Have you ever thought about creating a capsule wardrobe? If so, you’re not alone. More and more women are attempting to simplify their closets, but it doesn’t always go as planned. Tune in to learn from my mistakes and find out the do’s and don’ts of capsule wardrobes.
In This Episode:
- 3 mistakes most women make with their capsule wardrobes
- My number one tip that will transform your closet
Featured In This Episode:
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Hello, and welcome to The Simply and Fiercely Show a podcast for women who want to clear their clutter and create space for freedom and joy. If your life keeps getting bigger but not better, keep listening to learn about decluttering from the inside out. It’s about creating a life that’s aligned with your values and priorities. So, you can have more of what matters, and less of what doesn’t. I’m your host, Jennifer and I’m so glad you’re here. Let’s get started.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to episode three of The Simply and Fiercely show. It’s Jen here and today I want to talk to you about capsule wardrobes. Now actually I did a poll on Instagram a few weeks ago just asking people what they wanted to hear more about, you know, with regards to decluttering and simplifying and this is one of the topics that was most requested. Plus, if I’m honest I’m always, always a fan of talking about minimalist wardrobes or minimalist dressing because I think that it’s just so universal or maybe not universal, I guess I know, not everyone wants to downsize the closet. But at the same time, I know that there’s a lot of people who maybe aren’t really ready to jump into decluttering or have no interest in becoming a minimalist so to speak. But they still have an interest in simplifying their closet. Yeah. So, I know that because that’s how I felt.
In the beginning 10 years ago or so, some of you have heard me talk about Project 333 which is a minimalist fashion experiment that was created by Courtney Carver, where the basic idea is you just wear 33 items for three months. And so, this is something that I attempted when I was first starting to dip my toes into minimalism and at the time it’s not because I thought I was going to downsize my entire life or experienced some sort of transformation, you know, or anything like that but I just wanted to love my closet.
You know, back then I was a huge fan of fashion magazines, I think my favorite Glamour magazine, I don’t even know if that still exists anymore but I remember back then there was always these editorial spreads where they would have one page where there would be you know, like a selection of seven or 10 items of clothing with some accessories and things. And then after that the next few pages would be the spreads with these like gorgeous editorial shots of these, like really stylish outfits, where everything was just made up of these few items and it was all mixed and matched. And you know, everything was very chic and very put together and very stylish. And so back then I remember I was just obsessed with these kinds of editorial spreads. And I loved the idea of trying to replicate something similar in my life, okay, because at that time, I had a ton of clothes.
I was a shopaholic at the time that was like my peak experience with shopping and I just had so many clothes but I never felt never felt they’re good together. So anyway, I was really attracted to these spreads and I kind of really wanted to create something like that for myself and I didn’t really know that at the time. I didn’t have like the terminology to know what to call it. But what I can see now is that what I wanted was a capsule wardrobe. Okay, so just to clarify quickly, for anyone not familiar with the term, a capsule wardrobe is it’s more or less just a simple wardrobe. Yeah. It doesn’t really matter how many items you have; it might be 30 40, maybe less, maybe more, it just depends on what works for you. But regardless, the basic concept in this is the same and that you have this small wardrobe, where everything you own mixes and matches. So, in theory with the capsule wardrobe, you could pick like any bottom and any top out of your closet, you know, blindfolded and they would work together. Although I will say in reality, I’d say that like most people have capsule wardrobes it’s usually not that perfect. It’s probably more like, you know, most things you can mix and match easily. Okay, so, yeah, that’s just a brief overview of what a capsule wardrobe is.
And I think we can all say that, like in theory, it’s a great thing. Yeah. I mean, who doesn’t want a simple wardrobe where everything looks, you know, everything goes together and you always look great. So, I think this is why they’ve become so popular in the past few years. I mean, if you hop on Pinterest for any of you who use Pinterest, it’s like a visual search engine and you search for capsule wardrobe inspiration. You are going to see hundreds of ideas, right? Of these like perfectly curated 16-piece wardrobes or, you know, whatever, you get the idea, right? These 16-piece wardrobes or they’ll have like these any idea that you could think of a spring capsule wardrobe, you know boho capsule wardrobe, office capsule wardrobe, new mom capsule wardrobes, you know almost anything you can think of there’s these capsule wardrobe ideas out there, where people, you know, put together what they think, would make a good capsule wardrobe. And it just looks so simple and wonderful and perfect, it is so ideal and so of course why wouldn’t you want a capsule wardrobe.
