My (NOT) Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe

posted by Andrea | 05/4/2018
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Over the past 5-6 years, I have gotten a ridiculous number of questions about capsule wardrobes:

  • Do I have a capsule wardrobe?
  • Would I recommend one?
  • How would someone go about creating their own capsule wardrobe?
  • What staple items of clothing would I recommend?
  • And the list goes on….

I usually bypass answering most of these questions by simply stating something like, “I don’t have a capsule wardrobe, but I think the concept is really fabulous. Be sure to check Pinterest for more ideas to create your own capsule wardrobe.”

Sometimes, I’ll also send them a link to the Mix ‘n Match Wardrobe Post I wrote 4 years ago or the 6 Reasons A Capsule Wardrobe Might Not Work for You post I wrote 3 years ago — they seems to be satisfied with those answers!

HOWEVER, over the past 3-4 years, I’ve done a major wardrobe overhaul… and I realized I DO actually have somewhat of a “Capsule Wardrobe” — it’s just a really BIG Capsule Wardrobe!

(the photo above is every item of clothing Dave and I own… minus the underwear, PJ’s, and workout clothing we keep in our dresser)

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As I’ve mentioned before, I’m most definitely NOT a minimalist in any area of my life — except maybe my schedule!

I like decorations in my home, I like cute things sitting on the counters, I like displaying my kid’s artwork on our magnetic walls, I like having a large number of toys and games for the kids to enjoy every day, and I like having several different options for clothing each day (especially with the constantly changing weather here in Michigan.)

That said, when it comes to what I wear, I NEED to keep things simplified and streamlined, otherwise I struggle from decision fatigue and just end up wearing the same 3 or 4 things over and over and over again — which defeats the purpose of buying clothing in the first place!

So, like I mentioned earlier, my wardrobe is FAR from “minimalist” but it IS somewhat of a capsule wardrobe by definition.

What is a Capsule Wardrobe anyway?

According to Wikipedia, a Capsule Wardrobe refers to:

“a collection of clothing that is composed of interchangeable items only, to maximize the number of outfits that can be created.”

In my opinion, I have that definition of a Capsule Wardrobe… because 99% of my clothing is interchangeable, which greatly maximizes the number of outfits I can create — especially considering I have a fair number of pieces in my wardrobe to begin with!

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Let me explain:

  • Almost every single item in my closet is black, grey, white, navy, cream, or magenta/dark pink
  • I don’t buy anything if it’s not one of those colors
  • I buy mostly solid prints (especially for the bottoms) so I don’t have to worry about clashing
  • I know what brands fit me best and what size I am, so ordering online is a breeze (especially since I usually shop second-hand online)
  • I no longer own any red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, dark tan, or brown
  • I have 2 purplish items, but one is almost grey and the other is almost magenta, so they still work
  • I have a few colorful scarves and necklaces to brighten up my mainly black and grey outfits
  • I can get by with only a few pairs of shoes since I wear coordinating colors
  • My grey winter coat and boots and my black flip flops go with almost everything I wear

If you think this sounds very boring — I completely understand. 

HOWEVER, I promise you that I never get bored of wearing these colors because I feel great in these colors. Also, as you’ll read below, I have enough items in my closet that I really can wear SO many different outfit combos that I don’t have a chance to get bored.

As a real-life example, I went back through my photos from last week, all the way back to when Clara was born and pulled out all the pictures of me. Even without planning what I was wearing or thinking about the possibility of this upcoming post, you can see I ALWAYS wear the same colors, but rarely the same exact outfit.

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Several months ago, I purged ALL my maternity clothing (hallelujah!), all the “slightly too big” items I wear for the first couple of months after I deliver, and anything that didn’t look and feel really great on my new mother-of-four body shape.

At that time, I also  altered several pieces of clothing to work better for me now — shortening outdated pants into capris or Bermuda shorts, slimming down tops that are now too big for me, hemming skirts and dresses that weren’t really long enough to be maxi length but now look cute as a shorter style, and cutting up several of my sweatshirts for a more updated look.

I updated 15 items of clothing that didn’t flatter me or work with the current styles… and now they all fit again and I have significantly more clothing options!

So fun!

