Let’s Talk About Capsule Wardrobes and Minimalism

MaLieb Linen Tunic
MaLieb Linen Tunic

Cleaning out my closet is boring, but it’s going better than expected. I purge regularly, so the task is only overwhelming when it comes to keeping items that fit (but I don’t love) and donating items that don’t fit (but I really love). This is the albatross of the emotional eater.

This time around, I’m trying to be conscientious about my wardrobe thanks to the documentary that can’t be unseen and that back injury from the end of the school term last year. My back is much better now, but working at the school taught me that a good bra is everything and heels and tight waistbands are not. Clothing that allows me to stretch and move is key in my line of volunteerism.

Environmentally responsible clothing is expensive, which is one of the reasons I’ve been researching capsule wardrobes and minimalism. I know, I know: “capsule wardrobe” sounds like such a twee and trendy blogger thing, but when you brush away the style boards and affiliate links the idea is a sound one. I love the idea of a uniform that I vary slightly. It makes getting dressed easy and simple, and I’m all about easy-going simplicity.

I still have a way to go on my closet, but in the meantime I’m researching what a minimalist wardrobe is and how one goes about building one. Maybe it’s for me, maybe it isn’t. I’m still contemplating.

Here are some sites I’ve found helpful. I’m not including blogs like UnFancy which, while inspirational and aspirational, are more about the outfit than the concept.

Confidence Tricks from Susie Faux

SF-portrait-e1311416121472Susie Faux invented the term “capsule wardrobe” in the 70s, and since then her focus has been on empowering women through fashion. I like her classic, effortless style. She doesn’t date herself with trends and encourages investment pieces. At first glance, her blog is geared more towards female executives, but I can easily adapt her advice to suit my lifestyle.

 

 

Project 333

CourtneyCarverCourtney Carver brought minimalist wardrobes to the forefront with her Project 333: 33 items of clothing, worn for 3 months. I’m not 100% sold on the idea of a rotating, seasonal wardrobe. I live in southern California, which means my wardrobe is year-round for the most part. She describes the process in great detail and unlike Susie Faux, her site is fairly easy to navigate and doesn’t require a magnifying glass to read. (Says the extremely farsighted one.)

 

Into Mind

IMG_2257800Anuschka Rees is a 20-something PhD candidate in psychology from Berlin who is passionate about minimalism. Her goal is to help readers define a personal style that fits their lifestyle and aesthetic ideals. She has a workbook to help facilitate this (which I don’t need) but I love how she clearly defines a minimalist wardrobe. My mind is also blown away by this 30-Day Minimalism Challenge.  It looks like something I may have to do sooner rather than later.

 

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Comments

  1. I tried project 333 and liked it. I didn’t exactly develop a wardrobe where I had stylish pieces that could be worn different ways though — but I’m not particularly stylish anyways. It was simple to get dressed and ready. The seasons threw me off — being in upstate New York we have a really really long winter. So I needed more than 3 months for that. I just loosely followed it. I would like to do something more stylish — project 333 helped with reducing but not so much with a put together look.

  2. I did Project 333 (mostly) several years ago and it changed my relationship with clothing. Because spring and fall can fluctuate wildly where I live, the 3-month time window didn’t work for me in those seasons. But, forcing myself to pare down to only 33 items was transformative. You will quickly find yourself with only items you love that bring you joy. You’ll figure out what feels good and why. It will help you see the difference between wants and needs. You’ll realize how little attention anyone else is paying to what you wear. Highly recommend. (You can box up things and store them until you’re sure you don’t need/want them. I recommend that, too.)

  3. I’ve tinkered with this for years now…..I tried 333 years ago but it was a rough time and found that I had limited myself to a wardrobe fitting of The Cure – dark & drab & prone to emotional outbursts with sloppy red lipstick. Once that winter was over I started shopping again and in color! I’ve kept working toward a capsule wardrobe and am getting closer each season. Talk about a process….

    A couple of other good resources are: http://www.theminimalistmom.com/2014/01/week-one-capsule-wardrobe-basics/ & http://dailyconnoisseur.blogspot.com/2015/04/ten-item-wardrobe-springsummer-2015.html The minimalist mom is great in that her life fits more with mine, “just” a sahm mom and her shoes are much more practical for the life I have. 😉 The daily connoisseur can be a bit much with the high end brands but I think her philosophy is sound and she’s been working through it for years now. I really like that she focuses on colors that look good on you (hello, color me beautiful!) and flattering fits rather than what the urban hipsters are rocking this season.