But I’m going to say something that’s perhaps I don’t know, a little bit controversial in the world of minimalism. Whatever that means and say that I’m not always a fan of capsule wardrobes, okay, or at least, I’m not a fan of how most people or maybe just many people go about creating capsule wardrobes, especially if they don’t already have a lot of experience with minimalism and decluttering and simplifying. So that’s what I’m going to be talking about today. I’m going to explain what sometimes goes wrong with capsule wardrobes and what you should do instead, if it’s something that you’ve struggled with, right? Because that’s kind of the point. I mean, I just want to say, if you have if you already have a capsule wardrobe and you love it, then by all means ignore my advice. Nothing, you know, it’s not one size fits all. Yeah, we’re all different. But if you have attempted capsule wardrobing, I’m not sure if that’s a word, but we’ll just go with it. If you have attempted to create a capsule wardrobe, and you are struggling to make it work for you, then this podcast is for you.
I’m going to share my big secret for simplifying your wardrobe and then you can create a capsule wardrobe if you want. Or you might even find that you don’t need one anymore. Once you start, yeah, once you start using the method that I’m going to share with you. Okay, so so let’s go let’s start by talking about what goes wrong with capsule wardrobes. If you’ve seen the title of this episode, it’s you know, a do’s and don’ts of capsule wardrobes, so, what we’re going to cover now is what you don’t want to do when creating capsule wardrobes. Yeah.
So, first and foremost, you don’t want to create a fantasy capsule wardrobe. Yeah, this is such a big one and it’s something that I I experienced and I know that a lot of people do as well. So, so what I mean, a lot of people start planning their capsule wardrobes by doing research, right. As I said, there are ton of ideas, you know, on Pinterest or magazines. You know, honestly, I have a blog post about it, I have, I think I’ve got a blog post about like spring capsule wardrobe inspiration, yeah, and I know it gets a lot of traffic, so, I know that there are a lot of people out there who are researching ideas for their capsule wardrobes. And I know this because I also did a lot of research myself when I was creating my capsule wardrobe.
You know, meaning back when I first attempted project 333 because really, that’s just a type of capsule wardrobe, just with some arbitrary rules thrown in. I remember that I especially loved these articles, which are like, what are they called, they’re like, you know, the 10 items that every woman should have in their wardrobe. Have you seen these? And, you know, obviously, there’s some variety from lists to list and depending on what fashion editor is writing it but I remember that they used to always have these things and they probably still do. Like, well, every woman needs a classic white shirt and everyone needs the perfect little black dress. And you know, everyone should have a you know, classic, stylish, you know, camo colored trench coat, etc, etc. Right?
So, what happens is you start doing your research for a capsule wardrobe and if you’re anything like me, you start writing out a list, right writing out a list of all the things that you want to include, which again, sounds like a good idea in theory. But the problem is, if you’re doing a lot of research and looking outwards for inspiration you may find that you know, the list you’re writing for your capsule wardrobe becomes a fantasy, where it’s more about how you wish you could dress or how you think you should dress or you know what you think should belong in a capsule wardrobe, as opposed to a reflection of what you actually enjoy wearing.
Okay, so this is what happened to me, had a lot of things I included in my capsule wardrobe in my, like, 33 item capsule wardrobe, because it was sort of, I guess, like what, what seemed like the right thing to do, even though it wasn’t what I was actually wearing. Right. So go back, you know, to that must have list that I said, you know, everything said that I should have a classic white shirt in my capsule wardrobe. Right? So, you know, of course, I included it. How could I have a capsule wardrobe without one even though I never ever wear like white button-down shirts in my everyday life.
