Say hello to this sweater — you haven’t seen it in any outfits yet because I haven’t worn it yet. Isn’t that crazy? Thirty-seven pieces in my closet, and some pieces still don’t get worn much.
Honestly, though? That’s just fine with me. I like having a few extra pieces in my closet that only come out a few times.
Is that the most minimalistic way to look at things?
Is that okay with me, though?
Because minimalism looks different from person to person.
Just like anything in life, a good idea (“Hey, let’s try out living with less!”) can quickly go too far and morph into a competition.
But the truth is, it’s not a competition. We all have different realities, we all have different needs, and we’re all going to have to find different solutions.
For me, right now, my solution is my 37 piece capsule wardrobe. But I’m guessing your solution looks a little different than mine. :) I’ve been toying with some new ways to approach a capsule wardrobe lately, so I’d really love to know — how do you approach your capsule wardrobe? What are the “rules” that work for you?
Hat: Forever 21
Top: old from H&M (similar)
Shoes: J.Crew (25% off)
Stacking Rings: Moulton
I totally agree. I always believed that minimalism is not about obsessing over what you do not own (“less”) but loving and appreciating the things you own even more while letting of anything that does not add value to your life. And of course, this is very personal so everyone will come up with a different solution.
As for my wardrobe, I have been heavely inspired by Marie Kondō’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”.
She uses the concept of keeping only the things that truely “spark joy in your heart” – simple but very very effective.
I have found that approaching my clothes (and other belongings for that matter) this way has left me with just the perfect amount I need and I am happy to open my wardrobe every morning. :)
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this blog – I always enjoy reading your posts. ♥
Totally agree with you on keeping things that spark joy. I recently went through my ‘memory box’ where I’ve stored old birthday cards, holiday cards, certificates, awards, and basically anything else you can think of that was important to me at the time. My logic was to imaging opening the box in 10 years and to really think about which of those items would make me smile or conjure up a memory. If I couldn’t see that happening, out it went. I ended up throwing away a lot of generic ‘To Rachel, From X’ Christmas cards, etc. that really wouldn’t have meant anything to me later. Cut the box down to a fifth of its size, and I know that what’s left is really the things I’ll want to look back on when I’m older.
P.S. Caroline, I’ve just started looking at developing a capsule wardrobe (since I found your blog between seasons I’ve drawn out the planning/thinking process) and I have to say, I find your approach really impressing :) It’s great to see you explain the logic behind including certain things, like the fancy heels or this sweater. I’m finding about half my capsule will be stuff for mindless outfits for every day, and the other half will be for when I actually put a bit of thought into dressing to go out with friends or something, to pair with the effortless half and really create the look I want. I don’t feel guilty including things I might only wear a few time through the season because I know they’re included to really make the rest of the wardrobe pop!
Victoria B says
I love this!
Amy Dowling says
I’ve taken your advice and am calling my smaller wardrobe a “simplified wardrobe.” It’s a lot less color then I used to wear so the pieces are more interchangeable. When I want pops of color, I add fun, colorful accessories like scarves. I am doing just two wardrobes a year; fall & winter and spring & summer. I broke them into 3 collections: Tops & Sweaters, Bottoms & Dresses, and Shoes and Accessories. My number is larger, but I’m happy that I’ve narrowed my closet down. I also have made a conscious effort to make the items cost less and to stick with it. This is my first one and so far, so good!
Yes. My approach to this is very similar to Amy’s. My number is larger, but I’ve donated everything I don’t love and I’m sticking to the neutrals that I’m most comfortable in. I’m trying to really stick to quality items only…not buying things because they are on sale or looking for a less expensive option for something I love. If I can’t afford the quality version or my favorite version, then I wait. Also, before purchasing anything I think about the practicality of it in terms of my lifestyle and daily activities and I make sure I can remix it many ways.
I love reading unfancy, and the reader comments as well. Really good stuff;)
I completely agree with this. I used Into Mind’s workbook to work out a capsule wardrobe where you base the amount of clothes you need on how often you want to repeat an outfit and in how many outfits you can wear specific items … Anyway I didn’t come up with a very strict number but the concept of the capsule wardrobe HAS helped me to wear more diverse outfits with less items. I now try to stick more or less to this rule, at least for my daily wardrobe: to own no more than one version of an item (e.g. work-appropriate sweater dress) and to make sure my items can be worn in multiple outfits.
You have inspired me, and I am working on downsizing my wardrobe now! As a serious thrifter and a semi-shopping addict, this is very hard. It’s also very hard not to add to what I already have, even if I don’t NEED more. I’ve tried to take the mentality when both buying and getting rid of things I own: “Can you wear it to work and out?” “Would you buy it if you saw it in a store?” “Does it go with more than one thing?” I need to start getting less prints and colors like you and go more mutual. I definitely agree everyone’s will come out different, but you’ve shown me that less CAN be more, and given me ideas on how to use the same clothing items in different ways (something I really struggle with). Thanks!!!
My rule is versatility. If I can’t wear something with multiple outfits, I seriously consider whether I need or want it. I’m in the beginning stages of my capsule wardrobe, so there are still a lot of pieces I hope to upgrade down the road. I like them and they work for now, but they’re not “just right.” It’s an ongoing process,.
