No, not a capsule wardrobe, although I do like that concept too. But something smaller and simpler and higher quality than a typical American closet stuffed with polyester. I had to laugh when I found a post describing someone’s “accidental capsule wardrobe,” forced upon them through the constant figure changes of several pregnancies. That’s pretty much how it began with me. Who has time and money to create large separate wardrobes for winter pregnancy, summer pregnancy, winter postpartum, summer postpartum, winter normal, and summer normal? No books, blogs, or worksheets were needed.
So that is one way to attain a smaller wardrobe.
The other way is to be intentional. I have found when I stick to a few principles, the simple wardrobe just happens.
*Consider how you spend your time. One of the first books I read on how to dress instructed the reader to create a pie chart illustrating the amount of time spent on various life activities. Your wardrobe should reflect that chart. For instance, if you only spend 5% of your time working out, your wardrobe should not be 50% activewear. (Unless, of course, you’re like the girls in that YouTube.) My life is about 70% SAH mom-in-the-country, with maybe 30% social settings like shopping, dates, and church. Formal events, such as weddings, banquets, or concerts, only happen a couple times a year. I suspect this is a common ratio. I don’t need office wear and have I mentioned that I don’t work out?
*Estimate Cost-Per-Use. This is an excellent principle for shopping in general. Basically, spend more on what you use more, and less on what you don’t. I bought a really nice pair of tall leather boots years ago that felt like an extravagance at the time. But I wore them every time I went out during the winter (which is like six months long here) for years. The cost-per-wear dropped to way below that of many cheap shoes I owned. So use your splurges for things you see yourself using constantly, not the formal gown for a one-time event.
*Buy quality. It has been proven again and again that you will spend less in the long run when you buy quality. But not only that, it is so much more pleasant to own quality things. I would MUCH rather have three tees that I love, than 15 that are icky. One of the beauties of a small wardrobe is that it allows you to afford more quality than you would otherwise. I will warn you though, quality is hard to find in the clothing industry in America today. My commitment to it has ruled out about 95% of the mall.
*Major on just a few colors. Pick a couple neutrals and a few colors you know look good on you. The bulk of your wardrobe should be in this palette. This will focus your shopping and allow lots of mix-and-match for more options with fewer pieces. Another piece of advice I’ve heard is to have 1/3 of your tops to be the same color as your eyes.
*Buy only what you love. This makes shopping hard for me, as I’m pretty picky! By the time I figure in personal taste, figure flattery, color, quality, comfort (I’m big on this as I’m an HSP), size (I’m a petite) and modesty level there isn’t much left. Instant minimal wardrobe! And that does not even include cost in the equation. But we don’t need anyone to tell us that we feel so much better when we wear clothes that we love. And I never feel like I’ve wasted money.
*Do not succumb to the allure of the bargain. One of the wisest bits of fashion advice I ever heard was “Don’t ever buy anything just because it is a good deal. You should like it enough that you would pay full price if it were not on sale.” I was raised by bargain-hunters and good deals defined my clothes-shopping for the first half of my adulthood. All it got me was a closet full of clothes that did nothing for me. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get a good deal, just don’t let that be the decision-maker.
I would love to hear what others have learned in the wardrobe department. I’m also always interested in hearing where people get clothing that they love.
Great tips! I’m slowly learning how to choose clothes that I love to wear. I have several friends who pass along bags of beautiful clothes from time to time and for a long time I would just take them all without thinking about whether they suited my lifestyle. I’m learning how to say no (even to free stuff!) and just that ability to know what I DON’T want frees me to be able to see what I do want.
Hedy, I still love this post, and link to it from my blog!
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