Okay. I love the idea of it whenever I see other women wearing them, especially in magazines, it looks just so classic and chic. And like on a theoretical level, I understand why it would be a great addition to any capsule wardrobe, right? I mean, obviously, a white shirt goes with everything well. But here’s the problem, at the time, I think I was in I don’t know, my early 30s, late 20s, so, I’ve gone, you know, at least 10 years of adulthood without wearing white button downs so why on earth did I think I was going to start wearing them all of a sudden, just because it’s what I thought should belong in my capsule wardrobe. So that’s just one example of a problem. You know, it’s one of the big reasons my whole capsule wardrobe slash project 333 experiment didn’t work out. I was just too heavily influenced by what I thought I should wear, which meant my capsule wardrobe was full of all these things that I didn’t really feel comfortable wearing which in turn meant, I always felt like I had nothing to wear, right. So, my capsule wardrobe experiment was a bit of a failure and so, I might be a bit of an extreme case.
I swear that when I tell my stories, I always feel like I’m an extreme case and maybe I am. But my point is that whenever you’re creating capsule wardrobe, you got to be careful that it doesn’t become a fantasy and that you don’t get too caught up looking for external inspiration looking for like lists or blog posts or whatever to tell you what to keep in your capsule wardrobe. Okay.
And so, this whole concept is kind of related to the next capsule wardrobe don’t on my list, which is don’t get too caught up with perfectionism. Okay. And this is, obviously, I think, pretty related to the whole fantasy idea. I think that what happens is, as soon as you start to feel like you have some old limits, right, like you can only have 30 items or whatever, you, I don’t know me, maybe it’s just me, but you start to feel a little bit panicked, right? It kind of reminds me of that whole concept of quality over quantity. Yeah.
And of course, I agree with that, right? Nobody, I think anybody logically likes the idea of quality over quantity but it’s just a really slippery slope to perfectionism. Okay, so for example, I remember thinking that I could easily have just 33 items of clothing for my rest of my life. Like that’s, that’s not beyond the realm of my imagination. But at the time, what I expected is that each one of those items had to be the perfect item. Okay, so I needed I could have, you know, I was fine just having one or two pairs of jeans but they had to be the perfect jeans. And I needed the perfect little black dress, I need the perfect white t-shirt, you know, etc, etc, etc. And then if I had perfect, of course, I wouldn’t need anything else, but yeah, there’s a few problems here.
First of all, perfect, you know, in general doesn’t matter what you’re talking about in life is pretty much impossible. And if you are seeking perfect if you’re a little too just obsessed with that idea that you’re never going to be satisfied, you’re never going to feel content with your capsule wardrobe, if you’re expecting it to be perfect. And you know, I’m going on a bit of a tangent here, but I think part of the problem is we have unrealistic expectations of our clothes. Okay.
So, I know for me, like anyone I have insecurities about my body and it’s so easy to slip into this mindset of like, you know, if I just found that perfect pair of jeans, and suddenly my body is going to look perfect as well. Right? But of course, an unfair reality, no pair of jeans is going to magically make me look like someone I’m not. But until you acknowledge that you really sort of, I guess start working on accepting yourself, you’re always going to be in the cycle, you’re never going to feel satisfied with what you own and you’re always going to feel like you need to buy one more thing, I just need one more thing and then I’ll be happy, right? But then you’re never happy because that one new thing doesn’t, you know, isn’t magic. It’s like a magic pill, which just makes you happy with your body if that’s something you struggle with, alright.
So, as I said, I’ve sort of gone on a bit of a tangent, I suppose. But I do think this is a really big part of why we’re never satisfied with our clothes, whether it’s a capsule wardrobe or not. But I think that feeling is a sort of magnified when you’re creating a capsule wardrobe, because it’s kind of like, oh, crap, right? I am now committing to these items. I’m sort of saying this is as good as it’s going to get and it’s a little bit panicky when we’re so used to always chasing, you know, the next best thing. Okay, so yep, watch out for perfectionism when you’re creating your capsule wardrobe.
