Here’s a thought that’s been on my mind a whole lot lately:
Capsule wardrobes are a tool, not the destination.
I think always knew this deep down, but it’s becoming real in a different way now. Maybe it’s the crazy exciting life change we have on the horizon, but I’m seeing my capsule wardrobe journey in a new light:
It’s less about the capsule wardrobe, and more about what it teaches me along the way.
So I’ve been reflecting over everything I’ve learned so far from living with capsule wardrobes. Three lessons immediately come to mind:
Take intentional breaks from shopping. I’ll carry this idea with me forever. If I’m not careful, one shopping trip can bring on an avalanche of shopping trips. Every season, I loved how I felt when I took an intentional shopping break. It helped me make smart buying choices, and it helped me feel more content and more present in life.
Buy fewer, better things. It seems almost flippant to just throw this one out there. It’s such a short phrase, but it’s impacted me in the deepest places. We often hear this mantra tossed around, but there’s something that shifts inside when we try to live it. It’s powerful.
When things aren’t adding up, start subtracting. So often, when I’m faced with a problem, my first reaction is to think I need to add something to my life to solve it. Like, if I’m disorganized, I should buy more storage containers. Or, if I’m feeling stressed, I should go shop for a new dress to make myself feel better. When the answer to both of those problems could be to subtract something from my life.
What are your favorite lessons you’ve learned so far on your capsule wardrobe journey?
Tank: old from Madewell (similar)
Skirt: old from Zara (similar in grey)
Shoes: old from J.Crew (similar)
I’m new to this blog and this post prompted me to comment. I realize this is a journey. I’m still in the purging/organizing/trying to prepare my capsule stage. However the feeling of subtracting to organize versus buying more storage space is so true! When stress is upon me, I feel so much better these days looking at a clean, open closet, jewelry draw etc. Who knew so much clarity would be gained through this process. Thank you for sharing your journey.
This is my first season of capsule but I have learned so much already. I cannot explain to you (nor do I have to) the joy and relief that an intentional shopping break has brought to my life! It seems ridiculous, but a huge mental weight has been lifted. I thought it would be hard because I love clothes and fashion, but it has been quite easy. I am just on a short break, free to enjoy the clothing I already have, until it is time to start thinking about the next season. How freeing!The whole “buy less/buy better” thing rings true for me as well. I had already started buying better, but not necessarily less :) I was still figuring out my personal style so I was just buying random pieces that I liked. Now that I’ve sat down and thought about my style, my life and what specific pieces I need, I’ve found that I need less pieces and get more wear out of the ones I have.
I seems so simple, as I’m reading what I just wrote. But it is truly life-changing :)
Surprisingly enough it has given me the confidence to incorporate more items into my wardrobe and help me figure out my sense of style. Before thinking of my wardrobe as a capsule, I would just end up wearing pretty much the same outfit all week. Now I mix and match for more diversity.Kari
This look is simple, but lovely. The colors compliment each other so well! Love it!
I also totally agree with your point about buying fewer, better things. I used to run towards sales (and sometimes still do…eek!), even if I wasn’t exactly in love with what I was buying. Call me neurotic, but now I have a list of “essentials” that I’m only allowing myself to buy for now, before I go around buying more of what I don’t need. You’ve gotta have the basics, like a white button-down, before buying that glittery blouse you’d only wear on New Year’s!
I have gotten to the point were I am wanting to simply my life in this way for a lot of practical standpoints as a working mom. That is where I get hung up. I work in education and simply can’t wear jeans, leggings, shorts or sleeveless items to work. But of course in my personal free time these are comfortable and versatile items! Every time I start to take things out of the closet I find myself putting items back in to accommodate this. Any tips?
I feel you on this one! I am in higher education and have a work wardrobe and a home/casual wardrobe. I try to buy things that can transition between the two, but it’s hard!
this is so insightful and true. I love the depth of your thinking and your willingness to share it. I can really relate to posts like this.Also, I want to wish you many blessings with your move. I can’t wait to see the ways it will impact Un-Fancy:)
I actually read this post and then at lunch I bought a skirt.The skirt isn’t something that I really “need” right now. BUT I bought it at the BCBG outlet for $19 (originally 138, sounds crazy but says the tag). The greatest thing for me that has come out simplifying my wardrobe is trusting my self to buy something when opportunity strikes. For me, I don’t buy things during a specific period or “shopping window” because I feel like for me that makes me buy things I don’t need when I tell myself its shopping time. While in the store I thought about a couple of tops and shoes I have that it would go with. It’s more of a going out skirt, and its been an ongoing goal to upgrade my special occasion outfits. I’ve gotten rid of the 9 sort of skanky skirts I never wore, so I’m happy to add 1 skirt that I think I will.
But I still also think adding more storage containers is going to make my life better. Still working on that one.
Wow I love that. “When things aren’92t adding up, start subtracting.”