Sometimes there’s competition, and sometimes envy. I never really comment, but today I’m going to because I firstly find the blog, the effort and the photography to be quite beautiful. Secondly, I’ve seen some of the critique, and the envy within that. Not everybody looks like you, or has the eye that you have. Sometimes, some people try to break what they can’t have, so that nobody else can have it either. It isn’t a reflection on you, Caroline, and it never will be. The blog is lovely, it’s your creation, and it can be whatever you want it to be, as you learn and grow.
If you learn and grow, and other people don’t like it, then surely the best thing would be to show other people their own talent as a contrast, instead of being mean, right? It’s no reflection on you, just on them.
Tania [girlwithanakita] says
I second you, Nicky. I hate seeing sweet people get torn down for no reason.
I love how you phrased this “some people try to break what they can’t have, so that nobody else can have it either” because it is so true and well worded. I always have trouble understanding those people, especially in terms of Caroline. She writes out why an outfit works and helps you get there – so the materials are right in front of them. Most of the time, I really think it’s out of jealousy of her popularity in the blogging world, all the while remaining friendly and genuine.
I’m new to the capsule wardrobe scene, but I’ve already discovered that 4 “seasonal” capsules won’t work for my area of the country. North Carolina doesn’t seem to believe in having 4 distinct seasons. Just take this week for example – it was 30 degrees on Sunday, 72 degrees on Monday, and 40 degrees on Tuesday. There’s really no telling what the weather will be like on any given day, and that stays true of the entire “winter” season here. So, instead of doing 4 seasonal capusles, I’m splitting my wardrobe into 3 capsules – 1 fall/winter (October-March) capsule with around 50 items (I’m still toying with the number), 1 spring/summer (April-September) capsule with around the same number of items, and 1 “fancy” capsule with around ten items that is cross-seasonal and reserved for items that I need when going to symphony concerts, weddings, formal dinners, etc. Since I don’t have to “dress up” for work, I don’t really have anything that is nice enough for such outings in my day-to-day capsules, so I figured it was better to have a capsule reserved for that sort of thing with quality pieces that will last me a lifetime than to waste spaces in my normal capsules on pieces that I will probably only wear once or twice.
Thanks so much for this blog, Caroline. It’s truly been an eye opener for me, and your photos and insights are, as many others have said, quite beautiful.
Ah, this is an apporach I think I’ve had in my head as well, but I haven’t really articulated it like you just did – thank you! I had a serious case of envy going to a wedding last summer, where one of the guests (who had travelled internationally and combined this with a vacation) had brought three different and gorgeous and appropriate options to wear to the wedding. It really stuck with me, and created a want or need or desire to build up a collection of lovely, good-quality dresses. I don’t go to a ton of events, and I certainly don’t need to change out my fancy-wear very quickly, so I love the idea of a longer lasting dressy/fancy wardrobe that is there when I need it – and actually provides me with options instead of just having the same two dresses to choose from for every event!
This is brilliant and as soon as I’m home from work I’m going to move my closet around to reflect it! What I found so liberating about the capsule wardrobe method is that you don’t have to get RID of everything outside the capsule — you just don’t have to look at it anymore. I have a spare closet where I keep my long coats and I think it’ll be where all the formalwear lives, for occasional use but not actual under-bed storage.
As for rules, this is my first season using a capsule and I’m finding that there are 2 key mantras: “1-in-1-out,” and “it’s okay.” It’s okay to decide that I made a mistake and swap something out for something I’d put in storage; it’s OK to realize that I need 2 tank tops, not 1, but that I really am not wearing those heels I thought I’d wear more often by virtue of their being in the capsule. Nope! One in, one out is obvious — it’s okay to realize some pieces need adjusting, but not okay to add without subtracting. But back to “it’s okay” — this rule isn’t to make me feel restricted, it’s to keep that sense of minimalism that ends up be so liberating! whew.
Tania [girlwithanakita] says
This is so great to see! I went through a ‘am I really minimalist?’ moment of reflection and wrote a posted a blog about it just yesterday afternoon! It’s great to see that other people agree.
I definitely made up my own rules. I love, love, LOVE this concept but I know that you made this to work for you. I only have two larger capsules because most of my clothes must be work appropriate so I pretty much wear the same stuff for two seasons. With it hot out, my office gets cold. With it cold, my office gets warm. So I live in layers!
I am also more lax in changing stuff out. Because I have one set of clothes for fall and winter, I have to make my stuff last 6 months. I found a bargain H&M sweater that shrunk and had a hole within the first use. In this case, I am on the lookout for something quality that won’t break the bank that I can swap it out with. You just have to remember that capsule wardrobes aren’t supposed to feel like punishment!
Jenn V says
I started my capsule wardrobe a few weeks ago and I’m so glad I did. Thank you for all your ideas and inspiration! For myself, I stick with a certain number of items for the main capsule. I’m a stay at home mom so I don’t need much anyway. Also, I’m in California so we have mild weather and 4 seasons of capsules aren’t needed. I do make an exception with tshirts dedicated to the multiple times a year I travel to Disneyland. We have annual passes :) I’ve narrowed down my collection so that I’ve got just my absolute favorites for those trips.
I’m really glad you said this! I like having a more minimalistic wardrobe, but I do have a couple of pieces that I love dearly, but wear only every once in a while. I still think I have a concise wardrobe full of items I love (or, at least, I’m getting there), but some pieces just don’t get worn as often! The thing in particular I’m thinking of is a gorgeous red dress. But the thing is: I feel like a million bucks when I wear it and will have it for years to come. Why should I get rid of it just because I’ve only worn it twice this year!