    I found Unfancy recently, through Becoming Minimalist maybe, and agree completely about it being more about the outfit/lifestyle. She’s just in such a different place than I’ll ever be again, which is great for her but not at all helpful in building my own capsule. I hope you’ll write more about this!!

    • Thanks for the minimalist mom link, more my cup of tea.
      I agree about unfancy. She looks amazing, but it’s not for me, and I don’t want to keep buying clothes, as the commenter below pointed out. She buys more clothes for her capsule wardrobe than I buy at the moment!

      I just seem to have no imagination when it comes to putting clothes together. Looking at the blogs where they appear effortlessly stylish makes me hyperventilate. I seem to have 2 (or more) conflicting styles, so buying what I like isn’t working. I’ve realised I have some tops and skirts that I love, but they just don’t go together, so I end up with skirts that I can only wear with one top. I need to think about buying more clothes (other than jeans!) in block colours, or giving myself a rule where I buy patterned tops and solid colour bottoms, or something.
      Sorry, another wittering comment, but it’s helping me work it out in my head.

  4. I first discovered the capsule wardrobe through Project 333 and decided to give it a try. But I have to admit, I bought into Un-Fancy for a while hook line and sinker…especially at the beginning of her journey. I liked the idea of helping to narrow down my style. Once we went through a few seasons though and I realized she was buying 7 or 8 new things a season, I realized that I was on board only because the set up basically allowed me to shop 4 times a year….which felt good because I kind of like shopping but didn’t match up with my end goals (actually having a smaller closet with classic pieces that would last for years). Last October, I tried doing a 31 Day project about the capsule wardrobe but it kind of fizzled out after a few weeks. It did feel like it was already a “blogger” thing.

    Anyway, later, I found Into Mind. She’s fantastic. It’s a bit more detailed but chock full of good information. And admittedly, I love her design aesthetic.

    Good luck on your journey. I hope you keep writing about it too!

  5. Personally, the idea of a “uniform” is growing on me, but I have yet to figure out what exactly that would be. I mean, if I’m going to be wearing essentially the same thing every day, it darn well better look good. (20 year old me is horrified at this whole idea, though. It gets easier, young lady!)

    The capsule concept is so intriguing! I’m familiar with Project 333, but not the others; thanks for the links. And — after going KonMari on my wardrobe — now would be the perfect time to build one, seeing as I’m down to bare bones. But…see above.

    • Oh wait — I have the 30 Day Minimalism Challenge bookmarked already. Perhaps it’s high time to try it…seeing as how it’s buried in other bookmarks?

  6. I’m excited to try these!!! Thanks for the reading leads. Simplifying life is easier than we think, but we have to be 100% committed to it. I also love the look in the first image. I’d wear that everyday!

  7. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this as you move forward. I have A LOT of clothing in my dresser and closet that doesn’t regularly get worn but some of it has specific function over “things to wear every day” so I am passive about weeding it out. Like, I have an entire drawer of workout clothing (let’s just…ignore my failings at actually doing that, but I go through life phases where I will be better about that and then let it slide a few months later). Do the t-shirts I had when running cross country in high school bring me joy? Unlikely, but I still keep them around rather than purge them and then have to get more when I’m motivated to hit the gym for awhile. Same with some of my nicer clothes. Now that I work from home (and since having my small human), those don’t get called into play often but I do need stuff for when I meet with a client or attend a function or wedding. If we’re talking truly every day wear, I could probably scale my stuff back easily (in the spring/summer, I basically wear a rotating selection of cotton skirts and t-shirts and tanks, fall and winter it’s basically one pair of jeans and long-sleeved t-shirts, or a blouse when I’m feeling fancy), but does a minimalist wardrobe account for special uses?

  8. I’ve tried Project 333 and have been on it for almost 3 years now. I lived in SE Asia, where it’s summer all year round, so I’ve kind of adapted Project 333 to Project 336, which means I only update (if necessary) my wardrobe every half a year. I am also a SAHM so my uniform is white tee/shirt, white jeans/shorts, sneakers/flats all year round.

    I found this to be really liberating, I’ve never done mindless shopping anymore. I only shop when my clothes/shoes/bags are beyond repair.

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