Love that 3rd piece of advice. Very relevant and refreshing :) xx
I really didn’t think I could do the ‘not shopping’ all the time part of the capsule wardrobe. I thought that would be the biggest struggle. I have to say, I’m amazed at how much I don’t even think about shopping, because my current wardrobe is so satisfying and complete.I’ve had a girl’s weekend and afternoon of boutiques. I’m not going to be a complete stick in the mud, so I go in and focus on what type of piece I may need for the next season. In the old days, I would have definitely walked out buying something. Now, I’m content to leave empty handed if nothing suits me.
I’ve learned that it is actually FUN and more productive to LIMIT MYSELF and to practice the supreme, serene discipline of “curating,” as opposed to “collecting” (aka hoarding) my clothing. As you’ve observed, it’s a paradox that less rather than more actually brings more joy and contentment. We are continually programmed by modern society that we need more, more, more in order to be satisfied with our lives. This is a lie that is designed and marketed to us in order to make others wealthy. I LOVE the planning and dreaming that goes into organizing and curating my delightful seasonal capsules! Just like the fashion designers must limit their collections down to the bare bones in order to communicate their message through clothing, we get the privilege and joy of doing the same. Now I keep a bare bones collection of basics (jeans with black sweaters and boots for fall/winter and skirts/shorts with short sleeve or sleeveless white shirts for spring/summer, with cardigans helping me to make the transitions in spring and fall) Each season I choose an accent colour and buy ONE SET of new “fashionable” accessories such a scarf, bag, shoes or earrings/bracelet to freshen up my look! It was super easy and enjoyable to walk into H&M and pick a new accent colour for spring (blush pink this year). My seasonal updates cost less than $100, four times per year. Every few years I may have to update jean shapes to keep up with current trends, or invest in new items when the old ones wear out, but that’s about it! Thank you for the inspiration and the encouragement to let go of what wasn’t working, and to embrace this new, clean, streamlined, organized lifestyle! I am LOVING it! :) Katooshie
I love your version of the capsule wardrobe! Do you have a blog?
Oh man, lesson two and three have been so good for me. I am only on my first capsule but so far the whole concept of less is more has been so refreshing! Thank you for sharing your perspective and such great advice!
Totally agree with those three points Caroline. A beautiful summary. Wishing you all the very best with your Seattle move xo
This is such a great post- I love how simple your take-aways are, I enjoyed reading and reflecting on my own learning about the capsule wardrobe learning process. I really need to sit down once the semester is over and do the same! I think your point about taking breaks from shopping is really important but I can’t seem to bring myself to do it… There’s always a sale or a stresser that sends me out with my credit card in hand. Hopefully a calmer lifestyle can result in calmer shopping habits!
I absolutely appreciate you saying that a capsule wardrobe is a means, not an end. I get frustrated with myself that I struggle sometimes following all the rules of a capsule wardrobe, but remember that it is a guide and a resource and not a box in which I’ve put myself, helps me appreciate the transformation it can lead to.
Thanks for sharing!
Love it! Agree whole heartedly and so looking forward to more lessons. Not sure if this is a lesson but having a more condensed closet makes my life less stressful. I have narrowed my choices for what to wear. And I’m learning to really try to LOVE each outfit…. that’s a cool challenge for appreciation and abundance…
I am new to this blog, but as I am looking at your outfit posts, I am wondering if you can post a quick link to your current capsule each time? As I look at your combos, I like to be remembered of what you are working with, to help me get my own ideas! Thanks!!!
when I was in high school I wore a uniform and it was wonderful because I didn’t have to put energy into worrying if I looked ok. I was free to learn, to make friends and to focus on happiness. Along the way I’d lost a bit of that freedom as I became more and more wrapped up in choosing the right looks to define my style. Using a capsule is similar to that high school uniform. I have a set number of choices, and this frees me up to focus on what really matters. I’m more creative and inquisitive and spend my time in the moment. Capsules also reinforce the idea that basics are called so for a reason – they’re reliable and essential.
I just found your blog today and I can’t get enough. Love your concept and your style! I am married with two kids, and we are perpetual globetrotters. This type of lifestyle has forced a minimalist attitude, some unwillingly and some refreshingly. While I have pared down drastically over the years, I never really thought of a magic number for my wardrobe. (And I have a degree in accounting, numbers are what make sense to me, how on earth did I miss the connection?!) Currently, we reside in Europe and I find myself wanting to let go of even more. I’ve downsized and de-cluttered much of the house since our last move 10 months ago. And now I’m finally ready, mentally prepared and headed to my standing wardrobe (we don’t have closets) to actually count it out and find my magical equation!!!! Thanks for the motivation!
I discovered your blog a few days ago and actually I can’t stop reading :-) I don’t think I personally could do with just 37 pieces – as a working mom, I need to dress for various occasions – office, playground, meeting friends…and of course I have to wash my clothes more frequently (…little chocolate hands on my white shirt for example..) I am also not sure if shopping only in a limited time period is for me. Sometimes, the things I like are hard to find, and if I do find an item that matches my expectations exactly, I have to get it. And there is this brand I really like which is on the pricier side. I do buy there at the beginning of the season if it is something I really need, but I also put items online on my wishlist and when sale starts, I look if there is anything left in my size.