Stephanie H. says
I love the idea of minimalism, but I really struggled with my first capsule wardrobe. I found it so hard to resist the urge to shop on those days I felt like I needed to look better to feel better. But the truth is that when I eliminate the shopping option, it forces me to focus on what’s really important and find a real solution to the issues I’m facing.
For my lifestyle, I’ve realized I need to revise the capsule wardrobe idea a bit. I work in a semi-traditional office environment doing public relations for lawyers, so I’m required to wear a lot of blazers, slacks and heels that I wouldn’t necessarily pull out for weekend wear. I’ve found that it works well for me to think of my wardrobe as two separate 20-piece capsules: one for “work wear” and one for the evenings, weekends, etc. To my surprise and delight I’ve found that it’s actually really fun to pull pieces from one category to the other. Throw on a T Shirt over my skinny slacks and loafers to meet a friend for an after-work drink? Great! Dress up my weekend boyfriend jeans with a sleek blazer? Excellent! It’s really got me thinking about mixing high-low in new and unusual ways, Thanks for the inspiration!
I had the same struggle with work vs. casual days and shopping so I created the same thing- one work capsule and one casual one. Hopefully the no shopping will get easier for all of us!
I finally came to the same realization – that I need a separate work capsule rather than trying to make the two mesh. There are pieces that can overlap on occasion (I.e. a blazer and jeans or fancier ‘weekend’ outfits on casual Fridays) which means I won’t need 37 x 2, but I still haven’t figured out an ideal number…
Jacquelyn @justjacq says
I had to make a capsule wardrobe work for me by thinking of it is a ven diagram… dork alert. One circle was work, the other was play, and the middle was pieces that overlap. My work is very business casual, but business casual is a hard style for me. I’m more in to pencil skirts and dresses for the office. And my “play” is more what I would think of as business casual with jeans and lots of layering going on up top. I also made my first full season of capsule wearing work for me by not choosing a number, but rather editing until the closet felt right. I definitely could have paired down even more, but it felt right and has been working for me. I felt sticking to a number would have overwhelmed me and I would have been focusing on the number more than on finding a good wardrobe.
I wish I had thought to not choose a number the first time around. I feel like that would have led to less frustration for me- excellent idea to add to the pile!
That’s what I’ve been doing! Now that my wardrobe (at least my FW one) feels right, I backtracked and counted how many pieces I’m actually wearing. I love how the number is not that much higher than if I’d done one of those minimalist challenges.
Plus: I like to work with the seasons, but in a general way. I don’t store away off-season pieces from a certain date on because I like being able to grab a light top when it’s one of those unexpectedly warm (e.g. indian summer) fall days. Or to wear my thickest sweater on a very cold day, even though the winter season has not technically begun yet.
I loved my first capsule, but there were a lot of things wrong with it. I felt that waiting until the end of a season to plan and shop ended up with me making impulsive purchases and decisions for my capsule that I was ultimately unhappy with.
Going forward with my second capsule, I started planning and doing a little shopping not long after the last season started. Because of this, I have enjoyed the process SO much more! I love having so much time to do research, deliberate, window shop, make purchases, make returns and really think about my style. It has converted the time I used to spend aimlessly wandering stores into planning and organizing, which I LOVE. Even though I started so early, it’s been a slow enough process, I know there’s no way I would have been able to do it in less than a month. Because I started mid-september for fall, I might even roll out winter a little early!
This works for me too! I’ve made a wish list of a few items I’d like to trade in for winter and it’s been edited a few times. Considering my lifestyle, making purchases along the way but sticking to my number rule works better for my family. Knowing that what I buy I have to love keeps me in check not to shop randomly or feel the need to leave with a consolation prize if I haven’t found what I’m looking for!
Though I’ve been working toward a capsule wardrobe for a while, this has been my first. I’ve really enjoyed this experience. I chose to go with 37 pieces. However, it was soooo hot while planning and is soooo cold now, I feel like I may not have enough warm clothes. There are a lot of pieces that I’m probably not going to touch again till spring. You just never know what the weather is going to be like in the south. It has been a MUCH colder fall than I ever remember, so, I wasn’t completely prepared. I have also found that I may not need a full 37 pieces for Winter. I’m a stay-at-home homeschool mom and we don’t venture out as much this time of year. I find myself wishing I actually had a few more lounge pieces, cause let’s face it, that’s what I want to be in when I’m home and it’s cold! But I love knowing I don’t have to stress on what to wear when we do go out. I’ve stuck to pieces that I can mix and match and have had a blast doing so! It makes my wardrobe feel HUGE! Also, I love that Caroline has given me permission to live in neutrals (cause that’s what I truly love)! ;)
Erin K says
I agree with the above. It’s been so much fun during the fall capsule to think, window shop, online shop, and finally pin the pieces I’ll need for the winter capsule. No way I could do it all in those last two weeks of the capsule, but this way works for me. Still feels like “shopping” with all the research and narrowing down and final pinning. Already ordered most of my winter stuff, and now I have time to make exchanges/alterations before winter capsule time. I have a pile of new clothes waiting for the next capsule sitting in my closet, and it feels like a bit of christmas-like anticipation each time I see the items waiting in my closet. Will power till winter!! I’ve also adjusted the months per capsule to better fit the weather in my area. Dec-Feb = Winter / March-May = Spring / June-Aug = Summer / Sept-Nov = Fall. I’m really loving this new way of approaching shopping, spending, curating, etc. It’s been such an interesting process.
