I first learned about a “capsule wardrobe” from Elise Blaha Cripe and was immediately intrigued. A couple months later I discovered Jess Lively and, while binge listening to her past podcasts, I came across an interview with Caroline Rector – the founder of the capsule wardrobe. The whole concept behind the idea was so meaningful I knew I had to do it.
For those of you who haven’t heard of a capsule wardrobe, it’s pretty simple. For each season of the year, you pair down your clothing options to a specific number. Then get rid of (or store away) all your other outfits.
Caroline started it because she felt that she wasted too much time shopping and wanted to spend her energy doing more meaningful things. Intentionally selecting her capsule wardrobe made her happier. Yes and yes! Doesn’t that sound lovely?
I initially found it intriguing because even though my closet was overflowing and my drawers were completely stuffed, I basically wore the same look every day: shorts, a nursing tank top, and a t-shirt. My son recently turned two and I feel like I’m finally getting “out of the trenches.” NOW couldn’t be a better time to make this happen.
WHY I WANT A CAPSULE WARDROBE
#1. I want to be proud of how I look. I want to put in the effort and not have to apologize for my appearance.
The first New Year's after my son was born, I made a resolution to not be at risk of being ambush madeover. I was nursing so often back then and constantly covered in spit-up that it seemed silly to get dressed nicely. That January I told myself I would put in a little effort. I would text my friends photos of myself in the morning to stay accountable.
Then I bought myself 5 new non-Tshirt shirts and started a hashtag #puttingalittleeffortintomyappearance.
That time period was a year and a half ago and I do feel like I’ve made real strides. However, I was still wearing the same style nursing tank top and often didn’t feel so great about myself. While my in-laws were here visiting, I took the opportunity to go get fitted for a bra. Once I knew my actual size, I was like a kid in a candy store. I believe that was the first step to my new confidence.
#2. I want to get out of the “mom clothes” funk!
I want to wear things that look good on me and elevated my life. With two children, four and two, I have been really caught in a “mom clothes” funk for what seems like the last four years. I don’t mean for that to sound negative because let me tell you…I love my life! I love sitting on the floor in music class or rolling around with my kids at The Little Gym. Thanks to my Delia’s high-waisted denims, aka my “mom jeans”, I can do everything I want to and not worry about my butt hanging out. I love being able to feed and comfort my children at a moment's notice. My nursing tank top makes that possible and I don’t have to feel self-conscious that my belly is exposed because with the tank it’s always covered. That tank was good to me. I could breastfeed in public - and often no one noticed. My “mom clothes” helped allow me to be the best mom I could be! (ok, that’s a little cheesy, but it’s true). I am now ready to step it up.
#3. I want to put in the prep-work to curate a collection of clothing that makes me feel great.
Like everything else in my life…with a little pre-production I knew I could do it. To me, a capsule wardrobe is the perfect example of how taking the time to plan makes the outcome so much better.
#4. I want to make it public & hold myself accountable.
I knew I didn’t want to just have a capsule wardrobe - I knew I wanted to blog about it. Having a photo of all my options nicely presented as a Lucky Magazine spread is exactly what I need. I love the idea of seeing all my outfits on a computer screen just like Cher in Clueless. That movie was so ahead of its time!
HOW MY CAPSULE WARDROBE CAME TOGETHER
My capsule wardrobe came together in three steps.
Step 1: The Initial Purge
First, after listening to The Lively Show, I emptied my entire closet and all of my drawers creating an enormous pile on my floor. With the help of a wonderful friend, we went through each item and successfully got rid of nine bags of clothes. Nine! Most of them were shirts, dresses, and skirts I hadn’t worn in over five years. Since that process was slightly exhausting, we simply put the rest of the clothes back and I went about life as usual.
Step 2: Does it Spark Joy?
Then I read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” while we were on vacation in North Carolina and mentally my life changed!! My husband had also read the book, so when we got back to Brooklyn we tackled it together! Once again, I piled up all my clothes, plus my husband’s clothes. I knew this would take a couple days, so we paced ourselves and we put everything in Love Jac Headquarters so that we could emotionally escape from it when it became too much. Instead of using all the western organizational logical that was ingrained in us – “I wore this on our first date, I can’t get rid of it” and “I might need this if we go to a wedding.” -- we mustered up the courage and used Marie Kondo’s eastern philosophy of “Does this spark joy?” In theory, this makes sense. In execution – it ain’t easy. But we did it. I was able to get rid of two more bags of clothes and my husband donated four bags. We used Marie Kondo’s clothing storing techniques and, honestly, we are so much happier!
