If you’ve dabbled into minimalism then you’ve probably heard of a capsule wardrobe. Or you’ve seen the photos. Two pairs of jeans. Two sweaters. Two t-shirts. Everything is black, gray, and white. While that definitely can be one version of a capsule wardrobe. it doesn’t have to be yours. Broken down, a capsule wardrobe is a smaller wardrobe made up of clothes that complement each other. Think about it this way. What if you opened up your closet and everything matched? Each item was in a color that looked good on you. And fit well. Sounds pretty good, right? Now, you don’t have to call your wardrobe a capsule wardrobe, but I think we should all aim for functionality, quality, and interchangeability when it comes to picking out new clothes for our closets.
Before we get started, let’s go back and make sure you properly decluttered your closet first for your new capsule wardrobe. Here’s a quick checklist to get started.
- Anything that no longer fits.
- Any item that doesn’t match the other items in your closet.
- Anything you haven’t worn in a year.
Now you’re ready for the next step!
Capsule Wardrobe: 5 Questions to Ask Before Buying New Clothes
1. Do I own three items in my closet that will match this new piece?
In the 5th grade, I instantly fell in love with a rainbow-striped button-up shirt that I saw in the store. I was convinced that the shirt was going to change my life. It was like Joseph’s cloak of many colors and I knew I had to have it. Problem is, it didn’t match anything in my closet other than a pair of jeans. So I rarely wore it. Don’t get me wrong, it gave me a special thrill when I opened my closet and looked at it but it barely saw the light of day. How many pieces of clothing like my rainbow shirt do we have sitting in our closets as adults today?
We love them, but they are not practical. They simply do not match anything else and end up collecting dust in our closet or finding their way to a donation pile years later.
Next time you online shop, check your closet and find at least three other items that will match this new piece. If you’re shopping in a store, take a quick snapshot of your closet to reference before you head out the door. Also, you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you choose mostly neutral clothes that can create more outfits and fewer lonely clothes hanging in our closets.
2. Do I already own shoes that match?
It’s important to make sure you already have shoes that will match any new piece of clothing you bring into your home, especially when buying a dress.
Before making a purchase, head to your closet and find at least one pair of shoes you will be able to wear with it. If not, you might find yourself buying a new pair of shoes to match and that’s how our closets quickly become cluttered again.
Most of the shoes I buy now are tan color because they are almost guaranteed to match any outfit. They are a staple in any functional capsule wardrobe.
3. Is it high maintenance?
I used to work in government where I was required to wear a suit or something similar every day. My closet was full of dry-clean-only jackets, silk button-up shirts, and linen dress pants. And during that stage of my life that worked. We had a dry cleaner in the basement of my office and it was super easy to drop off and pick up my clothes. It was also surprisingly cheap!
But when I transitioned to working from home, and then later a stay-at-home mom, these clothes became impractical for my lifestyle. I didn’t live anywhere near a dry cleaner and I avoided my dry-clean-only clothes like a toddler avoids bedtime. Slowly, I sold or donated them all to friends. I began buying only clothes I could wash at home in my own laundry room.
If you live a life where silk, cashmere, and linen work for your lifestyle, then by all means continue to buy those. They are quality materials! But if they don’t fit, then check the label of the next sweater you buy. How often do you want to drive to the dry cleaner or ruin your favorite shirt by accidentally washing it the wrong way at home?
Items that require constant dry cleaning or ironing likely won’t get worn as much and therefore, are more likely to become closet clutter as well.
4. Do I think I’ll wear it at least 20 times?
Quite frankly, good clothes we should be wearing way more than 20 times but if you don’t think you’ll wear an item anywhere near that then it’s probably not a good investment. I used to struggle with this when I had a big event coming up. Years ago when I had a wedding or a banquet for work I felt like I had to buy a new dress for the occasion. And not just any dress, but a fancy, rather impractical dress that I’d only end up wearing to that one event. Next time you feel the same check your closet first and see if there is anything you can make work. I’d be willing to bet there is. If not, consider borrowing from a friend and offering them the same access to your closet in the future.
For more information on picking out the right pieces, check out Project 33, a minimalist fashion challenge on creating a capsule wardrobe.
5. Are you comfortable wearing it?
We all have those items in our closets we think we love but never end up wearing because, quite frankly, they are uncomfortable. That dress that is too tight or too short. That shirt that shows your bra straps. That polyester blouse that makes you sweat. Next time you go shopping, look at the item of clothing with a discerning eye for these classic warning signs. Even if you do buy a piece you end up wearing sometimes, you won’t feel confident wearing it because of that uncomfortable factor. And clothes SHOULD make you feel confident.
Is there anything you would add? I’d love to know below!
Lastly, don’t forget to grab my guide “Minimalism for Beginners” if you’re ready to create and maintain a clutter-free home for good!