This Winter, I was finally able to shed my boring business-casual attire after leaving my 9 to 5. Given the change, I decided to try a capsule wardrobe. I selected about 40 items for my wardrobe and pledged to only wear those items till Spring time! I made it!
But this goes deeper than that, I have always had a complicated relationship with clothes. Buying was a stimulant for me at various points of my life. It probably started when my parents were getting divorced and my mom would take me clothes shopping every weekend to compensate for the other chaos in my life. I don't blame her of course, she was only trying her best. But it created a pattern which has taken me years to shake. Feel bad? Go buy something. Bad feelings come back? Go buy something else. Repeat cycle.
Don't get me wrong, I do love clothes. I worked retail for years in college and learned to appreciate cut, fabric and fit. But clothes were also a source of insecurity, debt, and shame for me. In college, I got into debt partially buying clothes every time there was a new event, or party for me to attend. Later in life, I used clothes to cover my body and gained weight during an unhappy period of my life. When I was happier I lost weight, but went back to buying things on a regular basis.
Then I had a child my body changed so much and my lifestyle became unrecognizable too! The mini-skirts of my past didn't translate into chasing an infant who is now a pre-schooler.
But my wardrobe consisted of pieces from all of those different parts of my past and present.
This capsule was a way for me to shed things that no longer suited me (either physically or emotionally) and to assess the actual wardrobe I had. I mean, did things actually match into useful outfits that made me feel good about myself? Was there pieces there that I actually loved? Did my closet feel curated or just thrown together? What was my actual style?
Read on to find out how I put together my capsule and what I discovered.
Here are some tips to get you started!
I got rid of several bags of clothes, and shoes (that was just in my upstairs closet). I think I still need another show purge! I focused mostly on Winter clothes but i'm sure there's a Summer purge coming soon!
This is the time where you can observe what type of shopper you are. Ideally, at this point you have items that you love, items that you can see yourself wearing for a long time even. Hopefully, you have basics that actually suit your current lifestyle. This can vary on how your life has changed. For example I had a bunch of more "serious" work/office attire from my time in politics. I had these low heeled black pumps that I wouldn't wear unless I had to walk up and down the halls of Congress for marathon lobby meeting days. I don't do that anymore so I could get rid of these items (Yay!). If you are in transition, I say you purchase just a few basics to get you by. But don't get too crazy because I almost guarantee you will learn some things during the weeks of the capsule that will make you re-think you wardrobe.
Now get to organizing! I loved this part, it really felt like I was shopping in my own house. I could see the things I liked, and organized by type, length etc. This was also when I could start seeing trends. It felt great! Below I share what I started with.
This reflects what I had in my wardrobe, and the pieces that I loved. There was a few other items that I never took the dry-cleaner that I didn't even miss. I noticed I had favorite jeans, denim skirt and leopard coat that I wore quite often. It rained quite often during this time so this also meant I wore turtlenecks and coats. I purchased items once for my podcast launch but they were wardrobe essentials like a white blouse and pencil skirt. Then I purchased one red skirt, and a red dress for a specific once a year event. I had a wedding and I did Rent-The-Runway to avoid making another big expense for a dress I probably wouldn't wear often. Make this work for you! What this process does is that it makes you truly be aware of what you buy and why you are buying it.
I'm so glad I did this. These were just a few of the lessons. There's also an un-said thing here that you start to change in your 30's, that milestones change your clothes too. Am I still the 20 year old who always wanted to be sexy? No, but sometimes I do want to feel sexy in my clothes. What trends do I want to follow? I love the idea of doing more with less, of having our clothes be an expression of who we are but being women who are strong, and feel good about themselves. Not dressing out of insecurity or to hide or blend in.
I know I want to continue to work on my body not for vanity as much as to feel better. There is so much about my clothes that is tied to how I feel about my body, if I find something makes me feel uncomfortable or becomes too tight after I gain weight, I stop wearing it.
I realized I didn't pay enough attention to fit, I replaced a faux-leather jacket I had with one that has a better fit. This was an indulgence I admit, but that jacket is one of my go-to items.
Some pieces didn't seem to quite reflect who I am, and those were mostly chosen due to me trying to accommodate a changing post-pregnancy body or online shopping errors.
But I also do have pieces that I love and will wear for years to come!
I want to look great but not necessarily have all my effort put into that. I've considered hiring a stylist or someone to help me fine-tune it. But for now I have pledged to continue the capsule and I can' t wait to incorporate just a few warm-weather staples.
I have to give credit to the master, Caroline Rector, who's blog Un-Fancy first inspired me to do this back in 2014!
Thank you for reading!