Trying Something a Little Different:

Flirting with the Idea of Minimalism? Look into Creating a Capsule Wardrobe!

Photo by Tembela Bohle on Pexels.com

Have you ever gone on Pinterest and seen the words, “capsule wardrobe” pop up on a clothing post and thought, “Wow, I wish that was my closet!” Of course, you have! I’m going to introduce you to three steps I took in getting closer to those gorgeous collections. But before we go on this exploration together, we need to get a few things straight.

Ask ten people and undoubtedly, you’ll get ten different responses for what exactly is minimalism. Ask Google and you’ll get even more. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to define minimalism as living with the least possible number of things. I know. Scary. And when it comes to clothes, it means the same thing: having only the most necessary items.

I’ve never been a very fashion-oriented girl, nor have I ever been particularly interested in keeping up with the latest trends, and paradoxically, that makes me a great candidate for something like a capsule closet. A capsule wardrobe is just as enigmatic as minimalism, but essentially, they are wardrobes that consist of less than or around 40 items. Now, I have to be honest and tell you that I am nowhere near that number, and quite frankly might not be for some time, but hey! This is a journey and you’ve got to start somewhere, right? This article is going to tell you steps to start this process–not how I arrived there simply because right now I’m half-baked cookies.

So, without further ado…

  • Number One: Go through your clothes. Wait a couple weeks. Then do it again.

Open your closet, or wherever you store your clothes, and get honest with yourself. Ask yourself: When was the last time I wore this piece? Do I enjoy wearing this piece? Then get even more honest: Do I still fit in this piece? (That can go either way, too. Is it too big or is it too small?) Having a capsule wardrobe is all about having clothes that you love. That you adore. That you look in the mirror and without fail and have the thought, “Damn, I look good!”

When I went through my closet, I made three piles. The first pile was for donation. These clothes should be in fair condition. Don’t send off clothes that have stains or are clearly worn.  The second was for the trash. These mostly included regular T-shirts that had seen better days. The third was for possible reclaiming by either my mother or other family members. Yes, my mother and I are similar sizes and sometimes wear similar clothes, is there a problem with that? Same for my sisters.

Use your own discretion and don’t be too hard on yourself this first go around.  

Wait a couple weeks—or longer—before coming back and doing the whole process over again. The reason I suggest doing this is because maybe there were some items that you just weren’t sure about. Yeah, you love it, but eh, you don’t remember the last time you wore it. This is the time to push yourself and let it go. My rationale: If I don’t wear it, I can donate it to someone who will. I know clothes don’t have feelings, obviously, but it makes me feel a little better when I think that I could be helping someone find a piece they love and will actually wear.

This second time ask yourself: Have I worn this within the last year? Did I wear this for the first-time last month but have owned it for three years and didn’t really love wearing it?

Again, this is for YOU. Do you have clothes that were given to you as a gift that you never wear? The person who gave it to you will still go on living, even if you donate the item. Keeping clothes for sentimental value is a waste of emotional energy—unless you truly love the item and it is still in good shape. Holding on to items only because you’re protecting someone’s feelings is not a good way to express to that person you truly appreciate them and their friendship. Let it go. Seriously. If you don’t wear it, let it go.

  • Number two: Don’t immediately go out and buy clothes to replace the ones you’ve just gotten rid of.

The whole point of a capsule wardrobe—or Minimalism itself—is to have only what’s necessary. Going out and shopping goes directly against that idea.

Capitalism rules our country (aka the US). How many ads do you see a day? Hundreds if not thousands, depending on where you live and if you watch TV and/or go online, which, since we’re being honest, all of us do for multiple hours a day. You are bombarded with the idea that you have to stay on trend, that you have to go out and buy whatever it is the brand is selling.

But let me tell you something: You don’t have to. You don’t have to go to sales and you certainly don’t have to buy an item of clothing that in a few months will be “out of style.”

Now, if there is an actually need to get something, then by all means go. But before you go, think about your wardrobe and think about all the clothes that you just took out of it. Which leads me to…

  • Number three: Only buy clothes that will last both stylistically and because of their quality.

I’m in my mid-twenties. I think it’s time I stop shopping at stores like “Forever 21” that only offer the latest trends and are made of poor quality materials. It’s time to INVEST in clothing. Yeah, that’s right. Think of clothes as an investment because, after all, you’re investing in your own comfort. When I find myself at the mall or boutique or even online looking at clothes, I find myself asking three questions:

  1. Do I NEED this? When I say need, I do NOT mean want. Learn to separate need from want (—and don’t limit that just to your wardrobe, but in every aspect of your life). Do I only want this item or do I truly and honestly NEED this item?
  2. Is this item of quality? Once I’ve determined that the item is an actual need, then I move to the quality of the item. Let me reiterate the fact that I’m twenty-five. Let me also state that I’m broke. Ha. Ha. Shop where you feasibly can. Think about your shopping destinations and the quality of the clothes you find there. Quality is…well, you know it when you feel it, don’t you? Ask yourself: Will this item last a year? Five years? Ten? (Okay, maybe ten years is a stretch.) If the answer is no, don’t buy it. Your clothes are an investment. You want to invest in something that is actually worth your money.
  3. Will I still be able to wear this item in six months? This is the last question I ask myself before making ANY purchase of clothing. I don’t buy clothes that are “trendy” because “trendy” means it has a short “wearable” life. It means that in six months, likely the trend will be long gone and the item that you purchased will be wasting away in your closet taking up space that would be better left empty. Buy clothes that are timeless. Pieces that will be fashionable six months from now, a year from now, three years from now. I try and stay away from patterns, unless they are stripes or polka dots. I also try and stay away from colors that are catchy—because they are hard to wear year-round.

Quality and style—I don’t think anyone can disagree with wanting both. Now make it a reality and only buy clothes that you NEED, are made of QUALITY material, and will LAST beyond the season.

  • Number four: Indulge.

Remember why you want a capsule wardrobe? Maybe it’s for a similar reason as mine: for practicality. I’m a simple person who doesn’t get caught up in what I look like. Yes, I want to look nice, but I want people to want to know me for ME, not because I dress a certain way. But all too often, I found myself buying things that others told me I should wear or that I had convinced myself I should wear.

When I first found capsule wardrobes, my main reason for wanting to begin the process was because I was unhappy with my wardrobe the way it was (maybe that was obvious?), but also because I wanted to start dressing for myself and not for others—men and fellow ladies be damned. I wanted a wardrobe that made me feel warm inside because I knew that I was wearing clothes that I loved. I wanted clothes that impressed me, that comforted me. Okay, enough about me.

What about you? Get real with yourself. Get honest.

And then, indulge. Indulge in the freedom that comes from letting go. Let go of clothes that you don’t wear, that you don’t need, that you don’t love or adore. Let go of clothes that you feel you have to keep because they were gifted to you.

Let it go.

You should wear your clothes, not the other way around. Don’t let your clothes define you—you’re more than bunches of threads could ever define! Don’t let your clothes hide personality faults—this is the perfect time to grow! You don’t need clothes to make you, you. And slowly, gradually, step-by-step, you will find that your wardrobe fills you more, even though your closet has less.

-Rachael