In the spirit of our Journey Book Club Discussion on The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up earlier this week, I wanted to share about my own capsule wardrobe as well as tips to help you start your own, too.
What we wear can often be overlooked or undervalued when it comes to spirituality, and it’s true—part of the spiritual journey is about releasing unhealthy attachments to material items. But it’s also true that dressing ourselves can be a creative endeavor, and cultivating a spirit of creativity always leads us closer to the Creator, whom we are forever called to join in co-creation.
As co-creators we’re always soul-creators, infusing meaning into whatever we pursue. This time, the medium just happens to be apparel (which is one of the main ways we present ourselves to the world, by the way). Perhaps that’s why I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe so much. In a way, it seems like an external expression of the internal process of cultivating the true self, setting aside elements of the false self that hinder creativity, dampen joy, and disconnect us from the Sacred which we seek.
You won’t find “capsule wardrobe” in the dictionary just yet, but I define a capsule wardrobe as a minimalist wardrobe that is carefully curated, easily coordinates, and forever sparks joy. If you’re as intrigued by the process as I am, here are 5 tips to get you started that have helped me along the way:
1. start where you are
As Marie Kondo taught us in our recent Journey Book Club selection, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, before we organize anything, we need to start by purging what we’ve got. In fact, the KonMari method of tidying up begins with clothes, encouraging practitioners to get out every item of apparel and accessories they own (including coats, shoes, and bags), taking each item in their hands (Marie considers this step to be essential), and keeping only the items that spark joy.
As you sort through your own wardrobe, there will be instant responses of “yes!’ and “no.” Those are the easy decisions. If you’re like me, however, there will also be many “maybes.” More often than not, these are items that sparked joy at one time but only get worn now because I feel like I should wear them (a sign that they don’t spark joy, no doubt!). Since I know I don’t love wearing these items but am also not ready to part with them just yet, I box them up and put them in the attic or the back of my closet. If the season passes and I haven’t reached for the box once, it’s time to get rid of them permanently—bonus points if I don’t even look inside! (PS: Ways to dispose of your clothing responsibly, including options for selling, donating, and recycling).
2. identify your (life)style
Now that your wardrobe has been whittled down to a fraction of its size (we’re going for minimalism here, remember?), look at the items that remain. If you’ve chosen to hang onto only items that spark joy, it’s likely that your newly minimized wardrobe matches your personality (if it doesn’t, take a look again and see if any “should” items are lingering). The next thing to consider is if the items that remain match your lifestyle.
If you work in an office with a strict dress code, it’s likely you’ll have more business attire in your capsule wardrobe than others. If you’re someone who is always on the go, you might gravitate toward a more comfortable wardrobe from head to toe. Since I work from home, I only need to dress up on rare occasions, so I don’t need a collection of dress clothes or heels. That doesn’t mean I don’t have nicer items, however—it just means that my nice items match my lifestyle. Once you are clear on your style and lifestyle needs, take away the items that no longer belong. You’ll soon find that you won’t be missing them—I promise.
3. determine your color palette
Determining your color palette isn’t necessarily a new idea—fashion magazines have offered quizzes on whether you’re a “fall” or “spring” for decades. And it’s not something every capsule wardrobe enthusiast lives by. However, this step has by far been the greatest influencer for my own capsule wardrobe. Following a color palette has helped to ensure that I feel put together in everything I own, have endless outfit combinations, and spend far less on clothes that aren’t the right color that I might have bought otherwise.
The good news is you don’t have to start from scratch on a color palette—you’ll find it waiting for you already in the clothing items that spark joy. Look at the items that remain in your wardrobe and take note of recurring colors and themes, noticing the colors you’re most often drawn to and which shades pair well together. Once you’ve settled on a particular palette, set aside the items that don’t fit within the scheme—at least for a season—to find out if, like me, having a color palette becomes the greatest tool for your capsule wardrobe, too.
4. become a curator
After you’ve minimized your current wardrobe, identifying your (life)style and determining a palette, let your new discoveries become your guide. Use these guides as you continue to cultivate your capsule wardrobe, removing pieces that don’t fit and adding pieces that do with thoughtfulness and intention. Pinterest is a great tool for this, allowing you to collect looks you admire and items you are drawn to along the way. When it comes time to make an addition to your capsule wardrobe, consult your Pinterest board to see what you need so you know just what you’re looking for when it comes time to shop and you’re tempted by sales and shiny things. (I’ve used Pinterest religiously as I’ve cultivated my own capsule wardrobe over the past year. View my Pinterest board here. You’ll definitely notice some themes!)
5. stick with it
Now it’s time to get serious and stick with it. Commit to wearing only items from your capsule wardrobe for at least a season, getting creative with your outfits, carefully curating any new additions, and continuing to notice how your days impact what you wear and how what you wear impacts your days. As you continue to learn more about what belongs in your capsule wardrobe, keep setting aside the pieces that don’t fit. In a way you’re just like Michelangelo carving a marble statue, removing the excess in order to let the true form shine.
one more thing…
It is important to remember that seasons change, and so will you. Sizes change, styles change, desires change, and needs change. The capsule wardrobe isn’t meant to be an end-all be-all, but instead a framework to guide you and support you along the way. And, as with any beautiful and thought-out collection, curation takes time.
Do the clothes you wear spark joy and reflect your style and personality? What would be in your capsule wardrobe? What would you take a way?