A capsule wardrobe is an undertaking I never thought I would ever consider, mostly because I love shopping, and my closet is notoriously bursting at the seams. But this summer, due to surgery, most of my clothes no longer fit me, and I had to go through the painful process of cleaning out my closet and trading it in for something new. Four industrial-sized trash bags to thrift stores and consignment shops, and I had an empty closet. So, I decided to makeover my style during this time. I wanted something that fit the stage of life that I am currently in. At the moment, I’m living abroad and traveling a lot; My closet needed to accommodate that. Low and behold, the capsule wardrobe entered my life. A capsule wardrobe is super simple in concept: a closet consisting of a few core pieces that never go out of style and can be easily matched. These pieces can then be augmented with a few seasonal pieces. Sounds relatively easy, right? I can attest that the reality is much more challenging.
To be honest, the buying of the wardrobe was the easiest part of this adventure. When buying clothes for a capsule wardrobe, there is a thought process behind it. You have to think through the rest of the items and make sure that they 1) work with the rest of the closet and 2) are basic enough to pair with future items. For the most part, I stuck to a color scheme. I wanted something classic that could fit in anywhere from the streets of Boston to Madrid to my tiny little hometown in the middle of Colorado. This meant black, white, grey, and beige were my go-to colors. From here, I was able to pick a few tops, sweaters, and blouses. For pants, I stuck to the basics—jeans in both regular blue denim and black. Picking out more classic pieces was sometimes a challenge. Most stores push the pieces in style at that moment and hide the classic, timeless pieces. I had to do a bit more searching to find these items.
Then it came to styling the clothes I had bought. This was the more difficult part. When your closet consists of items in similar colors, and you don’t have tons of options, it’s easy to feel pigeonholed. At first, I felt as if I was wearing the same thing repeatedly and that my closet had lost its originality. And I was right in the sense there wasn’t any originality because I wasn’t trying new things. After I got comfortable with the new items, I felt more comfortable trying new styles with my items. Slowly but surely, I realized that my smaller closet was much larger than I had initially thought. The nice part about having lots of basic pieces is that they pair well together. I also realized that traveling with a smaller wardrobe is so much easier. Coming to Madrid, I had one large suitcase and a smaller backpack, both packed with clothes. When I go on weekend trips, it’s easy for me to pack a bag with the essentials and a few outfits. There have also been some lifestyle changes since switching to a capsule wardrobe. Shopping is a lot less frequent, and when I go, I’m incredibly picky over what I add to my collection. I consciously shop.
I think about the item, and to myself, I ask, “Does this fit in? What can I pair it with? How many things can I pair this with?”. This also ensures that I am buying fewer clothes that will ultimately end up disused. The fashion industry accounts for a large chunk of carbon emissions and waste, so cutting down on your personal garment consumption means you’re helping the planet. The reduced consumption for me also means that my budget has been positively affected. Instead of buying garments that are poor quality and are products of fast fashion, I’ve invested in better quality garments that will last longer and won’t end up in a landfill. It’s also made me embrace a more grown-up style. I’ve had to think about what will last me years versus what will be out of fashion in the next few months.
Luckily, this entire process has made me fall back into love with my closet. During the pandemic and online classes, most of us wore what was comfy and convenient rather than embracing our closets. For the most part, we dressed because we had to, not because we wanted to. Changing up my closet and becoming more conscientious with my shopping allowed me to think more about how I present myself. As a result, my confidence has increased, and I feel more prepared to take on the day. So, to answer the question, “Is it possible to have a capsule wardrobe?” I would say yes. But be prepared; you’ll learn a lot about yourself in the process.