If you’re someone that likes to travel, anticipates a big move, or just enjoys the lean and frugal lifestyle, having a capsule wardrobe lets you pack up and go without much hassle. A capsule wardrobe is nothing more than an abridged variety of clothes and accessories that are both timeless and adaptable, any time of year.
Anyone that is like me has probably has had the problem of pulling something out of their dresser from months ago that has never been worn and still has the tags. How can we get away from unnecessary spending, whether it’s at the outlets, at the mall, and especially online? The goal to this is to build a wardrobe comprised of versatile enough clothing that can be worn mostly in any season to mostly any event, formal or casual.
When doing any organization myself, I find starting with an arbitrary number to be unhelpful, and like to simplify the process by trimming the fat from my initial starting point (good-bye tight Express T-shirt) then doing a deeper clean. If you feel more comfortable saying “I want no more than 30 different pieces of clothing,” more power to you.
Build the Scaffolding
These are your base layers and your basics. You might get away with a light pair of jeans, a dark pair of jeans, a thinner windbreaker-style jacket, and a more wintry one. Go through your clothing in a way so that everything serves a distinct purpose and you don’t end up with more than one or two items that fill a specific purpose.
At the end of the day it’s really fine if you have some overlap… My soft spot happens to be winter coats.
Quality is Overrated
This may be a point of controversy because I’ve found that people very strongly assert that designer clothes cost what they cost because of the high-quality material (bullshit). I even managed to convince myself of this when I first bought my $350 Hugo Boss windbreaker. When I was in college, I generally bought cheap clothes because it’s what I could afford and what I cared (or didn’t) to spend the money on. More honestly, I pride myself on my significant lack of style.
The problem with cheaper clothes is that they’ll wear out, become pilly, fade, unravel, or otherwise self-destruct more quickly than a similar model of the designer variety. You might spend $5-10 on a basic or novelty T-shirt that might be worn out after just a few washes; the alternative $50-60 T-shirt might make it through a few more washes but my argument here is that you can still go out and get 5-10 times the number of shirts, lasting a much longer time and costing less.
Pretty simple point here- Try to make as many items work interchangeably as possible. Like I mentioned earlier, having a staple pair of dark blue jeans will go a lot further than a hot pink boa. The more limited the number of clothes you give yourself, the more you’ll find items that don’t just serve a dual purpose but can work with pretty much anything.
It should also go without say that you should avoid buying anything that’s going to be worn once and never touched again. A dress for a bachelorette party, for example, will likely only be worn a single time, whereas a LBD could potentially be worn out twice a month. One of my own personal rules that I came up with was coming up with a “cost per use,” meaning figuring out the cost of each time you wear it.
Cost Per Use = Cost of Item / Estimated # of Uses
It’s a Steal!
One rule that might seem to contradict the the capsule wardrobe philosophy is getting clothes when they’re most on sale. Having a capsule wardrobe doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a static selection of clothes, but there’s always the option to rotate and change what’s there. Something to always look out for online is free shipping, or coupon codes that can get you further discounts.
Thrift shops are back in style (thanks, Macklemore) and can sometimes hold hidden treasures. Just check out your local Salvation Army, Good Will, or other secondhand store to see what’s in stock. As an added bonus, you can usually find some great deals on furniture there too. Let’s not forget Marshall’s, Burlington or TJMax for those of us who are willing to take the time to sort through endless racks for the occasional discount designer gem…
As everything, take it with a grain of salt and don’t be afraid to splurge here or there on something that you truly want. This, of course, is my personal list of rules. You can use these as general guidelines to help maintain a minimalist, functional wardrobe, or come up with your own.
- A capsule wardrobe can save money, travel easier, and gives value to your clothing.
- Start with staple items that are versatile enough to wear in all or most seasons.
- Maybe quantity over quality isn’t so bad when the alternative is designer…
- Save on clothes by shopping for sales, or at outlets and thrift shops.
- These are my guidelines. The important part is sticking to your own rules!
Have you, or will you, try a capsule wardrobe for yourself? What rules would or wouldn’t you incorporate into your own?