Monday, November 10, 2014

Getting Real About Capsule Wardrobes...As A Mom

I've been on the fence about this whole Capsule Wardrobe phenomenon for a while now, but I'm here to report I cleaned out my closet and have a rundown of why it's a pretty common sense approach that most of us regular gals are almost practicing without even knowing it, and a couple perks to giving it a more whole-hearted go.

There has been a recent trend in fashion blogging and the online world in general towards capsule wardrobes; otherwise known as the general idea of paring down your closet to a select number of items, usually between 30-40, for a select time period or season (the forerunner of this idea is the amazingly fashionable and beautiful Caroline -- who's blog is a treat). After the cull of the closet the advantage comes in going out and buying actual useful pieces of clothing that can be worn with everything in your current "capsule".

I don't want to sound like a capsule hater, but in reading about it and reading about it and reading about it made me feel as if this were a common sense idea being blown truly out of proportion. I mean, I'm not a fashion blogger who gets heaps of free designer clothes.  I don't have the time and money to be buying lots of clothes no matter how much I love them. I've been pregnant for 45 months out of the past seven years, haven't lost any amount of weight that I'd prefer, and am really short, so my body cannot be easily thrown into whatever's currently on trend. I'm also a stay-at-home mom who loves looking good and wouldn't be caught dead wearing sweats in the grocery store, but also has no qualms whatsoever only wearing yoga pants and a t-shirt if I'm not leaving the house that day. With all that in mind I encountered the capsule phenomenon with such thoughts as, "Ooooo, how mind blowing -- dressing with only a few select items for more than a week!" or "Really, a trend that wants to make me get rid of the small sampling of clothes I do have?! Why?! Why?!"

the final cut or "capsule"

But, I needed to clean my closet last week so I thought, "Fine, I can do this capsule thing." I cleaned, pruned, and organized my closet and here's what realized while doing it and why you probably are like me, and are already basically wearing a "capsule wardrobe":

1. You Wear Clothes Seasonally

We'd all love to have the problem of living in California, but most of us live with some type of seasonal change. Even if we don't, it's really nice to dress seasonally to feel on-point fashion-wise and to change things up. So I'm guessing that most of us have seasonal clothing we only wear in a season or possibly two. Here in Canada my seasons are sharply defined. Which helps me out because I am a little OCD when it comes to dressing seasonally. This change of seasons already knocks down the number of clothing items we're currently wearing, so you might already be in a smaller capsule of your complete clothing accumulation.

As I cleaned out my closet and started to purposefully pick what I wanted to wear for the next three months I widdled things down to the clothes I like wearing the most during the winter. The hardest choices I had to make were giving up the skirts and dresses. I have to face facts that although I like wearing skirts and tights I don't wear them anywhere but Mass; it's just too impractical loading 5 kids into the car or grocery shopping when it's -20 out in tights no matter how cute the dress is. I didn't give any dresses away, and I'll try to wear them to Mass when the weather isn't frigid, but I'm not counting them in amongst my daily 26 items of the capsule. If I were going through my spring/summer clothes it'd be more skirts and dresses than jeans and pants.

2. You're Pregnant, Postpartum, or a Stay-at-Home Mom

If you're a mom of any sort you've had to adjust your wardrobe accordingly. We hopefully have purged clothes that simply don't fit us anymore and gotten rid of the sorry reminders that our hips are forever changed by bringing life into the world - sorry junior-size pants.

I feel as though pregnancy is a natural capsule wardrobe because you can't wear too much -- hopefully you've bought some things you like that don't cause you physical pain so you can wear the heck out of them. Then, after you've been pregnant you want to burn said clothes because that's all you wore for months upon months. Boom. You've just become much closer to having a "minimalist" closet.

Postpartum should have a few nice pieces to make you feel alive, but you don't have the budget to go whole hog in the hopes that you'll continue shrinking. That's a capsule wardrobe right that. If you're a stay at home mom you don't need a plethora of work attire and yoga pants are extremely hardworking. You're down a couple more items. If you're still working outside the home, hopefully that's given you opportunity to have a nice smaller collection of work clothes and home clothes. Totally normal, totally capsule-d.

3. We're Not Fashion Bloggers 

I don't know about you but even with the internet I don't get to shop as much as I want. I still am completely prone to Old Navy sales and have too many t-shirts as my capsule clean out proved, but I know that in being a mom I simply have no spare currency of time for excess shopping.

Money is also a great minimalist wardrobe help. We just don't got the change to spend a la fashion blogger. We also aren't being handed free clothes from all the greatest stores, so we probably aren't having that terrible battle of picking which designer top is prettier than the other pretty and free designer top (let's all remember to say a prayer for those poor, suffering fashion bloggers). Our choices are fairly limited, which should mean that we're keeping only the things we love and wear, or you may be like me and have the smallest closet in the world and can only fit so much.

(All reasons that now make us the cool ones now that the Capsule Wardrobe is sweeping the nation -- who's laughing now, fashion bloggers?!)




Common sense and reality is what sums it all up. But there are some definite perks to cleaning out your closet and trying out this radical (or not) clothing lifestyle:

1. You Know What You've Got and What You Need

As I went through my closet I was merciless. Why was I keeping all these pants I hate? Why was I keeping a sweater from 4 years ago that I haven't worn at all and don't want to wear again? Why do I have 12 t-shirts that do nothing for the belly that has encapsulated 5 human beings?

If you're forced to be merciless you figure out what you love, what fits, and what's working. Everything else should be let go -- sorry jeans from 2 babies ago. By knowing what I've got I know what I should be looking for when and if I get time to shop, if I'm watching the online sales and when I see things come up that fit my budget. This helps a lot, and it frees you to shop without so much mental clutter of what you think you should have or by whatever mythical shopping standards come into our heads as soon as we enter the store. Kelly had some great shopping tips yesterday in her post.

