In the fall of 2015, I decided to give a capsule wardrobe a try. I had a lot of clothing in my closet that I was either ambivalent about or simply didn’t wear much (this despite working through the Konmari method earlier that year). I’d read about the capsule wardrobe concept before, from blogs such as Un-Fancy and Project 33, which promote trimming your seasonal wardrobe to just 37 or 33 items, respectively.
One of the reasons why a capsule appealed to me was that I tended to shop a bit too much, buying clothing that was just OK, but not really great. A wake up call came when I looked back over my bank statement and credit card statements and added up the actual amount I spent on clothing over the course of a year. It wasn’t a pretty sight. With the capsule concept, you’re limited to shopping for clothing just four times a year, if that many (it’s likely that the items in a capsule from one season will work perfectly in the next or that items from last year will work this year). My spending on clothing has decreased in the months since I’ve started the experiment. I’ve also noticed that I’m less interested in looking at the latest arrivals at my favorite shops and that I’m now more interested in items that will last longer.
Which brings me to the second reason why a capsule appealed to me: guilt. Fashion isn’t exactly the most environmentally friendly industries and fast fashion is particularly terrible for the environment. It’s not only the vast amount of resources that are required to produce all the clothing we wear, it’s all the vast amount of waste involved when a lot of that stuff ends up in the trash, and the human cost, in terms of the people who are put in dangerous conditions each day sewing garments that we ultimately don’t care about. Although I can say that I don’t shop at fast fashion retailers (H&M and the like), the mid-level clothing companies I shop from and even the higher priced so-called designer items I occasionally splash out on aren’t exactly exempt from the system.
I know that there is no one easy solution to the fashion problem. But, sticking to a capsule wardrobe and being more conscious about my shopping choices will help me to be more aware of what I’m wearing and the impact my personal choices have on the world around me, and better for me from a financial perspective.
Working with a capsule lets you clearly see what clothing items “spark joy” and which ones don’t. For example, in the fall, I had a knife-pleated skirt from J.Crew that I once thought I loved. After having it be one of the only five skirts I could wear for three months, I soon learned that I hated the skirt. It was tricky to style and whenever I wore it I felt it looked unflattering. It made me feel self-conscious about my hips, and really, no one needs that. At the end of the three-month fall season, I ended up selling the skirt.