Step 3: Curate My Clothing
The summer continued, but I still didn’t technically have a “Capsule Wardrobe.” Once I had my new bras I felt like I could wear anything. As I learned from many Rachael Ray episodes, “Having a good foundation makes every outfit.” My clothes fit better. My posture was straighter. I went on two mini-shopping sprees while my in-laws were visiting. I tried to focus on buying dresses and pretty shirts. I didn’t allow myself to buy one single basic t-shirt.
Step 4: Photograph & Review
During this whole process I never really focused on the number. I wanted to curate my wardrobe. I wanted to be proud of every piece. One Saturday I laid out my clothes again and was able to eliminate one more batch of shirts. I took the time to iron my clothes and asked my husband to take photos of me. What I thought would take fifteen minutes turned into an hour, but we got it done. (Thankfully, my in-laws watched our children.)
(this is Georgia "directing" me for the photos...can you guess what i'm suppose to be?)
Since the second shopping trip occurred after we took the first batch of photos, I then had to take the second round of photos with the timer on my camera while my son napped. And then I remembered I needed to take photos of my shoes...and did that with Conroy's help! Not the easiest thing, but I got it done!
(i used a broom as my stand-in so I could focus the camera and use the timer function)
Originally I thought I would just take a photo of the clothes on a hanger, but then I remembered the purpose of this for me was to feel good IN the clothes. I am so glad I made this decision. Here’s a little secret: we currently don’t have a true full-length mirror in our apartment. I am not one to look at myself and inspect my appearance before I leave the house. So, to go from that to posting photos of myself on the internet is a huge leap - a leap I highly recommend. As with everything I blog about, it has held me accountable. I’m not going to post a photo of myself looking like a slob, so why was I going out into the world like that before?
And here’s the best proof that it is working. The first day I wore one of my capsule wardrobe outfits my four-year-old Georgia said, “Mom, are you going on a date today?” I smiled with pride and said, “No, just taking you to school!” I want her to see me as a confident woman who knows the importance of self-care. By no means am I going to become someone who spends hours doing my makeup or obsesses over myself in the mirror. That’s just not who I am. But I will take five minutes to brush my hair and put on a little bronzer! This capsule wardrobe has already given me more confidence without adding any extra time to my daily routine.
I will walk Georgia to school in my “mom jeans” and a super cute top! I will wear dresses on the days we aren’t at The Little Gym. I will push that double stroller with my shoulders back and my head held high! (well, unless we are going uphill – then I really have to put my whole body into it.)
MY FALL 2015 CAPSULE WARDROBE
So, without further ado, I present you with my Fall 2015 Capsule Wardrobe. There are 50 pieces, including 24 tops, 3 pairs of jeans, 2 overalls, 12 dresses, 2 skirts, 1 jean jacket, and 6 pairs of shoes.
3 Pairs of Jeans...
2 pairs of overalls (and 1 long dress)...
11 Dresses (and Jean Jacket)...
6 Pairs of Shoes...
I still plan on paring it down even more. Evaluating how I look and feel in each piece will help me figure out if I really want to keep it. Seeing what I actually end up wearing will also be interesting. I am so excited to get dressed each morning! Thanks for letting me share this process with you!! If you have a capsule wardrobe as well, I’d love to hear all about it.
I need to thank Elise for introducing me to this idea, Caroline for creating this concept and sharing it with the world, and Jess for explaining it so thoroughly on her podcast. I recently signed up for Jess’s Life With Intention Online Workshop. For me, it’s an extension of my participation in Ali Edward’s One Little Word project. This year my word is “push” and I have been so happy with all I’ve been able to accomplish just by staying connected to this word. I’m now going to push myself to live with more intentional values. I look forward to sharing more of what I learn during this process with all of you. Please let me know if you are participating as well. Here’s to this next chapter of life!