Then, about a month ago (after finally losing the last of my baby weight) I decided it was time to add a few new pieces to my closet in preparation for spring. Plus, it had been a REALLY long time since I purchased anything “new” for myself.

I say “new” because every single item I purchased for myself was actually used!

I found a handful of items on Swap.com and Thredup, and I made out like a bandit at a local thrift store over spring break! They had a sale where every item of clothing was $1… and I walked out with 20 new-to-me items for spring and summer… yes, for $20 total!!!!

 

Currently, my wardrobe is larger than it’s been in a very long time — but when you get cute, brand name clothing for $1 a piece, it’s really hard to turn them down!

Plus, after altering so many of the items I already owned, I truly feel like I have a brand new wardrobe for right around $50 (the cost of the clothing from the thrift store, Swap, and Thredup).

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In the interest of time, I will NOT share pictures of every different outfit — but it’s safe to say I have hundreds and hundreds of different combinations based on the tops and bottoms I currently own.

Here are a bunch of my pants, capris, skirts, shorts, and workout pants.

These are the majority of my sweatshirts, sweaters, and t-shirts.

Here are a few of my many cardigans, hoodies, and jackets.

These are some of my favorite three-quarter sleeve and short sleeve tops.

These are my favorite sleeveless tops.

Some of my dresses for spring.

My most-worn accessories.

And the majority of my footwear.

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As I mentioned above, every single item I purchased for myself this spring (and every single item pictured above – minus 1 hoodie) was purchased USED! 

These are things I paid $1, $3, or maybe $8 for from second hand stores, thrift shops, and online garage sales — and I truly didn’t spend more than $50 total on everything I purchased to update my wardrobe this spring (roughly 30 items total).

I know thrift shopping won’t work for ever body type or every demographic area, but I’m convinced that one of the main reasons I’ve been able to do so much thrift shopping over the past 3-4 years is because I’ve created a form of a capsule wardrobe for myself — even though it’s NOT minimalist in anyway. 

And speaking of not being minimalist… I know several of you will ask, so I did a quick count and listed out the different types of clothing I have below, along with how many of each item I have.

Jeans :: 3 (light, medium, dark — all skinny-leg jeggings)

Other Pants :: 3 (black, maroon, grey — all skinny jeans)

Athletic Pants :: 3 (2 black, 1 grey)

Capris :: 3 (white, jean, pink)

Shorts :: 4 (pink, jean, navy, light khaki)

Athletic Shorts :: 2

Long Skirts :: 3

Short Skirts :: 5

Dresses :: 4 (white, black, jean, pink/navy)

T-shirts :: 12

Tanks :: 8

Dressier shirts :: 12

Sweaters :: 7

Sweatshirts :: 6

Cardigans :: 14 (I wear these daily, year round!)

Belts :: 2

Scarves :: 12

Shoes :: 3 athletic, 6 casual, 2 dress

Sandals :: 2 flip flop, 2 dress

Boots :: 1 winter, 1 rain, 2 dress

See… told you I wasn’t a minimalist!

I certainly have many option to choose from these days — definitely no more wondering “what to wear” because everything mixes and matches with everything else (well, almost everything else!)

I don’t plan to buy anything else for myself until fall, but it was fun to find so many thrift store deals over the past couple of months.

Oh, and I should mention that thanks to folding most of my t-shirts and sweaters, I’m still sticking to my self-imposed “rule” of 40 hangers or less! You can check my math, but I believe I’m at 38 right now! 🙂

If you have an ultra-minimalistic capsule wardrobe, I think that is fantastic. There have been so many times in my life when I think how fun and freeing it would be if I could have so few items in my closet.

However,  as I shared a few years ago, there are many reasons a true minimalist capsule wardrobe will not work for me — and I’m OK with that.

My current goals for my wardrobe are…

  1. To feel great in what I wear.
  2. To have practical, kid-friendly, yet cute options for all the crazy weather we experience in West Michigan.
  3. To have almost exclusively mix and match pieces.
  4. To have a decluttered closet with plenty of room to ‘breathe”.
  5. To do it all without spending an exorbitant about of money.

So far, I have definitely accomplished these 5 goals… and I’m thrilled with the results!