And moving on to the next don’t for capsule wardrobes, which I guess is also related. Everything is so intertwined, isn’t it, that’s something I always say a lot of people, anyone who’s bought one of my programs, you know, that’s like a catchphrase for me, it’s like everything’s related. But anyway, relating to the fantasy, relating to the idea of sort of perfectionism is shopping. If you are keen to experiment with a capsule wardrobe, don’t start by creating a giant shopping list. As I said, you’re going to be inspired and you might be panicking a bit. So, you’re probably going through, like, going to feel all these urges to go buy these like missing pieces, quote, unquote, right, you’re gonna feel like there’s things that are missing in order to create your capsule wardrobe. Okay, that’s how I felt. But what I encourage you to do is to slow down, put your credit card away, at least at the start.
First of all, it’s obviously not very minimalist, the first step to dressing with less should never be running out to buy more things. But even if you’re not really worried about, you know, being more minimalist, I recommend holding back because I think you’re when you’re in that mindset, you’re very likely to buy a lot of things that you might regret. Okay? Obviously, I know you take everything with a grain of salt but if you tend to, you know, be a perfectionist and you’re looking outside of yourself for all this inspiration you’re gonna be really caught up in other people’s capsule wardrobes, then I think you could easily be in a place where you’re buying things that you’re just not going to wear, okay.
So, these are some of the mistakes that people make with their capsule wardrobes they get, they get inspired by things that are sort of other people’s style, you know, ideal of a capsule wardrobe that’s not what they really like to wear. They get so caught up in perfectionism that sometimes they can’t even put the capsule wardrobe together in the first place or they end up with these massive shopping lists and they buy up all these things that they think they need to complete their capsule wardrobe. Which again, especially isn’t going to work if you’re trying to build a fantasy capsule wardrobe, right? So, the result is you’re going to feel uncomfortable in your clothes, you’re not gonna feel like you can put together outfits, you might not even put together your capsule wardrobe, you spend lots of money on things you want don’t want or things you don’t feel comfortable wearing, I should say. And yeah, it’s just not working.
Okay, so if any of that sounds familiar, I’ll tell you my do’s for creating a capsule wardrobe and to be honest, it’s pretty much one massive tip. And honestly, I think this is something that almost everyone can benefit from whether they want a capsule wardrobe or not. Okay, and that is to create a personal uniform. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ve probably heard me talk about it but I’ll dive in a bit more in depth and just talk about what’s how to create it, why it’s so important, and how it relates to a capsule wardrobe.
Okay. So, what is a personal uniform? Well, if you want to be really extreme about it, it’s wearing the exact same thing every day. Yeah, like some people, you know, might wear a white t-shirt and jeans and they have five pairs of jeans and five white t-shirts and that’s all they wear. And you know, that’s something you want to try then that’s great. Obviously, that’s going to make make it very easy to make a capsule wardrobe, right? But realistically, I know that most people don’t want to wear the exact same thing every day. I don’t want to wear the exact same exact same thing every day. You know, I do like a bit of variety. So, what I think you can do instead with your personal uniform is to narrow down a few formulas that you wear every day. Okay?
And what I’m gonna do is I’m going to use some food analogy is to explain this. Okay. So, you may have heard of like the concept of taco Tuesday with a follow up but the idea is that like every Tuesday you have tacos makes your life simple, you don’t have to think about what to make, you just make tacos on Tuesdays, right? And let’s think about how you make a taco. Now I’m not a chef, I’m really, really bad in the kitchen. So I’ll just put that as a bit of a disclaimer, but I can say that very broadly speaking there is a formula to making a taco, okay. You’re gonna have a shell, it could be like a soft tortilla or like a hard shell, right? So even outside, we could even be you know, healthy anyone have like lettuce or something. Or I still have these. When I was a kid, I used to get these chocolate tacos, so it’s like an ice cream cone shaped like a taco. But anyway, I digress and the whole point is that you have a shell of some sort, right, that’s one part of your taco formula. And then inside your taco, you’re gonna have like some kind of core base, right? It’s usually a protein, it might be like beans, it might be like beef mince, it might be shrimp, prawns, whatever, it doesn’t matter what it is, but you have like, a, I’m just gonna call it for simplicity’s sake, a protein, okay. So, you’re gonna have like a protein, even though it might not be a protein, a protein base, a shell and then you have toppings, okay, so like, you know, traditionally, it’s like salsa, lettuce, cheese, whatever. But it could be anything people get very creative with tacos; you know they put mangoes they put anything you can think of on a taco. So, if you know how to make a taco, it’s a lot easier because you know, I’ve just got to come up with these things. I need some sort of shell; I need some sort of base filling and then I need some kind of toppings, right. And if you want to eat that every Tuesday, you don’t have to eat the exact same thing every Tuesday. You can have, you can go wild with your imagination. If you’re not a pure as to talk to peers, you can go wild with your imagination. But it’s not like reinventing the wheel. It’s not a huge stress because it’s like, Oh, I know what goes in a taco right? A shell of protein and a topping. Okay.
