Yesterday, I talked about why I decided to try a capsule wardrobe.
Bottom line: I was sick of wasting energy making decisions about mediocre clothes. I wanted to decrease the time and energy I spent shopping and getting ready in the morning, and to increase my enjoyment of my wardrobe and my ability to make more important decisions than what to wear.
Once I'd decided to take the plunge, the first thing I needed was to set a few rules. Of all the capsule wardrobe converts out there, everyone's rules are slightly different. Here are mine:
1. Keep the number of items in my wardrobe at or under 40 at all times.
When I talk about my capsule, people are most curious about how I count. I count tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes, outerwear and—as of Capsule #3—purses. I don't count pajamas, socks, underwear, scarves or jewelry, though I've recently made an effort to reduce the number of those things, too.
2. One capsule per season. Sort of.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve been planning and building my next wardrobe, which I’m calling Capsule #3. Before, I would have called it my spring capsule, but seasons are a funny thing here in Chicago. March temperatures could be in the negative twenties, the forties, or even the eighties. I envy capsule wardrobe converts in cities with more predictable weather, but I have to work with what I've got. This means I sometimes need a to make minor shifts to my capsule to smooth the transition from one season to the next. My current capsule is a winter-to-spring transitional wardrobe, so I made a few updates but expect to fully embrace spring with Capsule #4 in late March or early April.
3. Stick to a budget.
It took a bit of thought to find a budget that's small enough to challenge me but large enough to be able to afford quality pieces that I can wear year after year. The budget doesn't grow if I need to make a mid-season adjustment, so I have to spend it carefully. For bonus spending money, at the end of every season I sell items I don't feel are worth storing. Extra money made selling clothes means I can spend a bit more on my next capsule! I track my budget in the same spreadsheet as my wardrobe, and I hope to reduce my budget as time passes.
4. Shop infrequently.
To stop myself from shopping on impulse, I use a spreadsheet to map out my current capsule, and only allow myself to make purchases that are part of a shift to a new season and within budget. I probably won't need to buy more than 1-2 things for Capsule #4. I can trade for anything else I need from the off-season storage container in our basement.
And that's it! If the rules seem easy to bend, it's probably because they are. I'm still figuring out exactly what works for me, but with every season I find a bit more determination and self-restraint, and feel a lot more confident.
Tomorrow, I'll finally show you the goods: Capsule #3! But first, does anyone out there have a capsule of your own? Are your rules different? I’d love to hear what works for you! Or if you’ve never tried a capsule wardrobe, would you consider it?