Late Summer 2008.
I was newly married, starting fall semester as a new communications major, and had just landed my first internship in public relations at a major advertising agency in Salt Lake City.
It was also the time I first discovered Anthropologie.
Our offices were located right next to a large, outdoor mall, the kind that’s warm and captivating in the summer, but freezing and a bit disenchanting in the winter.
I remember my first time crossing the street with my coworkers to get lunch there and feeling so grown up. I was a young, creative professional. And I couldn’t wait to dress like it.
Working late hours quickly became common for me, and I didn’t mind because I was seeing myself for the first time as a career girl. The thought of creating myself from scratch was energizing and I wanted to perfect every aspect of my personal brand.
But more than the work I stayed late for, I remember the aroma of Volcano candles and Abercrombie cologne (Matt’s go-to at the time that made me weak in the knees) as I walked from the building to my car. The summer air was hot, daylight still present, and I was constantly lured across the street to shop the blissfully unique Anthro threads before heading home.
The truth: I couldn’t afford it.
The lie: I needed all of it.
This is when my love for creating unique outfits truly began. I had never shopped anywhere with so many one-of-a-kind pieces. I saw myself differently when I wore Anthro clothes. I received endless compliments and, with each purchase, loved building a brand new me.
Fast forward 9 years.
Hundreds of blog photos taken, thousands of items purchased (and returned), tens of thousands of dollars spent, a new baby, a new purpose, a new focus, and my wardrobe is ready for a change.
Not just my wardrobe, but the entire way I approach shopping, dressing and presenting myself.
As I’ve been working through all the things that have held me back for so many years — the perfecting, the numbing, the self-criticism — I realized I’m not only ready to let go of my fears of not being enough, but I’m ready to align my whole life around my top values.
And overspending, over-accumulating, over-dressing aren’t my top values. They’re not even on my list of top 100 values.
So what does this mean?
It means the capsule wardrobe is my new best friend.
Inspired by the minimalist lifestyle, Who What Wear explains the capsule wardrobe as “a mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you totally love to wear.” Each season (spring, summer, fall, and winter), you clear your closet except for a set number of pieces to be in your capsule wardrobe.
For most, the golden number is between 30-40 items, but it varies by season.
Your capsule collection is made up of a combination of items you already own and love to wear, as well as new, quality items that you can shop for once a season.
What’s that you say about 30 items?
As a fashion blogger, the thought of narrowing my wardrobe down to 30 items nearly gave me a panic attack. I remember a phone conversation with my friend Lauren a few months ago when she first introduced me to the idea. I knew then that a change was coming, but I never expected it to include this.
For better or worse, my approach to style the past 5 years consisted of three things:
- Buy unique, regardless of price or quality;
- Maintain an enviable color selection (inspired primarily by J.Crew catalogues to which I attribute the majority of my uncommon color pairings); and
- Save everything! You never know when you might need it for an outfit shoot < insert eye roll here >.
Not only did this method completely confuse my personal style (buying and wearing outfits just “for the blog” yet not in my every day life), but it forced me to live in fear of ever parting with my purchases.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to list something on eBay and stopped myself for fear that I’d regret it as soon as I saw someone else wearing the item I had just given up.
I don’t know if they call that “seller’s remorse,” but I call it scarcity mentality. And it’s completely inauthentic to the person I want to be.
Simplify, simplify, simplify.
The capsule wardrobe is exciting for me because it’s simple. It allows you to be honest with yourself about what to buy, what you’ll actually wear, what you really need, and eliminates the chaos of overconsumption. Simplicity always breeds creativity for me and a capsule wardrobe is exactly the foundation I’ve been needing to start showing up with authenticity (one of my top 5 values).
This is just the beginning of where the fashion side of my blog is heading. In future posts, I’ll be sharing:
- How I’m letting go of the clothes I never wear (and how you can, too);
- How to build your capsule collection;
- What’s in my fall capsule wardrobe;
- How to transition your capsule wardrobe for winter; and
- Best places to shop for quality (and affordable) capsule wardrobe staples.
I’d love to know what else you’re interested in regarding simplifying your wardrobe or your shopping habits.
And don’t be shy. I can spend and shop with the best of ‘em. But I’m excited to share how practical — and still fun! — a capsule wardrobe can be.
Have you heard of the capsule wardrobe? Ever considered it, but afraid to take the plunge? Let me know what you think in the comments!
It’s something I’d try myself too.
So glad to hear! I think it’s totally doable. It’s a mindset shift. 😉
I’m excited to see your capsule wardrobe journey! I’ve been considering the same… maybe it’s time for me too?
Have a great weekend! ❤
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
Thanks, Charmaine! It’s a big change from how I’ve been living the past 5 years, but I’m super excited for the simplicity. Can’t wait to hear what you think. XO
I love this. I am a stylist for Stitch Fix and ever since starting there I’ve noticed my interest going more towards a capsule style. I see so much consumption in clothes that it really made me think of my own habits. I follow Caroline Joy at http://www.un-fancy.com. She’s a fabulous minimalist dresser. Good luck! I’m excited to follow your journey.