And so, it’s the same kind of concept with a personal uniform. You come up with a formula. Okay, so um, it used to be for me, it’s not really what I wear. Now, I used to really, you know, whenever it was fall or autumn, winter, colder weather, I would wear skinny jeans, longer t-shirts and like cardigan sweaters and boots, okay, that was like my personal uniform. And then within that there was lots of room to mix and match, right? I could wear any color t-shirt, I could wear, you know, different prints. I could wear different cardigans, I could wear, you know, the skinny within the range of skinny jeans, there’s like a million different things that I can wear.
But you know, at the heart of things that formula is always still there, right? That skinny jeans, boots, long t-shirts, cardigans, okay. And I know, because I would wear those things all the time. I know that I like to wear that outfit and I feel good when I wear that outfit. I don’t have to overthink it, right? It’s like the Taco Tuesday. You know, you’re having tacos on Tuesday. You don’t have to overthink it, you just kind of think alright, what kind of shell do I want kind of what I want to put in my taco, right? But it’s not completely overwhelming. You’ve got some framework to help you make ideas. Okay.
So, the same thing happens with your wardrobe. Okay. Right now, I’m probably for the past few years after having kids my body changing a bit, I prefer like high waist bottoms. With usually I live in quite a warm climate now, so, like almost always a tank top with a high waist bottom high waist skirt, highway shorts and you know, I guess I’m a bit more minimalist now.
As I get older, kids kids take a lot of your energy so I’m really quite boring with my clothes like I wear I have a selection of like my favorite tank top, I have like five of those and then I have like two pairs of shorts and a few skirts and I wear those 90% of the time. But you don’t have to be as boring as me as you don’t want to. I think you can see how you can easily come up with a few formulas and really experiment with them. Okay.
So yes, this is what I recommend that you do and you can start pretty vague. I want to start by thinking about your favorite outfits, what’s your favorite thing to put on right now? Okay, like if you’re just having one of those days where you just want to fit wear something that you know you feel comfortable in like you’ve you always, you’re sort of go to outfit , what is it right? Think about it and see if you can kind of describe it in like the most basic terms. Yeah. Is it like a legging and cardigan? Is it like you know a certain kind of dress, a certain kind of skirt with a certain sort of top or whatever? Just get the basics down first get like a really simple formula. And then you can start to refine things like what colors do you enjoy the most? What fabrics do you enjoy the most? Like what, what do you like to wear? That sort of thing. Yeah. So again, you can still mix and match, you can still have variety, but you have got some framework to make things easier.
So, you do that and you create these formulas for the various activities in your life. I am self-employed and I work from home, so, I don’t have a lot of different activities. But you might have like work uniforms is something that you wear to the office and then if you have an exciting social life, which I don’t, but if you do, you might have like another one that cipher when you go out at night and then you might have like another uniform that’s kind of like your go to for the weekends, when you want something more casual. You know, something like that, just think about your lifestyle, what you need to wear on like a practical level, what kind of outfits do you need. Then honestly, if you just practice dressing with your uniform and you know, really redefining it, I don’t even think that need a capsule wardrobe, I don’t consider myself to have a capsule wardrobe I didn’t sit down one day and say, let’s plan all the capsule wardrobe. Instead, it just sorts of happened naturally over time by implementing this idea of a uniform, you just get really good at knowing what you’d like to wear and what you don’t and as a result you sort of weed things out accordingly. Okay.
