I never thought that I’d be delving into the world of wardrobe design and fashion – let alone writing about it!
See, I was one of those awkward teenagers who made serious errors in judgment just about every time she dressed. Further, even the words “fashion” and “style” had an air of otherness to them. Other people thought about this, those girls over there probably did, but not me. As a result, I had collected an eclectic mix of style, color, and pattern, much of which didn’t suit my personality, body, or lifestyle. And so, despite having heaps of clothing, I never had anything to wear.
That awkward teenager in unfortunate attire? Well, she became an equally awkward adult in probably worse attire (as my body grew less forgiving with age and multiple pregnancies).
Stage left, enter YouTube, our new character. I began watching videos on minimalism and other sustainable living practices and clicked my way to discovering how these topics relate to the way I dress.
Now, I had the missing piece, the motivation that made sense for me: I would learn to dress well to spend less time and money and to produce less waste for our planet.
These days, I look better and more put together. I spend less time in my closet in order to achieve this. What I wear matches my lifestyle, personal tastes, and body. I spend money more consciously and I have a much smaller wardrobe.
There are many ways to achieve a minimalist wardrobe. You can have a personal uniform a la Steve Jobs. You can tailor your wardrobe to fit in a packing cube in your travel bag. You can embrace a 10-Item Wardrobe (or any other specific plan out there).
Initially, I wasn’t ready for any of these approaches. I didn’t even know what I liked to wear. I then stumbled upon Project 333 and the art of capsule wardrobing. This technique was a crucial first step for me to understand what I actually needed from my clothes.
Discovering the concept of a capsule wardrobe is life-changing. It isn’t just that I look and feel better and have more positive social interactions. I also got my first tangible taste in the lesson that less can be more.
I didn’t even have to get rid of anything to start trying it out (a major plus at the start because I could always reconfigure my wardrobe as I failed my way forward).
Capsule wardrobing is a manageable minimalist change that allows a peek into the benefits of minimalism. No need to overhaul your life and home, no negotiating with family or housemates, just begin with your own clothes. Then, bask in some of the benefits of simplifying.
What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a streamlined, well-curated set of clothes that:
- only includes clothes that fit you well and you love
- has a limited number (the actual number can vary, but setting a hard numerical cap is helpful for decision-making purposes)
- includes items that work well together to create more potential combinations to give the illusion of more clothes
A capsule wardrobe is useful for men and women as well as children.
A capsule wardrobe does NOT have to be monochrome or made solely of neutral colors. It is easier to combine multiple garments this way, but if you are thoughtful about selecting colors and patterns, you can make a colorful capsule.
Since the items have to pull so much weight, it is good to put careful thought into your selections. Does this support my lifestyle (maybe say “no” to the 3 cocktail dresses if you live in jeans)? Does this look good on my body (is it a good fit and color)? Is it my personal style? How often can I get away wearing it? And in how many different ways? The theory is that if you put thought into your selections up front, you won’t have to spend valuable brain power in the morning when you’re getting dressed.
Variations on Capsule Wardrobing
Capsule wardrobing has many variations. While you can find guidelines (such as Project 333, described below), tailoring your wardrobe to your life will make this practice far more useful.
For example, your region’s seasons may impact how you capsule wardrobe. If you live in a stable climate, an all-season capsule might be achievable. There are also two and four season variations. Some items will be useful in multiple seasons so it isn’t necessary to have four completely different wardrobes. Instead, you can overlap pieces.
Some of you who work two jobs or have vastly different home and work lives may opt for two simultaneous capsules.
The main traits of any capsule wardrobe are curation and combination.
My favorite capsule model is Project 333. It works well in a four-season climate, has a following with a lot of free resources available online, and the item number cap (33) is a challenge that is nevertheless doable.
The Basic “Rules” of Project 333 are:
- 33 pieces (shoes, purses/bags, outerwear, accessories, and clothes)
- does not include: active wear, PJs, lounge wear, under garments, or specialty wear (such as swim suits or snow pants)
- 3 months (you set up for three months at a time and put the remaining or off-season clothes away)
- you also want to refrain from buying additional clothes for the three month-duration
Project 333 is the creation of Courtney Carver. You can find more from her at: <http://bemorewithless.com/project-333/>
It may seem that this is a shallow subject, but all of us dress every day. When our choices remain unconscious ones, we can suffer from cluttered space, wasted time, embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions, impaired social interactions, money waste and so on.
If we manufacture a conscious wardrobe, we can save time, space, money, and embarrassment. We can also make choices in line with our values. So what are you waiting for?
Until next time, live lightly and shine brightly!