Surviving 1 year of colorful capsule wardrobes, and cutting my wardrobe by 47%

The traveling wallet is our journey through many of life’s facets. That’s why I like to cover a few main topics here on the blog: travel, money, family and minimalism.

This post is for those interested in minimalism. In this case creating a minimalist wardrobe and purging the items that just hung around. This year I completed a whole year of living with capsule wardrobes. If you don’t know what they are, it’s when you remove everything from your closet and pick only some of your clothes to live with for 3 months. In my case I choose to hover around 38 items. It included: tops, bottoms, and shoes. In the end I created 4 capsules to cover the whole year. After the experiment I can say its a great gate way to starting a minimalist practice.

Currently I am into year number two of this idea of minimalist capsule wardrobes. Before I can move on to the goals for this new round, I need to catch you up on what happened in my 1st year. My first year capsule experiment started Summer 2015 and ended Spring 2016. So lets take a quick look at spring details.

Capsule 4 Spring 2016

When I started my experiment I broke a few rules. The biggest one was purging everything I hadn’t worn in over a year. I instead wanted to give all my clothes a chance because I really didn’t know why I wasn’t wearing some items. My spring capsule turned out to be the leftovers with something of everything. It was a hodge-podge of styles and colors. While all the other capsules had color inspirations, this one didn’t. Yet, I still managed to create some looks I really liked.

Take a look at the explosion of color.

Capsule Wardrobe 4 Spring 16

All the shoes I own. Holy cow 11 seems like a lot.
All the shoes I own. Holy cow 11 seems like a lot.

After a full year and 4 capsules, I knew why I didn’t wear that dress, or that shirt. I knew what pinched, and what itched, and what I just couldn’t pull off anymore post the birth of 2 children. I picked out the clothes that just didn’t do it for me.

The clothes that got the ax.

Capsule Wardrobe Castoffs 2016
Capsule items that got cast off after their rotation.

18 items wasn’t all. One of the things I was most excited for this experiment was cutting down my giant stack of clothes. I’m a numbers kind of gal, I wanted cold hard numbers of how much clothes made it out of my house. Below is the chart.

My clothing count has dropped even more, since I last did inventory in June.
I can see how many shirts, pants and skirts I have and in what color. That level of detail is very Very important. Right?!

My final count after a year of capsule wardrobe experiments was 142 items. That was down from 269 which means I purged close to half of my wardrobe. 47% to be exact, but pretty darn close to 50%

Full disclosure: during my experiment I only purchased 2 things: a set of black flats and some underwear. But I was also gifted 3 shirts and 1 pair of tights. But those items are included in the 142 count. 

So I really was focused on using what I already had not on buying a whole new wardrobe. I kept thinking Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. I went from over 4 bins of clothes down to 2 bins, with empty space in the 2nd.

I guess compared to most I was not as aggressive with purging clothes. Especially since I wanted to wear most things before I got rid of them. But, I am proud of all the progress. According to Francine Jay, in the book The Joy of Less, most of us use 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. Meaning we would barely notice if 80% of our clothes went missing. While I didn’t cut 80%, a 50% cut is still big news.

I mean think about it. A lot of women ( and maybe men) are constantly gripping about how they don’t have anything to wear. Imagine feeling like you have nothing to wear and then someone telling you they are going to take half your wardrobe away. You’d probably start hyperventilating thinking you are going to be forced to go to work in your skivvies.

It’s a big number but I did it. Even while feeling like my wardrobe is so much smaller then the average person. I wish I had some hard numbers to back up that sentiment, but I couldn’t find any. But I did find this post with some numbers of other people who have counted every article of clothing they own.

If you feel like you have nothing to wear even while having a closet full of clothes. I recommend you give capsule wardrobes a try. Because why keep clothes if you’re not going to wear it? 142 pieces ( not including shoes) might not sound like much, but it provides ample variety.  Try it out! See how much variety you can create. I mean just look at the diversity of looks I created in one year with just 142 pieces.

1 year of outfit

Traveling wallet, Capsule wardrobe, mom style2015 Fall Capsule Outfits

2015 Winter Capsule Outfits 12015 Winter Capsule Outfits

2016 Spring Capsule Outfits 12016 Spring Capsule Outfits

Wow that’s a lot of colors

It seems like to me that everyone shy’s away from color. But I don’t see why. Yes, jeans( navy blue), black , white and gray can be mixed and matched infinitely but you can do plenty with colors. Maybe its’ because I’m Latina but I don’t want a black only wardrobe.

Did I love all these looks? Heck no! But I actually don’t shy away from discomfort. Especially when its aesthetics not actual physical discomfort. Am I making it a point to look like a disaster? Heck no! But I am happy to have the experience. To learn to divorce my value and self-worth from my appearance. If I am having a bad hair day, or I tore a hole in my shirt, or heaven forbid become poor and have to wear the same rags over and over again. I want to know that I am not going to let that eat me up. I want to put something on and be able to go on with my day even though it turns out that shirt REALLY doesn’t go with those pants or vest. I don’t want that clothing mix up to derail my day.

Want to check out my other posts on this capsule experiment? Click on any link below.

  1. Capsule wardrobe Challenge
  2. Capsule wardrobe lessons: love yourself
  3. Capsule wardrobe experiment update

Looking for some more color inspiration, that show how you can live on less. Check out this red dress compilation.

With the impending move and the 3 month adventure I am looking forward to this new year. We are planning to cut our possessions down to only what fits into our 2 economy cars. The Corolla  and Civic.  Therefore, My goal for this year is to cut even more clothing items out. If possible I want all of it to fit in 1 bin and 1 backpack. Clothes shouldn’t take up any more space then necessary.

I’m curious do you know how many items of clothing you own? Do you wear only 20% of them regularly?


The Roamer traveling wallet

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2 thoughts on “Surviving 1 year of colorful capsule wardrobes, and cutting my wardrobe by 47%”

    1. WOW! 200 is a big number so congratulations on that win! specially if you aren’t missing any items.

      I am glad I have inspired you to take a second look. Let me know how it goes.

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