2. You Better Curate Your Closet

It's actually really great to see everything you own spread out. You see your general colour combos, things that work together, things that stick out like sore thumbs. Is it worth keeping that one item that only works once in a blue moon for a function that happens annually? It really boosts your confidence seeing for yourself that you have made choices about what you wear and that it all works together as a whole, as your style. Again, this will help a lot in our shopping, and a lot in our daily dressing because it eliminates so much wasted stress and only adds feeling good about ourselves and what we're wearing. A win-win-win!

It also gives you the impetus to create your own style, wear what you love, and to go looking for what you need and want. These are all really great things. It also reminds us that we shouldn't be hoarding all these extra clothes that don't fit, don't work, or that we don't like. Kendra's great post about her closet was right on target with this idea.

3. Wear The Clothes You Actually Love

I realized I've got a lot of clothes that I love that I don't wear very often, partly in fear of ruining them with kid-gunk, partly because I forgot about them. I love wearing clothes that I love, that look pretty, that fit well, that work. But if motherhood has taught us anything it's that our bodies change; we only live once and who knows, maybe this will be the best our bodies will ever be. We might as well live it up now and enjoy wearing pretty clothes even if we're only going to the store or the library, and not somewhere fancy or being photographed and put on Pinterest. Like I said earlier, I have no shame in wearing yoga pants around the house when I'm not going anywhere, which ends up being almost half the time, the other half of the time I figure I'm leaving the house I might as well look great and feel good too.


my beloved two cardigans

When all was said and done I made some tough decisions, got rid of a large garbage bag full of worn out, ugly, non-fitting, or never worn clothes and felt like I lifted the small burden of what I'm going to wear from my shoulders. Here's how my choices shook out:

  • 4 pairs of jeans
  • 2 pairs black ponte pants
  • 1 pair of cords
  • 4 shirts (2 chambray, 1 plaid, 1 polka dot)
  • 2 jackets
  • 7 sweater/sweatshirts
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 2 cardigans (I'm the cardigan queen, it still pains me to write only 2, I may cave and have to add more.)
A grand total of 26. This of course doesn't include my shoes, accessories, what I wear at home, or other sundries. Mainly because I was exhausted coming up with this. I'm going to try to not buy anything for three months to see if I can survive on just these items, but if I do shop I want to make sure that it'll be something I need that will fit in with what's going on here in the capsule. I'm looking at it like a strange experiment, and I'll be curious to see how I do.

The hard part is done. I cleaned, made decisions, and have decided to stick with it for at least three months. We'll see how successful I am and if these undramatic decisions really impact my life or if it seems like I'm just chugging along like normal.

And there we have it, my honest account of the "capsule wardrobe". Have you jumped on the bandwagon? 

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  1. No, no capsule wardrobe for me here. Though seeing it all over the internet has made me want to seriously examine and purge my drawers and closet for the sake of paring down. I am bad for impulsively buying inexpensive things, which often means mis-matched outfits and cheap tshirts that break down or look crappy in a short amount of time. I should perhaps go through, store away what doesn't fit currently, and chuck the pilling, unflattering t's.

  2. Your jackets are really cute! I am with you on the yoga pants. I am no problem wearing them at home. They are comfortable and flattering, but when I leave the house I wear a dress or something that requires a belt.

  3. I did appreciate the encouragement to really dive in and just get rid of what didn't work. I think I'm almost a month in and I'm kind of surprised how much I don't miss that stuff.

    I'm definitely not a real-fashion-blogger-capsule-wardrober. I'll make a spring/summer out of mainly what's in my closet in a few months (just like this time - there was not shopping spree I just widdled down what I already had). I have found that it does help my impulse buys to have a set limit (by impulse buys I mean that #2 thing at the thrift store) - it's a lot easier to say "Don't need it" or "Cute, but doesn't go with what I have" when it's easier to remember what I do have. =)

    1. Yeah, it is way easier looking at a well thought out closet and picking an outfit out. Also throwing a top that has never been worn or worn once into the garbage bag is a painfully good reminder to not make impulse buys.

  4. Yes! This is super insightful, Christy. Also, your owl sweater is perfect.

  5. Great thoughts. I haven't even considered capsule-ing for the same reasons - seasonal, financial, nursing-wear, and clothes to fit a variety of my shapes and sizes during, after, and in between pregnancies :) keep my options already very limited.
    I liked your thoughts on it and appreciated the reminder to wear what you love! *Thanks*

  6. I've considered this whole capsule trend...even mentioned it to my husband that I was thinking about it, but now after reading your post, I'm even more interested. You have the most practical and insightful approach to this process that I've read. Thank you for making this seem more manageable for a stay-at-home mom of multiple kids.

  7. Wait. So what you're telling me is that my existing wardrobe is ALREADY a trendy capsule wardrobe? Suweeeeeeeeet. Maybe I should just go ahead and blog my closet...

  8. Such a great reflection on real life capsule wardrobe. You thoughts on waering what we really love and dressing nicly whenever we leave the house are really inspiring! Beautiful article, with lost of soul! That's why I looove your blog!

  9. You have so perfectly put to words exactly how I've been feeling about the capsule wardrobe! My wardrobe already is a capsule! I have one pair of jeans that fit, one pair of black pants, one pencil skirt... hah! The glories of babies. That said, I do have a lot of clothes taking up space in my closet and recently I stuffed a bunch into a thredUP back and others into the attic. I think about the clothes I buy far more now than I did in my days of expendable income and no kids. ;)

  10. So THAT'S what a capsule wardrobe is. I'm behind the trends. Always. But your'e right, it is a bit common sense, isn't it?

    I think I could adopt your wardrobe and be 100% content. Love your style.


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