I am in that spot right now at the end of my first capsule and I am freezing now but I am not seeing what I love so I think I am just going to have to make a wish list and add as we go when I find what I love.
Amanda Bee says
I also started shopping early for the same reasons. I was really able to plan out what I wanted, discover my style, return things that didn’t work, and take advantage of a few sales (but only for things I wanted in my capsule anyway). It’s nice to see the winter capsule come together over time + it actually ended up being really handy because it got COLD here way earlier than normal. I was glad to have some sweaters, coats, etc. ready so I could swap some of the warmer fall clothes out for them.
Great idea Madi,
I’m a bit stressed about having a short window to shop for my winter capsule especially during the busy holiday season. You’ve helped me to see that it is okay to start early. I knew this but seeing it in writing made it a possibility for me. THANKS!
Tricia B says
This has been my approach too. I have such specific things in mind when I shop and a limited budget, so I need more time to find the things I really love. For example, i’ve been looking for some black ankle boots for about a month. There’s no way I’d be able to get all the shopping done in just a couple of weeks.
And to further answer Caroline ‘s question, my capsule is currently less than 37 but I’m okay with adding to it so long as I don’t exceed my limit. Once I reach the limit, it’ll be a one-in-one-out situation, but only if there is an actual problem with the item that’s getting booted.
My approach is a bit different because my trade doesn’t allow for a cross between a work and an everyday wardrobe, so, I created two capsules. I’m a machinist so my work capsule is heritage/Americana inspired that fits my blue-collar work. Before, I would be embarrassed to go out and get a beer with the guys after work cause I felt like a schlub. Now I’m not because I buy sturdier clothing that I get tailored, no more baggy jeans, holy tshirts, and ratty hoodies. Everything fits and has a bit more style. I find myself welcoming retro work wear and embracing my rosie the riveter roots. Of course I only buy these pieces when an item wears out. In short 1. Out of work no work wear. 2. Fitted but unconstricting. 3. Must go with other pieces. 4. It can take a beating. 5. One in, one out (in the bin, no need to donate holy stained clothing.)
I’m new to this concept of capsule wardrobes, so I’m using my first 3 months (Oct-Dec) as a trial run. Here is how it is evolving for me so far:
-I decided to not count holiday wear / Sunday best, including shoes, in my capsule since I dress up frequently for church and I don’t want to limit my options there. My capsule includes my casual wear and work attire, which are pretty interchangeable.
-I allow myself to dig into non-capsule clothing in storage if a one-off outfit is the best choice for the occasion. Then I return those items back to storage.
-I slowly edit my capsule. In early October, short sleeve shirts were fine. By now though, I’ve put all those away into storage and replaced them with some lovely long-sleeve blouses that I purchased on sale. I know that’s a big no-no, but I’m still figuring this out.
Overall my capsule wardrobe has helped me do more with less and improved my style. I love that you emphasize creativity and figuring out what works best for us.
Im a stay @home mama and have a hard time letting myself spend money on… myself lol. I am trying the capsule wardrobe for thefirst time after finding yourblog. I am loving it,im wearing everything inmy closet and for the first time in my life im getting compliments on my outfits which i guess is a good sign lol. Myrule becauseof my budget is that all my tops have to work year round. I dont have the budget to pack things away at this time… so i cant let any top in thats either too heavy and warm or too light. I am utilizing cardigans over my summer tanks and adding leggings and cardigans to summer dresses and… its working! I never realized how much simplifying my wardrobe would make mefeel like i have an endless wardrobe… but it just does. Thank you!
For me, it’s a work in progress. I went with 40 items for fall, but after six weeks, I realized that some of the items were just wrong. I didn’t follow the rules and I included things that I *wanted* to love versus things that I actually did love. Also I managed to tear the armpit of my chambray shirt, stain my most-worn pair of pants while cooking, etc. So– I decided to make one-for-one swaps with new (to the capsule, not necessarily to my closet) items that I could wear for the rest of the fall. I’ve already started planning my winter capsule in hopes that I can learn from my mistakes and not have to worry about swapping items mid-season. I think for me, though, the biggest thing was being flexible and since this is my first capsule! I agree that it isn’t a competition– it’s just about learning to live with less in whatever way is possible.
Just discovering this site and I love the diea. Will there be a winter capsule? If I want to get started, what would be the top items to start with from the fall capsule?
Your site has been a God-send!! I love that you value flexibility and individuality. I think minimalism is a process of letting go of things and embracing essentials. I live in the DC region and although I think that I could do 4 capsules, I might make it easier on myself to do fall/winter and spring/summer. Last year I lost a bunch of weight and got healthy. So really my wardrobe was emptied and I have tried to be very selective with what I add. But after finding Un-Fancy, I got a lot more selective. I slowed myself down from impulse purchases and I think I got more creative. We have four children, all now in school. So I running around like a mad woman. How nice is it to open my closet and pull out stuff I love that all goes together!! Easy peasy!! A tip for anyone is who struggling with the need to build up a fancy set of outfits – Rent The Runway. I love that I can rent designer dresses and then send it back for way less then getting a dress. What appeals to me is that I can wear something new each event. For me, part of the fun of the event is choosing what to wear. I know in the long run it does add up if I rent, but the benefit outweighs the cost. It does also cut down on what is in your closet, if your closet real estate is small. I do however have two pairs of killer heels that go with everything & one gorgeous pashmina I wear to each event. Still trying to keep it simple.
love your ideas Esther…gonna check out Rent the Runway.. sounds like fun!
