My experiences with a capsule wardrobe

My husband was completely unimpressed when I started a capsule wardrobe. Not only does he not care at all about fashion (except his distaste for electric neon leggings and pajama-wearing in public), but he already has a minimalist wardrobe. Jeans, t-shirts, cargo shorts and sweaters—this is his wardrobe all year, each garment worn until it frays to bits.

Many guys are like him, which is why I explain capsule wardrobes as “how a dude dresses all the time” to people who don’t know what they are.

After adopting a minimalist approach to my clothing, I realized what he’s known all along: It’s better to have less.

Here’s my experience with a capsule wardrobe (which eventually evolved into a minimalist wardrobe)

Creating my first capsule was energizing. Like most people starting out, I focused less on finding quality garments and more on downsizing my wardrobe. I whittled my wardrobe down to about 35 items, including shoes (but excluding undergarments, pjs and exercise clothes), stored a smaller portion of things I wasn’t ready to get rid of yet, and donated the rest.

I’ll confess that I went through a short-lived but awkward phase of feeling like I didn’t have anything to wear. Temporarily this actually made me more indecisive about what to wear, and added more time to my morning routine. And definitely I had a few moments of regret, feeling like I’d over-purged.

Fortunately this awkwardness resolved itself fairly quickly as I settled into a smaller wardrobe. And after six months I found myself reducing even more. I got rid of almost all of the things I’d set aside for storage, plus more. My entire wardrobe now consists of less than 50 things for the whole year, and each season I find myself purging just a little more.

Needless to say, I’ve saved money on clothing, though like a lot of capsule wardrobe wearers, I’ve spend more on a few things (ex. this shirt) than I normally would have otherwise. But this list is small.

Also, a minimal wardrobe has completely resolved the “what should I wear today?” morning deliberations, saving me time getting ready. I now dress as fast as my husband does.

If you’re a guy reading this you may be like, “Duh. I don’t get what the big deal is.” But you’d be surprised how much time and energy women will invest in fashion. Shopping, looking at styles, talking to each other about clothes, trying things on, planning outfits—there’s a reason fashion is a 3 trillion dollar global industry. Stepping out of the stream is liberating, which is why I think capsule wardrobes are gaining popularity (ex. here’s a chart of searches for “capsule wardrobe” in the past year).

Interested in trying a capsule for yourself? Here’s how to start one:

  • If you’re easily pulled into fashion trends, start by unsubscribing from retailer emails, fashion newsletters/magazines, and avoid stores
  • If you want to start by decluttering your closet, read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
  • If you’re influenced by social issues and inequality, read Overdressed.
  • If you are interested in discovering your own uniform, read this and this.
  • If you want someone to plan a capsule for you, try Cladwell.
  • If you want to plan a capsule yourself, download Unfancy’s capsule planner.

I’m curious: Would you like me to share some tips for influencing your significant other to start downsizing their wardrobe?

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