what is a capsule wardrobe?

Capsule wardrobes are something I started getting serious about in 2017 and I have NEVER looked back. They’re better for the environment, better for the wallet, better for your personal style AND they’re amazing for your self esteem.

First things first. What is a capsule wardrobe, anyway? A capsule wardrobe is a collection of essential items that are classic and timeless in style. It refers to a collection of clothing that is comprised of interchangeable items to maximize the number of outfits that can be created. The general idea is to be mindful of your purchases and, if applicable, strive for quality over quantity. I adopt the 333 rule which means that I aim for 33 items of clothing per season (season=3 month period hence the 333). Items can include pants, tops, and shoes. If every single item in your closet doesn’t make you feel like a million bucks when you slip it on, a capsule wardrobe is for you.

So, how does one go about starting a capsule wardrobe?  I thought you’d never ask! Grab a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and let’s get to work! It all starts with a closet sweep!

Closet Sweep 101:

  1. Take everything out of your closets and drawers. Yes. Everything. Toss it all onto your bed.
  2. Start sorting your clothes into 3 piles: a keep pile, a donate pile and a maybe pile. Go with your gut here and try things on if necessary! Take every item of clothing that you’ve tossed onto your bed and put it into one of these three piles.
  3. Re-evaluate your maybe pile. Do you have 7 black sweaters in your keep pile and another 4 black sweaters in your maybe pile? Pick your 5 favorite black sweaters, add them to your keep pile and donate the rest.
  4. If you’re feeling anxious about parting with some of your clothes, take a deep breath. If it makes you feel better, keep some of the pieces you’re feeling anxious about but put them in a drawer or separate part of your closet. See if you miss them a few weeks later and if you do, add them to your capsule wardrobe but chances are, you won’t miss them and then you can donate them!
    • I also want to express that sentimental items deserve their own place! Items like your wedding dress, your favorite college hoodie and state championship volleyball tee deserve their own drawer or box. While these aren’t items that you’ll want hanging out in your capsule wardrobe space, they are important and certainly do not need to be donated for capsule’s sake so honor them by giving them their own sentimental space.
  5. Once you’ve managed all of your piles take a long, hard look at your keep pile! This pile defines your personal style and is so important to discover so *clink* cheers to you for making this most important discovery about yourself! This knowledge will help you purchase better pieces in the future. Did you find that you’re a neutral lover? A pattern lover? Perhaps you thought cropped shirts were a good fit for you, but it turns out that none of those made it into your keep pile…don’t buy any more of them no matter WHAT the ads say! When you get serious about your capsule wardrobe, you are going to feel like a million bucks no matter WHAT you grab out of your closet every morning and THAT is such a great feeling!

Hey girl HEY! You did it! Honestly, doing the closet sweep is the hardest part so you are well on your way to being a capsule wardrobe expert! But before we start sorting your ‘keep’ pile into your seasonal capsules, here are some quick FAQ.

  • Q: What about my workout clothes?
    • A: Your workout clothes are exempt from your capsule. Now, that being said, be honest with yourself here! Every season I have at least 2 pairs of yoga pants that make it into my capsule for days that I just want to wear yoga pants. However, when I actually head out the door to go to yoga class, those yoga pants come from my workout clothes drawer. See the difference? Keep your cute athleisure in your capsule and your workout clothes in your workout drawer. Same rule applies for jammies.
  • Q: What if I want to go shopping?
    • Heck yes! Just because you’ve adopted a capsule wardrobe does not mean your shopping days are over. My best rule of thumb? Once you’ve hung up all of your ‘keep’ items do NOT buy any more hangers. When you treat yourself to a new blouse-use the new blouse to replace a blouse currently hanging. This will genuinely help answer that question ‘do I really need that?’ Psst-every season I aim to cycle between 33 items of clothing but I always start each season with a few empty hangers to allow a little room to ‘add to cart!’
  • Q: What’s the point of having a capsule wardrobe?
    • For me, it started with my desire to live more minimally and sustainably. Nevermind that I was so tired of having to fit my mom bod into my pre-mom wardrobe. After having my children, my body and my lifestyle had changed. No longer could I look or feel beautiful in the clothes that had defined my early 20s and the self esteem crash that occurred every time my skinniest jeans didn’t button was something I no longer wanted to feel. I also, of course, watched a documentary that opened my eyes to the reality behind fast fashion. By fast fashion, I’m referring to the design, manufacturing, and marketing that focuses on rapidly producing high volumes of clothing made with low quality materials and selling them inexpensively to the public. A quick google search can help shed more light on that, if you’re interested. But by spending more money on fewer high quality pieces, I’ve found I feel beautiful no matter what I grab out of my closet and that’s been a huge WIN for me. Quality over quantity. I also LOVE supporting small businesses (bonus points for women run slow fashion businesses) and I can only afford to do this by making careful purchases every now and then. I also LOVE supporting brands that make and source their clothes in the good ol’ USA. Some of my favorite places to shop include @polishedprints (toss a mom crop into your cart, use code KELSIBAILEY for a discount and prepare to throw all your other tees away…trust me) @everlane@mate_the_label, @TheFlourishMarket, @aerie (considered more of a ‘fast fashion’ brand BUT i love their body image message and their items are often more,  affordable so I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shop there from time to time), same goes for @gap and finally, I love @beyondyoga for my workout goods! You can start yours for WHATEVER reason and shop wherever your little heart desires. Perhaps you’re looking to spend less time ‘getting dressed’ in the morning. Perhaps you’re overwhelmed when you open your closet. Perhaps you merely want a little challenge. There is no right or wrong reason!
  • What about shoes? Accessories?
    • Shoes count! I try to select 2 or 3 pairs of shoes per season. My running shoes don’t count! For instance, in the summer season I typically select my chaco sandals, a pair of birkenstocks and a wedge sandal for a little fun 😀 Accessories don’t count!

It has been a really fun and challenging (in a good way!) journey and I would love to hear about your experience if you take the capsule wardrobe plunge! Drop some thoughts in the comments or send me a message via my contact form-I would LOVE to hear from you!

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