I started with you 37 pieces (pared down from what felt like hundreds!) multiplied by 4 seasons. But after a few weeks, that felt like way too much (how crazy is that?). I was still only wearing a handful of pieces and the rest were collecting dust.
So. I pared down again. This time, TWO seasons (Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer) with 20 pieces in each capsule. This includes shoes and coats/jackets but not accessories like scarves or jewelry. But I found ONE handbag that is seasons which I intend to take me through the whole year.
It seems crazy; sometimes I look in my closet and it seems so bare. But each and every piece is something I love and fits me well. And everything goes together. Now everything gets worn and yet, I always feel like I have something to wear for any occasion. So 20 pieces for 2 capsules per year seems to be my magic number!
Laura Rugadza says
You are my sister from another mister haha! this is exactly what I did, right to the tee! I started off with a really big number and actually found that I rarely wear most of the things so now I am down to 25 pieces for all year around can you believe that. I have 25 pieces for my own personal wardrobe, then 20 pieces for a work wardrobe (which is very conservative so nothing too interesting) then I have a 30 piece holiday wardrobe for when I go away etc. your 20 piece wardrobe sounds amazing! keep it up! :)
Amanda Bee says
You’re right: minimalism seems to be a competition for some (I can live with 10 items! 5 items!) but it shouldn’t be that way. Minimalism to me is an approach to life, not a strict set of rules. My approach is that I want things to be simple and easy. That’s the spirit I’m taking to my wardrobe, just trying to make it simple and easy.
I don’t have a strict number of items – I tried that, but didn’t like all the mental energy it took. I’m transitioning into a new career and learning to balance my new work style with my super-casual weekend style, and focusing on a number was too frustrating on top of that. It brought on too much mental clutter.
My approach right now is: all my clothes should make me happy, but I take an 80/20 approach to versatility. 80% of my clothes are super versatile, mix-and-match, personal-uniform items. Lots of slim slacks, skinny jeans, v-neck sweaters, flats. The other 20% can be more fun and frivolous – a dress I might not wear as often but love, a funky blouse, cool heels. That seems to be the right balance for me right now.
I like the 80/20 approach! That’s one “problem” I have with capsule wardrobes, some items I may not wear as much but I still adore (black ankle booties with a heel that’s a tad too high to wear everyday…). Doesn’t mean I want to get rid of those items :)
Katie Sheldon says
I got hooked on your blog this summer from one of the other blogs I read (Small Things) and I have to say that you have totally inspired me to live with less! I haven’t adopted the capsule wardrobe yet but I haven’t bought anything new in months and I’m learning to work more with what I have. You’ve also taught me to buy better quality things. As my clothes or shoes wear out, I’ve been waiting to replace them to see if I really need them and so far, I’ve been fine making do with what I have left. Thank you so much!
I found your blog in the spring and have been inspired since then. The way you explain how and why you put outfits together has really helped me. I love my wardrobe so much more now and have less “I hate everything in my closet” & “I have nothing to wear” days – occasionally they creep up, but few and far between. With my capsule, I don’t have a set number. I tried it initially and felt like I was too focused on the number rather than creating outfits I love. I don’t necessarily shop right before a season either. However, when I do shop I keep in mind the questions you listed and only purchase items I love. I have shopped a lot less these past few months than I have ever done in my life, and shopping has become more enjoyable. I used to buy items just because (either on sale or for one event) and that aspect of my shopping has changed. I am more intentional with clothing and my shopping time. Also, I cleaned out my closet and left the items in a spare room for about two months. If I reached back for an item, I kept it. If not, I donated it. I felt that was very helpful for me to see what I truly wore and items that I didn’t really need. Your blog has been such an inspiration! Keep up the great work, Caroline :)
I have consigned/given away SO many clothes/shoes/accessories since the summer and really narrowed down my wardrobe! It has made me feel ‘lighter’, has made me feel happy to be using everything that is in my closet, and has made getting dressed way easier! I can’t remember the last night I changed outfits in the morning, because I love everything in my closet, so deciding what to wear is a breeze. I do have to say though, I definitely have more pieces than 37, but for me (right now) this is minimal. My rule thumb is ‘Love it, Keep it, Don’t Love It, Don’t Keep it’ :) Pretty easy! Also, I have noticed that I am buying WAY less! Which is good, and really just saving up for quality pieces that I need. Thank you Caroline for the amazing inspiration! I have also carried the ‘minimalism’ idea into other areas of my life outside of the closet…my office desk, my room, my kitchen cabinets, and everything in between! If these places are decluttered, then I feel as though my life isn’t cluttered :) Good stuff all around! XO ~Liss
I’m still working out my rules. But right now, it’s about 30 pieces, a specific color palette, and – because weather here varies dramatically – swapping out about a third to half the pieces every two months instead of three. And not getting too hung up on “how minimal can I be? “
Rachael Schepemaker says
A little bit off subject, but I am really curious to know when and how you will start to plan for your winter capsule wardrobe? I’m in Colorado and it’s pretty cold…really can’t wear much of my Fall wardrobe anymore so I’ve been forced to pull out some sweaters that weren’t in my original fall capsule (which I am ok with as I am relatively new to Colorado weather and this capsule wardrobe philosophy. :)
I have been doing a one-in, one-out thing in my wardrobe as the weather has been so weird where I am from. I have almost had to make a Fall/Winter and a Spring/Summer wardrobe of a few more than 37 pieces and I start swapping when the weather starts to change but still keeping the number around 30-40 items depending on how cold/hot it is outside for layering purposes.
