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Why I Quit My Capsule Wardrobe

capsule wardrobe

Way back in August when the weather was warm, I decided to experiment with a capsule wardrobe. I incorporated guest posts and explored my shopping habits, then sat down and listed all the items I wanted to include in my fall wardrobe from memory. Only problem is I never actually started. 

Why the capsule wardrobe didn't work for me:


I have no idea what to expect weather-wise from day to day in the Mid-Atlantic region! I mean, in the last month, we had a week in the 50s and then things got back into the high 70s. We had 4 days of fog and then weeks of sunshine. I cannot possibly put that into a capsule - it would be insane. Rather than making life easier, the thought of starting a capsule was making me anxious. I've worn sandals and boots with wool socks in the very same week. And you know what? I love this transitional weather and I don't have time to reach for some wardrobe ideal. I'm too busy taking in the last bits of warmth and enjoying cold weather gear that's been packed away for several months.

I also had a lot of trouble finding the last few perfect pieces for my capsule. I splurged on the Everlane Street Shoes, but the fit wasn't quite right. I tried my darndest to find a maxi dress, but then I realized I don't even like maxi dresses. Often the thing you think you want doesn't make sense once you get it home. My life - and my tastes - are fluid and my wardrobe needs to match that.

What I'm doing now:


I have been wearing more than half of what I listed in my capsule on a regular basis. After all, they're things I love. I also managed to sell a few hundred dollars worth of old clothing on ebay, so I was in good shape to fill in my wardrobe. I have a short term memory when it comes to cold weather - I'm a Floridian! - so I am finding that there are a lot of things, like jackets and sweaters, that I could stand to add to my wardrobe. I hadn't even considered that when the weather was still warm. So I've stocked up on some thrifted cashmere sweaters and long sleeve shirts, added a scarf, and purchased a pair of secondhand boots on ebay in addition to taking advantage of the J. Crew Warehouse sale here in town. Things are shaping up in a way that actually makes sense and I'm making full use of my wardrobe.

There's always going to be tweaking and analyzing to do, but I'm happy with the way things are going. Considering a capsule was a great way to remind myself that I don't have to buy things just because they're on trend or on sale. I can take pride in what I like and what I wear, even if it may not embody the zeitgeist.

If you're thinking of doing a capsule, great! But do consider the practicality of it before you go all the way.

A summary of my obstacles:


  • Transitional/Varied climate
  • Eccentric tastes
  • A poor grasp of what I'd actually need in the upcoming season
  • An insistence on perfection instead of progress
  • Resistance to hiding away parts of my wardrobe

I think capsules work for some people (read Andrea's guest post for an example), but I don't think they're a long term solution for most people. Unless your wardrobe is super minimalist and you have a very good sense of seasonal weather, a capsule may actually make things harder.

Photo: Joel Penner on flickr; Creative Commons License. Color editing and cropping added by me.

1 comment

  1. I think capsule wardrobes sound interesting, but I have some of the same problems. I live in the Pacific NW, and that means that from day to day right now, it could be rainy, sunny, foggy, or a mix--the day can start out sunny and move into rain or vice versa. I don't usually need heavy-duty winter wear, but we do get the occasional snowfall in the winter. Winter tends to be cool and damp, and the weather during spring and fall contributes to a need for layering. I do have summer items that make their way to the back of the closet or the bottom layer of the drawer during the rest of the year, but things like skirts and tank tops that are great summer wear layer nicely with leggings and long-sleeved shirts for the cooler months.

    I also don't have the kind of storage space available that a capsule wardrobe seems to require. I don't have the kind of bed that offers room underneath, and I share the closet with my husband, the Christmas decorations, and a few other random things. The thought of all the rearranging I'd have to do to make a capsule wardrobe work isn't appealing.

    One thing that thinking about capsule wardrobes has done for me, though, despite having no intention to build one, is that I have been more thoughtful about getting rid of things. Some of the clothing that I've hung onto for years for no real reason has made its way out the door at last. Other items have gone up out of reach to see if I miss having them easily accessible, and if I don't, it's easier to get rid of them once I've gotten used to them not being there.

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