Closet Chronicals

Thoughts About a Capsule Wardrobe

In the last week or so, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to have a true capsule collection. Is there a magic number? When is a collection complete? What do I need to have in my collection? Is it a wardrobe, or is it a capsule wardrobe? Let’s discuss.

My choice jewelry. Pearls belonging to my great-grandma, a handmade necklace I made for my wedding, and a pass-along necklace I got from my mom who got it from my aunt. Capsule jewelry, anyone?

What Is It Generally? What Is It For Me?

When I started this blog, I was attempting to solve the problem of “what do I wear today?” and thought a small collection would be the perfect solution. Having discussed this for almost a year, and made numerous shopping mistakes, I have come to see that a capsule collection meant having a small collection of clothes that create a uniform that is easily mixed and matched. I haven’t considered how many items I should have, and I seem to be working under the assumption that shopping for clothes is not a once in a while project.

This week, I read the article “You’re doing the ‘capsule wardrobe’ wrong” in Fashion Magazine, and learned that the original concept was coined sometime in the 1970’s with the idea of having:

a compact wardrobe made up of staple pieces in coordinating colours–usually in the realm of 30 items or fewer, including shoes and sometimes even accessories.

The writer, Kelly Dougher, suggests that when we define a capsule wardrobe as a rotational collection – meaning, different clothes for different seasons – we might not actually be following this original concept: See this post by Susie Faux for more details about her concept.

What Is It For Me?

I think that’s probably why I’ve always considered my collection to be capsule-esque: While I have some items that I plan on wearing year round, I don’t think I’ll ever avoid having clothes that only fit a particular season. Cashmere sweaters are just for winter, and I simply won’t wear my Cuyana silk tops by themselves in the middle of our freezing winters. I might layer them with a cashmere sweater, though. I’ll certainly use all cardigans in the summer.

Ultimately, I am looking for a collection that sparks joy. That, by itself, means I’ll own a limited amount of clothing since it turns out that I am super picky.  I find that I tend to purchase multiples of the same item (two identical black shirts, for example) when I finally do find something I like, I’m really brand-loyal but I don’t buy everything that brand makes, I’m a fabric snob, and I’ve recently turned to ethical fashion. Does this mean I’m doing it wrong? I think so.

When Will It Be Complete? What Do I Need In My Collection?

This is a question I play around in my head a lot. What does it mean to have enough? How will I know I have enough? How do I resist the urge to make shopping into a sport? Meaning, I truly want to avoid shopping for shopping sake. So, I think I will be reverting to my usual solution: the spreadsheet!

I think the best way for me to avoid spending my budget willy-nilly is to actually plot a wardrobe course, and work towards it. Defining what I want to have over a span of a year will actually mean I make purchases based on that goal.

I’ll share my Numbers spreadsheet (and a version of it in Google Sheets, too) as soon as I nail it down.

Finally, An Interesting Read About Personal Style & Conspicuous Consumption

Making that spreadsheet also means thinking about my personal style. That is something I feel has evolved so much in recent years. I’ve been really moving towards more classic pieces and fitted tailoring, but I also fight the urge to dress like I am in my late 60’s.

Interestingly, some people embrace this tendency. Read about that here. The article mixes the idea of dressing rich with the idea of a calculated “under the radar” look reserved for old (albeit rich) ladies, and the choice to pursue it.

As mentioned in the article, I too  struggle with the idea of looking rich by choosing a specific look reserved for people who are not me, and often wonder if that’s what I have been subconsciously doing? Meaning, do I attempt to signal to the world that I am something that I am not by my wardrobe choices? So… Is my love of  buying various Hermes goods something that I do for me, or is something  choose to do for a conspicuous consumption sorta thing? I am going to hope for the former.

What is your personal style like? Have you considered starting your own capsule collection? Are you already at it, and doing it wrong/right? Do you think you Please share your thoughts in the comments below. 




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