects we collect. Over time, this can lead to some serious hoarding.
The secret to this step is doing it on a day that you’re feeling good about yourself.
Go through every single item in your closet, lay it out, and try it on. If you don’t absolutely love how you feel when you’re wearing it, get rid of it. If it doesn’t fit into your ideal aesthetic that you’ve laid out in your capsule wardrobe inspiration board, get rid of it. Because let’s get real — you’re not wearing it, you’re not going to wear it, and to keep it is selfish and only serves to clutter our homes and our minds.
Separate all of your clothes into three piles: Keep, Donate, and Toss. If you are really struggling with downsizing, have a fourth pile, then put the items in that pile in a box. If you haven’t missed anything in that box after a month, just donate the box — don’t even open it.
You can soften the blow of the downsize by taking the best pieces in your Donate pile and re-selling them to make a little extra cash back. Look in your area for a consignment shop, or use a service like ThreadUp — they’ll send you a bag to fill up with your gently used clothing, you send it back, and BOOM! Cash! Or you can use that cash you earn and exchange it for “new” clothes you find on the ThreadUp website and fill out the gaps in your new capsule wardrobe. (Here’s a free $10 to spend on ThreadUp, from me to you!)
Choosing “New” Quality Pieces + Brands
This may seem obvious, but don’t just go back out there and hunt through the fast fashion racks for pieces that will fit your visual aesthetic. When you’re choosing your clothes from now on, keep your eyes peeled for quality fabrics and well-structured items. How durable is the threading? Does the fabric easily snag? What about the brand? How do they treat their workers? What about the earth?
When you can, do your best to shop second hand. That’s one of the most effective ways to combat the fast fashion industry! By buying “old” clothes, you’re bucking the standard that you need the most up-to-date ultra-trendy clothing to be a valuable, attractive woman. Even better, you’re taking money right out of the pockets of the brands that abuse the planet and its inhabitants.
One of the most appealing parts of maintaining a capsule wardrobe is that you’ll save money and conserve resources around the world. You’ll be making a smaller impact on the environment — between sourcing, manufacturing, transportation, and the inevitable end that clothing meets in the thrift store or landfill — every sale we don’t make is promising a better future for our planet.
Get Creative With What You Have (+ Get an App, If Necessary)
I cannot tell you how many times I watched Clueless growing up and dreamed of the day that I could start up my computer and have it choose my outfits for me. I was always into technology in the first place, and this seemed like such a genius and necessary tool for people like me who just could not seem to put an outfit together.
Enter: Stylebook. This has been a GAME CHANGER for me. I am eternally grateful to the ladies in the Fair+Frugal Collective on Facebook, who introduced me to this gem of an app.
In a nutshell, you’ll take all your clothes, lay them out, take a snapshot of each piece, and catalogue it in the Stylebook app. Then, you can create “Looks” and even include your inspirations from Pinterest to help guide you in creating your looks.
Even better, the app has a function that lets you select categories in your wardrobe to give you all of the combinations available for that set of criteria.
For example, say you want to create outfits that are comprised of a dress, a pair of heels, and one accessory. You’d select these categories, then let Stylebook do the work! Save what you like, ditch the rest.
If you want to know more about how Stylebook works, drop your email in the form at the top of this page! I’ll be giving an in-depth instructional tutorial on how to use Stylebook (and the process of creating a Pinterest inspiration board for your capsule wardrobe) in the Art of Slow Living Course, coming soon to fair+frugal.
Don’t Let Anyone Tell You What to Do
Remember why you’re doing this. It’s for YOU. Don’t feel like you need to adhere to some specific set of rules of minimalism. They don’t really exist!
You may see cool hashtags like #Project333 — a movement started by a woman who challenged herself to limit her wardrobe to only 33 items for 30 days (and went on to just stick to this lifestyle permanently). She included accessories and shoes in the 33 item limit. This worked out great for her, and it’s done great things for many other women out there.
But you don’t need to stress yourself out if 33 items isn’t realistic to you.
Play by your own rules. Maybe you want 50 items. Maybe that doesn’t include your collection of handmade bags or your stash of designer shoes. Maybe you want a winter capsule wardrobe and a summer capsule wardrobe.
Just do you, girl ~
The point of the capsule wardrobe is to make yourself happy, make getting dressed a less stressful task, make never-ending laundry days a thing of the past, and make a smaller impact on the environment. As long as you’re happy and making the process fun, you’re doing it right.