I've been dressing out of a capsule wardrobe for several years now. It came about gradually; I wasn't even conscious of building it when I first started.
In this post, I will describe how I came to embrace a capsule wardrobe and the path I'd taken to get here.
It started as a whim
It was fall of 2012. My bedroom closet was tiny and full. As a self-styled office fashionista, I loved wearing new things to work. I bought new clothes every month.
I don't know what inspired me. Perhaps it was the limited real estate in my small closet. On a whim, I decided I will only buy dresses from now on. No pants or skirts. It was an experiment of sort. I remember announcing it on Facebook. I rationalized it as having twice as much space in the closet, (dresses cover both upper and lower body) and making half as many decisions in the morning (because you don't need to worry about matching the top and the bottom.)
I didn't get rid of pairs of pants and skirts right away. I continued to wear them until they were worn-out. I was still shopping often, but now I was limited to buying dresses, matching cardigans, blouses and blazers.
I love fashion, but I must admit that it can get overwhelming. There are thousands of way to show your individuality. There are too many choices. Having a rule made shopping easier and more enjoyable.
Evolving from dresses only to black dresses only
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About two years after I started buying dresses only, I came up with another rule.
I was going through some changes during this period. Our family bought and moved into a condo, and one of my colleagues had become abusive towards me. I had decluttered before we moved, but I kept finding things that didn't quite match our new place once I unpacked all of the boxes.
So I started decluttering. In hindsight, it was an attempt to gain some form of control over an uncontrollable situation, i.e., colleague. Around this time, I learned about dan-sha-ri, which means refusal, disposal, and separation. It's a Japanese version of decluttering based on the Buddhism non-attachment.
I've never owned a lot of stuff and I've always had a low threshold for clutter. But I still crossed that line once in a while and went on a yo-yo diet of accumulating and decluttering stuff. This time, I wanted to end the vicious circle of decluttering. I was determined to not to gain any more clutter.
The dresses-only wardrobe was working. But I was still shopping more than I needed. I needed a more strict rule to prevent myself from stuffing my closet. So I thought, why not buy black dresses only from now on?
Capsule wardrobe is always changing
It's been more than two years since I introduced the black dresses only rule. I relaxed the rule a bit to include gray and black&white patterned dresses. I still own a flower-pattern dress that I bought over two years ago.
I've added more rules as well such as to buy travel-ready clothes only which are made of thin material, often a blend of polyester and elastane. It's my dream to travel more in the future, so I'm getting ready for it now. There are only about four shops that carry these types of clothes in town, so gone are the days when I spent hours in a shopping mall checking every single clothing store in it.
I love my wardrobe now. I wear all of the clothes regularly, and I wear the majority of them throughout the year. My small wardrobe can cover different activities from attending a classical music concert to hiking the gorgeous trails in Nova Scotia. It's functional and versatile.
I still cheat and buy a scarf or other small accessories to freshen up my wardrobe when I feel like it. When I get tired of them, I donate to a local charity.
The key to a successful capsule wardrobe maintenance is to be flexible. You're always changing, so your wardrobe should reflect those changes. Also, it's good to remember that you will never attain a perfect wardrobe. I aim for 70% or B- because that's good enough.
The spillover effect of capsule wardrobe building
Though I became serious about clutter-free living a few years after I started to design my capsule wardrobe, it has definitely helped me to stick with the lifestyle.
As I continued to live without clutter, I started to notice intangible clutter that permeated my life. As I mentioned earlier, I went through a tough time at work. That incident served as a trigger to examine how I felt about my work.
I will write another entry to explain what happened, but long story short, I ended up quitting my job. And I may or may not blame my capsule wardrobe for that.