I’m in northern Pennsylvania. I’m new to doing a capsule wardrobe, just started this fall. I’m finding there is no way that Oct-Dec for Fall will work for me in my area. So I intend for my seasons to work like this: Dec-Feb = Winter, Mar-May = Spring, June-Aug = Summer, Sept-Nov = Fall. I think those seasons will work best for me. I spent a lot of time this fall acquiring basic pieces that I just didn’t have. Half way through the season I put away a few transitional pieces that I’d kept out at the beginning (a lighter cardigan with 3/4 length sleeves, a favorite tank top from the summer). Lately it’s been dropping to freezing temperatures, and I’ve relied on layers to take me through to the end of November. I intend to take advantage of black Friday deals for my winter capsule; and since it’s all so new and exciting I’ve spent a lot of the fall season planning for winter. I have a pretty narrowed and detailed list of what I want to take me through the next few months, and I’m really excited. I’ve always had trouble figuring out what my “style” is; and buying things because I thought I liked them, only to never wear them for one reason or another. The capsule wardrobe has changed all that, and as soon as I started I was smitten. I can’t wait to continue to plan as the next season comes around. Currently I love every piece of clothing I own, and that’s never happened before in my life. Sorry so long! haha! :)
Following your blog got me thinking on exactly your question. I have a very different approach that works for me yet I love learning and I’m always up for improving that is why I follow your blog. Though very diferent to my philosophy there are always bits that are useful to me or show me something new I haven’t thought about. For example I loved your blog yesterday about using a scarf to reach the goal you were looking for; it was creative and inspiring and I intend to use that advice. My minimalist approach is more about buying classics and staying away from trendier things, this suits me just fine since I’m more of a prepster any way “you may take the girl out of the prep school but you can’t take the prep school out of the girl” I’ll buy something fabulous and trendy only when my classics are covered, Ex: a pair of high heel boots with a fringe. Anyway I’ll stay tuned for more of your ideas and I hope my difference of opinion at times ( like using leggings as pants) is seen as a welcome exchange if points if view that in the end enriches us all. After all how boring would it be if we all thought, dressed and spoke alike!
I’m pretty new at this, too, but my primary goal was, to put it simply, to get my act together. For me that meant spending some time (for the first time ever) figuring out what I like *for me.* It turns out there are a lot of things, fashion-wise, that I like on other people, but not so much on myself, so I started there. I emptied my closet of everything I didn’t LOVE. As it turned out, those mostly things fell naturally into a clear color palette (black, gray, red, purple) and I was able to jump right in to experimenting with combinations. Because everything “goes” together, it’s actually kind of hard to make a BAD outfit. I still struggle with accessories. I’m not a big jewelry girl. Now that we’re into colder weather, infinity scarves are my go-to for adding that finishing touch to my outfits, but I know when summer comes I’m going to have to figure something else out. Or just learn to be okay with being accessory-free. That’s a thing, right? Your blog has encouraged me so much, in terms of looking at my wardrobe as a whole, rather than a collection of parts. Thanks! I’m looking forward to seeing what changes you make to your capsule for winter.
Victoria B says
I have a capsule wardrobe for my work wear. It’s still in flux, but living in Florida, I really don’t need to change it out each season. There are more than 37 pieces, but not too many more. I am loving the idea of simplifying everything though. I am slowly figuring out what I’m wearing and what I’m not and getting rid of what I’m not wearing, or wear and then have regrets all day. Next year I am challenging myself to only buy one new item of clothing each month. We’ll see how that goes, but I’m pretty excited by it. I will allow myself to replace items that need replacing however. So far, when I do come across something I like the look of, I add it to my 2015 clothing amazon wishlist. When I get inspired, I go back in there and check out a few of the things and have already deleted a bunch and come up with a few things that I definitely want to buy. But approaching my closet and wishlist this way has really helped me approach my closet. Instead of finding items that I think I would like to buy, I try to replicate it with what I already have and see how that works out. I am feeling such peace regarding my closet these days. Even though I am not following a capsule wardrobe, you have definitely inspired me to start this change. So thank you!
Tania [girlwithanakita] says
Victoria, I went to your blog and saw that you went to Italy in April and I about died. We eloped to Italy this past April/May. That country has such a special place in my heart, I am always on the lookout for those that appreciate it. Congrats on being a newlywed!
I started Project 333 in April of 2013 and found your blog in April of this year. I do 4 capsules of 33 items not including shoes, jackets, jewelry or accessories (but I have edited those areas too) with lots of carry over between months. My months are different from yours…Dec-Feb, Mar-May, June-Aug, Sept-Nov. So I start my Winter capsule in a couple weeks. This works well with my weather/seasons, but sometimes I wish I could see your capsule before I do mine. Your blog has helped me be more intentional with my wardrobe and shopping. I really like color but you have shown me that neutrals are much easier to work with in a capsule. This past capsule I kept track of what I wore with tick marks on my list. I was really surprised to see on paper what I actually wore and where the gaps were. No matter how much I like color….the neutrals are what I’m wearing. I have a small budget for each season to add/replace items. I love your style and blog but adapt it to work for me because I’m older than you and probably most of your readers.