However, I like the concept of “less is more”. I like the idea of only having clothes I really love, not just “like”. I like getting a lot of wear time out of my beautiful clothes and I like the idea of a shopping-free period (maybe not 3 months) once I have the feeling I got everything I need for the season. The Problem here is – I have to stop looking which is so hard.
Thank you for your inspiration!
Oh, I had one more thought. I’m not sure if you already mentioned this in another post, but going along with your lesson #1 – taking a break from shopping – I found it extremely helpful to unsubscribe from the mailing lists of companies and ask my favorite go-to brands to send me fewer emails. De-cluttering my InBox helps me take that break, because my mind is on break from thinking about what is new, on sale, etc… Another tip – I actually like use a separate email address just for online shopping. So, then the emails aren’t even sent to my regular account, cluttering my mind with unnecessary advertising and thoughts of what could be missing. It gives me more control over my shopping/spending habits and lends less power to advertising (or so I think/hope!)
This is definitely something I’ve put into practice in my life as well. Whenever I start to get the new-season shopping itch, I spend some time clearing out my closet instead. I find that spring cleaning helps detract from my feelings of ‘more is more’ somehow. As always, thanks for the great tips and thoughtful advice. Love your words!
[…] who writes Un-Fancy, shares this lesson: “When things’a0aren’t’a0adding up, start […]
I’ve been doing a 12 piece wardrobe challenge for the month of April. At first I was really anxious about it, but now that I’m nearing the end, I am so happy that I stuck with it. From the very first week, I felt much calmer getting ready, and felt like I had more control in my life. It was so bizarre that such a small change could affect other areas of my life!
What I enjoyed the most was finding out more about my personal style and taste. I have already upgraded one of the dresses I wear frequently to a better quality version of what I had previously. Shopping is no longer a stress reliever for me, and I am amazed at the self-control I have to look at a piece and say “that’s pretty, but it has no place in my wardrobe.”
Your blog is amazing, please keep up the good work! I refer my friends to it all the time.
This is the finest, and most insightful post to date! I love how you’re explaining that the goal is, and always has been, to be more mindful. Great work, and good luck with your Seattle adventure!
[…] Unfancy shares her three lessons from having a capsule wardrobe. […]
When I was growing up I used to hear from my Mom in regards to clothing: “It’s better to have fewer things that are classic and of good quality than lots of cheap stuff”. It’s very true even though I have strayed often over the years. The quality pieces look better and last longer.
I remember about 20 years ago my husband and I had three dressers in our bedroom, all hand me downs. I had more stuff than could fit in the dressers, so I decided that we needed a fourth. so I shopped around and wasn’t happy with any of the new dressers out there. So in my frustration, it finally occurred to me that I didn’t need another dresser but that I needed to get rid of stuff. So not only did I purge my clothing, I eliminated one of the dressers!
You are right on!
[…] Three Lessons I’ve Learned from Creating my Capsule Wardrobes. […]
How tall are you? I love everything in all of your capsules. Trying to figure out how I can tweak some of your outfit ideas to match my 5’2 frame.
I’m starting late into the season, but I’m starting nonetheless. Thank you!
Here’s my story:
[…] of fashion, but I am far more comfortable than fashionable. I skipped the articles on building a capsule wardrobe (37 pieces, who can live with that?) and didn’t bother to read the article by art director […]
[…] three lessons i’ve learned from my capsule wardrobe by unfancy […]
[…] love her posting about “Three lessons I’ve learnt from a Capsule wardrobe“… I also love her mentions of taking an intentional shopping break…because […]
Start subtracting’85. its what I am attempting to do. However sometimes the shopping seems to catch up.This week I am subtracting at least 7 tops from my closet.
For all those in love with her shoes in this outfit J crew factory is selling them for $35! She has a link going to a pair by steve madden for $70 but you can get the exact same thing for less than half that price! Just thought I’d share!
I just had a baby, 26 days ago! And I first learned about a capsule wardrobe from you while pregnant and I have been eager to have the baby, lose the baby weight and set up my wardrobe. Reading this especially I definitely am more inspired to do it. Like you said, sometimes it’s good to subtract! Also I am not normally one to buy less, better items. I normally buy more, lower quality, and then wear none of it! I can’t wait. Thanks for sharing :)
[…] Buy’a0fewer, better things. It seems almost flippant to just throw this one out there. It’92s such a short phrase, but it’92s impacted me in the deepest places. We often hear this mantra tossed around, but there’92s something that shifts inside when we’a0try to live it. It’92s powerful.’94 ~ Caroline Rector […]
This line is everything: “When things aren’92t adding up, start subtracting. So often, when I’92m faced with a problem, my first reaction is to think I need to add something to my life to solve it. Like, if I’92m disorganized, I should buy more storage containers. Or, if I’92m feeling stressed, I should go shop for a new dress to make myself feel better. When the answer to both of those problems could be to subtract something from my life.”
I love that so, so, so much. Can I just frame that paragraph right there? It means more to me than I thought it would while reading this during my lunch break at work. I definitely want to start implementing this mindset shift into my life. Less, less, less. That’s good.