Capsule Wardrobe Experiment Update

It’s not a new story to open up your closet and find nothing to wear. I hate to admit it, but I was just like that. I was so frustrated once I even posted it on Facebook. I received a flood of comments, full of sympathy, so many of my  female friends could relate. Had they been standing next to me I’m sure I would have seen their heads nodding up and down. Woe is us.

Last year after connecting with the minimalist movement I learned about something else. Capsule wardrobes. When I first started my journey into capsule wardrobes all I knew was that it promised I wouldn’t open up my closet and feel like I had nothing to wear.  It was going to solve that problem.

So I dug deeper and found some guidelines. Suggestions and inspiration. *

I didn’t follow all the rules.

I read once, someone who said that the reason they thought capsule dressing wasn’t that great was because you are just packing away your clothes. Simply hiding them somewhere and just giving the illusion of less.

But that’s not true at all. If anything all the rules I’ve come across tell you to separate your clothes into LOVE pile, maybe and give away. To separate and then get rid of all the no’s and even the maybes. To put maybes in a box, and if after 3 to 6 months you didn’t miss them, to not even open the box and just get rid of it.  So, nowhere was it advising for you to just keep and hide stuff. If anything most capsule leaders recommend aggressively removing items.

My problem.

I don’t love any of my clothing. I’ve just never looked at clothing that way. Thinking “OH, this is my favorite shirt, pants …” fill in the blank, or “man, I just have to have that scarf!” isn’t something that crossed my mind.  But I knew, I liked a lot of them. I knew I had bought or kept them for a reason. I knew that if there was something wrong with them, I sure as heck couldn’t remember what it was. It’s like owning a pair of heels that feels great in the store and then realizing they aren’t that comfortable after you wear them to a 4 hour long date that includes lots of standing and walking.

It’s only with testing that we figure it out.

But our problem, your problem and mine. Is we are creatures of comfort. Oh and habit. If I am use to wearing the same 15 items all the time, it doesn’t necessarily mean I love them. That they are my favorite. It just means I have gotten use to it. Use to the look.  It doesn’t mean I don’t like everything else in my closet. It just means I can’t be bothered to put in the extra effort. We choose the path of least resistance.

My piles of clothing. From round one on the capsule wardrobe challenge
My piles of clothing. From round one of the capsule wardrobe challenge.

So when I started capsuling that is what I was set out to do. To figure out this pile of clothes I owned.

I didn’t know why I wasn’t wearing my other clothes. Sure, some items you can try on and say, yup this doesn’t fit. But other items weren’t  so clear. They were more like the heels, where you actually have to wear them out in the field. Use it in your life to see if they worked.

So I broke the rules.

I did what that one criticizer said. I got rid of some. But mostly, I just packed the majority away to await its test run.

So far the experiment is going well. After my first capsule I unpacked some different clothes for my second and then some others for my third. Each time using what I had learned to eliminate a select few more items. I then choose the ones for the next round of testing. So lets talk about capsule 2 and 3. You can check out these 2 posts that cover my first capsule.

What are your expectations?

Before I get to capsule 2 and 3, I want to set some expectations. Everyone is in a different stage in life and has different circumstances and motivation. I find that the post that give context to what they say are more relate-able. Who is writing? Is it a fashion blogger, a hippie, a mom, or a childless female business woman.

So who am I?

I was a working mom, and recently became a stay at home mom. I have 2 kids. An 8 year old son known here as JR and a 3 year old daughter Minnie. My capsule has to be functional for family life and running around. Also it has to be functional for the California weather. This is what I wear.

Capsule 2: Fall 2015

As with any test or experiment the first thing is to set some sort of guidelines. I knew I wanted to test out as much of my clothes as possible. But I wanted to give myself a chance to really use the items too. The guidelines for the capsule wardrobe set by project 333 seemed like a good start. I was going to use each capsule for 3 months  and those months would correlate with the seasons. For fall the clock began mid September and went to mid December.  Also I decided the easiest way to go through my clothes was to portion out my clothes by color. One of the first notes I made was assigning colors for each season.

I own a lot of colorful clothes.

For fall I assigned the vibrant fall colors. I pulled out as many of my red, fuchsia, yellow and orange items. As many as I could fit into my 38 piece capsule. Capsule Wardrobe 2 Fall 15

Fall as it turned out was the season of discomfort.

I realized early on that I might have gone a bit too color and pattern happy. I had anchor pieces in my bottoms but I wasn’t sure how well all the tops would work together. There was a lot of loud going on. Loud bold colors and leopard print.

But discomfort apparently leads to creativity. Honestly, I shouldn’t have been so surprised. They do say, Necessity is the mother of invention.

Feeling overwhelmed led me to do some research. With a bit of reading I figured out how to make my capsule work. It was a challenge but I made it through. Not only that, it was a fun experiment. Another example of finding happiness without having to spend money.  A small challenge that provided free entertainment.

It’s important to note that during my fall capsule I was still working. So I also had a very small work capsule. My work capsule consisted of 3 black polos and 1 red, and 3 pairs of pants.  I simply rotated through those. I spent more time at work during the day that I didn’t really wear my fall capsule that much. After work I would change into lounge clothes, so I was really only making use of my capsule items on the weekends. Here are some of the outfits I wore.

2015 Fall Capsule Outfits
I only captured a few of my outfits, but I was able to dress for a wedding, a conference, Thanksgiving, oh and Halloween all with this capsule. See if you can find the ninja! HEEEYAA!!!

So for fall my experiment taught me that being uncomfortable isn’t always bad. It means you are stepping outside your box and being forced to look at things from a different perspective. Committing myself to 3 months meant I had to figure out how to make my capsule work. Having a limited amount of items forced me to use what’s available.