I love this question! And I love reading how everyone (including you) answers it. My capsule wardrobe has been life changing (no surprise there). It’s my first official go at a capsule this season. I started by following your advice to completely empty my closet and then only add back in the things that I would want to wear right that second. I let go of the number 37 being the absolute answer for number of items in my wardrobe, but I actually ended up right around there anyway. My wardrobe is currently VERY basic and I look forward to adding in some statement pieces as I become more and more aware of the kinds of statement pieces I like.
My biggest wardrobe problem in the past has been holding on to way too many clothes that I never liked in the first place, either because I got them as gifts or because I found them on the sale rack. I’ve slowly adjusted my views of the sale rack; for me, it really works to find specific items that I LOVE and then (if they’re pricey) wait for them to inevitably go on sale a few weeks later. Once they’re on sale, I pounce! So far I’m not purchasing things all at once at the beginning of a season, but rather being especially particular about what I choose to add to my closet now that I’ve gotten rid of so much. It’s really working for me!
I was hesitant to buy more than a couple pieces at the beginning of fall because I’m still getting used to living in a warmer climate (we just moved here a year ago). I’m taking this year to pay closer attention to the weather and see what kinds of clothes help me remain the most comfortable in that weather. Turns out fall doesn’t start in southern California until the beginning of November! Planning to make note of how long it actually stays cold(ish) and go from there. Maybe I’ll have two or three “warm weather” capsules and one “cooler weather” capsule. I’m excited to see what I discover!
Ultimately, my capsule wardrobe has really helped me define my personal style (I knew it was in there somewhere!) and only spend money on things that I absolutely love. It feels good to feel like I’ve finally figured out “my look.” Thank you for your beautiful daily posts, Caroline. Yours is the only blog I devotedly read every day!
Oh! A real quick question: How do you handle holiday gifts? I remember reading that you ask for gift cards or one bigger specific item, but I have a mother-in-law who prefers to give multiple smaller gifts that don’t always match up to my style. Do I just graciously accept what she chooses? I worry about being too specific with a wish list, because I don’t like to focus on the “getting” during Christmas, but I also don’t want to end up with a bunch of stuff like the things I just got rid of. Any advice?
I have the same question! I know people like gift-giving because they get to choose something for me, but as an aspiring minimalist I have become pretty picky and hate the idea of basically wasting someone’s gift to me. Maybe you could ask her for a gift card and if she still wants to surprise you / pick something out herself then suggest that she also pick you out a really nice soap, treat, etc. Something consumable and not huge but that she can still have fun choosing and wrapping?
I find that while telling people you don’t want anything never works, telling them that you’re truly lucky not to need *anything* and that you would love to help __insert your fave charity__ over the holidays actually does work. How could they ignore that kind of request and still get you a sweater?!
Tricia, Rachel, yes! Great suggestions! I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking about this. I appreciate your thoughts!
Different on every person is oh so true! And I oh so appreciate how you encourage us to find our own way will using you as a guide. My first capsule was this fall and it was based more on outfits instead of pieces. My lifestyle as a teacher requires me to go out to a job everyday, so I have to have a bit more professional look but it can be somewhat casual too.
I created my capsule around a 3-week rotation of “outfits”. I also took into account that I wear dresses about 2-3 times a week. I ended up with about 15 outfits for work and 6 outfits for weekend.
This minimalist approach is working well for me and I’m very excited about creating my winter capsule.
Thanks SO SO much for the inspiration Caroline!
Day 1 of my first ever capsule wardrobe today and I felt great and put together! I work from home most days, so having a collection of clothes where I can feel good about getting dressed everyday, instead of living in workout clothes is a huge bonus! Plus, I love the “creativity within structure”, which is helpful for gals like me who do not “get” fashion :-)
I feel like the capsule wardrobe gives me the canvas tools to pick out new outfits and put things together and be “cool” without having to continually shop for new “stuff” to fill the void, which I was DEFINITELY guilty of doing!
Here in Arizona, it can be pretty mild through March but can warm up to 80 and cool down to 40 on a whim, so my first rule for this first capsule wardrobe is “Make it until January 1st and be happy!” I have 34 pieces in my first capsule, so my second rule is “if there’s one or two more things to add, that’s okay and it’s okay to swap one in, one out”
What a neat community to stumble on here and I’m really happy I found your blog, Caroline. Thank you! :-)
It’s so interesting what people can turn into a competition, isn’t it? My approach to my capsules is to pick a bunch of outfits from my Pinterest boards that I want to be able to create during that season, then identify what items I need to have in my capsule to create similar looks. I sub in items I already own whenever I can, then whatever I don’t already own becomes my shopping list for that capsule! Like this: http://imgladiexist.blogspot.com/2014/09/on-living-with-less-fall-2014-capsule.html
Another tweak I’ve made is to be flexible in my planning. In December I’m going to be visiting 3 different climates, finishing up at one job and starting another, and having hip surgery….all between holiday plans. So instead of putting together a crazy capsule for December-February like I had planned, I’m just doing one smaller capsule for December only. Works for me! :)
First off – this blog has been life changing for me. That may sound dramatic, but ever since my first capsule partway through the summer (which I of course had to put together almost as soon as I found this blog) it was so freeing!
