Why I’m giving up the Capsule Wardrobe

giving up the capsule wardrobe

This probably won’t come as much of a shock; I’ve been teasing for the last couple months that my capsule wardrobe journey was nearing its end, but after four weeks of travel (and then some) I’ve decided to officially call the capsule thing quits.

For me, the capsule wardrobe journey was largely about defining my personal style, becoming more aware of what I do and don’t like, making more conscious purchases, and wearing only the things that I love, every day. As someone who used to have at least three parcels land on her desk every week, defining a limited wardrobe for a season (or even a month) gave me less excuse to shop mindlessly, and placed more of a focus on enjoying the things that I do have (rather than the things I wish I had). A new season wasn’t an excuse to buy new pieces for my capsule, instead I’d make do with what I had, adding in the odd new piece here and there, and what became evident was how frequently the same garments would keep popping up.

It’s never quite been about minimalism (even though my style is minimalist, though that’s another discussion for another day), but more a tool to help manage and tame some behaviours which had really started to get out of hand.

I’ll never be the girl with only 50 items in her wardrobe
I still remember when I first discovered Dead Fleurette; her entire approach to her wardrobe was methodical, if not somewhat poetic, and I became hooked to the idea of trying to whittle my wardrobe down to just one of all the essential pieces. I’d write lists, on lists, on lists of what I needed to have in my wardrobe, and cull any duplicates (with much regret). In some ways, it was a goal of sorts to cut down to that magical number of 50, and be left with a carefully curated closet which was just p-e-r-f-e-c-t.

I’m definitely under no illusions to quite how mad that sounds, and it didn’t take me (too) long to realise that I was never going to be that girl. I wanted to have fun with my wardrobe, and I also wanted to have options; sometimes just one black skirt doesn’t cut it.

I guess what I’m getting at here is… a capsule wardrobe is at its strongest when you have a tightly edited and complementary wardrobe: it’s basically second nature. My closet typically sits around the 100 item mark (maybe more since my trip to New York) and while I do edit it back from time to time, those garments aren’t spread evenly across each season, meaning that I often went a full 12 months without wearing something due to being limited by what was in my capsule.

I wasn’t wearing all my most loved pieces all the time
Call me an optimist, but I’d convinced myself that a capsule wardrobe would mean I would be wearing what I loved – and only what I loved – day in, and day out. In practice, it didn’t really work out quite like that… With a limit of just thirty items a season, it made a lot more sense to go with the ‘safe’ options in my closet, the ones that I knew would work well with everything else.

It probably goes without saying, but sometimes your most loved wardrobe pieces aren’t always the most practical. Maybe they only look good worn a certain way, or are only reserved for special occasions (but you’ll wear them on a plain ol’ day just ‘cos) or maybe it just never fit into your ongoing colour palette for your capsule wardrobe. For me, this meant things like my Hope grand sweater (quite possibly the biggest and snuggliest sweater I own) or my Lover rosebud lace skirts (which I’ve since parted with).

Sometimes a girl just wants to have fun
If you follow rules to a tee (and believe me when I say you totally don’t have to when it comes to your style!), then you’ll know too well how rigid and limiting a capsule wardrobe can be. Selecting thirty items for three months based on your predicted knowledge of your needs and how the weather will react is pretty easy to get wrong (it’s happened to me more than once!).

Even more so than that, is that sometimes you just want to have fun and mix it up a little. Play around with new silhouettes, introduce something new to your wardrobe, or try pairing two unlikely favourites to see how they look. As much as a capsule can ‘expand’ your wardrobe’s horizons, I found that I experimented a lot less and mostly stuck with what I knew, which has made a lot of my go-to combinations and silhouettes feel a little stale.

It stopped giving me joy
Finally, this was what really was the last straw for me. As with anything new, at first, I found the capsule wardrobe experience exciting, a new challenge that I could take on which had me looking at my closet with fresh eyes. But after a few years of carefully planning my seasonal wardrobes, I’ve increasingly found it to be a chore, and my lack of enthusiasm and perhaps desperation for something new has had me feeling like my wardrobe is a little old and tired (though don’t get me wrong, I do love everything I have!).

In a way, I felt like I was beginning to resent the capsule and the pressure I was placing on myself to actually continue with the process of something that I’d originally pursued because it gave me joy. I tried to mix things up a little and create new challenges for myself but what I found was that it made me realise just how much the capsule wardrobe was no longer working for me.

When I think about the transformation to my wardrobe and attitude towards shopping over the last three years, I’m truly astonished. I used to be the girl who once knew Net-a-Porter’s entire inventory by heart (just about…), who would go out of her way to avoid wearing the same outfit twice, let alone on repeat all week! These days, I have a much more measured approach; I make a considerable effort to think through my purchases, and have no qualms wearing my favourite sweater five days in a row if I feel like it.

