“Until recently, I thought a ‘capsule wardrobe’ was some contemporary notion that millennials were touting as the newest fashion craze.” - Nicole Anzia, The Washington Post
Minimize to Maximize
Steve Jobs. Michael Kors. Albert Einstein. What do these people have in common? Their closets, each one with minimal outfit selections. Jobs wore his same black mock turtleneck, blue jeans, and New Balances every day. Einstein was said to have bought more than one of the same grey suit as his own sort of uniform. Even Obama has been known to have a minimal wardrobe. He told Vanity Fair, “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make. You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.” Whether they called it this or not, each of these successes had their version of a capsule closet.
Coined by London Boutique owner Susie Faux in the ‘70s, the term capsule closet is not some new-found craze. The capsule closet consists of a few interchangeable pieces that you can mix and match to create a wardrobe with multiple looks and minimal closet space. You’ll then pair those pieces with seasonal items and your chosen accessories to create your completed look. There’s debate as to how many pieces make up a capsule closet. Some say 37, others say 33, and then there are those brave people that say 12, so don’t get caught up in the numbers. Your capsule wardrobe should consist of between 10 and 50 pieces and is what you’ll mainly pull from for everyday work, and weekend, looks, not including workout, sleep, or formal wear.
Why we love it
There are many reasons to romanticize the minimalist lifestyle, but there are so many practical reasons to love the capsule closet.
Less clothing waste. The average American throws away 80 pounds of clothing per year. That is 14 million tons of combined textile waste in the USA alone. Fast fashion retailers, such as Forever 21, H&M, Zara, and Top Shop, have a high clothing turnover, resulting in shorter seasons, cheaply made clothes and low resale values. Ethically, many fast fashion companies are exploiting workers overseas, with barely livable wages on top of poor working conditions. By having less in your closet, you can spend your money on a few quality items from quality stores all while doing your part to help the environment.
More closet space. We love the idea of a clean closet. You’ll be able to see everything you have, and you’ll know when something falls off a hanger, previously never to be seen until spring cleaning.
Less decision making. The less energy you have to make on small decisions throughout the day, the more energy you can put into the decisions that matter. Fast Company referenced a study done on more than 1,100 parole hearings made by judges in the US. “What they discovered was that the most influential factor in whether or not someone was granted parole wasn’t their crime, background, or sentences, but what time their case was heard. ‘Prisoners who appeared early in the morning received parole about 70% of the time, while those who appeared late in the day were paroled less than 10% of the time.’ No matter how rational or sensible you are, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a mental price.” End decision fatigue, starting with your wardrobe.
More money in your wallet. Since you’re saving money on shopping for clothes, you’ll have more money for the things that matter. Try to only shop for new clothes for your next season’s capsule closet two weeks before the season begins so you’ll be less tempted to hoard clothes throughout the leading months.
What Makes the Cut
So you’ve got a little bit of time this weekend, and you want to take the challenge on. Here’s how to get started:
Begin by setting aside any items you haven’t worn in the last year.
Next, clear out any items that just don’t fit anymore.
Finish the clearing process by putting aside any items that aren’t to be worn in the next three months. Put those clothes in a box for storage to switch out in your closet for their intended season.
Now, look at what you’re left with. If there are any pieces that you’re bored with or know you won’t wear in the next three months, even though they’re good for the intended season, put those in your “give away” pile.
From what remains, look at what pairs nicely together. We’re not suggesting you abandon your entire wardrobe and start fresh. You might find that you have pieces that work well together that you didn’t consider.
Each season, you’ll go through what you’ve set aside for the next and put away the pieces that won’t work for the current season. Be sure to get rid of items as you go.
A typical autumn capsule wardrobe may consist of a dark denim jean, a light denim jean, a light jacket, a heavy jacket, a short sleeve basic tee, a long sleeve basic tee, a blazer, a blouse, a tank top, a skirt, a dress, a sweater, a cardigan, a pair of flats, a pair of heels, and a pair of boots. Again, it’s unique to you so start simple. You can always adjust as you go. Use inspiration from The Every Girl (ladies), My Green Closet (ladies), Emily Lightly (men), or The Essential Man (men).
Share your new capsule closet by tagging us in your Instagram posts at @helloworkwell! And if you need somewhere to donate your clothes, try one of these options! Happy minimizing!