I’d love to know… what are YOUR goals for YOUR wardrobe?

If you’ve never thought about this before, now is a perfect time of year to do it!

Take a few moments to think through the types, styles, colors, and fabrics you love wearing and feel great in. Then, remove everything else. You don’t even need to purge it completely; just remove it from your closet for the time being so you can experience what it feels like to ONLY have things you love and feel great wearing staring back at you when you go to get dressed!

I guarantee it will be more fun to get up and get ready in the morning! 

Filed under: OrganizingHomeClothesPurging

 
 

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25 comments

  1. Shan

    05/07/2018

    Andrea, Let me list a 6th goal you have also accomplished: to look great in pictures you post on your blog 🙂 Love how you go with what works for you. LOVE all the ideas you shared with us today.
    (Grandma)Shan

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  2. Rhonda

    05/07/2018

    I sure hope ThredUp is still around when my girls are old enough to go to prom. I think most of the dresses I see worn for prom now cost more than my JCrew wedding dress!

    My goal is to keep purging and renewing like I’ve been doing. I also use a stylist to help select pieces that are classic and go well together (TrunkClub by Nordstrom).

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  3. Trina

    05/06/2018

    Andrea, I loved this post. I’ve followed you for a long time and watched your style morph over the years. I lwas fascinated by your post, and have often referred to it, after you worked with a stylist. I liked how she made you think about your preferences, fit, feel, color. It got me thinking too. After working with her, I really admired the updates to your style. Recently, I noticed your color palette change and realized I’ve been doing similar, although with a different palette.i can’t tell you how many times you’ve inspired me to make a change. I’ve adopted many of your systems. Often, they were things I didn’t think of as needing a system on until you shared yours, and once I adopted them I couldn’t imagine how I’d lived without for so long! I so enjoy sharing your journey and have come to know and love your family. I hope you keep sharing your corner of the internet!

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  4. Jennifer

    05/05/2018

    Looks like we love the same colors! I too don’t want a minimalist wardrobe— things wear out or get dirty and I like to have back up clothes . I think I need to start removing all the brown clothes I have and just stick with black and gray as base colors like you since they really are better on me. Removing “wrong “ colors seems like a good way to start purging.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes! about a year ago, I purged ALL my brown, dark tan, green, orange, and yellow colors. It was So freeing! Even if I liked the piece, I just purged it because I knew I didn’t have anything to wear it with.

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  5. Jenny

    05/04/2018

    You look great! That’s what counts, besides comfort, of course. I do think you would look wonderful in a medium blue, too, and it would go with all your stuff! You look really nice in the denim dress, for instance! Did you explain how you came up with your colors, if there was a method to it? Remember when everyone had to be a spring, summer, fall, or winter? Did you do something like that?

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  6. Debbie

    05/04/2018

    I was inspired by your clothing posts to take a look at my closet. I found that I gravitate towards black, white, grey, anything striped(!), red/hot pink, blue and mint green. Hmmm, that’s a lot of colors. But I know what I like and pretty much a lot of my wardrobe goes together. So, thanks for your great posts!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yay!!! well, you know not to bother with yellow, orange, purple, brown, tan, etc. so that’s something!

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  7. Leigh

    05/04/2018

    My goal is that is that everything is something I’m excited to wear that fits me now. And ideally has pockets.

    Where are your grey booties from. They look perfect.

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    Andrea Reply:

    ah yes — pockets are amazing!
    the grey booties were from Kohl’s on a Cyber Monday sale. I do really like them (they have “cloud sole technology” and are super comfy) and get lots of compliments on them!

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  8. Rachel

    05/04/2018

    I love the idea of thrift store shopping but I’m fairly tall with broad shoulders. I struggle to find pants and shirts that are long enough even in regular stores let alone at thrift stores. I am convinced that people my size are rare and also never get rid of clothes because they are so hard to find in the first place! 🙂 (I do find lots for my kids though)

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha!! yes, rare (in a good way!)
    I have very short legs, but since I can sew, I can usually alter longer pants to make them work for me — that won’t really work in your case though!