And trust me when I say, that isn’t going to change.

10 Comments

  1. Sophie September 10, 2016 / 11:48 pm

    The capsule wardrobe idea is an interesting one, however, I would never have the self restraint to pick only a few pieces!

  2. Jacqui September 11, 2016 / 1:46 am

    Very well said. I’ve had a similar journey with the capsule thing, and realized that I already had way too many items in my closet to unnecessarily parse it down to 30-50. I do agree, though, that the exercise of articulating your style is important. I am much more conscientious about what and how much I buy these days, opting for ethical brands and pieces that I know I’ll wear over and over again. But the pressure (borderline obsession?) that goes along with a strict capsule lifestyle just isn’t for me!

    Jacqui

  3. Chrissie Dyson September 11, 2016 / 8:55 am

    Absolutely understand where youre coming from. I find with clothes, books, music and makeup that I like rediscovering them. I am also quite fickle and like to do different looks. Ive been trying to discover ‘my season’ colour palette but having nailed it feel that its all a bit blah. As for Parisian chic I have given up on trench coats – they make me feel boring and dowdy. Probably should refrain from buying any more stripey tops…. As for button down shirts and crew neck sweaters – tedious in the extreme. Go and have some fashion fun 😊

  4. Lina Cantillana September 11, 2016 / 5:25 pm

    Hi
    Ive been watching your vlog for a while and really liking every post.
    I have recently been shopping at softgoat for cashmere garments and loving it. It’s a small Swedish company that’s reasonably prised for the loveliness they design. Thought I share it with you, as this company not only makes amazing quality clothes but also have an ethical approach. Hope you will love it as I do. Haha sounds like I’m payed to write this. I’m just loving the quality, colours and the small details on their basic items. And the icing on the cake for me is that the showroom is here in Stockholm. Letting me browse all the new things in before purchasing.
    All the best
    Lina

  5. Sam September 11, 2016 / 10:03 pm

    Un-fancy copycat.

    • jamie-lee September 13, 2016 / 7:48 am

      I did my first capsule back in 2012 – it wasn’t a new concept then either, Project 333 and 30×30 were well established. I never took it on with the intention of doing it forever (or actually with any set notion of how long I would do it for), and lately I’ve realised it’s just not for me. Sorry you think I’m copying another blogger – each to their own, right?!

  6. Carolyn Ramsay September 12, 2016 / 9:12 pm

    I think you are correct about the capsule wardrobe. What is the point in having a closet full of lovely items you don’t wear. It was a good gimmick but time to move-on. Xxxc

  7. Justyna September 12, 2016 / 10:40 pm

    In my opinion the capsule wardrobe thing is great to find your own style and reflect about your shopping behavior. When i made a capsule wardrobe for the first time i was totally flashed about it and euphoric about how easy it is to get dressed in the morning. Or when you need to get ready quick. It happens much more less that i feel frumpy or displaced with my outfit. But i realized i have never stopped looking for THE perfect item. THE perfect sweater. THE perfect dress. So the whole day i was busy with scrolling trough the online shops and looking for these items. I can´t remember being online shopping that often before my capsule wardrobe challenge. I don´t buy everything but i´m constantly searching. As i began to realize that, i realized also that my capsule wardrobe will never be “ready”… as my mood or the season changes my taste changes too. First i tried to do a capsule with grey, white and black shades and blue as signature color. I was looking for THE perfect blue sweater which i didn´t find. Than i got sick of the grey color…so depressing and boring…i turned to beige tones. And than i don´t wanted blue anymore. Now it´s orange and lilac. And now i´m a little afraid of buying something because my mood could change again and lilac would be too lilac or won´t match my new preferred color. So now i´m at a point to think about if the capsule wardrobe thing is still something for me. And if i should always feel guilty if i buy one top more than i need or when i have more than two signature colors in my wardrobe. But quitting the capsule wardrobe could mean that i would have tons of loved clothes in my wardrobe i do not wear because i have to much. Or i´ll forget about them. I didn´t come to a conclusion.

  8. Chun September 17, 2016 / 7:30 pm

    I’ve been watching your youtube videos for quite long time.

    For myself, I like the idea of Project 333 or capsule wardrobe. The reason I like it is because: I tried to have more clothes when I was at university and enjoyed to have different looks, but I found myself end up getting exhausted at doing laundry and it was not easy to move house. I don’t have many clothes/shoes now. I have around 20 pieces per season but I made it up to 30 by different kinds of jewellery :P. I have a small collection of gemstone jewellery.

    I like your style and have fun playing with different pieces for the new season 😀

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