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Capsule Wardrobe 101

By: Jessica Nicole CanaberalCapsule Wardrobe 101

Are you someone who can’t figure out what to wear every morning? You find the process of mixing and matching your clothes tedious? And most of the time you don’t have the energy to come up with an outfit the night before since you’re tired from work and commute?

If that’s the case, why not give capsule wardrobe a try? This style challenge, which gained popularity on the Internet around 2014, has become a staple among those who want to exercise their creativity in styling their clothes or lessen their time and money on clothing.

Collins Dictionary describes a capsule wardrobe as “a collection of clothes and accessories that includes only items considered essential”, which is true but still more than that.

The term was originally coined by Susie Faux in the 80s, who described it as having a minimal wardrobe consisting of 30 to 40 versatile and high-quality items that will meet one’s needs for a certain period. “Wearing only a fraction of your closet is supposed to reinforce the idea that you can be happy with less, plus you’ll save money in the long run buying fewer, quality clothes and skipping the mediocre items,” she said. Faux said that there are no strict guidelines for creating your capsule wardrobe and the size is highly personal, meaning it depends on your lifestyle, climate, season, and other preferences.

Caroline Rector, who sparked the capsule wardrobe movement with her blog Un-fancy, recommends starting with 37 pieces. Those items are primarily clothing, but can also include shoes, bags, and accessories. However, that does not mean that these will be the only clothing you will wear even if you sleep, exercise or do other activities. Most people omit their underwear, sleepwear, workout clothes, and seasonal items in their capsule collection unless you want to create one just for those categories.

The number is also dependent on the days you will be working with these items. Lee Vosburgh of Style Bee has created the 10 x 10 challenge, wherein she styles ten pieces of clothing for 10 days. She has also stretched the amount to 20 items for 20 days and has this challenge per season.

Meanwhile, Courtney Carver of Be More with Less has a twist on the concept with Project 333 wherein she works with 33 items for 3 months. With all these variations of a capsule wardrobe, you have the power to choose which you want to follow – do you want to dip your toes into this trend by working with only 10 pieces for 10 days or do you want to see the potential of the other items in your closet for the next three months?

Although it feels tempting to buy a whole new wardrobe for this challenge, it is encouraged that you work with what you have. You can add an item or two if you feel like this piece will pair well with what you have compiled.

It is also enticing to have your capsule wardrobe consisting of only neutral colors so it is easy to mix and match, but adding bright colors into the mix adds more interest to your outfits and will make them more memorable.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Know your whys first.

Identifying the reason why you want to start a capsule wardrobe will put things into perspective. Can you relate to any of the reasons mentioned earlier? If you did, then get to your dressers and closets and open them up!

  1. Look and sort all of your stuff.

Take out all of your clothing, bags, shoes, and accessories and assess them individually if they are items that you truly love and wear or if they are items that are versatile enough to be paired with at least 3 items in your closet.

  1. Declutter.

If there are pieces you have not worn in ages or is not your style anymore, let them go to someone else who will wear them. If you are unsure about some pieces, you can keep them aside for a while or ask yourself if you will wear them in the next 3-6 months. If the answer is yes, it can stay in your closet but if your answer is no, add it to your donation pile.

  1. Plan your capsule.

Now that you have gone through your stuff, it is now time to curate them into your capsule wardrobe. It is during this stage that you can research for inspiration on how you want it to look like, such as what styles you want it to reflect or what colors will be in it. This is also the time where you identify what your edited wardrobe needs, which leads us to the next step.

  1. Shop for the missing links.

Missing a pair of shorts for your summer capsule or a sweater for your rainy one? You have the permission to shop for those items, but make sure that you do not go overboard. Find only what you need.

  1. Accept that it is a process.

There might be times that you make mistakes in creating your capsule wardrobe and that’s okay. Cassie Johnson of Wholefully encourages us to be open to tweaking our curated wardrobe and think of it as a living, breathing thing. “This is your wardrobe and it needs to work for you,” she emphasized.

A capsule wardrobe has been a game-changer for a lot of people since they have more time and money to spend on more important things. They also have more mental space to think of more pressing matters than matching a shirt with these pants.

Former US president Barack Obama said it best when describing his usual attire: “You'll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I'm trying to pare down decisions. I don't want to make decisions about what I'm eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make."


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