creating a capsule wardrobe

How I Created My Capsule Wardrobe

Last week I told you how I’d ruthlessly cleared out my closet in order to create a capsule wardrobe, and today I’m here to share with you the secret of how I did it. It’s this:

You just have to hate everything you own.

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Hating everything you own makes it super-easy to create a capsule wardrobe, because you basically just pull everything out, then get rid of it. (Responsibly, obvs.) That’s what I did. Because I’d reached a point in my life where I didn’t actually like anything I owned any more — with a few notable exceptions, almost all of which turned out to be leggings and other types of “athleisurewear”:

leggings and sports bra by Lovall

This set was sent to me by Lovall last week (It’s the Ultimate Seamless Leggings and matching bralette), and I’ve worn it at least three times since it arrived, along with the Everyday Pullover Hoodie from the same brand:

loveall leggings and sports bra

This is the kind of thing I wear almost every day, for the school run and working from home. Thick, high quality leggings that hold everything in, don’t turn see-through when you squat in them, and don’t have to be pulled up every few seconds. Soft, snuggly hoodies that have handy little interior pockets (So, a pocket-within-a-pocket, basically) that you can carry your car keys and phone in. Sports bras that are comfortable enough to wear all day, but which you can still go out for a run in without having to go and change.

lovall seamless bralette
grey sweatshirt
sports bra and leggings
cropped grey sweatshirt

The basics, in other words: but such high quality basics that they don’t actually feel “basic” at all. And that’s the main principle I’d like to apply to the rest of my capsule wardrobe, too.

  • Simple basics.
  • Quality (which isn’t always the same thing as price), that makes them a joy to wear.
  • Colours and styles that work with everything.

When I was clearing out my closet last week (Can anyone read that line and not think of Eminem, by the way? Or is that just me?), I basically got rid of everything – with the exception of a couple of “special occasion” dresses I wanted to keep – that didn’t fulfill that criteria. And, like I say, that was pretty easy for me, because it so happened that I hated almost everything I owned, which made it very easy to get rid of.

But what if you don’t hate your entire wardrobe, Amber? What then?

So, I think there are a few principles you can apply here if you don’t dislike everything you own, but you still want to pare it down to a workable capsule.

First of all, I’d advise you not to just lose everything that doesn’t “spark joy”, no matter how many times you’ve read that advice on the internet. Because something like a pair of jeans, say, isn’t necessarily going to “spark joy”, but that doesn’t mean you won’t wear them constantly, does it? Similarly, I’d avoid all of the articles that suggest you follow some kind of checklist of “the 30 things every woman needs” or whatever. Most of those lists are based around telling you to buy things like trench coats, and ‘crisp’ white shirts, for instance, but if that’s not your personal style, or – just as importantly – it doesn’t fit your lifestyle, then you’re not going to wear it, no matter how “classic” it is.

Instead of all of that, I have a few basic questions I always ask myself about each item, and I’ve made a handy flowchart to illustrate them for you:

clearing out your closet to create a capsule wardrobe

I know: fancy, right?

The most important of these questions are the second two. If I wear something regularly BUT I don’t actually like wearing it, or feel uncomfortable in some way in it, it goes, even if it was the only pair of jeans I owned. Because, honestly, I’d rather not have any jeans than keep on wearing ones I hate, just because I can’t currently find anything better. At the same time, if I don’t wear something regularly, but really love it and can imagine myself being excited to wear it if the right occasion came up, I’ll probably give it a stay of execution, at least for a little while. The key word here, though is excited. If I’m just thinking, “Well, I suppose I might wear it if I was invited to a wedding,” but I don’t feel any particular enthusiasm about that then out it goes: because the reality is that if I was invited to a wedding, I’d go out and start looking for something new, rather than just wearing the thing that’s just OK.

For me, it was that simple. I didn’t complicate things by imposing rules about “if I haven’t worn it in X months” or “if it doesn’t go with at least 3 other items” – I just went through my closet asking the questions in the flowchart, and what I was left with was my “capsule’.

Oh, and I did this twice.

Because, the first time, I just thought I was being “ruthless”. The second time, though, I actually WAS ruthless, because, by then, I’d realized how much of the “don’t like it/don’t want to wear it” stuff I was still left with, and, honestly, it was annoying the life out of me. Seriously.

So it’s been just over a week since I did this. So far, I’ve added one item back into the closet (from bag I’d set aside of things to be Vinted), but I’ve also taken a couple more out, so balances out. (Oh, and I bought a pair of jeans on Vinted, but the jury’s still out on whether or not I’m going to keep them, so…) It’s obviously still much too soon to tell if I’ll stick with it, but, so far, I’m happy. I feel lighter and more organised. I can see all my clothes, and don’t have to rummage through things, or try on a dozen different outfits before I leave the house. And, almost every day, I still wear leggings and a hoodie…

creating a capsule wardrobe

P.S. I write a lot about my thought process around buying clothes (and trying not to buy clothes) in my Diary of a Shopaholic series over on Substack, so take a look here if you’re interested!

P.S. I write a weekly diary which goes out every Friday to my subscribers. Sign up below to get on the list...

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