I pretty much live in neutrals and love it. Always have. My seasons (like others have mentioned) are arranged a bit differently for the weather up north. Dec-Feb, Mar-May, June-Aug, Sept-Nov.
The first thing I did was toss out everything I knew I didn’t love, and I was brutal. Seriously, I think that was the most freeing part of this experience. Not being burdened by all the “eh” items really got rid of “eh” feelings about myself and getting ready and the rage over a huge pile of laundry. I also never feel the need to “save” cute outfits anymore because I honestly love everything I have. Also, it seriously takes 5 minutes to get dressed. Talk about life changing.
The next thing I did was step away from what was left (everything I loved) and outlined an ideal “wardrobe” for each season. What do I draw to at different times of the year? What types of layers do I like in different seasons? What textures and fabrics do I draw to? I HIGHLY recommend this because I didn’t feel limited by what I could get at a store in just a couple weeks time–or what was already in my closet. Outlining those wardrobes helped me know what I like and really need during every season, and going from there to my closet helped me see the holes in my wardrobe (like not a single pair of shorts…). My capsules don’t have a number limit and my ideal goals are between 35 and 48 items (the northerners like lots of layers…). They kind of ended up minimal on their own by outlining a wardrobe free of clutter.
I still go to the mall and definitely don’t give up looking around, but my concept of shopping has changed. If I go out, I’m not looking for a quick fix or a good sale. I’m out to have fun. Experiment. Spend time with people. And possibly find something that is on one of my “outlines” at a great price. And it works!
I’m a reader/follower from the UK and still trying to figure out the capsule wardrobe lifestyle. I’ve had a go with Autumn and already I’m learning some new things about what I wear/don’t wear and how to improve for the next season (which incidentally I started planning not far into my Autumn capsule as a way of trying to control any compulsive feelings of a need to shop – I felt I was already shopping, just out of things I already owned).
Which leads me on to a question…..
Can anyone help me with the “gap” that not shopping leaves? Others have commented about dealing with tricky emotions when faced with not shopping. The reason the capsule appealed to me in the first place was to focus my shopping so it had purpose and as such wouldn’t be linked with emotional shopping, impulse buying etc but I must admit I’m struggling. Maybe it’s that the UK are so consumer focused and culturally we are encouraged to shop shop shop! but I’m really in need of some advice about how others have dealt with negative emotions, compulsion to shop and the reasons behind finding shopping a therapy in itself rather than dealing with the issues themselves
Sorry to ramble and I hope this makes sense.
Hi Jay –
I’ve been struggling with that as well over the past few months. I’ve noticed that after I stopped shopping/deciding if something was worth keeping/subsequently returning, I had so much free time on my hands. Whenever I would feel anxious, I would do something active, like hit the gym or go on a hike, or I would grab a book from the library to read. It’s worked wonders and now after a few months, I rarely get the urge to shop. Occasionally though, I will just browse a few of my favorite stores on-line or in person, (especially with the holidays around the corner – the shops around me are decorated so well!) and make mental notes of items that I want to add to my future capsule wardrobe, but I don’t have the compulsive desire to just buy buy buy anymore. Hope that helps a bit!
Good attitude. Very cute outfit, too! I cant help smiling, as i sit here in Indiana with inches of lake-effect snow already, at your bare ankles. We have to style differently when winter means serious cold and snow! But great job inspiring women to find freedom in taking a different attitude to their clothing.
This season was my first to try the capsule wardrobe & I love it. I love telling myself a have a neutral palette & can find pops of color. I love if I do go shopping that I’m not doing it just bc I’m bored. I have a purpose. I have a goal. I can say no so much easier now & I don’t buy things just because or just in case. I buy it bc I know I’ll wear it! I also love looking to you for inspiration as ways to style things I already have. I thought my capsule could last Oct.Nov.Dec until winter hit us HARD the second week of Nov. I really struggled, thinking I shouldn’t add pieces in but realized it was silly bc 1, I was freezing & 2, I wasn’t prepared for the weather & going out in 20 degrees not wearing a sweater bc it wasn’t a part of my capsule was dumb! haha Anyway, I went out, very purposefully & made 3 really smart purchases. I’m actually still working with less than 30 pieces anyway so it felt good to add some new stuff in. I love looking to you for inspo so keep it up. :)
Yes, I like having a few pieces that don’t get worn as much. I have about 3 tops which I like to pull out for a special occasion, to look a little more done up. They may not get worn in a year, but then they’ll get worn several times in one month! As long as I stick to these, or trade them out if I find a piece that I like better or for an update to the wardrobe.It also gives me peace of mind, as I like to be prepared for any occasion. It works for me, as I’m a rare shopper, so am able to stick to this fairly easily.
I haven’t made the transition to a capsule wardrobe yet, but I have taken some steps to a more minimalistic closet.
* I did some moderate wardrobe-purging
* I finally made some space to put clothes into storage. Not having to look at my summer clothes is going to be a lot less confusing I think + I get to store clothes I’m not sure about and see wether, in three months or so, I will be happy to have them back or not.
* I have also started shopping more consciously: analyzing my closet gave a me a better idea of what I need / don’t need, and asking myself “would I wear this over my favorite sweater / shirt / …” while trying something on has really helped me prevent bad purchases.
I got some great ideas while reading the comments as well! One of the few blogs were reading the comments can be just as inspiring as the blog :)