Thanks for the encouragement, Marcelyn! It’s crazy, the day you commented, my co-worker also introduced me to Caroline Joy. She has amazing style! Can’t wait to hear more of your thoughts. Thanks for sharing your experience with me (P.S. my sister loooves Stitch Fix).
I am excited to learn about this! My wallet and hubs are, too! LOL
Love this, Emily! I was trying to explain to my husband what a capsule wardrobe is, and after reading your comment, I’m realizing I was saying it all wrong. Capsule = fewer clothing purchases = money in our bank account! Lol. Thanks for the laugh. 😉
I absolutely love this! I can’t wait to see future posts on a capsule wardrobe. After having a baby myself, I just want to be comfy. And I have soooooo many pieces in my wardrobe I don’t wear. I am excited to get some new inspiration for how I can simplify my wardrobe as well.
Thanks, Kailyn! I couldn’t agree more on being comfy!! Can’t wait to hear more of your thoughts.
Thank you for sharing!! I’ve been working on paring down my wardrobe. It has helped in the amount of time it takes me to pick out an outfit and helped to lower the stress around getting clothes ready for the day ahead.
I love hearing that! Thanks for the encouragement, Jessica. I’m still narrowing mine down and it’s scary at times, but I can already feel the weight lifting. 😉 xo
Thank you!!! There are so many blogs that I have followed for many years that started out with dressing for everyday and items that the everyday girl could actually afford. Then the blogs got popular and sponsored and I could no longer follow because so many of these women were buying and wearing things that I couldn’t afford and it became a popularity contest with who could wear the most expensive things and get the most likes. I stopped following them due to those things. Clothing is meant to be functional and make us feel good about ourselves. It’s not a competition. Be true to your style and more women I believe will continue to follow. I know I will:)
Brie! Mee toooo! Thank you for not being afraid to say that. I have definitely felt the same way and if I could go back and change all the times it influenced me in a negative way, I so would. But I also recognize that that’s part of what’s lead me down this new path and I couldn’t feel more excited because I truly feel authentic. Can’t wait to hear more of your thoughts!
A beautiful outfit and superb shoes 😉
Thanks so much!
Wow that sounds interesting! I really want to try but I don’t think I can do it, lol
Anyway, nice outfit and I love your shoes <3
Thanks Meliantha! I still say that to myself. Lol. It’s definitely a lifestyle change for me, more than just a wardrobe fix. Would love to hear more of your thoughts as it unfolds. XO
I’m totally into this concept and I’m really excited to have more info based on your experience
Thanks so much for your support! It’s a big change for me, but I’ve never felt more excited. Can’t wait to share more and hear your thoughts. XO
Ugh! I wrestle with this concept all of the time! But it scares the crap out of me! I’m afraid that if I give something up I’ll “need” it and regret parting with it! It’s just an excuse I know! I’m so excited to follow you on this journey! As I know its time for me to do the same thing!!!
So excited for this! I know I need to simplify my wardrobe & curb my retail therapy habits. But it seems so scary – and I totally get that seller’s remorse! Looking forward to future blog posts on this & hoping I can adapt the capsule wardrobe as well.
Amanda, I think you hit the nail on the head with the phrase “scarcity mentality.” Like, will I be bored with a more limited number of options, and then regret parting with so many things? And for me, I start thinking about the money I spent on items, even if it was on sale or clearance, and I don’t want to let it go. It’s not easy but once you start, it definitely does become EASIER. Although I am in no way a minimalist or anything close to it, I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe and actually starting the process of adopting one myself. I bought all wood hangers to make my items I do have and decided to keep feel special and wanted, if that makes sense! Almost like a boutique feel, saying you made the cut! And slowly but surely, I am sorting and selling or donating. It’s so refreshing and somehow, it makes you feel lighter. Thank you for the post and your insight! But I would say keep the buffalo plaid! 🙂
I can’t wait to hear how this goes. Thinking I should do the same.
It has been the best thing ever! Just posted a new blog on the process of cleaning out my closet. Let me know what you think! xo
Good for you! In a world full of excess it’s nice to see someone paring down. I did this as well and it definitely makes finding something to wear for work easier. If you like Brene Brown Ted Talks, I would also recommend Graham Hill founder of Treehugger. He’s a minamlist and I find his talks really inspiring.
That’s so good to hear! It’s been scary to let go, but I got my capsule pieces back in my closet over the weekend and it’s hard to describe how good it feels to look at everything and love ALL of it. 😉 Thanks for the TED reco. I LOVE TED Talks and can’t wait to watch his. xo
I am a minimalist, i wear it and mix it until i tear it, i keep it simple but thats just who i am and wouldnt change it, i dont like clutter and the same goes for my wardrobe, less clutter less anxiety. I am so happy for you and love your posts.