I figured it out.

Capsule 3: Winter 2015-2016

For winter my capsule ran from mid December to mid March. My color scheme for my winter capsule was purple and blue with a side of black and gray. By the time I was planning my new 3 month winter capsule I was no longer working and so I was using my capsule daily.

Capsule Wardrobe 3 Winter 15

The discovery I made in my third capsule was…

Why do we set things aside for special occasions. I understand that we want to have things in tip top shape for when we have some special occasion. But then why do we have so many things set aside for that segment of our life. If I looked at my closet I have a disproportionate amount of special occasion clothing.

By that I mean this. Usually I have 3 events where I need to look really nice. Things like weddings or company parties. Some years I have none. But I treat almost all my dresses like fancy attire. I tell myself I don’t want to wear it on an everyday basis because its going to get ruined. But if I only have 3 events a year to attend and own 15 dresses then it’s going to take me 5 years to make use of every single one and that’s only if I don’t repeat any.

So in this capsule I started to ask myself. Why do we give clothing such special meaning? Either we are going to wear it or we are not. And if we are not, or years are going to go by before we do then why have them take up space.

My lean manufacturing brain also kicked in and I thought, it’s okay to have things set aside for special occasions but resources (clothes) need to be distributed accordingly. 3 days out of 365 is less then .01% . Which meant I had too many nice clothes. Its like thinking about the 80/ 20 rule. You need to address whats taking up 80% of your time. Except in this case it was more like the 99.99 to .01 rule.

So my winter capsule experiment saw me declassify my clothes. Just wear it was my motto. Going back to my fall discovery I needed to use the items on a regular basis to see if they fit with my lifestyle. Then I would know what could just be everyday clothes and what needed to go in the donate pile.

… and when it came to nice occasions I thought this post by Un-fancy really hit the mark.

But it’s not about putting on a fashion show for me. Some of what I wore would surely be considered frumpy or just awkward. But that’s okay. I was, I am experimenting. Here are some of my outfits.

2015 Winter Capsule Outfits 1
I did much better at photographing outfits. I ended with lots of combinations.

For winter I made much more use of the dresses and skirts I set out. Even of the blouses I also had previously designated as only for special occasions.

2015 Winter Capsule Outfits
Also for my second capsule since I was no longer working I was relying on my everyday clothes, well, everyday. 🙂 *Confused by the shorts and heavy sweaters. Well I live in California so …we still have some warm sunny days in the winter.

My winter capsule experiment saw me tear down preconceived notions.

What about the money

For all you financial types, I’d like to note that none of this experiment required new purchases. Like I already said I already had a closet full of clothes. Which was another rule I broke of project 333 after each capsule I didn’t go out and buy any new items. I wasn’t looking for pieces that where missing. My mentality was more like “make it do, or do without.”

My Motivation: The Second Experiment

I told you earlier why I was capsule dressing. I wanted to figure out my clothes before I got rid of them. But the truth is I’ve been running 2 experiments. With the mention of minimalism right at the top perhaps its no surprise that the second was about living with less. Capsule dressing is minimalism in fashion. But it’s not about fashion for me. For me the minimalism is the important part. To me its a stepping stone.  In my mind if I can get use to living with less I will be able to travel more.

Living a life of travel is arguably a lot more difficult the more you own.

Everything is an anchor.

As I go through my capsules I also notice myself gravitating to less choices. Which for me is a green flag . I am clearly open to using less and having less variety. Which I feel is a transition I need to make if I want to reach my goal of traveling for a year.

I am looking forward to my last write up where I will finally take a count of all the clothes that is left. I started with 269 pieces and I am super curious to see whats left.

Have you tried out Capsule dressing? It’s not just for women. What have you learned? If you haven’t tried are you curious at all?

The Roamer traveling wallet

*The people I commonly visit  and who give me inspiration are Un-Fancy. Project 333.  Light by Coco. All these lady follow some sort of minimalism.

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4 thoughts on “Capsule Wardrobe Experiment Update”

  1. Intriguing idea. If I owned more clothes I might try and make some capsules, but I think I have about seven or eight shirts and pants right now. It’s freeing to not have to think about it as much, but that’s just me.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate all participants.

      As for the capsule I’d say you are already doing it! And I am awed and inspired by the quantity you keep. That is the goal. To keep minimizing until I can easily throw it in a suitcase with no fuss. I’m sure it is super freeing.
      So do you travel? why and how did you get to that amount of clothing?

  2. I love the bold colors in your wardrobes! I also have the issue where there are very few pieces of clothing that I love–it’s all functional. I’ve been really considering a capsule wardrobe, and I’m training myself not to feel “deprived.” I think the method also only works if you buy high-quality clothing in the first place, which I need to work on, too!

    1. Hi ! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. It makes me happy to talk to the readers.

      Now about what you said. I wouldn’t let a lack of high quality items hamper your attempts. I didn’t purchase anything new for my capsules and honestly most of my stuff is over 5 years old. The thing is when you own so much clothing even if it’s 10 yrs old most of it has seen such little use its still in great shape.

      I haven’t had an issue of wearing through any clothes yet and like I said it’s not new at all. So I’d say give it a go!!!

      Plus if you read up on it from project 333 one of the things they say is its not about suffering. I made myself uncomfortable for fall but you don’t have to. If you wear through your black tank top, pull out a replacement from your stock.

      Just make sure to take notes that way when and if you have to replace something you know exactly what kind of clothes you reach for the most.

      Also once you see an uncluttered closet I think you will feel the opposite of deprived.

      I hope you give it a go. 🙂

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