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  9. Bonnie'sMama

    05/04/2018

    For some reason, Andrea, it tickles me that you have mostly sober colors in your wardrobe, but then your other color is hot pink. I think of you as so thoughtful and productive and let’s-accomplish-things-today, and then here’s all this frivolous pink showing up.

    I love how you’ve structured your wardrobe–solid bottoms, definite color scheme–but I’m not sure I could restrict myself that much. I love deep, rich colors, and I love florals right now. But I have a bad habit of buying too many patterned tops and bottoms, and then nothing really goes together. So I will mull over your wardrobe structure and see how I can make mine more functional, not that 5 1/2 months pregnant is an optimal time to try to have a decent wardrobe.

    Funny thing–I was sitting here being amused about your color scheme, when I looked down at my outfit, which is white, black, gray . . . and hot pink.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha! yes! thoughtful, productive, let’s accomplish things today… all in bright pink!

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  10. Meghan

    05/04/2018

    Those are great color choices, but I’m the opposite with my wardrobe. I struggle to find things to wear if I’m bored with my clothes and they don’t match the mood I’m in. I love tons of color and prints. Right now I’m into big florals. I do a lot of mix and matching with pants/ skirts/ jackets/ sweaters. My work/ going out wardrobe is great, but it’s at the expense of my casual wardrobe. That’s where I’m really lacking. A lot of my work wardrobe could be used for casual, but they are somewhat pricey pieces (not designer by any means. But around $40 per shirt/ sweater) that I think show wear if worn and washed often. I should try to find a thrift store like yours.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I’m sure you are MUCH more “in style” than I am — I see big florals all over the place. I think that’s what I “can’t” do though — trends. I finally catch onto a trend just when it’s fading out and then my clothes are dated already.
    So I just stick with the basics and that seems to work well for ME!
    Oh, and you should definitely check out thrift stores for casual clothing. Just go without kids the first time so you have time to browse!

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  11. Kimberley

    05/04/2018

    This is a fantastic idea…I am going to go home and look at my wardrobe this evening and try to follow the same logic. I have mostly black, white and gray clothes but I love the idea of only going with one other color to mix and match better! It will make my life so much more simple. I am terrible at accessorizing so hopefully having a more strict color scheme will help with that. Thanks for sharing!

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    Alicia Reply:

    I’m terrible at accessorizing, too! I have to force myself to remember to do it, because I think it does really help complete the outfit – even something as simple as a scarf! But typically I’m just a jeans a tshirt kind of girl. 🙂

    I’m not minimalist or capsule with my clothing either…I do tend to wear the same thing over and over again, and I definitely go through phases of wearing the same things. It depends on my mood and how I’m feeling with my body! I also buy multiple of different colors when i find something I really like that works with my body!

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    Andrea Reply:

    hopefully this helps you a bit — but don’t feel bad if my tips don’t work for you. I know this type of wardrobe won’t work for everyone!

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  12. Jessica

    05/04/2018

    I like how thrifty and practical you are. I don’t think that a small wardrobe is for everyone, and it’s nice to see you comfortable with more things in your life if that’s what you prefer.
    Have you heard about Dressing Your Truth by Carol Tuttle? It’s so much more than just “learning” how to dress yourself. It’s changing my life and how I relate to others.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jessica. No, I haven’t read that book — I’ll have to look into though!

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    Jenny Reply:

    I just took a look at that, and it looks to be pretty much like “Missus Smarty-Pants” (MSP, affiliated with FlyLady) with categorizing everyone as one fo 4 or 5 body types, etc.

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    Andrea Reply:

    hmmm… I’ve never heard of this before — I might need to Google it!

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  13. Jen @ Bookish Family

    05/04/2018

    I think the point is that you’ve got to know yourself and what you want to achieve and that is definitely one of your strengths, Andrea.

    As for me, my wardrobe needs to fit easily into the space I have set for it, be super easy to care for, make me feel good when I wear it. My wardrobe is more minimalist but NOT a capsule. I like wearing crazy patterns and tie-dye and I don’t mind wearing the same outfits I love over and over!

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    Andrea Reply:

    YES! Great comment — this is exactly what I feel too. Everyone’s wardrobe needs and wants are different based on their body type, their lifestyle, their financial position, etc. — the point is to figure out what works for you… and then DO THAT!

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