The average woman owns 95 items of clothing and only wears 59 percent of them regularly, according to a study in the Great British Journal. I know for a fact I have way more than 95 items stuffed in my cluttered closet and just the other day, I had a heap of old worn out jeans come crashing down on me. I needed to confess it: I was a shopaholic. I needed a wake up call.
A capsule wardrobe was first coined in the 70s by a London boutique owner Susie Faux when she created a collection of key essential items of clothing that were both timeless and seasonal. A capsule wardrobe typically contains 37 pieces for each season.
Thirty-seven? I’ll admit, I probably own more than 37 jumpers alone. After doing some more research and joining some minimalists Facebook groups, I challenge myself to wear only 10 items for the entire week. This is coming from the girl who sometimes changes her outfit midday out of pure boredom.
To prepare for my week, I speak with capsule wardrobe queen and blogger of A Small Wardrobe Patricia. She says: “A small wardrobe relies on versatile items that can be worn in a number of different ways. You can build your wardrobe around colours and patterns – the key is to limit the palette to a few colours, and work on building that versatility – in other words – make sure you can match lots of different things together.”
I decide that I would mostly incorporate black and white and add a splash of red and yellow, two colours I wear often. Patricia says she probably has about 33 items in her closet overall, which leaves me craving more wisdom. How could she not get bored with her closet?
“Many women love to experiment with fashion, and with so many new trends appearing weekly, it’s hard not to! Unfortunately, this is how people end up with huge wardrobes. My tip is to figure out what looks best on you, what feels most comfortable, and what is most authentically ‘you’.”
To help me, I invited my friend Caroline Allison over to choose the items for me. Allison declutters her closet every year and is a part of a minimalist group on Facebook herself, so I thought she would be perfect for the job, unlike me. I carry an emotional attachment to my cheetah printed jumpsuit and my distressed mom jeans. She picks out staple pieces that clearly show versatility, such as a black fit and flare jumpsuit and a white chiffon button up top. They both embody the minimalistic feel that Patricia evokes in her wardrobe.
On my first day, I play it safe and comfortable with my red knit sweater and straight legged jeans as I mostly spend the day lounging around at a coffee shop and taking a stroll down to Waitrose. Day one doesn’t seem anything out of the ordinary.
Cue the creativity. Today is bold as I sport my leather leggings with the white blouse and plaid blazer. This, believe it or not, is so outside my comfort zone. I would normally swap out leather leggings for a tame pair of black skinny jeans and a white blouse in favour of a plain black tee. I’m wearing four out of the 10 pieces, so I’m not sure if I put too much in one look. But somehow, I find myself putting my hair in a little updo, and I feel like Blake Lively from A Simple Favour who rocks three piece suits and shiny oxford heeled shoes. All I’m missing is my martini glass.
Tuesday with a Twist
Today feels like a revelation. I took Patricia’s advice and decide to experiment regardless of any preconceived notions. Although both my yellow cropped sweater and formal jumpsuit are both baggy, I throw the rules out the window like she told me to. They’re an unlikely pairing, but they work harmoniously. I go to get brunch with a friend and she mentions how much she loves the “athleisure” look.
I’m not going to lie. I’m so cold this morning and the only viable option is the red knit sweater for a top, which I lazily pair with black leggings and my printed boots. Don’t get me wrong, my outfit still looks put together. I realise that I maybe should’ve chosen a more cohesive colour palette because I can’t possibly pair yellow and red together without looking like a hot dog. Fashion blogger Joi Smith did a spring pastel-coloured capsule wardrobe in 2017, and I’m envious of the endless pairings she came up with as she rocked ethereal mint green skirts and blush-coloured coats.
I’m feeling the rut. I wear my white blouse with the blue jeans and my boots. While I appreciate the silhouette that I normally wouldn’t rock, I don’t feel inspired at all by the look in all honesty. The white blouse is really starting to annoy me too. I’m not sure how a clothing piece could possibly annoy me, but it is. Patricia told me she’s human too and splurges from time to time and she advises me to write a list of clothes I want to purchase at the moment and walk away from it. Chances that I would still want the pieces in a few weeks are slim. I write down a fur vest, a turtleneck dress and another pair of boyfriend jeans.
A Fresh Friday
I decide to stop moping around and try a new look as I pair my yellow jumper with leather leggings. I really like the sleek outfit as I pulled back my hair and rocked a sporty look. It feels very ‘me’ but with an edgy twist. I suppose what I’m learning through this process is that the phrase “I have nothing to wear” is clearly wrong. Anyone can purchase the latest jeweled jumper from Topshop, but there’s something to be said about taking pieces you already own and making them feel new again.
I wear my jumpsuit with my blazer, which both happen to be my dressiest pieces. But hey, it was Saturday. Why not look regal? It is quite a preppy look for me, but I decide to wear it with a casual braid and sneakers for a more relaxed look. I try wearing the jumpsuit with my white blouse underneath, but I’m starting to feel triggered from that blouse. All in all, I’m excited to reunite with my wardrobe but feel proud for accomplishing the task.
I’m not going to lie. I’m not sure if a capsule wardrobe is for me.
But I’ll tell you one thing. I won’t be shopping for a while. I return back to my wish list from Thursday that Patricia told me to write down and realise I didn’t need any of the listed items. The 10 items I wore allowed me to think a bit more creatively than I thought. While I was a bit frustrated by the end of the experiment, I did rock some pretty innovative looks. All the energy I usually put into finding the latest trends was manifested into trying to make do with what I was given, and it worked. Now, to tackle decluttering my closet….To learn more about building capsule wardrobes, visit Patricia at https://asmallwardrobe.com/
Red Knit Sweater: H&M
Yellow Polo Zippered Jumper: H&M
Black Wool Coat: Misguided
Floral Printed Boots: Charlotte Russe
Black Leather Leggings: H&M
Distressed Boyfriend Jeans: H&M
Black Jumpsuit: Marshalls
White Blouse: H&M
Plaid Blazer: Forever 21