My Capsule Wardrobe, a Year Later

Last year, like almost every other female I knew between the ages of 20-60, I purged my closet and jumped on the capsule wardrobe bandwagon. There were good intentions published online about regularly featuring my wardrobe via What I Wore Sunday, but those promises lasted until the temperature dropped and I could no longer take pictures outside. You were probably all relieved anyway. This is not a fashion blog. (As evidenced by the existence of this “white” robe.)

Although the capsule fascination faded from my homepage, the wardrobe lived on, and a year later, my closet is just as empty as that first fall afternoon when I dumped all it’s contents onto my bed and started stuffing unwanted items into plastic bins and bags.

Keeping a small wardrobe has been easy and amazingly, I never got tired of having fewer options. Here’s a few things a learned after a year of a capsule wardrobe.

awesome sweater
Clearly I’ve mastered the fashion blogger pose and drunk at 11 a.m. facial expression.
  1. It’s not about rules. I stopped counting the exact number of pieces, my goal is to keep my wardrobe small, only add pieces I truly love on a seasonal basis and purge anything I don’t love or haven’t worn, every time I switch out clothes for different seasons.
  2.  I don’t force myself to make a decision about every piece I own right away. Knowing I have some leeway makes it less stressful for me.I keep some items I’m unsure about tucked out of the way. Usually, I wind up not wearing said pieces, and they get donated, but occasionally, I discover a new use and I put them into full time rotation. For example, I was gifted a scarf but it didn’t seem to go with anything in my capsule. I felt guilty getting rid of it right away, so I tucked it off to the side of my closet. But then later I was gifted a pair of boots that looked really nice with that scarf so I wound up wearing the two things together frequently last winter.
  3. Getting dressed requires almost no thought. I can easily see everything in my closet at a glance and as most of it goes together, I can reach in, pull out a few things and get on with my day. (The only snag is if I don’t keep on top of my laundry and half of my capsule is in the basement, 1/4 on the floor of my bedroom and 1/4 in my closet. But that falls within the realm of poor housekeeping, not fashion so we’ll save it for another post.)
  4. Shopping for myself is much easier. This was something I picked up on from the start, and my feelings have remained the same. Fewer wardrobe items means I can visualize most things when I’m out shopping and know instantly whether or not the item I’m considering  will go with anything I already own.
  5. Despite fewer choices, I still get compliments on how I’m dressed, which leads me to believe either I know a lot of liars OR it’s possible to look good with a small wardrobe and a small budget.


sweater weather
The sweater built for two.

This fall my capsule includes two of these massive ridiculously printed blanket sweater coat things. (The one pictured above is from Target.) I also bought a hat because I’m still recovering from the regrettable summer bob decision. I feel like I should know better than trying to rock this young bohemian look but man, it is so comfy. The older kids are embarrassed that their mother is wearing what, by all intents and purposes, resembles an Oriental rug, out in public.

Who else is still riding the capsule wardrobe bandwagon? Any additional lessons to impart upon the rest of us or favorite fall pieces? 



  1. I am loving that blanket-sweater-Oriental rug thing you’ve got going!! I would so totally wear that everywhere. It looks awesome and sooo comfy!!

    I jumped on the capsule wardrobe bandwagon last spring, which was an awesome way to simplify before a big move to a new state. I discovered that as much as I enjoyed some clothes, I really didn’t need to keep that awesome purple dress I had been wearing consistently for 8 years, ya know?

    This fall, some of my friends and I are following Leah Darrow’s example and taking this to the extreme with “The Closet Challenge.” So, for the month of October, my friends and I have restricted ourselves to 7 wardrobe items (not including underwear, workout clothes, accessories, or PJs). I have been absolutely loving the simplicity, and getting the most variety out of my outfits is helping me get more creative with accessorizing (one word: scarves. Lots of scarves). I’ve found it fairly easy, because don’t really wear pants (the one pair of pants I own are like a comfy pant-gaucho hybrid-I do wear those quite a bit), so I just picked 3 skirts, 3 shirts that go with all of the skirts, and one dress. And I rarely, rarely wash my skirts (they don’t really get dirty ever), so laundry hasn’t been an issue at all!

  2. I have wanted to jump on the bandwagon but never found the time to actually figure out what a capsule wardrobe is. Thanks to your post, I realize that I have been doing this already. Living in a very small house, it came out of necessity. My closet is 2.5 ft wide and is shared with my husband, my son, and long term storage. I don’t have a dresser, so my foldable clothes are kept under the bed in a Christmas ornament Rubbermaid like container. My rule is if I don’t use it in six months, it’s gone. I also try to pick two things that I like but want to donate for someone else to enjoy. Having four seasons helps, at least once I start to get tired of clothes, it’s time to switch wardrobes.

    1. Yes, exactly! We have these ridiculous Victorian closets (all two of them) so I can’t let my wardrobe spiral out–there is literally no where to go with it with four kids and a husband. I also have four seasons and need to rotate clothing to keep it seasonally appropriate, plus I’ve noticed over time that I tend to wear different things/colors at different times of year (as in, I tend to wear separates and dark colors in winter, and dresses in brighter tones in summer; fall and spring are in between)

  3. I’ve been wanting to do this, but I’ve had a bit of a struggle, since I’m trying to lose weight. I’ve got my skinny pants, my not-so-skinny pants, and the pants that currently fit. And I don’t want to get rid of anything, because who knows what will fit in a month?

    So, I’ve tried paring down, but that means I have a giant rubbermaid bin of clothes I might fit in to someday that I can’t bear to get rid of. Progress?

    I have grand plans to get to my goal weight and then pare down – but by the time that happens, I’ll probably be married and pregnant. Clothes are hard! 🙁

  4. I started doing Project 333 this summer and it has really helped me. I like having a numeric target (I’m a list maker) and being able to rotate clothes every three months is great. I also find that being strict(ish) with the rotation helps me to be creative with the clothing I do have out.

    It also helps me to stay on track with my garment sewing (I make a lot of my clothes) so I don’t end up making the sewing equivalent of fast fashion and end up with a closet full of stuff I don’t wear or like much.

    My current clothing crisis is a good (??) problem to have: I’m losing weight (finally! lots of hard work involved) and I’m having a hard time fitting into my fall wardrobe rotation–my skirts are all getting too big, even ones I made in September during the Papal visit sewathon when I couldn’t leave my house for five days. (When in doubt, sew something) Now I need to decide which me-made pieces are good enough to alter to my new shape, and which ones just need to go. Decisions, decisions.

    But yes, the smaller capsule is helpful, I find it easier to shop for things, because my clothing needs have gotten so specific (I need a different length of navy blue cardigan in a cotton-wool blend) and I’m willing to shop around to find the specific item. That said, I still have my magpie tendencies, and still have to be careful not to buy or make things just because they sing to me.

  5. While I haven’t jumped on the capsule wardrobe thingy, I am embracing the KonMari method. Both my husband and I have done our (joint) closet and it’s amazing how much easier it is to get dressed. Our drawers are tidy and look nice. My sister and I did all the bed linens and towels at the shared cottage this summer and now have a system for managing six bedrooms with different sized beds. I’m about to start on our linen closet at home.

    I’m also part way through a weightloss journey so am trying not to buy anything until I get to my goal weight, but tidying up and purging the Kondo way made me realise that I don’t really need anything at the moment. Bonus.

    And let me chime in that I also love your blanket wrap.

  6. I’ve been wanting to do a capsule for awhile now and after seeing your post, I think I’m going to do it! I spend way too much time looking at my closet wondering what I will wear.

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