So, but I guess I would say if you do want to create a capsule wardrobe, that’s completely fine if you want to be intentional about sitting down and creating one. But what you want to do is use your uniform, or uniforms, you know, if you’ve got the different types, you know, your work one, etc. You want to use those as your inspiration, okay? Or at least the heart of your inspiration. You can still look at magazines or Pinterest if you want but ultimately, everything you include in your capsule wardrobe should be something that you can work with the uniforms that you already have. This is how you avoid the fantasy problem that I told you about earlier. Okay? This is how you end up with clothes you actually want to wear in your capsule wardrobe.
And so actually, on a side note, I should say that make sure that when you are sort of planning your uniforms or working out with what your uniforms are that you are basing them with what you actually like wearing, which I shouldn’t say what you like wearing but what you already actually wearing, okay? Because sometimes there’s a difference between the clothes, we think we like and the clothes that we pull out of the closet and feel comfortable wearing every day, okay, and I think that’s important distinction.
For myself, I know that the fashion that I like looking at is much fancier, like I can admire an outfit the way I might like admire something in a museum but that’s not what I feel good in, okay. And if you don’t feel good in your clothes, if you have things hanging in your closet that they just don’t feel comfortable, they don’t feel you then you’re not going to wear them. Okay. So, your uniform should be a reflection of what you actually like to wear and not what you see in the magazines. Okay. Your uniform should also be tried and tested and I think it’s also I want to point out that I think that everyone already has a personal uniform, okay, even if you don’t realize that it’s what you already enjoy wearing. So, you just have to do a bit of digging to identify it.
Okay. So going back to capsule wardrobe. So, you want to figure out your uniform, you want to think about your lifestyle, you know? Like, how often do you go out at night, you know, if you if you have a really active social life, you’re going out all the time, then you’re going to need more going out clothes. Or if you spend if you have a really casual lifestyle, you’re going to be more casual clothes, etc. So even though you might have these different uniforms, when you start building your capsule wardrobe things should be proportionate to know how much you’re going to wear them. Right? If you if you only go out once a week, you only need a few dressy outfits and then you can start filling in the pieces.
And so, what I recommend doing is that you just start with what you already have. I think one of the problems with capsule wardrobes is that like, it’s, it feels so definitive, like you’re just supposed to say okay, these are my 30 items, I chose them, I did the work one day and now I don’t have to think about it anymore for the rest of my life. But realistically, it probably needs testing and refining. Okay, so you know, try things on, wear them see what works, see how much progress you can make with what you already own. Really try to find what feels the most you, what you feel best wearing and then you can buy new things if you need them.
Okay, and so I’ll just want to add So on that note of testing and refining. So, when I did project 333 for me coming from the place of being quite a shopaholic with a ton of clothes who had absolutely no experience with like trying to simplify my wardrobe or basically just base having any kind of limits in my wardrobe whatsoever. I think part of the problem was and I guess this could you could call this a bit of a don’t, is I tried to be all or nothing. I went into the challenge, wanting to follow the rules which was choosing 33 items for three months but that didn’t really work for me. And so, if that doesn’t work for you, I think it’s okay to say, I’m going to attempt 33 items for three months but if I struggle, it’s okay. Or if you’re just saying I want to build a capsule wardrobe and it’s not working for you don’t throw the whole thing into the bin, don’t give up on the idea, just swipe out a few items, you know, and just keep building on it building on your progress instead of giving up. Okay.
So that’s pretty much it, hopefully find this helpful. I know it’s a bit different, I think for maybe some of the capsule wardrobe advice out there. I’m not really telling you what you should or shouldn’t include, or you know, how many of a certain item you should have. But that’s kind of the point and I think that’s where people get so tripped up with their closets in general, you know, trying to follow trends, or you just want to wear what you think looks good on other people. But as I’ve said, that’s not necessarily what you feel you’re best in. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how beautiful an item of clothing is if you’re not going to put it on, then you’re not going to wear it. Okay. So that’s all for today. Thank you so much for listening. Have a good one and I’ll talk to you soon. Bye.
Thank you for listening to The Simply and Fiercely Show. If you want to learn more, you can download my free mindful decluttering guide and learn all the secrets that helped me go from shopaholic to minimalist all you need to do is visit simplyfiercely.com/freeguide that’s all one word to get instant access. Until next time, thanks again.